This is a super interesting article, if you consider the number of children originally diagnosed with ADHD and then having revised to an autism spectrum disorder (like yours truly). Once can only wonder if the traumas of anxiety and bullying that go along with “being different” are enough to cause the initial ADHD diagnosis.
Recently in Maine, the owner of a diner yelled at a 2 year old patron to be quiet after the toddler spent an hour screaming and crying, and her parents (supposedly) ignored her. There is a lot of judgment going on about both the parents and the owner. Was the owner wrong to yell? Probably. Were the parents wrong to ignore the child? Definitely.
In all the conversations about whether children should eat at restaurants has been the discussion about children with autism having meltdowns at the table. I understand the meltdowns of children with autism at meal time in a strange place. I have been there. My parents brought things to distract me, foods that I liked, and never hesitated to remove me even temporarily to calm down. Now as an adult, I still have autism. I have learned to cope with the regular hustle and bustle of eating out… HOWEVER, I haven’t learned to deal with a screaming child for more than about 15 minutes. I have walked out of restaurants without paying as a result of avoiding my own meltdown when the child at the table next to me scream for 30 minutes– it was literally everything I could to stop myself from having a violent outburst.
I know this is about myself. I know my tolerance level for the screaming, crying and carrying on. (Again, another reason I don’t plan to have kids). However, I do do my best to avoid places I know there might be a higher chance of a child crying. I typically don’t eat at family restaurants or in fast food establishments. I tend to eat at places with white table cloths and linens. As a general rule of thumb, if the meal is over $30 a person, your child needs to be behaved to be there. Not sure why this isn’t a well known rule of thumb.
Inspired by her child who has autism, a mother has designed a line of clothing that is age appropriate, functional and easy for developmentally challenged people to wear. Designs lack zippers and buttons which are difficult for people without fine motor skills to manipulate. The patterns are the same front and back so you don’t ever know if it is the wrong way, which makes wearing it much easier. And my personal favorite – NO TAGS! I hate those scratchy tags.
The outfits I have seen so far are all pretty stylish and look just like everyone else’s clothing. What a blessing not to have to stand out in a crowd either because you have it on backwards or you are looking like you raided your grandparents closet.
Kudos to Lauren Thierry and her son Liam on this great idea!
One of my high school friends posted an article called “A guy told me to lose weight and I thanked him.” I read through the article and I struggled with it. In short, thin petite girl her whole life gains 5 lbs and a close male friend tells her she has gotten fat. She thanks him and then is so glad she has a support team to prevent her from an eating disorder.
I am not sure when it happened but I went from being a slender young girl into a pretty well developed teen seemingly overnight. I think it must have happened around 5th grade because that was when I noticed my lack of friends and how different I looked from them.
I wasn’t inactive at all. I played outside. I was on the softball team. I roller skated a few times a week. I even was dancing ballet and tap too for a while. Sure I wasn’t the most coordinated (which is typical of kids on the spectrum) and I made few friends there. It was around 5th grade I started to realize that I was alone. I had “friends” in school, but it never felt like friendship. I felt like a charity case. They pitied me and in a class of 25 students, everyone was usually included because it was obvious when someone was left out. But there are many painful memories of being the odd man out.
It was in this rejection, that I started to find comfort in eating. One particularly painful memory was during a sleep over for a birthday at a classmate’s house in 7th grade. We went to the movies and on the way back we stopped at a restaurant. I asked for an actual meal rather than just a French fry or a drink. I was teased the rest of the night. While everyone else slept that night, I laid in my sleeping bag crying. That was the last sleepover I ever attended.
In high school, I was still pretty active. I kept up with softball and skating, but I continued to gain weight. During a history class, someone I thought was my friend made fun of the fact that the fat on my arm wobbled as I raised my hand in class discussion. I was crushed and devastated. I vowed I wouldn’t eat lunch from then on. And I didn’t for several months. I’d sneak off to the library or computer lab and hide. This worked great until I fainted from not eating during one of our First Friday mandatory masses (Catholic School, you know). Once I fainted, I was told to eat lunch everyday with a small group of people who were Sister’s Lunch Bunch. None of them ever said anything mean, but I never felt particularly welcomed.
