Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Hayden Goes Mainstream

As of today Hayden will be full time in the mainstream classroom. I kind of can't believe it.

He's come so far this year. So many gains. Paying attention to his surroundings. Less scripting (repeating things from shows word-for-word). Less anger and aggression. More empathy. More social skills. Ability to self-advocate.

Home therapy and Biomed changes have definitely benefited him. His mom and step-dad (and even sister!) working with him at home of course were huge helps. But he also just works really hard and tries his best to be the best he can be. I'm so proud of my little man and how well he's doing!!!

This is my kid with autism at Disney World NOT wearing headphones, while his sister is.

This is my kid with autism in the ocean, chilling and enjoying the view. (Don't worry, they're sitting, not standing.) Meanwhile his sister is too scared and too cold.

This week he starts a new social skills group for kids with autism. Hayden is excited about it. Hooray for trying new things and more improvements!

Monday, November 30, 2015

An Autism Mom Named TaLesha

Many of you know that my passion is helping autism moms. Sometimes the dads. But it's usually the moms.

They message me from Brazil, and Egypt. Ireland and California. I message them back or give them a call, and answer their questions. Give them ideas and resources. Give them Hope. 

A while back I was working in Lafayette. After work I received a message through Facebook from an Indianapolis mom. I had met her once before at the conference I hosted. She wrote "please contact me as soon as you can, I need help." The message came up on my phone just as I was leaving work. So I pulled over (I'm not so good at talking and driving) right before the exit to the interstate. I gave her a call and we talked for at least an hour. She wanted to know if her concerns about her son's therapist were well-founded.  I told her that the mommy instinct is usually right. If she thought that something needed to change, then it probably did. She decided that she needed to make a change for her son soon. 

I don't remember if we talked about biomed on this occasion. We probably did.

I do remember talking about her cancer, which I had not known about prior, and how she wished that she knew a few years ago what she knew now. That cancer and autism had environmental causes... and if she had done some things differently, she and her son might not be sick. 

I told her that you can't know what you don't know. You have to move forward and work with what you do know now. You can make changes and you can heal. 

She told me that she was trying. Really hard. But that she thought for her it might be too late.

We ended our call with a promise to talk again soon. 

I didn't hear from her for a while. So one day I clicked on her name on Facebook which took me to her wall. Her wall had condolences from family members and friends, messages saying "we miss you."  And I realized that she was gone. 

Every time I drive to Lafayette now. Every time. I think of her. 

Her baby must've been about one when she died. Her son with autism maybe around six.

My thoughts of her are somewhat sad. For her family. For her babies. But mostly…

She reminds me not to take for granted what I have. To remember to have fun and worry less. To hug my kids tighter. To take better care of myself. To be happy for those I can help. 

To be glad that I was able to help her in someway. 

And most of all, that she was able to help me.

I drove to Lafayette today. On the way home I had to pull over. I had to write this post. 

And as always seems to happen, I finish writing. I look up, and the time is 4:40.  You can see why that's an important number to me by clicking here. Yes, I am in my car. And I am crying.

Thank you TaLesha, for reminding us to slow down. 

Until we meet again.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

We Have to Have Hope

Trigger warning: This post contains graphic images. 
Several people I don't know have come to my personal Facebook page to attack one of my posts about refugees: 

The comments argue against letting Syrians into the US. A Muslim refugee might kill us all.
Is that possible? Sure. But mass shootings happen by white AMERICANS every month in this country. It is not just people with brown skin or who are non-Christian who kill. 
Those who came to my page, saying that we should be fearful of all Muslims and Syrians, argued for us to "be careful" (which translates to not allow them in) are afraid. They believe we should be callous and look at what MIGHT happen instead of what LIKELY will happen (which is nothing but the saving of many, many innocent lives.)

Syria, 2013. Click the image for information.

Let's pause a minute. What's even going on in Syria? According to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum: "What started as a democratic uprising has now become an overtly sectarian conflict in which civilians are targeted for atrocities based upon their religious and ethnic identity. Members of Syria’s Sunni Muslim majority are bearing the brunt of the Syrian government’s massive campaign of crimes against humanity and war crimes, while some of the forces opposing the regime have committed abuses and atrocities against members of Syria’s religious and ethnic minorities...  Nearly one-half of the more than 220,000 killed have been civilians—including an estimated 20,000 children. As sectarian violence becomes more widespread and systematic, there is increasing danger that it could escalate to genocide."
Sudan and Darfur, 2003 to present. Click the image for information.
I feel one thing the Holocaust taught us is that people need to value compassion over fear. If people had spoken up during the Holocaust, if more people had hidden Jews in their homes, if more people had fought back against the angry sentiment... maybe fewer people would have died. But they were taught by the media that Jews were evil. Are we now being taught by the media that Muslims are evil? I believe so.
I'm very sad to say, that if you feel most Muslims are bad people, we cannot be friends. I don't believe that all (or even a large portion of) Muslims or Syrians are bad people, and I don't know that I want to be friends with people who believe that.
I know we should all try to get along. On that note If I saw you on the street I'd still say hi. If you fell down I would still pick you up and ask if you're OK. We can still be civil and good citizens. We don't have to agree on everything. But some things are non-negotiable for me. We can be civil but we don't have to be friends. 
I can't share my thoughts and family memories with others who feel that not all humans are created equal. I just can't believe that some human beings are better than others simply based on a religion or nationality. The Muslim religion teaches love. Muslims around the world are denouncing the recent terrorist act in Paris. It was caused by someone who doesn't subscribe to Muslim views. They (ISIS) have created their own terrorist views.
I can't assume that we need to be so fearful of the possibility of one bad egg that we should be callous to the million good ones. I can't allow history to be repeated because I stood by and allowed hatred and fear to go unchecked. It will not be allowed on my page. I don't believe you can live your life in fear of an entire race or religion.
This kind of sentiment leads to genocide. I have to speak out. I can't sit by.

