When I first started this blog, I posted all of my old holiday letters going back to 2007. I think that my 2007 letter (which you can read here) is some of my best writing. I possibly peaked too soon! Anyway, here is this year’s letter!
Season’s Greetings from the Burts family! 2012 has flown by, and so much has happened this year.
SB is now in the 2nd grade, and is doing well. He is still mainstreamed at school, but continues to need support from the special education department. We’re thankful that his school has been welcoming of his private ABA therapist in the classroom. Having his teachers and therapists working together as a team has really improved his behavior at school. He struggles with reading comprehension, but math comes easy for him and his fabulous memory never ceases to amaze me. We also discovered this year that he has perfect pitch, and both of his musician parents are tremendously jealous!
AB, age 5, started kindergarten this fall. I was nervous about how it was going to go, but the transition to school turned out to be pretty smooth. He is already reading like a champ and is also showing an aptitude for math like his brother. They are the best of friends, spending their free time playing crazy pretend games that only they understand that usually involve traffic lights or traffic signs.
Both boys continue to take Tae Kwon Do in a class adapted for children with autism, and they love it. Last fall we also decided to enroll them both in soccer. Since it was not a special needs league, we weren’t sure how it would go, and it went…well, it went ok. SB had difficulty participating in the group activity, and it took a lot of effort and creative rewards on our part to keep him engaged. AB enjoyed it a little more than SB. It may have been too early to put them (especially SB) in a group activity with typical peers. Or maybe it wasn’t. The activity was not a disaster, and sometimes that’s enough to call it a success!
Charlie is in his 2nd year at Lanier Middle School, and has really enjoyed the move. He has also had a few professional highlights this year. In addition to serving as a judge for District Assessment in Prince William County, VA, he also guest conducted two honor bands – one in Bassett, VA, and the other in Raleigh, NC. He and I also attended the 30th anniversary of UNCG’s Summer Music Camp, where he was named a member of its staff’s new “Hall of Fame.” All of these events were fantastic professional opportunities, as well as great chances to catch up with wonderful old friends.
The second half of the year was pretty busy for me in the Air Force Band. We went on a 2-week tour to California, marched in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, and will perform at the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in December in Chicago. I also started a Master of Library Science Degree this fall. The degree is 100% online from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. I only took one class this semester, and was surprised by the amount of time and work that it took. I hope to be finished with the degree by the time I am eligible to retire from the Air Force in 2017.
Our little family took a big vacation in August to Disney World in Orlando, FL, and had a fantastic time! My Mom, Dad, and brother came with us, and I’m pretty sure we wore them all out. Meeting Mickey and Minnie were highlights, of course, as well as riding “It’s a Small World” and all the other classic rides. I have always loved amusement parks and rides, so I’m pretty sure I had just as much fun as the boys did, if not more.
The most interesting thing that I did this year was that I started a blog. It’s called “Places on the Spectrum,” and it’s all about my experiences parenting 2 children with autism. I have found the writing to be fun and therapeutic, and I love getting feedback from readers. There is a huge online community out there of other autism parents who blog, and I have enjoyed getting to know some of them. With work and grad school, I haven’t been able to write as much as I would like, but I hope to continue to post my struggles and successes with my children and my thoughts about the whole experience. You can find my blog at http://www.placesonthespectrum.com/ Please come visit my site, and feel free to share it with anyone you know who might be interested in a blog about autism.
As I write this, I still have one more paper to write before the semester is finished, I still have to perform at the Chicago conference, and at some point I have to do all of the normal Christmas shopping, holiday errands, and traveling. Going back to school at this point in my life has taught me several things. First, I’ve learned to accept that my house is just going to be messier than I like, and that I don’t have to live in a home that looks like a magazine photo shoot. Also, I’ve learned the importance of accomplishing tasks in small doses. I don’t like to start a project unless I also have time to finish it, but in this setting, that is a luxury I can’t afford. And lastly, I have learned that my husband is a pretty terrific guy, taking over many of the parenting and household duties while I stare at “scholarly” articles and try to contribute to online discussions about them. Accomplishing something this difficult is a team effort, and I’ve got a pretty good draft pick on my team.
Merry Christmas from the Burts family, and best wishes for a happy and healthy 2013!