No beating around the bush

[“Ben Ownby” Found Alive]

I print off the email from the school and march into the family room for a serious discussion. It has arrived minutes after I have read about a “safety” programme in what is clearly becoming “the State” that is ahead of the hunt.

I give them the pertinent facts gleaned from the warning notice from the school, once I have commanded their attention. [translation = no mean feat! Perhaps I should have done this one-on-one instead?] I quickly find that I have taken on the role of game show host.

‘Silver Sedan car, white male with dark hair, ‘help me find my dog’ to one of the children at their school.’

A near miss for that child, who beat a hasty retreat to an adult. We cannot be as confident of a similar response.

“No a dog!” protests the superhero of felines. A group discussion ensues as the merits of saving various types of pets, but rapidly descends into a debate about species of animals. I corral them all in – back on topic. What would each of them do if faced with a similar situation?

Junior pipes up to declare that he would consider getting in the car if it were “golden” rather than silver. I suppress a sigh and sit on my hands to prevent myself from tearing my hair out.

Further talk assesses skin and hair colour. The colour combinations bear no resemblance to reality or racism, more Todd Parr. I am ready to lie down and die, because we are so far off track and nowhere near the real nub of the dilemma, indeed it would appear that no-one is even aware that there is a dilemma. As usual I have failed to take the time to think through the ramifications of such a topic.

My son back tracks to the make of the car, what exactly is a sedan? I am suddenly aware that I am not at all sure what a sedan is? Knowledge of cars is probably my weakest suit. I operate on a line of elimination – not a mini, not a lorry, not a minivan, not an estate. I know that I'm being cross continental, or maybe just cross, that my delivery only serves to further muddy the waters.

Junior is unconcerned with the type of car, but is keen to examine the potential make or brand of the “tyres” that any erstwhile pedophile might utilize. Grouchiness begins to overwhelm me as Junior quizzes us, as to whether or not 'see dan' is a compound word? When 'sedan' is broken into it's phonetic parts. This gives cause for his brother to point out that it is merely two separate words, the verb 'see' and the man's name, 'Dan,' providing further evidence of his aural processing skills and attention to his work sheets, where the character 'Dan,' features all too frequently for my liking.

I am ready to weep, but instead call for order in the house. Enough. Cease and desist! Attend to the matter at hand, namely abduction, which I refer to as theft. [of the person] I seem to be the only one flustered and frustrated.

Not for the first time, I have cause to recall that I often both mis-read and underestimate their abilities. Such an incident occurred when most of my children were permanently naked. [translation = no 'dressing' skills coupled with tactile defensiveness which made the texture of clothing abhorrent] I worried that they were unduly vulnerable, as they had no sense of 'modesty.' I was proved wrong during a visit to the ER, where my semi conscience non-verbal son, had a complete meltdown when a kindly female nurse attempted to “unbutton” his flies.

How come ‘stranger danger’ is so much more complicated these days? If they lured with candy, that would ensure that junior would be safe. [translation = the “neophobic” one] If the stranger sported an attractive bear T-shirt, that would mean my other son would be safe. [translation = “ursaphobia”] My daughter. I look at her giggling enjoying the fun with her brothers. Would “lizards” be her undoing?

I look at my rabble whilst my mind travels through the options of library books, “social stories” and modeling. If the cats have microchips why not the children? Isn’t it enough that we have to worry about the “Houdini” issue without enduring further angst from abductors?
“What am I going to do?” I mutter under my breath. My daughter stops giggling to tell me, “it's o.k. mum, they're not stupid you know!”
We look one to another, and “another,” and “another.”

I know she's “right.”


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To breed or not to breed?

When I first arrived in the States, my spouse was on an H1 visa. I was unemployed. Whilst we awaited the arrival of the Green Cards, I would troll along to the blood bank to donate a litre, [translation = not approximately a pint] every 57 days. One day they told me that I was no longer eligible to donate. My blood had been contaminated by eating food in the UK. I was a little miffed at the time, [translation = put out] mainly because I had another day in every 57 days with nothing constructive to do. I was also worried that the accident that I was undoubtedly about to have, would leave me wrung out, bloodless and probably dead, with no claim to a transfusion. [translation = credit denied.] Whilst America is generally a friendly place, that was my first experience of being marginalized.

These days we enjoy a different kind of exclusivity, the club for parents with autistic children. It makes decrepid old Brits struggle up unexpected learning curves and research niche areas. We are disadvantaged in many ways, as it’s all very well to live in the heart of Silicon Valley but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re qualified to participate in technological advances. [e.g. blogging]

However, research and practice helps you bump into unexpected facts, such as
the research by Professor Mary Croughan on Autism in California. She found a link between infertility, being old and producing an autistic child. It should be a warning to us all, well, anyone planning a family in any case. It would have been handy if that research had been available earlier, eight years earlier, then we might have made different choices, though I doubt it.

You may feel that it’s not that common to have an autistic child? But that depends upon how you define common? 1 in every 150 children doesn't seem that common, but if you have two of them, autistic children that is, then that's a switch of fortune, a double win. As it is, although we have four children, the two boys are autistic, but that's probably related to the fact that it's a condition that affects boys in far greater numbers, perhaps a 3:1 ratio, but lets not get bogged down in statistics.

Professor Croughan's research suggests that infertility is a linking factor and that may well be so, but not for us. We arrived in this land with one perfectly ordinary female child but after a couple of years of drinking the water and breathing the air, we ended up with three more children. Careless on our part I'm sure. Were we poisoned, contaminated, had our gene pool corrupted? Perhaps. Was it mercury was it the MMR vaccinations? Perhaps it was the dodgey British gene pool? We probably won't know that for sure for a couple of decades. I'm not that bothered myself. For me and mine it's a 'done deal' as we Americans say, but for everyone else, everyone else who may be contemplating a family, it is a cautionary tale to add to the list of factors that potential parents need to consider seriously, before embarking on the real family planning.

Infertility is a blight on people's lives, whole families are affected by the lack of productivity in that department, by a particular generation. A number of people of theoretically breeding age are discovering that Plan A of career, success, financial security and then a family, is not panning out. [translation = working] Someone has put a spanner in the works of the great plan and options are narrowing as time runs out.

Things could be a whole lot worse, as her research identifies a higher risk of a choice of five conditions, four that are not autism; mental retardation, cerebral palsy, seizures and cancer, although autism comes up as the overall winner since the risk was four times higher amongst the population studied.

This is linked with a debate about whether or not Britain should 'consider paying women thousands of pounds to donate their eggs.' It's curious that US clinics sometimes pay a small fortune for such procedures whereas British women only gain 250 pounds sterling, and it's capped. [translation = no pun intended] Now if I were looking for a career change, that might be a nice little earner. Fortunately for you that's not likely to happen any time soon, as I think the screening process would eliminate my gene pool as a potential candidate. In any event, I’m more than a little busy with my current generation.

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