Saturday, August 11, 2007

Going to the restaurant

Joey was just a little talking bug today- jabber, jabber, jabber. Gotta love it. He ate three slices of pizza for Daddy. PIZZA. You know, with tomato sauce and cheese and bread and sausage, all together, mixed up and layered to be bitten through, not picked apart. PIZZA. Joey. I am still on the floor in search of my teeth.

I was working over at Mom's today, so I got this news via phone with husband, rather than witnessing the event myself. Our van is on the fritz, so mom had to shuttle me around today, so we took Joey to church for music. He sat there and listened like any sweet little darling, curled up on the pew next to Grandma. He tried to sing the songs today and everything.

He was doing so well, that when we returned home to find Andy had fallen asleep, we decided to just take Joey out to eat.

He was SO excited. He just learned the sign for "restaurant" so he was showing it off gleefully, while informing all and sundry, "I am going to the restaurant! I am being in the restaurant! I eat in the restaurant! I am going in the restaurant!" He got to order his food himself ("I want the french fries and the chicken!") and pick out his food from the salad bar (he wanted mashed potatoes, cottage cheese, and watermelon), and even got his ownself-serve ice cream for dessert. But most amazing of all, he tried new food! He ate Grandma's cabbage (with and without cheese), and baked potato!

Who is this child, and where did they take Joey?

Seriously, he had a grand time, and really seems to be turning a corner on food and oral sensitivities. But now he is complaining that the church music is too loud, and covering his ears.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Dog Days

We have just entered The Last Week. Joey's summer programs all end a week from today. Then we have two weeks of basically nothing- an abyss- before school begins.

We're not the only family to sign up for eight weeks of speech camp this summer. Or summer school. While maintaining our regular therapies. And then add a social skills camp to these last two weeks. Andy has patiently sat in the therapists office from 1 o'clock on, sometimes to 6 o'clock... all summer long. He has also not been alone.

There is a little girl who has sat in the office most of the summer while her brother is in speech camp. Is she seven? Eight? Old enough to like to do cartwheels across the waiting room and spruce up her pretty little face with Hello Kitty lipgloss. There are two preteen girls who come less often, but armed with DVDs and drawing pads, also waiting for speech camp siblings. There are two little girls and their baby brother awaiting a child in OT, who like to play with the plastic dolls' house in the speech room. The baby likes to climb the stairs and look down at his Dad through the rails. He also happens to have Down's Syndrome. There are some other siblings that come less often, or who I have seen less of at any rate. One is only eleven days old.

Whenever I think its been a long summer, I think of these kids. It's been a long summer for them, too. They didn't go to day camp, or cheerleading camp, or sports camp, or any of the things other non-special-needs kids seem to be doing. They didn't get to do lots of enrichment programs, or spend lots of lazy days by the pool. They didn't go to the beach. They stayed mostly right here, supporting their brothers and sisters as best they could by letting mom or dad or grandma or grandpa drag them to the therapy office day after day, and thus allow their siblings to have their therapies.

Next summer (and yes, I fully expect to be doing this again next summer), I'll probably ask the therapists if they mind if we have a Sibling Camp. Something to offer these kids besides sitting in the waiting room doing... well, not much. It could be free. I've got enough art supplies laying around here to put something together. A sprinkler in the parking lot would be OK for a brief activity when it wasn't absolutely boiling. Singing new songs and maybe even playing some Signing Time or other activity-related DVDs wouldn't cost anything. It would even be easy enough to have stuff that kids could easily walk-in/walk-out from; stations or quickie crafts so that anyone can join in, or opt out, as appointments allow. Just something so these kids don't feel like they spent the summer sitting around a waiting room. Something to get them through these last dog days of the summer, before the Abyss.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

A World of Delphiniums

The Dormouse and the Doctor
By A. A. Milne

There once was a Dormouse who lived in a bed
Of delphiniums (blue) and geraniums (red),
And all the day long he'd a wonderful view
Of geraniums (red) and delphiniums (blue).

A Doctor came hurrying round, and he said:
"Tut-tut, I am sorry to find you in bed.
Just say 'Ninety-nine' while I look at your chest....
Don't you find that chrysanthemums answer the best?"

The Dormouse looked round at the view and replied
(When he'd said "Ninety-nine") that he'd tried and he'd tried,
And much the most answering things that he knew
Were geraniums (red) and delphiniums (blue).

