Thursday, December 28, 2006

Autism Spectrum Disorder

I'm still not finished writing my resignation post. It is quite difficult to take serious, raw emotions, and write them in the most neutral way possible. I am still writing it, and will post it when I'm finished.

In the mean time, I have been reading autism blogs. Not the ones written by angry parents, by the ones written by adults who have autism. In no way have I acually been able to read all of the blogs with autistic authors, but I do think I have a fairly good sample of what is out there.

Most people in this world only hear about how devastating autism is, and how it destroyed their family and robbed them of their sweet innocent little child. I have an autistic child, and I don't share those feelings. He was one of the 25% of autistic children who actually regressed. He did so when I went to college all those years ago.

I read Joseph's blog, and followed the link to research papers that opened my eyes to things I hadn't thought of before. For instance, I didn't know that family stressors were cited by parents far mor often than any other factor.

Know something funny? Suzanne Wright, in her interview on The View, explains that her daughter and son in law had just purchased a new home, and were expecting a new baby when their son was diagnosed with autism. So no wonder they were so angry with autism. They had a perfect little life planned out for themselves, and boom! Their kid has a disability. I wonder what would have been different if their child had been born with Downe's Syndrome? The stigma? The knowledge that they can't cure Downe's syndrom? The fact that the Downe's syndrom community advocates for acceptence? Hmmm. Ok, so this is an angry parent, but it isn't a blog, it is the Autism Speaks chairfamily!

Anyway, if you are interested in knowing what really happens to autistic kids, read the blogs of autistic audults. Who would know better than they? (They were kids once too!) Autism Diva was the first ASD adult blog I found. She is quite articulate and very politically active. Joel is an autistic adult who holds a full time job and advocates for the civil rights of Autistics. He also has a web site that is quite intersting and informative. Check it out.

Another really good source for see autism for what it really is and not as what the poor little autism parents you hear so much about say it is, check out the autism hub. It might be a real eye opener!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

I've learned a new trick!

I DID IT! I really, really did it! I learned the basic basics of xhtml, javascript and css, and then found a blog that offered instructions for making my main blog more visually stimulating. (I had to do something to distract my obsessive mind from the big break up - that's right, I quit!)

Let’s face it. Long blog posts are dreary and dreadful. I hate them so, but can’t seem to find it within to be less verbose. Let’s face it. Writing is fun. Re-reading occasionally is fun. Scrolling through endless pages of text isn’t.

So from now on, when you see the read more link, and actually want to read more, click it and be prepared. You may be scrolling a bit.

Click it at your own risk!

Well, you won’t get carpal tunnel scrolling down today. But there is a post coming…..

Now I just need to figure out how to get the cool calendar so many not blogspot blogs have!

Christmas Came!

It came without ribbon! It came without tags!

It came without packages, boxes or bags!

Being poor didn't stop Christmas from coming, it came!

Even though I ignored it, it came just the same!

We even had snow!

Look at all of that sugar! Megan came over Sunday to help make all this stuff. Zach decorated the cookies. I thought they turned out quite well.

Apparently, I'm allergic to cookies and fudge, however. My whole body is all swollen up! I am wearing sweats right now because my pants are so tight!

I wanted to post this yesterday, it was all ready, but I couldn't get blogger to upload more that one picture, so I went with snapfish today. Should have done it sooner!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Why a Degree is Important to Me

Long time no write! Well, it happens.

I had to abandon the novel. I was going really strong, things were really clicking. Then I did some research on Catholocism and BOOM! story's over! The whole premis was off, and I really didn't want to go back and fix it. Oh, it could be fixed, like the hot water heater (which is such a joy!), or my stagnating life (another post about resigning is coming), or my image (make up and curly hair must be the bomb). The novel just wasn't worth the blood sweat and tears or I would have fixed it. I might, someday make necessary reparations, but I have much to do to get ready for the next phase of my life.

Poor College Student. So, I'm begging for handouts now. I have received a $3000 scholarship for the first two semesters of school, but, I think I might need a little more. So, I'm applying for another scholarship, and they expect an essay. So I wrote one. What do you think? Would you throw money at me?

