Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thursday Thankfulness

Asperger's, autism, awards, birthday, eczema, music, school, spring, thankfulness
Sorry about being MIA so much. There's been a lot to do with birthday preparations and nice weather and spring cleaning. Fortunately, there have been some things to be thankful for this week, like:

  1. 1. I am thankful that Gus earned an academic achievement award from school for the third quarter! And he did pretty well at the assembly when he went up to receive it. And his music teacher gave him a respect award as well.
  2. I am thankful that Gus is learning to read music at school. I remember music class as a kid and it never involved learning a single notation. We just sang. Now, Gus is learning to play the recorder and he's telling me notes by sight already. It's a skill that every kid really should have access to and I'm glad he's enjoying it.
  3. I am thankful for the little taste of summer we got last week! Not many people enjoy such hot weather, but for me it was indescribably great to not have to wear layers or socks or anything heavy. And now I'm equally glad for the milder temps were getting again, mostly for Gus's sake because of those eczema flareups (which magically went away when it dropped to 60 degrees).
So, what are you thankful for today? Sorry to be so brief, but Gus's bedroom is going to be the next spring cleaning, recipient. Hey! I'm thankful that Gus is the one member of this family who doesn't get upset over getting rid of things!

Have a great day!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Manic Monday: Warm

Asperger's, autism, blogs, childrens theater, Manic Monday, memes, outings,
I'm late today with my Manic Monday meme because I was out for a lot of the day enjoying the continued warm weather with my kids, but that's not what today's post is about. Yesterday, we did the smartest thing we could do when the temperature bypasses warm and jumps straight to summertime-hot: we went to the children's theater!

Gus has been showing a great deal of interest lately in plays, drama, the theater, and especially comedy. He had passed by a sign about a week ago for a production of Robin Hood and got very excited. So, a hot day is a good day to be in an air-conditioned auditorium, I always say!

This play was a little longer than the last production we went to see, but both kids did reasonably well. The only real 'incident' (if you can even call it that) was at the very end of the play. The cast exited the stage into the audience. As one character proceeded up the aisle, Gus shouted, "Take off that ridiculous costume!" He shouted a comment to another actor - something about wearing laundry detergent on his head. He was trying to be funny, not mean, but we had to have a talk about heckling and how he wouldn't like it if someone did that to him if he was doing a comedy show. Not sure if he really got it.

All in all, a good, cool day.

Happy Monday and hope you're not feeling too warm!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Hot Soccer

Asperger's, autism, eczema, memes, outings, Pokemon, sleep, special needs, sports, Manic Monday, soccerYesterday I got to take Gus to his soccer game! It was awesome, in large part because we had an almost 90 degree day yesterday, so in the morning, the temperature was perfect for hanging out watching a game. I saw some of his teammates from the fall season and a couple of additions. And apparently there is now a special needs cheering squad! Way to go girls! They were too cute!

Gus had to take several water breaks, but he did very well during his field time. They did a drill that involved zig-zagging through some cones and then dribbling in the same pattern. I'm not sure I could have done it without hitting any. But he did it and later made 3 goals.

Gus taking a little break on the field.

In the afternoon, we thought we'd go for a hike up the Appalachian trail and then maybe spend some time at the playground. First, 90+ degrees is only good hiking weather during the actual summer (not this prank summer we're currently experiencing) after the trees have bloomed completely. We figured the trail is normally nice and shady. We're normally on the trail in July, not April. So the hike was quite short. We lasted longer at the nearby playground because the kids found some nice shady spots to hang out in. What did they care that we had to share a 2 foot by 8 inch patch of shade between the two of us?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about the heat. If it decided to stay this warm through the end of the summer, I'd be a happy woman! Gus on the other hand...heat and the resulting eczema are not really his friends. He was up in the middle of the night, which I suspect was also related to the heat, but he insists he was doing research on Pokemon steel types. Makes perfect sense to do that kind of research at night - they might have melted in the intense daytime heat, right?

It was a lovely, laid back Saturday, and if I can get my act together, tomorrow I'll post about how we managed to beat the intense warm weather for Manic Monday!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Funny Boy

humor, jokes, allergies, eczema, Gus speaks,
Gus asked about his allergies and eczema last night. In the process of explaining exactly how each affects him so that he wouldn't worry (the anxiety was very evidently building) I forgot my good grammar skills and this is what came out of it:

"Every season, your allergies just make you a little itchy and runny and stuffy and cough-y..."

