Monday, January 29, 2018

Please Stand By: a review from one side of the spectrum



Let me just say that I do not watch all that many autism related movies or TV shows. I write about my son’s autism and of course my son and I live it, so I do not necessarily feel the need to watch everything that hits the airwaves that either has an *autistic character or is about autism in general.

Shocking! I know!

Why do people act as if I (or any of us) am/are "performing under par" or not living up to our "parental duties" by not watching every single thing that comes out involving autism?? Are they afraid we will miss out on learning something life-changing????

Honestly, I am not 100% certain that I would have bothered to see “Please Stand By” if it were not the topic of a #MomsGoingBoldly pod cast.

Well……

there was Star Trek…….


When I do decide to watch something centering around an *autistic character, I cannot help but to compare it to my own son. Although I am happy that there seems to be a trend in featuring autism or disabilities in TV and movies recently, I am disappointed that these characters always seem to be at the same or around the same level on the spectrum, once again giving the general public a skewed/one sided idea of autism, in my opinion.

That being said and comparisons aside, I will say that:

I thought the movie was cute in parts.

I thought the movie was funny in parts.

I thought the movie was full of anxious (although very predictable) moments.

I also thought it was quite ridiculous in parts.

THE most ridiculous part of the movie for me - without giving away particulars, was when Wendy comes across a police officer who, as it turns out was one of the very few people in this movie who seemed to understand her and seemed to know how to approach her. Both having Star Trek in common, I thought the whole exchange would have been more realistic if he tried to relate to her by talking about Star Trek, the characters or episodes. The way he does relate to her certainly went right along with the Star Trek theme, but was totally over-the-top unrealistic. I think the whole encounter would have been much better served by a more realistic encounter.

It is difficult to write about this movie without getting into specifics or giving away spoilers but I will try my best not to give anything away that would ruin the movie for anyone who has not seen it yet. Of course, there were some behaviors and mannerisms of Wendy’s that I could relate to with my son:

The rules. She lived by many rules. These rules were made to help keep her safe and to help her navigate the world in and outside of the group home.
In our life there are rules; the normal every day rules that everyone lives by BUT when it is clear that my son does not understand something and no amount of teaching or explaining will make him understand, I have to make a rule. There are no gray areas for him, so I have to be very careful what I tell him or about the rules I make.
A small example (there are thousands) would be when I was teaching DC to get into the house, lock the door and call me, in the event that he arrived home before I did. I had to teach him to lock the door and not to open it for anyone.

A friend said “You are going to tell him that he is allowed to open the door for the police.”
Umm, no.
For DC there is only “You can open the door” or “you can’t open the door” – there is no in-between.

Just as "maybe" is not a word, there are no gray areas. Giving him exceptions to these rules only causes him confusion and squashes his ability to follow the rule at all.

The Routines: I have always gone out of my way NOT to live in a routine because I felt it helped him to adjust to changes and to be a little bit more flexible in his day to day. This is not to say that DC does not invent routines in his head and this is not to say that he does not follow these routines to the letter as Wendy recites and follows her routines.

The repeating of words or phrases: Wendy tends to repeat words and phrases as a mechanism to calm herself down. My son does this quite often. Loudly when he is anxious and barely audible when he is aware that he is becoming anxious and is trying to calm himself before it it escalates into something bigger.

What I liked:
I loved that Star Trek at times helped her to figure out things and the way she related it to herself and her life. Her script helped her to cope and continue on in her journey. There were other times that I thought that her script and the specific actions of a particular character were a small peek into her mind and her hopes and dreams for herself.

I loved that she loves Star Trek.

DC is very aware of Star Trek, mostly because he has me for a mother. He recognizes the characters and he certainly has his favorites. I am not sure that he understands that his favorites are all on different series or that there are many different series. Star Trek is Star Trek; it is all one big show to him.

What I did not like: This is difficult, as I do not want to give away plot points, but the biggest and most glaring bone of contention for me were the sensory overload and meltdown issues.
I am going to use an example from the TV series, Atypical to help state my case so as not to give particulars away from this movie.

There is a scene in Atypical where the mother is going to the mall and does not want to take her son because of a previous meltdown. Not that I agree with her, believe me, I do not - but that is another story (not a fan of the mother). Because he really wants to buy new clothes for a dance, he seems to have no problem with the noise, lights and crowds that caused him to have the meltdown the last time they were there. I am certainly not saying that a meltdown one day will lead to a meltdown under the same circumstances another day and obviously we can teach coping mechanisms and ways of helping to manage the over stimulation, but in both cases; Atypical and in a few instances in Please stand by, I felt it left the viewer with the impression that if something was important enough to our children, they will find a way to overcome the sensory issues that sometimes leads to a meltdown.

