Sunday, December 28, 2008
Our cat Simba thought the frog, the little gray blob at the back of the tank on the left hand side, was hers. Fortunately the tank has a wire mesh cover! The tag on the tank said the froggy is a red spotted frog.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
- Limit TV and video game time and increase physical activity and exercise time.
- Remember your child's normal routines, and try not to interrupt them. Stress is often the result of routine changes over which your child has no control.
- Don't allow yourself to get too busy to pay attention to your family's nutrition. When you factor in all the extra goodies available during the holidays, be sure to plan at least one healthy family meal every day so you are sure your child is getting the energy he/she needs. (Note: I suppose this may be very difficult or very easy depending on the food preferences of specific children.)
- Family traditions are very important to you and your children. They offer great comfort and security for children when other routines are disrupted. Maybe your family tradition is putting up the tree, decorating cookies, or reading a special book. Be sure to make this family tradition all that it can be for your child.
- Do occasional attitude checks, before the holidays get into full swing. Take a deep breath, and have everyone in the family agree to do their best to make the holiday season a time of joy and family peace.
- Laugh a lot. Laughter is still the best way to beat stress and change everyone's mood from bad to good. Read the comics together, tell a daily joke, and lighten the mood with a smile. (From the blogs I read, I think many parents with children on the spectrum already know all about humor!)
- If you are doing a "countdown" activity with our child, be sure it is low key and doesn't add so much anticipation that our child is stress or anxious."
"Here are some ideas that work for many parents. If your child won't go to an out of the way time out place:
1. Use reverse time out.
Walk out yourself. Shut yourself in a room where you have a good magazine to read, and enjoy it. keep one there, just in case. If necessary, take the baby, but it's better to leave your other children out of this, if possible.) After the storm has subsided and blue skies appear again, say nothing about the wild behavior. Move on in a friendly way.
My input: I like the idea of the reverse time out, but if the child is older and able to understand, it might be a good idea to actually talk about the wild behavior after the child has calmed down. Try to make sure you and your child have an idea of what caused the meltdown. (Writing down the factors surrounding a meltdown afterward may give you some insight.) While offering some reassurance, try to help your child understand why that behavior was unacceptable. This may help cut down on the probability that a tantrum or meltdown will happen over the exact same or during similar circumstances in the future.
2. Start time out after the tantrum has wound down.
Say, "You'll start your time out when your enough in control of yourself to go into your room." Later, say, " I see you've gotten yourself calm. Good. Now spend some time alone (as many minutes as equal the child's age), and figure out what to do next time you feel frustrated instead of having a fit. I'll give you the timer. Come back in x minutes if you feel ready."
My input: This is a really good idea because it might be hard for a child with ASD to stay in anyone place while melting down.
3. If this causes junior to renew his tantrum, go through the same procedures again.
Don't discuss anything with your child. Don't reward this unacceptable behavior with your attention. (is there anything a child considers more rewarding?) state what is now going to happen and make it happen.
My input: During the meltdown or tantrum, sometimes it's impossible to get a word in edgewise. I suggest trying to remain calm and doing one's best to make sure the child is safe (a reverse time out may not work, if a child is a danger to himself.)
4. Give a choice: time out of the loss of something he likes.
(The video he usually gets to watch one afternoon a week? the pack of sugar-free gum he gets on Saturdays?) If your child weighs almost as much as you do, or you have a bad back or some such, say, "You can go to time out right now or you can skip the video, your choice."
My input: This might work after the child has calmed down and can understand choices, which are often difficult for children with ASD to make--especially younger children.
Note: The book is only 48 pages long and is easy to read. However, it was published in 1997 by Scholastic Books and seems to be out of print. It only seems to be available on Ebay with a January 15, 2009 deadline for purchasing ($1, plus $4 for U.S. shipping).
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
After witnessing and enduring the meltdowns of my child with autism for many years, I started to think that maybe there is a subtle difference between the tantrum and the meltdown. Tantrum means one is being naughty because the person either didn't get what they wanted or they felt that people (i.e. mom or dad) were being unfair. Trust, me, a child with autism can still be naughty and use tantrums to manipulate. I know that from experience too.
