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Leda Natkin Nelis
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Entries by Leda Natkin Nelis

Pimp and Circumstance

(1) Comments | Posted July 3, 2013 | 11:58 AM

My Asperger's son attended his school leavers' dinner this past week dressed as a pimp. His outfit, purchased over the internet, featured a gilded pimp cane, a black crushed velvet and leopard printed jacket, a matching fedora, and gold satin neck scarf. The dress code for the evening, it should...

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Swimming Upstream

(1) Comments | Posted June 3, 2013 | 5:28 PM

Mainstream education is highly overrated. Pulling my Asperger's Syndrome/dyspraxic son out of mainstream and placing him into a special school was, alongside marrying my husband and opting out of a nose job, the best decision I ever made. Our son was 7 years old at the time. We have never...

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Saint Judy

(0) Comments | Posted April 2, 2013 | 6:12 PM

My mother is the only person in the world besides Putin and Anna Wintour who intimidates me. Why? Because she is always truthful. And sometimes the truth can hurt. Judy doesn't mince her words. She is loving but ascerbic, soft of heart but hard as nails. My mother is my...

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Pulp Affliction

(1) Comments | Posted March 12, 2013 | 5:28 PM

I often feel as if I am in a Quentin Tarantino movie. Our household (long ago coined "the House of Dysfunction") is a bubbling cauldron of high voltage drama, peppered with scatological and sexual verbiage. My teenage son with Asperger's, like Tarantino's characters, engages in nonstop oration, talk that is...

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Mind Over Grey Matter

(2) Comments | Posted February 28, 2013 | 2:19 PM

"Who do you know who is nice, but not really affectionate?"

"Name someone who is not smart despite being well-educated..."

"Do you know anyone who is materialistic but who doesn't live ostentatiously?"

My son asks me questions like these all day long, from morning until night. In our family, we...

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Primal Fear

(1) Comments | Posted January 31, 2013 | 3:17 PM

My husband, much to my dismay, announced last week that he hates the Caribbean. Woe is me. My idea of heaven is twelve days on a lounge bed in the scorching sun, an eight hundred-page Henry James novel and plastic goblet of pinot grigio at hand, and just enough doses...

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Groundhog Day

(1) Comments | Posted December 14, 2012 | 1:50 PM

Sometimes days spent with children on the autistic spectrum begin to feel like "groundhog day" as we parents are forced to adhere, because of our children's need for sameness, to carefully-crafted schedules and routines.

During our now-teenage son's early years, this desperate need for sameness was for him a...

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Losing It

(0) Comments | Posted November 16, 2012 | 4:07 PM

While surfing the Internet last week, my daughter asked me why Britney Spears shaved her head a few years back.

"She was having a nervous breakdown," I explained.

My daughter looked at me thoughtfully. "Isn't that what you have sometimes?" she asked.


I am famous for my meltdowns....

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The Unsinkable Alex Jones

(1) Comments | Posted October 25, 2012 | 8:42 PM

Alex Jones is our family's human safety net.

Alex is the glue that keeps our household in one piece. Even though she makes her way only intermittently into our lives without any official title or regular timetable, she has more than managed to make herself indispensible. Every special needs family...

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Is Asperger's Syndrome the New Black?

(120) Comments | Posted October 2, 2012 | 3:05 PM

Last week I celebrated my 50th birthday here in London, surrounded by friends and family members. It was a night of unmitigated revelry; an evening of champagne, laughter and music. The most unforgettable moment of the night, however, came when my 15-year-old son with Asperger's Syndrome got up and gave...

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Mega Button Blast

(0) Comments | Posted August 1, 2012 | 11:40 AM

When my son was a toddler, he had many fears. He was afraid of loud noises, ostriches and doorknockers in the shape of lions. But what terrified my son the most was a McDonald's dessert called "Mega Button Blast."

The television adverts for this confection featured explosions of chocolate buttons...

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Special Needs Crossroads

(1) Comments | Posted June 26, 2012 | 10:12 AM

I have sometimes felt that bringing up an Asperger's child is like driving around the Somerset countryside without a road map; I am strapped into the driver's seat, but have no one there to guide me on my journey.

A neurotic, type-A New Yorker, I am used to always being...

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Fears, Phobias and Foibles

(2) Comments | Posted June 2, 2012 | 4:07 PM

My son, when he was eight years old, acquired quite suddenly a fear of developing countries. I don't know what prompted the onset of this phobia, but it was mortifyingly politically incorrect. At school, he refused to eat even a bite of his school lunch if seated next to his...

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Sister Act

(0) Comments | Posted May 8, 2012 | 5:52 PM

What happens to the siblings of special needs children? My thirteen-year-old daughter has been looking on with envy as I spend my odd hours crafting and polishing parenting columns focused on her brother -- his quirks, his talents, his challenges. This week, let me shift my attention to her, the...

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No Filter

(4) Comments | Posted April 13, 2012 | 11:45 AM

Riddle: What do an Asperger's Syndrome child and a Gauloise cigarette have in common?

Having a teenage son without a filter is a unique experience. I often feel as if I have been airlifted straight into my son's anterior cingulate cortex, the brain's centre for sexual arousal....

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Enemies at the Gate

(3) Comments | Posted March 26, 2012 | 11:12 AM

I was a school gate pariah.

The school gates are an oft discussed hotspot, the epicenter of parental rivalry and maternal bravado. Needless to say, my experiences at the school gate of our pre-prep in leafy Hampstead were dreadful. Although my son, when he started full time school at age...

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Direct Learning

(2) Comments | Posted March 4, 2012 | 8:22 AM

Chances are, no one ever sat you down as a child and gave you a Powerpoint presentation on how to put on a sock. Most likely, you simply grabbed a sock intuitively at some point during your late toddler years, first mouthing it to savor its pithy taste, then managing...

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The Asperger's Child And Language Appropriation

(6) Comments | Posted February 11, 2012 | 12:21 AM

My fifteen year old Asperger's Syndrome son has an astonishing audiographic and photographic memory. He's able, after watching a film only two or three times, to recite the dialogue verbatim. We discovered this years ago, when our then-nine year old announced one evening before bedtime that he had learned the...

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A Davos Moment

(1) Comments | Posted February 1, 2012 | 6:49 AM

Davos by day and Davos by night are different worlds, but the two complement each other perfectly. The kinetic pace of WEF's daytime sessions and faux-casual huddled conversations scattered among the bars and stairwells of the Congress Centre offset the other Davos. This second Davos, the underbelly, emerges only after...

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