Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Luckily My Children Show Such Patience for Me

So its official, I am annoying HSB to no end and he is just about threw with me. For his birthday we got him the Kinect attachment for his Xbox 360. The nice thing about it is that the entire family can use it. So hubby went and bought the exercise DVD that goes with it. Thought it would be good for everyone and especially those of us with an over 50 tuchas. Now the only problem is that I am getting very confused about how to start the program. It is not like a regular game.

You have to log on to your account in Xbox and then go over to the Kinect. For those who don’t know what Kinect is, it is where you use your own body as the controller. It is really kinda cool because the device recognizes your movements and tells you when you are not using the program properly. When you use the trainer program it tells you how you are standing, how your arms are positioned and whether you are keeping up properly. It is really like a personal trainer in the house…ok not exactly like a human trainer but close enough for us right now. It is better than the automated telephone program when you call with a question to your bank and they put you through computer hell…here at least you can finally get to your destination without having a stroke. Which is a good thing being that it is an exercise program and causing yourself injury is not the intended purpose.

But I have to tell you I can’t figure out how to go from signing in, to the program. I invariably call HSB to come help me. The first few times he seemed ok with it, but now I think he wants to trade me in for another mother. Ok, he has wanted to do that for along time now, but this inadequacy on my part is just adding fuel to his fire.

So I had him help me today when he came home from school to set up my Skinny Jeans program. Don’t get excited, I will fit into a pair of skinny jeans after and not before the Second Coming. It just sounded like the nicer routine to do and it has a lot of exercises that I was familiar with. Once the program was all set up and HSB was exiting the basement, instead of telling me to have fun, he said to me…. “Knock yourself out.”

It was not a wish for me to have fun, but a castigating attitude that he has to put up with someone such as myself. When I was done with the program and I even figured how to end the program and put the Xbox back to its dashboard I went upstairs to tell him it was his turn to use the Kinect. Well when I called him, he turned to me, in that my-mother-is-such-an-idiot-tone-of-voice and went “What can’t you do now?”

I surprised him and told him that it was his turn to use the Xbox. “Oh,” he said. No apology for his attitude or his tone just got up and went about his business. I have to admit I felt sort of vindicated that I didn’t need him anymore for this toy and that I was able to close out of it myself. Now starting it up again may be a different issue tomorrow, but we will see. I will try when he is at school and see what happens.

In the meantime I have come to the conclusion, as his special education teacher told me, that I have a real full-fledged teenager on my hands. Complete with attitude, hormones and an obnoxious attitude that you just want to throttle the stinker several times every day. I know this is developmentally normal, and normal is a good thing in our household. But it doesn’t make it any less aggravating when he thinks he knows everything and rolls those big brown teenage eyes at you as if to say “God take me away from here.”

I remember a time when those beautiful brown eyes looked at me with such love and affection. Those eyes thought of me as the center of his world. Of course I know he has to separate from me or how could he ever hope to move on in life, never mind find a female counterpart. I just wish he didn’t have to be so damn condescending about it. I wouldn’t mind the separation on his part. If your child doesn’t go through that it is a developmental problem. It’s the rude, shitty attitude that gets me really annoyed. Don’t’ worry my feelings aren’t hurt, I tend to get pissed off, which is also not a good thing and not a good way to parent either. So I try to ignore the attitude and let hubby deal with it when he gets home. HSB has so much more tolerance for his father, so I let hubby go for it.

I had dealt with something very similar with collegeman, but not so obvious. Collegeman would just rail against me in the other room when he lost patience with me. Not that I couldn’t hear it and sometimes he did get in trouble for the names he called me, which always seemed to surprise him that I could hear him. I know its that modulation issue he has, but when you go into the next room, in a very small house and yell that your mother is a “bitch,” why he wouldn’t think I could hear that is beyond me. On the other hand, HSB is very out in the open and very diligent about letting me know I am a boil on the backside of his world. Lucky me. 

But I have hope for my relationship with HSB. Collegeman is three years older and he does now let me kiss his forward when he is sitting quiet and he even has taken to hugging me every once in awhile when I make his favorite food. We tend to have a gentler relationship than we have had in years and he does seem to be handling everything with more of an even temperament. Except of course when he deals with his brother and heaven forbid HSB disagrees with him on anything. Nope that is not a good thing there and the boys can really go at each other…ok I know siblings and brothers. This too shall change, as their relationship progresses and changes every day as well.

Meanwhile, collegeman is definitely very determined to do things his own way a lot of the time. When I tell him to fix something or organize his backpack in a certain way, his retort is “Well, I don’t tell you how to live your life.” You know most of the time I just let it go, except when it is something that may actually make life harder for collegeman. However, on another note, an interesting thing happened the other day with collegeman, which is something that I thought we were going to get away with.

You know the stories about how when your college student comes home and something some professor has taught them, changes their views on the world, even though it really makes no sense outside of school. So yesterday collegeman confronted us about something having to do with our politics, which is generally his politics. It turned into that classic argument that the parents are idiots and since he had read a book he knew everything, because he is in college defense. He told me that his professor wanted him to open his mind to other possibilities than how he originally thought. That is all well and good, but what makes the professor think that her version of thinking is better than ours, or that she wasn’t the one who had to change and open her mind up a bit to our way of thinking. According to his professor it seems it’s not nice to imprison terrorists under military law and that the military guards in the prisons are evil. By the way, this is supposed to be a history class, not a modern politics class. (Nope she is not some long-haired-hippie-anarchist-tie-dye-wearing-Berkley wanna be. The woman happens to be my next-door neighbor and lives in a bigger house than we do.)

It was a doozey of an argument I will tell you that.  I swear I thought I was living a cliché at the moment that this was all going down. I know for a fact it annoyed hubby because this morning when hubby went to wake collegeman up for school, he turned to me and announced that he was going to wake up the “ubber liberal.” I have no worries though, collegeman was back to himself today railing against his favorite political targets as usual.

Meanwhile, I am waiting for the latest stage in HSB’s development to reach its climax and go to the next area of development. I am hoping that the next stage is to have more patience for his elderly Luddite mother who only wants to be able to boogie off her tushie with the help of modern technology. Perhaps along the way collegeman can relearn a little patience for both hubby and myself, recognizing that with age comes wisdom, that there is more to knowledge than reading a book and getting As; and that his old crotchety parents actually do know what they are talking about, even more so than his professors.

