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

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The R Word

Please Scroll down for Wordless Wednesday



5 Minutes for Special Needs

Guess what we watched this weekend?

If you enjoy caption competitions and photographs, you may wish to nip along to"DJ Kirkby" over at "Chez Aspie" and test your brain power.

Meanwhile I'm still struggling with international postage rates as $45 to the UK is daylight robbery as far as I'm concerned. I may have to limit myself to the good ole US of A initially and expose myself as the tendentious, ethnocentric nincompoop that I really am!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Business unplanned

Tackle It Tuesday Meme
Try This Tuesday

My tackle this week is a hugely tiny task of how to get up and running on "Etsy."

I don't know if any of you have any experience of "Etsy" but hopefully I'll be ready tomorrow for the start of Autism Awareness Month.

If anyone has any advice you'd like to offer I'd be very grateful for any tips you might be able to share. I'm especially looking to anticipate problems, irritations and other annoyances, things that you did not like about your purchasing experience. I am especially terrified of the Post Office / mailing trips as getting to the post office is a complete nightmare for my family and sadly they're not open when my children are asleep. How tolerant will people be if they place an order and I can't get to the post office for a week? Not very I suspect.

Additionally I now have a load of commissions and bowls that are already spoken for, for a wide variety of charitable events which means I have hardly any to sell. What a twit. Clearly I am in need of some sound business advice.

Cheers dears

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Try, try, try again

Hosted by "Tracy" at "Mother May I," but the photo-picture below will whizz you right there with one click.

Just call me snap happy.

red BSM Button


If you look very carefully at the cow you'll be able to see the State of Montana!

Someone else is thinking of opening a Tattoo Parlour.

Yes is Science Project time of year.

I made my own mark.......

......and gave it the school auction. Gotta support our schools in their endeavours if we can't go physically.

Lastly, occasionally you too may find yourself doing odd things at odd times, because sometimes an opportunity is too good to miss. The trick is to know when on earth that time might be? Give it a "try."

Warning! Use hair conditioner not hair gel or you could get yourself into all kinds of additional difficulties.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

How to stop a special needs kid from spitting?[*]

Please scroll down for Smiley Saturday and SOOC

[*] most interesting google search question of the week

So much depends upon what kind of special needs? Is he or she 2 or 10? But even more pivotal, is the ‘why’? Why is the child spitting? Special needs, autistic or typical. I’m confident that together we could come up with a lengthy collective list, but I’m happy to make the first move.

Top of my list would be Copying. Both my boys are exceptionally good at both copying and mimicry. Like most children that begin to attend school, they come home having learned a great many things that they were previously unaware of, such as name calling, teasing, arm pit farting and a great many other egregious but thoroughly predictable habits. Exposure to typically developing peers generally has this effect.

I was very interested to watch my boys, especially the youngest, try to spit. In case you were not previously aware of it, I can assure you that the skill of spitting is just that, a skill, a skill that he lacked. There can be a great many reasons why spitting is so difficult but in my son’s case, in layperson’s terms, it was poor musculature or low muscle tone in the jaw, combined with poor lip closure as well an inability to ‘suck it up.’ This is the kind of child that drools way beyond babyhood. It’s also the kind of child who needs a great deal of therapeutic help to improve the condition as well as a great deal of positive encouragement to attempt something that is so tremendously difficult.

So yes, it’s true, I’m a slacker when it comes to parenting and as soon as I caught him staring at the floor boards willing himself to spit, head hung low and waiting for gravity, I did nothing but watch silently from the side lines. I watched for days as he practiced and practiced and practiced, because these things take time and muscles don’t grow overnight. I cannot tell you how huge this is for someone who is peerless, that is to say someone without peers, groups or otherwise.

It took nearly two months but the boy was motivated, and motivation is a rare commodity indeed. I turned my blind eyes and willed him to succeed, in silence. The end result was still pretty feeble in the great scheme of the school yard hierarchy as compared with other eight year olds but he made his mark and so did his school report because such behaviour is socially unacceptable, unhygienic and terribly disgusting.

As with all new skills it took a great deal longer to teach him the last bit but everything is a trade off my friends.

Friday, March 27, 2009

My bottom is too thick

Slurping Life

Get the code:-
Cut and paste
from this little
boxy thing below

five broken!

