I have moved over to WhittereronAutism.com. Please follow the link to find me there. Hope to see you after the jump! :)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Day after Boxing Day

Boxing Day is the day after Christmas when all the workers who service your home pop around to visit with their box. You the householder, hand out tips of gratitude to the butcher, the baker, the milkman, the postman and any other men who provide a service! Or at least that's the traditional, old fashioned tradition.

We, all modern American's, are heading back home for the "wedding."

So whilst we're away, here are a few posts, some of the more popular or older posts that you may have missed.

This time of year when families gather, old memories come back as reminders, whether they are welcome or not. They are useful reminders that whatever you think is adrift in your current life, there is no way to accurately "predict the future."

Parents all over the world, endeavour to do the best for their children but sometimes we have to admit to ourselves that we're all just "muddling through."

During any holiday, parents can bump into the unexpected, little hurdles that we aim to clear but often "trip us up."

Some parents have a partner to assist them in the task of raising children, others are less fortunate. Others still, fail to appreciate the "input of the other parent."

Multitasking is the name of the game if you happen to be a parent. Whilst you never imagined that you would become a juggler in your old age, if you hope to survive you need to dig up those "hidden talents."

Modern life means we have it easy as appliances, make domestic existence "so much more flexible."

Since the holiday season is over, I can return to my "grumpy old self."

They say that travel broadens the mind, but all too often it leads you down a "blind alley."

A speech impairment or delay can be a curious thing. Sometimes you may feel that you are "wading through treacle."

We are all too free with our opinions, but sometimes we may inadvertently reach the "wrong conclusion."

Some of us are slopping in our definitions, but other people require "more precision."

See you later alligators.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Boxing Day - Colours of Friendship

"Jen P" over at "What Jen Finds Out" is determined to drag me up the blogging learning curve and has kindly passed on this token of friendship. I refuse to write all that mushy stuff about relationships as I might split my stiff upper lip.

Traditionally, in other parts of the world, Boxing Day means that trades people who have helped maintain your household and sanity throughout the year, pop around to collect their tips, where the homeowner has the opportunity to show their appreciation for other people's hard work and support.

As I look around at the recipients it would seem there are a great many connections already, but there's now harm in spreading it a little further. As I sit here surrounded by small people playing with Pokemon, I can easily pop along to "Chelle" at "Crazy Thoughts," to catch up and share.

Another prodigious blogger is "Holly" at "Fragile X" where the six of them muddle along much the way that everyone else does, especially this one that made me chuckle "today."

Then moving swiftly on to "Haddayr" at "Haddayr's Journal" who manages to keep me on the straight and narrow as we share a similar sense of humour, thank goodness!

Then there is the dauntingly wonderful "Niksmom" over at whose dedication, humour and energy leave me dead in my tracks.

If you fancy changing your perspective a little and altering your focus then I would highly recommend nipping along to "Casdok" at "mother of shrek," her refreshing outlook on life, keeps us all on our toes.

Everyone already knows "Bub and Pie" but now that I have her on my google feed reader I can be a bit more organised. Her antics with her children, juggling career and family life leave me feeling more than a little weary, as I have every admiration for those mums who manage to work outside the home too.

"Like a Shark" is another site where we share many of the same turmoils of indecision. I'm sure all parents struggle with 'what to do' and 'what is the best option' for their children and here we can see that road, wind and turn, twist and circle, but always end up in the foamy crest of a wave.

Also to "Sarah" at "The Nefariouspoo of Sarah [A field trip into Disability Advocacy" as although her plate is full to overflowing, she still finds time to work for others.

Hoping that Boxing day brings you many callers.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Awards for Friendliness

"tegrib92" over at "The Brewer Family" And Miles to go before we sleep,' recently experienced blog award over load. As a result, and being a generous spirited kind of a person, she very kindly gave me two. An all time first around this neck of the woods, although the woods around her place seem so much more attractive.

It therefore gives me the chance to return the favour to some blogs that beetled about who are far more friendly.

First there is "Josie 2 Shoes" over at "Picking up the Pieces." Josie has introduced me [in full technicolour] how complicated family life can be as well as illustrating the strength to come to terms with the past and forge ahead despite the odds.

Also to "Jocelyn" at "O Mighty Crisis" where she enjoys the delights of of family life with an arresting prose style that I for one, thoroughly enjoy.

Always a friendly spot, "Mom NOS" at "Mom Not Otherwise Specified," is sure to welcome you all with open arms, and a cheerful, thought provoking approach.

Also to "For What It's Worth" who struggled with many of the same issues that we are coping with, but with a far better attitude, of course.

"Dantesinfernowithchildren" is another great place to visit, but make sure that you have cleaned your bifocals because it's one of those teeny tiny font sites.

I also nip along to the "Phantom Scribber" on a regular basis even those her postings are less regular than they once were, I have overcome my frustrations by adding her to my google feed reader. Maybe I'm not as technically challenged as I once was!

Also to "Dori" over at "The ups and Downs of our Life" where a mum's dedication to her family always leaves me in awe of her patience and gratitude.

So I'll stick with my usual 7 for the time being as I struggle to play catch up.

Happy Holidays from the Aliens

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Blogging Buddy Awards

"Mamampj" over at "A Room of Mama's Own" has passed along this lovely award of the 'blogging buddies.' Is my feline bias on show?

Fortunately this award is self explanatory so I won't have to test my brain capacity by coming up with suitable international translations.

Barely a year ago, I didn't even know what a blog was. If you had told me that I would make blogging friends I would have scoffed and doubted your ability to spell.

Hence, for this post I had a dig back to when I first started blogging, to those people that I first met on the blogosphere to acknowledge their help, support and understand over the last year and how much I appreciate them.

One of my first buddies was "Jerry" over at "My Autistic Boy and Other Adventures in Fatherhood" We share a common perspective but his wife is much more attractive than mine.

Then to "Susan Senator" who was kind enough to let me know how to go about commenting in her usual gracious manner.

Also to "mommyguilt" over at "musings of a housewife" for her many kind comments and encouragement.

Again to "Hattie" over at "MotherPie" a real writing woman. In fact I suspect that she enjoys the title of lurker/rare commenter, so if you share this title, consider yourself similarly thanked.

Also to "4-frogs" at "4 green and speckled frogs"
where she shares her families disappointments and triumphs.

"Lisa" at "Lisa-jedi" over at "Life in the New Republic"

shares her creative family moments and her kind words were very much appreciated.

Then to "Gretchen" over at "Gretchen's Blog" where she spans the generations just like me but with far more grace and charm than I can muster.

A Snippet of Sleepover

My daughter has 6 pals over for her "sleepover birthday party." I find it odd that I am surprised. I am surprised that all six of my daughter’s friends share certain personality traits. Vociferous, opinionated and confident. It is alarming combination especially when there are so many of them. I thought I knew them all quite well already but they are different creatures in a school setting. They are different creatures when they visit us for an individual play date. En masse they are impressive.

I have only two priorities for this venture, that my daughter enjoys her birthday celebration and that the boys keep their nether regions covered, anything else is a windfall. It is immediately apparent that the latter may affect the former.
“Geez, put yur shirts on why dontcha,” demands a youthful nine year old. Neither boy pays her any heed. California in December may have an occasional chill, but inside it is balmy.
“I SAID put yur shirts on!” she repeats more loudly with an acerbic edge. The boys continue to play with their Pokemon without a care in the world. “Madeline yur boys aren’t listenin to me!”
“I know, but it is rather warm in here don’t you think?”
“Maybe, but you know….they’ve got their shirts off,” she exclaims, outraged with a hint of embarrassment, “I can see their…..er…….skin an all.” I dither. Shirts off but trousers on, is far more of a generous compromise than I could have anticipated.
“I know, how about you run off and play with the other girls, leave the boys in here, then you won’t have to er…look at them?”
“Hmm, maybe.” She squirms a little, as indecisive as me.

She adopts a different tactic and makes her feelings known.
“Pokemons are evil. I hate em!” My sons continue to play with the plush, fluffy creatures.
“They’re dumb!” she continues when no reaction is forthcoming.
“Are yah deaf?” Neither so much as blinks in her direction. I dither. Intervene or wait for her to get bored?
"Are yah in special ed coz yur deaf?" Silence. She steps back into the kitchen to ask the same question to me. "They're in Special Ed because they're autistic, remember we talked about this with your mum?" She looks back at me blankly, "oh yeah," she mumours distractedly. She returns to the family room relentless, to yell at the two deaf boys.
“I hate Pokemon!” I find the repetition a little tiresome but she is dogged. It occurs to me that some kind of mis-communication has taken place. Some how or other she has filed 'autism' into the 'deaf' category, they appear synonymous, but then children often mid-file unfamiliar information into the wrong category.
“D’yah hear me? I said they’re dumb and stoopid.” A trigger word. A banned word.
“Day are not stoopid. Stoopid is a bad word. We are not be saying ‘stoopid’ in our house. It be dah rule.”
“Itsa stoopid rule. That’s a real dumb rule. They’re evil guys believe me, I know!”
“You be not know.”
“How many ya got anyways?” she adds in a voice that fails to beat the sound barrier.
“Infinity,” he answers casually.
“No I be lie coz infinity is my favourite number huh!” he roars with laughter as he rolls around of the floor delighted at his own joke. His older brother mimics the sound of each Pokemon exactly, as the boys continue to play together. He blinks across at the girl, “you wanna play wiv us?” he asks tentatively.
“No, they’re dumb…..and evil,” she persists. She hovers in the kitchen close by as I prepare the next of innumerable snacks for those with hollow legs.
“Er, when’s his birthday?” she asks me.
“How old he’s gonna be?”
“He will be nine.”
“Oh.” She seems ever so slightly disappointed although I’m not entirely sure why? I keep my own counsel because I am an adult and therefore technically the enemy.

My daughter and the rest of her party flutter back into the family room as the boys continue to play. As they lounge on the sofa, the boys’ Pokemon noises are a soft back drop to their discussion about the boys in their own 4th Grade class.

I ear wig, one of my more finely honed skills. I memorize each male name and the reaction of the girls to the naming of each. The flock flees amid a flurry of girlish squeals. One girl, the same girl, remains behind. She leans against the wall watching them. Her fingers twiddle with a coil of her ash blond hair. She sidles closer to my son. She appears coy, with a healthy dollop of simper.
“Can yah make any Pokemon noise?” she coos. I wonder if my son recognizes coy when he sees it?
“Sure,” he beams using a voice that is loud enough to be heard, rather than his usual whisper. He rises to the bait. “You name it?”
“Er…… I don know any Pokemon names,” she titters.
“Here,” he slips across the room to retrieve the Pokemon manual, a thing the size of a telephone directory and just as boring. Her eyebrows shoot up as he shoves the book into her waiting arms and chest. “Geez, they sure do have long names. I don know if I can even say em?”
“Er Charme….leon?”
He contorts his body into an exact replica and growls to a perfect pitch. Her immediate alarm is tempered by intrigue. She calls the name again and he crawls towards her, still miming, still perfect. “Come on Charmeleon,” she beckons, siren that she is. He scampers after her to her squeals of delight.

Oh yes, I think he has ‘coy’ filed in quite the right category.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Colours of Friendship Award

"Elissa" from "Managing Autism"

has kindly passed on this token of friendship. I refuse to write all that mushy stuff about relationships as I might split my stiff upper lip. Whilst I am tempted to quote 'Bah Humbug,' at this time of year I should probably slough off such Grinch like associations.

Firstly I should like to pass this on to "slouching mom" over at "slouching towards 40." This is only fair because the first time I acknowledged this little gemlet I had the outrageous nerve to call her 'sloughing' instead of 'slouching.' Did she harbour evil thoughts towards me following this transgression? No, not a bit of it. In true magnanimous American style she just shrugged it off as of no consequence.

I often toddle over to another little spot where the "Queen" hangs out at the "Queen of Dysfunction." She's an annoying little devil without a blogging schedule. This of course is deliberate on her part just to ensure that she causes as much irritation as possible. Fortunately for me, now that I have her on my google feed reader she's unable to escape quite so easily.

"Linda" of course is never irritating or irritated over at "Are we there Yet." I have no choice but to pass this over to her as she has helped drag me kicking and screaming up the feed reader curve and is always a little oasis of harmony. [unless the kids are playing up]

Another fun place to nip along to is "Adventures of an Aussie Mum." This is the joy of international connections. I am up late and night just in time to read her post as she starts her day.

"Never Judge a book" has to have one too, devious little lurker that she is, especially now that she has a spanking new template to please the eye.

Good old "Sam" is far too cerebral to partake in this kind of malarky but I am happy to send this to him. If ever you feel that life has given you a bad break, then this is the place for you. His stella work stops me in my tracks. The families and patients that he helps, in both his "work" and "play" takes my breath away.

One that I have finally managed to load onto my google reader is "Beck" at "Frog and Toad are still friends." They are by far my favourite American book series although I do have a little bias on that front. It was that clue that first led me to her site, and now she just can't get rid of me.

"Kristina" over at "Autism Vox" was probably my first on line pal. I lurked on her site more many a long evening back in the days where the word 'blog' was not in my lexicon. Indirectly she taught me all about it until I was brave enough to de-lurk and write a no doubt ludicrous comment. I felt as if I was writing on the wall of a toilet stall, but that's probably because of the association of graffiti and bogs.

This is a bog.

As is this!

Christmas Meme 22nd

"Ashley" over at "Hidden Recovery" has tagged me with a Christmas meme, which is a trifle tragic since this is the 22nd today and I'm almost out of time - eek!

I shall endeavour to do my best as Ashley and I share a common phenomenon, a Leo, both lovely ones, although she is far more biased than I am of course. is one of the first few blogs that I was brave enough to comment upon and we have corresponded off and on ever since.

Best Childhood Gift

The same things that my mother carefully ensured were in each of our stockings each year:- four little squares of chocolate wrapped in shiny paper and tied together like a package, a shiny foiled, tightly furled umbrella of chocolate, a little yellow netting cache of chocolate pennies and a tangerine in the toe.

