<![CDATA[Go Team Kate - Blog]]>Thu, 11 Feb 2016 15:26:41 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Chaos in the Classroom or a Resource-Starved Full-Inclusion Policy]]>Wed, 10 Feb 2016 02:46:47 GMThttp://www.goteamkate.com/blog/chaos-in-the-classroom-or-a-resource-starved-full-inclusion-policyPicturehttp://www.artistsandart.org/2012/09/malcolm-liepke-american-painter.html?m=1
There is something fundamentally wrong with a system that takes the moral high ground in terms of their implementation of extreme full-inclusion when it's failing students, staff, and their families at an alarming rate. 

American friends often ask me if my autistic daughter is mainstreamed or in a school for children with autism. I always answer the same thing:

In my province we have full-inclusion. This means that all children regardless of diagnosis or needs are placed within the regular classroom. (If I stopped here, it would sound ideal, as if my Province is on the right side of history in terms of educating 'exceptional children', as if my Province is progressive and exemplary in its treatment of individuals with exceptionalities, as they say.

and then I continue:

This typically results in chaos within the classroom. Today's classroom is so very different than any classroom you might remember. Unless you work in the system, you might be shocked to spend even an afternoon in one of today's classroom. 

(The below description is not my particular classroom composition but this particular classroom does exist, and it exists right under your nose. In fact, maybe your child spends her days in this classroom.

Imagine an average of 25 children per class.
One teacher and one educational assistant (if you're lucky)
4 confirmed diagnoses of ADHD
3 Unconfirmed 
2 Confirmed diagnoses of autism (1 severe non-verbal resulting in need for support 100% of the time,  and 1 with debilitating anxiety and hyperlexia resulting in frequent crying and outbursts )
​1 Undiagnosed mental illness resulting in anger, hitting, biting, spitting, swearing, resulting in need for support 100% of the time.
7 'typical' children 
1 Child who has recently experienced serious childhood trauma
2 Children with various learning disabilities (Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyscalculia)
2 Gifted children (Is that even the term we use anymore, it doesn't matter though, it's not like we have time to get to them)
1 Medically Fragile child

We are all in the same room, in a (to borrow a term) resource-starved situation. 

There are multiple IEP, SEP and violent incident reports to be managed.

The children must be able to function within the classroom with as little disruption as possible in order to maintain the integrity of the learning. (If you're a teacher in this system you can't help but smile a little at this thought).

In what utopian system is there a classroom without almost constant disruption? 

Do you think I exaggerate? Come see for yourself.

Let me break down a ten minute period for you, because to detail an entire day would be far too much for either of us.

You leave for work around 7:00am. You are already agitated because you've had another argument with your spouse about how much you spend to maintain your classroom.

You find the drive-thru that serves your morning drink of choice and you drive on to work.

You make nervous comments to your colleagues, upon arrival, about potential difficulties you may face today. Will he blow? Will she refuse to stand for O'Canada? Will he cry upon being asked to remove his boots? Will she hit, bite, spit before the recess bell?

You laugh because that's how you cope.

You hear the bell. You are already standing outside your classroom waiting for your class to come into the building. Your heart is warm because here they come, but nervous, too, because here they come.

Will little Mary learn a new curse word today? She is so innocent. Surely, she'll never forget the day her classmate bit her teacher while screaming obscenities. 

How will you make time to work with your non-verbal little doll today? She is acquiring language at such an exciting rate. It would be amazing to spend some 'floor time' with her. 

She has yet to see the SLP, PT or OT because they are so overbooked themselves, they can barely manage. 

Will little Ben be bitten for reaching for another's child's play dough? He won't be able to cope with that today. He's tired and he looks as if he didn't sleep well and he certainly didn't have breakfast this morning. You rush to find him some fruit.

The Math lesson was postponed again because the safe word was called at 9:25 am and the entire class was evacuated as one overwhelmed little guy, tried to take the room apart in anger. 

