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

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Explosive Child

I read and scribble in the margin of the “The Explosive Child.” Ordinarily written dialogue is helpful, but I find it hard to believe that any parent would speak to their child in such a manner. They all seem to get far too cross too soon. Either the average parent has very high expectations of their children, or maybe I have very low expectations of mine? Since I am generally in the minority, I conclude that the latter must be correct.

I am very much aware of the dual plank that parents need to tread: expect the most from your child and they will try and live up to your expectations, versus do not set unrealistic goals for your children or set the bar to high so that they do not experience continued failure. This particular plank beats me from both ends all too frequently.

What are often dual standards quickly become quadruple standards if you have a typical child in the mix, even if I ignore other family dynamics.

One simple example is as follows:- a parent calls from the kitchen to their child ‘turn off your game, wash your hands and come to the table for dinner.’ It’s an approximation not a quote. The child, for whatever reason[s], does not comply, an argument ensues and all is lost. It’s a very ordinary every day example of a situation that many parents experience often, but not me.

First of all this is a three step sequence, the parent asks the child to do three different things in succession, and we’re still working on two step sequences. The request is made verbally, their are no visual cues such as a schedule board, PECS or cards, to support the requests. Secondly, the parent speaks to the child from another room. Although I do this too, I know it doesn’t work. Thirdly, anything to do with the termination of electronics time, has a whole set of extra rules that must be applied sympathetically by the parent, or rather by me. Fourthly, washing hands is a 13 step sequence in and of itself! Fifthly, as with many families, the offer of food is not a positive incentive but an aggressive aversive and must be handled with due sensitivity.

A sensible person will ask ‘well why are you reading it then dimwit!’ or ‘have you changed their diagnosis without telling me?’ Well I’m reading it because it was recommended by someone I trust, and although their labels remain the same, there is such a huge overlap with other labels that it never hurts to widen the net and pick up a few tips from elsewhere. Does this mean that the book is useless? On the contrary I know I still have a great deal to learn. I am sure that this recommendation to me will prove useful in many respects. However, it does make me realize how far we are off the beaten track.

Maybe we need to take up hiking?

Perish the thought!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

If I had a hammer

I skip out into the garage to find a nail. I have lots of nails. Some of them are hidden in the garage. Some are hidden at strategic points around the house, although nails suffer from the same problem as chocolate. Unlike the average squirrel, I frequently forget where I have hidden the nails or the chocolate. Spouse may be in England but his presence haunts me still. He is a man of very strong principles, especially when it comes to nails, hence my subterfuge.

When we lived in England he let me have my head when it came to nails, but in America things are very different. I am no longer permitted to stick nails in things ‘willy nilly,’ as he is apt to say. I accept that I was in part to blame for us losing our deposit on our rental house but I’m sure that the landlords miscounted. Even I know that 116 nail holes in a bathroom the size of a cupboard is a little excessive. As a snide aside, I should like to take this opportunity to point out to those said landlords, that anyone who fails to appreciate the joy of a three inch increase in height and volume of their one puny flower bed, with free organic matter, is no pal of mine! Cacti to them! But I digress.

Maybe I should explain further. In America, or rather in California, we are subject to earthquakes. This means that houses are generally not made of brick. Better to imagine the Japanese style of architecture, bamboo rods with rice paper, delicate and divine. Here however, instead of bamboo, they just use sticks. They hide the sticks under plaster, which they insist on calling ‘dry wall’ or ‘sheet rock’ for no particular reason that I can fathom. In order to hang anything on a wall, you first need to find the hidden sticks. In order to find the hidden sticks, you have to find the hidden tool in the garage which detects the whereabouts of the sticks. I kid you not!

Failure to attend to these important matters means that the hanging thing will fall down and smash, and you may well ‘tear’ your wall. What a country!

Spouse objects strongly to torn walls, it’s just one of his little foibles. In order to limit the number of torn walls, he fills the garage with wood screws and other useless electrical things that hide my store of nails. He really is that petty minded.

Sadly, it gets worse. Not only is my nail consumption rationed, he also bans random use of hammers. Personally I couldn’t care which hammer I use, they’re all the same to me, namely out of reach, practically on the ceiling. However, spouse insists that different hammers do different jobs, although it’s all a bit vague. Do I insist that one wooden spoon should be favoured over another in the kitchen? Of course not. Everyone is welcome to use my spoons be that as oars, "dibbers," drumsticks or cooking. Some people are just so picky.

As I tip toe against the wall arms extended overhead, a little voice accosts me, “what for are you be do?” I roll back onto my heels to address the small person and explain the obvious. I pause and look at him. He is so rarely static and vertical at the same time. He stands with his hands clasped neatly behind his back. It is a curious stance for a child, patient, attentive and absorbent. It exactly matches that of my father.

I resist the temptation of sarcasm and remind myself that 'all opportunities are learning opportunities,' which is not one of my own nauseating phrases, but someone else's nauseating phrases.

I try to copy his speech pathologist to fire those synapses and connect those neural pathways. “What is this called dear?” Categories and word retrieval can be such hard work.
“Um it be nail.”
“Excellent! And what is this tool?”
“It be hammer.”
“Superb. What do you think I’m going to do with them?”
“I dun know.”
“Well I’m going to hang this up on the wall.”
“No? Why not?”
“Coz you are be use dah wrong hammer?”
“What’s wrong with the hammer?”
“It is not be yours.”
“Your dad and me share dear.”
“No…..you are be use dah wimmins hammer.”
“What woman’s hammer?”
“Dah special one dat Dad is being buying for you.”

I’d forgotten all about that one.

Clearly my own neural pathways could do with a tune up.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Chicken Little

After careful consideration I decide that their behaviour has been exceptional and that a treat is in order. I research our options before I collect them from school. What new culinary experience might best fit the bill? Where is noisy enough?


I have another brilliant idea. Now would be the perfect time to try Kentucky Fried Chicken. Two of them eat chicken and I am fairly confident that chips will be available.

I make time to explain the plan. I ensure that I have everyone’s attention prior. I plant the word ‘fries’ in the second statement to pre-empt a meltdown. I emphasis the reward nature of the experience, as a certain amount of doubt is immediately apparent. My daughter is delighted. The boys check her out to see whether or not they should be delighted too. I remind them of our nauseating catch phrase, ‘new, different, exciting.’ They reluctantly decide that weak positive enthusiasm, is possibly the best option.

We spend copious amounts of time with shoes and toilets because I am distracted by finding the nearest restaurant location with the aid of the computer. I give up and attend to feet and bodily functions because I have the luxury of a GPS system in the car.

My children sit in the car for seven minutes fighting their car seat belts whilst I fight with the logic of the GPS, always a mystery. After my 27th attempt at typing in ‘Kentucky Fried Chicken’ I am just about ready to cut my fingertips off with a pair of secateurs.
“What is wrong with this stupid thing!” I squeak at no-one in particular.
“I’m sure it’s real near. I remember seeing it near somewhere.”
“Near yet ever so far at the same time!” I bleat. “I suppose we could just drive around and hope that we bump into it?”
“No bumping in car!”
“She din mean real bumping.”

