Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Only Constant

I haven't posted in a while — a sign not of quiet but that there has been a LOT going on. So much to post about and no time to do it. A full plate of ups and downs, searches, interesting observations and thankfully a quick escape from the snow to warmer weather, if only for a weekend.

Topping the list of major events was that before we left for Miami, before yet another snow storm set in, my husband and I visited a school that was highly recommended by a number of the parents we have met in the waiting room at our childrens' social skills group.

It is a private school housed in a former public school building. And though it is now called "Country Day" which sounds so typical of the many affluent private schools around here, it was formerly known as "Phoenix Academy" which sounds to me more appropriate to some sort of rehab facility. And so faced with such intriguing duality in its outward appearances, it was hard to exactly what to expect — elitism or outreaching tolerance?

What my husband and I discovered was an absolutely quirky school displaying remarkable understanding of each individual student and a program designed to encourage individualism. We were so impressed and honestly moved, especially by the work they had done with some of their students on the spectrum. I will return to this topic, I can't wait to share more about their program — but for now, we're scrambling to get our children admitted and complete the application process!

Also going on, with all the snow days, any semblance of a routine is out the window. C.S.'s 2-day weeks are absolutely unpredictable, Monday was great, Friday was awful. I got a phone call from the school social worker. We're scrambling on a strategy. But thankfully, we've decided to write an addendum to his IEP to allow him an alternative setting for the upcoming national standardized testing.

On the plus side, we've spent a great deal of time together if not under a blanket of snow then traveling and, when with family, he's been absolutely elated. We visited the Everglades, we saw a concert and he displayed a sincere joy of learning and experiencing new things. Thankfully, the New World Symphony in Miami has a wallcast. My husband and I sat inside, dressed up feeling every bit like we were on a date while at the same time, my children watched the same concert simultaneously, but outside surrounded by state-of-the-art sound with plenty of room to run around. As it happens, if you saw the article in the NY Times, they printed a photo of people watching the wallcast and the orange blur in the lower left hand corner is my C.S. — always moving — but who wouldn't be inspired to soar when listening to the Flying Dutchman?

I've got a lot to sum up and figure out. But one thing is certain, raising these kids, whether high-functioning or non-verbal, it takes a lot of work. The only constant seems to be, parents are kept on their toes, we are busy at what ever it is and where ever we are.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Family Dates

It started when I asked a favor of her son. (He was so obviously startled to be approached by this strange Mom.) It actually started long before, of course, with a kind child, an invite and a few smiles. But on Thursday, I asked if they could help me replace the C-string on C.S.'s cello that had popped off. (I knew she was a musician and had seen her son replace his before the winter concert.)

We had been to their house before, for a party that had not ended well at all for C.S. (See "Summer Party Meltdown" from my July 2010 blog entry). And so, I would have understood completely if she had been at all reluctant, but thankfully, she's just not that kind of person. She offered to help immediately and we were over at their house after drop off.

While she replaced the string and showed me how to do it should I need to again, our four children played in their living room. They were getting along beautifully. As for me, I admired her cooler than cool retro 50s kitchen cabinetry and the marble topped center island shaped like a grand piano (perfect shape incidentally). They played, we chatted and then knowing another snow day was on the horizon, she suggested they come over for a snow date the next day if school was dismissed.

It snowed and yes, we had our 5th snow day since Christmas. We met at their house at 3 p.m. Even though everything went well the day before, they had been playing Wii — sledding and snow play could present more challenges. So I hovered for a while, just to make certain C.S. seemed OK. By the time they made it out into the snow, he was obviously doing perfectly fine and his sister was there to look after him. He wouldn't need me, he might be able to enjoy some independence. But, also by then, I had been really enjoying my conversation with the other Mom.

And then, this inviting family invited us to dinner. Actually she had mentioned it from the beginning, but for whatever reason, I had just not allowed the invite to sink in — I'm more apt to have an escape plan or defenses to make sure disappointment doesn't sink in. But I had prepared a small meatloaf for C.S. that met his diet restrictions. For dinner, the husbands joined us and we popped the cork on some wine.