The bell rings because you are supposed to send them out for recess. You are supposed to pee and grab a snack. Ha! You stand defending yourself from the sweetest, brown-eyed, rage-filled little person you've ever met. You wish you could scoop him up and hug him and tell him everything will be okay, but this is more than you can handle. You are not trained for this and you are terrified that you are making it worse. 

He can't manage right now and your job is to help him manage. You are failing him. You are failing all the other children in your class who've been sent to the library for their own safety. The curriculum is calling. When will you teach them number sense? 5 Star Writing?

Your lesson plan sits on your desk. 

Your intentions were good. Didn't you just spend your weekend laminating the math centres you bought on TeachersPayTeachers.com? Didn't you just argue with your husband about the cost of the lesson, and the laminator sheets. 

I have to stop there. To go on would indicate that no learning of any kind could ever happen in the classrooms of today. Of course, it does. We teach the children in small groups (we call it flexible grouping) but we really mean it gives us a chance to focus on some serious learning issues when we can.

I don't vent here because I don't love to teach. I adore it. It's all I could ever imagine I could do. I'm just desperately frenzied in my need for help within the classroom, within all classrooms. 

Our children deserve better. And so do we.

<![CDATA[Defending an Autism Diagnosis and Why it Makes You Feel Like Shit]]>Sun, 07 Feb 2016 13:21:29 GMThttp://www.goteamkate.com/blog/defending-an-autism-diagnosis-and-why-it-makes-you-feel-like-shitPicture
I know you struggle. I know that verbal doesn't mean what people think it means and I know how crushing it can be to watch other kids reject your child because they're different. 

I also know it can be unbelievably frustrating and infuriating to constantly feel you have to prove your child has a disability that requires services and accommodations.

You might be spending your days attempting to prove the diagnosis to family and professionals who prefer to believe your child's issues are a result of shitty parenting, your paranoia or even a diagnosis-happy generation. 

You probably hold your tongue (or maybe you don't) when you hear autism being described as the 'diagnosis du jour' or the 'flavour of the month' and you might even have to count to ten when people make comments like, "Autism! In my day we called it spoiled brat." 

I applaud you for staying out of jail, I do.

You're up against it and you keep going and you spend your days trying to prove your child is disabled (and that hurts like a motherfucker) and you are forced to consistently repeat all the things that are ''wrong'' with your child, in an attempt to get the services they deserve. 

Then you feel guilty because there are so many at the other end of the spectrum, where the autism is so very clear, and so very serious and you find yourself wondering if you have any right to feel bad, at all. 

"He doesn't look autistic?"
"But, she's so cute"
"Will he grow out of it?"
"What's her talent?"
"At least he can talk."

You see the dark side of the quirky version of autism'. The side where your child has no friends and although appears to be able to function in society, will probably never live independently, paralyzed by anxiety and the fear of social interaction, or conversely, oblivious to their social deficit and so aggressively social that people shy away unsure of how to interact.

And while you stay awake at night wondering if they'll have friends, be invited to birthday parties, have a relationship, live independently or any of those things that all parents wish for their children, you're also going over their deficits again and again so you can list them at tomorrow's meeting when the school team tells you they are removing support because there are other children who need it more.

You're constantly being asked to prove there is something wrong with your child and there is something inherently wrong with that. That's the kind of thing that can tear a person apart. 

I write this, not because I have the answer, but to let you know that I live here, too, and so many of us do. 

