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The Dog Experiment: The Conclusion May 5, 2009

Posted by hopeauthority in Autism, Children, humor.
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Sorry, I left you all hanging after the mid-April report on the rocky beginning of the dog experiment (See April 14 post for recap.)  After much reflection on the 10 day fiasco trial, I’ve decided we are not ready for a permanent pooch in the house…yet.

First, my guide dog training days lead me to expect a perfectly behaved dog and Fabio still needs enough of my attention that I don’t have the time to train a puppy the way I’d want it to be.

Also, I’d be too worried about what trouble Fabio would be getting into while I was outside with the dog doing its “business”. And then there’s the issue of keeping Fabio away from the dog’s food and slobbery toys.

And then there’s the potential for allergies…Fabio has so many food and seasonal allergies and sensitivities already that a permanent dog may be a problem.

And I really had to watch Fabio and Rodney closely when they did play to be sure Fabio was gentle and played correctly.

And I was getting confused trying to keep track of when everybody last peed and pooped!

So, those are the generic reasons we aren’t getting a dog right now.

But back to the experiment, already in progress and going awry at last glance:

I consulted my dog behavior experts for help after the dog kept pooping every time I left him alone. Oh, and he also jumped up on the furniture…or your lap if you were sitting on it. And, uh, humping jumping on Fabio. 

Other quirks: He curled up and slept like a kitten on the front passenger seat of the car, but shook uncontrollably when placed on the floor of the front passenger seat. Wouldn’t stay in his freakin bed at night either …because he wants up on the bed. And, if you dared to leave him alone on a floor of the house for two seconds, he’d bark. Oh, and he licks feet and flip-flops. Ewww.

Did I mention he won’t  poop in the rain?  Well, not outside anyway. Not even when I’d hover over him with a golf umbrella. Did I really do that?! And did I mention that it rained almost every freakin one of the 10 days we had Sir Rodney?!

Of course I’d never tell Rose all these things about her little boy dog.  She’d either never believe me…or be crushed. And I love my friend, Rose.

So in addition to sending her text messages and photos … in Italy… of Rodney having fun, I planned a memorable homecoming.

Did you all hear the story about the lion cub that was raised by two men and then returned to the wild where it became the leader of a pride of lions? Then, after quite some time of not seeing the men who raised him, the men stepped into the lion’s “space” again. The lion, spotting the men, charges toward them. As the camera rolls, no one knows whether it’s going to pounce on them. Then, in a dramatic moment… and to the tune of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You”… this playful, loving reunion takes place! Major tear-jerker.

I never saw this video, nor had I heard the story, until Rose shared it very casually over Easter dinner. A mental note was made. Ten days of hell followed and Rose was on her way to come get Rodney. Gee, did it look bad that all his stuff was packed up at the front door? 

So the stage was set. The You Tube song cued up for the chorus. The dog held back from view. Rose enters my apparently deserted house and calls out to me…conspicuously out of sight. After a few seconds that felt like an eternity, the silence was broken as Whitney broke into song: “And I-I-I- will always love You-oo-oo … I will Always love You …”

Then I simultaneously released my hold on Rodney and watched the magical reunion unfold.

Rose was hysterical crying … and hysterical laughing … as she hugged her little hairball. I also captured this moment on film so I can make fun of her for years to come.

And so I can watch it the next time I ever.even. think. about getting a dog.

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Autism and the Dog Experiment…Part I April 14, 2009

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Like I don’t already have enough on my plate with all my daughter’s activities and, well, with my little challenge, Fabio and his needs…

…now, there’s a dog in our house.

I’m one of those people who can’t say “no”. I’m also one who speaks first and thinks through later. That’s pretty much how Rodney… the prissy prince of a shit zui… came to live with us on Sunday night for the next 10 days while his owners are in Spain on vacation.

