RSS Feed

A New Entry For My List of Things That Aren’t Funny

Posted on

Not a day goes by that I’m not extremely thankful that Connor now (mostly) sleeps through the night. I don’t do well when I’m sleep deprived. I’m not one of those people that can get by on six hours of sleep and jump up to greet the day. So I must admit, today I’m a little tired and ornery.

 

Why?

 

It started around 2am. I think. I’m not really sure because I didn’t get up to look at the clock, but since I was tossing and turning until midnight I’m guessing it was about 2am. Finally, I was blissfully asleep. But then, I heard a noise.

 

It was a peculiar buzzing sound. It seemed fuzzy and far away, because I was so sleepy. But there was definitely a constant buzzing sound in the distance. It sounded like something vibrating. What could be vibrating? What thing could be loudly vibrating in the vicinity of my bedroom? Holy Go-Zzzzzzzzzzz.

 

I fell back asleep. Until about 5am.

 

The buzzing again. I sleep closest to the bathroom door, and it definitely was coming from the bathroom. What the hell is buzzing in the bathroom? All I could think of was that Connor was up in the middle of the night, brushing his teeth with his battery-operated toothbrush. Well hell, brush on then, boy. Zzzzzzzzzzz.

 

6:15am. Oh my god, is he in there brushing again? Finally, exhausted and defeated I got up and opened the bathroom door, only to find…nothing. No one was in there. I walked over to the sink and there was Connor’s toothbrush in its holder, buzzing away at full speed. It had gone rogue.

 

This annoyed me greatly. I tried to grab a few more minutes of sleep, but the damn thing turned on AGAIN, five minutes before I was supposed to get up. In a huff, I flounced off to the shower.

 

As I turned off the shower, I heard the buzzing again. I reached out for my towel and there was Connor, perched on the sink like a hobgoblin, brushing his teeth.

 

“Hi Mom!”

 

“Morning honey.”

 

“What’s wrong, Mom? Are you grumpy?”

 

“I’m just really tired. That damn toothbrush kept turning itself on all night, waking me up.”

 

“BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! That’s HILARIOUS!”

 

“Glad you think so.”

 

“I TOLD you it keeps turning on. That’s really funny that it woke you up.”

 

“Well that thing is going OUT. Today!”

 

“Well don’t put it in MY room, I need my sleep.”

 

“Grumblemutterjesusontoastgrrrrrrrr.”

 

This was so annoying, I’ve decided to add it to my list of Things That Are Not Funny. This isn’t a list of big things, like war and poverty. It’s a list of things that happen to me that I most definitely do not find amusing.

 

1.  Running out of bacon.

2.  Tight pants.

3.  Finding dead bunnies on the back porch, lovingly left there by the dingo.

4.  Being attacked in my driveway by vigilante birds that think I’m coming to steal their babies.

5.  Being woken up all night long by a battery-operated electric Batman toothbrush that is malfunctioning for no good reason and sounds suspiciously like it could be something else.

 

I hate this thing.

I hate this thing.

 

Until next time, sweet dreams my friends.

 

 

There Aren’t Parenting Manuals for This Crap

Posted on

There are lots of books about raising autistic/ADHD/Asperger’s children. Usually the books are very clinical, describing the disorder and accompanying delays, along with some advice pertaining to toileting, communication, and education. Or the books are more myopic in nature, written by a parent with a limited perspective. There’s nothing wrong with these books, however, I find that none of them really provide the kind of advice I need.

Let me tell you a story.

Yesterday I picked up Connor and noticed that he was wearing the back-up shorts from his backpack. We talked on the way home and I learned that he’d had an accident at the after-school program. I was surprised, since this hasn’t happened in a very long time. I asked why he didn’t use the restroom, and he said “I just didn’t make it on time, mom.”

I felt so bad for him. It was easy to imagine the embarrassment he would feel, as a fourth grader. And we all know how mean other kids can be. “Poor kid,” I thought. I tried to put it out of my mind as we went about our nightly routine.

