What are they thinking?

About Me

I am the proud mother of 6 children. 5 of our children have autism. We do not feel our world has ended, but just begun. We do not chelate, intervene biochemically, give shots of any kind, practice ABA, etc. We treat them as we treat any humanbeing. We treat them with kindness and respect and expect the same from them. They are exceptional children.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

OH, GROW UP !!!!!

Just kidding.... I have come to a crossroads in my life about what the future holds for my blog. I am definitely not closing this blog, I will update occasionally, but I have decided to steer my energy towards a new blog (which will be about a passion of mine). Before I begin the newest blog in my life, I feel I must update this blog. The blog that let me talk about my kids, vent my feelings and go on my rants about what really ticks me off. This blog, that introduced me to the most fascinating and amazing parents of autistic children and autistic individuals themselves. So, here is my latest update...almost a year since my last.....and boy, have things changed in the O'Donnell house. Caitlin has become gainfully employed by a State Agency. Yes, she is still highly affected by autism, but at the mature age of 22 (next month), she has grown into a mature young woman. and Yes, she still has her outbursts and her need to jump and flap, but she controls herself enough in the work environment to maintain a great job. She was hired through her job training at Goodwill. I cannot say enough about the program she is in and will age out of in June. She is still living at home, which she will continue to do until we can no longer care for her or she no longer wants to be here. Deidre, 19 in May, started college in North Texas in August. She is thriving, to say the least. She lives in a dorm and has the most amazing Suite-mates a mother could ask for. She maintains a 3.9 GPA all while socializing (yes, Aspergians socialize) and helping to run a campaign for a local Democratic politician-much to my Republican dismay. I guess we did raise free-thinking young adults after all. Erin, 16, will begin drivers education with her sister Meaghan in a couple of months. They are very excited. Erin has continued to astound us with her wisdom and knowledge. She is so very smart. At almost 6 feet tall, she carries herself with the grace of a much older soul. Sometiimes she acts too smart, and I gently remind her that some would consider that rude to show your intelligence with such vengeance. She takes voice lessons and from what I am told, she will probably be able to go to college with her voice. Oh yeah, She is still diagnosed with autism, but lost her Special Education services 2 years ago through the school system. Meaghan, 15....what can I say about this young woman? The most beautiful red-headed girl I have ever seen (yes, I am biased). She is probably also the funniest individual I have ever met. With her wit comes intelligence. Enough for her to be inducted into the National Junior Honor Society. Teachers and students love her for her sensitivity and caring attitude towards others. She also does not tolerat bullying one little bit. Patrick, 13-egads, already a teenager. He is in the 7th grade and has more friends than I can count. He is active in his select baseball team and loves playing. They even named an award after him for persavering through all obstacles. He maintains good grades and was awared Student of the Month in November. He is getting tall like his daddy and just as handsome. He also lost Special Education services, yet still has the label of Autism (though not in the school system). He is virtually indistinguishable from his peers (but middle schoolers are not that tolerable, if you know what I mean). and Kiernan, 12 in March. He is hitting puberty with a the speed of sound. He has had some regressions since starting middle school. We are working hard with him, slowly but surely we will get there. He is still non-verbal, and yes, still wears a pull-up. According to certain parents, this makes him less, but this young man is anything but less. He will get potty trained eventually. We just need to work on the behavior issues at hand right now. He is making wonderful grades and the teachers love him. Patrick and myself are doing well for being married for over 21 years. I started working full time at a job I love (something I did over 20 years ago). We all try to see Deirdre as often as we can....we miss her so much. The house is still wonderful. We have tried real hard to maintain the home and have made a couple of changes to the kids rooms as they grew up. Our home is still full of friends and family, with the exception of my mother. My Mother passed away in late May from a stroke. On that day, our world changed forever. I had to take a step back and grieve as I have never grieved before. One month later, I attended my Uncle Dennis' funeral. So, needless to say, last Summer sucked. To end this I will only say, after catching up with the Autism forums this weekend, yep, 2 of our children have lost their special education standing at school, yet still have an autism diagnosis. They did not "outgrow" autism, they are just 2 autistic children who grew up !!!!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Dear Autism....

Dear Autism,

When I first met you, it was over 40 years ago, when as an 11 year old girl, I babysat for the first child I ever was introduced to with you. A beautiful tow-headed little boy with no words and a smile that would melt my heart.
A few years later, when I was hired at a Residential Treatment Center while attending college, I met you again. This time, there were several young women, from their early teens to their mid-40's who taught me the meaning of loving and caring for a person with you.

Well then, Autism, you decided that I was a prime candidate for children with Autism. Yep, not one child, but 6 children, 5 with Autism.
I happily accepted the position of mothering these amazing children.
Through them, I have learned that you, Autism, are not as dreaded and horrible as those who write about you.

Caitlin, our oldest, has just turned 21 years old. She is in a program that teaches her work skills. She is smart and oh so very very funny.
Yep, she will need our care for the rest of our lives...and then she will need to be looked after by someone else after we are gone, but she will have the ability to earn a living and possibly live in a Group Home that will love her as much as we do.

Deirdre, our second, will be 18 in May. She is graduating this year in the top 1/3 of her very large class in her very large high school. She has applied to 5 very large universities throughout the United States and has already been accepted to a highly regarded university in the Northeast....I am so very proud....she even received the Dean's scholarship. She is majoring in Theater Arts and one day, mark my word, you will be sitting in a theater watching her movies. WOW is all we can say about this witty, loving and slightly sarcastic daughter of ours (the sarcasm comes from her parent's BTW) is the diagnosis of Asperger's is not a reason to give up on your child.

Erin, our third, turned 15 last year. Man, this young woman is smart. She is active in many extracurricular activities and has many friends. Including Deirdre, who is in the activities with her. To listen to them talk about Anime' or Writing club or NHS blows me away. This girl will go on to become something amazing...I just know it.

Meaghan, our fourth, is 14. She is what you people call Neurotypical....There is nothing about her that is like anyone else.
With her red hair and blue eyes against her pale skin..she catches the eye of many young boys. She has no interest, thank Goodness...right now, she wants to be the best cupcake maker EVER !! No doubt she will succeed.

Patrick, our fifth and first-born son. He is now 12 years old. What once was a child who was afraid to do anything without me, has become so independent. Not only is he on one baseball team, he was asked personally to join another due to his dedication to the team he was on, and his ability to remain calm when the other kids are acting up.
I was so worried when he went into Middle School (after losing his Special Education diagnosis with his school district. He has become a strong-willed little man. He still struggles with some things, but his determination will get him through anything.

And then, Autism, you gave us Kiernan. He is our soon-to-be 11 year old boy. He is our most affected with you.
That does not keep him from being the smartest, most charming child anyone has ever met.
Because he does not speak, you do not keep his feelings hidden. He shows everyone, in other ways, how smart he is and how loving of a young boy he is.
Kiernan continues to make straight A's in school and will be attending Middle School with his brother next year. Kiernan, like his oldest sister, will more than likely require continuous care himself. This is not an easy thing to talk about, but we must face his future with optimism and hope that there are people out there that will love him as much as we do.

Geesh, the year's have flown by.....

So, Autism, you have been twisted and formed by so many people who want you to be something you are not...

I, personally, am happy they are changing the DSM.
When this happens, we will lose 3 off of the spectrum. 2 who were diagnosed as severely autistic by the time they were 3 years old, and are now considered Aspergian's.

Our 3 who will lose their diagnosis with the new criteria will be fine out in this quirky little world of ours. They will all fit in and be amongst the Neurotypical with no one noticing one little bit.
You know why....
There is no such thing as "NEUROTYPICAL"...

We all have our quirks and funny little behaviors...how else do you think there are so many strange reality shows?

Yes, Autism, I have been away from the Autism forums for a while...I am much more sane in my world than their petty, bickering little area of life.
My children need me to mother them, not have my head in the computer trying to prove how "RIGHT" I am all of the time. I will leave the "Right-fighting" to those with the anger and the time to do so.

