Thursday, May 31, 2012

Demystifying Written Language

Language, as I have written before, is the bane of existence for my boys at times. Of course, as with everything about the boys, it depends on the situation. CM2 does seem to have a better handle on idioms and usage then his brother, so he doesn't miss as much when it comes to popular culture. And CM1writes with a talent that I wished I possessed. He is able to dissect, organize and understand complicated ideas as long as he can write them down and mull over them. So the demystification does depend on what is happening, when it is happening and what is required of the boys.

Written language also has many different aspects. We have to learn to read and write and understand. It is a multi-step process, that can overwhelm your child at any point in the process. In fact, I had thought that CM1 had it knocked at an early age. Yes he was hyperlexic, but he did understand what he read so I believed that there was no problem. I was wrong.

Reading comprehension was very hard for CM1 from the very beginning. I actually didn't even know that. No one explained it to me. I had thought in elementary school that everything was just fine and was quite surprised when they told me how they have to work  with him to get him to understand the assignments. They were shocked that I didn't know and were quite confused at my reaction. This was third grade.

I was concerned with CM1's handwriting and was concentrating on that and they literally thought I was nuts. I remember the look on the special ed teacher's face when I went on and on about his penmanship when she was trying to tell me about his reading issues. Yes we worked out our cross communication issues and everything went along fine. Apparently you do not need to have an autism spectrum disorder to not "get" what someone is telling you.

The way they taught CM1 to comprehend was to literally go line by line and have him explain what he read. Slowly they would add lines, work up to paragraphs and then eventually page by page. No he never did score really well on the state reading exams which was fine by me. It showed that each year he definitely needed the extra support and special education services that he received. His scores also proved that he needed that extra time on tests to process language.

Does this learning disability spell trouble in the long run for him? Not when given the proper accommodations: extra time, alternative location and use of a computer. At one point he even had the accommodation where the questions were read out loud and explained if he didn't quite understand them.

Early on in their education the teachers even wrote up modified tests for both CM1 and CM2. If the class was given a long essay they were given short essay or multiple choice questions. But remember as they got older and entered high school they didn't have the modified question tests at all. They had to pass like everyone else to receive an academic diploma. Actually that is not entirely true. When CM2 took some English classes in highschool they made certain that the questions he was asked were not abstract. The teacher made certain that the questions were pointed and specific. This did help him to understand and learn how to write test essays.

Note: abstract concepts may be very hard for your child. It is important to differentiate that issue from their communication and language issues. Abstract reasoning issues also don't necessarily have anything to do with Theory of Mind, which many people will try to tell you it does. They boys' issue with abstract reasoning is just as profound in math as it is in reading novels. It has nothing to do with not understanding emotions, which by the way they do. Understanding emotions is a large part of who they happen to be. They can feel and empathize with anyone and in many cases is more atuned to someone else's needs than any neurotypical person. The inability to "read between the lines" or project ideas or see "outside the box," as it were, is not always associated with ASD. Abstract reasoning is an issue and a learning tool independent of any other issue. Remember some of the greatest autistic minds can see such abstract realities that they change the direction of human history.

However, I do want to warn everyone that most of the accommodations your child has received from K-12 does not happen in college. If the class is given a particular essay question then that is the test your child will get as well. CM2 did not get a "modified" English exam this year at all. And guess what, he did really well. He received a "B" in that class.

It is important that everyone really understand that this is a huge process. It is not something that happens overnight. For the boys it took their entire K-12 education and quite frankly in college they are still learning how to use language properly. But you know what, they have found some amazing teachers that are happy to teach them.

In CM2's English class the professor would hand back his essays with typed pointers on how to fix his paper. The writing teacher didn't type her suggestions she handwrote them. They then allowed him to rewrite and "update" his essay before it was considered final (Yes they did this for ALL the students not just CM2, which is indicative of a terrific educational perspective. This is what you want in a college.) In fact the English teacher said to CM2 the most profound thing....she told him that she understood that the "reflective essay" was hard for him, but that he needed to do it inorder to create his graduation portfolio. So she was trying to help him with this issue. You can't ask for more than that in a professor.

