Posts Tagged ‘autism’

Really? An author with autism?

My boy and I were in the library when we happened to see the book Born On A Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant by Daniel Tammett.

I told my son, “Hey, look that that book!  The author has autism.”

My son stopped in his tracks.  He looked at the book and picked it up.

“Do you like this?” he asked.

“Yes, I do.  I’ve read it.”

He proceeded to read the back of the book. He looked very thoughtful.

“I have that book, if you want to borrow it.”


He put the book back, and we walked on out of the library.

“You know that you have autism, right?” I asked.

“Mmm hmmm.”

“You could write a book someday too, if you want, or do anything else you want to do.”

“I know!”

We have always been open about my sons’ autism in our home.  We figure that they are going to know that they are different somehow, and rather than shock them with the news we will just embrace the differences with humor and hope.

I am hopeful, because my son seems to believe in himself.  I hope that he continues as life changes throughout middle school, high school, and adulthood.

What are things you do to instill self confidence and hope in your kiddos,
“spectrum” or not?

Finding a dentist for special needs kids

Photo by Milan Jurek

This is an article I wrote last year  for Children’s Dental Health Month.  –Elizabeth

Good dental hygiene can be almost impossible for some special needs kids.  The daily routines of life can make it easy to forget about brushing and flossing, and some kids with sensory integration issues may be very resistant to the activity.

Finding a good dentist may help.  Dentists and their staff can help educate children about dental health and encourage children to brush, floss, and rinse.  Parents may be able to learn tips on how to help their children take care of their teeth.

When seeking out a dentist for your child, keep in mind the uniqueness of your child and his or her needs.  Here are some helpful questions to ask as your seek out a dentist.  (Readers: Feel free to post other helpful questions in the comment section below, or recommend good dentists.)

Are your familiar with my child’s disability? Many dentist offices will express their willingness to see patients with disabilities.  However, as many parents know, sometimes “disabilities” are all “lumped together.”  There are many types of disabilities, each with unique characteristics. Successful dental appointments depend upon the dentist’s and the dental staff’s willingness to learn about your child’s specific needs.

May we tour your facility before we visit? Going to the dentist can be scary! Touring the facility ahead of time will eliminate some of the “unknown” and perhaps ease some of your child’s fears. He or she can sit in the dental chair (and maybe even make it operate), look at the tools, and maybe even get a free toothbrush before the scheduled appointment.  Receptionists and other staff will also be familiar with your child before the appointment. Meeting the dentist and staff ahead of time is especially helpful.  However, scheduling and multiple locations may limit staff availability.If touring is not practical, check out the office’s website.  Some have pictures and bios of the staff, as well as virtual office tours.

Do you have a private room for your special needs patients? In many dental offices, patients are seen in one big room, perhaps partitioned by cubicles or curtains. Kids with sensory issues could be overwhelmed by sounds such as  drills, cleaning tools, or by other children. Some offices such as Kearns and Ashby (my kids’ awesome dentists!) offer private rooms for their special need patients to provide a calmer atmosphere.

How do you handle tantrums and refusals of treatment? Pediatric and adolescent dentists are well-acquainted with these issues.  The best prevention of tantrums is educating or preparing the parent and child before a procedure.  Some kids will refuse to have their teeth polished.  Find out if there is an alternative to the cleaning tools, such as simply brushing the child’s teeth.

Do you provide anesthesia for dental work?  If your child is already fearful of strangers and dentists, or has severe oral sensitivities, anesthesia may be an option for cleaning and dental work.This may be found on the dentist’s website.  If so, familiarize yourself with the different options they offer.

Is dental work done under anesthesia performed in the office or elsewhere? Some offices offer general anesthesia for major dental work, provided by an anesthesiologist.  Kearns and Ashby perform these procedures at the West Shore Surgery Center.

How do you prepare your special needs patients for the procedures? Some dentists show the tools, demonstrate on dolls or their own teeth, or even have pictures.  The dentist may have suggestions for preparing the child at home, too.

Will my child see the same dentist at every visit?  For people with developmental disabilities such as autism, this may be important for continuation of care.  The more interactions the child has with a dentist, the more trust builds.

Do you take Medical Assistance?  Many dentists do not take medical assistance.  However, if financially feasible, paying out of pocket for a dentist that fits the child can be worth it in the long run.

