Monday, December 27, 2010

The Elephant in the Room

A few posts ago I posted some pictures of my first attempt at knitting a stuffed animal. I got the pattern for it from a book. Well, over the weekend, I decided to try my hand at designing my own stuffie. Ladies and gentlemen, I present the elephant:



Friday, December 17, 2010

Guest blogging at Irish Autism Action

This week I'm, yet again, the guest blogger for Irish Autism Action's Global Autism Community. It's basically some of my views on autism and the treatments we've done.  Jen, thanks again. 

Check out Irish Autism Action's page here:

Make sure you also visit Jen's blog, The King and Eye here:

Thursday, December 16, 2010

What I want for Christmas - Special Needs Blog Hop

What do I want for Christmas? This is going to be short and sweet: I want to sleep-in, I want a nap in the middle of the day and a nice glass or two (or maybe three) of red wine while putting my feet up and admiring my tree. That's right, it's all about what I want for once.

To join the Special Needs Blog Hop, click on the image below and follow the directions.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Knit, knit, knit

 I took up knitting a few years ago for stress relief. I've really come to love doing it. I recently made my very first stuffed animal for a Philly Flyers fan along with a scarf and hat.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Irish Autism Action: Global Autism Community.

This week I'm the guest blogger for Irish Autism Action's Global Autism Community. Evidently, the video of Xander's progress over the last year has made an impression. Jen, thank you so much for featuring my sweet boy.

Check out Irish Autism Action's page here:

Make sure you also visit Jen's blog, The King and Eye here:

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Zombie Trap

The SN Blog Hop for yesterday was about the recent accomplishments of your child w/special needs. I decided that my NT kid needed to have his recent accomplishment touted as well.

I give you Spencer's Zombie Trap:

That's right, while you suckers are getting your brains eaten, I will be safe during the zombie apocalypse due to the above ingenious design by a four year old. According to Spencer, brains are used to lure them up a ladder, they fall into a pit (camouflaged by a fake building) and then it's like shooting fish in a barrel. Our plan is foolproof though we still haven't decided whose brains will be the bait.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Xander's Accomplishments

What has Xander accomplished? So much. I could write pages and pages about the first time he said a spontaneous, appropriate complete sentence, learned to read, said, "I love you" first. Xander accomplishes so much everyday just by learning to adapt and deal with a world that has a different view from him. He teaches me patience, he gives joy. Below is a link to a video of how much Xander accomplished over the last year and a half. He works so hard.

To join the Special Needs Blog Hop, click on the image below and follow the directions.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

That Man

Two blogs in one day. I'm feeling a bit ambitious today. I spend all my time talking about two of the three most important men in my life so here's a little snippet about Andy, the love of my life, my husband. I'm not someone who gushes; however, he's one of the most fantabulawesome people I know.

Andy and I met in 1992 and have been together ever since. He is, without a doubt, one of the most patient people I know. Anyone who could tolerate me for almost 19 years is a saint. (Yeah, yeah, I hear ya' Mom, but he does it 'cause he wants to, not 'cause he has to.) He's funny, cynical, handsome, INTELLIGENT, and is an awesome artist and writer. He, much like myself, is a connoisseur of potty humor and sci-fi. His fathering abilities are second to none. He doesn't half-ass it in any way. Oh, and bonus, he has a nice butt. I think his only flaw is his love for me (and his crap eyesight).

Here is some of his work from his website, Please keep in mind these images are copyrighted and owned by Andy, blah, blah blah. You can click on the images to go to that particular comic.

Grace Brothers

The Super-Hip, Gnarly, Rad Catz

Stuffing Yourself Silly Day

I don't have a particular memory about Thanksgiving which is strange because it's my favorite family holiday. I love the idea of spending the day with just family and none of the pressure or chaos of X-mas. Since I can't think of anything in particular, I will take this opportunity to show how frakkin' adorable Xander looked after eating his fill Thanksgiving '07.

