I Judged People for Grammar and Spelling Errors. This Changed My Mind.

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I admit it; I used to judge people when they made spelling or grammatical errors. I’d think to myself, “Did no one ever teach you the difference between their, they’re, and there? Why are they putting quotation marks around that random word? Do you not get it, or are you just too lazy to proofread your work?”

Frequently I’d feel vaguely confused, because this “lazy” idea was inconsistent with other qualities I’d seen in that person. “I don’t get it,” I’d wonder. “She seems so creative and smart and conscientious… Why can’t she spell?” But I’d still end up shrugging my shoulders and proceeding on my self-satisfied, smug little way.

Then, a couple years ago, I found out my intelligent, hard-working and determined young daughter had dyslexia, an unexpected difficulty in reading which, research shows, is completely unrelated to intelligence. Dyslexia makes it difficult for people not only to learn to read, but to spell and master certain other rules of language. Yet if anyone ever dared say or even think my little girl was “just not trying,” I would have an overwhelming impulse to set them straight — and not using my “inside voice,” either.

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As my understanding of my daughter and dyslexia have unfolded, I’ve become silently mortified and ashamed of all those “holier than thou” thoughts I’ve had over the years.  Perhaps some of those I’d been misjudging (even if they never knew I was doing so) had dyslexia. The fact that the people I’d misjudged misspelled words or omitted punctuation had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with their intelligence or their work ethic. In fact, these very same people were often brilliant at things I’m not. So take that, me.

To all of those people, I would like to take this opportunity to say, I am so sorry! I had no idea. I was ignorant, and I was being a jerk. But I’m done. I am officially resigning from the grammar police squad. And to all you remaining grammar snobs, grammar police officers or however you fancy yourselves  may I suggest you tread gently, both out loud and in your mind, when you notice spelling and grammatical errors other people make?

Finally, if you are an adult with dyslexia, I hope that if you’re not already comfortable talking about it, you can begin to move in that direction. People need to understand what dyslexia is, and that if you misspell words or omit a comma now and then, there’s a good reason for it, and that reason has nothing to do with how smart or diligent you are or the incredible strengths or gifts you have. It’s dyslexia; end the shame.

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A version of this post originally appeared on Jeniferkasten.com.

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This Man Invented a Font to Help People With Dyslexia Read

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A new typeface is making life easier for people everywhere who live with dyslexia.

Christian Boer, 33, is a Dutch graphic designer who created the font that makes reading easier for people, like himself, who have dyslexia, according to his website. Now, he’s offering it to people for free.

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The typeface is called “Dyslexie,” and Boer first developed it as a final thesis project when he was a student at the Utrecht Art Academy in the Netherlands. The font makes reading easier for people with dyslexia by varying the letter shapes more, making it harder to confuse similarly shaped letters like “b” and “d,” for example.

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Dyslexia is a language-based processing disorder resulting in a learning disability often characterized by difficulties with accurate word recognition, decoding and spelling, according to the National Center for Learning Disabilities.

Research suggests that about 17 percent of the population has dyslexia, according to PBS.

Watch the video below to hear more about how “Dyslexie” works:

Boer hopes the font will create more awareness around the problem of dyslexia, according to a press release.

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Traditional fonts are designed solely from an aesthetic point of view, which means they often have characteristics that make characters difficult to recognize for people with dyslexia,” his website reads. “Oftentimes, the letters of a word are confused, turned around or jumbled up because they look too similar.”

The font has been proven to get positive results, including a reduction in flipping and mirroring of letters and increased ease in reading for dyslexics. Independent studies at the University of Twente and Amsterdam found that nearly three-quarters of the students surveryed reported making fewer reading mistakes when taking a test written in the font, according to “Dyslexie’s” 2012 research.

To download “Dyslexie,” or for more information, visit this site.

h/t Reddit Uplifting News

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I Would Have Made an Awesome Soccer Mom

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I had a few hours of free time on Sunday, and because I lead a very sexy life, I used the time to clean out my pantry. It’s a little room off my kitchen that has, over the last six years since my son came home, transitioned from a cute, chandeliered office/pantry to an enter-at-your-own-risk-I-can’t-be-responsible-for-what-falls-on-your-head room. It was time.

Photos, party supplies, glue guns, three coffee makers, expired cupcake mix – I sorted and filed and moved and tossed. I was on the last shelf when I yanked down a big, big box marked “ice cream social.” Huh? Two things: one, why do I have a huge box marked “ice cream social”? And two, I don’t even remember being the person who had time to appropriately label stuff in my pantry.

