Sunday, December 20, 2009


Well, Casey's Christmas vacation started off early and with a bang! But not a good bang.

Friday was his last day of school, and as anyone can recall, the Friday before Christmas is usually fun and not overly productive. Casey was looking forward to watching a Christmas video at the end of school with several classes. I'm sure snacks were to be involved. I was looking forward to shopping and spending as little time working as I possibly get by with, which is what I was doing when my phone rang.

It was school. I was hoping it was just his teacher calling to thank me for the gift I sent in. But the tone of her voice while greeting me made me ask "What happened?".

She proceeded to tell me how when he came into class that morning, one of the parapros told him to do something and he said something that sounds like "Pluck my Venus!". Yeah, it's what you're thinking! Yeah, that's bad.

I gasped, feigned shock, and just went back quickly in mind, trying to recall where the hell he had heard that line! Dad doesn't walk around saying it, out loud, and we are pretty cautious about what we watch on TV in front of him, and most things we watch wouldn't have that line in it! Only once place.... Internet.

His teacher then asks me what other things I think would be a good punishment. I told her I often tell him that he better watch his mouth at school because if he doesn't he'll have to go to the principle's office (a lot of good that did). I told her maybe a visit there might help. She agreed, but went on to say that she felt this sort of behavior should be punished at home as well. I agreed.

I went on to say, not taking any of the blame from him, I would also like them to find out what is causing him to act this way when he comes in. He has had a few incidences in the morning but nothing this bad. But there is something causing him to be, well, belligerent in the morning, and you would have thought they might have tried to figure this out themselves. She said they would research it after the holidays.

In the meantime, she let me know that I should do something at home to punish him as well. Thanks for the suggestion... pfffff. Usually, I sorta feel like what happens in school should be punished at school. I guess she was right, but boy, getting all your fun taken away on the last day before vacation sure seems punishment enough to me, considering they hadn't really tried to help the initial problem with mornings to begin with.

So, I said something about taking computer away for the day when he got home. I could feel her waiting on the end of the line, and I felt pressured to say "or the weekend!?". She felt that was sufficient. Okay.

About 20 minutes later, she called again. She told me they had taken him to the office, much to his chagrin, and that when the principle found out about all that happened decided he would have a half day in-school suspension, and then was to be picked up and taken home!

Wait a minute! Wait one darn minute! I meant for the whole Principal dealie to be sort of a "scared straight" scenario!!!!! I didn't mean for it to be a life altering experience that would leave a stain on his record! Geeze o' peete! She said I needed to come get him after his suspension.

A bit exasperated at this point and not feeling like getting into a big "thing" on this day, I asked "What time?".

His Dad and I decided we would take computer away, at least Friday and Saturday and keep things low key, not a lot of outings, but a lot of talk about why he lost his favorite privilege in the whole world.

This story could go on and on, but to shorten an already long post, I'll finish up by saying, I got him, he seemed ashamed. He cried when he found out he lost his computer. Friday was rough, Saturday was better after some visuals were provided explaining why and what for. And quite honestly, it was pleasant to have his full attention and watch him do some things that he doesn't usually pursue, ie Wii and a few toys.

I know his saying such an offensive and sexual line was bad. I know that. Coming from the perspective that I don't want him to get suspended again, fired from a job, or worse yet, arrested someday, for saying such offensive stuff, I realize this is something that we need to get him to know he just can't do. But at the same time, I kinda feel like this could have been better handled in school. I think that if he had stayed, and had to sit in the "team" room during the festivities, knowing he was missing them, he would have realized that what he had done was so wrong! I think that would have worked much better than coming home and laying around all afternoon in his comfy room.

So in the grand scheme of things, such occurrences may take a village to resolve, but somehow, this side of the village seemed to get the brunt of that job!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Credit Cards.... So Easy, Even Autistic Kids Can Use 'Em!

So, I'm talking to my sister today about how Casey wants a subscription to an online gaming site. It's 25.95 for 3 months. A perfect gift I decided, from his grandparents, who give us money each year to get him something because he is so very hard to buy for.

More discussion ensues, when suddenly Casey comes up behind me and says "It's confirmed!"

