- 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.
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Thursday, October 14, 2010
I have a strained voice from my cold so I am not speaking in my normal
Caitlin said, "You're voice is sick !!"
I said, "Just a cold Caitlin, but Thanks"..
Caitlin said, "I will share my cough drops with you"...!!!
To the studies that state there is no Empathy with AUTISM...
YOU have not met MY children....!!!!
I know Short but Sweet...!!!
BUT...worth telling !!!
Tuesday, September 07, 2010
"GOD'S EARS" IS A FILM FULL OF HOPE
Written, Directed and Starring Michael Worth
As a mother of 6 children, 5 autistic, I rarely have a chance to even watch a film but, I heard about this film called "GOD'S EARS" about an autistic young man well over a year ago and I finally just received the DVD and I have watched it 4 times already! Up until now, the only way you could see the film is if you were actually at a film festival. Finally, the filmmaker is now ONLY selling it off his website which is www.godsears.com
The story is about a fictional character named Noah Connelly who is a boxer with a tireless opponent: Autism. When he meets a "dancer" named Alexia, the two discover together that the toughest fight may be not be of the body, but of the heart. You see, some people are not fighting to win...
First let me say that Michael Worth did an amazing job with his gestures, movement and inflection in his voice when portraying a person with Autism. His acting was impeccable. When he spoke of his knowledge with the different varieties of eggs...he was "dead on.”
Tim Thomerson has always been a favorite of mine and he solidified that with me in this film. What a talented man. I have had a huge crush on John Saxon, going way back to when I was a little girl...He did not disappoint me!!!
I watched the movie with my 13-year-old daughter Erin. Erin was diagnosed with autism at 2 years old. She has since come so far and is on honor roll in regular Middle School in 8th grade. She is brilliant and I really wanted her insight into the movie.
Erin states the Autism community is often "misunderstood and under-represented.” I told you, she is brilliant. I asked Erin if she thought it would be possible for a person with autism to fall in love, as Noah did at the end of "God's Ears"... Erin said, "Why Not"??? Autism is such a complex disorder and they are each different and unique in their own way.
Temple Grandin once stated, "I often wonder...what would a totally normal brain be like.” "It might be really boring" Temple is right...Normal is so very over-rated.
My husband and myself have much work ahead of us! Not only do we have to prepare our children for society but, we have to prepare society for our children....
I truly hope "God's Ears" will help prepare society a little bit more, and I think it will. In this film, Noah shows us not only can a person with "differences" find love and acceptance, but the people who he is touched by are first touched by him.
Every person has a story, and every story needs to be told....But it is taking the time to listen that makes the difference! Those who took the time to listen to Noah, learned a lot.....!!!!
An autistic boxer and a nomadic stripper form a tenuous friendship that helps them both to better understand the world that appears to have left them both behind. Noah Connelly (Michael Worth) is an aspiring boxer from Oakland, California. Most of Noah's days are spent cleaning the floors at his local gym, patiently waiting for the perfect moment when he'll finally step into the ring and his future will come into focus. To the casual observer Noah leads an entirely unremarkable existence, though exotic dancer Alexia (Margot Farley) is far from the casual observer. One day, after crossing paths seemingly by chance, Noah and Alexia begin to affect the way Alexia views the opposite sex. To this point in her life, Alexia has taken a somewhat transient approach to relationships. Now, as her friendship with Noah begins to show signs of becoming something more serious, Alexis discovers that her approach to love may hint at a deeper pain that she isn't sure she possesses the power to confront. Encouraged by the owner of the gym (John Saxon) to introduce Alexia to his family, Noah invites her on a journey that will take her out of her comfort zone while challenging her entire perception of love. Perhaps if Alexia can find the courage to confront her deepest fears, Noah can summon the self-confidence to strap on the gloves and prove himself as a true pugilist. Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide
Monday, August 23, 2010
being abused on her school bus by a person who thought it was okay to abuse a child with
This brought me back to when our oldest daughter, Caitlin, who started school 16 years ago.
I remember meeting the bus in my drive way and watching a woman yank my child out
of her car seat and scream at her to "get the hell out of the seat"....
I said to myself..."don't say a word...go inside and make the phone call"....over and over
again in my head. I mean...if this woman would do this in front of me...what was she
doing behind my back?
I went in the house and called the bus company and explained that if this person was on
the bus the next day...there would be trouble.
I then called the Principle of the school and stated that if this is what AISD hired for bus
attendants...we were going to have a problem.
Fast forward, 3 years later, my beautiful daughter came home from school with bruises
down her back. Come to find out...her teacher was abusing her.
We, as parent's have to trust the people we entrust our children to...unfortunately...these
people are not always Good People...they are evil.
A good person would not take advantage of someone who was unable to defend themselves...
someone who is adored at home and does not know that there are people out there that
could care less about them.
I hope my child(ren) do not think that I knew about this pain that would be put upon them...
I hope they know that I had NO idea that this was happening....after all... I put them on that
bus and in that classroom.
I know, at that time, my trust in the education system went out the window...
I just want to let Kim know....
We have had 5 more children go through the system...
our children have come in contact with many educators and bus drivers and attendants
who have adored and loved our children.....
Our faith has been restored...but, we are always leery of someone new who comes in
contact with our children....
I truly am sorry your daughter had to go through this....I am sorry you and your husband
had to feel the pain....
We really need to continue to fight for our children....and with us...it continues into
When I go to bed each night, I thank God for my children....
I pray they are well protected and live long lives. I thank God for giving me the
precious gifts that he bestowed upon me....
I just wish every one saw our kids that way !!!!
Monday, July 05, 2010
Independence must be a way of life around here.
I am working full-time and loving my job. Who knew I could be a mom of 6 children and still
get to enjoy working in a career I am actually pretty good at?
I work with the most supportive persons and they strive to see each person succeed. So far,
2 promotions...and yes, I am working on a third.
My children are stepping up to the plate as well. They have been taught the basics of cooking, so far, so good !!!
They can scramble their own eggs at breakfast along with toast or a waffle, make their sandwiches and soup at lunch....
Now...dinner is up to me.
Even though I am a bit tired after work, cooking is my "valium"...along with the glass of wine
I drink while I prepare dinner.
