I used to bite my tongue and hold my breath
Scared to rock the boat and make a mess
So I sat quietly, agreed politely
I guess that I forgot I had a choice
I let you push me past the breaking point
I stood for nothing, so I fell for everything~ Katy Perry, Roar 

I wish I wasn’t a judgmental as I am. I admit it. I look at things through my own view of life and I wonder…a lot. One social media friend has made a huge deal about having endoscopy and a colonoscopy. I mean, the week leading up to the event was filled with comments  about how they couldn’t even open the envelope with the instructions in it because they were petrified. Now they’re posting about how hard the recovery is for them. And I’m reading this thinking “seriously!”

Others make comments about my life along the lines of “I wish I could do that” and all I can think of is “why not?” You may not be able to do exactly what I’m doing, but you don’t need someone’s permission to get out and about. It’s a choice I make. Unless I’m in the hospital or feeling exceptionally crappy, I’m up and doing because that’s how I think. It’s much harder to hit me if I keep moving 🙂

In another social media thread, someone asked for suggestions about managing their healthcare. I tried to be helpful, but when the poster stated they could never question their doctor out of respect, I went off. It’s your health that you should be talking about. If you make an appointment to see your provider, you should leave with fewer questions than you came in with. There is nothing “wrong” with making sure you understand expectations.

We all get to make choices. We all hope our choices are the “right” ones. Reality is, you won’t know until you go for it. You won’t find your limit if you never push yourself. You won’t get through the next thing on your list if you stay in one place. You won’t learn anything if you never ask questions. If you just want to sit there, that’s fine. I’ll catch you when I get back from my next adventure.


Speaking up

Today is Autistics Speaking Day. No connection to a certain organization that thinks Autistics can’t speak. It’s about Autistics telling their stories. So, here’s mine.

I went to public schools in the US. I have memories of being derided by peers, shunned, called to the office and generally “not good” times. I often wonder why my parents didn’t “crack” more often given how much trouble I got in to. Note to self: Arguing with teachers when you are the student is relatively impossible.

I had good times too. Caring teachers including Bob Cleckner, Randy Nissly and Carol Dunning. There were others who allowed me to embrace my inner weirdo. I wrote papers on Norse Mythology for Gayle Fisher because everyone else wrote about Greek or Roman. Let’s just say that not having the Internet in 1985 made that project very challenging. And yet, she let me go and learn instead of trying to force me into a box.

I still believe that is the key to my relatively successful adult career. My actions and thoughts may seem “not mainstream” but I’ve learned that’s okay. I’ve learned to express myself in ways that while “not mainstream,” are close enough to be interesting. It’s okay that my stream runs parallel to others. It makes life more interesting and certainly more satisfying.

I was diagnosed 2 years ago as an adult. To borrow some words…suddenly things made more sense to me. At first, I tried to carry on as I always had. Now I openly embrace my neurodiversity. I tell people. Not all the time, but if they comment on the way I present things, I will say that thinking differently allows me to expand their horizons. That being Autistic is challenging, but not impossible. That I can still hold a job and a conversation, even at the same time <sarcasm>.

I have been fortunate that the only abuse inflicted upon me was through the standard punishments at school. I don’t recall that I was singled out. I was in the office a lot, but so were many other kids. I spent my fair share of being grounded at home. Through the long lens of time, I actually had a pretty awesome childhood.

I feel for those who didn’t have the opportunities I did. No Autistic should be penalized for being Autistic. I do remember that we had special schools and that I did not see a person with a permanent disability in my class until about 1980. I can’t tell you what went on in those schools other than my mother volunteered at one.

I can tell you that in 1992 I worked in a school in Virginia that still had a “quiet room” that was padded. Most of the students spent some time in there every day. I will also say that it was a school for the emotionally disabled. After being punched and kicked a few times, I understood why the room was used. Students were not placed there just for verbally lashing out. It is hard to describe even now. I’m not sure that de-escalation techniques would have worked. I do remember that there were safety checks every 3-5 minutes and as soon as the student was done with physical lashing out, we brought them out and processed the what’s and why’s. No student spent more than 15 minutes in the room.

Today, I volunteer my time helping families affected by Autism. I help schools recognize the need for differentiated instruction. I speak for students who are struggling in mainstream classes. I speak for self-determination and recognition of different, not less.