Best Adult Gift

Yes, it's a thrupenny piece. This used to be my pocket money when I was a small person. My older sister had a silver sixpence, twice the value, much more shiny but not anything like as delightful as the solid thrupenny piece. The Port Cullis emblazoned upon the front and the funny smell that it left on my grubby, sweaty little palms was a real treasure. What was particularly treasured by this gift, was that my eldest daughter managed to find one for me, long after they had been withdrawn from circulation circa 1971 and gave it to me with a twinkle in her eye. 30 years after the event, I found that not only had she remembers this little tale of childhood innocent but also her the wherewithall and stamina to seek one out, just to warm the cockles of my ancient, crusty heart.

Divorced single mother's often enjoy a close relationship with the children. In that respect I was exceptionally lucky, as illustrated by my second most popular gift that I received whilst I was an adult, also from my daughter but at a slightly earlier age.

Tucked away in the ruins of my tatty old jewelry box is another little treasure. During my youthful and rebellious period I wore copious lurid earrings. This fine pair of hand crafted Fimo ear-rings were give to me by my creative daughter. The watch allows you to admire their extreme length with I wore with pride as I stabbed my shoulders with every shrug of admiration.

What You Hope For In The Future

More of the same, the little things, that mean the most.

So I now tag

"Cal Slayton"
over at "Calslayton" as his talent just shines through but he's not very forthcoming on the personal front. We all need a little encouragement in the sharing department sometimes.

Then there are the delightful "Brewers" over at "And Miles to Go" - they really are going for the record as they track up the miles on their way 'home' for the holidays. A real family of marathon runners if ever, I'll be bound. I know they have a tonne of stuff to do but this is such a little memme that I don't feel too guilty passing it on.

Next up is "One March Day" although she has a tendency to be cryptic the variety or her posts always keep me guessing.

A great little spot for when you're feeling homesick for England is to visit "Dulwichmum," it's guaranteed to make me both regret that I'm in the States and rejoice that I'm in the States at the same time, but maybe that's just because we share a similarly warped sense of humour.

A new pal for me is "Mrs. G" over at "Derfwadmanor." If I didn't know better I would swear this woman is a Brit with her dry teasing humour. As often as not the giggles are for free.

If you're in need of a little eye candy [ not the rude kind] then I would recommend a visit to "David Mcmahon" over at "author Blog" where his fabulous photographs inspire me to remove the batteries from my digital camera and chuck it in the bin in defeat.

Another place to visit daily is "Crystal Jigsaw" but that is because I am biased towards bloggers who post daily, as I'm a stickler for routine and there's nothing more annoying than arriving at a blog that still has the old posting that you read several weeks ago - the nerve of some people!

You could do a lot worse than nip over to "Terri" and "Her4kids" to admire her expanding family with the cutest puppies in the world ever, and no, even if you ask her very nicely she won't mail one to you - are you trying to get her reported to the Humane Society or something?

"Melinda" over "Dear Noah" who write the most heartfelt letters to her son, take a peek and bask in all that love.

I expect you are all wondering who is the most prolific blogger on the blogosphere? A question that haunts me daily too! I am here to assure you that despite my best psychological endeavours, devious and cunning questions, I have been unable to unearth the troop of elves that help "Secret Agent Mama" with her prodigious output.

I can also highly recommend "Why Would I Sleep" which I'm sure will hit just the right note with far too many of us.

I am guilt free as I tag these people because it can either be as short and sweet or as lengthy as time allows.

When I have caught up with the other 27 outstanding memes, I plan to make one of my own. This will consist of a lengthy list of blogs that I visit who I will henceforward be boycotting because of their teeny tiny font size, or at least I would boycott them if it weren't for the seductive content.

Cheers dearies.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Accidentally tagged myself with Crazy 8

Why does that sound vaguely painful? Anyway I popped over to say hi de ho to "Akelamalu" at "Everything and Nothing" where she has one of those huge 8 memes going on. I hate 8. [Sorry "Bev"]


8 things I want to do before I die:
1. Work out where to live?

2. Sleep for a full 8 hours during one night!

3. Fly in a helicopter.

4. Fly in a balloon, or rather the basket that hangs under the balloon.

5. Go abseiling again.

6. Fly in a biplane and write messages in the clouds that can actually be read.

7. Kill the urge to jump off cliffs, tall buildings or anything else that is high enough that I would be dead by the time I hit the ground, or possibly sooner.

8. Grow wings and fly.

8 things I say often
1. “Good grief”

2. “Hi de ho there”

3. “Lummy"

4. “Rats”

5. “I can’t remember.”

6. “Positive energy”

7. “Can we have another cuddle?”

8. “Do you think they're asleep yet?”

8 of the Books that I am currently reading:

1. Why Does Chris do That? Tony Attwood
2. Cautionary Verses, Hilaire Belloc
3. Michael Quinion, Port Out, Starboard Home
4. Look me in the Eye, John Elder Robinson
5. Time to be Earnest, PD James
6. Ruth Rendell, The Water's Lovely
7. Bill Bryson, Neither Here nor There
8. Art the Critics Choice

8 Songs I Could Listen to Over and Over

None. I've completely gone off over and over again.

8 Things that Attract Me to My Best Friends:

They are all terrifyingly superior beings - not really eight I know but at least it's truthful.

8 People I Think Should Do Crazy Eights:
The next 8 commenters!

So first up is "Miscmum" over at "miscellaneous Adventures of an Aussie Mum," don't you just love how the ex-colonies still use mum? Which Americans could be as co-operative.

Then we have the scintillating "Stephanie" from "Tribe of autodidacts" We share the same taste in reading material, but her brain is a great big one as illustrated by her ability to teach her own children, in her own home without any signs of going completely off her trolly! Or should that be 'cart'?

Moving along swiftly to "Mym and Shula" over at "Poppalina" certainly not a site for the fainthearted. If you are creatively challenged this this just might be the site to inspire you to bigger and better things. Alternatively, like me, you can just peek out from behind a very small rock and lurk. Of course they too are foreigners but you have to guess which little island they reside on. As a hint I can tell you that it's not England or Canada. You mean you didn't know that Canada was an Island?

So we move along to "Stepping over the Junk" where art, creativity and motherhood combine in a very happy home.

If you wish to add a bit of zip and zing to your day, then you could do a lot worse than nip over to "White Noise and Random Thoughts." If you're quick about it you may just catch a glimpse of a very "fetching young man," not that I would know anything about that of course, seeing as how I am a respectfully married ancient person.

Delightful "Angela" also has a little "turtle sleeper" just like me and you can find them over at "Angelascap."

Thursday, December 20, 2007

thur - The Littlest Angel - Kindred Spirits

Maybe your child is a loner, some children are, as are some adults come to think of it. Some children are aware of the fact that they are without friends but they're happier that way, self sufficient and independent. Some children are unaware that they have no friends. A few children become aware that they have no friends and wonder why? Occasionally, a child who has no friends, finds one, a friend that is to say. That individual, in this particular instance, has been in the same class as my son for three years but until just recently they have completely ignored one another, or maybe just not noticed the presence of the other?

For four years I haven't pushed him. It's a harmless piece of traditional fluff of no importance. But this year he is older, 7, the age of cognition for some children.

I decide to tackle the issue head on. Friday, the last day of school, the children are required to wear a Holiday hat and engage in the holiday spirit. The latter is likely to be a challenge. The former is more of a brick wall.

My youngest son's head is generally off limits. Whilst he has been known to don head gear on occasions, more often than not it's more protective in nature rather than the more usual clothing garment. A wooden box with a peep hole equates to protection.

