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

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Meaghan and Patrick were helping me wrap gifts yesterday. Meaghan was writing the names on the name tags and Little Patrick was placing the packages under our tree.
Kiernan, who before this year, has had NO interest in Christmas. Actually, he hasn't had any interest in any gifts..be it Birthday, Valentines, Easter and especially Christmas. He is more interested in the foods that are around the kitchen.
Well, lo and behold, Kiernan started to put packages under the tree. WOW !!!!

This morning, Kiernan brings me gift wrap and bows out of our gift wrapping box. I told him there were no more packages to wrap today.
Kiernan did his little noise that he does, when he is annoyed...kind of a quick grunting noise.
How can I ignore this request?

Kiernan and I spent the rest of the morning wrapping little things around the house. They are now gingerly placed under Meaghan's penguin Christmas tree, on the top of the landing upstairs.

Kiernan will be 8 years old in March. He is tall and lanky. He does not have words right now, but he does have a voice. He makes his demands and requests known. He asks for very little in this world. Just things to make him calm in a world that does not conform to his needs. He has to find ways to make him happy. So, for a brief moment this morning, we did just that. We wrapped.....

I just got my Christmas present early...Thank You Santa Claus....

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


I was told, this morning, that our 8 (almost 9-year-old) son will be dismissed
from Speech services in May. This means that he no longer qualifies for any
services...AT ALL !!!!
What does this mean?
Does this mean that our son, who has been diagnosed with Autism is recovered or
Patrick has been working very hard, since he was born, to be able to speak in a way
that everyone understands him. He has been in speech services ever since he was
10 months old. Patrick has gone from pure frustration where no one understood a
thing he said...Meaghan would be our translator (she has a gift), to where for the last
2 years, Patrick has had a major speaking part in the school plays.
So, recovered...no, that is what you do to furniture!!
Cured...nah, that is what you do to meat!!

Patrick has succeeded by pure determination, undying devotion from therapists and
teacher's, great friends and family members who saw his greatness since the day he
was born.

Patrick still has many sensory issues and is a very sensitive little boy. He has a heart
as big as Texas and wears it on his sleeve. He is adored by all that meet him and has
had the same friends for years. He adds to his list of friends all of the time.
He loves baseball, football, wrestling and now hockey.

I cannot wait to tell Patrick the good news when he gets home today. He might
be a bit sad, because he has been seeing Ms. Marsha since he was 3-years-old.
She has helped him gain his voice and articulate better than any other 9 year old boys.
Marsha glows when she talks about Patrick...she is so proud of him and gladly
releases him from Speech...now, that leaves me SPEECHLESS.

Monday, November 17, 2008


This is 48...

Today, I turned 48 years old. I would never have predicted my life to be the way it is now.
I would NEVER have envisioned 6 children. The Autism, well, I have always been one up
for a challenge, so the Autism never scared me. It made me back up a step or two, but
I have never let it stand in my way or my children's way.

When I turned 25 years old, I thought that if I made it to 40, I have made it.
Well, I hit 30, 35, 40 and 45. My next big event is 50. 2 years is not that far

Not to brag, but I feel and look better than I ever have in my life. I am healthier
and happier. I am so glad to be a mom.....a mom to my children.
I adore the man I am married to...
I love my mother more than ever.
I am so thrilled to have the friends I do...hand-picked of course!

I waited until I was 30 years old to become a mom. I am so glad I did.
As a 48 year old mother, I feel like I am 27.....I thank my children for that.
It is not easy to keep up with them...but, because of them, I can..!!!

Friday, November 14, 2008


Believe it or not, some thieves have very good taste.

My friend, Mary, had her house broken into...and I mean broken...
The thieves broke the front door and basically destroyed it.

Amongst the rubble, the thieves found it appropriate to leave
behind one very important article....discarded on the top of the trash
heap they left behind was the biggest piece of trash of all....

Yes, Jenny McCarthy's book "LOUDER THAN WORDS"....Hell,
even the thieves have good taste.

Not to make light of a horrible situation, but truly, it was the only
laugh Mary has had since the robbery.....thank you Jenny for making
my friend have a ray of light in a bad situation...

Sunday, November 09, 2008


The puzzle piece, I mean...
The puzzle piece was chosen to be the International "symbol" for Autism. Supposedly, person's with Autism were missing something....no one can figure out what is missing....so therefore, they are missing a piece of themselves.
My thought is that isn't everyone a puzzle piece then? Are we all not missing something...looking to achieve something more...always searching for something better in our lives.
Me, I want to write a book. Not the "Great American Novel"...just a book about life...my life.
I talk to almost everyone I meet. I like to find out some little something about everyone. Through doing this, I have found out that everyone has a story. Every person is still looking for something. Some people get lost on their way to finding what they want, ie, drugs, bad relationships, etc. Most all of them are working hard to get back on track.
As a mother of six children, 5 whom happen to have Autism, they are no more puzzling than anybody else out there. In fact, I believe persons with Autism know what they want more than a person not diagnosed with Autism.
Persons with Autism do not find themselves puzzling at all...it is quite the opposite. Maybe it is society that needs to be "fixed". Maybe we need to redefine Autism so people who don't know what it is won't be so puzzled by it. Parent's of Autistic children cannot even agree what "Autism" is. How do we expect society to figure it out?
Now that is puzzling!!!!!

Monday, November 03, 2008


Okay, I log onto my computer, like I do every morning while waiting for Kiernan's very early bus. There, on the computer, was a story about how researcher's at the University of Washington are saying children who live in areas with larger precipitation than normal have a greater chance of having Autism.

As you read further into the story, the researcher's explain that it is not the snow or rain causing the Autism, but it is the fact the children are inside longer than those of us who get to experience nicer weather conditions. Therefore, the children are exposed to the toxins in the home and the television.

I have been the mother of a child(ren) with Autism for over 17 years. I have been told that autism is caused by "cold" mothers, old fathers, vaccines, genes, immune deficiencies, televisions, too much coffee, drugs taken as a youth, and on and on and on. Can we not just
admit to the fact that Autism has been around forever. That we are now intelligent enough to decifer what Autism really is?

I finished reading Dr. Paul Offit's book "Autism's False Prophets", I have come to a better understanding about vaccines and Autism.

I would like to thank the good doctor for calling me back. As far as he knew, I was just another ranting "Anti-vaxxer", "Biomed Mama" who was calling to rake him over the coals. I assured him I wasn't.

I had some questions as I read the book and a very nice, calm, gentle-voiced man answered the questions for me...without making me feel stupid. Thank You.

I do not know what causes Autism. I know how to help my children with Autism. The choices we have made in our home have proven to be very helpful.

I do know that there is no cure for Autism. Autism is not curable, no matter what Ms. McCarthy or any DAN! doctor will tell you.

When you get the diagnosis for Autism, it is based on behaviors....not gut disorders. If you have healed your child's gut issues and they become more responsive and attentive, then you have cured your child's gut disorder. If your child loses their "Autism" label from "healing the gut", then your child was never autistic to begin with, and the doctor ? who labeled your child labeled them incorrectly.

When our oldest was labeled Autistic over 15 years ago, we had to have several consultations with the Neurologist. He would not label Caitlin Autistic until he was absolutely sure this is what she had...Autism. Once the label is placed upon your child, no matter what, they will always have the label of Autism.

You can chelate, biomedicate, reoxiginate (my word, don't get excited), and deyeast all you want...in the end, if your child has a true label of Autism, Autistic is what your child will be.

In Dr. Offit's book, Dr. Offit was very generous in his descriptions of the "false prophets". I was really hoping he would paint an uglier picture of the people who prey upon the parent's of Autistic children, but he told the truth about what these people really are and where they came from. I truly am glad there is a book out now that shows the medical side to vaccinations and not all of the "hype" that we have been exposed to by shoddy journalists, corrupt politicians and really bad actresses.

I read every book that comes out about Autism. I read every book there is to read about vaccinations. I too, have fallen prey to the propoganda that is in most of these books. After 15 years, and with a much clearer head, I can now say "I am free" from the lies about Autism and because of this, my children are much better for it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


....AS A PRE-TEEN"!!!!
That is what was announced to me yesterday morning. The date of Erin's birthday.
Erin turned 12 years old yesterday. She is in the 6th grade and taking regular classes
without the need for an aide. Erin's report card was 6 A's and 2 B's.
Erin was born into this world SCREAMING. I gave birth to her in a Birthing Center. There
were no medical interventions..meaning, no epidural, no pain medication, no immunization
at birth...just me, Patrick and a wonderful midwife.
Erin was 10 pounds at birth and just at 23 inches. I thought I had given birth to a toddler.
She was always large and today, at the age of 12 years old, she is already 5' 9"....
Erin screamed until she turned 3 years old. She was frustrated. Erin started walking
at 8 months. She hated laying still. She would roll out of her bouncy chair when she was
2 months old.
When Erin began to talk, she became the happiest toddler in the world. She never stopped smiling. Erin became joyful and that has remained the same.
Erin did not speak until she turned 4 years old. She started talking and has not stopped.
Erin had trouble reading in Kindergarten and was almost held back. She taught herself
to read by the beginning of First Grade.
Erin has always accomplished whatever she has set her mind to. When she wanted to ride
her bike, without training wheels, she practiced on the grass until she could do it.