So, there it is. As an adult, I am reflecting on the impact of Autism on my life. I understand not everyone shares my experiences. I do want people to understand that what shaped me as a child continues to impact me as an adult. I take the good with the bad and try to make the best of it.


Bully Me

I have so many different things to write about because of things that are happening now. But I read this article and I just couldn’t stop the words from tumbling out of my brain. You may have seen it. You can find the original here : Bullying.

In case you don’t have time to click and read….

  1. Bullying promotes Autism friendly programs. If you believe this, let me give you my Paypal info too. You can just drop some cash in there instead of supporting said “program.”
  2. Team Work: Working together as a team in partnership with you as the parent, the school’s teaching staff, aides, principal, counselors, and psychologists will provide the safest environment for your child to learn and enjoy.
    Um, yeah. I don’t know about you but no matter how hard I try, I can’t get the school to cooperate. It’s always my fault.
  3. Autism Awareness Every Month: Yep, people become really aware of how “perfect” their kids are. And they still don’t give a crap about you, your child or your family.
  4. Kids Learn Skills: The bullies become better bullies and the victims become more traumatized.
  5. Builds Strength: As your child learns defensive skills from you, his friends, and his teachers, he is growing stronger connections with everyone.
    As your child is getting either the physical or emotional crap beat out of them, I’m sure this is what we’re all thinking.
  6. More Friendships: Because we all know that other kids flock to the victim’s side and abandon the bully, who is usually seen as more popular.
  7. Overall Well-Being Are you seeing a pattern yet? I would love to know how my kid’s well being is improving as more and more peers shun my child for being a victim.
  8. Healthy Relationships: Ways to deal with bullying also help your child deal with sibling rivalry, ‘stranger danger’, or any other personal threat.
    My kid doesn’t even know what a “healthy relationship” looks like because someone is always beating the crap out of them, including the verbal abuse from the teacher.
  9. Increased Life Skills I can see this one. I’ll tell you why in a few sentences to follow.
  10. Self-Esteem: Ironically, and in spite of the bully’s goal to do the opposite, your child will grow self-confidence and self-preservation esteem. By now, I am wondering exactly what corner of this fair land the author hails from.

This is just a “kids” version from the author. Let me know give you a peek behind the curtain….

I’m an adult with Autism. I’m 47 years old. Some of my most vivid memories from my childhood involve many of the above items. I didn’t develop “self-preservation” skills. I survived. I survived the forced teamwork, where I was always picked last (how’s that for a self-confidence boost). My parents had the joy of dealing with the school on  a regular basis. It was not even cordial. Most of the time, my mom had to come and explain why I was in trouble. You know, because the staff was so supportive and understanding.

Life skills…I did learn to beat the crap out of bullies. I did learn how not to tick off my teachers. Yep, don’t question them at all. I learned to blend in by wearing the “in” style of clothes and mimicking my “successful” peers. I guess you could say I did learn life skills.

So, here’s the deal. The author of this article claims to be an ABA professional. She claims to have helped thousands “find their way” through books and seminars. I don’t believe in ABA. Maybe it’s because it didn’t exist in my world. Maybe because I feel focusing on forcing yourself to be something you are not is a waste of time. Maybe it’s because I didn’t eat enough glue in preschool, wait….kindergarten.

I am a living, breathing human being who still has to deal with bullies. They are everywhere, including on the internet in articles like this. Why is it EVER okay to say bullying is a good thing?



How to be a jerk

Unfortunately, I know a few people who don’t need to read this. They have perfected the art form. Maybe they don’t realize it, but if for some reason you find your head bobbing along as you read this, pay attention.

As an Autistic, I have a very keen sense of sarcasm. Yes, I do mean to be sarcastic because I really can’t stand some of the things people do. However, sometimes it not read as sarcastic and then I have some ‘splainin to do. Sometimes I speak directly to the point and it’s seen as sarcasm. Again, explain it and move on. But some people are just au naturel jerks.

Let’s start with what should be obvious. Someone does something for you, in a good way, you say thank you. Walking through a door and dropping it into the next person’s face is being a jerk. Being part of a conversation and not allowing anyone else to speak, you are being a jerk. Insisting your way is the only way, you are being a jerk. Pushing people around because “you can” makes you a jerk.

