Sliced

“Relax.” My youngest son tells me. I wasn’t aware that I was uptight – I just asked a rhetorical question. I must have looked confused to him. “Mom, really” he says – “Relax.”

There must have been a point in time when I passed through the portal of being “all knowing and all-seeing Mom” to “Mind it old lady, I suspect everything you even think about being up to.”

He’s is our mental alchemist child. The child, who probes, studies, suspects, and projects probable outcomes in relation to any situation at hand. It’s not often I get the opportunity to outwit the witty one of the family.

Until one day. The day fate handed me a cherry pie and a fork to eat it with.

Coming in from work, I noted the shears in the living room were hanging not exactly upside down, but re-threaded by the bottom hem of the drapery. The tag was now at the top and the pole was askew. In addition there was drywall dust on the floor and the couch was sagging.

Raising my eyebrow, I asked, who broke the couch? “Your other son” the mental magician tells me.

It was possible. His older brother, on the autism spectrum, has the gumption to pull the couch up to the front window to keep watch for the school bus. He’s not a little guy, but 6’ 4” and around 250 pounds. It wasn’t a luxurious couch by any means. Functional and modern looking, yet cheap, made with pressed wood bones and faux suede skin.

I didn’t ask his brother, not wanting to embarrass him or make him feel awkward if it was his height and weight at the core of the question regarding the couch. It really wasn’t that big of a deal.

A few days go by, and it’s the weekend. I sit in the front room – looking closer at the drapery and the discombobulating effect on the decor. I pulled off the sheer, flipped it over, re-threaded the pole and sat back down.

Interesting……very, interesting.

The Bichons of the family sit on the couch when it’s not occupied by the oldest son waiting for the bus. It’s their perch for viewing the evil joggers and passer-by people who must be barked at. It’s their job to watch and bark – and they take their career seriously.

My kids love those dogs. We all have floor time with toys to tug on and finger guns to shoot them with – it’s big fun in our home. Maybe too big of fun sometimes?

I changed seats to the dining room table, turned and looked my youngest son straight in the eye. My husband, his father was in the kitchen making dinner (he’s a keeper!). I went ahead and laid out my hypothesis in plain, simple language – complete with a “walk-thru” visual aid for the young Einstein.

“Hi Sweetheart.” “What, Mom?” I swept my eyes up and over to the front room bay window. “I bet you were playing with the girls in the den. It got a little wild and Annie chased Lilly back to the couch in the front window for safety sake. You followed, jumping on the couch in the front room with them. You lost your balance and grabbed the shears by instinct. You, by virtue of simple physics, pulled them right off the rod. You then lost your balance and tipped off the couch. In the process the bones of the girls perch cracked and broke in half. You, sensing your life ending for being so careless, re-strung the curtain and blamed your brother for the infraction. Am I right?”

My son, for once in his teenaged life, slipped up. Eyes HUGE, “How did you know that?” “I’m psychic and you’re busted.” He laughed in amazement – and congratulated me on my psychic prowess – turned away and then back to me saying “Seriously, HOW did you know that was what happened?”

“Care for a slice of pie Sweetheart?” ~ Wendy Frye

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” ~ Albert Einstein

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Admissions

I am one of “THOSE Moms”. The mom who was pushed (slammed) into a corner with a diagnosis of Autism for my child. The diagnosis period for our son was dragged out over his second year and into the third – needlessly, on a step system (Global Developmental Disorder, PDD-NOS, etc.) to finally land on ASD, moderately affected. Since he was meeting major milestones, it wasn’t necessary to address his regressive language development – so we were told. This was 1998, putting this into perspective, the book Special Diets for Special Kids by Lisa Lewis, PhD, came out ONE month before our son’s diagnosis.

“Mrs. Frye, there’s no known cause for your sons developmental disabilities, and no known cure for him….just get him through special education and get him ready for an institution. He will have a “qualified” future living in a group home. P.S. Mrs. Frye, can we take some blood for genetic research before you leave?”

