Thursday, February 28, 2013

Fear and Loathing Die Hard

After yesterday's post about Sunday's experience with discrimination during a school outing, I thought about how lucky we have been, for the most part. James is engaging and has been working with tight teams at school and in an accepting community. Our town is about to host its 3rd annual Walk Now for Autism Speaks fundraising event.

There are times when I get looks and overhear comments about about need for discipline/out of control behaviour.  Friends and family members make assumptions that sometimes hurt, but hey -- c'est la vie, eh? We are so much more supported by those around us than not.

That's why this article took the day down for me: Google Eliminates "Die" Search Suggestion for Autism. I know, from reading online comments on news stories, these attitudes are out there on a wide variety of subjects.

But really? All the screen shots below are from this afternoon on my own laptop. I started the search, and Google added what people commonly go for (I assume). How sad:


This one didn't look so bad at first, but on second reading, Google search took my phrase "people with autism should ..." and turned it into some really personal questions:

This pretty much captures the issue for me; for a very basic query to get more information about autism, the very first unpaid search result is an odd dictionary entry that looks quite different from the answer provided by a national organization that actually deals with autism and is pushing for more research and answers:

We are all so much more, those with autism, their friends and loved ones, and our world.  So thanks, Google, for taking a stand against hate speech.

I can only hope that parents, professionals, and those on the spectrum can help do their part by heeding the advice of Scoop Nisker. Go make those news stories good ones that show the people we love. Go, Flash Bloggers!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Special Exposure / Wordless Weds: Feeder

Since last Fall, James has become interested in hummingbirds. I know this because he started asking to go to his grandparents' house to see them from the back porch. I would have thought their unnerving speed and loud buzzing chirps would upset him, but no. He's charmed (just don't let them buzz too close).

It was fun to see his excitement and hear him talk about the birds and ask questions about them. We all seized on this new interest at Christmas and birthday times. James received a nice book about hummingbirds ("It's a Hummingbird's Life," by Irene Kelly), a hummingbird bookmark, and his CATS student presented him with his Very Own feeder, which we've hung in the backyard.

Gorgeous, but the birds aren't coming down low enough to feed. Next week: the front yard! I've seen hummingbirds try feeding from the low-lying sage shrubs out there. Stay tuned ...

For more images from the heart and to share some of yours,
visit Special Exposure Wednesday at 5 Minutes for Special Needs.
5 Minutes for Special Needs

               and ... Wordless Wednesday

Why? Because We Are All Community

This is brief, but in support of Sunday, her family, and the entire busload of school kids who were dished a whole lotta hatin' at their recent trip to their local Dollar Store.

Please read Sunday's story, in her own words, and support her by spreading information and compassion about those who off the beaten path. The best way to fight this meaness is helping those whose lives look different from ours understand how we are all in this together, regardless of our unique and special needs.

Magic Marker Monday: Marble Run!

We saved this beauty for James' 8th birthday last month: a marble run. He loves them in stores and you can continually build/rebuild the runs.

Now, it took me the better part of an afternoon to figure out that the cryptic instuctions were for several different designs and never finished a single one, but about 90 minutes in I was getting the hang of it. James helped hand me parts and was so excited to watch it all come together. He also got to test the runs to make sure they would actually work.

Was all the hassle worth it?

Oh yes! He's unplugged and playing with this marble run several times a week.

For more great masterpieces or to share some of your own, visit
5 Minutes for Special Needs for more Magic Marker Monday.

              Special Needs Blog                    Photobucket

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Worries About "Wandering"

Oh my.

Someone's been peeking at our life again. Read this Snagglebox post on Wandering that I spied on and yes.

Yes, yes, oh dear heavens, yes. That's us.

At the supermarket. In the parking lot. At the beach. At the park. During exciting events at our Town Green. At school. At night. It could happen, and so I am worried.

I dress James in the brightest possible colours so I can track him, especially from afar. In parking lots I tell him specifically where he needs to go before he opens his door ("Stand on the sidewalk" is much more effective than "Don't go out into the parking lot".

