Tuesday, April 01, 2008

April is Autism Awareness Month. I am aware. If you read this blog, you too are aware.

Do tune into CNN for lots of autism related into over the next few days, they have some excellent pieces that do not sugar coat the diagnosis. I like happy stories as much as the next gal, the J-Mac basketball story for instance. It's good to celebrate every success. But sometimes autism is portrayed as an exotic set of gifts. When in reality, for many people with autism, it can be many lumps of coal. Think about how you felt when you heard Patrick Swayze has pancreatic cancer. Your heart went THUD, right. You just knew what that meant. That's what my heart does when I hear again and again and again that another child has been diagnosed.

Tomorrow is "World Autism Day." I wish that were an April Fool's joke.

OK - let's move onto today's topic. THE FIELD TRIP!

All three of my girls are going on field trips today. Didn't you just LIVE for field trips as a kid? I'll tell you about a couple of mine in a mo'. First, the girls'. Mia is going HERE where she will see this:

That's Woolsey Hall, home of the Yale Symphony Orchestra. Pretty swanky, yes? My kid has cultcha!

Gianna and Bella are going to the movies to see THIS. Starring none other than autism advocate Jim Carrey, boyfriend of the energetic Jenny McCarthy! I love the theme, "A person's a person, no matter how small." Words to live by.

Geez, my girls are lucky. Their trips are a far cry from my seventh grade class trip to THIS JOINT. And I mean joint. That's MCI (Mass. Correctional Institute) Cedar Junction. It used to be called Walpole State Prison. It's a Max security prison.

For some reason, our teacher, who was most ironically named Miss Free (I can still picture her frosted pink lipstick and white blonde rat combed hair) took us to Walpole State for a scared straight kind of day. WTF?? Well, I might have had something to do with the tiny Catholic school's fear that it's students were going to the dogs. You see, in 6th grade I sort of F'ed up on another class trip. Um, my "boyfriend" (the kid who held my ankles as I won the sit up contest) brought a flask of

on a field trip. And some of these.

Yup. In 6th grade I drank booze and puffed on a cigar during a field trip to the Whole World Celebration at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. Sister Omygodshesdrunk caught me red handed and liquor-breathed. I got suspended for a few days. Couldn't attend the Christmas bazaar that year, where my Mom had garnered all sorts of arts and crafts and costume jewelry to sell.

I was a trying child. Signed myself up for piano lessons in 1st grade and informed my parents they needed to buy a piano. Went to a new school for 8th grade (funny, that little Catholic school shut down after my 7th grade year) and was promptly elected Class President in November. I did my own thing. Wasn't afraid of authority. Forged my own path. Took matters into my own hands. Almost always came out on top too.

Did I mention it's Autism Awareness month?


Amy said...

I grew up near the city so we always had good field trips. TV Joe grew up near the Texas panhandle and they always took a trip to the meat packing plant - aka the slaughter house. Yikes!

Also - I am Ed. Somehow it became a nickname in college and Joe still calls me that.

Kim Stagliano said...

The meat packing plant? Man, I'll take the prison!

Nice to meet you.... Ed.

Amanda said...

My life has been so sheltered!! We got to go to Bird World - does exactly what it says on the tin - and Shakespear at the open air theatre in London - yes it rained and yes we had to stay through it!

Mags said...

I was expelled from Catholic school for shoplifting at Disneyland during a field trip.

Mine started out more promising, but it ended up remarkably like yours to Cedar Junction! If you've ever wondered where the Disneyland holding tank is (and who hasn't?), it's on Main Street.

Behind the candy store...

Oh, and I am aware.

Michelle O'Neil said...

Wow! Sixth grade?

I waited at least until 7th.

(We went to the sewage treatment plant on a sixth grade field trip, but other than the shit we kept it clean).

Drama Mama said...

WTF is UP with Catholic schools taking kids to prisons?

We went to Alcatraz. Every year.

Like it was freakin' Mecca or something.

Did they have fun?

BTW, I liked the subversive subtext of Horton...my girlies did, too!

Laura said...

Autism you say. Never heard of it. Guess I should watch CNN. Geez, wouldn't that be a crazy life - never hearing about autism?

Kim, you crazy minx, you! I was bona fide geek in 6th grade - the glasses, the braces, the spelling bee runner-up, sitting alone at lunch reading classic novels. I don't remember many exciting field trips. We did Plimoth Plantation way too many times. I think they had a little prison cell there, but that was no Walpole! Then again, Walpole probably didn't have stocks. Those Pilgrims knew how to punish evil-doers!

Anonymous said...


I found your blog via Janet Reid's blog where she posted a link as well as one to your TV appearance with your beautiful family.

I'm blown away by your blog--the upfront way in which you approach the day-to-day rigors of raising not one, but three autistic children. My 5-year old son is autistic and some of the experiences you've mentioned here are very familiar.

I applauded when you said you took up writing as a way to de-stress. I did the same and found the best free therapy ever in that avenue.

Your blog is thought-provoking and uplifitng in its honesty, practicality and hopefulness. I've added it to my favorites list and forwarded the link to the coordinator of FEAT (Families for Early Autism Treatment) here in Houston. I hope she'll include it in the next FEAT newsletter.

My very best to you and your family.

Kind regards,

Grace Draven

Kim Stagliano said...

Thank you, Grace. And welcome. FEAT is a terrific organization. And my sister lives in The Woodlands. Small world!

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