Sensual Saturday: Autism & Dating

Today is the end of April is Autism Awareness Month. So I thought I would go out with a bang and talk about the impact that autism has on being a single parent…and dating.

When I first became single I did not know about PanKwake’s autism. Well, more accurately I did not have a label for it. I knew something was different about my child. I might have even suspected that difference was the Big A, but I could not just tell people that. But I am not sure that it even made such a big difference back then anyway. Being a newly single parent of a five year old was impediment enough. I went eighteen months celibate. Just me and PanKwake.

Then in the summer of 2012, I had an Olympic size summer romance. With an American Marine no less. Retired actually, but he was head of the security team in charge of guarding Team USA. It all began when I decided that celibacy was NOT working for me. Shhh…don’t tell anyone but I placed a Craigslist ad for a F-buddy. Marine Marco replied.

One of my son’s was living with us then and watched his baby sister so I could go on a first date with the man at the bar around the corner. The chemistry was explosive. To the point that we were examining tonsils in the booth and had all the Brits rolling their eyes at us. He was certainly a wonderful way to get my mojo back.

Until the night that I got too bold. My son was going out with friends so his room was available. I did the insanely stupid thing of inviting Marine Marco to mine…after I got PanKwake to sleep. Now, at this point she and I still slept in the same bed. What I had not counted on was, without me there next to her, well, I spent more time going to quiet her than I did with him. I ended up in tears apologizing.

It changed things between us too. We went from him talking about moving us back home to a whole week without a single message. I honestly thought I would never hear from him again. I did, but it was NOT the same after that night. And when the Olympics ended so too did my summer lovin’.

But the damage was done. Now mind you, I know that dating as a single mother is never easy. Been there, done that, own the t-shirt. But this was a whole new level. That experience changed how I looked at dating, relationships…and even myself as a woman.934144_1768419973370537_8606290926025098682_n

Now I am not a big one for regrets. We are who we are because of the choices we made. But if I get one…It is Sven/Mikael, the man who inspired my Ægir’s series. He was the next man in my life…and I was still stinging from that one. So when he said, “I don’t mind if you have kid, but I can’t play daddy to anyone.” I said dealbreaker.

That sent me off on a wild goose chase…looking for my Brady Bunch. I got this crazy idea in my head that the only man, who could ever love and accept me was another single parent of an autistic kid. Guess what? I managed to find that in Captain America. Guess what else? We did not see eye-to-eye on how to raise them.

All those years searching for a purple unicorn only to discover that it was not really what you needed?!? So ironically, I know that Fate and the goddess are having a hell of a laugh at my expense, I am back to square one. But much wiser this time. I have learned that what you want and what you need are two very different things. And I am a better person for that.

Yes, dating is hard…for anyone. I see that with my beloved older daughter. It is harder still when you are a single parent. And when you are the single parent of an autistic child…you have hit the trifecta.

Want to hear comedy noir? I have a coffee date tomorrow. The guy even came from out of town for it. And as I am writing this blog…I get a message from PanKwake’s carer that she is ill and cannot make it tomorrow. Thankfully, my older daughter can. But still I know that I will deal with a very disappointed PanKwake…and possibly a meltdown over missing her Regina time.But that will be today…so wish me luck.

To end on a high note, things are changing though. Every day PanKwake is maturing. Doing things, tackling situations that even a year ago I would not have thought possible. It gives me hope…on so many different levels, not just love and relationships.

But the biggest change is in me. I no longer see myself as damaged goods, unlovable or having ‘too much baggage.’ I have come to realize something. Even being number two with me, I have more to offer a man than most women’s number one. The RIGHT man will see that. And if he ain’t the right man, well we don’t need him in our lives. PanKwake and autism just helps me to separate the wheat from the chaff quicker and easier.

Maybe our life on the spectrum is not for everyone, but my one will see it as the challenge, adventure and yes, fun that I do. Because the truth is that life with high-functioning autism is not that bad…just DIFFERENT.

And that, folks, is the ultimate in #AutismAcceptance!

 

 

Freaky Friday: Poly? Mono?

It is the question that I have been struggling with lately. In case you have missed the reading between the lines…my tribe is…dispersed. I think that is the best way of putting it.

