Monday, September 29, 2008

Blog Award Day

Mommy Dearest from The Quirk Factor was kind enough to pass this award along to me. I tried to find a translation for the word "proximidade" online to no avail. Proximidade might mean "now" as that makes sense in context with the other words. I worked out the meaning of those words to be something like "This blog gives credit to..."

Anyway, One can infer from the rules that the award is for having a charming blog. Thank you much my fellow Michigander!

The Rules:

Leave the following message on your post when you pass the award on to their chosen eight blogger buddies.
“These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.”

Now to pass on the award. Ooh, this is usually hard for me because unlike Mommy Dearest who was able to name not eight but nine winners, I'm the introverted sort who is sloowly expanding her blogging circle. I had to work hard to find worthy winners, but I managed! For being charming, this blog gives credit now to:

1. Marla Baltes

2. Autism, Blessing Challenges (private)

3. Questgirl's Xanga Site

4-8. Five blogs I handpicked from entries on the blog Faces of Autism by Casdok (who gets an honorary one). This award is designed for people to reach out to each other which is similar to the mission of "Faces" which is designed to help people in the autism community reach out to others.

That said, I will grant this award to some of the most recent family blogs that have been posted at the site. They are: Our Life with Autism; A Mother's Love Story; Matthew's Autism Journey; A Walkabouts Weblog; and A World Away.

All these sites seem deserving of the award as I've enjoyed reading a least two posts (in some cases many more) of all these blogs. I keep telling myself that I need to get out in the blogosphere a little more, but I guess I'm taking baby steps in true toddler fashion; take a burst of steps, stop and then toddle a little further. This was another burst of progress. : )

Update: Had a technical glitch with some linkage problems. They are fixed now. : )

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Promising New Autism Blog is Launched

As many moms and dads in the autism blogging community already know, Ms. Casdok from Mother of Shrek just launched a new blog in honor of her handsome son's twentieth birthday (Sept. 24). What can I say? Word gets out fast.

The blog is named Faces of Autism. Each post features a photo of a different person and a link if applicable. So far, both genders, a variety of ages, and at least three different continents are represented.

If you or your loved one has autism, please consider contributing by emailing a photo and a link to Casdok at If you are concerned about privacy issues, please note that many of those profiled (minors in particular) used just their first names, initials or a made up name. One does not have to have a blog or website to participate.

Yep, my guy is already featured in case you are wondering. Us moms always seem to have a photo or two to share. The title the post for my guy is Vowles Viking, which is a nod to the elementary school he attends.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A 'Bucket List' and a Birthday

I remember when I was the age of my oldest son (seen below). It seems like yesterday. Then, I thought all my friends' parents were old. Most of the parents I knew then were in their thirties...

I didn't feel so old when I turned 30--seven years ago to this very day. (Yes, it's my birthday!) I vowed not to despair or worry about my age. Instead I created a short list of things to do between the ages of 30 and 40. This post is about my list. The title was inspired in part by the title of the excellent movie which has now been released on DVD.

However, I believe that I was really inspired by a touching novel by Nicholas Sparks. It was called A Walk to Remember and was published two or three years before my thirtieth birthday. The main character of the novel (made into a film in 2002) was an eighteen year old young woman dying of leukemia. The plot of the novel revolved around a list of 100 things she wanted to do before she died. Her love interest found her list and did everything he could to make her dreams come true. Although both the Bucket List and 'Walk' both feature dying characters, both stories are inspiring as they are more about living than dying.

Unlike those characters, I'm planning to be around for a while and hope to make little bucket lists every time I reach a new decade milestone (40, 50 60, etc.) Hopefully I'll get the opportunity to make quite a few more lists!

My very first list has only three items and at 37, I'm very close to having everything crossed off.

So here it is:

1. Have a baby!

Here he is looking all grown up five and a half years later! I was 31 when he was born in 2003 and although I haven't changed quite as much in five years, I too look a bit older now.

Here is a photo from when we were about to take our new addition home to complete our little family of four. I remember it took forever before a nurse said it was OK to leave hospital. Our then four-and-a-half-year-old boy had a really hard time waiting to leave and was bouncing off the walls of the tiny hospital room. I think we had been forgotten until my husband stopped by the nurses desk to see what was going on.