I need a plan B and quite possibly a plan C. I long for spouse to return, the man with a compass in his head. “I thought you said we were going to the chicken place?”
“We are! Or rather we would be if I could find it.”
“Type it in again. Let me see.”
“There’s no point. I’ve already tried every possible feasible combination of location, city, keyword, place name and street. It doesn’t exist.”
“It does. I saw it say Main Street or something.”
“Main Street in Arizona, about 1679 miles away.”
“How long will it take us to get there?”
“But I’m hungry, I don’t think I can wait that long. Try again, let me help.”
“O.k. just to show you, here K-E-N-T-U-C-“
“Wait what?”
“What are you typing?”
“Kentucky Fried Chicken.”
“Try KFC.”
“It’ll never pick up on that, it needs everything spelled out for it.”
“Jus try it mom.”
“Ah…..1.6 miles, that’s a bit more like it.”

We park on the curb side of the lot to narrow the chance of anyone being mown down before we manage to enter the establishment. As it turns out, we are unable to enter the establishment in any case. My youngest son is prostrate on the concrete by the entrance, quite a feat for the tactile defensive amongst us. I try and drag him away from the doors to avoid pedestrian traffic trampeling. Strangely he is compliant. We wait for words to return, but my daughter is ahead of the hunt, “he ain’t gonna go in there!”
“Why not?”
“Veggie tales.”
“There’s a poster of Veggietales on the door.” The vomit sounds from my son confirm her accuracy.
“Vegetables are be poison!”
“Chips are made of potatoes, remember that potatoes are a vegetable?”
He sits bolt upright, reviews the poster whilst he sucks his fingers. He bobs to his toes and is in the double doors in a flash.

Inside I suppress a groan. Menu choices abound. Too much darned choice! There are enough different combinations to satisfy every family. The boys swing on the bars to help them assimilate the information. My daughter and I gaze at the board like goons.
“What do you think you would like dear?”
“I’m gonna have a burger an fries.”
“No, which chicken dish are you going to have?”
“I’m not gonna have chicken.”
“But that’s why we came here!” I squeak in exasperation. My sons falls off the bars in a heap, an ooof and a “I be have dah burger also.”
“What about the chicken!”

I give up and place our order. I read the options again and peer into the back to see if I can spot a knife and fork, or something else that might work like a knife or a fork. After another 10 days of liquid diet following dental carnage, I am doubtful of my ability to eat anything quite as solid as chicken. I dither whether or not to ask. I decide to pretend that I am an American and do what Americans do, I just need to watch them to see what how they manage this culinary feat. All three of my children play ‘rock, paper, scissors’ loudly, in the centre of the room, elevated on tall stools for maximum broadcasting.

“Hey Mom, they called yur name.”
“Did they? Are you sure?”
“Yeah, they called Maddison right?” I remember that I’m on the wrong continent and stomp over to the counter to collect numerous Styrofoam packages without a recycle label.

The children concur that the plastic free toy is inferior to the MacDonald’s equivalent. They agree that the burgers are not up to par with competitors. Chips are granted a paultry 7 out of ten, but consumption of calories continues in between the light banter. We are meltdown free and collectively as noisy as the other 26 people in the restaurant. Balance personified. I examine my food and wonder how best to tackle it? Biting is banned for 6 months. No tools are forthcoming. All around me people chew on drumsticks, gnaw on chicken wings, gulp down lumps of chicken breast and general show off.
“Why aren’t you eatin Mom? Don’t like the chicken after all?”
“I love the chicken, or rather I hope to love the chicken. I’m just not quite sure how to eat it.”
“Just pull a bit off, a bit sized piece.”
“You can do it. If you make it small enough you won’t need to chew, just swallow.”
“Go on. Give it a go.”
“But it’s all greasy, I’ll get my hands all slimy.” The boys look at me, dead in the eye, open mouthed with food falling, “sa finger lickin good.”

I think the sky is falling in!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sheep May Safely Graze

Many parents are prone to moan about all the things that their autistic child will never do. I am exceptionally good at moaning myself, in fact, I have far more to moan about because we have double trouble around here.

Although autism is a spectrum disorder, often there are common themes. One common theme that we suffer around here, is an ability to enjoy nature's wonders, or more specifically, natures wonder's if they happen to be outside. For as long as I can remember both of them have been "allergic" to outside. I have used every tric……available therapy and strategy to desensitize them to this common garden phenomenon will little success. Short of staking them to the broad beans poles, I’m out of ideas, although duct tape might be a kinder option for the tactile defensive amongst us. I’m tempted to dip into a modern day Grimm’s and lay a trail of M & M’s up the garden path but we already have enough "ant" problems around here.

Although I find few activities as therapeutic, I am in the minority of one in this household. It peeves my environmental conscience that my spouse has insisted on installing a lawn, which Americans strangely call sod. The amount of water, energy, weeding and titivating that it requires to survive is out of all proportion to it’s beneficial properties. Or so I thought.


I hear a clatter on the door and peek through the window to see my daughter chucking Poke Balls at the windows. She screams at her brothers from the garden, “hey guys, come on out here and play Pokemon in the long grass!” I march to the door to give her a piece of my mind regarding such vandalism but the boys slip out before me and hover on the step. “Look I got the grass types! Treeko, Tortera, Turtwig and Tropius!” The boys squeak with delight and thunder over towards their sister. I snatch the camera and sneak out on tippy toes.

They stand on the grass. My youngest stuffs both his hands in his mouth and breaths noisily. His brother takes a nose dive onto the grass, fingers searching out Pokemon figures, expertly hidden by his sister. I have no stop watch but the moments tick by. I slip into a garden chair under the pergola, in the shade, chameleon that I am. Thank goodness for sludge coloured clothing. I watch two lie on their tummies flattening knee high grass with another one close by, debating, weighing up the odds. “I got Chicorita too!” she adds, with a huge grin on her face. He squeaks and dives, sold to the littlest Pokemon fan in San Jose. I try not to giggle or gasp, as maturation is a beautiful thing. They roll around on the grass just like they roll around on the gravel in the front.

Hunger gets them in the end and they skitter back inside, but only after a considerable and unprecedented period of time. I skuttle in after them, way behind schedule with supper plans delayed. Everyone suffers from instant malnutrition as a crash around the kitchen trying to catch up. I can hardly wait to tell their dad, he’ll never believe it! I’m sure that’s why I take so many photographs, hard evidence for doubting Thomas types. I make pukey white pasta because it’s quick, because it’s a treat, a favourite, a celebration.

I sit at the table with my brood and beam at my dream team. My son whips off his T-shirt but I don’t mind, everything is right with the world. My younger son rubs himself on the arm of the carver chair, the cage to keep him in place, but I don’t care as everything is right with the world. The big one digs his caged fingernails into his neck! When the shrieking starts, I quickly realize that everything is not right with the world, what rash thoughts.
“I am be itch!”
“Me too aghhhhhhhh!

Two new experiences in one day!



So is that reverse genetic engineering?

Mud pies to you my friend.

Over the weekend I posted a couple of pieces to "Trusera," "Woof Louder Pavlov," and "The Green Eyed Monster" just in case you missed them.

Cheers dears

The Green eyed monster

I have been resentful of Americans for far longer than is strictly necessary. Foreigners often have a long list of complaints about their fellows but mine were quite narrowly tailored. I was jealous that everyone had family and friends for support, encouragement and far more importantly, baby sitting duties. I was so caught up in my own particular mire that I completely failed to notice some fundamentally simple principles.

