Was It Something I Said or Did? 18

AloeThis normally positive mom is feeling a little prickly today like the outside of this aloe plant.  There are several reasons for this.  The first is I made the mistake of watching Dr. Oz’s show on autism.  I know better than to watch some shows just like I know better than to participate in some discussions. 

I am not on the autism spectrum by any diagnostic criteria or by any of the quizzes for autism or Asperger’s, but I have my own quirks.  My husband and I often discuss the fact that both of us are quirky so we shouldn’t be surprised that our children are although only our daughter is on the spectrum.  Still it may come as a surprise for those parents that are on the spectrum that those of us who aren’t still question ourselves constantly. 

Dr. Oz’s show brought up once again that the advanced age of parents increases the risk of autism.  This is not a big surprise although when I was pregnant I did not worry as much about my age.  Both my mother and my maternal grandmother had children when they were over forty without problems.  I am one of those children so I just assumed my children would be okay too. 

However, one of the doctors on Dr. Oz’s show said that the increased risk is thirty percent for children born to mother’s over thirty-five and the increased risk is twenty percent for older fathers.  My husband and I were both over thirty-five when both of our children were born.  Then another researcher said that children born to parents living within a quarter of a mile of a freeway also have an increased risk of autism and yes, my house is within that distance to the freeway.  The eternal question; did I cause my child’s autism?

I really do not want to buy into the woo as my fellow blogger, Kim, who writes the blog Countering calls it.  I cannot go back regardless and really I do not want to go back.  The reality is overall both of my children are doing well.  Plus, my son was born three years after my daughter so the age thing really does not fit.  

This brings up the other issue that breaks my heart.  Recently, I finished fellow blogger, Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg’s book, The Uncharted Path: My Journey With Late-Diagnosed Autism.  I recommend those who have not read it do; however, this is not a review. 

Her story caused me to look back on all the mistakes we made before we had the correct diagnosis.  Our daughter still has not completely forgiven her dad although I know in my heart our story is different from Rachel’s.  I just want them to have the type of relationship my dad and I had.  Thus, the second reason for the woo! 

Also, I cannot help but notice some of you have not commented on my blogs in ages.  Have I done something or said something wrong?  Reading “Are You Well-versed in Comment Etiquette” by Word Press brought up this question.  See again the doubts so common with my Aspie friends.  I know from reading your blogs that you all have your problems too, and I am hoping that is the only reason. 

I know I am very fortunate compared to so many others in the world. I am grateful for my husband and both of my children.  I just need to learn to turn the television off when they talk about causes of autism and the importance of early intervention another reason for my woo.

News Media Reports Parents Blame Asperger 4

In the news today, is the story of a twenty-one year old male from Armstrong County,  Pennsylvania who the media reports had a radical Islamist online persona and videos suggesting paramilitary training for terrorist activities. During his arrest last week he is alleged to have bitten two FBI agents and reached for a concealed weapon. The reason I am posting this is the media also reports that his parents are saying he has Asperger’s and offering this as a defense. It is unclear if this is just a defense for the biting or for everything.

Dec. 2010 086

We have a friend who is a weapons trainer for the military who let my son shoot this gun once, but my son normally only shoots air rifles. My son is not the one with the diagnosis, but I don’t know why anyone outside of the military would need the type of weapons involved in this case.

Below is the news article:

FBI finds another alleged home-grown jihadi in Pennsylvania « Hot Air.

Here we go again placing the blame on Asperger’s! I don’t know if anyone remembers, but when the Virginia Tech shooting happened the first response from his family came from an Aunt in Korea who said he had been diagnosed with autism as young boy. It upsets me that the news media jumps on this and runs with it, but they at least are somewhat reasonable in the article listed above. It is the comments that follow that are really the concern and especially the fact that everything gets so twisted the more the story is told.

I personally think whatever is going on with this young man, it is more than Asperger’s.  After the Virginia Tech shootings, we learned that he was a victim of horrific bullying in high school. Now I don’t know that even that caused him to become a shooter and I don’t know anything about the young man in today’s story other than what is in this article.

