October 24, 2014

We Have A Disabled Parking Pass For A Reason

We have a disabled parking pass for a reason - now stop giving us the stink-eye!

Quebec disabled parking permit copyright 2014 OneQuarterMama.ca

We've only had our disabled parking pass for a few months, but we've already noticed it causes people to stare at us (more than normally) and sometimes give us dirty looks.

I get it, none of us are elderly. None of us use a wheelchair or walking aids. None of us "look" disabled, whatever that may mean to most.

I went through the legal process to get one like anyone else. I paid the fee and had a doctor sign off on it. The government approved it and issued it. It's not like I found one on the black market.

I got it because every once and a while, the Little Man has a penchant for bolting. Ok, not really a penchant, but a tendency. It happens when he gets angry or upset usually. He's not an eloper or a wanderer. He's a runner.

He tends to do it when things are not going his way - and a common scenario for that would be when we quickly have to leave a store because he wants every shiny item in it and if we stay there, things will break (I've had that happen. Luckily, no one made me pay for damages!)

So then the next logical thing would be to exit the store and run away from me, usually into a parking lot. I think we can all agree this is not safe. So rather than having to drag a screaming, unpredictable, potential-bolter through a parking lot and hope for the best, we applied for a disabled parking pass so we would always have the closest parking to the door. Because I don't want my kid to get hit by a car.

I know I don't have to explain myself or justify myself to anyone (or at least, I shouldn't!) but I have to admit, being stared at or given the stink-eye by strangers is kinda annoying. I'm not writing this for people who understand not all disabilities are visible. I'm not writing this for people who get that everyone has a story. I'm not writing this for people who understand some parents will do anything and everything in their power to keep their kids safe.

I'm writing for those who don't think, or haven't ever considered the possibility, that disabled parking is not a privilege afforded, but a RIGHT to make sure disabled people, whatever their disability, have safe and easy access to every public place, just like anyone else.

I will keep taking him out - I will not hide him in my house in order to make other people more comfortable - and one day he will get to a point where he won't bolt. When that day comes, I will gratefully give up our disabled parking pass and be thankful there are systems in place that make sure we are treated with equality

October 22, 2014

Thanksgiving Roadtrip!

It took me a while to assemble all the pictures, but here is a recap of our Thanksgiving Roadtrip!

My sister lives outside Toronto, which is a good 500km from Montreal. The halfway point for that trip is roughly Kingston. Before having a kid and when he was small, we would do the drive in 6-7 hours. We found that as he gets older, we need to stop more and for longer and I don't think it's fair to keep a 5 year old in a car for that long. So instead we booked a hotel in Kingston and spent the night each way.

I left work a bit early on Thursday and, as planned, were on the road to Kingston by 8pm. We were checked into our room and in bed by 11:30 that night, which makes me feel like Wonder Woman for accomplishing that. We gave the Little Man a bath before we left and dressed him in his pajamas before sticking him in the car with a pillow and a blanket. Of course, he didn't fall asleep in the car until close to our arrival, but he was ready to sleep once he got into the hotel bed, which is pretty impressive.

the little man in bed with his angry birds blanket on OneQuarterMama.ca copyright 2014
Angry Birds help him sleep

The next morning, we had breakfast and the guys took advantage of the hotel salt water pool. I couldn't go in because of my new ink.


my new ink "live your life" tattoo on back copyright 2014 by OneQuarterMama.ca
My New Ink!
guys in salt water pool at First Canada Inns Kingston photo by OneQuarterMama.ca copyright 2014
Guys in the pool


Then we got on the road to his Auntie's place, but of course, we had to make a stop at The Big Apple. The Big Apple is really just that: a giant red apple with a smiling face, just off the highway in Colborne, Ontario. Not only do they make amazing giant apple pies, which you can watch them make, but they have free activities for kids.

Big Apple Colborne Ontario copyright 2014 OneQuarterMama.ca

chicken at Big Apple Colborne petting farm copyright 2014 OneQuarterMama.ca
goat at Big Apple Colborne petting farm copyright 2014 OneQuarterMama.ca




First we checked out the petting zoo and fed a chicken and a goat. A llama also looked at us intently, but that was it.
llama at Big Apple Colborne petting farm copyright 2014 OneQuarterMama.ca


Auntie left a key for us (she was still at work Friday afternoon) and we let ourselves in.

When Auntie came in from work, all the excitement led to a minor meltdown for the Little Man. He had contained all that energy and was so good with all these new experiences on the way over that is just had to burst out.

The next night we had our Thanksgiving Dinner and the Little Man was restless, so he slept half on top of me on the futon, while Dada got stuck on the air mattress.

