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.

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.

Friday, March 21, 2008


Noah Connelly is a boxer with a tireless opponent: Autism. When he meets an exotic dancer named Alexia, the two will soon find that some of the hardest fights are not of the body, but of the heart.Cast:Michael WorthMargot FarleyJohn SaxonMitzi KaptureTim ThomersonKaren KimDirected by: Michael Worth
"GOD'S EARS" has been chosen to be shown at THE METHOD FILM FESTIVAL in Calabasas at 5:30 pm on Sunday March 30th.
ON SUNDAY, MARCH 30TH at 5:30 pm

I was recently caught of guard by a “little” movie that this
guy named Michael Worth wrote, directed and starred in called
“GOD’S EARS”. There wasn’t a huge crowd at the screening
But, it was a respectable amount of people. I personally was
blow away by the film and apparently I wasn’t the only one.
Also, several people who were there that night came up to Michael Worth afterwards to ask him who the actor was that played the lead! He was so convincing playing the part of an autistic person, they didn’t even recognize him!
Having grown up in “HOLLYWOOD” \and having gone through USC film school, I have seen a few films
in my day. Little did I know that this film would end up altering
my sensibilities, my pre-conceived notions and my heart for …
This insightful moving piece of art is the delicate story about a
young boxer struggling with autism and his first real relationship
with an “unlikely” partner. It creatively draws attention to the
natural hunger that all of us crave, which is to bond with each
other regardless of our human “condition” or constraints.
Aesthetically stunning to watch, “GOD’S EARS” is deeply
poignant on many levels. It not only conjured up a brand new
feeling of heartfelt compassion in me but, it infused tolerance
and manifested a fresh perspective about acceptance of others.
As far as autism is concerned, who better to act out the
plight of autism awareness than a fighter? I can’t think of a
better way than using media to interject understanding about
human suffering into mainstream consciousness.
GO TO www.brownpapertickets.com/event/31077

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

AUTISM 101...

Autism is big news lately. It is everywhere. I was watching VH1 classics yesterday, and lo and behold....Autism.
Autism is not new to me. I have been around someone with autism from the age of 11. There has always been someone with autism in my life at one time or another. From babysitting to working at a residential treatment center to giving birth to 5.
What is new to me is the fighting amongst the Autism communities.
First there is the biomedical vs. the Neurodiverse...
Second is the adults with autism vs the parent's of autistic children...
Third is the bickering between the different Autism associations;ie, CAN, NAAR, Autism Speaks, etc...
Autism to me is simple....it does not take a college course to understand.
Watching Caitlin, at a young age, seeing the tiny dust particles in the air and dancing around them....laughing at something so tiny that other's just never take the time to notice.
Watching Kiernan pour water from one cup to another, barely with a drop of water falling out. Seeing the joy this brings him.
Listening to Erin sing for 30 minutes in the shower in such a high tone without a care in the world...if we could all be that happy.
Watching Patrick with his wrestling figures during one of his make-believe matches. This from a boy whose playskills were nil just 2 years ago.
Handing Deirdre the phone after she receives a phone call from one of her many friends. Remembering last year how painfully anti-social she was, and now has become this carefree social butterfly.
My children with autism have all come so far, in such a short amount of time.
This happens, I believe, from Early Interventions such as Occupational Therapy, Play Therapy, Speech Therapy, Physical Therapy, etc.
This happens from inclusion with Neurotypical peers in regular education classrooms...I do not believe in segregating autistic children away from NT peers. Life is not segregated, why should school be?
We were approached by an Autism "Specialty" School in Austin when Caitlin was 3 years old. I was invited to come and observe a classroom they would like Caitlin to be enrolled in. I saw not only behaviors similar to Cady's, but new behaviors I did not want her to bring home.
Caitlin has been enrolled in regular education classes since she was 6 years old. Before that, she was the ONLY autistic child in her Early Childhood Classes.
Caitlin has flourished and learned so much from NT children. Her peers nurture and correct her in public if her behaviors are disturbing. Caitlin takes their cues well and alters her behavior when necessary.
I can take all of my children out in public without meltdowns. They know how to behave in public...when they were young, if they started to scream or misbehave in a public situation, we would leave the situation. We do not throw a tee-shirt on them as an excuse for them to misbehave. We do not hand out little business cards to explain their behaviors. We do not glare at people who look at our children strangely for noticing their stimming and humming. People are curious....
Autism is not focusing on why my children are different, but focusing on what makes them all unique and special individuals who have so much to offer now and in the future.
We are so very lucky have been given the opportunity to be the parent's of these children. I thank God every day for this opportunity. I hope they are as proud of us as we are of them.

