Monday, February 24, 2014


Spring brings playing on the playground and blooming friendships. A common hope for all parents that our children will  have friendships in early childhood that will continue a lifetime.

Play something that occurs so freely while a friendship should happen so naturally. The first time kids meet on the playground they refer to the kids that they just ran and chased as their friends. Some kids initiate play by asking others, " Do you want to play?" Some kids play by just being in the same environment and doing activities in the same sandbox while others watch while others play. What textbook call parallel play,  moms and  a nannies call time to spill the juicy gossip or even try to one up the other of who's toddler is accomplishing what they think is one step closer to getting into the IVY League school. On the playground we talk about years of hopes for our kids.

The play that was stared on the playground, grows to play dates at friends houses, birthday parities,sleepovers, years later eating together in the cafeteria,  then shopping, and talking on the phone. Some kids one of the most difficult things is to socialize and have friends. Not because who they are but something they live with .. they live with autism with LOVE ..

Autism is a diagnosis that impaired social interaction and verbal and nonverbal communication along with restricted or repetitive or stereotyped behavior. All these impairments  you would think would impede play on the playground and make it difficult to form friendships regardless how act of play comes so freely.  With all these obstacles ..  How can two children effected with autism play and become friends ? 

The same came be said of how two kids one with autism and one without can become friends. Children find a common bond now this may not come so easily. It sometimes  happens because the other child sees them as a girl or boy nothing less nothing more.  See with autism as we know most individuals don't carry any physical or facial characteristics to indicate what they are with. What they do show on the playground are behaviors.  Here is a day on the playground:

When my daughter was on the playground a girl one day  asked my daughter, "Do you want to play?". My daughter was in a  tunnel laughing and not looking at girl but happy as can be playing in her own world of happiness. As I sat while watching I thought, "Look at that little girl". "Go play". "Come on you can do it".  The other little girl waits for a second and my daughter just looks the other way and laughs.  The little girl looks puzzled and a little hurt.  She decides to wander off and play with others.  My heart was  broken at that moment because finally my little girl had someone in her space but just couldn't express herself. I thought if only the little girl had put her hand out to my daughter to initiate her intent this would have gone different.  My daughter was happy why couldn't I get over her not playing with this little girl. Then remembering that true friendship can not be pushed and will come with love and understanding.  A girl one day would come along and take my daughter's hand to play and if not I would have to PLAY and take my daughter's hand until that day. .. 

As weeks passed my daughter began asking me to get up and play.  She would point to me and say, "AH".  I would then say tell me to, "Come"(and motion my hand to come). She would then try her hardest to imitate my motion.  The communicate was clear she wanted me to chase her.  I did that day and she laughed and I laughed.  My daughter was playing.  She was interacting and initiating play. I also looked way cooler and felt a bond between my daughter that was special.  I now left the mom sandbox to give my daughter the play she deserved and the chase by her dearest friend. . PLAY.

When making the decision to place my daughter into a therapeutic day school this year my biggest fear was she would not have friends . Would my daughter be able to make a friend and have the opportunity to have social experiences in a  "the most restrictive environment?"  

 The answer to my question would be "YES" to having a friend" because friendship is effortless  when there is understanding regardless of what you are with . It happened like this so freely and without effort in the first few months of her attending her therapeutic school:

My daughter's first friend was a young boy with autism. A boy at that... Boyfriend is what popped into my head. Ironically, it was spoken about in an IEP meeting and the relationship for them started by eating together.  My daughter has skipped from forming her first friendship and relationship on a playground to already making a friends and eating lunch in the school's cafeteria.  My daughter has skipped years of the friendship timeline not too bad for a condition that is considered developmental delayed.   My daughter by eight even with autism with love friendship bloomed.  In my head it was emotions running with excitement to crying to laughing with happiness. Otherwise known as happiness to some and anxiety to other parents. They weren't really boy friend and girlfriend but for two kids .  I was running with it and it was autism with LOVE.

Friendship and relationship come naturally, pure, and full of love. She would now have someone to play on the playground with and better yet eat lunch which was her next favorite time besides, "PLAY".  She would have that friend for her lifetime. If she ever loss that friend the hope would be for her to decide to run freely and find the friend with PLAY ..  over and over again regardless of what with.

The playground the special place where kids can run and swing freely with autism and with LOVE


Sunday, February 16, 2014

First Valentine's Day Dinner with Autism .. A second time mentioned

Valentine's Day is a holiday full of dinner,flowers,candy, romance,sitters, "I love You", a special girl, restaurant reservations, and experiences that  meltdowns to more money spent then what needs to be and a second  phone call with a mention of someone your with leading to this love story full of words and smiles...

My dinner date on Valentine's Date with one special little girl . .We wanted to spread our love and regardless of autism and experience going out on one of the busiest restaurant holidays of the year.

The experience included two times of calling the restaurant on the way first time called told the wait was 20 minutes and no call aheads being made, no reservations being taken, four times of going to the restroom, a booth by the door in the bar,no pre busing, ketchup bottle empty, burning my mouth on the appetizers, over cooked fries, no cheese on her burger, no WI-fii, and soup that was sub par.

Many of these experiences  people would complain about .. . but some of those were accommodations being made since with autism was mentioned the second time around. ...