Yes, that may be the case some of the time and of course, we hope our kids will be able to figure out how to manage sensory overload, but the reality is that this is something that cannot always be controlled. It is not a choice.

I felt that the way it was presented could make the average viewer believe that all of this can be controlled all of the time, much like the people who tell us that “he will eat it if he’s hungry enough” – we know this is not the case.

If you want to watch a feel-good, made for TV type, Hallmark-ish movie about Autism and Star Trek, this is your movie, but please keep in mind that this is ONE person and ONE view of autism. There are many other sides – which is why we call it a spectrum.

Please note: I am writing this post the day before we record the pod cast, so much of what I am saying here may be included in the recording. This post will not publish until AFTER the pod cast is published so that I can add a link to it (Shameless plug: Moms Going Boldly). I also want to make clear that my opinions here, may be vastly different or not very different at all from Elizabeth’s opinions because, of course we are two mothers with two very different children and that is the point, isn’t it? I cannot say this enough: This character is ONE person with autism and does not reflect every person with autism.

There is so much more to discuss and I am hoping we will have the time to cover all of it - Be sure to give it a listen.

*Autistic: From ASAN - Identity First Language ~ "In the autism community, many self-advocates and their allies prefer terminology such as “Autistic,” “Autistic person,” or “Autistic individual” because we understand autism as an inherent part of an individual’s identity - 

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This blog is used for shorter posts, off topic posts and also for longer Facebook statuses. Please visit my official blog site at: Taking it a Step at a Time

Friday, January 26, 2018

Full Sentences Brought to You By Disney #FullSentencesBroughtToYouByDisney

and some languages too....

A collection of random Disney-Speak Facebook posts:

"Engle-ish"


DC (on you-tube) "Disneyland! My favorite place! Sleeping Beauty's castle"
Me: Yes I liked Disneyland too.
DC: "Cinderella's castle"
Me: Cinderella's castle is in Disney World. Whose castle is in Disneyland Paris?
Of course he told me whose castle is there but he also added
"French, not 'Engle-ish'"
I know this doesn't seem like a big deal but I'm a little bit blown away because different languages, like different states or counties are not always concepts he understands or pays attention to.

FB Statuses

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His somewhat formal way of speaking comes directly from Disney or other beloved Movies, Books and TV shows...




Me: "Hey, you forgot to share with me"
DC: (going straight for the 'formal' apology) 
"I'm sorry, 'Mother'- Don't be sad. Can you ever forgive me?"
as he shoves the last bugle into his mouth......

FB Statuses 

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Me: DC, you look tired. Did you have a good nights sleep?
DC: NOT TIRED!
Me: I'm just asking because you seem a 'little bit (!)' crabby.
DC: NOT 'CRAPPY' ANY MORE!
Me: Don't get upset, I am just asking because you don't seem yourself. Do you feel okay?
DC: I TIRED, NOT TIRED, I TIRED!
Me: So you didn't sleep well?
DC: NOT TIRED!
Me: Okay, Okay. I am only asking.
DC: "Back at the party, everyone was wondering why the lion hadn't come back with the pumpkin"
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We're done talking about this, I guess. #RandomTVLines#DisneysOutOfTheBox
#FullSentencesBroughtToYouByDisney





 Out of all of the TV shows (Barney, Doodle Bops, The Wiggles, Barney, PB&J Otter <anyone else have a problem with the name of the lake they lived on?> - did I mention, Barney?) I've been made to watch over the years (and still, really) - Out of the Box was one of the few that I didn't/don't mind.

FB Statuses

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Mother, would you be so kind to join me for lunch?  #FullSentencesBroughtToYouByDisney

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I want the chips in the 'Cub-Board' (not the cabinet, the cupboard)

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Excuse me, Mademoiselle

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DC: 'If you will excuse me', I am going to the kitchen to do the writing
#FullSentencesBroughtToYouByDisney 

FB Statuses


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6 years ago at the fair... DC meets a llama - Kuzco, of course because #EverythingIsRelated#AllDisneyAllOfTheTime
#FullSentencesBroughtToYouByDisney


FB Statuses

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Monday did not start off all that wonderfully, but we turned a corner when DC came down the stairs quoting " As long as you are under my roof, you have to follow my rules". 
Me: Where did you hear that?
DC: Zack and Cody's mother. 
See her in September. (Excitedly) Yes!!!!!
Me: Yes you sure will! I'm glad that made you happier this morning!
So. Kim Rhodes , Disney and #SPNNJ saved the morning.
#AllDisneyAllOfTheTime #FullSentencesBroughtToYouByDisney
(Fingers crossed for the rest of the morning, but it's looking up. PS: He had his computer privileges taken away last night so I think this actually might mean that he understands why and I'm not just "the mean mother" !!! )



