Tis the Season

A mirrored room full of dangling lit ornaments with colors pink, blue, green and purple.

Tis the season for dysregulation and meltdowns. Starting from Thanksgiving onward, schools, home life, work, everything gets turned a little off its axle. For our neuro-diverse kids this can feel anywhere from exciting to dysregulating, to downright overwhelming. Its like a season for meltdowns.

Family meals for many kids is all the bad smells, tastes and textures. It can feel dysregulating for some kids to have strange folks in their space as relatives sleep over, and travel is like whole other blog post. Routines are disrupted, even for good things, and can throw one off their game and cause forgetfulness and stumbling over perfectly normal things in ones day. Sometimes its just that feeling of anticipation for good things and Winter Break nearly here.

By far the toughest for our family is the environment I can’t control much. That is school. There are performances, ‘fun days’, school dances, and even movie days. My son once told his teacher, sometimes things that other people view as fun; I don’t think are fun. Other times things like build a gingerbread house seems like the best thing in the world.

Thus in elementary school, when my son didn’t do a writing assignment and struggled with his academic work, one teacher thought it appropriate to dangle the gingerbread house as ‘motivation’. What happened was a complete imploding of emotions. Unable to concentrate and then unable to get the prize, my son melted down and not in a small way. Emotions were way to high. It broke the trust and bond with the teacher too. There are really too many instances to name where rigidity with a school and the high intensity of the holidays met with a bang and my kid in the principal’s office in tears.

So if I’m to give advice: parents, teachers, just breathe. Do the best you can do. Stop with the rewards and the taking stuff. Its not going to improve behavior. Its only going throw more fuel to an already burning fire. Let kids opt out. Maybe having everyone eat together isn’t a happy occasion for everyone.

Yes, teachers be more flexible. Its not going to cause the massive behavior uprising you foresee. It might just calm the waters. Our kids are going to mess up. This is not a time to punish the whole class or call out publicly a kid messing up. As they say, let it go. I know it feels like it, but I swear to you my child was never sitting there plotting your downfall as a teacher. Most of the time, he was petrified and just trying to feel safe at school. Other times he was just too excited and dysregulated and too young or even too overwhelmed to self regulated on his own.

Parents take it easy. Overexcitement can lead to meltdowns just like negative triggers. Listen to your kid and watch for those non verbal cues. They’re communicating with us in so many ways that isn’t speech. Find out if you can, something your kid likes to do. Maybe it isn’t even holiday related. Oh well. What routines you can keep going, just keep going, and be forgiving when things fall apart. They will. We’re human.

Right now our autistic kids just need to feel safe and regulated. It will be different for every kid and every family. In a season of meltdowns be a provider of accommodations, calm, and most importantly love.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Sign has a photo of ear phones around a heart.  Says Quiet Area
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Crossover

May 4th was crossover. A deadline date that bills must pass one house of the general assembly in order to be heard in the next. Bills can be considered dead if they don’t go through at least one chamber by crossover. As someone who monitors the NC General Assembly its a date I’ve had on my calendar for a long time. With the new super majority of the NCGA, the barrage of bills and legislation went quickly through committees and onto the floors of our legislature. I listened in when I could. I followed threads and reporters. I also had real life obligations going on throughout the week. I ended up on Friday just tired and angry.

The thing that burns me the most really this week, isn’t what you’d expect. See, I’ve been expecting so much of this bad legislation. It felt this year it was only a matter of time and Tricia Cothman was the spark of an already building fire. I’m not so desensitized yet that the fall of reproductive rights doesn’t bother me, but it is always easier to process the expected. The education committee was also busy taking up harmful bill after harmful bill. There were even bills that I’m just learning about that passed.

What broke me this week was the 15.8 million in local funding shortfall from the Wake County Commissioners draft budget. I didn’t expect the gap to be that wide between the Wake County School Board’s budget request of 55.8 million and the offering of only 40 million from the county manager’s budget draft.

Basically on a statewide level I’m watching the dismantling of human rights and the destruction of public education. The last thing I need right now is to have to go on the local level and fight even more battles. We had an election. Most, if not all of the current county commission talked about their commitment to public education. I helped many campaigns with lit drops, a meet and greet in my area, signs and poll greeting. I’ve done my advocating, I showed up. I expected them to keep to their word.

