Slip

Having a young child with special needs tends to slow a family down. It takes time and bravery to pick and choose appropriate activities that can actually be accomplished, as well as enjoyable. Between therapies, school, doctor appointments, processes and procedures – there just comes a time when it is almost critical to recreate as a family.

Recreational activities, you know – the real ones most families enjoy at their leisure, usually after breakfast lasting ’til before dinner. Likely culprits include sledding, skiing, biking, or simply taking a walk. For families like mine, recreation used to fall under “Too Complicated To Conceive”, especially when our eldest, the one diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum, was very young.

Our family sled has seen only 5 minutes of use. The Cross Country skis? Mothballed under the porch. Camping equipment, utilized for less than 24 hours. Multiple bikes have been sold at garage sales, never knowing the pavement after Christmas morning. The horse, tack and saddle were sold after an anaphylaxis reaction at the barn. Considering our track record, it is justifiably deflating.

Well, when our disability services caseworker suggested joining the local, new and nearby YMCA, let’s just say I tried not to laugh out loud for very long. It was a sincere appeal, passes provided with the hope of a little family fun. Okay, I surrendered, again.

For this, in the middle of winter, we tried to prepare. Anticipating every item necessary, for we were going to be swimming inside when it’s 20 below outside. Lugging in a preposterous amount of gear, we waddled ourselves to the pool area. THANKFULLY, a family dressing room provided an adequate battle ground to prepare for poolside war.

WOW! Not just one pool, but two, complete with a spiral SLIDE! Maybe this won’t be too bad. I thought about getting comfortable ( actually – as comfortable as possible in a bathing suit, out in public, wearing the palest version of pale!). Husband took one child, I took the other and we split up. We figured we needed even odds if we were going to kill, blind or maim one or both of the children. I know, I know ~ but you’d be pessimistic too!

Hauling my eldest son to the top of the ladder, the plan was to jump in and go big. To the top! The top of the spiral water slide! My son on the spectrum was, well, suffice to say he was a little bit apprehensive. Me, I have a “dare-the-devil” gene in me, somewhere. Taking him down, like a wrestler, to sit on my lap was my only choice. There was no turning back to try going back down the stairs like a wussy.

Masking his terrorized screams with my screaming laughter at the sheer delight of going SOOOOO fast – we made it to the bottom! Awesome, we did it! I pulled him out of the water and was greeted with a big, watery smile! My son, he too loved it! “Let’s do it again!” we would say in unison!

After two many more trips down, even taking my youngest with us once (Dad at the bottom of the slide for potential damage control) we seemingly (and suddenly) hit our limit. While having more fun than is legal, we may have pushed the eldest a little too long. Exiting the pool, turning to the left, he lost his dinner in the lap pool.

There was no disguising it, he had done the unthinkable. “Will everyone please exit the lap pool immediately for maintenance.” was heard THREE TIMES over the intercom. The signs were placed by the walkway stating the two hour closure to shock the pool. Sullenly, we made our way back to the dressing room and ultimately home.

Poor kid, he was young, overwhelmed, over-stimulated, and unable to control his reaction. Worst parents in the world over here. Considering the trauma, we thought for sure it was going to be another wasted investment for an activity we couldn’t manage. But we were wrong. Excitedly, and not too late after, came the request to return to the pool. Well then, knowing our limits now, calculating the amount of time for proper digestion prior to arrival, we headed back to the scene of the crime. And executed several more trips down the slide, laughing like hyenas and cackling like fools. We, as a family of four, finally found recreation.

“Let’s GO!” ~ Wendy Frye

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Thrice

Why choose to go on and on and on when three little words will do?

Such as:

* I Thank You
* I Trust You
* I Believe You
* I Understand You
* I Forgive You
* Please Forgive Me
* I Am Sorry
* You Are Right
* I Am Wrong
* Let Me Help
* Count On Me
* Go For It
* Good For You
* You Did It
* Proud of You
* I Love You
* Pray For Me
* God Bless You

Consider the power in each statement, visualize the bridge that will be built, the rift repaired, or a sentimental moment that will be an all life memory in the making. All in just three little words. Come on, just give it a whirl!