FireBird and Captain America are happily settling into the monogamy that I sort of pushed them towards. FireBird and I are still close. We talk and I do still love them both. But I won’t come between them. And Thor? Somewhere in Niflheim I suppose. And me? I am good. Wiser, but good.

But as I begin to ‘date’…not that I really do that shit, but as close to a description as I can come…I am left asking myself so…what DO you want? Polyamory? Monogamy? What are you really? Then there is the beautiful word fluctuating.

I suppose the truth is something that Thor and I once talked about…poly does not mean I sleep around casually or just fuck anything I want. Poly means I have the capacity to care about/love more than one person at a time. Even if I am in a committed long term relationship with just one person…it does not change that capacity to love others.

Being the mother of six was the PERFECT training ground for that. Learning that each was different…needed different things from me…but that I needed to balance those needs…make sure that each got what he or she needed in the long term.

Do you screw up? Oh hell yeah, but you know what even if you have only one child…one lover…there are going to be times that you let them down. But accepting the responsibilities for those fuck ups. Apologizing…MAKING IT RIGHT…and learning from your mistakes is what counts. 

I have always said that I think that poly is the next step in human evolution when it comes to relationships. It just makes sense on so many levels.

First of all, in this busy, selfish world it is unrealistic to expect one person to give you all that you need emotionally, intellectually, spiritually and physically. Honestly, none of us are truly monogamous. Not if you have ever shared a secret with your friend that you would not with your partner. Not if you share long deep talks with someone that you cannot with your partner. Not if you have ever felt this instant bond/connection even non-sexual to someone other than your partner. We are all poly, folks…the only difference is the decision to make that a physical/sexual bond.

It also is PRACTICAL. Fewer and fewer traditional marriages have the resources emotional or financial to raise a family. Think about this scenario…instead of a family being a man and woman with two point one children…a man and two women…or two men and a woman…or two couples. Then you have the capacity for at least two incomes…and a stay-at-home parent based upon the skills and choices of the individuals involved. It makes perfect sense in terms of raising healthy, happy children. Yes, that also means there is more potential for sexual variety and satisfaction…more cuddles and kisses…and always someone with a shoulder to cry on too.

BUT in order to make it work, we as mere human beings must face our demons. We must learn to put jealousy in its place. Notice I did not say aside. That would make us robots. There will always be my bad moments when I rant and rage at my goddess and Fate. Why do FireBird and Captain America get to walk off into the sunset and live happily ever after while I am all alone? Mind you…I set that up, because I loved them both and realized how perfect they were for one another. And there are also tough moments when knowing they are happy is the only that keeps me going. Poly means I must OWN my emotions…joy and jealousy…and not push them off on others though.

12363092_1026315377414939_7031089772134444026_oPoly too means that we must learn to trust and communicate on a much deeper level than we ever have before. We have to practice TRANSPARENCY…not just answering questions honestly, but going that extra measure to reveal hidden things…that we want to keep hidden. That is not easy…not when from toddlerhood…we are indoctrinated with words like ‘big boys don’t cry’ or ‘be a good girl.’ We have to unlearn all of those hidden messages that tell us our thoughts and feelings simply do not matter to those closest to us…the ones that should love us. With monogamy, you might be able to coast by with hidden agendas and secrets…although probably not if you want true happiness and connection. But with poly…and multiple needs/wants/personalities…that just won’t cut it.

And if all that is not bad enough…one person cannot do it alone. Of course, that too is true of monogamy. One person cannot make a marriage or any relationship work. But the more people…the more ingredients…you put into that pot…the more important that those flavors balance one another. Not too much of one…or too little of another. All those flavors must meld and work together. Of course, there is nothing like a nice rich, thick, hearty minestrone. All that meat, vegetables, pasta and herbs blended together and simmering to perfection…that is good poly’s potential.

So yeah…I probably am poly. Not that I could not do monogamy….with someone VERY special. It would be a gift that I could give if truly important…deal breaker. But after six children loving more than one person at a time just comes naturally for this girl.

