All Systems Go – Cruise control

We’ve always had problems with green, for as long as I can remember. Such a simple word that can be described in so many or few; a secondary colour, mix blue and yellow, use different proportions of each primary colour to produce different shades. But still those five letters elude him.

It’s a little bit like when I try to remember something myself, some every day kind of a thing, like a film star’s name. I can see the boyish face, now morphed into middle age, it’s an easy name, I can see the roles he’s played but the name, that ever so average name is buried under pile of mis-filed ‘to do’ lists and a heap of other detritus. An irritating nebulous nameIt’s on the tip of my tongue but hides behind a stack of unread book spines. It is not until later, at night when the chains fall off my brain and suddenly up it pops as I sit bolt upright, Tom Cruise! But there’s no-one to listen, no-one to pat me on the back, tap me on the cranium and say, ‘there you go, back to sleep now.’

Now that he’s older he can sometimes retrieve it, green, on command, but more often than not, he can’t, so we use alternatives. Emerald is always first on the list, a starter, a favourite, and from that point on the colour wheel we can go left or right, up or down, carefully narrowing down the choices because we must be accurate because accuracy is very important and those subtle shades are calibrated with precision, hues enhanced, narrowly tailored.
“That’s too dark.”
“What about that one?”
“What about this one?”
“I think that it. How you say it?”
“Um…I’m not sure of the pronunciation….er…. Chrysoberyl……I think?”
“Got it!” he hares off, shouting to the other players, “hey guys! It’s called Chrysoberyl.”

Well that slips off the tongue like extract of malt but it’s nice to know that he’s not red/green blind, like my dad.

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Well Spotted

5 Minutes for Special Needs

He saw it first!

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.

“Nonna” always welcomes visitors.

MckLinky Blog Hop

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What is it? Indigestible!

5 Minutes for Special Needs

I coax my son.

“Have a go. You may just like it.”
“I know you don’t like butter but this is different.”
“It can count as your new food for the day if you like?”
“That’s vinegar. Remember you like salt and vinegar crisps now?”
“You could have this instead of butter, every night.”
“It’s so much better for you.”
“And it will help fatten you up.”
“I thought you said you wanted to be fatter? Didn’t we agree?”
“Just dip the corner of your bread in. You don’t even have to get your fingers dirty.”
“I don’t understand? I thought you were willing to have a go?”
“I wuz.”
“Great! Off you go then.”
“Not now.”
“Why not now?”
“Because……it is different now.”
“What’s different now?”
“Dah oil and dah vinegar.”
“What’s different about them now than when they were in the bottle?”
“Dah shaping.”
“What shaping?”
“It’s bad.”
“What’s bad?”
“Yes dear?”
“Don you get it?”
“Er………no I don’t get it.”
“I cannot be eating of dah parallelogram.”

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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Notable Quote

– things you never expect to hear

This comment was neither coerced nor prompted. I swear this is something never before heard from any child on the planet.

“Oh my gosh! The carpet looks beautiful!”
I defy anyone to challenge that one. I think it was because I’d just vacuumed and the fibres of the carpet seemed mown like grass.

On a side note. A request for information from all dog lovers. Thatcher’s tail is still blue from the sidewalk chalk. If anyone has any hints as to how we may return him to his pre-rainbow days, we should be most grateful.

Whilst the geeks were all off at Maker Faire I was mastering livescribe I have a long way to go but assistive technology has finally won me over.

Today I am also over “here” at “5 Minutes for Special Needs Moms.”

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Full Circle – ball and chain

I remember it quite well from a very long time ago. It happened many times which is one of the reasons that I remember it so well. My mother would finish whatever it was that she was making. She would present whatever it was to me and say “so what do you think?” I would think whatever I thought and I would say whatever I said but somehow it was always the wrong answer.

They say that we are destined to repeat the lives of our parents.