That really was our most difficult challenge in terms of having a new baby and a small child with ASD. We gave our oldest a gift and all our friends and family members doted on him nearly as much as they did his tiny brother. We were fortunate to have a fairly easy time with him getting used to having another child in the house. OK, well he did have a hard time when his little brother was around 18 months of age. He had a difficult time transitioning when his brother woke up from his nap. He wanted him to stay in his crib, so we had half an hour struggles for awhile.

2. Get a Master's Degree.

I earned my Masters Degree in Humanities in 2006. It was a fun degree to earn for the most part. I was able to take a Charlie Chaplin class, a History of Paris Class, a Nonfiction Writing class, a workshop about Dracula in the movies, and a class on James Joyce amongst quite a few others.

One of the posts I wrote awhile back (Me too) is a reworked version of a story I wrote as a student studying nonfiction writing. Actually, I wrote a lot about my son and autism in general for that class. I was contemplating writing a memoir, but decided to create this blog instead. Though I enjoyed some of the classes, it was still a difficult period. I needed a lot of babysitting help and about two years of counseling to get me through that time. It was a stressful time for my child with autism because I had to be gone a lot in order to attend classes. The writing and the counseling helped me to heal as a person struggling with day-to-day life and to finish my course work. One class that influenced a big decision in my life was the one I took on James Joyce. One of my favorite books I read for that class was was a book of short stories, Dubliners, by James Joyce. I really was able to get a sense of Dublin and that time period in general. Further, Dubliners was much easier to read than Joyce's Ulysses. That one was a difficult read to say the least, but I did try. My plan B paper (an option to a thesis) was all about trying to understand that novel which ranks at the top of this list of the best books ever written.

I've always loved (most) things that are Irish, although I'm of English and German descent. Perhaps that is why I enjoyed the class on James Joyce so much. Regardless, I do suspect that class influenced my decision regarding the last item on my list.

3. Take a trip beyond the boundaries of the North American Continent.
I'm going to Ireland soon! I'll be travelling with a good family friend, S.M., from November 2 to November 14. Actually, only ten days will be spent in Ireland. The rest will be spent travelling. My friend and I will be part of a tour group, so our itinerary is all planned out. Hopefully, my travelling companion and I will use some of the free time to check out the James Joyce Library in Dublin or to take a James Joyce tour.

My husband will stay in Mt. Pleasant to take care of the boys and to get them to school everyday. I know I'll miss my boys terribly when I'm gone, but I'm pretty excited. The only other countries I've visited involved a day trip to Mexico when I was 14, a few days in Canada for a senior class trip (more than a half a lifetime ago), and four hours in Victoria, Canada during an Alaskan cruise two years ago.

Extra note: My husband told my boys this morning I was 50! I corrected that pretty fast. Although I prefer aging to the alternative, I still have thirteen years to go before I get to the age he mentioned.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Love Languages: descriptions and a quiz

I learned about love languages years ago when I attended a session sponsored by the Gratiot-Isabella Regional Education Service District (RESD). The lesson stuck with me over the years and knowing what the five love languages helped me to understand myself and those I love the most including my son with autism.

The languages were identified by Dr. Gary Chapman, an author on the subject of love and marriage. The five love languages are: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. My guy with ASD appreciates words of affirmation, quality time and receiving gifts. Physical touch probably would rank at the bottom of his list as he really hasn't ever been much of a hugger though he tolerates it alright.

If you want to see what your love language is here is a link to a 30-question quiz. The best thing about this quiz is that you don't have to supply any emails or personal information to see the results. The results pop up right away with a brief explanation of how to interpret them.

P.S. As a parent, I found that praise in particular (which falls under words of affirmation category) goes along way with both of my sons. I find I feel better too, whenever I offer them positive, affirming words. Take care--jml.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

My son: Will you be my teacher?

My son: "Will you be my third grade teacher?"

Me: "I'm sorry. I can't."

My son: "Well, Mrs. C**n (a regular third grade teacher) retired. You can be her replacement."

Me: "It doesn't quite work that way. I don't have a teaching degree and you need that to be a teacher."

My son: "Oh."

This conversation happened before school started and it pulled at my heartstrings. He was hoping I could be his third grade teacher so he wouldn't have to go into MICi room. He just wanted to be a regular third grader, which isn't quite the best situation for him. As of now he is doing fine with his arrangement of spending his mornings in third grade and his afternoons in the special education room.