I opened the box, and inside was everything you need for the coolest kid party ever. There was a shake maker, snow-cone machine, cotton candy spinner and a cake pop baker. Long-handled spoons, ice cream bowls and a bright table cloth with ice cream cones printed on it. At the bottom of this box — the cherry on this surprise sundae — was a lime green pedestal that held six small bowls for ice cream toppings. Sitting in the middle of the spinning pedestal was a ceramic cupcake with a removable lid for hot fudge or caramel or strawberry sauce. It was summer and Pinterest and laughing children in one clever serving piece. It was darling.

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I wanted to throw the darling cupcake as hard as I could against the wall.

Instead, I sat down next to the box called “ice cream social” and cried.

I remember this stuff. I bid on it at a silent auction years ago, back when ice cream socials and impromptu play dates and birthday parties had starring roles in my parenting plan. Back before I knew that my son’s meltdowns were not a phase and back when I thought he played by himself because he was shy. Back before I had any idea that I would not be a soccer mom but a special needs mom.

What I have here is a box full of plans for a kid I don’t have. Some days, like today, it makes me sad.

I was crying for my son, but I’ll admit I was also crying for me. Instead of six different ice cream toppings always on hand for my son’s friends, I have an endless supply of pens for his therapists. Instead of being the house that everyone comes to, we are the people that are never home. Instead of bike rides, we have speech therapy; instead of swim parties, we go to OT.

Do I begrudge this? Not ever. But is this what I planned? No. Every once in a while, not very often, but every once in a while, I give myself permission to grieve for the life I don’t have, to think about the mom I don’t get to be.

I wrapped up the cupcake and put it back in the box. One day. Maybe. In the meantime, the sweetest boy in the world was on his way home. As moms go, I think I’m doing OK. Ice cream socials are fun, but my son needs a mom with a backbone, some fight and a strong voice. I’ve got that.

But just so you know, I would have made an awesome soccer mom.

Sincerely,
Becca

This post originally appeared on Sincerely, Becca.

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Why I Kept Taking My Son With Autism to Bounce Houses

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Probably about a 30-minute drive from where we live is a place for kids that’s filled with a variety of different bounce houses. Pay your 13 bucks, get your bounce on — fun fun. With my boy being out of school for Veteran’s Day, I thought we’d go spend part of our day there. After all, for a kid who works as hard as he does on any given day just to learn the things most of us take for granted, he deserves a day of fun — when I can make it happen. So off we went.

The truth is, this place wasn’t always so much fun for my boy. Four years ago, not long after we received our autism diagnosis, I brought him here. The result was a massive meltdown and me in tears, wondering why does it have to be so hard. The price of admission went down the drain. Do most families have to go through what we’ve gone through just to do something as simple as take their kid to a bounce house? No. But then again, we’re not most families.

We’re the family that spends our afternoons in therapy while others are at the ballpark. We’re the family that goes to restaurants on the early side of lunch or dinner to avoid crowds, long waits and potential stares from strangers. We’re the family that robs Peter to pay Paul to pay for therapy that is not covered by insurance in our state. And you know what else? You’d never here anyone in our family say, “Don’t you sass-mouth me!” LOL (a little nonverbal humor for ya). No, we’re not most families, but this is our family. Different, special, unique and one of a kind, and we do the best we can to navigate though a world that isn’t always so understanding of families like ours.

photo 1 During the past four to five years, we’ve made repeated attempts to the bounce house. In the beginning the result was so bad that it took several months between trips to have the courage to go back and try again. The first few times resulted in immediate meltdowns. We’d leave the joint within 15 minutes of arrival, and I’d drive home weeping and be in a funk for days. Over the next year or two, he no longer melted down the second we walked in the door. Instead he would just sit and hang out on the inflatable steps that entered the bounce house, never actually stepping foot inside of it, and we’d leave about 20-30 minutes later. Within another year and couple more trips after that, he went in the littlest house, never venturing out of that one specifically, and seemed to enjoy himself for at the most about 45 minutes. Our progress somewhat plateaued for the next year or so. But over the past year, he started to try one more bounce house, extending our time to an hour. Then the next trip, he’d try another — our time was up too an hour and 15 minutes.