My only goal in high school was to survive and get grades good enough to get away from my hometown. I devoted every bit of me to that. I told myself I didn’t need the people I was in class with in high school because I was leaving for college in 4 years anyway. I had one best friend and there were times I even felt I was a burden to her. (I surprisingly have reconnected with some of my classmates from high school and we have better relationships now that we are all a bit more mature.)
The first two years of college sucked. I struggled to make friends there… for the same reasons I struggled all the years before. September 11th happened at my doorstep and then there was the diagnosis. I shut myself in and I spent all of my time online playing a government simulation and working several jobs. I stopped playing sports. I didn’t want to be involved or to be a part of it. I didn’t fit in.
Luckily, a professor recognized what I was doing and my talents and convinced me to give a look at another university and consider transferring. I struggled with the choice. I didn’t tell anyone I was applying to the other college, only my parents. The day the acceptance letter came I walked around campus in a daze trying to decide what to do. I was in the process of running for student government (with low odds of winning). With nothing really to lose I sent my deposit on and it was decided.
By the time I transferred to American University, I was nearly 300 lbs, wearing size 24 pants. Walking upstairs made me winded and I couldn’t run a half mile if my life had depended on it. Yet, despite my size I found great understanding. I made friends instantly and was even appointed to student government. It was there I met my future husband and I found a support group I hadn’t ever had. No one ever pushed me to lose weight, but they encouraged me when I said it was my goal. I had offers of workout partners and dining companions. I was able to quickly drop to 250 lbs with that support.
A few years post-graduation, I decided I wanted to lose more weight; particularly after my father died suddenly from a heart attack. With a lot of work and dedication, I got down to 200 lbs. I counted every calorie. I did everything I could to lose weight in what I thought was a healthy way. Eventually, my fiancé caught on to my extreme calorie counting and insisted it stop. He made me stop eating 1200 calories a day to a reasonable 1600 calories a day. I put back on 30 lbs because of this.
My life now is so different than that of elementary school and high school… and even college. I fence several times a week and I walk or run 5 miles a day, I even ran a half-marathon two years ago. Both of these things have given me confidence I never had before. I even met with a personal trainer who told me that even at 2000 calories a day I would be losing weight since I burn almost 3000 a day.
I am not at my ideal size (150 lbs). I am considered Obese when you look at BMI charts. I am not happy with what I weigh and I’m trying to fix it (my goal is 175). But to the guy who has the balls to say that I’m fat … go f yourself!
I owe you all an apology. I sort of disappeared. The truth is I have been overwhelmed.
I am getting married in less than a month and everything has been stressing me out. Not only is there the wedding which is a full day of everyone with eyes on me (which alone is usually cringe-worthy and meltdown inducing), we have to get through the rehearsal… and a second bridal shower. My mom threw a small one for us back in July up in NJ and now my coworker are throwing me one. This time I need to go alone without my fiance…
Add in several retirements and departures at work that I somehow became responsible for organizing. At least so far I have gotten out of speaking at the last one and hopefully the next one.
I am also in school this semester for two courses at Georgetown University. I am nearly done and my organization is paying the costs but I am still stressing it like crazy.
Sorry for venting. I hope to be back soon. (The wedding is November 9th)
I had originally intended to write this article in a week or so as I approach the 9th anniversary of my dad’s sudden passing, but a recent media piece drew up some feelings I didn’t want to suppress until then… so I apologize if this is a bit more rambling than my usual thoughts.
Whether your child is on or off the spectrum explaining a senseless crime or tragedy is hard. You want your child to be carefree and focus on being a kid instead of questioning everyone’s motives for as long as they can. Unfortunately, most of us don’t live in Mayberry.
When I was 8 years old, a young boy named Timothy Wiltsey disappeared in my hometown. Timmy as he was known and I went to the same Catholic school. He was in my cousin’s class, so I saw him often and spoke with him a few times. He had disappeared from a local carnival where he was supposedly with his mother in Kennedy Park. Both towns were turned upside looking for Timmy. It was a scary time. Police officers came to the school and spoke to each class about what happened, asking if anyone else had been at the carnival and had seen Timmy. The police also stood outside the school watching as parents picked up their kids for the remainder of the school year. This was all a change of routine and even kids on the spectrum can recognize sometimes when even adults are fearful.
