Saturday, August 30, 2008

School Starting!...yippee..........

School starts Wednesday, and every night at some point, I lay and do my yearly worry session until it starts. I wonder if we've chosen the right situation for him (probably not this year), will he be safe, will he behave, will he decide to leave school and walk home and no one will know..... The list goes on and on.

Early last week we went to 5th grade orientation. He was excited to go in. It was for the whole school and when we got there a presentation was already in progress about the school rules, pick-up, etc.. Figuring he wouldn't sit for 2 minutes and listen, I decided to take him over by where I knew his classroom would be. Right away he spotted his new teachers sign and ran over. Luckily, his teacher Mrs. Murray was there that night, even though teachers were not required to be there. She greeted Casey warmly and allowed us to come in her room and have a look around. She was still in the process of getting things ready. He was so excited about being in there and did several "commercials" about his school year starting.

I asked her how many students she would have this year and she said just 4! I inquired as to who they were and when she told me, my heart sank a bit. They were kiddos I knew from Casey's other school, and without trying to sound snobby or too proud, all lower functioning and way less verbal than he. I suddenly recalled something my friend had told me Dr. Rick Solomon had said to her when she asked about her son's program and if it was good. He said as long as your happy with what your child is getting out of it and your child is not the highest functioning child, your doing well. Casey will be the highest functioning child in this room.

We have his IEP set up so that he gets time with regular ed too. But I still can't help but think this whole small class will not be beneficial for him. I guess it remains to be seen. We chose for him to be in the AI (Autistically Impaired) program, and what students are in it, are who are in it, no getting around that. I am just regretting now not taking that point into consideration while doing the IEP and rethinking things.

I guess at this point I just have to have a "glass half full" attitude and be glad that there are only 4, which may lend to more one on one attention. Also, maybe Case will enjoy being the big man on campus for a change. He is starting at a whole new school, so maybe this smaller class will lend to a little bit more "calmness" for the transition. Plus his new teacher is also a speech therapist and the same lady who defended us against his general ed. teacher at the time of our IEP and she didn't even know she was our teacher yet! So, it may turn out ok.

I'm certain there will be more to follow!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Friday, August 22, 2008

What's the Big Deal Ladies?

I have scads of stuff to write about don't feel like I have had adequate time enough to write one of my adequately written entries. But this same subject matter came up today whilst out and about and I thought I would write a "quickie".

We were at a popular fast food establishment today, when Casey of course announced he had to use the bathroom right as we situated ourselves at the table, food in hand. This wouldn't be frustrating if I had a typical 9 year old boy, I'd tell him "Go, and don't talk to strangers in there" having a feeling of confidence that he would go in, do what males do at the urinal, do what males do after they use the urinal, and return to lunch.

BUT, Casey is not a typical boy of 9, and there are many reasons that I can't let him go by himself, and especially not into a men's restroom. I will state them now in numercial order but not necessarily in order of importance:

1. Sometimes, he forgets to shut the door and lock it after he goes into the stall, and just starts using the toilet. That can be disturbing to walk in on.
2. If he were in a boy's room, and he would use a urinal, he would pull his pants down all the way, as he has yet to master the art of just letting what matters at the time hang out inconspiculously, or as inconspiculously as a guy should when he's peeing.
3. He lingers in the bathroom, sometimes touching things he shouldn't, talking to himself, doing toilet paper commercials. He needs prompting for sure to finish up and get out.
4. If for some reason he has to do more than no. 1, he needs help there to, there's just no getting around it right now, so I can't imagine what would occur if he did, and not one was there.
5. I don't even need to go into all the weirdos that could be in there.

Ok, now having said all this, I have to admit that the little bit of inconvenience it causes is really not a big problem when we're alone. My biggest problem with having to take him into the woman's room are the glares and looks that range from shock, to horror, to irritatingly so, surprise from the broads in the bathroom. They act as if a grown man walked in. They act offended, put off somehow. That happened today as we were going in, and some little old gal was scooting out. She literally huffed as we came in, despite the fact that she was done with her business in the bathroom. What did she care?

I get it ladies, I know, it's the Ladies Room. He's tall, he looks older, he looks like traditionally, he shouldn't be in a woman's bathroom. But, he also displays odd behaviour as I've gone over in past posts. He has a funny gate, he usually is holding his hands in a squeeze or by his ears, or by his junk if in fact he has to pee really bad. Doesn't that just give some women a clue that he might be someone who needs assistance?

