Sunday, August 31, 2008


Obviously we pray that all people will stay out of harms way as Gustav looks to be heading towards LA. But, if it's possible to pray for a city, New Orleans needs all the help it can get. I fear this may be a death nell for the city. I'm not so sure that Katrina and Gustav are just devastating coincidences, and we might be seeing the beginning of the end of this major Gulf Coast city.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Bring on the New School Year

We're on vacation this week. So far we've been on vacation from two things you would not expect. We were on vacation from electrical power on Sunday for 7 hours; we've also been on vacation from normal sleep patterns as BOTH girls have been waking up at night. Lucky for us, we can adjust OUR sleep patterns and get our full 6 or 7 or 8 hours of sleep.

This week is also the week of testing the new schedule. We have them both in camp from 9 to 1. It's incredible what you can get done in that amount of time. Linda has the potential to get at LEAST a 9-2 out of the fall schedule as both Liv and Grace will be in the same school. I may have mentioned that this is the longest break Linda has had since Jason was...wait since Dillan was... since Aly was...heck EVER! This is going to be a monster year for determining whether we can get enough hours out of the day having both in full time classrooms. A whole buncha new things are coming in 08-09 but that is the key. 5 hours of freedom to get done what needs to be done. 5 hours to see whether the 'base' of their education/therapies will be good or bad. School is where all drives from; if we get good teachers and aids and therapists, we KNOW we have good private therapists, so things will go well, but we need that good base to launch from.

Yes 2008/2009 will decide much in what we do and how we do it. The other three are in a steady state; same schools, basic same routine. But Grace and Liv drive the mood and tenor in the house; where they succeed or fail the rest of our mood/household follows. If may sound extreme, but it IS 40% of our children and a larger % of our efforts. May your year go half as well as I expect our year to go....

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Some may think that a night out with the family is no big deal. But when you are seven and two are autistic, a night out with all seven of us has NEVER occurred. All that changed last night thanks to an organization called POAC and a restaurant in Aberdeen NJ called The Court Jester. Forget that we barely FIT all of us in the minivan, forget that any number of things could have set the girls off. I walked into this restaurant expecting to explain "Well YOU invites US" and having at least two of the family waiting for the rest in the van at the end of the night.

Well the evening went off without a hitch. Hardly an outburst from either child; no major fighting between the older three. People coming around every now and again willing to take a child off our hands to entertain them while we eat. It was great to have volunteers from both POAC and New Horizons in Autism there willing to help out. A gluten free menu was available, although we had backup food which proved to also be a lifesaver since both rejected the fair.

What was really great was the sense of community I got out of the experience. We are somewhat isolated in who we interact with; we really only see parents and children in our own age group at the current school. It was nice to see varying ages of autistics, from toddlers to adults all enjoying themselves. It went so well we thought why we hadn't done this in a 'real' restaurant. But I think having that ability to let our hair down, have an occasional 'whoop' come out of Liv, that a sense of worry might have affected our mood and made it more probable that a meltdown would occur. It's a shame that people in the 'real' world can't get over their need for quiet, perfect enjoyment of their evening to accommodate our differences.

Speaking of, one of Grace's aids was there and almost didn't recognize her. You see, last week we had a bit of an incident where a pair of scissors went missing and Grace decided it was time for a makeover. Thank goodness no major accident occurred, but the styling job she did on her hair left much to be desired. She has 1 inch long bangs now and a good sized gash of hair missing from one side. It took a professional to get her to the point where she did not look like a train wreck, but no one in their right mind would have chosen her current 'bob', to put it euphemistically.

So, we may now have a once a month date at this restaurant since they are planning to do this monthly. Hope to see you there...

Monday, August 18, 2008


WOW, almost two weeks without a post! But between my physical therapies during the week and just stuff backing up over the girls being done with summer school, times are tough for free time.

This weekend was sort of a blur, but refreshing because I actually got out of the house a couple of times. The first was yet another excursion into the paranormal. No really, ghost hunting has become a hobby. It's cheap (put out maybe 100$ for equipment and 20$ for a lifetime membership to the NJ Ghosthunters Society; it's conveinient...the cemetary investigations start right around when the girls go to bed; and it lets me utilize my internet investigation techniques to find out about various histories of the area around Monmouth County. Won't get into it all here, maybe I'll start a new blog, rather than clutter my autism blog.

