Boy with Asperger’s interviews his mom and it is heartwarming

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I highly recommend all parents (not just parents of kiddos on the spectrum) watch this video. It is heartwarming and I just loved her answers and the caring and loving tone of her words and voice. My friend recommended this to me and I’m so glad he did.

Let me know what you think! If you like that, get the tissues ready and check out this interview with a husband and wife that simply bursts my heart with emotion.

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Thank you so much for supporting me and I always appreciate your views and shares!

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To the man who volunteered to be my Dad on Father’s Day…

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Happy Father’s Day to the man who stepped up and loved me like his own daughter. He was the best dad I could have asked for and always loved me and was there any time I needed him.
My dad was horrible. Quite honestly, the most awful person I’ve ever known.
When we left my dad when I was about 15, it was in the middle of the night after he’d hit my mom and choked me until I was losing consciousness when I tried to help her and call the police. He ripped the phone out of the wall as I called 911, but the call got through and the police came to save us. We left in the dark and had almost no clothes with us or anything. We showed up at my Granddad’s house at around 4 in the morning. As soon as he saw us, he said “you can stay here as long as you like. Come on in. I’ll make you a bed.”
He made us breakfast before school daily and I remember always having salad on the table with every meal. He would treat us to homemade banana splits and his famous vegetable soup. He even made a separate beef-free version just for me. 
He was always my shelter in the storm and my rock. He loved me and my kids so much. He would call me and say “Bring the kids! It’s time to pick the blueberries!” and we’d pick berries together and he’d make us each tiny blueberry pies. He came to spend time with us once or twice a week every week until he died. He would bring the kids cookies, candy, graham crackers,  bananas and orange juice every time he came over. He brought so many that we still have at least ten boxes and he passed away almost a year ago. Every time I was in the hospital, he was there nearly every single day.
And every time I thanked him, he’d say “That’s what Granddads are for!”
To the man who rescued us, loved us, kept us safe, and always made sure I had a sweater on when I left the house…Happy Father’s Day. You were truly the best.

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Why homeschooling was the best decision for my family and how I made it work

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This article really hit home for me. It touches on a lot of the benefits I’ve experienced from homeschooling. This is obviously a very personal choice and an important one and it’s so great to hear from other parents.

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I was afraid I couldn’t do it or that I wouldn’t be “good enough”, but I realized after beginning homeschooling that I’m the best teacher for my kids. I was worried about money. I’m a single mom who would be only able to work from home. I have a cottage-based cupcake business, but that’s only as orders are placed. I knew I needed to make a stable income to allow me to homeschool. I decided to become a Tupperware consultant and an Independent Thirty-One Consultant. My hours (both how many I work and when) are completely flexible so I can pay the bills while still being able to homeschool my kids. I realized the only thing that would hold me back was my own fear, so I conquered it.
Sure, there are challenges: “me time” being very limited (although getting paid to be a consultant at parties allows me to make my income while maintaining time with real, live grownups!), juggling housework and school and my own working from home, time management, etc. but the rewards are exponentially greater. I get to be involved 100% with my children’s education.

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I don’t need to get one to two sentence reports from teachers in report cards to summarize months of learning or have to limit my time to ask all of my questions about their progress to fifteen minutes of conference time. I know everything they need extra help with and can work with them until they truly “get it”. I can watch them light up as they get to help me come up with learning themes for the week. I get to tailor their schooling to their interests.

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One week, we focused on cars. We learned how engines work, who invented the first car, learned to read a speedometer and figure out how many miles over the speed limit our imaginary drivers were going and wrote out tickets to match, went to a classic car museum, designed our dream cars, learned about aerodynamics and drag, worked on spelling car-focused words,  and watched How It’s Made car episodes. The excitement and fun of learning while applying the newly acquired knowledge made for complaint-free school and learning that “sticks”. We covered all of the core academic subjects along with real-world information and applications. Not to mention, my six-year-old was doing multiplication! (And laughing while doing it!)

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He tells me often how much he just loves home school. If there comes a day that he doesn’t, we’ll look into changing it, but I can say so far that this has been the best choice and we’re both enjoying school…together.

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My Autism Awareness Day 2014

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Right now, on Autism Awareness Day 2014, I’m sitting next to my son while he chews on and sniffs his blanket. He’s six and excited about his 7th birthday in a couple weeks. He loves Minecraft, Legos, and- like most kids- tells jokes that make no sense (which he forcefully fake-laughs at because he’s learning people laugh when jokes are told).
I sat with him today in Panera eating our Blue Puzzle Piece cookies to benefit the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Center for Autism. I was beaming with pride as he happily soaked up stories of his first word (car) at age 3 and his first year of speaking (which consisted of parroting commercials, cartoons, and the phrase “copyright 1995”).

