Tuesday, May 31, 2011

fundraiser for team maxwell.

Scott & Max - June 2009
Team Maxwell was formed in 2009, 6 months after Max was officially diagnosed with autism. For the past 2 years we have participated in the Toronto Walk Now For Autism with our friends and family. To date we have raised almost $10,000 for Autism Speaks Canada, an organization dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families.

We will be walking once again on June 26th. We would love for you to join us, and if not that, then perhaps sponsor our team. In addition, we are throwing a Pampered Chef fundraiser on June 2nd at 7pm in Oakville. If you live in the Oakville and would like to attend, please shoot me an email for the details. 25% of the sales from the fundraiser will be donated to Team Maxwell. If you aren't able to attend but would still like to support the fundraiser, you can order online. Please list "Team Maxwell" as your host.

Personally, my favourite Pampered Chef (can't live without) products are:

large bar pan
mix 'n chop
scoop 'n drain
bamboo spoons
pineapple wedger

With Father's Day coming up, I'm planning on putting together a present for Scott from the outdoor line.

bbq tools
spices and sauces

If you've ever been curious about the Pampered Chef line and wanted to try some of their products out, now is the time. It's win-win. You get some kick ass kitchen gear while also supporting Team Maxwell!

Friday, May 27, 2011

the best day of my life was not the last day of my life.

The two best days of my life were the days my children were born. Nothing compares to the excitement, the nerves, the anticipation and the miracle of birth. I never worried about my life being in danger. I took for granted that I would go to the hospital, get an epidural, push for a bit and have my babies. This is a privileged perspective.

Every 90 seconds, a mother dies from pregnancy-related causes. Without access to the proper resources, technology and knowledge, this horrific epidemic will continue. It’s time for moms around the world to leverage the power of social media to stand together in the fight against maternal mortality. With enough signatures, we can get the US Congress to set aside funding for maternal issues. That’s it. Your voice is all we need. And there is no bigger voice than the sisterhood of motherhood.

Sign the petition here.

THE END EVENT Twitter Party
May 31st, 2011
8-9:30 PM EST

GOAL: 100,000 signatures on the petition
Use hashtags: #moms4moms #seetheEnd

Did you know?

  • One maternal death every 90 seconds.
  • In the US, 2 women die each day from a pregnancy-related complication.
  • Globally, 100 women die each day in pregnancy/childbirth
  • 15% of all pregnancies result in complications during labor and delivery and sometimes are fatal.
  • We have the knowledge to prevent 90% of all maternal deaths.

Actress, Olivia Wild, Jeffrey Sacks, and Russell James will hosting a live streamed event on the 23rd as well. Moms4Moms will be there hosting the twitter party right from the event, as well as with the Moms4Moms hosts listed below.

Over the past month, I have been  partnering with the following influential moms/dads bloggers to raise awareness about maternal mortality: Holly Pavlika - havemomentum.com, Erica Diamond - womenonthefence.com, Audrey McClelland - momgenerations.com, Molly Gold - gomominc.com, Beth Feldman - rolemommy.com, Niri Jaganath -mommyniri.com, Katja Presnal - skimbacolifestyle.com, Kelly Loubet - everydaychildhood.com, Julie Cole - mabelslabels.com, Linda Grant - nycsinglemom.com, Dagmar Bleasdale Dagmar's momsense, Adam Cohen - dadarocks.com, Holly Fink - TheCultureMom.com, CC Chapman - cc-chapman.com, and Ted Rubin - tedrubin.com.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

autism and sick kids hospital don't mix.

This past week has been a doozy. It takes a lot to knock me back on my heels, but congratulations Autism! You seem to know how to push me around. I can typically hold it together when things get stressful, but for some reason the combination of ups and downs this past week really threw me. It all started last Wednesday with Max's annual kidney checkup at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto.

Before I jump all over Sick Kids and say that they really have no idea what the heck they are doing when it comes to children with Autism, I want to clarify that Max has had two successful surgeries there and is only being monitored at this point. His surgeries were both pre-diagnosis and he was much easier to manage as a baby and toddler. But back to Sick Kids sucking at dealing with children with Autism, because they really do. Every time we go there it is a horrible and stressful experience. Last week was no exception.

