#WorldAutismAwarenessDay 2015

2nd Annual World Autism Awareness Day photo montage:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/I5_aw8XBdDI“>

Last year’s montage is available here: https://youtu.be/9V51KVuGAr4

My family’s journey: https://youtu.be/siP4DLOm-YU

Please leave any questions you have below. I will answer them as best I can. 🙂

Dear Mom Who Called My #Son With #Autism A Delinquent

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A mom (we’ll call “Mom 1”) came running into McDonald’s screaming something like “a big kid is on a little kid in the playplace”. Immediately, I got a pit in my stomach…that big kid was probably my 9 year old son, in the playplace with all the other little kids. All parents went running into the playroom to see what was happening. We all saw the little girl who was crying and her mom (we’ll call “Mom 2”) was understandably being protective of her, while all parents were trying to figure out what happened. I just *knew* that my son did something, completely innocently, that scared this little girl, probably trying to hug her but, because he’s big for his age and she was maybe 4 years old, I can totally understand her fear. They were both way up in the top of the playplace, where no one inside the McDonald’s could actually see what was happening. I do not deny that he probably scared her but the situation got out of control VERY quickly.

Both Mom #1 and Mom #2 started yelling at him so I told them to stop, that he has Autism and doesn’t understand the language they were using.

Mom #1 said “Autism? Well then you’re stupid for letting him be in here unattended, and you shouldn’t even let him out of the house. Why are you in public with him?”

I’m sorry…but what??!!

I told her that he’s a child and is allowed outside, plus we haven’t had problems in the almost 10 years we’ve been going to that McDonald’s location. I tried turning my attention to Mom #2 to see if her daughter was ok. Her daughter was scared but physically ok. Mom #2 was understandably angry and upset.

Mom #1 kept yelling obscenities at me and my son. She even started claiming the little girl had peed her pants…which she hadn’t.

I’ll admit that I yelled back at her to stop yelling because it wasn’t helping the situation.

My son was calmly standing beside me, waiting because he clearly didn’t understand what was happening. I took him out of the playplace, got his winter stuff on, had him sit down while I got my stuff on…and Mom #1 started telling other parents how he has Autism so he’s a delinquent; he’s pure violence; he needs to be locked up; etc. I said “Excuse me, but I’m right here, and you’re talking about my CHILD. Stop spreading lies about him and Autism”. She started yelling and telling me how horrible of a parent I am; how dare I bring him out in public; he needs to be thrown away. I’m not proud but I lost it and told her that it was time for her to leave because she wasn’t helping the situation. We left as soon as we collected our things. My daughter was upset for leaving so quickly. My son was oblivious to what had just happened. I was ticked off. The kids’ grandfather was confused and wanting to protect all of us, but also get us home as soon as possible.

On our way out, I was glad to see Mom #2 taking her daughter and the other kids they were with back into the Playplace. That helped me feel better that her daughter was ok.

A few hours later, I’ve had time to calm down and think about the situation, and I’ve decided I would like to thank her…So, kind Mom #1…thank you…

Thank you for making me realize that I still have a redheaded temper (it’s been YEARS since I’ve seen it).

Thank you for bringing out my mama bear.

Thank you for changing the focus from the little girl to you.

Thank you for not allowing me to talk to Mom #2 to ensure her child was ok (I could see the child was ok, but I still wanted to check in, and offer to pay for their meals, etc).

Thank you for escalating the situation to pure emotions so I couldn’t ask you what you actually saw, which would mean I can then teach my son not to do that, thereby stopping it from happening again…because let’s face it, that’s what needs to happen.

Thank you for insulting my son over and over again.

Thank you for bringing my parenting into question (which I just laugh off…my ex husband tried worse after we split)

Thank you for spreading lies about what Autism is and who children with Autism are.

Thank you for motivating me to finally sign up for crisis intervention, basic breakaway and joint locks training, in case I have to protect myself and/or my children in the future, even if that’s to subdue my ever-growing 9yo, who is the size of a 12yo, during meltdown. I’ve been putting off signing up for it, not wanting to face the reality that he’s getting too big for me to physically intervene in a meltdown (which we experienced about a month ago, for the first time in over a year) and, dear Mom #1, if all that over-stimulus had caused a meltdown for him, you aren’t the one who would need to help him through it for hours or days. I am because I’m his mom.

Thank you for making my daughter get upset because she witnessed her mom yelling at another mom for the first time in her life.

Thank you for making me cry out of anger and frustration when I got home.

Thank you for showing me how much more awareness is needed out there because Autism is NOT pure violence, nor does it mean he’s a killer like you were claiming.

