Sunday Confessional with a Side of Site Admin

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Heather says:

Let’s get the site adminstration stuff out of the way. has been having some performance issues; my good friend Michael Carnell and I are working hard to make sure that we get it whipped into shape.

The comment system has been changed, IntenseDebate seems to have been a part of the problem, but certainly not the only cause. I have switched out to LiveFyre which seems to be lighter and faster. It also looks as though it has the ability to host a live chat, which intrigues me with the possibilities. Don’t worry, you’ll still have the ability to share via your Twitter or Facebook identities if that’s what floats your boat. If you just want to say hey and get on with your life that’s fine, too.

If you are used to using the categories in the sidebar to navigate, switch to the tag cloud. I’ve shuffled up the taxonomy of the site to help Google understand what Home-Ec101 is all about.

The forums have been closed temporarily, in case they are a part of the site issues. I’ll reopen them after I get back from Type-A Parent Conference.

Now, on to the confession part of the show.

I have two this week, one small and one that I’m not sure is exactly a confession, but it is something I’ve been struggling with for a long time.

The small one-

I got lazy about sharpening my knives AND I wasn’t paying attention to my chopping -there were a few extra neighbor kids bouncing in and out of my work area- I had a knife slip and took off a good chunk of the nail on my ring finger. It’s as attractive as it sounds. Knife skills are important, but attention and basic safety matter just as much.

Now the one I’m not sure is a confession and I hope doesn’t come across as a plea for attention. (See, there goes my neurotic side and I haven’t even managed to spit it out yet.) My oldest son has been diagnosed with a mild form of autism most commonly referred to as Asperger’s. For a long time, we didn’t want to put a label on him even though we knew that his mannerisms, while similar to our own, didn’t fit in with “normal.”

My son isn’t the type that shuns contact, he gloms onto it in a way that makes many people uncomfortable. He has no sense of personal space -which is ironic because my personal bubble is gargantuan. He’s incredibly articulate, his vocabulary rivals that of Anne Shirley. He lives in a world of his own creation, but he’s more than happy to tell you all the details, if you glance in his direction. It’s kind of cute when a 3 year old invites a perfect stranger over for dinner, it’s not so cute when he’s 7 and the size of your average 10 year old -he gets his height from Tim and I. He tends to  invite random adult strangers to spend the night and thankfully no one has taken him up on is offer. We’re dealing with the usual set of challenges with an atypical child with the added bonus of people assuming he’s much older.  We’re working with a psychologist to give him coping skills that neither limit who he is as an individual, but allow him to relate better to others.  Most of you know I’m very self-conscious, I won’t lie this stuff stresses me out like crazy.

So, it’s not exactly a confession, it’s just that I’m no longer going to keep that information private.

One of my goals is to be as honest as I can about life. There is joy to be found in the everyday, when we aren’t trying to make it fit some unrealistic ideal. I know people who took drastic measures when their version of reality didn’t match what they thought it should and this makes me look carefully at what I present to the world. I started this series to encourage people to admit that life isn’t magazine and tv perfect. Real life is messy, tiring, and wonderful at the same time. Sure you can’t really laugh at everything when it happens -like if you step in dog vomit before coffee- but the rest of us can. After the irritation wears off, it’s time to share and laugh at what we all go through in our day to day lives. On the internet it’s all too tempting to share the cropped and photo-shopped version of our lives (the one where all of my kids behave perfectly all the time), but that isn’t my reality. Is it yours?

So Home Eccers, I ask, what do you have to get off your chest?

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11 thoughts on “Sunday Confessional with a Side of Site Admin”

  1. @heathersolos I just want to publicly say I’m annoyed you didn’t warn me in advance about the whole knife/nail thing. Not cool, dude. Not. Cool.

    You should be very proud of me that I managed to not make a complete fool out of myself while I was at E3…until the very last day when I noticed the guy behind us in one of the lines is a big deal at Bethesda–a game studio. A game studio I LOVE. Like a lot.

    I gave him my card so he could see my face–my face is on my cards–and remember how much I love Bethesda and we made our way to Starbucks, leaving Bethesda dude there. And then he showed up at Starbucks. And talked to him some more. And I was sober.

