Friday, July 29, 2011

Talking Special Needs Network

From The Coffee Klatch coming in September 2011.....Talking Special Needs Network the talk radio network dedicated to bringing you the best programming, best experts and best information available on focused topics related to parenting and educating a special needs child.  Talking Special Needs Network  is brought to you by Special Needs Coffee Klatch Ltd  (The Coffee Klatch) bringing you the same quality and standards you have come to expect from The Coffee Klatch. Go HERE  for information about all six new shows.

I am the co-host for Raising ASD Kids and Teens. The information about my show is listed below. I am coordinating my efforts with my friend, and the boys' life skills coach, Susan Cortilet. Go HERE to learn more about her.

Our radio show is scheduled to begin Wednesday, September 7, at 9am est. Listen HERE to our promo.

One of the more interesting aspects of our show is that we hope to answer everyone's questions about the practical aspects of dealing with disabilities on a daily basis; sort of like the "Dear Abby" or "Ann Landers" of autism and comorbid disorders/issues. And yes, I am aware that Abby and Ann were twin sisters, and that those were not even their real names. Susan and I however, are just good friends. No relation whatsoever.

So if you would like any questions answered or situations discussed please tweet me @RaisingASDKids or email me at asd2mom@live.com. Your tweet and/or email will be read on air as Susan and I discuss possible solutions to your everyday issues. Don't worry there will be total anonymity for all questions. Also don't go by just the topics of the day for your questions...these topics are entirely unrelated to any questions/issues you may have or any of your immediate situations that need some kind of resolution. We will be answering your questions concerning:

Autism
ADHD
NVLD
LD
Executive functioning
Sensory processing
Auditory processing
Life skills
Social skills
Chores
Academic support
Homework
Mindblindness
Language Skills
Accommodations
Mythologies of disabilities
Scheduling
Therapies
Household structure
Marriage
Siblings
Pets
Dealing with the professionals
Diagnosis and what to do with the information
You and happiness
Cyberbullying
Bullying
Television and electronics
Obsessions and perseverations
Your child's interests
Acceptance
Working with the school and befriending your child's teacher
Being involved in the regular community
Sharing the responsibility for raising your children
And any other issue that may arise that you would like discussed.....





RAISING ASD KIDS AND TEENS – Wednesdays 9AM EST Starting September 7, 2011

Hosted by Elise Ronan and Susan Cortilet bringing you practical parenting tips on life skills, executive functioning and educational accommodations.  Elise is the mother of two sons, now young men, with Aspergers Syndrome.  Elise has been writing about and giving real life answers for the most difficult parenting dilemmas facing autism families.  Susan is a licensed mental health counselor providing trainging for social skills and competencies, improved academic success, reducing social anxiety and fear and formation of healthy relationships in her private practice.  This show brings parents from early diagnosis to early adulthood raising children on a  spectrum with many dimensions and coexisting disorders.  Our hosts will help parents unravel the confusion and difficulty  identifying the comorbid conditions that are so key to proper treatment and therapies. For a parent raising a child with Autism there is no better resource than someone who has been there or someone who has spent their career coaching a child with Autism, this show brings you both.  Autism parenting tools and specifics to guide you on your autism journey.

Tentative schedule:

September 7       Meet the hosts Elise Ronan and introducing Sue Cortliet.
September 14     Debunking the disaster myth of diagnosis
September 21     Identifying the right professionals and the right therapies for our child
September 28     Relatedness and empathy
October 5           Dispelling the myth of specific interests
October 12         Thinking out of the box – how to do it and what it means


Hope you will join us. We look forward to hearing from everyone.

Until next time,



Elise

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Devil Went Down to Georgia

Just needed some music. Here's the Zac Brown Band at their best...watch the fiddle and guitar playing...some talent really is God given.



Now Charlie Daniels did originate the song, but sometimes you should leave things to them young'uns.

Until next time,

Elise

Empathy and My Son with Asperger's

This article is reposted  at the new blog Autism and Empathy. The events talked about occurred during CM2's last year of highschool, hence the moniker of HSB or highschoolboy.


We hear it all the time that persons on the autism spectrum lack empathy for their fellow human beings. The “experts” have decided that our children can neither understand nor process the emotions of others, that our children cannot understand when someone is cruel or mean or hateful. Yes, there was a study done recently refuting this belief, but unfortunately, the lack of empathy mantra is widespread.

I guess these so-called experts have never met HSB.

Read the rest HERE.


Until next time,


Elise

Monday, July 25, 2011

Of Bat'leths, Scimitars and General Information

bat'leth
It was a nice quiet Monday morning. The hubby had gone off to work and I was sitting as I usually do at my computer tweeting, and perusing my favorite bloggers. CM1 was up having breakfast and watching a rerun of The Big Bang Theory. Now apparently the characters on the show were discussing Klingon weaponry. He seemed confused and called me over to discuss a perplexing issue.

"Why is the bat'leth so dangerous?" he asked. "It doesn't' seem so to me."

scimitar
sabre
I mentioned to him that it has to do with the curvature of the blade. Like the scimitar of the Islamic middle ages, the rounded edge actually makes it a wonderful slashing weapon. In fact, as I pointed out, if he had paid attention during his fencing lessons, he would have found, like a "sabre," which is also slightly rounded, the bat'leth makes for a good weapon in battle. This is different than the European sword used during the middle ages which was primarily a stabbing instrument, but of course they used it for slashing as well, it just wasn't as effective. The sabre is also different than the "epee" which is the sword the boys learned to fence on. This is a slender straight blade with a slightly different hilt than the sabre, think The Three Musketeers. I then proceeded to demonstrate how the bat'leth would have been used and how it would effect the human or Klingon body. One more point, the sabre was primarily a Calvary weapon. It worked perfect for someone on horseback.


"Oh, now I understand," he said. Then he continued on with the rerun, laughing and eating and preparing to greet the midterm exam waiting for him at college.

So you never know when some little bit of information that you garnered at some point in your life will come back to help you with your children. I found myself being very glad this morning that  I myself am a trekkie, understand fencing and the differences in swordplay, plus have an odd affinity for ancient and medieval battle tactics and weaponry.

Of course it doesn't hurt my obsession that this is how Hollywood portrays the ancient warrior:

Achilles
Spartans

Gladiator
RobinHood



Samurai
Knight


Hector



Now for the modern warrior- May God Bless and Keep Them:






Until next time,



Elise

Saturday, July 23, 2011

McDonald's Lawsuit and the Inadequate Parent

It never fails to amaze me just how inept some people are at parenting. I just heard about a lawsuit brought against McDonald's because the company puts toys in their Happy Meals. The mother is suing under the consumer protection laws of California because her children want her to buy the toys and the happy meals are not weight watchers approved. OK, the weight watchers bit I put in, but she said the meals are not healthy. Well duh...its McDonald's not spa food. Just as an aside, if its the toys they want, McDonalds actually used to just let us buy the toys without the food when my boys were little. Just a thought. Or you could buy the meal for the toy and not let them eat the food. It's just a matter of using the gray matter God gave you, but then again brain power doesn't appear to be this mother's forte.

