Monday, March 31, 2008

Autism Awareness Month - WhatdoIdo?

Autism Awareness Month is upon us and I have done NOTHING to prepare! It's the same with anniversaries and my wife's birthday, I always wait till the last minute for inspiration to strike...most times the only thing that strikes is my wife when she finds out I got her nothing for our anniversary or her b-day!

OK, my first stoopid thing I'll do...where an Autism Awareness shirt to work every day. I must have at least 10 of those, meaning I'll have to do laundry around the middle of the month. I might be able to do that.

Should I try and blog every day? Ambitious...I'll probably have steal half of Kristina Chew's posts to do that. I dunno.. might take up too much time, I'll try though.

Let's see, something else to do, about autism...something meaningful, Paint my car with puzzle pieces?...nah too much work. Protest at the state house in Trenton about the state of insurance coverage for autism therapies? Can't get a day off...that won't work. Allright, think hard...autism...helping autistics...who do I know who's...HEY, I GOT IT! Maybe I'll spend more floortime with my girls! Get the other rugrats to do the same! YEA! What better way to celebrate autism awareness month than to spend more time being aware of our autistics!

OK everyone, get to work raising YOUR awareness of that special someone in April. Hug or scratch or stim with or walk with or talk to or listen to or just be with that significant person or persons in your life who makes you care about the fact that that it's Autism Awareness month. OH yea? Well then, do it MORE!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Pavlov's Parents Subtitle:Can She Really Grow Up?

I started writing this a week or two ago and a news article caught my ear this morning about fish and inspired me to finish. It seems that they have taught sea bass to respond to a bell that was used whenever they were fed that is used to get them to 'net' themselves later in life when they are ready to be 'harvested'. Personally it sounds like a Twilight Zone episode to me (Nemo, wait! 'To Serve Bass', it's a COOKBOOK). Anyway, Pavlov has also been figuring in our household.

Susan Senator got me inadvertently thinking about a topic that is beginning to bubble to the surface at our house of late. She commented about being uncomfortable about being an authority figure. I subconsciously misread it and brought myself to realization that we (me and Linda) are uncomfortable about being athoriTATive towards the girls, particularly Livie. We have worked so hard for her to begin to put demands on us that we have almost forgotten what it is to put demands on her.

It probably started when we began the potty journey in November, sorry to disappoint, we're only training Liv for now; we realized if we did both at once we wouldn't have time to 'go' ourselves. We're really not putting the demand that SHE initiate it, we just set a timer and take her when the bell goes off, hoping that we don't initiate some kind of cruel comic Pavlovian irony. She will play the 'cripple' with us though, having us guide her to the bathroom and wait around, helping her with her clothes. We found out a month ago, she had been going into the bathroom at school on her own, when the bell would sound, and get herself reasonably together afterwards and come back out. "GREAT! I mean, WHAT?" was my wife's reaction. She's been playing us! Why work hard when the butler and maid are there? Same think at speech therapy, lots of word sounds, she's a hard worker when you push her a little. We just still have that 'china doll' mentality when it comes to our breakable little girl; ANY indication to what she wants and we give in.

I also thing she's got on some kind of Pavlov-ian leash as well. She will open and close the fridge, not necessarily to get juice or cupcakes; but to have a parent come a runnin'. Opening and closing a closet door or turning on and off a light switch are certainly a stim, but the added benefit is someone pays attention. She and we just have to train each other what the other really wants and how top properly get and give attention.

I think we're turning a corner now though. She's now putting on her own clothes, especially if she's taking them off. Again, she's doing it at school; but when she's home, she sticks her foot out for us to put on the sock. Now picking up toys she drops will be the norm. Kicking anything (or anyone), now dealt with: before---ignored; after---time out. Practically speaking, we don't have time to baby her anymore. Emotionally, it's at once melancholy to have her grow up and YEEE HAW... she's progressing.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Hey! Welcome to the show...I'm your host, Bill. I hope you enjoyed the buffet (ihopeyouavoidedtheshrimp). I'll be your entertainment for the evening. I'm new here, hoping everything will be to you liking here in ClubHub.

Hey, how many aspies do we have in the audience tonight, wave your hands? WOW! quite a few of you out there, I'm glad you got out here tonight...OK OK you can stop waving your hands...OH? OK, keep wavin' them...anything that makes you happy.

Parents with kids on the spectrum? Anyone? OK I see few with their heads on the tables, someone wake them up, I know it's past 9:00 folks but you spent the money you should try and say awake. I don't care how late your kids were up last night.