Until next time,

Monday, November 29, 2010

Happy Hanukkah

This Wednesday night marks the beginning of the Hanukkah festival.  It is the story of Judah Maccabee and his brothers who led the first known war for religious freedom. Here's just a little modern music to get everyone in the mood...


h/t @themitzvahbowl for the video

It's amazing how some things never change...what pissed off the Maccabees 2200 years ago is that some idiot in power decided to tell the Jews that their holy sites (here, here, here) and their capital Jerusalem didn't belong to them. Go figure....

By the way, for those that don't know, the miracle of Hanukkah is that when the Maccabees went to rededicate the Holy Temple there was only enough oil to burn in the Eternal Light (the symbol of God's continuity) for one day. However the Light burned for eight days until more oil could be brought to the Temple. So in commemoration of the miracle of the oil, Jewish people worldwide eat potato pancakes (latkes) or jelly doughnuts (sufganiyot); foods fried in oil. In our family we tend to opt for the doughnuts.

For a little more serious post on the holiday check out Liberty's Spirit, but have no fear even Liberty's Spirit ends on an Adam Sandler uptic.

Chag Hanukkah Sameach...Happy Happy Happy Happy Hanukkah.

Until next time,


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Dolphins Through the Looking Glass

I couldn't help myself with this video. Sometimes you just have to let go and see the joy in the world. I do have one question however, why would such creatures that have no malice, evil or hatred in their souls, but thrive on love and kindness, want to lower themselves to be more like humans? Isn't it hubris to think that we are the ultimate intelligence on the planet, when we treat each other so poorly? Personally I think we need to strive to be more like the dolphins....but hey that's just me.

Until next time,


cross posted at Liberty's Spirit

Friday, November 26, 2010

Autistics in the Army: Not Ours but Israel's

Here is an interesting article I came across about the inclusion of autistic teens into an army. No not the US army but the Israeli Defense Forces. (Heck the US army can't deal with the fact that gay people may be serving in our armed forces, of course that is not a problem for the IDF and hasn't been for decades.) If you know anything about Israel, the army is a major entrance way into adult life. Dan Senor writes in his book Start Up Nation that it is the army experience and respect for the army in everyday Israeli life that has contributed to the economic miracle that happens to be Israel. (Senor contrasts the attitude of employers in the United States to those in Israel. Unfortunately and sadly ironic, the experience that American soldiers have had in the armed services tends to be held against them in this nation.) So to find a way to include autistic teens into the Israeli army is just another way of including them in the life blood of the country. Meanwhile, here in the US our Congress still can't decide whether its illegal to abuse an autistic child in school..

Notice how at the end of the article the IDF has actually trained personnel on how to help and work with the autistic individuals under their command. There will be job coaches with the teens as well. Considering how we have to fight here in the US to just get our children the services that they need, as well as end up bankrupting ourselves in order to help our children, it is nice to see that somewhere out there autistic individuals are seen as worthwhile human beings.

It is also apropos that the largest research center for autism related disorders has opened in Jerusalem.
From YNet News Nov. 25, 2010 - Zohar Pe'er, 21, was one of 10 young men to make history Monday by becoming the IDF's first autistic soldiers. After a short recruitment ceremony, the new soldiers will head to various equipment bases to begin volunteering in their workshops.

"This is great," Zohar, who generally does not express much emotion, whispered as he prepared for the big day. His mother agreed, saying she was waiting expectantly to see her son in uniform.
In recent years the IDF has been enlisting into its ranks more and more diverse populations. A few months ago Yedioth Ahronoth reported that youths suffering from mental disorders can volunteer as well.

The most recent change in policy was brought about by Leah Rabin Middle School in Petah Tikva, which caters to autistic teens. The teachers, who believe their students have much to contribute to the state, appealed to the IDF with the suggestion.

The army decided to take the school up on its offer, and visited the school in order to learn of the special treatment needed for autistic teens. Meanwhile, parents toured the equipment bases at which sons are to serve.

"We learned up close how to communicate with autistic people and cooperate with them so that we can properly escort them through their army service," Captain Moran Cherney-Cohen, who chairs the Central Command's volunteer department.

Meanwhile, Cherney-Cohen says the IDF is prepared 
to welcome its new recruits. "In addition to professional trainers who will accompany them during their first days, there will also be officers who underwent special training with them at all times," she explained.  


There is no question that we in the United States can do better by our children and we need to find a way to make our elected officials realize their own ignorance on the matter. Ideas are welcome.

Meanwhile, as anyone who reads my tweets, blogs or posts knows I am unabashedly pro-Israel. I think this is not just because I am Jewish but also because Israel is unabashedly pro-US. Here is a wonderful picture from the Thanksgiving holidays. No it is not a picture of the US troops in Afghanistan eating turkey and stuffing. But it is a picture of some turkey eating out of the Middle East...

Just in case there are those who don't understand the close relationship between the US and Israel here is a picture of American-Israeli soldiers celebrating Thanksgiving in Tel Aviv at the Lone Soldiers Center.

Tell me what other army would grant leave so their soldiers could celebrate the national holiday of another nation?


Meanwhile for anyone who has a bug up their butt about Israel and happens to read the anti-Semitic drivel coming out of the UN, the EU and the Islamic world remember the UN at the urging of the Islamic bloc just passed a resolution that it is just fine and dandy to kill someone because they are gay. Here is also a link to a past post I wrote about Jew hatred and Israel, and how it relates to our autistic children, make sure you scroll down to the videos at the end. It is interesting how the dehumanization of persons is endemic worldwide. It is also important to remember that hatred usually starts with the disabled and ends up chewing up everyone else in its path.You can also read my other blog Liberty's Spirit for some more information on the subject.

Until next time,


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Psychiatric Showdown, Not Quite the OK Corral

I finally had that talk with the new psychiatrist about collegeman. He had implied in all of our meetings that collegeman could not pursue the education he wanted because of his autism. Whether it was telling me how law school is too social for collegeman or that he should really seek a job in computers where he wouldn’t have too much social interactions, the doctor seemed to be pushing my child away from his dreams. Luckily he had not said any of this to collegeman. My son is the type that if he had any quandaries about what he was doing then a person with authority telling him that he can’t do something would set him off his path. The question for me was how to get the doctor to understand that his paradigm is not acceptable to us where our children are concerned. If you have learned anything about us from reading this blog you would know that the one thing that hubby and I do not hold to is the fact that our children would not be allowed to do something that they would find fulfilling because someone, somewhere decided that because they had autism, that that precluded them from following their dreams. At the same extent we are also of the mindset that having autism does not give the boys a free pass either. It is not one or the other you see. These concepts are just different sides of the same coin.