<![CDATA[Fuck You Cake Pops and Your Impossibly High Standards]]>Fri, 05 Feb 2016 19:38:31 GMThttp://www.goteamkate.com/blog/fuck-you-cake-pops-and-your-impossibly-high-standardsBelow, the three and half cake pops that "turned out" and next to those gems, the photo of what they were supposed to look like. WTF cake pops? Why are you trying to make me feel bad? I consider myself a pretty sophisticated thinker and yet these small balls of cake and candy seem to have mystified me. This is bullshit and I don't like it one bit. I documented our progress as a warning...a cautionary tale, if you will. Don't promise your kids you'll make cake pops with them. Just spend that small fortune on wine (for you, obviously) and candy (also for you) and send those kids outside to play. 
This was after I cleaned up most of our mess. The girls were well-behaved and patient, even when I growled at the instructions multiple times. Possibly, they were a little afraid because this little snow day activity was going to be more work than it was worth, and it was written all over my face.
I think the moment I knew that these cake pops were just little sugary assholes sent to ruin my day, was when I tried desperately to mold some cake into one of the little plastic molds that came with the kit. The kids tried equally hard, and produced, what looked like, little turds, and then I found a place in the trash for those stupid fucking molds right next to the frying pan that just wouldn't come clean this morning. Come to think of it, maybe today wasn't the day to test myself with the fabled cake pop? 

There were many, many bowls of tiny colourful decorations, because that's what "good" moms do. This bowl, was especially memorable, though, because I dumped it all over the kitchen floor before we even got started. What's left in the dish is what I recovered from the counter. Those other little green bastards are still floating around the kitchen and likely will be until Easter.

Instead of using those goddamn molds, I told the kids to roll the cake into little balls with their hands. This was the most successful part of the afternoon. There was even a little hope, at this point, that these little fuckers might actually work out. 

And then we attempted to add the coatings and everything went to hell The kids laughed, because they are chill like that, and I waited until they were moved on from our baking activity and threw the contents of the whole counter into the garbage, because FUCK YOU CAKE POPS and your impossibly high standards.
This is how much cake is left over. after our ordeal. What's a mom supposed to do? Throw that innocent cake out with the frying pan and the tiny evil cake molds? No, she's gonna dunk that cake in frosting like a fat oreo in thick, sugary milk and pretend today never happened.
<![CDATA[Dear Grace, I Love You and I'm Sorry]]>Thu, 04 Feb 2016 19:54:52 GMThttp://www.goteamkate.com/blog/dear-grace-i-love-you-and-im-sorryPicture
You're not supposed to have infinite patience when you are seven. You're not supposed to have an in-depth understanding of autism and disability and how it can affect a family. You're not supposed to quietly take a back seat when things get hard for us...for her...for you.

You're supposed to be selfish. Not the mean kind of selfish, but the childlike kind of selfish where you put yourself first because you're a kid and that's okay.

You're supposed to exist in a bubble, for at least a little bit longer, and you're supposed to have no idea that there is a world outside of that bubble. Your bubble should be full of play dates and birthday parties and school functions. 

You're supposed to demand attention, and scream that things aren't fair, sometimes. 

Did you know I've been noticing how you watch my face for reactions every time your sister has a moment? We'll call it a 'moment' because this is about you and you know exactly what I mean. You glance at me looking for signs of frustration', or tears and your sweet brown eyes are, for a moment, afraid of what you'll see. We're soul mates, you and me, because  I know if you saw those things in my eyes your heart would drop and you would come to me and do anything to take those feelings from me. And you know I'd do the same for you.

I want you to know those feelings aren't always bad. When you're older you'll understand more about this. It's okay to feel frustrated and sad, sometimes. I know you want to protect me, but I promise I'm just fine. Your sister feels these things much of the time, too, you know. She just doesn't show it the way you and I do. Sometimes she uses aggression or anger to show us she is sad or scared or confused. She is never really angry at me, or you. She is just afraid. It's my job to make her feel safe and when the thought of this gets to be a bit too much, I sometimes get sad or even cry a little, and this helps me cope. It's a good thing. This must be so confusing for you. I wish it wasn't something you had to learn right now.

I know you get angry at her, sometimes, too. For all the patience you've shown, there are times when it becomes too much for you, ,too.

