Breeding perfection

Part of the reason for choosing the Labradoodle breed of dog was because the boys have eczema and asthma. We were advised that this breed amongst a few others may lessen the adverse impact of a new pet upon our already very complicated family life. To date, this evidence has proved to be true.

Our pet, Thatcher, has won us all over. No-one could ask for a more laid back puppy, huge yet gentle. He sheds like many other dogs but my toils with the vacuum are well worth it. Unlike the rest of the youthful household, he is not in the least bit phased by the whirring of the vacuum. He has already added so much to our family that I cannot imagine life without him any more. We have adjusted to his little doggy ways and the occasional deep baritone bark of warning;- woof, it’s a squirrel, woof, it’s a human pedestrian, woof, it’s someone at the door. There’s quite a variety but we know them all. It is because we know them all, including the puppy whimpers of bad dreams and chasing deamons full speed whilst lying sideways on the floor, that I am surprised by an entirely new kerfuffle of a noise. I run to investigate the fearing the worst. I find the worst, my son wrapped around the neck of the hound that sneezes.

Most peculiar.

Half gag half whimper.

“Iz o.k. mom! I fink Fatcher has allergies.”

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Dog’s for autistic children – a preliminary report

The primary purpose of dog adoption is to assist relationship development for many people, often referred to as RDI. So I thought it would be interesting to share what we have experienced to date.

Prior to Thatcher’s arrival, we spent six months visiting the dog park on a regular basis as my youngest son had a great fear of dogs. This was a more intensive version of the general desensitization programme for the previous two years.

So far we’ve experienced several significant developments. Firstly, both the boys have learned to pronounce ‘th’ in six weeks of daily practice. Secondly, my older son, who has a tendency to speak inaudibly, now manages to speak more loudly on occasions. All of the children have learned that if they do not tidy their toys, the toys are likely to be chewed or eaten, which is a great and fairly natural incentive.

My youngest son’s first response is always to run away from whatever it is that upsets him. He knows that by running, in the dog’s eyes, he turns himself into a plaything or prey. This has helped him to learn to hold his ground and use his naturally commanding voice. Also, that hand flapping and waving is interpreted as a gesture of alarm or play and that he can communicate more effectively by slowing it down.

By pure luck we find that we choose a sweet natured and intelligent hound. He is easy to train and all the children are keen to learn. Interestingly, on a traffic safety note, whilst they both often dive willy nilly into the road, if they are attached to the end of a leash they are both very careful to ensure that Thatcher doesn’t do likewise. Because they are already fond of him they are keen to treat him well. Whilst it might seem a good idea to steal your own favourite chocolate pudding from the fridge and feed it to the dog, once he sees the dog vomit he has a direct visual reminder that kindness comes in many forms.

Although Thatcher is a Labradoodle, he does shed his hair. So far the boys’ asthma has remained the same. Their eczema and allergies have not worsened nor flared. I think we all benefit as a family from regular walks. I know that the children benefit from freely talking to all the many people that we meet along the way. It has given them a new and interesting subject to talk about. It seems that both adults and children are far more easy going and forgiving if the discussion is about dogs. They have both adopted several conversation openers such as ‘what’s your dog’s name?’ This is especially endearing as the question is centred on the other person. They both recognize and enjoy this expansion.

So those would be the main facts to date.

On a practical note it is good to remember that pets are initially expensive to buy.[adopt] Thereafter, especially if you are in America, there are a number of fixed costs apart from food and equipment. Many people out here opt for pet medical insurance and many veterinarian establishments offer payment programmes to cover the pet’s initial and on-going immunizations and medical treatments. If your pet is not already neutered or spayed this is another huge payment. Puppy training is a must unless you already have experience, and even then, to be frank the puppy training is as much a benefit to the junior owners as it is to the dog. Puppy training for autistic children, in a group setting may be a challenge. However, if the focus remains on the dog and the teacher models the behaviour expected, there is a good chance that those children may have one of their first positive experiences in a crowd.
So basically everyone is happy and hunky dory, except me and the carpet cleaner and the accidents!
As an aside, I also note how logic dictates the rules.

