Pi Dish

Slurping Life
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Autism awareness month is nearly upon us, so I have a new design, with “Daniel Tammet” in mind, for those of us ordinary folks without savant skills.

Criticisms so far:-

1. The numbers are too big
2. The numbers are too small
3. There are not enough numbers, 50 numerals is stingy
4. The numbers are anti-clockwise
5. It has to end with a zero or serious pain ensues
6. The numbers are upside down
7. Where are the fish?
8. Why can’t we have negative numbers instead?
9. Green is better

Please feel free to add your own criticism and comments so that I can adjust and try to accommodate.

Cheers dears


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Four Seasons

“Hey mum, I found this empty CD case for Vivaldi. I can't get the tune out of my head. Do you know where the CD is?”

I turn my peeved faced upon my eldest daughter. They're all the same, completely useless. Whatever it is could be pinned to the end of their noses and they still wouldn't see a thing.

'Thing' blindness.

I'm sure it's genetic.
“Yes it's in the office, right hand side on top of the drawers, somewhere in the stack of some 100 or more CD's. None of them are in their cases.”
“?”
“They've all been digitized by your Dad.”
“?”
“It should be 'digitalized' don't you think rather than digitized? Wouldn't like to be fingered.”
“?”
“The word root! Digit. Finger! Never mind. Anyway don't ask me anything else about digitization as that's well out of my league.”
“I don't think I asked you anything about digitization.”

***

“But I've already looked! I can't find it anywhere!”
“Actually I do remember seeing that somewhere…….somewhere odd…….I thought at the time, 'I wonder what that's doing there?' but I had armfuls of laundry at the time.”
Well …..where were you when you saw it?”
“Funny, I was just about to ask the same thing of you!”

***

“Where it is?”
“Where is what dear?”
“Er…..my…..egg.”
“Which egg?”
“Er…..dah special white egg wiv dah green spots.”
“Ah, it's on the side there, but don't touch it as the glue hasn't dried yet.”
“Dah glue is still wetted!”
“I know, outrageous isn't it. Remember, 24 hours to dry.”
“How many?”
“How many eggs or how many spots dear?”
“How many seconds in 24 hours?”

***

“Where?”
“Where what? I mean…..what are you looking for dear?”
“Um…..I am lost……er…..I am losted my thing?”
“Which thing?”
“Dah thing which is being my favourite.”
“Which particular favourite?”
“It is small and red and is buttons and chain and it is being new with my allowance.”
“?”
“Bakugan! Thanks mom.”
“My pleasure, I’m sure.”

Clones indeed!

Today I am also over “here” at “Trusera” with “Charity begins at Home.”


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Motor Mouth – who knew a speech delay could be so noisy?

I most certainly am. Or usually I am, quite a chatterbox, but lately I've had my “jaws” strung together with elastic. 3 months now, and believe me, it's no laughing matter, even if I could open my mouth to do so. Dis abled? What a politically charged term. But I have the medical charts to prove it. Has my quality of life been impaired? You bettya! Liquid diet and no bits, is about as boring as you can possibly get.

My condition is a temporary one. Furthermore, I only have myself to blame, as the jaw surgery was a choice, self induced. Maybe I should have had brain surgery first to forestall such foolishness? For others, their circumstances did not involve an element of choice nor is it temporary. I could give you a list of my chums over the years who are categorized into this or that little box in a wide variety of manners, from Thalidomide [that dates us] to hearing impaired, but I'll stick to the spectrum that is closer to home.

Before surgery, when I chatted to my American pal, we would yabber away as I slipped into what I believe to be, a Mid Atlantic accent. We understood each other completely, apart from the odd word hither and thither. When my Irish chum joined us, after introductions, we chattered away, easing into different accents, faster and faster. We left my American pal on the side lines bewildered, as the accents thickened, to cut her off. Speech is one thing, but to make yourself understood is quite another.

