INT. Master Bedroom. Morning. VERY. EARLY. MORNING.

Despite evidence to the contrary, this is not the aftermath of a natural disaster. It is – or once was – a tastefully decorated master bedroom. Now we can barely make out the outline of a bed beneath the mounds of dirty laundry, bath toys, baby bottles (yes, we allowed Willow a bottle again this week), half-filled sippy cups, wadded up tissues and half-empty bottles of children's Tylenol and Ibuprofen.

Four limp figures sprawl on the king-sized bed: two adults (sort of) and two children. One by one, they cough.

BILLY: Daddy has a cough.

(Billy coughs)

BILLY (cont.): Billy has a cough.

ME: Say, “I have a cough.”

BILLY: Mama has a cough.

ME: No, you have a cough.

(I cough.)

ME: And yes, I have a cough too.

(I take his hand and pat his own chest with it.)

ME:I have a cough ...” (I use his hand to point at Dave.) He has a cough. (Point at me.) You have a cough. (point at Willow) She has a cough.”

DAVE: I just love these little family learning moments.


ME as I narrow my eyes at him suspiciously and swig directly from my personal bottle of Tylenol cold medicine.

WILLOW: (clinks the medicine bottle with her bottle) Cheers!

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Both my kids have stomach flu again ... which reminded me of the last time this perfect storm of illness hit our family. Because everything in this post pretty much still applies, because my kids have probably passed this on to any number of other unwary children in their classes, and because I'm just this lazy, I'm going to repost my thoughts on ...

Sickness and Autism

Originally posted: 02/19/2010 10:55 am

I'm starting to think our family is being targeted by some insidious form of biological warfare. Their weapon of choice: stomach flu. Brilliant when you think about it: no one suspects foul play and you slowly sap your targets of their will to dress themselves.

I'm not sure what the goal is of this particular terrorist cell, considering we have most of our assets tied up in our extensive collection of Thomas the Train engines. [update: We have diversified into solar system toys and iPad apps.] And we don't have time for any political activism. Heck, we don't even have time for physical activism.

But we're sick again. And when Billy is sick, it's like living with a dozen sick children. Everything is so much worse, so much more terrifying for him. For a child sensitive to the slightest changes in his sensory input -- vestibular (balance/gravity) and olfactory (smells) being some of our particular bugbears -- having a stuffed up head and upset stomach is his idea of living hell.

Actually, I should say that it's one step removed from his living hell: True Hades would be sickness and a visit to the doctor. He has an absolute terror of the pediatrician's office, or any office that looks like it might be harboring a pediatrician somewhere. He had a complete meltdown the first time we visited daycare, because they had a window at the front much like the doctor's office.

We don't go to the doctor unless absolutely necessary. He does get vaccinated -- we have that to look forward to again on his fourth birthday. [Note: we survived that visit amazingly well in the end.] And he's had stitches and antibiotics at various times in his life. But finding a doctor with the patience and bedside manner to deal with what some people see as histrionics is rare. Our hometown doctor, Dr. Greg Sloan, was always amazingly patient with Billy, even though pediatrics and certainly autism were not his specialties.

We've adopted a certain routine when it comes to the doctor, which doesn't eliminate the problem, but does seem to minimize it to a degree:

1. We make sure the doctor's office is well informed about Billy's autism and how autism manifests itself in Billy. Every autistic child is different, so they should know ahead of time that he's strong, likely to be very scared, and may scream. We also warn them not to touch his head unless absolutely necessary.

2. We start talking to Billy about visiting the "Nice doctor" early in the day. We get out his toy medical kit, give his bear "Tah-Tah" a quick check-up, read a few books about visiting the doctor, and let him give us a checkup, checking our heart with the stethoscope, checking our temperature, etc. Then we let him take his doctor kit to the pediatrician.

3. Whenever possible, get the last available appointment of the day. If he does get upset, then we don't have to worry about upsetting quite so many children in the lobby. Also, it means that it we have to wait, the lobby isn't crowded with other new people, which can upset him when he's sick.

4. Weather permitting, one of us strolls him around outside, while the other waits indoors to hear his name called.

5. We insist on the thermometer that can be gently run across his forehead. He still doesn't like it, but it beats the pants off the one they have to stick in his ear.

6. If the doctor is wearing a white coat, ask them to please remove it before coming in the room. And we give them the warning about touching his head again.