You have your moments, you do. Like when she destroyed the American Girl set it took you hours to arrange. You made tiny cardboard tables and chairs complete with tiny, colorful napkins from tissue paper that day. I watched as you arranged your dolls as if they were having coffee and discussing a great book. Was the dark-haired doll supposed to be you? Was the blonde, your baby sister? Do you imagine growing up and having coffee dates just like that with your sister, your best friend? I bet you do.

I dream of that for you. 

Most of the time you play so well. You translate rules and confusing social norms for her as if you're her interpreter, and I guess in some ways you are.

You go into bed with her when she can't fall asleep and you even watch her 'baby shows' as you call them, but I think you secretly like them, too.

Just yesterday, you offered your tooth fairy money to help buy her the Fisher Price Zoo she found in a catalogue. She's going to work on earning it, without the aid of your five dollars, and you know what, the day she earns that toy, you'll have earned something, too. A date with mom and dad and a special treat, too. It will be something so special and out of the blue to make you smile. Maybe some new doll clothes. I can't wait to see your face. I wish it could be so much more.

Your sister gets a sticker for her chart when she falls asleep in her own bed, or puts on her own pajamas, among other things. And you watch as her version of doing these things involves much support from us. We slide her pajama top over her head and praise her for helping pull it down. We lay her clothes out in the morning and hug and kiss her for letting us put them on her without a fight. Meanwhile, you've dressed yourself, made your breakfast and are sitting patiently, waiting for a chance to talk with us about what the day might bring. And those are the good mornings.

My chest hurts as I type this. My eyes full of tears because you are so amazing and you have given up so much of what is rightfully yours.

You deserve more kisses and more snuggle time. You deserve more bedtime stories and more times when someone helps you pull your pajamas over your head and pours your cereal. You deserve to be cranky, and frustrated and most of all you deserve to never worry, because it's my job to do that.

Sweet Grace. I Love You. I'm so proud of you. I wish it was easier for you. I'm Sorry.

<![CDATA[5 Reasons You Need to Stop Telling Her She Should Have Long Hair]]>Sat, 30 Jan 2016 19:15:55 GMThttp://www.goteamkate.com/blog/5-reasons-you-need-to-stop-telling-her-she-should-have-long-hairPicture
I can't really believe I am having to address the issue of her hair. I get that some of you might not understand food aversion, or echolalia or any of the many baffling aspects of autism because these things can be pretty difficult to relate to until you've experienced them; but her hair? Seriously? Do you know the lengths we took to even get her to sit in a stylist's chair? Now that she enjoys her visits, we want to make it as wonderful as possible, and part of that is allowing Kate to choose the haircut that makes her feel her best. I know many of you understand this, and support Kate in *gasp* her freedom to choose her own hairstyle, but you might be surprised to learn that you enlightened few are rather rare.

Frankly, I'm getting tired of repeating myself. I'm writing it here because some might think they're the only one that has questioned our decision to allow Kate to wear her hair short, but unfortunately, it's been the topic of many an angry email or comment. So, in an effort to reach everyone at once, here is a list of the reasons why we let Kate rock the hair she wants.

1. Long hair, although it intrigues her and she's often imagined having long mermaid hair, can be too much for her and as soon as her growing hair touches her ears and her neck she starts asking for "Johnny Test" hair. That's Johnny below. Kate identifies with him. So, obviously he's cool as shit. (She even got a little of that flashy red that makes Johnny so great.)

2. Maybe you prefer little girls to have traditional haircuts. That's great. When you were little I hope your parents allowed you to have the haircut you wanted. Your preference, however, does not give you the right to look sadly towards Kate as if she is missing her only chance to have long little girl locks. You're being judgemental and I promise you Kate would never, ever judge you for your choice of hairstyle.

3. It's 2016. That means your insistence that little girls wear their hair long is a bit antiquated. Remember, as I wrote earlier; your personal preference is fine. Your disapproval of others that don't share your opinion is not. 