As far as CM1 and writing is concerned. He "got it" in highschool. In fact his freshman essay teacher called during the spring semester and asked me point blank if I was "helping" him with is writing. I told her absolutely not. Not only would he not allow me to help him but how would he learn to write if I did it for him. Apparently his writing improved so much from the beginning of the year that it was completely noticeable and almost as if someone else was writing his papers for him. Then when he got to college he earned a reputation as an excellent writer. As I have said it is his gift.

No, the professors also do not let him rest on his laurels. Because he is so bright and so talented they like to challenge him to do better. Remember this is a good thing. It is part of education that they try to make you better than you are. It's the way you grow as a person and as a learner. He also always rises to the occasion. In fact one professor just met with him to go over how he footnotes his papers. What he had done was not the accepted present method and she didn't want him to lose any points. Also he has to do his senior thesis this fall and if the footnotes are not correct it won't be accepted. As I said, this school is all about education and teaching and making certain that the students actually do learn.

Well here it is language, writing and understanding. It is a huge issue for so many on the spectrum. But it is something that can be taught and your child with the proper supports can learn. But remember it is not something that happens over night. It has taken the boys decades actually to get to where they are and it will take more years until they reach their full potential. Honestly not certain that for a curious human being that the learning truly ever stops.

Don't forget, as I have written before, it is about the sure and steady pace. The turtle as you will, not the hare. Nothing happens overnight. It takes time. It takes patience. It takes perseverance. It takes a desire and a need. But that is OK. As long as all the elements are there, it will come. Will they one day be a Hemingway (hopefully not since he was a terrible misogynist) or F. Scott Fitzgerald (hopefully not because he was a terrible alcoholic) or Tennessee Williams (not sure about his foible but there has to be something right?)? I have no idea what their writing future holds for them. But if they want it something tells me they will accomplish that too.

Until next time,



Elise








Saturday, May 26, 2012

Misogyny, Autism Ignorance and Society in General

I have several issues that have made me angry over the last few days and I am just going to discuss them.

Once again I came across a blogger who ignorantly tried to tie autism and psychopathology together. Yes I left a scathing comment. Not sure how much good that does, but if one person sees it and then learns something I suppose I have done my job for the day. I had honestly thought that that crap about autistics being "mentally ill" was starting to get behind us in many ways. I suppose not. Ignorance holds on like a vice at times and the only way to combat it is to stand up to it. BTW I won't link to the blog. Its not a "big" blog, just some random individual and not really worth a litany of autism-warrior attacks. But suffice it to say if there is one moron out there, there are many where he came from....something akin to roaches actually. So the next question is what to do about society's perception in general?

Education of course is key, but how to get it into the wider mainstream market? Yes we can have movies about Temple Grandin and characters like Max on Parenthood, but really how many people actually pay that close attention? Or do they pay attention to the journalist who asks the inane question about a serial killer possibly having an autism spectrum disorder? Which reality gets posted into the psyche of society?

This attachment to ignorance is why I do not use the boys' names in my blog and we try to protect their privacy as much as possible. There is too much presupposing when it comes to person's with disabilities in our society, most of it all incorrect. It's not that the boys are ashamed of who they are, by no means. It is our, the parents knowledge of the greater world, that lends itself to this caution (And no the boys do not have to be the poster child for autism awareness. They were that their entire educational lives so far, enough really is enough.). It is also why before college we had the boys tested not only to prove that they still needed accommodations, but to show that they are only autistic NOT psychotic. That their mannerisms or idiosyncrasies are not dangerous and that they are not going to hurt someone. That their harmless characteristics are just that, harmless characteristics.

You know every time, I think we have moved forward as a nation, something really reminds me how far we still have to go.... on that note lets talk about misogyny and the degradation of women.

