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

Friday, July 31, 2009

Slurping Life

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They have the most fun in here but it wasn't always so.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Shopping allergy - the glass is half empty

Like many other consumers I have a strong aversion to shopping, it practically brings me out in hives. My mother confirms that I have always been a very bad shopper or more accurately, bad company and morose and grumbly, although not necessarily in that order. I think that my first hand experiences of the activity have always been negative. I shop badly therefore I hate shopping or possibly the other way around. That said my family demands, quite unreasonably, that I continue to be the primary shopper even though I continuously demonstrate my miserable failures.


Recently after an unexpected spate of independence and “I do it by myself” our glassware collection has suffered. It has suffered to the extent that we were reaching the bottom of the barrel, chipped cups and those without handles. Action time had arrived.

Hence I sallied forth into the tortuous throes of Target wherefore to buy plastic, or some other unbreakable replacements. As usual I was harried, harassed and haunted through the aisles by a wide variety of helpers, some employees and some mere hangers on. Nevertheless I retuned home having achieve task completion and purse emptiness. 8 new plastic glasses for the princely and outrageous sum of $1.99 each. Plus sales tax.

I spent a goodly amount of time removing unremovable labels as anything with a label is guaranteed to cause mayhem. As it turned out the investment was a bust for several different reasons.

Firstly design fault. They have concave bottoms which means that when you turn them upside down in the dish washer they collect water. Secondly, they are brown[ish]. I have recently learned that brown will not do. Whilst it’s not a universal opinion, it’s the majority opinion, 5:3 against.

These two faults, in and of themselves, are not fatal. The third fault is fatal. I witness the third fault as my eldest daughter reasons with my youngest son as he hares across the lawn to escape:-

“Hey come back here! You said you wanted water! Here’s your water!”
“What’s up? There’s no ice in it.”
“Come along now. Use your words. Help me understand. What’s the problem?”
“It’s not bad it’s straight from the tap. Honest it’s not chilled.”
“Super bad stinky.”
“It’s fresh, really. I wouldn’t lie to you.”
“Super bad stinky peanut poison.”
“Super bad stinky peanut poison pukey.”
“It’s not. Look! It’s fresh and sparkly and cool and…..”
“Super bad stinky peanut poison pukey so I’m gonna die.”
“I don’t get it? Come on. It’s in this nice new glass.”
“Oh……..it’s the glass? What’s wrong with the glass? It’s new. Don’t you like it? I mean…….what’s wrong with the glass, apart from being brown?”
“Dah glass……..is………smelled……super bad stinky peanut poison pukey.” I watch her recoil from the blast of 50 decibels. I watch her sniff the glass. I watch her open her mouth to speak as her little brother curls himself up into an impenetrable nut. She comes back inside and pops the glass on the counter, “do you know what?”
“What dear?”
“He’s absolutely right.”

p.s. does anyone know of a 'scratch and sniff' plugin or widget?

Disclaimer:- I am currently reading [amongst other things] Laura Shumaker’s ‘A regular Guy,’ Kelly Harland’s ‘A will of his Own,’ and Vicki Forman’s ‘This Lovely Life,’ at the same time. Not in tandem but in tricycle which makes for an especially interesting mind bending experience. I find the comparisons and contrasts between motherhood of a child with serious medical issues quite overwhelming, as that kind of mental torture is of an entirely new order for me. Kelly and Laura’s books on the familiar autism track seems more like a trip down memory lane, much safer territory for those of us who need our sleep.

What kind of idiot would choose to read all three simultaneously?


I’d like to blame it on happenstance or maybe catch-up, but if truth be told, I am worried about the future, as most parents are. Since I lack a crystal ball, an oversight if ever there was one, instead I make do with glimpses into other people’s future and remain hopeful.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Blogging 101 – how to deal with negative comments?

I have been blogging for far too long now. Because I’m a member of the "Autism Hub," a small yet inclusive group, I have noticed how quickly we can act together from all around the world with an alternative perspective from the mainstream. Negative comments, abuse and criticism are generally infrequent, thankfully. Since I am a technically challenged person, I shall keep my opinions personal.

Every once in a while I too have experienced negative comments. Without exception, the author has always been Anon. Anon is a busy person with strong opinions and anxious to share their superior viewpoint.

