Looking Back A Year: Our 4th Grade Poetry Tea

Written March 7th, 2017

Natalie, You are my Girl!
The way you look at me with admiration, imitation and sometimes
hesitation, just makes my head swirl.

You’ve got such initiative. Such inner drive, curiosity and energy that I’m determine to develop it and make it thrive, despite the times I wish that you had an off

I love that dinner time intrigues you and that your quest to host the perfect party drew
a waiting audience, hungry at the venue. For you serve up a mean dessert menu.

Our dinner conversation questioned hills of the day. Some high point we like to discuss. And now you know that I loved my frappe’ and daddy his Tiger Lilies day.

But this I must say, Social studies test, really, I’m impressed.

As for Dance, we took a chance though piano was first my choice.
And watch you sashay in the room, all day in your new costume and think … Uh! such a performer!

And you know how I notice your devotion to him.
The one who drives you nuts with his darn autism.
And the time you take to say, “not your turn, it’s mine.                                                              So that he can learn to play and not whine.

I’m so glad that you can participate in the
fun of Glow Night and recitals and other things done.
For Sabbath can require that you rest from these
things and focus our attention to our Bibles and Him.

But you take these in stride and you process them well.                                                        You eat vegetarian and walk on the treadmill.
You fold the clothes and pack the washer.
And only complain when I say faster faster.

So, Yes, you’re my girl, for all the above.
But more so than anything, because you are my love.

Fresh Air

Winter. It’s no wonder that the windows are closed. It’s cold. Mother nature is nurturing nothing. The fan, high in the ceiling, motionless, still works. Dusty but capable. But, in the winter, no one is inspired to give it spin.

Too lethargic. Too blah. Too Achy. Too … you know … could care less. Was it something in the air?  I knew what to do. I’ve given counsel to others on just this topic. But there I was …  a lump.

“In the shower you go” said my inner voice. “No. No. Drink some coffee first.” “Wait …. maybe I should just sleep a little longer.” Most days, I run my life like a boss! But that day was not today. Thoughts were all I could muster. And it was exhausting.

One hour past. Two hours. Three … and with the approaching of night, guilt began setting in. “I should feed the kids. Wait, they have a father. He should feed the kids” were rationales running rampant in my thoughts. One sentence, however, kept drawing the attention of others.  It was  “No, you can’t come in.”

Why should I let them in? It’s dark in here. It’s still in here. The air is still in here. And slowly, realization dawned on me … I don’t belong in here either!

Seasonal Depressive Disorder is just that, Seasonal. It really should be called February Depressive Disorder in my house. Low energy, carb cravings, hypersomnia, hibernation are the hallmarks of the month.

Studies have suggested so many option including ingesting more vitamin D, talking with a trained counsellor, taking Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibiting medications but looking around the room, there was one quick fix readily available. It was simple. It was free. And it was delegable.

The Window! It should be undressed. Unobstructed. And unencumbered. Air should pass freely and daily. The fan … well it should be barely moving, after all, it is winter, but it should still be moving. Clear the air in your space and make the best of it.

So …”Come in, Natalie. I hope you’ve eaten. And can you open the blinds for me please.”

Light is todays therapy and nothing beats fresh air!


  1. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/seasonal-affective-disorder/index.shtml





The Crazies Of Chronic Pain

Unrelenting mild pain. You know, the 1 and 2’s. The “You can live with it” pain. What is it like to live in the low digits? Lets explore.

8! Now that hurts. Your doc comes over and says … “On a scale of 1 to 10, how bad is your pain?” And you said 8! Right away, you are pittied and given a pain pill.

How about this one. Ever tried studying with the television on maximum loud? You just cannot concentrate. It hurts your brain. Soon your headache turns cute babies and purring kitten into little monsters. So, you turned off the TV and took a tylenol. Well, that is akin to acute severe pain. Quick fixes are the option du jour.

Now back to our definition of chronic mild pain. Your reply to your doc was … “It’s a 1 maybe a 2 sometimes” and her response was “Ok. Step on the scale for me please.” She has moved on because you can live with it.

Our TV analogy is back in play. It is on! But only static plays on low volume. This is affectionately referred to as white noise. It may put a baby to sleep (well not anymore. Plus recent studies states that it causes deafness) but just leave that static playing 24 hours, 7 days a week, everywhere you go. We’re talking to the supermarket, while on phone calls, at work, while troubleshooting other people’s issues, when the kids just want a hug and after the baby spilled milky cereal on the cloth couch. All this while, the background soundtract to your life is zzzzzzzzzzzzz.