"Coffee? I'm too young for coffee!"

He then exploded into giggles. I've got a real wise guy on my hands. I love it!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thursday Thankfulness and Tomato Plant Update

ADHD, Asperger's, autism, family, homework, IEP, nature, sensory integration disorder, spring, thankfulness, childrens theater, gardening, Bright Hub
I can't believe it's already Thursday! As the weather gets warmer, time seems to speed up - why is that? Anyway, on to thankfulness!

Today I am thankful for:

  1. New furniture that my in-laws have so generously given us. Gus is particularly fond of the new club chairs that he can curl up in and get lots of sensory input apparently. Hopefully, the arms of the chair are strong enough to withstand his affection. The new dining table is large enough that I can sit right next to him during homework without feeling squished. The proximity is good for him; the space is good for me. Win-win situation all around.
  2. I am thankful that my kids are so environmentally conscious! MM wanted to do a neighborhood clean-up for Earth Day, so we got our gloves and bags and cleaned up the the rain...massive allergy attack followed.... But it was well worth it! Nature seems to be very soothing to many kids on the autism spectrum or with ADHD. I recently published an article at Bright Hub about a study that showed how a 20 minute nature walk increased the ability to focus. So, if protecting this precious resource has the added effect of making homework easier, I'll do it, even if it means having my head feeling like a balloon.
  3. I am thankful that tomorrow is Friday and it's supposed to be a beautiful day. If it dries out enough I might be able to breathe! The down side of warm weather is that Gus's allergies and eczema seem to be causing more sensory-seeking than normal. But I think, like me, he'll take it over being cooped up in cold weather. We're just going to have to stock up on allergy medication!
  4. And a bonus since I seem to have missed last Thursday: I am thankful that both my kids got stellar report cards and Gus is finally showing some progress in his IEP goals! It was getting a little depressing seeing the No-Progress marks. They have gotten the High School Musical 3 DVD as a reward and we'll be taking them to see a children's theater performance of Robin Hood over the weekend.
Oh! And the tomato plant seems to be rallying slowly but surely! The second shoot is greener and seems to be growing a little. So, I'm grateful for that too! What are you thankful for today? Please share in a comment!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Manic Monday: Plant

Prompt by Mo at Manic Monday

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that Gus and I had gone to Lowe's to buy some gardening supplies. We planted an indoor garden of arugula, tomatoes, basil, parsley and some mixed flowers. It took a while for the tomato plant to sprout, but finally, we saw a little seedling about an inch long. I put in a wood stake for it. We were all very excited because we had started to think that we would have to start over. Well, someone got a little too excited.

Yesterday, I was upstairs putting away laundry when I heard Gus saying something like, "It will grow back," to MM. I felt a pang of panic go through me, but there was no screaming or crying, so I kept at my task. Less than a minute later, MM trudged up the stairs with something in her hand.


"Ugh," was the first thought my brain was able to form, followed by, "What now?"


Here is the "what now"

Asperger's, autism, gardening, Manic Monday, memes, blogs, nature, mistakesInside the red circle is what remains of our tomato seedling. Gus plucked off the top half of it because he, "wanted to see if it would magically grow." Damn that Jack and the Beanstalk. One of these days I will learn to anticipate what my little Aspie's brain is going to come up with next. In the meantime, only supervised visits to the garden area.

We're hoping the plant is tough enough to recover. Gus still insists it will grow back. We'll see. I've given the plant some Reiki, and I think that will help. If anyone has tomato or gardening expertise, any advice would be greatly appreciated. To be continued...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Soccer Opening Day and The Birthday Playdate

Asperger's, autism, friends, nature, nice kids, social events, birthday

image from Wikimedia Commons by Nancy Heise

I've been MIA for several days mostly due to errands that forced me out of the house, nice weather and birthday stuff. I will now have a reprieve for about a week before the next round of birthday planning for MM's High School Musical un-party. (When you don't invite all the neighborhood kids, you really can't call it a party or else there will be trouble.) Three mini-celebrations done, Gus is now officially 8 and I'm wiped out! But here's an update:

Gus had his first school friend over to celebrate his birthday, which I had mentioned in my April 12th post. It turned out that only one boy came with his dad, but it was a very nice time, and probably worked out better than if both boys had come over.

