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.

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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.

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#MTFWBY


TP

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#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.

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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.

#MTFBWY

@jedipadmaster

 

“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

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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.

#KeepOnTruckin

#MTFBWY

 

TP

@JediPadmaster

#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!

TP

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

#WhereKidsWant2BE

#WhereTeachersWant2Teach

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.

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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!

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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,

@JediPadMaster

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.

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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

@jedipadmaster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Star Wars Reads Month @RCSDRUES

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October is #StarWarsReadsMonth To help kick off a month of amazing books, each staff member will share what their favorite thing is to read.

I wasn’t a big fan of reading when I was in elementary school. First of all, I was not good at it. I became frustrated when I tried to read large books my teachers recommended. Second, a lot of what they would suggest didn’t really connect with me. My parents knew how important it is to read. They also knew that the only way for me to get better at reading was to practice reading. So they started buying me comic books. Spiderman, The X-Men, and Captain America had me hooked. I would read 10-20 comics a week. I was able to make a connection with those characters and that is what a teacher did for me later in High School. We were going to read Beowulf in senior english. It was long, written funny, and seemed confusing at first glance. One day during class, she stopped and told me she was going to help me understand. She wanted to help me see that there were things in this story that she knew I would love. It wouldn’t be easy but she would help me every step of the way. That book had monsters, fighting, battles, honor, revenge. So many amazing things. Once I figured out that story, I started wanting more to read. Each day I would buy, check out, and beg for more and more books. If that teacher didn’t take the time to help me make that connection, I don’t know who or where I would be today. 

So in honor of #STARWARSREADS Month I want to share my favorite book. It is so hard to pick just one because every book means something different to me. If I had to pick one it would be “The Princess Bride,” by William Goldman. That book and movie are incredible. It has fencing, monsters, men in masks, and true love! So many wonderful things in one story. I highly recommend parents reading it and sharing with their kids if they would like!

Tune in all month for more reading related posts from our amazing staff.