Yes, we are still alive!  This post should be talking about oh-so many things…Scout’s 11th birthday, the fact that he’s been seeing a social worker who has referred us to yet another doctor that specializes in OCD and tics that he believes may be coming on from his meds, Scout acing the Geography Bee at his school and now going on to State in less than a week…all such important things to share, but alas….not tonight.  My school studies have taken so much of my time that I haven’t been able to share much of Scout’s adventures these days…I will get to it, I promise–but for now there is something else I want to make sure you all know about!

Recently my friend James contacted me about a fabulous school called Minnesota Life College.  Being that April is Autism Awareness month we thought it would be a great time to shed a little light on this gem.  In reading about this place I felt honored to share what I’ve learned.

Minnesota Life College, or MLC, is a not-for-profit vocational and life-skills training program for young adults with learning disabilities and autism spectrum disorders.  Not only do they help them learn and grow in a safe and caring environment, MLC partners with organizations and business to help facilitate the graduates find work.  Many graduates go on to live in an extension of the community called GLC, the Graduate Living Community.  For you parents out there wondering just where your child will fit in once they finish high school, doesn’t this just sound like a dream??

Watching these video success stories of Jason and Anna-Lisa is so heartwarming.

I have to say, even though Scout has got a few years before I have to start worrying about the college thing (OK, you got me…I started worrying about college the day he got his diagnosis!) it really surprises me that this school is right outside my back door and I have never heard of it.  I don’t know if he’ll need such a place or not, but it sure makes me breathe a bit easier knowing it’s there.  Please spread the word and let people know this is there for them!!!

Ahhh, the Great Minnesota Get-Together.  It  wouldn’t be summer without it.  Since C-man grew up doing this as a 4-H member it’s been a tradition for us since the kids were babies. (this is the ONLY reason he has the patience for it.  This is the man who wouldn’t wait in any lines at Disneyland but sat on a bench and waited for us to be done with the rides.  !)  It being my birthday, it was a great way to celebrate!  I knew better than to not try to stump the age guesser…I tried that years ago when we hit the fair on the day of my birth and he guessed me two years older.  ouch.

Kids LOVE the fair, of course, and Scout is no exception.  I’m impressed and amazed by this, since your typical (not that there really is a typical!) kid on the spectrum couldn’t stand the noise, commotion, and general unpredictable-ness of such a place!!  Of course he wants the entire day to be about HIM and sometimes gets a bit ruffled when the rest of us have something we want to do instead of his first choice, but I suppose any child can get that way.  The fact that it is a wonder he can enjoy such a thing was brought home to me when I met a woman there who mentioned she had 12 year old twins with autism that stayed home because they just couldn’t handle it.  (Hi Wendy!)  I felt sad for her that she couldn’t enjoy the look of joy on their faces that I get to experience with Scout as he encounters new sights and pushes himself a bit to do things that may make him uncomfortable.

Probably Scout’s favorite experience of the fair was this Bubble pen sponsored by Mr. Bubble. (I have a thing for Mr. Bubble…Scout wasn’t the only one who got a temporary tattoo of the cute little thing on his arm!)  This was new to the fair this year and oh-so-cool!  There was a bubble machine pumping out more and more bubbles as kids ran, rolled and piled bubbles all over themselves.  It was a hoot.  We warned Scout that he would be wet-wet-wet for a looong time after as we walked around the fair, but he went in anyway and never complained after.  I was very impressed by this as even I would NOT be comfortable walking around for hours in wet underwear!  Take that, Sensory Issues!!

Scout and I always hit the Butterfly House every year.  C-man could care less and V is deathly afraid of their tickle, so it’s something Scout and I have together that we love doing.  It’s so magical to have butterflies land on you like old friends.  You can have them climb onto your finger and it’s like they love being there.  I don’t know how they tame those things, but somehow they do! 🙂  I love this photo I got, Scout with a big moth on one hand and the other one having just taken flight off of his other finger.  Plus nothing brings you down to earth more than having a stranger tell you that you have a butterfly on your butt.  I’m telling you, these butterflies are friendly.

Each year the kids enter art work in the fair.  I never would have thought of this but my hubby does this himself and started the kids on it when they were quite young. (this is actually the first year my hubby got in after 10 years of trying!  wahoo!)  V did not get her painting in this year, but Sullivan’s clay polar bear box won a 2nd place ribbon!  I think entering this contest is a great lesson for the kids.  They see the value of their creations and of course feel very proud if they are recognized.  It’s also a good lesson if they’re not.  It’s so fun to go into the building and see their piece on display in the glass case!

This was the first year Scout really hit the main Midway.  He still did a few rides in the smaller ‘Kidway’, but as night fell and we headed over to the big scary rides for our teen V, Scout was ready to try a few.  One he loved so much he even went on twice.  He still won’t ever go on the scary rides–of course, 15 year old V won’t either!–and he seems to avoid anything that spins. (ironic, since spinning was a therapy he had years ago during some OT time) But he was so proud of the fact that he tried the rides he did, and he loved every minute. V even lowered herself to go on with him. I can’t tell you how happy it made me to see him up there, being brave and experiencing pure joy.  Seeing he and his sister together was enough to make sappy mom cry some tears.  Lord knows I can’t do those rides anymore, sadly, but I do remember that feeling they gave me.  It was such a feeling of freedom to fly threw the air.  It was scary, exhilarating, and nothing made you feel more alive.  I looked up at my two kids smiling and knowing they were feeling that way and I just felt overwhelmed with love and gratefulness that they are a part of my life.  Seeing them fly through the air I felt how they can do anything in their lives, they are free and healthy and happy.  Nothing is more satisfying for a mom than that feeling.  All this for the price of admission to a State Fair.  Well worth it.  The Great Minnesota Get-Together indeed!

‘Tis the season indeed. No, not for cornucopias, marshmallow turkeys or Christmas decorations that are up wayyy too early in Target–but the season of sickness.  Once school starts you just know your child is going to bring all sorts of little beasties home with him or her, as school is just one big petrie dish. Honestly, I felt quite lucky that neither Scout nor V had come down with anything yet this school year, but of course the luck is bound to run dry at some point.

I was actually out of town over the weekend, doing a much-needed cabin getaway with a couple of girlfriends.  Vacation over, reality definitely struck as soon as I walked in the door and my son’s lower lip started to quiver as he announced that he felt like he might throw up.  Lucky for both of us that never did happen, but apparently he had had a fever all day and was just feeling overall crummy. Fever, a bit of a sore throat, tummy ache….hey, wait a minute.

That is strep.  I would know—whenever either of my kids have it, it presents itself in that exact way.  Typically it’s not very dramatic, except for maybe the swabbing part of the test.  The last time Scout had strep though, he was incredibly sick.  He threw up so many times that he had to get the antibiotics in a shot verses the medicine form, as we knew he’d never keep it down.  THAT was not fun.  I didn’t even have to experience that one, Coreman actually was the unlucky parent that got to take him to the doctor that time.  With it’s very big needle and thick syrup-like consistency, it’s the painful shot that kids’ nightmares are made of.  You know it’s bad when the nurse tells you it’s gonna hurt.  No candy-coating that one.

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