But, meltdowns, the way I'm thinking of them do not generally indicate manipulation. Meltdowns indicate a complete and total loss of control of one's emotions when the person becomes completely overwhelmed by a situation. They can occur as a result of a trigger such as a super loud sound, a change of routine, or a profound disappoint. Sometimes those triggers are easy to foresee and a parent can guide a child smoothly past them without difficulty. Sometimes they are hidden and kaboom a meltdown hits.
Sometimes the meltdown happens privately as in one's own home. That is the location I think most parents and likely individuals would prefer. Sometimes, though, they happen publicly with varying results. If one is fortunate, bystanders will either ignore the situation or offer to help. If one is less fortunate, someone will utter a nasty comment about the person's behavior or the adult's apparent lack of control. It's also possible that security may (at least try to) escort those involved in the chaos off of the public property.
It's not always possible, I have discovered, to be completely in control when one's child vents in public. Sometimes it is quite possible to end up in a crappy situation and an embarrassing meltdown moment occurs. Sometimes they turn out alright and the person out of control will be able to function after venting for a few minutes or more.
Ultimately, I believe the word meltdown definitely deserves a definition separate from tantrum. I liked this definition on urban dictionary for meltdown: "1. Describes what happens when a person freaks out, cracks, loses control of themselves. Life - reality at large- becomes overwhelming. They just can't deal with it all. The person may act out, withdraw, become emotional, run, etc... "
A word of caution though: While perusing the same site, I also ran into another definition of meltdown: "something that is crazy fun or really tight. Usually said when having a good time."
Oh right. If someone in the autism community used meltdown to invoke that meaning, I would probably be downright confused. Meltdowns in the freaking out sense of the word has been part of my world far too long. Now that my child is ten, they don't happen as much. We've become much better at techniques in regards to handling meltdowns. Don't get me wrong though. Meltdowns are still difficult around here when they occur. I dread them and somewhat fear them, but it's a part of my world I do my best to accept and endure with as much compassion as possible.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
When you have meltdowns and fire and discord in your soul
And raging from the core, find my soft look
And slowly calm and get off the path took
You find your way and fury does go
How I love your moments of pure delight
And find the beauty with love true and true
My one one heart loves my child that is you
And spites the sorrows of your fearsome fight
And not seeing down the curving road
Sigh, a little, sadly, how love prevails
And face toward the mountains autism entails
And find your story amidst many told.
Note: This poem is one I wrote to kick off my week long series on meltdowns. I wish I could say the poem is an original, but must admit it is a derivative of W.B. Yeats' work When you are Old. I bought a book of his poetry while visiting his hometown in Sligo, Ireland and found his poem about unconditional love to be endearing.
Friday, December 12, 2008
"Tell us your ideas and be part of the change you are looking for," the box on Change.gov, the website for President elect Barrack Obama and Vice President elect Joe Biden, states. I know that parents and advocates have a lot of ideas of how the health issue of autism should be handled in the United States. There is a button on the box that allows people to submit their ideas.
Here are some of the ideas that the incoming administration has outlined in terms of what the administration's approach to health care in general will be:
- Require insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions so all Americans regardless of their health status or history can get comprehensive benefits at fair and stable premiums.
- Create a new Small Business Health Tax Credit to help small businesses provide affordable health insurance to their employees.
- Lower costs for businesses by covering a portion of the catastrophic health costs they pay in return for lower premiums for employees.
- Prevent insurers from overcharging doctors for their malpractice insurance and invest in proven strategies to reduce preventable medical errors.
- Make employer contributions more fair by requiring large employers that do not offer coverage or make a meaningful contribution to the cost of quality health coverage for their employees to contribute a percentage of payroll toward the costs of their employees' health care.
- Establish a National Health Insurance Exchange with a range of private insurance options as well as a new public plan based on benefits available to members of Congress that will allow individuals and small businesses to buy affordable health coverage.
Ensure everyone who needs it will receive a tax credit for their premiums.
There are many topics that can be addressed in regards to autism. Autism Society of America has outlined a few ideas of what to write. You can find them at this link.
