About Me

I am the proud mother of 6 children. 5 of our children have autism. We do not feel our world has ended, but just begun. We do not chelate, intervene biochemically, give shots of any kind, practice ABA, etc. We treat them as we treat any humanbeing. We treat them with kindness and respect and expect the same from them. They are exceptional children.

Blog Archive

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Report Card Day...

Yesterday, in the mail, we received report cards for 2 of our 6 children. High school and middle schools are every 6 weeks and elementary is 9 weeks at reporting grades.
I tore open the perforated cards....I always loved report card day, and still do....
Deirdre was first...
Yes Straight A's.
Now Caitlin....
Yes A's and B's.....
I am so proud, I could bust.
Not bad for a severely autistic 15 year old and a 12 year old with Asperger's......

But, I really did not expect anything less from them...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A Better Me....

I arrived at the church yesterday, expecting to see a room full of depressing, hopeless individuals.
Instead, I found a room full of dignity and grace.

You see, my friend told me last month she was diagnosed with ALS (better known as Lou Gehrig's Disease).
My first reaction is okay, let me read about it, and let's take care of it. As I read, the first paragraph states,"upon diagnosis of ALS, the patient usually lives 3-5 years".......3 TO 5 YEARS.......
So, basically, when you get the diagnosis, you get a death sentence.
How is that possible for a 42 year old mother of one? How is that possible for a wife and caretaker of a family?
Now, I never question God....I did not question him when he took my father at the young age of 55. I did not question him when five of our children received the autism diagnosis. I did not question him when I miscarried 2 babies. But, this is beyond belief for me.
So, in my quest for a cure for my friend, I found a local support group in Austin. I found ALSA.
I spoke with the social worker, who was an amazing ray of light for me. She answered all of my questions, whether she felt they were silly or stupid....most were I am sure....

So, into this meeting room I went.
Inside were some people afflicted with ALS, caretakers, and family members. We went around and introduced ourselves. My friend did not come with me....she is not ready.
I met 3 gentlemen with ALS. 3 of the most handsome men I have ever met. When they spoke, they spoke like dignitaries. They were, at one time, a professor, a contractor, and a publisher. These are brilliant minds.
I met 1 woman with ALS...still gorgeous and loved adoringly by her present husband and mother.
I met siblings, wives, daughters of these men and woman. I was taken aback by their committment and ability to stand strong, even in the wake of ALS.

Funny thing, when I left, I did not feel depressed.....I did not feel sad....I felt empowered. I felt all the crap that I had been upset about before this encounter was petty and not worth any more of my time.
I removed myself from the Austin Autism Support Group....I would get depressed every time I read about another autistic child being given more treatments. I no longer have to deal with that. I feel cleansed.
I now feel all of my devotion and time will be given to those who really need me....I will love my children even more (if that is possible), I will adore my husband even more(which I already do), I will be a much better friend than I ever was (it was mostly about me, in the past), I will be a much better daughter (which I never was)......
What I took out of this meeting was A Much Better Me.........

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

My Little Genius...

My youngest son, Kiernan, is 5 years old. He is tall and skinny. He is constant motion. He has the greatest smile I have ever seen. He has dark curly hair and gorgeous blue eyes. He is magnificent.
Kiernan, as many of you know, is also non-verbal. He does not use words at all. Yet, he has no problem in getting his opinion heard or his needs met.
His teacher, Mrs. Kelly, is the first to brag on him for anything he does. She is amazed by him all the time.
Kelly ran to me the other day to tell me that Kiernan is spelling out words with his ABC letters.
Last week, Kiernan reached into his little bag of letters and one letter at a time....M....A....S....H...he wrote.
MASH? she thought. What the heck is MASH?
When she asked me the next day, she was relieved to know the answer. MASH is his favorite show. Yes, that MASH with Alan Alda. He loves the theme song.
He knows what he likes and like I said, he lets you know also.
So now, every day when he spells out his word MASH, Mrs. Kelly joyfully hums the theme song and Kiernan laughs the best belly laugh he can.
Now that is pure genius.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Give Credit Where Credit Is Due...

I am not a complex woman...many of you have figured this out. I need very little in life to make me happy.
I get up every morning and hope life gives me little grief. Sometimes, I am not so lucky. Sometimes, I am.....
Today, I got lucky...
I had my daughter's yearly ARD, or Admission Review Dismissal meeting at school. This time, it was Erin's...our 9 (almost 10) year old's.
She started at this elementary school in 1999, at the age of 3. She went in a screaming, anti-social, sensory-deprived, autistic child. She needed constant supervision and care.
Today, she is a self-motivated, self-assured, loving, adored-by-all little girl.
The school tried to my husband and I all of the credit for this today. But, in my great widsom (wink, wink), I corrected them.
In a haze of tears, I told them that my child would not be anywhere near where she is today without them. Without them, she would have been put in an atmosphere of negativity.
With them, she has been allowed to learn and grow amongst peers who are not disabled. She has learned how to be accepting and they have learned to accept her. Through all of this, we have received a smart (straight A, honor roll) student, a loving daughter, a caring sister, and a honorable human.
As her 4th grade teacher so proudly told us, "Erin has a power within her that is unexplainable, she just is a very special human being....I am so glad to know her".
Through my tears, as I held the hand of a woman who has been her speech teacher for 7 years, I thanked these educators, therapists and women.....I gave them the credit they deserve....

