It’s OK to be Offended

It’s funny how much our culture is influenced by the young. It’s probably our obsession with youth and inability to age gracefully, but whatever the youngsters are into is what you’ll see on TV, in the stores, and in the comment section of anything you read.

Have you seen the term “butthurt”? Yeah, me too. I hate that term. It’s part of this prevailing attitude (thank you, hipsters) that if you get upset or heaven forbid, offended, you are part of the problem. “Everyone is so sensitive these days”. “Everyone has to be so politically correct”. “If you don’t like it, just keep scrolling,” they say.

Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s ok to be offended. It’s ok to be upset when someone says something mean or crass, or that is derogatory to someone else. It means you have a strong sense of values, and that you are brave enough to speak up either for yourself or for others who are not able to stand up for themselves.

Do you need to fight every battle? No. That would get overwhelming. As the great Mama Fry from Autism with a Side of Fries says in her latest post, “I’d rather on doing something else than having the same exact fight again and again.” She is referring to a troll who is continually poking the bear to get a rise out of the autism community, and I wholeheartedly agree with her. There are times when people do this crap for attention, and because they think it’s funny to see a bunch of people to get pissed off. This world clearly needs more therapy.

But don’t be bullied into thinking that you shouldn’t give your opinion, especially when people are being mean or derogatory. Don’t be mocked for reacting negatively to bad stuff. We need to stand up to that or it becomes commonplace, and we lose our values in this society. I’m not sure how it got to be so cool to not care about a damn thing or anyone’s feelings but your own, but I’m done with that attitude.

Besides, I’ve never been cool, so why start now.

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Reflection on 2015

That's me.  Just Doing it.I sat down to do a little reflection on the year, and tried  to jot down ten highlights, ten disappointments, and a few other details about the past year. It hasn’t been the best of years, so I was surprised when my list of highlights was just about done, and I was still on number four in my list of disappointments. As I reflected on this, as well as what I had written, I came up with a few things.

Perspective is an amazing thing, and unfortunately we’re often too busy with our daily lives to get any, but one thing I realized is that I need to reflect more on a regular basis. I’ve kind of fallen out of the habit of journaling, but have picked it back up again. I’ve long maintained diaries, starting when I was in elementary school, and this habit of writing to myself at the end of each day is one that I realize I have missed. Besides, writers need to write, right?

I also look back on the crises of the year and realize that time passes and the urgency of the crisis passes. In the thick of it, I am always in panic, unable to see how we can possibly get through it, but after a few months, it’s almost forgotten. I have to try to remind myself of that when the next crisis arises. This too shall pass.

Finally, even if my days are filled with tasks I would deem far from the biggest contributions to society, I can choose to still be relevant, I can choose to continue learning and creating. It’s ok to work a dead-end job, but it’s not ok to succumb to being dead-end. It takes work to create opportunities for myself to engage my intellect and creativity, but it is imperative. Otherwise, I’ll look up in twenty years and wonder where my life went.

Anyway. I hope you have an excellent and safe New Years Eve, and look to 2016 with wonder and anticipation at what might be coming next. Enjoy!

At His Dad’s

The Boy is at his dad’s after a semi-successful hand-off this past Sunday. The ex was only an hour and half late, and The Man and I only got into one argument about directions…

He seems to be happy enough, which is about all I can ask for. I will tell you that with the rocky patches we’ve had lately, I am still holding my breath. I was pretty anxious about handing him off this time, and am missing him quite a bit.

Once a year is tough. Of course the ex is already making promises about Spring Break, but we’ll cross that bridge if and when we get to it. For now, The Man and I are having a quiet week to ourselves.

I hope you are enjoying any holidays you may be celebrating, and your families most of all. All will be right again in our world in a few days.

Happiness is…

This may be it this week. I’ve been nagging myself to post, but we’ve opened the shop an hour earlier this week, and with The Boy home for vacation, my routine is so funky, I’m all messed up. So rather than stress, I thought I’d write a simple post to wish you all the happiness of the season. 

My family is my heart and my happiness, and this week in particular, they are my focus.

Love you all to bits!

My boys and the beach

Feeling in Control

One of the bits of advice that hangs on is “Fake it ’til you make it.” This bit has rung true for me. I have been able to pretend long enough to get the hang of something more times than I can count. Part of getting out of this low, scary place I’ve been has been “faking” that I am in control. In other words, planning.

I’ve done several posts on planning, and how it’s just part of my DNA. And even though I don’t have much to plan at work (besides how I’m going to spend six hours a day with no customers, which is actually enjoyable), I have found some peace.