Friday, December 5, 2008
A. Well, given the recent energy crisis, I'm going to have to give stones instead of coal this year.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
As much as I support the cause, I needed to get away from autism and all the work that goes with being an advocate for a little while. That is one of a few reasons why I went to Ireland a few weeks ago. However, actually getting away didn't stop me (a proud mother of one son on the spectrum and one son who is not) from thinking about autism, talking about it, or looking for signs of autism awareness.
I didn't spot the bumper sticker above, but one of my travelling companions whom I spoke to about autism (and my son) did. It was the only sign of autism awareness spotted on the trip, though the site provides proof in the form of links that there is more than just this one website in regards to autism awareness. Thankfully, my friend and travelling companion snapped a shot of it and shared the photo with me or I probably would not have thought to blog about this site.
The website, autismawareness.net, featured in the photo is indeed of Irish origins. The owner lives in Dublin. The site has links to Irish sites as well as the following quote:
"In Ireland over 2,000 people have been diagnosed with Autism and each year this figure continues to grow. Until recently, very little help or support was available for families affected by Autism, and many were left to cope with it by themselves. Help is now at hand."
My thoughts: The home page is a little weak in regards to content, but the page explaining the basics of autism is excellent (informative, but easy to read), which is why I linked to that one instead. The other pages are great too. I especially appreciated the lack of inoffensive language and noncontroversial icons. (There are no ribbons or puzzle pieces to be seen.) I liked the pictures appearing on the site: an open window with the sun peaking in and a train chugging along at the top of the page. Further I found the slogan to be thoughtful. It reads as follows:
"Don't leave them behind."
Despite being rather impressed with the website, I found the homepage titled "who we are" to be a bit vague. I would have liked to have known if the owner was part of an association or if he is a parent. The only clue to be found on the home page is that the site represents a partnership with the H.O.P.E. Project in Cork, Ireland. Other than that one clue there are plenty of ads although there is a helpful directory to the other pages which are labelled "therapy available,""what about support," "useful links," "all things medical," and "contact us" (all that is on that page is an email address).
All in all it seems to be a good website with helpful content that I'd recommend to other parents, friends or family members of a person with autism. I'm glad that I was able to share it with readers.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Admittedly, I took longer to adjust being home from vacation than my boys (including the one with autism) took adjusting to my being home. My older one (should I call him C1?) had a meltdown on the way from the airport and another one the next day. We think it had to do with him trying to get control of the situation. My five year old (C2) proceeded to be my shadow for two days before going back to playing with his brother more. My husband was just glad to see me again.
As for me, I slept from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. Friday night to Saturday morning and felt much better. It took me 35 hours to get home (a combination of layovers at airports and flights) and I only was able to sleep for about for of those hours. Further, there is a five hour time difference between Ireland and Mid-Michigan (Eastern Standard Time). Now that a week has gone by since my arrival I feel much more rested.
While I was catching up with my rest there were duties to be done besides cooking and cleaning. I had an appointment to pay for new blinds on Monday, a parent-teacher conference for little C2 on Tuesday, and a dentist appointment for C1 on Thursday. All of those activities went fairly well--even the dentist appointment.
Next Up? Now that I've caught up with the type of housecleaning that only the head house cleaner (me) does, I have to work at putting up photos from Ireland on my Facebook site and also work to catch up with some autism work before Thanksgiving festivities take over next week. In terms of autism duties I have to figure out what topics to address next on this blog, help schedule a Max's Place field trip for December (it looks like we'll be roller skating), and check in with the executive board for Central Michigan Autism Society of America to see what needs to be done next.
Am hoping to do some more autism-related rather than personal type of posts in the near future. Does anyone out there have a suggestion? If you have a autism-related question, I will do my best to answer it. Hope to hear from you soon.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Today is the day my group returns. We should be excited and exhausted, but also a little sad that the much anticipated trip is coming to an end. My thanks goes to Nawas Travel for a marvelous trip.
It was a dream come true. This is the last of my scheduled posts. I probably won't blog for five or six days after tomorrow, November 14. I'll have jet lag and lots of work to catch up on. Thanks for reading this series. Hope you enjoyed learning the details of my trip.
