Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas travels

It is nerve racking for the majority of us. For those with sensitivities it can be torturous. I fully expected that Connor would sleep his way through the hour and a half drive to my father's house and then hide in a bedroom the whole visit. Which is OK if that's what he needs to do.

To my delight however he didn't. He named cows, horses and various other things the whole way there and stayed out in the crowd playing with toys and the other children while we were there. The fact that he has discovered those pretty little wrapped packages contain toys has helped bring him out. The presents are where the people are and he can tolerate them for presents.

While I color a pretty picture of a well modulated boy breaking through and being a perfect angel, as with most toddlers this is not the case at all. He still had troubled bringing himself down to a regulated state anytime he was disappointed (mainly if told he couldn't have something). I am also afraid that this is made worst by a mother that still despite all well intentions is not quite grasping the situation until it is over and then smacking herself on the forehead.

The perfect example is the stop at the truck stop. My husband decides that since Connor seems to be in such a good mood he can go in the store with him. My daughters and I who sit in the car with scratches on arms and faces from this same delusional thinking, have our doubts about the outcome. However I talk myself in to believing that since he acts different for the two of us, he will be fine. I somehow, even though I know it not to be true, talked myself into believing that his outburst and tantrums were due to being spoiled and he wouldn't try to pull that on his Daddy.

After a moment or two of thinking this I hear crying and screaming and know that my son and husband have exited the store. I get out to see if I can help because I am sure he is on the ground at this point. Hubby has him picked up off the ground in a fireman's hold. He brings him to the car and wrestles him in with Connor making wildcat noises as he fights back. He would much rather lie in the parking lot, cars be damned! When he is in and is hiding his face behind my daughter (he likes dark enclosed places to come down) I notice my husband has a spot bleeding on his face.

Hind sight is 20/20. Writing about this I can see that Hubby handled the situation well even though he had a few minor outburst of his own. Looking back at it really lets me see how marriages become strained. Most couples I see or know of that have autistic children have a father working outside of the home and the mother being the main care taker. A snide inconsiderate remark from one, especially about if the meltdown is due to the child's condition, and tempers more than flare. Which makes any situation worse whether you are wrestling to keep a child safe or not.

I am happy to report that the flaming tempers were kept to a minimum however and after we talked about what was to blame for Connor's distress, we were fine. Later on our trip however I showed that my husband was more the visual learner than I when my daughter pipes up "Mom, help get him off of me."
"How big are you? You can get him off."
My husband looks at me and laughs saying, "Well he kicked my ass and I weigh 250, she might have a little trouble."

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Thursday's Thirteen

13 things that we (he) have done this week.

1. Spelt "Pixar" while seeing the word on a car package. Yes, he spelt his first word! Or read the letters of the word...whatever it is good stuff.

2. Jumped on a huge trampoline in the mall while attached to some major bungee cords. He flew so high in the air and squealed causing many of the adults nearby to stop and "Ohh" and "Awh". To be fair though, I think we had already grabbed their attention while flailing, crawling, and screaming around the kiosks.

3. Painted Popsicle sticks for an ornament made at school a bright red and came home looking like an accident victim.

4. Discovered while scaling the microwave cart, that the top of the refrigerator was an easy next step.

5. Only got ready for school at mention of seeing a certain little girl, and then the certain little girl told on him to his Mommy about going out in the hall by himself. She says that he was probably looking for me.

6. Decorated a gingerbread woman. It is definitely a woman due to the two strategically placed pom-pom balls.

7. Fell in love with the "Land Before Time" movie and has temporarily forgotten about "Cars".

8. He has started to put his hands together during prayer before dinner and starts to sing "Away in a manger" instead of saying the prayer.

9. Has randomly started saying "HAHA you so funny bunny!"

10. Has proven to me that he isn't quite so easily portable as I thought. Results of the x-ray is pending.

11. Has started naming his dinosaurs after the characters in the "Land Before Time" movie and acting out the scenes with them, complete with "Awh! Sharptooth! Run!".

12. Tolerates consumption of raw spinach calling it "Tree stars".

13. For the first year ever he is labeling and singing about; Christmas tree, snowman, reindeer, Santa Claus, and stars.

You know, just the normal being his amazing self.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Show and tell


This is my oldest daughter's. The darker portion is from a magazine, she drew the rest. It was showcased at the winter festival of her highschool last night before she and the rest of the school's orchestra played. She is multi-talented beyond belief!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Thoughts for Thursday

1st. My life has recently taken a weird turn. I know this when my son's aide at school tells me, "Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you. Connor tried to jump out the window yesterday."

No worries the whole school only has one floor and the aide is so dedicated I believe she would have went out the window after him.


2nd. The first grade teachers at my son's school are having a bad week. I know this because I over heard one tell the other, "Excuse me, but I need to go chew up a few valiums now."

It was only Monday morning, wait till she has my son in her class, hehe!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

7 more things

Another one of my favorite bloggers, Jade at The Mixed Up Thoughts of a Jaded Soul has tagged me to tell 7 more things about myself. She assures all that she has tagged that it is bad luck not to follow through, so.....

1. Unlike Bill Clinton, I will admit that I did in fact inhale. The result was after one inhale I was extremely paranoid. My friends were quite happy when I announced that it was not something I enjoyed.

2. The people that were involved in my upbringing would have had it that I would be racist and very closed minded. Thank God for rebellion.

3. I was raised Catholic mostly, except for when my father had visitations, then I was baptist.

4. I have a sister and a brother born the same year, four months apart. I share the same Mother with one and the same father with the other. I was told I had another sister when I was in 6th grade, she was taken from her mother not long after. I now also have a step sister and brother from my father's 4th marriage.

5. "When bad things happen we have to pick ourselves up and keep going. Especially us women we have to do what is best for our families." These is the motto I live by. I often hear the sweet southern voice I heard it from in my head saying it over and over. The woman who said this has had several stillbirths due to being RH-, had lost the 3 men that she had loved, is adored by all, and turned 81 this past August. I am proud to call her my Grandmother.

6. Owing to the fact that I quit my job to be at home with my son, I have no medical insurance. This led to my sister having to triage me yesterday before seeing a nurse practitioner. She was very professional about it and said she was fine as long as there was no pelvic exam involved. We are of one mind, thanks Sis!

7. My mother does ludicrous things that drive me absolutely insane, and then I feel guilty about being aggravated with her and avoiding her phone calls.

Now I will tag my victims to tell 7 things about themselves.

1) The Kimbrough Family
2) Identity Crisis uh huh I tag you back!
3) Crystal Jigsaw
4) Down River Drivel

I wont go for the full 7 as most that I would tag have already been tagged.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Annie get your guns!

I have embarked on a new mission. The "Be strong and stick to your guns" mission. My children have left soft spots on my heart and Connor's, because I am afraid of the big bad world mistreating and taking advantage of him, has left a spot that resembles a bruised and rotten peach. Using enforcement to get him to say "Want" or "I want" when asking for something has not been hard for me. The thing that has been hard is the cutoff point.

When first trying to needle speech of any form out of him I heard over and over if they ask for it, give it to them. If he asks for cookies and says the word give him the whole thing, jump up and down, make a big fuss. Make saying the words rewarding. I did and he said more and more. Then we added "Want" word or sign, and then "I want". Every time rewarding, encouraging more communication.

A trip to the store rarely ends with out Connor getting something. Even when faced with the big expensive toys, his sisters would up their allowance to stop the crying and screaming. He spotted the fire engine from the Cars Movie, "Life would be a dream." he calls him, because that's the song that plays in the movie. We stop and look at the toy. Connor picks it up and admires it from every end. After a while I tell him we are going to put it back and say goodbye. "NO! MINE!" and tantrum from hell begins. Big tears splash down his face as he scrolls through all of his asking for signs and words. Obviously we are stupid and don't understand what he is saying, because despite him getting louder and repeating his pleas we are putting it back and leaving the toy area.

"Life would be a dream, where are you?" he cries and his sister can't take it any longer.
"Mama can we get it if I give you my allowance? She asks as she is now on the verge of tears. We leave with the fire engine in tow.

The latest trip to the store for a quick dash in and out, he gets his sister to take him to see the fish. I grab what I need and head back over to the pet department to find them not there. I start to panic a bit as I envision Connor somewhere laying on the floor and Grace trying desperately to get him to cooperate, when I hear "Mine!". He had forewent the fish and led her straight to the toys. He is now carrying a box through the store a tad bigger than him. The Cars Movie people strike again with a huge Mac that opens in to 3 different types of tracks. Mac talks and comes with cars, he is Connor's dream come true.

