Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Holiday Help

Holidays can be an extra stressful time for autism parents. We have all the regular stressors that any other family has coupled with autism-proofing decorations and presents, dealing with expectations that we show up to all the family functions and handling the stress that comes from those family functions like trying not to blow our top at the stares, the patronizing tones, the judgment, the pity and of course keeping all of the breakable keepsakes that have been handed down for generations that are seemingly kept on every low surface imaginable in one piece. Dare I mention the terror of a “Code Brown” at somebody else’s home?

Since the holiday season is upon us, I thought I would supply all of my fellow autism parents out there a simple form letter that you can send to your relatives who don’t get why it is you may prefer to stay at home as opposed to going to a loud house crammed with extended family.

Disclaimer: To MY immediate family. Thank you for being so great. This is not about you, but meant as satire for the scores of autism families that are not as fortunate as we are to have the support system we do… so Cyndi… relax.We love you and Bianca ADORES her nina. LOL
Dear <Insert host family member name here>,

Thank you so much for the invitation to the <holiday> party! Unfortunately, we will not be able to attend. It isn't that we wouldn't like to be there, but it would be very difficult to relax because my kid(s) is/are not accustomed to your home. We have spent years figuring out how to “autism-proof” our home, something that just isn't fair to expect of others to be able to do overnight.

I know you will say that family will help watch, that it isn't a big deal and that we should not worry about it, but it is a big deal and no matter how much experience people may have watching kids that are not autistic, I can promise you that it will not be enough to understand how carefully you have to watch <insert kid(s) name here>. Little things like leaving an unlocked door to the outside unguarded for a few seconds can mean the difference between life and death.

It is too bad though, because <significant other> and I love going to your house and admiring how pristine you keep your lily white carpet. By the way, how many generations did you say those plates were in your family? They look as good as new! We particularly like to marvel at the 10 coffee tables loaded with those glass trinkets. Also, it is very comforting knowing that <insert dead relative> is right there on lower shelf of that bookcase watching over the family as we get together.

<Family member> loves all the artwork and family photos you guys have on your walls. That gorgeous wallpaper is something to behold and in some of your rooms, the walls are so white that I can’t tell where your carpet starts and where the walls begin.

What we will REALLY miss though is that lovely tomato based dish that gets served every time the family gets together and the countless number of glasses full of various colored beverages that people leave unattended… to say the least of the cutlery! How do you get knives THAT sharp? Catching up on all the gossip in the kitchen full of scalding hot pots and open flames is always a favorite of <family member>.

Will you guys have the tree up already again? All of those glass ornaments with all that meaning behind them. I can’t believe how ornate that tree can get. It is almost like just walking past it you can knock down an ornament, yet there they are… hanging on by a thread. I suppose that is why there is the mountain of neatly wrapped presents under the tree begging to be opened. It helps to keep people at a bit of a distance.

I guess we will just have to miss out on all the great parenting advice that <oldest member of the family> dishes out every year! I will never forget when he/she told <mom’s name> how all <insert kid(s) name> needed was some good discipline and that <mom’s name> should stay home more often. That is the kind of advice you just can’t pay for.

I guess we will have to wait until next year. Thank you again so much for the invitation, I guess we are just going to have a small quiet <insert holiday> celebration with kids.


<Insert name here>

PS: Please say hello to <Drunk, loud, not-funny, racist relative> for us!
If you like what you have seen and read, please take a few seconds and vote for Lou's Land as one of Babble's Top Autism Spectrum Blogs. (Though I think this site is all kinds of messed up)

If you have not already, please take time to watch my videos, "Fixing" Autism and Autism Awareness with Nichole337 and share them with your friends.

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

How the Other 87 Live

One of my nephews (grandnephew technically) had a birthday party tonight at one of those bouncy house indoor places today. We didn't feel that it would be wise to take Bianca. Not because the cast on her foot would slow her down any, but because since it does NOT slow her down, it really serves as a dangerous weapon to anybody in her path.

I could just see Bianca jumping like crazy and coming down with her cast on some poor unsuspecting kids face. It would not be pretty.

A Break in the Routine: Part II

Did I mention that I am NOT a morning person?

The appointment with the orthopedic pediatrician was at 7AM. I fought through the fog of sleep and got up. Thank goodness I set 5 alarms on my phone… I needed all 5 of them. Bianca needed several more. She was NOT moving. I got her dressed and carried her downstairs and out the door to the man-van. I strapped her into the car seat as her sleep remained undeterred.

We got to the specialists office and of course I had to fill out paperwork. Bianca was awake now, so I had to keep one hand on her and try to fill out the forms with the other hand while being tugged in every which direction. I felt bad handing it in because it looked like a serial killer had just filled out a form, but then I remember that they read “doctor” so I figured it was OK.

The staff was incredibly pleasant. Everybody was very concerned about Bianca and they were very in touch with the fact that she is autistic. They fawned over her, complimented how pretty she was and marveled at bond between us. It really made me relax. I was already nervous about the appointment and on edge because I had no idea what was wrong with Bianca.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Break in the Routine: Part I

Since we could not really afford a big family vacation, I decided that I would use my remaining vacation time to take off a bunch of Friday and Saturday nights. I work a 4 day work week, so this would reduce my work week down to 2 days and allow me to enjoy some time off with the family. You may not be aware, but Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays (my normal nights off) are not exactly HOPPING. So, we scheduled a bunch of outings that we normally would not do and treated my time off as a bit of a “stay-cation”.

For the first time in our 13 years together, we actually went to a bunch of adult Halloween Parties that our friends hosted. It was a nice break in the routine for a couple that works opposite schedules to reduce babysitting time and costs and share a bed with a 2 year old that refuses to sleep in his own room anymore.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Happy Birthday Bianca!

I can hardly believe that it has been 7 years since we first met. I remember it like it was yesterday. That moment remains in a three-way tie for the happiest day of my life.

You changed me in so many ways. You have taught me what it means to be a man and father, unconditional love, acceptance, patience, the danger in projecting my dreams onto others and how to avoid a head-butt.  Each day since you were born has been brighter. Even the darkest days with you in my life are brighter than the best days before you were born. You give life reason and meaning.  You have shown me my mission.

I am so proud of all you do. Every little added skill, word, sign and ability makes me marvel at your can-do spirit and your ferocity at tackling life’s challenges.

If I could have designed the “perfect daughter” before you were born, autism certainly wouldn't have been in the equation. That is why I am glad we as parents have no say in who enters our lives as children. I am glad and proud that you are OUR daughter, autism and all. I can’t imagine my life without you exactly as you are. Of course I hope that you can overcome the obstacles life has placed in your path, and I know you will do your best.

I have said it before; you are the greatest birthday gift… EVER. So as I share this 7th birthday with you, please know that I love you for the person you are and for the person YOU want to be. I will serve as your protector, your champion and your father all along the way; never regretting that you came into my life. I hope that as you grow older I can impart on you that just because something is a challenge, doesn't mean that it isn't enjoyable, rewarding and worthy of love.

Thank you for 7 years of lessons. I look forward to a lifetime more. .. smiling, laughing and loving all the way.

If you like what you have seen and read, please take a few seconds and vote for Lou's Land as one of Babble's Top Autism Spectrum Blogs. (Though I think this site is all kinds of messed up)

If you have not already, please take time to watch my videos, "Fixing" Autism and Autism Awareness with Nichole337 and share them with your friends.

To keep up to date with everything Lou's Land, please subscribe to my blog, "Like" me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter.