Friday, May 21, 2010

Happy Birthday, Andy!

When I was one,
I just begun.

When I was two,
I was nearly new.

When I was three,
I was hardly me.

When I was four,
I was not much more.

When I was five,
I was just alive.

But now I'm six,
I'm as clever as clever.

So I think I will be six now,
forever and ever!


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Taking all the help we can get

We're back from the big OT eval. I managed to get a script from the doctor's office this morning (I forgot to ask for it yesterday during the annual checkup, because I am, yes, an idiot), so off we went!

After Ms Lisa took a good look at the little guy, we had a chat about what he needs to be productive in school. I told her the bare and terrible truth: we need all the help we can get, so we can provide proper guidance to the new school folks. Stuff that we've done on the fly now needs to be formalized and simplified. We discussed sensory needs, we discussed social skills, we discussed lunch bunch, we discussed the problems of skill generalization (what good is a skill being performed before the school OT if he doesn't perform it anywhere else? Sometimes I wonder if the school OT thinks, "Well, see, he can do it... he must not want to!"... ie, "What a spoiled brat!"). I'm hoping for a fabulous report in 7-10 days which says he needs these things to access the curriculum. She was particularly interested in the phys ed curriculum that he is clearly not accessing in the general phys ed program... having something more geared to him would be fantastic.

I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

New Directory of Autism Blogs: Come Join Us!

When the Autism Hub went down, I had no idea what happened. I still have no idea what happened. I'm kinda clueless about stuff like politics and gossip and drama and stuff like that. I always have been. When stuff starts hitting the fan, I'm the clueless one going, "Huh? What fan? And why am I all damp?" Yes, I often wonder how much I might have contributed to the problem; I often never find out because I never find out what the problem was. How much of being clueless made it worse? Am I really that much in La-La Land? And I have this problem all the time in real life situations, when I should be able to read the social cues swirling about me, and just don't. Online? Gah!

So apparently the Hub went down, and I didn't know about it for a few days. And now it is back up, and I found out because someone on Facebook mentioned they weren't on it anymore. In fact, a couple of folks mentioned it- folks I consider very central voices to the parent discussion side of things. I wasn't surprised to find my own blog gone, after all, I'm just a little blog, and I did kinda crash the party instead of being invited. In fact, the vast majority of the comfy-couch section seems to have been axed.

But salvation is here! Kim Wombles has put together a new lovely directory of autism blogs, and it looks fabulous: The Autism Blogs Directory. Lots and lots of blogs, so you can check out plenty of online voices saying lots of thought-provoking things about topics I never even knew might be an issue! Do I agree with everybody? Heck, no! And I think that's a good thing!

So come check it out, find some new blogs to read, grab some hot beverage of your choice, and join us on the comfy couches!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Boys at the Faire: Movie Version

Renaissance Faire

This week's adventure was a trip to the Renaissance Faire, which opened at the Lake Anna Winery this weekend, and runs (weekends only) through June. It is $8 per person for everyone 6 and older, free for under 6 (Andy was free! Last time!), and we had a roaringly good time. Maybe a little bit of a roller-coaster, but what did I expect for taking two kids who decided to wear long sleeves to a strange place full of people wearing funny clothes?

Andy started shy, but Joey jumped in with both feet. He learned about sword fighting, and then played tambourine with the wandering minstrels (who really do stop and sing to you!), and then got right down to business learning to write with a quill, and showing off how well he can already write with a quill. That's my boy!

Andy started warming up when he found the toy box and dress-up center. The Faire is arranged in a large ring of Stuff to Buy around an open field, but there is a back walk in the woods, with more Stuff to Buy. Among the Stuff to Buy are various stages with something always going on, and in the field, they are playing Renaissance games (you can join in!) or dancing (you can join in!) or putting on impromptu naval battles (yep! Join in!). For folks who remember the old Virginia Wine Festival, it isn't as big, but very similar set-up, and yeah, it works very well for the Ren Faire, too. :) The back woods also had stages and things to do, including some games (throw battle axes, 3 throws for $2!) and a lot of the children's stuff, and the Queen's Court- really smart, as it was shady and lovely. The kid's section (Poppet's) included crafts that changed every half-hour or so, and could be done for free (though donations for materials accepted).

We did catch the Archery Show (there are folks who wander around in costume telling you what's going on when, and what shows are about to start and where they are), and the boys liked the arrows and the shooting. The archery guy wasn't too impressed with us, however, and seemed to have minimal experience with children. He kinda got annoyed that JOey was moving around and asked questions over and over.

