“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










Star Wars Reads Month @RCSDRUES



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.

Put it in the drawer…#manvsautism

Everyone has that drawer in their house. You know the one. You put important things in there. Things you may need later and don’t want to lose. That drawer probably looks like this…


Special Needs Parents have a drawer too…

“How do you all do it?”

Sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we cry. We get upset. We are mad at the world. Sometimes we sit and listen to Florence and the Machine and stare off into space from our hammock. Sometimes when one of us down, the other always has a brave face and a smile. That way others think all is well.

Sometimes we put our problems we don’t want to deal with in “the drawer.’  It’s pretty crowded too. Global warming is in there.  All of our medical debt and student loan debt is in there too.  Addison’s upcoming appointment to be fitted for her wheelchair… that’s in “the drawer.”  Addison’s surgery to break and reset both her legs if her physical therapy doesn’t work…. WAY in the back of “the drawer.” Leah’s back and forth battle with lyme disease and all of the neurological issues it has caused….  throw it in the drawer.

It’s great to be able to put things in the drawer. We are able to get along and function because of that drawer. Here’s another secret. We don’t leave things in the drawer. That would be unhealthy and irresponsible. The secret of the drawer is knowing when to take things out of it.  If you try and deal with every thing thats in “the drawer” all at once, you will get overwhelmed and it will break you mentally, emotionally, and physically. You tackle the drawer the same way you eat an elephant… one bite at a time. (The elephant eating is a metaphor. I don’t condone eating elephants. I love Dumbo and support all Pachyderms)  We tackle the items in the drawer, when they need to be dealt with. Word of advice. If you know a special needs parent and you know about some items that could be in their drawer. Don’t go into the drawer  and pull out the problem they put in there. Let them deal with the problem in the drawer on their own terms.  If you make them deal with it too soon. You are messing with number one secret that explains “How We Do It!”

We hope that we never have to deal with the issues in the drawer. We hope that things will get better and that the drawer will slowly empty on its own.  Let me show you.  We hope that Addison’s Physical Therapy fixes the issues with her legs so we don’t have to have surgery. We hope that Leah’s medicine keeps working and she stays healthy.  So now that you know the secrets of how we do it, share it. Share this with a friend who may need an evening of sappy music and hammock time. Share it with a friend who may not know that they have  “the drawer” to use.  Share it with a friend who may need a little hope.


Thanks for reading

Toby Price @JediPadMaster #MTFBWY #manvsautism

Guest Post: What does an Early Childhood Educator do?#manvsautism #autism


I have never had anyone ask to share a post on my blog before. I had so many questions whirling around my brain. What would they write? Would it be good? Is it something interesting? Will there be astute pop culture references sprinkled throughout?  Turns out I had nothing to worry about.  The ladies from @LearnSafari put together a great piece about early childhood educators. I hope you enjoy and share.

Toby- #manvsautism


As an early childhood educator, my job is to teach young children and support their families as they transition through every area of development. Although it’s not glamorous or very lucrative, it is extremely rewarding! The early years of childhood are crucial and as teachers, we get to take advantage of this time to mold children and give them the basic skills that will dictate their ability to learn and relate to others for the rest of their lives. We help influence how and why children learn, we help teach them to love reading, we help them learn how to form healthy relationships, and we are the ones who will help moms and dads wade across those crazy and emotional first few years of a child’s life. We are also partners with parents when children show some development and/or learning delays; when it comes to learning issues, there are a few things that we want you, as parents, to know!



  1. We intentionally observe your child
    As a teacher, one of the most crucial tasks I perform is that of child observation. We conduct several different types of observations, including development assessments, knowledge assessments, observations while they are on the playground, observations during free play, during circle time, during small groups, etc. We are on the lookout for skills the children need to work on in order to keep moving forward. As an objective observer (so difficult because we come to love all the children as our own) we will screen for developmental delays or difficulties, and if we notice issues in which a child is struggling, we will look for tools and activities that can help that child master, or at least improve, a skill. There are times, however, when the issue at hand points to a need for further assessment and intervention. This is one of the most difficult parts of the job, where we have to bring our concerns to parents, who often times have an extremely difficult time hearing that there is “something wrong” with their child.


Please hear us when we say that there is nothing ¨wrong¨ with your child. We love the children that we teach and when we come to you with a concern, it’s because we want to do what is best for the kids. We know that children develop at different rates, they have different skills and abilities, and they have different struggles. We want to make sure they get the necessary intervention as early as possible, so that they can learn to work to overcome their struggles.


  1. We individualize learning and focus on the specific needs of your child


One of the benefits of being an early childhood educator, is that our teacher to student ratios are favorable and strict. We are not overwhelmed with an unmanageable number of children and we take steps to work with each child’s individual and specific needs.


When we notice developmental delays in a child, we do not automatically assume they have a specific issue that needs to be diagnosed. We do not assume that they have autism, or ADHD, or that they may be dyslexic. We are not trying to label children. Instead, we devise a specific plan to help children overcome any problems and further their growth and learning. We realize that sometimes children just need opportunities to learn and practice new skills and that all children develop at different rates.


  1. Seeking out Intervention


After working with your child for a significant amount of time (remember, we spend a lot of time with them on a daily basis) we may not see any growth or improvement and we may even notice other issues that he or she may be dealing with. It is at this point that we will need to seek out intervention.


Our job is not to diagnose! As an early childhood educator, I may have ample experience with children who have a variety of learning delays, but I am not a clinician. It would be irresponsible of me to give a specific diagnosis, but it would be equally irresponsible of me to not fill you in on my concerns. I would first request a conference with you and go over any assessments and observations that I have on your child. I would go over the growth they have experienced and I would talk to you about the milestones and standards that children at your child’s specific age are usually meeting. I would then offer you an opportunity to have someone from an intervention program work with your child and I would also recommend that you take these concerns to your doctor.


At this point, I have done my due diligence and I will continue to work with your child. However, I cannot force a parent to take these issues seriously and I can’t even ask for help without a parent’s consent. But please, please do not ignore a teacher who comes to you with concerns! Maybe the teacher is wrong, but the worst thing that could happen is that you see a professional who puts your mind at ease. If there are issues, then the earlier you find intervention for your child, the better for your child’s development and quality of life!

As teachers, sometimes need help! We don’t always know how to specifically reach your child, but if we work together with you and with other experts, we can provide the very best framework for your child’s development. When developmental delays are noticed early, and a child is provided with the tools and experiences that are appropriate for their individual needs, the rate of success they experience in their lives is so much greater. We need to be partners with you in your child’s development journey and as teachers, we are here to support you!



Again, even if you discover that your child has a learning delay or disability, we want you to know that there is nothing wrong with your child. For parents, discovering that their children are struggling in certain areas, can be a very emotional and trying time. It’s important to remember that children can fulfil their enormous potential when we offer them support and opportunities. Children should always be given opportunities to explore art, music, language, science, and any other area of interest that will be enriching to their personal experience. Don’t be afraid of exposing them to new things just because they might be struggling in other areas and always remember that your child’s teachers are always on your side!


About the author

A graduate from the University of Florida, Keli Garcia Allen is a certified Spanish teacher and currently works as a preschool teacher in a bilingual classroom. She is the Lead Content creator for Learn Safari. She is currently working with her team on the development of their first learning program, Spanish Safari, an online game that will help children from ages 5 to 9 learn and practice Spanish. She is a blogger, a public speaker, and a mommy to two beautiful, bilingual daughters.