One year

Editor’s note: For those of you who are new-ish to According to Dude and need context, please read these posts from last year: Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes and The Big Move.

Dearest Dude,

One year ago today, we moved you into your new home. I’m not sure what you were thinking or feeling that day, but the rest of us were barely holding it together (read: I didn’t hold it together).

The past year has had its successes and failures, but I think the good outweighs the bad. I had my share of hiccups the first time I lived outside of Mom and Dad’s house as a freshman in college. It totally makes sense that you should have some too.

I hope you know how much we love you and how we’d do anything to ensure your happiness. We are always 1000% in your corner. That will never, ever change.

Love you always,


The Story of Jefferey the Pony

Ok so, April 2nd was World Autism Awareness Day and I tried to pull together an emotional, heartfelt post, but it was all over the place and my brain was like, “Sorry, you’re getting nothing cohesive outta me,” so I just gave up. Maybe I’ll get my brain to un-jumble before the end of the month.

(Spell check is telling me that “un-jumble” is not a word. You’re not the boss of me, spell check.)

Instead, I’m throwing it back and sharing a memory that popped into my head the other day and made me laugh out loud. This memory has almost nothing to do with Dude, except in the teeny tiniest of ways.

My last semester of college was one of the greatest times of my life. It was just what I needed after the terrible, awful, no good, very bad semester of Fall 2009.

One of the things that made my last semester so awesome was the running gag that occurred between our apartment and the apartment above us.

That winter, my three roommates and I noticed an uptick in suspicious noises emitting from our upstairs neighbors. There were four boys living up there. You expect some weird things when four college-aged guys are living together.

They tended to keep their weird noises to reasonable hours, so we weren’t bothered by them. We were just really, really curious why they seemed to vacuum every day (sometimes multiple times per day) and who walked so aggressively that it sounded like a four-legged giant stomping around.

On February 1, 2010, we couldn’t take it anymore. We had to know. So, we wrote them a letter and taped it to their door. (Please keep in mind that we had never met or communicated with these guys before–except through banging the ceiling with a broom when they were being particularly aggressive with their noise-making.)


Please click on the image to read the letter. The apartment numbers have been redacted.


By this point, we had spent hours (literally–do not underestimate the power of college kids’ procrastination skills) hypothesizing about the noises. Since the pounding footsteps didn’t sound as though they were made by a biped, we were completely sold on the idea that there was pony upstairs.

We were immensely disheartened when they did not honor us with a response.

Fast forward two months. A particularly noisy week from our dear neighbors elicited another letter from us. We had low hopes of a response, but were amused anyway.


Please click to read


After hurried knock on our door, we found THIS taped there:



A close up. You know what this content means? THEY KEPT THE ORIGINAL LETTER FROM TWO MONTHS PRIOR!

We laughed. Heartily.

I left the apartment to go hang out at another friend’s place. When I returned later that night, I almost tripped over THESE:


Cinder blocks. AKA cement shoes.


I unlocked the door and walked inside. It was later in the evening, so none of my roommates were in the common room.

“Guys?” I called.

“Yea??” two of my roommates responded from their respective rooms.

“Why are there cinder blocks on our porch?”


They sprinted from their rooms and threw open the door.

We gazed dumbly down at the cinder blocks.

“JEFFEREY’S CEMENT SHOES!” one of us yelled as we all fell over laughing.

“Oh it is ON!” said another.

“But seriously,” my one roommate said when she could finally breathe again, “You don’t just randomly find cinder blocks laying around! They had to be on a mission to find these. Talk about committing to the gag.”

As the guys had promised to pick up the cinder blocks the next day, we left a message for their return trip.


Then, we plotted our rebuttal.

Never mind that I had a thesis to work on, one roommate had an art portfolio to finish, and another had lesson plans to write.

Instead, we headed to the dilapidated strip mall in town and hunted down the girliest toy pony we could find.


Boys! We found Jefferey!!!!

The boldest of our roommates army-crawled upstairs to avoid being spotted by our devious neighbors to the north. She placed Jefferey and his welcome home sign in position, knocked on their door, and sprinted back downstairs. We stood silently and waited as we heard one of the guys trudge to their front door.

A pause.. silence.. and then..


Pounding footsteps thundered our ceiling. Then raucous laughter broke out.

And that’s the story of how we won the Infamous Pony War of 2010.

So where does Dude play a role in this?