Driving 300 miles home, in our mini-van, I wondered what does this “Autism” thing really mean and why am I so scared? Arriving late in the evening, we instantly (instinctively?) ran downstairs and searched “Autism Cure” on Google. (I’m sure anyone reading this article can imagine how heart wrenching that evening was.) We actively mourned for about 24 hours and then got extremely pissed, and formed our anger into action. What action during what I so lovingly call “the lost decade”? The good stuff, biomedical interventions as well as sensory therapies – old school style! We were shooting from the hip – and not taking it from anyone wearing a white coat. Does any of this sound familiar?

First, my husband and I will never be convinced that our previously healthy, happy boy was born this way. He was well and over a period of time started slipping deeper and deeper into poor health. We started asking questions during the last two years before “the final diagnosis”. Those questions were answered with shrugs and denials for treatments. We appealed our insurance company’s decision – complete with a dog and pony show….it was miserable, looking back. Absolutely and certifiably 100% miserable.

Ultimately, WE made THE executive decision as his parents DECIDING that WE would do to get him back to healthy BEFORE concluding any lifelong, abrupt diagnostic ending for our boy, THANK YOU VERY MUCH! To this day, that was the BEST decision WE ever made. Our family has coined the phrase – “Juggling the Astronaut”. That’s what we did, juggled our son who was attached at the end of a cord, a lifeline if you will, through space and time to arrive here, back with us.

I would like to share here some of our home-grown (but not so random) therapies, supplements, processes and procedures that I researched and implemented with my young ASD son. By trial and error, directly or indirectly these things WORKED and helped him REGAIN some of his health and to ultimately grow into the HEALTHIER and HAPPIER young man he is today.

***DISCLAIMER***

This is not health advice (blah, blah, blah). I am not a licensed health professional, so just like everything we do for our kids, please research and determine if any of this has value to your family and children. And remember this was the 1990’s, there just wasn’t the support available with only 1 in 10,000 families with Autism in common. So take all this with a grain of salt or a glass of wine, and thank all that is good and holy that we have a better understanding of how to heal our children.

Where did we start?

First item on the agenda was to tackle was our son’s severe allergies that presented as nasal congestion, plugged ears, and horrible eczema. Our baby boys’ immune system was out to lunch. We did not relish giving him prescription and/or over the counter anti-histamines while his nervous system was struggling to develop. So we looked for viable alternatives. The best thing EVER for scaling back inflammation and slowing down the inflammatory response was MSM. I read the book, The Miracle of MSM by Stanley W. Jacob, MD, and never went back to conventional allergy meds. Over time his skin condition improved, sinuses dried up, asthma abated and he felt better than he had in a long time. The BIG plus? – We were also supplementing bio available sulfur to aid his liver function around his phenolic sulfatase deficiency.

Best bath soak in the world: Queen Helene’s Natural Mineral Bath Salts in Lavender. This gem of a product has been around for decades and contains not only magnesium sulfate but real sulfur, lithium and natural lavender oil. Whoo-hoo! My son was not swallowing pills at the time so everything became a topical application or ground up and swallowed in a beverage. When I smelt the real “brimstone and fire” smell of sulfur in the bathroom I was thrilled! It is one more arrow in my quiver to treat his phenol sulfotransferase deficiency AND eczema. The lavender oil has antiseptic properties and the lithium? Naturally occurring lithium is an excellent mood stabilizer. After his bath my son was somewhat relaxed and ready for bed! Thankfully this product is still in production, stocked in nearly every drug store across America.

My son wouldn’t (or maybe couldn’t) swallow pills for the longest time. As a work-around we resorted to “cereal bottles”. We cut the nipple off midway, filled the bottle with warm rice cereal plus apple juice to conceal whatever powdered vitamins and supplements we could include in his snack. I used a dedicated coffee grinder for pulverizing – and still do while compounding his vitamins to this day. Who really cared about weaning a 3 ½ year old off a bottle when it was the only bridge to health available? Not us.

We spent our tax return on what had to be the last vial of Secretin on the market – had it compounded by a pharmacy with DMSO as a carrier. It really did help our son. As a replacement I was able to locate and supplement freeze-dried porcine duodenum to aid his digestive health. There are several products still readily available as alternative medicine.