Max has a hard time waiting in lines. He typically throws himself on the floor and screams, which he did at Sick Kids while I attempted to register him for the Urology Clinic. The admin staff looked at me funny and told me I shouldn't let him lay on the floor because of the germs. I informed them that Max has Autism and proceeded to straddle him and hold him in place with my legs so that I could registering. The waiting room was packed so I asked if there was any way we could wait in one of the five empty exam rooms. Nope. They actually told me I should just walk down the hall and they would call me when it was his turn. They literally told me to take a hike! Wow!!

It only got worse from there. Max screamed through his ultrasound and refused to do the flow rate test. The only saving grace was that the nurse (Sandy) who was attempting to do the flow rate test was very patient and let us stay in the room while we waited for Max's urologist to tell us what the score was. He refused to pee for her, so she had to take me at my word that Max pees like a champ. She then informed me that every department has someone assigned to it that can provide support to children with special needs as long as we call ahead. This made me shake my head because a) how the heck am I supposed to know that and why is this the first time I've heard about this option? b) they make the appointment and Max's file says up front that he has Autism and all of his tests must be booked on the same day so maybe they could have booked this person on our behalf? c) it's a little late now to be telling me this, dontcha think?

What pisses me off the most is not that I had to wrestle with Max to get him through the exams and appointments, it is the sheer cluelessness of the Sick Kids staff on how to deal with children with Autism. Max cannot possibly be the only Sick Kids patient with Autism. I've asked around and it isn't just the Urology department that has no clue. This is a world class hospital, one would think they would do better on this front?

So, Sick Kids Hospital, if you would like to hire me as a parent consultant who can help you put together a plan that will help children and families dealing with Autism, drop me a line. You can do better and should do better. It wouldn't take much, really. A good place to start is some empathy from your admin staff and a separate area to wait, and this would cost nothing. It's time to live up to your reputation for all of your patients - and that includes the ones with Autism.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I consider myself fairly social media savvy. I am on facebook, twitter, have two blogs, a youtube channel, can text with the best of them and am the proud owner of an iPhone (4 thank you very much). I have a linkedin account too, but I never use it.

The thing is, I was assuming that nobody used it and that it was just a tool for recruiters to stalk you. When I heard about their initial stock offering going gangbusters, I thought, what the heck, I'll login and see what's up.

185 messages in my inbox.
92 link requests.


Normally I am all for new ways to expand my network of friends. For some reason, I find myself resisting linkedin. There is nothing fun about it. I suppose it is good to have a professional version of facebook, but when you write as candidly as I do, it isn't really necessary. Anyone can search my name and find my blog. I've had reference checkers tell my about-to-be-boss that they think I'm quite humorous (as in laugh with not at). I don't personally feel the need to connect with people on a site for strictly professional reasons. Am I alone in my boredom with linkedin? Or do I just need to suck it up and embrace it?

Are you on linkedin? Are we linkedin? Do we need to be? Or maybe we can just do the facebook thing...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

bucket list update.

This past year I have been lucky enough to cross a lot of things off of my bucket list. I have been thinking that I should update this list, because there are definitely still things I want to do that are bigger than "learn to cook the perfect omelette". Plus, I'm a big believer in letting the universe know what you want - why keep it a secret?

So, in addition to all the other stuff, I want to:

- become a strong public speaker. In fact, one day I want to give a TED talk.

- go to the big American Quilter's Society show.

- tour Scandinavia.

- go on an African Safari.

- publish a book.

- record a Christmas cd (yay Christmas!!).

- do the perfect pull-up.

I may not complete any of these items in the next year, but you never know if you don't put yourself out there!

the best reader in junior kindergarten.

This morning I had the opportunity to observe Max in his Junior Kindergarten classroom. I wasn't sure if he would tolerate me being there, but he was completely non-plussed. It was wonderful getting to see how far he has come since September and to hear his teacher speaking so positively about him. Also - he is the BEST reader in Junior Kindergarten. Got that? The best! Bring on Senior Kindergarten!

Monday, May 16, 2011

my presentation from the motherhood conference.

Last week I spoke at the International Motherhood Conference in Toronto on "Sharing the Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Autism Through Social Media to Effectively Influence and Advocate". Here is my presentation:

On Tuesday December 8th, 2008 I became the mother of a child with Autism. I know the specific date because I blogged about it.

Nothing really changed that day, yet everything changed. I was still Katrina, Marketing Manager, mother of 2, wife to 1. My son Max was still a beautiful boy with a mad love for blueberries. But the moment the doctor diagnosed Max as having Autism, I became the mother of a disabled child, and he became one. Both of us were thrust into a different world. One we were ill equipped to deal with. Invisible limits were placed upon us. I mourned for the son I feared Max would never be, and for the normal mothering experience I would not have.