Whether you agree with her politics or not, a conservative commentator, SE Cupp, was just subjected to a revolting attack by Hustler magazine. In fact it was so disgusting that Gloria Steinem and the ladies of The View came out and condemned this action. What is it about society that people think its OK to call a women a nasty name or to produce vile, sexually explicit pictures denigrating them simply because you disagree with what they have to say? I have yet to see adult men do that to other men. Why is it OK to call conservative women vile names (you know the words I am talking about so I do not need to explicitly mention them) and then take their money in your political PAC? Where are all the pundits (and those on twitter who put "slut" in the avatar) who screamed about Sandra Fluke being called names and yet they remain quiet about this latest outrage? NOW by the way did condemn the Hustler attack but then backhanded the republicans. That is not a condemnation. That is their own inability to support conservative women simply because they are women. They were forced into a position that they had to stand up for SECupp and they did their best to continue their partisan politicking. BTW In my opimion the last descent president of NOW was Eleanor Smeal. Since then NOW has become simply an embarrassment to itself.



 
 
 
 
 
 
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Misogyny is a hate crime. It deprives women of their right to think, and discuss and most importantly to disagree with how men think or how the "powers that be" think. The problem that I see is that so many who continue the denigration of women are women themselves. Think Hollywood celebrities, comedians and pundits. These "women" act as if as long as the person is not of your "persuasion" than any attack is just fine and dandy.

Here's the answer NO IT IS NOT. Talk about the topics. Agree to disagree intelligently. But if you cannot argue with facts and figures and need to resort to name calling your position loses all merit. Remember that.

ANOTHER NOTE: What is this thing about Jenny McCarthy posing nude in Playboy to bring autism awareness. Who the hell asked her? First of all no, I am not a huge fan of hers to begin with, but her books, talks and appearances at least brought autism awareness out into the open. We don't have to agree with her, but it started many dialogues about ASD, which was a good thing. Still this recent act of hers just continues  the idea that the only way a women is worthy of attention is to be naked and to become objectified.

Sorry, no I do not want my children to be viewed through such a lens. There is an inordinate amount of disrespect that goes along with objectification and my children and all our children are entitled to respect. While this upsets me, I would probably be even more horrified if my autistic child was female. For this sends an even greater negative message to women on the spectrum. Sadly I don't think Ms. McCarthy truly understands that or quite frankly she is simply trying to jump start a stalled career and using our children in order to do that. Latest discussion in Forbes magazine.

The great irony here is that my boys, from a very early age, would not even watch beauty pageants because they objectify women. "Women are supposed to be my intellectual equal. Why would I objectify them in this way, " was what I heard from the minds of my sons. Interestingly their thought processes alone, I had nothing to do with it. CM2, I would even characterize as an ardent believer in women's rights. CM1 also believes in women's rights and is quite vocal about it, just not as passionate about it as his brother. I think they are of the generation that sees inequality and inequity and understands that something needs to be done about it. To them it is as natural as breathing. Of course who gets to define what defines women's rights and success (liberals or conservatives or something in between) they don't necessarily agree upon, just like society in general. As I said they think for themselves on everything,

So Jenny McCarthy not only doesn't speak for women when it comes to autism awareness. She doesn't speak for the autistics in society either. Someone needs to tell her that....

Anyway here are the thoughts that annoyed me over the past week. What do you think? What is your opinion?

Until next time,


Elise

5/26/12 Interesting Update: Apparently there is a nasty contest going on on twitter between a conservative pundit and a liberal pundit..the liberal is a woman. The conservative double-downed by using misogyny to attack her....HERE is the column from twitchy discussing it. Luckily there was quite alot of smack downs by the conservative cadre to garner respect for those who push this political ideology....but not quite enough to get this moron to shut the heck up.

The sad part is how many women on both sides of the political spectrum see nothing wrong with the "women-hating" as long as its their side directing it at someone withwhom they disagree  HERE. BTW I am Independent Patriot. That's my political profile on twitter.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

MEMORIAL DAY 2012

This weekend we honor those who gave their lives for this nation. It is fitting that we remember that Freedom is not free.

