Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Cognitive Dissonance...In which I rant

This morning I noticed #BeRomanticIn4Words trending.  I'm a curious sort so I clicked.  Most of the posts were silly like "I bought you pizza."  Some where sweet like "Baby, you're the best."  But one disturbed me.  It was "I hate kids too."

Of course say "I hate kids too" is totally anti-life, it's also in-human.  That's like saying "I hate people" which I understand can mean different things in different contexts.  Perhaps you mean you hate certain human behaviors.  Believe me I hate certain human behaviors too.  I would understand a person saying "I hate kids too" after a night of baby sitting.  They don't really mean they hate children.  They mean that the kids colored all over the wall and broke their cell phone.  Yeah, I would hate those behaviors too.  But in this context, we're talking about romantic words.  And telling someone that you hate children too is like saying I never want children ever in my life.

It's sad.

It's also cognitive dissonance.  Saying you hate kids is like saying you hate yourself.  You were once a child that someone loved and nurtured and put up with.  You were a child who colored on walls and broke things.  There are people who have no desire to have children themselves.  I am a Catholic after all.  I've met various religious people.  They would never once utter "I hate children too."  Mostly because it's cruelty to a particular group of people but also because it's like saying "I hate myself."

You might as well be saying "I hate old people."  Or any number of growth stages of human beings.  "I hate teenagers.  I hate tweens.  I hate the elderly."  These are all stages that all human beings go through.  Unless of course your life is cut short.

So please for the love of peanut butter.  Let's be a little more accurate with our words.  Let's not say "I hate children too."  Let's say what it really means:  I don't want any children of my own.  Or more accurately: I prefer sex devoid of it's biological function.  Because really what it is is not romance but pure selfish pleasure seeking.

If I were to put up a four romantic words, it would be "I'll clean it up." or "You can sleep in."  Because it's way more romantic for me knowing that my spouse has my back rather than mutually using each other for sexual gratification.

Rant over.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

HB has a Fantastic Day of School...Oh, and My Hair is Falling Out

Let me address the last, lest family members suddenly race into a panic.  Yes, my hair is falling out.  No, it's not an allergic reaction to anything.  I didn't dye my hair, and it suddenly fell out due to chemical burn.  I didn't leave my curling iron in my hair too long and thus fried a portion of it off.

But I doubt that I'm dying either (at least not quickly).  No, it's most likely that I need a medicine adjustment.  I noticed that my hair was falling out in the summer, but I didn't think too much of it until it started to seem like things were getting worse recently.  Now I feel totally un-energetic and well awful.  The last couple of days have been much worse.  Today my skin feels like I got a slight sunburn.

One of the things about taking a hormonal pill is that you have to monitor yourself a lot.  Too little and you run into problems.  In my case, I think my body has accumulated too much so my hair is falling out.  I would stop taking it, but I'd need to run that by my doctor first.  He may say that it doesn't make any sense and that it must be something else.

But at any rate, I see my doc tomorrow.  It's more frustrating to me to reach this supposedly golden age of my life just to see my body protest and stop working properly.  I joked around with my husband that although he may be going bald, I may get there before he does.  Then I asked him what he was going to do about that.  "Get you a wig."  He laughed.

And no the hair loss is not in my head (or on it).  I demonstrated this problem to Hubby.  I ran my fingers through my hair and out came some strands.  "Well, that's normal."  Until I did that about five times in a row and kept having more come out.  "Stop! Stop doing that," his said, his eyes huge. "That's not good.  Not good at all."

There aren't any bald spots that I've noticed.  It's just really thin looking and my hair is normally thicker.  So there you go.

Enough about me already.

HB had a fantastic day yesterday.  I braced myself for the worst because Mondays are usually horrible for him.  He's not a fan of the after school program and if he gets into "trouble" again they will expel him.  But he was happy when I picked him up.

It's because he's started his IEP stuff.  He told me that he worked on OT gross motor stuff and next Monday they plan on fine motor stuff- cutting paper.  He also worked with the speech therapist to come up with "I need a break cards."  I think he feels relief that people are (finally!) able to tend to his needs.  He didn't seem over whelmed or upset.  He didn't come home hating people and the world.  I'd say that's a huge improvement for him.

