Friday, May 19, 2017

Stalking Deliveries

I'm a mail and package stalker. I'm right there, sometimes before they make it to my door. It could be UPS, FedEx, Amazon, or the mail lady. It doesn't matter. I'm there with a smile! If I catch them in the delivery, I thank them.

But, it doesn't start there. Thanks to the internet I check my order and shipping status several times a day! I know the next hub coming even when the customer service people don't! If it's taking 6 days to leave the warehouse after the label is created? You are getting a call and better have a good answer!!! I don't expect it to arrive, yet. But, I know where it's supposed to be!

The mail lady always greets me with a smile. She knows she is making my day. I think it makes her day too. Knowing she is making someone happy. I hope it does.

The same was true for our old mail man. This town is so small there are days he'd deliver my parent's mail in the morning and mine that afternoon!!! He's their mail man now. I still enjoy seeing him in the neighborhood.

I might be bringing it to extremes, but I'm not the only mail and package stalker. It's exciting! Something you are waiting for is arriving! Even if the mail has something stressful in it, it might also have coupons!

I do order online a lot. Most of the time stores are too crowded for my to be comfortable in. It's ironic. Companies are closing stores because of reduced traffic. Yet, they are still generally too busy for me!

They also are more likely to have what I am looking for online only. I buy what I can in the actual store. But, things like Zach's sneakers have a better selection online then in the store. The same is true for my size 6 shoes!!!

I do have some stories of errors. We all do. Shipping isn't a perfect process. That's why a lot of companies will refund shipping costs if there is a problem. But, in general, things go smoothly. I set things up to receive alerts when possible.

Our apartment is hidden away. You park in a circle but can't see the apartment from the circle. Zach and I both tend to meet deliveries in the circle. They always smile when they see us there. Hopefully, our excitement wares off!

Yes, I am a delivery stalker. Including food. But, a lot of people are. I think package deliveries are more exiting then regular mail. My guess is most people agree with me. It's fun to come home and see the package there. If I'm home when it's expected, I am probably spending a lot of time either in the doorway or looking out the window.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

53 Degrees

50 - 55 degrees. It's that temperature that has led to an internal battle. I make sense of the world through organizing everything into seasons and months. That includes outerwear. When it feels like 50 - 55 degrees, I wear a vest with a sweater. That seems simple. Odd to need four, but a lot of people dress like that in 50 - 55 degrees.

Last spring I got two vests that are thin but puffy with a filling. They are for spring and fall. This year, I got Columbia fleece vests for winter and summer. I have a sensory processing disorder. My senses are heightened making it hard to process everything. I need them all to be equal in 50 - 55 degrees. So, I have been asking myself the following:

1. Are they the same thickness? (yes)
2. Am I comfortable in the fleece when I am supposed to be? (yes)
3. Do they have the same warmth value?

That one gets complicated. I have been doing laps around the apartment complex. Barefoot to keep the pace slow. First I do the puffy one then I do the fleece for winter. I gauge if I am warm, comfortable, or cold. Then I wear the fleece vest and do the same. Same time, same exact distance, same weather. It's the kind of experiment that leads to few differentials.

So, why can't I figure it out? I don't expect the warmth value to be identical. But, I kinda do. That's the point, right? To be equally comfortable in both.

Comfort is essential for managing anxiety. In any place in my life I can be comfortable, I make sure I am. How I dress for what the weather is, can make a big difference in comfort!

So, I am finding that the real question I comfortable enough to not obsess over comfort? No. I have no idea why. I shouldn't be obsessing over this. Because the warmth value might not be exact, but it also might be.

It's all in my head. My sensations are heightened in the fleece. I know what the puffer vest feels like. So I am paying more attention to how the fleece feels. I keep asking myself..........."am I cold now?" So, the message my mind was getting was that I am cold. But, was I really?

So, I changed the question. When I was just a little cold in the fleece, was I also cold in the puffer vest? Answer: yes. Now, my sensations were heightened in both. Expecting to be cold in both. Suddenly, I felt the same?

Why am I still asking myself if they are the same warmth value? Because of a different Columbia vest. I started with the Columbia puffer mighty lite iii vest. I was decidedly colder in that for sure! They are actually great for physical activity. It uses Omni heat technology that works with your body heat to keep you warm. But, I need the vests for every day. Walks in the park or around town as well as talking outside with someone for a half hour. Omni wouldn't work for the less active part. When I wasn't making that much body heat. I kept it for gardening though. I do recommend it for if you are being physical. Like if you are out for a run or hiking.

Maybe that's part of the mind game. One Columbia vest wasn't warm enough, maybe my mind is bracing itself for this one to not be warm enough too. It's the same thickness as the fleece jackets for 40 - 45 degrees. I was comfortable with that. This is the same thing without sleeves.

Finally this afternoon the mind games ended. I did a longer and more diverse test. I asked myself if I was just a little cold in the puffer vest just like I was a little cold in the fleece. I reminded myself about the jackets. With each thought, I got more comfortable.

