Archive for the ‘sisters’ Category


I’m a non-autistic mom who is blessed to parent an autistic daughter along with her two sisters. She’s an amazing, incredible young lady who is one of the three brightest lights in my life. This Sweet Girl finds being autistic to be a wonderful thing, something that she needs, something she doesn’t ever want anyone to take away from her. She says it makes things hard for her but she still needs it or she wouldn’t be who she is. She finds it shocking and appalling, and it hurts her deeply that even if Autism can make life difficult enough to cause some disabilities, that anyone would think up the idea, let alone that it’s a good idea, to cure anyone of Autism. She finds the notion of vaccines causing or having a correlation to Autism as ridiculous and silly. She can’t find words to explain how odd it is that she should have to defend her existence, or that anyone would insist on separating her from one of the very things that makes her the Sweet Girl that she is.

“Without Autism, I would not exist.” ~Sweet Girl

And so, with that reminder, I’ll just add my caveat now, before April: we shall NOT light up anything blue. We do NOT support puzzle piece comparisons. There are autistic self-advocates and bloggers who explain why far, far better than I can because it’s not my life on the line… it’s theirs. I value their opinions highly, especially those women who I’m so grateful to have found to show me what my daughter’s adult voice might appear like. Through their suggestions and sharing of experiences, it’s helping to make our journey through her childhood and my parenting go more smoothly. I enjoy the insights as much as I appreciate them.

Women like Amy Sequenza are your child. So I’m going to share two of her blog entries.

Why Autism Speaks Hurts Us – Amy Sequenza

Is Autism Speaks a Hate Group? – Amy Sequenza

Plus a bonus one from a different blog.

This is the last time I’m going to say this – The Autistic Beekeeper

And I’d like to suggest looking up #BoycottAutismSpeaks. You won’t regret it. Oh yes, and this handy dandy info-graphic. Share it. Download it. Memorize it. If you’re a parent to an autistic individual, pay special attention to the organizations that help autistic people. Include the Autism Women’s Network in there too. They’re pretty fabulous.

 

You may say, “But my child is autistic and we went to Autism Speaks, and they were really good!” or “But I know someone who speaks very highly of them because of their experience!” My response to that is, “Great. Good for you, I’m truly happy for you.” The issue I have is that any money you donated went towards research to remove the uniqueness from your child that makes him or her who she is. And if nothing else, even a stopped clock is right twice a day. I mean, last year even Autism Speaks came out and said, “Hey y’all, get your kids their measles vaccines.”

And on the Today Show yesterday, their founder, the father of an autistic son, floundered over how amazing his organization is for parents. Parents, not the autistic individuals. The support is there for parents who are stuck in the loop of believing Autism is a tragedy that happened to them through their child, or that God is punishing them. Parents who believe their child is damaged, sick, and imperfect. Not whole. Hiding behind the Autism. The Autism took them away. Broke them. And you know what? Matt Lauer sucked it all up with a dewy eyed spoon. He may have been a little drunk.

Parents… I remember that initial shock and the feeling of wondering what to do next. I remember wondering what *I* was going to do. It took me too long of wondering “why me and my child, why my family” before I was hit with the bitch stick. It’s really not about me, it’s about this spirited young lady I’m privileged to parent. The only “me” part about this was what was I going to do for my child and how to teach her to self-advocate. How would I teach her to become an adult that could navigate an amazing world.

Your child needs you. Show your child how amazing the world is and you’d better remember that the world is still amazing. The world is only as small as you allow it to be. The world is only as tragic as you allow Autism Speaks to let you think it is.

Stop the silencing of Autism Speaks and listen to the autistic self-advocates.

#AutismSpeaksSilencesAutisticVoices

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I’m going to start right out of the gate admitting that I realize there are probably hundreds of blogs addressing displeasure, calamities, and reasons for and against DST.

I’m not those blogs.:-)

I know it’s a struggle for households that don’t have children, and households that don’t have children or adults with any sort of disabilities or neuro-diversities.

