By now, you know all about my Spring Chickens Tribe in the blogging network SITS, where our group of moms of special needs kids connects to talk about everything from how to create a button for a blog to how to survive their child's IEP meeting. If you're a mom with a child with any kind of special needs, and you blog, I'd love to invite you to join us. Just go sign up with The SITS Girls (free, of course) and join our tribe in the Spring Chickens Forum.

Today, I'm delighted to introduce you to Melody from My Twisted Stitches. In addition to raising three kids, two of whom struggle with behavioral/emotional disorders, Melody's job is made that much more challenging by her own ADD. Still managing to keep her sense of humor and share her journey with an open, honest heart, Melody is a true inspiration. So stop by My Twisted Stitches, follow Melody or subscribe to her fascinating blog by email. And tell her I said, "Hi!"



When you have a child with behavioral issues attached to a mood disorder, the entire family is impacted. Sometimes it’s like experiencing the aftershocks from an earth quake where you live with the trepidation that at any moment the slightest shaking could become cataclysmic. Other days you are aware that every moment is a bombardment of agitated aggression, irritation, and frustration let loose in the form of verbal assaults, whining, and general chaos created in your living space. It is an exhaustive time for all, where your adrenaline is constantly flowing and nerves are left twitching. The child initiating the mayhem can spend hours in and out of time-out, or wrestling with consequences, but in the end he/she has succeeded in monopolizing everyone’s time and attention. This is our life.

The behavioral issues reared their ugly head at a tender age, and there was a strong early independence and tenacity that I was actually VERY proud of. These are characteristics I prayed for in my children, but in a “baby” they can certainly be a challenge. I found my first born to be extremely determined, seemingly fearless, and intensely curious. Language acquisition was easy for her; consequently, when with her peers she would be busy “teaching” in her bossy way as she thrived on telling others what and how to do things. Unfortunately, her reactions to their apparent lack of responsiveness toward her were fiercely intense and redirecting her was nearly impossible. She would persist (and still does) in holding onto an idea in order to get her way.

Over time she became extremely manipulative and overbearing. Consequences didn’t seem to make an impact and she rarely showed sadness or remorse for her behavior, rather she would demonstrate intense anger at her consequences or at the person implementing them. In addition, she would often find a way to retaliate later either toward the person who disciplined her or the person she was originally angry with. To make matters worse, small conflicts or differences of opinion could turn into huge issues in which irrational rage would erupt. It was often difficult for her to control her actions. On numerous occasions she would have to be physically contained to prevent damage to others or property. We used to say that she was “freakishly strong.”

Our second child joined the family when our first was 18 months and she was (understandably) very jealous. I became the “mama bear” to protect my newborn from his older sibling and struggled to balance caring for them both. Maybe I established the pattern of victim and aggressor right then, but if so why can’t we break out of that? I do have to say that there are many days when my children have their moments of playing well together and cooperating; it always seems tense and tenuous though. I know they both want to love each other, but there is such intensity of whatever emotion at the moment that they let loose on each other. I know it has been said, that we hurt the ones we love the most, but wow!

Now, there is a third dynamic at play. Along with the birth of our third child came increased jealousy, decreased "Mommy" time, and an increased need for shared space and stuff (which seems to be inherently difficult anyway). Intense behaviors, along with extremely poor emotional regulation began to spiral downward from there. I have sought help every step of the way and I hope we are climbing back up the ladder to stability and emotional security. Each of us have required support to move forward. As a Mom with attention deficit disorder, anxiety, and depression - although being treated myself - I find the struggle to help my children is like running a marathon, DAILY!

I have come to believe that when there is an individual in the household who is as unpredictable and volatile as what we experience on a regular basis, there is NOT a normal family dynamic (albeit there may be no true “normal”). Moreover, when it is the eldest child, the siblings develop in a way that is also uncommon as they require heightened natural defenses just to “survive”, let-alone thrive. The family structure is strained and if the marriage isn’t already a rock, the pressure can crumble its fragile existence.

So what are parents to do? We have to parent the children we have. Can we prevent one child from affecting the entire family?