5 out of 42

More accurately, the differential between the foot /bottom is too thick by comparison to the rim / top = I need to be more bold in the trimming department.

Meanwhile, on a happier note since this is Smiley Saturday too, above you'll see my son's bed. Granted it is a little messy and may not obviously strike you as being 'made,' however, it is indeed 'made,' by his very own fair hands without prompting, which scores a ten out of ten in my book.


On another quite stunning note, here is a piccy of another quite ordinarily tiny huge accomplishment. I could remind you about lung capacity, lip closure, co-ordination not to say motivation but you know all that stuff already. Pretty darned impressive for an asthmatic.

Cheers dears

Thursday, March 26, 2009

How to insult someone in a foreign language

I drop the cleaver in favour of the whisk and the rapidly deflating soufflé whilst my children squabble, full of hot air and pent up emotion.
“Jus leave it alone why dontcha! Yah lil ol dipstick.”
“Don’t call him a dipstick dear.”
“It’s not kind to insult people without reason or rather….”
“But I do have a reason.”
“Oh…..well don’t do it anyway. He’ll think you’re being mean.”
“But I wanna be mean.”
“Oh dear. Why….?”
“What it is?” interjects the insultee.
“What is what dear?”
“What is a dipstick being?”
“Ah….well a dipstick is a stick that you poke or rather dip, into the oil in your car to see if there’s enough juice.”
“What kinda juice?”
“Oh not juice, I meant oil.”
“Dere is being oil in dah car?”
“Is dat being dah English car?”
“Er……no all cars run on oil or rather have oil in them and petrol of course.”
“Aha! It is being dah English cars.”
“How so?”
“English cars are being dah petrol but American cars are being dah gas.”

I’ve always wondered about gas fired cars? Just as well some people are fueled by logic.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Theory of Mind is still with us

It's a given when it comes to autism, or rather a misconception. Like all misconceptions it is both commonplace and all pervasive, the myth that autistic people lack empathy.


We arrive at the restaurant, install ourselves in a booth in a rather haphazard manner and begin to examine the menu. Everyone knows off by heart.

A father and a baby arrive at the same time. They wait to be seated.

“Where for it is?”
“Where’s what dear?”
“The kids menu?”
“Oh did we only get one kids menu sheet?”
“Hmm.” I look at my son’s face which is growing closer to my own height. “Maybe they thought you were too big for the kids menu?”
“Twelve and over?”
“Quite possibly. You do seem to be awfully large these days.”
"Um...'quite,' quite large." He grabs the unwieldy 8 page laminated menu with alacrity and begins to peruse his choices. He drops it again in favour of the less daunting single page of ‘specials.’ I watch him, animated and engaged. I don’t believe he has ever actively chosen to read a menu, even at MacDonalds, even if MacDonalds can be described as having a menu in the first place.

His eyes are sucked off the page by the arrival of the quite adorable baby and his father in the opposite booth. They had no problem 'waiting to be seated,' unlike my unruly brood. The baby cooes and kicks with contentment whilst his Dad quips his order to the server. I examine the specials so that I’m better able to prioritize and limit my son’s choices, as choice is always a hurdle.

The boys gasp collectively for no apparent reason. “What is it?” I ask two people who are staring across the room. I look across the room at the baby and father. The father reads the newspaper and eats from a plate piled high with pancakes, sausages and salad. “What is it dear?”
“Dah baby.” I look at the baby but my view is obscured by a large cuddly toy.
"It's o.k. his dad will probably feed him in a minute."
"No! Dah baby!"
“What about the baby?” I look at the big furry mass with the still legs underneath, the stiff arms poking out either side, the silence.
“He dun like it.”
“He doesn’t like what…..I mean…..what doesn’t he like?”
“Dah wolf is scary for him.” Whilst one child speaks, the other takes action as he flits across the passage, grabs the cuddly wolf and turns it’s face outwards, teeth bared, the wolf, not the boy, and slips back to our booth like a whippet. The father snaps down his paper, but not quickly enough. He glances at his baby son who chews contentedly on the wolf tail in his face.

Rats to “the theory of mind.”

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Lay out guys

5 Minutes for Special Needs

Bigger pi dishes require more numbers.

How do you ensure that you transpose all the numbers of pi correctly?

Employ a nit picker! Fueled by Goldfish.

