Sensory Input

Slurping Life
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They have the most fun in here but it wasn’t always so.


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Shopping allergy – the glass is half empty

Like many other consumers I have a strong aversion to shopping, it practically brings me out in hives. My mother confirms that I have always been a very bad shopper or more accurately, bad company and morose and grumbly, although not necessarily in that order. I think that my first hand experiences of the activity have always been negative. I shop badly therefore I hate shopping or possibly the other way around. That said my family demands, quite unreasonably, that I continue to be the primary shopper even though I continuously demonstrate my miserable failures.

Towit.

Recently after an unexpected spate of independence and “I do it by myself” our glassware collection has suffered. It has suffered to the extent that we were reaching the bottom of the barrel, chipped cups and those without handles. Action time had arrived.

Hence I sallied forth into the tortuous throes of Target wherefore to buy plastic, or some other unbreakable replacements. As usual I was harried, harassed and haunted through the aisles by a wide variety of helpers, some employees and some mere hangers on. Nevertheless I retuned home having achieve task completion and purse emptiness. 8 new plastic glasses for the princely and outrageous sum of $1.99 each. Plus sales tax.

I spent a goodly amount of time removing unremovable labels as anything with a label is guaranteed to cause mayhem. As it turned out the investment was a bust for several different reasons.

Firstly design fault. They have concave bottoms which means that when you turn them upside down in the dish washer they collect water. Secondly, they are brown[ish]. I have recently learned that brown will not do. Whilst it’s not a universal opinion, it’s the majority opinion, 5:3 against.

These two faults, in and of themselves, are not fatal. The third fault is fatal. I witness the third fault as my eldest daughter reasons with my youngest son as he hares across the lawn to escape:-

“Hey come back here! You said you wanted water! Here’s your water!”
“Aghhhhhh.”
“What’s up? There’s no ice in it.”
“Aghhhhhh.”
“Come along now. Use your words. Help me understand. What’s the problem?”
“Bad.”
“It’s not bad it’s straight from the tap. Honest it’s not chilled.”
“Super bad stinky.”
“It’s fresh, really. I wouldn’t lie to you.”
“Super bad stinky peanut poison.”
“Peanuts?”
“Super bad stinky peanut poison pukey.”
“It’s not. Look! It’s fresh and sparkly and cool and…..”
“Super bad stinky peanut poison pukey so I’m gonna die.”
“I don’t get it? Come on. It’s in this nice new glass.”
“Aghhhhhhhh.”
“Oh……..it’s the glass? What’s wrong with the glass? It’s new. Don’t you like it? I mean…….what’s wrong with the glass, apart from being brown?”
“Dah glass……..is………smelled……super bad stinky peanut poison pukey.” I watch her recoil from the blast of 50 decibels. I watch her sniff the glass. I watch her open her mouth to speak as her little brother curls himself up into an impenetrable nut. She comes back inside and pops the glass on the counter, “do you know what?”
“What dear?”
“He’s absolutely right.”
“!”

p.s. does anyone know of a ‘scratch and sniff’ plugin or widget?

Disclaimer:- I am currently reading [amongst other things] Laura Shumaker’s ‘A regular Guy,’ Kelly Harland’s ‘A will of his Own,’ and Vicki Forman’s ‘This Lovely Life,’ at the same time. Not in tandem but in tricycle which makes for an especially interesting mind bending experience. I find the comparisons and contrasts between motherhood of a child with serious medical issues quite overwhelming, as that kind of mental torture is of an entirely new order for me. Kelly and Laura’s books on the familiar autism track seems more like a trip down memory lane, much safer territory for those of us who need our sleep.

What kind of idiot would choose to read all three simultaneously?

Me.

I’d like to blame it on happenstance or maybe catch-up, but if truth be told, I am worried about the future, as most parents are. Since I lack a crystal ball, an oversight if ever there was one, instead I make do with glimpses into other people’s future and remain hopeful.


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Blogging 101 – how to deal with negative comments?

I have been blogging for far too long now. Because I’m a member of the “Autism Hub,” a small yet inclusive group, I have noticed how quickly we can act together from all around the world with an alternative perspective from the mainstream. Negative comments, abuse and criticism are generally infrequent, thankfully. Since I am a technically challenged person, I shall keep my opinions personal.

Every once in a while I too have experienced negative comments. Without exception, the author has always been Anon. Anon is a busy person with strong opinions and anxious to share their superior viewpoint.

When I first started blogging I was very trepidatious, worried that the sword of Damocles would fall on my head. It didn’t. I grew bolder. As I grew in confidence I shared more and more, perhaps too much on some occasions. On one particular occasion I bared my soul to share what I considered to be a poignant moment in our family life, one that had great meaning to me. It was back from when my children had very few words. There were so few words that I actually counted how many words they used in any given day so that I could keep track, so rare, so few, so precious. You can read it here called “cracking the code” if you have a mind, although my style has changed considerably.

