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I figured it out! Why my shoulder/shoulder-blade/myofascial pain has been so agonizing since I got up yesterday.  I blamed my PCP from my Monday physical.  I think she’s only partly to blame.  Well, not her directly but those terrible examination beds.

I think the real cause was getting kicked and punched all up and down my entire right side from my thigh up to my shoulder from a particular child who really, really, really didn’t want to get out of bed and then didn’t want to get off the couch to continue getting ready to go to school.  I think she hit a Fibro trigger point and some nerves.

It’s only slightly better this morning.  I can function better, since I was able to keep up with the pain management, and getting some coffee into myself this morning = happier Jessica so far.  By the time I got back from, well, all appointments yesterday I was nearing “vicious” and I hope to avoid that today.   My mood certainly didn’t improve by getting stuck in traffic for two HOURS yesterday coming back from another annual appointment that women love during which my mood had lifted somewhat when I saw that their weight scale weighed me seven pounds lighter than my PCP’s scale.

A drive that usually takes 15-20 minutes.  Two hours.  No.  I almost got smushed and shoved off the road by a pair of semi-trucks when trying to merge into the insanity from other insanity because they were at the point where, you know, I had no choice but to merge and they just wouldn’t allow ANYONE to merge.  So I ended up having to take an exit and I got lost in Hartford and ended up over the river in East Hartford but got home far faster than if I had stayed in the traffic anyway.  So thank you, asshole semis.  You saved me even though you almost killed me.  It almost made the earlier 1 hour and 45 minutes worthwhile.  I should really thank my GPS for this one.  You know, since I got lost.

I need to remind myself to stay off of Facebook on the worst of the worst days.  I usually do, but not yesterday.  :-(

Ok, so can I grow flowers if my husband let grass grow in my plant bed and we just rototill? Or do we have to lay down topsoil before planting? I have a fairy garden to put out and it wouldn’t have been a problem two summers ago.  ;-)


Using All The Spoons

Using All The Spoons

I think I’ve said that flare-ups suck donkey balls.  I’m fairly certain that I’ve said it, but if not, I’ll say it now.

Pain flare-ups from Fibro suck donkey balls.  Especially when said flare-ups last more than just a few days or a week.  I’m going on a little over a month.  Feels like it’s getting worse instead of better.  I can understand why some who have Fibro turn to narcotics or to medicinal Mary Jane.

I’ve been in such a bad pain flare-up that I just can’t seem to get out of it, and I’m having trouble now caring about how I handle it.  Not caring about avoiding trigger foods; it’s an effort to ignore the danger foods at picnics and as a guest at someone’s house.  Not caring about how much pain I’m actually in as long as I can rest and not think about much.  Reading helps.  I doze if I watch TV.  The chronic fatigue hits badly during this flare.

I can’t even muster up enough energy to feel discouraged.  My body is tired, my brain is tired, and I’ve been feeling Mom Guilt over not being available for all of the girls’ school things the way I should be.  The way I promised I would be, and I promised wouldn’t change when I went back to work.  I never imagined my weekends would be for recovery and I would dread going out anywhere most times on a weekend, especially on a Friday after work.  I dread going anywhere on a day after work.  I’m off today, though, to attend a PPT and for another appointment.

Since starting work again, my social life has definitely tanked.  I’m just too tired.  Friendships have suffered.  My wallet enjoys the paycheck for sure.  So do our groceries and bills.  But I’m nearly too tired for anything else.  Gracie frequently asks me when my boss is going to fire me.  My youngest, 9, recently informed me that she also hates it when she’s home and I’m not there to greet her off the bus.  The girls are all three of them upset that the “new” routine of 19 MONTHS now means I’m not home as much as they’d like.    They’re upset that I’m in more pain more often, and it seems to them I’m more tired all the time.  I probably am.  So, you know, Mom Guilt.  Especially when I have to send The Husband in my place.  The sad thing? The girls are getting used to it and don’t complain much any more when I’m in so much pain or feeling so sick from the pain that I can’t go with them all.

Weekends are usually used, when possible, to recover from the week.  I try to take it easy and do what needs to be done at a leisurely pace.  Of course that isn’t always possible.  The flare is not going away, and I wonder if my inability to have any sort of recovery time is to blame.

The past two or three weekends were unheard of.  Just on Memorial Day weekend: two birthday parties and a barbeque, one party for each day of the long Memorial Day weekend.  This weekend we had my beautiful niece “Kay” sleep over and she’s just a joy to have around no matter what.  Thinking about her is making me grin while I write this.  Then Sunday after bringing her home, we celebrated three more birthdays and stayed out all day long.  I overdid it both weekend.

I did wake up with a new pain in my right shoulder which could be due to being manipulated and maneuvered by my PCP yesterday at my physical.  I could have slept wrong last night, but in any case it’s there.  Sharp.  Worsens when I walk or move my left arm (what???) or turn my head or try to flip pancakes.  I’m going with “happened during the physical because of how she made me position myself.”  OH!!! I’m so special that she likes to see me for an annual physical every six months now.  ::sigh::  But here’s why I love her: she has clearly done a lot of homework regarding Fibromyalgia.  She wasn’t quite as knowledgeable the last couple of times I saw her.  She was ok with the knowledge but a lot of it had been somewhat outdated.  This time she was on the ball and up-to-date and far more compassionate.  She’s always been compassionate but she was able to connect so many issues I’ve had for years and asked me a lot of questions and said,

“Oh, don’t blame yourself on this.  It’s the Fibromyalgia.  You try.  You work hard.  But you still have the Fibromyalgia and that makes it harder.  I’m not worried about your weight.  Maybe you now pay attention and eat more calories and get more fat… your body is making too much sugar and you don’t get enough calories.  But you eat right, you are active and you work and spend time with your family.”

I do love this doctor.  She’s really good, with a great bedside manner.

I was so anxious about going to that appointment.  I always have anxiety going to my physicals.  When I walked in yesterday it was an increasingly high pain day, and she noticed.  I think everyone noticed.  I think I’ve fooled myself into believing that when I’m having breakthrough pain, pain that my Gabapentin can’t reduce my daily pain to “still hurts but is tolerable and can be ignored,” I can still hide the face that I’m having severe pain.  Pain that, if I weren’t taking the Gabapentin I would be writhing on the floor crying.  Anyway, she noticed and was very gentle and I could see the compassion on her face.  I didn’t see that compassion on my rheumatologist’s face.  I’m still certain that my rheumatologist thought I was drug-seeking.  Luckily my PCP knows me and has since I was 25.