The problem with this is it is so close to Christmas and this is one of the items on Santa's list. Not to mention that it is expensive and would kill the mission and cause the downward spiral down a very slippery slope. I am wondering now how do you go from "Want" to "I want" to "Get a job, learn the value of a dollar, and buy it yourself."

It took a lot of patience and muscle power to keep him from falling out on the floor and hurting himself, but slowly we left the toy at the store. I told him what good asking he had done, which I am afraid fell on deaf ears. The meltdown that followed only lasted roughly an hour and ended with Connor falling asleep in exhaustion.

Other peoples' children

Use to be that I didn't like other people's children. The children I did like or love were of course my own, my sister's, my friend's, and maybe some of the neighborhood children. Though most of the neighborhood children didn't make the cut.

Other people's children were rude, spoiled, and annoying. Our neighbor's children were a direct influence on this as they were let to go wild. The boy would walk across our yard to demand cups of water and Popsicles from my husband, to which Hubby would tell him to take his butt home and get it himself. The teen aged girl I had to tell off more than once for talking to my elementary aged daughter like she didn't have any sense.

I realize the fault was not the children's but of the parents and maybe mine as well as I have little patience. Connor however has made that different. Because of Connor I have learned tolerance and patience, although reluctantly. Being an overprotective mother has reached new heights and because of that I am thrown into the midst of other peoples' children for the well being of my son.

At the beginning of our school experience I felt a little guilty about being overprotective as I would watch parent after parent come into the class and drop off their child and I would leave 15 to 20 minutes later. I would tell myself, So what I am helping him adjust! It was true but part was not wanting to leave him.

We have since seen 2 aides come and go because they can not cope with so many of other peoples' children and they have no incentive to do so. So I stay longer and longer and help with other children and pair myself with them so they will be more willing to play with me and more importantly Connor. I make great animals noises and sing all the songs. I tell them how great they are and laugh with them. The rewards are wonderful. The kids want to be near Connor, the mother hens of the group want to help him, and to my great surprise, when my little guy is too busy to tell me good-bye and give me a hug, ten other little ones come and do it for him.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

7 Things

One of my favorite people, Suzy over at Identity Crisis has tagged me to tell seven things about myself. So presuming these things should be at least mildly interesting I may have some trouble but here goes.

1. My favorite show of all time is a tie between Big Bang Theory and The Andy Griffith Show. I know rather random isn't it.

2. I sent off my application to join the Marines when I was in the 8th grade. They sent me a nice letter telling me to reapply in a few years with an iron-on logo.

3. When I am upset or worried I clean or make improvements on my house. The night before my sister gave birth to my first niece (prematurely) I wallpapered my kitchen.

4. I used to be able to drink my husband and his friends under the table. I have since had children and grew up, now two beers and I am searching for the nearest pillow.

5. I was named Dortha because my mother liked the name after seeing it on my paternal grandmother's headstone. They had misspelled Dorothy.

6. I had a dream when I was a child that I was playing at a boy's house and he bit me. The parents didn't do anything about it and it turned out they were aliens. I escaped from the house that was in the middle of a car scrap yard, and as I was running from it I caused a domino effect of falling cars. Have no idea what it meant but I have never been able to forget it.

7. Of all the things I have taught my children, including all the curse words they know :(, I am proud that they enjoy laying with their heads under the Christmas tree imagining miniatures of themselves walking the branches. It will keep them young at heart for a very very long time.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Acceptance in the Community

She is a small framed lady, but the kind you suspect could kick some butt if need be. The lines on her face show her age, even though she has long bleach blond hair styled like a teenager. She runs a convenience store on the far side of our neighborhood. One of those places where things cost two or three times what they would in a grocery store merely because of the convenience of running in and grabbing it quickly and the ability to get your gas at the same time if you wish. A place where they keep the flimsy attractive kids' toys on display right at the front door where hard to manage children can't miss them.

She adores Connor. If I go into the store and leave Connor in the car with his sisters, she will come out to see him. He smiles every time he sees her because he knows that she is so happy to see him. I had explained to her last spring that he has autism and may not answer questions for her like typical children his age and to my disappointment she seemed distant the next time we went in. I guess we all have bad days and I chalk it up to such as she has been her normal loving self since.

This morning when we stopped by to get a juice for Connor's lunch she met us at the door arms opened wide and a big smile on her face. "Connor! How's my little buddy? I'm gonna get all your huggings.". She squeezes him and he smiles and giggles. He shows her how great the toy display is with "Ohhs" and "Ahhs", then we grab a juice and make our way back up to the cash register.

She is slow ringing us up and is looking every which way for something. Finally she stops "I had a little toy up here waiting for Connor and now they've gone and done something with it."
"That's OK, he's on his way to school and would probably lose it in class."
She continues to look around and points to a marshmallow, chocolate covered treat and asks "Can he have one of these?" She frowns a little as she asks, my face must have gave me away.
"Oh you don't want him to have that do ya?" she says.
"Well not really. If he wasn't on his way to school it would be OK, but I'm afraid he would be covered with it by the time we got there."

As we leave she still makes a fuss over him even though there are customers waiting. Her making a fuss on him has an effect on those waiting however and they can't help themselves from smiling at him and waving or saying "Hi little guy!"

It seems funny to me that adults are still so prone to peer pressure. What she does makes it OK for other adults that see it to do the same. What she does is so important, she promotes acceptance of him in our community.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Occupational Hazards Part II

"Pizza? Pizza? Pizza?". We had left the OT's office and Connor's stomach has decided that it's needs pizza, so I hear him ask over and over.
"OK, honey. We'll stop and get some pizza." I decide we will brave the grocery and get a couple of the self sizes because there are a couple of other things I need.

He has to ride the horse and fire engine at the front of the store first and then pick his own cart. Sometimes he likes the car shaped carts and sometimes he likes the one with the big blue seats added on the front. Today he picks the big blue one and when I try to strap him in I realize the strap in broke. I look around for another one and decide to just go with what we have as I am being told off by a total stranger's toddler for taking the cart they just replaced.

"Hey, that's our cart!" she yells at me.
"I'm so sorry. I thought you were finished with it." I apoligize.
"We are she is just being cranky and hateful." her Dad explains. I knew that was the case and all the while I am stuffing the end of the innertube still around his waist into the cart and heading in the door.

He does his usual labeling of everything as he searches and takes it all in. After a few minutes he realizes he is not strapped in and ventures to stand on the little foot sized lip of the seats, putting the handle of the cart at chin level. He is content to ride but occasionaly checks back to see if I am going to scold him. I smile at him, grateful that he is enjoying himself and that I am allowing it. Not so long ago this would have escalated into a scene simular to a prison escape. Prisoner running, not knowing where to just away and tired wore out warden following behind the best they can to recapture.

In the frozen food aisle we both dare to take it a little further. He steps down off the lip to walk beside the cart. I watch and discover as the the strap of innertube pulls he comes along easily. This freedom is new to him and he scans the store as if he had never seen it, often running into the side of the cart.

We have since tried it again with them same great results. We do get looks from people, but they are mixed. Parents our own age look unsure, while older people smile. I remember my mom telling about her father tying a rope around her waist and tying the other end around himself. I guess maybe this was the norm back then for those who had trouble keeping their children by their sides.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Big Bang Theory

Part II of Occupational Hazards will be up tomorrow. In the meantime I was wondering who else has seen the sitcom The Big Bang Theory.

One of the main characters, Sheldon, has to at least be mildly autistic. He is upset by eating hamburgers other than at Big Boy. He can not stand for a routine to be messed around with. Sneaks into a neighbors apartment to clean and organize it. He even has to go as far as cancelling his membership to the planetarium because there are only eight slots in his wallet. It was a tie between the planetarium or the museum of natural history, the planetarium doesn't have dinosaurs.

The thing that closed the deal for me was when he unwittingly stole his friend's date. He didn't understand that what he did was wrong. When asked if he would see her again, he looked very confused when answering that she is a dentist and he already had a dentist.

The show comes on tonight at 8:30 ET on CBS. I would be interested in what others think.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Occupational Hazzards Part I

My OT is full of ideas to help us. Even though it is her fault that we have to wait in the waiting room an extra 15 minutes on average and Connor loses patience, she tries to give me tools to help the situation. It had been suggested before that I get one of the cute little backpacks shaped like an animal. They clamp shut in the front and the parent can hang on to the "tail" to stop the child from wandering off or in our case just flat out fleeing the area.

