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On LIFE AT 30 & BEYOND: kids, family, men, BOOKS, cars, pets, tattoos...NASCAR, Aspergers/Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Virtual/Home Schooling, teenagers, Navy Mom...




Thursday
Apr092015

Autism Awareness: 250 Words

This is Our Autism (in 150 words):


Our 14-year-old son was diagnosed with Asperger’s/Autism Spectrum Disorder when he was nine years old. Our Autism is a Superpower, although it definitely has its (social, sensory and communication) challenges.

Our son is brilliant, but quirky; interesting and extraordinary. He has a great sense of humor, but he is very shy. He is a techie genius--loves computers, technology, programming and video games, and lights up about his strengths and interests. He is extremely helpful with anything computer-related.

We worry about our Autism future and independence. The world does not always appreciate quirky. We know, with the right encouragement, resources and support, with a pathway, our son will be completely self-sufficient. We know he fits in the tech world, that he will be happy and productive in a technical, creative environment.

We often worry about how to help him get there.

99(+1) Words about LiveCode, Indiegogo and Empowering Autism Through Coding:


THIS. This is what we need, for our techies with Autism: LiveCode, with support from international autism organizations, will provide an extensive online training program to help young adults on the autism spectrum develop employment skills in programming.

I encourage anyone to consider this worthy project for donation to support Autism. Please share the message and encourage your friends, family and network to get involved. Contribute and participate, if you have or know a young person on/near the autism spectrum. $99 is a very small contribution toward independence.

(Thanks!)

Also see: CNNMoney: Teaching Autistic Kids to Code
Thursday
Apr092015

Autism Awareness - For My Teenager

Autism Awareness - For My Teenager
by Sherri Caldwell - Asperger's Parent, Author and Learning Coach

I am Aware. As a teacher, as a writer and researcher, as Mom to a brilliant 14-year-old son diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome six years ago (now included as an Autism Spectrum Disorder/ASD), I am hyper-aware of the differences, challenges, and unique blessings of Autism. It is a vast spectrum of ability and disability, and there is enormous controversy and fierce debate within the Autism community, and those trying to help. I am Aware.

At first, I didn’t understand how closely we were aligned with the members of the Autism community. After the initial four-year struggle through public school, after a cursory diagnosis of ADHD and two years testing medications and behavioral strategies, none of which worked to resolve anxiety, frustration, regressive communication and social skills, and spectacular school-day-ending meltdowns... after all of that, my son was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Boom.

“Is that a degenerative condition?”
We naively and fearfully asked, when it was first suggested by the school psychologist, after several years of exhaustive evaluation. I think she may have mentioned it was on the Autistic Spectrum, but at the time, the roaring of the ocean in my head drowned out everything else, along with any clear memory of the other details of that meeting. From there, I started researching. I read everything I could get my hands, library access or internets on about Asperger’s Syndrome, and how this fit my son, how it explained so much, and how it changed our lives, as we came to understand our brilliant, but quirky and extraordinary kid.

Six years later, our then-little third grader is a six-foot, fourteen-year-old ninth grader in high school. He has been in and out of public and private schools, both traditional brick and mortar and virtual public charter school online at home. He has done well-- he is an A/B student, but he does not like school. Our current educational system, even with Special Education and IEP/504 services, does not have the flexibility, understanding, training, resources or support to help these amazing kids succeed on their own terms, embracing their tremendous strengths and abilities.

In many ways, we celebrate Asperger's/ASD as a Superpower. This kid is scary smart: technical, logical, detail-oriented, he is amazing on the computer and with anything to do with technology. He is a gamer, of course. He has a great sense of humor, an insatiable curiosity, intense focus and fascination with a wide variety of topics, especially technology. He interacts online with friends and acquaintances all over the world. He likes structure and routine, he likes peace and quiet, and while he generally prefers to be safe at home, he will venture out for family adventures and activities. He likes going out for meals, and road trips, and he really, really likes vacations on big cruise ships. In his element, I tend to forget about the Asperger’s, what some people call High-Functioning Autism. But it only takes a few minutes in the confusion and chaos of the outside world, for his differences, his anxiety and communication challenges, to become painfully obvious. This is Autism, out in the real world.