Melody is a certified teacher, now a stay-at-home mom of three beautifully challenging children; the two oldest (8yrs. and 10yrs. old) have been diagnosed with childhood bipolar disorder while the 3yr. old is learning and growing by leaps and bounds. She blogs at My Twisted Stitches and she is a Parent Blogger for Empowering Parents. Her days are filled with activity that require a tremendous measure of energy, stamina, and courage!

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Back from the Brink

I'm FINALLY totally over this flu ... I think (knocking heavily on wood) and I wanna thank everyone for the kind wishes I got through email, Facebook, Twitter. With any luck, I'll be back in the blogosphere by the end of the day.

I want to especially thank Melody for providing her wonderful guest post for Friday ... it couldn't have come at a better time, as I was feverishly rambling and incapable of forming a coherent thought, much less typing :-)

Thanks for sharing!


Wow, what a story! Thanks for sharing it.

Anyway :*P

Amanda, I can't believe it has taken me this long to actually, successfully submit a commmmmmmment here :)! I have tried twice and the server crashed, so now it is 7 ish and the kids are set up with "Milo and Ottis" so I'll try again.

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you so very much for hosting my post and supporting my efforts as both a Mom and a blogger. I think you are truly amazing and I'm constantly in awe. I love to read your work and admire your strength. It was an honor to be featured here on "Life Is A Spectrum". I find that my bipolar kiddos have a surprisingly large measure of common features with the Asperger Spectrum; in addition, I heard for the first time this week, the term "spectrum" used to describe the range of Bipolar Symptoms. If you are interested I happened to put a video clip up this week on my blog where this is mentioned. It is the "True Child Within" Youtube clip.

Thank you again for hosting me! I feel a kinship that I can't describe.


Ummmm... That comment was suppose to be for your anniversary post!

I am so sorry about that irrelevant comment a moment ago. I thought it was going under yesterday's for your anniversary. It was my second attempt as the server crashed mid typing and popped back up "here", but I thought it just kicked off my comment....
Weird! Please Delete These!


Tears, sobbing, shaking.....
I am truely shuddering like a child who has calmed after crying for an hour.
I am filled with joy for you and your family.
Congratulations and Blessings!!!!!

Total 5 comments


It's my SITS DAY!! And it's a good thing, because my Halloween candy sugar rush was just starting crash, and I desperately needed a pick-me-up.

Welcome to Life Is A Spectrum, my SITStahs. For those of you outside the SITStah-hood, Secret Is in The Sauce is a network of over 7,000 bloggers who support one another by reading and commenting on one another's blogs and exchanging ideas about how to most effectively "over-share" online.

I'm Amanda Broadfoot. Life is a Spectrum is my blog and my philosophy, and I'm the mom of two, both of whom love to wear hats:


Billy is four years old, autistic, and an aspiring witch-astronaut. Willow is 19 months old, neurotypical, and an active WW II re-enactor. OK, not really, but the child has never met a hat she didn't love.

Their dad, Dave, is English, and therefore, often make comments that are completely incomprehensible, involving thing like "loos" and "lorries" that sound really cute, even once you find out he's talking about the bathroom and the garbage truck.

I hope you get a chance to read Billy's story, particularly if you have any concerns about or interest in autism. But believe it or not, there's so much more going on along our spectrum than autism, so I also hope you get to know us better through these stories:


Don't ask me for directions. I'm just visiting Normal-Town (If for no other reason than to check out Willow's righteous dance moves.)

No means "NOOOOOOOO" and "I will bite you." For a breakdown of the six stages of Mom tantrums.

School's out for summer! And I'll teach you how to contractually obligate your child to behave during holidays. Warning: may cost you your house and car but it's totally worth it.

Also, check back in with us on Wordless Wednesday, when I generously sponsor a prize-free caption contest like THIS ONE.

And now for a few more words about SITStahood ...

SITS sponsors blogging challenges, Bloggy Boot Camps, and helps bloggers find their "tribe" online. My tribe of other special needs moms, The Spring Chickens, has been a lifeline to me during some bumpy times over the last couple of months. When I disappeared down the "hate hole" because my insurance company wouldn't cover my son's autism therapy, Lynn from, Cheryl from Little Bit Quirky , and Ginny Marie from Lemon Drop Pie are just a few of the great writers in our tight-knit group who kept me laughing, thinking, and inspired.

