The REAL Superheroes: The Magical Siblings of Autism

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It happened on our beach day.

I was trying hard with four children to get out the door by 7:30 a.m.

We were off to Jellybowl and there was still a bit left to do. I had three kids plus one child’s friend to get organized, sandwiches to make, a dog to feed and a cat to appease.  The kids needed to get dressed, remember their rash guards and beach shoes and mom needed to remember to find the sunscreen, pack chairs, gather enough towels, bring clean comfy clothes for the drive home and enough drinks to keep everyone hydrated (but not too many since I would need to  carry them all up and over the train tracks).  I’m pretty good about the chairs and towels but I have forgotten the sunscreen before and it is never pretty.  I didn’t grow up using sunscreen so it is not top on my list but today I have been entrusted with a friend’s child so I can’t mess that one up.

Ok, I digress.  Away from the sunscreen and back to my point.  This is about autism.  Really, it is.  Just wait for it…

So in the middle of the chaos, and after I have just finished cleaning up the zucchini bread mess Miss Maisy left in the kitchen (because we did not adequately protect the zucchini bread my daughter made from the food obsessed labrador), I am  brushing my teeth when my fourteen year old daughter comes in to my bathroom to finish drying her hair.  It’s all good.  We co-habitate well and we share pretty well too.  And, at the same time as my daughter begins to unravel the cord on the hair dryer, my twelve year old son comes in to ask if I will tie his swim trunks.  He is all about being naked at home and not ashamed of his body in our halls but being on the beach and losing your shorts is an entirely different story.  He wants to be certain his shorts stay up.

With my toothbrush in hand and the toothpaste slop dripping off, I ask him to wait a minute.  He stands there patiently, waiting pretty well and then his sister does this thing she has started doing.  She is fourteen, he is her little brother and the really neat thing I see that morning is that he is just her brother… before he is her autistic brother… and she does this thing.  She steps in to help in.  Without a word, without a huff or complaint, without announcing it to me and before she plugs in the dryer she instinctively reaches down and, in a motherly fashion beyond her years, she ties his shorts.  He says thank you and goes on his way.  Without fanfare, she asks, “Isn’t this autism day or something?”  I finish brushing my teeth and tell her, “It’s autism awareness day.”  It’s a quiet conversation between us.  I tell her what the world is doing.  She asks what we are doing.  I tell her we are going to Jellybowl.  I tell her she can wear blue if she wants to.

I smile quietly to myself so that I don’t shine too much light on it.  This is all normal for her now.  I realize as we are speaking to each other that…. autism is natural to her.  Autism was never really part of her existence.  Well, it was and it wasn’t.  Everything about autism is familiar to her but it just never had a defined name.  It was not applauded or hated during her childhood.  It was just part of us and, because of that, autism is different to her than it is even to me.  It was just her little brother.  We never spoke about autism or being less or giving him special privileges.  He was just her brother and she treated him…well,  just like a brother.  She never asked what was wrong with him, he was just part of her world and she organically accepted who he was.  His value was simply equal to hers and her other littler brother.  Yes, he might have been quirky or amplified or different at times but it was normal to her.

He is simply the older of her two little brothers.

She was twelve before she ever spoke the word.  She was twelve before she ever asked what autism was.  She was twelve before she asked if her brother was.  I had books on the shelf and she was helping me organize them.  Actually, being the girl she is, she asked if she could organize the shelf.  When she was finished, she asked, “Mom, is my brother autistic? You have a lot of books about autism.”  And, that was the beginning of her understanding and maybe even putting together the pieces of her memories.  It wasn’t a big conversation.  I think I said something like, “Yeah, he is.  But that doesn’t mean we treat him any different.  We expect as much out of him as we do anyone.  He is just as capable as any of us and just as intelligent.  This doesn’t change anything.”  Her response, in that oh-so-lovely-twelve-year-old-tone, was something like, “I know, Mom.”

And, she is the sibling.

She is the next generation.

She is amazing.

She knows autism on a different level than most and it is simply part of life.  It is neither less nor is it more.  It just is.

She is the awareness others seek.

And, honestly, there is little fan fare.  We don’t hang banners, we don’t do walks, we don’t shine blue light on it.  We accept it and love it and bring it to the world in our quiet way and when others ask, we say, “Yeah, it’s autism.”  And, they say, “That’s autism?”  And, we say, “Yeah, it’s autism.  Yeah, that’s what it looks like.”  It looked different at three than it does at twelve but, yeah, that’s what it looks like. It was a lot crazier at three and at five and at seven than it is at twelve but he is still himself.  Autism is part of him but it is not all of him.

