Monday, April 30, 2012

Mountains of Molehills to "I Wish I Didn't Have Aspergers" - An AutismPositivity2012 Flash Blog Event

A few weeks ago I was wandering on the internet throughout the Autism community. I came across The Autism Positivity Project and the call for all bloggers in the Autism community to write for "I Wish I Didn't Have Aspergers," a search that landed a despondent Aspergian to a Autism blogger's page to look for answers.  Because this particular blogger was distraught that a person was searching "I Wish I Didn't Have Aspergers." they, along with a band of other amazing bloggers decided to spread the word to have everyone respond to this person on a Flash Blog day.

I decided, of course I would join in this effort to be sure that anyone who searched such a phrase would always come up with positive and supportive things, but it was a topic that did make me nervous. My son has Asperger's and has told me on numerous occasions that he wished he didn't. So the idea of writing to someone to help them cope with their diagnosis in life seemed like a difficult task. I stepped back and decided that my best advice can only come in what I say and will continue to say to my own child.


It's not easy and I wish I could make it easier for you. Sometimes those things that make us each unique are also the things that make us feel crazy. But sometimes those things are what set us apart from everyone else in this world. Having Aspergers means that you are going to deal with a number of things like your sensory issues that make it tough to get through the day. It might mean that you have a hard time making friends or getting people to understand who you are. But having Aspergers also means that you have some amazing traits that you may not have otherwise. You are by far the smartest kid I have ever known. You were telling me about the lives of jungle animals and what differentiated a tornado from a hurricane when you were four years old. When you were five years old you decided that you wanted to become a veterinarian on a zoo, something that you are still dead set on accomplishing five years later. When you set your mind on doing something you get it done, I have never seen a child so incredibly persistent as you. While you never ever engaged in imaginary play (pretending a banana was a phone, well because clearly it is not) you have the most amazing mind, creating a small mechanized world out of twist ties. I watch you at work reading, learning and doing and it makes me excited to see you grow. Because of your Aspergian traits, I know that you will become at the very least a veterinarian in a zoo, and maybe much more. I know that there will be challenges, but you must know that I am always here for you with your family, friends and all those who love you and know you. Together we can all see that those things that define you as having Aspergers Syndrome are the same things that make you my son and I wouldn't change that for anything in the world.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Gluten-free Hamburger and Hotdog Buns

The quest for tasty buns.....

I would like to say that we can live without bread in our lives, something my waistline would really appreciate as well. Alas, we are bread eaters and bread, much like pasta, is a staple in kiddo’s diet. So after tackling a good White Bread recipe that the kids and MacLeod love, it was time to head into the “rolls” area, namely Hamburger and Hotdog buns. Now I will be the first to drop into my local grocery store (not the most local one, but the good one that has all the great gluten-free stuff) and grab a bag of rolls or buns (the kids really love Udi’s) but on a weekly or daily basis? No, I think I would go bankrupt. At $5.00 or more for a pack of 4 rolls, I can’t swing it too often. So I decided it was time to get to some bun making.

As I do with all endeavors, I see what other people have done before. I mean wasn’t it Newton who said “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” So maybe I am not seeing further, but I am standing on other’s shoulders to get to where I want to with gluten-free baking.  So I found a number of recipes and one that seemed to work super for me was one by Teri Grus from theGluten-free Cooking Guide. She adapted it from 125 Best Gluten-free Recipes byDonna Washburn and Heather Butt.

I first tried the recipe as Grus has it written here, with the exclusion of amaranth because it is incredibly hard to find in my area. It worked ok, but I was still looking for something casein-free as well and this recipe used buttermilk powder. I had to make some changes that would balance the flours and dairy content and changed the flour blend as well to something a little nutritious (sans amaranth) that included a blend my family already liked. It took me a little while (3 tries) but I got a bun that I have been pretty happy with and the kids love. Grandma even said she thought it was fantastic!

Gluten-free Hamburger bun with dairy-free cheese, Yum!

Hamburger and Hotdog Buns

1 ¾ C brown rice flour
1 C potato starch
2/3 C tapioca flour
¾ C oatmeal flour
2 tsp xanthum gum
1 ½ tsp salt
2 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs dry active yeast
½ C rice milk
¾ C club soda
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
¼ C olive oil
2 eggs
2 egg whites

In a medium sized bowl combine the sugar, yeast, milk and club soda and allow the yeast to puff.

