You see the feet? #MeBC3 #autism #parenting #teaching

Riding in the car with Addison. She takes pictures with her iPad.
Addy and her iPad


        When my youngest daughter gets sick, it is obvious and really easy to spot.  She will let you know her ankle hurts. She will tell you her head hurts.  She would come to us holding her stomach complaining that it hurts. You can literally see it on her face when she doesn’t feel well. My wife and I know what to do. We hop into action.  We give her an ice pack for her ankle. BAM! Ibuprofen is ready for her head. BLAM! We get the pepto for the stomachache. BOOM! We grab the super easy mac daddy of digital thermometers. Temperature checked. BOOYAH! We are pros at this by now. It’s different when the other two kids with autism are sick or hurt. Children with autism,who are nonverbal, will find different ways to communicate their wants and needs to you. You have to really pay attention to their behaviors, mannerisms, sounds, even how they walk or you might miss what they are trying to say.

           Years ago when the kids were really young. We were shopping in the Walmart, my son, McKade was riding in the cart.  We were having a pretty nice shopping trip. I would take them to the toys. Then we would visit the movies and books.  Everything was going great until I looked down and my son’s mouth was covered in blood. There was no screams. There was no accident. He was sitting there fine and the next minute somehow covered in blood.  When this happened he barely had any words that he could use. The best we can tell he hit his lip on the cart and his tooth went through his lip. It was terrible. We didn’t know it happened! We felt like the worst parents in the world.  He didn’t make a sound and wasn’t even crying. We learned early on that we would have to pay extra close attention to them just in case. If we weren’t paying attention we would miss something. We also learned that the lady at the checkout so squeamish about all the blood we soaked up with the roll of paper towels, she almost vomited. 

          Last year Addison, our oldest daughter,  kept asking for, “Blues Clues Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.” She had a pretty good day, so we downloaded it on her iPad.  We ate dinner. She watched the video. We got ready for bed. She played the same part of the video over and over. Not a big deal.  We do that a lot! A few minutes later she came up to me and said, “You see the feet?” Showing me Steve and Blue’s feet. I told her, “I see the feet sweetheart about ten or eleven times.” I am not unintelligent, but that night the point of that video went flying over my head. Later that evening, after Addison has watched that foot video a million more times she went to bed.  I helped her get into bed. I put about 20 different and specific stuffed animals on the bed, like we do most nights. I tuck her in by throwing the blanket over her. She normally laughs the whole time. Tonight when I threw the blanket over her she didn’t laugh. She lifted up her foot while she laid in her bed. “You see the feet?” she asked.  That’s when it dawned on me.  She wasn’t talking about the feet in the video. She wanted me to see her feet.  I pulled her sock off and BAM, her ankle was as big as a softball.  It was also black and blue.

             You are probably sitting there saying, “The winner for Worst Parent of The Year… is Toby Price.” Ron Howard’s voiceover says, “This is Toby Price’s 10th nomination and 6th win.”

             I felt terrible. Just looking at her ankle, you can tell something is very wrong.  We took her to the ER that night and she had a broken ankle. How did it happen? We have NO idea how it happened. I am just grateful we were paying attention at the right time.  That’s the thing with Addison and many like her. Their pain tolerance is huge and they can’t come right out and tell you when something is wrong. You have to watch everything. You are constantly on the lookout for changes in behavior, different facial expressions, different sounds you aren’t used to hearing. You have got run through hundreds of questions too.Are they stimming differently? Are they walking differently? Are they following their normal routine? Have they isolated themselves in their room? It can be overwhelming at times.

      That night, and so many like it taught me that we have to stop, take a breath, put our phones down and really pay attention.  We have to pay attention to our students. Kids are really good at hiding how they are really feeling. Take a few extra minutes each day and put up your lesson plans.  Have a morning meeting instead. Get the kids talking to you and to each other. Learn their names. Help them learn each other names. Building relationships in your class will make it easier for you to tell when they need your help. Kids can sound confident, but still have anxiety. Kids can look healthy and feel terrible. They can look happy but be miserable.  We need to listen to our students with more than just our ears.