The kids ate at the kitchen table and we in the dining room. The food was spectacular. The conversation, even better. They were incredibly kind, intelligent and interesting folks. Before we knew it, it was 11 p.m. And although the children were tired and we'd hit the danger zone for severe crankiness and meltdown, against our better parental judgement and at risk of over-staying our welcome, we were reluctant to leave. We stayed on until midnight even, because there is nothing so completely satisfying than enjoying a dinner party secure in the knowledge that our children are having just as much fun socially.

Ah, the family date. It is a rare and wonderful thing.

Silver Lining: It is hard to know how to recover from the very public meltdown. It is embarrassing for the parents — whether its there or not, you feel judgement descend on you from everywhere. It is hugely difficult for the child — he too feels shame but must face peers who have less tolerance or are not able to filter their judgement. It very likely ensures he does not get invited to more parties, as a matter of fact, C.S. hadn't been invited to another birthday party until one this past Saturday. As I've noted, this is not entirely a bad thing because obviously large kids parties present a few challenges, but other than that, it was nearly impossible for me to see whether an upside in the outcome could even be realized.

Oh and as for yesterday's party. C.S. did O.K. He was noticeably nervous when we arrived. He hid just beside the door afraid to go in. He peered at us with a pleading look, shivering. What more could we do but suggest he come in, which he wouldn't. He finally did and eventually he relaxed and played. Bolstered by our wonderful Friday, I left with fingers crossed. And I can report, well improvements. There were no meltdowns, but he did take off his pants. After that he was embarrassed and called himself stupid and hit himself. My poor C.S.

Ah, but I'm still armed with the success of Friday. The upside may take time, but it is nice to know there are some spectacular people out there. And I'd like to think, we've made some new friends. And you can face the world when you have that sort of kindness and understanding in your corner of it.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Bad Tells

I have a friend who has a son in C.S.'s class. She frequently reports my child's "bad moments" when she stops by to see us. This happened again yesterday. I know her intentions are to be kind and understanding, but each time, it is terribly upsetting to me. I think it's because she just tells me what her son said my son did (that he screamed, he cried, he was having a hard time). It just sounds so much worse from this perspective and is so much more upsetting than when I learn of situations from his Special Education team. So this is what I'm thinking...

• She must at some level be searching for understanding too, but doesn't know how to offer it. But, perhaps she is willing to take my lead. I'm going to try to use this as an opportunity to offer that understanding to her.

• This is an opportunity to help her, help her son understand the situation and what he can do. Can I suggest her son ask the Para the questions he is asking himself?

• I've been afraid to suggest anyone address the class about C.S., but so often dreamed of the support MOM-NOS was able to rally for her Bud. Perhaps, C.S. is secure enough now with his support that we address the other students about him specifically? Could MOM-NOS's toaster brain analogy help explain my C.S.?

• Even with the kindest intentions, what she's telling me sounds like talk, bad talk about my son. Talk is upsetting and talk can too easily become gossip. How can I point this out to her without jeopardizing the relationship?

Still trying to figure it all out!

Silver Lining: Conversations are good. Challenging conversations are even better. Although I didn't know what to expect, of course I now recognize that this is exactly what I wanted.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

100 Days

In Kindergarten my children counted the first 100 days of school. As Summer gave way to Fall and that chilled into deep winter, it initially came as a surprise how long the countdown took to reach the goal.

Echoes of that early countdown is something that has remained with me, in part because the day arrived in the season when we've now begun to review our children's progress at school — reports cards have been issued, we've thankfully had the holiday to recover from the crescendo of C.S.'s anxieties that lead up to December, and sometime near the end of January, I have finally exhaled my bated breath and recall that we're only about half way through, around 100 days of school. And so I begin my review, much like the media after a President's first one hundred days in office.

This year my big question is, have the new policies we've enacted made a positive impact? For that, I need to sum up those various policies:

IEP: Of course that's the element that is most directly related to school policy and my son's course through the year. He has an IEP once again and having it has made a colossal difference. Reinstating an Independent Education Plan for C.S. has been key to his personal success — but then it does cast light on the broader policy of mainstreaming.

