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Are You Weird?

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One of the most common things we worry about as parents of spectrum kids, besides getting them the hell out of our house someday, is whether they will be able to fit in with typical peers.  While we may not ever try to make them stop flapping or spinning because we respect them deeply, we still have that nagging feeling deep down that others will notice their unusual behavior and use that as a reason to tease or devalue our children.

Most people are familiar with the stim of flapping.  But I know that there are many other stims, as well as soothing/relaxing behaviors out there.  I decided to ask several other parent bloggers I know to describe some of the stims/behaviors in their homes, and the purpose they serve.

“Chronically picking at the insides/cuticles of thumbs, peeling anything where the surface is coming off, like bark off of sticks or paint and wallpaper.” Kristin, Running to Be Still

“Unable to concentrate unless hands are clean/obsessive hand washing.”  Jill “that nutjob with curly hair”, Yeah. Good Times

“Trichotillomania; preferences for numbers to add up to multiples of 12.” Adrienne, No Points for Style

“Twiddling fingers like they’re playing an invisible keyboard – it’s calming and feels like they’re shaking out stress.” Carmen, Stay at Home Crazy

“Typing words on the palm of the hand like it’s a keyboard; playing mental math games by assigning a number to each letter and trying to make a word add up to a multiple of 5.” Jessica, Don’t Mind the Mess

“Vocal stims/noises when falling asleep.” Amanda,Confessions from Household Six

“Twitching toes, both inside shoes and at bedtime to relax.”Jean, Stimeyland

“Chronic picking of scabs, cuticles, dry skin; scalp massages for the soothing effect; multiple blankets for weight.” Eileen, Autism With a Side of Fries

“Obsessed with using peppermint oil or Tiger Balm on the body as a sensory input; hot beverages when upset/anxious; pacing when stressed; removing and redoing ponytail when ready to meltdown.” Jo, Jo Ashline; A Sweet Dose of Truth

“Interlocking hands and moving fingers in a rapid pattern when excited or nervous.  Will also reach arms up and put fingers in hair in an attempt to hide it.” Maya, Maya’s Eye Photography

“Doodling with pen and paper.” Jen, Anybody Want a Peanut

“Vacuuming – the hum, movement and lines are soothing.” Lizbeth, Four Sea Stars

“Tapping thumbs and fingers together. Karla, Beyond the Dryer Vent

“Rubs feet together when going to sleep; cuticle picking; wall of pillows when sleeping; heavy blankets.” Anonymous, My Winter Butterflies

“Prefers crisp fabric, like denim or khaki, and fingers the fabric repeatedly.”  Patty, Pancakes Gone Awry

“Picking eyebrows and cuticles; chewing on hair or necklace; heavy blankets.”  Stephanie, On the Beans

“Rubbing fingers together; pushing hair behind ears; obsessed with word games.”  Marj, The Domestic Goddess

“Thumb-sucking; running fingers over eyelashes.”  Anonymous

“Thumb-picking; pulling at eyebrows.” Tim, Both Hands and a Flashlight

“Rubbing feet together at bedtime; face-picking.” Lexi, Mostly True Stuff

“Constant humming or singing; picking at cuticles.” Anne, Glass Half Full

“Oral fixation – chewing on straws, pencil erasers, pencils, gum; picking cuticles.” Niksmom, Maternal Instincts

“Typing on the keyboard very loudly.” Gabrielle, My Whac-A-Mole Life

After reading that list, you must be thinking, “Wow, how will those kids ever be functional adults with all those odd, quirky stims and coping mechanisms?”  And you’re right, there are some pretty unusual things there.  But the good news is that they are already functional adults, because the behaviors that each person described are their behaviors.  They are the quirks and routines of the parents, not the autistic child.

The people on this list are lawyers, accountants, healthcare professionals, entrepreneurs, computer professionals, housewives and writers.  They have families and jobs and therapy appointments and household responsibilities.  They’re your friends and neighbors.  In short, they’re YOU.  See, we all have habits and odd, quirky ways that we cope with life’s stressors.  Some developed in childhood, while others came later, when adult responsibilities took shape.