Thank you for reading and sharing,



Another puzzle metaphor….or a way that I make sense of things. #autism

Another puzzle metaphor….or a way that I make sense of things. #autism


 A lot of my feelings and experiences when my kids were diagnosed with autism, felt like working a jigsaw puzzle.  (Y’all know how much I love a puzzle.)

When you first dump the puzzle on the table, you feel overwhelmed. There are so many pieces.  Every piece is either upside down, sideways, mixed up, or just plain unrecognizable. Then a funny thing happened.  You are able to start sorting out the pieces of the puzzle. Once things get sorted, you really start to analyze things and then start to figure them out.  The more you work at it, the pictures become clearer.Over time working on the puzzles become easier. The more puzzles you work on, the better you get at solving them.  Some puzzles, take me longer than others. Some puzzles,you can knock out SUPER FAST.

Raising kids with autism is a lot like that.   It can be overwhelming or frustrating. Sometimes it could be downright messy.  Some days, just like a jigsaw puzzle, you wonder, “Why am I doing this?” Then you start to sort things out.  You analyze parts of it and figure things out. In time, you will solve some problems quickly and easily. Some days you will run into puzzles or problems that will take more time.When you put that puzzle together  all that doubt and fear subsides. The longer you work at it and the clearer the big pictures become and you aren’t frustrated or overwhelmed near as much. So don’t give up. Keep working on those puzzles. When you solve one, share it with everyone.  Someone else may be working on a similar puzzle. Seeing your work could help them. If you can do it they can do it too. Don’t give up. Keep working at it.


img_0517 Any puzzle or lego set is easier and more fun when you have someone help you. If you are lucky, you know great people who will take the time to help you sort out your wonderful, beautiful, challenging puzzle. Those people make everything easier.  If you haven’t found one yet I know you will SOON.




Thanks for reading,



Need some harsh truth? Ask #TheDude

I took the oldest two kids shopping yesterday.  We needed a few necessities.  While we were there Addison asked for some Coke.  Actually she said Coke Orange which is Addison speak for Fanta Orange. I have been trying really hard to get them to drink other things so I said, ” Addison let’s just get one. That stuff is nothing but sugar and isn’t good for us.  It’s a sometimes food.” *Thanks Cookie Monster for teaching us that one.

Then at the top of his lungs the dude adds, “YEAH ADDISON TOO MUCH COKE MAKES YOU SICK AND FAT. IT WILL MAKE YOU FAT BECAUSE OF THE SUGAR!”  #HarshTruth

Well, no worries, Addy was unfazed by his PSA.  I looked over and saw the faces of the others in that aisle and I promise you they looked at McKade, looked at their cart. I watched them slowly put back a twelve pack of coke.IMG_6533.JPGI like taking my kids to the store because they learn a lot of important social skills and norms.  This trip some others learned something from my kids.

#autism #parenting #TheDude








Reflection on “Lead With Culture”



When I first became a building administrator, I became really conflicted.  I had a lot of people telling me what I needed to become to run a building effectively.  Let’s rephrase that, I had. folks telling me what I needed to change about myself to run a building effectively.  Now I won’t get into specifics about what I was told I needed to change.  Some of the advice given to me was really good advice. But looking back, I spent so much time the last two years trying to become something or someone that wasn’t really me.  I became afraid to try things in my school because I was worried about what other grown ups would think.

After reading, Lead with Culture by Jay Billy, I realized something.  I was so worried about messing up, that I stifled parts of me that would contribute something positive to the culture in my school.  I wanted to ride a scooter through my building, but I was worried what some grown-ups would think.  I wanted to have my BB-8 Sphero follow me through the halls.  I was worried grown-ups would find it distracting. I spent a lot of time trying to appease grown-ups.  I really was just afraid of trying things that I thought kids would like.  Jay Billy’s book helped me realize that I need to just go for it.  Do those things that will make kids go home and say, “You won’t believe what Mr. Price did today…” I want to do things that will make them want to come back tomorrow to see what I will do next.  So today, I started by bringing some of the toys back to my office.  My BB-8 is roaming my office as I write.  I have a scooter ready to ride down the halls in August.  I am going to continue having music blaring in the halls when kids arrive in the morning.  I am going to keep telling my Joke Of The Day on the announcements each afternoon. I am going to leave the cardboard Star Lord, Rocket, and Ironman in the hallway.  Most importantly, I am going to encourage everyone on my staff to not just teach our kids, but to make sure each child really wants to be here each day.  I want them to be authentic, and to have fun.  Lead With Culture reminded me of something I forgot, a long time ago. I can take my job seriously, but I don’t have to take myself so seriously.   It’s a great read. Teachers or administrators would really get a lot out of it. Check it out today.


