Hello there! This is Gloria and I am 10 pounds of Australian Shepherd spunk and fluff. Usually, this is mom’s website, but she is busy with coffee and Boo Bear, so I took over. Please excuse the lack of dew claws. Mom adopted me when I was 8 weeks old and only 4 pounds. Even then, I had very strong opinions on things. There are two big dogs in the house, Stevie and Max. Something is wrong with Stevie’s eyes, and he tends to run into things, but he is lots of fun to play with. Max likes to lie in his crate, or as mom calls it his “man cave”. When he is not out running with Mom he takes lots of naps. Mom says he is older and I must be respectful of his wants for privacy. I think he is a big grump and try to steal his treats. There are four humans in my house: Mom, Dad, Mouse, and Boo Bear. Mouse loved me from the start, but when Mom brought me home Boo Bear cried. He was afraid that Mom would love me more than him. Mom assured him that this was not the case and I gave him lots of kisses. He tasted salty! Now Boo Bear and I are friends. He lets me sit in his lap and does not seem to care if I steal his food. Mom says this is not good, but I think he just likes to share with me! I jump on his bed every morning to help wake him up and we have a quick snuggle. After Mom gets him up and dressed we put him on the bus. It is big and yellow and sometimes the aides get off the bus to say hi to me! There was once another doggie in the house and her name was Rosie. Mama says she went over the Rainbow Bridge two summers ago. She was Boo Bear’s service dog and took very good care of him. I don’t know if I will be a service dog or not when I grow up. I am only four months old and have a lot of growing and learning to do. Right now I know my basic commands. I know sit, down, come and here. I love to play fetch. If I don’t feel like coming in the back door I scoot under the fence and run around to the front door. This way, I don’t get trampled by the big dogs. Mom says I am a scamp, but she always give me biscuits when I come right away. I like this house and I like helping Mom take care of Boo Bear. He is lots of fun and he has a great laugh. He does not talk like most humans seem to, but he is very expressive. He also uses sign and an iPad to help him communicate. I told him he should bark early, often and loudly to get what he wants, but I have yet to hear him bark. Maybe his barker is broken, I don’t know. It is time for me to go harass Stevie, so I will sign off now. Talk to you later, Gloria.
Boo Bear and I had a great day on Saturday. We were eating breakfast when there came a knock at the door. I vaguely recognized the woman on my porch and then realized that she was Erin Murphy, our representative! I have voted for and supported her for the last decade. Ten years ago, Boo Bear eloped and got loose in the neighborhood. As I was running out the door I was met by a lady delivering political leaflets. She said, “Hi, my name is Erin Murphy and I am running to be your representative.” “Hi”, I replied. “My name is Harriet Herndon and my seven year old with autism just took off.” Immediately, Erin jumped into action. She said she was an emergency room nurse and familiar with spectrum kids. She put down all her papers and she and I went up and down the street, calling for Boo and banging on doors until we found him. Whew! I have been her proud supporter ever since. I mentioned this memory to her last Saturday and her face lit up. “I remember that day! How is he doing now?” I told her he was doing fine and would graduate high school in May. She gave her congratulations and said that she is now running to be a senator. I told her this was great news and she absolutely had votes from Robert and myself. She asked if we were receiving enough services for Boo. I said that we were very blessed to live in St. Paul, and very grateful for the services which Boo receives. I said that services are not easy to come by, one has to be a good advocate, but St. Paul is a great place to live. She was happy to hear this and continued on her way.
Breakfast over, Boo and I met up with A and went to Ran Ham bowling. We got Mr. Boo a big plate of fries and let him roll balls to his hearts content. He was so happy, grinning ear to ear and giggling to himself. The MN football game was playing on the big screen and the Gophers were happily defeating Penn State. Ravi’s game and the football game ended at about the same time, amid cheers from all of the fans, some more inebriated than others. It was a perfect afternoon. We also learned that Boo has a weakness for Ranch dressing and will do shots of it when given the chance. Who knew?
So, this is just a snapshot of our weekend, a brief respite of fun before a very busy week. Boo has his final IEP meeting of his high school career tomorrow. We will be talking about graduation, transition, guardianship, and a whole host of other issues. Serious stuff. Adult stuff. But in the back of my mind I hold a mental snapshot of my son, bowling, eating French fries, and having the time of his life.