The problems we happened upon were great with this contraption. My son is big for his age and out grew the pack quickly, but not before his strength caused the tail to be ripped off almost completely. The stroller was a no go, he is too tall and can stop and redirect it with his foot. I could have bought a bigger and better one, but wheeling this boy around for a good long time was not the way I wanted to go if I could help it.

The OT suggested to get a bicycle innertube and cut it, tie one end around his waist in a square knot so it doesn't tighten too much around him and hold on too the other end. So during one of our many trips to the bicycle department I pick up an innertube. The next time we had an appointment with her I wait till we get to the parking lot to loop it through his belt loops, and we walk together into the building. It didn't go perfect, but it went well. There was sometime spent on the floor but that was ok, there was no chasing.

She was almost on time that day and as we walked back down the hall I reported on the week's assignments. Brushing every two hours with joint compressions and mouth swipes. The mouth swipes consisted of taking my finger and running it along behind his front teeth where the gums meet up with them five times with the amount of pressure you would apply eyeshadow, followed with compressions on the lower jaw with two fingers pressing down behind his back teeth. I was sure I was going to lose a finger or two, or have to have one stitched up at the very least. We had also started "Ease 4", a new CD in the listening therapy.

I reported that I hadn't lost any fingers and that he seemed to enjoy all of it except for the occasional resistance to the brush on his hands. I told her of progress made during the week as she sat at a child's table writing everything down. As I take the innertube out of Connor's belt loops she stops writing and looks up at me smiling, "Do you know how many people I have told to try that?"
"No."
"Well it has been alot, and do you know how many people I have seen try it?"
"How many?"
"Well, counting you. One."

I stop at that and think why none of her clients before me had tried it. Surely if they are clients of her's they are used to having people look at them as if they have extra heads. Was there something extra wrong with it that I wasn't seeing? I then I remember how she brought it up to me. What you can do is go to a bicycle shop and get an old innertube from their dumpster.

"You know it was only $2.50 at the store." I offer
"But if you go to the bicycle shop their free and it would be recycling."
"Good point, but I think the idea of having to climb in a dumpster to try something might scare people off."

Friday, November 16, 2007

Making friends

Every morning when I take him to school, after we make the five minute trip down the hallway, I linger in the classroom for awhile. Connor and I seem to be part of the "early club" along with a little girl with Down's Syndrome and her Mom, the twin boys that wear hearing aides and their dad, and the little girl who has just arrived in America with her family and learning English.

At first being in the same room with other children only awoke his need to claim what was his and remove it from peer infested areas. When the twins started showing interest in what I was doing when playing with Connor and responding with "I love you too." or "Bye Mom." when telling Connor goodbye, I became one of the items he needed to claim. This forced him to recognize that he was not the soul person in the class. He had to make eye contact to glare and give sidelong looks as he pulled me in the other direction.

There is a poster of different animals in his class that shows his favorite, the elephant, and he makes a point to show me so we can clap our hands to the syllables as we sing "El-e-phant, el-e-phant, eh, eh, eh." The sound of my elephant noise, which is very good, draws the twins over. They want to sing and label and hear the elephant noise again and after Connor takes my hand and makes sure I only have eyes for him, he allows it.

The day following when the twins come in to the classroom Connor is ready to show them that he has found even another elephant in the room. "Elephant? Elephant?" he says and pulls one of their little hands to place on the picture. The one shows interest and is rewarded with Connor taking the boy's hand and putting it up to his face and squeezing so hard I can see the back of Connor's head shaking. The DI and I know right away that this says "I am so glad to see you, buddy!" the little boy however doesn't know this and turns to me with a look that says "What the hell did he just do to me."

"That means he is glad to see you." I offer.
"Oh" and the little boy continues playing after finding out that he wasn't really assaulted.

I am beside myself that he has shown interest in making friends and interacting and then I am hit with a second surprise, his aide tells me that Connor no longer walks to lunch holding a teacher's hand. He now has a friend that he holds hands with and walks to lunch with her. I had never met of this little girl as she arrives on the bus. She is normally developing.

I get to see this phenomena that very afternoon as I watch the children walking toward the front doors to be released. I pick out where the teachers are and then look at the child they are leading. None of them are mine. Not to be fooled again, I assume he has pilfered another armload of toys, shame on me. Near the end of the line I see them, Connor and M. They are holding hands and walking with the rest of the class. I see him notice different things as they walk and M gives gentle tugs and pats to keep him in line.

As he sees me his eyes widen as much as his smile and he runs through the doors to me. I pick him up and carry him to the car asking him if he had a good day. I'm happy to report that I actually made it out of the parking lot before my eyes started leaking.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Monday Morning Blues and Good Deeds that Burn

After consumption of one cup of coffee I take the eldest to school. I return to take the middle child after her clothes had finally dried. I return to wake Connor and spend a huge chunk of the morning wrestling to
............................................................
And that, gentle reader, was when my space bar gave out. It was really shaping up to be a top notch Monday.

Hubby and I both being low on gas in the vehicles went to the gas station together. He paid for gas for two pumps, a tall coffee, and a fruit juice in a sport bottle and then pumped my gas for me because he is my knight in t-shirt and blue jeans.

We tell each other goodbye, he heads over to pump his own gas and I start to make my way out of the parking lot when a man yells for my attention. "Ma'am! Ma'am!"

My window is half open so I hear him loud and clear. It is also because of how my window was opened that when I stopped the car and turned to see what was the matter, the trajectory was perfect for me to have a tall coffee spill from the roof of my car on to my lap, arms, steering wheel and hands.

The would be good doer is a few yards away but still reaches out as if to catch the coffee he wanted to tell me about. He did walk over and catch the empty cup and hand it to me all the while apologizing. I take the cup and yell for my hubby "Honey! You forgot your coffee." Laughing I assure the man I am fine.

Thankfully my knight is an impatient sort. The coffee had ice added to it so he could drink it right away. I could hear the man that tried to help me out mumbling to himself that he should have just let me go at least I wouldn't have had to wear it. A good point in theory, but what could have happened if coffee had spilt on me while braking in traffic?

There have been many times I have tried to help someone and wished later I had kept my mouth shut. The saying "No good deed goes unpunished." comes to mind. All in all I am glad for people like the stranger at the gas station, the ones who pipe up and say something in order to help someone else. Ideally I would have braked easier, got out and retrieved the coffee and went on my merry way and he would have had a mild sense of accomplishment. In reality he could have saved me from wrecking my car while hauling precious cargo. I wish I had told him that.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Remember when it rained?

Isn't it strange how a smell, taste or song can bring a rush of memories flooding back in your mind? So was the case with me this morning as I sat at a stop light, taking the kids to school. I had brought my coffee with me because I am weak and must have a caffeine infusion so early to stay awake. Waiting for the light to change I take a sip and although it was my normal cup o' joe with cream and sugar, for a split second I tasted a hint of orange cognac.

We boarded Sovereign of the Seas, Mother's Day 2002. Parker, our first son had passed away the previous September and our family was strained. I had quit my job, because I didn't want to get out of bed unless I had to for my girls or husband. I felt our girls had lost faith in us because we weren't able to keep their brother from dying and there for probably not capable of keeping them protected either. So what better to do than to take a big chunk of my 401k and put us all on a plane thousands of feet in the air and then get on a boat the size of a shopping mall for a week.

My husband and I had made this trip a few times before, but always in November when the weather was milder. The girls were excited, but scared. As the plane took off Melody did a chant of "Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!" with her eyes squeezed tight until we were up in the air. Once we arrived on the ship she was officially bored and pouting because I forgot to put the swim suits in the carry on so we had to wait on our luggage to be brought to our cabin. I should have realized then that she wasn't feeling well.

The next day at breakfast she barely had time to tell me she wasn't feeling very well before she was sick in the dining room. With a patch behind her ear, some pepto and crackers she was mending, but that night Gracie and I went to eat dinner together while Hubby and Melody stayed in the cabin and had room service. Even though we felt guilty we had fun and the servers fawned over us, showing us tricks with balancing silverware and folding napkins.

When Melody was well again and able to go to the kid program we were docked in Nassau. Hubby and I, seeing that they were having the time of their lives reluctantly went on shore to look around at all the shops. We were walking and holding hands when it started to rain. We didn't run to find shelter or curse our luck. Instead we looked at each other and laughed. We held our hands out and lifted our faces toward the sky and then kept walking. We happened upon a liquor shop with their french doors wide open, welcoming in tourist to have samples.

