Friday, April 12, 2013

Lesson 226: Somewhere Over the Rainbow

April is Autism Awareness Month
This post will pass along some updates in the world of autism.  
Dorothy was correct in saying, Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas any more.
It's a whole new world.

I am sure glad Natalie brought home that rainbow painting in her book bag.  It is April in Erie and my world is colorless.  Really.  Look:

That is my backyard on Friday night.  I didn't color adjust the photo.
Gray sky.  No leaves.

The shores of Lake Erie looked similarly bland during my outdoor workout Thursday.

Glad I had some friends to meet there to add much needed splashes of color.

At least my school weeks have been colorful lately.  My students and I have been studying the Wizard of Oz.  Perusing the works of L. Frank Baum the second time through as an adult have been fascinating.  Yes, I  intended to write the plural of work, works.  The Wizard of Oz was a series!  Did you know that?  I didn't until recently.  

The Wizard of Oz was written by L. Frank Baum in 1900.  Good old Lyman used his middle name instead of his first name (good move, Frankie).  He intended for the story to be just one book, but Mr. Baum received a cyclone of letters from children asking him to write more stories. He obliged.  I'd most like to read the following and have added them to my summer reading list:

Who is the Ozma?

More on Glinda.  I always liked her.  

In 1989 I wore her dress to the prom.  We thought BIG in the 80's.

There were fourteen books in all.  My students and I were surprised to learn that Dorothy's shoes in the original story were silver, not ruby red.  The 1939 film adaptation was the first movie made in technicolor and silver just seemed too lackluster.  Me and all the little girls from past and in future generations are extremely thankful.

I have a thing for shoes.
(and feet).

This is my favorite, clever Pinterest pin about the Wizard of Oz.  
Homework:  What do the symbols represent?  Send Eloise a message if you get it.

Wizard of Oz

We all know the song, and its many adaptations over the years.
Do you dare to dream?
Do you believe that dreams really do come true?
I do.
Look at her.  
She's living proof.

My first born child, Natalie Jeanne has autism, as so defined by the medical community.  She is almost fifteen and a blend of a Kindergartner and an old soul.  Natalie speaks, but more often with her eyes than with her mouth.

When I landed in Oz thirteen years ago, I had no idea what to expect.  The research was not promising.  A new surge of children, neurologically disconnected and miswired, were answering to age old definitions of a syndrome once thought only to be linked to white males of Scandinavian decent.  One in ten thousand, they told me.

One in ten thousand?  Eloise is not a math whiz, but I knew that the numbers couldn't be correct.  Every other person I came into contact with commented, "You have an autistic daughter?  So does my sister in Topeka....."  Remember what Dorothy said though:  Something is telling me we aren't in Kansas any more.

Here are today's sad statistics.


Look at the change from just last year.  This was Natalie in April of 2012.

Now my daughter is this:

Natalie is much more than that though.  She is a person.  A teenager.  A little love who I realized today looks more like me than I thought.  I realized it when I took this picture.  She twirls her hair when she thinks just like I do.  She also likes to write in journals like me.  Natalie made this one in art class with Mr. Osborn.  

Inclusion works.  Teachers, it's hard.  I know.  I include kids every day, too.  But it's worth it.

Natalie isn't all that different from your child.  She just experiences things in a different way.  You cannot expect the same responses to stimuli that you could from a nerotypical child.  That does not mean that they can't learn.  Or laugh.  Or love.  

Once again, it's all about perspective.
(Thanks, Jones from The Noticer)

When this becomes a core belief, then dreams can come true.  

Dreams do come true

Record scratch.

Wait.  Just.  A.  Minute.

Only if we WISH hard enough?  You've got to be kidding me?  Wish?  Peter Pan, you are a putz.  I always hated those green tights, that's why I never read your book.  Dreams may begin with a wish, but it takes another "w" word to make progress.  That word a four letter word in this country sometimes:  W-O-R-K.  Work.  If you want something, you have to work for it.

I like this quote much better.  I follow Doe Zantamata.  Doe is an obscure writer that I like to read.  There is very little known about Doe, but you can find (her?) Happiness in Your Life series on the Internet and on facebook.  Her book titled Karma was published about a year ago.

Now Peter, bust out of those silly green tights and pay attention!

Doe has it right.  It starts with a dream that becomes a core belief.  Then you need to

Everyone takes action in their own ways.  For me, it is this blog.  My autism posts always circulate the most.  This makes Eloise happy that so many people are taking interest.  Good thing because my second highest in circulation is a blog I titled Moon Me (tsk, tsk). My Readers can see that one can raise a child with a handicapping condition and still have a good life.  We learn.  We laugh.  We love.

I also get to speak my, write my mind.  I am aware that my opinions are not always in line with the mainstream, but that's okay with me now.  Eloise is in a better place and less afraid to point the finger at some of the uglies in this world.   


Right now I'm on the yellow brick road headed into the Emerald City.  When I reach my destination I am demanding to see
The Man Behind the Curtain // Movie Friday: 14 ‘The Wizard of Oz’ Alternative Movie Posters

I can't wait for the day when it is revealed that the Powers That Be, really don't know what the heck they are  talking about.  I'll make sure to be wearing my red shoes on the day of reckoning, except mine will look like this.  Note:  A pointed toe up the rear end doesn't feel too nice, Mr. CDC.

The Emerald City reminds me of the Emerald Isle, where my biggest fan Fionnula is from.  Eloise sent her a package this week:

I have requested that she send me back an autographed picture of herself.  I'd like to keep one in the Lamp Post for motivation.  I'll keep you updated if I receive anything back.

After much deliberation, I finally chose the perfect song to put some of this weeks photos to.  It is I'm Yours/Over the Rainbow by Straight No Chaser.  It is the absolute perfect blend of I'm Yours by Jason Mraz and Somewhere Over the Rainbow.  The gentlemen blend them so flawlessly, you forget that you are actually listening to two songs.

That is my goal for Natalie.  I want to assimilate her so well into life and society that you will forget that she has a disability.  She is just Natalie.  Harborcreek resident.  US citizen.  Christian.  Sister.  Niece.  Granddaughter.  Neighbor.  Friend.  And most importantly, My Daughter.


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