Archive | December, 2011

Some Autism resolutions for New Years

I’m not really a big resolutions person. I believe that people should try to improve on themselves all year round, not just because they bought a new calendar.

Still though, it is a tradition and in that sense, I thought I’d offer up some thoughts on things that we all (or at least, most of us) could resolve to do a little more, less or better in the new year.

Some suggestions

2012 new year wishes on sea1. Stop using the word “retard” or “retarded” to describe things, situations or people that you do not understand or that makes no sense to you. In fact, stop using the word entirely.

2. Stop assuming you know a person’s life story by a brief moment in time. The lady at the store with the screaming child? You don’t know her. You don’t know her child. The homeless guy that only wants to share a smile with you? You don’t know how he got to be homeless. It could have been no fault of his own. The girl that gave up her baby to adoption, you don’t know her reasons or how it could have been if she didn’t. You do not know people based on 1 short experience.

3. Finish a debate or argument without using a single derogatory comment, name calling or reference to their own history/personality. Pick a disagreement, or try to do it with all disagreements, and make every effort to disagree based on facts, not emotions or personal opinions.

4. Stop making it your life mission to correct people on every little thing. The autistic person that calls themself autistic? Maybe you shouldn’t tell them to use “people first” language. The person who’s tried the gluten free diet but found no benefits, maybe they don’t need to hear why you think they are wrong. Inform folks, don’t feel you need to correct them all the time.

5. Stop reading into everything until you find the negative. Take a compliment, a kind thought or a good intention as it is intended and stop trying to find a way for it to be a bad thing. Ulterior motives, unintended meanings, alternate ways of interpreting… just stop. You know what they meant.

6. Slap yourself (metaphorically) the next time you tell yourself that you can’t do something or that you’re not good enough. Whether you have Autism or not. The next time your inner voice tries to stop you from doing something you really want to do… remind yourself that you promised to not listen one time… and do it.

7. Take something you feel negatively about and write out a list of 10 positives about it. If it’s Autism, write out 10 positives about Autism. If it’s city traffic, write out 10 positives about city traffic. It doesn’t matter what it is… just something that you really do not like. The goal is not to change your perspective such that you will now like it, but to realize that, if you give it some effort, you can find something good in the most unlikely of places… if you just stop the negativity for a moment and try.

8. Place a value on your time. Make “free time” a thing of the past and figure out how much your time is worth. Don’t joke about it, figure it out, even if it’s too low or too high. Now, the next time you find that you’re bored, being lazy AND… the next time that others ask you do things for them, keep that value in mind and ask yourself if it’s really worth your time… or if there is something better you could be doing. If your time is valuable (and it is), use it… do something with it. Get creative.

9. Donate or volunteer for something. If you did #8, you know that you are worth quite a bit. So put that value to good use and give some money or time to those that are in need of both. It doesn’t have to be a lot. But if you’re like me, it’s one of those things you have every intention of doing but just don’t.. or don’t do as much as you’d like. Make it happen.

10. Look in the mirror and tell yourself “I’m proud of me”. Do this once a day if possible but even to do it just once in the new year, do it. In the mirror, looking yourself in the face. You’ll know if you’re being sincere or not… and do it until you are.

If you have Autism, be proud of who you are and in your strengths. You do have them. Be proud that you are you, no matter how much others may try or wish to change you. Be proud. You are not the exception… you are exceptional.

If you have a child with Autism, be proud that you’ve handled the looks, handled the added stresses, over come the struggles, that you’ve done more than you thought you were capable of for your child. Be proud that you’ve surpassed those “you’ll see” comments from family and friends when you first had a baby… those people, who thought you were in for a shock.. had no idea what it could really be like. You do, you did it.

Even if you have no disorder, no struggling loved ones… even if you look in the mirror and think “I have none of those reasons, why does my life seem so hard?”… stop thinking that and tell yourself “I’m proud of me.” Life is hard… for everyone! Don’t beat yourself because you have it worse and certainly don’t beat yourself up because you don’t. Be proud of who you are… it’s not a competition to see who has the most scars. Life dishes them out no matter who you are and it’s up to you to face those scars in the mirror and be proud of yourself.

Happy New Year

Stop making resolutions to lose weight, stop smoking or other “typical” ideals that you think that society would want you to make and start thinking about ways to just be happy with who you are.

Put aside any negativity that you can, incorporate any positivity that you can and just give it a try when you normally wouldn’t have.

Autism is a struggle, whether you have it or devote your life to a loved one that has it… it can be hard. Life itself, even if all goes well, can be hard.

Don’t let negativity in your own mind make it harder… and certainly don’t use that negativity to make someone else’s life harder.

Smile when you don’t feel like smiling. Find a positive where you see only negative. Tell yourself your proud of who you are even when all you can see is regret.