I pull off a few stray threads and microns of fluff from the newly finished cardigan, slip it on, even though it’s really for my daughter, and present myself to my spouse. “So what do you think?” He looks up from his computer screen. “Ooo very nice, it’s looks just like a suit of armour.” I pout and move into the hall where his first born son is also glued to a computer screen. “So……….what do you think?”
“I think I’m gonna conquer dah world of Spore.”
“Ah….no…..what do you think of this……the cardigan I’m wearing……’s new…….I made it.” He looks at me, all of me whilst he attempts to retrieve the word cardigan. He gives up and gives me a hug, which is probably better by far.

I skip across to my daughter, engrossed.
“What do you think? It’s for you dear.”
She pauses and lifts the needle sharp pencil from the paper.
“For me?”
“Yes, just your colour.”
“Well if it fits you it ain’t gonna fit me is it!”
“Oh I think it will. It’s a tad short of me but it will be perfect for you.”
“Yur kiddin. Right?”
“No, I wasn’t actually. Here try it on, it’s all nice and warm now.”
“No point. I know it’s not gonna fit.”
“Why? I mean how?”
“Coz I already tried on all yur clothes and they’re too small.”
“When did you…?”
“Whilst you were out at the supermarket. The boys were fightin about who was gonna go up the laundry shute and who was gonna go down the laundry shute so I knew Dad would be too distracted to notice.”

I trot over to my youngest son. “So……what do you think of the new cardigan?” He blinks at a distance of 12 paces. “I do not like dah knot.”
“What knot?”
“Dah knot jus dere.” I look down at the tiny knot, a cheat by the manufacturer who joined the yarn in the middle of a hank. Darn it! He sprints across on tippy toes for a hug. “Ooo that’s nice. All these free hugs.”
“No. I not hug.”
“No? Seemed like a hug to me.”
“Test what?”
“I am test for dah soft.” He releases me with gentle pats, the kind of pat you give a cushion before you sit on it.
“Oh! And?”
“Pass as in ‘give it a miss’ or pass as in ‘passed the test for softness’?”
“Check it out man!” He snuggles into my diaphragm to purr, as claws knead my rib cage.

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Sun Valley Rutile over Woo Blue

5 Minutes for Special Needs

I examine them closely, just like my homegrown judges did. Save me from visual acuity!

They are all small, deliberately, as there is only so much clay and time that I can afford to throw away.

This is the only one I like.

All were thrown at the same time with the same clay. Fired in the kiln at the same time. Glazed in the same manner on the same day, yet each one of them is different from the other.

9 are useable the rest are “poo pots.”

One has a sharp shard from someone else’s explosion. One has two mysterious white spots from goodness knows where.

Three are on the pink side. Two are still pooish, brown and fatally dull. That leaves 4, only four and of that four, I only like one. How many bowls will I need to throw before I can make a set of four? It’s the kind of maths question that drove me quite dotty when I was small. Now I am big and I still have no answers.

On the other hand, some people’s names just slot together like magic. A marriage made in heaven, or rather Ireland but lets not be picky. Happy Anniversary Anne and Ned!

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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Very nice manners but thick as a brick

Do you know what yours is? Did you know that such a thing, 'a learning style,' existed? You probably do. You probably do because you're an American, or alternatively, someone from the 'younger generation,' which would probably be around 'under middle aged.'

For anyone else, a learning style[s] is something that you should know a little bit about if you have autistic children. Also handy if you have the ordinary kind of a child too, because there are a variety of different styles available. If you manage to engineer a good match. Then your child's experience at school could be considerably more positive than it might be at the moment.

When I was youngster myself, born to a man with Edwardian parents, my father would help me learn my times tables. I would march up and down the kitchen to the irritation of my mother, chanting out the lines until I was word perfect. He would test me with spot questions. I'd snap that answer out like a bullet as I exploded in a jumping jack. I was star shaped and I would be the star of the class!
It was a dead cert.

The following day, I would skip along to school, the tables mantra was so easy. The test was administered in silence in those dark days of yore. Pupils [translation = students] sat at individual desks. When I say 'sat,' I really mean 'sat.' No wriggling please! Britain way back when. 'Sat' meant static too, although small movements of the writing hand, wrist and fingers was permissible.

