So, this morning, I was driving my son to summer school at about 7:30 A.M.  I took my usual route, sitting at a red light waiting for the left turn arrow for about 60 – 70 seconds.  The light turned to a green left arrow, and one car in the lane beside me drove through the intersection while out of the right side of the intersection a group of young adults darted out in front of all the other cars, blocking my lane from proceeding through the green arrow when the crosswalk clearly stated STOP to pedestrians.  Does this seem like such a big deal?  Maybe not to some.  But I can honestly say that I see this kind of thing happen DAILY in my community.  A friend of mine and I were discussing this very thing the other day as we watched three groups of people dart across A1A at the beach, less than 50 feet from a crosswalk.  As it happened, after this morning’s jaywalking incident, I returned home and flipped on the Today show, to listen to a story about a mother in Cobb County, Georgia, who decided to jaywalk across a four-lane highway with her three children in the dark, and lost her four-year-old son to a drunk driver who did not stop after running him over.  This is a horrific tragedy.  If you haven’t heard this story, you may read about it here.  The mother is facing a three-year-jail sentence if convicted of jaywalking and/or child endangerment.  The driver has a prior hit-and-run/DUI record from 1997  and faces a  MUCH shorter jail time for this hit-and-run.  (According to the article, he had been drinking earlier in the day, but it’s unclear from this link whether he was actually drunk at the time of this accident.) Is this fair?  Hasn’t this mother suffered enough losing her son?   I can’t even begin to imagine (and I don’t want to) what it must be like to lose a child.  I sympathize with this woman and I pray for her to find peace.  The man who killed her child deserves to be punished; with a record for drunk driving, he had no business on the road.  But what about the jaywalking?  Is it right to turn a blind eye?  I know it seems so trivial to the other things that are going on this country.  But after what I’ve been witnessing lately in my own community, shouldn’t SOMETHING be done?  A fine?  Maybe some parenting classes?  Something?  I don’t agree that three years in jail away from her other two children is necessarily the right thing, but she did put her children in harm’s way.  This mother was 3/10 of a mile away from a crosswalk, carrying groceries and crossed the highway with three kids dodging traffic.  Seems to me, if you are unable to hold your four-year-old child’s hand in that situation, maybe walking to the crosswalk might be a good idea.

This casual attitude about rule following is so frustrating.  Yesterday, my son wanted to sign up to play an online game.  He visited the website, filled in the information, and when it got to the “birthday” section, was advised that he must be 13 years old in order to sign up.  He protested that he could play it anyway, nothing on there was *bad*.  But I explained to him that in order for him to play, we would have to lie about his age.  I was pleased to see that that simple word “lie” was all that he needed to hear.  He simply said “OK” and that was the end of the issue.  I wonder, though, how many people would have done what I did?  How many would think “No big deal – it’s only a game”?  How many parents have permitted a 10-year-old child a Facebook page when the privacy policy states that they MUST be 13 years old?  How many think “No big deal if I cross the street here – I don’t feel like walking an extra 30 feet”? What is it going to take to get people to begin to respect the rules and regulations that were created for safety?  It’s horrible that it takes a tragedy to bring these types of issues to light…………….at least for some.