I cook a meal every night...on Saturday and Sunday...I prepare several meals for the week for
eating during lunch or leftovers.
I am very proud of the way my family is allowing me the privilege to have a career after always
having me at home and available for them.
Today, after work, I took Caitlin to Walmart to get her Yu-Gi-Oh cards for the month. She picks out her cards, stands in check-out, and pays with her own money. She knows exactly how much change she is to get and tells the cashier. They are pretty nice about her telling them their job, but they realize pretty early on she has a disability.
I am so very proud of her. Caitlin has come so far.
Kiernan is in school until the 29th of July. He needs the structure school gives him. And, he
adores the teachers where he attends Summer School. He is loved there and they beam at every accomplishment he makes.
Kiernan loves the bus ride and the bus driver and attendant take very good care of him.
Independence is vital for our kids. I do not want them relying on others for their every day
needs. It is my job as their mother to prepare them for the future.
That must include keeping the house clean (I am working on that one), picking up their rooms (they are pretty good at this), doing laundry and being able to cook and feed themselves.
I have no doubt they will succeed....
As hard as it will be to eventually see them leave our home, I hope to have the satisfaction that Patrick and myself helped them be Independent....
Now, if they want to stick around a bit longer than what is expected...that is so very alright with me...
Maybe I am more dependent on my children than they are dependent on me!!!
Hmmm...that's a thought !!!
Thursday, July 01, 2010
Okay..I have had very short hair for many, many years....
In 1985, I had hair down to my buttocks... My hair is so curly, that I French-braided it every day before I went to school and work.
Around 1985, Sheena Easton came out with an album. On her album, Sheena had a very cute short haircut....I wanted that haircut. I went to 3 different stylists and they each said to me, "it will be too drastic"... A friend of mine took me to her hair stylist who massacred my hair....so, the next day I went to work at The San Marcos Treatment Center... 2 co-workers of mine...Renee Bratton and Karla Sawyer said to me, "Oh, no way"...and proceeded to cut my hair the way I wanted...just like Sheena Easton...
Okay, long story not so short (no pun intended)... I have had short hair since 1985..until this year... I have let my hair grow out a bit (for personal reasons)..
So, with my naturally curly hair..I use Pantene for curly hair...I LOVE IT !!!
My 16-year-old daughter, Deirdre comes down with tears in her eyes tonight... I asked her what' up...she says," I saw a YouTube about a Pantene commercial and it made me sad".... "Would you watch it with me?"... Of course, absolutely... It is from Pantene... I knew I used this product for a reason... I totally understand why Deirdre loves this video..when you see it..you will understand Deirdre too....
I am so very proud to be the mother of this extraordinary young adult...she has a heart and feels emotions. This is a huge breakthrough for her....
Deirdre also plays the violin and must see herself through this young woman with a disability. But, in my eyes...Deirdre is not disabled but a fully functional child with empathy...
What Mom could want more from a child?
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
We are moving forward.
Caitlin graduated from high school and is taking the Summer off before starting a program through
Goodwill this Fall. She is continuing with her Recreation Therapist...the amazing Keara...and enjoying her time off.
Deirdre will start Driver's Education in a couple of weeks...believe it or not...this is much more an anxiety problem for me than it is for Deirdre. She will begin 11th grade next year and is considering many college choices...OH MY !!!
Erin is 13 years old...opinionated and WAYYYY too tall for her age. She is just shy of 5'11" and carries herself like a model. Now, I know she is smart...but, I do need to remind her that I have a bit more life experience than she has...
Meaghan is your very typical 12-year-old girl....MAKEUP, CLOTHES and the occasional BOY...
Yes, in that order Thank Goodness !!!
Patrick went to Germany with his Grandmother, as an exchange program with our elementary school...he is the 4th and last child of ours to go...
It was tough for him at first, but he managed...
He is one good little boy !!
Kiernan started Summer school last week and will continue until the end of July. They adore him, as usual. He is pure joy.
Now, don't get me wrong, he is very challenging, but hey, that is parenting...
Patrick got a promotion, as did I...
We still have big bills to pay and feeding these growing kids is not easy..but,
I would not change my life for anything.
Every now and then, I still sneak over to the old Autism forums and lo and behold...
there they are...
The same ol', same ol'...
ranting about the same ol', same ol'...
Sort of like the Soap Opera you watched in college...then, years later you turn them on to
see if it has changed...NOPE !!!
D is still ranting and raving and doing that Right-fighting thing she does so well as well as
forgetting that just because you remove a comment, does not mean we do not remember it...
Can you say lighter ???!!!
Someone who is NoOne is still...well, NOBODY !!!
Someone who says Autism is Reversible still has anger issues...OY!!!...
you get what I am saying..
The hypocrisy is still rampant. They put down a reporter for reporting on their precious Boyd Haley and his concoction for being a former "cupcake" reporter...yet,
they forget their own David Kirby was once reporting on the Gay beaches in Puerto Villarta!!!
What made Mr. Kirby suddenly become the poster child for investigative reporting?
Oh, that's right, he wrote what they wanted to hear!!!
Got it :)...
So, in this amazing house of mine...
without biomedically made up chemicals (can you say OSR ?), Chelation,
GFCF diets, B12 shots, or any of the other suggestive treatments from these
we are thriving..
we are making progress..
Isn't that all we want from our children???
We don't need to "recover" or "cure" what is not broken...
we need to nurture and love what we are blessed with...
the results are amazing!!
Saturday, June 05, 2010
Yep, this young woman, with a 3.6 GPA has graduated.
Am I a proud mama...???
YOU BETCHA !!!
This young lady has worked her butt off...she kept her cool in classes...she did her homework
( yes..by herself)...she earned her grades.
I sat amongst several thousand parent's, relatives and friends in a very large arena and thought to myself...
"will Caitlin freak out....???"
"will she be able to hold it together???"
"will she be able to cross the stage, shake several hands, get her picture taken, and then
walk off without a hitch???"
YOU BETCHA !!!
So, I proudly announce the graduating Senior...CAITLIN CAROLE O'DONNELL...Anderson High School Class of 2010.!!
Monday, May 17, 2010
I have given up on the daily "Age of Anger" blog that I would read every morning to rile
me up....same old, same old...