To read more click "here."

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Woof louder Pavlov!

Our household was a relatively quiet one when I was a child. My father would bark at us occasionally, more of a call to order, but on the whole, raised voices were frowned upon. Shouting was considered to be the manifestation of someone’s inability to express themselves in a more erudite manner.

To read more click "Here."

Thursday, April 24, 2008

5 Things Meme

"Joey's Mom" over at "Joey and Mom" tagged me for this 5 things meme, so I shall endeavour to give it my best shot!

5 things found in your bag:

I am a bag! Do we mean a handbag? I'll assume we do. Let me have a quick poke around. Ah. Ipod [with flat battery. ] Telephone [with flat battery] Purse with credit card and receipts but no actual money. [Just like the Queen!] Key fob heavy enough to tie round my ankles and drown in the nearest lake. Folded book with lots of scribbles. [The Explosive Child - I'll let you know if it's any good.] Retainer case [wish it wasn't pink!] Toothbrush and paste. Notebook and pen just in case. Dictaphone. [with flat battery]

Emergency supplies for the children =
Stop watch.
Nail clipper.
Safety pin.
Retractable tape measure.
Ever so slightly furry M & Ms

Oh it's supposed to be five?

5 favorite things in your room:

1. Bed
2. Chair
3. Big cupboard
4. Wicker chair
5. Coffin

Ooo I missed the 'favourite' bit.

Favourite bits in Bedroom:-
1. Patchwork quilt I made as a teenager, ugly as sin but a testament to perseverance
2. Small Flower pot with biro inserted with fake purple flower attached - art work from smallish person
3. Pillow that is shaped like a inverted V, ancient and unavailable in the States. [It props me up when I read and is never used for nefarious purposes.]
4. Fluff Muffs commonly referred to as slippers
5. Sketch given to us by Nonna

5 things you have always wanted to do:

1. Learn to play the saxophone
2. Go abseiling again
3. Visit the Hanging Gardens of Babylon
4. Er

5. Um

5 things you are currently into:


5 people you’d like to tag:

"Michelle" from "House of Lime"
"Mrs. G" from "Derfward Manor"
"Vi" from "Village Secrets"
"Angela" from "Memoirs of a Chaotic Mommy"
"Bonbon Mamma" from "Is this what you do all day."

I feel a little mean not tagging any chaps, but I'm not at all sure that I know any chaps who have a bag. If you are a chap and you do happen to have a bag, feel free to jump on in [don't forget to let me know! - you will of course thus confirm your European status.]

A very common species

[from a few weeks ago]

My children, like many others, have a tendency to repeat what they overhear, but a little more so. As a general rule, I try not use bad language and adopt the alternative mush currently available. My main objection to swearing is that it usually stems from an inability to express oneself more accurately, such as when I drop a hammer on my toe.


As Spring accosts us I have no option but to dig out lighter weight clothing and footwear. I conclude that last year’s flip flops are still a health hazard. Last year they were indeed a bargain but that’s part of the joy of living in America where they have special shops called ‘dollar stores.’ In case you are unfamiliar with this kind of a merchant, let me tell you that everything within their doors costs 50 pence, at current international exchange rates. So saying, this particular bargain with it’s ever so shiny soles, has proved to be my downfall. Almost once a day I am very close to being horizontal, not deliberately but entirely accidentally. Flip flop slip shod, is not the way to make progress fast. I cannot be doing with such gross inefficiency, vertical at all times is the only way forward.

I debate whether I should donate them to a charity store since they are still in mint condition, but I worry about the poor unfortunate who might be duped into a purchase and then suffer additional misfortune as they’re carted off to the Emergency Room. I cannot bring myself to put them in the rubbish either.

By the end of the day I have had far too many close shaves without the benefit of a razor. When I hear the garage door rattle into action everyone roars outside as I skip out to greet my spouse and trip head over heels into a heap. He slams the car door shut and rushes over to assist, “blimey arse over tit or what? Are you o.k.?” I sit up, not dazed or grazed but ever so slightly winded.
“What it is be?”
“What is what?”
“Oh….er….um…...it’s a………bird….see! Quick! Look over there! Gosh, what a shame, you just missed it.”

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Translators are few and far between

Some parents have a difficult time with their autistic children, especially if those children have difficulties with speech.

The main difficulty that these parents have, if they’re like me, is when they are out and about without their speech delayed children,........ speaking.

I think it must be something to do with expectations. I expect to encounter difficulties with my children. I do not expect to encounter difficulties with grown up people who are neither autistic nor speech delayed.

Somehow or other, I expect that we will be able to understand each other.


I tackle the prescription refills first and take advantage of the automated prescription refill telephone system. I have a difficult time because the machine does not recognize an English accent. I have a difficult time because the machine’s ability to understand an English accent is further complicated by the Pokemon shrieks in the background. I expect the follow up telephone call from the pharmacy when they try to unscramble the message:-

“Sorry but we can’t refill your prescription.”
“Oh dear. What should I do then?”
“Phone your primary care physician.”
“But I already have. I phoned them before I phoned you.”
“Well I can’t refill a C1 drug.”
“It’s a controlled drug.”
“I know, that’s why I have a prescription, otherwise I’d just nip over to Target and pick some up off the shelf.”
“Yeah but this is a C1 controlled drug, you just can’t have a refill.”
“So how does one obtain a controlled C1 drug?”
“With a prescription.”


“How very uncivilized!”
“6:30 is such an ungodly hour of the day!”
“Well the boys are usually up at 5 or thereabouts, so I don’t think we’ll have any difficulty.”
“How far away will you have to drive her?”
“Only up to Palo Alto. At that time of the day they’ll be hardly any traffic. It’ll only take 20 minutes.”
“I seriously don’t understand why she has to be there so early in the morning! At the weekend! It’s unthinkable.”
“People get up much earlier in the morning out here.”
“Well for one thing it’s daylight, whereas it’s still dark as night in England.”
“You never used to be up so early in the morning.”
“I get up when it’s light.”
“Exactly! You’ve grown very peculiar in America.”


At 7:35 on a Sunday morning, I order breakfast for myself and the children.
“Would you like coffee with that?”
“No thank you.”
“No thanks.”
“What is a Mimosa?”
“Champagne and orange juice.”
“Er…..no thank you.”
“You sure? They’re on special!”
“Really, no thank you.”
“O.k. jus thought it might help.”

Help with what I wonder? The Highway Patrol or Child Protective Services?


He head buts my calf, “Mom?”
“Yes dear.”
“Why for I am be? Meeoooow!”
“You’re being a cat.”
“No. Only part of me is being dah cat.”
“Which parts of you are a cat?”
“Dah noisy part and dah cuddly part.”

It's as if they all speak for foreign language, except for the imaginative little liar!

Or should that be the thief with the camera!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Crash, bang, wallop

wal·lop (wlp) Informal
v. wal·loped, wal·lop·ing, wal·lops

1. To beat soundly; thrash.
2. To strike with a hard blow.
3. To defeat thoroughly.

To be a parent is to be ever vigilant, or rather, there is some combination of parental supervision and child development that will ensure that the fledgling eventually reaches adulthood. The trick, is to know what that combination might be?