There is no point in appealing to his better nature. There is no point in suggesting that he tackle this feat just to please me. He doesn't do guilt, fortunately, so there are few choices available to me. He has no need to fit in with his peer group, he is immune to peers. He is immune to groups come to think of it. Bribery would always be my first choice given the option, but I am unable to attend school as his shadow, armed with a sackful of Goldfish Crackers.

I don't know what, if anything the other children say to him, but I do know that if the entire school wears hats, most of them red, it's a visual cue with neon lights.

We have the usual struggle over school attendance, last day or not, he still doesn't want to go to school. There is no point in reminding him of the party, as party roughly translates to 'poison pain.' There is no point in reminding him of the gift exchange because the presents will be wrapped in paper and therefore untouchable, and in any event their contents, by definition, will be disappointing.

I do remind him of the one tolerable thing about school, that he gets to spend time with his pal, the new love of his life, his first, only and best friend, Adam. Little Adam is my own personal angel, as he has given the most precious gift to my son, the present of his very own unique self, to bond with my own little devil.

I pause and contemplate Little Adam, high end spectrum, verbal and fragile. Adam is a twin. He has a twin sister. My son was a twin, but his twin didn't make it out into the world alive. The black hole on the sonogram was seared onto my memory, but back then, I didn't appreciate that I was a visual learner. The icicle of terror made me hold my breath. It was melted by the steady blinking shadow of a second secret heartbeat. As a result, I find that I have a tendency to read too deeply into something of no great significance. My son wants to live with Adam, be with Adam, exist in Adam's orbit, permanently. It is a crushing new development that leaves me and Adam's mother, in a state of disbelief and delight.

"You know?"
"Wot?" he bellows.
"Are you going to give Adam a Christmas present?"
"No. Er yes. Um why?"
"Because he is your friend." He looks at me blankly but lured in by the enticement of his current adoration.
"I have an idea!"
"Wot?" he bellows.
"How about I take you to the shop and you can choose a holiday hat, one for you and one for Adam. Perhaps you could choose two the same that you could both wear tomorrow, together." He clamps his hands over his mouth to cover his rapid breathing and the battle over competing emotions. He adopts the expression of constipation unable to achieve peace of mind or body. So easy, so difficult. The caress of friendship, the torture of a hat, the agony of indecision.

"You can try it on in the shop and see it it's itchy or scratchy? You could choose one without elastic?" You could wear it inside out for all I care. He rocks back and forth on the hard wood floors on his bony little bum with his arms clasped tightly around his legs and his head tucked into his knees.

"That way you'll look almost the same," I whisper to the silent mop of hair.
"Like bruvvers?"
"Maybe people are think we are twins?"
"Maybe." No promises.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The usual and the less so

Thursday Thirteen.

1. The usual seasonal Christmas tasks, such as buying presents, wrapping them, cooking special treats, cleaning up the house, write a few cards, attempt the holiday photograph, hang the last few ornaments, remember to turn the Christmas lights off during the day time to save energy and the planet, prepare for the children's Christmas parties at school, order the turkey, more laundry and packing, bake for the neighbours gifts, visit the Christmas light show one evening after school before it gets too busy.

2. The less common ongoing non-seasonal tasks - Continue the desensitization campaign. Encourage, persuade and sooth the child that is incapable of going upstairs on his own either in daylight or darkness.

3. Dig out the Christmas Social Stories to remind one child that Christmas stockings are not the work of the devil, that he can put his hand inside the interior of a stocking to extract a present without risk of hand damage.

4. Practice ripping paper. Practice ripping paper with our hands. Introduce scissors for the truly desperate.

5. Remind everyone that it is o.k. to sing ''Jingle bells, Jingle bells, jingle all the........' insert random word, fall on the floor laughing. Ensure that the random word is not a potty word. Perseverating on this song will only be allowed for a period of one hour maximum.

6. Gymnastics are permitted at any time for as long as it takes but the exercises must be free of balls or any attempts at juggling anything.

7. Kinesthetically practice receiving a gift graciously, preferably with the accompaniment of a few well chosen words. 'Thank you' will do just nicely. Parents to model desired behaviour once in every 24 hour period.

8. Although 'catastrophic' is the new favourite word, we shall only use it within the confines of our own home, as it causes too much confusion in public.

9. Repeat the tradition of all making one Christmas ornament together for the tree. This year ensure that the exercise avoids glue, glitter, paper, cotton wool or any other tactily challenging substance. What would that be exactly?

10. This year, may there be less cause for howls of disappointment and frustration, or failing that, less volume.

11. Try and beat last year's record of the 9th of January. This year all presents will have been opened by New Years Day, or is that foolishly optimistic?

12. Remember that most children have more pleasure in receiving than giving. Please let my children have pleasure in receiving. Please may just one of their gifts give them pleasure.

13. Remain hopeful and positive. Maybe by the time they reach window 24 on their Advent Calenders,
one will be able to use his own fingers to open the paper square.

Another one will find a way around the difficulty. The difficulty of covering your ears so you can't hear your siblings cry 'ooo it's a sleigh' which spoils the surprise. The difficulty of not wanting the surprise to be spoilt but simultaneously wanting to open the window yourself, with your own dodgy little fingers. The difficulty of making your eyes track the numbers whilst there are so many distractions and the over-riding excitement of anticipation.

Just maybe, by 24, everyone will open the little door at approximately the same time and enjoy precisely the same delight.

But if not this year? No pressure. No rush. Maybe next year? Or decade.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Reflective Ms. Wordy Wednesday

“Hi! I’m here!”
“Top of the morning to you!”
“That sounds more Irish than English?”
“Hmm. Sorry. Well my Mum’s Irish. Actually that’s just a lie I’ve sort of slipped into, since I’ve been out in the States.”
“Well her parents were Irish, so I say she’s Irish, but she was born in England so obviously she’s English.”
“If she found out I was going around saying she was Irish she’d have a fit of the vapours.”
“Somehow I always visualize your Mom as being like Princess Margaret.”
“Oh good, she’d like that. The reality is more ‘bog Irish.”
“Bog Irish?”
“Yes, don’t repeat that though, it’s very rude.”
“Yes, you know, struggled up from the bog kind of a thing.”
“Huh! New one on me. So you’re Dad’s still Scottish though?”
“Kilts and bagpipes kinda of a deal?”
“Close enough.”
“Not bog Scottish?”
“Geez that class thing goes on in Scotland and Ireland too?”
“Don’t forget Wales!”
“The little stuck out bit.”
“The same!”
“So what are we looking at today? Child exploitation!”
“Ooo dear that’s a little harsh.”
“You’ve got him scrubbin away at the windows. I just call it like I see it.”
“Yes I can see why you might think that.”
“That’s not what I’m seeing?”
“Hmm therapeutic child exploitation sits easier on my soul.”
“What’s the therapeutic part?”
“Lots of things.”
“Such as?”
“Making his hands and fingers squeeze the lever on the bottle of Windex.”
“To make them stronger.”
“Are they excessively weak?”
“Maybe not excessively, but if you don’t use your hands every day for every day kinds of things, then lots of ordinary little tasks become extraordinary difficult.”
“Bit of a vicious circle then.”
“Spot on.”
“But why window cleaning? Couldn’t you have something….I don’t know……..more kid like?”
“Well for this guy, it’s a question of latching onto anything that he might show a tiny shred of interest.”
“And you’re trying to tell me that he’s interested in cleaning windows? I just don’t buy it.”
“You’re right, it’s not the cleaning or the windows, it’s the blue fluid.”
“Still don’t get it. Is blue his favourite colour or something?”
“No, still yellow. If I’m honest I don't really know what the spark was but he was definitely interested in it, so you work with what you’ve got. Neither of them rarely show interest in anything outside of their rather narrow fields, so when something catches an eye, you just have to go with it.”
“So you’d call this the Windex developmental stage of autism or the blue period?”
“Hah! Got yah, I was teasing.”
“Oooo, very good!”
“So you got him to use the wiper thing too!”
“The stars were favourably aligned that day.”
“Who knows?”
“So he managed the crossing the "mid-line thing?”
“Ooo yes, well spotted, you’re so good at this.”
“Next time I clean the windows, I’ll remind myself of my "mid-lines.”
“You do that dearie.”
“One last word of warning though.”
“Do it too much and you end up with blue skirting boards.”
“You know Maddy, there are many things that we Americans get fixated upon, but you won’t catch any of us perseverating or reflecting upon our windows.”
“Mirror, mirror on the wall, "who is the fairest…….”