Thanks for reading.
May the force be with you,


That Tuesday in the hospital… #TDGAP #autism stories

Things Didn’t Go As Planned Autism Stories


You have a lot to sit and think about when you spend the night in the hospital, like I did last week.  How did I get here? What will I do if they find something wrong? What do I need to do to not be in this spot again? What would happen to my family if I don’t fix things?

I’d like to say I figured it all out laying in the bed watching Hulu until about 3 am, but I didn’t.  The facts are these, over Thanksgiving Break doctors think I had a heart attack.  The reason I had been nauseous, not eating, and vomiting, that was stomach ulcers.  Later the next day, they took me to do a special CT of my heart and lungs. The point was to determine what happened,  and is it going to happen again?  If my heart was okay, we could begin treating the ulcers.  I was supposed to have the test that morning, but didn’t until almost one o’clock that afternoon.  I couldn’t have the test until my heart rate was below 60 and stayed that way for a significant amount of time. They administered meds that were supposed to slow my heart down. That didn’t work. Why? Because like most school principal I was laying there in the bed connected to all kinds of machines and still had my phone on and up.


The doctor, my wife, and nurse determined the cause of my issues. Stress.  I let a lot of things get to me.  In fact, I describe my work style as someone who passionately attacks their job with a reckless abandon of concern for their own body a’la Mick Foley. So, um… that has to stop.  I am not going to say you shouldn’t be passionate about your work. Do that! You have to be passionate but focus that passion and energy.  Basically, be selective over what we stress out about or care about.  I have been reading a book, by Mark Manson, that talks about what we need to stress out about. It discusses developing your values, the things that are most important to you. Think about what is most important to you and be passionate about those things. See, that’s easier said than done. We get bombarded by so many different things all day from social media, television, and other media. That makes it ROUGH to try and stay focused on what matters. But knowing your values has merit and will impact how you perform at home and at work.  I told you this story to tell you this one.  Give me a moment to Six Degrees of Separation the two together to make my point.


My Assistant Principal asked me to answer some reflective questions about her for a class she was taking.  One of the questions said, “What are some ways she could improve as an administrator?”   Most of the time when posed with this question it gets answered the same way.  Figure what your weaknesses are, and do your best to build efficacy in that area. I say, PASS, that’s not the best way to improve as an administrator.  For my assistant principal, I said,”Skip your weakness and focus on your strengths.”   Spend time coming up with a list of values that really really reallllllly matter to you. Without a strong list of values or beliefs you will come to school each day, run your building, but not getting anywhere.  It’s like being a hamster on a wheel. You will work hard and run down.

 It took me five years as an AP and two years as a Principal to start really narrowing down a list of things I valued.  This is super important.  If you don’t know what you value, you will spend your days caring about too many things.  If you give an  “OH FUDGE” (Shameless Christmas Story Reference) about too many things you will burn out, not be effective and find yourself strapped to machines in a hospital, on a Tuesday afternoon, worrying the SNOT out of your wife.


Once you know what you value, work hard each day to model those things. When you do, that’s when you will best be able to inspire and lead others.  People who have the same values as you will gravitate towards you.  Those are the people you want on your team.  So to sum up.  Know what to give a fudge about.  Write them down & do your best to model them each day. If it ain’t on that list or connected to it somehow, let it go.  Once, you have your team take time to learn as much as you can from them. Play to your strengths, and surround yourself and build your team with people who have the same values as you. (Not necessarily the same skills.)  Have a team with a variety of skills learn from them and delegate to them.  It will make your job easier, move your team forward, and keep you from stressing out.