It didn’t stop you from going about your day nor did it stop you from taking care of business. It just added an unseen layer of burden and you found it harder to laugh out loud at little things though inwardly you thought … “that’s lol”.

In clinical studies, persistent white noise turned rats crazy! This is the same effect of chronic mild pain. It’s may be enough to gain you pitty but pain pills are pointless. Frivolous fun is sucked out of everything and one day you find yourself biting someone on the head.

Well, there you have it. I’ve just described you. Existing. Making the best of things. Wondering if this is it …. my life.

First thing … don’t let worry get the best of you. Smoldering stress and anxiety are notorious, primary causes of tension and chronic mild body pains. Finding a new job may be just the answer. A daily 1 mile walk can be just the ticket. Dietary changes to clean eating have changed lives. And prescription pill can pull you from the grips of despair until other factor turn around.

So, if you paused, only to find your face and os in the attack pose or you frequently hear the phrase …. sheesh, dont bite my head off, you maybe suffering from chronic mild pain.

Go to your happy place. Knees to the floor is a personal favorite.


Focus Found

Sprinkling amphetamine salts onto strawberry syrup so that my 6 year old son can tolerate his own existance. This has been my life for the past week. Autism with ADHD is rough. On him. So, I finally agreed to medication.

And oh my gosh! What a difference! Never saw that coming. He’s calm. Not still life calm but will actually sit down… voluntarily. And has stopped hand flapping (until meds wear off that is).

His teachers have started writing glowing words of praises regarding his new found focus and Grandma looks on in wonder.

I want to feel guilty for not starting it sooner but I remind myself that behavior training is still the primary mode of treatment and that he’s only 6.

Please pray for us. It makes him lose his appetite and athough I found it … I spent it on myself. Wink 😉

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Heels, Healing And Health

Fashionista! I’ve rarely been accused. Surely I try but this autism mom is forced into comfort. You know, flats. Hey, you try running after yours in heels. And flats … well… they are flat. And not at all fabulous. Regardless, I needed to be “Fly” a few weeks back, so I donned a pair of heels and slew! You know, slow motion walking, music playing in the back ground, preferable the song “Who’s that girl?”

My heels were awesome. Natural. Patent leather. The very English Princess didn’t rock hers as hard. And then, ouch! My Achilles disagreed! This got the doctor in me thinking… bones, ligaments and tendons.

Heel anatomy

Have you ever seen an anatomical drawing of the heel? It’s quite complex and so I’ve enclosed one for your viewing. With over a 100 ligaments, tendons and muscles, 26 bones and 33 joints, it’s a wonder that we are not all feet. But that one ligament attaching my soleus to my calcaneus was the only one I needed to pull. And ouch.

What’s a new found fashionista to do? Stop wearing heals? Yea, No. That is far too wise an option and oh so flat-tening. So let’s see. What else? What is Achilles tendonitis and how can I get around having to wear flats?

Technically, this tendinitis is due to over use or stress on the anatomy, so rest, ice and non-steroidal medications like Ibuprophen are heals for the heel. Then again, I could become aggressive and inject the area with actual steroids or plasma enriched with platelet cells or call my local surgeon for a nip and tuck . But who am I kidding. I’m not really a Fashonista. I can wear sneakers.

The sneakers looked lovely on me. Paired with active wear and a headband, I swung the pendulum to Marathonista. And again, I slew. Who needed to know that I averaged 3,000 steps for the day. It’s for the look! And the healing!

But today, oh today. Today, called for heels. I looked at them. Longingly. So pretty.

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Credits to the following website for content and anatomy image. http://www.healthcommunities.com/foot-anatomy/muscles-tendons-ligaments.shtml

When Day Care Is Not An Option

It seemed simple enough. Walk into the daycare. Fill out an application. Leave a check and walk out with start date. It was suppose to work that way. But, one look at my son and the conversation changed. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a looker. Well, actually, he won’t look at you but he’s dashing … across the room. You know what, he’s very good looking! And 5 and Autistic.

“Is he potty trained?” was a question I fought with. The real answer was “kind of ” but when that wasn’t acceptable, I felt a sense of shame mixed with “Isn’t this a daycare? Didn’t that little tot just run past me in diapers?” But it was more than that. They were fishing for cause to say no without saying “We don’t care for special needs.”

