Over the Rainbow

This past school year was difficult for Jeremy . . . extremely difficult. Lots of tears shed, lots of protests silenced, and many, many restless nights.  Not just for him, but for me too. He was mentally and physically exhausted, and I was at my parental wit’s end. My spirit just couldn’t take it anymore . . . FHL Autism Mama down.

(You can read a quick excerpt on our kindergarten year experience and my “lessons learned” in the Organization for Autism Research’s August newsletter, here: OARACLE August Newsletter)

But where my spirit succumbed to the overwhelming pressure and I was feeling distraught and discouraged, my heart just wouldn’t let me give up.

THIS is too important.

HE is too important.

We cannot have a repeat of this school year again. EVER.

Over the course of the summer I visited numerous schools, met with several administrators, and attended multiple IEP/educational team meetings. My goal: to find a school that would nurture Jeremy’s natural inquisitiveness, champion his strengths, incorporate his interests, and help replace non-desirable behaviors with appropriate ones by helping him learn how to be a student and engaging him with appropriate peers. All this, while trying to get our school district to support out-of-district placement in a private school setting.

Fast forward to the first week in August.  I review my findings with the district’s special education coordinator in preparation for the upcoming IEP meeting and we are in agreement. There are some administrative hiccups, but she works diligently to save him an enrollment spot at the selected school.  IEP meeting takes place the next week, school placement is confirmed, and intake/staffing meeting is set for this past week. We are golden! Or are we?

After the intake meeting, I bring the kiddo to the school to meet his new teacher and support person, and to get acclimated with the classroom.  The first 20 minutes were a little spastic. He’s looking around the room for letters, pulling books off the shelf, examining every nook and cranny, etc.  That is to be expected. No worries. But then, oh then, he goes into full-on melt down mode.

“I don’t like my new school.”

“There aren’t enough letters.”

“School is mean.”

“I don’t like HER.” (the support assistant).

“I don’t like that thing on her face.” (teacher has an obvious flesh-colored mole)

“I want to stay home. I want to LEAVE. I don’t want to come back.”

. . . insert cries, hysteria and bewilderment . . .

He struggles. We leave. He falls asleep in the car on the way home. And, I cry.


Not again.

Due to the “rocky” introduction, the teacher and I decide on a modified start to the school year: arrival after the bell and all the kids are in classes, and a much shorter day.  We want him to start off with positive school experiences, while he gets used to the new environment.

Monday. Day 1.

The first day of 1st grade lasts one hour. All the while, I am in the administrator’s office waiting with baited breath until the teacher comes in to say “so far so good.”


We are not in the clear, but small progress is still progress.  Later that day after big brother comes home, we head to his baseball game and this appeared as we packed up and headed back to the car.


I believe in signs, do you?

If somewhere over the rainbow, dreams really do come true. Then I know that this school year is going to be truly transformational for you kiddo, and I have faith that the best is yet to come!

Today is Day 3. He stayed for two hours, and had a really good day! 🙂


I also got approval today to substitute the required navy polo uniform shirt with a navy tee-shirt and/or long-sleeved tee-shirt when the weather breaks. Each morning has been a challenge getting him dressed in his uniform. This kid has a major aversion to buttons. He WILL NOT wear a shirt with buttons – ever.  So for the first 3 days, he’s been wearing polo shirts with the buttons cut off.  Hey . . . you gotta do, what you gotta do!

We are going to stick with 2 hours for the rest of the week and probably have him stay through lunch starting on Monday.  I’m hoping the navy tee-shirt will make the morning routine just a bit easier for him and allow us to leave on time for his designated school start. We shall see.

I’ll keep you posted. But, in the meantime . . . I’m going to keep looking out for rainbows! And if you happen to see one yourself, smile and say “Jeremy” for me will ya? Thanks in advance!

~ FHL Autism Mama



42:: Four. Two. It. Us.

Marathoning Mamma42. In my first blog posting, I celebrate Forty-two.

Years on this earth. It boggles my mind, and yet the fact still remains. I am forty-two years old. Wow!

But forty-two is a great number. Bill Clinton was the 42nd President. Today is his birthday too you know! The late, great Jackie Robinson wore the #42 when he broke segregation barriers becoming the first African-American to play Major League Baseball in 1947.

And today we celebrate Chicago’s Jackie Robinson West 11-13 Youth Baseball team advancing to the next round of the Little League World Series last night.  An all-black team from the “hood,” doing good, for all the world to see at a time when we are in dire need of a reminder that there are positive things happening with the youth in our urban communities.  Happenstance?

Side note: My husband John, FHL Autism Daddy, played on the 1979 Jackie Robinson West All Stars team and credits his time on the team as one of the most influential experiences of his life. Pictured Standing, third from left.

John Jackie Robinson West 1979

As I entered this world in 1972, the late Jackie Robinson was making his transition into the Heavenly world. Spirits crossing paths. I’ve learned a lot from the legacy he left behind: Grace under pressure.  Honor and humility.  A foundation built on faith. While I respected his legacy on the field and admired his business acumen in retirement, I had no idea in my younger years, what impact these lessons would have on me later in life.

Did you know that his oldest son and namesake, Jackie Robinson, Jr., experienced “emotional troubles” as a child and was educated within the special education system? How fortuitous.

As I celebrate my birthday today, and we prepare to begin this upcoming school year with the sting of last year’s unfolding still fresh upon us, I arm my 42 year-old-self with Grace, Honor, Humility and Faith, for this battle of Jeremy’s is not his alone. It’s mine too.


The word in itself has evolved over time from its original sentiment of having “happened by chance” to the modern-day assignment of being “lucky or fortunate.”

Autism forever changed my world by chance, but I am oh so fortunate that it did!   I am stronger. I am more compassionate. I am a better woman and a better mother.  autism strong

Four. Two. It. Us.

We are in this together kid.

Me and Mine. 4+2 = 6. Team Sterling.

Blessed. For we are not just strong, we are Autism Strong.

My birthday wish this year is that ALL of my children enjoy a happy school year filled with academic success, budding friendships, personal growth and fun!

That my friends, would be the icing on the cake!


#JackieRobinsonWest #RunForAutism #BlackTriathlete #SoleTriSisters #OAR #EbonyMermaids #WomenRuleTheWorld #Tri4Autism #Journey4Jeremy #BillClinton #JackieRobinson