To my boys:
I'm on a big plane flying over an ocean again! There's a little surprise for you in the bottom drawer of the old dresser (in front of the window) for each of you--dad included. It's orange Tic Tacs for you boys and sour candies for your dad. I'll see you tomorrow! I'll bring presents.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
I have only two days left in Ireland before returning home. Today my twenty four travelling companions and I will pass by a scenic waterway called Lough Erne, pass through Cavan and Kells and may spend some time in Navan, residence of the Irish High Kings. We'll arrive in Dublin, our final destination, at the end of the day.
As you might have realized, I have written all my post for Nov 2-14 ahead of time. It was a bloggy marathon as I wrote them all in one day! I thought my boys, in particular, might like to see some links to images of things I have seen.
To my boys:
Only three more days will go. I know your dad is taking great care of you, but I miss you all the same. I love you very, very, very much.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Here is what my itinerary says for today:
"Enjoy a drive today through County Donegal where the variety of scenery is a never ending delight. You'll continue along Donegal Bay to the dramatically beautiful hills of Donegal and view the magnificent coastline, majestic mountains, deep glens and shimmering lakes which merge in a tumult of beauty. Your tour takes you through the fishing village of Killybegs, the picturesque town of Glenties and through the magnificent mountain scenery of Blue Stack range before returning to Sligo for the night."
To the Lorenzen boys:
I'll be home in four days and am looking very forward to seeing you. I'm taking plenty of pictures and I'm looking forward to showing them to you.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Saturday, November 8, 2008
If I'm destined to buy any Aran knits (which are supposed to be famous, although I've never heard of them until signing up for this trip), I'll probaby do so today when we shop in Connemara. Connemara, as you may know, is the place where St. Patrick fasted for 40 days and nights.
Dear Lorenzen Boys,
I'll see you in six days! I miss you love you so very much. Do you remember when we read about St. Patrick in a book? I bet you do! Please remember to water the plants again.
Friday, November 7, 2008
Today I'll get to linger at hundreds of feet above the see at the Cliffs of Moher. My group and I will also get to see Galway, known as "the principal city of western Ireland located at the entrance to Connemara.
Dear Lorenzen Boys:
I love you very, very, very much. To see great pictures, tell dad to click on the link! I will see you in seven days. Is that still your favorite number Boo?
Thursday, November 6, 2008
A few stories:
From my post Voting in the 2008 Presidential Election at the American Presidents Blog:
Despite predictions of long lines due to a high registration rate of college students in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, there was no line. We got right through and I was able to vote immediately. I will not reveal who I voted for but both of my boys gave me advice on the way in on who to vote for in the Presidential race. This did not surprise me as both boys have been following the election and have been making political comments for months. (At 5, I was not doing this! The world has changed!)
My youngest asked me after we left, "Who won?" I said I did not know yet. He was disappointed. He thought we would know right away. Hopefully, we will know tomorrow at this time. But who can tell? It might be another cliffhanger. Regardless, I voted. And my sons are proud.
I did not add the following to that post:
My oldest who is on the Autism spectrum was well behaved for the most part. While I was voting however he started yelling, "Your attention please! It is time to vote. Please vote for (name withheld!)" I silenced him immediately. Thankfully, he complied!
When I took the ballot to the tabulation machine, the same son got concerned. The machine looks like a shredder. He yelled, "Oh no, they are shredding your vote Dad!" Both the election official and myself assured him that this was not the case.
Julie called today. The boys enjoyed talking with her. They sent her e-mail last night with me typing for the younger boy. I think we can manage another week. :]
This is written on my agenda for Thursday, November 6:
"Today you have an opportunity to enjoy what is perhaps Ireland's most breathtaking tour. Spend a full day exploring the 109-mile "Ring of Kerry," encircling the Iveragh Peninsula, a panorama of spectacular coastal and mountain scenery along golden beaches. You will pass beautiful lakes, quaint little villages and drive along the rugged Atlantic shore before returning to Killarney."