It is our habit as a family, to say goodnight to the children when they are in bed. My youngest and more vocal son, has a strict pecking order when it comes to love. Women, girls and cats, even if they are male cats, can be loved. All other creatures, humans or otherwise are ‘liked.’ His father accepts the status quo, even if he might prefer things to be otherwise. One morning he finds his son fawning on the puppy, hugs and licks and “I love you Thatcher.”
“Great! You love the dog! The dog’s a boy, remember?”
“But you don’t love boys and men, remember?”
“Er……I like mens and boyzes…….but I love wimmins and cats and pets, even if dey are dirty old smelly dogs.”
“I’m not that old!”
“Er…….it’s o.k. dad…… don’t smell as bad as Thatcher.”

I could write more but I’m a bit pushed for time as “Nonna” needs me.

I you have the time “other people” also need a dog for autistic children as you can see over here at “Michelle’s” blog.

Lastly, if you think I’m exaggerating about the ‘th’ pronunciation you can check out the “video” and hear for “yourself.”

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Sheep May Safely Graze

Many parents are prone to moan about all the things that their autistic child will never do. I am exceptionally good at moaning myself, in fact, I have far more to moan about because we have double trouble around here.

Although autism is a spectrum disorder, often there are common themes. One common theme that we suffer around here, is an ability to enjoy nature’s wonders, or more specifically, natures wonder’s if they happen to be outside. For as long as I can remember both of them have been “allergic” to outside. I have used every tric……available therapy and strategy to desensitize them to this common garden phenomenon will little success. Short of staking them to the broad beans poles, I'm out of ideas, although duct tape might be a kinder option for the tactile defensive amongst us. I'm tempted to dip into a modern day Grimm's and lay a trail of M & M's up the garden path but we already have enough “ant” problems around here.

Although I find few activities as therapeutic, I am in the minority of one in this household. It peeves my environmental conscience that my spouse has insisted on installing a lawn, which Americans strangely call sod. The amount of water, energy, weeding and titivating that it requires to survive is out of all proportion to it's beneficial properties. Or so I thought.


I hear a clatter on the door and peek through the window to see my daughter chucking Poke Balls at the windows. She screams at her brothers from the garden, “hey guys, come on out here and play Pokemon in the long grass!” I march to the door to give her a piece of my mind regarding such vandalism but the boys slip out before me and hover on the step. “Look I got the grass types! Treeko, Tortera, Turtwig and Tropius!” The boys squeak with delight and thunder over towards their sister. I snatch the camera and sneak out on tippy toes.

They stand on the grass. My youngest stuffs both his hands in his mouth and breaths noisily. His brother takes a nose dive onto the grass, fingers searching out Pokemon figures, expertly hidden by his sister. I have no stop watch but the moments tick by. I slip into a garden chair under the pergola, in the shade, chameleon that I am. Thank goodness for sludge coloured clothing. I watch two lie on their tummies flattening knee high grass with another one close by, debating, weighing up the odds. “I got Chicorita too!” she adds, with a huge grin on her face. He squeaks and dives, sold to the littlest Pokemon fan in San Jose. I try not to giggle or gasp, as maturation is a beautiful thing. They roll around on the grass just like they roll around on the gravel in the front.

Hunger gets them in the end and they skitter back inside, but only after a considerable and unprecedented period of time. I skuttle in after them, way behind schedule with supper plans delayed. Everyone suffers from instant malnutrition as a crash around the kitchen trying to catch up. I can hardly wait to tell their dad, he'll never believe it! I'm sure that's why I take so many photographs, hard evidence for doubting Thomas types. I make pukey white pasta because it's quick, because it's a treat, a favourite, a celebration.

I sit at the table with my brood and beam at my dream team. My son whips off his T-shirt but I don't mind, everything is right with the world. My younger son rubs himself on the arm of the carver chair, the cage to keep him in place, but I don't care as everything is right with the world. The big one digs his caged fingernails into his neck! When the shrieking starts, I quickly realize that everything is not right with the world, what rash thoughts.
“I am be itch!”
“Me too aghhhhhhhh!

Two new experiences in one day!



So is that reverse genetic engineering?

Mud pies to you my friend.

Over the weekend I posted a couple of pieces to “Trusera,” “Woof Louder Pavlov,” and “The Green Eyed Monster” just in case you missed them.

Cheers dears

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