But truth be told, I would happily do anything for our very good friends, George and Rose. They are one of only 3 families that “get it” when it comes to Fabio, his diet, and autism in general. We spent Easter with them and came home with Rodney…and the most beautiful cast iron pot:  gigantic, fancy, French-named, green-painted, two-handled, very heavy, obviously expensive (and totally unnecessary!) “Thank you in advance” gift. I joked at the time that Rodney would actually fit inside if he were bad. I’m not laughing now.

Quick background: Hubby and I raised 5 guide dog puppies before the kids were born. I was the drill sergeant. The dogs were smothered with affection during those “infertility years”, but the competitive nature in me needed them to be the best. To have them succeed. Even when I desperately wanted them to fail so they could stay with us. And succeed they did. So I have Labrador experience. Which apparently counts for nothing when it comes to this pampered little lap dog.

But if I am being honest, I had selfish reasons to undertake this challenge. Yes, I was helping friends. But I could “test drive” the idea of getting a dog. See if Fabio would be good with it. Will he be gentle enough? Will he even be interested? Can I take the dog out to pee without Fabio burning the house down while I step out? Or is it still too soon?

I also can have my daughter earn her “Pet Care” badge for Girl Scouts by taking care of Rodney. She’s been begging me for a dog for years. I blame the economy, but she realizes it’s mostly due to her brother’s autism and my fear of something happening to him when I am outside tending to a dog. I don’t want her to resent him over this.  We’ll see how much she wants one after 10 days of taking care of him.

So, Rodney shits in the kitchen 10 minutes into this experiment. Next day, he does it again just to spite me for daring to leave him alone for an hour or so while I took the kids to the doctor. I know it was spite. He’d gone before we left. Rose’s 10 page instruction manual says he’s a one-dump-a-day dog.  He did that extra load…and walked his long hairy legs and paws through it… on purpose.

Game on, little hairball.

Autism and the Tooth Fairy March 29, 2009

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There’s the autism world. There’s the real world.

There’s the bridge between the two worlds…that I imagine as one of those rickety, rotted, wooden suspension bridges with missing planks like you see in the Tarzan movies. Every day, desperate parents risk it all to cross over with their special kids. To bring them back from wherever it is they’ve escaped to. Back to the real world.

As if this isn’t hard enough to make sense of…

There’s also the fantasy world. Enter the tooth fairy.

Holy enamel, Batman! How do you freakin explain this concept to an autistic little boy? Do you even try?

Well, having a typical 11 year old who still sorta believes in all things magical..sorta…and who happened to lose one of her last few teeth on the exact same freakin day as Fabio lost his tooth, I had to face the fairy.

It has been about 2 years since Fabio lost his first two teeth in quick succession, so he doesn’t remember anything about the fairy coming. This particular tooth has been hanging on for ages, so I knew the moment was coming. When Fabio flashed me his winning smile yesterday morning, there was no denying that the tooth…suddenly laying down flat forward in a pool of blood …had to be “helped” out of his mouth. Gross, I know.

After priming him all day, Fabio insisted on falling asleep in his regular spot…our bed…and on making a “tooth samwich” by putting the tooth between two pillows. He and his tooth were moved to his bed. His sister fell asleep with her tooth under her pillow. The tooth fairy left her standard $5.00 bill amid a dusting of glitter under her pillow. (You know…fairy wing dust!) For Fabio, it was a bit different…

I heard him stirring this morning and quickly went into his room in the hope he’d settle back to sleep. I found him sitting up with a dollar bill in one hand and a Kooky pen in the other. Did I mention that Kooky pens are his absolute favorite thing in the world and he’d do anything for one? I thought I got him to lay back down for a bit, but, like a lightbulb had gone off in his head, he jumped out of bed, rounded the corner and, before I could stop him, made it to his sister’s bedside.

He snapped the light on, flung back her covers and turned over her pillow to reveal her haul. I know he thought he would steal her Kooky pen, but alas, she only had a five-spot. Yes he pocketed that anyway. And then he hit the lights and climbed into her bed for the first time ever and snuggled in for another hour of sleep.