53 degrees. Smack in the middle of the low 50s. When it somehow is warm and cold at the same time. When you don't need a jacket, but you do need a sweater and/or a vest. When you can be comfortable being outside for a while. However, you really appreciate the heat when you go inside.

The vest thing was complicated because the temperature range is complicated. Is it warm? Is it cool? My senses were heightened. It was hard to get a good read because the influencing factors kept changing. Sometimes twice within a minute.

But, that's 53 degrees.

The fleece vest:

The Mighty Lite iii Vest (Omni heat):

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Red House, Blue House

I am mad about the AHCA. I highly doubt that is surprising. But, there are some things about it that should concern even the reddest of Republicans.

1. It was rushed. They didn't even ask the budget committee to look it over and calculate how many Americans would loose their insurance or have more expensive insurance under this. That means it had one actual purpose. To fulfill a campaign promise. But, there was a lot more to that promise then "repealing Obamacare". The rest of that campaign promise has not been met.

2. At least one person who supported it admitted he didn't even read it. Really? You trust something that will heavily impact your life but wasn't even read first? These are people that are very not subtle about only caring about the super wealthy. What makes you think they care about your health? It's full of ways to make the ultra rich richer by charging YOU more. I thought you were against it because you didn't want to pay for insurance for people who are sicker then you? You do realize it was cheaper to you personally to pay for sicker people then it will be to pay for this insurance, right?

3. Pre-existing conditions, The list is so long almost every living human in the country has at least one. Some argue "they leave it in, it's the states that can decide to opt out". True, but, there are thousands of people in scarlet red states. These are the governors that will back out. These are the states receiving the most government assistance. The states with citizens living in poor health because of the Republican governing style of anti labor protects and anti environment protections. The states with the highest rates of people with issues falling under pre-existing conditions.

Pre-existing conditions from the following website (in red)

The new health care bill, the American Health Care Act, could weaken protections for those with pre-existing conditions (aka a "health problem you had before the date that new health coverage starts") That's an estimated 52 million adults under 65. Please see the list below:

  • Acid Reflux
  • Acne
  • Acromegaly
  • Alcohol or drug abuse with recent treatment
  • Alzheimer’s/dementia
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
  • Anemia (Aplastic, Cooley's, Hemolytic, Mediterranean or Sickle Cell)
  • Anorexia
  • Anxiety
  • Aortic or Mitral Valve Stenosis
  • ARC
  • Arteriosclerosis
  • Arthritis
  • Asbestosis
  • Asthma
  • Bipolar disease
  • Bulimia
  • Cancer
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Celiac Disease
  • Cerebral Palsy (infantile)
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
  • Cirrhosis of the Liver
  • Coagulation Defects
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Coronary artery/heart disease, bypass surgery
  • Crohn’s disease
  • C-Section
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Demyelinating Disease
  • Depression
  • Dermatomyositis
  • Diabetes
  • Dialysis
  • Epilepsy
  • Esophageal Varicosities
  • Friedreich's Ataxia
  • Heart burn
  • Hemophilia
  • Hepatitis (Type B, C or Chronic)
  • High cholesterol
  • Hysterectomy
  • Kidney disease, renal failure
  • Kidney Stones
  • Knee surgery
  • Lupus
  • Lyme Disease
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Mental disorders (including Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Schizophrenia)
  • Migraines
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Myasthenia Gravis
  • Narcolepsy
  • Obesity
  • Organ transplants
  • Pacemaker
  • Paralysis
  • Paraplegia
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Pending surgery or hospitalization
  • Pneumocystic pneumonia
  • Polycythemia Vera
  • Postpartum depression
  • Pregnancy or expectant parent (includes men)
  • Psoriatic Arthritis
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis
  • Renal Failure
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Scleroderma
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder
  • Seizures
  • Sex reassignment
  • Sexual deviation or disorder
  • Sjogren's Syndrome
  • Sleep apnea
  • Stroke
  • Transsexualism
  • Tuberculosis
  • Ulcers
Normally, I do a ton of digging and load my blog posts with stats and articles proving everything. But, it's notoriously known that most Republicans don't read facts unless it's the "alternative facts" from fox news, Breitbart, or anything else in that category. It's also information most Democrats have likely seen already. It doesn't seem worth the effort.

I'm not stressing about the AHCA yet. Because it's in the more moderate Senate. What I have read is that the Senate is going to review it for reconciliation. But, that it is likely they will be using it as a frame for writing their own healthcare law. Which will be more moderate and we'll see how the house responds to what they come up with. As it stands, this is unlikely to be the completed version.

I read in an article a quote from a GOP representative. I think it was in Politico. He said basically, "it was a mistake to call this repeal and replace. We should have just said "repair the ACA all along." I think he was correct. Now, the Senate is going to have to get Democrat feedback. Finally, they will be working together.