Later Tuesday afternoon, I went to have a CAT scan of my heart and lungs.  Truth be told it was about four in the afternoon before we received the results.  I was sweating bullets, thinking that it was bad, they are developing a plan, and I may have to have surgery.  The scan came back clear.  My heart was running like a machine.  The issue was stress.  I have to find ways to relax and calm down.  We started treating the stomach ulcers with a ton of meds.  I am hoping that if I work on chilling out and take the medicine like I’m supposed to, the ulcers will improve or go away. I really do not know how that works.  I am not a scientist.  All I know is I have to take a ton of antibiotics that require me to eat.  When I eat, I throw up. The nausea and the vomiting everyday are improving.  I am hoping some of what I said makes sense and that someone can learn from my mistakes.  It may not always feel like it, but we matter to a lot of people.  When it feels like you don’t, remember someone’s therapist knows all about you. So take care of yourself. Focus on what’s important, relax, and surround yourself with things that make you happy.



#NationalDogDay: Small World

So cool how things work out. Yesterday while working on the yard this dog showed up and went right into the back yard to play with Marley Kate. Leah and I were hesitant at first because well, strange dog and our kid. But we quickly realized this dog was kind as can be. She had no collar on and kept wandering towards the street. We decided it would be best to take her in and try and find her owners. This dog was adorable. She played fetch, she played with the cats, she played with our other dog, and was good to the kids. Later, Leah went online to see if anyone was missing this particular dog. There were pictures a few days ago of a similar dog turning up near the Pearl library. This dog had a collar and the post was old so we thought that lead was a dead end.




The dog wore herself out playing and was resting on the couch when Leah went back outside to check on the car.  Three guys rolled up in a truck and asked Leah, “Have you seen this dog?” They scrolled through pics on their phone and sure enough it was the same dog.  We brought them inside and turns out they had been looking for her for a few days.  That pic at the library was their dog but she had ended up with some shady like folks. Luckily, she ended up here. We reunited them and got to talking with the guys.  They saw the flooring in the corner and asked if they could come back and help us put it in, because we helped them get their dog back.  Once, we exchanged numbers I found out that the owner of the dog is the brother of a young lady that interviewed with me @RUESRCSD this week about a possible internship. Great guys, great family, and awesome way to end National Dog Day. It’s a small world. Funny how things work out and how God brings people, and animals into your life.




“The Drawer”




I have been rethinking my whole theory on “The Drawer.”  “The Drawer” is a way I deal with all of the stuff that happens everyday.  The secret of the drawer was knowing when to take things out of it.  If you try and deal with everything that’s in “the drawer” all at once, you would get overwhelmed. It would break you mentally, emotionally, and physically. You would tackle the drawer the same way you would eat an elephant… one bite at a time.

After I wrote that some good friends told me, “Dude, that’s not healthy. If you keep putting stuff in that drawer and rarely clean it out, the drawer will overflow  spilling out everywhere.

Over the last year, my drawer has started to overflow.  My wife is still recovering from Lyme Disease, then had to have another surgery that didn’t go as planned. My two oldest kids are growing up. Their hormones are making things difficult. Autism & Hormones make things very challenging. Challenging meaning newer different more intense, sometimes violent, meltdowns.  All three kids used to go to the school where I work. This year, the oldest two have moved over to the *High School. AW and the Dude moving to High School terrifies me and is buried DEEP DEEP DEEP in my drawer.  Our house is on Mississippi red clay and the foundation has shifted causing multiple problems in our house with the doors and plumbing.  My minivan needs yet another alternator, and only starts when the moon is sitting right in the sky.  I got really sick this summer and had my gallbladder removed. The kids medical issues, my wife’s surgery and my own have caused medical bills to pile up BAD. There is so much in my drawer, that the tiniest things can make feel terrible. A long time ago the only thing that could make me angry was when my socks would get wet. Now, my iphone won’t charge and it makes me so upset I want to take a nap.


I need to change fast. But how? **Oprah isn’t going to show up and fix all my problems. I can’t just dump my drawer out everywhere daily and roll around in all my problems. The solution? I can change what I put in “the drawer.”  Yes, I have some pretty dark things to worry about floating around in my drawer, but those aren’t the only things in my life. 

