Bulls Run

http://darien.patch.com/articles/nj-dad-on-youtube-teachers-bullied-my-autistic-son

This link, this tiny scrap of space stored on the mighty, mighty internet has been viewed over 3 and 1/2 million times since being posted last month.

It’s just a Dad, who needed to understand his son. You see, the beat of his heart is his son with Autism. His boy had been returning from school agitated, sad, depressed and not himself. Dad wired his son, sent him to school, to later hear himself how his boy spent his day. It was a way to shine a light on the mystery of his son’s situation. His son is not verbal enough to tell his own story with the words to garner his fathers help with being bullied.

My husband is a professional educator. Our son is Autistic. We watched the video this morning and are sickened for this Dad. While bullying happens in schools all over the world – this situation is especially heinous. We have been blessed with mostly excellent educators over the years. There have been some mean kids who infiltrated our son’s life, but as we say, “Can’t fix mean, rude or (insert your own).”

Watch the video if you haven’t yet. It’s not super complicated. Bullying never really is.

Now, move past this special education room to open up your own personal review on bullying. Reflect now, are you guilty of intentionally being a jerk? Did you make someone feel bad on purpose today? Have you mis-represented or given false information to intentionally trip someone up? Are you lying to yourself about this? Are you concealing your true self to ride on the coat-tails of someone else’s power trip? Did you intend to make someone’s day awful? Really, do you think it’s okay to blackball someone? The powers you wield, are you using it for the greater good? When you are kind or nice, is it really a game to get what you need from them to later screw them out of whatever it was you got out of them? Do you feel sick sometimes recalling your behavior with or against another person? Have you stripped someone of the tools they need to be successful at work or in life? Do you only find identity within the mob? Do you know what mobbing is? Are you making someone sick with the stress of having to deal with you? Are you showing physical signs of stress yourself for being such a person? Did you have to make them cry? Seriously, why do you act this way?

Or….. did you help your neighbor, friend, family member, co-worker or a stranger without solicitation? Did you give an intentional compliment and sincerely mean it today? Did you harbor warm feelings when you smiled at your co-worker or family member this morning? Can you honestly say “Thank you” and mean it? Do you reflexively stay positive? Do you expect the best from everyone and get it? Can you count more than 5 true friends in your life, that also includes your family? Are you nice because it matters? Are you the light on a dark day? Do you support others as much as they support you? Do you have to ask people to change or do you demonstrate the way? Do you lead by serving? Are you happy with yourself, your life and the people who populate your world?

Take inventory, does anyone in your household come home feeling bad from work or school? Have you or anyone you know had drastic personality changes – or show signs of depression or stress sickness recently? Talk about it, be open, listen to them and support the change needed to stop the madness of being bullied, mis-treated or abused. Don’t be tolerant – if you know it’s happening to someone around you, don’t join in, speak up and speak out against bullying.

Again, life is only a matter of our own perceptions. Perceive a life without bullies. ~ Wendy Frye

“A riot is the language of the unheard.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sibling

When the Maker waved his hand over the soul seed of our youngest son, he must have been in a very peculiar mood. Within the universal, infinite wisdom given in the first breath of his life, our second born son has proved to be the balance between our whole family.

In my minds eye, that first moment between Him and our youngest went a little like this:

“You will have infinite potential to love, build relationships and forge new paths of living. Be sure to take every imaginable tool, trinket, or other necessary item with you – prior to any adventure, always require your family to visit the local hardware store for adequate supplies.”

“You will have a great thirst for knowledge and curiosity for intellectual arts. It will be best that you ask at least 17 questions on each and every topic under the glorious sun of my creation to maximize your learning. Repeat this quest several times daily, your parents will be your best resource.”

“You will seek comfort in familial surroundings with your loved ones. Eventually, you will find your true love compass and build your next life with a partner. Until that time – fling every article of clothing, wet towel and soda cans around your room. Mix daily with a dose of Axe deodorant, body spray and a bowie knife. Your Mother will be reassured of your presence in the home.”

“You will posses great curiosity. You will always explore alternative solutions to problems and note every potential outcome with great care. In your pursuits, be sure to examine, explore, empty, or use GPS tracking on every personal item owned by every other family member. It is important that you can locate these items, keep inventory and every once in awhile, move something – just to keep that sense of suspense alive in your father.”

“You will be the first to try, the first to contribute to the conversation, and the first to champion new ideas and concepts that arise. Tear apart the vacuum cleaners, toaster ovens, and your bicycle – just to see how they work. Stay on top of all the technology in the household – out wit your parents at every turn. Seek their knowledge and enhance their lives with your thoughts, add to the conversation….every time.”

“Be the guy who has to rip open every shopping bag the instant it hits the front door. Dominate the remote control, equalize the chores between you and your Autistic brother – “because he doesn’t get off without helping around here.”

“You will be fascinated with fire. The randomness of the flame will entice thoughts of the endless possibilities of quantum physics. Your parents will reward this with annual fireworks for the 4th of July. Sort the items, list out the schedule, light the match – “Fire in the Hole!”