So, he got it. Somehow, he made the leap from reality to fantasy. I don’t know who or what he imagined the tooth fairy to look like, or how he thinks she exchanged the tooth for the goods, but he didn’t freak over the concept of his tooth being gone or of the thought that someone or something came into his room in the night.

I think the key to making this a positive experience was the kooky pen. It was in making the reward something relevant and desirable for him. Just money would mean nothing to him…despite pocketing his sister’s haul.

Let’s hope the Easter Bunny goes as smoothly…

Share your own tooth fairy experiences here!

It’s Groundhog Chili Time! February 2, 2009

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That’s it. I’ve had it with this tradition of pulling a hibernating hairball out of its hole to determine whether we get an early spring or …as is always the case… another six weeks of miserable winter.

What do they think the nasty critter is going to do? Reward us with the gift of an early spring? And let’s not even get started on how they can possibly know what the groundhog sees…

Why every guidance counsellor on the planet isn’t pushing all students to become weather forecasters is beyond me. It’s the only career where you can be wrong 90% of the time…and still keep your job. They rely on fancy doppler technology and cranky groundhogs.

Anyway, my autism point as it relates to Groundhog’s Day is that I hate winter and the way the freezing cold for months on end limits Fabio’s activities. Sure, I like the first snowstorm (especially if it falls on Christmas Eve). The first snow day. The first sleigh ride. But then…

I miss the warmth of summer. The pool and the beach. The fun in the sun. The ability to stay outside for hours with the kids. I like how Fabio can burn off so much more energy in the summer. And how it it’s just plain easier to deal with everything without snow boots, soggy winter gear, and the ever present salt, sand, and muck. The sniffles and sneezes. The stir crazy weekends.

So this is a call for all the great creative moms (and dads) out there to help each other out and answer the following question:

What do you do …inside/outside/and away from home…when its snowing outside to keep your autistic and typical kids busy? 

We need to pitch in and help each other survive the remaining six weeks of winter. So let me start things off.

I love to cook with my kids. And in the winter, I love to use the crockpot. It’s so easy. Just chop up a few veggies and toss them in with just about anything…

…like a groundhog or something.

Welcome to My New Year’s Eve Party! December 31, 2008

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Happy New Year to my bloggy friends!

I knew you’d be here tonight. After all, where else would you be?

It’s a big party night for the rest of the world. You know the one I’m talking about. The one with snazzy suits and fancy dresses and snooty up-do’s, $125/per person tickets (plus $100 for the sitter) entitling you to dance to the Commodores “Celebration” in too tight pumps, eat an under-cooked, mass-produced, rubberized steak, and toast a room full of 472 strangers at midnight. Then navigate your drunken butt home without killing or being killed by the other inebriates. 

Well Cinderella, we didn’t get invited to this ball. We are the beautiful people who stay home in our rags cleaning. There’s laundry to clean. Poop to clean. Noses to clean. Or, if we’re too tired to clean, there’ something… or someone… else that needs our attention. There’s no fairy godmother coming to whisk us away to the life we dreamt we’d have.

But we’re home being great moms to kids who need us so much and who we never knew we could love so much.  And even with the challenges, I have to admit there’s no contest when I compare reading a book tonight with ‘C’ to the cheesy New Year’s Eve party I am missing. I’m sure you guys agree.

So, Happy New Year to my blog world friends/moms of special needs kids who are home tonight for all the right reasons.

And in your honor tonight, I will play Gloria Gaynor’s 80’s classic, I Will Survive , and do a dance for all of us. And I hope you will all do the same with one of your old favorites…and admit that you did! (And for those who miss my party tonight, I hope you share what song you would have danced to … along with your convincing explanation for blowing me off! LOL)

I wish you all peace, peace, peace…and some freakin sleep…in 2009!

Autism’s 12 Days of Christmas Song December 15, 2008

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Ok, I’m in a punchy mood today. And sometimes, if you don’t laugh, you’re gonna cry.

So, for the over-stressed, exhausted parents of the cute, but challenging ASD kids… who need a laugh…this song’s for you (you know the tune).

