Monday, December 31, 2012

Raining Idioms and Literal Thinkers

Most people know that people with autism tend to be very literal.  Explaining idioms to kids on the spectrum can be fun, frustrating and frequent.  Even when you think they have most of them, it crops up at the funniest times. 

We got together to watch a football game this weekend and my brother-in-law made some comment about "hoping they could eat a little more time off the clock" and Joe got the funniest expression on his face and he said, "Eat ... what?!?!?!  Translation, please!"  There are so many idioms in the English language that there are always new ones to learn.  One SLP that Joe had in elementary school had an entire semester devoted to idioms which the kids thought was so much fun and the parents thought was so necessary.  But of course there are always more.

One child that I heard about used to go out to the driveway before they would leave and slap it because the parent would tell him that they needed to "hit the road!"  Joe loves to say "hang on to your hats" when someone makes a turn in a car because one of his carpool drivers used to say that.  Of course, it doesn't take much imagination to understand why "raining cats and dogs" can be funny to a literal thinker.

But trying to explain why his uncle's second wife is still his "aunt" when her children are said uncle's step children gets a little more confusing.  He wants to call her his "step-aunt".  When I try to explain that it sounds offensive he asks me why.  I give up.  Let's just call her by her first name and be done with it.

Joe is a very fluent reader, but his comprehension is far below grade level so we still have him read aloud to us every day.  Right now he is on a Harry Potter kick.  There was a line in the book this morning that said something about "I can see Uranus.  Get it?  I can see your anus." to which Joe says, "I don't get it."  Ah the fun conversations I get to have!

But the best conversation with Joe on literal thinking came while teaching him to drive.  One of the things covered on the permit test was "road rage".  One of the symptoms given was "excessive honking".  So the first time he hears me honk after learning that he wonders if I have road rage.  "No, I am just trying to make sure the driver in front of me is aware the light has changed."  I explain that not every driver that honks has road rage.  Usually it is more when you lean on the horn or honk repeatedly.  Suddenly it occurs to me ... "Joe, do you know what it means to flip someone off or give them the bird?"  "No."  Okay, let's explain this one.  I don't say what it literally means, but I explain that it means they are pretty angry with you.  And while someone might honk at you just to get your attention, if someone flips you off, you can be pretty sure you did something to make them angry.  

How many people get to explain to their high school student what an obscene gesture is???

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Case of the Missing Medicine

As Joe is approaching his 18th birthday and he is such a nice, polite young man, I force myself to remember funny (and annoying) stories and phases.

One of the best/worst came during his 8th grade year.  He had made some fairly significant strides in the year or two proceeding this and we had changed his medicine a couple of times settling on one that seemed to work.  We slowly ramped up his meds until we though he was at a "good" level.  After a few weeks (maybe a month) we noticed that this level didn't seem to be appropriate anymore.  He was argumentative and getting in trouble in school and he had several meltdowns at home so I took him back to the psychiatrist and he gave me an additional prescription for a slightly higher dose but for some reason, I did not get it filled right away.

DH and I were discussing the situation shortly after that and one of us made the observation that "it was almost as if Joe wasn't on his meds at all."  Hmm.  Then one night at dinner, DH said, "Wow.  We are out of napkins at the kitchen table again."  Talking later we said "Joe must really be going through the napkins!" and I joked "And he doesn't seem to be any neater!"  At this point enough clues were present that the next time DH took out the kitchen trash, he took it out into the garage and went through the entire bag!  (What can I say?  My husband is a saint!)

DH comes inside and opens up three napkins that contained a full dose of Joe's meds.  We have no idea how long he was throwing away hundreds of dollars worth of medication, but it was long enough for them to get completely out of his system and for us to observe the results.  It turned out he didn't like the taste of one of his vitamins but instead of telling us that, he just threw them all away. 

Although for several days he protested that he really did not think that the lack of medication was affecting him at all, once he was back on his medicine and he was calmer and successfully dealt with a few problems he actually told us, "I feel better on my medication."  So while it was a painful lesson to learn, it was one that was best learned then and not once he was out "in the real world".

Mystery solved!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Growing pains

What an utterly weird and strange day.  Yesterday was Christmas and I must admit that it was a good one.  Alan wouldn't open presents under the tree, but after we brought them to him where he lay on our bed watching his iPad, he opened them willingly enough.  He only had three time outs because we couldn't/wouldn't go out to lunch like we do most other days.  Sigh.  Still visiting with family was wonderful.

