Wednesday, May 02, 2012


Joey is ten years old now. I keep thinking back to when I turned ten. I liked to walk through the woods. I liked to make stuff. I could get on my bike and ride down the road to pick blackberries. I could make Christmas cookies. I still liked my Barbie dolls and my dollhouse. I liked to make cassettes of my favorite music- with my fancy record-player, I could take the music right off the records. That was a big deal, very fancy (I could also record tape-to-tape... woo-hoo!)

I also have been looking at what other 10-year-olds I know or knew like/d and do/did. For the Cousins' tenth birthday, we gave them a keyboard and a telescope. The took my boys on a tour of my Uncle Lou's property, and took them to see the chickens next door- something they normally could do by themselves, without adult me tagging along. Awesome Neighbor would go around the neighborhood, visiting friends and just generally being a kid. When you talk about ten-year-olds, things like go-karts and playing spy and running down to the swimming-hole come to mind.

Joey can't or doesn't do these things. I can't imagine him in a workshop, watching and helping with building... well, anything. He likes cooking, but needs a lot of supervision. He likes toys, but doesn't actually play with them very often. He would have little clue what to do with a telescope, and hasn't shown much interest in the keyboard here. Having him go anywhere independently? That is asking for big-time trouble, with bolting and "eloping." He's interested in making his own music lists... kind of.

In some ways, Joey is 15. He can do math like a whiz kid, for example. And in some ways, he is 5. He still likes his kisses. But there seem to be very few ways he is 10, in any way I can see most ten-year-olds meeting expectations of ability and maturity. It's not just me, either. His OT hasn't moved him up in the social skills groups- he's still in with the 6-8 year crowd (and these are disabled kids, so they are lagging even for 6-8 year kids), not the 9-12 group.

Sometimes, when these kinds of thoughts crowd in, it is good to breathe in and remember what he does, and loves, and enjoys, and just enjoy him being Joey. After all, Joey is awesome. He loves to laugh and make other people laugh. He loves baseball (he's a big hitter, too!). He has completely defeated all the levels of Super Mario Brothers on the DS, and is well on his way for the Wii. He likes chattering as if he is making video "walk throughs" while he plays, now- a professor, just like his Mom, explaining what to do and how to do it and why he is taking a certain path or power-up. He loves to ask math questions, and correct you when you get them wrong. He loves loves loves playing with his brother- even if it gets frustrating and little brothers get annoying. He loves to give us hugs and kisses. He loves wearing basketball shirts. He loves the beach and swimming in the pools, and playing with the hose. He loves his scooter and his computer and his notebooks.

I told you he is awesome. And really, did we expect any less?

Monday, April 30, 2012

A Month Comes to an End

Looking back through my April blogs, you might notice something distinctly different this year: not a whole lot of autism awareness pots this month. In fact, it appears blogging has taken a serious back seat in life here. Blogging requires things like time and energy. This spring is being a bit of a roller-coaster, leaving me short on both. I am looking forward desperately to next week, when I will have all my classes graded and closed out, no soccer practice, and just a few more minutes on Tuesday or Thursday (probably not both) to do stuff like... clean. Or read. Or maybe even blog.

Andy's vision therapy is going fine; and while she's at it, the therapist is also working on his manners and some of his ADHD issues, fine motor issues, and bilateral coordination. Unfortunately, he also decided to hit a growth spurt, so Total Dysregulation is upon us- he is very brittle. He runs out of energy reserve super-fast, so we have to keep on top of feeding him. Add the constant motion, and we are in meltdown city.

On the other hand, Joey has been caught sneaking snacks again, so I have returned to the apples and sugar-free popsicles plan- ie, those are the snacks in the house. Everything else is Verboten. I have been trying to encourage scooters and other outdoors play, but glitches in the day means there is a lot of Mario Brothers being played to calm... and revv. It's a delicate balance.

Yep, I have one that needs to sit down and eat, and the other needs to get up and not eat. Great.

At any rate, Autism Awareness Month is now at its close. Most of the folks I know will also turn to their next interesting Awareness project, and leave autism aside for another year- if, indeed, they bothered to pick it up in the first place. I keep turning around to find such a lack of understanding, it stings to have it so close; turn again, and there is a sense of wanting to know; and another corner, and I find some folks who get it, and others who never will. You just never know who will be around those corners. I am sometimes surprised. And shocked. And surprised.

As the calendar turns, please don't forget us. Don't forget Joey. It is important for everyone to not just be aware for a day, or a month, but to really think about their lives and how they are living them. Awareness isn't just about putting a blue light bulb outside or a ribbon on your car. It is about understanding what it really means to treat others as you would want to be treated- all the time, every day, every moment. If we all just learned to do that, all the world would be a better place to grow and be free.