Thank you, SITS. Thank you, Spring Chickens. Life is a spectrum, and you bring so much color to mine.

Reader Comments

Stopping by to say Congratulations on your special SITS Day! Thank you for sharing your terrific blog with us. I've been away for a while (3 weeks) and finally playing catch up...
Have a great week ahead!


I'm way late, but I hope you enjoyed your day in the SITS spotlight.

Congrats on YOUR day!!

Sorry, I didn't get here on THE day but life happens. Anyway, by posting late I'm just extending the joy one (or a couple) more days, right!! Works for birthdays, it aught to work for being SITSter of the day, too.

I have loved reading through some of your posts. Your children are precious.

I have a nephew with Ausbergers syndrome (a form of autism) so know some of the things you're dealing with but know from someone on the other end that you DO get through it, you do live to tell the tale, though you'll wonder while you're in the middle if you can do that you CAN do it. Keep up the good work and keep writing about it. I think that helps with almost any battle.

Sorry this is late but Happy SITS Day!! Your blog is great and I enjoyed reading your stories. Willow is a beautiful name - I love it. Hope your day was great and enjoy your week!

Happy SITS Day

Happy Belated SITS day.

Your daughter may like the movie Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium. The boy collected hats.


Happy SITS Day SITStah

Happy sits day - oops - left my comment on the wrong post! That's what I get for typing on my iPhone in bed without my glasses on!

Thanks for what you share about life on the spectrum .... It has encouraged me more than you will know ;)

Cute kids and adorable family! Happy SITS Day!

Total 94 comments

Today is supposedly Communication Shutdown Day. Thanks to The SITS Girls for letting me share my feelings on that autism awareness campaign -- and some cute pictures of my kids in Halloween costumes -- with my friends in the blogosphere. How do you feel about it?

Reader Comments

You are too much. Hilarious and such a good point. I love it when people think for themselves!
Can you tell I'm just now catching up with all your posts?!

Congrats on your SITS day! I look forward to reading some of your post because even though I have a neurotypical child, I am fairly sure I can relate to your mommy tantrums and your other mothering trials & tribulations. Again, congrats! :)

Twitter Follow

Oh my. I just realized that I'm not following you on Twitter already, so I'm off to follow you there too! :>

Great Autism Shout Out

Loved your vlog, Amanda! I didn't participate in the Communication Shutdown (aka Global Pout) either! I participated in the Autism Shout Out for ASDay on Twitter all day and connected with some fabulous people speaking for themselves with autism, as well as many rockin' Mamas who squeak loudly for their kidlets! Wasn't it just dripping with irony that it was the day before the election? I know it originated in Australia where the 2nd wouldn't be their election day, but the irony was just too much to bare. And I almost spit my java at the monitor when I saw your Angle autism air quotes! Great vlog and great to see you! :>

I Have Spent Over $5000....

out of pocket in the last 18 months on speech/language therapy and I am not about to ask E. to be quiet now. Can you imagine?? What silliness is this???

Where would we be right now as a civilization without Thomas Paine, Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, Jeanette Rankin, Bella Abzug, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mohandas Ghandi, Harvey Milk, Harvey Fierstein, people with big ideas, big dreams and GIANT voices?

I am happy to have an opportunity each and every day to say that "this" (our family) is the face of ASD. To do so otherwise is to allow others to define who we are and what we need from our communities and elected representatives. Now, go vote!!

Great mom

You are a great mom for your kids. I am sure your son is as lucky having you as a mom as you having him as your son.

I'm visiting from SITS. Congrats on your special day!

I teach an autistic teen (age 17) in his home 3 days a week. (I'm not a specialist, just a teacher.) He is talkative and peppers me with questions during each lesson. He has a great sense of humor and is a talented artist.

I usually work with him in the language area--writing, reading comprehension, literature, foreign language. Through our study of literature, he's gained an appreciation for relationships and how people interact. So even though he's focused on Thomas the Train, he now writes elaborate stories about Thomas and Rosie and their budding relationship! When he reads his stories to me, he changes his voice to play all the parts. (He blushes when Thomas tells Rosie, "I love you.")

And this from a boy who used to sit growling under a desk in kindergarten. He's a truly amazing individual! I'm blessed to know him!

Happy SITS day!

