Monday, September 28, 2015

Dear Mr. Biker Dude

Dear Mr. Biker Dude,

You probably don’t remember me, but I remember you.  My son TJ does, too.

We were in that red car at the red light as you waited to turn left into the shopping center last week - we were opposite you.  We were going straight.  Or we were trying to.

I’m the one who leaned out of my window to talk to you - to plead with you - as you blocked the intersection so your 100 biker friends behind you could turn left into the shopping center after your left turn green had turned red.  After our red light had turned green.

Do you remember us?

You blocked the intersection so no one but your buddies could move.  Was there an emergency at Big Lots you all had to get to in a timely manner?  Were you desperate to get to the bank before it closed in 3 hours?  I’m not sure what the emergency was, but it must have been serious for you to think you all had priority over everyone else on the road that day.

I’m sure you didn’t know that my son TJ, who, to someone who just glances at him as he sits in the front seat or my car, has autism.  

Until I told you, that is.

I’m sure you didn't know that he was having a hard time that day as we sat there, knowing how close to home we were, as I prayed that my son, ticking time bomb that he was, could hold out just a little bit longer until we were safe at home, where he could explode in a safe place.

I’m sure you didn’t know that just about 10 minutes before, we had dropped off his father at the airport, where TJ and I said goodbye to our rock for the next two weeks, after he had just returned home from a week long trip the night before.  That TJ got just a taste of what it was like to have his Dad home again before he left again.  That he feeds off of the energy around him, and that that energy contributes to his moods, his stability, and his success.  At school and in his every day life.

I know for a fact that you didn’t see his tears in his eyes, the ones he tried to hide from me, as we drove away from the airport and headed home.

I also know for a fact that you heard my words as I yelled out the window to you, as you held up your hand to ensure that I would “stop” and not plow you over as you illegally blocked the intersection, “Please please let us go through - my son has autism and I need to get him home.  Please.”

I know that your heart must be black as pitch, which you showed me when you shook your head and replied to me, “That’s too bad.”

Then I started trying to soothe my boy, as he started to shake.  He got scared.  Did you know that?  He said “Mom, why is he mean?  Is he going to hurt us?”

After we got home, and after I gave him some deep pressure to try to comfort his overloaded sensory system, and after he had visibly calmed down, he asked me why bikers were so mean.

“They’re not,” I told him.  “We just happen to come across one who was very mean and selfish.  But TJ, you know Suzi and her husband?  He’s a biker - a really nice one.  Remember when you drew pictures with him?  He’s a great artist, just like you.  And remember Diana?  She and her husband are bikers, and they both are so nice!  Remember when she used to come over to hang out with you and Peter?  We see them at the pool all the time.  They are nice bikers.  They aren’t all mean.  We just had some bad luck today.  Do you understand?”

He did.  He’s amazing like that - he has a tendency to think the best of people until they show him otherwise.

So just in case you were wondering, Mr. Biker Dude, TJ did get scared, but he knows that not all bikers are as mean as you were.  He knows not to judge a group of people by one bad apple.  He knows that you all weren’t going to hurt us, but that you were breaking the law and doing something wrong, and that it’s not an ok thing to do, even though you all didn’t get caught.

He also knows that you have a very small mind and a very small heart.  And maybe that’s just my angry influence on his opinion, but hey, nobody’s perfect.

I hope to never see you again,


Friday, September 18, 2015

To TJ's Team - I just thought you should know....

I have read a lot of articles lately on what to ask your kid to get the best information out of them at the end of their school day.  Anything but "How was your day?" to which you'll get "fine" and not much else.

I thought I was doing a pretty good job.  TJ and I would chat about what happened and who he spent time with and who he ran in to and what he is studying for the whole ride home.

And I STILL missed a biggie.

Two days ago I got a call from TJ's special educator (SM - the best).  He told me that TJ is really stressed out in one of his classes that he is taking as an elective.  He said that the structure of the class is different than it was last year, and required a background that TJ just didn't have.  It wasn't the fit that he thought it would be for TJ.