Our children are not so different from us.  It’s just that they haven’t developed the ability to “hide” their quirks as well as we have.  Flapping, spinning, repeating movie lines, jumping – none of those seems so “unique” to autism when you read the above list.  It seems that we all find ways to interact with our environment and process the sensory input in our own “special” way.

The bottom line is this:  stop CARING what other people think.  Our kiddos will make their way, in THEIR way, and at the end of the day all that matters is that they’re healthy, happy, and loved.  Anyone that would look oddly at our children is the same person that’s going home to drink too much, pick their scabs, or rock themselves to sleep.

We’re all pretty weird.  Some of us know how to hide it, and others are more organic.  It’s kind of refreshing, that honesty and purity.  Celebrate it.

Another Meme, With a Splash of Lime

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Nowhere to go now but down.

I almost just can’t believe it, but I’ve been tagged for a meme. It’s like there’s a magic meme unicorn, running around and farting glitter all over me! Since Lizbeth, at Four Sea Stars, tagged me, I guess she is that glitter-farting unicorn.

Thank you, Lizbeth, for farting this honor on me!  Here are the rules of this most awesome honor:

  1. Thank and link back to the person who bestowed the award on you. Alrighty, I think that’s covered (see farting unicorn reference above).
  2. Post 10 things about yourself that others may or may not know, or may not care to know.
  3. Bestow this great and mighty honor upon 6 others.
  4. Go forth and seek out those 6 others to bring them the good news of this award.

Alright then, let’s do this, shall we?

1. I was once pelted in the face with a wad of grass by an angry gorilla, who I’d spent hours observing at the zoo for an anthropology paper in college. He did not appreciate being watched. Connor loves to hear that story, over and over again.

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2. I don’t cry when it’s expected. But I do cry at odd times. I cried when Grace, from That’sRightISaidIt.Dot.Mom sent me a package of Tastykakes after reading my post about snack cakes. Not because I like snack cakes THAT much (but they’re damn good), but because I was just floored that a virtual stranger, that I only know in the blog world, spent the time, effort, and money to make such a kind gesture. I’m working on something to send back to her (it’s almost done, I swear), and I hope she knows how appreciated it was!

Tears of joy when I saw these baked goods of the heavens.

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3. I’ve never seen a single episode of Star Trek. It just never interested me.

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4. When I was in high school, I thought Duran Duran was totally rad. Especially John Taylor, who was totally bitchin’. My favorite song was “Save a Prayer”, because I thought it was really deep (it wasn’t, it was a convoluted mess).

Oh yeah, good stuff. Too bad he looks like a shrunken, hollowed-out husk of his former self now.

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5. My favorite actor is Tom Hanks. I don’t think I have a favorite actress.

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6. I try to intersperse classics into my reading (like having a veggie with dinner), and right now am reading The Prince, by Machiavelli. It is boring the shit out of me, but if I stop reading it, it’s like it beat me.

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7. I was the worst student ever, in the history of people being students, at math. Well, all math beginning at algebra. I was okay with addition. Once letters came into the mix, my brain disconnected. I had to take basic algebra twice, and worked my ass off for a passing D grade the 2nd time. Yes, I was that bad.

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8. That math thing came back to haunt me in college, when I had to take physical geography, and was unable to calculate the adiabatic lapse rate of a parcel of air. First off, how the fuck do you measure a “parcel” of air? It’s AIR! I managed to get out with a C-.

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9. Although I can drive a stick-shift, I would rather roller skate or rely on public transportation than actually have to drive one. It’s a mental block that I can’t get past.

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10. Most of the time I feel like a fraud because I’m not really a writer. I started this blog as a place to vent and share info, but I’m surrounded by awesome writers. Sooner or later they’ll realize I don’t belong here, and escort me out.

And now, the honorees of this fine award will be:

Grace, from That’sRightISaidIt.Dot.Mom – well, duh!!!  Not only does she send snack cakes, but I know she will have lot of interesting things to say about herself.

Karen, from Solodialogue.  She writes such beautiful pieces about her son, so now we can hear more tidbits about her!

