Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Airport Run

"Can we go somewhere?" is a common James question these days.

On early evenings like tonight, this is still our go-to spot:





For those of you at home who answered "Airport" - you win!

Santa Rosa still has a pretty sleepy little airport, despite recent growth. The REACH helicopters continue to be fascinating. The blinking blue and red lights are fun, and when the sun goes down, the colours in the sky and surroundings are magnificent.

We watch the planes take off and wonder where they are going. We wave them goodbye and tell them we hope they have a good trip. It feels like our family airport.

Then we take the back roads for the short trip home.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Golden of Age Summer Ballooning

Last month, James came with me again to the annual balloon festival. It's become our local, early riser, early Summer activity to do together.

This year, crowds were more manageable. Prices were up slightly. No Star Wars balloons, but there was a hand painted map of the Earth, brand new this year.

Pictures, saying 1,000 words:











Thursday, July 27, 2017

Flies

We are cleaning and moving house. The worst part for James was not the disorganization and tossing of items, as I'd feared, but FLIES in the house.

Oh, James and FLIES.

His reactions are much calmer, but FLIES stop everything for him. Unfortunately for him, it is high summer, and many FLIES are out and about. They come inside as people, boxes, and furniture go in and out.

For many years, I have been chief arachnid and insect wrangler in the household. James therefore would get a roll of newspaper and hand it to me reverently, telling me: "You can get that FLY over there. Look, come and see. It's right HERE." And I would be taken by the hand and led to said FLY.

After the first day, I was DONE with FLIES.

James rose to the occasion. He got strategy, and slammed a window shut, trapping several FLIES between the pane and the screen. He became best buds with Bueller, the FLY-eating wonder cat. He Chased them down patiently and quietly with wads of paper towels in his hand, and GOT the FLIES!!!!

Every day, there are new FLIES to discover, hunt, and eradicate. We will be so happy when there are no more FLIES in the house.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

More About Summer Camps at BGC

Our local Boys and Girls Club has an ideal location, in between a park I used to take the kids to and James' current school. This means he can walk there after school and they can use the park so the kids can run around outside. James can even sign himself in. The staff is great with all the kids. I like what I've seen about reinforcing safety, respect, and caring. While I've received a couple of phone calls and requests to talk with the director when picking up James, any issues regarding behaviours are dealt with as calmly as possible, and they include James in the process, which is great.


Homework time and loud levels in the Teen Room can trigger behaviours. We are working on addressing this with James being more mature in requesting a break and the Staff doing what they can to accommodate us while keeping track of all the kids present. 

Summer camp is fun time! While I'd love to drop James off for a full day, so far it seems to work best to give him some quiet time before hitting camp. Every week has a theme. This week they are making films on an iPad with a partner. I can hardly wait to see what he's done.

One week they focused on cooking, and James made his own pizza and ate it for lunch. Wow. My picky eater, making and eating his own lunch! I swoon. James is eating lunch with his group! Again, I swoon. I hear tales (albeit brief and a bit garbled) about touch football games, goofy friends, and club staff nicknames and news on our ride home. It feels so good.

It makes me feel happy that James is not missing out on summer, fun things his peers are enjoying, and opportunities to learn new things. James seems pretty happy too!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Field Trip: Driven Raceway

Towards the middle of Spring, I began to plan for summer. Thanks to Friends of the North Bay Regional Center, I was able to sign James up for summer camp sessions at the local Boys and Girls Club. I told him I could afford two field trips during summer camp, which he could choose.

Without hesitation, James said he wanted to go to the dance field trip and go cart racing. The dance was a huge hit. When I picked him up he was glowing. The go cart trip was today.

Because James has never driven anything, except a video game, I thought it would be good to to a pre-field trip the night before and show James where he'd be going, and prepare him for go cart noises.

We got to Driven Raceway about 30 minutes to closing time. The place was empty and the staff hanging out. When James and I entered, they asked if they could be of help. I asked how noisy the carts were, explaining that my son had a field trip tomorrow but had never driven a go cart. They immediately offered to drive a cart around, so James could get used to the speed and sounds.

Wow, can they zip!! And thankfully they are much quieter than I thought they'd be. The staff was so friendly and courteous. They asked James his name and told him they'd look out for him the next day.

Result: another great field trip for James! James says he is glad we did the pre-field trip, so he could look forward to the real field trip even more.

Monday, July 24, 2017

So Close ....

We are sitting in an air conditioned Starbucks near our house. Yard workers surprised us at said house with weed whackers and loud trimmers and leaf blowers. James quietly lost it. It's not the yells and screams of yore, but a quiet, constant, relentless "Mother, Mother, Mother ... please. Can we go drive on Chalk Hill Road?" ... "Mother, why are they here?" Over and over, shifting restlessly through the house, until I can feel my blood pressure rise and I can't think.

Bad time for that because I am trying to tie up loose ends, keep paying bills on time, and research finding a new home for us.

So ... plans out the window (again) and we are at Starbucks, where it's cool, free wifi is available for our Kindles, and I can try to make a couple calls. Also, there is iced tea, with lime slices.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Don't Panic.

Thank goodness I hit the gym before all this hit me. I did not work out very much, but I did get a very calming 15 minutes of Elsewhere and nice shower.

James is holding up remarkably well, with the divorce and breakup of our family. People coming and going in his life. Starting junior high and spending more time at Boys and Girls Club. He is doing a great job of letting me know what he needs.

Yes, these setbacks are frustrating as all get out. But we are still moving forward. I am proud of how far he's come.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Autism Awareness - With Us 365

April 2 is International Autism Awareness Day. It's the 9th year of observing the effects autism has for an individual, family, and our communities. The international agenda includes this topic, which is of interest to James and I this year: The Road to Independent Living: From Early Intervention through College

At school, home, and the after school program, a gradual shift from therapy and intervention toward life skills and independent living has begun. James is 12, it's only 6 more years until he is 18. I am so used to thinking of him as 6 years old. Time to shift the horizon.

James is getting life skills for living alone, phone etiquette, cooking, and laundry. I've started handing him money and talking through transactions, such as paying for pizza at Little Caesar's or the grocery store. I have started a program of writing letters to family and texting, using my phone.

He is rocking the hygiene chart the O/T helped set up for him. His math program was enhanced and he is now bringing home chapter books to read. He is doing all this new homework independently now. Often all I need to do is double-check what he has done.

 The Boys and Girls Club have started to help support discussions about hobbies and joining socially with others. James is able to complete homework during the time for that. He is using a calculator correctly. He has started to "get" their talks about work he can do and enjoy to support himself when he is older.

I am thankful James has services, and a good team working with us this year. While not much is known for sure about autism, it has been a constant companion to me, 365 days a year, since 2007, starting with uneasiness when James did not hit milestones at age 18 months in 2006. Where we are right now is so much better than I'd feared when we started out. We still have a long way to go.