Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Bike Safety 101

mopedAfter leaving G’s “Bike Camp”, PEAC’s at-your-own-pace bike riding/safety summer course, I had a quick errand to run.  While driving through downtown Ann Arbor, MI, I suddenly slammed on my brakes, alerting G out of his itouch reverie. 
G, “Whoa, what happened?”
I explained to him that a Scooter Bike from oncoming traffic had pulled right in front of me to make a left turn. Then she made a face and yelled something at me.
“What was she thinking?!?  If I had not stopped, we would’ve hit her!” I finished.  "She needs a bike safety course!"

G in an amazed voice, “Are we in New York?” 
Love the randomism, another one that has me shaking my head, wondering where that connection came from...maybe a movie? 

More about PEAC:

PDQ #6

"Mmmmmmmm," I called for my daughter from the foot of the stairs.

G answered, "She can't come.  She's busy laughing."


Monday, July 25, 2011

PDQ #5

G picked up a random book on the way out to VBS,
"I've got my homework, Mom!"

Thursday, July 21, 2011

PDQ #4

Perky’s Daily Quirk (PDQ).

As we waited at the front door for N and M’s camp carpool, I realized G was too quiet in the kitchen where I’d left him.  Sure enough…

2011-07-21 12.48.50

  G when he saw my face, “What??? I wanted these purple things, but I didn’t know how to do it.”

LOL.  Nice try, kiddo.  Yuck!  He was licking his whole hand and digging in the bag. 

Note to self: next time we make Koolaid, put away the sugar immediately!  A brand new 5 lb. bag!  Glad it’s fairly cheap.


Love it! Welcome to my new segment. Do you have a daily-ism to share? Share it!


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

PDQ #3

Perky’s Daily Quirk (PDQ)
G wanted to show his PEAC "Bike Camp" teacher his craft from “PBS” (VBS, Vacation Bible School)…
2011-07-19 13.35.58

"Do you think he'll like my 'fish flops' glasses?"

He did so well today, he's getting a bit ahead of himself, maybe the sharp shades lend him confidence.  Hot smile  It’s all about looking cool, lol. 

He tried starting himself, and did.  But as always, when he 2011-07-19 13.53.04falls/fails, he takes a few steps back.  His instructor quickly got him back on track and instead had him work on turns with an obstacle course today.  PEAC has magic crumple cones that bounce right back into shape.  Brilliant! 
I adore his intense concentration. 
Go G!

Love it! Welcome to my new segment. Do you have a daily-ism to share? Share it!

More about PEAC:

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

PDQ #2


Perky’s Daily Quirk (PDQ).

Temps are forecasted to be in the high 90’s all week.  When I made out my grocery and meal plan for the week, I decided cool had to rule.  No oven or stove usage, just micro or fridge items.  Yesterday I made a large batch of my family pleaser Tuna Noodle Salad.  It fits the bill as having a little from each food group when I serve it with fresh fruit. 

Today as we came in for a quick lunch, M grabbed the noodle salad from the fridge, “I’m starving!  I’m Summertime_Tuna_Pasta_Saladmaking a tuna noodle salad sandwich.”  LOL, now that’s some serious carb loading!  Of course I stopped her, but my lucky skinny mini M could pull it off.


Love it! Welcome to my new segment. Do you have a daily-ism to share? Share it!

PDQ #1


Perky’s Daily Quirk (PDQ). 

I made up my own acronym for quick snippets of life that I’ve coined daily-isms. Growing up, we said PDQ (Pretty Darn Quick) to mean: get a move on!  Here goes, can’t wait to share the lively fun of our daily-isms via PDQ.

G, “Owww, something just bit my tooth!” 

Love it!  Welcome to my new segment.  Do you have a daily-ism to share?  Share it! 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Talkin’ Trash