Why a College Degree is Important to Me
A college education was not an option for me after graduation. While my brothers were prodded to get a real education (neither had any desire to go), much less was expected of me. My grandmother told me, when I was 19, that if I didn’t get serious about finding a man to marry, I would end up an old maid. No one believed I had more to me than that, not even me.

Many things have since opened my eyes to what I am capable of achieving. I am so proud of the things I have accomplished, yet I hunger for so much more. I have so much more to offer this world, and I feel that furthering my education is the key to giving all that I am. I have acquired many skills that will help me to get where I want to be, and the door of educational opportunity is now open. I have stepped in.

I did get married, and had two beautiful children, Megan and Zach. When they were still babies, my husband encouraged me to attend classes at the local community college. I decided to give it a shot, still sure I was not smart enough to succeed. To my surprise, I did succeed. I spent the first two semesters on the President’s list and the remaining semesters on the Dean’s List!

I majored in psychology, a subject I was especially adept at in high school. In college I excelled. I loved learning about the reasons people behave the way they do. I loved learning about how I came to be me. The world was so interesting and exciting, and my future was bright. But life has a way of interceding when you least expect it.

My son began to exhibit strange behaviors. People kept telling me about someone they knew that knew someone with autism, and it took me a while to accept the fact that he had autism. I realized that he was going to need all the attention I could give him and began to prepare myself for the long road ahead.

It was at that time that my husband became addicted to methamphetamines. I realized if I didn’t leave him, he would drag the children and me down with him. I became a single parent, with no help, financial or otherwise, from my ex-husband.

I did get my AA degree, but I had to get a job so that I could support my children and take care of my son. Continuing my education went to the back burner, where it has simmered since. It is remarkable to think about how, in the thirteen years that have followed, my eyes have been opened in ways I could never have predicted.

I have worked in the local school district since 1994, teaching children with profound disabilities. I have been able to get through to people who can’t talk when others had failed. I have helped long ignored kids show the world that they have great abilities, and incredible drive. What I did for them, however, pails considerably compared to what they taught me about unconditional acceptance, courage, and perseverance.

I have also been privileged to mentor at risk teens that come into our extended resource classrooms as partners. I have learned that I have so much to offer to people who have been seriously underestimated. I know what it is like to be in that place, and I know how to help young people find their own worth.

I learned a lot about applied behavior analysis and psycho-social rehabilitation while seeking treatment for my son. I was trained to use behavior modification to deal with my son, and found it to be very useful in my job as well. My son is expected to be able to live a full, productive, independent life. There is no cure for autism, so he will always have to struggle to survive, but he has the skills to make it.

My children have both graduated from high school. My daughter is taking classes at the same college I started at. My son just got a job at McDonalds and is so excited about working for his own money. At work, I have found myself stagnating, and I know I could do so much more if I went back to college to get my bachelor’s degree. Now, after all these years, I have the opportunity to do just that.

It won’t be easy, but I know how to live on almost nothing. I also know that I can succeed in a college setting. I know that I can attain this degree because I love to learn and grow. Should a time come when I feel overwhelmed, I will think back on the face of the child who walked across the stage at her own high school graduation. She had the courage and perseverance to show everyone who said she couldn’t that they were wrong, and in my own way, that’s exactly what I am doing.

With a bachelor’s degree in psychology, I will have the ability to work with people who have disabilities that affect their ability to function socially. I want to work with troubled teens. With a bachelors degree, I can help them to work through some of the behaviors that have caused them problems time and again. With a bachelor’s degree, I will be closer to fulfilling my own destiny.

I don’t intend to stop with a bachelor’s degree. In order to really show everyone (especially me) that I am so much more than a future old maid, I intend to get a PhD in psychology. I would be the first person in my family to attain a PhD of any kind! It’s been a dream of mine for some time now. It’s the kind of dream I hope to pass on to many other young people. The only way to get there is to go back to school and get that degree. I have the courage to do it, and I know I have the perseverance to get the job done.