Autism Watch: 2007

Archive for November 2009

This last week, we finally decided what to do for BB’s birthday. He had grand plans, but with an impending cross-country move, we’re watching our budget. We also aren’t sure he’ll have enough kids come to make a pizza-parlor/game type of party, so we decided to go back to our standby, a cool bouncer in the front yard with food of his choice and a sundae bar for dessert, along with cake. The theme is Army, and I’ve got all kinds of decoration/game ideas, though with his temperament, I may have to back out of the Nerf gun/marshmallow shooter ideas for fear of someone flipping out with a bullet or marshmallow in the eye.

But, to the point…I sent invitations to the entire class on Wednesday. All 20+ kids, and asked for RSVP. (I know that RSVPs aren’t foolproof, but it’ll at least give us an idea if kids are coming and how much food to buy.)

Chirp. Chirp. That’s the crickets as we wait for the phone to ring.

I know there’s a major holiday in a few days, but if I’d waited to send out invitations after Thanksgiving break, we probably wouldn’t have given them enough time.

I know people are busy, but I still can’t help but worry….what do I do if he has few to no kids? (Okay, wait, I know he’s got one coming at least.)

This is an issue a child shouldn’t have, worrying if he’s going to have birthday party guests to celebrate with.

I have to stop worrying and just keep planning. Camouflage decorations, little Army men all over the yard, and face painting to match the theme. No goodie bags of cheesy toys and candy no one wants, but some homemade cookies in some Army-ish shape I have yet to decide upon. Maybe some game prizes, not sure yet.

How does everyone else handle birthday issues?

Today little dude had what is hopefully his last ‘work’ appointment…you know, where work outside of the normal cleaning and checkup gets done. I had to do this one on my own, since I “HAD THE DAY OFF.” Notice those words in caps –  apparently they mean that today is just a fun day, you know, where you have fun all day long and nothing makes you tired or keeps you busy. But anyway, dh didn’t have the day off and we figured since this wasn’t a root canal, I was good to go handling it on my own. Sounds good in theory, right?

Happily, this is a situation where the theory was in keeping with the reality. Barnacle Boy laid down, let the nitrous do its thing, and cracked us all up, even throughout the novocaine shots around the two teeth that were being filled. He even told the dental assistant she was sort of pretty, then said “I can’t believe I just said that.” His speech went really quick, he was thinking fast and the filter was entirely 100% off. SO cute.

(If you don’t believe in using nitrous on your autistic child, I respect that decision but understand that we chose to use the nitrous for our own reasons, so please respect your decision as well, without the assumption that we aren’t educated or didn’t research. Thank you. And if you don’t care what I do, kudos, and I apologize for the off-topic interruption!)

Once we got home, BB laid around for all of an hour, devoured a big bowl of vanilla ice cream, then literally ran off to make animated cartoons on his computer. He just finished dinner with us, where he ate an entire turkey bratwurst and a handful of tater tots. Now he’s back upstairs animating. A new hobby!

In a few months, when we move, we’ll have to choose a new dentist. Not necessarily looking forward to it, though our current dentist has offered to refer us to dentists in our new area and fwd on records. We’ve learned that when you choose a dentist, ask a lot of questions. Decide what you’re comfortable with and what you can’t live with. Check out not only if they accept your insurance, but try to gauge how willing they are to work with them on your behalf. Add in autism and you have to find out what accommodations they’ll make, how quiet/loud the office is, how trained the staff is to work with us, and even things like wait time. I’m tired just thinking about it..and I have to do this with a pediatrician, a neurologist, a family practitioner and the dentist.


When my son was dx’d initially, online communities saved me. My husband was in serious denial, and I didn’t know anyone offline that had any experience with autism, so I spent hours seeking out help, support, information, anything. I was one of those people who knew nothing about ASDs, as even with all my son’s issues, we assumed that at worst, we were dealing with Sensory Integration Disorder, so we started this with absolutely no clue. I was desperate to find people who knew what we were dealing with and could give us some guidance, and email groups were it.

