Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Special Exp/ Wordless Wednesday: Talk2Me

I am taking a parenting class series. The first night I heard a lot of information that I've already picked up before. But one statement hit home and I've been thinking about it ever since.

Even though not all our kids are verbal or eloquent, they will find ways to communicate with us, trying to tell us what they need.

I think of the running off, grabbing & throwing of things best left alone, the verbal stimming. Then my son will look at me like in the picture above when I try to talk with him. Goes nowhere fast. Very frustrating.

That class really turned on a light for me. Talk to me, James, I will try harder to listen with more than my ears.

For more great images or to share some of your own, Visit Special Exposure Wednesday at 5 Minutes for Special Needs.

5 Minutes for Special Needs
and ... Wordless Wednesday


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Fear & Loathing and Potty Training

Let's see, what is you that you loathe the most? Or: how badly does Mommy need to get you to go? AKA: motivation with toys and food is for the other guys.

James hates getting his hair washed. Okay, "hate" is too passive a word. I can only say that the thing he hates even more that getting his hair washed is having to hear the hair dryer. Kick it up a few powers of ten and that's how much he hates to have his own hair blown dry.

Confessions of a very human parent: I have used this as a means of last resort when he has refused to pass BMs and potty training (and his well-being and my temper) is headed into ugly meltdown territory.
  • Fact: James can hold onto this stuff for up to three days, and that's with added fiber (Miralax) and a suppository already added into the equation
  • Fact: Starting Day 2 he gets cranky and by day 3 he can't settle down for anything, cries at meals, and is really, truly unhappy (and still refusing to poop)
  • Fact: toys, books, and food will not motivate him to go

James' SHAPE assistant helped enormously by discovering that he'd still for a while on the toilet while playing a game on her iPhone. After about *20 minutes* he'd deliver the goods. Yay, so I ran right out and bought 2 $1 electronic, handheld video games at WalMart. Occasionally, he used his dad's iTouch. And all was serene for about month.

Then the motivation stopped working, and so did the potty training.

On day 3 of another standoff, at my wit's end, I told him (in as calm a voice as I could muster) to pass some BMs or he'd get a shower, with hair washing and hair dryer. He called my bluff and said "I want the bath tub". I turned on the taps and swung him off the toilet and over into the tub.
- "No!! I don't wanna!"
- "Okay, go poo-poo."

Back onto the toilet, and 3 seconds later, he had produced a magnificent specimen. Water went off and I gave him a hug and told him he'd done a great job.

This so goes against everything I've been told. Why do we keep going there?

I am happy to report that after a couple weeks of the shower/hair dryer ultimatum the BMs are getting easier for him to pass on a daily basis. He even does it on his own some days. Not every day, mind you.

Oh no. That would be too easy.

Sweetie, if you ever remember this period in time, please also remember that I love you very much and could not think of anything else.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

SOOC Saturday: Coach

James is here with one of his first therapists. Like some of the people we've worked with, she's become a friend, and has watched James progress from being nonverbal and smiling at nothing in the distance to talking and interacting with his peers and others.

Look at this picture, for instance. He tried to get her pink phone, but she's got his number and held it just out of reach. Look what he's grabbed instead ... James smiles when he sees her. I hope he remembers some of the fun they had together, rolling balls and playing with gears and monster truck parts.

She's taught us a lot about working with James and hanging in there as a parent. She is one dedicated woman who gets out the word for programs and helps fundraise for the groups that really get out there and help the kids. I can personally attest that she is a lot of fun to be with on a team, fundraiser, or coffee break!

Thanks for being there, Ronnie -- and all that you do!

The Slurping Life knows that a little vino (& a lot of love) can keep la vida from getting too loco. Visit Melody and check out SOOC Saturday/Sunday entries past & present. No cropping or fixing -- it's life, straight out of the camera.

SOOC Saturday


Thursday, April 22, 2010

More pictures from the walkathon ... James practically hopped and skipped his way up that first big hill. Then he got exhausted, caught his second wind, and began leaping and running some more ...

More of the pony girls and their pony. So sweet! And I could practically hear the cooing from 200 yards away (their admiring crowd):

We had our own cheering squad, about every tenth of a mile along. They were well-needed and threw their hearts into it!

James got a lot of support and motivation from his big sister, as always. She can always get him to learn and try new things, as well as become motivated to play and talk. She also keeps an eye on him and helps him stay a little more in control.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Special Exp. / Wordless Wednesday: Hi 5, ST-style

The Storm Troopers at last weekend's Autism Walkathon were awesome! After we crossed the finish line, they were there to meet and greet the crowd. As we came up to them, a bunch of the kids were hanging back. Did this bother James? Heck no! He went right up and gave the nearest trooper a high 5!

You know I am going to say it: "The Force is strong with this one!"

For more great images or to join in the fun, Visit Special Exposure Wednesday at 5 Minutes for Special Needs.

5 Minutes for Special Needs
and ... Wordless Wednesday

Monday, April 19, 2010

Magic Marker Monday: Feathers

Remember the art project with feathers and glue? It's dry!

