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Therapy and sanity for ordinary parents of special kids.

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Amazing Guest Post by Sally Brown! A Must Read for All Parents of Special Children

Today is a very special day. We received an incredible message from Sally Brown, who is  60 years old and living with Cerebral Palsy. Sally has graced us with her wisdom in her work below. If you can relate to this please leave Sally a comment.


10 Things I Wish You Knew
(A note from a special kid to special Parents)  by Sally Brown


1.     You are the perfect parents for me. I know that you did not sign up for a kid like me- I also know that you sometimes think you cannot face what it takes to raise me.  I want you to know that this is not true.  I believe that I chose you.  Whatever you need to learn, you will learn.  The strength you think you need will come from somewhere.  The people you need to meet will show up when you need them.


2.  This is the perfect life for me. My life is a very special one.  I believe that I will impact the world in a unique and wonderful way.  Remember this when your heart is breaking because you want a path for me that is so much easier than this one.


3.     I need you to find your own spiritual path. The road we are on is not an easy one- to make it successfully, you will need all the spiritual strength you can muster for the tough days- You will need to help me when my spiritual strength is out the window- Often, you will see signs of my determination and be amazed by it.  That is not enough- You will have to find your own answers- I am depending on you for it.


4.     However you feel about me is OK. Sometimes you will feel tired and helpless and like you cannot care for me one more day.  Sometimes you will be mad because there seems to be no escaping me.  That is OK- There is no way you could take care of me without having those days.

Sometimes you may watch people look at me and be a bit embarrassed that I am not doing better- that does not make you a bad parent… it just means you are human.

Know that when you have lots of these days in a row, it is time for you to get somebody else to take care of me, just long enough for you to regenerate yourself.  It is always important that you let people help you.  I am depending on you to do whatever you need to do to take care of yourself.


5.     However I feel about my disability is OK. Some days you will be amazed at what a happy contented person I am and you will wonder how in the world I do it.  Treasure those days.  Some days I will be discouraged, some days I will be mad, some days I will even feel really sorry for myself.  Don’t panic, I will come back around again.  If you let me express these unattractive feelings, they have much less power.  Even typical folks feel sorry for themselves sometimes.


6.     Let me try things I want to try, even if you are sure I will fail. I know that you want to protect me- that is your job, I am your child.  But I need you to understand that my survival is always going to depend on my determination.  Part of my own process is to figure out what my limitations really are.  Sometimes I may want to try to do things that seem impossible to you. Please encourage me anyway.  It is the willingness to try that is important- success is a bonus.  Know that if I fail, I will get over it.  If you make me scared to try, I am really doomed.


7.     Don’t worry about my whole life today. Sometimes you will drive yourself crazy worrying about how my life will turn out.  You will lose hours of sleep trying to figure out how I will survive in the world after you are gone.  This is not helpful to me.  Just help me stay in today.  The more you can focus on whatever we have to face today, the more you will be helping me develop the skills I will need when it is time for me to get along without you.


8.     Sometimes people will be mean to me or scared of me.  I expect you to stick up for me, but, I do not expect you to change the world.There are lots of really wonderful people in the world.  You and I will meet many of them.  There are also some real jerks who will be afraid of me or not treat me fairly.  They will assume things about me that are not true.  They may even assume things about you that are not true.  You may want to blow their brains out.  I may want to do the same.  I expect you to speak up for me when you can.  But I also need for you to be able to let it go.  It will not help me if you are mad and defensive all the time.  If you are, there are people who may not want to help me just because it is too hard for them to deal with you.


9.     Finding good doctors and professionals is important but, you know me better than they do- I expect you to trust your own instincts about what is good for me. The doctors and therapists that work with me are going to be very important in the quality of my life.  Some of them will be amazing and some of them will be pretty crazy.  Often, it will be up to you to decide which is which.  Listen to them, and know that what they say is important but, also remember that you know me best.  If something they suggest does not feel right to you, listen to that small voice and speak up.


10.   I really hope we can laugh. I believe that laughing was probably God’s best idea- It will be the one thing that can bring joy to our lives the quickest-  If I get stuck in a mud puddle, it is probably funny.  If you are lifting me and we both fall on the floor in a heap, that is probably funny too.  A good joke is worth taking the time to laugh at- Help me not get so caught up in the serious problems we face every day to forget about laughing.


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Attention Imperfect Artists! Win $100 in the Imperfect Caricature Contest

You could win a $100 cash for drawing a caricature of these imperfect goons.

Big things are happening at Shut Up Industries and we’re not just talking about Patty and Gina’s recent weight gains. We’re pleased to announce our latest contest  — the Imperfect Caricature Contest.  The winner will receive $100 cash,and have their work featured on a new line of e-Cards available from Shut Up Industries.

For this contest, we’re looking for folks to do a caricature of the photo (pictured here) of P & G parading around in our Snuggies.

This contest is open to all — children, parents, grandparents, artists, etc. We’re looking for the best representation of our imperfectness, and will choose the caricature that best fits our goals for the e-cards.  The final decision will be made by Shut Up Industries, not from public voting (sorry Idol fans.). The deadline for all entries  is October 15, 2012 and  should be submitted to Remember this is open to ALL (well except our snooty competitors at Be Quiet, Incorporated).

So what are you waiting for? Get out your crayons


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Ode to the Autistic Man – by Scott Lentine

One of the greatest perks of our jobs (aside from the fact that we can say “shut up” and make mistakes in the workplace)  is that we have the privilege of meeting and learning from some pretty amazing people. Today, we were thrilled to receive an introductory email from Scott Lentine. Scott, who was diagnosed with high functioning autism, has accomplished much in his 25 years of life.  He graduated from Merrimack College magna cum laude with a Bachelor’s Degree in Religious Studies. He is currently an office intern at the Arc of Massachusetts, where he tries to persuade lawmakers to pass key disability resources legislation to improve the lives of people with developmental disabilities. Scott is also a talented poet and songwriter and has graciously given us the privilege of sharing his work. So without further adieu, we present Ode to the Autistic Man by Scott Lentine. Please share it with others and leave him a comment on his terrific work.




The Ode to the Autistic Man

Try to understand the challenges that I face

I would like to be accepted as a human in all places

Where I will end up in life I don’t know

But I hope to be successful wherever I go

I would like to expand my social skills in life

Making new friends would be very nice

Stand proud for the autistic man

For he will find a new fan

I hope to overcome the odds I face today

Increased acceptance will lead me to a brighter day


By the age of 20, I will have made tremendous strides

I know in the future, life will continue to be an interesting ride

I have made new friends by the year

I will be given tremendous respect by my family and peers

I hope to get noted for bringing the issue of autism to the common man

So that autistic people can be accepted in this great land


Stand proud for the autistic man

For he will find a new fan

I hope to overcome the odds I face today

Increased acceptance will lead me to a brighter day



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Attention Mediocre Moms! Enjoy a Guest Blog and Free e-Book Opportunity from Diane Mierzwik

Back by popular demand! It’s another blog from one of our favorite guest bloggers, Diane Mierzwik. The blog post below is an excerpt from Diane’s new Kindle book, “Weekly Affirmations for Mediocre Moms. ”  Diane is offering the book for free on her website to readers who sign up for the blog. Otherwise, it costs $1.99 through Amazon. We encourage you to sign up for the blog. You’ll be glad you did. Visit for more information. Be sure to tell her the Shut Up Sisters sent you.

Take it way, Diane…
I’d like to think that I’m a better parent than my parents were, but it’s not like there’s a book that tells you how to parent. Now there are books, lots of them, that tell you how to do this thing called parenting, but they weren’t around when my parents were parents.
We probably all reflect on the way we were raised and try to avoid what we thought were mistakes. Like the time my mom left me at a liquor store waiting to be picked up until she was done with her evening chores. Did I mention it was dark and at a liquor store, where men came to buy – liquor? Or the time…actually I’m having a difficult time thinking of anything to complain about. And that’s the point.
My parents didn’t have books and classes they could attend to be better parents. They had the way they were raised.
Of course, by my memory, I was a great, easy kid. Sure there was that one time I informed my mom at 8:30 pm that I had volunteered to bring cupcakes for the entire class the next day. Or the time I drove to the beach when I told her I was just driving to the nearby lake. Oh, and that time she had to pick me up from the sheriff station because I’d been picked up on a truancy sweep.
My friend, another self-proclaimed mediocre mom, told me how her daughter went to a local fair and won a goldfish. Well, she didn’t want to carry around this goldfish all day and couldn’t her mom, my friend, come pick up the goldfish? The fair was 20 miles away. But, my friend got in her car and picked up the goldfish so her daughter could enjoy the rest of her day. Then the next day, they went out and spent $60 on supplies to take care of the free goldfish.
“Why did I let her go to that damn fair anyway?” We both laughed. Then we pondered. Do you make the kid carry the goldfish all day? Do you make her purchase all the supplies to keep the goldfish? Do you talk her into giving the goldfish away? Do you make her come home the first time you drive to the fair or let her stay and drive back that evening as planned to pick her up? In which parenting book do you find the answers to these dilemmas?
Parents today do have books to read and classes to attend. But I have yet to find in the glossary of a parenting book or on the syllabus of a parenting class the topic: “Child wins goldfish at fair twenty miles away and wants you to pick it up.”
I always joke with my friends that my kid has two funds, a college fund and a therapy fund, because I know that no matter how hard I’ve  tried , he’s going to look back and think, “Wow, why  did she do that?”
I’ve learned that raising kids is not a science, it is an art and you work with what you’ve got and do the best you can.
Yes, I do want to be a better parent than my parents, but I realize that this is a bit of a delusion, the delusion of hope for the future, that it improves with each generation.
All I can hope is that someday he’ll have his own kids, like I did, and, God-willing, at some point he’ll understand.
This week I honor and appreciate the job my parents did with me.
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The Hills Are Alive with the Sound of Imperfection