Yeah, it’s autism but it’s more than that too because he is more than autism.

My daughter is a straight A student who has a skyhigh IQ that mine never ventured anywhere in the vicinity of and I have great hopes for her.  She is remarkable and I hope one day that because autism is so natural to her that she will be the awareness in her generation that says, “Yeah, it’s autism.  So what?”  And not the kind of “so what” that says we don’t care about your needs because you are not like us but rather the best kind of “so what” that says, “What’s your point?”  The kind of “so what” that says we all have the same value and WILL be treated equally.  And the acceptance that follows the awareness begins with her as a role model for autism’s “So-What-ness.”  By birth she has become an autism ambassador but, the really cool thing, is it is so natural to her…she doesn’t even know it.  She simply accepts it as normal.

I hope she becomes a scientist or a doctor or the POTUS and with her strength and her ability I hope she sets the tone for her generation to begin to see autism through new eyes.  Her kind of eyes that see iridescence rather than a lessening of value.   In my biggest dreams (mine and not hers I have to tell you, LOL) I imagine her becoming a doctor who works with kids.  And, with her understanding, I imagine her telling these new parents,

“Hey there.  Yes, I do have the diagnosis.  We have found that your child is a bit iridescent.  Yeah, you’re right, he/she is going to be quirky.  It’s a kind of quirky sparkle that you may not be used to and you may need some support with it.  I know, it won’t be easy and some days will just down right suck because it’s not the norm, it’s Holland and not Italy but, take heart, these iridescent kids are crazy brilliant.  They’re going to seriously rock your world.  You just have to be patient.  Part of their brilliance gets stuck in their sparkle and it takes a little longer for these iridescent kids to sort it all out.  Don’t give up and don’t lower your standards though because he/she sure is going to surprise you. OH, and hey, if you’ve got an extra minute…let me tell you about my brother.”

And, I know, not everyone will agree with me.

I get it.

Autism is different for everyone.  But this is my dream…that one day the awareness will be so internalized that no one will care about the differences, or the tantrums or the lack of eye contact because we will also have a plan of action, a path to follow and others will inherently understand that, indeed, different is NOT less.  I hope one day that people will understand more so they will point and blame less.  I hope one day play groups won’t gripe and complain about their inability to socialize as easily as others and teachers won’t feel they are doing favors or being slighted by taking these kids into their classes.  That it won’t take specialized training to prepare teachers for autistic students because teachers and school districts will be expected to teach all students together and equally.    And, when the world is trying to point fingers and lessen those with autism I hope she, and others like her, stand up with their young peers and begin a new generation that says, “Yeah, it’s autism. So what? It’s all good.  They are just like us but a little bit different and that’s okay because when you stop being scared of different it just so happens you find out different is also pretty darn brilliant.  And then you find out, in this life, the more we share our differences, the more we are the same.”

The Remarkable Superhero Siblings Of Autism

It was our beach day.

I was trying hard with four children to get out the door by 7:30 a.m.  We were off to our beach, Jellybowl, and there was still a bit left to do. I had three kids of my own plus one friend to get organized, sandwiches to make, a dog to feed and a cat to appease.  The kids needed to get dressed, remember their rash guards and beach shoes and mom needed to remember to find the sunscreen, pack chairs, gather enough towels, bring clean comfy clothes for the drive home and enough drinks to keep everyone hydrated (but not too many since I would need to carry all those drinks  up and over the train tracks on the trail to our Jellybowl).  I’m pretty good about the chairs and towels but I have forgotten the sunscreen before and it is never pretty.  I didn’t grow up using sunscreen so it is not top on my list.  But today I have been entrusted with a friend’s child so I can’t mess that one up.

Ok, I digress.  Away from the sunscreen and back to my point.  This is about autism.  Really, it is.  Just wait for it…

So in the middle of the chaos after I have just finished cleaning up the zucchini bread mess the dog left in the kitchen (because we did not adequately protect the zucchini bread my daughter made from the food obsessed labrador) and I am in the middle of brushing my teeth when my fourteen year old comes in to my bathroom to finish drying her hair.  It’s all good.  We co-habitate well and we share pretty well too.  And, at the same time as my daughter begins to unravel the cord on the hair dryer, my twelve year old comes in to ask if I will tie his swim trunks.  He is all about being naked at home and not ashamed of his body in our halls but being on the beach and losing your shorts is an entirely different story.  He wants to be certain his shorts stay up.