Best “quick “education:

The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential, Brain Injured Child Course. I learned enough in that one week parent program to move forward and choose sensory therapies that made a serious and positive impact on my son’s discombobulated nervous system.

Sensory therapies:

Berard Auditory Integration Training. We found Marcie, a therapist, who was travelling through different cities administrating the training. It was thrilling to see the documented improvement in the quality of sound my son was able to hear.

Sensory Learning Program: Mary Bolles method. We spent 12 days in a town about an hour from where we live to take the program. While I learned at the Institutes about brain injury and the amount of effort that it takes to reprogram a previously healthy brain, I had to work full-time and couldn’t implement the full days of therapy necessary to help my son. But with the Sensory Learning Program all modalities of sensory input is implemented within each session. My son simply lay on a table that rotated to stimulate his vestibular system. At the same time there are flashing colored lights on a random cycle to stimulate his visual pathway, all while listening with headphones to chopped up music as in AIT. This was the best therapy EVER. Surprisingly, he was a willing participant. I worried about over stimulating him – but he actually enjoyed the process.

Binaural Beat Brainwave CDs from Hemi-Sync, a Monroe Product: These are outstanding works of art for deep brain stimulation via the auditory pathway – a different take on AIT. I catch my son using these products to this day.

Good Reads:

I found many helpful books at a local used book store. Treasures included a pediatric gastrointestinal medical book from the UK dating from the ‘60’s. Also, another favorite of mine is Let’s Get Well by Adelle Davis – plain and sensible information.

The Singin’ Pole is a good read by Doris Wilson Adams – I met Mrs. Adams in person doing a signing of her book. Her story is our story too – just decades older. The measles/mumps correlation made by the author and her son was very interesting……

Favorite whole food supplements:

I want to offer my favorite nutritional trick for the picky eaters out there. Chia seeds aka salvia seeds. Those seeds have some of the most magnificent nutritional elements I have ever run across. Rich in good fats, high fiber and protein, excellent for gluten free cooking – it is a powerhouse of goodness! In our case, my son really likes pizza. So, to clean up his diet, I make homemade tomato sauce. For a healthy addendum; I grind up and toss in carrots, broccoli and cauliflower as well as a ton of garlic as well as chia “gel”. When soaked in water, chia seeds form a dense gelatin like substance that is slightly sweet – which is perfect to put into the pizza sauce. He doesn’t even know – and there is no telltale evidence he can find.

And lastly, I’m growing Sea-buckthorn plants in my garden. The oil is superior for sensitive skin. The nutritional properties are renowned and all health benefits cross over to the health needs of our son. There are too many benefits to list – so please, research it, apply it, eat it, juice it and maybe even grow it!

I haven’t attended an AutismOne conference, yet – but certainly plan on it next year. I still have so much to learn – and to this day lament what we could have tried to further assist our son with his health. What a feeling it has to be with so many people in one place, with the same passion to heal our children.

This fall my son and I will be on our way to college. He graduated high school this year, all the while he was in special education – he was even awarded the Superintendents medal of achievement. The astronaut in him is still there, he flies high in his mind to places we can only imagine. Looking back we know his success is this: he truly lives with passion, perusing an art certificate, to ultimately create his own mark on this world.

~ Wendy Frye

“Each second we live is a new and unique moment of the universe, a moment that will never be again. And what do we teach our children? We teach them that two and two make four and that Paris is the capital of France. When will we also teach them what they are? We should say to each of them: Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique. In all the years that have passed, there has never been another child like you. Your legs, your arms, your clever fingers, the way you move. You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven. You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel. And when you grow up, can you then harm another who is, like you, a marvel? You must work; we must all work, to make the world worthy of its children.” ~ Pablo Picasso 1881 – 1973

Emergence

It was a serendipitous occasion, our son’s graduation day. Unlikely as it was early on in his student career, he qualified to graduate with his intended class of 2012. We had been hoping since pre-school that this day would come. Our oldest son, a bona-fide adult of 18 years of age, graduating and walking with his class – who 14 years prior was given the bleak diagnosis of Autism that dimmed his future to practically black.