I would sit and stare at my 'vocab' book, a dinky little affair the size of an envelope, with my lead pencil sharpened and at the ready, but could I write anything? My toes would tap the wooden floor, my fingers would twiddle rhythmically on the underside of the desk, but no, nothing.

“McEwen! Stop that right now!” What a choice? Remain and fail, or depart to be disciplined by the Reverend Mother?
I would probably manage a few figures,
but not the answers to the questions being barked
at us at 30 second intervals.

I would trudge home at the end of the day, with my vocab book hidden at the bottom of my satchel, [translation = school bag] written evidence of my 'thicky, thicky, dumb, dumb' status. My father would always manage to ferret it out and gasp as the illegible scribblings in red ink all over the page. The exasperation he experienced was close to my own.

“But you were perfect last night!” he would gasp. I could only respond as a goldfish does, mouthing words that I couldn't formulate as an adequate explanation.
“What are all these 'submission notes'? Were you being naughty? Again?”
[Ref 1] But I digress. Where were we? Ah yes, learning styles.

Visual, auditory, tactile, kinesthetic for starters. Does that help? Not particularly?
I'll give you an example. Junior learned about the life cycle of insects [translation = bugs] a few years back. They started with Bees on Monday, moved onto Butterflies on Tuesday and finished up with Mosquitoes on Wednesday. I ‘knew’ that he had no interest in this topic. On the first two days, he was encouraged to sit during 'circle time' for these lessons. He spent each of those 20 minute periods rolling around on the floor,
bumping into his pals and laughing hysterically,
much to the annoyance of everyone. One teacher sat with him,
not so much restraining him as trying to contain him, calm him,
quieten him down. Boredom was one thing, disruption was quiet another.

When he returned home on each day, he had learned nothing about these tiny little friendly creatures. On the third day, the poor teachers had run out of energy and chose to ignore him as he danced around the walls of the room, touching items rhythmically and giggling. He paid no heed to the lesson and appeared for all intents and purposes to be in his own little world. They didn’t know what else to do, so they concentrated on the rest of the class and let him go his own sweet but oblivious way. Since that was just prior to his permanent departure from that school, one can only sympathise with the poor people attempting to teach a class of 20 little ones.

That evening, after the free fall dancing episode, he lectured me in great detail, voluntarily without prompting. I knew more about Mosquitoes than is healthy for a person of my advanced years.

{Ref 1} 'Submission notes,'sent home to the parents advised them of omissions and commissions by the child during the school day.
This may not be the ‘best’ site, but the material is well presented, clear, with useful tips that aren’t all about flashcards.

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Point to Point [translation = an eye for the details]

Reluctant as I am, to cast about spurious rumours, [translation = rumors] I feel compelled to correct a few misapprehensions regarding professional persons who therapize my sons. At aged 7 and a half and nearly 6, autistic they may be, but without the ministrations of therapists [translation = early intervention programmes] we would be in an entirely different place. [translation = the funny farm] Their speech delays may be significant [translation = for some people], but they manage to make themselves understood one way or another.


Oh excuse me just a mo, [translation = second] someone is reading the screen whilst I type. [translation = one of the challenges [translation = problems] of some autistic children, it that they have ‘splinters’ of skills. [translation = something that they can do that many ‘typical’ children do not do i.e. the autistic child does it too early.] Excuse the digression but he won’t be budged. [translation = fixates on his area of interest]

“Mind the step dear, that was my toe!” [translation = spatial awarenes isn’t a ‘strength’ at the moment.

“Oopsie. Sorry toe.”

“Now what do you want? Can't you see that I'm busy typing.”

“Typing? What it is da 'typing?” [translation = the meaning of many simple words, defeat him, yet although 6, he can read just about anything. {subtranslation = hyperlexic}]

“Watch and learn.”

“Oh! typing is da letters on da screen?”


“I like dem.”