I shouldn’t have to beg for my supper. I shouldn’t have to show up on a random Tuesday when I’m tripled booked with everything else that is happening in our broken state. I shouldn’t have to write talking points and help with a campaign to fund our schools. Yet here I am. The public spoke in November with their votes for people they believed would fund our schools.

On May 1st, I went to the Wake County Commissioners meeting. On a whim, I gave a short public comment. I honestly don’t usually go without preparation into public comment, but I was feeling brave that day. I told the commissioners I was tired of writing the same speech every year. I was tired of asking them to fully fund the request from the Wake Public Schools.

I love and most notably need our public schools. So, it looks like I’ll be at a budget hearing sometime soon. At least I have speeches already prepared. Maybe I’ll use the one from 2017? I don’t even need to rewrite the entire speech. I just need to change the dollar amount. Wake County deserves better than this.

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Wright School Part VI

The hardest part about Wright School is leaving Wright School. For six months your kid has been nourished by school, possibly for the first time. They have been taught and you’ve seen academic progress. You’ve seen mind and attitude changes too. What happens when my kiddo graduates? The hope is that new strategies and structures will be there as well as support from the school informed by the time spent at Wright School.

The goodbye at Wright School is perhaps the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. It is deliberate. Each child and teacher offers their reflections of the graduate. They write it down too so that Emerson has a copy. Then Emerson gives his reflections to each classmate and teacher too. Just in case you were wondering, teachers who leave the program also go through this graduation ceremony too. It felt like a warm blanket being wrapped around my family.

We came home with not just the projects and work completed, but posters and things to remind Emerson of the strategies learned. Sending him back to Wake County Schools seemed so frightening in comparison to a school that was all kind words, affirmations, movement, and positivity.

Wright School was right there in the meeting to transition Emerson back to our regular public school. We also had such a wonderful educator in Emerson’s 6th grade teacher Ms. Laurie Bauchman. She was leaving WCPSS, but she made sure that Emerson got the one-on-one aid that we so desperately needed. I saw a partnership in that meeting unlike I’ve ever witnessed.

We’ve done OK since Emerson left. He has struggled in school a bit, but shows us everyday sparks of progress. I don’t worry about his morning routine or his evening routine. He takes a daily shower basically at the same time every night. That is Wright School. I need to remind him about mindfulness, but he knows how to reset his system.

So, there is a part of me that never wanted my kiddo to leave the sanctuary that Wright School created especially for our neuro-diverse students. Yet, that is the purpose. The purpose of the Wright School is to for students to leave and restart their lives with better strategies for the entire family. Now we need to work on our community. Center our schools, our towns, our greater world to put kids and their entire selves first.

I hope everyone who reads this gets to know about a little gem of program here in North Carolina. I hope everyone gets to understand that when we fund these programs we all get to benefit. That indeed a public school can do great things. I also hope we build on that model, expand that model. Finally, our kids aren’t broken, don’t need a cure, but with a little love, mindfulness, resources and support they can get the restart they need to thrive.

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Wright School Part V

What makes the Wright School experience so unique to me is that my child was accepted. Now I’m sure that doesn’t sound like much, but it really ended up being the difference maker. The school even took his sensory issues seriously and accommodated all his issues, even though I questioned them myself sometimes.

The philosophy of the Wright School can be read on their web site. https://www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/state-operated-healthcare-facilities/wright-school/history-and-philosophy The idea that we aren’t curing anything, but instead creating a home and community support system doesn’t sound that innovative. However, I assure you it is. It is the approach to mental health and disability that gets overlooked.

Friday at noon is pickup at Wright School. Generally music played loudly and not a lot was said. Except on day when we were nearly home, Emerson just asked, “Do you believe in the medical or social model?” Out of context, I had zero idea what in the world he was talking about at the moment. However, he went on push and asked if I believed in the medical model of disability.

So, thanks to the Wright School and their deep discussion of Flowers for Algernon, my child was schooling me on disability justice. I admit if Emerson had read that short story in his old school, I probably would have flipped out. However, my kiddo came away from the group discussion and the story with a new found pride in his own disability and some righteous indignation about how we treat disability in America. I had tears in my eyes after the discussion.

The supports for Emerson’s mental health were all there on site. He was monitored, evaluated, and our liaison teacher counselor met with both my husband and I regularly. He even texted us fun stories about Emerson. He became a part of our family unit for the time. He became a friend to Emerson through music class.

This school is a public school, but operates under the Department of Health and Human Services and not DPI. We didn’t have to even worry about EOGs at the school. It is supported with public money and the state has the knowledge and success numbers to recreate this environment if it chooses.

Wright School does things right, and with some resources and well money, we could find ways to replicate so much of what they do right. I’d love to see liaison teacher counselors in every public school. I’d love to see the philosophy really adapted. If feel like right now as long as a child doesn’t act too disabled then they earn the right to be in general education.

When alternative learning environments are mentioned by folks at the North Carolina General Assembly I give pause. There aren’t spaces like Wright School in most places in North Carolina. We risk segregating kids and putting them in a holding cell. The Wright School is a wonderful example of a restart school doing things well and intently keeping the mental health of students a priority. Not every child needs a partially residential restart school. When they do, it should be like the Wright School.

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Wright School Part IV

As I begin January 2023, I think back on our Wright School journey that began in earnest in 2022 with a spot at this amazing school. Its hard, actually, because as we’re back out in a regular public school setting and I need to keep reminding myself and my child of all the positive things we learned to do at Wright School.

I admit in 2022 I was petrified to tell Emerson we were sending him to yet another school. He’d been in a constant state of change since 3rd grade and here we were in the middle 6th grade about to change schools again. 6th grade was going OK in general, but we were watching things decline as the first semester went forward and Emerson’s willingness to learn declined. I was looking forward to the change, but wasn’t sure how Emerson felt.

We waited till after the holidays to begin the discussion. We just sat Emerson down and began to discuss the school. It wasn’t until we got to the part that it was partially residential that Emerson erupted with shouting and went into his room to calm down. As parents, we just waited. After about 30 minutes, Emerson came out somewhat calm and said quite simply, he’d try it.

The visit with Emerson was impressive. We toured the school. We saw the room Emerson would be using and discussed details down to the fan he’d use at night. The best part was that the visit was mainly student led. Emerson got to choose if he wanted to sit in the classroom with the students or if he’d prefer them to come talk to him one on one. He chose one on one. So each student came and talked about their experience at Wright School. They gave advice and things that they loved and struggled with about the school. One kid drew Emerson a picture. I think we all came away with anticipation.

One thing to keep in mind was that Covid was being taken seriously. Not just with pairing vaccinated kids up but also masking. While masking for a school day wasn’t a favorite thing of Emerson, it was limited. Once we were home at 3pm the mask came off. Well Wright School was masked even as the academic day ended. Of course there were breaks and Emerson could sleep and be in his room without a mask, still was a lot to ask of kid who didn’t like masks. Yet I think the beauty of Wright School was that it was expected school wide of both kids and teachers. I think the fact that it was adopted policy for the school including for me if I visited, helped normalize things.

Dropping off Emerson was difficult. I was filled with so much anticipation, fear, anxiety and all the while trying my best to mask all my feelings. We did have liaison throughout this process. The parent support was phenomenal. Encouraging text were so needed and helpful. Emerson called us every night that week. It dawned on me how little Emerson had spoken on the phone to anyone so it took a while to get phone protocols down. Drop off that first week and drop off going forward really went smoothly.

We made it week by week. Every week Emerson complained less and less about school. In fact on the weekends I began to hear how Wright School was better than home in some ways. He loved the fact that every week they went somewhere or did something. He started taking routine showers daily. Emerson began to like his school.

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About the School Board Races…

    By now, many news outlets have carried stories about extremist school board candidates.  We have many school board candidates on record from their social media and even at actual school board meetings spouting hateful rhetoric at our teachers, students, and administrators.  We have candidates still denying the harm of the Pandemic and science.  However, there is a bigger issue that many aren’t pointing out, and that is that many of the school board candidates have no idea what goes on inside a public school

     Everyday our teachers are faced with enormous challenges and they meet those challenges to make a positive learning space for our children.  Underpaid school personnel stay late when kids miss the bus or buses are late.  They take complicated subjects and break them down to help students learn.  They meet students where they are and help them achieve more than they thought possible.  Our public schools are doing amazing work everyday. When school board candidates fail to celebrate our public schools as well as talk about the challenges, I know they’re unqualified for the job.                                                                                                                

    Our schools do indeed face challenges.  In North Carolina, our courts ruled that our children are not getting a sound basic education and they’ve placed funding benchmarks that our state needs to provide to get us back on track.  The underfunding of our schools is no longer a debate, it is an adjudicated fact.  Instead of talking about the systemic underfunding of our schools or the inequities in funding,  I hear candidates accuse our local schools of mismanagement and fraud with no evidence.  They pledge to cut administrative staff that have nowhere left to cut.  Too many candidates don’t even have a basic understanding of how schools are funded and how those funds are used.

