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Aug 29 2013

I Yelled At My Autistic Daughter

By at 10:05 am

woman yelling close upMy daughter had a colossal meltdown last night and I handled it badly.

My patience gave way after 40 minutes of defiance and my tone went from neutral to impatient, agitated and finally, about three-quarters of the way through, to angry.

There, I said it; I yelled at my autistic daughter.

I am a lousy mother, right? Who yells at their special needs kid?

Apparently, I do.  Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 19 2013

The Hebrew School Dropouts Want Back In

By at 5:03 pm

hebrew school dropoutsLast month, at the very last minute, I finally sent off my children’s application to our synagogue’s Hebrew school. For the second time.

Three years ago when it was time to sign up our oldest daughter for Hebrew school, I eagerly filled out the paperwork. My husband and I love our funky, spirited, and opinionated Reconstructionist synagogue, and I thought I found a community that would provide a Jewish connection and community for the entire family. Let the Jewish learning begin! They were starting a new family-based, Shabbat-based Hebrew school program. We would be in on the ground floor, as they say, and start my daughter off on an amazing journey of Jewish learning.

But it did not quite work out that way. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 11 2013

Summer Vacation is No Picnic for a Child with Autism

By at 9:59 am

child in hammockSummer vacation is upon us.

All over Facebook I see statuses of parents dealing with school being out. Grateful posts about not having to pack lunches quickly turn into posts about the hassles of shlepping kids to baseball practice or kids being underfoot saying, “I’m bored” 600 times a day and in between happy vacation photos and day trips and amusements parks.

In other words, the stuff of life. Or at least the stuff of life when you are a parent.

As the parent of a special needs child, I recognize these irritations but honestly, I also do my share of eye rolling when I read stuff like this. It’s tough not to shake my head when some parents’ biggest problems are that they cannot decide how many pairs of flowered underpants their kids need to pack to go to Jewish sleep-away camp for two weeks. It sometimes makes me cringe when I read stuff like this, not just because I think of friends who struggle financially and aren’t in the position to be able to pay to send their child to be cared for by others for two weeks. Or those, like me, whose kids just can’t participate in things like summer camp, because their needs are so specialized and they just need more attention and care than they can get in most summer programs. Read the rest of this entry →

May 29 2013

We Can’t Talk About God, We’re too Busy with Autism

By at 10:03 am

knife and forkThis post is part of our month-long series featuring different ways that parents of various religions have talked to their kids about God.

A week or so ago I was contacted by one of Kveller’s editors telling me about their month-long series on talking to your children about God and was asked if I wanted to perhaps write a piece for it. Being the mom of a child on the autistic spectrum might add an interesting voice to the series. “Sure, I’d love to.”

Hold on a second.

I’ve never talked to my daughter about God.

Why haven’t I done that?  Read the rest of this entry →

May 28 2013

There’s an 80% Chance My Marriage Will End in Divorce

By at 10:39 am

decree of divorceIn our world there are statistics all around us. No where is that more true than in the world of autism.

There is the whole one in 88 kids are diagnosed on the autism spectrum, which is the big ugly, awful stat but there are loads of little stats, particularly if you start investigating treatment options, dietary options, and so forth.

The one that hit me the most when my daughter was diagnosed with autism was this one: 80 percent of marriages where there is a child with autism end in divorceRead the rest of this entry →

Apr 23 2013

The Other Kids Don’t Want to Play with My Daughter

By at 3:52 pm

empty swings at playgroundIt happened again today.

My daughter went outside to the playground in front of our house and within five minutes the kids that were out there headed for the hills.

It’s happened before, many times.

The scene usually plays out like this. My daughter looks out our front window and sees kids at the playground across the street from our house. She furiously rushes to me and asks if she can go play outside. After a good five minutes of her running around aimlessly in excitement and me running after her telling her to put her shoes and a jacket on, she sets off outside. She gets to the playground and in her excited state runs and flaps her arms, doesn’t listen to what is going on or starts talking a blue streak about her stuffed animals or what we are having for dinner and even when she does listen, she often cannot follow what the other kids are doing.   Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 19 2013

On My Mother’s Refusal to Label Me Special Needs

By at 10:11 am

adam w. 13-year-oldLast week, we published a blog post by Alina Adams entitled “Why I Wouldn’t Let My Son Be Labeled Special Needs.” The post, which explained why Alina declined to sign Adam up for special benefits at school that he qualified for due to an Auditory Processing Disorder, sparked a lively debate on Kveller. Many readers were interested to hear her son’s point of view on the matter, so here is a letter from 13-year-old Adam himself.

Hello Kveller readers,

I, Adam, will now offer my own opinion on my mother’s most recent article about how I wasn’t classified as special needs.

First and foremost, I would like to say that my mother’s writing on this occasion was relatively close to truth. Yes, she exaggerates once in awhile about what I said. I mean, some of her quotes seem more like summaries than it being verbatim. Still, I will now rebut and comment on this piece all about me and my problems.

The first paragraph seems to be relatively true. The thing is, I don’t remember any of this since I was a baby. About my large head, that is very true. In pictures of baby Adam, I look like a disproportionate cartoon character. About the whole talking thing, it is true that I couldn’t talk then, but I’ve made up for lost time. I can and do talk a lot more now. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 11 2013

My Autistic Daughter is Going Through Puberty

By at 5:01 pm

pubertyWhile the world of autism is talking, blogging, and arguing about Autism Awareness Month, over here we have been dealing with another kind of awareness. One in which autism, like with a lot of other things, brings challenges, not just to Maya, but to me as her mom.

Puberty.

A few months ago I wrote a post about how I and everyone around me were noticing changes in my daughter and my fears about how to talk about it with her.  Read the rest of this entry →

Why I Wouldn’t Let My Son be Labeled Special Needs

By at 2:37 pm

kindergarten boy with crayonMy oldest son didn’t really talk until he was almost 3. He said a couple of words, like “ite” for “light” and the requisite “Mama” and “Dada,” but he didn’t string them together into sentences, which he should have been doing by then. He also didn’t point at things. He just went and got what he needed himself. (I thought it was a good thing, honestly.)

He had an abnormally large head (it was literally off the charts when the doctor tracked it), and he could stand for up to 20 minutes at a time, just watching a leaf blow in the wind. Based on all of the above–and from 5,000 miles away in California, mind you–my mother diagnosed him as autistic. I brushed it off. But, then, our pediatrician suggested we get him checked out, too. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 14 2013

How I Prepare My Autistic Son for Passover

By at 9:54 am
grilled cheese

No grilled cheese for eight days?

Every year around this time I come down with an acute form of memory loss. I call it Passover Brain. With just two weeks to go before the first Seder, the panic sets in and suddenly it’s as if I’m observing the holiday for the very first time.

Where did I store the seder plate? How do I get those crumbs out from way underneath the oven? Does anyone make haroset safe for my nut-allergic kids? And why–why–is the only thing in my “Pesach” folder a 3-year-old shopping list? Read the rest of this entry →

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