But today when I picked him up, a different story unfolded. I learned that the plumbing system was shut down all night, into this morning. Connor admitted to the teacher that he had flushed a piece of paper down the toilet, causing it to overflow and get him wet, and shut down the whole system.

Speechless.

We got in the car and I pulled to the side of the parking lot to ask him what happened. He told me there was a flier hanging in the bathroom that said “Always remember to flush after using the restroom.”

“Everyone always flushes the toilet, so that paper annoyed me. It doesn’t need to be there. It’s been there for a long time, and I wanted it gone so it wouldn’t annoy me anymore.”

*deep breaths, count to 10*

I said “can you explain to me what you were thinking when you decided to flush it down the toilet? I mean, didn’t you stop and think that it could plug up the toilet?”

“Mom, I just can’t help it. It’s my stupid brain, it works against me. It’s not my fault.”

This is where a parenting manual would come in handy because this is treacherous territory. I do not know what it’s like to have severe ADHD. I believe him when he says that his brain works against him, because who hasn’t felt that way at times? But the part about it not being his fault? As a parent, I can’t let that go. He is a very capable child, and I constantly navigate between providing the right amount of support and expecting a certain amount of accountability.

As I drove home, I puzzled over the right way to handle this situation. My kid, basically, said “fuck you and your signs, THIS is what I think of your signs!” and promptly caused a plumbing calamity. Of course I couldn’t help but remember that I work in a building with a few hundred people, and fliers are posted from one end of the building to the other, including the restrooms. Mentally, I refer to these fliers as “company propaganda.” Although we don’t have fliers reminding us to flush, we DO have fliers reminding us to wash our hands. I’ve stared at those papers hundreds of times, thinking how moronic it is to have to remind grown adults to wash their hands.

We got home and had a talk about consequences and the need to learn how to ask yourself questions when you’re in the middle of an impulsive thought. Things like, “Will this get me in trouble?” Or, “What else can I do if this annoys me?” And we talked about how, when he’s an adult, he will be expected to know how to deal with his impulses and take responsibility for his actions. Nobody will be tolerant of the excuse “it’s not my fault, it’s my stupid brain!”

And finally, I told him that there would be no computer or iPad until his behavior improved (because there have also been a number of smaller incidents this week.). He cried a little, but recovered quickly. I reminded him that he should feel lucky that TV wasn’t also taken away.

But damn, that parenting manual sure would have been handy today. I mean, who the hell knows how to handle crap like this? Yes, I know, he has impulse control problems and difficulty with forecasting events. I get it. But damn it, I’m not raising him to be coddled and willfully indulged, I’m raising him to be a competent adult. I’m not going to sell him short and think that he doesn’t have the capability, because I believe he does.

As I write this, I can’t get that damn song out of my head. You know the one…Signs, by Tesla (originally recorded by The Five Man Electrical Band). Here, enjoy it…

bathroom sign

Green Bloggers and Spam

Posted on

The thing about blogging is that it’s this awesome, creative outlet for absolutely anyone that wants to do it. And absolutely anyone can read your words, interpret them, MISinterpret them, and misappropriate them.

 

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, they say. I don’t know who they are. Probably some asshole(s) that gets paid to write positive affirmations for magazines that are heavily photoshopped. What do they know?

 

Anyway, blogging… Sometimes you come across a really talented writer whose words seem to go straight through you, right to your heart. The writer at Lexistential.com is one of those writers. As such, there have been some in the blogosphere that have absconded with titles, sentences, and whole portions of what she’s written. Unscrupulous vagabond! But it got me thinking about how to borrow a style from someone without actually stealing. You know, take something you like and make it your own, while getting your message across.

 

I went with Dr. Seuss because, who doesn’t love Dr. Seuss? Goddamn it, you just can’t beat a good rhyme! So I give you my ode to unscrupulous bloggers and those in the (autism) community who do more harm than good.

 

Green Bloggers and Spam

 

Bloggers bloggers, small and green

Why you need to be so mean?

 

I can’t abide the theft of prose,

you smell worse than hobbit’s toes.

 

“Don’t kill your kids!” you squawk and shout,

Captain Obvious, you are a lout.

 

Parents crying, reaching out

You stomp and snort, deny and pout.

 

Families who in need of aid

You give them rhetoric that you’ve made.

 

“Call 9-1-1,” you loudly say,

Police will help you right away.

 

They arrive at your door,

And make a report, but nothing more.

 

But never fear!

There’s the blogosphere…

 

Pithy sayings, custom made.

All their readers gutted and filleted.

 

Your hollow words

and useless tools,

You play us all for insipid fools.

 

Because people know you offer naught

The emperor’s new clothes are what you’ve bought.

 

Now your ugly mouth

it foams with spittle.

 

Let me serenade you

with the world’s smallest fiddle.

 

I do not like

Green bloggers and spam.

 

I do not like them

Truth I am.

 

flanseuss

 

My 4th Grader’s Letter to the Boy Scouts of America

When is the “right” time to discuss sexuality, specifically homosexuality, with your child? Until today, I didn’t have an answer for that question. But today when I picked up Connor from school, he asked me if I knew about the Boy Scouts of America (BSA).

 

(deep breath)

 

I explained to him that I was very familiar with them. And I decided to explain to him why we never pursued membership for him with their organization.

 

“What does ‘gay’ mean?”

 

So I told him that it’s when a man wants to date or marry another man, or a woman wants to date or marry another woman. And I told him that there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just the way they were born. Some of us are born to love someone from the opposite sex, but not everyone.

 

“It’s not terribly different from being born autistic, it’s just the way you are.” I told him.

 

And we talked about their rule that members must believe in God. He asked me, “Did their God tell them not to like gay people?” And, of course, I told him the truth.

 

While we worked on homework, he looked at me and said “I don’t like the rules those Boy Scouts have.” I asked if he wanted to write them a letter and, to my surprise, he said he did. Writing has always been hard for Connor, so I helped with spelling, punctuation, and paragraph spacing. I prompted him to tell them who he is and where he goes to school. But the rest of the words are his alone. And he felt very strongly about adding the sad faces.

 

unnamed

 

There is simply no way to describe the kind of pride you feel as a parent when your child shows you that they care more about what’s right than what everyone else thinks. This parenting gig is HARD, no doubt about it. But days like this are what keep us going during the more challenging of times. I think this one will keep me going for a good, long while.

 

Dr. Phil’s Interview with Kelli Stapleton

As many in the autism community know, Dr. Phil aired part 1 of his interview with Kelli Stapleton yesterday. Part 2 will air today.

It was hard to watch for many reasons. What we’re witnessing, in all the splendor of the mid-day talk show circuit, is the complete destruction of a family. People’s lives have been left in shreds…small pieces they must gather up and try desperately to reassemble into some sort of grotesque mosaic of life that barely resembles their old lives. Three children who once had two loving parents, now only have the presence of one loving parent.

Kelli’s actions changed their lives forever. She knows that. The reasoning behind her actions clearly shows someone who was not in a mentally competent place. It’s obvious that living with the challenges of autism for many years was a contributing factor to her lack of mental stability.

But I wish Dr. Phil’s show had been edited differently. Was it necessary to see the same clip of Issy attacking Kelli, and Kelli’s piercing screams, four times? Granted, maybe they had limited access to video footage, but still…was it necessary, and was it even right to use it? How would Issy feel, having that played on national television?

As Kelli stated, Issy is a little girl who doesn’t want to hurt her family members, she just can’t seem to control herself. She’s a little girl with a disability who was exploited. She didn’t have a choice about what was shown on the show, and that’s not right. If they wanted to demonstrate the severity of aggression, they could have simply interviewed people who have worked with Issy.

In addition, I don’t feel like it was made clear to viewers that Issy is not representative of everyone’s autism. One study has suggested that as many as 58% of children on the spectrum exhibit aggression, whether that is due to autism deficits or a comorbid condition, is unclear. Despite this, it’s irresponsible to let viewers assume that Issy presents as the average autistic person. This portrayal only serves to enforce a negative stereotype about autism that is already prevalent in our culture. It should have been reinforced that the Stapletons were living under extreme conditions that don’t reflect everyone’s experience with autism.

