My “Word” of 2014.

Another New Year, another bandwagon. I’m naturally suspicious of bandwagons, but I thought that it couldn’t hurt to have a word of the year. I’m a Word Overachiever, so I needed a phrase. I chose:

I’M DONE.

  • …with reading subpar blogs, when I *know* I can do (relatively) better.  My Feedly is getting lighter by the day.
  • …(almost) with Facebook. If it weren’t for family, church friends, a local support group, and a few fun connections, I’d disable it. Honestly. How many times do people *really* need to complain? Be a virtual bully? A braggart? Perspective changes everything.
  • …with (most) internet conversations. A comment section often doesn’t provide enough space to fully explain one’s position.  Twitter definitely doesn’t. And if you get sucked into one, you figure out the person on the other side is just playing “devil’s advocate” or is a “troll” or both.  Tone and body language are impossible to discern.
  • …with watching movies that bore me all the way to the ending.

Why did I choose “I’m Done”?

  • Our Boy really needs my/our help. Too many time sucking activities means less time that can be invested in making his life better. *A LOT* of planning, data collecting, and hands on time is required. And with another little one on the way, we have a lot of work ahead of us.
  • I’ll have extra time, at least for a short season, to work on writing and photography.
  • I’m too easily distracted. I’m convinced that my IQ drops twenty points with every month that I stay distracted by the stuff that doesn’t matter.
  • I am actively choosing to invest in what really matters to me, instead of letting distraction do it.
  • Health restrictions have prevented me from being as active (going/doing) as I normally would, and I intend to take full advantage of it.
  • I feel better mentally when my mind is actively engaged. I can’t busy myself with tasks around the house, because for now, I can’t do many of them without help.  Depression can’t win. There is too much at stake.

So there you have it! I am officially “done” in 2014!

Just Wait.

I’m becoming adept at jumping through government hurdles in every attempt I can think of to get help for Our Boy. I’ve had more visitors in my home on official business than I’d like, but whatever it takes to get him what he needs.  The questions have become such a part of our routine these days that I can answer them by rote.  The latest “advocate” is a young mom, close to my age. We settle at my cluttered kitchen table and I apologize for the state of my kitchen. It’s a work in progress. She responds as the others do, “Oh, don’t worry about it! You should see mine!”

Right.

And so it’s down to business. The questions pass quickly until we come to what I think is the most frustrating: “When did you first notice his symptoms?”

“Right after his 18 month MMR vaccination. If I were a conspiracy theorist…” My thoughts end in a shrug.

“Oh, I refuse to give my son that shot. I went a few rounds with Dr. X the other day. He didn’t seem too happy about it but I told him if he had to talk to the parents that I do he might think differently of it.”

“Yep.”

The questions continue and we get thrown off topic as I wince and answer yes to all of the horrible things that Our Boy is at risk for. Elopement. Abuse. Sexual abuse. Abduction. “Is he at risk for taking off in public?”

“Oh, yes. For now he can ride in the cart but he’ll outgrow that.”

I don’t know how we get on the topic but soon we’re discussing the comments of the general public. “Do you get a lot of comments?”

“Well, I had a harder time with it around the time that he went through testing and diagnosis. I learned to avoid Kroger on Senior Day because too many people would try to engage him in conversation, ask about Santa Clause. He looks older than he is. These days I really don’t care what a random person in the store thinks.”

“Just wait,” she says. “Just wait until somebody walks up to you and asks you why he can’t talk yet.”  It’s the worst thing, I guess, that she can think of.

I shrug. “I don’t have time to educate everyone that we come across. If they seem to really care about a response, I’ll give them a straight answer. If not, it’s easy enough to walk away.”

She seems surprised that I don’t care what strangers think.

“The only time that it matters is if they decide to make a hurtful comment. People assume that because he doesn’t talk or doesn’t look them in the eye that he isn’t listening or that he’s stupid. The effect on him is what matters to me. Not educating the public.”

We move on.

 

Book Review: 1001 Great Ideas for Teaching & Raising Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Image Courtesy of Amazon.com

Image Courtesy of Amazon.com

When I was given a copy of the book 1001 Great Ideas for Teaching & Raising Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (first edition), I was convinced that I’d be reading “old news”.  Although already familiar with some of the information, I was completely blown away by the section on behavior (chapter three), which has helped me in my daily interactions with our son.  I also think that the behavior chapter is especially helpful to educators. Too many in the autism world have been influenced to think that functional communication is the only true means of communication. It isn’t.

From page 67, on hostile or aggressive behavior:

First, understand where the behavior is coming from. Almost all such behaviors are rooted in your child’s sensory and/or social impairments. He is not doing it to provoke you, embarrass you or make your life miserable. He is not an inherently unkind, cruel, malicious or evil individual. He is most likely feeling frustrated, fearful, threatened, tired, unable to communicate his needs or otherwise unable to cope.  Let your response spring from this understanding.

The chapter also points out ways to avoid escalating a skirmish, which are helpful for parents and educators alike. I also found Chapter 7 To Know the Law, to be helpful. It contains a brief explanation of navigating laws within the public school system as well as links to the three federal laws: IDEA, Section 504, and ADA (see page 196).

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the material was clearly organized and presented in a helpful way. Web addresses are contained within the text, so there is no need to flip back and forth to a notes section at the end of the book to find what you are looking for. Book lists for suggested reading are also given where appropriate, as well as vendor information.  There are some endnotes but they aren’t overly cumbersome.  A great index at the back of the book makes it easy to use this guide as a reference.  I highly recommend this book to all educations and parents. It’s a worthy addition to the library shelf.

NOTE: The authors have published a second edition, which you can peruse here: http://www.amazon.com/Teaching-Raising-Children-Aspergers-Expanded/dp/1935274066/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1384130128&sr=8-1&keywords=1001+great+ideas+for+kids+with+autism+spectrum+disorders

If I Believed in Omens.

September 11th found me employed at Kmart and bored at a front register.  I recall that my smock was too big and I hoped that my new engagement ring would be ready to pick up from the jewelers. There was a sudden flurry of activity as an older lady who worked in the back offices ran up front to tell the front desk clerk, Melanie, that something awful had happened and to come see the news.  Melanie left me in charge and followed her back.  After a few minutes, she came back up front and told me what happened. The older lady, whose face I can still see but whose name I’ve forgotten, came back up front in a full fledged panic attack because her niece worked at the Sears tower, and the news media was reporting a possible threat to that tower and that they hoped there would be an evacuation. Melanie also had a connection at the Sears tower and they left to be with family.  I was sent to break by the store manager. Continue Reading

Where’s the Beef?

I keep trying to think up business plans that result in our family relocating to the sticks and becoming farmers. Occasionally, I’ll decide to ask my uncle (an actual farmer) questions about the business. I called him last week to invite him to Our Boy’s birthday party and decided to ask him: “How’s the cattle market going?”

He told me it was pretty good and then mentioned how much money he’d gotten for an old cow at death’s door. I’d give you the details about it but it has put me off beef for over a week now and for my uncle’s sake, I’d like the beef market to stay good.

But I’m on a beef hiatus for now. I hope to be over it by the time chili season gets here.

Book Review: Death By Living by N. D. Wilson

death by living cover for blog

Cover art courtesy of Thomas Nelson and the Booksneeze program.

N.D. Wilson makes it clear from the beginning that the focus of his latest work, Death by Living: Life is Meant to be Spent is on “a way of living, a way of receiving life” (p. xi).  He uses a variety of examples to illustrate our inability to control the circumstantial ebb and flow of our lives.  The two most vivid are the stories of how each of his grandfathers, James Wilson (USS Brush) and Lawrence Greensides (Guadalcanal), narrowly escaped death in World War Two.  Although our modern day-to-day lives don’t seem quite as exciting as WWII, Mr. Wilson reminds us that: Continue Reading

“ShaShas” (or Circles)

A few months ago, while in Indiana for a wedding, Our Boy decided that he’d start to transition from calling every round object a “ball” to “shasha”. It took a few days for me to figure out that he meant “circle”. Oddly enough, he went back to referring to everything as “ball” after we got back.

So. During his appointment with the occupational therapist, I proudly mentioned that Our Boy had progressed from making only straight lines with sidewalk chalk to attempting to draw circles around himself. However, he “hasn’t figured it out yet and our driveway is full of boy sized semicircles”. Our OT and Our Boy had just started drawing with markers. She asked him if he’d been working on his circles. I made some sort of comment about how “we were so close but he hasn’t made any on paper”. Three seconds after I said it, without comment, Our Boy made his first “shasha”.

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