Monthly Archives: April 2012

Is it me or am …


Is it me or am I the only one out there who isn’t in love with wordpress pushing us all to use the wordpress home page.  I want to see my dashboard, not the homepage, yet it seems I need to get there to access features I use.  Stupid.  I end up having two tabs open in order to navigate this site.  I resent being steered like a sheep into a corral.  No, I’m not someone who spends their day on this site and so a lot of this is not second nature to me.  This site used to be a lot more user friendly than it is now, shouldn’t that be the other way around?  Pretty pissed right now because I spent too much time just searching for the blogs I follow and now I don’t have any time at all to read them… grrrrrrr!

Platelet Day With a Side of Yarn


Someone tell me what the heck is the point of fat free Half-n-Half?  For some reason, I need to see that creamy brown color to my coffee in the morning.  DH means well, but fat free just doesn’t cut it.  I seem to be using more of this stuff because the color is not there… no taste, either.  Sigh.

Well, on to today’s post which will just be a blurb.  I’m in a hurry and I do not have photoshop and I’m not sure which program out there will flip the photo so that ya’ll can read the card, but it says that I have my platelet donation appointment today.  I’m pretty excited because it’s been over a year since I last did this and it feels great to get back into the swing of things.  A little worried that my hemoglobin will be low because I’m not eating red meat a lot, but DH has been a blood donor like forever and he eats red meat even less than I do.  This morning will have scrambled eggs for breakfast and swiss cheese if we have any.  These eggs are fresh out of the hens and ducks, though I think the duck eggs are eaten.  Gotta be better than those that are mass produced.  We get them from my dad’s neighbor in PA.  Same guy that searches the woods for mushrooms.  He’s from an East European country, but I forget which one, and this guy has kept his traditions.  Amazing.  I’m not dead yet, so I feel comfortable saying that he knows what he’s doing.  The mushrooms have a really earthy taste… so different from the farmed ones.  I can’t eat a lot of fermented or fungus-y stuff; but every once in a while, I either saute them or make a soup.  The spouse skeeves (spell checker is no help) mushrooms, so all the more for me.

No spinning done yesterday.  I think I needed a rest since I spent the last few days spinning almost constantly, between daily tasks and whole nights.  In my former post, I said that the singles seem hard.  However, the possibility exists that once plied, the twist will relax and the yarn will feel softer.  Also, if it ply is not overly twisted, the finished yarn will be softer.  Do I have that right?  I’ll soon see because my bobbin is almost full, though I don’t see myself having the time to spin today because of my appointment.   WHICH brings me the idea that I can spend some time before my appointment at All About Ewe since it’s just two-three blocks away from there… woo hoo!  Missed going yesterday because of church commitments, but will be sure to get there today.  What I love about her website is that there is a page that lists her stock.  Very handy if you need something in particular, but that’s not to say that people don’t just mosey on over there.  It’s a very nicely put together store and very spacious as compared to a lot of other shops that I’ve been to.  Very nice situation, off street parking which is pretty convenient.

Okay, better get going I’m getting hungry and that means my day is starting with an nice eggs and toast breakfast, which is the most important meal of the day, you know!

Alpaca Project


Okay so after a whole day, I think I want to reference my first post on the subject:  here and here.

Spent a bit of time a lot of time yesterday spinning the reddish-brown alpaca fluff.  I’ve not gotten a proper comb yet, but been using this plastic pocket comb to flick the tips of the fleece that are stuck together.  It seems to be working out, but I’d love to properly comb this stuff out.  Oh, and why are only the tips stuck together?  If anyone knows, I’d really appreciate a comment to let me know.  Since I spun a lot of it, I’m going to keep going like this so that it’s all done the same way.  Not sure how much I’ll get, but I don’t really want to devote a lot of fleece to it, and I was thinking about doing a Navajo 3-ply.  This means I need to really stuff a lot of singles onto the one bobbin.  The texture is coarse and I’m thinking it could be because I didn’t comb it properly and that the fibers could have been lined up a lot better than I’ve been getting them.