Finding a good dentist can be a long process.  Asking other parents can help.  Comments, recommendations for good dentists, and other helpful tips are welcome and encouraged!  Post below.


My oldest is really wanting to drive.

I’ll never forget the look on his face when he learned that just because someone is the correct chronological age to drive… 16… doesn’t mean that the person will actually get to drive. There are other factors besides age.  His face just fell.  He was so sad.  And I was sad, too… sad that his dream was dashed and sad that I wouldn’t be a reprieve from driving him everywhere and sad that life stinks sometimes.

He’s beginning to understand, however, our point.  My husband made a list of things that needs to be able to do before we’ll even think about letting him learn to drive.  On this list are things such as…

  • No stomping and hitting walls when you don’t get your way.
  • Take shower every day (show some self-care and responsibility)
  • Do your homework
  • Keep your room in order
  • No stealing

I was surprised when, as soon as I got out of bed and went to the kitchen early on a weekday morning, that he told me, “I’ll be driving in two weeks!”


I’m learning to keep my mouth shut and not over react, but this time I said, “Ohhhh I don’t think so.”

“Yes!  I’ve met my goals!”


“Yes.  My room is clean.”

“Was that because you were being responsible or because we had house guests and you had no choice?”

“At least I cleaned it.”

“Excuse me… who vacuumed and finished cleaning it?” I said as I was trying to get my brain going for the day.

“Whatever.  Then I have been doing my homework.”


“And have you noticed any other improvements?”

Okay, first thing in the morning is not the time to ask me this.  So I said, “Not  really.”

“You LIE!” he shouted.

“I’m answering the question.”

“You should have said, ‘No stomping’!  I haven’t stomped for over a week!” He shouted, as he stomped so hard that the pictures started to rattle.

“Well, I guess that good streak is over.”

“It’s your fault I stomped.”

“I see you are taking responsibility for your actions.  Good one.”

See, I’m not the best at 6:30 AM.

“I’ll talk to dad about it… you have no idea what you’re talking about. Just keep your mouth shut.”

“You just do that. Don’t talk to me like that, either.  I’m done talking to you this morning anyway.”

“Why?  What did I do?”


When I think about it after I’m actually awake, we have noticed that he’s doing things more like unloading the dishwasher without being reminded, taking out the trash with out griping, and he was even asked to work when he wasn’t scheduled… I tell myself that he wouldn’t be asked to work if he was being irresponsible there.  Plus, the people at the Food Bank where he volunteers say that he can do the work of two people.

I hope he drives before he is out of high school.

Autism and Puberty… Yuck

That about sums up how I’m feeling about it lately.

My boys, now 11 and 16, are driving me nuts!

Got a postcard in the mail from the school.  My 11 year old “uses his manners!  Says please and thank you! Great job!”

How nice for them!

Last week we were in the car and my son passed gas.  I asked him, “What do you say?” and he answered, “You’re welcome!”


We have definitely entered in to the middle school stage and the rebellion that comes along with it.  He’s starting to say things like, “I want video games and don’t you dare say I can’t.”  Or “Get me some water, MOM!”  The polite little boy I once knew and loved is turning into a smart-mouthed tween that I know and love.

Hey, I can’t help it.  I’m the mom.

Some of it is quite comical. His older brother’s door has a sign that says “Danger… Josh’s Room!”  Philip wrote a note that says, “Philip’s Room. Do not enter unless I give your permission.”  This was on his actual door… at least he used pencil.  So my daughter did her own sign  that says, “No boys allowed unless you ask and I say it’s ok.”  (Click here to see her other messages.)

That stuff makes me laugh.  But sometimes I wish that the other types of rebellion my 11 year old does were more “typical.”  You know, swearing or something.  Instead, I’m finding my earring in the freezer.  No kidding.  And discovering food that he knows he’s not supposed to eat hidden in the bathroom, right in the boy’s “spray” area.  Gross.

Perhaps these are typical; I’m new to this and my one “typical” kid is only 7, so I have nothing to compare.

My oldest keeps “rebelling” by doing stupid stuff household projects that he doesn’t have permission to do.  A few weeks ago he waited until we were occupied elsewhere, and dragged the very heavy free-standing propane fireplace out to the back yard to paint it (on my to-do list, had just got the paint) and “fix it.”  To make a long story short, my husband had to “fix” my oldest son’s “fixes” and was pretty angry about it, too. At least it was painted, even though it cost him plenty in replacement parts.