Garbage trucks have been G’s obsession since birth it seems.  I’m pretty sure we have every garbage truck toy under $50 made in the last 5 years, and a couple really cool pricey ones too (thanks, GodMom Aunt Karen, Aunt Chris and Santa!).  Luckily for us, the Garbage G's 4th bday party cake8 (2)Truck market has grown with G.  A very happy coincidence indeed.  With the push for “green” living, greater emphasis is put upon recycling, saving the planet, and living less toxic lives.  Thus, the garbage and recycle truck market has exploded.  In a good sense, it can be a great learning tool for ecology.  G’s interest goes waaaaaay beyond that.  G has plenty of real Garbage Trucks to watch (worship).  They’re EVERYWHERE!!!!!!  Why did the boy cross the road?  To get to the next trash can!   I used to be an avid garage sale-r, but after a few incidents, necessity dictated that I go only when G is at school.  At the height of his obsession, I caught him inspecting peoples’ garbage cans, actually lifting the lids and peeking in while I checked out a sale.  Strangers!  Though, does that distinction really matter when discussing garbage?  Yikes!  We dare not go for neighborhood walks on trash days, G will insist upon checking out the various garbage cans. We live in a semi-rural area where we pay private companies for our trash removal and recycling.  What that means is lucky G sees garbage trucks and bins of all styles, shapes and colors 3 days a week.  His excitement when pink trash cans appeared (for Breast Cancer Awareness) was stellar, comparable to Christmas morning.  Really.  I’m a bit bummed that we didn’t get one.  During one preschool year I had to alter our schedule to allow extra time for G to wait and watch our truck.  After they finished our court, we’d jump in the car and travel behind them so that G could watch the whole process.  Holiday weeks became a nightmare – trash pickup was totally off schedule and we often missed the trucks on their altered schedules. For 2 years, no matter what we were doing, all household/play activity had to halt for 10 minutes while G trailed the truck’s path via windows throughout the house or running out to the front yard to watch.  I had to draw the line at following random garbage trucks while out driving.  I/we endured many a loud and heartbreaking tantrum as G mourned a missed opportunity. 

When G began his love affair with the giant green trucks, I was hard-pressed to find any Gahbig Twuck (GT) items.  So I searched online - and lo and behold – discovered YouTube (squeals of delight and thunderous applause).  I was in awe of the huge variety of clips dedicated to garbage that YouTube offered - over 25,000!!!  What???  There are videos of garbage trucks doing nothing more than collecting trash, dumping it, operating the truck, driving to the next home or business - over a million hits!  Amazing. 

My G was mesmerized and replayed them over and over.  He became a YouTube junkman junkie at 2.  I lost my iTouch to G’s vast WasteLand.  Smile   It was worth it to see him happy and seated to allow for a quick shower or housework.  G quickly learned how to search for vids and save them to favorites for a quick GT fix.  Convenient!  He was elated to find other kids who had the same love (fixation) as him.  There are currently over 1000 GT toy clips on YouTube.  Wow, I really outta video G with his fleet.  He watches 9 minute videos of kids playing with their GT’s.  Some toy trucks make noises, move via batteries, others are totally kid-powered. 

G found vids with veteran garbage men or truck companies showing off new or vintage trucks, bragging a about their features and stats like a classic car owner.  I was dumbfounded by the vast world of GT lovers.  I fought it for a short while, for decorum sake (ewwww), then finally gave in. 

G was happy enough without actual GT toys.  He made everything in his day relate to GT’s.  This was the only imagination he showed at this point.  He’d scoop his cereal into the bowl, with GT sound effects.  He’d load blocks, Legos, rocks, acorns, paper from our shredder (a vacuuming nightmare!) mud, sand, grapes, coins, you name it – into trucks or large Gladware or box “trucks”; use cups, plastic laundry caps, small boxes as the trash cans.  He did this EVERYWHERE. 

Sept. 2009 146 (2)Sept. 2009 145 (2)

Sept. 2009 151 (2)Sept. 2009 152 (2)

Sandcastles?  Nope.  Makeshift garbage collection on vacation.  Note the intensity of his play.  He gives Dad instructions on how he’ll dump it, and as seen in the last pic, obviously it’s not carried out the way he planned it.  Epic fail.

When we started OT, no matter what plan his therapist made, he’d somehow work in a baby blocks toy that he’d turned into a garbage loading operation.   She eventually, patiently gave in (as we all did)and incorporated his obsession into his therapy theme.  He attended wonderfully, until it was time to transition into something non-trash oriented.  Sigh.  We love you, fun Mrs. Cake! 

G could be seen in the neighborhood and around town in a world of his own, TrashTown, G’s GreenScene, Halloween 006 (2)GarbageRUs, etc.  We had to laugh or we’d be mortified.  He’d act out elaborate trash pickup scenarios, using shhhhh (brakes) rmmmm (gears, acceleration) and beep beep beeps (back-ups).       

G’s custom “G the Garbage Guy” Costume,  he carried a small trash can for trick-or-treating.  Living the dream! 

