Give us this day, our daily baby

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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As the mother of two autistic children I have far more to moan about than many. One of the many things that I most enjoy moaning about is the wide variety of unco-operative domestic appliances skulling around the house. The top moaning slot is usually allotted to the cooker. The cooker is a huge great ugly thing that came with the house. It’s a commercial, if not industrial lump of steel, capable of catering to the needs of the average restaurant. However, during the summer months I am forced to ignore it even more than usual. This is due to the existence of constant cognitive dissonance on my part which roughly translates as follows:-

Mother nature already hates me for using the air conditioning during a heat wave but she’ll throw me off the planet if I turn the oven on at the same time.

The trouble with the oven, apart from it’s hugeness, is that once lit, it is happy to warm the entire house to 425 degrees centigrade as it belches out heat for several hours post switch off. It is truly the creation of the devil.

That said, my family’s need for sustenance, especially bread, averaging 3 loaves a day, is quite insatiable.

Hence I discuss my latest cunning plan with “Nonna,” cook extraordinaire back in the day, as I trip over multifarious swift moving children.

“So……..what about dis den?”
“I’m going to make bread, pasties and muffins all day long and then cook them all in one go late in the afternoon.”
“It is good to fill dah ting sometimes.”
“Yes……in theory……but easier said than done.”
“You’re doing pretty well so far I tink,” she adds as she prods the latest batch of rolls on the rise.
“It’s all in the timing……I hope.”
“You know I tink you could roast a “whole baby” in dat ting!”


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Daily Daub – possibly weekly

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Best Shot Magic Marker Monday

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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The artist at work! [Elder daughter]

Whilst she worked late into the night on her latest project, I was inspired to scribble a quick cartoon to my son. I left one at the foot of the stairs where I knew he would see it.

I left the other seleotaped over the computer screen, just to make sure that he received my message.

By the time I staggered down the stairs at 5:25 a.m. I was greeted with his own rendition.

This from my neophobic.

Oh the irony!

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p.s. it may be that you are also interested in entering the “What are you Like?” competition endorsed by Roald Dahl, where you enter pictures that represent significant elements of your life. My “elder daughter” has her entry. I have “mine.” We’re hoping to persuade my younger daughter to participate too. Now what do you suppose we need to do to persuade “Nonna” to join in? Three generations of women seems like a good idea.


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Wordless Special Exposure Wednesday

5 Minutes for Special Needs

Do the math! Who needs words?
1


+ 2

= 3

I do have some words over at my other site, “Alien in a foreign field” called “GMT”

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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Quickie

“Words” return to our household.

Details later, if time allows.

As a direct result, I see fit to stamp all over them.

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“Oh WeinO!”
“No potty talk!”
“Oh Butt O!”
“Listen to me Sunny Jim. I said no potty talk!”
“Oh Wein Y !”
“I said no potty talk! Is anybody listening to me today!”
“Oh toilet paper Y!”

Horray!


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Emotional Quotient of a pin head

I rush around the kitchen like a thing possessed, prior to the arrival of our guests. It is already hot, so I must prepare now or pay later. Due to the heat, it is Nonna's habit to wear a housedress, loose cotton comfort in outrageous 70's colours.

It's the only way. We fashion icons must stick together.

I reach above my head for a saucepan from the rack, which is mysteriously empty. I pause. My son is still silent, “mute” but hopefully voluntarily. I notice a footprint on the cooker where the pot of wooden spoons should be. Someone is trying to derail the cook, a conspiracy campaign no doubt.

Nonna appears in the kitchen, I beam “good morning, did you have a better night's sleep?”
“Eh?”
“Sleep. Did you sleep?”
“Am I o.k.?”
“I don't know. Are you?”
“Am I, you know……..?” She smiles hugely with a little shimmy.
I beam back none the wiser.
“I am dressed!”
“Ooo so you are.”
“So?”
“So?…….well done!”
“No…….am I……..….you know……….o.k.?”

I push back my bifocals and take a better look at her, all dressed in immaculately laundered white, with a speck of childish innocence.

Oh of course! A special occasion! Guests!

“Yes, you look lovely.”

To see and hear someone who is the real deal when it comes to  psychobabble, pop along and say “hello” to “Barbara.”


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We are not one

We split up. Divide and………..hobble through. I take the child who has no words to the supermarket, for a mega shop before our guests arrive. To be fair, out guests are also very good friends. We could feed them Goldfish Crackers and water with no ill effects.

On arrival, after a unimaginably smooth transition, I read an item from the list aloud and he hurtles off with his telescope pinned to his eye ball, a game.

In less than 20 minutes we have a groaning trolly, overflowing at the check out. The bagger, a familiar face, is unusually cheerful. We exchange pleasantries. I notice him read the pull-up details and glance at my son, askew. He pops the paper prescription sack into a grocery bag, but not before checking for shop lifter additions and maybe the name?

For the first time ever, I notice that the bagger has a physical disability. I cannot decide if this is because I am abnormally distracted, abnormally undistracted on this particular occasion or completely unobservant. I mention my observation to him. I smile at him encouragingly, because we are all members of the same club, because I am an idiot. He winces because I am crass, inappropriate and extremely rude. With my ignorance caught on display, I cannot work out whether to apologise or simply shut up? I conclude that I am the one who is really not safe to be let out in public.