Be a little more understanding of others, accept them for who they are. Be a little more proud of who you are and what you’ve accomplished. You’re a valuable person, even in your free time!

Have a very happy new year… you deserve it.

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Until He Drops

“Alex, we’re going out to get presents!”




“You’re going to buy presents for Ned and mommy. What are you going to buy for Ned?”


“Buy for Ned.”


“What are you going to buy for mommy?”


“Buy for mommy.” We go through this three times.


I’ve decided that it’s time for Alex to learn how to buy presents: walk to the store, pick out crap for those who mean something to him, walk to the register, take the bills from me, take the bag and collect his change, and leave the store. Then home to wrangle with the Scotch tape, scissors and paper until he has a present to, well, present on one of the waning evenings of Chanukah.


I head out with Alex on the morning of the day after Christmas. He’s silent to my questions as he presses the extra elevator buttons on the way to the ground floor. “What’s Santa going to bring mommy, Alex?”


“Santa mommy.”


We go through this a few times. Outside, I decide to start at the beginning. “Alex, to go shopping for presents, we need money first, right?” We head to the ATM. I slide in my card and punch the buttons while Alex studies the blue wall of the bank. “Look, Alex. Cash.” (Way too much in this year, too.) We head to the local all-purpose drug store, which these days means toys and housewares and all sorts of stuff. I steer him into the Christmas aisle, which should be cheap as hell by this time in the calendar, but isn’t. Mommy wants new icicle lights for the window.


“Alex, what does mommy want?”


“Mommy want.”


“What does mommy want?”


He shops like my brother Lee: With just a glance and then a look away, Alex shoots out his hand and pulls out, like a dragoon’s saber, a marked-down roll of Santa wrapping paper. Jill is Jewish. Of all things in this store, nothing screams “Jill Cornfield!” to me less, but this is Alex’s call.


“What do you want for Ned, Alex?” We head to the short toy aisle. Without hesitation he squats to press buttons on the preschool toys that make noise and pull out the detailed plastic farm animals. Apparently Ned wants a goat, a horse and a cow. “No Alex, this is a present for Ned.” Alex counts the plastic animals. “One, two three…”


“Up here, Alex. What would Ned like from here?” From the top shelf, the Nerf Dart refill pack would work, I think, but Alex finds a green plastic truck. Again with the Uncle Lee shopping: shoot out and pull.


“Let’s go pay, Alex.”


At the register, Alex tosses in a red bow that I’ll later examine and determine that he pulled off some display. I don’t think the cashier, with a glance at Alex, charges us for it. I put the twenty in his fingers and he hands it over; I coax him to take his change. Outside the store, he hands me the bag to carry.


I’ve never wrapped wrapping paper for a present. Alex has trouble tearing off the Scotch tape. Pretty soon, though, everything is in its paper, and Alex heads to the living room to watch the iPad. Like often in the holidays after the wrapping’s done, I’m left to think I’ve actually done something.


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Why don’t you celebrate New Years Eve?

I get this question a lot, because it seems very much out of the ordinary to not be up at midnight, getting drunk and kissing someone at the stroke of midnight. To not do it is… blasphemy!

The answer is really quite simple.

happy new yearI wake up at 5am many mornings, sometimes earlier, sometimes I wake up often through the night. I have 2 children that require a lot of my time and energy even when I work 8 – 10 hours a day. By the time it’s 9pm and my boys are asleep, I’m ready to go to bed myself but I can’t because there is still more work or chores around the house that need doing.

So I get to bed around 11pm and again, sleep 6 hours or less if I’m up often due to the boys… and do it all again. And I do this 356 days a year.

So already the answer is forming…. but there’s more.

My oldest boy, Cameron, has Autism. That means that we can’t just hire any teeny bopper with a need for some cell phone minute money to come in and take care of my children.

In fact, even most responsible adults are not really ready to take on that task. Only those that know him well. And those people tend to have full lives of their own already so are not readily available.

Take a special day like New Years Eve and.. well, those older, responsible, living life people are already doing something on New Years Even that doesn’t involve being stuck in my living room while some kids that are not theirs are sleeping.

So no… we don’t go out and celebrate New Years Eve. In fact, we don’t even stay up until midnight.

Because when you add it all up, when you really stop to think about it… the needs of your children, the happiness you get from their achievements, the importance of you being there for them when they need you… all of what entails being a parent…  Dec 31st becomes just another night.

You’ll still be ready for bed at 9pm that night.  The kids will still wake up early the next day.

Besides, it’s not that I don’t “celebrate” it… it’s just that I don’t do what everyone else thinks I’m supposed to do. I give my wife a hug and kiss. We say “Happy New Year” to each other and to others as well.