For info on joining the Special Needs Hop, click the image below.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Share the Funny

So, today's assignment for the Special Needs Hop is to share a funny memory of your kid. We were watching TV when out of the blue Xander says, "I want a mobile dick. Can I have a mobile dick when I grow up?" Andy and I were perplexed. Being male, it goes with him wherever he goes. That's about as mobile as you can get. We decided to delve a little deeper.

"Xander, what did you you say you want?"

"Mobile dick on a AT&T Blackberry Torch when I'm a grown-up."

Hmmm. Being unaware of that particular app, we decided to rewind the DVR to see if it could offer any clues. We came across a Blackberry Torch commercial about searching for Moby Dick.

"Xander, do you want MOBY Dick on a Blackberry?"


We're still giggling about it.

For info on joining the Special Needs Hop, click the image below.

Friday, November 5, 2010

What do I love about Spencer?

Yesterday I answered the question, "What do you love about your child?" for the Special Needs blog hop. I decided that Spencer deserves to have a post about him as well.

What do I love best about Spencer? Again there's so much, his enthusiasm, his sweetness; however, I have to say his sense of humor and ability to be funny without meaning to are my favorite things. I figure I need to revisit an earlier blog post from May for a good scenario.
  • Spencer: "Frisbees are bad guys you need to hit with a bat or they'll eat your eyeballs and you become a frisbee."
  • Me: "You mean zombies?"
  • Spencer: "Oh, you're right, zombies." 
First of all, I'm thinking he might be a goner in a zombie apocalypse and second he still gets Frisbees and zombies confused.

Spencer also creates his own words. He's a modern day Shakespeare. His newest word is "binachios" (hard "c" sound) defined as crazy.
  • That coaster was totally binachios.
  • He was acting all binachios.
  • What? That's binachios.
 Spencer is constantly on. He loves to entertain. Now, some of you might think it's because he doesn't get attention because of Xander's special needs. You'd be wrong. Spencer actually gets MORE attention because he demands it more and he gets more alone time with me than Xander.

11/6/10 CORRECTION: Per Spencer, the word is not "binachios", it's "binanchios". I made the mistake of leaving out the second 'n'. Spencer has properly chastised me for such a horrific omission.

12/3/10 Update: Spencer has designed a zombie trap, so I think he'll be ok.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What do I love about Xander

This weeks Special Needs Blog Hop question: What do I love best about Xander? Hmmm...I don't know that I have a favorite. His sweetness and smile are definitely up there. I guess one of my favorite things about him is his absolute honesty. What you see is what you get. When he laughs, he is happy; when he cries, he is sad or hurt; when he yells, he is angry. I never have to guess; it's always there in his face or actions. His lack of filter is also one of the things I dislike. It can be a double-edged sword. Here's an example of an average outing:

Scenario: We are at the mall. A woman with three children is trying to navigate the crowds while keeping her kids under control. A daunting task at the best of times. The oldest two are arguing and the baby is screaming at the top of his/her lungs. I completely sympathize. In steps Xander:
  • Me: It's ok, Xander.
  • Me: Don't worry about it, Xander.
  • Me: Xander, you need to use your inside voice.
  • Xander: (yelling whisper)THAT BABY IS LOUD AND ANGRY.
  • Me: Xander, what kind of car do you like?
  • Me: Sure.
He'll then perserverate on driving several different cars when he grows up. It's one of the only ways I can redirect him.

For info on joining the Special Needs Hop, click the image below.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dealing w/Stress: Special Needs Blog Hop

How do I deal with stress? Good question, probably better asked of my husband. I knit, cook, watch TV, surf the web, do whatever I can to escape just for a little while. Between family and friends, I'm extremely lucky to have a support system that offers me relief if I really need it. I basically throw the boys at Andy when he comes home from work. That man never catches a break.

My favorite time of the day is 8:30 PM. The boys are in bed and Andy and I can relax on the sofa with our feet up and a glass of wine or cup of herbal tea. The time of day I dread the most? 6:45 am. That's when the damned annoying alarm tells me to get up and start all over again.

I don't know that I really answered the question. Let's just say I relieve stress with friends, family and the occasional glass of wine.

