Saturday, August 22, 2015

New Blog

A new life and a new blog: Divorced and Hitting the Town, Dating.  I write about the adventures of being over 40, divorced, the mother and guardian of 2 autistic young adults, all while trying to date again after 20 years.  Let's face it, times have changed, technology has changed, and the over 40 lifestyle is a whole lot different!  It's been an interesting ride of adventure and humor.  And what would we do without our sense of humor?!

Blogging isn't just about sharing your thoughts and stories for others to read and maybe learn a thing or two from a kindred spirit.  It's also a key instrument in learning about yourself, and a window into self discovery -- hey, it's cheaper than therapy!  My life's journey has been a tough road but I'm making it through just fine. And I'm still smiling!  :)

As for my kids who are 20 and 21, they are doing great! They are strong, capable, smart and determined. They are my true heroes!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Our Story After 5 years...

I’ve been away finding my life.  Divorced, living on my own for the first time in my life and developing a career and friendships (which says a lot) while helping my children along on their own paths.

Meghan and Nick have grown to be the unique individuals that they are.  Nick has grown into a nice handsome young man of 19 and has outgrown some, but not all, anxiety issues. He has a tendency to talk to himself even out in public but he’s a caring and nice boy with a great sense of humor.  If I were to go back and ask, remember when?  I would think of how he was so obsessed with staying a kid, looking like a kid and never growing up.  Well he now walks around with a mustache on his face and reminds me on almost a daily basis that he’s not a kid!  Oh, how the pendulum swings.  Or just grows up!
He has a fondness, or should I really say an obsession with superheroes.  And the last few years with all the great movies, The Avengers, Captain America, Superman, Thor (oh me too) has helped him come into his own. His lives in the graphic novel world (with Sheldon and the rest of the Big Bang Theory friends) and doesn’t understand why he has to work in life, even though it will be through the help of special programs.  His current program helps him with academics as well as work programs to help him learn what he likes and doesn’t like in the workplace.  His program offers a feel for many different jobs in different industries which is wonderful.

Meghan has been at her residential school for 5 years now. It was a tough transition for me (well for all 4 of us) but she has blossomed into a nice, funny, fun-loving 18 year old girl.  She has adapted to both school and home (home every other weekend) perfectly.  It’s her life and her routine and she has become a pro at it.  She even has jobs at school, makes money and she is happy.  Happy!  Isn’t that the point, and what we all search for so diligently?    

She is still nonverbal but has a few words and some very basic sign language.  I started learning ASL myself just to have the understanding to teach her finger spelling and more advanced concepts when or if she’s ready.  She also has a mini iPad as a communication device which she loves and respects… I say “respects” because it hasn’t been flinging across any rooms (or at any heads) since she got it.  I think she likes this technology.    

I’d like to say that she gave up on her aggression and hand biting 100 percent of the time, but with the help of Paxil these compulsions have minimized greatly.  She does have some OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) issues:  wearing latex gloves because she doesn’t want to touch anything with her hands is the latest problem.  But that is nothing compared to living with destructive behaviors.  Gladly take it and run.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

New Website: Fearless Folks

Hey Everyone,

I just wanted to let you know that I have a new website called Fearless Folks.

It's sort of a spin-off of Fearless Females (only not as sexist!! ;) and the beginning of my second year of blogging (wow! a whole year has passed since my very first post!!)

So I will be blogging at fearless folks from now on.... And I must say that I'm excited about the new site, even though it has taken me about 3 months to get it together.... not much of a technical person here, but I'm learning as I go..

So please feel free to join me at (I hope you do!!) and feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think of the new site!

And thanks for reading!!!!!!!!

........... my wonderful fearless friends!! :)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A cat, a mouse and a chipmunk…

My cat is a killer. For those of you who have a cat, I think you know what I mean. For those who do not own a cat, then I must explain…

We have two cats, one is Coco and the other is Kimmy. Nick named Kimmy as we were taking them home for the very first time, and I helped Meghan name Coco. Actually, I’m being too nice, I named the cat because Meghan doesn’t really give a darn about the cats. Don’t get me wrong, she’s not mean to them, but let’s just say they simply coexist. However, Nick is just like me and loves his cats!

I do love cats and have always felt a special connection to the ones I’ve owned. But I must say I’ve never actually had two cats together like I do now. I had one growing up (Puddy, um, yeah...not my idea!) and then I had one when Nick was a baby, Alley, until she got hit by a car….in front of my face…crossing the busy road that we once lived on….just awful.

Then we got another one—a stray from the wild (or under our porch) and that seemed to have adopted us, so we took him in and named him Sake. (I was addicted to Japanese novels at the time...but the wine isn’t bad either!) But then he, too, got killed by a car…same house, same road…different car, so we moved.

Then we adopted one-year old Coco and Kimmy on the first anniversary of 9/11, and safely live in a family friendly subdivision. We were actually hoping to adopt a kitten at the animal shelter, but when we got there the cat had just given birth to kittens and they were much too small to take (ever see newly born kittens? very small and delicate) and our cats had just been turned in that day from their previous owner (who inherited an elderly father and was allergic to cats) so we took them in. Unfortunately they came to us as outdoor cats, and even though I tried (for three whole seconds) to make them indoor cats, I failed. Now we have snobby and mean Kimmy who wouldn’t be caught dead catching anything that moved about in the wild. But her sister, Coco, is a different story: she’s a cold-blooded killer! Of course I am talking about the quintessential field mice, but I’m also talking birds and baby chipmunks, too! (Oh, those little chippies are so cute; it just kills me to see them dead at my doorstep.) Ugh!

The first time she caught a little chippy (as I like to call them) and brought it back to our door, while crying her I’ve-got-something-delectable-in-my-mouth-for-you-because-I-love-you cry (again, if you own a cat, then you know what I mean), I couldn’t believe it, a poor little chipmunk. And oddly enough it looked just like my cat. My cats are calicos and if you look at a chipmunk, they look the same. I thought, Gee Coco, your killing your own kind! A bit disturbing if you think about it! So while I sat mourning the poor little dead thing, and giving Coco a haunting look, its lifeless little body with it’s twisted little head got up and scurried away. It was so surreal. The chippy that looked dead with a broken neck was simply playing dead from Coco the Killer--and very well too--because it rescued itself.

Hallelujah and a newfound respect for the chipmunk life! Oh, now I’m thinking of Chip and Dale. (Um…the cartoon characters...not the naked men dancers! But, hey, I like the way you think!) But those cute little fellas (I’m still talking chipmunks here) are smart little fellas, and every time Coco’s got a new one, I bring Coco in and rely on the chippy to do its thing and wake up from the dead and dance away into the night!! And unfortunately the success rate is not 100%, but at least the odds are better than the mice have! Yeah, what’s up with that, Jerry!!?

Kimmy and Coco (Coco tired from all the killing!! ;)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

An overwhelming view of the world (sensory overload)

Nick is absolutely petrified about walking the halls of his school, and after a quick interview with him, this is what I’ve come up with.
He finally told me that his speech teacher made him go back to his regular class by himself, which is walking down two large hallways to get to his regular classroom—the safety zone.

I asked him what had happened on his journey through 2 halls…did someone upset you? Tease you?

He told me No, but he did tell me that the other kids bother him.

“What did the kids say?”
“Nothing, they just bother me.”
“So you walked the halls by yourself and none of the kids said anything to you?”
“No, but they just bother me.”

The only conclusion I've come up with after this interview with my not-so-articulate boy, was that he most likely became very overwhelmed (sensory issue) by the rush of other kids walking through the halls trying to get to class on time. I imagine that the speech teacher let him leave to go back to his classroom at the sound of the bell, and the start of a new class -- for all. And roaming the halls with a flood of students rushing by him was probably so overwhelming (sensory overload), that he got scared. I imagine it’s like a little boy who had temporarily lost sight of his mother at a New York City subway station and trying to make his way through the flood of loud, obnoxious people without suffocating.

I asked him what it was like walking by himself.

He got very upset and said, “It made me very nervous,” he said, clearly distressed.
“Did you get upset, did you cry?”
“A little bit”
“But you made it to class alright and you were fine?”
“Yes, but I’m not fine...”
“Okay buddy, I’ll write a note.”

And thank God this is the last week of school, because I think we both could use a break.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Anxiety or Manipulation?

Nick didn’t go to school yesterday. Actually, lately, I feel like it is all I can do to get him to go to school. The reason why I gave him the day off, or let me rephrase that, let him stay home, was because he had a field trip. I clench my teeth at this because I really wanted him to go on this trip. It was to Boston and the State House and then to Castle Island. It would have been a wonderful learning experience. However, he was very nervous about going—for some reason—so I let him miss the event. I hate that he didn’t go, but I didn’t want him to associate a field trip and a fun learning experience with an anxiety attack.

Good mommy or bad mommy?

Sometimes a mom has only a few minutes to make a decision like this one, and sometimes it will be the wrong one, but at least it’s called doing the best job I can.

What really beat me up about this decision was that if I forced him to go he might have had a good time. He’s been on other field trips and they all turned out fine. Not forcing him gives him the option of not doing something that he should do and, thus, not helping him deal to overcome his anxiety during social events.

Now comes in a timely trip to his therapist yesterday afternoon, and she firmly agreed. We actually had a good conversation about when, and when not to avoid situations that cause anxiety. I brought her back to when Nick was in 5th grade and when he had his first anxiety attack. He was so troubled by something that happened in gym class (boys competing to win was, I think, the gist of it) that he would become anxious when he had to go back to gym. Unfortunately, his anxiety peaked to such a level that he hid under his desk at school and brought tears to his teacher's eyes. She called me and we had an emergency meeting with an autism therapist (a doctor who came out on a favor by me) to observe Nick. (This doctor was actually helping me with Meghan at her school at the time.) After spending time observing and talking with Nick, he discovered that when Nick was near the gym (or even near the doorway walking by the gym) he would panic and run as fast as he could away from the door and down the hall. The doctor told me that it was best not to have him attend gym until he was on medication for his anxiety. And medication was an absolute must.

Says who? Says that doctor, his therapist and his shrink…Yup, I got three opinions,
and keeping Nick from attending gym because it was a real trigger for his anxiety—at least until he was on meds—was the right thing to do in this case, because forcing someone to deal with this form of extreme anxiety, before he’s on medication and getting therapy to help work through the problem, could be like pushing him to the point of emotional breakdown.

So, henceforth we welcomed our dear friend, Luvox; the miracle drug that has helped Nick become capable of not only resuming gym class, but becoming a better participant in his classroom, to boot.

Note: not a drug pusher here, but, demonstrably, Nick needed to take the edge off of a debilitating anxiety disorder.

Now back to yesterday’s problem; I should have told him that he had to go on the field trip and not have allowed him to, uh-hum, manipulate me just because he didn’t want to go. And as for this newfound skill of manipulation, I must say: good for him, he’s becoming a creative thinker!! (Hey, looking for the positive in every situation, right??) But I must add to his credit, he doesn’t always avoid going on field trips or other events; in fact, he had a field trip last week and went along just fine. And he hasn’t missed an excess number of school days, either. Perhaps more than I would have liked him to miss this spring, but it seems that he has developed some additional anxiety issues that we are currently helping him work through. So I give him praise for dealing with the burden of anxiety, which I hope will help him become a stronger person in his adult life.

Here, I must give kudos to his teacher for helping me with his anxiety issues this spring! She’s been providing me with email updates and helpful ideas in alleviating his anxiety, including finding a quiet place for him to work when necessary, and even supplied him with a box of foam earplugs for when school becomes too loud.

And hey, it does take a village to raise a kid, especially a kid with ASD!!

Understanding anxiety click here.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tantrums and destruction can occur out of the blue

On Friday a few hours after Meghan got home she started freaking out (a sloppy, but easy way of saying that she was out of control and I needed to get away from her, and fast). I was sitting next to her in my room, just hanging out with her on my bed, watching the news and enjoying a relaxing moment together, like we’ve done so many times before. But then, out of the blue, she started pulling her hair, contorting her face and making angry nonverbal noises. It was a horrifying sight. What was different from how she might have been before she went away to school, was that she was only hurting herself, not grabbing my hair and neck and pulling and pinching me in a similar fit of anger, as she so easily could have done at that particular time. As I walked away and down the hall, I could still hear her freaking out, yanking at her hair and biting her hand. It was awful to listen to and I was wondering if the room that she was in even had a chance against her wrath.

But, she soon left that room and starting running down the hall toward the kitchen, where I was standing. And then I knew.

I immediately left the kitchen and ran down the few steps to the front door. As I was making my way to the foyer, I felt an all too familiar feeling on my head: it was the remains of a cup of ice water and, I think, an apple, that came crashing down on top of me, and I knew from this—an all too familiar sign—that she was smashing-up the kitchen and “in the zone” of real anger. We have a contemporary-style home and the kitchen has a balcony that is open to a stairway and foyer below, and because of this, and when Meghan is having a temper tantrum, I am in the habit of protecting my head from any flying food or objects.

Just before I ran outside I looked at Nick, who was at the next level below (the family room), and told him to take cover, and he did. Now how terrible is that? Huh? I have to give my son a "codeword" that means Meghan is flipping out so barricade yourself in whatever room that has a door. Like a warning of a sudden tornado ripping through the house, so take cover!

I ran outside and cursed myself for not grabbing a phone. But at that time Meghan was standing at the doorway where she was pounding on the front glass door, swinging it violently against a plant urn, and getting angrier by the minute. I was thinking about getting into my car to protect myself, but then thought against the idea for fear that both my kids would think I might drive off; or that Meghan would pound on the glass window of the car and I would feel trapped.

Then I looked up and saw her standing at the doorway, yanking and pulling out clumps of her hair so brutally that it scared the hell out of me. It was one of the worst scenes I’ve ever witnessed with Meghan.

Don’t get me wrong, before she went away to her school she would come after me and go for my jugular. Literally. But then it would be over. But this scene of self-inflicting pain: pulling out her hair in clumps and biting her hand so hard that I could see blood on her hand, was so violent that it was hard to watch. I was standing outside in the pouring rain with no coat, no shoes and no phone, just trying my best to get her calm. If I had a phone, I was actually contemplating calling the police for the very first time. It was that scary.

Meghan was beckoning me to come to her and I wouldn’t for fear of being attacked. I mean, she was still “in the zone” of anger, so I managed to run around the back of the house, discarding sharp planting tools that were left out from earlier that day (sounds both disturbing and comical doesn’t it? but don’t get me wrong, I’m am not kidding.) I think I even joked to myself: Hey, lose the weaponry, get rid of the hoe; wouldn’t want Cujo extra armed!! I then ran inside from the back sliding doors and grabbed a phone to call my husband and said: "get home ASAP"--another codeword. ETA: 30 minutes.

Meghan went outside to the front, grabbed a glass that was on an Adirondack chair (one that I had out earlier) and threw it on the driveway to break it into shards of glass, thankful that she didn’t aim it at the house or car window. At that point I really felt like I had no choice but to lock the front door and lock her out.

She then started banging on the front door, hard at first, then harder; turning and wiggling the door handle so hard that I thought it would pop off. I knew that I had to try to encourage her to come inside from the back, that way she would have time (and a walk) to calm herself from her angry state because there was no way I was going to unlock the front door and have nowhere to run to get away.

Sounds like a violent intruder trying to get me, doesn’t it? Sometimes I think she is.