I think pretty soon, their redundancy will play out and people will move on...
I mean, you can only sell so many books...right???
This past month, Deirdre turned 16 years old and took a trip with her choir class. She acclimates well to travel and all the anxieties that come with the travel; ie, restaurants they stop at, bedding issues, too many girls in the bathroom, etc.
Caitlin brought home her cap and gown today...yes, I welled up...I am so proud of her!!
I took a tour of the GO PROJECT !! that Caitlin will be attending until she is 22 years old.
My Mom went with me and it was amazing. The young adults were happy and enjoyed what they were doing. They were surrounded by people who love them and I am so happy Caitlin has been accepted into their program.
Yes, I realized after touring the program that my daughter is severely disabled...but, I could not be more proud of her.
You see...I do not look at my children's life as ending when they received the Autism diagnosis...
I look at this as a different avenue that we have to take.
Their autism really doesn't have anything to do with me...other than the fact that it has made me a better person...and most important...a better mother.!!
At the tender age of 49, I was hired by a company that I worked for in my early 20's. I was blessed that they decided to hire me again.
In the last 7 months, I have gotten 3 promotions.
I love my job. I love working full-time.
I am blessed to be able to make my own schedule.
I am blessed that my children have adapted to my routine and they have made me so very proud.
I am blessed that I have a husband who said, "Good for you, try it, and if it doesn't work out, quit".....
I am most glad that several years ago, I discovered many people who had the same thoughts I did about Autism....
I scoured blogs and websites hoping to find people who did not despair and cry about Autism, but instead...chose a different viewpoint. I have found some really cool people who have some of the same ideas and beliefs I do.
We do not always agree, but, we seem to keep it civil.
I could then release the anger that I was holding onto..
which, in turn, made my children so much happier !!
I have been the mother of children with autism for over 19 years. I have learned so much from my oldest child down to my youngest.
The rules of Autism have changed in the last 19 years also.
Due mostly to the fact that too many people have their hands in the pot...and some of them should not be in there at all.
My heart aches for the children whose parent's feel they must neglect their other children, or blame the Autistic child for them not spending enough time with their other children.
I do not grieve the loss of my children....they are standing right in front of me and I choose to bask in their glory....
I do not feel cheated or defeated...but,
I feel honored and blessed to be able to be in their presence and that God has chosen me to carry that honor of being their Mother !!!!
Monday, April 19, 2010
Well, if you are not, don't you think it is about time you become aware of Autism?
We all know someone who has autism...or, someone who's child(ren) have autism. There are autistic kids in your family, school, neighborhood and city. You see them every day, whether you
notice them or not...they are around you.
People with autism have ALWAYS been around you...you probably just did not notice.
I babysat a child with autism when I was 11 years old. I am 49...you do the math!!!
I worked with autistic teenagers while going to college. That was from 1980 until 1985, when
I decided to follow another career path (again, you do the math)...
People who state there were no autistic adults 30 years ago led a very sheltered life. Just Google insane asylums and you will see photos of rooms filled with naked, heavily-medicated, poorly cared for adults. They were called "insane", "mentally retarded", "schizophrenic" and basically, thrown away from society so we did not have to see them. They were not offered an education and, well, let's just be honest...put away until their death.
I would imagine that a great majority of those patients would be considered autistic these days. I would imagine their parent's would not be advised to medicate them to where they are non-functional and completely lethargic. They would be offered an education and therapies. The parent's would have hope their children would not be doomed for a life of "hell"...
I know, I know....there are some parent's who still believe the diagnosis of autism is a definition for a life that is doomed....
Not this Momma....ain't gonna happen on my watch....
Five of our children carry the autism label...they are functioning in society and society has
so-far, opened up its arms wide and strong for my children.
Caitlin, 19, who is labeled severely autistic will graduate from high school in June. She has been accepted into a program that will train her and help her find her way after high school. I could not be any more proud of her than if she was accepted to an Ivy League college....she continues to amaze me.
Deirdre, 16 in May, who is labeled with Asperger's Syndrome , is already touring colleges. She has already seen colleges in Texas and Louisiana. She still struggles with her social cues, but her friends understand her and love her. Not bad for a Sophmore in High school.
Erin, 13, PDD-NOS, is on the student council, performs at UIL choir functions and was selected to perform at Cafe night. She has an amazing voice. She is tall and statuesque. She also has some social issues, but maintains a tight-knit group of friends. She has managed to keep her honor roll, straight A status since Elementary school.. Not too shabby for 7th grade.
Meaghan, 12, NT, is becoming quite the social butterfly. I just wish her interest in make-up would be replaced by a bigger interest in her math grade...
She is witty and like it or not...a lot like her mother.
Little Patrick, 10, PDD-NOS, has just been selected for the Safety Patrol Squad at school. Quite an honor to be selected, by the way. He is in his 2nd season of Little League and he loves his baseball. He still obsesses about the weather, and worries about his Uncle Wayne in Oklahoma (tornadoes, ya know?)...I am hoping he channels this into a future as a meteorologist. He has a great group of little boys he calls friends with amazing parent's who love him.
and Kiernan...9, with severe autism is pure energy and motion. Still non-verbal, but don't give up on him yet. He is loud when he wants to be heard. Yes, he is in dire need of a haircut (kinda looks like David Cassidy in the 1970's), but...his classmates and friends love his hair..He has also maintained straight A's...smart as a whip this one!!!
My family has an amazing support group around us. I know I could call any one of them to be here when I need them...And they have never disappointed us !!!
They love our kids and our kids love them back...
So, back to my original question...
Are You Aware of Autism???
Well...you are NOW!!!!
Monday, March 22, 2010
Kiernan was in a great mood and even though we had to park very far away...he followed
every direction given to him
When the doctor saw him he said..."Oh, my...he is in such a good mood, let's go ahead and
take his blood pressure"..
You see..usually, Kiernan does not like that little bit of pressure put on his arm.
Prior to going to our appointment, I had printed out an application for a disability placard and
license plates for Kiernan. He is so happy when we go shopping that sometimes he jolts out
into the traffic...I thought it would not hurt to ask so we could park closer for him...
The application stated "Permanent Disability" or "Temporary Disability"....
After reading the document...our doctor stated "this would be a Permanent Disability...