She then goes on to say that she doesn't like to say "no" to her children because it interferes with their relationship. Her children are 6 and 2 years old. Oh she does say that she does say "no" but there is alot of rancor and it is upsetting to her. I would like to know just how this woman thinks she is going to parent a tween or a teenager if she can't say no to a 2 year old without having a panic attack. As someone involved in the special needs community perhaps this mother should get tested for some underlying anxiety issue if saying "no" to a two and six year old causes you issues. Seriously. She may need some kind of support. Well actually she definitely needs something, what it is I am not sure, but I recommend she get it soon.  I swear to God Almighty you can't make this crap up.

I suppose I have been jaded by the fact that I parent a special needs child(ren) and the people I surround myself with are people who are involved with their children's lives and have a good handle on how to parent. Perhaps we as parents of special needs children do not have the luxury of not making sure that everything is in order for our children. We know that if we do not do the right thing then our children will not be capable and able adults. We know that without our constant helicopter parenting, our children would end up languishing in a corner unseen and unheard by society. We know that with developmental and learning disabilities there really are not that many second chances once they grow up. Heck for some of our children there aren't second chances in their childhood either. We know that society is not truly as forgiving as we would like it to be.

But I still just don't get it. I remember when CM1 was going into middle school and the district was about to change the middle school grades from 6-8 to 5-8, several class mothers were lamenting the fact of the switch. Not because they didn't think it was appropriate that 10 and almost 14 year olds share the same educational halls, but they were upset because this meant that their 10 year olds would be hanging out in town, since the middle school is in the center of our little village, and the middle school children go hang out around town after school. I kept thinking to myself have they never heard the word "no."

It's the same thing I faced when going to take CM2 to the driver education class that I eventually pulled him out of. Several of the mothers didn't want to sit in the information session because they didn't want their children to hate them. I kid you not. They were about to trust a total stranger to teach their children to drive a car, basically putting their children's lives in the hands of someone they had never met in their lives, and they were afraid to see how this particular person interacts and deals with their children. They didn't want their children to see them as hovering. Needless to say, the man was a total moron, rude, insulting and jealous of the upper middle class community in which I live and  particularly mean to CM2. You bet I pulled my son out of the class. The problem is that you can't get a senior license at 17 without these classes, which means you can't drive past 9pm, and all the kids want a senior license. So these parents let the kids take these classes. Not even a second thought by these parents. Not even a complaint about this man. Nothing was said to anyone except for me. Again these parents just didn't want to "say" no to their children.

What I want to know is when did people of my generation decide that parenting was a popularity contest? I remember reading an article in The New York Times, back when I bothered to read The New York Times, that said if your children do not tell you they hate you at least once a day, you are not doing your job as a parent. It was a joke for certain, but not too far from the truth either, let me tell you.

One of the issues we also faced as the boys got older was that there are parents in my town who think its OK to give their underage children alcohol and have alcohol at parties. They would rather they drank at home so that the parent didn't worry about them driving. I guess it never dawned on these lightbulbs that you tell your children they are not to drink and if you catch them they will loose their car, their phones, and computers. That they would basically have nothing to do except read some old Life magazines and have to watch you knit all day long.

Now I do understand the idea that parents are also afraid the children will drink and drive anyway and endanger their lives. But you know what, maybe if they took more care in who their children befriended, what these friend's morals and upbringings happen to be, they wouldn't need to worry so much. Also if they made it not such a big deal to call for a ride if they needed one, in fact insist upon it, they wouldn't have to worry so much. Of course you also get the parent who doesn't mind because well, everyone drinks since "its a right of passage."

Here's a clue, it doesn't have to be. Point in fact, at the boys' college if you are caught drinking alcohol, your butt is out of school.  It is ILLEGAL and anything illegal is forbidden. (Don't even mention illicit drugs, the Dean goes ballistic with that one. The police are called and you get to bail your child out of jail. If they bother to call you to let you know.) Unfortunately some schools really don't care and turn a blind eye even though drinking is illegal for anyone under 21. Have fake ID will get bombed every weekend.

Listen we teach the boys that people don't get to skirt the laws they don't like. Try teaching your child that they have to obey the law whether they like the law or not instead of how to get away with things. We do not live in a police state where you have no control over your life and an act of free speech will get you hung. We live in a western democracy and if you don't like the law, get your legislature to change it...If they don't, then you need to deal with the reality of not always getting your way. Perhaps its the notion of entitlement that so pervades this society at present. I don't know. But you can't have it all your own way all the time. Parents need to teach that lesson to their children. It is simple. It is a fact. It will keep you employed, happy and out of trouble and out of prison for your entire life. You don't get to do something just because you want to do it.

Honestly, in truth, I never, worried whether the boys liked me or not. In fact years before I even knew that CM2 had aspergers he had tried to "fire" me as his mother because I wouldn't let him have his way. He literally said, "You are fired." (Donald Trump eat your heart out. Damn, I should have patented that phrase, who knew?) When I told him I was his mother until the day he died and he can't do anything about that, he decided to "unfriend" me instead. Seriously decades before facebook, he told me that he was not my friend. I responded that no he was not my friend, (I still remember the shocked look on that little face. He thought by unfriending me he was going to hurt my feelings.);  that he was my son and that one day when he was a grown man, and if he was lucky and I liked him he would then be my friend. But at that moment he was my son and would do as he was told. By the way, he was all of three at the time of this conversation. CM2 always had a bit of an attitude.

Needless to say, as anyone who reads this blog will tell you, at present CM2 still has an attitude and thinks I am a moron, an idiot and uses rather unpleasant words to address me under his breath at this moment in his life, just like any typical teenager. So not being his friend, holding him to standards ethically and morally as well as requiring him to do well at school, has not hurt that part of his development at all. In fact if anything he is just what I had hoped he would be. Rude, obnoxious, self-righteous, holier than thou and quite frankly a typical pain in the ass teenager. I know, who would have thought that I would quietly celebrate his attitude while punishing and grounding his butt for his nastiness and disrespect. Only those of us in the special needs parent club would really understand that one...But there is hope. CM1 used to be the same way, but today for the most part he is a total sweetheart. Now he does have his moments, as do we all, but honestly teenagehood was simply a phase and maturity does have its rewards. As long as you survive that is, Why do you think parents really go gray. Its not age, its teenagers.

