I’ve been a full blown “Autism Mom” now for almost a full 18 years.  My now adult son was diagnosed at the age of 3 1/2 years old.  Most days are okay and some pretty good.  Other days, after working at one of my three jobs, including managing his small business, I want to fall to the floor in a heap. But once in a blue moon, we have a really bad day where I just want to get in my car, wrapped up in a big blanket and simply cry it out.  

As a family, we keep it simple.  We keep a general routine that revolves around my eldest sons schedule.  He gets up at the same time every morning around 4:30 am. He has the same shower time each day, and does all the family laundry (except folding) every morning before we get out of bed.  Daily he monitors his stash of personal care products and pantry items – frequently bellowing out loud when hes low on something or needs more “backups”.  Me? I’m either off to the store to fetch toothpaste and ramen noodles, folding the laundry thats piled up on my bedroom floor or updating his website.  At the end of the day, like clockwork, he heads upstairs and goes to sleep. Sexy life, right?

One random afternoon a few months ago, with my son in the basement, and his pizza in the oven….the power went out for no particular reason.  “HEY!”  “WHAT THE (very bad word) IS HAPPENING!”  he roars from the basement.  “The electricity went out, maybe a car hit a pole somewhere nearby.” I replied. Well, that was logial enough…..or at least I thought so.  Barrelling like a rhino upstairs, tripping in the dark on the wooden stairs and stubbing his toes…he was going to lose it.  It was base – his panic.  Fight or flight instincts taking complete control of of our household INSTANTLY.

When a 6′ 5″ 280 pound man goes sideways into a full-on autism induced raging meltdown, it gets real, quick.  Unfortunately, he is food insecure and his unbaked pizza was just put in the oven.  His panic was overflowing demonstrated by swear words, throwing things, banning me from going out to pick him up hamburgers.  It was NUTS!  He was convinced that he was going to starve, it was the end of the world and all his art work files on his computer were GONE!  Thank all that is good and holy that the lights came back up 29 minutes 32 seconds later.  The shock waves began to ebb…..and our version of normalcy ultimately returned…I think.

A  letter came in the mail a few weeks later that was not welcomed news.  Our power company was planning to replace our meter.  It went onto explain that a crew will be by sometime within a 4 week time frame, shut off the power and they will be finished in about 10 minutes.  Oh. Hell. No. Not at our house, thank you very much! A quick phonecall, explained the situation, appointment set, calendared with enough time to prepare my son.  He took it in, and agreed we neded to leave for lunch that day.  Problem averted – dodged that bullet.

They say you manifest your own reality.  I don’t know who was thinking about the possibility of the power going out more, me, my son or our dogs.  “Someone has been over thinking the power going out!” I remarked out loud while watching the morning weather reort on the news a couple of weeks ago.  A storm was coming. A massive windstorm with sustained hurricaine force winds.  “WHAT. DID. HE. SAY?” My oldest cried out, from the basement (he has the hearing of a bat!).  This is not really happening.  We live in the Pacific Northwest and are typically not used to weather events like this.  It had to be the overzelousness of our local weather reporters….we are used to panic attack reporting.  You know, snow storm warnings that amount to a dusting.  Thunderstorms yielding a single strike – that kind of thing.

Preparing for the worst we bought a dozen flaslights, stocked up on shelf stable foods our sons will eat, gathered candles, explained the situation and possible ramifications then knocked our oldest out with Melatonin for the evening.  It worked and he seemed fine.  The winds came.  It was a doozy, the lights flickering hinted the stress on the system – the news was reporting the storm of the century.  Overnight over 800 trees snapped taking out the electricity to over 175,000 homes in our city.  We were lucky, we lost fencing and some of our roof.  But we never lost power.  Thank God above!

The insurance company sent me to the Crisis Center when I called in our claim.  Keeping in perspective that we needed to be patient – our adjuster came out today –  a full two weeks later. A model of efficiency he was.  Roofer in tow, my younger son and husband fetched out spare shingles from our storage area that had been waiting 20 years to see the light of day.  Received a healthy check on the spot for a new roof and fence, chatted about his travels and the damage he has assessed and counted ourselves doubly lucky.