With my toothbrush in hand and the toothpaste slop dripping off, I ask him to wait a minute.  He stands there patiently, waiting pretty well and then his sister does this thing she has started doing.  She is fourteen, he is her little brother and the really neat thing I see that morning is that he is just her brother… before he is her autistic brother, and she does this thing.  She steps in to help out.  Without a word, without a huff or complaint, without announcing it to me and before she plugs in the hair dryer she instinctively reaches down and, in a motherly fashion beyond her years, she ties his shorts.  He says thank you and goes on his way.  Without fanfare, she asks, “Isn’t this autism day or something?”  I finish brushing my teeth and tell her, “It’s autism awareness day.”  It’s a quiet conversation between us.  I tell her what the world is doing.  She asks what we are doing.  I tell her we are going to Jellybowl.  I tell her she can wear blue if she wants to.

I smile quietly to myself so that I don’t shine too much light on it.  This is all normal for her now.  I realize as we are speaking to each other that…. autism is natural to her.  Autism was never really part of her existence.  Well, it was and it wasn’t.  Everything about autism is familiar to her but it just never had a defined name.  It was not applauded or hated during her childhood.  It was not painted in neon and carted around our life.  It was just part of us and, because of that, autism is different to her than it is even to me.  It was just her little brother.  We never spoke about autism or being less or giving him special privileges.  He was simply her brother and she treated him…well,  just like a brother.  She never asked what was wrong with him, he was a part of her world and she just accepted who he was.  His value was simply equal to hers and her other littler brother.  Yes, he might have been quirky or amplified at times but it was normal to her.  He is nothing more than the older of her two little brothers.

She was twelve before she ever spoke the word.  She was twelve before she ever asked what autism was.  She was twelve before she asked if her brother was.  I had books on the shelf and she was helping me organize them.  Actually, being the girl she is, she asked if she could organize the shelf.  When she was finished, she asked, “Mom, is my brother autistic? You have a lot of books about autism.”  And, that was the beginning of her understanding and maybe even putting together the pieces of her memories.  It wasn’t a big conversation.  I think I said something like, “Yeah, he is.  But that doesn’t mean we treat him any different.  We expect as much out of him as we do anyone.  He is just as capable as any of us and just as intelligent.  This doesn’t change anything.”  Her response, in that oh so lovely fourteen year old tone, was something like, “I know, Mom.”

And, she is the sibling.  She is the next generation.  She is amazing.  She knows autism on a different level than most of us and it is simply part of life.  It is neither less nor is it more.  It just is.

She is the awareness others seek.

And, honestly, there is little fan fare.  We don’t hang banners, we don’t do walks, we accept and love it and bring it to the world in our quiet way and when others ask, we say, “Yeah, it’s autism.”  And, they say, “That’s autism?”  And, we say, “Yeah, it’s autism.  Yeah, that’s what it looks like.”  It looked different at three than it does at twelve but, yeah, that’s what it looks like. It was a lot crazier at three and at five and at seven than it is at twelve but he is still himself.  Autism is part of him but it is not all of him.  Yeah, it’s autism but it’s more than that too because he is more than autism.

My daughter is a straight A student who has an IQ that mine never ventured anywhere in the vicinity of and I have great hopes for her.  She is remarkable and I hope one day that because autism is so natural to her that she will be the awareness in her generation that says, “Yeah, it’s autism.  So what?”  And not the kind of “so what” that says we don’t care about your needs because you are not like us but rather the best kind of “so what” that says, “What’s your point?”  The kind of “so what” that says we all have the same value and WILL be treated equally.  And the acceptance that follows the awareness begins with her as a role model for autism’s “So What-ness.”  By birth she has become an autism ambassador but, the really cool thing, is it is so natural to her…she doesn’t even know it.  She simply accepts it as normal.

I hope she becomes a scientist or a doctor or the POTUS and with her strength and her ability I hope she sets the tone for her generation to begin to see autism through new eyes.  Her kind of eyes that see iridescence rather than a lessening of value.   In my biggest dreams (mine and not hers I have to tell you, LOL) I imagine her becoming a doctor who works with kids.  And, with her understanding, I imagine her telling these new parents, “Hey there.  Yes, I do have the diagnosis.  We have found that your child is a bit iridescent.  The official term is autism but seriously, with the experience I’ve had, I have come to see autism as so much more than just one word can contain.  The word, autism, is so confining but these kids are overwhelmingly iridescent.  Yeah, you’re right, he/she is going to be quirky.  It’s a kind of quirky sparkle that you may not be used to and you may need some support with it.  I know, it won’t be easy and some days will just down right suck but, take heart, these iridescent kids are crazy brilliant.  You just have to be patient.  Part of their brilliance gets stuck in their sparkle and it takes a little longer for these iridescent kids to sort it all out.  Don’t give up and don’t lower your standards though because he/she sure is going to surprise you. OH, and hey…let me tell you about my brother.”