   Finally, when candidates offer solutions to problems that either don’t exist or don’t exist in a way that they understand.  Take Special Education for instance, I heard a school board candidate Michele Morrow offer suggestions that we should be teaching life skills and job skills as if we don’t already do those things.  The same board candidate even suggested removing special education students from general classrooms because they’re contributing to teaching mediocrity.  None of this is legal or true.  We have enormous issues to overcome when it comes to Special Education, and the last thing we need is someone spouting ableist garbage getting in the way.

   I don’t expect every person who runs for school board to be an expert in education, but they should be striving to understand and know as much as they can with accurate information.  I expect candidates to be involved in our public schools in some capacity even if it’s being their biggest cheerleader.  Belief in public schools as a public good as well as investing in our children should be a baseline in which all candidates on both sides agree.  Sadly the fact that not all candidates see our public schools as a positive is one of the biggest dangers facing public schools today.

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Wright School Part III

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

So, our family was doing OK in 2020 despite so many challenges. We were thankful to be healthy and excited about even the possibility of a vaccine. Root Elementary was a godsend. We not only were blessed with a great teacher, but the principal was fantastic as well. He said he was from Vance County, I mentioned working on Leandro, and it was all good from there. Wright School had to completely close for a while and rethink how they were going to operate as a non-residential school.

Going back in person in the late fall of 2020 was a difficult choice. I had to weigh my kiddo’s mental health and physical health risks. I kept trying to find compromises. It was made more difficult by a county flipping how contained classrooms were going to run last minute. We also faced a district that just wasn’t really wanting to be flexible which in many ways is still true. We didn’t actually get back in the classroom to almost Thanksgiving. I also made my own compromise. We would do lunch at home and the rest of the day virtual. Since the teacher was doing hybrid anyway, it was the best solution to a difficult problem. First and foremost most outbreaks at school were happening during times when folks weren’t wearing masks, like at lunch. Second, kiddo wasn’t able to tolerate looking/seeing/smelling other people’s food. IEP to the rescue and we had a plan to get kiddo at least partially back to normal.

In the summer of 2020 into the fall I was working hard to advocate for disability students in person opportunities, while still maintaining a very high level of safety. Around October, Wright School called. There was an opening. It was at this point running as a day school. A long day school with the school day ending around 6PM. I had a tough decision to make. Everyone I knew who loved the Wright School praised what they did in the evening program. The evening program wasn’t operating during Covid. I also wondered how tough going back and forth for a long day of school and essentially an after school program. We had a new plan for the start of in-person school, but we hadn’t yet seen if it was going to work. Going from total virtual into a very long full day seemed like a big change.

Ultimately, our family decided to wait till the school was back to full residential. It was a scary tough decision. I think having such a wonderful team at Root Elementary really helped. In the winter of 2020, I felt like we still needed healing time and growth. He was doing both and I wasn’t sure of anything at the moment. So we waited.

A year later, in November I got a phone call that my child had a spot. They were up and running the residential program now. The tour was amazing. Safety was so key and a school run by DHHS didn’t disappoint. Vaccinated kids shared rooms with vaccinated kids. Masks were serious business there. Lots of air movement and school wide protocols. My kiddo had a slot in January and my husband and I were excited for the opportunity. Now to convince the kid.

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Wright School Part II

Handle Me with Care

Our family’s journey to the Wright School was a long one and one impacted by the Global Pandemic known as Covid. Yet, even before and as Covid hit us, I was scrambling to get services and resources with a kid on Home Hospital. How to fill my child’s day with things he might enjoy when it felt like his interests were so limited? Meanwhile boredom always lead to tears and frustration from everyone. So, I looked for supplemental schools and therapy. On the advice of my kid’s therapist, I even looked seriously at ABA therapy for the first time.

There were several reasons I didn’t look into or consider ABA earlier. My kiddo didn’t get the official Autism stamp of approval until he was ending preschool, and headed to full day Kindergarten. Not that he was too old, but he wasn’t in the sweet spot when so many kids get ABA at home. When he was younger he was just classified as unspecified developmental delay, and Autism specifically wasn’t on any paperwork. I think I asked our developmental therapist about ABA once and she just shrugged, and said it wouldn’t be a good fit for my kid.