Monday, March 17, 2008


In a perfect world, all people, including those with disabilities would be accepted by all people.
Today, as I was standing in line, with my children, at the San Antonio Zoo, a little girl walked by us and said, "Hi Kiernan....look Mama, Kiernan's here".
I asked the little girl how she knew Kiernan and she proudly said, "Kiernan is in my first grade class".
She then proceeded to ask Kiernan, "Kiernan, do you love the zoo"?
Of course, Kiernan did not answer...he is non-verbal. I don't think she notices he is non-verbal, I believe she thinks he is exactly like her.
Throughout the day, we would pass her and her family...the little girl would run up to Kiernan and say things like, "Kiernan, don't you just love the zoo"?, "Kiernan did you see the elephants"?, "Kiernan, how is your day going"?, etc.
I did not think about it until my ride home back to Austin. I have worked so hard to make sure my children were accepted by their peers and their community. Thanks to this beautiful little blonde-haired Angel...I AM ALREADY THERE.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


I have often been asked how we keep sane in our house with so many children, let alone so many children with Autism....
The only thing I can remember was after I had Deirdre, our second child, I was overwhelmed. I thought, "what was I thinking...2 children are hard". Now, keep in mind, Caitlin was just newly diagnosed with Autism and had all of the behaviors that come with Autism.
When I became pregnant with Erin, I thought man, this will be hard. But, after Erin was born, everything sort of fell into place. She fit into our family perfectly.
Erin was 6 months old when I found out we were pregnant with Meaghan....what the heck, I thought, Erin doesn't sleep anyways.
Meaghan was born and was perfect in every way...she did not fuss, cry or give us an ounce of trouble.
13 months later, we found out we were going to have Patrick...he had a 10% survival chance and I was put on bedrest. I prayed every night to let me carry this pregnancy to term. I still thank Go for giving me Patrick...he is the smartest little boy and loves his Mommy so much.
Patrick was 6 months old and I found out I was having twins...Yes...TWINS. After 2 months, the second twin was not progressing in the uterus and was eventually reabsorbed. So here came Kiernan.
I have never, ever regretted having our children. Even through all of the behavior issues, learning difficulties, therapies, doctors appointments and school meetings....these children were meant to be here...in THIS FAMILY.

We do not treat our children with Autism any different than we treat our child without Autism. We have never let Autism be an excuse for them to not succeed and behave. Our children are children first and foremost.
On any given day, you will find more than 6 children in our home...parent's trust us to watch their children and we are honored to have their children in our home. The parent's of these children have raised them to be non-judgemental and loving. We are honored to be their friends and have their children be our children's friends.

So, after a very long 9 days of Spring Break...school resumes tomorrow....
I will do a Happy Dance in the morning and then begin the task of cleaning all 7 bedrooms.
I love cleaning this house....it reminds me of the love in our community and why we are so blessed to have been given this house.

I have decided this week to remove myself from commenting on some message boards on 2 forums....I find the bickering and the hatefulness that goes on there disturbing in so many ways. I find there is a "pack" of parent's who survive by bleeding the life-blood out of parent's who do not think the way they do about Autism (hating it) and reject any possibility of addressing their children's positive sides with Autism.
Trust me, when they succeed and get rid of the "sane" side of Autism, or the accepting side of Autism, they will feed upon each other....you have been warned.

Right now, I need to keep the Sanity that is my home....I need to continue to spread positive awareness about Autism. I need to keep hope alive in parent's who are inundated with negatives about how their children's lives will be with Autism.....
I need to show them children with Autism are vital and important...they do not need to be "fixed" or "cured"...these children need to feel they are perfect in the eyes of the people they love so much.
How sad some do not....

Saturday, March 15, 2008


I have questioned my existence since I was a small girl. I was very much in a different place than most of my peers. I always knew there was a reason for everyone to be here, but never was quite sure of my place.
I was the middle child of a middle-class family. I have an older sister (we are estranged right now)...we won't always be, but she hurt me emotionally very much when I needed her the most) and a younger brother (whom is 9 years younger, so we are in very different places emotionally). My brother is a good person, just doing his own thing.
My father worked alot and then my mother, so we were responsible for alot of things, like keeping the house clean and making sure my brother ate lunch and dinner. We raised show cattle, so I spent alot of time with my heifers and my steers.
My mother was a former beauty queen and my father was a former football star. My sister is gorgeous with blonde hair and blue eyes and my brother is also blonde with blue eyes. Here I was dark brown hair and dark brown eyes....what happened there?

I was not happy with my looks growing up....I wanted to be fair haired badly.
I was thin, but not skinny. I started gaining weight during puberty and was made fun of for being chubby. About the age of 14, I started dieting. By 15, I was completely into anorexia. I was down to 72 pounds and on the verge of dying. My poor parent's did not know what to do..anorexia was not well-known at the time.
I was sent to a hospital and there I began therapies with a wonderful psychiatrists named Dr. Matthews. He was thoughtful and kind....he listened to me when others found it hard to listen.
He made me understand that the anorexia is not about the food, it is about the control of the food.
I became better and was sent home.....but, I still had conflicts about my existence. Why was I put on this Earth?