In the morning, Gus started the spring soccer season, which I unfortunately missed in order to clean up (including the patio which was then discovered to be unusable because of bees - just my luck). I baked a cake, Gus got home with just enough time to change when our guests arrived right on time. This friend is not into video games (except train simulators) so the kids played a board game instead. At that point, Gus was engaged and interacting. They were all having a great time. Then I went to pick up pizza and we all sat down to eat. That was about the time that Gus went into his zone.

I think he must have just been tired, but he started trying to watch television (which we didn't allow) and became pretty laconic. Thankfully, MM stayed home instead of going to do the girl scout cookie booth with her troop. She gave E. the tour of the house and we learned that he likes fans. He was particularly entertained by the ceiling fan with the remote control. But since it was such a nice day, E. really wanted to be outdoors. We all went for a hike.

We offered to show E. and his dad the lake and DH proceeded to lead us up a wooded path that he and Gus like to take to get to our lake. I would have opted for the road, but DH didn't realize that although E. is more adept at expression and social skills, Gus is a little more agile and capable with gross motor activities like climbing and bike riding. Although he has low muscle tone (mushy muscles), poor coordination and fine motor skills, he's still something like a little billy goat when it comes to getting up and down those steep, slippery hills. Fortunately, E. and his dad enjoyed the challenge (Dad is an outdoorsy type and clearly liked the opportunity to push his son a little) and the lake was calm and absolutely gorgeous. E.'s dad tried to teach everyone to skip stones, then we trekked back through a different wooded path (I insisted on the flat path) back home for cake.

E., bless his heart, doesn't like sweets, but he was happy about a steady supply of pretzels that we had on hand. He did ask to try a piece of cake to be polite. Such a sweetheart! After a couple of hours, they left, but I think they enjoyed the laid back time they spent with us. We invited them back to go swimming over the summer, and they mentioned possibly having Gus go visit at their house. I'd call the day a success even with Gus kind of petering out. Next time, we'll have to arrange his activities when he doesn't have soccer practice.

We took a little rest and then dragged Gus back out to the yard (away from the patio and its new inhabitants) where MM made him run several relay races. But soon after he was truly done and he went back in. Everyone slept quite well last night! And as soon as DH gets back from food shopping, we're going back out, this time to hike one of the rail trails.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Robots for Autism?

autism, difference, doctors, robots, Today show, videoimage from Wikimedia commons

My mother-in-law pointed me to the Today show this morning as they were airing a story on the use of robots to help autistic children develop social skills. I can certainly see some exciting applications here. The kids in the studies seemed to show a significant increase in interactions when working with the robots. But then I heard words like, "humanoid robots" and one engineer spoke about robots that could understand how the child was feeling (to a whopping 80% accuracy) by hooking the child up to certain types of sensors. I'm sure I've been watching too many movies, but smart computers always make me think of Terminator or Artificial Intelligence: AI, both great movies, but scary in terms of technology going a little too far.

I'm on the fence right now, but I'll let you determine what you think for yourself:

I'm further wondering what happens to the kids on the spectrum who have no interest in electronics or robots? Also, I think the statement that got under my skin the most was toward the end when Nancy Snyderman commented that for kids who are on the higher functioning end of the spectrum, the use of these robots "may be the key to get a child mainstreamed." I wonder when we are going to accept these individuals as different and stop insisting that they behave like everyone else? Is it so much to ask that society meet them at least halfway?

Does it sound like robots might be incredibly useful in helping autistic kids to express their needs and feelings so that others can more understand them? Sure, and I think that would be a great thing. But it doesn't seem that these technological advances will do much to help autistics gain acceptance as they are. It seems to me like more squeezing the round peg into the square hole, just with more refined tools.

I'm quite internally divided over this and I will readily admit that I may be overreacting to this story. Is this extensive use of robotics a good thing for people with autism? What do you think?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy (Almost) Birthday

Asperger's, autism, friends, Pokemon, sports, soccer, birthdays, social eventsimage from Webweavers Free Clip Art

We had an early birthday celebration for Gus yesterday; nothing big, just my friend (who I also refer to interchangeably as my cousin) and her two younger sons. Her middle son is the same age as Gus and they both, ironically, are on the autism spectrum. We often try to get them together, but they usually sort of orbit each other, absorbed in their own private little galaxies.