Yes, Autism, I have stepped away from my blog, so I can focus on my full-time job as a mother and my other full-time job in the travel industry I love so much.

Autism, you do not define my children, you are just a label put on them by doctors.
You are not their souls or most importantly, you are not their hearts. Those belong to them and to those around them that love them as much as we do.

You have taught me to be a more patient mother, to be calm when they are not, to fight for their educations, to teach them that some people are just not so nice (but that usually means they are so very unhappy themselves).
Through you, my children have taught me humility, compassion and the ability to not give up no matter what.

This may sound funny to some, but frankly, I do not care....

Thank you !!!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Age (s) of Autism.... I Couldn't Resist :)

I have amazing news..news that I cannot hold back any longer!

Our daughter Erin, age 14, was diagnosed with severe Autism in November of
1997. She was the "worst case of autism" our pediatric neurologist had ever
seen...and he had already seen our oldest daughter Caitlin.

Erin started pediatric intervention when she was 13 months old. She actually
had 3 therapist work with her because she was so difficult.
Feces, soap, detergent, lotion, toothpaste, etc...was smeared all over our house.

When she started PPCD classes at 3, they were told..."you think Caitlin is bad, wait
til you meet Erin"...

Erin thrived...she blew these teachers away.

Erin, this week, no longer meets the criteria for Autism in the Austin Independent
School district.
Erin, this year, has been inducted into the National Junior Honor Society...
Erin, this year, was on the President's list of 8th grade students...

Our 11 year old son, Patrick, was diagnosed with Autism in January of 2002.
He had early intervention at 11 months of age and qualified for PPCD at 3 years
of age.
Like Erin, he thrived in school.

2 weeks ago, at Patrick's Transition ARD to Middle School (OMG..Middle School),
Patrick was released from Special Education Services.

Yep...we have 2 children who have opted out of services in AISD.

I credit inclusion and some of the most amazing therapist who have worked with
the throughout the years.

You will not read about these children on Age of Autism...they were not "cured" or
Their stories will not sell medicine or make a doctor famous.
They would be disgusted with a "woe is me" story.
They will not sell a book...although they should.

Are they no longer Autistic.?
They are able to be indistinguishable from their peers in the school setting.

They are amazing kids. They have both learned how to be tolerant and calm
in situations they have no control over.
Hell, you try to sit in a school cafeteria without losing you mind !!

At home, we still let them be them...but, we could not be happier with whom they have
become !!

Congrats to our two 2011 graduates...Erin and Patrick....you will change the World!!

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Life seems to be coasting along and then suddenly, with the blink of an eye...it all changes.
Last Wednesday, March 16, 2011, my Mother collasped in her home. After many tests, they finalized she had a mini-stroke or TIA.
My mom will be 74 in April. She works full-time and drives everywhere. She travels extensively and has the same group of friends she has had since elementary school.
Now, this has all changed...with the snap of a finger!
She is now reliant on people to walk, sit up, eat and even go to the bathroom.
It is heart-breaking to look into her eyes and see how she has come to realize that her life will be changing.
Her short-term memory has suffered, yet she can remember things from over 60 years ago. They say this is common with at stroke.
Her balance is off and her stamina is so much shorter.
Her near future is still left to be determined as far as where she will live and how she will occupy her free time...
But, I am thankful she is still here !!!

Needless to say, our lives have been altered as well as my Mom's.
I have changed my work schedule thanks to my amazing bosses, who have worked with
me so I can be with my Mom every day.
I put Kiernan on the bus at 6:30 am and am to work by 7:00 am.
I am off at 3:30 pm and head straight to the hospital, where I stay until
8:00 or 9:00 pm. Then home I go!!
Patrick has taken over the cooking and every day running of the house.
On weekends, we have our regular functions; ie, Little Patrick's baseball, Deirdre's
church functions, and this last weekend, Caitlin's Special Olympics---she won
a Silver medal in bowling, etc.
Some of the children go with me on the weekend to visit their MeMaw..those that can
handle a few hours at the hospital.
Usually a couple on Saturday and a couple on Sunday.