"The Hills Are Alive with the Sound of Imperfection"

Looking for a way to beat the Sunday Night Blues? Join us at 7:00 p.m. EST on our Facebook page for our weekly Sunday Night Caption Contest. This week’s photo featured P and G rocking their Snuggies.  The winning caption submitted by Ma Ma Needs a Nap (we suspect that’s not her real name) was “The Hills Are Alive with the Sound of Imperfection.

Earning Honorable Mention were:

“Born Free as Free As the Snuggie Flows.”

“Wow, they really have changed the style and comfort of straight jackets.”

“Tiptoe through the tulips in our Snuggies with our wine!”

“The sisterhood of the traveling Snuggies.”

‎”1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Imperfection Incorporated!”

“And once free they danced in the Garden of Imperfection without care or fashion sense…”

“For the times your pajamas just aren’t dressy enough to shop at Walmart.”

“Perfect is… as Perfect does.”

“Join our cult today and get your free Snuggie!”

“Meet the Teletubbies evil sisters, Tipsy and Tinkle.”

“This is why doctors tell you to not share your meds!”

“Once upon a time, in an imperfect land, far, far away lived the Queens of Shut Up Land; where the official clothing was the snuggie and the official beverage was wine. The Queens are always there to welcome new residents with open arms!”

“We represent the imperfect kids, the imperfect kids, the imperfect kids. (Think lollipop kids)”

Thanks to all who participated.







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JULY CONTEST — An Imperfect VIDEO is Worth a Thousand Words

They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery. Of course, when our children imitate us, that’s not necessarily the case.  Sometimes we don’t realize how we’re behaving until we see our children play it out for us. Why keep the humor and humiliation of watching your children imitate you to yourself? Share  it with the imperfect world by participating in our July Contest. To enter, just submitt a brief 30 second video clip of your child imitating you. Send it to by July 31, 2012. Three entries will be determined by the Imperfect Judges at Shut Up Industries and the finalists will be posted on our Facebook page for voting on August 2. The winner will receive a Shut Up t-shirt of their choice.

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The Promotions Department of Shut Up Industries is pleased to announce the winner of our first annual Imperfect Stick Family Contest — Sethany Griffin. Please join us in congratulating Sethany for creating such an imperfect family.. Sethany will take home a $50 AMEX gift card that can be used for any number of therapeutic purchases, including therapy co-pays, medication, stress balls, wine, and duct tape. Congratulations Sethany!

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You Might Be An AspIe by Lynn Hawkins

P and G are so proud to share this amazing poem written by the very talented Lynn Hawkins. It sheds tremendous light on Asperger’s.


Do you find lots of comfort in routines and lists?
Do surprises and changes make you clench up your fists?
Would you much rather plan a vacation next year,
Than have someone tell you, “Just go grab some gear?”

Are you much more at ease, on Facebook and such?
Do people try to tell you they’re just a social crutch?
Do you shrink from a handshake, want to run from a hug,
And crowds make you want to take an anxiety drug!

Do your friends complain that you never call back?
Does inviting them over cause a panic attack?
You know that your home isn’t totally clean,
But worry they might actually say something mean?

Do you worry that you should offer them food?
And if you don’t will they think that you’re rude?
So you hurry and clean, putting clutter away,
Then decide not to ask them to visit that day.

Are you honest to a fault, perhaps even blunt?
When you hear someone lie, do you always confront?
Do things people say, seem not to make sense?
Does trying to understand make you feel very tense?

When friends ask a question, does it just cause you stress?
Do you find that the truth’s very hard to suppress?
Do you give so many details, they start to object?
But leaving things out, would not be correct!

Do people tell you that they think you don’t care?
When they are in tears, do they give you a glare?
Do you think that emotional reactions are dumb?
Would you rather take action than just being glum?

Do you find that when you’re sad or depressed,
No one even notices you’re feeling distressed?
Since they don’t see you either sob or complain,
Apparently they think that you never feel pain.

Do you find it more easy to get angry than sad?
Do people tell you that it’s wrong to be mad?
Do you sometimes just have to stomp and scream,
Because of someone who’s terribly mean?

Do you worry so much about social affairs,
The things that you’ll do, the clothes that you’ll wear,
How long it will take so you’ll get there on time,
That you decide not to go? Maybe some other time.

Are your sheets too cold and your pants too tight?
Is the music too loud and the sun too bright?
Do the tags in your clothes make you wiggle and scratch?
Do you have to cover all holes with a patch?

Do the seams in your socks have to be placed just so?
And if you can’t get them right, in the garbage they go?
Do your shoelaces feel wrong, so you tie them again?
Does this sound like you? Well does it? Well, then….

You just might be an Aspie!

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Cast Your Vote for Our Imperfect Stick Family.

Forget the U.S. Presidential election; there’s a bigger election going on right here. The polls for our Imperfect Stick Family Contest are finally open.. Voting will end on  Friday, July 6 and the winner will be announced on July 7. Please indicate your selection by leaving a comment with the caption number. Let the imperfect voting begin!



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The Promotions Department of Shut Up Industries is pleased to announce our June contest — The Imperfect Stick Family Drawing. We have Stacie Duffy to credit for helping us think of this idea. Stacie spotted the photo above featuring this humorous stick family and uploaded the picture for us. We thought it would be great to have a stick family that best represents our imperfect family lives. To participate just send us a drawing or layout of your imperfect stick family. We’ll post the 3 finalists on this blog on June 30 and a winner will be announced on July 5. The winner will receive $50 AMEX gift card that could be used for medication, earplugs, or any other imperfect thing you need. All entries must be received by June 28.

So what are you waiting for? Get drawing. Entries should be submitted to Have fun and may be the best imperfect win.

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Top 9 Imperfect Responses to Your Spouse’s Question “What Did You Do All Day?”

This great list was put together with the help of our very cool and imperfect Facebook family.

#9) “Recounting the many ways I am fortunate to have such a handsome, sexy husband in my life.”

#8) “I was reading a very educational book — Fifty Shades of Grey. Would you like me to show you what I’ve learned?”

#7) “I performed miracles. No one died.”

#6) “I woke up at 6:30 a.m. to the tune of “When the Saints Come Marching In.” Then, I proceeded to walk down the stairs and to the pantry where I took out a box of Fibre One cereal. I then poured the cereal in my new Corelle Morning-Bird china bowl, being careful not to add more than 1/4 cup of fat-free milk, thereby making my caloric intake for breakfast no more than 250. While eating my breakfast I read an interesting study on the gastrointestinal effects of gluten products on fruit flies. The conclusion was startling; I can’t wait to tell you.  Oh and you just have to hear what Doctor Oz said is the leading cause of dry mouth in menopausal women. That fiber really is something. Do you know how many times I had to go to the “little girls room?”

#5) “Pre-planning Junior’s electomagnet science project so you would not have to  be bothered doing so when you come home tired from work.”

# 4) “Revisiting our insurance policies. I didn’t have nearly enough on you. Can I fix you a drink?”

# 3) “Reading through the Parents Rights brochure and the IEP paperwork in preparation for our upcoming Team Meeting. I’m sorry Hon, should I have waited for  you to do that?

# 2) “Refining our estate plan to ensure that if something unfortunate were to happen to me you would have caregivers lined up for you and the children.”

#1) “Plotting the perfect murder and cooking dinner. You like Leg of Lamb right, Hon?”


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Ways In Which REAL Autism Is Not Like Rainman

Super Dad and blogger Jim Walter shares this photo and conversation with his adorable daughter Lily, with autism. To read Jim’s fabulous blog, Just a Lil Blog , click here


“Lily, how many toothpicks did you just spill on the floor?”





