Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Top 10 Tuesday

Top 10 Antiquated Words to Baffle Your Children

10. pedal pushers

Preferring not to get her cuffs wet or greasy, mom's pedal pushers were perfect for beach combing as well as bike riding.

9. peckish

Pass me a cracker, I am feeling quite peckish having skipped lunch today.

8. shades

Those new shades are just the right shape for your face.

7. frock

I love that new frock on you!

6. get up

That get up is not as flattering as the frock you wore yesterday.

5. succotash

I think I'll whip up some succotash with this summer squash from the farmer's market.

4. co-ed

Here comes a nicely dressed co-ed who might point us to some hot spots on campus.

3. grocery

When the fridge is bare, we must head to the grocery.

2. rap

Wanna rap with me until dinner's ready?

1. cruise the strip

After church shall we cruise the strip or check the surf?

I find a weird sort of pleasure sprinkling these dated expressions into my daily jargon, especially around Allie and her friends, who react with mortified expressions of utter dismay. They look cross-eyed, first at each other then back at me. What is she saying? Where is she from? Is she always like this?

Their reactions amuse and encourage my inner prankster. It's the same sort of glee I get from Anne Taintor's stationery. And since it's summer and we homeschool no more, it's as close as we get to educational lately. History and language all rolled into one. If my sample sentences don't offer enough contextual meaning, feel free to cross reference on Wordnik or A Way with Words.

Am I the only mom who is simultaneously hip and out of it? I think not. Will the rest of you chime in with an antiquated word in comment box. I am running out of material.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

What's in a Nametag?

We have spent years and hundreds of dollars working on some permutation of an appropriate greeting goal for Reid. The wording has changed over time as we process from preschool to high school but even to the untrained eye, it sounds pretty similar. Call it what you will: Good morning Miss Sue...hello I'm Reid...yo...high five...knuckles...handshake. Teams of teachers, speech therapists, tutors, and helpful adults plug away for the prize: a spontaneous greeting from Reid.

Little do they know the eruption of pleasure Reid spontaneously bestows on those he knows and loves (e.g. those he knows love him). Just ask Carla who was nearly accosted at the door everyday she'd arrive to visit. Or my mom when we deboard the plane in Nantucket. Reid can greet!! In fact, no one makes you feel as important as Reid does with a greeting.

At this point it's clear to me that Reid knows what an appropriate greeting is, how it wins social favor and influences people. He is also in full control of when he wants to use one.

Case in point: Reid and I frequent three Rubio's stores in the area. Whether after school, Saturday after a hike, or a night I don't feel like cooking, he is always game for some fresh Mex at this San Diego establishment.

Recently after ordering, we waited for our food to be ready.

"Order for Kim" came blasting over the microphone.

Reid was hovering at the pick up counter waiting for his familiar take out bag. A girl walked up giving nonverbal "excuse me cues," when I heard his cracking adolescent voice, "Oh hi Kim!"

She startled pleasantly and returned, "hi."

Great pick up line? Perhaps.

The same day at Vons, our local grocery store, he was negotiating to buy a video or Tracphon at the customer service counter. At the time, my best strategy seemed to be to get him to agree to leave it on hold with the clerk until we could "go home and talk to dad about phone plans." (He has yet to grasp how the monthly billing concept differs from the purchase price.)

"Ok," he acquiesced. Then boldly, "Celeste, how much is this?" he propositioned the clerk wearing the name badge. He is so endearing and genuine, I think if he'd have asked for her phone number, she would've written it down for him.

At Henry's, our other local market, he never fails to call the checker by name when asking for a balloon. Why don't teachers and speech therapists simply wear nametags if they insist on profuse greetings?

In my book, the greeting goal can go. It's been mastered.

As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him.
Mark 9:14-16

Jacob said, "Please tell me your name." But he replied, "Why do you ask my name?" Then he blessed him there.
Genesis 32:28-30

Friday, July 9, 2010


We are not big on sunscreen in this family. Although we are avid beach goers, and live in sunny San Diego, we forego conventional prevention strategies in favor of deferred maintenance. Scumscream, as we prefer to call it, is just too sticky, too greasy, too pore-blocking, too messy, and too get-in-your-eyes. We can't be bothered.

Hats, the same. Sunglasses too. Beach umbrellas? No. Only on occasion (like a baptism party or everyday-beach-week) do we lug out our pop-up shade tent. Fact is, we prefer to travel light for our brief stays at the beach. Chairs? Leave 'em at Longs. Towels, maybe one to share. A book, get real! We wear our suits, drive down, take a dip, dry off and swing back up the hill.

We spend most of our time actually waiting for a parallel parking spot to open up along our favorite strip of isolated beach. These coveted spots grant access to a crowd-free section of beach between two more popular public parking lots (ok, maybe I am anti-social). They also accommodate Reid's propensity to "wait in the car" until he's ready for the sandy transition across rocks to water or if he needs to escape the wind. It's a coastal variation on car camping one could dub, car beachgoing.

