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, December 29, 2007

IN MEMORY OF BOEY....


On Thursday, our son turned 8 years old. 8 is an amazing age....you think that
your child's life will never end.
Today, I found out that our friend, Janessa "Boey" Byers, an amazing little
girl, passed away. She was also 8 years old.
Boey was lovingly known as the "Cancer Warrior"...she was battling a rare
form of childhood cancer. She went into remission once, and we were praying
for the same results again. Instead, her body gave in and after receiving brain
surgery, she passed away from pneumonia on Friday 12/28/2007.
I cannot imagine how horrible Rachel, Rob and the two boys feel.

This family, the Byer's family, received the Extreme Makeover House in July.
Their show was aired in October. They are from Corvallis, OR.
When Boey was diagnosed in 2006, this little girl took cancer by the horns and
did not just lay around and do nothing....no, she fought back and even has a Childhood
Cancer Bill waiting to be signed in DC.

Please everyone, say a prayer for this amazing family tonight. They will need all
the stregnth they can to get through this. One of Boey's brother's has Asperger's and
is probably having a tough time with this...as is the rest of the family.

Rachel and Rob, please know that you guys are in our prayers.

I know Boey was an Angel in life....I am for sure she is one in death.

Love,
Jeanette

Thursday, December 27, 2007

THE FACE OF 8.....




Our oldest son turns 8 today...HAPPY BIRTHDAY PATRICK....
Patrick has come so far in his 8 young years. At the age of 18 months, he was
diagnosed with Autism. By the time he was 6 years old, he was indistinguishable
from his peers.
No, we did not use any magic "potions"
Patrick was born 2 days past his due date...he was induced because he was getting
so big. He was 9 lbs 4 oz. at birth.
I was so proud to give birth to my first born son.
As he started reaching his milestones, I noticed that there were things he could not
do. He cried alot, from birth. He played with objects, not toys.
Being that Patrick was our 5th born and we had already had 2 other children
diagnosed with Autism, we felt we were on the "road to Autism" yet again.
I was already pregnant with Kiernan by this time...
We immediately brought in an Early Intervention team of Physical, Occupational, Play and Speech Therapists. So, from the young age of 12 months to 3 years...school age....Patrick
had intensive therapies. He was seen daily by these wonderful therapists. 4 hours each
day.
By the time Patrick was 2, I enrolled him in the local churches Mom's Day Out..He attended
with an aide. Patrick needed the peer interactions and was thriving around kids his own age.
At 3 years old, he began the Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities at our local
elementary school. Since then, Patrick has become inundated with the finest teacher's at
that school.
He has been loved and nurtured. He has been treated as an equal, if not as a role model.
You see, this young man has never, ever had any behavioral problems at school. He is the
epitamy of what a "good" student should be.
His teacher now is Mrs. Mary Hutka....she adores him and we adore her.
Mary Hutka is what every teacher should be...attentive, loving, and firm
when these little buggers need it.
Patrick is one of her "star" students....never a card change....NEVER.
Little Patrick was once labeled "the worse case of Autism they have ever seen" to
being the "indistinguishable from his peers".
If you are around Patrick for a small amount of time, you will begin to notice
some of his "autistic" tendencies.....his inability to tolerate anything wet and cold
on him..that is a problem with fingerpainting.
His shower issues...not water on his head...that is a problem with hairwashing.
The way he says his s, sh, th, f and p sounds....he is doing great in speech, but has
a long way to go.
Patrick DOES NOT have the Autism label at school. He never needed the label.
He does have the label with the neurologist, pediatricians and outside therapies.
At school, Patrick is just another student.....
At home, he is the best son a mother and father could ask for.
WE love you Patrick and HAPPY BIRTHDAY.....

Thursday, December 20, 2007

JUST BRING THE MIRACLE BACK...

I just went up to have a discussion with our oldest daughter, Caitlin.
Caitlin is a severely autistic 16-year old girl. Lately, she has become extremely
philosophical.

Tonight she said, "Jane, she died one year ago Christmas"..
"Yes", I said.
Caitlin replied, "this Christmas WE BRING THE MIRACLE BACK".
I replied," Jane is not coming back"...
Caitlin said, "OOHHH"....

You see, Jane was a dear friend of mine...and Caitlin loved her.
Jane died of lung cancer on Christmas Day last year.
Jane was so happy that she was alive to see our new home...she was the
first person I let see it.
She whispered in my ear, "I held on for you Jeanette"....and I knew that.

I miss her greatly...what makes me more proud is that I had a friend so
wonderfully great, that my daughter misses her too.....

Jane would be so proud of Caitlin....

I guess we did get our MIRACLE back after all.....


Thanks Jane..and WE miss you alot...

Jeanette

Sunday, December 09, 2007

IN DEIRDRE'S WORDS....

While going through some old files, on the computer that was in our old house, I came across this story Deirdre wrote in 2006. Remember, as you read this, Deirdre is 13 and has Asperger's. I have Deirdre's permission to share this story with you...
She was 12 when this was written...

I am the second oldest of six children. Four of my siblings have some form of Autism. With so much activity in our home, I have to overcome many obstacles.
Autism has always been in our home, since the day I was born. In our home, Autism is the normal. I have learned to understand the many different behaviors that come with Autism. We do not have a boring home. We have a home full of love and acceptance.
I have always felt accepting of my brothers and sisters. Each of them are unique and interesting individuals. Two of my siblings are severely autistic and do not fully understand the concept of my space. I have a hard time with that. I like my alone time and they do not understand that.
Two of my siblings are mildly autistic. They are equivalent to annoying 2-year-old children. I do not have much patience with them, but I do try hard. Sometimes, I get very annoyed with them when they feel the need to get into my personal body space.
Our home is a happy home. My mother and father are loving and care very much for each of us. We feel safe and secure. We know that each morning they will be there when we wake up. We also know they will be there each night to tuck us into bed. I feel very lucky to have such a large, loving family.
In our large family, alone time is very hard to come by. I have to sneak away into my sisters room to find alone time. I can lock the door and no one can bother me. I find time to be alone and listen to my music and go on the computer. I find time to do my homework. This is time I really need to gather my thoughts.
I get some activities that are all mine. I have choir, orchestra, and my Confirmation classes. This is the time that I get to spend on me. My family gets to see me when I have concerts. They seem to be very proud of my accomplishments.
The only changes I have to make is the ability to be able to find my time alone. I think I have managed to do this most of the time. I do not expect that will be a common occurrence in our home, but I do the best I can.
My Mom and Dad try to keep our home as "normal" as possible. They work very hard to make our family as typical as it can be. Autism in a home can be disruptive. I have never felt that, because it has always been what is around me. I would not know any different.
Last year, I found myself failing math. I was very upset. I struggled with the problems. My mother and father discussed, with my math teacher, and decided that I would stay in the program. I worked very hard and finished the year with a low B average. I remember feeling so proud that I could take an F and make a B. I knew I was capable and I proved it.
The first report card of this year was all A's. I have proven to myself and to my family that it is possible to overcome the obstacles of our home to make good grades. I hope to continue to make higher grades. I love to learn. I am hoping to learn so much more.
I do not know if I would change anything. I do not know how my life would be if I did not have Autism in my family. I would assume our home would not be much different. I imagine my parent's would treat us all the same no matter if we had Autism or not.
Since this has always been a part of my life, I do not know how I would be if all of my siblings were what is considered normal. I do not know if I would change them if that was possible. My sisters and brothers are all unique in their own way. They each bring a special quality to our home. I hope that I can say the same about me.
I try to include my siblings in everything I do. I try to bring them into conversations, play and everyday life. I hope that I have made an impact in their lives and they can depend on me for important occurrences in their lives. I hope they know that no matter what, I will be there for them.
My parent's have raised all of us to know that they will always be there no matter what. They have taught each of us that we are individuals and we are to always do our best. My parent's have made each of their children know they can achieve anything we want to achieve.
I hope to continue and grow and overcome all of the obstacles that occur in my life. I know with what I have faced so far, I should not have any trouble with this goal. I know, through living and growing up in my home, that all I will want to do in my life is possible.
Deirdre O'Donnell

I read this this for the first time, as I was typing it for the blog.....
I am speechless...and that does not happen very often.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

CHAPTER ONE.....

