Not Where I Once Was

Thanks go out to Clay for always giving me something to think about and for providing a catalyst to write a piece.

A friend of mine, Clay, ran across a post in honor of Autism Awareness Month and has posted it at his blog and reflected on the mother’s attitude. Certainly, there are troubling paragraphs in the mother’s piece, this idea of “the instant emptiness in his eyes” and “I was determined to fix him”; they hurt to read, for obvious reasons. However, I think that Clay focusing only on the narrow where-she-was and not on where-she-is-now misses the larger picture, the important parts of the post and what we as a community can learn from each other.

That’s where the mother was; not where she is now. And to miss where she is now, with her son, is to miss the growth curve parents go through. And there are some steep growth curves for parents whose children have issues, whatever those issues may be. To deny that, to denigrate them because they took a little while to adjust, when they did adjust, is to compound the problems our community, society as a whole, faces.

Parents of newly diagnosed/identified children need good information and need scientifically-based interventions to foster functionality. Fostering functionality does not have as its intent to hammer in some unreal concept of normal, but to help as best as possible, in a way that honors the child’s personhood, the child reaching his full potential. And if there’s a speech delay, that means speech therapy. If there’s gross motor and fine motor issues, that means PT and OT. If there are social skills issues, to not help a child navigate those muddy waters is to make sure the child doesn’t achieve his full potential. Parents need support, need to see and interact with older autistics, so that they know potential pitfalls of various therapies, so that they can get a window into their child’s possible way of seeing the world. And, honestly, autistics need the parents, need the right and the opportunity to share, to be accepted and respected. We need each other.

Given this kind of networking opportunity, evidence-based information, and positive social support for autistic individuals and family members, how many would have to turn towards AoA, GenRes, TACA, and Autism Speaks and other groups that really don’t respect, appreciate, or accept autistics? I suspect far less.

My bright boy is two years older than this mother’s child, and there are obvious parallels in functional levels. We went through guardianship and SSI when he was 18. Bobby's certainly an adult, but he has a cognitive impairment; he can't spell more than a few words despite many long years of working at it, can't do double digit math. Today, we went to the SPCA to fill out the volunteer form so that he can volunteer one day a week as we work to see if some kind of employment will be possible for him in the future (something we’d arranged before I ever read this mother’s piece).

Instead of focusing on how she’s got it all wrong, that she sees her son incorrectly, sees the autism as an add on, not integral, one could stop and think that it is the accepted scientific/educational/medical policy to state person first language to emphasize humanity before disabilities/medical conditions/differences of ethnicity. It may be political correctness run amuck, but at its heart is an attempt at sensitivity. In fact, if one is going to signal out that this proves the mother has it all wrong, one should hone in on the fact that the mother later wrote, “Robby's autism became not a label, but who he was. He is life, re-interpreted.” This seems to imply that while she may have had a rocky road initially, she certainly has come to see her son’s autism differently. While the Peter Pan imagery may offend some, this mother’s love and acceptance now of her son is apparent: “Robby is a happy, silly, fun-loving boy.” This is later followed by her desire that he have “continued happiness - to be able to enjoy his hobbies (drawing, art) work a bit (he will soon start volunteering at the SPCA each week via his Easter Seals Kaleidoscope program) and to be surrounded by folks who care and love him.” All things, by the way, that I very much wish for my bright boy.

He is my son, my bright boy, and while I accept and celebrate that he is an adult, the truth is that he is an adult with a cognitive impairment that requires he have assistance. We work very hard to find a balance that allows him the opportunity for growth, to reach his potential. We work very hard to allow him as much autonomy as he is capable of, but it is my job as his parent and his legal guardian to stand between him and those who would take advantage of him. It is my job to make sure he is in a safe environment, he is happy, he is doing what he wants to do with his life.

I take my responsibilities seriously. It is a constant balancing act, and my husband and I regularly reevaluate our decisions. Our experiences as our son’s parents have paved the way for our parenting of our daughters. We didn’t have the steep learning curve that we did with Bobby; we didn’t have the struggle to learn about autism, understand it, or accept it. We’d already done the heavy lifting. I am not where I once was, and I suspect that many parents who’ve been around for a decade or more aren’t. Sure, AoA gives us daily reminders that not everyone gets off the pity party, not everyone decides to see the good, to learn, to grow, or hell, even to take a real good look at themselves and their loved ones and realize that there’s a great deal of us in our kids, that we are bappy (broad autism phenotype—it really is a spectrum!) folks ourselves, if not skirting over into autism itself. When we see ourselves in our children, if we have accepted ourselves and our issues, we have no choice but to mirror that with our children, to see them, issues and all, and to love them completely.