Using people for your gain, as in accepting gifts and not saying thank you, makes you a jerk. Using said gift to hurt the gifter makes you a jerk. Telling people to butt out because you have no room in your life for advice makes you a jerk. Not making room for the people you consider friends makes you a jerk.

Speaking rudely about other people to your friends makes you a jerk. Lying to people makes you a jerk. Taking advantage of people makes you a jerk. Trashing someone on social media makes you a jerk.

I think you have the idea. If you would want someone to do any of the above to you, then you need to reexamine you state in life. There is no reason for you to accept someone in your life who is a continuous jerk. We all make mistakes and I feel those should be forgiven. However, a pathological jerk just needs to leave you alone.

What can you do to resolve any tendencies toward being a jerk that you may exhibit? Start with the opposite of the above example. Try the “do unto others as you would have then do unto you” philosophy. Think about your behavior. Is it kind? Would want to hear the same thing? Is it productive? I won’t go into truthful because that’s subjective, but the truth can be said in ways that don’t paint you as a jerk.

Your challenge: Distance yourself from people who insist upon being jerks. They thrive off your reactions, so don’t give them any. Work to improve your own behavior so you become a better person and can withstand the occasional jerk. Evaluate your friends and if you want to keep them, tell them when they are being jerks. Otherwise, send them on their way.

Together, we can make things better. Maybe stop a bully or two along the way. It’s definitely worth the shot.

Closed mind

A few years ago, almost 5 to be exact, I embarked a journey. I decided to utilize a service dog to help mitigate some of the problems my disabilities cause. It was not a decision I made lightly. Up until then, I had owned pet dogs. You know, the kind that come when they feel like it and maybe sit for 2 seconds. I was about to train a dog for some very specialized work, so I went looking for answers.

At first, I did what we all do. I joined every social media group relating to service dogs. I bookmarked page after page of organizations and blogs that related to service dogs. There was lots of information, At the time, I didn’t know anything about training so it all seemed valid.

And then I was schooled. People started criticizing the breed of dog I was training, the type of leash I used, the way I walked, the words I used to train and pretty much everything else I did. At first, it was confusing. Then it became downright hurtful. I learned that there are people in the service dog community that only want to tear down in the name of helping.

I also learned there are poseurs, liars, cheats and downright hostile individuals in the service dog world. I shouldn’t be surprised because, well, they’re people and you’ll find that all types across humanity. I became disillusioned and decided to leave all that behind. Unfortunately, it still occasionally catches up with me.

Poseurs, or people who think they are the best trainer EVER, still catch me off guard. They look good. They talk a good talk. And then, comes the walk. The walk reveals that they really don’t know what they are doing. The walk reveals that they lack the true insight into working with dogs to get the best results. The walk reveals that their dog is nothing more than a highly trained pet.

They’re not the fakers you hear about in the news. These people do have disabilities that could be mitigated by a service dog, which is what the law requires if you’re going to work a dog. Yet, their dogs just lack….something. It makes me uncomfortable to be around a dog that doesn’t “work.” Yes, I know “work” looks different across the board. These people just seem to have a dog.

My first instinct is to try to figure out why I feel this way. Then I want to help. Which is when I get smacked upside the head. You would think I learned my lesson by now. It’s like raising a child. No one really wants your thoughts because they already KNOW everything and feel their way is the best way. I’m left wondering why people even ask for comments if all they are going to do is get pissed off and lash out.

So, here I am. Five years of service dog training and handling experience that apparently means nothing to anyone but me. Forty-five years of living with dogs and learning about their behaviors, which also means nothing to anyone but me. A sense of wonder at why people refuse to accept that there may be other ways to do things. To consider that there are vast amounts of knowledge at their fingertips that could make their journey easier.

I guess it’s all in your attitude. Are you willing to accept that someone else may have ideas that could help you? Or are you firmly entrenched in your views and unwilling to see what others see? A closed mind is the biggest disability out there.

PS: While this is about service dogs, you can plug in just about any noun and it will still apply.

Letting Go

If you can read this, you probably have some of what we collectively call baggage. You know, the things in our past that shape our current thoughts and behaviors. Everything from how you were raised to what you ate for lunch could count as baggage depending upon your perspective. Many people feel the word only applies to “negative” things that they remember. I feel it applies to everything we’ve experienced in our lives.

