Surviving and Thriving Blog

Being a Beginner on the Bus

The worst part of this experience was that I couldn’t give myself permission to be a beginner, to be OK with not knowing what to do. Instead, my anxiety grew with every mistake I made. The ironic part is that, as Noah’s parent, I have been in countless situations like that bus ride.

Helicopter Parenting and Autism

These days, as I try to envision an independent life for my adult son with autism, I am aware of two battling impulses inside me. On one side is the knowledge that I need to step back, to allow Noah to experience the world in his own way. But on the other side is a constant vigilance, the helicopter parent part of me that is always ready to intervene.

Getting Lost at the DMV

  Recognizing ambivalent loss and making way for compassion The other day I took my son, Noah, over to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get his picture taken for a new ID card. It is no one’s idea of a good time, but we had the day off and it was something...

All Opinions Are Not Created Equal: Learning not to sweat the small stuff

  When my son was diagnosed with autism around the age of two, it was as if the ground underneath me had suddenly shifted and wasn’t so solid anymore. I was struggling to understand what the diagnosis meant, and it was agonizing to see my son plateauing and...

My Son The Music Man

  I was recently talking to someone about my son, Noah, who has autism. And at the end of our conversation, she said, "He is the best teacher you could ever have." I am still learning all the ways that this is true. Noah is constantly helping me recognize how...

When You Feel Like You Are Out There All Alone

  I am no stranger to the stress that comes hand in hand with parenting a child on the autism spectrum. After 19 years of parenting my son, I've become better at knowing when stress has the upper hand and I need to take care of myself. This doesn't mean that I...

A Few Good Things: Moments in Gratitude

  I don’t think of myself as a glass-half-empty kind of person, but I have to admit that when my mind is free to wander, it is usually occupied with what is wrong. As the parent of a son with autism, I find I have lots of material. These days, I am trying to...

Hitting The Pause-Button: Creating Space Cushions In Everyday Life

  A friend of mine was taking her teenage daughter to the doctor—and running very late. With her daughter in the seat beside her, my friend was in full road-rage mode, clutching the wheel like a madwoman, cursing at other drivers, garbage trucks and slow...

Business-Casual Thursday. And Leaving “Comparison Land.”

  I’m in line in the supermarket, leafing through a magazine, and I see an advertisement for something I just have to have. It is the newest coffeemaker, one that makes espresso with more steam pressure than a locomotive. And suddenly, the reliable coffeemaker...

The Reality of the Cliff and the Comfort of Community

  As the parent of a 17-year-old with autism, I have four more years before being faced with The Cliff. The cliff is a time of reckoning for many families who have a child on the autism spectrum. You come to this cliff when your child turns 21, and he or she...

Stop Making Sense (Or “Feppy”): Opening The Doors Of Curiosity

  When it comes to my son, who has autism spectrum disorder, I feel like I’m always navigating two paths simultaneously. On the one hand, I’m in project mode, eager to help him learn new skills. But when I am overly attached to therapy goals, I risk treating...

Losing—And Finding—My ID

  I was having dinner with a friend who came in from out of town, and he described a harrowing experience at the airport. It seems my friend had somehow taken his wife’s license instead of his own to security. Fortunately, he was able to explain how he got the...

Grateful In The New Year

  With January just beginning, my thoughts turn to the clean canvas of a new year and ways I can make 2015 even better than the year that has just passed. My resolutions, especially when it comes to being the mother of a child with autism, usually stem from a...

Lions And Tigers And … Playgrounds … Oh My (The Invisible Struggles Of Parenting On The Spectrum)

  A few years after my son was diagnosed with autism, and I was in the thick of his early intervention treatment, his behavior therapist said something to me that still brings tears of gratitude to my eyes. I had taken my son to her office, the first appointment...

In Praise Of Laziness

  I don’t think there is a word more laden with negativity than the descriptor, “lazy.” As a culture, we are allergic to that word. And I have to admit that when I am beating myself up about the way I parent my son with autism, that is a word that comes to...

