Thursday, 31 March 2011

Are We There Yet??? How about now?

Holly crap...  Swan River, population 4,500.  6 and a half hour drive from Winnipeg.  It's not like I can turn around and go home if Dayton throws a fit, ya know what I mean?  So before our drive out to visit my best friends Danielle and her husband Lindsay, I ask Dayton to pack a few things he doesn't want to leave behind...

"How do I pack Jack (he's talking about our cat)?"
"We're not taking Jack with us buddy, Dani has 2 cats, and they probably won't like Jack invading their territory."
"How am I going go get to sleep without Jack (Dayton always cuddles up with Jack at bed time)?"
Darn it.  Hadn't thought that one through and I need to think fast...
"Take Zeus (a stuffed cat Dayton helped make)...
"He doesn't smell like Jack!"
And then we have a slight melt down.  Eventually, Dayton begins packing his things lining up his belongings in the hallway.  I ask him to store his belongings under the kitchen table so we don't trip over his things.

I wake up in the morning to a mountain of toys under my table, two of Dayton's blankets, two of his pillows, a blanket and a pillow for me (how thoughtful), and requests for "Danone Crush Yogurt" to take with us in case Swan River doesn't have any...  Oh, don't forget about the cheese strings and "Jello" pudding snacks, the "Canadian Rye Bread" and the "Nutella..."

It takes me three trips to the car to get all of Dayton's belongings into the car.  Right about this time I'm thinking "in what moment of insanity did I decide a trip to Swan River would be a great idea?"  And then I remember I haven't seen Dani since Christmas, and Lindsay for a year and a half!!!  Right.  It's mommy time, just forgot how much work it takes to get out the door.

About an hour into our drive, and we make it to Portage, and of course I hear "I'm hungry, I'm thirsty."  We stop at a Tim Horton's and I very much need a coffee...

Fifteen minutes after leaving the Tim Horton's, I hear "I have to go pee."  In another hour I hear "Are we there yet?"  And then I get lost.  I find my way back on the right highway, and I make it!  Hooray!!!

Danielle comes outside and helps me unload the car after giving me a huge hug, which I desperately need after that car ride.  Dayton spills out of the car with his Nintendo DSI and I grab as much as I can carry, leaving one of Dayton's boxes of toys in the car, thinking if he really wants it, I'll run back out and get it.  Danielle takes as much as she can carry too, looks at me and says "Wow, if I had to pack that much for just a two day visit, I don't think I'd go anywhere..."

She says this in awe of my efforts to make Dayton comfortable.  Danielle is the most supportive person I've met in my struggle with Dayton's autism.  She's constantly emailing me and facebooking me websites, groups, therapies, information and books on autism.  On days when I feel down, I know I can email or call either Danielle or Lindsay, and that I can anticipate them cheerleading for us.

Danielle has started a blog challenging herself to read 101 books in 1001 days. If you love reading, you need to check out her blog at  During one of my visits to her blog, she had posted on reading a book called "House Rules."

Addicted to my Kindle now, I have to download this book, especially since Dani has said that even though the book is fiction, the main character of the book reminds her of my struggles with Dayton and another one of her friends who also has a son diagnosed with ASD.

So while I waited in the evening for Dayton to settle down and go to sleep, I read this book on my Kindle.  I have to say, it is a work of fiction, but I did enjoy reading it.  It may not have accurately have portraid a person with Asperger's syndrome, I haven't met anyone quite as afflicted as Jacob, the main character, but I can relate to Emma, Jacob's mother.  Emma's daily schedules in helping Jacob cope with his disability can be echoed by any parent of a child with ASD.  Mustering all her strength and energy, she fights for her son's rights and to "mainstream" Jacob as well as she humanly can.  This comes to a great expense not only financially, but in her personal relationships as well, of which she has none... 

I can relate to this woman, I really, really can.  Emma's description of her battle with Jacob's school sounds all too familiar:  "being an advocate for your autistic child's education is a forty-hour-a-week profession in and of itself.  All sorts of adaptations had to be argued for and vigilantly monitored:  a cool off pass that would allow Jacob to leave a classroom that got too overwhelming for him; a sensory break room; a paraprofessional who could help him, as an elementary school student, put his thoughts into writing; an individualized education plan; a school counselor who didn't roll her eyes every time Jacob had a meltdown."  Holly crap!  That's me!  That's probably most parents with children who have autism in Canada, unless of course you live in Alberta, but perhaps even there?  Fiction or not, this part of the book unfortunately rings true for most of us.

Which again makes me ask:  "Is inclusion really what's best?  I get the theory of inclusion, I really do, but I know for a fact my son is not experiencing "genuine inclusion," you know, the theory kind.  What we've experienced is very similar to what Emma (yes, she's a fictional character, I know) has experienced, only Dayton still doesn't have a cool off pass or a sensory room, and he can't read or write...  and why is it up to me to educate Dayton's teachers and principal, especially when they don't listen to a word I say because they know what works, and yet call me to "fix it" when their way fails?

Fiction or not, this book seriously struck a note with me.  Again, this book is not an autism help book, it is a work of fiction, but some of the book is very much a reality for me, and I'm going to bet for many parents out there.  If you have a Kindle, let me know, and once I figure out how to "lend" it to you, I will.  Kindle's allow you to "lend" a book to someone for up to two weeks.

Back to my visit with Dani and Lindsay...  It was awesome!!!  Dayton did super well, without having a meltdown at all!!!  He busied himself playing video games while Dani and I yapped.  Dani's husband Lindsay joined us a few times, but let the hens fend for themselves for the majority of the time.  We ate like there was no tomorrow (well I did at least, putting myself into a pizza comma my last night there).  I really liked Swan River's Chicken Chef.  Not the chicken, but the pizza....  yum!!!

Dayton and I got to meet Dani's new kitty "Theo."  He was adorable and super playful.  Really liked chewing on my toes as I slept, but he was just too cute to get mad at.

Dani also informed me that Glen's accusation of my severe snoring like a "Banshee" is very much true.  How embarrassing...  Oh well.  She's my best friend, so she accepts me along with my quirks.  Even more important than that, both Lindsay and Dani accept Dayton as he is.  As a parent, nothing is more important than that.  I'm eternally grateful for their friendship.

Dayton and I gave their daughter a ride back to Winnipeg for Spring Break.  The ride home was much, much shorter.  Dayton kept his head covered for most of the way home, and it took us 5 hours (Yes, of course there was speeding involved).

Overall, we had a great little break to start off our Spring Break.  How about you?

Consider yourselves hugged!


Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Super Autism Help Book #1

As promised, I am writing a post about the book I sent to Dayton's school I mentioned in my last blog post.  You know the one where I literally copied and pasted the email I had sent to Dayton's school?  Yeah, that one.