Since then, there have been numerous times I’d turn to the online communities for help — referrals to providers, opinions on therapies, suggestions on handling situations, or just “I know how you feel.”

But this week? I feel like the time has come for me to step away. I want to stay on top of what’s going on in the community at large, such as research, news, events, etc., but I can do that without being actively involved in email groups. I unsubbed from five groups yesterday, and while I felt just a tinge of sadness, I was overwhelmingly relieved. I felt, and feel, enormously liberated, and I am even more glad I did it today than yesterday.

Lots of things contributed to the decision — not just one event, though it was one email that finally pushed me off the fence. Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of emails that make me shake my head. I can participate by stating something that’s going on and get no response, and someone else two minutes later can say almost the same thing and get nine sympathetic responses. That’s the nature of the online community, as timing is everything and people respond when they’re available, but it’s disheartening when you feel invisible. I’ve seen new members get jumped on for asking basic questions. A lot of people ask about the flu vaccines; some of those people are welcomed while others are borderline attacked or get posts implying they’re simply not educated for even considering the vaccine. Some people want to debate when all you want is information or share your opinion on someone else’s. Basically, any response you make is fair game for attack anymore, and it didn’t use to be this way. I’m not sure what’s going on in the autism community, but the divisiveness that used to be focused on biomedical vs. traditional is growing. We as a community want the freedom to do what we want with our children, as in “How dare they try to make me vaccinate!!” but we turn on each other so quickly. I’ve mentioned it before, so I won’t digress but I wonder what it’ll be like in another six months. Where will parents of newly diagnosed children go then?

Don’t get me wrong — not every group is this way. There are wonderful people in the community who will still take the time to guide, support and give a virtual hug, but there are many people who will tell you you’re wrong, make assumptions about what you’ve said/done, and give you a virtual snub. Be careful what you share online. You can only explain your concerns or situations in so many words in the written form, and it can and will be open to interpretation by anyone that sees it. Responses can be harsh, even if you’re in the worst mood to deal with it. If someone has made a judgment about you, such as “not biomedical, not doing enough,” the responses you get will be tempered by that pre-formed opinion.

It’s like any other group, online or off. I’ve learned I just don’t have the time anymore to engage. I don’t want to read the arguments regarding what group to donate money to, I don’t want to read about how disgusted people are that others in the world dare to believe in a flu shot, and I can’t take one more whine from a previously stay-at-home-mom who just started getting IHSS a few months ago and is home all day alone while her kids are in school yet is peeved that IHSS rates are less. Or how we working moms get “respite” while we’re at work all day, yet it’s our tax contributions that are paying for respite for others. Life is stressful enough, I don’t need to have it added to and when I found myself hitting “delete” more than “read,” I know it’s time.

Don’t let my opinion sway you if you’ve never been in an online community and want to give it a shot. Really, they aren’t all bad. But, be cautious. Consider what you’re looking to get out of responding, and what you can live with. Be prepared for negativity, and don’t give identifiable details. I used to answer just to join in, then I realized how much time I was wasting — I work, I have a job and my time is at a premium, so if I want to join in a conversation, I have other opportunities with people I actually know and trust. That’s the problem with the online world, it’s easy to feel a part of the group and easy to feel you can trust people because ‘it’s just words.’

I’m going to save my words now for my anonymous blogs, for my offline friends, and for personal emails between individuals. It’s truly liberating to realize how much time I’ve saved myself and how I no longer need that kind of communication. And I’m realizing that wisdom does come as you get older! Who knew I’d ever really believe that cliche.

Now I’m signing off to see if I can calm the little guy. He’s getting some serious anxiety over waiting on someone to arrive, and I need to help him work it off or he’s going to be an overstimulated bundle of nerves.