So today DH and I decided to do something we do frequently -- see the same movie separately.  We went to see Jack Reacher.  It was very good although probably a bit more violent than I would have liked.  After I got home I asked Joe if he would rather stay with Alan or go to the store for me and he opted to go to the store.  Then he called me as he was leaving the store -- "I am going to go by Barnes and Noble before going home."  O-KAY.  This might take some getting used to!!!  I know most parents struggle with their children's budding independence but as DH put it the first time he was home when Joe left to drive to school, "Is it just me or is it really weird that we just let our autistic 17 year old drive up the street in the dark?"  Nope, not just you babe!

Today was also Joe's last check up at the pediatrician.  Weird.  He has grown so much lately!!!  He is now the same height as my DH.  He has grown 6.5" over the last two years!  When he was 16 he was in the 25th percentile and now he is in the 90th.  They do grow up eventually.  And that is what I keep telling myself about Alan.  He may be a total pain the keister sometimes, but he will eventually grow up and be a young man.  Hopefully he is as at least half as nice as his brother.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

It's Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas ...

Today is Alan's last day of school for almost 3 weeks.    Because of the way the holidays fell this year and some teacher in service days, Alan will be off school for 18 days.  That is 432 hours or 25,920 minutes or 1.55 million seconds.  

OK, I can't look at it that way.  There will be 11 days with DH home to to help.  There will be two other days that Joe will be home all or part of the day to help distract Alan.  

But what on earth will we do for those other days?!?!?!  It is so hard when his daily routine disappears.  How many times can I take him out to lunch?  He used to love running errands or going to the zoo or something like that but lately, as soon as we get somewhere he either says "stay in the car" or "go home".  Of course soon after we get home he starts in with "Go bye-bye?"  "French fries?"  Sigh.  

I will have to come up with some creative ways to entertain him and myself.  Any and all suggestions are appreciated. I am determined to try the zoo again and of course, a park or two.  Those work much better when they are deserted.  There is just something about a 150+ pound 14 year old climbing inappropriately on the outside of all the equipment seems to annoy the moms of toddlers.

"... and Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again!"

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Holidays with a Twist

The holidays can be so stressful.  For a typical family, you have to deal with buying and wrapping gifts, teacher gifts, decorating, baking, scheduling holiday parties and so much more.  In our family, we have all that ... with a twist.

What do you buy for a non-verbal 14 year old who loves to climb and watch videos -- but rarely new videos?  He loves opening presents, but rarely gets excited by their contents.  What do you buy for an 18 year old who when you ask will give you half a dozen videos but that is about it?  He has little concept of the value of money.  We have been attempting to teach that over the last year with a debit card and having him pay for his own gas but until you are putting money back into the account, where is the lesson?  One year when we asked Joe what he wanted for Christmas he told us "a flashlight".  What else?  "I really want a flashlight."  OH - KAY!  To make things more complicated, we have both sets of grandparents still alive (don't get me wrong, that is a nice complication!) and several aunts and uncles who spend more than $5-10 for the kids.  They want ideas.  Every year, I scramble to come up with something (anything!) creative for them to get on Christmas and rarely do I find anything.  This is getting even tougher as Alan gets older.  We got him an iPad last year for his birthday so while we might appreciate the iTunes gift cards and he might at a later date appreciate the movies and apps we put on it, he does NOT get into opening gift cards.  Sigh.

Teacher gifts are even more fun.  When you have a teacher per kid you can do something pretty nice for them.  One year I had over 30 teachers for my 2 children!!!  This year I have one awesome teacher, 4 paraprofessionals in his class, a class interpreter (?), an ABA coordinator, SLP, OT, PT, Music teacher, Art teacher, PE teacher, computer teacher, favorite babysitter, two bus drivers (he is on a different route each way) and two bus assistants.  Gee whiz.  Just giving each of them $5 adds up pretty quick.  In the past I have made soap, made candles, given them cookies/soup in a jar, made autism awareness scarves and probably a lot of other things I have forgotten.  This year I decided to make a photo collage of goofy Alan pictures (climbing on the stairs, swingset, wedged on the top shelf of his closet, stairdiving) and gave them that on a thank you letter.  I had several of the people tell me it was their favorite Christmas present ever!  It obviously won't work for everyone, but it was a fun idea and I wanted to share it.

Decorating is not that different for us.  The nativity set still gets played with but I suspect that happens in many houses where there are young children.  We get no help from Alan decorating but Joe is a big help so I guess that one evens out.  The same with cooking and baking.  As long as I can keep Alan occupied with a video or outside, I can do my cooking and baking.  Of course I still have to go outside with Alan during snowfalls to insure that he doesn't stop in the middle of the hill and sit there or run over some younger kid so I dread snow days during December!

