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Autism with a Side of Fries | Ask a Mom VIDEO

Autism with a Side of Fries Eileen Shaklee on Ask a Mom MomCave logo

Eileen Shaklee, better known as “Mama Fry,” is the mom behind the popular blog, Autism with a Side of Fries. (autismwithasideoffries.blogspot.com) Besides sharing touching AND funny moments in her journey parenting a teen with autism, Eileen has become an advocate and changemaker in the autism world.

In this episode of “Ask a Mom,” Eileen answers FAQs about autism in a simple, fun, and engaging way.

The full transcript of our chat is below the video. (But watching the video is WAY more fun!)

Your Autism Questions Answered by Autism with a Side of Fries Eileen Shaklee

Jen: It’s the segment that we do nowadays, called Ask a Mom, where I take internet-famous moms, and YOU are internet-famous, Eileen. And I ask them things, and you guys can ask them anything. So just leave questions in the comments, and you know, you can ask Eileen anything. She might not answer everything- but you can ask her anything whatsoever. Hi, Eileen, how are you?

Eileen Shaklee: I’m good. Thanks for having me be here today. Hello, Mom Cavers, how are you? Hope everyone’s having a good day.

Jen: I hope so, yeah. I’m so glad to have you here. For those of you that don’t know, Eileen is the mom behind Autism With a Side of Fries, which is a blog, a Facebook page. It’s all the things. And she writes things that are funny, touching, relatable, and also informative.

Eileen Shaklee: I try.

Jen: Yeah. And so I know that because this month is Autism Awareness Month, and of course, we’re going to talk about that. I have a little thing… Oh, look, I had a little symbol, ah-ha. Since it’s Autism Awareness Month, and we can definitely talk about that, and we should, and we’re gonna… I have questions for you about being a mom of a kid with autism, and about autism. But I just want to say that you’re so much more than a mom of a kid with autism. And I bet, I don’t know, I’m kind of putting myself in your shoes. So tell me if I’m wrong, but I bet like every time you have an interview or something, that’s all they want to talk about. And you’re so much more. So, like… I know you, the parenting stuff that you write is funny, and it applies to parenting in general as well. And I just want people to know that they can ask you about anything. Again, you don’t have to answer it, but yeah. So Xiomara says, “I love Eileen. I followed her here.”

Eileen Shaklee: Oh, yeah. I know her. Hi, how are you, Xiomara?

Jen: They followed you. People are following you around, and I’m attempting to be live on Instagram at the same time. Instagram people, you’re seeing the funny setup. Okay. So Eileen, we did a live once before, I’m sure.

Eileen Shaklee: A long time ago, yes.

Jen: I had to look up the date today. Do you remember? Do you remember the year?

Eileen Shaklee: I was trying to think of it the other day. ‘Cause there was… I was remembering that it was 2014?

Jen: Close.

Eileen Shaklee: ’15?

Jen: 2015.

Eileen Shaklee: Oh my goodness. 2015.

Jen: In it, I was pregnant with my second child, who’s now almost six, and we did a live, which was then on YouTube. I think there wasn’t even Facebook Live back then.

Eileen Shaklee: No, I don’t think that was an option then. Yeah. Wow. That’s way back when.

Jen: Yes, and I had found you back then at first through a blog post that you wrote about, that was meant for parents whose children had just been diagnosed with autism, and the blog was called, “How Not to Lose Your Shit.”

Eileen Shaklee: Yep. “How Not to Lose Your Shit.”

Jen: And you gave really great examples. and we talked about that. So anybody who wants to see that, we, you know, I can put a link to it later. But look, I found the thumbnail. It was fun. And we had a lot of fun talking. And I just, I dunno. So, but this time, I think it’ll be it’ll be cool to have, people can, in the comments over here, ask anything that they want. But I have some like really general questions, I wonder, if you wouldn’t mind asking. ‘Cause you’re like my expert when it comes-

Eileen Shaklee: Sure.

