Archive for April, 2011

Spring fever

It’s been a weird week, and I think my spring fever has affected my brain.

My routine is off. The kids were off school Monday for Spring  Break (the more “pc” term for Easter holiday), then there was a two hour delay later in the week due to bad weather.

My spring fever is making me try new things– I applied for a teaching job at a local college.  I’ve worked on my talk that I’m giving in a couple of weeks.

The spring fever has led me to “nest.” I’ve been reusing / recycling things around my house to make my living room / office a better place to work.

By the way, I think I’ll really like the chocolate brown + robin’s egg blue, and I’m going to throw some orange accents around.  I read somewhere that deep brown is relaxing, the blue promotes serenity, and the orange will energize me.

Lord knows that I need all three desperately right now. At times during this past week, I’ve felt that I could fall asleep standing up.

My concentration hasn’t been all that great. Today I used a drop spreader to spread some granules on my front lawn.  (For you who are lawn and garden challenged, like me: a drop spreader is a push cart thingy that holds granules of lawn food, etc.  When the wheels turn, it “drops” the granules evenly on the grass.)  This time I used weed and feed,  killing the bad stuff (“weed…”) and fertilizing the good stuff (“… and feed”).  Our dandelions are out of this world, and I finally remembered to take care of this amidst all of the other stuff happening.

Somehow I missed the part about putting 5 feet between passes.  Instead, I spread the weed and feed like I was mowing the yard.  Not 5 feet, but 0 feet between passes. I used the whole bag, which was supposed to cover 5000 square feet of lawn, in half of my front yard.

My husband says we’ll have to mow twice as often this summer.  Since we pay Josh to mow, we could be in debt… all because of a $10 bag of weed and feed.

And  in between all of this, my kids have been very unusual.  No, seriously, more unusual than usual.

Philip got “star of the week” in music at school, and played a song while the school chorus sang it.  This is unusual, but it is pretty cool!

Josh worked again, and is loving his job.  Since he’s started his job, he has also been calmer.  He’s also been sleeping more. A good unusual.

And my daughter has started being more of a girly girl and less of a tomboy.  She’s growing her hair so she can have a pony tail.  Perhaps this isn’t unusual– maybe it’s a new usual.

Spring fever has hit. Everyone is growing, along with the grass (and hopefully NOT the dandelions).   And I don’t know if my brain will keep up.  Where’s that personal assistant?

It takes a village

Not so “light” memories flood my over-analytical mind.

As I have shared, I am an ordained pastor, currently on family leave.  Right now I find it impossible to take good care of my family and be a minister of a congregation.

Sometimes I wonder if I could do both, if the church truly behaved like…well… the Church.

I accepted an invitation to speak at my church about the responsibility of the congregation to care for all of it’s children.  In my tradition, the church is a family.  As members, we vow to nurture one another, provide a community of love and forgiveness, and to pray for one another. We claim our identity as part of the “family of God,” the “Body of Christ, where no part is more important than another.”  We promise to support and  care for one another.

Sadly, in my experience, many times these promises have been empty. Many times, I’ve found more support outside of the church than inside.

Once, I pastored two small churches full time, while parenting a very active toddler.  Like many parents of children on the autism spectrum before the diagnosis, I knew something was “off.”  I didn’t know what it was, so I did the best I could.

Some well-meaning (?) church members  told me that if I was only a better mother, he would behave better. Others said that I should quit my job and be a stay-at-home mom he’d be more well-adjusted.  Someone advised me to spank him.  Another told me that I  wasn’t a good example for the other moms in the congregation. Being a first-time mom, I thought these people might be right.

So much for a community of nurturing, love, and forgiveness.

I was perplexed. I was trying my best, but was very frustrated. I inquired about taking a parenting class offered by the county government. But when I spoke to them, they asked me if I would like to teach the parenting class.

I began to realize that was doing the very best I could, and that there might be something else going on. I called early intervention, and eventually my son was diagnosed with autism.

How did my church respond?  It was mixed. There were some people who supported me wholeheartedly and said they’d be there for me and my family no matter what it took.  Others seemed to have an “I told you so” attitude, and I heard one person say, “Well, no wonder!”  Overall, I felt alone and scrutinized.