Autism is permanent..."
Of course...I had to open my big mouth...
I said,"According to Jenny McCarthy...Autism can be diagnosed , taken away, and then
re-diagnosed...depending on the "toxic overload (dontcha know ?)"..!!!
The great doctor said...."You know...she is not a scientist nor a physician, don't you?"
"The only reason they even print her is to sell the magazine"...!!
Did I tell you he was "BRILLIANT" ?
My children have a Permanent Disability....it is not a come and go diagnosis.
Any doctor that would actually diagnose Jenny McCarthy's son with Autism , un-diagnose him,
then re-diagnose him again (I guess depending on what book or television show she is selling) is not really a very reputable doctor after all, are they? I have my guess about what kind of DAmN doctor they are..., but there is no way in heck that a reputable doctor would diagnose a child with autism and then remove the label and then put the label back when it deemed necessary.
I accept my children's disabilities...
I know they have a long road ahead of them...
I will help them down every path that lies ahead for them...
In the Neurologist's office, while Kiernan and I waited, was a little girl. She was so tiny...maybe
18 months to 2 years old. She had a facial deformity and every one was staring at her.
She walked up to Kiernan, who was rocking in his chair....this little Angel touched his leg (she was aptly named Sunshine...you cannot make that up!!)...
Kiernan touched her face...
I said," Hey pretty girl...this is Kiernan"..
Her mother said, "thank you"....
Our children's disabilities may be permanent....
But, temporarily today, I saw two children who could care less that either one was permanently disabled in any way, shape, or form......
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Bonnie Skala Kiladitis http://survivingmotherhood-mom26children.blogspot.com/ Blogger mom whose 5 (of 6) kids have ASD. I've never read about someone so anti-biomedical. She's certainly earned her right to speak but she's quite negative towards DAN! (P.S. Certainly does not surprise me that it's an AOL article - they get $$$ from Pharma ads.)
March 14 at 4:46pm · View Feedback (2)Hide Feedback (2) · Report
Kim Rossi Stagliano
She appeared on Extreme Home Makeover - many of us (who found the GFCF diet ameliorated behaviors) commented on the grilled cheese sandwiches she was making as she spoke of her child who liked to break things. I wish them well - it's not easy to have more than one on the spectrum that's for sure. I have three. She has 5! Wow.
March 15 at 2:40pm · Report
Good for her. Let her continue in her misery. Fact is she is like many who are too lazy to do what it takes.Only fanatics get to recover their kids.
Fri at 9:50pm · Report
Do you know me?
Friday, March 19, 2010
Jenny McCarthy has an interview with Hollywood Life while attending Chelsea Handler's book
Ms. McCarthy states that her son has been "undiagnosed" with Autism...yet, and this is a HUGE
yet...he might get Autism back because Autism is toxic overload and you never know if he will be overloaded again...
Kind of hilarious coming from a woman who touts botox injections....(talk about hypocrisy)...!!!
Here is the excerpt:
Jenny McCarthy couldn’t be happier with her son’s marked improvement. Although recent reports suggested that her 7-year-old son, Evan, was wrongly diagnosed with autism in 2005, Jenny insists to us exclusively that her son DID have the disorder, but has since been cured thanks to advances in treatment.
“My son is completely better…You wouldn’t be able to tell!” Jenny, 37, raved to us at her friend Chelsea Handler’s Chelsea, Chelsea, Bang, Bang book launch party at the Beverly Hilton March 17. “I think autism is toxic overload … it might come back. But for now, he’s undiagnosed.”
Watch the video to hear Jenny discuss some side effects Evan is still experiencing, including ADD-like symptoms, as well as where she sees her son’s diagnosis in the future.Now see...this is the type of statements made by Jenny and her crew that really gets my
Autism is a diagnosis that has been so misused by people who are so desperate for a "cure"
that they actually think you can remove the label....
In the interview..Jenny states he is a bit ADD, but that is it....
ADD is a behavior with Autistic children...
And, if this is true, why is this young boy still being taught in a school for Autistic
And Jenny....Autism does not come and go...that is just pure crap...
I just wish you would mind what you say before you open your uneducated, misinformed,
Parent's like myself, who are out there fighting every day for services for our children are
getting a bit ticked off because you make Autism seem so nonchalant....
Easy come...easy go !!!!
For all the parents out there that think Autism is "toxic overload" or "mercury poisoning"...
do me a favor...
Remove the autism diagnosis from your child now.....
that way more services will open up for our children who respond to the proven therapies
Autism is not a diagnosis to play with. We worked hard to try to get the diagnosis for our oldest daughter over 18 years ago. It was not an easy diagnosis to get from even a neurologist. But, the diagnosis meant the door opened wide for better services and more of them.
18 years later, I have to beg for these services. I have to sit and watch as my daughter's therapies were cut in half due to lack of funds.
If you watch the interview with Jenny...you see that she states Evan speaks, has eye contact and makes new friends....
So do my autistic kids....
My kids relish hugs and kisses...they love to grab my face and look at me and others.
They love to maintain contact with us and those around them.
All but Kiernan are verbal...and believe me, we know what he wants when he wants it...
Don't get me wrong...I am thrilled Evan speaks and maintains eye contact....that is wonderful.
But, please...and I mean PLEASE....
Don't use the Autism label as a label that can be put on a child and taken off just because their
"toxins" are overloaded....
that is doing harm to parent's who are really trying hard to maintain services without disrupting our children's lives.
Autism is not like a bandage...you don't put the label on when it is deemed necessary and remove it when they are "better".
ARE YOU KIDDING ME ???
Thursday, March 18, 2010
after being a stay-at-home mom for over 10 years.
Yeah, I had some part-time writing gigs with some internet companies, but to be
fully employed with benefits was a huge step for me and my family.
First off, I had to find someone I could count on to help me care for my amazing kids while
I was in training and while I am upstairs at work....Enter Helen Hutka....
She came in and filled in...
From day one...when I had to go in-office to work for training...I did not worry one little bit
about my kids.
Second, I had to adjust my daily cooking schedule. Now, I spend most of my days off
making the meals for the week. It works out well. Not really a big deal after all.
Third, I had to learn to use my time more wisely. I am still working really hard on this.
It is getting better...but, I have more to learn on this subject.
So, after 6 months and one promotion...yep, I got promoted in February...it seems that this
is the career for me for many years to come.
I am so happy to have a career at the tender age of 49.
Gone are my days of obsessing over the internet and who is writing what about who on
the Autism web sites. Gone are my days of the petty bickering on the autism forums...
and frankly, I do not miss it one bit.
I work from home, so I get to see my kids during my afternoon break. I get to ask how their
days were and what is for homework....
I get smiles and hugs...
Who could ask for more than that during a work day?
Most of all....
My family has stepped up to the plate to allow their middle-aged wife and mom to fulfill
her dream to actually work a corporate job and be really good at it. They don't question my
hours (which I get to set, btw) and know when my door is shut...it stays shut.
They take care of each other very well....I am so very proud of how they have matured in
the last few months. I hope we had taught them well....and I guess this proves it.
This last Sunday, my interview with AOL Health was posted on the front page of AOL. I had
many people complement me. I had a couple of nasty remarks on my blog, but just a couple.
What surprised me the most was a couple of family members who emailed me and questioned
my motives along with a couple of friends who decided that they did not like that I got some
attention....that is okay....
I had a friend remind me that true friends celebrate our highs and help us through our lows...thanks Kim ;)
In the long run...it is my friends and family who stand by us when we are at our highs and our
lows...who realize the amount of work it takes for our family to be the amazing family we are.
We could not have done it without the family members and friends who have become our family who stood by us for many years. It is you guys who make us complete....
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
So, the traditional Irish fare is in order for tonight.
I worked a full day, out of the house today...ran to Randall's (our grocery store), bought
some Irish cheese, Guinness Stout beer, cabbage, potatoes and yes...the corned beef (which
is now filling my kitchen with the aroma of St. Paddy's Day).
You see...I have to St. Patrick's in this house...and they love their day.
So, as they are out practicing with Little Pat's baseball team..I am making sure they will
have their "Saintly" dinner.
My only dilemma...do I really want to make the Irish Soda Bread??
Do I really have a choice ??
HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY....
because after all...today we are all a bit Irish, aren't we???
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Yesterday, we went to the burial of a life-long friend of my family's. He was probably the nicest, kindest man I have ever met, short of my own father. Bill was married to his wife for 52 years and the devoted father of 2 girls.
We were raised with this family as if they were our true relatives. We would take camping trips as far away as Wyoming with them. We loved and fought like sisters.
Every New Years Day was spent watching football at either their home in San Antonio or our home in Austin.
My son, Patrick, was the most patient I have ever seen him. He sat for over 3 hours. He had never been to a funeral...I tried to talk him out of it, but he insisted.
Patrick shook hands with the men and hugged the women. He even put a flower on the casket at the end of the funeral.
While eating lunch a bit later....Patrick thanked me for letting him come with his memaw and myself. He was happy to have experienced something that he had never experienced before.
I am very glad I took him.
So, back to today....
Caitlin has earned her reward for the month by doing the "right" things. You know...no unwarranted tantrums, no pulling out her hair in huge clumps, taking care of her personal needs with little or no help (now, that is a HUGE deal for her), etc.
Off we go to Target to get her YuGiOh cards. She is so happy !!!
When Caitlin is in Target, she is oblivious to her surroundings...she is on a mission...
She walks past this mother with her teenage son and daughter.
As Caitlin passes, she gently nudges her children out of Caitlin's way...you see, Caitlin is humming and flapping....typical shopping Caitlin...
Her children look at Caitlin and start snickering...they are amused by her. I have to admit, it is quite different if you have never seen it before.
Caitlin got her cards and I said to her, "Great job Caitlin"..."you are such a good girl"...
Caitlin says, "Yeah"..."lets go mom"....
I am so glad that she is oblivious to the curiosity around her. It is not for her to educate the world about Autism...that is my job. Caitlin is to be focused on school, home and the occasional treat she has worked so hard for...
I cannot expect the shoppers at Target, or their children, to understand my daughter.
Caitlin tries very hard to conform to the rules that are given to her...most of the time, she is
right-on target....but today, in Target....she was on a quest for YuGiOh...and she conquered !!
Sunday, March 07, 2010
On her frank and funny blog, What Are They Thinking?, 49-year-old Jeanette O'Donnell chronicles her life as the mother of six children, five of whom are autistic. O'Donnell, a hotel reservations clerk who works from her Austin, TX, home, details her children's remarkable progress and challenges in school and makes an argument against invasive medical treatments and for neurodiversity -- the belief that autism is not a disorder and that people with autism have a different sort of order that should be respected and accepted, not pathologized. So how do O'Donnell and her husband, Patrick, the manager for a printing company, maintain their positive approach to raising children? We spoke to O'Donnell to find out.
AOL Health: Five of your six children are autistic. What role do you think genetics play?
JO: I believe that in my family, it's genetic. Kiernan, my youngest and my most severely affected [Kiernan is not verbal], has never had a vaccination. I didn't vaccinate him because when he was born, I was sure that it was vaccinations that [caused autism]. And three of my daughters were born in a birthing center, so they had no medical interactions.
AOL Health: You view autism as an incurable neurological disorder, while other people see it as curable and linked to external causes. Can you explain your perspective?
JO: They believe it's a vaccine injury -- that the measles germ from the measles vaccine settles in the gut and you get leaky gut syndrome. I believe that it's a neurological disorder, that you're wired differently. You can train a brain to rewire itself, but you can't cure autism. Since I had Caitlin 19 years ago, I've seen 19 causes of autism: It was the mother's fault; it was breastfeeding; it was vaccines; it was environmental. And I don't buy it. We took the focus off what caused it and put it on how to make these children very functional. And now we have five very functional children.
AOL Health: You are opposed to certain aspects of the biomedical approach to autism. Why?