The 12 Things at Christmas that Suck with ASD

The first thing at Christmas that sucks with ASD: He’s pulling down the Christmas tree.

The second thing at Christmas that sucks with ASD: He’s taking all his clothes off …and he’s pulling down the Christmas tree.

The third thing at Christmas that sucks with ASD: The photo card disaster…he’s taking all his clothes off; and he’s pulling down the Christmas tree.

The fourth thing at Christmas that sucks with ASD: The Santa visit meltdown…the photo card disaster, he’s taking all his clothes off, and he’s pulling down the Christmas tree.

The fifth thing at Christmas that sucks with ASD: 5 HOURS OF SLEEP…the Santa visit meltdown, the photo card disaster, he’s taking all his clothes off, and he’s pulling down the Christmas tree.

The sixth thing at Christmas that sucks with ASD: GF/CF Baking…5 HOURS OF SLEEP. The Santa visit meltdown, the photo card disaster, he’s taking all his clothes off, and he’s pulling down the Christmas tree.

The seventh thing at Christmas that sucks with ASD: Can’t go on vacation… GF/CF baking, 5 HOURS OF SLEEP. The Santa visit meltdown, the photo card disaster, he’s taking all his clothes off, and he’s pulling down the Christmas tree.

The eighth thing at Christmas that sucks with ASD: Age-appropriate presents…can’t go on vacation, GF/CF baking,  5 HOURS OF SLEEP. The Santa visit meltdown, the photo card disaster, he’s taking all his clothes off, and he’s pulling down the Christmas tree.

The ninth thing at Christmas that sucks with ASD: No one comes to visit…age-appropriate presents, can’t go on vacation, GF/CF baking 5 HOURS OF SLEEP. The Santa visit meltdown, the photo card disaster, he’s taking all his clothes off, and he’s pulling down the Christmas tree. 

The tenth thing at Christmas that sucks with ASD: Two weeks without services…No one comes to visit, age-appropriate presents, can’t go on vacation, GF/CF baking, 5 HOURS OF SLEEP. The Santa visit meltdown, the photo card disaster, he’s taking all his clothes off, and he’s pulling down the Christmas tree.

The eleventh thing at Christmas that sucks with ASD: The Barney Christmas tape, repeatedly…Two weeks without services, no one comes to visit, age-appropriate presents,  can’t go on vacation, GF/CF baking, 5 HOURS OF SLEEP. The Santa visit meltdown, the photo card disaster, he’s taking all his clothes off, and he’s pulling down the Christmas tree.

The twelfth thing at Christmas that sucks with ASD: He’s lining up the damn nativity…the Barney Christmas tape, repeatedly, two weeks without services, no one comes to visit, age-appropriate presents, can’t go on vacation, GF/CF baking, 5 HOURS OF SLEEP. The Santa visit meltdown, the photo card disaster, he’s taking all his clothes off, and he’s pulling down the freakin Christmas tree!

Happy Holidays to all!

Curse of the Photo Gods December 12, 2008

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Okay. I’ve had it. And I mean HAD it. Enough is enough.

I have been living in my own version of  double whammy PHOTO HELL for the past week.

First, there’s the “ever-freakin elusive Christmas card photo”  fiasco. And then there’s the “I can’t find one friggin family photo for my daughter’s Christmas craft day at school” dilemma.

For the past week, I’ve been trying so hard not to kill the teenage manager at my local Walgreens photo department over their poor excuse for customer service. One of my bloggy friends has heard this tale of woe, but it won’t go away, so now you all have to hear me rant.

Loser me hasn’t fixed/replaced the digital camera in months. Loser me has bought and used 4 disposable cameras. Loser me never developed them over the months that they’ve been gathering dust, so I had to put them in ONE HOUR processing last weekend. Because, I just suddenly HAD to have them that very day, right?

