Thursday, August 14, 2014

Living Well

21 days. 21 days. 21 days.

21 days until the kid lets are back in school and my time is my own once again. At least from 9 til 4 it will be my own. I can work, grab a latte, visit with a friend, write, read (vacuum, do laundry, dust, clean bathrooms, grocery shop … ) all in relative silence if I wish. I can listen to the CDs I want to listen to, move around my house without being asked why or what I'm doing and go longer than 18 seconds without breaking up a fight or hearing about Dr. Who.

Just 21 days.

In the mean time, I sit on my patio, listening to my kids murder each other in the pool while I try to do the final (and this time I mean FINAL) revisions on my manuscript. In reality, these revisions won't be done today. I have lugged my ruddy laptop everywhere with me for the last six weeks and I am still two chapters away from completion. I have been distracted - big time - this summer. Between renovations at work (yay!), planning our summer programs in KidMin, doing some landscaping at home, putting in a pool, helping out some friends and running back and forth to my parents place and the hospital I feel like I'm unravelling. I just want to finish this book. And breath.

As most of you know, my Dad has been battling cancer for the past three years. He's had a few set backs this year and things haven't worked out as we had hoped. Trips have been cancelled, treatments have changed and changed some more and changed again. Just when we thought Dad was getting better there was another setback. My parents have been pretty private about the details of Dad's journey so I will try to honour that but you need to know that this has been a long and stressful six months.

Yet, still my Dad is smiling.

Right now he has an infection that has landed him in an isolation ward at the hospital. In order to visit him you have to go through two sets of vacuum sealed doors, wash your hands at least three times, don a lovely yellow hospital gown and wear latex gloves (after applying gobs and gobs of antiseptic hand wash between every step of cleansing and layering). This is an inconvenience for us but Dad can't leave his room. That is a nightmare for him.

Dad is an outdoor guy. He loves to putter, walk, garden, mow and snooze in the sunshine. He loves planning bonfires for the kids and BBQs with his friends. Days spent at the lake are his very favourite. He loves walking the beach, holding hands with my Mom, and watching the kids jump in the waves. Dad loves every second of summer so this confinement has to be a test on his patience but you wouldn't know it.

Dad has developed a bit of a reputation at the hospital. He has been in this ward a few times over the past six months and the staff know him well. They know him for his crazy pajama pants, his Mexico resort t-shirts and his huge grin. They know him for never complaining, always smiling and caring about their lives. They know him for being kind, patient and a pleasure to work with. They know him.

As I was leaving the hospital last night a group of nurses were standing by the desk. It was shift change and they were just getting caught up on their patients. One nurse asked another what patients they had. The nurse listed off four names, my Dad's being the last.

"You have Carson? Lucky! He's wonderful!"

I beamed with pride as I washed, antibacterialed and walked through the vacuum sealed doors. I thought about my Dad as I made my way through corridors and out of the hospital. The nurse was right. He is wonderful. I had spent seven hours with him that day. It had been tough, his temps were high and he was feeling crumby yet he joked, teased and smiled. He asked about each of my kids, about Mr. Awesome, my job and what was on my mind. We talked about plans and dreams and we talked about nothing. He dozed on and off but each time he woke up he smiled.

At one point, my mom rolled her chair to the head of his bed and leaned over til they were forehead to forehead. They stayed like that for several minutes, locked in private, intimate conversation. I almost took a picture of them but that's one image I want to keep just for myself. One mental picture of my parents loving well, living well.

Living well.

That's my dad. He has always lived well. He has always worked hard, loved well, been kind, generous and loyal. He has always volunteered his time and cared about those around him but all of this has been amplified in recent months. The worse his circumstances seem, the brighter he shines. He hasn't let setbacks and detours change him or steal his joy. He has been sad and frustrated at times but he has always lived well. In tough conversations with doctors and nurses he has been concerned for how they felt. In breaking hard news to me, he has been gentle and careful to not damage my faith. In comforting my sister, he has been patient, kind and protective of her. In loving my mom he has been constant, strong and sure.

He has lived well. He will continue to love well.

As always, he is an example to me. No matter my stress level, busyness or chaos I can still live well. I can still have a generous spirit and a kind heart. I can still see the needs of others even though my own needs are huge. I can still care for people when I need to be cared for. And I can smile in the face of uncertainty. I can because he does. I can because he has taught me with his actions more than his words.