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I decided that our homeschooling today would consist of learning about Autism. He’s displayed Autism characteristics since I can remember, even in infancy. We have very few pictures of him smiling, looking at the camera, etc. Most are of him crying or lining up any object he could find all across the floor. It was concerning to have a baby who cried nearly 24/7 and didn’t sleep for days. I thought he may have had issues with milk allergies or something painful that was causing such upset. At around 14 months, any communication turned to just screaming. That’s when I began to learn his language. That may sound like a strange concept but, for an Autism parent, it’s completely understandable. I can now take a scream and decipher what it means, what he needs, or what’s wrong. That has come from nearly 7 years of guessing until I could figure it out. He speaks now, eloquently, I might add. It’s nearly always centered around his interest at the moment and he interrupts constantly because he kind of forgets others are there unless they make their presence known to him by touching him. (Not for too long or too softly. He hates that) He sees none of this or most of his other characteristics. So, I set out to teach him today about Autism and what it means.
He knows he has Autism. He knew that, last year, he was moved in his first couple weeks of school from a typical classroom to a combo/transitional room of special needs and “typical” children with a teacher and an aide. He hid under the table, was spinning during storytime, screaming, crying because they had no seatbelts on the bus (the rule is to always wear a seatbelt when we drive, so he would panic without seatbelts and lie on the floor of the bus to feel safe), trying to leave school or scale the walls of the playground. He was moved to a special needs 1:1 student-teacher ratio room and a special needs bus with an aide. They also were having such a hard time seeing that the things they were punishing him for and reporting home as “problem behavior” were actually characteristics of Autism and ADHD (which he also has). These were teachers specifically trained in caring for kids with special needs including Autism. They actually would have him stay at school during special ed field trips and do physical labor instead.

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Even his own (ex-) Autism Specialist declared him as “cured” simply because he began talking.
I remember his first kindergarten teacher (an incredible man who cared very much) calling at lunch and crying because he’d never seen anything like this. See, my boy was diagnosed at 14 months. At a year old, he was banging his head on everything around him so much that he was splitting his forehead open and we were having to go to the ER to get it glued shut. He’d bang his face on the coffee table until blood was running down his face and laugh the entire time while I frantically tried to figure out how to hold his head to stop this for hours at a time. His doctor actually had me give him Benedryl on a few occasions because it was safer than the concussion he would have given himself. My little man wore a helmet for nearly two years. He screamed and had meltdowns at every public place we went. It got to the point that we couldn’t leave home.
I brought this up at his checkup appointment, filled out their questionnaire, and brought it back. They said he was off the charts in his social impairment and rating for concerns of Autism. We were referred to a Neurodevelopmental Pediatrics office in the local Children’s Hospital. After consults and evaluations, he was officially diagnosed with Autism and I was given a “grim outlook” because of the severity. He’d never talk, never say “Mom”, never function in society. We started therapy, but it felt like we were simply trying to change him into someone else and not learn how to best support and care for him.
Around that time, I heard about Temple Grandin. She was in the same situation (only older) when diagnosed and her mom was told back then that they put children with Autism in living centers. Her mother refused and began to work with her Autism, not against it. Over the years, Temple Grandin went on to college and used her unique characteristics to her advantage. She developed better systems for farming and slaughterhouses. She was quoted as saying that people with Autism are “different, not less”.
It was an awakening. My son was not diseased, sick, or broken. He was amazingly different. He was unique and needed a unique approach. I started to make myself aware of Autism, but Awareness is a beginning, not an end. Awareness needs more to make a difference. Awareness needs education, caring, concern, empathy, and understanding. Awareness needs to become acceptance and inclusion.
Just last week, I took my son for ice cream and playtime at McDonald’s. He only eats vanilla and had a meltdown because they forgot the cherry on top. He was on the floor, sobbing and punching himself in the face, then ran and hid behind a display. He’s 70 pounds and there was no way I could carry him out to calm down outside, so my only option was to work it out right there. It may sound minuscule to most, but to a child with Autism- to my son- routines and knowing what to expect can mean the difference between a good day and the world falling apart. You may be thinking that he needs to “learn” to cope. And we talk about preparing for situations and try to plan out everything. But, at that moment, learning to cope was no more easily done than for me to learn to not have trouble breathing during an asthma attack. When those things happen, it’s about helping the situation and returning to his normalcy. As a crowd formed around us, staring at him and pointing, whispering and rolling their eyes, saying “if a parent lets their kid act like that, they should have their kid taken away” in a volume to be sure I’d hear, trying to grab him or tell me he “needs a good spanking” and what their mom did for behavior like that…I realized the need for more than Awareness. Probably 90% of those people had heard of Autism. Probably 90% of them envisioned Rain Man. Obviously, none had envisioned my son- a boy who physically looks like any other child.
In honor of my sweet, loving, misunderstood son and the millions out there like him (and not-so-like him!) with Autism, please take time to familiarize yourself with Autism and the Spectrum. You may not recognize them at first glance in a child you see at the grocery store or restaurant but the knowledge will enable you to understand. Remember to offer help, not advice. Remember to care, not to judge. Remember that, while cookies and wearing blue on a certain day or month is a nice gesture, it’s just the beginning to a world that includes my son in it and that rejoices in the things he does in place of punishing him for the things he doesn’t.