There was no guide book to tell us what to do next. None of my friends had children with special needs. Parenting books treated having a disabled child as an unfortunate and rare occurrence and you would be lucky to find a short chapter on it tucked away at the end, between late miscarriages and what to do if your child dies in childbirth.

Autism is a very isolating disorder. It affects your friendships, your relationships with your family, and your marriage. You feel that nobody understands what you are dealing with, nor would you want to burden them with the ugly details. Your family members stand by feeling helpless. Your spouse grieves for the son he will never have, for a future that is no longer possible. It is easy to cocoon and close off from the world around you as you attempt to make some sense of your life, and get through the day to day challenges.

Many mothers seek out support online as a way of staying connected - I certainly have. My website - ficklefeline.ca - is read all over the world - from as far away as Australia to as near as the woman around the corner who worries that her 2 year old child may be showing markers of Autism. You see, online, we are all the same, and we don't have to apologize for our imperfect mothering, or conflicted emotions of wanting to be a "good" mom, while being incredibly pissed off at the universe for what has been laid at our door.

In the US alone there are over 34 million moms online - more than 40% of the adult female internet audience. Add to that Mothers ages 25 to 35 with at least one child at home are 85% more likely to spend time on Facebook than the average online consumer. Think for a moment, the power of this group of mothers. We depend on each other for advice, recommendations and support in real life, and this is true online as well.

I have found my main form of support by reaching out to my community at large by telling my story, or rather, Max's story on my blog. While the internet is full of misinformation that will cause you to lose sleep, - especially about Autism - it was communicating online that got me the information I needed to help my son and to not feel so very alone.

I never intended to become an advocate for anything. And I didn't start my blog to write about Autism (if I had I certainly would have chosen a name other than "Fickle Feline").
In fact, in 2004, pre-children, when I started my website "ficklefeline.ca" i was mostly dabbling in this new world of "blogging". My first post was very deep – professing my love for Jon Stewart.

Follow up posts commented on my love of celebrating Christmas - a 16 part series, my overweight cat and reviews of my favourite television shows. Deep stuff. I didn't write about trying to get pregnant, or the frustration I felt during the 12 months it took to conceive my son. That was far too personal. I kept it light and fun.

On November 1st, 2005 I announced that I was pregnant on my blog. After all, I was the FIRST person to ever conceive a child and oh my goodness - look at that button nose on that 12 week ultrasound scan! I documented my pregnancy for one and all, and when Max was born I was happy to share photos and talk about his progress. I became what is known as a "mommy blogger" and I enjoyed participating in this community of women who were celebrating motherhood and documenting their children's development.

As my son's progress slowed, the frequency of my blog posts slowed as well. As we started to figure out that there was "something up" with Max, my blogging all but came to a halt. I was consumed with the need to help Max, and I felt like if I wrote about it online, that would make everything official and cement this as our reality. I wasn't ready for that. But, as we got closer to a diagnosis, I felt the need to reach out to my community. I needed a way to tell my family, friends and even people I only knew online what we were dealing with. I needed some hugs (virtual as they may be).

Just before we got the diagnosis, I started writing about Max and what our suspicions were. The response was overwhelmingly supportive. I was surprised at how much people cared, how much they were rooting for us. Most of all - that I wasn't actually alone in this unchartered journey. Friends who had never mentioned that their children had special needs came out of the woodwork. It was almost as if me voicing my concerns and fears about Max gave others what they needed to speak up too.

Having a child with Autism is not something I would ever ask for. In fact, I would not wish it on my worst enemy, though in truth I have thought to myself that things would be very different if our Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, had a child with Autism. I think there is a blog in there somewhere. On the flip side, having a child with Autism has helped me find my voice and become a part of my self-identity. It has turned me into something I never thought I'd be - a capital "A" Advocate.

Certainly all parents advocate for their children. When you have a child with Autism, it turns into a contact sport. I advocate for my son every day, multiple times a day. Whether it is dealings with his junior kindergarten teacher, Special Education Resource Teacher, Educational Assistant or Principal of the school he attends, something will inevitably "come up". And that is just the morning.

In the afternoon, I deal with private therapists, coordinating schedules, and never ending billing issues. Then there are the mountains of paperwork, administration for funding and politics. But there are also fun things like working towards getting Max an Autism Service Dog. And there are heartbreaking things like dealing with Children's Aid when at the age of 18 months, one of Max's daycare providers locked him in a closet because he would not settle down during the scheduled nap time. You name it I have dealt with it.

