Category Archives: parent support

Miracles of Goodness


When I look at my son and see the huge strides he’s made in his life, I know there is good in the world.

When I talk with parents who will do anything to help their child with autism spectrum disorder, I know there is good in the world.

When I work with teachers who have students with ASD in their classrooms—and they just want more tips on making the experience a better one for the student—I know there is good in the world.

When outsiders take an interest in my son because they sense his passion and talent, I know there is good in the world.

When my friends with neurotypical kids take an interest in my neurodiverse kid, I know there is good in the world.

When I can fill a room with parents of kids with various spectrum disorders and we can all bond and gain strength from each other, I know there is good in the world.

Tomorrow we begin a New Year. Let’s find something positive, something good in each day. And by this time next year we’ll have 365 more miracles of goodness in our lives. Here’s to 2016!



Leveling the Playing Field

grad blog

Today, when my son walks up to receive his diploma at his high school graduation, his peers and teachers and friends in the audience will see a mature, man-child strutting across the stage—and if I guess correctly, he’ll punch the air a few times, too, in complete exhilaration—but only those who knew him when he was young will truly see the transformation. The miracle.

The entire day represents the culmination of 15 years of hard work, tears, preparation, frustration, desperation, exasperation, triumph and more.

Technically, it means he fulfilled all the course credit requirements put forth by our school district. Fulfilled them. He completed 230 credits—and 25 more for good measure. And by the way, he earned a 3.8-something GPA. He made the honor roll and he’s graduating with Honors. He passed the CAHSEE the first time he took it, too! He even took some Honors classes. Sorry, but this mom has got to boast.

He lettered in marching band for four years, my drummer boy.

This child who couldn’t speak at four years old has been the voice of the movie critic—Foothill Film Fanatic—for his campus newspaper—KnightLife.

This child who didn’t walk until he was 16 months old and couldn’t hold a pair of scissors in his hand plays piano, types a movie blog and bangs his snare drum in the marching band—never out of step.

This child who didn’t know how to be around others or how to appropriately interact with others became the president of the Sci-Fi Club at school—and organized his own Monday Movie Madness film club with friends over the summer.

He’s endured so much to get to this point. Quite frankly, I’m in awe of his willingness to keep trying and not give up. No matter how anxious he gets. For too much of his young life he’s been reminded that he’s ‘different from everyone else.’ We never quite understood why that was such an issue.

He’s learned coping skills for socialization issues. He’s tested for and passed his California driver’s license. He’s attended high school dances, football games, student clubs and activities. And he’s part of the digital video production team.

He volunteers in his community, has made two short films and co-authored a book.

My late-speaking child says it so eloquently: ‘If people could just look beyond my autism, they’d see me for who I really am.’

Well, I’m glad my son is different from the others. But obviously today he isn’t all that different. Today he is graduating high school just like all his peers. Right alongside them. Today the playing field is level. Finally.

Look out world, the best of Drew is yet to come!


SPECIAL EDITION: ARM Teams Up with UCP-OC on June 25!

UCP logo


There will be a SPECIAL EDITION of ARM’s A Heart-to-Heart With Mom on Thursday, June 25, 2015 from 10am to Noon at UCP of Orange County.

For more information or to RSVP, please contact Helen Simpson:  949-333-6413 or Click here to see flyer.

Ending My Relationship with the IEP.

I don’t know about you, but I have an IEP coming up. And it’s a big one. I want to be ready. Panic was starting to set in. FearfulThen I came across this article.

10 Ways To Have More Fun At Your IEP Meeting

1. Wear costumes. On the meeting invitation, say, “Festive Dress Required.”
2. As an equalizer, require all attendees to wear Groucho glasses.
3. Require all attendees to bring a musical instrument.
4. Provide refreshments: Jalapeno Cheetos and red Kool-Aid.
5. Invite Hillary Rodham Clinton. List her name on the cover sheet.
6. Try this introductory exercise: If you were a color, what color would you
be and why?
7. Play background music — anything by Frank Zappa.
8. Give everyone a set of five flash cards to be used as the mood strikes:

  • Who invited him?
  • I love your hair! Where did you get it done?
  • I’m sure we can trust that this will get worked out.
  • Does the law have any bearing on this?
  • Excuse me for 10 minutes while I can call my lawyer.

9. Have the TV in the room tuned to the Court Channel.
10. Keep score. Give a really nice door prize to the IEP team member
(parents excluded) who makes the most positive comments about your child.
Award grand prize to the IEP team member who makes the most negative
comments about your child — the winner gets to provide 36 hours of respite
care, in their home, to your child.