A couple of weeks ago they were hanging out together and the youngest son's party. We were optimistic that if we provided a steady stream of video games, they'd actually play together. What fun! MM and the youngest son camped out with all the Pokemon toys and the Legos and played nicely all afternoon. Gus and A. did in fact play together as well! Win!

A is a little better at a game Gus just started playing, so at first he played alone and Gus cheered him on, excited to see how to beat the level. They stopped that game for a while and then we had cupcakes - organic apple cinnamon with homemade caramel frosting. (The frosting didn't work out so well this time, but it tasted like sugar so it got eaten - nice how that works out. Maybe next time, I'll just skip the work and go with straight sugar.)

After cupcakes, DH set them up to play a cooperative Mario game. We were a little concerned about fighting since they both tend to be very self-directed and think they're in charge (except when MM steps in - then everyone knows she's in charge). When we heard shrieks, all the adults jumped up to see what was going on. No conflict - just really involved in the game. After a while, they were both jumping up and down, laughing and having a grand time. These guys have known each other their whole lives, but after 8 years, they are finally becoming something like friends. How awesome is that?

Next weekend, we're hoping for part 2 of the birthday celebration with a couple of boys from Gus's class. I haven't heard from the parents, so I don't know if they are actually coming. I hope they do. If not, I'm not sure who will be more disappointed: Gus or me. As much as he seems to avoid interacting with other kids, it's becoming apparent that he wants to. So we've got to get him as many opportunities to do that as possible.

Thankfully, soccer is also starting next weekend, so he'll get to socialize a little then, too.

Do you seek out ways for your autistic child to socialize? What's worked for you?

Happy Easter!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Lack of Empathy?

Asperger's, autism, empathy, family, random acts of kindness
It is commonly said that people with autism or Asperger's lack empathy for others. I disagree. This strikes me as an oversimplification. I know of many cases of Autistics or Aspies showing empathy and/or concern for the people who are important to them. If they don't show empathy for strangers, well, I can point to many people without diagnoses who do that. Just look at the number of people who walk by the homeless as if they are ghosts.

As I write this I have one of the worst headaches I've had in a long while. I've had to keep my right eye closed for much of the afternoon and evening - that seems to help, along with sitting still and not bending. Migraine, sinus headache, eye strain? Who knows? I don't really care. The point is it hurts like a mutha.

After his bath, Gus was a little energetic and climbing on me as usual. I normally don't mind, but 'noggins' (soft head-butts) and having him generally anywhere near my face was just painful. So I said, "Mommy has a headache and I need you to be still."

He grabbed the sides of my face, gently and laid my head against his chest. That was unexpected, but very sweet. Then he kissed the top of my head and stroked my hair. Yes, he really did. Empathy, compassion, care giving...and I could see him doing the same for his sister or father or grandparents or aunts, uncles, cousins....

He may not kiss a stranger on the street on the top of their head, but he would notice a homeless person in the street as a person and not a ghost. Makes you wonder about the definitions or these 'criteria' and 'symptoms.'

Speaking of symptoms, I should probably go and close my eyes. Have a great night and a great holiday if you celebrate one!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Thursday Thankfulness

Asperger's, autism, empathy, gardening, joy, music, nature, outings, random acts of kindness, singing, thankfulness
I'm very late posting today because it's been incredibly busy and satisfyingly productive.

Today I am thankful for...

...the nice gentleman in the parking lot of Lowe's hardware store for helping me lift a 75lb. box that I would have hurt myself moving on my own. For that matter, I'm thankful for the Lowe's employee who helped me get it into my cart. Gotta love those random acts of kindness. Gus and I had a fun expedition today - he seems to enjoy hardware stores. We bought shelving for our kitchen, and a bunch of gardening supplies to plant an indoor garden! Right now we've got basil, parsley and some assorted flowers growing. Today we planted tomatoes and arugula. That was after putting together the shelving. I said it was a busy day...

...having two kids who have a real empathy for and love of nature. They love the outdoors and MM in particular enjoys gardening and flowers. I have a strong feeling that knowing how to grow food and thinking in terms of what is good for the planet will be very useful for them in the future.

