msagara: (Default)
Something [livejournal.com profile] comrade_cat said in the comments tickled a thought I frequently have.

Blaming the crappy part of my life on my parents' divorce is so fucking
cliché though, and I don't want to penalize my parents for making what I
feel was the right decision at the time.

Maybe this is what [livejournal.com profile] msagara means about not blaming people.


It’s exactly what I meant )
msagara: (Default)
When I wrote my post on help, I had a second topic I wanted to address. As it happens, I wrote about a number of things in between, but I haven’t forgotten.

I’ve written about my oldest son in a number of posts. Everything in this post is only indirectly about my son. It is mostly about me, about my first year-and-a-half as a new parent, and about the evolution of love as an act of endurance.

On learning to love as a parent )
msagara: (Default)
When I started writing these posts well over a year ago, I had two things in mind.

First, I wanted to write about how my ASD son and elementary school. I wanted to talk about how the environment was safe, and the efforts required to make it safe for him. The efforts are not small, and they're not about punishment. If the environment does not feel safe for almost all of the children in it - including those who bully - it frequently fails.

It's vastly easier to make the household a safe environment. It involves far fewer people, and far fewer cultural contexts.

Second, I wanted to write about my own experiences with an ASD child, because I know a lot of people out there are facing some of the same difficulties, and they often feel isolated. By putting these posts up, I wanted to let people know, for a few minutes at a time, that they were not alone.

These posts were not meant as advice )

Also: if anyone has any questions about anything I've written, ask them here, and I'll try to answer them. If you don't want to ask them with identifiers, ask them anonymously, or ask them in email.
msagara: (Default)
My son's pediatrician was a woman who was shorter than I am and I swear half my weight; she was also in her fifties. I met her when she was doing the round of newborns at the hospital at which my son was born. She was the *only* adult who could, when he was newborn, handle him at all without causing an outburst of screaming. So I asked if we could continue to see her outside of the hospital visit. She agreed.

One of the things I really liked about my son’s pediatrician was that she was ultimately an extremely pragmatic, no-nonsense woman. She had strong ideas of what would be best for a child - but she also had strong ideas of what would be best for a family dynamic. She understood that asking parents to do things they simply could not willingly/happily do over the long-term was courting the type of anxiety and resentment that eats away at a family.

Advice from the pediatrician, applied )
msagara: (Default)
I've been writing posts that are, roughly, about family - or rather, about mine. Today, I am writing about me. And about my interactions with race.

I am: a cis-gendered woman (for those who don't know what this means yet, it means someone who is comfortable being the gender to which they were born), straight, PoC (person of color).

Have any of the boxes in which I have just put myself caused me difficulties in my life? Yes. In various ways, some personal, some public, yes. But you know - it's the hand I was dealt. I can't change the hand I was dealt - my job, if job is the right word, is to play that hand for all it's worth. Or more. Some people will see little - or no - value in the hand I was dealt. Sometimes they will try to make that my problem. Sometimes it's tricky, and sometimes it's annoying. When I say annoying, I mean enraging, but: I've met a lot of people in my life, and the operative word in that phrase is: sometimes.

I am married. I have a house. I have two children. In most aspects, I struggle to maintain the middle-class existence I've chosen. It is a pretty mainstream existence, although my guess is the neighbors hate the weekly jungle that is our lawn.

I have a much easier life than my parents did. My parents, being Japanese Canadian, lost their homes (and in my father's case, his family, because both parents died, and there was no left who wanted four Japanese kids who could afford to take them) to the internment camps of the second world war. Their life was very, very hard. Most of my aunts and uncles did not finish school because they couldn't afford to: they needed to go out and work at whatever jobs they could find to feed their family. There were nine children.

I look at their lives, and I know my life has been so much better, in part because of the work they did, in part because of the changes in the society around them.

I am not telling you any of this because I want your sympathy. Sympathy is good - but I don't really feel that I need it. I don't generally ask people not to comment, because I like comments, but if I can ask one thing from commenters on this post, it's that: Please don't offer me sympathy for being who I am. Don't offer me sympathy because my parents were who they were.

On being a visible minority and individuality )
msagara: (Default)
If you’ve been reading these posts for the last week, you know that my intention was to write two posts. The first, about help, I did write. The second, I still haven’t written. This is very much in keeping with the way I write anything. I have a general idea. I put the words on the screen. And then other words arise out of interaction, and, well.

We, as parents, all want our children to be happy. I take that as a given. We do not always make our children happy - but at base, we want our children to lead happy, long lives.

Given the way life works, life is not predictable. We are adults, our children are not. We know the things that caused us pain - and we want to help our own children avoid that pain, and avoid bearing those scars.

But... )

And now, I am running out of the house because it’s our 23rd anniversary :)
msagara: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] spiffikins asked:

Looking back at our own efforts, we had lots of battles :) I've love to hear how you applied these rules to situations where your son didn't want to do something, like have his bath or get dressed/put his shoes on for school or participate in the day to day activities of helping out (setting the table, doing dishes, doing homework) - it seems we always had conflict, and the majority of it with my brother was getting him to do something that he didn't want to do, but that needed to be done.


I’ve been thinking about this today while at work shelving books - which hopefully will not result in too many mis-shelved novels.

This answer was too long for the comment thread, which is why it’s a post. )
msagara: (Default)
I replied, in my previous comment thread, to a comment, and then realized that I had more - I know this will come as a surprise to you all - to say.

One of the hallmarks of an ASD child and his general speech is that ASD children can talk non-stop for hours about the topics which interest them. Or obsess them. From an outsider's perspective, it's often hard to separate the two.

