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I am the crazy mom of five boys.  Four of my five boys are on the autism spectrum. Neuro-Diversity rocks!!!  I cook, I clean, I blog, I breathe.  Yup that is about it.  If you want to catch a glimpse of our crazy world you are more than welcome but don't say I didn't warn you.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Glimpses of Skiff: At a Loss For Words

Glimpses of Skiff: At a Loss For Words: Words, I have a deep and abiding love for words....all words.  Words and I have been best friends for as long as I can remember.  My mother...

At a Loss For Words

Words, I have a deep and abiding love for words....all words.  Words and I have been best friends for as long as I can remember.  My mother often talks about just how early words found me.  Well before I was one year old, I could string together a conversation or ten.  From that point on, words and I have seldom been parted; even sleep isn't enough to separate us, much to the chagrin of any who has shared a room with me.
Indeed, I love everything about words; the musical lilt of the vowels and consonance as they trip off the tongue, the little shiver that runs down my spine when the words meet to form a perfect, balanced and beautiful sentence.  Their poignant beauty when put to music, the almost super human ability they bestow upon me to express anything from the most mundane thought to the complexity of the human heart and experience.
My friend, Words, and I have experienced everything together: my first haircut, my first lost tooth, my first day at school, my last day at school, my wedding day, death, the birth of my children ( I had many LOUD words to say during deliveries).  Words have stood by me through depression, diagnosis, accomplishments and boredom.  Words have been there whether I was in a crowd or all alone.  Always, for every situation, there have  been words.
But what happens when the words stop? What happens when you are in a situation that not only steals your breath but it steals your voice too; when no matter how hard you try there are no words to cry, to scream, to whisper......there are just no words?

This is the deepest grief for me.  Grief that has clawed my soul so deeply that it has stolen not only my voice but also my vocabulary.  To be fair, this grief is not a new grief; it has lived with me for a long time.  In fact, it has resided in my heart so long that it has managed to numb me to almost all other sadness. This grief has burrowed so deeply that I was unaware that it was slowly and insidiously taking away my ability to vocalize it, one word at a time.  I didn't know that if you grieve long enough, you can burn out your soul. I didn't know that you become so numb that you cease to feel the grief at all.  It isn't as though I have lived in a place of sadness or depression.  I have faced life rather pragmatically; just absorbing the punches, accepting each new tragedy, diagnosis, and trauma as it came.   But every camel has one last straw that will break it's back, every bowl has a point at which it will overflow, and every heart has a point at which it can not handle one more loss.  That is where I am now.   Last week I met the diagnosis that broke me.  It isn't a life threatening diagnosis but it is one that no parent ever wants to hear.  I had even been prepared that this was a possibility.  I had accepted the warning in my usual pragmatic way. I decided if this illness should make it's way to our doorstep, I would handle it as I had every other diagnosis that came our way.  I would figure it out and do what needed to be done.
Then the day came, the doctor spoke the words and then I broke; my breath caught and suddenly my words were gone.  I sit here today, typing word after word ,and yet taken on their own or in their entirety, they cannot begin to convey anything.  My heart has been poured out, wrung out, used up and now lays crumpled in a dusty corner.  I cry empty tears that don't grieve. I say empty words that don't communicate. I eat food that no longer tastes. I laugh joyless laughter.
This is what it is to burn-out on grief.  This is what it is to lose your words.  This is what brokenness truly feels like.
I have the truest of friends who are worried for me. I have a loving husband that doesn't know how to comfort me; there is no comfort for
a heart that grief has used up and burned out.  I start therapy next week.  I have meds.  I have no desire to hurt myself or anyone else.  I just have nothing left to give, not even words.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Glimpses of Skiff: Teens, Autism and Sex

Glimpses of Skiff: Teens, Autism and Sex: Skiffdom, once a land of mud ball fights, Lego towers, plastic dinosaurs and hyper little boys has been transformed.  Now the Lego'...

