Monthly Archives: July 2013

Another episode of "I Just Don’t Get It"

So, we had a lil incident last week that’s been rollin around in my mind/emotions/psyche for a few days. And part of the reason isn’t just because it was kinda ugly, but also because I really don’t understand.  Really.  I DON’T.

Long story short.  we were at the Y, my kid had to go potty, I took him into the women’s locker room and was there accosted by an older woman who was “mortified” that my son might see her in her post menopausal glory.  Which honestly *I* didn’t wanna see either, but that’s another story.  She did not accept my gentle excuse that my son has autism and couldn’t manage the male locker room–WHERE HE HAS ACTUALLY NEVER BEEN–by himself.  Also, he’s 6.  SIX.  As in JUST OUT OF KINDY.  SIX.  pre-pubescent.  VERY pre-pubescent.

Amidst this brow beating, she mentioned she herself has an autistic son. And would I be ok with his 21 year old self coming in here? to which I replied “*I* don’t have a problem with it”

And here’s the thing.  I really don’t.  Nudity doesn’t bother me like it bothers others.  I helped support myself through college sitting for art classes.  YES–THAT KIND OF ART CLASS. Maybe I’m just a hippie, but all this nonsense about separate bathrooms where children are concerned seems so silly to me.  Yeah–I understand the whole older man/teen girl or boy thing, and I won’t deny that there are some serious pervs out there in the world.  But this was NOT that situation.

As a woman, I wouldn’t care if a boy from the ages of newborn to preteen saw my naked body if I changed at the gym. (which I don’t actually, not because of propriety but because that locker room is a little skanky to be honest.  That, and I’m usually wrestling a 6 year old autistic boy who’s upset about leaving the pool, so I try to get out of there ASAP and do the whole shower and change thing at home)  I’m also a firm believer that our obsessions with sexual segregation is part of our problem as a society.  If boys and girls saw the natural human form, in all shapes and sizes, maybe they wouldn’t grow up with such strong body image problems?  Just a thought.

But here’s another thing.  This outrage seems selfish to me.  Maybe because I was on the receiving end, but I still don’t understand. Why is it more acceptable to some that my son go into a male locker room ALONE rather than together in safety with me in the woman’s locker room?  Why is some woman’s sense of virtue and propriety more important than a child’s safety?  And I’m not just saying my kid.  Any boy.  Or any girl with her dad in the man’s locker room?    You know where my kid gets to go to the bathroom alone?  AT SCHOOL–because I know the school is 90% safer than some locker room in North Hollywood.

And before you shout “you’re just paranoid!”  let me remind you of this story.  A 9 year old boy goes into a men’s restroom in Oceanside while his aunt waits outside.  And he was murdered by a crazy man.  Oceanside aint’ far from here folks.  Pardon me if I’m affected by both the proximity and the horror of that story.

So, my son will be accompanying me to any and all bathrooms–unless his father is with us, natch–until he is old enough to call for help, and/or be embarrassed by being in a woman’s bathroom.  Or until more family bathrooms are available for use.  And if any old bat is worried about the virtue of her sagging tetas, she might end up with an earful from me…

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Categories: Uncategorized | 48 Comments

Epic Summer of Epicness

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pre diagnosis. or post. Who cares? look at those cheeks!

When we were first getting Benji evaluated–way back before Autism was even in my vocabulary ( “but he makes EYE contact!”) I remember telling the speech therapists in my naive way that it was like there was some magic button in Benji that just needed to be pushed.  If we could just push that button, I believed, he would blossom and emerge.

