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Overwhelming Numbers

Posted by on 10:47 pm in Special Needs Parenting | 0 comments

Overwhelming Numbers

So, I’m at this blogging conference that’s supposed to start in 10 minutes, and for some reason, they aren’t letting us into the room. They have us mingling in a small hallway with wine and food and tables, all I’m assuming, to facilitate networking. I find it overwhelming, overstimulating, and downright uncomfortable. Since I’m an adult, I can opt out. I can come sit here in the lobby and keep my eye on the door. I can disengage with the people around me and play on my iPad instead. No one tells me that I have to go mingle, that I have to go talk. I have a choice. But I have to wonder: is this what it’s like for my kid every time we take him to school or therapy? Is this why he walks into the classroom with a blanket on his head? There’s only one or two other kids in the class when he gets there, but is even this few sometimes too overwhelming? And my child is a child. He doesn’t have a choice. He doesn’t get to say that this is too much, that this is too hard, that he’s going to wait until the crowd shrinks to a more manageable (or at least more spread out) size. All he can do is throw a blanket on his head. Share this:Share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)MoreClick to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new...

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Getting Out and Mingling

Posted by on 3:38 pm in Misc | 0 comments

Getting Out and Mingling

I am not a people person. Don’t all fall over in shock at once. I’m not the kind of person that does well with strangers. Oh, I fake it just fine, but I’m very uncomfortable and spend the entire time trying to remember words. So I can talk. Needless to say, networking is not my strong suit and conferences (where I’m not a speaker) are, in my opinion, a tiny slice of what Hell might look like. But, life is about growth and challenging yourself, and today I’m going to take on a big challenge. I’m going to a conference for moms. Alone. There will be no Tricia or Jessica to hide behind and let them do all the talking. This is not going to be about writing children’s books so I can’t just slip into the comfortable jargon of voice and genre and Hero’s Journey plotting. These moms are most likely the parents of neuro-typical children, so no one’s going to be comparing interventions or ATEC scores. These are normal moms of normal kids who have businesses of some kind that they will want to discuss. It all sounds terrifying. But, I am determined to do this. After all, the first session at MomCom 2014 is entitled “Embracing Scary,” and that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I will talk to strangers and compare parenting horror stories. And by the time this conference ends tomorrow, I suspect there won’t be so many strangers after all. How are you challenging yourself this weekend? Let me know I’m not alone.   Share this:Share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)MoreClick to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new...

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The New “I Don’t Love You”

Posted by on 9:09 pm in General Parenting | 0 comments

My child gets mad at me. My child gets mad at me a lot. At bedtime. When we turn off the X-box. When we have to go to school (aka therapy). Pretty much any time he doesn’t get his way. Let’s face it. The kid is effectively three and a half behaviorally. This age isn’t known for its fantastic coping skills. Last night, though, my child had a new response for me at bedtime. I had turned off the lights, tucked him in, gotten him his stuffed animals and a drink, and left him to sulk. As I walked away, I told him that I loved him. “No,” he grumbled back with his little arms crossed and the biggest pouty face. “Don’t love me.” It was all I could do not to bust out laughing. “Oh, buddy,” I said. “You don’t get to choose. Mommy gets to love you whether you want her to or not.” Share this:Share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)MoreClick to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new...

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A Little Morning Sunshine

Posted by on 7:25 pm in General Parenting, Special Needs Parenting | 0 comments

This morning child came to get me up with a cheerful, “Mommy, Mommy, sun come up.” I agreed that it had. “Mommy, you want come play x-box with me?” I had two edits, a couple of websites to update, and it sure would be nice if I could ever write again, but when faced with such a polite, articulate and optimistic question, how could I say no? Share this:Share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)MoreClick to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new...

