1. Take my son to the potty and back to bed.
  2. Repeatedly tell him that “What is the opposite of elephant?” is not a question I can answer before finally answering, “Dog,” just to get him to go to sleep.
  3. Repeatedly curse the Baby Bumblebee “Opposites” DVD.
  4. Fidget nervously in bed for so long that Dave, still sleeping, literally kicked me out of bed.
  5. Change my clothes three times. What outfit says, “Take care of my baby. I'm right across the street?” I assemble an outfit. Then change again, because I realize I look kinda like a ninja. Sundress it is.
  6. Drink a very large cup of coffee.
  7. Fueled by caffeine and nervous energy, update my Facebook status twice, tweet about the joys of coffee, and write about 40 million posts on (sorry, ladies). Expect to receive a couple of calls and emails later questioning my mental stability.
  8. Drink two more very large cups of coffee.
  9. 10 minutes until wake-up. I rearrange some of the living room furniture. And then put it back because I can no longer get to the bathroom.
  10. Wake Billy up for school! With the song “Good Morning To You.” His response: “Please stop singing.”

    Happy first day of school!

Reader Comments

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love it

lol I love it! I look forward to our first day of school in a couple yrs!

1st Day of Pre-K

You're a great mom. Billy will be fine. Put your feet up and relax. Take a nap when Willow naps. Our boy will meet and greet you with a huge smile on his face. No doubt! But, the minute you get him home.....CALL ME!!

First day of school - thumbs up!

Thanks for all the good wishes! It turned out REALLY well ... Ms. Jade said he had a very good day, and while he was very tired by the end (he was too nervous and excited to sleep much the night before), he really participated in almost everything. He was talking about one of his friends from class last night. We're looking forward to Day #2 being even better. He slept MUCH better last night.

First Day of School

Hahahahhaha! Awesome. I'm with you on that Baby Bumblebee DVD.

So how did it go? And I'm not just asking about Billy, I'm asking you, too? How'd you do with the drop-off? :)

Hugs to all our babies. How lucky are we to have a front row seat as we watch them grow!?


Haha... Super funny... I know that feeling-what should I wear?!?- so well. Glad Billy had a great first week!

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Something else he'll have to leave at home: my now stretched-out black nightshirt. "I'm the Black Beast," he told me. Indeed.

We've had a wonderful summer. More on that once I've safely gotten him off to school tomorrow.

Right now, I'm more nervous than a two-tailed cat. I feel like I've been shopping for school supplies for a month. But as I'm checking and re-checking the list of things Billy's supposed to bring tomorrow (two bottles of antibacterial soap, boxes of crayons and markers, an assortment of sponges, a ream of copy paper, etc.) I've been thinking about the things he might miss from home.

5. The witch hat
The quintessential image of my summer is Billy zooming around the dining room table on his scooter wearing nothing but Pullups and that pointed witch hat.

4. His Razor scooter
We used to think Billy had coordination problems, but he is crazy good on the scooter. He can weave in and out of furniture, narrowly miss my toes, spin circles and stop on a dime. I actually think it calms him down sometimes, focuses his attention. I just mention it in case any other parents with “sensory seekers” (and a lax attitude toward their hardwood floors) want to give it a try.


Maybe they'll have a storage tub at school that he can relax in.

3. Peanut butter
One of his classmates has a peanut allergy, so no peanut-related products in his lunch or snack. And that got me to thinking how much harder so many parents have it than we do. That peanut thing is serious, scary business. Billy loves peanut butter, but he can have it after school.

2. The laundry basket
Second only to the witch hat, the laundry basket is his costume of choice. It's one of those net pop-up ones, so he can see through it, and he wears it over his head as “Robot Billy.” Sometimes he wears it while riding his scooter. Once, he fell asleep in his bed wearing it.


Billy's best buddy

1. Willow
Billy's sister was barely one and barely walking when school was last in session. Now she is his best friend, playmate, sworn enemy, bath buddy, wrestling opponent, and fellow robot. She has been the third member of our circle during this summer's “circle time,” the world's most appreciative audience for his antics, and the hand he holds while watching TV. He has been the center of her universe. It's going to be hard on her. And me. And very quiet in our house.

Reader Comments

Love all of it

And feel your pain. As a parent I can't bring me...that is hard...