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50 Shades of Guilt – Our Latest Psychology Today Blog



Compromise. Commitment. Patience. There’s no question, marriage teaches us about the importance of many things.  One of the most pivotal for me was the importance of reading. Oh it’s not like I wasn’t well read when I was single. There was a time when I could tell you every Hollywood celebrity that was abducted by aliens looking to take over the world. But it really wasn’t until I moved in with my husband and realized that our TV viewing habits weren’t compatible (for example, I dislike the Caddyshack, Clint Eastwood, and Planet of the Apes channels) that I became a voracious reader.

The books I read vary, though as a speaker and special needs parent, I’ll often read self-help, psychology, or parenting books to broaden my knowledge, though I sometimes need a break from those books.

To finish reading this blog, visit our blog for Psychology Today.

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IMPERFECT NEWS ALERT — “‘Got Issues!” Contest Winners Announced

The Promotions Department at Shut Up Industries (Patty and Gina) has just notified the Marketing Department (Patty and Gina) that the winners of our “Show Your Issues in Public” Contest have been announced.  The wrinkle in the announcement (well besides the ones on our faces) is that we have decided to award two lucky winners $50 Target gift cards.  Please join the entire staff at Shut Up Industries (Patty and Gina) in congratulating the following winners:

Sue Barbosa – who demonstrates her imperfect pride on the job. Let’s hope she doesn’t bring her imperfections into surgery.

Cindy Seidel — who, quite frankly, raised the bar, with her behind the bar photo.

When asked what they were going to do with their gift card, the winners  proudly announced, “We’re going to the Pharmacy!”

Please join us in congratulating these creative and bold women.





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Sleeping 911

If you’ve followed us on Facebook, you probably know that Patty likes to tease Gina about the fact that Gina often falls asleep on her. Truth be told, one of Gina’s best qualities is that she can fall asleep virtually anywhere — on long road trips, airplanes, therapists offices, etc. Knowing this, Gina has had to be very selective about the type of profession she has chosen. “Mom and Dad, I’ve decided that I don’t want to be a policewoman after all.  I don’t think I could stay up during stakeouts.”  One profession Gina would never choose is 9-1-1 dispatcher. She knows how important it is to be awake on the job. Apparently, however, someone who shares Gina’s talent for sleeping was not quite as astute. Check out this video from The Huffington Post about a woman calling 9-1-1 about her husband only to discover the dispatcher catching “Z’s.” And we thought we were imperfect!


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Back By Popular Demand — Guest Blogger, Diane Mierzwik

Today, we have a special treat. Don’t get too excited, it’s not ice cream. But it is just as good — with far less calories. In fact, we’re pretty sure this treat comes with no calories or trans fats. Plus, when you laugh, you get an ab workout. What’s not to love?   Please join us in welcoming back Guest Blogger, Diane Mierzwik. Be sure to read her recent work below and sign up for her blog. You’ll be glad you did. Take it away Diane…


I may have been a bit judgmental before I had my own child. It’s so easy to tell others how to do something after you’ve read a book or watched a show and witnessed how easily it can work, but lack first-hand experience.

Then I had my own child and everyone was more than willing to give me advice.

“Let him cry it out,” I was told when he was still a wee thing and suffering separation anxiety.

“Spanking is the only way to get through to them at that age,” I was told after the cherub threw a tantrum because I would not allow him to pull every bag of chips within reach off the shelves of the grocery store.

“If you’d be quiet, he’d talk more,” I was told when my three year old looked to me to articulate the things we both knew were in his head but he couldn’t get his mouth to say.

“You better have another one soon,” I was told as if another child would solve my poor parenting skills.

Every child is unique. Therefore, every parent and every parenting approach must be unique. But it is especially difficult to listen to well-meaning advice when your child has non-apparent disabilities, but everyone else thinks they know just what your child needs – it’s apparent to them.

“Don’t let him have a drink of water until he can say it correctly,” I was told by a well-meaning colleague when I handed my son his sippy cup even though he hadn’t said “cup” clearly enough for her.

“Make him read for twenty minutes each night and he’ll become a better reader,” I was told by a parent whose children were reading before they started kindergarten. She didn’t know that my son was dyslexic.

It always made me think of telling a parent whose child was in a wheelchair, “Just make him walk for twenty minutes each day, and I’m sure he’ll become a great walker.”

Things are not always as simple as they look, including the perplexed look on my face.

 “Just wait,” one friend told me after she explained the trouble her teenage son was getting into. She must have thought the look on my face said, “Won’t happen to me.”

Actually, I was thinking “Exactly what will this look like for me?”

It has taken me awhile to accept my own parenting skills and to accept that these skills, lacking as they may be, are my best effort. Accepting that about myself has allowed me to accept that about others.

When I talk to my sister-in-law about her adult son and how everyone in the family is blaming her for the trouble he is now in, for raising him wrong, I reassure her. “You did the best you could. That’s all any of us is doing.”

I just hope she remembers that love and acceptance when my cherub decides it’s a good idea to put toilet water in a squirt gun and then squirt everyone at the picnic.

For more great blogs from Diane, visit Tell her the Shut Up Sister sent you.




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Attention “Chicken Soup” Lovers — Stories Wanted

Got a story to share about your child with autism or Asperger’s? We thought you’d might like to hear about this great opportunity to share it from Chicken Soup for The  Soul. Mmmm, we get hungry just thinking about chicken soup. Details below.


New Chicken Soup for the Soul Book:
For Parents of Children with Autism or Asperger’s

If you are the parent of a child, from newborn to college age, with autism or Asperger’s, the folks at Chicken Soup for Soul invite  you to share your story about raising your child – the ups and downs, the effect on your family and marriage, your child’s special attributes and talents, and the lighter moments too. These stories will provide advice, comfort and insight to other parents in the same situation.

Please send us only non-fiction stories and poems written in the first person of no more than 1,200 words. These must be your personal stories – things that happened to you or someone you were close to. You may use a “pen name” on your story. Your story should not have been previously published by Chicken Soup for the Soul or other major publications.

Here are some suggested topics, but we know you can think of many more:

How you first recognized the symptoms
Meeting the challenges of everyday life
Academic struggles or brilliance
Good and bad experiences with school administrations
Appreciating your child for exactly who he/she is
Helping your child build a social life
Successful treatments – what has worked for you
Helping siblings and family members cope
The effect on your marriage and personal relationships
The importance of taking time for yourself
The importance of a support system
The lighter side
The positive side – benefits of autism or Asperger’s

Please remember, we do not like “as told to” stories. Please write in the first person about yourself or someone close to you. If you ghostwrite a story for someone else we will list his or her name as the author. If a story was previously published, we will probably not use it unless it ran in a small circulation venue. Let us know where the story was previously published in the “Comments” section of the submission form. If the story was published in a past Chicken Soup for the Soul book, please do not submit it.

If your story is chosen, you will be a published author and your bio will be printed in the book if you so choose. You will also receive a check for $200 and 10 free copies of your book, worth more than $100. You will retain the copyright for your story and you will retain the right to resell it.

Select the Submit Your Story link on the left tool bar and follow the directions.

DEADLINE IS September 30th.
We plan to publish the book on April 2, 2013, for Autism Awareness Month.

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A Brush of Joy and Thanks for Mother’s Day

Over the years, most of us moms  have received some type of gift from our spouses or children. And while it’s great to have a day of the year when our spouses and children throw love and gifts at us to show their appreciation, it’s not the money spent on the gifts that matter. It’s the value.  This past Mother’s Day our dear friend Jackie, the mother of Harry, a seven-year-old with autism, got a Mother’s Day Gift she never could have imagined from her young son — a major milestone achieved.  What made Harry’s milestone so amazing is that he is orally sensitive and has eating issues.

View the video 036




, we’d like to share this heartwarming video. Congratulations Jackie and Happy Mother’s Day! (Perhaps this will encourage our children to brush better).

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Announcing Our Newest Shut Up Contest — “Show Us Your Issues!”

Are you proud of your imperfection? Have we got a contest for you — our “Show  Us Your Issues in Public” Contest.  Simply show us a photo of you in a public place wearing a Got Issues t-shirt and you’ll be automatically entered  in our contest. We’ll select 10 finalists and then open the polls for an imperfect vote. Winners will receive a $50 Target gift card. Entries must be received by May 28. Winner will be announced on May 31.  Finalists will be selected for:

  • Boldness of public display (Note: You must balance safety with boldness — no photos on the White House lawn please)
  • Use of  humor
  • Creativity
  • Swimsuit appearance (just kidding)

To submit your entry, email us at To order a “Got Issues?” t-shirt if you don’t have one, visit our Shut Up Store.   If you can’t afford a shirt, make your own with a magic market. It just has to say “Got Issues!” Good luck, and may the best imperfect win!



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A Moment of Gratitude

When you are a parent of a special needs child, it’s sometimes hard to focus on the positive. Watching our children struggle to be accepted or to do the things that come so easily to “typical” children can be difficult. But then, a moment comes along when our special children do something that just takes our breath away. Sometimes it’s the little things — such as tying their shoes for the first time or making a new friend. These little moments remind us of how far they’ve come and of just how blessed we are to experience it with them. This past weekend, Gina had one of those moments when she watched her daughter Katie with Apsperger’s, act in her school play. Afterwards, she wrote Katie a poem to sum up how she felt.