If there was an ideal candidate from the Autism Spectrum for mainstreaming, he was it. Like high-functioning Aspergians, he excelled in academics, but unlike this typical group of atypicals, C.S. had a strong desire to engage socially, he could be charming and he experienced empathy — there was plenty of existing foundation material on which to build a bridge between the typical kids and this atypical one from the Spectrum. But, during the PPT at the end of his Kindergarten year, it was exactly these traits that the Special Education team cited in order to dismiss him from receiving services.

And my son was abruptly dropped into the fast running currents of the mainstream. We jumped in after him and held him up until we learned to navigate their system. And though we've managed to have him reinstated, it is a system I could never trust again, because at that time he had been on an IEP for three years and even with their training, the team chose to recognize, not everything we all had up until then, but only the one thing we had missed, the technicality — we did not have a diagnosis for him. And so I look at his most recent IEP (all 23 pages of it) and marvel at the results, results made possible by our investments to secure a diagnosis and hire an advocate. And once dispatched, the crew was making marvelous progress. But I can't forget how close we came to failure.

So, I sit here and ask, why would our school system not act before? Why did it come down to this. And the only answer I can find, from every angle I can see, is, it comes down to money. Mainstreaming saves the school system money, not only because they don't have to run separate special-services program, but also because, when it comes down to saving our children from pain and heartache, parents will pay up.

Fight And so we chose to fight. We secured a diagnosis and used this to fight the school system. We forced them to recognize what their own reports illustrated as something other than a liability, but as a call to action. Fighting is hardly the ideal way to build community, but obviously, it was required. What made this so difficult was that this was the same school system, many of the same children and the same community that had so embraced my son's differences with support, caring and understanding in his preschool years. We have a very special preschool, TECEC, that provides public assistance for children with needs and accepts "model students" into the school with private tuition to act as role models. And this school, managed by many of the same school administrators that manage his elementary school, has successfully built a culture of inclusion that benefits all the children. Our son's needs were identified, he was accepted into their program, IEPs were written and from this wonderful experience, we knew we could build such a partnership. It is unfortunate that such a relationship could not continue and we were forced to fight instead.

And so, we have also used this diagnosis to embrace the support the autism community extends to all their members, because that desire to help these children succeed, that caring and understanding and just being welcomed into a community and receiving such support is that important.

Grow and Share These models of success, TECEC-our preschool and Autism Speaks, led me to believe that I might also succeed in building a small community, if I found willing members. I know they're out there. I've spent the past year trying to share the knowledge I've gained with others who have found themselves in similar situation, to be supportive, to offer understanding and to introduce people to each other. I've not had tremendous success. Building up something takes time and effort and all sorts of expenses. But I'm determined to keep trying. I suppose my decision to blog is part cathartic exercise and part of this new sharing policy of mine.

Alternatives I see a child in my son's class floundering miserably without a para, but he's so clearly in need. I tried to convince another mother who spoke out against this boy, that he was not a bad kid, that he simply needed help and was not getting it. But on the other hand, I completely supported her feeling of resentment. Because, by not addressing his needs and not assisting him to function better in the classroom, her child's needs were being ignored too.

Then there's a family's like ours, who fight for our child's needs and demand expensive services. The more general refrain I've overheard about people like us is that mainstreaming kids like ours is placing a burden on typical children or draining funds so that there are none for gifted programs. And I can see why people might perceive us to be the trouble makers here, because obviously we're the ones fighting. But, I wouldn't be surprised if these parents were getting ready to jump in and fight too.

But believe me, accepting my special needs, atypical child into the ranks of attendance is hardly what it takes to be "inclusive." These expensive services may require funds, but they were a cost savings to the public school programs. Its not the funds that should cause concern. Of more concern is that our elementary school's irresponsible acceptance of an inclusion policy without building the culture required to make it a success is creating divisions instead, divisions that actually cost less but that will cost all our children their feeling of success. That is an expense I think no parent can endure.