We do not know why Erin has come so far. She has had continuous Speech therapies. During
her most vital years Erin participated in 20 hours a week of OT, Speech, Play and Recreational Therapies. We did this until she was about 9 years old. Then she met all of her goals. Erin is a Success Story without all of the drama.
Erin still has some sensory issues...she is still Autistic. She is not cured or recovered. She remained gluten-filled and casein-full her whole 12 years, yet is surpassing her NT peers in academics. Socially, Erin is a butterfly whose wings are forever soaring.

I cannot wait to see what the future holds for Erin...the World is hers and thereis no holding her back. Happy Birthday Erin...keep reaching for those stars...they will be yours.

Thursday, October 23, 2008



My son, Patrick is in the 3rd grade. He brought his report card home yesterday.
4 A's, 2 B's....all 4's in behavior and social skills...not bad, huh?

Today, a classmate did a report on Albert Einstein. The little boy reported that Albert Einstein might have been Autistic.
A classmate asked, "What is Autism"?
Little Patrick raised his hand and said, "Guess what?, I am Autistic"...
The classmate says, "Oh, Autism means you are smart".....

I love that school......

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


We have been inundated lately with Autism. There is stories about Autism everywhere.

I heard a person say, in the grocery store line, Autism is being "shoved down our throats". "If I see that Jenny McCarthy one more time, I will puke"...not my words, but I tend to agree with these people.

Jenny McCarthy has no idea what Autism truly is....she is just so hell-bent on being in "mob" mode that she is not thinking about what she is saying.
She has a huge mouth, but, so do I.

The problem I have with Jenny McCarthy is that she is promoting herself as a “autism” expert. I don’t really trust her any more than I trust any doctor who says they can “cure” autism….Jenny alleviated her son’s GI symptoms..she did not cure his Autism.If you observe her beautiful son, he still shows many Autistic characteristics.GI problems are not symptoms for Autism.Jenny McCarthy is promoting the GFCF diet as if she invented it. Believe me, it has been around a lot longer than Ms. McCarthy.Ms. McCarthy does not impress alot of people except those as desperate as herself.Do I have issues with her? Heck yeah!!She has taken Autism and made it a “dirty” word.Not in our house…In our home, it is 5 children who function appropriatly at school, in the community and in private. This took alot of hard work and alot of therapy, and all with wheat and dairy.Go figure!!!

Jenny McCarthy calls the MMR vaccine the "Autism Vaccine"...funny, my most severely affected child with Autism NEVER had the MMR vaccine....how do you account for his Autism, Jenny?

Jenny is new to Autism....it really scares me that she is leading desperate parent's down a really dangerous path.

When Jenny stated that there are no older children or adults with Autism, that "Autism is New"...

You must read the whole interview, but here is a snippet...this really shows how incredibly "brain-washed" Jenny McCarthy has become...

PR.com: As these kids grow up and get into adolescence and into their early twenties, what happens? You never hear about autistic teenagers. You never hear about autistic college kids, or even kids who had autism when they were young and now they’re recovered. What happens to them on their journey?
Jenny McCarthy: It’s interesting, because autism is so prevalent now, just in the past six or seven years. These kids aren’t adults yet. They’re out there, but it surely isn’t one in ninety-four boys (the current statistic). But let me tell you, when all of these kids are in their twenties, it’s going to be an amazing world to see. I don’t know any [who] are older. People are saying autism’s on the rise just because people are getting diagnosed more. Bullshit! Then show me one in ninety-four men walking around with autism.
PR.com: You never hear about it, you never see it. Where are the autistic adults?
Jenny McCarthy: It’s cause there weren’t any. It’s all now.

Amazing, huh?

Hey, Jenny, c'mon over, I will be happy to show you an older child with Autism...and hey, while we are at it, let me introduce you to some adult friends of mine who happen to have Autism....

Here is the link to the rest of the interview..just for fun...


Propaganda at it's very best....

Sunday, October 19, 2008


I was sitting at dinner, observing my children eating and conversing with each other. Typical talk from what society believes to be, non-typical kids.

Erin and Meaghan are talking about pre-teen stuff, like music and Hannah Montana (of course). They are discussing how to use a knife and fork correctly (Erin had a light-bulb moment--priceless).

Little Patrick is talking about what is going on in school this week and sports, of course. He is now hugging both sisters around the neck.

Kiernan is happily eating his chicken breast and humming...he is so happy when he gets chicken for dinner.

The kids helped me make dinner. 3 of them cleaned the trampoline room. One wants to clean the toilets....I told her I would do that tomorrow.

We are a large family. We forget we have children with Autism.
This does not mean we do not have children with Autism...but, we forget becasue, they go together so nicely.

Maybe it is because us Neuro-typical people in our home are so outnumbered by the persons with Autism, that in our home....Autism is the "normal".....

Instead of trying so hard to get our children to behave like a normal child, we have let them remain comfortable in their skin. We have seen great progress both emotionally, educationally, and physically. We have been complemented, too many times to count, on how well our children behave. We could not be more proud of any of our children.
The only thing that Autism has taught us is that we must work just a bit harder to get these children ready for Society. They are so above average, that average is not acceptable.

I rest my very tired head, every night...I say my prayers and thank God for giving me the ability to be these children's Mother. I thank God for the blessings I have received. I thank God for letting me be Outnumbered...because, through my husband and my children, I have been more blessed than I can ever have imagined.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

HEADLINES...How Jenny McCarthy SAVED Her Son...

This is an excerpt from US Magazine...

Jenny McCarthy opened up exclusively to Us Weekly about her son Evan's battle with autism, and how she won't stop her fight to be heard.

When Jenny found out that her son had autism, she said that she made a deal with God that day. If God showed her how to fix Evan, then she would teach the world how to do it. "My perception of what is really important changed. Needing to have the best designer shoes? When your kid's sick, it's like, "Who cares?" McCarthy tells Us.
As for more kids, Jenny says "No, I got my ass kicked, I got it kicked ... Now all my attention is toward maintaining Evan's recovery, helping all these families, being a great girlfriend to Jim and that's it."

Oh, my, goodness !!!

Poor Evan, to now know his Mother thought of him as so broken she had to "fix" him.

I saw an interview with Ms. McCarthy on one of the "magazine" shows with Billy Bush.
Jenny was showing Mr. Bush Evan's school room that is in her house. He is home-schooled, because she says his immune system is so bad, he can pick up many germs.

Children with Autism need to be inclusioned with "neuro-typical" children, because this is where they learn to socialize. Not in a closed classroom with absolutely no classmates.

In US Magazine, Jenny is saying she must maintain Evan's recovery...that makes absolutely no sense. You are either recovered or not. If you must maintain it, then the Autism is still there. Autism is not a diagnosis that is removeable. A child can improve on their Autistic symptoms, but they are still Autistic.

Make up your mind, Jenny....

On Oprah, he is cured..On Larry King, he is cured....in US Magazine, he is recovered.

Evan is a beautiful little boy. He is lucky to be growing up in a home that has no worries about the cost of helping him and his Autism. Autism is very expensive. Jenny McCarthy lives in a huge mansion with financial support surrounding her. Jenny is very disillusioned when she puts herself out there like "one of the normal parent's" who has to put off paying a bill in order to pay for a therapy.

When talking about having more children...Ms. McCarthy talks about having her ass kicked....pretty sad. I hope that when Evan grows up and is able to grasp the things his mother has written about him, she is able to explain away her insensitive remarks about her son.

When you are in the public eye, you are open for scrutiny. Our family has experienced this, not too the extreme as Ms. McCarthy, but we were scrutinized pretty good.

Jenny McCarthy makes some pretty bold claims.
There is so much information on autism that is not relayed on talk shows like Oprah and Extra. Jenny McCarthy, when grasping for facts, throws out insults. Jenny McCarthy is really not the Autism expert she portrays herself to be. She did not invent the GFCF diet. The diet has been around at least 15 years...we had our oldest on the GFCF diet back then.
The thing that really gets me the most about Jenny McCarthy is the fact that when she asks for testimonials on improved children with Autism, she does not want to see the children that are improving without the GFCF diet or without chelation. She does not want to show the world that children, such as my own, are progressing as fast or faster without the use of biomedical interventions.

I have said this from the beginning of the whole Biomed vs. Non-Biomed "war"....there needs to be two sides shown to everything. You must give parent's who have children that are newly diagnosed with autism the ability to make decisions with a clear head. Not with propaganda and celebrity-endorsed alternative treatments.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


I have been thinking alot lately about our home and being selected to have an Extreme Makeover. I get asked daily what it was like and were the people really that nice, like they
are on television???
I have kept pretty quiet about this publicly. I really did not want to seem to be gloating or
arrogant. My family truly does feel blessed and we know God had a huge hand in this.

In late October of 2006, I received a statement from our mortgage company (who is now
out of business) stating they were going to start foreclosure proceedings as early as 30 days
from the date of the letter.
I take my kids to school every morning. Patrick would drop us off in the morning and I would
walk home to get Caitlin off on the bus.
The first week of November, I walked home. I always do my talk with God on my walks, this
morning was no different, except that I asked God to help me financially. I never have done
this before, and I felt guilty that day. I asked God to take the burden of losing my home off
of my shoulders. Suddenly, I felt a great relief come off of my chest....I really felt like every-
thing was going to be okay.
The next day, I receive a call from my neighbor, who nominated us for Extreme Makeover
Home Edition. He said he had received a call from a producer on EMHE who wanted to
talk to me ASAP. I was so nervous.
I talked to the producer for over 2 hours that Monday...he told me he would be here to see
us by Thursday of the same week....yes, that fast.
My husband and my heads were spinning.....what if we don't get it? What if they don't like
us??? (how could that be?).
We did not have any idea of all of the behind the scenes work that goes into making our dream
come true, but Man, they work their tails off.

