Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sour Or Sweet, Smell My Feet

For the first time, Audrey's rocking some open-toes sandals this summer.

I know that this isn't a big deal for other kids who are seemingly in flip-flops from the moment they can walk, but I've never gone this route for Audrey because 1) she can barely walk in them let alone do her constant running, jumping, skipping, flapping, spazzing in them, and 2) I can't deal with the princess-and-the-pea crap of her needing a wood chip, pebble, or grain of sand shaken out of them every two steps.

So far things have gone pretty well on both of those counts with her new sandals.  The third downside of them that I hadn't anticipated is her having free and easy access to her toes.  For smelling.  She is now constantly running her fingers through her toes and smelling them.  Adorable.

Audrey's nasty "pedicare", as she calls it.
 Painted fingernails are called, you guessed it, Medicare.

I'm futilely trying to convince her that feet smell BAD and that she shouldn't want to smell them, but it seems that's a battle that I'm never going to win.  I was trying to associate stinky feet with other bad smells like rotten eggs and stinky cheese, but those both sounded great to her.

This also backfired on me when she started declaring "My feet smell like robin's eggs!"  And then at the checkout in Target, "My feet smell like Martian's eggs!"  Now I'm down to teaching her what the word "rotten" means, and...oh just forget it.

I know that for her it is sensory-seeking and that she smells things that are pleasant with the same intensity as things that are...not...but I'm trying to make her discern the difference between good vs. bad smelling things.

Here is one of my completely un-ABA-approved attempts:

"Do flowers smell good or bad?"

"Baking brownies?"


"Bubble bath?"

"Noni's armpits?"

"Stinky cheese?"
"Good!"  (I will allow it.)

"Christmas trees?"

"Hot chocolate?"



Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Night the Lights Went Out in Whoville

My latest article on the Patch recounts our 24 hours in the dark last week when a (small) tornado hit Downers Grove.

We tried to make like Little House on the Prairie, and asked ourselves WWJDD?  What would Jebediah Downer do?

Risk killing his car battery by constantly using it to charge his iPhone so that his autistic daughter would have something to entertain her?  Why yes, that is exactly what he would do.  Click HERE to check it out.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Taylor Swift and Russian Sailors: Just Another Typical Special Recital

Audrey had a piano recital last weekend.  It was the same drill as the one last fallread social story, perform, earn pink cupcake.

She's now done four of these: two as part of a special needs variety show, and two hanging with the nippicals.  In all cases, I spent every minute on the verge of Oprah's patented "ugly cry".

The first recital that she participated in featured a teenage girl with Down Syndrome singing "Some Day My Prince Will Come" and a song called "Reflection" which included the lyrics:

Look at me / I will never pass for a perfect bride
Or a perfect daughter / Can it be?
I'm not meant to play this part
Now I see / That if I were truly to be myself
It would break my family's heart
When will my reflection show / Who I am inside?

What, were they trying to kill us with that?  I'm on a daily ration of horse tranquilizers that are supposed to guarantee that I am unable to manufacture tears, but that performance was like anti-depressant kryptonite.

At this latest recital, one of the prepubescent girls sang a Taylor Swift song about a guy that is with the wrong girl and she goes and busts up his wedding...not sure which song it was cuz I think all her songs are about that.

Not at all fighting the urge to
pull her dress over her head.

Anyway, she was cute as a button and I could just picture her singing the song into her hairbrush in the privacy of her normie-girl bedroom with posters on her walls of Fabian or Tyrone Power or whoever the kids are into these days.  And that made me choke up too, but for entirely different reasons.

The typical girls were unusually endearing all around.  Audrey had to sit in a row with all of the other kids in the order that they were performing.  She was seated between two girls that looked to be a year or two older than her.  I was seated directly behind so as to keep tabs on her.

The girls saw me lean over and tell Audrey to put her legs down and stop hiking her skirt up and flashing the people on stage.  After I did that more than a couple of times, they took over and helped tug her skirt down whenever it started to head north.

It was such a small thing, but I kind of loved them for it.  I wanted to stuff them both into a sack and make them accompany Audrey to school until she graduated high school.

Audrey performed a song called "The Russian Sailor Dance".  Because everyone knows that Russian sailors are known for their dancing...