During one instance I was walking with G as he travelled the neighborhood acting out his imaginary garbage truck route.  He’d stop, pretend to open a mailbox (stand-in trash can).  He really did open the first few mailboxes until I told him he’d be arrested.  Drastic I know, but he’s darn headstrong and prone to outrageous tantrums.  He repeatedly played out his dramatic scene of lifting the imaginary trash cans, loading them on the lifter, emptying in GT, pushing buttons, hitting smasher, reimagesCAZFL4N5turning garbage cans, driving off, etc.  No deviation from the process, no words, just sweeping arm motions, body shifts, sound effects.  EVERY. HOUSE. IN A 1 MILE CIRCLE OF OUR NEIGHBORHOOD!  Our next door neighbor who’s a real sweetie joined us about 3/4’s way through and it took 30 mins. to get home.  She patiently came along and chatted with me (at me, actually).  I was concentrated on G’s safety, leading an unwilling G back to the sidewalk after each pretend garbage dump, instead of travelling the street like he wanted to, “But I’m a Gahbig Twuck!”  Bless her for coming along and trying to have a nice neighborly talk.  We’re lucky to have supportive, kind neighbors.

G was potty trained using my “Garbage Out, Garbage In” System(patent pending, all rights reserved, trademark, copyright, pinky swear, cross my heart, etc.)  LOL.  After 2 years of failed Potty Training schemes, I scoured every department store toy aisle and toy store in a 30 mile radius and bought a few Hot Wheels/Matchbox special edition toytruckcity 4 (2)$5 GT jobbies, bought a few from Ebay (shout out to the nice toy dealer in Ohio who threw in a few extras that he found at a toy show).  I put them and a few other cool treasures into an large empty clear pretzel bin.  I displayed it prominently, talked it up, and began giving him his choice each time he went potty with no accident Yup, he got big $3-$5 prizes – several the first day, but he was trained in a few days.  I gave him LOTS of H2O to drink.  I got a Bruder truck catalog and let him peruse it while on the potty with a promise of getting one when he went 1 week with no accidents, pee and poop.  Sure enough, we made a big ordeal out of our trip to the toy store, got it wrapped beautifully (only available at pricey posh stores = free wrap) just so he could rip it open in the car on the way home and push all the buttons.  Worked, as nothing else had worked just in time for his 4th birthday….what a long haul…pun totally intended.

compacting-recycle-truck-6048[1] (2)I used to print off GT line drawings from the web for him to color.  He wanted dozens, and would scribble them all green and hang them everywhere.  He constantly wanted his big bro N to draw them for him.  G has never liked drawing or writing until this year.  Handwriting OT finally sunk in enough to motivate him and get him comfortable writing (not well, but that will come).  His first drawing – not people or houses or animals or cars like most kids start out with.  A Garbage Truck.  With Garbage Cans and recycling bins.  Of course he included the big WM (Waste Management) logo on the side, his fave.

I could write a full book just on G’s obsession with Garbage Trucks (I capitalize because we hold them in such reverence at our home).  Friends and neighbors tell him that they think of G every time they see a garbage truck.  Cute or ick?  I wouldn’t say I embrace it, but I just have to accept it.  Hooray for garbage!

Garbage Trucks Galore:  Toys, fun books, DVD’s, wooden model build-it kits by Melissa and Doug


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Hide and Go EEK!


G hide and seekAutism, AD/HD...Meet your friends: OCD -Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, TS - Tourette's Syndrome, Anxiety.  They’ve been hiding, lurking in shadows, waiting to pop out when we least expect it. 
When we let our guard down, basking in our achievements and moving towards further progress. Boo!  We’re baaaaaack! You’ve met them before, we thought they were just casual friends we knew a long time ago.  But now they've returned for an extended visit like an unwelcome relative.  Yikes!  Yup, G's newly renovated space has been invaded (so by default, our family too). 

Eek!  At our last med check, I was blindsided emotionally by the additional Dx's, though I knew intellectually, and from recent research/googling tics and side effects of meds.  No doubts, no easy solutions.  G’s MD softened the blow by saying, G’s not classically autistic, but high functioning.  He’s OCD, but not all-consuming, life-inhibiting (yet).  He’s Tourette’s, but not obscene or disturbing.  ADHD meds have highlighted (stimulants - stimulated) our hiding friends, causing them to appear en force.  No subtle sneaking in, but a wild cacophony of a crash landing.  But thinking back, looking at my reams of paperwork, they were there all along.  Now that G can stop, think, focus -  he's over-focused.  So much that he's/we're at our wit's end.  Tourette's (vocal and physical repetitive behaviors) bothered us all so much that I reported his behaviors to his MD to see if we could find an instant fix.  We’re trying new meds for G and now the OCD is bothering us so much that we hardly notice the Tourette's. 

rollercoaster (3)We're on a wild roller-coaster...a manic ride complete with thrills, screams, nausea, head rush, headaches, begging, arm waving, eyes shut tight, teeth clenching laughs and tears. 

