Friday, July 27, 2007

Life is Good.

More reminders that Life Is Good:

I have a quilt on my bed that has sealife on it. The boys have decided it is a "pool" and they are "whales"- and dive on.
Signing the entire alphabet with Joey singing the ABC song.
Andy's eyes when he gets a new dinosaur- even though he has more than I can readily count.
The squeals of joy when you hit I-95 and announce, "Let's go on an adventure!" They just know they are going someplace good.
Listening to Allan singing the goodnight song he made up himself, just for his boys.
Andy chasing kitties.
Baking cookies- Andy and Joey like to take turns putting the cookies on the sheets and squishing them flat. (Next step: getting them to roll the balls!)
Joey reading the clock and then saying, "what comes next?" And when you answer, he says, with all enthusiasm, "You're RIGHT! Good job!"
Asking Joey what comes next at 12:59, and he says, "One o'clock!"
Swimming with boys as they run through sprinklers.
Andy asking for one more hug. One more kiss. One more story?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Big Ten

Taking up the thread from Mom-NOS, here are ten ways Joey and I are alike:

1. Neither of us like hot water on our hands or feet. Water than my mom thought cold used to send me screaming when I was a kid. Joey hates hot stuff, too.

2. Neither of us like to wear shoes. Bare feet are best.

3. We both love numbers. Onceupon a time, I was the top math student in my high school. Counting is comforting.

4. We both collapse when tickled. As in, lose all motor control, heap on the floor.

5. We both love Christmas, and sparkly Christmas ornaments. We both love nothing better than to spend an afternoon at Valley View.

6. We both love to cuddle. Even when Joey was teeny tiny, he loved nothing better than to be in bed with Mom and Dad, getting squished. :)

7. We both love the ocean. We could just stand at the surf and watch the undulation of the sea forever.

8. When in doubt, we both smile. Joey excudes positiveness. I have often been asked, "do you always smile?" I wish I could honestly reply "yes."

9. We both have little patience for eating. It takes me a lot of effort and energy to sit until everyone at the dinner table is finished- as soon as I have eaten, I'm ready to move on. Ditto for him. Sitting still is not something either of us do well.

10. We both have scattered interests. I know the common idea of autistics is a hyper-focus on a narrow range of topics, but for us, we tend to scatter and not hold too much interest in a single topic for too long. I'll watch one movie over and over for a few days straight, but then my brain moves on to hyper-focus on the next topic. Joey does this- he hones in for a few days, then moves on.

Ten ways I am like Andy:

1. We both love strawberry stuff. Yum!

2. We both like to look at packages in the graocery store. Some labels are really interesting!

3. We both like animals. I wanted to be a vet once upon a time and another life ago. Andy just adores anything furry. Or scaly. Or breathing.

4. We both have the devil in us. And that's a good thing.

5. We both like to look at books in bed. Usually together. :)

6. We both like flowers. I like looking at them and smelling them. He likes pulling them apart and finding out how they grow.

7. We both find car rides relaxing. He still gets to take a nap.

8. Neither of us like cacophony. We both find it highly disorienting and irritating. Andy will actually scream, then pace and track like Joey after being exposed to sudden loud noise, like when the band starts up at church.

9. Neither of us like cheese goldfish. I prefer plain. He likes pretzel.

10. We both like to make things. Andy loves little art projects, even if he likes keeping his fingers clean.

Anyone else want to play?


As an art historian, part of what I am studying and analyzing is how people communicate. You have an idea (or your patron has an idea) and it must be communicated. How will you acheive this? What will need to be shown? How much of that message should be overt, and how much covert? What images and techniques will be used to convey meaning?

One thing I have notived is that when communicating a new idea to a culture, it is often communicated using images and ideas the culture is already familiar with to get the new idea across. For example, in early Christian art, much of the early imagery is taken from pre-Christian art. These images had meaning for early Christians because before they were Christians, they had been non-Christians; their culrue had been non-Christian.
Images of Apollo, with the connotations of light, power, and protection made excellent early Christ figures. The bearded Zeus, with the connotations of kingship, power, and maturity became a later favorite, particularly the image of Zeus at Olympia, where he sits enthroned (the image of Lincoln at teh Lincoln Memorial is also based on the Olympia Zeus). The Good Shepherd, with its roots in images of sacrificers and devotees combined with teh idea of the shepherd who protects his flock was another great favorite (usually in the youthful Apollo guise). Early Christians quickly and clearly got the idea of who Christ was and what Christianity was about by viewing these images.