In a separate bowl blend together the dry ingredients; rice flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, oatmeal flour, xanthum gum and salt.

Add yeast mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer and on low speed at the vinegar, olive oil, eggs and egg whites. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, one cup at a time allowing the mixture to blend before adding next cup. When all the dry ingredients are added allow the dough to mix on medium speed for 1-2 minutes. The dough should be sticky, but easy to handle. If it is too sticky to handle add  ¼ cup of rice flour.

Prepare a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead into a ball. Cut the ball of dough into 8 equal pieces. On the floured surface shape each portion into a ball and place on the baking sheet.  Press each ball down on the sheet forming a bun shape and smooth it out with your hands.
To make hotdog buns, instead of pressing the rounds down, roll the ball of dough on the floured surface making a cylinder. Take each cylinder and place it on the parchment covered sheet and press it down slightly.

Brush each roll with olive oil to prevent the dough from cracking when rising. Place the pan in a warm place and allow the dough to rise, about 45 minutes to 1 hour until the dough doubles in size.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the risen dough into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until the rolls are golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Secret Ingredient Desserts, Part 2: Zucchini

Much like Jessica Seinfeld in Deliciously Deceptive, I starting the Secret Ingredient Desserts series because I really wanted to include vegetables into the kiddos diets, particularly without them knowing it. The problem however lies in my kiddo's sensory integration issues. Just to begin with, he is very picky about what he eats at all, but when it comes to new textures, temperatures and looks, that goes doubly.

I started to research a number of recipes for very basic things, cookies, cakes and such that contained a vegetable that reviewers said was not noticeable and started experimenting. I found though that in many of them, while they did adequately use the specified vegetable, it was something that changed the taste or texture of the overall product in the end. Kiddo is way too sensitive so I know that before I present something to him, I have to have it expertly disguised. In addition to that I am working with gluten-free flours and casein-free ingredients.

My first shot was with the Black Bean Brownies, which were a HUGE hit. Next I felt that I really wanted to tackle  a cookie and use something in season locally. Zucchini, who doesn't love zucchini? Ok, well my kids hate zucchini's, but just one medium zucchini is packed with over 50% of your recommended amount of vitamin C, about 10% of your daily vitamin K, over 20% of your B-6 and 14% of folate. (see link for more details- So with a great amount of vitamins and fiber, its a fantastic veggie to include in something like baked goods.
Most people have had Zucchini Bread at some point, so that was a no-brainer, I wanted more of a challenge and I also really had a hankering for cookies and chocolate  therefore cookies it would be!

Let me tell you, there isn't much in the way of zucchini cookies on the good ol' interweb. But I did find this great recipe Megan posted here at When Harry Met Salad that is an adaptation from Cook’s Illustrated’s Baking Illustrated and Carole Walter’s Great Cookies. So in the end, to make the required changes I had to alter the amount of flour- more gluten-free blend than conventional flour. Additionally, the amount the original recipe calls for is rather scant, so I doubled it. Kiddo also hates nuts, so I omitted them for half the batch (but pecans are super tasty with these cookies!). Of course I also used a dairy-free butter substitute to make them casein-free as well. For a little addition in flavor I also added some cinnamon and a wee bit of allspice because we like spicy cookies! The result was something that the kids now are calling their favorite cookie I have ever made. Kiddo wolfed his down and then I revealed the secret ingredient and he said "I knew I saw something green!" But the verdict was that it tasted good enough to ignore the specks of greenery. Phew!

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Zucchini Cookies

1lb. zucchini
¾ C packed brown sugar
2 ½ C Quick Oats, divided
2/3 C sugar
1 ¾ C Gluten-free flour blend
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
1 C Dairy-free butter like Earth Balance, softened
½ tsp fresh grated nutmeg
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1 Egg
2 tsp vanilla
2 C Dairy-free chocolate chips
1 C chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

With a box grater, grate the zucchini to yield about 2 cups of shredded zucchini. Transfer the grated zucchini to fine mesh strainer over a bowl to drain for 30 minutes or more. It is an important step, don’t skip it! (unless you want cakey or slimy cookies)

In the bowl of a food processor add ½ C of the oatmeal and the brown and white sugar and pulse until the oatmeal is finely processed.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and spices in a bowl.