Dear Lorenzen boys:
I haven't seen any leprechauns yet, and probably will not be lucky enough to catch a glimpse. I hear they can be quite mean sometimes, so perhaps it's best if I don't come across one. I will see you in eight days. You can have dad click on the link to see what I really did get to see today. I love you very, very, very, much.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Update from Michael: She kissed the stone. Dang! I do not need her more eloquent when she argues with me!
Dear Lorenzen Boys: I'm sure every time I see a boy that is one of your ages I'll miss you even more if that is possible. I love you very, very, very much. I'll see you in nine days. P.S. I used Google Images for all my links today, so you'll be able to see a lot of beautiful pictures.
Note: I'm taking a vacation in Ireland, but have scheduled some posts to be published. My husband, Michael, will be home to take our two boys to school. Michael might write a post or two while I'm gone. Please feel free to comment while I'm gone. They'll be published. : )
Posted by J at 12:51 PM
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Monday, November 3, 2008
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Today my friend and I will spend the day in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area with my friend's cousin and boyfriend. Hopefully, we'll probably see at least part of the Mall of America, a sculpture garden and a quirky little restaurant stocked with board games.
Dear Lorenzen Boys:
I love you very, very much! I'll be home in twelve days. Ask dad to show you what the Mall of America looks like. Here is a web page with a lot of pictures of the mall.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Mostly I shared the reasons behind our delayed diagnosis and pointed out my son may have been a stronger candidate for full inclusion in the schools if he had been able to get more early intervention. My major point, however, was that early childhood education teachers (both a special education and a regular education teachers) played a stronger role in both identifying the delays and the reasons and providing early intervention than the doctors did.
To make a long story short, our family doctor had no clue why my son had some delays. He wanted me to go to a psychologist who was going to charge $1000 to implement a diagnostic survey. My insurance would've only paid $400 of that amount. So, I thought that we could do without seeing the psychologist.
Instead I enrolled my child in a regular preschool program. She noticed that he was delayed and had a speech therapist watch him. That therapist agreed my son could use some intervention so the teacher helped us get an assessment done by our school system. An Individualized Educational Plan meeting was set up and my son was enrolled in an early childhood program.
Then we moved three months after he began the program. We brought the IEP with us. We decided that maybe my son should see a pediatrician instead of a family doctor. That doctor listened carefully to my concerns and suggested that my son might have autism. I thought 'no way' because I thought autism applied only to people with more challenging autistic traits.
After looking at the survey she gave me I changed my mind. After looking at my answers, she suggested we see a developmental doctor in Ann Arbor. It took eleven months to get in. The developmental doctor exasperated us when he said he liked to see children come in at a much younger. My son was six years old at the time. I would have liked to come in much sooner too, but that was not meant to be.
While we were waiting to see the developmental pediatrician I had a fall conference with my son's preschool teacher. All the therapists (occupational, speech, etc.) were there. I was going to tell them I thought my child had autism and they were going to tell me the same thing! So an assessment team of four professionals was assembled and each spent twenty hours observing my son in our home and the classroom as well as reviewing his case. He qualified as AI (Autistic Impaired). He was five and a half at the time.
Besides sharing the diagnosis story, I also told the class that my son spends half a day in regular education and half a day in special education and that he also gets speech, occupational and physical therapy. I added that I have been happy with my son's progress since the day he began the the special education program. I also talked a little bit on the subject of siblings and marriage. I think the students appreciated our stories, although I think I would have enjoyed having my son (who was in school at the time) talk more so than talking to the students by myself.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Most importantly, though, I started this blog on Make a Difference Day with the hopes that I'd help to make a difference through this endeavor. I think I did (this may be apparent if you check out most of my posts for the month of April--Autism Awareness month), though it's impossible to know how much.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Our last meltdown happened after school on Tuesday. I think he was upset because we forgot to tell him ahead of time that he would be in his MiCi room all day instead of spending the morning in his third grade classroom before going to his special education room in the afternoon. The third graders were taking the standardized MEAP test. My son takes a modified version, so he needed to be in the special education room which was the best place to take the specialized version.
He struggled with the first and second days of the MEAP testing although he didn't have a meltdown after school. That happened the third day when we forgot to warn him ahead of time about the change. He does better when he gets advance warning about changes.