For those of you in the Tidewater area, the 2nd Annual Tidewater Autism Summit is this Saturday from 11am to 4pm. It's absolutely free and open to the public. Here's a link to the flyer with all the information:

Friday, October 22, 2010

Xander Takes a Ride with Surfers Healing

Every year an amazing group travels around the country and world to provide people with autism and their families a fantastic day at the beach. The group is called Surfers Healing. It is made up of incredible volunteers who do everything from checking people in to taking people with autism surfing. The families and their children are treated with respect. It's a safe haven where there are no judgements, only love, joy and acceptance. For more information on Surfers Healing, click on the picture of Xander and Izzy from 2008.

This was Xander's 4th year and it was the first time he actually put his feet on the board. In the past, he would lift his feet up so his surfer would have to carry him the entire time. Another wonderful year.

Thank you, Surfers Healing, for all you do!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Who am I? Special Needs Blog Hop 2

I've hooked up on a Special Needs Blog Hop and am really enjoying the different blogs I've discovered through it. I was, as always, a little unclear as to what I was supposed to do. I posted the button and answered the question of the week in the comment section for Autism Learning Felt. Oops. It seems I was to blog the answer.

So here goes: Who am I?
Good question. I'm not sure I have the answer myself. I am a wife, mother of two who enjoys potty humor much more than I should and am seriously in need of a nap . I'm fiercely loyal. I was recently diagnosed with ADD. This comes as no surprise to anyone who knows me. My husband is fantastic and somehow manages to tolerate Spencer and me with quite a sense of humor. Xander, my 7yr old, is basically Andy with autism. Spencer, my 4yr old, is me only male, more enthusiastic and much smarter. Click HERE for a better understanding of my boys.

What is my blog about?
Honestly, it's a mixed bag. I just blog when something strikes my fancy or pisses me off. A good portion of it deals with autism.

To join the Special Needs Blog Hop, click the picture below and follow the instructions.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I like Stephanopoulos

Spencer and I were watching GMA this morning. George Stephanopoulos was interviewing Mayor Daley of Chicago and I made a comment about how charismatic Mayor Daley is. Spencer responded with, "I like Stephanopoulos." I was a little taken aback, first, because he could pronounce "Stephanopoulos" with such ease and second, because he knew who "Stephanopoulos" was. Here's the conversation that followed.

Me: "Ok, why?"
Spencer: "Because Stephanopoulos is cool."
Me: "What makes him cool?"
Spencer: "He's wearing a fancy shirt."
Me: "Is that all?"
Spencer: "And I like his eyes and he's wearing a purple tie."
Me: "Anything else?"
Spencer: "Nope."
Me: "Fair enough."

So, Mr. Stephanopoulos, it seems you have a fan in a 4yr old boy. Rock on, George.

Blogging for Autism

Tammy from the Autism Learning Felt has a great idea about blogging for autism. I won't be silent; however, I will be blogging. Check it out by clicking on the picture below:

Friday, October 15, 2010

Hot Buttons

I blatantly stole this quote from jillsmo's blog, Yeah, Good Times.

"Try to keep up: The dehumanizing bigotries that fall from the lips of “faithful Christians,” and the lies about us that vomit out from the pulpits of churches that “faithful Christians” drag their kids to on Sundays, give your children license to verbally abuse, humiliate, and condemn the gay children they encounter at school. And many of your children—having listened to Mom and Dad talk about how gay marriage is a threat to family and how gay sex makes their magic sky friend Jesus cry—feel justified in physically abusing the LGBT children they encounter in their schools. You don’t have to explicitly “encourage [your] children to mock, hurt, or intimidate” queer kids. Your encouragement—along with your hatred and fear—is implicit. It’s here, it’s clear, and we’re seeing the fruits of it: dead children."  -  Dan Savage    

Homophobia and bullying are two of my biggest hot buttons. Both piss me off to no end.

This is one of my new favorite PSA's. It is NSFW if your work doesn't allow swearing. Sorry if you're offended....not really.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Autism is not an excuse...