And, I know, not everyone will agree with me.  I get it.  Autism is different for everyone.  But this is my dream…that one day the awareness will be so internalized that no one will care about the differences, or the tantrums or the lack of eye contact because we will also have a plan of action, a path to follow.  I hope one day that people will understand more so they will point and blame less.  I hope one day play groups won’t gripe and complain about their inability to socialize as easily as others and teachers won’t feel they are doing favors or being slighted by taking these kids into their classes.  That it won’t take specialized training to prepare teachers for autistic students because teachers and school districts will be expected to teach all students together and equally.    And, when the world is trying to point fingers and lessen those with autism I hope she, and others like her, stand up with their young peers and begin a new generation that says, “Yeah, it’s autism. So what? It’s all good.  We are all the same.”

Autism: The Boy and The Wave

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Each year at the elementary school it happens.

The teachers immediately voice their concerns, share their reservations about my son.  They share how the seemingly “checked out” little man is not ready for “their” class.  He is not ready for the rigor they tell me.  They don’t think he can keep up and they voice all of these concerns before they have ever gotten to know him.

By now I am used to the reservations about my quiet and sometimes differently wired boy and I don’t push back anymore….instead I wait.  I have learned to wait for it.  Wait for them to come to their own conclusion.  Wait for them to make the gasping discovery on their own and realize he is more than what they have imagined autism to be.  He is more than they have been taught in their teaching classes.  He does not fit well into their text book definition of who he should be because he is more and sometimes less than the definitions of autism they have memorized for exams.

So I wait for it.

The gasp usually arrives sometime in the fall.  Typically around October or November.  It always arrives before Thanksgiving.  It arrives on a startled face with big eyes and a wacky smile and it arrives on shuffling feet as they dart out to catch me during pick up.  It looks bright and it sounds inspired when they give me the back handed compliment that I have now memorized.  Their words line up as, “I wasn’t sure he belonged here when he first started but,” and before they finish their sentence they look me in the eye like they are telling me brand new words I have never heard, and then they finish with, “he is really smart.  That boy is brilliant.  I couldn’t see it in the beginning but I see it now.”  And I don’t use stern words or a holier-than-thou tone when I respond because I have waited for it.  I simply say, “I know.  He’s remarkable.  That is the beauty of my boy.  He has a quiet brilliance and if you are not careful, you can miss it.  I’m glad you see it.”

A wave of relief washes over me at this point.  The kind of wave that ushers rests.  The kind of wave that feels safe.  The kind of wave that quietly assures me, “You can stand down now.  They understand.”  They have been witness to his sparkle and they have arrived at a new and brilliant understanding of autism.  They will go on to teach others and they will never again assume that a quiet child is less because they can finally see that different is not less.

In that moment I understand that they will not only become a better teacher but they will go on to save other kiddos by loving who they are and giving them that chance they did not want to give my son.  The next time they will assume competence rather than crying foul and predicting failure.   This kind of wave that washes over me is one that says this teacher finally understands in their own heart what real autism awareness is, beyond text books and studies, and my boy and the wave have just transformed one more non-believer into a seasoned ambassador for autism awareness.  The kind of ambassador that will stay behind after my boy leaves their class at the end of the year and who will become another cornerstone of autism awareness, understanding and equal value for all students.  And all because one radiant child who was differently wired from the rest showed that there is not one simple version of autism that deserves to be educated.  Every child is an original and able and should be equally valued.  And I am encouraged because I know, with  statistics now announcing 1 in 88 children are affected by autism and an astounding 1 in 54 boys, there will be many more kiddos coming after my boy and they will need this teacher, this new autism ambassador, to ride that wave and to recruit more ambassadors so that equality and assuming competence is something that will be part of every child’s education.

