Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Holiday Season is Knocking

As we trotted down the front steps to our blue mini-van the snow flakes twirled around our heads landing on the leaves and melting, but soon the white puffs will stay and our home will fill with a balsam fir and smell of sugar cookies. With a grin across his face, Tristan lowered his voice and asked, "When will Santa come?"

As much as Tristan loves the holidays it does bring a bag of anxieties that we need to sort out like relatives wanting to chat with him about school and all he wants is to discuss the Star Wars movies while hiding behind me. Not to mention the hugging and kissing. I think Tristan wants to participate in the ritual of affection, but has a difficult time crossing over from wanting to doing. While his brothers bounce from one lap to another giving-out hugs and kisses freely, Tristan usually sticks close to my side guarding against any surprise attacks.

We have made improvements in the last few years, I remember one family celebration that Tristan spent the entire evening under a serving table and when anyone came near he would fend off the advances with a kick. That was before Tristan really had any meaningful communication and before his sensory system was regulated.

Now we have strategies:

  • We try and down play the holidays because the build-up to the event can cause more anxiety then needed. One year, Peter and I did not tell Tristan it was Christmas until the night before.
  • We scale back on all the family gatherings and everyone is invited to our house on Christmas day so that Tristan has all his supports.
  • Unless the kids bring up Christmas we don't really talk about it.
  • We don't have a TV, so our kids don't get all the commercials about Christmas.

In the end we try to enjoy all the rituals leading up to the holiday season like hiking and finding the perfect tree to cut down and bring home or the stringing of our outdoor lights. We create little events throughout the two months that are just as exciting and special, but have less stress involved.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Cast Your Ballot for a Package

The day before the election and all my people (the folks that will admit that they are my friends, colleagues, and associates) are not breathing, they are panting with anxiety. Perhaps government officials will have to pump Prozac through the water system to just get people out of bed and to the polls and work.

Why are people in such a frenzy? Well, the economy crashed into a deep underwater recession which means job security is under siege and our retirements disappeared along with many people’s homes. Top this off with the balance statement of the war (both lives loss and the dollar amount) and our country finds it self in a downward spiral.

I have read and hear some say that they are going to vote for a candidate because they have talked more about autism and I say don’t vote for one issue, cast your ballot for a package that will in the long-run help your family and your community. As much as all of us in the autism community want more funding for research to find a cure for autism, let’s be realistic whomever gets the Oval Office will not be spending much time or resources on autism until workers are back on the job and home foreclosures reduce (some are families affected by ASD).

The United States needs a leader that will act quickly to restore and strengthen our economy, but also one that will build-up the people including people diagnosed with autism. Talking about funding more autism research is just one piece, what about upholding the federal government agreement to help fund special education or increasing the budget for Head Start programs?

If the federal government coughed-up the money they agreed to pay for special education (about 40% of the bill instead of just under 20%) not only will our children be gaining but our towns in lower educational taxes. Think of all the issues that impact your family from job security to healthcare to education and then mark your ballot.

Remember Barack Obama voted to increase the funding for special education and Head Start (S.Amdt. 2292 to H.R. 3010, Vote 273, 10/26/08; AFT Voting Record for 109th Congress, accessed 7/1/08) and to insure millions of children through the SCHIP program (H.R. 976, Vote 307, 8/2/07; S.Con.Res. 21, Vote 172, 5/17/07) while his opponent John McCain voted against families (S.Amdt. 2254 to H.R. 3010, Vote 272, 10/26/05; S.C.R. 23, Vote 86, 3/25/03; H.R. 2660, Vote 333, 9/9/03; H.R. 1836, Vote 154, 5/22/01).

For give me... please?

I apologize for not posting a blog entry in awhile — two things have been happening in my life: one, all family members have been dripping with cold germs including me (it always takes me longer to shed the microbes) and that we have exciting progress at Parenting Autism that I will be telling everyone about soon.