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?"
"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."