Well, during this semester, I had convinced my friends to sign up for an Autism Speaks 5k during Autism Awareness Month.

Our team name?


Friends and family members who I solicited donations from asked me how we got the name. “Is Jefferey the name of a loved one of one of your team members?”

“Nope, it’s the name of the pony that lives in the apartment above me and my roommates,” I deadpanned.

Kermit the Frog here!

The key to Dude having a pretty awesome Saturday?

1) Haircut with his favorite stylist

2) Red Lophoto(6)bster and Cheddar Bay Biscuits! (He would make a meal out of them if we let him!)

3) A Russian imposter saying, “Kermit the Frog here!”

Seriously. If you want to get a guaranteed grin and/or laugh out of Mr. Dude and have little to no shame, put on your best Russian accent and say things Kermit would say. He LOVED Muppets Most Wanted because of it.


Congrats, Dude. You’ve made it into my friend’s subconscious

A conversation with one of my best friends from college earlier this week:

Her: I had a dream the other night about Dude. I think our friends were visiting your parents’ house or something, and someone was sitting in Dude’s favorite spot (I don’t know if he has one, my brain made this up)… And Dude asked them to move and you all were really excited that he did that! Anyway, Dude is learning even in my subconscious, apparently!!!

Me: Haha that’s awesome! It sounds like you combined him with Sheldon Cooper, who absolutely does have a “spot.”
sheldon spot

Down Goes Duke!

Last week was a not-so-great work week for me. By the time I got to Friday, I felt like I had been run through the wringer. All I needed to do was get to 5:00pm so I could go home and do my best to brush off my crappy week.

But then, the universe handed me a most wondrous gift.

One of my friends from college messaged me, “DUKE IS LOSING TO A SCHOOL CALLED MERCER WITH 1:33 LEFT!”

Now, for those of you who are newer around these here parts, let me fill in some blanks.

I went to University of Maryland, which was part of the ACC, but is moving to the Big 10 at the beginning of next academic year. Duke is also part of the ACC.

We hate Duke. A lot.

Seriously. I cannot overstate how much we loathe them.

Maryland students have a habit of lighting stuff on fire when we beat Duke in basketball (we’re not classy and we’re proud of it). The riot police may or may not have been called in to restore order my senior year of college. (They were.)

I opened up a live update stream in my browser and watched with bated breath as the last minute ticked down.

In case you don’t know what happened, here is a super helpful website that will give you the answer:


It brings this Maryland fan a great deal of joy when the Blue Devils fall spectacularly from their throne… Like in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to a 14 seed team that I never even heard of.

My Friday quickly turned into the best day ever. I seriously could not stop grinning.

Dude and I both arrivNCAA Tourneyed at our parents’ house that night in preparation for a Saturday full of quality family time.

When I arrived, Dude was sitting in the family room watching an old bowling special.

“Hey Dude!” I greeted him.

“No basketball,” Dude responded. (To understand Dude’s use of the word “no,” kindly refer to the Dude Language Guide.)

“I can probably find an NCAA game for you to watc–. OH MY GOSH!” I gasped. “DUDE, GUESS WHO LOST IN THE BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT TODAY?”

Dude looked at me for a few seconds before answering, “Maryland!”

I laughed, “No, we weren’t even good enough to make the tournament. Do you remember a few years back, when I told you there was a team that we didn’t like just as much as the Dallas Cowboys?”

Dude said nothing.

“DUKE! DUKE LOST!” I yelled triumphantly. I may have even fist pumped a bit.

“Duke, yo,” Dude responded.

Twenty minutes later, Dad returned from work. He went into the family room to give Dude a hug.

“No basketball,” Dude said.

Dad got the same excited expression I had. “Dude, do you know who lost in basketball today?!”

“Duke, yo!” Dude happily replied.

He’s such a fast learner…I’m so proud!!!



As I was standing in an aisle at the grocery store over the weekend, trying to remember which color toothbrushes my roommates currently have so I didn’t buy the same color, a memory popped into my head.

My first year out of college, I lived at home to save money. This meant that Dude and I were once again sharing a bathroom.

As I mentioned in previous posts, Dude has low muscle tone and underdeveloped fine motor skills. This means that he needs help cutting up food, writing, and doing self-care tasks such as brushing his teeth.

When I brush my teeth, I do it the same way every time. Pick up the toothbrush, put the toothpaste on it, run it under some water, and begin brushing my teeth.

