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Kristen is a home­maker, home­schooler, and a home­keeper. Her experience includes nineteen years of practice, raising three kids, a husband, and a dog. Writing about her life helps her stay sane. She believes that sharing stories helps others by providing opportunities to share advice (and helpful hints) about homeschooling, and raising kids on the autism spectrum, while supporting marriages and families that are striving to thrive.

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Shannon Enos is a wife, recovering Pinterest addict, and homeschooling mom of two young girls. Her hobbies include analyzing music with her husband, pretending she’s going to finish that crocheting project she started 4 years ago, and making lists of things she has already completed just so she can cross them off. Shannon values truth, education, the arts, open minds, humor, and “Nashville" binges on Hulu. She believes that learning happens everywhere, whether you’re paying attention or not.

 

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Pink Owl

Here is another day in the life of living with autism, special needs, challenging situations… I share to offer community. We aren’t alone. We take up a huge part of the population now, and sharing information is what is going to help us all through our crazy, beautiful, funny, deep loving lives...

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"Can someone have a brain transplant?"

"What if Dr. Who came right now- you'd go, right?"

"I'm going to take over Disney so I can give Star Wars back to George Lucas!"

"I'm going to get a private jet and be a CEO..."

"I'm about 2 feet tall."

All this and more.... The crazy  everylife is just like this with Tom-Tom. He has a million questions. Every day. The child did not speak in sentences until he was four, and he hasn't stopped ever since. He talks... All. The. Time.  He questions everything!

Some of the questions are from curiosity, some are legit; he wants to know something. Most of his questions, though, are totally "what if" and "can you imagine" questions. Also, they aren't bland why-is-the-sun-yellow questions, no sir, they are what-if-the-opposite-of Big-Bang-happened-and-Batman-needed-a-new-Robin-and-you-saw-me-on-TV questions. Hmmm.

Tommy communicates this way, and he feels good this way, this is who he is. I don’t watch Dr. Who, and while I care about Star Wars, I land on the side that Disney will do a good job with the enterprise, and George Lucas isn’t offended at all.

So, there are times when some people (even family) will ask me if Mr. T is losing touch with reality.  I have to pause and think before I answer, so it can be true and not angry:  No. he is not really losing touch with reality, this is his reality. He lives in his world, planet Earth, science fiction, time travel, books, people, his sisters, and everyone around him.. This is autism. This is who he is. This is who we love. Tardis loving, Star wars enthusiast, time travel researcher, Tommy. 

Mind you, we have come a long (lloonnnnngggggg) way from no sentences and questions about Blue's Clues and Bob-the-Builder only. We are, for instance, a part of his reality. He cares about what happens to us. He doesn't necessarily need us to come with him, say, if he wants to populate Pluto (yes, the planet… or, um, moon), but he cares that we know where he is going. The thing is, Pluto sounds more safe to him than college, or a job, or whatever is next. Universes a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far, away are way more fathomable to him than the immediate future. He can see where he wants to be (while on planet Earth and only until time-travel gets invented), but isn’t quite sure how to get there.

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Some days it's funny- the brain transplant conversation was rather epic. "But, mom, they can do heart transplants, and lung transplants- Why not brain transplants? What if someone was really, really stupid and he just wanted an upgrade?"

(um, no, Honey, It doesn’t work that way)

Some days are a little distressing. He is six feet tall, not two, and private jets cost a lot of money. A twenty dollar allowance isn't going to get him a private jet. And being a CEO is great, but you need to have some skills, including math. He reads on a collegiate level but has an early elementary level of math skills, and organization means clothes go in the closet, blankets go on the bed, and paper goes in his folder, but not somewhat neatly nor sorted (nor folded, and always stuffed). CEOs have those skills, and even when they make enough money to have an assistant, in the beginning they had a plan, with vision, that was organized. I'm pretty sure marketing a Tardis for the populace means you have to actually have one first. A job that pays minimum wage at least makes more than twenty dollars a month, and some college can prepare you for CEO-dom, or whatever the next step is. This plan is what makes sense to me, but it is absolutely a hare-brained idea to Tommy.

What is really hard right now for me (as a parent) is that he is eighteen and graduating and there are only two, relatively close-by, college autism programs that are residential, and he didn't get into either one. This is important, because he isn't independent. Regular college admission is a tough-luck scenario, too,  because of college admission tests (super smart kid, horrible test taker). There are accommodations for these tests, and, actually, there are a few colleges that don’t require tests, but, those aren’t close to where we live, and that gets us back to the living scenario. He is college material, but not living-on-his-own material. He can't remember when to eat and what is healthy, but he can read and research a subject pretty well. He still needs to be told to do his homework, to go to bed, to get up, to go to school. He will need a lot of support to get him through a college program. He needs to be told to put his shoes on, turn his shirt the right way, put on deodorant, etc. Every. Single. Day.

And he was a baby, like, yesterday. And I'm so underprepared. It is a bit crazy (I am a bit crazy). It’s also super exciting, and super stressful. I love it, and I don’t love it so much.

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So, transition is scary all around. It's especially scary when so many things have to be 'just so' in order for a plan to come together. At best, having typical teenaged boys must be challenging! From what I understand (from my friends that have man-boys), most boys still need to be told to wear deodorant, anyway. I'll be honest, though, it's hard to answer the questions right now:

"Oh! Graduating! Where is he going? What is he doing?"

Shrugs. All around. Just shrugs.

I don't know, yet.

We are all still trying to figure it out.

So, we're celebrating this moment and this milestone because it's happy, and a lot of work and a lot of people have poured themselves into Tommy. We need to celebrate. And God has it. My plans are, quite obviously, not His. So, for now, we will just be glad we've gotten this far and we will soldier on.

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Pouches is ready to kayak on the beautiful Rappahannock River. She’s also ready to learn more about how she can protect the river’s health using the Friends of the Rappahannock new River Report Card, sponsored by a surprise grant from the Community Foundation of the Rappahannock River Region (CFRRR).

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