To My Precious Katie,

All those days of watching you struggle to fit in.

All those years of looking at you, thinking you were too thin.

All those times I cried for you when you could not find a friend.

All those moments I wished I could somehow make your pain end.

All those years listening to people tell me you were not right.

Of getting them to understand you, and always having to fight.

All those periods of uncertainty, fear of what each day would bring.

Of worrying about your future and if a man would give you a ring.

All those times I tried to change you and praying for a cure.

Never realizing that what I had with you  was so very pure.

All those years of thinking your disability was a cross to bear.

Of looking at your quirks and wanting them to somehow disappear.

But then comes a moment when I get to see you in the light.

And see so clearly, so truly, that the way you are is right.

Your compassion, strength, and heart is like no other.

I’m  just amazed that God chose me…to be your mother.

Katie pictured third from left


I am so proud of you today — and always.



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Attention Love Boat Fans! P and G invite you to Shut Up and Buddy Cruise with Us

In celebration of Cinco de Mayo (sometimes referred to as “Drinko de Mayo), we are pleased to announce our first annual Shut Up excursion on the High Seas — Shut Up & Buddy Cruise.  Join us as we cruise from Tampa, FL, to beautiful Cozumel, Mexico on Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas, March 7 – 11, 2013. Take along your imperfect friends, family members or children; there’s truly something for everyone.  Don’t worry, the Shut Up Sisters will not be steering the boat (They turned us down on that, but will allow us to consume margaritas). You can hold your reservation with a $200 deposit per cabin.  For rates and itinerary information, visit our friends at Click on the button that says “Shut Up” then call 1-877-239-2789 and select menu option 4.  We hope to see you there.

The Shut Up Sisters invite you to Shut Up & Buddy Cruise

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Happy 1st Birthday in Heaven, Mother. And Yes, We’ll Dust Our Mini Blinds.

Mommy's 1st Birthday in Heaven.

Today is a very bittersweet day for us, as it marks our mother’s first birthday in Heaven. While the pain of no longer having her with us is deep, we take comfort in the fact that she is spending her birthday with the person who loved her most in this world — her beloved mother Clara.  And though our mother may be gone from our earthly lives, the lessons and love she gave us will be with us, and our children, forever.

Those who knew our mother knew she was had a beautiful heart filled with compassion. She was also a natural born connector, connecting people to others and to God. She was also extremely humorous, sometimes without trying to be. And in the spirit of her wonderful humor and her lifelong commitment to protecting her children from every danger known to man (we joked that she subscribed to Tragedy magazine), we thought we’d share some of our favorite advice from our mother.

“Be careful of falling bath tubs at the Home Depot. Do you know more people get crushed each year?”

“Always wear clean underwear in case you get in an accident.”

“Stay away from heated car seats, more people burn their asses off on those.”

“Don’t throw that food away. Freeze it!” (Note, our mother’s solution for nearly any problem in life was to freeze it.)

“If you just pick up after yourself, your house will look clean.”

“Never go to bed mad at your spouse.” (Patty broke that on the Honeymoon)

“Put baby oil on countertops to give them a healthy sheen.”

“There’s nothing worse that walking into a house and seeing dusty curtains.”

“What does your husband think of you not having dinner waiting for him?”

“If you make your eyes go cross-eyed, they will get stuck that way.”

“Don’t pluck. It just makes hair grow back faster.”

“Your hair is flat. Do you want me to tease it?” (we didn’t have the heart to tell her we were against bullying.)

“Never sit on public toilet seats. They are loaded with germs.”

“Take your rings off when making meatballs. They’re loaded with germs.” (She insisted on telling this to Gina who doesn’t cook).

“Wash your hands after church.”

“Do you know what has the most germs in a hotel room? The TV clicker. Make sure to pack Lysol.”

“Don’t tell people where you are on Facebook.” (She was not at all happy when Gina  posted that picture of Patty hanging on the Liberty Bell).

“Drink 8 glasses of water a day.”

“Can I ask a personal question. How often do you pee?”

What advice did your Mom have for you growing up?  We’d love to hear it.








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Words of Wisdom

We heard this quote today while speaking at a conference in Moorestown, NJ.  We couldn’t agree more.
“Motherhood is about raising and celebrating the child you have, not the child you thought you would have. It’s about understanding that he is exactly the person he is supposed to be. And that, if you’re lucky, he just might be the teacher that turns you into the person you are supposed to be.” – Joan Ryan

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More Work from Abby

Back by popular demand! Poetry from Abby, the talented nine-year-old young lady with Asperger’s. Abby fans will recall her last work, What I don’t like.”  Today, she shares what she does like. Give it up for Abby; we’re huge fans of her work!


I like to be the best in school.
I like the color pink, it’s pretty cool.

I like to write and draw.
I like my drinks with a straw.

I like things neat and in their place.
I like to laugh when my dad makes a silly face.

I like to swim and could do it all day long.
I like to sing to my favorite song.

I like to collect many things.
I like each hand to have lots of rings.

I like my cat, he’s my best friend.
I like to finish a poem to the end.

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Meet Today’s Guest Blogger – Wendy Madere

As part of our Guest Blogger series, we’re proud to introduce today’s blogger, Wendy Madere (virtual applause now please). It’s often been said that the process of learning your child has a disability can feel like a mourning process for parents, as they have to mourn the loss of the “perfect life” they had planned for their children.Wendy shares her view about this in her blog below.  Please take a moment to read it and to visit Wendy’s blog page.

Take 2 and call me in the morning (wait cut that by half, add this, and we’ll hope for the best)

March 11, 2012

My mind and heart have been in turmoil for the past two weeks. I was doing ok with D’s issues but things have become compounded.

For the most part, I’m in the acceptance stage of grief. The five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. When you experience a life changing event such as divorce, death, and illness you work through the stages. I have done that with D’s diagnoses.

Learning that D had ADHD wasn’t life changing. We went through a slew of bad doctors before finding the perfect child psychiatrist for us. We tried different medications and types of therapy to help him. We were ok with the fact that he needed help with his impulsivity and focus. But, when I was faced with the fact that our son was mentally ill and would likely always have to deal with depression, anxiety, mood disorders, and now a pervasive developmental disorder I felt like I was punched in the gut. I thought/felt:
1. Denial-The doctors are wrong (ALL of them). They just don’t know MY son. They are just trying to drug him.
2. Anger- I can’t believe these people don’t understand my son. All kids are like this!!!!! They throw fits and cry and scream and yell. They can’t sit still or pay attention. This is just stupid.

To finish reading this post, visit Wendy’s blog.

Tell us what part of the mourning cycle you struggle with.



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Shut Up About Your Perfect Kid. Now Available in Korea!


Exciting news for Shut Up About Your Perfect Kid fans! Our imperfect book has been picked up by a Korean publisher and is now available in South Korea.  Here is the cover of the book. Not to brag, but  P and G think this is their best photo yet. Pink is our color.

What do you think?

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Celebrating “Acceptance”

When raising special children, you receive all kinds of advice — some of it even solicited. One of the best pieces of advice we heard came just recently while we were in Dallas speaking for Oakhill Academy. Julie Chapman, the school’s Director of Admissions, told us, “Special needs parents always seem to look ahead to see where their kids are going. What they really need to do is  look back and see how far their children have come.”

Such simple advice, but so true. When our children were younger, we worried if they would graduate high school, go to college, get married, have children, live independently. Though some of these questions remain unanswered at their ages of 19 and 17, they both have managed to surprise us at every turn.

Patty, for example, worried if her daughter Jennifer would be able to drive some day. Would Jenn get in the car when she was upset and drive away?  She never did. And when it came time go to  college, Patty worried that the pressure and social challenges would be too much for Jenn. Would Jennifer, who was living successfully at home without medication, turn to drugs or alcohol in college?   She didn’t.  Instead she turned to fitness and exercise. Would Jenn be homesick? She wasn’t. In fact, she told her mother, “Mom, I think my time in the hospital prepared me from being away from home,” she told Patty.

Jennifer loved the idea of college and yearned to attend  one school, University of Massachusetts or UMass, the school her older sister, Jules, attends. Having frequently visited her sister and friends who study there, Jenn knew the school well. “It’s my happy place,” she’d tell anyone who asked why she wanted to go to school there.

Her senior year in high school, Jenn excitedly applied to Umass, only to be placed on the waiting list due to a large applicant pool and her sub-par SAT scores (though her grades were always strong; standardized tests brought out her anxiety).  Over the summer, she hoped and prayed a spot would open. It didn’t. Saddened, but not ready to give up, Jenn attended and moved into a smaller college with the plan to reapply to Umass after a semester. At the smaller school, Jenn’s grades were excellent and she made friends. Yet, she knew it wasn’t where she was supposed to be. Her heart was at Umass.  So in the Fall, she applied again, telling her parents and friends, “I’m not gonna give up.”