Hubby laughed at me when I attempted to say Grand Marnier and it sounded like Grand Mariner. I had never tasted it or heard of it before, but as I stood there soaked the liquid warmed me down to my sandals and broadened the smile on my face. We bought a bottle and went back out into the rain before going into a little hole in the wall coffee shop. He had espresso with Grand Marnier, I had a glass of Grand Marnier and a slice of rum cake. We sat in the little shop and talked, laughed, looked around at the natives, and stared at each other. When we were ready to head back to the ship we were both disappointed that the rain had stopped.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Halloween or Happy Birthday!

We were ready, Connor as Superman, Melody as a Fairy, and Grace as....well I'm not sure but she looked like a 1980's Madonna. As is tradition with us, my sister and nieces join us on our annual candy begging pilgrimage. The men can come if they like, but they can not be put in charge of how long the children get to be out. They are weak and give up too quick, leaving the poor dears with a pitiful amount of loot.

I was a tad nervous, I hadn't really prepared him. A short time ago a trip like this, that may cause confusion would have resulted in me carrying Superman or with him laying on the ground as if he had just been given cryptonite. After a house or two and kissing the neighbor's duck lawn ornament we heard "Hmmm" which we took to mean OK we go up to the door say "Trick or treat" they give me candy!

It went great with very few obstacles placed in the way. One was a giant television that showed a basketball game through the living room window. It stopped him dead in his tracks (as it would most males) and he yelled "Fooball!" Second obstacle was a jack-o-lantern. He tried to remove the top and blow out the candle, but once seeing the man who owned it he concluded the proper thing to say was "Happy Birthday!" in his growly Daddy voice. Obviously if there are candles about it has to be someones' birthday, right?

My sister, being the hell of a trooper she is, decided to talk her girls into telling the next person "Merry Christmas!" or "Happy Thanksgiving!". Then there was the older gentleman that decided he wasn't going to give Connor candy until he said "Trick o treat". Connor gave a "Tit or teat." and I didn't have to get smart with the poor man, who didn't know he was talking to a child with a speech delay.

There were a few social things I spotted that needed work. Such as we do not open other people's doors, but at 3 there is time. I will post pictures when a certain someone figures out how to get pictures off of the camera, or my memory card reader starts working again. Hopefully one or the other will happen soon.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Welcome to Kentucky


I have always thought that Kentucky was a beautiful place to live. The amount of green fields, forest, and streams are breath takingly gorgeous. Daniel Boone had once said that a squirrel could cross the entire state and never touch the ground due to the amount of trees. Fall truly shows off the beauty of the state with her colors, and this place in which I grew up turns in an enchanted forest.


Winter she takes a break from all her flashiness to be revived in spring with a burst of freshness to show off her tulips, grape hyacinths, and dogwoods. The Derby Festival begins and we show off the thoroughbred colts, those majestic animals that show our spirit. We start off the celebration with the worlds largest firework display, one that cost over $1 million. Our hometown corporations ban together and sponsor the event so that it just gets bigger and better every year. The ladies wear their grand hats while sipping mint julep's. The gentlemen sipping their bourbon. Both exhibiting our southern hospitality to visitors from far and wide.



I have lived here for 35 years and have always loved it and it had never really occurred to me that what I loved were the aesthetics not the underbelly of the beast. The deep parts of the good ol' boy politics that you don't get to see the ugliness of unless you need it on your side. As I sat with an agent that informed me that Connor was probably not severe enough for insurance to cover ABA, I was shocked. Well I was several things all at once; happy someone would say he wasn't severe enough for anything, enraged that there had to be a severity level for a proven treatment, and desperate that I might have reached another dead end.

"This is a last resort type thing. For those who are uncontrollable, the insurance wants to make sure you have tried everything else first." she informs me. He had showed too much cuteness, he didn't stay hidden or run and scream at the sound of her voice, he didn't lay in the floor crying and throwing a tantrum. I didn't look distraught or tired enough. He dared to look her in the eyes and smile at her! Grrr....Shape up and act like you have autism Connor!

I take a deep breath trying to grab a thought and wrestle it down. "So where are all the non last resort programs?" I ask. She looks at me with sad eyes and says "We are decades behind on autism treatments and the ABA around here is the watered down version. Their are no other programs to get you the treatment other then private funding. This is only in place for the time being because we can not get the state autism bill through yet."

I look at her in disbelief and shock and she replies, "Welcome to Kentucky."

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Balking against therapy

He had been doing this new treatment every morning and every evening. It had been producing mild improvements, or at least we think. It seems that he is a constant improvement in motion. Words he can not say today will be uttered tomorrow and things he can not do today will be done with ease in the near future.

Giving that I was unimpressed with the treatment, the therapist suggest to mix it up a little bit, intensify it a tad. So with all the instructions in hand this is exactly what I do. The rule is; It should last at least 20 minutes no matter what.

After his evening bath I thought would be a good time. Hopefully this will relax him and he will have a better sleep, and in turn so will I. The start was easy enough, six whole minutes he participated and then excitedly announced to all, waving his hands as a sign "All done! All done!"

I try to persuade extra minutes from him "Just a little bit more?" with terrible results. The situation was escalating and my commitment of 20 minutes was losing ground. His nervous struggling to get away was going to quickly become dangerous to me. The visions of a very short person climbing up my body, grabbing each ear and headbutting me into unconsciousness did not seem so far fetched.

I relent, I let it go. 10 minutes in and I cave. I let him run and hide in his bed and meet him in there with his choice of sour candy or a fruit leather, and a drink because these treatments always get his jaws working. It makes no sense to me that this should make his mouth react in this way, but there is so much I don't understand about my little guy just yet.

He chews through the fruit leather quickly, drinks his juice, and is out like a light in a matter of moments. I gather up my CD player and Godly awful expensive headphones, knowing that for now he is not quite ready for Mozart.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Family Bed and Infirmary

"Momma, I don't feel good." the middle child moans. I feel her head, normal, and ask her whats wrong. "Stomach." I send her to lay down in hopes that a little rest will help whatever ails her. When checking on her I see that the barrel bolt installed to deter her brother is not teen proof as she is laying in our bed.

Our room is not large. Aside from the king sized bed and bedside tables there is an armour that contains a television. There is no room for anything else. We have made our little section of the house cozy and warm, a retreat for ourselves. I think our children appreciate the effort being that is the spot they prefer to "hang out".

I am bathing Connor a short while later when I hear "Mom, can you come here?"
"What's wrong sweetie?" I yell from the bathroom.
"Mom, I need you now!"
I am now panicky and turn this way and that. I can't leave him in the tub by himself! My daughter needs me! "Melody can you come sit with your brother for a minute?"

Melody comes to my rescue and I run to my room to see what is so urgent. She is on her side in a fetal position on her Daddy's side of the bed. Her face is white and sweaty, a bowl of sick by her side. I take the bowl away and return with another receptacle, washcloths, and a glass of water. I place a cool washcloth on the back of her neck and try to persuade her to try some alka-seltzer. She is willing to try anything with her stomach hurting so bad, but she can't do it. The taste makes her gag although I only put in one tablet.

I return to the bathroom and get Connor dried off and dressed for bed. Finding my bedroom door is wide open he climbs in bed next to his sister and the oldest climbs in next to him. All three of them snuggle up in the bed and watch a movie together and I take the chance to dash off to the corner store to get some Pepto.

I am dressed in my nightshirt which I have tucked into a pair a sweats with a heavy jacket over top. My main objective is to get the medicine as quickly as possible and get back with out drawing any attention to myself. I place the bottle on the counter and am greeted by a cashier that has now decided to use me a exhibit A for her case "See I told you some stomach bug was going around!" she tells the other cashiers. Five minutes later of them recounting their symptoms and who else has been eating pepto tablets like candy with me holding my cash out to them to try and pay for the stuff I was finally able to get back home.

The fresh receptacle is quickly filled with the same bubblegum pink of the Pepto, so I decide to not medicate anymore and try to let it run it's course. A short while later she informs me she is going to her own bed and is looking like she has a bit more color to her face. The oldest then leaves the bedroom to take a shower and go to bed, leaving the boy in the room by himself.

I go in to see what as been left behind and see that Connor has taken his diaper off and has laid it on Daddy's side of the bed. It is wet and not suitable to touch his skin, which is a new development. I take the old one and come in to put a new one on. I give him a few minutes warning that we will soon be going to bed in our own room which causes him snuggle in even further. When the minutes are over I come back in to find him asleep, with yet another diaper wet and discarded. I grab another, put it on him and carry him to bed. Zipping up his sleeping bag that he has to have on his mattress, I am rewarded with a sleepy smile and a kiss before he folds his hands under his cheek.

