orange you glad you aren't a bully?

The boys are wearing orange in support of Unity Day. Unite Against Bullying.

I saw it in a tweet last night and asked Andy if he had any orange shirts. "I'll have to find out." I knew he had a long sleeved shirt in orange and mentioned it. "What shoes will I be wearing?" Whatever shoes you want to wear? "I will wear socks and tennis shoes." Did someone tell you to wear those? "I don't know."

Both boys have some odd "rules" they have placed on themselves. It is a coping mechanism to live with things they cannot control. Andy prefers to wear short sleeved shirts, shorts and sandals. If he wears a long sleeved shirt then he "must" wear sneakers and socks. OK.

I went to tell Ryan about Unity Day but he already had an orange shirt pulled out to wear. I looked in his closet and saw he had several orange shirts though he doesn't wear them. The long sleeved shirts in his closet had a layer of dust on them. Ryan doesn't wear long sleeved shirts unless it is very cold. He will only wear them outside the house and change when he comes home. 

This morning, Andy got dressed and came to me, "I found this one." It was an orange short sleeved shirt. He hasn't worn it much and it looked new. Andy wears mostly grey t-shirts from Cotton Bureau. I think it is because they are so darn soft. Andy was happy that he didn't have to wear sneakers and socks.

It was 66 this morning. Both boys were in orange t-shirts, shorts, and sweatshirts.

special olympic state games

 special olympics state games

Andy was chosen to participate in the Special Olympic State Games in cycling. Andy went with the school group Friday morning. They went to Downtown Disney and had dinner at ESPN Wide World of Sports.

I found this on my photo stream in the morning. It was cool to see Andy having a good time without me.

I found this on my photo stream in the morning. It was cool to see Andy having a good time without me.

Ryan & I went over to EPSN Wide World of Sports around 8:30. Sam and his parents were already there and set up. We moved the van and joined them. Andy showed up. He looked tired and hungry but was happy to see us.

 special olympics state games
 special olympics state games
 special olympics state games

We hung around and waited for them to call us.

The boys thought it was cool to hang out in the truck bed.

The boys thought it was cool to hang out in the truck bed.

Andy did his 500m. He kept fiddling with his bell and lost time. I actually made it to the other side to see him finish.

 special olympics state games
 special olympics state games
 special olympics state games

Hanging around. Andy did have some goldfish.

 special olympics state games
 special olympics state games

Andy won 2nd place. Sam won 1st.

 special olympics state games
Andy ready for his 1k race.

Andy ready for his 1k race.

Andy did OK. Sam came in ready to “die.”

 special olympics state games
 special olympics state games

Andy got a bronze. Sam got a silver. He was OK but took it off as soon as he could.

 special olympics state games
Ryan kept track of the riders and their order.

Ryan kept track of the riders and their order.

 special olympics state games

We left and ate lunch at CFA in Celebration.

school's out

Today is the last day of school but both boys are home. They decided not to go today because there isn't anything for them to do. Andy cleaned out his desk yesterday and brought a bag home of supplies he didn't use. Ryan never used his locker so there wasn't anything to clean.

This morning, I woke up at 4:15. I got up at 5. Andy was already awake! On school days, he drags himself out of bed at 5:45. On non school days, Andy is up and raring to go before 6. 

Ryan never changes his schedule. He goes to bed at 8:30 and gets up at 4:45. Ryan hates to miss school so I was really surprised when he said he would stay home.

picky eaters & other quirks

My boys are picky eaters. This is typical with kids with autism. It is one of those things that you learn to work around. The boys were good eaters until the toddler years. All kids go through that. My kids never stopped. In some ways they have gotten worse. 

I understand some of their issues. I am a picky eater too. I do not like steak but I love hamburgers. It is a texture thing. I love tomatoes but hate ketchup. I don't dip fries into ketchup. My boys never learned to dip.  But I know when I have to give in. I once at ate chicken livers when I was in Poland. We hadn't had a decent meal in a couple of days and were out of options. Kids with autism will not give in. They will starve before they give in. 

Some of their food routines... 



Last year, I used to fix Lenders Cinnamon Raisin bagels. I toasted 4 bagels. Andy ate them all. Maybe once a month, Ryan ate 1/2 bagel. On school days, Andy didn't eat much before he left. But he would eat the leftovers when he gets home. They were cold and stale and he would eat them. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I fixed the leftover sausage from Sunday. I used to fix biscuits but Andy stopped eating them so then I just toasted a couple of bagels to go along with the sausage. Andy would eat the sausage but skip the bagels until he got home. 