Happy Halloween from an autism mom who unabashedly loves the season! When I was teaching, I brought out my Halloween decorations on October 1 and kept them coming for the entire month. Now that I am out of the classroom, I inflict costumes on my dogs and hedgehogs. If the treats are good enough, they will usually let me have my way. Boo Bear woke up sick this morning, so he will probably be helping me pass out candy tonight. Mouse is going out for loot with a friend. I have no problem with teens showing up at my door for candy. If they want to hang onto that last vestige of childhood, let them! Toss them a Snickers bar! Compliment their costume. After all, it is only one night a year.
My bigger new is that as of October 28, Boo Bear is nine months seizure free! We are over the moon happy about this. For now, we have him on the right cocktail of meds and cannabis and he is a seizure free, happy young man. Coming up in mid November is his last IEP meeting as a high school student. It is at 9:30 in the morning. I think this should be a celebratory affair. Surely is it not too early in the morning for a margarita? The only question is, will staff want their glasses salted or not?
Enjoy your last days of fall. I see our neighbors in Wisconsin already have snow and we have some in our forecast as well. Welcome all the little witches and goblins to your door tonight and be generous with the treats. To quote my dear friend A, “Be good humans.”
Hi y’all! This is Boo Bear and I have taken over the computer while Mommy is taking care of the hedgehogs. 43 days ago her feet stop working during a run. 41 days ago she had cervical spinal fusion, C4-C7. For about a week, Mommy was not much fun. She spent a lot of time asleep. Daddy said this was good for her but I thought it was really boring. The good thing was, she kept forgetting to lock the candy cabinet, so I got lots of treats! She also did not feel like cooking, but lots of friends brought over tasty food for us to eat. I liked the chili and the brownies the best. Gradually, Mommy started to feel better. She would take me and Max for walks, but she did not go very fast. Boring!
In the last couple of weeks Mommy started perking up. She was not taking naps and she and I started taking longer walks. She made it a game, to see how far we could go every day. As long as she had treats, I was willing to go indefinitely. I like walks and I like treats! It was fun to see the leaves changing color and visit with other neighbors and their dogs. Gloria, our puppy, is not sure how she feels about toddlers and some big dogs, so Mommy has to carry her past them. Gloria is silly. She likes to lick my face and nibble my fingers and toes.
Yesterday, Mommy was in a really good mood. She got to run again! She said it was not very fast or very far but her feet did exactly what she asked them to do. She was so excited that she signed up for a 5km Turkey Trot and got a girlfriend to sign up with her too. Last weekend they went for a long walk together and went nearly 6 miles. She said it did not seem that far, as they just kept walking and talking and time just slipped away. Then they practiced Kung Fu. Mommy is hoping to earn her black belt next spring. She has had that goal for almost 5 years, to get her black belt before she turns 50. I think she can do it. Her friend will take her black belt test in December. Mommies are fierce!
Mommy is done with the hedgehogs now and wants her computer back. I am hoping my new glasses come in this week, as I am having a hard time telling where I am going. But, I can always find my way to the candy cabinet! If I smile at you nicely and sign, “More candy, please”, would you help a fellow out?
Thank you, my readers, so much for your tremendous feedback after the last dental fiasco. Today restored my faith in humanity and pediatric dentistry. Dr. Hagerman suggested I try taking Boo to Dr. Rick Baylon at Pediatric Dentistry in Woodbury. If you are looking for a caring, gentle dental office that can put the most anxious of children at ease, look no further. Run, do not walk, to your phone and make an appointment. The website is wdby@PediatricDentistryMN.com.
Boo Bear was fairly relaxed going into this appointment because I promised there would be no owies, we were just going to look at his teeth and chat. He liked the hygienist right off the bat because she had on a cool Halloween smock and funky earrings. He looked her in the eye and grinned. She started chatting him up about various Halloween things and he giggled. He pulled out his iPad and she sat down next to him and they had a lovely chat about bowling. This blew me away. There are very few adults Boo will openly chat with, and even fewer adults that take his attempts at communication seriously. By the time Dr. Rick came in they were chatting like old friends.
Dr. Rick introduced himself and to my amazement turned to me and apologized for any abuse that Boo had endured under Dr. Alevizos, his previous dentist, who is now under scrutiny by the state board. He was gentle, personable, and clearly understood kids, autism and sensory issues. Boo was completely relaxed around him. He looked in Boo’s mouth and said there were a few spots that looked like possible decay. We set up a date to meet at Children’s Hospital next month to do some work under anesthesia. He was happy to set up an early morning slot as I explained that Boo did not do fasting well at all. Half an hour later, a totally relaxed Boo and an eternally grateful mom hit the road to grab a snack and head to school. This clinic takes children up to the age of 18, but will accept special needs clients until they are 21. It is easy to say that Boo has now found a new dental home for the next 3.5 years.