But in the end it does come down to you as a parent doing what you need to do for your children. You need to say "no," often and quite frankly alot more than you say "yes." You need to teach, prepare and mold your children so that they can enter the reality of a world that is not always as forgiving as we would like for anyone, not just for a person with a disability. Parenting is NOT a popularity contest. If all you worry about is that your children should be your friend, rather than a competent, happy and successful adult then you quite frankly are not doing your job. Life is about obligations, ethics, morals and the ability to make choices that are productive. Life can also give you one hell of a big "no" at times. Children need to know how to take a "no," pick themselves up, dust themselves off and keep going. And yes this ability begins with being able to deal with a  "no" from mom or dad to the toys and happy meals  from McDonalds.

Until next time,



Elise

Friday, July 22, 2011

Pragmatic Speech, the Autistic Mind and Telling Your Professor He is Wrong


No, I am not purporting to speak for my children or anyone else on the autism spectrum. What I am going to do is try to explain the conundrum that CM1 found himself in yesterday in class. As I have mentioned there is still mindblindness in the boys’ societal interactions, which we work on almost daily and try to get them to realize that they need to think about the “whole situation” rather than just inward. One of the aspects of this issue is the way they understand and use speech.

I have to say that CM2 does have a better handle on how words do affect others and I would even say that when he insults, particularly his older brother, he truly means what he says and truly embraces the double entendre. I can also say that when he calls me a “bitch,” albeit it under his breath thinking I can’t hear, he really means it too. CM1 on the other hand, when he says something there is no underlying message, no hidden agenda, and no duplicitous sense of language. He says what he means and basically, he means what he says.

Here’s what happened:

The professor was discussing an issue in history and compared the actions of the United States and Israel to the Communist East Germans. Well CM1 not being deterred basically pointed out how the professor’s analogy was off (apart from the fact that my son was slightly insulted by the professor’s comparison). CM1 didn’t stop there; he then told the professor that his comparison was wrong. The para reported that at that point the professor turned beat red, especially since another student in class happened to agree with CM1.

Now, when I picked CM1 up from school, the para was trying to explain to him why what he said was wrong. Not the fact that he disagreed with the professor but the way he said what he said. CM1 was not buying it. He said that the professor was wrong, that the professor’s analogy was way off. That he told him so in a nice tone and that the professor should reevaluate his way of thinking.

I tried to explain to my son that it wasn’t what he said but how he said it that was the problem. CM1’s response was that he had a nice tone. That he didn’t yell and just talked quietly. Yes, I said that was a good thing and he did well in that way, but that words have underlying meanings and that when he told the professor that he was “wrong” he basically was telling the professor that he was stupid. Well, forget it. CM1 not only didn’t accept that reasoning he thought I was stupid.

“That is not what I said,” he insisted. “I told him that his comparison was wrong not that he was stupid.”

I tried to explain to him that words have inferential meaning and that the professor, rightly or wrongly, inferred that you were telling him he was stupid. I tried to explain to him that what he should have said instead of that the professor was wrong, was that he just disagreed with the professor’s analogy. He would have gotten his point across but in such a way as to not have the professor feel he was being insulted.

But CM1 still did not get it. He did not mean to insult the professor. As far as he was concerned it was statement of fact not a personal attack on the professor’s intelligence. I tried again; unsuccessfully to explain to him that it is not what you say but the words you use to get your point across. That, yes his tone was very good, but that words have more than one meaning and he needs to try to be more diplomatic. I modeled once again the statement for him:

After the statement how you disagree you simply add, “I respectfully disagree with your comparison.”

Nope, not getting it.  I tried to explain to him that there are ways to tell people that they are wrong without telling them they are wrong. It is the subtlety of language that is important and that the direct approach is not always the best approach. I tired to explain it with a Sheldon analogy…

Yes, I do use The Big Bang Theory as a teaching tool. In one of the original episodes, Sheldon was fired when he told his new boss that he was a bad scientist. Well CM1 didn’t accept this analogy either because Sheldon told his boss directly that he was a bad scientist. He never told the professor he was a bad teacher or professor or that he was stupid or anything like that.

CM1 simply could not wrap his brain around the fact that people would imply something more in language than the basic understanding of the words. Since CM1 does not have an underlying agenda and would not insult anyone other than his little brother he doesn’t understand why anyone would take what he said in a mean way. Again, that mindblindness issue rears its ugly head. CM1 cannot see beyond his own reality and since he was simply stating a fact he cannot understand why others would be insulted since he meant nothing bad. I have to say that CM1 did actually congratulate his brother for how hard he is trying in his college class. Of course CM1 put it, that he was pleasantly surprised with CM2. Again, not the best way to phrase a pat on the back, but at least it was very heartfelt.

At that point, since nothing I said was getting through to him, I told CM1 that his father would talk to him about it. He wasn’t in trouble but it is a skill he needs to understand. So when the Wise Old Sage came home from work I set him to talking to CM1 about how to use diplomatic language when you are telling someone they are stupid, so they don’t know that you are telling them they are stupid. Diplomacy is truly the art of getting along in the world in which we live. Later, I found the men of my family discussing this issue in the basement and having a rather informative talk on the subject as a matter of fact.

The truth is that I do not know if CM1 gets the pragmatic in any way shape or form especially since CM1 hasn’t a mean or disrespectful bone in his body. I think the professor really knows that, because this professor is known for kicking people out of his class or humiliating them if they deserve it (like when they come late to class or take out a phone to start texting during a lecture). He is very old-fashioned and demands respect and appropriate behavior in his classroom. Really not a bad thing when you think about it. Part of life is understanding how to interact with people on every level no matter who they are and no matter who you are. There are also rules of etiquette and appropriateness that everyone needs to learn, NT and autistic alike.

Meanwhile, the professor neither humiliated CM1 nor threw him out of class. He let it basically slide and figured the para would take care of it later, which he tried to do, which I tired to do, which WoS tried to do. Of course this also wasn’t the first time that CM1 was in one of the professor’s classes and the professor has seen CM1 grow and develop and has even commended CM1 for how much he has progressed.  So a part of me thinks that once the professor stepped back, he realized that CM1 really didn’t mean anything afterall. Even if that step back was quickly done and took only a few seconds of realization.