I wasn’t going to say, but if you haven’t got a clue, I’m not a pro at this.  Big disclosure, right?  But you know, when I decided to do this, I decided to go on a journey, and part of that is committing to exploration.  I’ve never spun up alpaca and thought that I’d really love to try it.  In it’s natural state, the fiber is undyed, and not very bright or colorful.  I find that I do like the natural coloring and with working with this natural fiber, I find that I’m not distracted by ooogling and ahing at beautiful colors flying through my fingers.  I can concentrate more on the fiber itself and how it’s interacting with itself, my fingers, and the spinning wheel.

The most amazing thing is watching the loose, fluffy fibers attracting to each other to form an effortless twist and single strand of yarn.  They seem to almost magnetically seek each other out and twist into each other to form the single.  When I let it get pulled through my fingers, the strand is made smooth. When I let the twist travel into the draft zone, the natural twist forms a bit of a fuzzy halo around the strand.  Interesting.  The staple is not as long as other fibers I’ve worked with, so the twist seems tighter, or maybe that is how I’m working.  I’ve tried to slow down the wheel, but I don’t believe I’m getting a more relaxed strand.   Honestly, I can’t wait to “whack” this stuff.  I’ve never really done that before, but this time, I’m going to wash the finished hank and I’ve heard of people whacking a wet hank on the floor or somewhere and it’s supposed to “set the twist?”  Whatever.  I’ll ask someone.  The one thing that I’ve learned with spinning is to just relax and see what comes from your actions.  One time I made yarn that was way under twisted after plying.  It was so relaxed that it got me nervous.  The easy fix to that was to simply put it back onto the wheel and go another round of plying, but I did not unply it first.  All I did was run it through again, and it just twisted it a little bit more and that made a world of difference.

Okay, so the title of this post will also be what I am calling this Spinning Journey of mine.  “The Alpaca Project”

Deep Space #9 and Alpaca Stuff


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Beautiful isn’t it?

This is Frabjous Fibers, Vegan “Wool”, 100% nylon, Deep Space, #9 colorway, 8oz. and it feels like freaking cashmere!  759 yards of lace weight yarn in breathtaking blues, lavenders, some deep reds and whites.  I’d really like to make the Holden Shawlette out of this lovely stuff, but my friend, Rabbitridge asked me how nylon blocks and I’ve got to say that I have no idea.  I’ll have to check around.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to use the Vegan Wool.  Incidentally, if you’re not on ravelry, you won’t be able to check out the shawlette.  Sorry, but while I can share my own personal project, I can’t share other ravelry pages and I have no progress going on with my project.  I’ve put out feelers in the ravelry yarn group, one of the six main boards, I’ve reached out to the Frabjous Fibers, and the LYS I purchased the fiber from will be reaching out, as well, because this is pretty much uncharted territory for me and I guess most of my friends.  HEY, everyone plays with the organic stuff and this is a little high tech for yarn, right?

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Okay, while I wait to find out something, and after a really good tomato and provolone cheese sandwich, this second part will be the official first post pertaining to my newest endeavor, spinning yarn as a donation.  Recently, I received alpaca fleece from Faerie Tale-Fiber Farm  and will be spinning it as a donation to the No-Kill Sanctuary.  I’ll have to come up with some catchy phrase/name for my personal project, but for now, it’s the brown fleece referred to in my post, “Spinning to Give Back,” and hopefully, I can add more to this in a couple of days.  This is alpaca fleece came to me from So far, I’ve spun up a few yards just right out of the bag.  I wanted to play around with it to see how would be the best way to proceed. I was advised to spin it up first, before washing it and that kinda makes sense as there is no lanolin in the fleece, so won’t be greasy to the touch.  The fleece came to me really clean, but it smells a bit and I’m sure that is normal because, well, it came off an animal.  I don’t have a comb yet, so if I do more before I get one, it won’t be that much because though I love to spin right out of the bag, the strand seems hard.  I really want to line up the fibers and make it as smooth as I can… or as smooth as alpaca can naturally get.