Yes, there are serious issues that parents of autistic children face; serious issues that autistics face, as well. Denying these struggles does no one, autistic individuals included, any good. Not every child will overcome the obstacles the world and their neurologies present them. All the acceptance and appreciation in the world will not take a severely impaired child with accompanying medical problems or cognitive impairments and render them independent adults. Not facing that is a tremendous disservice. It ignores the reality that my mother faces each day at her work as a nurse at the assisted living center, that my husband saw every day for two years when he worked as direct care staff there. It denies those individuals their reality, if we assert that there is some potential gone untapped if only someone had tried harder. Accepting people as valuable members of society for who they are means accepting their realities, their neurologies and issues. And then busting our asses to make sure that those who need 24 hour care get the very best care there is, that they are respected, protected and allowed as much autonomy as they are capable of.

There are real questions about how parents balance the need to protect their children from bullies and the harsher realities while still promoting autonomy. How do they display sensitivity to the integral part that autism plays in the child's identity while acknowledging that not everything about a person is due to autism? How do autistic adults provide feedback to parents to guide them so that the decisions parents make are made with an eye to the future self their child will be, so that harm is minimized?

I think it’s very unfortunate in a piece that could have focused on many things that instead there is a focus on the mother’s job; it’s even more a shame that her reference to college students working with her son is taken in such a way that it’s asserted to be a waste of time for all involved. There’s a dearth of information in the post itself that makes that an unjustified leap, and it’s a reversal of the refrigerator mother theory to assert, as Clay has that: “Little did she know that if she only had the right attitude, and the right information, she could have made the biggest difference in his life, could have helped him to achieve his full potential. But she had an important job, at a Supermarket Company!”

We have no way to know what particular evolutions the mother’s attitude or information have gone through, no way to assess whether she went to the woo side, and none to think if that she hadn’t worked, if she’d focused all her attention on her son, with just the right attitude, that he’d be at his full potential. In fact, we have no way to know that he hasn’t functioned as well as could be helped. And I would argue that making sure a child has IEPs in place and appropriate speech, OT, and PT are not an indicator of low expectations at all. They may very well signal high hopes and expectations that with the right accommodations, he could achieve his best.

Before Bobby was homeschooled after his stroke at age 9, I was in the school with him many days, working hard to help him get the accommodation and assistance he needed. After his stroke, I was with him all the time, providing all the attention and assistance possible. I assure you, if a mother’s undivided attention and the right attitude were all it took to make an individual fully capable of independence, my bright boy would have had it.

This assertion that it is her attitude, her job, that stood in the way is a huge slam to parents who love their children just as they are, accept that autism is a fundamental part of their neurology and only want the best for them, so work to help them understand the world while working to make the world understand them.

Be disappointed that some sixteen years ago, a mother wasn’t prepared for autism but do not condemn her now when she so clearly embraces her son and the integral part that autism plays in his life. Be disappointed that still parents enter into a diagnosis with inadequate resources, information, and support. Be disappointed that autism is still cast by many as teh ebeel that steals them away, that leaves emptiness behind. Be good and angry that there are organizations that foster these ideas, but give a mom who has evolved to see her son as happy and enthusiastic and who hopes for the best for him a break, or at least acknowledge that she's not where she once was.

If we are not free to admit where we once were and how we have grown as our children have taught us to see the world differently, then how will we move towards changing the world and making it a better place for all people, regardless of their issues? Admitting our mistakes and learning from them is a vital part of growth and development.


kathleen said...

Well said Kim. Parenting ANY child is a lifelong journey. It is the hardest thing I have ever done-and also the most wonderful. Autism has nothing to do with that. I look at where I was 11 years ago and how much I have changed and grown-because of these 4 incredible people. I would move heaven and earth if I could for them.
I think back to when we were new to diagnosis-how much I didn't know..the mistakes I have made..where I was then and where I am now are two totally different places.
I don't know what the future holds for any of my kids. I don't know if they all will be able to live independently. I don't know. I do know that I will continue helping them to grow and develop, and achieve all that they can having a life filled with joy and surrounded by love and good people. I will continue to try and change the world,to push for acceptance and inclusion and services. It upsets me to think though that I might somehow be looked upon as "less" or as not having done all that I could if any of my kids can't live independent lives. I hate to think that there would be yet another divide...