I went off to college at 17 years of age. I met new and exciting people. I was away from the small school I went to...Pflugerville, with my class of around 80 students...and into a much larger college..SWTSU...
I met lifelong friends there and majored in Agriculture Education...which, by the way, I have never used my degree for anything pertaining to Agriculture.

During college, I started working at the Brown School's or San Marcos Treatment Center...a residential facility for emotionally and mentally disturbed children and young adults.
My first dorm was a dorm with mentally challenged young women and women.....including my 1:1 who was and Autistic 16 year old female. I adored Kim....she was non-verbal and flapped and jumped. When she escaped out of our locked dorm, she ran naked down the hill straight to the convenience store...with staff running after her. She so reminds me of Caitlin and Kiernan.
I worked there for many years....I loved the job. I got burned out after about 5 years and decided to try another career path.

I started working for Sheraton Reservations and became a 1-800 reservations call taker. I quickly moved up to Support/Customer Service. Through that job, I went to New York City and interviewed for a job at The Sheraton Centre Hotel and Towers. I got the job and moved to NYC in June of 1987.
Through a co-worker, I met Patrick, my husband.
We fell in love very quickly and before you know it, I was pregnant with Caitlin.

My dad fell very ill with lung cancer and we moved back to Austin.....here, I decided nobody could care for Caitlin like I could, because she screamed all of the time as an infant and was beginning to show signs of Autism...it took many doctors to finally diagnose her at 2 1/2 years of age. So, I had a registered in-home daycare. I took care of other people's babies...and I was good at it.
I began to get a reputation for being a great daycare provider. I went to school on weekends to learn more about Early Childhood and to get my Second Helping certificate...that was hard work.

By the time I had Kiernan, I had to quit taking in other children. He was very hard to handle, and with 6 children, it was all I could do to get them to therapies and deal with everyday life.

There was not anything I did not think my children couldn't do because of the Autism. I expected the same things from them that I would expect from any child. I believe them to be children first and then children with Autism would come in second or third.
Our children are to get good grades, C's are not acceptable for our children. They are to be polite and courteous to everyone. They are to sit in a chair in school and sit quietly while the teacher is teaching....unfortunately, other children don't seem to have the same respect for the teacher's as they should.

When I am asked how our children are so wonderful in public, it is because we expect them to be. We would not allow anything but good behaviors.
When you walk into our home, you do not find chaos....you find children.
Last Saturday, there were 10 children in our home. I had 2 that were sleeping over and 2 that a friend of mine asked me to watch for a few hours. No one has second thoughts about letting their children play with our children. Our children are non-aggressive and loving. They share their toys and are happy when other children come over.
We are blessed with a happy home, for the most part. I am happy with how I look and how I feel about myself. I am 47 years old and have come to a point in my life where I do not "sweat the small stuff".

As I sit here, with Kiernan on my lap, giving me kisses and hugs...I know my reason for being here. I know that my purpose was to raise 6 of the most amazing children God has put on this Earth. I know my job is to continue to make sure they are accepted in Society and with that I must make sure Society is accepting of our children.
I don't think this will be as hard as other people think it will be....I think we are all ready for acceptance and the willingness to allow our children to be part of our communities. I know in our community it works well.

So, now that I know my purpose...I must do what I was put on this great, big, beautiful Earth to do....that is to raise my children with Autism and with that is to raise Awareness to everyone about Autism.
This starts NOW......get ready.

Monday, March 10, 2008

HOME...Where You Can Be A BEE...

I was grocery shopping, with Caitlin, a few years ago. She was not happy with the song selection on the intercom at the store. She started her buzzing noise and it got progressively louder.
I turned to her and gently said, "Caitlin, you are buzzing too loud".
Caitlin said, "You are not a bee"....
I said, "that is right, You are not a bee"...
Caitlin then turned to me and said, "You can be a bee at home"...

So, as I sit here typing, I hear my oldest daughter upstairs buzzing away -happily.
She is home...where she can be a BEE....