So, for now, this is fun and I’m getting my fingers used to this fiber.  In the mean time, I found Prince behind the couch (while looking for my niddy noddy).  This is fleece from a black sheep I got at the New Jersey Sheep and Wool Festival about two years ago.  I’ve learned since then to find out what kind of animal you’re getting the fleece from…. moving along……… His partner in crime was also hiding behind the couch, some really nice gray llama fleece I got from the same festival, sadly no name.  You know, it’s really nice to know the name of the animal you get your fleece from.  It makes it so personal.  No name came with the stuff from the sanctuary, but I’ll have to see if I can find out.  I missed the next two years of NJSW and hope I can get there this year since I don’t go to the NYSW or MDSW… Two somewhat close ones, but I’d really like to spend the weekend.  MDSW might be a good day trip, but never could plan it out.

Okay chickies… until next time.


Just a quickie…. I’m pretty excited. I’m reblogging this post because its been linked to resources page for donating blood. What is so coincidental is that I got a call today from Marty at the blood bank that I’ve been donating to. For over a year I abstained from donating, banned for medical reasons. Marty’s call came not long after I approved the pingback and of course it worked out that I am available at the moment on Mondays. So chickies, I’ve got an important date on April 30th, at 4:30pm.

I’ve got to say that I’ve gotten the most response from whatever I’ve written about platelet donations, and while I write about more than that, I couldn’t be happier that people are responding and commenting on my few platelet posts. I’ve totally enjoyed interacting with my platelet donating peeps!

Keep up the good work and hopefully, I’ll rejoin the ranks of all you wonderful people out there…. All of you are amazing!

DragonMommie's World

Apheresis (ay-fur-ee-sis): A special kind of blood donation that allows a donor to give a specific blood component, such as platelets. During the apheresis procedure, all but the needed blood component is returned to the donor.

Yep… I finally was able to donate yesterday at the RIGHT hospital. If you don’t know the story, check it out here…. Guess what? When I walked in there, however, the security guard told me that she didn’t have any notification that someone was donating last night. I almost hit the roof again, but I said there must have been a mistake. So she made a phone call and whoever was at the other end of the line informed here that they didn’t know anything about it either, then she just looked at me. I said, “Look, this is the second time that this has happened to me.” In a way, that was…

View original post 1,168 more words

Spinning to Give Back


Woo hoo… A new post!  I should be writing this in my knitting blog, but I’ve just not had any inclination to write for that blog in a long time.  In total, I have three blogs now, and it’s a bit overwhelming for me right now.

This one is about a unique way to make a donation, spending little to no actual money…. my most favorite kind.  For one thing, even if I had the luxury of having extra cash to spend, I’m a believer in stewardship.  Time, Talent, Treasure.  Where I can sometimes abound in the first two, I am sorely lacking in the third.  My Time is my treasure.  I value that, above all else; and if I am giving you my time, it means that I value YOU.

I have skills and I have talent.  I will be shortly giving my time and talent to Faerie-Tale Fiber Farm/Faerie-Tale Alpacas, a NO-KILL sanctuary for rescued alpacas.  Go on over to her facebook page and check them out.  Linda and her daughter, Lisa, had brought their alpacas to the Grand Opening Weekend at All About Ewe a couple of months ago.  I took a pamphlet, and to be honest, stayed AWAY from her table of alpaca yarn and knitted goods… sigh.  Anyway, I found out that one of the ways you can donate to the sanctuary is to agree to prepare, and spin up alpaca fleece, then send it back to them so they can sell it.  All proceeds go right back into the animals and their upkeep, and medical expenses.   As a bonus, she will send you some for your own use.  My spinning friends, you can’t beat that deal because you’re getting at least as much as what you’re sending back to them.  It’s a great way to practice and fine tune your craft, while not actually using your own fiber.  For myself, I’m grateful to be given the opportunity to help out these animals we love so much for their fleece, while getting the opportunity to spin stuff I never did before.  My intention with this blog is to document my progress and the creation of whatever yarn which chooses to reveal itself.  This is what I received in the mail.  The brown bag for them, the black bag for me:

You can be sure that next time I will see if I can get this beautiful reddish-brown….