I agree the ACA needs to be fixed. There needs to be MORE taxing of the ultra rich so MORE money can go to Medicaid and tax subsidies. The government needs their own insurance company. Not one run by a rich greedy bully. But, one run to provide quality plans for the people. It creates competition so the big name insurers are less likely to leave the marketplaces.

The red house didn't even ask the blue house for input. This isn't a football game. You're not cheering for the ACA as is or the AHCA as is. It's creating legislation. Laws of the land. That requires compromise. Making sure both sides get what they want. Something that the poorest of the poor can get and the richest of the rich would like too. Time for the red house to start listening to the blue house. When the Senate is done, they won't have a choice.

A New York Times article on how the house's votes might effect 2018:

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Pray For Me

I have recently joined a couple of Episcopalian groups on facebook. One is for Liberal Episcopalians and the other is for any Episcopalian. That second group asks us to leave politics out of the conversation. They are full of prayer requests.

1. medical
2. emotional
3. promotions
4. finding a job
5. selling a house
6. guidance through a life challenge

Most of these posts are vague. But, the tone is always urgent. Some are for something small, others are for something big. It doesn't matter what the request is. The responses are always fill of supportive prayers and words.

This is the prayer I use when I pray:

God, I pray for everyone. We all need healing, hope, guidance, and support. Any prayer needed, I am saying it now. I also want to thank you for all of the blessings in everyone's life. Amen.

That was a very popular post. A few days later, I posted a prayer request. I felt bad because it was something small. I was in strong physical pain and wanted it to stop. Sure enough, not long after the prayers started coming, the pain went away!

One person said "There is someone on here who prays for everyone." I responded "LOL that was ME!!!" Giving and receiving that much support is good for the soul.

It's been fun seeing pictures of all of these beautiful churches and hearing from so many different people. I also am stumbling across others from my diocese.

Liberal Episcopalians on facebook was created after Trump's election. I'm not the only one that needed spiritual guidance after that. It's always comforting to be around people who feel the same way you do. It's a nice and safe place.

I like the idea of faith based facebook pages. I am learning how things are done differently across the country. Communion was an interesting topic with a lot of variety to the discussion.

For me, these pages help keep me focused on my spirituality every day. Something I love!!! It helps me get through the hard things. Seeing what's going on.

Pray for me? I'll pray for you. I pray for everyone. It might not seem like a lot, but it's all the help I can provide. If you ask me for a prayer, I've already given it. If you need a prayer, a religious based facebook group is a fantastic place to start.

Pray for you? Always. I know you will pray for me too.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Not So Fast, Little Boy!!!

Zach's birthday is a little over a month away. So, we started to brainstorm. It's left me with two big thoughts:

1. I really wish I had a daughter too. There is nothing cute in his "favorites" category!

2. Stop growing, Zach,.......... just................stop it!!!

Zach's current hits list includes the classic Pokémon characters, Beyblades, Baseball, and Five Nights at Freddy's.  Beyblades are basically top wars based on a tv show. He has a plastic "stadium" and has these trigger things that release the beyblades into the stadium. The last one turning wins as they hit each other. Parent bonus, it's actually a cheap toy.

Five Nights at Freddy's is based on a gruesome game app for teenagers. Freaky looking animals try to make it through a night at Freddy's Pizza. Freddy is the bear in the middle in this picture. Zach can't play the game. But, his friends and him like collecting the plushies of the characters and clothing with the characters on it. Foxy is his favorite. "I survived five nights at Freddy's".

I don't mind the Pokémon and Beyblades. While not cute, at least they aren't literally supposed to be a nightmare! I really hate Five Nights at Freddy's. But, Zach loves them. I have been able to find things that don't bother me that much for them. But, after too much Freddy's talk I threaten to talk about Barbies. That shuts him up right quick! Luckily, we have a lot of other great topics to talk about.

Developmental Psychologist Eric Erikson calls age 8 the start of late childhood. He's right. Even though when Zach was younger his favorite things changed, he stilled like toys. Now,  it's about collections.

He's one of the youngest in his class. Throughout the year his friends have been making the internal changes that come along with a new stage in development. Most of them can tie their own shoes now. If you ask Zach, he'll say he can too. But, he refuses to practice getting it right so he's not so good at it. That's one of the skills that just clicks one day. Suddenly, he'll just get it.

He's also almost out of the booster seat! It's embarrassing for him that he's the last one in a booster. He's complaining about the seatbelt while in it. But, the law says 8 or 80lbs. He's 64 lbs. Ironically, with medication they have to give him the dose for a 9 year old. Car seat laws seriously don't take into account actual kid sizes.

It's not just another birthday. It's a new stage in development. Exciting and scary. He does more to help around the house now. No more spoons in the humidifier. Now he carries in all the groceries and puts them away. He earns points which he later cashes in for things. Usually related to the above characters. He does his own laundry sometimes too.

Now that he's played some baseball, it's easier to watch Yankee games with him. We enjoy doing it as a family. It's a good thing to bond over. A healthy thing I love seeing his interest in grow. He's not a fan of practice, but he is making friends from other schools in town. In middle school, these will be the kids he eats lunch with. Baseball buddies.