The weather was atrocious – heavy black clouds and rain was forecast and being delivered. It was POURING outside. Donning his umbrella, the cap, gown and ceremonial medal – he and the rest of our family piled in the car to drive downtown to the arena. Anyone would be nervous, our son deserved to be too. Every peep, comment, music selection and conversation was monitored. We were to sit down, stay seated, be quiet, turn off the music and basically hold our breath all the way into town.

Today, we complied – it was a big day for the big guy. “We are late!”, “My gown will get wet!”, “What a shitty day!”, “The traffic is jammed!”, “We are still late!”, “Turn off that music!”, “Oh, it’s still raining, what a super SHITTY day!”, “There is no place to park!” And on and on and on it went……………….

Already, by 10:00 a.m., we were exhausted. Silently worrying that he would not be able to cope with the 7,000 people in the audience watching him and his class of 460+ graduates proceed during the ceremony that day. It could take only one air-horn blast and we were certain he would bolt – and so far that morning he couldn’t even cope with his family riding together in the car.

We found birds eye seats looking down on the procession of classmates entering the stage area to shake, pose and accept their diploma covers from the school district administration. “How did he do backstage?” I ask my husband. “Great! He’s nervous, but was following directions.” (Breathe in, breathe out, face forward, it will be fine…).

The day before, the Superintendent’s assistant phoned and asked if there was anything they could do to assist him in the processional. “Just don’t offer a hand to shake; it should save everyone an awkward moment.” Much appreciated advice. And that was all we could offer….no guarantees, just simple advice on how to handle this young man. Advice about how to handle the young man on the Autism Spectrum, who was graduating with the honor of his family and the others who know and love him the most in this world.

We saw our first born turn the curve and enter the staging area. With precision timing, the neighboring family in the stands applauded their son with a lone air horn. “Oh, beautiful, just bloody BEAUTIFUL!” My son turned to look up and locate the origin of the sound, saw us, smiled and moved his next notch forward. Well, okay. That was close. We are still in the game here. “James Frye” the orator announced. Go time! No worries, he simply walked over, took hold of his diploma, offered his hand back to the administrator and accepted his due. Walking down the stairway to his chair, he turned to us in the crowd and gave us a peace sign. While waiting, when he noticed us looking over to him in the chairs, we were awarded more peace signs and air jabs.

We sat through the procession, breathing a little easier, knowing what was coming – we had been warned. The Superintendent announced our son’s name again. This time he was called before the audience to have bestowed upon him the Superintendent’s Award of Achievement for overcoming obstacles and challenges during his school career. The crowd erupted in wild applause complete with foot stomping – what a moment! Making his way back to the stage, removing his cap, he welcomed his gold medal of achievement. No hand shake this time, but turning back to the crowd, victory arms in the air – WOW! What a moment in our life we lived that day. One wholly MAGICAL moment that will carry us into the future – a future anticipating more of the same victories along the way.

The day ended unlike any other we’ve had either….it just got better and better. The rain cleared. Our car wasn’t missing from the tow away zone I parked in. We were welcomed by our favorite table at the family’s favorite pizza joint across from the campus where graduation was held. Grandma and Grandpa found us and were able to join and all together we raised a glass to toast the day. After, we went to the local music store to pick up our graduates gift – a Moog type analog synthesizer. It was in stock – and the store assistant was able to sweeten the deal with extra plug-ins. Lastly, we dropped over to a used record venue, hoping to find some Moog music – and there was an album, sitting on the front rack. “Hello Serendipity, welcome to our life, we’ve been waiting for you!”

~ Wendy Frye

“In reality, serendipity accounts for one percent of the blessings we receive in life, work and love. The other 99 percent is due to our efforts.” Peter McWilliams

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Who me?

