Thursday, April 30, 2015

Z is for Zoo

On the 26th day of the A - Z Challenge, Z is for Zoo

Roger Williams Park Zoo is located in Providence, about 10 minutes or so from where we live.  In the early years, this place was my salvation.  Both David and Michael were great in a stroller and we would come here at least 4 days a week.  Sometimes my daughter would come too and we would all have a blast.

My daughter and sons

I enrolled David in an educational program Roger Williams Zoo offered to toddlers and we would go once a week for a morning session learning about one of the animals.  We spent time in a classroom type setting and then would visit the animal we learned about.  David loved it! 

In the fall there is a Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular featuring over 5000 lighted pumpkins with different themes every year.  The display is fabulous and we usually go twice during the month of October.

The early school years included many field trips to Roger Williams Park Zoo which I chaperoned and it was always a great time.  

The zoo also features a popular butterfly exhibit during summertime.  This year during April vacation there was a preview of the exhibit. A butterfly landed on Michael, then went to me, then to David.  I hear it's good luck when a butterfly lands on you.

Santa comes to the zoo by helicopter every year.  

The Rockettes were in town for a Christmas show when the boys were younger.  Two of them came to the zoo to greet those of us who donated coats for a coat drive.  David and Michael loved saying hello to them and the girls graciously posed for a photo!  Michael was enthralled.  

Mikey looked like the cat who swallowed the canary!  David was pretty happy too!
In the past there was a polar bear exhibit.  It had become outdated and they wanted to redo it, although as of now that project seems to have been put on hold.  But when the exhibit was there and David was very young, the polar bears had a baby.  He was named Tristan and he seemed to like David (or his Old Navy baseball cap).  Every time we would go to the zoo, we would wait by the window of the enclosure and Tristan would come down and swim near David. It was so cool! 

There was a dinosaur exhibit one year at the zoo.  I took the boys and Michael took off running.  I was panicked, but as I was going through the trail looking for him, that little shit was peeking around the corner laughing.  As I went after him, he ran.  Then he stopped, peeked around another corner and laughed.  Finally I got him and strapped him in the stroller.  

The zoo was one of the few places I felt comfortable taking the boys when they were little.  It was only a few minutes from home and most of the time they were fine in the stroller.  We never tired of going there and we even visited last week during April vacation.  They are now introducing some programs where you can pay to feed some of the animals.  I think we'll have to try it!

Thanks for visiting my blog during the A-Z Challenge.  I have enjoyed meeting and 'chatting' with some of you and appreciate the comments and follows!  

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Y is for Yesterday

On the 25th day of the A - Z Challenge, 
                 Y is for Yesterday

"Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away
Now it looks as though they're here to stay
oh, I believe in yesterday"

As I was trying to come up with a Y post, this song popped into my head, so I decided to go with Yesterday as my Y post.  

It seems like yesterday that we had two beautiful little babies with all the hopes and dreams that new parents have. 

It seems like yesterday that we spent hours in the emergency room when David had a severe reaction to dairy and we learned about his food allergies, which Michael later shared.   

It seems like yesterday when we received the devastating diagnosis of autism for our sons. 

It seems like yesterday that I was up driving around all night so that Michael would finally go to sleep, stopping at an all night Dunkin Donuts for an iced coffee and later at a construction port-o-potty so I could pee.

It seems like yesterday that we began this 'autism' journey, not even knowing what autism was, and having to navigate through immunizations and education.

It seems like yesterday when David finally answered me instead of repeating everything back to me.  

It seems like yesterday when we planned our first vacation and stressed out wondering if the boys would flip out being away from home.

It seems like yesterday when Michael finally became fully toilet-trained.

It seems like yesterday when Michael would melt down practically every day for some reason or another.

It seems like yesterday when I was pretty much home-bound because I wanted to avoid the embarrassment of being out in public if the boys acted up.

It seems like yesterday when I would drop Michael off at school and listen to his cries and screams as I walked out the door.

It seems like yesterday when we rented our beach house the first time.

It seems like yesterday when we first ate out together as a family in a restaurant.

It seems like yesterday when the boys got awards at school for their high scores on the NECAP tests.

It seems like yesterday when David was appointed to Student Council and later, Michael was too.

It seems like yesterday when we took NY by storm, went to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and Michael navigated the subway system and got us around.

It seems like yesterday when both boys made the High Honor Roll at their middle school.