When I first started blogging I was very trepidatious, worried that the sword of Damocles would fall on my head. It didn’t. I grew bolder. As I grew in confidence I shared more and more, perhaps too much on some occasions. On one particular occasion I bared my soul to share what I considered to be a poignant moment in our family life, one that had great meaning to me. It was back from when my children had very few words. There were so few words that I actually counted how many words they used in any given day so that I could keep track, so rare, so few, so precious. You can read it here called “cracking the code” if you have a mind, although my style has changed considerably.

There were three comments for that posting and one of them, of course, was from 'Anon' who said 'This child will never have respect for you if you keep your world centered on him.' You can read at the end of the "post.”

When I read that comment I was aghast. It seemed so obscure, so completely off topic and it made me realize how difficult it can be to translate our tiny little lives into something that can be understood by other people, people in the mainstream world. The tiny occurrences in our lives are often momentous, but to other people they are commonplace and not worthy of note. A tricky translation.

At the same time, it also made me realize how far I had deviated from the mainstream world.


Respect? Of all the many things that I hope for from my children, I’m afraid that ‘respect’ doesn’t even make it to the list. Originally, pre-birth, I hoped that my children would be happy, healthy and normal. Just that. No more ambitious than that. It’s quite a tall order in today’s world. We have “happy.’ We have ‘healthy.’ ‘Normal’ is only a question of definition.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The cookie wars

5 Minutes for Special Needs

A little voice calls me, "Mom! He is fight wiv himself!"

I think perhaps resistance is futile.

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, July 27, 2009

How to Make your Own Mouse

Tackle It Tuesday Meme
Try This Tuesday

You will need;-
A 12 inch square of felt
Another scrap of felt for the shawl
A scrap of thick yarn for the tail [knot both ends]
Two small buttons for eyes [optional]
Sewing thread and needle
Scrap of fabric for the skirt

Cut out the shapes in felt from the template
Sew up the back [curved] seam
Insert the stuffing
Stitch the circle on the base inserting the yarn as a tail and check that the mouse stands upright

[Understuffed will produce a concave base which is much more likely to remain standing]

Sew on the buttons [or stitch eyes in place so that it would be safe for a baby]
Stitch the whiskers and ears [folded]
Hem, join and stitch a drawstring runner through the top of the strip
Gather the strip and attach to the middle of the mouse
Cut the scrap of felt into a triangle and snip the edge to make a fringe, stitch in place


A Tale of Foolishness:-
The why? Why bother to make your own mouse when you can buy a dozen from Petco at $3.99?

Well as you may recall, currently my son is still at the ‘part cat’ stage of development but loathes the smell of catnip. Anyway whilst we were at Longleat in England he fell in love with a very similar mouse, a mouse manufactured for the princely sum of many pounds sterling. I resisted the purchase and a great pall of gloom descended upon us. The only reason I managed to extract him from Longleat at all, was the faithful promise that I would indeed, given time, produce a mouse. It was so tempting to indulge him especially as he mewed so pitifully but apart from anything else, Longleat’s version was a doorstop and hence it was weighted down with a hefty rock inside, not ideal for international travelers with a weight limit!

In addition, we endure a daily craft during the summer holidays. In this instance we were able to introduce the concept that a sewing needle is not necessarily an instrument of torture but may indeed be the means of achieving the current motivational goal, a mouse. Fine motor skills limitations meant that he was an observer rather than a sewer, but he managed to remain within the same room and peek through his fingers at the scene. Clearly most crafts can be adapted to suit the individual needs of any particular child, but if we achieve joint attention then we’re on a winner, which indeed we did. He was quite happy to stuff the mouse so we did have a little hands on experience.

Of course, if I had been more sensible I would have saved myself a whole heap of bother by not going into the shop in the first place. This is one of the reasons why so many parents of autistic children become hermits, it's just easier that way. However, we continue to venture forth as the easy option is not always available.