7. Whenever possible, we touch Billy for the doctor, such as holding the stethoscope against his chest, using the thermometer, etc. We obviously can't vaccinate him, but the less he gets touched by a stranger, the better.

8. Hold on tight and keep telling him we love him.

With any luck, we won't have to go to the doctor with this round of flu. But I've been reading "The Berenstain Bears Visit the Doctor" just to be on the safe side.

Reader Comments

I hope everyone is feeling well soon!

I hope the kids are feeling better soon, and that no visit to the doctor is necessary...


Awwww...Hope everyone is feeling better soon. Sending virtual popsicles for the kids and vodka for mommy. =)

Total 3 comments


This isn't actually a move from the Young Athlete's program. This is just something he was doing to entertain himself between events.

On Friday, Billy participated in a demonstration, with his classmates, of what he's been working on in the Young Athletes program at school.

Because qualifying kids can't join the Special Olympics until the age of seven, Young Athletes was started by the organization to teach sports skills to younger kids. Billy's school is the only one in our county where the program exists (it requires quite a commitment from the already-time-strapped staff), and we were delighted when it was announced earlier this year.

The best thing about the Young Athletes program is that it's inclusive of all kids. Neurotypical kids are Young Athletes too; in many ways, such as turn-taking, they might act as role models and mentors. In many skills, though, they're learning right alongside their pals with special needs. This wonderful program proves that an inclusion sports program, particularly for younger kids, is not only possible but a huge asset to the school and the kids involved.

Together, these hard-working athletes practice the basics of any sport: turn-taking, following multi-part instructions, working together on a team. They also develop specific skills like hitting and kicking balls, running and jumping on command, completing an obstacle course, etc.

Ms. Laurie, Billy's Young Athletes coach, told us that “At the start of the program, none of the kids could hit a ball off the tee,” but as they demonstrated on Friday, now they all can!

By the time they're seven, some of the kids in the program will have outgrown their developmentally disabled label; some will choose to move on to the Special Olympics. But all the kids will carry with them the important lessons they've learned about teamwork and the joy of sharing the athletic field with friends of all different developmental abilities.

It was inspiring to watch these kids. I felt a surge of pride as each one of them completed the obstacle course and such gratitude to the wonderful teachers and aides who made it possible. I strongly encourage you to ask about the Young Athletes program if you have a child under 7, and to volunteer with the Special Olympics, if possible, in your area.

To find out more about the Special Olympics and the Young Athletes program, CLICK HERE.


The Young Athletes and mentors march in, carrying their toilet-paper-roll torches with solemn ceremony.


Billy learns to catch a ball dropped from above, thanks to Coach Laurie!

Reader Comments

What a great experience for all involved! Sounds like a lot of fun!! Maybe it will encourage some of the other schools to participate. That would be great! =)

What a Wonderful Program!

That's something that should be at every school!

Well, Audrey just turned 7 so I guess it would have to be on to the big leagues for her! If she had any athleticism at all that is. Sounds like a wonderful program...I'd never heard of it before.

I was also SO impressed with the older kids who volunteered to help during the presentation. They enthusiastically cheered on the Young Athletes and high 5'ed each kid once he/she completed a task. The whole experience inspired me, and of course, I was SOOOO proud of my precious nephew, Billy.

I was also SO impressed with the older kids who volunteered to help during the presentation. They enthusiastically cheered on the Young Athletes and high 5'ed each kid once he/she completed a task. The whole experience inspired me, and of course, I was SOOOO proud of my precious nephew, Billy.

Total 5 comments


Willow dressed for the Mommy and Me Tea

Thanks to the clever musings of my super-talented Southern MOMentum writer-friend, Stephanie Armstrong, I can take the rest of the weekend off. She's given me a great post that I'm sure you'll enjoy; consider it my Mother's Day gift to you, if you're a mom, and some very good advice if you are married to a mom.

I am sort of working today: I'm guest-blogging over at, a wonderful blog dedicated to special needs ministry in churches, so if you'd like to read about my experience with "angels," give that one a look.

In the meantime, please forward the following to everyone in your family, but particularly your kids' father ...

10 Things To Avoid On Mother's Day

by Stephanie Armstrong of Southern MOMentum


This is what Willow did when the teacher asked the group, "Who has the best mommy!" FYI, that *is* me she's running to.

