• autism,  high school,  learning strategies,  milestones,  modifications,  motherhood,  teen years

    “Here at the end of all things”

    Two weeks ago, J graduated high school. It still feels pretty surreal–amplified by a pretty surreal year and a half. I’m so grateful that you’ve been here with us on this journey as we find ourselves “here at the end of all things.” I can still remember sitting Dr. Hoffman’s office in Overland Park, Kansas thirteen years ago. We were just two months from moving to Fargo. J had already undergone 2 rigorous assessments (one at the Child and Family services clinic at KU in Lawrence Kansas, one at the KU med center in Kansas City), and although we knew and agreed with J’s autism diagnosis from the two prior…

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  • 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,  modifications,  motherhood

    Adulting is hard

    “So what are you up to right now?” I get this question from friends and family a lot. It’s an absolutely fair question, because my “personal life” outside of autism is always different depending on what day, month, or year we’re having this conversation. Almost every decision I make concerning my everyday life is made with J’s autism in mind, which means (depending on how well we’re doing, or how much we’re struggling with autism) my “personal life” will be a direct reflection of that. It’s really hard to have a full time job and be a parent of a child with autism. No matter how old your kid is.…

  • 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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  • 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,  Education,  home strategies,  learning strategies,  middle school,  modifications,  special education,  strategies,  study skills

    Golden moments

    Living with the autism experience is a day to day, moment to moment event. There are moments of really hard, heart crushing experiences. Days where you feel like no one understands your child or your circumstances. And then there are the days where there’s a leap of understanding—your child finally understands something you’ve been working months on, or someone reaches out to your child—those golden moments. When I’m having those crappy days, I try to remember that this experience changes so drastically from day to day, that really, anything is possible. One thing that’s been hard for me to figure out in this whole middle school experience is how to…

  • autism,  home strategies,  learning strategies,  modifications,  social skills

    On books, emotions, and the human condition

    While I was in Canada last week, my aunt and I spent some time pursuing Chapters, a bookstore library chain similar to Barnes and Noble. As a mom of a child with autism, I’m always curious to see what books are out there for autism, like how many shelves in the Parenting section are dedicated to autism. Sometimes I wander through the children’s book section to see how many books are written for “typical” children explaining to them what a child with special needs looks like (there are very rarely any of those types of books out on display). One thing I find really strange, is that we don’t have books for…

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  • cross-country,  handwriting,  home strategies,  math,  modifications,  study skills

    Evolutions and adjustments

    Even though we’ve settled into our school routine, there are always those unexpected “bumps” along the way. Those “bumps” aren’t always bad things. Sometimes they’re just added adjustments to the regular routine to make things smoother. Since J’s been going (and participating!) in his team’s XC meets, we’ve had to figure out how to make up for that school time and study time lost while attending meets. We live in Fargo, North Dakota, and do a lot of traveling to nearby small towns for meets (because there’s just not a lot of people who live in North Dakota outside of Fargo!). J’s had meets in Jamestown (which is about 2 hrs by bus there and…