I can because I am my father's daughter.

“Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly, leave the rest to God.”

~Ronald Reagan 

Monday, June 16, 2014

In Their Natural Habitat

"I think we can! I think we can! I think we can!"

This has been our mantra for the past couple of weeks. We are in the slow climb to the last day of school (9 days, but who's counting?). We've been in survival mode. Git 'er done, eye on the prize, push through the pain mentality. But as we've slogged through portfolios, crammed for tests and scrambled to finish up projects we also enjoyed a few rare moments of fun and organized chaos in the form of field trips.

Mr. Awesome and I both have been able to attend a couple of field trips during the last few week and while we had moments of terror (like when I was the only adult sitting at the back of the school bus for a two hour ride) for the most part our trip pin' days were fun and educational. Sure, we learned more about our local government, fossil discovery in our province and just how many windows to open on a school bus to combat preteen musk without creating a hurricane force wind tunnel as you drive down the highway but mostly we learned about our kids and how they interact with their world. And some of the findings surprised us.

They aren't extroverts. They aren't exactly introverts either but seriously, I was a little surprised to see that all three of The Wee Ones were more reserved than I expected. Crafty is always more cautious and watchful in new situations but I was genuinely shocked to see that Mischief reacted exactly the same way as his sister. He is usually our go-getter but field trip day, parent day and track day all saw my Wee Wild Child hang back a bit and let others take the lead. He still had fun and was part of the group but he was no longer the kid out front - and that's okay.

They're okay with flying solo. All three Wee Ones have some really great friends but all three of them are fine with doing their own thing alone if no one else wants to join them. Sometimes, their are disappointed that their friends aren't with them but that doesn't stop them from participating in something they are really interested in even if no one else is. I also noticed that all three of them crave alone time even when they are in a crowd. They eventually rejoin the group but they each seemed to need a time out during the busyness of the day.

They ask great questions. This wasn't a big shocker for me when it came to observing Dude. His mind is always going and he's always asking questions - and I'm usually not smart enough to answer most of the questions he asks. I was more surprised by Crafty and Mischief. They are smart cookies, too, so I wasn't surprised that they had thoughts. What surprised me was Crafty's boldness to ask questions to strangers in a group setting and the depth of though Mischief put into his questions. It seems that although Mischief is in constant motion he is, in fact, taking in most of what he hears and Crafty has figured out how to let her curiosity win over her anxiety.

They are growing at warp speed. I often think of home as their natural habitat but that's not really the case. These Wee Ones spend most of their wakeful hours out in the world, with teachers and peers. Most of their learning and maturing happens out of sight from us and this is so evident when we have the opportunity to observe them in their natural habitat. They are not little anymore. They don't need us to navigate the world, step by step, for them. They are figuring things out pretty well on their own. They are stronger, smarter, more thoughtful, more courageous than I give them credit for. They are not babies - they are Wee People who have carved out their own place in their world. It's really remarkable to witness. And it's happening so fast!

They still want us. Whether it was a wink across the room, a seat saved on the bus or a wee sticky hand slipping into mine, my kids all let us know that they still want us around. While some of the other kids didn't want to be in their parents' group, didn't want to sit with them on the bus or didn't want them taking pictures of them together at the events all three of my kids loved every minute of having us present. They were happy to walk with us during the tours and looked forward to us joining them and their friends for lunch. They wanted to stand next to us, hold our hands and give us hugs throughout the day. They may not need us but they want us - and that makes my heart sing!

This school year has flown but and our kids have grown by leaps and bounds. I'm proud of them for persevering, for being brave and for being teachable. I'm in awe of the people they are becoming. As I watch them grow from year to year, and learn a little more about them, its as though I am slowly unwrapping a precious, and much anticipated, gift. Maybe because I am. As much as I'd like to tear of the wrappings and see the fullness of this precious gift, I also want to savour this time. Savour the anticipation, the discovery, the quiet moments of becoming. Time rushes on fast enough on its own and though I can do nothing to stop it, I can be purposeful in enjoying each second that passes. I can soak in the newness of each day. I can peacefully observe these Wee Ones as they move through the world and make it their own.