We actually talked about that yesterday: pain management and being fearful of looking like a drug-seeking addict.  She turned to me and said,

“Don’t ever say that.  You need to manage the pain.  Pain is not good for the rest of your health.  If you’re in pain, you can’t be healthy or do anything.  Besides, you went far too long to even ask for help managing your pain. ::scoff::”

And then I remembered how she has tracked my pain, and how when I asked her how to go about diagnosing and getting a rheumatologist, etc, she chastised me for waiting so long to ask for help managing the pain (gently and like a mother).

I know, pain is a bummer of a topic but hey, it’s sort of in my face right now.  It’s not really a bootstrap moment.  But that’s another blog entry.

I know I have a lot to be grateful for.  I’ll even do a gratitude journal, which I haven’t done in a long time.  It’s not about not being grateful.  It’s not about not counting blessings.  It’s about, well, the nature of depression, anxiety, and the pain that came and triggered it.  The pain is just so much to deal with that I think when it gets this bad for so long, my brain breaks a little bit.  My word recall and memory are sucking wind.

Hell, just do a search in my search bar for “fibro fog” and Fibro and you’ll find a mess of stuff about why I feel this way in my brain.  My brain is so foggy right now I don’t think I can go through the whole fact thing again and repeat it in this entry.  It’s already taken me five or six stops and starts and several revisions on this entry.  :-)

I know I’ll shake it off eventually.  For now I think I need to feel this.  I need to go through it and cycle it.  I make great efforts to remain positive as long as possible every day, but I admit that it’s much more difficult when the pain is so high and I lose hair in handfuls from the flare up, sometimes three times in a week.  Maintaining the positivity and the hope for extended periods of time… well… that can feel fake and make the anxiety and depression feel worse.  But then I don’t want to bring anyone else down.  That feels stressful and… I snap.  And I know I’m not as nice as I should be.  I find it harder to censor my brain-to-mouth stuff, and people look at me funny.  Well, half the time it’s probably because it came out with words in the wrong order or I stated the definition of a word instead of the word itself.  But with my nice-filter off… oh, I’m not nice.

I can be vicious.  I don’t like being vicious.  It’s worse if I feel as if someone has personally attacked my character and motives.  It’s much, much worse if I don’t get my morning coffee.

Pain, pain, go away, come again, like, never.


I’ve had this post in my brain and in draft, adding to it and changing it around for well over a month.  Ever since seeing Facebook posts and other online discussions in comments under Autism articles where mothers stated that that they hate their childrens Autism and aren’t ashamed to say it, and not a single one was in a mood to be told that she needed to be accepting because she’s not… that if a cure was found she would grab it with both hands because she feels that Autism takes her son away from her during his worst times.  Oh, and don’t tell any of them how terrible AutismSpeaks is either because they they’re great.  Other moms of course piped in to sympathize, others empathized, one or two using the word tragedy to describe Autism … and here I was extremely uncomfortable and seething a bit inside over the initial statuses and the following conversations.  When I did participate in these conversations, I probably wasn’t always the nicest I could be about it.  I was angry because I was heartbroken for those children.

The words used to describe their children throughout those discussions upset me greatly because those “feelings” of hating Autism were putting it into a box separate from their children.  Without the ASD, they felt they’d have a whole child instead of the supposedly broken one they saw before them when their child displayed difficult or upsetting behaviors or violent behaviors, or behaviors they deemed inappropriate like the all-embarrassing stimming or the ever-frustrating inability to develop at the same rate at their peers and, you know, not know better the way their neurotypical counterparts are assumed to do.

So ok… We’re allowed to feel emotions that don’t quite match what we’re “supposed’ to feel because hey… emotions.  I said this on another Autism blogger’s thread.

“Our emotions don’t always match up exactly with our beliefs, and that’s because they’re emotions. We’ve been having this revolution of owning our emotions and letting people know with a refreshed honesty what our emotions are in a society that stuffs down its emotions and doesn’t know how to be true and that’s been damaging. But those of us who express the conflict inside that doesn’t match up with what we’re “supposed” to feel even while we continue to do what we believe and know is right will be criticized. Those momentary feelings are normal. It’s what we do with them that’s important… and if those feelings become permanent that’s important.” 

I have always believed that from start to finish and I always will.  What I write about next, some I have always felt but some I have evolved to believe.  I used to think of Sweet Girl’s Autism as something she had, as in “it could be apart from her…” You know, in that whole overdone and inaccurate “SHE HAS AUTISM BUT IT DOESN’T… HAVE… HER!!!” kind of way.  I had the cognitive dissonance that let me believe I wasn’t really being hurtful to my daughter and the people she shares a neurology with.  Those words never really matched up with the belief I’ve always held that I never wanted a cure for her.  It’s not a disease or an illness, and I’ve always known that… it’s something she was born with and so why would I want a cure? Why would she?

But if you’ve followed my blog since the beginning or at least the beginning of realizing our journey with ASD, you’ve probably noticed changes in my beliefs about how to relate to Autism and the language I use regarding it, and how I advocate regarding it.  All I can say is Evolution… and a huge part of that is because I have made it a point to follow blogs and Facebook pages galore written by autistic adult advocates.  At the bottom of this entry I’ll share a few of the links to them for you if you’re interested, and I’d love for people to share their own in comments.  I’ll add them to the post.

So anyway, please forgive me and try not to use my words from six years ago (or whenever) against me if they seem to clash with what I’m saying now.  Now is what matters.  I was open to learning then, I’m open to learning now.  I’m not and never will be perfect.

I believe that using the phrases, “I hate autism” and “I wish my child/parent/sibling didn’t have autism”should never be spoken out loud in public, shouldn’t be written down or uttered out loud under any circumstances.

Let me be clear.  I recognize that these are emotional thoughts and we are allowed to have any feelings at all.  We are human.  But emotions are fleeting.  And emotions don’t have to become belief systems.  We choose what we do with those emotions.