If we're in a new store he stays right by me -- I get him to do this by having him help me push the cart or look for specific items near us. I really can't turn my back on him at the beach. We stopped riding our bikes in the park because it became too dangerous. I've lost track of him for minutes so scary it seemed like hours at the Town Green.

School interprets his wandering as a toss-up between a behavioural issue ("testing behaviour") and not wanting to be at school and has recommended he be pulled into a program away from mainstream kids. While I can see where they are coming from, James would not be getting any tools out of this solution that might help him to better be able to express how he's feeling or communicate what he wants. It makes total sense that he would wander away when overwhelmed, but how to safely manage this while not wrapping him in cotton wool has been a familiar dilemma.

And when I discovered he'd started awakening at night at random times and would leave his room, I could not sleep well myself at night. For the past two years I've been largely sleeping on the sofa out where I can see and hear him better. After months of prompting steps to get him resettled, he is starting to manage to self direct himself back to bed. It's not 100%, so the sofa and I are still good friends.

As far as information from his pediatrician about this, we've not heard a peep from any of the four he's had since birth. It would be nice to know how other parents are coping with this silent worry.

James at the beach this New Year's Day.
I tracked him as he wandered.

Special Exposure / Wordless Weds: Belonging

Both kids were invited to the birthday party of a friend's daughter. The birthday crowd was younger, but everyone had a good time together. Yes, including James. One of those times that seems ordinary, but means so much:

As James was still out of school during this time, it was a great chance for social interaction. He surprised me more by going in the jumpy house and being the last one to come out. He helped make sure the little guests stayed safe too.

For more images from the heart and to share some of yours,
visit Special Exposure Wednesday at 5 Minutes for Special Needs.
5 Minutes for Special Needs

               and ... Wordless Wednesday

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Something New

We finally checked out a program we've heard a lot of good things about, but never actually joined: Saturday Sidekicks at Sonoma State University.

Oh, I can see why parents love it and their kids have a good time. It's a fairly simple premise, carried out wonderfully well. Parents bring children to a gymnasium, which is filled with mats, Hula Hoops, a climbing board, platform swing, teeter-totter, trampoline, and scoot carts with an obstacle course. They are met by college students who are assigned to a child and become their play/Adaptive PE buddy. Music, scooting, chasing, and shouts of giggling abound. Periodically, everyone is pulled back to circle time for a group activity and song.

James adored it, and his sister had a great time too. I just sat on a chair and socialized with the mom who reminded me it was available and gave us a car pool ride down there with her kids. What a great start to our Saturday!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

BINGO Night Out

The whole family turned out for the annual BINGO Night fundraiser at James' big sister's school. I enjoy these events. I remember from my own childhood how exciting it was to go out at night and do something fun. It's another chance to connect with others. We get a break from routine, and have fun. Plus, there's pizza!

I also get a chance to see how James has grown. This year, he lasted the whole event in the noisy indoor gym. He recognized people and said hello to them. When his water bottle ran dry, I was able to send him to fill it from the drinking fountain with just one verbal prompt. I kept an eye on him from my BINGO table. He did very well. He also asked for some popcorn. I was able to give him the money and send him by himself to the food counter to buy it himself, again with myself watching him from the other side of the room. My friend at the counter said he did very well.

Inside I was pumping my fist and cheering these independence achievements. James was happy to have his own bag of popcorn and a full bottle of water when he wanted them. Hooray for BINGO!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Magic Marker Monday: Heart Chart

This project is from last year. I love how he includes himself:

Expression of abstract concepts and feelings is a challenge for James. Not only is this activity appropriate for the coming holiday, it's a good exercise in self-expression.

What would your Heart Chart look like?

For more great masterpieces or to share some of your own, visit
5 Minutes for Special Needs for more Magic Marker Monday.

          Special Needs Blog                    Photobucket

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Frosting Face

Until now, James has liked his cake and cupcakes, but not been interested in frosting (with the exception of his first birthday). That all changed today at a friend's birthday party:

Ohhhhh my!