But, not so fast, little boy!!! Mommy still wants HUGS!!! Luckily, he's good for it at home. I still treasure the parts of him that are still very much a kid. A reminder we still have a couple of years before the worries become preteen related! But, it's coming sooner then we'd like!

I have been thinking a lot about when he was really young. Pre-preschool which he started at 2 and a half. I really miss those days. Holding him. Carrying him. Feeding him his bottle. Even changing his diapers. I'll never have that again. I long for it. I am proud of the responsible, helpful, and loving kid he is. But, as he slowly doesn't need me as much anymore, I'm finding I need him more. I miss my little boy but enjoy the kid he is.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Loving Autism

April Is Autism Awareness month. Sesame Street has celebrated by adding Julia, an autistic child. It's made me think of the autistic people I have met in my life. All of them are wonderful. Yes, I will post some research on the spectrum.

But, first I want to take the time to talk about them. As people. Because they aren't autism. They are themselves. Individuals. They have things they love and hate. autism isn't their identity. When we meet someone who is autistic, we need to remember that.

We have a neighbor who is an autistic adult. He has his own apartment and a job. Most of the time, he is with a social worker. He's always offering to help, asking how things are going, and wishing us a happy (insert occasion here). He also loves music. He is a pleasure to have as a neighbor.

Zach as a few friends in his class who are autistic. All of them are nice. They spend some time in the regular classroom and the rest in a special education classroom. I see them in library every week. They are considered friends to everyone in the second grade. When it's a "boys only" birthday party, the autistic boy is included. That's one example of many. It's a level of inclusion that makes a difference.

I have talked to parents of autistic kids. And not just Zach's classmates. I've learned a lot about autism from them. I've shared their concern over new aides, and watched their older kids as they have attended to their autistic child. These are kids very much loved. Receiving therapy and any other help they need.

I was also in an autistic classroom once. In 2005 I was a substitute teacher. One town lied. "It's a regular kindergarten class". When I got there, it was for an autistic preschool class. I was the aides to a three year old boy. At the end of the day, I made him laugh holding him and twirling him around. One of the regular aides told me that is rare for autistic kids. That was one of the biggest compliments of my life.

So, what is autism? It's not that easy. The red section is on symptoms from Autism Speaks. Then, I have the Spectrum test in purple. But, you have to go to the website to take it if you want a score. In blue is the causes of autism from the Autism Society. Links are provided.

This chart is from Autism speaks (below). I'll copy most of what the website says. This is just on the symptoms though.

Social Challenges:

2-3 months - difficulty engaging in give and take reactions (grab a finger)

8-10 months - failure to respond to their name, reduced interest in people, and delayed babbling

Toddlers -  difficulty playing social games, don’t imitate the actions of others and prefer to play alone. They may fail to seek comfort or respond to parents' displays of anger or affection in typical ways.

Children with autism are attached to their parents. However the way they express this attachment can be unusual. To parents, it may seem as if their child is disconnected. Both children and adults with autism also tend to have difficulty interpreting what others are thinking and feeling. Subtle social cures such as a smile, wave or grimace may convey little meaning. To a person who misses these social cues, a statement like “Come here!” may mean the same thing, regardless of whether the speaker is smiling and extending her arms for a hug or frowning and planting her fists on her hips.

Without the ability to interpret gestures and facial expressions, the social world can seem bewildering. Many persons with autism have similar difficulty seeing things from another person's perspective.

It is common – but not universal – for those with autism to have difficulty regulating emotions. This can take the form of seemingly “immature” behavior such as crying or having outbursts in inappropriate situations. It can also lead to disruptive and physically aggressive behavior. The tendency to “lose control” may be particularly pronounced in unfamiliar, overwhelming or frustrating situations. Frustration can also result in self-injurious behaviors such as head banging, hair pulling or self-biting.

Communication Difficulties:

young children with autism tend to be delayed in babbling and speaking and learning to use gestures. Some infants who later develop autism coo and babble during the first few months of life before losing these communicative behaviors. Others experience significant language delays and don’t begin to speak until much later. With therapy, however, most people with autism do learn to use spoken language and all can learn to communicate.

Many nonverbal or nearly nonverbal children and adults learn to use communication systems such as pictures, sign language, electronic word processors or even speech-generating devices. 

When language begins to develop, the person with autism may use speech in unusual ways. Some have difficulty combining words into meaningful sentences. They may speak only single words or repeat the same phrase over and over. Some go through a stage where they repeat what they hear verbatim (echolalia).

Some mildly affected children exhibit only slight delays in language or even develop precocious language and unusually large vocabularies – yet have difficulty sustaining a conversation. Some children and adults with autism tend to carry on monologues on a favorite subject, giving others little chance to comment. In other words, the ordinary “give and take” of conversation proves difficult. Some children with ASD with superior language skills tend to speak like little professors, failing to pick up on the “kid-speak” that’s common among their peers.