Then Andy started high school. School starts at 7:30. He has to get up at 6 and catch the bus at 6:50. Andy is not a morning person. He would eat his sausage on Tuesdays and Thursdays but nothing the other days. Andy's lunch doesn't begin until 12:10. It is a long time to go without food. I asked Andy if he would eat sausage if I made every week day. He was excited with that idea. Monday and Tuesday, Andy eats the leftovers from Sundays. I cook up a fresh batch on Wednesday and Andy eats that the next three days. On Saturdays, Andy eats 4 toasted bagels. It takes him all morning the way he grazes. 

On Sundays, we have waffles and sausage. Andy eats 2 waffles and 5 sausages. It is routine. He cannot deviate, unless he is sick.

Ryan usually eats cookies or donut holes. And chocolate milk. Lots of chocolate milk. Ryan will nibble the edges of the cold, plain waffles but nothing else. 



At home I fix grilled cheese. Only Andy will eat this. Years ago, when Ryan ate as well, he used to leave the crust. Andy picked up this habit and won't stop. 

When we go out to eat, we do drive thru through two different places. Andy prefers Chick-Fil-A chicken nuggets and fries. Ryan will only eat fries from McDonald's. We stop at McDonald's first where Ryan gets medium fries and Andy gets small fries. Then we go to Chick-Fil-A. For years, Ryan's preference was Wendy's until they switched their fries. And there was a time when Ryan preferred Arby's home style fries until they stopped carrying them. Chick-Fil-A is closed on Sundays so Andy used to hot dogs until he got tired of them. He started eating McDonald's chicken selects until they stopped making the Chicken Selects. I make grilled cheese for Andy. One Sunday, I stopped at Target and got a Pizza Hut Personal Pan Pizza for Andy. He really liked that. But I cannot stop there each week. I told him I will get him pizza every other week. He is OK with that. 

Lunch at School

For Andy's lunch: 1/2 cup Multi-Grain Cheerios, 5 club crackers, 1 cup Whole Grain Goldfish crackers. He usually eats the Goldfish and the cereal, the Club crackers are eaten last. He drinks a thermos os Juicy Juice.

For Ryan's lunch: 1/2 cup Chocolate Cheerios, 5 Club Crackers. He always eats the crackers and about 1/3 of the Cheerios. Ryan drink Capri Sun. It is the only time he will drink juice.


Andy eats Tyson Southern Style Chicken Nuggets. Every night. Nothing else. Sometimes Ryan will eat one nugget. Most days, Andy eats the whole box. We rarely eat out for dinner.



Ryan eats his cookies and donut holes and chocolate milk. Ryan does not differentiate from snack and meal. Ryan is my chocolate boy. He used to eat plain Hershey Kisses. I had gotten a bag of Dark Chocolate Kisses for me. I noticed the bag on the floor, empty. He ate the whole thing and did not get sick! We moved to caramel kisses and kept them in the refrigerator. I used to keep them on a high shelf then Ryan got tall and smart. I cannot find these locally anymore. I have to go to another Target.  

Andy will eat Entenmann's Pop'Ems if he is hungry between meals. Or Club Crackers. 

Special Meals

Andy likes pizza. He prefers Papa John's thin crust with cheese only. Andy will eat half of a large pizza. He will not eat leftover pizza. Ryan has not eaten pizza since he was 5 years old. 

ryan 041203-1.jpg

Foods they used to eat

Chips: Ryan used to bring home snack bags of chips. He got them from his teacher for being good. He used to eat them. He preferred the rippled kind. Then he stopped eating them. Andy used to love Pringles in his lunch but he stopped eating them. 

Cookies: Ryan has always been my sweet eater. And he would try different cookies. Especially if he picked them out at the grocery store. He loved Oreo Uh-ohs. He liked chocolate chip cookies. He even tried Keebler Fudge Stripe cookies. He won't eat any of these anymore.

Candy: Andy has never liked candy. His teacher used to use it for rewards. Some kids used to try to sneak it. She started putting it by Andy because he wouldn't eat it not would he let the other kids eat it. Ryan used to use m&m's. He is the only kid who got messy eating them.


The boys don't like change. 

Manufacturers love to change the design of the packages. This was always a problem. I had to show the kids it was the same and they were OK. Mostly. Then Keebler changed the cookie! Andy used to eat EL Fudge cookies. The front of the cookie is the front of the elf. The back of the cookie, was the back of the elf. Then they changed the back to some words. Andy would not eat them anymore.