Autism Moms are renowned (and loathed) in their studies and implementation of biomedical interventions along with myriad of nontraditional therapies to help their child recover a measure of health for developmental purposes. Children and adults diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum have been known to present digestive issues, distress and even dysfunction – that includes multiple allergies, sensitivities to foods and an assortment of other immune system issues.

I too am one of “Those Autism Moms” – spending hours and hours over the years studying the immune system, digestive processes, brain injuries, supplements, hormones, and the like to collect “keys” on my ring that I’ve been gathering to hopefully open peep holes and portals of insight to improve health of my son.

KREBS Cycle? Memorized – test me. Multiple Phenolic sulfatase deficiencies in neurological studies? Own it. Secretin? Bought the last vial. Mitochondrial diseases? All over it. My medical dictionary? Worn out and in need of a replacement. Neutrogenomics protocol? Doing it. How to recover someone from a brain injury? Certified. How smart am I you ask? Well it really depends how you look at it. Let me explain,…….

I rolled out of bed this morning late, exhausted, chubby, puffy, overweight – having eaten processed “Frankenfood” last night (complete with gluten, nitrates and yeast), drank Aspartame laden diet soda and a sulfite laden glass of Chardonnay the night before – what exactly does this make me?

Hmmmm……which one will I apply appropriately today? Hypocrite? Martyr? Both simultaneously?

Hypocrite:

  • : a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings

Martyr:

  • :a person who sacrifices something of great value and especially life itself for the sake of principle

My general practitioner is a really nice, young Chinese gal who too is a mother. She works part-time (which I appreciate) to spend extra time with her young children. This can’t be so bad, going to a western educated and trained physician. I am a little extreme in views of conventional medicine, but really, how much will this hurt to have someone to call when I need an antibiotic or massage referral?

I really didn’t know what to think during my first appointment, it’s been years since I’ve seen a doctor to call my own. Upon meeting, we must have both been a little uptight. However, for her it had to be a little overwhelming – all of 28 years old, 5 feet tall and taking the helm in front of a 40 something, battle scared (and ready), 6 foot blonde self-professed Autism Mom.

How comical, the two of us in that little room. Me wearing a paper gown – and the tiny professional balancing her laptop while firing questions at me sideways all in an attempt to get to know me during our 4 minute appointment.

Her best quality had to have been the blue toe-nail polish…..yep; she paints her toes blue making her just a little more real to me. I was ready, committed to cleaning up a couple of bad habits (ex-smoker here) and accept her help when necessary to get and keep healthy. It went pretty well. Good to go for another year, ready to tackle a couple of things in the name of good health.

A year later, during my annual physical, we met again. I’m the one in the paper gown, she again at her laptop table firing off “doctorish” questions of a general nature. “Are you still cigarette free?” She asks. “Yes, yes I am!” I reply. “I am also happy to tell you I managed to wean myself off that anti-depressant I was taking for the last 10 years. I really don’t need it anymore.” Her look from across the room was one of utter shock. I explained that I looked into the process, took the steps necessary, and was gentle with myself for a couple of weeks….BOOM! No more drugs for me! Aren’t you pleased Dr. Blue Toes?

Nope, she was not pleased, not at all. Up went her eyebrow, “Mrs. Frye. When was your last Tetanus shot?” “Last year.” (Bald faced lie – I will never take another vaccination.) “You know, you’ve gained 29 pounds since last year, studies show that ex-smokers gain up to 10% of their body weight upon quitting.” “Have you considered Weight Watchers yet?” (WTF? Did she just call me fat and then smile at me?) I smiled wryly back at her.

She continues…..”Are you still taking a multiple vitamin?” “Yes, we believe in supplements for maintaining good health in our home.” I explained. “Well, I can tell you that a multiple vitamin does no good and you don’t need to take it.” “Oh, REALLY? Where did you read that?” I asked. “Oh, I don’t know some medical paper somewhere.” (Seriously, does she think anyone is that stupid to believe this statement?)

