Monday, April 30, 2012

Pancakes Gone Awry to ‘I Wish I Didn’t Have Aspergers: #AutismPositivity2012”.



A few weeks ago, one of the kids in my LEGO Social Club vehemently declared,  "I HATE autism!  I hate it!  There is no cure and it makes my life so hard!" 

From the start, I felt a connection with B, a 13 year old who I have known for close to a year now.  He hugs me fiercely whenever he sees me and he talks to me like I am a trusted friend, which is the highest compliment I can think of, really.  He is kind and funny and full of life.

My heart broke for B when he said that.  

I wanted to redirect him, make him see how wonderful he is, make him change his mind and be happy and accepting of who he is.  But I stopped myself.  What B needed was someone to validate him, tell him it was okay to feel that way.  What B did not need was someone like me--someone who really has no clue what life is like for those with autism, despite watching my son live with it for the last 8 years--telling him how he should feel.


I don't know what it is like to live with autism or Asperger's.  I don't have either; I suppose I would be considered neurotypical. I have learned about autism from my precious 8 year old son, Danny, who is everything to me. Everything.  I adore this son of mine, along with my two younger children, and I see how he struggles.  I see how difficult life can be for him.  And I can understand how much it must sometimes hurt to have these struggles.

When I came across this post about the Autism Positivity Flash Blog, it really struck a nerve.  Apparently, a while back, a blogger noticed that someone discovered his/her blog after googling "I wish I didn't have Asperger's."  The point of this flash mob is to flood the internet with positive posts directed towards anyone out there who might be struggling and wishing he/she didn't have autism.  Bloggers were asked to post a message to this person so that if anyone ever googles that term again, he/she will find post after post full of supportive, loving messages.  I love this idea, because I could see my friend B googling such a term, and I want to know that there are positive messages waiting for him, if the time ever comes.

My message to you is this:
I'm sorry life is so difficult for you.  I am so sorry you have to struggle and that you perhaps feel alone or hopeless.  I know it can't be easy.  As I watch my son and the other amazing kids in LEGO Club, I see people who are so strong, so resilient and so full of life.  I know that life is not easy for them.  They tell me all the time about getting made fun of at school or struggling to make friends.  Danny talks about how he tries his best, but it never seems to be enough for him to really succeed.  He tells me that making friends at school is next to impossible.

But what he and my LEGO kids don't see is that they are so unique and fun and terrific--funny, smart, insightful, straightforward and staunchly loyal people who I respect and admire so much.  I wish I could make my kids see how terrific they are.  I also wish I could take some of the pain away and make life easier for them, but I can't, just as I cannot take away your pain.

The one thing I can tell you, though, is that you are NOT alone.  There are people all over the internet, bloggers, people in chat rooms, friends on Facebook, who care.  They care and so do I.

So, please, reach out to someone.  Find someone you can talk to, someone who will listen.  And please, please remember: you are NOT alone.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

My own personal Ryan Gosling


I think it's time I finally come clean about this Ryan Gosling meme stuff.  Most of the time, I cannot come up with anything at all to put on these posters.  I totally blank as soon as I see the picture Sunday has chosen, and I spend more time wiping the drool off my chin than actually composing a poster.  

So, many times, it is my husband who has provided the idea for my post. 

This week, Bil came through again.  And this is what he told me to post:




And this is his explanation:  "This is me (bil) singing it to you (Patty) through Ryan, who is my puppet, a slave to the music in my mind."

Why, no, we were not drinking tonight.  Why do you ask?


Here's another one for Danny--he adamantly refused to attend his second grade program last week.  These things always freak me him out and I didn't think it was worth it this year to submit Danny to levels of sensory stimulation and stress that most grownups couldn't handle.  So, here's what Ryan did.  Isn't he sweet?