Þorgerður, from Sturlungi.  I’ve recently started reading her site and love hearing about her son, but especially about life in Iceland.

Kara, from Karacteristic.  I’m going to keep on tagging until you finally do it.

LaliQuin, from Autism Wonderland.  This sassy momma should have some good tales.

Handflapper, from Handflapping.  Because it will be funny, funny shit people.  Whatever she writes, it is always some damn funny shit.

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Editors note:  Listen people, be sure to grab the correct meme button if you are tagged.  It is the “Kreativ Blogger” button at the top, NOT the farting unicorn.  That’s just how I think of Lizbeth.

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Just Like a Fungus, It’s Another Meme

Memes.  They’re kind of like a fungus that slowly spreads from one person, or blog, to another.  Lizbeth, over at Four Sea Stars, has spread her nasty fungus over here, by naming me in this meme, which is called the Blog on Fire Award.  I’m not sure where the outbreak originated, but it is spreading through the blogosphere quickly.

Pass the marshmallows...

But it does say “award”, so I guess I should say thank you for honoring me with this lovely fungi award.  Thank you, Lizbeth.  Thank.  You.  I only hope I can repay this honor someday soon….

Anywho, yadda yadda, seven things about me that you could go your whole life without knowing and not care.  Ready???  GO!!!

1.  The television show that I can watch over and over again, no matter how many times I’ve seen the episodes, is MASH.  I think it’s one of the smartest, well-written shows I’ve ever seen, and I really appreciate how poignant each episode is, interspersed with sardonic humor.

2.  In general, I’m not a people-person.  Which is to say, I don’t generally like most people.  Well, annoying people.  And the stupid ones.   Or the ones that watch Glen Beck.  Or anyone backing Rick Perry (shudder).

3.  I would choose corn tortillas over flour anytime.  It’s just one more thing that alienates me here in Texas, but I can’t help that I’m a lover of the corn products.  I like it mashed into other products, popped, and on the cob.

4.  I hate cats.  I consider them the devil’s minion.  They are ungrateful, snotty, and self-absorbed.  There is room in my house for only one snotty, ungrateful and self-absorbed creature, and I’m not giving up my position for some pissy little pussy.

5.  I do genealogy because sometimes dead people are more interesting than live ones.

6.  Living my whole life in the same town feels like death to me.  I have the wanderlust.  We’ve moved several times, and it makes for a great adventure.

7.  I’m not convinced that Spam is real food.  I have never eaten it because I can’t get past the visual of the meat slithering out of the can, with that gelatin coating.  And the smell, oh god, the smell.

This can't be real food.

So, victims???

My good friend Kara, at Karacteristic!  She is super awesome, so I know she will loooooove me for this.  Right, Kara??

Brian, at Both Sides of the Coin.  Because I know he will have something interesting to say.

Guest Post – Kung Fu Fighters Are Assholes

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My funny dried up, I got a nasty cold, and school is ramping up to start in a couple days, so I’ve kind of been off the grid.

Did you even notice?  DID YOU???

Lizbeth, from Four Sea Stars noticed, and she called me out and was all, “what the fuck, sister?”  Then she foolishly kindly mentioned something about doing a guest post, and I jumped all over that shit like a donut at a PTA meeting.

Lizbeth is a rock star.  Do you know her?  You should.  She writes about stalkers and men with small penises that drive orange sports cars, and other wildly funny things.

Here is her wonderful guest post, which is her way of saying “you better get some shit up on your blog, loser.”  She is the bringer of the funny…

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I’m sitting here tapping my hands on the keyboard hoping something magical will come out.  Something so as to not let Flannery down.  Something so filled with poetry and words with rapture so as not to disappoint.

