No Soup!

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When I was Teghan’s age I was pretty obnoxious. I have the home movies to prove it. I used to make up songs while riding in the car. Actually…. I had just the one. It was called, “Going Down the Road, Yes We Are.” Every line had the same annoying melody, and I made up the words on the spot as I loudly sang a list of things we were passing- followed by “yes we are.”

“Seeing trees and houses, yes we are!” You get the idea.

I did a lot of things I no longer understand. For example, I spent a good percentage of my youngest years wearing a tutu. I liked to pretend I knew ballet, which I didn’t.  My friend Billy and I once spent an afternoon seeing how high we could count (it was pretty high). And I was constantly trying to prove I could hold my breath longer than anyone else.

I didn’t always make the best choices. I ate butter straight from the container. And sugar. I thought that if I used a stone to write on the side of our van that it would erase just like a chalkboard. I was wrong about that. I believed that with enough practice I could fly; there were summer days when I spent hours jumping off the porch.


On the playground I used to do daily impressions of Jimmy Swaggart, the TV evangelist. I was also part of a group called The Scream Team, in which a large number of girls went around the playground screaming as a group for no particular reason. There was a bit of competition between me and a girl named Kendal, because we screamed the loudest.  Continue reading

It’s a Clueless World, After All


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The first time I went to a real amusement park was kind of disappointing. I was five years old. I had been to the fair before, but I was aware from commercials (and word of mouth) that there were better options out there. I couldn’t wait to explore those options. The amusement park of choice where I grew up was Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. It was about three hours away, and during the summer months our TV seemed to pour out commercials for thrill rides such as The Gemini and The Blue Streak in a constant stream.

I needed to be on those rides.

Being so young (and short) I would have to settle with the Gemini Jr. I was unable to experience most of the rides I had heard about, and worse- I was forced to watch my two older siblings have the fun I was longing for.

A few years later I was finally allowed to enjoy the park as it was intended. There were many trips to Cedar Point in my younger years. By then I could say I survived The Demon Drop; a new ride in 1983, which even though no one was ever actually killed, all of us had heard otherwise. It’s the whole reason we rode it, I think. But Cedar Point is made for roller coaster lovers. We went to Cedar Point for our eighth grade class trip the year The Magnum debuted as the tallest, fastest roller coaster in the world. I remember bragging that I only had to wait an hour.

I haven’t been to Cedar Point in eighteen years.  When I think about going now, I think about the bad parts; the heat, crowds, long lines, and exhaustion. I think about that simulation I recently watched of their Shoot the Rapids ride malfunctioning. That’s not a thrill I want to pay for.

But now that Teghan is getting bigger, I cannot deny the fact that amusement park rides seem right up her alley. She craves more sensory stimulation, and she is a natural thrill-seeker. So, with this in mind we recently took her to the fair. It seemed like a good starting point.  Continue reading

Preparing for Battle in Everyday Situations

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Over the years, we have experienced a few landlords. Since our experience is in house rentals rather than apartment communities, I am not talking about your standard property management office personnel. No, we have dealt exclusively with individual homeowners. Lucky for us, we have known wonderful people, and our experiences have been (mostly) pleasant with a bit of strange occasionally thrown into the mix.

There was Paul, who always came over in nothing but short shorts and flip-flops and called our cat “pussy” so often it made us feel uncomfortable.

There was Matt, who sang in a popular local Irish band. He was actually our friend and neighbor. We rented from him when he wanted to move in with his girlfriend- and then he gave us thirty days to move out after they broke up.

There was sweet Rebeckah, the hoarder. We shared a duplex with her. We never would have known her secret if there hadn’t been that gas leak while she was out of town. Upon entering her kitchen, the men from the gas company were unable to locate her oven for several minutes. Think about that.

And then there was Ken; the young, responsible kid who bought a house to live in while going to college and now rents it out. He isn’t the best handyman, but he is so proud of the work he does himself you just can’t complain.

But the most memorable landlord for us was the Khatar family.

They seemed so nice. Joe and his wife were Lebanese. They had raised their four daughters in that home, and were extremely protective of it. They did not speak good English, so most of our conversations were with their daughter, Laurie. On my first visit, Mrs. Khatar held my hand while dragging me through the house to all the things she wanted me to know about. She showed me where each of her girls slept, where she had marked their heights on the wall, and how lovely her garden was.  Continue reading

I Don’t Make the Rules (Not the Real Ones, Anyway)


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This evening Teghan asked for coffee and a cookie no less than a thousand times. It was on a constant loop. There is no way to stop it. What does the word “no” mean in this house? Nothing. It’s kind of like all the things we put her on the naughty step over. Spilling drinks, ripping books, climbing on things that will break her neck….the naughty step also means nothing. It just calms and redirects her a bit. She will continue to do the same things again and again. Heck, she’ll put herself on the naughty step when she does them- you don’t even have to ask. It’s part of her routine.

If you are not an autism parent, you have no idea what any of this means. It just sounds like a kid who needs a better method of discipline. Well, come on over and try. She doesn’t understand most language, tone of voice, social cues, gestures, emotions….oh, and she LOVES when you yell. Don’t do that.

I am also guessing that she would love to be spanked. I once made the mistake of slapping her hand when she reached for something hot. It was followed by two weeks of her slapping her own hand and screaming “no!” while laughing hysterically. She kept trying to get me to do it again. Like a game.

All efforts of discipline are some kind of a social game to her. I struggle between frustration- and elation that she is engaging in any social interaction, no matter how bizarre.  Continue reading