Lastly, any scientists out there? Yea, I know there are some who are both scientists AND aspies and EVEN parents...yea pal, I really don't know how I'm going to handle that bias in my analysis...jeez there's always a epidemiological heckler in the group, isn't there?

Well, I'd like to thank you for inviting me here, for those three people who read my blog who are not directly related to the spectrum, I've just hit the autism blog 'big time', they are now linking me on something called Autism Hub, really just a spot on the web with buncha links to blogs for people talking about and around and being in the autism spectrum. My family wouldn't get a lot of what's talked about there. But my Dad's probably here in the audience tonight in the back. Dad? Take a bow. Dad? Huh? No, Dad, I think he's OK, he just doesn't want you talking to him, no, the joke was probably real funny, you're just invading his space. He'll stop talking to you, sir. Yea, give my dad a little slack he's probably the only neurotypical in the room.

So, a little about myself, I'm old enough to remember dials on TV's. I've been married for...for...WTF! 20 years this year?! Wow, SHE deserves a medal! We have 5 humans under our charge, my two youngest are why I got into this whole autism world. I was going to say that my youngest two, I'm learning how to understand, then I realized...I don't understand ANY of them! They're 13 down to 3. I'm from the great state of NJ and NO, the environmental issues in NJ did not cause my children's autism. Well, maybe, I'm not 100% sure.

Which brings us to something I have to tell you's people in the Hub audience (I never was comfortable sayin' y'all, so I use the Soprano's vernacular instead). I have my daughters on biomedical interventions. HEY! Those veggies are for eating, the manager will make me clean the stage up if you start throwing them! I told them upfront that I had these leanings, I'm not one of those radicals if that's what your worried about. I freely admit the lack of scientific evidence that some of the things we do have. Uh oh, here comes the epidemiheckler again, yea yea buddy, we can debate AFTER the show and I'll probably lose... sir, do you chase nuns down the street to debate atheism? Right, lemme finish my set first, sir.

OK, to wrap up my kids...I'm gonna fight for my girls' rights...that is, if I can keep my sanity intact. We have a lot to talk and laugh about, lotta work to do. Otherwise, catch my show; I'll do one every week or so. Catch my DVD's for sale in the lobby. Take advantage of the free beer and wine (for those wine lovers... exnay on the ineway, it's vintage February), come back soon and don't forget to tip the staff...

Monday, March 17, 2008

Command Performance

My wife requested I write about my day and try to put my usual comic spin on it. Well, I'm still in the midst of it, so I'm not sure how it's going to come out, so here it goes.

First things first...standard bad morning. Grace has a fever and I heard her talking in her sleep around 4:30 am. I'm trying to drift back down again when our six inch wide cat decides to try and jump onto the three inch wide window sill...not once, but twice! Tigger has a heart condition so I don't throw her across the room like I do with a normal cat (kidding ASPCA). After hemming, hawing, holding down and minor scratching, she gives up. We do, however hear Grace again; Lin gets geared up to bring her into the living room, only to find it was a false alarm. 5:30 comes around and this time it's no drill, Linda takes her into the living room. I begin drifting off again when the other half of the girls bedroom wakes up at 6:00. I keep Liv in bed with me; Liv is none too happy about this and lets me know for the next 60 minutes until it's time to get up.

The rest of the morning goes pretty normal...1 hour commute is only 1.5 hours due to a car fire blocking the Parkway (not mine and an extra half hour is really not that bad). Get through the day, I get to leave early at 4 (yeaaa!) to go finish my root canal (boo!). Allot 1.5 hours to get there,it only takes 1 hour (booo!) dentist takes me early (yea!).

My current dentist is a woman, and it occurred to me what a perfect job for a woman who's a capital B witch: dictate to men what to do with their mouths and inflict LOTS of pain! Not that my dentist is like that. Truth be told she reminds me more of Dolores Umbrage from Harry Potter fame. Very frilly office, pink matching everything and a woman at the center inflicting pain. I guess I would feel the same way about anyone ripping at my lips sticking sharp objects into the roots of my teeth.

OK done with the med-evil pre dinner appetizer. Get home and get the main course. Grace is looking horrible with her fever on the couch; she gets up and comes onto my lap. AWWWW, she's laying her head down on me. EEEEEWWWW she's throwing up all over me. Circumstances have it that I get stuck with her on my lap for the next half hour until the Motrin takes effect and I get to get out of the days now wet stinky clothes.

