Choose Compassion

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Each day presents us with opportunities to have an impact on the lives of other people, for good or bad. We have a choice as to how we will respond when life becomes complicated. I encourage you to choose compassion. Here is a beautiful email I received many years ago from a friend, and reprint with her permission.

I was sitting on a plane down to Phoenix AZ in the window seat. A 91 year old woman was next to me, and next to her was a 40 something professional looking woman named Diane. We all chatted pleasantly about the previous Mother’s Day activities, and the older woman was telling us about her children. The plane took off and we all shut our eyes for three seconds. Suddenly, a child became upset. She was SCREAMING. She was in the seat in front of me. We all looked at one another and shrugged. This was going to be our flight. So, we took out our books, and magazines, and immediately felt sorry for the child. Her ears must have been hurting. She looked like she was about three when I peeked at her when we sat down.

The screaming continued.
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Flashback: Confessions of a Clearance Shopper

Author’s Note: Thought some lighter fare was in order since this blog isn’t going to be all-autism all the time. I chose to repost one of my favorites from the past. Back then I was writing under a different blogger identity. This was also written before that crazy couponing craze started, so think of it in that context. It was a simpler time.

After all that waiting and buildup, hard to believe it has come and gone already. The day we anticipated for so long, lay awake at night dreaming about, jumped out of bed eager to experience…  the glorious post-holiday clearance sale.

Let me begin by explaining to you that over the past few years I have become very compulsive about saving money. Clipping coupons is now one of my hobbies, and I have started developing some hoarding habits when items are on sale. I actually get worked up about it and even tremble a little bit when I debate how many to buy. I need enough to get me through until the next sale because God forbid I pay full price!!! And you would not believe the annoyance I feel when my $2.99 box of cereal goes on sale right after I bought it (even if I did use a coupon). So just take my word for it that I take my clearance shopping VERY SERIOUSLY. And there are some very good deals to be had after major holidays like Christmas and Easter.

Picture this… The morning after Easter I rush my two kids, age 3 and almost 2, through breakfast so that we could be the FIRST into Target when it opened at 8:00. Hurry, hurry! When we get there I am upset at myself that it is 7:59 and OH NO!!! Two people got in before me!!!! In my haste to get in the store I make the snap decision to use my stroller and let my three-year-old walk because it is quicker than carrying my youngest into the store and then getting a cart. This decision will quickly come back to haunt me. As we are running walking very quickly to the “Seasonal” section I can hear my oldest panting because he can’t keep up. Determined not to let him slow me down I pick him up (HEAVY!) in one arm and push the stroller with the other. Some employees, who have obviously seen my type before, chuckle at me and say “Don’t worry, there are only two people back there.” Aaaugh! TWO people! ALREADY!?! Over my shoulder I breathlessly respond to them, “But I am looking for something SPECIFIC!”

Finally we reach our destination and hurry, hurry through the aisles. It feels as frenzied as an egg hunt, people trying to find the best deals and snatch them up first. Of course everyone is being very polite, but the competitive undercurrent is still there. My heart is still pounding and my brain is racing because somehow it seems very very important that I get eggs at 1/2 off so I can save 50 CENTS for next year’s Easter baskets. Plus what I really want is the Thomas the Tank Engine Take-Along Easter set and I am getting increasingly agitated that I can’t find it. I rush through all the aisles repeatedly, like a hungry shark circling a boat. Thomas where ARE you??? All I can find is the very last Bob the Builder set and I grab it. Who cares if my boys are not crazy about Bob because it is a GOOD DEAL. In the meantime my toddler who is strapped into an umbrella stroller has discovered that his feet can touch the floor and he can scoot himself around, and in my “on a mission” distracted state I don’t notice that he has headed into the center aisle. My three-year-old decides to help and in an effort to rescue his baby brother accidentally knocks the stroller over and dumps him flat on his face. My kids are screaming, people are staring, and I am a terrible mother. But hey, I am saving money.

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The Talk: How I explained my son’s Autism diagnosis to him

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My youngest child and I finally had “The Talk”. I had recently sensed that it was imminent, I knew that it was crucial, and I also had conflicting feelings about it. Many parents of children with special needs know what “Talk” I mean, and it’s not “The Birds and the Bees”. During this “Talk”, for the first time, my child and I discussed the fact that he that has a form of Autism.

My son is six-and-a-half years old and has a dramatic personality. Everything he feels, good and bad, he feels on a large scale. We jokingly call it “not boring”. He has an inquisitive mind, a huge smile, and a great sense of humor. I could go on and on listing positive adjectives to describe him. He also happens to have a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, what some might call Asperger’s Syndrome. Autism is not the sole defining characteristic of who he is, but it is an important part of who he is. At first glance people may not realize that he falls on the Autism Spectrum, and since he is verbal and mainstreamed some have assumed that he must not face any real challenges. They don’t realize that although he can keep up with his peers academically, he often struggles to relate to them socially. They don’t see the times he gets frustrated or feels left out when interacting with his classmates. They don’t see him fighting to concentrate, or how he vacillates between both sensory-seeking and sensory-avoiding behavior. They also don’t see how Autism has an impact on him and our family life every single day, and how it presents both blessings and challenges. That being said, I am well aware that our situation is very different from families affected by more severe Autism. They have their own set of challenges, which at times seems to dwarf those of my family. But the truth remains that in our house we also face challenges. All families face challenges, whether their children are Neurotypical or not.
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