Light it Up, Softly

Sensory issues are often the crux of the symptoms of autism spectrum disorders, and because most people spend their waking hours with their eyes open, visual problems are often the most tiresome. Light sources, rather natural or manmade, can be a blessing or curse for those with this sensitivity. 100_4588

In the U.S., we’re on the verge of a possible lighting crisis. The turn of the New Year will mark another reduction in light bulb options, closing the choice of yet more incandescent bulbs at stores around the country. Fluorescent lights, whether long strip bulbs or the compact swirly ones (which are terrible for the earth—read the disposal warning on them), are often visual triggers for susceptible people. The flicker, harsh glow, and even the hum of the offending bulbs can cause headache, eye fatigue or emotional meltdowns for those with sensory difficulties.

The same thing happened, not long ago, in the United Kingdom. You can read one account of it here. http://www.autism.org.uk/working-with/leisure-and-environments/architects/light-sensitivity-and-autism.aspx

This an important situation for me, as myself and loved ones suffer from light sensitivity. Ben, one of the main characters in CORRODED (one of my fictional labors of love, yet-to-be-published stories) has to deal with this as well. Here’s a little peek, from Chapter Ten, when Mary and Ben are at his house playing a round of Battleship.

“You never explained to me why you don’t go outside during the day,” I said.
“I go outside. Remember the first day we met? I sat on the porch with you and your mom.”
“Oh… well, then why don’t you go for walks and stuff?” I asked.
“I’m sensitive to sunlight.”
“Like, you burn easily?”
Ben shook his hands like he was air-drying them. “No, it’s my eyes. Bright sunlight causes sensory overload and I can barely function. Fluorescent light does the same thing. It’s common for Aspies.”
I looked up at the soft white glow of the over-head lights. “So, going to schools and office buildings must be difficult.”
“The worst. That’s one of the reasons I homeschool. If I do have to venture out for a medical appointment or something I wear sunglasses inside.”

Diva of the Day

As noted in the previous post, my family attended a wedding in June. We drove 800 miles to central Illinois to see my sister-in-law’s union to her boyfriend of several years. Hooray for them!
A family road trip with three kids is one thing.
Having your four-year-old diva surpass half a dozen meltdowns in one day is another!
I warned them, truly I did.
But I’m not sure they believed the level of Drama Queen perfection my child can reach. Then the wedding day struck. I sent her ahead of me with her cousin so she could keep her hair appointment with the other girls in the wedding party.100_3102
A few hours later there was a phone call during the worst—not the first—fit asking for me to try calming her down while in the back ground I heard “someone needs to get her to breath so she doesn’t start hyperventilating.” Needless to say, I arrived soon after.100_3121
I will say that she did well during the ceremony, it was just those meltdowns before—and one or two after—that brought out many “candid photo ops” as the professional photographer called them.
The wedding wouldn’t have been complete without the cake and flowers. My in-laws are fabulously talented.100_3148
One of the good memories of road life is the down time on the way there and back. In closing, here’s a photo of the oldest (autism spectrum son) doing what he loves best at bedtime.100_3226

Nourish Your Goals

Did you catch my post earlier this month about ferns? I didn’t have to wait for the summer heat to test me or the fern.
This past Sunday I had a minor freak-out about my writing goal—finishing the first draft of FORTITUDE—while I’m in my seventh month of waiting to hear back from publishers about CORRODED.
First draft goals can be hair-pulling. Waiting to hear back from the publishing industry, also nerve-racking. The two together equals fighting for sanity on at least a weekly basis.
Enter mini-meltdown.
While venting my concerns to MeLeesea Swann via chat room, she gave me the little “you can do it” and “don’t stress the numbers” and “it will happen” friendly feedback that can be easy to dismiss during epic stress moments. But then she hit me with something that made me laugh so loud I scared my kids.

DON’T LET YOUR FORTITUDE GET CORRODED.

Personalized prospective was all I needed. I shared the quote with family and our other writing friends. I even printed out copies of it on purple paper and hung them up around the house to remind me.
Then Monday morning happened.
I went outside to finish up some weeding. When I passed my little fern on the water oak, it looked like this:

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ARGH! My little plant of hope, though surrounded in soft, green moss was withering away. If the fern couldn’t make it, then I might be able to keep my goals. Then I thought of fortitude being corroded and grabbed the hose. I soaked that thing and went on with my other yard work.
An hour later, no change.
Two hours, nothing.
Three hours, it looked slightly better.
About five hours later, it was back to this.

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What can you do to keep your dreams alive? Be sure to involve a support system.

Soggy Blog

Yawn. It’s close to bedtime but I haven’t written anything more than a few e-mails and a FaceBook status today. The need to put thoughts into words, to feel the letters and spaces flow effortlessly through my finger tips, was too difficult to ignore.
Sometimes I feel the need to write on paper. The mesh of print/cursive—that I was always corrected by the students for using when substituting in elementary school—is therapeutic some days. Especially when using one of my favorite Profile Paper Mate pens. The act of moving the pen over paper is art itself.
But other times, like tonight, I need the soft music of the keyboard—the gentle sound created is just enough to fill the void on a finally quiet night. Seeing the words fill the screen allows me to feel that I’m accomplishing something, even though I cheat and use a size 14 font.
It’s been a long day. From standing in line at the local Wal-Mart Supercenter for 30 minutes because their debit/check/credit card server was down to having to rush to a pediatrician appointment for the princess (no worries, it was her two year check-up) to dealing with the oldest child’s meltdown (and not backing down on the repercussions.) Yes, it’s been a long day!
And why am I blabbing about nothing? I suppose it’s about writing and life, as usual, but there is a deeper meaning behind this blog.
PROCRASTINATION.
Plain and simple. I’m avoiding my W.I.P. because I’ve spent over a month working on a short story. And this past week I’ve added a non-fiction magazine article to the mix so Corroded has been wilting in the heat of the southern summer. Well, hopefully its smoldering, but I feel so removed from it that I can’t help but think it’s less than it was… that I’m not able to return to the hundred plus pages without the storyline falling into the abyss of flatly written mush.
So, instead I choose to write a squishy blog. At least I’ve filled up a page in my document file. Any writing counts, right?
And to go along with this soggy puddle, here’s the first poem I have record of writing, way back at eleven years old.
Trees
Trees grow, very slow. By the sea and by me. They grow in lawns and by ponds. Very slow do they grow.