Tag Archives | Christmas

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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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 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngzyhnkT_jY),
you’re homeless (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DXL9vIUbWg),
you have no arms or legs (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3LFBqvvW-M)
or if you know that you are dying (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji5_MqicxSo)
you are awesome (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vo0Cazxj_yc).

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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Wow, my boy is just full of great surprises!

So the Christmas holidays are officially over, I couldn’t be happier with how well my boys handled all the late nights, long visits with family they don’t know and everything else.

What truly impressed me were the little moments in between.

We gave Cameron (my 5yr old with Autism) a Nintendo DS Lite and gave Tyler (3yr old without Autism) a Leapfrog, both are handheld video game systems… this way they have something to do when they do have long visits with family, or long drives.

What was truly amazing was when Tyler picked up his brother’s Ninentdo DS, which was clearly too complicated for him. At first, I expected Cameron to tell him to stop playing with it, to take it away from him but to my surprise, he instead showed Tyler how to turn it on and play with it!

The next day, I was doing dishes and asked Cameron and his older cousin to find all of the dishes around the house for me. Again, he did as asked and for his reward, he received a kinder egg (chocolate egg with a toy inside). His cousin, jokingly, said “where’s mine?” and without a moment of hesitation, Cameron split the egg in half and gave half of it to his cousin!

Granted, that’s only 2 wonderfully amazing things over the course of close to a full week, but I’ll gladly take 2 over none… and certainly take 2 over meltdowns.

You have to understand, I got some great Christmas presents myself but not much ranks as high as seeing my boy do so very well. By the way, his chocolate sharing didn’t go unrewarded. I made sure to share some of my Christmas chocolate with him as a reward for being such a good kid.

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The excitement is building and I’m not sure I can take it anymore!!

I’m so conflicted.. I mean, on the one hand, it’s so wonderful and amazing that my boys actually “get it” this year. They’re genuinely excited for Christmas, for toys, for Santa, for opening presents… with 9 days left, I told Cameron that there were 9 “sleeps” left until Christmas and ever since then, I get wake up calls each and every morning reporting to me how many sleeps are left. This morning, it’s 2 sleeps left.

The problem is that the morning reports are coming earlier and earlier. It started at 7am. This morning was 4:45am!

Christmas CrazyIf that wasn’t bad enough (bad on Christmas??), their excitement level doesn’t taper off through out the day… and it certainly doesn’t fade or stay constant as we get closer to the big day either.

The boys seem to hurt themselves more, become more and more defiant and just all around wild with every passing day as we draw closer and closer to Christmas.

This morning Cameron climbed up on the rocking recliner that spins… long winded description but necessary, you see.. he stands on it. Something that rocks and spins is not something an unwieldy 5 year old should be standing on. He’s fallen several times and this morning was no exception. Now he has a nice purple line down his rib cage where he hit the coffee table.

Have no fear though, he’s fine… they’re quite resilient.

Anyway, the moral of the story is that when you want your kids to get excited, just remember that you asked for it.

It’s the 23rd today, and I may be jumping the gun on this one, but I’m fairly confident in saying that in less than 2 days, when the boys wake me up earlier than ever, excited about what they find under the tree…  it will have all been worth it.

Especially if I get to sleep in the next day.

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