Other Quirks

Ryan does not like to sit inside restaurants. The exception is  McDonald's at DisneyWorld where they show old Disney cartoons. Andy likes to eat inside. We eat inside when Ryan is not with us. 

pink eye

Health wise, we have been pretty lucky. The boys have had their share of colds and flu but we haven’t needed the doctor in years. During spring break, Andy woke up with a red and swollen eye. There didn’t appear to be any injury and I took a wait-and-see approach. The eye continued to be red and puffy through the day and the next. It starting weeping the next day. Again, I wasn’t too concerned. I have had my own problems with allergies affecting my eyes. Perhaps Andy was developing and allergy? I told Andy not to touch his eye but to use a tissue to wipe it.

When the drainage became thicker, I should have called the doctor. I knew Andy would not want to go. I didn’t want to go. I thought we could try some over-the-counter eye drops. Due to Easter holiday, that took a few days to get done. By the time I got eyes drops, Andy’s eye was red and gross.

I showed Andy that getting the drops wouldn’t be difficult by putting a drop in my own eye. I had him lie on the bed and look the other way. It wasn’t easy but we got it done. I was hoping we would see improvement by the end of the day.

The next day, Andy’s eye was not quite improved but not worse either. We continued with the drops. By the end of the day, it did seemed improved. The drainage had lessened.

Andy was supposed to got to school Tuesday morning. But his eye was still bad. He had had only 2 days with the drops and maybe a third would be the trick. I let him stay home. He spent the morning in his room.

On Wednesday morning, there was no improvement and Andy wanted to stay home. Again he spent the morning in his room. When he came out for lunch, I saw that his eye was worse. I called the doctor.

We got in right away. Dr LaCross was pleasant and patient with Andy. She said it was conjunctivitis and that he would need eye drops. She tried to look in his ears. Andy is blessed with heavy ear wax and she couldn’t see in his right ear. She said that there is sometimes ear infections on the same side as the eye. It was Andy’s right eye that was infected. She offered to clear the ear but I knew that wasn’t going to go well. I said I could do it at home and she agreed. She also gave us some sample eye drops so we wouldn’t have to pay for a prescription.

We went home and I put in an eye drop. This stuff in concentrated so 1 drop, twice a day is all that is needed. The thicker drops are harder to get out of the tiny bottle.

Andy wanted to go to school on Thursday. He wanted to go 2 days, not just one. I let him go even though he should have stayed home the 24 hours after the first dose. The clinic called right away and told me Andy’s eye was bothering him. I asked Andy if he wanted to go home but he did not. I said he could call if he wanted to come home later. The clinic called at 10:30. I figured this coincided with Andy’s work time at school.

We went through drive-thru at Chick-Fil-A and went home. Andy stayed in his room until Ryan came home. Andy’s eye continued to improve but he wanted an exact time when his eye would be better.

On Friday morning, Andy wanted to stay home. I didn’t argue with him. I felt guilty enough for ignoring the problem in the first place and let him stay home. He stayed in his room during the morning but came out in the afternoon bouncing to music. His eye is still a little red but the drainage is gone and it doesn’t seem to bother him at all.

it is bowling season for special olympics

The high school open house was a little different for the ESE kids. Most of their classes are in the same room with the same teacher so they added extra topics for us to learn about. We went to one room to learn about Special Olympics. We were told that the kids need an average of 30 points for 10 games in order to qualify for area bowling on September 29. The first event is scheduled for September 12. They usually play only 2 games. When can they play the other 8 games?

I asked Andy if he wanted to bowl on Saturday. He wanted Ryan to go but Ryan wanted to stay home. I got Andy to understand that he needs to bowl if he wants to qualify. I emailed Pin Chasers to ask about open bowling but didn't think I needed to reserve a lane. I emailed two other moms to invite them. One mom emailed me back and said they would try to be there. I did not hear from other mom until Saturday morning. She texted me to say she was going to be there with her kids and her sister's kids. She called Pin Chasers to reserve a couple of lanes and texted back that Pin Chasers was booked with a Breast Cancer fundraiser. (They never mentioned that in their email.) They might open some lanes depending on the crowd after 1:15. 

I decided to take the chance and we went to lunch. Andy wanted to eat inside at CFA. We drove up Morris Bridge to Pin Chasers. 

The boys also like to play video games. But each game is $1  to play and you must purchase tokens.  We brought some tokens we had purchased from Extreme Adventure. (When we were there in June, I learned that the tokens are interchangeable.) I didn't worry that I was using other tokens to play video games at PC. We spend at least $30 for bowling and tokens on a typical visit.

We got to Pin Chasers about 12:30. I explained that we needed to bowl for Special Olympics. We asked for a lane and were told there was one opening up soon. He asked how many games and I said 4 and was charged $1/game. The last time we were leaving, one of the senior workers asked if my kids had specials needs. I said yes and he said he wish he had known as we would have gotten the discount. I said that was OK not knowing how big the discount was. We paid about $24 for the boys to play for 2 hours but they only played 2 games.  