Life is a Spectrum & Peanut butter

Wow what a great story! Really enjoyed reading your blog. I'm a single mother and have a 12 year old son with ADHD; ODD; ASD and anxiety. Which I usually say he's got a lot of alphabets. If you think about it everyone has some kind of alphabet connected to them. I haven't had a chance to read your article 10 things everyone should know about Autism but look forward to reading it tonight. I have struggles with him everyday and my boyfriend kind of understands it but he also thinks a lot of his issues are attitude related and I have to agree with him a little bit. My son is great with everyone else but the minute I walk into the house he completely transforms into someone else and the attitude kicks in, the disrespect comes in and practically every other behavior usually teenages have appear. Don't get me wrong he can be great around me at times but not always. Then there is the whole school thing. He struggles so much with practically everything and he hates home work. He's in public school and as much as he struggles he's done pretty well.

I thought my child was the only child on earth that LOVES peanut butter. My son can take a big spoon and scoop out a huge scoop of peanut butter which he usually does everyday. Glad to hear someone else loves peanut butter as much as he does.

Attitude, behavior, and the ABCs of autism spectrum

Hi, Sheila! Thanks for getting in touch :-)

One of the hardest things of parenting a special needs child is figuring out what is behavior and what behavior is related to the disorder. You're absolutely right: Everything they do is not caused by autism or AD/HD or whatever disorder they're dealing with.

And yet, we don't want to punish them for something they can't help. It's really tough. Did it get easier to tell the difference with your son as he got older and was able to talk to you more? Right now, Billy is so frustrated by his limited ability to communicate that he just tantrums when he's upset. Sometimes, it's just a four-year-old ticked off that he's not getting his own way. And sometimes, it's an autistic child frustrated that he can't communicate. It's an ongoing problem for us, dealing with it appropriately.

And YES, he LOVES peanut butter! He's such a picky eater that we were delighted when he started eating P.B. He would eat it every meal if I would let him! If I had his metabolism, I would too :-)

Autism support in the UK

Hi, Jennifer!

Thanks so much for getting in touch. I'm really interested to hear what you said about the lack of autism support in the UK. My husband is British (from England) and we occasionally talk about whether we'd be better off going back to the UK where we wouldn't be at the mercy of insurance companies for health care coverage.

Does your son receive therapy? Behavior services, occupational therapy or speech? Since he has Asperger's, he may not even need speech therapy. But I'm just curious to hear more about your situation and how the coverage of therapy compares.

Again, thanks for checking in and I hope you'll stay in touch :-)

My 13 yr old son has Asperger's and loves peanut butter!!!! Unfortunately he has no control over his eating and will gladly polish off a full jar when your back is turned. Although he was not diagnosed until he was 11, once we learned about ASD we realised and understood all them tantrums as a younger child, and the guilt of not realising your child was not the antichrist that strangers in Tescos etc thought he was with me as the worst mother on earth made me cry as much.
Yes it is near impossible to work out whats autisms "fault" and what is basic human nature.
At the min we cant get our son to sleep and we cant get him to go to school. No help from anywhere, but realistically if we his parents cant get him to go to school, who can??? Autism support is rare in Northern Ireland and im guessing its not too great in rest of UK.

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I can still remember learning to read. It was a very exciting time. I was in first grade, and we were taught phonics with the Open Court system.


If you're around my age, you'll remember the wall cards with the letters and pictures on them, and the chant that we stood and recited every morning: “Block A, Block A ...ay, ay, ay! Beating heart, beating heart ... buh, buh, buh!” And so on.

There was a story behind the pictures associated with each sound. We started with the letter “M,” which we learned made the sound “mmmm...” The picture on the card was a girl enjoying an ice cream cone, and she was the star of the story. I can remember each picture on every card, because it made sense and had relevance to the story.

As we learned another letter, another bit of the girl's story was revealed: At one point she saw a motorboat on the water, which made an “nnnnn....” sound. And at another plot point, she encountered an angry cat, teaching us “fffff...” sound. At various points in the story, she cracked some nuts(C- and K-), knocked on a door (D-), got out of breath (H-), made some coffee (Qu-), and encountered a frog (G-), baby birds (Y-), an angry lion (R-) and apparently, a ghost (Oo-).

I have a couple of points. First of all, the story was exciting. There were ghosts! And lions! And motorboats! And ice cream!