Sadly, she was rejected once again.

At the end of the semester,  she decided to move back home and take courses at a nearby college. Once again, she applied to Umass for Fall admission. She even wrote on the envelope, “Third time’s a charm.”

Naturally, Patty was worried. “Gene, if she doesn’t get in this time; she’ll be crushed.”  Jennifer, however, wouldn’t give up. “I know I’m going to get in.”  When late March rolled around, Jenn knew she would find out any day and would often run to the mailbox, only to find the usual mail of credit card solicitations and bills.

Last week, while Jenn was out  Patty’s son came in with the mail and handed Patty a big envelope. “Mom! Jenn got something from Umass!”  Upon seeing the envelope, Patty was nervous.  Knowing that Jennifer might not take the news of a rejection well, Patty made an executive decision, along with both her son and her daughter Jules, who was home for the Easter holiday. “We have to open it!”  Patty’s son agreed, “Mom, let me do it! I’m good at being sneaky.”  When they saw what was inside, they were all ecstatic.

“SHE GOT IN!” screamed Jules with tears in her eyes.

“SHE’S MOVING OUT AGAIN!” shouted Patty’s son Mikey.

Patty was ecstatic and decided to hatch a plan to share the news with Jenn who was visiting with some friends nearby. The video below shows their successful plan and Jenn’s priceless reaction — proof of just how far this amazing young woman has come.

he newIMG_0118




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Imperfection vs. Mediocrity. There’s a difference. Today’s Guest Blogger, Erica Goppold, Explains

When we tell people about The Movement of Imperfection, they are sometime confused.  We realized this at our very first keynote speech when an esteemed doctor turned to us and said, “I find this whole imperfection thing liberating. I can make mistakes.”  We were quite impressed until we thought about it later. “Dear God, Gene! What if he’s a brain surgeon?”

It’s not uncommon for people to confuse our fondness for imperfection as promotion for mediocrity.

We'll admit it. We don't always get along, though we certainly try our best to.

“So, let me guess this straight, you encourage your kids to make mistakes?”

That’s certainly not our intention at all. We always have and will continue to encourage our children to do the very best they can, but to accept that things might not always turn out “perfect.”   Today’s guest blogger, Erica Goppold, did a great job of explaining the difference in her blog, The Well-Rounded Mom. Erica is a nursing student with previous degrees in education, volunteers for a wellness organization in her community, and is raising her school-aged children.  She describes herself as  physically ‘well-rounded…’ since a girl needs her outlets.” Hers are  sweets and wine  (Hello? Could we have a long lost sister out there?). Erica also happens to be a fan of The Movement of Imperfection (clearly we couldn’t miss an opportunity for shameless self-promotion), as she indicates in her blog below:


Imperfect by Erica Goppold

Lately, I have been inspired by the notion of imperfection. If we face it, nobody is perfect. Nobody gets everything right all of the time. While I will not accept mediocrity as my norm, I am totally ok with being imperfect. To clarify, I consider mediocrity to be tied to less than optimal effort, as opposed to imperfect where I do/did my best and made some mistakes along the way. By striving for ‘imperfection’ I still give my all, but can be resolved by the imperfect outcomes.

When I began my blog, my intention was to share the honest, not so pretty side of being a working mom, who admittedly overextends herself. It is usually not pretty and hardly ever perfect. Then I happened to stumble across an organization on facebook that supports the ‘imperfect’ movement. They can be found at Their full moniker is “Shut up about your perfect kid,” as they were inspired by their less than perfect children. These women are 2 sisters who have children with psychological and Autism-spectrum disorders, and speak freely about how imperfect their lives are. However, being the motley crew they are, the website is directed to anybody who admits to being less than perfect.

To read more of this blog and other great works from Erica, visit

Tell us how you feel about imperfection? Do you find it liberating?

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False Advertising

A miracle diet?

Gina was so excited when she went to her local coffee shop and discovered this advertisement outside. She was, however, quite disappointed when she learned that the 10% off was not on her hips, but rather on the cannoli bill. She should have known it was too good to be true.

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The Movement of Imperfection Hits Dallas

One of the greatest perks of our imperfect occupations (besides the fact that we can say the phrase”shut up” whenever we want) is that we get to travel around the country and meet other imperfect people whom we never would have met. This past week, The Movement of Imperfection took us to Dallas, Texas, where we had the privilege of speaking as part of the Magnificent Minds Lecture Series, a collaboration between Oakhill Academy and Dallas Child magazine.  Though we had some exposure to Dallas (watching J.R. and Ms. Ellie on the TV show), we had never traveled there nor had we had the opportunity to meet any non-TV personalities. The trip was amazing and our host Julie Chapman, Director of Admissions at Oakhill Academy, cooked up some Southern hospitality as she showed us around her city, including Southfork Ranch, where Patty had the chance to ride a horse (see photo). We also had the opportunity to hang out with another pair of sisters, Joy Lynn and Allison from Dallas Child, who had us with “Do you girls want some wine?”  Julie even took Gina to Walgreen’s Pharmacy so Gina could fill a prescription. Gina was so impressed with the service, she declared, “I think I might move here.”

The most impressive part of our trip, however, was visiting Oakhill Academy, a private day school that’s been dedicated to “unveiling the extraordinary minds of students whose gifts had been hidden in ordinary classrooms.”  We were so impressed with all the teachers and staff and Oakhill’s Executive Director, Pam Quarterman. We even got to meet some of the bright students and play in the library (see photo). For more information on Oakhill Academy, click here.

Folks were right about Texas. Everything really is big. But nothing is bigger than the hearts of all the wonderful people we had the privilege of meeting. And even though they poked fun of our Boston accents, we think ya’ll wicked rock!



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Cast Your Vote in the Imperfect Easter Bunny Coloring Contests

The deadline has passed! Our judges have sorted through hundreds or thousands or 3 entries (depending on whether you like to round down) to come up with our Imperfect Finalists in our first annual Imperfect Easter Bunny Coloring Contest. In order to crown a winner, we need your help. Simply post your vote for the best Imperfect Bunny in the comments below. The Grand Prize winner will receive an imperfect Easter Basket. Runner-ups will receive a lifetime supply of Rice-a-Roni (just kidding). They will get smaller baskets.  You should be judging for: 1) Creativity; 2) Use of color; 3) incorporation of imperfection, etc. Extra consideration should be given to those who shamelessly promote our book, Shut Up About Your Perfect Kid.

Now let’s meet the contestants:




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“Private Practice” Star, Amy Brenneman, Advocates for Special Needs Students at TASH Conference.

TASH, a nonprofit advocate for inclusion and human rights of persons with significant disabilities, announces actress Amy Brenneman will be among keynote speakers during the 2012 TASH Conference in Long Beach, Calif., November 28-December 1, 2012. Brenneman, best known for her performances in a number of notable television series, including her current role as Violet in the ABC series Private Practice, will be speaking to attendees of the TASH Conference as a parent and an advocate for children with disabilities. Brenneman has been an important voice against segregated models of education and has promoted fully inclusive schools, such as CHIME Institute in Woodland Hills, Calif., where her children attend.

The TASH Conference annually attracts more than a thousand members and supporters of the disability community to learn, grow and advance human rights and inclusion. TASH, whose work over the past 37 years has significantly advanced inclusive education around the nation, believes Brenneman’s public standing and tenacious advocacy will help build inclusive communities in which everyone is welcomed and respected.

“Having just produced an event for the fabulous CHIME Institute where my children attend, I am ever more committed to providing an inclusive education for every child. The research shows that children with and without disabilities thrive when educated together, and serves as a model for the community at-large,” said Brenneman. “I am thrilled to be part of the TASH Conference to learn even more about blazing the trails for inclusion.”

The TASH Conference will feature more than 150 sessions, workshops, films and training opportunities on inclusive education, employment, community living, diversity and cultural competency, human rights and other topics. Learn more about the 2012 TASH Conference at

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Poem of the Day from Abby

Hey folks in the spirit of April Autism Awareness, we wanted to share this masterpiece poem from Abby. Abby is nine years old and has Asperger’s syndrome. She also has a younger brother with Asperger’s. Abby loves to draw and excels in math.

Poem by Abby

I don’t like sounds that are loud.
I don’t like people who crowd.
I don’t like mud because it’s icky.
I don’t like things that are sticky.
I don’t like bugs because they bite.
I don’t like boys because they fight.
I don’t like peas that are round and green and
I don’t like people who are mean.

Please leave Abby a comment to let her know what you think of her great work.


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Mark your Calendars! International Imperfection Awareness Day is Coming Friday the 13!