I see Autism-hate from parents all the time on “advocate” blogs and articles and on Facebook and it makes me cringe and kills me a little inside every time.  And if it makes ME feel that way as a mom to an autistic daughter, I can only imagine how it makes an autistic individual feel.  I can only imagine how the children of those parents will feel when they catch on that their parents feel that way.

Using those phrases out loud makes them real, gives them substance, and suddenly they’re not fleeting, momentary emotions. They’re out there permanently for eternity and they have weight.  WRITING THEM DOWN for the world to see and then defending those words of hate are there for the child to find without context.  Without compassion.  And then when someone such as a teen or adult Autist calls them on it, telling them how hurtful it is, that parent advocate digs their heels in about their right to feel what they feel and think what they think about their own child’s autism and they become even more invested in the emotion and their right to have it and their insistence that they and their children are suffering and a cure is the only way; that the individual speaking with them must be unusual or have had exceptional supports in place and that THEIR child is SO AUTISTIC (sorry, has autism so badly) that they couldn’t possibly understand.  Then they insist that their child doesn’t have any clue how they feel, and they don’t love their child any less than they would if that child weren’t neurodiverse.  They’re disbelieving EVEN WHEN the Autist they’re speaking with tells them that their own parents felt the same way and tried to hide it and they knew it the entire time as children and it was so hurtful that they felt suicidal.  They’re even told that since they’re communicating well online they must not really be disabled or have ASD nearly as bad as their own child does.

Yes. This happens.

We already have to choose our words very carefully.  When we choose to publicize our experiences and thoughts and emotions, we’re taking a big risk and opening ourselves up to additional criticism.  It doesn’t matter if it’s in a blog entry, an article, a comment on that article, a status or comment on Facebook, or in some parenting community.  We need to be mindful of our audience and the fact that one day our children might read what we’ve written and we need to stop underestimating our children.  Autists are not, after all, Intellectually Disabled.

In real life, when we have a discussion with someone and the other person suddenly says,

“So OMG, Someone did Some Such Thing and I think they have a valid point because insulting reason here.”

“Well that was hurtful and rude”

“No it wasn’t.”

“Yes it was.  I’m telling you it was because you hurt my feelings.”

“No, it wasn’t because I wasn’t trying to hurt your feelings.  I was trying to explain why Someone did Some Such and I think that they have a valid point. “

“Ok, but while you were explaining you said something hurtful, and we’re supposed to be honest with each other.  You hurt my feelings.”

“That’s so stupid.  You should know that I wasn’t trying to hurt your feelings.  I can’t believe you.  I don’t think I can talk to you any more.  You hurt my feelings.”

“What?”

“Insult insult insult”

“Oh yeah? Well, if you just listen I can explain how what you said was hurtful.  It’s because reasons the insulting reason you gave hurt my feelings here.”

“I already told you, I wasn’t trying to hurt your feelings.  You should know better.  Insult insult insult.”

“Whatever, F$#@! you.”

Can anyone in the class tell me how that conversation could have gone better?

And yet it’s a double edged sword because each and every one of us is entitled to have emotions.  We can’t control them.  They’re messy.  They happen.  They happen to all of us.  Many people, including parents of autistic children, believe that Autists are incapable of emotion because they show emotions in a different way than others do.  We don’t realize how hurtful is it to autists when we try to tell them what/when/how is absolutely appropriate to feel and emote.  How hurtful is it when we try to tell them what it looks like to comply but they just can’t… not won’t.

That double edged sword makes it difficult to explain that even though we’re the parents and we try our damnedest to imagine what our autistic children are going through, we can’t when we’re non-autistic.  We need to learn more patience to allow our children to work things through naturally with guidance rather than force… and hopefully the Autism Community will realize that non-autists need the same thing.  Immediacy regarding emotions and changing a way of thinking isn’t possible for most people. I’m the biggest banner waver for Autism, and while I’ve always been an advocate for my daughter even before I knew she has autism, it took me a few years to feel good and completely accepting about it and to not make at least part of it about me.  It didn’t happen right away.

When my daughter has impossible moments, I’m the most understanding I can possibly be and I love her more than I can ever say, that doesn’t mean I’m enjoying it. Do we feel as stress free, happy go lucky, blissful, nonstop advocates for our neurotypical children? Or are we to feel guilty for not loving the entire minutiae of who they are every single instant of the day? Of course not.  Because we love our children, neurodiverse or neurotypical, that doesn’t mean we always like them as people.  ;-)  We don’t always love the behaviors.  This is where understanding comes in, and figuring out if those impossible moments are typical of the age or are part of the neurodiversity.

Is it all right for me to say that there are times I really wish my non-autistic eldest or youngest daughters had little “adjustments” in their personalities or should I beat myself up because people will assume I can’t possibly love who they are? Well… I’m the biggest banner waver for my middle daughter and for autism as anyone. But there are times, just as with my non-autistic children, that are impossibly difficult and I just don’t know how to get through them.  I wish that I did.  I wish that she could help.  I wish that a couple of weeks ago when she was sick it wasn’t as impossible as it was, with her inability to handle puking and oh… the aftermath that we were dealing with and coming back from having to take her to the ER for fluids.

I’m allowed to feel sorrow and helplessness when I’m sitting in the ER watching my daughter get an IV she didn’t want and hates due to the aftermath of an illness that she’s having trouble coping with even though that illness is done… she regressed with eating, drinking, toileting full of fear and anxiety.  She’s 11 and two weeks later she was still relearning how to EAT.  Relearning how to DRINK.  Relearning the signals that tell her when to use the toilet.  Should I be thankful and joyous for that regression?  Of course not.  Doesn’t mean I was hating Autism.  And yet… no, I wasn’t happy for her autism sitting in the ER while she had a butterfly IV in her arm.  I wasn’t happy at the thought of a catheter because she was convinced she not only couldn’t pee but had no pee in spite of the ultrasound.  I was her advocate all the way with a resident at the childrens hospital who just did not get sensory issues or autism and treated her like she had severe intellectual disabilities and wasn’t worth his time.  That aspect of autism kills me.

When she’s sick, and then while she recovers, I’m her punching bag.  I don’t get to recover, and I have to keep on smiling and say, Yay Autism.  Well… We are parents. We take what we get.  This is what we signed on for.  When we chose to get pregnant, follow through with pregnancy, and keep our babies, we signed on for whatever came our way.  No matter what that meant.  We don’t get to say, “I didn’t sign on for this” or “I’m not cut out for this.”  Yes you did and yes you are.  I hate to break it to you but you don’t exactly have a choice in the matter.

