Friday, December 17, 2010


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Have a groovy-spiro-smiley holiday!
We re-discovered our Spirograph this week.  After many false starts, I completed my bi-annual day-long process of completely-cleared-off-floor stripping and waxing.  We lived without a kitchen table for 3 days (gasp!) because the kids had two snow days....we decided to make Christmas cookies on the 1st snow day: why not get the messy job done BEFORE cleaning the floors?  Then day two I caught a really nasty cold which had me icky, achy and crabby.  About 3 pm I decided to bite the bullet and got to it.  I couldn't rest and recuperate when we were all living in chaos and flux.  It's amazing how much we rely on our kitchen table.  It truly is the heart of our home.

So as I was organizing and putting everything back, I found our trusty old Spirograph.  My older 2 kids loved playing with it when they were young.  I remember asking Santa for it when I was a kid, along well as a Bic 4 color pen - I was thrilled with them both.   Now 10 color pens are common - wow!  
Only 99 cents!

With G, it's better to let him discover something himself than to suggest it - everything has to be his idea.  So I coyly put out the Spirograph on the table while going about my organizing project.   Sure enough, within seconds, G said, "Oooh, I want to do that!"  Another organizing job deferred in the name of creativity.  lol.

I discovered that the Spirograph is an excellent therapy tool for developing fine motor skills.  G's school-provided OT is ineffective, so I try to find opportunities to work on his rough fine motor skills at home.  G resists holding the pencil correctly; writing or coloring is rare for him.  The Spirograph motivated him to draw because it was a gadget, a novelty, and instantly produced cool results!  Best, since the pencil/pen point has to poke through the hole to make an image on the paper, he had to hold the pencil firmly and push down with force.  While his first images aren't the lovely intricate samples shown below, his work is festive and amazingly beautiful to me because it required so much concentration, focus and fine motor control.  We've got another fun tool in our toolbox. Great re-find!

Oh, the possibilities!
Our snowy week was filled with great sensory experiences.  The kids went sledding, and G ate lots of snow.  Then we all ate cookie dough...I have a great sugar cookie recipe that doesn't have eggs*, so totally safe to nibble!  The cookie-making process is very tactile, heavy work: measuring, pouring, mixing, rolling, cutting - and of course delightfully creative and yummy.  Guess who did the best job with cookie cutters?  G!  Must be the wealth of playdough experience he brought to the table.

I love the contrast between
G's head-to-toe, flour-covered body,
and Neatnik N's immaculate shirt.
G got his "into it" creative mess gene from moi.
Such concentration! 
Creativity in progress...
175 cookies = big mess!
So glad we did this before
the big floor project!

* Kraft Philadelphia Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies
Easy-cheesy, 6 ingredients, yummy and safe to eat raw...because really, who doesn't love cookie dough?  I make these every year and get lots of compliments.

To make tie-dye marblized cookies, add a few drops of food coloring(s) to a dough ball and squish it around before rolling it out.  You can also mix food color in completely to make solid color dough.  Try it - get your groovy on!

One last tip:  We use our lazy susan daily at the kitchen table.  But it's also particularly handy when doing crafts or making cookies.  Just clean it well (I'm a bleach freak), and you're good to go!
I purchased mine at Costco a few years ago, but this one is close:

Ok, don't get me started...I also use lazy susans in my cabinets to organize spice jars, canned goods, etc.  They make searching much less frustrating, and yup - FUN!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Backward Glimpse

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I've put aside my mountains of autism books for the rest of 2010 and declared war on my cluttered home.  I'm so frustrated in my search for answers for/about G that I'm using that raw energy to put order on things that I DO have control over: my body and my home.  I've been working out, cleaning closets, emptying drawers, moving furniture.  Sorting, organizing, pitching, donating.  Joy - it feels incredibly liberating!  I'm finding some surprising treasures in the process.