4. Surely, you have bigger things to worry about than our little girl's hair. Right? Right? 

5. She looks amazing in that righteous little cut. So, unless you have something nice to say...

<![CDATA[What if Other Jobs Were Like Teaching?]]>Mon, 18 Jan 2016 21:51:15 GMThttp://www.goteamkate.com/blog/imagine-your-dream-jobPictureShredder
Imagine, if you would.

It's Monday Morning. You've been given your dream job. You are running a small section of a large company with approximately twenty-five employees under you. You are the boss, of this particular department, and you very much want to succeed because you love your job. You know you are integral to the companies success as a whole and that feels good and is a little scary at the same time. You think you are ready for this challenge, though. After all, you spent more than six years in University and many dollars to become qualified for this position. The salary is lower than you'd expected and there are no yearly bonuses or incentives but the job itself is a great one, so you really don't mind.

There are many others who are also invested in your department's success. The pressure is rather high and you work to please both your direct employees and your employers; those that make the real decisions about the quality of your work. The public also has a stake in this company and is watching closely to make sure you don't mess up or take too long to eat your lunch or worst of all, mishandle the career path of any of your twenty-five employees.  

It's Monday morning. Everyone is a little sleepy from a busy weekend but there is work to be done. You know this, because you spent most of your weekend preparing a presentation to be delivered today and you're just a little excited to see how your staff will react to your presentation. Surely, they will notice the extra effort you took to add music to each slide and the little jokes to break up the more boring elements. Surely, they'll appreciate that you skipped the park with your own family so you could print colour packets to accompany the presentation from your own colour printer. 

You no sooner turn on your laptop when one of your employees tells you that they don't want to listen to your presentation and they'd rather do something else...anything else. It's rather rude but you're careful not to take it personally and quietly insist that he stay and watch, regardless. Another, is sitting ready to watch, but you can see he had his phone in his hand ready to play Clash of Clans should your presentation get too boring. You feel annoyed and hurt, but as a professional you will begin to present and let your excellent work speak for itself. You'll have them glued before the third slide. You've even added multiple hands-on activities and cleverly timed breaks into your presentation to ensure optimal comfort for your entire audience. You've made sure you've relayed the information with Gardner's Multiple Intelligences in mind and you've used many of the other strategies you learned in school. You've covered all your bases twice over. 

You explain to your staff that this presentation is crucial to the success of the department and therefore the company as a whole; but half of them are not listening and the other half have become distracted by an argument that's begun over by the photocopier. Apparently, one of your staff members was shredding important documents, while another was yelling at the top of his lungs that you need be there immediately, to stop the shredding.

You prepare to move to the photocopier to deal with the situation and you ask the remaining staff to sit quietly until you return. The presentation you were so exited about, and stayed up late to complete would have to wait, until you sorted out this argument. You considered calling HR but then decided against it because you know they are swamped lately.

You unplug the shredder and ask both staff members to return to the boardroom and get ready for the presentation. Most of your staff has now congregated behind you and you ask them to re-enter the boardroom. They do so, grudgingly, and you remind them that you are invested primarily in their success as employees and you do all, but beg them to take part in your presentation.

Some sit in the middle looking bored, some lean on a table. One sleeps at the table, and another picks at her nails with a scowl on her face. Two of your employees have taken front row seats and sit with notebooks ready to take in all your handwork. "Shredder" as the rest of the staff have labeled him is missing from the room, but you take this opportunity to being your slideshow, anyway.

Your computer is old and it takes longer to boot up than you'd expected. You scramble to get things going because you know you have already lost the attention of half your staff and this information could mean the difference between your departments success or failure. 

At last your laptop comes to life and you open your presentation. Just then, you are called over the intercom to deal with an issue that is arising in the hall. You rush out to find 'Shredder' vandalizing the walls with your favourite Sharpies. You grab your sharpies and ask another staff member to notify security. You're going to need help with this guy. 

