What is Autism?

Autism-Awareness
Autism

The month of April is National Autism Awareness Month. The best way for me to celebrate is to share, to educate, and to write – which I do best.

I understand.  Autism – land of the unknown and forever a mystery.  Autism – repetitive behavior, strange blunt language, tantrums galore.

Autism is a condition of neural development characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior. Autism affects information processing in the brain by altering how nerve cells and their synapses connect and organize; how this occurs is not well understood. Parents usually notice signs in the first two years of their child’s life. The signs usually develop gradually, but some autistic children first develop more normally and then regress. Early behavioral or cognitive intervention can help autistic children gain self-care, social, and communication skills. NO cure, yet, has been found.

Autism has touched my life in so many different ways.  First with my stepson, Lee, and the first impression of him was a nervous man child with a boy’s mind. He seemed aloof, lacked eye contact, had minimum language and social skills, and avoided human affection and touch.

Second was with Temple, a HBO film about Temple Grandlin, an autistic woman who revolutionized practices for the humane handling of livestock.  I probably have seen this movie 4 or 5 times.  Temple was something I could relate to and associate with, for I too have a disability, Cerebral Palsy. Temple’s mother refused to listen to the physician’s negative advice. She helped Temple adapt to the everyday world. Her mother hired a speech therapist, which worked with Temple and enabled her to acquire language.  I attended a special school – Institute of Logopedics (combining the Greek words for “word” and “child”) in Wichita Kansas.  I attended speech therapy,  physical therapy, occupational therapy and I learned to adapt just like Temple did when she made the “squeezing machine”.  The machine hugs both sides of her to calm her down, as she controls the pressure, and it makes her relaxed whenever she becomes tense. Temple has overcome a tremendous amount of challenges in her own way and I can relate to that.

Ever since Lee and Temple, I have studied and research autism as a hobby. The person with autism is just like you or me -eats, sleeps and breathes.  That person may only eat chicken nuggets and chocolate milk for dinner, whereas, you may have a well -balanced meal BUT that is that how that person rolls. I may eat a bowl of popcorn for dinner BUT that’s how I roll.

We are all different.  The sun might be brighter, the tv might be louder and the smell of that candle might be too strong for a person with autism. That’s why they cover their eyes or ears or may scream because it is sensory overload.  Absolutely I can relate.  I have dry eyes and a symptom is sensitive to sun light, I prefer silence to noise, and cannot stand overpowering perfume.

The number of people diagnosed with autism has increased dramatically since the 1980s, partly due to changes in diagnostic practice and acceptance among society.  The numbers of organizations and websites have grown. Awareness is all around you.

I am surrounded by dear friends with children with autism. I welcome the association in hoping I might learn something new by the interaction.

It is a land of the unknown.  But I know I am richer by my association with Lee and because of Temple I am knowledgeable and understanding of autism.

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Omaha!

OMAHA!!

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Peyton (no last name required) retired today and yes I have balled and a piece of my heart is breaking. I knew this day was coming but that doesn’t ease the breaking.

I have followed his career from the “Rocky Top” days where he directed the University of Tennessee band to a rendition of “Rocky Top” after an enormous win. I remembered cheering for him in the SEC championship against Auburn. My grandma was able to watch his greatness before she died. Watching him lead Tennessee was like watching a conductor teach an orchestra, as part art and part science. He prepared for games like no other.

When he was drafted to the Indianapolis Colts, I became a Colts fan. He lead the Colts to a Super Bowl victory. He was an incredible starter . He was an expert on the “no huddle” which confused his opponents. He broke all records.

He was traded to Denver Broncos;  thus, I became a Bronco fan.

Peyton is/was a class act on and off the field which if you think about it, is all that matters. He is a legend. I greatly admire him as a human.

He’s also said the word “Omaha” more than any other player in history.

No regrets, he has no regrets as he exit this chapter of his life. And whatever he does, I will always be a Peyton fan.

Open Dialogue with God

So often I find myself shouting, “What are you doing God?” in reference to an ongoing problem or a hell of a day that I so frequently have had recently.  And He of course will reply, “What ARE you doing, Kim?”

I write that to share this thought – do we humans know what we doing?  I sure as hell don’t. I am just swinging it day by day. Some days  I hit foul balls ending way out in the boondocks.  Other days I hit a totally strike out  The days I hit a homerun, I usually don’t know how huge of a hit it was until days later. In my mind, God has a wand and hits me with it daily to knock some sense in me.  He will casually say, “Hey Friday wasn’t so bad, was it?”  I will say in a surprisingly way- “Yea Friday was kinda nice. But last night kinda sucked.” He will reply, “True but you survived, didn’t you? It taught you to rely more on Immodium which is a good lesson to learn.” I stick out my tongue.

