Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Open letter to Ernie Brown (area talk radio show host)

The following letter is in response to THIS news report and his subsequent ranting and unsympathetic criticism.

I do not think the airline over compensated the family of the child booted from the flight. We may not be in possession of all the facts in this story.

I am mother to twin autistic girls. They are six now and after intensive intervention therapies for three years, they might be able to fly, but at three they would have behaved the same way the child reported on in this story was described as behaving. There was nothing we could have done about their behavior. We weren't bad parents. In fact, we were and are incredibly dedicated parents who would have been bewildered, embarrassed and frustrated by the situation too. And it would have been an all too familiar scene. When facing new situations with unfamiliar people, smells, sights, and surroundings, they often flew into tremendous tantrums. I endured heaps of unfair criticism and judgement from complete strangers who felt free to offer such helpful advice as,

"Those children need a spanking!"

You can't spank autism out of child.

Or "If those were my children, they wouldn't be getting away with such behavior!"

Really? Then I know about 25 families who will be glad to bring their children to you so that you can straighten them out.

These are just a couple of examples. It goes without saying there have been many rolled eyes, overt stares, and dirty looks. Do you suppose a wheelchair bound or
Down's child or their parents would be so freely criticized? As a parent of children with hidden disabilities, you have to develop a thick skin.

Aside from reporting the story, you railed about "screaming and crying" children in restaurants. Restaurants are another place that children with autism and other developmental delays struggle. So are grocery stores, pharmacies, parks and virtually anyplace that entails waiting or circumstances outside of their normal routine.

We don't know if the child in this story has autism or some other pervasive developmental delay. The child's parents may not even know. Autism is usually not diagnosed until the age of three.

If you want to see what autism is all about, watch THIS short video called Autism Everyday. Perhaps it will give you a different perspective the next time you encounter a family out in public with a seemingly ill behaved and out of control child.


Susan S.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The fern and the bamboo

One day I decided to quit…

I quit my job, my relationship, my spirituality…

I wanted to quit my life.

I went to the woods to have one last talk with God.

“God,” I said. “Can you give me one good reason not to quit?”

His answer surprised me.

“Look around,” He said. “Do you see the fern and the bamboo?”

“Yes,” I replied.

“When I planted the fern and the bamboo seeds, I took very good care of them. I gave them light. I gave them water. The fern quickly grew from the earth. Its brilliant green covered the floor. Yet nothing came from the bamboo seed.

But I did not quit on the bamboo. In the second year the Fern grew more vibrant and plentiful.

And again, nothing came from the bamboo seed. But I did not quit on the bamboo. He said.

“In year three there was still nothing from the bamboo seed. But I would not quit.

In year four, again, there was nothing from the bamboo seed.

I would not quit.” He said.

“Then in the fifth year a tiny sprout emerged from the earth.

Compared to the fern it was seemingly small and insignificant…But just 6 months later the bamboo rose to over 100 feet tall.

It had spent the five years growing roots. Those roots made it strong and gave it what it needed to survive.

I would not give any of my creations a challenge it could not handle.”

He said to me. “Did you know, my child, that all this time you have been struggling, you have actually been growing roots?”

“I would not quit on the bamboo. I will never quit on you.”

“Don’t compare yourself to others.” He said. “The bamboo had a different purpose than the fern. Yet they both make the forest beautiful.”

“Your time will come”, God said to me. “You will rise high”

“How high should I rise?” I asked.

“How high will the bamboo rise?” He asked in return.

“As high as it can?” I questioned.

“Yes.” He said, “Give me glory by rising as high as you can.”

I left the forest and bring back this story.

I hope these words can help you see that God will never give up on you.

Never regret a day in your life.

Good days give you happiness; bad days give you experiences; both are essential to life.

O LORD God Almighty, who is like you?
You are mighty, O LORD, and your faithfulness surrounds you.
Psalm 89:8

Thursday, January 04, 2007

warning! shameless parental bragging ahead...

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You can't say you weren't warned.

Over Christmas and for the next couple of weeks, I am temporarily cooking for an elderly client that another chef friend of ours usually cooks for. He is away with the rest of her more able bodied family until the middle of January. Anyway, she is quite old and has had a stroke and has a swallowing disorder. She lives in an assisted living community (the fanciest one I have ever laid eyes on, BTW) with two nurses and a personal assistant. I deliver meals for all of them every other day. Obviously, this means that the girls are often with me when I make the deliveries.

The architecture of the building is Italian Mediterranean. It has a cobblestone and brick circular drive area for temporary parking. The first time I brought the girls with me, when we got out of the van, Abby looked down at the drive and said, "This is like in Rome." I had not paid any particular attention to the drive before that, but when I looked down I had to agree.

She went on, "Rome made this kind of streets so the rain would not wash them away. They were the first civilization to do it. It made them great."

First off, hearing your six year old who had no significant speech until she was three say all that was stunning and secondly, since she has a pronounced lisp, hearing her say the word "civilization" was about the cutest thing ever.

Then we entered the building. We had gone over numerous times what I expected of them behaviorally while we were there. I signed in at the concierge desk (where both girls greeted the attendant with, "Bon Jour!") and we began walking towards this woman's suite.

Along the way, Emma Jean pointed out a framed, architectural drawing/watercolor and accurately identified it as the Pantheon. Then we came to another similar work so I pointed to it and asked them if they knew what the drawing was of and Abby answered, "An archway." Which made me laugh because my little Literal Lucy was identifying exactly what I was pointing to, but I was referring to the subject as a whole. After we cleared that up, they both accurately identified the structure as The Coliseum and then went on to tell me about the gladiators and the Christians that fought there.

I was stunned and delighted beyond measure.

Can you believe it?

Dr. Monteiro, the DISD autism "expert," can stick her prognosis of "life skills at best" in her aquaduct and sit on it.

Joshua told the people, "Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you."

Joshua 3:5
  • International Day of Prayer for Autism & Asperger's Syndrome