Behind starburst eyes

Reacting verses Responding

It’s easy sometimes to forget how deeply our words impact those around us. It’s easy to forget that what we say and do lives in the hearts and minds of those we love and care for, especially our children. Times when we’re tired and frustrated by a bunch of things that may not even have to do with our child and then they do something, something they’ve done a million times before and we snap. We respond to their actions with our own frustration and upset instead of responding to it in the way our children deserve.

I’m human and I make mistakes, I get mad, and tired, sore and frustrated, and I too can react in a negative fashion. But I try every day to make sure I don’t. I try to respond instead of react.

My “trick” when I’m about to react instead of respond is to look at their hand. Why their hand? Because your closed fist is the approximate size of your heart. I look at their little hand and I see a visual reminder of how tiny their heart is just yet, and I refuse to fill such a small space with pain and words that will haunt them.

Looking at their hand helps me to be reminded that I am here to take their hand in mine and guide them, to show them how to access the great potential that is within each and every single person, their own personal greatness. I take a deep breath as I think of all this and then instead of reacting, I respond.

I respond with love. I try to help them find the most positive way of receiving what they wanted, be it a cookie or a toy someone else is playing with or additional attention. (Any project or chore can wait, but the giving of love and attention should’t be postponed when it’s asked for.)

Why do I say respond instead of react?

The dictionary’s definition of react is to act or do something in reaction to something else. BUT the definition of respond is to provide an answer to a query. In the middle ages respond was a noun for a pillar that actively supported. I feel that especially when they are young, they are looking towards the adults in their life to show them how to act, how to obtain what they want and need, and how to be the best them they can be. They are not purposely trying to “push buttons” or be “bad” they are simply making bad choices because they don’t yet know how to make better choices. It’s up to their adults to answer their unspoken questions and show them how to make better choices.


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#HAWMC Day 7: Why I write about Autism

#HAWMC Day 7: Why I write about Autism. Tell us why you write. How long have you been writing? What impact has it made on your life? Write for 15-20 minutes without stopping.


I write because if more people understand Autism than there will be less times that parents are ostracised and called out for their supposed flaws as parents. (Such as this)

I want to help show the parents of children that have just been diagnosed the beauty and wonder of parenting that still awaits them! I really am “Happy in Holland” and I don’t wish for different children. Instead I get my butt researching and thinking and planning on how to best help them to have a life they define as happy.  I’m going to repeat that, because I think that right there is a huge issue. I want them to have a life they define as happy. Nowhere do I say I want them to create the life I deem as happy, because it’s not about me, it’s about them. Just as my life isn’t about what my parents deem as a happy life, it’s about what my spirit says is personally fulfilling, and my children deserve the same right to choose their own happiness, as does every other person on this planet!

I write to help other parents see that they don’t need to feel helpless in their childrearing of Autistic kids; they can research and plan and create methods and ways to enrich their children’s lives and help them to access their fullest potential all without demeaning, or shaming them or their natural neuro-pathways. Such as ensuring their cortisol levels are decreased through regular physical activities so they have less overloading and meltdowns. Or making behavioural therapy plans while their waiting for ABA, or creating a sensory room, or finding ways such as massage or the creation of “nests” to make going to sleep easier for them.

I write about my sons’ health, about their “condition” because I want the world to understand the path they walk in this life. I want to share the beauty and wonder they bring to me, and to so many people around them. I want for others to see that yeah they’re different, but it’s beautiful and special and amazing and so incredible. I write about Autism because too many negative stereotypes exist and I can’t change them without shining a light on what Autism really is. What Autism really means and why neurodiversity desperately needs to be accepted by our society.

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Wonderland lists and helpful hands

parchment and quill


“Can I help!”

Sometimes I would cringe when I heard those words from one of my wee ones. It’s not that I didn’t want them to help, it’s just that I didn’t want them to help.
It’s faster for me to do a task such as carry up a bin of laundry to their bedroom, or sort the recycling or sweep the floor than it is for me to do it “with help”
Sometimes when the hours seem to be flying faster and faster and the chores and tasks to be done are becoming copious lists of “not yet” I get tempted to slough off offers of help. I get caught up in clock watching and list checking and trying to ensure everything I’d wanted to accomplish that day occurs.

For a time I would smile and thank them, but refuse their help. I would do it gently and with love, but I wasn’t truly present in the moment with them. I was still too much in my own head, amidst swirls of paper and lists straight out of Wonderland that magically add two more tasks for everyone I erase upon completion. I didn’t think of what I was doing by always refusing their help. I only thought of how much “more” I was accomplishing. Slowly though I’ve come to realize that I will always be able to find things that I didn’t get time to do at the end of each day. There is always the proverbial “more” to be done, more of this or more of that.