There were three comments for that posting and one of them, of course, was from ‘Anon’ who said ‘This child will never have respect for you if you keep your world centered on him.’ You can read at the end of the “post.”

When I read that comment I was aghast. It seemed so obscure, so completely off topic and it made me realize how difficult it can be to translate our tiny little lives into something that can be understood by other people, people in the mainstream world. The tiny occurrences in our lives are often momentous, but to other people they are commonplace and not worthy of note. A tricky translation.

At the same time, it also made me realize how far I had deviated from the mainstream world.

Respect!

Respect? Of all the many things that I hope for from my children, I’m afraid that ‘respect’ doesn’t even make it to the list. Originally, pre-birth, I hoped that my children would be happy, healthy and normal. Just that. No more ambitious than that. It’s quite a tall order in today’s world. We have “happy.’ We have ‘healthy.’ ‘Normal’ is only a question of definition.


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The Cookie wars

5 Minutes for Special Needs

A little voice calls me, “Mom! He is fight wiv himself!”

I think perhaps resistance is futile.

If you enjoy caption competitions and photographs, you may wish to nip along to“DJ Kirkby” over at “Chez Aspie” and test your brain power.


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How to make your own mouse

Tackle It Tuesday Meme
Try This Tuesday

You will need;-
A 12 inch square of felt
Another scrap of felt for the shawl
A scrap of thick yarn for the tail [knot both ends]
stuffing
Two small buttons for eyes [optional]
Sewing thread and needle
Scrap of fabric for the skirt
Scissors

Cut out the shapes in felt from the template
Sew up the back [curved] seam
Insert the stuffing
Stitch the circle on the base inserting the yarn as a tail and check that the mouse stands upright

[Understuffed will produce a concave base which is much more likely to remain standing]

Sew on the buttons [or stitch eyes in place so that it would be safe for a baby]
Stitch the whiskers and ears [folded]
Hem, join and stitch a drawstring runner through the top of the strip
Gather the strip and attach to the middle of the mouse
Cut the scrap of felt into a triangle and snip the edge to make a fringe, stitch in place

Voila!

A Tale of Foolishness:-
The why? Why bother to make your own mouse when you can buy a dozen from Petco at $3.99?

Well as you may recall, currently my son is still at the ‘part cat’ stage of development but loathes the smell of catnip. Anyway whilst we were at Longleat in England he fell in love with a very similar mouse, a mouse manufactured for the princely sum of many pounds sterling. I resisted the purchase and a great pall of gloom descended upon us. The only reason I managed to extract him from Longleat at all, was the faithful promise that I would indeed, given time, produce a mouse. It was so tempting to indulge him especially as he mewed so pitifully but apart from anything else, Longleat’s version was a doorstop and hence it was weighted down with a hefty rock inside, not ideal for international travelers with a weight limit!

In addition, we endure a daily craft during the summer holidays. In this instance we were able to introduce the concept that a sewing needle is not necessarily an instrument of torture but may indeed be the means of achieving the current motivational goal, a mouse. Fine motor skills limitations meant that he was an observer rather than a sewer, but he managed to remain within the same room and peek through his fingers at the scene. Clearly most crafts can be adapted to suit the individual needs of any particular child, but if we achieve joint attention then we’re on a winner, which indeed we did. He was quite happy to stuff the mouse so we did have a little hands on experience.

Of course, if I had been more sensible I would have saved myself a whole heap of bother by not going into the shop in the first place. This is one of the reasons why so many parents of autistic children become hermits, it’s just easier that way. However, we continue to venture forth as the easy option is not always available.

Lastly, I know that this kind of parental indulgence frequently evokes criticism, maybe you have been on the receiving end yourself? All I would say is that people who criticize, [usually ‘Anon’] generally do not have first hand experience, long term with autistic people. If you actually live with an autistic person who has no interest in anything, or maybe only one or two things, to the exclusion of all other things, then part of a parent’s job is to help expand those interests, gently and gradually. Our job is not to eliminate the one or two special interests, that would certainly be a mistake, unkind and probably cruel. No, instead we offer all and everything that we can think of to tempt them into other things. Given time and encouragement there may just be a tiny little spark and it is those little sparks that ignite us into action, no matter how trivial or obscure. I tell you truly, it’s worth every effort.

This design is available in an out of print book called “My Learn to Sew Book.” It is a bit dated but has easy to follow instructions.


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I like tiny

Hosted by “Tracy” at “Mother May I,” but the photo-picture below will whizz you right there with one click.

Just call me snap happy.