Recently I had a conversation with a dear friend about the saying – God will never give you more than you can handle. At times in my life, I’ve had a dinner plate full to the hilt, a salad plate full, a delicious soup bowl full and He throws dessert my way. It’s usually cheesecake but sometimes I want to throw it in God’s face and scream ENOUGH! He usually doesn’t hear me and throws cupcakes on top.  Then I say, “Ok tell me how to deal.” I don’t pray to have a better life, I pray for strength and wisdom to deal and to cope.  One must have open dialogue with God in life. He gives you shit to deal with – -it’s called LIFE but how you handle it depends on how well you are swinging and who is your pitcher…

I want to dedicate this to Tammy Jones.

 

 

 

 

 

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Sex sells…

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I once pulled the headboard off the wall in a hotel.  Yep sure did. I journeyed to Birmingham ten years ago to meet a friend. During hot & heavy sex, I grabbed that headboard and off it came. Needless to say, we had a good laugh. The next day when the hotel maintenance worker visited, red was the color of the day.

I write this to say sex can be fun and memorable. I will always remember Birmingham and associate that town to that event.

So often sex is dirty and cause pain. If people came forth with silly fun sex stories, we as a society can begin to erase the taboo of talking of sex. “Yes my partner and I broke the bed during sex” or “we crash the mirror during foreplay.”

So let’s hear the stories. I am sure I ain’t the only one that has pulled a headboard off the wall.

 

 

 

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Why is Sex such Taboo?

Why is sex such a taboo subject?

In my older age, non-mate stage of my life, I am incline to masturbate with the help of a sex toy, the pocket rocket. It is the greatest thing since sliced bread. It makes my toes curl and relaxes me. With me having Cerebral Palsy, relaxing (my muscles) is a huge relief.

I posted “I have a new toy” on Facebook and I know people are taken aback and  I just giggled.  Sex is how we got here as  human beings.

My parents never discussed sex. So when I lost my virginity I ran to the bathroom to call my best male friend at that time so he could decipher the ordeal to me. It was ugly. He confirmed that it was indeed sex.

Over the years, sex has improved but instances happen to forced me to openly talk about it and realized the world would not stop. In 1996 I was diagnosed with Endometrosis. I discussed with several doctors how painful sex was. Being new I thought it was normal but I also had back pain and major bleeding to help initiate the diagnosis.

In 2006 I discussed my wacko sex life with 2 FBI agents in my living room. I got involved with a sex addict who loved sex games. To come find out, this addict was wanted in California for producing child porn. The agents questioned me and ceased my home computer.  At that time of my life I thought sex games was common with couples. It is NOT.  PEOPLE – talk openly about sex.

I seriously think if we as  society were to discuss sex, fewer rapes would happen. Women would KNOW that  this forceful action is not accepted. And I know it would decrease the rapes not reported. Because sex is such taboo, females are less likely to come forward.

I love the HBO series “Sex and the City. I applaud the creator and writers. “I had sex and it was FANTASTIC” was a common opening to any scene. I found it welcoming and refreshing. It taught that it is perfectly OK to talk about sex. Talking is how we learn and educate each other.

So YES I am a 50 year old with Cerebral Palsy and I masturbate with the POCKET ROCKET and I love it!

 

 

 

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Life Does Not Treat Me Like Queen Tutt Every Day…

Life Does Not Treat Me Like Queen Tutt Every Day…

 

My name is Kim. I am a disabled person, a cat lover, an overachiever, a widow, a college graduate, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a stepmom, an aunt and now a writer. It is funny – I forgot to mention I am a human being. I get so caught in playing these different roles that I forget I am a human being; that I do have feelings and it is OK to feel depressed or sad or on cloud 9

I was born Kimberly Jean Skaggs on September 21, 1965 in Wichita, Kansas. By the age of 18 months, I was not sitting up which was abnormal for a child of 18 months. So my parents, Pat & Charlie, took me to the doctor. They were told I had Cerebral Palsy. Now I get to have the miniature walker and wear the helmet. Maybe that is why I like football so much. O goodie! Now I get to give my dissertation on Cerebral Palsy (CP). I did a presentation on CP when I was a senior in college. That was more clinical and more medical. I am going to try to explain CP in my terms. When I was born, the umbilical cord got wrapped around my head and cut off the oxygen supply to my brain. I talk funny. I have a Southern Cerebral Palsy accent going on.