...having two kids who love to sing and to laugh. I'm also happy that Gus and I share some musical tastes. On our way to the store earlier we had a great time jammin' to Earth, Wind & Fire. Seriously, the two best sounds in the world are kids singing and kids giggling. It's because those are generally sounds of joy. Gus often wakes up laughing - I can hear him from across the hall. MM bursts into song all the time. How could anyone not appreciate that?

Your gratitude below, please! And since today is almost over, have an awesome Friday!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Ritualistic Behaviors and Genetics

Asperger's, autism, difference, family, obsessions, quirks, sleep, stimming, ritualistic behaviors, geneticsimage from Wikimedia Commons

God (or Goddess or who or whatever you believe is calling the shots) has a sense of humor. I am convinced of this for many reasons, but today I think it is because when Gus was being formed in my tummy, God decided to take every quirk - from me, my husband, my parents, his parents, even our cats - and pile them into the boy who became known as Gus. No wonder the kid wakes up so often in a giggling fit - it's pretty amusing. We've got to be the poster people for why autism is a mainly genetic condition. I think we could also make a pretty good case for how some of the behaviors that are considered to be 'odd' in people with autism, may be more normal than the typically developed world wants to admit. If I had a dollar for each of the stimming behaviors I've seen in 'typically developed' people...well, I've never actually had such a large sum of money to handle, but I'll bet I could do a lot. Maybe pay off the national debt.

One of the things I seem to have in common with Gus is a reliance on rituals. Ritualistic behaviors - following the same patterns without deviation - are common to people with autism. But I think to a certain degree, they may not be all that uncommon to people without the autism diagnosis. I suppose it's all a matter of relativity and degree, like everything else.

When Gus was a baby we lived in a 2 story building at the back of a U-shaped courtyard. It was a pain when we had to lug groceries or laundry down the long walkway, but it turned out to be a huge boon once Gus was mobile since he had a long way to run before he could reach the road. Every time we went out, he'd take off down the path. But he didn't go straight into the road; there was a mammoth tree if he veered to the left a little, which he almost always did. Down the path, around the tree...One day, after MM was born (so I was significantly slowed with an infant) Gus snuck out of the apartment, out of the building and down the path wearing nothing but a diaper. By the time I caught up, I was frantic (he is frighteningly fast when he wants to be). But my neighbor had snagged him. He was sitting very calmly under his tree. If he ever varied his pattern, I can count the number of times on one hand. We lived there until he was 5 - that's a long time to repeat a ritual.

I also have some rituals that some people might consider strange. The one that got me on this train of thought was the way I prepare my tea. I drink a lot of tea and I am very particular with the way it's made. I tend to use the same mug because the size of the mug is important - it affects the amount of tea, sugar, lemon and water needed. I must have the precise amount of sugar - 1 teaspoon plus one packet of Stevia - and a sliver of lemon (about half an inch thick). I use loose tea, so since my mug is 16 oz. I use 2 teaspoons, and yes, I measure with an actual measuring spoon that I have only for measuring my tea. The sugar, Stevia and lemon (in that order almost always) go in the mug first. The only time I add these things after the water is when I go to a diner because they are deviant and always insist on bringing me a mug of water instead of just a pot of water and an empty mug so I can make my tea properly! I try not to be bitter about it. Back when I used tea bags, I used to let my tea sit for a long time before drinking it because I don't like it too hot. Now I set a timer because I learned I was over-steeping my tea. See? I can be flexible about this. But not much.

The point is that if my tea is not made just so, I may not be thrilled with it, it may dampen the experience for me, but I can drink it without getting too upset. When Gus's current routine of watching Arthur the minute he walks through the door is changed (like it was during pledge time for PBS) he gets very upset. And therein lies the distinction. It's all a matter of degrees.

Sometimes these rituals are useful. Our bedtime ritual makes it possible for Gus to go to sleep very easily. But if we deviate from the ritual, it can be a problem. I used to teach an evening yoga class on Monday nights. Every Monday night, DH would have a hard time getting Gus to go to bed because he spent a long time getting up to look for me. Double edged blades those rituals. They help me to remember things that my overextended brain would otherwise forget, Unfortunately, if I alter the routine at all I can really screw myself up.