For more Ryan memes, check out Sunday's Extreme Parenthood. Click below.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Ardunio Cookbook

(The book no enlightened parent, artist, school teacher, or engineer should be without…)
Guest post by Bil

The Arduino Cookbook

The moment I added 'Engineer' to my list of things to become

My parents had a pretty small selection of babysitters to choose from, and I remember the one and only night they called on the teenager next door, Todd, to watch us.  I always looked up to Todd, he was tall, played basketball and football, and had a drum set with sticks and brushes in his basement.  Sometimes I would go next door to watch him through the window as he played fills and did really intricate solos. The night Todd came to watch me and my younger sister, he brought over a riveting set of toys that kept us entertained for hours.
3V DC Motor
They were small DC Servo Motors that could run off of a 3V battery.  First, Todd showed us how to tape the wires to the motor leads and make the run, then he could pull one lead off and the motors would stop.  Now the fun began-- in an awesome variation of the Spirograph, Todd taped color markers to the motor shaft, and Betsy and I would hold on to the motor and battery, holding the spinning markers to paper and let them do their thing.  I felt like a wizard.  This experience solidified in my mind Todd's coolness; there seemed to be nothing he couldn’t do.  .

20 Years Later:  My University Senior Project

Flash forward almost 20 years:  I’m working on my senior project at DeVry University, with my friend Richard Frychel.  The most common senior project at the campus time was creating a Door Alarm Security system.   I had already worked for three years as a Door Alarm Security technician, so this was pedestrian stuff.  Richard and I were going for the *gold*, we decided we were going to make a Digital Music Synthesizer.  The biggest challenge, we discovered, wasn’t in designing it, but actually being able to afford all of the components that would go into it.  We had a couple of microcontrollers on hand, but none of them was powerful enough to handle everything we wanted, and a basic STAMP controller that *could* do what we wanted cost at least $100 each.  There were tech suppliers that were willing to give us samples of microchips for prototyping, but no one was crazy or dumb enough to offer us samples of valuable microcontrollers.  By virtue of cost alone, we were forced to abandon tried-and-true ways of developing our synthesizer, and kill off most of our senior year’s free time inventing ways to develop the design more cheaply.  We pulled it off, but I can’t help wondering how much more we would have been able to accomplish in our project if we didn’t have to reinvent the wheel.

A group of students in Italy start a technological, cultural revolution

Two years later in 2005, these same economic challenges would lead a group of students to develop their own microcontroller, the Arduino, (whose flagship product, the Uno, sells for under $30).   Six years and 300,000 units sold later, it was apparent that they didn’t just make a good product, their idea started its own open-source hardware revolution, complete with its own introductory comic book.


There are dozens of websites dedicated to publishing open-source code and designs for a wide variety of fun-to-incredibly helpful devices (A Wi-Fi Video Camera, Wi-Fi Speakers, a Washing Machine Instant Messenger , a Laser Clock, a 3-D Printer, an Air Quality Meter , a Pet Water Dispenser, or even a Polygraph Machine) all using the Arduino board as the main building block.  



Michael Margolis’ book is exactly like a cookbook for people who know what they want technology to do for them, but don’t know how to do it (yet).  In 2003, my senior year of college, I wouldn't have believed that something so novel could actually exist—a book that explains in the plainest English how to read measurements from sensors, then do something with those readings, take control over a computer over a USB port, send audio or video data wirelessly, host live web data over the internet, and yes, even create a music synthesizer.  Its approach is direct and compact, like this:  “Problem statement: How to Detect Movement, Solution: [Brief explanation prefacing code and electronic circuit], [Code], [Circuit Diagram], See also: [References].”

If you are already good at assembling electronics, you will love how this book provides all of the code necessary to get your hardware up and running quickly.  If you are already good at programming, you will love how this book gives you the most pertinent information: what external sensors you need, how to wire it together, and what to be mindful of during set up.  Since all of the electrical connections to the controller can be made quickly in a 'breadboard', you won’t be wasting hours sniffing solder fumes, and you can assemble and troubleshoot problems more easily. 