We’re not those households.:-)

I could talk about the fact that during the week after Daylight Savings Time kicks back in and we’re forced to move our clocks ahead an hour on that predetermined agreed upon day, are the most car accidents and fatalities. People are late to work that entire week. It takes a week or two for most people to get their sleep cycles adjusted because it may seem like a simple one hour change, but we’re actually shifting our entire day to accommodate this change. We’re losing more than an hour of sleep.

I could do more than mention them and go into lots of detail, but I won’t. I’m too tired.

In a household where there’s someone with physical disabilities (me) and someone with neurological diversity (two teens) there’s far more involved. As small children and through elementary school we would try to prepare by adjusting bedtimes two weeks prior to DST. We’d try to adjust meals as well. Slowly, but surely we’d try to adjust the routine and schedule.

It didn’t matter. We end up dealing with a minimum of two weeks of tragic drama, and with Sweet Girl it’s gone as long as six weeks. With Dear Girl she usually adjusts within the two weeks, but it’s a tough two weeks. Youngest, Darling Girl goes with the punches.

This year, it’s only been five days in and I’m wrecked. My five hour work day should feel like it’s over earlier in the day, but it feels longer, and so I hit my wall earlier than usual. I’m up earlier than usual this week, that’s what my body is saying. I get home and if I don’t prepare supper early to heat up later, I know I won’t be able to from the pain or chronic fatigue. Already this week I’ve had days where I had to go straight upstairs to have a good lay-down.

Sweet Girl’s already-difficult time due to needing a break from school (our town skipped February vacation and they have to wait for April this year) has just been exacerbated. Mornings are already difficult, so ultra-creative motivations and soothings are in order. I just feel terrible because some days I have to simply get Completely Parental and use my I’m Serious Because I’m Your Mom Voice.😦  Prior to coffee sometimes. Sometimes I’m so tired and grumpy right along with her that I actually forget to make my coffee.

Dear Girl informed me on Monday or Tuesday that I need to get to The Guy Responsible For DST prior to having my early-morning coffee while still in my prior-to-early-morning-coffee-mood and Have A Talk with him. I wouldn’t be making any friends. But he WOULD stop fucking around with time changes.

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My youngest has taken to making declarations around the house. This past weekend she made a decision for the entire family, completely seriously:

Darling Girl: “We’re being British now.”

Mom: “Oh, okay. Thanks for letting me know. I guess we’d better tell your sisters.”

Mom again: “Hey! Sweet Girl! We’re British now!”

Sweet Girl: “Mm hmm. Yes.” ::nods::

So that happened. I still have to inform The Mister and the other sister.

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Have you heard of The Mighty? It’s difficult to avoid the site. People share so-called feel-good stories from The Mighty on any social media they can find. A dog rescues a firefighter from a frozen lake. A kitten does CPR on a grandmother that’s taking care of her daughter’s newborn son.

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Typically the stories have a common template or two.

  • Someone is victimized and someone is rescued
  • Someone is disabled and needs to be saved from their disability
  • Someone is disabled and oh look! The school got together for a photo op to show off how enlightened they are for being kind to the disabled person at a football game!
  • Some is victimized as the disabled person’s parent, because life pulled a fast one and sucker punched them by thrusting a disabled child upon them but someone else comes along to brighten the parent’s day
  • Someone is living in poverty but someone takes a video of someone else giving a few people a free hot lunch at Panera Bread
  • Someone is living in poverty and is interviewed, having to prove they didn’t cause their own downfall so that others feel sorry for them and will want to donate money and clothes and even offer a job… and then the person that offers the job is the savior
  • Someone secretly videos homeless people to see how they’ll behave if they find money on the ground and see meters run out on cars at the same time

 

After a very little while you notice the pattern, and you realize that you can’t excuse the ableism and self-indulgence, the finger-wagging at those who did wrong and the praise of those who did right.

You notice that the victims are parents of individuals that are disabled usually use wheelchairs or are Autistic or have Downs Syndrome. One problem is that they’re not really the focus of the articles. They’re the prop, and they’re what the hero and heroine need to overcome or rescue. These stories perpetuate the ableism and stigma of disabilities.