Sadderbutwisergirl said...

"While the Peter Pan imagery may offend some, this mother’s love and acceptance now of her son is apparent: 'Robby is a happy, silly, fun-loving boy.'"
That quote may sound good on the surface, but it actually boils down to another example of the "Peter Pan" type of thinking. I realize that you're a parent with autistic children and agree that parents of autistic children deserve respect. However, for autistic people, being recognized as and treated as accorded to human beings of our respective chronological ages is a big issue. When I have disclosed my autism diagnosis, some people started treating me like I was much younger than my chronological age upon the disclosure. Some people have justified the denial of sexual education to autistic people by saying that they only had the skills in those areas matching someone younger than they were. In the cases of some autistic people, if a parent wants to deny them the oppurtunity to drive or make it so that xe has legal guardianship over their child past the age of 18, the action is considered more understandable/socially acceptable than if hir child was not autistic. Thus, statements like the Peter Pan one and the quote that you tried to use to refute it, describing autistic adults using terms more befitting children, are problematic for us.

Clay said...

@ KWombles - As I would have (or will) argue on your blog that one thing you didn't seem to notice was:

Mrs Houghton writes:
"Robby entered a typical kindergarten class with a great one-on-one aide/college student, Michelle Murray, who today, is a wonderful teacher herself.

While he needed Michelle for social interactions, his academic skills (ABC's, numbers, and especially coloring!) were actually better than his peers. But that changed the very next year and from then on Robby became fully engulfed in the world of individual education plans (IEP's), speech, occupational therapy, adaptive PE and special needs classrooms."

Who's to say what if this wonderful Michelle hadn't graduated, or gotten married, whatever, had been able to stay with Robby for 2 or 3 years? They happened to get one good aide to help him, and the others were studies in mediocrity. There are some who are more effective, and the reason for that is because they have the right attitude for it.

I hope that Mrs. Houghton googles her way over here, and reads what we've said. It might not be too late.

":-) We good? ((()))"

Heh! The way I see it, Ms Wombles just got Wombled! (Or Adamsed, or something). ;-)

kathleen said...

My last sentence must have been cut off..I said that I loathe the thought that any of my children would be viewed as having had failed to reach their potential because they didn't live independently.
SBWG I am sorry for the experience you have had in regards to your own sexuality. That is awful. However, I look at what she said this way..from my own perspective/point of view..sexuality happens-it just does..Now, I can only speak from the experience of seeing my oldest two (the younger ones arent aware yet)We do our best to teach them what they are ready to learn..That being said..they will always be my babies. Actually, all of my kids will always be my babies. When I am an old woman and they are full grown adults..I will always see them as my babies. Autism has nothing to do with that.
Clay, I didn't understand that statement from the mom..It didn't make sense to me. It seemed to me that she was saying that the school didn't have inclusive classrooms..that the education that was offered to him consisted of mainly speech, o.t. and p.t. As I said I don't quite understand what she was saying. I also don't understand how from that statement you can surmise that she somehow stopped her son from developing further. You also say that you hope the author comes over and reads what we've said-further suggesting it might not be too late. So I ask you-too late for what?..what does that mean? Honest question.

KWombles said...

@SBWG, Yes, it is. I've seen people's way of treating my son change when the diagnosis is disclosed. He needs some accommodation, but not the degree that some go to, and we find that frustrating. That's a problem of educating the public, and that often includes medical professionals, as well.

I think that there can be a tendency to read into pieces things that the author intended. We don't know enough about this situation to know whether the mother has denied her son age-appropriate activities or information. We know from the piece that he loves Cinderella and that she knows she needs to move him towards age-appropriate activities.

Denying autistic individuals the rights and abilities to have access to information and to engage in activities they are capable of is wrong. But, it's just as wrong to push activities that are not appropriate for the individual. Placing my son behind the wheel of a car when he can't even safely ride a bike down the road would be the height of irresponsibility on my point. Making sure he has a thorough education relating to his body and sex so that if he ever has a sexual relationship he goes into it with the information he needs is my job.

