Growing Pains: One Year of Flappiness

 A year ago, I sat on my couch – staring at my computer screen, trying to come up with an original name for a blog.  I don’t remember everything I tried, but I do know just about every domain referencing puzzle pieces is taken.  (I’d like to take the time, on behalf of the autism community, to issue a huge mea culpa to the online jigsaw puzzle industry.  Sorry.)  After giving up on puzzles, I started over with flapping, then flappy, then happy – and Flappiness Is was born. 

I needed an outlet.   I looked at a few autism blogs (quickly realizing special-needs parent blogging wasn’t exactly a new idea).  I noted that most of them had a presence on social media and resolved to do the same.  And then I wrote my first fledgling post.  My goal was simple.  I just wanted to talk to a few people who knew what I was going through. 

And then my world expanded.  I can tell you I never dreamed of the following this blog would attract.  The heartfelt stories of those in the trenches.  Words of wisdom and motherly reassurances from women who’ve already raised their children.  Honest, illuminating, and kind perspectives from self-advocates.  Emails and private messages comparing notes, asking for advice, and saying thank you.  The sharing of tips, advice, resources, information from so many.  I never imagined that this little labor of love would give me so much more in return. 

I’m not the same woman I was one year ago.  My skin is a lot thicker.  I’ve gotten my son formally diagnosed, enrolled him in public school, watched my beloved father pass away, dealt with probate, renovated a house, moved, put my innermost thoughts and feelings on the internet, gone viral, been published in a few places, encountered scathing criticism online, and had a major health scare.  I’m evolving from someone who cared what everybody thought to one who realizes she can’t please them all.  My sense of purpose is growing.  And I’m realizing that I still have dreams of my own that are worth pursuing.

All because of you. 

Yes, this blog has been an extraordinary experience for me.  I still cannot believe that people have been interested in what I’ve had to say over half a million times now.  And I’m so very grateful for it.   I have made amazing friends in this blogging journey.  Wonderful people who have validated my concerns, joys, and even my darkest moments.  Tireless advocates who humble me in their devotion to and efforts on behalf of our cause.  Self-advocates who inspire me to dream big dreams for my son and all those like him. 

Thank you for casting light upon this path, for showing me the surest places to set my feet, and for reaching out to hold my hand.  It’s a good thing to know you’re not alone.

Thank you.





14 thoughts on “Growing Pains: One Year of Flappiness

  1. Angela

    Hugs and congratulations to you from far away in New Zealand. My “auties” are now 21 and 19 and have grown into lovely, caring and pretty capable young adults. Never give up hope-my boy didn’t talk till 6, wasn’t toilet trained till 8 and now he has a rich and full life-yep he still has autism but is happy and healthy and now never stops talking! Our daughter drives a car, works and has good friends and a great life-she is still an “Aspie” but lives her life to its fullest! Kia kaha! This is a Maori saying which means “Stand strong”xxx

  2. Lynne Harrison

    Eloquent as always; I salute you. I am the parent of a child with Autism (Asperger’s Syndrome) and have had more than my fair share of ups and downs. I am one of those tireless advocates you mentioned and even though my son has moved on as a freshman in college hundreds of miles away, I feel driven to help other parents who now walk my walk. I am always moved by your words of inspiration.

  3. Audra Parker

    Wow! I didn’t realize I found Flappiness Is right after you planted the seed. It’s been a great year and I’ve shared many of your blogs with the people I know. I’m a parent of young adults with Autism, an advocate and part of a non-profit that supports familes learning about Autism.. Each time I read one of your blogs, I think back to when my newly diagnosed 3 year old was trying to learn how to navigate my world and I get misty eyed. Then I think about my alomost teenage daughter being diagnosed and then I realize the one thing I and many others can offer you…hope. We made it and continue to advocate for our kids. Callum is so very fortunate to have you as his momma.

  4. Laura

    You are so right – I could not go on and keep fighting (for 12 years now) without knowing that I am not alone. That others are in the trenches like I am, and that many were in the trenches and made it out alive.

  5. Janine S Velasquez

    Help is a beautiful thing! We help you. you help them, they help the others. My brothers were “hyper” growing up, so my Auspi son was no sweat to me, as it was one of those “family things”. When he arrived in school, we found out he was something more, something special, something that had more of a name than just “hyper”. What a suprise! So there I was, 35 years old with a lifetime of experience along side of teen moms and a first time awakening to the non-typical life(s) they were about to lead. Don’t sweat the small stuff, toilet training is a state of mind; if they get the hang of it by Prom thats good too, and you can’t bribe my kid with ONE M&M when the whole time he KNOWS you have a bag full of them! We grow, we learn, we laugh, so thank you for all of that in this world of print. Bless you.

  6. Kathy R.

    Thank you for bringing us along on your journey. I felt so alone 7 years ago when our son was diagnosed. You are one of the very best reasons why we live in a different world today — richer, less scary, better.

  7. Kathy

    Hello – I found the link to this blog post on Facebook via Ontario ARC and, as the mom of a soon-to-be 27 year old, on the Asperger spectrum, your words touched my heart.. My son was identified as developmentally delayed before entering kindgergarten, back when the catch-all phrase was ADHD. As parents, we asked for help for him before he started school: we had our first CSE meeting before he was assigned to a classroom. He was under a Special Ed umbrella from k-12. When he graduated from high school, we had him re-evaluated to see what services he might be eligible for as a young adult and, that’s when the Asperger diagnosis came to light. What we discovered is that he’s too high functioning to qualify for anything so he falls into a kind of grey area. He’s independent in some respects but not independent enough to live on his own. I’m still parenting and this is probably the first place that I’ve felt comfortable saying that. Thanks for letting me do that.

  8. Melanie

    Leigh, I stumbled upon your blog, and now have stayed up way too late, two nights in a row reading all the entries. Your words feel like they came from my heart and my mind. My journey has been very similar to yours, and it seems our boys are very much alike. Our Aidan will be 4 in April. Your words express so much of what I have felt over the last year and a half, and I am so grateful to have found flappiness:) Best wishes to you and your family… I look forward to reading more, and staying up way too late!

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