It seems like yesterday when they were just babies and not young men.

We've come a long way from yesterday's trials and successes and are looking forward to many tomorrows.  

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

X is for Xanax

On day 24 of the A - Z Challenge X is for Xanax

Couldn't think of an X word that would have been relevant, so I went with Xanax!  I don't take it.  But I do know several moms that have autistic children that do.  They call it their 'happy pill'.  Personally, I prefer a martini!

I thought I'd lighten it up today with some of my favorite xanax memes!

Monday, April 27, 2015

W is for What Comes Next?

On Day 23 of the A - Z Challenge, W is for What Comes Next?

When I was younger, I never knew anyone who was autistic.  My only perception of autism was from the movie Rainman. Today, it seems that everyone either knows someone or has a family member that is on the spectrum.  

However, when I wonder about what happens in the future, I am very concerned.  My husband and I aren't going to live forever.  In the earlier years, I worried what will happen to David and Michael when we aren't around.  My daughter said to me a couple of years ago when she had started seeing her current boyfriend, "You know Mom, I told Tom that if anything ever happens to you and David, I would take care of David and Michael."  As they are getting older, I think David will be able to be self-sufficient.  I do worry about Michael, but between his brother and sister, he should be OK too.

But what about the others.  Sure, some on the more mild side of the spectrum will go to college and have meaningful careers.  Some will have siblings or close relatives to help out.  However, there are many more that have severe issues, impairing their ability to live on their own.  What will happen to them?  One woman I know has a 13 year old nephew with autism.  He is totally non-verbal and still in diapers.  He is prone to outbursts and is uncontrollable so he was placed in a hospital program a year ago.  They were told he would be toilet trained in 6 months.  He's not. For all intents and purposes, he's institutionalized.

Dateline did a one hour special earlier this month where Kate Snow and the Dateline team followed the journey of two autistic boys and their families.  Currently, developmentally disabled children can stay in the education system until they are 21.  Once they turn 21, they are no longer eligible for state programs.  Dateline reported on the 3 years after the boys turned 21 and how difficult it was for the families to get them into a good program, how the progress these kids made over the years of special education was in danger of being lost, how they families spent every penny they had to try and find constructive outlets to keep the boys from regressing in speech and social progresses.  The eventual outcome for both families was relatively positive, after great personal expense to the families, but frankly I was a little disappointed in the show.  I think it portrayed the exceptions but not the norm that happens to a lot of severely affected kids and their families.  I read that almost 80% of special needs kids ultimately live in broken homes, that one of the parents just can't deal with the situation and they leave.  At one point during the Dateline show, one of the alternatives was to place one of the boys in a program where the other autistic young adults just sat around all day and had no real structure or learning to their day.  They were just put in a room to occupy their time, lost in their own worlds.  

In the next few decades, as the children outlive their parents, I am very concerned as to what is going to happen to those incapable of caring for themselves and what type of care they will be able to get, if any.    


Saturday, April 25, 2015

V is for Vaccine

On Day 22 of the A - Z Challenge, V is for Vaccine

Vaccines are a hot topic for debate.  On the one hand, vaccines have eradicated many once deadly diseases.  They protect us from other debilitating diseases.  But ongoing questions remain as to the safety of vaccines, especially in relation to autism.  

The CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics assure us over and over that there is no evidence that vaccines cause autism.  Furthermore, a formerly well respected doctor was caught falsifying data which claimed there was a vaccine-autism link.  In spite of all this, many parents continue to insist that vaccines caused their childens' autism.

In 2000, I read an article in the American Bar Association magazine regarding the increase of autism from 1 in 10,000 20 years prior to 1 in 150.  The culprit, some believed was thimerosal, a mercury additive that was used to stabilize multi-dose vaccines.  My husband and I did further reading on the subject and decided to err on the side of caution and not allow our baby to receive vaccines with thimerosal.  

I followed all the recommendations when pregnant regarding staying away from fish containing mercury, exercised and followed a very healthy diet.  When my son was born, we read all the inserts in the vaccines and if there was even a trace amount of thimerosal in a particular vaccine, we obtained a prescription from our pediatrician and procured the vaccine from another pharmaceutical company that did not contain thimerosal.  We fully vaccinated my son.

