Tag - TPGA

A book! A book!
Back to School

A book! A book!

I have spectacular news: The awesome women over at The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism have published a book and I am thrilled and honored to be included on its roster of authors.

Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism:
The Autism Book You’ve Been Waiting For

Redwood City, CA December 19, 2011 — “Refreshingly free of dogma, disinformation, and heavy-handed agendas, Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism is an oasis of sanity, compassion, and hope for people on the spectrum and those who love them.” —Steve Silberman, senior writer for Wired magazine and autism/neurodiversity blogger for the Public Library of Science
“Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism is the book we wish we’d had when autism first became part of our lives: a one-stop resource for carefully curated, evidence-based information from autism parents, autistics, and autism professionals.”

I am so happy to be part of it. The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism publishes a wide variety of voices on its web site and in the last year some important, thought-provoking conversations have taken place there. You can read more about the book here — and it’s available for purchase on Amazon. Congrats all!

Back to School

I am alone for the first time in months. Hello silence! How I’ve missed you. Which also means: Hello self! There you are! How are we feeling about being alone? Should we eat some ice cream or should we write. I’ve carried half-written posts around in my head all summer, never finding the space or time to sit down and share them. My boys turned seven. We had a lovely family vacation and I sank into brief breaks here and there — a book on the beach, a stroll on the sand — but nothing quite beats the sound of silence for this weary mom.

Back to school brings with it the familiar angst, the wringing of the hands, the transition to something new. We’re in second grade. The amount of worrying I do as back-to-school ramps up is ridiculous. Ridiculous. It helps when I hear that I’m not the only neurotic mom trying to micromanage every aspect of my kids’ lives. As if I could.

Last year I lost sleep over John’s then-new teacher, so worried was I that she wasn’t going to be as good as his first one. She turned out to be better! You’d think I’d learn from that — and I have, really. It just has not stopped me from fretting anew about all of the things I cannot control. This part of being a mom is the absolute worst — the letting go, the trusting. I do not do it well. The only thing that makes it bearable is that my kids are much more resilient than me.

So here we are: Sam moved up to second grade with not one friend or classmate from last year. Not one. It’s like they went out of their way to isolate him. This, when social skills are paramount on his IEP.

The first week the students line up in front of the school by classroom. On the first day I lead an anxious little boy to his new teacher. He is quiet. He notices several former classmates in a separate line. He waves and says hello under his breath but they don’t notice. I tell him “They just didn’t see you, honey.” If his teacher wasn’t excellent… I think, but she is. Members of his team try to reassure me that this is going to be Sam’s best year yet but I have no objectivity. My head has checked out and given control over to my heart, which by the way, is breaking! He’s all alone! He’s sad!

Of course I go home, call the husband and sob. He picks up after the first ring, says he’s been expecting my call. He hears my concerns, wonders if this might not be a positive in some ways. But you didn’t see his face! It’s not right, I say. I spend the rest of the day drafting anxious emails to the principal and his team — should we transfer him?

I save the draft and decide to see how his first day went. If he’s sad, I will hit send! I go to the school and wait out front for him. I’m prepared for the worst, my imagination is by now, firmly in overdrive.

“It was a great day!” he says running to me. “I love second grade!”
Resilient. Positive. Confident.

He has already memorized half of the class in alphabetical order, of course. He rattles them off to me, “…numbers 12, 13, 14, and 15 I don’t remember yet, but I will tomorrow. Number 16 is… ” He even found his best friend C. at recess and they played together. Huh.

Letting go… trusting… it’s a process. He teaches me. How I love that boy.


I clutch John’s hand as we approach his brother’s school. We are here to pick up Sam after Week 2 of an after-school soccer program, a program I thought would be great after hearing that a few of his classmates were enrolled. In the five minutes it takes to find the gym, no fewer than three teachers greet us, see John, and say “Hi Sam!”

Their faces are puzzled. I watch them trying to sort it out, Sam has a twin? Why didn’t we know Sam has a twin?

We find the gym and look inside. Eight or so boys are running around between two nets, a coach is yelling encouragement. There are just a few minutes left and more parents are arriving behind us. John takes in the open expanse, the rolling ball, and yanks me in. Before I can get a good grip, he darts free. At first he just runs the perimeter of the gym, but then he begins to weave in between the group of boys, his eye on the moving ball.

Sam spots him, stops playing and yells, “Coach C! Look, it’s John! He’s my brother! Can he play?”

Coach C pauses, glances at me. I mouth Sorry! and he says,”Sure, John, come on!”

John laughs and runs in and out of the group, flapping excitedly. Coach C calls the group over for a huddle but Sam won’t join unless John does too. He’s pulling him and pulling him and I am keenly aware of all eyes on me: the coach, the kids, all the parents…

I weigh my options: go and hoist him out of there risking an epic meltdown or go help him sit in the circle with the other kids. I opt for the latter and as I near him, John yells all on his own “Sit down!” and takes a seat with Sam. Relieved, I kneel behind him.

The coach talks about teamwork and how great they did. Sam interrupts, “And my brother did really great too!” He grins at John and John throws his arms around him. At first I think it’s John, excited, wanting to engage Sam in roughhousing, which is known to happen a lot these days. But then, no, I see John’s grin and realize that he is genuinely happy to be here, sitting in this gym with his brother.

And then they’re done and here we are leaving the gym. Sam says, “Mommy, I want John to come to MY school, not his school, okay?”

I am too choked up to reply.

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