Despite these glaring errors, there was merit in this interview if, for no other reason, than for Kelli Stapleton to let the world know that she is remorseful for what she did. I speak for no one but myself when I say that I needed to hear that from her. I needed to know that she was sorry, that she had an emotional response to what she’d attempted to do to her child.

I believe it’s an absolute truth that every single person has a breaking point. Each person’s breaking point will vary, depending upon the life experiences and personality of that person. So whatever combination of life events and personality came together, it found Kelli at a point where she no longer was able to make logical or competent decisions.

My hope is that someday there will be a set of protocols in place to address families living with chronic aggression and violence. It is simply not possible to live with chronic aggression and not be negatively affected by it. I have no idea what that would look like, whether it was mandatory, ongoing involvement of CPS with families living under these conditions, or something else in its place, but I fear that we will not see an end to tragedies unless we do something to help these families.

Kelli has been a friend to many in the community, and has helped many struggling families. I wish she could have helped herself. I wish she would have let someone else help her. I wish her family wasn’t broken and that her daughter wouldn’t always have the memory of her mother trying to end both their lives.

I wish…

I wish there were answers.

I wish there was peace for these families.

I wish there was more compassion in the world.

And I really wish there wasn’t a part 2 to this interview today.

 

But most of all, I wish for Issy to have some peace in her life. To be able to find her way, with support, and to cease being fodder for journalists and media outlets.

As for my friend Kelli, in her own words, she should “be in jail for a very long time.”

Power and Privilege: Shutting Down Dialogue in the Autism Community

It’s been a year since Kelli Stapleton tried to take her life, along with the life of her daughter. A year seems like a good, long time, yet people at TPGA that style themselves as “autism advocates” still don’t want to talk about autism and aggression. Although aggression affects many people on the spectrum, it doesn’t fit the autism profile that advocates are trying to promote, which is one that only involves positive attributes.

 

Parents want to have the conversation about severe aggression and lack of services and what that scenario does to a family. But they continue to be shut down. Parents are told that they’re “privileged” and don’t have the right to steer a conversation that includes the topics of aggression and lack of services. Yet the conversation is being controlled by people that epitomize the very privilege they strive to censor.

 

They don’t want us to talk about the appalling lack of services, yet one of them has a 1:1 aid for her son. How many of us have a 1:1 aid? They don’t want us to talk about autism and aggression, yet they both have aggressive children. They don’t want parents to be part of the conversation because they’re “privileged”. Yet one of them went to Europe for the summer and the other to Hawaii. How many of us had summer holidays abroad? How many of us didn’t even get a vacation? How many of us would sell a kidney just to get away from the house for a single day?

 

But you know what, that’s okay. Not everyone can afford a luxury vacation, and there’s nothing wrong with someone who can afford that, except when they’re silencing other people for being privileged. People that are more privileged than most of us are not allowing you and me to be part of the conversation because they say we’re privileged. Does anyone see anything wrong with that picture?

 

They don’t want to hear that severe aggression and lack of services can have any correlation to a parent spiraling into such a dark place that they would attempt to harm themselves and their child. Yet, time and again, parents have come forward to admit that they have been perilously close to that line. And while that doesn’t, in any way, justify harming a child, there is an undeniable connection between living with chronic, severe aggression and the erosion of the mental stability and coping skills of the caregiver/parent.

 

Discussing correlation does NOT equal justification for a crime, however discussing services is a conversation that needs to happen. It has to happen so another child doesn’t lose his or her life; so another parent doesn’t feel this is the only option. It has to happen with the people who are living with severely aggressive children. It does not need to happen with the very people our children are not, the very people who are trying to silence those who need to speak.

 

In case that wasn’t perfectly clear: DISCUSSING CORRELATION DOES NOT EQUAL JUSTIFICATION FOR A CRIME.

This conversation isn’t going to go away until families finally get the support they need. The conversation won’t stop because a couple of Bay Area hausfraus with a sham of an unlicensed organization and absolutely no credentials in mental health want to shout us down. In truth, they have no more legitimacy than any other autism parent, because they have no special training or credentials beyond being a parent.