In the bowl of a stand mixer add the butter, egg and vanilla. Slowly add oat and sugar mixture until completely combined. One cup at a time, add the dry mix to the bowl and blend until mixed. Remove from mixer and add remaining oatmeal, chocolate chips and nuts (if adding) and blend.

Squeeze out the remaining liquid from the zucchini and mix into the dough until blended.

Drop dough by tablespoon on prepared cookie sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake the cookies between 15 and 20 minutes or until the edges are slightly browned.  Remove from oven and let the cookie rest about 5 minutes before removing them from the pan. Transfer to a cooling rack. 


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Wild Wonderful Aspie Brain

Or what scares off lesser men....
      Have you looked into the mind of an aspie kid? It's is a wild and wonderful world. Kinda like the African safari with giant man eating lions watching your every move. They can smell your fear, taste that bead of sweat on your brow. Let your guard down just once and it will pounce on you and violently rip you to shreds....ok so that's not exactly what an aspie mind is like, but if you're not prepared for it, you won't last very long.
                They ask questions...lots of questions...lots and lots of questions about EVERYTHING! In my time with kiddo, I have decided Aspergers is not so much a problem like the underpowered worn out early 80's station wagon that your mom used to drive, but instead it is a supercharged 1960's gasser, a rabid street  machine trying it's hardest to tear away from a stop, blazing the tires for several city blocks. The thing is, though you have to feed it premium and know how to handle it and tune it. Many people get scared away from just the thought of that. Kiddo is just like that, he wants to know about everything that is going on, he wants to know how it works, what will happen if you do this or that.
                His a sponge soaks up all the information you give it. Some things he holds onto more so than others, like science, insects, and engineering. It may seem like he didn't pick up on it...but then a few days later he is spouting it off like he has the book in front of him, and you're sitting there trying to find your jaw on the floor. Just watch him build those Legos, he goes by the instructions once and after that builds whatever comes into that brain of his. Ridley Scott dreams of space ships like this, and he makes 6 different kinds out of the same Legos that came in the box. He doesn't hold back on other things either, bits of paper, magnets, even those twist ties from the loafs of bread. Point is I am at a loss as why someone would think of this as a "problem".
This is why I will use his fantastic brain. (insert maniacal laugh here) as...wait for engine builder!
His ability would provide me with perfectly built engines. When I was an automotive machinist way back when, we would have a second person look over our build to make sure we didn't miss anything. No need with kiddo, I'll have him look over my builds, and we will dominate the race world with our motors!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Loving My Square Peg

"Autists are the ultimate square pegs, and the problem with pounding a square peg into a round hole is not that the hammering is hard work. It's that you're destroying the peg."

                                                                                                                                            -Paul Collins

Kiddo was born 15 weeks prematurely, so there has never been a time that I can say that parenthood has been easy, but rather different degrees of challenging. To ease my mind, I have always believed that parenting is difficult for every mother and father. Within the challenges of being a young parent are the rewards that you reap; watching your young child learn to walk or hear his or her first words or maybe playing with their toys that is unless, of course they don’t.

When kiddo was younger, I longed for the days that he would start to talk calling me by name or telling me what he wanted to drink or eat. By the time he was 18 months, those words had not developed and I started to use sign language when he began hurting himself in frustration. Kiddo learned to walk at nearly two years of age, considerably delayed in comparison t his peers. He also never engaged in imaginary play, one of many social milestones that I ignored for a very long time. He could have died when he was born but instead was happy and healthy, social milestones could have been the last thing I was considering.
Our medical issues worsened during his early years of life resulting in many hospitalizations, discharges, surgery and recovery. Should a child have to go through so much so young simply to survive? I can still see kiddo’s eyes burning into me as he screamed being strapped to yet another examination table for another study to try to help him; a time when the nurses told me that it was probably best that I remain out of the room for procedures so he didn’t relate “mom” to pain. I never left his side.

As a mother there is one thing I never thought I would have to be prepared for though: stretching out to soothe my child’s pain, emotional or physical only to feel the recoil to my touch. When is a mother’s touch painful?