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Things I want my daughter to know

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I read a blog recently about “100 things I want my daughter to know”…or remember…or something. (I forget the exact wording). The sentiment was the things she’d want her daughter to keep with her. There were some that I liked and some that felt to me like they were perpetuating stereotypes.
I feel compelled to write my own list. I’m not the healthiest individual, so I write letters to my kids often… Just in case. I hope that my daughter reads this after I’m gone (which will hopefully be many, many decades from now) and it empowers her.

1) Don’t try to be me, or a certain model or actress or singer or even scientist… Be yourself.
2) You are just as great as anybody else.
3) You deserve just as much respect as you give.
4) Be the best version of yourself you can.
5) Make the most well thought-out choices you can at the time and don’t second-guess yourself.
6) Forgive yourself and learn from your mistakes.
7) Forgive others and learn from their mistakes.
8) Learn to discern others’ mistakes from them using you.
9) You are beautiful. You were born beautiful and need no fancy clothes or makeup to make you pretty.
10) That said, if you like makeup or fancy clothes, rock it. (Just realize you make the clothes look good, not the other way around)
11) Your body is your own. Nobody can tell you your worth. You are priceless.
12) There is no one body type that’s the prettiest. Be proud of your broad shoulders. I was always so self-conscious of mine and I wish I would have not let others tell me I should be thinner.
13) Self confidence is contagious. Others will see you in the way you see yourself.
14) Speak up. Loudly, if you need to.
15) If you like tattoos, then get them! I only ask that you think them over for at least a year beforehand.
16) If someone pressures you into sex, you should not have sex with them.
17) Go with your gut.
18) Your dreams are attainable.
19) Intelligence is not something to hide.
20) Your plate should always be half filled with veggies.
21) Never wear a bra that doesn’t fit.
22) Never wear shoes that don’t fit, either.
23) You can be anything a man can be.
24) If you are LGBTQ, there is nothing wrong with that. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
25) If someone treats you badly, don’t take it.
26) Fight for others’ rights and your own.
27) Injustice preys on those with no voice. Be that voice.
28) Organization makes life easier.
29) Worrying about things almost never changes them.
30) It’s okay to go through embarrassing phases to find where you’re most comfortable.
31) Sometimes you have to wipe the “friends slate” clean in order to grow.
32) If something is bothering you, talk about it before it gets so big that you blow up.
33) If you make a mistake, own up to it and make it right.
34) Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that tattoos aren’t feminine.
35) Never stop learning.
36) Science and math are everywhere.
37) Question everything.
38) My beliefs aren’t and shouldn’t be yours. Find the path that feels right for you.
39) You can always do more than you think you can.
40) Your brother loves you, even when he gets on your nerves.
41) Take care of your teeth like it’s your job.
42) Don’t make fun of people.
43) Remember there’s a “big picture”.
44) If someone tells you something, research it. Don’t take everything that people tell you as truth.
45) Just because you read it on Facebook doesn’t make it true, either.
46) Dance when the feeling strikes you and do it with reckless abandon.
47) Cry when you need to. A cleansing cry can work wonders.
48) When you love people, tell them. And tell them often.
49) Laugh. Laugh as much as you can.
50) Love your job. If you don’t, actively try to change your situation.
51) Children are wonderful, but don’t let anyone tell you that you need to have kids if you don’t want to.
52) Condoms are not something you should be talked out of using.
53) Be judicious about who you have sex with.
54) Sex isn’t shameful or dirty.
55) You don’t need to marry someone because it feels like the logical next step. If you get married, do it with all your heart.
56) Self breast exams are a necessity.
57) Always know that, every minute of every day, I love you. Even when I’m gone, my love for you is so big that it doesn’t die with me or even you. It is forever. Long after we’re both gone, my love for you will dance through the leaves of the trees on the wind. Unconditional and eternal. I love you like that and I hope you love yourself the same.

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*May contain affiliate links. All opinions are always my own