Archive for October 2014

Electronic Community?   1 comment

I object to it, because it’s a myth.

It’s ridiculous to think that having a social networking site is going to assure community, connection and relationships.

This, my friends, is impossible.

In a world where introductions have shrunk to a mere first name, soon forgotten, true, intimate relationships are difficult to build.  And, they don’t happen on a website.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love Facebook.  (Most of the time; sometimes I hate it.)  That site has made many things possible.  I’ve reconnected with long-lost friends.  I would have had no other simple way to find them nor they me.  I now am able to talk with Becky from third grade in Alaska, Rosanne from fifth grade in Montana, and any number of dear friends from junior high and high school in Oklahoma.  I can keep up with current friends where I live now.  But I can only do it in black letters on a screen.  And I can only do it with people who like to sit and type black letters on a screen.  If they aren’t using the tool, I’m not connecting with them at all.

And there’s something to be said for being face to face.

For one thing, it takes a lot more time.  It takes effort to schedule a time that works for both of you.  It takes energy to get yourselves to the same location so you can be in each others’ presence.  It’s a lot of work.  It’s just easier to be at home, email when I’m ready, text if I want to, and check messages when I darn well feel like it.

And the current reality is that information is disseminated and projects organized entirely on the internet.  Churches are now set up where you get all your information online.  I just need to accept that reality and make it work.

I’m having a bit of trouble with that.  In some of the groups on my church’s website, there are almost no members.  If I go to the group and it tells me there are 2 members, 50% of whom have “engaged” today, and I can clearly see that 50 % is me, and also observe that the website’s apparent definition of “engagement” must be “turning on the internet and going to this particular website,” (because that is all I just did) frankly, I call that insane.

That is not engagement and no community was strengthened in that moment.   You can call it engagement, but saying so ain’t going to make it so.  It’s just an electronic interface.  If people aren’t using it, it doesn’t connect them.

Now, that can change.  As more people become aware of this particular group on this particular social network, it will introduce us to each other and help us help each other.

In my experience, the bottom line for relationship building is time spent together–face to face–working, talking, sharing, living alongside each other.  That is what builds relationships.  Eating dinner together, laughing, arguing, making up.  That is what brings joy, intimacy and community.  Suffering together, helping each other.  That is what matters.

I think I’m done with the internet for today.



Posted October 31, 2014 by swanatbagend in community

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Supplements that Have Helped A Child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder   Leave a comment

I write this post in the hopes it will be helpful to another family and another child.

I have several children, two of whom are on the autism spectrum.

We’ve had the opportunity to utilize the wisdom of a biomedical doctor, and that added to my own research and all the supplements and therapies I’ve tried, has been helpful.  I sometimes wished that there had been a way, however, to get a personalized recipe, in advance, of which supplements and therapies would be the most effective, and just try those!  It would have been great to avoid cost, time and misery on things that didn’t work.  However, life doesn’t give its secrets away in advance, does it?

So, because I have seen an immense change in my nine-year old over the past two plus years of treatment, I would like to mention some things I think are most  helpful.

First, let me give you a profile: My nine-year old is incredibly creative and intelligent, very sensitive, highly irritable, very grouchy and sometimes difficult to get along with. He tends to have a chip on his shoulder and to find it difficult to forgive and natural to hold a grudge.  (OK, I admit it, the negative portions of this description can also by applied to myself; guess he comes by it naturally.)

Disclaimer: what I suggest here won’t permanently solve your problems.  But, it’s still worth sharing, as I can definitely say I can’t imagine the child’s life now without these several supplements.

First, diet is important.  Unfortunately I don’t know which diet will be most  helpful to your child.  We were gluten and casein free for 15 months and did not see definite changes.  When we went back on gluten we didn’t see changes either, so we aren’t still eating that way.  Eating MSG free and avoiding food coloring and corn syrup, on the other hand, has made a  huge difference in decreasing irritability and hyperactivity, so he has a better place to start from.  My other commonsense thought is cook from scratch as much as possible because of all the additives in prepared and processed food.

Then, supplements.

Fish oil: We use two kinds, both are Nordic Naturals brands.  I know, these products are expensive.  However, they are good for so many systems in the body, I think they are worth paying for.  We use the children’s strawberry flavored DHA soft gels, actually a double dose.  Also, we use Nordic Naturals’ Ultimate Omega  lemon flavored liquid.  Within a week or so of starting that, my son became markedly less irritable and more agreeable.  Again, taking down the internal stress or whatever it is he’s living with every day, helps him cope with the other daily challenges of life, whether they be academic, emotional, or social.

Magnesium: We use Source Naturals magnesium citrate.  It comes in capsules and I put it in applesauce with the other capsule contents and mix in.  Again less irritability,  better able to sleep, less stress, etc.

Lithium orotate: This little capsule is a mood stabilizer, and I guess a lot of people are deficient in it, as many are in magnesium, because it has certainly helped in that area.  We buy Complementary Prescriptions brand from

Vitamin E can be helpful too, but not in too high of a dose.

GABA: Another calmer.  We have been happy with Solgar brand.  My son’s occupational therapist noted that he was calmer and more focused after starting this, and she asked us what we had changed.  High five for GABA.

I wish I could give you the laundry list of all the other supplements we have tried.  Believe me, there have been many, probably 3 or 4 times the amount listed here that we are still using.  He is very sensitive to any change and to any new supplement or medication.  For example, we tried Nasonex for his congestion and found after two months that it literally made him depressed.  Quick change there.  Other allergy medications have unfortunate side effects as well.  So, I keep a record of what we are taking, and anything we change.  Also, when we change something, if at all possible, I change nothing else for at least three weeks.  It can be that long or longer before a side effect appears.