Genocide. I'm not just talking about the Jewish people in WWII.

Rwanda, 1994. Click the image for information.

Armenia, 1915. Click the image for information.

According to the International Alliance to End Genocide, 
"Genocide is a process that develops in eight stages that are predictable but not inexorable. At each stage, preventive measures can stop it. The process is not linear. Logically, later stages must be preceded by earlier stages. But all stages continue to operate throughout the process." Read the Eight Stages of Genocide  
In the first stage, we classify people as "Us vs. Them." To prevent genocide at this stage, we can promote tolerance, and showing the ways that we all have things in common, not just differences.
So, to help with the first step, let me tell you about my neighbors.
Many of my neighbors are refugees from Burma. On both sides of my house, and two across the street. Maybe another 6 more down the street. They are not Muslim but they did leave their country because of persecution. Maybe if I tell you about the refugees I know, you will have less to fear?
My neighbors are kind and polite. They have jobs, their children run and play in the street with my children. The little boy next door loves to ride his bike. He and his little brother wave at us from their window inside when we're out working in the garden. They like to chase our cat and say, "Meow" when they pet her.
 Rylie and Joseph playing with one of our neighbors. 

Their dad came to our garage sale and bought our Fisher Price barn to give to his son. They put up Christmas lights and plant flowers. They have a large vegetable garden in the back yard. Their family is just so glad to be here, away from the horrible things in their native country. Now, does their food smell weird to me? Yeah. I'm sure some of my food smells weird to them. Do they speak English? Some. They are trying.  I don't speak another language. So if I were to have to migrate, I would have to learn, too. We ARE different. But we're also the same. We're all human.
They aren't bad people. They just needed a safe place to call home.
Ethnic cleansing in Burma, 2012. Click the image for information.
So, I started this blog when my son was diagnosed with autism. I called it Hope and Lavender because I felt such deep grief, sorrow, anger, and fear. But I didn't want to feel those things. I knew there still had to be room for Hope. I had hope that the next day could be better.
I feel this way about humanity too. Tomorrow doesn't have to be worse than today. We can have Hope. We have to have Hope.
I feel those with Hope are actually the ones MAKING life better. We're looking for opportunities and embracing them. We're finding ways to improve the world and doing it.
Watercolor quote from Zazzle.
This is my journey. To help others. Families living with autism or other special needs often are told that there is no Hope. Things will never get better. I beg to differ and I hope to show you all practical tools here to make that happen for your family.
Please have Hope, too, for humanity. We CAN embrace compassion over fear. We CAN have Hope. Pay it Forward. Help your neighbor. Lift the fallen.
Most people are good people. Please give them a chance. Please choose Hope.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Public school ain't cheap

Rant time. Sorry. Scroll past now and save yourself!  I just need to say it. 

So... I used to be able to pay a little bit of book rental each month until it was paid off, and I had all year to get it paid. Each month I paid $30 or $40 until it was gone. 

Now they've removed that ability from their online website, AND I just got a letter that people who don't pay in full by December will be taken to collections. Nice.

Don't worry, I'll find that $118 dollars somewhere. In addition to the $600 per month I'm paying for your preschool. And $204 a month for after-care. Plus snack fees. Plus 'optional' $1 jeans days. Plus field trip money several times a year. And I'll send in those cups and napkins you want for the thanksgiving feast you're having next week, even though I just did for the fall party. Not just regular cups, they must be decorative! Got it. And money to roller skate during gym class. And special treats for the party since my kids can't eat anything there. Oh also school pictures are in. Times two. Guess I'll skip. And there's another fundraiser coming up. My kid HAS to spend $5 on the fundraiser to get a rubber duck or he won't be the same as everyone else! The horrors! And there's another book fair coming up soon. Gotta do that. And Santa Shop-- my kid can't be the only one who doesn't get to shop! And please send in two gifts for the class gift exchange. 


If they would just let me pay a little at a time for "book rental" I might chill out a little. Sorry. The letter about collections pushed me over the edge. I just sent you a check for $300 two days ago. 

I thought #PublicSchool was supposed to be free.   😫