Last week it was a nice day and I changed my normal pattern by going for a bike ride in the middle of the afternoon before I had to pick up my neighbor's daughter and then Gus. Usually I don't leave the house at that time because I generally chain myself to my computer screen. Everything was fine - I got back from my ride in plenty of time to put my bike away, grab a quick drink of water, put my keys and ID away, lock up and head out to the bus stop. Did you catch that? Good for you because I didn't until I reached in my pocket and realized that the keys were still hanging on the hook and I was locked out. Yeah, changing the pattern is not usually a good thing for me.

Some people think that the ritualistic behaviors should be stopped. While there is certainly something to be said for helping your autistic child gain some flexibility, I think that as long as they are not infringing on anyone else, they're probably okay. Many people have their little rituals. So the autistic person may just have more of them or be more intensely attached to them.

So why did tea lead me to a discussion of ritualistic behavior? Well, my routine is totally off right now because the kids are home on break. And Gus had a nightmare and woke me up last night, so I'm also a little more tired than usual (and clearly into making lots of excuses for myself). So I began my tea ritual and then got distracted by getting the kids orange juice. The water boiled, I grabbed my teaspoon and dumped the first scoop of loose tea...right into the cup. I forgot the strainer. It wouldn't have been a problem if there wasn't all that sugar, Stevia and lemon juice at the bottom of the cup. Okay, sometimes the rituals don't really work out.

Do you see any of your autistic child's behaviors in yourself? Do either of you have any amusing rituals you follow?

P.S. This post may be a little rambling and distracted, but I'm posting it anyway. Why? Because posting to this blog is another one of my rituals! Have a great day!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

AMC’s Sensory Friendly Films and Monsters vs. Aliens

Asperger's, autism, crowds, noise sensitivity, outings, sensory integration disorder, sensory issues, movie reviews, sensory friendly films, Monsters vs Aliens, Autism Society of America, AMC theaters

Image borrowed according to fair use from Paramount Pictures

A while back it came to my attention that some theaters offered what they called sensory friendly films, but at the time I didn't pay much attention to it. We've only taken our kids to the movies very rarely, mostly because there aren't that many movies we've been interested for them to see. But Monsters vs. Aliens looked a little too good to pass up. We decided to try to take them, but we were concerned about loud explosions bothering both kids, not just Gus. They seemed so excited to see the movie that I decided to do a little research.

It turns out that AMC Theaters partnered with the Autism Society of America to offer these sensory friendly films for kids on the autism spectrum. The films are shown at certain times of the month at select participating theaters. If there isn't a participating theater nearby, you can contact AMC – they might try to change that. The nearest theater to us was about an hour and a half away, near my sister, so we made a day of it. We packed the kids up early in the morning, went out for a big breakfast, and then met my sister and nephew for lunch after the movie.

So modifications did the theater offer? We got lucky that we called for the schedule when we did because this theater offers the accommodations the first Saturday of every month at the first showing. This is beneficial for two reasons: no crowds and matinee rates (we always prefer to pay matinee rates in case Gus doesn't make it through the entire movie). Once the movie started, the lights went down, but not to total darkness. And the best part - which made the movie more enjoyable even for me – the sound was turned down. It was great! The movie was not shown in 3D, which I was grateful for because I was worried about it being too overwhelming for Gus. He got a little fidgety, but not to the extent that he wanted to leave; he just needed to move. No one complained about his movement or when he made comments to the screen. The last time he watched an entire movie in the theater was probably when we went to see Curious George 3 years ago. It was a very nice time.

Was Monsters vs. Aliens worth the 3 hours round trip that we spent in the car? Totally worth it! I've come to have a high level of trust in Dreamworks productions. It was exciting and fun for both kids and parents (there were some hilarious pop culture references) without being crude or obnoxious. In other words, it was just our speed. I highly recommend it!

Have you experienced any sensory friendly films? If so, how did you enjoy it? If not, would you be interested in trying one out?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Thursday Thankfulness: Autism Awareness Day

Asperger's, autism, blogs, difference, family, spring, thankfulness, World Autism Day, friends

Here we are again. This Thursday came around pretty fast.