Poly though is many different things…so many, many different things. And it is about what each person has the capacity to manage… I am not saying my way is the only way, but there are some things I know that I need it to be for it to work for me…

  1. Totally open…I could never be in a relationship with just one person who was in another relationship with someone else. No, for me poly means we are all in this together. If I am in a relationship with a guy then I must also have some connection even if it is only friendship with any other women who he is with. Same thing with the guys in my life…they need to be friends. I could not tolerate hidden parties in a relationship. My ideal is wine, laughter and conversation all together…in the same room. At least on occasions.
  2. I do need a primary. Oh, this is a touchy one even within the poly community. Some think that kind of hierarchical ordering is unfair. Maybe it is…but I need a strong and unique bond with just one other person to be the center for me. Especially if we are not all living together…I need that one person that is mine…sort of any way. Which oddly enough is very different from my parenting style where there are no favorites. So maybe that will change over time…who knows.
  3. It needs to be based on more than sex or BDSM. For me this is that key difference between poly and other things like open or swinging. The fact that this is LOVE and relationship and commitment. Not just sex. Not just pain or submission. But honest genuine love…just for more than one person at a time. And those people must reciprocate.

Wow…when you look at all of that…seems to make monogamy more viable? Finding not just one person…but more than one that sees things that way…that wants the same thing from a relationship. Seems a pretty tall order don’t it? And we ain’t even gotten into the kink side of BDSM yet. As Kirsty discovered…Doms are just so good at sharing their toys.

How about you? Poly? Mono? Open? Solo? What do you want/need?

Thoughtful Thursday: The Truth…

This year’s election and democracy are bringing out the worst…in all of us. Myself included. It all goes to prove the Transcendentalist view that society and in particular religion and politics corrupts the basic good in man.

But we need to put things into context. We must understand history…ours and others in order to truly comprehend the present…and especially to improve the future for our children.

History

The truth of our history…shared history of the UK and USA…is that we are not democracies at all. We never have been. It was not the intent of the Founding Fathers or the reformers.

You want to know WHY…

Because they did not TRUST the common man. That is why you have an electoral college, that is why the constitution counted black slaves as 3/5ths a man and that is the underlying reasoning that allows for super delegates. It is the truth…and our heritage.

Now, let’s put it in a historical context…

Europe and in particular England is tiny. It has limited resources, including land. With a system of land gentry, nobility and primogeniture, this was a recipe for disaster. In a time before antibiotics, when the plague or even a virulent flu could decimate whole families, it was important to have an heir and more than one spare. The problem became what to do with those spares?

The answer for all of Europe was colonialism. A movement, which was born of entitlement masked at times with religion and ‘benevolent paternalism’. They considered themselves superior to all other races. So of course they had the ‘god’ given right to spread their religion, like their diseases, to other worlds and cultures that had been in peaceful co-existence (if not with each other always) with their environments. When land in England…France…Spain…Portugal…and others were exhausted, then no continent or island was safe from their greed.

Those second sons…and thirds…fourths…and daughters too were shipped to foreign lands to ensure that the first son would inherit ALL that was his. Of course, those sons were not alone…they sent prisoners…and religious zealots. Do you begin to see the roots of this election here anyone?

Of course, like any teenager, eventually there was rebellion against their mother land. But do you for one single moment think that those men (and they were ALL men…the only thing a woman was good for was sewing a flag and taking water to the soldiers on the battlefield) believed that ‘ALL men are created equal’?

Hell, NO! What they meant was that second…third…fifth…tenth…sons of the educated elite ought to have the same rights as first sons. While they fought the tyranny of a king thousands of miles away, they imprisoned not just black men, but women and the poor through ‘apprenticeships’ and indentured servitude.

So when it came time to form a new government…honestly, folks, all hell broke lose with the individual states each seeking a better position one over another. We failed once under the Articles of Confederation as thirteen petulant teens fighting one another.

The Federalist (in favor of a strong central government) and the Anti-Federalists (later called states rights) already formed a divide that ‘four score and seven’ years later would tear the country apart. Which is why the 3/5ths ruling on black slaves and all non-white males…which basically gave those slave owners much more power in terms of voting…in congress…and the electoral college.

Speaking of which…we have twice in recent years ‘elected’ a President that actually LOST the popular election. In other words, he had less than fifty percent of the votes…and still became President. Bitch all you want about that, but the truth is that the Republic…the autocracy…that the Founding Fathers wrote…worked to keep rich, white men in power…over two hundred years after they died.

Shit, in the original Constitution, the U S Senate was made up exclusively of the gentry, the educated, upper class. To ensure that people did not even directly vote for their Senators. No, they voted for local officials to the state legislature (usually the wealthiest, most powerful person), a collection of which then voted for one of their own to represent THEM in the U S Senate.