I could not tell which James enjoyed more: squeezing the glue out onto the paper or picking out his feathers and laying them *just so* on the paper. I have rarely seen him so focused on a class project. Maybe it is time for more projects with glue. Those feathers are pretty fascinating.

James would check the feather's position carefully before putting it on the glue, sometimes nudging it into better position. This one is going up on his wall!

Visit 5 Minutes for Special Needs for more Magic Marker Monday.
Special Needs Blog    Photobucket


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Postcards From the Walk

That's some big hill! Reminds me of the line from Ghostbusters: "where do these stairs go?" "They go up!" There were 3 of these big suckers (not counting the 2 flights of up & down stairs) and the kids walked all of the first and half of each of the following ones. The double stroller is still doing yeoman's duty!

We had lots of animals keeping us company! Herds of sheep watched us go by, as they rested in or ate the hillsides of grass. Companion dogs on leashes trotted along gamely. We even had this little sweetheart, who was surrounded by many admirers.

Luckily, James was ready to walk. He has not done a straight 2-mile course with hills before... and I was proud of how well he did. The stairs and tunnels at the end definitely helped!

Tunnels? No one said we got to go through tunnels! And these tunnels went right under the main racetrack at Infineon. That made the day for the kids right there, I tell you.

It made my day to see so many people out there walking, and so many people supporting our efforts. Truly, it was uplifting!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

SOOC Saturday: We're Walking

We are walking today. Walking to support James. It's a bit like when he first learned to walk (a little late, but not too much). We're with him and cheer his efforts.

We give him some challenges and encourage him to succeed (and take pictures because we're so excited).

We're walking for him. For your guy or girl. We're walking for you. We're walking for answers. Because as far as we've come, there's much more to go.

Thank you everyone for your support. It means so much! If you want to know where we'll be today, check this out.

The Slurping Life has clear vision and a loving heart. Visit Melody and check out SOOC Saturday/Sunday entries past & present. No cropping or fixing -- it's life, straight out of the camera.

SOOC Saturday


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bright Colours

I love bright colours on James. They make him easy to spot and track in a crowd. They match his personality. I do not understand the concept of camouflage-patterned clothing for boys. I need to know what this guy is up to, and where he may be headed. The running away has tapered off, but he gets interested in many things and does not always stop and check in before he heads off to explore.

Hmmm, what to wear on Saturday at the Autism Walk? I think something red is a must for James. He loves to wear this colour. He's liked to wear yellow pullovers a lot this winter too, which brightens my day (although his smile is much brighter).

Thank you so much to everyone who's donated and supported us in this walk. It means so much!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Special Exp. / Wordless Wednesday: Stairs

What did James love most about the place where way stayed last week? Stairs! We don't have them in our house. I'd have let him climb them over and over ... except there was a room downstairs with a TV & VCR, and he just would NOT stay away from all those buttons ...

So we'd have some play time each day on the stairs. I think he liked the carpeting too. It's good to see him hanging on to railings and supporting himself, evening pulling himself up with his arms. He's been getting better at this on the monkey bars, and things like this help even more.

Although I doubt there will be stairs at the event, I plan to take my camera along this Saturday on the Walk for Autism Speaks and get a few special shots of James on his 2 mile walk with me. He is sure to find something fun to explore!

For more great images or to join in the fun, Visit Special Exposure Wednesday at 5 Minutes for Special Needs. Please, please, please -- check out today's Special Exposure Wednesday post. It brought tears to my eyes (good ones), because we went through something very similar with James last year, minus the boat. A very happy birthday to you, big guy!

5 Minutes for Special Needs
and ... Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tackle It Tuesday: Road Trip

Last week the kids and I hit the road to take advantage of Spring Break and being able to visit with friends. Although planning and packing for a 5 hour car trip and 3-day stay away from home has become more streamlined, it's still an ordeal. Toss in driving and round-the-clock childcare and the thrill of a good challenge gets even better.

Luckily, the kids are good travelers, having become acquainted at a tender age with I-5 and 400+ mile jaunts. I have learned that when traveling, lists are my friend. It helps me when I pack up at home and when it's time to go home. The kids are learning how to pack their own suitcases. Travel Light can actually be our motto now.

Last Tuesday well all hit the beach. Lucky us in SoCal, where it was sunny and warm. The water was cold but the sand was toasty. James actually played in the waves by himself and enjoyed the advance/retreat rhythms of their dance. He grabbed handfuls of wet, gloppy sand and threw them at the waves. He rolled and crawled in the warm sand. He seemed to enjoy walking on the pebbly patches of beach in his bare feet. He sidled away to slide at the play area.

The kids' Easter beach towels were christened and I used all the extra towels in the van. Hey, I know where my towels are ... I am a frood and hoopy mom.

There was packing and unpacking of clothes and groceries. Exploration of where we stayed and our friends' house. Cooking and eating of good food by all, and consumption of strawberries and fine sherry by the grownups. I kept up the potty training, did 5 loads of laundry and ran 4 dishwasher loads while we were there. Oh, and gave 2 baths to remove approximately 10 pounds of sand from my children.