Thanks to Cynthia and Aaron Bissell  of Aaron’s Tracheostomy Page for sharing the IEP humor. It was exactly what I needed to “take the edge off.”

I’m trying to remember our very first IEP meeting, but I’m struggling. It’s been many years. And countless meetings. Often, we were fortunate to have knowledgeable, understanding administrators and school personnel who were mainly concerned with our child’s best interest. Sometimes we needed to wrangle them in if they veered astray.


Now, as we ready ourselves for our big finale, the last IEP meeting of our lives, I want to leave you parents with a few handy tips. Insights I wish I had over the past 10 or 12 years.

Always remember that an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) is an opportunity to customize your child’s education. Use it to your advantage! It ends when the student graduates–upon receipt of a diploma or certificate.

4dIEP TIPS: If I Knew Then What I Know Now

  1. Always enter each IEP meeting with a typed page of your Parent Concerns. If any of the listed items can become part of the formal IEP, that’s excellent. For those that cannot, at least you’ve made them part of the official record that is filed.
  2. positive, supportive attitude goes a long way. Let teachers know you want to partner collaboratively with them to help your child be the best he can be.
  3. Make sure that every person making decisions about your child knows your child. If the person has never spent time with your child, ask that he or she do so first.
  4. Strategically plan for your child’s triennial IEP to coincide with senior year. That way, the student exits high school with current assessments and evaluations.
Fortunately, you’ll have some new tools available after attending our IEP workshop on April 28 with Danielle Wiltchik, M.A., Special Ed. Click here to REGISTER NOW!

See You at A Heart-to-Heart with Mom on Thursday, April 9 at 7pm


This Thursday, April 9. There are still some spots available.

Click here to register!

Come and share, learn, connect, laugh and most importantly, find out that you’re not alone.

Ain’t it good to know that you’ve got a friend?

Friendship is a topic many parents with kids on the autism spectrum deal with on a daily basis. And, in most cases, we know it’s not too many friends or even the “wrong” friends. More often than not it’s simply “my kids don’t have friends.” Or “they can’t keep friends.” If the definition of a friend is someone who calls or texts our kids, hangs out with our kids, wants to spend their free time with our kids … well, honestly, how many true friends do our kids have?

Yes, friendship is a sore topic.

I had a best friend when I was growing up. I could count on her to be there for me. Always. We did everything together. We rode bikes. We went to the store. We walked to and from school and ate lunch together. You know the routine. And we even fought with each other. But we always made nice again. In 10th grade she let me borrow her Elton John “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” album which I listened to non-stop. She even loaned me her navy pinwale corduroy Levis which I absolutely loved [and my mom wouldn’t buy for me].

Selfishly, I wish my kid could experience that same bonding. But I have to be mindful of the fact that just because it made me happy to have that friendship, my son might not necessarily have that same need. But still …

Fortunately, parents can learn how to help their kids make and keep friends from an expert at the upcoming ARM Parenting & Sharing Workshop on Tuesday, March 24, 2015. Click here to register.

See you at A HEART-TO-HEART WITH MOM on Thursday, Mar. 12!


It’s time for another Heart-to-Heart with Mom roundtable discussion.

This Thursday, March 12. There are still some spots available.

Click here to register!

Come and share, learn, connect, laugh and most importantly, find out that you’re not alone.

Let’s Talk Autism

ARM’s Debora L. Smith will be a guest on the Let’s Talk Autism w/ Shannon and Nancy online show on on Wednesday, Feb. 11 at 11:15 am PST. Tune in for the online interview.

LetsTalkAutism with Shannon & Nancy-Wednesdays @ 11am(PST) -

A HEART-TO-HEART WITH MOM | A few seats left!

Don’t miss our roundtable discussion on Thursday, Feb. 12.

Click here for details.

Be Mine

Myth: People on the autism spectrum cannot feel or express love or empathy.
Fact: Many — in fact, most — people with autism are quite capable of feeling and expressing love, though sometimes in quirky ways. Further, many people with Autism Spectrum Disorder are far more empathetic than the average person, though they may express their empathy in unusual ways.

Love You, Two!



Free College Prep Workshop for Parents of Teens with Autism

Avoiding the Lows of Higher Education

Preparing your child for a successful college experience. A workshop for parents of young people with high-functioning autism.

Details and ticket information here.

Featured guest:  John Kelly, M.Ed., Academic Coordinator with College Living Experience-Costa Mesa.

See you there!