Sure, some of the baggage is olive drab in it’s packaging…things that just are. Like eating a tuna sandwich for lunch. Other baggage is sparkly neon purple for all the things we consider wonderful in our lives. And still more is basic black, only trotted out on special occasions.

Let’s talk about those occasions. You may have heard the phrase “it’s ok to “go there,” just don’t unpack.” That’s what basic black is all about. It is the really high and really low points of our lives. The things we are most proud of, and sometimes most ashamed of, that we keep sacred until a trusted person or two gets us talking about our memories. We can put on our basic black in a formal fashion, tux or long dress. We can choose to wear all black clothing to suit our mood. The color does tend to create a certain mindset of those around us when  we wear casual black  colored clothing.

Enough allegory. We’ve all got things we’re proud of and things we’re ashamed about. Just read social media to find out what people are proud of in their lives. It’s chock full of goofy pictures, witty sayings and happy status updates. Sometimes, someone posts a “downer.” I’m never sure how to respond to those, mainly because I have a hard time determining depth of feeling. There are posts about things I can’t relate to as I have never experienced that particular situation. All I have to offer to the poster is a cyberhug.

Then there are the people who post about things I am very familiar with. I’ve got four decades of baggage to comb through to find the situation that fits. That’s a lot of situations. And…my track record for surviving is still 100%! Yet, when I offer information, be it condolences, or advice, I get smacked. Hard. At least 95% of the time.

Why are people so unwilling to listen to others? Seriously, I can think of several of my social media friends right now that if I say anything about their status, they will lash out at me. Even if I offer praise, I get smacked. I’m left with two options: let it roll or move them to the unfriend zone.

What bothers me the most is when I find my relevant piece of information, and I don’t share anymore unless I’m sure it’s relevant, I am ignored, unfriended or otherwise dismissed. Did I mention the four decades of experience I possess? Yeah, I actually do have valid insight to many situations. They’re not exact, because we view everything through our own lens. But, they are pretty damn close.

I want to be supportive. I really, really do. But, I can’t. If you are not willing to let go of your experience as the only valid experience, you can never gain insight from others. Listening to other people can save you grief, time, money and many other tangible/intangible things. When you choose to ignore it, or you smack someone for trying to help you, eventually people stop helping you.

Which is where I’m at right now. I tried to help someone. I tried to be supportive and demonstrate I believed in them. Instead, I’m being kicked, repeatedly, up side the head. I think I know why (did I mention four decades of experience).The individual has an inflated sense of self. They have been hurt many times and don’t want to be hurt again. They perceive they are knowledgeable. They don’t want to be publicly embarrassed (who does?). A feeling of shame pervades their life and advice is viewed as an attack.

Let. It. Go. The only thing keeping you from moving forward is you. Every person I know has had feelings of shame and inadequacy. Guess what? They have a 100% survival rate so far too. The only thing that is shaming is how you continue to treat other people poorly. It is a reflection of your inability to let go of the past. If you want lashing out to be your legacy, carry on.

Or, choose to allow a little bit of other people into your life. Choose to learn from others. Choose to rejoin the community. Choose to listen, watch and reflect on what people are offering you. You don’t have to take the advice, but if you consider the way it was offered, you might just discover your true self again. Because I don’t want to believe that anger and emotional reactions are really what you want to feel.

Why am I fighting so hard

It’s been a rough couple of days. The big event is that I quit my job. Well, quit is an odd word to use in this case. Let me explain.

Last year, I decided to go back to work. I located what should have been a great job for me…special education teacher at an alternative middle school. Lots of behavior to sort out. I know it’s odd, but after so many years to trying to understand why people did things certain ways, I like untangling those balls of yarn and helping kids see there are other ways to communicate. There were academic challenges of all varieties. Really, lots of diversity which is what keeps my mind in problem solving mode. And I very much like to be in problem solving mode. I accepted the contract.

Like all teaching jobs, the pay was not great. In this case, the pay was almost exactly 1/2 what I should have been earning under the pay scale. I accepted it because I would have the freedom to still take care of my medical needs without having to beg for time off. The contract worked really well for both parties last year. And then, fall arrived.