Of course, historically, a few common men…and women…slipped through this system and into power. BUT NEVER ENOUGH OF THEM TO BE A MAJORITY…to make real changes to that system.

And if England thinks it is so much better (and trust me…they do)? They still do not allow their people to vote directly for the Prime Minister at all.

That is the brutal TRUTH of my country. (Both of them.)

Does that all sound pessimistic? Fatalistic even?

I don’t mean to. The truth is that I love and miss my country. Further truth is that I do believe that most people are basically good and genuine. But like my Transcendentalist brethren (and those original Wild Women Sisterhood) Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Emily Dicken, Louisa May Alcott and so many others, I believe that politics and religion divide us…bring out the absolute worst in each of us.

And this year is the worst…at least that I have seen (oh please sweet goddess don’t let it get any worse).

But there is good too in that Constitution…ideals worthy of another, closer look. Because the truth is that those Founding Fathers too did not fully trust government or one another.

That there be prefixed to the constitution a declaration that all power is originally vested in, and consequently derived from the people.

That government is instituted, and ought to be exercised for the benefit of the people; which consists in the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the right of acquiring and using property, and generally of pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.

That the people have an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to reform or change their government, whenever it be found adverse or inadequate to the purposes of its institution.

James Madison

You see the whole ideal behind that Constitution was one of…the SMALLEST government possible to get the job done.

What job was that you ask?

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

America was founded on the idea of SMALL central government with LIMITED power…the rest was left in the hands of the states…and THE PEOPLE.

That is the TRUTH. The question is…what the hell happened to it? And how much worse is it going to get?

REAL Woman Wednesday: Ideal Weight?

I joined the gym yesterday. Like I shared a few weeks ago, one of the decisions that I made in terms of taking back control of my life was to lose weight. Not for some man. Not because society  thinks skinny is pretty. But for one simple reason, what I caught a glimpse of in the full length mirror as I changed into my bathing suit to take PanKwake swimming…disgusted me.

I have another of my confessions to make…as a teenager I struggled with bulimia. I had always been somewhere around a size 10 to 12. But that year, I decided no more. I went on a fad diet. I ate nothing but tuna, salad, tomato juice and sunflower seeds. Two meals a day. Coffee in the morning for breakfast and sunflower seeds any time I felt hungry.

I was working then as a cashier in a grocery store, so I could buy my own food. I ignored my family’s warnings too as I walked miles around the neighborhood.

And the pounds dropped away. In less than two months, I was buying size 6 jeans. A good 20 pounds, maybe more.

Skinny Teen
Skinny teen Tara

But oh what a cost! I ended up in the hospital. You see the stomach virus that the rest of my family, even my elderly Nanny, were able to weather easily, sent me to the Emergency Room where I was hooked up to IVs for several hours.

Years later after once again shedding pounds…this time over 50 of them in a more healthy way, I was training to be a personal trainer when I learned about set point theory. The idea that each of us is genetically pre-programmed with an ideal body weight. And that despite dieting and exercise, our bodies will constantly try to autocorrect to that weight.

Then I understood…as a teen and well into my thirties my set point was a size 10 to 12. That was my ideal weight. If I lost much below that then I looked gaunt and pale, as it had then my immune system weakened and failed. If on the other hand, I gained much beyond that, I became sluggish, depressed and my fitness level plunged. But in that range, my body functioned at its maximum.

Set point is the scientific explanation for diversity among Homo sapiens. Why some people are smaller and others are larger. But even within that there are upper and lower limits beyond which it is not healthy. Anorexia is pushing beyond those limits. No teen or adult is meant to starve their body to that point. Likewise no human body is meant to weigh 400+ pounds. Or likely even 300.

Most humans (exceptions being dwarves and giants) are meant to be somewhere between 120 and 250 pounds…dependent upon height. Within that range is everything from a size 6 to 16/18…maybe 20 for women. Variety for our genetic pool as well as sexual preferences.

Of course the other thing to remember is that as we age our set point can change. This is due to a slowing metabolism. Mine certainly has. My body these days works best at somewhere between a 14 and 16. When I looked in that mirror weeks ago though, I was squeezing my ass into size 20 jeans. Far from that ideal. And I felt it too. Not like I said because of any man or magazine, but me.