I tried to be very non-confrontational, ok for me it was non-confrontational; truthfully I have to say that I was a little nervous. You bet I stayed awake at night for weeks trying to figure out how to discuss this issue with the doctor without burning any bridges with the psychiatrist. I tend to act more like the Earps at the OK Corral where my children are concerned rather than a seasoned diplomat. 

Honestly apart from the job issue this new doctor has been wonderful for both boys. He did hit upon the right medicinal cocktail for HSB and changed up things for collegeman as well. HSB has just had the best report card ever (4 As, 1 B and a C in history, but that C kind-a wasn’t HSB’s fault, well sort of) and collegeman has been outgoing, jocular and even has taken to hugging me when he likes what I am making for dinner. He has even let me kiss him on the forehead from time to time, when he is sitting and watching his videos. So I wanted to get my point across without pissing off the doctor.

Lucky for us this doctor is definitely even keeled. I did say how wonderful things have been for the boys but that we were concerned about some of the things he had said and that we needed him to understand our position when it comes to the boys. I told him that we reject the old paradigm that says that the boys have to be geared toward computers or non-social jobs. If it is collegeman’s desire to go to law school then we are going to find a way to make that happen. (It isn’t that the school will bend to collegeman as much as we think that collegeman will need to learn to function properly in law school. )

I also told him that I also have had discussions with the career counselor at school to discover what other options are available for collegeman with his interests. If law school is the way to go for him, as opposed to a PhD in history, then that is what he is going to do. But since hubby and I exist in our own little sphere and acknowledge that we don’t know all that is available to collegeman, perhaps she could come up with some ideas. But we want some direction that would end up in a job. An expensive education that would land him a job as a cashier at McDonald’s really is not a worthwhile endeavor either. I continued to explain to the psychiatrist that collegeman is talking to the career counselor and they have had several meetings about his interests and his future already. It is not something that has to happen ASAP, just before next summer when he has to decide whether he is going to study for the LSATs or the GREs. I also mentioned to the counselor that in the meantime if she could help find a summer position that would be the icing on the cake.

Collegeman has had several jobs and absolutely loves to work. She was quite nice and even happy that I explained to her what our goals were for collegeman. I am sure that most parents do not call her and I told her that I was trying to avoid calling, but that I wanted to make sure that everyone was on the same page as far as he was concerned. No point in wasting everyone’s time. Having already had had the heads-up from the disability director about collegeman’s issues, she didn’t mind the phone call and welcomed the direction and a little more explanation about him. I have found through my interactions with most of the people at collegeman’s school that if something is not going well its not for a lack of trying on their part but more from a lack of understanding. (OK except for the Dean of the Drama school and that one art teacher, but no place is perfect.) As with most everyone at his school, she was quite pleasant.

Anyway, back to the psychiatrist…. he actually became rather apologetic. He said that he didn’t mean it the way I took it. Honestly, perhaps he didn’t but it doesn’t matter now anyway. He understands not to tell collegeman he can’t do something if that is what collegeman wants to do. We did discuss some plans for collegeman and what will be happening in the next semester. I told him about the upcoming meeting with the disability director to see just what is going on in the classroom with collegeman and how to make him more independent. You know the need to facilitate those little pesky necessary executive functioning skills needed for life. So we will establish a plan for collegeman and then we will see how it goes.

The psychiatrist also mentioned that we are not really doing anything different than what any parent needs to do for their child. Any parent needs to understand who their child is and help push them in a direction that will make them happy. I have to tell you, I really like that. He did mention that there are so many avenues of law that there has to be one that collegeman can find that suits his personality that he doesn’t have to be one that goes into court. I said being lawyers we know that, except the thing that collegeman wanted to do was to work in the prosecutor’s office or for The Innocence Project.  (Psychiatrist got a really quizzical look at that point.) I said that collegeman being collegeman if that is what he ends up doing then he will find a way to function. But the truth is there are wonderful appellate lawyers who research and write briefs that change the direction of law and add to the civil rights in our society. There is much that collegeman can do if he wants to change the world, we just need to find out where his path will take him, that is all.

The psychiatrist did mention that we do need to have several plans in place for collegeman. That I already know…Plan A doesn’t always work with this child and Plan B sometimes doesn’t come to fruition either. You always have to have several more Plans and directions just in case. But I also told the psychiatrist that we can’t make a plan dependent upon who collegeman is today. He is so different today than he was a year ago that who knows how he will be next year at this time or when he graduates from college. We need to allow him to pursue his goals and plan for that as his future. Meanwhile we will also be realistic. Its not that collegeman will not be ready for graduate school, but rather who says he will be accepted into graduate school? Stranger things have happened to people. (Of course any graduate school that would not take collegeman, is not run by very smart people in my opinion anyway) So we will plan and we shall see what the future holds.

In the meantime, the psychiatrist understands us; how we think and how we approach our children. This is a very good thing in my book. The doctor needs to respect you as the child’s parent. The doctor needs to understand that you may not always agree with them about your child, and the doctor needs to understand that when you reject their advice it isn’t personal. This I like. This psychiatrist just moved up quite a number of notches on my ladder of respect. I actually slept a little easier last night…onto the next issue…. that C in HSB’s history class… not good, not like him at all. History was the one class that came easy as pie to HSB. Need to figure out what actually happened (OK did have a talk with the teacher and his case manager already) and make sure he, and all his support, is on track the way it should all be too.

Nope, it never ends.

Until next time,


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Just Singing' and Dancing' In the Rain with an Umbrella

The wonderful Gene Kelly in Singing in the Rain...

The lovely Rihanna....

Now the wonderful Glee team....

for those that don't get hulu...here

How much fun.

OK I admit it, I've become a Gleek...but how could you not?

Until next time,


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

War On Autism Services in New York State

I just received this letter from the Autism Action Network. It is an FYI for all families with children on the spectrum living in New York State. Interestingly how we are the most taxed state in the Union but somehow they decided our children don't deserve services.

Sent: Mon, November 15, 2010 9:17:05 PM
Subject: Article 200 autism education regulations are gone

Dear All:
I attended the Meeting of the Board of Regents today in Albany with Mike Smith.

Despite acknowledging hundreds of phone calls and emails and dozens of letters of opposition from various organizations from our community, the Regents voted the article 200 regulations into extinction - some actually chuckled while doing so. These regulations offered at least some protections for our children for speech services and class size and gave parents at least some degree of support in CSE meetings.