Jen: And whenever I have a question about autism, I look to your page first, cause you’re up on everything. So the most basic question of all, for people who are watching, and I know this isn’t an easy question. What is autism? How would you define it?

What IS autism? How do you define it?

Eileen Shaklee: Oh, okay. Well, first I’m gonna say it. I know the autism that I’m expert in is my son’s autism.

Jen: Individually, of course.

Eileen Shaklee: But, autism is most important to remember, it is a spectrum disorder, meaning you will have no two people with autism are the same. They will need different supports. They will have different strengths. But if you’re looking for more in general terms, it’s a neurological condition. It is one where it affects communication skills, social skills. It can affect sensory processing issues, with how how someone hears something, see something, feeling something.

And you know, my son is an example of that, is a sensory seeker, as they call it. He was always on the move. He’s always on the go. He likes to run. He likes to be physical, jumping on the trampoline. He loves that kind of sensory input. He is… not too much with the other sensory stuff. He’s pretty good about that stuff, but things that I will find extremely loud as a mother, because, let’s face it, our ears are pretty much toast, as moms, he loves. And you know, but he has classmates that will walk around wearing headphones to help protect their ears, because they are so auditorially sensitive to things. So noises that are just very nondescript to us, they can hear. Like, they’ll hear the buzzing of a fluorescent overhead light. They can hear it. Even just lighting sometimes, it can bother them. I know another one of his classmates has occasionally worn sunglasses, because the lighting, he just prefers it to be lower, you know, more shade. So that’s another component with autism, but you know, autism, a lot of times in the media is portrayed as, unfortunately, a very “Rain Man” Lake stereotype, where they’ve got some super special skill, where they can, you know, drop the toothpicks on the floor and be able to count them. And that is so not the case. That is not the autism, especially that we’re dealing with in my house. But for most of the general public as well, that is just not the case. So I would tell anyone if they wanted to know more about autism, follow more blogs, less TV .

Jen: That’s a pretty good rule about like anything you want to become an expert in, not just autism. Read more, less TV. Kelly’s saying “Mama Fry’s the best. She’s helped me with my own son’s diagnosis.” That’s awesome.

Eileen Shaklee of Autism with a Side of Fries: Oh, hi, Kelly. Oh, and hi, Dina.

Jen: Dina’s watching. Hi, Dina. So is autism a disability?’

Is Autism a Disability?

Eileen Shaklee of Autism with a Side of Fries: Yes. I mean, for lack of better words, it is. My son has a disability, which means he needs supports. He doesn’t go to a traditional school. He actually goes to a school that is just for students with autism. But that’s not to say that every child with autism goes to a specialized school for it. For many years, in fact, my son went to a typical public school, until that school system wasn’t able to give him the proper classroom environment that he needed to to succeed in. And there are lots of kids that thrive in the public, you know, typical public school environment, and do well in it.

My son has what is called an IEP. It’s called an individual education plan, which means his learning is not traditional. We set goals every year with his teaching staff about the things he’s going to work on every year. You know, my son is 16, he’ll be 17 next month. Whereas, you know, a teenager might be doing more, you know, a typically developing teenager is doing the usual subjects of geometry, calculus, you know, history, and English lit. My son is working on life skills, vocational training skills, you know, basic, independent living. So his school day is very different than a typical teenager’s, just from top to toe. I mean, just even the basic on his class size, using the tiny little, tiny classroom. He’s not going in and out of classrooms all day. He’s not going in and out of the locker all day. So yeah, his whole, you know, an IEP is great, because it’s customized to what that child needs. So I always say that to parents, like that is the goal. You want that IEP, because if something’s not getting done, you can just pull it up, and be like, here’s the receipt, boom. Like, it needs to be getting done.

Jen: Got it in writing. That’s always important with so many things.

Eileen Shaklee: Exactly, yes.

Jen: Everybody who’s watching, if you have any comments for Eileen, just drop them… I mean, comments, questions, drop them in the comments, and it be about anything. It doesn’t have to be about autism. It can be about anything. But most of our questions, mine are about autism, because I don’t know that much about it, and you are my expert. Xiomara said, “‘The Good Doctor’ type.” That’s another stereotype of autism. I love that show, but yes. Not everything’s like that.