 

This conversation needs to be had, time and again, until people start to listen. This conversation can’t be closed down because there are families hanging in the balance. The conversation must continue until there is real help available to those that need it. Calling 911 and having your child taken away, parental rights terminated, and your other children taken by CPS isn’t the support and help that families need.

 

Kelli Stapleton is my friend. She made a terrible, life-changing choice that will haunt her family forever. Her children will be forever damaged by what she did, especially Issy. I don’t want this tragedy to happen to another family. More than that, I don’t want the public to believe the lies being perpetuated by advocates about Kelli, because those lies have far-reaching implications.

 

The biggest lie was that they had plenty of services for Issy. The Stapleton’s had just learned that Issy would not be allowed back in her school, either because of the aggression or because the behavior plan was too intensive for them to implement. Kelli was going to have to move three hours away from her husband and other children, alone with Issy. There would be no services waiting there for them. None. Kelli would have been completely alone in supporting Issy, whose aggression resulted in prior hospitalizations for Kelli.

The other big lie was that Kelli was just a monster that only cared about herself. Following is a quote (used with permission), from the mom who blogs at Stay at Home Crazy: “Kelli saved my life, along with a couple of people I talked to here and on the Outer Facebooks. She talked me off a ledge. I wish she had let me do that for her. I don’t want anyone to have to feel that there is nowhere to go and no one who will understand. I have been quiet on most of the discussions because I have been getting anxiety attacks whenever I read or try to write about it. But I care. About you guys, about Kelli, about all the parents and all the kids struggling to make it through.”

 

The people that call themselves “advocates” have no problem having a discussion about appropriate services and training for emergency responders after an autistic person is harmed or killed by a police officer, but they won’t allow the same conversation if a parent crosses that line?

 

Don’t let people that are far more privileged than the rest of us dictate the conversation. Write. Blog. Write to your congressman. Refuse to be silenced. Refuse to be bullied.

 

Autistic people are worthy of love, respect, kindness, and empathy, no matter what their challenges may be. Asking for help, for support, doesn’t diminish their worth or value. In fact, it may be the most loving thing you ever do.

The Handsome Compensation Scale, According to Me

Posted on

Remember how I mentioned in another post that I’ve been busy this summer? Well I thought I would share a piece of evidence that illustrates just how much I’ve been juggling lately, and how little time I have leftover for noble pursuits like blogging and power washing the siding on the house.

 

First, let me show you how far behind I am on email. Look at that down there, can you believe that?

 

I basically just gave up.

I basically just gave up.

 

I do try to glance through my email once a day so I don’t miss anything important, like coupons for Old Navy or opportunities to donate money to (insert name of any politician here). And it’s a good thing I do, otherwise I would have missed out on this fantastic opportunity for whatever it is that they are promoting. I really have no idea, frankly. But take a look at this wonderful offer they have made me:

 

This is too good to pass up!

This is too good to pass up!

 

 

Not just a handsome amount, a “VERY” handsome amount. Well hot dog, count me in! But first, just to clarify, let me get some further details on just how good looking we’re talking about, in terms of compensation. So I responded thusly:

 

This should make it easy to negotiate the attractiveness of the compensation.

This should make it easy to negotiate the attractiveness of the compensation.

 

 

So I waited. And then I waited some more. And, you guessed it, here I am, still waiting to hear back from Susan. Is she, perhaps, confused by my rating system? Could it be that she was thinking of something more in the Jack Black range, and is too embarrassed to tell me that she can’t provide me with even so much as a Ewan McGregor for such an important transaction? I just don’t know. But I thought that maybe the wording was not clear enough, and perhaps if I provide a pictorial illustration it will help facilitate our negotiations. So I’ve developed the following Handsome Payment Scale for clarity:

 

I've never gazed upon anything so crystal clear in all my life.

I’ve never gazed upon anything so crystal clear in all my life.

 

 

I hope Susan sees this as my good faith investment in a mutually beneficial relationship. Unless, of course, she was thinking more along the lines of Steve Buscemi. I’ve got to have some standards, after all.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,378 other followers

%d bloggers like this: