Friday, February 25, 2011

A Tale of Two Tourists

We are about 40 hours away from taking off for our vacation in sunny Florida.  Not that I'm counting or anything.  I am both excited and anxious for this trip.  I think that Audrey will love it, but we haven't traveled anywhere in such a long time and I'm sure there will be some ups and downs.

We don't have the trip all hammered out to the nth degree, which is fine by me.  We know that we are going to the Magic Kingdom for at least one day, and perhaps Epcot and/or Sea World on the others.  We know that we are meeting up with the Big Daddy clan.  Put these knowns together and it's safe to assume that someone will more than likely be vomiting at some point.  Everything else is up in the air.  Actually, the vomit probably will be too.

This is a mother-daughter trip with Audrey and I traveling with BFF Grace Anne and her mother Aimee.  This will be a big test of our travel-compatibility.  Our little foursome has been spending some of our recent days off together as sort of a warm-up for the main event, and I can tell you that there are some definite differences between the girls.

Grace Anne likes pretend play, dress up, and more interactive, educational exhibits.  Audrey, not so much.

I'm just gonna take a nap here and
let Grace Anne do all the work.
Wait, I'm supposed to crouch
down and wave this puppet around
so that you can see it but I can't?
And this is fun for

Grace Anne smiles and poses for pictures.  Audrey does not.

It doesn't help when you wear a
brown shirt to Glow Golf.
You'd better work!

Grace Anne is full of energy and constantly about a 1/2 mile ahead of us when we're walking.  Audrey sashays about a 1/2 mile behind us.  Something tells me that Aimee and I will be doing a lot of texting each other with our 10-20.  That's texting talk, right?

Grace Anne likes to troll the gift shops and buy stuffed animals for her collection.  Audrey is not interested unless the animals are stuffed with edibles.  Or there is an ice cream freezer in the gift shop.

The last time Grace Anne was at Disney World she dressed down the "cast members" playing Cinderella's evil stepsisters for their nasty ways.  Totally cute and appropriate, right?  Audrey can't wait to give Minnie Mouse a piece of her mind for reasons that we have never been able to figure out.

Grace Anne is afraid of dark and scary rides, as well as big roller coasters and thrill rides.  Audrey probably will be as well.  Hurray!  Common ground!

Hopefully we'll be seeing a lot of this.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Boy Named Sue: Procreation on the Spectrum

Both Audrey's teacher at school and our home ABA consultant are expecting, so Audrey has babies on the brain right now.  She loves repeating how these ladies have "a baby in their tummy" and rubbing their bellies.

And then there was this convo:

Audrey:  "I got a baby in my tummy."
Me:  "Is it a boy baby or a girl baby?"
Audrey:  "A boy baby."
Me:  "What's the baby boy's name going to be?"
Audrey:  "Sue."
Me:  "Sue?!?!  That's a girl's name!"
Audrey:  "This boy is Sue."
Me:  "What are you going to do with Sue?"
Audrey:  "He's gonna get in his crib."
Me:  "What are you going to do when he cries?"
Audrey:  "Say, 'Stop crying!'"

So this was all cute and hilarious, but then I got a little...not really sad, but I dunno...wistful?  I know that she's  not even 7 yet, and trust me I'm not one to close myself to any possibilities for her, but..I feel in my gut that she's not going to be able to care for a baby at any point in her life.  Not a typical one, and for sure not a special needs one that her genetics may make it more likely for her to have.

She's going to have to
be satisfied with shoving
this under her shirt.
Several months ago I guest-blogged at Amanda's Life is a Spectrum (I can't link directly to the was on 10/15/10) about Audrey and Amanda's son Billy (also on the spectrum) getting married in the future, hahaha.  I had just watched the HBO documentary Monica and David about two adults with Downs that got married.

In the documentary, they showed Monica's mother reminding Monica to take her birth control pills, and addressed the issue of procreation.  The mother, I thought very reasonably, said (and I'm paraphrasing here) look, I've spent my entire life raising and advocating for my daughter, trying to ensure that she can live as independently as possible, pouring everything I have into her, and now I'm retired and we're in a good place and guess what?  Monica and David don't have the mental capacity to raise a child, and I'm not doing it for them.

In my guest post, I light-heartedly addressed the prospect of Audrey and Billy getting married, and received a bemused comment from a high-functioning autistic saying that, "What happens when ASD kids marry each other is pretty much what happens to anyone else".  And while that may be true for her, it's certainly not true for everyone on the spectrum.  Not at all.

So what do you think is going to happen to Generation Autism when they reach adulthood and start pairing off?  I'm thinking that one possible rule of thumb for me will be:  if Audrey is still referring to it as "getting a baby in her tummy", it's probably not go time.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Minnie? Daisy? Is This Thing On?

I haven't blogged about Audrey's texting in ages.  Mostly because the novelty seems to have worn off.  For her, that is.  Not for me.  I'll never get tired of posts that require nothing more of me than slapping up a picture of my iPhone.

Audrey texts have evolved from gossiping with Lauren, to initiating contact with people that I really wish she wouldn't and should have cleared from my contact list long ago, to communicating with cats.  Maybe I should make that "devolved".  

It seems our upcoming trip to Disney has rekindled her interest though, so the texting gravy train has pulled back into the station.  Audrey is back to her old tricks of thinking that she can just type any recipient's name in and the text will somehow find its way to them.  So far she's restricted this to cats and cartoon characters, but I'm thinking of expanding on this and trying it with God and Lindsay Lohan.  They both have been gunning for an earful from me for a while now.

When I first saw Audrey's latest messages, I naturally assumed that they were addressed to the various Disney characters.  But upon closer inspection I think that perhaps these are the words that she wishes to put in their mouths.  The tip off was the one under Donald that says "My name is Donald".  Besides that one, there are these gems:

Minnie:  "Are you glad to see you?"
Mickey:  "Let's go back to the clubhouse"
Daisy:  "On no!  Bella is gone!"

Sadly, I know exactly which episode of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse she's quoting with that last one.

When I checked back later, Audrey had furthered her "conversation" with Minnie, but I was too lazy to take another picture.

"I'll be Audrey Audridey!"
"Are you glad to see you?"
"Yes you were!"
"I had a piece of gum two word Chow Spy!"

Wait.  What?  I had a piece of gum two word Chow Spy?  Please tell me this is one of those auto-corrects gone awry.  Any ideas?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fear and Loathing: Preschool Screening Edition

I have another of my semi-monthly articles up on my local Patch today.  It should hopefully prove to be less controversial than my last one.

This time around I'm writing about these signs that periodically pop up around my town directing parents to "preschool screenings".  Yeah, I know what that means.  Or at least I thought I did.  Click here to see how the drama in my head compares to the reality.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Second Time Around

February 22, 2011 at 1:00pm EST/12:00pm CST/10:00am PST
Click here at the appointed hour to join us!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

You're Funny and You Don't Know Why

So I thought that I would be like the cool kids and share one of my favorite songs of all time with you, "Crazy" by Pylon.  This song runs through my head an awful lot because of the following lyrics:
"...your head's shaking 'cause your arms are shaking
and your feet are shaking 'cause the earth is shaking..."

Audrey's body can just be all over the place sometimes.  Actually a lot of the time.  She jumps up and down, pumps her arms, thrusts them up in the air, shakes her hands and head, and paces the floor.  There are various theories as to why autistic people do this.  It's supposed to be because of some kind of lack of body awareness.  Or some such thing.  I once heard a non-verbal autistic teenager explain through an augmentative communication device that she had no feeling in her limbs unless they were in vigorous motion.  

So her arms are shaking 'cause her hands are shaking...oh God I cannot get this song out of my head.  But there are worst things in the world because it is one of the greatest songs of all time.  Don't be put off by the title as relates to autism.  I always took it to be about someone just feeling out of sync, but it may actually be about being in love.

"'re funny and you don't know why
You're funny and you can't even cry
You're funny and you don't know why
You're funny and you don't even try..."

On a related note, go check out my friend Sherri's new blog Post Taste.  She's from the super-cool part of the world that produced Pylon.  Her latest post, with a pic of her in full B-52 regalia, reminds me of my early 80's college days spent loving all things jangly.  R.E.M., Pylon, Love Tractor, the dB' can't be from down there and NOT have awesome taste...check her out!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Every Moment a Stressable Moment

One week from tomorrow, Audrey and I will be jetting off to the happiest place on earth.  So naturally I'm stressed out of my mind.  Happiness.  Hmph.

We are headed down to Disney World with Audrey's BFF Grace Anne and her mom Aimee.  We'll be going to the Magic Kingdom, and maybe Sea World or Epcot, as well as meeting up with the Big Daddy clan.

I haven't traveled with Audrey since we moved back to Chicago in 2007, and in  this post from last summer I explained the fear and dread that came along with me even thinking about taking a vacation with her.  All of which still apply.

Only I could get stressed about having to try to relax and enjoy myself.  Here is a just a sampling of the free-floating anxiety batting around my head:

  • How in the hell am I going to pack all of her supplements for the 4 days and nights that we will be there?  There are gozillions...some of which need to be refrigerated and others that are just disgustingly vile.  If cod liver oil leaks out onto our clothes will it wash out or would I have to burn and bury them?

  • How many pages long would a social story have to be to get Audrey through this trip?  I wouldn't know because I haven't even started on one yet.  *hyperventilating*

  • I've got to remember where I stashed all of our summer clothes and hope that there are some that have not been outgrown.  By me, that is.

  • What if Big Daddy and I have nothing to talk about?  "Hi."  "Hi."  "This is weird."  "Yeah."  "OK, so..."  "Yeah?"  "Yeah."  "I like your blog."  "Cool."

  • Does it count as weight-loss if I shave off a couple of pounds of leg hair and dry heel skin before I go?

  • Toon Town just closed for a 2-year renovation project the week before our trip.  Just my freaking luck!  Never mind that Audrey has never been before so won't know what she's missing out's still qualifies as a curve ball, people!

  • "I should really think about getting a new swimsuit.  Let me just get online here for a second and check some out.  Or maybe I should try to save money and try on some of my old ones.  Ack!"  When did I turn into a fucking Cathy cartoon?

  • How many fully-charged electronics will I have to carry on to cover the length of the flight?  And will I have to pack a separate suitcase to fit all of the chargers that I will have to bring to recharge them for the return flight?

  • Which is worse:  the cankle-icious look of giant white athletic shoes paired with capri pants or risking ringworm and traction, but looking more fashionable, in flip-flops?

That was all just as I was brushing my teeth this morning.  And then while I was flossing...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Best Friends Forever

Can you deny, there's nothing greater
Nothing more, than the traveling hands of time?
- Son Volt, "Tear Stained Eye"

My mother buried her best friend this week.  Less than 6 months ago, my father passed away, then in the meantime, she lost two cousins, a sister-in-law, and now this.  My mother is 76 and I guess it's getting to be that time.  

Viola (on bike) and Gloria
(my mom, standing right) circa 1946
I don't want to say that Viola's passing is hitting my mother even harder than when her husband passed away.  No.  You will not catch me saying that.  I would never say that.  *That's what I'm saying.*   Husbands and boyfriends are all well and good, but there is nothing like a girlfriend.  Especially one that pre-dates your husband by a good 20 years; one that you've basically been friends with your entire life.

My mother and Viola were raised next door to each other in an Italian neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago.  My grandmother died when my mother was just 9, and after that Viola would come next door and make sure that my mom was up for school and take her over to her house for breakfast.

Gloria and Viola circa 1952, stoop-hangin' in their 
dungarees. Mom was born inside that house and I was 
raised there until age 10. Chicago 60628 in the hizzie!
We lived in the middle of the second largest city in the U.S. like the poor Eurotrash that we were.  When my mother was growing up there were cows, goats, and chickens running around in the prairie behind our house.  When I was little I can remember being awakened from naps by an ancient old man who pulled a huge wooden cart full of produce through the neighborhood yelling "App-o, O-gez" in this weird huckster cadence.  We were never allowed to knock on anyone's door or ring a doorbell, so we would all communicate via whistles and hollers.  This was in my lifetime in the city of Chicago.

Despite how this sounds, I'm not one for this whole let's-go-back-to-the-way things-used-to-be bullroar that you hear a lot of lately.  I'm not anxious to go back to a time when women had less opportunities, minorities were treated like shit, and medicine was so primitive that my grandmother died from a simple gallbladder operation before she was 40.

But oh how I'd like to be a fly on the wall and see these two running around the old neighborhood again.  Spending long summer days hanging out, talking, shopping, gossiping...and then meeting back up under the streetlight after dinner to yack even more into the wee hours of the night. 