And I can be grateful

Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands.” 
― Anne Frank

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A God Moment, Undeserved

On Tuesday mornings I lead a short devotional at the middle school my kids attend. A couple of weeks ago I was having a rough morning and I was seriously thinking of skipping it. I had a horrible sleep the night before that resulted in a good-morning pounding headache and the kids were exceptionally morning resistant that day. As I fumbled through my morning routine I very familiar scripture verse came to mind and I knew I had to fulfill my commitment to the kids at the school so I dragged myself to the school. I was being obedient, just not enthusiastically so.

When I arrived at the school, my own kids were the only ones in the library waiting for devos to start. I knew it. Nice weather and all the little dudes are out playing soccer instead of coming inside early for devotions. I was irritated at the big time-suck that morning was turning into but I waiting. I stood in the room, watched the clock and thought of my bed and a nice, tall cup of The Precious. Just as I was about to send my kids outside and head for home, the doors opened and within a minute the room was full. Nearly 50 kids! I shared Isaiah 40:28-31 with the kids …

27 28 
Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

We spent a few minutes talking about how our strength is not compared to a hummingbird, who has to flap its wings constantly and quickly  to sustain flight, but to an eagle who has to relax and trust the wind to carry it, to help it to soar. When I was done talking I prayed for the kids and sent them off to their classes.

As I was leaving the school, glad that I had followed through with my commitment, I ran into one of my Buddies from Kids' Church. He was waiting outside the school for his grandma to pick him up because he wasn't feeling well. This little dude had lost his father a couple of months ago and although I had thought of him often and prayed for his family I hadn't had the opportunity to connect with him. I asked him if he wanted company while he waited and he said sure. We sat in the sunshine, talking of vacations, sports and favourite things to do in the summer. When his grandma arrived he said good-bye and hopped into the car.

I sat there for a few moments. Humbled and grateful. And sure that I received far more from my encounters of the morning than I had given. Despite my stubborn self-focused ways, God still manoeuvred the morning and gave me the opportunity to encounter Him in the conversations I had with  all of those buddies that morning. In the large group I was reminded that my strength is never enough but my willingness is a good starting point and in that one to one conversation I realized that God often uses the ordinary, everyday moments to remind us that He sees us and loves us.

Kindness doesn't cost anything more than time .. just be willing to give that much.

And I will, too!

If there is any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not deter or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again. 
~ William Penn

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Join the Vigil

Unless you live under a rock you've probably heard about the 274 Nigerian girls who were kidnapped from their school on April 14. Since the news broke internationally, social media has been flooded with calls to Bring Back Our Girls. While I support the sentiment, retweeting or reposting this hashtag has seemed trite to me in light of the enormity of this tragedy, so I haven't. I've not said one word publicly about this kidnapping until now. I didn't want to retweet something because it was trendy or make some kind of hollow call to action when I felt powerless so I've been silent. But I can't be silent anymore.

Today is Mother's Day. I've spent the day helping the children in our church celebrate their mothers and  relaxing while enjoying my own children. This has been a peaceful day that has filled my heart. I've feel content, blessed and blissful in my motherhood today … until I decided to get a little reading in.

I'm trying to read the Bible all the way through and I've fallen behind a bit so I thought this afternoon would be the perfect opportunity to catch up. I got seven verses in and was stopped cold. The next thing I knew I was grief-stricken, angry, heartbroken and dedicated to the action.

"And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them?' (Luke 18:7). When I read that verse I suddenly felt empowered to do something. I felt capable of taking meaningful action in support and defence of these missing girls. I could pray and I could call on mothers all around the world to join me.

As peaceful and lovely as this Mother's Day has been for me, there are hundreds of mothers in Nigeria (and thousand of mothers around the world) who don't know where their babies are. All they know is that their children are missing and in danger. All they know is that their world is off kilter and their hearts are full of grief. I can only imagine how alone they feel in this pain. But they don't have to be alone. I can stand with them. I can kneel with them. I can pray for their child as if they were my own. I can cry out to God and He will hear me.

You can cry out, too.

There are an estimated 27 million slaves in the world today. Mothers, daughters, sisters, brothers who have been trafficked and are living in bondage. This is not okay … but we can do something. We can take action.

Join me in a global prayer vigil. Set your alarms to 7pm local time. When the alarm goes off pray. Pray for the Nigerian girls and their mothers. Pray for the millions who live everyday in the bondage of slavery. Pray for those on the front lines, fighting for justice. Pray for our politicians and law makers, that they will be compelled into action. Pray.