And other than just that weird imaginary barrier that all of us have set up in our minds that boys don't go in the girls room and girls don't go in the boys room or we'll die, what is the big deal over me bringing him in? I have yet to spot nudity out in the open in the bathroom. I haven't had to cover his eyes as a woman comes out of a stall with pants still down or anything like that! I haven't caught him peeking under the partitions, and if I did, it would be stopped right then and there. He doesn't walk in on anyone, their doors are always tightly locked.

Could they be threatened while he is washing his hands and they are applying their liptsick, or fluffing their hair? Are they afraid that he might discover some secret privy only to the girl's room that must never get out to the male population? If so, I'm in the dark too on that one, which isn't unusual in general for me. I'm completely at a loss of acceptance for this behavior by my fellow women. I don't get it, and if I put myself in their place, I could honestly say that I would be much more understanding than many have been. I wanna scream out "He's not looking at you!!!! He needs help going to the bathroom! Get over yourself!".

So, other than bringing his dad along everywhere we go or adopting a big brother, I'm not sure this phenomenon will end as long as I have to take him to the john. I guess I have to give my self a time table for when I think it will be ok for him to go into the men's room on his own.

Ok, when he is at least 5'10, 150 lbs, and able to keep his butt in his pants while using the urinal. Whatever comes first. (Hopefully the butt thing!)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Camp A.B.L.E. Enables Emotion

Today was Casey's last day at his first summer at day camp. Camp A.B.L.E. is a summer day camp for kids 9 to 15 years of age with any kind of disability. We decided this summer he needed more interaction with kids and other adults, and, secondly, we needed daycare since I started full-time with my job.

Things started out good and in June, he seemed to like it. I was a little worried as the majority of the counselors, I discovered at the open house they had prior to the start, were reeeeeally young. They were in their very early twenties at the most. How could self centered twenty somethings ever be responsible enough to take care of such a group? I was a little skeptical. Luckily one of the counselors was a middle aged woman who had been a para in the school system for years. That had made me feel a little better.

But, my worries were for not. Other than the occasional missing towel, nothing seemed amiss and Casey seemed to want to go, and told me a little everyday afterwards about what they did. He always seemed pretty happy to see me when I got there. Probably because a)he never eats in such situations (ie school, camp, field trips) so he knows we'll go get him something, and b) I think sensory wise, the day is a lot for him, but in good way, like excercise is for the body.

They went on a lot of great field trips and on Tuesdays and Thursdays would stay at camp usually doing theme days such as "Birthday Day" and "Halloween Day" for example. And on those days they would travel to a nearby rec center to swim or play at the splash pad.

Needless to say, Casey was always pretty tired when he got home.

Today was the last day of the session, so the celebrated with a family picnic. It was really a treat to finally get to talk to all those young counselors. It was difficult to do so when dropping off and picking up because they were always busy with the kids. I learned that many of them, and not surprisingly so, are going to school for education, usually special ed, one social work, and another marketing (go figure, he gives up his whole summer for this). They all shared little tales about Casey which was cool and asked me why he didn't eat. I gave my usual schpeel and they seemed to understand although they had worried since he never ate what I sent. Casey moved about the crowd, high fiving some kids, actually giving an impromptu hug to another, and just having a good old time eating pizza and having his way with the dessert table.

We finally decided it was time to get going as I had a ton to do before our trip up North tomorrow. We said our goodbyes, gave our thanks and got in the car.

Before we even left the parking lot, Casey asked "Where's my dvd?" alluding to the dvd they made for everyone of photos from all the things they did. I assured I had it, and then he sorta sat and had a strange expression on his face. I asked what was wrong and he said "I'm feeling a little bit sad about leaving Camp A.B.L.E.".

I was floored, literally floored. Not only was he expressing his feelings, but he was doing it so very appropriately! I asked him if he wanted to go back and say goodbye again, and before I knew it, he bolted out his door and ran towards the group.

Everyone looked curiously at us, and I explained what he wanted to do. He ran up and gave four of the counselors hugs on his own. Once again, I was floored. A bit of a tear came to my eye, seeing my boy having such emotion and showing it. Once he was done hugging them, he turned around satisfied and got back in the car.

I followed him and did a last wave to the smiling group, and felt silly that I had ever doubted these great young adults......

Back in the car, Casey announced in his best announcer voice "Goodbye Camp A.B.L.E.! We'll see you next year!". Guess Summer '09 is planned!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

And the Award goes to.....