Once security has taken 'Shredder' to HR to be dealt with you return to your boardroom. Your smile is gone now because you bought those sharpies with what little money you had left after paying your bills and he has them ruined. You consider asking the company to replace them and then you laugh and laugh. Well, at least the smile has returned to your face.

Upon entering the boardroom you notice that one of your staff members is waiting for you to administer her insulin and another needs help measuring out his meds before he eats. A third has had an accident and cries because he has no change of clothes. You glance over at your embarrassingly underpaid and amazing executive assistant and realize that she has been busy translating your presentation to an employee with limited verbal skills while at the same time soothing the anxiety of a staff member who misses his kids. You glance back at your poor soaked staff member and quickly call his wife and she tells you she doesn't have any way to get there so he'll have to stay wet. This is not your first rodeo so you find the drawer of emergency items you purchased for moments just like this. You give him some ill-fitting but dry duds. You notice the clock and realize the coffee cart is about to come around the corner so you'll have to put your presentation on hold until after break. This is frustrating because your employees are so much fresher first thing in the morning. Oh well, nothing can be done, so you help those who need it and mentally change the days entire plan. 

You're going to give this thing another go as soon as you can convince your employees to leave the coffee and muffin cart, which is a far stronger draw than your powerpoint presentation. They've even brought croissants today. You'll have your work cut out for you.

It occurs to you that if you get through half of your presentation by lunch time you'll have to take the win. Maybe, if you don't have to see to "Shredder" over your own lunch hour you could use it to re-work your presentation a little. Maybe a tweak here and there would get them on board. It's almost as if they don't understand how important their success is to you. Strange.

This is your dream job, right?

<![CDATA[Parenting in the Age of Autism]]>Wed, 13 Jan 2016 20:08:01 GMThttp://www.goteamkate.com/blog/parenting-in-the-age-of-autismPicturehttp://hubpages.com/art/margaretkeane
Maybe you've just glanced at the byline and thought to yourself, "Who the hell is this? What credentials does she have to write about 'The Age of Autism'?

And you'd be right, too.

I'm a mom and a teacher and I experience autism in my home and also in my job, but I have no more right to explain this new reality to you than does anyone. But here's the kicker, I'm going to try anyway. Stay wth me...

Every single person with autism has an individual experience, as do their families and friends. Here is what I know about my own experience.

Life for me in the 'Age of Autism' is a little like this:

Raising a little girl with autism
​Working daily to help her navigate the world
Spending small fortunes on therapies, sensory-tools and diet and nutrition
Worrying daily about her future
Worrying daily that her sister isn't getting a fair shake
Watching her struggle to understand
Watching her hit, bite, scream and otherwise, take her frustration with this world out on her sister, her father and myself. 
Laughing every single day at her blunt honesty and endearing confidence
Loving her every single day for her kindness and deep empathy for others.

Teaching children with autism
Working daily to create meaningful lessons and activities 
Spending a small fortune on my classroom 
Struggling to find out how each child learns and the best way to teach them.
​Watching them hit, bite, and scream in frustration
​Worrying daily that I am failing them.
Worrying daily that I am failing all the others.
​Laughing daily at their exuberance and delight
​Loving them daily for all the ways they tell us thank you

That's it, in a serious nutshell, because there are many books that could be filled on the topic of living and working with those on the spectrum.

For you it might be a little more like this:

1 child in every 68 (1 in 45 boys) is diagnosed with autism per the CDC's latest numbers. Those numbers are already a few years old and have been jumping in recent years. In 2008 those numbers were 1-88, in 2005 those numbers were 1-150, and so on.

You may already love someone with autism and if you don't, you likely soon will. Either way, you are going to experience autism in your day to day life because with numbers like that, autism is essentially ubiquitous. 

If your children are neurotypical, developing typically, or 'normal' as they used to say, than you'll experience autism through their eyes, as well. They'll have friends, classmates and sometimes family members with autism in their lives. This is their 'normal' (there's that word again). 