We left Sunday afternoon and of course had to stop at The Big Apple again on the way back. This time we rode the train and then the guys climbed all the way to the top of the apple. (I had to use the toilet, so I missed out on that.)

family selfie on Big Apple Colborne train copyright 2014 OneQuarterMama.ca
Family selfie on the train

family picture at Big Apple Colborne copyright 2014 OneQuarterMama.ca















Then we checked back in at First Canada Inns and settled in for the night. 
First Canada Inns Kingston hotel front copyright 2014 OneQuarterMama.ca
And drove the rest of the way home on Monday! 
The End!

October 20, 2014

The Loss of a Dream

Every few months, the Little Man seems to go through a growth period and during this time, his sleep gets disrupted.

He normally sleeps very well (he takes after his mama) but during times of growth or transition, everything will go haywire for about a week. During that week he will be hyper and anxious during the day, chatting a mile a minute, and then restless at night. He will wake up at around midnight-1am, tell me he is scared and climb into our bed.

Since we bed shared from the beginning, he's always been welcome in our bed, even though it results in worse sleep for us as he's gotten bigger. I am more concerned about his rest than mine, and he likes to take over my pillow and then sleep with his legs on top of me. I usually end up with sore muscles from hanging off the bed and not being able to move. But such is the life of a mama.

So it's no big deal when he came in at 1am and said, "I'm frightened in my room, I'd like to try out yours." Lovely. Come on in! He tossed and turned and squirmed and I asked him if he was ok. He said he was fine.

Around 4am, I wake up to him crying. "What's wrong?"

"NOTHING!" he screams out into the dark, like a petulant teenager. "Nothing" is his upset response when he loses his words. "Nothing" is like the "I'm fine" of some women. It means there is something very wrong, but so wrong it cannot yet be expressed.
Familiengrab_des_Otto_Schurig_-_Mutter_Erde_fec.jpg licensed with Attribution Sharealike 3.0 modified by OneQuarterMama.ca under same license

"You're crying, you seem upset," I tell him.

And in between sobs, he begins to tell me about a dream he was having with a slide and a bucket. Mama and Dada were there. The bucket was pink and black and brown...and he lost it.

"Now I can't get it back because I lost it in the dream!" he wailed.

"Oh my goodness, that IS upsetting!" and I tell him I understand. I tell him he will have to go back and look for it.

"But how?! Now the dream is gone and I can't ever go back!"

"Well, you just have to believe you can go back. And then you make a new dream and go back and get it."

"OK," he says, still crying.

I tell him, "we will go back to the dream together and I will help you find it. I know you can do it!"

And he fell into a deep sleep in search of his bucket that was pink and black and brown, and oh, so dear to him. 

October 19, 2014

Health Canada Seizes MMS

No More MMS Skull and Crossbones copyright 2014 OneQuarterMama.ca

I am so excited to see Health Canada finally trying to stop the sale of MMS. I wrote about the horrors of MMS here. It's essentially bleach. It's used as a disinfectant and in the production of pulp and paper. It is NOT made for human consumption, but despite this, people are making their autistic children drink it in hopes of a "cure."

Despite Health Canada issuing advisories on this product since 2010, this is the first I've seen of them actually seizing it.

It doesn't mean that it will completely stop people from torturing and abusing their children - if they can't get their hands on MMS, I'm sure they'll find something else. But anything to make it a little harder to carry out their actions makes me happy and hopefully it will make a few people think.

More coverage here:

The Toronto Star

Global News

October 17, 2014

Fake It Til You Become It

A lot of us Aspies/Auties are a little obsessed with understanding and reading body language. I know it often eludes me, even though I'm pretty good at reading emotion. (Or so I think!) I think I do miss out on some cues and I find it frustrating. I also know for sure I often give off the "wrong" body language even though it's not reflective of how I feel inside. I wish I knew how to coordinate the two better, but I am at a loss much of the time.

This is a TED Talk from 2012 that I just stumbled upon now. Dr. Amy Cuddy gives concrete examples of powerful poses and how using these poses can actually change how you feel. She advises not just "faking it til you make it" but "fake it until you become it." She says eventually, you will be changed fundamentally and your feelings will reflect your body language.

What do you think? Are you going to start doing Super Hero poses in the bathroom?


Cosplay of superheroes on OneQuarterMama.ca
4 people pose as Super Heros; from L-R: Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman and Spider Man

October 10, 2014

Autism and ABA

I get a lot of questions related to ABA and why I don't support it.

For starters, I have never personally experienced ABA therapy. I've never experienced any autism-related therapy actually, though I would like to go to OT. I do get regular massages for my SPD.