The Doctor stood frowning and shaking his head,
And he took up his shiny silk hat as he said:
"What the patient requires is a change," and he went
To see some chrysanthemum people in Kent.

The Dormouse lay there, and he gazed at the view
Of geraniums (red) and delphiniums (blue),
And he knew there was nothing he wanted instead
Of delphiniums (blue) and geraniums (red).

The Doctor came back and, to show what he meant,
He had brought some chrysanthemum cuttings from Kent.
"Now these," he remarked, "give a much better view
Than geraniums (red) and delphiniums (blue)."

They took out their spades and they dug up the bed
Of delphiniums (blue) and geraniums (red),
And they planted chrysanthemums (yellow and white).
"And now," said the Doctor, "we'll soon have you right."

The Dormouse looked out, and he said with a sigh:
"I suppose all these people know better than I.
It was silly, perhaps, but I did like the view
Of geraniums (red) and delphiniums (blue)."

The Doctor came round and examined his chest,
And ordered him Nourishment, Tonics, and Rest.
"How very effective," he said, as he shook
The thermometer, "all these chrysanthemums look!"

The Dormouse turned over to shut out the sight
Of the endless chrysanthemums (yellow and white).
"How lovely," he thought, "to be back in a bed
Of delphiniums (blue) and geraniums (red.)"

The Doctor said, "Tut! It's another attack!"
And ordered him Milk and Massage-of-the-back,
And Freedom-from-worry and Drives-in-a-car,
And murmured, "How sweet your chrysanthemums are!"

The Dormouse lay there with his paws to his eyes,
And imagined himself such a pleasant surprise:
"I'll pretend the chrysanthemums turn to a bed
Of delphiniums (blue) and geraniums (red)!"

The Doctor next morning was rubbing his hands,
And saying, "There's nobody quite understands
These cases as I do! The cure has begun!
How fresh the chrysanthemums look in the sun!"

The Dormouse lay happy, his eyes were so tight
He could see no chrysanthemums, yellow or white.
And all that he felt at the back of his head
Were delphiniums (blue) and geraniums (red).

And that is the reason (Aunt Emily said)
If a Dormouse gets in a chrysanthemum bed,
You will find (so Aunt Emily says) that he lies
Fast asleep on his front with his paws to his eyes.

I worry that Joey will grow up in a world full of Doctors. Right now, he is such a happy little dormouse, in a world bright with red and blue. May he never let them dig up his geraniums.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Ask Before You Touch

There was a new mom at therapy today. Not new as in "new to autism"- new as in "baby is nine days old." Her older child was in therapy, but she had teh brand-new baby with her. Andy likes babies. Joey LOVES babies. And this was a teeny-tiny, brand-new baby with big eyes and headfuzz, and mom still very round and new-mom looking.

The boys were very good. They washed their hands, and only touched the baby on her head to feel the soft babyhair. They smiled and giggled and made faces at the baby, and didn't get in her face. Joey talked about the baby being little, the baby was awake, the baby was soft, and said he liked babies. He turned to Mom, and talked to her about the baby. Very nice social moment.

Then he reached out with one finger an proclaimed, "I want to touch the booby!" and gave her very round breast a stroke with his finger. Then he was off to another point of interest in the room, leaving me, the Mom, the office manager, and a couple other moms in a moment of speechless awe.

I must say, the Mom was an absolute sport about it, very gracefully not saying anything. The office manager just abotu died on the spot trying not to laugh. I initially thought he intended to say "baby" and only touched the Mom because he remember he wasn't supposed to touch the baby, but apparently everybody else thought it was quite clear.

I wonder where he's picked that up. He often likes to touch peole, especially on exposed lower arms, but I've never had him do this before. I've been trying to teach him to ask before touching someone, and I honestly think he was trying to do just that by making the announcement that split second before acting. Now we just need to go back to just arms, please. Thanks.

Monday, August 06, 2007

No quacks

New t-shirt design. Thought it might be a good thing to spread around.

That ducky place in C-ville is calling. I guess they need some more business. Not enough suckers going in and giving them their life savings to fix their kid. Caller ID is my friend.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

New Shoes

Joey isn't feeling very well. I got the hint this afternoon after church, when we went to buy shoes.