Teens, Autism and Sex


Skiffdom, once a land of mud ball fights, Lego towers, plastic dinosaurs and hyper little boys has been transformed.  Now the Lego's stay in big plastic bins, the roars of toy dinosaurs have been drowned out by the battle-cries of video game heroes and playing with mud balls has been traded in for playing with a very different kind of balls.
Yes, Skiffdom is now a land of teenage boys.  My house constantly reeks of testosterone, apathy and frustrated sex drives.  The average teen boy thinks about sex once every 15 seconds.  That means in my house, during any given minute of the day, there are at least 20 separate sex related thoughts going on.  That's 1200 sex thoughts an hour; 14,400 sex thoughts on any given 12 hour day.  And that's not counting if my husband or I happen to be in a frisky mood.
With all these hormones flying around, I don't have the luxury of pussy footing (no pun intended) around the awkward conversations.  Here we talk about sex.  We talk about sex a lot.  We have blatant, in your face conversations about any and all things sexual.  If they have a question, I answer it.  If I think it's important, we talk about it, more than once.
Here are some examples of conversations we've had:
What a woman's body looks like, the names of it's parts and how they function. We are a family of all boys here, they just didn't know.  My oldest thought they way you could tell a boy from a girl was that all boys have scars by their right eyes (he has a small scar by his right eye therefore all boys must. Autism brain in action) .  I had no idea that's what he thought until at ten he was explaining to his brother's how to tell a boy cat from a girl cat.
How a man's body functions.  Just because they have the equipment doesn't mean that they understand how it all works.  My youngest thought his testicles where where his liver was located.  His brother's straightened that one out before I could say a word.  He still hasn't lived it down.
Who can they appropriately be interested in and pursue?  Most of my boys are emotionally and socially delayed . However, they are not physically delayed.  That means that although they have the emotional understanding of someone 5 years younger, they have the raging hormones of a typical teen boy their age.  As teens on the spectrum age, one of the largest dangers they face is getting involved physically or via the internet with someone too young for them.  Remember, many spectrum kids are socially and emotionally delayed.  Therefore, the people they relate to, consider their peers, and are often attracted to, are much younger.   For this reason, it is imperative as parent of spectrum teens, we blatantly spell out who it is appropriate and who it is not appropriate to be in a relationship with.  I made it simple, I told them until both they and the person they like are over 18, they cannot date or look at anyone even one year younger than them.
That sounds harsh and unrealistic but too many of our autistic young men are getting arrested for child pornography and having inappropriate relationships (either online or in person) with people too young for them.  Parents it is on us to protect not only our children but the children our kids may be attracted to.  We do this by teaching our children what is appropriate sexual behavior.  Teaching our kids about sex is just like teaching our kids about anything else; ambiguity, euphemisms, and expecting them to pick up on the social cues around them will only confuse them.  We must be clear, concise, detailed and accurate in our teaching.
Appropriate times and places to masturbate.  Yes, after some uncomfortable experiences, this was a conversation that took place.  Most teens are embarrassed at even the mention of masturbation.  However, kids with autism don't always have that natural shyness when it comes to personal behaviors.   A lot of that embarrassment or  even shame is picked up via the social cues that our kids miss.  So yes, having a frank conversation on when and where can be beneficial to all parties and save everyone an awkward encounter.  Also, as a side note, you may want to explain that your face cream is not to be used as a personal lubricant........ I learned that one the hard way.   Tissues and some big pump bottles of inexpensive lotion are your friends.  Just saying
Porn is not reality.  Yup I'm going there.  You may think your child has not been exposed to pornography but I can almost guarantee you that you are wrong.  From kids at school showing porn to each other on their phones to the personal computer you think you have completely locked down to Netflix to the old fashioned magazines at the convenience store.  Your kids have and will see porn.  So talk about it.  They need to know what they see portrayed on the screen is not what sex is really like.  They need to know that most of those women have had cosmetic work done, that men's erections don't last that long in real life, that porn stars inject their penises to maintain an erection.  They need to know that anal sex is painful for most girls and not what they should expect.  That  their first sexual experiences will not be what porn shows them.  They need to be told these things because our kids first exposure to sex is not what we experienced.  Hardcore porn that we would have had little access to is common place.  Talk to your kids.  Be real with them.  I caught one of mine watching porn and I made him start it over and watch it with me.  I pointed out all the the ways this was not real sex.  Yes, he was mortified and I probably scarred him for life but I know that we have talked about it.  We only got about 5 minutes in before I gave in to his pleas for mercy and turned it off.
How to properly apply a condom. And all manner of safe sex talks.  Yes, we teach our kids about abstinence but I also fully inform them about how to be safe if they choose to have sex.  When it comes down to it, we do not control the choices our kids make about sex.  We can only prepare them to the best of our ability.  Part of that preparation is a full understanding of sexually transmitted diseases, birth control, condoms, and the importance of practicing safe sex if they choose to be sexually active.
No means no. This one is self explanatory but it has to be taught, over and over again.  No means no, all the time, any time.  No means no if your date has said yes but changed her mind halfway through.  No means no if you've had sex in the past.  No means no if your partner is too drunk to understand yes.....even if she is saying yes at the time.  No means no, no matter what she's wearing or how she's walking or what time of the night it is.  No means no.
Sexual Identity.  I had one of my sons come to me and say he thought he may be bi-sexual.  I told him that I loved him and would provide him any and all information on living a safe sex life as a bi-sexual.  It turned out this was just an experimental phase for him.  But being open and allowing him the freedom to express what he was thinking and feeling at the time, without judgement was very important.  He now knows without a doubt, that I love him no matter what his sexuality and that I will stand beside him whatever choices he makes.
These are just a few of the conversations we have had here in Skiffdom.   These conversations are not always these drawn out serious things.  Often they are short little talks as we are running errands.  And more often than not, they are hilarious.  I'm going to end with one of the hilarious conversations my boys had on the way home from the store.- Kristine