Saturday, September 23, 2006

I'm Not A Doctor, but.....

I am not a doctor, but I play one in an autism forum and/or chat room.
Go to any autism forum or chat room and you will find parent's asking other parent's for doses of biomedical treatments, chelation supplements, vitamins, minerals, B12 shots, etc.
What surprises me even more is the fact that people actually think they are asking "experts" in this area. Just because you treated your child biomedically, does not give you the right to tell another mother or father how to treat their children.
I know, I know...biomedical parent's feel they are "helping, curing, recovering, healing, and so on an so on" their children.
I witnessed, first hand, the wonderful effects ABA has on a severely autistic child. This child has been with an ABA therapist for 2 years. He pushes, shoves, hits, strips naked, screams, etc. He is redirected by being told to sit down, stand up, sit down, stand up, several times.
That did a world of good.
Soon after, he went over and punched my severely autistic little boy (who by the way, is not violent or prone to temper tantrums in any way) in the nose.
All of our autistic children are very well behaved out in public. They do not need to wear tee shirts to further exploit them by telling everyone they are autistic.
And more amazing...they are not chelated, treated biomedically, given a GFCF diet, redirected with ABA, or any thing else.

My children's typical day is as follows:
They are awoken in the morning.
They go to the restroom and brush their teeth.
They come downstairs for pancakes, waffles, biscuits, eggs, bacon or sausage (just for examples).
They get dressed.
They head out the door for school.

After school:
They do their homework.
They play outside with their friends.
They come in and eat dinner (roast, steak, chicken, potatoes, rice, greens (again, just for examples).

At bedtime:
They take a shower.
They dress themselves for bed.
They read a book.
We say our prays.
They close their eyes and they
Go to sleep.

I feel no need to fill a needle up in the middle of the night to sneak a shot in any of my children.

Autism fills our house. It fills our house with unconditional love and happiness...I guess because we don't feel the need to be unexcepting of who our children are...

But then again, I am not a doctor......

Friday, September 22, 2006


I have real issues with the word Autism. I guess it is because we have 5 people in this house with the diagnosis.
Autism to me has been so negated. The word autism has taken legitamite people and made them a definition.
Medical doctors, and I truly question their credentials, have taken children who would never have fit the realm of autism and put them there.
And then, here comes the parent's. The ones that think they will fix or cure their children. The one's that read everything there is to read about autism. Whether it be true or not. The ones that cannot or will not have a child that is not the child they thought they should have gotten.
What did I ever do to deserve an autistic child????
I will tell you what autism is in our home....
Autism is...
1. beauty...in every one of the faces in our home.
2. intelligence...in the fact that every one of our children are the smartest people I know.
3. radiance...in the light that shines from the smiles of all of our children.
4. joy...in the fact that my children have never known pain inflicted from anyone who is supposed to love them.
5. respect...given to them from every person who meets them. Because Patrick and I will not except anything but....

Autism in our home is the norm..it is what our children have. Autism does not define our children, it is just part of them.

When I read posts, forums, support groups,etc from other parent's of autistic children, I get the feeling the parent's of these children were expecting a better child. A child that would be less trouble. A child who would be of higher quality.

I would not trade my children or their autism for anyone or anything. I know they will thrive no matter what.
You see, autism is not the end of the world in our home....it is the beginning of better things. It is what we are....and that is really OK...

Comfort Food....

I am so excited Fall is here. I love to cook and I love to cook comfort food, such as stews, soups, chili, breads, muffins, cookies, etc.
I know what you are thinking...I live in Texas. And yes, Fall is still 90 degrees. But, in my mind, it is 45 degrees outside and I am cooking COMFORT FOOD.
As of right now, I have an oven full of homemade M & M cookies. Next up, chocolate chip. I have promised the teacher's I would make them, and I always keep my promises.
My kids love when we cook these foods. I hope I am giving them the memories I have when I cook them. I hope when they grow up they will get a happy feeling when they make these foods, just like I do when I make them.
In September, we attempt to make homemade pretzels and bagels in the oven. The children shape the pretzels into the most amazing designs. What artistic children I have raised....have no idea where they get it.
On Halloween, we have bowls of chili with cheese cut out like Jack-O-Lantern's. Last Halloween, we had 89 degree weather. But, chili we had, because my kids expect it.
On Thanksgiving, we make 3 turkeys, 1 ham and 1 roast beef. We usually have friends and their families over. Mostly neighbors and old friends. Last year we had 30 people at one time at our home. It was magic. Lots of food from lots of beautiful people.
On Christmas, we make 2 turkeys, 2 roasts, and 1 ham. Again, lots of friends and neighbors. Kind of an open house. The house smells like heaven.
Christmas in our house is not about the gifts. My children each get one big item they ask for and many little items they don't expect. They are not greedy kids. They love to open their presents and then share them with their siblings and friends.
I guess that is why comfort food means so much to me....I can relate all the good memories in my life to the smells and tastes of the food my Mother and Father made to make me feel so special.
I hope these are the same memories I can give to my children.....memories of comfort and love...
Even if it is through the bite of an M & M cookie.....

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Munchausen by Autism...a satire?