Secondly, I was six years old. My mom had taught me how to read quite a few words before then, but the school didn't actually attempt to teach me to read until I was six.

Billy started pre-K when he had just turned three. Almost immediately, his class began with sight words.

The first word I was taught in school was “ME.” It had obvious significance for me, and I knew how to sound it out because I had been taught the “ice cream sound” (M-) and “Block E” (long E-).

Billy's first word : “the.” How do you teach a 3-year-old the significance of “the.” WHY do you teach a three-year-old the significance of “the?”

In my first grade class, after learning “me,” Mrs. Peel taught us the “knock on door” consonant (D-) and “the angry lion” (R-) and I sounded out the word “deer.” My first book: We Feed A Deer. A little light on plot, sure, but it was followed by Fire! Fire! (long I-) and one about a jewel heist on a boat (long O-) that I remember to this day.

Billy's books are called “pre-decodables” and they are the most boring stories on the planet. In fact, calling them “stories” is a little misleading. They are more like word collections.

Some of the titles are A Table, The Pond and The Cows, and they make We Feed a Deer read like an episode of “CSI: Miami.” I mean, come on, who ever heard of a children's book in which the protagonist was a TABLE?

Here is the actual entire text of The Pond:
"The pond.
He and I are by the pond.
The frog is by the pond.
The pond."

Billy's going to start his second year of pre-K next month, and he will very likely be getting the same material again. The only thing worse than studying The Pond for a week is a re-run of The Pond. I've tried getting these books back out to re-familiarize him with the sight words, but the last time I pulled one out, he just laid his head down on the table and started to weep softly.

His favorite books at the moment are Madeline, which involves crying and emergency surgery and a man with a “hurchy foot” and scars and presents and balloons (these plot twists are listed in the order of their importance to Billy), and Finding Nemo, which has sharks and a blowfish and water and a seahorse and hugs and lots of shouting.

The Pond can't compete. I'm glad he's learning to read at school. I just hope the plotless reading material doesn't cause him to develop an aversion to it.

Books are competing with more stuff than ever for kids' attention. It's never been more important to make their reading material exciting and challenging – even if they are three. Especially if they're three. Have you seen an episode of the "Wonder Pets?" Those animals get around.

For the time being, I'm spicing up The Pond with a few plot twists of my own. I hope it doesn't raise too many eyebrows in the fall if Billy explains how the giant frog at the pond ate the boy who then cried and cried until his friends, the magical fish who were cousins of Nemo, sang the theme to the “Wonder Pets” and saved the day.

Now that's a story about a pond.

Reader Comments

Teaching Reading

Still laughing here. The truth is always funnier than fiction. You are a great mom and natural teacher. You're also the only person I know with a memory that can even mildly compare to Billy's. Keep up all the good work! I love you. Mom

Feeling jipped!

Wes and I BOTH feel cheated! Never once did that ice cream eating girl every star in a story for us that involved knocking on doors or zooming off in boat full of diamonds. I can vaguely remember a ghost, but I don't remember him ever haunting Madam Gelato. Bummer! :)

Then again I did have Mrs. Miles teaching me in 1st Grade, who secretly, and by secretly, I mean she held her hand in front of her face while she exclaimed to her aide three feet away from me that she couldn't believe I was the sister of that really smart girl who knew lots of big words. Chances are, Mrs. Miles of Meanness cut out all the good stuff!

Most teachers are saints in my opinion because they have a HUGE responsibility on their shoulders to shape the hearts and minds of youth. Self-esteem and confidence can both be directly correlated to those early mentors. If they are good, the affect is good. If they are bad, it is horrid. 1st grade was a tough year! LOL


OK, I'm embarrassed...I posted before spell check! For the record, I do know that gypped is not spelled jipped. Ugh...maybe that Miles chick was on to something!

I had the pleasure of teaching the Open Court Reading program to my first graders in 1972. It was an amazing phonics program. I taught both of my children using the same technique and would love to teach my granddaughter as well. I am unable to locate the sound cards, etc. I have looked at the Open Court website, but it appears that their sound cards have changed. In fact, I called them and spoke to a representative, but they were not aware of the sound cards that I was interested in, i.e. M for ice cream, S for flat tire, etc.

I would appreciate hearing from anyone who knows where I can purchase these old sound cards and books.

Total 4 comments

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