All I will say is this about the process, because it is a very personal experience.....the people
who are involved from the camerman to the stars of the show (Hello Ty, Eduardo, Paul, Paige,
and Tanya) are 100% behind you and your family. You worry about nothing....your home,
your kids, your family, your neighbors, etc.

I will say this....when I heard Ty yelling in the megaphone "O'Donnell Family, Patrick, Jeanette,
Caitlin, Deirdre, Erin, Meaghan, Patrick, Kiernan..come on out", I thought I was still dreaming
from the night before.
When I saw them standing in my front yard...I saw Angels surrounded by light....I still feel
that way.

We have had many nay sayers trying to say things like:
"They don't deserve that house"...
"They will just trash that house too"....
"They won't be able to afford the bills".....
"Why did they get that house, we need it more"....etc.

I wish everyone could have this experience. I really do.
I wish everyone, once in their lives, could win the lottery like
we did....
We know we are lucky...we know we are blessed....we will never take this gift
for granted.

Our show is being reaired on Monday evening and Tuesday evening on
TVLand....this always brings up the memories we felt that week.
I wish the show could show all of the fun we had on vacation in Crested Butte, CO.
I wish the show could show the dedication and devotion the team at Adaptive Sports
in Crested Butte showed our children. With respect and dignity.....amazing.
I wish the show would show all of the behind-the-scenes personel that spent endless
time building our home. All of the volunteers from our community who rallied
together to build our home.

Every time I walk in this house, I feel them.

In our kitchen is a tin ceiling. There are hand and fingerprints all over them.
People aske me why I don't wipe them off...
I always answer, "Those hand and finger prints were put there by someone who
gave up a few hours to make sure that we had a home that was safe and secure for
our children....I like them...the fingerprints remind me of this".

In December, it will be 2 years since our Extreme Makeover Home Experience. I think
about it every day. It just doesn't happen to your family....you become a part of it...
Not too bad, huh????


I know....how can you have a quiet day with 6 children? Especially when 5 of them have Autism???
Easy, as we continued to have more children, we had to come to an agreement on how to raise our children. Should we raise them as children who will contribute to society, or should we let them have Autism be an excuse for their behaviors and their educational future?
At 11:00, I took little Patrick, 7, to a UT-OU football party. A very big deal around here. I got back home and Patrick told me the mail had arrived. He could not get the mail, because Kiernan was home and needed attending to (you cannot leave him for a second).
In the mail was Erin, Deirdre, and Caitlin's report cards. I am proud to announce all A's and B's on all 3. I would like all A's, but c'mon....A's and B's are pretty darn good.
Erin went out about 2pm shopping with her best friend and her mother. I put a 20 pound turkey in the oven and went to the store. I had enough store points to get the fabulous roasting pan I have been saving for....yippee!!! Little things make me happy, can ya tell???
We watched the game, UT won....we ate turkey....I picked up little Patrick from his party...Erin returned home and sang opera all evening. Kiernan twirled in his chair and bounced on his ball. Caitlin got her pretzels...Deirdre arranged for bowling tomorrow with her church group...and Meaghan wrote a beautiful song and sang it to us....
Yep, A Quiet Day....

Friday, September 19, 2008


Tonight is Erin, our 11-year-olds very first Middle School Dance. She was so excited that she came home, after school, and told me she was going upstairs to practice her "dance moves".
Erin is our daughter who got a karaoke room and stage....she was born to perform.
Erin is 11-years-old and 5 foot 8 inches. She is just over 170 pounds..she has ALWAYS been large. We have had everything checked, but honestly, we come from a very tall and "large" family.
As Erin's father took her to the dance I said, "No kissing boys tonight"...
Erin giggled..."I promise I will not kiss a boy"...

Oh, Man, this growing up thing is hard...
Not on my children....
On their Mother !!!!!

Sunday, September 14, 2008


As I was returning home yesterday, after an amazing experience in Seattle, which I love, btw....I was given another "Angel" moment.
You see, I truly believe God has placed his Angels around us to guide us when we might not be feeling exactly the way we should...too depressed, too big-headed, too secure in ourselves, etc.
My plane coming into Denver was really late. I was 5 minutes late from my departure time on the flight from Denver to Austin. I ran around the corner and to my next flight. Luckily, the Denver to Austin flight was late also.
I caught my breath and then called home. I was so excited to be going home, yet so sad to be leaving some wonderful new people I had met.
I boarded the plane and was getting into my seat...1D...easy to find, ya think? I look down and there sits the most beautiful yellow lab, who happened to be a guide dog.
I glance over to see the person who owns the dog, thinking I would find an elderly gentleman or woman...but, to my surprise, sat the most beautiful 20-something young woman. She was stunning.
I asked if she was the trainer of the dog, since she did not look visually impaired to me...she told me it was her guide dog. I then ask, "Are you visually impaired"? She said, "yes"... I apologized for being so blunt, but I wanted to get to her story, it's the Gladys Kravitz in me....
This amazing young woman told me at the age of 12, she began experiencing painful migraines. After many doctor appoinments, her mother took her to have her eyes checked. There, they found a brain tumor. The doctors thought it was behind her eye, but when they went in, it was not fully operable. They left part of the tumor behind, and with that, scratched her eye and left her 80% blind.
She then said, "I truly am blessed, I just lost my sight, not my life".
I told her about my children and Autism...she happened to work with Autistic children while she was in Hawaii growing up. I then told her about our blessing of our Extreme Makeover. She remembered the show. I told her about Trusera and the fact that she is the prime reason we need an on-line site like Trusera, where people could get inspiration from extraordinary people such as herself.
This beautiful young woman and myself talked for the entire 2 hour and 5 minute flight. She was intelligent, thoughtful, joyful, and inspiring. She is thankful to be alive from an illness that should have ended her life 12 years ago. She doesn't look at what losing her sight took away from her, but what losing her sight gave her.
After we landed, she told me how she believes God puts you in the right places.....She is so correct, but, not for the reason she believes. God put her there for ME!!!!!

Monday, September 08, 2008


Well, here we go again....I turned the Video Music Award's off early last night,
first because I really prefer Country Music, but I really wanted to see Kid Rock sing
"All Summer Long"..
and second, I like to see the opening act....rather boring...so off it went.

Today, I hear the host...Russell Brand...who I have never heard of before and I am
sure I am not the only one, made this comment, among many other stupid remarks....
"Some people, I think they're called racists, say America is not ready for a black president.
"But I know America to be a forward thinking country because otherwise why would you have let that retard and cowboy fella be president for eight years? "

So now, we have Hollywood making it okay for the R word to be said not only in a
movie by Ben Stiller, but on a Nationally broadcast Awards show.

Notice, this Russell person did say "black" and not the "N" word...so now I assume
"Retard" is the new "N" word.

So I have to say, thanks Ben Stiller and Russell "Who Cares what your name is" for
allowing the use of the word "Retard" to be used in our everday talk to "attack" people
you don't care for...like our President. I pray that none of your children are ever affected
by Mental Retardation, but if they are, I hope you remember the wording you used-believe
me, it does hurt more people than you know.

Friday, August 15, 2008


I know I wrote about this yesterday, but when I read some reviews this morning,
written by movie critics who dismiss the use of the word "retard" as not significant
in the movie....I got a bit miffed, to say the least.

Examples of reviews:
* " . . . a scene in which Lazarus criticizes Speedman for 'going full retard' in 'Simple Jack' is a put-down only of overweening, ambitious actors who take roles as physically and mentally challenged characters because they're proven Oscar-bait." -- Ann Hornaday, the Washington Post* " 'Tropic Thunder' is drawing fire from special interest groups for . . . its frequent use of the word 'retard,' but discerning audiences will know where the humor is targeted. And they'll be laughing too hard to take offense." -- Christian Toto, the Washington Times * "The script's references to 'retards' have generated some pre-release controversy, but advocates for people with learning disabilities should find something worthier to protest; the target here is the pretensions of movie stars who think that by adopting a stammer they can understand the problems of the people they portray." -- John Beifuss, the Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tenn.)* "Stiller isn't making fun of those with mental retardation. He's skewering an industry that honors actors who prove their seriousness by taking such roles." -- Daniel M. Kimmel, the Worcester (Mass.) Telegram & Gazette

This is what is said in the movie:

Ben Stiller's character: "There were times when I was doing Jack when I actually felt retarded. Like really retarded." ;
Robert Downey Jr.'s character: "Oh yeah. Damn."
Stiller: "In a weird way, I had to sort of just free myself up to believe that it was okay to be stupid or dumb."
Downey: "To be a moron."
Stiller: "Yeah."
At another point, about acting like a person with intellectual disabilities, they say:
Stiller: "It's what we do, right?"
Downey: "Everybody knows you never do a full retard."
Stiller: "What do you mean?"
Downey: "Check it out.
Dustin Hoffman, 'Rain Man,' look retarded, act retarded, not retarded. Count toothpicks to your cards. Autistic, sure. Not retarded. You know Tom Hanks, 'Forrest Gump.' Slow, yes. Retarded, maybe. Braces on his legs. But he charmed the pants off Nixon and won a ping-pong competition. That ain't retarded. You went full retard, man. Never go full retard."