Many parents curl themselves into a question mark, hook their fingers through their babies’ and guide their first tentative steps. Some parents remain in this unnatural position for more years than is commonplace. These parents deserve a special label, neurotic or over protective come to mind.

Every so often, these parents need a reality check.

When my first daughter was born I admit that I was over protective but she was my first baby. When my second daughter was born many years later, it was like a first baby all over again, even though she was second. By the time the boys arrived in rapid succession, I was already stuck in a groove, not to say rut.

As it turned out, it was just as well.

Whilst my daughter was swinging from the rafters and climbing up the outside of the staircase, the boys were in an entirely different place. I was wary, because I had been warned that ‘girls are different from boys.’ The trouble was that my boys were also so very different from each other. Girls and monkey bars, girls in trees, girls caked in mud, this I could handle. Boys and super clean, boys and no appetite, boys and sound super sensitivity……..well it made no sense at all.

I figured out my own logical conclusions, if the girls were loud, energetic and brave, then it was just as likely that the boys would be quiet, lethargic and…….cautious.

I knew that they couldn’t be autistic because everyone knows that they are ‘cold.’ Mine were affectionate, very affectionate, more affectionate than most. I would stand in the park with a little Koala bear on each hip. I'd watch the other children in the Mum’s Club gambol about. Mine clung to me as if their lives depended upon it. I didn’t know anything about the calming benefits of deep proprioceptive input in times of stress. I squished my boys and shifted my weight from one foot to the other.

So what if they didn’t talk much, boys often talk later than girls don’t they? If they could correct my pronunciation of Parasaurolophus, surely everything must be fine?

So much to learn.

I slumber in the wee small hours of the morning, extra vigilant, as I am alone in the double bed. When I hear the crash next door I charge along the corridor cursing the floor plan and the distance to their door. Where are the spare bath towels for blood staunching? What is his current weight in pounds for drug administration? Where are the car keys? Can I take them all to the Emergency room in pyjamas? As I bang it open my son squeaks in surprise, a prodigy of possibilities. I see an overturned scratching post, the twitching tail of the cat, cowering under the bed and a boy with eyes like saucers.


Today I am also over "here" at "Trusera" with "One thing - the unbiased truth."

Or something lighter over at "Alien."

Monday, April 21, 2008

Ignorance is bliss – the Good Samaritan

My children grow older and bigger in the cosmopolitan, open minded bliss of Silicon Valley in California. We are so used to our children that on the whole we bimble along our trajectory with only the occasional blip. Public blips usually cause me more concern that private blips. In public there is always a dilemma, should I explain and excuse, or be evasive? I feel uncomfortable announcing to perfect strangers that my boys are autistic, especially if the children are there to overhear. I wondered sometimes if this was because I was ashamed or embarrassed or both? Even now, as I think back, I believe the underlying truth was far different from such social trifles.

The difficulty was the need to protect the person that you told. When you tell someone something that they are not expecting to hear, you put them at an unnecessary disadvantage. It always sounds like an accusation, like they’re the type to drown kittens in a sack. Pardon! The implication is that the audience is incapable of understanding an unfamiliar 'invisible' disability. So often it seems unfair to dump this information on people without prior warning. My initial attempts were blunders, inept and clumsy. No wonder people reacted so unpredictably, deer in the spotlight. So often I misread a situation but that’s over protective mothers for you.

A few years ago, my eldest son had very few words at his disposal. On the whole, he had little interest in people.

I had taken him to the park for his daily constitutional although he still considered it to be some kind of punishment by an over bearing parent. We were alone on a Spring day in an empty park. We practiced vestibular stimulation, or rather the torture of swinging in a swing. He might not have been capable of speech but in the meantime he would learn to pump a swing, or at least that was the long term plan.

I was pre-occupied, searching for a different word, something other than ‘pump’ that would convey ‘pumping,’ when we saw a couple walking up the hill towards us in the distance. My son scrambled off the swing and blundered towards them. I watched, stunned that he appeared to want to engage with anyone at all. I couldn’t hear his words at first, but he was definitely talking to them with wild enthusiasm.

They came closer and closer up the path as my son walked backwards in front of them, barely able to remain upright. He quick stepped faster and faster as their pace increased. I watched mesmerized. As they passed me, I stepped forward, not to listen but to stop him from disappearing in the opposite direction. I beamed at the man who wore a puzzled expression. I beamed at his partner with the mannerism of someone in a cloud of flies. I quickened my step to catch my son’s arm and guide him away with an idiot grin plastered to my face, incapable of speech as I was so delighted. Six steps further on, the man paused and turned, “you should teach him not to talk to strangers!” he admonished in a tone that I found difficult to fathom.

Civic duty? Surely nothing is as important as child safety? Strangely, a couple of decades ago, I might just have plucked up the courage to say the very same thing.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Four Seasons

“Hey mum, I found this empty CD case for Vivaldi. I can’t get the tune out of my head. Do you know where the CD is?”

I turn my peeved faced upon my eldest daughter. They’re all the same, completely useless. Whatever it is could be pinned to the end of their noses and they still wouldn’t see a thing.

‘Thing’ blindness.

I’m sure it’s genetic.

“Yes it’s in the office, right hand side on top of the drawers, somewhere in the stack of some 100 or more CD’s. None of them are in their cases.”
“They’ve all been digitized by your Dad.”
“It should be ‘digitalized’ don’t you think rather than digitized? Wouldn’t like to be fingered.”
“The word root! Digit. Finger! Never mind. Anyway don’t ask me anything else about digitization as that’s well out of my league.”
“I don’t think I asked you anything about digitization.”


“But I’ve already looked! I can’t find it anywhere!”
“Actually I do remember seeing that somewhere…….somewhere odd…….I thought at the time, ‘I wonder what that’s doing there?’ but I had armfuls of laundry at the time.”
Well …..where were you when you saw it?”
“Funny, I was just about to ask the same thing of you!”


“Where it is?”
“Where is what dear?”
“Which egg?”
“Er…..dah special white egg wiv dah green spots.”
“Ah, it’s on the side there, but don’t touch it as the glue hasn’t dried yet.”
“Dah glue is still wetted!”
“I know, outrageous isn’t it. Remember, 24 hours to dry.”
“How many?”
“How many eggs or how many spots dear?”
“How many seconds in 24 hours?”


“Where what? I mean…..what are you looking for dear?”
“Um…..I am lost……er…..I am losted my thing?”
“Which thing?”
“Dah thing which is being my favourite.”
“Which particular favourite?”
“It is small and red and is buttons and chain and it is being new with my allowance.”
“Bakugan! Thanks mom.”
“My pleasure, I'm sure.”

Clones indeed!

Today I am also over "here" at "Trusera" with "Charity begins at Home."

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Fly Away

Because I am a closet genius I've have planned everything down to the last detail, to include all possible unexpecteds.

After two weeks of walking to or from school, I am confident that walking to breakfast will be a breeze. Because it will be a breeze, I have added some optional extras. The radio flyer carries a stack of overdue library books, a sack of dry cleaning and a pair of shoes to be re-heeled. Each one of these errands will be attempted. Whilst it is highly unlikely that we will manage to go into three different establishments on foot and complete each transaction, we shall try.

