<![CDATA[Go Team Kate - Blog]]>Tue, 24 Nov 2015 13:03:56 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Anti-Social Behaviour Does Not Equate Autism]]>Tue, 24 Nov 2015 20:57:33 GMThttp://www.goteamkate.com/blog/anti-social-behaviour-does-not-equate-autismPicture
A great and ferociously clever friend of mine once said: "I am so sick of people diagnosing themselves with autism because they don't like parties." Or something like that; I don't know; I wasn't listening.

The point is, just because it's popular to be super anti-social these days, doesn't mean you get to self-diagnose yourself with autism. We'd all rather stay in and watch Netflix. That doesn't give you the right to pretend you have a very serious neurological disorder.

If you think skipping social engagements because 'peopleing' is too hard, gives you license to call yourself autistic than you're not the lovable quirky side of normal. You're an asshole.

When you equate your anti-social behaviors with autism you negate the hard work and struggle individuals with autism go through every single day. A communication disorder is not a meme about avoiding the phone (again, we all do that). It's a life-changing neurodevelopmental disability that can make negotiating social situations frightening, confusing and even painful.

Have a little respect.

Oh, also, you don't have OCD because you like your remote controls all lined up beside you when you watch TV.. How many groups are you going to insult today?.

<![CDATA[I Can't Transcend Her Autism So Fuck Off]]>Thu, 12 Nov 2015 15:44:03 GMThttp://www.goteamkate.com/blog/i-cant-transcend-her-autism-so-fuck-offPicturehttps://www.pinterest.com/ pin/469570698626859016/
I don't know how to tell you this, but the truth is, your neurodiversity movement is making me really fucking angry. Oh, looky there, I guess I did know how to tell you.

Things that don't make me angry:





Things that enrage me:

Internet assholes telling me I am hurting my child because I refuse to celebrate her disorder.

When I log on so many tell me over and over that I am hurting my girl by not allowing her autism to shine. 

By "shine" do you mean allow her to become so agitated by confusing and overwhelming sensations that she cry and lash out?

If she had diabetes should I let it fucking shine. Should her milk allergy be allowed to shine? What about her love of biting assholes like you? Well, yes, maybe you've got something there.

I know so many of you want me to embrace her autism. Celebrate it, even. This really only serves to frustrate me. If you're coming from a good place when you write to me, I usually can see that right away. I understand that and I simple delete the message because we shall agree to disagree. If you're attacking me, as many of you do, I get pissed and here's what I want you to know.

My daughter has a disability and I cannot transcend that fact with positive thinking about different operating systems and feel good stories about the school basketball team's quirky manager. Nor can many of you. You know pity porn when you see it. But, you still insist that autism is not a disorder, but a gift.

I am not afraid to say that if you've been lightly affected by autism; If your autism is of the so-called high-functioning variety (and my own daughter's may very well be) than bully for you that you can write about how fucking amazing autism is for you. This is not the case for everyone. 

Is self-injurious behaviour a gift?

Is fecal-smearing a gift?

Is being lonely, afraid and confused a gift?

I won't be bullied into the neurodiversity movement. When you attempt that you marginalize so many. 

<![CDATA[The Invisible Girl]]>Fri, 06 Nov 2015 00:16:49 GMThttp://www.goteamkate.com/blog/the-invisible-girlPicture
Grace was born in the spring. She was our first. The moment she was placed into my arms and I looked into her eyes I finally understood the term 'soul mate'. For this little dark haired baby was surely mine. My heart ached when she was taken from my arms by the nurse and continues to ache to this day when we are not together. She is anxious and kind, timid and loving, sensitive and oh so smart. As she grew she would crush the milestones in the baby books. She spoke so early and so well that her father and I would often be approached by strangers who had overheard her detail her day. "My, she talks so well. How old is she?" We would beam, and answer "just two" and then we would bask in their compliments, all the while, feeling like fantastic parents. She was our star and we held her up to the world so proud and she beamed down on us, just as it should be.

Kate was born in the spring just two years after Grace. When they placed her in my arms I searched in her blue eyes awaiting the connection I had been expecting for nine months. I couldn't find it in her eyes. I looked to my husband and back to my baby. I looked to the doctors and nurses but they didn't seem to notice. She didn't snuggle in and grasp for me like her sister. I could tell she didn't know I was there and I was devasted.. I smiled and said all of the things I was supposed to say but I was terrified because my baby had not connected with me and I didn't know what to do. Soon my husband would return to work and I would be home with my two small children wondering what I had done wrong.. 