And I’ve got nothing.
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Not even making fun of my mom’s cooking will suffice.  And I am granted some creative leeway here.  The fact I came out of my childhood house without a social services consult for failing to meet minimum nutritional standards is still unnerving.  I have images seared on the backs of my retina’s of my mom using a can opener for every meal and pulling out frozen corn and spinach from the freezer, mixing them and calling it dinner.
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I will never get those years back.
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A fire extinguisher was always on the counter and trust me when I say we had a personal relationship with the Mac Fire Department.  As a kid I knew all their names.  If only I could be on a first name basis with our Fire Department men.  Lord Almighty, they are easy on the eyes.
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I don’t think I’ve ever met a not-hot fireman.
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Wait.  What?  Sorry, I digress.
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Anyway, it has taken me many years (and I do mean years people, I’m not a quick learner) to figure out that if you have a kid on the Spectrum and they really like music and certain TV shows ad nauseam then the smart thing to do is get your ass in front of that music and TV pronto. Like yesterday.  Like, seriously, the day before yesterday.
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And yes, my son is still talking like a Valley Girl.  Thanks Disney Channel, I owe you one.
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Now I’ve had my son listen to Bolero for years now as a “go to” song.  Its soothing, its repetitive.  He loves trying to identify what instrument comes next.  But the real glory?  The real reason I went with Maurice??
 It’s thirteen-glorious-minutes long.
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Thirteen minutes of freedom.
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Thirteen minutes I can use to pee, put on deodorant, unload the dishwasher, to do laundry, to drink–yes I really said that, to sit and catch the news or just do nothing.  All wrapped in the sanctity of sweet music made by Maurice.
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But now my panties are in a bunch.  I mean they’re really shoved up and in there good.  I’m usually the one at home doling out the music and TV shows.  I’ve finally gotten used to Phinneas and Ferb.  I’m OK with them.  I can tolerate them.
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But my husband got in front of my son and let him listen to his music.  I can’t stand his music.  And now I’m screwed.  Royally and totally screwed.  And not in the good way.  The really, really, bad ugly way.  The kind of way that may involve a murder/suicide.
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See, he let Alex hear the song, Kung Fu Fighting and Maurice had been unceremoniously punted off the back deck.
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My zen has been destroyed.
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Kung Fu Fighting by fucking Kool and the Gang.  Kool and the Gang.  I thought they were all dead.  No.  NO.  I take that back.  I don’t know about Kool and the Gang.  I don’t care about Kool and the Gang.  I could have gone my whole life not giving a shit about Kool and the Gang but now they’re back.  In my house.  And I can’t get them to leave.

These bastards need to get out of my house.

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I’ve gotten some sense and made him upgrade to the Fatboy Slim version but I’m still in hell.  It’s just moved out of the 70’s and into the 90’s.  All I’m listening to is how everyone’s kung fu fighting and how they’re all fast as lighting and I don’t give a shit.
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And how they’re all looking real fine and how he’s a got a white suit on and how he’s got perfect timing, just like when he’s kung fu fighting and I still don’t give a shit.
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And how there’s some girl singing about her sexy kung foo fighter and how she’s gonna take you higher. And he’s got something that will tease ya.  Whaaat???  And now, now, I give a shit.
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See, my son’s great at memorizing things and within three repeats he had the whole song down pat and now he’s running around singing, “ONE TWO, DO THE KUNG FU.  THREE FOUR, ON THE DANCE FLOOR.  I SAY, ONE TWO DO THE KUNG FU.  THREE FOUR ON THE DANCE FLOOR.  SING IT GIRL!”
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To which he looks over to my daughter and she sings out, “SEXY KUNG FOO FIGHTER!!!  LET ME TAKE YOU HIGHER!!!!”
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To which he sings back, “I’M THE ONLY MAN THAT WILL PLEASE YA.  I’VE GOT SOMETHING THAT WILL TEASE YA!!!!”
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To which I am screaming in my head, “THIS IS A LITTLE BIT FRIGHTENING!”
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My beautiful children are belting out, at the top of their lungs, how they are going to sex each other up.  And they won’t stop.
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I’m in hell.
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I’m ready to slit my wrists.
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Slowly.
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But first I’m going to find my husband.
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And that will be frightening.
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Shout-Outs and Props

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Most days it’s all I can do to even get a post put together, let alone make the rounds and read and comment on all my other favorite blogs.  I would have to say that it’s a mixture of being busy with other commitments and easily distracted by shiny objects.

My bloggy friends.