For a while, I wish I could have been his teacher. It might look like homeschooling would be the best option, but my guy is one that likes to get out of the house everyday. He needs a lot of stimulation and I alone couldn't provide what he needs on a daily basis.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Photo Essay: An Interactive Abstract Sculpture

There is a sculpture on the local college campus that is best shown rather than described.
From all angles the work of art is...

an irresistible piece of lawn furniture that...

should be explored from the top...

to the very...


in a most harmonious way.
Photos: Kayci Bouck
Essay: Julie Lorenzen
Location: Central Michigan University
Artist: Unknown
Title: Unknown, but the sculpture is now nicknamed "Harmony" by Julie.

Template Change at Autism Blog

Periodically I like to change my template. Anyone who regularly reads this blog may have been thrown off temporarily by the sudden, unexpected change from blue to orange. It was a leap from one side of the color wheel to the other. I'm feeling the upcoming fall season!!

Changes in our home such as a new coat of paint only come with a great deal of planning and stress. Life becomes temporarily disrupted when a home improvement project comes a long. My quirky husband is the one who seems to be bothered the most by such changes. I try to paint whenever he leaves. The boys, including the one on the spectrum, get excited by painting projects. They become so excited that I have to arrange for babysitting unless I want paint in unintended places. The last project took four days and I do not relish the idea of future, but necessary painting projects.
In contrast, I clicked through the available templates late last evening, selected the one I contemplated a week or so earlier, clicked on the save template button and was finished. The whole process took five minutes at the most and was stressful to no one in my household. It was an easy way to get a desired change.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

An Early Morning Conversation

When Words do not Connect
"I think I found a math tutor for our son."
"Me who?"
"Me who?"
"Me, Julie!"
"Oh, you. I thought you meant a Chinese College student."
"I guess I can see how you thought that. No, I meant I'll tutor him."
"Ok, then."

Friday, September 12, 2008

ASA's Disaster Tips for Families Affected by Autism

Today I'm still remembering yesterday (Sept. 11th) and also thinking about all the lives in the Gulf Coast area that will soon be affected by Hurricane Ike. Autism Society of America just sent out a timely list of tips of how to handle both man-made and natural disasters. Most of these tips were written for everyone with a few extra instructions included for people with special needs. Below are the three major tips that are covered in the list. Please go to the link for more detailed explanations.

1. Practice Calm

2. Prepare in advance for immediate needs before a disaster strikes

3. Prepare in advance for immediate needs after a disaster strikes.

Here are some tips for adults or families who have extra challenges:

  1. Contact your local emergency information management office now. Many local emergency management offices maintain registers of people with disabilities so they can be located and assisted quickly in a disaster.
  2. Wearing a medical alert tag or bracelet to identify your [or your child's] disability may help in case of an emergency.
  3. Store a writing pad and pencils to communicate with others.
  4. Keep a flashlight handy to signal whereabouts to other people and for illumination to aid in communication.

My thoughts: Parents should remember to keep a photograph of each respective family member with them in case an unexpected separation occurs in the midst of chaos. Also, if possible it might be a good idea to beat the rush (to avoid getting stuck for hours in traffic) and evacuate before it is mandated if a disaster such as a hurricane is likely to strike.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Update on U.S. National Health Insurance Legislation

Today, I must give a hat tip to H. L. Doherty at Autism Reality NB for emailing me about a post that John W. Lloyd just wrote at EBD blog. The email was quite helpful because yesterday I wrote a post about the U.S. 'system', (available therapies, legislation, schooling in the U.S,. etc) but did not mention National (U.S.) efforts to pass legislation that will require health insurance companies to cover mental health therapies and services. Here is the excerpt of John's most timely post (especially in terms of this blog!):

"According to a correspondent, negotiators for the US House and Senate are near or have reached a compromise that reconciles H.R. 1424 (”No Discrimination in Health Insurance Act of 2008″) and S. 558 (”Mental Health Parity Act of 2007″). These two bills are different versions of similar legislation that will require private health insurance plans to cover mental health (and other) services, just as they cover other conditions. This is, excuse me, HUGE for families of children and youths with emotional and behavioral disorders."

Further, John noted that the U.S. House version of the legislation is titled "The Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act." Paul Wellstone was a U.S. Senator from Minnesota who died in a plane crash in 2002 along with his wife and daughter. His sons David and Mark co-chair Wellstone Action nonprofit advocacy group.