My son observes the checker with his telescope, in silence. I decide to move on although I'm not sure if it's to hide my own embarrassment or his? “Are you going over to the Farmer's Market tonight or is that considered treason?” I ask the bagger. He purses his lips in response. I feel waves of self pitying shame wash over me.

My son parks himself between my legs on the floor, horizontal, still in silent observation mode. Fortunately I wear trousers. As I struggle with payment I search for a life line. My son observes his own reflection in the mirror, which is strategically placed at floor level at an angle, thigh high, although I fail to comprehend the underlying strategy?
“Can I help you out with your bags today?” he asks in a tone that means the opposite.
“No thank you, my son will help.” We both look at my son who beams a toothy grin, which serves to say the day, for me at least.


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Eye on the prize but close to the edge

I try to persuade my son to talk, but he has gone on strike.  I leave the boys a mo whilst I think carefully why this should have suddenly happened, out of the blue.  Although there are no words, the noise is filled with Pokemon noises.  Nonna steps into the room, “they're being very good, aren't they?”
“It's great to see them playing together.”
“Such dear little mice.”

I look at them pretending to be Charmeleon and Pikachu at battle stations, although not at war.  The resulting din is an aural challenge, but only for me.

“Are you going to go and collect all those umbrellas in the garden?”
I can hardly make out her words nor make myself understood without going hoarse.
“Um…….yes…..maybe later.”
When the phone rings for the umpteenth time in one hour I let it go to the answering machine, so as not to break with tradition.
“You're not going to do it now?”
“Um…..no…..I'm going to wait until they're properly dry.”
“Did you know that one of those umbrellas is broken?”
“Is it?  Oh dear.”
“What about this?”  she flaps a piece of stale bread in front of me.
“Oh I'll pop it in the bin.”
“What about the birds?”
“The birds?”
“Yes.  Why don't you put it out in the garden for the birds?”
“Um….well we do have several bird feeders but they're all off the ground because of the cats.”
“Put it over then.”
“Over what?”
“Over the fence into the empty lot.”  I look into the garden, maybe 25 yards to the fence and then back again.   I watch her slice into the new fresh loaf on the counter with a paring knife.  I check the children and the Pokemon and the siege.  About 20 seconds if I really leg it.  “O.k. back in a mo.”

In a mo I am back.

She brushes crumbs from the counter onto the bread board, sort of and then waves the board at me, “what about these then?” as crumbs scatter.  She nods towards the fence thrusting the board towards me as a prompt.  I check the family room for indications of escalation.  “O.k. back in a mo.”

In a mo I am back.

I check the family room where other Pokemons have been roped in with string and scissors, which is possibly good.
“What about this then?”
“Um……”
“This peach stone.”
“Compost bin?”
“No……are you going to plant it?”
“Plant it?  I suppose I could.”
“Are you going to do it now?”
“Now……er maybe later.”
“What shall I do with the stone then?”
“Er……just leave it on the counter, it'll be fine.”
“Did you know that you left a spade outside?”
“Yes I haven't quite finished planting yet.”
“Shall I put it away for you?”
“That's kind but I was hoping I might get a chance to get out there later.”
“Am I wearing my hearing aids?”
“No I don't think so.”
“What is the matter with you?”
“Pardon?”
“You're not listening to me.”
“I am.”
“No you are not paying attention I think………what is the matter?”
“I'm just a bit worried.”
“Worried?  Why are you worried?”
“He's stopped talking.”
“Stopped talking?”
“Yes.”
“Bah!  Don't worry, he'll talk soon enough.  Enjoy the peace and quiet while you can.”

I ignore the phone and door bell simultaneously, it's really very easy.


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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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Petco aftermath

“Ooo ooo ooo, dont we jus luv him, he is so cutesy wootsy, he is jus so adorable, so pwitty and all, we luv him so, the little big guy.”
“Are you ready for your snack?”
“Woodji, woodji, woo, we luv you!”
“Hey! Food time! Chocolate pudding!”
“Isn't he just the best?” Rhetorical no doubt.
“Aren't you jus the smartest kitty katty in the whole wide world?”
O.k.! I get it. Speech therapy has taught you how to compliment.Horray!
“Actually , he a pretty ordinary kind of mongrel cat. Make that feral, Well, nearly feral. Rejected in any case. A second class citizen, er cat.” Now it’s time to stop. You are wasting your words. There are only so many per day. Shut up and save them for when you really need them!
“We love you dah best. You are just awesome.”
“Aren't you hungry? Come on now, you've been plaguing me for 35 and a half minutes for a snack. Here it is! Snack time. Lovely snacky wacky time!”
“Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous one, how can any one resist you in your adorable new collar. You are such a little doll guy.”
“Ok. Starve. Like I care.”


“He is dah pridiest cat ever, he is needing an award!” Would you care to generalize, or is that too much to ask?
“Where is the flea medication we bought anyway?”
Spouse appears and offers advice:
“Leave him be! Climb back into your kennel woman!”
So much for non-verbal!
It's a dog's life.

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