When pregnant with Michael, we took the same precautions.  He was a difficult baby.  I was up at all hours with him while David was the calm angelic type, but he had a few quirks.  One thing we noticed was he would balance a ring from his toy on his finger and watch it go back and forth.  But we dismissed any question of autism as I fully believed thimerosal was responsible for the increase in autism but neither of my sons received any vaccine with thimerosal.  

Let me say for the record that I fully believe with 100% certainty that my sons' autism was directly caused by thimerosal in vaccines.  You may wonder "How is that possible if you didn't give them any vaccines with thimerosal?"

One night, Michael wouldn't sleep and we were flipping through the TV channels.  We came across C-Span where they were repeating a Congressional Hearing called Vaccines and Autism.  As we watched, one of the doctors testifying  stated thimerosal was also in the Rho-GAM shots given to pregnant women at 28 weeks if they had a negative blood type.  It was also given if there was any bleeding during pregnancy or if an amniocentesis was done.   I could feel the blood drain from my face.  My blood type is O-. I had early bleeding with Michael, so during my pregnancy with him, I received 2 RhoGAM shots, one early on for the bleeding and the "routine" one at 28 weeks. 

David is more on the mild side of the spectrum while Michael is more moderate. I had 2 shots with Michael and only 1 with David.  I never took a flu shot while pregnant as I knew they had high levels of thimerosal.  When I spoke with the Brown doctor who was researching the MMR/autism link (back in my M is for Measles post), I told him about the RhoGAM.  He said, "you're wrong. Thimerosal was taken out of RhoGAM in 2001."  But 10 minutes later he phoned back and said, "Oh my God, you were right.  There was a 2 year shelf life on the RhoGAM and you did have the shots with thimerosal."

As I am writing this, I am crying.  I put so much effort in researching the thimerosal/autism link with childhood vaccines, how could I have missed this?  I have never been able to forgive myself for not even considering thimerosal could have been in the RhoGAM.  I would have absolutely refused the shot.  When my daughter was born, the RhoGAM shot was given within 72 hours of delivery.  I would have insisted on that protocol, or I would have sought out a thimerosal free shot.  When I started researching RhoGAM after the fact, I found an interesting statistic.  I don't know if the numbers have changed but 11 years ago there was a study that said 15% of the entire population is RH- (negative blood type).  But at that time 50% of autistic children had mothers that were RH-.

The CDC and other doctors claim autism has risen because of environmental issues, genetic tendencies and better diagnosis.  In 2000, autism was 1 in 150. Now, in 2015, it is 1 in 68.  I am no rocket scientist, but I don't buy it.  It is too much of a jump in only a 15 year time-frame.  There may be some part of genetics playing a role but I believe the thimerosal is the trigger.  

I believe in vaccines.  I do not believe in thimerosal.  In single dose vaccines, the addition of thimerosal is not necessary except to pad the pockets of the thimerosal manufacturers.  For every company that uses thimerosal in it's vaccine, there is another that doesn't.  There have been no comprehensive studies on either side that have or haven't proved the thimerosal/autism link conclusively, just the reviews of old studies and new limited studies.  When they 'researched' the effects of giving 2 flu shots in 2009 when the H1N1 strain came out, I read the control group was a group of 11 people.  Are you kidding me?  

Since 2009 when both regular flu shots AND H1N1 flu shots were given to babies and pregnant women, autism numbers increased from 1 in 88 to 1 in 68.  My sons have egg allergies and do not get flu shots. Flu shots are manufactured in single dose and multi-dose vials.  Multi-dose vaccines need a preservative. So maybe it's time to eliminate the multi-dose vials.

We are fortunate. David and Michael are autistic but don't have some of the severe issues that others are dealing with. I am confident this is due to our insistence in ensuring that they didn't get childhood vaccines with thimerosal.  I truly believe their autism would have been much more severe had we not been diligent with their vaccines.  

Back in 2000, the CDC said that thimerosal was taken out of vaccines.  That was an outright lie.  Vaccine manufacturers had cut back on thimerosal but in many cases use a trace amount.  The Bush Administration granted pharmaceutical companies the ability to claim vaccines were thimerosal-free even if they contained a trace amount of thimerosal.  Even if claimed 'thimerosal-free', the package insert would still list thimerosal.  Also, since the number of vaccines have increased, how many trace amounts may cause an issue?  Each person processes mercury differently so 10 shots with 10 'trace' amounts may affect a number of children differently, therefore the 'spectrum'.  In addition, the flu shot does not contain a 'trace' amount of thimerosal but up to 50 micrograms of thimerosal.  So given the increased number of vaccines, some containing the trace amount of thimerosal and the flu shots which have more than a trace amount, the 'reduction' of thimerosal which the CDC claims in vaccines is really an oxymoron.  