I have come upon a disturbing trend amongst parent's of some autistic children. They call themselves "Recoverer's", but there is a whole underlying method to their madness....
I have pulled off of a pro-biochemical sight the following regimen of one such mother about her 3 1/2 year old child....no names are necessary, there are several of these parent's out there...
"I have used IV chelation, suppository chelation, oral chelation, transdermal chelation, all the minerals and supplements, yeast/bacteria aides, IVIG infusions for his immune system, HBOT, GFCF and the removal of 11 other foods."
Am I the only one that finds this frightening and highly suspicious?
Am I the only one who feels so badly for this little 3 1/2 year old boy, who has yet a chance to even enjoy life?

I find it very disturbing that ANY doctor (?) would allow so much to be done at such an early age.
Sadder yet,this child is just beginning his ordeal....supposedly he is recovered. I do not understand the term "recovered" if these parent's continue to put their children in such dangerous procedures.
Then to brag about it and have a whole fanbase of parent's is even more disturbing. "Lookie to what I am doing to my child, to remove the mercury from his little body".....
What about all of the chemicals that are being put into his little body? Or, the good metals being pulled out? But, unfortunately, to this little boy and many other children, this is the "normal".
I have recently read on an Autism Support Forum one mother ask if she should scope her 3 year old daughter, because of stomach aches. Amazingly, one of the more rational mother's brought up the fact that she has her on certain supplements, maybe that is causing the pain--Ya Think??????
The mother replied she should do the scope any way, to rule out anything else. This is for her NT child......DOES ANYONE ELSE GET WHAT I AM TRYING TO SAY??????
I cannot approach any of these "parent's", because they do not know the art of discussion. Only tacky jabs at those who do not agree with them.
I have spent way too much energy on these people. I need to give this energy to my children...
I shall now pray and hope the medical community "gets a clue" and stops allowing all of these procedures on young children. I will continue to pray for the recovery of these precious angels so their ordeals will end. I will pray the parent's finally look at them and are satisfied with who they are and whom they have the potential of becoming......

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Road To Recovery....

I would not be myself if I did not blog on this subject. It has eaten away at me for many years and now I must respond MY OPINIONS on MY BLOG.
I have asked many people, ie: doctors, mother's, therapist's, etc. to please show me a child "recovered" from autism. I get many responses and many sites to view.
All I end up seeing are autistic children. They may have alleviated some symptoms, and the children may have become verbal, but they are still AUTISTIC.
These children still have trouble with vocus, speech, and sensory issues. Some of these children still scream and tantrum beyond the ordinary.
In our house, there are much improvements from when our children were first diagnosed. All of them can sit in a classroom and not be distruptive, with the exception of one. All of them have regained their speech, with the exception of one. All of them go to bed at or before 10pm and sleep through the night. All of them have sensory issues. All of them still require speech therapy. All of them are still AUTISTIC.
Two of our children might require long-term care. I hope not, but that is a possibility. Three of them will go on in life and go far.
Our "normal" little red-headed Meaghan will continue to be just that--

All of this was done without biomedical intervention, diet changes, needles, chambers, creams, lotions, etc. All of this was done through the bodies natural capababity to "recover" itself. All of this was done with very dedicated speech therapists, occupational therapist, and teachers. All of this was done by 5 very hornery and determined children.

My husband and I feel peace knowing this. We have not had to witness regressions in their behaviors when introducing new chemicals into their systems. We did not have to drain our already low bank account, or borrow money from family and friends to pay a doctor whose driving a very nice Lexus. We did not have to be careful not to wake up a child to sneak a shot into their butts, I believe they would thank us for this if they knew that was possible.

I have come to the conclusion in my life, I do not find it necessary to bash anyone. If you believe a certain way, vote a certain way, love a certain way, that is your preogative. I do not wish ill upon anyone. I do not dislike parent's who choose biomedical means to help their children. I do not dislike parent's who chelate their children. I do not dislike parent's who HBOT their children.
I only hope that the bad does not outway the good with these interventions. How do all these additives given to the children leave the body? What about liver, kidney, heart damage? What about the fact these children have to endure all of these procedures for the sake of "RECOVERY".
I invite anyone who questions me about my children to please come and meet them. See for yourself. People that have known my children for years are aware of the progress. They have had the same doctors since they were born and since their diagnosis.
I was asked that maybe they were misdiagnosed. Maybe they have ADHD. With the exception of our youngest, our children are not hyperactive at all. We have been examined by some of the finest pediatric neurologists in the country. We have been examined by the University of Washington, the University of Pittsburgh, and the fine doctors from AGRE. All came to the same conclusion....Autism. Erin and Patrick were diagnosed with severe autism at their first diagnosis. Now they are PDD-NOS. Still autistic.

I read all I can on autism. I read all the blogs I can find. Pro or Con with what I believe. I read where people write about how much this is costing them, how far they have to drive, how horrific the procedure was, etc.
After reading, I have found the peace of mind to know we went the right road. I am reassured every time I look at my children they are happy, smart, self-assured, friendly, and well-liked. And that to me is what is "RECOVERY"....

One Can Only Dream....