He also seems to understand what the cards mean because when I asked him what they are for, he told me that he could use one to go the resource room.  So it's good that he's able to take charge of himself, which is what I wanted for him in the first place.  I think it's what he wanted too.

You have to think of it this way.  He gets worked up over things real easily and he needs to be able to control some of his environment in order to calm down.  Giving him the option to walk away when it's too much (or not enough in some cases) is key.  I know that there have been times where he just couldn't do homework.  He was over whelmed and it led to a full on melt down.  So I've learned to ask him when he's ready.  Sometimes he's like "yeah, let's do this now so I can ___fill in blank with tv or computer___."  And other times he's "no, not yet" and he'll play with legos for 20 minutes and then say he's ready.  He prefers to work this way at his own pace.  Chaining him to a seat (figuratively speaking) for several hours a day is just pure torture for him.

So I'm happy that he's happy.  Because a happy kid, means he's happier at home and he's able to focus on learning which is why I send him to school in the first place.  Seems pointless to send him to school if he's not actually getting anything out of it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Imitation Game Review

Netflix recently added "The Imitation Game" to it's line up of movies.  I'm a huge WWII history buff and this piece of history, the cracking of the Enigma code, is one that like the Navaho Code Talkers has only recently come to light.

The problem with this movie is its historical inaccuracy.  The story revolves around Alan Turing, considered the Father of the computer, but it pits Turing against his colleagues.  This isn't historically accurate at all.  In fact, his colleagues actually worked alongside Turing in developing the machine.  They weren't opposed to it.  And similar to the movie, one of his colleagues made revolutionary suggestions to improve it (different person than the character in the film).  Likewise they from the beginning decided to attack snippets of code.

This bothers me, but what made me really upset is the fact that the Cumberbatch, the actor portraying Turing, made Turing out to have autism or Asperger's.  There's no evidence that Turing was autistic.  The people who knew him said as much.  Turing enjoyed many friendships, understood social relationships, and enjoyed jokes according to those who knew him just like neurotypical people do.

So what is Cumberbatch saying with his performance?  That gay people are autistic?  Currently autistics make up 1% of the population and gay people make up roughly the same number.  While there are gay people who are also autistics, there's no correlation between the two.

Or is Cumberbatch implying that true genius's are autistic?  That's simply not true either.  Autism wasn't diagnosed separately from other mental health issues until the late 1960s.  Research into autism or Aspergers didn't happen until the late 1930s.  So understandable there probably were people who were on the spectrum back then who didn't know it.  Being autistic doesn't automatically make you a genius nor does being a genius make you automatically autistic.  There's no correlation there either.

So what was Cumberbatch trying to do?  I haven't the foggiest clue, but his autistic-like performance does irritate me because he's portraying a real person who's not known to be autistic in the slightest.  If Cumberbatch wanted to portray an autistic person, why didn't he find a movie that is about an actual autistic?  Or he was looking to make Turing out to be eccentric? There are other ways to do that besides making the man seem socially inept.

If you want my opinion, skip the movie and read Turing's biography.  Cumberbatch's performance doesn't do justice to the real man.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Welcome to Norway

I debated how I should title this blog post.  It was between Welcome to Norway or What it's like to be HB and I thought the former was more intriguing.

Imagine you've learned that you are moving to Norway.  You've prepared yourself.  You've learned Norwegian.  You've even researched some Norwegian customs.  (If you're from Norway, may I suggest somewhere like South Africa and you've learned Afrikaans.)  You pack up your belongings and move there.

That's the analogy the school psychologist gave for what it's like to be HB.

I think the analogy is pretty accurate.  It's more accurate for him than saying "imagine crash landing on another planet." I used to date a gentlemen who was not from the States and English was not his first language.  I asked him about his thought patterns and his language skills.

He said at first he things went like this: gets information in English....translates it into Spanish (his primary language).....thinks of a response in Spanish......translates the Spanish response into English.....then respond back in English.

It's slow and muddied and awkward.  Thus social interactions and conversations are difficult.