Your kids will understand that today's classrooms are very diverse which will then transfer to their view of the world. They'll understand that some people struggle with regulating their nervous system and can feel pain at strong sights, smells, sounds, textures and unpredictable situations. They'll understand that some people don't use language to communicate but that they communicate nonetheless. They'll understand that fair does not mean equal and they'll support putting any and all accommodations in place to help anyone that should need them. 

Most importantly, they'll help you understand all those things,too.

Ultimately, this generation of kids is pretty damn amazing and you're lucky enough to be raising them. 

<![CDATA[2:14pm It's Day Nine of Our Holiday "Break" and Only Two-Thirds of us Have Cried Today.]]>Tue, 29 Dec 2015 19:39:29 GMThttp://www.goteamkate.com/blog/214pm-its-day-nine-of-our-holiday-break-and-only-two-thirds-of-us-have-cried-today
7:07am It's day nine of our holiday break. The inmates are beginning to take over the asylum. My resolve is weak and they know it. Today I will try to appease them with a sugary breakfast and unlimited screen time. 

7:09am Netflix isn't working on one of the iPads. I know this, because the taller one came to me, wailing as if she'd lost her beloved pet. Part of me completely understands her terror. I bark at her, anyway There are far more important things to shed a tear about in this world, and she retreats, sulking into her room.

7:11am The small one reminds me that I've promised to let her buy a tiny palace pet toy today. I vaguely remember promising her the tiny creature if she would just 'go play while I read my new Felicia Day book. Dammit, what was I thinking? Maybe, I can talk her out of it. Ha.

8:09am They've been watching questionable cartoons for almost an hour now. I was going to fold some laundry but I figured reading more of my book and updating you, would be a better use of my time. The small one interrupted my reading to ask: "Mama, what does this world doesn't have?" The little word wizard is trying to confuse me. I'll have to watch her closely, today. She's up to something.

10:29am Sorry, it's been so long between updates. I attempted to shower, alone. I no sooner applied shampoo when I heard the first screams. I made a mental note to buy a radio for the shower. Surely, there is something that can drown out the screams. Do I sound cold? I assure you these screams are calculated. I finish my shower in record time, even though I know as well as I know anything, that the issue is a minor one.

The cat wanted out and they thought it was too cold for him. Demons.

11:37am I'm getting hungry and they are getting twitchy so I think a ride in the van might be for the best. At least then, they will be locked into place in their booster seats. "Let's head into town." I said. Today is snowy and cold and will require many layers of clothing and gortex. Once we are bundled and ready to move into the van I hear the word wizard speak.

"Mama, I fink I peed." 

12:29pm We finally reach the Tim Horton's drive thru. I've been dreaming of an Iced Cappuccino. The thought makes me generous and I offer to buy a Candy Cane donut for the eldest. The youngest is still dreaming of her new toy and there is a small moment of peace in the van. 

"Can I get a small Ice Cap made with white milk and a Candy Cane donut please." I say into the speaker. 

She replies with the dreaded words: "Our ice cap machine isn't working, right now.' She says this as if it doesn't really matter and that there is something else that would appease me at this moment.

I know this to be a lie. I feel that familiar rage build. This happens all too often and you would think I might be prepared. I stutter out another order, one that I don't really want, and probably won't drink, and I sulk while I wait in the car line-up to pick it up. I tip my usual amount but I don't say Thank-you with as much cheer because I secretly think they have been too lazy to refill the machine. 

1:00pm We arrive at the mall. It's packed because Christmas was just days ago and people need more stuff. Who am I kidding? We've come to get more stuff, too. How do I get into the toy store, grab the damn toy and get out without the kids being drawn in by some hypnotizing display or another. I grab tiny hands and move quickly to the back of the store, their little legs struggle to keep up and someone takes poorly placed lego box to the shoulder but it is a small price to pay to avoid a giant Star Wars display that would almost certainly have them begging. We arrive at the small selection of tiny, colourful and ultimately useless animal figures. The small child chooses one. I grab hands again and make for the cash, thinking this might not be as bad as I thought. Her sister reminds me that she has a gift card to spend at another store in the mall. My head drops. This won't be easy. I find myself wishing I had brought my Toblerone for strength. I fish around in my purse and find a mint. It will have to do. We make our way though the mall.

