Grown

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

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Pong

The location: Family Home Front

The players:

Son #1: Diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum at 3 1/2, didn’t speak until he was 8, has progressed nicely since and has graduated high school this past spring.

Son #2: Super hero of the family, considerate, funny, polite, and smarter than most humanoids I know who is home that day with a sore throat and little fever.

The Scene: Living room, complete with two new red couches (purchased on a whim by my husband while grocery shopping this past summer), with Son #2 home sick with laryngitis, Son #1 is essentially grounded – his plans to go to the art gallery “RUINED!”

Son #2 lays on smaller couch, freshly showered, helping himself to my iPad to watch another past episode of “Top Gear”.

Son #1 emerging from the basement researching artists on the web, studying their forms and styles to see what is happening.

Me, I’m in the kitchen (again!) doing another sink of dishes. Let me tell you, the “Early Retirement Gods” have some twisted sister humor. The day I “retired” the dishwasher went on the fritz and the lawn mower threw a rod. Picked up the lawn mower (Good Lawd, wouldn’t want the neighbors to think my husband a heathen by not mowing in a timely manner, would we?) leaving me now scanning the ads for a blockbuster sale on a dishwasher. So, anywhoo – in the meantime I tackle and tame the ever breeding army of plates and spoons the old fashioned way, by hand. (fake smile)

Son #2 has been answering my questions with the memo app on my iPad – saving his voice for someone else I guess. Son #1, who uses the app for his doodles and drawings, is a little ticked his brother has (again) hijacked his shit. “What’s WRONG with you!” He bellows at his brother. I explain, “he’s got laryngitis, be cool and cut him some slack.”

Stomp. Stomp, STOMP! Into the kitchen comes #1. I jerk my head away from my sudsy hell hole to see #1 grab my refrigerator black erase memo board. He whips open the pen, jots a note, holds it to his chest and proceeds to beat like Tarzan to get his brothers attention.

#2 doesn’t waiver, scribbles a hasty reply – #1 wipes and retorts…this goes on for a few rounds, my head watching the literacy ping pong match in front of my very own eyes.

Soon, #1 wipes the board for the last time and heads back downstairs. I look over at #2, still on the couch with my eye brow in full Spock mode. He shook his head with a wry grin and went back to his program. I grabbed a towel, wiped the suds off the floor and turned back to my drudgery.

I never asked after the context of the exchange, only marveled in the moment that we’ve come this far. Silent bickering. my eldest, the one who took so long to find his voice, facilitating communication with his temporarily silenced brother.

Life is good. Little things matter. And swearing at each other with facilitated communication devices in our home? Acceptable. ~ Wendy Frye

“Argue for your limitations, and sure enough they’re yours.” ~ Richard Bach

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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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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

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

Bus Stop

Everyone has the potential to slip into their routine, so soundly, that it takes some kind of jarring event to snap out of it. Going to the same restaurant every day for years, driving the same way to work, eating the exact brand of cereal, forever – sometimes you just got to change things up.

When you have a child on the Autism Spectrum, routine is your very best friend. Making charts, calendaring, and keeping the same routine is a must do. Planning an event? Break out the picture exchange cards, introduce the concept early, practice and finally, if all the planets line up, execute the “new” routine.

Going to the Dentist? Autism parents plan ahead, organize a few visits before hours, introduce the staff, point out the equipment, explain the process and repeat as often as necessary until everyone is on board for the final execution (appointment).

For all the years my son has been going to school, he has had door to door transportation on the special education bus. When we first relinquished control of his transport, it was admission to a new era. Our son was now at the age and ability that he could carry his own home key, let himself in after school, call me directly to let me know he was safe and stay alone for the few minutes it took his brother to arrive home too.

The first few weeks were critical to success, his and ours. We tried not to be “hovercraft” parents, and our son was doing a great job getting himself inside (using a key!) calling his mom letting me know he arrived safely (talking to me on the phone!) Day one, he nailed it. He was a self proclaimed independent young man now!

This routine was successful for many, many years. So, what do we do? Switch on to auto pilot. As our son grew, regaining his health to a better degree, he was taking on more and more responsibility for his own day. We all were getting very comfortable not taking all the precautions like in the early years. And grown he has, right to a strapping 6 ft. 4 inch, 240 pound handsome young man. In Autism Land, when things are going pretty smoothly it’s called a “honeymoon”.

Waiting for the bus, in his chair watching out the front window one random morning, was my son. Ever vigilant of the passing vehicles, he still carries anxiety that he may miss the bus, and so he waits. He has a clock in the living room to keep on the time, has his coat on, hands on the backpack, and waits for his ride.

The driver was early. So, he thought he would go around the block to kill a little time. Why not? what if our son wasn’t quite ready? That. Was. A. Bad. Plan.

“WAIT FOR ME!!!!!!!” Thundered my grown son ~ so startled in the other room, I almost wet my pants. He launched out that chair, threw open the front door, and tore down the street. His arms were held high, and was off. Oh, man – did he ever run. Full on panicked adrenal rush, he hauled it so fast, my mouth gaped open.