I have to remember, it has nothing to do with me, I did not do anything wrong to elicit this reaction. My son has Asperger’s and it is who he is. His recoil is not a reflection of the love that I give or what is received, it is however a reflection of his perception of the world and how he fits into it. There are times when he will come to me and give me a short and quick hug, but those touches are on his terms. I know I should simply be happy that I do get those and know that he loves me as I love him. I remind myself this every time… but it doesn’t make it hurt less when he pulls away from me as I try to love him. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Delicious Cinnamon Raisin Bread

The Quest for Cinnamonny Gooey Goodness....

It used to be be a staple in our weekly breakfast, cinnamon raisin bread. In our home we vary cold and hot breakfasts, so one day we have cereal and the next a hot breakfast like toast with jam and scrambled eggs with turkey bacon, pancakes or waffles, french toast and hot cereals with fresh fruits. On the hot breakfast mornings, cinnamon raisin bread was a great go-to carbohydrate to throw in with a protein for a complete and nutritious meal. But once we went gluten-free our beloved cinnamon raisin bread became something of the past. 

I have been thinking of the delicious memory of the delectable slices of cinnamon raisin bread with gooey swirls of cinnamon and realized that yes, I can make cinnamon bread. So I set off with my basic White Bread recipe and started altering amounts and working on some spices to see what combination I could get. I did research a few conventional cinnamon raisin bread recipes online to get an idea of how people have pulled these loaves together (why reinvent the wheel) and got to some serious work. Inevitably I end up STARTING to bake at about 9pm so then the resulting loaf isn't done until about midnight... but as our home filled with the smell of warm cinnamon, it was the most tasty midnight snack I have had in a long time.

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

2 C warm water
1 1/2 packet active dry yeast
4 Tbs. sugar
2 1/2 C Brown Rice Flour
3/4 C Potato Starch
1/2 C Tapioca Flour
2 Tbs. xanthum gum
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground allspice
3 Tbs Margarine (or non-dairy butter), melted
2 eggs
3/4 C raisins
Flour for dusting
Cooking Spray


2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3/4 C brown sugar
1/2 C raisins

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together water, yeast and sugar and let stand until foamy. 

While the yeast mixture sits, mix together the dry ingredients, brown rice flour through the allspice into a medium sized bowl. 

When yeast has foamed, add melted margarine and eggs to the mixture and blend until the eggs are thoroughly mixed in. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the yeast/egg mixture until it forms a sticky dough. Add raisins and mixture thoroughly. 

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, if its a little too sticky to handle, knead in just enough flour to be able to handle it. When the dough is manageable, roll it out to about 1/2 inch think and about 10 inches wide. 

Mix together brown sugar, cinnamon and allspice and spread evenly over the surface of the rolled out dough. Spread raisin over the brown sugar mixture. Roll the dough forming a doughy cylinder keeping it about 9-10 inches in length. Spray a 9" bread pan with cooking spray and place dough cylinder in the pan. 

Set the pan in a warm place to rise, about 1 1/2 hours. 
When the dough has nearly doubled in size, preheat oven to 375 degrees and place pan on the top of the stove to rise for another 15-20 minutes. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and when you knock on it it sounds hollow. 

Cool in the pan for 1 hour, allowing the filling to cool and set. 

Slice and enjoy! 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Spring Break

Day two into Spring Break and I felt like my brain was melting. I love my kids, God knows I do, but school breaks are hard. It's also not that I can't handle my own children or dislike spending time with them, no no, it is not that. It is however a major change in kiddo's schedule. Changes make kiddo haywire and that is where we are living right now. He and sis are in the bedroom screaming at one another and kiddo is furious that SHE touched HIS toy. I look over from the kitchen as I am getting breakfast made, some delicious GF Pancakes with strawberry sauce, just in time to see one tackle the other in what looks to be a death match.

"ENOUGH!" They both look over literally, one with a fist full of hair and the other with a hand clenching a t-shirt, like two deer in the headlights. "Kiddo, come here NOW." He jumps up sighs then yawns really big (that is what he does when he is about to do something he really doesn't want to do) and shuffles over to the kitchen grumbling the entire way.

"What is going on?" He looks down at the ground and continues to grumble, something to the effect that his sister had his Legos. "This change in schedule is tough, isn't it?" He replies, still looking at the ground "yes, it's very hard." "Look, I know that it's hard for things to change and be different than they normally are, but I am really trying to keep us moving, can we please, please, please try to calm down a little? I have lots of plans for us to do things and have a great time, but we need to do one thing at a time, ok?"