I’m working diligently to finish up what I’m working on right now, and you can be sure that I’ll not wait to start on this.  The weather hasn’t been all that great lately anyway, so just as well.

I’m just a couple of days away from completing the spinning of eight ounces of Vegan “Wool”, colorway “Deep Space #9, (love it) from Frabjous Fibers, found it at All About Ewe.  It’s 100% nylon and has the most vibrant colors I’ve ever seen and the softest fluff I’ve ever felt.  Oh, and hand-dyed in Vermont, USA.  The colors permeate the whole hunk of it, through and through.  If you’re like me, and prefer colors that really saturate the fluff, you will fall in love this half-pound of hand-dyed fiber.

Very smooth…. This is what I’m talking about:

You know, it’s so easy to get caught up in spinning for ourselves.  This craft is not appreciated across the board for the skill, time and talent it takes to create something beautiful from almost nothing, fluffy stuff.  You cannot place a monetary price, that people will pay, for a hand knitted item, let alone created with yarn that was handspun.  You just cannot possibly be justly compensated.  So we either create for ourselves or for others, but those “others” really must pass the grade to be judged worthy to accept something that is created with love, if even just a love for the craft.  We love what we do, but that doesn’t mean that we should be loose with it… humph~!  With that said, I love that I am able to give my time, talent and love for these animals and combine all that into something that can benefit them.

So if you’ve managed to get down to this place, I would put the question to you.  Do you spin?  Do you knit?  Have you given back lately, using your preferred craft?  I’ve love to hear what people out there are doing.


(I preface this post with a note that this post was already published and linked to “a diary of a mom”, prematurely, through the quickie post feature at WordPress and still trying to get used to it.  This complete post is really an update. My apologies for any inconvenience.)

This is Autism Awareness Month and my boy is autistic.

I don’t say that to draw attention to my son being autistic. I write that to draw attention to Autism.

Lately, I’ve been seeing embryos of posts for myself that start with comments I make on other blogs.  Finally, I am writing one here that I’ve written for Jess at A diary of a mom, which I highly recommend reading, BTW.  Her post today is entitled, “Passed Right By – and Never Knew”, thoughts that we all must be thinking.

Long before autism, I believed that we are meant to turn our negative experiences into positives by sharing them to help others.  There is such a liberation, a burst of freedom when this clicks within our consciousness.  Just think about it.  For eons people have been asking themselves, “Why?”  Why does God let this happen to me.  I believe that I’ve found the answer.

“…sharing them to help others.”  What I left out is “sharing them to help others who share the same suffering.”  While everyone suffers uniquely in intensity and within our own circumstances, we so deeply share the hurt of our suffering.  I am reminded of this just this morning.  Our son has been very upset lately surrounding “school”.  At first, I thought it was the typical adjustment from spending a week off from school without the structure provided at school.  I could not get out of him why he was so upset or what had happened to cause it.  This morning he told me that “the kids don’t let me play…”  This was the only phrase that I could understand, yet it burned me to the core.  If you know any of my history, you know that I spent 1st grade through 8th grade without friends, among people who actively pushed me away.  This morning, my hurt was Gabe’s hurt… and visa versa.  I took him in my arms and generously administered copious skin on skin back rubs.  I told him that not everyone is going to be our friend.  I told him that he does have other, new friends at the social skills group he just got into.  I told him that Zach is his friend.  I couldn’t tell, but I hope that was a consolation to him.

Just found an article I wrote about the “Blessings of Pain,” hoping to elaborate more about what our personal pain can be elevated to.