Not all parents find the right balance. Not all caregivers do. And sometimes, even when we are trying our best, we fail and have to adjust our approach.

KWombles said...


"Who's to say what if this wonderful Michelle hadn't graduated, or gotten married, whatever, had been able to stay with Robby for 2 or 3 years? They happened to get one good aide to help him, and the others were studies in mediocrity. There are some who are more effective, and the reason for that is because they have the right attitude for it."

First, you emphasized that if the mother had the right attitude and hadn't had the job, her son would have reached his potential. Now you're suggesting that it's this one aide's fault, since she left, and it was all down hill from there.

It's an unfair burden you're placing and one no one from reading the brief post can actually know. We don't know that the educational setting was sub-par; we only know that with the aide in kindergarten, he was doing well and at grade level. We don't know who he had for aides; we have almost no details and therefore no way to reliably speculate.

After that, we do know that his developmental delay grew more and more apparent, as it does in many cases. It's one of the reasons that asperger's is diagnosed later than autism; it takes longer for the lags to become readily apparent to even the casual observer.

Because we don't know anything about this young man except what the mother relates, and it's such a brief portrait, it is unfair to assume what potential treatments she did or didn't do, what the quality of educational settings were over time, and whether if only someone had tried harder, he'd be farther along. We can not assess what his potential is, nor how any hypotheticals prevented him from reaching it.

At 18, this young man's frontal cortex still isn't fully myelinated. His potential to learn and grow is far from over. Even Temple Grandin has acknowledged that each decade has brought her new skills, new growth. We don't, as previously thought, reach our cognitive peak before our 40s; recent research suggests that in fact, that may not happen until the 40s through the 60s. Even where our processing speeds slow down and our ability to learn new material decreases, our willingness to grow in wisdom does not.

farmwifetwo said...

Ah yes, the "blame the parent" or "blame the support" problem. Personally, I carry enough "coulda, woulda, shoulda" parental guilt around that the Clay's of the world don't even put a dent in it.

No... I'm the one that is still dealing with the fallout of the fact there was no aide in my son's class on Fri. I only found out b/c the OT - who comes every couple of weeks - ratted.. Unfortunately it was at 8pm at the Children's Program our kids (yes, the full ASD one goes too and no support b/c it's friends of ours that run it and they are amazing people). Had it been earlier in the day the "shhhiiiittttt" would have hit the perverbial fan.

I'm lucky that there is suffient funding in Ontario that I can stay home. I "after" school as well. My eldest who was non-verbal at 3, is now "normal" (less some LD's and some social skills that will improve with age) at 10. The school had little to do with it. Little boy... I'm putting into spec ed... I have no choice.... Yet, he too is learning, but they are starting to ignore him.

It's a long road. I don't think it's "ok" for a person of any dx to not become independant. To be able to live their own life as they choose to, not as strangers dictate.

But at the same time... Clay and others need to remember...

A Caregiver's Bill of Rights (Author Unknown)

I have the right:

To take care of myself. This is not an act of selfishness. It will give me the capability of taking better care of my relative.

To seek help from others even though my relative may object. I recognize the limits of my own endurance and strength.

To maintain facets of my own life that do not include the person I care for, just as I would if he or she were healthy. I know that I do everything I reasonably can for this person and I have the right to do some things just for myself.

To get angry, be depressed and express other difficult feelings occasionally.

To reject any attempt by my relative (either conscious or unconscious) to manipulate me through guilt, anger or depression.

To receive consideration, affection, forgiveness and acceptance for what I do from my beloved one for as long as I offer these qualities in return.

To take pride in what I am accomplishing and to applaud the courage it has sometimes taken to meet the needs of my relative.

To protect my individuality and my right to make a life for myself that will sustain me in the time when my relative no longer needs my full-time help.

To expect and demand that as new strides are made in finding resources to aid physically and mentally impaired persons in our country, similar strides will be made toward aiding and supporting caregivers.

farmwifetwo said...

SBWG - life sucks, it truly does. We meet people all the time that should be doing the best for us and for our children and they don't. I can give you a list of the one's that have screwed us over and my eldest is only 10.

I won't appologize for what someone else did.

But don't "tare the everyone with the same brush" as the saying goes.