It’s just different and believe me, different is one thing that we’ve become quite comfortable with around here.

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No one knows your child better than you do, not even Santa!

Usually in the world of Autism, this refers to teachers, therapists and doctors but the truth is, it can apply to anyone… this year, it was even proven to be true of Santa!

nintendo 3dsPeer Pressure

So back in July, Cameron told us that he wanted a Nintendo 3DS, and reminded us of that fact every week for the next several weeks. He even knew which games he wanted.

Then in October, Cameron’s friends at school got him hooked on Bey Blades… a spinning top kind of battle game. He loves them. His requests for the 3DS died down… he still wanted one, but he didn’t talk about it anymore.

Here’s the thing though… what he wanted and what he wanted due to peer pressure (his friends wanting)… are two different things.

Video Games

If you’ve followed my blog, you know that Cameron is a video game boy, through and through. He loves his video games more than anything and they love him too. He’s developed some great motor skills, reflexes, problem solving skills and more.. all due to his video games.

To give you an example, Tyler (his little brother) got the new Sonic Generations video game on December 4th (for his birthday)… so Cameron got to play but played it in much more limited portions than normal. Since it wasn’t his game, he didn’t get much play time at all. Maybe an hour a day, some days no playing at all.

And yet, he finished that game less than 2 weeks later. Less than 14 days and he had beat the boss and won the game. That’s pretty good for anybody, much less a six year old with Autism.

Anyway, back to the 3DS… my wife and I decided to get him the 3DS from us, since it’s what we know he really wants and we left the Bey Blades to Santa… who was very generous. He got 7 of them in total and a stadium to have them battle in!

And the winner is…

Christmas morning came and went, wrapping paper everywhere and more boxes than our recycling bin can handle… and 2 days later, he’s just now starting to open his Bey Blade packages to try them.

What has he been doing all this time? Playing with his Nintendo 3DS!

Truth be told, the only real reason that he even played with his Bey Blades this morning is because we don’t let him play video games in the morning.

Things will change though, once he goes back to school and his friends are playing with their Bey Blades… and he can’t take his video games with him.

But still, the lesson is… no matter what his friends have, no matter what he changes his mind to… we know him better than that.

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A holiday message from an Autism Father


You are reading this post, which tells me that we have something in common. Autism. Whether you have a child with Autism, you are autistic, you have a loved one with Autism or you’re simply interested in learning more about Autism (I most especially welcome the last group!)… we have that common bond. It makes us a part of a community, a supportive group, fellow advice gurus and even, if we take the chance… friends.

Rather than write an advice piece on ways to make Christmas easier or give tips on what to do and not do to avoid meltdowns (I do have one of those half written but I may just save it for next year), I thought I’d rather write about something else.

You see, whether it’s Christmas that you’re celebrating, some other holiday or the fact that it’ll be a Sunday… one common thing we all do is share with each other. We give of ourselves and share with each other and just be together, grateful for what we have and who we have with us.

And it makes me think… for those of us that have Autism in our lives, in some form or another, we have that… all year round. We don’t even know each other personally (most of us), but we have that.

I’ve learned something new from each and every person, I’ve agreed and disagreed with every single person and over the years, I’ve come to realize something important…


I’ve come to realize that Autism isn’t about being different, it’s about being yourself.

Whether you
have Autism (,
you’re homeless (,
you have no arms or legs (
or if you know that you are dying (
you are awesome (

Rejoice in who you are and those you have with you. Not in how different they are, not in how similar you are… but in who you are… and who they are. They wouldn’t be who they are without you just the same as you being you because you have them in your life. And more so than that, you wish for them to be themselves, the person you like, just the same as it is their wish for you to be yourself, the person that they like.

No person is “normal” any more than they are “different”. We all are what we are and there is no comparison to be made since there is no other you.

So pay no attention to what others think of you for it is none of your business. Nor is it any of their business what you think of them so keep it to yourself, unless it’s a truly wonderful thing to share. While it should not affect how they think of themselves, it can’t hurt to receive a nice compliment.

Be yourself, not different, not the same, not what you think others wish you to be… just be you. And respect those that do the same for themselves. You don’t have to like them, but respect them for being true to themselves because that is all you would ask in return.

Being me

I write what I want to write, I say what I want to say. I choose to advocate for my son and for all of Autism as well. I choose to do my utmost best because it is who I am.

And I appreciate and celebrate each and every person that comments, likes, shares and even just reads… not because of what you think of me, but because you are you.

So what ever it is that you’re celebrating, I wish you well. I wish you happiness. I wish you all the best. Because it doesn’t matter who you are or what you do… so long as you are the best you that you can be and you do your best at what you do.

Thank you.

all I want for Christmas is you

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