For the love of God… I came in specifically asking that question. Do you care for special needs kids? It’s a Yes Or No leading question. There’s no need for jargons and permutations. I’ve walked into salons and asked “Do you have a stylist that works with Black Hair?” With my face, no one has ever said “Do you mean as opposed to Brunette?” No. they knew that I meant race and the answer was either Yes or No. With my son’s seal sounds and flapping hands, they knew they were looking at a special needs boy. “No, we don’t” would have prompted an about face. Rather, I received statements akin to “We will gladly accept him once he can…” Let me finish that … act like the other 5 years olds?

Regardless, I really wanted him to be in a social setting so I pushed. And they gave us the tour and said things like “I will call you but I don’t think we have the space.” At first I felt condescended upon and thought, “I’m never going to that place. They are so rude”… you know, still thinking I had a choice but the next place was no different and the 3rd place simply said “is he always this active?” To which I may have lied and said “No, just overly stimulated right now.” But, I was not taking No for an answer. I had just lost my Nanny of 3 years to her having her own baby and the summer was fast approaching and I needed him in a social setting! So they needed to come up with something better.

One representative finally levelled with me. She said “We had one student in the past. We thought we could handle him but we couldn’t and it created a problem to the point where we had to ask the family to leave. From that experience, we learned about the IEP. Get me that plan and I can tell you if we can provide what he needs or not.”

Finally! Someone who can move past stigma and judgement and give concrete answers for their NO! One look at his IEP and she had it. And I got a concrete: “Unless you provide him with an aide, we cannot accept him.”

Provide an aide. As in bring a Sitter to the Sitter.

Okay. Got it.

Day care is not an option.

It was a sad realization that day. I didn’t want to accept that. Here I am, trying so hard to matriculate him into “normal.” My neuro-typical daughter was already accepted and age matched with friends for the field trips. Dark moments gave me pause as I felt his future pain knowing that his acceptance in this world is highly conditional with no promises. I was hurt…for him. I cried. And I held him. And breathed.

But, we needed to move on.

I called agencies and individuals. And the bottom line was we need more cash to care. Fine! No Problem! However, when I asked for training or experience, I was met with “I have a friend with an autistic son” or “I’m a quick learner.”

How do we manage? How are other autism parents getting by? What’s the secret sauce! Had it not been for incremental changes in my life – sanity would have been a lost cause. So, I’ve come to one conclusion – and that is … we are super! For those of us who are able to obtain assistance, whether it be from government, institution or next door- you are super! And for the us who are at home – you are super! and the us who work outside the home – you are super! and the us who are still searching – you are super, too!

Shake off the blues and pick up the phone. Call your Early Intervention Agencies. Call Sitter Agencies. Call Autism Mom Hotlines. Call our Special Ed PTA Directors. Call your ABA instructors. Ask your teachers. Stop by your local college and post a job by the Education department or child psychology department. Post questions to your local facebook autism group ( ie SASI, SEPTA) and do not settle for high cost, low service. I did. Because I was too tired. Too frustrated. Too overwhelmed. And it costed me.

What did I end up doing? It took me 6 years but I finally asked for help. And that was super! Because my mom said yes.

The Right Tools

Listening to my patients, with my ears, is often times much more accurate than with my stethoscope. The right tool makes a difference. Yet, there I was, writing my blog via my smart phone. What can I tell you, this autism mom has had soooo many devices destroyed, wrecked and ravaged by the bending, molding, twisting everything little fingers of my son such that I don’t own anything of worth any more. My phones are fortunate to survive the year and well, so are his teachers for that matter. But we digress.

I did noticed something, however. Despite having a quite capable smart phone and my will to write, I wasn’t. Of course I used the phone daily .. minutely. But, I was tied up. You know … neuro-typical daughter wants the mall. Neuro-divergent son wants … nothing to do with you. Then everyone wants dinner, daily and of course there’s the full-time career as the fun-loving, life saver. Yes. I’m tied up. But that was not my “WHY” for not writing.

The why was really my laptop meeting its untimely demise 4 years ago. It’s springy little letters were plucked from its very sockets without a thought of “how’s mommy going to type?” and its body losing the fight against gravity, the counter top and him! So I’ve been without my tool. And quite frankly, not willing to buy another one.

But as anyone will tell you, the right tool just makes any project easier. So although his little fingers are still super active, I’ve stepped out in hope! Hope that the past 4 years weren’t in vain. Hope that potty training has taught him more than potty training. Hope that his love for letters will now allow him to find mercy on the upper left hand Q, A and esc button. For surely he can control other body parts now too. (Yes, I’m looking at you … fingers).

So watch out world … doctorann.blog is back. Tool in hand.

Oh, and I’m still listening … with my ears 🙂 Tell me what you think. I love hearing your ideas of what to write about next!