I woke up this morning with my 12-year old standing over me...She asks me, "It is 7:10, why are you still asleep?". I told her, "because George Strait and I are grocery shopping together...".
She is our Asperger's child. To Deirdre, I am just plain weird. She is the on-time, can't be late for the bus child.
I told her I had her clothes laid out, go get dressed and I will get you breakfast. We had her out the door by 7:20. Bus came at 7:23. I know she is still mad at me.
But, I cannot help when I dream. I have dreamt big my whole life. I do not dream small dreams. I dream of George, John Travolta, John Goodman (whom I adore by the way), Oprah, Dr. Phil, etc.
I remember every dream and every detail of every dream.
I dreamed that we were on Extreme Makeover Home Edition. Ty Pennington showed up, and I refused to answer the door. I did not have a bra on....I won't do that to anyone. Not even Ty......
I dreamt that my parent's and myself were driving in Brooklyn. My father got lost and drove off a cliff (in Brooklyn?). I told them I loved them and would see them later....then the car hit the ground. We all survived.
I live large in real life. I give my all to all that come into our life. I try to be the best friend, wife, mother, daughter that I can be. I was not always this way. I was selfish. It was about me....
Now, I make a conscious effort to make it about others.
We have been blessed with 6 wonderful children. They are all unique and wonderfully blessed with their father's intelligence (thank God).
We have tried to keep the positive in our lives. This means having to rid our lives of toxic people (some of them relatives). We have enough to deal with in our home, we do not need anyone else's dysfunction.
We have an amazing group of friends. People who don't judge us. People who know when we might need a bit of help.
The only family member who is around is my mother. She does the best she can do. It is hard for her to watch her grandchildren. She doesn't understand the autism. But, I give her alot of credit for hanging in there.
The most positive motivator in my life, my husband. He gets up every morning after 4 to 5 hours of sleep, gets us off to school, goes to work. He comes home around 6pm, gets dressed and goes off to his second job. We get to see him on Saturdays. That is our family day...don't mess with us on Saturdays. He is our hero. He has never questioned why his children are autistic. He requires them to be the best they can be, NO MATTER WHAT!!!
I don't dream about having another life, just adding to my already incredible one. I don't dream that George Strait and I are on a date, just grocery shopping together. I don't dream that John Travolta and I are in love, just flying together in an airplane. All innocent meetings in innocent places.
One can only dream......

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Angels in Disquise...

When our daughter started an Early Childhood program 13 years ago, we were frightened. Our child, who had never left our sight for a moment. Our child, who would be scared and frightened away from her home...as if.
Into our lives entered Mary Allen. The first of many angels disquising themselves as teachers.
Mary reassured us, mostly me, that Caitlin would do fine. And she was right. Caitlin flourished away from the restraints of her overprotective mother. Caitlin showed us she was smart, independent and worthy of an education.
When the school Caitlin was in decided she did not need inclusion, we found a school who wanted to include her.
Enter Gail Laubenthal. She took Caitlin to places we c0uld never have imagined. Caitlin soared. She became part of the classroom. The kids took care of her and reminded her when it was inappropriate to stim. Gail taught them diversity. Thank God for her.
Caitlin continued to get Angels every year. In middle school, she became the young lady we always knew she would be.
Now she is a freshman in high school. Very cool.

Erin started Early Childhood with a great teacher. Ms. Cady was very patient with her. She rubbed her back when she would scream and brushed her when she needed it.
Erin is continuing to have the best education we could ever want. She is succeeding far beyond anyones dreams.

Little Patrick had Ms. Cady also, but by then, she became Mrs. Winslow. She loved him and gave him the nuturing he so needed all the time. I was scared, because he was Mommy's little boy. But he needed more than that. And school gave him what he needed.
Sharon Menn was a light at the end of our tunnel. She taught him to respect others and for others to respect him. This is also true of his Kindergarten teacher Tina Mello. Never a softer voice has spoken.

Now, Kiernan. He came in with a bang. This is a difficult child. Hyperactive, crying, destructive Kiernan.
Enter Kelli Dominguez. The most beautiful angel of them all.
She has made Kiernan a thriving, happy, smart little boy. She looks at him as if he were her own. I can happily say that does not bother me. It makes me smile knowing I can leave him and he is loved. Mrs. Rahman is the teacher's aide in this class. She rubs his feet every day at rest time. I won't even do that for him. Is he spoiled or what?

This does not even count the wonderful and beautiful speech teacher, Marsha Ecklund. She raves about my kids accomplishments as if she were bragging about her own children. How lucky her children are to call her Mom.
And Kari Anderson, the OT who told me to untie my apron strings and let Caitlin show me what she can do. I am glad I listened. She was right.

There are many others who have come and gone in our lives. I am taking the time to thank them all now. They will never know how much they have meant to us and our family. How much they have let our children be just that, children.
For that, I thank them all.

But, I guess that is what ANGELS do.....

To Blog, or Not To Blog....