That's three big strikes against our current system of mainstreaming. And so, even though we might have to forgo state-funded services provided to help mainstream students, my husband and I have been considering the expense of private schools as a necessary alternative for our children. Fortunately, C.S.'s scores on many of the testing he underwent to secure his diagnosis are impressive to institutions that focus on academic excellence. And so we are seriously considering some expensive alternatives to our public school's policy, ironically because I am so certain that in a truly inclusive community, he would mainstream beautifully and achieve his full potential.

Silver Lining: I recognize that mainstreaming can and could work for my son. I recognize that an inclusive community is a real possibility. And I still hope to find it for our family.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Planning: Type A, for Autism

"These things plan themselves"

That's what the Scout Master said about the event I was trying to help plan. And as I stood there blinking at his statement and he blinking at me (two very different approaches facing off in almost absolute shock at the different ways we approach the same thing) my mind was reeling under the double realization that 1) I was probably over-thinking things, from his perspective certainly anyway and 2) of course I was over-thinking things! That has become my specialty.

I finally explained, "I just don't approach things that way. I'm just not one to let anything 'plan itself.' "

And isn't that the truth. My son has had two perfectly relaxing days at home and so what do I do? I worry about the transition back to class. What if the teacher is still out? She was out on Tuesday as was the gym teacher. (They played dodge ball!!! Of course he wouldn't participate.) His day was terrible. What if there is a sub again? And so I sent an email to the classroom teacher and his special education teacher. But then I also drove him in and walked him into class. And there was a sub again! His fresh out of school face looked so very green. Aww, this boy-sub is toast. And so I stopped by the Special Education teacher's office. All of this contingency planning mind you because C.S.'s days at home have been so good. Exactly the sort of thing that would cause any mother to spring into action, right?

So it is perhaps a good thing that the event planning I had volunteered for, I was able to pass off to someone else. Turns out, we had a conflict. One of my husband's big openings is that same weekend. I wouldn't miss this once in a lifetime event for the world and so we're taking the whole family to Florida instead. I asked someone to help and they have instead, taken it over. I won't need to do anything at all, any more.

I feel responsible of course. I didn't want to just drop the ball. I had volunteered after all and so I had intended to plan as much as I could. This sort of thing is important to me. And so I had started a month out. I sent emails. I gathered information. And I CC'd the couple who had agreed to plan this together with me on everything. But it became clear, my type of planning skills overwhelmed the system. I would need to let go completely.

Silver Lining: Very soon, I will get to leave all this cold behind and head to the only state in these United that does not have snow on the ground. I will be able to introduce my children to some wonderful experiences. My sister-in-law is joining us — super-sitter care and travel arrangements, of course have been planned as well. And so then, my husband and I will also have the opportunity for a rare and wonderful, spectacular, over-the-top, we-absolutely-deserve-it night out. When it seems hard to let go and let this thing I was going to plan "plan itself," I think of all that and comply. But let me tell you this, if you want to get something done, down to the very detail, with every possible contingency preconceived and accounted for, give it to a busy woman who has tackled Autism. You'll see Type-A in the extreme.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Hush of Snow

It snowed last night. 20-25" fell on top of the other 5" that fell after Christmas. And so, we are home and will be home again tomorrow. Another quiet week.

These days together bring out the best in my son. He snuggles under the blanket with me. He says, "I'm playing footsie with you." We read. We build a fire in the fireplace and watch the flames. We bake. We drink hot tea (his has 1 lump of sugar and 2 ice cubes). Is he mimicking me when he lays his head back against the sofa and closes his eyes as if to dramatize how soothing a cup of hot tea can be.

Today he helped his Dad — he really was helpful as he helped — shovel snow. He cleared the table. He played games with his sister. And of course he plugged in for a few hours with the iPad.

Over these past few weeks, in the hush of the snow days, I've seen my son in a too rare light. He has been perfectly at ease in the rhythm of our home, secure in the embrace of our entire family without a hint of anxiety. The only thing I've noticed at all is that he has begun to baby talk more. I make him aware of it, he repeats what he said and corrects his tone, I respond to his comment then and life moves on at such a wonderful relaxing pace.