If you had difficulty loading this page or commenting you might want to visit my duplicate 'loads like a dream' blog over here at "Whitterer On Autism."

Monday, December 17, 2007

Tactile defensiveness every day

It’s a battle. He will eat the banana but I can rarely persuade him to peel back the skin himself. Even if we leap that hurdle, then I need to cut the banana into slices so that he can eat it with a fork. This is not a boy who will permit his fingers to be contaminated by direct digital contact. He needs a tool to protect his fingers from the texture of the banana.

It has been just like this for a very long time. Failure to co-operate on my part means that either he won't eat bananas at all, one of his thirteen precious foods, or he'll attempt to eat it whole with catastrophic results.

I dither and debate, but ultimately decide to go on strike and withdraw my services at least temporarily, until I’ve finished the washing up. Either he can wait a few minutes or do it himself. I know that patience is not one of his strengths but I doubt if he is sufficiently hungry to be motivated to tackle the task solo.

I watch him out of the corner of my eye. He yelps, just like a puppy when you step on their tail. His sister takes pity on him and snaps off the stalk for the first strip of peel. She looks me. My eyes widen, “come on! You can do it now. I’ve started it fur yah!” He tries, with the precision of a surgeon, thumb nail tip to index finger nail. There is no possibility that the skin on his finger tips will touch it. Each movement is accompanied by another yip. Some minutes later, two thirds of the skin has been removed. The banana is revealed,lying on it’s last layer of skin.

“Knife!” he bellows, but we slaves ignore his cries. Thwarted once again, he decides to be ingenious and brave at the same time.

The third Karate chop has barely made a dent in the fairly ripe banana but I am none the less impressed. I suspect that the sides of our hands, are not that sensitive, but it’s still a major step for him.

“Fork!” he commands. I shake my head sadly in reply, “sorry my hands are still wet.” This is sufficient explanation and excuse, as he is aware of the full horror of a fork or any other utensil, when it has been contaminated with a drop or two of water.

“Barnacles! Barnacles! Barnacles!” he swears, shamelessly. Many a child would leave the table and collect a fork. Many other children do not. I could prompt him to do this and he probably would, but without a verbal or visual cue he falls back on his own resources, but that’s what inertia looks like around here.

“I know!” he squeaks. He leans forward tentatively, wide mouthed so that there is no possibility that his lips will touch the banana. His teeth grip the lump and in it goes.

A full 45 minutes later he has Karate chopped and nipped his way through the whole banana. Appetite satisfied, because we all get there in the end, one way or another, resourceful little devils.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

I hear Thunder

A drastic change in diet can often bring with it, some dramatic changes in disposition. In my son’s case, his disposition hasn’t so much changed, as been restored, and not by diet but my medication. His anger has been dispelled, but the pills have cast a spell over his digestive system. There’s no beating about the bush here, we are constantly assaulted by grievous frequent flatulence.

Sometimes he tells us in advance, so that we can practice our ‘duck and cover’ skills. At other times the bombs come without a health warning. So much depends upon how in tune we are with our bodies and the surrounding environment. All too often we hear tales of how a sixth sense is at work in some individuals. These people, and often animals, are so highly attenuated that they are able to detect an oncoming heart attack or a diabetic crash. Sometimes they warn of hurricanes or floods. Uncanny, mysterious and slightly bewildering.


I hang the last few decorations on the tree before the guests arrive for the "sleepover." I am uncertain which parts of me are malfunctioning? Either the tree is bigger or the decorations are smaller and perhaps more numerous? Either way it might be the beastly bifocals or the dodgy fingers because control of time seems to escape me. I am permanently stuck on fast forward.

The boys loll around on the floor, absorbed with the grain work of the wood and watching dust particles in the bright Californian light. This is their way of participating, their physical presence. We are duly honoured. I wonder if I’ll have time to vacuum before the fray?
“How come these decorations are so puny?”
“They’re English.”
“How come these decorations are so fiddly?”
“Because they’re English.”
“Owg Mom yur not gonna hang that old thing! It’s gross man!”
“It’s gross man!” It’s gross man!” It’s gross man!” he echos from the general area of the floor boards. I smile to myself, because this is one of my favourite decorations, one made by her big sister’s oh so fare young hands, a couple of decades ago. I am smug because this is almost a repetition of the same debate. Oh the joy of being mature and wise.
“It is not gross, it is merely old,” just like everything else around here.
“Yah mean it’s an antique?”
“It’s an antique? It’s an antique? It’s an antique?” he echoes as echolalia is ever present. With everyone at home, double echolalia, one version from each boy, is the musical background to nearly every waking moment.

I pause, reflective and experienced. I always forget that ‘antique’ is defined differently depending upon the continent.
“Um….well you might say that. May I hang it if it is an antique?”
“No! We should sell it and be billionaires!”
“And be billionaires! And be billionaires! And be billionaires!”
“Some things really are priceless you know dear,” I advise is a wise and obscure manner.
“It’s more than a billion?”
“More than a billion? More than a billion? More than a billion?”
“Not exactly. It’s hard to put an exact figure on it.”
“Figure on it. Figure on it. Figure on it.”
“Geez guys, cun yah jus let mom answer a minute why dontcha!” For some unaccountable reason, they remain silent. What is her secret? We regroup. I collect my thoughts, every tiny little one of them, but as I open my mouth to reply, the little one bellows, “Earthquake! Earthquake! Earthquake! It is a compound word?” My daughter’s eye balls lock onto mine as we freeze, motionless and waiting, paralyzed by fear, aliens unable to control tectonic plates. Why didn’t I pay more attention during ‘Awareness Week.’ Doth the child have Savant powers? We shall all be killed and no-one will ever know! Is this the silence before the end?
The other one confesses, “Oopsie! My butt! My bad!”

It seems that I'm always mis-interpreting matters and jumping to the wrong "conclusions."