I direct him over to the living room where he has a number of books on Cicadas and World Records that he loves to read. He plops on the sofa and starts reading. Sis tries to approach him and I glare at her, "why don't you go read in YOU'RE room, ok?" She turns around and heads to her room and plops on her bed to read.
I continued making breakfast, three pancakes fell victim to the hot pan during the scuffle, but breakfast was served none the less.

I would love to say that the rest of the week was a breeze, but it wasn't. I did love spending the extra time with the kiddos, but I tell you- it has it's challenges as motherhood does in various ways anyway. We dealt with various stages of meltdown throughout the week regarding going out, socks and shoes, t-shirts and their seams and the food presented to eat. A lot of the normal stuff just amplified, as it always is when there is a big change in schedule. Transitions are incredibly hard for kiddo and I try to make things easy as possible, but there is only so much I can do to buffer things. At the end of the day I know that I have done the best that I can and start again tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Secret Ingredient Desserts, Part 1. Black Beans

It has come to my attention that in my GF baking and cooking, I sadly have paid less attention to fat content, something MacLeod's midsection has been given grief for of late. Kiddo on the other hand is gaining weight by leaps and bounds, which is great for him because he has typically lived a life way below the curve on weight. I started to look at meal options, sides and desserts that included "secret" ingredients that would not only provide much needed nutrition to the kiddo's, but also be a little kinder to me, MacLeod and my ever shrinking wardrobe. Thus I started my trials for my first Secret Ingredient Dessert- Black Beans. 

If you, with some morbid curiosity, troll the internet for Black Bean Brownies, you will inevitably come across hundreds of recipes strewn across many blogs and websites. I first came to see these little wonders via Pinterest, my latest obsession. (I know, I know... I was a little late coming to the Pinterest party..) The image of the chocolaty wonders intrigued me, the secret ingredient, black beans hypnotized me. With no flour in the ingredient list at all, pureed black beans as the binder and little sugar, I was surprised by the comments that followed the recipe stating how amazing it was and that you could not taste the beans at all. Could there really be a brownie that could be not only completely gluten-free, dairy-free, contain beans and be delicious?! Well, the answer came soon enough; yes and no. 

This recipe I tried, which had rave reviews, was... less than inspiring. I was so drawn to it because it was a completely grainless brownie with little sugar, which in retrospect seems a little to good to be true. In the directions (as with many other black bean brownie recipes) it instructed you to put EVERYTHING except the chocolate chips in the food processor together. Now, having run a bakery for a while, I can tell you that eggs can be a fragile mistress to work with. When mixed with other ingredients, the molecules of the egg separate and attach themselves to other molecules of fat, water and sugar. When the molecules reattach, they create structure in the product. If eggs are over beaten, you are breaking down those molecules and their ability to create the structure causing a very dense result. In brownies, for a nice chewy brownie, there is no added leavening agent (ie baking soda or baking powder) because that would cause the brownies to be more cake-like so the egg is acting as the one and only leavening agent. If you beat the hell (or food process the hell) out of it, then wah wah wah, no leavening. 

Undaunted by my knowledge, I followed the recipe as it was written. The brownies were dense and they.. tasted like beans. Don't get me wrong, I love black beans, however I do not want my chocolaty goodness tasting like beans. So, I sadly dumped them into the trash (after MacLeod ate a few pieces) and started over. It took me three tries to get a result that I was supremely happy with in texture and taste. Of course the test came now to kiddo. I knew that he would be very observant on the texture and the flavor of the brownie and if he thought it tasted off then I would try again. I gave him his piece and he munched and munched with that very contemplative look on his face (I was sure he knew there were beans!) and then he swallowed his last bite and said "they are SO good!" Then I told him that there were beans in the brownies and his face contorted in ways I didn't know it was capable of contorting. Alas, he ended up stealing a second brownie so I think they were good enough that he didn't care if the main ingredient was indeed black beans. 

Black Bean Brownies

1 C gluten-free flour blend
1/3 C cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp. instant espresso (or coffee)
3 Tbs. hot water
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 C olive oil
3/4 C agave nectar
5 oz. dairy-free dark chocolate
2 eggs
1 egg white
1/2 C dairy-free chocolate chips
1/2 C chopped pecans (or other nut)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease and dust a 9X9" pan. 