We are four (FOUR?) years removed from that day, and I’ve since learned, as that therapist  so delicately tried to explain to me, that there is no magic button that will undo who my child is.  Nor do I long for that button anymore.  He has autism.  He will not “grow out of it” as some medical professionals (YES, THOSE KIND) suggested, nor will ever stop being autistic.  He might–MIGHT–learn to function in a way that makes people not believe he is autistic, but that really isn’t our goal here.  Sure, he needs to learn to, I don’t know, hold a job of some sort and take care of himself, but even with those skills,  he’ll still be autistic.  And I’m ok with that.   I’ve had four (seriously, I can’t believe it’s only been 4) years to really grow into this role of autism mom/advocate.  I get that his neurology makes him the perfect lil snowflake.  And I celebrate it.  Yes, even when he wakes me up at 6am on a Saturday just to tell me the date and what ever plans we have that day.

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The only kind of box i’m ok with him being in–since he likes to jump our and yell SURPRISE!

There are those that will always see his limitations–that see the label of Autism and think “oh” and put him in a box in their mind.  Some of those people are strangers, so I don’t care what box they put him in, since I put them in boxes all the time too–like “nosy bank teller”.  Some of them, however, are NOT strangers.  And as much as I’d like to shake them like a Polaroid picture, I just try to advocate, and make sure their box doesn’t limit who he can and wants to be.  That’s my job.  Some days I kick ASS, and some days?  meh.  I live in the hopes that those days even each other out.

ANYWHIZZLE, I’ve been noticing a few things this summer.  At team meetings, as we discuss strategies for working on behaviors, we’ve been letting things go, because the things we are talking about are very “typical”.  Now, I’m not talking about his perseveration on asking the same question over and over ad nauseam until I think I am gonna holler, or his rigid  obsession with everything calendar/time lately.  No, I’m talking about how he’ll just give up easily claiming something is just. too. hard, or how he tries to wheedle out of things using his charm, how he refuses to try anything that looks REMOTELY like a vegetable, or the crocodile tears that come from getting caught doing something naughty.

You know, the kind of things most 6-year-olds are doing.

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kick ASS

This summer he is learning to ride a bike for the first time, going to the movies and taking a regular, no accommodations  run-of-the-mill gymnastics class.  And he’s succeeding. Maybe not in the way he is EXPECTED to succeed, but he practices his handstands every day.  EVERY. DAY. And he may sit in the movie theater with noise cancelling headphones on, but he sits through the movie, with very few disruptions.  And he is tearing UP the asphalt with that bike.  Yeah–that kick ass bike RIGHT THERE.

In fact his ABA supervisor the other day said “I’m excited for him.  I mean, he’s doing things boys just DO.”

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Candyland Card Sharp. And don’t even get me started on how he cheats at Uno…

And while I know that that button I so desperately clung to in the early days doesn’t exist, I do know that he has worked hard–HARD–for four years.  We have had–and still HAVE–all sorts of therapies, and teams, and team meetings and strategies, and accommodations that have gotten us to this summer.  No button may have been pushed, but gears have been ground, and levers pulled and latches unlatched and circuits built to get to this epic summer of epicness.

My kid still has autism.  You put him in a crowd of his typical peers, and it isn’t even in question.  A big green pea in a bowl of rice.  But this is the summer of chances.  Maybe it’s the times, or the autism publicity, or the dimply like look of charm he gives everyone, but boxes are being discarded and he’s really being given a chance. And he’s living a summer like any other kid on summer vacay.  well, any kid who keeps close track of the calendar, anyway.  With each activity, he grows a little.  With each chance, he emerges even more.

With each day, the need for that button disintegrates.  We’ve still got plenty of gears and levers and circuits to work on.  That should keep us busy for the next fours years at least. By then he’ll be 10,  (cue hyperventilation) and we’ll have a new set of challenges ahead of us.  But until then, I think we’ll enjoy epic bike rides and frenetic swims and trying 25x a day to do a handstand.  Likes boys (and girls) do.  Right after we write today’s date on the schedule.

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Categories: Autism, parenting | 1 Comment

Camp Typical

Summer vacation is upon us.  And it’s new for us this year.  See, since Ben got mainstreamed, he no longer qualifies for ESY (extended school year or SUMMER SCHOOL).  And everyone around us–therapists and the like nod their head and say, yeah, that’s best.