“You will know great love in this lifetime, forge deep friendships, will learn and teach others to be the best version of themselves, this I promise.” “And above all else, you will enrich the lives of all you meet – the very definition of polite you will be.”

“Your road won’t be the easiest, nor would you really want it to be. The character of your soul will help you pass the tests given you by having a disabled brother.” “Tread well younger son…..your parents, brother and the others in your life are already so very proud of you.”

Love to our study souled son, the younger one who makes us laugh out loud, every single day. ~ Wendy Frye

“Happiness resides not in possessions, and not in gold, happiness dwells in the soul.”
~Democritis

Maestro

My husband, the father to my two sons, has enjoyed a long and passionate relationship with music. He is an avid collector, student and master of all things regarding the Beatles plus about 8,000 other bands of the 50’s and 60’s early rock generation.

It began, he claims, during the ’70’s decade of his young adult life. Waking up to “Muskrat Love” playing from his AM/FM clock radio was his catalyst for a quick change. Delving into the older generations of music; he went on over the years to discover albums, concert tickets and the like at local thrift shops and record stores. A lifelong adventure for him, and a room full of memories. Yep, I personally certify him a hoarder.

Some type of melody is constantly playing in our home, and my husband can reference every band mate, album track, song title, studio session, lyric reference, life span or any other assorted, tiny detail that was musically produced during the given period. A longtime obsession and photographic memory? Yep, that he has.

At some point in time, this true love of music has rubbed off on our eldest son. Our oldest, the one on the Autism Spectrum, had been very, very private about his musical preferences for many years. Until recently. And now that we have set of full on auditorium speakers in the basement? An audiophile’s dream system to play any genre or style of music for the entire neighborhood to enjoy? What does our oldest choose to entertain us with each Saturday morning?

ITALO DISCO! Oh yeah! Sounds just like the same ’70’s hangover you remember from the Saturday Night Fever days of your teenaged years. We couldn’t believe it in the beginning – and didn’t really know where on earth he could have found it…but there he went, playing the very type of music my husband originally tried to duck and run from! When we asked him where he got this music, he looked us in the eye like we were a couple of complete morons, to then dismiss us from the room. He was the one now busy researching bands and the infinite musical details. Yep Hon, that’s your boy.

On any given Saturday morning, “The Maestro” fires up the stereo and serenades his still sleeping family with his personal musical picks for us to enjoy. Around 6:00 am – just like the AM/FM clock radio days of my husbands recollection – we wakeup to The Guess Who, Devo, Wendy Carlos, Queen, Tina Turner, or the J. Giles Band. A long list of eclectic and frankly offbeat finds of his very own. Obsessed with a track or two, we often are required to listen to the same minute of music over and over for a good half hour. Sheer Saturday Morning Bliss.

Of course, my husband feels morally obligated to pick up little gems for our son, a new adventure in finding offerings for him to expand his boys personal music collection. He has gone way passed thrilled to share his decades long hobby with his first born son. Ode to Joy.

Thankfully, my youngest shares my music gene. From time to time, we launch a counter attack with a shot of metal rock….just often enough to make the other two aware that there is current music being produced somewhere “out there”.

We live in our own world, the place we’ve created as a family of four that is as eclectic and varied as our son’s taste in music. We wouldn’t have it any other way, or exchange our Saturday mornings with anyone else. Then again, we’ve threatened him many times, that 6:00 am is a little early for “Whip It” by Devo…………

Aspirin anyone? ~ Wendy Frye

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”
~ Aldous Huxley

Spring Break

Took a quick break to phone home today. The boys and my husband are home for Spring Break – no bikini beach getaways, just a Dad and his boys, the oldest on the Autism Spectrum, at home for the week…..with nothing especially pressing to do (obviously).

Husband:
(ring, ring, ring, ring, ring…..) “Whew, HELLO????, (slurp, burp, breathe deep, exhale)..

Wife:
“Honey? What in the world are you doing?”

Husband:
“It’s a BIG match!” “Playing Kinnect golf”, “Just hit an EAGLE babe!”…

Wife:
“…oh, cool…”

Husband:
“Oh, yeah! I’m doing a full on celebration dance!, got my butt wiggling, the younger son is getting physically ill and the dogs ran upstairs!” “I’m a winner, I’m a winner, I’m THE winner, winner CHICKENNNNNNN Dinner!” (Can’t be pretty)

“Hey Hon, glad you called – can you pick up some toilet paper on your way home from work? Oh, and I should have a cold beer as an award for my EAAAAAGLE!….” (Seriously, and I’ve been working all day?)

Younger son in background:

“Ice cream, vanilla with chocolate Magic Shell, please!”

Older son in background:

“Pizza! and Diet Coke for me!”

Husband:

“You should have SEEEENNNNN my shot!”

Younger son still in background:

“Don’t ignore me.” “Don’t ignore my request, Mom!”