You see plaid. We see imperfection as in International Imperfection Awareness Day — Friday, April 13

Imperfection is quickly becoming an epidemic in America and in the world at large. It’s estimated that 6 out of 5 people are affected by some type of imperfection. Imperfection comes in many forms and may include, but not be limited to –

  •  Bad hair days
  • Accumulation of dust bunnies
  • Laundry pile backups
  • Unwillingness to adhere by the rules of white pants etiquette
  • Procrastination (more on this later)
  • Lack of organization
  • Forgetfulness
  • Distractibility (“Oh look a bird.”)
  • Poor driving
  • Multiple nominations for “Worst Parent of the Year”
  • Inability to calculate time zone changes
  • Preoccupation with wine and wine-related activities
  • Napping in public places

To help create awareness and break the stigma of imperfection, we have declared Friday, April 13  International Imperfection Awareness Day.  Please join us in celebrating this heralded day by wearing something plaid, the official color of imperfection, or wearing some other outfit that highlights your imperfection. Additionally, we invite you to post your Imperfection Awareness photos on our Facebook page

Spread the Imperfect Word!





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You Leave Me Breadless. Meet Today’s Guest Blogger – Anne Marie Chagnon

Our Guest Blogger initiative continues to be a great success. Bloggers from all over the world are virtually sleeping outside the virtual headquarters of Shut Up Industries to get their virtual opportunity (Okay, we may have exaggerated a tad).

If you’ve submitted your blog to us, we haven’t forgotten you; we’ve just been very busy. (On a happy note, Patty made it to Level 17 on Angry Birds)

Today, we’re proud to introduce Annemarie Chagnon. Annmarie is a Massachusetts’ mother of 5 kids. That’s right, we said 5  (4 boys and 1 girl). She has a child with autism, a child with Asperger’s and one with anxiety. Wouldn’t you love to sneak a peek at her school call log?

With little time for therapy (or breathing), Annemarie  or “Cincomom” as we call her,  uses her blog to share her challenges and joys. She invites you to grab a glass of wine and enjoy the chaos that is her life.  Please click on the link  below to read her favorite blog “I Am That Mom” and  give a virtual round of applause for Annemarie.

I Am That Mom, Too by Annmarie Chagnon

To read more of this post and other great works by Annemarie, visit you-leave-me-breadless.

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Meet our New Hall of Shame Inductee — John Lackey

Okay, we’ll admit it. We may not be huge fans of perfection, but we’d be lying if we didn’t admit we expected it with our hometown baseball team, the Boston Red Sox (though historically, they have proven to be anything but perfect). As passionate fans, we expect a “wicked” lot of our team and the players who wear the uniform. We’re also pretty knowledgeable about the game and the talent they select. For example, when the Red Sox acquired pitcher John Lackey, who had a successful career with the Anaheim Angels, we thought it was good for the team.  Of course, that quickly changed when he started pitching for us. Within the first few months of being here, he served up more meatballs than our beloved Italian grandmothers combined. And if that wasn’t enough, he always seemed to have a bad attitude, snapping at reporters and making excuses.

We do, however, understand that we may be  a little too critical of players who underperform. (Remember, we drove Bill Buckner into the Witness Protection Program for letting a grounder through his legs during the world championship.) And since we’re always out promoting a message of acceptance, it seemed only right that we stepped up to the plate and became less critical. As a result, we tried to understand some of Mr. Lackey’s transgressions  last season when he chose to drink beer and eat chicken in the clubhouse during the games, contributing to the Hometown Team’s unfortunate collapse last September. We read that his wife was ill and that he was having marital difficulties. Maybe that contributed to his behavior.  However, after reading this piece from Yahoo sports today, we simply have had enough. When asked about his beer-guzzling, chicken-bone-sucking behavior, Mr. Lackeyluster  got very defensive, responding, “Guys having a beer after their start has been going on for the last 100 years.  This is retarded. It’s not like we were sitting up there doing it every night. It’s not even close to what people think.”

Time out on the field. Did he, who has a terrible “image” problem, just use the “r” word?

That’s it! Enough! It’s time to stop cutting Lackey any more slackey. This guy just doesn’t get it. As a professional ball player, he has a platform. Kids are listening to him. What kind of message does that send to them in this day and age of intense bullying? And, if by making this comment, he’s putting down those with mental or developmental challenges, he’s way off base — again.   In our travels, we have met our share of folks with mental challenges who embody all the qualities that winners need — determination, kindness, compassion, resilience.  All qualities, Mr. Lackey seems to be well, lacking.

So Mr. Lackey gather up your bucket-o-chicken and beer.  We think it’s time to send you and your terrible attitude backey.

To read the interview, click here.  Then tell us what you think.




This guy clearly doesn’t get it. First of all, since he’s come to Boston, he’s been nothing but a surly crybaby. Se



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Meet Today’s Guest Blogger — Jim Walter. “It’s a Man, Baby!”

We’ve often said that we’d like to hear more from men, or more specifically, from fathers of special needs children. In our imperfect travels, we’ve learned that the way men and women handle the stresses and joys of raising special children is very different. In general, we’ve found that women tend to be more open about their children’s struggles and willing to talk about them with others, while most men don’t feel comfortable doing that with one another. We’ve often tried to come up with ways to get more men to join our Facebook community, however, attracting men has never been our strong point. 🙂 Knowing this, we were thrilled when a lovely woman, Leslie,  approached us at our talk in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and told us about her husband, Jim Walter, and his blog. The blog, Just a Lil Blog, discusses “the true life adventures of a little girl with autism, and her struggles raising her two parents with only a big sister to help her.”  Please read Jim’s wonderful blog below.

10! by Jim Walter
My big girl turned 10 today.  She’s very literal (not sure where she gets that) and she claims she’s not officially 10 until 11:52 tonight.  I told her that legally she’s 10 even though she won’t have been alive for 10 full years until 11:52 p.m.

Leslie was reminiscing about the day Emma was born this morning.  I’m not sure why I wasn’t.  Maybe it’s just something that moms do annually.  I think about it from time to time, but for some reason this morning wasn’t one of those times.

Leslie had back labor with Emma.  Do you know what back labor is?  Well it’s icky.  Emma was shoving her noggin against Leslie’s spine and for 30 hours we waited for her to decide to join us.

For 30 hours my wife would fall asleep for 3 minutes, wake up for 5 minutes of contractions, then fall back asleep again.  I was rubbing holes in her back with my thumbs because if I pushed in a certain spot it made her feel slightly better.

“Rub harder,” she said, her voice a ragged hiss, the tone trailing into a whine.

“If I rub any harder I’m going to puncture the skin,” I replied, rubbing harder.

And then she’d fall asleep and I’d crack the knuckles on my hand, flexing my fingers tiredly and lay back, shaking my head at her ability capture sleep so deftly and nod off myself for a minute or two before the “machine that goes ping” would ratchet back up in intensity, signalling a new set of contractions and I’d mobilize my thumb for spine penetration duty.

Some time after she finally opted for the spinal (which was like the hand of God descending upon her removing all pain) and they readied us for the C-section, we could see St. Patrick’s Day approaching.

“Can you hold off a few more minutes so we have a St. Paddy’s Day baby, Doc?” we asked.

“No,” he said flatly.  And so at 11:52 p.m. (possibly 11:51 p.m. . . I swear I’ll change this entire post if it turns out I got the time wrong just to make it seem like I didn’t) Emma was delivered.

To read more, visit Just a Lil Blog. Be sure to visit Jim’s Facebook page to let him know that  “We ‘Like’ Him! We really ‘Like’ him.”



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Pull out your Purple Pants! It’s National Epilepsy Awareness Day!

Today is a very special day — it’s National Epilepsy Awareness Day. You can help celebrate it by wearing the color purple. According to the Epilepsy Foundation (, epilepsy, also known as seizure disorder, is “a medical condition that produces seizures. A seizure happens when a brief, strong surge of electrical activity affects part or all of the brain. When a person has two or more unprovoked seizures, they are considered to have epilepsy.”

Most of us have met someone who has had a seizure or epilepsy. In fact, it’s estimated that 1 in 10 adults will have one during their lifetime. It can happen to any of us, so there’s no need to judge someone affected by epilepsy or seizures. Many accomplished and famous people have been affected by epilepsy, including:

Elton John

Prince (Or the artist formerly known as Prince not the spaghetti)

Julius Caesar

Napoleon Bonaparte

Danny Glover

Florence Joyner Griffith (Flo-Jo)  — She didn’t let that slow her down.

Charles Dickens

Leonardo DaVinci


Thomas Edison

Facebook Celebrities

In addition, many members of our imperfect community on Facebook have been impacted by epilepsy. We’ve shared their comments below. All agree that living with epilepsy is not easy:

Kelly: “My wonderful and amazing son has epilepsy…along with many of his classmates. Wearing purple today in their honor! He has a seizure that lasts from 10 – 45 seconds every day and once a month, always around full moon time, he suffers a tonic clonic (grand mal) seizure that requires valium to stop it. It robs him of at least 2 days. Its heartbreaking. He’s on 4 medications that he takes twice daily. Certainly not a way for an 8 year old to live, especially given all the other things he has going on!….Happy Purple Day!!!!