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My children’s life, school life, is enhanced by the professional expertise of wise persons. The wise persons at their school are able to tap into their talents and extract similar abundance from the children, not just mine but all the other unique little individuals.

Recently it was my son’s turn, he with an eye for the minutiae of life, in all it’s glory. His pockets are always full of teeny, tiny, essential precious things. [when they’re not lost!] Hence all the children wrote lists of tiny things

and then drew a picture of one of the tiny things:-

Of course one of the other things that he’s frightfully keen on is long handled things but I imagine that’s a bit more difficult to manage in a school setting. What a pity those long rulers, belts and whips have been phased out.


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‘I am be…..’ – Career Choices for autistic people

This is a little phrase I hear every so often. To be honest, it’s not a phrase that I ever thought I would hear because pretend play didn’t find us for a very long time.

I don’t know your priorities but I would highly recommend the following – keep a list [yes another one] . Stick your piece of paper in the kitchen. Where else [?] and add to it regularly. It makes for a delightful easy splot of nostalgia; ‘what will you be when you grow up?’

[We apply this to all family members on the theory that some day we adults may have different jobs!]

Oh how it changes.

Oh how it doesn’t resemble anything that the typical kids come up with.

All the usual fire fighter, super hero, artist options never see the light of day. Instead we have an eclectic collection of options, phases that they grow through. Do not allow your older children to destroy it as evidence they now find embarrassingly babyish.

Now I suspect that some people are a little skeptical. Maybe a child is not able to speak or is currently learning to use PECs. Sometimes we parents are apt to be a bit pessimistic about the future. Some of us aim at independence but are shaky on the details of how to achieve that goal. It can be difficult to focus on the future when so many of us are buried the daily minutiae. All I can say, is that we have done this for several years now. Initially it was merely a initial exercise in extracting speech and engaging joint attention, one of the tiny steps in the equivalent of Floortime. It had the advantage of being a neutral subject that did not trigger meltdowns, namely, boring. It served so many different functions such as taking turns, listening skills and oddly enough, being in the here and now, together.

As is so often the case, all this time later, they now volunteer information. They tell me things because they want me to know these things. For some, this point is of no consequence, bewildering, why even mention it, but for others, the true significance of such a development is almost to tantalizing to think about. If you had told me 7 years ago that this would be so, I would probably have told you to go and boil your head, because I was even grumpier then than I am now. Now, it’s your turn to tell me to go and boil my head and I’ll see you back here in seven years to compare notes.

Disclaimer:- Dear google searcher ……….. asking this question will not make autism go away.


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Tide marks of handprints? Another new first!

Not so long back my children were earth bound with feet of clay, never to venture from my side they clung like limpets. Less than 18[?] months ago, they wouldn’t even venture upstairs during daylight hours. The whole second story was a place of trepidation.

And I’m passing the cleaning duties to the twit that let them watch Spiderman.


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A first time for Everything

If you live for years with bolters and escape artists, along with a slew of dead bolts, padlocks and safety chains,  it can be difficult to break the  panic habit.

I hear the click of the front door and make a dash for it.  I miss him by a second and scramble out into the garden, dressing gown aflap.  He shuts the garden gate on me as I arrive and takes two steps out into the road as I yell and slip through the white picket.  He turns to blink at me as my hands travel around his shoulders suddenly very close to his throat, “wot?”  I search for my calm tone as the fabric gapes at my neckline, exposed.
“I need you  to come back inside ……where you’ll be safe.”
“I am safe.  I’m waitin for the bus.”
“Oh…….well wait with me…….inside.”
“It’s o.k. mom.”  I can almost see his halo of innocence, his sincerity,  “I wasn’t gonna run away or anything…….why would I?”

I recall a thousand different reasons and even more occasions, the millions of metres that I have chased my children all over San Jose but for now I’ll just focus on this one.


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Out of the act

With Nonna’s birthday approaching I decide that teamwork is the only way. My daughter and her partner agree to mind the smalls whilst I barricade myself in her bedroom to complete Nonna’s new housecoat. Secrets are a difficult concept to grasp at the best of times but I try anyway.

“So listen guys!”
“Wot?”
“My job is to sew. Your job is to keep Nonna out of the bedroom.”
“Why?”
“Because I want it to be a secret. I don’t want her to see what I’m sewing.”
“Why?”
“So it will be a surprise.”
“Surprise is badly.”
“Some people like surprises. Nonna likes surprises. Do you think you could help keep her out……..distract her……something like that?”

I note the blank stares as their sister lures them out into the garden with the far more interesting option of lizard hunting.

After nearly an hour of battling with my ancient sewing machine I am all ready to emerge, triumphant with task completion.

Other people have also achieved task completion or something like that I suppose.

I do not like surprises. Message received, fully understood and executed.

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