Ironically, my younger son found something in storage deep beneth the  stairs.  A treasure!  My very favorite down coat.  Vintage now, a 30 year old Pacific Trail, baby blue and still beauriful.  I was estatic!  Washed up, fluffy and ready to go when I actually need to go get in my car and cry it out. As a veteran autism mom I AM ALL about being prepared.

~ Wendy Frye

“The greatest weapon against stress is having the ability to choose one thought over another.” ~ William James




It all started innocently enough. I found my adult son, who was diagnosed on the autism spectrum many years ago, in the laundry room. Not a typical destination for him, so I asked him what he was doing. “Laundry, what else!” he bellowed back. Well then, doing his laundry. Nice. What??????

Mystified, I phoned his father, my husband, and co-pilot in this life with autism. He too, mystified. Had to be just an isolated incident, we agreed. Random laundry washing, nothing to see here – moving along. Even though I wanted to make it a “teachable moment”, you know, give instructions on sorting, folding an putting away – decided not too. Didn’t want to scare him or give away ulterior motives. ‘Cause if he sensed I was giving him too many directives, I get the full “mule” effect.

A few days later, I realized that a pile of laundry to fold and put away was growing in my bedroom. Now, that’s not out of the ordinary. What was, however, my husband had not been responsible. Upon asking, he rolled his eyes and told me that the last time he was loading the washer our son thundered in and warned him “DO NOT WASTE ALL THE LAUNDRY SOAP!”

Big brother then stormed up to his younger brothers room and announced, loudly, very, very loudly, that his little brother ‘IS A COMPLETE SLOB!” adding “JUST LOOK AT ALL THIS LAUNDRY!”. Younger brother, stunned, had to beg big brother to leave it for him to do.

No such luck. Today I came home from work and every available piece of clothing, all the towels, bedding items and couch blankets are clean – and in a pile, on my bedroom floor. Thankfully I arrived home armed. I invested in the big bottle of laundry soap for the “Laundry Nazi”. He was so excited – cause it has the fabric softener included. Yes son, I suspected that would please you.

“Now, lets discuss folding tecniques….” ‘WHAT! WHY?!?!?!”

It’s gonna be a long lesson.

~Wendy Frye



Apparently a war was waged recently – chillingly close to my bedside. It must have been quite a sight. Unseen by me, even though it was fought in my own bathroom. Yes, I can see from the newly darkened hair of my husbands he attempted, again, to color his own locks.

Mind you, it suits him, that deep brown hair color. Looks good with his Sicilian year round skin tone. And honestly, I appreciate him taking care of himself. As we age (we as in all of us) its only natural to fight nature with the products and protocols manufactured just for this purpose. But really, my toilet seat was meant to be white, dear.

Oh, and the drips on the counter, in the drawers, and all around the sink? Didn’t you USE the gloves provided in the box, dear? And my towels, or should I say your towels now, they didn’t do anything to solicit such abuse. Yes, there is a waiting period for the dye to adhere to the hair folicle….I get that. But getting sucked into your favorite NFL channel – post season no less – is not a good enough excuse for destroying the nice bed linens that I JUST washed and replaced. Again, where was the plastic head liner that was also provided IN THE BOX, dear?

Thanks for leaving the conditioning treatment in the shower for me to use too. But leaving the comb, q-tips, and oh! so thats where the plastic gloves went….they too are in the shower, dear. And I’m curious, just how did you manage to spray that forsaken dye on the ceiling? Do you just shake like one of the dogs when they come in from the rain, dear? The mirror, did what you saw need to be swiped by your hand while wrangling the applicator, dear?

Yes, it was a thrifty thought, buying a nice hair dye kit on sale, with a coupon to use in the privacy (you thought) of your own home. It really was……but I think next time you need to be supervised. Of course, I’ll grab the stain remover, paint supplies, industrial cleansers and hydrogen peroxide when I’m at the store, dear. No problem. But honey – I’m also going to make you an appointment for 3 weeks from now with my stylist. I have a feeling it will save us more in the end, dear.