Now I look at their earnest faces and I see the caring heart behind the offer. I see that this is a moment to let them help, because in letting them help and praising them for doing so I’m teaching them to be caring, helping individuals. I’m teaching them to go out of their way for those they love, which is exactly the type of adult I want them to become. I’m also teaching them how to graciously accept help so that should they need it (and everyone does at some point) they’ll know how to acknowledge their appreciation to the person helping them.

Now I try to look at the extra time it takes to finish the task as not really extra time being taken away from other tasks…It’s time devoted to helping them grow into the good, caring people that others will want as a part of their village. That means a great deal to me, enough that I try to take a deep breath and push the Wonderland lists that swirl about in my head away enough to smile and say “I would like that, thank-you!”

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And so a hero is born…

At the YMCA today Mr. C went to his homeschool group while Mr. N and Miss. G played in the gym. After it was over I stayed in the gym with them while my mom went to the program area to get Mr. C. He came into the gym and both siblings rushed to hug him as if he’d been gone for years instead of the hour it had been. Miss. G was trying her best to throw the basketball into the net. It didn’t really work, in fact it didn’t work even a little for her, she’d hold the ball above her head and try with all her might to throw it high, but it’d only go an inch or two above her head and then come bouncing down. Mr. C watched her and cheered her attempts on for a couple of minutes, but then he walked towards her and scooped her up. I watched Miss. G’s face light up with glee as Mr. C carried her on top of his shoulders towards the net so she could try and get the ball in the basketball net. Written upon her face was the sure and deep truth that he was her hero as clearly as if she’d said the words aloud, and my heart sang from being blessed to see this moment between them.

We hadn’t gone to Monday’s homeschool group in awhile, see it ends at 2:30 p.m, which is exactly when Joy would be picked up from the Y’s daycare. While my heart lurched and tears sprung to my eyes as the hands showed it was indeed that time, I’m glad I went. I would have missed out on the giggles as Miss. G raced across the gym to get the ball over and over, I would have missed out on Mr. N’s proud exclamations of “look at me, look what I doing!” as he tried to balance on his stomach on a basketball. I would have missed watching Mr. C and Miss. G bonding, and I would have missed the moment he stopped being just her brother and became her hero too.


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Working with his neurostructure for academic success

I have homeschooled Mr. C since removing him from pre-school after his negative experiences there. I have always tried to modify his academics towards his personal interests, such as learning to count using construction machines and fire trucks, and reading was done with books on cars, and transformers. I taught him about charts, compiling and comparing data with Lego Bionicle pieces.

However I will admit I never took his specific unique neurostructure into account when creating his homeschooling plan. What I mean by this is that I would have him do a certain amount of work for each subject each day, because I never thought of altering that. Slowly as more subjects have been added, I’ve watched as he’s tried harder and harder to just “get through” each of them. We’ve spoken about it, and it always comes backs to feeling overwhelmed by the number of subjects he’s to learn. He says that when he’s struggling to learn one thing, he worries about the time it’ll take because of still needing to complete other subjects, and that when he’s enjoying a lesson he can’t just keep going and learning more about it.

Now I know one option would be to lower the amount of subjects he’s to learn, but I know he’s capable and I feel that each of those subjects are important. So while watching Mr.N sleep the other night and wondering what he was thinking of, I started to think about how he and his brother focus on specific subjects for extended periods of time. Then it hit me, what about making Mr. C’s homeschooling more in tune with how his brain naturally works. If I lower the amount of subjects per day to just two, but increase the amount of time we spend on each of them he’d be able to get really in depth about each subject and truly master each concept and lesson we learned. It would work with his natural tendency to dive right into a subject of interest as deep as he wanted, so that he really absorbed everything he could about it.

I spoke with him, and he loves the idea of changing our homeschooling schedule to this new concept. I think that by working with his natural tendency to really immerse himself in one subject at a time for long periods of time instead of against it by having him do a little of several subjects each day that he’ll not only enjoy the academic portions of his day more, but he’ll also retain and comprehend more of them. I feel this different method will actually allow for him to learn even more than he was with our previous method, and that is the core of what homeschooling is about to me: Tailoring it to ensure he learns as much as he can in ways that work with him.


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Family Advisory Council

The children’s centre that Mr. N went to for many of his needs (speech therapy, dietitian, specialist pediatrician for ADOS testing, and ABA Therapy) and Mr. C is on the wait-list for ABA Therapy at was recently looking for parents to join their newly formed Family Advisory Council. I submitted an application and received an email a few days ago saying that due to the overwhelming response they received that there would be meet and greet appointments to determine who were the best fits for the council. 

