Friday, March 30, 2007


This is an excerpt from a book by Jonathan Carroll called White Apples:

"Patience never wants Wonder to enter the house: because Wonder is a wretched guest. It uses all of you but is not careful with what is most fragile or irreplaceable. If it breaks you, it shrugs and moves on. Without asking, Wonder often brings along dubious friends: doubt, jealousy, greed. Together they take over; rearrange the furniture in every one of your rooms for their own comfort. They speak odd languages but make no attempt to translate for you. They cook strange meals in your heart that leave odd tastes and smells. When they finally go are you happy or miserable? Patience is always left holding the broom."

I read this book several years ago, but am re-reading it now as I wait in the lobbies of Aiden's therapy appointments. His way with words is interesting, and I am enjoying the journey through his pages again. Here's a few more favorite parts:

"If you are a success in life, there are places you must go and pay to be humiliated. It is an unwritten law that human beings must be tormented throughout their lives in one way or another. If you are fortunate enough to have risen to a social level where no one does it to you for free, then you must pay for the service. Trendy restaurants, exclusive boutiques, any Mercedes-Benz dealer, or your very own personal trainer saying how fat and out of shape you are being a few examples."


"His mother had said if you can read a face then you can read a soul and he believed that."

"Isabelle never ate on a plane because she said she was wary of food that came in rectangles."


Have you ever ordered a great dinner at a nice restaurant, and had a wonderful appetizer come before the rest of your order? The appetizer is really good, and if it's any hint of what's to come, you know that the main course will be fantastic and you're looking forward to it. That's where Z and I are at right now.

A and Z had a short conversation yesterday morning.

An actual conversation, more than one or two exchanges.

Here's how it went: Z was upstairs in our room, and A walked in. He ran up to Z and said " Please Daddy want to...want to...", screwed his face up in concentration, then finished triumphantly with "want to watch TV." Z looked at him and said, "You want to watch TV???" A said "Ok ok ok." So daddy stared a second and said, "Well all right, buddy, let's go downstairs." "Downstairs?" "Yes," said Z, "let's go downstairs." "OK ok ok ok." As they were heading down the stairs, Z asked him, "Do you want to watch TV or a movie?" A cocked his head to one side, considering, and then replied, "TV." Z said, "All right!" and A said, "Thank you daddy thank you thank you."

And that was it. No more for the rest of the day yesterday, and nothing so far today. But that was like our appetizer; we know what is coming is going to be great, even if we have to wait while it's being prepared.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Echo (echo)

A has, since Thursday of last week (the 15th), started repeating things that he hears with regularity. This is great, because he's actually speaking, but it is also difficult because he generally repeats the last word or few words of the last thing he hears.

The technical term is "echolalia", and it's a common thing with autistic kids. We might ask him, "What do you want? Apple or banana?" and he would say the phrase "apple or banana", instead of specifying which one he wants. For prayers before bed, he repeats the last word of every sentence. Also, Sesame Street is brought to you by the "corpation of pub-ick bodcasting" and viewers "like yooooou."

At the same time, it is good for labeling if we hold up an apple and say "apple" and he repeats it while looking at it. Reinforcement. We'll see where it goes from here!

On a brighter note, his sister K turns one tomorrow on the 22nd. She's already got walking down pat (and has for a month and a half), has nearly mastered going up and down stairs on her knees, and tells her brother to "gop" (stop) when he's sitting on her or annoying her. She's a climber and into EVERYTHING. She's also figured out that if she wrenches the cabinet doors open far enough, she can still reach some things despite the safety catches. Because her arm is smaller than the gap. She's still a teeny one: at our WIC re-certification on Monday, she weighed 19.9 pounds with clothes and sneakers. But she is growing steadily at the same rate she has been since she was born, so they're not worried about it and neither am I. She gets shots on Friday (oh, joy) just before Daddy comes home on Saturday and grandparents arrive on Sunday. She is also rather vocal and screams just for the pure pleasure of making noise. K will let out a shriek that sounds like we're torturing her, smile really big, and then shriek again as she toddles through the house.