I was also hoping that by being locked out she might think it was punishment for her horrific acts and bullying. But at the same time I was worried that she might get even angrier, so I ran out the backdoor, running in the rain with bare feet and getting soaked along the way, while rechecking for more random weaponry (I think you would too) and finally persuaded Meghan to follow me to the back yard, which she did after a few minutes, but it took a few minutes. Once back in the house, she starting cleaning up her mess almost immediately-- a good sign of calm, and of atonement because she knew she did something wrong. But I was still standing outside, shivering and watching—just in case I needed to get away.

I know I sound like a wimpy mother to my 14 year old daughter, but I have had the experience of being pinched, bitten, bruised, and hair yanked out of my head to fear.

Just a late afternoon at our household! What’s yours like?!

Humor, humor is very important you know!

I also want to point out that these “episodes,” or her tantrums, can be very random. Sometimes I can almost predict when she is, or just about to become upset--usually a sensory issue: loud sounds, or an unpleasant feeling on her body. I think the antecedent of the previously mentioned temper tantrum was either from the rain (she was outside swinging on the swings when it started to rain), and her hair was wet and perhaps bothersome to her at that particular moment. So bothersome that she couldn’t handle the sensory overload, if this makes sense to you.

And please note that these tantrums are upsetting to both mother and child (and others within the household); they are violent and destructive in nature and not to be taken lightly. I exhibited bits of humor in this story because that is how I handle my life in these situations. Humor makes an upsetting life or situation a bit more manageable and “doable” in the moment.

Friday, June 5, 2009

A Dear Mom Letter

It is true that Meghan may never talk. She can kinda say words, but to make conversation will be a challenge for her due to the severity of her autism. However, she is learning to spell and type in her computer everyday, so I know that even though she cannot speak using her voice, she will certainly (hopefully) learn to speak using her written words.

I actually fantasize about this all the time, as you might imagine. I mean think about it, I have never had a conversation with my daughter and she’s 14 years old. We communicate using some words, but mostly by using her communication book with PECS symbols or by gestures. And if you are aware of PECS and other gestures, then you know it’s not the most comprehensive form of communication!! So I am thrilled that her school has supplied her with her own laptop computer and special software to help her learn to write. She still has a long way to go because she doesn’t understand most words, sentence structure, and what it all means; but we are hopeful because she’s smart.

Which takes me to my next thought: I wonder what she will say when she is able to write for the very first time. What will her first written thoughts be for the entire world to see? Thoughts and feelings that have been unexpressed for over 16, 17, 20+ years will finally be unglued and released. What an historic day that will be for her! Understanding that she has the ability to communicate in a way that she never thought possible. To see her thoughts written out before her—a power that she had only known as a freedom for the rest of the world, and one most taken for granted.

So what would she say? This I cannot say. But I, of course, have fantasized that her very first letter might look something like this example that I will call: A.

Dearest mother,

I just want to say thank you for all that you have done for me over the years. I know that you have only wanted the very best for me and for my future and I love you with all my heart. I feel so free and liberated now that I can finally communicate my feelings and innermost thoughts and I hope to write wonderful letters to you everyday. Let’s email, mom, and get to know each other better.

Love always,

Your daughter,

Ahhhh! And so, so sweet! And okay, a bit of an exaggeration on my part, but it is my daydream, after all!! And notice how I would finally be able to have a more rewarding relationship with my girl! It’s like my long lost daughter finally showed up one day to say hello.

But then some horrible ugly thought begins to rear its ugly little head (of course, my nasty alter ego) as I sit there and I think, what if her first letter doesn’t look anything like that one… wonder if it’s something entirely different? Usually a mother’s negative thoughts revolve around only a few things: I’m getting married, mom and I’m only 17!! Or I’m pregnant, mom and I don’t even know who the guy is!! Or how about the classic: I hate you, mom. No, I’m no different from those other moms of a growing teenager except that I think that her first letter just might be to the world and revealed while we all await silently and excitedly hovering over her computer as the words are carefully typed out …

Dear Everyone,

Now listen up all you motherfu****. I am so fu**** bulls*** that I’ve been mute for all these years and now I’m not going to take your fu** bullsh** rules anymore….