Scheduling the holidays is perhaps the worst.  Anything where "the whole family is invited" are a disaster.  If we take Alan anywhere, one of us has to be watching him constantly.  He likes to go "exploring" and loves beds, stairs, balconies and railings.  Having a 150+ lb kid jump off an upper bunk during a party is guaranteed to make people jump!  God forbid anyone have a dog, because then Joe is going nuts with his fear of dogs -- even little ones, even locked up ones.  Of course if we don't take one or both of the boys, we have to get someone to watch them.  Special needs babysitters are expensive!  Some of that is just because it is usually an adult (not some neighborhood kid) and some of it is because I believe in paying them well when I find one I like!  Adults tend to have their own lives so scheduling their availability is not always the simplest thing either.  Many times we have had to split up -- DH takes Joe to his side of the family and I take Joe to my side or DH goes stag to work parties.  Of course, sometimes this causes problems too.  My mom asked me one time if DH didn't like them and people at his work probably think I am a snob.  Such is life with the spectrum.

We end up hosting a LOT of holidays.  This is actually easier on us as we don't have to schedule babysitters or worry about trying to keep Alan out of beds or reassure Joe that the dog is really nice and won't bother him other than to smell him.  Sometimes it gets a bit expensive always buying the food and the drinks, but it probably saves a small fortune in babysitter costs so maybe it is even.  The holidays with a twist ...

Monday, December 17, 2012

Autism and Violence

I have debated over and over in my mind what if anything I should say about Sandy Hook. The idea that the gunman might have had autism is a scary thing.  While Alan can occasionally be violent, it isn't a calculated kind of violent.  Joe, on the other hand, could perceivably have be able to plan out something like that, but I know he wouldn't and here is a story that shows why.

Saturday we were talking about what we should do to get into the Christmas spirit and we  discussed watching a Christmas movie.  While Joe will watch any of the Santa Clause movies or The Polar Express by himself, the "classics" he only watch when we are watching them.  DH and I were going to put on It's a Wonderful Life and Joe asked if he had ever seen it.  I told him that he watched part of it one year with us, but seemed to grow bored (probably too subtle) but he still expressed curiosity and asked what it was about.  I told him it was the story of a man who was having a very bad day near Christmas and contemplated suicide but an angel comes down and shows him all the good things about his life.

Joe's response?

"He committed suicide?!?"

Me:  "No, he just thought about it and the angel came to show him how wonderful his life really was and all the reasons he had to live."

Joe:  "So the angel saved him?"

Me:  "Yes.  It is really a happy movie in the end because it shows how wonderful the man's life really had been."

Joe:  "OK, but suicide is just so final!  Can we watch A Christmas Story instead?"

Ah, my gentle giant.  Although my son towers over me in height and outweighs me by 50 pounds, he is such a gentle kid and I am so grateful.  That said there are so many parents that have to deal with the horrific aspects of mental illness.  This article (I am Adam Lanza's Mothershows the "other side."  Thank you Lord that I only have to explain things to Joe over and over. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

More Monkey Pictures

As promised ... more Alan monkey pictures!

See the plywood on the left side?  That is to protect
wires and copper tubing that he was trying to
use to climb.  Thank goodness DH is handy!

scaling the support pole ...
the kid has "monkey toes"

Squeezing into a cubby in the basement

Climbing up the basement banister
Note it is now a 2"x4" because he
broke the original banister

I love that he does this with a DVD box in
his hand.  He can go all the way from
the basement to the main floor without
touching the actual stairs!

trying to climb through the deck stairs
... he didn't fit!

Another tree he likes to climb at his
aunt's house ... several people
observed that the statue is probably
watching over him!
The kid's flexibility is amazing!

More balance beam work

High up in the tree

He had been trying to climb the shelves in his closet.
Note: the bottom left clothes bar has already been
removed ... so have the closet doors but that was
years before!
Somehow he managed to shimmy up on the shelf

crawling across for variety

not sure how he got up there in the first place

oh, maybe like this!

Doesn't everyone relax on top of the monkey bars?
just hanging out

Inside he also resorts to bed burrowing

My BIL commented that he looks like the
vulture on Snoopy's doghouse!

Stair diving ... headfirst on his back!