Having raised 6 children, 5 on varying levels of the Autism Spectrum, I have a great amount of patience. I pride myself on my husband's and my patience level. We have been tested numerous times in our 20 year marriage.
This past 2 weeks, I have been reminded how very strong our bond is. Through Patrick's stregnth, I have found my own.
Our children have all stepped up to the plate as well. They are well-behaved and helping out around the house.
They all have matured so very well and we are so proud of the young adults they are becoming.

Caitlin, our oldest and Kiernan, our youngest and most affected by autism, have raised to this challenge as well. They are remaining calm and happy during this big change in their life.

I am sure, no matter what lies ahead on the next chapter of our lives, we will continue to be the strong family unit we always have been.
I have been inspired by many this past 2 weeks:
-My family for coming together and allowing me to be with my Mom as much as possible.
-My work place...which I love so very much, for allowing me to readjust my schedule and
for caring about me and my mom enough to do so.
-My friends..for rallying together and making my life a bit less stressful than it should be...and shame on you (you know what I mean!!)
and most of all..
-My MOM, for showing me what it means to fight hard and never give up. To persevere beyond
all odds and to keep fighting for your dignity and your health.

You all inspire me to be a better me...and I thank you all for that !!

Friday, January 21, 2011


With all of the HOOPLA going on this past 2 weeks about the fraud reported about the MMR vaccine and Autism...
we, the O'Donnell family...have gone about with life with Business
as Usual...

Our children...all 6 of them, 5 with Autism...have continued to thrive.
All while many changes have gone on...

This week, I decided to catch up on the old forums I used to visit....
I tried to contribute, but honestly, why bother ???
Diane is still bitching and moaning (but thank the Lord she has found SpellCheck), AIR is still sure she was not duped by the goings on of the Mercury Militia, and so on..
Nobody keeps insisting they are Somebody..but, frankly, they are still Nobody!

The good folks at AoA are still insisting that this whole fiasco is propaganda
started by the good ol' USA...and they should know about Propaganda!

Poor George Stephanopoulos decided to take on the doctor the Mercury Militia love so very much...he did not understand the backlash that they would bestow upon him..
George was accused of not even reading the Doctors book...how in the heck would these people know if he did or did not read a book...do you have spies that go that far into a person's life?
If you do, believe me, it would not surprise me at all !!

I received a Kindle for Christmas from my wonderful husband. My first purchase was
Kim Stagliano's book...I actually did not hate it..but,there was one comment she made that I must question..
She stated AoA was started and they would welcome comments...what she did not say was they would welcome comments ONLY if you agree with AoA...she also did not mention that they would hunt down the commenters that disagree with them ( I do not have to elaborate..they know what I mean)..the email witch hunts they do are brutal...
I also notice AoA has changed it's format..they went from looking like the blog they are to a more newspaper kind of format...I guess they think this will make people take them more seriously...
but, SERIOUSLY...they are still just a blog people !!

My second book I bought..The Panic Virus...by Seth Mnookin....thanks Seth, I really hope these desperate parents listen to you...better than that...I hope the doctors who have duped these parents listen more..
Seth dug deep into all the hysteria that surrounds the Mercury/Autism connection. He did this without having anything invested in Autism. He did not write this book to sell a vaccine. He is not riding on the coattails of parent's desperate for a cure or a recovery.

We have people who believe their Autistic children have been cured by listening to Jenny McCarthy and JB, even while their own children are still in Special Education receiving services....

I have a friend who is seeing a local doctor who scoped her child..you guess who the doctor is...she regrets getting involved with this center...but, has invested so much money and emotion..she has been resolved to think they would not lie to her...
she is far too invested...her son is still Autistic...she was told she started too late to help him....SHAME ON THEM !!!

I am so proud of my family.
We wake up every morning...the kids go to school (where they excel, BTW)...Patrick and I work full time...and we join together as a family every night...
All of the kids have extra-curricular activities, with the exception of Kiernan.
Caitlin won a gold medal in bowling at The Special Olympics, she was so proud, as were we of her.
We have family and friends over every weekend...
we carry on..
Business as Usual !!!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

NEW YEAR...!!!

