Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Santa Saves Xmas


The Little Chrissy and the Alphabeats dolls were a huge hit. Once she received those, she really didn't even want to open the rest of her gifts; she had to be coaxed back downstairs. Later, she could be heard giggling all day, as she played with them.

This holiday was a stressful one, worrying about her request. No pressure at all, nope! Thank goodness they were what she hoped for, and that she is happy with them. Now that this crisis has passed, maybe I can catch my breath before the next one.

Truthfully, that big smile on her face was all I needed to make it worthwhile. I don't know what I would have done if she hadn't loved them -- break down and cry, probably. That is why I stressed out over them, because I knew how important they were to her. But in the end, I pulled it off, and Santa saved the day. Thanks, Kris. ;)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Autism and Violence

Lots of people are talking about violence and autism and you can almost feel it in the air that autistics are about to be tarred like pit bulls with the brush "Dangerous." (And, as with pit bulls, this is utter and unfounded nonsense.) Parents and mental health professionals are weighing in. The media is running with it. Adam Lanza. James Holmes. Jared Loughner.
“Psychobabble reported by the media undermines psychiatry as science,” the [American Psychiatric Association]’s former president, Herbert Sacks, wrote in the late 1990s in a column explaining the history of the [Goldwater] rule. (Covering "Crazy", Columbia Journalism Review)
It's unethical, unprofessional, illogical and just plain stupid to diagnose someone based on the reports of friends, family or neighbors. Being weird in school doesn't mean someone is autistic. Being super-smart but socially awkward is not a diagnosis. Even if Adam Lanza's brother is correct when he says that his brother was autistic, it's still not a diagnosis. He said himself he hadn't spoken to his brother in years. Does he know or is he speculating? And is it appropriate to spew that information to the media?

My daughter isn't an Aspie. She's probably not in much danger of being labeled a killer. Probably. But you can bet your ass I'll be hesitant to share with people (face to face) that she's autistic, something I've never hesitated about before.

When moms like this one write about their kids as being violent, it's not helpful. If your child is violent and autistic, people hear "autistic" and assume violence going forward, when that is simply not the case. People who are in despair over their child's behavioral issues only make things worse for people whose children do not have behavioral problems. Don't lump my kid in with yours, sister. Get help. Help for you, help for your son, but don't try to make it sound like autistics are violent people.

I'm not going to rehash all the news. Here's some links worth reading:
Link between autism and planned violence discounted by experts 
Groups: Autism not to blame for violence
Don’t Blame Autism For Violence, Advocates Say
Asperger's, Autism Not Linked to Violence: Experts
Unfortunately, the more far-fetched an idea, the more appealing it often is to the media, and while it’s natural to ask questions about a gunman’s mental health in the wake of a shooting spree, some outlets inevitably reach too far.  (Lanza, autism and violence, Columbia Journalism Review)
Sensationalism has always been used to sell copy, but this irresponsible behavior is going to hurt an entire community of people who are already struggling to get recognition that they are capable people who deserve respect and basic civil rights. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tis the Season

A couple months ago, Diana started a Christmas list. The first draft she wouldn't allow anyone to see; I had to wait til she went to school before I could read it (she left it on her desk, unconcealed, I didn't go looking for it). On that list was Little Chrissy and the Alphabeats.

A few weeks ago, we finally unpacked her Sesame Street Beans and got them up to her room. She's not been playing with them, apparently she just wanted to know they were there. She started invoking Santa Claus, something she has never done, because she wants Little Chrissy so much. Trying to explain to her that those dolls were never made had no effect. Possibly the myth of Santa finally made it into her consciousness. I don't know, and there's really no way to ask to get a coherent answer. Call it faith, stubbornness, or simply confidence, she is convinced that Little Chrissy and his backup singers will be under the tree Christmas morning.

Having had the experience of her not getting what she really, truly wanted, we were really not prepared to live through it again. I joked to my husband that all those felt foods I have been making for her have been practice leading up to making these dolls.

Initially, I thought I would make them from felt. Talking to my mom, who's sewn longer than I've been alive, she convinced me that felt wasn't the best choice and suggested flannel. We were even able to find all the right colors, right down to the blue/white stripes for one of the backup singer's shirt. For the hair, I found a company that will sell swatches of fake fur as "samples" but really, they're exactly what I needed. I sat down with Grover and sketched pattern pieces, and Mom cut them out for me when we went to D's IEP meeting.

After some tweaking, they are coming together quite nicely, and I'm pleased with the way they're looking. Then another shoe got tossed into my machine: the teachers in our district went on strike, and so there's no school. I've been working on the dolls when she's gone. Saturday, she had her daddy/daughter Christmas shopping day that they do every year, and I sewed for hours. Monday, I worked on them, and that night the call came that they were striking. I was able to get in some sewing in the morning before anyone was up, and will do more tonight when she goes to bed. I'm in pretty good shape, I think, since Christmas is still three weeks away. If I have to be sewing at midnight Christmas Eve, so be it. But she will have those dolls.

The biggest fly in my ointment right now isn't the teacher's strike, it's knowing that she added more dolls to her list, dolls I won't have time to make. Another 8 Muppets: The Cobblestones (featuring Mick Swagger; 4 dolls) and Dr. Thad and the Medications (4 dolls). To put it into perspective, one shoe took me 30 minutes to sew -- that's 8 hours of work just for the shoes! They're too small and too fiddly to do on the machine, so I have to sew them by hand, and I can't hand sew for 8 hours at a stretch (too painful). She will be disappointed, and I hope that disappointment doesn't overshadow any pleasure she has at receiving Little Chrissy and the Alphabeats.

Parents sacrifice for their kids. We go above and beyond at Christmas, making things happen, performing minor miracles, so our kids can have that joy under the tree. The wonder of the season may be tarnished with cynicism and disgust over the crass commercialization of the holiday (we seem to have skipped Thanksgiving, going straight from Hallowe'en to Black Friday this year), but our kids will know wonder and joy. More specifically, my child will know wonder and joy this holiday, or I'll die trying to give it to her.


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UPDATE! I may have lost the pattern pieces, but I have a photo of them to give you an idea. Here's the long-delayed promised post about how I made the dolls: Sesame Street Beans Hack. I hope that's a decent start for those of you who are interested.