    When I finally got back to Alabama, I emailed him and apologized for being such a fan girl and told him I hoped they had a great show. The worst part of all of this? The more I think about it, the more mortified I become.

  2. @TheAmyTucker don’t feel too badly. I talked @CK_Lunchbox’s ear off at TypeA last fall. And I kept running into him and my mouth had a mind of its own. The rational part of me was all “shut up, Heather, just shut up.” My mouth wouldn’t listen and it kept yammering. I feel your pain.

    I’m glad you made it home after your travel nightmare.

  3. When I worked in schools, my favorite students were always the ones with Asperger’s. Even when I had no idea about their diagnosis, we were still drawn to each other. Aspie kids are so special and interesting and fun. If others can’t see or appreciate that, then screw ’em.

  4. My now-12-year-old son was diagnosed with Asperger’s at the same age. I’d suspected it for a couple of years, but it took that long to get his doctor to agree.

    My guy has no concept of personal space when it comes to others (I’m always telling him to step back when we’re in line somewhere), but if you touch him and he doesn’t want you to? Watch out! Don’t think he ever invited a stranger to spend the night, but he used to walk up to random teenage girls and ask for their phone numbers–after giving them his full name, address, and phone number.

    His special interests are WWII and Star Wars (with a little Star Trek & Stargate thrown in); DON’T get him started unless you’re prepared to listen for a good half-hour. I know more about the minor Star Wars characters than I ever wanted to. 🙂

    Life with an Aspie isn’t easy, but it’s also never dull.

  5. @Jen1970 oh Jen, yes! This. I’m laughing so hard, because that’s it, exactly. We’re trying so hard to get him to understand that an introduction is not an opening for your entire biography. The check out lady doesn’t need our street address.

    He’s also a Star Wars buff, he’s currently into Chinese writing (he is trying to sell the “books” to the neighbors and his violin teacher, every time I turn around), and Power Rangers. Can I just say how much I hate, loathe, despise, and want the show to disappear off the face of the earth?

    My mom recently watched the kids while I was in NYC (thank you, Mom!) and a few days later we were talking and she said, “Now, I know what you mean.” Poor mom was worn out and now she knows more about Star Wars than she ever wanted. Heh

  6. @HeatherSolos Power Rangers was banned in this house when he was younger. Every time he watched it, he got WILD (ADHD kicking in) and was always trying to karate chop his sister.

    I try to balance letting him be him with preventing him from annoying everyone around him. One thing that I’ve started doing when he starts going on and on about ______ is to tell him that he can tell me X number of things, then he has to stop. I also tell him he needs to ask the person he’s talking to if they want to know more about ______.

  7. If you ever come to my house, I’m hiding all the knives. Sharpen? You mean you have to actually maintain cutlery? #facepalm (You know that I know this, one can’t be friends with you for as long as we’ve known each other without picking up a trick or two AND I read your book…) But still…please don’t fault me for my dull blades and I won’t expect sympathy when I end up in the ER. LOL 😛

  8. I keep a diamond knife sharpener block in the same drawer with my knives. When I pick up a knife, I also pick up the sharpener and proceed to sharpen the knife before use. That keeps all of my knives sharp each time. That does not prevent me from being a klutz and slicing myself. Slice happens.

    Long essay on my experience with Asperger’s follows. Those interested in just Home-Ec might want to stop here.

    I probably have mild Asperger’s, although I was an adult before they had a name for it. Most nerds/geeks do – that’s why it is called a “spectrum disorder” – not that it is really a disorder (that’s a matter of perspective), but that it varies widely in expression. It just takes awareness on the individual’s part about the difference between how they perceive things and how others do, and some clever “programming” to adapt. That takes time, LOTS of repetition, trial-and-error, and patience. Punishment DOES NOT WORK and actually will cause a setback because the individual will not have the sense of having done anything wrong and may pick the wrong behavior to modify, or modify it in the wrong direction. These individuals are absolutely rational (even if they talk about stuff no one else cares about) and if you explain carefully, and in intricate detail, why something is done the way it is, you can expect that they will learn it and begin to apply it. After a few reminders, they’ll sort it out. The key is DETAIL. Use a LOT of examples, ones they can relate to from life or media or stories. They require knowing every single detail about what and why so they can “program” themselves to emulate the “correct” pattern. The closer you can get to giving them a correct pattern to follow that is outside of themselves, the quicker they will learn to emulate it. Never pass a judgment on them, either: they are prone enough to do it to themselves and this can set them up for depression and negative self-image issues that are more serious and long-lasting problems than negotiating the “programming” phase.

