Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Poor Earth and Poor Us

I've been thinking lately about how toxic our earth has become. In Jenny McCarthy's book, Mother Warriors, she quotes this story about how back in the day miners used to take canaries with them into the mines. The birds were far more sensitive to toxins in the air, and so when a canary kicked the bucket, the miners quickly got out of the mine. Her conclusion is that occurrences of autism should be a 'toxin indicator' for us. If you are like me and believe that autism is often triggered by toxins in genetically prone people who reach their "toxin tip" earlier than most of us, this all makes sense. (I was persuaded to believe in this theory by Dr. Bryan Jepson in his book, Changing the Course of Autism.) For example, when I was a junior in high school, I did a pretty big report on autism for biology. (Well, ok, so it was big for high school.) My sources then said that autism occurs in 1 of every 300 children. Now if you follow studies of any kind, you know that most sources nowdays state something around 1 in 100. Granted, my sources in high school may have been dated at that time, but the change in occurrences is still phenomenal. I did not graduate from high school all that long ago!


So in view of these facts, I was going to write a blog about how frustrated I was when I looked at my kitchen garbage container one day to see what is pictured above. Yeah, a garbage can full of recyclable items. I was alittle shocked to realize that it was mine! For awhile there I could not find a recycling drop off site in this new city I have moved to. I tried the phone book and looking it up online. I was getting pretty frustrated and was wondering where the local pro-earth friendly groups were. Then I discovered www.earth911.com. I recommend it! I now will be doing some of my shopping at a grocery store that isn't that convenient, but they take recycling, and I support that.
Not that I think that just recycling is going to solve our problem, but it is a small step that many of us can take, and I hope to discuss many more earth friendly ideas here in the future. Just think of the things that would happen if everyone made earth friendly tactics more of a habit.

Monday, March 23, 2009


Before the month ends, I had to mention that my baby boy turned 4 on March 9th! Where has the time gone? This is him wearing the crown that the preschool gave him when he went to school on his birthday. They really try to make it a big deal. He got to pass out little gifts to his classmates, he got to blow out a candle, and he came home with a matchbox car in his backpack.


He was so happy with his presents. His Aunt and Uncle brought him a Tobey, which he calls "coo-key." Mom and Dad got him a Duck and a large wooden track set to match the small one he has already. Now he can easily extend his track across his bedroom, and he does. He prompted me to take this picture of his trains on the track set after I took the one of him in his school crown.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Fever Talk

Why is it that children with autism become more talkative when they have a low grade fever? My son has a chest cold. Last night I checked in on him, and he was quite warm, partially because of conditions and partially because of a low fever. I was taking his temperature, holding the thermometer under his arm pit. He started fussing and saying, "Mom, mom, mom, mom, mom!" Now that may not be so weird for a typical four year old who is feverish and half asleep, but two days ago I could not get him to say mom. I was daddy all day. I kept reminding him that I was mom. He would not say it. Granted, yesterday was better. I got called mom afew times, and he even pointed to a picture of me and said "mom." But to repeatedly say mom practically in his sleep was something else.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Chocolate Effect: A Story For Autism Siblings

This story is my own material. Although it is fictional, (and admittedly still needs work,) it is based on my own experiences. I am NOT an author by any means, I just wanted to try doing something for young autism siblings out there. They need to know that they are not alone.

We autism siblings learn the value of true friendship young. We have experiences of both frustration and joy that many of our peers many not understand for many years. But most of all, we know how to love and we fight for our siblings with autism.

The Chocolate Effect

Yesterday when I saw my little brother walk out of the kitchen with an odd high pitched giggle and something brown around his mouth, I looked in the kitchen. I found a chocolate candy wrapper lying there on the floor by the cabinets. I was angry. Who left a piece of chocolate candy where he could find it? I knew then that the next day, today, was going to be a bad day.

It just happened to be clothes shopping day. We had planned to all go shopping at the Emporium. So, off we all went on an afternoon shopping trip, mom, my sister, my brother and I. It took more than one of us to keep up with my little brother. He was weaving through racks and climbing underneath them. It is hard to shop that way. I started loosing hope of getting a new shirt. Then we all smelt an especially messy, well, messy. Mom took my brother to the restroom to change him. She called to me to get more wipes. I was embarrassed, but I sensed her urgency and I ran out to the car to get more. When I got back there were some fashionable teenage shoppers in the restroom. “Eew, what is that smell?” one of them said, and they giggled as if the girl had made a good joke. I could have climbed under a rock. I gave the wipes to mom and the teenage girls left. We went home.