(Insert eye roll, right about HERE, dear.)

~ Wendy Frye

“A good marriage would be between a blind wife and a deaf husband.” ~ Michel de Montaigne


I am the proud mother of two sons. Both adults now – one a Senior in High School and the eldest, diagnosed on the autism spectrum so long ago that it really doesn’t matter.

The burdens of raising children in this day and age are quite remarkable. It has to be said with todays technology we can loose touch with each other in a home more often than keeping in touch with children being sucked into the vortex of social media. Never looking up from the dinner table is not my idea of time well spent.

Since retiring early from a sparkling career to care for my eldest, we’ve finally hit a time that we could come together as more of a family. With the sacrifices of raising a special needs child, i.e. the monetary outlay, abbreviated social life, appointments and therapies, it can be said that our earlier years were a blur and nothing to be envied.

So, now, when it’s actually legal for me to run away (oh ya, I won’t lie, it’s not a thought but a fantasy) we have pulled in and are actually enjoying each other. Call it upside-down and backwards – but we are now living forward.

I never got to (had to) drive either of my sons to a soccer game. I’ll leave that pleasure to other parents. Neither of my sons played sports, one couldn’t and the other wouldn’t. While we missed out on all the extra-curricular activities I hear other parents bitch about (no time to themselves, the expense, the coaches, the juggling of a calendar) its all good.

But hey. I can’t even describe how wonderful it is to be dragged out of bed way too early on a Saturday morning by my eldest, The Artist!, who wants to show off his newest graphic art work. Always a surprise – this man is going places. Need more coffee on those mornings.

Or, watching my youngest son, also technically an adult, gain success at school. He’s growing outward and finally enjoying unique activities that appeal to him. Ecentric, smart, shall I say dapper? We love going to thrift stores to score another vintage pair of jeans, or a Pendleton wool flannel to wear overseas when he visits Europe this spring.

Who else can claim that even though the new eclectic movie by Wes Anderson “The Grand Budapest Hotel” isn’t showing in our city, yet, still holds enough interest that we will be re-creating their signature confection this weekend. Why, that would be me – any my youngest! This little sumptuous ditty requires a trip to the farmers market for the best cream available plus a run to the local german import store for the finest chocolate from Bavaria. “Courtesan Au Chocolate” – on the menu. And no, I’m not sharing.

Tonight, we’ve already planned whats for dinner. I’ve gathered up some great nibbles and drinks to watch the next episode of “The Vikings”…one of our favorite historical shows – together. We four Fryes.

I am lucky. Twenty five years this July, married to the same great guy, two adult sons who are finding success in their own way….with some tasty treats along the way. And even though, deep in our hearts, we would have preferred a different outcome than being lifetime caregivers…..we are still miles ahead when it comes to appreciating family. And now, finally coming to a time when we feel a little more normal than not as a family. Our little, teeny tiny, family.

(Oh, I should add the tag-line about the two horrible little white dogs count around here too.)

Enjoy the day! ~ Wendy Frye

“Everybody thought I was a bit of an eccentric for wanting to be out there looking at the stars, but I still do.” ~ Brian May



In a home cloaked in Autism, many common words and their definition blur. When a simple noun, like iron, most likely a supplement to treat anemia, or the invention used to smooth wrinkles out of clothing at a certain temprature……transmutes into something far else. Say, the device that teeters precariously above the washing machine, next to the laundry soap…..that eventually will clonk onto an unsuspecting passer-by at any random moment.

Listed here, for your enjoyment, are some refined meanings of the words used in our humble, socially- awkward home:

Excessive: The need for our two Bichon Frise dogs to go in and out of the back door 12 times all while typing this short blog. And, might I mention, never in tandem.

Strange: The need for my now adult son on the Spectrum to play synthesized Christmas music (no words, only synthe) in March….at 9 in the morning.

Bizarre: Those families who make and eat one meal – without alterations – together.

Travel: All together as a family, never happening, who will take care of the dogs?

Camping: See Travel.

Simple: My husband who seems to over-enjoy poorly executed zombie movies…..all the time.

Medication: Supplements, and only supplements.