Applied Behavior Analysis has been the gold standard for Autism therapy for years, and its also highly controversial. I was in the dark about the controversy until I started to follow and read the experiences of adults who were diagnosed with Autism and received ABA as children. As with most things, I read and learned as much as I can. What I learned was that ABA was developed by Ole Ivar Lovaas. He also created Gay Conversion Therapy. The idea in the beginning was to make someone appear less autistic. Rewards and punishments all with the goal of eye contact, no stimming, and speaking when spoken to. Its all under the umbrella of looking neurotypical.

Now if you talk to many folks they will swear that ABA has changed. I’m not so convinced. Mainly because they’re still using behaviorism. This idea that rewards will change behavior. Think B.F. Skinner and his rats. I’ve used so many reward methods with and without some sort of discipline associated. I took away so many things from my kiddo, that at one point there was just a bed and crash pad in his room. I’ve used reward charts, jars and things where everything was positive. Yet none of this worked. I used in conjunction with what I thought was accommodating his needs. All I got was a kid so anxious that he’d not get a reward and at the end of the day he sabotaged himself.

Still, I was going to give anything a chance at this stage. Maybe I was mistaken and they unlocked some new strategy I’d never tried. So, my kiddo went in for a very pricey evaluation. My family were most interested at the time to getting kiddo back to being able to tolerate everyone eating together at a dinner table. He seemed to be really rigid around even seeing other people eat food he didn’t like. There were also a myriad of other issues I had in my head.

When I got the evaluation back it was like seeing a plan from the underpants gnomes from South Park.

Autistic / Sensory Issue —> ?—> Goal Met

When I asked how they were going to meet their goals with an emphasis that rewards and withholding things wouldn’t work, no one had an answer. They didn’t even talk about relationships. It was just that they’d be able to make rewards and ‘other things’ work this time. When kiddo said he didn’t like it there at their office I took it as the last sign. Nope.

So what did I do instead? At the same time our therapist gave us ABA recommendations, she also gave me an article on Polyvagal Theory. I began to read everything I could on the Polyvagal Theory. I read Beyond Behaviors by Mona Delahooke PhD. It’s still a work in progress but I began throwing all the discipline/punishment way of parenting that I had been taught my entire life. I went on a journey of creating a home life that calm and truly accommodating. I really stopped pushing that we needed to be normal and embraced kiddo for himself. I began to completely reframe Autism as our new normal.

So in the midst of a global Pandemic, some things in our house got significantly better. By changing my mindset, I began to see where I was pushing for things that weren’t necessary. If my kiddo ate a meal on his own and it made him happier and he felt he could trust me, then great. I needed to realize that no amount of rewards were going to change his sensory profile. My kid needed to feel safe and secure. Home was the first place to start.

In the archives , you can read my other struggles during that time. So, many things were going on at once and I was trying to reframe my state of mind as a parent. The best thing is that it worked. We’re not perfect, but the change has been dramatic. So, if you’ve rejected ABA and wondering if there is anything else out there, there is, and it works.

What does this have to do with Wright School? Well it put my family on a track that while we waited we survived as a functioning family. It put our minds and some of the philosophy of the Wright School in sync. It got us through a significant waiting period when there was nothing I could do when the world shut down. It was simply part of my family’s journey.

Links to Polyvagal Theory https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ec3AUMDjtKQ&ab_channel=PsychAlive

Mona Delahooke PhD (She also has a new wonderful book out) https://monadelahooke.com/beyond-behaviors/

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Wright School: Part 1

This is the Beginning not the End.

 Today my child will graduate from this amazing place, The Wright School.  The Wright School was established in 1963 and is a public school run by the Department of Health and Human Services here in North Carolina.  It is a partial residential school with children staying Monday through noon on Friday and then going home on weekends. The school typically takes kids for about 6 months. It’s been a long journey, but it brought us hope.

    It was late February of 2020, and our family therapist called while I was in a meeting for the Every Child Coalition.  I scuttled out of the meeting trying not to be conspicuous and as usual managed to make too much noise.  I got myself outside of the building to the crisp air and to one of the most profoundly scary conversations I’ve ever had to have with a therapist.  My son was in trouble again and it looked like things were moving even further downhill.  There on the steps of a converted Chevrolet dealership I broke down and began what would end up being a  journey of hope.   At that very moment however, on a cold February day, I listened to a plan from the therapist almost numb as cars zipped along the busy boulevard in front of me.

