Apr 27, 2008


Today, Ryder's explorations took him outside in the backyard, and into the pond. I'll be saying prayers of thanks forever because just yesterday we pumped the pond water out. What was left was slimy, stinky algae with a bit of water. I know the Lord watches over these children.

Bill was inside helping Mason with his homework, while I was busy clearing papers and going over the schedule for the week. We left the back door open to enjoy the warm weather. I knew Hunter was outside--and he always takes care of Ryder--but what I failed to notice was that Hunter was chatting with the cute neighbor girl (who is visiting her grandmother) across the fence. If you look carefully you'll see Hunter in the background. I'll be busy getting my exercise this summer, for sure.

Yesterday I found Ryder standing IN the kitchen sink looking out the window. I wonder what goes on in that mind of his. I can see the older he gets we will have to attach a tracking device on him.

Apr 26, 2008

The following is Mercedes' essay she wrote for COSAC

A Day In My Life
Sibling Essay Contest

I have three younger brothers, Hunter, Mason, and Ryder who have Autism. My dad has Asperger’s, but I can hardly tell he has it except for the fact that he obsesses over basketball and crosswords. You could ask him anything about one of the basketball players and he will tell you the height, weight, what position they’re playing, everything!

Hunter obsesses over everything he sees that makes him laugh. He used to be obsessed over the movie, Hairspray. In order to get him away from Hairspray, my mom introduced the movie Grease and now he watches it 24/7. I can even hear it now as I type this. He has been drawing since he was 3, and now he’s 9. He keeps improving because he draws all the time to wind down before bed. Over the years I feel jealous because I like to draw too, and I feel like he always has to be the best at drawing because it’s one of the only things he’s good at. If there’s something he can’t do the first time, he gets mad and frustrated and stomps to his room to draw.

Mason, is the second oldest, but you wouldn’t think so because he is taller and bigger than Hunter. Even though Mason and Hunter have the same diagnosis, they are totally opposite in personality. Mason is a Man’s Man, and Hunter is the exact opposite. Mason is obsessed with video games. He always has to have his own way or he will throw temper tantrums, and these are not ordinary temper tantrums. One time I got a video game controller slammed on my hand…bruised to the bone! Of course he didn’t mean it-- after his tantrum was over. I have had to learn to be more understanding than most kids my age, I think.

Ryder is age four and has severe Autism. The only word he can say is the word “up”. Ryder loves to spin, stare out the window, play with the blinds and blow raspberries. He loves to cuddle! One thing he does that I do not like is grinding his teeth. We always have to get him new chew toys because he will chew them up in one day! I babysit Ryder while my mom takes the other boys to therapy. Sometimes when we all go together, like after school, I wait in the car while they have therapy. I get sick of it but I take a book to read and that helps.

Autism to me means that the person who has it needs someone close in their lives, to teach them when every one else has given up, love them when they think no one does, and to except and love their personality no matter how hard it is. And believe me, some days are hard, but I still love them and always will.

By Mercedes McBride

Autism Awareness Ambassador
age 12, 7th grade

Apr 23, 2008


Below is a paraphrased portion from the book I just read entitled Changing the Course of Autism by Bryan Jepson, MD:

A boy with severe autism wanted to learn how to ride a bike. After watching others for a period of time, he ventured off to try. Instead of learning the conventional way, the first thing he did was pick up the bike and fall off of it. He did this over and over again. Eventually after practicing how to fall, he picked up the bike and started pedaling, and never fell off again.

"[He] is teaching us something about life. He wanted to ride a bike, even though he was afraid of falling. So he practiced how to fall until his fear was gone. Many of us are so afraid of falling that we never get on that bike."

I really enjoyed this story especially after a complex read. This book was probably written with physicians more in mind, but I really enjoyed it--except for the biological mumbo jumbo. I was never good at microbiology--or stuff on the cellular level. If I can't see it, (I'm a visual learner) then it doesn't exist. (This is where faith comes into play).

I hope this summer the boys will learn how to ride bikes. Their coordination isn't quite up to par, but the OT's said they'd work on it.

Apr 20, 2008

Tics and trichotillomania

I feel bad that our kids think therapy and counseling are a normal part of life for everyone. They should be free from grown-up worries like therapy and counseling.

They seem to be aware of things, though. Mason has been doing a weird movement lately that started a week ago. I've been watching him and trying to figure it out. He pounds the back of his neck with his fist, just out of the blue. He says he is popping his back, but he's not. Today he said, "It's a tic, huh Mom?" I just nodded. It is tic number 2 for Mason. Hunter has too many to count. Why do the tics develop around age 7?