I was not expecting frustrations to come flying at me the minute I saw him. The minute I spoke to my guy I knew that a meltdown was almost inevitable. He told me to go away. So I walked away for about 100 feet or so before returning, but that wasn't enough in his opinion. He wanted me to walk all the way home and then come back. It would have taken me five minutes or so. Sometimes we walk to school. Sometimes we drive. That day I happened to walk, not knowing what the future held.
I might have accommodated my son, but I had to pick up my kindergartner. So I made an attempt with my son trailing me and screaming for me to go back home. My younger son's teacher said she could keep him awhile so that I could calm my older one down. So I left my little one for a bit while I tried to calm my other one, but nothing I said or did would do unless I granted his request. So, I gave up trying to calm down the older one and picked my little guy up while my furious one tried to prevent me from doing so.
None of that was embarrassing to me. I'm doing my best to get used to meltdowns in public. They are not fun, but most of the time we manage or "muddle through" as I sometimes like to say. I managed to get my son to walk with my little guy for a little ways. However, he plopped himself belly down on the grass and sobbed before we even left the school grounds. I knelt down to rub his back and talk in a soothing voice while making sure my little guy stayed safe and nearby.
After about a minute of this, I noticed an awful smell. It didn't take long for me to discover that I had about a six inch trail of dog poo (between my ankle and knee) on my jeans. Ugh. I was so busy trying to shepherd both boys through the chaos, that I hadn't paid attention to where I was kneeling! This is where the embarrassment comes in...
My son still refused to come with me, but I couldn't stand having poo on my leg, so I walked home as fast as I could with my little one in tow. Then, I jumped in my van and picked up the older one who finally was ready to go home. Yes, I left him for a few minutes, but I was pretty sure he wasn't going anywhere. Kidnappers are more likely target an easy to claim victim rather than a tantruming ten year old who wouldn't budge from his spot.
The secretary was with him when I returned. I felt sheepish that I hadn't told her what was going on. However, I really stunk of dog crap and I've always been uncomfortable around the secretary who is not exactly a warm, fuzzy person. I thanked her quickly and guided my charge to our mini van.
Most of the time my son's meltdowns have happened at home, so having one happen in public is sort of hard--especially when my vehicle isn't nearby. I suppose I could have handled matters a little better, but I muddled through it the best I could. The important thing is that my story has a happy ending.
I was able to get us all home safely. My son calmed down, and I was able to disinfect my icky jeans and put on a clean pair. If another public meltdown occurs, I know I'll handle things a little better while being more than aware of where I sit or stand. There's nothing quite like learning from one's mistakes!
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
In preparation we packed up his three favorite stuffed froggys: Tree Froggy, Big Dot Froggy, and King Squeaky. We also took a small American flag. My son led the class in the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem while holding the flag. The point of bring the flag and froggys was to illustrate that children with autism (and other special needs children as well) often have special interest areas. I wanted to stress that a great way to reach a special needs child is to find out what those areas are in order to connect with the student.
My major role in the presentation was that of a guide, filling in the blanks as my son presented and giving him suggestions about what to say to the class. He's a much better lecturer than I am and has no fear about getting up in front of a lot of people. It's a strength that gives us great hope for his future.
My little one wanted to teach too, so we brought a couple of his stuffed cats to show and he stood up front with us. As the guide, I made sure he was able to say a couple things to the class.
My husband also came to the presentation. He said a few positive words about our son's future and pointed out that parents of special needs children have different backgrounds and different levels of parent involvement in their child's education. He was right in his element as he works as a librarian at Central Michigan University. Talking to students is very much part of his job.
It was our first time presenting as a family. As a whole, we presented for about forty five minutes. It worked out having our youngest son there because I was able to make a point about the importance of balancing the needs of our older son (who has autism) with the needs of our younger one, who is neurotypical. I also was able to point out the difference between the educational journeys of the two. My youngest will likely stay in the same school (unless we move) from Kindergarten to fourth grade. My oldest will have been in four different schools since Kindergarten by the time he finishes the fourth grade.