I used this in another post,, but it fits here as well Facebook Status

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Facebook Status

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Looking at the broken glass in the sink 
Me: DC did you break a glass.
DC: it was a ‘ak-see-ent’
Me: I know but you have to tell me and not just leave it in the sink.
DC: I’m sorry, Mom. ‘I had nothing to do with it.’
(I had nothing to do with it ~ Belle’s Sing Me Story)
#FullSentencesBroughtToYouByDisney


Facebook Status

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DC runs in to the room: 
“I love you old woman”😂😂😂😂😂😂
(His “I’m sorry” tour began immediately after) 

~ Origin remains unclear, but I am putting my money on the Fox and the Hound for the "Old Woman" part of the sentence

Facebook Status

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This blog is used for shorter posts, off topic posts and also for longer Facebook statuses. Please visit my official blog site at: Taking it a Step at a Time

Saturday, January 13, 2018

These are a few of my....

"This is a Listicle Friday post for Finish the Sentence Friday's new format. This week's prompt/list: My favorite things."


I do not participate in Finish the Sentence Friday on a regular basis because if given a prompt and then asked to write; my mind usually goes blank - unless of course the subject is Halloween or Peanut Butter ; topics, it seems I am always able to write about at the drop of a hat.  After the fact, I can always think of 100 other things that I could have written about - I just cannot seem to come up with anything on the spot.

When I do participate it is usually because I had already been writing a post in my head and the similar FTSF prompt makes me sit down and finally write it down or the prompt just happens to be about something I had already written about.


Under their new format the FTSF prompt this week is a Listicle and the prompt, My Favorite Things.
"I can make a list on the fly", I said to myself. I might even make a list without adding Halloween and Peanut Butter (just know they are there, in spirit). Even though I am 100% sure that I will come up with so many other options after I hit "publish", I am happy with my choices right now.
So over and above Halloween and Peanut Butter, these are a few of my favorite things of late.



#8  Cheaters

Having to start wearing "reading glasses" about 10 years ago was just the first indication that old age was just round the bend.

Originally the glasses I wore were prescription and I always ordered the least noticeable frames that I could find. When it became apparent that I needed to wear them more often, and the glasses never seemed to be in reach when I needed them, my choices were:

Wear them around my neck so they would always be on hand when I needed them. Or buy a few pair of "cheaters" to place strategically around the house.


I chose the cheaters.



I bought a few pair that were actually pretty cute. Every once in a while I would add to my collection when a pair fell apart, or as my sight worsened and found I just did not have enough to place in every spot where I needed them.



I got so used to wearing them that I would not remember to take them off all of the time and they would all end up in the same place.




Or I'd make the mistake of looking in the mirror while wearing them (something like the shock of opening your camera app and have it open in selfie mode! ~ Not much else is quite that frightening)




Over time, the glasses began to disappear or break. (I am convinced that the lost glasses reside in the same dark hole where all of the missing socks are mysteriously sucked into). I did not want to go out and purchase more at the prices I had paid in the past for a single pair, but I also did not want to go back to the inexpensive wire rimmed glasses.

I went to my old stand by, Amazon and found these:



There is a large choice of colors and patterns. They seem pretty sturdy and they come in sets of 5 - all for the price I used to pay for just one pair! (and they are pretty cute as well!)

#7  Bengal Spice Herbal Tea from Celestial Seasonings

I have never been a fan of tea. As kids, tea along with Ginger Ale were the things my mother always gave us when we were sick. So I always looked upon both as medicinal. A couple of years ago, I decided I was drinking far too much coffee. Not being someone who likes to drink water, I would basically drink coffee all day long. After a stretch of daily headaches someone suggested that I might be dehydrated because of all of the coffee. I decided that I would stop drinking coffee - not all together, because .... lets not get crazy - but during the day at work.  I decided to try tea (decaffeinated, obviously - it's the caffeine that dehydrates). Not being a fan of tea, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Bengal Spice. It smells really good too, so if you are like me and <insert sarcasm font> "occasionally"  <end sarcasm font> leave your not so empty cup in your office overnight, it is a wonderful scent to open your door to in the morning!

#6  West Wing Weekly

I recently happened upon a Pod Cast called the West Wing Weekly.
Being the #1 fan of the West Wing (even more-so these days) - I was thrilled.


 "The West Wing Weekly" goes episode by episode. They provide a lot of back story, guests from the show, politicians who either had something to do with the issue being discussed in the episode or provide some explanation about other issues.I listen in my car to and from work and pretty much all day at work, providing me with my West Wing fix and drowning out all of the nonsense going on outside my office door.

