The Top Five Autism-Related Posts from Seriously Not Boring

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Another Autism Awareness/Acceptance/Action month is drawing to a close, and I hope that everyone’s efforts made a difference. This world becomes a better place every time someone new reads about Autism and learns to be more accepting. To close out the month here are this page’s Top Five posts about Autism in the hopes that you might find them helpful. These are the topics that seem to have resonated the most with readers, even years later. I feel honored and overwhelmed that when we share our journey it has the potential to help others.

#5. Autism, Meltdowns, and the Unexpected Kindness of Strangers in a Supermarket. Many years ago, when the Ninjas were very small, we were new to the Autism world and spent a lot of time feeling confused and overwhelmed. A difficult incident happened in a grocery store, but the graciousness and compassion showed to us by the employees there helped us through it. I wrote this piece for the Parents Magazine special needs blog. NOTE: This is a change from the original article that was featured at #5. Because reasons.

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

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There is no shame in Autism. When my son was old enough I wanted to explain his unique brain to him in a positive way, because how you do it is incredibly important and can affect a child’s self-image for the rest of their life. I wrote: “… I had to be very careful with my words and how I presented Autism. There is still so much stigma in attached to special needs, or even to simply being different (not in my mind, but society seems to feel otherwise). I didn’t want him to see himself as flawed, or view his diagnosis as restrictive, limiting his expectations of what he could achieve in life. I did not want the truth to be damaging. I wanted it to be illuminative and empowering. I hoped that having knowledge of Autism would improve his understanding of how his brain works and help him be more patient with himself.” A version of this story also appeared on the website The MightyContinue reading

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Autism, Meltdowns, and the Unexpected Kindness of Strangers in a Supermarket

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The following is an excerpt of an article I wrote for Parents.com. Note: I do not describe my child’s meltdown in much detail because I feel that would be disrespectful to him. The details I did share were in order to share the importance of kindness, patience, and acceptance.

I have been a parent for over ten years now, and for a large part of those years I have also been an Autism parent. It has been quite the eventful journey; full of twists, turns, and lessons along the way. In my house we call it “Not Boring,” and have come to celebrate my son’s uniqueness. Back when my two boys were small and I was new to the Autism world, however, I spent a lot of time feeling confused and overwhelmed. I wish I could go back in time and reassure that worried mother, “Everything is going to be okay.”

One day in particular stands out in my mind. Many years ago I attempted the ambitious feat of grocery shopping with two small boys. Our trip to Kroger took longer than I would have liked, and the sights and sounds became overwhelming for my youngest. At the time he was pre-verbal, and his lack of ability to communicate seemed to heighten his moments of frustration. At that point I knew that he was facing developmental delays, and suspected Autism, but I had not discovered how to best help him when he became upset. I also had not yet learned all his triggers, and constantly walked around in a state of high alert because I never knew what the day would bring.

We finally finished shopping and approached the checkout counter to pay. I abruptly took a package of rice cakes out of the hands of my youngest son without thinking, and placed them on the conveyor belt. He was surprised and upset, because rice cakes were his favorite food at the time. A scream came out of his mouth and he took his frustration out the object nearest to him: the soft flesh of his older brother. My firstborn started crying, my youngest kept shrieking, and I desperately tried to calm the scene and comfort both children. I soon became completely overwhelmed, and all I could do was press my face against the soft hair of my oldest son and sob. I cried for his hurt, I cried for my own fears, and I cried because it broke my heart to see my youngest baby get so upset. Yet, as disturbing as it was for me, I knew it must be even more terrifying for him to feel so overwhelmed.

So there we stood, immobilized in the middle of the checkout lane… 

>>>>>>>>>>

To read the rest of the story please visit the original post, Autism, Meltdowns, and the Unexpected Kindness of Strangers in a Supermarket  at the Parents.com Special-Needs Now blog.

(Image is via Shutterstock and was posted on the original article.) 

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Celebrate what makes you unique! It’s Not Boring. Seriously.

When Pretty Dresses Lead to Ugly Actions: The Lilly for Target debacle

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Four months ago it was announced that Lilly Pulitzer would be releasing a product line at Target, and the Internets went wild over the news. Apparently flowered sundresses are a Big Deal.

Today at 8am when Target stores opened it was the PEOPLE that went wild. They displayed selfishness and savagery in horrifying fashion.

Word quickly spread on the Internet again, but this time it wasn’t positive. Tales were told of pushing, shoving, hoarding and cursing. Headlines said things like, “Shoppers stampede for Lilly Pulitzer at Target.” Typical comments on Twitter were:

@abigailnoelleee: If you bought items just to resell online for your own personal profit I basically hate you.

@KnoxvillePains: I sincerely believe there should have been a police presence at the #LillyforTarget opening day. I have seen terrible things.

@tomandlorenzo: .@TargetStyle needs to stop humiliating its costumers and plan these collaborations a little better.  