Enter the JackAss Manager from Walgreens. “Oh, the machine broke…yada, yada… ” So, it took 3 DAYS and 30 calls to get the ONE HOUR pictures processed. And all of this is just to hope to find a decent photo of the two kids to use for the holiday cards. I actually did get lucky with one of,  like, 125 photos…I can’t even imagine what a nightmare lies ahead in trying to order the damn cards…

Then, photo disaster number 2. My daughter needs a family photo for a Christmas craft that her class makes each year. And its due today.  Sounds easy, right? Sure, for normal folks maybe… 

Let’s look at the obstacles for us…and many special needs families…when it somes to something as simple as taking a family photo. Well, for me I’m starting off without the friggin camera. But even getting past that, we never have anyone over to take one for us. (I have plenty of shots of the kids, or of any combination of 3 of the four of us.) 

On special occasions and holidays, you ask?  Well, if I’m hosting, I look like death and often have my hair in a towel when the first car pulls up… And since people rarely ever offer to help out, I’m too busy being the cook, busboy and dishwasher to think about pictures.  If I’m not hosting, I usually still look like death… but warmed over, at least.  But then, I’m too busy… running around shadowing ‘C’ so that he doesn’t swing on a chandelier, eat a forbidden food, or simply open the door and run away…to think of taking a family picture. I tried to get one on Thanksgiving at our friends’ house, but my well-meaning, photography-challenged friend got us in only about 25% of the frame…and only took one shot before ‘C’ refused to cooperate further.

So the moments pass.  The years pass.  And then you come to today… and you need something for the freakin Christmas craft. And you have to hand your 10 year old daughter a 5 year old picture of her family from a wedding that divorced 4 months later.  And then tell her lamely in one breath that its always been a favorite picture of yours, but then offer hopefully that if there’s a way to update the photo after the craft is done, we can do it together. Like its any consolation.

So, I’m off to Walgreens again today…to try to order the freakin Christmas cards this time. But here’s the thing: I have to bring the whole family to wait in the car.  So if it doesn’t work out the way I hope, I’ll at least have a way to solve the Christmas craft dilemma…

When I murder the manager in the photo department, the newspaper reporter covering the story can get me a great professional shot of my family for the craft project. But I guess my hubby will have to help my daughter switch the photo.

I’ll be doing time.

Anyone care to share their stories about trying to get a family photo? Or one for the Christmas cards?

But you have to hurry. I don’t know if I’ll have computer access in the joint…

Survived The First Dive! November 4, 2008

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I knew it was going to be a wild day. I was completely distracted by the impending HBOT initiation. It felt like the longest day of my life, since the dive was scheduled for 6 pm. I filled out all the forms, searched high and low for the required 100% cotton clothes with no metal, velcro, snaps, or elastic, gathered the DVDs and special plastic water bottle. Then I quietly worked myself into a frenzy for the next 8 hours…

I got a later start than I’d planned since I am apparently the only person in the house who can put ballet tights on my daughter and make a freakin bun.  By the time ‘C’ and I arrived at the HBOT center about an hour from home, my blood pressure was 140/90 and my pulse was 116. Then came time to put on the scrubs (can anyone tell me why I had to spend all that time finding those cotton clothes?).

I had prepared myself for the worst. I didn’t take any pictures of the place, didn’t take ‘C’ there for a dry run, didn’t do a social story. I was asking for trouble.

‘C’ thought he was hot stuff in his scrubs. Yes, Fabio was admiring himself in the mirror. He was nervous and hesitant, but did not meltdown or bolt. Well, at least not until they needed to check his ears before we began. But after my signature headlock, we were good to go.

Hmmm. How to describe this thing? I am barely able to remember (with horror) childhood pictures of an IRON LUNG. Well, that’s about it. It was a long clear tube with a rounded, green, metal, cap-like door on each end that looked like a submarine hatch. And the thing is only 30 inches in diameter…for both of us to fit in! Oh, and the way in is via a gurney that slides into the tube feet first and damn near takes the skin off your nose on the way. I’ve wriggled into my thin jeans easier than that!