It's all about compromise. Initially I baulked at suggesting a compromise to a three year old but old parents must move with the times. Whilst I'm now in league with the school and the therapists when it comes to compromise, the years tick by with no discernible progress.

Ideally I would like to attempt these attempts prior to breakfast, so that I have some ammunition for task completion. However, imminent malnutrution means a reversal of fortunes. I conclude that with full tummy’s they may be more compliant in any event.

We hop, skip, and lurch in the general direction of the restaurant as I haul the radio flyer. With the radio flyer full, no-one can steal a free ride, even though they try. En route we practice useful phrases such as ‘please may I.’ We try adjusting volume control since the servers are unlikely to be wearing noise canceling ear muffs. My son volunteers to lug the radio flyer. I dither briefly, but concede, working on the theory that it might slow him down a mile or two, equalize the handicap, as in golf.

As the restaurant appears before us, he hurtles off at top speed, apparently unimpeded by the drag as the radio flyer jack knifes behind him. He veers to the right, to the car park and squares off it off in one of the painted car park spaces, neatly, straight and aligned next to the disabled permit spot. He steps back to admire his handiwork, hands on hips, back arched, contemplative.

“We can’t leave it over here dear. Lets pop it over there by the door where we can see it.”
He looks at me as if I am a traffic warden, which I suppose I am. His eyes widen as he goes from 0 to 10 in less than a second, throws himself on the tarmac and shrieks.

Now that I wasn't expecting.

The faces behind the panes of glass turn in our direction, a little light entertainment during breakfast for the patrons. I wait for him to subside in the hope that we can find some common ground, although preferably not in this particular parking spot.
“This spot is for cars dear, not radio flyers.”
“Um…..it’s only for vehicles that drive on roads.”
“Wheel chairs are not drive on roads.”
“How true…….it’s too small, it might be squished by a big car.”
“They might not see it,……it’s so small!”
“But it is red!” he screams.
“Maybe we could take it inside?” I muse to no-one in particular. In my mind’s eye I try and visualize squeezing 4 foot of red plastic into a crowded restaurant.
“Dat is stoopid! Yah cant take a vehicle into a restaurant.”
Why I am dogged by categories?
"Yah gotto compomize guys," announces my 8 year old as he surveys the deadlock.

I wasn't expecting that either!

"Compomize!" repeats his brother with a combination of outrage and disbelief.
"What a good idea! What would you suggest dear?" He ponders, rubs his chin in contemplation, but before we receive the decision of Solomon his little brother sparks into life, "I know!" he jumps to his feet, flips over the radio flyer and crawls underneath, a turtle in silence.

Well I certainly wasn't expecting that either!

Always expect the unexpecteds.

Today I am also over at Trusera with "Gift Horses."

Friday, April 18, 2008

A well beaten path

It happened again, banned from the dance class. No more 'Hip Hop' for us. It’s a well rehearsed scenario, but I’m a bit out of practice. Over the years we’ve had lots of practice, a whole slew of places where we found we were no longer welcome:- Kindermusik, Music Together, the YMCA, Challenger School, soccer, multi-sports, Stratford school, Jazzercize, Summer Day camps and many, many restaurants.

I should be used to it, but it’s been a while. To read more click "here."

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Brotherly love - Dream on

“I am be like!”
“Really! What do you like dear?”
“I bin dun like dah cream!”
Oh no! Don’t tell me ‘bin dun’ is back to haunt us again, one of this pre-emptory terms equivalent to ‘er.’ I look at my little neophobe and his 15 foods. Verily the child doth lie through his little wonky baby teeth.


Oddly enough he picks up on my tone of skepticism, as does his brother, who dives in to defend, encourage and elucidate.
“Yeah Mom we are have ice-cream in school today.”
So much for the ‘healthy food in school policy,’ that didn’t last a whisker.
“How come you had ice-cream?”
“Coz it was Tim’s birthday.”
“It wuz a birthday treat.”
“Nice explaining dear. Surely he didn’t eat ice-cream?” I ask over his brother's head in a need to determine the real truth of the matter.
“No….he don eat dah ice-cream.”
I thought as much!
“But he did eat dah cream!”
“What cream?”
“Dah cream dat woz on dah ice-cream!”
“Cream on ice-cream!” talk about overkill.
“Yeah an it was real cold, but he ate it anyways……he din scream at all neither but he did his shivery thing………he wuz real brave mom.”

I smile as I think. Is cream really a food or merely a condiment? Does anyone eat a whole bowl of cream? Can you count cream, or would that be like counting mustard as a food?

I look at my boys. The retrieval of the words has the effect of making him relive the experience. I watch as the little one judders involuntarily at the memory and the big one puts a steadying arm around his bony little shoulders.

Bravery awards all round [and rats to the theory of mind.]

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

House of cards

It has all gone to rack and ruin. We have endured several nights of sleep deprivation. I nip down at hourly intervals to replace my "ice-packs" and the boys keep sneaking out of bed to stare at the blank television screen and wait for morning and electronics time.

With their father "away" we have no back stop, no terminator to shoo them back into bed. It’s the life of the living dead.

I leave them all upstairs tucked in and stagger down to clean up before I expire.

I am swiftly up to my armpits in washing up when it begins:-

“Mom! Mom come quick!”
“What is it dear?”
“There’s a bug!”
“You’re not afraid of insects.”
“No but this is a termite.”
“A termite? How do you know it’s a termite?”
“Coz it’s bigger than an ant.”
“Where is it?”
“On the boys’ bedroom wall.”
“What were you doing in there! You’re supposed to be going to sleep.”
“I can’t go to sleep if we’re infested with termites! Come on, come and take a look.”

I return upstairs with her. At least it’s more imaginative than ‘a drink of water’ or ‘I think I’m going to be having a nightmare.’ I am ready to offer my expert opinion, calm nerves and generally ensure that everyone is asleep within the next thirty minutes before I blow a fuse.

“Ah. Let me see. No. That’s definitely not a termite, it’s just a big ant.”
“How do you know?”
“Because termites are at least three times as big as that and they’re black.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, as apart from anything else termites don’t come upstairs until they’ve finished in the basement. Basement is an appetizer, ground floor is the soup, first floor is the main course and pudding is up in the attic, so they’ve got a long way to go until they get all the way up here.”

I hope that I sound confident and convincing. Where are all the scientists when you need them? Why is their father in England rather than waxing lyrical on the subject of wildlife? Is there no end to the duties I must perform? I’m tempted to go on line and drag “Andrea” to "buzz about" over here to earn her keep. Why don’t I have ‘instant messaging’ for such occasions? I check three pairs of liquid eyes to check whether all is well.

“Um…..is dah……are dey……are our house is be made of wood?”
“Yes indeed it is. We’re in California and all houses are made of wood here.”
“Why they are being made out of wood?”

It is bedtime, sleepy time, I am definitely sleepy even if nobody else is around here. I completely refuse to be tripped into the psychological minefield of ‘earthquakes.’
“They are made of wood because the Pilgrim father’s only had enough bricks for three houses on the Mayflower, otherwise they would have sunk.”
“Termites are vegetarians?”
“Usually but they’re more than a bit partial to the odd housefly.”
“They are be eatin dah wood?”
“Only when they’re run out of houseflies and you know how many flies we have around here with all those useless holey bug screens. We have enough houseflies to keep them busy until Christmas…..at least.”
“You are know…..”
“I know…......what do I know?”
“If dah termites are eatin at dah bottom of dah house first….den……we are all be fallin down, poof, poof, poof!”

