Kids are awesome! #manvsautism

My wife has been subbing in 5th grade for the last few weeks. The other day during recess, #TheDude ‘s class was out at recess while they were. All of their teachers do an amazing job of making sure they are around typical kids as much as possible. (Not just at recess) I went outside to say hi, and check on all of them. I saw my wife speaking to #TheDude .  I could tell he was in trouble just by reading their body language. I was right.

He had peed on an anthill during recess. My wife and I both were upset. Mostly, for him. We always fear that they will do something that draws unneeded attention to themselves. But something odd happened. No one laughed. No one pointed. They were not talking about it at all. It only happened for a few seconds before he was corrected.  The kids were totally understanding. But, they did not stop there. Some of the boys could tell Mrs. Price was still upset about what had  happened. They came to her later that day and said, “Mrs. Price, I pee on anthills all the time at home. I like watching the ants run around. I bet #TheDude did too. It’s not a big deal.”  Several of the kids echoed their own peeing on anthill stories during the rest of the day. They all said the same thing. We did it too. It’s not a big deal. I am so grateful to work with such awesome kiddos.


TP @JediPadmaster

It made me think of this awesome Kid President quote.


My 9 year old therapist… #manvsautism



The other day my kids iPad mini was bricked by the iOS 9.3 update. It would go online, but would not connect to the app store or any other apple server. The browsers were not working correctly either. I went through all the normal steps I knew to try and reboot it and or restore it.  We don’t have a working home button so a hard restore was impossible. I was running out of ideas. I am supposed to be able to fix anything. I could not connect to the apple server to turn off find my iPad to restore through iTunes.  It was late in the day. I was out of options. I did the one thing tech guys loathe doing… I called tech support. Before I got on the phone with someone, I found a reset that actually worked. I had to start back over from scratch with everything.  I could download some of the kiddos favorite apps so, I was happy.

When I finally got home that day my tech Cheese touch continued.  When I walked in the door, Leah had that look. The look that matched the sound coming out of Addison’s room. She was howling. For some reason, the kids iPads were all asking for our home wifi password. Which thanks to AT&T, is a cryptic mix of numbers, letters, underscores, hieroglyphics, and punctuation marks. Basically, it was hard to put in for kiddos with fine motor skills. It is almost impossible to type in while two of those kids are pretty ticked off that the internet isn’t working. I got a hold of each device and got them all back online. Everyone was happy. Everyone except me. I could not get my mac air to sign in. I tried everything. I was tired. I needed to work on my book. I broke down and called tech support. Yup, two times in one day. I am so glad I did too. I never would have known to do the trick the very kind lady on the phone taught me. She got me back online in no time. But then I worried. I call myself the @JediPadmaster. I am supposed to be able to speak to the tech with my mind. Am I slipping? Have I lost my touch? Am I going towards the Dark Side? Is my lightsaber even real? Is it just a toy from the Walmart?

I was asking these questions out loud while getting ready for school the next day. MKP answered & decided to help clear it up for me….

MKP our 9 yr old… Dad, the problems you had with the computers were not because you were losing your Jedi Powers. Jedi are fictional characters from a movie. (She went all Affleck in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back)


She was not done. “I think it’s cool that you have an active imagination, but you are not a real Jedi. You are just really smart with computers and stuff. Plus, calling tech support is smart. It is ok to ask for help if you run into a problem you don’t understand. You are still a Jedi if you believe you are…”

She’s my 9 year old therapist. I wanted to be mad for the whole Jedi are fictional characters comment but she was spot on. I said, “Hmm you are right! I am a Jedi! Plus, my lightsaber is real!”

Believe… May the force be with you!

TP @jedipadmaster


She gave me my kid back… I was glad to return the favor

Earlier today, I heard someone’s horn honking in the front yard. Most of us would not think twice about it, but we aren’t most people. Because our kids have autism, and have left the house so many times on their own, we jump when someone honks near our house. I went outside and found cars backed up and down the street. They were desperately trying to corral a small friend who had left their house with out a grown up.



She was adorable. She came right to me. I was super worried that someone had hit her with a car she was a little wobbly. We didn’t put her on Facebook or list her as found because she was a fancy dog. Pugs like her, would have had everyone and their mother coming to tell me she “belonged” to them. We were just going to watch the message boards and take her to our vet to see if she was chipped.


I admit, I spent the whole day snuggled up with her and was becoming attached. We leave the windows open a lot. Around 7:30, I saw a car driving slowly down our street. Their windows were down.  They even had their flashers on. I could have ignored it. Kept the awesome puppy, but I knew I could not do that.My conscious would have worn me down.  I went outside, sat down and waited.  Eventually that car came back up our street. I stopped her and asked her what was wrong. She said she was looking for her pug puppy. I took her inside and Leah helped reunite them.  I was sad, but grateful I did the right thing. The lady was super sweet and the puppy, Gracie, was so glad to see her owner. After she left, Leah looked me in the eyes and said you did the right thing. Yeah, I know. She said, “Do you know who that lady is?” Umm not really.

