Kathleen resides in Cleveland and is the mom of three children.
What do you do to relax?
I am autistic also so my favorite ways to relax are sensory activities. For example, I love to go into the living room after everyone is asleep and turn off all the lights. I turn on music that really embodies whatever I'm feeling, sit in a comfy seat, and just let it be the only thing I'm experiencing.
What else would you like to tell us about yourself?
My oldest child is 20. My youngest is 4. We've always homeschooled, eventually settling comfortably into unschooling. That means just living our lives and letting the kids learn naturally through their hobbies and interests instead of any formal schooling. This allows more time and energy for self care and life skills, that actually take real work for us. I compensate for my executive function delays by relying heavily on technology. Google has an incredible suite of tools, and I automate anything I can. Robots already clean my floors, toilets, and litter box. I can't wait until laundry folding machines are within my budget!
What benefits has Connecting for Kids brought to you and your family?
The biggest benefit for us is the sense of community and normalcy. The fact that SO many programs exist makes us feel like one of many, instead of one of the few odd men out. My youngest had developed an anxiety disorder by 3 years old because he was so alone in our old community.
Which have been your favorite Connecting for Kids resources?
Adapted storytimes and the Speaker Series have been great. Honestly, my family struggles with a bit of impostor syndrome and doesn't take advantage of as many resources as I'd like. I'm working on that, but am so used to being just a little too high functioning to deserve help that I'm still waiting to be told (like I always am) that my family is a burden, using up resources that are meant for families with more needs than us. Sarah has been clear that won't happen, but I have 40 years of conditioning saying otherwise.
The area where I have grown the most...
Is my patience. Before having children, I was such an angry person. I still hadn't been diagnosed with autism and the pressures, expectations, and behaviors of other people my whole life had been at odds with my own thoughts and behaviors. I was a cliché of anger, a leather jacket wearing, punk rocker, looking for a fight. The love I feel for my kids has softened me. My desire to support them has taught me to be more tolerant of the differences in attitudes and morality of others. It's helped me to become more goal oriented, instead of always getting caught up in the details.
What I worry about most…
I worry the most about something horrible happening to my kids. The older ones are so idealistic and trusting. I was the same way at their age, and countless awful people took advantage of me in countless ways. I was constantly targeted and victimized, and rarely even knew it until well after the fact. The youngest is the same way, and at this age it means he's prone to wandering and would happily wander off with a friendly stranger, in a city with one of the worst human trafficking rates in the country. The only time I'm ever at ease is when I have them all at home and know they're safe.
Do you have any recommended resources such as blogs, websites, or books that we can share?
Wrong Planet is a web community designed for individuals (and their parents) with Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, ADHD, PDDs, and other neurological differences.