JO: I don't believe in chelating [a controversial process that removes heavy metals from the body with side effects such as fever, headache, vomiting and convulsions] or performing colonoscopies on a kid. I don't believe in freaky diets like the elemental diet [an all-liquid nutrition therapy] that forces a child to follow a liquid diet. I don't believe in administering B12 shots or suppositories that supposedly pull out metals. I don't believe in IVIG infusion [a blood product administered intravenously] unless they actually need it [for inflammatory or autoimmune disease]. A lot of the parents have been told by a DAN [Defeat Autism Now] doctor that their child needs these treatments and that you're not being a good parent unless you do everything to cure your kid. These doctors are so invested financially and emotionally in these programs that they can't stop or they think they will have failed the children. I know a woman whose son is on the elemental diet and sits in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber and is chelated. She puts a nicotine patch on his butt to help his hyperactivity, which, to me, is child abuse.
AOL Health: Aren't these parents just desperate to help their kids?
JO: The media needs to quit making autism so desperate. You don't see the stories about hope and happiness. People want to see a cure. [O'Donnell's 10-year-old son] Patrick lost his diagnosis of special ed last week, but nobody in those communities wants to hear about it.
AOL Health: Why not?
JO: Because it took hard work. Because Patrick worked his butt off. The media should show him, not kids who get the metals pulled from them and still don't talk. It takes dedicated kids and supportive people to see progress. These kids want to be functional, too. If you take a 2-year-old diagnosed with autism in five years, you will see a change, but not by sitting in a room and watching him rock. You have to work with him.
AOL Health: Studies show that 10 percent of kids can be cured with intensive behavioral therapy. How do you explain it?
JO: I say 10 percent of those children grew up and matured and became better. I have a cousin that didn't talk until he was five; he used to rock and bang his head. He's now a bank president. I know a girl who had cerebral palsy, and they said she would never walk, and she's in ballet and tap now. I learned a long time ago that doctors aren't always right.
AOL Health: You discuss how your children have improved -- how Caitlin, your eldest with severe autism, will be capable of living on her own, and how two of your children who previously had severe autism now are diagnosed on the very low end of the spectrum. What led to such improvements?
JO: Erin, our 13-year-old, was diagnosed as severely autistic at 18 months. They said to not expect much from her. She smeared toothpaste, shampoo, poop. We were prepared to have the worst time with her. So we sent her to therapy [occupational, speech, and physical] five days a week until she was 5, and then we added play therapy. She got to kindergarten, and she was put into the regular kindergarten, and she started talking. By the end of kindergarten, though, they were going to hold her back because she couldn't read. When we told her why she would be staying back, she taught herself, and by the time she got reevaluated, she was above and beyond her reading level. She has straight A's with no help from anyone. One of the teachers in middle school last year said, "Thank you for raising such a lovely child, so smart and so pleasant." I wanted to take credit, but she had done it all. She thought there was no reason she couldn't.
AOL Health: You send your kids to public school rather than homeschool them or send them to a special school. How do you make this work for them?
JO: When Caitlin started school, we didn't have a choice. She was the first autistic child in the elementary school. She thrived there because she had interaction with kids who didn't have autism. She knew colors and numbers that we didn't know she knew. She's had an aide since kindergarten. Now, she needs the aide only for safety reasons because she is easily misled. Someone could say, "Come here and pull your shirt up," and she would do it. But she goes to classes by herself and her true grades are A's and B's and she can graduate this summer.
AOL Health: Do the kids behave themselves in school?
JO: Society doesn't have to accept my kids, but I have to make these kids accept what society expects. They have to live by society rules, and that means no meltdowns in public. Years ago, we had a behavior therapist for Caitlin, who was coming home and tearing clothes out of closest and drawers while behaving well at school. The therapist said, "What would you prefer? For her to be loopy at school or home?" They need an outlet, so they have one at home. They can jump and flap and hum and do whatever they want around here.
AOL Health: As someone outspoken and opinionated, you've received criticism in autism circles. What do you say to your critics?
JO: I am 49 years old, and it took till I was 40 to not care what other people thought about me. I've been accused of not having autistic kids, of being a media whore, and I've been called horrible names on the Internet. But you're not walking in my shoes. I don't feel bad for my kids. They're not damaged, and they don't need to be cured. Here in Texas, we say we cure our meat and recover our furniture. We don't do it to our children. That said, anyone can comment on my blog. Usually they're a parent with an autistic child, and they have to [be] heard. I just do what works for us.
AOL Health: What is it like for 12-year-old Meaghan to live with five autistic siblings?
JO: For a while, she was a little bummed out that she didn't have autism because they were getting all the attention. But there is no "poor Meaghan." Meaghan is very nurturing and loving. She has slumber parties, and she plays the bassoon at school. She has a normal life and normal teenage angst.
AOL Health: Raising six children would be difficult for any mother, but when five are autistic, it's especially challenging. How do you cope?
JO: Caitlin gets community living assistance. That means she gets massage therapy once a week. Wouldn't we all like that? And a helper named Helen comes for 30 hours a week to help [Caitlin] rinse her hair and brush her teeth. [Helen] helps [Caitlin] in the kitchen, since Caitlin sometimes has to help me prepare dinner. Someone else paid by the county comes by for 48 hours a month -- usually from 3 p.m. to 5:30 pm on school days -- to give respite care to the others. That's great because I work out of my house. The rest is up to us. My husband drives Erin to choir practice; Meaghan to band; Erin to student council, where she's the treasurer, and Dierdre to church functions and to orchestra, where she plays the violin. Patrick goes to baseball. They all have friends who come over, except for Kiernan and Caitlin who don't care much about that. On any given day, I have 8 or 10 kids in my house, and I'm cooking for all of them!
... But you still haven't asked the question.
AOL: What is the question?
JO: People ask why I had six when I knew the first was autistic. First, the doctor told us there was no chance that a second kid would have it, so we didn't know. But I want the people who question them to meet them. And I want them to tell me which one shouldn't be here. Every one of my kids belongs. They are here for a reason. I don't know what it is, but there's a reason. Well, actually, I do know the reason.
AOL: What's the reason?
JO: So I could be their mama, that's why they're here! It's very selfish. No, the truth is: They're gonna teach the world a lot.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
student who is about to graduate.....
It is just setting in that I am the mother of a Senior in high school.
And, believe it or not..
Caitlin is so excited to walk with her graduating class.
Yes, I had to coax her into it...
"It is too noisy"...
"too many people"...
I said, "Caitlin, You have worked so hard for this and dang it,
I want you to do this"...
17 years ago, we did not know what Caitlin was capable of.