Hiding in "the tunnel" as he calls it

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

My Monkey

Several times I have referred to the fact that Alan climbs EVERYTHING, but as they say a picture is worth a thousand words, I thought I would share a few favorites ...

Doesn't everyone climb monkey bars like this?
Or this?
Love the hands in the pockets!  Mr. Cool!
The tree is popular too!

He learned how to shimmy
up the side of the A-frame
Although watching him balance
on the top was the most
nerve wracking!

Playground equipment is fun, too!

Who needs stairs when you can
climb through the banister?
Once again, the hands are in the pockets.
The neighbors all love to watch him.
These are all from 2011.  Tomorrow I will post some from this year and they are even funnier.  That kid!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Long Nights, Impossible Days ...

It has been several days since I had anything to talk about so the blog has been silent.  I never planned to write regularly on the weekends (emergency venting only) but I also missed yesterday.  Mainly this was because I spent the day car shopping.  I took Joe to school and then drove from car dealer to car dealer test driving new and used cars.  Fun, fun, fun!

Last night Joe walks into the room and asked me, "Mom are you going to need my car tomorrow?"  It is hard not to laugh when he says things like that.  I feel like I have to ask permission to use the car that is still in DH and my name, paid for with our money and insured with our money.  Still we have told him it is "his" car so it isn't like I can get mad at him for calling it that!

But really it was Alan that was jumping up and down on my last nerve last night (I asked DH when he got home from work if he could hear the twanging outside or not).  Alan walks in the door from school and instantly starts saying "medicine, medicine, medicine" until I give him his medicine.  We don't want to give it to him right away because he gets tired earlier in the evening if he has it too early so we try to wait until closer to 5 which is about 45 minutes after he gets home from school.  Last night for grins (and to keep me from going positively postal) I decided to count how many times he said it in a minute.  

The first minute he said it over 25 (I lost count), the next three minutes were 2-3 times per minute (he got distracted by a hangnail), the next was 8, the next 3, then 5, then 9, then 16 and then Mom snapped and put him in time out.  Of course this whole exercise in waiting is rather pointless because he always wins in the end.  The best way to extinguish an undesirable behavior is to ignore it but ultimately he will always get the medicine and I just do not know how to get around this.

Later after he had his medicine I was doing something at the kitchen counter and could not get him his "dinner" and once again, he just stood in my way and kept repeating his desired foods over and over.

Long night ....

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Silver Lining

While an accident is never a good thing, it can really affect a special needs family.  Yesterday, I was t-boned and my car was totaled.  I am, for the most part, fine -- just really sore.  So often it is hard to see the silver lining for the cloud.  This was a pretty big cloud after all!!

But while talking things over last night with the DH, I really got to thinking about how important each little cog is to the family machine.  While I do not consider myself to be a little cog (I am actually referring to the car) it is just amazing when you consider how every part of your life impacts every other part.  One of DH's co-workers was in a very serious accident less than two weeks ago and has multiple broken vertebrae and other bones as well.  He has feelings in all his extremities and his prognosis is actually relatively decent but he is still in the hospital and might be for months.

DH did say he wasn't sure how he would handle everything without me.  I thought that was pretty sweet as so many times I feel like my part of the household is so much smaller than his.  I know I do a lot, but I also have a lot of free time during the day to do what I like.  I spend a lot of time on the computer, doing my hobbies, reading and having lunch with friends.  But as he pointed out, if I were in the hospital like his coworker, or if I had lost an arm or a leg or something equally extreme, him trying to deal with that as well as the boys on a daily basis and keeping a fairly demanding full time job would become next to impossible.

Many, many people have pointed out to me that cars can be replaced and that the important thing is that I am (mostly) OK.  I need to focus on that and quit being so hard on myself.  The timing might stink, but really, when is a good time to have an accident??  My fabulous husband is the silver lining in this particular cloud.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Grateful for a Diagnosis

I never thought I would say this (let alone think it!) but I am so grateful today for my sons' diagnoses.  

Joe is taking a class on Sex Ed from a local company that specializes in special needs kiddos.  Most of their clients seem to have MR or something similar, but they are working to branch out into autism.  Joe has taken a couple of art classes there and liked them well enough but he was always the highest functioning kid there by far.  When they came out with the info on this class DH and I were all over it.  Special needs kids are much more likely to be sexually abused than their typical counterparts and Joe is so naive about things (and uninterested in talking about them) that we figured this was perfect.  As well, there is a young lady at his school with whom he is quite smitten and we figured before we let him actually "date" he should have a clue about was and wasn't appropriate.