The emotional toll of the nay-sayers, the attackers, and accepting a diagnosis was too much.  I left.  My journey to healing and acceptance began.

We found a faith community where we are accepted and included.  When my stepson moved in, I was even more grateful for this community. My church is not perfect, but they really care and want to include all of us. They have done many things “right.” They are open to education and learning. They have helped me to lighten up a bit.

I now train faith-based and non-profit organizations to welcome and include people with special needs and their families. I hope they will learn from my story, good and bad, and be open to others who are different and actually celebrate those differences.  I hope that others will see the lighter side of autism and other differences, and the joy that comes from acceptance and welcome.

As one of my colleagues says, “Thanks for listening with your eyes.”

My boy takes care of me

So,  for the second time, I sprained my right ankle and bruised my left knee.

Yes, once again, a kid’s shoe was at the bottom of a step.  So I didn’t see it, stepped on it with said right foot, fell down on my left knee, and almost passed out from the pain. Then I gave a speech about the importance of putting away shoes as I laid on the floor.  I struggled to get up, then had to sit down because I was blacking out.

Same place, same scenario, for the second time.  Only this time I tripped over my daughter’s cowboy boots.  Last time it was my son’s sneakers.

But the bright side?  My boy noticed and tried to come to my rescue.

For the first time.

First, he ran out to the back yard and got my hubby. Then, he came to me, rubbed my arm, and said, “Awww, Mom, we have to get you to the hospital.”  I explained that it wasn’t that bad, that I was a pro and knew how to take care of my ankle and knee.  I gave a speech about putting away the darn shoes and then hobbled around finding the ace bandage while my husband got me an ice pack.

As I was elevating my foot (using the RICE method: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation… very well known to me by now), Philip came and sat with me in the recliner.  He put his arm around me and rubbed my shoulder.

(Of course, I had to call to my husband and ask him to take a picture… so I could blog about this.  And then I had to erase the background to hide the mess, LOL.)

After cuddling for a while, Philip said, “I’ll be right back!” and went out of the room.

And indeed he was “right back,” with a plate of grapes and a cup of orange juice.  “I’ll help you feel better, mom.”

And he did.

It was a landmark day for us.  Not because it was the second third fourth time I’ve sprained my right ankle since we moved into this house 4 years ago, but because it was the first time my son gave me TLC verbally and physically.  He’s  just breaking stereotypes all over the place!

Helicopter mom?

I’ve  been hearing about “helicopter parents” lately.

I don’t think I qualify.

As I write this, I feel guilty for not going to see my son compete in the local Special Olympics event.

Am I a bad mommy?

I don’t think so, although the mommy guilt disagrees. I’m tempted to engage in some self-flagellation.

I’ve reminded myself to lighten up.  I’ve asked myself, “What do I do?”

I do homework with the kids; shuttle them to all of their things, snuggle and hug and kiss them too much a lot; enjoy reading with them; listen to them; referee their arguments; attend all the award ceremonies, concerts, and recitals; have one on one time with them; meet with teachers and other school staff to advocate for them and plan their educations; sign up to be a room parent…

You get the idea.

Last time I went to the Special Olympics, my presence kind of messed him up.  Don’t get me wrong, really I loved watching and cheering him on. I think I even cried.

On the other hand, he could have actually won the race.

He thought I was on the sideline instead of waiting for him at the finish line.  So he kept looking to the side, and running in the direction he was looking.  So instead of running in a straight line, he ran in a diagonal line, and came in third. I bet if he ran in a straight line, he would have won.

I wish I could teleport myself to and from his event, without him knowing.

But I can’t.  And I need time to myself today, and don’t feel like dealing with the crowds. So I will say lots of prayers and cheer him on in spirit.

Run like the wind, son!!!

Epilogue: When he got home I asked him how it went.  He said, “Good!” Then he paused and said, “When I’m there can you come watch me mom?”  Mommy guilt is on full force now! Social story now about how to ask mommy ahead of time?  🙂

This is me! (Where’s my pants?!?)


