ABCs of Life, Love, and Social Skills: Learning to love

Aisles of bookstores prove none of us ever really knows everything we cared to know about how to be human. As parent of a child with autism, my job is to show my child the ways of the world because he cannot learn them by himself. Parents of people with autism can teach them socialization. Social interaction involves risk, but the rewards can be breath-taking.

Any teenager will have romantic feelings. Part of normal teenage experience is figuring out what to do and not do about those feelings. People with autism have feelings, too. Parents often want to prevent pain, Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 1.03.06 PMbut that misses the point. Even friendship will inevitably involve pain. A broken romance is more painful. But romantic feelings will happen whether we want or not, and everyone eventually has experience personal loss.  Romantics know, romances don’t always break.

The link below is to a love story was my inspiration for this post: people with high functioning autism taught themselves how to love and be good life partners.

Autism Love Story Teaches Us How to Teach Love and Respect
Even if the link is broken, please read on. (This post is dedicated to my wise husband who died 14 years ago tomorrow.)

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If you’re not on the beach somewhere, neither am I. It’s my choice; really, I’m fine with that. Let’s start a conversation. It’s interactive media. Let’s interact!

Doctor, what’s wrong and tell me what to do…

Perfect Baby…
Our special needs son W was born 18 years ago looking perfect, with a full head of shiny black-brown hair and gold and cream colored skin. He was our first, and only. Nothing on our Little Prince seemed unusual or damaged. He was so long that he didn’t start with chubby cheeks. In the Italian baby jumpsuit a friend had given him, he looked like a slender European Formula 1 race car driver, minus helmet. He was my Little Einstein Continue reading

ABCs of Behavior: Better Health is the Foundation

Here’s something obvious: healthy children are more ready to learn. Health issues are considered to be outside of the classroom, but affeslide_368090_4214468_freect the child on every school day. So let’s state the obvious: health matters. Professionals draw a line around the professional sphere; health is the family’s business. Parents can set their children up for optimal learning with steps that are sometimes easy, sometimes obvious, and sometimes a lifelong quest. This series of blog posts will address common behavioral and medical issues and opens with roles of parents and professionals.

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ABCs of Behavior: Think long term – “What will it take in the adult world?” (draft subject to revision)

Families of children with autism, especially mothers of teenagers, were on social media during and after a Dateline NBC story about adults with developmental disabilities. One mother posted that these children have “what appears to be a pretty dismal future.” Another said “our kids will be just ‘in storage’ and regress. Someone replied that schools could be taking children into the community all day but that the community needs to fund adult programming, embrace inclusion of our kids [i.e., adults]. The original poster commented: Too many of the problem behaviors that our kids will have as adults could have been prevented. This piece introduces the dilemma: school safe, or community-ready?

My hasty reply in the post-Nightline discussion was: I’ve been working on preventing behaviors for a long time. It involves taking risks.

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Loss, Silence, and Sharing the Burdens of Grief

How have you handled personal loss? Do you feel better in the company of others at first, or is your impulse to recede? As the first anniversary willow engravingapproaches, do you change course; do you share memories of your loved one, or observe rituals? How can you help someone you love share the burden that your mutual loss represents?

Now ask yourself the central question of this blog – Since you are the more able communicator, how does that scenario change when you involve children, elders in decline, and cognitive or developmental disability?  The grief that comes from a close, personal loss is not a pond that evaporates. It’s a wetland, a murky swamp that doesn’t disappear when it subsides, but fills back up in rainy season. When the loss is very dear, long-buried grief reemerges at awkward times to be re-experienced by you and other survivors throughout life.
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Bowling Together

People need people. Everyone does. Even people who can barely communicate, children who appear to be uninterested in social interaction, and folks who find large groups overwhelming. Young or old, people with communication or developmental differences need community at least as much as “normal” people do. How and where to find and make that community are the challenge. We don’t bowl alone, my son and I.  Continue reading