The first two classes were relatively uneventful and didn't prompt him to want to discuss things at all.  Sigh.

Then last night a new student walked in and lo and behold it was Tina, a girl with whom Joe had gone to grade school and upon whom he used to have an enormous crush!  They had e-mailed a bit earlier in the calendar year and upon snooping through the e-mails I became even more convinced that this kid needed some boundaries.  She "broke up" with him in April and at first he was quite upset but then he seemed to get over it.  This fall he became smitten with Helen and we were thrilled.  Helen is a sweet girl and seems just Joe's speed and we always thought Tina was waaaaaaaaaaay over Joe's level.  

So Tina's mom called me last night to talk about the fact that both kids were in the same class and she told me a little bit about why she had enrolled Tina in the first place.  Yikes!  Tina was meeting guys at a local park after telling her parents she was going to church youth group and so her driving solo has been cut.  She was sexting and meeting guys in online chat rooms and several other dangerous behaviors.  But ... since she doesn't have a formal diagnosis (other than ADHD) she doesn't qualify for a lot of the services that they are now trying to get.  

The whole conversation made me so thrilled with some of the choices we had made for Joe over the years.  We opted to send him to a rather large public school with a lot of support instead of a small private school like Tina attended.  He has done the work program through school and has been accepted into the vocational job placement program upon graduation.  He has participated in a volunteer program for the last few summers and was told by one of the volunteer sites that they were likely interested in hiring him after next summer if he worked that hard again.  We hope to enroll him in the community college in the fall and have him take a couple of classes to hopefully improve his future employ-ability.   In general, his outlook looks good.  Maybe he doesn't have a scholarship like some of his typical peers and maybe he isn't even going to attend a four year college, but he is happy, mostly trustworthy and generally a good kid who will most likely be gainfully employed within a few months of graduation.   

Overall, his future looks so much brighter than Tina's mainly because of his diagnosis and the choices that we made that got him the support he needed when he needed it.  There but for the grace of God go I ...

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The "Little People" aren't so little!

Today the bus driver was about 25 minutes late.  Now for a typical kid, this would not be a huge deal.  They would hang out, maybe read or watch a video or play a game or just chat with Mom (OK, I can dream, right?)  But for Alan, we have to be waiting outside for the bus.  That is what we have always done so that is what we must always do.  In fairness to Alan, I started this because the kid refuses to wear his shoes in the house.  If we only had to get a jacket on and race out the door, we could stay in until the last minute.  But since we have to put on socks, shoes, jacket and bus harness and usually use the restroom before heading outside, this is a little much to do once the bus has been spotted.  And routines are very important to kids on the autism spectrum!

So this morning it was about 35 degrees F outside and Alan likes to sit on the garage floor.  I have tried to provide him with a chair, but he always sits on the floor.  This child is a bit hypo-sensitive to begin with so it wasn't like he was complaining about the cold but he was getting impatient.  Every 30 seconds or so I would get "Bus?  Huh?"  If it weren't so annoying, it would have been fairly funny.  So I finally called the transportation department and they check on the bus and it is less than 5 minutes away by the time I check.  Of course, when the bus driver comes she says she made a mistake and drove past our street (hey, it happens) but she called the transportation department to tell them she is coming back for Alan.  Now why did the transportation department act like they had no idea whatsoever why the bus might be late when they talked to me?  Is it really that hard to communicate?  I guess it is.

Normally I try to be very supportive of all the "Little People" in my sons' lives.  After all, when one of them does not do his or her job, it is usually fairly obvious.  I always try to give nice Christmas presents and end of the year gifts to all the many people that help out my boys on a regular basis.  I have had people ask me why I tip the babysitter so much.  Frankly, I want these people to like helping the boys because when they like their job, it makes my life so much easier.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

IEP's ... the Good, the Bad and the Ugly!

Individualized Education Plans (or IEPs) are something every parent of a special needs child has attended.  Being in my 26th year of special education parenting (15 for Joe and 11 for Alan), I have attended more IEPs than I care to remember.  Some are good, some are hideous, many are frustrating and some are a complete waste of time. Today's was Joe's transition to adulthood/post secondary education.  It was both good and frustrating. 