Friday, June 24, 2011

We So Excited. Today It Is Friday.

We're going to take advantage of the hole left in YouTube now that Rebecca Black is charging to see the video that 160 gozillion people have already watched.  Ours is at least as good as hers...


Now go get down already.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Those 5 Cringe-Inducing Words: "I Had the Weirdest Dream..."

So I'm on an airplane and sitting next to me is a guy with his baby girl.  He is traveling alone, and seems a little overwhelmed.  I try to help him out and ask to hold her.  Even though she is an infant she can already pull herself up to standing and seems almost ready to walk.  I marvel over her amazing motor skills as I hand her back to her father.

OK, so already we know that we are in dreamland because 1) I would never help anyone out with their baby on an airplane, let alone B) complement them on their kick-ass motor skills.

The airplane then morphs into some kind of cruise ship/massive flying hotel.  I'm walking around and get paged to the front desk.  It takes me forever to make my way there, and when I find it the clerk says "Did you hear what happened to the baby?"  I did not.  She informs me that the baby died suddenly, and that they think that she choked on a contact lens.

I close one eye, then the other.  I am missing a contact lens.


For the rest of the trip, I hide around corners avoiding the guy, as if I'd farted in front of him or owed him money rather than killed his baby.  He frankly doesn't seem all that upset.  Besides, who chokes on a contact?  So much for her awesome motor skills.

This is not my first contact lens-related dream.  I once dreamed that it was my job to put humongous contact lenses into the eyes of a circus elephant before he performed his ice-dancing routine.

I wonder what the contact lens represents?  Does anyone know how to interpret these?  Am I a complete sociopath or should I just cut back on the peyote before bedtime?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Hidden Photo Treasures, Courtesy of Audrey

Audrey loves to take pictures with my iPhone and digital camera.  I've been known to not pay 100% attention to what she's doing when she's playing with these, especially with the iPhone, hence the echolalic text "conversations", self-composed social stories, wacky voice memos, and thigh-cam videos that I find like hidden treasures in my phone after the fact.

Her photography is particularly sublime.  She likes to take extreme closeups of random objects in repose.  Behold...

Refrigerator porn

I loves funny too!

Not my colonoscopy

Guess how this shot is related to
last month's pukefest?

"Hey it's me, Mickey! Why don't you tight asses get a new TV already?
I'm so blurry I could be hosting a "10 Most Fascinating People" interview."

She was so proud of this one
she texted it to Lauren

Possibly my colonoscopy

Friday, June 17, 2011

This One Time? In Gymnastics Camp?

Audrey's in a two-week gymnastics camp this week and next. You might remember my victory dance in the end zone that I blogged about a few weeks back when I called to inquire about it and got an earful about how wonderful my daughter was *still cabbage-patching*

Thankfully, two friends from school are attending the same camp, so it wasn't too difficult of a transition to get Audrey to go. Besides those two friends, there's only one other kid in the camp that they don't know.

Here's how it's gone so far...

Day 1: Total kumbaya love-fest.

Day 2: Straight in the crapper.
In what will forever be known as the Great Yellow Balloon Incident of 2011, Audrey is accused of bogarting Grace Anne's you-know-what. Yellow balloon.  Pay attention people!  Sheesh.

All I know is that when I arrived at the pickup, Grace Anne was crying, Noah ran out of the room screaming like he was on fire, TJ started crying because everyone else was crying, and Audrey came sauntering out with a yellow balloon in her hands saying that she "needed to take a walk".

Audrey stood accused of stealing Grace Anne's yellow balloon, but I would like to submit the picture to the right into evidence. I'm afraid that the Green Lickety-Lime Crayola marker does not lie. Case closed.

Day 3:
Grace Anne brings a bag of yellow balloons with smiley faces on them to share with everyone and peace is restored.

Day 4:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

That's the Spirit!

I'm over at the Patch today, talking about Audrey's last week of school before summer break.

It was, of course, Spirit Week, with each day featuring a funtastic theme.  So click HERE to head on over and see how the week broke down for us.

We had spirit, yes we did, we had spirit, and now it's...rid?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Techolalia: A Technology Echo Chamber

My "friend" Big Daddy received this text from me a while back:

"I am having lunch with Mrs. Big Daddy."