I completely missed communication shutdown day and all the hype, I'm sad to say... although despite everything, I made sure that I posted on my blog... but coming home from the hospital with the latest edition to the fam made me post less than I had planned... I have to say that I totally agree with you though - even when my son was almost completely non-verbal he found creative ways to communicate his needs and wants - and effectively too... when he wants to be clear, he still drags the gallon milk jug and a cup out of the kitchen and into whatever room I'm in if I haven't responded in enough time to his request for moo...

Glad SITS introduced me to your blog, looking forward to getting to know more about you and your family!

Total 18 comments

I've established the fact that I can't cook. And that when I do cook, I frequently take short cuts. So when I saw the pre-cut Nestle Toll House orange jack o' lantern cookies, I thought, “Score!” Just pop 'em out, lay them on a cookie sheet, stick 'em in the oven, cook for 10 minutes. Done.


Pumpkin Pals! So happy to be eaten!

I had volunteered to provide two dozen cookies to Willow's Fall Festival party, and I thought the little orange sugar cookies would be the perfect complement to an 18-month-old's celebration of Halloween. I imagined myself impressing all the other parents by being that mom who freshly bakes cookies for the school party. (Maybe they wouldn't have noticed the 6-foot-high Nestle display in the Publix refrigerated section.)

My mistake came when I looked at the package and saw the jolly picture on the package of the jack o' lanterns with colored eyes and mouths. According to the package, you can use decorator gels to fill in the cut-outs and then your cookies will emerge from the oven practically laughing with Halloween happiness.

Well, I don't know what decorator gels are. I did, however, have some food coloring left over from Easter. How different could it be? It says it's for coloring food.


I'll eat YOU, little girl!

I got out the food coloring and some of the kids paint brushes and started painting away. I painted some with green eyes and smiles for the boys and some for pink eyes and mouths for the girls. I missed the part on the instructions where it said, “Do not over-fill.”

10 minutes later, my cookies emerged from the oven looking like something from the horror movie Pumpkinhead. The pink-eyed jack o'lanterns appeared to be bleeding from the eyes and mouth, and the black-mouthed (because the dark green came out black) boys' cookies looked like a warning against tooth decay. Some of them looked like they had grown mold.

Billy pointed at one girl cookie and summed it up: “That pumpkin has a hurchy eye.” Indeed.

So “hurchy,” in fact, that when presented with one of these horror cookies at the Fall Festival, an 18-month-old girl started to cry.

From now on, I'm going to be that mom that impresses everyone with how efficiently she orders from the bakery.

Thanks to The SITS Girls for sponsoring our 3-day “Boo!” blog challenge, just one of the fun reasons that I love being a member of this active blogging community.

Reader Comments

Hey Gurl-fren!

Well, how happy am I to find you on the interwebz? I, too, am the parent of a child with autism and a neurotypical child. I write about them in my other blog "The Adventures of Auti and Tippy". I love that you say there is so much more going on in your world than true!!! Can't wait to read more.

Welcome to my world :)

Sooooo glad to discover your blog, i love your take on life - especially about life on the spectrum - a topic close to my heart since about a year ago.

Spring Chickens are the best. Congrats on your SITS day!

Tears of laughter!

You have got me crying with laughter! You are so funny! Your mom & dad are sitting in the lving room with me howling with laughter too. I just love how you tell on yourself. Love ya Big Sis!

That made me laugh so hard. I love your ingenuity though! That comment "If you baking skills make babies cry, you're doing something right." is hysterical.

Oh em geee...this post had me laughing so hard...not at you, but WITH you!! I recently attempted to make cupcakes for my son's birthday to share with his friends at school. Nothing fancy, just Duncan Hines with icing from a big deal, right?! Apparently it WAS! NONE of them turned out well! I ended up making a detour by Kroger on the way to his party! :)

HA! I love the "hurchy" eyes! I probably would have made the same mistake or heck I would have not colored them at all because I wouldn't realize that I needed the extra stuff until too late. Ooops :)

Got an email about decorator gel...

Turns out, this is a kind of food coloring in gel form that helps prevent "hurchy eyes" on cookies by staying where it's supposed to be and not seeping out in creepy ways all over your baked jack o'lanterns. Now I know!