If there is one thing I have learned about being a mom, it’s not about what you receive on this, *ahem* … magical day. It’s about what to avoid. I thought I would rival our very own The Life of Dad daddy blogger with a follow up from his Things to Avoid on Fathers Day. Let’s just call it a subtle wish list of our own …

Number 1: The term “Go ask your mom.” We’ve got it covered the other 364 days. Today is all you.

Number 2: Any mentions of Halle Berry’s figure or Jessica Biel’s abs. You may have forgotten. I am not your college roommate.

Number 3: Conversations starting with “So what did you do all day…?” You may not live to see Father’s Day.

Number 4: Anything on TV that involves World War II or the letters E.S.P.N.

Number 5: Bodily fluids of any kind. This includes the daily deposit from the cat.

Number 6: Attempts of escaping (alone) to Home Depot or the golf course. Not happenin’.

Number 7: Having to wear anything made from silk or scratchy lace. Newsflash: We like cotton.

Number 8: Any contact with wadded-up, inside-out socks or the mountain they lie in.

Number 9: High fives or any conversation involving the Panther’s #1 draft pick. (see rule #4)

Number 10: Any mention of NOT spending money. You want to put a permanent smile on our faces? Hand over the Visa.


Reader Comments

Willow is so adorable! So is the deal that Billy is your doppelganger and Willow is her dad's?


Hey Amanda, Thanks for the repost, my friend! I hope you have a WONDERFUL Mother's Day ... minus the lingerie and ESPN of course! ox

Happy Mothers Day

Have a great day!!

Total 3 comments

“What do elevators, beloved character actor Wilford Brimley, mall maps, flashing yellow traffic lights, the Weather Channel and Allstate commercials have in common?” Griffin's Big Daddy asks. Then he goes on to answer this intriguing question in the pages of his hilarious new memoir, Big Daddy's Tales, From the Lighter Side of Raising a Kid with Autism.


Buy this book! Billy's in it!

F. Lewis Stark (a pen name) is well-known to those of us in the autism community as the popular blogger at where he talks about his funny and fascinating life as parent to an autistic son. He also co-hosts the (Weekly? Monthly? How often does this show come on?) radio show "AutismWTF" with fellow autism parent/blogger Lynn Hydoba of

Big Daddy's Tales include many memorable, gut-bustingly hilarious anecdotes about the world viewed through the eyes of his adored and adorable son. He also includes many of his Griffin cartoons – which really should get him his own show on the Cartoon Network or Comedy Central (I defy anyone to read “The Farting Continues” without laughing so hard they fall out of their chair).

But this is not a book that puts a shiny fake smiley face on autism. It's not a politically correct book. It is an honest book from a parent who openly shares the fact that his son's autism diagnosis felt, at first, like being smashed in the face by a frying pan. Big Daddy's Tales, though, are proof that you can get smashed in the face by a frying pan and still not forget how to laugh.

Nestled within the anecdotes of the Big Daddy clan are also stories from other parents of kids on the spectrum. Lynn writes an introduction to the book as well as a chapter; other chapters feature stories from bloggers from,, LifeWithASeverelyDisabledChild, LittleBitQuirky, AnybodyWantAPeanut?, LifeInTheHouseThatAspergerBuilt, ChipandBobo, YeahGoodTimes, LivingWithLogan, StuartDuncan, and yep, yours truly. Big Daddy included my Billy musings in the chapter titled, “You're on the Spectrum, Charlie Brown!”

If Life is a Spectrum, this book is the most honest, colorful, funny and touching picture of that wide spectrum I've read – and I have read a LOT of books about autism. A. LOT.

Big Daddy says it best in his epilogue: “If you allow it to be, the world can seem full of sorrows and negativity. We chose to live in joy.”

Order a copy of Big Daddy's Tales by clicking on the button at the right, which will take you to the author's store.

Reader Comments

Buy this book!

I love your contribution to the book Amanda! It is definitely the second best thing in it. Well, maybe third. Definitely top 5.

I Can't Wait to Read This Book!

I'm so excited about it! I know my copy is on its way! Great review, Amanda!

Ordered Mine!

I ordered mine and can't way til May 17 when it should arrive! I love this blog and Big Daddy's, too! :)

Best Post Ever

This post touched me on so many levels!!!

Total 4 comments

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