Another common difficulty is the inability to understand body language, tone of voice and expressions that aren’t meant to be taken literally. For example, even an adult with autism might interpret a sarcastic “Oh, that's just great!” as meaning it really is great. 

Conversely, someone affected by autism may not exhibit typical body language. Facial expressions, movements and gestures may not match what they are saying. Their tone of voice may fail to reflect their feelings. Some use a high-pitched sing-song or a flat, robot-like voice. This can make it difficult for others know what they want and need. This failed communication, in turn, can lead to frustration and inappropriate behavior (such as screaming or grabbing) on the part of the person with autism. Fortunately, there are proven methods for helping children and adults with autism learn better ways to express their needs. As the person with autism learns to communicate what he or she wants, challenging behaviors often subside.

Repetitive Behaviors:

Unusual repetitive behaviors and/or a tendency to engage in a restricted range of activities are another core symptom of autism. Common repetitive behaviors include hand-flapping, rocking, jumping and twirling, arranging and rearranging objects, and repeating sounds, words, or phrases. Sometimes the repetitive behavior is self-stimulating, such as wiggling fingers in front of the eyes.

The tendency to engage in a restricted range of activities can be seen in the way that many children with autism play with toys. Some spend hours lining up toys in a specific way instead of using them for pretend play. Similarly, some adults are preoccupied with having household or other objects in a fixed order or place. It can prove extremely upsetting if someone or something disrupts the order. Along these lines many children and adults with autism need and demand extreme consistency in their environment and daily routine. Slight changes can be extremely stressful and lead to outbursts 
Repetitive behaviors can take the form of intense preoccupations, or obsessions.

These extreme interests can prove all the more unusual for their content (e.g. fans, vacuum cleaners or toilets) or depth of knowledge (e.g. knowing and repeating astonishingly detailed information about Thomas the Tank Engine or astronomy). Older children and adults with autism may develop tremendous interest in numbers, symbols, dates or science topics.

Autism Speaks:

Autism Spectrum Test:

That is the Autism Spectrum Test. 39 questions, yes or no, aimed at parents. You have to go to that link to get the "score" button. So, if you want to do this test, use the link.

Please read each question carefully and select the most accurate response.

1. Does s/he join in playing games with other children easily?

2. Does s/he come up to you spontaneously for a chat?

3. Was s/he speaking by 2 years old?

4. Does s/he enjoy sports?

5. Is it important to him/her to fit in with the peer group?

6. Does s/he appear to notice unusual details that others miss?

7. Does s/he tend to take things literally?

8. When s/he was 3 years old, did s/he spend a lot of time pretending (e.g., play-acting being a superhero, or holding teddy's tea parties)?

9. Does s/he like to do things over and over again, in the same way all the time?

10. Does s/he find it easy to interact with other children?

11. Can s/he keep a two-way conversation going?

12. Can s/he read appropriately for his/her age?

13. Does s/he mostly have the same interests as his/her peers?

14. Does s/he have an interest which takes up so much time that s/he does little else?

15. Does s/he have friends, rather than just acquaintances?

16. Does s/he often bring you things s/he is interested in to show you?

17. Does s/he enjoy joking around?

18. Does s/he have difficulty understanding the rules for polite behavior?

19. Does s/he appear to have an unusual memory for details?

20. Is his/her voice unusual (e.g., overly adult, flat, or very monotonous)?

21. Are people important to him/her?

22. Can s/he dress him/herself?

23. Is s/he good at turn-taking in conversation?

24. Does s/he play imaginatively with other children, and engage in role-play?

25. Does s/he often do or say things that are tactless or socially inappropriate?

26. Can s/he count to 50 without leaving out any numbers?

27. Does s/he make normal eye-contact?

28. Does s/he have any unusual and repetitive movements?

29. Is his/her social behaviour very one-sided and always on his/her own terms?

30. Does s/he sometimes say “you” or “s/he” when s/he means “I”?

31. Does s/he prefer imaginative activities such as play-acting or story-telling, rather than numbers or lists of facts?

32. Does s/he sometimes lose the listener because of not explaining what s/he is talking about?

33. Can s/he ride a bicycle (even if with stabilizers)?

34. Does s/he try to impose routines on him/herself, or on others, in such a way that it causes problems?

35. Does s/he care how s/he is perceived by the rest of the group?

36. Does s/he often turn conversations to his/her favorite subject rather than following what the other person wants to talk about?

37. Does s/he have odd or unusual phrases?

38. Have teachers/health visitors ever expressed any concerns about his/her development?

39. Has s/he ever been diagnosed with any of the following: Language delay, ADHD, hearing or visual difficulties, Autism Spectrum Condition (including Asperger’s Syndrome, or a physical disability


Autism Society:

There is no known single cause for autism spectrum disorder, but it is generally accepted that it is caused by abnormalities in brain structure or function.