I recount the events to their father as we turn in for the night.
"Why do they always want to be in our bed?"
"Because they find comfort in it." I explain.
He looks at me like I had just answered him in Greek. It comes to mind that I would never want to be in my mother's or any of my stepfathers' room and he probably felt the same about his dad and stepmother's room. Feeling that the subject may get too serious and I might never get any sleep I take an escape route. "Obviously we don't call them names or beat them enough."

Saturday, October 27, 2007

It's the great bumpkin Charlie Brown!

My husband got a call to check on a house today near the place he grew up. He had not seen the old neighborhood for a few years his parents had divorced and sold the place eight years ago. He was disappointed coming across the railroad tracks to see the little shops were dilapidated or gone as he started up the winding road to the top of the hill.

The years gone by have made him a less careless person and the winds and turns seem even more dangerous, the road more narrow. The new owners of the house where he had spent his adolescent years have kept the place up nicely to his relief. He decides to drive back a little further to see how else the neighborhood had changed when he see what at first looked like a farmer mooning him from the side of the road.



Slowing down and taking a closer look he realizes it is a scarecrow someone had cleverly constructed, both "cheeks" being pumpkins. Pulling over to the side of the road he starts to take a picture when an older woman tries to pull into the drive.

"I'm sorry, was just getting a picture. I'll move." he says
"Oh, did you get a picture?"
"Was just about to." he holds his camera up.
"No, honey there is a box right there with pictures in it. Go ahead and take ya one." she points out a white wooden box with a sign saying "Please take only one"

He steps up to it and opens it to have a giant spider pop out at him and scare him out of his skin. The older woman is cackling and then he hears a full hearty laugh coming from the farmer that had stopped in the middle of the field. Still sitting on his tractor, he had stopped to watch the joke played out on this unsuspecting stranger.

My husband being a good natured man couldn't help but laugh as well. That older couple had made his day, and he could tell that he made theirs.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

We are experiencing technical difficulties

Really we are. The broadband connection is giving me trouble due to needing what they call a booster. That should be remedied tomorrow, but until then I am on (of all things) dial up. Sorry if I haven't been round to read up on your site, but things on dial up take time and lots of it.

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Connor and I have continued the practice of using his toys to transition. With his hands full, I don't have to hold his hand going down the hall, and without the feel of a hand restraining him he does not crumple to the ground. Things go great getting out of the car, putting on the pack back, loading the boy down with toys (some were hidden before we left) and he walks straight to his classroom. Reminders to walk and not run have to be given, but not too often.

When we arrive there is another boy already in the room. I observe how Connor leaves his own toys behind and takes off with the barn and farm animals. The other little boy noticing the toys comes over to inspect, but Connor has noticed his movement towards them and comes running.

Even if he isn't playing with them it doesn't mean someone else can touch them. Nor can you play with the farm animals or the barn. Oh and even though you found that horse first, he will be confiscating it. The toddler's credo goes through my head.

If it's mine it's mine,

If it's yours it's mine,

If I want it it's mine...

Sharing has not become his strong point. I try to produce harmony and sharing or at least turn taking but it isn't happening. The teacher and the aide aren't much help as they seem to not notice. I draw Connor's attention to a giant book on an easel and he names the animals on the cover for me. Instead of retrieving what Connor has taken from him, little boy decides he wants to come over and name animals too. He plants himself in between Connor and I.

I watch to see Connor's reaction to this boy joining in. Connor steps in front of him moving in closer to me and glares at the boy out of the corner of his eyes. I pull Connor close to me and squeeze him and he takes off to play with farm animals. He leaves me and the boy to the book.


A few hours later I stand in front of the school watching him come down the hall, he spots me and we smile at each other until the aide bring him through the front doors. We hug and then I spot the aide, wide eyed looking at me. My stomach is momentarily in knots as I wonder which kid he stole a toy from or knocked down. "He um did REALLY well today!"
"He did?"
"Uh..yeah ...um...we were counting today." her eyes still wide.
"Oh yeah?"
"He counted pretty high. I mean he really got up there!"
"Yes, he counts alot." I explain as I sign the sign out sheet.
"I couldn't believe it, he just counted and counted."
"That's so good. He likes to do that. He knows all his letters too." I explain as I keep a hand on his shoulder to stop him from going to the car without me.
"I am so impressed!"
"You all didn't know he could count?" I ask as he tugs for me to follow.
"Well no. It's not in his IEP."

I found it curious that this is his second week and they have just got to counting, but there again there are only so many hours in half a day.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

99 Questions

Saw this over at Whitterer on Autism and thought it was some good fun.
99 questions if you are reading this you can consider yourself tagged if you like.

1. How old will you be in five years? 29 for the eleventh time
2. Who did you spend at least two hours with today? Kids
3. How tall are you? 5’5
4. What do you look forward to most in the next six weeks? My Daughters’ concerts
5. What's the last movie you saw? Memoirs of a Geisha
6. Who was the last person you called? Husband
7. Who was the last person to call you? Sister
8. What was the last text message you received? A “Happy Birthday” from my husband
9. Who was the last person to leave you a voicemail? My Mother
10. Do you prefer to call or text? Call
11. What were you doing at 12am last night? Sleeping
12. Are your parents married/separated/divorced? Divorced 30 years.
13. When is the last time you saw your mom? Sunday
14. What color are your eyes? Brown .
15. What time did you wake up today? 6:14 a.m.
16. What are you wearing right now? Tee Shirt and Jeans
17. What is your favorite Christmas song? it’s Christmas Time Pretty Baby by Elvis, because strippers need Christmas music too :D
18. Where is your favorite place to be? Coco Cay
19. Where is your least favourite place to be? Toy departments
20. Where would you go if you could go anywhere? Somewhere with sand, sun, palm trees, and a frozen Bahama Mama
21. Where do you think you'll be in 10 years? Somewhere cheering on my kids or husband.
22. Do you tan or burn? Freckle and blister
23. What did you fear was going to get you at night as a child? Axe murderer, or my stepfather
24. What was the last thing that REALLY made you laugh? An email from a friend.
25. How many TVs do you have in your house? 2
26. How big is your bed? King
27. Do you have a laptop or desktop computer? Desktop
28. Do you sleep with or without clothes on? Semi clad
29. What color are your sheets? white
30. How many pillows do you sleep with? 2
31. What is your favorite season? Fall
32. What do you like about fall? The color of the leaves changing and the mild temps
33. What do you like about winter? The holidays, and snow
34. What do you like about the summer? Having cookouts
35. What do you like about spring? The new flowers, and Easter
36. How many states/provinces have you lived in? 1 Kentucky
37. What cities/towns have you lived in? Maryville, Okalona, Fairdale, Ferncreek
38. Do you prefer shoes, socks, or bare feet? bare feet
39. Are you a social person? Sometimes, depends on the people available to socialize with.
40. What was the last thing you ate? Buttered popcorn flavored rice cake
41. What is your favorite restaurant? Ruth’s Chris Steak House
42. What is your favorite ice cream? Death by Chocolate
43. What is your favorite dessert? Plain Cheesecake
44. What is your favorite kind of soup? Chicken tortilla
45. What kind of jelly do you like on your PB & J sandwich? grape
46. Do you like Chinese food? Yes
47. Do you like coffee? It is my life substance
48. How many glasses of water a day? 1 or 2
49. What do you drink in the morning? Coffee, duh, see answer to question 49.
51. Do you sleep on a certain side of the bed? Left side
52. Do you know how to play poker? yes
53. Do you like to cuddle? Depends on my mood
54. Have you ever been to Canada? No
55. Do you have an addictive personality? Yeah I think so
56. Do you eat out or at home more often? Home
58. Do you know anyone with the same birthday as you? No
59. Do you want kids? Only the ones I have thanks
60. Do you speak any other languages? Only bits of Spanish and sign language, and a word or two of Japanese and Russian. Oh wait does hillbilly or redneck count?
61. Have you ever gotten stitches? Yes Both big toes, right ankle, forehead, right side of neck, and lower abdomen.
62. Have you ever ridden in an ambulance? yes
63. Do you prefer an ocean or a pool? Ocean
64. Do you prefer a window seat or an aisle seats? Either is fine with me
65. Do you know how to drive stick? Yes
66. What is your favorite thing to spend money on? I don’t like to spend money, but I guess on my kids.
67. Do you wear any jewelry 24/7? Wedding band.
68. What is your favorite TV show? Heroes
69. Can you roll your tongue? no
71. Do you sleep with stuffed animals? No
72. What is the main ring tone on your phone? 10 seconds
73. Do you still have clothes from when you were little? No
74. What red object is closest to you right now? Juice box
75. Do you turn off the water while you brush your teeth? Yes
76. Do you sleep with your closet doors open or closed? Closed
77. Would you rather be attacked by a big bear or a swarm of bees? Been attacked by a swarm of hornets and made it threw OK ….I think I’ll stick with them.
79. What do you dip a chicken nugget in? Mustard and ketchup together or BBQ sauce80. What is your favorite food? Anything made by my Grandmother
81. Can you change the oil on a car? No
82. Have you ever gotten a speeding ticket? No, but have gotten other traffic tickets
83. Have you ever run out of gas? Yes
84. What is your usual bedtime? 11 pm
85. What was the last book you read? Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
86. Do you read the newspaper? No, but the comic section makes good wrapping paper
87. Do you have any magazine subscriptions? No
89. Do you watch soap operas? Never.
90. Do you dance in the car? Every chance I get, if nothing else I manage to embarrass my children
91. What radio station did you last listen to? The one that says, “Songs from yesterday, today, whatever”
92. Who is in the picture frame closest to you? Connor I think…whoever it is has a hat pulled down over their entire head, so it must be him.
93. What was the last note you scribbled on a piece of paper? Phone number for ABA
94. What is your favorite candle scent? I don’t care much for scented candles, I would rather make my sister smell them.
95. What is your favorite board game? I don’t care for board games, but I am pretty good at Candy land
98. Who was your favorite teacher in high school? Mr. Rump because he would flatter me by letting me go on and on about Greek Mythology and Einstein
99. What is the longest you have ever camped out in a tent? 3 days and I don’t ever plan to do it again. Camping = work.