Caitlin will be 17 years old in February of 2008. She was diagnosed with Autism in August of 1993. She was 2 1/2 years old. So, I have been the parent of an Autistic child for almost 17 years.
I knew, from birth, that Caitlin was going to need extra care. I saw it in her eyes.
She screamed from the moment she was born, until she was about 5 months old. Then, the screaming stopped......overnight.
I was a new mom at the ripe old age of 30. I still had no idea how to deal with a baby. I was clueless. Caitlin taught me alot....patience, love, and most of all understanding.
When she was around 10 months old, we moved from NYC to my home town of Austin, Tx. It was a big move for all 3 of us. During this time, I began to notice that Caitlin did not try to talk or communicate with us. I brought this up to the pediatrician we had found in Georgetown, Tx....recommended by my sister.
At 15 months, we questioned the doctor AGAIN about Caitlin's lack of words. The pediatrician told us that we were "DOING TOO MUCH FOR HER, MAKE HER ASK FOR THINGS"....Are you kidding me????
When I got home that day, I reached for our phone book. On the back cover was an ad for a doctors referral. I called the number and was referred to a new pediatrician. I called, he took our insurance, so I made an appointment.
At the age of 18 months, this new, young, very intune doctor said, "I AM CONCERNED THAT YOUR DAUGHTER IS NOT TALKING......" Bingo. We had found our doctor.
We were referred to a neurologist (whom we saw yesterday....15 years we have been going to him), a speech therapist, a physical therapist and a behavior therapist.
The neurologist told us, "I believe your daughter has Autism"....WHOA....!!!!!
I had dealt with Autism as a teenager while babysitting. I had worked with young autistic teens in college at a residential treatment center....I said to this doctor, "Do you mean she is retarded?"....The neurologist looked at me and said (in a very stern voice)..."I did not say that, I said your child is possibly Autistic".
I was in a fog for the rest of the day.

I then made it my mission to read every book there was to read on Autism. My husband, Caitlin and myself went to the big "downtown" library every Saturday. Remember, this was 1993, there were not that many books on Autism.
We did not have a computer, and for that, I am grateful. I did not have the ability to "Google" autism and receive false hope and promises.
Instead, I was given the only ability I had...to parent a child who happened to be given a diagnosis of Autism.

Caitlin has taught me that her diagnosis does not take away from the fact that we have to be parent's to her. We did not allow her to throw fits in restaurants and stores....we removed her and took her home. She had many temper tantrums at that age. She smeared her poop and other things all over her room. She would take out every piece of clothing, from her drawers, and throw them all over the room.
I remember waking up one morning. While walking down the hallway, I smelled the sickly smell of something really sweet. As I opened Caitlin's bedroom door, I witnessed birthday cake smeared from one side of her room to the other. It took me over 8 hours to clean that room that day.....I was not happy.

As Caitlin started public school, there were no options but inclusion. I am so happy about that now, but then, it scared me. How can this non-verbal, unfocused child sit with "normal" children?
It is possible with the help of amazing educators and therapists. It can be done with the acceptance of the parent's of these NT children....which through the years I have noticed that most of these children are far from "normal".
From Kindergarten on up, Caitlin has been loved and nurtured by her classmates. There is the occasional bully, but bullies are few and far between. I have taught all of my children to ignore those that make it a point to try to demean others. Most bullies will leave you alone if you do not add "fuel to their fire", so to speak.

Fast forward to 2007...Caitlin is a well-adjusted, almost 17 year old young woman. She makes straight A's in school. She still requires an attendant and Speech and Occupational Therapies. She still requires assistance at home through Recreational Therapy....
If you would have told me 14 1/2 years ago, on the day she received the diagnosis of Autism, that she would be the amazing person she is today, I would have thought you were out of your mind.

Please know, Caitlin's story is not over....it is just beginning. She has so much further to go in life. She has so much to share and I will help her to do this.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

THANKSGIVING 2007...


Wow, what a difference a year makes.
Last year, at this time, we lived in a 2200 square foot home, full of mold and a cracked foundation.
This year, we have been blessed with a 4600 square foot home.....much more space.
We do not take anything that has been given to us for granted. I pray every day and thank the Lord for our blessings.
But, mostly, I thank the Lord for the blessings that are in the picture.
I thank God for Caitlin, Deirdre, Erin, Meaghan, Patrick, Kiernan and little Patrick.
Today, our home will be filled with family and friends. The people who love us with all of our quirks and special gifts. They do not enter our home and find a big old "pity party". They find children playing and laughing.
Isn't that alot to be Thankful for???
Today is a day with turkey, dressing, potatoes, rolls, gravy, cranberry sauce, pies, cakes, green beans, salads, etc....all gluten-filled and homemade with LOVE.
The Austin American Statesman has printed a story about us today...if you want...you can read it here http://www.statesman.com/news/content/news/stories/local/11/22/1122autism.html.
Wishing all of you a very safe and HAPPY THANKSGIVING.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

ON MY HONOR.....



I gave birth to this beautiful little boy on 12/27/99.....he was my first born son and stole my heart.

He was diagnosed with severe autism on 3/20/02....the worst case they have ever seen.

With much love from his family, his teachers, his therapists and our amazing friends...this little boy is the model of a well-behaved child. He has straight A's..fully inclusioned with no more than a speech delay on his IEP... He does not even qualify for Special Education....Oh, and all without any biomedical interventions OF ANY KIND.....

I do not need to say any more...Just look.....






Wednesday, October 10, 2007

ACCEPTANCE...

I have been trying for a while to understand why it is so damn difficult for Society to accept our Autistic Children. I have insisted upon inclusion for my children, with much success, because I believe if you alienate an Autistic child in a specialized "autistic" program...not only will that child continue their behaviors, they will pick up the behaviors of others.
I believe if a child with Autism is included with the "normal" child in a traditional educational setting, they will pick up socially appropriate behaviors....I have proof it works.

Since Ms. McCarthy and Dr. Kartzinel have decided to tout Autism and Autistic children as less than what is acceptable to not only their own parent's but the doctors that treat them...namely DAN! doctors....then how can we expect anyone else out there to respect our children.

I have made this my mission, for the past 16 years, to let our children be inclusioned in their educational and community settings. It has taken me many years to get where we are as a family in our community. It has taken one very irresponsible "actress" and a "doctor" who will make a butt-load of money to bring down ACCEPTANCE a notch.....

I have written every news station, every talk show, every major television station, every news program and pleaded with them to show Autism at its finest.....less the doom and gloom....less the drama of head-banging, screaming, temper tantrum, bloated belly, mercury induced hysteria......
I have pleaded with them to show the beauty of our amazing, gifted, talented, funny, beautiful children and young adults with Autism......

Guess what?????
Not one response....
Are you surprised????

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Message to Dr. Jerry Kartzinel...























Dr Kartzinel,

You wrote in Jenny McCarthy's book...."Autism, as I see it, steals the soul from a child; then, if allowed, relentelessly sucks life's marrow out of the family members, one by one."

You, sir, owe each of these wonderful, amazing, gifted, talented, lovable, loving, soulful children an apology.

These children DO NOT realize there are people out in the world, such as yourself, who do not feel they are of any value....how sad for your own child that your own wife would state, "YOU BROKE HIM, now you fix him!"....

My children are not broken, they are whole, peaceful, non-violent, non-headbanging, non-meltdown children. These children with Autism can sit in a classroom and focus and maintain honor roll grade averages without the interventions you make so much money from.

I do not believe you or Ms. McCarthy understands the ramifications you have created with the injustices you speak about our Autistic children. Now, millions of people who were not sure of what Autism entails have a distorted view of Autism because of you and Ms. McCarthy's insensitive wording.

SHAME ON BOTH OF YOU !!!!








































Saturday, September 01, 2007

MAKES ME HAPPY....








Kiernan, our 6-year-old ball of energy was bouncing on a ball this evening. I must describe how he bounces on this ball.....it is an exercise ball..he falls back on it and bounces, then he bounces forward. Now, he does this over and over...he does not miss a beat. This activity defies gravity, but Kiernan does it without a hitch. While doing this, Kiernan buzzes like a little bee. He loves doing this. Our 9-year-old, Meaghan, looks at me and says, "Now, doesn't that just make you Happy?".... Indeed it does Meaghan....INDEED IT DOES !!!!!













Wednesday, August 22, 2007

RIGHT ON TARGET...

I was out shopping today at Caitlin's favorite store...Target. I was buying last minute items for school. Caitlin's shoes...which she is so picky about, Meaghan's undies, and socks for the boys.
We were recognized a handful of times by some other shoppers. They congratulated us on our new home and told us how beautiful our children are.
Upon checking out, I noticed a tall young man in front of me. He wanted a soda. The young lady with him told him he had enough sugar for the day and could have water. He shook his head up and down in agreement.
This young woman then asked the young man to move forward so I could put my items on the belt. He obliged. He then started to smile, then giggle, then flap his hands in front of his face....
Ah...AUTISM.

I asked the young lady how old he was. She told me 16. I asked what grade...she told me 10th...
Exactly like Caitlin.
I turned around and Caitlin was giggling and flapping her hands in a very similar way as the young man.

