Saturday, February 24, 2007


Ok. This will be a little off subject.
Well, kind've.
It's what the other part of this blog is supposed to be about.... me.
Who's that you may ask? Who's me? I know a lot of other mom's have asked that same question. Who is she talking about? Who's this me person anyway? I don't have time to take care of yet another person in my life, let alone someone called... Me. Who invited me anyway? Does me do laundry? Cause if me does, well then, I'm allllllllll ears.

This is me

I'm the one on the far right...that's me.

Me consists of haircuts from Borics, Target hair dye and Old Navy and Gap are what suit me. On really fancy days... my nails are painted a flashy, clear color, all for me.
In the days when me was more I, as in Borics was by Kroger and I never looked twice. I went to a fancy salon and spent 12x more on a haircut and color. I still wore Gap and Old Navy, I just had more clothes. I sometimes had nails with color *gasp*.

I doesn't have a place in my life with me. I like me. I is just one letter. Personally, I wants to be in a pair with M and E. I was eventually given a chance in Moi.

Me was great, that's until, there was a very fancy wedding coming up.
That's when me, wanted to be I again.

When me wants to look like this.....

Wearing these...

Maybe even...

Me is so excited for I!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The New Boss

After leaving Gabe's previous preschool, CARE (Children With Autism Reaching Excellence), I found myself thrown full force into the stay at home mom life. And, for those of you that don't know, this life does not revolve around delicious ice cream filled chocolates, over stuffed couches, and a large screen TV playing Sex and the City reruns. There is a whole other time clock that is monitored closely by a new boss, the child that you entertain every second of the day. It can be exhausting and I might add with some guilt, a little mind numbing.

Gabe has a pretty good social schedule, and we have figured out what works well (it does cater much more to him) in terms of needed space and downtime, although it never seems long enough for me to recharge. It's the isolation and monotony that is beginning to take its toll. I don't think I complete even one thought or sentence a day. I am either interrupted or multitasking to the point where the joy of the conversation itself becomes a task I just want to finish. SD is the only adult I have a slight chance to talk to about something other than my child or any children for that matter. Problem is, my cherished time with my husband is challenged by my equally needy daughter, Boo. Boo desires the same companionship the minute she comes home from school. SD (Super Daddy) is a popular person in our home.

My tutoring with Gabe and ABA is going OK at home, better than I thought, mostly with continuity and amount of time. His intraverbal programs were tricky in the beginning, because they require so much language. (Go figure) We do have a great tutor that comes one day on the weekend to work for a few hours. She is incredible with helping fix what I may have done incorrectly with Gabe's programs. The maintenance for ABA is a lot of work. He has mastered a very large number of programs, some with exemplars that reach into the 40's. The intraverbals with extensions are a challenge. Gabe does about 1-2 hours a day of ABA provided by me. When I say that, it includes trials, play and motor. Some structured, some not. We also work on other target areas incidentally throughout the day like generalization, dressing, eating and behavior. Some days, I just want to throw his ABA book out the window, other days, it is like the Holy Bible. It definitely requires dedication. I do it even when I would rather jump off a cliff. Gabe and I always end up having fun, because we are really just playing with a purpose. It's that I have to do it that causes the tension. There are also days when Gabe would rather do anything but tell you what has a mane or what is salty.

Gabe has also been testing boundaries...hourly. Turning the TV off brings out a side of Gabe that is the most challenging. I have tried everything, but obviously the no TV track. It's just not feasible. Why you ask? Because I am not willing to let it go. It's down to 2 1/2 hours a day, quite a feat for us, but still seems high to me. He is refusing to leave certain activities and places (Gymnastics, toy department at the store, Meijers)transitioning as we refer to it, and picking up Gabe is getting to be almost impossible at a solid 48 lbs. 43 inches. We have consulted someone and am working on various strategies to use with Gabe. I am tense and wonder when my hair is going to fall out. Did I mention it is every hour? For most transitions?

I know this is all me. It has nothing to do with Autism, bad hair days, or the impending emptiness of our bank account. It has to do with just hating winter, being trapped inside, not putting enough effort into maintaining friendships or extending myself beyond my "acceptable" boundaries. I have a period every winter when I just want to cry from frustration, feeling trapped, and wondering why in the hell do I still live in Michigan. It's only half way into February, green grass and sunshine do not even start to show until late May.

So, I vented. I'm a little lonely, lacking in coherent thought and without any ice cream that I can eat without feeling guilty that it is the middle of the day.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Born On A Blue Day

After seeing the interview with Daniel Tammet on Good Morning America, I knew this would be the next book about Autism that I would read. Born On A Blue Day is best quoted by Temple Grandin, "It was fascinating to read how the mind of a mathematical savant is both similar to and different from my visual brain. Daniel thinks in patterns, colors and shapes, and relationships between numbers, instead of in photo -realistic images. This book is a must- read for anybody who is interested in how the mind works."