Lastly, I know that this kind of parental indulgence frequently evokes criticism, maybe you have been on the receiving end yourself? All I would say is that people who criticize, [usually 'Anon'] generally do not have first hand experience, long term with autistic people. If you actually live with an autistic person who has no interest in anything, or maybe only one or two things, to the exclusion of all other things, then part of a parent’s job is to help expand those interests, gently and gradually. Our job is not to eliminate the one or two special interests, that would certainly be a mistake, unkind and probably cruel. No, instead we offer all and everything that we can think of to tempt them into other things. Given time and encouragement there may just be a tiny little spark and it is those little sparks that ignite us into action, no matter how trivial or obscure. I tell you truly, it’s worth every effort.

This design is available in an out of print book called "My Learn to Sew Book." It is a bit dated but has easy to follow instructions.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

I like Tiny

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.

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My children's life, school life, is enhanced by the professional expertise of wise persons. The wise persons at their school are able to tap into their talents and extract similar abundance from the children, not just mine but all the other unique little individuals.

Recently it was my son's turn, he with an eye for the minutiae of life, in all it's glory. His pockets are always full of teeny, tiny, essential precious things. [when they're not lost!] Hence all the children wrote lists of tiny things

and then drew a picture of one of the tiny things:-

Of course one of the other things that he's frightfully keen on is long handled things but I imagine that's a bit more difficult to manage in a school setting. What a pity those long rulers, belts and whips have been phased out.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

‘I am be…..’ - Career Choices for autistic people

This is a little phrase I hear every so often. To be honest, it’s not a phrase that I ever thought I would hear because pretend play didn’t find us for a very long time.

I don’t know your priorities but I would highly recommend the following – keep a list [yes another one] . Stick your piece of paper in the kitchen. Where else [?] and add to it regularly. It makes for a delightful easy splot of nostalgia; ‘what will you be when you grow up?’

[We apply this to all family members on the theory that some day we adults may have different jobs!]

Oh how it changes.

Oh how it doesn’t resemble anything that the typical kids come up with.

All the usual fire fighter, super hero, artist options never see the light of day. Instead we have an eclectic collection of options, phases that they grow through. Do not allow your older children to destroy it as evidence they now find embarrassingly babyish.

Now I suspect that some people are a little skeptical. Maybe a child is not able to speak or is currently learning to use PECs. Sometimes we parents are apt to be a bit pessimistic about the future. Some of us aim at independence but are shaky on the details of how to achieve that goal. It can be difficult to focus on the future when so many of us are buried the daily minutiae. All I can say, is that we have done this for several years now. Initially it was merely a initial exercise in extracting speech and engaging joint attention, one of the tiny steps in the equivalent of Floortime. It had the advantage of being a neutral subject that did not trigger meltdowns, namely, boring. It served so many different functions such as taking turns, listening skills and oddly enough, being in the here and now, together.

As is so often the case, all this time later, they now volunteer information. They tell me things because they want me to know these things. For some, this point is of no consequence, bewildering, why even mention it, but for others, the true significance of such a development is almost to tantalizing to think about. If you had told me 7 years ago that this would be so, I would probably have told you to go and boil your head, because I was even grumpier then than I am now. Now, it’s your turn to tell me to go and boil my head and I’ll see you back here in seven years to compare notes.

Disclaimer:- Dear google searcher ……….. asking this question will not make autism go away.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Tide marks of handprints? Another new first!

Slurping Life

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Not so long back my children were earth bound with feet of clay, never to venture from my side they clung like limpets. Less than 18[?] months ago, they wouldn't even venture upstairs during daylight hours. The whole second story was a place of trepidation.

And I'm passing the cleaning duties to the twit that let them watch Spiderman.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A first time for Everything

If you live for years with bolters and escape artists, along with a slew of dead bolts, padlocks and safety chains, it can be difficult to break the panic habit.

I hear the click of the front door and make a dash for it. I miss him by a second and scramble out into the garden, dressing gown aflap. He shuts the garden gate on me as I arrive and takes two steps out into the road as I yell and slip through the white picket. He turns to blink at me as my hands travel around his shoulders suddenly very close to his throat, “wot?” I search for my calm tone as the fabric gapes at my neckline, exposed.
“I need you to come back inside ……where you’ll be safe.”
“I am safe. I’m waitin for the bus.”
“Oh…….well wait with me…….inside.”
“It’s o.k. mom.” I can almost see his halo of innocence, his sincerity, “I wasn’t gonna run away or anything…….why would I?”