This can't be happening, I haven't finished my readings on autism!  I’m only beginning to grasp AD/HD.  Sigh.  If only it were this simple.  I'd laugh, but I'm too busy researching (and writing partial blogs).  C'mon, God(dess) of Autism: we were just making headway on social stories and safety issues!  Sometimes it seems no 2 days are alike.  We seem to drown in the sea of alphabet soup that was once my miracle baby boy with the shining smile, bright eyes and gorgeous blonde ringlets.  Where G used to want to do, go - moving in obsessive sensory-seeking mode, or conversely to hide and avoid certain sensory stimuli - he now has objects and rituals to protect his sensitive psyche.  Is this progress?  Surely it doesn’t feel like it.  These OCD manifestations just break my heart.   Painful to the core.  He gets anxious, intent that he MUST have some obscure thing a particular way.  He cries, whines, repeats the question, paces, throws tantrums, follows us around.  Talks to himself (that's entirely new, I don't like it). 

I've started and abandoned several unfinished posts in the past few months.  Some elated posts about our long avoided, newfound miracle of pharmacotherapy: ADHD meds (cue Alleluia choir!).

Others posts wondering, speculating, more research.  Others about my quest for help with his kindergarten IEP.  I'm breaking the cycle of leaving them unpublished.  It seems I can’t publish, can’t call a friend, if I can’t make a positive out of a negative.  I strive to find a way to spin the truth into hope.  Truth is, at times I’m so bewildered, so exhausted from coping that I just CAN’T spin cheer.  I must learn to give up and share.  This is about truth, not about being a happy mom. 

I'll return to the many posts I’ve begun and try to glean some understanding of this slippery slope.  We will not, can NOT give up G's focus and attention.  He's begun to spring forth and show personality, buried thoughts and knowledge that were hidden beneath his fight or flight sensory system.  The first day the meds worked he began citing mathematic equations in the car!  Simple addition, buG focust better than Garbage Truck talk for sure!  Winking smile  That week he began reading.  Real, sound it out, beginning reading.  He knew all along.  He began performing better at sports, showing an incredible stamina and drive to succeed in Taekwondo, basketball, swimming, now bicycling.  What else is G hiding in that wondrous mind?  We look forward to finding out as we try to lessen his anxiety, his obsessions, his tics.     


An arrow can be shot

only by pulling it backwards.

When life is

dragging you back with difficulties....

it means that its going to

launch you into something great.



Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Sensory Sensei

Sensory Situations stink. And echo. And push. And spin. And kick. And whine. And screech.  And run. And hide.  And hit.  And bite.
But not this weekend.  I'm so proud of my G for holding it together with so much sensory overload this weekend.  What a trooper!  Fireworks, party with lots of friends, family. Lots of food, sweets, bonfire, swimming in a deep pool, boating, tubing for the first time (with his sister, slowly), swimming in a lake with deep brown water, waterskiing show, more fireworks.  Giant shout out to his siblings, who provided G with oodles of support.  Love those kids!  Proud of them all!

My G fell asleep in the car last night, first time in I can' t even recall how long.  So unusual- he can be sleeping at Grandma's or wherever - but wakes up the second we put him in the car and jibber jabbers away, the whole way home.  Most kids, even my 11 and 12 year old, fall asleep easily in the car.  G perks up, another puzzle piece.

Today he woke me at 7 to say, "Mom, I'm about to puke," and did.  He got it out over the next hour, then was as good as new, bouncing around and mishief-making.  This afternoon he took a long nap, another oddity.  He's not sick, as far as I can tell, it could possibly be somthing he ate. But honestly, I think it's his nerves/anxiety.  He's holding himself together, working so hard to not freak out, that he sort of collapses when he can.  I think his vomiting is from nerves.
I hope that I'm wrong.  As much as I want him to self-regulate I don't wish him anxiety, worry or fear.
I'm seeing a trend of those emotions lately with him; an over-serious, somber, worrywort and apologetic side. 