My thoughts: Yes, the passage of such an Act would be huge for families. I hope to soon read a lot more about this proposed legislation! I just hope our President will approve the Act if it is indeed passed through the House and the Senate. It would be heartbreaking if an Executive veto puts an end to our hopes. We will just have to wait and see.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

An Attempt to Explain the U.S. 'System'

Occasionally I get an email or a comment that inspires a post. This one was inspired by a question I received from a blogger in the UK about our system and what kinds of government assistance families with children who have special needs get in the United States. I wrote back that this issue is messy and complicated, but that I would try my best to give an answer that was accurate, clear, and concise.

As for accuracy, Michigan and the Midwestern U.S. in general is my area of expertise so if I misstated something in regards to a different U.S. region, please let me know. I also may need correction about our welfare system since it's been awhile since I've read about it. Bring the dissenting opinions and corrections on! I'm hoping to learn something new!!

The benefits and amount of services in the U.S. for families who have children with autism depend on four factors. They are:

1. How old an individual is: (The U.S. is so behind in providing adequate services and accommodations for adults with autism that it is alarming). Some individuals may qualify for disability payments on the national level and some assistance at the local level. Notice that I said "may."

An adult with autism living at home would probably qualify for disability as well as those who have independent living arrangements. In terms of children, my ten year old son gets speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy through his public school at no extra cost. Most public schools are funded by state and local taxes. The services we get are somewhat limited in terms of the amount of time he spends with his therapists per week. Qualified students get special services in U.S. public schools until the age of 26.

2. Income level of families: Families who have low income levels and children under a certain age get a great deal more assistance from local governments than those who have good, but not really high incomes and/or adult children. Middle-class folks are kind of left out in getting services that exist outside of the school system (Applied Behavioral Analysis for example).

The only way to pay for expensive therapies for many middle class people is to rely on health insurance usually available through a good job. Unfortunately, health insurance companies do not seem to be keen on covering the cost of therapies for people with autism. Further, it is getting harder to get a job that has good health insurance as a benefit. Manufacturers are fleeing the U.S. for places like Mexico in order to avoid paying for expensive benefits like insurance.

Agencies, businesses, camps or special private schools in the big cities are most likely to provide scholarships for only low income families or those under a certain pay scale. The cost for such services is very high for everyone else.

Also, the issue of health insurance mostly applies to state governments. For example, families in Pennsylvania recently celebrated because state lawmakers passed a law mandating health insurance companies to pay for the services/therapies for up to $36,000 per year for people who have ASD. See related article here.

Louisiana is another state with a similar law. According to another article, by January 1, 2009 health insurance companies in Louisiana will be required by law for therapies for individuals with autism who are under 17. We don't have a law like that yet in Michigan, but such legislation has been introduced to the House of Representative. See related post at the blog Autism Bulletin here. So, far there doesn't seem to be an age limit attached to the Michigan Bill.

3. Where one lives makes a difference on the ability to find certain services. There seems to be more services, special schools, etc in the Eastern and Western U.S. than in the south and in the middle U.S. The best place to live in Michigan for availability of services is in big cities like Detroit and Grand Rapids. Even in in a small city, we in Mt. Pleasant cannot easily find a professional who provides ABA. Also, where I live in the Midwestern U.S., it's virtually unheard of to send one's child to a boarding school--typical or special needs. It's more common in an Eastern state like Massachusetts to opt for either a "typical" or "special needs" boarding school.

4. Ability to obtain diagnosis of autism. Those families with children who have obvious symptoms of autism and difficulty functioning have an easier time getting services through the schools than those who do not. My family is lucky that we didn't have to fight to get services provided by the school system. Most families really have to fight because, as in the United Kingdom, it's an issue of "availability of funds". Special education teachers and therapists cost school systems far more than general education teachers. Schools do not like to give labels of AI.(Autism Impairment). Unfortunately the label is required to get school services.

In a nut shell: If one has a medium-sized income and/or a child with Asperger's Syndromeor barely noticeable autism, then it's nearly impossible to obtain services in many places in the U.S without going deeply into dept. The best services available for the group "in the middle" seems to be provided by foundations/organizations created by parents of special needs children. These parents provide free or low cost services by raising money and grant writing. The founder of my son's free day (summer) camp, Max's Place, is a single mom! She charges a nominal fee of $50 and arranges for benefactors for those who would have difficulty paying that fee.

Autism in the U.S. is considered a health issue (rather than a social issue as it is considered in the U.K.), which is not a good thing because our very expensive health care system has been disastrous in terms of affordability for decades.