We are flawed. We love our children unconditionally and we are our childrens first and best advocates before they self-advocate. The best way we can advocate and teach our children to be self-advocate is to be sincere in loving the WHOLE child… and that includes the Autism in spite of the difficulties.  As difficult as those impossible moments are for us as parents, how difficult must they be for our children?

While Autism Advocacy may dictate our actions even while our children are the midst of the most unloveable and difficult behaviors (which of course are even more difficult for them), we are still allowed to have our own feelings. Most of us don’t share them because even when we have children that are non-autistic (and I do) we’re not ever supposed to complain or be anything other than grateful that we were given the gift of children. We’re not supposed to admit to being weary, or that we’ve got any feelings at all besides love and joy and gratitude over our children and their neurodiversity. Anything less means we couldn’t love them enough or be the best advocates to society.

Well… I recognize that it’s not All Or Nothing. Here’s the secret.  We can control our actions and how we respond to our emotions.  We can also teach ourselves how to redirect our emotions and use them for good.  We’re allowed to have emotions in reaction to the things that occur in our lives but what matters is what we do with them and how we hold on to them. It can be easy to forget but we have many more roles and additional depth in our lives to Autism Advocate Mom. We’re allowed to let those other roles in. When it comes to the emotions dictating the thoughts that Autism should be cured, that Autism is a tragedy, that Autism is impossible… we can CHOOSE to let those emotions remain momentary and not become a belief system.  We can choose to accept all of the positives, and remember that the positives of Autism outweigt every single negative.

No matter our momentary, occasionally negative emotions this does not ever, ever mean that we don’t accept our autistic children.  We (the majority of us parents) accept them 100%. I accept everything about my daughter. I accept the Autism and everything that comes with it.  I’m not always Sunshine Gal and rainbows about it, especially not when I’m dealing with trying to cope with the effects of my own disability.  I know her Autism isn’t about  me, but my emotions are about me and I don’t need someone else to validate my emotions any longer.  And maybe that’s it.  We welcomed this beautiful girl into our lives from the moment we knew she existed in my belly… that meant we welcomed all that would come with her.  That meant acceptance of all of who she is, and still does even when emotions don’t match up to what the most ardent, militant advocates want you to express. And that’s really ok. I promise.  You just really have to remember that words are powerful.  The words you use to describe Autism are powerful.  And you really can’t separate Autism from your child.  They are one and the same.


Tone It Down, Don't Feed the Fear

Please Do Not Feed The Fears

I’ve been meaning to post this one for a while, but you know how life gets in the way of that “publish” button.  So here it is… pushing “publish.”

We’ve come a long way, Baby.  A long, long way.  Supposedly, in 1975 only 1 in 5,000 children had Autism Spectrum Disorder.  By 1985 that number had doubled to 1 in 2,500.  No one noticed.  No one really knew what Autism Spectrum Disorder was quite yet, unless you count Rain Man (1988?) with Dustin Hoffman’s character, who the movie claimed was an autistic savant.  Oh, Rain Man.  That movie is really a bane to ASD since the Rain Man‘s character was based on Kim Peek who had Megasavant Syndrome, Macrochephaly, and FG Syndrome but did NOT have Autism Spectrum Disorder.  The movie tried to put a positive view on ASD and bring attention to the disorder, trying to help dispel the stigma of ASD and that part is good… but it also gave the impression that savantism is typical for autists and it’s just… well… not.  Dustin Hoffman’s portrayal of autism was simply inaccurate, especially when taking into account that the character was based on a real man.  Then when people who know very little about autism except what they think they’ve learned from the movie Rain Man find out that my Sweet Girl is autistic they’re surprised because she’s “not like Rain Man.”  I can’t tell you how much restraint it takes to keep from growling and snarling,

“BUT THE REAL RAIN MAN WASN’T AUTISTIC! GOOGLE KIM PEEK!”

Ahem.  Sorry, I do that sometimes.  I didn’t mean to wander.

When my Sweet Girl was first diagnosed, the Autism Numbers were “1 in 166 children are on the Autism Spectrum.”  That was 2004-ish.  In 2007 the numbers appeared to shrink to 1/150 and people started to feel uneasy.  In 2009 the numbers appeared to shrink again to 1/110 and panic was clearly settling in and vaccine denialism started to become a real epidemic.  Then in 2012 the CDC released new numbers… 1/88 and people lost their fucking minds.  Jenny McCarthy became someone to revere and even though the completely-discredited-by-multiple-actual-real-unaffiliated-with-pharma-scientists-who-also-proved-during-investigations-that-he-hoaxed-results-and-original-faked-study-and-article-in-The-Lancet-was-retracted Andrew Wakefield lost his license as a doctor and is not allowed to practice medicine, he’s still be touted as a reliable source regarding vaccinations and Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The CDC recently put out new numbers that one in 68 children are estimated to be on the Autism Spectrum.  Every time this number changes, people panic.  People want to find the CAUSE, the BLAME, the REASON for this TRAGIC EPIDEMIC!!!!!!!!  Because of course we have to figure this out and PUT A STOP TO IT so that NO ONE ELSE HAS TO SUFFER!!!!  We have to SAVE THE CHILDREN!!!!  WE NEED A CURE!!!!! WE NEED TO FIGHT! AUTISM!

Right? I mean… think about this.

Can you tell me what’s going on that paragraph? What do those words imply? Can you figure out what’s wrong with the language in there that I see every single day from people who are suckered into vaccination denialism and Autism Speaks Rhetoric Disorder?  The fatalistic language.  Can you imagine being a child of a parent that’s using that language? There are many adults that have or had parents that used all of that fatalistic and negative language that make it sound as if Autism is a disease that needs to be stamped out, that Autism is damage and therefore YOU are damaged?  Can you imagine growing up knowing that’s how your parents feel? It’s common language coming from the parental community.  Who is suffering? The autistic children? The autistic adults? Who asked the autists if they were suffering? Oh wait… maybe it’s the parents who are suffering and shouldn’t be because they didn’t ask to be parents of autistic children.  Why does there have to be someone to blame? What’s the tragedy? What needs to be cured when Autism isn’t a disease? Why are we “fighting” Autism? This isn’t a war and we aren’t fighting a thing… we would be fighting PEOPLE.  Autism isn’t separate from our children or teens or adults.  They ARE Autistic.  Autism isn’t a label.  It actually is a state of being, a state of the brain, a state of functioning that can’t be turned off.