Most truly try their best and when I get those that think they know better... I tell them exactly what I think... I didn't use to... It's hard to do the first few times... But it's worth it in the end.

If I didn't.. Eldest would still be without OT... and little boy would be stuck in that school until Gr 8... Instead we're moving him out to a place when they actually give a damn.

Clay said...

@ Kathleen, who asked, "Too late for what?"

I'm not really sure, but it's likely that it's still possible for someone to connect with him in a way that helps and motivates him to "grow up" a bit. I was exactly his age when it happened to me.

@ Kim - I'm not blaming the aide, Michelle. Whatever circumstances took her out of the picture were not her fault. I'm saying the mother and his teachers should have observed how she was able to relate to him. If you saw the last episode of "Parenthood", you'd have seen how a well-trained professional was able to get appropriate responses from "Max", while the mother looked on in wonder.

I agree, we can't know what "level" of potentiality anyone has, all we can do is not assume incompetence, and by doing so, encourage, rather than stifle real growth.

I think that's the crux of my "criticism" of Mrs H. I know, it's difficult to just know what to do, and there's a lot of misinformation out there. It's not like we come with special parenting handbooks.

KWombles said...


Thank you for visiting and sharing some of your experiences.


Yeah, I've caught some of Parenthood, and I did see that particular scene; it pretty much decided me against the show. The mom's attitude overall was troubling, and the idea that a perky therapist bribing the boy with a lizard would be enough to overcome the obstacles miraculously, followed by the conversation with the mom were unrealistic. Yes, finding a child's currency, as Dr. Phil would call it, is a good way to get short-term compliance, if you can find the currency. But, bribing the child with an actual animal without discussion with a parent and right off the bat is bound to backfire. Next time she wants him to go engage with a strange kid in the playground, the price might be much higher than a lizard. Social skills clubs with other children with similar issues is far more likely to work effectively and help a shy, socially awkward child feel safe enough to engage in social interaction. And very little would be needed as inducement.

The storyline involving autism could be handled in a more meaningful, helpful way to both the broader community and the parents and autistic individuals themselves.

On the idea that there might be something to induce individuals like the mother's son (and my bright boy, for that matter) to grow up some and leave behind childish interests, I know full well how the military can shape you and mold you. I also know how it can break people.

Not every individual with a disability, especially those with cognitive impairments, grow up and leave behind their love for children's things. Heck, not even us folks with no cognitive impairments do. :-) While we should work hard to foster autonomy (perhaps a better choice of words than independence), we should take care to respect the individual's autonomy and choice of interests.

For example, my son loves, loves, loves Yugioh, Bakugon, Pokemon, and Power Rangers. He and his best friend play with their action figures when they visit each other. Yes, I could take that away from him and insist he set it aside, and in doing so, I would be depriving him of his autonomy and disrepecting his personhood. That, and I'd have to give up my Farscape, BSG, Star Trek, and Star Wars toys. :-) Not frakking happening anytime soon.

Parents, if they are doing a good enough job, are promoting autonomy. They balance the child's need for assistance with the need to gain competency and autonomy. As the child grows, the parents fade their assistance. We do this, if we are good enough parents, for our children, regardless of their issues. :-)

One of the goals should be to help more parents be good enough parents.

Jannalou said...


I still read children's books and young adult novels. Because I like them. :) I also collect stuffed toys (they're all guinea pigs, which I'm sure is indicative of a whole other problem, but whatever). And I enjoy watching kids' cartoons and kids' TV shows when I'm with the two little girls I babysit every once in a while (typically developing, incredibly intelligent 7yo and her typically developing, incredibly imaginative 3yo sister). Oh, and I like to make crafts (the type you do with children as well as the knitting and crocheting and embroidery and sewing). I don't mind stating that I'm 33 years old.

In other words, I agree with you about putting away childish things. I think keeping our childhood interests is important, to some extent. Of course it's important to grow and expand on our interests, but maintaining them is also important.

Jannalou said...

Oh, I almost forgot...

Clay, based on the description of that episode of Parenthood, I'm glad I never bothered to give it a try (mostly just because I'm bad at realizing when shows are on and because my fiance isn't into "girl shows").

A behavioural therapist is not an instant fix for the problems that autistic individuals face every day. And you know that I know this first-hand. In addition to which, all strategies should be discussed with parents prior to implementation (sometimes this isn't possible, but unless it's an emergency there's not really an excuse), and professionals should never make parents feel like they don't know their own child.

