Saturday, March 15, 2008

Um, Hi.

As an avid reader of this blog, I am very honored to be allowed to write stuff here.

The Mrs. had been saying how I should start a blog and I mentioned that I thought Blogspot allowed for multiple bloggers, and here we are. A put up or shut up type situation.

No more backseat blogging for me, such as the suggestion that she post the 'Dinosaur Center' comment from Andy.

Joey was in one of his totally locked-in and focused moods today, which means that he was on his Leappad doohickey all day. Now, we have learned that when he appears to be off in lala-land, he actually is only devoting 80% of his attention to one thing. There's still 20% left for other things, which occasionally includes hearing, which is always nice.

He was so focused on learning cursive writing that it appeared to everyone at dinner that he was off in his own little world. Which is basically the perception of autistic people- that they are oblivious to their surroundings. Not interested in other people. Humorless automatons.

Well, five minutes with Joey will destroy that perception. In this case, Andy was tired and telling everyone "no" and to leave him alone, when Joey piped up, "Leaf me alawwwnn", without even looking up from his toy, and began to giggle. (Poor kid, he comes by this smart-aleck behavior honestly...)

So, anyway. Hi. Thanks JM for letting me graffiti your blog from time to time. Don't worry, folks, I won't hog the mic.

Please welcome...

I have added JoeyAndyDad, my adorable and wonderful husband, as an author to our blog. Be looking for new posts by JoeyAndyDad soon! And be sure to say "hi"!

Random moments II

In a room full of school personnel, discussing Joey's strengths and weaknesses, it is much like a sea of fog with oases of insights into what Joey can and cannot do. His expressive language deficits are severe, yet he seems to speak because he scripts so well. This is not getting through to them, you can see it in the blank eyes and confused frowns. "Have you ever read A Wrinkle In Time?" I offer. "He's like Mrs. Who." Faces light up. Understanding is gained. We are all on the same page. How often does that happen?

I race over to the door of Andy's classroom- it is already open. I am late. Not much, but enough. He is left waiting. His teacher spots me, calls into the room. Out tumbles a small yellow thing, who pounces into my arms. The teacher gives me a double thumbs-up. Good day. No time-outs. The little yellow-clad child chatters at me, something about green, birds, and dinosaurs. The dinosaurs part may just be his inclination to add the word "dinosaurs" to the ends of sentences (kind of like King George in Blackadder adding the word "penguin.") He could very well have said "The trees are green and full of birds dinosaurs." In fact, he is saying something like that, as there is a shrub on the way to the car that is full of birds and newly popped buds of leaves, and he is drawn to it like pins to a magnet. If it's alive, Andy is all over it. He dances around the shrub for a minute or two before I get him to the car. He starts to yell, "No Grandma! Don't want Grandma!" until he notices that her usual seat is unoccupied. He stops. He stares. He turns to me. "Where is Grandma?" he demands sternly. "She's not here today, honey," I explain patiently. "We're going over to the office to see if she took her trip to Baltimore." He begins to melt down. No! No Grandma! Where is Grandma? (Grandma, never forget, you are loved...)

"Hard day." These are two words that strike fear and concern into my heart, especially when they are at the start of the conversation with Joey's classroom aide. I get to talk to her when I pick him up for therapy. Joey is not usually violent, but today he came for a classmate like a crazed thing as gym was ending. They had been sharing a ball, bouncing it between them in some kind of game. When it came time to put it away, the other child was putting it away when Joey came for him, and hit him. He also had been sassing the aide, also unusual. There had been an assembly, could that have set him off? I take him to the car, tell Grandma the news. There is nothing for it- we have to ask, even during after-school mood. "How was school today?" Grandma asks cheerfully, and we make ground right away (he's just been listening to Mrs. Shaw talk about his day, after all). "D. keeps taking the ball!" We want to cheer, he answered with relevant information, but we want more information. Grandma comes up with a usually calming question, as this response has upset him, "What color was the ball?" "Blue." Ah, the color of the week. All explained.

The boys bounce in, still in pajamas, having granted us the luxury of a lie-in to 8 am. I have spent another night in the recliner to accommodate our regular nightly boy visit. They happily pile on, a great heap of boys. Joey snuggles into my space, kicking me aside again. "Momma! Move!" he demands, "Not enough room! Get in the chair!" Ah, cast aside like an old shoe.

We decide to go researching some home repair materials, including a new bike shed for the bikes. Off to Lowe's! We pull around the corner in sight of the store, and Joey triumphantly reads, "Garden Center!" "Good reading!" we praise him and clap. Then Andy announces, just as triumphantly, "Dinosaur Center!" Laughing that hard while driving is very dangerous.