You may remember that that I was trying to determine if I was going to order a Plum Paper Planner or another Erin Condren earlier this fall. I ended up ordering the Plum Paper Planner, and it is very stylish, and lovely, and just what I wanted at the time.

MTNAbout two weeks later, I found Midori Travelers Notebooks on Pinterest and fell in love. Had to have it, ordered one as an incentive for NaNoWriMo. It was so lovely to hold, and such a neat little niche of paper geeks that came along with it (I think I joined three different facebook groups). It was a fantastic motivator for NaNo (I won by the way!). I used it everyday, and loved how grown up and worldly it looked, as opposed to the sorority girlishness of the Erin Condren world, and I started to feel guilty toward my Plum Paper Planner.

Shortly after that, I came across the Bullet Journal again. I had dismissed it earlier because it sounded complicated. But the more I looked into it, the more creative I found it, and ironically, the more personalized. Way more personalized than Erin Condren or Plum Paper Planner could ever hope to be. Of course it was more work, but if the act of doing more work helps one find focus, remember more, and get more done, isn’t that a nifty trick?

habittrackerOn the last day of November, I started my BuJo (short for Bullet Journal), and have used it daily ever since. I was even able to take it to the meeting with the school administrators, with a page dedicated to the topics I’d like to discuss, and space on the facing page to take notes during the meeting. It is much more than a planner, containing “collections”, quotes, and goals. The community I have found (again on facebook and even instagram) has helped me plan, design my own setup, track habits I’d like to form, and figure out 100 life goals I’d like to achieve in the next ten years.

If it sounds hippy dippy, it’s really not. You can put into what you want, and take from it what you want. Goal setting was not something I had done in a long time, and what is better to do at your lowest point than set some goals and plan some ways to climb out of it?

If you are at all interested, you should check out this from the guy who came up with the system – Ryder, and this from one of the ladies who has made it fun – Kara Benz at BohoBerry (it’s actually the second in her series, but I find it more informative than the first). If not, that’s ok too. I just wanted to share what has helped me turn a corner.

And if you’re wondering about my Plum Paper Planner, I’m going to use it for blog planning and bill paying. That’s the plan, anyway ;)

A Cell Phone for The Boy

I mentioned yesterday that The Boy is very interested in getting a cell phone. The Man is convinced he will lose it, but I’m just relieved that he doesn’t want an iPhone. In fact, he isn’t interested in a smart phone. I still have to sit down with him and figure out what exactly he wants it for. I believe it’s mostly for the alarm clock capabilities, believe it or not.

The Man and I have discussed this before, and the difficulty here is limiting the use.  I’m sure that’s not news to anyone else with a kid between the ages of 8 and 21, but remember, I did the iPad all wrong. He doesn’t get that there isn’t unlimited storage. He doesn’t get “the cloud,” and how you have to move or remove images and video in order to make more. He doesn’t get it. Or maybe he does, but just doesn’t want to. He laments that Steve Jobs died too young, before he could figure out how to give people unlimited storage. I kid you not.

So I want to be careful here. Tread softly. Get all of my information from my service provider about the best way to go about this. Pre-paid or not? What limits can I put on the account? Insurance? Can we use this old cell phone I just found in a box from twelve years ago (please, please, please)?…

We shall see how this plays out. Anyone with autism in their lives knows there’s more to consider. “I want Sonic on the back,” is a very real concern. Do they make cases or covers for this model, and if they do, is there a Sonic the Hedgehog version available? If not, we may have to consider a different phone…

Help me.

Is It Time to Let Go of Santa?

I’m sure I’ve mentioned that The Boy turns 14 this week.  Still not quite sure how that is freakin’ possible, but apparently it’s true. And while he is asking for things like cell phones for his birthday and Christmas, he is still asking Santa.

This past weekend, we went to a Christmas Supper hosted by our local chapter of the Autism Society of America. It was pretty chaotic, and I’m not sure I could do that more than once a year, but a highlight of the evening for the kids was that there was a very real-looking Santa there to whom they could speak and with whom they could get pictures. He also handed out gifts to all of the kiddos.

Mr_Santa_Claus_(HS85-10-30308)When The Boy went up to retrieve his, he brought along his list (on his iPad) and proceeded to tell Santa about all of the other things he wanted in addition to the gift he was getting, and for which he was being prompted to say thank you. Very Real-Looking Santa didn’t look all that patient or impressed, which was cringe-inducing. And I started to think that maybe it’s time. Maybe it’s time to find a way to explain to The Boy that this little piece of fantasy isn’t quite true.