     None of the options on the table were good options.  As I hung up the phone I tried my best to slink back into the meeting that was breaking up.  I would have just gone home, but I had left things in the building.  I hoped no one noticed.  How do you explain to friends who have typical kids that your world is falling apart?  

      My child was being reduced to a set of behaviors.  I don’t even think the school he attended saw him as human anymore.  For the first time in a long time, I questioned public school, my decision to not allow ABA therapy, most of all I questioned my parenting skills.  Where had I failed that we were now facing going on home hospital?  Home hospital is a private tutoring program through the school system with very limited hours. 

     That was just a short term solution to a very big issue.  How to get my kid to be safe and learn at school.  My therapist had an idea.  We could apply for the Wright School.  It was a public school. It was a residential school, well at least Monday through Friday.  It felt radical.  The whole situation our family faced felt radical. 

      At a very long, very stressful IEP meeting, my child was officially put on home hospital.  My child got to the point he wouldn’t get out of the car to go to school.  Everything was a struggle, a fight, a flight.  We needed to heal.  Home hospital wasn’t the best option, but it was the only option we had at the time. 

We also decided to take a chance on Wright School.  Like all things in the disability world, there is an application process and of course a waitlist.  First the application.  I had help navigating that process. About a year earlier, lost in the bureaucratic process and on the advice of others, I hired what’s known as a parent advocate to help with the IEP process.  This expert also was a wiz at applications and we sat down one day at the closest McDonalds to complete the process. Since I didn’t have childcare, I suggested one of my kid’s favorite places. Not being at school full time, my kid and I were going to spend a lot of time together.  

      So after a bad cup of coffee and a lot of paperwork to start the referral process, we completed the parent portion.  I even made a phone call to the school from outside the McDonald’s to ask a question about the process and confirm we were applying.  As is with most things, all we could do was wait.  Even if our application would go through, the lowest estimate for the wait list was 6 months and the school was quoting a year.

     In the meantime, we started on the home hospital program which was a tutoring program and for us was about an hour a week.  Our tutor was a special education teacher at Root Elementary.  My son went in after the elementary school dismissed for the day at 4pm.  The plan was to get my kid learning again and then enroll him in that same school with the same teacher.  What we didn’t anticipate was a global pandemic.

    On the day that we were being informed that all schools in North Carolina would be temporarily shutting down, I got the call from the Wright School that our referral had been approved and we were officially on the waitlist.    It would be a very long wait. 

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World Autism Day

You’re going to hear a lot about Autism this month. Some call it Autism Awareness Month, others may say Autism Acceptance, while here in my house its more Autism Appreciation Month. Regardless, you’re going to see articles that get it right, but unfortunately too many who get it wrong. I’m just going to share a few of my favorite resources.

Like anything, check the source. The best source on Autism is Autistics. If you’re looking for resources check out Autism Self Advocacy Network. There are great resources on YouTube as well. I really like a series done a few years ago called Ask an Autistic. I also like Hunter Hansen -The Life Autistic and Robin Roscigno Tedx Talk.

You should probably be aware that symbols we normalized in the past to represent Autism were manufactured by neurotypicals. Autistics in your life may not like to be symbolized by a puzzle piece. In fact, many in the Autism community prefer the infinity symbol and/or using rainbow colors for inclusion. You might want to ask before posting a bunch of puzzle pieces if your loved one likes that symbol.

One of the best books out there on the history of Autism as a diagnosis is NeuroTribes-The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity. by Steve Silberman. It gives an incredible perspective on Autism throughout history and how our current definition hasn’t really been in practice that long at all. I also like the recent book, We’re Not Broken: Changing the Autism Conversation by UNC Grad Eric M. Garcia.

What I love about Garcia’s perspective is not only is he actually autistic, but that he gives real life policy examples. Public policy that could benefit those with disabilities. He also speaks from a non-white perspective which is so important as disability and policy surrounding disability is impacted by white supremacy.

I also enjoyed reading Autism in Heels: The Untold Story of a Female Life on the Spectrum. by Jennifer O’Toole. A great read especially if you’re from a generation that didn’t have definitions of Autism that included traits found in girls and women. It’s something I’ve begun to explore in my own life. Maybe some of us just aren’t just introverted, but it goes deeper. Don’t be afraid to explore. Self diagnosis or even formal diagnosis can be healing and eye opening. I’m in the process myself.

My very favorite video is this from Robin Roscigno. It reminds how I started and how I’m trying to learn and be a better parent and citizen on this earth.

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