Linda: “My 10-yr old son, a wonderful boy, is back to school this week after missing a week due to seizures.”

Dawna: “My father had epilepsy from a a plane crash in the military.”

Melissa: “My son had epilepsy when he was a toddler. He has been seizure free for several years.”

Carolyn:  “There are different kinds of epilepsy and my daughter and husband both suffer from petit mal epilepsy. It is horrible when my husband has a grand mal (I found it out when my older daughter was 3 days old and he had has first EEG at my insistence). God bless everyone with epilepsy, it is a rough life. Did you know that it is commonly diagnosed with autism?? Anywhere from 30-80% of autistic children (my daughter is PDD NOS) may have epilepsy!! I didn’t realize it was epilepsy awareness day so thanks for reminding me!!”

Margaret: “My Emma is down to one medication 2x per day and now on the honor roll but still is way behind in school. She has suffered since birth with Jacksonian seizures and is now 12!!!! Looking for a CURE and wearing purple proudly!!!”

Amy: “My older sister (47) was diagnosed with epilepsy at around age 3. She has both petit malls and grand malls. The grand malls have been in remission for quite some time but there is always a chance she will have one again. She has to wear dark glasses even while inside as her eyes are sensitive to the light and the light can trigger the petit malls. In addition to her epilepsy she has some learning disabilities. She has been married for over twenty years and has an 18 year old son with severe autism. I’m not sure she is aware today is epilepsy awareness day so I will make sure to let her know…plus wear some purple if I can find some.”

Julie: “Rock’n my purple. I have had Epilepsy since I was a toddler. I was blessed with parents who refused to let it slow me down and fought with the school who wanted to remove me because the daily seizures disrupted class. Yep, I learned to fight with schools from the best!”

Heather: “I am wearing purple in honor of my twin sis who has suffered from petit mal seizures since high school. While hers are contained well with meds, over the years she has had breakthrough episodes; praying for a cure!
about an hour ago.”

To learn more about epilepsy, visit Epilepsy Foundation.

Thank you all for taking a few moments to learn about epilepsy. Now what are you waiting for? Grab your purple pants!


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Today’s Guest Blogger – Diane Mierzwik

OK folks, we’ve got another treat for you. This one’s even better (and a lot less fattening than the treats from the ice cream man). Today’s blog is from Diane Mierzwik. Diane is the author of “Weekly Affirmations for Premenopausal Women” (James A. Rock Publishers) as well as three other books. She blogs at

I have prided myself in enjoying the things my son enjoyed. I watched Sesame Street and Winnie the Pooh. I listened to Disney soundtracks and Wee Songs of Joy. I might have been busy with the dishes whenever Thomas the Tank was on, but the dishes had to be done some time.
Once he got older, we listened to Lincoln Park and watched Mtv together. I was never afraid of participating in his generation’s entertainment. I’d even watch intently while he played his computer and video games. Watching might be exaggerating. Listening might be more accurate since my eyes were closed as I dosed.

So, I felt so sorry for the dad I saw one morning taking his son to school. While my son and I sang along to the radio together on our drive to school, this man had to cart around a son who had earplugs hooked up to an IPod and was staring out the window. How sad, I thought in my motherly naiveté.

Only two short years later, I happily took away the privilege of watching Viva La Bam at the slightest hint of disrespect. Then, without asking,  I borrowed my son’s IPod Shuffle for a jog. Turning the shuffle on, I jogged a few blocks not really listening to the lyrics, still trying to get into that jogging rhythm at my age is generally mistaken for limping along when I was stopped dead in my tracks – no, seriously, I think my heart stopped – shocked by the lyrics I knew my son had spent his hard-earned, I mean my hard-earned money on.

I kept hitting fast-forward to the next song, searching for the music we listened to together.

Then I realized, I had stumbled upon his contraband music. Oh, I know about contraband music. I had my own.  The music I got in trouble for was Butthole Surfers. My dad didn’t know the lyrics to my favorite song, which had lines about being down on my knees. This I hid, as I’m sure there was music my dad hid from his dad.

But suddenly, I didn’t want to know. I turned off the his Ipod and listened to myself breath so hard I sounded like a freight train.

The next time we were on a road trip, with my new understanding of our growing generational rift, I reminded my son to bring his Ipod. It seems as I have gotten older, I’m more interested in listening to what he calls “old lady” music and am happy to hum away, glancing his way occasionally and musing about what a cherub he is, wearing earphones and staring out the window so serenely.

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Happy World Down Syndrome Day!

Happy World Down Syndrome Day!

Today is a special day! And it’s not just because it’s Big Bird’s 42nd birthday. (By the way, he’s aged beautifully, hasn’t he?). Today is World Down Syndrome Day! And to celebrate, we wanted to share one of our favorite anecdotes from our imperfect book, Shut Up About Your Perfect Kid as well as some heartfelt personal stories from our Facebook page  from people who have been touched by Down syndrome,

Excerpt from Shut Up About Your Perfect Kid

Gina will never forget a joy she and other parents witnessed one day while watching a high school freshman team play basketball. She was there to see Katie’s (her daughter with Asperger’s) friend Jake play and was sitting in the stands with Jake’s parents, Juli and Bob, and their friends. The game was close, and the parents were all tense, especially when Jake’s team started losing.  When the other team pulled away, their coach sent a child with Down’s syndrome into the game. The entire gym, including both teams, stood still watching him.

With just a few minutes left in the game, the child with Down syndrome got the ball. His defender, a solid and aggressive player, took a small step backward. It wasn’t an obvious step – but just enough to show his heart, and his desire to see this child shoot. Recognizing this opportunity, the boy with Down syndrome, raised the ball over his head and released a perfect shot that swished through the center of the net.

The entire gym, including all of Jake’s team (the opponents) stood up and cheered.  Then, we watched as the boy ran off the court onto the sidelines and into the arms of another child with Down’ syndrome on the junior varsity team who was waiting for him.

As Gina looked around the gym, through her tear-stained eyes, she saw people grinning from ear-to-ear and high-fiving each other. In that brief and beautiful moment, those two boys gave the entire crowd a tremendous gift. They reminded us that life is not about winning, it’s about having a winning heart.

After the game, Gina went down to talk to Jake, who had a big grin on his face, despite his team’s bad loss to their rivals.

Gene,” he said.  “Did you see that kid’s shot? And when he went to hug his friend? Wasn’t it awesome?”

“It sure was, Jake. That was a SportsCenter moment.”

How have you been touched by Down Syndrome?

We posed this question today on our Facebook page, and wanted to share some of the beautiful responses:

Kristina: “My step brother (just 3 months younger than I am!) has down syndrome. I know many children and adults through our local Miracle League that also have DS. I love them ALL!

Patty: “My friend Barbara’s son has Down Syndrome and he is so special to me. He is always open and accepting. He loves to give hugs and to say hello! He’s open to challenges and is now working at a Starbucks. I’m proud to know him! I consider him my friend.”

Emily: “My cousin was Down Syndrome. Growing up we had so much fun playing at family BBQ’s…then she got Luekemia and passed away. She will always be beautiful, she will always be young and she will always be in my heart!!!! Love you Becca!!!”

Christana: “My son Logan has Down Syndrome, he will be 11 in May and he rocks his extra chromosome 😉 He has taught me a lot of things and Im so proud to be his Momma!! *Happy World Down Syndrome Day.*”

Shonda: “My first experience w/early intervention was as a personal aid for a toddler w/DS– he (and a little buddy of his) were the sweetest most loving kiddos I’ve EVER worked with~ they didn’t judge anyone and had the sweetest disposition.”

Peggy: “My daughter was born after we had 6 miscarriages. We called her lucky number 7. (which multiplied by 3 equals 21 btw) Her Down syndrome was a total surprise but she has been a joy to so many. (as much of a joy as any 7 year old can be some days) :o)”

Do you have a story to share about how Down syndrome has touched your life?  Celebrate World Down Syndrome Day by sharing it.

To learn more about World Down Syndrome Day, click here.

Happy World Down Syndrome Day!




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Contest Alert! Contest Alert! Enter the Shut Up Imperfect Easter Bunny Coloring Contest

Break out your crayons imperfect parents and caregivers of special children. The Promotions Department of Shut Up Industries (Patty and Gina pretending their company is bigger than it really is) is pleased to announce our first annual Imperfect Easter Bunny Coloring Contest. You could be one of three lucky winners to take a home an Imperfect Easter Basket packed with fun and imperfect things. To enter, simply color the drawing above and email it to Be sure to include your name and imperfect mailing address.  An impartial party (OK, Patty and Gina) will narrow the entries down to 10 and you will be allowed to cast your vote for three finalists on our Blog. Keep in mind, our judges will be looking for entries that —

–  Display creativity — No need to stay inside the lines.