Autism help.  We're all looking for it.  When our kids are first diagnosed with ASD, we almost go through the 5 stages of grief for the future we had envisioned for our child.  We end up looking for "the cure."  Which is why Jenny McCarthy really gets under my skin when she claims to have "cured" her son of autism...  Want to know the cure for autism?  Unconditional Love And Acceptance!!!

I should back up a little here...  Totally unrelated to autism, but you'll see how it ties in eventually...

During our Christmas holidays, we packed up the family and went to Regina to visit our daughter Charlie-Anne along with Glen's cousin and wife.  While visiting, Glen's cousin shows me what he bought for his wife for Christmas...  A beautiful Kindle!  I had never seen one before in my life, but OH MY GOD!!!  Once he showed me what it could do, I was hooked.  For those of you who love to read, you need to get one of these babies!!!  They're amazing!  It downloads books in less then 60 seconds, and the price of e-books is cheaper than buying the physical book itself, and you don't need your book shelves anymore, saving you a ton of space.  It fits in my purse and I dig it out during Dayton's social skills group class for which I have to wait in the lobby for him, bored out of my mind.  The most mind blowing thing of all...  I can carry about 35,000 books in my purse by having this Kindle.  AWESOME!!!  Naturally I'm downloading tons of books on autism, and as I read them I will tell you my favorite ones, ones that I think are helpful and definitely need to be read.  The funny thing is, and my friends will attest to this, I am the most non-techie woman on the face of this planet, but I can use this Kindle.  It's super user friendly even for people like me.  I LOVE IT!!!

OK, back on topic here...  We were talking about Autism help...  Autistic children develop and bloom if their spirits, talents and self-esteem are not destroyed by bullies, prejudice, doggie-training, and being forced to be normal.  

In order to help our children fit in more comfortably and see gains in their growth is to first of all understand our kids.  How do we do this???

Two lovely ladies, both named Leslie have come together to write a spectacular book called:  Making sense of Children's Thinking and Behavior.  Follow the link below to find out more about the book.  You can download it on your Kindle or order it from had it downloaded to my Kindle, and found it so amazing, I ended up buying a hard copy of the book to pass on to Dayton's school after our triage meeting which if you read my last post, was very disappointing and discouraging.  It's like I'm dealing with idiots at his school.

OK, so the one Leslie is a mother of a son with NLD (nonverbal learning disorder) who got together with her son's Occupational Therapist (the other Leslie) and wrote this book for kids with NLD, Asperger's, HFA (high functioning autism), PDD-NOS (pervasive developmental disorder - not otherwise specified), and other neurological differences.

The authors created a tool called STAT (Systematic Tool for Analyzing Thinking), which they've diagrammed for us in the book.  The book is 180 pages long, it took my about a day to read it.  The STAT offers a step by step method for understanding a child's behavior by revealing the thought processes behind it.  Only by understanding the thought behind the behavior can you correct your child and teach them to as my dad says "change their mind."

People are forgetful that our kids need to be taught the simplest of things, things that other children pick up on by instinct.  This does not mean that our children are stupid, far from it!!!  I had given up on my flash drive thinking it was broken and was about to throw it out when Dayton asked me if he could look at it.  He fixed the darn thing in 5 minutes.  My son is far from being stupid.  His brain is wired differently, therefore he thinks about things "outside" the box, something we're told to try to do ourselves!  He saved a flash drive full of curriculum work that I thought was lost to me forever!

Back to the book and some autism help...  I just can't keep it together this morning...  I think more coffee is in order, definitely!!!  Starbucks, I'm on my way...

Anyway, the book explains how our kids have (and I quote) "an atypical view of the world, unique to their particular disability, which can make their behavior confusing and, at times, challenging.  Often, the child's unfairly punished."  It also addresses the 12 common deficit areas and gives examples with the STAT on every single one of these areas, in some cases 2 examples.  And believe me, I need examples in order to learn.

This book was absolutely AMAZING!  Loved it!!!  If you have a child on the spectrum, have a friend with a child on the spectrum, are a teacher or a para educator, this book is definitely a MUST READ.  I'm ordering a couple more from Amazon today to hand out to my friends and family, yes, it's that good.  It's just unfortunate I can't find anymore in the city.  If someone finds one in the city, let me know before noon!!!

Consider yourselves hugged!


PS.  If you want more info on what a kindle is....

Seriously AWESOME!

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Email to Ms Cruella Deville aka Dayton's Principal

Obviously, names have been change to protect privacy...  other than that, this email is copied and pasted for your reading pleasure...

Hi Ms. Cruella Deville,

As promised during our phone call today, I'm emailing you about our triage conference held last Friday with Mrs. D.  As I mentioned on the phone, I walked away confused...  and deflated.

During our phone conversations since September regarding Dayton's unacceptable behavior, you had made assurances that Dayton has made great progress this year and that he is working harder then ever.  I agreed since he has only had one in school suspension this far, a huge improvement from last year.  It appears that Mrs. D does not share our enthusiasm of Dayton's progress. 

Reviewing Dayton's portfolio, there was little added to the portfolio since the last triage conference last November.  When I asked Mrs. D about this, she informed me that this is due to Dayton's non-compliance, and that instead of working on his assignments as asked, Dayton chooses to play games, draw guns and play with paper figures.  She also pointed out that Dayton has continued to bully little Johnny, something I thought had been dealt with...  It appears Dayton bullies Johnny every day, and she wanted me to discuss this with Dayton.  I started to tell her that I have discussed the bullying issue with Dayton a few months ago when you had brought it to my attention, and that there are a few more boys involved in this:  Jeff, Pete and Odie.  Mrs. D cut me off by telling me we are not going there, and to please discuss Dayton's behavior at home with him.  Without clear examples of Dayton's behavior, it makes it difficult for me to discuss and teach Dayton differently, especially since I'm suppose to deal with three months worth of bad behavior.  The only example she could give me is that Dayton "flicks" Johnny in the head once a day.

The reason I had brought up the other boys was not to make excuses for Dayton's behavior.  Bullying is wrong, and Dayton knows the difference between right and wrong.  However, Dayton's emotional development is significantly delayed in comparison to the rest of the grade 3 class.  While Dayton may chronologically be 9 years old, emotionally we are dealing with a 5 year old little boy.  At this point in time, Dayton practically worships Jeff, Pete and Odie, and when Jeff tells Dayton to flick Johnny in the head, even knowing he will be sent to the principals office and that I will be upset and he will most likely be grounded, he will choose his friends as he wants to be part of their group.  Frankly, I don't think Dayton is able to stop and think of cause and affect, as when he flushed Johnny's toy down the toilet, he told me to he did it to see what Johnny's reaction would be.  When he saw Johnny cry, he felt sorry for Johnny and gave him one of his toys.  To me this is a huge improvement as last year he showed no theory of mind (empathy, or the ability to see what the other person thinks or feels).  The reason I want to know who is involved and what happened is again, not to make excuses for Dayton's behavior, but to use it to teach him to "change his mind."