I have always been Max's main advocate. Given our society’s dominant ideology of “intensive mothering” it is perhaps unsurprising that this role typically falls to the mothers of children with autism. It is rare for the father to take on this job. Because I have always been the one to keep track of Max's appointments, juggle the schedule and be the point person on all things Max, this role has become established as belonging to me, and has therefore become self-sustaining. It is to the point that it would be all but impossible for my husband to take on this role, nor would I want him to. I feel a sense of ownership over this role. I have worked hard to develop a very necessary expertise in managing the ins and outs and challenges that crop up every single day. My husband could not do what I do, and if he was the one leading the charge, I would be judged for not being a "good" mother.

Predictably, my career has taken a back seat to that of my spouse. This was inevitable. It would be next to impossible for both of us to work full-time outside of the home, and still manage to care for Max. I have found it challenging to deal with the power imbalance created by earning less money than my spouse. To add insult to injury there is little recognition or value assigned to my role and the incredible skills I have acquired to navigate this new world.

The place I feel most validated regarding my work for Max and being an Autism Advocate is in the online space and through social media. Documenting our journey in such a public forum has helped me express my frustration, sadness, and grief I feel as the mother of a child with Autism. It has also been a place where I have celebrated every little win imaginable. Part of what keeps me going is reviewing videos of Max when he first started therapy. They help me see just how far he has come. It also helps other families who are just beginning their journey into raising a child with Autism to see there is hope. I lay it out for all to see - the good, the bad and the ugly.

I am very open with all of the people that work with Max about my advocacy and my writing. They know that I write about everything. I am careful to always be fair and accurate because I don't believe mud slinging gets us anywhere. But if you search for "IBI Waitlist Erinoak" in Google - my website comes up before the site of the regional IBI provider "Erinoak Kids". I blog, I tweet, and I use Facebook as ways to share Max's story and get my message out to one and all. While some may feel threatened by the fact that I share my experiences, no holds barred, it certainly keeps them honest and I believe, Max receives better care because of it.

Before I became a mother, a major part of my self-identity was tied up in my career as a Marketing Manager. Accolades, bonuses, promotions, better paying jobs, and climbing up the corporate ladder were very important to me. So where does all that go when you are no longer able to work full-time? Clearly nothing is as important as my son's care, and affording him every opportunity to have a chance to navigate successfully in this confusing world. But how do I marry my need to still have a foot in the land of paid work and being something other than just "Max's mom" while still continuing to be a "good" mom?

Surely the skills I have developed as a result of this journey would be of value somewhere? The literature on the experiences of Mothers of children with Autism, what there is of it, reports that mothers of disabled children have employment levels substantially below other mothers. This isn't surprising but it is disheartening. I have learned to navigate the most difficult relationships, juggle a schedule that would send parents of regular children into orbit, all while staying relatively sane and managing a household. But it is challenging to balance my commitments to Max and my family with that of work. Add to that, most work seems fairly meaningless in comparison to the importance of my role as my son's mother and advocate.

Interestingly enough, within the Autism community, attempting to care for your child is not enough to be considered a real "Activist". Within this community, you must not only advocate for your child, you must advocate for the autism movement! If you don’t, you aren’t a good mother. This adds a whole new level to the ideology of intensive mothering or those commonly held definitions of good mothering! Mothers of children with autism can never do enough. Additionally, fathers are not expected or judged in such a harsh light.

As mothers of disabled children we are marginalized, not belonging in the disabled world, because we are not ourselves disabled, while not belonging in the non-disabled world either. It is truly a no-win situation. I have been called overly emotional, aggressive, a vigilante and a bitch for pushing so hard to get a diagnosis and treatment for Max. Yet, I have also been called lazy, ungrateful and ignorant for not becoming an Activist and taking on the world for all children with Autism.

I understand that there will always be more that I could do, but the harsh judgements and criticism I receive regarding my mothering skills and ability are sometimes crippling. It is no wonder that the vast majority of mothers of disabled children never move from being an internal advocate to an external activist.

As an antidote to these unreasonable expectations, I wrote a guest blog post for the website AimingLow.com titled "accepting my imperfections in mothering a child with autism”. In this piece I confessed to letting my son watch his favourite episode - Happy Holidays Elmo - so that I could drink tea and surf Facebook. That I let him wander around the backyard moving rocks from one end of the yard to the other while I make dinner. I am also months behind on the assigned Autism reading from Max's clinical psychologist and feel dread when I see the phone number of his school appear on my caller ID during school hours.