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Why I Couldn’t Write About Parenting for a Month

Posted by on 10:22 pm in Guilt, Special Needs Parenting | 0 comments

Last month, I was all set to start blogging 2-3 times a week. I even managed to do it for one whole week — the week I was away from home when my uncle had a heart attack. In many ways, that was a magical week. I’d driven to Dallas at the last moment in a bit of a panic. My husband and I had been in San Antonio the week before, and we hand’t even been home for half an hour before I had to get back on the road for Dallas. I had expected to find my uncle on death’s door, but instead hung out with a man in great spirits who went back to work three days later. I had expected the week to be a wash, work-wise, and yes, I did spend nearly the whole week in and out of meetings. But, I also had whole mornings or afternoon free to just write or blog or whatever. I haven’t been that productive in years. That week was a wonderful liberating experience. Oh, I missed my husband and kid, but I got to FaceTime with them every night. It was the best of both worlds: lots of me time to myself, and evening conversations when my kid was being cute. No meltdowns (of the adult or toddler variety). No whining (again of the adult or toddler variety). No worries. After that week, I started the four hour drive back to Austin. And as I passed downtown, I started to cry. I was not crying because of horrendous traffic — although Dallas traffic, especially right there can be bad. No, I was crying because I was going home back to my life. How depressing is that? And my life isn’t that upsetting. Thinking about it doesn’t normally make me cry. My family doesn’t normally make me cry. (Don’t get me wrong, they can be incredibly trying, but most of the time, they don’t inspire tears.) And of course, that then inspired the guilt. It’s taken me about a month to come to terms both with the feeling of relief I’ve had every time I’ve had to travel back to Dallas since then, and the intense guilt I feel because of this relief. The result of this self-reflection has led me to the following two conclusions: I need to be taking more time for myself. Clearly, if I was getting more me time, I wouldn’t feel so relieved when I do get some extended time for myself. I have started trying to carve out at least a half hour a day when I’m not working but am alone. (I get plenty of work time these days, but that is definitely not ME time.) I have to accept my guilt for what it is: an emotional response. I can’t really control how something makes me feel, but I can control how I respond. I’ve decided to chose to not let the guilt overwhelm me anymore. Instead, I am trying to confront it and move on.  On a more concrete, less abstract, note, that means I’m doing things like writing about it here. Doing this has helped me tremendously, but I’m always up for more recommendations. Any other suggestions? Share this:Share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on...

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Following a Dream

Posted by on 9:10 am in Travel | 0 comments

For years, I worked at BookPeople, the huge independent bookstore here in Austin. One day while waiting for the elevator, I spotted Kathleen Peddicord’s book, How to Retire Overseas. I’m not sure why I picked it up since I’m not exactly retirement age, but I did and I even bought the copy and took it home. It has always been a dream of mine to travel around Europe, South America, and parts of Asia. The life of a long-term guest in certain areas has always appealed to me. At the time though I had a nine month old, and I had no desire to lug him around the planet. “When he’s three,” my husband and I said. “We’ll start traveling then.” But then came the delayed speech. The failed speech therapy. The withdrawn behaviors. And the Diagnosis. We started effective speech therapy, and at three he entered a special school. Except for brief vacations, it didn’t look like we were ever leaving Austin again, much less traveling the world. In May of 2012, I officially pronounced my dream dead. I mentally issued the appropriate death certificate. RIP. But, here’s the thing about dreams. It turns out they’re a lot more resilient than that. Just declaring a dream dead doesn’t actually kill it. It still seems to lurk around in the back of your mind. And that’s why six months ago, I found myself clicking on a link to a website that discussed relocating abroad on a budget. I subscribed to their newsletter. Three days later, one of the articles mentioned the author’s experience of relocating her children first to Ireland, then to Paris, and then to Panama. This seemed awfully familiar, so I dug out that book I had bought all those years ago. Sure enough, I had stumbled upon the same author again three years later. It felt like a sign. My husband and I sat down again. This time we talked about how unhappy our son was and how he wasn’t returning back to school. How he hated structured group situations but attempted to make friends with every child he met in the playground. How he was a grade and a half ahead academically and a grade behind behaviorally. How we had already decided we were probably going to have to homeschool until at least second grade anyway. “We’ll have all of Europe as our schooling backdrop instead of just home,” we said. The dream was reborn. Last week we took our first concrete step to making the dream real. That author of the book and the newsletter, Kathleen, and her husband hosted a three day conference on Living and Investing Overseas. We were there for nearly every session, notebook or iPad in hand. We were probably the youngest couple there, but we didn’t care. We soaked in the information and asked questions about schools (in case we decide to expatriate instead of perpetually travel). We narrowed our favorite countries to four and then widened it back up to five. We made notes on the tax ramifications, the banking options, and real estate opportunities. Don’t get me wrong, we still have a long way to go. Our dream of continuously traveling the world starting with Europe is still months away. We just know that within a year...