Because I am the Mother of 3 children, who are labeled with Autism and Mental Retardation I have the right to be offended by the "r" word and it use in the film.

Ben Stiller has taken the "r" word and made it justafiable to use. Mr. Stiller, when you justify a derogatory term such as "retard", you make it okay for others to use that word. It is no less justifiable than using the "N" word when referring to an African-American. Or the "K" word when referring to a person who is Jewish.

The movie critics are no better. They too justify the use of the "r" word. As one lame critic wrote..."discerning audiences will know where the humor is targeted..."

I, along with Special Olympics, am offended...but not for me....for my children. Mr. Stiller, you owe them a huge apology along with the rest of the mentally challenged community. You have small children...it is your job, as their parent, to teach them better.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


I went to the grocery store recently...heck, I live at the grocery store, it seems.
Caitlin was buzzing joyfully and flapping her hands so hard, I thought she was going to take off flying. SHe was behaving and so happy..I don't know why, but she was.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, a young woman yells down the aisle at me..."HEY, SHUT YOUR RETARD UP"!!!!!
I had to stop, take a breath, and grasp the words I just heard. I explained to this early-twenties-something, Generation X, hateful person that she was not "retarded" but Autistic.
This not-so-lovely person said, "LIKE THERE IS A DIFFERENCE"...
I explained, very calmly by the way, that my daughter was much smarter than she could ever think about being. I also explained that when you use words like "Retard", "Moron", "Stupid", etc....you are not hurting the person you are calling a name to, you are showing your "ignorance".
Now, I hear, there is a movie out that Ben Stiller helped to pen. I like Ben Stiller...he is funny. The fact that he chose to use a word like "Retard" in his movie...not so funny.
Now Ben Stiller has made it okay for young people, like the young woman who berated my daughter in the grocery store, to do the same to other differently-challenged people....

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


Amy sent all of us some lovely cards from her new home. She wrote a special message to all of us. I asked Caitlin "What did Amy write to you"?

Caitlin said," Amy told me to keep doing my art"...

I said, "Are you going to keep doing your art"?

Caitlin replied," I already am doing my art" !!!

I said,"When"?

Caitlin said, "Yesterday"....

I said,"What did you draw"?

Caitlin replied, "Shapes".....

Okay, "Can I see the shapes"?

Above is the masterpiece she brought me....It took her one day....


Sunday, August 03, 2008


I heard the news this week about a friend from Pflugerville High School. Debra (Debbie) Webster passed away, unexpectedly, on July 18, 2008. We just celebrated our 30 year class reunion last month, and unfortunate for us, Debbie was not there.

She always kept up with class activities, what I have been told....

Debbie Webster was the type of person who stayed to herself. If she was your friend, you certainly knew it. She was smart, smarter than the rest of us. She was funny. She was pretty, although I don't think the boy's knew it yet.....

Debbie NEVER had a bad word to say about anyone....she was helpful and kind.

This was the obituary that was in the Tyler paper:

Services are pending for Debra Youngs, 47, of Troup. Mrs. Youngs died July 18 in Grand Cayman.

Cook-Walden/Capital Parks Funeral Home in Pflugerville will direct the services once date and time is set.
Mrs. Youngs is survived by husband Lance Youngs of Troup; mother, Linda Webster of Leander; brothers, Roger Webster of Leander and Andy Webster of Conroe; mother-inlaw and father-in-law, Mary Anne and Elam Coney of Troup; and other relatives.
I don't know why God takes beautiful young women so young....I lost 2 good friends last year who died suddenly also. God must need them up in Heaven, more than we need them here.
I guess I am selfish and am not ready to let my friends go so quickly.
Rest in Peace Debra....you will be missed.....

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Taming the SAVAGE Beast....
Okay, this may surprise some people, but maybe not.... I believe that we live in a country, the great U.S.A., that allows us the freedom to say and feel what we wish. Just ask the A.C.L.U., who defends every creepy organization their is...including NAMBLA...
I think Michael Savage has the right to say whatever he feels...no matter how wrong Mr. Savage is. I won't even repeat the ignorant things he said on his talk show.
I will state however, that I believe he is correct in one aspect. I think that the diagnosis of Autism has been spread so thin, that anyone can fit into the broad spectrum that they have made Autism. I believe that if you "doctor shop", like many people I know have, you will get a diagnosis of Autism for your child...and in turn, better services for you child.
I believe that is what Mr. Savage was trying to say.
When our oldest was diagnosed, the Autism spectrum DID NOT include ADHD, OCD, Bi-polar, Asperger's, or Sensory Integration Dysfunction....it did just add PDD-NOS, Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified...The diagnosis just had Autism and PDD-NOS.
With the addition of the other disorders, now linked to Autism, the Autism Spectrum grew, as did the number of Autistic people. I believe the frustration Mr. Savage feels with these added diagnosis and the added burden on our Social Services made him make his comments.
This being said....I DO NOT condone the manner or way in which he made his statements. Technically, He attacked the parent's and doctor's of the children. He said we did not discipline our children, have father's for our children, and that the doctor's misdiagnosed our children.Now, that being said, he is a buffoon...I never liked him. His voice grates on my nerves.Yet, I have the privelege of being able to change the station.When my book is published, people will have the ability to not buy it and not read it.....
Dang,Michael Savage said what he felt. Although I don't agree with him, if we take away his right to vent....we have to take away all of our rights.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Okay, I just have had something on my mind...and if I do not post it soon...I WILL EXPLODE!!!!

The WWE has announced with Jenny McCarthy that they will be hosting a Saturday Night Main Event on August 2, 2008...for Generation Rescue. You know, the Generation Rescue that states all of the bad things in immunizations cause Autism.....

Okay...here is my problem....

1st-Brittainy Spears is in attendance at the fund raiser....looking very healthy. Today I see her on the front page of AOL smoking a cigarette in the presence of her children. If you look up the ingredients in a ciggie....it has similar chemicals as a friggin shot....are you kidding me?

2nd-Steroids shot up or ingested by these wrestlers....'nuff said on that one.

3rd-Rose McGowan and Robert Rodriguez...the epitome of indescretion.

4th-can we say Silicone Implants deluxe at the Generation soiree? These have to do some kind of damage.

We have a group of "informed" individuals, raising money for a group who is so anti-vaccine and anti-vaccine ingredients that they cannot see what is sitting right before them....Toxin City.

If I was going to pick a group to represent my organization and Autism...this WOULD NOT be the group....

Okay, now my mind is clear...Thanks!

Oh, I just want to give a huge Thank you to the reader from Murrieta, Ca....hugs from me.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


All day today, our youngest son, Kiernan, has been babbling. Not true words, but babbling. "Dadadadada, Mamamamama, aaayeeee, bababababa....."

I have not one idea of what he is trying to tell us...I just know it is very important to Kiernan and I hang on every "word".

This is my translation...

"Okay Mama, I am tired of being home for days with these loud people. School starts on Monday and you better have me ready for the bus."
" Oh, and tell Daddy "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" for me tomorrow...k?" "Are we going to have the cake with sprinkles?"..."Daddy likes that type of cake".

Okay Kiernan...got it!

Sunday, July 13, 2008


....Cause I'm Missing Her Tonight....

Not the right words to the song, but she'll know what I mean.

My family was graced with the presence of an amazing young woman, for the
past year. She slowly and cautiously became a "huge" part of our family.

Even Caitlin, our most hardened critic, loves Amy....

Amy helped me periodically with my children, over the past year, while
waiting to graduate from the University Of Texas with HONORS, mind you.
She became an integral part of our very unique family, and she fit in just like
the "puzzle piece" we are supposed to represent.

Well, the inevitable happened.....last Thursday, Amy graduated.....

She is now living in Huntsville, Tx, soon to start her new job at a residential
facility for Autistic children and adults.
I would feel more anxious about her moving, but waiting for her in Huntsville is
a great young man who loves her very much. Even I cannot fault her for that....

So, Amy....We miss you and We love you....
I won't write any more, or Meaghan will ask me why I am crying!!!

LOVE YA...The O'Donnell Family

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Yes, that is correct, that is my little Wrestling-obsessed son with his very own Wrestling Diva.
Her name is Amy Dumas (she wrestled under the name of LITA) and she was playing a gig in Austin at my brother's club. She has a group now, THE LUCHAGORS, and my brother booked them last night.
My brother then arranged for my son, the world's foremost authority on Wrestling, to meet Ms. Dumas.
Of course my son, Mr. Chatty Man, was close-lipped and very shy....
Today, all we heard about was LITA this and LITA that....
Little Pat listened to every song on the CD she gave him and signed for him, except the songs with the "b" word....he is very anti-cursing. I raised such a good little boy.
A big "cyber-hug" to Ms. Amy Dumas....you made one little boy a very happy wrestling fan and an even more AMY DUMAS fan....Thanks.

Friday, July 04, 2008


Happy 4th of July...Independence Day....