These regulations are now gone, dismissed with a wave of Regent Chancellor Tisch's hands.

The disdain was not universal; Some - like Chancellor Emeritus Bennett - expressed concern stating "I am very concerned that we are reducing services...I also fear that we are upsetting the balance of the relationship between parents and CSE chairs.  Regent Chapey - who has a back ground in speech, language and hearing - also stated openly that there was no research that supported reducing speech services to those with autism.  Further, Regent Cofield stated "There is distrust - We are not dealing with the distrust that people feel in the CSE process."

Some Regents like Nassau's Talis and Westchester's Phillips voiced support for the changes saying districts would take care of the families and would not cut services.
But, in the end, the Regents voted unanimously to cut speech services. Then some basically said that parents could use due process and "handle it that way." One Regent indicated that children with autism use up all the services leaving nothing for other children.

In the end, Chancellor Tisch simply stated that districts need flexibility. They voted with her. Chancellor Tisch and the Regents have green lighted school districts to cut speech to people who - in some instances - can't talk. Our children were not viewed as children with needs; they were viewed as "unfunded mandates."

I spoke to a few of the Regents - Chancellor Emeritus Bennett for a few minutes. He suggested that he was open to establishing a committee to focus on autism and connected me to an outraged member of NYSUT. My conversation with Mr. Phillips was not pleasant. I told Harry that he just did the wrong thing and he has no idea how badly he and the Regents have hurt families with autism.

Mike Smith and I spoke to the Albany Press. Later in the day, I spoke with a reporter from Newsday.

All of us who have had struggles with our children's CSEs know what is now going to happen. In this budget environment, it will likely mean the elimination of most speech services and stretching autism class rooms to the max - risking the safety of our children.

The New York State Education Department has walked away from our children. It is time to fight back.

I ask all of you to put this out on your lists and let our community throughout the state know what has happened here.

More to come.

Louis Conte
Autism Action Network

They think everything can be taken care of in a due process hearing. Of course this is much more cost effective for the districts. Now families  have to choose between suing the district  or providing services for their children. Which would you do, sue the district while your child falls further behind or provide services on your own? I guess those property and state taxes we pay don't really mean much. I wonder what is the amount of all the perks the legislature/Board of Regents and governor enjoy and how many children could receive speech services from those monies.

Oh and before you think this is a Sharon Angle moment, the government of the State of New York is decidedly democratic and it was the democratic governor who vetoed the autism insurance bill. While this will not effect my boys at all, everything at this moment comes out of my pocket for collegeman and HSB only has 6 months left of high school then I start to pay for all of his support too (yes extraordinary debt is a way of life for us), this is going to be devastating for so many families in this state. My hope is that the autism advocates in New York State can get the legislature to reverse these decision by law. But it is up to each and everyone of us to work towards that goal. It seems it doesn't really matter who is in control politically, our children are poised to get the shaft.

Until next time,


P.S. You don't have to like some of the stances of the people at Autism Action Network, the issue presently is the actions of the Board of Regents, the legislature and the governor of the State of New York.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

After The Dx: Sadness or Terror? I Think Terror With Alot Of Pissed Off Thrown In

I would have to say that the worst time in my marriage was before collegeman as diagnosed. No one had any idea what was wrong and no one offered any solutions that made any sense. Hubby and I were at odds about what was wrong and how to handle it. I do know that if there had not been a diagnosis and if things had continued in that downward spiral my marriage would have faltered. You cannot continue to raise children and not agree on how to do that. You cannot continue to live in a marriage when there is no acknowledgement of a problem. You cannot continue to be with someone who doesn’t agree with anything you do or say. So luckily for us, collegeman was diagnosed and we figured out what needed to be done to help him. So contrary to all those statistics that tell you that an autism diagnosis will doom your marriage…it actually saved mine.

Interestingly too, of all the people that have gotten divorced, that I know, none of them had special needs children. The people that I know who have divorced actually are people who outwardly seem to have no real issues in their lives. Their children have “typical” issues; their marriages and lives are on the “typical” trajectories. Why people divorce is varied and private, but I reject out of hand that having a special needs child dooms your own relationship. Even on the show Parenthood they preached that nonsense that 80% of all families with an autistic child will eventually break-up. What having a special needs child may do is make the cracks in your relationship more apparent but in the alternative what it also does is strengthen those bonds that were there from the very beginning. If you had a strong center before your child was diagnosed that center will strengthen, if there were problems before hand then it will make those problems worse. I don’t know where that 80% comes from, but truthfully I reject it out of hand.

I know that that is what happened with us. Once we knew what collegeman’s diagnosis was, I knew what had to be done and so did hubby. Our goal was as it should always be, to save our child. The truth is that had been the goal all along, but we just had no idea what to do and how to do it. But as far as we were concerned once collegeman was diagnosed, we had a goal. We weren’t quite sure on how to attain that goal, but we knew what had to be done. We knew we had to move out of New York City. That had been a nightmare on both the private and public school front. I have told the story of the district director in my town that helped us and basically took us by the hand when we moved to our little hamlet in the country (read here).

We were truly lucky to find the help that we did for collegeman and then later for his little brother HSB. This help has enabled them to see the future for what THEY want it to be. Whether collegeman goes to law school or find some other way to better the world, or HSB uses his love of video games and media to also better the world is something they are going to have to decide for themselves. But they have the ability to make that decision and the right to make that decision as well.

Now I will not say that everything over the past 28 years, yes 28 years of marriage, have been rainbows and butterflies. Even though in many respects it has been great. There are always bumps in the road. Every real marriage has bumps from time to time. The secret is to work on the bumps and overcome them together. Truthfully for us the issues always were even when you know what has to be done for your child, it’s the getting them done that can be hard. But when you have a partner who sides with you and works with you and holds your hand when it needs to be held, then you know that the battle is mostly won.


(apologies to those who can't view hulu.com)

I even say that about the diagnosis. That once you find out what the issue is you have the battle 90% won. It is trying to come to grips with what is the real problem that causes so much consternation and trauma. But then what do you do with the feelings you have once the diagnosis is official. You have a sense of relief for certain. But you also have a tremendous sense of sadness. Does it make you a bad parent that you are so sad about who your child is?