We sleep well at night because rough men (and women) stand ready to do violence in our name...George Orwell




Perhaps nothing speaks more eloquently to the sacrifice of the soldier than President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.




Our sons and daughters are still operating in fields of battle and could use some "loving" from home. Go HERE to order any number of care packages from Soldier's Angels and remind these wonderful young people that they serve a grateful nation.


GOD BLESS THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

GOD BLESS ALL WHO SERVE. 

May God bless them and keep them,
May he shine his countenance upon them,
May God grant us all PEACE.

Until next time,



Elise


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

...Nope, the Problem is not His Eyesight....

Hubby and I were having a discussion about me and what I can do with my extra time. It has been very difficult to think about going to work in an office considering I am still needed to ferry the boys around. CM1 can't drive because of the epilepsy but CM2 could certainly learn to drive and maybe take them both back and forth from their college. We do have a bus service that takes them most times, but the bus is not always available when the boys need to come and go.

Now if CM2 could drive, it could free me up to try to get out of the house more actually. There does come a time when you shouldn't have to wait around and play mommy-taxi anymore but I told hubby that is not how things are working out. I have accepted that and am trying to come up with some kind of business that I can run out of the house. Of course businesses run on clients and you are at their beck and call, so no that may not work either. Well anyway we are coming up with some ideas and working out some possibilities. No it really isn't easy.

Meanwhile since hubby decided enough was enough and CM2 needed to really learn to drive already, he took him out driving this past weekend. Upon coming home I asked CM2 how it went. He replied it was great. OK...On the other hand, hubby walked in the door and didn't look as if it had gone great. He actually looked a little like a deer caught in a headlight...

Yes CM2 drove on a regular street. Unfortunately for some reason though, he couldn't keep the car straight and kept skirting the little rain-ditch on the side of the road. In the park near our home, he almost hit the stop sign, and looked away from the road to watch dogs at play. Driving along the main road he was going too fast and when hubby told him to slow down instead of easing up on the gas pedal he slammed on the breaks. Then when the car came to a corner to turn right or left he couldn't make up his mind which way to go and they sat there for 5 minutes. A lady who had been driving behind them finally passed the car and gave them a big thumbs down. (Hubby was glad she didn't flip them the bird altogether.)

Hubby insisted that there had to be something wrong with CM2's eyes because noone could be that bad a driver. This is a youngman who spends his time in hand-eye coordinating virtual reality. How he could have no depth perception, no ability to coordinate when driving and no ability to make a decision which way to turn was mind boggling...Well the decision issue we kinda sorta understood as he does always have trouble making decisions. But the rest of it, just blew hubby's mind.

So off we went to the optometrist the next day. Took CM1 along for good measure too. Nope, not a darn thing wrongs with the eyes. They both see perfect 20/20.

The reality is that CM2 is  just so untalented when it comes to driving it is unfathomable. I am hoping that with more practice than once every few months he might get better. Of course that means someone has to go out with him too and CM2 definitely doesn't want me along. It also means we will send out warning signals in our area whenever he does get behind the wheel of a car.

My mother recommended we hire someone to teach CM2 to drive. Not because CM2 would drive any better being taught by a stranger than if his father taught him, but mom thought it would save the hubby from having a heart attack.

Needlesstosay my children have an ongoing contest to see who is the more Sheldonian...well in this case CM2 wins..Watch HERE to see why.


Until next time,

Promising to send out twitter alerts whenever he gets on the road,

Elise




Saturday, May 19, 2012

Dinner Table Conversation

Well its not really dinner table conversation, its sitting on the couch, eating on table trays, with the TV turned off conversation. We do have a table and chairs to eat at, but for some reason we have gotten into the habit of eating on table trays. Not really sure why. Could be that we are eating late and noone wants to pick themselves up off the couch and sit at the table. Yeah its a bit lazy and quite frankly I don't care at 9PM at night. We eat late.

