Sunday, March 7, 2010

My Autism Ottoman

I teased you yesterday by telling you that I was going to blog today about cake, haircuts or gerbils. I mean my ottoman. I counted up who mentioned what in the comments and it turns out that you want to hear about my ottoman. There was some interest in hearing me blog about cake, so you may—if you're really, really nice to me—hear about that tomorrow. But no one cares about haircuts apparently.

So I guess you'll never hear the story behind this:

But I guess the photo pretty much says it all.

So, the ottoman. I guess I'm not blogging so much about the ottoman, which looks like this...

Aren't you glad you chose this topic? about what is stored inside of it. That is what I am about to show you. Bear with me here.

Do you want to know what autism looks like? What it really, really looks like?

(Yes, Stimey, we do. We think it looks like Jack.)

Nope. It looks like this:

And this:

And this:

Autism looks like stacks and stacks of paper. It looks like reports, evaluations, IEPs, drafts and corrections, folders full of printed out emails from the school, invoices, information about therapies, fliers about events, and did I mention the books on the subject?

I'm a pretty organized girl about Jack's autism information, but when I started looking at the folders I needed to put in order before Jack's upcoming IEP, which is in a week and a half, I realized that I hadn't filed anything for months.


I spent an entire afternoon last week hunkered down on my floor with a three-hole punch, a Sharpie, and my folders. It is shocking how many trees were destroyed by just the little paper circles that I punched out of the papers themselves.

But if you want services and you don't want to flail for specific papers when you walk into a meeting with the school and if you want to have notes about things that might help your kid?

Well, you kill the motherfucking trees.

Now all those piles of paper are filed away in their correct folders and the folders are stowed away carefully in their autism ottoman.

Unfortunately, Jack is going to have to stop being autistic like, now, because there is not any spare room in that ottoman.

Also unfortunately, now that everything is organized, I now have to comb through it all to do everything I can to make sure that Jack gets the very best IEP possible.

In an amazing display of "making an effort to work together," Jack's case manager and speech therapist at the school are meeting with me this week—a week before his IEP meeting—so that we can create his goals together. Which means that when I walk into the meeting and they hand me a stack of reports, I will have seen at least some of them beforehand and I will have helped to create some of them.

It's so cool and so cooperative I almost think it's a trick.

That's also what autism looks like: mistrust of the system. Why else do we keep all the emails?

But I really think that Jack's team wants what is best for him. And I am so appreciative that they are including me in the whole process. But before that, I have to put together my thoughts and my ideas so I don't get flustered and confused by the language of the IEP goal, which always leaves me feeling fuzzy in the head. I have some thinking ahead of me in the next couple of weeks.

So that's the ottoman story. (It was kind of about an ottoman, right?)


  1. I think you are wise to have an autism ottoman but it definitely looks like you might need a second one soon!

  2. Doesn't that make it an auttoman?

  3. My IEP related papers are really piling up... I think I need an ottoman.

    I also had a very surreal experience with the team being very "on the same page" about evaluations I want done before Oliver starts Kindergarten. I went into the meeting with a letter basically "demanding" these tests, and they were all in agreement about who, what, where, when... I was definitely waiting for the alarm clock to start buzzing and wake up from the dream I must be having...

  4. You can't store anything in my ottoman so it doesn't have anything cool inside it, tied to anything cool like a kid. So I guess your ottoman wins.

  5. Yes, the picture of Quinn says it all. And I love the auttoman suggestion. YM

  6. So you are investing in a second ottoman? I mean, we got 12 more years ahead of us, just of school...

    We scan stuff in.So not only do I have books and notebooks of dead trees, I also take up valuable disk space.

  7. I have a teacher friend who is so frustrated at these meetings with parents who are in denial that services are needed or don't bother to attend. Jack and the other parents with their ottomans and files and piles are blessed.

  8. Ah, yes, 'tis the season -- IEP season. I have a cabinet filled with humongous binders of autism info -- but I too have been remiss in filing. So this morning I will be printing a whole lotta emails for the archives.

    Hope your meeting goes well. I am frankly dreading mine, as the clueless administrator at my son's school seems to think that autism is magically cured by middle school.

  9. An autism ottoman: brilliant. But it does sound as if you need another one, I'm sorry to say. It really makes my day to hear about school teams like yours - hooray!

  10. Love the auttoman comment!

    I feel so very blessed that we haven't had to 'fight with' the school system yet. Adam goes to a small school, that we've been with for over 16 years (my oldest went there and my 10yo goes there now), so we know all the teachers and vice principal (who does the IEP). I guess with him being dx'd so early (18 months old), we know exactly what he needs, who to ask, and where to get it.

    Also, because we've been dealing with Autism for so long now, I feel like I am a certified speech therapy, occupational therapist, and special educator!! I know how to do everything, so I pick up at home, what he doesn't get in school. I should really take stock in Lakeshore Learning and Boardmaker...I think I own everything either of them has ever made!

    If you EVER have any questions at all or just want to talk, please email me! I have so many ideas and so many resources that I can share with you :)

    Hope you have a great week!


  11. You are one GREAT mom. my husband was shocked at all the paperwork i had when we went to our first meeting and it was ONLY to get the school to evaluate if our daughter will need a 504 or an iep

  12. Wow - can I ever relate to your ottoman!! I have an ASD/SPD desk. On it are folders and folders of evals, IEPs, therapy invoices, books, etc, etc, etc. And I also mistrust the system - had to FIGHT for an IEP and now I need to make sure we don't lose it. Maybe I need to get an ottoman....or a rolltop desk.

  13. So I find yet another thing I am lacking! I have multiple binders and a largish satchel as well as a complete library of books but the ottoman is missing.

    We had our first IEP meeting a few months ago, and I was so thankful to have all my materials organized...thanks to all your IEP lessons and warnings!

    Now I'm off to find an ottoman--and it must be soft and wipable just like yours!

  14. Your cool ottoman beats my two ugly plastic autism and ADHD filing boxes. One night during husband's last week-long business trip, I sat down in the floor with the piles of paper and the boxes and got them organized. Amazing how getting all that stuff in order helps my sanity.

  15. it sounds to me like you are ready to upgrade to the autism couch, with a full size file cabinet under the cushions. who wants a hide-a-bed, when you could have a hide-a-file cabinet.

  16. I really do think we might be know that right?!

    Instead of an ottoman I have a huge plastic bin with BOTH of the boys IEP's, medical records, therapy notes, and even some classroom artwork sorted and arranged by child.

    I also have that coloring book in your photo. I gave a copy to our church to help other kids understand autism and the boys (mostly because I am SICK of having to explain the same things over and over again to parents in hopes they will help their children understand and stop asking me why my boys are "weird" or "stupid")

    Noah's IEP is Thursday and due to the 2 blizzards we had it is actually a reschedule of a reschedule so I will only be able to attend via phone. I am sooo not happy but they couldn't reschedule it to an earlier time in the day.

    Thankfully Saturday will be here before we know it and we can chill out, eat fattening food and have a nice hard drink.

  17. That is without a doubt the best ottoman post I have ever read.

    The autism ottoman rocks!

  18. Best story about an ottoman EVAH!
    Good luck!


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