In those early weeks I would spend hours staring into Kate's eyes. I haven't admitted that, yet. I thought maybe she was blind, or deaf, or both. Why didn't she look at me? Why didn't she reach for me? 

During these weeks, Grace, our shining star, took a back seat like no other. It would be a seat she would quickly get used to. I had to fix my baby. Grace would be fine with her 'Little People' toys and her board books while I worked to get Kate to notice me. Grace was clever and a good girl. She would be fine if I focused some attention on her sister for awhile.

"There something wrong with Kate." I would say to my husband, with tears in my eyes.

"Don't be ridiculous," he would say :you're just hormonal."

"I'm scared." I would say.

"She is perfect. I promise." He would say.

It would be years before I would know that sentence to be true. Two years in fact until we got her diagnosis of autism and two more before we really wrapped our heads around what that meant for Kate and our family. I would finally find that connection I had longed for when Kate was baby, and those bright blue eyes did not disappoint once I reached her. She is the most loving and wild little spitfire. She loves with all her might and she believes that everyone and everything is amazing. 

What then, of Grace, while we spiralled into despair and fear and finally fierce protection for our child who would always struggle in a world built to overwhelm her? 

Grace would become painfully shy. Her new role as 'autism sibling' would take over. She would grow anxious about many things, with her biggest worries pertaining to her sister and myself. She sits silently at countless specialist appointments twirling her hair as one professional after another says things like: "Developmental Delays" and "Communication Disorder". 

She was there at Kate's first occupational therapy appointment when I cried because the weight of it can hit you at the most inopportune times. 

She was there the many times when Kate lost her words and would bite my cheek, or arm or back to tell me she was angry, confused, and overwhelmed. She was there when I cried then, too. Not because it hurt, though it did, but because it made me so unbearably sad at times. 

I compared the girls at every turn. Have I confessed this yet? I still compare. It one of my worst habits. 

Grace was talking so early, and shows such academic promise.  

Kate confuses words and their meanings and can be aggressive when she is afraid. 

Grace is fearful and cautious and won't step too far from me.

Kate is fearless and strong and won't ever look back.

Grace watches Kate as I do. She watches and wonders and thinks about her even when they are not together.

Sometimes Kate gets so agitated that she gets aggressive and unreasonable. This will sometimes happen in public. This is the quickest way for Grace to go invisible. 

She watches and listens and reaches for my hand every single time and she stays  invisible because she feels we cannot manage much more than what is on our plate.

She stays invisible whenever her sister acts out, which was and can still be so very often. 

She's become the invisible girl for her baby sister and it breaks my aching heart. 

She loves this blog. She is proud of it and proud of her baby sister. We've asked if she would like to be the subject or author of her own blog and she is thinking long and hard about it. She is shy, you see and it's always been easier to let Kate take the attention.

She is still our star, you know. She aces her math tests at school and she talks of becoming a teacher some day. I cannot bear a day without her kisses and hugs and I tell her so every chance I get. 

"I love you, Grace."

"I love you more, Mama."

"Not possible, Baby,"

"I know, Mama."

She is a good friend and fine student and the most lovely little daughter anyone could ever ask for. 

She cries when she thinks someone is embarrassed. She cannot bear it for them. I love her tender heart so much.

She is my best friend, and my greatest comfort. She is my baby and I don't want her to feel invisible anymore. 

<![CDATA[Girls Can't Do What? KV Fire Department Gives Girl With Autism and Her Service Dog a Private Tour]]>Sun, 01 Nov 2015 19:11:28 GMThttp://www.goteamkate.com/blog/girls-cant-do-what-kv-fire-department-gives-girl-with-autism-and-her-service-dog-a-private-tourPicture
Kate's autism is not the first thing you'll notice about her. You'll notice her striking blue eyes, her penchant for superheroes and her love of being with people. Kate is busy with very little down time so when she decided recently that she wanted to make videos to teach people about important topics, I was quick to help her out. (After all, it beats wrestling with her. She is surprisingly strong for a forty pound five year old.) She made a video about sharing, not hitting and unfortunately a short video of what she remembers of her birth. You can find this video on our Facebook page if you need a laugh. 