“All My Best!” ~ Wendy Frye

Mincemeat – reposted!

We have a rule in our house: We are the nicest to each other because we should be.

From time to time I reach down, pull out my worn out soap-box, step up and preach to my children about the people out “there” in the world we live in. The people you meet who would willingly punch you in the throat to get ahead. “Let those persons have at it” I tell them, in the end you won’t want to know them anyway. While choosing how you interact with other people, remember to always consider your own family first. We will always be stuck with each other, get used to it, so be nice. I then require them to re-commit to the “team”. The family “team” who WILL ACT CIVILLY, TREAT EACH OTHER WITH RESPECT, AND REMEMBER TO USE THEIR MANNERS WITH EACH OTHER! “What?!!” “Why are we having this same conversation again……MOM!” My teen-aged boys cry out in unison. “Well, let me go down my current list of reasons why in sequential order.”

– Telling your autistic (but not even close to helpless) brother that the magenta colored golf shirt he picked out for our vacation to San Francisco will make him look “gay”, is unacceptable. Gay people wear purple and straight people wear purple. Don’t be judgey of anyone.

– Snapping at each other (semi-forcefully) while folding laundry over which channel to watch on the television is complete lunacy. On that perfect day the window was open and the neighbors heard you bickering like holler monkeys. Not cool.

– Punishing your parents for wanting to take you to lunch after shopping as a family JUST because you couldn’t agree on a restaurant after 25 minutes is unacceptable. It’s called deferring to each other from time to time, gentleman. Go look it up.

– Launching air squadrons when either of you enter the kitchen just to protect your soda, ice cream or (insert here) from the other one this summer will not continue. And the Nerf gun your Dad brought home? I buried it in my garden.

– Remember, the dogs are family too. If you let them out, you wait for them to come back in. Standing on the deck, again bellowing like a holler monkey, wearing only boxer shorts and a t-shirt is not okay. You are hurting their feelings yelling at them in that tone – and use patience!
Sometimes they need a little privacy too.

Lastly, in general, the snapper-fish answers to anyone who asks a question will end. Automatically responding “no” is lame. Please try harder in the future to craft your answers and use your words, please. As punishment, each takes a turn going all day without referring to themselves in first person. Think about that, all day without starting a sentence with the word “I”. The mental fatigue will be epic. But you will be fine. “Are we good now?”. “YES MOTHER!”

I retired my soapbox for now – a little wary……..knowing full well that the potential to be submarined by my two children and just as insolent husband is lurking around any corner. Seriously, is turnabout always fair play? Maybe, maybe not.

Oh man, I am doomed. ~ Wendy Frye

“Counsel woven into the fabric of real life is wisdom.” Walter Benjamin

Wiz

One absolutely spectacular benefit working within the banking industry is a certain pretend holiday, Columbus Day. Oh yeah, falling on a Monday in October while the kids are back in school, husbands at work….Columbus Day HAS to be the best, employer paid holiday EVER known in the United Sates of America.

A couple of years ago, while employed with a local credit union, another Columbus Day came along. The time was ripe. My son on the Spectrum had shown me twice the venue he wanted to visit. His younger brother, an absolute super-hero, was good with the idea. So, we sprang it on him. Booked an overnight flight to Vegas (Baby!) to visit the unknown-to-most Pinball Hall of Fame!

You know the song, Pinball Wizard. Well, the guy with late onset autism, he relates. The self proclaimed “gamer” regressed, technologically speaking, into loving pinball. So hey, just try finding an operating machine thats not in a dive bar or other establishment that discourages a 16 year old young man from living his passion. Not easy, any day of the week. But try we did. So with his research and discovery of the “Hall” lie the path that will lead us to pinball Nirvana.

Om. (Clang Clang!)