Eileen Shaklee: Well, you know, it’s funny. I’ve watched exactly one episode of that show, and a lot of people saying, “Whoa, you don’t watch it?” Or when “Parenthood,” that was another show that was on that had an autism, an autistic character on there. Like, “You didn’t watch it?” I’m like, “No.” And I’m like, “I live with it.” Like to me, it’s just-

Jen: You don’t need to immerse yourself, right?

Eileen Shaklee: Yeah, like, you know, like I gave at the office. That’s always my thing. I gave at the office. I don’t need to see it on TV. And mostly, it’s because of that, it’s that it’s not the autism that I can relate to, because I don’t live with that. I’m not denying that it exists, but it’s not what’s goin’ on here .

Jen: Well, I love it. And it’s a spectrum, as they say. And like all of human behavior and neuro-biology is a spectrum. Nobody is exactly the same. So it’s just trying to kind of make these groups, so we can sort of help, and diagnose. But yeah, Dina says, “My son is thriving, thanks to the IEP, and the help he gets. He has a reading issue, and ADHD.” Yup. So yeah, the IEP is so important. How do you diagnose autism?

How do you diagnose autism?

Eileen Shaklee of Autism with a Side of Fries: Well, you start with the basics. You go to the pediatrician first. I would tell any parent, if they were concerned about the child’s development, you need to see your child’s pediatrician. The people who can diagnose autism are developmental pediatricians, which is a sub-specialty, or a child psychiatrist, or a child, a neurologist, that, like a pediatric neurologist, that is an expert in their field. This is not to say that some adults don’t get diagnosed later in life. They have.

I know many a parent of an autistic child that once they started going through the process of getting their child diagnosed, realized, “Hey, I do that.” “Hey, I did that.” “Hey, that’s something I went through.” And they were never diagnosed as children. And they then go through the process of themselves getting diagnosed, which is in a whole other thing. But boy, isn’t that interesting? Because they had things going on in their lives. And especially with women, more than anything, are very underdiagnosed with autism, because how autism presents in women as opposed to men is so completely different. And a lot of it, there is a, I don’t want to say a sexism base to it, but it’s a lot of… A lot of women I know who are adult, statistics said it was, you know, they were told they were overly emotional, dramatic, you know-

Jen: Ah, we’re just all that way. All women.

Eileen Shaklee of Autism with a Side of Fries: Yeah, just like, “Oh, you’re that crazy woman syndrome. You’re just hysterics.” And it wasn’t. It was, or, “Oh, you just have a learning disability.” Or you’re just, you know, you have an attention issue. And it was all under this umbrella of actually being autistic. And a lot of doctors just… It’s gotten better now, as time has gone by. But definitely, there is a wave of women that were never diagnosed as younger children.

Jen: That’s so interesting.

Eileen Shaklee: Yeah.

Jen: Because as we were talking about like some of the autism portrayals in TV and movies, I can only think of male autism portrayals off the top of my head. I can’t even think of any women-

Eileen Shaklee: Exactly.

Jen: That’s interesting.

Eileen Shaklee: Exactly. That actually bugs me. Well, when that show, The Good Doctor,” did come out, somebody said to me, they’re like, one of the reasons, like, “Why aren’t you gonna watch it?” I’m like, I said, “Why do we need to see another portrayal of a guy with autism?” Like, that was my first thing. I’m like, when are we going to get a woman with autism on TV ? I wanna see that.

Jen: I know. Those writers have got to be thinking about introducing a female autistic character.

Eileen Shaklee: Exactly.

Jen: They’ve got to be thinking about it. Writers, get on that. But so what kind of tests and things do they do when they’re diagnosing?

What tests diagnose autism?