When we were leaving the store, Deirdre asked me if the young man I was speaking with was autistic. I told her yes. She said, "I thought so, because he acted alot like Caitlin".

It pleases me to see these young adults out in public. Not wearing their pants so low that you can see their butts...not yelling obscenities at each other....not needing to defy authority in any way, shape or form....
Just young people happy to be at one of their favorite stores...lightly buzzing and flapping their hands. Two 16 -year old teens behaving and waiting their turns until they will be rewarded with a cold drink.

I realize people want more for their children. I do too. I expect all of my children to attend college. They do not have to attend Yale, but Harvard would be nice.
I expect them all to contribute to society in whatever they are capable of doing. I would expect this if they were not autistic...so this label does not stop me from wanting the same results from them.

School starts Monday...
Caitlin-10th grade
Deirdre-8th grade
Erin-5th grade
Meaghan-4th grade
Patrick-2nd grade and
Kiernan-1st grade.

These children will be expected to remain on the honor roll, have great behaviors at school and continue their extracurricular activities.

So far, we are RIGHT ON TARGET.....

Sunday, August 19, 2007

EXTREME MAKEOVER HOME EDITION...The Update...

Tonight at 7pm Central time, they will be reairing our Extreme Makeover Home Edition episode. When it originally aired in February, we had 75 people here with us....the builder and his wife, teacher's, therapist, the local ABC station, neighbor's and many friends. Also, my mother.
I have been thinking all day about how my family's life has changed so much from the door-knock day on December 10, 2006.

1. We have an amazing new house and furnishings. We were blessed to have been given Jimmy Jacobs as our home builder. He put so much love into the building of this house. He is a man of great faith, and it is impermeated in our home.
2. We have less debt. Not debt-free by any means, but much less debt.
3. We have great new people in our lives. This is good for our family. You see, we don't have many family members involved with our family. My sister is overcome with her own life...we had a falling out a couple of years ago. Long story...no need to bring it up right now.
My brother comes over for holidays..that is probably a good thing. My mother is great, but she is 70 and can only handle so much.
Patrick's family has never been in the picture since his Daddy died in 1997....that was his lifeline to his family.
We have made our family. This includes many people who were "hand-picked" so to speak. These are people we have met through fate that we have invited to be in our family. Lucky for us, they have obliged us with their amazing presence. These are all kinds of personalities. These are people who bring light and joy into our home.....that is what we needed.
4. We have been exposed, so to speak, to other's who seek our advice on parenting. I love the limelight....my husband does not. He gives me the microphone....I take it willingly.
5. Our children have become a year older, and with that they are showing us amazing gains in their personalities and their lives. They are more confident with their peers and happier than they have ever been. Kiernan has decided that "more, Mama" needs to be his only Phrase right now...it gets him what he wants.

There is absolutely no way we could ever thank everyone involved with our Extreme Makeover. From the first set of producers..Quintin and JD...to the second...Andy...to the third...Herb...to the fourth...Mark. From the amazing design team of Ty, Tanya, Paulie, Eduardo and Paige. From all of the many, and I mean many, behind the scenes producers and directors, gaffer, gofers, caterers, lighting, makeup, etc people who gave up the week before Christmas to make our home.
To the people who put up our Christmas tree and Christmas lights so we could have Christmas.
To the many restaurants who donated gift cards and year long meals....extremely grateful from this mother of 6.

What you will see, or have seen is 45 minutes of a miracle...but in reality it has lasted all year long. You will see the things that were chosen to be on television. You will not see the many hours we spent with ski instructors in Crested Butte, Co. You will not see the way my children were skiing on the first day in Colorado. Note: my children were skiing..not their mother.
You will not see the over 1000 persons who labored night and day for 106 hours to get a house built for a family they did not know. We have since received a behind-the-scenes documentary about the build of our home. The interviewed many of the people who worked on our house. These people were a gift to us.

To this day, I get stopped at least once a day and told that we have an amazing family.
I knew this all along...
Now I am happy to share it with everyone else.....AGAIN.

Friday, August 03, 2007

PLAYING FAVORITES...

I have been going to the same grocery store for 11 years now, since their Grand Opening 11 summers ago...

At check out the other day, Lucy, one of my favorite checkers asked me if I had a favorite child....she has never had a child, so does not know the bond of a mother and her children...

I answered, " Lucy, picking a favorite child would be like picking my favorite George Strait song....cannot be done"...

Let's see,

Amarillo by Morning, The Fireman, Baby Blue, Check Yes or No, The Chair, Pure Country, Texas Cookin'....man, I just cannot decide. I love them all the same. Each song has a special place in my brain for the first time I ever heard it.


I would probably pick Amarillo by Morning, because that was the first song I ever heard George sing live....


We could go hear him sing for $1.00 per person. Free beer for ladies. Not good beer, but FREE beer....means alot to a college student.

George was humble even back then. He would pose for pictures and sign autographs. The bigger he became, the greater his talent became.

I thank George for alot of memories. Some good, some not so good. But memories I have thanks to George.

Now, back to my children.....

Caitlin..first-born. She taught me how hard it was to be a Mommy..I thank her for that. She paved the way for the rest. She taught me that I do not need to "cure" her, but to teach her to be a person who will succeed in society....she is doing Great.

Deirdre...second-born. This child has NEVER given us a moment of trouble. She has been calm and sweet from the day she was born. She is smarter than any human I have ever met.....she makes me so happy.

Erin...third-born. She made me wake up again with Autism. She was loud from birth, but has blossomed into a sweet and thoughtful little girl. She is loved by all who she comes in contact with. A sweeter soul I have never met.

Meaghan...fourth-born. This child is a red-headed firecracker. She keeps me on my toes and I love it. Ask me again when she is a teen-ager.....hopefully, she will keep me young.

Patrick....fifth-born, first son. No one touches a mother's heart like a son. He grabbed my heart at birth and has not let go. I feel badly for the woman he brings home to marry....let's just say, it won't be pretty....

and Kiernan...sixth-born, last child. This little man will always be my baby. He is gentle of soul, but one non-stop whirl of activity. He will give you a hug and a kiss without a blink, but then, he is gone.....he makes me smile.

So, in conclusion...as you can see, I have trouble picking favorites. I find something wonderful in all of my children. They all bring a different flavor to the table. They complete my soul and fill my heart. I am blessed to have been given the opportunity to have given birth to each and every one of them.


I hope they know this......

I know I tell them.

I AM A PROUD CARD-CARRYING MEMBER OF...

THE NEURODIVERSE.....



Okay, I have said it...

Now, let me start the 12 step program....



1. I will treat my Autistic children with RESPECT....note, I said my Autistic children....

My 13 year old BRILLIANT daughter, who happens to have Asperger's has told me she prefers to be called Autistic, rather than having Autism....

2. I will admit that a power greater than myself made these amazing children who they are and it is beyond my control to try to change them.

3. I will take away the powers of the "pseudo", "quacky" doctors who try to cure my children and let them be the truly gifted children they were meant to be.....
Note: I did not say take away the necessary therapies; ie, speech, occupational, physical and play therapies necessary for the growth and improvement of our autistic children.

4. Morally see that my children are the gifts they were meant to be.

5. Admit to my children that I will never do anything to harm or change them.

6. I am entirely ready to teach them and society to be ready for their gifts.

7. Remind them to be humble and respectful. To be able to behave themselves when out in public. To show the world that Autism is not threatening to society.

8. Make a list of all the "quacks" in the world and do my best to avoid them.

9. Do my best to teach the parent's of newly diagnosed parents know that there is life beyond the initial diagnosis.

10. Continue to stand by my ethics and ignore the negative that is always trying to intrude into our lives....you know who you are...

11. Make sure my children ALWAYS know they were wanted. Not the image of the child I thought I would have, but the gift that stands before me.
Knowing that Autism is not about me as a parent....but about the child in front of me.

and 12. Having known that my child will not only be a vital part of society, but Society will be vital having my children involved.


My daughter Deirdre asked my why every show on Autism is about the parent whining about having an Autistic child. She was devastated when she watched "Autism Every Day" when the mother of a child stated she wanted to drive off a bridge....the child was sitting right there.
Deirdre was confused what Autism had to do with the parent.....
This child is BRILLIANT....

Autism is not about good parenting, bad parenting, grandparenting, etc.

Autism is about accepting a social group of persons who are different than what society considers to be "normal".....
Autism is not threatening to society.
Persons with Autism will teach our society how to be more caring and loving. They will teach us that we do not have to be the same...we are all beneficial...

At least, that is what we are being taught in my home......

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

LIKE IT OR NOT.....

I read many blogs..
Some make me think...
Some make me happy...
Some make me mad....
and some make me really MAD...