I found a few "dash and stash" boxes that got lost under the radar during previous organizing stints.  D & S boxes so named by a friend who once described the frantic moments when a friend or family member calls to say they're dropping by in 5 minutes, so you dash and stash the mountain of clutter.  I unearthed a box of D & S paperwork from January, 2008.  The Wonder Years.  Family times filled with wonder, excitement and magic of my 3 delightful children.  Yet - wonder, nagging fears about G.  A word list instantly took me back...

With each of my children, I checked in periodically with the recommended milestones in "What to Expect When You're Expecting", "What to Expect The First Year", and "What to Expect The Toddler Years".  Usually I'd peek at them before a pediatrician visit to see what to expect at the visit, note their progress and ask any questions about upcoming challenges with teething, etc.  Though I took those milestones and well visits very seriously, compared to my worries and prep for doctor visits for G, they were a piece of cake.  For this visit, I'd spent 2 weeks badgering my husband and kids nonstop for words that G could say, carrying my scrawled list everywhere in case of a Brand New Word.  I'd read that at his age children should have 100 words.  I took it literally and devotedly.  I knew, as mothers do, that something was amiss with my miracle boy.  My older 2 children hit milestones waaaaay ahead of the book's chart.  The milestones are written to the low end of accomplishment.  I knew that.  Isn't it funny how we try to convince, even fool ourselves?  I was determined to get to 100 words.  I assembled the list and typed it up to take to the pediatrician. I only got to 96, so I left the remaining 4 blank, bent on filling them.  Then I noticed that I had 2 duplicates, so I was down to 94.  Those 6 blank spaces haunted me, I had to fill them in, had to get G to 100 so that he would hit the mark.  I force fed him words, "Say watch, G.  Watch."  I recall the warm feeling of accomplishment as I wrote in the remaining 4 and added 2 extras.  102!  I was feeling bold, so I wrote in numbers up to 110.  We stayed parked at 102. 

The pediatrician simply swept it away with a glance, another in a long line of brush offs for my concerns.  They'd see this boy with the bright eyes, curiousity and smiles and deem him just fine, a bit slow to speak.  I heard the Einstein didn't speak until he was 4 story time after time.  He's an active boy.  He's just being 1. 2. 3. 4.  He's just clumsy.  His judgement will improve.  He has his older siblings to do things for him, say things for him, it's the "baby of the family" syndrome.  I'd repeat these explanations (excuses) over and over to myself.  But...I'm never able to fool my mind late at night.  I'd stay awake to look up his behaviors online.  Symptoms.  Milestones.  Compare.  Contrast.  Wonder.

All of this came flooding back as I looked at the list, the extra 10 numbers hopefully etched in red. What I didn't learn until months later was that much of his speech was echolalia (repeating our words).  Not necessarily understanding or unsolicited speech.  Expressive speech delay.  Another huge red flag was his lack of word combinations.  He put only 2 words together, rarely 3, but mostly spoke in one word commands or labels.  Still later that year he regressed  to grunts, screeches and pointing.  That pitiful list brought me to tears, then sobs.  Here was a black and white (and red) record of my naive, dogged efforts to make my G right, to fit him into the "normal" box. 

As I sobbed, I hurried into the kitchen to check on dinner, busy myself to work out my woes.  Sigh, blow my runny nose.  Collect my thoughts, clean my tearstained blotchy face - so that I wouldn't upset the kids. 

Just then in the next room I heard M say in a groaning tone,
"G, stop licking the couch!" 
2.5 years later at 5 years old, there's no doubts for me about fitting G into the normal box.  That single directive - like countless others in the course of our daily adventures with G - brought it all home.  I laughed loudly and deeply.  This ride is a wild, manic trip bursting with tears and giggles.  I may not have a distinct label encompassing G's complex personality, but normal is one I can rule out.  lol

In truth, I'm still in the Wonder Years.  I'm pretty sure I'll wonder at G's wonders always.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Holiday Boogie!

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Sharing a silly, fun holiday greeting...