All of that language is affirming only to parents who want to continue feeling victimized… but don’t realize that Autism hasn’t victimized them nor has it victimized their children.  Autism Speaks did that to them.

We have to take a hard look at the Autism Speak induced language that is used.  Even their very own informationals are anxiety-inducing. This is THEIR image… I didn’t futz around with this:

COST TO SOCIETY via Autism Speaks

“The Cost Of Autism.”  Every letter in that image is capitalized.  They really want to get their point across in this Autism Speaks informational image that every single autistic individual is a costly endeavor not only for their poor, undeserving-of-being-afflicted-with-an-autistic-child parents, a monetary burden, but they’re costly and a burden to society.  The COST OF AUTISM IS A COST TO SOCIETY!  Cost = Burden.  Hell they even put a dollar value on how much a burden our autistic children are.  It can’t be much more obvious than that.  It’s obvious with every single informational that Autism Speaks puts out.  It’s obvious with what they do with their money and who they allow on their boards and who they allow to make their decisions about what “should” happen to autists.  They are burdens that need to be lifted, and to do that we need to “research” to find out what caused the reason for them being a burden so that we can cure the reason.  Except there isn’t a cure.  It’s not a disease.

I have an image that clearly depicts some facts about Autism Speaks that are disconcerting, and I apologize for the size but any smaller and you won’t be able to read it.

 

Please Do Not Donate To Autism Speaks

Know The Facts About Autism Speaks: Please Don’t Donate

 

Something else started to happen over the past few years since the “OMG! EPIDEMIC” numbers came out.  Backlash from adult autists.  Because you know, Autism not being an ILLNESS or a SICKNESS can’t be an epidemic.  That’s elementary.  Autistic adults have been lifting their voices in different ways (thank you internet!).  Autistic adults are writing books, articles, blogs, starting Facebook pages, doing research, contributing to society in a more public way than before.  Sharing FACTS about what it’s like to be autistic.  What it’s like to have the language that attempts to separate the ASD from the individual when in fact, trying to do that is dehumanizing.  Advice for parents of autistic children.  The best advice I ever heard in how to raise my daughter has been to read blogs and articles and books written by autists.

Do you know that I’ve seen online discussions between parents of autists, and adult autists who have told them straight out that the language they’re using, Autism Speaks induced language, makes them feel dehumanized and minimized and that it offends them and that it hurt them as children when they couldn’t express it, that those parents tell them “That’s not true because my child knows I love him/her.  You are not my child.  You’re wrong about the language.  The language I’m using is correct and I’ll keep using it until my child is able to tell me which language he/she prefers.”  They insist that Autism Speaks is wonderfully supportive and brings positive attention and awareness to Autism.

Except it doesn’t.  The attention it brings is negative, and none of the information is from the autistic viewpoint.  It fosters the initial stressful, anxious, mourning reaction that we parents feel when we hear the diagnosis that our child has ASD and related diagnoses.  Those are instinctive feelings when we feel guilt and worry because we know that not only are we as parents in for a rocky road that we weren’t prepared for as parents, but our children aren’t in for as smooth of a path as we imagined before they were born or conceived.  We mourn the loss of the life we imagined, the perfect life that wasn’t going to be perfect anyway, but instead of adjusting the same way other parents that have children with neurological and/or physical disorders and/or genetic disorders we get stuck in an emotional quagmire because when we look for support groups and resources just like every other disorder out there, we see Autism Speaks in our search results first.  They’re highly rated and hey, TV networks promote them.  Trusted magazines and specialists, doctors, local stores, national stores, national and worldwide companies promote them and donate to them.  They even offer special products during Autism month so that a portion of those sales go specifically to Autism Speaks! As a parent just starting out trying to figure out the new normal, it can take a while to figure out that they’re really not legit.  They’re really a parental support group, promoting the sorry-for-yourself parental support by endorsing the Autism Is A Tragedy That We Need To Cure And Prevent mode of thinking.

They don’t promote acceptance.  Acceptance is what is needed, desperately.  It’s needed for the sake of holding families together and for the sake of the parents’ sanity and for the sake of the autistic individual most of all.  We don’t want any more generations of autists growing up thinking that they’re Less Than.  As Temple Grandin wrote, Different Not Less.  That means EQUAL.  It doesn’t mean that ASD isn’t still a disorder.  Someone that has Down’s Syndrome or Bipolar Disorder or Diabetes I or Dementia or Fibromyalgia or is Deaf is Different Not Less, they are EQUAL, while still maintaining that their diagnoses are very real and shouldn’t be minimized.  Acceptance is key.  And Autism Speaks is not accepting of Autism at all… because the implication of their rhetoric means that the research they’re supposedly doing and funding would be to eradicate Autism.  Detect Autism before babies are born is one goal.  Can you imagine the implications of that?

No one can live in that constant state of anxiety and fear.  I’m not talking about we parents.

I don’t have a great segue into this next bit, so here we go.

What does this new number released from the CDC actually mean? What does 1/68 mean?  This is a great blog that explains it but the main thing I want you to get out of this blog entry at the Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism is “Don’t panic… Tone it down.”    So click on this here:

Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism: Keep Calm and Think Critically: The CDC’s 1 in 68 Autism Numbers.

 

There’s another problem.  The CDC sucks donkey balls not only at obtaining accurate ASD numbers across the country (honestly the sampling referred to in the article is ridiculous) for children, but it’s nearly non-existent for adult autists.  That means that it appears as if with the currents statistics that there’s an increase in ASD rates and that there are far more children with ASD right now in the U.S. than there are adults with ASD.  The reason this is important is that if they did that, they would likely see that the rates of ASD have been stable and are equal between children and adults.

Want to see something really cool? I mean really, really cool.  The UK did exactly that.  When they say 700,000 people ie. 1/100 of the population they mean children and adults.  This is a really Big Deal.

 

How many people in the UK have autism? Click here

Around 700,000 people may have autism, or more than 1 in 100 in the population.

There is no register or exact count kept. Any information about the possible number of people with autism in the community must be based on epidemiological surveys (ie studies of distinct and identifiable populations).

