Life, Autism, Disability, and More

Category Archives: parenting

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Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

At Simon’s birthday party, he was showered with one of his favorite presents: books.

So many books.

So, so many books.

Maybe because the law of averages, he managed to get two of the same book. Since one of them had a gift receipt from Wal-Mart, we decided that was the easier one to swap out.

We returned it, and it went nice and smooth and easy. Gave it to them, got a gift card in response.

“Simon,” I said. “You get to buy something new! Do you want a book, a movie, a shirt?”(The list of some of his favorite things.)

“Yes,” he said, and he pointed towards produce.

Having no idea where it was going, I told him that I’d follow him.

He led on.

We walked through the produce and into the bakery. He wandered around it, looking at bread and cupcakes and…

“Are you looking for cookies?” I asked.

“Yes.”

I showed him where the cookies were, and he grabbed the kind he wanted – chocolate chip – and handed them to me.

“Okay, what next?”

He pointed to the back of the store and waited, looking at me.

“I’ll follow you,” I said. “Let’s go.”

And the grand tour of the store followed. We walked to the back. We walked to the side. We walked back to the front. Then to the back. To the other side. To the back again.

Half an hour later, I was getting tired. I convinced him it was time to pay and move on to our next errand.

He agreed, either tired himself or wanting to crack open the container of bakery fresh chocolate chip goodness.

To some people, it might not be a lot. Just a trip to the store.

But it’s more than that.

It’s a trip to the store where Simon gave the directions; where Simon picked out what he wanted to buy; where Simon made the decisions.

It’s Simon advocating for what he wants. Cookies.  

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baseball uniform*I might be the only one who remembers hearing this when growing up, so a quick explanation:
Little pitchers have big ears refers to the fact that adults must be careful about what they say within the hearing of children. The saying refers to the large handles (ears) sometimes attached to small vessels.

Now that I’ve forced that random knowledge on you…

Lately, I’ve been trying more and more to get Simon interested in average discussions and conversations. He doesn’t seem to be very interested in communicating more than his needs and wants, but I can’t help but believe that there are plenty of other things he could say if he could figure out how. When we go places in the car, and he’s stuck as my captive audience, I start trying to get him to have a conversation. I’ll ask what color the sky is, and if it’s grey, then I’ll ask him what he thinks that means. Questions like that are easy ones for him to memorize, though, so then I start asking harder questions, questions about what he thinks about and what he sees out the window.

One Saturday morning, he had a baseball game, and that afternoon, I took him to Target.  While we were in the car, I asked him what he was good at.

He said baseball.

I asked what else.

He said math.

I asked what else.

He said basketball.

It was a pretty nice list of things for such an abstract question.  

We went into Target and Starbucks (it’s an addiction! Don’t judge me!), and I told him he was good because he helped push the cart and waited patiently while it took forever for the barista to make my coffee.

When we got home, I thought I’d try to continue the conversation and pull Dad into it.

I asked the question again, and this time he began with baseball, but then said he was good at Logan’s (the restaurant where we ate lunch after the game and where we told him he did good at ordering his own food and then waiting for it to come to the table), and then he said he was also good at Target and Starbucks.

After he had added those in, he went back to the original list including math and basketball.

The point had been made.

Just because he’s a teenager who doesn’t say a lot, he definitely listens and learns. And he has huge ears. 


Beard and mustacheSimon started getting a mustache when he was 12. It was cool, though, because the school district allows mustaches from junior high on. (I’m not sure why.)

Now he’s 15, and he’s starting to get a lot of chin whiskers. It isn’t cool, though, because the school district does not allow beards. (I’m not sure why of this either…)

He seems to be quite fond of his beard, though, because whenever we ask him about shaving it off, no matter how we phrase it, no matter how we introduce the idea, his response is always the same.

No.

Apparently it’s not just his chin hair that’s started the no-ing in his life. It’s also the cafeteria food.

Simon is a grilled cheese connoisseur, and the school cafeteria does not meet his exacting standards when it comes to the proper presentation of grilled cheese.

Two grilled cheese sandwichesTop: Unacceptable. Simon will say no and refuse to take it because there is cheese on top of the bread.

Bottom: Acceptable. The cheese is in its proper configuration and does not cross the plane of the bread.

At home – and restaurants – this doesn’t be a problem, mostly likely (we’re guessing) because there’s not a choice involved. At home, he helps make it himself, and at the restaurant, it’s served to him. No choice to reject it and get a different plate from the line.

Hopefully, going with the flow when there aren’t other options a good sign.

Hopefully, that means that if we present him with a razor (without an option), he’ll decide that there’s no choice there, either.

Hopefully, if that doesn’t work, his high school will be understanding.

And hopefully, if they aren’t, it will be easy enough to create our own religion that requires members to grow beards and eat properly made grilled cheese sandwiches.


simon at lunchSimon came home from school happy about school, which is his normal status about school.

School is an amazing place, or at least he thinks that while he’s at home. (While he’s at school, it’s often a different matter and he can get mad at things not happening on schedule or teachers not being there.)