Another set of worries to keep my eye on.  The worries rarely come alone these days, always they seem a house of cards, or a which one has more pros than cons scenario.  I like G's compliance to rules, increased attention and awareness - but don't want him to stifle it inside.  No  stress for my little silly, bouyant 5.5 year old.  He's got way too many hurdles to jump simply making it through a mundane day.  Nothing is mundane for our sensory-sensitive kiddos.  If you're not familiar with sensory issues, watch Temple Grandin's movie ( on DVD).  The one that took so many oscars last year.  Besides an incredible portrayal of sensory, social and flat speech manners, it's an amazing film to boot.
No worries, G.  We've got your back.  For always and forever. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

PEAC Performance

Thanks to PEAC (Programs to Educate All Cyclists), my G is learning to ride a bike at his own pace.  I'd given up a weeks ago, introducing the idea every few days, but I didn't have much hope for success.  I've tried to get him bicycling time and again, but he always goes for the scooter toys (my nickname for him is Scooter).  To motivate him, last year I even let him pick out a brand new bike in his favorite color.  The training wheels kept getting wonky, causing him to fall.  He had difficulty with the concept of pedalling, doing so backward which of course stopped him. He then had a really hard time getting going, so I'd push-start him every 5 feet.  We tried family rides, but I had to abandon my bike to help him out.  The other kids would be a block+ ahead - and bless them -  they'd wait patiently until I would call out to move on.  Impulsivity and distractedness was a problem for G last year.  He'd stop and examine every little object of interest.  Typical of autism, he was more interested in the parts than the function.  He loves to flip it over to spin the wheels, or tooting the horn, and revving the vroom vroom tachometer on the handle.  Basically, he wasn't motivated.  I never figured out if it was because he couldn't, or just wasn't ready.  This year he took an interest in his big bro's Razor scooter, so I gave in and ordered one for him in his favorite color.  He rides that around expertly, which I believe has contributed to his confidence.  But still, his neon green bike sat waiting. 

So when I learned about PEAC bike program through a presentation at Autism Collaborative Center, I knew it would be perfect for G.  PEAC helps individuals with cognitive, physical, and emotional disabilities reach their cycling goals (and much, much more - follow link).  This week was his 1st week of their 7 week summer program, his "Assessment" appointment.  They truly worked with him from the ground up, they work to the child's level and needs, often just putting on a helmet or simply touching the bike is the goal.  Their methodology is so cool: with G they started him walking the bike: sitting on the seat, minus pedals, so it was less awkward.  Next they had him push off, scoot, push, scoot, etc.  I never would have thought to have him practice this way, getting a feel for the bike, balancing skills, and just teaching "where the ground is" helped to take the fear/intimidation factor out. 
They put the pedals back on the bike when he agreed that he was up for the challenge, ready to ride.  The instructor walked/ran next to the bike, holding him to keep him upright and moving. G's balance is terrible, so that guidance is important.  At the session's end, he rode about 5 feet on his own!  Stopping with handbrakes and making turns are going to be a challenge.  Balance and spatial awareness are sadly lacking in him.  I'd love to get to the point where we can take a family ride and not have to assist him every step (roll) of the way. 

I learned that his bike was not a good fit.  I brought it along, figuring it would be best to train him on his own bike.  They explained that smaller bikes don't give as much leverage as larger bikes do, making them harder to pedal.  Also, they discourage training wheels in favor of learning the correct way to balance.  After his assessment, the entire ride home he talked about which bike of his big bro's he wanted to ride (we've saved them to hand down to G).  It turned out to be a perfect fit, same size that he trained on with PEAC.  He wanted to ride right away, but we had sporting events.   After the night's activities, we took him to a parking lot to practice.   He was so eager to practice and show off his new skills.  His face was set in an intense expression of concentration.  I had to choke back tears while cheering him on.  His big bro N took the place next to him and held his seat (thankfully, because I have back problems).  He went on longer jaunts (15 feet or so) on his own, wobbling along, but fiercely determined.  When he turned he fell.  To stop, he dragged his toes or fell.  At one point he turned and kept going, jumping a curb and stopping just before a drop off to a swampy area.  Yikes!  He rode until sunset.  He was thrilled to go back for his PEAC session today, and I was too!  :)

PEAC has many adaptive bike styles for use with students' unique needs.  G was curious, they let him explore, try to ride, and explained the bikes to him.  The instructors were all respectful, patient, encouraging and it was obvious that they love their work.  Many of them are college students who are working towards a  therapy or special needs degree, so they're well-versed in various needs, behaviors and best practices.  As a treat after working him on the 2-wheeled 20" bike, they took him for a ride on a tandem bike.  They explained that it teaches pedalling rhythm, balance and the feel of riding well.

I hope that this kind of organization is made available everywhere.  What a fun, family-oriented, useful skill to teach. Bike riding uses large muscle groups, making it wonderful sensory input.  Best part: the feel of the breeze, speed and freedom are exhilarating.

To read about this amazing program and how it got started, read this article:

PEAC's Website:

I can't wait to join in on a weekly family bike ride with PEAC, and enjoy family bike rides in our neighborhood.