Total 13 comments


Please check out and let Lynn know I sent you!

I'm a Spring Chicken. That may surprise those of you who know that I'm teetering on the brink of 40, but that's the name assigned to our online tribe of moms of special needs kids by The SITS Girls. SITS (Secret is In The Sauce) is a network of over 7,000 bloggers who support and inspire one another. If you're in the blogging game, I can't recommend it highly enough.

Today, we're featuring guest bloggers, and I hope you'll stop by Ginny Marie's wonderful blog, Lemon Drop Pie, where I'm guest writing about "Filling in the Blanks."

I'm really excited to introduce you to my guest blogger today, because when it comes to supporting, inspiring -- and making me laugh so hard I snort coffee through my nose -- Lynn Hudoba is my go-to girl. Lynn, the mom of a beautiful six-year-old autistic daughter, Audrey, blogs at Autism Army Mom, and if you want to really laugh, read Robots as Autism Therapists? What Could Possibly Go Wrong? or I Love the Piano.

Her outlook on life, particularly her joyful approach to mothering a daughter with special needs, makes me happy to join her Autism Army and salute her as captain. Take it away, Lynn ...


Married ... with Children?

Guest blogger: Lynn Hudoba of


Billy could totally pull this look off: He would love that shiny black tuxedo jacket.

Amanda and I have joked in the past that her Billy and my Audrey have so in common that we may be in-laws someday. So when I saw an article about the HBO documentary Monica and David, I had to forward her the link. Monica and David Martinez are a couple that have been married for 5 years, and who also both happen to have Down syndrome.

I can't help but wonder what will happen to this generation of autistic children when they come of age together. The one constant amongst even the highest functioning of them are poor social skills. I had difficulties enough during adolescence and I was typically developing. Will they date? Get married? Have children?

OK, the last one scares the shit out of me. I know that the genetics of autism are still being researched, but I for one believe that there is at least a component that is genetic. But what does that mean? If a person with autism has a child with a neurotypical, it is theoretically possible that their child could be typical. But if two people with autism procreate, is there any chance of that? Could two moderately autistic people produce a severely autistic child because of some kind of double-whammy effect? Or will autism skip a generation like twins or balding?

I can see me limping across the finish line at 70 years old after having successfully raised Audrey to work and live independently, only to have to start all over again with my grandchildren. Oh God. I just threw up a little in my mouth. Or maybe Audrey and her beloved will move in with me like Monica and David did with her mother. I will no doubt still be mixing up supplement cocktails for Audrey, so maybe I can just add a little birth control to the brew.

The moral of the story of Monica and David is that the disabled have the same rights as every one else when it comes to marriage. My favorite gay marriage one-liner applies here as well: why shouldn't they have the same right to be just as miserable as the rest of us? Audrey will have no lack of suitors, after all, because she is gorgeous and smart. But let's face it, autism is also the Alaska of disabilities, with the guys so far outnumbering the gals that her odds are pretty good. I guess it's a little early for me to expend too much mental energy on such thoughts. For now, I'll just be glad that Billy is in Florida and Audrey is in Illinois...and that Audrey still doesn't have the motor planning skills to pucker up and give a kiss.

Reader Comments


Good article


Thanks for the info

What a great discussion here. I do not have a child with autism but I am a school psychologist and have the privilege of working with children with autism and asperger's. I cannot imagine all the different things that parents of children with autism wonder and worry about. I hope I can only support in any way I can while their precious cargo is at school.

What a great guest post! I think you're right, that's something that all Mamas (& Dads too) worry about for the future. But, as a Mama of a kidlet with autism, I do hear the extra worries associated when your precious kidlet is on the spectrum. Lately though, I'm just taking one challenge at a time. Oh yea....and the Alaska of disabilities?! That had me cracking up!! :>

Love and Marriage

@DaniG: I wouldn't worry. As I mentioned to Lynn, Billy is perfectly capable of forgetting he's married and wandering off, so it's a good idea to have a backup. Or maybe they could do some kind of autistic Big Love thing? (OMG - when he's 16 and finds all this crap I've written about him on the Internet, he's SOOOO gonna hate me.

@Mamacita: Good point about the lying. Score one for autism!