My little trooper snuggled right up against me and, for the first time in his life, stayed remarkably still for a remarkably long time.  Granted he had nowhere to go.  But the closest thing to a meltdown during the session was when ‘C’ rolled over once on his elbows…an hour or so into the ordeal… and with a glint of panic in his eye firmly stated “I want to get out of the washing machine now, PLEASE, Mom.” Talk about a freakin priceless moment!

So, we watched Dora Dance to the Rescue for the whole time and ‘C’ was doing what few moves he could manage in our cocoon without taking my eye out. Of course, that would be after  the first 10 minutes of pretty excruciating ear pain. He was holding his ears and trying to clear them from the increasing pressure. I was trying to quell the wave of panic I felt rising within me from ear pain I have never felt before. Were my ears freakin bleeding?  It made me sweat. Had it not subsided, we surely could not have gone on that way for another hour. The final 10 minute depressurization was not bad at all.

When I didn’t have one of ‘C’s feet in my face (or my crotch),  I had time to reflect upon how the whole country was still out there voting. And how I was in this tube wondering why I was here and how we’ll pay for this therapy and whether it’ll heal him.  Others were out tonight making big decisions for their futures and the futures of their children in a voting booth.  Here I was, doing the same thing in a different kind of private, tiny chamber.

The other funny observation made tonight by my little man of few words… as we emerged from the “washing machine”… was his unprompted, spontaneous outburst “I’m free! I’m free!”

I am so hoping that he will someday be free. Free of the grasp of autism.

And I hope that our new President-Elect, Barack Obama, will do his part for our kids. It’s time our kids get their freedom. And get their right to the pursuit of happiness.

Maybe it is good karma that ‘C’ set out on this journey tonight. Everyone is ready, hopeful, and expecting a brighter future.

Fleeing the Authorities October 10, 2008

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I swear. Any day now they’re coming. Surely they’re coming to take them away.

At the risk of sounding paranoid… I feel like my name is on some government list. Red-flagged. Black-balled. Whatever the term is for too many visits to the ER. Or too many calls to poison control. (Do you know that the triage nurse actually said we looked familiar last time we were in the ER in August?!)

And it’s not that I’m a neglectful mom. On the contrary: I am a hovering, sleep-deprived, permanent shadow… A “nervous Nelly” whose been on the wrong side of that 1 in 150 kind of statistic a few too many times in my life to ever take anything less than very seriously. In short, I always go to the ER…or call poison control…when in doubt.

And despite all the hovering, somehow… in the nanosecond that I blink or the millisecond that I pee… my son will get into some kind of trouble–or just look like he did. And his verbals aren’t up to speed to explain himself.

Like yesterday. Off from school and playing with his favorite 40 toys. Phone rings…or should I say opportunity knocks? In the time it took to grab the phone and turn back to him (or actually to the space he used to occupy), he was upstairs.

Rounding the corner at breakneck speed, I spy an open bottle of sunblock standing on a lower level step. Hot on his heels in what felt like one of those slow motion movie scenes that they use to build drama, I reach the top of the stairs and catch him as he’s putting his toothbrush in his mouth. “Noooooooo!”

Like a lion tamer pulling apart the jaws of the beast, I shove my entire nose into his mouth in an attempt to check for the smell of the lotion. No scent. The inspection continues. No pasty white coating anywhere. Long sleeves are free of white lotion smears. The bottle threads are completely free of any lotion or wetness of any kind. It would seem that he didn’t drink any sunblock.

But, then why the bee-line for the toothbrush?

And even though I know better, I ask him, exasperated: “Did you drink this?”

“Yeah.”

Then, making moronic gestures like he’s deaf or something, I ask “Did you open this and (gesture) swallow it?”

“Yeah.”

“Did you just smell this and put it back down?”

“Yeah.” And now he’s starting to laugh at me.

After I compose myself, I decide that the little devil stuck his tiny little tongue into the neck of the bottle and got a teeny taste of the vile lotion and headed for the toothbrush. So I didn’t go to the ER– for the first time ever.