My quoted comment above states that I discovered this little bit of wisdom “long before autism” and that is correct.  For my whole life, I was wondered why God would isolate me, it seemed, so deliberately.  I wondered why none of my teachers or school principal did anything to help or stop what was going at school, a catholic school, btw.  Just this week I confided this bit of my history to a counselor at Gabe’s school and she had an answer that made sense and I had never even tried to rationalize an answer for myself.  She said that the reason they didn’t do anything was because they were thinking that this experience would make me strong.  Well, I don’t doubt that, but it had also screwed me up emotionally and socially for most of my life and I still carry the baggage that can be seen at times, more than I would like.  It’s dirty baggage.  It’s smelly baggage.  It’s damaged baggage.  My old school is closing and I cannot say that I am sorry to see that happening.  Thirty years later, my old classmates want to have some kind of party to commemorate the school.  Since on facebook, they had gotten dinners and fundraisers started to save the school even before this.  Needless to say, I had no desire to participate in any of this.  My memories are damaged.  Distorted.

Counselor Lady told me something that I knew already.  She said that God would not have let Gabriel into our lives if we could not deal, if we could not handle a child as special as him.  Yes, I knew this.  I didn’t know it from the first day, but I learned it.  After continually, if even with humor, complaining about how my life was over because I had a kid in my mid forties, I learned that I would’ve made a horrible mother if I had a kid when I was biologically supposed to, in my twenties.  I know more and accept more about myself now than I did before and that is so damn important… to be as comfortable as you can be in your own skin… BEFORE having kids, and this applies to ANYONE, any mother, any parent out there.  Young parents teach their kids what they were taught from their own parents because that is all they know, quite frankly, and I had a mom who was a yeller, screamer and a hitter (and I’ll not say with what).  An older parent can teach more than that.  We can teach what we’ve learned from our own lives, from our own personal perspective and less from the strict perspective of our parents.  I am SO aware that I am more like my mom than I care to be.  With this knowledge, I am super sensitive about checking myself before I get to the “hitting” point.  I’ll not lie and say that I was always successful, but I can say that those episodes were stopped very quickly and I have been successful for over a year now.  Even at his young age, I made it a point to apologize and ask for forgiveness.

Somewhere in my thirties I came to the realization, s-l-o-w-l-y, that all my hurtful experiences could be made clean by using them to help other people going through the same pain that I went through.  God made me a talker and even though I spent the first part of my life largely in silence, when I started talking you’d be hardpressed to try and get me to stop.  It’s well known that if someone had an issue and needed emotional support, what is appreciated and helps the most is if someone could talk to that person who had experienced the same problem.  Other people try to help and say the same kind, yet superficial and irrelevant words; whereas others who have that specific empathy, offer so much more than that.  They offer their own experience, they offer their own pain up in an effort to heal the hurt of another.  Grace such as this not only can help that person, but the person who offers it.  We are indeed healed a little bit more by sharing the most darkest parts of ourselves.  When we can realize the poetic harmony this plays in our lives, we will never question again the “why’s” of a tragedy.  We will never doubt or blame our God (whatever the name) for making us suffer.  We can immerse ourselves, bath ourselves in the pain and emerge on the other side with something in our pockets for an emergency.  With such an arsenal, we now can find purpose in any part of our lives.  We can be the wounded healers (I did not coin that phrase.  It’s the name of a book, “The Wounded Healer”, written by Henri J.M. Nouwen, one of my very favorite writers, may God bless his soul.  He also said, “By giving words to these intimate experiences I can make my life available to others.”

We are put on this earth to interact with others.  There is no doubt about that.  Let’s love one another.  Let’s help one another.  Let there not be hate or violence against others.

Hey, just adding in here that I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please comment with any and all of them.  I welcome any and all comments… with spam, disrespect and filth being the exceptions.  Thanks!

I think I only …


I think I only wrote one post about autism for April and I think it’s because I see a problem and wonder if it’s the autism or just a regular kid problem.  So, of course I think of this as I need to leave the house…. hopefully this will help me remember what I want to write tonight.  