The reality is, he will be in high school next year, and he is already different enough. We have to fight for so much here, and even though he is accepted by his peers, it continues to be more like “tolerated” than “invited over to do fun things.” And while I want him to be comfortable in his own skin, I don’t want him to be sheltered just because he can. Because then, in some way, I’m using the autism to keep him little. He’s innocent enough on his own, I think, which is a whole ‘nother set of worries.

I’ll add it to the list of things we need to work on/approach after the holidays…

“He Needs to Learn the Boundaries”

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is traditionally a half day. If you’ve had a school-aged child in the past fifteen years, you also know that many, many families forgo these wasted school days to add an extra day of vacation. What happens to our family is panic.

When other children miss school, The Boy can become inconsolable. And so it came to pass last Wednesday. He paced furiously, escaping the school at one point, sweeping things from surfaces in the office to the floor, “bumping” a counselor who he felt was in the way. He was allowed to call me, but my voice was not enough this time. He said he needed me to come pick him up. I told him it was a short day and to try to stick it out.

A wary-sounding counselor got back on the phone. I told her I had asked him to try to stick it out, and told her she could call me back if she needed to. Not ten minutes had gone by when she called and told me that there were “parents in the office who needed to get some things done” so I would need to come pick him up.

Wha…?

Ok. So I go to pick him up, and the principal asks me to “come on back” to her office. I was fairly unwilling. I do not need to be summoned into your office as if I’m some misbehaving child. I told her I didn’t have a lot of time, and followed her in. She said The Boy was upset because one of his friends was absent, and that he had even given his TA the finger. I almost laughed. I wanted to say, “So he’s communicating his anger in a pretty normal way? Awesome!” but I refrained. I just stopped talking, waiting for The Boy to be located and/or corralled back to the office. No one seemed to know what was really going on.

The Boy came back into the office, with his TA, and the principal immediately began speaking to him in that tone, telling him they would be discussing his behavior on Monday, and that he needed to apologize to his TA right now for giving her the finger. As is his wont, he immediately tried to tell me that he had “done something” to The Man this morning and needed to apologize for that, too. This was untrue, but this is what he does. When he perceives he is in trouble, he adds on imaginary infractions. I ensured he gave the TA a proper apology (or as close as we could get mid-meltdown), and then he announced he was going to stick it out for the rest of the day. Off they went.

The counselor and the principal informed me that we needed to meet regarding his behavior. (No, I’m thinking, we need to meet regarding your behavior.) I said we needed to be clear that this was autism, and this was going to happen from time to time. “He needs to learn the boundaries, here, that he can’t just leave the school!” the counselor said. I replied that The Boy is your best rule follower, but when one is in a meltdown, logic goes out the window. He is fully aware of the boundaries, but this would happen again. I said we need to be clear that this is not bad behavior. The principal assured me that she did. I said we needed to be clear that The Boy has a right to a public education. The principal assured me that they knew he did. I said we need the autism specialist at the meeting we were to have, and referred to her by first name. The principal had no idea who I was talking about, until I prompted her. She said she could make sure she was there. She said they need to tweak their strategies, as The Boy is getting older. I said ok, but this would happen again.

I was pretty riled. Their attitude, the tone they took with The Boy, the astonishment that he had “bumped” the counselor (yes, this happens all the time in special ed classrooms – is he the only child they have in the school with autism??)…

Strategies do need to be put in place because absolutely nothing has been done since the last time I was summoned to the principal’s office (do you think maybe a behavioral analysis might be a good idea??). After three years here, I am actually still shocked at the lack of autism awareness among the educators. I guess I need to pull out my lesson plans for Autism 101. “Class? Let’s begin. Rule number one: Behavior is Communication…”

Update: We had our meeting, and luckily the autism specialist was right on target (I basically ignored the principal and counselor, who weren’t contributing much anyway). We drafted a “crisis” plan, as well as a social story, and will meet again to formalize the plan and add it to the IEP. Unfortunately for the them, between absences surrounding the Thanksgiving weekend, and some suspicious activity at a couple of county schools (which turned out to be military personnel conducting a survey) and everyone keeping their kid home today, thinking this was somehow connected to the terror in San Bernadino yesterday… I’m anticipating the second morning phone call this week…

The Boy’s having a rough go right now, and I just hope they can pull this together.