If you have a child on the spectrum, ideally, I’d suggest finding a biomedical doctor.  If that is not possible, do your own homework.  Just keep in mind all people are different, so you may get different results with your child.

But here is a place to start if your child is anything like mine.


Posted October 17, 2014 by swanatbagend in mental health, parenting

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Loyalty   Leave a comment

This trait is probably the one most valued by someone with Asperger’s syndrome.

At our house, that runs in the family, and as I think about my sons, myself, and others I know, if I think about how we are and how we expect other people to be….this would be the word.

We just can’t be any other way.

Where it gets hard for us is when we just can’t comprehend why others aren’t the same way.

I guess I’m writing this to explain how we think.  Who knows if I speak for every Aspie out there, but I’m guessing most could at least relate.  And I’m not saying we are always perfectly loyal or that some of you couldn’t call me on my own personal exceptions…just that this is our strong tendency.

Once you have gained my loyalty, it is yours for life.  It could change, I suppose, but it would take a really huge violation of trust for that to happen.  If you are a kind person who reaches out to me, I acknowledge that and appreciate it.  I am then likely to consider you a casual friend.

If you spend time with me on a regular basis, and we have a good time together, I will consider you a friend.

And if you are a friend, you are a treasure, and a very valued part of my life.

Even if I don’t communicate by email or Facebook or phone, when I see you again, I will pick up right where we left off.

I will come to your birthday parties, to your barbeques, to your graduations, and your funerals, and I will do it gladly.

When you have a problem or need, if I possibly can,  I will do what I can to help you.

If I do communicate, you can count on Christmas cards, emails, and notes when things are hard for you.  Even if you don’t respond for years, I’m likely to keep sending you cards, because you are still important to me.  You are still loved and cared for.

And I just don’t understand, honestly, if you stop talking to me, or if you lose interest in communicating, and if you manage to disappear out of my life like a wisp of smoke.  It will not make sense to me.  Aspies are black and white in their thinking, and a friend is a friend is a friend.  Forever.

So, now you know.

Just in case you’d ever wondered why we behave as we do, why we don’t just let friends disappear after they move away, or when some certain amount of time has elapsed. We just don’t do that.

It’s who we are.


Posted October 7, 2014 by swanatbagend in identity

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Are you sure I’m Wonder-Mom?   Leave a comment

I might be, but only if the definition is “someone who wonders what the heck she’s doing as a mom.”

That much I could agree with!

I thought of this when a couple of people reassured me on Facebook after a parental fail that I was being too hard on myself (probably true as I have a history of that)  and then one friend told me she thought I was Wonder-mom.

And I was like, wow, you have totally got to be kidding me!

I appreciate the vote of confidence, I really do.  But I can tell you there is a long road of mistakes behind me.

There is for every single mother because there is no parenting manual for your child, since he is completely unique.  Then there’s you, also completely unique, with your own history, strengths and weaknesses.  Now you can try to find a how-to book….but when I was a new mother, one of the first things I  noticed was that you could pick up any book about parenting, and almost all of them would tell you their methods were fail-proof.

However, one book asserted that the Bible teaches that children need to follow a schedule and the sooner you get them used to it, the better off everyone will be.  I’m thinking of a book about babies here, don’t know what they would have said about older children as I’ve slept since then and don’t remember, but let’s just say it came from the traditional camp.

Then there was the other book that encouraged me to attachment parent, because attachment parenting was really the only way to meet my baby’s needs in a loving, Biblical way.

Since I couldn’t put these two together, I just left them both behind.

You have to figure out how to mother your child on your own, trial and error.

And believe me, there will be plenty of error.  Even when you have the best intentions, and even when you are truly doing the right thing in any given situation, the crazy thing about parenting, is that you will still damage your child.  You won’t mean to, heavens no, but in this fallen world, you aren’t going to do it right, even though you want to.  It’s just not possible.

That’s one of the things I really, really hate about being a mom.  I hurt my kids.

There a couple of others: I can’t make things turn out all happy for everyone.  I can’t make everything all better. It goes by too fast.  It’s scary.  Those are a few.

Yea, so, there you are.  My definition of Wonder-Mom.  A Mom who wonders what she’s doing.

Let me know when you find the other kind of Wonder-Mom.  I’d love to meet her.

Posted October 4, 2014 by swanatbagend in parenting

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Success as a Parent   Leave a comment

What is that anyway?

How do I know that I have done a good job as a parent?  There don’t seem to be any grades handed out for this long-term project…which, of course, I learned 17 years ago, was not a project, but a person I couldn’t do without.

Does my kid have to be a movie star or a doctor or lawyer for me to know I’m a success?

Does she have to be another Mother Teresa?

Does he just need to be a decent human being who works hard to do his job and take care of his family and the creature of the earth?

What if he turns out to be kind of a jerk, or maybe even a real big jerk?

What does that say about me?

I think it says much more about the child than it does about me.

But because I love the child, raise the child, know the child, and am so deeply invested in the child that I’m a bit entangled…I want the child to be okay.  I want her to be a success at being a human being.  I know that means she’ll suffer and mess up as all the rest of us human beings do.  But I also want to know that I did everything I could to show him the path and help him start on it.

However, I don’t think anything my child does can confirm that I did my job.  I have to determine that for myself.

Posted October 4, 2014 by swanatbagend in parenting

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