“Good, thanks so much for sharing that with me. Now, don't you have something to do yourself, ‘play’ perhaps?” [translation = always positively reinforce all attempts at communication with your autistic ‘non-verbal’ child. [translation = even if it’s inconvenient and time consuming]

“No fank oo, da ‘playing’ is da boring for me. I like to watch you doing the working with da letters.” A universal truth I suspect, 'watching other people work' that is to say. [translation = ‘play’ is a new thing around here, we’re still learning how to do it. It is not a preferred activity.] “I don fink I am liking doze ones.”

“Really? Why?”

“Coz dey are too, too, too squarey.”

How about this one? This any better?”

“Yes, it is a bit better, but it is still too, too 'small' I am thinking.”

“Very well. How about this? Is this any better?”

“Oh yes! I am liking that one a whole lot betterer.”

“Great, now why don't you run along and go and count something?”

“What I count?”

“Anything you like.”


“How about bounces on the trampolene? That's a great one, you are so good at your bounces.”

“I fort you said dat I was no good?” [translation = oopsie]

“Hmm, what I actually said was that it would be better if you could put your heels down, rather than jumping on your tippy toes and making your calf muscles lock.”

“Ah. So I am not da bad one?”

“No, you are the best jumper on tippy toes that I have ever met.”

“Fank you. You are a bad jumper though. Oopsie, sorry I hurted your feelings.”

“That's o.k. now run along and bounce to one hundred. Don't forget the 'ands'.”

“But the 'ands' are making me tired!” Hardly surprising really, 1 – 100 plus 'and' between each number, must be 199 all told. [translation = by my reckoning] Certainly would make my calves ache. [translation = but it ‘s better than making my brain ache by trying to rise to his high standards of penmanship]

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In the eye on the beholder

I do my best to ignore the revolting bowl that I've just brought back from the studio. I shall never be able to support the family with this particular hobby. [translation = craft] Pottery is too time consuming a hobby for me anyway, not in the least therapeutic, more a source of frustration. The shape is good. The weight is acceptable, you don't have to be physically fit to lift it. The rim is about as perfect as I'm capable of. The bottom is neat and not too heavy. The glaze coverage is smooth and bubble free. It's a fair size, bearing in mind that they shrink in the kiln by about 12%, a figure that I find difficult to visualize. It's not too small to be useless, nor too large to be cumbersome. Not that I'm picky, it's just that I ever so carefully painted fish all over it, shaped like goldfish crackers. [translation = American snack food] An oval with a '<' for a tail, but for some reason, a great number of the fish icons have chipped off. They have missing chunks, which means that the white clay beneath shows through. Ruined, completely ruined, just typical! I can't recycle it, nor even give it away. I nudge it away and continue the washing up as senior son comes sauntering up. He leans against my body as one would a lamp post, idle and content, his line of sight aligned with the kitchen counter. He startles. “You have made me a new bowl?” he gasps. I lean on the edge of the sink and examine him. The arrival of new bowls, usually with the children's names emblazoned upon them, to avoid ownership disputes, are soon smashed within a few days of entering the household. The bowls I make are a challenge for those with poor fine motor skills and the strength of overcooked spaghetti. They are never a cause for comment, let alone interest. He rocks back and forth, heel to toe, hands covering his mouth, which means that either he is about to explode into a hideous meltdown or he is experiencing excitement. Under the circumstances, I err on the side of caution, anticipating a meltdown as I answer, “Yes. Why? You're not into bowls all of a sudden are you?” “In? Into? In? I am not in the bowl, I am near the bowl,” he explains to his mother, the idiot, as there are so many literal word traps for me to fall into. At least this is an indication that speech therapy is having a positive effect.
“Can I see it proper, prop, properly?” he asks breathlessly.
“Sure.” I lean over, grab the bowl and swing it towards him in one easy movement, even though he is now crouching for some unaccountable reason? “Be careful!” he warns, “you might be breaking it!” Each additional word confuses me further. He cradles it gently in the palm of his hands examining the fish on the inside of the bowl, screwing up his eyes. He sighs, “I know Orca whales are the best if you don call them killer whales, thank you Mum.” He lollops away, leaving me confused, but calls over his shoulder, “you can call it my Orca bowl, I use it for supper tonight. O.k.?” I re-examine the bowl and the chips with a different viewpoint.

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