Later that evening my best friend Allison came over to work on biology with me. She was my lab partner and we had a write up to do. The minute she walked in my little brother was clinging on her arm, blowing in her face, and getting upset if we tried to ignore him. It was time to do the thing that we were often compelled to do in such cases. Allison and I ran into my room and locked the door behind us. This usually led to 15 minutes of my brother pounding and screaming at the door. It was always so loud that we couldn’t hear each other talk. Today it was 20 minutes of screaming and pounding. We tried to ignore it, and when he finally found something else to interest him, we could talk about how bad the day had been.

The next day when I came home from school, I walked in the door and heard a high pitched giggle. Oh no, I thought, left over chocolate effect. But the little person of my brother ran to me smiling. I could tell this day was going to be better than yesterday. He handed me a crayon and pulled me by the hand to the kitchen table that was scattered with paper. He wanted me to color with him. So I did.

When Mom later discovered us coloring at the kitchen table, she told me that she wanted to go to the grocery store for some things to make dinner. So, once again, we all went on an afternoon shopping trip. There we all were walking along at the grocery store, mom, my sister, and me, all except my little brother. He was galloping along with us, waving his arms around, and jabbering to himself and anyone walking by. Sometimes we held his hand, but he stayed with us. All except for the time he ran off to look at the lobster tank. On our way out, some older boys from my school were walking in, and they looked at my brother as if he was bothering them. I ignored those boys and their lip and eyebrow ring faces. Then, I felt sorry for them. I thought about how much they were missing. Their reaction made me think they would probably never take the time to get to know a person like my little brother.

Later that afternoon, Allison came over again. We had work to do to make up for not doing it the evening before. My little brother clung on her arm, but he was not blowing on her face today. It was a nice day outside. We went out to the backyard with our papers and got my brother up on the trampoline. He actually separated himself from us and jumped, and jumped, and jumped. Allison and I got our write up done. Allison is a true friend.

After Allison left and we went in the house for dinner, my little brother gave me a hug. I hugged him back, because I know how sincere he is. I looked down into his hazel eyes. I remembered the day when he was a baby and I told mom that he would have hazel eyes like mine. She insisted they would be blue and wouldn’t believe me until one day, they just were. I thought about the day when he was a toddler and my world fell apart alittle when I learned of autism. I thought about my joy when he eventually learned to hug me and show me that he loves me.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What's New With Us

We are doing alittle shameless self promotion here. My newest item in my etsy shop is the beginning of what will hopefully be the first of many. It is a collaborative painting between my son and I. My four year son Eli has autism, and as a result has limited speech. He draws on at least one paper everyday, and that really is an important form of expression for him. I am trained in art at a university, and I find many of his shapes and compositions just astounding.


The first time I really realized this talent of his was the time he filled a whole lined spiral notebook full of "pod" shapes. Now that notebook is my treasure and I have used it to start our collection with a little "Notebook Pod" series. This painting is "Notebook Pods #1."


My part of the process is to transfer a photocopy of his work onto a professional surface. From there I add texture and color glazes. I'm afraid that the glazes make photographing the painting very difficult. (I am willing to take suggestions.) The true colors of the piece are more fresh and bright.

I hope you enjoy viewing our work! Click on the image of "Notebook Pods #1" in the column on the left of my blog to view more pictures.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Praise for Another Book I'd Rather Not live Without

To keep a running total of my book list, the first was
Changing The Course of Autism, by Dr. Bryan Jepson.

Here is the number two book that I acquired and found very useful:

Life Tastes Good Again, by Kristi Kirkland and Betsy Thomas.

These women are actually locals to the place I was living when I found this book at my neighborhood natural food store. These women have family members with celiac disease. They not only have developed some great recipes, but they also give some practical tips on how to get started, where to try eating out, etc. Because the book is written for celiacs and not those with autism, you really do need to be on your guard for things like milk products. Many of the recipes do work well with non dairy substitutes. Rice or apple cider vinegar needs to be used when the ingredient is "vinegar." I have also substituted a smaller amount of honey for sugar in some of the recipes that are naturally sweetened with fruit with good results. My son loves the chicken nugget recipe that I changed slightly to meet his diet needs.

You can get this book or some of their recipes free here:

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Parent's Rights

Today was my son's second IEP meeting. At the meeting his teacher gave me a booklet that covers a parent's rights. She said that even though the law always holds them accountable for how they teach my son, as a parent of a special ed child, I can hold them accountable, too.
So what did I do? Well, like a child, I was alittle testy. They outlined the goals that they had for him. Attention goals, looking and following directions, and academic ones, like naming body parts. Those were good goals, and I look forward to seeing him meet those, but I felt like we were missing something. I told them I wanted social goals. I wanted him to learn to initiate interaction with other children and learn how to turn take with them. All the academic success he has will not make him successful without basic social skills.
So what did they do? They made a plan of how to make progress measurable, they put it in the computer on the new IEP, and we all signed it. Parents, stand up for your kids and educate yourselves so that truly you are the one who knows what is best, and then go and get it for your child. :)