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Snuggle down

I work on the theory that to knit in a frenzy should occupy hands and instill a quiet mind.

Thus far the theory proves less than satisfactory.

The boys lie on their tummies on the carpet creating Pokemon figures. My youngest daughter lounges on the sofa next to me with her feet in my lap and frequent warnings, “jus don’t poke me with those needles.” I’m almost sure I hear a whisper from those on the carpet, “don wanna spend dah afternoon in dah emergency room!” but maybe I’m mistaken?

My eldest daughter wanders in, “glad to see you with your feet up!” she beams as I adjust my "ice-pack." “What are you knitting? It looks like a…......…bone!”
“Looks lika bone, looks lika bone, looks lika bone,” whispers the carpet.
“Does it? I hadn’t noticed the shape.”
“I’m not surprised. What is that vile colour?”
“Er…......I think they call it ‘simply sage.’”
“Simply sage, simply sage, simply sage.”
“More like putrid neon vomit!”
“Putrid neon vomit! Putrid neon vomit! Putrid neon vomit!”
“Oh do be careful what you say dear!”

Three small pairs of eyes look up at their big sister.
“What will it be when it’s finished?”
“A cardigan.”
“Really? Who for?”
“For whom? For me actually. I think they call it a ‘snug’ out here.”
“A snug? Are you sure? I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a snug before. Are you sure it’s not just a shawl? How will you wear something that’s shaped like a bone?”
“Well I’m not sure yet but the pattern is very intriguing.”

I nod in it’s direction. She picks it up to study.
“That is probably the most ugly garment I have ever seen.”
“Oh don’t say that. I just love this soft wool and this was the only pattern that wasn’t too ghastly.”
“I dread to think what the other choices were in that case.”
“What’s so special about this wool anyway?”
“Feel it! It’s so soft, like down and snuggly and…”
“Enough with the mush mother.”
She grabs a handful anyway, “ooo it is lovely and soft.”
“It will be perfect for Spring.”
“I think you’ve sort of already missed Spring, we’re already right into fry time.”

The girls swan off to do something more interesting as I sew up the side seams and tie off the ends. I slip it on just to try it out.

“What do you think boys?”
No-one looks in my direction. I plonk myself down on the carpet, keeping my "neck" as long as possible and my "head" even further away.
“What do you think of my new green cardigan?"

They shuffle over a bit, slow moving lizards with tummy friction. Little fingers explore the wool, closely followed by the thump of two medicine ball heads, one on each hip.

“I am like yur smug.”

Monday, April 14, 2008

Curiosity slayed the feline

I set about making a few vats of carrot juice, glug a gallon or two with a Centrum chaser. I shall remain healthy if it kills me. This provides enough energy to bake a dozen muffins with the left over pulp.

Small people perseverate on the usual matters with one new addition, “not a stork, it’s an egg head!”

Ordinarily I would enquire into the source but I am far too grumpy.

It’s probably something to do with storks and babies, and I am in no mood to commence a sex education lecture to a seven year old.

I swallow another couple of Advil as I can't afford to be wiped out by Vicodin. In an ideal world I would opt for a pout but I can only just manage a glower, which I hope is enigmatic.

Spouse has abandoned us once again, back to England. I had anticipated a ‘love, honour and obey in sickness’ phase of marriage. Especially the ‘obey’ part. I had hoped to bask in his attention and affection after my latest visit to the dental surgeon. Unfortunately he has chosen the ‘honour thy father and mother’ option, as the threat of death and taxes, clearly trumps "dental implants."

But I can still moan about it and exercise one of my more finely honed talents. I stagger around with an ice-pack clamped to my jaw and a similarly frosty exterior.

I consider adopting a martyred air, but it's pointless unless you have an audience. My audience is tuned out, oblivious to my delicate disposition. We continue to charge about in the 90 degree heat and I am on underwear duty, which means that everyone must be wearing some. All other garments are optional, not that I am a minimalist, more of a defeatist.

An absent father means that this is an ideal time to make unreasonable demands and throw the rule book out. Everyone is determined to check whether or not the same rules apply that have applied since their birth.

“But why do I have to flush the loo?”
“No teef cleaning rule! Why I am bed now at clock eight?”
“Not a stork, it’s an egg head!”

The troops are revolting and I have a hard time maintaining law and order with a clip board, pencil and grunting noises.

By bed time I am uncertain who is the most fatigued as we flop onto the sofa for story time.

“Shall we read to ourselves Mom?”
“@*&F^#>+ %*!”
“Do you mean yes? Jus nod yur head.”

I grab the clip board and write ‘yes please.

“Don be listen ta her! Not a stork, it’s an egg head!”

I reach for the clip board again as I just have to know.
do you know where that phrase comes from?’

She reads with care and then glances back at me.

“Have yah looked in the mirror today?”

If you laugh I swear I'll stab you with a "spork."

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Adults only

I listen from afar, but not too far.

Having completed my lecture upon the topic of ‘responsibility for pre-teens leads inevitably to more mature benefits,’ I ear wig.

I hear her speak to her brothers in an English accent, “come along now boys, it’s time to eat your snacks. Come and sit down at the table now.”

Why is that so familiar? Unnatural, the ever so slightly unhinged cheerleader type, but a foreigner.

E gad!

Do I really sound that nauseating? That horrible sing songy sugary toned voice? Such upbeat jolly tones make my toes curl. I should be gagged!

The boys ignore her, as raisins and pretzels are not a preferred snack.

“Come on along boys, you need to eat up if you’re going to grow big and strong and healthy!”

I’m sure I’ve never said that. Surely I’ve never said that? Just shoot me now.

They protest in response:-

“Jus stoppit already!”
“Stop what?”
"Bein all....er.....poshish?"
"Yeah why for you are bin all Englishish?"
"I'm not! Here, come and sit down."
"Yur doing it agin."
"Doing what, exactly?"
“Bein all …….er……..Momish.”

Oh dear. It must be true then.

“I’m not bein Momish, I’m bein grown up.”

Thank heavens they’ve provoked her into losing the English accent.

“There yah go! Now jus sit nicely on the chair an we can chat together whilst we eat.”
Nooo chat!”
Nooo sit!”
“Oh come on you guys, you can do it. So tell me…....whatdaya wanna be when ya grow up?”

Just in case you are a little behind, there are three new posts [over the weekend] on "Trusera" that may benefit from your critical talents, even if you have a big behind come to think of it!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Wart Doctor

My daughter enjoys a play date at someone else’s house. The boys and I wait in the waiting room. We are always the last appointment of the day, a huge consideration for the doctor. His daughter, now an adult, is also on the spectrum. He is patient, gives choices, speaks simply and clearly. He is swift and gently firm. I expect he is similarly professional with all his patients, but I can’t help feeling that he gives a little more with mine.