When we met, he had been in the US for a while.  He said at that point he was able to think mostly in English when having English conversations.  His brain had adapted.  It wasn't perfect.  Some things he still needed to translate particularly common colloquialisms but surprisingly he said many English idioms are the same in Spanish so it wasn't that bad.

The idiom thing also tripped up Amanda Knox who told her employer "see you later" in Italian.  In English, the phrase means at some indiscriminate time.  In Italian it implies that you have already a set plan some time in the future.  Whether Amanda Knox committed murder is neither here nor there, but her treatment at the hands of the police (including not allowing her a certified translator and other international rights) was harsh.  Having a certified translator would have been led to better treatment because she didn't understand what she had implied and police would not have assumed.

Imagine HB living in a similar situation.  On the one hand, he runs into to benign social translation issues.  On the other side, people interpret what he means wrong.  Like when the secretary thought that because HB stopped his echolalia he understood that he was being distracting.  He doesn't.  Or that a teacher interpreted his laughing in her colleague's face as an insult, which again I highly doubt that.  Very young children laugh because they are trying to cheer people up.  Likewise he could have thought that the teacher was being silly or playing a game with him.

So I think next time someone asks "what's it like to be autistic" I'll say "well, imagine you've just moved to Norway."

Monday, October 10, 2016

The Big Day

So today was the big day of the big meeting in which we get an IEP or 504 plan for HB. 

It was a long meeting that lasted 2 hours. 

The basics are this:
Occupational Therapy (OT): for mid-line issues.  Basically he has trouble crossing the mid-line. Work on catching a ball, jumping jacks, dance moves. 

Speech Therapy (ST): for pragmatics and social interactions

Resource Room: So that he can work in a quiet environment (he gets over stimulated) and to be able to take breaks.  The main goal is to work on self-regulation so that in his classroom he can be able to say I need a break and giving him the option to take one or to push through to a goal if he's simply bored not over stimulated.

Reading Resource Room: It's a different room normally used for students who are behind in reading skills.  HB is actually ahead so he's going to get help with reading at his level, learning social skills/emotions through reading, and to read to the kindergarten classroom where he enjoys working on leadership/social skills.  Apparently the kindergarteners really enjoy having him read to them. In the last week this small tweek in his life has lead to him being a much happier kid.

Classroom: Break cards, possibly a timer to help with time concepts and transitions, continued use of therapy equipment, and continued use of computer time as an incentive to completing classroom work. 

Lunch: Since lunch is way too loud for him and causing him to have sensory regulation issues in the classroom, they suggested sending him with his noise canceling head phones.  This was something that I wasn't aware of.

The meeting consisted in part about the findings of his evaluations.  And this is what they discovered:  Bottom line he's very visual.  He's got very good visual spacial concepts.  It's in the very high range (I think the IQ assessment plugged it at 127).  Very poor on reasoning skills (IQ is 81-84 which is low end).  Once a though enters his head, he can't seem to let it go even if it's wrong.  He also can't do too much multi level reasoning skills.  At this point, it doesn't matter because in first grade a teacher gives you all the rules and you simply work on the problems.  But this area of development will be problematic in the future when they give you only a basic instruction and you have to figure out what your supposed to do on your own.  He may need to have someone map out exactly what he's supposed to do.  In other words, he's a super bright autistic.  He has the great capacity to learn, but it's going to take time.

Right now the goal is to work on self-regulation and sensory regulation.  Basically getting him to the point where he can say "I feel overwhelmed.  I need to go some place quiet to work."  or "I'm bored.  And I'd like some computer time."  Once that piece and routine is in place then they want shift to focusing his social related issues.  They are certainly going to work on his social stuff particularly letting others know when they are over-whelming or to recognize others' feelings.  But the foundation is having learning and being aware of how he feels and knowing what options he has available to exert self-control. 

Right now all I have is the assessments because they wanted our input on what they are going to do.  As they put it, it's a very individualized IEP (individualized education plan) because he is so bright and yet all over the map in other areas involving how he learns.  In a couple days, they should have something more finalized. 