The Vaccine and Autism Congressional hearing we watched also contained testimony from a respected research doctor at Baylor College of Medicine who said when adult brain cells were brought in contact with thimerosal, they sent off some type of shoots to 'get away' from the thimerosal.  He said he wanted to continue his research as he was seeing the same patterns in both autism and alzheimer's brains.  Given the number of elderly getting flu shots every year, I found this comparison interesting.  

In addition, the Homeland Security bill passed after 9-11 had a provision snuck in last minute which prevented pharmaceutical companies from lawsuits for thimerosal harm.  So if thimerosal is so safe and not an issue, why was this provision snuck in, in the eleventh hour of the Homeland Security Bill?  

My question however is this?  Since thimerosal is not a necessary component of single dose vaccines and does not affect the efficacy of the vaccines, why not actually take ALL of the thimerosal out of those vaccines, and see where the statistics go?  

This post was written based on my own opinions and is based on my own research over the past 13 years.  I am not a medical doctor and I realize not everyone shares my beliefs.  

Friday, April 24, 2015

U is for Upstate New York

On the Day 21 of the A - Z Challenge, U is for Upstate New York

After we had success with taking David and Michael away for a week vacation in Vermont, my husband wanted to take them for a long weekend to Cooperstown, New York to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame.  David and Michael really enjoyed watching baseball games on TV and we had taken them to a couple of Red Sox games at Fenway Park, even though they are Yankees' fans.  

I searched for places to stay in Cooperstown that had some sort of kitchen facilities and found two places, one was in Cooperstown and the other was just outside of Cooperstown, The Meadowlark Inn.  I visited the Meadowlark's website and they had a wonderful slide presentation showing a beautiful quaint inn with pristine grounds and they even had a baseball field on the property.  Yup, that was the place for us.  

We love to go to Cooperstown and have been going every June and September for the last several years.  We've made friends both there and in Sharon Springs which is about 20 miles away from the Inn.  We've gone to Harvest Festivals, Garden Festivals, Kite Festivals, the Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown Farmers Museum, Go Cart racing and a host of other activities!  We get to eat dinner as a family at the 204 Bistro in Sharon Springs where Norm and Jim prepare David and Michael allergy free dinners.  All in all, Upstate NY is always a good idea for us.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

T is for Thomas the Tank Engine

On Day 20 of the A - Z Challenge, T is for Thomas The Tank Engine

The first family outing we attempted was a trip to Edaville Railroad in Carver, MA which is a little over an hour from Providence.  It was June in 2007, David wasn't quite 6 and Michael was a little over 4.  We had taken them out to our local zoo for outings but usually Michael would act up and I would have to get them home.  But Thomas the Tank Engine was going to be at Edaville Railroad and the boys loved the TV show, so I bought tickets.

Edaville Railroad has been around for years and is located on property among cranberry bogs.  There is a steam engine that rides around the property, as well as kids' rides and vendor booths.  Edaville Railroad hosts events such as Thomas the Tank Engine days, Hello Kitty days, cranberry festivals and the Christmas events.  

We packed lunches for the boys and headed out in the morning, hoping the boys would enjoy the day, and praying Michael would not throw any tantrums as we would be an hour from home.  The tickets we bought for admission also included a 2:00 train ride.

David and Michael were so excited to see Sir Topham Hat that they went right up to him to say hello. (And no, David was not flipping him off! But I'm not sure what he was doing with his fingers!)

They were thrilled to see Thomas and surprisingly they were very patient in line while waiting for their turn to ride the train!  We were able to get a family photo after our ride.

Other than our occasional short trips to the zoo which is only 10 minutes away, this was the first all day excursion we had attempted with the boys. It went very well.  The only one glitch was when Michael decided he had to pee and he pulled his pants down to do his thing in the middle of the field that was doubling as a food court.  Thinking back now it's pretty funny, but then I just wanted to crawl under a rock!