Today, I went through my usual blog ritual and came across one that I frequent daily. I will not name this person, because I have not asked permission.
The blog is written by a mother of more than 1 autistic child. These are well-loved and extremely well-cared for children. You can tell this mother loves her children.
Though I may not agree with some of her "biomethods"...I know this mother is a good mother, and in my book, that is really all that matters.

Anyway, she got me thinking about being a mother to an autistic child(ren)...no matter who we are, we are mothers.

16 1/2 years ago, I gave birth to a gorgeous hazel-eyed, brown-headed girl. She was difficult from birth, but I swore I would never let her be unhappy. I have stuck to that promise, though at times, it has been a challenge.
I remember when Caitlin was diagnosed and the feelings I felt...
I will quote from the time of her diagnosis that I wrote in my journal on Feb 13, 1995...

"Caitlin was labeled with Autism on Friday, February 10, 1995. I always knew it, but the reality of Autism hurts.
It affects every cell of my body.
I have always wanted control over my surroundings-and I cannot control Caitlin's AUTISM.
I have read everything I can get my hands on about autism. There is still no comfort.
I want to know my daughter will have a full and useful life-"

I have written almost every day since then in journals....soon to be a book, I HOPE.

I have been through the Anger, Pain, Hurt and Sadness of having a child diagnosed with Autism 5 times. Each time was just as difficult.
Honestly, these emotions took too much of my time....I had children to raise.
But, as these children have grown and matured, I realize that they are amazing and gifted children. They are all individuals with their own personalities.

I do not worry about the causation of Autism any longer....it took too much of my energy and made me very angry and bitter....

I now focus on the future of my children. I focus on making these amazing children develop and grow into equally amazing adults. I need to secure that they will be accepted by society. I need to not only make them ready for society, but society ready for them.
I think we are on the right path.

All of them are fully-inclusioned, except Kiernan....he is attending a life-skills program with partial inclusion-NOT MY IDEA.
Kiernan would be in regular education if it were up to me....it ain't over yet, though.
They attend all social functions and activities.

When they are out in public, the stares and the whispers DO NOT bother me.....I am so damned proud of my children that when this happens, and it is rare, I honestly do not take much notice. I am beaming that my children are as functional in society as they are.

While eating lunch out today with my husband, myself, Erin, Patrick and Meaghan (Kiernan was at school, Deirdre at Confirmation Camp out of state, and Caitlin at home) I noticed 2 small boys running around like little maniacs. They were crawling under tables and running around poles. These were not autistic children, they were very "normal".
The mother's of these 2 hellions were chatting it up...I do not think they looked up one time to see if their children were behaving.
When a patron approached the mother's to please keep their children out from under their table, one of the mother's stated that this is what children do.....
NOT MY CHILDREN! My little lovlies were sitting tall in their chairs eating their lunches and behaving quietly....I was so proud of them.

Don't get me wrong, if someone confronted my children or threatened them in any way...let's just say, it would not be pretty.

So, back to the blog I was writing about, before I got onto my soapbox.....we may not always agree on what the right course of actions are correct for the treatments of our autistic children, BUT when it comes down to it we really do have one thing in common....

We are all mother's to Autistic children--LIKE IT or NOT.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

AND THE SURVEY SAYS....

Okay, now we have a problem.....I read this morning on the Autism Web that they are stating that 1 in 58 children in Great Britain have Autism. Why don't we just say that EVERYONE has a form of Autism?

If the spectrum is going to include OCD, ADD, ADHD, Bi-Polar, Classic Autism, PDD-NOS, ODD, etc...then every human being will fit into the Autism Spectrum.

The world consists of a diverse group of people. Some people are obsessive compulsive...for example, obsessing on every negative story written about Autism or writing about people or groups of people negatively, because they do not agree with you.

Some people are defiant against everything from cooking dinner to opposing the War in Iraq.

I know some adults who are so hyperactive, they cannot sit and enjoy time with their own families.

There are many ADD adults out there who cannot focus on one activity at a time....myself included, although, I am self-diagnosed....

There are children who do not fit into what society calls "normal", so they are given a diagnosis of PDD-NOS....that dx has always ticked me off.....

And I know more undiagnosed Bi-polar people than I can count on both hands and feet.....



There are so many mothers that are medicated with anti-depressants....why the heck do you think your children would not have some sort of disorder, if you yourself do? I am not saying you should not be medicated to control your depression...I am just saying that your child may have the same symptoms you do.....



We have become a society of "LABELS"...we feel the need to put names on people for no reason other than we do not agree with someone.....

I am quite fond of the labels given to me from one lovely Googlywhatever......

"Attention Whore", "moron", "idiot", "nauseating", "free-loading".....
This person, who does not know me from Adam, feels that I use my children to get their checks....big bucks there folks...
That I am a moron for not accepting Dr. Wakefield's help...again, Googly...has no idea what was offered to my family and why this did not come into fruition...but, that is my business with the Thoughtful House, not Googly......
I am an idiot for accepting my children's Autism....we know my stance on that one...but, I question why every child who has had chelation in their rectum now has some sort of bowel disorder?
Nauseating...well, that is a personal choice...I will give that one to them....I can see where this person would find me nauseating, but what I do not see is why they would subject themselves to reading my blog if it makes them "ill".
Attention Whore...you better believe it...if I can educate parent's of Autistic children to learn to embrace their children's diversities and uniqueness, instead of trying to "cure" them...then, more power to ME...
Googly... also states that there is no proof of what I say....
BULL...I have proof right here in my home. I have functioning Autistic children. I have children that are successful in school, the community, church, social activities, and in life. These children are thriving...can you say the same about yours?
What you saw on television was 45 minutes...it was taken out of 100s of hours of video tape. I would love for other's to see how my children handled skiing, plane trips, eating out in public, etc...all, by the way, without one hitch.....(except when Caitlin got sad when her caregiver had to leave early because of a family emergency....she cried because she was really sad...she has come so far).



In our home, the number is 5 in 6 children have a form of Autism. 13 years ago, just 2 would have been diagnosed. But, because the diagnosis criteria has changes so drastically, 5 of our children can fit the diagnosis.



Every person in the world has a uniqueness that makes them who they are. Because society will not conform to these unique people, they feel they must label them.

If everyone fits into the spectrum, then Autism will be the norm and Normal will be the disability.



My questions are:

1. Why are the numbers continuing to rise if the thimerosal has been reduced or discontinued in the process of making the vaccinations?

2. When are they going to go back and start from square 1 on how to diagnose Autistic children?

3. When are people and parent's going to accept that we are all born with amazing gifts that do not always conform to what we want them to be?

4. When are doctors going to stop handing out the diagnosis of Autism like handing out the lollipops or stickers at the end of the visit?

5. When are educators going to learn how to truly educate our children as individuals and not as a group in whole? All children learn at a different pace....ALL CHILDREN.

6. When is the Autism community going to rally together instead of backstabbing, insinuations, and downright negating others on public and private forums? We all have a common bond and need to learn from each other....

So back to the original premise of my post....
In the near future, will everyone be able to have the diagnosis of Autism...?

AND THE SURVEY SAYS.....

Saturday, June 23, 2007

THE EXPERT.....

I would like to thank the Anonymous commenters on my last post for giving me the idea for this post.
First, one of them questioned what made me an expert in Autism....DUH !!!!!
1). I am the mother of 5 Autistic Children.....2 Severe, 1 Aspergers and 2 PDD-NOS. At one time we had 4 severely autistic children. 2 of them are now labeled PDD-NOS.
2). I have been in the "business" of Autism for over 21 years...if you count the 5 years I spent working with them in a residential treatment center...
3). I have PROVEN results my methods of treating autistic children WORK. I have children that can cope in public situations without much trauma. I DO NOT let the excuse that these children have Autism deter away from the fact that they are indeed children who need to be parented.
4). I am now OFFICIALLY a paid lecturer with an Autism Conference under my belt and many more to come.
5). I KNOW Autism...inside and out. I can define it and I can describe it.


To become an expert, one must practice, practice, practice....been there, DONE that.
One must have a familiarity with the problems in this area...been there, DONE that.
It takes 10 years to develop an Expertise in a specific area...been there, DONE that.

An expertise takes time to develop..I have had much time in the area of Autism.
An expert sees the world differently from novices...that is without question.
Experts have skills that novices DO NOT...don't worry, you guys will get the skills required to raise your Autistic children. With maturity, your children will get better. You will learn that your children are amazing people, once you try to stop changing their dynamics.
Expertise is domain specific...

I started this post as a bit of a joke...but as I type on, I realize that it is not funny.
Anonymous cowards find it okay to come onto my blog and disagree with what I write. I am okay with disagreements, but not with people who are too "ashamed" or too "insecure" in themselves to face me for what they disagree with.