We wait until the boys' adderall wears off and hubby doesn't really get home from work until that time too. Remember adderall inhibits the appetite, so if they ate earlier they wouldn't really be hungry and would need to eat all over again. Why make two dinners every night? Right? And no don't tell me not to medicate them, go holistic or use oils. No its not diet related either. It's called autism related ADHD  and they need medicine to focus, control impulses and make their lives better, more enjoyable and productive. Yes, I believe in modern medicine for every aspect of the body. Whether its antibiotics for bacterial infections, modern drugs to fight cancer, laparscopic surgery for heart/appendix/spleen surgery (instead of the way all surgeries were done even ten years ago), and psychiatric medicines to help with neurologically based life affecting disabilities. Medicine evolves and so should the attitude towards getting the necessary help and support your child and you many need when any and all issues arise.

Hubby doesn't like that we don't sit at the table. He says it doesn't help with etiquette for the boys. Probably not. The act of sitting down to dinner, with appropriate distance between you and the table, sitting on the chair, how to hold the napkin, etc is a large part of social interaction.  But on the other hand if they are doing some of the same manners and feeling comfortable to talk to each other, I don't see the horrible nature of it. No it is not a perfect situation and YES we should sit at the table, but I am not going to lose sleep over this issue. Well not now. Probably sticking my head in the sand a little bit for the time being, but sometimes you need to not worry about every little issue.

And yes, hubby is right. The major obstacle that the boys face right now is social skills and social interactions. Not as a child but on an adult level. How to behave, talk to and eat as an adult in the business world is a skill we are beginning to work on with both boys. Well, mostly with CM1 since he is much older and has exhibited social issues with the "work paradigm." That is why we have hired the speech therapist and the behavioralist in order to help him learn how to interact on an adult level in the workplace. Hubby also mentioned that in the adult working work being able to go out to lunch and dinner with other people is a skill that is necessary to get ahead. Knowing how to sit at a table and converse with people while not using your shirt to wipe your hands, eat with the proper utensils and chew your food properly is definitely something that needs to be practiced over and over again.

Yeah, my bad and my laziness...but this too shall pass....

Meanwhile our dinner conversation became rather heated last night. As usual one of the boys brought up a rather interesting topic. CM2 wanted to discuss the Establishment Clause and First amendment freedom of religion.  Yes, this is the level of our topics. We don't bring these issues up the boys tend to do just that. Of course, it was a break from the issue of the existence of God, the Presidential election, the economy and the holocaust.

CM2 decided that "separation of church and state" is implied in the Constitution. I told him that it was not, that it was from something Thomas Jefferson wrote. That there was no indication that the foundling fathers thought that we as a nation were to be devoid of religion, just that the government cannot decide that there is a state religion.

Hubby mentioned to him that we are a nation founded on Judeo-Christian ideals and that it is a big part of our history. CM2 refused to listen to anything we said in rebuttal to his thesis. Not surprising as he is 18 years old and knows absolutely everything right now.

CM2 was incensed that we didn't agree with him, so hubby went on the iPad and Googled articles on the topic. (That little tablet is just so handy to have around.) The first article CM2 rejected because he said that it came from a conservative website and that meant it didn't count. So hubby then went on Google again and found an article from a Law related website.

Interestingly CM1 had no opinion on the topic, even though he just finished a class on civil liberties. I suppose he had had enough of the subject for the time being.

It's been 24 hours. So far CM2 has not read the article. He said he would read it eventually. I know it really sucks when your parents are right.

People wonder why I keep a bottle of aspirin in the kitchen....


Until next time,



Elise

HERE is the link hubby found.


Friday, May 18, 2012

My New Autism-Warrior-Anthem

Donna Summer, the Queen of Disco, passed away this week at 63 after a long battle with cancer. Here is her last hit from 2008. I can't tell you how this song speaks to me about our fight for our children's rights....It's my new anthem.





Requiscate en Pace Donna. You gave the world alot of joy with that great voice of yours.