They frequently cannot talk about anything else. When my oldest was in elementary school, I could ask him about his school day, but by the time he crossed the threshold and entered the house, the last thing he wanted to talk about was school. At all. I therefore got a blank stare, when he was younger, or "it was fine" when he was older. That was the extent of the information I was given. For this reason, among others, I was in steady contact with his teachers in the early years.

My oldest was that variety of Aspergers which is precociously verbal. He taught himself to read in order to play The Incredible Machine and Diablo. He couldn't stand to wait for us to read things to him, in the first case (all of the level goals were of course in words), or wait for me to tell him what items the monsters had dropped, in the second.

He could talk about Diablo or the incredible machine for days. So I played the Incredible Machine and Diablo. We played Diablo together on the home network. I played video games before he was born, and after, so we had an interest in common.

The interest in common was very helpful in turning the exposition or monologue into a dialogue, because he wanted to talk about the things that interested him.

To a lesser extent, all children are like this. They want to be heard. ASD, non-ASD, they want to be heard. ASD children are developmentally much younger than normative children, and their social skills are therefore several years behind the curve. When other children are engaging in conversation, the ASD child will be engaging in monologue, because he is arrested at the 'want to be heard' level for far longer than the other children.

I was asked, by the parent of a five year old ASD boy, what I'd done to cause my nine year old son to converse. The prevailing thought is that it is neither healthy nor normal to allow an ASD child to monologue, and if the child is doing this, he must be stopped.

I'm afraid I disagree with this.

I'm afraid I disagree with this. )
msagara: (Default)
[personal profile] reneekytokorpi's comment in a previous thread made me think. In particular:
This is so helpful, and I'm very grateful that you're sharing. While I'm not familiar with Asperger's or Autism, my family struggles with my brother's Kleinfelter's and your insights are helping me explain things in new ways. They're not related disorders, but the coping skills and ways you approached things give us fresh things to try to clear up confusion. Thank you!


Coupled with my oldest son's eighteenth birthday, made me thoughtful.

A disclaimer, which is not ritual, and some thoughts about compromise & consistency )

I'm sorry about the constant interruptions, here. I have a whole new set of page proofs (but they are small, compared to the beginning of the month's novel's worth), but I am halfway through the exit interview of grade one, and looking toward grade two.
msagara: (Default)
My oldest son, who is the partial subject of so many of the posts about Aspergers and school, is now eighteen years old. By the standards of Canada, he is a legal adult. (I refer to this age as "the age at which we can legally kick you out of the house", which he finds amusing. Mostly.)

This is, in part, an open letter to my son.
A letter to my son on his eighteenth birthday )

ETA: in case it's not obvious from context, the long anonymous post is from my son :D
msagara: (Default)
Towards the end of the grade one year, I was allowed to accompany the class on a field trip as a volunteer. I say allowed because in this case, it's the correct word. My son's teacher knew two things about my son: He was extremely 'challenging', and I understood him well. My understanding of my son, however, was a product of my home environment. Her classroom was obviously not our home; it was her space. She needed to be in charge of it, and she needed to handle my son in a way that allowed him to be integrated into the class's activities as much as he possibly could.

My first field trip with the grade one class )

ETA: I think one of the things that made dealing with the teachers, the classmates and the other parents simpler was the constant evaluation of what I would feel like if I were the parents of other children affected by my son, because if I were those parents, I wouldn't know him, and possibly wouldn't care.
msagara: (Default)
The store is moved, and two thirds of it is on the shelves; the computer that died (which was ancient) has been replaced with a computer that's less ancient, and it's now sitting on the new countertop in said store; I've finished contract negotiations for something upcoming in future (about which I'll speak more when things are completely firm), and I've been working at catching up on the writing I lost to the move and the convention.

I still have outstanding reading (not books, not reviews, but pre-pubbed things I really want to read), which I hope to catch up on in the week to follow.

Because it's heading into that time of year, I want to talk about Santa Claus in our ASD household.
Why there is no Santa Claus in our house )
msagara: (Default)
Something occurred to me while doing my page proofs -- because, face it, page proofs are miserable enough that my brain is always struggling to get away into the realm of Any Other Thought.

I think there's a lot of pressure to be a Perfect parent. (Yes, there's a lot of pressure to be perfect in general -- but I'm sort of thinking about parenting at the moment, rather than the general case).
Anger management, sort of )
* The husband points out that I should mention my son's age when I began to build this: he was three years old at that point. There's no point at all in trying to reason with a six month old; you will only get ulcers and it won't stop the screaming. I reasoned that when he could talk in a meaningful way, when he could ask questions (although he started that much earlier), I had to start coming up with answers that he could understand.
msagara: (Default)
Okay, I know I said I was going to head into kindergarten and grade one in this next post, but I really, really feel the need to address something here.

I consider all of these entries to be very specifically about my thoughts and process, very much like my posts about writing are. I once wrote a post comparing being a mother to being a writer, and I want to take a moment to do something similar, because I feel it's still true.
Parent process and writing process are both unique )

[livejournal.com profile] nerthus, I want specifically to address this last part to you.

Our situations are so very, very different. My son is ASD, yes. But he is not diabetic, he is not severely arthritic, he can walk, dress himself, brush his teeth; he is not in constant pain.
My son, safe space, and fear )
msagara: (Default)
Writing short stories is absolutely the fastest way to gain skill. Amateurs will say "but I only write novels!" Pros know better.
--Advice from a published writer, offered on Twitter

I am obviously an Amateur.
Because having written over a dozen published novels clearly hasn't put me in a position where I, as the tweet says, know better )

Edited because "being" and "begin" are not the same words, even if they contain the same letters.
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