The response I got was 100% supportive. Some commenters even thanked me for writing the piece. I had been worried that I would be told "you are a terrible mother and should be ashamed" but instead received a resounding chorus of "me toos".

Recently, I left my full time position of "Marketing Manager" to take a part time position that will allow me to work out of the home. Interestingly enough, the role is "Community Moderator" for the women's website iVillage.ca, which has just launched in Canada. It seems a good fit, and one that marries my needs with my skills while also allowing me continue to write and advocate through my website. Prior to having children I would not have expected that this would be the direction my career would take. But now that I'm here, I can't imagine it any other way.

So many people say "I don't know how you do it - you are amazing" and to this I say, "No I'm not, I'm doing what any mother would do". But perhaps I need to update my response and say "I'm doing what any mother is expected to do". I do the majority of the work within the house, advocate for my son 24-7, do my best to also meet the needs of my neurotypical 3 year old daughter and my husband. All of it unpaid and undervalued.

It is no wonder that I have embraced social media as it is truly the one place I have found "my people" - mothers of children with Autism who without ever meeting me, understand me and support me more than the majority of people in my day to day life. Together, "my people" and I are writing a new kind of guide book that is truly supportive, rather than one that judges and sets unreasonable goals. I hope you will join us.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

so i got an iphone.

I have been hemming and hawing (actually mostly hawing) about what to do about my aging blackberry for the last year. Seriously, I like to plan shit out. I know this is a white whine but OMG THE DAMN THING WAS DRIVING ME NUTS. It kept freezing up, requiring me to pull the battery out for a hard restart multiple times a day. And don't even get me started on the camera quality (just brutal). The challenge of course, is that I have a lot of friends with blackberrys (blackberries?) and I have become accustomed to using bbm to text with them. So, I had been hanging on to the delusion that I would merely upgrade my blackberry to a new bold or something like that.

Didn't happen.

The moment I set foot in the phone store, I was sucked into the gravitational field of the shiny and sexy and everything I've ever wanted iPhone. I will say that I asked the sales guy for advice. He suggested that if I was mostly using my phone for things like facebook and twitter then the iPhone was the way to go. And really, that's all it took.

The thing I was most nervous about was the touch screen business for texting. I'm still getting used to it, but I'm finding it pretty easy. I really have no complaints about this phone. It's faster, has better apps, is easier to use, takes great pictures, and did I mention it is a really, really good looking?

So, if you have been thinking of dumping your blackberry for an iPhone, my reco is to DO IT. The grass is greener on the other side. You will not believe what you have been missing. I bet you will want to kick yourself for waiting so long to switch. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go take some more cute pictures of my kids with the Hipstamatic app.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

max update.

As I put the final touches on my presentation for the International Conference of Motherhood Activism, Advocacy, Agency tomorrow afternoon, and reflect back on our journey so far, I can't help but feel extremely blessed and fortunate. So many people have been incredibly supportive of us - we really could not have made it this far without you.

This is a short video of Max that I will be including in my presentation. Compare it to the video of him 21 months ago and you can see just how much progress he has had (and how much he has grown!).

May 2011:

August 2009:

Monday, May 09, 2011

mental health monday: negotiating with a three year old.

When your first child has Autism, you really have no clue how to deal with a "normal" kid. With Max, we know we need to teach him things step by step, and if we dole out the praise, he'll do pretty much whatever we want (except sit still for a haircut or poop in the toilet, but we're working on it). Cameron is an entirely different ball of wax. With her, we are forced to draw on a new bag of tricks. I have never met a tougher negotiator in my life. She is one tough cookie. The request may be as simple as to brush her teeth or get dressed, but on any given day she will absolutely refuse to do what we need her to do. The one thing that typically works (other than promises of junk food) is if we can get Max to do something first, and then ask her to do it too (see Cammie - it's FUN!). This is how we taught her to wash her hands, and now as you can see, she is now an old pro.

From what I understand, I am not completely alone in finding it challenging to get my kids to do what I need them to do. I am constantly looking for fun ways to engage them and to make them think that doing things like letting me brush their hair is AWESOME and WOW, when really, it sucks, and we both know it.