However, I do know that with understanding and support children can overcome bullying. I also know that Asperger’s does not make someone a terrorist or a shooter. What our children need is what every child needs an environment of tolerance, acceptance, understanding and support to manage challenges that sensory sensitivity and literal thinking can cause. They certainly do not need to be lumped into a group that implies they have no morals or ability to make their own rational decisions anymore than they need to be told that their Asperger’s is not relevant or it is just a made up diagnosis by over-reactive parents.

My child knows that Asperger’s is not a “get-out-of-jail-free” card and from reading other blogs, I know most parents of those on the spectrum agree with me. I want the media to stop blaming autism spectrum every time the diagnosis comes up in these cases. I want our society to change to a climate of helping those on the autism spectrum and anyone else who faces challenges. I want bullying to stop, even bullying by the news media.

Please try to find out exactly why this young man decided violence was the answer to his problems, but don’t blame his diagnosis of Asperger’s unless you have facts to support this. There are many people on the autism spectrum who have endured enough abuse in their lives without you feeding into it. Many have grown into amazing adults against all odds. Just look at Temple Grandin or better yet take the time to read some of the blogs listed under Special Peeps. There you will find some accomplished people who happen to also have a diagnosis that places them on the spectrum. You will also find parents who are working hard to raise responsible and caring children who have a diagnosis that places them on the spectrum.

And parents, if you have a troubled child with any diagnosis don’t blame the diagnosis. Get help for your child and be there to help them through whatever is causing them pain instead of blaming them. It is your job to turn them into the best adults they can be, so you don’t get a “get-out-of-jail-free” card either.



Value of Pets to Those on the Spectrum 6

Day 13 Gratitude Post:

It is time for my 2011 weekly Project Gratitude post.  Information about Project Gratitude can be found at:

Riding the Roller Coaster: Project Gratitude.

You all had such kind things to say after my posts with my pets pictures, and I truly am grateful for all the animals that have shared my life and for a dad who allowed me to have animals growing up.

First a disclaimer, today’s talk is strictly my opinion based on my experience with my pets and with random reading on the subject, but yes I do believe a pet can be a good thing for those on the spectrum or really for anyone.

The reason I believe a pet can be a good thing is because over my lifetime I have talked more to my animals than I talk to some people and believe me when I say I do talk.  Remember I grew up in a rural area, so while I did spend time at my friend’s house on weekends, if I got upset about something during the week I frequently  went for a walk in our pasture.  When I happened to see my horses on this walk I stopped to pet them and somehow even without words they seemed to understand that I was upset about something.  They were there for me with a nudge of their nose to tell me it was going to be okay.

Or, if I stayed in the house, my dogs would come up to me to make sure I was okay.  When I was in the yard, my cats were there.  Even our wandering Tom Cat seemed to understand.  My children have that relationship with our dogs as well.

That is why in a world where those on the autism spectrum can feel so misunderstood I think having a pet can be a wonderful thing.  I know there are many who believe in “horse therapy,” and if that is you I say great, but I know not everyone is comfortable with horses.  I guess what I am trying to say is, try to find a pet that your child is comfortable with if you do decide to get a pet.  Hopefully, you can also find one that fits your life style as obviously some pets need more attention than others.  I also know that pets aren’t for everyone, and if they aren’t for you and your family maybe you can find a substitute calming influence like music or whatever works for your child and your family.

Do you have pets or did you have them growing up?  What is your opinion on the value of pets for those on the spectrum?  I eagerly await your responses.



I’m Posting Every Week in 2011! 6

Life's Journey - Copy

I’ve decided I want to make a bigger commitment to my blog in 2011.  Rather than just thinking about doing it, I am joining the WordPress.com “Post a Day in 2011” challenge as motivation.  They included an option to post once a week, so this is what I am agreeing to do.  Autism spectrum, bully prevention, and the importance of tolerance and forgiveness will still be the main focus of this blog. Therefore, I plan to post at least twice a week on my core topics as well.

I’m promising to make use of The Daily Post, and the community of other bloggers to help me along the way, including asking for help when I need it and encouraging others when I can. Switching gears once a week might be fun, inspiring, awesome and wonderful.  It might also give my audience more insights about me.  I hope you’ll encourage me with comments and likes, and good will along the way.


D. S. Walker