If you enjoy caption competitions and photographs, you may wish to nip along to"DJ Kirkby" over at "Chez Aspie" and test your brain power.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Cat and dog love

If your family already has a cat and wants to add a dog, or vice versa, how is the best way to ensure that they all get along?

It’s good to begin with a carefully orchestrated plan of desensitization. Never force either animal into close proximity with the other. This technique requires a great deal of time and patience. As with all relationships, it cannot be rushed. Each animal needs to progress at their own pace.

One easy place to start is to feed each animal it’s favourite treat by hand at the same time so that they can then learn to associate treats and the new pet, with positive associations. If this is done on a regular basis, gradually they will hopefully become physically closer.

Currently, our cats are not keen on the dog but will tolerate being in the same room together.

As we have just completed two science projects for school with the children, their enthusiasm for experimentation has expanded in quite unexpected directions. They decided to investigate another possibility to speed up relationship development between their pets with the assistance of these two trusty tools. First spray the dog with liquid cat nip then sprinkle liberally with dried catnip. Wait patiently for the cats to fall in love with the dog. They waited quite a long time until it suddenly dawned on them……both the cats and the dog are all boys. I decided to explain ‘ménage à trios,’ when they are older, maybe, the children not the pets.

Tackle It Tuesday Meme
Try This Tuesday

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Far afield

Hosted by "Tracy" at "Mother May I," but the photo-picture below will whizz you right there with one click.

Just call me snap happy.

red BSM Button


Evidence of successful field trip! No matter that it was hateful, boring, hard work and had no souvenir shop. Despite all his numerous verbal complaints he still managed a veritable treasure trove of productivity.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Her Royal Highness and Pi dish Two

He flits about the house following orders from his older brother, “yes your Highness,” he quips in mid flight, which seems odd for a die in the wood republican.

Only a year ago we had to endure the neverending tirade about the "evils of England" and now all of a sudden he has turned into a serf.

I decide to check his political allegiance.

“Hey sonny jim!”
“I am not dah Jim.”
“True……..so when you called him Highness, did you mean this kind of highness?”

“No dummy. Dat is a wimmins.”
“Of course. You mean this kind of highness, right?”


Did I mention that his big brother grew an inch and a half in less than a month over on "Twitter?"

Lastly, on a final note in response to the "criticism" that the bowls were too 'empty' meaning 'too much blank space,'

I have my final offerings:-

And yes, if I ever get them fired, glazed and fired again, they will be available on Etsy.

Cheers dears

Stop the R word

You can read a full version of the argument at the link below:-

Stop the hate speech: r-word dot org

"ASAN" [Autistic Self Advocacy Network] are working hard to raise awareness of this issue.

You can also nip on over to "Facebook."

Friday, March 20, 2009

Pi dish

Slurping Life

Get the code:-
Cut and paste
from this little
boxy thing below

Autism awareness month is nearly upon us, so I have a new design, with "Daniel Tammet" in mind, for those of us ordinary folks without savant skills.

Criticisms so far:-

1. The numbers are too big
2. The numbers are too small
3. There are not enough numbers, 50 numerals is stingy
4. The numbers are anti-clockwise
5. It has to end with a zero or serious pain ensues
6. The numbers are upside down
7. Where are the fish?
8. Why can’t we have negative numbers instead?
9. Green is better

Please feel free to add your own criticism and comments so that I can adjust and try to accommodate.

Cheers dears

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Reciprocal exchange, scripted yet unscripted

For the longest time imaginable, we have been trying to extract reciprocal conversations with our boys. We started off small, but gradually as they grew and learned, more has been forthcoming. I can still remember the ‘game’ that we invented. Coloured paper coins had different letters on them:-
Q for question
S for statement
C for comment
P for praise
We gave them each half a dozen. They had to use them all up before they were permitted to escape. Escape was the reinforcing positive reward. Oh how stilted it all was. Oh how frustrating. Oh how many times I had to cut out more coins as they were crushed, screwed up and hurled.

They grasped the basics. They knew what was expected but it was hard. It was difficult. It was unrewarding for them, just one more chore to add to the never ending list. It’s only redeeming feature was that it was finite, the end was always in sight, completion and gone.

It’s been a long time a’coming but every so often I get the chance to sit back, feet up and listen to little unprompted chats.