When I asked Mrs. D why she hadn't contacted me by email about Dayton's behavior, she told me that if she informed me of every behavioral issue Dayton displays in the classroom, she would "write a Novella."  It would leave her little time to do anything else during the course of the day other than type my email.  Hearing this I made the comment that it seems that Dayton's behavior seems to be preventing him from being "included," when she interrupted me and stated this is not the case, and that he is always included unless he chooses otherwise, completely missing my point.  Had she allowed me to finish my sentence, she would see that my
fear is that Dayton perhaps shouldn't be mainstreamed if his behavior is causing such a disturbance to her class and the rest of the students.  I also feel uncomfortable that Dayton is bullying a child on a daily basis.  My concern is not just for Dayton, but for the rest of the children in the classroom, especially their safety as well as his own.

I walked away from the meeting feeling as though no matter what I say, there will always be that unspoken insinuation that at the core of of Dayton's behavior problem is my parenting.  It has become exhausting to prove to your staff that I am a loving and caring parent, who is trying to instill values and morals in my child.

The drive home was very, very silent.  Dayton knew he was in trouble. 

As soon as we got home, I got him to go to his room so that I could clear my head.  I then asked him to join me at the kitchen table where we used Lisa Hurl's advice and "drew" Dayton's story.  I grabbed a piece of paper and a pen.  The only questions I ask is who, what, where, when and how.  I am not allowed to ask why, and even if I did, Dayton would answer with an "I don't know."  As he answers my questions, I draw his answers, always asking "did I get this right?"   I drew the classroom, the door to the class, Mrs. D's desk, Dayton's desk (he tells me he sits alone with Mr. J?),  Pete and Odie's desk (he forgot where Jeff sits) and Johnny's desk.  Dayton showed me he walks around Mr. J and crosses the classroom to get to Johnny, flicks him in the head and crosses the classroom again to go outside and wait for the bus.  Because the boys "hate" Johnny, Dayton's perception is that the whole class "hates" Johnny.  Dayton also tells me that everyone laughs when he does this, instilling to him that he's doing the right thing as he wants to be funny.  Being funny is very important to Dayton.  He agrees that Mr. J and Mrs. D do not laugh, but the children do.  Again, I do not wish to take the blame off Dayton at all, or excuse his behavior, I am simply giving you what's going on in his head:  Jeff tells Dayton once a day to hurt Johnny, and Dayton listens to Jeff because Jeff is his "best friend."  When I got your note today, again his answer was "Jeff told me to," and "Jeff's my best friend."  I lost my patience and told him to get Jeff to prove he's Dayton's best friend by coming to talk to you and tell you how he gets Dayton to do things for him.  I doubt Dayton will ask him to, like I said, I just lost my patience.  I am human.  By the way...  not only was yesterday's note to me crumpled up, but Dayton also tried to forge my signature with a red pen.  He is grounded for 3 days...  no TV and no video games. 

As I've mentioned to you on the phone, I've bought you a book called Making sense of Children's Thinking and Behavior.  It's a short read, only 180 pages long, and it completely identifies with Dayton and how he thinks.  It has graphs to use and is super simple.  The author gives many examples of how to use the tools she has provided in her book.  I will place it in Dayton's back pack for you, and hope you look through it.  Feel free to lend it to Mrs. D and other staff involved in Dayton's learning and return it when you're done.  It took me one day to read it.

My plan for Dayton as a result of this meeting:
I have bought Dayton 3 joke books.  As discussed with you, I will put one of these books in his back pack for him to practice with Mr. J during the times that Dayton is not required to work.  I would like this book returned every night as we will continue reading it until we finish.  I read the jokes to Dayton, and then highlight the jokes he likes for him to read and memorize.  I've asked Dayton to practice these jokes on Mr. J, and once he's got them mastered, he can try telling his "friends" the joke.  I'm hoping this will distract him from trying to be funny by bullying Johnny.  Mr. J is more then welcome to continue reading this book with Dayton and highlight the jokes Dayton "gets" and likes, or practice the highlighted ones.

For his drawing, I bought Dayton a book called "The Boys Doodle Book."  I will work on this book with Dayton during the spring break, and put it in his back pack the first day back at school.  Perhaps this will distract Dayton from drawing guns.  Worth a shot.  I wish I had known about the gun obsession returning, as I would have dealt with it immediately.  He did receive a Nerf gun with foam bullets for his birthday from a well intended friend, it is now removed from his toy box.  He is also not allowed to play video games for 3 days, and then he will return to playing Mario Brothers only. 

I am sorry about the long winded email, but communication is very important and I want you to know I'm doing everything I possibly can to work with you.  

Lou Lovrin

I'm sure none of you will be surprised that I have received NO RESPONSE to this email.  I did however, get a note in Dayton's agenda written in red ink, thanking me for the book and she will be reading it during her "breaks."  Awesome!

As for the book that I bought for the school's staff, it deserves a post of its very own, and I will soon do that for you all.  It's an amazing book!!!

Consider yourselves hugged!


Thursday, 24 March 2011

I Am Ninety-Nine Percent Angel... But, Oh, That One Percent!!!

For once, I was actually looking forward to going to the interview with Dayton's teacher.  I really, really was!  The principal, while calling me with concerns regarding Dayton's behavior, has been assuring me that Dayton has been doing so much better than last year and that he has been working much harder than he has in the past.  Furthermore, Dayton had only had one in school suspension this year, as compared to being suspended and sent home for his suspension once a month like clockwork last year.  So I was expecting things to go well... 

Due to some recent emails flying about as a result of our CFS worker who is advocating on Dayton's behalf in the school system, I felt a little apprehensive about walking into this meeting alone.  (Brenda, our CFS worker is forcing an IEP meeting with the school division's special needs coordinator and all involved in Dayton's education to be present.  This will be the first time ever to have everyone together for Dayton's IEP meeting, which Dayton's school thinks is a waste of time).  So I invited Diana, Dayton's social worker from Children with Special Needs and Disabilities to tag along with us.  Thank God I did.

We get to the meeting on time, however Dayton's teacher is busy with other parents.  No problem.  Dayton is excited to show Diana and I his desk, so the three of us sit down and look through Dayton's portfolio.  With the exception of a few sheets of math work, I see nothing new since our conference in November.  There's a sheet of instructions for us to go to the gym for our child's video portfolio and then to the music class.  The three of us go for our tour.

When we get to the gym, we're told Dayton has not done his video.  Awkward...  We leave the gym and head out to the music class.  The door is locked.  Awkward...  Diana and I just kind of look at each other and tell Dayton to lead us back to his class to see what else we can find, crossing our fingers and hoping his teacher is available to see us now.