I commit to pray everyday at 7pm until slavery is history. This isn't just about these 274 missing girls … it's about our missing generation. Cry out to God with me, pray today and everyday.

Tweet, retweet, update your statuses and share your prayers for the victims of human trafficking #jointhevigil #makeslaveryhistory #bringbackourgirls!

 "Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it. A man is powerful on his knees." 
~Corrie ten Boom

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Gatekeeper

… otherwise known as 'The Mom'. That's me. As a mom, and particularly a mom of kids on The Autism Spectrum, I'm often asked what advice or tips I might have for other parents of ASD kids. I'm reluctant to give advice because each family, each kid is so unique that I know the things that have worked for me might not necessarily work for others. The only really helpful 'advice' I can give boils down to two mindsets that I've adopted in recent years and they've served me well.

1. I have a kid, not a diagnosis.
Whenever a situation arises with one of our kids the first thing I remind myself is that I have a normal 12 year old or 14 year old kid who happens to have ASD. Not every challenge, conflict or outburst is because of Autism. Sometimes kids wig out, have disagreements with friends or think school bites. That's just the way it is. So, when my kid comes to me with an issue I don't automatically jump to Autism as the culprit. My kids are more than Autism therefore their life has to be about more than their diagnosis.

As we work through the challenge together, sometimes it becomes evident that the struggle stems from their ASD perspective and that's fine. We address it and move on. And sometimes it has nothing to do with ASD and that's fine. We address still just address the issue and move on. Either way, my kids need to learn how to function and thrive in a nuero-typical world. They need to learn how to manage conflict and problem solve. They need to learn to respect themselves for who they are and to not use Autism as an excuse.

As long as we're talking about excuses … we have a saying in This Random House; Autism is not an excuse for disobedience, disrespect or bad behaviour. It's just not. There is no reason why children, with or without, any type of diagnosis can't be taught to be respectful and polite. It's harder to do with some children than with others but all can be taught. I have seen non-verbal low functioning kids learn how to use manners and indicate their needs calmly because their caregivers have taught the child, not succumbed to the diagnosis.

2. I am the Gatekeeper to their world.

When Dude was little he was an absolute sponge, and to a certain extent he still is. He was constantly studying the world around him, desperate to make sense of it. It was kind of like living with that robot from Short Circuit, "I need more input!" He took in everything he saw, good or bad, and applied it to his own social situations.

At first it was cute but soon we began to realize how sarcasm, 'slams', quasi-swears, verbal jabs/burns, mockery, mimicking and disrespectful tones and facial expressions were turning our boy into a brat. Some of these things he was absorbing through school and neighbourhood contacts but most of it he was observing in our own home, on our own TV.

We'd always thought we were careful about the shows and movies we allowed our kids to watch. We kept things rated G and Disney-esque but when we started really paying attention to what they were taking in we realized how wide we'd left the gate open and how rampant the wolves were in our sheep pen.

Many of the shows our kids watched, though marketed to kids their age, had characters who were wee smart alecs with stupid parents. The themes of most of the shows revolved around dating, greed and bickering. And in between shows the kids were blasted with commercials that quickly convinced them that they needed more toys, more food, more clothes, more EVERYTHING!

We tried limiting their TV time and the shows they were allowed to watch but we had a hard time policing them as they adjusted to the new rules. We also spent far more time than we wanted in negotiations and discussions of the 'why' and 'how long' of these new rules. So eventually we just gave up. No more negations, no more bickering and no more cable.

We cancelled our cable package and disconnected the internet from their computer. We removed all movies from the family room with the exception of Veggie Tales, everything else they had to ask us for. We also disconnected the Wii. We did a full stop on all screens for a few weeks and then we gradually reintroduced appropriate movies and limited gaming time with limited game options.

We aren't religious nuts and we don't think the world is full of evil influences. We do, however, think that we are responsible for what and how our kids learn. This is a weighty responsibility that we can't just shrug off on Family Channel. We need to be intentional with the influences we let into their lives. Even with us being as intentional and careful as we are, we are still constantly fighting against cultural norms and teen attitudes.

And being a Gatekeeper isn't just about stopping things from coming in but it's about inviting the right things in, it's about creating opportunity for learning. We explore, google, read, research and plan our vacations around learning something new. And we talk. We talk a lot in this house.