We celebrate this holiday in America...it is the day the US gained their
Independence following the Revolutionary War.
We live in the greatest Country in the World. We have the rights so many
others will never know. We have the ability to go so far...that includes
our children.
Our children are very lucky to have been born in America. They have the
ability to get an incredible education, invaluable therapies and the choices
of some of the greatest doctors in the world. Nothing in America will hold
our children back.
Autistic children in other countries are not so lucky. They are given up on
from the moment they are diagnosed. Some are deemed undesireable and
put away.
How lucky we, as American's are, to be able to educate our children with
Autism and show the world how amazing they truly are.

Independence also means the ability to teach our children how to do things
so eventually they can grow up and be more independent. That is the goal
in our home. To teach our children how to be responsible and able to eventually
maintain an independent lifestyle.

So, on this Independence Day 2008, I wish you all a HAPPY and SAFE
4th of July....

Our neighborhood parade is starting soon......HAPPY 4th.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


As I put Kiernan on his bus this morning, it reminded me of something.
Next year, our 8 year old son and our 10 year old daughter will not get
bus service from school.
You see, little Patrick and Erin have been "weaned" out of Special Education services.
That includes riding the "little bus".
The "little bus" does not bother us. On this bus is the safety away from the
cruel NT children who find it necessary to bully the ones who they feel are
less than themselves. But, in the long run, these NT children are the ones
who are far more disturbed than our children.

The young man, who last year felt it necessary to yell at Deirdre on the
Middle School bus. He has had a horrible life....his mother died of cancer,
his father wants nothing to do with him, and of course, he is being raised
by his Grandparent's...who cannot control him.
So, we are left to deal with him yelling at my daughter on the bus.
No....I did not take well to this.
I called the Principal of the school and stated..."You take care of this,
or I will"....
He took care of it.....

There is a stigma about riding "THE LITTLE BUS"....we have found nothing
but loving, nurturing persons driving and attending these smaller than average

We only have 2 on these buses now.....Caitlin and Kiernan. I assume they
will always ride them. That is okay with me.
Erin will ride the "regular" big bus to Middle School.....Deirdre will ride the
"regular" big bus to High School....Little Pat and Meaghan will walk to and from
school every day (with my supervision, of course).

I am very proud of my children for their accomplishments and their hard
work for overcoming alot of hardships. But, next time you decide to make
fun of "THE LITTLE BUS"...remember, I still have a couple who ride that
bus and they are pretty amazing children.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


Back row: Doug, Tom, Mark, Chris, Bubba (Clarence), James
2nd row: Melody, Kim, Sandra, ME, Linda, Judy, Janie, Suzette, Allan
3rd row:Curtis, Susan, Lori, Connie, Linda, Sara, Larry, and Darlene

These are a few of the amazing people I went to school with from the
6th grade until I graduated 12th grade.
We were a strong class and I consider them all my friends
to this day.

I was very quiet up until my Senior Year of high school...hard
to believe, but very true. I was a shy, unsure, insecure young
girl. I went through green glasses and braces, I was a fashion
maven, even at that age.
I went through a bout with Anorexia Nervosa and had to be
hospitalized through the Summer. These wonderful people
made sure when I returned to school that fall, that I was not
judged or teased.

I made sure at this class reunion to tell all of them that I LOVE them
and that they meant the world to me. I thanked them all for
standing by me and my family these past 2 years. They were all
so proud of me when we received the home makeover.

I had a blast this past weekend. We all have aged a bit...but, when
I look into their eyes, I see the beautiful young people I grew up with.
I am so lucky that I was blessed with these people.

Monday, June 23, 2008

CLASS OF 1978...

My 30 year High School Reunion is in 4 days. I am so excited.
I graduated from Pflugerville High School in 1978. I was 17 year old, and
the youngest person in the class.
The drinking age was 18 at the time and I was one of the only ones not
legal in my class. NO, it did not keep me from drinking.
I look forward to this reunion. We only had around 80 kids in my class.
I loved them all...for different reasons.

If I get a chance to tell them all something this weekend...
I would tell them this...

Thanks for being there..even though I never said it before.
Thanks for taking a girl who thought she was hideous....thanks to my sister...
and making her fit in where she never thought she would.
Thanks for not judging me when I was Anorexic, fat, a Kicker, A Smoker, or a
Thanks for being there, 30 years later, when my son was in the hospital.

If I had to go back 30 years in time, I would change a few thing.

I would not care if I was the smartest, funniest, cutest, or skinniest. I would not care
if I was the most popular or if the most popular guy in the world liked me the best ( I won in the long run, I have my husband)...I would be ME...that is pretty cool.

I hope to Hell I am teaching my children that is what is most important..
Being them...that is pretty COOL.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


The other day, I was questioned about a comment I made 4 years ago in a newspaper story they ran on our family. The reporter, Andrea Ball, spent the better part of 18 months working with our family. She got to know us, and she got to know us well....too well, Maybe.
Andrea wrote an amazing story. It was about our children and how they were 4 years ago. She was spot on with everything she said....4 years ago.

4 years later...some things have changed.

I NO LONGER look at Autism as a doom and gloom, mercury caused my children's autism, bleak kind of thing. I look at Autism as a miraculous event that has made me a better person.

I was questioned about a comment I made about wanting to sterilize Caitlin...yes, I still feel this way. Caitlin is a severely autistic young woman who should never have to make the decision on whether or not she should carry a child. Caitlin has no interest in boys, so the only reason she would get pregnant would be from result of rape. Hard to say, but true.

I was questioned about a comment I made about vaccinations causing my children's autism. We were being wooed by a local organization who were telling me about Mercury in the vaccinations and how they made my children's guts go bad and how it caused their brains to be infected with the Measles virus which caused their autism.....okay, I went with that for about 6 months. Then I got my brain back.

I was questioned about a comment I made about taking 2 with me when I died.....I, in no way, meant I am going to kill my 2 children because they are Autistic. I said, "They better never tell me that I am going to die, because I am taking 2 with me". I could not bear knowing I was going to die and not know what will happen to my 2 most severely affected children.

I will post the story at the end of this blog.....Andrea did a wonderful job. She became part of our family when she was here.....I hope she still considers us part of hers.

So, lately I have been bitter towards Message Boards...I am done with that now.
I had my little fit and am better. It just bugged me that a certain board member thought
it was okay to post a piece about my children. I am a mother after all...

So here, without further adieu, is the very long story Andrea Ball wrote.....
I call it a bathroom read....I also call it amazing...
But please remember, It was written 4 YEARS AGO...


Here is the video Kelly West did for us:


Saturday, June 21, 2008


It truly does amaze me how the people who spend the most time on Autism Message Boards
are the most critical of other parent's. We all have a common bond...children with Autism.
Some choose to be critical of others who don't do the biomedical approach....some choose to
criticize those who go the biomedical approach (and no, I do not mean GF/CF diets).
I was targeted by a mother of children with Autism on one such message board. She has been
nit-picking me for years. I find her rather redundant and really, really boring.
This person, along with her clonies, spend hours on the computer. What the heck are their
children doing? Playing with matches, perhaps?
These "parents" sure dole out alot of advice to me and other Neurodiverse thinking parents, but really..what kind of parent sits in front of a computer all day just to rag and bag on other
parent's who are going through the same thing.

I say this with all of the compassion I can muster, because frankly, I could care less about the
parent's of these precious children......I care about their precious children who are probably at their pants legs begging them for some attention and guidance....


Where are my kids, you might ask???
2 of our children are down the street playing with a friend at their house.
1 is upstairs playing with her High School Musical toys.
1 is asleep on the couch, he is very tired from waking up at 5:30 am.
1 is in her room on the computer and listening to her Ipod...she just helped me
with dinner, so I let her go back to her life.
1 is in her room being a 17 year old Autistic child who does not like the thunder
storm we are having.

All safe and sound. But, I did wait until almost 5:00 pm to return to the computer
after a quick computer check this morning.

Again, I will say to those who are so OCD that they are afraid they will miss
a fight or a chance to call someone a name...


I want to add something, since I have a "shy" person who wants to comment
ANONYMOUSLY..you know how much I love that???
I do spend 2 times a day catching up on the message boards....I blog about
Autism, I live Autism....I need to know what people think.

I get really angry when a few parent's on the boards, and they know who they
are, make a game out of putting down other parent's on these boards. It is way
beyond pathetic....

To my Anonymous fan...I know who you are...thanks for visiting me so much.
I am flattered.

Friday, June 20, 2008


Zzzzz, that is what I want to write after most of the posts
I read on Autism Message Boards. The same boring people, writing
the same boring things.
First...how very sad I am that my child has autism...boohoo for me, my life
is over. How very sad I am for your child(ren) that you are sad for them.
Second...We know you believe thimerosal causes Autism...okay, next subject.
Third...There is so much you can do with your children instead of them staring
at you typing on the computer. Really, they would enjoy some "quality" time with
Fourth...blaming failing marriages on Autism...guess what? Your marriage probably
would not have lasted anyway. Autism is just a very good excuse. Any marriage
takes work. Life ain't easy, but how boring would it be if it were.

Let us really bring Autism into the forefront...let us yell from the top of our lungs...

We do not have time to wallow in self pity in our home. We do not have time to
blame anyone or anything for our children being diagnosed. We do not have
time to focus on anything but our children who are so involved with being children, they
do not have time for much else.

I am just a mother raising 6 children to grow up and be the best people they can be..
I have a long road ahead of me, and so do my kids. But, by what they have proven to
me so far...my job will be a piece of cake.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

HUB BUB.....