For the moment my speech is virtually incomprehensible, without great efforts in the field of enunciation. Still, it gives the stiff upper lip a good work out and ensures that at least part of my stony facial expression has a little animation. My ego benefits tremendously, as there’s nothing like a dose of social embarrassment to whip your pretensions into place. Currently, when I attempt speech I generally only achieve ‘spit.’ This is made all the better if the person you spit on, is a perfect and innocent stranger. It is more or less guaranteed to make you a social outcast. But in the great scheme of things, it is a mere passing trifle, barely a wrinkle. [translation = doesn’t even reach one grey hair status]

The spectrum that I have some experience of, is autism. It's not direct personal experience, because last time I checked, I was considered perfectly 'normal.' [translation = by some] I only have vicarious experience of autism through my two sons. My second hand view is a warped one, with a limited perspective due to my own ignorance. [translation = old dogs, new tricks and lots of grey hairs]

Some autistic people also have language difficulties. Some do not speak in words. Others have a limited vocabulary, or have the words but an inability to find them or speak them. There are also a group with verbal skills that are so enhanced that they deceive the listener. The complexity and variety of this one element of what can be comorbid with autism, defies description. It is often the most key element that the world at large becomes aware of, because communication is considered a fundamental factor of human existence.

My sons’ autism is also the non-verbal kind, or at least it was when they were first diagnosed. Now don’t get me wrong, it is a truly wonderful development for any child, the development of language that is to say. If you happen to be non-verbal, some people might be forgiven for describing it as miraculous when those first words emerge. Speech, if it happens, comes naturally to many. For others, speech has been carefully developed, encouraged and teased from a child by a speech pathologist, an expert in the field and a dollop of chemistry between the two. Sometimes, this may take many years. Silence is broken by a syllable here and there. Sometimes it fades away and dwindles, for no apparent reason. At other times, it comes in little gushes. The ebb and flow of the verbal tide would best be described by just such an expert.

For right now, the speech that my boys have at their disposal is of an entirely different magnitude than I ever hoped or anticipated. What does it sound like? You probably don’t want to know? To begin with, it is very loud. They learn to modulate their volume but for now there is no ‘off’ switch. A significant percentage of their words are now formed into little sentences. They are repetitive in nature and usually come in sets of three. They usually rhyme or have a definite pattern or rhythm. The majority of verbalizations that fill the intervening periods are sounds,sucking and blowing noises, single syllables in an endless slew of ‘noise.’ But it’s all good practice, exercising the muscles, snapping the synapses. Their sister calls this kind of constant sound ‘motor mouth mode.’

Many people find it difficult to listen to them. Their audience tunes them out as the ‘noise’ is considered jibberish when they’re in ‘motor mouth mode.’ It is difficult to understand what they say. Usually it is only adult who have the patience to listen. There is a smidge of perseveration in there and a tad of OCD on occasions. I could go on but I’m sure that you get the general idea. If I mention that whilst one is in motor mouth mode, the other repeats every word sotto voce [translation = echolalia] you will understand the stereo system that we enjoy.

This very morning, the boys caught me cuddling a cat, Rascal, one of the two. I was admonished for showing favouritism, stroking one but ignoring the other, Unis. I remedied the situation and spat in Unis’s direction, “guess what? I can fix that. Come on then, you big fur ball, come over here and have a cuddle!”

Innocent enough? The sort of thing anyone might say at 5:20 in the morning. The boys! They spent the next forty minutes repeating “Yur a big fur ball! Guess what? Yur a big fur ball! Guess What? Yur a big fur ball! Guess what?” interspersed with guffaws of laughter. [translation = that echoed]

It is not speech that’s the issue. It is the ability to communicate in whatever manner is available, that makes the difference. The heart of the matter, is the ability to tune in to whatever that manner might happen to be.

If you are in need of further comfort “this,” if you missed it may give us pause. What long way “we” have come. Best wishes and cheers!