If you have no experience with either assembling electronics or programming, then I would suggest that the Arduino is one of the most accessible learning tools you could have to familiarize yourself with crafting new technology.  The Ardunio Cookbook isn’t intended to teach people the nuts and bolts of electronics any more than a cookbook is intended to teach you the molecular chemistry behind food ingredient interaction… they are both all about working with the knowledge you have to produce results quickly.  But I need to point out that this book isn’t just limited to the information within its pages; recipes also include a helpful section called “See Also” which provides links to online resources and videos that are intended for more in-depth learning and gleaning deeper explanations of concepts and design patterns.  Margolis’ book is like a gateway to a larger, living body of knowledge—it gives you an idea of what is possible, teaches you how to do it, and gives you ways to learn more about it.

We may never use the word “Arduino” like a verb the same way we use the word “Google” but it’s not hard to picture an explosion of technical competence among youth and adults, from the application of knowledge contained within this book.  

Monday, April 23, 2012

Outrage for Akian

This post has been copied with permission from Yeah.Good Times.  Please read it and consider signing the petition.  This is such a terribly disturbing trend and is an important issue which needs to change.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~




Note: Feel free to reprint this post anywhere you like, just please include the links to the sites I have at the bottom. I don't need to be credited for it, but Stuart does.

I know I said I was tired of talking about autism, but this is something I just can't stay quiet about.

I've spent a lot of time here talking about how one of the most frustrating things about autism, for me, is that when Child 1 is upset, he has so much trouble telling me why, that oftentimes I just won't ever know. When he comes home from school upset, which luckily doesn't happen often, I will do anything and everything to try to find out why.

Can you imagine if your sweet and happy autistic child started getting aggressive at school for no reason, how much you would try to find out why? Do you know the lengths you would go to for your child? I would do whatever it took, I can tell you that. Whatever it took.

I saw a video today, posted on reddit. It was of a father whose sweet and happy autistic child, exactly Child 1's age, suddenly started getting aggressive and violent at school and he had no idea why. They had IEP meetings, they met with a Behaviorist, he worked the system just like he was "supposed to," for 6 months. But when he got nowhere, he played a hunch, put a wire on his kid and sent him to school to record what happened there.

It turned out that his son, Akian, was being verbally abused by his teacher and aide in his classroom. I'm posting the video below, but I have to warn you that it is VERY upsetting. I had a hard time getting through it all, but I will sum it up for you.

It's mostly Akian's dad, Stuart, describing what happened, and you also hear some of the recording of the horrible things those people say to him.

They called him a bastard. These adults, whose job was to protect and help and teach children...they laughed at him, made fun of him and called him a bastard.  I'm horrified by this.

Stuart turned his recording over to the school district, and also the media. An aide was fired but the teacher was not. The school district has said that it has handled the matter appropriately and apparently they think the matter is closed.

Stuart doesn't think the matter is closed. In the video he says directly to the adults involved: "I want a public apology for what you did to my son. I want your full name out. I want you to come forward. I want you to take responsibility for what you do and then I want you to resign.... Not for me, but so one day I can play this video back for my son and say, 'Akian, you didn't deserve anything that happened to you. These people are at fault.' I'm not looking to sue anybody. I'm not going to file a lawsuit. It's not about money. It's about dignity. This is to reclaim my son's dignity. You owe it to him."

Let's help him get the word out. Below the video I'm posting some links where you can get more information







No More Teacher/Bullies A webpage set up to explain the video and the situation
No More Teacher/Bullies on Facebook
Stuart's email address

I'm turning off commenting for this post, because this isn't about me. Also, I want to be clear, and Stuart was clear in the interview that he did for his local Fox affiliate, that this isn't about the 99% of teachers who are great at what they do, this is about the 1% that aren't, and I don't want this to turn into a discussion about education reform and teacher unions or any of that bullshit. If you want to comment on the video, get more information or give Stuart your support, please go to the Facebook page and do it there.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Anatomy of a field trip

2 and a half weeks ago:
Received letter from school informing me that Danny's class was going on a field trip. The plan was to take a school bus to a town about 1.5 hours away so the kids could play at a children's museum. Then, after lunch, they would ride the bus to a theater to watch a children's version of "The Wizard of Oz."