But all in all, CM1 does keep his professors on their toes. I have always said that if the college survives my children the college can survive anything. The interesting thing is that the lessons the college personnel are learning from the boys at times are much more important than what the boys learn from the college. While society may talk a big game about inclusion and respecting others, it is another thing to come face to face with the reality of someone’s differences. Oh it is easy to talk about respecting someone else’s religion, race, ethnicity or gender, these are things you see and can associate with, but it is another thing entirely when you have to respect someone else’s neurological difference that challenges a social structure. Invisible disabilities are the last bastion of societal acceptance, I have no doubt. In fact these particular disabilities propose one of the greater challenges to a college. They even challenge the power structure of a classroom. As I mentioned when CM1 started college, that the hallowed halls of ivy are never going to be the same again once they meet my boys. We are going to see just how those who espouse inclusion fare when they are personally confronted with its reality. But you know, at this particular college, so far so good…

Until next time,
Elise

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Social Stories, Purpose and Use

Social stories are a necessary tool in educating children on the autism spectrum. They are short and succinct outlines about behavior, events and even educational information. It must be understood that the autistic brain does not function as a neurotypical brain and certain issues need to be specifically related to our children.

 

In fact when CM2 was in elementary through middle school he had a social stories bible that he carried with him, that he would read every morning before school. These were an accumulation of stories over the years, that helped him function everyday in class.

Now remember a very important aspect of social stories is that they should be positive. There should be stories about how if you do "A" then "positive B" will happen. Such as: your classmates will like you; your parents and teachers will be proud of you; you will learn and get an education; you will have a good day, etc.



Some of the social stories that CM2 read every morning included:

What to do when you entered the school.
Where to go (classroom).
How to greet the teacher and other students upon entering the room.
Where to put your coat and backpack.
What to do when you go to your desk.
How to ask to go to the bathroom.
How to raise your hand when you wanted to ask a question.
How to take turns.
How to do work when you are asked to.
How to handle being upset...where to go and who to talk to.
Who to go to if you get sick.
How to play at gym or recess.
How to behave on a class trip.
How to go through the cafeteria.
How to talk to a teacher.
How to talk to classmates.






We also have written out social stories for the house and behavior when they were little too. Some of these include:

What to do when you wake up...
going to the bathroom,
changing your clothes,
how to put your clothes in the hamper,
making your bed,
brushing your teeth,
brushing your hair,
eating breakfast,
getting ready for school, etc.



Then there are social stories at home for how to handle interactions:

How to play with siblings.
How to take turns.
How to talk to mom and dad.
How to talk to grandparents and other relatives.
How to behave at a party.
How to go to the supermarket.
How to go to the barbershop.
How to behave in a  car.
What to do on long car rides.
What to do on an airplane.
What to do during the day (this is also scheduling activities, which you need to direct until they get much older).
How to behave when we stop for gas.
How to act in a restaurant...aka McDonald's, Chuck-E-Cheese, etc.
How to share the television.
How to share the video games.
How to hang up your coat.



Don't forget you can use social stories when teaching chores as well..explain in social stories how each chore is to get done and what is expected.

Making their bed.
Setting the table.
Taking out the garbage.
Mowing the lawn.
Clearing the table after dinner.
Putting their toys away.
Helping with laundry.
Helping dad or mom around the house when they are asked. (By the way don't ever be afraid to ask them to help. Make it age and ability appropriate and you will see tremendous growth in your child's self-esteem.)

Now the important thing to remember about social stories, is that they need to be repeated time and time again. It may actually take years for your child to "get" the social story, but eventually they will. You will need alot of patience, as with everything else we do for our children. I  recommend the following books and authors:

The original Carol Gray books.

Don't forget for those that cannot read, there is a method called cartooning. It is another form of social story and can be used just as effectively as the written word.



And again anything written by Jed Baker. His books are quite frankly written as social stories. You can use what he wrote or change them to meet your child's needs.

Here is a list of alternative social story books on Amazon.com.

Also Here is the website for AAPC website, which publishes specialized books on ASD issues.

As anyone can tell you social stories is the life blood of raising a child on the autism spectrum. They can be used for every event at any time during your child's day. They are an important and effective tool in making the world manageable for your children.

One more final note on the subject. You can also develop your own form of social story that works for your children and your home. Everything in these books or the topics I have written out are only a place to begin, not the final draft. Read this recent blog about the social story we wrote for CM2 for transitioning into college. He poo-pooed it, but guess what, it helped.

By the way, all these videos I took off of YouTube, which means they are free to the public...take advantage of today's technology. It can make your life and what you need to accomplish for your children, just so much easier.

Until next time,


Elise

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Psychiatry, Psychiatry Where's The Common Sense

I am afraid what follows is less instructive and more of a rant...

Well it happened again with the so-called professionals who we turn to, to help the boys. No not the disability director at the college. She is a gem. I am talking about the psychiatrist and psychologists who finalized the boys' testing and who see them for their medications.

If you recall I had an issue a while back, with the psychiatrist because for some reason he keeps trying to get us to stear CM1 towards computer science. Well the child hates computers science, doesn't care how computers work and wants to find a way to make the world a better place. The doctor keeps harping on CM1's anxiety issues and how law school is not the right choice for him. I try to explain to him that there are many configurations on going to law school and not everyone goes to Harvard. That there are even part-time law school programs for the people that work, which might be a fine fit for CM1. Being lawyers ourselves and hubby having worked in the field for almost thirty years, you would think he might give us this one and understand that we are well aware of the rigors of a legal education and the law field.

Honestly I am not even sure that CM1 will go to law school. He wants to change the world and its the closest degree I can think of in order to do that. It opens many doors that would remain close to him without it, whether in the world of politics, civil rights and non-governmental organizations that do worldwide charity. I think CM1 is still hooked on going for a Phd in History though, but that is not going to help him accomplish what he wants to accomplish in his life. So personally we are at an impasse, but thankfully he does have some extra time in college because of the credit fiasco (his credits got messed up so he has to go longer for his BA, no biggie, actually probably better for him in the long run anyway taking a little more time instead of rushing through). So now he and we, have time to figure out his future a little more clearly; help point him in the direction that would make him the happiest.

The issue here, and I think the issue that many in this community face, is that doctors and the so-called professionals (social workers, teachers, therapists) have a set vision of who and what autistic people are supposed to be and your child has to fit into that mold. Heaven forbid you disagree with them. That is some kind of abomination. I had already had this discussion with this man once about CM1 doing what he wants, not doing what the doctor thinks he should do. He did agree with me then. I suppose he forgot. This time however, I am not going to stress about it (apart from writing this post). Last time I went in guns a blazing telling the doctor that we have a huge problem. This time. I will not even worry about it.

Honestly it is not even worth it. The doctor knows his medications and the boys are doing well that way, but as far as lifetime advice... forget about it. CM1 is in my care, not this doctor's. Wise Old Sage and myself will make certain that CM1 will do with his life as he pleases and what brings him the ability to lead a full and happy life. It is important to make sure noone ever tell CM1 that he can't do something too. That has happened before and it killed CM1s desire to follow acting and art. He takes to heart when an authority figure tells him he can't do something. I just hope I can make him see that he is the one who decides his future and not someone else no matter who they happen to be (well except maybe us, his parents).

