Sunday, April 2, 2017
Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Sometimes you just feel like you can't catch a break. You plan for what should be a simple outing, and when you get to where you are going, everything falls apart. Take this real life scenario from a couple of years ago, for example:
I needed to buy groceries, and so I planned a trip to Wegmans. Having no childcare that day, I put extra effort into what I was bringing with me and into the things I would need to do to make it a successful trip. I called ahead to Wegmans to make sure that they had adequate staffing to accommodate Lulu, as she requires a dedicated person to be with her due to her adventurous nature (read: she climbs on EVERYTHING). Having set up a timeframe in which we could arrive, the girls and I headed to Wegmans, where Lulu would go have an hour of play while Annie would shop with me since she had aged out of WKids. We walked in, headed toward the play center, and found out that for whatever reason they were not able to take her as they had originally planned.
First I explained to Lulu that she couldn't go in today because W-Kids was closed. I said that she would have so much fun in the cart with her sister pushing her throughout the store.
Lulu tried to get into the room by attempting to climb over the half-door. She cried. She screamed. She would not listen to reason. She just kept looking at me with those big beautiful eyes that were so full of hurt, saying repeatedly, "W-Kids? W-Kids?" (My heart shattered into a million pieces that day). The W-Kids worker said that she was sorry, and that Lulu could come in next time. Lulu just kept saying "W-Kids?" as I fought back tears. Finally I did what I very, very rarely do...I asked her if she wanted to play with my cell phone (I have not allowed her to make my phone a toy for her to use at her whim -- this takes some perseverence on my part!). She was having no part of it.
After what seemed like an eternity, I went to my last resort -- I handed Annie a couple of bucks and gave her strict orders to GO BUY HER SISTER A HERSHEY BAR! She took a couple of steps and, since she was never one to pass up on a golden opportunity, turned around to say, "Sooooo, can I have one too?" Oh. My. God. Seriously? I (not so calmly) replied, "Yes, Annie, just pick something out FAST!" (Annie did as she was told (this was her first experience with actually purchasing something at a store), and ran back to us at full speed, candy bars in hand. She showed Lulu the candy bar and said, "Laurie, we need to go to the car. You can have chocolate if you come with me." This took a little coercion but finally Lulu agreed to walk out to the car.
While I was getting her jacket back onto her, this woman who had been standing near the exit just watching everything as it unfolded walked over to me and said, "I just want to tell you that you really are a great mom. You're doing a great job with her."
All I could do was just look at her. I was completely dumbfounded. I had never laid eyes on this person before or since. I thought that anyone watching would be witnessing all of the parenting no-nos that a person could make -- giving in, bribing with chocolate, offering technology as a solution instead of teaching my daughter a lesson in coping and going with the flow. I thought I was at my parenting worst. Instead this woman saw me as a parent who was trying to work through a difficult situation with a child who obviously had issues with coping and understanding. This was a woman who was trying to show empathy...who was trying to show that someone cared...was trying to show kindness. At least this is how it appeared to me.
I saw this quote a long time ago, but it came roaring back into the forefront of my mind:
Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.
This is just a good rule for life.
So to that woman in Wegmans - thank you for not judging my ineptness to calm my little girl. I am forever grateful for your kindness. It stays with me even years afterward.
Sunday, October 9, 2016
Annie and I were shopping at the mall, looking for a birthday gift for Lulu. We wandered in to GameStop, and were greeted by an employee who asked if he could help us. We kind of shrugged and said something along the lines of, "we don't know what Lulu wants." I explained that my younger daughter is autistic and that we were shopping for a birthday gift for her tenth birthday. At that same time, a customer standing there suddenly blurted out that he was also autistic, and began talking to us, giving us advice on what to get for an autistic person. The employee smiled and walked away after seeing that we were comfortable with the customer.
The customer suggested a Nintendo handheld system with certain games that help with socialization and/or developing skills, and went into detail about how they can help people with autism. He then showed us the games and the different systems, and gave us the pros and cons of each system. He really knew his stuff!
After about 15 minutes, the employee returned to where we were standing and asked if we had any questions or if we had our questions answered by the other customer. I let him know that the other customer was fantastic and very knowledgeable.
At that time the customer let me know that he had applied for a job at GameStop and was just waiting to hear. I told him I would put in a good word for him. He then went on to let me know about his experience with the various agencies in my area, and how he had benefited from them, and that my Lulu might benefit as well.
I sincerely hope that GameStop hires this young man. He was able to talk to me about lulu's potential likes, dislikes, and social needs on a level that a neurotypical person simply could not. We need our society to embrace, empower, and employ people of all abilities.
I have always been very open about my daughter's diagnosis, and occasionally I have wondered if this was the right thing to do. My daughter isn't just autistic...she's smart, funny, and beautiful, and has an energy that is like no other. But autism is a big part of who she is, at least to me. It's led me on a journey to a whole new world. I have met some of the most fantastic people ever, and I've learned who my real friends are. I truly appreciate the little things.
Oh..just in case you're wondering, we did buy the gaming system that the customer had recommended.
Sunday, May 15, 2016
|Practicing our song|
My troop did the flag ceremony at the beginning of the day, and I got to carry the flag out to the flagpole. It was pretty cool, and I think I’d want to do the flag ceremony again.