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Suffer little children

I snatch it away from her without ceremony, her latest prize from school. A neon yellow squishy ball. For some unaccountable reason, war has broken out between them for ownership, resulting in a mass outbreak of jelly legs. No-one appears capable of walking. [translation = positioning oneself in a vertical position to place one foot in front of the other in a regular sequencing pattern.] My children flap about the ground [translation = dirt] like so many landed salmon, but much noisier. I stuff it up my jumper, [translation = sweater / shirt] the squishy ball that is to say, so that I have both hands empty and available. I guide small people in the general direction of the car. I stand tall and attempting marching with my one new perfect breast in the centre of my chest, matched either side by my own pimples.

I hold two hands firmly as we attempt the sidewalk, but junior is distracted by the cars parked alongside, or more accurately their tyres and wheels, his latest 'interest.' I try to explain about how people do not like it if their cars are touched by strangers, but I have yet to hit the right note in my attempts.

Progress is slow. Many parents and children swirl around us, the obstruction. I notice the odd raised eye brow, but assume that everyone is jealous of my new and improved feminine physique.

I also notice that quite a few children say goodbye to him, not strangers, familiar enough little faces, but none that I can put a name to. Several children make friendly remarks to him, all of which he ignores. [translation = due to a shortage of “interpersonal skills,” amongst other things] Older brothers and sisters of these same children, also make comments. I hear a mother or two ask “is he your new friend?” or the equivalent thereof.

I dig in his back pack. The daily report is there. I read it whilst he talks to a pirelli, a tyre that is to say. My other son take a rest and lolls against me, with the weariness of a long distance runner. I am a lamp post. My daughter stands nearby, a hip thrust out with the petulant attitude of the near tween, as we move, imperceptibly, slowly, from one wheel to the next.

The cars are stacked up and the drivers face towards us. Each occupant knows that their car is next for scrutiny. “Look at him, he is dah dirty one,” he guffaws as the owner leans over and lifts her sun glasses for a better view.

From the note, I gather that junior attended the mainstream first grade class for seven minutes, where he aced the spelling test. More importantly, although his letters were not formed to his satisfaction, that even though his “robot writing” had the odd curve, he managed to contain his fury and limited himself to motor mouth self talking, much to the confusion of his temporary new class mates. He managed to remain on his chair.

I hunker down to sit on the curb, [translation = the gutter, with one foot on the storm drain,] whilst he examines a hub cap, a shiny one, where he examines his reflection and pulls faces of delight. I fold my arms over my breast, then unfold them, then refold them under it. The “tip of his index finger” bravely skims the surface of the hub cap.

The special ed teachers and mainstream teachers, have a close working relationship and years of experience. They colaberate to find a 'best fit.' I suspect that the mainstream children are given the equivalent of a pep talk. I believe, that in some senses, it is merely a nudge in the right direction. This is due in part to children’s natural affinity for one another's best interests. It is also because the school has an ethos of inclusion that permeates “all personnel” and pupils. It is reinforced with a rigorous 'anti bullying' policy, the like of which I have not witnessed elsewhere. The trick here is to utilize the pupils to police their fellows. They see what adults may miss, the subtleties that are lost on addled brains. The youngsters weed out the tormentors, teasers and nere do wells, because they know what they're looking for and can see through the veil that is raised to deceive world weary, jaded and forgetful adult.

“How was Mrs. B's spelling class?”
“Boring, boring, boring.”
“Who did you sit next to?”
“I dun know. I dun know. I dun know.”
“Were there any girls in the class.”
“Dunno. Dunno. Dunno. ”

Clearly, a perfectly ordinary exchange that all parents experience on occasion. Maybe I am able to jam my foot in the door of the 'all parents club’ afterall, I wonder to myself? Junior tugs at my trousers, to point, sputtering with excitement, “did you be knowing dat wheels,er….. hub caps, dey are having dah best robot writing on dem!”

Well, a big toe perhaps?

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