Eileen Shaklee: Well, in the case, like for my son, we started when he was around two, it’s just… To them, they don’t know they’re being tested. That’s like the thing, like when they’re little. They just think they’re playing with these really new, neat people that are coming in. So they’re assessing their skills. They give parents very big, scary booklets, where it’s just, you know, every question has the answer of always, sometimes, maybe. You know, one of those types of… And there’s usually like a hundred of those questions. Like, can your child imitate things that you do around the house? Like, do they do pretend play? Do they dress themselves? Do they respond to their name? Do they engage in social activities with other children of their age? Do they do parallel play with kids of their age? You know, things like that. So yeah, you get this big fat, scary booklet as a parent, when you have to answer about a zillion questions in it.

And then they’re observing them as well. It’s usually a team of people that do it, and that’s kind of how the ball starts rolling with it. And you go from there. The key is, I tell any parent, especially when their kid is under three, early intervention is so critical for helping child to overcome the basic challenges. I mean, you know, if you thought a two-year-old had a hard time expressing their big feelings, well, imagine you’re a two-year-old who literally cannot speak. Like how much even more frustrated they must feel, or more scared, or overwhelmed, they must feel. So it’s so important to get them in, started with occupational therapy, physical therapy, if they need it, speech therapy. It really makes a huge amount of difference.

Jen: Okay. And then you mentioned parents, sometimes, seeing these things in themselves and realizing they also have autism. So that made me wonder, does autism run in families?

Does Autism Run in Families? Is Autism Genetic?

Eileen Shaklee: Well, not being any sort of medical expert. I can’t really answer that as a yes or no.

Jen: I know. I’m asking you everything. You’re MY expert.

Eileen Shaklee of Autism with a Side of Fries: But in my opinion, I would say yeah. There has to be, I often say, there’s not so much someone might be autistic, but they might be, as I call it, “quirky adjacent.” You know, you might, and again, that’s where that autism spectrum comes in. You might have one member of your family who could be non-speaking, non-verbal autistic. And then you might have someone who’s, maybe they’re an engineer, working for a fancy chemical company, and they’re hyper-focused on their job, and very routine-oriented, very schedule oriented. And, you know, they could be somebody on the, you know, different tier of autism, that can live independently. That has, you know, maybe relationships with a romantic partner, or children of their own. And you know, that kind of a thing, too. So, but yeah. My own two cents, I definitely think there’s a genetic component to it, yeah.

Jen: Yes. I actually don’t know what the latest research is, about whether there’s an actual genetic component.

Eileen Shaklee: Well, for every study, there’ll be another one contradicting it. So don’t even try to keep up .

Jen: Oh, gosh. I know. That’s anything you research on the internet, too. You can find opposite opinions. So everybody watching, and if you’re just joining in, this is Eileen, and you can ask her anything, about parenting, autism or, you know, life. How are you doing in the pandemic world? Life. Just made me think of that.

Eileen Shaklee of Autism with a Side of Fries: Well, you know, this year, this past year has been interesting. Kiddo did actually finally go back to school in person, in September, knock wood that stays that way. We went through it. I mean, there’s just, there’s no other way to describe it, for someone who thrived on routine, thrived on structure. And then all of a sudden, one day, March 13th, he came home. Guess what? You’re never going back to school. Or so it seemed, because we had no end date and everything became over what we’re doing now.

Jen: It’s so different.

Eileen Shaklee: You know, teachers, therapists. I had to, you know, as I said, the scariest thing about the whole pandemic was not I not only had to become my kid’s teacher, I had to become my kid’s speech therapist, his occupational therapist, his physical therapist.

Jen: That’s huge.

Eileen Shaklee: You know, and you’re talking through the computer with them, and you’re making do with what you have, like, you know the physical therapist, like, ‘Okay, do you have a beach towel?” You know, “We’re gonna wrap it up, and we’ll put it under their legs.” Like, they’re having to come up with, in their homes, what you can do with what you’ve got, you know, in your own house. You’re MacGyvering a therapy center out of your own home. So I give his teachers, and his therapist a lot of props, because who ever could have trained for that when they were in school? You know?

Jen: For sure. Yeah.