So any thoughts out there on the subject.  My son was diagnosed late 2010, so I’m not exactly a pro at this.  I don’t have any other children, so when problems crop up, I wonder if it’s just a normal kid thing.  What’s your experience?

Sensory Friendly Theater


 

 

This is Autism Awareness Month and my boy is autistic.

I don’t say that to draw attention to my son being autistic. I write that to draw attention to Autism.

Every post from now on in the month of April, I will start in this way, regardless of content.  I’ve not done much this year I guess because I’m not a good planner, so this is the least I can do.  I have blue shirts and blue nail polish and briefly I contemplated dying my hair blue; but ya know it has no effect if I don’t leave the house.  Sometimes I wonder if there are people out there who will read this and listen…. especially people with the power to change things.  We’ve had little victories here and there, but in general I am disheartened by the apathy of the education system.  It’s either that they don’t give a damn, or maybe they are in a comfort zone they fear to leave.  They have a system and this autism thing just throws a wrench into the works and screws them all up.  I can tell you that when our school decided to form a social skills group, it was on the fly and they don’t even know if they’re doing anything right yet.  I was told that they are creating it as they go along and while I’m glad that they are trying, I’m a little  a LOT worried about how successful their efforts will be.

Well, God will answer our prayers.  In my case, because I’m not good at praying, He sees into my heart and knows what I need even before I know and I trust that.  I received today in Gabe’s backpack, an envelope from his Speech teacher.  Inside was a press release from the Union County Office of Public Information, announcing a new Sensory Friendly Theater series of performances specially designed for children with autism and related disabilities at the Union County Performing Arts Center in Rahway, NJ.  The notice is entitled: “Union County Offers Theater Program for Children with Autism and Related Disabilities.”  This is what caught my eye:

The new series, which begins on June 10 with Tom Chapin and Friends, is designed according to guidelines that help to reduce disturbances for youngsters who experience heightened sensory sensitivity. The Performing Arts Center is committed to a creating a judgment-free zone with plenty of trained specialists who understand autism and similar disabilities.

A sports program for the autistic child, it is not; and I personally would LOVE such a sports program.  Seriously though, I wouldn’t care if this was a special program for making 10′ snowmen on a hot July afternoon.  I’m in a state of elation right now because these are exactly the types of considerations our kids absolutely need in order to benefit from their participation.  Adults who have training and understand autism (and similar disabilities) are absolutely essential for a successful program such as this.  There is a lot more to this notice, but I keep coming back to the above words:  “judgment-free zone, trained specialists, understand autism.”  The sad fact is that our school professionals are officially none of these things.  Let me just stop right here and say that this in no way diminishes the teaching abilities of these professionals.  I think, as teachers, we are very lucky to have who we have, however…..   My experience with school professionals working with my boy:  Compassionate, yes.  Patient, yes.  Accommodating, yes (so far).  But even our Special Ed teacher is not trained to understand autism.  Why is that?  Well, she got her degree way back in I don’t know what decade and has had no other education to bring her uptodate on Autism or any (similar disability)… umm that really, no, REALLY doesn’t sit right with me.  I think I can be fairly certain of that because I’ve asked whether she had training and I never received an affirmative answer or any qualifiable answer.  Soooo, what would you think?  I’ve advocated to the principal, political candidates for office who come to our door, and anyone who’d listen, and even at a town meeting that it’s imperrative that our teachers be educated to understand autism.  I feverently believe that it’s not just unfair to ask our children to be put into a classroom with adults who don’t understand them; but it’s also unfair to put teachers into that same room with the knowledge, tools and strategies to educate these kids and navigate the myriad of possible disruptions that can occur.  So you see, I have reason to feel disheartened.  Anyone who comes to this door will continue to get an earful and I suppose will regret knocking on our particular door…. oh well.  SO to get this news today gave me a little hope.