Could things actually be getting a little normal?  To me, this was a little light at the end of the tunnel and it made me a little more optimistic about taking them out more.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

S is for Stimming

On Day 19 of the A - Z Challenge S is for Stimming

Stimming, self-stimulating behavior is very common  for autistic children although non-autistic individuals may also perform these behavioral patterns.  

It is believed to be a protective response to over-sensitivity to stimuli, and also a way to relieve anxiety and other emotions.  

Since Michael and David were in classrooms with other autistic children, I noticed many of them had some sort of stimming behaviors. 

Michael had a lot of stimming issues.  He used to do this tick of moving his neck which almost looked like a seizure.  He would pull up the collar of his shirt over and over and one of our friends started calling him "Drac" (Dracula).  He would also stare at wheels and anything in motion and flap his hands.  We kept saying he was going to fly away.  He used to line his cars up from the living room to his bedroom.  David used to balance a ring on his finger when he was small and watch it go back and forth. He also used to wave his finger around, faster that I ever thought was humanly possible.

The behaviors have become less frequent as they are getting older.  They both have stimming pretty well under control at school.  I notice David and Michael falling back on them when they get really excited about something. If David is really excited  he has this way of tapping a pencil so fast it looks like a film in fast motion.  We all laugh about it, including him.  From what I've read, we're not supposed to draw attention to it or tell them to stop.  But we do.

Stimming behaviors in some cases can cause injury, such as head-banding and self-rubbing and scratching.  In some individuals, drugs are prescribed.  Thankfully, David and Michael's stimming behaviors were harmless and we have again been extremely lucky.  

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

R is for Repeating

On Day 18 of the A - Z Challenge, R is for Repeating (Echolalia)

David was slow to talk, so we bought learning DVD's for him to watch and we also read a lot to him.  He always loved books and was fascinated by educational TV shows.  He gradually started building a vocabulary but didn't really have conversational skills.  If I asked him a question, he'd repeat it back.  This was echolalia his teacher explained to me.  I would say, "David, do you want a glass of water?".  He would answer, "want water."  I would ask, "Do you want to go outside?"  He would answer "want to go outside."  I would say, "Do you want to watch TV?".  He would answer, "want to watch TV.", and so on.  

At this point in our journey, I was reading about ways to stimulate the brain and one thing I found was a recommendation to include Omega 3's for the brain.  Since the boys were young and didn't swallow pills, I found a strawberry flavored fish oil liquid supplement at Whole Foods and every morning my husband and I coaxed and/or forced it down with a medicine dropper.  Many mouthfuls were spit on me and it smelled nasty.  But every day we managed to get some in them.

It must have been about 6 weeks after adding this supplement to their breakfast routine that we began Christmas break.  I asked David, "Do you want to watch Rudolph?"  And he said, "Yes."  (Writing this is making me cry).  It is such a small thing, but to us it was huge.  

I am not a good writer.  I've always wanted to write a book and I even have a couple of stories in mind but keep getting stuck.  But my son, well that's another story.  David, who didn't speak until he was four, and didn't begin conversing until he was 5, wrote a story called A Small Man's Journey to the Big Apple in 6th grade for a 1000 word a day challenge in English Class.  With his permission, I am sharing the beginning of his story...

Chapter 1:  The Origin of Mr. Hopnoggin and Mr. Torture

A young boy was playing in the playground.  His mother was watching him because this particular boy was accident prone.  Suddenly he tripped and fell on the concrete.  His left knew was bleeding uncontrollably.  He bawled loudly and his crying screech was heard by all his neighbors.  His mother quickly drove him to the doctor's office.  Waiting in the waiting room, he bawled so loud, it interrupted an important check-up with the doctor.

After a few minutes, but to the boy felt like an hour, he was allowed to be seen.
"Mrs. Ninenburg, the doctor will see you now", the nurse told her.  

Little Henry, as he was called, was brought to Dr. Saldzillle.  "Whate seems to be the probleme?" Dr. Saldzille asked in a thick Italian accent.  

"Once again, he seems to have a cut.  But this one is enormous!" Mrs. Ninenburg said.  

"Well, I'd saye you shouldn't let him playe outside for a day or so and lete the cut heale." Dr. Saldzille told her.  

He was soon brought home and watched television while he was eating.

"Mommy, why can't I go outside?" he asked her.

"It's a long story Henry" his mother answered.