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Holiday [Christmas for some] meme

"Stacy" from "JameeForever" has tagged me with this meme that I am completely unqualified to complete, what a trial that woman is!

Doesn't she know that I'm still in "Birthday mode"?

1) Wrapping paper or gift bags?

Predominantly cloth bags, partly because of the hideousness of paper that no-one can touch and partly to save the planet's trees because we recycle them year after year.

2) Real tree or artificial?

Both. Artificial for the children [although it's only become vaguely interesting this year] and we cut down the tree on the side of the house [it re-sprouts, honest].

3) When do you put up your tree?

Varies from year to year. We try and be American and put it up during the Thanksgiving break, but REALLY there should be nothing until Christmas Eve - it's a RULE.

4) When do you take the tree down?

The day before the recycling chappies are coming to visit.

5) Do you like eggnog?

Vile, poisonous, sickly, glutinous, liquid muck.

6) Favorite gift received as a child?

A teddy bear with a musical windup key in his poor little back.

7) Do you have a Nativity scene?

Yes, we made it ourselves out of cardboard. Everybody completely ignores it.

8) The hardest person to buy for?


9) The easiest person to buy for?


10) The worst Christmas gift you ever received?

A tea towel / dish cloth with I consider ever so slightly worse than the oven glove.

11) Mail or e-mail Christmas cards?

12) Favorite Christmas movie?

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs.

13) When do you start shopping for Christmas?

Throughout the year.

14) Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?

Yes. Do you have a problem with that?

15) Favorite things to eat at Christmas?

Roast potatoes with lots of salt.

16) Clear lights or colored on the tree?


17) Favorite Christmas song?

I do not like any Christmas songs at all, but I'm fond of a few Christmas Carols.

18) Travel at Christmas or stay home?

Home, simply by default. I'll travel. Who wants to see us?

19) Can you name all Santa's reindeer?

Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Rudolph, Blitzen, Vixen, Comet, Cupid. Clearly these are American names. They are easy to remember because they are daft. If they'd had sensible names like George and Fred, they'd be far more difficult to remember.

20) Angel on the tree top or a star?


21) Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?

Morning. The exercise continues way past New Year.

22) Most annoying thing about this time of year?


23) What is the "corniest" family tradition you do or miss doing?

Corny! I have no idea what that word even means? Everything about our entire existence is tasteful and refined.

24) Ugliest Christmas decorations ever invented?

Those huge blow up outside decorations.

25) Which looks the best...theme trees or homey trees?

Homey? Please could we have a few more international translations please!
Themed are obviously best. 'Homey' are infinitely preferable.

26) What does Christmas mean to you?

Peace and goodwill to all people.

So who to tag? Who hasn't already completed this one? Let me see. In the interests of being fair and arbitrary and annoying, I shall tag the next 7 people who are foolish enough to make comments today, which will be yesterday when you read this. Huh!

So first up we have "Emily" from "Wheels on the bus." Aha, and she hasn't done the meme so this is clearly a brilliant executive decision on my part.

Then there's "Burfica" over at
"Don't Eat the Tomatoes" and yes I loved the choral! Please note that the correct pronunciation would be 'tom ah toes,' but you already knew that of course.

My next unfortunate victim is over at "Heidi" over at "Vikingconquest" where she is attempting to conquest Norway. I have no doubt she will be as successful in her conquests there as I am being here!

Gosh darn it, next up we feature the lovely "Miss Bossy" over at "I am Bossy" who has yet to learn to play along with these things. There again, her Advent Calendars are clearly more than challenge enough.

Then lovely Ms. "Veganmomma" at "Not your Ordinary Momma," which will probably be a jolly handy site for anyone wishing to experiment with strange food stuffs or any of the 'run about and wear yourself out' types.

Aha! And then we have one of my favourite victims "Joker the Lurcher" over at "Bona Vacantia," where the trials of our doggy friends help us learn an entirely different perspective on things.

Then there is the lovely "Judith" over at "Autismville"
which is great for the technically challenged such as myself!

So there you go dearies, let me know when it's up and running.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Christmas meme

"Elissa" from "Managing Autism" has tagged me this Christmas meme - tis the season to be tagged, it would appear.

“When people say ‘Christmas’ you immediately think…”

Quick! Remember to say 'Holiday!' Remember which land mass you're on!

“Favourite Christmas memory…”


“Favourite Christmas song/carol…”

'God rest ye Merry Gentlemen' but only if choral [to save us all from Satan's power!] Strangely I know every word and yet I don't remember learning them.

“Favourite Christmas movie…”

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs

“Favourite Christmas character…”

Are there any? Father Christmas?

“Favourite Christmas ornament/object…”

See picture above, made by my eldest daughter's fair hands 20 years ago.

“Plans for this Christmas…”

Home with the family in-between packing for England and the "Wedding."

“Is Christmas your favourite holiday?”


So I shall tag:-

"Art in the Garage"

at "Whee All The Way Home."

"Terry" at "Planet3RRY"

at "Memoirs of a Chaotic Mommy"

at "Inherwritemind1"

at "It's All Okay"

"Susan" at "West of Mars"

"The Ironic Catholic" that has to be a winner!

And "elasticwaistbandlady" at "The Smiling Infidel," what a combination.

Sorry it's so short but I'm preparing for the "sleepover" and I have a head-cold.

p.s. if you are one of the many kindly souls that sent me an 'e-card' and wonder why I have been so rude in not responding, have already crossed me off your Christmas card list for next year and are thoroughly miffed by my cold hearted rebuff, this is due to one of the following:-

a] the card is virtually real or
b] really virtual
and I am unable to distinguish one from the other. One or the other threatens to virtually wipe out my computer and really send me reeling, so I don't open either.

Cheers dearies

Myspace Graphics

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Navigating the Social world

I have reason to believe that I am the sole arbiter of social norms.

Because I am a superior being in these matters, I have no problem advising my daughter when it comes to her birthday celebration. Our last December birthday, and then I may turn my attention to the other big holiday celebration, if I have an ounce of energy left.