Still it never fails to amaze me how the psychiatric community decides based upon a disability what and who a person is supposed to be. I understand now why so many adults are loathe to go and get that diagnosis. Its as if someone out there with a degree and a few more extra years of school, is going to tell them that they are inferior human beings and cannot do what they find to be fulfilling because of a neurological imbalance. I still don't understand why instead of telling you what your child can't do, why don't the doctors tell you here is the issue, lets brainstorm ways to help your child do what he wants to do with his life. Why is that so hard?

What are they afraid of? Are they afraid that in the end the thing you get rid of is them? Are they afraid that they are not the all knowing gurus that they think they are? Are they afraid that quite frankly you will find the answer somewhere else and their magical aura will dissipate? Are they afraid that they will loose their own sense of self-importance and self-worth? Truthfully I don't care. Their own psychological issues are not my concern. My concern is that these people can turn your world upside down and inside out and they don't give a crap. They think that a Phd or a Medical degree gives them the license to fuck with your world. Hubby happened to mention after the latest incident... what if we were the type of parents who took to heart everything these professionals said. We would be upending our children's future to fit them into a box that they do not fit into merely because someone with a psychology degree has decried it so. These people really better have a better handle on how they screw with people's futures.

Another issue: the psychologist who did the boys' retesting last spring. They officially diagnosed CM1 as having an anxiety disorder separate and part from the aspergers. OK, not something I didn't know already and in fact the retesting just showed the same things we had already known since he was a little boy. But again, they spent the better part of an hour or two telling me how he cannot go to law school and that he should go work for a think tank or archive because of his love of history. Excuse me, you want to take my brilliant child and put him in a basement somewhere looking at old documents instead of finding a way for him to go to graduate school and help people like he wants to. Law school is too hard for him from a psychological point of view they said. Oh he could do it intellectually they tell me, and he would make a good effort at it, because its what he does, but its not the best thing for him. Plus, his psychologist agreed they said.

Excuse me. How nice again people who have only met my child for a few hours have once again decided his future. They know best. They are infallible. Now I was pissed at the psychologist because I really don't like being end-runned when it comes to my children. But we took care of that on our own. He later told me that they took it wrong, but that he is concerned about my son's level of anxiety. Like we are not. We just don't give a hoot about this child, right? You would think that they think we are all morons and have no idea about the child right in front of us. Yes, my mother calmed me down reminding me about the parents I complain about from the special education meetings and how clueless they are. I should remember that these psychologists need to treat everyone like these parental idiots or they will not be doing their job. (Mom said it more elegantly than that, but this was the gist of the talk.)

As an aside, when I saw the director of the therapy group she happened to tell me that it is not easy to get accommodations for the LSATs and infact one of their clients is suing the LSAT company because of it...in other words, CM1 will have to take the test without accommodations most likely. OK now tell me something I did not already know...She then tried to tell me about the blind youngman who is suing because they didn't even give him enough accommodations. It's a case in Michigan. Of course I had already heard about it and then talked with her about it too. You know, there really does come a time when they need to recognize you are not one of the idiot parents.

Now as far as how I dealt with the idea that CM1 was going to sit in a basement wasting his life away playing with archived documents because of an anxiety and social disability. I went to the head of the therapy center and basically told her that they don't get to decide who my child is and they do not get to decide that he is not capable of doing something based upon a disability. The issue is to find a solution so he can do what he wants. I must have come off really angry because when the testing for CM2 was done, the director met with me about it without the psychologist who did the testing being in the meeting. I think they were afraid to have us in the same room. They knew she would have gotten apiece of my mind for certain.

So I go into the meeting and lo and behold CM2s testing is very similar to CM1s. Hhhmm... Except that CM2 has a learning disability not otherwise specified and no overriding anxiety issue other than what is associated with aspergers. Yet somehow, these two very dissimilar boys are now almost exactly alike. In fact their IQs or what passes for IQ in today's world are almost identical. I personally found that very odd, especially since CM2s triennial testing in school had him at a genius level IQ and now he fell over 30 points? Throughout school my youngest had very typical aspergean readings, extraordinary IQ with alot of underlying issues. Now all of a sudden his entire IQ is on a much different and lower functioning level?

Listen, its not the IQ number that is important, but it did seem rather odd to me that all of a sudden the boys were almost entirely similar including those IQs. I actually sent the school testing to the director and asked to talk to her about it. I never heard from her. Weeks went by and I never heard from her. Finally I called her and asked her about the discrepancy. She actually told me that the testing for highschool was at a different level and they used the adult level testing so that made the difference. Excuse Me?  Tests are supposed to be geared toward age appropriate levels so there should not be that huge a discrepancy going from one age level to the next. A few points here and there I could understand, not thirty. So either the school was incompetent or they were incompetent. Somehow I knew it wasn't gong to be them.  Actually I am not even sure that anyone was incompetent. Why?

What I think this points out quite frankly is the fallibility of psychological testing. I do not know anyone who can drop thirty points in their IQ and not have had some major brain injury. As much as I think CM2 can be a pain in the ass and his brain is haywire, it is because he is a teen, not because he had a large object fall  on his head. There could have been any number of reasons that there was such a discrepancy in CM2s testing and not least of which is that he didn't want to be there and didn't want to cooperate. He may not even have tried his best to give the right answers, who knows, he likes doing silly things at the most inappropriate times to make some kind of joke too. Maybe he thought that it was just one giant joke. Of course that should have been recognized and somehow it should have been noted. But again that is why psychological testing is so unreliable at times.

This is another reason why I tell parents that it is important for you to think for yourselves when it comes to your children. Whether it was the original doctors telling us that they had no idea what would happen for CM1 when he was five, but hinting at the reality of him being placed in an institution one day; to the doctors today not dealing with the fact that CM1 does not want to work with computers; or that they can't figure out what CM2's real IQ happens to be, those in the psychology field, know squat. I mean how many years did it take for someone to really know what they were looking at when it came to your child in the first place? There are even those among us, who they can't figure out how to help because they can't put an exact diagnosis on the issues.

Just as another example from my personal archives. Here is one of my absolute favorites in discussing the inadequacy of psychologists vis-a-vis my children....When CM1 was three before he was even close to being diagnosed with autism, a psychologist tested him and told me he had hyperlexia. Today I know that he was hyperlexic. But the problem was that he understood what he read and that he understood the world around him. In showing me that he didn't know what he read, the psychologist took out book after book (at least three or four) until she found a word he didn't recognize and then went "Seee!" I said to her that he does understand what he reads, she told me not really that his reading is like a "monkey doing a trick." I kid you not, she really called him a monkey. I think at that point I picked up CM1 and walked out of her office and then called the pediatrician who sent me to this moron. Oh you don't forget things like this, even if it was almost 20 years ago.