@Laura: I've been to a Disney themed wedding, so I seem no reason a Baby Einstein-themed ceremony couldn't work :-)

@Tulpen: Don't make me fight you for Audrey ...

@Big Daddy: I have trouble envisioning a ceremony in which Billy stands still and wears a lot of "itchy" clothes (though repeating vows after the minister would be no problem) but this reception is shaping up to be one serious move-bustin dance-off. I can see our autistic guest list getting their groove on to the Baby Einstein/Charlie Brown playlist in a way no NT party could truly achieve.

@outoutout: I'd cut my right leg off if I could be assured that my son would grow up to have it together the way you seem to. I know that no parent can count on any such assurance, but cut us Mamas some slack: we're hard-wired to worry about, love, and feed people, particularly the ones we love.

@Brook: Nice to meet you, SITStah! Look forward to checking out your blog.

@Lynn: Thank you for this wonderful blog post. And for being honest about the feelings to which most of us moms can so closely relate.

@Sherri: Thanks for stopping by! Loved your interview with Lynn ...

@Ginny Marie: I'm so glad you're a part of our Spring Chicken tribe. Your perspective -- as a breast cancer survivor -- has been really refreshing. And thanks for hosting my blog post this past Friday :-)

@Kathy: Really appreciate the support.

@Aimee: A first kiss sounds super-sweet, not a scandal ... a scandal is disrobing from the waist down on the playground and then pulling the fire alarm. Not that I'm saying that happened to anyone I know or anything ...

@Cheryl: I kinda have a crush on Dr. Sheldon myself. And you'll probably end up with the world's most perfectly behaved grandchild, while your daughter shrugs at you and says, "I don't see what's so hard about this parenting stuff!"

@Jen: You bring up an excellent point. Genetic testing scares me as well. If they'd been able to tell me before I got pregnant that there was an overwhelming likelihood that I would conceive an autistic child, I can't say that I would have ever had children. And that thought terrifies me. I would have missed out on the most wonderful, life-changing, thrilling, loving, defining experience of my life -- becoming a mother to my two incredible kids.

But I was ignorant and scared of the idea of special needs parenting. Heck, I was scared of the idea of parenting. But by the time I finally knew I was pregnant, I decided to forgo any testing because I was ready to love the child God gave me. Not that they could have identified autism at that point.

If they ever ARE able to identify autism that early, I hope that enough of us have spoken honestly, joyfully and openly about all the ups and downs of parenting special kids. And I hope there are enough adults like @outoutout and Temple Grandin and autistic scientist Lisa Daxer showing the world that ASD is not in any way incompatible with happiness and fulfillment as a grown-up.

I'm sure, Jen, that your words are doing that for potential parents of Down's Syndrome kids and I applaud you for that.

@K floortime Lite Mama: I love your blog too. Every time I check in with you, you manage to raise my spirits and expand my sense of hope.


Lynn Hudoba
I had to read that entire post out to me DH
you are soooooooooo funny you slay me

I am really liking Amanda's blog as well

Holding my breath..

Lynn- I would've been laughing harder if I wasn't holding my breath...I have been inundated with the Monica and David trailers because I have a baby with Down syndrome. First of all, can I just say BLESS YOU for saying, "... and who also both happen to have Down syndrome." Because you're right: first and foremost they are a couple, they are individuals with a ton of unique gifts, who also both happen to have Down syndrome. I "get" your worries. Big time. I have to focus on right now, and right now alone or the Spring Chickens Tribe will be helping to get me safely into a padded cell.

...And in some ways I am not rooting for the Autistic community to discover a genetic precursor. If so, you'd eventually be looking at the odds I faced: 92% of women who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome terminate. That is a LOT.
Sorry to be Debbie Downer...your post was very thought provoking for me...

Ah, Young Love

I don't know about you guys, but my daughter is pretty scary when she's around a boy with Asperger's. They tend to play together in a "typical" way! Her social skills are SO much better. It's like they "get" each other! I'm pretty hopeful that someday my daughter will meet someone and get married. I do think her future husband will be a lot like Dr. Sheldon Cooper, however (from the "Big Bang Theory"). If they choose to procreate, I'm guessing it'll be my chance to snicker as my daughter deals with a tantrummy, difficult kid.

Yes, I'm immature.

Total 20 comments

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