Disabled individuals (or the disabilities they deal with) are perceived as challenges for others to overcome; as tragedies that occurred to the parents. That’s dangerous thinking that dehumanizes the individuals who really need the attention and help … or who don’t want any attention at all and want to live their lives without judgmental intervention… and most certainly without sharing their most intimate and personal issues and photos without permission. The voice is given to the parent, the caregiver, not the child, and so when there are biological parents who choose to abuse or end the lives of their disabled children, they feel justified and people will defend them because hey… look at just how much suffering the parent had to go through.

On the other hand, if disabled individuals are seen as something that needs to be rescued, these stories tend to infantilize disabled individuals. They can’t care for themselves or speak for themselves, much less advocate for themselves, much less be seen as human.

These stereotypes and ableism perpetuate the notion that disabilities are something to grieve over, and something we must prevent at all costs, cure at all costs, fix, and feel badly about. For the sake of the parents, and for the sake of the little babies.

Worst of all, it causes people to believe that disabilities decrease the value of a life without the intervention of the kindness of strangers.

Either way, the pattern is that disabilities have victimized parents and caregivers and the people who  have disabilities are often not really viewed as being people, but props in these stories.

This pattern has the Autism self-advocacy community and others in the Disability Community in a rightfully angry discussion about an article that has now been pulled by The Mighty. I know, I took the long way round again to get to the crux, sorry.

A supposedly autistic mother to an autistic child posted an article that included a “meltdown bingo” card that was intended to be humorous and supportive to other parents of autistic children. I was embarrassed and bordering on irate when I saw it pop up in my feed from following The Mighty on Facebook (The Mighty was a recommendation to follow a long time ago, I mindlessly clicked it). I clenched my jaw and kept from commenting on the article because I couldn’t keep my fingers from typing something less than polite, less than commiserative. I closed out of it and then I relaxed because thankfully I don’t have any friends on any media would share that tripe and I knew it wouldn’t show up in my feed again.

Except it did show up in my feed again… it started showing up in Facebook and on Twitter and on several of the blogs I follow. The subject of it did, anyway, because the original article was pulled and The Mighty is trying to apologize for it and “recognizes that it was ableist” when they never intend to post anything ableist. Except… well. There’s a firestorm bursting through all of my social media justifying that initial feeling and helping, allowing me to put to words what has felt wrong with The Mighty. That specific article from the autistic mother with the autistic child and the autism meltdown bingo card tipped the internet’s kitten right over.

I’m relieved that the article was pulled (don’t worry, I’m sure it was screen capped or cached somewhere for posterity), but only after there was a lot of backlash for it. This post here from Lemon Peel is one I love hard and has some great links.  CAN U NOT: A Twitter Ode From Me To The Mighty | Lemon Peel

We parents? We make mistakes. Sometimes we make them publicly. Sometimes we make spectacular mistakes, embarrassingly horrifically ghastly mistakes. The challenge we face is to apologize from the heart, to learn from them, to try to repair the damage we’ve done when possible, and not to repeat the mistakes. Sometimes we have to accept that reparation isn’t possible, but we still have to try. Then we have to move on and once we know better, we do better.

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In my world, words matter, so take a gander.

Holiday:

Old English,  ‘holy day.’

The word originally referred only to special religious days, which is really kind of cool. Thanks to how language works, the word has evolved and is nuanced. That’s called etymology, and it’s really fascinating. So yes, it’s evolved to include non-secular celebrations such as these, and that’s all right:

  • Thanksgiving
  • Independence Day
  • Father’s Day and Mother’s Day
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • Labor Day
  • Presidents Day, in observance of Presidents Washington, Lincoln, and some additional figures

 

Yes, there are non-religious people who co-opt the traditions of some religions in a secular way for their own families and enjoyment. There are people of other religions that perhaps pick up the traditions of another religion in a secular fashion simply because they enjoy it. Perhaps they adopt it into their own religious or spiritual traditions because they belong to blended families. I get it that this may upset you, and you may find this to be cultural misappropriation [Cultural appropriation, or cultural misappropriation is a sociological concept which views the adoption or use of elements of one culture by members of a different culture as a largely negative phenomenon].

And it is, you’re right. It’s cultural misappropriation if you choose to look at it that way.

The thing of it is, it’s not malicious intent. It’s not hurting you or others in any way. In fact, it’s binding us all together whether we share a common religion or not. It’s giving us all a tether to each other. 

