Archive | June, 2011

The rainbow has more value than the gold

As the light breaks through the clouds, one storm ends to reveal a spectrum of light… so beautiful, so magical… a rainbow.

Some would say that a rainbow hides something golden, at it’s end… but I argue that it shows us something golden before it’s end.

A golden treasure never found has no value. Even if it could be found, it has the potential to change, corrupt and even destroy a person’s life. Those without such riches are seldom ready for their burden without first taking the time to earn them.

If you have not learned what you have not earned, you are doomed to lose it.

A rainbow is never hidden. It’s value has no consequence. You need not earn a rainbow to appreciate it or enjoy it. You run no risk of ever losing it.

A rainbow can be enjoyed by all so long as they take the time to stop for a moment. It’s beauty is right in front of you.

How does this relate to Autism?

Well, we’ve all heard the comparison between the Autism Spectrum and a rainbow… but in this case, it’s so much more than that.

A rainbow is what is right in front of you, your child. The quirks, the imperfections, the repetitions, the frustrations, difficulties, the precious moments, the wonderful times… everything.

Perhaps that rainbow is hiding a pot of gold but what is it’s true value? Some hugs? Some kisses? Loss of speech? It’s actually so much more than that. It could be the requirements that person needs to have an independent life.

But the gold is nothing more than abilities, skills, experiences…  while valuable to you and I, have no real value to someone that’s never found them. They can be very overwhelming and even destructive when forced on someone that’s never had them before.

Don’t look beyond the rainbow in search of gold. Don’t look beyond the Autism in search of an ability or skill.

Your child is right in front of you and you could miss it while searching for something golden inside them.

The rainbow that is right in front of you has far more value than the gold that you’re trying to find.

What a privilege to be here on the planet to contribute your unique donation to humankind. Each face in the rainbow of colors that populate our world is precious and special.
Morris Dees

The Rainbow

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The imperfect parent

As I go back and read some of my old posts, I begin to realize that I seldom write about the things that go wrong, or that I do wrong or that are just wrong in general… unless it’s a life lesson of some kind that involves my son or Autism.

I started to realize that this is generally true of most blogs since most people write about what they find useful or informative. Little mistakes or things done wrong usually aren’t a topic of choice.

However, this can be a tad misleading as people who read your blog for a year or so might begin to see you as some kind of perfect parent.

Hint: there is no such thing as a perfect parent.

There are some people that we’d like to have for parents, depending on our preferences, but not a single one is ever perfect. Especially in the beginning… and even more so if our children have special needs.

The small mistakes

smarties megaThe other day, Cameron and I were home alone for the day while my wife and other son Tyler were out of town. I decided that Cameron and I should have some fun with games and treats so off to the store we went. He saw some over sized Smarties for sale and really wanted them. Without giving it a second thought, I said yes.

Now, I know full well that M&M’s do not have gluten and Smarties do. I also know full well that we do not give Cameron gluten. But it never even crossed my mind until the next day when my wife said something about it.


It didn’t seem to affect him much, but it was still a rather large mistake on my part. I mean, had it of been allergies that could have had serious health risks, would I have had made the same mistake? In my opinion, yes… which is a scary thought.

It’s just far too easy make small mistakes when your mind is elsewhere… like on all the fun you and your son can have.

Some lessons take time

I often write about how Autism has taught me to have far more patience than I thought possible previously, but it wasn’t an instant lesson.

I certainly won’t lie to you about this. You don’t just have a child scream at you and poof, you learn how to have more patience. No, quite the contrary. You lose it at first. You get frustrated, you get mad… you get impatient. Your little one earns time outs when they probably shouldn’t have been time outs, they get early bed times when really they probably shouldn’t have… all too often, I’ve been far more upset with Cameron than I really should have.

Partially it was due to my lack of understanding on exactly what meltdowns were or how they worked. But even still, I knew that he was little, I knew that he didn’t know any better and I knew that it wasn’t his fault. But as a new parent, I did not have the patience to listen to it for long.

I wish I could go back and handle many situations differently.

Practice to the end of infinity and you’ll be perfect

In other words, it’s not possible.