Danny enthusiastically told me that yes, he did want to attend the field trip.  We counted down the weeks on the calendar so he could visualize when the trip was taking place, and I made a mental note to watch for the letter requesting volunteer chaperones.  I definitely wanted to accompany him on this trip.  He had never been to a play before, and I worried it would be too over stimulating. If I were there, I could mitigate the sensory overload.

1 week ago:
Still no sign of volunteer chaperone request.  I decided to call the teacher to inquire.  Before calling, though, I had the impulse to talk with Danny.  I asked him what he thought about the field trip and he answered excitedly that he couldn't wait for it.  We talked a bit about what a play is like and then I told him that I wasn't sure if I'd be able to attend.  I asked him, "Danny, would you still want to go on the trip if I couldn't go?"

He flipped a page in his new LEGO catalog, paused and said, "Yes, I want to go!"

Then, I asked him, "Do you want me to go with you, or do you want to go alone?"

Danny answered, "No, mom, I don't want you to go with me."

I had to beat down my inner overprotective, crazy mom persona with a stick, but finally I answered, "Okay, I won't go," I said.

3 days ago:
We talked a bit more about the field trip, in passing.  As he has been having a very stressful week, I decided to broach the subject again.  I told him that if he felt like he needed a break, he could stay home with me and skip the field trip.

No dice.  "Mom, I want to go on the field trip!"

Yesterday:
As soon as Danny got in the van after school, he informed me that he needed to wear red to the field trip.
I was flabbergasted.  He almost NEVER passes on information from school.  I never know when Hawaiian Day or Mixed Up Sock Day is unless the teacher sends a note home.

After therapy, Danny typically flings his shoes, socks, and clothes all over the house as he climbs into his comfy pjs and goes off to play.  This day is different:  Danny immediately runs to his room and looks for a red shirt.  He lays it out on the kitchen counter in preparation for the next day.  Then, he tells me he wants to pack his lunch for the next day.

This has never happened before.  Ever.

With great care, Danny selects his chips, juice box and helps me make a peanut butter sandwich.  Yeah, a peanut butter sandwich--the first sandwich he has eaten all year.  That's how cooperative he's being.

When I tell him he can't wear his beloved Crocs on the field trip, he gamely answers, "Okay" and retrieves his gym shoes (the shoes that he normally refuses to wear) and places them carefully by the kitchen door.

Later that night:
I toss and turn, worrying about all the things that could go wrong on the field trip.  Would he get lost?  Would the play overwhelm or scare him?  Would anyone sit with him on the bus?   Holy crap, I forgot to review his phone number with him.  What if he wanders to the bathroom while everyone is loading the bus and they leave him there?  Would he even know what to do if that happened?

This morning:
I silently pray and pray and pray that everything will be okay.

I make sure Danny's lunch is in his book bag, and I give him a substantial breakfast.  I think to retrieve an index card and write the following on it:  "My name is Danny.  I have autism.  This is my phone number:  555-1123."   I hope that no one will use this information to hurt him.

I put the card in Danny's pocket after explaining to him what it's for, that he should give it to an adult if he gets lost.

Then, after explaining again what the play will be like, I impulsively pull out half a pack of gum.  I give it to him to put in his pocket and make sure to instruct him to save some for the play, as it might get noisy.  I also tell him not to play with it or show it to the other kids.

I drop Danny off at school with an extra big hug and kiss, telling him to have a fantastic time.

Later today:
I spend a lot of time praying.  Begging God not just to keep him safe and help him listen to directions, but I ask God to let my son have a total blast on his trip.  After all the stress this year has brought to him, he deserves to have one terrific day that delights him.  I tell God in no uncertain terms that He owes that much to Danny.

Then, I feel slightly guilty for telling God how to do His job, but not guilty enough to take back my words.  I really do mean it, and I think God understands.

I try not to worry as I watch the clock to determine where he is at this moment.  Did the noise on the bus bother Danny?  He should be at the museum now--he's been there a couple times before, so I'm pretty sure he'll have fun.