Seven years ago, that nice lady heard her dogs barking around two am.  When she went to check on them, she saw my Addison, six years old, at the time running down the street. She knew about Addy but wasn’t sure where she lived. She knew she needed to call the police. Because of this nice lady, the firemen, paramedics, and police were able to get Addison back to us. I was super happy to return the favor today.  It’s amazing how everything happens for a reason.





Who would be on your Zombie IEP support team?

My name is Toby, and I like the Walking Dead. First, let me state. I do not let my kids watch it. I will not have it on if they are awake. It is not for kids. Second, I do not like scary movies. I have three kids, two with autism and work in Education in Mississippi. My real life, at times, is scarier than anything on television or at the movies. But, I love this show!

It’s the people that draw me in. At the heart of the it isn’t about Zombies aka Walkers. It is about a family.  It is about a dad that is trying to take care of his kids in a scary, dangerous, and unpredictable world. His family is made up of people that were brought into his life when their world changed drastically. I can draw so many weird parallels that help make this show so relatable.

I am a dad. I have three kids, two with autism. I am terrified of the things that could happen to them on any given day. I wake up each morning trying to teach them how to survive in a crazy, dangerous, and unpredictable world.  Just like Rick on the show. Most of our “family” consists of people who may not share our blood but they are closer to us than the people who do. We look out for each other, offer support, and keep each other safe. Just like the family on the show.

What really draws me into the show is that the people there are looking for hope. Hope in a world that is bleak and desolate. They wake up each day hoping that it can be better. Who does not need more hope? I know I do. My wife and I discuss the things that happen a lot on the show.

We were speaking the other night and we got to talking about which walking dead character would you most like to have at an IEP meeting with you? We had a long conversation.  I had some thoughts and decided to share them on twitter. I asked my friends in my PLN the same question. What character from the show would you want as an advocate and why?  Tonight’s #manvsautism  chat will ask that same question. Who from the Walking Dead would you want in your corner? Answer from a parent’s perspective. Answer from a teacher’s perspective. Then lets start to think about why we would want them? What characteristics do they bring to the table? How can we introduce those same characteristics into our own IEP meetings? (Without Rick, Daryl, and a bunch of Walkers showing up!)

Tonight we talk IEP, WALKERS, and who you would want in your corner. Stop by #manvsautism  chat on twitter at 8:30 central! See you then!









A different way to think about Spring Break

I am excited about the upcoming Spring Break. My wife and I are looking forward to reading, wearing out some Netflix, working on the yard, and playing with the kids. I am so pumped, I want to turn a cartwheel. But I won’t ( I could break something).  My own kids would rather be at school each day. They love being around other kids and thrive on the routine school gives. School is one of the few times, they get to be around typical kids their own age. (Especially kids who know them and treat them like friends) My own kids don’t like the break. I bet you have a lot of kids who would rather skip the break too.  School offers a lot of our friends things they can’t get any where else.   School gives a lot of our students two guaranteed meals. School is the only place where someone is happy to see them. School is a break for some of our kids. A break where they just get to be themselves & don’t have to tend to their younger siblings. School is a place where they get to make things with cool markers, crayons, papers, duct tape and glue. School is a place full of wonderful books to read. School is consistent, constant, and safe. Not every kid dreads Spring Break, but for the ones that do let’s try this…

  1. Ask them if they want to take some books home to read over the break.
  2. Let them borrow some markers, colors, or paper. You know who likes to create and may not have the materials at home.
  3. Find a way to load some up with some snacks, if you think food may be an issue over the break.
  4. Remind them that you will be there for them when they get back!
  5. Let them know how you “secretly” don’t like these long breaks either and can’t wait until we GET to come back.

So celebrate the break with your family and friends. Also, think about  your students who understand that school is something they GET TO DO not just something they have to do. Help them by showing them just a little bit of extra time, attention, and kindness.

May the force be with you.



Isn’t That Impossible?


Isn’t That Impossible?

