Little Songbird

Kris Robin Today we went by the dress store to pick up my daughter Emily’s pageant dress. I had chosen a dress shop close to where we lived, though to call it a shop would have been a bit of a stretch. It was a storage building attached to the side of a trailer. Off to the side stood the Woodrow Wedding Chapel – yet another storage building where happy couples could walk down the aisle after renting a wedding dress. An orange tabby was asleep on a bale of hay by the front door. A little girl’s white dress was draped over the bushes in the sunshine. It really didn’t look like the place to rent a pageant dress, but I had been lucky enough to find one for Emily there last week. With shoes, however, I had no luck anywhere. I had to wonder at my rotten luck…

April Is Autism Story Sharing Month on TPGA

April is Autism Awareness month. And every day during the month of April, TPGA would like to share an autism perspective: yours. As members of the autism community, we know that awareness is only a first step. Increased awareness brings opportunities to share our experiences and strive for what people with autism deserve: understanding, and acceptance. If you’d like to participate, please send us a short essay on one thing you want readers to know about autism — as it relates to you.  Share what you’ve experienced or witnessed. Tell readers about a formative experience; something joyful, or a brief moment of despair. Share your hopes, dreams, past, or future. Anecdotes laced with humor — however dark though not mean-spirited — are especially appreciated. You are welcome to submit a previously published item, or one you’d like to republish elsewhere. And if you feel self-conscious about your writing, please know…

Parenthood: Telling Your Child about Asperger’s

How do you tell your child he has autism? Or, how do you tell your child he has autism when perhaps you are just hearing the information for the first time too? We asked some questions on our TPGA online community page and got some great answers. We also asked whether our community would be watching NBC’s, Parenthood last week when the topic was a featured story. A young boy, Max (Max Burkholder) discovers he has Asperger’s when he hears his father Adam (Peter Krause) yelling at his Uncle Crosby. Adam shouts “Get it through your thick skull, your nephew has Asperger’s!” Looking down from the stairs, Max says, “I have Asperger’s? What is…Asperger’s?” Stunned, the adults were speechless. In the storyline, the parents, Adam and Kristina (Monica Potter) have apparently known for a while that their son has Asperger’s but decided he was too young to be told about…

Profound Lessons from Asperger’s Syndrome

Sam Keller www.scrappysam.com It was the night of the Volunteer Appreciation Dinner at our church. As the pastor’s wife, I am generally required to attend these sorts of things with the unspoken expectation to always smile, be nice, and glow with the joy of the Lord, even if I have to, dare I say … fake it. I was running late that evening, overwrought with juggling three kids, sports practice, and a cranky baby. My plastered-on smile thinly hid tears of frustration leaking out my nose. As I stood and perused the room full of familiar faces, the tension in my spirit only clogged my throat more. I felt like an intruder interrupting a play in the second act. The crowd was engaged in conversation and gaiety and I felt like I was barging in with a bag full of awkward. I stood on the outside, trying to find the…

Cycles of Grief and Parenting a Child With Special Needs

Jennifer Minnelli, M.S., CCC-SLP  www.autismsphere.com The grief process, for a parent coming to terms with having a child with special needs, differs from the grief process that one might undergo with the death of a close family member. At a certain point, with a death, there is the finality of the headstone, and the cold absence of that dearly beloved person. However, with a child with special needs, parents and siblings can cycle through the different parts of the loss, depending on what is going on developmentally with the child, and what is going on within the family or the community. Here are some examples of the Stages of Grief (Kübler-Ross) married with my own personal self-talk: Denial: “This is not my child. She can do what you’re asking, under the right conditions. No way is my child in the same developmental category as that. I completely disagree with the…

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For the 85% of Us Who Can’t Work

Clay http://cometscorner-clay.blogspot.com I can’t say I’m surprised to learn that most autistics have a great deal of difficulty getting, and maintaining a job for more than six months. I believe it, because I know just how hard it has been for me. I saddled myself with a wife and two kids before I even got out of the Navy, and for quite a while, the subject of my wife getting a job wasn’t even discussed, because our generation wasn’t much into that. Instead, I took whatever job I could get, starting as a low paid parts clerk, until I accepted my stepfather’s offer of helping me get a job at an iron ore mine, (which paid much more). After I recovered from a huge accident, I returned and worked there for another three years. They gave me some hard and nasty jobs for awhile, such as wrestling with 55 gallon…

The First Rule of Autism Club

Amy Greatbanks www.ishouldhavecalledhimcalvin.wordpress.com  If you have seen the film Fight Club, then you most likely know that the first rule of Fight Club is “we don’t talk about Fight Club.” When we got hit between the eyes with the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder for our son in December 2007, we had no idea we were joining such a large club. The sensation of knowing for certain that my heart-achingly precious, adorable, vulnerable child had autism was soul-crushing. And all I wanted to do was say it out loud. If we don’t give voice to this condition, we do the ones we love the most a great disservice. So many people with autism don’t have a voice of their own. That is why I vowed that my first rule of autism club was that we do talk about autism club. Almost every day I speak to someone about my child…

Looking Back, Looking Forward: What’s Next for The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism

The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism (TPGA) started with a brainstorm in a California parking lot May 27, 2010. We published our first post 9 days later, on June 6: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism (TPGA) is the book and website we wish had been available when our children with autism were first diagnosed. We want to help people with autism and their families make sense of the bewildering array of available autism treatments and options, and determine which are worth their time, money, and energy. Think of us as a little bit of Snopes for the autism community — trusted, accurate, and friendly. Our essays will cover informed approaches to autism and autism treatments, as well as the personal experiences of people with autism and their families. Our attitude is cautionary yet loving — we’re honest, but we’re not interested in negativity. We — the TPGA editors —…

Welcome to the Club

An Open Letter to a Friend Jess at Diary of a Mom www.adiaryofamom.wordpress.com My Dear Friend, I am so sorry for your pain. Don’t worry; no one else sees it, I promise. To the rest of the world, you’re fine. But when you’ve been there, you can’t miss it. I see it in your eyes. That awful, combustible mixture of heart-wrenching pain and abject fear. God, I remember the fear. I see it in the weight of that invisible cloak that you wear. I remember the coarseness of its fabric on my skin. Like raw wool in the middle of the desert. You see, it was mine for a time. I never would have wanted to pass it on to you, my love. I remember so well suffocating under the weight of it, struggling for breath, fighting to throw it off while wrapping myself in its awful warmth, clutching its…

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The Autism Path

Jean Winegardner www.stimeyland.com I feel that when I got my son Jack’s autism diagnosis, it was as if I had been given directions to a trail head that started us down a path. The path was different than the one I’d planned on and this path was rockier than the one I left behind, but still, it was a path. Walking along this autism path was better than milling around aimlessly in a meadow, unable to find a trail head of any sort. When I think of Jack’s autism and where it takes us, I can actually see this path in my mind. It is made up of dirt and rocks and it winds through and up a mountain pass. I’m walking it with Jack, and my other children walk on either side of me. Sometimes the rocks in our path cause only Jack to stumble, but sometimes they are…