Friday, April 22, 2011


Yesterday evening, Ben and I played with some Play-Doh at the dining room table together; then he wanted to color, so I put his Crayons and a coloring book on the floor between the dining room and living room for him.  Because I am sick and felt horrible last night, I went to sit in the recliner.

I know.  That was a mistake, and it is completely my fault.  I know better, and I deserve the scrubbing I had to do and the carpet cleaning I will have to do.  Judge all you want, but I felt like complete poo, and that is my excuse.

Ben came up to me and said, "I made lines!"  My first thought was, "What do you mean 'lines'?" because Ben doesn't draw in lines.  His extremely delayed fine motor skills are one of the more obvious signs of his high-functioning Asperger's.  When we had him diganosed through the school district, they estimated his fine motor skills were at about 18 months of age, and he was 4&1/2 at the time.  It was terrifying, and one of the reasons I was driven to find a better placement for him.  His former class was so over-crowded that his teacher could not work one-on-one with him, and his fine motor delay was grossly neglected.  Ben draws in unformed scribbles and specks, or so I thought. 

I went to see what he was talking about, and sure enough, about four feet from where I was resting, there were lines.  Of crayon.  On the carpet.

That poor carpet. 

But I barely had time to think about that, because THERE WERE LINES!  BEN DREW LINES! 

I was so excited I cried.

We had him draw more, and he carefully held the crayon with his pointer finger on top to guide it and drew lines.  LINES!  STRAIGHT LINES!  And just now, as I was typing this, he drew a circle.  A CIRCLE!  I nearly fell out of the computer chair.  And I cried again.  Ben thinks I've lost it, but that's okay.  I am so proud and relieved I can barely stand it.

It's amazing how much hope a line of crayon on the carpet can give a person, but that comes along with this syndrome.  The 'little' things are amazing for children on the spectrum.  Because they struggle with those little things.  Those things some people get to take for granted, parents of kids on the spectrum get excited about.  What some parents would be angry about, I want to frame and hang on the wall and save forever. 

Of course we told him not to draw on the carpet and that coloring is for paper, but it is impossible to be angry about your child's success.  And I do consider this a beautiful, wonderful, glorious success.  It's progress, and progress deserves to be celebrated. 

We work with him at home, and his occupational therapist works with him, but I know this success is due to his new teacher in his new placement.  He brought home a huge stack of papers on which he had helped cut, paste, draw, and trace his name.  There were at least twice as many papers in that stack from about nine weeks in Mrs. S's class than he brought home from his two years in his former placement.  They work with him every day.  They work and they work, and now Ben can draw LINES!

Beautiful, wonderful, glorious lines!

Saturday, April 2, 2011


I am not a political ranter.  I do not do this often and hope to not have to again.  But this is a bit of a rant.  An angry, outraged rant.

I recently learned of a proposed state budget plan to cut Autism services, as well as pre-kindergarten.  THEY WANT TO ZERO OUT THE ENTIRE AUTISM SERVICES BUDGET.  Meaning no more Autism services in the education system of the state of Texas.  I am outraged, horrified, and frightened in response to this choice and the possible harm it will cause to Ben and every other Autistic child in our state.  The population of children with Autism is climbing at a terrifying rate, and our state is responding by cutting services for them.

Ben has received speech therapy, occupational therapy, and PPCD (special education pre-school) services, and he is currently thriving in an Autism PPCD class, which he is supposed to attend next year.  Those services have yielded a multitude of positive results for my son, and we have been given a great amount of hope for his future.  He would be lost in a regular classroom.  He would be lost without his teacher, who specializes in teaching children with Autism and has many years of valuable experience.

The state of Texas is attempting to devastate my son and his future.  It is also attempting to devastate the futures of all the children with Autism in the state, as well as the strength of the state's future workforce and stability.

But they are prepared to add obesity services.  Autism is a disorder which cannot be prevented or cured, and causes multiple learning issues.  Obesity is not and does not. 

I witness first hand every day the amount of sugar and deep-fried foods that my kids cart around in their backpacks and eat after school or whenever a teacher is not staring directly at them.  They turn down fruit at breakfast and vegetables at lunch, and would rather go hungry.  One of my students last week informed me that he ate an entire box of zebra cakes for dinner.  There is no school program that can help that.  All the funding in the world is not going to eliminate that, but it would do an enormous amount of good for special-needs children.

I have worked very hard for the last eight years to provide a first-rate education for my students, only to have my own son's services threatened by a group of politicians who have probably not spent one minute with an Autistic child or in an Autism unit.  They are threatening my son's future, as well as that of countless other children in our state.

The slogan "Don't mess with Texas" comes to mind.  Texas should not mess with our children.  They have a right to an appropriate education.

I have emailed our governor, representative, and state senator.  I urge you to do the same, if you are so inclined.