My son has also not experienced ABA. While it was of course recommended when he first got his diagnosis, and it would be freely provided by my province's government, I just didn't feel right about it. I figured he will not end up worse than me as an adult. I also did not like the very "business" feeling I got when I called for services. The amount of hours they suggested just didn't jibe with me and how I wanted him to have a mostly "normal" childhood, not one filled with hours upon hours of therapy.

He had weekly speech therapy (still does) and before he started daycare, we spent our days playing and exploring the world. That was therapy enough for us, in my opinion.

I get my arguments against ABA from autistic adults (and teens) who have experienced it and felt abused by it. I am very uneasy about a lot of the techniques and the dialogue ABA professionals use. Things like "putting that behaviour on extinction" and ignoring the child until the child complies in a neurotypical/stereotypical way.

I also was very close to my ex-boyfriend's autistic brother. He was forever questioning how he felt or how he should behave. Everything was formulaic for him and he did not feel like he could think for himself. I feel that ABA makes people into robots. Socially acceptable robots.

I want my child to be able to think for himself. I don't want him to do things out of motivation for a candy. I don't want him to ignore his own needs in order to satisfy someone else. What happens when someone offers him a candy to touch his genitals? What happens when someone wants to pressure him to take drugs or commit a crime? A robot would comply. This is a major fear of mine.

ABA purports that autism is a behaviour disorder. It's not. Autism is a developmental disability.
The behaviours may not be neurotypical and may not be socially accepted, but that doesn't make them automatically wrong or a problem that needs to be fixed.

Also, the goal of ABA is to make the child "indistinguishable from typical peers" and attend regular school "without any supports." I do not share this goal or desire for my child.

If you can, please take the time to read autistic people's firsthand experiences with ABA. I am thankful to these people who have taken the time to inform us about what they went through so that others won't have to. I think you can appreciate their bravery, despite many wanting to silence them and the pain it must have caused them to relive these moments.

http://timetolisten.blogspot.ca/2014/03/conditioned-eye-contact.html

http://unstrangemind.wordpress.com/2013/01/27/no-you-dont/

http://juststimming.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/quiet-hands/

http://loveexplosions.net/2013/09/15/touch-nose-gummi-bear-what-is-aba-and-why-does-it-suck/

A whole series devoted to ABA on Emma's Hope Book.

http://thequeeraspie.blogspot.ca/2013/07/why-aba-therapy-unsettles-me.html

The creator of ABA, Dr. Lovaas, advocated slapping and shocking the children into compliance: http://neurodiversity.com/library_screams_1965.html

NOTE 1: If you are a parent and you currently have your child in ABA and you no longer agree with it, it's not too late to stop now and change course. When we know better, we do better. Don't feel guilty about that, just move on and continue to do your best with what you know.

NOTE 2: If you are a professional who wants to stand up FOR ABA, your comments are not welcome here and will be deleted if you even bother. This is not up for debate.

NOTE 3: If you know of any other posts similar to those above, feel free to comment and I will add them.


October 08, 2014

How To Get Published in The Huffington Post

This summer, The Huffington Post was running a series on "what autism looks like for different families." I thought, "hey, I could write something!" so I emailed the editor with a proposal. She told me to get something to her by Monday, and I said I would.

A day early, I submitted my piece and then...crickets. Nothing.

Was I too early? Did my email get lost? Was my writing bad? Did they not like it? Hellllloooo?

Still, I sat tight and waited. Then I found this post, about how Autistic voices were not getting published on the HuffPo, and my heart sank.

So I decided to write them and just ask them, pointing them to the above accusation. I watched my email get opened repeatedly all morning (I have tracking software that tells me when an email has been opened), so I knew they were reading it. Finally, I got a response saying they were sorry for the delay and they take such accusations very seriously, and of course, all voices are welcome.

That afternoon, I got access to their submission back end and was able to upload my article that night.

Then I waited...and waited...and waited...

(Understandable of course. I've submitted my writing to other sites before and the turnaround for editing can take months depending on the site and how many submissions they receive. It's not personal!)

Finally, the editor wrote me directly to let me know my post was up! And there you have it. My first post for The Huffington Post.

So my advice if you want to write for them as well:

1) Get to know the editor of the section you want to submit to. (I follow many editors on Twitter)
2) Read other posts in your section and learn their style. You'll get an idea of what works well for their readers.
3) Be patient! It takes time for editors to get to all submissions, so cut them some slack.
4) If you're not sure about something or where you stand in line, just ask! Things do get lost in the shuffle at times and rather than stewing about it, just check in and see how things are going.
5) Wait some more!
I think I waited about two months total from submission to publishing, so don't despair!