Drawing by my beautiful daughter

BB’s mum over at Mum Accepting Autism tagged me for a meme!  My first meme!

It’s simple.  You have your child/ children draw you, post it, link to the “this is me linky,”  and then tag others to do the same.

The boys refused to do it, the stinkers.  But my daughter was very excited and happy to oblige!

Note: I asked what happened to my pants.  She rolled her eyes and told me it was a dress.  Well, I do not wear dresses that short, nor do I own a pair of red heels :-).  But as she states, she is the fashion person, not me.  So maybe I should own a mini and some funky red heels! And some shiny red lipstick.  (My husband totally agrees, by the way.)

My eyes are blue, that’s true. And they probably are wide much of the time (as in, Stop that right now!) Perhaps my fists are clenched part of the time. My hair does have highlights in it, and once she drew me so my head looked like a beautiful autumn leaf display.  This time it’s brown.  I wonder if my neck is really that thick… I’ll go check…. hmmm… nope.  (Whew!)

So now it’s my turn to tag…

Danette at Everyday Adventures

Trish at Another Piece of the Puzzle

Big Daddy at Big Daddy Autism

Have fun, and don’t forget to link to the linky.

I made a blog list!

What an honor!  My blog is on RN Central’s  list of 50 blogs you should bookmark for autism, along with Big Daddy Autism, Another Piece of the Puzzle, and Journeys with Autism, all of whom I follow.  I found many other blogs on that list that I can’t wait to check out.

Seems that the  RN’s were interested in my post about going off the diet.

I will tell you that I am glad to be off of the special diet, and I’m also glad to see many more options available for those on special diets.  Recently, a pizza shop called The Wild Tomato opened up near me, and they are one of several pizza joints selling gluten free options around here.  The Wild Tomato also focuses on fresh, local ingredients… I am going to try them soon! Jamie Oliver would be proud.

So much for my rambling post today… thanks to the folks at RN central for noticing my blog,  and to you who are reading for putting up with me today.  🙂


PS… I also got a meme, and am really looking forward writing about it next time! Thanks, bbsmum!

Feingold diet friendly food!

from the Feingold Association of the United States

Hey there!    Just got this link, and I wanted to share it with my readers, fellow bloggers, and autism parents.
Do you know anyone on the Feingold diet?   The web site says, “many learning and behavior problems start in your grocery cart.”

Although I do not think that this is the case for everyone, I do know that diet can aggravate  or even cause symptoms in some people with autism, adhd, and other such issues. We found this to be true with my son, as he followed the gf/cf diet for many years. My neice, who has ADHD, had significantly decreased symptoms when she stayed away from artificial additives and dyes.

People who follow the Feingold diet avoid artificial everything, including dyes and sweeteners. It’s not easy to do, as you can imagine.  I know kiddos on the spectrum who tried this diet… and some whose parents won’t try this diet because it is so hard.  I don’t blame them at all.  GFCF was hard enough.

So, as I’ve said before, that’s one of the reasons why I signed up to be a Wildtree rep.  We use nothing artificial, manufacture our own products in a peanut free facility, and strive to make meal planning easy for everyone.    Check my website for more information.  Or, click on the “Wildtree Doc” tab above.

I do make money from Wildtree, and business is great. But please believe me when I say that my passion isn’t for selling… it’s for helping families like mine.  I promise.  🙂


“There are jelly bird eggs on the right in front of the house, birds!”

Photo by Maria Corcacas

This was the note that I came home to a couple of days ago.

My mother-in-law had given us two bags of jelly beans.  One bag was called “jelly bird eggs.”  Philip, being literal, and finding his sense of humor, scattered the jelly bird eggs and left a note for the birds to read.  Just in case they were interested, I suppose.

The eggs are still there, to his disappointment.  I’m hoping that they dissolve in this rain we’ve been having lately– then maybe he’d think that the birds finally ate their snack.

Photo by Jyn Meyer

Yes, since discovering that magnets stick to our front door, my son has been writing notes for birds.

And for us.

“Dear Dad,

Please check your room for the video game controller.  If it’s not there, check the basement.