“So whya cats better than dogs then?” she asks him at the dinner table as he hunkers in close proximity to his untouched meal.
“Coz dey are man’s best friend.”
“No, that’s dogs yah dipstick.”
“Oh man yah kill me.”
“What else?”
“Cats are meow.”
“Dogs bark louder.”
“Oh man yah kill me.”
“What else?”
“Cats run fast.”
“Dogs run faster.”
“Oh man yah kill me.”
On and on they go, again and again and again as the spaghetti congeals on the plate. How else could it possibly be? It’s not as if you should eat and talk at the same time, how rude would that be?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Twist and plop – a three ring circus

I consult the pottery guru. A woman who has thrown many hundreds of pots a day for more days than either of us can count. I need help with just two of my many little problems:-
1. Once I have thrown a pot I cannot get it off the bat without distortion.
2. When I turn the foot of the pot, I cannot get it off the wheel head without distortion.
She gets back to me within the hour, not via telephone, as who can hear a voice message over the din, but by email, my life line to the outside world. I read her words:- wire it off, lift and place it on the drier but as you place it on, sort of spin it as you drop it and it will plop into place. I am deeply grateful that there is no sporting reference but also dubious about my top spin abilities as I’ve never been a fan of cricket.

I dash out into the garage to give it a go. Remarkably, each bowl plops and judders into place, still round. I leave 18 bowls to dry out enough to carve and return to my other domestic duties. My other domestic duties are all very hungry but unwilling to walk the plank to success. Instead of sitting at the dining room table like good little pirates to eat their dinner, instead they insist on two minute bathroom breaks. They take it in turns, our only current control mechanism, “no you can’t go to the loo until he comes back.” It’s feeble, it’s pathetic, it’s unstoppable.

Each boy makes the forty yard dash to the bathroom, hangs over the sink and fills his mouth with water from the faucet. Part habit, part palette cleanser, part displacement activity from the hideous chore of eating. It crept up upon us when we weren’t paying attention. So busy celebrating their ever expanding diet and the demise of neo-phobia, we failed to notice that few children will have a large appetites if their tummies are already full to capacity with several gallons of tap water. The subsequent wet beds are no laughing matter.

The first few visits have now morphed into a ritual:- the breathless announcement of pending activity, the dash, the glug, the call to return, the return, the pirouette and booty wiggle before chair parking, before eating can commence again. Minute additions to the script means an endless run on. The virtual high five, the air kiss to the dog, the pat to the cat who must not be left out, on and on and on it goes. Each visit takes about three minutes. Each meal’s duration lengthens daily. In order to finish dinner we need to start at breakfast time. One teaspoon full of food to five minutes of shenanigans is a poor ratio, times two.

But they’re happy, they’re eating, two fundamental and crucial facts not to be missed nor buried in "the mire of confusion." We are unwitting "enablers" in our own downfall, "facilitators." We need to unravel the knitting, drop a dozen stitches and refashion, but habits once formed, are difficult to break.

A brake would be a good start.

“Do you know what?”
I explain my problem with the pots, I model the solution, the spin, the plop, the drop with sound effects.
“You be are look like a big, blobby, jello,” he giggles.
“Maybe you could be jello at the table too?” Both boys back glance to the bathroom which is calling loudly, urging repeats, demanding their attention.
“Go on. Have a go.” They hesitate as the pressure to repeat mounts, more difficult to shake off but my daughter is up off her chair to demonstrate spin and master jello judder. They can’t help but look, as pre-teens guard their growing maturity, their need to exude confident sophistication. They can’t resist. Pirouette, plop and judder, over in a few seconds, the spell broken.

Do we plan to adopt and incorporate this as a new campaign? No. Not really. It’s more a way of confirming something that I already knew. It is still really difficult for them to sit at the table and eat. It’s not a preferred activity. I need to ensure that they have the opportunity to rid themselves from as many of the fizzies and wiggles as possible prior to the main meal of the day. It’s the same as it’s always been, but I’ve just been lax. Maybe it’s ten minutes on the trampolene or five minutes chasing the dog or 7 minutes of rough and tumble? It used to be ‘therapy,’ ten minutes of brushing or massage or deep proprioceptive input, but they’re older now but with the same underlying predispositions.

As yet I’m not sure what we’re going to do, but I do know that whatever you care to call it, some kind of outlet must be incorporated.