I have kept a journal, ever since I saw the tv movie "Go Ask Alice" in 1971 ( I believe). My sister gave me my first diary on Christmas Day. I diligently started it on New Year's Day. I slept with it under my pillow.
I wrote in my diary ( which became a journal when I entered college), every day for almost 35 years.
My diary/journal got me through puberty, lost loves (damn that Shawn Casey for not noticing me), anorexia, my first sexual experience, rape, wronged friendships, etc.
After I had our first-born, Caitlin, I decided to journal her growth. I new at birth she would require extra care. I wanted to document her screams, sleepless nights, etc.
I was so happy I did this after she was diagnosed. It has been my savior on nights I did not know if I was doing the correct thing with her. I documented all her GFCF, nutrients, enemas (which I still cry about), doctors appointments, etc.
We stopped all of these when Caitlin turned 4, and she dumped the concoction I gave her to drink, down the sink.... It was done for all of us.
As our family grew, so did my journals.
I joined a local Support Group for autism. Unfortunately, they did not want to hear my side of the story. I was negated and bullied for my anti-biomedical beliefs.
Funny thing, many of these parent's emailed me off-list. They too were disillusioned, but did not want to speak up for fear of being bullied.
I don't have a problem with bullies. I think bullies are cowards.
None of my children are bullied, or have become that....that is one of our greatest accomplishments in their lives.

Then one day, I went looking for a site on the computer who held our beliefs on what autism is and what autism can be.
I found a huge pot of gold at the end of my rainbow...I found Soapbox Mom's blog.
I commented on her blog, and she responded. Wow.......
She told me there were many out there like us. She gave me sites to go to, blogs to read, etc. I found a safe place for my children and my family to go to and not be BULLIED.

I then decided, I could also blog. I can write well, in my jaded mind.
I always wanted to write a book, I am just a bit too lazy.
I decided my blog would be about my family and my feelings about autism and all the crazy things people do to cure their children.
Yes, it makes me angry, but I am ALLOWED my feelings. I cry when I read about all the things people put their children through, for the sake of "curing" them. You "cure" meat, not children.
I get angry when I read how a mom is going to scope her NT child, because she has a stomach ache. I want to go and rescue that little girl. I want to tell the mother that PERFECT does not exist.
That is what I CAN and WILL write about on MY blog....
Don't like it, Don't read it......

Friday, September 15, 2006


It has come to my attention that my favorite Blogger is considering retiring. I am trying to make an all-out effort to stop this. It feels to me just like when your favorite television show is cancelled.
So, now I am starting a letter-writing campaign.
Those of you who read my blog, and love SOAPBOX MOMS blog, please write her and tell her how important she is to all of us in the Autism community.
I would never have started a blog without her. She is my inspiration to be the best Mother I can be. I need her and her blog.
Soapbox Mom, If you are reading this please consider the following:
1. We need positive role models in the autism community-you are #1.
2. We need parent's of autistic children to know there is a safe place to fall when they realize the biomedical bullshit does not work.
3. We need a place to go and be able to show our views.
4. We need to know that a mother of 5 can remain sane (okay, appear sane), even with autism in the home.
5. We need to show others that autism is so much more than a label, it is the love of a mother like yourself, who adores all of her children and lets us share that love in your writings....

I rest my case.

Love, Jeanette

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The World According to Deirdre....

Our second born child was almost too perfect from the day she was born. She came into the world, very quietly, in a birthing center. No drugs, no screaming....just water and a tub.
I labored quietly for 6 hours. It was very calm.
Deirdre slept through the night the first day she was born. I liked that. The midwives do not. They wanted me to wake her up, during the night, and feed her. I obliged.
Deirdre also did not scream. Our first born was constantly screaming.
Not Deirdre, she actually cooed very early.
By 6 months, she was talking. REALLY.
She was always a bit quirky, but not enough to make us worried. You know, the facial twitches, the flicking of the fingers, the awkward social demonstrations. We just thought she was different.
When our 3rd daughter was 6 years old, they sent home a questionaire about Asperger's for her. As I read through the questionaire, it dawned on me that this was not Erin at all....IT WAS DEIRDRE.
Wow, how did we go 9 years and not realize she was autistic?

We were used to a certain kind of autism, not Asperger's.

We had a pediatric neurologist give her a proper diagnosis, but we were still stunned.
Then it hit us, "Why not Deirdre?"
We had already had 4 others diagnosed by then. Why wouldn't she have autism also? It did not change who she was the past 9 years, it just helped us better understand why she did certain things. Asperger's did not define Deirdre, it just put a footnote on who she is.
Deidre is:
Greek Mythology-She won a National contest last year(no big surprise)
Egyptian Mythology
Greenday-I still have no idea who they are...
The Democratic Party-yes, 2 Republican's can breed a Democrat
World Peace
Green Peace
Blue Jeans and Tee shirts every day of the week

I can honestly say that Deirdre has never given us one bit of trouble. She has been mellow and sweet her whole life. She has found a circle of friends who are a bit like her. A bit off the beaten path. I like these people..they don't let people make them anything they are not. Not too easy for 7th Graders. Such mature guys. I wish I had that ability as a middle-schooler. Would have saved years of angst.

Deirdre is going to go far in life. She knows this and reminds me often...
I do not let her know that I already figured that out.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Dancing With the O'Donnell's

I admit it, I have one very small addictive quality in my life...Okay, 2, but the wine doesn't count.
I HAVE TO watch Dancing with the Stars.
I adore ballroom dancing. Yes, me...the new wave queen of the 1980's. Me, the one with the purple and blue hair. I was trying to look like Superman in the comics. He had black hair with the blue streaks. My hair is so dark ,when they bleached it to put the blue in, it all washed out. I looked like a skunk. But, A cool skunk....
Yet, in the back of my very punk rock mind, was a ballroom dancer.
My children and I love the dancing. We all get up and try our hardest to be just as good (or bad, depending on your point of view) as the stars.
We are AWESOME....