Blue Tunes

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A friend brought up the Blues Brothers movie today, which got me humming my favorite blues performers.  I couldn't wait to get the kids tucked in to listen to some deep rhythms, tap my toes, sway my hips.  It's called the blues; which defined is feeling low, depressed, cold... Funny, I experience it soulful, energizing and hot!  A few of my favorites...

Otis Redding, imagine the soulful songs that went down with him in his early death.

Love this scene from Pretty in Pink, a great date movie from my youth

Hope you enjoyed it.  Now I can call it up and watch, listen and dance any time I'm feeling "blue"...

Monday, November 29, 2010

Ever so Clever

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Had to share this 2009 UK ad campaign for autism early intervention that I just discovered by chance.  Simple, quick, engaging.  Dramatic message, riveting images, hard-hitting without being depressing.  Check it out here:


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Touched by the Spectrum's Light

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I was elected to give the Thanksgiving meal prayer last night at a family celebration.  I spoke of gratitude for our blessings of health, happiness, friends, family, our security, comfort, and the meal.  Pretty typical stuff.  I asked if anyone had anything to add.  The only one who piped up was G, the youngest by far at a table of 10.  In his painfully slow, searching for the right word, broken with uh's and ah's speech,  
"I'm thankful for my desk that we gave to Uncle S today. 
And...I'm thankful for my life." 
So autistically abstruse: a mundane, irrelevant thought followed by the profound.  I'm forever astounded by G and his enlightened words.  We are all blessed by his life.

Thank you Lord for my gifts of family, friends, love, laughter, creativity and the pursuit of knowledge.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Google Gurgles

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Eyes on Google: fun new ad campaign
This clever ad reminds me of Thanksgiving...

...can we get a plumber?

I LOVE these gurgles!

Holiday greetings - feeling the stress yet?

We've all fast-forwarded through someone's run-on messages...

Fab campaign - sure to delight!  Well done, Google Translate.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Bus Stops Here

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Check out Cheryl Piperberg's
Gallery of colorful, playful images
G had school this morning instead of his usual afternoon time because Parent/Teacher conferences are this week.  Strange, but that's school for you.  So G's big sister M came outside with us while G watched the garbage truck in its full glory (bonus!).  She waited for a few minutes with us for his bus before heading off to her own.  She asked, "G, is your small bus going to pick you up this morning?"  He emphatically replied, "No!  Not the small bus, the big one!"  She wondered, "Oh, I thought you loved your bus!"  With a sweeping hand motion G explained, "I do, but it's growing bigger and bigger.  It's gonna be like yours someday."
Perfect metaphor for my G:
enjoy the scenery while we wait for progress
We can only hope, little man. 

This is how Perky gets her Perk!
I forgot how wonderful it is to wave goodbye and settle in with a cup of java cuddled close in the morning. I can't remember the last time I was alone this early!  Take time to smell the coffee...ahhh.  I may not get a thing done...but I won't feel too guilty because I have a full day from noon on.  I dream that, but I hear the laundry calling as I type.  "Hey Lady!  Clean me, sort me, fold me!  I'm yours!"
Reality calls, but it was nice to post before midnight!  Espresso myself!

Enjoy your day's journeys.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


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is like
we use
the negatives

...I saw this quote and it clicked for me. 
Perception is everything.
When the going gets tough, the tough get creative.
My wish for you:
Crop out the ugliness.
Focus your lens to create beauty and wonder.

Who says Sensory Diets have to be boring and sterile? 
G the spinnin' machine on a gorgeous fall day

My 3 incredible kids....the positives that color my world.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Adult Onset...Whatchamacallit

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M.C. Escher, Mind-Bending Visualist Extraordinaire

Recently I was chatting with a friend, I can't remember who or when, which will make more sense in a moment.  She was briefly interrupted by her ADHD ASD child, and she puzzled for a few moments to get back to her subject matter.  She said that she feels like she has ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) sometimes.  I told her I love her.  OK, now I remember who it was, which is good, since I professed my love and all. 

