Happy Birthday Peyton!!

This Friday Peyton turns 18! I am approaching this birthday with both happiness, and a bit of regret. When my older kids became adults, I went through the normal stresses of did I prepare them for adulthood, were they ready to make “adult decisions”  that would affect them the rest of their lives? I remember when Paul was looking at colleges and such, it was such a great experience, the excitement of his heading to college. I realized a few years ago that it would be different with Peyton, no matter what. Too often I get caught up in stressing about his future, that I forget to ask him what he wants and what he wants to do. When my older kids turned 16, I discussed with each one of them…their goals, plans and dreams for the future. I knew what they wanted to achieve, and then worked on a plan to help them achieve that. With Peyton it has always been different, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a right to have a say in his future.

A month ago I said to him “guess who is going to be 18 in a month!” I expected him to get excited and happy that he was going to be an adult. Instead he got so upset. I asked him what was wrong and what he responded with, hurt my heart. He told me he was afraid to be an adult, because of his autism he couldn’t talk that well, and didn’t feel like he was really an adult in many ways. I felt so bad for him, I sat down and had a long talk with him. I told him he was doing great and I see awesome growth in him all the time. Even though he is almost 18, he doesn’t feel like he is ready for what lies ahead. I felt really bad that I didn’t sit down with him at 16 and have his “goals & dreams” speech with him. Even though he may not completely understand what the conversation is, I should have given him the opportunity to have his thoughts heard. I realized that sometimes when I try to “protect” him I am actually “hurting” him. He needs to be able to make decisions more and have his views heard more.

We are planning to travel soon, and I have made a conscious decision to include him in the plans, and listen to him more. I can’t tell him he is an adult, but treat him like a child. He may not be ready to be “an adult” yet, but time doesn’t stop because he isn’t ready. I know it needs to be a team effort between he and I for him to become an “adult” He may never be able to live on his own, drive a car etc… But that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be given the opportunity to try. It also doesn’t mean he isn’t entitled to his own voice. We all become “true adults” at our own pace. Peyton may take a bit longer, and may never be one by others definition. However; I feel very confident that given the right support and encouragement he will be an awesome “adult” Happy 18th Birthday Peyton, I love you with all my heart!

Don’t Mess with Texas

As most of you know this past week or so has been an almost surreal time in Texas. As I was thinking about writing this blog, I struggled with how to write this. I want to make sure I make this about everyone who was affected and everyone who gave so selflessly, not about me.

I have been through other Hurricanes as I lived in Florida for many years. I honestly wasn’t stressed about this one, as I figured it would be a day of storms and then we’d be done. As the storm got closer and the weather people became truly stressed, I started to worry. I didn’t want Peyton to know I was worried, as he tends to really stress whenever any storms are happening. I saw him sitting in his massage chair, quite a bit so I knew he was well aware there was some “danger” heading toward us.

Friday night the storm started, we all started to realize this was going to be big, little did many of us realize just how big. Harvey came and he didn’t leave, he seemed to have a love for Texas, like so many of us. The problem was he wasn’t good to us. No matter how awful Harvey was, Texas was stronger. The will, resolve and love of the people of Texas was shown over and over. That love, that determination and resolve was watched by people all over the world. The people watching decided they needed and wanted to help, I truly believe they helped because they saw Texans as awesome people. No one cared what color skin, ethnicity, religion you were, or who you voted for….they cared that you loved, cared, and believed in the goodness of EVERYONE! A week before Harvey came, this country was coming apart at the seams. The people of Houston and of Texas grabbed a huge needle and thread and not only repaired the tear, but did it with love. I sat glued to channel 13, abc news. I cried, I laughed and I cheered as I watched the “Cajun Navy” and many, many, many others come. People grabbed everything they could and went out risking their lives, to save EVERYONE. The resolve and strength of people was overwhelming to me. Whole families’ belongings were reduced to a garbage bag and even sometimes a small grocery bag. Yet, when many were interviewed they were so thankful to be alive. They focused on the positive, thanked those who saved them, and chose to see the silver lining.

This is what is great about Texans, they see what unites them, not what divides them. Oh I know there are some who choose to be negative, but they are a small number, and like Harvey will fade away into the background. Now comes the really hard part… The rebuilding for so, so many… But just like when Harvey was trying to break our will and our spirit. I truly believe we will see the strength, resolve, compassion and love of Texans. That huge needle and thread will become a hammer, saw and nails. I hope the world keeps watching because Texans believe in actions, not words and the lessons they teach are Huge, because everything is bigger in Texas! We are Houston Strong, We are Texas Strong! I am sure Harvey and maybe even a few others learned….Don’t Mess with Texas!

Life Skills : Nutrition

During our upcoming Awesomism Quilt tour, we plan to travel around the country and talk to different organizations about many issues facing the autism community, including the low employment rate for autistic adults. (See our Sponsorship tab above if you would like to help us). Going hand-in-hand with employment skills are different Life Skills. For instance the ability to dress, clean and fix your own meals, of course depending on the level of autonomy that the autistic individual is capable of.

We have emphasized to Peyton the importance of good, balanced nutrition. We have also taught him a few basic cooking skills and most importantly, the ability to follow directions when preparing a meal. He usually fixes his own breakfast, anything from a bowl of cereal, oatmeal, scrambled eggs, pancakes or even French Toast. For lunch, he makes his own sandwich, sometimes grilled cheese, grilled ham and cheese etc… He tries to mix it up. And tho Lynne or myself usually prepares dinner, we make sure that he has a balanced meal with at least one veggie. 