Young Henry's mom left to go on a few errands.  So he stayed alone in his house.  It was a comfortable house.  The hallway was filled with paintings of old relatives.  Antiques were all gathered in one room.  Jewwelry was protected by a vault with a combination.  Credit cards were scattered all over his dad's room. They were a very rich family.  

He was watching his favorite television show on his flat screen TV.  While eating, he leaned back on this chair.  The chair creaked and fell back.  His head hit the floor with a hard thud.  His brain hopped around like a pinball in a pinball machine.

David thinks the story is too simple and is working on something else that he won't let me see.  His seventh grade teacher is so impressed with work he's been turning in this year that she wants to look into getting some of it published.  This boy amazes me with the things he can accomplish when he puts his mind to it.  

Monday, April 20, 2015

Q is for Questions

On Day 17 of the A - Z Challenge, Q is for Questions

David always asked a lot of questions.  I would get very frustrated at times when one question would turn into twelve.  He would ask the same question in several different ways, almost as if he was cross-examining me and wanted to catch me in a lie!  It drove me crazy!

In 4th or 5th grade, a note was sent home from the nurse that they were going to be discussing puberty in health class.  It was just basic stuff, not the nuts and bolts of it.  I braced myself for the questions, but there weren't any.  About a month after they began the puberty topic, I had a night out planned with my friends.  David had hinted around about what they were learning in health, so I told my husband, "You have the talk with him.  He's going to ask a million questions and you need to explain it."  

My husband agreed and I left for dinner and a show, Jersey Boys, with four of my friends.  When I returned home I asked my husband if he spoke with David. He said, "I didn't have to, he had already googled it and knows everything."  

Lately, he still asks questions, but seeks out the answers first, probably still to see if he can catch me in a lie, or mistake!  He takes after his father, they both always have to be right...

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sunday Thoughts on the A-Z Challenge 2015

Week three of the A-Z Challenge is complete and I am surprised to have kept up so far, especially in light of the fact that I decided to participate in the challenge on March 31.  

I originally didn't have much of a theme planned.  My blog is a personal blog and I had just thought about blogging about a mish mash of topics. I hadn't really planned much out in advance.  

My first post for the A-Z Challenge was A is for Autism Awareness Month.  One of the A-Z admins visited my blog and commented that she thought it was great that I was blogging about autism for the challenge.  And so my 'theme' was created.

While I thought about participating in the 2013 and 2014 challenges, I didn't think I would be able to pull it off.  As we approach the last week and a half of the 2015, I have ideas for most of the remainder of the posts, but I have to admit I am stuck on U and Y.  (ideas welcome!)  

I have really enjoyed reading and responding to the comments and it's been a lot of fun visiting new blogs that I have found through participation in this challenge.  


Saturday, April 18, 2015

P is for Potty Training

On Day 16 of the A - Z Challenge, P is for Potty Training

Potty training was a huge challenge.  Boys tend to take longer than girls and I found that to be true.  David was fully potty trained by the time he was 4.  But Michael was a different story.  He got the peeing down, (other than wearing pull ups at night) by the time he was 4.  He would NOT poop in the potty.  We coaxed, we let him watch David, we begged, but Michael would have none of it.  He knew when he had to go and would go in his room, get a pull up, put in on and go behind the living room chair.   There was a pull up in his back pack for school just in case, however he never rarely went at school.

One day for some reason I missed a call on my phone from school.  When I saw the school number a half hour later,  I immediately called back.  It was Michael's kindergarten teacher and they didn't find his pull up.  He cried because he had to go and the CNA in the room sat with him for 20 minutes while he sat on the toilet and eventually pooped.  But for nearly 4 months that was the one and only time he did.

As we approached Valentine's Day that same school year, I mentioned to the boys that we had to get Valentines cards for the kids at school.  I casually said to Michael, 'let's do poopy on the potty and then we'll go to Target for the Valentine's Day cards and I'll get you a truck."  He said "All wight, " walked into the bathroom and pooped on the toilet.  I was thrilled and kept praising him. We called Daddy to tell him! Michael didn't know what the big fuss was, he was just matter of fact about it.  We went to Target, he got his truck and then proceeded to poop on the toilet 4 more times that evening.  And that was that, he was trained, other than night time.  He was almost 7 before we could eliminate the night-time pull-ups.

I still don't understand his reluctance up until that point.  He would know when he had to go since he'd get his own pull up and put it on.  But once he was ready and did it that first time, (actually second time) there was no stopping him.  