Mommy ADD: I''ve been claiming that for a few years.  Oops...irritated comments, smirks or puzzled looks remind me that I've forgotten something once again.   
Oh darn, it's flying again!
Darn, I'm flying my freak flag again.  Sigh.  I believe that having a child with special needs makes parents prone to ADD (maybe just kids in general).   In fact, I think we're prone to many disorders, short-term, temporary, call it what you want.   I'd like to see a study on that...hold on, let me google that...OCD.  In my case, I'm constantly on alert with my son, who is always on the move and an accomplished escape artist.  I must keep 2-3 steps ahead of him mentally to foresee where he'll go and predict what he'll do.  So staying on subject in a conversation - merely completing a sentence - is not a priority.  His sensory-induced fight-or-flight response becomes mine as well....SPD.  My eyes are always on the prize, I'm in panic mode....ADHD.  I feel horribly rude when trying to listen to a friend while my eyes dart rapidly, punctuated by sharp intakes of breath, accelerating to calls, warnings, and many times a running panic and battle.  It's a wonder I catch any conversation at all, because when I do indulge, I feel like I'm endangering my son by not keeping total focus on him.  I endure mini nervous breakdowns several times a day...Panic Disorder...Anxiety Disorder....Social Phobia....  

At the end of each day when the kids are asleep, which is not always an easy feat for ASD kids; I crumble into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), reliving the frightening moments of the day, vivid flashbacks playing out, letting my fears of what may have happened bubble over.  Woulda coulda shoulda...OCD rearing its ugly tentacles again.  Sometimes my husband is unfortunate enough to still be awake.  I may be worked up and ready to vent instead of exhausted and ready to escape.  Pity the poor patient man.   While he's relaxing and trying to chill/unwind before bed after a stressful 12-15 hour day, I unload.  How does he keep from getting worked up too?  He works hard to counterbalance my emotional purging: anger, guilt, fright, pride, delight, wonder.  I struggle to differentiate his calm from detachment. 

Gotta google "Google Addiction"
Is Google listed
in the dictionary as a noun AND a verb?

Or, I may jump on the computer to email or Facebook Escape-book.  I try to read at least 3 hours per day from my many sources of ASD materials.  I usually have at least 3 books from the library, a couple from friends, dozens of articles bookmarked on my desktop, or yahoo groups on several areas that I'm researching.  If I don't keep myself organized and on task, this research spirals out of control in a quick minute.  Authors, theories, programs, tests, sources, opinions, referrals, suggestions, warnings - keeping all of these topics straight can be a full load on a clear mind, let alone an exhausted one.  I often feel like I'm jumping all over the place in my research.  I've heard other special needs parents say that they can't seem to finish a book either.  I get curious about something that I'm reading and then search it out in another arena, "Hmmmm..let's see if there's current info or studies on that....Google".   If Google had frequent clicker points, I'd have some amazing trips in my bank.  The internet - with our immediate gratification society - promotes jumping around in subject matter.  Click here, sidebar suggestions, google ads, pop-ups litter our intellectual environment.  It's a wonder anyone ever has a complete thought.

 So I stay awake too late - researching, stressing, decompressing, reading or writing.  My attention flows between worries about my children, money, marriage, my miles-long list of must-dos, and friends/family who are going through rough times....Paranoia?  I pray, I worry, I cry, I laugh.  Sometimes all at once....Mania?  Depression?  Bi-Polar?  I need to cry, I love to laugh.  I try to find one thing funny or positive per day.  Usually it's several times an hour, some days I'm grasping to come up with just one.  That's life at DSM 4 Acronym Ave..

M. C. Escher
OK, so what was I talking about again?  Oh yeah, Mommy ADD.  Ha!  I figure I'm doing OK if I can keep my family's names straight, remember what day it is and keep schedules flowing, remember to defrost the chicken for dinner to keep stomachs full and gain/get my message across in necessary conversations, correspondence and business matters. 