Until next time,

Come boogie with me all you autism-warrior-parents,

Just make sure to  Stamp Your Feet,



Elise

BTW I have written a longer ode to Donna at my other blog The Rediscovered Self





Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Are You Optimistic?

From TED, The Optimism Bias
About the speaker Tali Sharot












I wonder if the speaker ever interviewed autism-warrior-parents? It seems to me that we do not live our lives so much with the idea of optimism as with reality and doing what is best to make sure that our children have the choice to be optimistic about their future. I personally do not think of myself as one who is optimistic. Now don't get me wrong, I am a can-do parent. I demand that my children be allowed to be seen as human beings with the same rights as everyone else. But I don't know how that fits into being optimistic.

I  do know that I always plan for the worst and hope for the best. I obsess about the worst in fact, sometimes to the distraction of the hubby.  I know I used to lay awake at night before any IEP meeting and figure out all the ways things could go wrong, even though the issues with the school district had been ironed out years earlier. I suppose I always worried about someone somewhere backsliding on the boys.

Yes we do worry about the boys' future prospects in life, constantly. We try to think how we could work issues through. I am sitting here dreaming about what to do for CM1 if he doesn't get into law school, and then I am worrying about how to get him the accommodations he will need when he does get into a law school. Hubby isn't concerned about him getting accepted. I am worried about his LSAT being flagged and that it will have an effect on his admissions. I derive multiple plans for the future and multiple coordinated beachhead assaults. I live my life as if I am fighting a several front war. I do not call that very optimistic. You see, whenever we have let down our guard we are blindsided by people's ignorance, so I keep a running theater in my head of possibilities and plans of action.

But then again, I remember the day that CM1 was diagnosed with PDD-NOS, and the doctors could give us no assurances as to his future, I said..."Nuts to that." No one was going to tell me my child wasn't going to have a future. So I set about making certain that he had the future he was entitled to have. Perhaps that is in and of itself optimistic. I didn't allow past information or perceptions of those with autism to cloud my fight for the boys' future. Perhaps it is optimistic to ignore the "powers that be" and wage the war you know needs to be fought. Is it not optimistic to think that by sheer force of will you can accomplish any goal you set your mind to?

So in the end maybe I am optimistic simply because I refuse to accept the numbers and the percentages and that the past is prologue. Personally I refuse to believe that you can't direct the future or shape it.  Nothing is written. Nothing is fated. We stand or fall simply because of our own choices and our own beliefs. If you believe that you will falter you will falter. It's not about being smacked down in life, its about what you do when you get back up that counts.

Or maybe its an American thing (the speaker in the video is from the UK). We of course here in the US are a different breed of traveler on this Earth. Descended from those that sought a better world (yes many of us were thrown out of the more civilized nations that existed at the time- many did not leave of their own accord). We are a nation of iconoclasts. Bucking trends and convention to forge ahead with our own ideas and our own way of viewing the human species. Believing that freedom and human rights are inherent in every person on the planet Earth and refusing to believe that we need to make accommodations, or common cause, with those who wish to destroy the human spirit. This is optimism. It is the belief formed over 250 years ago among a group of farmers, lawyers, politicians and merchants that they could challenge the greatest power on Earth and tell it to take a hike (Declaration of Independence). It is a belief that People can rule themselves and  make their own decisions (US Constitution).

Maybe it goes hand in hand..this optimism, this American thing and this autism-warrior-parent persona. I don't know for certain. What I do know is that I don't  call it optimism to fight the good fight. But then again,  if humans were not optimistic why would we strive for a future at all? I call it seeking the future...if that makes me optimistic then so be it.  In other words, is optimism, the rose colored glasses way of viewing the world, the future and life in general, a bad thing? I hardly think so.

Are you optimistic?  Tell me what you think.


Until next time,


Elise



Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happy Mother's Day


Seriously, try to do something for yourself today. I know its hard to get off that treadmill. But girl you are entitled to one day a year to make yourself a priority.



