How do you solve a problem like……

My Favorite Things

My Favorite Things

One of DC’s favorite musicals – and there are plenty- is the Sound Of Music.

He was introduced to the Sound Of Music by his cousin Erica, who gave him his first copy of the movie in VHS form when he was 6 or 7. I never imagined he would watch it, let alone learn every word to every song, but he did. It is still one of his favorites.

He has the DVDs, the soundtrack, the album insert,  books (which were not easy to find), Christmas ornaments, music box,  he dressed as “Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes”

Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes.

Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes.

for the “Sound Of Music Sing-A-Long” a few years back….. you get the picture…… he loves it.

Girls in white dresses...... Snowflakes.... Silver White Winters/Melt into Spring...... Favorite Things.....

Girls in white dresses…… Snowflakes…. Silver White Winters/Melt into Spring…… Favorite Things…..

***I am fortunate to have friends that are willing to go all out for something that DC loves so much; we all took a line from that song and dressed appropriately for the Sing-A-Long. He and his friends had a ball and I think after the initial embarrassment, my friends did as well.***

A few weeks ago I found myself being tortured with “The Sound of Music Live”**. My fault! I told him it was on! I then regretted that for the next 2 hours.  DC informed me over and over again that this was “Not Julie Andrews”, but he loved it anyway.

While I was trying to endure this version, my mind went back to DC’s time in the school system and more specifically, the mainstream portion of his time there……

….this is the way my mind works……

I am all for inclusion and mainstreaming, IF it is done properly. In Dc’s case, there were many battles over many years because it was not.

Just a few examples: His history class was studying Apartheid and DC was coloring pictures of Africa.

His history class was studying Nazi Germany and he was sent off to watch “The Sound of Music” (because that’s a true and complete picture of Nazi Germany) .

Inclusion? –  I don’t think so! I understand that these concepts were somewhat out of his reach, but if nothing else, shouldn’t this inclusion include social interaction with peers and some sort of participation in and with the class? How did they call this “Inclusion” when he was coloring in the back of the room or in another room watching an entirely different movie?

As we were watching “The Sound of Music Live” and singing “Edelweiss” together – as is mandatory, I remembered one teacher, years ago; his second grade teacher, Mrs. Fair* . She went out of her way to not only include DC in the class BUT, believe it or not, to also include the entire class in activities that DC enjoyed. She made him a part of this class. He was not an observer or off on the side lines, he was a part of the class.

I can give you many examples of the things she did to achieve this, but the one that came to mind that night was; She was aware of DC’s love for the “Sound Of Music” and his love for “Edelweiss”. She had the entire class learn all of the words to the song and once or twice a week, she and DC would lead the class in song. He loved it!  She made sure he was part of this class, she made sure his “inclusion” was not just one- sided, she made sure he was comfortable with his classmates and better yet, they were comfortable with him. He just adored her.

It is unfortunate that she was the exception and not the norm. He still remembers her all these years later and the Sound of Music is still one of his “Favorite Things”


*Name changed

**Yes, he is getting the DVD and soundtrack for Christmas, but he can watch/listen to it in his room

Paranoid?…. Who?…… Me????

One could (and would) say I am a little bit paranoid, just a tad…… especially when it comes to children. I drive myself crazy watching other people’s children. I’ve pulled drowning kids out of pools and lakes while their parents were not watching them, grabbed kids away from traffic, ledges or anything that may cause an injury, again while their own parents were not watching. When we go to a fair or some other type of event where there are a lot of people, there is a good chance I will be bringing a lost child to security or helping him/her find his/her parents. There’s more; but you get the picture. I can’t help this. I have always been like this. I have always said that I am just too paranoid to be anyone’s mother.

So why not give me a child with Autism…..

Welcome to a whole new level of paranoia…..

I was talking to my friend, Al at work last week. His son had just been sick; trip to the Emergency Room sick. He’s just fine now, but I can imagine how frightening it must have been at the time. This particular day was the day of his follow-up appointment. From there we moved on to the subject about his own paranoia. He insists on taking his kids to the doctor for everything (in his words). I get that! It’s always worth a trip to the doctor just to hear everything is all right than to continue to worry that a cold may not be just a cold…..just for the peace of mind. But he was beginning to feel that he was being overly protective.

Now believe me, he has heard plenty of my DC-obsessed stories before but I decided he needed to hear a few more.

I told him that when DC was little I would calculate the time that he would be alone until my ex got home from work if I dropped dead, “right now”.  I’d make sure there was nothing around that could hurt him if something like that were to happen. I had no reason to believe I’d be “dropping dead” at any time, but just in case, I had to be ready.  I forgot to tell him that I would also force myself to watch Rescue 911 (hosted by William Shatner) when DC was little and then have nightmares about all the horrible things that they showed. His father always asked why I insisted on watching a show that gave me nightmares. I told him that I was afraid that they would show some sort of dangerous situation that I hadn’t considered yet and I might miss something very important to DC’s safety  – There were actually a few accidents that I wouldn’t have come up with in my own head, believe it or not, unless I had seen the show. So there!

I also forgot to tell him about the time I called my poor sister-in-law at her cottage continuously because his father took him camping at the beach, near her cottage and didn’t call for two days! What if something happened to him and DC was in some tent on a beach of all places, by himself? – Fortunately his Dad’s sisters are used to me…..

I’ve been a single mother for 20 years now and I wouldn’t have it any other way, but being alone with a child with special needs can be, for me frightening at times. Anytime I am sick I wonder again, if I dropped dead “right now”, how long would it be before someone knows he’s alone? What would he do? Would he be safe until someone figures this out?  As you can see, it’s not the me “dropping dead” that I worry about, it is DC being by himself for who knows how long.

The final nugget from the “tales from the paranoid mother” for Al was to tell him that when DC was young and we went grocery shopping; he would get in the car, I would unload the groceries and then I would walk the 20 feet to put the cart back, in full view of the car. But I would be sure to leave his door wide open because if I happened to get hit by a car in those 20 feet (or drop dead), no one would know he was sitting in the car and I couldn’t say for sure that he would get out or let anyone know he was there. He could be sitting there for hours before someone notices. At least someone might wonder why there was a car door wide open in the parking lot and take a look inside.

– In any situation, I can come up with at least a dozen disaster scenarios.  I can and do make myself crazy over this child, but he’s worth every second of my the craziness.

Needless to say, Al went home that day feeling much better about himself.

He’s 22 and in case you were wondering.. I do still check to see if he’s breathing at night.

(We won’t talk about the 6 days with no power, no phone and no cell service during the snow-pocalypse a few years back………)