I attended the meet and greet, and loved hearing about the goals they had for the FAC; they want to truly be “family-centred” in their care, and they want to do so by getting the whole family involved, not just in the care plans that are created for the child that uses Grandview’s services, but by offering fun events for the whole family, by offering a place where parents can connect with each other for support, for ideas, for the unique friendships that develop between parents of special needs kids. I am quite thrilled with their plans and ideas, and I truly hope that they were even half as impressed with me as I was with their visions for Grandview.

I won’t know until the 24th or 25th of March if I was selected to be a part of the council, but even if I’m not I know that the 3 women running it will choose those they truly feel will help to enrich Grandview for everyone and that makes me excited to see the great things Grandview’s FAC will be creating in the near future!

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Sometimes it’s a nice person who says a bad word…

It started as an innocent story told by a nice young man, and I was quietly smiling at the pleasant moment between him and my husband…and then there it was, one of the very few words I do NOT allow to be said in my house or near my kids “retarded”. He was speaking about how he felt someone was looking at him at that point in the story. I’m sure he didn’t actually mean that he believed they thought he was mentally challenged. He meant that they looked at him strangely, as if he was silly, unrefined, uncouth, or even loutish. I then heard a little voice say “what retarded?” Mr. N had heard him.

I called him away to talk to him, I knew he had not thought of what he was saying, especially in the context of where he was saying it. We spoke, I explained how there are very few things I’m not okay with being said in my house, but that word is certainly one of them. I watched his face change from confusion to surprise to remorseful as he listened to me explain why I am not accepting of that word being said in the way that it was.

I didn’t yell or rant, I wasn’t angry with him, not when I heard it, not when he looked surprised at first that I was saying it wasn’t allowed, not as I explained why. There was no anger in my heart because he truly is a sweet boy that adores my sons. He wouldn’t purposely hurt them, wouldn’t purposely, callously use a word society uses to mean “less than” wouldn’t degrade them by stating they were less than him. He was simply a teenager using a common slang word.

I don’t think he’ll choose that word again, I know that if it should pop into his thoughts after today his mind will conjure up a picture of my boys and what that word has the power to make society believe about those with special needs. And I know he’ll choose a different word. Because words truly do have power, power to shape how we perceive life, how we decide who is our equal, and who is not, and how we will treat both. I know he’ll choose other words that don’t demean the boys he adores, because he’s good person with a good heart, who is now more aware of why a common word should not be commonplace in our vocabularies.

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The help of a mattress…

A few months ago I went out and bought a mattress. I then threw out the couch in my living room and promptly put the mattress in the living room instead. My husband was aghast at my plan originally, after all mattresses are for bedrooms and sleeping and couches are for living rooms and sitting. But there was a theory to my outwardly odd idea…

What if Mr. N would accept physical touch more if he could slowly inch his way towards it? What if by having such a large space to sprawl on with his siblings and myself on a daily basis he would eventually become more comfortable with touching other people? What if by exposing him to the constant opportunity for physical touch he eventually started to view those opportunities as a positive thing?

So theory in mind, and a tentative hope in my heart for a time when Mr. N would be perhaps accept regular physical contact with those of us that loved him I changed our living room and made it quite an unconventional area. I bought a bunch of pillows and scattered them about the new “couch” and sprawled out. He was adamant at first that no one be touching him even a little, not a leg, or arm or torso could be in direct physical contact with anyone of us. But slowly, as the days went by it changed…First he didn’t notice when my leg was “accidentally” touching his…Still many more days passed and then one otherwise gloomy afternoon he plopped down beside me, and his whole left leg was against me, but he appeared to not notice! A few weeks went by with that being the level of contact he could handle, and believe me when I say I was thrilled with just that, but it didn’t stop there…Then it was him actively initiating contact by laying snuggled up to someone….Just last night he tried to stay up after he was told it was time for bed, what “tactic” did he use? He kept asking for kisses and of course his dad and I kept obliging!

There are still moments when he’s overwhelmed and will say “Don’t look at me” or “Don’t talk to me” and while he’s told he has to say it politely, (we are helping him to learn sentences he can use to say the same thing in a polite manner) he still has a right to vocalize how he is feeling and to decide what level of interaction he wants with someone else.

While my living room might look strange to some I don’t really care, because it has been SO worth it. Having a mattress in our living room has helped Mr. N to be okay with physical touch. While it’s not a constant yet that he actively seeks out physical touch, he does regularly seek it out now, and to finally be able to show my youngest son that I love him through touch, through snuggles and hugs and kisses upon his soft brow, all while he’s still actually awake and aware of it, that dear readers is a blessing that brings tears of joy to my eyes.