The definition of a tic: A repetitive movement that is difficult, if not impossible, to control. Tics can affect any group of muscles. The most common are facial tics, such as eye- blinking, nose-twitching, or grimacing. Tics that affect the muscles used to produce speech are known as vocal tics, and can range from grunts or whistles to the repetition of complete words or phrases. Complex motor tics involve multiple, sequenced movements, and can include behaviors such as twirling in place, tapping a certain number of times, or stooping to touch the ground. Tics are believed to arise in differences in or damage to the basal ganglia, a structure deep within the brain that controls automatic movements and that also affects impulsivity.
I don't want Mason to have to go through this, too.

Now about Hunter:

Hunter's hair is completely bald up front from his trichotillomania: compulsive hair pulling. (a disorder characterized by pulling out hair, eyelashes, eyebrows, etc.) We've been growing the back part of his hair out to cover up the front bare patches. It's not helping much. If anyone knows anything about this, email me. We've increased his Zoloft to help, but I haven't noticed anything yet. Maybe we will switch to Prozac. The photo above was taken when he first started hair pulling. The blue ink spot is from a pen that he would use to just rub that portion of his scalp. We try to distract him, redirect him, etc, but it is obsessive in nature and he cannot "help" himself. It is alot worse now.

Apr 14, 2008

A Taste of Success

The luncheon last Saturday was a huge success. More than 60 people showed up. I haven't been able to sleep since that big day because I keep over-analyzing the days events and I keep wondering how to improve it and make it bigger and better next year. Am I crazy? I just felt so sad for some of the people who look so haggard and worn out. I wonder if I look like that too. It was so nice to be among these awesome people who have similar circumstances.

Our psychologist came (she has a 13 year old with autism) and brought free autism awareness car magnets and autism necklaces! She and Mercedes went around to each table and passed them out and talked to everyone. (Well, Mercedes just nodded and smiled alot.) Cede and I had made autism ribbons and charm necklaces and people could take one if they wanted. I couldn't believe how surprised people were when we said they were free. We had a donation box that earned almost $50.00. The proceeds go to the Autism Research Institute ---I mailed off a check today. I know it's not much, but at the same time, trying to ask for donations from the very people who need the help, was a little daring.

I talked to one of our speech therapists today that came and she said when she walked in she felt like crying because she couldn't believe all of the people that were there. She also said, "... they could talk to others in the same situation... It was so nice to see clients in a setting other than a therapy setting." It just made my day.

We had family, friends, therapists, doctors, nurses, grad students, service coordinators, and alot of special ed teachers there. The news station was there, too. The camera guy was so tall--he interviewed Cede and her eyes were straining to look up at him during the process. I declined to be interviewed; instead I volunteered Bill. He's a good sport. The clip we saw later on that night was funny. Here Bill was trying to explain the social difficulties people with autism have when during his sentence he swallowed and gulped very loudly. Too funny.

I have a feeling this is not the end. And so it begins.

Apr 11, 2008

Heifer Feeds and Social Needs

Tomorrow is the highly anticipated event that has been in our lives ever since Mercedes came home with a community service assignment from school. We've been preparing for this since last September. I can't wait until it's over. I think we're ready.

Hunter called home today from school complaining of stomach pain. He has had 4 BM accidents today. He cannot "feel" or "sense" when it is going to come out. I just hope he won't have any accidents tomorrow during the heifer feed.
While I'm thankful for Golden Corral to let us meet and greet at their restaurant, I have a problem with all-you-can-eat-buffets. It's just a personal preference. I'd much rather hide out in a corner booth somewhere and be catered to, than giddy up to the feeding trough and pile the provisions onto my plate. But, as my dad always says, you need to bend like a palm tree instead of crack like an oak tree in the face of a storm. I'll do my best.
All of us are pretty nervous. The social anxiety runs rampunt in these here parts. The bowels run rampunt too. I'm thankful for three bathrooms.

Apr 8, 2008


You'd think that having a total of six telephones plus two cell phones in a house, it would be easy for one of the kids to pick it up and answer. Nope.

A year ago, I bought one of those satellite phone sets and distributed them all over the house. I thought this would make it easier for everyone to find a phone and answer it if it rang. Then I realized the problem. The kids do not like to talk on the phone. What? What is this, you say? I know, I know, I've never heard of that before either. Here are some reasons why:

1. Too anxious, it could be a stranger

2. Too distracted to hear it ring

3. Auditory processing is slow

4. Don't know what to say

5. Poor social skills

6. Ryder thinks it is a video game

7. Ryder dropped phone in toilet

8. Doesn't work in certain rooms

9. Why should I? It's not for me.

10. It's Newby (Bill's friend that calls all of the time to talk basketball)

One day, the phone rang. I noticed it was my nephew, Ethan, who was undoubtedly calling to talk to Mason. I answered, and then handed it to Mason explaining who it was. This is how it went:

Mason: "What are you going to say to me?"