A few days later, I pulled out the Wii Fit that I had not used in close to two years. I discovered that while in my mind I was the same size I had been for years, I had in fact gained 24 pounds. I was appalled. How had that happened?

That answer was simple…my weight just was not a priority for me. Finding answers and solutions for PanKwake was. Writing was. Not my weight or even my health.

But suddenly when I looked in the mirror, when I stepped on that Wii Fit board, it became one.

I had the desire and motivation to change. And one thing I know about me…when I finally decide to change, I do it.

But as before I had learned my lesson from that silly teen, it was about LIFESTYLE changes and not fad diets. Gradual things mostly, though some immediate ones. So what were they, you ask?

  1. I kissed my Pepsi good-bye. I went from almost a 2 liter a day down to one can for a couple of weeks…to keep the caffeine and sugar headache away. Since then I have had coke…one. That was over a month ago and that one alone probably accounts for most of the changes I am beginning to most in my body already. It is also better for the environment (plastic bottles) and my budget.
  2. I started to eat breakfast. This has always been a problem for me. My idea of breakfast is three or four cups of coffee with loads of sugar. Speaking of which…I have eliminated most of that too, though I cannot go without it in my coffee. And while it may not be a huge meal, usually oatmeal or bran flakes, maybe granola in yogurt, it is enough that I can definitely feel it if I miss it. In fact, I had to stop writing this blog long enough for a bowl of bran. I can already feel my blood sugar beginning to correct itself.
  3. I virtually did away with bread, pasta and cheese. Especially white bread. I do on occasion have whole wheat crackers but that is about the extent of it. And cheese…well, I do miss that one. I may honestly eat pasta…once a week or so, but that is far less than before.
  4. I eat less meat and much more vegetables. If you think of your plate as a pizza or pie then over half of it should be covered in vegetables with only a small slice of meat and one moderate serving of COMPLEX carbs such as potato, sweet potato, rice or pasta.

The wonderful thing about it being lifestyle changes and not a diet is that there is not cheating as such. Yes, I finished off the Peanut M&Ms yesterday…the ones that PanKwake did not like. If this were a diet then I might find myself in slump, feeling like I had failed. But with a lifestyle change I say…oh well, one packet of M&Ms in six weeks…big deal! In fact, it is a reward…an occasional treat.

Is it working you ask? Not as fast as one of those silly fad diets. I honestly have not gotten back on that Wii Fit, but the mirror tells me the truth far more. And while I am most definitely not Snow White’s stepmother…I will never be slim…there is a slight change.

And now adding the gym and with summer coming and us getting out to walk more, I am certain that things are on the right track. That’s is what matters more…going in the right direction, not the speed at which you travel or the occasional rest stop along the way (like those M&Ms)…but going the right way.

I may never be even that size 10 again…because now that would be like that size 6 had once been…unhealthy. But I know that eventually I will get down to that 16…I already have reached an 18. Those 20 jeans now fall off of me. I may even carry on to that 14. I will decide based upon how well I feel once I achieve that first goal.

Because my weight like everything else about me is UNIQUE…my set point and no one else’s.

Teaser Tuesday: Meet Georgia

This one is dedicated to PanKwake’s beautiful young carer Regina. While hers is a charmed life FAR different than Georgia, like Monika, Kirsty and her guys…our lives would be so much more difficult without her. Thank you, sweetie…


The doorbell rang and she laid down the spatula to get it, when her father called out, “I’ll get that, sweetie.”

Lofoten Village
The village near the Holding

She was more than glad to keep cooking, perhaps it was Bjorn or Mikael, maybe one of them had forgotten their keys. She laughed, remembering how well that had turned out the night before. She heard mumbling from the living room and poked her head around the corner to see her father and a battered Georgia.

Alarm coursed through her at the state of Monika’s carer. The young woman had told her about broken arm that had forced her to cancel the day before, but not only was it in a sling but her eye was almost swollen shut and a particularly nasty shade of purple. There was a fainter bruise across her cheek and her lip had a cut in the corner. She rushed forward and enveloped her friend in a hug, but that only tore a strangled moan from her, “What happened, sweetie?”

“Stupid me, like I said, I took a bad fall down the stairs at the house,” Kirsty knew that with bruises like that it must hurt to smile, but Georgia forced one nonetheless.