Some of you guys question the severity of my children's autism by what you saw on an hour show. With commercials, you had 45 minutes into my very "edited" life.
What you did not see are the hours it took to make sure Caitlin could handle the door-knock, the airplane ride, the limo, the hotels, the resort, the skiing, the ride back, the reveal and the move-in date....
You did not see the hours of time we spent with Kiernan to make sure he was happy and felt secure...
Obviously, we did this correctly.
Not with any medications, I might add.

You did not see Caitlin being told that if she could not handle the crowd, to tell the "amazing" producers and they would quiet the crowd. The crowd was told the same.

You also did not see the way our children were behaved in public. I have always gotten complements on their behaviors, but these children handled the Extreme situation like troopers. They did far beyond what we as parent's expected from them and everyone around us were amazed.

This took many years of working with therapists and teacher's, but boy did it pay off. This also is a testament to my husband and myself as parent's. We love these children with all that they are, including the Autism. If not for the autism, they would not be them.

Now, for the BIG question....
No, my husband has not been diagnosed with autism of any kind. We received alot of comments that people thought he might have autism also. You saw 5 minutes of a man who was interviewed on camera at a very special time. He was nervous. My husband is not the "media whore" I am. I love the camera, he hates it.
If he does have autism, it would not matter. He is a loving husband and father. He works 2 jobs to make sure we are taken care of. HE is the rock this house was built, but he is very unassuming and would like to stay that way.

So, to you naysayers who would like to challenge my EXPERTISE...think again......
To you who claim I pat myself on the back too much...OH WELL...I know I am a good mother and I know these children will excel in all points of life. They may have more hurdles to cross than other children, but that is what I am here for...to guide them over the hurdles.

My job, as their mother, is to make sure they are prepared for the life ahead of them. But, more important, my job is to make sure that life is prepared for them. By doing so, I must prepare Society for the O'Donnell children and others. If we expect Society to accept our children, we must teach our children how to adjust to their Society. This must work on both sides.
I gave birth to 6 children. The Autism label came after they were born. My job is to make sure they are well-adjusted and good people. That is not easy work, but I have been so rewarded by them. I believe Society will be rewarded by them also....stay tuned, they have alot to teach us.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

PARENTING IS NOT SO DIFFICULT....

What is happening to the world of Autism?
There are so many fights going on right now in the world of Autism that if we do not get our act together, no one outside the world of Autism is going to take us seriously.

I am speaking at an Autism conference next week. I am speaking as a mother of 5 Autistic children. Not as a mother of 5 children with Autism. The reason for that....my 13 year old daughter Deirdre explained to me, in very simple terms (because that is what I need) that she wants to be known as a person who is Autistic.
The reason, you might ask......If she is an Autistic person, it is who she was born to be.
If she is a person with Autism, the Autism can be taken away.
That reasoning I can respect.

When I introduce my children, I do not introduce them as Autistic children. My children are individuals who happen to be autistic.
I am lucky, they do not misbehave in public..they learned very early that they would be removed from situations if they could not behave appropriately in public.
Even Caitlin and Kiernan know this.

Just because you have an Autistic child does not give them free reign to disturb others in a public situation. If that was the case, we could allow any person to disrupt any situation.
If you want your Autistic children to be taken seriously, you must take your Autistic child seriously.

How can we prepare our Autistic children for their future and being accepted by society if we allow them, as children, to act inappropriately in public?

Just because your child was given the diagnosis of Autism does not mean you have to stop parenting your child....

Sunday, May 13, 2007

A MOTHER'S DAY....

To some mother's, Mother's Day is waking up in their bed with a tray of freshly made muffins and coffee. On that tray, is a beautiful long-stemmed rose with a Sunday newspaper. This lucky mother is allowed to sit in bed and gingerly read the paper...possibly even allowed to complete the very large Sunday crossword puzzle.
Okay, back to reality.....
I awoke on this Mother's Day to a mess of grated cheese on the floor.....coffee spilled on my counter.....pillow cushions thrown off the couch.....

I realize that some of my fans...the anonymous blog readers....accuse me of being negative about my children. I can assure you, when I write about my children, not one negative thought enters my head. What I write about is the reality of raising 6 children, 5 of whom happen to have been diagnosed with autism.

I have been given a huge responsibility to raise these amazing, gifted children. I have been chosen, so to speak, to make sure these children get the same chances any child in the world should have. My goal is to let my children know they can be whatever they want to be in life and no one or nothing can stop that.
I have the responsibility to teach society that my children belong as much as anyone on this planet and they cannot stop them from achieving any goal they choose to have.
My children have lofty dreams. I assume they get that from me. After all, I was going to marry David Cassidy and John Travolta at one point in my life.

I wake up every morning to 6 beautiful and gifted children....I still am in awe of each and every one of them. They each bring so much to me and our family. They are individually extraordinary, but together, they are magic.

As they grow up and start realizing their own dreams, I will be there to make sure they can achieve their dreams. There is absolutely nothing they cannot accomplish. I have tried very hard to make sure they are aware of this. That has been my job every day....but, it is even more sweet on Mother's Day.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

AUTISM: PURE & SIMPLE

Those that know me are aware that I am a very proud person. I am not brilliant, but by no means am I stupid. I do, after all, hold a high school graduation diploma from Pflugerville High School, class of 1978. I was not the valedictorian, but I was not the bottom of the class of 80 students..
My point...yes, I have a point.
I have been trying, for almost a year now, to keep up with all the scientific mumbo-jumgo on the autism forums. I am now officially giving up on trying to figure out what these parent's of autistic children are fighting about while trying to figure autism out.
I am going to stick with parent's forums who give advice...I mean sound advice on parenting autistic children. Not what supplements to give, or how much DMSA, B12, etc. This conversation has just become to damn depressing for me.
I have better things to do...such as raise the best children I can.
I have no reason to read about the causes or curations of autistic children. After all, I do not do biomedical interventions on my children, so why am I there? Just to get my blood boiling, I assume.
I will let the parent's of these children try to figure out, on their own, what they are looking for.
I have already found the peace I am looking for. I have had 16 years to figure this out.

Autism is not difficult.
Autism is not a disease, but a disorder.
Autistic people do not need to conform to society, but Society needs to conform to Autistic people.
Adult Autistic people need to know they have a purpose in this world. They need to know that we accept them. They need to know that we cannot function without their brilliance and beauty.
Whether they are scientists, artists, math geniouses, parent's , siblings, students or anything else they choose to be.
Autistic adults will be a vital part of our future....I hope that society wakes up and accepts this.
I know, in our house, we did this a long time ago......

Autistic people are truthful, non-judmental, caring, loving, smart, artistic and genuine people.
They expect no more from anyone than what they give..and believe me, they give much more than they receive.
Autistic adults want one thing, They want to belong....PURE AND SIMPLE.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

THE CULT OF NEURODIVERSITY...

For those of you who are new to me and my blog...may I say welcome.
To those of you who have read my blog for a while...may I say Thank You.

Recently, the forums that I read daily have taken a weird turn. The Biomedical community, besides quoting complete whack jobs (so-called authorities) for their "discovery" that autism is Mercury Poisoning (WHATEVER) are stating the the Neurodiverse community is a CULT.
First and foremost, is that the Pot calling the Kettle BLACK or what?

The Neurodiverse DO NOT put every quacky doctor who preaches what they want to believe on a pedestal. The Neurodiverse DO NOT push untested and unregulated medicine into their children's bodies. The Neurodiverse DO NOT resort to horrible name-calling when they are proving the theories of the Biomedical community wrong.

I fell in love with Autism in 1972, when as an 11 year old girl, I was chosen to babysit a 2 year old boy with autism. This young boy was a handful..he did not want to sleep at bedtime, he did not want to keep a diaper on, he did not want to eat.....etc.
As a young girl, I was baffled by what to do....After several nights of babysitting, I came to love watching him and his ways of doing things. This family moved after a year of me babysitting. This little boy would be 35 years old now...God I am OLD.

Next came my job at a residential treatment center when I was 24 years old. I worked with adolescent autistic teenage girls. These girls were very much like my Caitlin. They would jump up and flap, they would covet their items, they would rock and stim...the only problem was, they were heavily medicated. That is what they did with these children in the 1980's. They did not realize they could educate these amazing children. The doctors wrote them off as mentally retarded....I knew better. These girls would be in their early 30's now.....God I am really OLD.