I am so behind and I just would like to thank "Bobbi" who is one of 5 regular readers and thankfully commenters on my blog for this lovely award, which is my first and probably only one! Thank you Bobbi for your nomination and I plan on posting it over there on the side at some point when I find out how. I would also like to access Bobbi's blog but can't for some reason or another. I hope this award wasn't based on skills, I mean, clearly, it wasn't! Thanks again! I'm honored.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Nine Cold, Hard Weight Loss Truths

I thought I would share this story as I found it interesting. It's nothing to do about Autism, but everything to do about something so many of us deal with daily otherwise. Sadly, I believe it all to be true, and have known all these facts in my heart despite my not doing much about it lately.....Ok, where are my Turbo Jam Dvds, they were here 3 months ago when I gave a crap.....
Losing weight ain’t that easy. It’s not in a pill, it doesn’t (usually) happen in thirty days, and judging from the myriad plans out there, there is no one diet that works for everyone. Looking past the outrageous claims, there are a few hard...

Fiesta de Tigres!

We had a beautiful night at the ballpark last night. The Tigers were playing the "A's" and it was "Fiesta de Tigre's" night, a night to celebrate all the Tiger players from Latin America. I had heard about it on TV and thought what a great night to take Casey, considering his high interest in Spanish at this point in time. Bill got online, got some tickets, and were good to go.

It rained of course on the way, hailing even, but I had a good feeling about the night. When we got there, a Mariachi band was playing and they handed out Venezuelan flags. The tarp was on the field but we had high hopes that it would be pulled off soon. Thankfully, I had purchased 3 umbrellas at the dollar store prior to going, just in case.

We walked the concourse 3 times since it wasn't time for the game to start, Mom and Dad enjoying an adult beverage while Case walked in front of us, oblivious to our watchful eye, arms swinging, taking it all in. I finally put his Ipod on him, so people might think he was walking to the music, not that I cared too much. I had to give it to him, it was a lot of stimuli, people passing, loud music, vendors calling out to passerbys. But he took it all in, and even seemed to enjoy it.

We finally got to our seats, pizza, pretzel and nachos in tow, only to find out there was a rain delay for half an hour. I had an inner panic attack, purely based on past experiences of bringing Case to games and his lack of patience and attention at them then. I used to bring a huge bag with a hand-held game, books, suckers, whatever it took to make him happy, and whatever it took for us not to have to get up a million times and make others in row get up to let us by, scowling all the while. But my panic was for not, as we were sitting pretty close to the huge score board which became an infinite realm of distraction for Casey. There are advertisements galore on it, changing constantly, and of course photos of the players as each come up to bat, accompanied by lots of dancey music! Usually this sort of stuff is not condoned at our house, but here, it seemed unavoidable and perfectly alright, lending itself to making every one's night enjoyable. I think the Ipod helped a lot too (used to be mine, but somehow I like it some much more on him). Best of all, we were at the end of the row, making the three trips to the bathroom and breaks much easier.

The game ended with a fireworks display. I couldn't help but think back years ago when we were at a similar situation and I spent the entire time in the bathroom with a terrified, screaming boy while everyone else enjoyed the fireworks. Now he sat, holding his ears a little but mostly bouncing up and down with excitement, gazing up at the beautiful colors, me gazing at the those colors shining off his sweet face. Life was good, living in and enjoying that moment. How the years do change things, and sometimes for the better.

And, the Tigers won!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Newstations and Protests=FUN!

If you are one of the 5 readers of my blog, then you know that Casey is a big fan of television stations. He even got to tour one in Indy when he visited. Now he has his sites set on a tour of one of our local stations. I won't go into it, but we have a connection and think it could happen, but not until September. If I were smart, I would never have told Casey this, because he has been asking me for a set date of when we are going to the station for days now, and I can't give him one yet!

Anyway, I promised him we would go down to this station which is in downtown Detroit and at least walk around. He of course took it as going in, but I kept telling him this would be a preview for his real tour. We made our way down easily, found a spot to park right in front and proceeded to explore the outside, and take some snapshots of him in front of the stations sign.

Suddenly, he sort of sprinted away and made his way to the front entrance, despite my cries not to, and went into the front doors. I was sprinting too at this point and followed suit. Inside a confused receptionist stared at us as Casey began making his way through the lobby which had an awards case, and various posters of the shows that are on that network. He was thrilled. As I was trying to explain to the kind lady what we were doing, we could see through the security glass the room where the weather forecasters work. Suddenly, much to Casey's delight, the afternoon weather guy walked out and Casey shouted "There's Eric so-in-so!". Luckily, I think the glass was sound proof or else I am certain security would have been called simply on the basis of the crime of yelling that had just occured.