Mrs. D is waiting for us at the classroom door, and she's not smiling.  U-oh...  Should have been my first clue to run.  The three of us sit around a little half circle table in tiny little chairs.  I'm secretly wondering if I could quickly grab a second or a third one to make myself a little more comfortable.  The teacher began by asking if I have any questions...  Really?  So I ask why Dayton's portfolio has little more than what I saw in November...  She informs me that Dayton has done little work, preferring to play games and draw guns and play with paper figures.  Whaaaaaaat???

Then she informs me that Dayton is a bully.  Apparently my little man's been bugging one child in particular, on a regular basis, singling him out from the rest of the class.  A little boy, little Johnny, yes the same one with the back pack I talked about in my last post titled "I would if I Could But I Can't.  

Now, I have been aware that there has been a problem with this little boy in the past, as most of the phone calls I've received this year from the principal have been about Dayton and little Johnny.  Dayton has flushed little Johnny's toy down the toilet, Dayton bit little Johnny, Dayton bent four of little Johnny's fingers backwards...  Johnny, Johnny, Johnny...  At home, I do what I call "Drawing Dayton's Story."  I find it works well as Dayton is very visual, something very common with children on the spectrum.  All you need is a piece of paper and pen and be able to draw stick men.  That's about the extent of my artistic ability.  You need to have some background information on the situation, and ask the child questions, limiting the questions to:  who, what, where, when, and last question is how.  Never ask why as they just don't seem to be able to answer this question.  Whenever I ask Dayton "why," I always get an "I don't know."

Anyways, the last incident I had been aware of in terms of Dayton and Johnny, I drew Dayton's story out, then we drew a poster on bullying and wrote the word bully in a circle then drew a red line across it representing "no bullying."  I have the poster on the wall in the hallway across from Dayton's bedroom door, so every morning he sees the poster when he opens his door.  Since then, I had not heard any more bullying incidents.  When I drew out his story, it turns out there are three other children that really dislike little Johnny, and unfortunately, Dayton is wanting these little boys' acceptance.  Again, not an excuse, this is an explanation of what is going on in Dayton's mind.  The difference with typical children is that they will stop, think and evaluate the consequences vs the action and then decide what to do.  Dayton and most children on the spectrum don't have this ability if they have a deficit in impulse control as Dayton does.  So when little Jeff tells Dayton to do something, Dayton does it, because little Jeff is Dayton's friend.  He's not able to discern that little Jeff is taking advantage of Dayton and being entertained not only by little Johnny's misfortune, but also by Dayton's behavior and consequent punishment.

Getting back to Mrs D's concern of Dayton bullying little Johnny, I am dumbfounded.  I ask why I haven't received an email from her with this concern?  She tells me that if she had to email me of all of Dayton's behavioral issues, she would be writing a "Novella!"  "Excuse me?!  Are you suggesting that Dayton's behavior is impairing him from being "included..."
"Oh no, that's not it at all.  Dayton is included in everything unless he chooses not to be."  She completely misunderstood the intent of my comment, and yet she figures she's capable of understanding my child!!!  Grrrrrr...  She continues to tell me how if she was to email me on Dayton's behavior, all she would be doing is typing all day, and that I would feel picked on.  I'm thinking how this would be different from the way she's making me feel right now, but whatever.  She asks that I talk to Dayton about his behavior towards little Johnny.  When I tell her that I  have discussed this issue with Dayton in the past and that there are more children involved and began naming the said children, Mrs. D cuts me off and tells me that we're not going to discuss the other children and for me to discuss this further with Dayton at home.  Well then!  How am I supposed to explain what Dayton is thinking when you won't hear what I have to say?!  Also, I need specific examples of Dayton's behavior which Mrs. D is not able to provide me with, other than Dayton walks up to little Johnny and flicks him in the head...  That's it.  No more information.  What the hell am I supposed to do with that?  Helllllllooooooo???  I can't just discipline Dayton for 3 months of behavior I can not describe to him and educate him how to do things differently!!!

So we go home.  The ride home is very, very silent.  I'm confused.  What happened to all of Dayton's hard work the principal was telling me about?  What the hell?  Were we discussing my son or someone else?  When we get home, I tell Dayton to sit down at the kitchen table and get ready to tell me his story.  I pull out a sheet of paper and pen.  I begin by drawing his classroom, which is a simple big box with the teacher's desk and the door to the classroom.  And I begin the questions to finish the drawing of Dayton's story.

Where is your desk?  Who sits beside you?  Where is your teacher's desk?  Where is little Johnny's desk?  Who sits with little Johnny?  What subject is it?  How are you feeling?  Who are you listening to?  What is he/she telling you?  When do you walk up to Johnny?  Who do you pass by as you walk to him?  What do you do?  How does this make you feel?  How does this make you feel?  What does the class do when this happens?  Who's crying?  Who's happy?  Who's sad?  Who's laughing?  As Dayton answers my questions, I start drawing his answers and always ask:  "Like this?" to make sure I've got it right. 

Dayton's story:  Little Jeff asks him to flick little Johnny in the head every day.  Little Jeff, Pete and Odie don't like little Johnny, and since Dayton practically worships these little boys, his perception is that the whole entire class doesn't like little Johnny.  When Dayton's aid tells Dayton to get ready for the bus at the end of the day, Dayton walks around the aid, walks across the classroom to little Johnny, flicks him in the head, and all the children laugh.  This enforces to Dayton that he is doing the right thing and that the kids like him.  It is important to Dayton that he is liked and accepted, and he wants to be funny.

I do my best to explain to Dayton that there are other ways to be funny and liked.  I convince him that telling jokes is funny.  So off we go and buy some kid joke books.  I find 3 that he says he likes, and buy them.  Now to convince the school to allow Dayton to bring a joke book to school...  Off to "Mission Impossible!"

So again...  The idea of inclusion is a beautiful idea, but in reality, Dayton is experiencing cosmetic inclusion, not genuine, and believe you me, there IS a difference!!!  And why is it that the school only give the cosmetic inclusion to our kids?  Because they don't UNDERSTAND the autism spectrum!  I somehow need to fix this!!!

Consider yourselves hugged!


Tuesday, 22 March 2011

I Could If I Would But I Can't

At the core of the problem in today's school system of inclusion is "belief."  Our kids on the higher end of the autism spectrum disorder just look too good, therefore they can't possibly have deficits or needs.  They're a bunch of spoiled brats who don't pay attention and choose to throw temper tantrums to get out of doing their work.  They're a menace to the classroom and are constantly interrupting important lectures.  They refuse to fit in with the rest of the kids, and love to physically fight their class mates.  This is NOT true.  Unfortunately, this is pretty much what the current school system thinks of our kids. They don't BELIEVE that our children are "neurologically different."   Our kids can talk, walk, run, and sit just like the rest of the student body.  When they don't, the school staff believe that our kids don't do as expected by their own choice.

