Staying Home

It’s an interesting time in the world right now. While there is uncertainty, there is also a slowing down (a breather can be good) and hope–though sometimes you have to search for it. Make the effort to find it–it’s there.

White camellia in bloom last week at Bellingrath Gardens and Home in Mobile County, AL. Camellias are important in The Possession Chronicles.

What’s going on in my life? As a decade-long homeschool veteran, much of daily life is the same. Biggest change is all the extra things we did multiple times a week (martial arts, drama class, church activities, library visits, and such) are not an option right now because of closures. But we still have family study, individual study, and outside/yard activities to keep us busy.

Of course, I’m working everyday things around home, plus writing, social media/reader outreach, and trying to reduce my own reading pile. I have been more active in my readers group–Dalby’s Darklings. Join us if you haven’t yet. We have fun talking about characters, sharing visuals/inspirations, and I’m hosting weekly giveaways leading up to the release of Scarred Memories in April.

Remember, when you subscribe to my monthly newsletter, you can claim a free digital copy of “Masked Flaws”, a Possession Chronicles prequel short story. Be sure to open the welcome email and follow directions on how to claim it–it’s super easy. See https://carriedalby.com/newsletter/ for more information.

In closing, I’d like to send out a big thank you to those still in the workforce, caring for others and supplying needs. May all be well for you and your families at this time and always.

 

Life as I Know It

Sixteen years ago today my oldest was born and things haven’t been the same since. I can’t imagine life without him (or the other two that followed.) We have a special bond, in part because of my husband’s job but also because our personalities are similar. We were solo a lot of the time during his first several years of life, but when he was diagnosed on the autism spectrum at three years old, my world opened up. Without my son, I wouldn’t understand myself as well as I do, my other kids would probably have health issues, and I wouldn’t have found a good percentage of the books I read. His autism has enabled new understanding, peace, and preventative strategies for health and well-being. It’s allowed me to make connections with people I wouldn’t have otherwise met and inspired several of my articles and manuscripts. My son has motivated my life, from writing to relationships, from reading to travel. It’s been a journey of love, with plenty of ups and downs to share along the way. Here’s to more years of sharing.

On the beach at Dauphin Island, May 2014

On the beach at Dauphin Island, May 2014

Autism Awareness Month

April is Autism Awareness Month (as well as National Poetry Month, School Library Month and a few other things.) I’ll be focusing on Autism, as it is something that affects my life every day—both positively and negatively. It is also the inspiration for CORRODED (my yet-to-be-published novel.)

I’ve recently updated my category tabs on the right side of the website. There is now more organization between ideas, including an “ASD Autism Spectrum Disorders” main listing with subcategories, to make it easier to readers to find exactly what they are looking for.

This month on my Facebook page I will be posting daily tidbits about ASD so join in the conversation there if you’d like. Also, you can check out my Pinterest board for CORRODED, where you can find videos and pictures relating to the main characters including Aspie Ben Thomas.

This image was created by The Analyzing Aspie. Find him at https://www.facebook.com/TheAnalyzingAspie

This image was created by The Analyzing Aspie. Find him at https://www.facebook.com/TheAnalyzingAspie

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.”

Back at It

Last week I added two and a half pages to the first draft I’ve been working on for an extended amount of time (it’s embarrassing to say how long). That’s two pages more than the past several weeks combined. I joined a critique group last month and I figured I’d have an easy ride the first few months since I had four completed chapters.
When I submitted the second chapter to the group last week I realized I’ve used half my reserves. It took me an insane amount of time to get those forty-odd pages and I realized I need to get my fingers in gear so I don’t look like a total washout with nothing to submit in another month.
I want to work on my novel at least four days a week. My goal is a completed first draft by my next birthday. If I keep to my minimum for four serious days a week (even if it’s just fifteen minutes a day) I’ll reach my goal with time to spare. Since I have three freakazoids running around the house I’ll probably need to use that spare time.
*****
On September eighth I urged everyone to write their senators in regards to mandatory vaccines. I am happy to report that Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama responded to my letter. Part of his closing remarks are “Rest assured, I do not and will not support mandatory vaccination.” Let’s hold him, and any other politician who claims such, accountable to that statement.

Have You Written Your Senator?

I subscribe to the “Ask Dr. Sears” e-newsletter. In the newsletter last week the following link was listed in the vaccine information section.
http://www.askdrsears.com/thevaccinebook/2009/07/h1n1-flu-vaccine-is-on-its-way-what.asp
Vaccines are a hot button topic for me. I’m not anti-vaccine, but I’m anti-mandatory vaccines. I believe parents and the children’s personal doctors know what’s best for each child. I don’t think there should be a one-size-fits-all schedule for shots. And the thought of my children being taken away from me (for not following guidelines by people who have never seen my children’s medical records) is about the scariest thing imaginable.
Following Dr. Sears’ advice, I’ve sent my senators the following letter and urge you all to do the same.
I am writing in behalf of my children about my concerns that the soon to be available H1N1 vaccine will be made mandatory. My family has a history of autoimmune diseases and I have to space my children’s vaccines further apart than the standard recommendation in order to prevent an immune system overload (which has the potential to trigger neurological disorders.)
I have no issues administering the older, established vaccines on an adjusted schedule for my young children but I believe it is in my family’s best interest to pass on a vaccine that is so new, without a track record of long term side effects.
Freedom of choice has made our country great. I hope that you will speak out against mandatory vaccinations which have the possibility to tear local families apart in the general interest of safe guarding the country at large for a flu that is inherently no more dangerous than any other flu that sweeps the nation each season. Please keep our freedom of choice open and never allow vaccines to be mandatory.

Weaned (No, not the baby)

This is a follow-up to my August 4 Blog post, the one about my oldest son and our Autism journey. Missed that one? Might be good to back and read it before continuing.
The medication weaning is complete! There is now only one prescription (which our local doctor is willing to prescribe) and three over-the-counter supplements/medicine to deal with. But twice a day is much better than five times a day (yes, one of his medications had to be given five times a day!) He has not regressed in any areas and even started back to school without issues. He’s still happy and sleeping well.
One major gain has been his willingness to try new foods. He’s eleven and hasn’t eaten anything green (not counting the occasional grass/weed eating over the years) since he was two years old and would have the biggest melt-down if I tried placing anything green on his plate.
This past month he’s eaten the leafy tops of broccoli stems several times, wedges of green bell peppers twice, and once allowed me to place three peas on his plate- though he asked for them to be taken away a few minutes later. Plus, he actually ate pork chops that were cooked in a crock pot! This is a kid who only ate chicken/fish/shrimp that’s breaded and crispy.
I wondering if either of the medicines we’d dropped gave him a bad taste in his mouth. Things that make you go hmm…. But he did self-limit his diet well before starting medication because part of the eating problems are sensory issues.
No luck on the piano lessons yet. Have not heard back from the two teachers I’ve contacted. On to the next plan: more networking!
(The picture is his Play-Doh art featuring the interior of Count’s Castle from Sesame Street.)