Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Members Only

The latest statistics from the Centers For Disease Control say that 1 in 110 children have autism, and the figure for boys is 1 in 70. So where are they all? It seems like I see 110 kids in just one trip to Target. On average, like 105 of them are screaming their heads off, but not because they're autistic. Where all our autistic brethren be? It's not like I don't recognize the signs. I just never see any of them out and about. We were just at the mall yesterday where there were tons of kids...if the statistics are correct, there should have been at least one other kid keeping Audrey company flapping her arms at the bottom of the escalator.

One time I saw a boy at the park who looked be about 2 1/2...he couldn't converse much, but he was able to sing several Beatles songs word for word. I thought that I had found a fellow "club" member, but it turned out he just had a nerdlinger Beatlemaniac father who was coaching him to be the next You Tube sensation.

Then there was the time that we were at McDonalds and I saw a boy that appeared to be autistic, but I wasn't sure when I saw a woman using sign language with him. He seemed to be able to hear and speak, but did demonstrate some autistic behaviors. I struck up a conversation with the woman who confirmed that he was indeed autistic, and she explained that, even though he could hear perfectly well, they used sign language because it seemed more effective for him as his "receptive" language. Meaning that he was more likely to pay attention and follow instructions that were signed rather than spoken to him. I had never heard of such a thing, and immediately felt guilty for not having tried this approach with Audrey.

But my feelings of inadequacy didn't end there. This woman looked like a million bucks...smokin' bod, stylish clothes, perfectly coiffed. She could not have possibly been his mother. Besides her physical appearance, she also appeared to bring far too much energy to the situation to be his mother. She was all over him -- signing to him, engaging him, and redirecting him from repetitive behaviors -- while I sat there watching Audrey repeatedly drop an air hockey puck into the goal slot with my face covered in cinnamon melt. I rationalized that she must be a therapist who had him on a community outing. Then I heard him call her “Mommy”. Doh! Why wasn't I wearing size 0 skinny jeans and stiletto-heeled shabooties? Why did I always look like Glen Campbell's mug shot, while she looked like....that?

Something didn't smell right, and it wasn't just my unwashed hair. She claimed that her son went to school in our school district, but didn't seem familiar with any of the teachers, programs, or administrators that I mentioned. And there was something that I just couldn't put my finger on that gave her an air of detachment. Finally, she rounded up her son and said that she had to go...wanted to beat the traffic up to Grayslake. Where she lived. Fifty miles away from where her son lives. A-HA! I knew it. Before I could pry into the circumstances that led to this living arrangement, she was off. Hey, I could look that good too if I lived an hour and a half away from Audrey. Well, maybe not that good. I would probably have to enact my fake-my-own-death plan and get a hell of a lot further away than 50 miles to look that good. But I would look better for sure. I would at least be upgraded from Glen Campbell’s mug shot to Joyce DeWitt’s.

16 comments:

  1. Priceless!
    Lynn, you never cease to amaze me- day after day you bring me a bit of your reality, which makes me think twice or three times about my reality...really,do I need to wig out over a misplaced mouthguard? Do the hockey puck dings on the garage doors really look so bad?
    Your blog is something I SO look forward to everyday. Sometimes I howl with laughter and sometimes I gasp with a shocked giggle, but everyday I am thankful for you and Audrey.

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  2. I've stumbled here from Blog Gems (again!) and just love your writing! Feeling inadequate sums up how I felt for most of the first year of Ts life. If only I could have discovered the hidden secret behind all of those skinny, yummy mummies... :)

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  3. She might look better than you, but you can comfort yourself that you are a much more engaged mom who is an active participant in her daughter's life and education. I wish we could have known more about her story... can you make something up for me?

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  4. Don't be jealous but, I get better looking everyday and I live in the same house with my boy. You should see me in my stiletto heeled shabooties. Those are gym shoes, right?

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  5. ha! Big Daddy kills me! And of course she was smokin' . . . but what elsw was she smokin'?? 'cuz there was most certainly a reason she wasn't with this child. Just sayin.

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  6. I'm still laughing at the comparison to Glenn Campbell's mug shot..I find wearing cinnamon on the face to be a very strong fashion statement-you go you trend setter mom!

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  7. We need to get together to compare FMOD plans. If the details are too similar it will look fishy.

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  8. I don't suppose there's any chance you've seen this woman since April and had the opportunity to ask her about her living arrangements? Strange set-up. Great post.

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  9. I frequented this McDonalds for a while afterwards (cuz that's how I roll) and I never saw her again. My made-up backstory is that she divorced her husband and left her special needs child for a rich old guy. She threw herself into learning sign language and the like to assuage her guilt, and her pampered lifestyle left her plenty of uninterrupted time on her hands to do so. And she'd had lots of lypo and plastic surgery to keep herself looking that good. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

    @Aimee: No can know the details. But we should probably have some kind of a sign letting each other know when we put it into motion.

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  10. lol great post Lynn! mugshot brilliant!! I have very rarely seen any "club" members out and about in Ireland! And yet there are supposed to be a number of kids in my area!

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  11. I must live in Autism, USA 'cause I see flappy, spinny, hoppy, drony kids everywhere I go. I'm convinced the number of kids with autism in school will outnumber the "normies" by the time Xander graduates. There will be a revolution and I will be crowned Queen Mother of the Autism King and all will genuflect to me and...and...too much?

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  12. My jaw was on the ground when you described her and I was wondering the exact same thing, HOW? Some day I will post a full length pic of me in all my 'normal day' glory and you will understand why lol.

    I can spot a child with autism a mile off but I am don't approach the parents (much as I would love a chat) because we have a rubbish health system here and I can't be sure that the child will have been diagnosed yet. Imagine if I went up and started talking about autism in that situation!

    Hence the bloggy world and my blogging friends:)

    Jen

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  13. @Happy13: I agree that our kids will outnumber the normies one day soon...but who died and made you Queen?? You will have quite a bit of competition amongst us moms. And we'd better hope there's not a swimsuit competition or the mom in the post would run away with it.

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  14. There are so many times I feel inadequate (i have even wrote about it); especially with all these magazines with these mothers looking amazing. Then I think most of these celebs have a 24 hr live-in around the clock nanny if not more than one. I often see other children at the playground that may be part of the "club" and then they start talking up a storm out of no where and I think maybe not. I have only met one little girls mother at the playground recently who seems to fit the discription but I am not sure if her mother knows it. Needless to say atleast we have an online club; or community rather. Cheers :-)

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  15. I feel inadequate every freakin' day. I think constantly living in survival mode has a way of doing that to a person.

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  16. I think I have just found my next entrpreneurial niche! With that many autties in the mainstream world I am going to make sure that I am first to launch the franchises of "Stim-Sational" a store full of all sorts of catalysts to stoke your favorite behavior, or perhaps "Spin-Tastic" a store (and adjacent entertainment area) where you autties can pull vitit to get a quick fix to just get em through their day of dealing with "normal" people. I could bill by the hour (or...hour, 7 minutes and 24 seconds - for my Aspie customers). Of course it would be full of toy cars nailed upside down to buffet-like bars with stools to sit for comfort and convenience, all sorts of assorted sizes and colors of plates, stove pan tops (the louder, larger and more annoying the better, light and dimmer switches to operate to their hearts content with the brightest lighting humanbly available, and plenty of door latches, locks, fasteners and child proof mechanisms for them to use insanely until they feel...just right!!

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