Bustling on Every Imaginable Level

We are coming off one of the busiest two weeks of all time, which is why I haven't been present in this particular blogspace much -- I've been bustling on every imaginable level, dabbling in surreality such as getting quoted in the Wall Street Journal on my birthday (the digital edition goes up a day early, and there's video of Leelo in the attached Digits interview). It is odd and overwhelming and wonderful too.

Cowboy & Wills: A Love StoryI also interviewed Monica Holloway, author of a book I frequently recommend: Cowboy and Wills.* Her story recounts her son's struggles with autism and severe anxiety, the variety of approaches she explored, and the successes Wills continues to enjoy due to his and his team's hard work. I wasn't able to include all of our conversation in the BlogHer interview -- Monica is a charming conversationalist, and we talked for a long time. But her pointers, the ways she and her son's longtime therapist came up with to help ease Wills through transitions and other manifestations of his anxiety, are worth your time. It's especially warming to hear how beautifully Wills is doing now that he is thirteen, approaching puberty, and a self-taught and very successful baseball player. Even though Wills and Leo are so different, I tend to feel that any one of our kids' successes is a victory for us all. I'd like to thank Monica for sharing her story, and encourage you to leave a comment if you feel the same way.

I also wrote a guest post for SFGate, by invitation of Laura Shumaker, about an incident in which Leo accidentally touched the ass of a lady in a video store without me noticing -- and how badly both she and I reacted. Mostly, I want a do-over so I could calmly ask that lady exactly how Leelo touched her, explain that he has autism and that it was unintentional, and apologize -- even though she was rude -- because we are supposed to be ambassadors for our children and loved ones with autism when they aren't able to fill that role themselves. I'm fascinated by the range of reactions to the post -- the comments on the original article come from both inside and outside the autism community, and range from pleasant to dickheaded, ignorant to supportive. The comments on Laura's own Facebook page are varied but mostly warm and understanding. Then Autism Speaks shared the post on their Facebook wall (scroll down) which has generated more than 100 comments, from varied perspectives. Again, fascinating.

Our lives have been wacky-busy outside the computer as well. I don't know if I can even remember everything! Um. SEPTAR put on a great presentation on incorporating music into your child's therapy and life, including segments from Radiolab's episode on musical language. Leelo's such a musical boy, it shouldn't have surprised me how many of the therapist's suggestions we were already applying, such as singing Leo through scripted transitions, and using mnemonic devices to help him remember words and phrases. But I'd like to see if she can work with Leo, perhaps arranging musical lessons with his sisters to give them an activity they can all participate in and enjoy.

Speaking of his sisters and music, Iz slam-dunked her several-degrees-harder than previous years science test, on cell biology -- in part through cell processes songs that she and her friends made up. She also did a lot of studying via IM, which made Seymour dubious -- but she asked him to let her try it, and if it didn't work, she wouldn't use it for the next test. Let's just say that she couldn't have received a better grade, so Seymour is convinced. Iz is currently in love with amoebas and determined to be a microbiologist.

We spent the past weekend with our dear, dear, dear friends Floyd and TLF, who flew most of the way across the country to celebrate TLF's 40th birthday with us, bringing their extra-cute Talia the four-year-old towhead along. She and Mali were desperately in love with each other's playtime presence, and refused to be separated during waking hours. Even when Jennyalice's Lucy joined them on a Floyd attack:

This week was also the fruition of several weeks' worth of long, long days for Iz: her school put on a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, relocated to a high school -- with five Pucks! -- in which Iz played the head fairy/cheerleader. MND is probably the most audience- and young-actor-friendly Shakespeare play to begin with, but Iz and her friends were also really good -- especially the eighth-grader who played Bottom.

TLF and I spent a joint-birthday Saturday near Sebastopol at Osmosis spa, getting our heads heat-fried and our hard drives wiped -- we emerged as entirely new people. If you're ever in the area and want a transformative massage, I recommend Joe H. at Osmosis, highly. And of course we went to Willow Wood afterwards, where I managed to not treat my bowl of polenta with goat cheese at though it were a trough. Barely. (TLF and I were extremely grateful to Floyd & Seymour for watching all of those children so we could have a day out together.)

TLF and Floyd are former Deadwood residents, so there was a trip to Suraj as well, of course. Mali & Talia turned all available placemats into works of art. I particularly like this one, which is an alien family with a pet "mummy bird." I swear, if I had time, Mali could have a very busy Zazzle store -- her artwork is consistently zany and awesome.

More posts coming, soon. Leelo and Mali have both found lots of new apps that they like and keep returning to, plus Mali's been given a couple of excellent books she wants to share. And don't forget to visit The Thinking Person's Guide to Autism -- the phenomenal posts keep coming, though we've moved to a M-W-F posting schedule so we can actually get the book done.

I'm off to take the kids to our annual pumpkin patch excursion. I am grateful that the weather deities listened to my pleas, and turned off the heavenly taps so we could pick pumpkins under blue skies, instead of this past weekend's rain sheets.

How has your busy been?


*Disclosure: Monica's publicist sent me a copy of Cowboy and Wills several months ago, but I initated the author interview. All stated opinions re: Monica's book are my own.


  1. re: dickhead woman--the minute she heard the word autism, she should have joined you in trying to reassure Lelo. that is all. I am a non-autism community woman, and even i know that. i live in fear that i will scare a kid on the spectrum inadvertantly with my schoolmarmish ways--we have access to the IEPs and 504s, etc. and somehow are supposed to be familiar with them, but I have 600+ students, and so that is just another unrealistic expectation ghat they will someday trip me up on. :(
    re: mali's art--i can only wish some of my students had her gifts--and i mean the 5th graders!

  2. I haven't been as busy! No quotes from me in the WSJ! LOL!

    It sounds like you've been having a fabulous couple of weeks! Cool!

  3. Hi e -- it's some SFGate commenters who are dickheaded rather than the woman in the story. She was just rude. I keep telling myself I could have made things OK if I'd kept my temper in check. Instead I pissed her off further and she didn't learn anything. Not ideal. You're already aware -- your kids are lucky. :)

    Cheryl - this is not my normal, you know that. Hope you find some fabulous in your life, too.


Respectful disagreement encouraged.