I know for a fact that there is a specific word in other languages for the feeling that you get when you look at old pictures.  I couldn't tell you what it is, but I guess the closest that we come in English is "nostalgic".  I'm not sure that that quite cuts it.  I need to invent a new word for what I feel.

I feel intensely bittersweet.  I feel the towering, unstoppable force of the passage of time.  I see the stories that make up their lives, adding up to so much more than just the elderly, sometimes infirmed person in front of me today.  I see them full of piss and vinegar, trying to look as cool as possible in the latest fashions of the day.  I see the future that lies ahead of them that they know nothing about.  And I feel like I want to testify.

Viola was here.  She was Gloria's best friend, and the grandmother that I never had.  She loved and was loved.  She will not be forgotten.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tooth and Consequences: The First Baby Tooth Bites It

Another mystery solved:
Big Daddy IS the Tooth Fairy
Audrey has finally lost her first tooth.  She will be 7 in April, and even though the dentist kept telling me that it wasn't at all abnormal that she hadn't lost one yet, I was still concerned.  Seven years of being late to meet every single milestone will do that to you.

Actually, besides just another demerit in the baby book, my real concern was that two of her second teeth were already coming in behind the baby teeth.  Her mouth was starting look all freaky-deaky like she had a shadow set of choppers in the back.  But it's really not looking much better since a baby tooth has fallen out*.

Now it looks like she's got this engorged gum in front of the second teeth, which seem way too recessed in her mouth.  This may be where I start regretting letting her use a pacifier until just about a month ago.  I'm not even kidding.

Audrey always loved her binky and I was/am such a frazzled train wreck of a mother that weaning her off of it was just never a priority.  I used to have a pacifier in every pocket of every coat or pair of jeans, plus every purse, dresser drawer, and glove compartment.  And there may have been a minor shoplifting infraction where I ripped open a package of binkies in Target and shoved one in her mouth sans all of that unnecessary pre-boiling/sanitizing B.S.  I always told everyone that I did not care one bit.  I felt that trading out my current sanity for possible future orthodontia nightmares was a chance that I was willing to take.  But now the chicken teeth may be coming home to roost.

Audrey was uber-ascared to lose a tooth.  She's had a couple that have been wiggly for months, and every once in a while she would gasp and put her hand to her mouth when she would feel them move or maybe taste a little blood.  The blood was the big thing...she has bloody noses quite frequently and just flips at the sight or taste of blood.

I've seen this coming for months and have been meaning to either look for a pre-written social story or write one myself.  I never got around to it.  Plus, when I explained the whole tooth fairy thing and told her that she could get a "treat" instead of money, she was all over it.  Who needs to slave over a social story when I can just promise her a cupcake, cookie, or piece of candy?  Pfft.  It's called time management, people.

Since the tooth came out, Audrey has actually become quite enamored of it.  She keeps wanting to look at it and play with it.  But it's very small and she's already lost and found it about 100 times over.  I put it in a little jewelry pouch for her and told her to keep it safe because having the tooth to put under your pillow is sort of key to the whole Tooth Fairy shtick and getting a treat.  So she gets apoplectic when she can't find it.  For some reason, she keeps playing with it on my bed and losing it somewhere in the sheets and then screaming her head off for me to come help her find it.  There is a greater than 50-50 chance that she now has a curled-up hunk of my dry heel skin in that jewelry pouch instead of a tooth.

*Tooth may have been coaxed out by an errant knuckle sandwich.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Giving or Receiving: Which Is REALLY Better?

Audrey came home yesterday day with the pile of Valentine's Day swag pictured at left.


The valentines that she'd made out for her teachers and classmates were still in her backpack, neatly tucked into the envelope that I had put them in yesterday morning.

Which begs the questions:  what was she doing exactly while all the other kids were passing out their stuff?  "Thanks for the heart-shaped box of Hershey Kisses.  Psych!  Nothin' for you, sucka!"

This was the first year that Audrey had actually filled out the To/From on her valentines too.  Of course, none of her recipients would care much about that...they'd only care that there was not a box of anything attached to said valentine.  What can I say?  Momma was busy this year.

We went with store-bought valentines because, even though she only has 6 classmates, I was not about to nag her to make homemade ones.  She did receive one beautiful homemade card from BFF Grace Anne.