Painful: The moment you realize there are no clean towels in the house even though you have completed 10 loads of laundry.

Clean: My sons, considering the number of showers and baths they take daily.

Restaurant: That place just out of reach where each of our family members can order something they will actually put in their mouth and chew at the same time and at the same table.

Dinner: Sometimes, a glass of wine.

Dinner: Three separate meals, executed by the chef most competent to complete the task as designated by the crowd.

Dinner: Made by the person who only wants a glass of wine.

Dinner: Impossible.

(Excuse me, I have to let one of the dogs out.)

Mystery: Whenever the author of this blog needs to use one of the number of tech tools supposedly located in our home – it will invariably be out of ink, out of order or will have simply vanished.

McDonalds: Where the devil lives.

Port Wine Cheese Ball: A food group.

Hole: A design feature on all my socks.

Closet: Where all my cute clothes went to die.

Ear Buds: The ones to my iPod. Vanished.

Newspaper: Dirty paper left on the living room floor during the morning conquest for coffee, yogurt and a Cliff Bar.

iPad: Specifically my iPad. An amazing device that must be surrendered promptly when my youngest son comes home from high school.

Money: More dirty paper NOT found on the living room floor.

Girls: The dogs who now want back in the house.

Green Food: According to some around here to be considered poisonous.

Genetic: An inability to do the dishes, a paternal contribution to the puzzle.

Lightbulb: Stolen globe that emits light taken upstairs to light up the lamp in the youngest sons room, again. (Never mind the supply that is located in the laundry room, next to the iron.)

Prius: The silent stalker that, alternatitively, sounds like a sewing machine going uphill – that replaced my Jaguar.

Handsome: A manly look that is gauged by how much cologne is worn.

And lastly,

My Life: Worth it.

~ Wendy Frye

“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.” ~ Harvey Fierstein


This article ran on wwww.ageofautism.com – complete with video!


We were well into our parenting years the first time we took a real break from our “unique” routine. Our way of life, with autism in the home….well, lets just say it was a rarity to move in a group LET alone consider just WHAT it would take to achieve one of America’s finest family pastimes – taking a vacation.

Our eldest son, diagnosed on the autism spectrum at the age of 3 1/2 years old, was making measurable progress. He found his voice in his 8th year – and was being released from physical and occupational therapies at school. Now, I don’t think I need to detail the herculean efforts poured into this young man to get to this place – or feel bad about the $90,000 outlay. We took personal debt (aka credit cards) to a whole different level. But Man! Oh! Man! we had finally made it to a positive, measurable milestone. What a perfect time to pause, take a honeymoon from all the therapies per se, and quickly celebrate a little bit of progress.

It was our last purchase made on the last line of credit we had available – a trip for four to Disneyland. And was it ever worth every single penny PLUS interest, fees and the stamps to mail in payments! Well before Mickey Mouse got pissed and quit handing out VIP passes to families who could use the extra time and assistance, we were able to secure that very golden ticket to fast-tracking the park attractions. While I had to physically force my eldest son to stay with me on the first ride (yep, that was me manhandling my son – don’t judge unless you live the life, friend) soon after that, he was hooked. We finished 16 attractions that first day, going on to have a delightful dinner in the French Quarter of the park and ultimately enjoying the best vacation of our lives.

James, who turned 20 this January, went on to complete his education. And now, as with all things Autism, we’ve had to change up our family plans to assist him in his chosen career, as an artist. We are now knee deep in Special Needs Trusts, Business Plans, Vocational Rehab, Employment Support, Job Studies, and on and on…..

(Heavy sign here)

If there was one thing I regret out loud, it’s not remembering to look back and reflect more often. In the relentless pursuit of recovery, the sheer angst of being a parent helpless to ever understand what “normal” family life is, thats when and where we missed it. We simply missed stopping to turn back to GAZE at the amazing accomplishments of a young man who was working harder than anyone to plant his flag. So, take pictures, lots and LOTS of pictures! Stop, pause and reflect every once in awhile, and go ahead, do it! Take a jump off the listing carousel we know as life, and give the sword a pull from the stone ~ you’ll never pry it loose unless you try.