    I have a long-term Internet friend, a young man aged 26, who has it but was misdiagnosed as fully Autistic and institutionalized as a child. Worse, he has Cerebral Palsy and is legally blind as well. He’s a genius with computers and music, and he makes friends and appropriate relationships easily. He understands boundaries and as I’ve been working with him, he’s learning not to overshare. His main challenges now are to reign in his boundless enthusiasm and to keep his voice down to a normal level…and to get out of the institution, which has a vested financial interest in hanging onto him.

    A group of his friends are trying to figure out how to get him out of the institution and into as much of a normal life as possible – he doesn’t belong there and has missed entirely on having a childhood/young adulthood, and needs out before the CP complications that come with age make him unable to launch. He has completed college, proved that he can hold a job, save money, and get around on his own, but is not being allowed to do these things. It’s all about the $200 a day the state pays to the institution for his “care” – it profits them greatly to keep him. He’s also being held with a couple of violent individuals, one of whom has a criminal record for theft and assault and who punched my friend unprovoked and broke his keyboard, but it was my friend who got into trouble for defending himself. This won’t do.

    So please, Heather, do understand that your son may represent a valid – and increasingly prevalent – evolutionary stage in the human genome. People like him may be the NEW normal in a few generations. That he doesn’t fit with the main sequence of what’s here now doesn’t mean that there’s anything “wrong” with him, although it is important for him to learn how to interact with – and protect himself from! – “neurotypicals.” Please be very circumspect about medication; these folks don’t react well to medication, and it can completely arrest their progress resulting in “lost years” that the individual will look back on and perceive as a dark hole with a nightmare or two thrown in. These individuals are also environmentally and chemically sensitive and really require organic diets and a home environment largely free of chemicals.

    With my friend, is has helped a lot to think of him, and to get him to think of himself, as a sort of “starseed” – a good alien sent here to learn about and help humans. It makes it easier for him to accept the differences in perception and behavior: he can play the role of blending in like “when in Rome, do as the Romans do” without passing a negative judgment on who he is inside. Who he is inside is never going to change, and any attempt to change it, even with “expert” advice ( ), is only likely to twist him up. Voice of long experience here: the only answer is to be creative and find an odd niche where he fits…there will be a role he is perfectly designed for, you just have to find it or even create it. Much love to both of you and I’m here if you need to pick my brain about my experiences or that of my friend, who is very insightful about his condition and what does and doesn’t work.

  9. @KeterMagick I’m not home, but I want you to know that the diagnosis was partly pursued in effort to work with the school which is holding him back in math (he could have finished 3rd grade math, but they said he needed to slow down or he would “run out of course material” because he has to be in 2nd grade to start 3rd.
    Medication is not something we are considering.

  10. The beauty of WP, to always be evolving! I’m getting settled in my 3rd month. Hope all goes well. I’m trying to find an editor glitch as we speak 🙂

    My now 11 year old was diagnosed with #Asperger’s 2 years ago. I hope you have a good support network at school and privately (service providers). My school experience has been less than stellar. Minimizing a child’s issues is dangerous if not destructive.

    One piece of wisdom from one aspie mom to another:

    “Teach your child to control his autism. He has to learn not to let it control him.”

    All the best, God Bless,


    @Musings of a Modern Mom

  11. Well I’m awfully sorry about the knife thing – I always kick myself when I do things like that!

    As for your son – hugs for the stress you’ve been under – it’s hard to adjust to coming out about things sometimes – but it always makes things better in the end when you share. My son has a sweet friend [5th grade] with aspergers in his class, he gets along with him well now – the thing that helped most for all the kids was having adults explain some things about aspergers in general and how it works with this child in particular – now they all can enjoy time with him without getting turned off when a challenging behavior surfaces – they understand what it’s all about and ignore it without having it be on their minds when it passes.

    Laughing about the star wars thing 😉


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