I know it's counter-intuitive to say that we tackled a vacation and won, but that's almost what it felt like!

This Saturday, we'll be tackling the Walk for Autism Speaks. We are looking forward to it!

What was your challenge? Read and be inspired at Tackle It Tuesday on 5 Minutes for Mom. Post your own story to share with other Tacklers.

Tackle It Tuesday

Monday, April 12, 2010

Magic Marker Monday: "F"

Because James' regular school was off last week and his second school was not, there was no SHAPE and I got to sit in on James' Friday morning preschool class. There I got to help James sit for circle time, play at recess, and work on his crafts.

The feather project was awesome! But in the flurry of glue and feathers I dared not get out the camera. The Frog book was much easier, as only crayons were required. We all read this charming little 4-page book together (twice) and then social sciences swung into action!
The table with all girls coloured their frogs purple, as 2 of the more outgoing girls loudly declared them to be cool. Our table had some variety. James decided that at least one of his frogs needed to be red. I helped rearrange his fingers so his hold on the crayon was less of a death fist grip. Once he finished colouring all the numbers and his one frog, he swirled both hands on the page with 2 different colours. He liked this so much that he continued on the back of the page. And then he wrote his name in yellow!

We are gearing up for our walk this coming Saturday at Infineon Raceway. If you haven't heard about Walking for Autism, please take a moment to look at my pledge page and consider helping Autism Speaks advocate for more research and answers for our children and ourselves.

Visit 5 Minutes for Special Needs for more Magic Marker Monday. View the artists at work or share your creativity!
Special Needs Blog

Saturday, April 03, 2010

SOOC: Invisible Victories

James eating with a spoon

Looks simple, doesn't it? A kid eating ice cream. But it's really several victories.

  • James is sitting down in a chair at an outdoor restaurant and *staying seated*
  • James is using a spoon properly and on his own. This is huge. He used to not be able to grasp a spoon properly. Often times he'd lose control of his wrist, and the spoon and its contents would flop upside down.
  • He's trying something new. That's not ice cream, it's a Dole Whip, and he wants to eat the whole thing! Both my kids are picky eaters, and I love it when they discover something new to love to eat.
  • James is talking, telling me it's yummy

I see things differently since we started on this journey with James. I stop and look more. There is so much to see.

Slurping Life is on vacation this week. Happy Easter weekend wishes to you all.

Friday, April 02, 2010

World Autism Awareness Day

If you've visited this blog before, you might notice a change in how it looks. In honour of Autism Awareness Month and World Autism Awareness Day, I've changed to design to blue, the colour of World Autism Awareness Day.

The United Nations has made April 2 a special day. I just have to pull out a quote from the Secrety-General's message:
"Let us also look within, and re-evaluate our attitudes and those of our societies so we can remove the prejudices that discriminate against persons with disabilities."
-- Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Message for World Autism Awareness Day, 2 April 2010

I'd also like to post that I will be participating in this year's Autism Speaks Autism Walk. Here is a link to my fundraising page. Please take a moment to visit for more information about the walk, why I am walking, or to find out how you can help.

Yes, awareness about autism is getting more mainstream, but there is a long way to go for finding answers and knowing what causes autism, understanding why this is happening, and being able to take steps to prevent it from our children being born with this condition in increasing numbers:

As a parent, though, I will always be worrying about how to help James and make the best choices for him (for as long as he needs me to do that). I keep reading as much as I can and trying to keep perspective that this is all work in progress. I will celebrate all the good times and triumphs. I will keep loving him and advocating for answers.
photo by C Chung of the Press Democrat

Thursday, April 01, 2010

In Your Face

James has been testing us a lot lately. His schedule started to fall apart even before Spring vacation, and without the familiar people and routines he has started to test us all to see how far he can go.

You say "come on, James, let's go here" and he runs the other way, laughing. Even better, he'll sidle while looking at you with an expectant, gleeful look of anticipation. Stinker! I say that with love.

He will grab onto things and laugh, throwing them if you try to get him to put it back down. This afternoon I caught him petting another preschooler's hair, ignoring the boy's polite request to stop it.

He will ask to do something and, if met with a "no", he will smile big and reply "Mommy said ... YES!!!" Or I will ask him to do something and he will say "NO! I don't wanna!" and try a couple of tricks ...

The ultimate reminder of consequences of ignoring us *used* to be "Do you want to have a time-out in a corner?" Not so much any more. It works at school still, but not at home. The ultimate recapitulator is now the threat of making him take a shower, followed by hair washing and Darth HairDryer. But that kind of sets up a negative reinforcement for personal hygiene, so I can't really use that one. Unfortunately.

I keep telling myself this is a step forward. His teachers tell me most kids go through phases like this. And I would rather he be in my face, an adorable little boy pest, than quietly sitting in a corner, looking off in the distance into nothing that I can see, which is what he was doing at age 2.