If our children wore leg braces, you'd have teachers and aids ligning up to help them, there would be no doubt as to their deficits and need for help.  People in general are just more apt to believe there's a problem when they can SEE the problem.  PDD-NOS is not something you can visually see, neither is high functioning autism or Aspergers.  When the problem is visual and obvious, people are just much more likely to HELP.  The presence of intelligence, strengths, and actual talents make it even harder for teachers to be believe there are real, concrete deficits.

No parent wants to think of segregating their child.  Segregation brings horrible pictures to mind of "No blacks allowed," and "whites only."  But the fact of the matter is, our kids are horribly misunderstood.  Who's fault is this?  Certainly not the parents.  Most parents are more than happy to share with their child's school things that work for their children and things that don't.  I know I most certainly do.  The problem is that the school staff really don't have the time to listen to what I have to say, as I am not an expert on the subject.  "They," on the other hand, are well meaning "professionals," who know what my child needs.  Their experience and expertise on what works on typical children is what they believe will work for my son.  And then they wonder why they have problems...

The most frustrating part of raising a child with a neurological difference, such as autism, aspergers and PDD-NOS, is not the child themselves...  it's trying to convince others the enormity of the child's deficits.  Deficit areas such as language (understanding rhetorical questions), sensory issues (Dayton can't certain sounds, for example music class is super painful for him, or the feel of new socks), theory of mind (thinking about how another person thinks or why they react they way they do, for example emotions), problem solving, anxiety, consistency in their scheduled days, social skills, play skills, motor issues (Dayton is 9, and he still can't tie his shoes because his fingers can't manipulate the shoe laces), spacial orientation (where the body is in space, for example co-ordination).

If inclusion in our school systems is to work, I think it is vital for them to understand these deficits and BELIEVE them.  Their disbelief is not only affecting our children, but the typical children as well.  Think about it.  If a busy classroom with colorful walls overstimulates my child and he has a melt down, it affects the entire classroom.  The one most affected is my child along with me, since he will now be suspended and I have to leave work to go and get him.  My boss is not pleased at all the work I am missing and my students also suffer the consequences.  When a teacher uses an idiom such as "hold your horses" and my son responds with "what horses?" the teacher automatically assumes Dayton is being disrespectful and sends him to the office.  Dayton of course throws a fit because he's answered her question and doesn't understand why he's being sent to the office.  I am called to pick him up AGAIN. 

By the time I get to the school, Dayton is furious, has punched the walls, pushed teachers and children out of his way because he's super frustrated at trying to understand what he's done wrong and no one is answering him.  He feels picked on and not important.  In his anger he screams, scaring the children around him.

Here's a perfect example of total and complete miscommunication between school staff and Dayton from last February:

Little Johnny has a hole in his back pack.  Dayton sees the hole and he just can't help himself...  He sticks his finger in the hole and rips the back pack further.  (Impulse control deficit, this is not an excuse, but an explanation as to why he did this).  Dayton's teacher and aid are standing across the room watching Dayton do this.  The teacher the approaches Dayton and asks him "Dayton, did you rip Johnny's back pack?"
Dayton:  "No."  (Language deficit.  Dayton has answered the question asked truthfully.  He is literal.  He did not rip the back pack, it was already ripped.  Dayton is not able to articulate this).
Teacher:  "Yes, yes you did, I watched you do it."
Dayton tries to back away from the teacher, but she follows.  In order to get away from her he moves a desk.  This is viewed as "aggressive behavior."  The aid now approaches Dayton from the other side and the two women figure they can corner him.  Can you see where this is heading?  

Dayton's throat was so sore, he couldn't talk or eat for a few days after the incident.  I had to force him to drink.  He had lots of smoothies and milkshakes as meals.  Naturally, I kept him home for those days.

Inclusion...  does it really work?  Not for us.  It's been a literal hell.  A facebook friend said it perfectly:  "There are two types of inclusion, genuine and cosmetic.  What our kids are getting most often is cosmetic inclusion.  They're in the classroom, and it all looks good, but that's about where it ends."

Consider yourselves hugged!


Friday, 18 March 2011

Soooo... Tell Me What'cha Want, What'cha Really, Really Want....

Abstract Language
Rhetorical questions

Most kids on the spectrum don't understand these, as they typically think in literal terms.  Glen, Dayton's father, makes up his own "slang language," as he's the group's clown and likes to joke around and pull pranks on his friends and co-workers.  This tends to be counter productive to Dayton's very concrete and literal understanding of what is discussed.  Fortunately, we're aware of Dayton's language deficit, and can help him through it.

Think for a moment what this means for Dayton and others on the autism spectrum in the school setting.  Teachers, principals and guidance counselors are famous for using rhetorical questions meant as a directive to the child.  Let's look at a couple of examples, shall we...

Example 1)  Did you forget something?
Dayton simply answers with a short "no," which to the teachers shows defiance or lack of respect.  This of course results in a trip to the Principal's office, which Dayton will protest to, because in his mind, he's answered the teacher's question.  If he had known he had forgotten something, he would have got it.  In his mind, he doesn't understand why he's being sent to the Principal's office because he's done nothing wrong.

Example 2)  What part of paying attention do you not understand?
Dayton:  "all of it."
Obviously, Dayton is asked to go to the office again.  In his mind, again, he simply answered the question honestly.  He really doesn't understand the implied meaning of "do what you're told." 

Language...  we take it for granted so often that we are able to "read between the lines."  for the kids like Dayton who fit on the higher functioning side of the autism spectrum, it is difficult to believe that they don't understand the intended meaning behind idioms when they are capable of having a conversation.  These kids look so good, with no visible disability, so the teachers forget that they are neurologically different from the rest of the student body. 

Unfortunately, because of their language deficits and misunderstandings, these kids are labelled as bad, manipulative or defiant.  Naturally, this results in negative consequences for these kids, by being punished with no understanding as to what they have done wrong.  And now they're mad...  Wouldn't you be?  What happens when you get mad, or feel you have been wrongfully accused of something you didn't do?  Oh yes...  do you sense the suspension just around the corner?

Now does this mean these kids can't learn abstract language?  Of course not.  Teachers just need to take a short minute or less to ensure that the child understood what they had meant.  I do it all the time at home.  Here's a quick example of something that happened just last weekend.

We had grandma and grandpa over for supper Sunday night, which even though it may have interrupted Dayton's routine, he very much looked forward to.  Dayton loves his grandparents dearly, and looks up to grandpa.  After supper, grandma and I helped Dayton plant some peas, as his school project of planting beans didn't workout too well.  Once we finished, he wanted to play with his Nerf gun my friend had given him as a birthday present.