She was non-verbal and very destructive and aggressive.
We had her in extensive therapies and made sure she was inclusioned
throughout her eductation. We had an amazing group of people, in the last 17 years
who made sure my daughter would not fail.
BUT...the most of the credit is put to Caitlin.
I know my critics state that she is not "that Autistic"...but, you would be so wrong.
This girl has to struggle with sounds and lights around her that drive her nuts.
She takes a situation and adapts....
She hums and stims...she jumps and paces...she adapts....
but..Don't we all?
You won't read this on Age Of Autism...
You won't see the determination of a severely autistic child who has maintained an
A-B average since elementary school. Who has had amazing behavior at school despite
the fact that she gets disturbed by behaviors around her. You won't read how she
graduated from a public high school with NT classmates.
You won't read how she is graduating by making grades....not just passing...but truly
graduating with her class.
You won't see this on AoA, because this is not a "pity party"....this is a CELEBRATION!!!!
Am I proud...
So, today, with great pride (yes, I am tearing up as I write this)..
I got to order my daughters cap and gown for her GRADUATION !!!!
Monday, February 22, 2010
I was almost 30 years old and so happy to be carrying a life inside of my body.
I went to every pre-natal visit. I quit smoking and drinking. I was so happy with
my body for the first time in my life.
I had no expectations of what was to be...in fact, I was quite ignorant to what life
disruptions a baby would bring...but, Man, I was so thrilled when Caitlin was born.
Caitlin was not your ordinary baby...she screamed 12 hours a day. When she slept,
I was exhausted and slept with her.
Did I resent this..??
I was so thankful to have this amazingly beautiful daughter to call mine.
Caitlin was diagnosed with autism in 1993. We were contemplating having more
children. We got the go ahead that it is unlikely we would have any more children
When I was pregnant with Deirdre, I knew the signs of autism and looked closely for
them. Deirdre came out calm and happy. Born in a birthing center with no interventions.
Calm and serene..just like her.
She spoke by 6 months..early, I thought.
Yet, I had no expectations of her. I just wanted the same as I wanted for Caitlin...
and..I was just happy to have her in my life.
Erin came out screaming....I knew in the first minute of her life she had autism....
also born in the birthing center...no interventions...yet....autism at birth.
Meaghan was born 14 months later than Erin. She was birthed by the same midwife
as Deirdre and Erin. She was gorgeous. She was calm and happy.
She has remained that way.
Little Patrick and Kiernan were both born in a hospital. They were both complicated
births. I was 39 and 40 years old with their births. Little Patrick the screamer...Kiernan
calm and collected.
Funny how that turned out...Patrick calm now and Kiernan so full of energy.
I read other blogs where they talk about their children regressing. We have never seen
this "regression" in our home....don't know why...I could say what I think...but really,
what's the use ???
I read where a mother, who is pregnant with her second child, is upset because her
first born is becoming agressive and so much bother...
my question is...why is she having another child?
If she cannot handle being the mother to this first child, what makes her think she
is going to do so much better with the second?
My hope is the baby she is going to give birth to is perfect in her eyes....this little child
has a lot on their plate.
Another mother wrote that her child is "almost human" after biomedical interventions...
how sad this child was never looked at as "human" before, in their mother's eyes..
I will say this again and again...
I am so proud that God chose me to be the mother to my children.
I am so blessed that God chose Patrick to be my husband and the father to these children...
We adore them and we expect them to be exactly what they are supposed to be...
I thought about this post today, during my breaks....
I have decided to add something...
I do have expectations from my children:
I expect them to treat others kindly.
I expect them to behave when we are in public. I allow them to stim if it helps them
calm down (meaning...buzzing quietly or covering their ears and humming).
I expect them to behave in school.
I expect them to make the best grades they are possible of making.
I expect them to treat their friends like they want their friends to treat them....
I read stories about how sad and angry parents are that their children did not
turn out the way they expected. It makes me so very sad. My heart hurts for
I want these children to know they are cared for. I pray for them every night.
I also pray for the parents and hope they find a place where they can stop looking
and feeling like their children are damaged or broken.
I don't expect that to happen, I only can hope and pray for that !!!
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
been given an amazing gift. At the age of 30, I was going to become a mother
and I knew my life would change forever....I had NO idea of the journey that
was about to happen in my life....
19 years and 5 more children later....my journey continues.
Caitlin will be 19 years old next week. So, for the last 19 years, I have parented
a child with Autism. Well, make that...I have parented 6 children...5 with autism.
Was it easy.???
NOPE...parenting is hard work.
This morning, as part of my morning ritual, I read AoA and JB Handley's blog on
how hard it is to be a biomedical parent.
This is part of what he wrote:
Soon after my son’s autism diagnosis, my wife and I were receiving advice from a DAN! Doctor helping our son. Transdermal glutathione and something very smelly called TTFD were prescribed, and we were told to rub each of these creams on his skin every night. “How long do we need to do this for?” I asked. “Six months, maybe a year,” came the doctor’s reply. “A year? Are you kidding?” I couldn’t believe it, what an inconvenience! Those of you who are biomed veterans are already smiling. Five years later, I see the world a little differently, and I have this to say to all parents battling autism: This job of recovery ain’t for the faint of heart.
six months to a maybe a year...
I think it has been way longer than that JB !!!!
And you still trust this DAmN! doctor...???
Cream on the skin...???
Parenting my children has not been easy, but man, I would not trade one minute.
I have children who have come from non-verbal to excelling in school and in life.
Our children have extracurricular activities that NT kids have.
Our youngest, who is still non-verbal...yet, very opinionated, is thriving in regular
education classes due to the fact that he has devoted teachers and therapists who
expect nothing but the best from him.
I do not know what the AoA crowd expected when they were preparing for the birth
of their children.
If they were expecting the homecoming queen or the football king. The next president
of the United States or the next Man in space...
But, what I see is that it is not about their child, but how they are perceived with their
Recently, I read a post about a mother who was upset that her children were not going
to be the most popular children in school. They would not know the upset of breaking up
with a boyfriend...would not know the fashion senses that they are supposed to know...
I think about Meaghan, who just turned 12....the angst of boys, makeup, clothes and grades.
The fact that she is aware of all of this...
