Ten Things on Tuesday from Twelve-Year-Old Taylor

Today, my son and I were driving down the road, listening to “Hippie Radio” when a song came on that I had never heard. Part of the tune was whistled. Taylor, who is twelve, said, “I like songs that have whistling in them.” I’m not sure why, but that made my whole body smile. (Do you know that feeling?) So today, I am going to share some things for which my twelve-year-old is grateful.

1. Songs with whistling in them

2. The Beatles

3. the British Invasion

4. chicken

5. Dr. Who

6. contact lenses

7. making friends

8. Mrs. Haberman (his 5th grade teacher)

9. having learned to read

10. when people accept him the way he is

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness

 

from the Declaration of Independence, United States of America

 

As I celebrate this Independence Day, I have never been more grateful for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Happy Fourth of July!

What light is to the eyes…

What light is to the eyes – what air is to the lungs – what love is to the heart, liberty is to the soul of man.
~Robert Green Ingersoll

 

On this Wisdom Wednesday, Independence Day is just around the corner here in America.  I am grateful to live in what Francis Scott Key called the “land of the free and the home of the brave.”

Simple Things

Simple Things

I happened to pass these flowers today, and went back to capture them. I have always loved flowers and I now realize that they are everywhere… even in places I would not expect them. These were just outside the restaurant where I had dinner with my children tonight. I am grateful that I have learned to notice things around me that may seem inconsequential in the moment. These simple things make my life so much richer.

When You’re Right, You’re Right

As Father’s Day comes to a close, I am thinking about all the fathers in my life.

My son, who is celebrating his second Father’s Day, has a baby girl who simply adores him.  I am proud of the dad he is, especially because he didn’t really have a role model.

When I was a teenager, my step-father sewed a skirt I ripped as I cried out of frustration.  He took me to the emergency room when I fell down a flight of stairs and split my noggin open.  And he made some killer cubed steak and gravy too!  He doesn’t sew or cook much anymore.

My brother-in-law is celebrating his first Father’s Day.  He had never held an infant until his own son was born.  By my sister’s own admission, he is a better mother than she could ever be.

My father-in-law is a wonderful man and has treated me like a daughter nearly since the day we met.  He looks out for me, sends me things he knows I would like, and takes a general interest in what’s going on with me.  (I think he likes me better than my husband.)

All kidding aside, my husband learned a lot from his dad.  I always say the line that hooked me was when my husband’s online profile listed one of his favorite things as “telling jokes that make me laugh and my kids roll their eyes.”  I always heard that the best gift a man can give his kids is to love their mother.  Well, we don’t have any children together, but my husband has certainly given his step-children the gift of loving their mother.  And I know it has been good for them.

Finally, I have been thinking about my dad all day.  He could make any situation seem better with just a few  words.  I can remember calling him late at night, because I knew he would be up… and if he wasn’t he would talk to me anyway.  He always knew just what to say.  One of the things he used to say to me, popped into my head first thing this morning.  It was usually after I had done something stupid and he wanted to let me know he was in my corner no matter what.  He would say, “You’re my daughter.  When you’re right, you’re right and when you’re wrong, you’re right.”  Now I was smart enough to know I wasn’t always right… especially in those moments.  But it sure made me feel better.

Thriving With Autism

I walk nearly every day. While I’m walking, I listen to personal growth mp3′s, webcasts, podcasts, or radio programs. As I walk and listen, I frequently begin composing my blog post for the day, often unintentionally. Tonight was no different.

Today was my youngest son’s 12th birthday. Although all children go through things as they grow and develop, some have more challenges than others. My youngest son is one of these. Fortunately, he has dealt with these challenges well.

He was initially diagnosed with generalized anxiety, ADHD inattentive type, and a short-term processing deficit. My purpose is not to get into a dialogue about labels, but to paint a picture of the struggles he was facing. Later added to his diagnoses were mild Autism and possible dyslexia.