Oldest son:

“Hey, you always forget me!” “What about mine?!?”

I start making the list.

Husband back from celebrating and out of breath:

“Did you get it all?”

Needed to check reception, took the receiver and bashed in on my desktop at work, one, two, three times – just to be sure. I startled everyone in the entire credit union. And now that I had my husbands full attention:

“Seriously?” “After working all day?”

Husband:

“I can’t go, it’s nearly a 3 way tie, your oldest shot over 300 yards on his drive and the youngest has your smack talk gene”….”gotta go”……

Perfect.

On my way home from work I stopped at the grocery store. Picked up all the items on the list and returned home. The boys will remain out of psychotherapy for having their snack needs abandoned. And I? I was rewarded with a hot dinner, ready on the table, with three happy men at my sides. I heard about every shot, slice, divot, swear word, and who smelled the worst with sweat.

“Everyone in the shower!” I announced……

Tonight, before bed, I wrote out tomorrows “Honey Do” lists. Punishment? Maybe. But not really, only adding laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning and of course, a little Kinnect golf. Why not?

Battle on boys, battle on! ~ Wendy Frye

“I realized my family was funny, because nobody ever wanted to leave our house.”
~Anthony Anderson

Given To Fly

April is National Autism Awareness Month in the United States. Autism appears in the first three years of life and affects the brains normal development of social and communication skills.

Today, the day I’m writing this piece, the Center for Disease Control reports that 1 in 88 children are diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum with 1 in 54 boys affected. Is it just that more children are affected with the disorder? Or more cases being detected? Good question, but not one I’m going to attempt to answer here.

Here, I would like to thank the many people who have supported our son, a wonderful, talented and humorous young man, My son. You see, My son is a graduating senior in high school this year. He’s passed his standardized testing requirements, kept his grades up, and is going to walk with his classmates to receive his diploma. Sounds pretty typical, right? Well no, not this time, not at all.

He was a beautiful, healthy baby born at the local hospital. We were the proud new parents of this clever, happy boy. Developing well, meeting and beating all his milestones on time, we became very concerned when he started turning so ill, allergic, and quiet around 18 months of age. In those days, this was a very uncommon situation and a deep sense of confusion became our new norm. Were we scared? Stunned stupid.

Subsequent to his diagnoses of moderate Autism Spectrum Disorder at 3 1/2 years of age, we decided as his parents that this was not about us. It is about him. To regain his health, his development, and his life – and just how he was going to make it a good one. Were we crazy? We’ve been told so.

The starting point was his first official physical therapy appointment. Stripped down to his diaper, facing a sensory obstacle course, he mustered all his remaining courage. While making it to step two of ten he passed out, fast asleep. The shock to his system overwhelmed him so much he just shut down. This far behind the rest? Tragically so.

Our son started his school career at 3 1/2 years of age. His allergies raged for much of his young life. He didn’t have much to say until he was about 6 years old. He had a personal speech therapist for 11 years and a string of school teachers, aides, and assistance provided to him almost daily. Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Food Aversion Therapy, Behavior Therapy (just once, he was sick not defiant), and an assortment of medical treatments were embedded within the moments that fill his childhood memories. Were we sad? Seriously? Don’t go there.

My husband, a teacher himself, and I were invited to an Autism workshop hosted by the school psychologist at our sons high school. It was a room full of educators, counselors, administrators and others interested enough in the subject to attend. We were wide open for Q & A from this crowd. What is it like to have a child on the spectrum? Wow, how to explain?

Does he know? Yes, he does and he gets self conscious in some situations because of it. How about his brother, what is their relationship like? Solid, his younger brother is an outstanding man of his own – they wrestle, bicker and tease somewhat like other siblings do. A good day memory? The day he lied about eating the Fritos. That brand of higher cognitive function was welcome in our home. Did we think that teachers should point out the autistic students and discuss behaviors with the other kids in class for understanding?, What do you think causes Autism?, and many other valid questions – to understand an autistic student better.

Mostly, we credit our son with his amazing life story and turn around. He is the master of his own soul and the driver of his own development. He participated in therapies and took the medicines, suffering through it all. But not by himself. Never alone…he had us, his family.

The perfect opportunity was presented that afternoon. An opportunity to personally THANK those people involved with his education. The outstanding, dedicated staff that has helped shape a young man who had so far to go to get here, his pending graduation. We thank all the special people who got to know him, share his offbeat humor, develop his passion in the Arts, and calm him down when he lost his temper. We truly appreciate you all – right now and into the big, bright future of our boy.

When our son was diagnosed some 15 years ago, it was a 1 in 10,000 chance to win the Autism lottery. Today, the CDC announced the odds are now 1 in 88. One child is diagnosed on the spectrum every 20 seconds. This April, let’s all hope, think and pray that someday, we will not be living in the age of Autism.

~ Wendy Frye

“And sometimes is seen a strange spot in the sky, A human being that was given to fly…”
~ Edward Vedder, Pearl Jam