Xander was puh-issed at me yesterday morning. We made the decision that he needed to start eating in the kitchen (which he hasn't done in over a year). He kicked, screamed and then tried to injure himself, first with a pen, then with his toast and finally by hitting himself. Not happy in the least. He finally calmed down some and ate his breakfast while bitching the whole time. I was so happy when the school bus came. Thank goodness he has a wonderful bus driver who won't let him get away with anything.

One of my big pet peeves is someone using his/her child's autism as an excuse for bad behavior. There's a difference between misbehaving and autistic behavior. Xander was misbehaving when he fought, kicking and screaming, eating in the kitchen. He reacted with autistic behavior, which was self-injury. I'm not doing Xander any good by letting him get away with things because of the way he might react. I still made him eat at the table last night and today knowing he may have an adverse reaction. It can be very difficult because I hate it when he has a melt-down. I still stick to my guns.

I never punish Xander for sensory reactions. He can't handle certain sounds and he can't control that. I love that he flaps and spins when he's happy or excited. He can, however, control how close he gets to people or how loudly he speaks. I just need to remind him, nicely but firmly, that he shouldn't touch people he doesn't know or yell loudly about how the boy in the next aisle needs a time-out (which I think is hilarious, but I don't let him know that). I wouldn't let Spencer get away with such behaviors so why should I let Xander?

I'm sorry if this seems like a lecture; I live in an area with a large autism community and there are parents that allow their children to get a way with anything because they have autism. I understand it's hard, BELIEVE me, I do; however, letting a child grab people's food or throw things on the floor at a store because one is afraid of his/her child's reaction is rewarding bad behavior. A neurotypical child will do the same thing if they think they can get away with it with no repercussions. I absolutely agree with Temple Grandin that teaching a child good manners is one of the most important things you can do for him or her.
Xander ate dinner in the kitchen last night and for breakfast this a.m. with no fight. He was a little annoyed when we made him wait 'til everyone else was done before excusing him.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Pray for Tina

Tina Nealon Ilapit is a mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend and my cousin. She has been with the love of her life, Bruce, since she was 13. They celebrate their 20th anniversary this year. She has 2 beautiful children, Quinn, who will be 11 in a few days and Laina, who is 9. She is beautiful, generous and a joy to be around.

She is fighting for her life.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 24 and again at 31. The first time took a lump, the second time took both her breasts. The threat of cancer returning took her ovaries and uterus. In May of this year, it took a good chunk of her liver when she was diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer. She is 39. Cancer has been stealing pieces of her for the last 15 years. She has suffered through all of this with dignity and grace. Her thoughts are for her family and friends.

Here is my request to you:
Pray for Tina

Pray for her family, pray for her friends. It doesn't matter if you're religious or not, good thoughts go a long way for healing. You might not know her, but she could be your mother, your sister, your daughter, your wife, your cousin. She is in the hospital right now fighting and needs all the positive energy she can get. Her body may be frail, but her will is strong. She is amazing and I love her.

Update 2/19/11:
Tina passed away yesterday evening surrounded by her family. Thank you for all the well wishes.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Surfers Healing 5k Fundraiser

Surfers Healing is non-profit organization that offers a free day of surfing to those with autism. It is funded solely by donations and is run by AMAZING volunteers. The families are treated with dignity and love. Our 7yr old son, Xander, has participated in the camp 3x and this will be his 4th. We have been so grateful to this day of non-judgement, where Xander can be himself and people actually celebrate his awesome quirks. Please donate if you're able.

I was able raise $720. Thank you so much for all your support.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Tip a Cop

Hey all. I know I haven't been great about blogging. Lots going on.

My cousin, Tina, has stage four cancer and there's a fundraiser going on to help her and her family. Her husband, Bruce is a police officer and his fellow officers have come together to help. Please watch the story below and help if you can.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Better View of Xander's Progress

I know, I know. More video? Yes. This is actually a better look at Xander's progress over the last year. It's pretty drastic.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Lights, Camera, Xander!

I've started to document Xander's progress over the last few months. I'll be adding more from his earlier years. He can't have a true conversation with anyone;however, he's getting better at answering questions with complete sentences.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Frisbee Apocalypse

My conversation with Spencer last night:

Spencer: "Frisbees are bad guys you need to hit with a bat or they'll eat your eyeballs and you become a frisbee."