The  second  time calling on the way to the restaurant to check to see what the wait time was  on my hands free device these words came out of my mouth , "My daughter has autism".  There was hesitation in my voice.  Thinking does this need to be said.  I then added, " I am concerned that my daughter will have a meltdown waiting and effect others night special night."  My daughter typically doesn't have meltdown in restaurants consistently.  Although, knowing this restaurant was somewhere we had been to just three times and sat in different booths in the restaurant.

Here is the response that was said by a friendly and chipper hostess the second time around.

 "We are don't take reservations and not taking any more call aheads because of the holiday.  The wait is about 15 minutes but ..  we will get you in when you get here. "Name, please". "See you soon". 

I quickly gave her my name and how many people in my party and hung up.  After I hung up I thought of all the things I should have asked, "Can we get a booth please?" 
"Do you have WII-Fii?

 I think I was in  shock and feeling guilty using those words of "with autism". I was with my special girl not autism but some reason the with had mattered.

As we drove up the parking lot was full.  I thought to myself maybe this was a bad idea.  You see you never know what autism will bring you and when it will come to meltdown into an experience you will never forget.  We searched for a parking spot.  I had almost forgotten we had a place card.  We hardly ever use the placecard unless I'm the sole person in the car (which happens many times), there are several place card spots available, lot it full, it's icy outside, and a place we do not go consistency on a regular basis. Again, hesitation using this placecard for parking wondering if there is others who need this accommodation more than us. It took the second time going around just as the second phone call to drive into the front of the lot and accept this accommodation.

My daughter jumped out of the car SMILING like she wasn't effected by a permanent disabling condition. This is what I loved about her.  She is so full of life.  In the car was her talker it needed to be prompted.  for her to bring it today.  Again, out of my mouth, "Grab you talker" She grabbed it and held my hand. Another accommodation that she needed to communicate her wants and needs especially used when she wants food.  It also was something that would be recognized to some that she wasn't just a little happy little girl jumping out of the car with nothing wrong with her but had a condition.

This was also a holiday in which couples spent to celebrate love.  This restaurant would not typically be thought as a couples romantic restaurant but one that shared many special first I'm sure for others.  It was my daughter's first on our first occasion that we split a hamburger.  It was also most likely be our last since she loves cheeseburgers. 

We entered the restaurant and many people were sitting waiting with very little room to sit down and wait for two people along with the TWO IPADS we brought in and talker.  We approached the hostess.  I wanted to ask her if she was the one that was so kind to accommodate us.

The hostess asked, "Name?"
I responded, "Irene party of 2".  I wondered if on their tablet that they took reservations did it say, " with autism".
The hostess checked us in and responded, "We got you  checked in."
I scanned the waiting room for a seat for us to both sit along with our handfuls of accommodations.
There was no where that I thought we fit in . The  was no way the cute couples would want  to sit next to an energetic, jargon of sounds, full of emotions, and her accommodations in the waiting room. Again,  I took a second look and decided for us to sit down next to a couple in the waiting room.  

The excitement then took place.  My daughter pointed to her bottom.  Oh, no we were going to have a poop accident with no extra clothes.  I quickly made my way up to the host stand,  I felt like I was yelling and said, " My daughter needs to go to the bathroom in case we are going to get called I wanted to let you know".  

The hostess said, "Oh, okay." Probably wondering why it was a state of emergency sounded request.  The other hostess said, " We are getting ready to call them".  In my mind hesitation set in .. She need's to go and when she has to go she has to go.  I looked at my daughter and she smiled.  I knew she could wait with this nonverbal beautiful expression. 

We waited no more than 4 minutes from when we walked in and to some parents who are with someone would have thought this was a lifetime.  Nope.  Not for us.  It was a special accommodation for a special girl.

SMILES from the waitress and staff every time we went to the restroom all the way across the restaurant, the waitress asking me if daughter wanted something to drink and me asking my daughter "What do you want to drink"? Her response with her talker, "POP". The waitress smiled with empathy and happiness. A booth at the front of the restaurant in case we needed a quick get away and to in case my daughter had a behavior that was not needed to be experienced at the time was a accommodation that was given for the with we were with .. 

Something that I didn't mention is this was  the first time and rarely  mentioned to restaurants because my belief is for my daughter  to have experiences like any other child not effected. This time it was mentioned because their was a concern that my daughter would have a meltdown waiting and effect other during their special evening.

This experience did not have other asking her to quite down, free checks given, managers coming to the table, or being waited on hand and foot.  This experience was full of simple accommodation because of something that was mentioned
the second time around knowing that all would have a experience of autism that they would love and want to love

So, when going into the community never hesitate about a  mention of, "My child has autism". Understand that people understand about accommodations that need to be made so we can all enjoy the experience an individual should have with autism and for themselves to see and feel love.

Take a second to understand that the with is something that they are with and not whom they are...

My first Valentine date with my daughter with a second mention that mattered with WORDS that were said. My daughter and autism said, " I LOVE YOU" that night.  Not words but behaviors and feelings that spread to others with smiles.

Thank you for all the necessary accommodations that were made for us to share love and a dinner that we loved.

First Valentine's Day Dinner Date with my daughter.  A plus one of autism. And a second time mentioned that accommodated what mattered. . LOVE  

Use the WORDS when they matter and a experience will be given that will be loved by all:)