Yesterday, I’m happy to report, he raced inside, clearly happy to be there. He bounced on everything and anything that required air to function properly. And we stayed almost a whopping two hours!

photo 2 (1) Now, had I given up, I would’ve never gotten to witness what I did yesterday. A happy boy, bouncing his heart out — and he got on the Big Daddy of bounce houses. One that had some pretty difficult stairs for him to figure out (He still struggles with hand-eye coordination). He struggled with this one. He looked at me, wanted help, but I couldn’t help him. All I could do was tell him, “Put your feet there, son” and point. Repeatedly, I would try and keep my instructions simple as I watched him struggle. It took a few minutes for him to get it, but he did. By golly he got it! I cheered him on as though he just crossed a marathon finish line. Had I tossed out the idea of ever going back to this place a few years ago, I would have never gotten to see that. I was proud. Proud of him… proud of us. It was over four years in the making.

While I could sit here and attribute this progress to years of therapy, patience, exposure and maturation — all of which contributed of course — the two main things that got us here are these. One, I didn’t give up when he wanted to. And two, more important, I didn’t give up when I wanted to. Buddy, you better believe I wanted to. I would say to myself, “Stupid bounce houses! Who needs you anyway?”

The reality is, no matter what it is on this unique and special journey, whether it’s the ability to talk, potty-train, self-dress, eat new foods, go out in public places, and yes, even something as silly as bounce houses, you’re going to want to give up…

Don’t.

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Why I Don't Have the Luxury of Anger

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You don’t get the luxury of anger as a parent. Anger feeds chaos and disorganization and hate. I don’t get to be angry because my son, Kreed, does this or that or doesn’t do this or that. When I’m angry, it solves nothing. Angry wastes my time. It’s unproductive. It doesn’t make me happier.

It takes away joy. It takes away happiness. It sucks the life out of everything. When I rage in anger at any of my children, inevitably it makes the situation worse. Kreed doesn’t know better. Even if he does, he can’t always comprehend his consequences and his brother, who has Asperger’s, is still unable to see longterm consequences.

I want to be angry at so much. Most people don’t ever hear me talk about this. I’m patient, I’m kind, I teach. I’m that way because I don’t spend a lot of time in anger or wondering what if. As Kreed has taught me to live in the now, it lessens the anger — all I see is what is in front of us right now, and I have to deal with it.

Sure, some people can be angry that then I don’t have these super huge dreams for the future. But why? I can’t predict the future. I can’t change the past. I have my present. I can improve my situation from the past, and I can plan for the future. So I figure it’s win-win.

I could rage against life on how unfair it is to Kreed. I could rage about how I wish our life could be different — that if things had gone differently, he would be driving or dating or thinking about college. But why? It’s not our present. It’s not our life. My life is giving Kreed the happiest life possible and to always, always teach him so he will continue to interact with his environment and people in the way he wants. That’s our life together. I can’t separate my life from his to any meaningful degree because we’re connected on levels most people would never understand.

Can I go out and have fun while he enjoys his respite time? Absolutely. I can leave Kreed for various lengths of time to have a life outside of him. But life is always circular, and after those brief moments of time, everything comes back to how it is daily.

A lot of people fight in the autism world. Some fight against the diagnosis. Some fight about the language of autism. Some fight about the spectrum of autism. Some fight about blessings and curses and vaccines and therapies. At the end of the day you will not see me engage in any of this. Why? It has no bearing on my life with Kreed. It doesn’t matter anymore what started Kreed down this path, only the progression. I don’t care what celebrity has this or that because they don’t live in our life or help in any way. I don’t fight about therapy because Kreed is 17 and we know what works and what doesn’t, and I don’t care if other people do the same or not — our kids aren’t the same. I don’t have the luxury of anger in our life for our actual life so I certainly don’t have the luxury of anger for things that have zero bearing on our life. I’m too busy immersed in the life every day, 24/7 to give a care about what anyone else is doing or how they feel about some celebrity who may or may not be on the spectrum.

I don’t have the luxury of imagining a life that’s different or better. The life is how it is. Whether it’s helping Kreed succeed in communication or his brother to succeed in being independent — they’re the children that were brought into this world with the promise they would be loved unconditionally and supported to fulfill their dreams. It doesn’t matter if autism entered the picture or Asperger’s or Kreed’s thousands of medical issues. It just is. I can’t change it, but I can make things better. 