This is a pretty cool idea if you ask me: Softsoap has created a video that not only educates kids about proper hand washing, but also makes the experience fun and easy. I only wish that I had this when I was first trying to get Cam to wash her hands. The video features “The Dirties” a rock-band of germs performing in a stadium of raucous fans. The irresistibly catchy chorus of “pump the pump” reminds kids of occasions when it is necessary to wash their hands. Midway through the song, the band is transformed into “The Cleanies” by the power of soap.  Nice. Now, if they could just make an iPad app for this I'd be golden.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Softsoap.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

how i got my ass handed to me at bikram yoga.

Having completed a round of P90X just last month, I like to think I am "in shape". Sure I am still chasing a flat tummy and slimmer hips, but really, I am fairly confident that I can tackle most physical challenges thrown my way.  That was until I went to my first bikram yoga class at Bikram Yoga Oakville.

I got my ass handed to me.

I started the class feeling a little cocky. The instructor told me that since this was my first class to take it at about 40%. Right. Whatever. I started out okay, keeping up with the postures. But then it got hard. I did my best to keep going but eventually came to the realization that there was a reason for the 40% rule. I laid down on my mat and focused on breathing through my nose, and tried to calm my racing heart. And I sweat. My dog did I sweat.

I made it through the class (barely).  The feeling of relief when I got out of the studio was incredible.  Quite a rush! The instructor (Dann) and I spoke about the class for a bit.  He told me that one of his first instructors had said that the people who need to be in the class most are the ones who are struggling with something, not the ones who are executing every posture perfectly. Also, that bikram yoga is an individual practice. It doesn't matter what someone else is doing - it only matters what I am doing. Good thoughts to apply to life in general, really.

One of my favourite things about this studio is that it is a really large open space.  While other studios have cramped facilities, these change rooms are huge with lots of showers so you don't have to wait to freshen up after class. If you live in the area you should check it out. They have an intro 10 days for $10 offer that gives you a chance to take some classes and see if you want to sign up for a membership. Also - they are having an open house this Friday night so if you are free, swing by and say hi to Dann! I'm thinking of going to tomorrow's 9:30am class if anyone wants to join me.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly of autism through social media to effectively influence and advocate.

Next week I will be speaking at the International Conference of Motherhood Activism, Advocacy, Agency in Toronto. As I put together my speaking notes, I have begun to realize that the person I define myself as, or rather, my self-identity, is not an entirely accurate reflection of reality.  Am I an advocate or an activist? Am I selling myself short? Or perhaps it is my hesitancy to be involved in the Autism community that is so divided and critical of mothers who "only" advocate and don't do enough for "the cause" that has kept me in the corner, tongue firmly planted in cheek.  Regardless, I am certainly not the person I was when I set out on this journey of motherhood.

As I run down the skills I have had to develop to effectively advocate for Max, I shake my head and have to chuckle. I've always been outspoken (you are completely shocked, I know). But I have also learned how to manage relationships and to figure out ways to get the most out of every person who can help Max and our family. I hope to inspire people to go above and beyond for Max and to expand their thinking when it comes to working with children with Autism. I was even so bold as to inform Max's school principal that he was lucky I was the first parent to enrol a child with Autism in Junior Kindergarten in his school. It has been a challenging year for both Max's teachers, Max, and me, but I sincerely believe we are all the better for it. Future parents enrolling their children with Autism at this school will benefit from Max laying the groundwork and me setting high expectations.

All I've ever wanted was to help Max reach his full potential and give him the tools he needs to live a happy and fulfilled life. Everything else has taken a backseat to this goal, including friendships, career and my own personal needs. As mothers, it is assumed that we will do anything for our children. Mothers of children with Autism do so much more than you can imagine, yet we still beat ourselves up at the end of the day for not doing enough. The Autism community then piles on by telling those of us who are mere "advocates" that we are letting down "the cause".  Imagine if someone who was attacked was told they were letting down those who will be attacked in the future because she has not become a crusader for tougher laws on crime.  It would never happen - but we mothers of children with Autism, who already struggle with more than you could possibly know, we are fair game.

Food for thought for sure.

For those of you who are able, I hope you attend the conference. There are so many interesting speakers and panels packed into 3 days, you won't know where to start! Email me if you are attending so we can meet up for a "beverage".

Monday, May 02, 2011

new nikon 55-300 zoom lens.

My family chipped in to get me a Nikon 55-300 zoom lens for my birthday (thank you to my folks, Scott's folks, Chris, and Scott). I feel like the paparazzi when I pull it out. The photos it takes are incredible, and if it ever stops raining I plan to get out and take a bunch more!