Monday, February 25, 2008

Break in the Action

Sorry, haven't posted in a while, not for lack of material, just lack of a cohesive subject or passion to write it down in a personal post. Anyway, here are just a few of the issues going on:

We recently went to Pittsburg to attend a workshop on apraxia and autism. Fantastic speakers, Tamara Kasper and Nancy Kaufman. They were awe inspiring in their techniques using Verbal Behavior ABA for Speech issues in apraxia and particularly autistics with apraxia. It's fascinating how they broke down what sounds are easy to make (M, B, T, P, D and short vowels A and E) and how to simplify more complex sounds into word approximations that these kids can make until they can work their way up to the full word.
The lightbulb moment for Speech Language Pathologist is that they can use this autism Verbal Behavior approach to pair with reinforcement (Using things they reaally like to get children to use sound to communitate) to help kids learn and want to communicate verbally.
These women are cutting edge in their approach and they are seeing some great results and smaller studies are backing their findings. Tamara is only one of of a few doen in the country who are Board Certified Behavioral Analysts AND SLP's. It seems like a natural match made in heaven to me, but hey, I'm biased. Anyway, HERE is the organization that put on the conference. We had a great time by the way...first time in 7 YEARS we'd been away from the kids! I didn't call her 'mom' once!

Grace got out twice more while we were away. Much less serious since she was going out the door when someone was already out there. We're getting better at listening for the jingle bells (we still have a candy cane made of jingle bells on the door) and we rarely forget to lock the door. I just have to get to Home Depot to get the chain or the deadbolt, because it's only a matter of time before she learns, adapts and escapes again.

Our neighbors dog got out the other day and went after the kids in the backyard. Linda went off on the woman, since this dog has already bitten both Aly and Grace on separate occasions. The woman swore she was going to get rid of the dog a year ago when she bit Grace, then reniged and wound up putting up one of those doggie electronic fences. It would help if she kept the collar on him 24/7. I'm really a dog lover but this one's days are numbered...


NJ is in committee as we speak for more autism legislation including one to require insurance to cover ABA therapies. Hope we can get that one through.
Fighting to get Grace into the autistic program with Sept definitely, but we hope it's earlier because her teacher has pretty much stopped caring about her behaviors.
Laundry, taxes, dishes, snow, car repairs...just basic life otherwise...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Great Escape

We have finally experienced something that many parents of autistic kids deal with on an almost daily basis...a child getting out of the house. Grace decided that her little universe was not big enough and decided to venture outside.

To give you the lay of the land, we have a bi-level (I think). You know, front door landing and stairs going up and stairs going down. We have a gate at the top of the stairs that's been through the wars. It's missing the last bar and a few months ago, it lost the 'push button' that made it impossible for anyone without a Phd to open it. Now it's easy to open but Grace and Liv had not made any pretenses to open it, until a few weeks ago, when Grace began opening the gate and going downstairs.

Well a couple of times open the gate and us saying "stop that" is one was different. Aly and Lin were in the other room, Aly came out to talk with the boys, called them but they did not answer. She went down the stairs, not noticing the open gate and passed and shut the front door.

"Mom, they're not here."
"What do you mean they're not here? Wait, they're outside, I can see them through the glass."
Aly opened the door to find it was indeed Grace, playing on the front lawn in the rain.

"GRACE IS OUTSIDE!!" started the panic. Aly went down the stairs wavering "GRRAAACE!" in her bare feet. With that, Grace decided to bolt into the cul-de-sac (I am SOOO glad we chose a cul-de-sac house!). She got 3/4 of the way across the street before Aly caught up. THUNKA THUNKA harm, no injuries, no foul. Just an adrenaline rush on both chasers and a couple years of of Linda's life.

I get the much more mundane call at work. It's always good to hear, "Guess what? Now, she's perfectly alright... but guess what Gracie did?" Kinda like watching the horror movie for the second time. It's still scary, but the 'jump outs' just don't have the same effect.

So, we are weighing our options: basic chain lock, simple audio alarm, high deadbolt or more extreme measures like alarm companies and wrist bands. So, if you are one of those with 'runners' in your autistic household, I understand the digitalis and white hair now; please be kind to us as we join this most undesirable club...

Saturday, February 09, 2008

The Dell

I get a lot of flack from the household about being addicted to the internet. Between being on 'the boards' discussing autism issues, just looking at the news and blogging, I do spend an inordinate amount of time surfing. But my wife and kids have taken it to another level, identifying an entity for which I am enamored to...the 'Dell'.
My Dell is not really mine, but my work computer. But it sits open and running on the dining room table, 3 hours a day during the week and probably 16 hours on weekends. I relate with what Homer Simpson once said of TV the same thing I feel for the internet: "Television: teacher, mother... secret lover! ...". My computer is in competition for time and, to a certain extent, affection with my wife and kids. I have no qualms about admitting it, it's good to admit you have an addiction.
My wife and her mother describe it as my 'pacifier'. Jason has seen an opening in my attentions towards Linda and is making his moves on my wife. They love to ask me the question "If you were stuck on a desert island, would you rather have your wife or your Dell with you. My answer is obvious: the Dell, because then I could contact someone to get OFF the island! So many permutations have been gone through on this, finally my son pointed out that the battery would go dead (No mention of the lack of a wireless router or even electricity!).
We've had several near misses with the Dell getting fried. Grace and Liv have made 'purposeful' spills very close to it; it's in a dangerous spot to begin with. Liquid spills are a fact of life at the dinner table. Also, Grace has a fascination with pushing that button until the power goes off, maybe she's trying to tell me something.
The Dell's getting old, not the age...the mileage. It's missing the F9 key, thanks to Lickie; it's missing 3 of it's 4 rubber 'legs' underneath; the 'A' on the A key is rubbed off. It currently does NOT like to dock at work, and it runs as slow as molasses runnin uphill in the winter. I suppose that I need to trade it in, we're upgrading to a new model at work this year. I can easily part with it despite my family's worries; after all, it's not the machine, it's what it does...

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Jersey Giants!