Safe Passage, Revisited

I’ve made a new commitment to post regularly on this blog. 

It helps me to reflect on this whole “parenting a young man with autism” thing and to try to put into words what life is like around here. It doesn’t have to be pretty or perfectly phrased. It just needs to be written and posted.

I know this commitment will be hard to meet some weeks. When my son is having a rough time, I don’t feel much like writing. Or I suppose it’s more that I don’t feel much like sharing. 

But I’m hoping that even when it’s been “one of those weeks,” as it has, I’ll still find a way to keep this blog active. 

Today, it’s appropriate to focus on gratitude with the Thanksgiving holiday approaching, and with that, I’m grateful that I wrote this post five years ago so I can cheat a little bit and re-post it. 

A lot has changed in five years (from 13 to 18, wow, yes, there are changes), but the feelings described in this post remain true. Five years on, it’s more important than ever that we have family, friends, teachers, and others who support my son in the ways they do.  Read More


For What It’s Worth

So here it is February, and this is my first post of 2016.

That pretty much sums up life in this house lately.

Things have been so erratic and unpredictable around here, it’s hard to be an effective parent, much less write about it with any semblance of order or theme. Every day seems to bounce in a different direction than originally projected. When sleep is disturbed and his anxiety is high, I expect the worst; yet he laughs on through. Then, a day begins well enough for me to envision smooth sailing; yet by evening we’ve crashed and burned.

I’m finding it more and more difficult to write as a parent-blogger. I don’t write fast enough to keep up with the variations. I might start a post in the morning, and before it’s polished, the mood, the atmosphere, the energy has changed and whatever I thought I was going to say no longer feels authentic.

But this volatility is all authentic. This is what it feels like to parent this kid right now.

I have another draft almost ready to go, it’s just a short little nothing piece. An exercise to get back in the habit of writing, which I’ve been trying to do since the New Year began. But the winds shifted before that draft was ready to post, and now it may have to wait. Or join the others in the virtual scrap heap. It just doesn’t feel true at the moment.Death_to_stock_communicate_hands_2 Read More


Jiritsu [自立]. Independence. Self-reliance. Autonomy.

Standing in the small foyer of a restaurant in a rural area north of Nagasaki, Japan, I am trying not to cry. I am thousands of miles and many days away from my son, working hard to be a “real” person, a professional, to hold it together until I can get home. The little book in my hand threatens to crumble my resolve. Here, in a most unexpected place, my child speaks to me. cherryblossom When the opportunity arose to take this business trip to Japan, my little boy was nine years old, in the midst of a rough year at school and a full-time schedule of therapies designed to coax him out of silence and shore up his abilities to learn and do things on his own. How could I go? Twelve days? Overseas?

Yet, how could I not? My work as a researcher for an author writing a book about the atomic bombing of Nagasaki had been providing a part-time reprieve from my duties as a special needs mom, allowing me the precious gift of digging in to a project that was completely un-autism. The opportunity to accompany my boss to meet the survivors of the bombing, support her final interviews with them, and complete research at a few sites in this historic city? We had to make this happen. Besides, there is nothing like talking to people who lived through the horror of a nuclear bombing to put one’s own little problems into perspective.

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Opening Doors

[Writer’s note: This is one of the first full essays I wrote about my kid. It’s an old story from ten years back now, and is still one of my favorite memories.]

Standing on my back patio, I watch my five-year-old son through the sliding glass door. He bounces around the kitchen on his large blue exercise ball, happily unaware that he has just locked his mother out of the house.

Opening Doors_lockHe didn’t mean to lock me out. I stepped out—just for a moment—to throw something away, and I left the door open. Read More