It seems everyone thought I had the same contract when I left in May. I found out the week before school started that somehow, my paperwork was never processed. Here I was, district ID, building keys, district computer in hand and not a district employee. The principal assured me he was working on it and, in good faith, I showed up for teacher workdays. And the first week of students. Not a district employee…not being paid at all. Left to teach and supervise students without oversight. Two business weeks after the discovery, still not paid what is owed.

In less than a week, I went from being told I would have my own classes and be responsible for my caseload to being an accessory. One teacher kept going to the principal and demanding things like taking a special education student and putting the student into an inappropriate setting because “I’ve been teaching him for 2 years and it’s not fair I don’t get to see him this year.”

The full-time special education teacher never let go of the case load. A martyr complex kept her running. She was always “so busy” and yet refused assistance. She had to be involved in every student. She convinced the administration the she alone was responsible. The teachers would tell me “I’ll just ask Roberta” whenever I made a decision they didn’t like. The last straw…I was sitting in the principal’s office laying out the case for keeping the aforementioned student in the appropriate class. The principal says it’s a conversation he will have to have with Roberta. That’s when I stopped fighting.

You see, I’d been disrespected enough. There is only so much disrespect a person can take before they decide enough. I probably took more than I should have, but I felt obligated to keep the students on track. It turns out, my thoughts weren’t valid or requested. When I left last week, I really felt that they didn’t want me there. I was an inconvenience to be dealt with, not a peer or colleague.

In case you are wondering, this is why I can advocate for students and take districts to task. Here are so-called professionals who only care about their feelings. The irony of this is one of the teachers wrote a passionate op-ed a few weeks ago about caring for student needs. That would be the same one who wanted to take a student out of an appropriate placement because she wanted him in her class. She didn’t want to take the other 17 special education students, just one. That’s not demonstrating caring. That’s blatant discrimination. It’s called cherry picking. I’d bet there would be many parents at that school who would love to know how decisions are being made.

So, I will speak out. I will support parents who question their child’s education. I will answer questions truthfully. We trust that teachers will be “helpers” in our student’s lives. Yet, here is another example of what education really looks like. About how our most vulnerable students are being passed around like a candy dish, each teacher picking their favorite. It’s not okay.

Your challenge is to ask questions. Don’t accept “uh huh” as an answer. Go to the school and see for yourself. You have a right to know what’s going on in your student’s education. And you have a responsibility to make sure your student is receiving the appropriate education that is due.


Why I’m angry

I’ve read a few blog posts recently as well as some social media that indicates a vast majority of people still struggle with disability acceptance. These range from posts about the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act to one post about how awesome a certain Autism organization presents itself. Many of these posts make me angry.

You need to understand I’m not a “person with a disability.” You cannot separate the things that are different about me from my core characteristics. I am the sum of everything that has happened to me. All of my being is wrapped up in a tapestry that you can’t just pull a thread out of and it will still be a tapestry. Thus, I get angry at many posts I consider ignorant.

Let’s start with “disability” and what it means to me. Yep, I’m physically disabled. Got the doctor’s notes and everything. Does that mean I should be tossed aside as useless? I think not. I work a part-time job, volunteer and have an adult family to tend. I pay taxes. I give back to my community. I don’t consider those “worthless.”

I’m considered mentally disabled as well. As an Autistic, I face challenges others do not. However, I hold to the label of Asperger’s and not the newer “ASD” label. My main issues are with social cues, not intellectual difficulties. I’m apparently sarcastic and dry witted. Traits not appreciated by many. I’m frustrated by those who insist Autism  needs a cure. WTH! The last time people wanted to “cure” my type of disorder, several million people were sent to their deaths in gas chambers.

Yes, I’m angry. Autism $peaks has marketed itself to the point where people think it’s a “good” organization, much like the Susan Komen organization. Both are very public faces of diseases. Both have been shunned publicly by the very people they claim to serve. A$ does not speak for Autistics. They promote eugenics, physical and verbal abuse in addition to painting a picture of despair. Bottom line, you “light it up blue” and you are saying Autistics don’t deserve to exist.

