School and COVID-19

Conversations About Autism

School will be starting soon, in some form. I am glad that I do not need to face the decisions that are currently being made by parents, students, and educators. As a retired educator, however, I find myself reading and listening to many sources about just what a teacher or parent can do to make this year as successful as possible. I want to share just a few I found particularly informative.

This week the school districts in my area unfolded their plans for the fall of the 2020-2021 school year. Many of the local superintendents communicated with each other in trying to determine what is right for their own districts and for the metropolitan area.

Each school district has put its own twist on how to begin the 2020-2021 school year. Some seem to include options that include a choice between remote learning or some form of hybrid learning…

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The Power of Story

Conversations About Autism

Have you ever been with a group of people that you thought might have many of the same feelings as you, only to find the conversation drift off in a different direction than you had anticipated?

Maybe it didn’t event drift. Maybe it sprinted down a dangerous, negative slope and left you shaking your head and wondering how this happened. How did we get here? How can these people feel this way?

Let me back up here. Recently, in writing about my discovery of the enneagram, I confessed that “I’m usually not judgmental unless you hit certain key topics about which I have taken time to form a definite strong opinion.” Otherwise, I usually listen to people’s opinions with an open mind.

As an elementary teacher for twenty years, education of children with diverse backgrounds, abilities, and experiences is a topic about which I feel strongly.

I taught children from…

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The Enneagram and Me

Conversations About Autism

For a long time, I have realized that I don’t see most things as black or white. Either everything in life is gray or I am a wishy-washy person.

That’s me. If someone presents a good argument on why the sky is green, I will nod my head and think yeh, that makes sense. To them, my nodding head might indicate agreement, to me it just means I could see where people can think that.

A few weeks ago, when I was talking with my Texas daughter, whom I haven’t seen since February, our conversation trailed down an unusual path. Conversations between people in the COVID world of staying home and having little to do can get pretty unusual, I have found.

My daughter is one of the people who got me interested in listening to podcasts, so I asked her what she is listening to currently. She wanted to…

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Author, Writer, or Listener?

Conversations About Autism

What am I? And, maybe more importantly. where am I headed? I frequently ask myself these questions.

It’s been almost a year since my book was published, so I guess that mean’s I’m an author. When I meet someone who asks me about myself, I still don’t find it easy to say, “I’m an author.” I’m not sure why that is.

Book marketing is an impossible, uncomfortable, self-promoting beast to me. I probably could think of a few more adjectives to convey my strong emotions on the subject. But an author doesn’t sell books without promoting those books.

Then there’s the word writer. As a published author, I’m certainly a writer.

One has to write in order to publish, right? That makes one a writer. Or maybe it doesn’t.

I can and will say I’m a listener. Now, don’t get me wrong. In the right circumstances I can talk someone’s…

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Seating Charts for Video Conferences Please

Conversations About Autism

Video conferencing is not like meeting in person, is it?

Since March, I use conferencing apps for four regularly scheduled appointments. Early on during the pandemic, I did family meetings, played chess with my son, and engaged in a few other virtual social events. Now, it’s pretty much just four.

My WW (formerly Weight Watchers) group meets weekly. I use my phone because I can’t see all of the forty or more people on my computer screen anyway. With my phone, I can sit outside enjoying my morning cuppa if the weather is nice. Or turn off my video and harvest a few snow peas.

For my monthly publisher’s association meeting, the fiftyish participants all turn off our video and audio as the presenter takes over the screen.  No problem with these for me.

It’s the other two meetings that seem to have caused me a senior moment.

Here’s a…

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Even During a Pandemic, Autism Does Not Go Away.

Conversations About Autism

Photos by Amy at Piece of Our Heart Project

What if you are a very special teenager with autism who organizes a yearly drive to give back to the developmental center that diagnosed you?

What if you look forward to this drive every April for Autism Awareness month and along comes a pandemic that puts this event on hold?

I personally know this very special young man and he needs our help.

Here’s the story.

“The mastermind behind Piece of Our Heart Project is 15-year-old Michael. Michael was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, among many other comorbid conditions. He’s been in and out of doctors’ offices, autism clinics, and therapy centers for a number of years and lights a trail of love, joy, and happiness wherever he goes.”

Michael’s mom Amy

Michael began several years ago collecting new jigsaw puzzles and sensory items for the Knights of Columbus Developmental Center…

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On Fathers of Children with Special Needs

Conversations About Autism

Father’s Day is a day to honor those men in our lives who have raised us, nurtured us, guided us. Being a father, or a mother, is not always an easy task. Fathering a child with special needs might be even more challenging.

Here’s a special tribute to fathers of children with special needs.

In the story of Mimi and George, you read that George’s father was one that struggled with parenting a son with autism. He fought his own demons in the form of alcoholism.

Then, something unexpected happened.

An amazing man entered the family’s life and chose to marry Mimi and become father to her two boys, one of whom had autism!

At this point, George was living in a residential center out of town. Her first husband had died from conditions related to his drinking.

Mimi laughed when she told me that men she dated did not…

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Social Distancing Staycation – 2

Conversations About Autism

My morning view from the corner of my patio

About a month ago, I posted about taking a break from things that had become my “jobs” during lockdown. I started doing some of the things that I like to do on vacation. I realized that most of what I vacationed from were things that were related to social media. I shared a few things that I was enjoying during my break.

I promised to share a few more of my staycation activities. While I am back to blogging, I realized recently that I hadn’t gone back to several other social media activities. Just yesterday, I posted some more fun things to my page called Activities for Kids at Home. (If you are interested in hovercraft experiments, solar powered oven smores, or virtual summer camps, you might want to check this page for frequent updates.)

On to my own Fun Activites…

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Mimi and George During COVID-19

Conversations About Autism

Mimi was one of the people I called when I was “reaching out” to people during the stay at home orders. I’ve actually called her twice during the last three months. The first time was to check on how she and George were doing. The second time was to ask her permission to post her story on my blog.

Mimi has no internet service or email. She doesn’t keep up with people through technology. Both times I called, she thanked me for listening to her talk at length about what’s going on in her life. Various friends from her church and her pastor have reached out to her via phone during this time. She is so appreciative of people doing that. Mimi, twice widowed, lives alone with George.

“George is not much of a conversationalist.” She laughed when she said this.

George, who has severe autism, is now…

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Does, Fawns, and Autism Parenting?

Conversations About Autism

Doe about to drink from birdbath

Fawns have been on my mind for the last few days. So, here’s a post about fawns and their mothers.

I live in a suburban area that has become a haven for deer. Controlling the overpopulation is a topic of much discussion and debate. My own feelings about deer are mixed. I guess I have a love/hate relationship with them.

When I walk at certain times of the day, I am not surprised to find a herd of seven to a dozen grazing deer lift their eyes to assess whether my twenty-seven-pound dog and I present a threat. Many of the roads in my subdivision have signs reminding me to watch for deer as I drive. I’ve learned to just stop the car if I see a deer nearing the road because there is not usually just one.

Deer are beautiful creatures. They walk…

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