Category Archives: Uncategorized

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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Seasons of Life – Mimi and George

Conversations About Autism

Seasons of Life – Peony

After the bee incident, Mimi took George to the children’s hospital where he underwent testing for a full week. At the end of the week she met with a neurologist, who diagnosed George with “childhood neurosis.” Mom questioned the doctor about autism and was told that he would not put that label on George because it would follow him for the rest of his life.

“Well now, it’s let’s do it and get it, you know, put that label on him, get him some help.  Not then.”

 “I knew in my heart he was autistic, and he would not say that he was autistic.”

George would not receive an autism diagnosis until he was fifteen.

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If you have been following my posts about Mimi and George, beginning here, you realize how hopeless her story has sounded so far. You may recognize pieces of…

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Special Ed Teacher – 1973

Conversations About Autism

What was the coursework like in the early 1970’s for young people studying to become special education teachers?

This was around the time that Mimi began searching for answers about George. It was during this time period that I studied to become a special education teacher. Mimi and I never met back then. George never attended the school at which I taught. But I think, now, he could have. I find that something to chew on.

After I decided to become a special education teacher, I naturally began looking at college programs that would work for me. The state special education certifications offered at the time were varied and specific. There was no cross categorical certification. Training was specialized. I could train to work with kids with hearing impairment. I could choose to work with children who were visually impaired, OR those with intellectual disabilities, OR with those who…

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Mimi and George: A Story of Autism – Part 2

Conversations About Autism

This is the second of an ongoing series of posts. The first part can be found here.

Mimi could only rely on herself in raising her two boys in the early 1970’s.

Her young son George would not receive the autism diagnosis for many years.

George could read and tell her how to get someplace, but, she relayed, “I could not potty-train him or keep him from hitting himself.” George would sit on the toilet and giggle, while Mimi tried to teach him what to do. After a period of time with no performance, the young mother would end up giggling too. She would finally give up and put him in disposable diapers, which were fairly new on the market at the time. It was just easier.

George also was a “runner.” He snuck out of the house and visited neighbors’ homes where they let him explore. Fortunately, everyone in…

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Mimi and George: A Story of Autism – Part 1

Conversations About Autism

The year was 1965 and it was a chaotic time in their lives. 

Mimi was seven months pregnant when she and John moved from their small apartment to a house that would provide the extra space that would be needed after the birth of their second child.  The November move brought with it the necessity of organizing a new home in the midst of the hubbub of Thanksgiving and Christmas, all while keeping up with fifteen- month old George who was walking and talking and busy, as only a child that age can be.  By the time the holidays were over, Mimi was in nesting mode and soon little James was born.  James was a sweet and easy baby compared to George, who had cried frequently between nursing and had not been a good sleeper.         

As Mimi finally began to settle into a new routine with two boys under…

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