Our appointment was almost up – one blood test, and a mammogram appointment later, I left with my annual massage therapy prescription, the only redeeming quality of the whole appointment. How flabbergasted could I be that day…..UNBELIVEABLE! Yes, I am fat – I get that – but REALLY…..yes, really…..I really am fat, unhealthy and out of shape. She was right, spot on correct. “Blue toes” called me out, insulting me just enough to motivate me to action.

It just takes one annoying person to push the right button that rings the bell of determination. I have come crashing out of denial. It’s time. It is time to walk the talk, own the processes I preach restoring ME to well, fine and good. With everything I know I should be a triathlete – brandishing exceptional health with the biological age of 18. I must thank my doctor someday. Maybe I will wait until next year’s annual physical. I will wear blue toe nail polish and we will chat about the weather, finish a routine exam and become her most boring patient ever! ~ Wendy Frye

“Natural forces within us are the true healers of disease.” ~ Hippocrates

Whistle Stop

There is a considerable amount of free-flowing information on the internet, in the papers and on the television regarding the spike in the rate of diagnosed cases of Autism.

An Autism diagnosis does change the entire landscape of the family.  From my own personal experience, receiving the diagnoses for our eldest son approximately 15 years ago was nothing less than getting hit by a freight train.  The freight train that hits you is travelling full speed, at night, in the dark and in total silence.  We never saw it coming.  Most parents, grandparents and caregivers in our generation never saw it coming.  In our “day”, it was 1 in 10,000…..now; sadly 1 in 88 is the official number.  Again, I reiterate, it has only been 15 years since our son’s diagnosis.

While the debate churns and turns even nastier regarding the cause of Autism, we do know deep in our heart what happened and how our son became so ill.  We instinctively did what we felt we needed to do for our son to get him back to “well”.  We will always be skeptical of all statements, studies, suppositions or rehash on the subject.  However, regardless of how I feel and what I know, I am standing HERE, on this blog in neutrality – and choose to only educate those who read this simple blog, on my simple page about my complicated life with the same wry twist that has saved our sinking souls.

You see, we honor our sons, both the “astronaut” and his “heroic brother”.  While we never saw the train coming, we did ultimately jump off the tracks in the attempt keep our sanity.  It was necessary, but it was not easy, and the scars are still red welts, bleeding and miserable.  We ultimately went off the grid, did the fringe therapies that were emerging science at the time, and have never second guessed ourselves then or now.

It really is surreal, sensing your son was mugged and robbed of his childhood on so many levels left sick, scared and seemingly left behind to ultimately be sent to a group home or institution when he turns 18. 

Well, he’s 18 now.  He’s healthier and stronger BECAUSE he’s had to prove himself every day since he was diagnosed.  He now walks tall, he didn’t die, and he has transformed his life and ours – paving the way to excellence in his own way.

That little boy didn’t have much of an early childhood beyond therapies, medicines, treatments, procedures, surgeries and the like.  But now, right now and into his future lays a bright and beautiful landscape.  In our thoughts, those years should have been full of the wonders and delights kids experience when they are young and learning about the world.  We feel the same type of years that were stripped from our son is now in front of us. So, we GET to flip forward and continue to parent our son after his majority year, does it really matter that much if we do? No, it doesn’t matter because he is now much healthier, engaged and driven to succeed.  He is actually enjoying the idea of continuing his education in the subjects of his choosing….and thankfully; he’s letting us come along for the ride.

As the debates escalate, parties divide and research is conducted regarding the Autism debacle, feel free to visit here at Juggling the Astronaut.  I will strive to offer up some humorous, side-ways stories, thoughts and ponderings.  Even though I will never underestimate the healing ability of humor –  I can’t promise to always be funny here every time, all the time……all I can do is try.  ~ Wendy Frye

“All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.”  ~ Havelock Ellis

Pokey

Flexibility in any family is critical to the cohesiveness of everyday life. Beyond the usual daily routine such as meals, chores and activities, families will carve out time for special events – and thus begins their own brand of special traditions. Traditions are made and continued by the very rituals and rites orchestrated by the family leaders. Participation is sometimes voluntarily and sometimes not, depending on the family, the depth of passion and the heart of the group.