I noticed while doing this that 50 and 57 is missing so if you have 2 questions let me know.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Family Table

All of our morning and evening meals are ate as a family at the kitchen table. It has long been this way except for the current disappearances of Connor, who may or may not be interested in the food prepared for the occasion. Interest would depend on sugar, bread, and cheese content.

Sunday morning, not feeling like cooking, I went to the local doughnut shop. I came back home laden with a dozen glazed, a dozen assorted, and a dozen doughnut holes. Just enough to help each of us slip into diabetic comas. I have two of his favorite food groups covered and could have had the third with a cheese danish but alas there were none to be had.
We sit around the table and talk about the week before, school, work, friends, etc. when a discussion about ancient times one of us had seen on the history channel causes us to go off in a tangent induced by sugar. Giggling and laughing, we try to imagine school in ancient times and the problems of using caves with huge stones that had to be rolled aside to open and close, in lieu of modern day lockers. This prompts the oldest teen to exclaim, "Look someone put a man in mine!" which brings about more laughing.

The younger teen informs us that we are all most likely going hell as a burst of gas erupts from her and lifts her an inch from her seat. Laughter stops as her face turns a blotchy red from embarrassment and squeaks "Excuse me." We try not to embarrass her further but are forced into laughing again as her little brother looks at her and asks "Bubbles?"

Monday, October 22, 2007

The theif and his transition

After wowing me with an "I wuv you." unsolicited I was on cloud nine. I was sure I was on to what was to be a great day, maybe even week. Nothing was impossible. So I returned to the school to pick him up.

I get out of my car and wait with the other three regulars, parents who drop off and pick up instead of putting their tots on the bus. I am already beaming from ear to ear before I see fifteen little heads bobbing through the hall in a single line. A little head peeps in and out of the line looking towards the window, the face attached to that head is also beaming.

He looks just like my guy, but it can't be, no one is holding his hand. My guy wonders off, he can not go through the hallways expecting to follow the crowd. They may not notice all the wonders there are to discover. I look at each aide and teacher in turn to see where Connor is. They are not holding his hand.

Oh wow, it is him walking all by himself, look how big he is! He looks so proud of himself. Wow oh wow!

I am beside myself as he comes bursting through the front door towards me and then I see and hear about the cause of this miraculous event. His arms and hands are filled overflowing with farm animals, that it turns out, he nicked from another class room.

Hey, so what! A smooth transition and he still walked down the hall following the class as expected. Even if it was because if he found anything else, he had no room to carry it.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

What is autism, revisited

I had finally come across a website that explained autism without controversy (I think). That really just explained the Triad of Impairments.

1. Impairment of social interaction
2. Impairment of social communication
3. Impairment of imagination

In addition, the following observations are often made in individuals with autism:

  • Delays in development of language
  • Inconsistent patterns of sensory responses (egs: apparent insensitivity to pain; an apparent deafness at times, yet distress at certain everyday sounds like a dog barking; over-reaction to being touched)
  • Uneven patterns of intellectual functioning/ special (savant) abilities in certain areas, yet poor development in other areas
  • Marked restriction of interests and activities/ tendency towards repetitive stereotyped activities.
Pretty short explanation I think. Not the run of the mill "Autism is blah blah blah enter what ever degree handy here to further understand droning explanation." nor the BS of "Robot, lack of empathy, only literal, no emotions, no personality..."

The best part of the site was the FAQ. These were the questions I needed answers to when we first found out, and questions I needed polite answers to for others. Questions like;

  • Is autism caused by bad parenting?
  • Is it a mental illness?
  • Is it the same as mental retardation?
  • Do they look different? (I know my sister loves this one!)

Short quick answer for me to give in order to keep it polite...NO!

I still stand by what I said in the previous post that autism is personal. What is said about one person with autism can not necessarily be said about another. What one family goes through in their daily lives are not always what another family goes through. What helps my son may not help your child and vice versa.

Yet I have another explaination as well. Autism is what makes it so emotional when my 3 yr old son, with out being prompted or had it said to him first tells me "I wuv you" when I dropped him off at school this morning.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

That Boy!

from Saturday...

After returning from the zoo, Hubby took the girls to a classical guitar concert. Connor and I being totally exhausted from our trip lounged lazily around the house. I was tired and irritable and was thinking of calling my sister to lean on her a moment when the phone rings. It's her.

"Whatcha doing?" she asks
"Nothing, thinking about calling you." I answer, and we continue our chatting about the day's events with our children and how things went. I can feel myself getting in a more uplifted mood and the tension in my shoulders dissolve the more we chit-chat and swap stories.

Then I hear a knock on the door. I can see through the drape that it is that boy. That boy, that calls my oldest teen all the time. That boy, that keeps her on the phone forever. That boy, that comes over and sits on my couch and tries to kiss her. That boy, that I had nearly pulled his ear off because rough housing appeared a little too rough. That boy that is not to be trusted because that boy is...well...that boy! With deep breath and still on the phone I open the door.

"Yes?" and as he peers over my shoulder, he moves toward to enter the house. I move forward to block this rudeness because I have not invited him in.
"Is Melody home?"
"No, she went to a concert with her Dad."
"What time is the concert over?"
"I have no idea."
"Well, do you know what time they will be home?"
"No." As I endure the questioning I hear my sister in my ear.
"What the hell? You just said she wasn't home! He's isn't her parent he doesn't need to be questioning you about where your daughter is!" she is furious.
"Well, Melody said they would probably be back by now." he continues as if I have my daughter hidden away and am lying to him.
"I tell ya what, call her Dad and ask him." and as I think about the conversation that would provoke I am sure I am smiling like a Cheshire cat.
"OH! Dortha, you messed up! Daddy is gonna kill him!" my sister says.

I assure her I know what I am doing and invite the boy in so I can write the number down for him.
"So what do I say when I call?" he asks
"Just say what you said when I answered the door." I advise.
"Wouldn't that be kind of rude?"
"But, you just said it to me!"
"Oh ... err....sputter....sputter." and I usher him back out the door.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blubbering, Crying, OMG, My Babies First Day of School Monday.

With a spray bottle of water and hair brush, Daddy and I tackled Connor's head. I wanted so much that he didn't resemble a wolverine, but closer to a proper young man instead, least the kids try to pet him.

With backpack on, he holds my hand calmly and only has to be lifted off the floor twice once inside. After he realizes we are going to his new classroom there are no problems and two doors away his energy propels him down the hall and into his room. A little girl puts a arm out to hug him as he flies by and I hold my breath to see how badly this poor child will be flattened. Surprisingly she is stock still, arm still in the air wondering what happened, and my child is the one laying on the floor. He jumps right back up and continues his running through the room.

The proper picture of smiling child in uniform with backpack on and holding lunch box in hand, looking at the camera eludes us. Such is my condition of being a deer in headlights and his condition of being 1000 volts of electricity.


Look at that grip on the chalk!

The resource teacher said there were a couple of issues today when I asked how things went, but didn't elaborate. They had obviously went outside today as he and the afore mentioned little girl both came out looking like they had rolled around in dirt. Which is probably what they did.

