Friday, September 24, 2010

How can you mend a broken heart?

It's all about perspective people.

I had a crappy day today. No other way to say it. It was pure crap. Anything that could have gone wrong, did. It just did. None of these things amounted to HUGE deals but man did they make my day....suck.

Some days are just like that, right? We've all been there.

Truth is, I've had a rough couple of weeks. OK months. I won't bore you all to tears with the whys and the hows and the details and the drama but suffice it to say, in the last few months I've loved, I've lost, I've laughed, I've cried, I've cried some more and then when I was all done crying, I found a way to release a few more tears. There have been days when getting out of bed was about the best I could muster. There's been even more days when putting on "the show" was almost more than I could bear.

I'm calling it a mid-life crisis and we'll leave it at that.

But it's allllllllllllllllllll about perspective. EVERYTHING is all about perspective. Stay with me.

This morning my day started with, "Oh crap I didn't get the garbage out last night!" to "OMG the trashcan is full of..... magg....!" to "OMFG my precious munchkin left his "reading light" on the in the van and the battery is dead!" to "No, REALLY the battery is DEAD. As in, drive directly to battery store. Do not pass "go" and for the love of all things holy, do NOT turn your car off," to just a host of things that fell apart one...right...after....another. The day was long. My patience was tried. My head ached. My eyes burned. My heart hurt. I felt depleted, exhausted, emotional, tired, frustrated, angry...and .... defeated.

Stay with me.

10 years ago at this VERY MOMENT ~ this was my perspective.

Look closely. There's a baby in there.

My baby.

10 years ago my precious beautiful 8 day old baby went through an extremely aggressive open heart surgery for something called transposition of the great vessels.

Today, my 10 year old got off the bus, bounding through the door with stories of his day before he even had a chance to take a breath. He laughed and I laughed and we hugged and I kissed the top of his stinky 10 year old head.

And suddenly, my crappy day.........well..........


I can deal with a new battery. I can even deal with "ahem" the garbage can. I can deal with Costco being out of Smart Water. I can deal with the laundry piled to the ceiling. I can deal with forgetting to pick up the dry cleaning (again). I can deal with the hurt, the anger the tears and even my broken heart.

As long as it's not his.

Because here's the thing. There's a lot of things I can push and gut my way through. But a life without my kids is not one of them.


People talk about the grass being greener. Here's what I've learned. The grass ain't greener. It's just a different shade of green. And that shade .... is based on your.......

OK, you get it.

"Being happy doesn't mean that everything is perfect. It means you've decided to look beyond the imperfections."

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Different. Not more.

I post a lot about autism. This blog, is called, "April Walks with Autism" after all. But really what I try to talk about is "special needs." "Differently abled." "Not normal." But today we will broach that small line under the title of my blog that reads, "and a few other things too."

Today I write about...
the GIFTED child.
Yep, I got me one of those, too.

But wait? Doesn't that fall into the category of "special needs?" "Differently abled? "Not normal?"

I mean Luke is autistic and he has an IEP.
Jared is gifted and he has an IEP.

So I think it's time we talked about it.

It's interesting. I meet a lot of parents with autistic kids that are sort of embarrassed to talk about their child's autism. Almost like there's this badge of shame in saying that your kid may be less than "whole" somehow. I'm the mom with a puzzle piece tattoo on her a$$ so what does that tell you about how shy I am about it? But when it comes to talking about Jared being "gifted" (see I even put it in quotes) I.... start to squirm. In fact, I think my body temp just went up about 10 degrees and I'm pitting out in my shirt. I don't like it. It's almost like saying, "My kid is better than yours." and I never EVER want to say that.

And then comes the stereotyping and the stigma that comes with having a gifted child.
"Life is so easy for him."
"It must be nice to have things come so naturally to him."
"He's an introverted nerd."
"You probably push him really hard."
"You'll never have to worry about that one."

**Sigh** One at time.

"Life is so easy for him." I could literally write a 40 page blog about this statement alone but instead I'll leave it at: is life easy for ANYONE? And does your IQ really have ANYTHING to do with how "easy" life is? Was it EASY for Jared to undergo open heart surgery at 8 days old? I'm guessing no.

"It must be nice to have things come so naturally to him." Yes, I'll admit. Many academic things come naturally to Jared. Math is part of his DNA (not from me, for the record). He taught himself how to read when he was 3. He remembers pretty darn much...everything. But guess what? Jared struggles in many OTHER areas. Jared has absolutely NO problem solving skills. I know, I know -- I said he was good at math. But for a kid like Jared, math is not a problem, math is logic. We had a situation this summer where he couldn't figure out how to screw the elmo sprinkler onto the hose. 9 years old and doing 6th grade algebra and high school reading but he can't screw a sprinkler on to the hose. Ya feel me on this? I mean he COULD NOT make his mind figure it out. It was utterly amazing to watch. (And REALLY frustrating, too) So, he must be....