This is his future. We know our child has the potential for independent living; he will be fine, on his own terms. But with structured support and training in an area in which he is truly gifted and highly interested—he could be the next Bill Gates, or Steve Jobs, the Facebook guy or Elon Musk. He is a techie geek with some social deficits.

What my son -- and others like him -- needs to succeed, to find his passion, develop his career possibilities, and achieve happiness and independence, is an opportunity to learn valuable skills in a supportive environment, structured to embrace his strengths.

We have an amazing opportunity to provide job skills, career potential and future independence in a highly supportive environment, with the technology company Live Code and their April 2015 Indiegogo campaign, Empower Individuals With Autism Through Coding:
Together with LiveCode, the National Autistic Society, Specialisterne & Autism Initiatives, our goal is to train 3000 young adults on the autism spectrum, across the world, how to code. We will provide an extensive training program with specialist support to help these young adults develop employment skills or gain self-employment in the app business.

I hope you will join me in supporting Empowering Autism Through Coding in every way you can: by donating to support Autism; by sharing the message and encouraging your friends, family, and network to get involved; by participating, if you have or know a young person on/near the Autism Spectrum.



Thursday
Apr092015

Asperger's Syndrome & A New Normal (2010)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Logging into my blog account today, I was shocked to discover...
it has been many weeks, months, in fact, since I have finished and published a blog article on RebelHousewife.com. Oh, I've started many thoughts, on paper, on post-its, in my head, in TextEdit and Word. There are several waiting patiently on the blog as "unpublished" -- wonderful starts about kids, Aspergers Syndrome, homeschooling (kind of), the teenager, the learner's permit (driving?!) and banishing the XBOX 360 from our home. There are others about books, events, recipes and cost-cutting strategies for family financial survival in tough times.

I seem to have a problem, of late, finishing what I start. I've never been a non-closer before and yet here I am...

It has been an eventful couple of months.

I actually logged on today to write a thought about Iceland and Vanity Fair and NPR, volcanoes and economic meltdowns and such, only to make this horrifying discovery. I am going to finish this, and fix the Twitter link on the website and then maybe I can get back to that thought about Iceland...

And maybe that's the answer. Why can't I finish anything I start lately? Maybe it's because, every time I start something, something else comes along to take my attention and focus. The constant distractions of life with a busy entrepreneurial husband, three children and Mocha-the-dog. I don't work outside the home. I can't imagine how I would. We no longer have the big house or yard to manage, having downsized to our midtown condo and our one-mile live-work-school-play radius (and loving it!). What excuse could I possibly have to be such a slacker?

We started this school year with three kids in three different schools: 15yo Puberty Angst Boy in 9th grade at the high school; 12yo Drama Queen in 7th grade at the middle school; and 9yo ADHD Phenom started the year in 4th grade at the brand-new elementary school.

Ah, there's another clue to what's happened: Turns out, our very bright, very ACTIVE 9yo ADHD Phenom is not ADHD at all (okay, well, that's a whole 'nother start that I do need to finish, kind of controversial). He has Asperger's Syndrome, which is high-functioning Autism, so he is our 9yo Aspy Phenom. Not a lot of people know what that is, or have any idea what Asperger's Syndrome is (we didn't), so I have some explaining and education to do on that point, I know.

But before I can explain, educate or crusade for a better understanding of Asperger's Syndrome, I needed to understand it better myself and live with it for a while.

* * An aside: If you are at all interested in Asperger's Syndrome, please read the wonderful letter Especially for Grandparents of Children With Asperger Syndrome by Nancy Mucklow. It is appropriate and highly relevant for anybody close to or in the life of a child diagnosed with Asperger's.