Picture this-
1 extremely devoted mother (who really thinks she can dance), 2 extremely autistic children (led by one really devoted mother), 2 mildly autistic children (completely in their element), 1 Asperger's child (completely not wanting to be with us) and 1 NT child, who is relishing in the fact that she can help, dancing to our heart's content....

Now that is Dancing with the O'Donnell's......
And it is pure HEAVEN.

You Great Big Beautiful Doll....

Erin Michele came into this world 10 pounds, 23 inches of screaming baby. I compared it to giving birth to a toddler. My other babies were not small, but never was I prepared for this.
Erin was gorgeous. She looked like one of those toy babies. Big blue eyes and huge.
Erin cried most of her baby life. Let me change that, she screamed. My husband said that he had never seen such and unhappy baby. Because we already had one diagnosed Autistic child, we thought maybe we should have Erin checked out.
Erin started OT, PT and Speech before her 1st birthday. The therapists loved her. She was a challenge and they were ready. They just did not realize how hard this challenge was going to be.
Erin smeared feces, toothpaste, soap, syrup....anything that can smear, she smeared.
They would put Erin in a big bucket full of pinto beans, she would melt with the pressure. They would roll her up like a burrito in a thin mattress...again, she would melt. They brushed her body and she would get this look of contentment all over her face.
Erin had this therapy until she was 3. She started and Early Childhood program at school. We continued with private therapy outside of school.
Erin struggled to keep her composure at school. She wanted to talk, but just couldn't. Instead...she screamed.

Suddenly, right before Erin's 4th birthday, words came. She started talking and talking. Not well, mind you, but talking she did.
Suddenly, like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon, Erin flew. She started having friends. She started playing with toys. She started to be happy.

She attended regular Kindergarten the next year. She had a hard time with reading. They were going to put her in a reading class the summer between K and 1st grade. Erin did not want this.
Can you believe this little girl taught herself to read.....

She wanted to ride a bike without training wheels....she taught herself, on the grass, in the backyard to ride.

Erin has been fully-inclusioned in regular ed classes since Kindergarten. She has maintained an A average with honor roll every year. I cannot take any credit for this. I give 80 % of the credit to Erin and 20 % to her amazing teachers. Not bad for a kid who tested 74 on an IQ test 4 years ago.
Erin started Girl Scouts this month and became the Teacher's Treasure for all of 4th grade last week. Not an easy honor, I am told.

Erin is a large girl. She stands 5 feet 4 inches. She is 150 pounds. She has dirty blond hair and the brightest, bluest eyes I have ever seen.
Gone is the "saddest child in the world".
Replaced with the "happiest, most loveable, smartest" people I know. I am so thankful that I am blessed with her every day.

One warning though, if you ever get the honor to meet my Erin, brace yourself for the tightest hug you have ever had......I give that credit to her hard-working OT's and PT's for all the deep pressure they gave her early in life. Thanks guys, whereever you are....

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Promises, Promises....

I will admit to the fact that I am slow at catching up with technology. We were probably the last people in our neighborhood to get a computer. We just could not afford one in the beginning.
That is the excuse I use for taking so long to get into the blog thing. I have kept a journal for many years. Keeping track of my children's births and eventual diagnosis with autism. I would love to write a book, eventually.
I started my blog after reading other blogs written by parent's of autistic children. I have chosen a few favorites and visit them often.
Most of the blogs I visit share my views on autism. Some do not, some believe GFCF diets, chelation and biomedical interventions will save their autistic children.
When I comment, I am told basically that if I have "not been there, or done that", that I should keep my opinions to myself. Now here is my voice in that opinion:
We have been there and done that. Remember, we have been with autistic children for 15 years. We were told, by several doctors and clinics, that they were going to help or "save" our children.
Some promised cures and some miracles.
Some promised this would be of "no cost to our family".
Some promised my children would become "normal".

When it came time for these "doctors" to produce the promises, they could not deliver. When I have asked several times, of one famous doctor and his staff, to show me proof of "cures" and "recoveries" with his prescriptions of cocktails, he never returned my phone calls. If I had little faith in him, he could not help us. Oh, Please.......
One well-known "doctor" and his cohort walked into my home. His words were, "I know I can help your family". We will supply the food, medical interventions, etc. They even told us they had to remove all the old appliances from our kitchen and get new ones...we could not have remnants of wheat anywhere.
Needless to say, when it came time to start all of these things, the story changed. There was a "misunderstanding". They did give me 3 cases of bread, bagels and cookies. All which tasted like glue.
The lady in charge told me her son was fully-recovered and attended regular classes at a regular school. Her son in actuality, attends a private school for autistic children and is still labeled autistic. He attends CARD programs and ABA therapy sessions. She is a person who has a hard time telling the truth.