Perfection definitely takes practice but even then, you could practice forever and never really reach it. We all make mistakes and parenting is definitely a learning experience that will give you a lot of practice.

I only gave 2 examples when really I could give you about 500, but who wants to read a blog post that long?

I am far from perfect and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I make more than my fair share of mistakes but I learn from them. That’s why it’s important to have loved ones and friends with you and to keep on learning as much as you can… not necessarily to avoid mistakes but to have them pointed out, explained, shared… and that’s how you truly learn from them.

Don’t read my posts or tweets or Facebook information and think that I’m perfect. I’m definitely not. Instead, just understand that what I’m sharing with you has come after several years of not being perfect.

I don’t know if I’m learning how to be a good parent but I’m definitely learning how to be imperfect!

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The best part about the Autism community is…

One could argue that the Autism community is strong, but really it’s quite divided… one could also say that it’s very passionate but that passion is often what causes the division. One could say that it’s the amount of information that we have available and even make available ourselves but all too often, that information can be misguided, incorrect or down right deceiving.

I think, the one element within the Autism community that is truly what makes it great is the support. No matter the differences, no matter the disagreements… we all find a way to console each other, uplift each other, give advice to each other and even, when necessary, donate to one another.

Recently my wife’s laptop died which forced me to shift a desire into a need… I wanted an iPad for my boys but never made it a priority but when my wife no longer had a means of doing her work (online support), we needed to get her back online. And thus, the iPad became a need. So I made a donation page on my blog which resulted in our getting an iPad just a short month later.

What’s truly great about this is that none of us have much money, we all have therapy, travels, diets and other things that take up a good chunk of our money but when someone within our community needs it, we all find a way to help out with an extra $10 or so. And that is never lost on the person who gets it… it’s never forgotten the sacrifice that it is to those that could have used that money themselves.

For a friend

Living with LoganCaryn is the blogger at Living with Logan and tweets as @ihave7monsters… this name being specifically chosen because she is the mother of 7 children. One of whom, Logan, has Autism.

Since starting her blog and becoming active on Twitter, she’s done quite well for herself in getting a readership but she’s still needing to take it to the next level. For that, she’s hoping to get some help to go to BlogHer, a convention specifically focused on women who blog and helping them to turn it into a business, or to just simply do even better than they already are.

Caryn has started The Momma Project which is her drive to reach $1000 to get to the convention. If you have a little to spare, head on over and click on the Chip In button.

If you don’t, perhaps share the link or spread the word… and in time, when/if you ever need it, Caryn, myself and everyone within the Autism community will “pay it forward” in an effort to help out where we can for you as well.

Support is where you give it

On Twitter, I like to end each day by tweeting something a little positive, with the statement “Support is where you give it” as a reminder that we’re all helping each other. You have to be there with a kind word, some friendly advice or even a dollar or two if you can if you want to help keep the circle of supporting each other alive.

Your little bit of support added with everyone else’s little bit of support makes for a very powerful support system that could one day be there for you when you need it.

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Your iPad, Your Child and Your Restrictions

Thanks to you, you wonderful person you, my family was able to get an iPad for our family recently via your donations and my boys have been in heaven ever since.

It didn’t take long to realize that there would be a few things that I’d rather my boys couldn’t do with it though so… I took to the information highway to find out how to set some restrictions, also a few handy tips on easier/faster ways to do things.

As a fellow parent of a child with Autism, if you have an iPad or are thinking about getting once, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned.


If your children are anything like mine, then “pressing” an icon sometimes results in a very long press, which on an iPad, can be disastrous. Long pressing on the icons enables the ability to move and even delete programs completely. Luckily the app store allows you to retrieve apps again without having to pay again but still, what a pain. Especially if a lot of things are removed and you are left wondering what all is now lost.

Another painful feature is the “in app purchase” feature which developers like to use so much. That’s where they give you an app that does some nice things, but to do all of the nice things, you have to make a purchase from within the app. Kids seem to find these with relative ease.

With “Restrictions”, you can stop that from happening.

If you go to the main screen, you should see an icon called “Settings”, this is where you want to go first: 

This icon will take you to a screen that looks like this.

iPad Settings

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In the menu along the left, you need to find the “General” menu item. This holds a lot of information but also hides away the “Restriction” options that you’ll need.