Wonder Soul Boats From The Village

autism sparkles-43Dreaming has not always been something I valued.  More a waste of time than anything else is how it felt to me.  Why fill your mind full of things you can’t have?  It sounded more like the definition of a tease.  Then this thing happened.  See this boat?  The green and pink one up above these words.  Right up there.  This is not exactly how I designed it in my mind but it is slowly but surely headed into the direction I have imagined.  This one is nicely painted blue, green and pink but the one I have planned out is a pale pink and white with sparkles.  It might have polka dots or stripes but I’ve not made that final decision yet.  You could say I am silly and I’d be okay with that because imaginary villages are like that.   They take a leap of faith and a dash of silly in order to reach fruition and suddenly, despite how I started out, I am good with that.

I work hard.  Like other parents  of children with disabilities, we are on duty twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.  No time for sillies or day dreams.  A lot of us even go it alone.  Some of us are single, some are divorced, some of us are married but have spouses who are not yet fully immersed into the autism world yet.  Some people jump in faster than others.  It is what it is.  It’s not always perfect but there’s no time to complain because the autism-merry-go-round slows down for no one.

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At night, when I have survived my day with my three kiddos and their schedules and school districts and teachers and principals and highly egoed administrators who are not always as autism-educated as they claim to be, my children and I enter into our good night routine.  With exhaustion weighing heavy on my shoulders, I tuck my kiddos into bed, we exchange kisses and good nights and then I wait another half hour or so for the boomerang child to pop back out of bed a few times before he really goes to be…for real.

After that last boomerang child pops up, it’s mom time.  Let me say ‘mom-time’, my time off, is hard to come by.  As a single parent of three, I run all day long.  In all honesty, I can’t even pee alone.  If it’s not a child knocking on the door, it’s a dog beating the door open with her head.  The cat has even learned to open doors.  No joke…our cat has some serious skills.  I am not often alone and I am by no means around my peers on any given day.  So, in those moments, when ‘mom-time’ rolls around, I sink into the quiet.  I don’t drink and I don’t smoke so,mostly, after the kids go to bed I sit and enjoy the stillness, the lack of motion in our home and I finally let my guard down and relax.

The secret that we autism parents don’t speak of because we are too busy being strong and evolving from momma bears into grizzlies in order to advocate for our spectrum kiddos, is that we spend a lot of time alone.   The kind of alone that is brimming over with kiddos and chaos but is void of grown-up-people or autism-peers who can offer a friendly, supportive voice amidst the stress and hard work.  There are times when we are downright isolated.  Tantruming or socially impaired kiddos make social lives with grown-up-people daunting.  A lot of grown- up, non-autism-parent-peers like to point fingers rather than offer helping hands and that makes finding friends tough too.  Play groups filled with perfect kiddos don’t often dole out invitations to our spectrum kiddos so we build our own little enclaves with the kindest people we can find in order to stitch together some sort of social interaction for our kiddos.  And let me be painfully honest and say that the kind and tolerant people who fill our worlds can be few and far between.  I’d like to say it is different but it’s not.  It’s what makes our “good” friends all the more special.  Unfortunately, though the autism world has whole heartedly embraced the concept that “different is not less,” the rest of the world and our communities and neighborhoods have been slower to do the same.

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So, out of this hard work and self imposed isolation that autism often requires (because it takes every bit of energy we have to take care of and advocate for our kiddos) this thing happened.  I went out on a limb, started a Facebook page and reached out to other autism parents. I named it Autism Sparkles.  (Let me clear something up right now by saying we are not the “have a super sparkly day,” commercial kind of sparkle.  We are more of the ‘I’m probably going to be knee deep in life’s mud puddle today so I better find a way to see some positives,” kind of “sparkle”.).  And once I started this Autism Sparkles Facebook page,  this other thing happened.  People showed upGOOD people.  KIND people.  KINDRED souls.  People who get it.  People who understand us.  People who get me, as a parent.  These people, sheerly because of their goodness, became the wonder souls.

Then this other crazy thing happened.

These people were more than “likes” on a community page.  As it turned out, I LIKED these people a LOT.  This kind of good souled parent who understands the struggles, the triumphs, the heartbreak and the fear that erupts out of the battle with autism are hard to find and these people were them.  Normally it can take me a whole dissertation describing our past history, diagnostic history, autism history, and a history of our experience in order to explain an experience we have had because you cannot possibly understand the significance of what we are doing unless you understand what led to it.  I will tell you it gets tiring.

And once these wonder souls showed up, this other thing happened.  These people became friends.  Wild stuff I know.  I always thought friends were only the people who lived close or have known you for a long time but this is not that at all.  According to those standards, I don’t know them at all but I like them a lot.  I call the wonder-souls my sparkle friends.  They call me Sparkles.