I’d also like to share with you the person responsible, Union County Freeholder Chairman Alexander Mirabella.  I won’t replicate the whole announcement here, but here is a link at NJtoday.  If you’d like to call for information, here the number to call: 732-499-8226… OR here’s the link to Sensory Friendly Theater web page

Autism: The Life 2012


Last night my head was swirling around with ideas, but as always when it gets time to write them down, I’m a blank.  So, I’ll do what I always do, write.  Write down the strands of thought that surround my head like a maiden’s soft, light hair that moves with the breeze in a surreal kind of way.  Yes, I’m awake and hope you have the inclination to stay with me.

When we first leaned that our boy was autistic, I was devastated.  For him and for us.  We were new parents, well not “new” exactly, but he is our first and only one, which will probably remain that way since we are in our early and mid fifties.  We didn’t think we’d have him (if you’d like to read those details, you can look here) in the first place, so after seven years, I’m not so sure that God has another one in His plan for us.  In a way, I’m relieved as it would be a hardship, both financially and probably physically; but I do wish that our Gabe could have a brother or sister.   Not too long ago, he’d ask for one, almost constantly; and even now, he looks at my belly and asks if I’m pregnant…. oh boy.  Which reminds me of a most embarrassing couple of moments over this weekend at a hotel we were staying at for a wedding.  We walked by the hotel’s lounge and there was a man there with a huge gut.  Quite out of the blue, Gabe said, rather loudly, “Hey MOM, that guy’s PREGNANT!”  Well, I tried to ignore what he said which was a pretty bad mistake as he kept repeating himself all the louder because he didn’t think I heard him the first time, “MOOOM….”  It was all I could do to muzzle him and get him out the front door.   I tried to explain to him that saying things like that were inappropriate and tried to explain the concept of being insulted… think I failed with that, too.  This has not been the first time he’s brought the concept of men being pregnant as he has frequently expressed his belief that HE was pregnant just because he ate more than usual, gaining a pretty big belly.   He’d lift up his shirt, pointed to his belly and say, “MOM, I’m almost pregnant~!”  Now, THAT was funny.  Still, I had a hard time explaining that men and boys do not get pregnant, only women.  He’s not asked me what exactly that is “yet”, and I’m grateful.  After I thought I did a decent job explaining that men do not get pregnant, I was validated because the next day, we saw that man again and Gabe said (all too loudly), “MOM, there’s that man with the BIG belly~!”  Um… Yep.

Still, the incident, not surprisingly, had me pretty upset even though I tried not to impress that upon him, I’m sure that I did.  I’m maybe too obsessed about weight, or looks being singled out for laughs.  I’m quite positive that wasn’t the intent, but I’m still pretty sensitive to that and don’t want Gabe growing up, insulting people no matter what the intent.  He needs to learn this very differently than most kids do.  Even though we know that autistic children can learn social manners, it’s not so simple.  They do not pick up on social cues like the rest of us can, instinctually.  They need to be presented with the concept and they learn it much like an academic lesson in school and they need to practice it over and over.  They may never empathize, but they can learn to understand intellectually how important it is to learn and practice; but they may never truly “feel” that importance.  I’m not even sure that Gabe will ever learn to walk in anothers shoes, which has always been important to me, in my learning.  I always felt the need to REALLY understand things and, indeed, I’ve rarely followed through with  anything unless I truly understood to my own satisfaction the importance of whatever it was.

WHAT ARE SOCIAL SKILLS?

Social Skills are a set of behaviors that allow a child to get along better with other people.  A child with adequate social skills can adjust well to changes in his environment and can avoid verbal and physical confrontations with other people. A child who has poorly developed social skills, however, may have poor self-esteem, may display conduct problems (fighting, arguing, defying adults), and may have difficulty developing peer relationships.

WHAT IS A SOCIAL SKILLS GROUP?

