• 18+,  autism,  empathy,  middle school,  motherhood,  strategies

    How to help

    In early July, just a day or two after we had gotten back to Fargo from a visit with my mom, J and I were at the 4-way stop on the corner of 25th Ave N and 10th Street N when a car suddenly rear-ended us–twice. Then, just as I looked up in the rearview mirror, the silver sedan gunned it in reverse about half a block. I got out of the car (which probably wasn’t the smartest idea) and started motioning and yelling at the driver to pull over so we could exchange information. I knew in my gut she wasn’t coming back, so I memorized the crap out…

  • autism,  COVID life,  cross-country,  high school,  middle school,  teen years

    J won XC

    J ran his last XC race of his life on Friday, and I’m feeling all the feelings. I started this blog a few months before J started his XC career. It’s not a blog about J and XC, but running has become an enormous part of J’s life since he started XC back in 2015, and so there’s a lot of XC in this blog. Over the last hour or so, I’ve been scrolling through all of the XC posts, getting teary-eyed while at the the same time astounded at what has happened in the last six years. I feel like this brief summary doesn’t come even close to the…

  • 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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  • anxiety,  high school,  mental health,  middle school

    Sabre-toothed Tigers

    I’ve debated over and over again how to talk to my kids about school shootings. I’ve had short, infrequent, conversations with my daughter, who at this point, is totally unfazed by them. She tells me that she knows what to do–hide in place, fight back, almost with a defiant composure. She’s pretty confident in her self-preservation skills. I let her keep that confidence, even though, as demonstrated by February 14th’s events, when a school follows these procedures to a T, 17 people still die. Dozens are injured. I don’t tell her the emperor has no clothes. False confidence is better than no faith. And how do we talk to my…

  • autism,  high school,  medication,  middle school,  teen years

    Let’s talk autism and puberty

    This is me in grade 9. In the throws of puberty I didn’t know how awkward I really was and so that probably explains why I was somehow still confident enough to like myself (most of the time). I had no fashion sense. I had glasses, although I only wore them when I absolutely had to because those things definitely made me feel ugly. I didn’t wear makeup. In fact it was the end of grade 10 when my mom suggested to me that I might enjoy a makeover at Merle Norman. Puberty has got to be the most awful, emotionally and physically, confusing time in which everyone on the…

  • autism,  Education,  home strategies,  math,  middle school,  modifications,  strategies,  study skills

    The Virtues of Algebra

    J’s academic strength has always been math. It has been his “language”—the one he has always understood the best ever since he was a toddler.  Math is predictable, math is rote calculation, math is fact families. It’s predictable. 3X4 always equals 12. He has always been phenomenal at it. And then came Algebra in middle school math, and all of a sudden, J was no longer good at math. This type of math requires decisions. You need to look at an equation and decide what like terms need to be combined. You need to be able to look at the equation and figure out how to get x by itself.…

  • autism,  family,  middle school,  motherhood,  siblings and autism,  teen years,  track

    A little track family

    W wasn’t so sure if she wanted to join track this season. She had reasons. I think the biggest reason was the one she didn’t bring up when we all sat down at dinner and talked about it. J and I had gone to the first practice that afternoon, but W had decided to stay home. I told her that everyone had asked me where she was, and told everyone that she was still thinking about coming out. “I don’t know, I’m busy,” she said. “And I really liked XC. Track just isn’t the same.” (This is coming from the girl who has never tried track before). “You can do both,”…

  • autism,  cross-country,  exercise,  family,  middle school,  motherhood,  track

    The 10K Gamble and Learning to Trust J

    The Fargo Marathon is a pretty big deal around here. It’s a Boston Qualifier, and a really appealing one at that (Fargo is a really REALLY flat course and the weather is usually decent). There are races all week long for whatever floats your boat: dog runs, kid runs, the 5K and then marathon day which includes the 10K, half marathon, marathon relay, and marathon. The city gets really into it. The neighbourhoods do too–live bands play music to help rally the runners, people bring out orange slices to you, there are posters everywhere and hundreds of perfect strangers are cheering you on. It’s a really cool experience. This year my…

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  • anxiety,  autism,  helps,  home strategies,  mental health,  middle school,  strategies

    Let’s talk behaviours

    J got sent home for behaviours on Thursday. For those of you keeping track, yes, J has been sent home twice in two weeks for behaviour at school. So let’s talk behaviours–since this is part and parcel with autism. I think the term “behaviours” is such a funny term to use with kids on the spectrum. I remember one time in elementary school J announcing at the dinner table that he had a behaviour at school and he seemed almost confused by it. “Behaviours” in autism speak means any (or a combination) of the following: scratching, kicking, biting, hitting, pushing, shoving, destruction to someone’s property, destruction to oneself, etc–a euphemism for bad…

  • autism,  mental health,  middle school,  track

    Knowing how much to push

    All week, J’s been really sick. I don’t know what it’s like for other kids with autism, but when J gets sick, it never knocks him out. When most of us just want to veg out and watch movies and sleep all day and check out when we get a sore throat, runny nose, and a cough that just won’t stop, J will still wake up at 6 am, still wander around the house looking for things to do, still want to be entertained, all while still feeling miserable. It’s really, really strange. Not even illness can seem to knock down autism and all of its obsessions, habits, and idiosyncrasies. In…