With the snow has come a rare hush, almost as if we never knew how autism filled his school days.

Silver Lining: Like the snow, my silver lining came in abundance, 20-25 inches deep.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Mommy Meat

Since I left the salaried workforce and regular office hours, I've been frequenting the pick-up spots -- where Moms pick up their children. And can I tell you what a meat market it is out there! Women check each other out, pick each other up and turn each other down with more obvious superficiality than any smokey bar.

And it was at one of these hot pick-up spots that I got snubbed the other day, by a gal I know. It's nothing really. Just a big, glaring failure to see someone standing right there in the same room with you.

Maybe it's just a cultural difference and not a snub. But it just didn't seem so. I mean how hard is it really to say hi, or meet someone's eyes with a look of recognition and a smile.

Anyway, it hurt and I left feeling more than a little irritated. After all, I've been spending my savings working on the premise that it is my son who must be taught the importance of making eye contact, how to approach someone with an appropriate greeting, how to compliment and make compromises and other conversation skills.

But there are times, many times, when I feel our culture deserves a diagnosis. If it comes down to people intentionally refusing to make eye contact and recognize each other, well then our communities are sick.

And Is it really so surprising. Ever lengthening seasons of political campaigns and daily doses of pundit opinion have fueled a high fever of intolerance. Rhetoric of hate directed or inferred against not only political but also racial, ethnic or socio-economic groups just blurs into hate in general. Do you think we could keep this contained to politics? Afterall, requests have been made for the public to take action and for example snub all things French (freedom fries), or adopt doubts beyond reason (birthers) or any number of ridiculous acts. The fever has spread to a general rise of intolerance and of course bullying.

In such a climate of intolerance, it is hard to imagine that my quirky high-functioning son really stands a chance of finding a place in his community. After all, he functions so well, it is difficult to realize what is going on with him behaviorally. There's not enough there to signal compassion and understanding to kick in -- most are quick to dismiss him as weird.

And so I think of my eccentric ancestors. Many were quirky, often wonderfully so. Quite a few intelligent minds: artists, musicians, chefs, engineers. And a rich heritage of traits: stoic Scots, fiery Irish, reserved Brit, passionate French, etc. And they all found a welcome place in their communities.

I'm just not convinced the same would be true today. When friendliness is held in such reserve, would they find a welcome place? Or would they stand there like so many unable to mingle because they're only interested in picking up a certain someone with certain qualities and nobody else.

Silver Lining: While I've learned to just ignore those who are too cool to smile at any but an exclusive few, there are those wonderful folks who always say "hi" and I always make sure to say hi just as warmly right back. We've not always become great friends, but we've definitely become friendly. I'll just claim them as my community. And then there are my true friends. I feel most fortunate to have found an absolutely wonderful family with a friend for each of us to adore. We had a double sleep over last weekend. Their son and daughter stayed over night with our son and daughter. The kids read books, had a movie night, played games and then went snow boarding the next day. They had to be torn away and once done, collapsed beneath a warm heavy blanket of happy exhaustion. Quality friends and big smiles far outweigh superficial snubs.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Fascinating Family Album



Here's a great picture. Even if you don't know anyone in the photo, it is just fun to look at all these Southern women in their hats. I happen to know this is a meeting of the garden club and the hats were worn for fun. And doesn't it look like they were having a fun time of it.

But what I've begun to find so fascinating is how much my family members in the photo stick out. Can you spot 'em? I think of the song from Sesame Street, "one of these things is not like the other one, one of these things just doesn't belong." In this case there's two.

First there's my Grandmother. She's right in the very middle of the group. Now, she never did like to be photographed, but this is probably one of the best I've seen of her. She's smiling as much as I've ever seen in a picture. But still, what a mug. She just doesn't seem to be having as much fun as the others.

Then there's her mother, my Great Grandmother. She's to the far right of the photo. She also didn't care to be photographed and is likewise smiling as much as I've ever seen in any photo we have of her. But she is so obviously removed from the others. Not only is there a gap revealing a few empty chairs, she is not wearing a hat. She just doesn't seem to be playing well with the others.