Me: "You mean zombies?"

Spencer: "Oh, you're right, zombies."
I fear for my child's survival in the coming zombie apocalypse

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April is Autism Awareness Month

Hey all. I know, I'm a very lazy girl. I don't have much to say right now. Just wanted to remind everyone that April is Autism Awareness Month. Here's the link to the Autism Society of America : . You can find information on chapters local to your community here. I recommend you attend a function in your area if you can. You'll see how amazing these people are.

Monday, March 22, 2010

What the...?

I went to our monthly high school get-together on Saturday night. Pictures were taken, food was eaten, drinks were imbibed. Fun was had by all. I look at the pictures people have posted from get-togethers past and I compare them to this get-together. My first thought, "What the...?"

A year ago I was 20lbs lighter and looked 10yrs younger. I was exercising six days a week, eating healthy food. Now I've reverted into a lazy, tired blob who barely has the energy to take a shower in the morning. My excuses? "My ankle is hurt; I had a medical incident that threw me off; I don't feel like it." Damn, I just gave myself away, the truth is I just haven't felt like it.

I need to get over it. I have a 4yr old and a 6yr old with special needs. I not only want, but I need to be there for them. I want to be there for the ups, the downs, the all arounds. My mother lost her father when she was 8yrs old and it is one of the defining incidents of her life. My grandfather was only 45 and he died from a massive coronary. I don't want Spencer or Xander to grow-up without me. I don't want Andy to have to be a father AND a mother.

This is my promise to my boys and myself, I will take better care of myself. I will not leave you without a mother or wife because of something within my power. Alright, it's time to stop bitching about the way I feel and look. It's time to get off my ass and get to work.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

I'll do it my way, thank you very much.

As I previously mentioned, my oldest has autism. Just a few things I'd like to say on the subject. NOT ALL CHILDREN ON THE SPECTRUM ARE THE SAME. Look, I know I'm yelling, but hell, I'm getting so tired of people on all sides. As a parent you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. I very rarily go to autism sites on the web because people are SO nasty or militant. Everyone thinks they have the answer and their answer is the only one. People for or against biomedical treatments, people who think you're abusing your child if you vaccinate, people who think you're abusing your child if you don't vaccinate. Do this, do that, don't do this, don't do that. BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH.

Woe-is-me-ers - If you make your life only about autism and how horrible it's been for you, you will alienate yourself and make living joyless. I understand the fear and grief you go through when your child is going through evaluations and is ultimately diagnosed with ASD. One day you have certain dreams and expectations and the next they are altered significantly. Grieve for those dreams, you deserve it; however, at some point you've got to wipe the tears away and get to work. We don't do our amazing children any good by wallowing in self-pity. Remember, we can and should still have dreams and expectations.

"I am so sorry." Don't be, I'm not. This is a common response when I tell someone Xander has autism. I understand that it can be very uncomfortable for people and they have no idea what to say. Don't say "I'm sorry." My child is not a tragedy. Ask me questions. I have no problem discussing ASD. I want people to be informed. Xander has autism; however that's not what he is. He is a phenomenal reader, hates math, is a great cuddler, can tell you the make and model of any car. He is beautiful, he has a sense of humor, he loves to be tickled. He is sweet and wonderful. He teases his brother, ON PURPOSE.

"Why aren't/are you doing Gluten Free/Casein Free?" Tried it, didn't work. Xander doesn't have gut issues. There are many it works for, but NOT EVERYBODY.

"Must've been the vaccines that did it." Nope, try again. Xander is not vaccine injured; he has infantile autism, not regressive. Looking back at videos of him as an infant, I can see signs as early as 5-6 months. I do believe there are children that maybe vaccine injured but not ALL of them.

"Make sure you give him supplements." Tried it, worked a little, he stopped eating and drinking certain things because he suspected the supplements were in it so what's the point? Plus, they're very expensive, upwards of hundred bucks a month.

"You need to chelate." We did it. Had some results, nothing life changing.