The latest prevalence studies of autism indicate that 1.1% of the population in the UK may have autism. This means that over 695,000 people in the UK may have autism, an estimate derived from the 1.1% prevalence rate applied to the 2011 UK census figures.

The prevalence rate is based on two relatively recent studies, one of children and the other of adults. The prevalence study of children, (Baird G. et al., 2006) looked at a population in the South Thames area. The study of adults was published in two parts, Brugha et al (2009), and The NHS Information Centre, Community and Mental Health Team, Brugha et al (2012). This is the only known prevalence study to have been done of an adult population.

(click on the link in the subject line of the article to see much more from the article)

 

I’m trying to bring all of these thoughts into one cohesive “Ah Ha” for anyone reading this.  I know I’m not reading as being very linear today.  Blame the Fibro Fog.  All right.  Here’s what all of this means to me in my heart:

My Sweet Girl is 9 1/2 years old now.  Since she was diagnosed so many years ago in preschool, she has come a long way in so many areas and I’m so very proud of her.  Early on I became uncomfortable with Autism Speaks and couldn’t put my finger on it.  I prayed on it.  I think  I blogged about it. It was a huge turning point for me because that’s when it stopped being about me and more about her.  I started to ignore Autism Speaks and their language, and I sought out blogs and support groups run by autists where I learned about their dislike of Autism Speaks and certain other groups.  I continued my education about Autism and the related issues that my Sweet Girl has, and let her know that I don’t want her to change.  I want to help her learn to cope and get an education so that she can learn how to get around in a world that wasn’t made with people like her in mind.  We use positive language regarding ASD, and we don’t keep it a secret from her.  She has a great IEP team at school, and she attends the meetings now.  If she chooses not to attend, I bring a list with her concerns and wishes on them and her team takes it all seriously.  They’ve actually made positive changes due to what she wants and it’s helped her.

Since making these wide sweeping changes in how I think, it’s changed how I advocate and treat her.  She’s better able to self-advocate.  She’s proud of her ASD and values it.  This isn’t to say that there aren’t incredibly difficult, downright miserable days. moments, hours, but the positive have been outweighing the negative.  We’ve both matured.  Her sisters are her advocates.  Her CLASSMATES are her advocates and while they know there’s something a little different about her, they don’t really know.  Her teacher told me recently that all of the girls and most of the boys (this is the first year boys are involved, eek!) are very protective of her and they all adore her.  They ALL notice if she’s not participating in social activities so they ALL encourage her and include her in everything.  If her feelings get hurt they all do their best to explain situations to her, and if she hurts someone’s feelings they explain to her why their feelings were hurt.  I’ve never seen that in 5th grade classrooms.  Her teacher has never seen this.  The children in this class are so genuine with her, I’ve seen it and it fills my heart.

The social stuff is still hard.  That’s ok.  The need for perfectionism is hard.  That’s ok.  The intense passion over certain subjects can be difficult.  That’s ok.  The meltdowns, the sensory processing issues, the eating issues, it’s all ok.  We’re working with it.  We’re teaching her and disciplining her, just in a slightly different (not less, but equal) way than other children.  I’m learning different approaches and language that might be useful when disciplining her and even how to approach her during the escalation of a meltdown (not a tantrum) and teaching her how to identify when she’s about to have one.  We’re teaching her that it’s ok to “not speak” or “not make eye contact.”  We’ve taught all of our girls that they have the right to refrain from giving permission to having anyone touch them… whether it’s a kiss on the forehead or a gentle hug or a touch on the cheek… with thanks to sensory processing disorder.  Who knew?  We’ve been able to find alternatives to an immediate hello, an immediate welcome hug or kiss, with a finger wiggle that says ‘Hello.’  Because you know, Autism or not, you still should be polite when it’s possible.  Reminders of manners still occur, but when she’s unable to say hello or be courteous to society standards or family standards I happily stand up for her without apology.  I know that she’ll come back later to say hello on her own terms in her own way.  Because I gave her that permission while still trying to teach her Society’s Way.

Since making these changes in how I think, my own stress about her ASD has reduced dramatically.  Do I still feel anxiety occasionally? Yes.  The biggest difference is that I don’t wish things were different for her or for me or our family.  I ACCEPT her Autism completely, even in the midst of the worst of her meltdowns.  As hard as those meltdowns are for me to get through with her; as scary as the meltdowns can be for her sisters; as disconcerting a they can be if they occur in public with people staring; I know that the meltdowns and the challenges and the difficulties are hardest for her to get through.  Sweet Girl is the one experiencing the sensory explosions, the emotional upsets, the takeover of her brain and body.  I see the panic that occurs when she realizes she can’t control it but wants to… and that’s the moment she accepts my help.  I let her experience what she needs to experience before that.  I let the fire burn what needs to burn before I enter that building.  I pick my moment.  I speak low, gently, and offer sensory input of her choice.  I offer a different location that’s quiet and unoccupied and safe.  I let her stim to her heart’s desire in her safe place if she needs it.  This isn’t easy.  I’m not always patient.  I’m not always good at this.  What gets me through enough to help is knowing that she’s not doing it on purpose, she’s not enjoying it, and those moments are the rare cost of the rest of her amazingness.  I don’t use the word amazing very often.  I don’t want it to lose meaning.

Since my own anxiety has reduced, so has hers.  She’s been more independent and is more willing to try doing new things.  I speak to her with respect and assume that she understands what I’m saying until she makes it clear that she doesn’t.  I ask her if she understands or needs me to “say it a different way.”  I respect her boundaries, although sometimes I forget.  She has a lot of rules, you know.  ;-)  She knows I try.  Instead of smothering her with hugs and kisses when I feel the urge, I tell her that I want to hug her and kiss her but won’t because I’m respecting her… and she smiles.  Sometimes she’ll tilt her head toward me so I can kiss the top of her hair where she won’t feel the kiss.  Sometimes she offers a spontaneous hug.  Sometimes… rarely… if I say to her, “I love you, sweet girl,” she says, “I love you” back.

Sometimes she can go from being Miss Grumpyface who’s ready to move out and find a new family after a meltdown to sitting with me for a snuggle and asking me to help her create a recipe for a new idea she has.

