Responding to Autism’s Surprises

Dec 16, 2014 by

We are forever learning to be better parents to our children, and that is not different when parenting a child with special needs.  Occasionally, someone from Sage’s school will ask if we have any tips to respond to a certain trigger or behavior, and outside of bonding over our shared helplessness, at times we’ve got nothing.  Sometimes we wing it, probably more often than we would like.  While there are certain things we can prepare for, there are always surprises.

half donna and kids

1. The unexpected loud space:  If we know we’re headed somewhere over-stimulating, we’ll throw a pair of earmuffs or headphones in a purse “just in case.”  Yet, there are places we know we don’t need them.  Enter mistake number one.  Church is a place that isn’t “too loud.”  Well, until last weekend.  No ear muffs.

Growing Pains: Our Very Own Sitcom

Dec 2, 2014 by

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My obsession with 80’s comedies lives on. I admit to watching a lot of television growing up and as an adult I appreciate the value of ‘wrapping up’ life’s problems in thirty minutes with commercials. Growing Pains was a fan favorite and I freely admit to wishing our parenting problems could be so easily resolved with canned laughter.

As our daughter grows up and reaches new developmental milestones, we often take a step or two back. In the past month, we have made some major decisions about her behavioral health and there are noticeable changes in how she relates to the world. She has been able to have whole conversations with back and forth exchanges of information, opinion, and humor. Our longest conversation lasted over a half an hour, long enough to forget the novelty of communicating with our youngest child.

“Are you a parent or a professional?”

Nov 4, 2014 by


“Are you a parent or a professional?” I was asked several times at the ASRC Autism Services and Resource Connecticut Resource Fair this weekend. Good question. It’s like being asked if I’m black, gay, or a woman? How do I separate my identity?

If I was speaking with a parent, I noticed a change in expression and body language. “Yes, my six-year old daughter was diagnosed at two-and-a half.” In the few interactions I had, this opened the door to sharing information and a rather honest conversation. As I moved throughout the crowd, I felt connected to others, a feeling I seldom have as a parent.

Riding through the Rough Patches

Oct 14, 2014 by

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We’re going through a couple of rough patches with both kids.  They’re both having a tough time adjusting to their new grade levels.  Our daughter’s behavioral outbursts are escalating.  She’s spent a lot of time with substitutes and we just learned that today her teacher will be switched due to another teacher’s very untimely transfer to a different school.  Autism, ADD and constant change is now equaling nervous moms every morning when we wave to her on the bus.

Our son is experiencing more anxiety than I’m comfortable with about school, and it’s not about his ability to learn.  He’s an award-winning rule follower (when not at home).  He’s a dynamite kid but the pressure he puts on himself to have flawless behavior in school is intense.

Put these two together and this means more phone calls from the school than I ever wanted in their entire elementary education, a care conference promotion to an early PPT and more bedtime pep-talks than I know how to manage creatively.

My Sage

Jul 29, 2014 by

With a diagnosis of Autism we wondered what we might do to help “treat” you or lessen the “symptoms.”  You showed us with your love of life and your buoyancy through tough moments that you didn’t need changing. We read stories from parents, from adults and teens with Autism, from professionals, and we wondered if we could lessen your pain, since it seems to permeate so many stories we heard.  Your smile and your laughter assured us that you are not their stories, but your own; full of delight, wonder and joy. I wanted to coax you out of your shell as if you were a turtle, and you showed me that you are a lion – r-o-a-r, a ballerina, and a superhero, but a turtle you have never been. 2014-07-20 13.23.29 I wanted to introduce you to life, instead you brought me to mine. On a slow hike through the woods you find the letters “F” and the “Y” in the sticks and leaves you bring me to hold.

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