Swine flu. It kicks your butt, and that of your entire family. No more than any other flu, and certainly not worth the vaccine, but nonetheless, it not only kicks your butt but it kicks it to the curb four houses down, into the gutter, through the sewer and out into the ocean 67 miles away. Four weeks later and I am still sporting a mild cough.

So there you have reason number one that I’ve not been blogging. My eyes were spinning at the end of the day, as I still worked during my bout (except for one day where even blinking and breathing was painful), and I was caring for Barnacle Boy, who scared us for a couple of days when the fever continued to hover around 103. Both the girls ended up with it, then the husband. Other son ended up with some cough and congestion last week, but that’s as far as it’s gotten. He’s oh so lucky.

I love Christmas. Why do I say that, you wonder? Because I love it more than Halloween..yet Halloween turns out to be this huge busy deal and before you know it, October’s gone and I’m wondering how to spend Veteran’s day with the kids who are out of school, yet I’m not because I have the Monday before off. Halloween this year consisted of two major parties, a few smaller events, and then the Trick or Treat Fest of the year at our house. We have this ginormous maze constructed in the front yard, from the curb I’d previously been kicked to through the yard, the driveway and out the side of the yard to the other street, complete with roaming monsters of the Freddie Krueger and zombie-type, scary movie music, and screaming … adults. A lot of the kids collected candy at the end of the driveway and backed away hoping Freddie didn’t see them.

Yet, I am <quietly> glad Halloween is over. I’m still tired. We went off-roading the weekend before Halloween and had, let’s just say, a little accident. Wear your seatbelts no matter how slow you are going, even if you are driving over a rut in a driveway. (No, that’s not what happened, I am just making a point. Heed my point, really.) Rollbars make nasty, ugly, sore and painful indentations on your eyeballs, eyelids, cheekbones, foreheads and noses. Trust me on this. Once you get the blood out of your clothes (and the off-road vehicle’s seats), you will not want it there again. I’m still sporting a crescent under the eye and eyeshadow is one of those things I have to really, really consider before I apply.

This past weekend was another huge Halloween party, this time adults only. (Unless you count the 20-somethings…my two oldest kids and their friends…who crashed it around 11:30pm just to see why Mom and Dad looked forward to the party all year.) Good thing my costume came with sunglasses to cover most of the bruise. I was Trinity, and husband was Neo. We were simply awesome.

So, how is Barnacle Boy doing after all this? Well, a few days before Halloween, he had to have an emergency baby root canal. (This was the, hmmm, 4th, I think?) He was not happy. Dh met me at the dentist and said he did great in the procedure. I drove him home, with him being the quietest (and creepiest) I’ve ever seen him while awake. He went to school the next day and recuperated impressively fast. Then the week got more and more chaotic during pumpkin hunting, then carving, cookie decorating and guests. Come Monday night, he was DONE. We got through the evening of clean-up and declared yesterday and today guest-free days. The cell phones were turned down and tv choices were BB’s. I even made a mad rush to Target to get Stratego, the game he had to have after playing it the last night of his two-year program he completed last week. (WAY TO GO, DUDE.) He came home from school, opened it, and declared it THE WRONG STRATEGO. (There really is one Stratego though. I know this because I researched it.) Pieces went flying, mad words were said (by him…not me…I stood there in amazement thinking “Don’t ruin The Wrong Stratego, I can return it!”) and an hour later, he was calmly eating an Oreo as we prepared to leave for his parent-teacher conference, where we proudly learned he’s academically more than a grade ahead but in need of more help for social skills, classroom participation and appropriate conversation. Always something, right?

That’s pretty much a uber-fast version of the last month and I know I’ve left things out, but I guess I need something else to blog about on a slow day in the future, yes? I know it will happen, and the fact I’ve admitted that is step 1 in my Blogger Improvement program. Admitting you have a problem is key. I admit it. My name is Dee and I am not the best blogger lately.

But that will change. With autism, there’s always something to whine about, complain about, or just sigh about. And with an awesome beautiful kid, there’s always things to brag about, be proud of, and happily share. I just need to find the time.

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