Friday, February 15, 2008

Up, Down, All Around

Life is a roller-coaster. Mine is a bit of a wildmouse. But then, i can never complain about being bored, right?

We have the new speech evaluation in hand. Evals are both good and bad. Its good to have a firm picture of Joey's strengths and weaknesses so we can consider options and plan supports and interventions and needed services, such as upping speech therapy or asking the school for more service. However, it also means we have Joey's disability laid out in black-and-white numbers, which cannot be ignored. To us, Joey is... Joey. On paper, Joey has a moderate-to-severe communication disability. It's never fun to see it laid bare.

Something happened at school today, and we don't know what. We do know something happened, because Joey came home on the verge of meltdown, and won't talk about school at all- the big red flag that something is not right. He wanted to ride his bike, but he wanted to ride it off the deck- as in, down the stairs. I don't think so. So he then tried to run over his brother. He was asked to stop riding the bike. Instant meltdown ensued... for an hour. What the...?

On the good news front, Grandma arrived and I got to go out to dinner with my husband. The last time we got to go out was... neither of us can remember. We've been wrangling about "when did we last go out?" for a few minutes now. Was it my birthday, 2006? Surely we managed to go out over the summer once? But it is lost to the mists of time. Aren't we supposed to be having weekly dates? Or monthly? Or at least annual? The food was good this time. The company was fabulous. I hope he asks me out again.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's, Part Two

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


I've been getting a lot of questions about Joey and Andy from people and email lately. Probably that "Yes! You Can Ask Me About Autism" bumper sticker on my car... but anyway, for those folks bouncing around, here's the scoop, in no particular order:

What is Joey's diagnosis? Joey is autistic.
Does Andy have a diagnosis? Andy has sensory integration dysfunction or sensory processing disorder, which are terms often used interchangeably, and are definitely used interchangeably by his therapists. Andy is not autistic.
What is Joey's functioning level? Joey is considered "high functioning." Which tells you exactly nothing. His main issues are expressive communication and perseveration/ritualistic behaviors. Joey is currently unable to function in a normal classroom environment without support.
Is Joey's autism regressive or non-regressive? Non-regressive. Joey was born autistic. He did not lose skills, and displayed autistic traits from Day One (possibly earlier).
Is Joey verbal or non-verbal? Although Joey has very severe expressive communication disabilities, we consider Joey to be verbal.
Did vaccines cause Joey's autism? Do you believe vaccines caused Joey's autism? No.
Does Joey receive ABA? Yes. He presently has one two-hour session of ABA to work on skill generalization and communication.
What other interventions have you implemented for Joey? Joey is in public special education. He also receives private speech therapy, private occupational therapy, and takes music lessons.
Is Andy in therapy? Yes. Andy had private speech therapy and currently has occupational therapy.
Why isn't Andy in public special education? Andy is not disabled. He has issues with sensory integration, but is able to function in a normal classroom environment.
Are you autistic? No.
Is your husband autistic? Is anyone else in your family autistic? No.
How did you know Joey was autistic? At age two, Joey did not point and did not speak. By two and a half, still without pointing or speaking, we took him to a speech pathologist, who informed us that he was either profoundly autistic or profoundly deaf or both. He was proven to not be profoundly deaf, so we went to Kluge and saw Dr. Blackman, who diagnosed him as autistic.
How did you get Joey to speak? I wish I could hand folks an answer to getting children to communicate, because I am pretty sure folks who ask me this are looking for that magic bullet. I get asked this a lot. So I just want to put on the disclaimer that this might not work for everybody. However, our breakthrough came through sign language. When the SLP handed us the "deaf or autistic" verdict, we decided any communication would be better than the nothing we had. We bought Baby Babble, a dvd intended to help kids learn to talk. What he learned with the sign for "more." Armed with this new way of getting cookies, bubbles, and anything else, Joey discovered there were ways of getting needs met that involved making sounds or gestures... language. Clever little thing that he is, and the great lover of cookies, bubbles, and getting Mom and Dad to do stuff, he started trying out these new things called "words." Six months later, he had about 25 of them to use. A couple years later, we became fans of Signing Time, which gives him lots more signs to use and to help him understand what others are saying to him (as well as giving us signs to use with him!) Yes, we recommend trying this visual and kinetic means of communication if your child is having trouble with expressive speech.

I'm sure I'll get lots of new questions and feel the need to do this again, but I hope this helps folks in the meantime!

Blog Love

My pal Monkeygirl made an award just for me that I can pass along and start a new award thing. How cool is that? Even better, there's no meme or strings or anything attached. I get to just say, "Hey, you're one of those folks that sees the beauty in things!" and then you get to tell all your friends how cool they are, and so on and so forth. And you'll all give it to cool blogs I've never read before, and then I'll have lots of new folks to read about. Woo-hoo!

So I officially bestow the brand-spanking-new "I See the Beauty Within" award to...

Stimey, Niksmom, Casdok, Joe, and Maddy, who are my regular reads because they "See the Beauty Within" in the first place. I can't possibly have an award like this to give out and not make sure they get one.

Besides, I can hardly wait to see who they choose to send it along to... I don't read enough blogs.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Guessing game

Andy has a guessing game for you. He is in search of his "scoopin." A Scoopin is black, it eats bugs, and it has two legs. It is somewhere in his room, but not under the bed, because we looked there. It is and is not an animal. It is not a bug. It is not a person. It is not a spoon. It is not a dinosaur. It is small, baby, not big.

I have actually figured this one out, so i will leave you the fun of guessing before I give you the answer.

Beautiful Death

There isn't much that makes me freak out in nature. MIce are cute. Snakes don't bug me, bugs are just part of life, spiders don't creep me out.  

Except this one. I do not like black widow spiders.

They're absolutely beautiful, don't get me wrong. The shiny black, the elegant curve of the legs, the shocking bright of the red hourglass. They are amazing things. Heck, I took photos. I think this is the first time I've seen one live, and certainly one this big. I also did not realize they were lair spiders.I just had never thought about it; I just assumed they were web spiders.

The lair was amazing. She had been living off a colony of ants that were living in a stack of mulch bags I hadn't managed to get spread, and had done quite well for herself. I knew they got this big, but I certainly had never seen one so large; with her legs out, she probably would have taken up most of the palm of my hand; I'd say her body was about the size of a quarter. Magnificent. 

But I am sure you are all happy to know she has joined the Choir Invisible. I don't kill spiders as a rule; they are very useful creatures, beautiful, wonderful, and they eat ants, which is a huge plus for me. I do hate ants. But one cannot have black widows overrunning the basement here with my little guys.