"What's confirmed Bud?" I ask innocently.

"My subscription has been confirmed." he replies innocently.

"Hold on Cheryl!" I say laying the phone down, a feeling of panic taking over.

I run into the kitchen to look at the laptop, Casey padding behind me.

On the screen I read "Your Nick Jr. Boost Subscription has been confirmed."

Quickly, I try to page back, only to find that he filled out all the info needed to send the subscription as a gift perfectly, making the recipient and the sender himself, but otherwise, perfectly. Still panicking, I couldn't see anywhere that he put in credit card info.

"Casey," I called calmly, "what number did you use to confirm your subscription?".

"From the card."

"What card?"

"Dat one." he replies, not pointing, not helpful.

"Which one?"

"The Mastercard."

"Did you have the number memorized Case?" I ask, still not seeing a card.

"No, the Citibank Card." his cadence taking on that of Dustin Hoffman's Rainman.

Suddenly, I notice my credit card laying off to the side of the computer, as if lightly flung after it's use was rendered. My eyes shoot over to my wallet laying open, the spot where that card calls home glaringly empty. The perfect crime scene.

I grab the phone, almost forgetting that Cheryl was waiting there, listening to the whole thing.

"Did you hear that?" I ask her.

"I believe a social story is in order!" she says with official Occupational Therapist confidence (because she is).

"Yeah..." I answer, still amazed that he was able to put in enough information from my card to confirm his subscription.

Yeah, a social story is in order, and a lock box for our credit cards!

Oh my, the possibilities!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Splish Splash Casey's Takin' a Bath.... in the Morn, and it's Good!

A marvelous thing has occurred at our house on school mornings! It has become pleasant! Yes, pleasant! No more screaming, no more having to tell him 45 times to come and eat. No more boy sitting and kicking the wall under the breakfast bar singing not so sweetly "Little little assholes!"....ahhhh, yes, more pleasant.

It all started one morning after being completely exhausted the night before, and not having the drive to mess with a whole shower thing. I decided a shower for Casey in the morning wouldn't be the end of the world (although the thought of the days bodily grossness on his sheets was on my mind). And so, that morning, I told him to get in the shower after a nights rest and strength had been restored. He asked if he could take a bath and since I was still fiddling around with my morning primping, I said okay. He burst into the bathroom, took off his jammies and hopped in before the tub was full. The rest of the morning went smoothly. And I didn't connect anything, thinking it was just one of those rare and lucky days that everything wasn't a big clusterf^&*.

So, the next morning, despite a shower the night before (still thinking about the days grime, despite that mornings bathing), he actually requested another bath. Finding it odd, I allowed for it, and again, a pleasant morning ensued.

This pleasantness isn't just quiet, this is beyond that. I can actually get the boy out of bed with the sound of the bath water running and a silly song about Prince Casey's bath being drawn. He leaps out of bed, strips and sits calmly in the tub for a good 20 minutes. This is awesome, because before, getting him up was quite a challenge, with a lot of threats and cussing on both our parts.

Oddly, this bath routine has now blossomed into a whole routine, and one that needs no prompting. He gets out, dresses himself (something I was helping him way too much with pre morning bath because we were usually running late), and then he makes his way to the kitchen to nibble on some breakfast. Again, NO PROMPTING! This is huge! On top of all that, his teacher has mentioned he has had excellent days, and getting him to get ready for the bus and transitioning is no big deal anymore.

Why and how does a simple bath realign the planets and make pigs fly? Why did it take so frickin long for this to happen? Why, when I take showers every morning, had it not occurred to me that this might be good for Casey as well? Who the hell knows... trial and error, trial and error.

Whatever, it's workin' now, clean sheets be damned!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Viva La Dora!

I know, Dora the Explorer? Am I really going to blog about Dora the Explorer, that annoying little Nick Jr. gal with the nasal voice, who asks way too many questions, has a much bigger head than all the other characters, and has a best friend as a monkey? As a matter of fact, I am.

Lately, Casey has taken a real shine to Nick Jr., formerly the Noggin channel (don't even get him started on the name change, that's a whole other entry). He actually sits and watches and pays attention to the shows they have on, despite the fact that they are made for preschoolers.