Now I can not only binge watch The West Wing, I can binge listen too. I am in the second season of listening and they are recording the fourth. I will be disappointed when I catch up and have to wait a full week between episodes. 

#5  Coffee 

Although my coffee drinking is now supplemented with tea, coffee is still one of my favorite things. 

My mother started letting me have coffee at breakfast when I was in 3rd grade. I remember telling her one day that a teacher asked the class what we had for breakfast that morning and I included coffee in my list of breakfast items. I told her that the teacher thought it was odd. My mother then yelled "Did you tell her that I fill the cup with mostly milk?"

Well.... no. 

Quick tip: If you are trying to trick (trick being the operative word) your child into drinking milk by letting her have coffee, do not expect that child to report it that  way to the teacher.
Somewhere around the 7th grade, I started drinking it black (due to the start of my never-ending diet, I assume) and I never went back. There will never be anything like that first cup in the morning - never.

Unfortunately these days I seem to spend more time looking for my coffee than drinking it.




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#4 - "Looking Around" Weekends
For years we have always taken one big vacation, usually in January, and another smaller 5 day driving distance vacation at the end of August right before school started. With DC out of school and the changing of schedules, we have instead begun taking long weekend "Looking Around Trips". Long weekends to places in driving distance that are not always the home of a big attraction. They are less stressful and less expensive so we can go more often. We've seen many places and some pretty incredible and weird things. I find that at this moment in time, I am enjoying these mini-vacations much more than the longer bigger vacations we used to take. It is possible at some point that will change but for right now, these "Looking Around Trips", as we call them for DC's understanding of the scope of the trip, are just fine with me.

#3 - Good Friends 
I am fortunate to have friends that are willing to go all out for things that DC loves.
Whether it be Halloween, Sing-a-longs in costume, sitting through a play or even making sure that there are wings and/or garlic bread on the menu for him at any large or small event. DC and I are very grateful for the friends we have - the friends who "get him" (and me).

Given the topic of this Listicle, I could not resist adding this photo from: How do you solve a problem like......




#2  Sleep Tight

I am not sure exactly when it started, and yes it's a bit corny but I love it. DC watches TV in his room for a little while before falling asleep every night. When he decides to turn the TV off, remove his glasses and put them in their "spot", ready to go to sleep, he will call in to my room:
"Good Night, Mom", and so begins the nightly exchange:

Me: Good Night, DC
DC: Sleep tight
Me: Don't let the...
DC: Bed Bugs Bite
Both: All right!

Every . Single . Night.

It's a goofy ritual, but it's ours. It still makes me smile every night.


#1  Good Morning Mom! 
I do not know what it is. It may be just the way he says it, but my most favorite part of the day is when I go into DC's room in the morning to wake him up and the first words out of his mouth are "Good Morning, Mom". Maybe because he was non-verbal until he was 7 and I never thought I'd hear that or maybe because the way he says it is so genuine, not a script like many of the things he says on a regular basis, but I will NEVER tire of hearing it.



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This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post, hosted by Kristi of FindingNinee.com and Kenya of Sporadically Yours. This week’s Listicle prompt is “My favorite things" 

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This blog is used for shorter posts, off topic subjects and longer Facebook statuses. Please visit my official blog site at: Taking it a Step at a Time 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

More Tales From the Grocery Store

I do not know if I have ever mentioned how much I dislike grocery shopping. I really dislike grocery shopping. DC on the other hand, just loves it. It is one of his favorite things to do.

From Facebook Statuses - January 2018 -
DC and I went grocery shopping on Sunday. Grocery shopping is one of his favorite things.

He makes his list, adding the items that "he" wants to the top of the list, then he has to be prompted to add the rest of the items we need.

When we get to the register he carefully chooses “his” items and takes them out the cart first. With each and every item from the top of “his” list that comes out of the cart, he also feels the need to verify that they are actually his.

“This is for YOU” (pointing at himself because “me and you” are often confused). 

Even when he helps to carry in the groceries, he will search through the trunk for the bags that contain “his” items and has to be told that he has to help me carry the other bags too. 

Recently, we have been working on bagging (I really stink at bagging so I should really not be the one teaching this particular skill). 


Sunday; cart unloaded - items almost all scanned - I look up to see DC standing there holding just one bag, with the rest of the items just sitting there. 

He bagged his whoopie pie and was either waiting for his marker and band-aids to get scanned so he could give them their own separate bags too or he was just done since he had his treat in a bag and nothing else mattered. 




#HeIsOnlyInItForTheWhoopiePie
#WhoopiePieAKAMoonPieToSomeOfYou


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More About Grocery Shopping:

Bananas


The Grocery Store and (more about) Bananas


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This blog is used for shorter posts, off topic subjects and longer Facebook statuses. Please visit my official blog site at: Taking it a Step at a Time