Now as far as I can recall, I was not aware that my family members had any particular difficulties fitting into their community or getting along. Although my father was often described as "stoic" and my grandparents as "eccentric", they were members of all the right clubs and socialized as Southern men and women were expected to.

There is all sorts of speculation about the rise in autism. Perhaps the least satisfying response is that there is merely an increase in the diagnosis rather than the instances of it. I have a hard time accepting that as the only reason. But then I can't help but keeping looking for a source and a reason. And when I look at my family albums and pictures like these, I do seem to find something interesting, perhaps telling.

As someone commented on one of ProfessorMother.com 's blogs, "Cats don't have dogs, do they."

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Accepting Style


It is an honor to receive this "award." It is an honor because it was passed to me from Professor Mother who seems like one smart lady (smart is synonymous with stylish in my family's parlance) and because she placed me in the company of JoyMama of Elvis-Sightings; Jess of Diary of a Mom and has yet again introduced me to such another good read in the blog of Autism Mommy Therapist. Please see her original post, which of course is of interest itself.


To accept this honor, I must also accept the rules to share 7 things about myself and then pass it forward to three other blogs that I nominate (and as Professor Mother realized, that in doing so, I will then reveal how I respond to such requests to respond to rules, do I follow, do I rebel, do I over-comply and do 7 plus 4 more as well?). And so...

The Big Reveal
1) Although I waited tables as most college kids do, I also applied for all sorts of odder than typical odd jobs. Filling out my resumé of quirks is my semi-professional experience as; a live mannequin, a mixer of glazes for a potter, a maid, a color corrector at a photo lab, a party photographer, a press-operator and a stripper (not clothes, its another position in a printing company long since replaced by technology and so the mention of it raises eyebrows even better. Yup, I drop the title purposely for effect).

2) I am an identical mirror twin. This means that every time my sister and I went to medical appts, doctors suddenly dropped their passive professional demeanor and openly geeked out over the genetically induced freak show that is the sheer completeness of our similarities. The orthodontist holds up our XRays and proclaims OMG! "If I flip one it almost superimposes on the other." And yes, an OBGYN jumped from one examining room to the other to compare us there and unable to filter his surprise shared "her cervix tilts to the left and yours the right!" Good to know eh.

3) I developed a theory called the "Barbie Prophesy." My older sister's doll "Ann" lived in the Barbie Town House and was "the richest" in Barbie town. My twin sister's doll "Adrienne" lived in the Barbie Airplane and was "the smartest" in Barbie town. It is amazing how well these correlate with the lifestyles they lead now. And so I have to ask, why is it my parents gave me the Barbie log cabin?

4) I've written a collection of poetry about my daughter that I'm trying to get published.

5) I have a inner desire to be if not Amish than an old woman that weaves, knits, makes about anything. So I guess the log cabin is really appropriate.

6) I have a strange knack for spotting hawks. I see them everywhere. My husband thinks it evidence that I was a mouse in a previous life. A friend who is part Cherokee finds more romantic symbolism including that it denotes I am one at war. I feel I'm fighting for my kids and so I guess it is so.

7) I have a long derivation of knick-names that include Ibets among others.

And so I nominate:
MOM-NOS: I stumbled upon this blog in the middle of a desperate late-night search for answers (are there any other kind of internet searches) and her most timely, most eloquent entry lifted me at a time when I most needed it.

Laughing Through Tears: The funniest bumper sticker ever forms the opening banner of her blog. You'll find hard truths and good gallows humor here and no cheap tears.


And I'm afraid I must admit
I don't read as many blogs as I would like. Professor Mother has awarded all of the others I follow. If I could recommend a third, I'd recommend her.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Fairies and Fists

The Scholastic flyer came home with C.S. this week and there they were – a box set of the Fairy Books. This one included a new Penguin Fairy. C.S. loves penguins and the Fairy Books. Of course he asked if he could have it.