As far as government assistance for cost of living expenses, low income families here may be eligible for a general welfare package called workfare. Benefits might include food stamps, a check for bills, etc. and medicaid or medicare (government health insurance).

There is also a government program called WIC that provides diapers and food supplies to woman who have children five or under. Schools here in the United States have a free or reduced lunch (and sometimes breakfast!) system for those children whose families cannot pay full price.

Those carers or caregivers (as we call them in the U.S.) who have children with special needs may also qualify to get a Social Security Income (SSI) check and qualify to get money for respite care hours. In my area, SSI and respite care hours are taken care of by Community Mental Health. As in the UK, case workers are assigned to the families. Autism Advocates have recently been having rallies/marches at our Nation's Capitol, Washington, D.C. and at various state Capitols.

A hat tip goes to Casdok at Mother of Shrek, for inspiring this post. FYI for Casdok fans: here is a friendly reminder to wish her a happy belated birthday (Sept. 7) if you haven't done so already.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Update: Fundraising and Another QAS

QAS equals Quirky Awareness Stunts (QAS)

A news article about a dad from South Africa doing a "Jail4Bail" fundraiser caught my eye and I couldn't resist blogging about it. I've blogged about Quirky Awareness Stunts before and may do so again and again. I'm intrigued by how effective this type of fund and/or awareness raising event seems to be--especially in attracting media attention.

Earlier this year I wrote a post about a dad from Canada who spontaneously (or so he said) walked about two hundred miles in the middle of the Canadian winter to his nation's Capitol, Ottawa, to raise autism awareness. My favorite QAS , however, is when a basketball coach, coached a game in bare feet to raise money in order to make sure children in Africa had shoes. This stunt had nothing to do with autism, but it definitely was quirky. And "quirky" is a word that parents of children with autism know well.

The blog worthy stunt of the moment is being put in jail to earn money for my favorite cause: autism. This one took place in South Africa. Here is an excerpt of the article for this "Jail for Bail Event:"

"Gerhard Pieterse, executive director of Autism Western Cape, is a free man after being released from the jail cell he occupied for 74 days to raise funds and awareness for the organisation. Pieterse was locked up by the Table View police on June 16 in a cell at the Bayside Mall. His goal was to raise R1-million* for Autism Western Cape and the Table View Community Policing Forum. He earned Autism Western Cape about **R600 000 and Pieterse is thrilled with this."This is a challenging economy, and we raised about ***R8 000 a day," he said."

My thoughts: My husband mentioned that while Mr. Pieterses efforts, may be considered noble by some people, his stunt could be viewed as undermining the criminal justice system. I wonder if police officers, judges, lawyer, etc. would agree with him?

My own reaction was that while the basketball coach hurt only his bare feet, the other two performing the stunts I wrote about were men with families that seemed to suffer as a result of their respective efforts. If you click on the link for the article of Mr. Pieterse, "the prisoner", then you will see that he has an eleven year old daughter with autism who missed her dad while he spent 74 days in jail. She missed him to the point that her behavior deteriorated over the time period of which he was gone. When he returned, her behavior improved.

In contrast the neuro-typical Canadian daughter of the trekking dad expressed pride. That was after his performance. During the performance she felt something much different: anxiety about her dad's well being. On her Facebook site it was evidant that she felt a great deal of anxiety about her middle age dad who has health issues, especially when she asked for readers of her site to help her track and look out for him while he was out walking. Apparently, the Canadian dad just set out on his long, cold walk without really communicating his intentions with his family.

I mentioned before that it if weren't for my family I'd trek across this country to raise money and awareness for autism. However, I suppose hens like me usually don't wander far from the nest for too long when young ones are still in it. While I'd love to contribute so greatly to a cause close to my heart, I'd also consider the cost to my family.

*R 1 000 000 =$124,300.86

**R600,000 =74,580.52


Friday, September 5, 2008

Grief Update: Graduate Student Seeks Parents to Participate in Grief Study

A Graduate Student and future therapist, Shirl Patterson, at Spring Arbor University University (which is Michigan based) read my post on autism and parental grief and contacted me about finding parents to participate in her research about the topic. Please email her at griefresearch [put in "at" sign symbol here] if you'd like to participate.

According to Ms. Patterson, confidentiality is guaranteed and participation involves filling out questionnaires/inventories that will take an estimated hour to complete. Once you have contacted her, she will you send you a consent form which is required to be signed before she sends out the research materials to be filled out by participants. The researcher is hoping to have all responses by mid-October.