Have you ever called to place an order on the phone, and lo and behold, you get a foreigner? Well, that is how it is with me. But I have been told, after a while talking with me, one picks up my speech pattern. I have conducted numerous meetings and presentations. I would try to have notes on paper to give out so people would have some clue as to what in the heck I was saying. It is funny but no matter what, I will have someone in that room able to interpret for me.

I have a lazy eye in my left eye. That means that the eye wanders. No, it has nothing to do with CP. If I really concentrate, it will stay in focus. I once had someone asked me which eye should they look at when addressing me. I just shook my head.

I type with one hand – my right hand. Sure do. I used my left fore finger for the shift key. I taught myself to type when I was a senior in college. It comes in handy when you have senior research and case study papers to write. Back in the medieval age (1980’s) we did not have nice, friendly computers or laptops. We had this thing called THE TYPEWRITER. It works the same way but without the “DELETE” button or the main menu. For me to get papers done, I would have to handwrite them, then pay someone to type them for me. In the beginning, that was ok. But as I further my education and drove smack dab into SOCIAL WORK I was faced with these case studies. Needless to say, these papers were long (20 +pages.) I obtained a type writer and taught myself to type.

I do wear glasses. I was quite vain in my twenties. It took a lot of headaches and a coworker persuasion to get me to the eye doctor. Now I can not see crap without them. That, my friends, is old age. Every time I go to the eye doctor I am faced with the admission I am getting older.

I walk with a walker. No, it does not have wheels. Wheels on my walker is the last thing I need. If I try to walk without the walker I fall flat on my face. Doing everyday tasks with a walker can be quite interesting.

I do not do glass.I do have some glass like vases and knick knacks. I do not think a person can live entirely without glass. When I purchase something, I have a mental list I have to run through. Is it plastic? If not, can it be poured into something plastic? Can I actually lift it and carry it? Ever tried to lift and carry a case of mountain Dew with a walker? Ain’t easy! Can I button it or snap it? I can’t wear anything that zips or buttons in the back. However, I do have some beautiful dresses with zippers that I used to wear when I had help putting them on. Can I cut it? Ever tried to cut an acorn squash with a weak hand? My list does vary.

Ever tried to put on jewelry and you couldn’t do it because your fingers would not cooperate? I have some beautiful jewelry that my husband bought me when he was alive and we were dating. I simply can not put it on. I do not have the dexterity it takes in my fingers to put it on. People simply do not think if I can do something or not.

I drive a candy apple red scooter (aka: my convertible.) Trust me, this is just like a car to me. Instead of gas, it takes electricity so I have to plug in into the wall outlet. Once in a while I have to buy batteries and new brake. I do give it a wash when needed and I do have a car repair man, courtesy of Allied Medical. I get a great farmer’s tan in the summer. The winter is a different story – I freeze my tush off. It is called “Bundle Up!” Besides my normal winter attire, I wear leggings, pants, 2 pair of socks, a hat, a sweatshirt with a hood, 3 scarves, 2 coats, mittens, a quit on the back of my car and a UT orange and white UT fleece blanket wrapped around my legs. Needless to say, the north wind winter is not my favorite time of the year. Rain is hellish too, especially if it is a cold rain.

My car only goes 4 mph. I know that isn’t 44 mph but it gets me where I am going. People are joking with me saying…you are going to get a speeding ticket. If they only knew how STUPID that sounds. That, along with what to say when someone dies, are two of the most awkward topics in society.

If someone saw me for the first they would automatically know that there was something wrong with me because of the lazy eye and the rigor and stiffness of my features. Then if they heard me speak, they would automatically assume I was retarded. If I am a retarded college grad, then donkeys can fly. To my knowledge, donkeys can’t fly.

I graduated from UTM in 4 years with a BS degree in Social Work and could not get a job as a social worker. Well, no one told me that a social worker must speak clearly (without my Southern CP accent) and be able to drive a “normal car” not my cool convertible. Well my social worker background has helped me with my previous job, but not with diagnosing myself or treating myself…..

Life is humorous– it is what it is. It is what one makes it. I have made my life heaven and hell. My life has been a comedy, a drama, a mystery and a romance. I try to compare my life to an abnormal life lived unabnormally.

Being Queen Tutt ain’t easy, but I give it 110% every day and then some.

When did my parents have the “TALK” with me?

When did my parents have the “TALK” with me?

 

Let’s see.  When did my parents have the “talk” with me to tell me I was different and had to work harder for everything I wanted and nothing will come easy– NEVER.