“So how many are comin Mom?”
“Well I don’t really know. Definitely 5 maybe 7?” Presumably because I failed to translate R.S.V.P on the invitation? “Perhaps you could ask them to telephone me dear?”
“Very good. So I’ll collect the cake after I’ve made room for it in the freezer.”
“Oh. About that.”
“About what?”
“We need a different cake.”
“A different cake from the special, made to order one, that you specifically choose as being your favourite, you mean?” Rather than the home made, artistically created with love version, from your mother? How many more 'sacrifices' do I have to make, deny my own pleasure, just so that she can be happy?
“Joanne don’t like ice-cream cake.”
“But YOU like ice-cream cake and it’s YOUR birthday.”
“Yeah but I want my friends to be happy too.” This is taking accommodation too far!
“Fair enough. How about I make another cake, a little one, that way every one will be happy?”
“Yeah and get some ice cream too.”
“What for?”
“To go with the cake that you’re gonna make.”
“But what about the ice-cream cake, made with ice-cream?”
“That’s right! Remember, you have the cake which yah have with ice-cream, unless yah don’t like ice-cream, or yah have the ice-cream coz you don't like the cake, then yah have the ice-cream cake if yah like ice-cream cake.” It’s the American way, what can I say. Take a perfectly delightful piece of cake and then make a hideously soggy disgusting mess of it with a dollop of ice-cream. Vile.
“O.k. So,..... I shall buy the pizzas today whilst you are at school.”
“Oh no. Not pizza!”
“I thought you said you wanted pizza? A special treat?”
“No coz Sara doesn’t like pizza.”
“But all Amer….um…..children like pizza!” Except my boys of course, although technically, they’re not invited to the sleepover.
“Oh. Well how about spaghetti then?”
“No. She dun like that either.”
“But all Ameri……what does she like?”
“She does, really! I like it too. Can we have Calamari? Please?”
“Leave that one with me. Do the rest of your friends like Calamari?”
“No but that’s o.k. coz Petra isn’t staying the night.”
“It’s a sleepover! Why isn’t she staying the night?”
“Coz of the boys.”
Let me die now.
I need an emergency pack of patience right this second.
"Um... why dear?"
"You know!” she says knowingly. I take a deep breath as it would be inconvenient to explode at this stage of the conversation. I need an emergency pack of tolerance right this second.
“What about the boys dear?” Pass me the ‘peace and love to all mankind’ emergency pack. What is wrong with these people! Must a little genetic variation always have such a dire impact?
“Well they’re, you know.....boys."
"An she’s a girl and she ain’t got no brothers, soooo….”
“So what?”
“Well she ain’t gonna stay the night in a house that’s got boys sleepin there too, duh!”

It’s official, I’m 119 years old and incapable of thinking outside the coffin shaped box of my own making. Just dig a six foot hole and bury me under the weight of my prejudices.

Is she really only about to be 10?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Staying power - Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Things about Maddy's Mayhem

I have wanted to try the Thursday Thirteen for quite a while, but I was never able to think of thirteen anythings, as 3 is usually about my limit. Then, as if by chance, a foolish therapist suggested that we should adopt a new campaign to improve our quality of life. I baulked at the suggestion and she queried my resistance, "but we already have a zillion campaigns on the go as it is, I couldn't possibly squeeze in another, something might go pop!" I could see that she was doubtful and so I began a lengthy list of the current ongoing campaigns. I expect they are very similar to most parents' campaigns.

1. Sharing and taking turns. All children are subject to this arbitrary peace making attempt by parents.

2. Use your words! Preferable to screams and or meltdowns.

3. The speech therapy practice of the 'th' sound, very common for small lispy people.

4. When you bump into someone you should apologize. 'Sorry' will do. Purpose? To help with self awareness, or awareness of where your body is in space, as well as a greater awareness that other people also exist on the same rather crowded planet.

5. Change the question 'what it is' into 'what is it?' Plus the sub campaign of referencing back, where the questioner should give a small clue or hint about what the question refers to.

6. Keep clothing on body, this is not a seasonal rule.

7. Eat a new food, preferably within the next 12 months.

8. Tolerate texture and it's sub campaign regarding temperature fluctuations.

9. Volume control. We need some.

10. Before you enter the house put your shoes on the shelf. Enter the house and put your socks in the bucket. Currently this campaign has been ongoing for 4 years with limited if any success despite frequent daily practice. This campaign came into existence out of necessity. I took me too much time to remove six shoes, socks, assorted clothes and backpacks from the doorway and leave the children unsupervised INSIDE the house.

It seemed simpler to teach them this life skill instead. It isn't simpler. My body bars entry into the house as they each attempt these few small steps, verbal prompts, visual prompts all delivered promptly to no avail but at least we are all within the same 6 foot area, and there's safety in supervision.

Four years of the wrong campaign. Instead of adding a campaign I should spend my time thinking through what's going wrong with this one campaign. I could probably claw back an additional twenty to twenty five minutes of time per trip.

11. Do not twiddle and fiddle with your fingers. I am determined to beat this genetic fluke before our household is devoid of buttons, door knobs, tags, labels etc..

12. Modulation and regulation in everything. This roughly translates to 'all things in moderation.'

13. Speech and social skills campaign to continue to use compliments and kind, positive words, whenever possible. "I am lovin yur red eyes" doesn't strictly count.

In reality, there are many more, but those were the few that I could think of as I hopped from one spot to another in the waiting room at therapy, whilst herding the troops to remain within the confined space.

So that would be try, try, try again......I suppose?

Myspace Graphics

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tactile What? Wordy Wednesday

“Geez Wednesday again already! Has life speeded up?”
”And a jolly good morning to you too. No smarmy comments now?
“Smarmy? When will you ever learn to speak American?’
“I’m working on it. I just expect a hard time from you.”
“Hard time? That sounds vaguely rude.”
“Quash the rude antennae, I just slipped into foreign for a moment.”
“O.k. so down to business then. What do we have here? Don’t say I have to guess or I may just have to smack you.”
“Perish the thought! So you don’t think it’s self explanatory?”
“Your Wordless Wednesday posts are never that!”
“Well he’s playing with those winkum dinkum magnet thingummy do dahs.”
“Yup see those and your point is?”
“Well he’s playing. Or rather he was at the time. He was about four. It was a great breakthrough.”
“You’ve lost me.”
“Well ‘play’ can be a tricky thing. Especially if your fine motor skills are poor.”
“I’m not convinced that you know what ‘fine motor skills’ really are?”
“I do, sort of. The ability to make your fingers do what you want them to do, or toes for that matter.”
“Geez. Do I really wanna know what your toes can do?’
“No, you probably don’t but it’s the principal. Control over those extraneous bits and pieces.”
“My fingers aren’t extraneous.”
“Yours maybe not, but for lots of people, especially those with tactile defensiveness, fingers are difficult to control.”
“O.k. so you’re saying two things really, non functioning fingers and tacile…..?”
“Just think texture, how things feel, although it can also be affected by temperature.”
“Temperature too? This is getting awfully complicated. I didn’t come here for a lecture you know?”
“True. Try it this way. Say that being the experienced woman of the world that you are, you reach out to touch an ice cube and the sensation you feel is heat.”
“Er o.k. so you’re saying that……he doesn’t feel what we all feel?”
“In part, it’s more that whatever it is that he does feel, he feels in ten times more intensely than we do, either too many nerve ending or maybe more sensitive. Haven't you ever touched something so hot or so cold you weren't sure exactly what you were feeling?”
“Actually I have! That would be confusing, quite scary in some ways.”
“There you go! You’ve hit the nail on the head again. You get so that you don’t trust your fingers, you want to protect them.”
“So that’s like the kids that wrap themselves up in a coat all day.”
“Could be for some of them but there could be a lot of other sensory reasons too. Don’t want to jump to conclusions.”
“So his fingers are being brave touching those magnet things?’
“Yes, and they’re great because they snap into position. You don’t have to be able to manipulate them that accurately.”
“So all good stuff then?’
“You have high expectations?”
“Well you know, years ago I used to say that I hoped that my children would be healthy, happy and normal.”
“Pretty low expectation then. Well I kinda knew you were a pessimist.”
“True but in todays world, I thought that those goals were pretty high expectations.”
“You’ve changed your view?”
“A little bit.”
“How so?”
‘Just one bit. ‘Normal’ is very overrated.”
"Oh and one last thing?"
"Why does the photo have 'left hand helps right hand' on it?"
"Ah well I didn't want to complicate the matter with midlines."
"Midlines? What on earth are midlines. I don't have any of those."
"You do! Everyone does. I'll leave that for another time or you can check out "Slice and Dice" if you're feeling brave?"
"Til next week then?"
"Cheers dearies."