There is also some other handy stuff, such as setting a “Password Lock” and “Lock Rotation” if you want it to stop flipping around when your child moves it.

The first time you press on “Restrictions”, it will ask you to enter a 4 digit passcode which is essentially a lock. This prevents little fingers from finding it and making changes to it. Some children are clever enough to find this and may wish to get around the restrictions you set. The passcode ensures that does not happen.

iPad Restrictions Passcode

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So set a passcode, something you won’t forget… and get yourself into the restrictions area. This is an area that you’ll want to become intimately familiar. For it’s in here that you can make it so that apps can not be deleted, in app purchases can not be made and more.

iPad Restrictions

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If you take a look at this image, you can see all of the options available but more so than that, take note of the top two options.

I’ve heard from one parent who said that their child discovered how to view Youtube videos and became obsessed with it. Their child would no longer do the apps, preferring instead to go straight to Youtube to watch their favourite videos.

Using the Restrictions page, you can now turn off Youtube so that the icon no longer appears on the screen.

** Youtube will still work though! If you truly want to prevent a child from watching Youtube videos, you will have to disable Safari as well or else they can just browse to a video, press on it and have it load from the browser.

A few tips

So you’ve locked down a few things so that your child is no longer installing, purchasing, removing or using apps that you don’t want them to. Now it’s time for you to learn a few things on the iPad that you may use yourself.

  • Quick way to get an apostrophe: That key that has an exclamation mark (!) and comma (,) under it actually also gives you an apostrophe (‘) if you press on it for a second. Press and hold that key down and the apostrophe appears.
  • Quick way to get quotation marks: The same as the apostrophe tip above, this time, press and hold the button with the question mark (?) and period (.).
  • Screen shots (picture of the screen): ever have your child do something amazing that you want to share and there’s no way to save what is on the screen? Well, now you can. Press and hold the power button at the top (don’t let go!) and then press the main button on the front of the iPad (you know, the round one with the square in it that does everything)… if you’ve done it right, the screen will flash white and you’ll hear a camera sound. Check your “Saved Pictures” album and you’ll find your screenshot!
  • How do you close programs?: That round button with the square in it has a hidden feature, if you double press it (press it two times quickly), a little hidden panel will show up at the bottom of the display which shows you all of your running programs. Press the red ‘X’ in the corner to close the program, or press on the icon to switch to it.

There’s a lot more to find and discover but these things should help you and your child to have a good learning experience with your iPad.

If you have any tips, please feel free to share them in the comments. We’re all here to help out each other and make the iPad experience as beneficial for our children as possible.

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When your autistic child says to you “Can I talk to you about feelings?”

A couple of days ago, my wife and youngest child were out of town, leaving Cameron and I to play video games and spoil ourselves with treats.

Three Little PigsI’m not sure if it’s just because it was the two of us or if he was just in the mood for it but at a completely random point in the day, he decided to tell me about the three little pigs and the big bad wolf. While telling me the story, he suddenly stopped and said “Dad? Can I talk to you about the pigs feelings?”

If you have a loved one with Autism, you can imagine how off guard this caught me.

Luckily, I didn’t have to do a lot of talking, he took over. He explained to me how mad the pigs would be, he explained to me which ones would be happy.

My first thought is on how proud of him I am. That he’s working so hard to understand the feelings of others… more so, feelings of three little pigs who, after all these years of being in this story, no one has ever stopped to think about their feelings. He’s trying to understand, he’s trying to know why.

The more thought I put into it though, I begin to realize what a true testament this is to his teachers at his school as well as to my wife, his mother. While it is true that he’d never reach this point unless he wanted to and was ready to… it’s also true that he wouldn’t be acquiring the abilities nor desires to reach these milestones if it wasn’t for the hard work of those who work so closely with him.

If you know my story at all, you know that my family picked up and lost virtually everything to move here so that he could be at this school… and in all he does, I know we made the right choice. But in little moments like this one… where he completely catches me off guard… I know that it was the best choice we have or could have ever made.

To my wife Natalie and to the wonderful women at Cameron’s school that are doing so very well with him, thank you so very much.

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