“The soul never thinks without a picture.”


My youngest son, a devout wise-ass, knows all and speaks detail brilliantly. No wonder his advanced placement history teacher asked him to participate in the high school “Knowledge Bowl”. He’s the history ringer.

He’s self motivated and has studied the minutiae of any and all subjects that strike his fancy. Never a conformist and always the quickest wit in the room. Just another mountain of understanding for his Autism Parents to climb. His older brother by two years diagnosed so many years ago…..

Must have been a whim, dressing up the morning of Halloween, quietly with only himself for company that morning. He gives himself about 20 minutes to prepare for the day: eating a bite of breakfast, cruising the paper for details, checking the weather report and grabbing his 200 pound backpack for the morning bike ride.

The morning text from my young genius son: Mom, need lunch money and can you bring my belt too? I dressed up as a Mormon Missionary and forgot it. My reply: What?!? No, really? You DID NOT!

At least 45% of his jumbo sized high school is LDS, aka Latter Day Saints, or Mormon if you like. So, his costume choice, a Missionary no less, could possibly render him expelled by the end of the day. But no, according the my son he was well received. Upon arriving to his zero hour class, overseen by the drama teacher, he was recognized. “You need a nametag.” spouted his observer – who himself was dressed as a Catholic Cardinal. Black duct tape on his left breast, Book of Mormon under his right arm , white shirt and black tie….only piece missing was the side part in his uncooperative hairline.

He struck many a pose for pictures that day, for Facebook no doubt. The LDS kids laughed with him, told him he looked great and asked him to join in Seminary sometime. He relayed a few family nuggets of Mormon lineage that “blew their minds”. After all they are his friends. By nature he is not judgmental, and with his unfeigned sincerity he trumped any possible insult to half the school populous.

I managed the lunch money and purposefully forgot the belt. Upon his arrival home, I just HAD to let him know, that even though his odds of being beat up were pretty slim, he now has 1200 classmates praying for his immortal soul. Him? Speechless.

God love you son. ~ Wendy

“God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.” Saint Augustine



It is thought by some, that Autism renders the soul without ego. Living in the id – or emerging infantile ego state – of base needs and Freudian explanations over the lack of “social conscience”.

The id of my son:

Social conscience, for my adult son diagnosed on the spectrum at the age of 3 1/2 years old, be dammed. He slurps, burps or bumps into people on the street without a thought. Ever mindful of hygiene, taking two showers a day, abusing the deodorant and shampoo, he still refuses to shave his beard. Looking like a wanna be bearded Amish man – his face fuzz is just NOT manly – but he doesn’t care. An extended hand to shake receives a wag of the finger, no hands touching. Awkward? Yes. It’s all in the getting used to part of knowing him.

The ego of my son:

So. You want to talk about works of art and their makers. Discuss creations by masters of pop or surreal nature. He’s on it and engaged. Working with his new job counsellor today, a charming lady – he’s met his perfect ying/yang match. She’s creative, happy and does not hide her obsession for colorful pens….all nestled in clay mugs in a row across her desk.

Lively discussion, complete with true admissions from the young man, he paints his future out loud like a masterpiece. Can’t name the exact voodoo his counsellor possesses – but she is in possession of a certain kind of magic for sure. The conversation drifts into the nuts and bolts of the work involved, she turns to me and my son tunes out.

He retreats into the conference room. The walls littered with quotes and phrases of encouragement and an oversized white board. A blank and handy canvas, just ready for his ink. Picking up the first dry erase pen (no asking, just assuming it’s okay) he starts a new drawing . She quickly finds and hands him another box of more colors and shades from her extensive collection. Just like my son, never missing a beat.

THIS is going to be fun……
~ Wendy Frye


Breaking Bad Ass

We like to have a beer or other adult beverage while watching the Seattle Seahawks play football. With our son on the autism spectrum since he was three, an adult now, there stands a hard line between beer and wine – and hard alcohol.

“Vodka!” He screams at the top of his lungs….”Yes, Vodka.” We, his dutiful but worn out parents confess. “It makes a delicious alternative when mixed with lemonade vs. a heavy beer.” We TRY to explain.