I recall a thousand different reasons and even more occasions, the millions of metres that I have chased my children all over San Jose but for now I’ll just focus on this one.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Out of the act

With Nonna’s birthday approaching I decide that teamwork is the only way. My daughter and her partner agree to mind the smalls whilst I barricade myself in her bedroom to complete Nonna’s new housecoat. Secrets are a difficult concept to grasp at the best of times but I try anyway.

“So listen guys!”
“My job is to sew. Your job is to keep Nonna out of the bedroom.”
“Because I want it to be a secret. I don’t want her to see what I’m sewing.”
“So it will be a surprise.”
“Surprise is badly.”
“Some people like surprises. Nonna likes surprises. Do you think you could help keep her out……..distract her……something like that?”

I note the blank stares as their sister lures them out into the garden with the far more interesting option of lizard hunting.

After nearly an hour of battling with my ancient sewing machine I am all ready to emerge, triumphant with task completion.

Other people have also achieved task completion or something like that I suppose.

I do not like surprises. Message received, fully understood and executed.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What's your sleep number?

5 Minutes for Special Needs

Some people can sleep anywhere.

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, July 20, 2009

Resin casting

Tackle It Tuesday Meme
Try This Tuesday

You will need:-
Bottle of resin
Mould Release spray
A piece of felt the same size as the bottom of your mould
Interesting thingummy bob
Disposable bowl for stirring
Popiscle stick for stirring
Disposable mould or something you already have but don’t mind sacrificing to art
Waste paper / drop cloth to protect surfaces

1.Read the instructions carefully and conduct the whole exercise is an open air space due to the fumes unless you wish to get high whilst supervising a children’s activity?

2.Check that the interesting thingy fits in your mould without touching the edges or bottom or poking out the top. [this is a great exercise in spatial awareness in and of itself as you have to imagine the thingummy bob in 3D floating in your chosen mould]

3.Spray the mould with mould release and leave to dry. Repeat.

4.Make up a small quantity of resin according to the manufacturer’s instructions in a disposable mixing bowl and add the catalyst. This will make the first layer so that the thingummy doesn’t poke through. Remember that you are actually making the cast upside down whereby the first layer you pour, is really the top.
5.Stir thoroughly without creating bubbles.
6.Pour into the mould and leave to harden.
7.Cover with a cloth so that foreign objects, dust or the occasional fly doesn’t accidentally become embedded.
8.Once dry place your object on the now hardened first layer.
9.Repeat the layers until the object is completely covered.
10.Leave to harden preferably overnight.
11.Cut a piece of felt to fit the bottom of the ‘paper weight’ and glue on securely.

Warning:- take care to explain to the children…… whatever they want to commit to a cast is for a life sentence, non-returnable nor returnable.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

I'm in heaven!

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.

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He was asked to list and draw his favourite things:- chocolate pudding, goldfish crackers, peppermints and candy.

Then he flipped the paper over to draw this with the title above:-

Just look at that facial expression!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Animal planet and the general menagerie

Television has a lot to answer for, or rather, unsupervised television viewing by the youth of today. I find the youth of the day spitting into the air and watching the spittle land at his toe nails. I admonish the youth today, although I am secretly pleased at his incredible display of such fine lip closure, “and just what exactly do you think you are doing Sunny Jim!”
“I am being dah Archer Fish.”
Of course he is!
“Well I don’t want to see that again thank you,” I lie in a truthful manner. I watch him tip toe out into the garden in exaggerated sneak mode.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friends for the next century

Slurping Life

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On another tack, there's this little woman whom I have never met, called Vicki. She lives just a hop skip and a jump up the road from me and blogs at "Speak Softly." She's a busy little bug what with her "Literary Mama" column. I expect you know her too. What you may have missed, what with it being summer and all, is that her book "This Lovely Life" which is featured over here on this "Web page," although my copy is winging it way from "Amazon," probably via some unfortunate carrier pigeon knowing my luck. I'm pretty confident that it'll prove a great read as she's one of those eternal optimists but I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Night time interlopers

I climb the ladder to say my goodnights to my youngest child. Each has their own particular ritual, of no real significance as such, but developed and morphed over the years to meet a lengthy list of preferential treatment. Each version is private. Each version is whispered. No-one ever hears the entire details that another enjoys. “Ti voglio bene” I coo as my opening attention grabbing phrase, in the gloom to a mop of chlorine soaked hair. It’s my only Italian phrase, culled from a lullaby several light years ago.
“Ti voglio bene……”
I am unused to repeating my opening gambit more than three times, but I suspect that our respective response times are dulled by jetlag.
“Ti voglio bene.”
“You………are you mother?”
“Oh dear!”
“You are speak foreign?”
“What are you doing up here in the top bunk? Why aren’t you down there in the bottom bunk?”