The drawing on the left is clearly an artist rendering of Audrey singing into a microphone.  Clearly.  My guess for the right-hand drawing was a flying nun with a bad case of hyperthyroidism being called to her vocation by St. Margherita, the patron saint of pizza.  This apparently is not correct.  My text queries were passed along to Grace Anne last night, and she let us know (through her tears) that this was also meant to be a drawing of Audrey.  With a pizza over her head.

As it appears that we are celebrating one day late this year, by passing out the valentines that we should have done yesterday AND trolling for 1/2 price candy today, Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Red Alert! Red Alert! Scheduling Change for Autism WTF!

The next Autism WTF radio show has been rescheduled from tomorrow until next Tuesday, February 22.  It will also be broadcast one hour later than our first show, at 10:00am PST / 12:00pm CST / 1:00pm EST.

Sorry for the postponement.  I was hoping to keep it to the original date...I thought that perhaps a night of Valentine's lovin' would mellow Big Daddy and slow him down enough to where you could understand a word he was saying and *maybe* I could get a word in edgewise.  I guess I'll just have to hope that his new diet has weakened him to the point of catatonia.

You will now have to wait a whole extra week to get all of your burning questions answered, such as:
  • Will I allow Big Daddy to say "hi" during the intro?
  • Will Big Daddy pull a muscle feigning interest in anything I have to say?                                           (So.  does.  Au.  drey.  like.  wa.  ter.                        ?)
  • Will special guest Jillsmo be able to abstain from using profanity?  If you don't know Jill, then go on ahead and click over there and read her Valentine's Day post before you register a vote on this.
  • Does the word "pissed" count as profanity?
  • Will anyone tune in to this train wreck after the last train wreck?
  • What crazy-ass regional dialect will Big Daddy be putting on this time?

Our topic will be "On the Town" and we will be talking about our adventures in the community: strange behaviors on display, epic meltdowns, sensory overload, interaction with typical children, and all the unsolicited parenting advice you can handle!  If you have any questions, advice, or stories to share, feel free to comment here and maybe we'll include your input on the air.  Talk at you next week!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Blog Gems: Love Is in the Air

In honor of Valentine's Day, Jen at The King and Eye has asked us to share a post from our archives about something or someone that we love.  Because I am a die-hard romantic, I went for an inanimate object.  My iPhone.  I love my iPhone and so does Audrey.  And it loves us back unconditionally.  Well, charging it might be one condition but that's entirely reasonable.

You can either click on the icon above to join in on the lovefest, or click here to go straight to my post.  I was stiffed on the last Blog Gems...comment-wise that is.  This time, unless your name is CherylIreneJ*Deanna, or K Floortime Lite Mama, you'd better effing comment.  I mean it.  Don't screw with me.  I will mess you up.  Please?

The Extra Z Makes It Extra Yummy

Friday, February 11, 2011

Top 10 Things That Make Me Run Late in the Morning

I really hate trying to get Audrey out the door to school in the morning.  On the list of things that drive me half-insane with stress for really no good reason, this one is right up there with obsessing over why Derek Hough is not returning for season 12 of Dancing with the Stars.  (A film career?  Really?  Is that a good idea?)

I've kinda set myself up for this by mixing it up with Audrey's cloven-hoofed bus driver, who hates me so much that she now pulls into my driveway, pauses for a 3-count, and then pulls back out if we're not out there immediately.

Our margin for error is razor thin, so even the slightest hitch in our morning routine (breakfast, give Audrey her supplement cocktail, make her lunch, get her dressed) can put us off schedule.  So here are the top 10 things that can make us run late in the morning:

10)  I have to open a new jar of cashew butter for Audrey's "PB and J" sandwich and stir in all of that greasy stuff at the top.

9)  Audrey decides that she cannot wear anything yellow after she is already dressed.  In yellow.  And then decides that purple is equally offensive after we've changed her.  Into purple.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

8)  We are up earlier than usual and thus I think I have all the time in the world, so I start commenting on blogs and do my daily SITS roll call, in which I pretend to like someone's homemade pine cone earrings (hollaback Dani G!).  Seriously, I've been doing this for 9 months...just give me my fucking day already!

7)  I have to take time out to vomit after reading Big Daddy's conception story.

6)  I have to open up a new bottle of some supplement and remove it from ten layers of tamper-proof packaging.  I can't get it open, so I take a knife to it, lacerate an artery, and pass out from blood loss while searching for band-aids which turn out to be in Barbie's pet hospital.