I believe that when someone wishes me a Happy Holiday, the person is offering a blessing.  I’ll accept it because it’s a gift. It’s a promise that they wish me well and that in that moment I can trust them to be kind rather than malicious. The only “war” in these words is in how the recipient of the words chooses to respond.

Let’s make a promise:

 

No matter where we fall on the spiritual spectrum, please assume the best of each other rather than the worst. We’re wishing good blessings upon each other. We’re wishing each other to be happy and blessed. Whatever form that takes, whatever the words, the meaning is the same.  

 

P.S.

Fair warning: if I catch you reprimanding my children for being thoughtful, kind, and considerate because that’s the kind of children I have (most of the time, at least in public) no matter the particular, specific words they use, I’ll cutch-you.:-)

But yeah… here’s a nice quick screen capture for you to take a peek at and revel in.❤ Go ahead… ask Google. This is just a snippet.

 

Origin of "Holiday" is "holy day"

Origin of “Holiday” is “holy day”

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My littlest advocate, Darling Girl, is in 5th grade. She joined the Sign Language Club at school and the first thing she’s learning is the Pledge of Allegiance. Her first day was yesterday and she already knows the majority of it in ASL. She and the rest of the SLC will be saying the Pledge at the Veteran’s Day Assembly on Veteran’s Day at her school next week.

Watching her practice last night was such a treat for me. She took pleasure in not only knowing the signs, but putting them together in a way that was beautiful and fluid. It looked like a song.

She told me what each individual sign meant. She showed me which signs were appropriate to put her own flair into and how she planned to do that.

She told me how she values her hearing, but wants to learn signing so that she can help make things easier for deaf people because it’s not right to always force them to try to communicate like a hearing person. Communicating is important.

She’s so very right. I think maybe she’s listening.:-)

This darling girl is such a blessing.

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I ended up wearing rainbow colors that day that I wrote about doing anything, even wearing blue. I just… I realized that supporting her meant more than wearing the blue because it’s her favorite and she asked me and she thought I’d be celebrating her. It meant so, so much more and I tried to explain why I wore a rainbow-flower skirt with a purple shirt (my own favorite color) in a way she could understand. But how do you explain that wearing blue, lighting it up blue, is a trigger event and silences Autistic Voices? That anything explaining away why it’s okay is really not okay?

And that’s what I think I did in that entry, and I wholeheartedly apologize, no qualifications.

So how did I explain to my daughter why I broke the blue promise…

Rainbows and flowers are love, and everyone loves flowers. Autism is full of wonderful colors, not just blue, and even if the flowers in my skirt were fuzzy at the edges they were far prettier than puzzle pieces all over the school walls. She nodded in agreement.

I told her that I wanted her to be able to choose from all of the colors in the rainbow when she’s making friends, when she’s thinking, when she’s getting dressed, when she’s looking outside, all just like when she’s painting or making crafts. She nodded more with each example.

I told her that an agency named Autism $peaks created the Light It Up Blue idea, and that we don’t like all of their ideas because some of their ideas include wanting to cure Autism. I asked her if she remembered hearing about that several days before, and she nodded with a Very Serious Expression on her face.

Then I explained that there are other supportive agencies that want to help her and others like her grow and be happy, and learn to be a self-advocate as she grows up and becomes a teenager and an adult.

I explained that sometimes we were going to have to have different kinds of conversations now about how some people think Autism is not a good thing and how we can change those ideas by showing them the good things and teaching them about the ideas that they don’t quite have right. That sometimes people believe things about Autism that aren’t true, but that we can help educate them. She nodded. She seemed to like the idea of being an educator instead of the student.

I explained that there would be times we would be talking about the better ideas that Mommy has read about from the good agencies so that Mommy can better understand who is a helper and who is not… and that I think she’s getting old enough to learn those things too.

She nodded her head, with a furrowed brow, and said, “Mm hmm.”

“Do you have any questions?”

“Can I still wear my blue skirt?”

“Yes. Always. You can even keep blue as your own favorite color.”

“Mm hmm. Yes.”

“Do you want to ask me more?”

“I don’t know.”

She walked away. So that was that.

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