I believe that we all have dreams of who are children are going to be. I remember when collegeman was little and very outgoing, especially with the cute little girls, I would actually dream of his wedding day. I know its silly, but I have heard mothers of daughters start to plan their children’s wedding practically from the day they are born. It is not so much the concept of wedding as it is the concept of life’s milestones. I don’t know why I dreamt of weddings instead of bar mitzvahs; but that was where my head was. I suppose I was thinking that one day someone special would love him. Immediately upon hearing the diagnosis I stopped having that dream and haven’t had it for the past 15 years. I don’t know if I ever will have that dream again. It is not that I don’t hope for someone so amazingly special for both collegeman and HSB, it is that milestones are very different in our world and they take on a different tenor and timetable.

So that is one reason that you can be sad. The hopes and dreams change and they actually become so very basic. (Read here.) What you even hoped for for yourself changes. Your life and your goals are different. Your wants and needs are different. You live outside the society in which you are raised because no one really understands what you are going through. The people that you thought were your friends are not and the relatives that prided themselves on being family disappear or worse think they know what to do with your child offering unsolicited and ignorant advice then getting mad that you don’t’ listen to them. The stress is tremendous. The lack of support is tremendous and the ignorance that you deal with on a daily basis, no matter where you go is tremendous. You bet you are sad. You bet you are angry. You bet you are just so pissed off you want to hit that creep in the supermarket. (Here)

You know what, its OK. It doesn’t mean you don’t love your child. It doesn’t mean you don’t love your spouse. It doesn’t mean that you are a terrible parent. What it means is that you are human and that is something you need to remember. So don’t forget about yourself when it comes to getting help too. Find the time to talk to someone who understands; who is not judgmental. Someone who knows what it is to raise a special needs child.

The Psychiatric community talks about the diagnosis and dealing with the realities as a period of mourning for the child that you thought you had. I reject that notion. We are not mourning the child we thought we had. That child is right there in front of you. You are mourning nothing. I think therapists don’t truly understand sometimes the realities that we face and use outdated and unrealistic paradigms in viewing the world. There have been so few studies actually done about parenting a special needs child that the psychiatric community takes what it knows about “regular parenting” and extrapolates from that. I think they haven’t a clue. Of course, they think they know everything and one thing I have learned is to be very darn sure to also think for yourself. There are too many egos involved in the psychiatric community and to many professional reputations on the line. Honestly I think the powers that be loose sight of what they are supposed to be doing and that is finding the right answers, not necessarily what they think the answer should be.

You see you are not mourning your child, what you are, is terrified and pissed off. There are so many unknown variables in the future that you have no idea what to expect. You don’t know about therapies and which one will or will not work. You don’t know if you can afford everything your child will need. You don’t know how to accomplish the goal. Quite frankly, you are terrified that if you don’t give your child a particular therapy then that is the one therapy that would have changed their lives for the better forever. This is not about being sad. Psychiatrists have no clue. It also doesn’t help when you have to battle with them too. (Yes, I am having issues with our new psychiatrist. We are going to have to have a discussion with him next week. I will let you know if he is still our new psychiatrist when I am done.)

So don’t worry if you feel “sad.” Don’t worry if you feel angry. It is normal. It is just fine. But do deal with those feelings. Try to work through them. It is not good to walk around with everything hold up inside you. It doesn’t do your marriage any good either. Plus unlike the television character in Parenthood, if you flatten the asshole in the supermarket, you will get arrested for assault. Even if the moron deserved it.

Until next time,


Friday, November 12, 2010

On Death and Dying

I received a call today from a friend of mine asking me a rather simple question for which I had no simple answer. How do you deal with death when your child has an autism spectrum disorder? She asked me if I had a book I could recommend and the truth is that I didn’t. In truth we never actually turned to a book when we were faced with the prospect of death in our family. We actually just took the situations as they came and dealt with them the best way we knew how.

Honestly the first time we faced death in our home, was when collegeman was three and HSB was a newborn. My mother-in-law had been diagnosed with lung cancer and it metastasized to her brain while I was pregnant. We did not live near her but about one hour away. My sister-in-law, who herself had very small children at the time, was left to tend to her divorced mother basically alone. She dealt with it all and so did my niece and nephew who were 5 and 4 at the time. After HSB was born we were able to see my MIL a little more and spent several weekends visiting. I remember that she had a pond in her backyard that had Canadian Geese that lived there.

Well, of course my MIL hated birds and in fact was deathly afraid of them, so it was quite ironic that she had an entire flock of geese behind her house. So because there was a phobia about the birds when we went to visit the birds fascinated collegeman. He just couldn’t get enough of them. So being a grandma, she and collegeman would go out behind her house and feed the birds for as long as he wanted. Now the funny thing about the birds was that they loved Frosted Flakes. I know the Obama obesity police would probably have me investigated for geese abuse for feeding them this sugarcoated cereal, but collegeman loved to feed the geese. What I actually think he liked the best was that hubby would feed the geese and yell, “watch out for the goose poop.” Yep like all boys, he just loved the word “poop” and then attaching it to the word goose, made it rhyme so he would let out a really loud giggle, and collegeman liked the word combination too.

It was a truly nice memory, sadly, shortly after that my MIL became bedridden and it was a short matter of time before we lost her. Now how did this effect collegeman when she passed? He was only three and we are not quite sure that he actually understood what was happening. Truthfully we did not know at the time that he was autistic and apart from some speech delay there was no real indication outwardly.

The children that were effected by my MIL’s passing were my niece and nephew. They had been very close to their grandmother and it was a terribly upsetting event for them. In fact I remember, my nephew who was 5 at the time, got upset because collegeman wanted to play a video in her house after she passed. He grabbed the video out of collegeman’s hand and starting worrying that his cousin was going to destroy it. I tried as much as I could to explain to him that it would be OK, but he would have none of it. A 5-year-old boy had just lost his beloved grandmother and the pain in his heart was so very raw. I know without question that my SIL did what she needed to do for her children. Just as any loving parent would do. But I remember my nephew so very frightened that that videotape would be lost the same way he had just lost his grandma. Have no fear; today both my niece and nephew are wonderful kind and caring young adults. Of them I say, as Shakespeare would say of Juliet, “He who takes hold of her (them) will have the chinks.” *

We worry so much as parents of special needs children that events in our children’s lives will affect them so differently than their neurotypical peers. But I really don’t think so, not all the time. I have seen it first hand. A child’s love of their grandparent can take them to a world of hurt, but they recover. They learn what death means, and that it is part of life. I think that death is a hard concept for anyone to understand. For a young child it is just so much harder. To know that you will never lay eyes on someone again. To understand the concept of mortality, in fact to understand the concept of your mortality is what can overwhelm.