Listen, I do not really mean to disparage the psychiatric field.They do understand the basics of human nature and depending on the person and the issues, they do have alot to offer when it comes to your children or even yourselves. The problem becomes when they don't listen to you and don't have the ability to understand that they do not know everything and that they are as fallible as the rest of us. Psychologists need to remove themselves from their comfort zone and recognize that a person has a right to be what they want to be and they do not have the right to define someone by a disability. Our children and some of us as well, are quite capable of being anything we want to be, if given the right supports and the right societal understanding. Of course that understanding has to start with those that we count on for medical advice and help. Sadly however, at times, it is the rigidity of the psychiatric community that can be one of  the biggest problems we have to face. Maybe those in the psychiatry field should seek therapy, afterall that is how they could learn to understand themselves and deal with their problems. If its good enough for all of us. It should be good enough for all of them.

OK, this rant is now over...thanks for listening.


Until next time,



Elise

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Toxic Shock Syndrome- Be Aware-Save A Life

No this post is not about our children and autism. It is about you. Yesterday during our tweetchat for The Coffee Klatch our topic was doing things for yourself. While we chatted about reading books, knitting, taking long walks, etc, not a one of us, myself included, mentioned the need to make sure you go to the doctor. Actually here are some older posts that talk about among other things making sure you see your doctor regularly. HERE, HERE.

In the meantime I began following an important group on twitter called You Are Loved. It is an organization created in memory of a youngwoman who lost her life to toxic shock syndrome. (No men this is not your clue to stop reading. If there are women in your life that you love keep going.)  TSS was one of those illnesses that was in vogue to discuss decades ago, when I was a young woman. But people seemed to have lost interest, mainly I think because they thought the tampon companies had resolved the issues. Unfortunately that is not the case.  

We need to teach our daughters how to protect themselves and quite frankly a refresher course wouldn't hurt any of us either. Click here for You Are Loved's informational brochure.








Spread the word, join the  blog blitz project at You Are Loved...you just may save a life...



Until next time,



Elise

Monday, July 11, 2011

Sportsmanship and Mindblindness

An interesting idiosyncrasy for many on the autism spectrum is their inability to deal successfully with loosing at game-play. Now this is not even a little crying or yelling event. This can become a knock down drag out no holds bar meltdown of epic proportions. Or the refusal of the aspergean to continue playing or never play again if they loose. They also tend to switch up the rules of the game so it suits their need to win or refuse to understand how the rules don't always benefit their view of the game's outcome.

This has been an issue for CM1 since he was a very young child. CM2 actually seems not to care so much if he looses only because he has found a way to renew his life points on any given game, time and again. But for CM1 it can be a devastating event, one replete with a very grumpy attitude, which puts him in a funk for hours if not for the day.

Personally I don't think that its tied into not truly understanding the rules or how things work when they play a game. Now I am talking about boardgames or videogames, when you are playing a static game, like soccer or football, they may actually get totally lost and not be able to follow and that ends up with a meltdown of different origin and proportions. This is even different than an individual sport like tennis or bowling.

Bowling has always been CM1's nadir.  Interesting as far as bowling is concerned, CM2 who had been on the bowling team in highschool couldn't bowl over 50 and it never upset him. He actually went to the practices because he could order chicken fingers, soda and a huge chocolate chip cookie while he waited his turn up at the lane. When the special education director once asked me if there were any sports other than bowling that CM2 enjoyed, I said only the ones where you can eat fried foods and sit on your butt for the majority of the time. (No not the best situation as far as exercise, but it was very good socially for CM2.)

However, the situation being discussed at this moment has to do with the inability of your child to deal with a situation in which they do not come out ahead of everyone else. It's interesting really and I am not sure if it is tied into their feeling lost in society in general. Many children who are overwhelmed with their lives try to compensate and create situations in which they are in control. It is one of the reasons that parents are told not to make food an issue. The only thing a child can control is what and how much they put in their mouths. Then there is the issues of doing what they want when they want it.

There is that control issue with CM2. If we ask him to do something, he needs to pick the time. Even if he is doing absolutely nothing at the moment, he wants to tell us when he will do his chores or the errand we asked him to do. That is why scheduling his time worked so well in the end when dealing with all his homework issues. As long as he controlled the time and place to accomplish his homework, it was done and with minimal fuss.

Perhaps its the need for the aspergean child to feel that they are good at something. Our children go through so many events in their day in which they feel that everything is just out of reach. Whether they have to struggle to understand what is being said in a  classroom, the language needed for stories or the math that everyone else in the class seems to get, our children deal with a tremendous amount of frustration. Then of course the social component of their days just creates a never ending feeling of just not being insync with everyone else. If you think our children don't realize that they lack certain inherent abilities you are wrong. They know it and the higher functioning they are the more these issues affect them. So they need to be good at something.

Why this need comes out in game competition I do not know. But that is the experience I have had and I know many others have had it as well. It is a need to win and win at all costs. Of course I could get used to the need to win. It is what propels CM1 to do well at school, but its the at all costs that is the potential for trouble. It is essential that our children understand that the ends do not justify the means. They must understand right from wrong and the difference between cheating and doing your own work. They need to be able to differentiate that just because you want to win does not mean you win at any price and what those consequences for breaking the rules happens to be, otherwise it is how someone ends up in prison for insider trading later on in life.

What I think is important is that as soon as your child shows some hypercompetativeness it is essential that you begin lessons on sportsmanship and appropriate social behavior in game play.

Sportsmanship
This is basically the art of playing by the rules to win. Teach your child that the rules are there to enjoy the game and ensure a proper win. Going outside the rules is cheating. This is not really any different than the rules society has about stealing and hitting or cheating in school. One thing our children are good at is rules. (Yes there can be another issue here, which I will discuss later on).

Rules
Go through every rule line by line to make sure your child knows what each rule actually means. Sometimes our children say they understand what they are supposed to do, but that is not always the case. Make sure that they can explain to you the objective of the game and how they can accomplish that objective. make sure they know what it means to loose a turn and why they may loose a turn.

Turn Taking
This is an essential skill needed for most every social event in our children's lives. Begin by using a timer and allotting five to ten minute periods that they would take a turn playing a video game. Then when the bell dings have them move on to another player and have your child watch player B play. Write out a social story of appropriate words of encouragement and how to be a team player and wish Player B well. They may not understand that you wish your opponent well, but it is good sportsmanship. Fair play is important.

Behavior
Write out in short and succinct sentences how they are expected to behave during game play. Do not be afraid to make it absolute. 1) You are to take turns 2) You are to wish your opponent well 3) You are not to be angry if your opponent does better than you 4) You are to be gracious if you do better than your opponent 5) You are to congratulate your opponent if they win.