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Miracles of Modern Medicine

Posted by on 9:50 am in Misc | 0 comments

Miracles of Modern Medicine

Two days ago, my uncle had a heart attack. Before I go further, let me issue a huge spoiler alert: this story has a happy ending. Basically, my uncle was at a car show. He began having chest pains that for about one minute he thought was indigestion. However, he very quickly realized that it was more than that. Fortunately, he was across the street from a fire station that was at that moment doing a CPR training class with all of the necessary equipment already out. They bundled him into the ambulance, got him hooked up to IVs, and rushed him to a heart specific hospital. There they did some sort of micro incision surgery and patched him right up. From the time that he noticed the first pains to the minute they checked him into his hospital room after surgery was 1 hour and 15 minutes. When I talked to my uncle on the phone only hours later, I never would have guessed something was happening. When I visited him in the hospital the next day, he was up and walking around. It was insane. The craziest part is, he had the “widowmaker” artery 100% blocked. Had he not had almost immediate care, he would have died. As it is, he decided to go back to work tomorrow (for a drastically reduced day). This is radically different from when my father-in-law had his heart attack 18 months ago. He was in the hospital over a week, and they had to crack his chest to fix him. It took weeks to recover from that. As it is, we’re all very grateful that my uncle is doing as well as he is. Thank goodness, among other things, for the technological advances of modern medicine. Share this:Share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)MoreClick to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new...

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Book Review: Dr. Suess ABC

Posted by on 10:08 am in ABC Books, Board Books, Book Reviews, Children's Books | 0 comments

Book Review: Dr. Suess ABC

Welcome to the inaugural Mother/Son Book Review. As part of our day, Castle and I now read one new book a day and discuss it. The results are going to be periodic book reviews for this and the ABC Nerds site. My child is less than articulate, but even he can still do a six second book review. So, the plan is to show his book review and then he and I talk and work on a more traditional review written by me. This should be interesting. 6 Second Book Review w/Castle Dr. Seuss ABC #6secbookreview https://t.co/9udLYsGVQR — Overrated Parenting (@OverratedParent) August 28, 2013 Dr. Suess ABC By Dr. Suess Board book version (and app version), both owned by us For a long time, Castle would only look at Oceanhouse Media’s version of this book. He loved the narration, and the way he could control the app. Most importantly, he loved the fact that he could do it by himself. However, now that he can read about 50-65% of the book on his own, he is now willing to read the actual book version with me. Both of us enjoy the whimsical way the alphabet is presented. The made-up words are “silly” according to Castle, and the overall book makes him “happy.” I have to agree. There’s a great lyrical quality to this book and the words just dance off the tongue when reading it aloud. Dr. Seuss’s books have been classics for over 50 years, and I for one think that the quality of the text is the main reason. However, this is a picture book, and the illustrations are equally important. Like all of our favorite Seuss books, this one was illustrated by Theodore Geisel (Seuss) himself. They help get across the ideas of his nonsense words, and the have the general whimsy we all associate with a Seuss book. Castle felt they added to the story. Overall, this is a great addition to any child’s library. It’s also a great part of introducing the alphabet to children. One of our favorite things about the book is the constant repetition of the letters. They don’t appear once on the page but several times in both upper and lower case form. It’s a great book that we both recommend. Share this:Share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)MoreClick to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new...

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My Baby Is Finally Not a Baby Anymore

