Life, Autism, Disability, and More

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Today was the Special Kids Day at the Galveston Rodeo!

Today was also the day that the weather forecasters were totally wrong (again!), and while they promised that the rain would hold off until the end of the events. Didn’t happen.

We got there by 8:30 because Simon’s teacher told us that the bus would be leaving the school at 8 a.m., and they expected to be there within about half an hour. I could have sworn that, in years past, it was more like 9:30 or 10 before the busses got there, but I gave up my morning coffee just to make sure we were there on time.

The parking lot was empty when we got there.

No busses.

Lots of volunteers, standing around in purple and blue and other colorful shirts. Lots of cool stuff set up for later in the day.

But nope, not any sign of school children (or adults) with special needs.

Okay.  We hung out in the car.

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And watched it get darker. And darker. And darker.

We got out of the car, stood over by the covered arena. Met up with the head of special programs for DISD who told us that she hadn’t even heard from the schools that the kids were on the way.

Whoops.

And it kept getting darker. And darker. And darker.

Then it started to rain, just as the busses showed up.

We had our umbrella with us, and we all got under the covering and into the seats.

Then it was time for waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

A lot of the busses had been delayed by the weather, so what normally started at 10 am instead started at about 11.

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But it did start, and everyone did enjoy it.

There was roping, barrel racing, bull riding, all the stuff that had been promised.

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There was, however, no carnival. No rides. No games.

The officials there decided to go ahead and bring the lunch into the kids instead of trying to herd a group of kids through the rain to the other covered building.

That was when we decided to go ahead and leave. Simon never lasts much beyond the rodeo – he has a really hard time transitioning back to school after trips – and so we let his teacher and his aides know that we were going to go ahead and take him out.

We headed to Sonic, got him a grilled cheese, and ran some errands.

Simon did have a bit of a rough day after that; I think the change in schedule really messed with him, and the weather was heavy and oppressive and definitely didn’t help any of us.

Nonetheless, a good time was had by all, as I think is clean from the pics included throughout this blog. 🙂

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DSCF2035Which we can’t forget because Simon told us multiple times after school today.

Our current schedule for Mondays is that Patrick comes home early to get Simon off the bus because I have class until 3:50. Then I come home after class, and we normally hang out, hit the store, whatever. Today, I got home, and Simon immediately let me know what tomorrow is: the rodeo!

He loves the rodeo.

It’s the Galveston County Rodeo, and every year, they offer a ‘Special Kids Day.’

It’s free, and it’s awesome fun. They have a short rodeo, complete with barrel riding, bull riding (teenagers trying to win scholarships – it’s very unique to see a high school boy trying to hang on to a bull for 8 seconds…especially for those of us from NJ who never thought of bull riding as a high school sport), and roping. Then the kids get free rides on whatever they open up in the carnival, and they get to play games that they always win and get little prizes. Simon normally gets at least one stuffed animal and hops on the merry go round.

So that’s where we’ll be tomorrow, bright and early.

Simon will hop the bus to school, eat his breakfast, and then hop the bus to the rodeo.

We, meanwhile, will eat our breakfast and then head to the rodeo and meet up with him and the rest of his class. Hopefully the rain will hold off until the afternoon!


april 12I know it’s only April, but I’ve already begun thinking about Simon’s birthday party. For a few reasons.

First, he’s going to be 13. Thirteen. A teenager. Oh dear god.

Second, we like to give him a good party because he likes it. While he doesn’t always seem to “get” birthdays (he will still tell you he’s 10 when you ask him how old he is), he likes to get presents. So planning a party – and setting up a quick Amazon wish list for him – is something that’s good to get done in advance.

Third, and final, he asked.

That’s the weirdest – and most important – part of it. Simon often starts focusing on the future, but it’s normally not a good kind of focus. It winds up being more like an obsession. He repeats it, he lets it upset him, he can’t let it go.

But in this case, he brought it up, saying that he wanted his birthday party. I asked him where he wanted it, and he told me, “Chuck E Cheese.” Because, as he has learned from all the commercials, Chuck E Cheese is where a kid can be a kid. So he loves going there, even if he doesn’t actually play most of the games. He much prefers to run in circles, see Chuck E when he comes out, and choose a prize.

Ah, prizes. When Simons hit the prize counter, we normally have anywhere from 500 to 1,500 tickets. Sometimes even more. Why? Because we will play the games and win the tickets (hey, it’s fun!), but then Simon looks at the prizes and picks something that costs 20 tickets, like a small orange spider. Then all those tickets roll over. Every once in a while, he picks something big, like a ball (anywhere from 200 to 1,000 tickets) or even a slinky (60 to 500 points).

Back to the topic at hand, though.

The party!

Simon asked for the party, and while he wanted to go to Chuck E Cheese since then, he hasn’t focused on it just being for a party. He hasn’t decided that he needs a party now now now.

That’s success for us. And him.

So we’ll be planning the party, and I’ll be setting up his Amazon wish list, and we’ll see (some of) you in June!


Yes, he hit the ball!

Yes, he hit the ball!

First off, for those in the Houston area who are reading this, I highly recommend you register for the Family to Family Network Conference and Resource Fair.  They have two this year – both of them just under a full day long.  The first one is Saturday, March 22, and it lasts from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

I had registered for it.  There are some awesome-sounding panels.  I was going to “The Future is Sooner Than You Think” and “Working out Conflicts” and “My Kid in One Page or Less.”  All of that sounds really, really good, right?  I’m sure it would have been.  But it turns out I won’t be going.

Why not?

Because on the first of March, Simon started the Hometown Heroes Challenger League.  It’s the Little League Baseball team meant for children with disabilities.  They have volunteer boys from the Little League who come and work one-on-one with the kids on the Challenger League, and the Challenger League gives the kids who wouldn’t normally get to play Little League a chance to, well, play Little League.

Going out to the field...

Going out to the field…

I missed the first game.  I had planned, before I knew the game schedule, a trip for business to Seattle.  I couldn’t cancel it, and it would be okay; my husband was taking Simon, and they would have a great time.  (They did.)

But I missed it.

I wasn’t there for it, and while I got a wealth of pictures and even a few videos, I wasn’t there for it.

So I look at it this way – I can go and learn about my child in an abstract way.  I can figure out future plans that may or may not happen. I can hear about conflict resolution.  And I can condense everything about him into a single page to help others learn about him.

Or I can go and actually be with him.  I can watch him play.  I can help him.  I can cheer him on.  I can see what he does.

I don’t think there’s really much of a choice at all there, is there?