Now when did collegeman actually begin to understand death? I think it began in 3rd grade when his great-grandfather died. We had seen my grandparents yearly since collegeman was an infant. I thought it was something important to have the generations together and to have a relationship. He did not see them a lot, nor talk to them, but he thought of them all the time. When my grandfather did die we had to tell the school to look out for any behaviors that may occur. I think they forgot because apparently collegeman had been acting up and quite angrily in fact, and they did ask if anything had happened at home. Honestly it turned out OK, because they made sure to give him the extra attention he needed and he did get used to the idea that ‘Zayde” was gone. We would visit “Bubbe” without Zayde being there and what collegeman and HSB came to understand that this too is part of life.

Again I do not know how much collegeman understood about death at the time. I knew that he understood that Zayde was gone. HSB it didn’t really phase too much. Being only 5 at the time, he didn’t seem to attach himself to the concept of death. It wasn’t something that he thought about or seemed to contemplate. It was later on in life that you saw HSB understand death and that was when his grandfather, my father-in-law passed away.

I have to say this was a very hard time for everyone. My FIL has just been given a clean bill of health by his doctors. Told he should live a long life. Now hubby and his father worked together in the same office. One day, shortly after receiving that clean bill of health, FIL came into hubby’s office complaining about a terrible headache. Within minutes he was on the floor having a stroke. Hubby cradled his father and held him until the ambulance arrived. My poor husband held his father in his arms as he died. Now if you ask the emergency room doctors and the EMTs that came to the office, they would say that my FIL did not die that day. They put him on life support and kept him alive for days. But if you ask hubby he will tell you that his father died that day in his arms and that he was glad that at least he could have been there at that moment and that his father did not die among strangers but with someone who loved him.

Now the issue became while the family, especially hubby, was going through this terrible trauma, sitting outside the emergency ICU at the hospital, what did we do with the boys? They were much older at this moment. They were in middle school and understood everything that was going on around them. I explained to them that grandpa was in the hospital and that daddy was going to stay in the hospital for a while with him. However, what I had to do was make a terrible decision. What do I do with the boys and what do I do for hubby? I did not want to take the boys into the hospital. I did not want them to see their grandfather hooked up to life support. I did not want them to see the grieving relatives and the trauma that surrounded everyone. With all the support that I generally had around me, everyone was gone for the weekend. So to protect my children, I had to let hubby stay alone with his siblings in the hospital.

I have to tell you it was one of the hardest decisions I ever made. I had never actually had to choose between my children and their father before. But when you are dealing with autistic children I think you have to be very careful. They internalize everything. They see and feel everything. But what they don’t know how to do is process those feelings. They don’t know what to do with the feelings that can overwhelm them. It is a process that they need to go through to be made to understand how they are feeling and that it is OK. You can use all the standby tools, social stories, children's books, therapy games and even make sure to contact their regular therapist. But in the end, especially as they age, they need to resolve some of these questions themselves and no one may be able to help them with that, just like any neurotypical, they may need to figure these things out for themselves.

For the boys I kept their schedule as normal as possible. I sent them to camp. We ate dinner and they even went to their lessons. I did have to explain to them that their grandfather had passed away. I was not too sure how they would take it. At first they didn’t really register. We did not take them to the funeral. Their other cousins, all neurotypicals, were there, all of them, but it was not good for either of our boys to be there. Honestly I did not know how they would react and the last thing I wanted was for them to meltdown at the funeral. Luckily the person we counted on for support when dealing with the boys came back in town from vacation so I was eventually able to be there for hubby in the way that he needed.

Now we had taken them to the funeral home several days before the funeral when hubby and his siblings met to pick out the casket. The boys sat quiet listening to everything that was being discussed. They stayed in a nice little office, sat on the coach, as the adult siblings discussed arrangements with the undertaker. They were quiet and reposed and had their handheld game systems at the ready. Collegeman did look a little like a deer caught in the headlights, and HSB even started to cry but he wouldn’t let anyone see. I asked him if he wanted to talk about it, but HSB wouldn’t admit that he was upset.

The problem that I have is that I am never quite sure how they are going to resolve internal conflicts. Today collegeman is very logical and thinks things through. He looks at incidents with a cold calculation, almost like he is a Vulcan, while HSB gets very emotional and openly shows how he feels, two very different boys with the same diagnosis. So don’t let anyone ever tell you that there is just one way for people on the autism spectrum to handle any event. Their responses are as varied and as different as they are. I think it is as with everything else having to do with autistic individuals, the reality is personal to that person and you have to handle the situation as it pertains to each individual separately. There is no one set answer.

So how do the boys handle the concept of death? Truthfully by insisting that above all they are not going to die. Collegeman likes to find reasons why his grandparents passed away so young and tries to conceptualize why that will not happen to him, as I said logical. HSB just doesn’t talk about it, and if he does, talks about God and how it is going to be along time in the future, alternatively he has also decided that he is not going to die. Have I mentioned before, that HSB has this little stubborn streak?

So as I look back on how we handled death and dying in our household with two autistic boys I find that there is no one answer to the question. Each situation is different and each age that the children happen to be at the time plays a large role in how to handle everything. One more thing that is very important to note. Neither of the boys had a truly intense relationship with any of their relatives that have passed away. Their relationships were always peripheral or very long distance. It is not as if they saw any of their grandparents or great-grandparents on a regular basis and if you have a situation where a loved one actually lives in your home or you have regular contact then how to handle the inevitable is very different.

I tried to balance throughout these events what would be best for my children and what would be best for all concerned. I may not have always made the right decision. You may disagree with me on what I did or did not do. But at the time, it felt right and proper and the best way to protect the boys from being overwhelmed to the point that society just would not have understood.

So for this issue, I have no answers. I am not even sure I am able to give a point of reference other than do what your instincts tell you to do. That is what I did. Trust yourselves, you will know what is right for your children.

Until next time,


*Shakespeare is talking here about what an extraordinary person Juliet was, and that beyond her father's money (the chinks) she was herself a prize.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Can You Relate?

So not politically correct...but way to go Adam!

Until next time,


Veteran's Day - Thank You to Those That Served

Freedom is not free and on this day we remember those that stood to be counted when their nation asked them to, including my father who served in the Navy during the Korean War.

While Veteran's Day is not about those that gave the ultimate sacrifice, that is Memorial Day, it is never far from your mind when you think of those brave young people that have our backs worldwide. Remember that we sleep free at night because rough men (and women) are ready to do battle on our behalf-Orwell.