We are alone. The sniveling heap is curled up on my lap, turtle style, all 72 pounds of him. I stroke his back and try not to count his xylophone vertebrae. His little brother does his best rendition of ‘waiting.’ He knows what is to follow. The screams may not be as loud as his own, but he’s not used to the competition. His coping mechanism is to sit briefly on the wooden bench and then fall off onto the carpet covered concrete floor. He does this about four times in every minute, with an accompanying ‘ooof!’ We take our proprioceptive input where we may. The oral fixations are in full flood too. He slips two fingers in and out of his mouth, interspersed with raspberry noises and ‘where is the bathroom! where is the bathroom! where is the bathroom!’ This ritual speeds up the longer we wait, but he remains in the room so I am more than satisfied. I am in the habit of giving them free reign when it comes to coping mechanisms, as then I can learn, then I may be able to modify and adapt.

The outer door opens and a woman with three children enter. Each sits down in silence. One reads a book, one plays with electronics and the little one, the toddler sits on her mother’s lap. My lapster doesn’t look up. The little sucker continues and pays no heed to the other people, as he’s already on sensory overload.

Mercifully the nurse comes to call his name.

As I stand the other mother steps towards me to touch me lightly on the upper arm, “you know, I watch a show called Supernanny. She’s British too. You know, it might help.” She smiles at me in a knowing manner.

Help with what I wonder?

today I am also over here at "Trusera" with a piece about "Speech Delays."

Or in the alternative "One Man's Meat - play dates for autistic children."

Friday, April 11, 2008

Awards for friendship and bannana yummies

I have been remiss of late as real life has interfered with blogging. So now as I sit quietly, nay silently on the sofa with an ice-pack tied nappy style around my jaw, a bottle of germ killers, liquid centrum and a crate of Ensure, I thought I would catch up with a little bloggy housekeeping.

"Miss Nelson" over at "Meaningful Outcomes" was kind enough to give me this Banana with yummies award. Thank you "Miss Nelson!" As it turns out this banana award is turning into more of a boomerang, flying across the blogosphere with ferocious speed. As a result I feel the urgent need to pass it on again before it starts to rot as nobody likes a rotten banana, although ripe one's do go rather well in smoothies. I'll keep it brief as the Vicadom might wipe me out.

It is therefore my pleasure to hand it over to a few of my favourite arty types:-

"Karen" at "Art in the Garage."

"Robin" from "Around the Island" has mistaken for someone else entirely, poor wee soul. This delightful little award seems to have become attached to my blog as Robin's more of a half full type, where as I'm more of a half empty type, or possibly down to the last few driplets that are probably a week old and grown fur.

But I'm more than happy to pass on some furriness.

First to "Angela" at "Memoirs of a Chaotic Mommy."

"Blissful Mama" at "Mum Keeping Sane." [Or It's All Okay] depending upon our mood!

Also to "Casdok" over at "Mother of Shrek." She may be taking a little time out but there is still lots to read and learn in the meanwhile.

Then to "Michelle" at "House of Lime," who definitely has the best day trips.

When I think of smoothies, I also think of "Velma" doesn't that just sound like velvet, reallll smooth. "Velma" is over at "New England Mamas" and despite the distance we share a common experience.

As we all need a little support and encouragement from time to time.

Since I am trying to play catch up after far too much 'real life' I would also like to thank "Kittymamma" over at "Okasaneko Chronicles" for this fabulous award.

Maybe "The Domestic Goddess" could do with a little pick me up, rather than the constant 'cleaning up!

Then to "Chelle" at "Soodz" as she is always upbeat and calm, something I aspire to achieve on a good day with a fair wind behind me.

Then to "Beth" from "Fragile X" as I have nothing but admiration for people who struggle with the old B & W blog, and she always brings a smile to my face, even if I don't reveal my teeth.

Also to "Rachel" from "prevent autism prevention."

With a smidge more catch up I would also like to thank "Angela" from "Jack's Blog" for being so kind as to give me the 'excellent award' which I am delighted to receive. I have been most remiss in my thank you's and I apologise if I have inadvertently caused anyone a blob of angst or hurt feelings. I am merely a tad overwhelmed on occasions.

Oh course there are a zillion or more blogs that should be dubbed with the excellent award but here are a few of my favourites:

"Kristina" over at "Autism Vox."

"Kevin" who writes over at "Left Brain Right Brain."

"Bev" over at "Asperger Square 8."

over at "Joy of autism."

And "Susan Senator" at "All Families are not alike."

As part of my housekeeping assignment I would like to include "Mel" from "Random Thoughts," who tagged me with a meme about the 10 reasons why I blog. I only wish that there were ten reasons "Mel"!

Firstly I blog because I like to keep track of my family. If I write it down and make it public then I find this tempers my opinion considerably, especially 24 hours or more later. After things have percolated a while I can usually take a more positive perspective.

Secondly, I have a small hope to reach other families who are similarly situated. I'm not sure if it's a 'safety in numbers' viewpoint or a wish for cameraderie, but it's probably a combination of the two.

The third reason is a greater hope, a less realistic one, that Joe Blow or the guy on the Clapham Omnibus will take a moment to think. Then just maybe, they might think a little differently. [Although I think Casdok's already got that covered.]

So I tag "Marita" from "Stuff with Thing."

from "O Mighty Crisis."

Also I'd like to know why "Meno" at "Menosblog" does what she does.

"Mr. Bloggerific" at "Your Packaging Sucks."

And "Furiousball" at "In my Diatribe" but I suspect he just can't help himself as he seems to have a finger in every pie.

Now I find that another meme has winged it's way towards me, a book meme by "M" from "American Presidents Blog," an area in which I find myself woefully ill - informed. Why me? More public humiliation! The rules are as follows:-

1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people, and acknowledge who tagged you.

So my nearest book, hot back from the dental chair is "The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, A Memoir," by Bill Bryson which I would thoroughly recommend if you are need of distraction from a set of torture tools brutally mangling your jaw and teeth - can't get much better a recommendation really.

"They even suggested that nuclear devices could be used to alter the Earth's weather by adjusting the amount of dust in the atmosphere, forever banishing winters from the northern United States and sending them permanently to the Soviet Union instead. Almost in passing, Teller proposed that we might use the Moon as a giant target for testing warheads. The blasts would be visible through binoculars from Earth and would provide wholesome entertainment for millions."

How very apt!

I tag "Steve Memphis"
"Bob" at "when your only tool is a hammer"
as it shouldn't be too onerous, I hope.

Now I shall go and pay off the baby sitter and replace my ice pack. Humble apologies for any hic-cups in this post but I'm only function with half a brain cell.

Today I am also over at "Trusera" with "Slice and dice - midlines and autism."

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Goldilocks – pure hell

Around this neck of the woods I am the sole arbiter of banned words.

The list grows daily, a collection of unpleasant name calling and insults, but that’s probably to be expected when a speech delay becomes less so.

As their limited diets expand alongside their word count, they are dogged in their search for the most apt description of

My son is only to happy to be dubbed ‘Stinkfly’ to align his bodily functions with his love of Ben 10. He is not insulted by this nickname, it’s more of a badge of honour.

Meanwhile I enjoy a brief shower. Oh to be clean! I pay dearly for yet another error in judgment. In a moment of weakness I agreed to buy the very expensive shampoo and conditioner. I should have negotiated with the hairdresser, told her that I was quite happy with whatever happened to be on offer at Target. Instead I opted for escape and a hole in my cheque book. Debates can be time consuming if you also wish to remain polite. I wasn’t sold on the ‘you of all people deserve it,’ message, it was more a case of ’23 minutes to get across town to collect children’ imperative.