The competition that lasted throughout the entire Jamboree was the Scavenger Hunt. We had to find a bunch of things that were on a list that was handed out to each group. We found all but three of the items on our list.
-The second competition was Arts and Crafts. We built a volcano out of sticks, string, rocks, leaves, fabric, and a bandana. I crushed up obsidian rocks for ash and came up with the idea to use the brown fabric to cover up the sticks. One of the girls in my troop decided to bring home the stick structure at the end, and wore it as a hat.
The fifth competition was Shelter Building. We had to pretend we were lost in the woods and had to make a shelter for nighttime, while only having our daypacks and any clothing articles we had. My team made a basic structure out of wood first, and they needed big sticks, so I kept picking up fallen trees 3 times as tall as I am. Then we put our rain ponchos and sweatshirts and bandanas on it to make it waterproof. It was really colorful, and we managed to fit our entire group into it. The Smurfettes made a really cool, tightly knit teepee, and 8 girls fit into it.
Our sixth competition was the Challenge Relay. First, we had 5 girls put together and take apart a tent. Next, we had to get 5 girls, including me, across a 10-foot stretch of grass on carpet squares without ever touching the ground. Third, we had to answer 5 questions about Girl Scouts, which we got all but 1 wrong. Last, we had to put together a puzzle, which took a while.
I really liked the 2016 Rainbow World Jamboree, and I know we’re going back next year! Time to start planning...
Sunday, August 3, 2014
First I came up with an invitation, incorporating a lot of internet research and a little bit of imagination:
I didn't give Annie a whole lot of details because I wanted her to be (at least a little) surprised. First there was a Sorting Hat ceremony (complete with House neckties):
|Sorting Hat, courtesy of my Dad!|
|Sorting Hat & Wand Ceremonies|
In order to pull this off, I enlisted the help of family and good friends to play the professors and other characters. We had Professor McGonagall (Transfiguration Professor - class included time in the "Transfiguration Booth" transforming pill shaped objects into animals through the use of a magical liquid), Professor Trelawney (Prophecy Professor - she told the future of each student based on tea leaves), Professor Snape (Potions Professor, who used a wide range of "magical" ingredients) and the voice of the Sorting Hat.
|Professor Snape, Potions Professor|
|Professor McGonagall, Transfiguration Professor|
|Getting into character for the Transfiguration Booth...the Harry Potter lightning bolt.|
|Transfiguration Booth success!|
|Professor Trelawney, Divination Professor|
|Laurie & her Rachel|
Another good friend (Rachel) came to care for Laurie during the party. And my mom was absolutely invaluable. I think that the adults (and one teenager) had just as much fun as the kids. It would not have been nearly as great without everyone helping out!!
We had a Grand Feast that included the ever-famous Butterbeer and a chocolate sheet cake (like the kind that Mrs. Figg made for Harry Potter when the Dursleys would leave him with her). Laurie even sang "Happy Birthday" to Annie :)
I think that the biggest hit of the party, by far, was being able to visit the legendary Honeydukes, the famous sweet shop in the all-wizarding village of Hogsmeade. There were all sorts of yummy treats just perfect for wizards:
Even better with candlelight
We ended the evening with a showing of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," while the girls all hunkered down in their sleeping bags in the family room (imagine eight very chatty, very sugar-highed 9 & 10 year old girls all in the same room...all with Type A personalities...lots of deep breaths were taken). In the morning, there were "magic" pancakes and bacon (basically pancakes cooked with the bacon inside), and then karaoke.
It makes me wistful that I will not be able to give the same party to Laurie, more than likely. I'm ever-hopeful, but completely realistic about this. But I did throw a rockin' Abby Cadabby swim party for her...that's definitely more her speed at the moment.
When I do something for my girls, I give it my all, and then some. I have a tendency to go a bit overboard...all of their birthday parties reflect this. But this party was my pride and joy. I was told that I set the bar for all other birthday parties, which made me laugh. We'll see what I can dream up next time...
Thursday, July 24, 2014
Each day during the month of April, I updated my Facebook status with factual information or with my own opinions about autism. I've decided to take some of them and expand them here on my blog.
It means I will stand up for my daughter and others who are affected by autism. I have no tolerance for those who bully, especially when those who cannot defend themselves are being bullied.
It means that I will raise awareness about the daily challenges and struggles that are faced by myself and others who are raising children with autism. That person on the checkout line who tells me that all my child needs is a good spanking...watch out!
It means that I will fight to have my child included with her typical peers so that she will learn how to socialize. This is how she will learn how to function in society.
It means that I will be a voice for my child when she needs me to do so. I will make sure that the doctor listens to my concerns and my "hunches" since Laurie is unable to speak.
It means that I will educate myself on the legalities of the special education system so that I can ensure that she is getting the most appropriate education possible.
It means that I will research the best therapies that may be available, and will work toward getting my child those therapies if they are appropriate for her.
It means that I will participate in events that raise awareness for autism...from attending and volunteering to work at a walk to raise funds for research to taking part in special events at Laurie's school (Blowing Bubbles for Autism & the yearly carnival).
As an advocate for both of my children, I am their biggest champion. I will help them to achieve their dreams...to become the best people that they can be. No one could or would ever advocate for my children better than I do.