Saturday, March 08, 2008


I have been living with a child with Autism for 17 years. I have been around for 17 years of "the next big thing" in Autism.
First, there was the B6 and Magnesium mixture that Dr. Rimland swore would make Caitlin speak after 2 to 6 week of taking it. Yes, we spent $32.00 a month on money we did not have to buy this formula, only to have it NOT WORK.
Second, we had the ABA that they swore would make Caitlin act more "normal"...again, BOGUS.
Third, we were on the list for the first round Secretin trials....I thank God we did not do that one.
Fourth, we were promised, by a famous doctor that if we put our children on a GFCF diet, they would be "cured" or "recovered".....I won't go there. They know who they are, and they know what they did.
Fifth, another "famous" doctor from California told us our children were not Autistic but had a Neurological Immune Deficiency...my friend swore this doctor would "cure" her son, and he promised me the same with my children...guess what, her child is still severe...
he never sold me on his bologna.
Sixth, chelation....I never even wanted to go near this one.....SUPER SCARY.
Seventh, B12 shots...
Eighth, Lupron...

Now, because parent' s have won a case from the Government citing that their child was damaged from the vaccines she received, every parent of an Autistic child is going to see whether or not their child has the same disorder as the child who won the case.

I wish all these parent's well. I wish their children more than that.
I am afraid now for what these children are going to have to endure for their parent's to
be okay with their Autism.
I hope this hysteria blows over quickly, for the children's sake.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


I watched a home-made video today of a little boy who is in a foreign country
receiving stem cells. His father asks him, "What are they doing to you"?
The little boy replies, "fixing me"...
The father says, "that's right".

So, this beautiful, verbal, little boy...who happens to be Autistic...is feeling "broken".

The messages sent to this child, who has been through many procedures to "fix" him is
that he is not complete.

We, as parent's, need to be very careful of the messages we send to our children.
Children are very smart and no matter what, we need them to know that they are
not broken, even with Autism.....

I feel very sad right now...sad for all of the children who have been made to believe
they are "broken" and need to be "fixed"....

Sunday, March 02, 2008


When Caitlin was first diagnosed with Autism, way back in 1994, my first reaction was shock. As time went by, my shock turned to sadness. I don't know why I was sad, but I felt a loss for Caitlin.

After the sadness, I realized I needed to become more knowledgeable about Autism, so off to the downtown library we went. Every Saturday morning, after breakfast, a very pregnant me, Caitlin and Patrick went to the big library...they had a larger choice of books about Autism (which was slim pickings, by the way). I read every book there was to read on Autism....scared the heck out of me.

I remember after reading the Parent's Guide to Autism...I was thrilled. It gave step-by-step instructions on how to handle your emotions with Autism.

I was up to the loss part....

Next came anger. The book stated that it would be a good idea to call everyone you know with a "normal" child and let them know that you will be distancing yourself from them for a while. You did not need to hear all of the milestones their child was going through, while your child was struggling. OK, so I got mad. I thought I had to fight for everything. I thought it was okay for me to let Caitlin run wild in the doctors office, at the mall, at the grocery store.....all because she has Autism, I could let her behavior be horrible.....

Caitlin started Early Childhood at the age of 3. Her teacher was Mary Allen. She was perfect for Caitlin. Caitlin would try to pull her crap with Mary, and Mary would not have it. Mary DID NOT let Caitlin's autism be an excuse for her bad behavior. It was through Mary Allen that I learned that Caitlin did not have bad behavior, just because she had Autism.

Once I saw what Caitlin was capable of, my anger flew out the window. I learned how amazingly smart she was. She was reading, writing and communicating through sign language and PECS before she was 4 years old. This child's brain was enormous and just because she was non-verbal, she could communicate finally. That opened a huge door for Caitlin.

Caitlin was the role model for us to use with our subsequent children. She was the one who taught us that it is okay to embrace the Autism...not hate it. Once we let Caitlin "shine" and show us the true person she was meant to be, she became calmer.

We are always commented on the good behavior of our children, out in public...at home, they are siblings who argue and bicker. They are reminded to pick up their rooms and put their dishes in the dishwasher.
Caitlin and Kiernan are allowed to stim and allowed to be their "autistic" selves.
Deirdre is a true teen-ager with all the angst that includes. She is sure we are "stupid" and she will teach us to be smarter. She has her group of friends and loves the church and her church family.
Erin, Patrick and Meaghan always have friends over and on Saturday, I had 12 children in my home for a play date. Their friends are not on the spectrum, yet consider my children peers and never judge them for their differences. They help them when needed. My children have great friends.

I am NOT saying that you should not help your child with Autism, we work very hard with Speech, OT, PT, Play Therapy, Sensory Integration Therapy, Recreational Therapy, Music Therapy and Massage Therapy. We want our children to be able to go out into society and have the skills they need to succeed. They are working very hard at this.

My final step, in learning to help my child(ren) with Autism was to learn to Embrace the Autism itself. My children were put here for me to be their mother for a reason. I have learned that they are each an individual first and I needed to learn how to nurture their individual needs.
God gave me these amazing children and with the children came Autism. I could "hate" the Autism, but in turn, I would not be the best mother I could be. Instead, I "embrace" the autism and with that I embrace the children that were meant to be.....SUPERB!