“It will lead to DOMESTIC VIOLENCE!” He vehemently proclaims. Daring to hope he understands and will choose to be rational like he usually is……we headed down to watch the game. With the vodka drinks.

Ever the comedian, and dramatic as all get out, our “not so sold” adult son hears us from his room yelling at the television, cheering on Russell Wilson the the team after a very solid play. The stadium in Seattle is rocking and everyone is knocking. Except our son.

“Thats IT!” “You are fighting and it’s because of the VODKA!”

We yell upstairs to him that we really are not fighting….we are cheering on our team. No go. “I’M CALLING 911 NOW!” Oh shit. He does have his cell phone fully charged, in his room, on the night stand at all times.

We rush up the stairs. In full boxer short glory he’s taken the “God Forsaken Poison!” from the fridge (sitting next to the apple beer) and threw it out the back door almost to the neighbors yard.



Mind you, we suburban dwellers, affected by the virtual tragedy of autism, i.e. underemployed, lifetime caretakers, double duty chefs, and on and on. Deserve. A. Drink. Especially at this very moment. So, in his room, hand poised to press send on his cell he smirks…..

Yes, I called him a rat bastard. Yes, I meant it. No, I’m a horrible mother sometimes. Yes, he had us. Yes, he knew it.

Yes, we dumped the bottle.

Yes, we had an apple beer instead.

This morning I approached my adult son on the spectrum. “Wanna go to the casino?”

Oh boy…..the new frontier.


(snicker) ~ Wendy Frye

“Spend some time this weekend on home improvement; improve your attitude toward your family.” ~ Bo Bennett


Tonight, a “Super” Full Moon will be visible in the evening sky – its closest pass to earth this year.  With the illumination of the full moon follows pop legends, superstitions and lore.  Hospital Emergency Rooms fill with mothers about to deliver their babies. Tides grow high.  Humans (and non-humans) have long remarked of bizarre and mysterious behaviors during this time.  In fact, the term Lunacy is literally taken from ” Lunar “, meaning moon!  

With Autism in the home, the full moon effect goes on steroids. A fiery combination of the unpredictible nature of both the lunar pull and a linear thought process.  Urban legends are growing around this phenom.  Frantic to fantastic – suffice to say there is just something peculiar around this monthly event.


As the very moon rose up this morning, the favorite PC terminal of our ASD son, has served up it’s last You-tube video.  While he won’t exactly tell us just WHAT he was looking up, it obviously was of questionable genre (and his refrain is a choice!).  “But yes, son.  That blue screen is not good.”

The outdated gaming tower was old and trusty for him.  Purchased so long ago – it really was a trainer computer.  Since about the age of 5 he’s nimbly surfed the web, adjusting the parental controls to his liking.  Today, on the eve of moon rise, he’s gone into complete mourning – wearing the black standard for a heightened effect.

So now its finally time.  In the office, where the PC lays in wake, sitting right behind is the real beauty in the room.  His very own Mac, you know, the big screened goddess of technological mayhem. A decadent but well deserved graduation gift to himself – a system he can use to create his own brand of digital art.  He’s only broken out the animation pad a heavy handful of times….continuing to maintain his long term relationship with the clunky PC. 

“I KILLED IT!”  he exclaimed.  “It had a soft landing, don’t get worked up.” his Dad replies.  “What do you mean “SOFT LANDING” DAD?, I didn’t THROW IT!!!” (Oh shit, this is going to get litteral now…..)

I called home from work and talked to him.  The sadness dripping from his voice.  “I killed it, Mom.”  “Don’t worry, you didn’t kill it.  It was old.  It was it’s time.”  “Besides, you can use your Mac now.”

“Mom?” – he asked. “Ya, I’m here.”  “Uh, the dog pooped in the house and the ice maker broke.  Jon broke the window with a GOLF ball and Dad got angry. When you coming home?”

(All this before 10:30 in the morning.)

“How about tomorrow?” I laughed.  “WHAT!!!” he screeched.

…..snicker….. ~ Wendy Frye

“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”  ~ e.e. cummings