Kirsty knew, just knew immediately, that it was all a lie. It had nothing to do with her training though that did confirm it. It was almost impossible to get a black eye from a mere fall. Unless you fell onto someone’s fist in the process.

She drew the young woman inside and to the couch. She wanted to gentle, it would not be the first time she had convinced a victim of abuse to confide in her. But she did not have time. Bjorn and Mikael would be back soon. In another hour, two tops, they would be gone. And what little she knew of this young woman said that she had no one else to turn to. “Who did this to you, Georgia?”

That fake smile was back along with tears from the swollen eye as she tried to shake her head, “I…fell. I swear…”

Kirsty shook her head and took Georgia’s one good hand in hers, “No, sweetie. No, you did not. These injuries are not consistent with a fall.”

“She’s right, young lady. I have been the head of an A&E for two decades. And in all that time, I have never seen these type of injuries from a fall,” Kirsty smiled her gratitude to her father.

Tears began to fall faster then. Her whole body seemed to tremble. “It wasn’t his fault,” she mumbled.

“Whose fault, Georgia?” Kirsty pressed.

“Daddy’s. He did not mean it. I shouldn’t have gotten in the way. Mama told me not to interfere anymore when he disciplined her,” she sobbed.

Kirsty felt her stomach turn at the words from her friend’s mouth. Discipline. She knew discipline. But this was not it. She choked and swallowed, feeling decidedly in over her head. She wished that Mikael or Bjorn were here, she could really use their help. “It was not your fault, Georgia,” she insisted as she squeezed the young woman’s hand.

But the girl only shook her head and cried, “I had to come by and say good-bye to Monika.” Her voice broke, “I’m not supposed to leave the house until…” she stammered and trembled again. “But I could not let her leave without saying farewell. I’m going to miss her so much. Miss you all.”

Kirsty frowned, would the girl get beaten again for sneaking away to see them? She would make sure that did not happen. Some way. “She has gone with her father to rent a van right now, but they should be back any moment. You stay and have breakfast with us.”

“No, I really should be leaving. I just wanted her to have this,” she held out a threadbare Teddy bear. “This is Pooh. I’ve had him since I was a little girl. We went to a fun fair one Sunday. And Daddy won him for me,” the tears were trekking faster down her cheeks and she had a faraway look in her brown eyes. “I always thought I would give it to my daughter one day. But…”

Alarm bells clanged even louder in Kirsty’s head. Something was badly wrong here. Horribly. “Stay and give it to her yourself then. Have breakfast with us,” she too forced a smile.

“I really shouldn’t. I should just go. I don’t know what I was thinking, coming here. She should not see me like this… I just really wanted to say good-bye. I loved her you know. Maybe she was not my child, but I did. I’m sorry. I need to go now. Good-bye. I hope you are happy. Really really happy. And take care of Monika and those babies. I have to go…”

Mommy Monday: Acceptance

We took PanKwake to the American embassy today to renew her passport. that meant getting up at 6AM. Two bus rides totally almost an hour. Standing in line outside for about half an hour. Then waiting in various lines inside for another hour. Then getting back home, which was a bit more tricky. But we managed it ALL without a meltdown…and set up for role play for her carer tomorrow…AND went ice skating with her friend.

If you have ‘normal’ or neurotypical kids that may seem like nothing compared to scouts, little league, band and soccer practice. But to an autism Mom…today was a MIRACLE.

I can remember having to leave my shopping in the store because she could not wait one more minute in the line. The florescent lights, cold food/freezer aisle, the bakery smells and so many people making so much noise.

But on Saturday while we were getting our passport pictures, I needed to pick up just a couple of things in the store. The moment I stepped inside I was like…OH NO! Busy does not cover it…it was enough to hit all my crowd buttons. I almost turned around and left…and I was prepared to leave the shopping once again…but we made that too.

Another autism family was not so lucky. I had noticed them when we first went in. Their teen daughter was already agitated…arguing about a purchase. Ten minutes later as we stood in line they were in one near us…and she lost it. Throwing some things down, screaming and cussing.

My heart went out to her parents. If I had been alone I would have offered to run interference…but I could not risk turning it into a double meltdown. But I did what I could explaining autism to the store guard and couple others.

