Autism Hint of The Week #2

Don’t wait in Waiting rooms.  Doctors Appointments, Dentist Exams, and other frequent visits that require a wait before being seen, can be a deal breaker for how well the actual visit goes, with an Autistic child.  Call ahead before you get to the office of the appointment, ask them if they are running on time, and tell them your child is Autistic and doesn’t wait well.  Ask them to take your cell number and call you when they are ready for you to be seen.  Assure them you will be right outside their door, and just want to keep your child calm and get the most from your visit.  I even have popped my head in my Pediatrician’s office to tell them “We’re here!” and then Mattie and I do laps in their nice big building, till they call me that the nurse is ready for us.  It NEVER hurts to ask for this kind of help, they would rather have your child calm than tantruming in their waiting room!!

Halloween was a Treat this year!!!

Mattie did SO well this Halloween, thanks to his on going ABA training, and his PECS “Trick or Treat” card his teacher made him.  We went to about 15 houses with my twin Godsons (one of which is also Special Needs), and everyone was in a great mood and VERY well behaved!!  Remind me to bring that card again next year, because that was the key.  Not only did Mattie use it PECS appropriately,meaning he handed it to each person opening the door, and then pointed to each word as he has been taught, but now my neighbors are more aware of Autism and it’s impact on not just one child, but the entire community! Win, Win, for everyone this year!! (Oh, and I scored a few Reese Cups as well!!)

Things I know because of Autism

Autism in the family can be a harsh teacher.

You acquire skills,  that never, in your wildest dreams did you think, you would ever need to know. Like how to defuse a potential tantrum, with calming gestures and a gentleness in your voice.  How to get a ten year old to take foul tasting meds, day after day. And the ever un-popular, how to change the diaper of an older child.

You are asked questions, that no one would ever ask a parent of a typical child.  How are you going to “handle” him, when he gets bigger?  Are going to put him in Residential Housing soon?  Why is he not potty trained yet?

You are expected to be an expert on Autism from the day the child is diagnosed. What causes autism?, someone will ask. Have you tried the Gluten-free diet yet? What medications do you recommend for autism? What Sensory issues does your child have?

You face a society, that does not know what to do with your child, or even you.  An outburst in the local Target store, can bring a drove of Security personal.  Neighbors will-and one did, call DMR or, God forbid, DSS to report you, because your child runs into their yard,(even though you are running as fast as you can behind them).  People openly stare at your child’s apparent lack of public behavior skills, until you say, quite loudly, “He has Autism, thanks for the concern!”.

So, what HAVE I learned from Autism?  That other people can say and act more rudely than my son ever will in public.  That no matter what the Doctor ever writes in his Evaluation, my son is still the same little boy he was before I read the report.  It’s just a piece of paper.  People will always stare, ask dumb questions, and invade our privacy, as if they have a right to.
But, most importantly, I have learned that, a little boy named Mattie has changed me, and my family, for the better.  Autism, or not.

Feral Fred and Mattie’s Pond

Tomorrow is National Feral Cat Day.   For one year, our family had the pleasure of including one of the BEST cats we’ve ever had.  Feral Fred.  He “just showed up”  one day in May of 2008, and by July of that year, was totaly domesticated and the friendliest cat  people had ever met.  My neighbor, Sharon and I joyfully fought as to who would keep him, as we both had been feeding him together, for months.  I won, and after a trip to the vet for shots, and being Neutered, he came to live with us.  He stayed inside all through the  winter-happily- but got antsy in the Spring of 2009, so he went out in the day, and came  in at night.  He helped me build the pond and stream this year, as he “had”  to roll in EVERY  spot I dug, before I planted in it.  He was the first to walk across the new bridge, the first creature to drink from the pond, and brought our family dinner of a vole or mouse every night, sometimes twice.  A few days before the forth of July, Fred went out at the crack of dawn, as usual, and never came home.  A neighbor called me later that day to say she has seen a coyote in my front yard that morning and to be careful.  Not sure what ever became of Feral Fred.  Would like to believe that someone scooped him up because he was so lovable.  That’s what I’m going to believe.

The Perfect Handbag

I am obsessed  with handbags.  This obsession is 8 years strong now.  Not coincidentally, the same amount of time that Mattie has been diagnosed with Autism.

Mattie’s Autism has changed not only changed my out look on the world, but they way I look in general.  As a former Esthetician and Make up artist for Elizabeth Grady Corporation, I had spent the early days of my career and marriage as a high maintenance, pampered diva who wore Channel lipstick and silk blouses.  My nails were always red, or hot pink and my pedicure was always a shade darker.  I had  a short, very chic haircut, that was as blonde as the bleach would allow, and my body was perfectly waxed from head to toe.  I didn’t leave the house with out earrings, my gold watch and a spritz of my latest costly perfume.

I still can recall the names of the lipsticks I wore then- Coco pink, and Coco Topaz.  The designers I wore-Adrienne Vittadini, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan.  But I can not remember a single handbag I owned then.  Not the style, color or brand.  They were not important.  No one ever saw them in the salon- so they didn’t matter.

When I went into labor with my first child, Katharine, I left for the hospital at 1 in the morning, perfectly coiffed and made up and looking like I was on my way to fancy restaurant.  It had been drilled into me at work, that you never knew when you wold run into one of your clients, and the Grady corporation expected us to look chic and perfect, at all times.

As Mattie’s Autism became more apparent in our lives, so did the change in my appearance.  Mattie’s Autism also caused Sensory issues with him, that overflowed into what I could, and could not, wear.  Earrings in my ears bothered him, so he pulled them out.  He spilled almost every liquid he could get his hands on, so my clothes would be stained and needed to be easy to wash and wear.  I carried,  and still carry him a lot, so I needed shoes that would not slip and were comfortable.  Having to constantly watch him meant not having a great deal of time for make up or styling my hair, if I even HAD the time to GET to the hairdresser.  Simplicity was a must, and  having a  easy morning routine, was,and is, crucial to his safety.

These days I run Mattie out to meet the bus with wet, combed hair and my uniform of  jeans, a tee shirt, and minimal make up.  All jewelry must wait to be put on till after he leaves, or it will be ripped off and lost.  Perfume is rarely remembered, as is any type of co-ordinating accessory.

The only piece of fashion I can rely on these days is a handbag.  And I have had more handbags in the last 8 years than most women have had in a life time.  It has become what my friends call “Sandy’s Thing”.  If I tell my friends Janice, or Gina to meet me in Marshall’s or Tj Maxx, they know I will be in the handbag  isle.

I am an expert in the world of handbags.   I can tell you the current designers that are on the rise, or  petering out.  I know that B. Makowsky is the brand name of Kathy Van Zeeland’s husband.  That all the “cheaper ” lines- Guess, Fossil, Strada, and Nine West, all look to the higher brands to copy- Coach, Lucky Brand, Dooney and Bourke,and Tingnanello.  That Messenger bags are hot right now, as are animal prints.

I have been hunting all week for the Perfect Fall bag, never willing to pay full price, always on the lookout  for an incredible bargain.  I know that I will find a perfect bag, and that it will ultimately be replaced by another, even more perfect bag, in a few months.   I even  know this has nothing to do with the bag, the season or the current  trends.  It is because this is the last sole expression of fashion that I have left.  The only one that can make me stand out, in this female way.  These days, for me,  it is about the safety and well being of a 10 year old boy.  A boy, I, as well as every member of my family, have given up much for, and would do so, over again.   These days it is all about Autism and the Perfect handbag.

Freeze Frame

When you die, and enter Heaven, do you get to choose what age you will be, forever, for eternity?  Or are you stuck in the age you died at,  and in the condition  you died.  Can you look totally different, or at least make some modifications?  And how will other souls recognize you, if you do change your appearance?  Will they just sense it is you?  And why am I thinking of this today?  I know why.  I just ran into my cousin Kim at the local Target.  Though I have not seen her in at least a decade, and very infrequently before that, she will forever be, in my mind, a little girl of 8.   Playing with her Barbies and her Barbie Camper, in the playroom of a house, her family lived in nearly 30 years ago.  That is how it is, often times-people seem to freeze in time.  We remember our parents as they looked when we were little, and suddenly the seem SO old, all at once.  Friends from High School jump years when we see them at a reunion or on Facebook.  Even ourselves seem to time warp when we catch a look in a store mirror, and wonder, ” when did THAT wrinkle show up!”.  Are we all just too busy, in our own lives, or do we have some kind of setting in our brains, that can only save memories at specific intervilles?   Perhaps, it is best unanswered,  that being what will we all look like in Heaven.  Don’t worry if you don’t recognize me at first.   I will be the one waving at you.  The Blonde Chick, having a REALLY great hair day!