At 7 pm, I asked Dayton to start his bed time routine.  I normally have him in bed at 7:30pm, with the lights turned off and the TV ready to watch Sponge Bob Square Pants until 8pm, when he turns the TV off and goes to sleep with his cat Jack.  This night he tells me that instead of watching Sponge Bob, he wants to visit with grandma and grandpa.  I agree and go to the laundry room to finish the heap of laundry.

Well...  All I heard was Dayton's Nerf gun shooting foamy bullets at my walls.  I come back out and ask Dayton why he isn't spending time with his grandparents.  I'm frustrated, tired, and feeling ill.  All I want to do is get this laundry done, sit down with mom and visit with her a little longer.  I slip and make a mistake...

"Stop pushing my buttons!!!  Get ready for bed, NOW!"
"What buttons?"
"Oh no..."
"Where are these buttons?!"
"Honey, it's a figure of speech."
"Dayton, sometimes when we get upset, we will say something like "stop pushing my buttons."  It doesn't mean that we actually have buttons to press."
"What about our belly buttons?"
"We don't press our  belly buttons, and if we did, nothing would happen."
"Sooooooo, there's no buttons for me to press...  then why did you say I pressed your buttons?"
Let's try this again...  "Sometimes, people get upset, just like mommy got upset with you, see my face?"  I make it a point to frown, and ensure he understands that my face means I'm frustrated.  Dayton struggles with recognizing facial expressions.  "When you won't stop and listen to me and obey, it makes me upset, and when you won't stop what you're doing..."
"Pressing buttons."
"So you don't have buttons."
"Right, mommy doesn't have buttons."
"Other than your belly button."
"Right babe, other than my belly button."

It takes some time, and it can be a little frustrating, but it's something that needs to be done.  Dayton has now learned an expression, one I hope he can remember for next time someone uses the idiom.  Things that other children (I hate using the word "normal," it drives me crazy) are able to decipher, kids on the autism spectrum need to learn, and discuss in order to understand.  How wonderful it would be if Dayton's teachers accepted this!

As my dad always says instead of saying good bye, "Consider yourselves hugged!"


Wednesday, 16 March 2011

A Froot Loop In A World Full Of Cheerios

I posted a link to my last blog titled "CFS, Friend or Foe" on my facebook page, and got responses to the blog almost right away.  A friend who's  twelve year old daughter also has autism, had commented on how her daughter's school has not had an IEP in place for her daughter since grade one!  They seem to think it a waste of time, but not a waste of time to call CFS on her because her little girl is "too skinny."  How familiar this story is to me...

Dayton is a tall and skinny 9 year old.  I fret over making his lunches at school, worry about his weight all the time.  I'm a wee bit over weight, and could definitely stand to lose a few pounds.  I don't think I've met a woman that's ever been happy with her weight, but when I tell you I'm a wee bit overweight, believe it to be true.  I enjoy romantic walks to the fridge...

Dayton's father on the other hand stands very tall at 6'3" and is super lean.  Not skinny, he's "one of those people" we all love to hate.  The ones that can eat whatever they want, whenever they want and never have to work out, yet looks like he's a health nut and works out faithfully...  Grrrr...

Any how...  Here's the latest email from Dayton's school with my response:

The email from the school guidance counselor:

Good afternoon Lou

Just thought I'd check in with you re Dayton's start to the day as he has been saying that he doesn't eat his breakfast and is hungry as soon as he gets to school. What is your take on this?  Thanks for the feedback.

My response back to the school:

Hi Judy,

I've discussed your email with the principal this afternoon, as I was shocked to receive it.  I've also had the chance to discuss this with Dayton.

First, I'd like to assure you as I have assured the principal, Dayton eats breakfast every morning, and it's always the same breakfast as he won't eat anything else:  a nutella sandwich, with either tea or milk (most often he ignores the beverage).  He has this every morning at 7:15am, as it takes him 15 minutes to eat.  At 7:30am, he is asked to get his teeth and hair brushed, wash his face and get dressed for school.  This takes him another 20 minutes or so.  If he has enough time, he gets to watch "YTV" before heading off to school.  He gets picked up by the bus at 8am.  Would it make sense for him to be hungry when he gets to school?

I've discussed this with Dayton.  He tells me that he arrived at the school and you had asked him what he had for breakfast, and that he told you "nothing" as a joke?  Of course I'm not finding this amusing at all.  Speaking to the principal she was under the impression that you had tried to get him to do some work at which point he may have delayed the work by asking to eat first?  I'm not sure which happened...

His lunches are always the same, as he doesn't want anything else but meat, crackers, pudding or yogurt.  I always send him to school with a fruit, which sometimes he eats, sometimes he doesn't.  I used to send him to school with snap peas or celery sticks, but he used them in an offensive way in class (placing them between his legs) and he no longer gets them included in his lunches as Mrs. P. complained of his behavior.
Here's what I do know. 
When bed time arrives, Dayton will try to delay bed time by asking for a snack.  I've combated this by offering him a drink and a snack before announcing it is bed time.  If I am asking Dayton to do something he's not comfortable with or if it's something he doesn't like to do, he will ask for a snack.  I've combated this in the same way, by offering him a snack before the task.

I've just checked his lunch bag, and he still has an apple sauce and a package of bunny crackers.  So it appears he is getting more than enough food to take with him to school.  Every day he comes home from school, he has plenty of lunch left over, sometimes he doesn't even touch his lunch. 

On weekends, Dayton most often grazes.  I find he eats more because I don't need to give him the second Biphentin as necessary at school.  One of Biphentin's side effects is loss of appetite. 

There are times when Dayton is uncomfortable, and sometimes he copes with his discomfort by eating.  He takes after me in that respect, and thankfully has his father's metabolism.

I hope I've answered all of your questions. 


Her response back to me was "thank you."  Seriously!  These are the actual emails I had sent, with the exception of substituting the word principal for the principal's name and the changing Mrs. P's name. 
There's so many more emails I could share with you, but I thought I would share this one as it addresses my friend's concern on food and weight issues.  As a parent, I feel responsible for my child's behavior.  The school knows this, and they hold me accountable for his behavior.  It seems as a parent, that no matter what you say, do, or write, there is always that unspoken insinuation that at the core of the problem is your parenting.  Although there typically is no mention of the word "irritated," you can often sense the "tone" of the email coming through loud and clear as in this one from Dayton's principal:

Hi Lou,
Dayton and I are just talking about being kind to Jack. He just flushed one of Jack's toys down the toilet and Dayton will have to replace this toy. It is a little mini figure. He can describe it to you.
He continues to call Jack names and we have talked about this as well.
If you get a chance to call, Dayton is still with me.

Yes...  because I check my email every every minute of the day...  Fortunately for the principal, I do have my email set up to alert me immediately on my blackberry, so I'm aware of an email right away, as long as I have my blackberry with me that is.

