• 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…

  • autism,  family,  mental health

    #mood

    Give me a bag of donuts like the one little W is holding and I might make it a few more weeks in this weather. I’ve been trying really hard–really really hard–not to complain about these last few weeks of winter. One of my pet peeves is when people complain about cold weather. Maybe it’s the Canadian in me but I find it slightly offensive when people say, “I hate winter. I could never live in a cold place.” One of my biggest pet peeves is when we’re visiting friends or family outside of North Dakota and people find out we’re from Fargo and the first thing they say is,…

  • 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…

  • anxiety,  autism,  medication

    The J and Rudy Connection

    I don’t know what it is about our family, but when it comes to kids and dogs, the dogs we choose end up a lot like the kids in our house. Actually just one kid in our house. This week I found myself yelling from the top of the stairs, “You need to stop obsessing!” and no, this time it wasn’t at J, but to the dog, and when J heard it, his face lit up immediately. “Hey,” J said, with a big grin on his face. “Like me!–We’re twins!” Rudy, like Fred before him, and like his human brother now, suffers from anxiety. I knew it from the moment…

  • autism,  high school,  teen years

    An Unexpected Week

    I look back at last week and feel like I’ve had 3 different weeks packed into one. It started last Monday morning with a 2 hour late start for the kids. I should have expected it– J had a really rough Monday. It was the 28th of January and he had kept track that there still hadn’t been a fire drill yet for the month (I think the two hour late start and change of schedule triggered an extra fight/flight response in him). I picked up J a little early from school Monday (because he was absolutely non-functional in the state he was in) and took him to visual that…

  • anxiety,  autism,  high school,  learning strategies

    Temple Grandin Still Hates Algebra

    Temple Grandin absolutely hates Algebra. I knew that already–she had mentioned it during her 2013 lecture here in Fargo–and six years later, in Crookston, Minnesota, she said it again. Multiple times. In a college gymnasium–GYMNASIUM–full of people. Overhead lights off. Stage spotlight on. People restless trying to find a comfortable position in the wooden bleachers. A service dog on the basketball court pacing around the floor. The exit doors wide open with people still trickling in and out throughout the lecture. I was astounded. This couldn’t have been a worse venue for sensory overload for an individual with autism. It was a venue in stark contrast to the ones I…

  • autism,  family,  motherhood,  siblings and autism

    The Right One

    This post was supposed to be about Monday night’s trip up to Crookston, Minnesota to watch Temple Grandin speak but that will have to be next week’s post because something else has hijacked our week. We brought a dog home. Everyone in this family has been wanting a dog ever since we had to put Fred down (you can read about that here). Everyone, that is, except for Steve. For a year and a half, the kids and I have been begging Steve for a new dog. Finally, in December, Steve agreed to one and we surprised the kids with this card on Christmas letting them know we could start…

  • 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,  sensory processing

    Rattle and Hum

    Thursday we got a new fridge. A beautiful, stainless steel, French door fridge. You know–the type of fridge that probably everyone else has owned since the early 2000’s. We’re now one step closer to having all of the kitchen appliances match. Even better–we are now proud owners of a monolith masterpiece-meets-organizational-miracle machine. At least I felt that way two hours after the Home Depot team installed it. We were elated that the installers were able to move our old fridge down our two narrow staircases and into the basement. Is the second fridge absolutely necessary? No. But can we have two fridges? Yes. Because this is America and why not.…