BEST FOR WHOM?

seriously–what was the point of these again?

As you can imagine,I am getting a little punchy already. I didn’t set up Ben for any day camps because he’d never been to one, and I had never seen how fricken EXPENSIVE they are.  Also, he still has at home therapy 3x a week, meaning we would have had to cancel sessions to make time for camp, and I thought the therapy more important than making God’s eyes and other faith based crafts.

As you can see, I have very little confidence in day camps, having spent an eternity in them as a child.

So I figured, HEY!  I have multiple degrees and an educational credential!  AND, I can craft like a muthafucka (I really need to put that on a t-shirt) I can ROCK summer vacay yo!

Here’s some of the Summer line up that would kick any church day camp’s ASS…

1) Chore time party

This summer, we’ve introduced CHORE TIME!  woohoo!  Making beds!  picking up toys!  brushing teeth!  What kid WOULDN’T want to get nagged all day to get their chores done? Like those little imps at Camp Tom Sawyer, this kid is gonna learn the value of doing the work ASSIGNED to you, so that even spinster Aunts can appreciate it. And with no other kids around, there won’t be some bait and switch like Tom pulled on ol’ Huck.  No Sir.  And pick up that sock!

it’s SO EXHAUSTING to enjoy a lovely garden.

2) Gardening!

Camp always comes with a chance to get back to nature!  Here at Camp Typical not only can you water plants regularly, twice on the really hot days, but you can pick up dog poop as a bonus!  You might even get an opportunity to view some of the local wildlife, like squirrels and crows!  And what summer vacay wouldn’t be complete without a bevy of bug bites and bee stings!  Take THAT  Zoo Camp!

3) Brain Expansion

Just because we’re not in school doesn’t mean our work is done!  Why, we have the Summer Vacation Homework packet to prepare for 1st grade math!  I mean, can you think of anything MORE fun than adding by tens?  I know I’m stacking up dimes in anticipation. And of course the summer reading program as well, with multiple trips to the library where one enforces rules like “calm body!” and “inside voice!”  SO much more fun than some stupid Science Camp!

4) Field Trips

Camp wouldn’t be camp without field trips!  Here at camp typical, we go to many exciting places here in the Los Angeles area.  Sure, we could go to Disney or LACMA or the Science center to see the Space shuttle–but how boring is THAT?  Oh no brave campers!  Get ready for the excitement of hitting the local Ralphs and Target!  Perhaps the garden center to replace the waterlogged plants being so zealously attended to.  We might even brave the parking lot from hell that is known as Trader Joe’s!  Adventure awaits intrepid campers!

5) Water play

What summer would be complete without a splash or two?  While the pool and the new water park/playland sprinkler thing/whatever the hell they call those devil playgrounds are fun for most kids, we’ve got it going ON here at Camp Typical.  Have you seen this hose?  HOURS of fun.  Not to mention a great time to develop independent play while mommy watches from the dry interior of the house.  Who needs sprinklers and slip-n-slides?  Why a hose and a tricycle and a frightened Chihuahua are enough to keep any child busy for hours on end.  And as a bonus, did I mention the wrestling fun of applying sunscreen before he heads outside?

6) Craft time.

Have i mention my crafting skills?  Legendary.  I don’t know why camp counselors are not sitting at my feet to learn from the master. We’ve got googly eyes and pom poms by the zillions.  And glue.  Five different varieties.  And a box of craft sticks waiting for their chance at faux Eiffel tower recreation.  Now just sit there with those items, son, while mommy scours Pinterest for a minute…

As you can see, we here at Camp Typical are ready to create a lifetime of summertime memories.  So that when the first day of school approaches in August, he will be SCREAMING to go back. Try not to be jealous fellow Special needs moms when you put your kids on the bus and enjoy a few quiet moments to yourself today…

*sobs in the corner*

When does school start again?

Categories: Autism, parenting, Sensory issues, Snark | 6 Comments