Continuing on with some of the comments made on my facebook page regarding the link to this past blog, another friend had posted a link that may be of help to you if you have a picky eater.  Her little guy refused to eat veggies or anything remotely healthy, and so she tricked him by giving him a veggie burger shaped as Mickey Mouse...  Here's the link:

Let me know via email at or by commenting on this post if there is a topic you would like to discuss.  

Consider yourselves hugged!


Monday, 14 March 2011

CFS, Friend or Foe?

Many of us think of CFS (Child and Family Services) as the devil who comes and takes our children away, but did you know they offer other services?

Turns out they can be used to advocate for your children in their school!  I had no clue!

Do to Dayton's behavior, his current school has called CFS twice in the last year.  It's super embarrassing, and as I cried and threw a temper tantrum only a parent who's been in this horrifying position can appreciate, the worker sitting across from me sympathized with my situation.  Upon hearing what the school had to say, then listen to my incoherent babble and interviewing Dayton, the file was closed immediately.  Before leaving their offices, the worker asked me how she could be of help to Dayton and I, and of course my first answer was to find us a new school, a school that specialized in helping children with autism.  Of course, her answer to me is an all too familiar answer most of us hear when we ask our selves where to find a school that can appreciate our little ones pattern of thought.  "I'm afraid there just isn't any such school in Winnipeg...  But, I do have another idea..."
"I'm all ears!!!"
"How about we find a worker who will advocate for Dayton within the school system?"
"Seriously?!  You do that?"
"Sign me up!!!"
And she did.

In less then two weeks I got a phone call from a worker who was a temp, but offered his services right away.  He came to my home, and I asked Dayton's social worker, Diana from children with special needs and disabilities to come join us for our first appointment.  I mean, CFS was coming to my house, and they're the devil, right?  I needed someone at the door to stop Satan if he tried to take my baby away, and Diana is afraid of no one.  At least I think...

Anyways, the appointment went super well!  A little uncomfortable at first, and I was totally, brutally honest with the guy, I told him it's strange working with someone who could potentially come in my home, not like my smile and take my baby, but he assured me CFS wants to work with families to keep families together.  Another thought he had offered me was that having CFS come to Dayton's IEP meetings at the school shows I have a relationship with CFS and the school can not use CFS as threat when I'm bringing CFS to them!  I liked this guy.

He hooked me up with some counseling, which I thought I didn't really need, but you know what?  I think most of us with kids on the spectrum need someone to talk to, someone who will listen to us without judgement, and someone we can vent at.  We all love our kids, no doubt about that, I would give my life for Dayton's in a blink of an eye, but there are days where my patients runs on empty, and I just need a break from having to explain every single thing...  Just a little, tiny break... 

It was during this counseling that I learned that someone from the school division that has an understanding of autism should be involved in the IEP process, and furthermore, should be included in the IEP meetings!  I've never had anyone from the school division included in the IEP meetings, and the only people present were the principal, school guidance counselor, the resource teacher and then of course Dayton's team:  his behavioral specialist I work with at home and of course Diana, Dayton's social worker from children with special needs and disabilities, and let's not forget me, his mama.  I don't go to a school meeting without these two ladies, as I need their support to make it through a meeting with this school.

One more thing...  they have family support workers!  Depending on your income, they may charge you for this service, but since I'm on sick leave from work, our worker isn't charging us.  The family support worker comes to our home once a week for an hour and a half.  She provides us with information and is a sound board for me.

By having a relationship with CFS, I'm walking away with an advocate for Dayton in the school system, a counselor for myself, a proper IEP meeting where the school is accountable for what happens at school, and a family service worker.  None of these things would have come about without my CFS worker.

Another plus, every email I get from the school and respond to, I forward to Brenda, my CFS worker.  Everything is documented by her, so if there are any issues, she will take care of them.  She's so strong!  And if I have a concern with the school and email then, I make sure they see Brenda's being emailed as well.  I get a response from the school immediately.  Brenda's email address carries a lot of weight behind it. 

Friend or Foe?

For more information on what services they offer, follow this link: /index.html
To contact the Family Support Coordinator, call 204-944-4369.

Consider yourselves hugged!


Saturday, 12 March 2011

Welcome To Social Skills Group


Seriously!  It was amazing, and I can hardly wait to tell you all about it.  I'm typing as fast as I can, smoke billowing off my keyboard, I'm just so thrilled to share this with you all!!!  For once my child was accepted for who he is and how he thinks.

I had called ASM with the thought of seeking a play group for Dayton with children on the spectrum, a support system for Dayton if you will.  Sandra (from ASM) had suggested the Social Skills Group and I thought, meh, not sure if that's what I'm looking for, but Dayton could definitely use some help in this area and agreed to enroll.  Because we had missed 2 sessions, Sandra told me she would charge me $50.00 for the remaining 6 sessions.  OK!  Sold!

So off we go to our first session.  Naturally, since I have no sense of direction, we get lost.  And to make it worse, I'm trying to find the place in the dark.  I'm hoping Dayton forgot the few choice words he no doubt heard me utter under my breath.  Winnipeg drivers are so unforgiving...  Super miserable about it and worrying that we're going to be late (I hate being late!!!).  Finally, I find the building and we make it with five minutes to spare, whew!!!  Parking was a little tricky, as it's all reserved parking, then I remembered Sandra telling me that it's reserved during the day, and that we are allowed to park in the evening with no concern of being towed.  Whew!  I'm a little anal, so naturally, I ask the security guard on duty and confirm that I'm fine parking in the parking lot across the building.  OK, so we're in the building, we have to sign it with the same security guard, and we sit down to wait.

I love watching people, kind of a hobby of mine.  Perhaps because of my line of work?  Anyways, new surroundings for Dayton, and he's not quite sure what to do with himself.  I ask if he wants to sit down, he says "no."  I sit down, and he sits beside me.  Both of us are kind of wide eyed, the deer caught in the head lights kind of look.  We're so not fooling anyone around us, not that anyone is really paying attention to us.  As I watch the kids coming through the doors, I'm thinking we're in the wrong group.  Some pretty seriously affected children with autism came through those doors.  I felt a pang of shame for my "ordeal" with Dayton's diagnosis, thinking these parents have it so much more worse.  And then thought, perhaps not.  The children I observed were obviously affected with autism, where as my little guy is very high functioning.  His school seems to be in denial of his diagnosis.  Dayton can speak, he can walk, he is potty trained, and looks "normal."  God, I hate that word...  "normal."  What is "normal" anyways?  And so his school treats Dayton as though he is "normal," and doesn't stop to think he may be overstimulated by sounds, sights and smells...  Anyways...

