Archive for April, 2011


“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.


A bad day at school

As I was preparing to teach clarinet lessons, I got a phone call from the mom of one of my students, D.  She told me that D had decided not to come to his lesson that day, and that he needed to speak to me.  So I waited for him to get on the phone.

“Hello, ” he grumbled.

Man, was he seething!

“Hey, D. What’s….”

“I have decided not to come to clarinet lesson today because I was very angry at school today.”

“You had a bad day at school today?”


“What happened?”

“I got angry and lost the entire RECESS!”

“Oh, wow,” I said.

“So I’m too angry to come to clarinet lessons today!”

“Ok.  Do you want to make it up another time?”

“YEAH.  Bye.”

His mom then talked to me again, and said that D was really upset, and wasn’t coming today.  She said that she also told him that if he was going to make that decision, he needed to be the one to call me.  He needed to be responsible.

I told her, “Good job Mom!  Good words, D!”

We’ll make up the lesson.

D is learning his boundaries.  D is learning to take responsibility for himself and his decisions. I am trying to teach all of my children this, as well.

Kids growing up to be responsible adults: that gives me hope!

Wipa… Wipa good!

Sorry, I couldn’t resist!  Hubby and I went to an 80’s night fundraiser, and I danced my shoes off.  So I have 80’s music on the brain.

I became a “special needs parents examiner” for  When I started this freelance job, I sent out an informal survey to people in the disabilities field asking them what the best kept secrets are in my area for families and people with disabilities.  One of those things I learned about was WIPA.

Crack that “wip!”  “Wipa.. into shape…. shape it up…. wipa… wipa good…”  Ooops, sorry.

WIPA stands for Work Incentives Planning and Assistance. It is a program here in the USA for adults who receive SSI, or Supplemental Security Income, because…

1. They want to work.

2. They have a disability that impedes their working.

WIPA helps them obtain meaningful employment.

But let me back up for a minute to explain why else WIPA is incredibly important.

Tell me if this makes sense:

To receive SSI, which is based on personal income,  someone has to prove that he or she can’t work and  support himself or herself due to a disability.  For example…

  • a man’s autism keeps him from being able to function in the workplace.
  • Therefore, he can’t make a living wage, or enough income to support himself (food, shelter, etc.)
  • Since his disability keeps him from getting a viable job, he can qualify for SSI, to meet his basic needs.

But then, once he has proven that he can’t work due to his autism and begins to receive SSI income, he can indeed go to work.  Even though he has proven before that he is unable to work.

Did that make sense?

Yeah, I know.  Prove you can’t work, then once you do, find a job. It’s almost like, “April fool!” But not quite.

In my humble opinion, these laws just don’t make any sense.  As a parent of a soon-to-be adult, these laws are actually kind of scary.

So I’m glad that I found out about WIPA. Counselors with the WIPA program are trained to help navigate this territory .

Recently, I wrote an article called Working and disabled: it is possible . I explain this issue in more detail. What I found out was interesting, and it gives me hope for my boys–  if they do go on SSI someday, they can still have meaningful work.

Maybe we parents need to “crack that whip” on these laws…