2010 came with a whole slew of changes in our lives...

I started a new position at work...which I love !!! I work with people
whom I love to see every day, and I hope they feel the same way about me !!

I turned 50 years old in November and was thrown a terrific surprise party
full of Old friends and New friends....
Shortly after that, I took a few of the kids to the Domain (a funky mall by our
house)...we were there to take a few coats to the Coats for Kids drive.
I had ulterior motives...Every morning I listen to a local radio station. The
very funny on-air personality "Heather in the morning" had spoken about her autistic
son going to Florida with her husband and daughter. However, she never said how
he did...the son, I mean...
So, Heather in the morning was going to be at the Coats for Kids drive...and me...being nosy (I like to call it inquisitive) wanted to find out how her son
did on the flight.
I saw a beautiful, nicely dressed woman approaching the table they were setting up
for the coat drive..I yell, " Are you Heather in the morning"? She politely
said she was....
I say, "So, how did your son do ? I need to know".
She told me how he did....
We started talking and soon she was hanging out with me, Deirdre, Erin, Meaghan and little Patrick...
We exchanged phone numbers and I am thrilled to say...her family is now a part of
our family....!!!

Caitlin is in the Goodwill Go Project and doing amazingly well. She is well-loved and the star of the program I am told. She works hard and loves going into work.

Deirdre has been inducted into the National Honor Society....I am so very proud. She volunteers often and even took a baby sitting job at the elementary school. GO DEE !!

Erin has blossomed socially and has many friends that share her interests. She loves the friends in her life...she even thinks of them when shopping. She continues to get straight A's and will be starting High School next year...oh my...time flies !!

Meaghan turned 13 years old on Saturday. She is such a mature young lady...with a quick wit and incredibly funny !!! She has so much of her daddy and my humor...I don't know if that is good or bad...but she is hilarious. She is also incredibly beautiful with her huge blue eyes and red hair.

Little Patrick turned 11 in December. He is finishing out his 5th grade year and will begin Middle School in August. He still plays baseball and wants to play football next year-I am still debating that one. He makes As and Bs and is loved by the whole school.

Kiernan is in 4th grade and making great strides. He is still non-verbal but has a voice non-the-less. He knows what he wants and makes sure you understand. He has a straight A report card and glowing remarks about his behavior.

Patrick and I work very hard to make this family work. We have children who most people would have given up on. We have children who some would want to alter or "fix", because they would be looked up on as broken....

The past couple of weeks the Autism community has been more divided as ever. With the conclusion that a certain British, used-to-be Doctor altered his findings and committed fraud (their words, not mine)..those on the side of the Mercury Militia will always believe that he was correct. They are far too invested financially and emotionally to turn back now. It really does not matter what is proven...minds will not be changed..and that is the sad fact about that.
People would rather believe a "has-been" B-movie actress who touts Bo-tox and breast implants, but screams that vaccines are bad....I cannot even fathom that intellect !!

So, here I sit typing...I have missed blogging, but my life has truly been busy. Our children are thriving and growing up. They are maturing and are quite actually amazing young adults and children. Between baseball, choir, band and orchestra...the Anime' and German clubs...and countless recitals and ball games...well, you get the gist !

With all the hysteria that went through the Autism community and the treatments that were thrown out to parents with autistic children...I am so glad my husband and myself did not buy into it....
Our children have thrived without the creams, shots (be it B12 or Lupron), chambers, scopes (ouch), chelation and countless number of pills shoved down their throats....
They have thrived with hard working educators, therapists, friends and family...
they have worked hard to be in the places they are...
And I would not want them anywhere else !!

Thursday, October 14, 2010


I went to help Caitlin after her bath tonight....
I have a strained voice from my cold so I am not speaking in my normal

Caitlin said, "You're voice is sick !!"
I said, "Just a cold Caitlin, but Thanks"..
Caitlin said, "I will share my cough drops with you"...!!!

To the studies that state there is no Empathy with AUTISM...

YOU have not met MY children....!!!!

I know Short but Sweet...!!!
BUT...worth telling !!!