Eileen Shaklee of Autism with a Side of Fries: And that was really hard. And my kid’s an only kid, so school for him is his social life. If he wants to see a peer, he’s seeing them more at school than he is around my neighborhood. So that sucked. Plus, with the pandemic, it’s not like you’re going out. So that sucked. And that was… The hardest part being, is last year, he had just started going off-campus with a job coach, and he was working in various retail spaces. And the job coach is like a work teacher, for lack of a better description. It’s someone that’s showing him the skills of how to work.

Jen: I love that. That’s great.

Eileen Shaklee: And he was loving it. He was working in, he worked at a local university’s cafeteria. He did work at Bed Bath & Beyond, stocking shelves. He worked at a movie theater, which he loved. And then all of a sudden, that’s gone, ’cause no school, no work. And even though he’s back, they’re still not going off-campus, because of COVID. So that’s been a really frustrating thing right now, because this was supposed to be this critical time, where we’re supposed to be focusing on job skills, and we can’t, you know. So, I mean, that’s been ….

Jen: Is a good way to describe it. That, I mean, that just reminds me of another thing I wanted to ask you about, is your child is now almost an adult, a teenager. And first of all, what are the specific challenges for the teen years that you’ve seen? ‘Cause teenagers are really challenging.

Parenting an Autistic Teenager From Autism with a Side for Fries

Eileen Shaklee: That is the hardest thing, I say, is I often have to ask myself is this autism? Or is this puberty? Because they are very similar-looking. When he gets an idea in his head, there is no changing his mind. And I think any child of any neurology when they hit those teen years, that’s the same across the board. You know, the door, he comes home from school, and there are days where he goes directly to his bedroom, slams the door, and the music goes blaring. You know, and the first few times that happened, I was like, oh my gosh, what do I do? What’s going on? But then I realized I did that-

Jen: Teenager.

Eileen Shaklee: As a 16-year-old. This is totally typical. I should be happy he’s doing this. This is… And he’s found what works for him, which is, “Give me 20 minutes. I need to, like, decompress by myself, in my room.” And then he comes out, and he’s happy as a lamb. And you know, those are the things where I just sit there, and I go, okay, is autism, or is he just being 16? It’s hard to tell.

Jen: I think it’s that way with like any diagnosis that your kid has, whether it’s a health, or a neurological thing, like I’ve had this, where there are behaviors that happened. And you’re like, is that a normal kid behavior, or is that because something else? Or what would they have been like if they didn’t have this? We’ll never know. We’ll never know.

Eileen Shaklee: We’ll never know.

Jen: We just go day by day.

Eileen Shaklee of Autism with a Side of Fries: Yeah. So, but you know, there’s also other challenges too. Like, you know, he’s 16, he has to shave. So I like, you know… There was that day. I had to tackle that, and I looked at my husband. I’m like, all right, how do you do this? And he’s looking at me, and he’s like, “You don’t know how?” I’m like, “When have I shaved a face? And how would I know how to do this, you know ? So we had to learn how to do that. And now I know how to do that .

Jen: Wow. See?

Eileen Shaklee: But those are things like, you know, you have to deal, like, in teaching him, not so much teaching him hygiene, but like explaining to him, like, a pimple is not the end of the world. Even though we know as a teenager, it does feel like the end of the world sometimes. And you know, teaching him how to take care of things, like acne is gonna happen. And this is what we do when we get it. And you know, I have friends who have teenage girls, who are dealing with teenage girls, and periods. And that’s… Hoo, hearin’ their stories, I sit there and I thank my lucky stars I have a boy. And that’s all I’m gonna say .

Jen: I agree. Yes.

Eileen Shaklee: Yeah, so that must be very challenging for them. But you know, those are the types of things that come up when they become a teenager, is that you got to deal with teenage stuff, and-

Jen: Right.

Eileen Shaklee: It ain’t easy.

Jen: I don’t envy you. Then there’s the whole transition, from, you know, there’s a lot of literature and a lot of resources for parents of young kids with autism. But what is there for the teens, and into adulthood?