What I'm most worried about is that play.  A musical?  Really?  Why did they have to choose a flashy, noisy, sometimes scary musical?

I spend too much time on Facebook to distract myself from the thought of Danny and his trip.

3:15 this afternoon
I pick Danny up from school with my stomach in knots, wondering how Danny will be.  Will he be totally crabby and overstimulated?  Will he be upset and have a stress headache as he's been doing in recent weeks?

Dan gets in the car and I ask, "How was the field trip, Danny?"

"Pretty good.  Hey, Charlotte, wanna play Angry Birds when we get home?" Danny responds.

Dinnertime
Danny finally reveals information about the trip.  Here's his review:  "The museum was a lot of fun, but the bus ride was waaaaaay too long. Mom, we were in the bus FOREVER and it was very, very noisy!"

"What about the play?" I ask.

"I didn't like it.  People SANG, mom.  I thought it was going to be like a movie.  I had fun playing at the museum, though."

Bedtime
I realize--not for the first time- that I am a crazy, slightly obsessive lunatic when it comes to Danny.  I resolve to work on that.  Later.

I take a deep breath, the most relaxed I've been all week, and thank God the day is over.  Danny had a good time.  And that's all that counts.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Bittersweet

The other night, I had an unusually long conversation with my son, Danny who has autism.  In all his 8 years, we have rarely had a lengthy talk, which has been a source of grief for me.  I have always wondered what he is feeling and thinking;  I want to understand where he is coming from so I can help him and so I can know him better.

When Danny was a toddler, he didn't speak.  In fact, that was my first clue that something was different about him.  Sure, he babbled, but at 2, he still hadn't uttered a single word.  When he did expand his vocabulary, every word was a hard-earned achievement.  We practiced and modeled speech for Danny hours every single day.  I dreamed about the day that my son would be able to communicate with me.



To read more, head over to Hopeful Parents, where I am now a regular contributor, which is very exciting to me!  

Friday, April 13, 2012

Running away from home....

Probably for the first time since I was a teacher, I am counting down the days until summer vacation.  I need to be done with this school year.  Danny needs to be done with this school year.    Honestly, if we have another homework battle like the ones we have been experiencing these last few days, someone is going to get hurt.  

And getting the kids up in the morning and dressed and fed and ready to meet the world is getting so old.  Each day, they drag just a bit more slowly.  Each day, we're a couple minutes later.  It's going to get to the point that I don't get the kids to school until lunchtime if something doesn't change soon.

This is why I have a fantasy of starting a special school where teachers actually know how to help kids like Danny.  Where they don't stress him out every single day because they talk too much and use none of the visual aids I keep telling them about.  This is also why my other fantasy is to just run away from it all.  

Instead, I'm escaping via Special Needs Ryan Gosling again this week.  I can't seem to stay away from the man.  Really, can you blame me?








Check out the hilarious Sunday Stillwell and her awesome blog for more Ryan!  The other bloggers who contribute are brilliant, too!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

When I grow up....

Yesterday, as we made up some homemade bread, Danny declared to me that he wants to be a baker when he grows up.  Well, a baker AND a race car driver, but I already knew about the racer.  He's been talking about that for weeks since he took out a book on stock cars from the library.

Not to be left out, Charlotte said, "I want to be a baker, too!"

Then, she made the following list of some of the things she wants to be when she grows up:

Teacher
Mom
Actor (because apparently, according to Char, actors stand on their heads, which I admit, would be rather cool!)
Baker
Chef
Trash truck driver
Doctor
Triscuit/Candy/Mini-Wheat seller

and the best one?

Toy Owner

Hmmm...I wonder if that would fall under the Recreation Management major in college...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Why I could never be a CIA operative



Late one hot July afternoon in 2003, I started having contractions.  Knowing I had plenty of time before "real" labor set in, I tried to relax and take a nap, while Bil watched Lord of The Rings on DVD all night. When my contractions finally got more regular, we headed to the hospital, full of equal parts fear and excitement.