It's wonderful that they are making his life so much easier.  Just simply allowing him to do his reading outside the classroom where he's so bored is excellent.  They can tailor make things for him so he's better able to express his needs through reading.  I can't wait to see how far he'll come. 

Plus I need to send this off to his state advocate so that she can put into place additional therapies within the house. 

HB has a such a bright future.  As one intern described HB after giving him an assessment.  "I would just love to take him home with me.  He's such a joy."  And I get to have him home all the time. I am blessed.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Let me Just Update You

So let me just update you while I work on the linens for church.  (Soaking can take a while).  We put in an offer on a house that's down the street as you recall.  They sent us a text asking if we would be willing to bite on a counter offer.  We agreed and so the place in now in contingency.  On Friday I go in to have the inspection done and barring now major repairs, we are set to receive keys on the property on St. Martin of Tours (or thereabouts).

I have St. Terese of Liseaux to thank for all this.  I've been praying a novena for her intercession on house hunting.  And because she's just that type of saint, there was a potted rose by the front door of the house.  No, I had no idea that she enjoyed house hunting.

This Monday morning we went to the allergist to rule out that as the reason for tonsil issues with Knee.  He is allergic to grass, but only very slight.  Not surprising as my father is severely allergic to grass and on top of that he has asthma.  The allergist doesn't think that his grass allergy is the cause of large tonsils, but he says sometimes these things don't show up on the allergy test and his panel was for only 20 common ones. He suggested giving him an OTC drug at night to see if that helped any.

The allergist was concerned about Knee flunking a hearing test at school.  That, he said, is not allergy induced.  He said his tonsils could be affecting his ears and told me to back to the ENT and ask to have his hearing tested more thoroughly.

As for HB, last week he was really moody and struggling.  Giving up is the best way to describe it.  I went and observed his behavior in the classroom on Wednesday (their door has glass).  For a while he was sitting and then he went around the room trying to engage his classmates in play.  What I saw was not naughtiness, but sheer boredom.  And since he lacks the ability to regulate his emotions very well (and really neurotypical children get into trouble too for being bored), he was wanting to do something.  Good for him really.  Bad though that he keeps being pulled out of the classroom for disrupting others.  He naturally doesn't understand why this compulsion is getting him into trouble.  And he can't really stop himself either (nor do I want him to, actively wanting to engage others when you're autistic is great).

Being that I am "the mom" I wrote a letter saying the problem is that he's bored.  Get him out of the classroom before it starts up and you all will be happier.  Give him something that's truly a challenge for him. He will be happier too because his confidence will be boosted and he'll be getting that stimulation he so craves.

And they listened to me.  The reading specialist at the school is going to pull him out to do, among other things, more challenging reading assignments, create his own comic books, and read to the kindergarteners.  As she put it though, he still has to complete his 1st grade work first (which he can do in about 5 minutes flat) before he can do all the fun things.

I'm so happy for him and even though he was nervous about school, I reminded him that he wouldn't be bored so he should give it a try today and see if that helped him stay out of trouble.

On October 10, we have the official meeting and that's when we get all the documentation that gives us better power (and the school power with the district too).

And that's what's been happening.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Wanted to Post

I've been wanting to post, but I've been so busy.  Basically a house down the street from us went on the market yesterday.  No exaggeration of that either.  It has the same street address.  It's bigger than our rental is because they expanded it.

So for those of you who have seen our rental.  Imagine that our living room was converted into a dining space with that weird wall opening turned into a door way.  And the Arizona room (enclosed porch to you non-Arizonans) was converted into a living room with a small room off to the side.  To access the small room, you'd either have to go through the living room or the Master bedroom.  It also has no closet. But this is fine because Hubby would use it as an office/game room.  Everything is exactly the same.  It's uncanny.

They basically updated everything.  The floors are tile (which I'd rather some carpet for the kids sake, but I guess we can invest in area rugs).  So it's a nicer bigger version of the house we're currently living in.

When we showed up to look at it this morning, someone was already peeking at it.  That's how hot our area is.  So this afternoon we put in an offer.  We'll hear back tomorrow.