Until next time,



Elise



Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tell Those Who Say Your Child Can't to "Suck It"

OK, so not the most elegant  blog title I could think of. In fact it pretty much breaks all the rules of etiquette that I try to teach the boys, so we are going to keep this one particular malfeasance just between us. But I want every parent who reads this blog to know that your child can do anything they set their mind to. Well even if they don't set their minds to it, you just need to keep pushing them in the right direction so that they meet their potential.

Today was CM2's last freshman year final exam. He is officially a sophomore in college. Yes, he gets all kinds of accommodations and yes he has a para go with him, but the work and what emanates from his mind is all him. Yes, we have massive fights about studying and doing his work, but he does it and he does it fairly well. No, this does not mean he gets all A's. Honestly I think if he put as much effort into his school work that he does he video games he would get all A's, but you know what sometimes he is also just an 18 year old college kid who really couldn't be bothered.

Sometimes he is simply like his 18 year old neurotypical compatriots who played during spring break instead of studying or who went out partying the weekend before finals instead of studying. So everything that he is or that he does is not simply because of his autism, alot of who he is and how he acts is because he is an adolescent male. You know one of the great unwashed and the rather unkept members of society who can't figure out why if they go to a job interview unshaven, in wrinkled clothes and without a proper resume they can't get a job. Yeah the next generation, the ones we are handing everything over to in a few short decades. Those people.....

Well he is one happy boy right now. By the way so is CM1, who also finished yesterday. CM2 is sitting at his desk, playing on his video games without a care in the world. Later this afternoon, we are going to clean out both boys offices, rather we are going in with gloves, clorox, and fumigation equipment to clean out both of those offices.  I tend not to bother them too much during the semester. I know they have their executive functioning issues and organize their world the way they understand it. I only intervene if I think its getting close to hoarder or health department condemnation status. But this afternoon, I am going in armed with rather large garbage bags.

Honestly it really hasn't been an easy year for CM2. Transitioning into college and learning what was expected of him was something very difficult for him to absorb. In truth he didn't like it, not one bit. Also finding out that his desired major is going to be problematic for him did not make things pleasant either. We are not quite certain how that "major" choice is going to be handled. Hubby and I were thinking that he should probably downgrade his major to a minor and pick something else to study intensively. The only problem is that everything he wants to do revolves around computers, but have you ever heard of a computer scientist who had problems programming? Well that is where we are now and that is the issue we need to address. Not so much that he can't do it, but how to get him to understand how to do it and to absorb the information so he understands it in a way that is comfortable for him. Figuring this little (BIG) glitch out is my project for the summer.

Meanwhile we march into the summer with some kind of plan: CM2 will take a class in July. CM1 will hopefully get some kind of job (fingers crossed) and study for the LSATs. He is scheduled to take the law boards this fall and apply to law school during his senior year. I hope everything goes well. Yes something new to obsess over. Why not, its always something isn't it?

So for a few months it will be calmer and quieter. Not so much rushing about and not so much pressure on the boys. It will be good for them. Honestly I think it will be good for all of us. We all need a break from the stressors now and then too.

But in the meantime, I wanted everyone to remember, that when we began this journey two decades ago, noone but noone would tell us where it would end. In fact the only things they would say is to prepare for the worst. Even when CM1 went to start college four years ago, they gave him (and us) a hard time, until I sic'ed an attorney on them. Tried to bully us into withdrawing him from school in fact. They of course didn't know that they were dealing with autism-warrior-parents and quite frankly, me imparticular, who invokes her inner-bitch.

I do have to say that the college has ended up being one of the boys' biggest supporters and very understanding of who they are, so in the end it really did work out well. But not to forget that I had to "dig my heels in" and the college had to be educated about autism and who the boys are. We had to teach the college that they need to see the student as an individual before they see the disability. Honestly by the time CM2 began his studies, none of the issues we faced with CM1 even existed to talk about. It was assumed that certain supports would be in place and that we would work with the school to make sure that the boys had the best education while respecting everyone else's right to learn too.