Poor Ethan: "What?"

Mason: "What are you going to say to me on the phone?"

Poor Ethan: "Do you want to play?"

Mason: "I can't, I'm talking to you on the phone."

So, the moral of this story is, if you ever try to call and we don't answer, you can guarantee that we are in a dizzy aray of trying to figure out whose turn it is to first-- find the phone, second--pick it up, third--answer it and get on with life. It is not the end of the world. For Hunter, it may as well be. One day he dialed 911 and moments later we enjoyed a friendly visit with a police officer. But that's another story for a different day.

Apr 7, 2008

Read All About It

We are in the paper today. Not my favorite thing, but sometimes a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do.

Apr 5, 2008

Hunter's Biscuits are Burning

As Hunter came out of the bathroom today I noticed that we were all out of flushable wipes and he had been using the Clorox Disinfecting wipes. He was wondering why his bum was burning. Hmmmm....

Apr 2, 2008

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men Often Go Awry

The proverb “The best laid plans of mice and men” had been going through my mind all morning today. It was driving me nuts because I couldn’t remember the last part of it or even if there was a last part. So finally, after analyzing the heck out of it, and not being able to come up with a reason why a mouse would be in cahoots with a man, I decided to look it up on the internet. I found out that it was actually a poem written in 1785 by Robert Burns, a Scot. It is actually a tender, sad story about how the author was plowing one November day and he overturned a mouse nest. He felt sorry for the mouse who was all ready for Winter. He reflected on what a horrible thing to do, that this was an impossible time for a mouse to rebuild. There is no grass to build a new home and the December winds are cold and sharp. Where the mouse had thought that she was prepared for winter in her comfortable little nest in the ground, now she is faced with trying to survive in a most unfriendly climate, with little or no hope in sight.

Now, I guess there are several ways to look at this. All of the mice I have ever known have lived in our house and they were really quite fat and lazy. Last Summer, we discovered that we had a mouse in our house. My dad always told me that if you see one mouse, there are bound to be more. He was right.
I have a difficult time even typing the word mouse. It sends shivers up and down my spine and I have to brace myself from leaping onto a chair like that headless lady wielding a broom on the Tom and Jerry cartoons. My husband, on the other hand, loves rodents. In fact, before we met, he used to breed rats. Can you imagine that?! That was numero uno on the list of things that had to go when we began dating. Utter disgust.
One morning, at 3am, when most of the world sleeps, I heard some banging and swooping noises that woke me up. I immediately went downstairs and discovered Bill, the man I married, with a mouse in his hand. He had caught it bare-handed or should I say, red-handed. The mouse had bit him. Ah, hay, no. I was outta there.
He put it in a jar and there he kept it very well. By morning, the kids were elated to see a cute (gulp), little brown mouse. They wanted to keep it and name it. "It’s either me or the mouse!"-was my screeching reply. Bill and the kids took the mouse in the jar, in the car, and drove a mile or two away and released it into the wild.
A week later there was some commotion in the downstairs bathroom. A mouse was stuck on a glue trap. Bill pulled it off ever so slowly. I couldn’t stand the suction sound so I locked myself in my bedroom and focused on yoga breathing. Supposedly the glue was still on one side of the mouse and it was acting drunk-like and couldn’t walk straight. Bill poured some cooking oil on it to act like some sort of degreaser. The poor mouse was freaked out. Then Bill carefully washed the mouse off. By then, I had had it! Enough was enough. Off they were again, the mouse in the jar, and the four of them in the car. This continued all summer long until Bill caught all 6 mice. Five of them were humanely trapped, and released. The sixth one was not such a lucky fellow.
Feel free to email me your mouse story and I'll post it! Keep it clean, kids.

Apr 1, 2008

A Tid Bit About Hunter

Hunter is 8 years old and has many challenges. He has been diagnosed with PDD-NOS, Tourette's, anxiety, ADHD and seizure disorder. He is a very talented artist and below
you'll find some of his drawings that I've found under his bed and even in the garbage. You can also view his art at

A Dollar for Autism, a picture for you

Tomorrow is World Autism Awareness Day. To celebrate this wonderful event, I am posting some of Hunter's artwork. If you would like to donate $1.00 per picture I will send you the picture electronically. The money raised will go toward the Autism Research Institute where Families throughout the nation are currently involved in the Million Dollar Puzzle – raising funding for autism research. Go to http://www.autismwebsite.com/autismpuzzlepieces/ to read their stories and see pictures of the beautiful children and adults they honor with their efforts.
Just click on the "Donate" button to the left, then let me know what picture you'd like. There are others that I am trying to upload, too. Stay tuned! I'm new at this!



Ernie and Oscar learn they like different things-great for kids on the Spectrum!