Fearing that our "connection" would come out and think we were stalking him, I thanked the receptionist and swept Casey out of the building. As you can imagine, more yelling ensued, and not the happy sort. We got outside, and I settled him with a walk around the building.

He let me know how unhappy he was about not touring the studio TODAY and he wanted to know when were we going to go in September, blah blah blah. As we returned to the front of the building, we noted a group of college age kids sitting there. I checked the parking meter and with 40 minutes still available, decided we could sit out in front too for a little while and talk about the studio. Suddenly, these kids got up and started forming a line, and the "leader" began shouting "Say not to foreclosure!". Everyone followed suit and began walking in a giant circle in front of the studio.

Casey and I had suddenly become witnesses to an out and out protest march! It was very exciting for Casey, who saw it more as a big group of people walking around cheering rhytmically. He was sort of "stim" danceing along. I told him that this could be breaking news and maybe a reporter and camera crew would come out and talk to the people. Sadly, this never happened. But, one of the marchers, noting Casey's enthusiasm, asked if he would like to join the march! I sorta felt weird about letting him do it, but before I could say no, he was up and walking, arms swinging, shouting "Say no to foreclosure". He had a great time walking up and down the street with everyone. He had no idea what the hell it was all about, and frankly, I never really found out either, but he was really enjoying himself.

I figured this was a good way to let Casey learn what a protest was, especially since he got to participate. Sort of like having all the states memorized at 2 years old, it may not help him now, but perhaps having it in his memory bank will benefit him in some civics or history class, someday! And if nothing else, it was fun, weird fun, but fun! I guess it made up for no tour! I gotta get a date set for that.....

Monday, August 4, 2008

I Love It!

I have no idea how to embed this but you must check this out!

Those crazy Brits!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

"Brother" therapy, a New Approach

I would like to suggest to anyone who has an Autistic boy child who is an only child, to find a friend who happens to have a number of boys of her own, and hang out.

Case in point for me is my dear friend who I've known ever since our early Intervention Days with our sons at a shared preschool. She has 3 boys, one Aspie, quite intelligent and funny, and way too clever, 1 guy a year old than Casey, about the same level as Casey although much more advanced educationally speaking(but who is comparing), and her rough and tumble youngest who is cute as a button, and always full of fun.

She invited us over yesterday to swim in her lovely pool and we had a great time. Usually, everyone seems to be on their own as far as activities go, her eldest and youngest interacting the most, while Casey and her middle boy like to do their own thing. I have to confess we never tend to use these times together as a social skills excercise because we're usually too busy catching up and laughing. But yesterday was different.

First of all, there were a myriad of floating devices in the pool with us, one being a childs "Star Wars" theme float. There were several others that I could have used but were being dominated by various children. Trying not to disturb the masses, I decided that this little float could somehow support my butt, but getting on it was quite a feat. Everytime I tried, I flipped off in some manner, much to the delight of the whole crowd, including Casey, who rarely notices things like that. My friend's youngest offered that maybe I was too big to be on that float, which just added to the humor of the whole thing. Casey thought that was funny too.

After several failed attempts, I was simply holding on to the float once again engrossed in conversation when Casey came up and said "Get on that float again!". When I asked him why he said something to the effect that he wanted me to fall off so everyone could laugh again! I was stunned at his request and of course indulged him just because I was so happy he even asked. Once again I fell off, and he said "Mommy, I think you're too big for that float!". I was elated!

Later, when we were beginning the leaving ritual (he wanted to go, having computer on his mind), my friend's youngest and oldest blocked the ladder, making Casey give them a password to get by. He would come to me and I would whisper something to him, and he would swim back over to the "guards" and say it. He was of course never right, and would come back to get another password idea. This went on for quite some time until my friend got the password out of them and slyly passed it on. This lasted through 3 more password sessions.

It was really cool. Casey seemed frustrated, but at the same time, he enjoyed the game of it I think. And for me, I enjoyed it because he was simply interacting with the guys. It all made me briefly rethink and sort of condemn our decision to only have the one child. My friends middle boy gets this interaction all the time and for free! But like anything else, hindsight is 20/20, and luckily I have a short attention span and this thought didn't bother me for too long.

We rode home, he listening to Spanish radio, and me basking in the glow of a socially somewhat appropriate afternoon for me AND him!

PS: the above photo in no way depicts yesterday's activities, but it was the only photo I could quickly find of Casey swimming. The dog is pretty cute too....