This happened after a string of such activities like “framing” the attic window in the awesome workshop that my husband is building, and adding a “porch” to the front of said shop.  He also “fixed” some wiring at grandma’s house, which then had to be replaced by.. you guessed it… my husband.  Good ol’ mister fix-it himself to the rescue! 

Once is funny.  Twice, we shake our heads.  Three plus times…. it’s gettin’ old, people!

I yearn for my oldest to do something like get piercings or try to steal my rum or, even better yet, run away from home.  Then I tell myself to be careful what I wish for… we can fix the stove, the window frame, the wiring… but maybe not staph infections or alcoholism or bad-things-that-happen-to-run-aways. 

So my previous posts about getting back to blogging, blah blah blah… ignore them.  I am doing well just keeping up with my home. 

But don’t give up on me.  I still have plenty of stories to share… just have to find a moment to write when I don’t have to worry about freezer-burned jewelry and rewired doorbells. 


Converse. Repeat. Converse. Repeat.

Last night I told my middle guy to go up and take a shower.

Before he could answer, I had my own conversation with him alone and outloud. The following is my little monolog:

“Philip, go take a shower.

What?! Why?

“Because I said so.




Philip stood there, looking at me a little dumbfounded.  Then he just said one thing.

“Let’s start over.”


Super Suction Ears at Bell Rehearsal

My boy joined the church bell choir.

Actually, I signed him up.  But we won’t go there.

Anyhow, his first few practices have been interesting. His perfectionism is showing. I’ve noticed that he has to check all the bells, to make sure that they are indeed in the correct order up the scale.  He also is having trouble not being able to stop and correct his mistakes as the choir rehearses.

I can see him begin to twitch.

His answer to his perfectionistic anxiety: Be a clown.

One time he held his bell handles up to his ears, so that the bells were sticking out.  He said to the choir, “Look!  My super suction ears!”  Larry Boy, A.K.A. Larry the Cucumber, would be proud.

Another time he made a joke, but I was the only one who got it.  Wish I could remember it so I could share it.  Ah, well.

Bell choir will be a growing experience. The music, for the first time, is hard for him. He’s having trouble finding his individual notes amongst all the other notes.  Bell music looks totally different than piano music!  I didn’t want him to give up, so I wrote out his individual bell part on blank staff paper.  It had been forever– since my music major days at college– since I’d done that!

I had him practice that individual part on the piano, using his left pointer finger to play the A and his right pointer finger to play the B, while I conducted.

He was so happy, he giggled.

Then he said, “Look!  When I get to measure 72, I don’t play, I just stand here and cry. Boo hoo hoo hoo…”

He was taking the director’s cue– during the last three measures, he has no notes.  The director joked that all my son and another bell ringer had to do was stand there and be sad that they didn’t have anything to play.

I told my son that the director was joking, and that he shouldn’t really cry.

“But it’s fake.  I’m just pretending,” he replied.

“Yes, I know, but I don’t think Mr. F will be amused.”

“But it will make the other kids laugh!”

Yes, it will be an interesting time at bells. 

All or nothing

I was reminded a few days ago that, yes, my son is still an “all or nothing boy.”

He has to be completely barefoot or have both his socks and shoes on.

He doesn’t do anything half way.  He doesn’t make small messes, they are big ones!

In his piano lessons, he won’t just play the right or left hand.  It has to be both.  If instructed to play just the treble, someone else has to play the bass.

In church he boycotted the music portion and went to sit in the coat area, because the violin and viola weren’t there that week.  The band was incomplete.

He can’t just wear his swim trunks, he also has to have a swim shirt.

At camp, he was supposed to take at least two pairs of shoes, in case it rained.  He only wears his sneakers, so I threw in his “swim shoes” that he wears to the beach. I figured that he could wear these to go puddle jumping, and he could also wear them in the shower.

No deal.

He said, “Oh….. so I’m just supposed to get naked and wear only my swim shoes?!?”

“IN THE SHOWER!” I exclaimed, because I really didn’t want that to happen.

“Oh.  Well, um, I don’t like it.”

“Fine. You don’t have to.”

Had to be completely naked in the shower, or have his complete swim outfit on.

All or nothing, that’s my boy.