But I did call poison control. The woman said he’d have to swallow a ton of it to need medical assistance. She also said my voice sounded familiar! (No, I’m kidding on that one.)

But this was ‘C’s’ second run-in with the sunblock. Back when we actually needed sunblock in June, he sprayed it in his eye! (“Hello, Poison Control. Yes, it’s me again…”)

And in case you’re wondering why it was on the step, I had just retrieved it from the garage (when I was cleaning up for the gargage sale that I’ve now put off for a week) and was going to bring it up to the closet on the next trip upstairs. So stupid, I know…

I figure that ‘C’ has discriminating taste. He’d never settle for an ordinary bottle of Coppertone. He obviously prefers that ridiculously-expensive $38 tube of organic, healthy SPF 95 glue I was suckered into buying for him last summer.

Maybe next year we’ll take our chances with the sun? Hey, everyone needs some Vitamin D, ya know…

10 Rules for Parents of Special Needs Kids September 24, 2008

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I went to my first SEPTA meeting the other night. That’s the Special Ed PTA. I had planned to go last year, but, well, you know how plans go…

So my “breakfast club” buddies were there, and some of the teachers we knew from the school. A Doctor of Audiology gave a great presentation on Auditory Processing Disorders (details to come), so that’s one more thing to consider testing for down the road.  (‘C’ would need to be more verbal for the test.)

What a great organization SEPTA is…lots of information, many programs for our kids, including several sports programs coming up which I plan to register ‘C’ in. Of course, I have no idea what he may do with a lacrosse stick, but, hey that’s what all that protective gear is for, right?

I want to share one of SEPTA’s flyers called: “Ten Rules For Parents of Special Needs Kids”. The rules as they were presented are in black and they are great. If anyone knows the author, tell me and I’ll give credit.  The accompanying red text is my twisted take on them after having little sleep and being my punchy self.

1. Take one day at a time. Use your energy positively. [One day feels like 72 hours at my house… Um, what “‘energy”?] 

2. Never underestimate your child’s potential. Encourage them. [Wow buddy, I’m lovin’ that impressionist wall mural you created with my lipstick. Way to go, little man!]

3. Find positive mentors who can share with you experience, advice and support. [Then abduct them, take their medication, and put them to work in your house.]

4. Be involved in appropriate educational and learning environments from infancy on. [Awaken your baby, breakfast, morning ABA, nap, 5 minutes to be a baby, afternoon ABA, dinner, tubbie, bedtime. Repeat daily ’til child gets call from center’s waiting list. Then, put baby on school bus for full day program. Remove sleeping baby from bus 8 hours later…while greeting arriving home staff. Shoo away neighborhood kids who want to play with your child. Repeat.]

5. Keep in mind the feelings of spouse and your other children. [Do walk gingerly around the feelings of your other children for they are the real angels in this world. But your spouse is fair game…STOMP HIM on occasion..he’ll appreciate the attention.]

6. Answer only to your conscience. You do not need to justify your actions to friends or the public. [“No, Mother. He’s not just a ‘late talker’. I really don’t think he should be in the wedding. Look Ma, he’s not gonna sit still and pose for a freakin’ school picture, so just get over it!”… Oh, and to the nosy woman at Walmart eyeing my son during a meltdown: “What the *%#&*! are you looking at, Lard-Ass?!” …Wow, did I really just say that out loud? ]

7. Be honest with your feelings. Remember, you can’t be a super-parent 24 hours a day. [Sure I can. Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound…no wait, that’d be my son…]

8. Be kind to yourself. Don’t focus continually on what still needs to be done. Remember to look at what you’ve already accomplished! [Sure, let me treat myself to the spa. I’d love to look at what I’ve already accomplished…but I can’t see anything past those piles of laundry, dishes, toys…]

9. Stop and smell the roses. You have gained an appreciation for the little things that others have taken for granted. [First of all, if I stop, I’ll surely drop. And, as for the roses…Hey! Where did all my freakin roses go???  Why…you..little…]

10. Keep your sense of humor. [Sense of humor?]