His reply:  "Huh?"

For once his confusion was understandable, as I live precisely 1,362 miles away, he knew where his wife was at that moment, and he knew it wasn't with me.

The message was texted to him by Audrey from my iPhone.  I've well-documented Audrey's love of texting, but she's been on a bit of a hiatus lately.  Her texting has always been a pretty accurate reflection of her communication skills in general -- pronoun confusion, ignoring questions that are asked of her, and (usually inaccurate) school/family gossip.

And now we can add echolalia to the list.  Big Daddy couldn't figure out why Audrey would be texting him that she was having lunch with the Mrs, but I recognized the line as something that he had texted me months ago.

Yesterday I was texting my friend Aimee, telling her about the appropriate attire for Audrey's piano recital which she and her daughter/Audrey's BFF were attending.  I told her to tell Grace Anne to wear a dress and not her summer uniform of a tank top, shorts, and crocs.  Aimee texted me back:  "Done and done."

Later Audrey was texting with Aimee, and Aimee was telling her how they were coming to the recital and she couldn't wait to see her play and have dinner afterwards.  And Audrey texted back "Done and done!"  The exclamation mark was an extra little flourish that made it all her own.

Yep, she's got a bad case of the latest franken-word which I guess could also cover the Japanese accent that she's acquiring from playing Cooking Mama on her DSi for 6 hours a day.

Friday, June 10, 2011

GFCF: I Never Met a Diet I Couldn't Cheat On

Most parents of autistic kids try the gluten-free/casein-free (GFCF) diet at some point in their journey.  It's probably the one alternative-ish, biomed thing that everyone seems to try at least once, if only for a few days...before they cave after finding out that it does not include Cheerios or some other gluten-full food that represents the only flippin' thing that their kid eats.

We started Audrey on it at 18 months and were religious about for nearly three years.  During that time, we even tried the Specific Carbohydrate (SCD) diet, the even more restrictive Soul-Crushing Diet that I blogged about HERE.

Gluten and casein incarnate 
Eventually I just got sick of it.  As Audrey got older, she became more aware of all of the delicious glutenous carbs that she was missing out on.  I hated her sticking out any more than she already did in social situations, as I had to wrestle her to the ground at parties or holiday get-togethers when she reached for a cookie or bread roll.  Also, we relocated back to my hometown of Chicago, and, I'll have to Google this to confirm, but I'm pretty sure the GFCF diet is against the law here.

The main thing was that as I started cheating and reintroducing gluten and casein, I noticed absolutely nothing in terms of any detrimental effects or regressions.  The Holy Trinity of autism side effects for me are 1) Behavior, 2) Sleep, and 3) Poop.  If none of those head south in any noticeable way, then as far as I'm concerned it's "pass the pierogi".

The other important point is that Audrey has a really, really good diet.  We buy organic, eat out only occasionally, and never have fast food.  Don't say, don't even think, that pizza is fast food or I will be forced to cut out your tongue and show it what real pizza tastes like.

One huge benefit of gutting out the grueling years on the diets is that Audrey is an awesome vegetable eater.  She gloms down broccoli and green beans, and even (with some bribing reinforcement) will eat kale, dandelion greens, and bok choy.

Going out for pizza is something that we do infrequently enough that it is considered a special treat.  And one that I think is richly deserved given her generally good eating habits.  Still, my husband is a great advocate for the GFCF diet, so we keep our visits to the pizza parlor on the DL and try not to flaunt them.

Until Audrey says something like "I should not talk about eating pizza and ice cream.  It's a secret.  OOOOH...I DO NOT LIKE IT'S A SECRET!" right in front of my husband.  Other subtle clues?  Notes like this from school...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Backyard Again: What Is That Patch of Grass Even For?

"The yard is nothing but a fence"
R.E.M., "Gardening At Night"

Are you like me in noticing other mothers at leisure?  Mothers coffee-klatching poolside while their kids are swimming or running around, relying on the lifeguards to notice if anything really bad happens.  Mothers sitting on lawn chairs in their driveway talking on the phone while their kids ride bikes or run through sprinklers.  Mothers reading books on a park bench while their kids play on the equipment.  Reading. books.  That one is my personal favorite.