"He's an introverted nerd." Introverted - NO. NOT a lick. Not even when we WANT him to be. (((grin))) Nerd? Well that's in the eye of the beholder but if by "nerd" you mean "nose in a book all the time," then you aren't talking about my boy. My Jared loves to be outside and play with his friends and play basketball and be on the Destination Imagination team, and laugh and giggle and PLAY just PLAY with his brother. In other words, he's pretty well rounded.

"You probably push him really hard." NO. NO. NO. NO. and by the way, NEVER. At the age of 3 he sat down and started to read a book. We NEVER taught him to read. Do we encourage him and "push" him to be his best. ABSOLUTELY. Shouldn't ALL parents do that? Do we drill calculus problems into his brain every day for 3 hours after school? No, in fact, he's watching Johnny Test as I type this. We follow Jared's lead. Period.

"You'll never have to worry about that one." ((((SMACK)))) how STUPID are you? Of course I worry about my child! DUH!!!!!!!! Since when does "High IQ" = "nothing to worry about?" Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr......................

My point is, people think that having a gifted child is so easy. And while it's true that in many regards it can be, we have to work and fight for Jared just as much, and sometimes more than we have to fight for Luke. And that... will be my next blog topic.

Until then - - think about this, with autism, we say
"Different. Not Less"
With gifted kids should we say,
"Different. Not more?"

Just because a child is smart doesn't mean they should be stereotyped. Stereotyping and profiling hurts no matter what end of the (pun intended) "spectrum" you're on. Gifted kids struggle with just many things as "typically developing children" and "special needs" children. The things they struggle with are just....


And that kicks off my month long topic of living with a gifted child!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

And The Emmy goes to....

I'll admit, most of my life I've been somewhat of an entertainment junkie. And by somewhat, I mean........totally.

But in recent years, my priorities have shifted quite a bit and I can't even remember the last year I watched the Emmy's. I mean, who has time to WATCH television let alone watch a show that celebrates the accomplishments of said media? Not me.

But not this year. Oh no. I was GLUED.

How many years in the past have we all watched the "documentary of the moment" walk on stage and scoop up their prizes? In years past we've seen made for TV movies ranging from war to depression to religion to politics to disease and everything in between. And it's been great. I'm really happy for all of the winners (hits FF button on the DVR remote).

But this year, I cared. A lot. Because this year, I was up for an Emmy. Luke was up for an Emmy. Anyone who has been touched by autism (and there's a lot of us) was up for an Emmy. It was OUR night. Sorry, Temple, but we're all in this WITH you.

And we won. Big. (May I add, as I predicted in my very own blog post)

I don't know Claire Danes. I don't know Mick Jackson. I don't know anyone at HBO. I don't know Temple. Oh, wait a minute.


So if I don't know these people, why do I care?

Because somehow, someway, people still don't know about autism. I KNOW, right?

And this movie, Temple Grandin - - brought autism to everyone's living room. It's out on DVD now. If you still don't know what autism is, spend the $15 and watch this movie. You'll know. This movie takes you literally inside the mind of an autistic person. And what an amazing mind it is.

The movie won 7 of the 15 Emmy's it was nominated for:
David Straithairn: Best Supporting Actor
Julia Ormond: Best Supporting Actor (she portrayed Temple's mom to PERFECTION)
Claire Danes: Best Actress (you may have heard, she actually played Temple, BRILLIANTLY)
Mick Jackson: Best Director (GENIUS)
Oustanding music composition - did you know the volume of the music was adjusted up and down to try to mimic the autistic experience?
Outstanding camera editing - I'm thinking about that ceiling fan friends. The one that still haunts me.
and of course: Outstanding made for TV movie

Sooooooooooo the Emmy's kind of turned into, "The Temple Grandin show." Because by GOLLY every time they said her name, she stood up and waved. GO GIRL!

Temple Grandin did not say a word until she was 4 years old.
Temple Grandin has had a helluva life.
Temple Grandin has accomplished more than most of us ever will.
Temple Grandin's story is so inspiring, so electrifying, so frightening, so captivating that a made for TV movie about it swept the Emmy awards in 2010.
And she's autistic.


Every award they handed out, I clapped and I cried.

Because I was winning that award! Luke was winning that award! AUTISM was winning that award!

I love what she says in this clip. I LOVE IT. "I absolutely knew that a mom would do it right."

Wait, I thought autistic people were socially awkward and never knew the right thing to say?

I wonder if Temple herself realizes what an inspiration she is. To all of us. I wonder if she realizes that getting up on that stage - - PERIOD is an inspiration but then the hug........ oh the hug. Those of you on this journey with me -- you know. Enough said. If Temple can get can we. So can your child.

Congratulations and thanks to everyone who had anything to do with getting this movie made. Thank you for using your power and your celebrity to bring autism to the forefront. Thank you for doing it right. Thank you for not only raising awareness, but taking it a step further and educating.

Thank you Temple Grandin. For opening up your life to us. For sharing your story. For being an inspiration. For continuing the fight. For being who you are. For showing us the way. For blazing the trail. Most people who DON'T have autism have the capability to do that. How brave you are Ms. Grandin.