My kind friend Eleonora Link just happened to be there shopping for other items and was appalled at what she witnessed. She wrote about it on Facebook this morning and I share with her permission:

“I have never seen such rude, obnoxious, selfish people. Seriously… what have we become when we accept this behavior of grabbing, and I mean GRABBING, grabbing cute pink/green sundresses!? I felt so sorry for a mother and daughter I witnessed in the middle of this who missed out. The girl appeared about 9 and was almost in tears early into the sale and already disappointed she did not get anything. She commented to her Mom how rude a lady was who tore a garment right of the girl’s hand with no apologies… just sick!”

Eleonora continued, “What are we teaching our kids about appropriate behavior when we witness ADULTS behave so greedy and show such selfish, rude, outrageous behavior!!!”

It’s a SUNDRESS, people.

The individuals that my friend saw act so selfishly had loaded their carts FULL of items, and then bragged how they had collected 5-10 different sizes and intended to sell them all on eBay. While I admit that is selfish, they have the right just like any of us to purchase those items and even to try and make money. But just because they have the right doesn’t make it right! What makes me most upset is HOW they got those items into their cart… pushing, cursing, and even snatching an item out of the hands of a 9-year-old girl. COME ON! And then gloating over their “accomplishment” and how much money they are going to make.

A totally separate issue is how Target failed to enforce appropriate crowd control measures. Tales are being told of employees enforcing a “one item per style per customer” with some shoppers, but not with others who were allowed to literally clear the entire contents of racks and shelves. There should have been clear boundaries set in place and announced before the sale began, and then enforced both in the aisle and checkout line. Target seemed completely unprepared for this. Maybe they just underestimated people’s greed and selfishness.

This type of behavior is nothing new. Greed is a theme that plays out across the centuries. Yet it never ceases to amaze and sadden me when people place the value of things and personal gain above the value of their fellow human beings.

SHAME on you, human people. For SHAME. Today I am embarrassed to be one of you.

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When A Writer Is Blocked

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On Monday I have my very first deadline for my very first article for the Special-needs blog at parents.com. I also have performance anxiety. And Pinkeye, but that is a whole other thing.

I intended to have this article written several weeks earlier. I even started it a month ago. But then I had a sick kid, sick ME, the start of Autism Acceptance month, sick kid again, class parties (I was a sucker and volunteered to be room mom), Easter, Spring Break, sick kid again again, loss of a loved one and subsequent arrangements and gatherings, sick ME again (with pinkeye that I caught taking the sick kid to the doctor)… and on and on. You get the drift. Basically, LIFE.

When I woke up today I was EXHAUSTED. It was the very first day in three weeks that I felt like I could sit and catch my breath. Except that I have a pile of laundry, a sink full of dirty dishes, and a house in otherwise total disarray. And then I realized that if I want to get any feedback from the editor, before my article is due on Monday, I have to finish it today so she can read it before she goes home for the weekend.

I really want her feedback because I feel an immense amount of self-imposed pressure to write the Best. Article. EVERRRR.

I was thrilled when I was offered the opportunity to have an occasional featured post on the Parents website. It was exactly what I had hoped for and had been working towards. Then about an hour later I was absolutely terrified. Terrified that I wouldn’t be good enough, and that people might laugh at me because there are other writers out there that are better than me. I worried I would make grammatical mistakes and look foolish. Most of all, I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to think of anything to write, or that the words I did write wouldn’t be worth reading.

Why do we punish ourselves so much with self-doubt? And why is it, even when we have an opportunity in front of us that we find incredibly exciting, we are so willing to let all the other mess of life get in the way of accomplishing our goals?

Oh, and why is it that I have been inspired to write SEVERAL posts this week that are thoughtful and compelling (if I do say so myself), but still can’t finish the one I most want to do???

ENOUGH, I say. I’m going to go grab another cup of coffee and then I’m going to write.

I am going to finish that article. I am also going to have to trust that, even though it will NOT be the “best article ever,” somehow it WILL make the world a better place.

My words matter, because they come from my heart.

Wish me luck!

(Image is of a coffee cup, pen, and paper. All are shrouded in shadow. Just like my thoughts.)

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Not Alone

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“All my friends are dead!” Two days ago a dear family friend stood at the coffin of my grandmother and those heartbreakingly honest words escaped her lips. My spirit ached for her as I watched tears fall down those beautiful cheeks. She is in her nineties and is one of the sweetest, most beloved individuals you would ever meet. Yet aside from her devoted son, who stood at her side, she feels alone.

Due to her limited mobility and the passage of time she feels that life has continued at its customary pace but cast her aside. She can no longer be a part of the activities that used to give her joy and community. Her community is also dwindling because over the decades she has watched as, one by one, her friends left this earth.

“It’s so special that you could be here today,” I said.

“I’m not special,” she replied. I hugged her as tightly as I could to show her differently. I made sure I hugged her every chance I had for the next two days.

I was also reminded that I needed to go seek her out and give her more hugs more often.

Today I encourage you to make sure that no one you love feels left behind. Go give them hugs, a LOT of hugs, every chance you get. Don’t let them be alone. They are special. Make sure you BOTH remember that.

Like this post? Don’t forget to “Follow” Seriously Not Boring or subscribe to email updates. You can check out our Seriously Not Boring Facebook page and give us a “Like” there too, or follow @SrslyNotBoring on Twitter. Thanks for stopping by!