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Blurry Pictures and Clear Signs

CAM01152  I read another’s blog post today. It can be found here. What I got from it was that it was about his fears for his Autistic daughter’s future after watching two girls from the same grade not even notice her during a morning walk. As well as his hopes for his daughter’s future after attending a dinner filled with Autistic young adults.

It struck a cord with me because there are moments when I worry for my boys. I worry sometimes as I watch other children surpass them socially, I worry as I see news reports of an 11 year old Autistic girl who didn’t respond being tasered by police when found walking nude along a free-way. (Full story found here) I worry when I think of the only time Mr. C was in school (preschool) and his teacher told him he wasn’t good, that he was lacking and so many other things that tore at his fragile self-esteem which lead me to taking him out of there and choosing homeschooling instead because I didn’t want to risk him having more teachers like that. I worry when I start to think of the world as it is right now in regards to acceptance and the lip service that is often given, but real efforts not.

I was still thinking of it when I was getting Mr. N out of the bath (juice, play-doh, and stickers make one huge mess lol) as I closed the bathroom door behind us, for the first time he noticed something I’d forgotten was there; a blue index card I’d written that says “You are perfect exactly as you are” Originally I’d written it and put it on the outside of the bathroom door for the 3 children quickly getting older and noticing the media’s messages about superficial images. But he pointed at it and asked what it said. I read it to him and he smiled and said “Awe” and I asked him who it was about, he told me me it was about him, that it was his… He was right. He IS perfect exactly as he is, all of my children are, and instead of being worried about their future I’m more determined than  ever to ensure I help to change the world’s perception of Autism so that people will be more open to truly seeing them. To talk and write and do whatever it takes to help create the world I want for them, one where they and others are valued as they are, one where diversity is embraced, one where others see the value they can bring to a friendship and try to cultivate them, one that sees my boys and all people as perfect exactly as they are.



Colored water and when to join in…

I did some of my Yule shopping on eBay this year. One of the things that I bought was an add-on for the bathroom faucet. See I’ve tried many things to encourage the children to brush their teeth, but it tends to go the same “I don’t wanna” route each time. When I saw the add on that goes onto your faucet and lights up different colors as the water sprays through I couldn’t resist. Perhaps, just perhaps this might be what gets them to brush without a fuss. Well dear readers I’m thrilled to announce that it did indeed work! (At least so far while there’s still the novelty of it lol)

Water Glow LED Faucet Light with Temperature Sensor + Three Optional Colors

Tonight was my step-daughter’s Winter Holidays concert. It was extremely crowded in the gymnasium where it was taking place, parking was also highly entertaining, the closest we could find was 2 blocks from the school, and of course we didn’t bring the stroller. (We didn’t want to take up too much room inside the gym) We walked to the school, and there wasn’t even really standing room left when we got there. Eventually a person left the second row and so I quickly sat down with Mr. N on my lap. He yelled “Hi” several times when Miss. B got up on stage and she was thrilled, smiling and waving back to him. She looked lovely in her white dress with black trim, and so happy as she sang with a bright smile upon her face. Once she was done there was to be one song sung by another class and then it would be Miss. D’s class’ turn. I tried to tell Mr. N this, but he didn’t understand. He was upset and I whispered to him to look at the kids standing on the risers singing. He cried out “I wan Daaaaddy!”  I shouldn’t have believed him,  I of all people should know better, should have known it was a ploy, alas I didn’t. Since my husband was only a couple of feet away holding Miss G, I put him down as I told him it was okay to go see daddy. But go see his daddy he did NOT!

Instead he ran towards the kids singing, and got up on the risers, looked at all the kids, and then jumped off. (He’s just learnt how to jump so he’s keen to do it all the time right now) I frantically motioned for my husband, who quickly passed me Miss. G so he could try and convince Mr. N to get off the risers they were using in conjunction with the stage. As he crouched down beside the riser whisper-shouting “come here Turkey” (His nickname since he was born on Thanksgiving) Mr. N got back on and ran right through the back row of them. I watched as children balanced precariously on the back riser while trying to give Mr. N the room to run smiling past them. All the while those lovely children tried to keep singing the song they’d worked so hard on, and several parents and teachers alike tried not to laugh at the antics of my boy. Dearest husband finally got Mr. N and the show continued on without a hitch after that. Miss. D was lovely and sang with great joy as well, and Mr. N was pleased to watch her as well. Ahh yes this is our life unscripted 🙂

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