Saturday, January 23, 2021

Tall Teen Becomes Short Order Chef

This past Friday's ABA session included work on independence skills. It tied in nicely with both our current obsession with the Great British Baking Show and a nigh universal love of .... bacon!

James was extremely skeptical, but his awesome ABA Team swung him into -- cooking bacon. And not just any bacon, oh no. They brought a delectable offering from Oliver's.

At first, James retreated down the hall. Bacon smells when it cooks, and I don't make it that often. Then too, he knew that he would also be expected to touch and taste it this time. Trying new foods is not what James wants at all. But, he is growing still and needs to be comfortable with eating a wider variety of foods.

I watched, as discretely as a mom can watch her child in action to achieve. James did a great job of stepping up to the pan and using tongs to turn the bacon while the fat sizzled, snapped and popped. He even rearranged the bacon slices to lie flat and straight in the pan.

At the end of the session, he presented me with this tasty delight:

As they say on that show, attention to detail is what makes you an excellent chef.

Way to go, James - and thanks to his ABA team!

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Lalalalala - Healthcare Type

So, I've known for a while that I cannot die while James is alive (the autism parent joking / not joking meme).

Now, looking at the copays and rises in healthcare coverage for the coming year, I realize I cannot be sick or go to the doctor, either. 

Which is a shame, because that could bring on a panic attack if I think too hard on that one. 

Cue the lalalala's, which are cheaper than Prozac ....

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

IEP via Zoom a la COVID-19 in 2020

 So James' triennial IEP was last month. Assessments were largely done online, with some phone calls. Because of COVID-19 and lack of guidelines for IEP testing and enforcement during a pandemic, this all happened very close to the IEP meeting. Legally, this all needs to be set up and results and proposed goals available two weeks in advance of the meeting. Normally the meeting and attendees are set. I hardly ever get the test results and proposed goals before I sit down at the meeting table, but that is another story. 

 In fact, with 10 days or less before the meeting, I still did not have confirmation that it was happening and who was attending. I had to call to to confirm this, as I had to plan my remote work schedule and PTO requests. The interview call with the teacher was 2 days before the IEP. 

I get it. Normally, I have notes prepared about how James is doing right now, where he needs support, and thoughts about goals for the coming year - not rubber stamping goals, actual helpful, educational goals. This year I had almost nothing.  

I was so nervous, because James' placement is up for discussion each year now. Luckily, this was renewed for the school year and what I still call Summer School. The meeting participants joined the Zoom call. It was one of the quickest meetings I have had for James. We are all iffy on the ability to set and monitor effective goals but we are giving it our best shot. I can always call for a meeting later to discuss or ask for amendments. 14 year into this and we are still establishing baselines ... 

Tonight, 49 pages and an attachment file with notes and questions, I have reviewed, signed, and returned, with comments/questions. I am exhausted.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Dining Out Becomes the Hot Seat

A few weeks back we our temps hit the hundreds, which is pretty danged hot for our area. We do not have a/c in the new place, so James and I supported a local restaurant by doing some early patio dining.

We wore masks until it was time to drink and eat. For most of the meal, we were alone. Then the few other available tables filled. Inevitably, someone brought their dog to dine out with them. Two, this particular evening.


So James noticed right away and started getting nervous.

I get both his reactions and the presence of the dog. I grew up with dogs. I've been bitten by a strange German Shepherd dog that came out of nowhere and almost caused me to get rabies shots until the person "watching" the dog came forward. I learned to recover my confidence around dogs. James and countless others like him have not.

Dogs are the new kids. I am pretty sure, however, that there was a "no dogs on the patio" sign at the restaurant.

We were suddenly in the hot seat. I made the call to box up our stuff to go. I get tired of this.

PS: The food was delicious.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

ABA, O/T, Meds, and Drink Mixing - How's Your Summer?

James has been triggered by what most people consider every day sounds: dogs barking, vacuums, leaf blowers, hair dryers, edgers, trimmers, young childrens' voices and crying. His behaviours and scripting kept him out of program even before COVID-19 hit this year. Goal: Work on lessening the impact for better social integration.

Practical: We now have our own home instead of being in the apartments at a busy cross street. James has headphones that he can use. I and his support crew are providing more "expected" scriptings he can use to communicate his discomfort and displeasure. We have started meds for anxiety. 

OMG, yes - we have started meds for anxiety! (there is dancing going on, offstage.) ABA, O/T, and his psychiatrist have all ganged up on him with the most positive of support. It's made a huge difference, along with the new meds having a milder taste and smoother emotional ride, so to speak.


  • ABA has started in person park sessions. They are tough. James brings out his button-pushing, inner toddler worst personae and pairs it with shooting the birds randomly. So, glad not a lot of people loitering about. Kicker? James will wear his mask, more often than not, but then shred his headphones or snack. Gah.
  • O/T has started working with James over the video interface. We are working on eating, self-care (hygiene tasks), and relaxation techniques. Big excitement last week: James made a smoothie in a blender. He tasted his creation (the tiniest of tastes, but he did it). And then I got to finish it - it was very good! James tolerated the sound - probably because he got to push buttons and watch the blending speeds change. 
I got so happy, I made blended gin fizzes the following weekend. 

Here's to summer!

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Seeing Summer, Together

I am really enjoying traveling the back roads, getting to see the country in summer with James. James is too. Road trips are our quiet time to just be together, getting out of the house and into life, away from getting stuck in our own heads. When I told his O/T about this, he mentioned they were good for James vestibular integration. Best of all, it's not impacted by COVID-19, as we do not get out of the car.

What started it all - going to "see the deer" at Deer Hill South.

We have been dealing with heightened anxiety behaviours at school, in public, and at home for over half a year now. The OCD touching things and incredible time it takes for him to go anywhere (out of his room, down the hall, into the car) have gotten a lot better. We are getting more into a routine of getting him back to doing chores and then doing something he enjoys, like going for a drive.

We make our drives into our own little games. I call it Discovering New Roads. James likes seeing "bonus" animals, such as skunks, possums, and bats for out night drives and quail, white egrets, hawks, cows, and coyotes on our day ones.

My "bonus" sightings are the beautiful countryside and nature:

Thursday, July 09, 2020

Road Trip to Serendipity

It was four years ago today that I decided we should take advantage of summer in California and get out in the gorgeous weather and scenery. James loves the Golden Gate Bridge, and I was missing the SF Bay Area of my years growing up. We talked my friend into coming along for the drive and we all zipped in my car down 101, drinking it all in.

At the bridge, the fog was boiling over the coastal hills and blowing through the gate, but there was no fog horn. James LOVES the foghorns on the Golden Gate Bridge. We walked a bit on the bridge. When the fog is coming in, however, the wind can make is hard to stay upright.

A guard saw us and came over. I explained that James was hoping to hear the foghorn, and asked what triggers the foghorn, because we could not see across the bridge because of the fog. He kindly explained that the fog has to be socked in low on the water before the foghorns turned on. He was watching James as he danced about in the fog, and he could tell there was something special about him.

"I tell you what," he said. "I'll radio to the engineer to go flip the switch and turn on the horn." Wow! Really? They could do that? No trouble at all, he assured us. It would take about 15 minutes for the engineer to get to the control room and get things started. We thanked him many times. James decided he wanted to head back to the car, so we did.

We pulled up to the first turnout on the Headlands side of the bridge, looking at the cool, roiling, silent fog that already hid the entire bridge from view. A few minutes later ... the fog horns began. Just for James. I will never forget it.