What Resources are there for Teens with Autism as They Grown into Adults?

Eileen Shaklee of Autism with a Side of Fries: That’s the major problem right now, is there’s not a whole lot of programs available. There is a real severe, they refer to it as the cliff, kids that are on the spectrum that have IEPs legally are allowed to be in school until they’re 21. So once 21 hits, it’s– There’s not a lot of programs. The ones that are there don’t really serve all the different needs that are out there. You know, there are some programs that are basically glorified babysitting. You’re dropping them off at a facility, because you’re a parent yourself, and you’re still working, and you need a safe place for your child to be while you’re at those hours. I’m not saying those are bad things. In some places, that is a perfect placement for a certain person, but it’s not the best placement for a lot of kids. Like for my son, he couldn’t go to there. That would be a disaster for him. He’d be bored out of his mind. And one important thing I always remind people, is behavior is communication. If your kid is misbehaving, they are trying to tell you something. And I look at that scenario, and I go, I know what the behavior would be.

Jen: Not good.

Eileen Shaklee: I don’t need to see it. I already know what it’s gonna look like. So it’s actually something I’ve been working on now. I’ve been, recently, became involved with an organization in my area that’s currently building a program for adults who are autistic, and 21, and need, as we call it, a continuing education experience, where they will, it’ll be a program where they can go, get job training, speech therapy, if they still need it, physical, and occupational therapy, if they still need it, social skills classes. We physically have the building, and we are now outfitting it, where it’s gonna have like a faux apartment, where they can do things like learning how to cook, and hosting people, and cleaning up after yourselves, making a bed, and doing the laundry, and things like that-

Jen: Can I send my 10-year-old there?

Eileen Shaklee of Autism with a Side of Fries: I’ve had a few people say that to me, like, you know, “My kid doesn’t do that.” I’m like, “Hm, well, get him in there .” But it’s gonna have like a business in it as well, so it can employ the adults that go there, so they have a job. So that’s what I’m working on.

I’m working with a charity. I’m on the board of a charity foundation called the Monmouth Ocean Foundation for Children. And they are currently fundraising so we can build what we are going to call the Achieve Academy for Adults with Autism. And it’s gonna be for kids in New Jersey, in the Monmouth County area that are on the autism spectrum, 21 and up.

So, you know, my big thing when he was little, is I didn’t know what was gonna happen to him when he turned 21. And as that number has approached, I realized nothing has changed. We’re kind of still, unfortunately, in the same boat with programs in my area. So when this opportunity came up to become involved, I’m like, you know what? I’m not gonna just sit around, hoping that somebody else is gonna make a program. I’m gonna get involved, and try to make one. Like I say, I’m selfishly motivated. I want this thing built before he turns 21. It’s the best motivation on Earth .

Jen: Hey, like any mom, if you can’t find something, you just end up doing it yourself.

Eileen Shaklee of Autism with a Side of Fries: Yeah, I know a lot of parents wind up, have wound up doing that. So-

Jen: Yes. Dina says there’s a coffee shop by her that does something like this. And Xiomara commented that her son is 22, and he is stuck at home long before the pandemic.

Eileen Shaklee: Yeah, that is just the case for so many. And the autism unemployment rate is like between 85 and 90%, which is just, it’s horrible. You know, my kid loves to be a helper. You know, we used to joke, mommy’s little helper. Well, he’s still mommy’s little helper. He loves to help. And he wants to know what he’s doing is meaningful. That’s the most important thing. He doesn’t want BS work, you know, just bullshit work, where he knows it’s just being made for the sake of keeping his fingers busy. He wants to know what he’s doing is helping. So that’s why we need to have programs that give them a purpose for going somewhere every day.

You know, I think the pandemic is a wonderful opportunity to show everybody, like, look what it’s done to us mentally, just being stuck home all day. Well, we at least think in the sense of, okay, we’re getting towards vaccines now. And we’re kind of seeing sort of an end in sight in this. Well, think about that in their respect. There is no end in sight. It’s 22, and now what?