Andy played the first two games with the bumpers. He did well. It was good that he didn't have to wait for someone else so he didn't wander away and get distracted. We took a short break between games two and three. Andy played the last two games without the bumpers. He did better when he concentrated. I think he was getting tired and bored. His scores were 62, 89, 66 & 47.

Andy played some more video games. He liked the speed boat. I played the pinball machine. We played one game of air hockey then went home. We have a lane reserved for next Saturday.

a visit to the doctor

I procrastinated again. Andy brought home the special olympics application form a couple of weeks ago. I did not make an appointment for a physical until Wednesday. On Tuesday, I went to the high school for Open House. We learned that the form had to be in by September 7! Crud. 

I made a reminder to call 9 am on Wednesday. And when the alarm sounded, I called the doctor Andy saw 3 years ago. However, Dr. Sikes no longer gives physicals for Special Olympics. Double crud. Now I had to find a doctor and pay for the exam. 

I called Andy's pediatrician. Andy is no longer in their system, his pediatrician no longer works at that office and they have no appointments before Friday. I call another office. They do have an appointment for Thursday at 11:00. They told me to bring Andy's immunization record. I looked in his binder and saw that we had not been to see this pediatrician since 2002. 

Because of the autism, we did not go to the doctor unless necessary. We saw plenty of specialists and each visit was stressful. The boys got sick but not anything more than a cold or flu. Nothing that required a doctor visit nor antibiotics. For immunizations, we went to the county clinic because they were free and didn't require an appointment nor exam.

When Andy got home, he asked about the appointment. He would be happy to go back to Dr. Sikes. He recalled that the restroom only had one toilet and no stalls. I told him about the new office. He seemed OK with it especially knowing he would get out of school early.

I got to the school early. I never know if it is going to be a problem bringing him to the office. Also, new school, new procedures. There were no problems and we got to the doctor's office early. It was good because I had so much paperwork to fill out. They even gave Andy his out confidential questionnaire regarding drugs and sex. It was in its own folder so he could fill it out and give it to the doctor without me seeing. I filled it out for Andy. If there is a benefit to autism, I am pretty sure my boys will not smoke nor take drugs as they are so picking about eating. Neither boy will take medication and would rather cough that take cough syrup.

We were alone in the well child waiting room for a few minutes. Two women came in with a toddler. He was loud but happy. He screeched and soon got on Andy's nerves. I was ready to take him out but the mother noticed and offered. I thanked her for her generosity. Another mother and son came in. This toddler was quiet and Andy was not bother by his presence.

We were called back and they weighed Andy, 168 pounds, took his temperature, and measured his height, 72". He did not want the “squeeze” so they skipped the blood pressure. We went into a room and finished the paperwork and handed it over. Andy walked around the room and then sat on the exam table. He did not like the paper rustling under him. He didn't like that it ripped.

The doctor came in and gave the exam. Andy was hesitant but the older doctor was patient. He asked me some questions and said he would skip the genital exam. Whew! We were done and ready to go. We had to wait a while for the doctor to get the charges posted on the computer. Andy waited outside under the covered area.

I was happy to see the charges were only $40. The clerk explained that I was charged the camp physical fee. That made sense because it was not a true comprehensive exam.

It was raining heavily and didn't look like it would be stopping soon. Andy did not want to get wet so I ran for the car. And by ran I mean jogged as quickly as my fat self could go. I got soaked. I picked Andy up so he could remain dry. 

We drove down to Chick Fil A for lunch. Andy chose the one farther away. It would have been a good choice but he chose the Interstate rather than the direct route straight down Livingston. Oh well. Then we drove back up to Toys R Us. I wanted to look for more series 8 Minifigures and I felt Andy deserved a treat for behaving well. There were only 6 Lego bags left and I took them all knowing that at least three were figures I already had. Andy was happy to look for Grem and Acer from Cars 2. He played with them the whole way home.

legoland with ryan

Ryan asked to go to Legoland after he looked at the photo book I made of Andy's trip. He wanted to go before he turned 14 so he could go to the Driving School.

Ryan chose the long route. We got to Legoland just as the park opened. We had to wait in line for his ticket. It was good that I did not order it online. A woman gave me a coupon for a free ticket. We saved $75!

We walked in and I let Ryan lead. I forgot about the dragon & the water and we both got wet. He wasn't happy.

We went on the Island in the Sky ride. It went well until the end. They ask everyone to go left so people can board at the same time. Ryan complained and wanted to go home.