Boy 1 (being silly): I am a being of pure energy. I bring enlightenment wherever I go.
Boy 2: You would never survive life like that. You wouldn't be able to touch yourself. We all know you can't go more than a few hours without masturbating.
Boy 1:I'd have tons of energy sex.
Boy 2: So you're a Q?
Boy 1: I don't have sex with Androids. I have standards.
Boy 2: Dude, you shame this family! Q's aren't androids, They're beings of pure energy. Go re-watch all the Star Trek's. You've brought us all nerd mortification.
Boy 1: If they're pure energy how do you know what kind of sex they have?
Boy 2: Because they take on human form so that people can comprehend them. Then they have sex like this (Alex holds out one finger on each hand and touches them together.)
Boy 2: The Q have sex in the ET position.
Boy 1: So when ET wants to phone home he's just horny?



Sunday, July 16, 2017

Glimpses of Skiff: Decorate the Butterfly

Glimpses of Skiff: Decorate the Butterfly: I am itchy, restless.  The winds of change have blown and permanently changed me.  I am no longer the woman I was 5 years ago or eve...

Decorate the Butterfly


I am itchy, restless.  The winds of change have blown and permanently changed me.  I am no longer the woman I was 5 years ago or even 12 months ago.
My passions have changed, my heart beats with new purpose.  
My soul has been set free, no longer bound by the ropes of legalism and religiosity.  
I am ready to soar, to shout my transformation from the rooftops.
I am the butterfly fully formed, struggling to break free of it's chrysalis.
I am changed yet I look the same.    I need to be free of the woman I have always been.  I want others to see me as I am now, not as who I used to be. 
Do I radically change my hair, an extreme hair style and/or color? 
Do I get that tattoo I've designed on my arm with a sharpie a thousand times?
A new piercing?  
I don't know.  But I do know that I am no longer comfortable in my own skin.  I've never felt this way before.  Even when I hated my body it was my weight that I hated.   This isn't like that at all.  I actually love my body now.  I love my face, my legs, my hips, my breasts; whatever their current size.  No, this is something different.  I don't hate the way I look, I just feel like I've outgrown my current skin.  I am new wine in an old, dried out wineskin.  I am me but I am not.  This is a very strange feeling.  
So here is the fun part, I am coming to you, my readers and friends for ideas on what I should do to make this outside look like the new inside.  Help me decorate my new butterfly wings.  Leave a comment with your suggestions.  
This is me, as I am now.  Now give me all your ideas for a new me make-over friends.  Once I take the plunge, I will post an updated photo.  The only request that I have is that the suggestions be appropriate for this public forum. And go!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Glimpses of Skiff: Killing the Jackass in my Head

Glimpses of Skiff: Killing the Jackass in my Head: Merriam Webster's Dictionary defines a jackass as such: Jackass-1. donkey; especially: a male donkey              2. a stupid pers...

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