Posted by on 10:34 am in Special Needs Parenting | 0 comments

My Baby Is Finally Not a Baby Anymore

For a long time I referred to my son as a baby. In fact, I referred to “the baby” for so long that people I didn’t see regularly often thought I was talking about a second child. Most people it turns out, don’t refer to their child as baby much past eighteen months. They certainly aren’t referring to their 3yo as a baby. So why was I? I thought about it a lot these past few months, especially when we were trying to break Castle from diapers for good. We would say things like, “Only babies wear diapers. Are you a big boy or a baby?” “Baby,” was the inevitable response. You couldn’t deny his logic. He was willing to be a baby if it meant he got his way. Perhaps because he already wears so many relatively negative labels, being called a baby was the least of his concerns. Perhaps he was just saying whatever it took to get his way. Or perhaps, he simply didn’t see being a baby as being negative. After all, I only stopped calling him one at three and a half. Some people stop thinking of their little ones as babies as soon as they can walk. Ours walked at 8.5 months. He was still very much a baby. For most though, children stop being babies when they can communicate with more than cries, are potty-trained, no longer need an oral object (like a pacifier) to self soothe. Of all these qualifiers, communication is by far the key. Most of the time children reach these milestones somewhere between 1.5 and 2.5 years old. Castle though is delayed in several areas. He almost never spoke before 3, and like many others with Einstein Syndrome traits*, didn’t really fill in his vocabulary until 3.5. His grammar is just now filling in. He potty trained a little earlier than predicted, but still has accidents now at 4. We limit his pacifier to bedtime and nap time, but he does still use one. (Both his doctors and ST approve! Mommy doesn’t.) Is it any wonder that for longer than normal I thought of my kid as a baby? For me, the real turn came between 3 and 3.5. Before then I had a child in diapers who primarily communicated through crying. If that doesn’t describe a baby, I don’t know what does. The fact that he was nearly 3 feet tall didn’t factor into my world view at all. Now though, my walking, talking, potty-trained, energetic boy is very much a big kid. And although, I’m very relieved he grew up, I do sometimes miss my little infant. *Castle has never been diagnosed with Einstein Syndrome. His diagnosis is PDD-NOS. An Einstein Syndrome diagnosis, which is still in its infancy of being defined, is pretty rare. Castle though does share many of the traits that define the syndrome. Of course, having traits does not a diagnosis make. I have many traits of dyslexia, but I am not diagnosed as being dyslexic. Einstein Syndrome is actually a fascinating idea. For more information, see this Scientific American article. Share this:Share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)Click to...

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Why My Autistic Child Will Still Get His 4 YO Vaccines

Posted by on 10:06 am in General Parenting, Special Needs Parenting | 0 comments

Why My Autistic Child Will Still Get His 4 YO Vaccines

Sometimes I get asked if Castle’s autism was caused by his vaccines. In our particular case, the answer is a definite no. His primary issue, dyspraxia, was present on the day he was born. The child never could coordinate the muscles in his mouth enough to latch properly, and if bottles didn’t exist, he would have starved to death. (Incidentally, the same was true of me and my half-sister. We both have dyspraxic symptoms although no formal diagnosis. Of the two, I am clumsier and less coordinated.) It had probably been nearly 10 years since my last vaccine when Castle was born, so there’s no reason to believe some vaccine I had influenced his birth or my pregnancy. No, my child was always destined, most likely by his genes, to be a clumsy introvert who has trouble talking. Vaccines had nothing to do with that. That does not mean that I think vaccines don’t cause autism. That’s an extremely contentious issue that I actually have no opinion on one way or the other. I realize that the original study that started the vaccines-cause-autism scare has been debunked, but there are plenty of stories and anecdotal evidence that leads me to believe that for some people, their systems do not react well to vaccines. For some that may be the toxins that are found in many vaccines. For others it may be the actual vaccine itself. I have no knowledge on the subject, and I have no idea if current studies are researching the correlation. I also realize that correlation does not equal causality. As this tongue in cheek article from Yeah. Good Times. reminds us, just because two things appear to be linked, it doesn’t mean one is causing the other. What I do think is that vaccines, like many other things in a child’s life, are a calculated risk. Everyday, every parent takes a calculated risk with their child. I risk him dying in a car wreck when I strap him into his car seat. I risk him getting hit by a car when we walk places. I risk him choking to death when I hand him a piece of food. But the alternative would be never taking him out of the house and only feeding him soups and purees. I feel the benefits of not being house bound and eating solid foods out weigh the risks. I feel every parent has to do the same with vaccines. After all, there are some very definite benefits to vaccines: namely not dying from some terrible diseases that used to kill millions of people. I don’t want my kid to have to suffer through polio or measles. Castle’s had a typhoid vaccination because, yuck, who wants to get that? On the other hand, there are risks associated with vaccines. Even if you are one of those that don’t believe that vaccines cause autism, there are still documented, proven risks. They can range from minor fevers to some major badness depending on the vaccine. The result is that parents take a calculated risk either way. If you vaccinate, you risk a side effect or if you have a very bio-chemically sensitive kid, you may risk something more long term like autism. If you don’t vaccinate you risk , you risk your...

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