As we drove away, I was musing on how blessed Boo and I are to have not only a fantastic dentist, but such a wonderful school. Due to health needs, Boo has missed at least one day of school almost every week this fall. In a regular school this would cause all sorts of problems. At Bridge View, it is standard operating procedure. This school deals with medically complex and fragile children. They understand absences for medical and dental reasons. Boo has attended this school since kindergarten and never once have I gotten any flack for his absences.
So, today was a very good day. I am grateful for a fantastic dentist and a school that understands the medical complexities of children like Boo. It takes so little effort to be kind to someone. And kindness repays itself. In the spirit of Dr. Rick, go out and do something kind for someone today, just for the heck of it. You will feel good and I guarantee that they will too.
Though I generally keep Boo Bear’s medical information private, I would like to ask for some good vibes, prayers, white light, etc. for him. He has been growing like a weed, but also steadily losing weight. Some days he eats fine, other days he is not at all interested in food. Blood tests and stool sample have ruled out all the obvious culprits. We are going back in to see the doctor this afternoon for a weight check and another consult. Please keep us in your thoughts.
I am spending most of today praying to any deity who will listen. There is a rally and protest in downtown that I fervently hope will not turn into a bloodbath. For better or worse, Charlottesville is my home town. I don’t want to see that violence here on the streets of Minneapolis. We all have freedom of speech, please let us do it in a respectful manner. I am also sending my prayers to the Kurds. As a country we promised to protect them and now we have turned our backs. For these and many other reasons, I am sick inside. So, whether you are a believer or not, or a person of good will, please keep these and all these thoughts within your heart today. Be kind to each other. You never know the battle that someone may be fighting.
Most of you who know me are aware that I have a pretty long fuse. I am almost always happy to add to someone’s autism awareness. Well, that did not quite happen today.
Dental visits are hard for many of us, autistic or not. My family has a wonderful dentist, Dr. Haggerman, on Minnehaha Ave in St Paul. He has seen Robert and me for years and recently Mouse started seeing him, too. I asked him how he would feel about treating Boo Bear and he agreed to see him, saying he would not force him to do anything against his will. This morning, Boo Bear and I paid him an 8:00 am visit. His dental hygienist, Marcia, was absolutely wonderful with Boo. He was not happy about getting his teeth cleaned, but he let her do it. Later, Dr. Haggerman took a look at his teeth and determined that Boo has a few cavities. We agreed that Boo would have to be under a general in order to get these teeth filled and he referred me to a classmate of his, Dr. Benke. After dropping Boo off at school and fortifying myself with a stiff cup of coffee, I called Dr. Benke’s office. The reception, to say the least, was chilly. I told her I had a referral from Dr. Haggerman for my son who is autistic. She immediately cut me off. “I don’t think so, we just don’t serve people like that.” I didn’t even let her say anything further, I thanked her and hung up. It’s been a long time since I have run into this type of blatant discrimination. I called Dr. Haggerman’s office back and explained the situation to Kris, his receptionist. She said that the doctor would call me as soon as he got a break and sounded outraged on my behalf. So, I did what any spurned customer would do; I looked him up on social media. Ah ha! His website asked me to submit a testimonial, and I did, without mincing words. The website also asked me text the office, so I did, leaving a scathing review. This did not even begin to mollify me.
So, here is what I would like that snooty receptionist to know: I am one of THOSE people. So is my husband, so is my other child. We are autistic, or if you prefer, neurodiverse. We are well educated, well spoken, and have the means to fend for ourselves. My son may not have words to speak, but that does not in the least diminish his value as a human being. He can love deeply, laugh heartily, find his way out of the toughest maze, express what he wants and needs through sign and his iPad. He is bright, funny, loving and has a wicked sense of humor. But, Mrs. Snooty receptionist, you will never get the pleasure of knowing this because your office does not serve people like him. Well, I can tell you, your office will never serve me, my family or my friends, either.
Discrimination comes in all shapes and forms. People are discriminated against because of the color of their skin, how they talk (of don’t talk) where they come from, how educated they are. The list goes on and on. I want to thank my friends online and in real time who reached out to me today to offer their support and recommend their dentists for Boo Bear. I want to thank all those people who educate themselves about autism, who are able to step out of their preconceived comfort zone and confront something new. I want to thank everyone who keeps Boo Bear and his sister in their thoughts and prayers. Thank you you, and as my dear friend A says, “Be good people.”