I love being a part of the Autism Hub...it was one of my quests in life, so to speak.
Today, I was checking on the blogs and new blog writings. I was a bit taken back
that a blog member was on here...I had never noticed her being part of the Autism
Hub before.

Heck, who am I to say who can be part of the blog...but 4 years ago, a wonderful story
was written about my family...here is what one Autism Hub blog member wrote about us
4 years ago...

Lady, I Like My Cigar, Too, But Sometimes I Take It Out of My Mouth
Okay, so that headline was rude. I admit to it. But Groucho certainly had a point when he so aptly commented on one woman's prodigious reproductive skill. And I think there is a point here as well.First, a disclaimer. My heart goes out to this family. I am parenting two underage children, of which 50% are autistic, and it is hard. I simply cannot imagine how somebody - even a well-partnered and supported somebody - could survive with 5 autistic children (and one NT to spare).My question is WHY KEEP GOING? I understand that having only one child who is disabled is no reason not to try for another. But each time, they tried and "lost the statistics battle". I understand that "whoopses" happen. And I understand that they were pregnant with one when a second was diagnosed. But still... Maybe it is my personal prejudice against overpopulating the planet in general...combined with my first hand knowledge of what it is taking to get things in order for just ONE autistic child. *Shaking head*...I just don't understand. I simply hope that the resources truly are available, in both quality and quantity, to make these children's lives happy and healthy ones.AUTISTIC CONJECTURE OF THE DAYOne Family's Struggle With Autism - The Genetic FactorAug. 16, 2005 — Jeanette and Patrick O'Donnell were overjoyed by the arrival of their firstborn daughter, Caitlin Carole. But 2 1/2 years later, their baby girl still wasn't speaking. Then the O'Donnells received a frightening diagnosis: Caitlin was autistic. The O'Donnells thought that if the condition was genetic, they wouldn't have anymore children. But they say that doctors assured them autism was not passed down from the parents' genes. The young couple resumed their dream of having a big family. Along came Dierdre, Erin and Meaghan. They were a happy family, but then Erin stopped talking. Once again, doctors made the painful diagnosis: autism. "By the time Erin was diagnosed, we already had four [children]," Patrick said. And by that point, Jeanette was pregnant with their son, Patrick. Then the O'Donnells got an unplanned surprise, and little Kiernan came along. Each Child Affected DifferentlyOne by one, the O'Donnells were given the same dreaded diagnosis. All told, the they have six children under their roof in Austin, Texas. Five of them fall on the spectrum of disorders called autism — Meaghan is the only child who does not. Today, research shows a strong genetic component is at work with the disease. An estimated 1.5 million people suffer from autism, which the Autism Society of America describes as "a complex developmental disability that affects an individual in the areas of social interaction and communication." Autism affects each person differently and some have more severe complications than others. The O'Donnell children mirror the many distinct forms this complex disorder takes. Dr. David Amaral, of the MIND Institute in Sacramento, Calif., says that studying these differences could change the way doctors treat autism. "The benefit to the kids and to families will be that we'll be able to predict what will be the best treatment for a particular type of autism. Currently, we can't do that," he said. Caitlin, 14, and Kiernan, 4, the eldest and youngest, are the bookends of the O'Donnell family encyclopedia of autism. They display hallmarks of the condition — they walk on their toes, their bodies rock, arms flap, they often screech. Both are profoundly disturbed by certain environmental changes. Amaral said if you asked the children why they were upset or frightened by certain situations, they wouldn't have any insight into it. On the other end of the spectrum are Erin, 8, and Little Pat, 5, who can describe what they are feeling. Pat will hide his eyes from strangers, but says he does so because "he's nervous." Both Erin and Pat made dramatic turnarounds. "When I was about 3 years old, on my second day of school I started to speak," Erin said. But they still have strong reactions to sensory stimulation. While Erin is soothed by bubbles on her skin, Pat is terrorized by running water. And then there is Dierdre, the "quirky" one. She has a form of autism called Asperger's Syndrome. People with Asperger's will become obsessed with one particular subject. "They'll go on talking about a topic of interest to them and not take any cues from you that you're not interested," Amaral said. "You still have at the core this deficit of social function." Jeanette said it's painful for Dierdre to sit with the family and eat dinner. She prefers to eat alone, one item at a time. Children That Fit in the FamilyNo two O'Donnell children has an identical set of symptoms, but they all share one defining characteristic — a failure to have appropriate social interactions. All of the O'Donnell children have speech challenges, avoid eye contact and display little facial emotion. "It's not that they can't have any expression of emotion or attachment, it's just that it's very different," Amaral said. Today, all the children except Kiernan attend regular school; Caitlin is helped in school by an attendant. The O'Donnells say patience and a sense of humor get them through. "We laugh," Patrick said. "We have to laugh. If we don't laugh, we wouldn't be ourselves." And they have conviction that their children matter. "I'm very proud of what our children have accomplished," Patrick said. With their five distinct personalities, the O'Donnell children are a unique bridge to help researchers learn more about the mysterious world of autism. And each in their own singular way, they bring love and joy to a very special family. "We have children that are unique," Jeanette says. "We have children that fit in our family."
// posted by Susan @
11:56 PM 0 comments

I commented then about my reaction to a mother of a child with Autism commenting on my family and how ashamed I was then...my post was not published. I posted again today, when I realized that this mother was now a Hub member....
I shall wait and see what is allowed to be posted on the same blog post I tried to post to 4 years ago.....

We all are trying to raise our children...when we become judgmental..it changes us......

My children were all supposed to be here..for that I am thankful. Because someone does
not believe in having alot of children for whatever reason, don't judge. Heck, I could mention
how being a single parent is very selfish for a child...don't they deserve a father ( I really don't believe this, but there are many who do)....
Do you see where I am going? Please people...think before you hit the ENTER key.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Happy Father's Day to all of the amazing Dad's out there who are raising
some of the most amazing children.

To my husband...an amazing Father to our children...


Thanks for the long hours you work.
Thanks for the unconditional love you show us.
Thanks for not trying to "cure" or "recover" your awesome children.
Thanks for not complaining when you are too tired to help with homework,
or wake up early to drive one of them to school for a special project...

I am so very lucky.

Thanks to the other Father's out there who do this because they
want to, not because they have to.

Happy Father's Day.....

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


My family was on Good Morning America in September of 2005. Our family was represented well and the producer involved was nothing short of wonderful.
They showed our family as it is...a family. They represented us as a typical family with only one thing different...we have 5 children with Autism.
At the time of the airing...we were the only DOCUMENTED family with 5 autistic children.

We have always felt blessed to have 6 children...even though 5 have Autism...
We have never been the "woe is me family" who rely on others to take care of our family.
My husband works 2 jobs and I work part-time. I OCCASIONALLY get a nap...I do joke about taking one (some people take me seriously...hahahaha).
I cook EVERY meal at home and am happy to do so in my wonderful kitchen. I love to cook.
Luckily, I now have 4 daughters and 1 son who love to help me in the kitchen.

Today is my anniversary, and my darling husband is out in this 98 degree heat umpiring his ass off. Happy Anniversay Patrick......I love you so much.

On Monday, Good Morning America showed the Neurodiverse side of Autism....I could not be happier. On television was Ari Ne'eman and Kristina Chew...2 great examples of Neurodiversity.
They represented my children and my family perfectly. Thanks guys.
Kristina and Ari were dead-on in their examples of why Neurodiversity is the way we should treat our Autistic children and how society should treat them too.

All I have to say is...IT IS ABOUT TIME.

I am sick of the Jenny McCarthy who cannot make up her mind whether her child is autistic or not.....reading about parent's who are chelating children to "cure" or "recover" them....praying dearly for a young boy who is about to get his second injection in Costa Rica for stem cells that we don't know where they come from....to parent's who just cannot fathom the idea of a non-perfect child.

I am thrilled to read about parent's who embrace not only their amazingly gifted children, but have the guts to show the world it is okay to be Autistic.....BRAVO to you....

Sunday, June 08, 2008


Dear John,
I would like to take this time to thank you. Tonight, I watched the movie HAIRSPRAY on HBO. I saw it in the movie theatre with my children when it was released. It made me smile then...and it really made me smile tonight. You see, my daughter, Erin, who really loves HAIRSPRAY, is in Germany. I miss her dearly. She knows every word to this movie. I think because she can relate to Tracy..the lead character. Erin is overweight, but man, this girl is ALL personality.
I also want to thank you for the last 30 + years of entertaining me and everyone else on this planet.
I know, you are a Scientologist...BIG FRIGGIN DEAL...
I know, you might or might not have an Autistic child...BIG FRIGGIN DEAL...

People accuse you of not admitting you have a child with Autism....that is your business. We DO NOT know what you do in your home to help your child. I know Jett is home-schooled. That is an endeavor in itself.

In the mid 1970's, I was introduced to you with he show "Welcome Back Kotter"...I was IN LOVE...
SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER stole my heart. Then, OMG, URBAN COWBOY. I was already a cowgirl in the Rodeo Club at SWTSU and you made it all legitimate.
I stood by you through the 1980's. The critics said your movies were bad...I thought you were awesome.

I moved to NYC in 1987 to marry an Italian man...because of you. Instead, I met the most amazing IRISH man....I still want to thank you for that. Because of you, I moved to NYC....I met my husband there.