Most recently Kate decided to make a video about Fire Fighters (I told you she was into super heroes). This video made its rounds on social media and came to the attention of Michael Boyle, Platoon Chief at the Kennebecasis Valley Fire Department. He quickly reached out and ask if Kate would like to come for a Fire Station visit! Does Spiderman spins webs? Do the Ninja Turtles love pizza? YES, of course we would love to come visit the station. 

You see, Kate was a firefighter for Halloween and her autism service dog, Oakley, was her "Fire Chief". Her sister was an "evil twin' with her bestie but prefers to stay off camera for the most part. (Trust me, she was equally adorable). As we set out to make our rounds we were lucky enough to see a KV Fire Department truck drive by, and guess what? They spotted Miss Kate and pulled over so she could jump in for a quick visit. She then talked about that visit the whole way around the neighbourhood. Her Sunday visit to the station  couldn't come soon enough. Check out these photos of Halloween night before we get to the good stuff below. 

She won't eat any of the candy she collects because of food aversion issues associated with autism but she loves collecting it just the same.
Is it just me, or does that look like a headless driver? I guess they go all out on Halloween. *shiver*
After the excitement of Halloween we were hopeful that Kate might sleep in a little later than her usually 6:00am. We were in luck, she slept in until 6:08am. Anyway, she was too excited to sleep because today was the day she was going to the Fire Station. Off we went for a private tour. The firefighters all came out to greet us and show us around the station. Kate and Grace were V.I.P's (even if Grace was too shy to leave my side). 

It was especially fitting that Firefighter Karen was there to take the lead on our tour to further encourage Kate that girls could be firefighters. Firefighter Karen and her colleagues took Kate in and out of every truck and every other piece of equipment at the station. Kate then asked her father and I to stay put while she and Karen did some further exploration. We stayed far enough back that she felt pretty independent. Oakley even kept at a short distance for this one.. Kate had five firefighters at her and beck and call and I am pretty sure they loved every minute of it.

This visit has done more for us than just allow a little girl the thrill of sitting in a fire truck. It has reminded us that our firefighters are community helpers in more ways than one and it has reminded us that girls rule! (Thanks Firefighter Karen). 

So, thank you KV Fire Department. From all of us, Thank You!

<![CDATA[Dear American Girl]]>Fri, 16 Oct 2015 20:50:45 GMThttp://www.goteamkate.com/blog/dear-american-girlPicture
This isn't an ask, or a complaint or even a suggestion for the name of the next "Girl of the Year" (although Malala seems nice). It's simply a note to tell you of a lovely lady in New Jersey who has made it her business, and her pleasure, to forward two of your beautiful dolls to my daughters every year. We've never met this lady, but lets call her Anne, because that's her name. 

You see, two short years ago she read a letter I wrote to a kind gentleman on a plane who had befriended my autistic daughter. This letter moved her and she began to follow our story as I detail it here on my blog. It was not long before she reached out and asked if she could send my daughters each one of your stunning dolls. We, having never laid eyes on one, let alone held one, of course said yes. Sure, it felt a little strange to say yes at first, but these dolls were the stuff of legend for us and we were eager and excited to see if this lovely lady called Anne was really going to send our girls such an extravagant gift. Soon, two  'Isabelles' arrived and the girls and I spent hours that first evening playing with them. (I couldn't help myself, I had never seen dolls like that before).

I know that people complain that the dolls are expensive. Since, I am not in a position to afford them myself, I might have thought the same thing before I held Isabelle in my hands. Her perfect silky hair and impeccably sewn clothes were just part of what made her so special. My girls were immersed in her story and their play took on a creativity I hadn't seen before. For an autistic child this is especially important. Kate didn't have much language then but she knew how to rock that baby with her sister by her side and we all could have stayed in that room forever. 

The following January our lovely friend, Anne, would send two more of these exquisite creations to our girls. This time the 'Girl of the Year' was called Grace. The same as my eldest daughter, whom I assure you, is aptly named. The dolls arrived and our Miss Grace could hardly believe her eyes as she lifted the dark haired doll from her box. She helped Kate, free her doll, too, as helping her little sister has always been her first priority. The dolls needed simply to be lifted from their box because some genius in your company decided that parents don't have time for and don't appreciate spending all their time liberating toys from impossibly complicated packaging. For this, I thank you. 