So what happened next: In January, we brought the 9yo Aspy Phenom home. The brand-new public school was on a shake-down cruise, getting all of their new-school processes, programs and procedures worked out. We were on our own shake-down cruise, trying to figure out and adjust to this new information and really-quite-remarkable aspect of our son -- finally, we had understandings and strategies that were actually working and helping him, whereas the ADD strategies -- including the medication he was on for more than two years -- never served him well. The school couldn't keep up, couldn't meet his needs academically or provide the structure and stability he needed.

He now attends school from home, although he is not technically a "home schooler." We enrolled him in 4th grade in the Georgia Cyber Academy (GCA), an online public charter school supported by the Georgia Department of Education. As a public school, the schedule and curriculum is established and GCA provided everything we need to attend school from home: books, workbooks, novels, math manipulatives, even all of the materials needed for science experiments! We have a teacher we work with, mostly online, who monitors progress and administers his IEP (yet another complicated issue for another time). We have an abundance of opportunities for social interaction, with field trips and meet-ups and activities all over, all the time.

And there it is: I haven't been able to finish a thought in months, or devote the time I used to have to lose myself in reading, researching, writing, reviewing or blogging, because I am teaching and experiencing the 4th grade all over again with my 9yo Aspy Phenom. It has been amazing -- not EASY, as this has been a HUGE adjustment for both of us and for the entire family. It has been a very challenging transition, but worth it to have the time and opportunity to work with and get to know this brilliant child.

Now then, that's not such a bad reason to be a slacker, after all.
I'm glad I was able to finish that thought.
I am hoping there will be more!
Monday
Feb092015

101 Sexy & Fun Love Notes - FREE eBook (until 2/15/15)!

On the occasion of Valentine’s Day 2015 and the launch of a new ebook series:
The Rebel Housewife: Survival Guides (Surviving Happily Ever After!) with
101 Sexy & Fun Love Notes:
Romantic Tips & Tricks to FIRE UP the Passion & Romance in Your Relationship!


* * * Available FREE on Amazon Kindle, beginning Tue, Feb 10th – Sat, Feb 14th * * *



Well, with all THAT going on, it has given me pause to reflect on love and romance and relationships... and marriage. It seems incredible and weird and unbelievable that I can say: Prince Charming and I have been married for TWENTY-SIX years -- wow -- and still going strong!

Yes, we started off very, very young: I was just 20 and he was 22. It doesn't even seem like that could be possible, then or now -- we're still way too young to be married that long, unruly silver hair (mine) and the accumulation of love and good food (about 20lbs for both of us), notwithstanding.

I have been married now for longer than I was not.

In the beginning, I was the Other Girl and he was the Wrong Boy -- according to my mother, anyway. I liked the motorcycle and his 'Bohemian' lifestyle (living on ramen and mac & cheese on his buddies' laundry porch -- one guy lived on the pool table). We quickly disentangled ourselves from other relationships in the face of destiny and enjoyed our very own Summer of Love after my high school graduation in 1985. I was very young, at 17, and it took me a year or two to settle down and commit to monogamy long-term, with enough first-year-college experience and variety to know he was The One. I never expected it to happen so early, but we both just knew (and we were right!).

We married on August 6, 1988, in a garden courtyard on a threatening-to-be-rainy day at our beloved Manor Farm Inn in Poulsbo, Washington, and the Adventure(s) began...

More than a quarter-century and three nearly-grown children later, it still seems so new, to my constant amazement. We still love each other, more every day, and we still like each other, too. I keep thinking, twenty-five-plus years into this, I should have some wisdom, the benefit of happily-ever-after experience, advice to share; besides, you know, marry young and basically Imprint on each other.

People ask us the secret to a long and happy relationship?

For us, it's all about new Adventures and the appreciation of Magical Moments; to create a life in which there are many of each. It keeps us together, always wondering (in a good way): What's next?!

As for advice, back to basics, the foundation:
The Rebel Housewife: Survival Guides (Surviving Happily Ever After!)
101 Sexy & Fun Love Notes:
Romantic Tips & Tricks to FIRE UP the Passion & Romance in Your Relationship
.