–  Capture our imperfect lifestyles.

– Extra consideration will be given to those who work in the words, “Shut Up.”

Please note this contest is for adults only. The Shut Up About Your Perfect Kid — Tween/Teen Facebook page (aka G’s daughter Katie) will  be launching their own contest.  Good luck and may the imperfect force be with you.  The drawing is below. All entries must be received by Saturday, March 31, 2012. Finalists will be posted for voting the week of April 1 (That’s April Fool’s Day — a Shut Up holiday).


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Meet Today’s Guest Blogger — Stacie Duffy

It’s Friday and we have a treat for you (Settle down, it’s too early for Happy Hour). Today, we’re sharing a blog from one of our favorite Facebook family members (say that three times fast), Stacie Duffy. Stacie is the mom of four extra special kids. Her blog, Alphabet Soup, humorously describes the myriad of issues surrounding her children and her family. Give it up for Stacie. Be sure to leave her a comment and to sign up for her blog to read more of her great work.

Cocoa by Stacie Duffy

Cocoa.  Lovely cocoa.  How do I love you?  I simply can’t count the ways.  You are used in all my greatest culinary creations from chocolate cake, to chocolate cookies to the most sinfully rich, heart-attack-in-a-2-inch-square-bar brownies.  Sigh.  I love you, cocoa.  If I pair you up with sugar and butter, there’s nothing I can’t do in the kitchen.

Unfortunately, the Little Guy saw the Hershey’s logo on that delightful, industrial-sized can of cocoa and his sweet little mind went straight to “chocolate bar!!!” and that was the end of my cocoa.

I’m sure you’re all wondering how my Little Guy got to the cocoa, well, here’s the story:  our house is Tim Taylor’s worst nightmare.  It’s a fixer-upper from Satan himself.  Our kitchen was designed by someone who has never cooked a meal, ever.  Our entire home was designed by someone who never lived in a home with a family.  Ever.  So, the kitchen is long and narrow:  known in home-design circles as a “galley kitchen.”  I have other words for it, but this blog is PG so I’ll leave those words in the gutter where they belong.

In our kitchen is a small pantry.  Essentially, it’s a closet (tiny) that you stack up anything that doesn’t fit into the teeny-tiny cabinets.  There are perfectly spaced shelves in the pantry so as to store very large and/or tall items (like the huge cereal boxes that can be found in warehouse stores) right down to smaller items, such as extra ketchup or a bag of flour.  (And, now you’re all wondering what this has to do with cocoa, I’m getting there.  Honest.)

My pantry is stocked to bake any kind of dessert at any time.  My children can come home from school and tell me they need 100 batches of brownies for tomorrow and I can supply it (if we excuse that little thing known as time).  So, cocoa, flour, sugar, etc., are all in my pantry and ready to be whipped into something delightful in a moment’s notice.

Now, add one small, autistic (translation:  better at problem-solving than any neurotypical person ANYWHERE in the universe and better able to climb anything than anyone else in history) 3 year-old little boy.  Cocoa + shelving that can be climbed + Little Guy = That cocoa smell that is probably detectable across the United States right now.  Well, by now, the smell has probably even wafted to the UK.

Little Guy grabbed a kitchen chair, dragged it over to the pantry, pulled out the cocoa and decided to open the can.  All hell broke loose, thereafter.

To continue reading this blog, visit Alphabet Soup.

Do you have a special blog to share?

Send us an email to with a link to a blog you’d like to feature. Be sure to send us a photo and a brief bio and we’ll do our best to get your blog on this site.


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5 Things NOT to Say To Special Needs Parents

If you have a few seconds between fielding school calls, picking up prescriptions, and battling dust bunnies, please take a moment to read our latest blog for Psychology Today. It provides education on the things not to say to special parents. Lord knows, we’re all versed in what we can’t stand to hear.  Psychology Today reaches some 6 million viewers daily so this presents a great opportunity to spread The Movement of Imperfection by educating those who do not have children with special needs. It would be wonderful if you could share the link on your Facebook or Twitter pages. Or leave a comment. Or even better, have a tattoo of the five things created. Just kidding. A marquee in front of your house is plenty.

Open Mouth Insert Duct Tape -- What People Shouldn't Say to Special Parents

Here’s the link.


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Mother Always Said…Play Your Vegetables?

Love music, but can’t afford to purchase your own instruments? Make a salad, or rather a salad symphony. That’s what these two men in the video below do. They make instruments out of vegetables. Check it out. Very cool. We’re going to ask our husbands if we can take potato lessons. Wish us luck.

Watch the video.

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BREAKING NEWS! New Shut Up Car Magnets Coming Soon




They’re back by imperfect demand! P and G are pleased to announce that we’re resurrecting our bumper magnet division with some fresh new designs. Just think of the attention you’ll draw in the car pool line. Stay tuned for details on how you can order these sassy magnets.

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Today’s Guest Blogger – Paula Libbey

Today, we have a special treat. As part of our new guest blogger initiative, we’re pleased to introduce our new guest blogger, Paula Libbey. Paula is the mom to two amazing kids — a first-grade girl and a third-grade boy. Her son has Asperger’s, NLD, ADHD, disorder or written expression, and mathematics disorder.  Paula, a former copywriter and Twin Cities resident, is a featured blogger at, a personal development website dedicated to helping promote balance and well-being for women. Please give it up for Paula. 

Bragging Rights for My Child with Learning Disabilities

Ever get up caught in one of those conversations with fellow parents–at a school function or family gathering–where everyone is bragging about their children? Bragging about our kids is supposed to be fun, right?

I ask because I’m still trying to figure out the fun part. Here’s a general idea of how these conversations typically play out for me. I smile, nod, and listen to the other parents. They say things like: My daughter is 2 grade levels ahead in math; My son speaks 3 languages; My daughter just won the tennis tournament…for the fourth year in a row; My son saved 2 hump back whales last summer while we were sailing across the Atlantic [Okay, I’m exaggerating for dramatic effect]; My dog started his own organic rawhide business and made us millions [complete fabrication…for dramatic effect].

I quickly realize I am out of my league and I need to escape the conversation, stat. I don’t want to be too abrupt. I need to look natural. So as I slowly back away from the group, I throw in a, “Wow, what an amazing kid.” [And that dog–just phenomenal] Just as my statement trails off, all eyes are suddenly on me. I want to say, “No, no, no. I appreciate you offering me a turn to boast about my wonderful kid, but I’ve got to scoot.”

I don’t say that. Against my better judgement, I proceed to brag. As I do, I  unleash a plague of crickets and bring the once lively conversation to a screeching halt.

“Well”, I say, “My Kid* recently made intermittent eye contact during a conversation!” [Hmm. They don’t seem impressed. I wasn’t going to mention this next one because I didn’t want to be such a braggart, but fine.] “My Kid also recently paddled a canoe!” [No reaction. Clearly they are just confused.] “That means My Kid crossed his midline from right to left without switching hands!” [crickets begin chirping here] “That means the neurons between the right and left brain hemispheres are growing and connecting!” [crickets now out in FULL force]

As a parent of a child with learning disorders**, hangin’ with the parents of “the typicals” can sometimes be awkward. While I can proudly say that My Kid is thoughtful, intelligent, resilient, and funny, my bragging rights are, for now, very different. Until that changes, I think I just need to work on my exit strategies.

~ Paula Libbey, Feature Contributor

* I’m using the phrase “My Kid” in an effort to respect what’s left of my child’s privacy.
**I’m not at all private about this issue. In fact, much to my husband’s chagrin, I often end up discussing the topic with people I’ve just met or the clerk at Trader Joe’s. [They’re just so darn friendly and upbeat.]  Anyway, “learning disorders” is a general term. In our case, the combination of specific disorders would require long explanations, which I am too lazy to write at the moment.

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Imperfect Crime Alert: Woman “Nailed” for Misbehaving on Plane

Well, it just wouldn’t be a news report if there wasn’t some disturbing story involving air rage. Happily, today’s story does not involve Alec Baldwin having “Harsh Words With Non-Friends.” No, this particular one involves the arresting of a female passenger who did the unthinkable — she decided to paint her nails on the plane. When told the polish odor was bothering other passengers, the woman went to the lavatory and finished the job, only to be greeted by angry flight attendants who arranged to have the woman arrested when the plane landed.  Personally, we don’t know what the woman was thinking. The captain never says, “You are free to move about the cabin and obtain a manicure.” We also think that if they let her off on this selfish crime, it would encourage others to paint their toenails, shave, or partake in other, inappropriate beauty activities.  “I’m sorry, Ma’am, but TSA rules do not allow Botox needles on the plane.”

See more about the this woman’s “brush” with the law.

What do you think? Does the punishment fit the crime?



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