But today, it was happiness.

From the moment he got off the bus, he said school was fun.

I asked what he did at school. “Fun,” he said.

I asked again, emphasis on “what” he did…

“Learned.”

“What did you learn about?”

“High school.”

Okay, maybe that’s actually a “where” response, but close enough that I’ll take it.

These feelings about school didn’t fade away. He ran through his usual “script” about going to school and when he goes back to school (tomorrow morning).

But that wasn’t enough today. He kept repeating himself and wanting me to repeat it back to him.

So I came up with a social story on the fly and told it to him.

“In the morning, you wake up, then you get dressed, then you eat breakfast, then you get on the bus, and then you get to school.” I held up a finger for each step, numbering them one through five.

He nodded along, so I went for the repetition.

“What do you do first?” [One finger held up]

“Wake up.”

“Then what?” [Two fingers held up]

“Get dressed.”

“And then?” [Three fingers held up]

“Eat breakfast.”

“And next?” [Four fingers held up]

“Take the bus.”

“And what’s the last step?” [All five fingers held up]

“Get to school.”

“Do you feel better now?”

“Yes.”

“Great, so can you please get out of the bathroom? Because I kind of need some privacy now.” 


Driving Simon home from his doctor’s appointment earlier today…

Me, watching him blink slowly, his eyes closing: Are you tired?

Simon, in typical teenager must deny everything mode: No.

Me: I think you’re tired.

Simon: No!

Simon, head slowly tilting back towards the headrest, eyes continuing to blink slowly.

Me: Are you falling asleep?

Simon, rallying quickly: No.

Two minutes later, I grabbed a picture at a red light…

Simon asleep - I'm not tired!


elastic jeans - sideshowmom - morguefilesAccording to Disability Scoop, now that Cat & Jack’s accessible clothing line for kids has become popular enough at Target, they’ve decided to expand their line to include adults. To be specific, women. Not men.

This is a problem for us, and most especially for Simon.

Simon is 15. He wears men’s sizes. He needs accessible clothing.

His needs aren’t great. He needs jeans with elastic waistbands, and he needs t-shirts without heavy graphics on them.

The t-shirts we can find.

The jeans? Not happening.

Yes, Tommy Hilfiger has their line of accessible clothing for adults, but, let’s be honest, they aren’t exactly in the same price range as Target, and they are also hard to shop.

Before writing this, I tried to check out the Tommy Hilfiger website for their accessible adult lines. There is a link on the side, but no matter how many times I clicked on links, and no matter how many links I clicked on, I couldn’t find it, so I can’t even provide a price range.

Here’s the thing about the jeans, though – there is nowhere that I can find cool men’s jeans that have an elastic waistband.

Yes, I can buy them online, but the only ones I can find in men’s sizes are geared towards men in nursing homes, and they tend to be less jeans and more khakis. They also tend to be about $50 a pair.

Yes, there are other types of pants that have elastic waistbands. There are sweatpants, there are joggers, and there are those khakis. He can’t wear sweatpants to school, though, and khakis are not 15-year-old friendly. Joggers aren’t bad, but they have the elastic around the ankles, which does not seem to be Simon’s favorite thing.

Now here’s the other things about jeans – women have an entire line of “mom pants” that can be found at almost every department store. They have elastic waistbands. They are comfortable. But they’re styled for women, and they’re designed for a woman’s body. They aren’t styled or designed for a 15 year old boy.

I don’t know why it’s so hard for companies to understand that men with disabilities have the same needs as kids and women. Do they think that men don’t want to look good? Do they believe that men don’t care how they look? Do they not realize that the market is there?

I’m really hoping to see Target branch out as soon as possible, or maybe see another affordable company hit the market. And I really hope it’s soon because it would be nice for Simon to have good, comfortable jeans before he’s out of high school.  


As I might have mentioned in the previous post, Simon wants to go to ESY (Extended School Year for those not in the know).

He really wants to go to ESY.

He really, really wants to go to ESY.

For the most part, he’s calmed down. But he checks the calendar and asks about it every day.

And he likes me to write about it.

Normally when he asks me to write things down, we wind up filling up a page with repeated sentences.

Sometimes they fall into particular patterns, like if he gets anxious about dad not being home. Then we have a rote way of handling it that includes repetition of “Dad is at work. Dad will be home at dinner time. We will wait for Dad. We won’t cry for Dad.” That goes on for as long as it has to until he calms himself down.

This time, though, he wanted me to write something down, and then he told me that “Mom said it.” What I said was that there was no school. I decided to be clever, so I put a word bubble around it, and then drew myself. Poorly.

He liked it, though, and then he said, “Mom, there’s no school.” And he pointed at the page.

I wrote it down, word-bubbled it, and drew him.

cartooning

As you can see, from there, he had a lot of fun telling me what to write. I had to stop him when the page ran out of space, but by then he had calmed down and was doing okay again.

I may not be the most talented of artists, but I’m good enough to make Simon happy, and since he’s my only audience (other than you fools who are reading this), I think I’ve hit my market.