The pizza place is familiar, but crowded, so Joey takes in the toy du jour, a Leapfrog Phonics writing desk. Several other customers give us the hard looks of the unappreciative as the toy beeps and talks, announcing the letter and playing its little tune as it demonstrates how to write the letter. "G!" Joey announces, "My last name!" All well and good. I look over at what my kindergartener has written to see a perfectly done cursive "G". Ah yes, the toy has a cursive setting. I better send a warning email to his teachers when I get home.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Guess what?

Joey is still autistic!


Meeting adjourned.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Barring snow...

It's tomorrow at 9:30. Should be a piece of cake. Going in prepared for an ambush. Wish I had a new letter from Kluge to take with me, but we'll muddle through.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Field Day

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Field Day

Yesterday was MidWinter Field Day at school- a field trip to the Field House to play field games inside on fake grass- complete with fake dirt. Yes, fake dirt. Apparently it is good for cushioning. The kids get just as dirty, by the way the "fake dirt" rubs into little hands and smudges across little faces and clothes. But they don't get wet or cold, so there's a plus.

The whole kindergarden went. I got to go as a chaperone. I had to meet them there, because there was no room on the bus (I noticed I was the only parent waiting for the buses in the parking lot. I was also the only special ed parent. Go figure.) We had five adults for six kids. Other classrooms had four to five adults for twenty to thirty, except the inclusion room- they only had 18 kids.

Our kids had a great time. We modified the games a little, so the instructions were easier to follow and expectations more in line with success. For example, we had a relay race that required our kids to jump, gallop, and skip. We all looked at one another in dismay- none of our kids can skip. So we kept the jumping, had them try the galloping, and then had them run. Also, our group was eerily quiet. The other groups were running around, screaming, squealing, laughing, yelling to each other. Quite a din. But ours? Well, we had laughing and some squealing, one kid with several (expected) meltdowns, but really, quiet. Most of them don;t speak well.

In some ways, the day was startling. Seeing Joey next to his non-disabled peers always highlights his disabilities. I just don't think of Joey as disabled most of the time. He's Joey, he has special needs, I have to pay attention to the supports he needs- but I just don't think about him as disabled. He's Joey. Next to the general uproar, it is always a bit of a shock to see what other kids can do, and Joey clearly cannot. He's so close... so close... yet so far, so separated. It was also a little disturbing to see kids that clearly needed to be in special ed who were not. Like Joey, you could see the isolation. Left in the swarm, they were left out, ridiculed, pestered, nagged. Adults were too taken up with supervising so many kids that there was no possibility of supporting those kids properly. One kid toe-walked and flapped all the way from the bus into the building, and every time I saw him, he was sitting against a wall, instead of participating. That was sad.

But in some ways, it was great. Joey does so much more than he used to. He can follow instructions, he can catch a bean bag, he can run and jump. He even did some crab walking, though he got frustrated with it and finally gave up and just crawled. He did the limbo with his friends. They did a whole game of pretending- pretend to paint pictures, pretend to catch balloons, pretend to ice skate- and he could do these things. And he was so happy, playing among friends. He was happy his mom was there. He was happy to eat a peanut butter sandwich. He was happy to play games. Everybody wanted to be with him, sit next to him, play with him. He was having a fabulous time. He enjoys life.

He was, of course, a mess the rest of the day. That's OK. I just had to hug him more, and smooch on him more, after a morning of lots of extra hugs and kisses.

Life is good.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Rooster's meme

ghkole at Rooster Calls has put up what she may not know is a meme: questions for us to answer about ourselves and blogging. But I'm game, as usual, so here it is:

- If you blog, do you tell people in your family or at your job about your blog?

No. My husband knows about my blog, and people find it, but I don't run around saying, "Look at my blog!" I have directed a couple folks to it directly, but not a whole lot. I have a separate more photo-laden site for family and friends to follow, that is a little more of a polished and shiny happy look at our lives. This blog is a bit more down-in-the-trenches.

- If so, how does that impact your writing?

I'm not sure. I know it effects the focus here, But mostly I direct people because of the focus, instead of focusing because of the people I direct.

- Do you keep hard copies of your blogs?

I keep a back-up copy on my computer. Which reminds me, i need to make a new one. I don't keep it entry-by-entry because I am an idiot.

- Do you ever not post comments you get?

No, but I have deleted a few that were ads or inappropriate. I do not allow anonymous posting, so that cuts down on the trolls.

- How do you balance writing versus reading?


- Do you think of it as a chore or a diversion?

It is a way of life.

- Do you use RSS to keep track of blogs, or what?

No. I don't actually read that many blogs. If I want something new, I check out where my usual crowd is sending their awards, and often see if there is anything that looks interesting on the Autism Hub. Also, I like to check out folks who comment.

- Do you worry about what you write, or what readers will think?

Sometimes. I know that my students can "Google" me and this blog pops right up, so I try to check the language and I don't often wander off my topic. But I don't do anything crazy and interesting enough to threaten my jobs or anything. Otherwise, well, this is what I'm thinking right now, There you go.

Anybody else want to help out ghkole?