Everyday we have conversations about who we want to be and what we want to do. We talk about the impact we have on those around us and whether or not we are on track to becoming the people we want to be. And, before you ask, yes it's exhausting and no, I don't always feel like talking, explaining, reasoning and teaching.

 But I am the Gatekeeper and it's my job.

Whether you have a nuero-typical kid or a kid with extra needs, two things are true for all of us; Our children are sacred gifts and we are their first and best teachers. And with that I'll remind you of the best piece of advice I've ever received. My very wise and lovely friend Becky once told me that I don't need to be an extraordinary mom to raise extraordinary kids. I just needed to be a good mom.

Be good to your kids. Be good to yourself.

“When you want to teach children to think, you begin by treating them seriously when they are little, giving them responsibilities, talking to them candidly, providing privacy and solitude for them, and making them readers and thinkers of significant thoughts from the beginning. That’s if you want to teach them to think.” 
― Bertrand Russell

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

It's a Girl Thing

I am about to write about something I know nothing about. Usually I try to stick to topics I at least know a little something about but this time, I'm in the dark - but at least I'm not alone on this one. Most people are in the dark when it comes to this topic, even 'the professionals' are just taking educated guesses, for the most part.

It's a girl thing. It's a girl and autism thing.

Dude was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome when he was 7 years old, in 2007. At that time I had no idea what Autism was, I just knew that it was something I didn't want my kid to have. I spent months reading every book on Autism that I could get my hands on. I spent hours in the local library, pouring over medical journals, psychology textbooks and every obscure reference to Asperger's Syndrome that I could find. Slowly I pieced together an understanding of what Dude's diagnosis meant and how we might be able to begin to reach him. During this time we were also referred to a paediatrician who specialized in treating children with neurological issues.

At our first appointment with Dr. C she asked about our other two children. She wanted to know if we had any concerns about either of them. I looked at three year old Mischief, who was literally tied into the stroller, lest he break free and climb the bookshelves to 'web' people (a la Spiderman) and five year old Crafty who was wearing butterfly wings and sunglasses that looked as though they came from Elton John's personal collection and said, 'No, I'm pretty sure these two are … er … normal."

Every year, at Dude's big check up with Dr. C, she would ask about Mischief and Crafty too and every year I would make some wisecrack about how nutty - but normal - they were and I would walk away from the appointment with a wee twinge that maybe our normal wasn't exactly normal.

You see, Crafty wasn't exactly like other girls her age. She had a wicked vocabulary and an interesting cadence of speech. Her memory was like a steel trap yet she seemed to move through the world slightly off beat to everyone else. She was a habitual sleep walker and talker and she had a peculiar fascination with collecting like objects - so much so that we began calling her Meg-pie because she was like a wee magpie. She also suffered from intense social and environmental anxiety. But that was normal, right?

When Crafty was eight we realized that things with her collections were getting out of hand and had turned the corner toward hoarding. Her anxiety attacks were also beginning to resemble Dude's Aspergian meltdowns. When we met with Dr. C that summer I finally set the jokes aside and told her about my concerns with Crafty. She immediately set us up with an appointment with a children's psychiatrist. After a twenty minute conversation with the psychiatrist, all of which Crafty spent with her head under my jacket, the good doctor proclaimed that Crafty had an anxiety disorder and we were dismissed.

I spent the next year taking Crafty to appointments at the anxiety clinic every week but we saw little improvement. At the end of the year her councillor admitted that although Crafty certainly had issues with anxiety, there was something else going on with her. I felt it, too. All of her quirks and behaviours didn't stack up right, they didn't add up to anxiety alone. I saw hints of blue in the mix. I saw undeniable traits of Autism.

The next year was spent going back and forth with the psychiatrist and Dr. C. The school wrote letters to the doctors and the doctors explained to me, again, that anxiety 'fits'. It was a frustrating and at times humiliating year for me. The psychiatrist was making me feel as though I was crazy and on an Autism witch hunt. Finally, Dr. C stepped in and assessed Crafty for Asperger's. The test indicated that Crafty was, indeed, on the Autism spectrum. The psychiatrist disagreed.

After some more back and forth and hoop jumping Dr. C and the psychiatrist settled on a PDD-NOS diagnosis. And I exhaled … but only for a moment. Although her diagnosis was very similar to Dude's, Crafty's behaviours, strengths, challenges and quirks were so different. I didn't even know where to begin. And three years later I'm still pretty much in the same spot. Maybe even a little worse off.