Jen: Thank God people are working on programs like that. Oh, we have a question from Donna. Her grandson is six, level four, non-verbal. Any tips for potty training?

Potty Training Tips for Autistic Kids

Eileen Shaklee: Oh, patience, patience, and whiskey for yourself. My son took a long time to potty train. It’s one thing I have to remind parents. And it was the hardest thing for me to accept, was that you may see your child as six, and go, oh, a six-year-old should be potty trained by now, but mentally, they might not be there yet. Cognitively, they might not understand what they need to do, what they need to recognize in their own body, of, “Oh, I gotta go. I gotta get to the bathroom.” They might not have that response yet. It hasn’t developed. But what you can do, and this of course works when your child is going to an in-person school. Hopefully that’s the case in this person’s situation, is you can get that written in the IEP.

Jen: Oh, yeah.

Eileen Shaklee: Oh, yes you can. And the good thing about that is if they’re doing the same thing at the school that you’re doing, then there’s consistency across the board. And that helps that child progress, and you can get to that goal faster. So I tell every parent that, that if that’s something they want to work on in an IEP, absolutely ask for it to be put in.

Jen: That’s great advice.

Eileen Shaklee of Autism with a Side of Fries: And I don’t, you know, any teacher that hems and haws, I always say, “You got two choices. You can help with the potty training, or you can be the teacher that goes and has to change this kid, and their wet pants, maybe two or three times a day. So that’s up to you .

Jen: Let’s be up front about this.

Eileen Shaklee: You can make it a teachable moment, or you can be cleaning up, you know, pee-pee pants. Your choice. That’s the way I say it. But like, you know, most every teacher I know that has even written in, and when I’ve said it before on my page, they’ve sat there, and like, “Yes, we will totally work with you on that.” Like, you just gotta ask. And that’s the thing about IEPs, they’re really personalized. You can do things like that, ask about that, or like toothbrushing. That’s another big thing with sensory challenges. A lot of kids with autism have a very hard time using toothbrushes. You can work on that in school. Ask your teachers.

Jen: What this is for. Oh, well, that’s probably the best advice you’ve given for anybody, is that you have to ask. You have to be your advocate, and get it in the IEP.

Eileen Shaklee: Absolutely. You know, it’s funny, sometimes, so people will say to me, “Oh, you’re an advocate.” And I’m like, “No, any parent is an advocate.” Any parent is an advocate. You don’t have a choice. You can’t be meek. You can’t be shy. It’s out the window. You’ve got to just say it, because no one else is going to come around and do it for you, so-

Jen: Yeah. Yeah. Parenting is, is I have to talk to people now. I don’t love talking to people on the phone. It really makes sense. You have to show up. You have to not be shy. So remind me again, what is the name of the project that you’re working on, the Academy?

Eileen Shaklee: Well, if people want to follow along for it, it’s the Monmouth Ocean Foundation for Children. It’s on Facebook, it’s on Instagram, and they are currently, we just started… We just had a big, huge fundraiser this past weekend. We’d had our first 5K, two-mile walk that raised a whole lot of money. So that was good. And it is going to be for the Achieve Academy for Adults with Autism, so-

Jen: Wonderful. Well, would you put that in the comments for people-

Eileen Shaklee: Sure!

Jen: So they can potentially go visit, and learn about it? And I am just really grateful to you for being a down-to-earth person, willing to share your information, and your struggles with us.

Eileen Shaklee: Thank you. I appreciate being on here today.

Jen: Thank you so much. You enjoy the rest of your day.

Eileen Shaklee: You too.

Jen: Thanks everybody, for watching.

Eileen Shaklee: ‘Bye, everybody!

**If you loved this video, check out another interview with did with Eileen Shaklee from Autism with a Side for fries below.***

How NOT to Lose Your Sh*t with Autism with a Side of Fries

Autism with a Side of Fries Eileen Shaklee photo of Eileen and Jen on Ask a Mom MomCaveTV

Jen

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