“ At times the world may seem an unfriendly and sinister place, but believe me there is much more good than bad.”   – Lemony Snicket


I think the trick is to look around and think about the good things more than the bad. Fill up your brain or “drawers” with what is going right or well in your life. I have a wonderful, creative, and strong family.  I have a home. It’s mine. It has everything we need in it.  I have a car that will get me to and from work each day. I have an AMAZING JOB! This school year is off to a stellar start! The kids really enjoy high school. I GET TO spend my free time with my lovely wife reading books and working puzzles.  There really is so much more good than bad. This theory doesn’t make the bad stuff go away,  but I want to start using the bad stuff as a reminder that I am stronger than my problems.  I can use what I have persevered through to help others and I have a pretty awesome life.  If I can train my brain to focus on the good more than the bad. What is going wrong in my life won’t be able to take up so much space in those drawers anymore.  It will be overshadowed by the awesomeness of what is going right.


*AW and The Dude at High School still terrifies me. However, we are blessed with awesome teachers and aides.


** Oprah doesn’t have to fix my problems but if she wanted to let me hold like 10K I wouldn’t say no.






#OwnTheYearLikeAHero Digital Meet the Teacher! aka Why #Spiderman is my favorite superhero.


I am writing to share an excerpt from our digital meet the teacher. We use our social media pages to introduce our teachers to our families! This year our teachers are sharing their favorite super heroes.  Below is my submission.  Hope you enjoy and can use this idea at your school as well!


Here is a link to our school FB page. Check it out and share with a friend!

@RUESRCSD Facebook Page

              My name is Toby Price. I am the Principal here at Richland Upper Elementary! I am so grateful I get to do what I do every day!

Spider-man is my favorite superhero! I have loved him ever since I rode my bike to the Circle K gas station in fifth grade and bought my first Spidey comic book.  I love Spidey because he is a lot like me.  He was a shy kid, he was very smart and kind of a book worm.  He had a crush on his next door neighbor, but was too scared to tell her.  When I was younger Spider-man was very relatable to me.

Spider-man knows that with great power comes great responsibility. However, he doesn’t let that responsibility weigh to heavy on him.  It’s evident in movies, cartoons, and comics that Spider-man has fun being a superhero.  Whether he is talking smack with bad guys or flying through the air; it’s obvious he loves his job!
My favorite Spider-man story came from Marvel creator Stan Lee. A few years ago at a convention, a fan asked, “Why does Spider-man wear a mask?”  Stan Lee said, “Spidey wears a mask to conceal his secret identity sure, but there was one other more important reason for the mask. He wears a mask so bad-guys can’t tell see that he is really really scared.  Scared? The fan asked for more clarification. How could Spider-man be afraid of anything? Stan replied, “He is a kid, put in incredible situations climbing skyscrapers, swinging through the air, fighting unbelievable monsters. Anyone in his situation would be scared. Doing good things, helping people, and facing bad-guys can be scary but Spidey does it anyway.


I love that story.  Spider-man reminds me to do three things.  First, always find the joy in what I do. Second,  helping people is something we get to do not something we have to do.  Finally, even if you’re scared of something do it anyway.


I am looking forward to getting to serve you and your families!

Toby Price

Principal @RUESRCSD



If You Don’t Talk To Your Kids About Dishwashers, Who Will? #autism

            Kids will find a way.  Cell phones, they will find a way to use them.  Pokemon cards, they will still trade them.  Spinners, they will still spin them. Kids will find a way.  Dishwashers, yup dishwashers… kids will find a way.  

This weekend we were all relaxing enjoying our time off.  My oldest asked for some chicken nuggets.  She needs help working the microwave.  We have been teaching her but sometimes 2:00 minutes accidentally becomes 20:00.  If you cook chicken nuggets for 20:00 minutes in the microwave they are less than edible.  So we got up to help her cook, when I walked into the kitchen I couldn’t believe my eyes.  Giant suds and soap were pouring out of the dishwasher it looked like something out of a bad sitcom. If this had happened ten years ago, we would have reacted….poorly. However, we have been autism parents for 15 years this July, which means bring it on.



Luckily there are 5 of us in our family so we had plenty of dirty towels in the hamper to start drying up the soap and bubbles. Once, we made it to the dishwasher, and cut it off, the suds stopped.  We rinsed off all the dishes, put them in the sink, then pulled the bottom rack out.  Five minutes later our trusty shop vac had that mess gone!