Autism Angels

I stole this idea from another blog I read today.  The blogger wrote about those people who randomly appear in the lives of individuals with autism/ASD and touch us in a special way. As an autism mom, I worry so much about how people will react to my son’s behavior in public, and all the negative comments, looks, etc. (as one of my last posts touched on).  Often, though, I don’t acknowledge those individuals in the community who pleasantly surprise me.  Now, don’t get me wrong, there are people close to my family whose help, support, love, and understanding are invaluable: extended family, teachers, friends, neighbors,  etc.  Those are the people near and dear to my heart every single day, and they are the people I (hopefully) remember to thank regularly.  But I’m talking about those people who aren’t blood related to me, don’t choose to work with special kids, etc.  It’s those people who just seem to know what a kind word/look/deed can do to a family like mine who endures the stress of autism every day.                                                                                    Every summer, we visit my sister for the Fourth of July.  Her neighbors are so kind and understanding with M; when he’s running into their houses to explore, when he’s peeking into their windows to check out their ceiling fans.   There is a young man (about to enter middle-school) in that neighborhood, who is very close to my nephews, who treats M just like he were family, too.   C.O. is so kind to M, plays with him, and even helps supervise him when the kids are alone outside or playing in the bounce house.  It’s touching to see someone of that age who sees my son once a year, and treats him so kindly.                           There’s the young hairdresser at Great Clips who takes such good care of M when he goes in for a haircut.  We randomly decided one weekend to give this place a try………our regular children’s barber was getting more and more difficult to see as he takes appointments only.   M isn’t too bad with haircuts, but you just never know……..   We quickly explained that M is autistic, and she gave us the most assuring smile as if to say “I know”.  She was so sweet and kind, gentle and assuring, and it just warmed my heart to know that someone “got it” – just met us for the first time, and she just “GOT IT”.                              A few years ago, my school held a fundraiser and one of the prizes was a big spinning remote control U.F.O.  That toy was MADE for M.   C wasn’t yet a student at the elementary school so he wasn’t participating in this fundraiser, so winning this prize was out of the question.  I asked one of the young gentlemen running the fundraiser if/where I could purchase that item, explaining that my autistic son loves things that spin.  Without hesitation, he pulled one off the cart and told me to take it to him.  I almost cried.                               Ordinary people doing ordinary things that make an extraordinary difference in one person’s life; I hope everyone experiences this in some capacity in their life on a regular basis.  Things like that warm your heart, and remind you that there is so much good left in the world, even when the daily headlines tells us differently.  To quote one of my very favorite inspirational songs

Oh, I believe there are angels among us

Sent down to us from somewhere up above

They come to you and me, in our darkest hour

 To show us how to live, to teach us how to give

To guide us with the light of love.    

 

 

Fishbowls

Wow.  A couple of stories over the last week have just blown me away and made me SOOO happy that I don’t have people peeking into my personal life 24/7.   I also cannot believe that the media finds it necessary to place emphasis on such ridiculous stories.                                 First I read about “OUTRAGE” created by Kate Middleton for wearing the same jeans and dress more than once on her North American trip.  What a travesty!  I mean seriously, this is news?   I really and truly find it appalling that this poor girl is being criticized for something as ridiculous as that.  What has our society come to that we now need to chastise someone for being so bold as to wear the same article of clothing more than once in public?  And, pardon me, but just to point out a little interesting tidbit here, aren’t all the summer issues of the fashion magazines always focused on “5 Essential Pieces to Pack in Your Suitcase” or “Packing for Jetsetting Fashionistas”?  It really blows me away that someone like Kate Middleton – a real-life princess, now married to one of the world’s most eligible bachelors – just can’t win.  Something as trivial as wearing the same jeans more than once has actually made the news.

The other story that I shake my head at is the fact that our First Lady actually consumed a burger, fries, and a shake.  What has this world come to?  A human being treated herself to fast food?  Maybe this calls for an impeachment trial.  OK, OK, maybe I’m stirring the pot here, but I’m not trying to start any kind of talk about Obama or any of his political agendas.  Yes, Michelle is pushing for better health and fitness in this country.  And I could understand if she was eating fast food every day.  But she’s caught with ONE fast food meal at a new place she wanted to try?  And this creates a story that hit the Web faster than a speeding bullet?  The Washington Post even posted then re-calculated how many calories she consumed in that meal.  Wow.  I wonder how many of those reporters can fit into Michelle’s wardrobe?  Or how many of them have a healthy cholesterol level or even attempt to exercise daily?  I know, I know………she’s a public figure, practice what you preach, blah blah blah.  But seriously, what have we come to that eating a fast food meal (like 150 million people in this country probably do daily) has to create such a “controversy”??????                                                                                                                                       I’m sure glad I don’t live in a fishbowl.  Now I’m off to slip into yesterday’s jean shorts and have a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast.

