Whole New Light

When we are doing well we want you, and world yes, We want you to want our way of being We are very different and we want you to appreciate Our differences. When we are playing and it seems different don’t make us stop Do encourage us Don’t watch us and be sad We are […]

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When you are stressed and worried you send out shock waves yes And we feel them greatly yes This is why we have our dance with Autism meltdowns We want you to not see us during dear times as being difficult But as needing your tender love care yes Going your way into dark patterns […]

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Supporting Us

We are ultimate dear ones for new Earth change Dancing in light, hearing waves of sound Banding as one new watcher group makes most waves in Earth pattern Waves are brought in as healing means When we are one we are great We must help world as it is bad and in need of love […]

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Be Your Way

The following is a Facebook status written by my wife about an experience she had recently at an area Burger King.

A little context here… This particular Burger King is one that I spend hours at and quite a bit of money. My mother-in-law has pretty advanced dementia, so we usually drop my wife off so that she can have some quiet time with her mom while the kids and I kill time at this Burger King because of the indoor play-land and free WiFi. Bianca gets to use her iPad and my other two get to run around like nuts and blow off steam.

It was because of this familiarity, that my wife chose this particular establishment to duck into in a time of desperation.

A few years back, this sort of incident would have crushed my wife to the core. I couldn’t be more proud of her response to an incredibly stressful situation. But what if this had happened to a mother not nearly as far along in her journey raising an autistic child as we are?

To the blond young lady working the register at the Burger King on Route 30 in Valparaiso on August 15th… Yes, the very loud and opinionated lady who made it a point to sarcastically yell across the restaurant as I was walking out with my 3 boisterous children, “Thank you for coming. Please come back again”. 

I understand that it may have annoyed you that I didn’t purchase anything. That I just rushed in, with a look of panic on my face, spent a whole 8 minutes in your restroom, and proceeded to walk out with my kids. I may not have spent money there today, but I have done so many of times, as we visit your restaurant when we visit my mother at the nursing home. You see, I have a 9 year old daughter who is still not completely verbal; one who I am so very proud of because she works so hard at communicating with us. 

Until almost 4 months ago, we were spending an insane amount of money on diapers (which cost quite a bit more than those that babies wear, because of course, she’s 9). We finally got a break in that department as she is now wearing big girl underwear.

We have come a long way, but we’re still struggling with little accidents as Bianca has yet to learn how to control certain functions. Example, if she says (and signs) “potty”, we must find a potty…..like NOW! There is a tiny window between her expressing her need and her actual using the potty. We are teaching her to “listen” to her body so that she doesn’t wait till the last minute to tell us she has to go. 

Today was an eventful day. We got to see the Air Show downtown and we were very grateful to have many porta-potties available. We left Chicago and headed to Valparaiso, Indiana for a family member’s birthday party. Perhaps it was my fault for not stopping at home to see if she had to use the potty. We were 15 minutes from our destination when I heard Bianca say “potty, potty”. I acknowledged her need and assured her that I would stop as soon as I could. 

My intention was to stop at this very Burger King, take her to use the restroom, and buy the kids some Icees. However, not a minute passed when an all too familiar smell came over us. (Bianca was wearing a dress, thus making this that much more of a crisis). 

The kids started to complain, and the panic set in. My kids, as well as every other parent with a child on the spectrum know what comes next! As gross as this may sound to everyone else, the smearing and even ingesting that typically follows is nothing short of a fecal war movie. 

I step on the gas, praying not to get pulled over, begging with Bianca to not pull her undies off, and to hang tight. She kept reaching, but would stop at my command. Needless to say, those were the longest 7 minutes of my life. I was worried less about my car or the mess I’d have to clean, and more about adding to the trauma my other two kids already endure. I knew they’d come to understand, but the heartbreak of being so close to enjoying themselves with the cousins they love, having to turn back around after being just blocks away was something I didn’t want to see. 

I pull into the parking lot like a maniac, still pleading with Bianca not to take her clothes off or reach into her undies. I get the kids out, then slowly pull her out. I rushed into the restaurant with only the diaper bag, leaving my phone and purse behind. I get into a stall, and proceed to clean up. Luckily, (thanks to her healthy eating habits) the mess was minimal. Major Code Brown averted. I cleaned and changed her. Put her in a fresh pair of pants and shirt. Then I washed her hands. 

She rarely listens to me the way she listens to her daddy. Today, she proudly obliged to my desperate pleas. I’m so proud of her. Meanwhile, my other two minions were still freaking out, wondering if there was a mess in the car (and there was not). I cleaned the stall even though there were only a couple of spots affected. And I dried my sweat. I couldn’t buy Icees as I’d left everything in the car. 

So as embarrassed as I was by the employee’s comment, followed by the snickering and laughter of her co-workers, and the judgmental stares, I managed to continue on with our plans.