Positivity.  Positive advocacy.  Allowing her to self-advocate.  Being the parent she needs and wants.  ACCEPTING and loving who she is.  There’s no mourning over Autism in this house.

 

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

There are several places I love to visit for support:

The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism
Diary of a Mom
Autism Women’s Network
ThAutcast

I know I’m missing some, but those will get you started.


It’s no secret that this is not a household that supports or will support Autism Speaks, monetarily nor in action.  I won’t get into why here but will save that for another post.  One of the “things” that belongs to Autism Speaks is Lighting It Up Blue.  Before I knew or checked out that it originated with Autism Speaks, we happily did it and encouraged it.  I even turned my Facebook images blue for not just a day but all of April.

I was bound and determined that I wouldn’t wear blue in order to Light It Up Blue today, which is of course World Autism Awareness and Acceptance Day.  Swore up and down it wasn’t going to happen.  I’ve been discussing it and explaining why on my Facebook.

Then last night happened.  My youngest daughter said,

“MOM! MOM! I heard you say tomorrow is World Autism Day! The school is doing this thing!”

Then my middle daughter, my sweet autist, immediately followed up by gushing with,

“Mommy you have to wear blue tomorrow! Everyone is wearing blue for ME!”

“Yes they are, honey.  Yes, they are.”

The two of them together were quite a pair, talking about how the school made announcements and the teachers were talking to their classrooms about Autism Spectrum Disorders and what a special day April 2nd is, and how special all of April is for people touched by Autism Disorders and autistic individuals.  As a WHOLE! SCHOOL! they were going to SHOW! SUPPORT! with the WHOLE! REST! OF! THE! WORLD! and it’s just really the biggest spirit day ever for my daughters.  After all, my daughter believes that this whole worldwide day and month is set aside just for her… and the school dressed all in blue today just for her.

When she asked me to wear blue to show my support for her special autism, how could I say no? How could I bum them out with the rhetoric of “why we don’t support Autism Speaks and their stuff?”  How could I say no when my girl thinks that blue was chosen specially because it’s her favorite color?

It’s simple.  I didn’t.  I wore blue after all.


Source: https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&docid=NuIqSZjxBauA8M&tbnid=S6HgtM3YkTX2-M:&ved=0CAQQjhw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fhittingthewall.paulglover.net%2F20130509-fibromyalgia-awarness-day-2013-show-someone-in-pain-you-love-them%2F&ei=QSgwU-n5OcK0yAGF8oGwCA&bvm=bv.62922401,d.b2I&psig=AFQjCNEOFLYng877JZKQ1bt8jREYuBaWug&ust=1395751334502767

Fibromyalgia Awareness: Pain Flare Up

I’ve been working my way through what feels like an endless flare and as each day goes by, it seems harder and harder to get through.  Of course I still get up each day and as each individual day goes by, the day is harder to get through.  It’s par for the course, really, but this has been a really long flare that’s been going on for well over a month.  I’ve had mini-flares within the flare.  Weekends let me know just how badly I’m really taking care of myself during the week by slamming me with the CFS.  I wish I could give in to it, but 3/4 of the time I really can’t.  When I do, it’s sweet heaven and drifting into sleep, pained as it is, gives me the only relief I can get sometimes.  I’m still on a half dose of my Fibro med and have about seven days left on it before I can titrate up.

But now? During this past week specifically? The CFS is starting to kick in during the week.  I’m having worse trouble in the mornings not just getting up out of bed (that’s always a given) but waking and shaking off the grogginess.  I’m afraid it won’t be long before I can’t hear the blaring alarm that’s next to my head nor feel the vibrating phone alarm under my pillow.  I’m feeling the CFS at work now.  I’ve been successful in shaking it off at work, but I’m worrying about reaching a point where I can’t shake it off so that I might not be able to drive home. I already keep my cane close by and use it frequently.  During my flares I use it nearly constantly.  My balance is much worse; I can fall over out of nowhere for no reason; my sciatica gives me bursts of searing pain and completely goes out on me; I get other back pain and myofascial pain and other random pain that requires the support of the cane so that it helps ease things.

I was out at the store a week or so ago to run an errand and a lady came up to me to tell me that she used to use the same cane.  It’s purple with colorful flowers all over it.  I thought she was coming over to be nice.  Then she said,

“I was at a therapy session one day and my physical therapist saw my cane and asked me why I used it.  I told him why and his response to me was to throw it away and just stop using it.  And do you know he was right? It was the best thing I ever did.  You should do the same thing! It will be the best thing you ever do! You’re too young to use a cane!”

The smile that I’d had on my face must have faded instantly and I must have had daggers suddenly shooting out of my eyes, because the smile she had been showering me with faltered.

“That’s so nice for you.  I don’t suppose you have Fibromyalgia like I do.  I wish I could just throw away my cane.  I’ve done physical therapy but it not only didn’t work, it made my chronic pain disorder worse.  The cane helps me relieve some of the pain, but without the cane I wouldn’t be able to rely on my balance and I would fall more often.” 

Then I saw a light bulb.  I had been afraid I would see a slack jaw.

“Ah, I have a friend that has Fibromyalgia.  My mom, God bless her, had it too.  I understand.  Bless you.”

Then her smile returned and I felt at ease again enough to return her smile.  As I continued shopping I started to feel a different kind of unease and my frustration returned because I kept turning that incident over and over in my mind.  As I’ve gone over the past week (or more) I’ve continued to think about it.  I’ve been trying to figure out why it continues to nag at me.  It’s more than the immediately apparent unsolicited advice.  It’s more than the rampant incorrect assumptions being dumped all over me in that exchange that lasted all of 3-5 minutes.  It’s more than how quickly a seemingly positive random interaction soured.

Then throughout the past week or so, I found that I was paying more attention to how people respond when they realize I’m using a cane or I’m in visible pain.  When they can “see” my invisible disability by proof of the cane they’re very polite and smile and will give way.  People sometimes will offer to give me their place in line if they see I have fewer items in my cart/basket.  People are even more compassionate if I have my girls with me and they’re on their best behavior with me.  If I’m feeling tired and I’m sure it’s on my face, again, people are even more compassionate.  If I’m moving slowly, carefully, and purposefully, people are kinder and gentle.