Then finally, came my real awakening into Autism.
16 years ago, I gave birth to Caitlin. What mother would not be in awe of this brilliant child.
Yes, she did not talk until she was 9 years old....maybe, she had nothing to say. She walked by 9 months and played with her toys...maybe, not the way a Biomedical person would want their child to play, but in the way Caitlin wanted to play.
Caitlin always did things a bit differently. In ballet class, she would be in the circle, but face the opposite direction. This was okay, because she was participating...according to the teacher.
In gymnastics, Caitlin was in the boy's group....she did better there.
In art class, Caitlin excelled. She does drawings that Pollack would be proud to call his own. She has caught the eye of many an art dealer. I have only had the heart to sell one of her portraits.

Caitlin led the way to how we treat all of our autistic children and our NT child. Caitlin let us know that she was happy, healthy, alert, smart, artistic, athletic, gifted and brilliant....
Caitlin let us know that she was not a label, but a thriving human being.
Caitlin has enabled us to have the knowledge and foresight to raise our other children to be the best they can be....

I am so proud to be part of the Neurodiverse community....I am sure my children will be welcome with open arms....now that is a CULT I can live with.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

THE LABEL MAKER....

I was concerned after the shootings at Virginia Tech that the media would somehow blame the shooter by labeling him "autistic". Lo and behold, it happened.
After reading the shooter's families comments, I realized they "labeled" this young man a very long time ago. He never had the family support to make it in this world from the beginning of his existence.
Once we label a person, they then become what we have named them.

If I carried around a labelmaker, I could label every person I see. The only problem is, I would label them differently than you....

I see people differently than you see people. We all have our perceptions and they are all unique. I look in the mirror and see a totally different person than the one you look at. People with autistic children cannot even agree on the label of autism. Some call it PDD-NOS, some call it "mercury poisoning", some parent's have to add additional labels to their children's diagnosis of autism (such as autism with ADD, ADHD, OCD, whatever. That one really chaps me.

When my children were labeled "autistic", in no way did this change my view of these children. The label of autism just defined some of their behaviors, not who they will become in life.
The label of "autism" did not define them...being autistic does not make them any less amazing than they were before the label.

We need to get rid of the labels society has placed upon people. Once we rid ourselves with these labels, every person will be on the same playing ground. People will not become destined to be something they do not have to be. The world will have less to hate about people who are like them-unlabeled.

When I look at my children every morning, I do not see a label upon them. But, if I did, this would be what I would label them-if I carried around a labelmaker....

Caitlin-perfection
Deirdre-perfection
Erin-perfection
Meaghan-perfection
Patrick-perfection
Kiernan-perfection


Saturday, March 24, 2007

THE INSANITY OF IT ALL...

Okay, It has finally happened, the select group of Biomedical Mama's (the BM's), as I like to call them, have lost their ever-loving minds.
Just this week, on this particular autism forum, this select group of 3 BM's have cited 2 doctors as the know-all and be-all of autism. It just so happens, with a little research (and I mean very little research), you find out both of these "doctors" have in fact lost their licenses to practice medicine. One of them has even lost the right to raise their own child.
The scary part is that these BM's would allow these "doctors" to treat their autistic children.....

Also, I see that the man who loves to hate autism is blaming Mr. Leitch for the death of a young man in Tucson.....I am beginning to worry alot about this hater of autism. He needs some help and quickly.

Now, how can these parent's ever think they can begin to help their autistic children if they are listening to every quack out there. Are they at the point where they are grasping at straws?
I am really frightened for their children.....I am frightened that they will have to succumb to more treatments in the name of "recovery".
Around every corner is another so-called "doctor", with a bag full of snake oil with these children's name on it. The insanity of it all is that the parent's of these children will buy this crap and give it to their children.

I spent the day today with a roomful of parent's of autistic children. These children were newly diagnosed. These parent's were scared and nervous.
I was introduced to them as being the parent of 5 autistic children.
These parent's looked at me in dismay.
I asked them to please listen to what was being told to them.
To please sit back and realize that their lives were just about to get a bit off-course. That they will have challenges they will never believe. That they will experience a life they were never expecting to.
I asked them to please not think the worst, but expect the best. To not think their child could not be anything other than they thought before the diagnosis.

I look at my children with their rocking, buzzing, humming, flapping and spinning. I look how they line up toys. I see how they get into their play and ignore all around them.
Who am I to say that is wrong?
Who am I to say that they are not doing what is normal?

I have been given the challenging task of raising 6 of the most amazing people in the world. This is not an easy task, but one I relish. I go to bed every night so happy that I am their mother.
I wake up every morning happy with the fact that these children will be in my sight within minutes. I smile each and every time I see them. I want them to they that they are vital on this earth and they will continue to be so. There are no challenges that they cannot meet...and I will be there every step of the way.



Tuesday, March 20, 2007

BIRTHDAY & ANNIVERSARY All-in-One....

Today is Kiernan's 6th birthday and the 5th anniversary of his autism diagnosis. He has come such a long way with both monumental dates.
6 years ago, he was born, by c-section....he was breach and in distress. He was 3 weeks early, and still a whopping 9 pounds. He was almost 24 inches long. He is still very tall and skinny. Not much has changed there.
He was born with a smile and a dimple. I still love his little dimple.
By the time he was 1 year old, we knew that he was also autistic. We should have been used to the diagnosis, but I remember having to take a minute to put it into my mind. 4 with autism. Now that will be hard.
Deirdre was not diagnosed until a year later.

Kiernan is still very much autistic. He rocks, stims, hums...he is non-verbal, but uses sign-language and his Vanguard. He leads you to what he wants. He is independent and strong.
He is trying very hard to potty train. Not an easy fete. But, you see, I do not stress about the potty. There is so much more in life that is harder than potty training.
I do not know what Kiernan's future holds for him. Like my other children, I hope he matures into an independent adult. I can hope for the best, and prepare for the worst.
Like my other children, I adore him. He makes me smile when he walks in a room. He reminds me of why I am here on this Earth...to be his Mommy.

Happy Birthday my dear sweet little soul. I hope it is a happy one for you.

Monday, March 19, 2007

RETURN OF THE POD PEOPLE....

Saturday morning , the lovely people who helped unload and go through all of our pods returned to help us set up for our garage sale. They helped us set up over 14 tables of goodies. We started at 6 am and did not finish until 6 pm.
We had media there, so it was an opportunity for our family to help endorse the University of Texas Autism Project we have come to love so much. The goal of our garage sale was to net $1000.00 for this Program.
I am happy to say that we reached our goal. I am thrilled.

On another note....
Remember Robert, the young man I had met on Friday at the grocery store?
Well, Robert came to our home with his mother, father and Grandmother. He was even more interesting and lovely the second time I met him.
Robert comes from a family with style, grace and mostly love.
He was introduced to everyone and they were equally impressed.
Robert came inside and jumped on the trampoline. He loved it.
I hope Robert and his family can become a part of our extended family. He is one heck of a young man.

After the garage sale, we all gathered in the back yard, around a keg of course. We grilled hamburgers and enjoyed the evening with all of our family and friends.
We have a diverse group of people in our extended family. We have friends that are Democrats and we have friends who are Republicans. We have friends with NT children and friends with children on the spectrum. We can all gather together and get along splendidly. No mishaps or fights among any person.
Why in this world where diversity is so needed, is it so hard to accept Autism? I do not understand what is so hard about that......

Friday, March 16, 2007

I Saw Into My Future...

Today I went to the grocery store with 4 of my 6 darlings. Not an easy fete, but if I give Kiernan a donut with sprinkles, we do great.
I was walking by the deli, buying potato salad and cole slaw for after our garage sale tomorrow. I need to feed these great college kids who are helping us out tomorrow. I noticed a very tall, very handsome young man. He was buzzing while he was walking and flapping his hands in front of his face. I was pleased to see him and instantly thougth "AUTISTIC".
I finished my shopping and was going down my last aisle. I saw this very pretty woman and next to her was the handsome young man I had seen earlier. The lady and I made eye contact and then smiled at each other. She knew and I knew.
Later, at the check-out counter, while unloading my groceries onto the conveyor belt, this lovely woman approaches me. She said, "congratulations on the home, I hope you are enjoying it.". I told her we were and thanked her. She then introduced me to her son, Robert. She told me Robert was also autistic. I told her that I saw him earlier and had guessed that.
Robert shook my hand and got very excited when he found out we got the Extreme Makeover house. He had watched it on television.
I told his mom about the garage sale and to bring Robert by tomorrow and he could come inside to see the house. I told Robert about the trampoline room. He seemed pleased about that.
I asked what school Robert attended and his mother told me he was no longer in school. He was 21 years old. She homeschooled him from the 5th grade on up. I asked if he lived at home and she replied that he did.
Robert held eye contact with me while he talked to me. He was very pleasant in his speaking voice and I was thrilled to have met him. I hope to get to know this family better.
What a gift that was for me to meet Robert today. It gives me so much hope for all of my children, but especially Caitlin and Kiernan.
Thank you Robert...I got to see a bit into my future....I hope it is as shiny as yours.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

What are Parent's Looking For????