Once, while making something on the stove for breakfast, he melted the food cover for the microwave. This provided us the opportunity to enforce some important safety cautions, such as making sure there is nothing flammable on or near the stove. Now, he always checks that there is nothing that could catch on fire while cooking. We still have a big concern about his cooking when we are out, so he will usually just prepare something in the microwave if we are not around.

Work with your awesomism child to see what level of cooking they can attain. If microwaving  is the limit that you and they feel comfortable, then get healthy foods to keep in the freezer. Some may really take to cooking and discover a hidden talent and possible employment future. Look on YouTube for recipes and cooking videos. The ability to look up and learn things from Youtube is a great skill in itself and can teach them many Life Skills that you may not have the time (let’s face….patience) to teach.

A good understanding of life’s basics is a great start to securing your child’s future.

Lining up Shopping Carts!

Everytime I go to a store that has shopping carts, I get so frustrated. Too many people just don’t take the time to push the carts into the outside corrals. They shove the cart and wherever and however it lands…so be it! I always try to at least somewhat fix them, or I have to admit, stand there until I have them completely organized. I do this for several reasons. One is to try to make the job easier for the poor guys and girls who have to do this in heat, cold, rain, sleet, snow etc…. Also, because I am always hoping someone is watching and realizes that they too can do a good deed by just helping arrange the carts better! Being out in the elements can be tough and by organizing them, it allows them to get back inside quicker. I know in the scope of all the bad things happening in the world, this may seem so insignificant, but I am firm believer in if we take care the little things….tackling the bigger ones become easier!

I often think about the quote by Aesop ” No Act of Kindness, however small, is ever Wasted” if we really live by this, imagine how much of a kinder world we would have! You never know who may be touched or helped by “a small act of kindness”  If someone is having a bad day, offering an encouraging word, may just be the thing they need. Being kind doesn’t cost anything, but being mean can and may have many negative consequences. I decided years ago one of my “small acts of kindness” was going to be, organizing shopping carts. It’s almost become an obsession of mine : ) I especially am driven in tough weather conditions, as I see it as my little way to help the cart people, not have to be in the elements as long.

It’s almost ironic in some ways to me that years ago I picked this as one of my “acts of kindness” Now that I am an autism campaigner…..I know some of the people who work the carts at stores, are those with special needs, including autism. Several large grocery chains are awesome about hiring autistic teens and adults, and this is one of the jobs they give them. I have actually over the years been “fixing” the cart corrals when the person has come outside and seen me. Most often they thank me and that makes my day. I realize there are times and situations that may not allow someone to put their cart in the corral properly, but more times than not we can.

My purpose for writing this blog isn’t to lecture you about how to bring your shopping cart back to the corral….but to have us all stop and think how our everyday activities allow us an opportunity to do an act of kindness. As an autism campaigner I am especially passionate about doing whatever I can to help make life easier for autistic kids and adults, especially those who are working at retail stores. Next time you are at your big box store, grocery store etc….and you see a grocery cart in the middle of the lot…look at it as an act of kindness. After all if start with the little stuff, the big stuff becomes easier!

The comfort of a classic!

The last 10 days I have been very sick, just now starting to somewhat get back on my feet. I will spare you the details, but let’s just say don’t ignore a bad tooth. When I am sick I really love to watch classic TV, although I am always a big fan of classic TV. I even wrote a blog in February about classic TV  http://www.awesomismmom.com/the-awesomism-of-classic-tv/     When I am sick it’s the ONLY thing I want to watch. There is a comfort that they provide to me. Right before I got sick Peyton told us about a new channel to Direct TV, FETV, it’s all classic TV. It even shows Hazel, my favorite show of all time! Trying to take my mind off of how awful I felt, I watched it almost nonstop, when I wasn’t sleeping. I tend to get very introspective, analytical and overly emotional when I am sick. So needless to say, I was thinking about my mission to turn Autism into Awesomism.

One of the themes that I find through so many of the classic TV shows, all the way from a comedy like Hazel, to a drama like Perry Mason is….they support the underdog! It seems the themes of these “classic shows” is to not only give lip service to helping others, but to actually help them in any way you can. People rallied together to make sure negative situations were turned into positive endings! As I expressed in my earlier blog I realize this is somewhat of a ” starry eyed view” but there are true lessons to be learned by this. Too often we express our support and our wanting a solution for problems we see, but we also too often just give “lip service” I am a firm believer that if everyone dedicated 30 minutes a week to working  an issue they feel passionate about, we’d have a better world. Having been basically bed ridden for over a week, I have had a lot of time to think. I feel even more determined to take our Awesomism Mission on the road! I am deeply passionate about sharing the high unemployment rate for Autistic teens and adults and helping find solutions!  I also realize not everyone can “take to the road” to change things, but there are MANY ways we can support others. I say all the time “TOGETHER we can and will make a DIFFERENCE” Mark, Peyton and I are committed to making this work, but we can’t without your help and support! I have written several blogs about how others can help, I’d deeply appreciate your checking them out! Clearly the most important ways for others to help is by being a sponsor! You can do this professionally as well as personally. Also, by retweeting, sharing and following us on social media is a big help. We want to connect with as many people as we can. We will sharing videos and more as well as a Flipboard magazine dedicated just to the trip!

Classic TV shows were my “comfort” during my illness, in their own way they made me feel better. Supporting the underdog and giving more than lip service is my “comfort” in making a positive difference for autistic teens and adults! By having those who read my blog, join in helping us, in anyway they can also reinforces my believe that while “classic TV” may be somewhat “starry eyed” they stil have very relevant life lessons in them!