Now as I have said before it is very hard for CM1 to do these things. He gets very agitated when he does not win. We have been working on this issue since he was a little boy. He gets upset if he does not do well at his video games. How do we handle it when he goes overboard? We take the games away. It really is very simple. Yes he is technically a grown youngman, but there are times when he cannot regulate his annoyance with himself for loosing. So I tell him to step back and take a break. If he says emphatically "NO" which he is oft to do, I remind him that he needs to step back and why. That if he cannot handle loosing he needs to do something else with his time. Sometimes just a simple reminder at this point is enough to get him to readjust himself and use his coping mechanisms.

Coping Mechanisms
Honestly I find this very hard for CM1 to do on his own when he gets overwhelmed by loosing. As I stated above, I have to remind him to stop being aggravated over a game. He then realizes what he is doing and he does step back or take a break. Sometimes that is all you can have them do. Take the game away and have them sit and calm down. As they age they will learn what triggers their compulsion and that it is not always a good thing. When the game no longer is fun then it is time to put the game away for awhile. Some other coping mechanisms can be deep breathing, a realistic review of the game and the situation (with your help of course), and actually doing something else for awhile.

Rule Changes
There are times, that you have to change the rules to accommodate other players. Say if you are playing basketball with a younger child and want that child to have fun, you lower the basket and make the older child always shoot from the free throw line. Your aspergean will NOT get that this is fair. Be prepared for a meltdown of epic proportions. They will only see that you are changing the rules so someone else could win. They will view this as the ultimate betrayal and the destruction of their ability to be the best at the game they are playing. It does not matter to the aspergean youngster that the person they are beating is possibly years younger or have a physical disability. The rules to them are the rules. Well sometimes life requests that we make allowances for others and they need to understand that at a young age.

When CM1 was in middle school the children were playing kickball. They put a severally autistic boy on the opposing team.Now this boy could not really kick the ball and as with all ball sports, three strikes and you are out. When they continued to let the autistic boy try to kick the ball, CM1 was besides himself. He did not see an autistic child, remember CM1 understood quite well that he had autism too by this time, he only saw that someone was breaking the rules. This is mindblindness at it height.It is not your child's fault, but it is your fault if you allow it to linger without explanation.

Of course, the para who accompanied the autistic boy was beyond incredulous at CM1 for his attitude. He did not know that CM1 had aspergers. But once they explained it to him he understood CM1's issues too. They did take CM1 aside and try to explain it to him but he just wouldn't get it at all. When he got home we made a concerted effort to try to explain to CM1 that there are different levels of autism and that not all are like him.

I still remember when we signed up for a genetic testing program a nurse came to take the boys blood and both boys told her they did not know why they wanted to find a cure for autism as they were fine the way they were. She told them that they are some of the lucky ones and that there are alot of people out there who are very disabled and could not even talk because of their autism. That what they were doing was to help others. I swear I saw a lightbulb go off in CM1's head at that moment. He never questioned accommodating anyone ever again after that no matter what game they were playing and he even makes excuses for others (but not himself) if he knows they have autism (well except his brother). Yes the littlest thing will sometimes bring it all together for your children, you just need to keep plugging away at it until you find it.  It most certainly took time, alot of time and alot of years, but today both boys understand others' issue even if they cannot forgive their sibling their foibles.

I think it helped in many ways because over time CM1 and CM2 understood that they receive special accommodations because of their disability and that it is not a gift to make them win, it is a gift to make life even for them. To give them the opportunity to win if they can. That if they are entitled to accommodations for school and for certain aspects of life, then so are others who may have different issues. I suppose the fact that they did have to deal with the autistic boy who used to assault them did allow them to live the idea that there are different levels of autism too. Furthermore, since we live in a fully inclusive district they have had to deal with many different students over the years who have had many different disabilities and required different understanding  and rules adjustments.

Conclusion
Is there a magic bullet that allows you to teach your child about sportsmanship and that it is how you play the game not winning that counts? No not really. What I have found over the years is, as with everything with our children, you should just tape record the conversation and play it over and over and over again until the tape wears out and you make a new one and wear that one out as well. It is a continual emphasis of the rules while teaching around their mindblindness when it comes to the needs of others.

If all else fails too, take away the game or take them away from the game. It is one of those calls that you need to make at the time, in the moment of the event. But remember to prepare them for the game, prepare them that there may be a change of rules and prepare them too, that if they do not behave and show proper sportsmanship they will not be allowed to play, in the pool or on the playground or the computer. Teach them that actions have consequences whether it is being rude, disrespectful, lieing, hitting or tantrumming and ruining play for everyone else simply because you don't win. You will be doing them the biggest favor of their lives.

Until next time,


Elise

Friday, July 8, 2011

Transition Sucks...Just Saying

I have come to a conclusion that the way to totally freak out a very experienced teacher is to put them in the same room with CM2 and mention the word WALMART. At that exact moment of the utterance of the name of that megacorporation, CM2 turns into the possessed  Linda Blair from the Exorcist and proceeds to rail against the injustices towards the working class.



The teacher then tries to calm CM2 down while the para does his best to subtly point out to the teacher that she really should use another example of a multinational corporation, say like McDonalds. Eventually the teacher gets it and changes up her example, but in the meantime CM2 has gone from student to a person possessed by Legion.



Now, I had mentioned in an earlier blog, that CM2 was having a bit of an issue with transition. This is to be expected and in fact, it is the same issues that CM1 went through during his sojourn into the new world of college. Truthfully where CM1 was concerned we had no idea how bad it really was, we had not hired a para for him, as he did not want one...wanted to just blend in like everyone else. Now you couldn't blame the kid for wanting to be a typical 18 year old, but the truth of the matter is that we should have been more aware and on the ball when he transitioned into college. OK, hubby, the Wise Old Sage, wanted a para right away for CM1, but I wanted to let him try on his own. Well, it was a mess, but luckily we were able to get someone to work with him and she straightened him out tremendously.

Yes, I railed against the school district for not being upfront about CM1's issues upon leaving high school, but that is water under the bridge as they say and we learned our lesson and have preempted CM2. Honestly, it wasn't totally the school districts fault either. I have come to realize that at times, no matter what period of life you are in, especially when you are dealing with your children, it is quite possible to see what you want to see not what is truly there. So I learned my lesson well and have tried to be vigilant for CM2 so he doesn't have a similary hard time as CM1.

So the story goes, that the para was able to redirect CM2 after about 20 minutes by having him write down how he feels about Walmart in a notebook, while the class was able to continue on with the lecture. The professor approached the para after class and was not angry at all , but rather unsure what she was supposed to do when he got upset like that. The para said she was to do nothing, that that was his job. That was why he was there. Honestly I don't think she was against learning what to do, she did call the disability director right away, but she is a professor of sociology not a special education teacher. While it would be nice that people know what to do, it is more important that they let the para do his job. It is also nice that she seems interested in  CM2 and understanding him a little bit. It does help to understand, even if its only a precursory understanding of aspergers, if a child is in your class.