I must admit, I am stumped....

I am stumped by what I read from parent's of autistic children...what the heck are you looking for from your children?
Are you looking for a child who is accepted in the community?
Are you looking for a verbal child?
Are you looking for a happy child?
Are you looking for a calm child?
Are you looking for a child that fits into the norm of what society calls normal?

When Caitlin was diagnosed with autism almost 15 years ago, we felt lost. We looked for all of the answers. Unfortunately, there were not that many to our questions.
We read and read about autism. I thank goodness there was not much out there in the means of what they are offering now.

By the time Erin was diagnosed, we realized that our world would be okay. We realized that we had a rocky road with Erin, but with maturity, OT and Speech, she would get better. We also made sure Erin got extensive play therapy and Physical therapy. That worked for Caitlin as well.

Patrick showed autistic tendencies by 18 months and Kiernan by 12 months. We intervened immediately with both. They had in-home therapies and then Early Childhood.

For no reason at all, Erin and Patrick have come out of their severity....
Caitlin is still severe, but very functional and will contribute to society in some form...that is up to her.
We have no idea about Kiernan yet....he has so much further to go. He will get there.
Just this week he said, MAMA.....OMG.....who'd have thought....

Deirdre is a whole other story. Asperger's is just a different way of saying BRILLIANT. She will be of no worries to her father or myself.

Kiernan is sitting beside me, lining up his toys in an orderly fashion, calm as he can be.
Occasionally he is flapping and buzzing. I like this time with him.
Who am I to say this in inappropriate behavior?
Caitlin is upstairs, creating a beautiful portrait in her new art room....I hope some day to share her art with the world....

I volunteer at our school and have seen what society call normal. Believe me, I am much happier with what we have at home.

The AUTISM Around Me.....

As I sit here in the dining room, I am watching my youngest son Kiernan lining up Dragonball Z toys. He is very careful in his endeavor and not one is out of line. While lining up the toys he is humming.
I know many parent's of autistic children who would think this behavior is inappropriate. My question is WHY? Why is his lining up toys and humming inappropriate? Is it any different than someone else doing a jigsaw puzzle? I have observed many people do jigsaw puzzles in my 46 years. Some people separate the pieces before doing the puzzle by color. Some people do the outside of the puzzle first. Some people just go into the box and go to it.....
Which way is the correct way?

Who told parent's of autistic children that certain behaviors are not acceptable in society? Isn't our society full of diverse people? Isn't that what makes a society?

I love when Caitlin buzzes while watching her favorite movie on her DVD player. I love how she still flaps and jumps when she is happy. I think that is what makes Caitlin her unique self.
Sure she gets stared at in the grocery store when she does this behavior, but frankly, who cares?
I love how Deirdre looks when she is about to ask a question and she is not quite sure how you will answer it....I love that Deirdre could care less what brand of jeans you buy her or what haircut is the latest style. I love that Deirdre is obsessed with the Beatles so much, that she thinks she discovered them.
I love how Erin believes she will be the next American Idol. I love how she sings at the top of her lungs. I adore how sweet she is with her friends. I still think it is amazing how she can calm herself by rubbing a soft piece of fabric or wrapping herself in a blanket.
I love how Meaghan can be as sassy as a 15 year old and still have the innocence of a 9 year old. I love how people flock around Meaghan and think she is the coolest person alive...which she is by the way.
I love how little Patrick makes his wrestling toys wrestle in a ring like the professionals. I love how he knows every word to every Country song. How he can memorize the top 20 country music countdown every week.
I love how Kiernan bounces on his big red ball and giggles in glee. I love how Kiernan picks through his lucky charms and puts them all in piles of color. I love how Kiernan gets hugs from all the little girls at school and looks at them so oddly.

Kiernan has alot of the behaviors at the age of 5 that Caitlin had at the same age. Now, at 16, Caitlin's behaviors have calmed down or stopped. She does still flap and buzz when she needs to. This is okay. She does the buzzing to drown out sounds she does not want to hear. She flaps when she is very happy and needs to release her happiness.
What kind of parent would that make me if I demanded she stop this behavior?

I have been the parent of an autistic child for 16 years. I have learned in this time to accept and relish every moment with these children. I have learned that it is not for my children to be accepted by society, but for society to accept my children.
This will happen...and it will happen in MY children's lifetime.

Monday, March 12, 2007

THE POD PEOPLE...

Last weekend, Saturday the 10th, we arranged to have our old home belongings delivered back to us. You see, when we received the Extreme Makeover home, they packed up all of our old belongings and put them in storage. They allow you so many days to keep them in storage until they start charging you the monthly fee.
We knew it would be quite a task, but we had no idea how big it was going to be.
Patrick, my husband, and myself decided we do not need anything back from the old house. Since EMHE supplied us with all new items, we did not need to bring any clutter back into our new home. We decided to hold a garage sale and donate all the proceeds to the amazing University of Texas Autism Project. We spent a Saturday with these young adults and educators and they changed our lives.
Now, back to the storage dilemma.
To go through our belongings, we had to somehow get help. We had over 25 pods of belongings.....yes, we were pack rats.....WERE.
The fine people at the University Of Texas Autism Project sent out emails to all of their colleagues and low and behold, at my house on Saturday were over 30 people to help. EUREKA!!!!!
Through the pods we went. We trashed the garbage into a huge dumpster donated by the builder of our new home and tagged the rest for our garage sale next Saturday. We worked from 8am until 8pm. We got everything done...I KNOW...everything.
During the day, my husband and myself were so overwhelmed by the help we were receiving, we decided to host a barbecue that night. It is after all....Texas.
We went and got a keg of beer and some burgers to grill. Everybody pitched in and helped in the kitchen and outside. My children were in hog heaven. We ate, drank, and danced all night.
At 12:30am, we said goodbye to the last person.
Not only has this house changed my families life, it has changed the lives of all of our friends OLD and NEW. This house has strengthened our bonds to the community and it is overflowing in love.
We are thrilled to share our home with our friends and neighbors. They helped get it built and they will never know what that really means to us. We can tell them, but they will never really know.
Next Saturday, March 17th, St. Patrick's Day, we are hosting a benefit garage sale. We will have over 30 volunteers again to help. I cannot wait......
I call it RETURN OF THE POD PEOPLE......

If you are in the neighborhood, stop by....I would love to see you.

Friday, March 09, 2007

GENIOUS....

GENIOUS...that is how I describe my child Deirdre...pure GENIOUS.

Deirdre is home sick today, she just doesn't feel well.
I was cleaning up the morning mess and Deirdre comes downstairs. She stands there as if she wants to ask me a question..that is how she does it.
I asked her what was on her mind.
She says, and I quote, "Mom, do you think there should be a cure for autism?"
I explain to Deirdre that I do not believe there will be a cure, but people are really trying to find one...
Deirdre asks me, "why do they want to find a cure for something that is not a disease?"
I explain that there are people out there who believe it is cureable.
I then ask my Deirdre, "Do you think there should be a cure?"
"Do you think you should be any different than you are?"

After a second of thought, Deirdre replied, "I think I am just fine the way I am".

PURE GENIOUS........

She then told me she found out about this on Wikipedia....she told me there were people out there that were just like her. She found Aspies For Freedom, she found Neurodiversity.com, she found Right Brain/Left Brain....she has found a place for her feelings and intelligence.
You see, sometimes (just sometimes), I am not as smart as Deirdre...hard to believe, I know!

If you see Deirdre out there in Acceptance Land, give her a shout....
She is a great kid with an amazing mind.
PURE GENIOUS......

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

THROUGH MY EYES...

I have worn glasses for many years...since the awkward age of 9 years old. I hated wearing them then, but now I use my frames as part of my wardrobe. It is fun to be funky sometime.
What I am getting at is that my vision is pretty lousy. Without my glasses, I cannot see 4 feet in front of me.
Yet, through my aging worn-out eyes, I see things others have a really hard time seeing.

I have been reading alot about autism lately. You really cannot help it....Autism is EVERYWHERE. I get recognized all over as the "Mom of the Autisitic children"...I like that one.

What I am reading disturbs me beyond belief. Every one is determined to find the cause of Autism...I have read it is too much television, not enough television, mother's, father's, age at time of conception for both parties, misdiagnosis (my personal favorite), over-diagnosis, genes, Immune Disorders, etc.
It really is becoming quite ridiculous and quite a little money-making scheme for alot of not-so-nice people.
Today, I read where one mother of an autistic child tells another mother to get a second mortgage on her home to finance her biomedical treatments and her DAN! doctor. WHAT????

