Guest Post: You Never Know What Their Quirks Will Become

Today’s post started life as an email that my friend Jacquie sent to the autism parenting group that we both belong to.

Jacquie is the mom of two boys, aged 8 and 16, who both have special needs.

Her older son, Eric, has autism. He has his challenges, but as you will see in this post, he is finding his way in the world. I will not say any more – I will let you read for yourself.

8-year-old Justin has RAD (reactive attachment disorder), autism and intellectual delay. He is one of those unreasonably good-looking kids who you just know will be making girls swoon as soon as he (and the girls) hit puberty.

And Jacquie? Well, she’s just a fabulous friend and a fantastic mom. I am immensely grateful to her for allowing me to share this story of Eric. To special needs parents like myself, this is really a story of hope.

Without further ado… over to Jacquie.




When Eric was a baby, the only way you could soothe him was singing.

When Eric was a toddler, he used to stand in the windowsill of his bedroom’s gigantic window and listen to a cassette of kid’s songs sung by kids over and over.  When the tape ended, he would scream until someone came and turned it over and pressed ‘play’ again.  Then he’d scream until we got the hell out of the room.

When Eric was a preschooler, he’d sit in front of Windows Media Player and watch the visualizations you could choose to go along with the music that was playing.  He’s spend hours just watching these graphics move and change with the music.  God forbid you try to distract him.

When Eric was in kindergarten, he developed a musical crush on Shania Twain.  I still shudder to think of that year.

When Eric was in grade school, he started to make music using free music programs like garage band.  It was awful.  I didn’t have the heart to tell him he sucked.

When Eric got to high school, he asked for a professional-grade music-editing software suite, so we gave him that for Christmas. Subsequently we began seeing him only for meals and The Big Bang Theory.

When Eric had a little experience with production, he asked for a Mac, which has superior music production capabilities.  He was taking guitar lessons, piano lessons, and music classes at school, so we thought it was probably worth it.  Subsequently we began seeing him only for meals.  There are days’ worth of The Big Bang Theory episodes on the PVR that have never been watched.

When Eric was a week younger than he is right now, a Danish music promoter contacted him and, based on the free content Eric has put out on music sites and on the the contests he has won with his compositions, offered him a 6 month contract.

When Eric was 12 hours younger than he is right now, we signed.  Eric is now represented by a dance music label in Denmark.

His songs will go up for sale on iTunes, Spotify, Juno, and Amazon.  This company will help him design his logo, refine his sound, and establish a presence in the market.

When Eric was a little boy, we mourned the way music took him away from the world.  Now he’s bringing his music to the world.

(Photo used with permission of Jacquie VonHunnius).


Why I Will Never Break Up With Facebook


When I first moved to Canada almost thirteen years ago, the world seemed like a very big place. I had a very hard time adjusting to life in a completely new territory where I did not know a single soul. If I felt lonely, I could no longer get into my car and visit my best friend for coffee. I couldn’t drop in on my parents for an impromptu dinner. I couldn’t call anyone to find out who was going to see which movie or have a drink in which bar. Now, if I felt lonely, I had to sit alone in my apartment in this strange land and just deal with it.

I kept telling myself that this had been my own choice. No-one had coerced me into packing my life into checked baggage and moving halfway across the world. But knowing that didn’t make the process any easier.

Desperate for human contact, I turned to my computer and instant-messaged with anyone I could find online. The most oft-sought-out victim of my off-the-boat neediness was my friend Kane in Michigan, who was endlessly patient and kind even though I must have been a complete pain in the you-know-where from time to time.

That was really the first time that my computer gave me much-needed access to a friend, but it certainly wasn’t the last. At some point over the years, Facebook became an everyday part of life for most people. Admittedly, the word “friend” can be a bit of a misnomer where Facebook is concerned, but I have met some fabulous people online who I count as true friends, even though I have never met them in person. These are folks who have helped me through a pregnancy loss, the death of my father, my son’s autism diagnosis, injuries, illnesses, my bouts of mental messed-up-ness, and a number of other things.

Not only has Facebook helped me forge new friendships, it has enabled me to keep in touch with family members, and with friends I have known for a long time.

It has also provided me with access to an entire autism community. On the days when I want to feel that I am not alone, all I have to do is turn on my laptop, and within a few clicks I am having virtual conversations with people who give me advice, information, encouragement, or whatever else I might be needing. If I’m having a really good day, I am able to use my social networks to help other people who might be feeling overwhelmed or discouraged.

Because I’m human, and humans are given to complaining, I do like to hate on Facebook from time to time. I gripe about having to constantly vet my privacy settings, I lament about unsubstantiated myths and rumours being perpetuated, I whine whenever my timeline’s appearance changes. But at the end of the day – as much as I hate to admit it – I have become reliant on Facebook. Because through Facebook, I can reach so many people who really and truly matter to me.

(Photo credit: jurvetson. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.)



Today’s post is in honour of a very special person on a very special day.

I have known Margie for about a decade now, and in that time both of our lives have undergone some dramatic changes. We have leaned on each other through difficult times, celebrated accomplishments and engagements, and we’ve both resorted to “tough love” when the other one has been caught using negative self-talk.

Margie and I have never met in person, but we have spoken on the phone, we have exchanged many texts and literally hundreds of emails, and I once watched Snakes On A Plane vicariously through Margie (we instant-messaged through the entire movie while she watched, so I followed the plot without having to actually see the film).

When Margie’s life imploded a few years ago, I was there for her as best as I could be.

And when she started to rebuild her life – showing the most incredible strength, courage and determination – I was her enthusiastic and very willing cheerleader.

Today, Margie is going to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to receive her Bachelor’s degree. She has worked incredibly hard to achieve this, and she has done it while parenting her two boys, holding down a full-time job, and building a solid relationship with her husband-to-be. Not to mention that she done all of this while building herself up from the inside.

I am truly honoured to be able to count myself among Margie’s friends, and I am so grateful that she has allowed me to be along for the ride from then to now.

Congratulations, Margie. May this amazing accomplishment open many doors for you.

(Photo credit: CarbonNYC. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.)