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Rhinotillexomania - nose picking

I am busy picking my nose in a precious moment of privacy, when he bursts into the bathroom to use the facilities, “ooo what you are do?”
I put down the tweezers to explain myself, “well I’m pulling off all the dead sunburnt skin from the tip of my nose.”
“Yes……thank you. It’s very sore actually.”
“Why it burn?”
“The sun……when we were in England.”
“It is being polite?”
“Er…….English style nose pickin.”

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


5 Minutes for Special Needs

It masks itself as peaceful slumber:-

The reality is quite different:-

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, July 13, 2009

Lost Leader

Tackle It Tuesday Meme
Try This Tuesday

It's summer time and the living is tricky, so I only have a whizzy quicky fix this week.

The problem?

How to rid my household of the less than perfect. We have quite a lot of "less than perfect" around here, a thoroughly disgraceful ratio of good to bad. But what to do with all the "rejects?"


Photograph the perfect next to the imperfect. Mark with a tick and a cross to help some people see the fault that is all to obvious to my family. Figure out the right price for the "perfect" deduct 25cents and then offer one perfect and one imperfect at 25 cents to the clientele with one rule:-

if you buy the "perfect" then please also buy the imperfect, buy both.

It's a gimmick but ever so gradually we are whittling down the reserves of imperfect stacked in the garage.

And yes you're right. Whilst we were away in England my daughter whisked away the tables and replaced them with a market stall! Home made! All from recycled materials. What a little star she is!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Give us this day, our daily baby

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.

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As the mother of two autistic children I have far more to moan about than many. One of the many things that I most enjoy moaning about is the wide variety of unco-operative domestic appliances skulling around the house. The top moaning slot is usually allotted to the cooker. The cooker is a huge great ugly thing that came with the house. It’s a commercial, if not industrial lump of steel, capable of catering to the needs of the average restaurant. However, during the summer months I am forced to ignore it even more than usual. This is due to the existence of constant cognitive dissonance on my part which roughly translates as follows:-

Mother nature already hates me for using the air conditioning during a heat wave but she’ll throw me off the planet if I turn the oven on at the same time.

The trouble with the oven, apart from it’s hugeness, is that once lit, it is happy to warm the entire house to 425 degrees centigrade as it belches out heat for several hours post switch off. It is truly the creation of the devil.

That said, my family’s need for sustenance, especially bread, averaging 3 loaves a day, is quite insatiable.

Hence I discuss my latest cunning plan with "Nonna," cook extraordinaire back in the day, as I trip over multifarious swift moving children.

“So……..what about dis den?”
“I’m going to make bread, pasties and muffins all day long and then cook them all in one go late in the afternoon.”
“It is good to fill dah ting sometimes.”
“Yes……in theory……but easier said than done.”
“You’re doing pretty well so far I tink,” she adds as she prods the latest batch of rolls on the rise.
“It’s all in the timing……I hope.”
“You know I tink you could roast a "whole baby" in dat ting!”

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Two differing viewpoints

When faced with fresh, lightly chilled, extremely juicy and sweet, seedless watermelon:- one of my sons, the "former neophobic," has very low facial muscle tone which makes eating a strenuous business, my other son, who eats more or less anything [except bananas] displays a remarkable dislike for this most innocent of fruits.

“I am called it an ‘aqua jaw breaker’ coz of dah watery and hard to biting.”

Or........how to eat watermelon without using your hands.

On the other hand......his brother:-


For yet another alternative view of watermelons, zip over to my pal "Melody" for a quick "slurp" and spit out the pips.

Friday, July 10, 2009

A snip of peace and quiet on Brownsea Island

Slurping Life

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But it only lasted a nano second!

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