Some nights I might cry. Some nights I might yell. I’m only human. Some nights I feel numbed out. Caring for Kreed is a 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week job. For life. Some days things go easy. Other days he rages without cause, and I just keep him safe. I always try to figure it out. The more I figure out and teach him, the better he is in the long run. I don’t get angry for long because time is too short and precious for that. 

Then I would miss moments like these:

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Other nights I write blogs like this because I have to find meaning in our life and existence when it seems there’s too much rage and poop or pee or nakedness or days and days of sameness. But it’s not about the moments that make me angry. It’s about the moments that make me happy and him happy.

And I know in the end, our life is enmeshed and for whatever reason we’re working hard to show the world Kreed and what we do to help him be successful. We’re working hard to do what people didn’t think was possible and for people to understand that our kids have no limits. The more I can help Kreed handle his emotions, learn to communicate and enjoy his time out in public, the better our life is over all — this is just fact. So I get up each day anew and strive to make it better than the day before. If I was angry yesterday, I try to find more joy in the new day.

Or I write. I write and I keep it real. I write and I get my feelings out. I write our truth. No one else’s. Just ours. Maybe other people can find commonalities. Or maybe you just love Kreed’s dimples so you read about our journey. But at the end of the day, it’s our truth. Nothing more, nothing less. I will never be pulled into these endless stories that appear in my newsfeed because it’s not part out our truth. At this point in our life, our truth is all I can handle.

And for the boys affected and struggling, I don’t have the luxury of anger because at the end of the day it solves nothing for us. And we need solutions and learning and teaching and happiness and joy. That is our truth.

Editor’s note: It is with a heavy heart we share the news that Kreed passed away on May 8, 2016. Our hearts are with his family, and we’re so grateful to help keep his memory alive on our site. He was truly one of the mighty.

This post originally appeared on Kreed’s World.

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To the Classmates Who Sign Up to Sit With My Son at Lunch

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My son Tate has autism. He’s 13 and in the seventh grade. Tate performs at a grade level far below his peers, academically and socially. I could and should write thank you notes often to each and every one of the teachers and staff involved in Tate’s individualized education. I definitely don’t say it enough. Today, however, I am going to say “Thank you” to the seventh grade class at Baldwin City Junior High School.

There are advantages to living in a small town sometimes. Tate will graduate with a class of approximately 100 students — he began kindergarten with about 20 of them. He had the same kids in his class through third grade. And living in a small town has produced opportunities for us that many families of a special needs child wouldn’t have. I knew all of Tate’s teachers and many of the parents and children. I was often in the classroom and able to educate Tate’s classmates about autism and Tate’s differences. I wanted full disclosure and often asked that the privacy policy be ignored. I talked openly about Tate’s disability and urged teachers to do the same.

From the beginning Tate’s been treated with respect and kindness. His classmates could see he needed help with many things, and there were always lots of willing helpers available. At the end of their first grade year, I thanked the children for being such good friends to Tate and asked them to promise me they would be friends all the way through high school — they’ve kept their promise thus far.

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For five years Tate has had a lunch buddy program so he can receive social instruction from an adult coach while surrounded by peers. In elementary school, students had a chance to sign up to be a part of it with their parents’ permission. There was always a waiting list and never a lack of enthusiasm for eating lunch with Tate. The program has evolved somewhat. Now, for part of the week, Tate sits at a table with peers and no adult. Other days he invites a friend or two to eat with him and a teacher at a smaller table so he can work on social skills. Rarely does a student ask for a rain check. If Tate calls, they answer!

So many children with special needs have to worry about bullies. So many children with special needs are lonely or forgotten. Tate has never been bullied — not even once that I am aware of — and many of his peers call him “friend,” although Tate doesn’t often reciprocate their kindnesses. Tate’s understanding of social skills and reciprocity is greatly lacking. His peers know it, and they accept it. They give, asking nothing in return. They include Tate whenever possible. They help him with tasks that are difficult for him. They teach him and encourage him. They make him feel like one of “the guys.” It doesn’t matter that he comes in last in all the races. I’ve heard them cheer as if he’s crossed the finish line in record time! It doesn’t matter if his presentation is short and simple compared to theirs; they’re excited to see Tate’s achievements even when they’re small.

They treat Tate like he’s a valued member of their class, an equal. For this, I thank them. I thank these students for being kind to Tate and for making his life easier. I thank these students for making my life easier. I don’t have to worry or wonder about Tate while he’s at school because he has friends who look out for him. Thank You Baldwin Bulldogs, class of 2020.

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