I should have stuck to my ‘don’t buy a bottle of anything that isn’t already upside down’ rule. Thus I fight with goop that won’t co-operate. The dispenser fails, so I rip of the top and commence CPR. I am rewarded with a handful of slime. It is immediately apparent that I have accidentally purchased some kind of medicinal liniment as the stench is unimaginable. I flip over the bottle to examine the list of ingredients. Without the bifocals I am unable to decipher small print that covers every available space.

I wash my hair and recall ‘it lasts forever, you only need to use a blob the size of a pea.’ I slap on another handful and curse. My eyes sting. Who on earth manufactures such a shampoo these days? All those rabbits tortured for nothing. I become aware that I seem to have "deep heat" on my face, surely every pore is about to spontaneously combust. The meager suds slip down my body to attack other regions. I’m tempted to check for burn marks but I lack "bendygirl’s" skills.’ I dither about ‘return policies’ but prefer not to outline my objections. How many other innocents have this experience? I conclude that American hair washers never wash their hair in the shower with this product, it’s a strictly salon, horizontal expose. Hence forward, I shall only shower in pure rainwater. How toxic is rainwater these days? Maybe I need to move to a different State where precipitation rates are higher? I wonder which State has the highest daily rate of rainfall and the most liberal views on public nudity?

I pull on a pair of sludge coloured trousers and a ratty old shirt of a similar hue. Maybe I should have bought some new clothes instead? Probably cheaper too. I stagger downstairs with an air of John Wayne. My son awaits me at the foot of the stairs, "dat's a great colour on you mom!" I examine him closely for any hint of sarcasm.


This is several light years away from earlier "compliments" like 'I love yur red eyes.' Strangely, it is every bit as disconcerting.

"Thank you dear, I like your brown T-shirt too."
"Now we are be matchin twins."

I grab the "shoehorn" and commence the new, improved 9 minute "shodding" campaign. I assume the position of supplicant and kneel before the first pair of tippy toe feet, head bowed in focus. “Eeeooow!” he snorts falling back onto the carpet and rolling away, “dat is dah worstest Stinkfly ever.”

Better make that 9 hour shodding campaign, with a fair wind behind me.

A "bath in beer" may be my only option.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Moving on swiftly - Fort Knox

We return home en masse, mid-day and sweltering, to hear a voice on the telephone shouting “"Natalie!" Are yah there?”

The answering machine flashes.

Six messages.

“Hey Mom pick up the phone already!”

Surely not! I thought we'd "sorted" this all out! I drop six bags full of groceries on the floor and dither.
“Here, I’ll do it!” she offers, which cattle prods me into action, “yes, hello, Madeline here, how can I help?”
“Where were yah? I’ve bin callin all morning!”
“Er food shopping.” Why did I say that?
“D’ya have Jay’s address?”
“Um…..….Jay Jones, Jay Smith or Jay Higginbottom?”
“I dunno their last name.”
“She went for a sleepover to Jay’s last night. I gotta go pick er up now.”
“She’s the little kid with the ratty hair, glasses and goofy teeth.” I run this description through my lexicon of Jays. “Oh…..would that be Higginbottom perhaps?”
“I dunno.”
“Let me see. I don’t know the address exactly but I can give you driving directions to their home or the telephone number.”

I oblige.

I think I prefer my new role as Yellow Pages substitute. Who'd have thought that Anglo Americans could seek shelter in a castle? I consider myself to have escaped quite lightly.

Poor Higginbottoms.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Occupational Therapy - No Flying!

Since this is autism Awareness month I thought I'd take the opportunity to rant about the lack of medical insurance coverage for services for autistic people. I could point you towards Michael Moore's film "Sicko" as a good starting point. If you're not American then the terms, 'out of network' are meaningless. But if I tell you that being 'in network' doesn't work either, then that would only add to your confusion.

How much does it cost to send two children to occupational therapy twice a week, for four and a half years? I'd tell you but I can only count up to seven, even on a good day.

Is it a good investment? It depends upon your perspective, I suppose. My perspective shows me that instead of 'ground dwellers' I now have 'aerial artistes.'

No longer the patter of tiny tippy toes, instead we have earth shattering quakes and crash landings.

For the moment I am happy to observe their acrobatics. Soon we shall commence yet another campaign but I need to work on my 'words' prior to commencement.

Thus far I am failing miserably. "Get down from there this instant!" doesn't cut it, as they're already very good at the 'getting down' bit.

"What on earth are you doing up there!" is a pointless rhetorical statement that sends us down a blind alley about planets.

"What are you thinking of!" may just illicit a straightforward answer.

No. I shall bide my time and not let my mouth run away with me. This time I shall be sure that the words match the situation. No more nauseating little ditties to haunt the next 5 years or more.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Trade off

We gallop to the restaurant at a cracking pace.

Because it is morning, my son has a full word bank available to him. He talks non-stop, coherently if you ignore the stutters and stammers, which I barely notice as I'm riveted to his message.

My daughter is shifty, “he’s doin it again Mom. Everyone’s lookin at us.” Of course the street is devoid of foot passengers, as the cars whiz by on a Sunday. Her little brother doesn’t talk, nervous of the traffic, ruffled by the wind, anxious about the passage of time, destinations and whether the fries will be too hot to eat for a few minutes, a few very long minutes.

We have already practiced what we will do when the fries arrive and they are too hot. We spent a riotous 20 minutes at home where I demonstrated all his usual ‘behaviours’ when this obstacle occurs. I wasn’t as loud as him but seeing your mother roll around on the ground in protest, uttering all too familiar scripts, can sometimes touch your funny bone and release some of the pent up tension.

He’s ready to try and that’s all that I could wish for.

“Mom! Get him to stop!” her head whips around to check who is watching. I watch my son chat. Quite often when one thing is going exceptionally well, other things fall by the way side. For right now, speech flows, communication bubbles but his bodily co-ordination is barely hanging together. I find I have a growing interest in Lilo and Stitch which makes a refreshing change from Pokemon as today's topic. I may just have to bury yet another of my prejudices against supposedly harmless cartoons.

It is quite miraculous that he has managed to remain vertical at all as his loose limbed form tumbles, bumbles and circles at high speed on tippy toes. His knees keep tangling, his feet keep snagging. Two skinny boot-lace legs dangling in the breeze. Somehow or other we continue to move in the general direction of the restaurant. He must be traveling at least four times the distance from the rest of us. I am struck by the fact that I would find this feat, dancing and chatting, completely impossible.

But it’s not that which bothers her. She’s bothered by his arms. His shoulders are hunched by his ears, arms are bent at the elbow, slightly extended with the hands crossed in space. He maintains this rigid formation without effort. It’s a very common stance both here and elsewhere. For some of us it’s a classic. It is as if his body belongs to a third party, someone who choreographs movement, remotely, at long distance, with a weak, intermittent signal. I'm tempted to scoop him up before he falls flat on his face, to have that beaming face close to mine. The only part of him that seems to be under control is his head, where his facial expression is also a classic, happiness.

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