Social skills groups focus on teaching children a variety of social skills to help improve their ability to make and keep friends, develop more self-confidence, and behave more appropriately.  Role-plays and group interaction will give the children opportunities to practice these skills during the group session.  The therapist will utilize behavioral reinforcement to promote rule compliance, participation, and use of appropriate social skills, while also encouraging and reinforcing the children to practice these skills outside of the session.  Objective information regarding the children’s behavior will be gathered before and after the group to measure the children’s progress and parents will be provided with written feedback at the conclusion of each group.

We are truly blessed to have gotten Gabe into a social skills group.  Please see the above for a good description.  This is where they learn behaviors which are so-called socially accepted behaviors.  The problem is that though they may try to interact with their peers, they never learned how to do that, as other children have learned and that is by picking up on the silent social cues and body language.  They don’t intuit what is the appropriate, recognizable response or non-response to what the other child/peer displays.  Also, Gabe’s group is a group of peers.  They see it as play and I’m sure Gabe thinks it’s a play date.

Gabe is seven years old now and maybe that’s too young to learn about how/why a person can be insulted.  I ended up repeating myself about the man maybe getting insulted, but then I realized that he probably has no what that would mean.  I am dedicated to keeping open communications with him.  He knows that whatever his question is, I will listen and I am frequently urging him to share his thoughts.  He knows that I will urge him to just tell me his thoughts.  Most times I’ve got to admit that I don’t really understand what comes out of his head, but I’ve learned to ask questions so that he’d have to elaborate on what he’s thinking.  I’ve also had to learn when to just let it be when that doesn’t seem possible.  Sometimes I grieve for the lack of communication and understanding.  Lots of times I feel a total disconnect.  I grieve because I’ve always dreamed of being a mom much different from my own mom.  She was totally unapproachable and I never opened up to her or she to me.  My dream was to have a totally different relationship with my children.  Open communication all the way.  If you can’t do that, what the heck kind of relationship IS that, anyway?  I am learning that Gabe conveys more to me than words ever could.  He is my teacher and has been from the first moment he took his first breath.  That is a post within itself.  So, Gabe is teaching me that not all relationships are the same.  Huh?  Didn’t I know that already?  Apparently not.

One last paragraph.  There are so many facets to Autism.  Just like the disorder, itself, there are so many areas of specialty, so many areas that really need to be improved, that really need the attention of the professionals and people just like you.  It’s totally overwhelming, so I take it in little bites.  The area I find myself focusing on lately is how badly our teachers NEED to be educated about autism.  Yet, our schools will fight to the death to stay in denial.  They refuse to acknowledge that intervention services are needed for the autistic child to get an “appropriate” education.  Forgive me, but mention the word “quality” and “education” together and you can kiss any intervention service good bye.   Does that make sense?  I have to ask because I’m not college educated, you know.  Total idiocy!  No matter how much compassion a teacher has, if he/she is not trained to recognize and deal with any problems that arise, not given the strategies they need to handle the tough situations, they will just end up feeling frustrated and might even label a child with a negative label, even… YES… even the label of BULLY.  This of course, would most likely stem from ignorance, but does anyone want this to happen?  I know I don’t.  My own son could be labeled as a bully because he tried, in his own “socially unacceptable” way, to make friends with another boy or just trying to get someone’s attention, again in his own way.  Maybe that need for attention was misinterpreted as bullying…. and I do see how that can happen.  I can see my son being confused and feeling rejected and may be even push the other kid in an attempt to gain their attention and maybe friendship.  Nobody and I mean nobody would see it that way in the mainstream world.   I’ve been through a rough patch lately with a mainstream mother verbalizing in front of me that she would not want her typical kid in the same class as my little guy.  That hurt a LOT.  It was only after a lot of hurt that I realized that she was probably severely uneducated, maybe misguided  even as she strives on a daily basis to project her highly educated personality.  The sad fact is that EVERYONE is in dire need to be educated, teachers, typical children, typical moms and dads.  So, maybe my focus should be on wholesale education for everyone… you can’t be overly educated, can you?

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