A Midsummer-day’s Post

I’m an elementary school teacher.  I work outside my  home 40 weeks of the year.  Then for the other 12, I become a stay-at-home mom.  I wish I could say that summers are all fun and games, sleeping late and hanging out at the beach, traveling and spending carefree days sipping frozen drinks.  No, I can’t say that.  No, I’ll likely never be able to say that.  Yes, I’ve accepted it.  No, I don’t necessarily like it.  OK, truth is, I don’t like it at all.  Being a mom of an autistic child is hard.  It’s harder on more levels than people can ever, ever realize unless they are in the same boat.                                                                                                  This summer (like most summers) we are taking daily “staycation” trips. Today, my family took a day-trip to a local South Florida attraction.  Seems like an easy enough trip to do when you have 6 adults and 5 kids.  Truth be told, it wasn’t such a bad day.  M was pretty well behaved despite the horrendous heat and lots of walking.  So I had to take him to visit every single ceiling fan in the park.  I’m used to it.  So I had to repeat the same phrase 1,000 times right after he said it (called a vocal stim).  I’m used to that, too.  But when the day was over and all the kids were deciding what to do tomorrow, then the frustration set in for me.  They all want to go to a water park tomorrow.  Again…..not a big deal, right?  For typical elementary aged kids, not a big deal at all.  But for me, the stress began to set in.  You see, in South Florida, water parks are invaded every single day of summer by summer camps.  Loud, pushy, teenager-on-their-cellphone-supervised summer camps.  THAT sends me into panic-mode.  My husband says I stress too much.  Maybe he’s right.  But anyone who is raising a special needs child – correction – any MOMMY raising a special needs child will agree with me.  (Sorry to all you daddies, but you guys just don’t stress like the ladies do —–ladies won’t you agree with me???)  M has this uncontrollable need lately to “say HI” to every single little girl that he sees.  His idea of “saying HI” is putting his hand on their shoulder or back or hand.  Some of the older girls don’t mind it — they seem to get that he has issues and often smile and say “That’s OK”  as I offer an “I’m sorry” and hurry him off. But the part that breaks my heart is when he gets the occasional odd stare or rude comment from a child or a parent such as “HEY!” (with a pull-away gesture) or a “STOP IT!”  or a comment from a nearby friend such as “Who was THAT?  Do you KNOW him?”.  Yeah, it’s not fun.  Now imagine a water park where kids are everywhere……….not being supervised, pushing ahead to go on a slide, running on wet surfaces.  ((((SHUDDER))))    So the lot was drawn……….we’re going to the water park tomorrow.   On the flip side of the coin, is it really fair of me to take away the fun the other kids are looking forward to just because M might stress mommy out?  No.  I know it’s not fair.  Particularly to M’s brother.  I hate depriving  C of the things he wants to do because of his brother.  And right now, he wants to have fun with his cousins at a water park.  That’s not an unreasonable request of a 7 year old.                                                                              If you haven’t noticed, I just spent about 30 sentences explaining the thoughts that entered my head today over going to a freakin’ kids’ water park tomorrow.  Well, those are the types of things that I have to ponder when our family wants to have a fun day together at a potentially crowded location.   I ponder much of this to a lesser extent when going to a grocery store, mall, or other errands.  It’s exhausting.  It really is.   I told my husband today that I’m so jealous of people who can go places with their families and RELAX while the kids are occupied.  We’ll never be able to go to a vacation spot that has a “kids’ club” – those cruises and resorts where you can send your kids to a day-program while the adults enjoy themselves.  Never going to happen.  EVER.  It makes me sad sometimes.  And yes, I’ve been known to throw an occasional pity party for myself (like say, maybe, this particular post?!?).                                                                                                           Many years ago, I went through a horrific experience that took a long, long time to get over.  During that time, I wrote letters; letters I never sent to that person for whom they were intended.  But writing was unbelievably therapeutic for me.   Getting my thoughts into some semblance of order is so helpful.  I haven’t been blogging as regularly as I’d like, but  I’m glad the outlet is there.