I missed him while he was in school and even found myself going to the passenger side of the car to bring him in the house after I had just dropped him off. I did however enjoy my couple of hours of solitude. I relaxed in a hot tub of bath salts, with the phones by the bathroom sink of course.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

MEME'd

Suzy of Identity Crisis has tagged me to write a meme. I love her and her blog dearly. I have no idea what I'm doing, but (deep breath) here I go.

1. I rarely write anything out on paper, ever. So I have several files of notes, numbers, and messages saved on my computer. My daughters (especially the toungest) call me a geek.

2. This is one of several writing projects. The others include a fictional book and top secret memoirs. I love this one the most as it is the most inspired.

3. I don't listen to music when I write. I love music, but find it distracting. Distraction is not something I need as I have already been led from my seat three times while attempting this post..four...five.

4. The best compliment I ever got was from my husband when he said he liked my writing style. He reads things like Raphael Sabatini, Robert Jordan, and C.S. Lewis. Am I comparing myself to them? Hell no, but he found my writing worthy which was very nice. I myself like to read books where the words seem to be of candy floss. Yes I am a Harry Potter fan.

5. I was inspired to keep this blog soon after Connor's diagnosis. I was feeling awful and was searching "autism" on Google. One link stood out amongst the others, one that was surprising full of humour, despite the title, The Misery of Autism.

I now tag Self Employed Mum that has just embarked on a brave journey.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Zoo


One boy in a wagon and another in a stroller, both are sitting calmly with big smiles on their faces. They are meticously clean and every hair in place. One echoes everything that is said to him or sings Barney songs, the other never says a word but does a cute little flapping of his hands when he gets excited. My Connor is shoulders and head bigger and beefier than them. He has outgrown his stroller and makes it apparent as he has trouble with every transition and uses his foot to stop the stroller from moving on to the next thing.

The Moms and Dads are nice and patient. They understand what it's like, and one Mother suffocates me with offers of help and suggestions. This has the result of making me tense and Connor picks up on this making the transition harder. Yes he was the king of meltdowns today.
Even though I felt like an outcast among them it was of my own doing. Most of the time spent at the zoo was enjoyable for all. I will never understand what possesed them to put a Thomas and friends train set in an exhibit, that caused us so much trouble, but again most of the time was nice.



The best part of the trip however was coming home!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Three days until

With visitors arriving any moment I check the house over again to make sure it is spotless. I then turn my attention to my son, he is dressed and in a good mood. No his hair isn't brushed as that is something he can't stand. You can't have everything.

The Special Ed lady arrives first. She is a nice older woman and she gets right down to business about what things we use to transition. I give her information on PECS, timers, and reminders of "X amount of time until" because of all the words he picks out, until is the word with most meaning. Special Ed lady informs me that the classroom teacher will arrive shortly, that she is a very sweet lady and was excited to find out that she would be having an autistic child in the class. She had taken a course on autism over the summer.

Oh really? This is why I had been waiting months for proper placement? They couldn't have found someone that had taken a course in autism before now? I took a course in VBA, maybe I should be her Verbal Behavior Analysis Assistant. Actually, I wasn't mad, I was amused.

Ms. One Course in Autism showed up and I have to say that she measured up quite nicely. She is very sweet and caring, she has been in the classroom for nine years and has just recently got into special education. She has picture maker, timers, picture schedules, and she knows how to use them. She knows about meltdowns, sensitivities, transitioning, and a multitude of other important things. SHE ASKS IF SHE DOESN'T KNOW!!! That is huge in my mind!

When asked by Special Ed Lady what I had done to give Connor a chance to know the school, Ms. One Course defends me and explains I had only known about the placement for a week. She also offers me a chance to bring Connor over to the school because she plans to be there till 4:30.

As we walk into the school everything is fine Connor is excited to see the library but consents to come along to his new classroom. WOW!! What a classroom! It's big and beautiful and filled with lots of nice toys and areas. Connor found so many things to play with, and I sway a bit as he picks up two baby dolls and carries them around. They don't have wheels, not dinosaurs, nor zoo or farm animals. They are of human likeness, it is one for the record books. Upon seeing a pair of stuffed dragons however these poor dolls are dropped on their heads.

Ms. One Course is very personable and answers any possible problem with "It is/will be OK." I call hubby to tell him how things went, which is answered with "That must have been one hell of a course! Where do I sign up?" Indeed.

I have a good feeling about this.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Expectations

He has learned his landmarks.
"Elephant!" he squeals as we get closer to the putt-putt.
"Feesh!" as we get toward the area of the Moby Dick.
"Super per per man!" as we near the Wal Mart. It is now a routine every time we stop here to ride the Superman train before getting in a cart.

After we are properly in the store "Bicycle, bicycle, bicycle!" and we make our way to the back of the store to visit the bicycles and try to avoid the toys all together. Many more trips in that department and I will be very broke and my house will be an even closer equivalent of Toy R Us.

We are there for two things, the oldest needs a flash drive for a business and marketing class, and I need to see what earphones they have available after breaking the very expensive pair the OT loaned me. As we try to wind our way through to electronics, Connor is beginning to look frantic. He reaches over and his hand makes enough contact with a display to knock part of it over. His sisters are kind enough to pick it up while I continue to the desired destination.

Now over the threshold that places us officially in the electronics department Connor can't take anymore. He is standing up in his seat and trying to climb over my head. The back of the cart seat is folding forward me, trapping his legs. Finally removing him from my head with hair covering my eyes he sits back down. His bottom lip is pooching out threatening to take over his face. We refer to this phenomena as cup holder lip. Big tears are welling up in his little eyes and he looks up at me whining "Mater, Lightning McQueen, Tractor?"
"You have all of those at home Honey."
"I wanna bicycle!" he cries.

This what I had been hoping to hear voluntarily. The one thing we had been working on is saying "Want" when labeling something that he wanted. He surpassed that goal and added "I"!

Well of course he got to see the bicycles! We grabbed a flash drive and went back to see them. Even though by now we are being tailed by a female security person for our weird antics. My oldest teens becomes therapist to help him through his transition and we go through taking our time and saying "Bye-bye" to each bicycle. Yup, my girls surpass expectations too.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

New Friends

With the littlest one in the bed I was ready to post on my blog. I had something of importance to say, big news to report! I get comfortable in front of the screen and attempt to log on only to find I can't produce an @ symbol. I try again, nope, nadda. Assuming that it is just one of those things that only takes a restart of the computer to fix, that's what I do.

Computer starts back up and now I can't produce a, s, d, j, k, l, or anything that requires the shift key. OK, I try and restart again. Same thing. Crap! I am starting to get nervous about computer hijackers and key loggers. I run my anti-virus, Spybot search and destroy, and windows defender, because woe be the world if the vital information on my computer should land in the wrong hands. Nothing.


I walk downstairs in the dungeon my husband calls the library and ask his advice.
"Try another keyboard." He doesn't bother to look away from his screen.
"You have another one?"
"Yeah, just outside the door near the...."
"Near the what?"
"um..err.....just....there...by the refrigerator." Not being able to multitask it is hard for him to give me directions while banded together with nine other people to save the world of Azeroth from evil. (He is playing on multi player online game.)
"What, stuck in the Mountain Dew box that you've have used as a trash can?"
"Yeah."


Since it was only paper trash I pull out the keyboard, wipe it down and use a can of compressed air on the keys. As you can tell, that did the trick and I am saved from disappointing my devoted readers (at least 2 people anyway).


I had asked the question in my last post of how would you explain autism to someone who asked. I had started on a post but got a little lost in the things it is and is not, as it pertains to Connor. I have poured over it repeatedly and it just doesn't portray what I would like just yet. So for now the answer to "What is autism?" is "It's personal."


Oh and the big news? Well, Connor and I have been invited to join a playgroup. All of them 30 something moms and dads with 3 yr old autistic sons or daughters. We are going to the zoo this Saturday and I can't wait for Connor to get to finally see the baby elephant. I talked to one of the ladies in the group today and it helps that she has a great sense of humour and explained that if any kids have a meltdown during these outings no one is there staring at you wondering what is wrong with your kid, or wondering why you didn't have them under control.


I feel like a kid who has just met a new friend. I haven't made many since high school and had not managed to keep many of the ones from those days. One of the ones I had made since then had got divorced and I guess gave custody of our friendship to the husband. The one thing that I find a little concerning is when I was young I would be really hoping that they liked me. Now what I really hope is that I will like them.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

What is Autism?

How do you answer this? Of course I know what Autism is, I just have a hard time explaining to anyone that asks.