There are so many places you can learn about Autism. Support locally to make sure your time and treasure actually help people and not just generate hype. There is no doubt that Autistics need your help. We need your help accepting our differences. We need your help funding respite care for families. We need your help to ensure families, regardless of economic means, have access to therapies. We need you to understand that different does not mean less.

Can you help?


That one word evokes some strong feelings. It makes us think about things. While most people don’t consider it a judgment, they use the word to judge others. Questions like “Exactly how is that courageous?” have people second guessing themselves.

I think about the people in my life. Courage is parents sitting beside their daughter who was in a head on collision with a semi-truck, not knowing what each day will bring. Courage can be found amongst my friends living with rare, disabling diseases including gastroparesis and Ehler-Danlos Syndrome. Courage is walking out of a doctor’s office and facing the world even though you’ve been dealt another blow.

Courage is with those taking one minute of life at a time as the learn to live with mental illness. For too long, society has hidden how much courage it takes to keep moving forward when every fiber of your being is screaming “enough!” Courage is talking about your own mental illness so you can help others. Courage is standing with those who are living with mental illness and supporting their journey. https://hpwritesblogs.wordpress.com/2015/06/18/www-thesemicolonproject-com/

Courage is being there for the youth in your life. It is 3AM wake up calls because a diabetic monitor went off. It is taking in a  youth who needs guidance, yet is unable to turn anywhere but to you. Courage is raising a child to see that they are priceless, even when others have written them off. Courage is accepting that different is not less. Courage is biting back the tears as your child is bullied yet again. Courage is building a helping village, brick by brick, knowing that not everyone will understand.

Courage is picking yourself up after being knocked over. It is seeing your own value and not allowing others to take that from you. Courage is continuing to improve yourself, even when you feel like you are as good as you can possibly get. Courage is recognizing that change is part of growth, no matter how painful.

Courage is helping your fellow humans reach their potential. It is being sensitive to the fact that different is not less. It is understanding that words hurt and should be used with care. Courage is being willing to help instead of shying away. Courage is compassion.

Let courage take root in your life. See the possibilities of being courageous. Consider all that you personally are living with and recognize that others have things going on in their lives to. Reach out. Be courageous and step out of your comfort zone. I think you will be amazed at what you discover.


I’ve seen many posts on social media where a teacher or parent posts a picture asking you to share so people can see how far an image travels. It’s easy to forget that what we post on the Internet becomes public as soon as we hit “enter.”  There is no taking it back like in a conversation. Our words take on a life of their own.

Someone asked me why I don’t call my children by their given names when I post. Easy…they have an expectation of privacy. This little blog occasionally draws an audience and while I write mostly about myself, sometimes I do write about my kids.

I do think about what I write here. I read it several times before I hit “post.” I think through who I might offend. Whether  those offenses are worth speaking my mind. Nine times out of ten, I hit “post” because I’m writing what I feel at that moment. The tenth time, well, sometimes it is better to just let things go and hit “delete” instead.

Today, a social media friend posted about sex. I refrained from commenting, mainly because I feel the individual can post whatever they want on their page. As I read the comments, I was thinking about those pictures I mentioned above. Did this person really think through what that post meant?

It’s a public-setting post. Anyone who wants to see this person’s proclivities is welcome too. The person invited others into their living room and, um, their bedroom. One person commented about how some things should remain private. That person was quickly attacked by people who accused the commenter of “judging” and telling the page owner to shut up.

I guess I’m old. I agree that some things do not need to be publicized. This is very different from “stifling” people’s rights. If you want to put it out there, that’s your choice. But you also have to accept the consequences. That includes people stating they don’t agree with you. You gave up the right to clam indignation. You also expose yourself to countless ramifications, including future opportunities that could evaporate because people don’t agree with your posts.

So, your choice to post about anything you want. My choice to press that “unfriend” button when I no longer tolerate your posts. I’m allowed to make that choice. It’s not a judgment. It’s a choice the same as the one you made to post about your sex life. Don’t get yourself all up in arms. Accept that posting has consequences. Accept that when you post about adult topics, you open yourself to adult criticism.

And keep those pictures in mind before you hit “enter.” Your words will travel around the world several times before you blink. They may go places you never imagined. You are opening a window, or a door, into your life with each word you post. If you want privacy, don’t post unless that’s your plan. Then don’t complain when people make comments about your choices.