This says it all…

12961494_2011635099062356_6064215122554110014_n

In case you have not guessed it…I am a militant. And I make my voice heard. I do not tolerate…stares…nasty comments…heavy sighs…or rolled eyes. I will call your ass on it every time. I have had screaming matches, quote bible verses and yes…told people to FUCK OFF.

You see the cold hard truth is that we are not much better than Nazi Germany when it comes to the way we treat those who are different or challenged. Because before Hitler went after the Jews, he came for the disabled first. Our own history is not much better. Even just two decades ago, the severely autistic were often institutionalized…and in many case prison camps were nicer than those.

Maybe we want to pat ourselves on the back and think we have come so far since then.

WRONG, folks!!!

Most people still treat you like you are bad/evil for not keeping your ‘problem’ at home…behind closed doors. I have been told…well, then why do you take her out? My answer is all REAL Tara…Because my child has as much fucking right to ride a bus as you or anyone else. And if you don’t like it…piss off. 

I have gone head to head with the local gym to have her included in the ‘normal’ trampoline classes and not forced to use the ‘special needs’ ones. I don’t back down or off.

But I also do my best to try education first…informing others of autism…and helping them to understand what it is and is not. As I have with this blog for April is #AutismAwarenessMonth.

The thing is that being AWARE is not enough. What we want and need is ACCEPTANCE. Awareness is to Acceptance what Like is to Love. And how many of you out there have ever cringed when a lover said…I really ‘like’ you. At that point, most women (the ones with dignity anyway) walk. It just ain’t good enough, folks.

So what DOES acceptance look like though? Something like this…

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Let’s go through those one by one…

Ask questions. That is one thing about autism…we lack the usual socially polite filters. One of the first things I worked with PanKwake on when I took her out of school was…appropriate and inappropriate. I drew the line at teaching her to lie even white ones or at stopping her questions. She was told that as long as she asked politely then it was okay. And that applies to all of you too. Instead of snide comments about her being too big a girl for a buggy, try asking her why she needs one. She will explain ALL about how tired her legs get sometimes. And I do mean…ALL.

Understand. This one may not be the best way of saying it. No one truly understands another person’s trials. I readily admit that I do not ‘understand’ what it is like to parent a more severely, non-verbal child on the spectrum. Apples and oranges. But that is different than BEING UNDERSTANDING. Simply said…stop judging me…or anyone else for that matter.

Tell a friend. And not just in the month of April either. Autism is not leprosy. But we need to stop treating it like some dirty secret. The latest figure that some people are tossing around is 1 in 50. That is 2% of people on the spectrum. The most important thing we can start doing, folks, is BREAKING the silence. Let’s start talking about it…not just with other parents of autistic children but with friends and neighbors…and strangers.

Include. Inclusion or mainstreaming is a big word…and being honest it is NOT always possible. I wasted a whole Saturday afternoon and upset PanKwake’s routine for three days by trying to include her in a friend’s birthday party. Sometimes the most important thing is not going to prom…those dresses are expensive, only the ‘in’ crowd have fun and oh, who needs it anyway. But damn, it sure was nice to be asked. That is what including is…reaching out, trying and being willing to meet half way. That’s all we want…and we will learn to say ‘thank you but not right now’ one day.

Show your support. This could be anything from running a marathon for an autism charity to voting at the PTA to making dinner or taking kids to the park for a family. Maybe doing a load of laundry. Or even just listening and offering a shoulder to cry on. Just be genuine is all.

Make a difference. If you did all those things…trust me, you would make a hell of a difference in the lives of families on the spectrum…our communities and this world.

Remember…

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Serious Sunday: Homo autistica

For most of you, we are coming to the end of April Is Autism Awareness Month. For PanKwake and I that is 365 (366 this year) every year for the rest of our lives. What we strive for though is not awareness…I can be aware of the ants in my kitchen…while I squash them. Or I can ACCEPT that they too are part of this eco-system with a valuable role to play.

Besides puzzle pieces, butterflies are another symbol often associated with the autism movement. For me, I would prefer a bee…a honey bee.

Why?

First of all, they obviously bring sweetness into this world. Their honey makes even bitter tea more palatable. My daughter has done that for me…and many others, perfect strangers on the bus, in the park or street. Her completely open, honest and live in the moment approach to things make people smile.