* * * Available FREE on Amazon Kindle, beginning Tue, Feb 10th – Sat, Feb 14th * * *

"The 101 Love Notes in this ebook are 'quickie' ideas -- fun, easy, realistic, and, in most cases, FREE!!! -- a starting place to spark your sexy, tickle your imagination and creativity, rev up your sense of fun and adventure, and help you develop, with your lover, a lifestyle of romance and passion."

Whether you've been together two years, or twenty, or just starting out, 101 Sexy & Fun Love Notes has something for everyone.

Please take advantage of the Valentine's Day Launch Promotion and download the ebook FREE on Amazon Kindle, February 10th - 14th. (If you don't have a Kindle, you can download a FREE Kindle Reader App for your computer, tablet, or smartphone on Amazon -- a link to do that is at the top of the 101 Sexy & Fun Love Notes page on Amazon.)

Read, enjoy, have fun -- freely share this article, or the Facebook posts and Tweets that will be coming out over the next few days, for Valentine's Day -- and, if you would, please take the time to rate the ebook and write a little review on Amazon.com. That would be AWESOME.

Live, Love, Laugh & LIGHT IT UP -- HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!!!



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Tuesday
Apr292014

Escape From Suburbia


ESCAPE FROM SUBURBIA
by Sherri Caldwell - The Rebel Housewife®
http://www.rebelhousewife.com


The suburbs offered one form of happily-ever-after; but, at a certain point, we had to get out.

As far as suburbs go, "Stepford of the South" was very nice: big houses, two-and-even-three-car garages, enormous lawns. It was like having your own private park, front and back. Of course, the front yard was for show, purely ornamental. The back yard was for living.

Not that anyone wanted or needed privacy. Stepford was a community, a haven for People Like Us, with families and neighbors destined to become Friends For Life. It was written into the sales contract, and the neighborhood bylaws.

After all, we paid extra for upscale family storage. The corporate bosses of our hard-working commuter dads paid well to keep the family far enough away, with a large enough mortgage and household expenses, to ensure job dedication and healthy separation.

Every Monday, the husbands went to work. The children went to school. The wives kept house, shopped, socialized and maintained a busy schedule of community and school-related commitments, basically running the world from their designated PTA regiments.

In the afternoon, the children came home, briefly, and were then carpooled to their various activities. Dinner was inevitably a la drive-thru. The husbands came home late and scrounged for leftovers. Exhausted from the daily round, bedtime came early, after homework and school projects. Repeat through Friday.

The weekends were sacrificed to the Gods of Lawn Care-- Olympics-worthy competition amongst the men, all weekend, every weekend.

My Prince Charming became a commuting, work-in-the-city, weekend-lawn-warrior stranger. When I realized I was spending far more quality time with my crazy neighbor, a doctor’s wife, than my own husband, the suburban fairytale started to break down.

The big, roomy house with lots of space became too much to maintain, to clean, to keep track of young people and family pets. I realized I hadn’t seen my middle child for five years in this mausoleum.

As for the lawn... You know, the city offers and maintains municipal parks. They are generally bigger and better-equipped. And you don’t have to feed every random child who wanders through.

Friends For Life and People Like Us had been selling points, but who can stand their own company interminably, without any variety? We began to plot our escape. From Soccer Moms and Minivans, to the diversity of the city, where we belonged.

The stranger we called Daddy transformed from an exhausted commuter/weekend warrior to a healthy, happy and involved father who walks to work and is home every night for dinner. All of a sudden, he’s always there, where and when he hadn’t been before. While it takes some getting used to, we got out just in time.

--- Sherri Caldwell, The Rebel Housewife®, is an author, columnist and reviewer at www.RebelHousewife.com. After many years as a PTA Mom in the suburbs, she now lives happily-ever-after with her husband, three teenagers, and Mocha-the-Dog, in a midtown high-rise in Atlanta, Georgia.