I distinctly recall my hand being held tighter by my mom in the days after he went missing (which was only somewhat related to my wandering issues). I remember being told from age 8 til I was in my late teens that Kennedy Park was off-limits unless there was an adult present. I even remember standing in the classroom every morning that following school year and praying to St. Anthony that Timmy would be found safe and sound. Unfortunately, Timmy would later be found deceased in a swampy marsh in a town a few miles away – news that was broken to us by teachers at school. A counselor was brought in to help students to grieve, but it was still tough.
So how do you help your child with dealing with senseless crime or tragedy?
– Talk about it. If you aren’t the one telling your child what happened, someone else is. I received the news about Timmy’s murder from a teacher. The decision was made to tell us at school as a group to provide us all support and do so in a safe environment. The administration didn’t want us to hear about it on the news, radio or gossip when we went home. My parents spent a lot of time talking about it. As a child (even undiagnosed) I wanted details and facts. Although there weren’t many facts that were known, my parents shared them in a way I could understand.
– Reassure them. This is a two part thing. You need to reassure your child that they are safe. They need to know that they are okay and you will protect them. The second thing is you need to reassure your child that what they are feeling (anger, anxiety, fear, being upset) are normal, natural feelings. Share how you feel with them.
– Be prepared. Some tragedies are unpredictable, but you can be ready for some of them. Like many parents after Timmy’s disappearance, my parents instituted a password for pick ups. If someone other than my mom and dad were to pick me or my sister up from school, they had to know the family password. It was something simple I would remember, but no one else could guess easily. They taught me skills also to reduce the liklihood I would put myself in danger. Skills like “Don’t talk to strangers,” “Don’t take candy from anyone,” and “If a stranger is approaching cross the street safely.” (This don’t all work with kids for autism, but adjust as needed)
– If wandering is a problem, take steps in advance. I have previously done an article full of suggestions.
For the last 23 years, Timmy’s case has been a cold case. Justice being delayed – until yesterday when they arrested and charged his mother
with his murder.
It has been a long week in our home. The SO has been going for a new position so he has been stressed out as he goes all the interviews. His stress generally impacts mine. I am incredibly sensitive to changes in his attitude. In fact, I am overly sensitive to sudden changes in others attitudes. Well Tuesday was horrible and lead to a complete nonverbal shut down.
At work they announced a few weeks ago that they were going to make some physical moves to reorganize the divisions that work together to be closer together. Makes logical sense. I don’t want to move, but largely because I just got settled into my new desk. But some others are far less happy about it. The woman moving into the cube next to mine spent the whole day yelling, throwing items out of her cube and carrying on like a 3 year old having a temper tantrum. I had lunch with the SO and had mentioned that I wasn’t feeling well and mostly suffering from sensory overload in terms of noise and explained what was going on. He said he understood and reminded me I only had a few hours before we could go home.
I made it through the rest of the day and was looking forward to the drive home with the SO. Well when I got into the car he was already listening to a PodCast which had Gilbert Gottfried and a few others. I turned it down several times, because Gottfried’s voice is SOOO loud. Every time I did, the SO turned it back up because the others on the podcast weren’t as loud and he couldn’t hear them. I rode home the 45 minute ride with my fingers in my ears, crying.
When we got home he kept trying to talk to me and I went to our room and laid down. I refused to talk to him, or listen to him… every sound hurt. I could even hear myself blinking. It was maddening. I wasn’t snapping out of it like I usually do, everything hurt. I considered skipping fencing, but decided I had to at least go for the lesson. When I finally convinced the SO it would be okay, we went. Once we got there, we ran into a friend in the parking lot, and I wasn’t feeling up to talking. I hadn’t talked in almost 4 hours, so I wasn’t in the mood then either. Once we got inside and I did a few bouts I was able to snap back to myself.
I can’t really explain it, but on the fencing strip everything else melts away. There is no sound… no other distractions. It really is my comfort zone. Now if only I could eliminate the breath holding for the whole bout I am pretty sure I’d be a better fencer. I guess one step at a time.