While pregnant with Danny, I prepared in every way I could think of. I took childbirth classes, hoping that I could do this whole labor and delivery thing "right."

My Bradley Method instructor was very personable and inspiring.  She convinced me I could survive anything, even the pain that is birthing a child.  I didn't totally dismiss the idea of getting an epidural, but I wanted to do this naturally, if at all possible.

18 excruciating hours later, I would have taken meth, crack, and heroin all rolled up into one wonderful oblivion-inducing cocktail if the nurse would have offered.

With no end in sight, I began to panic.  I wasn't progressing and I was exhausted.  And really?  I was totally done with being in pain.  I didn't care about all the reasons my crazy Bradley teacher discouraged the use of drugs during labor.  The possibility of paralysis from a botched epidural?  At least if I were paralyzed I wouldn't feel this agonizing, soul-crushing, insanity-inducing pain.

So, I demanded drugs.  Powerful drugs.

No more sitting in a bathtub pretending that the water reduced the pain.  No more changing positions and breathing and praying.

I wanted it to end.

Now.

Normally, I am a very polite and civil person, especially to strangers.  I recently thanked my dentist after he shot me up with several syringes full of novocaine in preparation for a crown.  I say "sorry" when someone else is in my way at Walmart and will not move.  You could say I'm almost pathologically polite.

Even at the height of my labor pain, I excused myself when I passed gas.  I apologized when I bumped into my sister.  After demanding an epidural, however, something happened to me.  I suddenly morphed into this crazed woman whose only thoughts revolved around getting drugs. STAT!

They informed me that Dr. Albequrque, the anesthesiologist, would be there in about 20 minutes.

Three minutes later I was asking everyone where the hell the doctor was.  "Where is he?  Doesn't he know what kind of pain I am in?  Is he really coming?  I need him NOW! What if he forgets to come? I think I'm dying!"

When Dr. A, a diminutive, quiet, Indian gentleman  finally showed up, I proclaimed my undying love to him.
Without blinking, he told me to sit on the edge of the bed and hold onto my husband so that I could steady myself.  "Whatever you do, do not move," Dr. A commanded me.

You know, so he wouldn't paralyze me or anything.

At that point, even the idea of becoming a quadriplegic or enduring lifelong migraines didn't dampen my craving for pain relief.

I held as still as I could and leaned into Bil, willing the medicine to start working and bring me some blessed, wonderful, beautiful relief.

Dr.  A poked around and instead of comfort, I felt a sharp pain.  I jumped and gasped loudly.

The doctor asked, "Where did that hurt?"

Forgetting that the man I was speaking to held my life and sanity in his hands, I snapped in exasperation , "It hurt where you stabbed me with that thing!!!!  Where do you think it hurt?!?!?!"

My undying love and devotion was dampening a bit.

More poking and prodding with the needle ensued and I was sure it had been an hour since Dr. A had begun.  When was the pain going to end?  When? When?  I couldn't take much more.  I was closer to the breaking point than I had ever been

And this is when I felt Bil's grasp on me loosening.  He abruptly handed me over to a nurse and then promptly collapsed to the floor in a puddle of unconsciousness.

Bil had fainted.

After over 30 hours with no sleep, very little to eat, and few breaks, Bil had passed out.

I don't think the sight of the needle helped any, either.

The nurse rushed to his side and Dr. A stopped poking around in my back.  All of a sudden, everyone's attention turned to Bil.

Well, everyone's but mine, that is.

As all the medical professionals fawned over my unconscious, prostrate husband, I felt my grip on sanity slipping.  Sure, Bil was passed out, on the floor; he could have easily hit his head on the sharp end of the armoire in the corner.  For a brief moment, I just didn't care.

I yelled, "He's FINE!!!!! Finish my epidural, NOW!  Please, please, please, please!"

Bil was still on the floor, possibly concussed. I had no idea if he was okay, but it didn't matter.  All that mattered was getting some pain relief.  I distinctly remember thinking, "I'll deal with Bil later.  As soon as I get my epidural, I'll worry about Bil."