Foiled again! He knows where we hide the darn thing!

“Mom, please tell Dad not to tell me no video games.”

I think there’s a theme here.

Now he’s writing notes in his home/ school TSS communication book.  (Find out what a TSS is here.)  It’s meant for parents and TSS’s, but Philip wanted to add his two cents.  Since he has been having “green days” lately (meaning “no behavior issues”), he has written notes to his TSS’s:

Thanks for me staying on green!  🙂 Philip 🙂

I’m loving this communication.    I am fascinated by reading what he is thinking.  I’m hoping for more.  And more and more and more!

Woo hoo, the ultimate blog party

Ultimate Blog Party 2011

Welcome to my blog!

My name is Elizabeth Givler.  Here’s my family picture:

Photo by Kathryn Dixon Photography

Aren’t we cute?

I’m pretty new at this.  I began blogging in December 2010.  And I just read about the Ultimate Blog Party today, so I’m so happy to meet all of you who are joining in!

I blog about autism from the lighter side.  Both my stepson (the oldest kid in the back) and my son (with his head to the side… that’s just what he does when the camera is sidways!) have autism spectrum disorders.  My daughter has no diagnosis other than extreme creativity!

I blog about the lighter side of life.  I was very afraid when my sons were diagnosed with autism.

I don’t remember how long it took, but one day I saw the lighter side. I could either approach this with a sense of humor or drown in frustration and sorrow.

I chose the humorous approach.  Then came advocacy, social stories, educational journeys… and I approached them also with as much humor and lightness as I possibly could.

Humor and lightness are the approaches that work for me.  Yes, I still get frustrated, and yes, we still have our “moments”, however every day there is laughter in my house.

The goal of my blog is to share with you the ways I have found to lighten the load and brighten my days, and share what I have learned and continue to learn along the way.  Comments are welcome.  Thank you for stopping by!

Movin’ on up: middle school

This afternoon was our “transition meeting” for my little guy, who will be going to middle school in the fall.

Wow. My boy is growing up.

Mixed emotions are flooding my brain and heart.

I am struggling with the simple fact that my boy is going to middle school in the fall.  It’s a cliché, but just yesterday he was a baby.  And a cute one, at that.

I am freaking out a little apprehensive about this transition.  I went to a tiny rural high school… only 29 in my graduating class.  He’s going to a suburban middle school with 616 students… bigger than my whole school district (waaaay back then).  The cafeteria at his new school will be like a food court.

On the other hand, I am grateful and hopeful.

Since he will have a “food court” next year, I am grateful that he could successfully go off of his special diet.  He will have lots of choices.

The elementary staff present at today’s meeting said  good things about my boy.  He’s funny…a good kid… hard worker… a talented musician… we’ll miss him.

The middle school teacher and middle school special ed supervisor were seemingly receptive to everything that I overloaded them with threw at them shared with them. I am hopeful that middle school might not be as scary for me for him as I thought. It seems that we’re on the way to being a real “team” in this next stage of life.

Notice I said “seemingly” and “seems”.  I’ve learned that things aren’t always what they seem.  However, I’ve also learned little tricks to help make these IEP teams truly “teams” and not adversarial, as long as everyone is willing to listen and work together.  (I highly recommend Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy: The Special Education Survival Guide. It has helped me immensely! Check it out.)

The secondary special education supervisor said that there will be bumps along the way.  I agree. He also said that we’ll handle them and keep the communication open, and hopefully smooth out those bumps as the year progresses.  I hope, I hope, I hope!

By the way, I let the supervisor know that he’s “dealing with me now,” and that I deal with things a little differently than my husband, who deals with oldest son’s special ed stuff.  I’m more proactive.

According to the staff and teachers so far, my reputations precedes me.

It goes something like this: “She’s reasonable, willing to listen and negotiate.  But she’s also unafraid to fight for her children.” They only have to look in their educational files to see the letters that I have written to advocate for my kids.

I am hopeful, yes I am.  I am proud of my boy.  And I am looking forward to a bright future.

And if those bullies dare bother my son, there will be hell to pay.