Within fifteen minutes of our arrival to Vegas, we were surrounded by two hundred plus pinball machines. All workable and playable, spanning from the oldest to the latest, WOW! Can you say sensory overload? “MOM!” “I need a quarter!” was the last I heard from him for the eight hour shift.

It really was my idea of idyllic, a wonderful way to spend a weekend with my son. Besides the “Hall” we went to the art showing at the Bellagio, ate crappy pizza, had dinner for breakfast and pillaged the arcade at our hotel resort.

Returning home exhausted at 2:00 in the morning, I drug it to work the next day and managed to play off that I hadn’t slept in 24 hours. Arriving home, ready to collapse, my eldest son yells for my attention from the basement. He’d found it, a new Nirvana – the Coin Operated Museum in San Francisco!

“When can we go!” ~ James Frye

“If some people didn’t tell you, you’d never know they’d been away on a vacation.” ~ Kin Hubbard

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Stereotyped

Per Wikipedia: “Stimming” – A repetitive body movement, such as hand flapping. The term is shorthand for self-stimulation. Repetitive movement, or stereotypy, is often referred to as stimming under the hypothesis that it has a function related to sensory input.

Just simply try to imagine an even more uninformed and ignorant world. A world wherein society is made up of all walks of peoples who are even less accustomed to an ever-emerging population. The population of individuals on the Autism Spectrum.

Our son was only one in ten thousand. In a city of only 200,000 it was a rare day to see another family out and about with their child on the Spectrum.

Our beautiful son, diagnosed so many years ago, yes, he too “stims’. When he was a toddler, he usually did visual stimulation. Looking at light/dark contrasts over and over to beef up his visual pathway. Later, he would hop, skip and yodel. And yes, it is very distracting for the unaccustomed.

Newer to Facebook, I can boost a new family who too are impacted by Autism. I have other moms, dads, groups, interested parties, and adult friends with Autism. These people are priceless when it comes to understanding this new world, populated by one in eighty eight persons on the Spectrum.

One particular friend rallied around a sincerely provocative idea. Parents and therapists utilizing ABA (applied behavior analysis) therapies and behavior interventions should conduct those sessions in public, say Target or Costco. Consider it an Autism field trip. Let societies ears ring with the deafening screaming and witness the erratic behaviors Autism Families share behind their front doors.

Personally speaking, we get out as often as possible. Quick trips here and there. Classes, adventures, and the like – usually its me and my son alone. He’s typically on point, not exactly engaging, but aware of his surroundings. Not exactly polite, but not as rude as he can be. It’s been very fulfilling for me to spend quality, caring time with him. The people we meet along the way, pretty understanding – maybe with more people affected the mainstream is getting it. Oops, I need to slow down here. There was one day not long ago…..a real game changer for our family.

I simply took my then 18 year old adult son on the Spectrum to Walmart (I know, never again) and left him to test video games while I picked up a few groceries. Massive visual stimulation! Sensing the expiration of time out he will tolerate, I backtracked to the video department. Oh, there he is, I thought – he’s walking my way. Good mom senses here! Wait a minute. Whoa. Why are there 6 employees, keeping their distance, following my son like the Presidents secret agents? I was instantly made aware why – he was stimmin while skipping/walking/yodeling over his path back to me. I had to laugh. No more are we embarrassed. Why? He’s doing what he naturally does – just being himself.

Just be you, James Frye, just be you…. ~ Mom

” You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will live as one.” ~ John Lennon

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Fertile

I conceptualize the new year cycle that starts today. Today, I condition the seeds for planting in my garden. The very miracle of life from the God given spark within the tiny, miraculous encapsulation that simply assures succession of its species. A preconceived cycle of life, nourishing my family, making my time spent a higher quality – as only hard work will do.

The calendar mocks January. Snow on the ground. Cold wind in the air. In the Pacific Northwest of the United States the seasons are as vibrant as any seasonal calendar picture for purchase in December. But oh man, my palms itch to move enriched soil around my garden patch, to smell the fragrance of spring, and anticipate the fruits from the earth.