Bees too live by patterns. When scientists took the time to study the dances that bees did, they discovered that actually it was a complex form of communication used to give directions to flowers. I believe that is the key to autism…not curing them. They don’t need a cure. Any more than bees need to be turned into butterflies or ants or humans. We just need to break the code to unlock…

Those directions to the flower garden. You see the beauty of autism is that they live in the moment. There have been times when PanKwake told me…this is the best day ever. Then a couple of hours later, she hated me. But like Mother Nature herself once her fury was spent, the calm on that beach littered with driftwood and seaweed, the clean crisp smell after the after, the sun peaking through those clouds…those moments too are beautiful.

Oh, but watch out for those stingers. Bees, unlike wasps, are not naturally aggressive. They sting only when threatened. That is what we do not realize…those meltdowns are not anger, manipulation or temper tantrums. They are cries for help…because they are threatened and in pain from the environment in which they live. Thankfully, unlike bees, they do not die from their own stings.

That is the thing though…bees are under threat. They numbers are dropping. And here is the final point…we cannot live for long without bees. They are a crucial part of the circle of life.

I am going to show more of my crazy here…but I know that Homo autistica have been sent into this world to usher humanity into a New Age. You see man, in particular our societies and institutions, are stuck in old ways of doing things. Ways that once served a purpose, but are no longer necessary for the survival of our human species. Norms, morals and rules that just don’t make sense any more.

The thing is that for most of us it is almost impossible to break away from those ‘norms’. We can think…damned, that is stupid way of doing things.

For instance, how we manage our friendships. We want everyone to like us…even if that means we never show them WHO we really are. We paint our masks to be pleasing to others…until we lose our own identity in those masks.

Autistic individuals are not born with those ‘filters’. They don’t know how to lie…unless we teach them. They are who they are. And you know what…given time, patience and support…not taught or forced to wear OUR masks…they eventually find their place. Better than we do. They find others like themselves…they find empaths, who do not take their ‘peculiarities’ personally but accept them for who they are.

They even re-define friendship. There are times when PanKwake will be telling me a story…a memory. She will say, ‘Mommy, remember the time that we did X in the park with my friend.’ And I will struggle to remember it, because she has only a handful of friends…two good ones actually. Then she will keep going on and on until something clicks and I will remember the event.

Except it was not with one of her friends, it was a random stranger that we met that day and maybe have never even seen since. But to her that person is a ‘friend.’ Because they added value to her life. That new definition is one of the greatest gifts that PanKwake has given me.

But the thing that makes Homo autistica truly special is that they are our X-Men. Mutants sent to save us from ourselves. All those old rules and systems that no longer serve a purpose. Look at your keyboard right now. The ‘qwerty’ system was created for type writers based upon the frequency with which letters occur…to minimize those nasty times when the keys got tangled up. But we live in a computer age…no sticky keys any more. Yet we are stuck with ‘qwerty’ rather than a more logical ‘ABC’ system.

Why? Because it is what sociologists and economists call a ‘lock-in.’ Our world is full of them…eight hour work days, offices, cities, rules of ‘polite’ society that are anything but. The thing is that without being forced to…we will never change those lock-ins.

One thing about those on the spectrum…they do not tolerate senseless, illogical fools lightly. They will call us on that shit every time. Demand to know why we do something that does not make sense. And that, folks, is the ONLY way that change happens. When we are forced to look at our ugliness…like that mirror in the women’s changing room a few weeks ago. Only then do we have the motivation to do what is necessary to make changes that we should have seen long, long ago.

And that is why Homo sapiens so desperately need their new mutation Homo autistica. The only question is how successfully we will chose to integrate with them. Do we see the value of their new ways? Do we interbreed with them? Or do we become Homo neandrathal and pass from existence in favor of the this new species?

One of my favorite movies is X-Men: First Class. Watch this powerful scene from that movie.

We are Charles Xavier…homo sapien. Homo autistica is Eric/Magneto. If we can do as Charles did, we can help Eric to unlock his power. The problem is…Charles despite his words…NEVER truly comes to accept the beauty and power in Eric…well, that is another movie…and not until they face extinction, until he loses his friend.

Let’s not be like that. Let’s stop looking for cures…and start looking for keys to unlock their potential. (Yes, I believe that some of the most brilliant brains on this planet are locked helplessly inside of those at the other end of the spectrum…the non-verbal.) This one gets is so right…

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