This is when I realized I could never work for the FBI or the CIA.  I could never go on covert spy operations, because I would so completely break under the pressure.

All those torture sessions you see on spy movies?  Yeah, I would break in no time flat.  I would give up all the secrets of the free world just to end the pain.

Just so you know, Bil was fine.  Sheepish, a bit embarrassed, but totally fine.  And he learned his lesson.  With my two subsequent deliveries, Bil knew better than to stay up all night watching Lord of the Rings.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For more posts on birthing, check out the Spin Cycle over at Second Blooming.



Second Blooming

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Autism Acceptance and Heaven


Two and a half years ago, when Danny was diagnosed with autism, I had many insightful friends who warned me that I would most likely experience the 5 stages of the grieving process.  They told me my anger was normal and might last a while.  That, I could believe.

They also informed me that eventually I would move to the acceptance phase.

This, I wasn't buying.  I was pretty sure I'd be pissed off for the rest of my life.  After all, it was so unfair to Danny that he was saddled with this difficult trial.  I couldn't seem to let go of the resentment and feeling of utter injustice.

Well, lately, I've been seeing it in an entirely different light.  And a conversation I had with my husband made me realize I'm no longer angry.

For whatever reason, Bil and I were discussing Heaven. One of the teachings of my church is that when we die, we will all be resurrected with a perfect, whole body.  No more diabetes or heart problems or acne (at least I'm hoping!  Of course, I'm also hoping this means I will finally have the body of a size 2 model, but that seems doubtful).  As we discussed this doctrine, Danny's autism came up. Bil said he assumed this meant Danny would no longer be autistic in Heaven.

Surprisingly, I disagreed.  Bil mentioned all the difficulties Dan has because of his autism. And this is when I realized that just about every single difficulty that my son experiences comes from society and the way people treat each other, not because of the autism itself.  He gets frustrated because of all the sensory overload he's exposed to on a regular basis

I imagine that in Heaven (or in the ideal world), there will be no sensory over stimulation--no bright lights and loud noises, no foul smells or circuses, no scary Easter Bunnies expecting you to sit on his lap for pictures, and no teachers repeatedly nagging and hounding him  giving oral instructions when I've told them to use visual aids a million times. I mean, really how hard can it be to use a couple visual aids to help a kid who is seriously overwhelmed?  What is the problem, people?

Ahem.

And I imagine in Heaven, people will love each other and accept each other unconditionally, so I assume Danny will have loads and loads of friends, because we'll all be so much smarter there.  We'll see each other the way God sees us, which means people will clearly see my son's awesomeness and will be drawn to his terrific sense of humor and sense of adventure.  Also, they will probably come to him for computer help, because he rocks the computer, and Heaven will definitely have computers and blogs and Twinkies, I don't care who says we won't need food.  How could it be Heaven with no chocolate?  Tell me that.

I digress.

This conversation was actually very eye-opening for me.  Years ago, I was the one who was desperate for a cure for Danny.  I was the one who was railing against God for giving him these "problems."  I was so very, very angry about it all.

And now?  Now, I'm beginning to see it's not really autism that is the enemy.  It's ignorance and intolerance, it's people who will not listen to Danny and see what his real needs are.  It's people who look down on any person who happens to be different.  That's why I am done advocating for Autism Awareness.  Instead, I want to work towards a world that is not just aware of autism, but accepting.

Because Danny?  Well, I would say he's perfect just the way he is.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Note:  I have seen many of the blog posts out there that are raising controversial topics.  I just want you to know I am in no way judging how you feel about autism.  I have been angry.  I have been known to say "I hate autism."  I only wrote this post because I'm so relieved and surprised to feel the way I do.  But this doesn't mean I think it's all roses and candy and unicorns.  I know having a kid with autism (or even having it yourself) can be heartbreaking and difficult.

This post only reflects how I am feeling right now, not how I think everyone should feel.