Because I can pretty much guarantee you that the kid's parents know him better than a professional who just met him.

Clay said...

@ KWombles, who said:
"But, bribing the child with an actual animal without discussion with a parent and right off the bat is bound to backfire."

I see the difficulty with that sort of thing, but in this case, the boy already had at least one lizard, is set up to take care of it, and one more isn't that much of a problem. Your objection would be more valid if we were talking about her giving him a cat or dog as a reward.

"Not every individual with a disability, especially those with cognitive impairments, grow up and leave behind their love for children's things."

I remember shortly after I got out of the Navy - I was grocery shopping, and happened to see some Superman comic books in the magazine rack. After some internal struggles, I bought several, but hid that fact, not letting my wife see them. I used to love them, back when I was a neglected, malnourished young teen. I've only rarely bought them since, but mostly because they're no longer 10 cents, or even 25 cents.

@ Jannalou - What I want in a therapist is someone who recognizes a child's right to be him/herself, relates to the child on his/her level, and is able to kindle the spark of ability so that the child learns self-respect, instead of self-loathing.

Dawn said...

@Farmwife2: I agree with much of what you posted, but I disagree with one point: "I don't think it's "ok" for a person of any dx to not become independant."

Can you explain what you mean by that statement? Because medically, I know that there are those who, due to cognitive issues, will never become independent-living adults. While they should certainly be encouraged and educated to the best of their ability to learn, they may never learn enough to be independent living adults.

Kim certainly encourages her eldest to learn, to experience. But it sounds like, due to his mental issues, he will always need to live in a controlled environment with some oversight. That does not mean he needs to be babied. But it does mean he will always need help. He will not live independently.

KWombles said...


A therapist has no right to put into place a system of incentives involving long term care obligations without express approval of the parents.

In fact, what the therapist intends to do should be explicitly presented to the parents in advance, the parents should be provided information on how to duplicate the techniques at home so that there is consistency in how issues are addressed.

By your logic, since we have five cats, a therapist working with one of my children would have carte blanche to offer a sixth cat, because, really, what's one more? :-)

It misses the larger picture, as well. There needs to be clear communication between therapist and parents, there need to be clear behavioral goals; these need to be broken down into clear steps and a plan created to get from point a to point z. Any incentives should be established and agreed upon before hand, and use a schedule of intermittent reinforcement (different practitioners will have different preferences, and different behavioral therapists will, of course, have their own preference and will alter their plans according to the behavior being worked on).

Failing to clearly communicate with the parents and work in cooperation with them is not going to get anyone very far. Beyond that, not every family has access to a behavioral therapist (not talking ABA here, which many have no access to-- I'm talking a cognitive behavioral psychologist).

KWombles said...


Yes, that part of FW2's posts was troubling. I decided to read it as everyone should be able to be independent (wish state)and not an indictment of people's caregivers if they don't achieve independence.

Some people have tremendous barriers to achieving independence; my son is one of them. The clients my mother cares for certainly have even more severe impairments. The unfortunate reality is that there are individuals who need round-the-clock care; we need to make sure that they are cared for in a safe, pleasant environment where there is no risk of abuse and their autonomy is respected.

KWombles said...


:-) Sponge Bob can be engrossing, for one. I think that, yes, as long as we also continue to expand our interests, grow, have the ability to put down our games when it's time to do other things, there's no good reason to take the toys away. None at all, and only the potential for harm, unhappiness, and resentment. Not gonna happen in this house. Plus, the advantage is that, his love of toys has provided the opportunity for bonding with his sisters that he would not otherwise have had. They're all playing yugioh together this morning, allowing me a break. :-)

Clay said...

@ KWombles - I guess that will teach me to try to defend a TV show! ;-)

I've said elsewhere that unless or until they make Max wear a helmet and a leash, the divine Lauren Graham goes a long way to covering up any problems I have with it. To me, the show is a lot better than I had expected it to be.

I know nothing of Yugioh, Bakugon, Pokemon, or Power Rangers, but I bought my client a CD player and a complete collection of Pinky and the Brain CDs one Christmas. We had enjoyed watching them together, and I happened to find the collection on eBay.

Narf! >poit< Chaws. Natch.