When he read Lucy the Diamond Fairy and Juliet the Valentine Fairy I just crossed my heart protectively and hoped the tougher boys in his class would be too clueless to notice. If anyone ever teased him, he never mentioned it. But when he moved on to Mia the Bridesmaid Fairy, I continued to hold my breath, certain that one day, "Fairy!" would be hurled against him.

Also coming home with him the other day, were bad reports on his chart and an email from his teacher explaining his "unexpected behavior" — he raised his fist at his Para. This and at least 2 other incidents marred his second day back to school. That something would happen was not entirely unexpected to me. Of course the transition back to school would be difficult. I was just really shocked that he'd threaten anyone like that, but especially this sweet lady who is the Para. It is so unlike him. Anxious as he can be, he'll run to a corner, he'll growl, he'll hit himself, but threatening someone with a raised fist is just not like my sweet fairy-loving C.S.

I scolded him about his behavior. Of course his request for the fairy books became an opportunity to provide a lesson in consequences. I told him he could not have them because he had behaved so badly at school. And to him, that is that. But to me, it just opened a door — because I was strangely relieved.

Silver Lining: The thought that my sweet, usually charming, fairy-loving little guy became the perfect image of a bully with balled up fists is a horrible twist. I feared and suspected every boy in the class to have some sort of latent ruffian tendencies, every one but him. But then there was this confusing realization of relief.

Should I be so relieved that I had found a way for him not to begin reading a whole box of fairy books? Worse still, why was it I was so relieved that he could be the ruffian I feared? I still don't know why he did what he did, but that he could act so tough towards someone else at school instead of taking everything out on himself or hiding was, as inappropriate as it must have been, was a relief to me. I have to admit I'm glad to know he has it in him.

If he gets a week of perfect behavior on his chart, then I'll have no qualms about buying him the boxed set. Not only will it be a suitable follow through considering he didn't get it for behaving inappropriately, it will also be a positive reinforcement of his more tender nature. But I'm not letting go of that other behavior entirely. We just found a lot of teaching moments in this one week that's all. It won't be too long before he'll have 8 new fairy books to read wherever and whenever he wants to. I won't hold back and I won't hold my breath any longer.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Why Pseudonym? Or using a falsehood as a defining difference between Being Real and Being True

My post today was actually a response to a question posted by a blog I follow (and truly enjoy) – but hey! I wrote something, so I decided to post my response here. She posted a question to bloggers out there who use pseudonyms for our children we write about. I not only do for my children, but I also slightly altered my name — and I had reasons, so I shared them. You can see the original questing post here (and my original response, I took the opportunity to fix a few typos in my post below): http://laughingthroughtears.com/2010/12/27/aliases-are-for-wimps-or-how-i-learned-to-stop-worrying-and-love-the-blog/

I love the spirit of your blog. I admire how you share, with utmost sincerity, the wisdom you are seeking and less of those more popular pearls and tear-jerking tales that are really beginning to annoy me in the blogosphere.

But, even though I started my blog in a rash act late one night, I quickly decided to use pseudonyms. There was a cautionary anecdote from my husband that, added to my own complicated back story, quickly sold the idea to me.

Basically, one day my children will read these stories I told to a world I didn’t even know. And if they disagree, they would realize, they had no opportunity to show any other side of the tales I was telling. And as much as I know I am mining my soul for true experiences, I have to concede that by writing it, there is an act of creation involved. And being an aspiring writer, I know the importance of developing character. Could I trust myself to stay true to us or would I succumb to that desire for hits by just telling a good story?

My blog is not wide read, nor do I think it will ever become as known as others out there. Ironically, I am too like my subject of autism, a little too geeky. I don’t have the humor or the social finesse to attract a large following. I fit in some awkward little niche and I blog in hopes of finding some other souls who feel comfortable there.

BUT – I feel for those children whose names become recognized and associated with the stories. It is possible their written character could grow larger and more well-known than their actual selves. And that is a HUGE invasion of privacy I would not wish on my child.

It is complicated to explain, but there’s that complicated back story of mine that convinced me all the same. My children are my children. The characters in my blogs are based on them. And I separate the two by a few silly pseudonyms.

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