Beach Closings; Autism

The Portage Lake Michigan shore looking across...

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One of the things I miss here in Arizona is Lake Michigan and her beaches. For one extraordinarily lucky year in my past, I lived just steps from the beach. I went walking every morning before work and sometimes, on my days off, I would lose my sense of time beach-combing along the shoreline. At least with walking the beach, one doesn’t have to worry about beach closings. That is the subject this week of one of my suggested links. Two other links have to do with autism. They are blogs written by a Valparaiso husband and wife, parents of Alex, an autistic teen. I know a pretty fair amount about autism. Here in Arizona where I’m living I’m only twenty minutes from Rusty’s Morningstar Ranch, so I see the autistic ranchers often. Each of the guys, including my son, Brian, have their individual quirks, and each of the ranchers have something to teach. So does Alex Byrne, whose parents Ed and Pat keep individual blogs worth reading. Since I’m betting that you, reader, know of someone diagnosed with autism (the numbers are becoming astounding), you might be interested in links to those blogs.

Beach Guard ( The Indiana Department of Environmental Management has developed a website to alert the public to beach closures. The site lists 52 public and 2 private beaches thus far, and those are located in Lake, Porter, LaPorte, and a few other northern Indiana counties. When I accessed the web pages on July 11, the beaches at Stop 24 in Long Beach and Stop 21 in Shoreline Hills were closed due to contamination. I figured it must be because of recent rains. Dunes State Park and Beverly Shores‘ beaches were open. If I had to drive more than a few miles to get to a particular beach, I would access Beach Guard first, to make sure I could swim at my chosen beach. This website is a welcome addition to local public service sites.

One Autism Mom’s Notes ( think Pam Byrne is on to a good idea by keeping a diary of her thoughts and Alex’s behaviors from day to day. A parent of an exceptional child (as those with disabilities used to be labeled) can sympathize, can know exactly where Pam’s thoughts and emotions are coming from, and as they read the blog, they don’t feel so alone. Pam, an English teacher of middle school students, knows how to write, and her words flow effortlessly. I’m sure that part of her blogging process brings catharsis, and maybe even a little bit of respite. If you are either a special ed professional or just someone who wants to truly understand your friend, neighbor or relative’s process of parenting a child with autism, Pam’s blog will deliver that wish.

Autism by Edward Byrne ( Ed is a professor in the English Department at Valparaiso University, and he has published eight collections of poetry. His autism piece is a work in progress. As I read his verse, I could not help thinking that perhaps his son Alex is the real poet in these lines, and Ed is the interpreter putting the words and impressions onto paper (or in this case, digital print). I like how both parents have created blogs chronicling their journey with Alex. And Alex is lucky to have two parents working in close partnership to raise their autistic son, and perhaps raise the consciousness of the rest of us.

I want to thank friend Marilyn Lowenstine for providing me with the Byrnes’ blog information.


~ by IndianaDunesPoet on July 18, 2011.

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