5)  I realize that I'm out of snacks for Audrey's lunch and have to go out to the car and scrape up some veggie chips and snap peas from the floor and under her car seat.

4)  We are halfway out the door and Audrey decides that she has to take a dump.

3)  Audrey insists on making it to the end of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and seeing the mouska-dance/Hot Dog Song, but she's rewound it so much during the show that I have to futz around fast-forwarding it to get to the end, which in turn sends her into conniptions because she's not getting to re-watch it in order to get to the end and then I lose the will to live and have to have a lie-down under the stairs.

2)  I have to sign a permission slip, fill out a form, pack up Christmas gifts, Valentines, or a change of clothes for picture day.  Who am I kidding?  These never get done.

And the #1 thing that makes me run late in the morning...

1)  Audrey has no clean underwear so I have to cut holes in a Crown Royal sack.  Again.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Yoga for Autism: It's a Little Bit Tricky

A while back, one of my Facebook friends shared a link with me to an article about yoga as an autism therapy.  It was around that same time that I discovered that Audrey was doing yoga at school during some of her OT sessions.

All of the poses are named for various animals, and I gotta say, when she started busting 'em out at home and telling me what they were called, I thought it was cute as hell.

Here are pics of her striking her poses, and just in case it's not obvious (because it is totally not obvious) I've included a photo of the animal that the pose is named for.

I think that this type of thing is nothing but awesome for Audrey.  She needs helps with body awareness generally, and especially poses like the Stork which challenge balance and bilateral coordination, are huge for her.

Another thing that she learned from yoga, completely unrelated to anything physical, is the word "tricky".  As in some of the poses are "a little bit tricky".  Unfortunately, she has generalized it to anything that she finds the least bit frustrating, which are a great many things.  So if I pepper her with too many questions about her day when she gets home from school or try to wrest my computer back from her, I'm hearing a lot of this yelled my way..."IT'S A LITTLE BIT TRICKY MOM!"

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Eavesdropping At The Mouse House

About a month ago, I started contributing articles about life with a special needs child to my local Patch website.  I post there twice a month in a column call "Just Off Main Street".

My third article is posted there today...I could use your support if you are so inclined, as I'm sort of crapping on normie parents (I know, so unlike me) and I may be a little outnumbered over there.

My first article was about our haircut routine, the second was about "runners" and the need to relinquish control when raising a special needs child, and this one is called "Eavesdropping At The Mouse House" and relates conversations overheard amongst typical parents.  Spoiler Alert!  Hannah is a very good sharer...

Monday, February 7, 2011

Party Like It's 4709

4709 is apparently the
year of the Easter Bunny.

Audrey and I went out for Chinese last night with my mom.  It wasn't at all to celebrate Chinese New Year, but let's say it was.  I'm so glad that the 47-oughts are almost behind us, because this decade has suh-ucked.

The opening of the fortune cookies at the end of a Chinese meal has always been contentious in my family.  Really there is nothing that my family cannot make contentious.  No matter what my mother's fortune said, my father would always find a way to twist it around to make it negative or something that he could razz her about.

This finally culminated in the great Lang Lee Incident of '89 when my mother could take it no more and burst out with "It doesn't matter what it says, you always say the same thing!  It could say 'You are a lumberjack with a hatchet through your head' and you'd say 'That's your mother!  THAT. IS. YOUR. MOTHER!'"

This story is a big part of our family lore, right up there with other scrapbook-worthy moments like the time my 8-year old self shot my dresser with a 20-gauge.  After that, my mother steadfastly refused to open fortune cookies in my father's presence.  Also?  They stopped storing their firearms in my bedroom closet.

Since my father passed away, the moratorium on fortune cookies has been lifted.  Last night, my mother's fortune read:
"A sound mind and healthy body bring many happy events to your family."
I forced myself to say nice things about this ever-so-sunshiny fortune, but in my head I was channeling for my father.  *Dripping sarcasm*  "Sound mind?  HA!  Good one.  Healthy body?  Yeah, right!  That's your mother alright!"  Miss you, Dad!

Audrey's fortune read:
"You will receive a surprising gift very soon."
I'm thinking of changing out of my flannel pants with the Santas and reindeer on them to make this one come true for her.

And mine?  Check it out...

Ooooh.  Fortune cookie very wise.  Would it be so wrong if I pinned all my hopes and dreams on it?