In many families, there appears to be a pattern of autism or related disabilities, further supporting the theory that the disorder has a genetic basis. While no one gene has been identified as causing autism, researchers are searching for irregular segments of genetic code that children with autism may have inherited

Other researchers are investigating the possibility that under certain conditions, a cluster of unstable genes may interfere with brain development, resulting in autism. Still other researchers are investigating problems during pregnancy or delivery as well as environmental factors such as viral infections, metabolic imbalances and exposure to chemicals.

Autism tends to occur more frequently than expected among individuals who have certain medical conditions, including fragile X syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, congenital rubella syndrome and untreated phenylketonuria (PKU). Some harmful substances ingested during pregnancy also have been associated with an increased risk of autism.

No, autism is not caused by a vaccine.

I hope this post helps us understand autism. Because if it's understood, it means better support for autistic people and their families. I'm glad Sesame Street introduced Julia. Because that understanding leads to inclusion. That inclusion leads to a better life. More research needs to be done. But, this is Autism Awareness month, it's good to be aware of what it actually is!

So, why did I name this post "Loving Autism"? Because I have loved getting to know every autistic person I have met. Like I said, they are all wonderful people.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Supporting Addicts

I want to leave a message of support for all addicts. I know it's a battle you will fight for the rest of your life. Some will win some will loose. You might loose some friends along the way to addiction. But, it's a battle worth fighting for. I might not physically be able to be there for you, but I can leave you these words.


As far as I know, I am not an addict. As far as I know, I don't know any addicts. But, this is a very important topic. It's time to talk about it. Because with my OCD it's hard to tell if something is an obsession or an addiction.

To me, it's a shopping obsession. It's a comforting action that calms my anxieties. A compulsion I can't stop myself from doing. It's all inexpensive. It all has a purpose. Almost all of it has an actual need. But, it consumes my thoughts.

So when is it serious enough to be an addiction? Below is a link from Psychology Today. That seems like a trustworthy source to get a good idea what is an addiction.

(My comments are in black. quotes from links are in color)

What Is Addiction?

Addiction is a condition that results when a person ingests a substance (e.g., alcohol, cocaine, nicotine) or engages in an activity (e.g., gambling, sex, shopping) that can be pleasurable but the continuation of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary responsibilities and concerns, such as work, relationships, or health. People who have developed an addiction may not be aware that their behavior is out of control and causing problems for themselves and others.

The word addiction is used in several different ways. One definition describes physical addiction. This is a biological state in which the body adapts to the presence of a drug so that drug no longer has the same effect, otherwise known as a tolerance. Another form of physical addiction is the phenomenon of overreaction by the brain to drugs (or to cues associated with the drugs). An alcoholic walking into a bar, for instance, will feel an extra pull to have a drink because of these cues.

However, most addictive behavior is not related to either physical tolerance or exposure to cues. People commonly use drugs, gamble, or shop compulsively in reaction to being stressed, whether or not they have a physical addiction. Since these psychologically based addictions are not based on drug or brain effects, they can account for why people frequently switch addictive actions from one drug to a completely different kind of drug, or even to a non-drug behavior. The focus of the addiction isn't what matters; it's the need to take action under certain kinds of stress. Treating this kind of addiction requires an understanding of how it works psychologically.

When referring to any kind of addiction, it is important to recognize that its cause is not simply a search for pleasure and that addiction has nothing to do with one's morality or strength of character. Experts debate whether addiction is a "disease" or a true mental illness, whether drug dependence and addiction mean the same thing, and many other aspects of addiction. Such debates are not likely to be resolved soon. But the lack of resolution does not preclude effective treatment.

So, what's the difference between addiction and Obsession?

Addiction vs. Obsession Defined

One of the common definitions of an obsession is “a idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind.” A person can be obsessed with an activity, a thought, a story, another person; the list is almost endless. This can become problematic in some instances when a person only wants to think or talk about one thing. However, it can usually be controlled, which is what separates this term from another, often similar-seeming one.

According to Health Direct Australia, “Addiction is defined as not having control over doing, taking or using something, to the point where it could be harmful to you.” When a person is addicted to something, like a drug or a behavior, it almost always causes problematic results, especially dangerous or harmful ones that affect the individual and everyone around them. In addition, the person’s continuous use of the substance or participation in the behavior is compulsory: they cannot stop even though they may want to. These are some of the most fundamental differences between obsession and addiction, and we must understand them in order to not make light of either matter.

So my shopping thing is definitely an obsession not an addiction. Because I do control it. I can stop myself sometimes and wait for a sale or coupon. I can take the time to research before the purchase. I can't stop talking about it. But, I can stop the purchase until I take the time to judge if I would get my moneys worth from it. With addiction, you can't do that, you have to make the purchase. Right there. In the moment. Not thinking just doing.

List of Addictions to Substances Substance use disorders in the DSM-IV-TR
1. Alcohol
2. Tobacco
3. Opioids (like heroin)
4. Prescription drugs (sedatives, hypnotics, or anxiolytics like sleeping pills and tranquilizers)
5. Cocaine
6. Cannabis (marijuana)
7. Amphetamines (like methamphetamine, known as meth)
8. Hallucinogens
9. Inhalants
10. Phencyclidine (known as PCP or Angeldust)
11. Other unspecified substances
List of Impulse Control Disorders The DSM-IV-TR lists disorders where impulses cannot be resisted, which could be considered a type of addiction.