I would never tell anyone how to raise their children. I would never give false hope to any family. But, I would welcome anyone into my house to see how acceptance works in helping an autistic child.
We have 2 children who will always be autistic. But, I can PROMISE they will always be accepted for who they are and what they become as they reach adulthood.
We have 2 children who have become so much better, without any interventions. These children are in regular classes at a regular school and are indistinguishable from the peers. I can PROMISE them that they can become whatever they want in life, and we will stand behind them.
I have a child with Asperger's Syndrome. This came to us later in her life as a diagnosis. This one crept up on us. We shook our heads and said, "Why the hell not?". She is the one who loves Greek and Egyptian books. She taught herself the violin and loves to sing in the choir. She has come so far in 12 years. I can PROMISE she will impress everyone some day.
I have a NT child. She is as precocious as any other 8 year old girl. Sometimes that is more challenging than any autistic child. She has alot on her little plate and we give her the opportunity to soar. I can PROMISE her that she will never be anyone but her own person. She will be a very patient and caring person, and that is also a PROMISE.

As a parent, you will do anything to help your children. We did try, but eventually the light bulb went off in our heads. Our children are okay as they are. They all have come a long way, and will go a long way more. They will teach us and other's how to treat them and other's with autism. They deserve as much respect as anyone else. They let themselves heard and they let you hear it loud. And if the point does not get across, they have their parent's to back them up.
Now, my friends, that is a PROMISE........

Thursday, September 07, 2006


I do not know if many of you know this, or if any of you know this....I do not go around and tell people we were in USA Today or on Good Morning America last year. It seemed like it did no good.
We were asked to be interviewed for USA Today. The photographer spent 2 days with us. The reporter spent about 3 hours total. When the photographer left our house, he had tears in his eyes. He thanked us for letting him come into our home. He said, and I quote, "He had never seen a family with so much love".
That seemed odd to me. We are just a normal family, in my eyes.
In our neighbors eyes, we are "the weird family"....
Any who, Diane Sawyer had read the USA Today story and wanted our family on for an Amazing Family story...well, they filmed in May of last year. It did not air until August 16, 2005. That was after a 2 month delay . I learned alot about media...more than I wanted.
Please understand that I am not complaining. Good Morning America was wonderful..they totally undersood our family. They showed us in the light that we are. We do not complain, bicker, fight, or beg.
The reason we decided to do it is so people would know that a family can survive and flourish with autism.....
From both stories, the USA Today and GMA, I will tell you what phone calls I received. Yes, we are listed.
I got calls from a group in California who said that if I bought their biomedical formula, I could "cure" all of my children, I got a call from someone who wanted me to send them x amount of dollars to "save" my children, I got a call from the SON RISE Foundation who said they would give me and my husband a seminar that usually costs $2000.00 each. We just had to get airfare (not easy to do, by the way), and the most amazing thing, a doctor in California who wanted to study our family, but we had to pay the way........
I happily declined all.
Obviously, the point of our story did not come across. I guess they do not think that a family with an autistic child, let alone 5, could really be happy and secure. That we came across so pathetic that we need to "cure" our children.
I play back the tape of GMA and re-read the USA Today story and even the local story done about us in THE AUSTIN AMERICAN STATESMAN (yes, a shameless plug). What I read is a family that is so proud and amazed at what God has given us as gifts. That we expect no less from our children than that of any family given "normal" children. That we are a strong unit and no one can break us.
Why could others not see the same thing?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

They Call Me The Fireman.....

Yeah, that's my name. If you don't know any old George Strait songs, this will only be funny to me.
As I sit here typing, I am adorned by a plastic child's fireman hat. Why, might you ask?....Good question.
My youngest son, who usually leaves me alone in peace, as he watches his Barney and Wiggles videos on HIS television is insisting I wear this hat. I have tried to remove it several times, but it gets gingerly placed back on the top of my head.
I am proud to say that it does fit my rather large adult head.
Another thing that the little bugger is hiding from me.....I was told today that he is spelling words with the refridgerator magnets, at school. Here at home, he likes us to think he doesn't have a clue. Less to do that way, I guess.
I was told he writes Mama, when he is sad and Dada, when he is happy. I don't even want to know why....That could hurt my feelings.
I was told that he types, on the computer, where he wants to go on the internet. Here , it takes one of us to do the typing for him.
At school, he will nicely put his food on a plate and eat it. Here, he dumps the food all over the floor. Picking up the pieces he wants to eat. This drives my mother crazy. I try to ignore it. The 5 second rule, ya know.
At school, he will take his blankie, go lay down on his mat, and take a quiet time. At home, we are lucky if he goes to bed by midnight.
Don't get me wrong, I am glad he loves school so much. I am glad they spoil him and hug him and love him. I love that they brag about him as if he were their own. I am glad they gleam when they tell me his day and "guess what Kiernan did today? ".
Since I volunteer at school, I get to peek in on him and they really do adore him. That makes it much easier for me. I know, he is my youngest, but I don't care. It does not matter. It doesn't get any easier to let the youngest one go.
I look at him with the same eyes I looked at my oldest, Caitlin with. The difference is that I am a much calmer, more patient mother. I don't worry that he will be autistic forever. I don't worry that he won't have friends. I don't worry that he won't go to high school, or college. I know that he will have that potential.
The good thing about having so many children, autistic or not, is that I have learned that many personalities can live together in one home. That we can disagree, argue, fight, love, and genuinly know that no matter what, I will have your back and you will have mine.
Kiernan is lucky to be the youngest. He gets the knowledge we have all learned from being a big family. He gets the knowledge the teacher's have learned from his siblings and other's like them.
Kiernan's teachers get the little boy who loves to draw and write. They get the little boy who plays matchgame and does it perfect every time.
But, there is one thing they do not get......
They do not get to be The FIREMAN......