Sunday, February 6, 2011


Seen in the parking lot of the Downers Grove Public Library...

Caption candidates:
Suck on that, handicapped people!
How many different ways do we have to tell you people to just stay. the. hell. home. before you get the message?
Of course the White Male parking spots were clean as a whistle.
C'mon, where else are we gonna put all that snow?
$250?!?!?  But...but...but...the snow was just running in for like two seconds to return an overdue library book.

Anybody else got any good ones?  I'm giving away absolutely nothing to the winner...

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Progress Is a Drop In The Bucket

As all parents of autistic kids know, progress with our kids can be glacially slow.  It's there, but it's like watching water drip into a bath tub.  If you constantly stare at the tub, it's nearly impossible to see it accumulate.  Coincidentally, watching water drip into a bath tub is one of Audrey's favorite hobbies.  But that's another story entirely.

It can take me literally years before I realize that things are different than they used to be.  When Audrey was a toddler, I took her out in public plenty, but there were certain places that I would never go with her.  I would take her to Target or the grocery store, but not if I had any actual shopping to do.  At Target, I'd let her play in the toy department and stim on the toys.  At the grocery store, she liked the florist area and feeling up the produce.

She would never sit in the cart calmly and let me get any shopping done.  I always waited for the weekend when I could leave her at home with my husband and do my shopping in peace.  Ironically, parents of typical toddlers have somehow not figured out this system because there is never a time when I am in Target and do not have to step over a tantruming child.  Who I give a little kick to as I step over.  Oops.

A few weeks ago, I had a friend visiting from out of town and we were unable to work out a time to meet for lunch when Audrey was in school.  My friend (hi Carol!) said that she wanted to see Audrey and asked why we couldn't do it on a Saturday and have her along.  Why?  Uhhhh.  Because I'd like to enjoy my lunch?  Because I want to get away from her?  Oh, alright.

I packed the Leapster and made sure my iPhone was fully charged and brought her along.  And you know what?  She was great.  We ended up having a 2 1/2 hour lunch, and she only played with the Leapster for a small part of that time.  I think she's actually getting bored of the Leapster, which is yet another miracle in and of itself.

You know those kiddie place mats and crayons that they give you at restaurants?  She used to never even look at them.  She would actually get annoyed and shove them aside, letting me know that she was not to be diverted from making me lose my will to live.  Now she even knows how to do those word search puzzles on them.  Who taught her that?  Yeah, not me.

Towards the end of the lunch, another family came into the seating area where we sat.  One of the kids was a teenager with Downs, and he was wearing some kind of an Olympic style medal around his neck.  Audrey pointed at him and loudly proclaimed "He's got a medal!  He has to go!"  Apparently, there wasn't room enough in that restaurant for two special needs champions.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Moral Reasoning, Or Why Nancy Grace May Be Autistic

I saw this article on Disability Scoop about moral reasoning and a study that shows that people with autism struggle with this skill.

The study found that those with autism were "more likely than others to assign blame based on a situation’s negative outcome, whether or not malice was intended".

Here is an example of a situation that participants were asked about:
Two friends are kayaking in the ocean. “Janet” tells her friend that it’s OK to swim after reading that the jellyfish nearby are harmless. But Janet’s friend ends up dying after being stung by a jellyfish while swimming.

The study found that those with autism blamed Janet for her friend's death even though she didn't intend to harm her.  And your reaction is...?
A)  I must be autistic because I would totally blame Janet too.  And what does it make me if I would not only blame her, but torment her for the rest of her days with packages containing dead jellyfish, jellyfish on her pillow in the morning, her car covered in dead jellyfish...
B)  This situation is not applicable to my autistic child because they would know the exact genus, class, and phylum of the jellyfish and whether or not it was of the deadly variety just by looking at it.
C)  If I tried to administer this test to my autistic child, their answer would be "Swimming!  Yes!  Let's go!"

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snow More Cute Puns

After these...

Snopacolypse.  Snomaggedon.  Snoprah Windfreeze.  Barackolypse Snobama.  SNOMG it's a Snogasm.  The Point of Snow Return.  Snow Fat Chicks.  OK, that last one might not make any sense.

Our front steps are now a handy sledding hill!

You were right Mom.
It was a character-building exercise for me to
shovel the sidewalk for our whole neighborhood.

She'll be stuck out there until at least May.
Thanks Sno-Za-Palooza!