Tag: strength

Talking to your children about their autism

Talking to your children about their autism

I’ve had several people ask me about telling kids about their diagnosis.  I’ll admit, I may not be the right person to ask.  I’m so totally matter-of-fact about things, that in our house it goes something like this:

“So, little dude, you’re autistic.”

“What’s artistic?”

“A-u-t-i-s-t-i-c.  Autistic.  It means that your brain takes in a LOT of information and processes it (like a computer does).  This is true for everyone, but your brain goes about it a little differently.  It also means you might have difficulty with things that are too loud or too bright or involve too many people. And it also means that you may learn a LOT about one particular subject and then teach us all about it.  Cool, eh?”

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It’s safe to say he has my sense of humor

The other day, Speedy was reading the back of my wine glass that we received from David’s Refuge during a respite weekend.  “Children with special needs aren’t sent to special parents, they make parents special.” He looked quizzically at me.  “Do you know what it means when they say ‘children with special needs’?” He shakes his head no.  Then he stops and smiles.  “Is it because of my autism?” “Bingo, kid.  You got that right.”_MG_7929

So here’s my thought on, well, pretty much everything.  Kids pick up EVERYTHING.  They hear and see all of it, especially when we think they can’t or don’t.  When kids hear the adults in their life talking about their strengths and their abilities, and talking matter-of-factly about the benefits of being autistic, they have a more positive view of themselves than the kids who grow up hearing only about the deficits, the struggle, the “I wish he was never born this way” moments.  Don’t get me wrong- we do have the struggles.  We do have the nights when I dissolve into a weepy puddle in my husband’s arms- or vice versa- because we just had never signed on for how much work this would be.  We do have to have deficit-based conversations at times (when our children are not in the building) because some access to services requires that conversation take place.  I end most of our family dinners with my head in my hands.

I don’t want our readers to think I’m all sunshine and roses.  No, lovies.  I’m coffee and wine.  I’m fried cheese and beer.  I’m hanging on to the edge of a cliff by my chewed fingernails.  I move through emotions so fast it would make your head spin, a fact which has often confused my acquaintances.  But it’s all Coping Strategy 101.  There is no manual for my children, which is why I write- so that you may have something to go by.  A weird combination of Instructional Manual, Coffee Table Book, Bathroom Reader and Comic Strip.

I recently attended a conference where the presenter said “If you’re considering writing a book, don’t.”

I’m not letting that dissuade me.

How a comic book character changed my life

How a comic book character changed my life

Anyone who knows me personally knows that I have a fondness for a certain comic book character.  My desk at work is decked out with a bobble head, a figurine, and my coffee mug and all are based on this character. I even have a tattoo based on her.

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Over the years, many people have asked me- “Why Wonder Woman?”

This all started several years ago, when I started running.  I fully blame my husband for this- he started running to get healthier and was always gone! In order to spend time with him, I started running as well.

Now, this was something that I swore I’d never do- I’m a terrible athlete (I have no attention span to speak of for things which don’t hold my interest) and I complain. A lot.

So naturally, something which requires a certain amount of dedication makes total sense, right?  Well, it does if you know me.  I have a tendency to barrel through life.

I used a Couch-to-5k app on my phone to gently prod me through my training.  It was probably the best thing I could have ever done, and I remember being terrified the first time it wanted me to run one whole mile start to finish.  ACK!  But I persevered, and eventually decided to run a 5K.  An actual race. With bibs and timing and other people. Holy crow, that was scary.  Running it with my best friend was the only way to go!  And I vowed right then that I would get a Wonder Woman tattoo after I completed my first race. The first photo you saw was right after the tattoo artist had filled in the color.

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There I am, after having sprinted to the finish line.  Trust me, don’t do that.  I nearly threw up in a trash can after that little stunt.  And I’m pretty sure my bestie will never forgive me for totally leaving her in the dust. That was VERY un-Wonder Woman-like.

It was hot.  It was mid-June and I had moved my body 3.1 miles.  I felt like crap, but I could only focus on one thing. I had DONE it.

The Wonder Woman persona consumed me, for one really important reason.  We all have times in our lives when it feels as though we are under attack.  In raising kids on the autism spectrum, that attack comes daily.  With her on my side, I could quite literally face anything that came my way.  With my shield and my gauntlets, and with a strength that comes from deep within, I could take on the world.

Fast-forward to my next big race, the Cooper River Bridge Run  in Charleston, South Carolina.  This is a 10k, or 6.2 miles, and you cross two bridges and finish in downtown Charleston.  I decided to register as a fundraiser, and raised money for the MUSC Children’s Hospital.  I told my friends and family that if they could get me to $2,000, I would run in costume as- you guessed it- Wonder Woman!

Within a matter of hours, the funds raised had leaped beyond $2,000.00, and I promptly hopped onto the internet to order a Wonder Woman running outfit.

Yup.  We’re nerds.  It cannot be denied.  And I wasn’t the only person dressed as Wonder Woman, either.  There are most definitely others out there who identify with the strength of a character who can take on anything that is thrown her way.

My friend even made me the proper cake for my 40th birthday, which also turned out to be a surprise party!

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So, you may still be asking why.
This weekend I went with my husband, my mom, and one of my kids to see the movie.  I spent the entire two and a half hours utterly transfixed.  And really, when you’re in the second row from the front, transfixed is a guarantee.  The screen wrapped around my brain.  And I fell in love with her all over again.

There’s a scene wherein she takes gunfire from every possible direction, and she barely breaks a sweat.  Damn.  That’s incredible.

Here’s what it comes down to.  When you are trying to take on the world, and it keeps throwing you curveballs, you need an idol.  It helps to have an image of someone who cannot be defeated, who will not be defeated.

There are times when I am not sure I’ll be able to do this.  I cry at night sometimes, thinking of just how unfair this is.  But then I remember where my shield and gauntlets are, and I pick them up.  I dig in my heels and blow the hair out of my face and wipe the sweat from my brow.  And I persevere.

Just imagine what you can do… the possibilities are limitless.  And as my favorite character said, “It’s about what you believe. And I believe in love.  Only love will save the world.”