Through Welcome Back Kotter, Saturday Night Fever, Urban Cowboy, Staying Alive, Two of A Kind, Look Who's Talking, Pulp Fiction, Michael, Phenomenom, Primary Colors, A Civil Action, Wildhogs and Hairspray...just to name a few...thank you JOHN TRAVOLTA.

You have not only given me a lifetime of entertainment....but now, you are making one very musical, talented, animated Autistic child (ERIN) happy too.

And for that I say....THANK YOU...Dear John..

Saturday, June 07, 2008

SCHOOL IS OUT....The last 2 weeks of school are so very busy for us as a family. The end of the year activities are abundant and we try to help out as much as we can at all of the different schools.
Kiernan was in the hospital for a week in May and he is back to his "normal" self...he is abundant energy. Kiernan starts Summer School in 2 weeks, so I will be doing whatever is necessary to keep him in a routine. He craves a routine.
Meaghan graduated 4th grade and was selected for the Safety Patrol squad for next year...a very high honor for our school.
Erin graduated 5th grade with honor roll and she received the prestigious "Citizenship Award"..only given out to a handful of 5th graders who received all 4's all of the time on their
behaviors. She will be a middle-schooler next year.
Deirdre graduated 8th grader with honor roll. She will be going to high school next year and is so very excited.
Caitlin finished 10th grade with A's and B's. She is already enjoying not getting up for school.
She will have a recreational therapist, massage therapist and caregiver all Summer....so we have many plans for her.
Little Patrick finished out 2nd grade with high marks. He starts getting letter grades next year, so I will be excited to see his actual scores. This little man has gone to school since he was 3 years old and has never, ever had so much as a card change for behavior. I am so proud of him.

Erin and Meaghan left for Germany this morning. They were both selected to represent our Elementary school in our sister city in Germany. They will arrive early tomorrow morning. We packed for 12 days of travel. They were very excited and anxious. I just got a call from Meaghan in Dallas, and she seems so happy. I cannot wait to get the daily updates from their text messages.

Summers are very hot here in Texas. My mother has a pool as does our good friends. My children love the water...even Kiernan is able to swim. All of my children started swimming lessons before their first birthday.
We love to go bowling ALOT and play Putt-Putt golf.
We grill in the backyard and have friends over almost every weekend. More during the Summer months.
Our family has been truly blessed with many great people in our lives. They adore and love our children, just as we adore and love theirs.

I just thought I would catch you guys up on what is going on.....there is alot on my mind in the world of Autism...just need to gather my thoughts before I write about it.

Autism is a disorder, not a definition of my children.

Saturday, May 31, 2008


CONTRARY- a fact or condition incompatible with another.

Okay, Mary Hutka is anything but CONTRARY....and this is the person I am
blogging about today.

Where do I start....

9 years ago August, Caitlin was promoted to second grade. She had the same
teacher for 2 years, so I was hesitant when she was to start the Second Grade
with a new teacher.
She was put in Mrs. Mary Hutka's class.
Mary worked very hard with Caitlin, and I knew that Caitlin was well-loved and
learning alot. Mary Hutka also made Caitlin accountable for her very disruptive
behavior. Caitlin was a much different child when she was 9 years old. She was
aggressive, screaming loud and very hyperactive.

This school year, we were lucky enough to have Mary Hutka to teach our little boy,
Patrick for Second Grade.

Now, Patrick is the complete opposite of Caitlin at that age and is an amazingly well-behaved
little boy.

Mary calls this child PERFECT PRINCE PATRICK. This will let you know how much
she adores my son.

Mary and her family have become part of our family. We adore her and her committment
to not only our children, but all the children she teaches. Mary is diligent in her teaching
and loving when it is needed.

Lately, Mary has become aware that she will be losing litte Patrick soon. I cannot
imagine how the last day of school will be emotionally for her. I know Patrick is
going to have a hard time.

I also know Ms. Mary reads my blog religiously and I need her to know this....

MARY, you are more like a Sister to me than my children's teacher..you are the type
of Aunt my child(ren) need at a time when their Aunt has checked out. You are the
teacher every up-and-coming teacher should observe and model themselves after.

You have loved and embraced a little boy who has sensory issues and is more
emotionally immature than most kids his age. You have overlooked his Autism and
treated him like a STAR....you have made him a much better person....

For that, I say THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart and through my very
tear-stained eyes....


Sunday, May 11, 2008


I was woken up at 6:30 this morning to a very stinky diaper followed by "happy humming" sounds. Being thrilled that Kiernan finally had a poopy diaper...yes, he has issues with pooping...but, so did Caitlin at that age and now she poops just fine (thanks for asking)..I got out of bed.
I came downstairs to my breakfast waiting for me...Meaghan heard me get up and made me my Jenny Craig breakfast. I gained 12 pounds after surgery last year and have worked very hard to get the weight off...yeah, Jenny Craig.
I walked into the utility room and to my surprise was 9 rolls of toilet paper that have been taken off of the roll....thanks, Kiernan...just what I wanted.
Into the bathroom I find 1/2 of the bottle of shampoo I bought yesterday has been drained into the sink....yet again, Thanks Kiernan.
As I am grilling tuna steaks and chicken breasts on our outdoor grill, Kiernan has been very busy in our garage freezer...looking for ice cream. He did not find any, but I had a lovely mess to clean up.

Okay, to my point....yes, I have a point.

I am a Mother EVERY DAY....I am not all up on MOTHER'S DAY....it really is a day for people to spend alot of money on women who really do not do this because we have to...we do this job because we love our children.
I would not be the mother I am without the children I have. They test every limit I have and also reward me with their amazing talents and love.

I don't take anything Kiernan does personally....he really does try hard...but with his sensory issues, he must try to soothe himself with whatever he finds...be it toilet paper, soap, or even ice cream.

I waited until I was the ripe old age of 30 years old to have my first child...I am now 47 years old with 6 children. Thanks to all of them, everyday I have A MOTHER'S DAY.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


As some of you might know, Meaghan, our only child without Autism, received Ty Pennington's "surprise room". It is a Winter extravaganzaof snow flakes, mountains and, most important, PENGUINS.
Last week, I received a call from a lovely woman. She explained to me that she has a very extensive penguin collection and she would like nothing better than to give the collection to Meaghan....if she was interested. OH BOY !!! Was she interested !
Two days later, this wonderful woman called me back. She wanted to know Meaghan's furniture brand...she wanted to match her furniture by buying her a display case for her new collection. OMG, this woman was going above and beyond what "giving" means.
I told her Meaghan's furniture was Ikea.
Lo and behold...promptly at 3:30 pm, an SUV pulled up in the front of my house. Out stepped 2 beautiful, well-refined women. They introduced themselves and I introduced them to the family members that were here at the time....
Gradually, one box at a time, we helped her unload her SUV. She then took out a display case...over 6 feet tall. It matches her furniture perfectly. One penguin by one penguin, we unwrapped these little gems. Over 30 penguins later, we have a beautiful display case with an amazing collection of penguins...some over 40 years old.
I will say this analogy of our home....I know I have said it before, but it fits our situation PERFECTLY...
The home we received from Extreme Makeover is a dream come true. It is better than winning a lottery. The builder, Jimmy Jacobs, had to gather builders, carpenters, painters, carpet layers, flooring person, etc. He shut down his business for 1 full month to build our home......over 3000 volunteers, people we will never get to meet, gave up a day, 2 days, up to a week to build out home. You cannot tell people thank you enough to let them know how much that means to you.
BUT....the house is just the cake....along with the house came the opportunities to meet some of the most amazing people on this planet. The producers, directors, designers and everyone behind the scenes. Also, the community in which we live....they all embraced our children and 1 1/2 years later, it proves to still be true. These wonderful people are the ICING...the best part of the cake. The only part 4 of my children will eat. Meaghan will cherish these penguins for the rest of her life.....I will cherish the generosity of a woman who gave a prized collection to a little girl whom she knew would love the penguins as much as she has....PENGUIN PERFECTION at its best....

Sunday, April 27, 2008


April 27, 2008
I was honored to spend the last 2 days in Huntsville, Tx. I went to work with parent's and grandparent's at an autism workshop presented by the University of Texas Autism Program. This is a non-profit, self-sustaining organization started by 2 women (Pam Buchanan, a lecturer at the University of Texas and Dr. Jody Jensen, a professor of Kinesiology at UT). These 2 women have given their blood, sweat and tears for the last 12 years to this program. Autism is their passion and they offer UTAP workshops in Sensory Integration Therapy and Play Therapy to families, educators, therapists and family members who are affected by or teach children with Autism.
I have been honored to be asked to become a part of UTAP as a Parent Liason, so to speak. We are now trying to find donors who would love to see the program continue. The goal is 4.4 million dollars.....WHOA!
I was at the workshop yesterday and amongst the activities were a very gentle-looking, much older couple. I went over to meet them. These wonderful people introduced themselves as the great-grandparent's of a young Autistic boy who was attending the program with not only them, but the grandparent's as well. The young boy's parents are no where to be found. This set of Great-grandparent's have been raising this little boy since he was 9-months old.......AMAZING.
They looked at this little boy with all the love and joy ANY parent would look at a child of theirs. I spent alot of time with these two loving people.
This couple retired 10 years ago December. They were happy to be able to rest and relax and enjoy their retirement. Well, God had other plans. 2 months after they retired, entered the Great-grandson. He had no where to go.
I believe this young man has made these "GREAT"-grandparent's really know what un-conditional love is. They have had to learn patience along with having to learn how to parent a child with Autism.....yes, PARENT a child.
This little boy is well-fed, well-cared for and most of all well-loved by these 2 souls that God has picked to be his caretakers and his Guardian Angels at a time that he needs someone the most.
My wish, after meeting these two lovely people is....they live a very long life...they deserve to see the child they gave so much up for grow up and show them the lovely MAN they have helped to mold through their undying and unselfish unconditional Love. I know I have become a better person for just meeting them...how lucky this young boy is for having them as "GREAT" "GRAND" "PARENTS"....

