Monday, January 30, 2012

Didja Miss Me?

Hello all! I've been trying to figure out how to balance my time among my five or six jobs and how to prioritize the two-and-a-half that actually pay me. I'd really like to tell you about all that.

I'd love to tell you about the advisory panel I recently had the honor to sit on at the New York Hall of Science - how I somehow got thrown in with the head of the Brooklyn Public Library's centers for kids with special needs, the head of the science curriculum at Sesame Workshop, and Jesus Himself to help redesign a preschool exhibit to make it more autism-friendly.

At some point I'll get around to telling you about the talk I gave at a support group for grandparents of ASD kids.

I totally want to fill you in on the article I wrote for Autism Asperger's Digest; the monsters I've been sewing; and the allergen-free recipe site I've been helping out with.

But all that is going to have to wait.

Because yesterday, Ryan told me, "I love you, Mommy."


For the second time ever.

And my heart is so full, I don't much care about anything else.

Kid stole my tea, but he was so cute I poured him his own cup.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.

The latest holy-crap-I-lost-something story does not even have the decency to feature an actual lost object.

On Monday Ryan and I went to his favorite children's museum - the one with the awesome water room that supplies the kids with raincoats but still always ends up resulting in the need for a full change of clothes. We stayed all day.

When it was time to leave, we put on our coats.

"Where's my hat, Mommy?"

"You didn't wear a hat today. Remember, you had your Mickey Mouse sweatshirt, and you wore the hood instead of a hat." The sweatshirt, of course, had gotten wet in the water room, and he was now wearing a regular shirt, not a hoodie. I pulled up the hood on his jacket.

Ryan dissolved in tears. "Can you take me back to the museum?" he screamed in a panic. "Got to find my hat!"

"Baby, you didn't wear a hat today. Your hat is at home."

"My hat is LOST! Take me back to the museum! Got to get my hat in the water room!"

I tried to convince him that he was wrong. I showed him the wet sweatshirt he had been wearing earlier.

"Got to find my hat, I'll be happy."

It's very hard to win a rational argument when your opponent is screaming and sobbing and going boneless.

I carried him to the car.

As I buckled his seatbelt, through his tears he asked over and over again to go back to the museum to find his lost hat. I tried one last time to reason with him, but he was positive his hat was in the museum, and I was the monster preventing him from retrieving it.

I started driving, thinking the motion of the car would settle him. I played his favorite CD - the soundtrack to The Muppets - loud enough for him to hear over his own crying.

No change.

He cried the whole way home - forty five minutes of him bawling while I sang "Life's a Happy Song" and clucked along with Camilla the Chicken's rendition of Cee-Lo Green's "F**k You."

He was still crying when I parked in front of our building.

Still crying in the elevator.

As soon as we were inside our apartment, I pulled his hat out of the closet.

"See, here's your hat. It's not lost."

Ryan maintained his own set of facts. He cried, "MY HAT IS LOST!"

I showed him the Mickey Mouse sweatshirt. "See, this is what you wore this morning. It's right here. Everything's ok."
He just kept crying.

At a loss for what else to do, I brought him to his room, covered him with a blanket, and told him to come find me when he was ready to be rational.

Bock bock booooock.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Homework sucks

I don't remember dreading homework as a kid (I'm sure my mom will correct me if I'm wrong here). My memories of homework are more of a chore - it was something time-consuming to get out of the way so I could do something more fun.

Now, as a parent trying to get a kid to sit down and fill out worksheets, I dread homework.

I guess I never really understood the extent of Ryan's learning disabilities until I had to figure out how to add -ing to words.

Monday's homework started with reading a nonfiction story about a mother fox and her baby (I learned something new! A baby fox is called a kit!). Fine, that part was painless.

Then Ryan had to complete some vaguely-related worksheets.

Step 1: catch Ryan, get him to stay at the table. You! Hey you, the one bouncing off the walls! Get over here. 

Step 2: sensory break. Administer deep-pressure input. Have Ryan walk around the table on his hands.

Step 3: get him to hold a pencil properly. No, a pencil is not a rocket ship. No, a pencil should not be waved sideways in front of your face. Get that pencil point away from my eye!

Step 4: get Ryan to look at notice the existence of the worksheets.

Step 5: explain the first exercise. The worksheet says "Add -ing to each word. Write the new word on the line." There are five words (help, look, fix, lick, play) and five lines - wide-ruled, with a dotted line in the middle to guide penmanship. I pointed to the first word. "So here you would write, 'helping.'"

After much prompting, Ryan wrote "iG."

We will try again.

And again.

I print the word "helping" in small, neat letters, then ask Ryan to do the same; his pencil is waving in front of his eyes again.

I put Ryan on my lap, squeeze him tightly, bribe him with chocolate chips.

He's not getting it. I decide to move on to the next section.

The next part of the first worksheet says, "Use the words you wrote to finish the sentences. Write the words on the lines." There are some cryptic cartoons with incomplete captions, taunting us with those wide-ruled lines.

"Jan is __________ at the cats."

I point to the first drawing. Jan is a ponytailed zookeeper. She is leaning on a railing, smiling at lioness and her cub in a cage. The whole picture is less than two inches wide.

"What's the lady doing?"

No response. Pencil stimming.

I take away the pencil. "What's she doing?"

"Hey, give that back!"

"First let's look at this picture..."

On that whole first worksheet, Ryan managed to fill in one of the ten spaces.
We took a long sensory break, came back, had slightly better luck with addition, and then I decided we had suffered enough.

We will try again this afternoon.

And every afternoon for the next 11 years.

Where's my wine?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Everything old is new again.

That damn yellow chick is missing.



Remember the weeks and weeks of anxiety that started this summer about various lost toys? Remember the relentless meltdowns every time Ryan remembered that his yellow chick / giraffe / cow / frog was gone?

I thought we were past that. I thought he was over it.

I should never underestimate this boy's memory.

Returning to school after a vacation tends to churn things up in Ryan's head. For the couple of weeks it takes him to transition back to the school routine, we tend to see lots of regressive behavior - more meltdowns, more scripting, and sometimes the return of weird phases we thought had passed for good.

So this morning, while Ryan was fretting about the pain his loose tooth is causing him, it should not have shocked me when he let loose an anguished wail and screeched, "The yellow chick is lost! Got to find it, Mommy!"

Yes, you lost it on the school bus last July.

No, we can not find it.

Let's table this conversation for another six months.