Monday, December 10, 2007

Parental Expectations

Given the gene pool around here, I anticipated that my children would also be allergic to exercise. We don’t watch sport nor to we engage in anything that hazardous to health and mental well being.

That aside it would appear that my children, like most children have excessive amount of energy, the trampolene only gets us so far. Sometimes I just have to work with what I have and exploit it to the full.

“Ooo I am love!” he coos.
“What do you love dear?”
“Dem golden balls!” He clutches a yellow tennis ball in each hand, enraptured.
“Those are tennis balls actually.”
“Tennis balls? What is it be ‘tennis’?”
“It’s a game that two or four people play with rackets.”
“What is it be dah ‘racket’?”
“Hang on a minute, I’ll show you.” I dash off into the garage and present him with a rather dusty tennis racket.
“Ooo dis is dah good stick fing. I am liking it very much. I can be keeped it?”
“Be my guest.” I had temporarily forgotten his current liking for long handled things. Dragging a tennis racket around with us everywhere would be a considerable improvement on the toilet plunger, so much easier to explain, or rather not explain at all.

A general group interest develops between the children, the balls and the tennis racket. My daughter fetches two more from the garage. After a few minutes of wild instruction I decide that we will decamp to the park, if I hope to retain my windows in tact.

I decide that the best approach is to ambush them. Since ‘outside’ and ‘not in the house’ is a recipe for disaster, I decide to be sneaky.
“Let’s all get in the car then, as we need to nip out and buy some milk.” I gather tennis rackets and sundry bribes whilst the salmon weep, wail and slap around on the floor in protest. This is only to be expected, firstly because it is a transition, and they hate those, and secondly because they hate the car.

Before too long, about 25 minutes, we zip along to the milk shop. I warn them of the detour, now that they are all safely strapped in, “we’ll just drop in at the park for a while to enjoy the sunshine and a breath of fresh air.” It’s a statement, not a question, but verbal protests make my ears bleed.

I park in a safe spot, lock the road side door and release them into the safety of the park the other side. The boys roll on the grass. A casual passer by might think they were having run rolling in the leaves, although the screams might give another message, “I am die in dah sun!”
“I am be melting!”
I drag the sack of play things from the back of the car, together with a cartoon of Goldfish Crackers to bribe them into movement.

The tennis court is some distance from the rest of the park. This is good because it means that no-one is particularly bothered by the screamers. I delight in the surrounding wire mesh fence. Escape is impossible as the latch on the door is too complicated and cold for them to consider touching.

I play with my daughter so that the boys can observe as that is how they learn best. I am confident that when they see how much fun we are having they are bound to want to join in too. My youngest son decides that he will join in. He hold the red plastic baseball bat in a fierce grip as he charges around trying to hit the tennis ball. I am so glad that no-one is watching. I am so glad that there are no American’s around to bear witness to this travesty. I watch my son race around like a hare at the Greyhound track.

I saunter over to my other son. Kinesthetic learning is the way forward. He is already willing to have a go after his virtual experience with the Wii. I need him to be successful. We stand together like spoons as I guide his body through the motions. I remember that I have always been a lousy tennis player but I have the basics. Together we are poised. We teeter on the edge of positive reinforcement as the racket head makes contact with the ball and it flies over the net. He whips around to face me, wordless but beaming.

Of course it was a one hit wonder!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Autistic children seldom lie

It's one of those "Theory of Mind" hic-cups. Some prefer to call is guileless or innocence. They don't dissemble or sugar coat the truth. What you see is what you get, quite refreshing in some respects. It's one of those developmental milestones that some children never reach.

I grit my teeth and book the Respite worker for the three hour minimum. Every thing has been planned with careful precision. The parent teacher conference is only half an hour. Superior being that I am, I cannot be in two places at one time. The babysitter will come 45 minutes early, 30 minutes to become familiar [ish] and 15 minutes to allow me to drive to school. 30 minutes conference, 15 minutes home. One and a half hours work for three hours pay. This is the kind of job I want.

I brief her. My only requirement is that homework is completed whilst I’m away. I resolve that I shall prompt them through the other complex chores myself on return, or if really desperate, do them myself.

I spend a blissfully peaceful time in the conference room, quietly discussing the why’s and wherefores of my daughter’s education. It is a civilized meeting between grown up people with no distractions or interruptions, which roughly translates to a day at a Health Spa, or so I would imagine.

I emerge from the classroom refreshed and energized. I begin to think evil thoughts. Maybe I could use the additional hour and a half in a productive manner, child free? I remember that there are only a few short weeks until the Holidays and as yet we are without Holiday gifts of any kind. This is the price you pay for bad genes. I know it’s hereditary because my own mother was born in December. The DNA is undeniable, February is a bad month for us McEwen’s. Hence, 40 weeks later, another December birth day. Once might be accidental, but twice has to be the gene pool. It is only now after all three December birthday celebrations that I can turn my attention to the Holidays.

I dither. Is Holiday shopping a pleasure or merely additional persecution? Am I the only person on the planet who is allergic to shopping?

I calculate using my super brain. Twenty minutes to drive to Target and park or abandon car. Allow twenty minutes for the return journey. Maybe 30 minutes to allow for the commuting traffic and red lights. Thirty minutes to bimble around the shop with ten minutes to queue, pay and pack. Perfect!

I telephone the baby sitter to check that I am not inconveniencing her? All is well. I am granted permission to shop. I jump in the car ready to complete my quest. As I drive I contemplate how calm the baby sitter sounded, how peaceful and quiet my household was without me. I determine that I just might have found a gem, a super human being capable of child management without the aid of earplugs? I bite my lip. Is this woman the answer to my prayers? I hum, because I am alone, “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth or one good Respite worker.”

I trundle around the shop with my trusty trolly. For some unaccountable reason there appears to be crowd of people with similar plans to me. I wade through the treacle of bodies who block my view of all my potential purchases. Today’s shoppers have left their GPS devices at home, which means that they mill about willy nilly and far too slowly. I am certain that they hide all the really good things that I ought to be buying.

I head for home with only a few gifts under my belt but at least I have made a start.

I hide my meager purchases in the boot of the car for later retrieval and trundle into the house with empty hands. The baby sitter greets me amiably in the kitchen. It is very quiet. It is very quiet because all three of my children are plugged into their electronic devices at an exceedingly early hour of the afternoon. There is no evidence that their chores, to assemble their packed lunches and choose their clothes for tomorrow, have been completed.

I decide to complete the paper work with the Respite worker first and then attend to my children’s needs, as I don’t wish to delay her departure. At the dining room table I clear a space between the homework binders to complete forms and sign on the dotted line. I flip open a binder to see several untouched worksheets. “Oh dear! Haven’t they done their homework!” I squeak as I check the other folders. “No. No homework,” she beams.
“How come they haven’t done their homework?” I clarify, just in case I have inadvertently switched to Swahili.
“I ask him.”
“What did you ask him?”
“I ask him if he has homework?”
“You asked him, a seven year old?”
“Really. And what did he say?” Go on! Surprise me why dontcha!
“He said no.”

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