In a food processor, pulse black beans until they appear smooth. Place chocolate in a heat-proof bowl and set over a sauce pan with 2-3 inches of water in it over medium-high heat. Stir chocolate until it is melted. Add melted chocolate and olive oil to the food processor and pulse the bean mixture until it looks like smooth melted chocolate. In a cup, combine the water and instant espresso and add to food processor and pulse to blend. 

In a large bowl, combine flour, salt and cocoa powder and set aside. In a medium bowl, add agave nectar and eggs. Beat the mixture just until the egg whites are completely blended. Add the egg mixture and the chocolate mixture from the food processor to the flour and beat lightly just to combine all the ingredients, do not over beat. 

Fold in the chocolate chips and nuts, if desired. 

Pour batter into the pan and smooth out to all corners. Tap the pan on the surface of your work space to remove excess air bubbles and level out the batter in the pan. 

Place pan in the over and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the center of the brownies spring back when touched. 

Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes, cut and enjoy!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Light It Up Blue! (World Autism Awareness Day)

Today is World Autism Awareness Day, a day that many locations and people across the world are showing their support by Lighting It Up Blue. In New York, the Stock Exchange is lit blue, in Brazil (see mom!) Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, the Sydney Opera House in Australia and so many more! Autism is on the rise, with 1 in 88 children being diagnosed with some form of ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). The numbers are startling, it is time to make people aware, support the cause and make a change!

We haven't been part of the Autism community for very long. While kiddo had shown the signs of some sort of ASD for a long time, I wasn't able to get him really diagnosed until he was 8 years old. With so much negative stigma attached to Autism, no one wanted to believe that kiddo was Autistic. I was told that he certainly was not because he didn't rock back and forth and could speak well and he certainly wasn't retarded. (I only say "retarded" because jerks who don't know any better or are simply said- jerks, will use that term) For me, I knew that there was something different about my little boy, whether anyone else wanted to admit to it or not.

Kiddo was born at 25 weeks gestation (15 weeks early). While he did amazing for such a small preemie, once he started to grow, I knew that there were things that weren't quite right. He never utilized imaginary play and actually hated the play sets that you had to imagine it was something it was not like tools because they weren't functional but rather simply meant to entertain toddlers. Very early on he started to organize his toys, I would find lines of Match Box cars organized by make, model and color. By 18 months of age, he still wasn't speaking, the only words he could really communicate were "momma" and "dadda." When he would get frustrated as a result of not being able to tell us what he needed or wanted, he would turn to self injury, throwing his head up against anything close by including steel fence railing or light posts. When we went to the pediatrician for his check up the doctor pointed out that he wasn't really reach many of his goals, most of them centered around social skills like waving, pointing or showing, responding to smiles, word strings etc. I thought nothing of it, my kiddo had lived and survived after so much and he continued to struggle medically, I was not concerned about social skills.

As he grew older, the signs became much more apparent. His sensory issues and sensitivities increased and transitions to new events would set him off. The older he got, the more I knew that his reactions to things were less than typical, especially since I had his sister to, more or less, showing me what "typical" looked like.

When he was finally diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome in 2009, I didn't feel sad or afraid, I felt relief. I knew now that I could get him the help he needed to progress better in life because there was an answer. Since then we have adjusted his therapy in and out of school to accommodate his needs and in the last year he has just done amazingly.

And those Autism sterotypes? Well, kiddo is so smart he will knock your socks off. He rarely stims (repetitive body movements such as rock, arm flapping, etc. that people associate with Autism), but if he does we are in nuclear meltdown build up and it's time to escape. He has a great, if not slightly adult vocabulary and knows more about the natural world than I think I knew when I was in High School. He has a number of interest which he completely obsesses with such as Legos and dinosaurs. But kiddo doesn't look any different from you or me and he doesn't have a disease that you are going to catch. He is amazing and funny, sometimes even joking about things he doesn't understand like metaphors and idioms (ie. Mountains of Molehills, "mom what if a mole made a mountain... it would be pretty easy to cross!")

While I would never change kiddo and who he is, we must work to try to help find the cause for Autism. The spectrum of ability and function for these kids and adults is wide. It is not an easy life to go through and though I wouldn't change him, I know life would be easier for him if he didn't have Asperger's and really that is all a mother wants for her child. But as Temple Grandin said "I am different, not less." Help us spread the word and support the cause and Light It Up Blue today and continue to work towards a cure the rest of the year as well.