You see, as Dude has matured managing Asperger's has become easier. He understand what Asperger's means to him and he's working on bridging the gap between his world and the neuro-typical (NT) world. He can play to his strengths and he's learning to ask for help when he's facing a challenge. He is actively dissecting social interaction to better understand them and replicate the success he is beginning to experience with more regularity. And Crafty is moving in the opposite direction - or so it seems.

The older she gets the more glaring the differences between her and her NT pals become. Where two years ago she could just follow the crowd and be 'that quirky, shy girl' now her behaviour is considered odd, rude, strange and inappropriate for her age. Even people who know her and love her see her issues as a behaviour problem and not as Autism. They see Dude and understand his Autism because it's by the book, ordered and to the letter Asperger's. Crafty's Autism is different. It's chaotic, in constant motion with no sense of reason or pattern. Crafty's Autism is like a wave on the beach, you don't see it until it's thundering toward you and crashing against you and then just as you try to grab hold of it, it's gone again. But it will return and when it does, you are just as unprepared for the encounter as you were the last time.

Most days I feel like I'm slogging uphill, through knee-deep mud with her. I'm at a loss when it comes to helping her make sense of her world and helping the world make sense of her. I feel like I can't get in front of this thing, can't control it or explain it. I feel a world of judgement every time she acts out of the norm yet I can't even find the words to define her for myself never mind the words to explain her to the outside world.

I see her struggle to understand, her hurt when she doesn't belong and her confusion when she offends. I see her heartbreak when she is left out and her devastation at being called a 'retard', a 'freak' and a 'loser'. I see the anger at being toyed with by the other girls in her grade and the rage at her own perceived deficiencies. I see her fear. Her overwhelming fear of being alone, of being misunderstood, of being forever out of sync. And I feel my own fear, the very same fear.

But I also see her incredible, undeniable strength. I see her face each new day with courage and optimism. I see her creativity and I marvel at it. I see her whimsy, her humour and her compassion. I see her soft, gooey, loving heart and her deeply loyal soul. I see her mischievous eyes and her sassy smile. I see her, my beautiful, brave, glorious girl and I see hope.

I don't know what Crafty's autism is and I don't really know how to help her. I just know how to love her and how to accept her just as she is.

And, I think, that's the thing she needs the most right now.

Being a typical teenage isn't easy. When you have autism, it can be extra difficult. We need more public awareness about these hurdles as well as compassion towards young people.
~Holly Robinson Peete

PS - This is a brilliant article that outlines the issues girls on The Spectrum have with getting the appropriate support.

Here's also an excellent video featuring a group of girls who have autism talking about autism.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Independent Filmmaker

Today's post is a short one.

For the Pink Shirt Assembly this week Dude wrote, story boarded, directed and edited a video. I was there on the day of filming just to make sure he got all the shots he needed but that was all the adult involvement he wanted. It was his concept that he fleshed out with his best buddy over pizza and chips at our place one Friday night. He recruited the background actors and he scouted the location. He did it all and I was relegated to the status of a PA for the morning of the shoot.

From my vantage point, manning the clipboard and holding back traffic in the hallway between takes, I was blown away but the focus and leadership he displayed that morning. The shy and mumbling boy melted away and a decisive, collaborative director stepped forward. He was relaxed and kind with the cast yet wholly focussed on getting his message on film. He ticked off the checklist of shots need then declared the shoot wrapped. I followed him to the lab for editing but he stopped me at the door.

"I've got this, mom," he said as he gently yet firmly closed the door on me.

My feelings were a little hurt and I was more than a little worried about the finished product but when he showed it to me, and the guidance counsellor, a week later I got goosebumps and teared up a little. The message in the video was in itself enough to start the waterworks but knowing that my boy did this on his own, that he worked with a team and crafted a piece of art that spoke his heart, moved me.

Everyday since he was a wee boy caught in the tangles of Autism I have prayed that he would find his way to independence and see his own strength realized. This video is evidence of this prayer being answered. He's determined to reach his goals and to Stand Up and Speak Out against injustice along the way. He is determined to be a good person and he is committed to changing his world.

I'm so very, very proud of him! Take a moment to click on the link and watch.

The Note Video

If that doesn't work click here to view the video on our local radio station's blog. It's a write up on the assembly and Dude's video is about halfway down.

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”

~Desmond Tutu