When very young, my son wouldn’t make eye contact with anyone except immediate family. He was extremely anxious. If we drove home a different way than we usually did, he panicked. We avoided many places and situations in order to keep him calm. Like many children with Autism, my son has sensory issues such as hypersensitive senses of smell and hearing. He also has proprioceptive problems, which cause him to walk so hard that he wears holes in the bottoms of his shoes in a very short period of time, and make it difficult to do things that require balance, like riding a bike. He had great difficulty with fine motor skills such as writing and did not learn to tie his shoes until he was eleven years old. I could write a book on the difficulties my son struggled with, but I would rather celebrate his successes.

Over the years, my son has seen psychologists, psychiatrists, neurologists, naturopaths, pediatric Autism specialists, educational Autism specialists, language therapists, occupational therapists, reading specialists, and special education teachers. All of them were impressed by how much progress he has made over the years. He was essentially a non-reader in the second grade. He had a series of teachers who have helped him get close to grade level now that he will be entering sixth grade.

When my son was eight years old, I took him to an international camp for young people. Prior to attending the camp, we took him off the medication he had been on for his ADD and anxiety, at the suggestion of the facilitator. One purpose of the camp was to teach children how to face and overcome their fears. On the way home from the camp my son told me he didn’t think he needed his medicine anymore. He hasn’t been on medication since.

Socially, my son is working on things that many children with Autism must be taught more explicitly than other children (i.e, taking turns in a conversation, showing interest in other people and what they have to say). He tries to turn every conversation back to whatever he is interested in at the moment (currently it’s the Beatles). Ironically, he loves middle school. Even more ironic is the fact that he likes it for the social aspect.

Tonight at the dinner table, we were talking about the fact that my son likes older music (mostly from the sixties, seventies, and eighties). His classmates often give him a hard time about this. (I’m sure they point out his idiosyncrasies well.) He commented, “I’m just different, and that’s okay.” I know that no matter what he says, he doesn’t like being teased. I do believe that he has healthy self-esteem and realizes that the children that aren’t so nice to him are simply ignorant and rude.

In addition to his positive outlook, my son does love music. He dabbles in guitar and piano, and sings like a bird. He loves costumes and getting into character. When he likes something, he learns everything he can about it (one of the Asperger’s traits he displays)… and will tell you all about it. Above all else, he is happy. So my son is not suffering from Autism, he is thriving with Autism. And for that, I am happy.

Tutoring for a Teenager

My son needed to make up a half credit of Algebra II to complete his graduation requirements.  He attempted Credit Recovery (essentially, online summer school) for the same, with negative results.  This program leaves out one of the most important components of education, which is the aid of a human being who can diagnose problems and coach the student accordingly in real time.  

So I hired a tutor.  Incidentally, I used to tutor through an online tutoring company, so I did my search there.  As I searched for the right tutor, I found a woman I knew.  We had done some personal growth work together, so I knew her character and work ethic.  After I hired her, my son pointed out that she had been a teacher at his previous high school.  He had not been happy about getting a tutor, but knowing that this woman was going to be the one seemed to ease the discomfort for him.

Today was his first session.  It seemed so natural, as the tutor had been to our home in the past and she knew both my son and me.  She has a natural rapport with teenagers, maintaining a good balance between connecting with them as a fellow human being and maintaining authority in the situation.  

As she worked with my son, the tutor quickly spotted holes in his learning and set forth a plan of action to fill those holes and move forward.  I am so grateful for the twists and turns that brought us to this place.  My son (did I mention he was not happy about getting a tutor?) seemed very happy when she left.  He actually told me he liked her.  I am hoping this is going to facilitate his learning process. 

Three Things

Three things I am grateful for today are…

1.  It started to rain right AFTER I completed my bike ride and was in the truck heading home.

2.  The little Mexican restaurant down the street.

3.  Being able to sleep in, which I rarely do.