I was floored.  Not because TJ wasn't doing well in a class, but because in all the conversations TJ and I have had about the class, I got no indications of his rising stress levels.

Apparently, SM and his para educator were seeing his rising stress levels very clearly, and wanted my permission to take him out of this elective class, with credits he didn't need, and find a better fit.

I immediately said yes, confident that they would find something for him to occupy his time in a less stressful, and therefore more productive, manner.

And of course, they did.  He is enrolled in an art class as an independent study.  I got emails this morning from SM and the para educator saying what a better morning TJ is having, and what a great switch this is for him.

And I almost cried out of happiness, and feelings of good fortune.

We are so lucky that TJ is in such capable, caring, amazing hands at his school.

We are so lucky that these incredible teachers can see things throughout TJ's day that we cannot see.

We are so lucky that they are proactive enough to prevent a complete meltdown.  They jumped at the first signs of stress to investigate what is the source, and what, if any, changes needed to be made.

Sean, Peter and I are so grateful to these wonderful people, at his wonderful school, taking such good care of our wonderful boy.

And I just thought you should know.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Things I Already Knew but Need Mentioning

1. Sean is the biggest dreamboat of all time ever.  EVER.

2. Diverticulitis sucks.  Big time.  Avoid it if you can.

3. Liquid diets suck too.  Holy brutal.  When I almost kiss the doctor who upgrades me to crackers, it's too long on liquid diet.

4. Your colon is your friend - treat it accordingly.

5. TJ should NOT play The Simpsons trivia before bed, unless we want to find him up at 12:30 looking for his Simpsons Book.  God knows how long he was awake but it must have been late because he's still asleep now.

6. My kids are more flexible when I'm sick than when I'm not.  Hmmm.

7. Sam sneaks on the couch to sleep at least 4 times a day.  And looks at me like I'm crazy when I scold him to get down.  Every time.

8. Do not watch Food Network if you are on any kind of restricted diet.  I forget this one all the time.  It's like I have mind-erase when the diverticulitis ends.

9. I actually have missed exercise.  Kudos to my exercise-inspiring friends who have helped me make this a regular part of my life.

10. A lump in your lower abdomen should not always scare you - it's not always the scary tumor you are making up in your imagination.  Sometimes, it just means that you're full of sh!t.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

I Called Myself "A Writer"!

So I have had this blog for a while now, and I have loved writing so much.  It's been such a great way for me to express myself, some times more eloquently than others.  


But it has only been just over a year now that I have even slightly considered myself "a writer".

I actually said it out loud!  Yesterday I was in the ER - I have diverticulitis again, side note - and my doc asked if I was in the medical field.  

(Thank you, dear doctors sister and brother-in-law, for such faboo medical coaching that apparently I sound like I know what I'm talking about.  To a doctor!)

Anyway, he asked if I was in the medical field, and I said, "No, actually, I'm a freelance writer."

Now, please understand that it's hard for me to say that and not laugh at myself.   I mean, I love writing this blog, but for me, writing a blog does not make me a real writer.  It never did, in my mind.

But then my dear friend Michelle, a real writer for the Washington Post, passed on one of my blog posts about autism to the On Parenting editor a year ago.  And she actually published it.  

What?!?!  I know!!!  And to say it's an honor is a huge understatement!!!

And since then, she has published 11 more of my pieces in the Post's On Parenting section. 12 pieces!!!  In the Washington Post!  Me!!!  How unbelievable and amazing is that?!?!

Have I told this story before?  Forgive me if I have...

And then last year, soon after I was published in the Post, I was contacted by - a site that celebrates the "strength, joy and beauty in disability and disease".  They published one of my pieces about autism too.  Then another.  And another.  Suddenly it's a year later and I am one of their regular contributors too.

Me!  I just can't believe it.

Since then I have written for a few other sites as well (including the Organization for Autism Research!).  I have met some incredible, inspirational people, and have been lucky enough to call some of them real friends.

There is a part of me that still feels like I am fooling everyone.  I'm not a writer!  I'm just TJ and Peter's mom.

But I guess I am a writer.  

After all, I said it out loud.

And here are my latest pieces!