I contacted the disability director to talk to her about a plan for CM2 and as usual she was very supportive.  She told me that the professor has to set really strict boundaries for him. That it may seem like she is infantilizing him, being that he is in college, yet it is important that persons on the autism spectrum have clear and succinct rules of behavior. It is not infantilization but a huge help to these students. I am not sure how much the professor understood. I have come to the conclusion that no matter how educated you are unless you directly deal with persons on the autism spectrum it is all simply academic. You can talk about therapies and supports, but unless you understand and interact with an aspergean there is no way you are really going to "get it." I think this is because for so many, dealing with an aspergean, especially a college age adult aspergean, is counterintuitive to how society tells you to treat people of that age. It is hard for people to understand how someone as smart as the boys cannot know not to interrupt during a lecture, to not blurt out and not go BATSHITCRAZY when you mention the word WALMART.

So after talking to the disability director we have come up with several ideas:
- First, is that there should be a meeting with the director, the professor, the para and if CM2 wanted to attend to talk about class. I mentioned that it may be a good idea that I also speak to the professor at a meeting with the director only because, unlike with CM1, noone really knows CM2 just yet. I was not planning to be holding his hand the entire way. CM1 is pretty independent and works on self-advocacy, but the professors and the personnel at the school know my oldest child and understand him. If he ends up in a class without a para, which may be the end result this coming fall, he is not a surprise to them. The professors may not like that he has no support, but we can also just do so much. (I am not sure I want to hire another para for the boys. The gentleman that we have now is terrific and is a great role model for the boys. If the boys' classes conflict then the para will go with CM2. But I am hopeful that we can work something out. Two of CM1's professors have had him for several classes already and they do know him and his idiosyncrasies. So he is not a blank slate. It may not be easy for everyone involved, but I sense that the universe will help us figure this one out. So we shall see.) The director did say she would tell CM2's sociology professor of my offer.

- Second, is that we are going to write a bulleted list of dos and don'ts for CM2. Very short and very succinct ideas that he has to follow in class:
a. Raise your hand if you want to speak.
b. Do not interrupt the professor when she is speaking.
c. You may only ask three questions during a lecture.
d. Write down on a piece of paper any questions you do not get to ask at the moment during the lecture.
e. Do not yell when you speak, modulate your tone.
f. Respect others political opinion.
g. Do not call anyone names (he hasn't done this, but better to be proactive.)
h. When class begins, put away your handheld and iphone, take out your notebook and start to take notes.
i. Take only a five-minute bathroom break. (He hides in the boys room if he is terribly anxious).
j.  Remember to say please and thank you when talking to the professor and anyone else in the school.
k. If you feel yourself getting upset or overwhelmed, quietly leave the classroom and go in the hall to take a five minute break.

We are going to send this list to the disability director. She is going to look at it and add her own ideas. I think she will also show it to the professor to see if there is anything she would specifically like CM2 to remember. I think it will be OK in the long run. I told the director I felt bad for the professor. She assured me that the professor will be just fine. I guess in college everyone gets to learn something new all the time.

If anyone out there can think of anything to add put it in the comments, I would appreciate it.

Meanwhile, Wise Old Sage, had a bit of his own interaction with CM2 about his behavior and attitude in class. Apart from the fact that he was reminded that everyone is entitled to an education and that everyone pays alot of money to go to that school, he has no right to interrupt or interfere with anyone else's learning. We have never countenanced insensitivity towards others during any part of the boys' education and we are not going to do it now. You MUST learn to behave appropriately. That is it in a nutshell.

Then WoS asked CM2 what is his problem with Walmart. WoS told CM2 to go look up the charity that Walmart  is involved with and what other things they have done. How they provide goods to people that otherwise would not be able to afford them, and have brought untold number of jobs to areas all over the world. Is Walmart's policies perfect? Of course not, but its not something to go APESHIT over and ruin your class and come off like a jackass.

We told him if he wanted to get upset, get upset over genocide in Darfur or the slaughters in  Syria, Libya and Iran right now (But don't go overboard in class about these topics either)...Of course he is actually signed up for his freshman seminar which is Fathoming Genocide and the honors course the Power of Prejudice, discussing antisemitism, racism, Islamaphobia and general impolitic politics. In other words, the study of the demonization of others to hide your own failings, the use and the injustice of prejudice (by the way he chose these seminars out of dozens). CM2 is going to end up being as much fun as his older brother, you remember the History/Holocaust major.



Education is so you can learn to examine the realities and how they play into your world. Think analyze, examine and discuss. That is what he is there for, not to act out and to make everyone think they made a huge mistake letting him into that school. (P.S. no Walmart comments please, this is by way of discussion to calm CM2 down and teach him to think and not just react. And quite frankly to not get himself kicked out of college before his college career even begins.)

An interesting little bit of an aside. CM2 did tell the para how he feels very overwhelmed by the new school. He doesn't know where anything is and he doesn't feel very comfortable at the school. The para told him he would help him learn his way around and not to worry, it was going to be OK. I am so glad that CM2 opened up to the para. It is really good that he could voice his emotions and let others know how he was feeling.

We knew it would take time for CM2 to get used to the school. It is why we had him take this summer course to learn the school and learn a little about college level work. Could you imagine, five college level courses, social anxiety and getting to know your way around the campus at the same time for someone who needs structure and security. That would not have gone well at all. At least this way he will have an idea of how the school runs, where the stores, the cafeteria and the bathrooms happen to be and what is expected of him in a classroom, by the time September comes. If he gets comfortable enough he may even really be a bit more self-assured.

Meanwhile I don't think there is a problem with the professor. CM2 noticed that a required quiz was missing from the online website and I had him email the professor to tell her. She replied in a very nice email, thanking hm for letting her know and that she was going to fix the problem. Even if she was taken aback by his outburst she seems to understand that noone expects her to be a miracle worker when it comes to him. That everyone, the college, the disability director, the para and even we, the parents, have her back too. It is important, in my humble opinion, that you let people know, that this is a joint venture when it comes to our children and that you are always ready, willing and able, to help out anyway you can even if the school personnel don't think they need you.

So now off to get CM2 to do homework. There is a terrific syllabus for the class with study guides and on line practice quizzes and helpful websites for the students. I told CM2 that the professor has outlined the course in such a way and with such suggestions that there is no excuse for him not to get a good grade. At least there is no excuse for him not to try to get a good grade.

Wish us luck....We take each day as it comes....One Day More...



Until next time,


Elise