So, Mom #1, thank you for being the biggest motivation I’ve had in a few years to continue furthering my education to become a Social Worker to officially help other parents because, sadly, this type of situation happens all the time.

Thank you for making me even stronger.

Meghan

#Autism #School Calendar & #ReportCards

My Kids Alternate Special Needs Report Cards

A bit late because I was sick for a week with step throat (stay tuned for the blog post about that!), but here’s my son’s Autism class’ calendar for February:

Son’s School Calendar Feb 2015

His class is an Autism-specific class offered through our school board. They follow a Monday through Friday schedule rather than a Day 1 through Day 5 schedule like the rest of the school does.

Report cards were also sent home last Thursday so I decided to film how my kids’ report cards are different from other report cards that go home. My daughter’s report card is the same structure as mainstream school because she’s in mainstream schooling, but has a couple of accommodations for her IEP (Individualized Education Plan). My son’s report card however is very different from mainstream school, seeing as he’s in an Autism-specific class.

My #Son’s #Autism-Specific #Class Schedule

We are fortunate that my son qualifies for a “contained classroom” that is Autism-specific, which includes a teacher and two Educational Assistants for the six children. His teacher is new this school year. She hasn’t taught an Autism-specific class before (apparently her role last year was teaching 200 students English at a different school) but her background is actually doing one-on-one ABA therapy with kids with Autism. Needless to say, that made me feel better at the beginning of the school year of her ability to teach my son and his five classmates, in this Autism-specific class. She also clearly loves her job too!

Each month, the teacher sends home a calendar of the activities for the month. It states the “days” the rest of the school is following for their schedule (Days 1 through 5) but thankfully, his teacher understands the importance of a predictable schedule. This is his schedule for January:

2015 January Schedule

We have joked every month until now that he’ll help for the cooking instruction but won’t eat it…but next week, they are making “pigs in a blanket”. He’ll eat those, but I have to let the teacher know that we call them “croissants”. But how cool is it that they have a therapy dog come in every week?!!

They even have a huge daily schedule posted in their classroom:

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Love it!

Confession & New #Workshops (#Autism, #AutismSupport, #FamilySupport)

Confession: I LOVE public speaking! I know, I know, it’s one of, if not the top fear that most people have, but I love it. Role playing however…that’s a different story for me. And I have to role play counselling scenarios every week in one of the courses I’m taking right now…but I digress.

A number of years ago, I met a lovely woman named Melissa. We Facebooked and saw eachother every so often. Then earlier this year, she said that she was meeting a number of parents with children with Autism/Asperger’s through her career and asked if we could meet up. She wanted to understand more about what these families were facing (how awesome is she?!!). One coffee date later, and we decided to start holding workshops together, which where later called “Autism – Family & Financial Workshops“. She would be able to talk about the financial aspect of things (budgeting, RDSPs, etc) and I could talk about whatever was timely dependent upon the time of year.

Yesterday, we held another workshop, with me talking about IEPs since it’s that time of year, and how to work with the school. She spoke of budgeting, couponing and price matching. We also had an expert in RDSPs (Registered Disability Savings Plan…available in Canada) come share with us as well.

The chemistry in the room was awesome. I’m so glad that people felt comfortable enough to ask questions throughout my schpiel! If you’ve ever been to a presentation I make, I encourage questions. When people were leaving, they said they felt supported and asked when the next one is being held (January 28th at 10am, for anyone in Hamilton, ON Canada). We put it out there that maybe we should do a “coffee hour”…and people loved the idea. So, we’ve now scheduled an information get together over coffee (November 6th at 10am).

Something amusing happened during our workshop yesterday though that I also wanted to share. We asked for people to complete feedback forms, and when they gave them back, the form was put into a draw for a door prize (it was a beautiful Sherpa throw rug…so soft!). Can you guess which feedback form was completed by an adult who was newly (as in, this week!) diagnosed with Autism, just based on how the paper is folded? 😉

Feedback forms

Yup, that would be the “accordion style” one in the middle. She has a son with Asperger’s, a daughter being assessed for Autism, and she herself has now been diagnosed with Autism…and she’s proud of it…proud of knowing why she always thought of things in a different way; why she always did things just a little bit differently than others around her. Her son is NOT happy though…he liked being the only one in the family with an ASD diagnosis. Poor little guy. 😉

Anyway, if you are in the Hamilton, ON Canada area, please join the Facebook group to learn more about upcoming workshops and coffee times.

If you are outside the Hamilton, ON Canada area, but would like myself and/or Melissa to come to your area whether to offer a workshop series, or even a one-time presentation, please comment below or email me: imamomtoo.meghan@gmail.com.