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!


I’m sitting here listening to little man saying things like 

  • “Let’s go! Big Pool?”
  • “safety vest?”
  • “Swimmies on?”
  • “Mommy jumping in the pool?” 

And when I said “You go!” he did! And left my rump right there! 

That was a big change. I recently re-opened the pool and getting him into the big pool was akin to bathing a cat. Although he loved to be near it, he was petrified of being in it. Afterall, he was perfectly content with his small pool … until now.

Next thing I knew, he was fully and independently in the big pool.  Feet were kicking, hands were splashing and he was saying “SWIMMING?” 

And here I thought that weekly lessons were just for my mental health. 

I will never give up. I can’t. He’s  no longer afraid of the big pool. 😮


Errands with my kids should have its own sound track. Like the one in JAWS. Or Houdini.

With Mr. Impulsive and Ms. BuysAlot, there’s never a dull moment and before we leave any store, everyone knows that his name is Nolan and hers, Natalie.

But I was focused that Wednesday afternoon. I needed to buy stop signs and bead locks and be back in time to post signs on the front yard tree, the side and pool gate all before re-installing the pool liner and getting to swimming lessons by 5pm. I was on a mission.

But the store had no stop signs and with Ms. BuysAlot already promised a return trip, it was off to the pool store next. And I almost made it out the door.

The exit. I could see it. And I had a pretty good chance too. Afterall, he was seated in the shopping cart. I had full control. Just push and ignore the screaming.

I’ve become proficient in the lost art of Excuse us and Thank you so much. They rolled off my tongue as we made it between cashiers to the exit.

I saw the display cases. I saw the lolipops. I braced for it. But since the store didn’t have what I came for, we are not getting on line.

“Lolipop?!” He said in his cute litttle suprano voice. And I thought, “Nice try buddy, but this autism mom is onto your 1-word requests.”

Gone are the days when I squealed in delight for a token word request. I’ve upgraded from silence, to paroting to token words and now I want full sentences. That’s right, I want full sentences or you get nothing.

But before I knew it, little hands were fimly gripping the display fridge, only fingers away from the lolipop stand. But I didn’t get what I wanted from him so #CueTheSoundTrackToTitanic, because he’s about to let go!

What more could he do? He was losing. I’m sure that he searched his arsenal of autistic boy tricks. And I’m sure that he thought he found one because he said … “I want lolipop, please”

In a full sentence, complete with please. And by golly, my heart inflated, my eyes closed as I took in a deep cleansing breath.  I smiled, widely, with the cart still moving forward, and praised him.

“Wow Nolan. Great job using your words! I love that!”

And then it happened.

He giggled, looked at me and said “You love that. You love that.”

I stopped dead in my tracks.

I don’t know the grammatical term for that but by golly, it was not echolalia. Did you see it? Did you see it? He didn’t parot me. He flipped the I to YOU. He processed my sentence! My little autistic man knew that I felt something and that referring back to me meant flipping the sentence around, and then expressing it! I nearly cried with the overwhelming thought of the doors in language now opened to him.

Oh lolipop! We’ve made it to another milestone.

And out of my mouth came a solitary sentence to Ms. BuysAlot. It was “Get on line!”

Echolali This! 

This time, a year ago, I was deeply saddened by the thought that my almost 5 year old son with ASD would never be potty trained. It seemed hopeless.

He showed no initiative.

He would pee and poo anywhere at the most inopportuned time.

XL Diapers were getting too small.

I tried an app called “See me go potty” He loved it and for 2 years, he just stimmed on it. At one point, I stopped him from using the app. His stims on it were ridiculous.

Then one day, I decided that I would gladly replace the carpets yearly if it meant that he’d learn from me saying “Why you make peepee on the floor?”


He went 6 month “echolali- ing” my scoldings.
Just imagine the cutest little suprano voice randomly repeating the phrase “NO PEEPEE ON THE FLOOR.”

As soon as he got home from school, he went STRAIGHT to briefs. (I invested in a few) I also invested in bleach and paper towels. 😉

BUT, he resisted going to the potty.

I even bought a potty seat his size with stairs leading up so he can sit comfortably. And nope!

Every other day, I gave up.
Every other day, I tried again.
EVERYDAY, I cleaned and scolded.

The scolding was PURPOSE-ful.
He’s smart. And what does not come naturally, he will learn. If he was constantly reaching for a hot stove, I’d scold while prepping the environment for safety so I treated it with the same concern and addressed each incident with “Did you make peepee on the floor? What is this? Is this peepee on the floor? Don’t make peepee on the floor.”

Even the dog understood and went scratching at the backdoor.

And although everything was already out, we went through the motions and went sitting on the potty for a minute, pulling up brief, flushing nothing and washing hands. Sometimes, I’d catch him midway and halt the process. But he would then just hold it, go through the motions with me until he returned to the carpet and finish what he started.

It was a royal pain in the you know what.

He’s been 5 years old for 6 months now.
He’s been trained for 4 months now.
First peepee. Then poo.

He just walked to the bathroom. I lazily follow (because he also tries to wipe his bum. #nextchallenge.) He pulls down his brief, climbs his seat stairs, grabs his composition book, sits and waits.

Only an autusm mom would love the sweet smell of poo plopping gracefully in potty. SUCCESS! Fist pump.

My heart rises with glee.
Why? Because I STILL feel the pit of my stomach worry and get depressed about what he can’t do, so I take in this moment. And say a quick prayer for those who still endure.

“You did it buddy. Good job making poo in the potty”

Echolali THAT for the next 6 months!


September Fears

Technically, it’s 2 months away but my brain screams … It’s ONLY 2 months away! 

Yes, K is on the horizon and pre-K, a distant stressor. 

Now, this is not just kindergarten. We are talking Special Ed Kindergarten. We are talking adjustment disorder, melt downs, routine changes, constant sea lion noises, loss of familiar faces, places and not knowing where to find the gold fish snacks! 

Do you know how long it took to learn “pull up your pants?” Let’s just say we are still working on it. It’s less than 6 months since being potty trained and his verbal stims are at at all time high so I have a few reason to fear September. 

But fears are meant to be conquered. My fears are meant to be preplanned to death. And I’m game. How?

At a recent Sp. Ed PTA meeting, I learned that I could take my fears to the playground: the “new school” playground. That’s right. No typo. Show up, walk the outer premesis. Swing on the swings. Like a boss!

So off we went! And with 2 months to go, we regularly take to the road, in my CRV, where you can over hear me saying “Noly, we are going to see your new school. You will have a new teacher. You will love it!” Because I brain wash my kids like that! 

I’m a strong believer in the power of positive persuasion. Combine that with the positive reinforcement of a playground and I predict that we will have a winner !

Got September fears. Give this a try. 

Dislike Running

I used to say, “If you see me running, you should probably run too because it’s for my life.” I even wrote a recent blog on how I hated running. So why am I feeling so betwixt?

After completing my first 5k last weekend, I got to thinking … Hate is such a strong word. All of a sudden, I dislike it. Hm… Next thing you know, it might be … ok!

I will forever be a walking girl but walking is what got me to this point in the first place.  It’s amazing how much walking has helped me to develop stamina and strength but more so, mental coping of distance.

I used to think, “1 mile! That’s far enough” and now it’s like a walk to the fridge. So there is a lot to be said for getting out there or just setting your Treadmill on 1% incline and going for an indoor stroll.

Soon you might dislike running too, because hate is such a strong word.