My kitchen table is being taken over by little seed pots, secured with plastic covers. The smell of the outdoors is a lovely fragrance permeating our home. Each little sprout promises loving, complete nutrition spiced by sustainable hope that only the first season of the year can whisper.

Delicious anticipation strengthens the project. The time it takes from seed to plant to harvest to preservation extends the pleasure. The wonderment knowing the most high lends a hand to this miraculous process. Delightfully complete fulfillment – all in a garden.

“My garden is my church.” ~ Wendy Frye

“I think this is what hooks one to gardening: it is the closest one can come to being present at creation.” ~ Phyllis Theroux

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Leverage

Three little words in our home are equal in power to any weapon of mass destruction. The biggest and oldest of our two Bichon Frise, Annie-Annie, not only understands what we say, she buys into the power of persuasion when it comes to her Daddy.

Weekend mornings, she lays in wait, listening for any of the three, harmless little words. “Go.” “Walk.” or “Leash”.

Sometimes, when the Bichons are outside, my husband will whip open the slider and simply raise the leash like a flag – a beacon of hope that Annie has not been forgotten. Other times, the two will have a elongated stare down. The subliminal hope in a thought that she will get to strut and brag with her beloved daddy down the street.

Then, those mornings, when the moment seems right. I whisper a key word under my breath. Ever vigilant, she typically looks at us in disbelief. Of course, I cannot say with all certainty that my husband is ready for a little jaunt, however, there is no turning back the clock to the moment before the “mistaken” utterance. “Oops! Sorry Hon.” I mock wearing a devilish, sideways smile.

“Well then, I better get my shoes, and you better get your leash.” ~ Dan Frye

“Peeves do not make very good pets.” ~ Bo Bennett

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Color

Today, nineteen years ago, our eldest son entered this world. Little did we realize how spectacularly unprepared we were for the task. But somehow along the way, we found our game and started to play.

He was a whopping 10 pounds 4 ounces, two weeks overdue and five years in the making. The greenest eyes to see the world on a spectrum where some colors are a little different shade, but just as beautiful. Even before his diagnosis of autism, we sensed he was going to be a huge change in our world, but really – we had no idea how much.

So James, Happy Birthday! Your family loves you soooooo much. May today bring you peace and continued hope for the brightest future imaginable.

Love,
Mom, Dad, Jon, Annie & Little Lilly Lou Lou too…….

“Every year on your birthday, you get a chance to start new.” ~ Sammy Hagar

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Passed

To look forward to the opportunities to be chronicled starting with the initiation of a new year, it seems sensible to look back – first. I had forgotten and needed to re-learn how to measure success a long, long time ago. While recovering a child on the autism spectrum, the days, weeks, months, and years all fly by. Terrified we would miss the “finish date”, that notion where critical brain development is truncated by age – which signaled the end of the road. Even with a son who is now an adult on the spectrum, there is still that little “bit-o-panic” that nips at the heinie….a silent clock that ticks only in the back of the mind.

Tick.

Tock.

But wait!

Stop!

Stand still. Reminisce, go back through pictures (painful or not), now review/backtrack the calendar. Where were we then? Where were we while trying to figure it all out in the haze of life jacked up in physician appointments, therapies, special education, familial scorn, awkward glances, outright ridicule, asshole “friends”, working too much for shallow souled people and places, plus the other assorted diatribe that really didn’t matter. It sure piled up.

Now breathe.

Quantify the big and little changes from the last year (and prior years). Sweep off to uncover the foundation that has already been built to work from. Give credit, recognize true supports, cut superficiality and relationships that compete for any energy that’s less than positive. Stop trying to payoff neglect or abuse – their is no tender available. Quit competing, this is not a race. This is a life.

Now move!

Expand your sense of excitement. Consider the endless possibilities. Practice flexibility. Embrace a true career calling. Release your abilities. To relish the freedom…..

All in a New Year! ~ Wendy Frye

“To achieve, you need thought. You have to know what you are doing and that’s real power.” ~ Ayn Rand