  1. I am thankful that it is almost Spring Break for my kids. Although it means a little more work for me, it also means we can all relax a little and have some semblance of fun! I hope the weather cooperates!
  2. I am thankful for all the family and friends who may have never understood anything about autism in the past, but who have made the effort to understand because they care so much for Gus. The list is pretty sizeable, but y'all know who you are. A couple of those friends shared this YouTube video with me entitled In My Language made by an autistic woman, SilentMiaOw. As one of those friends commented, "It is very humbling." Thanks to H and S for getting this to me!
  3. I am thankful for the community of autism bloggers and advocates whom I've come across over the past year. As they can probably relate, it's not always easy to get to support groups. Having a community of people who 'get it' makes a huge difference. Some of my faves:

    Adonya Wong






    And by the way, Bonnie will be hosting the Gluten-Free Twitter Party tomorrow April 3 at 9am, 1pm and 7:30 pm PST. You might want to check that one out!

Please share your thankfulness and have a great (rest of the) day!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

This Is Not a Prank Post!

Asperger's, autism, humor, siblings, April Fool's Day, World Autism Day, book recommendations, family
Free Original Clipart at Designed to a T

I was really tempted to do an April Fool's prank post, but considering my topic, pretty much anything could have been seen as mean instead of funny, so I scrapped the idea. But my kids have given me more than enough laughter today, so I don't feel like I'm missing anything. Here are some of the highlights:

I hear Gus in the bathroom and then MM's door opens. "Gus. The house is going to explode!" A perfect mix of panic and disbelief infuses her voice through early morning coughs.

"What?" He's caught off guard.

"April Fool's!" They both laugh. I send DH to go check on the kids because I have a feeling someone forgot to put their shorts back on.

"Mommy wants to know what you want for breakfast: ketchup or syrup. She's making sauerkraut." Gus doesn't take the bait.

"Ketchup." He sounds serious and a little distracted, but I can hear the lopsided grin. DH is the one caught off guard this time, and then he gets it.

"Aah! You knew I was joking! Good one!" He goes to shower and I drag myself from the warm sheets. It's chilly. Gus has disappeared into his sister's room – possibly in search of those underpants that he's missing.

"Morning, MM," I say.

"Good morning, Mommy." She smiles.

"Ok, that's enough. I don't want to talk to you for the rest of the day." I turn to leave.

"What?" she cries.

I know she's very sensitive, so timing is everything. Too soon and the joke is diminished, but if I wait too long, she'll get upset. "April Fool's!" I spin around with a big grin. He mouth forms an 'O' and she cracks up.

Is anyone going to bother getting ready for school today, or will we just sit around playing lame pranks on each other all day? At this point it could go either way!

Gus comes back to his room and I remind him that he needs to put something on.

"Why are your pants green?" he asks. I could go easy on him, but he can take it if I'm not, unlike his sister. He loves a good joke. Whoever said Aspies have no sense of humor was clearly kidding and just forgot their punch line.

Gus finally finds his underpants. "Put your pants on now." He starts to put one leg in, and I get an idea. "Unless you don't want to. You can wear shorts today if you want." He looks at me, half skeptical, half wanting to believe, totally unsure.

"Why?" Good boy, don't get suckered that easily! This is a day to be on your guard, even with Mom!

"Because it's summer." I make it sound so obvious, and he goes for it. Gus rifles through his drawer looking for some shorts, which of course he will not find. "If you don't have any, though, you'll have to go to school in your underwear." He smirks.

"What happened to your shirt? It's gray…April Fool's! You thought your pants were green!" It is a good try.

"What do you mean? My pants are green. My shirt is black and my pants are green. You can't fool me." We both know my pants are blue plaid, but who's going to crack the smile first? We call that one a draw. There will be plenty more jokes this afternoon and Gus will be tickled by every one.

I've been listening to an audio version of Look Me In the Eye by John Elder Robison (check the sidebar). Robison wrote an amazing memoir of his life as a person with Asperger's Syndrome. One thing that strikes me is that he became quite the prankster at a pretty young age. Some of the jokes he played on people – even the authorities in his town according to one story – got quite elaborate.

Gus has a pretty wicked sense of humor most of the time. He's funnier when he's not trying. I think in a couple of years I'm going to have to start watching out for him on a day like today. He might just get me one of these days.

On a more serious note, today is World Autism Day – what are you doing to promote autism awareness? Have a great day and watch out for those pranksters!