The therapist comes to get the children, and Dayton and I missed her, trying to figure out his new iPod touch.  The security guard rolls her eyes at us as she buzzes us in...  We walk into the classroom, and there were more kids.  Now I look at the kids I obviously missed in the waiting area...  There's some there that to me seemed "normal."  I'm thinking they may be neurotypical siblings, but no...  Each and every child here has a diagnosis of ASD.  I'm amazed!  When you meet A child with ASD, you've met A child with ASD.  Such a wide spectrum!

I hover around Dayton, wondering why there are no parents in this classroom.  What do I do?  I promised Dayton that I would stay with him if he needed me, but it seems I am persona non grata here...  I help Dayton take his jacket off, hang it up on a coat rack and tell him I will be right outside the door of the classroom.  I wave good bye, and assure him that I'm right by the door, and hear everything that's happening.  Outside the door, I find these little, tiny pre-school chairs, and think I'd need about three of them to get even remotely comfortable, but chose one and sit, uncomfortably for an hour, waiting, listening, praying...

Dayton's shoulders rose to his ears, and his eyes move sharply to the right, so sharply I think it's got to hurt!  He says no.  And I immediately see how Dayton's school can see this behavior as defiant, but when I looked closer, he was not the only one doing this!  The therapist didn't demand their attention, instead she asked them if they were comfortable.  They both said "no."  They both found a chair to sit.  I wonder if he worded her question, knowing they would say no, as it probably wasn't comfortable in order for them to sit down, which is what she wanted?  Hmmmmm...

At the end of class, the therapist asked the kids if they had fun.  Naturally, a few of them said "no," and yet these huge grins on their faces, Dayton being one of them.  They each got a snack during class and a prize to take home for coming out for the evening.  Dayton left perseverating on the word "I."

Respect.  That's what I saw that night.  RESPECT for my boy, the way he thought and how he is.  Respect is a mutual thing.  Most people give their respect upon meeting someone...  Consider yourself around a senior citizen...  You just automatically respect and sort of in a way trust...  Not our kids.  They've been jilted so many times, that their respect must be earned first, especially their trust.  This therapist knew this, and RESPECTED it.

If you can afford $100.00 for 8 hour long sessions, once a week, I strongly recommend contacting the ASM (Autism Society of Manitoba), and registering your child for a Social Skills Group.

For more information on ASM, contact them at:

They're located at 825 Sherbrook St,
Winnipeg, MB.
Tel:  204-783-9563

For those of you not leaving in Winnipeg, check out the Autism Society Canada website:
then click here:  Provincial and Territorial Societies.  You can find an organization in your community that will offer the same kind of "social skills group" I've experienced.  They will offer more groups for you to check out.  Pick what you think you will find the most beneficial for you and your little one.

Consider yourselves hugged,


Wednesday, 9 March 2011

In Your Anger Do Not Sin... Psalm 4:4

Leave it to my mom to make me feel like a heel (in a good way, I need a good head shake just like everyone else).  She read my last note on facebook, and while standing beside dad battling cancer, she thought of words to encourage me.  The woman is as selfless as they get.  Always humbling me, and making me feel guilty for being so selfish...  Anyway, I thought I'd share this story with you all, especially those of you with children on the autism spectrum...

"I thought of you when I read this story a week or so ago... If only everyone had God's Spirit in them and was sensitive to His promptings as this man was.
Quote as follows....."

In your anger do not sin... Psalm 4:4

I recently read a very relatable story. Author Kem Meyer tells of a friend who arrived at his church just before the service began. He sat down behind a family he didn't recognize. As he waited for the service to begin, he noticed that their teenage son was playing on his Gameboy.

As the service started this guy was irritated that the boy continued to play his game. The longer the service went on, the more agitated he became. It was on mute, but still distracting. Finally, he started to lean forward to ask the boy to put the game away, when something caused him to stop. It was just a split second.

As he leaned forward again, he tapped the boy on the shoulder and said, "Hey, you know what? I've got a guide with all the moves to beat that game, if you want it."

It was as if he had this In-your-anger-do-not-sin moment. God always gives us that moment.
As it turns out, that teenage boy in front him was autistic. And because of their son's inability to sit still, his family hadn't been able to attend church for years. They had been asked to leave public places numerous times because of the boy's erratic behavior.

God always gives us that moment – that split-second between anger and sin. It's easy to blow right through it – so easy to run that stop sign.

But if we can learn to recognize it, and respond well to it, it would make a huge difference in your relationships.
God always gives us that moment.

eCouragement by Doug Kyle 

Wow, I sure hope this doesn't mean that everyone on the face of this planet must be Christian an focus on Psalm 4:4  every single morning before heading out the door.  How I wish we all could do this... 

As in the words of my dad, who always  makes me feel loved and appreciated no matter how upset and aerate I get...  Consider yourselves hugged,


Tuesday, 8 March 2011

"If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do matters"

One of the smartest and most sophisticated women of all time (in my opinion) is Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. At her funeral, her son John described three of her attributes as: the love of words, the bonds of home and family, and the spirit of adventure. She has been quoted as saying: “If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do matters.”

Some of you may think me crazy for taking this quote literally, and perhaps a little autistic, but you know what? She’s so right! My curriculum work makes no difference to the world if I have failed my son. Spending time working day and night and weekends in no way helped my bank account and it most certainly did not help Dayton’s development. It’s time to take a seriously hard look at my priorities here. While yes,educating adults for their future careers is super important, my child’s education is even more so important. Failing to re-direct my focus on Dayton’s education may be crucial to his life, and will my employers help him in any way? Most likely not. Furthermore, receiving no recognition for all the hard work I’ve put into making the program into what it is today is kind of insulting.

So, while on medical leave, I will take time to look at my options with Dayton and how to serve him best.

Obviously, since our latest incident with his school (his aid thought it a good idea to bend his thumb back until he fell to this knees in front of his class mates), this means I will focus my energies into finding Dayton a better equipped school to deal with his needs, and daycare is a MUST!!! If I have no time to myself to recharge my batteries, I will not be the optimum mom. I also want to contact the Autism Society of Manitoba and get us both some support there, in the form of play groups where Dayton can be accepted for who he is and how he thinks. If one does not exist, my next step is to create one myself.

I also want to visit our local YMCA and see what programs they may have for both of us to enjoy. Winter time is super cold out here, with temperatures dropping to mid -40 degrees Celsius. I’m a fair weather kind of girl, and I’m sure even Jackie O would agree that perhaps we can skip the outdoor play in these cold temperatures.

While I love my job and enjoy teaching and adore the college as well as my co-workers, I will need to make a schedule for myself to continue working.
No more bringing work home. Work will remain at the college, my home life begins immediately after work. Also, no more volunteer hours.  The volunteer hours got me no recognition at work, but you'd better believe my little guy will give me OODLES of recognition for all those hours being given to him!  Love my babe!  He's awesome!!!  And he deserves my time...

Consider yourselves hugged!


You'd better believe, Dayton is the priority number one in my life!  He's just so adorable!