According to a follow-up email from the instructor, our presentation was a success. He said that the students really liked our son and that they would have enjoyed having him in their classrooms. In turn, we appreciated the students. They were attentive and we had numerous smiles coming our way as we presented.
The instructor and my son's teacher was kind enough to present us with a gift card to Subway, my son's favorite restaurant. I showed it to my son that night. He showed great excitement over the gift.
"We're going tomorrow!" he said. So we went last night. It was a great bonus for doing something we all enjoyed.
Note: With the idea of inclusion and mainstreaming popular nowadays, it is a great idea for general education students to take at least one course in special education. If I had my way, they'd all take a class just on autism as this condition is becoming increasingly prevalent. Chances are, most of the future teachers will have special needs children (many with autism) included in their classroom.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
When we took our most recent trip to my son's beloved state of Ohio (our relatives live there) my son with ASD surprised me quite a bit. I told them about our trip on our way home from school the day before we were to leave.
"Come on, let's go pack" he told his brother when we arrived home that afternoon. I reminded them that they shared a suitcase. Neither one objected. They pulled one suitcase out of the closet. Instead of fighting over the limited space of the suitcase, they were partners. I didn't hear a word of argument while they were packing.
I had told the oldest that he needed to put two of everything (shirts, jeans, pajamas, etc.), but realized that he probably wouldn't quite get it right without a visual prompt such as a list. Again I was surprised, but not by the fact that he followed my instructions. He didn't and neither did his little brother. The surprise was in the extra stuff that was packed.
Amongst the jumble of jeans, t-shirts, and underwear was a Scooby Doo, a white stuffed cat, a tiny black and white stuffed cat, one small stuffed frog and two big stuffed ones. The suitcase wouldn't close. The stuffies had to go, although each boy was later allowed to toss their choice of toys into the van as stowaways.
As for clothes, they pretty much packed what they needed along with lots of extra underwear. Go figure. Still I had to revise by throwing in a pair of jeans here and a pajama top there. I also sorted out the jumbled suitcase by separating the ten year old's clothes from the five year old's stuff. The end result was being packed a day earlier than normal. Yay for the boys. Yay for being ahead of schedule!
Thursday, October 16, 2008
"It's not an announcement, it's Peak programming, " he'll tell me. (Peak is the name of the after school program at our school. I'm a stay at home mom, so there is no real need to sign the boys up.)
"Well, don't do the Peak programming thing then. You look kind of silly when you do that," I told him.
The ensuing silence meant my plea would be pretty much ignored. Sure enough. Once the whistle blew and everyone was in line, my guy went up in front of everyone. Bouncing around a bit with a big smile on his face he made his announcement. I witnessed it because I usually stand with my kindergartner (at his request) until the bell rings. All I can say about his announcement is that it really doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
Anyway, the little one's line is right next to the one for the MiCI class. My son is the only one in his class who lines up there every morning. On the other side is a class of third or fourth graders.
This announcement thing has been going on since school began. Some of the kids have figured out I'm his mom. They look at me with puzzled expressions. I shrug my shoulders and smile as if to say "that's just the way it is." Trying to physically stop him would just cause a scene, so I let him do his thing.
He did it again this morning. But this time he added something just for me.
"See mom. No harm done!" he said, green eyes twinkling. And then he went into the school.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
If you want to celebrate popcorn month, please see this link for a couple of cute craft ideas. As for me, I've had my fill of popcorn for awhile. I can honestly say that I fully celebrated National Popcorn Month to its fullest.
Last Friday I was a popcorn mom. I spent two-and-a-half hours filling, closing and delivering bags of popcorn in the school cafeteria. I probably could have popped a couple of batches or so, but I left the popcorn machine to the rest of the crew since unfamiliar gadgets/machinery and I don't really mix. In all, the school custodian, two aides in the Mici room, the teacher and I filled 352 orders, plus at least 30 small extra bags for the office. My son and his classmates helped a little here and there.
Friday popcorn days are fundraising opportunities for individual classrooms. Most schools in my area have popcorn Fridays. Each classroom gets assigned one or two popcorn Fridays a year. The bags sell for 50 cents a piece and are sold to staff and students. Sales tend to go up if a prize is offered for each bag. That was the promise last Friday. A Pixie Stix or two was popped (oops, sorry about the pun-well maybe not!) into each bag. My son's classroom did quite well in terms of profits.