Of course, I'm talking about mothers of typical children.  When was the last time that you were able to do that?  Ever?  How many counties away would your kid be if you did that for even five minutes?  How many gypsy tribes would they have passed through by the time you looked up from the first page?

I can't take my eyes off of Audrey for a minute, and I wouldn't even classify her as a "runner".  She knows not to go in the street, but still wanders visit neighborhood doggies, check out the koi pond (with waterfall...oh yeah) a couple of doors down or stare down sewer grates.

We can't even hang in our back yard because it's not enclosed and there's not one, but like 5 different ways to exit it.  But that all changed as of last week.  Yep, we finally got a new fence and completely enclosed our back yard.  And now we empty yard that gets little shade and which Audrey will probably not want to spend more than 30 seconds in.

You mean to tell me that I just can't plop her in the middle of this like it's a play pen 
for 7 year olds while I sit on my ass reading about Kate and Wills in OK! magazine?

It could be that we need some form of entertainment for her.  One of you say...swing sets?  But then she'd just want me to push her because she still can't do that herself.  A rock wall?  She'd break her neck and that would really cut into my leisure time.  A slide?  "It's too hot! I'm burnt! I need an ambulance!"  A pool?  Just another thing that I'm supposed to keep clean that I won't.

I'm thinking a sprinkler-slip-n-slide-y thing that could double as a toboggan run come winter.  Either that or stick her under an umbrella with her DSi.  That counts as quality outdoor playtime right?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Dealing With Emotions: She's Mad As Hell!

We worked for years on just getting Audrey to identify emotions.  Which she can now do pretty well.  Now step 2 is getting her to react appropriately to her own or others' emotions.  She likes to laugh her head off when another kid is crying or upset, so we definitely have to work on that.

But right now we're focusing on how she deals with her own emotions...especially "mad" or "irritated".  Obv.  I mean, who needs to work on dealing with "happy" right?  **picturing how she deals with the ecstasy of coming upon a house with the sprinklers on and her "Ee-ee-ee-ee" arm-flappy happy dance**  OK, strike that.

When Audrey is mad or irritated, she doesn't communicate it appropriately.  Some examples of her major irritations lately:  someone else answering the door when the doorbell rings, not getting a cookie/cupcake/entire fake wedding cake in the bakery window, and, the old stand-by, getting any of her stims interrupted.

The go-to reaction is, of course, scripting.  She'll say something like "There aren't enough muffins for anyone else!"  Source:  Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Specifically Daisy Duck.  More specifically, some bullshit episode where someone is stealing food from the Clubhouse and they have to figure out who it is.  Well, maybe that isn't that specific because there are about 90 episodes like this.

Sometimes she will make an attempt to talk herself down from the ledge, and say something like "I can handle it when someone else answers the door!"  But I'm just not sure that it counts when it's said in a high-pitched wail while bawling her eyes out.

But my absolute favorite, and her most common reaction, is when she pulls out something from the past that she was taken to task for but has nothing to do with the situation at hand.  So, say we are talking about someone else answering the door.  She'll say "I get mad when I cannot have hot chocolate!"  Huh?

Another favorite, said when she is especially irate "WE DON'T HAVE TIME TO DANCE!!!"  To which I always respond, "Go ahead, dance!  I wish you would!  If it would distract from this tantrum, by all means DANCE."  Yeah, we have a lot of really constructive conversations in this household.

These scenes are especially sweet when they are played out in public, and we end up saying these really effed up things to each other.  This one played out in Target when I tried to peel her away from stimming on the automatic doors:

"Audrey, come on, that's enough, we gotta go."

"Maybe I'll smell my toes next time!"

"You can smell your toes in the car.  Let's go."

"But we don't have time to smell my feet!"

"We've got plenty of time.  You can smell your feet all you want, but IN THE CAR.  Let's go!"

"I should NOT smell my feet!'

"I just told you that you could smell your feet.  You're not mad about smelling your feet.  You're mad because you have to stop making the automatic doors open and close.  Say what you're really mad about!"

"I cannot smell my feet."

Ugh.  Is it wrong for me to long for the day when she'll just cuss me out like a typical kid?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Christmas in June

I caught Audrey singing in the shower..well, bath anyway.  She loves to belt her some Christmas carols, even in June.