Leah’s best friend from Ohio had flown down to Biloxi to visit. She invited our whole family to come and stay with her and her new husband at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. We were so excited. Ok, I was a little excited. I was mostly nervous because we haven’t stayed away from home since Marley was born. The kiddos were still very young and very set in their ways. We drove three hours to BIloxi and had a great day at the beach visiting with friends. We made our way to the hotel and then it happened. Addison got upset. I am talking epic meltdown upset the minute we pulled into the hotel parking garage. Why? Because it was night time and what we were doing was not part of her typical night time routine. The hotel room was amazing, probably one of the nicest I had ever seen. We got the kids in the room. We gave them their medicine. Addison could not calm down.  We tried everything we could to prolong our stay but nothing was working. Addison wanted to be in her room back in her house.. So we did the only thing we thought would help… we drove the three hours back home so she could sleep in her bed.  It was awful. We cut the trip short. We felt totally defeated. It was the first time we had tried an overnight family trip and it went horribly wrong. Was it always going to be like this? Would we never be able to take an overnight trip with the kids?


I cannot tell you how many experts told us how bad things were going to be for us and our kids.  We were told if McKade was not speaking by now he probably never would.  I remember taking Addison to see a doctor for an evaluation. They told us she was mentally retarded and would require help with even the most basic skills. Because Addison and McKade were both on the autism spectrum those same experts told us statistically that Marley Kate would have autism. When the kids were diagnosed, we were told that eighty two percent of couples with one child who has a disability divorce. We would have had to get divorced, then remarried and divorced again just to keep up with the odds. Screw the odds.

McKade can speak. He will answer questions in context. He will even start some spontaneous conversations. Addison has more than surpassed the label that they tried to stick to her. She has started reading basic sentences in class. This year for the first time, she told us her first and last name when we asked! Marley Kate does not have autism. She is nine going on thirty seven. She has aspirations of helping people with autism, designing homes, and traveling to the site where the Titanic sank. McKade is great at math, building legos, and can cook his own scrambled eggs. Addison loves to paint and recently started writing! All of the kids accomplishments have taken a little longer than the norm to happen but they still happened. Potty training the first two kids took almost seven years. A long hard seven years but we got there. Marley decided at about 18 months that she would be potty trained. We told her to pace herself. Based on our experience she had about six more years to knock that goal out.

Han Solo said “Never Tell Me the Odds.” Because to him it did not matter what should happen. He was going to do it anyway. We adopted that same idea in this house. It does not matter what should happen. We are going to get our kids where we want them to be no matter what other people tell us should happen.

Legislators will impose rules, regulations, and standards that will make our jobs harder. We will be low on supplies, short on time, and patience. We will be physically and mentally drained by the expectations that are placed on us by educators.  We will still teach. We will still bring kids from where they are to where they need to be. No matter what the odds say. Do not listen to what others tell you about kids and the odds of your success.  You have to focus on what our students can become. Remember why you started doing what you do and face the odds head on! The first step in overcoming insurmountable odds is believing you can. It may take a little time to complete the impossible, but it can be done.
Our first trip with the kids ended horribly. We drove home three hours and ended our trip before it really even started. Addison panicked because we were in some strange hotel and not her room. Now, Addison would rather stay in a hotel than at her house. She has traveled all over Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, and Florida. We even spent Christmas at Disney World. The kids will take a trip at the drop of a hat. Screw the odds. We were not supposed to be able to stay married, but we did.  Addison was not supposed to be able to read, but she did. McKade was not supposed to be able to speak, but he did.  Why, because we believed we could.


“Is that even possible?”

“I never answer that question until after I’ve done it.”

Han Solo

Take the Pledge! #STARWARS

I remember the first time I saw Back to the Future 2 in theaters. I had no idea it would end that way! The only thing I knew about Back to the Future 3 was what I saw in the teaser at the end of part 2.  I left the theater excited because of the cliff hanger and exhilarated to wait and see how the whole thing would end. It was a prime example of delayed gratification.

Thanks to social media delayed anything these days is almost extinct. So here is what I propose. Let’s do whatever we can to keep Force Awakens Spoilers off of our Social Networks. Don’t read them. If you do, don’t share them. Let’s keep it magical. Let’s wait and enjoy it in the theaters. Keep sharing to the following minimum spoiler free posts.

Possible posts you can make after seeing the movie…

I did/did not like #TheForceAwakens #NoStarWarsSpoilersPledge

I will/ will not see #TheForceAwakens again  #NoStarWarsSpoilersPledge

My kids liked/ did not like #TheForce Awakens  #NoStarWarsSpoilersPledge

I won’t see the movie on opening day. I am taking my son and daughter to see it too. He has autism and doesn’t always do well in large crowds. So we are going early on a Sunday a few days after it premieres. During that time, I am going to fight the urge to look. I want to be surprised and amazed when I watch it on the big screen. When you see it, keep your posts vague. Keep your posts spoiler free. Keep the experience magical for as many people as you can.



Thank you for taking the pledge to share #NoStarWarsSpoilersPledge

Thank you for reading.

May the force be with you.

Toby- Wan Kenobi