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Showing posts from April, 2011

My Eleven-Year-Old Hero

She’s eleven years old and she’s already my hero.
She’s not on the spectrum, but she’s anything but typical.  With a heart of compassion and a fiery, stubborn temper, she burst into our lives like every color of the rainbow.  As she grows, her quirky mirth continues to bubble over, infecting us all -- especially her brother.

Whether he’s mired in anxiety or sorrow, anger or guilt, she can pull him free -- sometimes with love and sympathy; sometimes with sass and attitude. She doesn’t overthink it, like I do.  No hand wringing, no furrowed brow.  Her hand might be on her hip; she may be crossing her eyes and sticking out her tongue.  Whatever she’s doing, she doesn’t pull her punches.
And it works: one way or another.  Whether he’s pulled from his darker thoughts to laugh and engage or only to holler, “MOM! Tell her to stop!” I can’t help but feel immense gratitude.

She teaches me how to cope, how best to react.  And she’s only a little girl.
When she was very young, she adopted a few of his…

Don't use the Magic Word

[Rant /rănt/: to speak or declaim extravagantly or violently; talk in a wild or vehement way; to rave.]

There’s a new magic word. It’s nothing like the one your mother taught you. In fact, mothers everywhere will be horrified that I’m calling it magic. I’m horrified myself.  But the word frustrates me. It mystifies me.  I can’t get past it – it’s everywhere I turn. It’s thrown into modern literature without profit, adding nothing. It clutters movies, like the intake of breath.  And it seems to have power – like magic.
My mother’s magic word was a good word. Simple and useful – a word that got me second helpings at dinner or juice. 
This new magic word can get you things too, I’m afraid. An R rating, if it’s used twice. A nice write up in Rolling Stone if you use it in your song lyrics. Critical acclaim for novelists – maybe even an award.
In fact, I can hardly find a novel to read anymore without running into the magic word. Doesn’t that make you just slightly suspicious? Like when all …

I'm Jumping On the Spectrum

“Wash your hands for dinner!”
Drew comes toward the sink and then takes a step back.
“Mom.  I can’t.”
I look at the faucet, covered in soap suds.
“Hang on,” I say, liberally dousing it with water until the bubbles are completely gone.  “There you go.”
He steps up to the sink and washes his hands.
Bubbles.  He can’t even stand the word.  The sight of them makes his stomach twist.  He forces himself to tolerate hand soap, but prefers hand sanitizers that don’t create suds.  I shudder to think about how he washes his hair – or doesn’t.  There was a time when I would have tried to understand – tried to rationalize it for him.  They’re just bubbles.  He likes clean things – what’s cleaner than a soap bubble?
I don’t do that anymore.  I’ve learned that sometimes it’s best to jump on the spectrum with him.
How can I say that?  Isn’t drawing him toward a typical life view the best thing for a kid who’s so “high” on the spectrum that his diagnosing doctor – ironically – described him as “just inside t…