But only if I’m smiling.  Only if I don’t let the pain visibly show too much in my face and posture.  Only if I can manage to control vocalizing unexpected bursts of severe pain that take my breath away.  Because if I’m not smiling… if I look like I’m ready to cry… if people can see just how much pain I’m in and maybe even hear it then the discomfort is palpable.

As it turns out, my pain and discomfort and feelings of sickness due to the pain aren’t really about me.  Of course not, why would my disability be about me? The things I go through are about everyone else.  I’ve always known this on some level, but I didn’t realize until recently just how much.

I can’t just deal with my pain and try to get through it.  I have to help others through my pain as I’m trying to cope with it myself.  I have to reassure them and explain it to them.  Until I thought about it, and thought about specific recent incidents in a new way, I didn’t realize just how much effort it takes to put up the appearance that my pain isn’t nearly as bad as it is even when it’s so bad that I can’t hide it and it breaks through and takes my breath away and I shriek.   I realized that I could not only see the discomfort others feel over my pain but that I was actively pushing against it trying to care-take others’ feelings and worries about my obvious pain… even strangers.

I reassure people that I am, in fact, all right (fine, even) and “this is normal for me.”  Because somehow, if “it’s normal for me” then I must be used to it and I must have a high pain tolerance.  I do have a high pain tolerance, but come on.  Pain is pain.  Severe pain is severe pain.

People will ask with fear, “Are you all right?” and I can tell that they’re hoping I’m going to minimize the situation, brush it off for them.  It’s rare that I tell the truth about how bad it is.  It’s par for the course.  It’s my normal, yes, and I have to get used it.  I have to endure it. Even when my baseline pain increases, I just have to get used to it.

I have to say I’m fine because it’s expected.  No one wants to hear the details of pain or what Fibromyalgia is like or what it means for my life and my family.  No one wants to know what struggle it is for you to even be standing up right in that moment.  You suddenly feel like you’re that elderly relative that’s asked how they’re doing and they give you the laundry list of every single ache, pain, illness, bowel movement, skin tag removal, kidney stone, colonoscopy, and family gossip because you see That Look come over the other person that lets you know they just don’t want to hear it.

Except I’m not really all right. I just can’t let anyone know how “not all right” I am because pain like this? Nonstop, constant, chronic pain that has severe flare ups? It’s taboo.  I’m not really supposed to say, “No, I’m not all right.”  If I say that then that implies, apparently, that I have expectations of other people to actually physically or verbally or emotionally help me and I shouldn’t impose that on people when it’s not their business and they don’t know what to do.

Maybe that’s what’s most uncomfortable for other people.  It’s uncomfortable because they don’t know how to make it better (they don’t have to make it better), they don’t know what to say or do, they don’t know what’s appropriate because there’s no rule book.  If someone else’s pain can’t be easily soothed because it’s more than surface pain (or what I call Less-Than-Labor-Pain Pain or for men to relate, Less-Than-Kidney-Stones-Stuck-In-Your-Urethra-Pain Pain that never, ever stops) this “look” comes over someone’s face.  This look that says my pain is not only uncomfortable emotionally for them but it’s an inconvenience.  I’ve put them into a position where they have no choice but to think about and deal with something that they haven’t ever had to think about before.  I’ve put them into a position where they can’t actually help.  I’ve put them into a position where they have to witness someone else’s pain and discomfort and yes, agony, and they don’t know the right thing to do.

 

What’s right is:

  • Please, try not to make someone else’s disability be about you
  • Please remember that those of us who have chronic pain are not lazy or making it up
  • Please don’t judge us as drug seekers… we are trying to relieve pain that causes many people to commit suicide; and if we are on pain relieving medications, don’t assume that we’re addicts.  If the medications work in some manner then they’re doing their job
  • Please remember that we are not intentionally inconveniencing you no matter how frustrated and annoyed you may feel over our pain
  • Please understand that we are not choosing this and if we had the choice we would make it stop forever and ever, Amen
  • Please know that without a doubt, we have tried every natural non-narcotic remedy that we can think of because we are desperately afraid of the mere whiff of appearing to be a drug seeking narcotics addict even if the pain relief medication/s we take are not narcotics nor addictive
  • Please remember that as uncomfortable as you are about someone else’s chronic severe pain, that other person is far more uncomfortable than you are 24/7
  • Please treat people with respect… not just people that have disabilities, but all people and that way when you see someone that has a disability you don’t have to wonder how you’re supposed to treat them
  • Please don’t apologize
  • Please don’t assume that you’re required to help unless we ask you, but we always appreciate heartfelt offers of help
  • Please be compassionate

 

Do I sound bitter? My apologies.  This flare up over the past nearly-two full months is having an effect on me that’s not pretty.  I’ve had ever-increasingly worse CFS due to the pain.  I think I said that already.  Fibro Fog is sort of chucking me on the chin here.  It’s easy to tire because the pain comes on so badly that all my body wants to do is attempt to sleep in order to escape.  Soon I’ll be allowed to titrate up from the lowest dose of the medication I’m on, which should help, so I pray that my insurance won’t take the stance that I’m a drug-seeking addict even though my prescription isn’t for a narcotic.  You know, because they’re idiots.

After all, I have laundry to do.


Photo from GabeZimmer.com

Tongue Tied

My eldest is watching some show about a boy band, and there was a song with a catchy tune.  Gracie was half-listening while watching her little sister play a video game.  All of a sudden she comes into the living room paying more attention to the song with a horrified look on her face.

“It would not be good to be tongue tied!”

“What are you talking about, honey?”

“Having your tongue tied would hurt! It would be BAD!”

I realized that she had a mental image of someone’s tongue being tied in knots or something similar.  Maybe it was tied like a bow on a shoe.  Still, I had trouble hiding the slight smile on my face because she had misinterpreted the phrase but mainly because I was imagining what I knew she was imagining.  Then suddenly we were both giggling.  After a few minutes she was puttering in the kitchen making a snack and I could hear her giggling.

When she came back into the living room I explained what being tongue tied meant according to the song.

“So honey, when someone says they’re ‘tongue tied’ it’s a saying.”

“Oh no.”

“Yes.  It means that they’re having trouble saying what they really want to say.  Like in the song the boy wanted to tell the girl that he really likes her a lot and maybe loves her but she makes him nervous so when the words come out of this mouth they come out jumbled and garbled.  Tongue tied.”

::eye roll::

When I showed her the photo I’m using for this entry she smirked.

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