Who am I and What have I done with myself?

So, if I forget what I was talking about, forget how I know someone, forget names, forget events, forget times, dates, places, or any other factoid that you may be expecting me to have at my immediate command; I apologize now.   For always, forever.  Let's call it my get-out-of excuses apology card.  No expiration date.  Please don't judge me or get irritated.  Or worse, think that I don't care.  I so want to be there for everyone, in the moment.  Instead I'm relegated to quick email/Facebook comments in between kids activities and projects...thank goodness for that or I'd be soooooo lonely.  I'm not senile (though closing in on 50), but I may be losing it.   I'm doing the best that I can to keep my family together, running smoothly; and ideally laughing, loving and ready for the world.  My priorities are right there and nowhere else.  I never, ever-ever-ever-ever forget to hug my kids and let them know how much they are cherished.  My commitment changed with an "I do", 2 beautiful babies with adoption certificates and a bio-baby miracle.  Nothing prepared me for the challenges I'm facing, and I've not lived a sheltered nor simple life - au contraire!  When I have time and trust, I have stories!   I'm not crazy, but I've seen it aplenty.  Ann Arbor, Art School, Advertising - those were the stable moments.  I hope someday to be able to socialize often and freely again, relaxed.  If that is not to be in my future of caretaker, I was blessed with that luxury for many years.  If I completely lose sight or forget about those fun carefree times, I have friends and photos to remind me.  You'll remember me, right?  We can wear name tags...

Friday, October 29, 2010

Haunting Melodies

I'll get you my pretty, and your little dog too - cackle cackle!
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A few tunes
to get you
and screeching
for Halloween...

No gore,
just music
and a bit of fun.

Punk Halloween Songs

Metal Halloween Songs

Oldies Halloween Songs

Country Halloween Songs

What's your favorite Halloween song ?  Please share.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Happy Swinging Halloween!

Homage to Halloween...
May cause excess swaying and bopping. 

Love this band!  Love the candy too!  :}

Squirrel Nut Zippers: Hell

Uploaded by RavenTV. - See the latest featured music videos.

The Band:

The Candy:
All gone!
The End


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Up, down, round and round

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I saw this wise quote today:
If you don't look up to them, don't let them look down on you. 

I'd add:
If they look down on you, don't look up to them!

G would add:
Just look sideways like I do!
In nearly all recent photos G's looking sideways. 
He's regressing back to that - gotta work on it again.
Still cute though!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Political Pundit

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Being an avid "Garage Sale-r", I taught my kids at a young age to watch for signs along the road.  They love the thrill of the hunt as much as I do - let's face it, most of what I'm looking for is for them!  G's no exception.  Between pointing out garbage trucks, mail trucks, fire trucks, holiday decorations, etc...G announces EVERY sign, every day, "Garage Sale!"  Car rides get deafeningly loud between my bad singing, laughing, lecturing or yelling, 3 kids being kids, traffic and G's loud broadcasts. 

G's learning that not every sign = Garage Sale.  We try to read signs to him to help him understand that each sign has different words and messages; to help him travel down that road to reading (apologies for the obvious pun).

This morning as we were driving through our sub, G recognized that the signs on front lawns were not "Garage Sale" signs, but something different.  G came up with his own new message - declaring,
"Poop Sale!"every few houses.  It took me a minute to notice that the signs he was labelling were political signs.

A really inconvenient name for a candidate
Yes, my silly G, you are more intuitive than we imagined.  Many agree that politicians are selling a load of poop!  Gotta love the innocent comments from children taken in a different context.   

I'll bet she wishes she had a crystal ball a few years back...

Be positively CONFUSED!
Really?   ...who talked him into this?

Funny Road Signs (aka: funny stuff I found online at 2:00 am)

 Real Poop Signs (aka: funny stuff I found online at 2:10 am.)
I'm sure glad they included the disclaimer!
Yes, you too can own this...
Wear it loud, wear it proud!