1. Intermittent explosive disorder (compulsive aggressive and assaultive acts)
2. Kleptomania (compulsive stealing)
3. Pyromania (compulsive setting of fires)
4. Gambling

List of Addictions - Behavioral It has been suggested one of the types of addictions is behavioral addiction.

1. Food (eating)
2. Sex
3. Pornography (attaining, viewing)
4. Using computers / the internet
5. Playing video games
6. Working
7. Exercising
8. Spiritual obsession (as opposed to religious devotion)
9. Pain (seeking)
10. Cutting
11. Shopping

See more at:

Now it's time to talk about those famous 12 steps. It's not just for substance abusers. They are designed to help any addict get through their recovery. I am removing the word "alcohol" is step 1 to fit all addictions.

Here are the 12 Steps as defined by Alcoholics Anonymous:
  1. We admitted we were powerless over _______–that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Bottom line, An addict will always be an addict. They will always have to work hard and take steps to avoid what they are addicted to. They will need extra support when life is stressful. Friends and family will have to support them for success. Success is worth the effort!!!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Sick Enough For Home?

This isn't just a question of "can my kid go to school?" This is a question sick adults ask themselves about work. At what point are you too sick to go to school or work?

These are the obvious times you have to stay home:

1. Fever over 100 degrees until it's been broken for 24 hours.
2. Until 24 hours after vomiting from a stomach bug.
3. Until 24 hours after continuous "can't leave the bathroom" diarrhea.
4. Strep until 24 after starting the medication.

But, what if there is no fever? Just coughing and a runny nose? That has to be allergies or a cold, right? Colds have to be really bad in order to stay home.

But, how bad? We all assume if it's bad enough to stay home, we wouldn't even question if we should be home. For us, that's probably the case. For our kids, it's harder. Since we aren't feeling the symptoms and they aren't good at expressing the correct level of "how bad".

For me, I have two lists. The list above is the law. At least in NJ at this point in time. Below is my other list. The "it's not obvious what it is, but you can't go to school/work" list.

1. Flushed face
2. A few coughing fits
3. Non-stop runny nose
4. Non-stop stuffy nose
5. Looks really tired
6. Massive pounding headache
7. Very soar throat

If Zach has at least 3 - 5 of them, based on how severe, he shouldn't be around other kids. Frankly, adults shouldn't be at work either. But, not all parents can easily stay home when their child or themselves are sick. So, a lot of sick kids and adults go about their normal routine.

My guess is these are all things we all use as a "needs to be home" reference. The level of severity might be different. But, that's what sick looks like.

And that's when things get shaky. Sometimes, it's hard to tell how severe things are. Even in yourself. These are symptoms of a lot of things. How do you know it's just a bad cold?

You don't know until you go to a doctor. But, no one wants to go to a doctor and feel like they wasted money on the visit when the doctor declares it a cold! But, cold symptoms are also symptoms of more serious things. If you are having trouble getting out of bed for 24 hours, it's not a waste of money to see the doctor. Because even if it's a cold, it might save your life if it's something else!

I got thinking about this last week. Zach had four of those things from the second list. But, the severity was borderline. So we sent him to school. We let the nurse know to call if she thinks he should be home. He didn't even make it to lunchtime! 10:30ish - there's the call!!!

We should have kept him home that day. But, he had missed a couple of days of school prior and had seemed better. So we chanced it. What if I worked and neither of us would have been able to get him in the middle of the day? That would have been a harder decision. In this particular case, we probably would have just kept him home.

At 6am Zach was coughing today. Again he had 5 of those things. But, severity was hard to tell. I did the lunch today at his school. I knew I'd be in the school for at least 2 hours. So he went to school. When I arrived, the nurse said he hadn't been in. Within 2 minutes of me heading to the kitchen, he came in. He managed through lunch. I left early, him by my side. I'm glad he stayed, but I would have kept him home if I wasn't going to be at the school that day.

Strep throat. He saw a doctor this afternoon. But, it could have just been a cold. If I knew it was strep, he would have stayed home. But, it looked like a cold. When at school, his teacher confirmed strep is going around. His throat wasn't that bad this morning. But, with strep around, the test is worth it!

Suddenly, staying home for a "mild cold" doesn't sound so bad.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Intolerance And GERD

Back in August I wrote this blog post. I talked about why I suspected it was a food allergy. I included symptoms and what restaurants do when you say you are allergic to something. But, I wanted to be sure. So I went to an Allergist. Blood work confirmed, no shellfish allergy.

But, why do I have so many of the symptoms when I eat shellfish? It's because I actually have a shellfish intolerance. They are a lot alike. With one big exception. Cross-contamination!