The SLP (Speech Language Pathologist) brought up the fact that when Joe gives an answer to a question and it isn't exactly the correct answer, he struggles with constructive criticism.  OK, to be fair, NO ONE likes constructive criticism, but it is a fact of life.  When Joe was younger, his response when he was angry was to take off his glasses.  I think this originated from the girl in A Series of Unfortunate Events tying back her hair when she was inventing, but I am not positive.  He doesn't always do that these days.  Most of the time he just goes to the bathroom.  This is actually better as it gives him a chance to get away from the situation and calm himself down.  Unfortunately, this might interfere with competitive employment (our post-secondary goal) as he can't exactly run off from his boss to use the restroom every time he is told how he could improve. 

Still, overall, Joe's outlook is so much brighter than Alan's that sometimes it is frustrating.  While I spend a lot of time wondering if Alan will have to be institutionalized, I only have to worry whether or not we will have to support Joe for the rest of his life.  

One of the worst IEPs I ever attended was when Alan was in first grade.  First a little background as to the events proceeding the IEP in question.  

Alan was always a big "headbutt-er" and he got away from his aide one day in October and went up to a gen ed teacher and headbutted her.  When I got the phone call later in the day, all I was told was that he had "headbutted a pregnant teacher".  What is everyone's first thought when they hear that phrase?  It is of a child (at the exact right height) running up to a woman 6 months or more pregnant and slamming his very hard head into her stomach, right?  I was appalled and horrified!!   It wasn't like this was a new behavior!!  Although there was no Behavior Intervention Plan at the time.  I was still a bit upset that he received a one day out of school suspension and a four day in school suspension -- not about the in school portion, mind you, only about the out of school portion.  First off, this happened more than 24 hours after the actual incident.  These kids need instantaneous feedback.  Second, a day off school is a reward.  Why in the world do they give the child misbehaving a day off school?!?!?

The actual IEP was even more frustrating.  Luckily my DH showed up and did the larger portion of the debate as I would have been too upset.  This is the approximate conversation:

DH:  Why did Alan get an out of school suspension for this incident?

Principal:  We need to keep our teachers safe.

DH:  So why give him an OOS suspension when that is essentially a reward for him?

Principal:  Well we need to keep our teachers safe.

DH:  I understand that but how is reinforcing a behavior going to help keep your teachers safe?

Principal:  We have these laws and rules to keep our teachers safe.


I am just glad I had left the IEP by this point, or I might have headbutted someone myself!  The end result was the principal decided that Alan was never to leave the autism room unless he was accompanied by two aides.  They didn't hire another aide so what would you do as a teacher?  Send Alan into a classroom with two aides and keep two students back in the autism room or send two students out with individual aides and keep Alan back in the autism room?  Needless to say, Alan didn't get into gen ed much after that and we switched schools at the end of that year.

As a postscript on this whole event, I found out at the Winter Party that the teacher in question was headbutted on the hip and that she had only just found out she was pregnant!!  Not only could Alan probably have headbutted her on the stomach without hurting her, but it wasn't like he was targeting the pregnant lady -- which was the impression I received the entire time we were discussing the incident during the IEP!

Keeping that fun IEP in mind made today's seem like a dream!  Really how bad is it that Joe has to leave a meeting to go to the bathroom?  Not so bad at all ....

Monday, December 3, 2012


I am honestly not sure who will read this, but I am using this blog also as therapy.  

For those who do not know me, I have two sons with different forms of autism.  

Joe is almost 18 and fairly high functioning.  He just got his driver's license and talks incessantly, but there are curious lapses in his comprehension and he is literal to the nth degree!  He is a senior in high school and he is mainstreamed for a couple of classes and in a special ed class for the remainder.  He is the darling of the special ed programs because he is so high functioning, but he is just a little shy of being able to even make real friends.  He sees almost no need for calling, texting, e-mailing or even getting together with people outside of school.

Alan is 14 and a much bigger challenge.  He is sweet and affectionate at times, violent at others and completely self absorbed at others.  He loves to climb.  He has a smattering of words (mostly nouns), some echolalia and a lot of vocalizations!!

My husband and I are both engineers by degree but I have been a stay-at-home mom since Joe was born.  At times I have really wanted to go back to work, but someone has to be available after school and since my husband's job is much more demanding, that someone has been me.

I have several hobbies and they have been my sanity saver of late.  I also like to read, but have done very little of that lately.  I will however mention it when I read a great book or see a good movie.

The reason for the title of the blog is that at a recent family gathering we were discussing trees and I mentioned that we had a Bradford Pear tree that didn't bloom for about 10 years.  At one point and time, my hubby and I used to like to joke that we had the special needs kids, the special needs cat and the special needs tree.

(Note:  The original title of the blog was "Specializing in Special Needs" but I changed it to "Life with the Spectrum")