Dora, being one of those shows, was one that he has watched on and off over the years. But lately, I've noted a whole new awareness on his part as to what Dora is really all about. It's a very participatory children's program, with Dora and the other characters stating facts and then asking about them later, requiring the viewer to, in each episode, remember what landmarks Dora has to go to in her adventures, where items are on the screen, etc.

I have caught him several times answering Dora's questions, and doing so correctly, or I'll here him go "There it is!". Casey's participating! He's making conversation, albeit seemingly one sided (not in his head I'm guessin'). He's thinking, he using his rationalization skills, comprehension skills.... all the cool stuff! Heck, he's even pointing at things on the screen from time to time. I would have given my left arm to see that oh so many years ago when he was supposed to be pointing!

Would I've liked to have seen such participation eight years ago, when he was just a little tot, and it was more socially appropriate for him to be watching and reacting to Dora? Of course! But, as anyone who has a kid in their life with Autism knows, milestones form a completely uneven path in our world, but they come, scattered here and there.

And personally, I am proud to be there whenever he gets to one of those milestones, no matter how long they take or however far apart they are!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A "Flash" of Self Control

So many things have occurred since my entry of October 28Th. The very thought of trying to share so much stuff makes my brain hurt, seriously. In the interest of keeping my mind in tact for my upcoming meeting with my boss today, I think I'll focus simply on one new phenomenon that reared it's ugly head in the past couple of months.

I've been inspired by Kristina Chew's account of her son's encounters with dogs and his wonderful way of dealing with creatures who have struck fear in his heart for sometime. In our case, Casey's "dog" is a camera flash. Camera flashes now cause a total freak out reaction for Case.

I theorize that it all started during a recent photo session at school for class pictures. Apparently, instead of his little class having their time with the photographer alone, they were grouped with a hoard of other students getting their photos taken in a assembly line fashion, flashes going off every few seconds. The noise, the chaos, and the flashes really made it's impression on Casey. I guess when he couldn't take it any longer, he shouted "This is crap on a plate!" and ran out of the room and down the hall. Later on that day, he actually told his teacher he was ready to get his picture taken, and he did well. But since then, flashes have been a major ish for Casey.

And oddly, it seems with this new issue, comes more people taking pictures wherever we seem to be. Or maybe, we are now more aware of people taking pictures, especially whenever a flash goes off and he screeches and if able, tries to take the camera from the photographer at hand! He even reacted to the camera flashes in the stadium at the World Series on television! Much screaming of "Turn off the TV!" commenced during the games.

Recently we were at a restaurant where the seating was close, the area small, and everyone around us seemed to be taking photos of each other. And with the bad lighting, the flashes more extreme. Each time, Casey would screech "oh no!" each time, and his voice is no longer soft let's say. It was getting ridiculous really (along with the irritation of trying to find a damn outlet to plug in his stupid DVD player whose battery wasn't charged like I thought), so, I got into my WWCD mode (What would Cheryl do, my Occupational Therapist sister, who always seems to have a good idea on how to deal with situations) and dug through our goody bag. I found a pair of 3-D glasses used earlier at the movie theater and told him to put them on and it would protect his eyes.

Along with this I also told him, not in no many words, to be proactive and watch the people who have been taking photos, and when you see them raise their camera, look away. Do what he had to do, pretty cut and dry.

And it worked, he was really watching out for himself, burying his head in my arm before a flash went off, and was quiet and it was nice. He was self empowered, and it made me think how this issue of self empowerment will be so, well, powerful, as he grows up and more of these eccentric, if you will, behaviors come up.

Having said all this, Dad on the other hand, really knew nothing of his new empowerment. It didn't really come up as he wasn't with us that night. And so, who knew that some irritating parent would be snapping photos at a recent Dad and son event at school last Friday night. Casey's new skills didn't carry over and he was very upset. Bill tried to explain to the parent about Casey's aversion, but she was still around taking photos of other kids and it still bothered him.

Lesson learned, assume there is going to be cameras where ever we go, carry the magic 3D glasses, and Mom and Dad need to get in sync on how to help Casey empower himself, and never assume he can necessarily do it on his own....yet!