I found that this story, like Temple Grandin's, brings hope and understanding. For me, it shed even more light on my brother. My brother, although not formally diagnosed, has Autistic Spectrum Disorder. It became so clear after Gabe's diagnosis that I almost called him after years of not speaking to one another to let him know. I ended up never making that call.

Was my brother a savant? Now, I'm not sure. I never thought so before. But, after reading Daniel's book, I wonder. I wonder, because my brother loved numbers passionately like Daniel. His physical world was very chaotic and unstructured, but his mental creations with his games and papers of statistics were very organized. He had numerous sheets of papers listing Kasey Kasem's top 40 countdown for every week, with mathematical equations that provided probabilities for the following week's song's placements.

"Who's going to come on top Kristin?" he would glance up at me.
"I have no idea." I stated and slowly walked away.
"Come on! Take a guess! Wanna bet?" my brother's eyes glistened.
I didn't, because it isn't fun when you always loose.

My brother had a huge gambling problem w
hen I was in college. It wasn't that he lost a lot, he was very good. He loved the art of probability. What hurt him was his belief that people meant what they said and said what they meant. People bet, but never paid up. Sometimes my brother lost, and those same people made sure to collect.

Now, Daniel Tammet had a very supportive family. He was loved and accepted for exactly who he was. Both his parents encouraged his passions, no matter how different they seemed. My brother came from a very different background of judgment, harsh criticism and wavering acceptance. The similarities I saw between the two were startling to me, even considering those differences. Daniel had a love for numbers, mostly prime, my brother loved all numbers the same, because they were a constant, easy to understand. They represented stability to my brother. They were safe in a world that wasn't.

Language was a love of Daniel's. In fact, in his book, he makes some languages sound so beautiful, so easy to understand. I can see how he affected his students the way that he did when he taught. My brother's wish was to travel to every continent. He also had a list of every city he wanted to go to. If you asked him, he could tell you the city of every country in the world. It was customary for him too learn the language before traveling to a country. The last I heard, he traveled to Romania, fluently speaking Romanian.

This all never seemed all that remarkable to me. I just always admired how brilliant my brother was. I also felt so frustrated when he "just didn't get" life's innuendoes. I remember saying to him, "How can you be so smart,but lack so much common sense?" Now it makes sense. It all makes sense. I bet my brother would love this book, all the equations and mathematical reasoning. To him, a math concept is to me,children's artwork, something to celebrate. I'm hoping he picks up Born On A Blue Day soon and it can shed some needed light for him too.

My brother and I on my parents sailboat in 1975. I was Gabe's age (3 years old) my brother was seven. You can even see in the picture how different we were. He is shadowed in the background and I am trying so hard just to be seen.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Your child is a wonderful piece of art

Gabe's Rainbow Fish inspired by Marcus Pfister's illustrations.

I think it's incredible. I think all children's artwork is incredible. My own children's art.....well, I'm over the moon when they create. It is pasted all over our house, framed, taped, signed, unsigned, abstract, early symbols, picture's that tell a story. They amaze me. I have framed over our bed Boo's very first scibbles. Someone once said to me, "Wow! Now, that's a fancy frame for that picture." But, you see, it's so right for it, because it reminds me everyday of how much she has grown, everyone's, including my own, need to create and share ourselves with others, how wonderfully color brightens and enriches our world, and finally, that nothing is obsolete, stagnent, unchanging.....(in the metaphorical sense). My chemists husband, SD, would disagree with the last statement, so I had to end in "the disclaimer".

That is a hard lesson to hold onto as a parent sometimes.
"Will Johnny ever tie his shoes?"
"How come my child doesn't know their alphabet?"
"Olivia just isn't very coordinated."
Sometimes, without intention, we frame our own children. We place the borders around their world, pick a colored mat, "Patty always has liked pink!" and we close it and stare at what we have created. On occasion, or maybe even more than we like, we forget that our children are always changing. Some slower than others, many at warp speed. Children may have a clear path, while other's are all over the place. I am one of those parents that need to constantly change the artwork, leave craft stuff sprawled all over the table, pipe cleaners, glue, scissors, colored paper, stamps, stickers and let Gabe and Boo go at it. Create! Work outside the boundries! It let's me see them outside of the frame I have created for them.

I have to remember that change is inevitable. Gabe is always changing. I may not see the change for awhile, but it's happening....all the time. I may be so focused on language that I miss him jumping 3x in a row over a ball! He is creating masterpieces all day long in his world. He is trying on different colors, different textures, different everything.

I mention all this, because we are at a crossroad again with Gabe and his need to be around other children. He wants to play all the time! (Hooray!) But, I can not provide all that for him. So where do we turn. We have been thinking of many options, but seem to find ourselves back at square one, public school. I like the frame I have for Gabe now, but his artwork is telling me something very different. Don't you think?