Monday, December 29, 2014


We just found out we missed the Lowbrow Art and Crafts Fair in nearby Western Massachusetts, where we could have found stuffies that grew out of [name withheld]’s “desire to create a stuffed toy that wasn’t striving for a contrived sense of happiness.” Apparently, such stuffies “let you sit with your feelings.”  2014 has been quite a year for the Full Spectrums, replete with a Full share of disastrophes, laffs, triumphs and “dharma gates"...those stuffies would have sure come in handy...

Welp, even without custom Full Spectrum stuffies, 2014 has been a lot about learning to feel our feelings as a family. For the spectrum-y Spectrums, we are learning to sort and identify what our feelings are, and how they actually feel – in our bodies and minds. For the growing spectrum-y Spectrum, G, we are working on finding the perfect balance between teaching pro-social habits (blowing nose) and **not** teaching him to assimilate as neurotypical. Balance for Z, who has needed stringent rules and oversight for attachment-disordered behaviors, has included progress toward being safe with making some of her own choices, while still feeling held in strong boundaries.

2014 has been an exciting year for this blog, too. Readership doubled (up to 30,000+!), comments have been lively, and  the Sensory Processing Disorder Blog Hop is a hoot and a comfort. I was awarded a funded residency at the Vermont Studio center in 2014, which I was unable to attend because of a lack of childcare; in 2015 I am hoping to be able to attend the Studio Center’s only shorter (one-week) program. I’m excited about beginning my Third Anniversary Post cycle in early January with THIRD ANNIVERSARY LISTS I: ADVOCACY, to be followed by II: ATTACHMENT DISORDERS, III: CHOOSING YOUR BATTLES, and, IV: THE COMPLAINT DEPARTMENT.

I will be accepting COMPLAINTS at my email address,, until late January.

Wishing you a jolly, healthy 2015,
Full Spectrum Mama

Friday, December 19, 2014


I recently became aware of an extension to an earlier hypothesis around the distribution and amelioration of Hard Times. This revelation came about during a moment where it was all I could do to keep my sanity because waaaaaaaaaaay too much stuff was going down. In the presence of my children, I had a major – and, apparently, noticeable --  lapse of my usual Momveneer* of steady competence and cheer – and Guess What!

The kids could actually handle it.

G, usually happily – to his mother, scarily - devoid of Executive Function and Mundane Practical Concerns/Attention, became suddenly attuned to things he’d never seemed to even register before: “Mom, don’t you need to put your turn signal on here?” he asked, to my utter astonishment (filtered through a murky haze of despair). “You seem like you are not focusing,” he told me a few minutes later. “Do you need to take a break?”

Meanwhile Z, who is not known for being forthcoming about her intentions or actions, became crystal clear, meticulous and solicitous: “May I get a glass of water?” (My reaction, percolated via a thick fog of dejection: HUH???) “May I get you a glass of water too?” “How are you doing, Mama?”

It gradually dawned on me that what I was experiencing was a manifestation of The MATURE Hard Times Alternator. I had been well aware of the machinations of The Hard Times Alternator (THTA) in my children, but did not know that it was also potentially a major player in any Full family dynamic. Adults are usually a peripheral factor in the HTA equation. I hadn’t realized grownups sometimes – however momentarily - merit this sort of ethereal (yet, when necessary, child-incorporating) intervention!

Figure I – The Mature Hard Times Alternator in Action, utilizing the

This flare-up of The Mature Hard Times Alternator is not something I would want to incur too often. I like to let my kids be kids, and I think some of their response was out of anxiety. Plus, that sort of disastrophe pile-up is not something I’d like to endure with any frequency. It was nonetheless liberating and reassuring in the way it revealed the junior Full Spectrums’ potential capabilities -- and to see them step up when called for by TMHTA.

This holiday season, may your HTA in be in good working order; and may your MHTA be at the ready…should that by any chance become necessary.

Full Spectrum Mama

*Veneer! I said veneer!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


Please note: this post is part of the Sensory Blog Hop, which is sponsored by the fabulous Jenny (what a great name!) over at The Sensory Spectrum and The Jenny Evolution. I accepted the invitation to participate as a way to get more exposure for FSM, but it has become a wonderful, inclusive, helpful community for all us SPD Blog Hoppers. Please do click on the links below for fresh and inspiring perspectives and meet some very worthwhile new pals.

When my little fella started seventh grade this fall, I very nearly had a nervous breakdown

However, it seems to be going very well..socially...which is...a surprise.

And then there are his grades. Which are terrible.

You see, his ASD and SPD are a big part of his DEFD and this causes a decline in his ABCs.

Get it? No? Please allow me to break it down:

ASD officially stands for Autism Spectrum Disorder. I don’t like “Disorder,” so I end the phrase with Difference. G is on the Autism Spectrum. He’s autistic in the way that used to be officially called Asperger’s.

Among other things, this means G has challenges in the social realm.

SPD officially stands for Sensory Processing Disorder. I do the same here, calling it Sensory Processing Differences. G has sensory processing differences, as most people on the spectrum do, as many people in his biological family – including me – do…

Among other things, this means that G is extraordinarily neurologically and sensorially sensitive in certain ways, while in other ways he may seem “undersensitive.” Put another way, the systems of people with SPD tend to pay more or less attention to feelings and sensory input than is “normal.”
Each person with SPD is different. (Sometimes when one area seems “undersensitive” it is because an individual with SPD is already overwhelmed from “oversensitivity” in another area!)

DEFD stands for Determinants of Executive Function and Dysfunction. Executive Function – the ability to process and enact a series of thoughts and actions in an effective way -  has never been a strong point for G. This fall, his already low levels of EF took a major dive.

So did his grades – his ABCs, if you will.

The way I see it, these acronyms and what they represent in my G (and others) are all intimately connected: Each person has a given amount of energy. When it takes More energy just to function socially, resources available for other aspects diminish.

I figure there’s only so much G to go around, and, currently, it’s almost entirely being utilized in this area of Social Skills -- which has been a lifelong challenge for him.

                       Figure I – Allocation of Energy Pie Chart                

He's enjoying seventh grade (?!)  – and “extremely popular.” I should note that from what I can see and from what G tells me (limited!) this all seems to be happening on G’s terms, that is to say he is popular and liked For Himself, the quirky and brave kid that he is [sniff!].  Given this turn of events, I pooh-pooh EF and the desire for As (…and Bs…).

For now.

Full Spectrum Mama

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


It's that time of year when some of us lucky chums begin to feel more complainous.

What's that you say? Any time of year is a good time to feel complainous? Why, that's why Partial/incomplete Monochrome Persona (PiMP) and Full Spectrum Mama (FSM) have teamed up to create that handy dandy button over there on the right so that any time can be a complaint time.  

However, the “holiday season” can be quite grim. Knowing that your COMPLAINTS will be complained in a timely fashion for our annual COMPLAINT DEPARTMENT anniversary guest post -- with all the flair of PiMP! -- might be Just The Thing to ease your holiday woes.

This year, we at TCD continue to accept Junior Complaints, Short Complaints and Long Complaints, all to be suitably complained. Acceptable COMPLAINTS may be funny, whiny and/or dire. Please send all COMPLAINTS to  

All this is not to say, as per usual, that TCD is open.  Yet somewhere…far, far away…lies the always-accepting, ever-enduring, firmly-shut COMPLAINT DEPARTMENT. You may be assured of that, alrighty.

Partial/incomplete Monochrome Persona
Guest writer/Troubleshooter @ Full Spectrum Mama