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Halloween ’17

November 1, 2017, 1:08 pm

After a combined 13 years as a parent, this was pretty much my first Halloween. By “combined 13,” I mean that I have an 8-year-old and a 5-year-old. And by “first Halloween,” I mean this was the first time that I did what I picture parents of “normal” kids doing. By the way, Halloween has long been my favorite holiday, I think mostly because I love the idea of identity fluidity, of putting on masks, of excuses to look at
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Dar’s 8th Birthday Party

October 25, 2017, 10:51 am

Birthdays matter. They pop up in fiction all the time, because they’re shorthand for “here’s a celebration and reminder of who this person is.” Most kids like thinking about birthday parties, even ones not their own, and it’s not just cake and games: they like celebrating their friends (and themselves) and reminding their friends (and themselves) who they are. But what if you don’t know it’s your birthday? Doesn’t that suggest that you can’t celebrate yourself or remind yourself who
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Dar’s birthday IEP 2017

October 18, 2017, 2:37 am

Uh, Dar had a birthday on Sunday. His IEP was Tuesday. I will have more to say about it next week.  Until then, I’m just going to knock your socks off with IEP verbiage. This is to make parents of kids with IEPs go “Oh, thank God I’m not alone” and parents of kids without IEPs go “Oh, thank God that’s not me.” Forthwith: FROM THE AAC SPECIALIST: [Dar] Smith-Rowsey is an engaging 7-year old boy enrolled in Ms. Anita’s
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Fire Interruption

October 11, 2017, 4:54 pm

This week’s normal blog entry about my life with my autistic child has been interrupted by the Atlas Fire, which CNN just called the most destructive wildfire in California’s history. A school where I teach has been turned into an evacuation center; my father’s retirement facility is on notice for evacuation. So I’ve been a bit distracted. Nonetheless, Dar’s IEP will happen this Tuesday, and I’ll probably have updates about that next week. Until then, here’s some autism news that
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When The iPad Locked Us All Out

October 4, 2017, 11:26 am

I don’t plan these weekly columns very far in advance. But if I did, I certainly wouldn’t have been planning to write about having to wipe down Dar’s iPad, restart his entire communication system, and begin rebuilding it from scratch. In the last 48 hours, I’ve spoken the following words so many times that it almost comes as a peculiar relief to type them. Monday, while at work at St. Mary’s College, I got an email from Dar’s special-needs supervisor
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They Can Take That Away From Me

September 27, 2017, 3:00 pm

When Dar first got his autism diagnosis, around age two, I said to myself: yeah, but no one can stop me from showing him the world. Whatever they may say, they can’t take that away from me. Turns out they can. Or at least, they can remove the joy of it. If I say “Dar look at that cow!” or “Dar look at that full moon!” or “Dar look at this beautiful canyon!” there is absolutely never any indication that
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A Garden Guardian?

September 20, 2017, 10:21 am

Sometimes it takes years for someone to point out something that, in retrospect, looks obvious. And with that epiphany, it’s like you’ve been living in a fog that has just lifted. That may have just happened yesterday. Maybe, maybe not. For the first time yesterday, I phoned in my presence on an IEP of Dar’s. (My phoning it in was not the epiphany.) My phone-presence was partly due to child-care arrangements, mostly because this wouldn’t be “the real IEP,” which
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IEP Prep, Sep 2017

September 13, 2017, 10:13 am

It’s autumn again, and parents everywhere have got their adorable progeny outfitted in the latest fashions, bedecked with brand-new school supplies, and situated to do writing that will reveal and indeed stimulate their remarkable growth and development. Uh, unless they’re a parent of a severely autistic child like mine. As he begins second grade, no one, least of all me, is expecting Dar to finish the year writing his own name, much less writing something that would demonstrate growth or development. Every year,
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Weekend of Labor

September 6, 2017, 7:26 pm

As a kid, Labor Day weekend to me suggested a final barbecue before the end of summer. These days, the thought of proactively adding more chemicals to the atmosphere seems mildly perverse. Besides, Mother Nature gave us West Coasters her own barbecue for Labor Day, not a finale but a harbinger: record temperatures and ashy smoke all over the coast plus Los Angeles’s biggest fire ever. (Good thing we know none of that could possibly have any relation to Hurricanes
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Dar in Car? Too Far

August 30, 2017, 12:30 pm

You know that parenting superstition that if you think of a catastrophe, and if you say it out loud, then you prevent it from happening? Here’s hoping that the following blog post has something like that effect. In this case, I’m hoping that bringing something to you, readers, will magically dispel the universe’s need for it to keep happening. In this case, we’re not really talking about a catastrophe, just Dar’s latest obsession. He has outgrown many of his previous
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