Though it was a lot of busy work, it was fun and easy way for me to volunteer for the school. I see many popcorn Fridays in my future. I'm also predicting a chance to chaperon a field trip for a certain lucky popcorn Friday classroom. My son's teacher is thinking about using the money for an outing.
A Special Note: My guy (who has autism) was given the opportunity to make the popcorn announcement over his school's p.a. system. He was right in his element as he has been known to make announcements from our street corner (to my dismay). So I was glad he had the chance to do an announcement in a proper setting. The teacher said he did a good job. : )
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Most of the time my husband and I prefer to to do the activity planning. Often we'll discuss plans after both boys have gone to sleep. However, that is not always possible. It used to be that we were able to spell out our ideas to each other. But now, our third grader can read and spell pretty well. He proved it one day when he said he wanted to go to "S-u-b-w-a-y" for dinner. See? He can spell his favorite place to eat, so that is not an option anymore. So the next step was to try to talk in a way that we (or at least I) thought was beyond him.
We try to mix up our restaurants a bit when we go out. But every once in awhile we decide to go to Subway. The quick service of fast food restaurants make eating out easier with my son with ASD and fortunately his favorite place is one of the healthiest places to eat. One day when we were trying to figure out our plans with little ears around us, I suggested this very place without using the word.
"We should get a thingamabob at the whatchamacalit," I said.
Somehow my husband understood that I meant our son's favorite place and agreed that is where we would go. So we did.
A few weeks later my son asserted himself (well tried to anyway) as the family activity planner again. What did he say?
"We should get a thingamabob at the whatchamacalit! And I know what that is," he said.
"What is it?" I said, having a hunch what he would say.
"It's a sub at Subway! That's S-u-b-w-a-y."
That pretty much sums it up. My days of subterfuge are pretty much over!
Thursday, October 9, 2008
It was an overcast sort of evening. My husband, five year old and I tossed first a Frisbee and then a football around in our front yard for awhile. My ten year old with autism took a mild interest in our activities. He would join us for a bit then go off and either watch us from a distance go off to do his own thing before joining us again. We were encouraging but not forceful in getting him to participate.
Our five year old caught both the Frisbee and the football quite a bit. Our ten year old (who has had physical therapy at school for at least three years now) tried, but missed most of the tosses coming his way. He would hold his arms out straight in sort of an awkward fashion, but wouldn't really watch the ball as it came to him.
When it was getting near our boys' 7 p.m. shower time we let everyone finish or at least try to finish on a good note by catching the ball. My husband and I both caught our tosses and the five year old also caught his on the first try. However, my little athlete protested when I picked up the ball to try again (unsuccessfully for the second time) after our ten year old missed the throw.
"Hey, why'd he get to do it again?"
"We want him to have a chance to catch the ball. I'll give him three tries. You caught yours on the first try." The protester didn't argue with me anymore.
"OK C, ready?"
"One, two, three!" I said as I tossed the ball.
Suddenly my son no longer appeared ready because my "three" competed with another sound. Honking geese completely and totally distracted my son. A group of them were flying over our home in the usual lopsided v-fashion in a sure sign of fall. Instead of looking at the ball flying towards him, my guy looked at the geese.
"Hey it's a gaggle of geese!" he shouted, his gaze toward the sky.
The football reached him then. He must of sensed it somehow or saw it from the corner of his eye. His arms snapped upward in a reflexive action. He caught the ball! He caught the ball? How'd he do that?
"Good job, buddy!" I exclaimed. My other two guys cheered the successful reception as well.
The ten year old smiled, but then repeated his observation of the geese. He'd keep repeating that until one of us affirmed what he said.
"Yes, that's a gaggle of geese. Gaggle--that's a good word," I said. My guy was satisfied with that and went into the house. I then looked at my husband.
"He was looking at the geese!" I said, referring to my son's unexpected catch.
"But it counts," he replied.
"Yes I guess it does," I said.
Yes it it does.
* American style football