In many ways it reminds me of a bygone era where eating in the street was an abomination. But times have changed. People eat whilst doing other things, work at the computer, run for the train, brown bag lunches, lunch meetings and conference calls, chat and walk and check their text messages all at the same time as they re-fuel. The ritual of a family meal is a rarity with the busyness of modern life. No-one chews a mouthful 36 times and everyone suffers from indigestion.

I suspect that we searching for some middle ground. The ability to tolerate if not enjoy the collective meal as well hold onto that flexibility, to refuel on the hoof as we sprint through the rest of our lives.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Woofless Wednesday

5 Minutes for Special Needs

I took Thatcher for a play date with his sister. If my own children could play or play as quietly as this pair I would eat my hat.

Thatcher is the bigger, lighter coloured one. His sister is smaller and more Labradorish, "You can see the video here."

If you enjoy caption competitions and photographs, you may wish to nip along to"DJ Kirkby" over at "Chez Aspie" and test your brain power.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Irish Stew

Tackle It Tuesday Meme
Try This Tuesday

What else could I do in view of my heritage. AS with all traditional recipes everyone has a family variation on a theme. Make it today, it will taste even better tomorrow. My mum had two:-

1 lb of lamb neck [on the bone]
yes I know I’ve lost you right here as American do not eat little lambkins
2lbs floury potatoes chopped into halves or quarters depending upon size
1 lb of carrots chopped into chunks
1 lb of Swede peeled and chopped into chunks [Rutabagas]
2 lbs of onions rough chopped.
1 tbs all purpose flour
1 litre of stock
Lots of freshly ground pepper
Handful of parsley washed and rough chopped

Brown the lamb on a high heat to seal and then remove.
Add the onions to the ‘dirty’ pan and brown. [this takes about 12 to 15 minute on a low heat.
Add all the other vegetables and toss together until coated and thoroughly mixed. [*]
Add the flour and pepper, and toss through the vegetables.
Add the stock and mix through. [this will thicken later]
Add the meat back in and leave to simmer for a few hours on the hob. [this makes it a stew rather than a casserole which is ‘baked’ in the oven]
Leave to cool.
Skim off any surface fat.
When you reheat the next day add the parley just before serving or it will lose colour and go all stringy.

Second version.
Omit the rutabaga and stock.
Make 2 pints of béchamel.
The same until [*]
Cook together for an hour in the béchamel [low heat or the béchamel will burn]
Add the parley and serve.

Interestingly to me, whichever version I choose to cook and serve, there is now the remote possibility that all of my different family members will eat some of it. Quite a feat around here. My youngest son will scream with protest but this is more from habit than any real angst. We will all be at the dinner table at the same time and some of us will approximate ‘sitting.’ If I’m very lucky, my stew will score a 2 out of ten, which is a great improvement upon a minus infinity. Soon we hope to fade the 'spoon-feeding.' I doubt if any pleasure will be gleaned from the menu itself, but there is no end of delight to be extracted from communal gathering, assuming you have your ear plugs of course.

If you have a few moment spare you may wish to nip over to "Trish" at "5 Minutes for Special Needs Moms" where she is tackling the issue of:- 'Disciplining Your Child=

The person who suggested this topic specifically asked about the teenage years, so if you have experience in this stage of life, we would love to hear from you next week. If your children are younger, what is working for you at the age they are now?'

Whilst I would love to address this particular topic myself, my typical daughter was a teenager a long time ago. I would encourage everyone to take a peek and note the comments as although we may not have reached that stage ourselves, I can assure you that it will be coming along all to soon, and it's always good to have a jump on impending developments.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Science experiment - predictions and outcomes

Hosted by "Tracy" at "Mother May I," but the photo-picture below will whizz you right there with one click.

Just call me snap happy.

red BSM Button


Take six identical plants and water with different kinds of liquids to determine which affects growth in what manner?

Such as Lemonade

Coffee doesn't seem to perk up everyone it appears.

Here's the control just in case you thought we might cheat.

Wine may mellow some but this looks like the worst hangover to me.

Milk for breakfast may suit some but this is a mouldy old mess.

And lastly, the winner by a mile and better than mere water by far, if you compare, is tea. British Blend of course.

This outcome was entirely predictable in my opinion.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button