Last December we went to my Aunt's house for the family Christmas party. We did not have a diagnosis yet, even though we knew what diagnosis we were going to receive. Most of the family members at the party did not know anything was wrong with Connor other than a speech delay. So as Connor was more disregulated, we got those looks that said, You need to control your kid. and He sure is high spirited isn't he? We didn't stay too long as it was just too much to handle for all of us. We went through and said our Good byes and my uncle chimes in, "Dortha, he reminds me why I don't have anymore kids at my age."
"Oh yeah?"
"Yeah, I wouldn't have the energy, even when they weren't being bad."


Fast forward to now. My uncle lives in another state but has come home for a funeral. It was just my Grandmother, Aunt, Uncle and Mother in the car and evidently he had been clued in to what was going on.
"So what is wrong with Connor?" he asks.
"He has autism." my Mom explains. Thinking that that says it all.
"Yeah, but what exactly is Autism?"
She was lost for words on how to explain, just as I find I am at times.

My uncle isn't a mean person and didn't mean to hurt any ones feelings with what he had said at the party. He honestly did not understand and I didn't take time to explain. My Grandmother found an article in People magazine about a celebrity that has an autistic son and has some idea now. However, I can't throw an article at everyone who asks.

I wonder how to explain so as not to use words like, receptive, proprioceptive, vestibular and modulation. Also how do I explain without it sounding like I'm singing that old Hee Haw song;
Gloom, despair and agony on me,
Deep, dark depression, Excessive misery,
If it weren't for bad luck I'd have no luck at all,
Gloom, despair and agony on me”

So long explanation made into a short question. How do tell people what Autism is?

Monday, October 8, 2007

Occupational Monday

Within a small space of time things change. It is human nature to change and it is human nature, I believe, to find this a tad annoying. As being one of those little people that hates transitioning, Connor loathes much change. With that being the case I fully expect next week to be a pain in the rear.

Late last Friday afternoon the county school system called to say they had finally found proper placement for Connor. The rise in specials needs students was such that is took several months to place everyone. I find the whole thing rather interesting that all of the sudden the county has so many special needs students, mainly 3 yr olds. Surely it hasn't always been that way.

Anyways, new schedule is 9:30am - 12:40pm, Monday through Thursday, meaning all therapies now have to be rescheduled. I spoke to the scheduler thinking this was going to hard to accomplish. Restricted times were 9 - 12, Mon - Thurs, and 2 - 3 Mon - Fri. Doesn't leave alot open does it? The scheduler was a pro and had it sorted in no time. Speech on Thursday right after school and OT on Friday.

I am excited and scared all at the same time. I have fantasies of the 3 hours I will have all to myself. Time to put my feet up and relax, or catch up on a few of the many things that get neglected on a regular basis. I also have fears that I will barely return home before I am called back to retrieve my son. I fear all the different scenarios that could arise; meltdowns, hitting, kicking, biting, non-cooperation, hiding under tables, running.

My mantra for the week, He will adjust and will be making huge progress. He will be playing with other children his age. He will do great!

Occupational Monday will be no more, instead it will be Occupational Friday. Monday, or least this coming Monday will be Blubbering, Crying, OMG, My Babies First Day of School Monday.
I will be sure to take pictures.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Let me get this straight

We had a lazy day yesterday. Well that is to say Connor did as I only insisted he do very few activities as I went through a box of four Mr. Clean magic erasers. I know it sounds like a horrible thing to do to yourself when you are recovering from a frustrated overwhelmed mood. However coming home in that mood and seeing your house looking as if it is occupied by a pack of bachelors rather than a family of five has an unpleasant effect to say the least.

Sparkling surfaces and fingerprint free walls were mine! Most toys and therapy devices were in their proper place. I wasn't able to find my regular CD I would listen to while cleaning but was instead treated to a concert of Connor making up his own tunes. I couldn't understand but very few words but the melody was nice.

I suspect that my frenzy of deep cleaning must have popped up on my mother's radar, as that afternoon she arrived with laundry in tow. Connor is glad to see her and demonstrates for her how to run through the house like a mad person. He comes to a stop and points at me "Mommy"
he states, then points a finger at his Grandma "Mmm..mmm".
"Mamaw." I help identify. He has said it before but it seems he wants to make sure he has it right.
"Mommy." He points at me.
"Mamaw." He points at her.
"Yea!! Good job Connor!!" She claps and squeaks.

Happy with himself he continues to fly through the house with a huge smile on his face. When she is done with her laundry and ready to leave, Connor comes over to watch her go. She steps out the door and turns around to tell me to lock the door back because it wouldn't occur to me otherwise. She bends low and asks "Connor can you tell Mamaw bye-bye?" He runs forward at full speed and slams the door almost on her nose. She pushes the door back open.
"Bye-bye Connor."
"Bye-bye."
"Can Mamaw have a kiss." He leans forward and with his lips loosely puckered to oblige.
She thanks him and says her good bye's again then turns away. He takes off full speed again.
SLAM! and the door just misses her back side.

As I lock the chain back in place Connor is locking the doorknob and deadbolt singing "turn, turn , turn." We are now less concerned with working on fine motor and more worried about modulation. I consider a digital lock with keypad but he is good with numbers. I take solace in the fact he isn't near tall enough to reach the lock at the top of the door. Soon enough though I fear we will rival Fort Knox in security.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Weight of the world


Most normal people, whoever or wherever they may be, would boggle at my want for half of a well planned out thought in my head. I am finding more and more that forgetfulness is evading my brain and I find myself doing silly things. Like calling the grocery right after I leave to ask them if they would please hold the smoked sausages for me, that I just forgot in the self check out.

I am also getting very tired and stressed. Meltdowns have been getting far less often and in less intensity, except for the last two weeks. Wednesday seems to be the day for the long drawn out screaming, kicking and flailing sessions. Last week he had no speech therapy, his therapist had gone on vacation. Going back this week we sat in the waiting room and Connor couldn't keep his eyes off of another little boy in the room. The little boy walked over to Connor and as soon as he reached out to touch Connor, the boys mother gets a little panicky. "Don't now, be easy. Leave him alone he is sitting there being good!" She squawks as her son does joint compressions on Connor's head and by accident sticks a finger in his eye.

I wait calmly to see if this is what will send him in to flight mode. He sits there rubbing his eye and making small attempts to get free of the stroller. The speech therapist shows up right on time, I set him free and he walks with her hand in hand. When he sees we are going to her room it is too much. Aggravation followed so quickly by disappointment sends him over the edge and he collapses onto the floor.

Half the session is over before he calms down and participates. I sit in front of the door to bar escape and brush my arms and hands. My face, arms and hands are scratched, my hair pulled, and my shoulders popping. My feelings are hurt and my heart in pieces about what he must be going through to do such things.

When we leave he is perfectly fine as if nothing has happened, so I head to the store to pick up forgotten sausages and get pull-ups. He was a perfect gentleman in the store until we head to the exit and he sees "APPLES!"

"Honey we have already checked out and we have apples at home." Have to be told no sometimes, right?

I wrestle through the parking lot trying to keep my toddler from diving head first out of the cart, hold on to the groceries he is trying to throw out, and stop the contents of my purse spilling out. Once he is in his car seat and everything is calm enough to pull out, I can't find my keys. I check the bag, I check my purse 15 times, I check my pockets over and over. I stand behind the car looking at the ground to see if I dropped them. I can't find them. I sit in the drivers seat and let my shoulders slump. pop! pop! pop! They attempt to place themselves correctly.

I want to scream or hit something. I want to cry, but I wont. I am the adult here I have to figure this out. I have to buck up, get him back out of the car and go find these keys.

"OK, now that you have calmed down. Would you like to go get an apple?"

I found my keys in the cart he tried to escape from, and he was happy as can be with a 3/4 pound Fuji apple. I do fear I forgot to get some Aleve. Maybe I can order by mail?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

An award!

Walksfarwoman from Kissing the Dogwood has bestowed upon me the Schmooze Award. Thank you Walksfarwoman, I am quite honored.

“Good schmoozers effortlessly weave their way in and out of the blogosphere, leaving friendly trails and smiles, happily making new friends along the way. They don’t limit their visits to only the rich and successful, but spend some time to say hello to new blogs as well. They are the ones who engage others in meaningful conversations, refusing to let it end at a mere hello - all the while fostering a sense of closeness and friendship.”

I pass this award to;

The Mixed Up Thoughts Of A Jadedsoul

Oh, The Joys

Whitterer on Autism

Full-Soul-Ahead

Identity Crisis