Friday, April 17, 2015

O is for OCD

On Day 15 of the A - Z Challenge, O is for OCD.   

OCD, Obsessive Compulsion Disorder is a common issue for some with autism, although in my house I think we all have some symptoms of it.  

My husband claims I am OCD because I always forget things when I leave the house. I wonder if I locked the door.  Did I shut the freezer.  Is the stove burner off.  From what I've read, they are classic signs of OCD.  

My husband is a germophobe, although not in the classic sense.  He doesn't go crazy with washing his hands or using hand sanitizer.  As a matter of fact, he doesn't like to wash too often because it 'dries out his hands'.  But he does go through boxes and boxes of plastic gloves.  He also will use a tissue to pick up the TV remote and change channels.  I call him knuckles because he will pick things up, especially dished with his knuckles.  It makes me crazy!

David has picked up his father's nutty 'clean' obsession.  He opens a door with the bottom of his shirt and will use his elbow or feet to push it open.  He will wash his hands over and over if he touches something, but I notice he does it more when his father is around.  I think on some level he realizes it's a little obsessive.  He'll also use a tissue to pick things up especially if he's getting ready to eat and usually when his father is home. 

Michael will go into a room after someone leaves and makes sure the light is out.  He is also fixated on locking doors.  He will ask 10 times when we leave the house, "is the door locked."

I don't think OCD is a symptom of my son's autism.  This particular affliction is most likely hereditary and in some cases, learned!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

N is National Recreation Trail, Newport Cliff Walk

On Day 14 of the A - Z Challenge, N is for National Recreation Trail, Newport Cliff Walk

Have you ever had one of those days where you planned to do something and it wound up being one of the best times you ever had?  

The Cliff Walk in Newport hugs the shore and is a walk in front of the opulent Newport Mansions.  I've lived in Rhode Island most of my life and have never walked this path.  Late last summer, I made plans with a friend to go with me, David and Michael for a walk along the cliff walk.  I brought lunch for the boys while Linda and I planned to have dinner on my deck when we returned home.  

At the beginning of the Cliff walk was the Chanler Hotel and Spiced Pear Restaurant.  I remember reading about the Spiced Pear in the paper a while back.  It was highly recommended.  I said to Linda, "We should stop for a drink after, I heard this place was really good", and she agreed.

The walk was a lot of fun, we peeked over fences, walked along the ocean and got a little exercise.

After our walk we went into the Spiced Pear.  Lunch was ending in 20 minutes and hardly anyone was in the restaurant.  We decided to have an appetizer and drink and David asked if they could eat here.  I figured it was a highly reputable restaurant in Newport, perhaps they could accommodate the allergies.  The waiter checked with the chef and he said he could make them a turkey wrap.  They couldn't eat the fries, but he gave them chips and a pickle.  They were thrilled.  Linda and I ordered pear french martinis and grilled salmon salads.  The food was tremendous, the kids were thrilled to be eating out, and Linda and I were thrilled that the boys were thrilled.  We enjoyed a leisurely lunch, all by ourselves, and laughed and laughed.  I texted my husband photos of the boys eating and he texted back "where are you?"  I texted "Spiced Pear".  He came back with "THAT'S THE MOST EXPENSIVE RESTAURANT IN NEWPORT".  Linda and I were laughing so hard we couldn't breathe.  "I know"  I texted back.

After I went to the ladies'  room, the boys went to the men's room and the waiter brought the check. When I looked at it, I burst out laughing.  Linda asked how much and I was laughing so hard, I couldn't even speak, so I handed it to her.  She started laughing too.  The waiter must have thought we were crazy.  We planned on stopping for chocolate sushi (the most OMG desert I have EVER had in my life) in Jamestown on the way home.  For some reason I googled the restaurant and they were closed that day.  I had paid the check but motioned over for the waiter and requested a desert menu.  The boys returned from the mens room, their eyes wide.  "There's a TV in the bathroom!!!"   I asked "What was on?"  They said in awe, "ESPN".  

Ladies room sink
Linda and I had espresso and cappuccino and we split a "lollipops" desert! 

We seriously laughed all the way home.  Everyone had a great time.  We never expected a simple walk to be so much fun.  The food was great, the company was the greatest, and the men's room had a TV!  My credit card got a good workout!  And...when we got home, I didn't have to cook!