The never sat me down to tell me the birds and bees about Cerebral Palsy (CP). I was living it daily so the talk was never necessary. I knew I was different because I walked with a walker but I still attended school with walking kids and played with them.

I talked funny but I could memorize the ten techniques to a successful interview in Social Work (my college major).  God might have given me bad muscle coordination but HE saw my intelligence was intact.

I guess I never really understood the medical aspects of CP until my senior project for a Social Work class. Along with a detailed notebook my mother kept when I was a child, I researched CP and gave a lecture on CP.

God might have given me crappy speech but HE gave me beautiful penmanship to compensate. In some situations, I just write it down when communicating with people nowadays. A lot of my life is compromise and that was not instructed by anyone.

Because I live with CP every day I just accept and take everything in jest. It is my life and that’s how I roll without instruction of the birds & bees.

What prompt this article was recently a friend has had the inept task of explaining autism to her child upon his questioning. I would find this task very endearing and complicated because autism is such unknown unlike CP. CP is concrete unlike autism.  It is never easy giving the “talk” if decided to give.

Determinations

 

determinations

 

Happy New Year to all my readers.

Instead of a New Year resolution, (firm decision to do or not to do something), I am calling “it” a determination.  Resolutions are something of a holiday wish. One makes the wish at midnight and then retire for the night,  and the wish magically proofs into the cold night to cause the person grief upon the wish not coming true.

Determination is a state of mind.  One is determine to do better in whatever it may be – lose weight, to give more and to be a better person. That is what I am determine to be in 2016.

I am at my heaviest ever and it really bothers me so I plan on doing whatever I can. I am limited to exercising because of the Cerebral Palsy. I might go to the YMCA here downtown Memphis and see what they say. I don’t believe in setting a specific number of pounds to lose. That usually sets one up to fail.  I will just say “to lose <period>”.

I want to give more – not money but more of myself and my time.  I want to be more active in my blog and to be more aware of the different campaigns online to bring awareness to different causes. I am starting my Cerebral Palsy campaign preparation early for it to be more effective. This is very important. If ya’ll have any green ideas (green is CP color), please let me know.

I am determine to be a happier better person in 2016.  Shit happens and it usually happens to me. That’s life – my crazy ass life. I want to smile more and laugh more. Drink  more coffee and just be a happier person.

What are your determinations?

 

 

 

 

 

Who is Santa?

St. Nicholas was a Christian bishop who helped the needy. After his death, the legend of his gift-giving grew. St. Nicholas transformed into the legendary character called Santa Claus, who brings Christmas presents to children around the world.

This year there have been some unique special “Santas” that have gone beyond the normal duties. I am talking about the mall Santas that don’t get paid. The Santas that spend hours with children crying or rambling about what they want for Christmas. Those Santas.

First we had the Santa who actually got down on the floor to bond and to connect with the boy who had autism. https://gma.yahoo.com/why-santas-lying-floor-christmas-photos-153820228–abc-news-parenting.html

Then we had the Santa who signed, used American Sign Language, to communicate with this little girl. http://www.today.com/kindness/signs-christmas-mall-santa-uses-sign-language-speak-young-girl-t60111

Finally, we have the Santa who listens and counsels this little boy with autism. http://www.today.com/kindness/signs-christmas-mall-santa-uses-sign-language-speak-young-girl-t60111

Three amazing Santas who take the role of Santa seriously who use their special gifts of connecting to bond with these special kids. That to me is what Christmas s all about. These men are Saints in their own way.santa_floor_lb_151202_16x9_992

 

 

Thinking Out Loud

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I named Comcast, my internet/cable, provider “Comcrap or Comcramp”!

I love college basketball and in my imagination -ESPN knew this and they made a day especially for me or for lovers of college basketball called Tip-off marathon. Tip-off marathon is a day or two days of thirty – four hours of college basketball. Its a glorious day of seventeen ballgames broadcast over the ESPN family networks. I just love this time of the sports year – basketball galore.

Well COMCRAMP had a different plan; a plan of NO BASKETBALL! I woke up this morning late after a game in California and no cable or internet. I cussed, I prayed, I pouted – still no cable. I called. “O ma’am there is an outlage in your area” says the foreigner. My response was, “No kidding SHERLOCK.” Another foreigner said he would prorate my account for me.

I survived Comcramp’s evil. Read, drank coffee, listened to ballgames on static radio, texted a lot, and watched a delightful movie. Often I see a Facebook post asking would you go internetless/cableless/wireless for a million bucks? Yes I would.