Now, we have heard from our friend, Anne, once again. She wishes to send her favourite little Maritimers a doll called Mary Ellen. Maybe you're wondering why we haven't encouraged Anne to take the money she is spending on these dolls and donate it to an autism charity. Guess what, she has done that and more. She is the most generous and kind person that I, well...that I don't know. I sincerely hope to someday meet her in person and thank her for her generosity. 

Anyway, I just thought you should know that there is a lady in New Jersey who uses your dolls to make two little girls, and their mother, smile. 


Shanell Mouland

<![CDATA[Thoughts on Writing About Autism and Other Stuff]]>Mon, 12 Oct 2015 20:09:31 GMThttp://www.goteamkate.com/blog/thoughts-on-writing-about-autism-and-other-stuffPicturewww.pinterest.com
It occurs to me that everything I write could some day come back to haunt me, haunt us, haunt her. I've tried, mostly, to be wary of that fact. I suppose what I am doing is writing an unauthorized biography and the subject ultimately cannot approve or verify my words. 

Sure, if you ask her, she'll tell she loves to be on the 'puter', but does she/will she love how I've shared the intimate details of all of our lives? I can't know that now. I made the decision, a long time ago, to continue sharing despite this fear because when Kate was born and I brought her home and I could see in her beautiful blue eyes that she was different than the rest of us, I didn't know what to do.  And, almost two years later, when we finally learned our girl had autism, I needed to hear from parents, and siblings and autistics themselves, because as wonderful as the professionals are, they can't quite prepare you for this world. 

My thoughts on the disorder, the diagnosis and the treatments have changed over these last few years. I won't remove the posts in which I was furious. They are, for the most part, as authentic as I could be for you then. I'm still angry at times. Less so, but angry still. I still resent our narrow and short-sighted views on treatment. I also despise the in-fighting within the community itself. But, lately I find these things bother me less. 

It's hard to hit publish on anything I write. Sharing your writing is like sharing a terrible selfie on social media. At least, I think so. I can't imagine anyone ever feels confident when they publish something they've written. It feels kind of shitty and necessary at the same time: like the dentist. If you follow me on social media you'll know I do a little bit of writing for money. You should know, anyway, I self-promote enough. Anyway, that kind of writing isn't easy, but it's mostly fun and it doesn't hurt: like teaching Kindergarten or herding cats. 

So, if you're still with us through all of our declarations and confessions, and the occasional listicle, thank you. It means a lot.

(The above photo is not my workspace. I just sincerely wish it was. My workspace is my lap, with two small children making unreasonable requests as I type) 

<![CDATA[I Feel Guilty]]>Sat, 26 Sep 2015 22:21:10 GMThttp://www.goteamkate.com/blog/i-feel-guiltyPicture
Alex and I talk about the future sometimes. We'll be forty soon enough and planning is important, right? We talk about a small retirement condo uptown. A beautiful view of the harbour. We could go down to one car and walk to the nice restaurants. Then one of us says it:

"Are those condos big enough for three people?"

It's a legitimate question as the condos are quite small and the second bedroom is often considered a small office. It's the fact that we must ask it that hurts. Will she still be living with us? It seems likely. In fact, we can't picture our future without her living with us, but we wish more for her. We wish so much more. 

I feel guilty typing that.

Sure, she could ultimately run a fortune 500 company, or invent space shoes, or be the first female MLB closer but we have to prepare for a future where her awesome little self lives with us because we can offer her what she needs. 

Will she read this someday, and say: "Oh, Mom. You were so dramatic. When I come home from M.I.T. for Christmas break I'm going to take you out for a drink."

I feel guilty typing that.

I know what you're thinking. Everyone's child's future is unknown. We raise them right and we hope for the best. I don't know how to tell you it's different, except to say that she's been given a few more challenges. Challenges I am not sure the world understands. I'm not sure I understand.

I feel guilty typing that.

So, we plan for every scenario and we worry. We worry so much it hurts. We think about her sister. She is so smart and sweet. She already feels responsible for Kate, in the best possible way, of course. Will it always be this way? Her dad and I hope so.

I feel guilty typing that. 

I've explored these feelings enough for tonight. Thanks for listening. I think I'll take a break and pour a glass or three. 

I feel guilty typing that.