We started off as the only ones there, which worked OK, but when more folks came and he basically restarted the program (which was understandable- it was a cool trick shot with four arrows!), we took our leave and got out of the way. Andy wanted to toss axes, so we did that instead.

We got some ice cream and a drink, and then wandered back over to the armoury to take a peek. This was out in the sun more, and it was getting pretty hot, but I hoped the ice cream would hold them until I could scout around for food stalls, which were not immediately apparent. Joey got interested in the helmets.

So this is what I saw: a happy Joey trying on helmets and giggling, and a gentleman enjoying watching him giggle and trying on the different helmets. Happy child. Not ten feet away. Lovely.

Let's turn to the other child, who is busily pestering the guy talking about the pikes and spears. What's that one? What's that one? Oooh, why is that one all spiky? Happy child, not ten feet away, but ten feet away in a slightly different direction. What could go wrong?

Both of these photos are prelude to a melt down. I have no clue what happened. I was taking the picture of Andy when the Wail of Warning went up, and I turned to find Joey making a break for the woods at top speed. Much to the annoyance of the staff, I darted into the woods after him, with Andy on my heels, both of us calling for Joey. Oh, and several folks in funny clothes right on our heels, explaining to me none-too-patiently that we weren't allowed back there. No kidding! I finally had to stop and explain that Joey was autistic, that I would get him, that I understood we were not allowed back there, this was not me allowing him to run (what idiots are these?), and could they please back off, they were scaring him?

I managed to get him back to a tent and calmed down some, and Andy went back to the pikes (and the folks, once they understood, were actually very helpful), and one of the folks who hadn't run after us, but remember Joey from earlier, came over and sat down to talk to him a little and help calm him down. After another brief melt, I figured out that Mom the Idiot needed to feed her children lunch.

So we found the food, bought some, and headed back to the woods to consume it. Corns dogs, fish and chips, cold drinks, yay! With everyone feeling better, we returned to Poppets to see what craft was happening and take a breath. They boys rediscovered the toy area.

Since they were happy, I let them dress up and play to their heart's content. Andy became a cowboy. Joey was a "boy princess", which I explained was a prince, so he became "Doctor Prince"- who helped animals who are sick, and wears a beautiful crown. Happy boys.

Joey talked to himself in the mirror, and announced himself to all and sundry, as Andy played on the horse and explored the other toys. At one point, we had a good crew of dressed-up kids running about, though most of the kids (and most of the adults!) came already in full costume!

Then we had a puppet play, and the boys now want me to make a stage and puppets. I have a surprise. They are going to make the puppets.

Then the craft of the hour was making dolls, and the boys wanted one, so they got busy making dolls. That was lovely, though Andy wasn't so keen on knots, and wanted his doll to have a red hat. I made him one when we got home.

Then came the Knighting Ceremony! Joey was knighted by the Queen, along with many of the other children. We got cool certificates and Joey got a pin, but Andy was too nervous to be knighted at the ceremony. Too many people in funny (but gorgeous!) clothes. Oh, and there was a real sword involved.

After the ceremony, we were permitted audience with the Queen. Joey got up and let everybody know he liked math, and the very gracious Queen chatted with him for a minute before sending him to the treasure box for a present. These people knew what they were doing with this. During the Knighting, they knew where parents needed to stand to get good photos, and insisted on waiting until parents were in position and ready before doing the knighting. Then they made sure everybody was happy with the photos before moving on. She did the same for the audience, making sure everyone got the "portraits" they wanted with their "faerie boxes."

Joey picked a coin from the treasure box. He was very pleased with it, and ran about showing everyone in the glade. Seeing a treasure box made his brother bolder- a chance for a toy! Wow! We were all about that!

So up brave Andy went, and even gave the Queen a hug! She talked to him for a while, then asked if he was ready now to be knighted. He said yes, so the ceremony commenced! So I now have two Defenders of the Realm, Sir Joey and Sir Andy! Andy was also fascinated by the jewels on the Queen's gown, which she thought amusing.

Huzzah, Sir Andy! For being so brave, he got to pick two prizes- a red glass pebble and a coin! (He didn't get a pin, because he didn't get knighted in the first ceremony, and the girl with the pins was gone).

We went on to play more games, and buy wooden swords. I couldn't take pictures because I was holding two iced lemonades and handing out money.

So overall, a good time had by all. Put on your medieval duds and head over there. Oh, and they serve beer, wine, and hard cider, they card you at the front and give you a bracelet, and the pub looked lovely, and had lots of singing and stuff going on. The folks at the front laughed when I explained I didn't want a bracelet- I had two little guys to keep up with, I needed my wits. Definitely worth the $8. Much better than a movie.