We didn’t exactly loose our momentum in regards to family traditions. However, after our son was diagnosed on the autism spectrum – we just instinctively developed our own unique group of “rules”, “regulations” and “procedures”. The “rules” form the foundation of structure that defines how our life as a family of 4 plays this game of life.

Take Santa Claus for instance. He’s pretty much innocent of any wrong-doing with most of the “believers” who visit him annually for a picture. You know them, the mass of humanity who descends upon local mall, to pose for one ridiculously expensive Polaroid shot with the big guy in the red suit. But when we attempted a visit and picture for ourselves – modestly taking our son to the local shopping center in the ruthless pursuit of a tradition? Absolute chaos….our first son’s pictures depict one little boy, terrified witless, and one VERY sorry SOB who had the bad fortune of showing up for work that day.

So it begins, the rule making – the official family charter for survival:

Holiday Rule #1:

THERE WILL BE NO FURTHER INTERACTION WITH THE MAN AT THE MALL PRETENDING TO BE SANTA. (EVER!)

Well, what about Halloween you ask? Oh goodness, those first costumes were soooooo cute! Lovingly sewn by hand, Grandma made them with all the love she could pour into the project. She included all the details; logos, fringes and patterns and whipped up the most darling pig and cow outfits for the boys. Harmless little farm critters they were – complete with tails, horns and enamel buttons. What fun it will be to take them “trick or treating”! The reality – those cute little get ups didn’t make it past the front door.

Holiday Rule #2:

DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR ON HALLOWEEN WITHIN THE VISUAL PATHWAY OF THE OLDEST SON TO ANYONE WEARING A MASK, BLACK OR A COMBINATION OF BOTH. (Someone will go down.)

Besides Holiday rules, there are the everyday parameters we must abide by, for our autistic son to be part of the crowd and allows us to move as a group:

• IT CAN TAKE ONLY 10 MINUTES OF BEING OUTSIDE FOR A SWARM OF KILLER BEES TO ATTACK ANYONE, ANYWHERE. (Don’t dally getting out of the car and into the store.)

• IF YOU STORE VODKA IN THE FREEZER YOU ARE AN ACHOLOIC. (Wine and beer are cool, but hard liquor crosses that imaginary line.)

• LILLY WILL POOP. (Don’t feed the dog any snacks after 8:00 am or the little white dog will have an accident and that is unacceptable.)

• HE WILL MISS THE BUS. (The universal pardon for the eldest that accommodates his desire not to lift it off his chair in the morning for any other reason besides leaving the house.)

• CONSERVE THE ICE. (While it is okay for our oldest to enjoy new ice with every drink over the weekend, we are limited to one or two cubes at a time, until they melt. We must be courteous and not exhaust the ice supply on high demand days.)

• NEVER WALK NEXT TO THE RAILING ON THE SECOND FLOOR OR TAKE THE UP ESCALATOR AT THE MALL. (This one is mine, high anxiety set in when the boys were little, and I’m STILL sure someone will take a dive from that un-survivable height.)

• SESAME SEEDS ARE THE DEVIL. (Supposedly an allergy, but actually a sensory issue of our autistic sons – when translated bans all hamburger buns, and the restaurants that serve them, straight to hell.)

Sometimes, looking back, I realize JUST how out of balance my personal flexibility meter truly runs. Take these family rules and regulations, they save our sanity on a daily basis. Seriously, if you just KNEW that breaking one of these little gems would result in a subsequent “incidence” of biblical proportions – would YOU piss around, unnecessarily, instead of just getting out of the car and getting into the store? Really, there is the absolute threat of a killer bee flyby, it is June you know! So you just do it. You get out of the vehicle and walk with purpose to the door. You open the door; step inside the building and sigh with abject relief you survived the journey.

These rules ensure our families survival, out there, in the jungle of life. And with Autism involved, it’s the survival of the fittest. So be like Gumby; flex, stretch, leverage the help of good friends, use your words and most importantly, watch out for the Blockheads……they too are the devil. ~ Wendy Frye

“A whole stack of memories never equal one little hope.” ~ Charles Schultz