When you are allergic, you can't have your food come in contact with what you are allergic to. Anything used in cooking has to be thoroughly cleaned before coming in contact with your food. The allergic food can't touch your food and neither can it's particles.

Intolerances are easier. I can't eat shellfish. But, it's okay for my food to come in contact with shellfish. My throat still closes up if I eat shellfish. But, I don't have to be as careful with food preparation.

I have a lot of food that falls under that category. Things that make me feel sick if I eat them. They aren't allergies. I can't tolerate them anymore because of my GERD.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
anything from this webpage is in red)

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic digestive disease. GERD occurs when stomach acid or, occasionally, stomach content, flows back into your food pipe (esophagus). The backwash (reflux) irritates the lining of your esophagus and causes GERD.

Both acid reflux and heartburn are common digestive conditions that many people experience from time to time. When these signs and symptoms occur at least twice each week or interfere with your daily life, or when your doctor can see damage to your esophagus, you may be diagnosed with GERD.
Most people can manage the discomfort of GERD with lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications. But some people with GERD may need stronger medications, or even surgery, to reduce symptoms.

About 10 years ago I had major esophagus issues. I had trouble eating. The Gastroenterologist sent me for some testing. One test, I was too scared to do. The other told him this much. The bottom of my esophagus was closing up. He gave me really strong antacids and that worked.

I get it every day. Some worse then others. I take an antacid called Ranitadine twice a day. It doesn't work completely. I need something stronger. But, I'm too frightened of the side effects of the stronger medication.

GERD signs and symptoms include:
  • A burning sensation in your chest (heartburn), sometimes spreading to your throat, along with a sour taste in your mouth
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Dry cough
  • Hoarseness or sore throat
  • Regurgitation of food or sour liquid (acid reflux)
  • Sensation of a lump in your throat
I have them all. Bad! I have an appointment on Monday with an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor. Hopefully, that will make a difference.

I have an admission to make. I have given up as much of the no-no foods as possible. But, I have some that I just can't give up. Remember, I have selective eating disorder too. It's very hard for me to find foods I like. I have tried new things. But, there are comfort foods that aren't going anywhere.

These extreme diet changes. Everyone says it's not a big deal when they don't have to change their diet. But, those who have had to make that sacrifice understand. Even oil and vinegar on a salad upsets the GERD for me! When I talk about not being able to give up everything that sets off the GERD I am not just talking fried food. I've given up some but not all fried food. Healthy things like citrus fruits set it off too.

I am glad I went to the allergist. I can handle things right knowing what the real problem is. With the anxiety I tend to overreact. I try not to. Now that I know the real problem, I can act appropriately. It's not easy living with GERD. It's with me almost always in one symptom or another. It has been, for ten years.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Exiled Citizens

It's not a secret I am into politics. On facebook, I am in a few groups. I came across Margot and my heart breaks for her. I’m not going to share her specific story. But, I will talk about her general story.

There are a lot of people like her. Legal American citizens or permanent residents forced to move to other countries because their spouse isn’t a citizen or permanent resident. Told there is a way they can return to American someday. But, when that day comes, told they can never return.

It’s something I never knew was possible. I assumed if an immigrant married a US Citizen that they would never be tossed out of the country. Isn’t that why INS does all of those inspections and has all of those meetings with couples? To make sure the marriage is real and not just a way for the immigrant spouse to stay in the country?

Below is the blog post I did on Immigration reform. It’s from three years ago. But, in it, I talk about Green Cards, Permanent Visas, and Temporary Visas. In all of these rants against illegal immigrants one thing is forgotten. Most of these immigrants enter the country legally with Temporary Visas. They become illegal when these Visas expire. They may have applied for a Permanent Visa or a Green Card, but, that takes years to get approved.


Margot volunteers for American Families United. It’s goal is to reunite families that have been separated because of the current immigration law. Below is directly from their website:


the issue

Our immigration laws unfairly punish and separate the spouses and families of U.S. citizens. The myth of a streamlined process for US Citizens to attain a green card for their spouse is one that is widely held and is completely false. Under current law, administrative violations by a US Citizens immigrant spouse can result in 3-year, 5-year, 10-year, or even lifetime bars from the United States which is devastating for families. Even more surprising, since 1996, these cases have been largely void of any judicial or agency discretion or judgment. Due process for US citizen families is denied, one of the few areas of the American legal system where this is so. As U.S. Citizens who desire to live, work, and raise our families in our own country, we find this unjust and unacceptable. AFU’s mission is to educate and to work towards legislative change that reverses this little known, but grossly inequitable treatment of U.S. citizens.


They introduced Bill H.R. 1036. This is to change the law to be more like what I thought the law actually was. I’m probably not the only one that thought that you become a permanent legal resident by  marrying a citizen.

I hope this law passes. We aren’t just exiling immigrants. We are exiling American citizens too. That’s not alright. We need to rewrite how we handle everything about immigration. What we have doesn’t fix the problems and creates new ones. Let’s support this. And help Margot and her family make it home.