Learning To Love The Dandelions

  I’ve been preoccupied lately (some would say obsessed) with thoughts about my son’s future. In six short years, he will be 21, an age that strikes terror into the heart of anyone who has a child with special needs. Services like physical and speech therapy,...

Acceptance And Change: The Challenge For Parents

  About ten years ago, I had the opportunity to hear a speech by Temple Grandin, an icon in the world of autism. She holds a Ph.D., and is an expert in animal behavior, as well as an advocate for those on the spectrum. I don’t remember details from her talk,...

Mind The Gap: Helping Our Other Children Survive And Thrive

  Recently, I got a text message from my daughter, who was away at college. She told me that she was listening to a panel of young adults with Asperger’s syndrome discuss their relationships with their families. She heard them express some resentment towards...

The Possibilities Illuminated In The Dark

  What is it about worry and the middle of the night? I am a fairly frequent visitor to what a friend calls 3 a.m. meetings. I don’t recommend them and you should consider yourself lucky if you are not familiar with them. A troublesome thought will come to me,...

Surviving and Thriving with Grandparents: An appreciation

Grandparents can truly be the unsung heroes for parents who have a child with special needs.

Adventures In Equanimity: It’s not the end of the world, it’s only break dancing

I realize that when I am not in a place of equanimity, my vision and perspective are distorted. I miss really seeing my son, and learning what his behavior is trying to teach me.

A Different Kind of Spring Cleaning

Every spring, I resolve to get rid of clutter: kitchen utensils we no longer use, clothes that don’t fit my kids anymore, old toys, catalogues…all of that stuff that only serves to get in the way of finding everything else. When I take some action, I am always...

Facing a New Piece of the Puzzle

As my son grows older, that omnipresent symbol of autism, the puzzle piece, seems ever more appropriate. The word “puzzle” becomes both noun and adjective, suggesting not only the questions, but also the sense of uncertainty, and even outright frustration, for...

Necessity is the Mother of Vacation…oops, Invention: Letting go and learning from it

  It’s summer and the weather is glorious. The season conjures up the quintessential images of relaxation, such as lying in a hammock with a cool drink at arm’s length. But just try to pair that picture with a couple of rambunctious kids running around, and...

The Organizationally-Challenged Parent: A new look at what order really means

  I just made my go-to eggplant recipe, given to me by an old friend. Here it is: 1. Buy beautiful purple eggplant in store. 2. Place eggplant in refrigerator. 3. Find eggplant a month later when it is brown and withered. 4. Throw eggplant away. As you might...

Lessons Learned From Winter

  We just had another blast of winter and school is closed again. My kids are ecstatic. I am a little less enthusiastic. To be honest, winter is not one of my favorite seasons. The cold and darkness can easily dissolve my motivation to get up as early as I’d...

Holiday Self-Care: Being present is a gift

  Holiday time is usually no picnic for parents of kids with special needs. Our children often don’t do well with changing schedules and traveling. Friends and family members can be inadvertently critical or insensitive to our burden, and miss our child’s...

Social Skills 101: Just breathe

When I can take a breath instead of springing into action, when I can just allow things to happen, my son gets a chance to shine just as he is.

Surviving the Holidays: Adventures in changing expectations

In trying to bring some sanity to the holidays, I’ve learned an important lesson about the downside of making expectations. And I have come to see the intrinsic value of appreciating the way things are as opposed to clinging to the way things should be.

Reflections on Surviving and Thriving: Acknowledging our feelings

To ignore our feelings is akin to sweeping things under the rug; things might look all right on the surface, but sooner or later you are bound to trip over the bump.