<![CDATA[A Little Girl and Her Autism Service Dog Make the Best Team at School]]>Thu, 17 Sep 2015 22:53:18 GMThttp://www.goteamkate.com/blog/a-little-girl-and-her-autism-service-dog-make-the-best-team-at-schoolPicture
This is Kate. She has autism. That's okay, though; because she has Oakley, too. Oakley makes autism easier on Kate. He's kind of like a cane or a wheelchair or even a best friend, and how all of those things make life a little easier for someone who needs them. I could go into detail about what Oakley does for Kate but I've done that here and here. This time I would simply like to let you know that this little dream team is rocking school. In fact, I'll share a little conversation I had with Kate regarding school last night.

Me: It's time for bed, Kate.

Kate: How much more sweeps afore I see Mrs.M?

Me: Just one, kiddo.

Kate: No, I fink dat's too wong!

Sure, schools can be both a sensory and social nightmare for kids on the spectrum but it looks like Miss Kate and her team (including a fabulous teacher and educational assistant) have been managing just fine.

On a different note; check out the next issue of Canadian Dogs (Coming in November) to see Kate and NSD Oakley featured. Get yours fast because I'll probably buy the whole rack!

Wouldn't you love to know what the question was? Even more; her answer?!
<![CDATA[You Make Me Bite You]]>Mon, 07 Sep 2015 00:59:02 GMThttp://www.goteamkate.com/blog/you-make-me-bite-youPicture
In her complex, intricate, delicious and amazing mind, She truly believes, I'm making her bite me. Really, she feels so utterly betrayed at times that she lashes out and feels justified in her actions. She was watching a show about dinosaurs. How dare I turn it off and request she go to bed. She was playing Ninja Turtles. How dare I suggest a bath. 

She's not bad. She's not spoiled or coddled. She's legitimately destroyed by the idea that I would take her from something she enjoys to make her do something she dislikes. 

She lashes out, at me mostly. She bites and hits and kicks. I cry and she feels vindicated by her actions. I used to watch her reaction to my tears in a futile hope that it might make her realize that she hurt me. I don't do that anymore. She is adamant in her feelings. She feels betrayed, hurt, and lied to. It isn't about me. It was never about me.

She thinks differently than you or I. It is so difficult for so many of us to understand. It appears selfish and angry but I can promise you it is merely a combination of confused and afraid. The two most terrifying emotions of all.

A lot of the time she is confused and afraid.

Could you live like that?

Would you want to?

We owe it to her to make it easier and even as you watch in the grocery store parking lot and think to yourself "If she were mine I would take her home and teach her a lesson", we continue offering her support and love beyond what you might expect because she is fighting a battle we know nothing of. She is a total fucking rockstar and you better recognize. 

<![CDATA[Wine, I want Wine, Please]]>Sun, 23 Aug 2015 21:20:16 GMThttp://www.goteamkate.com/blog/wine-i-want-wine-pleasePicture
"I'd murder a glass of wine right now." 

"Pardon?" The waitress is young and likely childless and doesn't see wine as a necessity. I imagine she only drinks cocktails; the fruity ones. It doesn't occur to her that I need this wine, today, and I need a healthy pour.

"Wine, I want wine, please."

"5 ounces or 9?" 


I'm sitting here waiting for my wine and trying not to cry. Today I am overwhelmed. Today I can't stop my mind from running. 

Kate has become more aggressive. She's mostly used me to expend some of her pent up anger but on occasion she used Grace and that bothers me to no end. The aggression worries me. Not just the physical stuff, because we've been dealing with that for a long time now. We have our battle scars and we understand that Kate's frustration and confusion is far more painful than the pinch or the bite we get now and then. What is getting to me today is her verbal aggression. She is five and works hard to form every sentence that comes out of her mouth with makes it especially difficult to hear her threaten to hurt us. 

Mama, I will smash your head.

Mama, I will put you where you're not safe.

Mama, you're never my family.

Mama, I will make you be dead.

Relax, now. I don't expect to wake up in the middle of night and see Kate leaning over me with a pillow. Although, on occasion I will wake up in the middle of the night to her peeling my eyelids open and saying, "Mama, cuddle?" She loves us. She really truly does, and we know that for sure. She is just experimenting with threats right now and it kinda breaking my heart. Buddha knows, I've probably said some shitty things to my own mother in my life and trust me when I say, payback is a bitch.