We went to the Factory and watched the video. This put Ryan in a better mood. But then Ryan was thirsty and needed water. I got him a $2 bottle and he was OK. We were going to go on The Grand Carousel and waited in line. Then they cut off the people in front and Ryan was unhappy. He complained until we left the ride.

We walked into Minifigure Market. I did get him to sit by the sleeping guy but he said the Lego creation was trying to grab him.

We tried to look at the Greenhouse but it was closed. This further degraded Ryan's mood, he said they were not letting him see anything.

We walked on to Miniland. Ryan enjoyed this and noticed that Florida was in the shape of the state and all the areas highlighted were in their proper place.

We walked over to Lego Kingdoms. Merlin's Challenge shut down as we got there. The Dragon had over an hour wait so we didn't go. Ryan was not happy.

We walked over to Land of Adventure and went on the Lost Kingdom Adventure. Ryan enjoyed it even though I trounced him in the points. Ryan really liked the Safari Trek and waited in line by himself.

Ryan said he wanted to get the Driving School out of the way so we walked over there. He smiled for his driver's license photo and we watched a video. The video wasn't done when the door opened up and Ryan wanted to wait to watch. I told him we could watch that video online. (I have seen it before.) We went into another room and watched a video about safe driving and a Lego employee asked some questions. Then they opened the door to go to the cars. Ryan didn't want to go. I had to force him. I should have let him skip the ride. I really thought he would have fun once he got going but he did not. Once the ride was over and Ryan wanted to go home. He didn't want his driver's license. He didn't want to go to any other part of the park. It was only noon.

We had to walk through Miniland again. Ryan was happy since he didn't get to (or want to) see New York.

Ryan said his feet hurt and couldn't wait to go home. But I made him sit and watch me eat apple fries. They weren't as good as I remembered but it might have been the constant complaining.

We walked through The Big Store but Ryan wanted nothing. I got a pin. I spent less than $13 for the whole day.

We stopped at McDonald's and Ryan chose another long way home.

st pete museum of history

Ryan chose the St Petersburg Museum of History

Ryan chose BBD to Fletcher to I275. We got to the museum about 10:30 and parked. 

The museum is nice though small. The cost is $12 for adults, $6 for kids & students with ID. Photography is allowed. The exhibits are similar to Tampa Bay History Center and Heritage Village. We were done in less than an hour. 

We walked to The Pier. Ryan said he had never been there. I thought he had. I will have to check. 

We went up the glass elevator to the 5th floor observation deck and walked around. Ryan took the elevator by himself to the first floor. Andy & I went next and met him there. We walked through the first floor and out again. People were fishing and it smelled. We walked back through to the main entrance and took the trolley to the parking lot. Ryan didn't want to take the tour even though he said the trolley was the best part of the day.

We drove to McDonald's on S 4th Avenue then back up to CFA. Then we drove home. Andy chose I275 to I4 to I75 to BBD to CLR. 

chick fil a & gay rights

My boys are very picky eaters.  

When the boys went through the typical toddler aversion to food, I did not worry. I assumed that they would go back to eating more food like every other kids. But I was wrong. They were diagnosed with autism and their picky eating habits became worse. Mother wisdom would say to put the food out for the kid and they will eat or go hungry, they won't starve themselves. Mother wisdom did not have kids with autism. They will starve themselves rather than eat something they don't want. This was the main reason I never tried the gluten free/casein free diet that is supposed to be beneficial for people with autism. 

My boys eat the same things day after day, week after week. It makes meal planning simple but makes going out difficult. We can't just go out to eat. We can't just pick a place and find something the boys will eat. When we do go out, we  have to stop at Chick Fil A for Andy and McDonald's for Ryan. Ryan prefers fries from McDonald's. He will not eat fries from Chick Fil A. He just won't eat. I know Ryan will eat fries from McDonald's. He used to prefer fries from Wendy's until they change their process. I know that Andy will eat chicken selects and fries from McDonald's. He will eat fries and nuggets from Chick Fil A. He may or may not eat fries from Burger King or Wendy's.

This means we have two reliable places to eat when we go out. So when I started seeing tweets about Chick Fil A and gay rights, I became concerned. The tweets claim that Chick Fil A is anti-gay because they support pro-family organizations. This bothers me. I support gay rights. I support equal rights for everyone. I also like the food and service at Chick Fil A. The choice is not that easy. 

If I stop eating at Chick Fil A for political reasons, what can I substitute? We tried PDQ and Andy did not like it. If we only go to McDonald's, what happens if they stop making chicken selects? 

I have to choose my battles. I will continue to go to Chick Fil A when I am with Andy. But I will not go there by myself, no matter how good the tea is.