2:14pm We made it back to the van with a stupid mouse and an even 'stupider' giant-eyed stuffy. Only two-thirds of us have cried so far, today.

2:35pm Is it really only 2:35pm?

4:31pm Maybe, Ill start supper. I feed the children gummy worms and encourage them to go to the basement to play so I can concentrate. They take the worms and scoff at my suggestion. I scowl and they stay closely underfoot. For fun I count how many times they say 'Mama' while I prepare a meal they'll never eat. At twenty-nine, I quit counting. 

4:49pm They were arguing over something. I don't know, I wasn't listening. I laughed out of sheer exhaustion when the eldest came to plead her case regarding the argument. This was troubling to her and she ran to her room and slammed the door. I must remember this strategy for the future. 

5:35pm He's home. He received a rock star welcome (from the children) and we eat. 

6:09pm We begin 'family movie night' and take a quick picture for Instagram. You know, to prove we are doing this parenting thing right. 

8:00 We start the bedtime routine. The eldest, although dramatic as hell, goes quickly to her bedroom after brushing because she's likely looking forward to her time away from the rest of us. The little one fights it like she's on a sinking ship. It's his turn to lay down with her, in our bed, because she has decided she'll sleep nowhere else. I watch them disappear into the bedroom before I grab the corkscrew.

8:03pm What the fuck! Netflix isn't working. I may have shed a tear.
<![CDATA[When Christmas Bites, Literally]]>Wed, 23 Dec 2015 16:23:47 GMThttp://www.goteamkate.com/blog/when-christmas-bites-literallyI took some screen shots of some of our most recent text conversations regarding Miss Kate. The season has been hard on her, and us and most devastatingly, her sister. There has been biting and hitting and screaming and all this before noon. There has been crying and exasperation and complete and devastating confusion. I'm trying to make sense of it. These are the things that I believe are making the holidays so hard for her to manage. 

School is done for two weeks. All that beautiful routine is gone. Around every corner is a surprise and predictions are nearly impossible for our girl.

There is excitement in the air. You silly people who think individuals with autism lack empathy when in reality they feel everything so intensely that it takes a physical and mental toll.

There is a promise of presents and Santa and Reindeer and magic and it's all so unpredictable it hurts.

There are expectations for behaviour in new and unknown situations and the pressure and stress of it all make her act out. 

When she acts out, we feel pressure and stress from onlookers, and she feels our angst like no other. 

There are sights, sounds and smells in the air that challenge her sensory issues daily.

Have I missed anything?

​What issues are your children experiencing this holiday season?
<![CDATA[Hey Baby, We Made a Decision About Your Future Today]]>Mon, 21 Dec 2015 17:50:04 GMThttp://www.goteamkate.com/blog/hey-baby-we-made-a-decision-about-your-future-todayPicture
Hey Baby,

We made a decision about your future today and I wanted to talk to you about it. We've decided to transfer your savings into an RDSP (Registered Disability Education Plan). This was a tough decision for us because it felt like we were admitting that you wouldn't be okay. It felt like we were accepting the idea that you will always need us to take care of you. We got all up in our heads about it, and it felt pretty bad for a little while. We had to remind ourselves that this isn't about us and our sensitivities. This is about what is best for you.

I need you to know that we made this decision because it offers you the most benefit for your savings and the best options for the future. You will gain access to more money when you decide what you want to do and we will have good and knowledgable people to help you figure it all out when the time comes. 

We know you are capable of anything. We hope you understand that this is just one more way we are going to help you prove it.

Love you Baby, 

Mom & Dad