She became interested in this area of research after losing a family member unexpectedly 27 years ago and also while working with families associated with an SXI class. Of how her project came about she writes:

"This started out as an assignment for my Research Class. The class required us to do a write up for a mock research study. I felt my project was important enough to complete, so I went to the review committee on my own and asked if I could get permission to conduct the study. Since I am specializing in Grief and Loss I had to look up journal articles on the subject. [There is] not a whole lot and some are not recent. So I also felt that by doing this study, I am hoping to get it published so that students and professionals alike, can access current articles."

While she would love to hear from moms as well, she is particularly hoping to hear from dads as she has received a stronger response from mothers so far. Also, this study is in inclusive in terms of any diagnosis a parent's child may have. For example, a parent of a child with Down's Syndrome would be welcome to participate in addition to parents who have children with autism.

The consent form that you will receive after emailing her of your interest in participating includes a confidentiality statement, further explanations about the project as well as the contact information of the project overseers at Spring Arbor. Her project has been approved by a Human studies approval committee at the university. Research transactions will take place via email unless participant does not have access to a scanner. In that case, transactions will be conducted through the mail.

My thoughts: Ms. Patterson and I both independently discovered that there is a need for more information about grief and diagnosis. As a researcher, she has become aware of more information that fits this area of interest than I have. I'm hoping to write one or two future posts with information she has shared with me. Thanks Ms. Patterson for embarking on such an important research topic.

Please send any questions about this project to the researcher's email address which can be found in the first paragraph. Thank you.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

From my Boys: A 'Song' for the First Day of School

Photo: my two boys, smiling and ready for their first full day of third grade and kindergarten respectively.

My boys were so happy walking to school for their first full day on this bright, warm, and sunny morning. A lady walking three German shepherds smiled at them because they were singing:

"We're on our way to school,
We're on our way to school,
We're so happy,
We're on our way to school,
We're on our way to school,
We're going to have fun,
On the first day of school!"

I think they might have made it up as they went along, although it is possible they may have picked it up from an educational cartoon. (Let me know if you heard something like that on television.!) Anyway, it's not a masterpiece of a song, but the cheery little ditty perked up the mood of this mom who was walking her baby to school for his first day of kindergarten.

Anyway in a serendipitous moment, I found a post (via Tulip Mom's blog roll) by a mom, Jen at Absolutely Bananas, who wrote sweet words on the eve of sending off her little one for the first day of kindergarten. I couldn't have expressed my feelings any better than what her wonderful words did.

Monday, September 1, 2008

A Story About Our "Scooter Boy"

Here, my radiant scooter boy is about ready to take off down driveway and onto the street on a day well before his scooter started to get locked up. Some of his happiest free moments of his summer vacation were spent on that scooter. Summer is great because our street isn't quite as busy or obstructed. Last week, however, our empty street turned into a full one when the fall semester began at Central Michigan University.

What this means is that college students start lining up their cars alongside our yard for a short walk (five or ten minutes) to campus. Parking alongside our road means the students don't have to pay a parking fee to park in a university-owned lot and this results in a much narrower street--especially if cars are parked on both sides of the road.

So for our son's own safety, my husband and I have decided to lock the scooter up in the trunk of our little Chevy Cavalier during the week when the road is too full. It might sound a little mean, but if we didn't do that our guy who has mild autism would sneak off with it despite our warnings. He'll wear is helmet diligently, look for cars and scooter in the range dictated by mom, but cannot appreciate the importance of abstaining from his favorite activity for saftety reasons.

My boys and I travelled most of this holiday weekend (Labor Day), but returned on Sunday. Today my scooter boy was supposed to get his scooter back because the college students had the day off from classes and our road looked clear.

Unfortunately, it appears that at some point my ten year old tried to free his scooter by using his own key--a wooden stick. Some of it, I discovered, broke of into the lock. My key only went a quarter of the way in. I peeked in the keyhole, saw a small chunk of wood and instantly knew what happened. The guilty party tried to deny putting a stick into the keyhole, but mom knows her boy all too well.

An ice pick, knife and a two-pronged corn on the cob holder failed to dislodge the wood chip. Scooter boy didn't get to ride his scooter after all today. I felt sort of bad for him, but am hoping a lesson of sorts has been learned. A locksmith will be called soon and hopefully our bound-to-be joyful ten year old will get his Razor scooter back next weekend.