As I have said behavior and expectations at college are not lessened for someone on the autism spectrum. They can have supports to meet those requirements, but they must meet them like everyone else who attends post-secondary education. Preparation, understanding and coordination is key. Just like in K-12. So make sure you find a school that is willing to work with you to these ends. They are out there. You just need to look.

So whenever anyone tells you that your child can't, remember YES THEY CAN. If given the right support and accommodations and understanding our children can do anything they want including driving their parents to distraction during their freshman year of college.

Going to wade my way through the boys' offices now...if you don't hear from me in a few days send out a search team.....




Until next time,




Elise










Sunday, May 6, 2012

Stayin' Alive

Yeah its nostalgia week for me. Saturday Night Fever was another movie of my adolescence. It introduced us to a rather handsome youngman named John Travolta.



OK if you watched a little comedy show called Welcome Back Kotter, you had been aware of JT for some time before the movie came out in theaters.



Considering right now, we are working our way through take home finals, final papers and studying for in-class exams, I can't wait until the end of the week. As usual CM1 is over-thinking everything....CM2 isn't thinking through anything enough and I am caught in the middle trying to keep everyone on track. Here's hoping we make it to Wednesday....



Yeah I know I am being dramatic. We will be fine. Not sure in what shape (grades ahem) we will be in, but we will be fine.

Until next time,


Elise




Saturday, May 5, 2012

Social Stories; Scheduling (Transition): Pragmatic Speech

Here is a list of some of my favorite posts dealing with social stories, schedules and pragmatic speech. The resources at the bottom of this page are a basic place to start. Turn to the Helpful Websites on this blog for further information.

Social Stories,  Purpose and Use
Social Stories: Behavior Lessons
Of Triggers, Charts, Scheduling and Perspectives
Generalizing the Specifics
Sportsmanship and Mindblindness
Mindblindness, Obstinancy
Sibling Relationships and Mindblindness
Talking About ESY
Back to School Transition and Perspective
Transition Sucks...Just Saying
Review and Reset
The Art of Conversation
Appropriateness and the Greater Society
Politics, Hitchcock, and Patience or Raise Your Damn Hand
Manners, Etiquette and Social Convention
Fractal Moles, Unanswered Emails and a Totally Inappropriate Parental Response
Pragmatic Speech, the Autistic Mind and Telling Your Professor He is Wrong
Sassy Mouth
Self-Esteem: It's Not a Trophy, It's Reality
"Science" of Autism-Who Gives a Crap-Practical is What Counts

Resources:
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association: Pragmatic Speech
The Gray Center: Social Stories
Circle of Friends 
Executive Functioning


Remember. never forget to ask your service providers questions. You have a right to require answers and progress reports.


Until next time,


Elise


OK So I Missed Star Wars Day

The original trailer for Star Wars IV, A New Hope....




 



I remember when this was new and not nostalgia. SIGH....



Until next time,



Elise



Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Sensible Approach to Traveling with Autism and the TSA

I am guest posting at autistic globetrotting.






We consistently hear about nightmares that people suffer at the hands of the TSA. But I want people to keep something in mind…thousands if not millions of people travel on a daily basis and these intrusive incidents are few and far between. A lot of it has to do being properly prepared. Like it says in the boyscout motto. Ok sometimes that doesn’t’ help either, but in reality being prepared could avoid many issues that people have.

Travel with children who are on the autistic spectrum can seem rather daunting to the best of us. Now with the implementation of airport security we have yet another hurdle to jump over in order to make certain our children have a pleasant trip. Having just returned from a trip this is what we did to prepare for the airport.



Let me explain a little about us. The boys are not boys anymore; they are youngmen, both in college. They are at an age when they can participate in the planning and execution of trip preparation. They are very aware of what it takes to go through security. We traveled extensively right after 9/11 and both boys were consistently pulled out of line and even patted down. They did not mind it. It actually gave them a sense of security. Remember that…you want to make certain your child is left with a sense of security.....





Until next time,



Elise