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Beauty Inside....

I am watching my oldest daughter from our front window. It is raining, not her favorite thing. But, she has come a long way from the little girl who would cringe with the sound of thunder.
She is standing outside waiting patiently for her bus. She does not like to wait. Since it is raining, the bus will be late. She keeps coming to the window to peer inside to check the time. She is a stickler for time, always has been.
I watch her with awe. 13 years ago, I did not know what was to become of her. I was told "autism" and basically, "Good luck to ya"....
The doctors did not have much knowledge with autism. Remember, it was 1 in 2500. You were told to go to the neurologist. The neurologist sent you to the OT, PT, and Speech therapists. I believe these people saved her life and gave us the door to better things. There were no groups, with the exception of Autism Society of America, and Dr. Rimland's group Autism Research Institute.
My husband and I went to the downtown library every Saturday and checked out the minimal books on autism. I read them all. They did not have very positive words in those books. They basically prepared you to have your child packing for a group home or state institution. Neither of which was an option in our home.
Caitlin was non-verbal and occasionally she would get some words. She would lose them eventually, but we were used to that. She had her fits in the grocery store and restaurants. We would graciously leave when these happened. No big deal....could you put this in a to-g0 box for us......
We were forever told, what a gorgeous child. It is a shame she will never know how beautiful she is. Or, my favorite, "at least she looks normal".
The sad part of all that people see is that they do not see the "beauty" inside of Caitlin. They see her amazing hazel eyes. They see her gorgeous long brown hair, which she refuses to let me cut. They see her laughing out of context. They hear her buzzing "like a bee" ( as Caitlin calls it ). They see her flapping when happy, or biting her hand when she is upset.
She is the most hilarious person I know. She loves to laugh. She loves to jump, flap, dance and sing. She just does not like it when you join in. She loves the 80's music. That is the only music I know, but I am not allowed to sing with her. I have to lip-sync. She knows the singer and song to every song ever written. She knows all movie titles, stars and years. She knows every make and model of every vehicle ever made. She can tell by looking at the side of a car. She is the smartest person I have ever met. She makes A's and B's on her report card. Always on the honor roll. She was invited to be in the National Junior Honor Society. They did not choose her. She did not have enough extracurricular--ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
But, most people will never know.
I am proud of all of our children. I relish them all. They all give me so many different things in my life.
But, it is Caitlin who made me the mother I am.
Caitlin taught me how to change a diaper...sad, but true.
Caitlin gave me my patience during her crying fits.
Caitlin gave me my hugs when I would be sad.
Caitlin taught me that it is okay to make her chicken, rice and corn every night ( see the carb connection ?)
Caitlin taught me how to be her advocate at school and in life.
Caitlin gave me the opportunity to see that Autism was not a death sentence.
Caitlin let me see the beauty inside of her.....
Now I am sharing it with you.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Just Take A Deep Breath.....

After a day of getting way too involved in an Autism Forum, I am going to bring it to my blog. My place where I can say what I wish, without having to worry about "hurting anybodies feelings".... Here it goes....
When a well-meaning friend of mine calls me and tells me that she has met a woman in line at the grocery store, or the bank, or anywhere else that has a newly-diagnosed autistic child and would I mind talking to them. This happens often and with more than one well-meaning friend. I always tell them yes, I will talk with them, but they will not like what I have to say.
What I have to say is:
1. Sit back and just take a deep breath
2. Everything you have imagined about your child has just taken another course.
3. It is not a bad thing that your child is autistic, just not what you had expected.
4. It is okay to cry about it. Then get over it and carry on. This child will bring you so much pleasure, you cannot even imagine.
5. Do not, and I repeat, do not compare your child with others. Do not compare milestones, they vary so much anyway.
6. Do not accept pity from other well-meaning people. Especially do not accept pity from good friends and relatives. That just makes this a great big pity-party. Your child does not need this and neither do you.
7. Please look at all sides of the picture. Do not jump into treatments and therapies without looking at all the positives and negatives. Just because a doctor says to do it, you are still the parent.
8. If you cannot afford it, don't make yourself broke to do it.
9. Do not stress the small stuff. If your child is having a bad day, don't take it as defeat, take it as a bad day. We all have them.
10. Do not ever let someone make you think you are not a good parent, because you do not agree with what they want you to do with your autistic child. This is your child and you have to do what is best for you and your family.

We have lost many friends who did not want to stick around for the ride. We have lost many family members who found it to difficult to cope with. My husband and myself have formed a union that is an amazing thing. We are committed to these children and to each other. We are going to make sure nothing holds them back from being who they are and who they want to be.
We do all activities according to what mood what children are in. Some can handle birthday parties, some cannot. We take turns taking them to events and staying home with whomever wants to. This is not an inconvenience, just an adjustment.
Raising one child with autism is hard enough. Raising five with autism does not seem any harder to me. Remember, we had one at one time and we know how hard that can be. She is the child who taught us patience, courage, dignity and how to respect who she is. She is the child who taught us it is okay not to change the others. She is the child who made us better parent's than we would ever have been without her. She is the child who is now going to be the adult who makes everyone better.
Now, I will take my own advice.
I will sit back and take a breath....maybe with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.....