She started out with "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing".  Our little friend Billy, whose wonderful mom Amanda blogs over at Life Is a Spectrum, sings this particular carol as Mark the Feral Danger King!, which is admittedly pretty hard to top.

But I think Audrey gives him a run for his money with her re-imagined lyrics, which are little bit "O Holy Night" and little bit cannibalism?

I will sing the holy ni-ight
I will sing the holy night
The duck bread will eat the mama
And the daddy duck will have some

You will have to turn your volume way up because I was getting these on the DL...

Here's the real "O Holy Night", proving that no one really knows the lyrics between "the stars were brightly shining..." and "...fall on your knees", or can hit any of the high notes...

Merry...Flag Day?  Only 204 days til Christmas!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Short-Term Memory Follies: Why Is This Razor In My Hand?

I bought a laptop for my late father when he was 70-ish, thinking he could maybe find some use for it in his retirement.  The only thing he ever used was email, and even that he only used to receive the worst kind of bottom-feeding junk out there.  Stupid jokes, pictures of naked ladies on the golf course (tee hee), religious chain letters, and every weird conspiracy theory that you could debunk in about 5 seconds flat on Snopes.

Every time I saw him, he was scaring the shit out of me about something: don't park next to vans, don't blast your car's A/C when you first start it up, don't wear overalls (what?).  But you might want to consider that Nigerian prince's offer cuz that one seems pretty legit.

Many of the jokes were about being old, senility, dementia, Viagra, etc.  I remember one of them, which described a scene of "roomnesia", where the person was going from room to room trying to accomplish something but getting continuously distracted and forgetting what the original mission was.  But the tasks and distractions were pretty normal stuff:  paying bills, taking a phone call, looking for a stamp, etc.

It struck me that this happens to me all of the time, but perhaps the sequence of events aren't the stuff of viral email jokes.  Take the following as an example...

Audrey was in an ABA session with Raven, and, it being the first hot summer day, I decide that I really must take advantage of the free time and shave the winter's growth off of my legs.  It's way too big of a job to do in the shower, so hunker down on the bath tub ledge with my sharpened machetes and get ready to have at it.

I notice some kind of green leafy thing congealed to the side of the tub.  I remember that when Audrey puked a week or two ago I'd shaken out some of the sheets and towels into my bath tub.  I'd cleaned the tub (I swear) and Audrey had even taken several baths since then, but somehow there was still this hunka hunka upchuck stuck on the near side of the tub that I must've missed.

Completely grossed out, I get up and go to my bedroom to get a Kleenex to remove it, wondering if that will suffice or if a sandblaster will be necessary.  I notice that Audrey and Raven are now up in her bedroom, and Audrey is rifling through her drawers.  She's still in her pj's and has decided that she needs to go out on her bike right that minute.  She's pulling out winter clothes because I still haven't done the whole winter-to-summer drawer switcheroo yet, so I stop her, dig out some summer clothes, and get her dressed.

I escort her back downstairs to help her find some shoes so that she doesn't go out in her snow boots.  In the meantime, my husband has decided to whip up some probiotic-rich, homemade coconut kefir and the kitchen is covered in bits of coconut flesh and its sticky juice.  The ants are already amassing at the border, so I stop to clean it up.

But the counter also has a bunch of papers, mail, and crap on it so I have to move that stuff first.  I see some forms from Easter Seals that are already late and I start in on those.  My husband is watching some JFK and Viet Nam documentary and I get distracted by that.  The forms are more detailed than I thought so I throw them back onto the pile on my desk and finish cleaning up the kitchen.

I finally start back upstairs and just as I get up there Audrey comes in wailing "MY MOM IS GOOOOONE!!"  I go back downstairs to show my face and talk her down from the ledge (when am I ever gone????).  Then back upstairs, I dig out some almost-guaranteed-not-to-fit shorts and try to squeeze into them.  I look down and see my massively hairy legs.  Ooooh yeah.  I go into the bathroom to shave them, again notice the puked-up spinach, just as I hear Audrey running up from the basement as her session has come to an end.

I shudder to think what old age will bring.  But then again it might improve my lot.  I will undoubtedly have no brain cells left by then and probably wouldn't even see or notice the puke, ants, dirty kitchen counters, or the hairy legs.  Bring. it. on.