Ladies and Gentlemen, you are the parent's of autistic children. They will always be autistic children. With maturity and much, much LOVE, your children WILL GET BETTER....I promise.

How discouraging it must be to lose so much time measuring and counting out pills, inserting suppositories, rubbing creams, etc into these children...and in the end you have an autistic child.
How discouraging it must be to believe that you are watching recovery on a big screen at a DAN! conference....and in the end all you see is a more mature autistic child.



My family has been involved with autism for 16 years. They have not always been easy. We have had all of the ups and downs involved with raising autistic children. We have watched these amazing children go from the worst autism has to offer to respected individuals in our community.
I DO NOT understand why parent's of autistic children have such a difficult time in dealing with the autism. The autism is a condition your child has, it does not define your child.
If you feel the need to define them, then purchase one of the tee-shirts that so love to label the child.

So THROUGH MY EYES....as poorly in vision as they are....I see a home full of the most amazing children:

I see:
Caitlin-my artist
Deirdre-my philosophist
Erin-my rock star
Meaghan-my governor
Patrick-my wrestling country singer
and
Kiernan-my sunshine on a rainy day

And that to me is so much better than 20/20 vision

Monday, February 26, 2007

THE FORTUNE COOKIE......

After we finished dinner tonight...I made Chicken Stir Fry...we opened up our fortune cookies. Erin was first..."keep in touch with your form of the arts", that is soooo Erin. She is our daughter who received the karaoke room.
Meaghan was second...hers was "others will enjoy your radiance". Again, that is Meaghan..our non-autistic daughter who is nothing less than radiant.
Deirdre's was third..."someone admires your beauty"...Deirdre is our wall-flower. She is a stunner in hiding.
Then came mine...."you will become an accomplished writer"....EUREKA !!!!

All of my adult life I have only wanted to be a mother and a writer. Now, because of my fortune cookie, it can happen. I love to write.

Before I opened my cookie, I thought about all that has happened to us in the past 3 months. The Extreme Makeover of our home and lives, the new friends we made and have kept with us, the amazing changes in our children and ourselves.....what more fortune could I want.

As I have written since I have started to comment about our new home, we have decided to keep the negatives out of our life. This includes the people who do not want to understand our children or feel the children are too difficult for them to manage. This includes some family members on both my husband's and myself's side.
We have kept our amazing friends and added so many more to the family. This has added so many bonuses to our children's lives.

I still continue to read the AW Forum, but now feel it is not the place for me....The people who post there do not want to know what to do for autism. They want to complain and whine about why their children have autism. What used to be a nice forum to chat and get to know other parent's has become a place where certain "bullies" feel they can "rule the roost" so to speak.
Unfortunately, these women have no idea what autism is....they think they do, but they don't.
They take their amazing children and make them guineau pigs for any doctor who promises them a cure. They take these darling children and do procedures to them that end up causing seizures...at least in one of their children.
The sad part is that there are parent's out there in Autismland, who are looking for answers, and these women think they can give them the answers....AS IF !!!! Better yet are the YouTube videos that parent's of autistic children subject you to....a whole 9 minutes of crying...WTF?????
I have been criticized for speaking my mind...that is just what I do...you don't agree with me, DON'T READ MY BLOG !!!!!
In the future...I can say...DON'T BUY MY BOOK !!!!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

NEURODIVERSITY....

One must remember, that I have been in the world of AUTISM for 16 years. I did not come upon this yesterday, or even last year. But, last year, I did come upon Neurodiversity by accident....
You see, I was at a point in my life that I knew there was something more to Autism. I did not believe Autism was the end of the world for my children or my family. Our financial situation was not pretty, but our children were thriving in school and in the community.
I was a member of a local Autism Message Board and it was becoming quite depressing reading all of the new procedures these parent's were doing to their children. I would respond to these parent's about our home. How our children are progressing without the use of these procedures. I just wanted, especially new parent's, to know that they did not have to go to such extremes to "recover" or "cure" their children.
Upon my Google search for Autism, I found the AutismWeb Forum message board. I started reading the messages. I read the pro-biomedical side and the anti-biomedical side. I was in heaven that I found people out there, in cyber-space, that thought the way I did about Autism. That there were parent's out there that accepted their Autistic children.

As I began to post messages and try to give my opinion, I quickly found out that the Neurodiverse, as we are called, are not readily accepted on this site. The biomedical community seems a bit "put-off" with anything the ND have to offer. It is the Biomedical way or the Highway to most of them. I have never seen such hate spewed to others. What is wrong with listening to others? Why do the Biomedical parent's feel the need to defend themselves so vehemently? Why are they so damn angry?

Through the Neuro-diverse, I have learned alot. I have learned through this group that you do not have to behave hatefully. Dignity is what I see....that is what I am trying to teach to my children....DIGNITY. I do not see name-calling or anyone hating anyone else. I do not see people talking behind other's backs on locked message boards. Everything is out there for the world to see. And that is all the Neurodiverse is trying to do, in my opinion, is to let the World see that Autism and person's with the disorder can fit perfectly in this place we call society.

I, as a mother, only want my children to be who they are meant to be. They are strong, intelligent, well-loved, admired children. What parent could ask for more?
Through the ND community, I have learned to do this better. I have learned that our community was very happy to embrace all of our children...autistic or not.
I thank them for that.

I started this post before our Extreme Makeover Home Edition show aired. I waited to post it, because I knew there would be people, namely 2, who thought it was okay to demean me and my children.

The Extreme Makeover event changed more than our home...it changed our lives. It made our family closer. It made us realize that we were doing the correct things for our children all along.
We have met some amazing people through our journey with EMHE..the producer's, the "stars", and the crew, the people of Crested Butte, CO, the ski instructors..(hello Pablo) and everyone involved have all become family to us.
We were a bit nervous about the changes and the effects it would have on our kids, but they were amazing. Autistic children have a hard time with any change in their routines, but our children were awesome. Not even a whimper on the airplanes. We were so proud.
Not once did we have to video tape an episode of "OCD" for the world to see...amazing. Not once did we have to show our children having a fit...not Temper Tantrum 1 or Temper Tantrum 2...if you know what I mean....

The only positive we wanted to show out of Extreme Makeover was that our children were awesome....and the producer's made sure that happened. Through them and Ty, Paige, Eduardo, Paulie, and Tanya the world saw that autism is not a disability...we truly thank them for that.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

UT Autism Project ROCKS....

We were invited, by the wonderful people at the University Of Texas Autism Program to attend a workshop yesterday. They invited all the teacher's, therapists and autism specialists at AISD that have anything to do with our children. They also invited all of our family and friends.
This was done after the program at UT discovered our family through Extreme Makeover.
We attended from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm. They provided breakfast and lunch.
Then we began.
All 6 children were led to the gymnasium and introduced to about 20 of the most amazing college student's alive. These young men and women are making autism and the education of autistic children their lives.
The kids took to them immediately and into the classroom the adults went.
I spent the next 2 hours listening intently on the way play therapy, incorporated in the home and in the classroom, is essential for ALL children. But, mostly for Autistic children.
This wonderful instructor introduced the program and implemintations as a therapy, not a "cure". I liked her right off of the bat.
After the lecture, we were taken into the gym, where we were put with the children at different stations.
I know, I am annoying when it comes to talking about my children.....BUT, my children are AMAZING. Not one of them had a temper tantrum, breakdown, meltdown or any behavioral problems at all. They were giggly, happy and compliant.
After completing the day, I was asked to be interviewed by 2 local television stations that were there recording the day's events with my children.
Being the media "whore" that I am ( or so I am told that I am called ), I was interviewed. I must admit, I love the camera. The reporters asked me about the day, the program and my children.
Then they asked the big question, "What about the new data of 1:150 autistic children"?
I asked them if they wanted my "honest" opinion or what I really thought?
They said, "Go for It"...
I told them that I believe the good people who really want to get autism correct will go back to the drawing board. They will start where Leo Kanner started.....classic autism. They need to shut the PDD umbrella and make a new autism diagnosis criteria.
Why does every disorder have to sit under the "autism" umbrella? That just makes no sense.

I hope that Pam and Jody, the women who run the UT program get National exposure. I hope the world learns about their approach to teaching autistic children.
I wish every educator, parent, family member, and friend of an autistic child could take this course. These 2 women could change the way autistic children are treated in the school systems and at home.
They take sensory integration and incorporate it into the home and classroom.

The week before we attended the program, they had a major setback. The gymnasium where they kept their equipment was flooded and they lost most of their therapy equipment. The University will not replace it....they need donations.
We are working on a fundraiser for this amazing program...any ideas out there????