This is a useful strategy for speaking to people about things they don't understand: put it into terms and ideas that they do understand, and go from there. Images and words are metaphors and analogies; re-presentations of ideas and experiences that another person may not have. How close can you come to the original, when the original is beyond reach of the viewer?

From this idea, we get the use of rainbow spectrums for autism. Puzzle peices. Trips to Holland. Are these analogies, symbols, metaphors good ones, or not? It depends on how they are used, really; but no analogy is perfect, and some of them are downright off-base; but can they still be used to communicate? I don't care for the way the puzzle peice has been used, but it is very useful in starting a conversation about autism, because it is so recognizable. The spectrum thing, taken from the diagnosis "Autism Spectrum Disorder" has its usefulness, but also its difficulties. Even the trip to Holland has its problems as an analogy, but when trying to explain the experience of parenting to a clueless person with no special needs kids, it can be really useful. Trying to explain parenting generally? Probably not. The image has its limitations, and those must be recognized; but don't toss the baby with the bathwater.

Trying to find new ways to discussing autism and being human with people who have more ignorance than sense is a great challenge.

How does one communicate to people who have no idea what you are talking about? Have never experienced what you are talking about? And do so in a way that makes not only the experiecne itself a little clearer, but also communicates what you want to say about that experience? What should we emphasize?

I've been putting together a variety of t-shirt designs as alternatives to the ubiqitous puzzle peice, because I think the puzzle peice misses some of the point. The way it is used implies that only autistic children are "puzzles"- but any parent can tell you that isn't true. All children have that mystery, all children have needs, we are learning about all of them. We are all puzzles.

The misuse of the symbol has lead to it being used not to refer to kids, but to autism itself, as a puzzle that needs to be solved (and thus reradicated) rather than as a symbol of unacheived understanding. Bleah.

During the Renaissance, a person's uniqueness was valued. Genius was something to pay an artist extra for. Being in control of your own destiny, educating yourself, creating your own life was valued. Today this individuality seems to be more of a subculture, an alternative lifestyle, rather than the mainstream. The lessons of the Renaissance may need to be re-taught.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Sometimes We Let Him Sleep

Oh, dear. This morning, Joey woke up grumpy. Mommy woke up grumpy. Not good. Most of you can see what's coming.

I have been, as you may suspect from my absence, using every spare moment of any point of my day to read Harry Potter. That is now complete. I refuse to give anything away. However, this has also cut into that most valuable commodity, sleep. No sleep=grumpy mommy. Silly mommy, she needs to go to bed, but she's readignHary Poter instead. Silly,silly mommy. Sleep is a waste of time.

So naturally with me grumping about the house this morning, and Joey grumping about the house this morning, when the milk got spilled, all hell broke loose. Level 8. Just what mommy wanted this morning. Worse, he was still in the middle of it when the bus arrived. The bus aide actually came into the house and got him- the idea being that the bus is very calming for him, so we wanted to get him on it. But I felt really, really bad, because I'm sure he was picking up on my grumpiness, which was my own fault in teh first place, because I didn't go to bed, because I was reading...

Meanwhile, someone bit Andy. I took him to the gym, and then took him swimming, and there are nasty bite marks on his shoulder- too small to be Joey, but Joey doesn't bite anyway. So we made sure to reort that to the gym people, so they can be on the lookout for a biter. Andy didn't complain about it until the gym people started fussing over it. I didn't intervene on that point, because I want him to understand he needs to tell somebody if he's bitten.

So when the boy camehome from school, I scooped everybody up an took them to Arby's for lunch. Spiced, curly french fries were a far bigger hit than I expected them to be, and I got to have a reuben for lunch. ;)

I think everybody's feeling better now. The power of food...