Helicopter Parenting and Autism

Helicopter Parenting and Autism

These days, as I try to envision an independent life for my adult son with autism, I am aware of two battling impulses inside me. On one side is the knowledge that I need to step back, to allow Noah to experience the world in his own way. But on the other side is a constant vigilance, the helicopter parent part of me that is always ready to intervene.

read more

Getting Lost at the DMV

  Recognizing ambivalent loss and making way for compassion The other day I took my son, Noah, over to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get his picture taken for a new ID card. It is no one’s idea of a good time, but we had the day off and it was something...

read more
My Son The Music Man

My Son The Music Man

  I was recently talking to someone about my son, Noah, who has autism. And at the end of our conversation, she said, "He is the best teacher you could ever have." I am still learning all the ways that this is true. Noah is constantly helping me recognize how...

read more
When You Feel Like You Are Out There All Alone

When You Feel Like You Are Out There All Alone

  I am no stranger to the stress that comes hand in hand with parenting a child on the autism spectrum. After 19 years of parenting my son, I've become better at knowing when stress has the upper hand and I need to take care of myself. This doesn't mean that I...

read more
A Few Good Things: Moments in Gratitude

A Few Good Things: Moments in Gratitude

  I don’t think of myself as a glass-half-empty kind of person, but I have to admit that when my mind is free to wander, it is usually occupied with what is wrong. As the parent of a son with autism, I find I have lots of material. These days, I am trying to have...

read more
Losing—And Finding—My ID

Losing—And Finding—My ID

  I was having dinner with a friend who came in from out of town, and he described a harrowing experience at the airport. It seems my friend had somehow taken his wife’s license instead of his own to security. Fortunately, he was able to explain how he got the...

read more
Grateful In The New Year

Grateful In The New Year

  With January just beginning, my thoughts turn to the clean canvas of a new year and ways I can make 2015 even better than the year that has just passed. My resolutions, especially when it comes to being the mother of a child with autism, usually stem from a...

read more
In Praise Of Laziness

In Praise Of Laziness

  I don’t think there is a word more laden with negativity than the descriptor, “lazy.” As a culture, we are allergic to that word. And I have to admit that when I am beating myself up about the way I parent my son with autism, that is a word that comes to mind....

read more
Learning To Love The Dandelions

Learning To Love The Dandelions

  I’ve been preoccupied lately (some would say obsessed) with thoughts about my son’s future. In six short years, he will be 21, an age that strikes terror into the heart of anyone who has a child with special needs. Services like physical and speech therapy, and...

read more
Acceptance And Change: The Challenge For Parents

Acceptance And Change: The Challenge For Parents

  About ten years ago, I had the opportunity to hear a speech by Temple Grandin, an icon in the world of autism. She holds a Ph.D., and is an expert in animal behavior, as well as an advocate for those on the spectrum. I don’t remember details from her talk, but...

read more
The Possibilities Illuminated In The Dark

The Possibilities Illuminated In The Dark

  What is it about worry and the middle of the night? I am a fairly frequent visitor to what a friend calls 3 a.m. meetings. I don’t recommend them and you should consider yourself lucky if you are not familiar with them. A troublesome thought will come to me,...

read more
A Different Kind of Spring Cleaning

A Different Kind of Spring Cleaning

Every spring, I resolve to get rid of clutter: kitchen utensils we no longer use, clothes that don’t fit my kids anymore, old toys, catalogues…all of that stuff that only serves to get in the way of finding everything else. When I take some action, I am always amazed...

read more
Facing a New Piece of the Puzzle

Facing a New Piece of the Puzzle

As my son grows older, that omnipresent symbol of autism, the puzzle piece, seems ever more appropriate. The word “puzzle” becomes both noun and adjective, suggesting not only the questions, but also the sense of uncertainty, and even outright frustration, for those...

read more
Lessons Learned From Winter

Lessons Learned From Winter

  We just had another blast of winter and school is closed again. My kids are ecstatic. I am a little less enthusiastic. To be honest, winter is not one of my favorite seasons. The cold and darkness can easily dissolve my motivation to get up as early as I’d like...

read more
Holiday Self-Care: Being present is a gift

Holiday Self-Care: Being present is a gift

  Holiday time is usually no picnic for parents of kids with special needs. Our children often don’t do well with changing schedules and traveling. Friends and family members can be inadvertently critical or insensitive to our burden, and miss our child’s unique...

read more