Until next time,


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Kristallnacht, the Berlin Wall, Remembering

This is a repost from last year on the anniversary of the Kristallnacht and the celebration of the  anniversary of the destruction of the Berlin Wall. The juxtaposition of these two great and momentous events do give one pause. I do not believe in coincidences and there is a purpose for the confluence of these events on these particular dates.

On November 9, 1938, the Third Reich unleashed the beginning of the Final Solution to the Jewish Question. It began with a nationwide riot in Germany directed against Jewish businesses, houses of worship and persons. It was the beginning of the largest genocide in history. The day has been named Kristallnacht, or night of broken glass. It was given this name because so many windows were broken that the moonlight reflecting off the broken glass lit up the night sky as if it were day. Now what does this have to do with autism? Let me tell you.
Pictured here is the deportation of Jews to Dachau concentration camp from Regensburg, Germany on November 10, 1938. On Kristallnacht, the synagogue and community center were burned to the ground, Jewish apartments were destroyed, and Jewish men, women, and children were arrested and humiliated. About 30 were sent to the Dachau concentration camp.

The Nazis philosophy was one of racial superiority. Persons they considered less than human were targeted for expulsion, ghettoization and ultimately for death. The reason that this resonates for me so personally is that while the Jewish people were nearly wiped out in Europe, the Nazis began their campaign of racial evil by eliminating the disabled. I suppose then for me this is a twice important day of remembrance. Being the parent of Jewish children lends itself to one kind of acknowledgment especially in the age of Holocaust denial, growth in worldwide virulent antisemitism, and new or threatened genocides, but as the parent of two autistic children, today lends itself to another journey. The journey of remembering that throughout history the disabled have been viewed as less than human,  less than important, less than worthy of support, education, or even life.
 While I have been on this journey with my children, we have come across all of these attitudes. I remember the woman who said my children were not entitled to a public education because they would not go to college (little did she know) I remember the people who referred to our children with a derogatory name when they brought them back in district to attend class as inclusion students.  I remember the parents who made excuses that they couldn’t have play dates with my children, or just kept making up excuses to change the dates until I gave up. I remember that my children were never invited to birthday parties. I remember that my children were picked on in school and no peer stood up for them. I remember the rabbis who refused to bar mitzvah my children. I remember the religious schools that would not educate them. I remember the special education teacher who told my son he could never be an actor because of his autism. I remember the college Dean who continued with that stupidity. I remember many things.  I remember ignorance and hatred and man’s great ability for harm.
But then I remember, the special education director who set collegeman on the right path. I remember the special education teachers who worked with both boys day in and day out to make sure they learn. I remember the therapists, and psychologists who worked year in and year out with them. I remember the sports coaches who helped them with their agility and gait. I remember the children who decided to help the boys and were kind to them. I remember the rabbis who changed the rules so my boys could enter Jewish adulthood. I remember the disability director at the college who made sure that collegeman received the support he needed to be successful. I remember the phone call about the bowling team so highschoolboy could find something positive in a very hard year in school. I remember those that take pride in the boy’s successes and wish them well. I remember that right now at this moment my children are growing, developing, changing and progressing. I remember that nothing can stand in their way.
 But I also remember that most people do not understand autism.  (It’s why the boys’ names are never used in this blog) I remember that most people are uneducated about any kind of disability. I remember that in hard economic times it is persons with disabilities who suffer more than most. I remember it is the disabled who have a higher rate of unemployment or underemployment. I remember that Princeton University is fighting a lawsuit brought by a student who wanted extended time on tests, saying that extended time dilutes the value of a Princeton degree. I remember the defense’s position in a murder trial saying that the victim because he was disabled had less of a right to life. I remember that the laws in place for educating people with disabilities do not apply to post-secondary education. I remember that insurance companies can deny your healthy child coverage because they have autism.  I remember a little boy with autism in Florida voted out of a classroom and the school board that reinstated the instigating teacher. I remember that despite laws protecting persons with disabilities we still have a long way to go.
Today is the anniversary of Kristallnacht. But it is also the anniversary of the destruction of the Berlin Wall. One anniversary is to remember the greatest evil. The other is to remember the march of freedom, democracy and the belief in human rights and the humanity of all persons in the face of the evils of the Communist Empire. The great irony is that these events happened to have occurred in the same place just decades apart. I submit that if the German people could overcome the legacy of Kristallnacht and  to have ended up in the forefront of the fight for human rights, than we, the people of the world, have no excuse to not forge ahead. We the people of the world need to remember that the fight for the rights of the disabled is the fight for the rights of all humankind. We need to remember that history judges societies not by its wealth but how it treats its weakest members.
So today we remember. We remember those that died because of who their ancestors were or because they were not born perfect. We remember those that died in the march towards freedom and the respect for human dignity. We remember and give the faceless a monument and a name (Yad V'shem). We remember so we can fight on. We remember to fight the fights that are worth fighting. We remember because our job is far from done. We remember because our children are counting on us.

Until next time,

Generalizing the Specifics

One of the main issues that children on the autism spectrum face is the ability to take what they learn from one situation and apply it in a totally different scenario. In fact the scenarios may not even be all that different, except for the introduction of a new dynamic or a removal of a familiar item, and the child becomes totally thrown off kilter and lost without the resources that they just learned. I analogize it to the issues HSB has in math. When given a math formula, and the appropriate number equivalents for the algebraic letters, he is able to apply the formula and even understands the reasoning and purpose. But if he is required to take that formula and apply in an unfamiliar word problem or with an unfamiliar set of numbers he will get lost. He is not able to generalize the specific information that he learned for that math equation. So too, do autistic children have issues being able to understand how certain appropriate behaviors are applied across the board and are general to the entire social paradigm.

So the question then becomes what do you do to help them understand how to accomplish this goal? What can you do for your child to help them relate their social lessons to each and every situation that they face? Interestingly, Dr. Temple Grandin accomplishes this task by keeping what she terms a running Rolodex of social situations in her head. She remembers them as if they were social stories, so that she is able to access and filter what she needs to accomplish, how, when and even why. However, that is not how most of our children will function. It is actually an intriguing idea and concept to use your brain as if it were a social story computer, but that is not going to work for everyone. Especially those like HSB who have a working memory shortfall.