But the real fun started on Sunday morning. Liv has been housebound for several weekends, I had been worried about my ability to lift her over these last few weeks so we hadn't gotten out. Grace was stricken with an ear infection that we discovered on Saturday (and that *I* was the one to push to have her go to the doctors for once). I'm gearing up for the afternoon around 1:00. Aly had been pushing to hang out with her friend, she gets hold of her and decide to go to the movies. 2:10 showing, I have to shower, but I can make it. 1:30 getting set to go, packing Liv to take her along. Dillan gets a call from his friend...playdate at the friends house. OK, I can drop him off first, tell them you'll be over in 10 minutes. Get a little delayed, call Dillan's friend shift that to 1/2 hour. Pick up Aly's friend, drop off at the movies; drop off Dillan. I am now free to roam about the county for the next hour and a half.

Things didn't go as planned for me and Liv. Local bay-front, Laurence Harbor...packed to the gills, both parking lots; swing back around to Keyport, flea market, that lot's packed too. I remember a dirt road back around Union Beach from my travels and decide to take a chance. A quarter mile hike on a road lined with reeds yielded a neat little outcropping on the bay during low tide. We got to wade through gentle flowing water and tide pools full of little fishes, seaweed and hermit crabs. She has a lot of her sensory issues in her feet so the varying sand softness, the shells and water were just to her liking. Fisherman wading 100 yards out into the shallows, a Mexican family clam hunting in the reeds, a photographer taking shots of the scenery and dozens of sailboats dotting the bay and it was a nice little distraction we had to leave all too soon.

Back into the car to pick up the girls at the movies; drop off at her friend's house. Hit up a new take out place for a menu, check out a new supemarket in the area. Back to get Dillan, head home for the dinner break, then back out for my final pickup of Aly. The 1 to 9 shift is finally over.

Certainly not the day I had planned, but all in all a great tour of my local Bayshore area...and I wore Livie out with her being a co-pilot...

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


Reading through my last post, I realize that there is a back story about something that is critical in the lives of, not only parents of autistics, but of parents in general...and that includes those of you who are parents to the four-legged variety (all living breathing beings for that matter). Doors play a critical role in all our lives; I'm not sure if they play a more critical role in our be 'da judge.

We have, make that 12 living breathing entities in our house, including the one fish. Each has their own unique needs for containment and/or access to the outside world. Fish, no prob, self contained, we only have to watch out for unwanted intrusions from the 4 felines and Liv who loves to stim on the water. A little duct tape and we're set. Next,, you have to keep them inside...check, don't leave doors open. They need access to the garage to do their bidness, kitty door...check. Our newest kitten has a little specific incontinence trouble (she likes to pee on bathroom floors), right now she is relegated to our room with her own littler box. I think this is where it begins to get complicated.

Bedroom door shut to keep the cat in, that works for the most part, except for the girls. Livie cannot open doors, so we're safe there. Grace, however knows no boundaries, can and will open all doors. I also made the unfortunate mistake of unlocking the bedroom door in front of her. Now she is always on the lookout for coins to unlock the bedroom door. Livie DOES however like to shut doors. They're like a tagteam, Grace is the security expert and Liv is the mastermind. Unlock the door to look for mommie, let the cat out, Liv goes in and shuts the door after. Now, cat is out, Liv is in our room potentially doing damage to our computer or whatever. Luckily, Grace is locked out and complaining; there's our alarm. Get cat in, get Liv out; all is hermetically right with our world.

Now comes the full effect of the human/door/animal interactions of the house. The gate and the doors to the outside world pose the greatest challenges. Grace, the locksmith, has already proven herself many times with her Houdini like (lemme get with the times, Criss Angel-like) escapes. Her two latest accomplishments are using stepstools to get to the front door chain and discovering that there is a back door slider that is sometimes open. That on top of her ability to open the child proof gate and unlock doors and she is virtually unstoppable. Thank Gawd she hasn't discovered she fits through the cat door in the garage! So, in and out of house must include a lockup or a designated lockee for after we leave. Likewise, when someone comes in, the doorbell sounds and someone has to let 'em in. We USED to have the older three go through the back, but Grace is now a threat. Chain, lock or gate undone...BIG trouble for the non-do-er.

At night, we also have special challenges. Since Tim Allen resides in our house, the girls' door does not quite bolt (yea I'll get to moving that latchy thingy next weekend), so unless you close it JUUUUUST right, anyone can leave, and they do. Nothing like having Liv come in our room at 2 am and turn on and off and on and off the light. Or maybe she'll go in the living room and turn on the TV. How about she goes into the bathroom to start the great flood. Or Grace come quietly in the shadows of the room like a gremlin and squeeze in and begin reciting a Big Comfy Couch episode. WE HAVE A JAILBREAK...

I guess, looking at it from the 20,000 foot level, it ain't all that bad, it just seems at times all I do is worry about who's where and what are they doing behind closed doors...or outside of them.