One night, when I was living at home, I picked up my red toothbrush by the brush instead of the handle. I noticed immediately that it was wet.

Dude had been in the bathroom a few minutes earlier going through his nighttime routine. I reached for the toothbrush holder (the standard kind with four holes in it) and felt his blue toothbrush. It was dry.

I opened the door from the bathroom into his room, where Mom was helping him get ready for bed.

“Hey Mom?” I began. “Did you accidentally use my toothbrush to brush Dude’s teeth?”

“Hmm?” she said distractedly as she looked for his chapstick on his dresser.

“My toothbrush is wet. His is dry. Did you use mine?”

“I dunno. I used the one on the right like I always do.”

A sense of realization and horror was growing in me.

“What do you mean, ‘I used on the one on the right like I always do?!’” I demanded.

Mom turned around, looking slightly exasperated at the fact she had to explain such a simple concept.

“His cup is on the right. Your cup is on the left. Therefore his toothbrush is on the right and yours is on the left!”

“You mean you don’t tell our toothbrushes apart by color?” I asked weakly.

“No,” she answered.


Mom’s color started to rise, “I don’t know! I just always grab from the same place!”

I was now grimacing and fighting the urge to gag at the thought of my brother and I swapping mouth bacteria on a regular basis, “We have different color toothbrushes for a REASON! Why bother if you aren’t going to tell them apart that way?! Does Dad know about this rule?”

“Yes!” Mom replied, defiantly.

“Dad!” I yelled downstairs. “Come up here! We have to ask you something.”

Dad appeared, looking a bit confused.

“What’s up?” he asked.

“How do you tell Dude’s toothbrush apart from mine when you brush his teeth?” I asked.

“His is the blue one,” Dad responded immediately.

“THANK YOU!” I yelled as Mom opened her mouth in protest.

“No!” she argued, gesturing towards the sink. “Dude’s toothbrush is always on the right.”

“Well yea.. sometimes it is. But why bother with placement when it’s so easy to tell them apart by color?” Dad answered reasonably.

“Well apparently Mom doesn’t do it that way and FAILED TO TELL ME, SO DUDE AND I HAVE BEEN SWAPPING SPIT FOR GOD KNOWS HOW MANY YEARS!” I answered, not so reasonably.

Dad snickered at he looked between me and Mom, glowering at each other.

“Spit, yo!” Dude contributed from his spot on the bed.

And that’s the story of why I always check my toothbrush for dryness before use when Dude and I are sleeping under the same roof!

Everything Is Awesome!

I can’t believe I’m about to sit through this movie.

That’s the thought that was running through my head two weekends ago as Dude and I were sitting in a darkened movie theater waiting for The Lego Movie to begin.

I had seen some friends post on Facebook that they saw it and enjoyed it, but I wasn’t convinced. I figured as long as Dude liked it (and he tends to like anything animated), I would be happy.

Welp, it turns out I LOVED that movie. I am not at all ashamed to say it. With the voice stylings of Elizabeth Banks, Chris Pratt, Morgan Freeman, Will Ferrell, Will Arnett, and others, it was pure gold. I was giggling throughout the entire thing and I’ve had this terrible but catchy song stuck in my head on and off for the past week:

There was one point during the movie when a small robot army starts singing “Everything is Awesome.” If there is one thing my brother loves, it’s alien/robot voices. He was laughing so hard that I thought he was going to fall out of his seat and/or choke on his popcorn. (I recommend neither.)

Dude found a few phrases funny and repeated them, mimicking the characters’ tone, to himself and to me throughout the movie. The great part about being in a theater where the average age is 8? No one cares if there is some extra murmuring! Score!

Afterwards, I planned to take Dude out for an early dinner. The shopping center where the movie theater is has several restaurants to choose from.

Instead of asking Dude to select from the options available, I made the mistake of asking him the open-ended question, “Where would you like to eat for dinner?”

He considered this for about seven seconds before he answered, “Red Lobster!” in his sing songy voice.

Literally the ONLY restaurant that was nowhere nearby. The closest one was a 30 minute drive away.

Once I explained that Red Lobster wasn’t an option, Dude settled for TGI Fridays and happily dug into his chicken fingers, french fries, and chocolate milk.

We were so early for dinner that they sat us in the bar area, where there were quite a few middle-aged individuals who are totally cool with day drinking at a TGI Fridays. That was.. interesting to behold.

Anyway, Dude and I had a lovely day date! I’m looking forward to doing it again soon :)