What would have normally resulted in a tear fest, cancelled plans, and a night of self-pity, ended up being a fun filled evening for my children. Bianca has come a long way, but so have I! My child is not a monster. She will not stay home. She will not be hidden from society because the world isn’t prepared to deal with her. She is learning, as am I. So if you want to embarrass someone, go ahead. But today, I’m not ashamed. I’m a proud Autism mom!

We have come a long way. A long way as a family and a long way as a society. But you can see there is still a lot of work to do. Perhaps it was just youthful ignorance on behalf of the employee. I am sure that the employees have been talked to about letting people entering the restaurant know that the restrooms were for customers only. But imagine how different the outcome would have been had the young lady behind the counter simply asked, “Is everything OK ma’am?”

And perhaps therein lies the lesson. In a day and age in which we safely hurl snark from behind the screen of our electronic device of choice in the cyber world, let us not forget that in the real world compassion, empathy and understanding go much farther and are more appreciated.

In all honesty, this event could have happened anywhere. Burger King didn’t set out to wrong my family. It was a lapse in judgement by an employee. Still, the current slogan at Burger King is “Be Your Way”. Nobody defines that slogan more than Bianca. She is true to herself and as authentic as you can get. Maybe BK needs to take that slogan to heart and encourage their employees to not be so judgmental.

If you have not already, please take time to watch my videos, “Fixing” Autism and Autism Awareness with Nichole337 and share them with your friends.

To keep up to date with everying in Lou’s Land, please subscribe to my blog. “Like” Lou’s Land on Facebook and follow Lou’s Land on Twitter

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Dear Teacher

On one hand I can understand how innocent you think your project is.  Just send home a paper about ancestry and ask kids to have their parents fill in the ancestry for mom, dad, and both sets of grandparents.  They return with it, you have a great class discussion, everyone learns something.

I have one problem with that. The traditional mom-dad-kiddo family is not so traditional any more…
What about students in those non-traditional families? Those in foster care? Single parent households? Adopted? Kinship care? Protective custody?
What about them? They may not know. They may not ever know.
Did you think about the families who had to deal with parents who’s rights were revoked? Families who were abandoned? Children in foster care who will never know anything about their birth families?
Imagine my shock when my son produced a family tree paper asking for his family ancestry. Imagine my shock when he asked me if he had a father and why he couldn’t remember him.
Let me share something with you, you can’t spring something like this on families and assume all will be well.  My honest response was not pretty. Truthful. But not pretty.
It shouldn’t matter. Honestly, I didn’t want to really discuss it because it shouldn’t matter. He technically does not exist. But thanks to you… He now does.
My son isn’t alone in how much he struggles.  Many children, disabled or not, struggle mightily.  Can you imagine how the child without one or both of their parents feels when they bring this paper home and can’t fill it out?
That is the case with us. Technically, his father does not exist. He is not a conversation that happens.
You see, a number of years ago the court decided that he was, in fact, a rather crappy and immature human being and revoked his parental rights. They saw him as unfit if you will.
You read that right, the court revoked his parental rights to his child. Not that he ever wanted anything to do with the kiddo…
Let that sink in.
I’m sure you’ll feel mortified when you read my note and find out that his father’s rights were revoked and that until now, he didn’t even know he should have one. He is not a topic of discussion.
The kicker? I guess they really don’t share custody information despite saying they do and requiring me to prove it to the school with a copy of the order… Well, so much for that.
I’m really surprised that you would make such a basic assumption about families in this day and age.  At least warn the families that such a project is coming home. Let the family prepare for how to answer those questions or to opt out.  It’s really not something you can spring on someone like that.  I know I’m really bad at making things up on the spot…
It has really opened some wounds for me in many ways… The kiddo is struggling enough and now he knows his own father couldn’t be bothered with him. He doesn’t know why but I do. I won’t write it here because it’s reasoning that needs to come directly from me to my son, but I will comfortably say that he needs to burn in hell for what he said to me and the language he used…
These kinds of questions, especially without any preparation, can (and have) become a serious issue in a household like mine.  It’s not a subject that can be taken lightly or easily.
I went to Facebook with this because I was so upset.  My concerns and upset were shared by many from different backgrounds. I have adopted friends who especially felt the pain of it having done these types of assignments in the past but were left invalidated by it.  
Every family is different.  Family dynamics are different than they used to be.  Teachers need to be sensitive to these ever changing dynamics.  Teachers need to respect and be sensitive to how families operate today.  We long longer have the dad-mom-kiddo norm.  It is simply no longer the norm.
Please, be more sensitive to the culture that exists today. Adjust your thinking and ideals to match the students you serve in your classroom.  You owe them that much.
I leave you with this AMAZING video that was shared with me.
I know I couldn’t stop crying.
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