The driver must have seen him in the mirrors, or heard him screaming “WAIT FOR ME! WAIT FOR ME! WAIT FOR ME!”. The driver instantly realized how poor his choice was to circle the block. I stood in the driveway, robe, wet hair, and not just a little worried for the man’s life. The end of our honeymoon……

My son reached the bus, I saw the door open, I held my breath. “What were you THINKING driving by my house?”……”Have you lost your mind?” I saw him pause and step slowly on board and take the back seat.

The call from Transportation received later that morning was classic. The two men who run the bus were more than concerned about the incident, however, they were throughly chastised for their bad choice. It was a “man to man” chat. Sounds like my son railed them all the way to school. And this was a child who didn’t have the words to say what he meant for most of his lifetime.

That was the morning that we learned our son could speak up for himself. We, his parents, were speechless.

~ Wendy Frye

“Don’t confuse fame with success. Madonna is one; Helen Keller is the other.” ~ Erma Bombeck

“Autisms”

Therapy is a daily event in our household living with our oldest son who was diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum at an early age. We’ve learned to integrate strategies and processes that would mimic the same treatments he was receiving during his therapy sessions. Maximizing our costs for treatment.

Of course, we were his parents, who possess a certain deranged humor stemming from coping with daily battles that are unique to our family. Along the way, our son has developed his own brand of humor. He is simply hilarious, and he knows it. Welcome to “Autisms” – the things our kid has said to us and others – that describes the beautiful progress he has made on his own road to wellness.

“Picasso eats Sweaters” ~ in a sing song voice….
(This represents the battle of his two favorite abstract artists – with Picasso eating Jackson Pollocks trademark sweater, we can deduce the winner here.)

“I am NOT flexible! What do you think I am, a Slinky?”
(Relayed recently by his high school teacher who was warning a substitute teacher that our son really didn’t do well with subs and preferred to work on his own that day.)

“No More Rewinds!”
(Our plea to stop the maddening rewind feature of the oldest who had an insistent need to go over and over a single scene in a show we were watching.)

“Happy, Sad, or Mad?”
(Complete with facial gestures to determine where we were in any discussion.)

“Woody’s Hat”
(Anytime we are super frustrated we think of Woody’s Hat. In one 24 hour period we had to turn the house upside down 17 times to find our sons Toy Story Woody doll’s hat. Mind you, he was frantic which notched up the stress level CONSIDERABLY. I seriously hate that movie….

“Black or White?”
(Our sons differentiation between the grandparents. My mother has shock white hair, pale skin and an equally fair spouse. My husband’s Sicilian father always appears tan, year round. So, when explaining to the boys we are going to the grandparents, they always ask “Black or White?”)

And finally, and I quote “I am (son’s name) and I am an Artist!
(A young man getting ready to plant his flag on this world…..how cool is that?)

“A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not the desire to beat others.” Ayn Rand

~Wendy Frye

Suicide Run

You’ve heard stories about “Soccer Moms” who drive tribes of kids around on Saturday mornings, manic to get to assorted matches all over town, hyped up on latte’s, driving like they are racing in NASCAR but turning right and then left, haven’t you?

Years ago, the mini-van trumped the Monster SUV in form and function. Sliding doors, easy hatch access, front wheel drive, a perfect addition to any burgeoning family. Soccer was in it’s earlier phase, little kids on the field, everyone played, no scoring!, happy, healthy family fun.

We traded in our little SUV for our van. A 1994 Dodge Caravan. Blue, Sport edition. We had two kids now and needed the room. Besides, it was so much more convenient driving our eldest son, who is autistic, around to his doctor, speech, occupational and physical therapy appointments.

With such precious cargo on board, it was important to watch all ways when crossing the street, keep under the speed limit and take care to ensure everyone a safe trip.

As the kids grew, so did the amount of french fries and hamburger wrappers that hid under the seats, in the cup holders, and in the back of the hatch. A big purple stain resulting from a Costco smoothie incident covered the passenger seating area. And, when alone, without the kids, we didn’t drive with as competently as in the past. It seemed our van was going through a de-evolution when the paint peeled off after having it detailed. Our friend, Troy, was quick to point out that it WAS painted with a crayon – so why act surprised! (Love ya, Troy!)

The morning I arrived at work with a negligent driving ticket in my hand, having driven the van, I knew I needed to get it together and back to being citizen normal. You see, I had this 20 minute window to myself. 10:30 a.m., Saturday morning, all freeway, no kids, Pearl Jam at the top of the sound dial, latte, possibly a smoke – then came the sirens. Negligent driving? Who, me? The officer, he was certain it was me, I was clocked at 98 miles an hour, tailgating for a continual 2 mile stretch on the local freeway. I was speechless.

Autism Moms. We do it right. Driving like that kind of lunatic, not going home, but on the way to work, in a van, with no paint. A little, tiny bit of freedom! It was like riding a horse on the beach for others – seriously, a quiet stretch of road was calling my name.

It felt good to be a rebel for a few minutes. I was liberated. I broke the law. Thelma & Louise wrapped into one right here! Eat this Soccer Mom!

I went to court, plead guilty to being stupid, and gained the confidence to trade in the van and buy a car to behave in the manner I was arrested for! Go big or go home! ~ Wendy Frye