I go out to get myself some Whoppers for dinner, I'm about to sit down to eat the when "Bill, can you eat in the bathroom?" Liv's in the tub and Linda's trying to get something else done. She must have seen the mixture of pathos and anger in my eyes, so she let me have the 6.5 minutes to eat them, then I get the easy job of watching an already clean Liv in the tub. Not so tonight as two grunts and I suddenly have a first class poopy emergency on my hands. Quick get her out of the tub, destroy any toys that came in contact with water and clean the (OMG, I forgot to clean the tub! I'll get that later).

I topped the evening off being reminded what day it is and searching with Jason and Dillan in the dark backyard with flashlights...for leprechauns. As luck would have it I'm obviously not Irish, for I caught no leprechauns nor breaks today.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Not to be Outdone (subtitle: Timing is Everything)

While Liv has shown some interaction, Grace must have been reading my blog and decided to try and outshine her big sister. Grace has some fantastic base skills: she's sight reading, she's speaking three languages (echoic behaviors, thanks Noggin), she's a whip with puzzles...but.

She had been very very obsessive compulsive lately. She'll want things done a certain way, say certain things from shows and DON'T interrupt or change it. She had been calling all people 'mommie' when requesting. Playing just this way requesting just that way...but.

The past two weeks she has mellowed somewhat. Not as much echoing; we've been working on mixing up the way we 'tell' her how to request (Daddy, can I please have a juice; Aly, please get me that toy) and she's more general. She's been the other half of the comedy team in the tub with Liv, they've been more comfortable with each other's presence and physical contact is not uncomfortable (maybe it's because it's starting to get crowded in the tub!). In short, she's been a different kid these past two weeks. Maybe it's the ABA kicking in, maybe its us switching her from Methyl B12 to Hydroxy B12; maybe maturation...dunno. We'd be completely happy with this, but.

We had hired a Board Certified Behavioral Analyst to go into her classroom to write a behavioral plan. We're eventually going to have her moved from a pre-school disabled program to an autistic-only Verbal Behavior classroom. She had been acting out in class almost from the day she started in September last year, we have somewhat confirmed fears that they were just letting her do whatever she wants in the classroom, and she had begun to regress over the past three to four months. The BCBA was going to get the teachers and the aids working to stop the slipping. So when she went last Friday, she was met with a child with half the outbursts she had the previous week. Ironic that you CAN sometimes get what you want, God never says anything about WHEN you want it!

So, we're somewhat cruising here...some of the tumblers are clicking. It's crazy as usual, but the unusuals are pleasant surprises. Saturday afternoon, I had these cloth 'clubhouses' , both Liv and Grace were playing independently. Liv decided to go into the kitchen, Grace wanted someone else in the house, so she came out calling 'Liv' (She has NEVER sought her out before) and she tried to drag her with her. Liv didn't reciprocate...but WOW, what a breakthrough!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Ugly Green-Eyed Monster Rears Her Beautiful Head

We're dealing with some wonderful new behaviors with Livie lately. If I were a 'normal' parent (we could get into whether I'm 60% normal or even if I'm abby-normal with the 60% as well), I would probably be lamenting the advent of something that most dread. But Liv has begun to show JEALOUSY! We weren't sure a few days ago; Linda was singing the 'I Love You' Barney song with Grace on her lap. Liv was on the couch, covered her ears, got up and assaulted Linda (grabbed the side of Linda's face and gave her a dirty look). Linda was in shock trying to figure it out. A few minutes later, Aly and i were singing the song to Livie and got laughter, then her version of anger. So we had sort of a mystery on our hands.

Linda figured it out a few days later...Liv actually HATES the Barney 'I Love You' song . She tried singing it to Liv and got a very negative reaction. But we have found other songs (namely the Peanut Butter song and others)she absolutely loves, and her therapists have been commenting that music is pretty high on her wants list. Linda has also had two more occasions where she has gotten negative reactions to flagrant signs of affection to the 'other party'.

So there we have it...two outward expressions of emotion: Jealousy and HATRED! The therapists have also been noting in her Saturday class that whenever they are doing what Livie wants; she's happy and compliant. But when it's Gracie's turn to choose, the hands go to the ears and she becomes quite ornery.

It's always been hard for me; when we first found out we were having Grace we thought that these two would be like peas in a pod, that they would be extremely close. Autism makes it seem like they barely acknowledge each others existence. It is thrilling, to say the least, that they are at least reacting to each others presence and realize that one is doing something the other wants or is causing things to not go the way they want. Wait till they have their first fist fight, Linda and I will be having tears of JOY!