But you guys…you guys are DA BOMB!  Not in a Hiroshima way, but more of a Gap Band kind of way.  You guys come here all the time and read my crazy ramblings about chicken and mom-whoring myself at Super Target.  And then, THEN you leave all these kind and snarky thoughtful words for me.

I LIVE for those comments, you know that?  And it amazes me that a bunch of strangers can find each other in the cyber-universe and offer so much encouragement, support, and friendship.

Since I don’t always make it over to read and comment every day, I thought I would mention a few sites that I really enjoy, and highly recommend to others.  I kind of stole this idea from Lady Estrogen, but I don’t think she reads my crap, so I’m not a-scared of her.  She is one funny chick though, so you should definitely stop by and check her out.

I read lots of other blogs, so I’m just going to mention a few of the newer or previously un-mentioned ones here:

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Mama’s Turn Now

A special thanks to Sharon, from Mama’s Turn Now, for featuring my post about sexual predators on her Weekly Wrap Up Sunday.  She’s got a great blog where she talks about her son’s Aspergers, as well as her daughter’s asthma.  It’s a very well written and thoughtful blog, loaded with information, so be sure to stop by and check it out, and drop her a comment.

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The Suniverse

This chick is funny.  And twisted.  Funny and twisted are an awesome combination!  Go there and read…and laugh.  It’s one of my favorite new blog finds, and I know you will love it.

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LA Juice

She called me “darling” and said that I’m “the best”, so now I’m kind of her bitch.  But that’s okay, because if I was going to be someone’s bitch, she would definitely be the one!  She (Juice) is a fellow Los Angelean, attorney, and snarky funny blogger who writes about celebrities and random craziness in her life.  Good stuff, people, good stuff.  Go there, she will make you laugh.

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Karacteristic

Kara is a fabulous mom blogger, with a daughter on the spectrum.  She is terribly hilarious, especially when drinking, finding baby birds hatching in her houseplants, or bitching about tortillas.  She is one of my favorites, by far, so pay her a visit.

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Four Sea Stars

You probably already know Lizbeth, over at Four Sea Stars, but the fact that she writes about her kids (one of them is on the spectrum) in such a way that I snorted out laughing at work, well that says a lot.  I don’t snort easily, I’ll have you know.  They just left for vacation, and this first vacation post is the offending snort-maker.  Check it out.

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It’s just my way of passing on some of the kindness and support you have all given me.  I will have to remember to do this again, because there are so many great blogs out there.

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Flat Flannery Friday!

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People said I was crazy.  Crazy for having a dream that we, the artistically challenged, could find support, nay, acceptance in this cold, cold world.

Crazy like a fox.

Flat Flannery is making her way around the world, mile by mile.  This week I will highlight a photo that touched me.

This was submitted by Lizbeth, from Four Sea Stars.

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Flat Flannery Friday

 

 

Flat Flannery visits the midwest.

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I know.  You’re thinking, “it’s just a picture of Flat Flannery in a bucket.” 

No people, it’s so much more.  You see, Lizbeth’s kids have been sick all week.  You can read about it here.

This was the trusted, and well used puke bucket.  I know, it’s kind of gross.  And I know you’re thinking, “Lizbeth threw Flat Flannery in a PUKE bucket for a reason, because it SUCKS.”

Okay, I see how you might think that.  But the truth is, Flat Flannery is in the puke bucket to provide Lizbeth with comfort, and to lift her spirits as she cleans up after her sick kids. 

Flat Flannery might be poorly drawn, but she is a friend.  A cheerleader for the overworked and underappreciated moms out there.

But hopefully next time the picture will be in a cornfield, or at a rib joint.  Something mid-west-ish.

So keep the photos coming.  I can’t wait to see what adventures lie in store for Flat Flannery next week (click here for the Flat Flannery story).

Special thanks to April and Jillsmo, for their submissions.  They will be in the running next week, along with the new ones that will come flooding in.

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Meet the Neighbors

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When I started blogging, lo those many weeks ago, I thought, like many a new blogger, that I would just write some things and post them out there in blogging space.  My mistake was in not realising there’s an entire community of bloggers out there, networked and working collaboratively.  Whatever your topic may be, there are others out  there, and sooner or later you will stumble upon them.