Earlier that day, I remember my wife saying, “Weird. We are out of liquid dish soap. We need to pick some up.” Yeah, we were out for a reason. The Dude was trying to help wash the dishes. He poured the entire bottle of liquid soap into the dishwasher.See, we taught him how to put the dishes away. We even showed him how to load the dishwasher. We skipped the part where we showed him how to start the dishwasher. So he did it anyway and the results were kind of hilarious!


That’s what’s amazing about kids, most of them are fearless. They will try anything whether they know about it or not.  So, I propose this… teach them.  Show them what it looks like to post and interact with people appropriately online. Teach them to play with their cards appropriately during break and or recess. (Pull out some uno cards and play with them) Spinners… show them the right way to spin where it doesn’t disrupt class. They will do those things anyway. The Dude wanted to start the dishwasher. So he did. He didn’t do it right, but his intentions were good. Model appropriate behavior when it warrants it. Show them the right way.

May the Force Be With You,


Toby Price

It doesn’t get easier, you get stronger #autism

Today my family  and I attended a Sensory Friendly Screening of the latest Earth Day documentary from Disney films.  Sensory screenings are great.  They create a safe place for families with kids with disabilities to attend a movie.  The lights are dimmed. Instead of being pitch black.  The sound is turned down, just enough to not hurt sensitive ears. The movie is shown early in the morning before the theater opens so there are little to no crowds.  It gives parents a space to teach their kids how to watch a movie in a place where no one will shush them or give them a hard time.  We have been to about three of these now and they are great.

My family and I like to walk and sit all the way at the top.  McKade, the Dude, has a big bucket of popcorn and a coke.  Addison, my oldest,  brought a purse today with snacks inside that she packed on her own.  We all had a seat and they really did a great job inside the theater today..  The only “non typical” things you could point out would be Addy watching Blues Clues on her iPad.  She has learned to turn the sound all the way down in public.  McKade was a little bouncy but that was it.  I was super proud and grateful for how well they were doing.


My kids are some of the oldest there most weekends.  Addison is fourteen and McKade is thirteen.  It has taken years to get where we could come to a place like this and get through the movie with little to no meltdowns or incidents.  My attention during the movies often goes to the young families and their kids.  I see myself in those parents nervously chasing the kids up and down the aisles, trying hard to shush little voices, or staring exhausted at the ceiling for the few seconds they were able to sit down.  They were at the beginning of a journey I had been on for many years.

I stopped and looked at my two kids sitting there watching the movie and for a split second I thought, “Wow, all those autism books were right. It does get easier as they get older.”  Then someone somewhere looked down at me and said, “Aww sweetie, NO.”

My epiphany of gratitude would have to wait. McKade needed a popcorn refill and bathroom break.  We made our way quickly to the restroom.  He went first, then my turn. I asked him to hold the popcorn bucket while I went.  I turned my back for one second. When I turned back around, the only thing in the restroom was our popcorn bucket. The dude was gone! I ran out of the restroom and looked left, right, back, forth and he was no where to be found! Luckily, the theater wasn’t open.  My kids, and some others with autism, won’t always answer when you call there name. You could yell at the top of your lungs and not get a response. Instead of freaking out I get really still.  I stood there closed my eyes and had a Jedi like moment. I listened and listened really hard.  I heard a vacuum off in the distance, an ice machine dropping ice, and then a slight tiny hahahaha to my left.

I ran into an empty theater of the Fast and the Furious 8, and there was the dude sitting in the top of the theater with his popcorn.  We went and refilled the popcorn bucket and joined my wife and his sister back in the theater.

Autism books I read always said things would get easier as they get older. I don’t think that’s always true.  My kiddos weren’t running up and down the aisles, yelling or having a meltdowns anymore . But in the blink of an eye, my son disappeared in a large strange public place. Things don’t get easier. We, as parents, get better and stronger with each hurdle or obstacle that comes at us. No matter what comes at you, keep on truckin.

Thank you to the Jackson Autism Center and Malco Theaters for arranging the sensory friendly films.

May the Force Be With You,

T Price