Saturday, March 17, 2007


Three days ago it was 80 degrees outside. Then, yesterday, we get this. Measures 5 inches, after it's already started melting somewhat.

God has a sense of humor.

Other news, that is a bit more wonderful, is that A saw his ABA therapist for the second time yesterday. In a nutshell, ABA is a special type of treatment for kids with social and development disorders, but is used frequently with autistic people to encourage communication and comprehension. ABA uses a combination of occupational therapy, speech therapy, and social skills.

We've been on a waiting list since last July, so this is GREAT (!) that she had an opening. Miss Jennifer (his therapist) thinks that he has Enormous potential; in similar kids she's worked with at his current level, they were about a year out from actual conversation abilities. She will be focusing on speech for A since he's getting occupational therapy elsewhere.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

End of Round 5: A - 1, OT - 4

This was our fifth trek to his occupational therapist, Brigid. She is fantastic! He absolutely adores her, so we have had no problems since that first session. The only difficulties I have with A is when we're in the waiting room and she's finishing up with another little boy. A wants to run straight back there to play, and doesn't like having to wait. Tantrums are getting better, he's starting to get in the routine of things.

A did everything she asked him to do today, even tried to help her put on his shoes. He gave her a big, wet kiss at the end, too, to her and my surprise. That's a good thing! That means he really does enjoy "working" with her, and we've already started to see improvements in his abilities to do certain things. (He's got jar-opening down now, perhaps a bit too well. And he really loves peanut butter. So does our dog. But that's a story for another day, maybe).

He still gets sidetracked really easily by certain sensory activities. For example, today she tried to get him to sort glass marbles out of a container of rocks and gravel. All he wanted to do was run everything in the bin through his fingers. He does the same thing with sand and the rubber "gravel" at the park under the swingsets. Also, he found a string today and he loves to wave those in front of his eyes. He relinquished it without throwing a fit, though, so good for him!

He said "MOM" today.

Monday, March 12, 2007


We have two fancy goldfish with the really flowy fins and tails. They are pretty good-sized, their bodies are between 3 and 4 inches now, not counting tail length. They share a 10-gallon tank, though, so an upgrade is in our near future. One fishy is a calico, named Dot; the other was a more usual-colored goldfish named Wakko. (For all you Animaniacs fans, we had a Yakko, too. Yakko the snail received a burial at sea some weeks back, may he rest in peace). Wakko is appropriately named, because he (she?) started turning white except for the fins, and has stayed that way for two months now. Dot is just fine, so it's not the water or the food. We called around and finally got a straight answer from an "expert" ~ our fish is either the result of inbreeding (they tend to lose color after maturity), or he (she?) is simply very old and has lost some color due to age, also common. We're hoping for the Methuselah angle, as the jokes about having an inbred pet would just keep rolling on and on.... So far Wakko seems to be in perfect health, though, despite the new albino-ish look he (she?) is sporting.

One of A's favorite things to do is feed the "peesch" with daddy in the mornings. Since daddy has been gone doing Army stuff, that task has fallen to me. I must say, thankfully, that A never forgets to feed the fish. If it were up to me, they'd probably be on an unintentional diet ~ they're not like the dog, who will come up and nudge you or paw at his bowl. Daddy gets back in less than 2 weeks now, so he will get to resume the daily tradition soon.

Here's the fish:

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Ah, sibling rivalry....where would we be without it? We were watching a Baby Einstein video this afternoon, "Neighborhood Animals", and I was telling the kids what each animal was, describing it, etc ("Oooh! That's a pink pig! Oink, oink! Pig!"). K is trying to repeat what I'm saying, while A sits back and watches her and I interact. He starts to get a vexed expression on his face.

So he moves from sitting beside me on the couch to trying to put his face in mine, and starts trying to say the words too, shooting triumphant looks at his sister like "Ha ha, see, I can do it too". There might be a "nyah nyah-nyah nyah nyah" in there as well....

So of course K has to try to repeat ALL the words she is hearing, garbling phrases in her 11-month old way. And A has to do the same. But it is a motivator, and that is just fine with me. This is the first time he's done this, so we'll see if we can get consistency. Here's hoping....

Tuesday, March 6, 2007


This is K after eating the crayon.

Progress, progress

A has started volunteering a few phrases recently. For most people with three-yr-olds, these won't seem like any big thing; for A, who rarely says more than one word at a time (if that), this is Huge!

He's saying things like "want to go outside"; "food hungry ok ok ok"; "thank you daddy"; "gonna get you" and "where (did) you go?" (while playing peek-a-boo with little sister, another huge development! Playing, and playing with others at that!) A lot of times we'll get jargon mixed in with actual words, like "digga digga digga foooood! asdflkjasfjasdlaf fooooood!" (I don't know how to spell all the gibberish, that last one was just a guess).

He also asked "Peter?" today (incessantly, while I was cleaning up one of the aforementioned disasters), and I had no idea what he wanted until he ran up to his easel. He meant "picture".

A is discovering that words mean things, and if he learns the words to what he wants, chances are he'll be more likely to get them (as opposed to just grunting or screaming, when it's a total crap-shoot as far as we're concerned. We could be giving him a piece of fruit when he wants a movie, for example).

Frustratingly, though, as he is trying out new phrases and things he seems to be losing some of the older words he actually used. "Moobie" (movie) has turned into "ooo-eeee" ~ but extremely high-pitched and, admittedly, extremely annoying. Which makes us less likely to actually want to grant his wish, only that would mean he would keep saying it, and at least he's saying something. "Banana" morphed into "Guanana" and "Nana" and now is one of the three. "Hair" is "Hay". He has also started repeating the same word or phrase over and over and over until he either a) gets what he wants (when we figure it out), or b) has been told several times "no", he throws a tantrum, and gets put in time-out.

But we're getting there!

6 Hours

Things I've learned in the first six hours of today (plus directions on how to duplicate this experience for yourself!):

1) Cheerios fit nicely in the back of toy dump trucks. Be sure to mash a few while depositing them in the "dumper" area.

2) When your three-yr-old throws a toy dump truck full of Cheerios down the stairs, they fly pretty far.

3) Cheerios achieving high velocity hurt when they hit you. They also bounce amazingly well, and can get into every possible nook and cranny available. Be sure to sweep up immediately, giving your 3-yr-old time to climb up on the counter and grab the markers.

4) Dry erase markers wipe off most everything except laminate floors. The only thing that seems to work (and I've tried various methods, including a Magic Eraser) is the sole of the tan Army combat boots. It gets most of it off. Be sure your 3-yr-old can figure out how to get to the cleaning supplies while you are in the living room attacking the marker spots.

5) A brand new economy-sized bottle of Windex, when the top is removed, can cover a kitchen floor that is 10 x 10. I have a streak-free kitchen floor, though.

6) If your 11-month-old eats a red crayon while mommy mops up Windex, she will look like a vampire for the rest of the day, because the red dye doesn't want to wash off.

7) While you are doing dishes, let your 3-yr-old open the door to the laundry room for little sister. Have him show her the shiny cans of pop. An 11-month old is able to open a can of pop, even if a 30-yr old adult sometimes has problems doing the same.

8) Cans of Dr. Pepper that have been shaken and rolled before opened will spray soda all the way up to a 9-ft ceiling. Your babies will squeal with delight and clap their hands at the pretty fountain. Mop up immediately, to prevent stickiness, and make sure you can't see the back door or the dog.

9) When your dog is caught in the act of going to the bathroom on the floor, do not startle them by yelling "NOOOOOO!". A startled dog can shoot pee up to 10 feet.

10) Your baby, who learned to walk 2 weeks ago should not be able to climb stairs. But she apparently can, while mommy cleans up soda and dog pee, and then she can climb down backwards ~ deftly, and with speed as mommy simultaneously has a heart attack and her stomach drops into her toes. Brothers are good at removing barriers in front of the stairs. (We can't attach a gate because there's nothing to attach it to...the spindles are round and not spaced the same way on both sides, so no baby gate. Whoever built this didn't have kids, I think).

And now it's naptime for kiddies...we'll see what this afternoon brings....