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Showing posts from July, 2015

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A + for The A-Word: The most authentic look at Autism on screen.

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I worked for several years with a succession of autistic children—which mostly means boys—kids who were mainstreamed in regular education classrooms, with a classroom aide assigned to shadow them. That was me, the shadow. 

We also lived next door to a family who had an autistic son who became one of our son’s closest playmates, until we moved away at the end of elementary school. Chris, with his funny idiosyncrasies is the source of some very sweet memories, as well as moments of high drama. That’s what you get with autism, children who can be deeply involved when their needs and passions are directed and shared but who can sometimes find it frustrating when those needs are brushed aside. 

It’s typical for an autistic child to want to talk about dinosaurs—or whatever the passion is—and be frustrated while the rest of the kids have moved on to another topic. The autistic child is focused on that stegasaurus and exactly how cool it is, just not quite getting that the others don't shar…

Model Citizens: Think SMALL #BriFri

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I don't know whether to caption this photo They Might Be Giants or Model Citizens. This snap shot of my brother and me was taken at England's Bekonscot Model Village and Railway in the 1950's, but he, at least, was hardly a model citizen. Russ loved to tease me, sneaking up behind me and digging his bony fingers into my ribs crying "It's Mr. Tickle Time". The demonic grin on his face just this side of psychotic. Our little sister was not immune; she was small enough that he could grab her by the ankles and dangle her over the toilet, swinging her back and forth, back and forth, like a pendulum, threatening to dump her into the white porcelain toilet bowl. Other times, while our mother was busy in the kitchen or deep in the pages of a book, he'd wind us up in our heavy Turkish carpets and send us rolling across the living room floor. 
"Mo-o-o-o-m! Make him stop!"It's scary what boredom will drive kids to do!

I was surprised to learn that Bekons…

Storming the Bastille ... it was the summer of '89

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The Bicentennial Parade, Paris. July 14, 1989 [Photo by Rene Burri]
Mindy and I tried to crash course our French historical knowledge but budgeting just a week in Paris that July of '89, we were mostly interested in hitting the Left Bank, the major museums, the cafes. She was a shopper, I wanted to see where the expat gliterati hung out, drinking absinthe, back in the day. We hit the Gallerie Lafayette, Les Deux Magots, Shakespeare & Co. We climbed Notre Dame, took a boat ride along the Seine, saw the Eiffel Tower. We went to a bar where we bought our own drinks. I had a $9 beer; almost half of what I planned to spend on my hotel room. We took the metro to a famous Paris flea market where Mindy bought nothing but I spent $90 on a killer pair of black leather cowboy boots. I must have been out of my mind, I had to schlep those boots in my backpack all across Europe.

As our week in Paris progressed, it was clear this Bastille Day celebration was a very big thing and we were glad,…

Finding the Sweet Spot

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It's that time of year, all eyes on the green grass courts of Wimbledon, and all ears on the horrible mispronunciation of the name by American broadcast journalists.
"Bloody Hell!" That's my dad, rolling over in his grave, shaking his head with disgust, talking to the TV. Which he shouldn't be able to do because he was cremated, but that's how incensed he is:
"Can they not hear the D? There's a 'd' in Wimbledon, mate. Not a bloody 't'. It's Wim-Bull-Dun, not WimbleTon!!"I've never been to Wimbledon; I go back and forth—like a tennis ball—about putting it on my bucket list. I was even in England once during the Wimbledon tourney but I never got closer to it than the screen on my grandmother's television set, watching it with her from her Chorleywood home, her beautiful garden filled with roses and brick pathways and arches that my uncle built himself, through the garden door behind us.

For years I watched the two week tou…