This year for teacher holiday gifts I made a few batches of homemade granola.
I gave other jars to family and friends, and I’ve received enough compliments and requests for a “recipe” that I’ll share my method here.
Two years ago I didn’t even think of granola as something that could be homemade. Or if someone had mentioned “homemade granola” I might have imagined a seed and nut mix lovingly assembled by lovely people that I would never get around to eating.
But I got clued in by the Slate Culture Gabfest and this Slate piece, from which I took away the exhortation that granola is best when you treat it like a dessert (rather than “health”) food, plus the fact that you can pretty much make a recipe up for yourself.
For granola I’m pretty sure you need: oats, nuts, fat, sweetener, salt, dried fruit. Basic rule of thumb: if you like the taste of your granola before it goes into the oven, you’ll like how it tastes coming out.
But a method so broad could lead you down the road to bullshit additions like walnuts or pumpkin seeds or vanilla or cloves, so I’ll get more specific about my own choices.
Now, when people ask me if my son will one day live independently, or have a job, or find a partner, I answer them honestly: “I don’t know”. I no longer pretend that I have any idea what will happen in the next year or decade. And I’m so much happier this way.
Matthew puts something into words that I’ve been feeling my way towards for a while. For an autism parent early in the process, or lost in the weeds of it, this can be a challenging concept to embrace.
It is human of us to want to know what it is that we’re dealing with, so that we can feel like we know what to do about it.
And so a lot of time and effort and money and hope gets poured into an array of assessments by professionals with the goal of “finding out” what our children have. Is it Asperger’s or Classic Autism or Sensory Processing Disorder or Fragile X or that heaping pile of noncommitment known of Persistent Developmental Delay—Not Otherwise Specified. Often our child isn’t enough of any one thing to qualify for any of these labels, and we feel even more lost and desperate to understand what it is we should “do.”
Because once we have a label, professionals can tell us “what to do”, and so our time and our effort and our money and hope can get poured into an unending parade of therapies, which can never deliver exacting results, because different kids respond to them in different ways, and to different degrees, and at different stages in their development.
And so the unknown never entirely goes away.
I am thankful every day for my life with Christa. I feel like our marriage has been strengthened, not undermined, by the presence of autism in our lives.
With all the chatter about autism and divorce, I wonder whether the challenge to a marriage is not autism, but the capacity of the couple (and of each person within it) to tolerate the unknown.
For the second year in a row, the principal at our Oakland public elementary school invited me to talk to the parents about Inclusion at Back to School Night.
Our son attends the school via an autism inclusion program, set up by the district’s Programs for Exceptional Children (what many people would call Special Ed).
But as the district doesn’t get how to manage confidentiality issues, it directs its inclusion staff to act “invisible”, and to never talk to anyone about what they do, or why, or for whom.¹
As you can imagine, this creates a lot of confusion—and curiosity—among parents of typical kids who don’t know who this adult is in their child’s classroom, who some people (including the classroom teacher) are pretending isn’t actually there.
Having me, a parent, address other parents, is a way to help dispel some of the confusion and obfuscation the district unintentionally creates.
My talk went something like this:
Here at Joaquin Miller we have lots of different kinds of minds. Our students, our parents, our faculty and staff.
We all have different strengths and challenges.
And an understanding of that fact, and an embrace of it, is one facet of Joaquin Miller’s commitment to supporting the growth of the whole child.