I will stop right there because I think you get the idea!

Ugh! But, I’m just a mom thinking of all the possible scenarios, like any other mom would do. But what if her first letter looks more like B than A. Then what?

A silenced room?

People scurrying about as quickly as possible trying to trade in her speech therapy for anger management!!?

What would people say to me as I walk the halls of her school? “Hey, heard Meghan can write now!" (Snicker…snicker…snicker…)
Or “Hey what was Meghan’s first word: f*** or bulls**** ?” (snicker, snicker)
This is something only a nightmare could produce, but it has crossed my mind on more than one occasion.

But all I can say in my defense--because a mom always blames herself for her child’s indiscretions (if that’s what we will call this)-- is that Meghan’s very first words were already spoken and were nothing like scenario B, Thank you very much! I actually remember it as clear as day--as all good mothers remember their kids first words… even though she was 7 or 8, not 2 or 3; but nevertheless, it was a lovely story, one of happiness and fun, and…

You see, one day we were enjoying a nice summer day outside playing on the swings and planting some garden. When it was time for lunch, we went back inside for a bowl of Mac and Cheese—freshly made with love from a box--and an all-time favorite, too! (Yup, lots of love here!!) As I was serving her her bowl of “delicious,” as I used to call it (along with a loving hand sweeping back her long blonde hair—and with a smile, of course…), her fork fumbled in her hand and she mistakenly dropped it on the floor. As she bent down to pick it up I heard her first words spoken so astoundingly clear—at least to a mother’s well trained ear, and I turned to her in wide-eyed acknowledgement of what I had just heard. Her first words spoken clearly, appropriately and without anger or frustration, were: “Oh shit!”

So, somewhere along the way she had learned that if a person dropped something on the floor, the accurate verbal response would be: Oh shit.
Lovely! And what? the mom of the year award should be delivered right here please!!

Maybe scenario B isn’t so far-fetched a scenario after all! And a one-way ticket to a foreign, remote land of the lost for me, please!!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Model Me Kids Training Videos: Building Self-Esteem & Bully Prevention

I received this newsletter from Model Me Kids and thought I would share...

Coming July 2009: New Video Modeling DVD! Model Me Confidence™Building Self-Esteem & Bully Prevention Techniques

A social skills training DVD based on peer modeling for children and teenagers with Autism, Asperger Syndrome, PDD-NOS, and Nonverbal Learning Disorder.

See Previews Here

Topics Include:1. Self-Advocacy 2. Peer Pressure 3. Choosing Friends 4. Building Strengths 5. Visualization 6. Positive Self-Talk 7. Scripting 8. Stay With Others 9. Telling Isn't Tattling 10. Walk Tall11. Group DiscussionVisit Model Me Kids®

Bonus DVD! The DVD is supplemented by a special video geared towards parents, therapists, teachers, and schools with suggestions for supporting bullying prevention. It features Nick Dubin, an adult with Asperger Syndrome and Autism advocate, and School Psychologist Dr. Erica Edelman.

Btw: have you used these types of training videos? If so, please let us know what you think in the comments..

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Stone Zoo Event Tomorrow for kids

Want to do something unsual this weekend?

Pajama Party at the Zoo!

What if you could come to Stone Zoo – in your pajamas!? This family-friendly program promises to be loads of fun! Registrants will receive special late entry to the Zoo, a night-time snack, special story-time, a craft project, and up-close encounters with our hyacinth macaw and prehensile-tailed skink!

This very special evening will be held May 29 from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Stone Zoo Animal Discovery Center. The cost is $8 per participant, $4 for each additional participant. Advance registration is required. For more information, please call 617-989-3742 or send an e-mail to To learn more about Stone Zoo, visit