• autism,  cross-country,  Education,  motherhood,  post high school

    J is now 17

    It’s freaking me out a little bit, because that question I’ve gotten from so many people for years, YEARS (like when he was 5 with a freshly official autism diagnosis) of “what do you expect his life to be like as an adult” is just one year away. I’ve had the luxury (luxury? can that exist with an autism diagnosis?) of putting that question off for years because most days we’re just trying to figure out what the next few hours are going to look like. But October 5 has come and gone and here we are! Yes, I know that “adult” is a loaded word (when is one truly…

  • anxiety,  autism,  Early Intervention,  Education,  high school,  mental health,  middle school,  modifications,  special education

    Violence in the Classroom: From an Autism Mom’s Point of View

    Violence in the classroom has become a really big issue. In Fargo, it’s been in the paper and on the news. And it’s something that’s been happening across the country. Here’s a news clip from a Utah TV station: This is a topic I have really struggled with over the last few years. I have a son who sometimes does those things. I have a daughter who witnesses those things in her classroom or in the hallway. I have teacher friends. My mum was a teacher. I’m a teacher (I’ve taught at the university level as an adjunct and at the preschool, elementary, middle, and high school levels as a…

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  • autism,  Education,  IEP,  motherhood,  special education

    Ave Verum Corpus

    When I was about eight or nine, I remember standing in the middle of my classroom choir on our first stop of our little elementary school musical tour, wanting to crawl in a corner and hide. I knew every single note of the song we were about to sing, but I didn’t know any of the Latin besides the first three words: Ave Verum Corpus. Being good little Canadian kids, this was about the same time we were also learning French. Boy did I love French–I was really, really good at French. I was the master of the weekly French dictee. Not only was I really good at learning language,…

  • autism,  Early Intervention,  Education,  handwriting,  motherhood

    When he was little

    When he was little he used to throw tantrums all the time. I have the scars on my hands to prove it. When we’d leave a store out of the “wrong door,” I’d try to pick him up off the ground and somehow he’d find a way to dig his nails into my hands and wrists to show his protest. I’d have bruises on my shins. Strands of my hair in his fists. That was life with an autistic little. Any excursion outside of the house was an enormous—catastrophic—disruption for both of us. I hated that he barely spoke. He would point and grunt even though he had the words…

  • Education,  family,  high school,  mental health,  siblings and autism,  teen years

    Golden Students

    Two weeks ago, W and I were sitting at the kitchen table, talking through her AP Human Geography Packet answers. She’s been struggling to keep her grades up in that class, so Steve and I have been doing a little more intervention. We’ve been monitoring her homework in that class. We never, ever monitor her homework. But this is a “college” class, and will count for “college credit” if she passes the AP exam. It will also permanently affect her transcript when she applies for college, so we decided we better see what’s going on. Our first strategy? having her read her homework responses to us and talking through them…

  • autism,  Education,  family,  IEP,  learning strategies

    The Autism Influence

    It’s sometimes hard for me to separate the autism influence from our lives outside of autism. It always takes some shape or form in my writing. I write about autism on a weekly basis on this blog. Even though my current novel takes place in World War II and has nothing to do with autism, there’s still a character in there who struggles with mental health difficulties and I’m constantly reflecting on our own experiences to help me understand my character’s motivations better. That autism influence is always in the back of my mind. Steve has his own version of the autism influence too, and for him it started with…

  • Education,  family,  high school,  siblings and autism

    All hands on deck

    This week was “all hands on deck” and by Tuesday night we very quickly realized that we were in desperate need of more hands. This was W’s first experience with finals, and to get her through the week took as much mental muster for me as it did when I worked with J (although in very different ways). W, on her own, got up at 6 am every morning to study for the finals scheduled for that particular day and didn’t go to bed until 10 pm each night. She was very stressed out (I think partly because she didn’t know what to expect and partly because “everything from now…

  • autism,  Education,  family,  high school,  IEP,  milestones,  motherhood,  siblings and autism,  teen years

    The four year plan

    W is the second child in our family, so it’s really rare (as a parent) to experience something that I haven’t experienced with J. In grade 3, J’s whole class made gingerbread houses before winter break, so I knew that when W hit grade 3, she’d be doing gingerbread houses too. When J started touring with the elementary school choir at the mall and rest homes, I knew when W got to that age, she’d be doing it too. When J graduated from elementary school in a “classic” coming of age ceremony with a field trip to the zoo, followed by a graduation slideshow with cake and lemonade, I knew…

  • autism,  Education,  helps,  high school,  home strategies,  learning strategies,  math,  sensory processing,  special education,  strategies

    Two Incredible Surprises that Emerged from Finals Week

    Like all things autism, the strategies for finals week were thought out long in advance. Back in December, J’s teachers sent home various forms of “study guides” the last few days before break so we could get a head start on studying for January finals, and we took FULL advantage of that. Over the break, J and I read all the short stories again. I made DOZENS of flash cards for English vocab, Foods vocab. I made picture cards for the short stories and we worked on those every single day of the break. No rest for the wicked, I guess. When J returned after the break, J’s special ed…

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  • autism,  Education,  handwriting,  helps,  high school,  home strategies,  learning strategies,  math,  modifications,  special education,  study skills

    When You’re Not a Hermione Granger Student

    The fact that one of my kids needs accommodations or modifications for homework and tests is still a hard concept for me. I was the Hermione Granger student. I sat in the front of the class. I did all the questions on every assignment. I got uber nervous–sick to my stomach sometimes–over getting tests back because I needed at least a 90% to feel good about myself. Not that I always got an “A” on everything. But if I didn’t, I felt like I had to do some major re-evaluations about my life. And then I have J. J is a kid that needs all of the accommodations and modifications.…

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