It’s crazy, I get that, but this kind of crazy is some pretty darn good stuff.

I get that it makes no sense at all but there is something unexplainably bonding about autism.  The road is long and grueling, there are no answers and the autism road never truly ends.  Perhaps we bond through emotional exhaustion.  I am not sure.  What I know is this… at the end of the day when I am tired emotionally and physically and I want to sit and chat about my day with friends and let loose in a safe and nonjudgmental place….these are the people I want to sit with.  These sparkle friends, these wonder souls, these virtual strangers who understand, who get it, the ones who don’t need my back story or dissertations, the ones who share a collective understanding and understand with only a few words…are the ones I want to let loose with.  These wonder souls already get me better than most people on my street.  Better yet, I’d like to fill a neighborhood with these wonder souls.

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And, that is where the boats from the village began.  That was the want that paved the first street of our village.  One dream wish…silly as it may be…the one where I wished I was heading out my front door and into my driveway to meet up and unwind, decompress after a day of battle… with my wonder soul ‘neighbors’.

It started with one simple thought….wouldn’t it be nice to live in a neighborhood where everyone was supportive and kind, where no one looked down their noses and pointed fingers because they did not understand that different is not less? Our village would be that kinder, gentler place.  A place to gather with our baby monitors, our desserts and our warm drinks right outside our houses, with friends who have our backs and we could finally get that unwinding time and feel like we had been heard so that we could stop feeling like we are forced to be islands.  With a little imagination and a few dreams we might be able to simply banish the very need for islands, for isolation for parents who feel like they have to be mountains to take care of their kiddos.

And then we took it a step further when I pushed the dream sillies one more step with the thought …wow…wouldn’t it be so cool if our village was near a lake and all us wonder souls could take out the boats and share a drink over some sunshine and solitude?  And it’s just a given that when friends get together crazy things happen.  In no time we were designing and painting boats together.  We each decided to create our own color scheme.  Mine is, of course, pink with sparkles.  I’d like a pattern on my boat but I am still deciding between stripes and polka dots.  One friend wants British racing green with multi sized dots.  Another creative wonder soul has designed hers with pink butterflies while another color wizard has paired a hot pink boat with orange dots and a splash of sparkle.  We have one neighbor who, with loyalty and dedication to her team, is sticking with Tennessee Volunteer orange and the requisite ‘T’ on the side while another autism wonder soul mom is beautifully choosing turquoise with faint yellow spots.  My favorite boat belongs to my girlfriend’s son.  He announced that his boat will be painted blue and it will fly so that he can protect the village from anyone who may want to hurt us.  Another sweet wonder soul boat will be painted blue and will have “consider it all joy for autism” painted in brown.

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I know what you’re thinking.  It’s a little off and I understand your reservation but let me assure you, I’m okie dokie with that.  Tough times call for tough measures and unexpectedly, I have fallen helplessly into some big time adoration for these wonder souls who bring sparkle and love to the village.  So you can call it whatever you want.  I call it necessary because, let’s be honest, it’s a crazy world out there.  People don’t always do what they should and other people are capable of some down right crazy scary stuff so, in the meantime, until the world cleans up its act, I will build the village and we will paint our boats.  Dream filled and imaginary, yes, but also, and more importantly, a model for how it should have been.

I believe everyone of us parents should be be able to live in a neighborhood and a community that embraces these children, that is supportive and kind but, for whatever unfortunate reason, we are more often isolated than we are warmed with support.  From governments who cut funding, to school districts who refuse services to children who need it, to insurance companies who don’t cover services, to the parents of the perfect children who don’t yet tolerate differences… autism parents are reeling from the level of combat we are involved in every day in order to protect and educate our children.  So we will build our village and paint our boats and we will fill a beautiful mountain lake with color and kindness and support and never again, inside the village, will any autism parent need to be an island because friends don’t let friends stand alone.  And a little dreaming silliness goes along way to soothe a tired mind, build back up the patience reserves in parents and help a weary wonder soul find a smile.  It’s all good in the village.  How will you paint your wonder soul boat from the village?

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Good Memories :)

Thank you to my best friend in my early years, SNPR, for some great childhood memories and for jumping over the lava with me :)…and for running away with me to Texas, for teaching me how to suck lemons and climbing the lemon trees with me, for teaching me how to make chocolate soup out of vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup and for always being up for an adventure.