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I really am having a hard time writing this post, but I am at my wits end about my dishwasher. We were truly blessed 1 1/2 years ago with our new home....it was to make our life easier and more efficient. I do not want anyone to feel sorry for me, we really did get an amazing gift. I jus need to vent for a brief moment.

When we received our new home, I was thrilled to see a brand new kitchen filled with gorgeous stainless steel appliances. All of them read Kenmore...except the friggin dishwasher. Lo and behold...FRIGIDAIRE....
You see, I hate Frigidaire. We had a refrigerator that had to be repaired 6 times in one year. Finally, they got the repair right. But, I had to go without a refrigerator for over 6 months during that year.

I decided to take the higher ground and give Frigidaire the benefit of the doubt and maybe, just maybe, their dishwashers were better built than the refrigerators.


The dishwasher given to us is a model PLD4375RFC...it is a piece of JUNK.

It has not worked for more than 2 months before it overheats or the control panel

starts flashing ER and "uo"....No more dishwasher.

It has been repaired FIVE times...count them FIVE times. I have not had the

luxury of a dishwasher for a total of 6 months.

This dishwasher sells for over $550.00 at most retail stores. I would not waste

any money on this appliance.

Frigidaire has answered my question when I asked them, "Are you telling me that

your appliances are built to last just 1 year..."

Yes, the person replied, that is why you should have purchased an extended warranty.


This company believes it is okay to fork out $500.00 a year for something that should

last at least 10 years.

I will be going out soon to purchase a new dishwasher...you can believe me when I say

it will not be a FRIGIDAIRE.

Now, I am off to lotion my very dry, brittle, DISHPAN HANDS.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


My son, Little Patrick, was on the ToysRUs website today, trying to convince me that he needed to get 2 new wrestling figures...he is obsessed with the WWE and TNA. This little 8-year-old boy knows every wrestler ever...living or dead.
Patrick noticed a puzzle piece with Autism written over it..they are donating money to Autism for the month of April, I believe (I could be wrong, so don't hold me to that).
Patrick asked me why they have a puzzle piece for Autism...he said, "I am not a puzzle piece".
I asked him, "If you are not a puzzle piece, then what are you"?
Confidently he said, "DUH, I AM A BOY, A PERSON, YOU KNOW"!!!!!!

YEAH, I KNOW !!!!!


And Along Came A Spider....

Who Sat Down Beside Her....

And Frightened Miss Muffet Away....


These are the first lines in the play my son was

in called "Making Lemonade"....

The premise of this wonderful 2nd grade play was the many characters of Mother Goose who were mistreated or treated people badly got together and made lemonade out of lemons. They all gathered together and drank the lemonade and became friends.

Hence, the second lines of my amazing son...

It Certainly Changed My Bad Attitude

A couple of songs later, Patrick said his last lines...

And Along Came A Spider....

Who Sat Down Beside Her...

And Made A New FRIEND Today...

A lovely message, don't you think, to teach ALL children and ALL adults about getting along in this world. If we could all just sit, for one moment, and enjoy all of the wonderful qualities our children have, instead of focusing on all of the negatives.

This little boy, who is now 8 years old, has made his own lemonade out of lemons. He was diagnosed with Autism at 18 months. He was non-verbal until the age of 4 years old. He has worked hard on his Socialization skills and his Speech and Sensory issues. He is now fully inclusioned in regular ed classes without an aide....but, he is still Autistic and Amazing.

Now, off I go to make my LEMONADE...

Friday, April 04, 2008


Deirdre wrote this poem when she was 8 years old. She wrote it for the 4th grade
talent show....she is now 13....
This was written before we knew Deirdre was diagnosed with Asperger's...

'My Autistic Sister'
Autism silences your beautiful voice

From telling me what you are feeling
What causes you to laugh
When I don't get the joke
To the tears you shed
When I don't know your pain
Or your favorite song
andWhen you hug me
when youFear the thunderstorms
Not knowing what torments you so often

Keeps me from comforting you.
Although autism silences your voice

I see love in your gleaming smile.
Even though I don't get your joke
I find myself laughing myself to tears
Just to see joy emblazoned on your face.
You are my sisterAnd that is what defines you


Needless to say, there was not a dry eye in the house.

Thursday, April 03, 2008


Meaghan wrote this for Language Arts Class...after I read it, I realized...MY JOB..

A world without somebody is a missing puzzle piece, not a complete circle, a rose, without
petals. But, when everybody is here it's complete happiness. Some kind of difference would
be nice...but I know I want things to change. But, I don't know what.
I have the world at my fingertips and the world can change. Me, myself, can do something
beautiful and I did.
It took me months to figure this something out, and I got for that a pocketful of sunshine.
My plan was to put a smile on everyone's face to make their day worthwhile. My dream is
for everybody to pass it on. To give flowers...to give Love....to put a smile on their faces.
To give and to give until you cannot give any more. That is what I want.
Something unbelievable happened. My dream came true. I DID IT. I made a
difference in the world.

Not too bad from a 10 year old girl. I know through this, we have taught her well.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


The United Nations has decided to make April 2 World Autism Day...starting this year 2008. All day long we will see pieces on Autism. We will see families struggling for services and education. We will see Jenny McCarthy, yet again, telling us about her knowledge about Autism and "curing", "recovering", "almost curing" her son....maybe she will make up her mind this time. She will go head-to-head with prominent doctors about vaccines and Autism...now that will be worth watching.
We will see Larry King massacre the pronunciation of Autism...
We will see families with multiple children saying how difficult their lives are by having so many children with Autism. We will see meltdowns and temper tantrums. We will see tears flowing from the faces of parent's who envisioned a better future for their children.

What we won't see is children and adults with Autism actually thriving in our communities. You won't see that there are children getting better and thriving every day. You won't see promotions for amazing programs out there that are seeing results from Sensory Integration Therapies and Play Therapies.
You won't see children with Autism who can go to school, sit quietly and respectfully in a classroom, because they have been inclusioned since 5 years old. You won't see parent's who have worked hard with their children and not allowed inappropriate behaviors in public....

Instead, we are going to be subjected to the "gloom and doom" bias of Autism. The Autism that requires a parent to slap a tee shirt on their child and blame their Autism for their behaviors. It is much easier not to parent that way. We are going to get to see mothers and fathers crying about the child they were supposed to have, instead of the glory of the child who is sitting right in front of them.

I think I will celebrate WORLD AUTISM DAY in our home. I will remind my children to be on their best behaviors today...because the WORLD is watching them. I will let them know they are the most wonderful, amazing children in the WORLD and I am so very proud to be their Mother. I will make sure their day...WORLD AUTISM DAY...is celebrated with joy and happiness in our home. Heck, maybe I will even bake a cake for this occasion.

So, I better get started, it is already 6:30 am and WORLD AUTISM DAY has already begun....

I found this amazing piece on CNN about a young man, living in the community....with Autism.
Thank you Dr. Gupta.


Friday, March 28, 2008


Today, as I was spending yet another day at the grocery store, spending another large amount of money on groceries, I had an amazing AHA! moment (I should be on OPRAH soon with this one).
An elderly, disabled gentleman was helping me out with my groceries...calling him a "bagboy" would be demeaning..he was so much more.
He told me he recognized me and wanted to know how the kids were...I told him they were doing great and thanks for asking. This gentleman then went on to tell me his life story and how he was institutionalized as a child until he was 18 years old. He then decided to go onto college. He earned a degree in social work in the 1960's. Because of his emotional issues, he has had a hard time holding on to a job. Now, he has been with this grocery store chain for 10 years...his longest job ever.
I went on to tell him about my aspirations and how I got to be where I am today....
I graduated college with a degree in Agriculture Education. I hated my degree and never, ever have used the degree. I then went to work with children and young adults with Autism at a residential treatment center. I loved that job, until I realized the focus was not on the children, but the money they brought in....I became disheartened.
Soon, I found myself in the hotel business...I loved that job also...I became quite good at my job and would still be doing that for my profession if not for giving birth to a beautiful little girl...who happened to need me.
I gave birth to 6 more children, 5 who happen to have Autism.....I never, ever gave a moments thought to why I gave birth to children with Special Needs. I always knew I had a reason to be on this planet...this must be the reason.
I went on to tell this lovely man, at the grocery store, that at that very moment I knew my purpose here on Earth....my purpose for being...my purpose that I have always wondered about.....
God has given me the responsibility that he decided I could handle......the responsibility to be the Mother to 6 of the most amazing children on this planet. The responsibility to make sure they succeed and be the best that they can be in this life. There is nothing more important of a job, on this Earth, that I can think of that I would want to do. I truly do thank God every day for giving me this responsiblity and promise that I will never let my children down.
Next time I see my new friend at the grocery store....I will let him know what our conversation has taught me. I will let him know what a difference he made in my life on this day.