"What has worked for you?" I understand that many people out there are all about biomedical treatments, but they really didn't do much for us. I gotta say, the most effective treatment we've done is Berard AIT. We saw changes within 24 hrs and are still seeing improvements. The increase in his language skills and eye contact is amazing. Facial expression recognition therapy was another treatment that helped a lot. He is much better at recognizing peoples emotions. The treatments that seem to work best for him are those that involve interaction with other people, for example, OT, speech therapy, being in an inclusion classroom.

I'm not looking for a cure for my boy. I really like him the way he is. I love the way he flaps and jumps when he's excited. This means he's happy. I just want to give him, to the best of my and his ability, the skills that will carry him through a happy and productive life. Isn't that what any of us want?

People can tell me what I should  or shouldn't do, but in the end, I'll do it my way, thank you very much.

Friday, February 26, 2010


I am sitting in my den. There is no TV on. There are no children awake. The husband is in bed. It is quiet. Weird. I have not experienced this in a very long time. I really have nothing else to say. I guess I will be quiet now.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Spencer says:

Spencer loves to talk, A LOT. Yes, I know what you all are thinking, "Really? You have child that likes to talk? I would've never guessed." Are you all done with your sarcastic thoughts? Good, let's move on. I figure I might as well post Spencerisms every once in a while.

Before you read on, I must warn you, I very rarely censor myself. This means I write without thought for delicate sensibilities. This is not the blog for you if you're offended by occasional potty humor or crassness. I'm not saying that I'll be dropping "F-bombs" or talking about bodily functions constantly, I'm just saying it's going to happen sometimes and probably without warning or apology. Stop shaking your head Mama.

Here are a few Spencerisms. They are short and sweet.
"I run fast because I have a penis." I had no idea. I really would have thought this would be a hinderance, aerodynamically speaking.

"That is surprise!" Spencer's definition of "surprise" is "awesome", so next time you see something awesome think of Spencer and say, "That is so surprise." All the cool almost 4 year olds are saying it.

Monday, February 15, 2010

I love my boys.

I have two sons. One is 6; one is almost 4. One has autism; one does not. One is Xander; one is Spencer. They are polar opposites.

Xander is the 6 year old with autism. He is painfully sweet. There is something about him that makes me hold my breath. I have an overwhelming need to protect him. Everyone who meets him seems to catch this same desire. He is beautiful, tall with big, staring brown eyes and a mop of blond curls that beg to be touched. His autism gives him an innocence and honesty that isn't present in other children his age. When he laughs, he is happy; when he cries, he is sad or hurt; when he yells, he is angry. I never have to guess; it's always there in his face or actions. He is my cuddler.

SpencerSpencer, obviously, is the soon to be 4 year old. He is also very sweet; however, he is also VERY mischievous. He is smarter than me, much smarter. I have to remind myself that he is 4. I also feel the need to protect him, most often from himself. He is also beautiful and tall. There is no name for the color of his eyes. They are blue and/or green and/or gray and/or golden. Sometimes they are all four. His hair is blond and uncontrollable, often like him. He is charming and loves everyone he meets. He has no preconceptions other than the expectation that you will love him as much as he loves you. He is quick to show you his "cool tricks". He is my entertainer.

Xander and Spencer are typical brothers. They play, they laugh, they fight. Xander is usually the one on the receiving end. This is good because Spencer forces Xander to stand-up for himself. Having Spencer is the best thing we ever did for Xander. Had Xander been diagnosed before we got pregnant with Spencer, there would have been no Spencer. What a tragedy that would have been for all of us. He makes Xander play with him; he requires Xander to engage with him; he does not allow Xander to withdraw. Spencer, in many ways, is Xander's biggest advocate without even trying.

I love my boys.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Hello? Snow.

Xander in the SnowReally I have nothing of great value to discuss. I figure I can use this blog to organize my often chaotic thoughts on whatever.

Snow, snow, snow. This is the first big snow in Hampton Roads in over 20 yrs. I love living near the beach; however, I wish we would get one nice snow a year. There's something magical about the softness and lightness. Spencer and Xander absolutely love it.