This weekend is Virginia's "tax-free weekend." That means we instantly save 5% on everything we buy for school- supplies, clothes, shoes, etc. That may not seem like a lot of money, but around here, every little bit helps. And when shoes cost $50 a pair (holy frijoles!), and you've got two of them who are going to need shoes, that's a quick $5, before we start on anything else they need. So off to the shoe store we go.

Both boys have extra-wide feet, so the selection is limited where-ever we go. Walmart shoes don't fit them at all. Nope. We have to go to the $50 shoe store to get shoes on these feet. Great. And we still have all of two pairs to choose from. Fortunately, both are velcro. Joey picks out a pair that have those flashy lights in the heels. Good- those are the cheaper of the two pairs. Andy picks dark ones over light ones. Fine- we won't see them get dirty as quickly. Done. Let's get out of this madhouse of running, screeching children before I have two meltdowns on my hands.

Then Joey decides he wants to wear his new shoes out of the store. Nevermind that they are for regular school- a month away- and have already been boxed back up and bagged. He wants those shoes. Now.

Of course, it's really a problem of the noise, the heat, the change of schedule, the heat, the unfamiliar store, the heat, being tired, and of course, the heat. This is not about shoes at all. The store folks are very nice, and they know Joey, and they know about the autism, so as he begins the spiral into meltdown, they do their best to hurry things along to get me out the door... but it's too late. In his frustration, Joey bit me.

The biting is new- at least the biting of other people. He's picked it up from Andy, and I have no clue where Andy got it. Andy will do it if he feels in immediate danger or extreme annoyance, such as another child trying to snatch something from him. Joey does it with deliberation and thought. You can see the wheels turn and the decision being made, that half a beat of deliberate-ness that makes the whole mess seem that much more not a failure on his part, but a failure on mine. Somehow, I have permitted, and reinforced, this as an appropriate tool to get what he wants, or make himself "feel better" (I doubt he actually feels better for doing this, but before the action is done, it seems like a good idea to try it, if you know what I mean. Kind of like on a sunny day, it may seem like a great idea to go to the beach, until you realize the sand is burning your feet, the sun is burning your skin, and you forgot to bring sunglasses.) What's worse is I feel I have never tolerated this behavior. This is an instant-reprocussion situation. The full shop of parents glare at me as I pick up my 70-odd pound screaming child, toss him over my shoulder like a sack of potatoes, take his smaller brother by the hand, and march out of the store to the van.

I'm sure I'll get lots of wonderful critiques about that. Did picking him up and/or removing him reinforce the behavior? Should I have allowed him to melt down right there in front of the door? Is a time-out in a van really going to help? How does one correct such behavior, and what behavior can one expect of an overwhelmed 5-year-old?

And here is how I saw it: I made the mistake of trying to get the shoes on a day the store was crowded, the five bucks be damned. Once the mistake was made and the consequence in full swing, the appropriate course of action was to remove the child so that he could regain control and calm. Strapped into a car seat with the A/C going was the only option I really had available. There was no way, once Joey realized he had actually bitten me, that he was going to walk out of that store on his own two feet- the next action was going to be complete puddle of child, because meltdown was complete- about a level 4, if you leave the bite out of the calculation. But definitely meltdown- he was no longer functional. All my fault. I'm the stupid person who tried to take him into the crowded store to buy shoes, remember. On the hottest day of the year, no less.

I'd go into what one should expect from an overwhelmed five-year-old, but I didn't like the hate mail I got last time, so I won't. (I got the gambit from "How dare you think/wish this child should behave any differently than he does?" to "How dare you let him behave that way?") I will say that these are the realities here. Five dollars may not seem a lot, but it is a week's worth of breakfasts. Five dollars is an extra t-shirt for school. Five dollars is 10 minutes of speech therapy (thank you, insurance, for finally kicking in!) Five dollars is a trip to the pumpkin patch. Five dollars is milk for the week. How many crowded stores have we been in, and out of, and not had a single whine from Joey? Hindsight is 20/20- better, when you find yourself constantly judged and found wanting.

Which brings me back to the beginning of this ramble, which is that Joey is not feeling well, and I know this because our trip to the shoe store ended in meltdown. We've been having more of those than usual, but not more than usual for summer, does that make sense? Anyway, they still can be those first little inklings of trouble. I wouldn't say he was grumpy the rest of the day, no more than usual on long car rides (we went to pet goats in Madison), but he wasn't right. Sure enough, we put him to bed early with a little fever. Poor little guy.