So what do you do? Well to start with you do teach for the moment. As I always say you take each moment as it comes. You get them through the challenge of the hour and then when all is calm and all is quiet you sit them down and continue the lesson. You point out to them what happened and how it was dealt with. You talk it through with them what was and was not appropriate. You problem solve how they could have done things better or how they actually did terrifically. You make them understand that certain behaviors that they accomplished at that given moment are actually a general concept and that it should be applied liberally.

For example: How does someone behavior in a grocery store? You practice looking for your items. You practice walking appropriately in the aisles. You practice waiting you turn at the check out and you practice asking for help from one of the sales clerks. When they accomplish this goal of navigating the supermarket, you next take them to the toy store. You PRE-TEACH the situation by reminding them of the appropriate behaviors in the supermarket and how they apply in the toy store as well. You can use social stories, flash cards, and even basic children’s books on what happens when their favorite character goes to the toy store. You try to get them to understand that behavior in a public store is the same in every store.

Now without a doubt you do not have to follow the supermarket with a toy store. In fact, since our children do have the hardest time in toy stores, (the choices can overwhelm them and they are unable to choose a toy) I would actually even make that one of the last lessons you teach. But that is something you and you alone are going to have to decide how to handle and when it becomes a good idea. Something else too, don’t be afraid if your child is not following the rules to leave the store.

I can’t tell you how many times I have left a grocery cart full of items because the boys may have been acting up at that moment. If you cannot calm them down, you leave. There may be a myriad of reasons for the meltdown. There can be a sensory overload, which even if you calm them down initially may just erupt again, so be prepared. There may be the tantrum that they want cocoa puffs instead of cheerios for breakfast. Now this is the tricky part because you do know that our children do have a hard time making choices, but you cannot let them tantrum, you cannot let them meltdown and you above all cannot give into their desire to have both cereals, or give them the cereal you do not want them to have.

We have discussed on occasion the difference between meltdown and tantrum. The difference between whether your child is having issues because of the autism or issues because they are children and want what they want, when they want it, is something for which you need to be aware. However, the reality is that in many of these same situations you have to exercise the same outcome. You must walk away. Of course, it breaks your heart, especially when you know that it is a sensory issue or their inability to choose, but they MUST learn to choose. They MUST learn to channel their coping skills with sensory issues as well. Again, this is where the PRE-TEACHING comes in. The preparation before the excursion does help with these situations at times.

Now it doesn’t mean that it always works. In fact, there may come a time that you think that your child is never ever going to learn how to choose one item from a store, or understand that they just can’t have a certain type of food. I still remember the day that I took HSB when he was in nursery school to the local candy/toy store in the middle of town. I told him going in that he could only have one toy. We practiced it and we talked about it. So lo and behold he decides he wants two toys. I reminded him that he had to choose one. That was the rule. I even helped him by choosing the toy for him. But he started to tantrum that he wanted both.

Now you do understand that I am quite well aware that as a child on the spectrum he saw what he saw and he wanted it. That perhaps in many ways he was unable to truly choose and that without both toys his internal systems told him that his life was going to be miserable. However, that is not life. Reality is that you have to make choices. You must choose between toys. We teach this lesson not because we want to be cruel, but because we know that there will come a time in life that your child will have to choose between food and a video game or health insurance and a manga. You cannot begin to teach this coping skill when they are 30 years old. This is a skill that takes a lifetime of teaching. You must begin sometime. They have to understand, as all persons do, that there are limits and those limits are part of the social construct that they will be living in. Yes, as with all things in the social realm this is harder for them to understand and grasp than for any one neurotypical, but they can grasp it. It just may take an inordinate amount of time and make you feel like the wicked witch of the west.

Honestly this also goes for being able to curtail certain habits or the need to eat junk food and trying to have good sleeping habits. Limits, whether it is about toys, candy, spending and appropriate behavior lends itself to a better life and a more successful view of the world. And whether we think so or not, when they are three and crying their eyes out because you didn’t buy them that toy, they just may thank us one day when they are able to live on their own, successfully leading the life they choose for themselves. (OK not thank us, but at least not call us names anymore.)

By the way, the story in the candy/toy store ends with me actually picking HSB up and putting him under my arm and carrying him out of the store.  I told him he had to choose and when he threw a fit, refused to choose we left the store. Did it have an immediate impact on his ability or desire to make choices? No. I would be lying if I said it did. It still took time and several more store episodes for him to understand that life is a series of choices, but he learned and even over time he learned that sometimes the choices you make are not the ones you want but they are the ones you have to deal with.

The reality is that there are basic concepts that our children need to be taught and they can be taught in many ways. Here is a small list of generalized behaviors:

1.     Walking and speaking appropriately in a store.

2.     Finding the item you want in the proper way- looking at markers in the store or asking for help appropriately

 3.     Standing in line to pay and waiting your turn if there is any kind of issue to be addressed.

4.     Making sure that they have the right amount of money to pay for the item (of course this is for older children who may need to even pay for their own lunch at school). However, you can start this process by pointing out to your child how you are paying for the item and that the money is in the bank or even handing over cash when you pay. (It is interesting to note, that persons on the autism spectrum tend to have very bad relationships with money. They need to learn early. Budgeting and money management needs to be reinforced from a young age.)

 5.     They should be taught the proper etiquette when speaking to someone…thank you, please, your welcome…goes along way in gaining acceptance and help in society. Demanding and requiring someone to do something for you generally gets noone anywhere. It is essential that our children learn to recognize these attributes. So many of our children due to their speech issues, auditory processing and language issues, have modulation issues as well and their anxiety comes out in their actions/tone of voice. They may be very anxious in any given social situation and it may come out in the way they address someone in a store. The clerk will think your child is being rude or obnoxious when they are simply anxious. Try to get them to recognize how their body feels and you need to teach them how to cope with the public/social anxiety.

The truth of the matter is that as with everything that our children do, it is only through practice and more practice and even more practice, that they will learn to generalize these specific societal attributes. Now as far as math is concerned, it took a lot of work to be able to generalize the formulas and at times HSB still does not get it. But that is OK. We came to the conclusion along time ago that HSB was not going to be a theoretical physicist or an electrical engineer. But interestingly enough he is able to generalize criticism and attributes of video games and films. It seems that is where his abilities lie, which is a good thing considering that is where he has pinned his future career hopes. Of course, he is still going to have to learn to make choices and you know what, he still doesn’t like that, but luckily he doesn’t throw tantrums anymore, because at almost 6 feet and 200 pounds he is just too big for me to put under my arm and walk out of a store.

Until next time,