I blog in the autism/parenting/humor/special needs/random crazy thoughts genre.  There are many others, tirelessly writing about how autism affects their lives.  They are spreading autism awareness all year long.  Since this is autism awareness month, I thought it would be nice to highlight them, and profile the “neighbors.”

I don’t know any of them on a personal level.  I read their blogs and tweets and, as we are prone to do, have encapsulated them in my mind and assigned them personalities, according to what I’ve read.  As a result, the following information may be a dead-on description, or it may be a purely fictional impression, created in my own imagination

Meet a few of your autism blogging neighbors:

Autism Army Mom, AKA Lynn.  I started with her because, frankly, she scares me a little.  She’s been doing this a long time, and she means business.  She blogs with a great family style of humor, so no one is ever offended.  Mostly.  She is uber-dedicated to finding services and supports for her adorable daughter.  I suspect she runs a tight ship, and her house is never in disarray.  Also, the pictures of her make me think she has a ton of nervous energy, and is always pushing her hair back, behind her ears, from a nervous habit.  Don’t mess with her though, because I have a strong suspicion she’s like Carmela Soprano.  Her hands don’t get dirty, but the trash gets taken out.   But you didn’t hear that from me.

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Big Daddy Autism (BDA) also lives on the block.  He’s like an enigma, wrapped in a mystery,  wrapped in salami.  He is also a super savvy business mogul, wheeling and dealing behind the scenes (kind of like Charlie Sheen, but bigger, and with less hair).  He’s found himself a nice little niche.  There are very few dad autism bloggers, and none that are also cartoonists.  This is a great way to work your way into a book deal.  It doesn’t hurt that he’s like a sheik, with a harem of mommy bloggers.  His cartoons are excellent, his family adorable, and his humor is mostly funny.  But he’s also like an onion.  You peel away the goofy dad layer, and you get to the businessman.  You peel that away, and you get to the soft mushy inside, that might make you cry.  Not because of the smell.  I’m not saying that.  Nope.

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Solo Dialogue (Karen) is new on the blog block.  She’s a lawyer, with an adorable little boy with autism.  She is always kind, always thoughtful, and is a cheerleader for her bloggy neighbors.  As a lawyer, her writing is always thorough, well thought out, and never includes bad language.  She’s not the neighbor that will get drunk with you, but she will always bring her trash cans in promptly, and the lawn will always be well manicured.

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Meet Laura, at Life in the House That Asperger BuiltEveryone in her house is on the spectrum.  And they all practice martial arts.  She’s super nice, and will answer any Aspie question you have, but if you play the music too loud and assault their senses, she’s likely to pull out some karate moves on you.  You can get back into her good graces by talking to her at length about algebra.  Yep, she’s a math nerd and will love it.

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Lizbeth, at Four Sea Stars, doesn’t have a blog button, so I found this photo for her.  I hope she likes it.  She is super mom, with a wicked funny sense of humor.  And she’s not shy about dropping some F-bombs, but not in front of the kids.  Weird things happen to her all the time, like hail from hell and horses dodging trains.  Or maybe she’s that neighbor, that has had everything happen to her??  Either way, she’s good entertainment, but possibly bad luck!

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Meet your crazy neighbor, Jillsmo, from Yeah. Good TimesSteer clear when she’s on the road, as she’s prone to running over things, like wildlife.  You’ll need extra wine for the neighborhood BBQ, as Jillsmo likes to “tip it.”  She’s a really good mom, but she probably teaches the kids curse words and how to make fart sounds with their armpits.  She’ll grow on you.  Not like a fungus or anything.  Like something else.  I’m not sure what.

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By no means is this a complete list of the autism blogging “neighborhood.”  I just ran out of steam, and vodka, so it’s time to cut it off.  There are many more equally talented, funny, and strange bloggy friends out there.  Perhaps there will be a “Meet the Neighbors, Part Deux”, if I’m not mysteriously run down by a cackling, curly-headed suburbanite.

Seriously, if you don’t see another post from me…

 
 

 

 

Don't act like you don't see this. I know you're looking right at it. Just click it already.

 

 

 

 

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