It takes me back to my childhood and all the 12 year old angst I felt...
It has not changed in 37 years...still the same snarkiness.
Yet, Meaghan has an advantage over these kids....she is amongst a family who accepts
and loves people for the way they are..
She is nurturing and loving...she cares for her fellow classmates, even when they are hateful
I am so gratefully proud of her...
and all my kids...
Parenting these children has not been a hardship,
it has been a blessing...
and I continue to thank God every day for allowing me to
be a part of their lives...Autism and all...
It is not about how much cream we smear on our kids,
or how we alter their diets,
or how we take them to a doctor who will tell us in 6 months to a year
that our children will be "normal" that
makes us a great parent...
It is about walking the floor with them at night when they cannot sleep...
it is about making sure their homework is done...
it is about making sure they mind their manners and face adversities
when others do not want them to...
It is about taking them to their band and choir rehearsals , speech therapy, occupations therapy, baseball practices...
it is about making sure they know no matter what...they are why we were
put here on Earth
It is about waking up every morning and thanking God for putting
these amazing kids into our lives !!!
Yeah...I tell it like it is too.....!!!
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
I went and looked on AoA and noticed that they have rebutted over and over again...kind of funny how they are protesting a bit too much !!!
Then, I went on a few other "predictable" web sites and read "predictable" comments on how if it was not for this amazing doctor..their children would be in "AUTISM HELL"..
I am the mother of 6 children...5 with some form of Autism. I think we know a thing or two about autism.
Contrary to popular belief...they are all AUTISTIC.....!!!
Without the aide of biomedical treatment..which includes B12 shots, IVIG infusion, chelation, scoping, spinal taps, lotions, suppositories and creams...our children have improved. As a matter of fact..they are excelling.
Being from the great state of Texas:
where we "cure" our meat and "recover" our furniture....I find those words offensive.
My children have all improved since their individual diagnoses...mainly, because, we never thought they wouldn't. We never made them feel they could not achieve any goal they wanted to meet. They are amazing.
Now.. I know this is hard to believe, but I have never posed for Playboy, and Oprah does not grovel over me (though she probably should ;) ), but I think I have a thing or two to offer to parents who are raising autistic children. I don't have all of the answers, but after 19 years, I have learned a lot from my children.
I have an interview with a pretty big news entity this week...will I speak my mind??...What do you think????
Monday, January 25, 2010
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
At the end of this week, we are having our annual ARD (Admissions, Review and Dismissal) meeting for our 10-year-old son Patrick. He is being withdrawn from Special Education
Services that he has been in since he was 3-years old. HE NO LONGER QUALIFIES FOR SERVICES. Does that mean he is cured? I don't think so.
Of course, you won't see this story in Age of Autism. Why? you ask....!!!!
Because, we did not ever put Patrick, or any of our children in a position to be seen in any way that would diminish who they are.
You see, we have never put a number on our children to as how much a percentage they are not "typical". We do not justify their being as a percentage.
You see, Patrick is 100% who he is supposed to be....he is 100% Patrick.
Kiernan, who is severely autistic, will be 9 years old in March. He has not progressed quite as rapidly as Patrick. Yet, is he less of a percentage than Patrick....???
Kiernan is much loved amongst his NT peers. Fully inclusioned and making all A's on his report card. Still non-verbal in a verbal world...but man, he holds his own!!!
He holds court in class and the kids and teacher's love him.
Nope, he is 100% Kiernan. Kiernan is 100% of who he is supposed to be....
Caitlin will graduate with her class this June. She has earned enough credits and with really hard work, has maintained a A-B average. She is well-loved and respected at her very large, PUBLIC high school. She did not have to hide behind a school that only deals with autism. She braved the "neurotypical" world and is winning.
Will this be a feature article in AoA?....Doubtful!!!
Is Caitlin still Autistic...you bet!!!
She is 100% Caitlin and 100% who she is supposed to be.
Deirdre is maintaining her A average in 10th grade. Continuing to prosper amongst her peers. She struggles to understand why the teenagers around her are so uncouth and so immature. Deirdre is loved and accepted by our church. So much so, that when she travels with them, they know she does not like to sleep with other people in her bed, so they accomadate her bedding. They know her food quirks, and plan meal times around foods she will also enjoy.
Will you read about this in AoA....heck no...!!!
Deirdre is 100% Deirdre and 100% of who she is supposed to be!
Erin, who outshines and hovers over her classmates not only in height (13 years old and 5 ft. 10 inches), but in her ability to maintain an A-average since elementary school. Erin, who has very little patience for people who don't know as much as she does (including her dear Mother), but is willing to teach you what you do not know.
Erin, who has come so far since she was a poop-smearing, screaming little toddler...Erin, who the educators thought would be our most challenging child....Erin, who is now fully-inclusioned among her Neurotypical peers and soaring far past their mundaneness.
Erin, who is not worried one little bit about what fashions are out there, how to put on makeup correctly or who is going to ask her out. She has her friends and they adore her.
Where is her feature story on A0A...???
Erin is 100 % who she is supposed to be and she will remind you of that, lest you forget !!!
And Meaghan...who turned 12-years old last week. Who has all of the angst a 12-year old girl should have. It is hard to worry about the latest styles of clothes, the correct way to apply blush and what boy is the cutest !!!
Meaghan, who has more drama in her life than most soap-operas on television.
This we witnessed last weekend, when Meaghan had her 5 closest friends over for a slumber party.....12-year-old drama is quite frightening if you are not accustomed to it.
But, after a successful make-up session and face-art done by the talented Helen Hutka...all the girls united and had a lovely time.
Meaghan is a hard-working, loving child. She has a heart of gold and cares deeply for her siblings. She is adored by them all and it shows when she walks in the room.
Meaghan is 100% Meaghan...she is 100% who she is supposed to be.
Does this mean we do not think our children can accomplish more....HECK NO!!!
Our childrens futures are limitless.
Because we say they are 100% does not mean they will not improve more or shine any less.
This means that we do not look upon these wonderful people as less than they are. They are not a number to us. They are our children.
Patrick and myself do not feel the necessity to gauge their progress, just because they have Autism. We pride ourselves in their accomplishments and bask in their glory. They were meant to be here, and they were meant to be our children.
They are 100% perfection....