This presents a problem on vacations in Nantucket where Natty and Papa Jim move at a different pace. They take chairs which strap onto your backs, coolers of food, books, last month's periodicals, today's paper, ipods, cutlery and linens.

Literally, by the time they got their cups situated in the cup holders of the folding director's chairs, Reid was charging out of the surf announcing, "I'm done now, let's go home!"

Our compromising solution to gradually change his habit, build flexibility, and meet divergent expectations, was to designate a specific time that we'd leave. Jim let him hold his waterproof watch which he studied like a pixelated Disney trailer. Each day we inched the time up from 10 to 30 minutes of imposed reclining in the sun ("chill-axing" in the family vernacular), after his ritual dip in the waves.

Making it concrete like this worked...in part. That's not to say he played frisbee, relaxed, or read the paper. Picture him instead buried under a towel so the digital LED numbers were visible in the bright daylight. He burrowed there clock-watching like I used to do in gym class until dismissal time.

On the minute, he shot up erect with the announcement, "It's 4:30, let's go! Pack up everyone." Handing them paraphernalia and scooping up his towel, he beat feet back to the car. Always first and undeniably decisive, the kid has "therious leaderthkip thkills, as Kip would lisp. (Napoleon Dynamite being the flavor of the month last summer.)

But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait
for it patiently. Romans 8:24-26

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. Isaiah 11:5-7

Do Tell....got stims?

Our beloved home program case manager, Danielle, taught me many things. She listened to the ponderings of my heart for many hours, "played guys" (Playmobil and Winnie the Pooh) with Reid several mornings a week, and trained more tutors than I can recount. Our front door was a turnstile of professionals and paraprofessionals who all delivered: early intervention.

Very early in my education, Danielle shared from her researchers' point of view that if all of us could be plotted somewhere along the autism spectrum (which ranges from normal to severely autistic), then we must all have at least one defining tendency or trait or ritual or stim. If we were honest. Once she confided hers, I was quickly able to identify mine. Over time this enables my empathy with others.

Danielle had a thing for counting the joints on door hinges in her mind as a diversion during meetings or in homes or whenever. I have the anxious, oddly pleasurable habit of running my fingers through my hair and pulling out individual strands like farm girls in Ohio used to do with blades of grass before whistling through them in their thumbs.

I will also confess to a word game of my own creation that I've played with myself since school days. Seeing signage or titles, I get sucked into sorting the words into symmetrical patterns of vowels and consonants. The invisible, consuming game continues until the entire word or phrase comes out even like a division equation. It's akin to diagramming a sentence only by individual letter rather than parts of speech. Hyperlexic much? Danielle's response when I described it was, "Yeah, that's one!"

Reid watches Disney, Pixar, and Dreamworks logo trailers backwards and forwards as if memorizing them in his head. He stops and starts the DVD action in order to get a still shot in his brain of each frame. Then in bed or in the car, he rocks his head back and forth which seems to aids in the playback of those memorized scenes. If anyone knows of a paying job for which this skill is useful, please do tell. Here's an all time favorite. Oh the thrill of watching that white glowy trail encircle the castle!

After reading A Slant of Sun by Beth Kephart in those same early years, my mom went out and bought a dozen copies for the extended family. Then she commented, "as I read about her son's fixations, I have to admit I do that too. It made me realize how much I am like Reid." Bear in mind we are a family by adoption so this is more than evidence of the genetic predisposition.

If you care to take this a bit more seriously, here is an online Autism Quotient test which indicates traits that constitute the autism diagnosis and also gives some idea of where you might fall along the spectrum.

Elvis Sightings gives an excellent explanation of the repetitive movements associated with autism. It may be "unproductive, obsessive, obstructive, annoying, consuming" but I know and you know that it is also"pleasurable, centering, meditative, regulating, communing."

Go ahead, do tell us in a comment one of yours...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

On Earth as it is...

Need a summer movie rental (for mature audience)? As It Is In Heaven, a Swedish film nominated for Best Foreign Film Hollywood Awards available from Netflix, is incredibly thought provoking. It is a compelling story about how to really love your neighbors. It is also a testament to the power of music to transform a entire community. And how can you speak about love without inclusion!

Tore is a young man experiencing developmental disability in the film. Some in the community call him a "cuckoo" others accept, comfort, shepherd, even learn from him. The filmmakers realistically depict the interdependence model Kathie Snow extrapolates here in her Disability Is Natural newsletter. As God would have it here on earth, Tore is not the only one with special needs who needs a little help now and then.

Despite his innocence, he is wise to tension often sensing what others miss or ignore. This closing scene is meant to intrigue not to spoil. (If you want the preview instead click here.) As the town choir takes the stage at a choral competition without their conductor, Tore takes an unplanned leadership role. The result weaves together several threads of the movie.

Life is not about being able. It is not about achievement. It is not about winning. Redemption is messy and beautiful. It requires vulnerability and courage. In some measure, both require finding your own voice and joining a chorus of others.

God has a will and a purpose in each of our lives. The conductor in the movie states his calling early in life: to open people's hearts with music. A tutor of Reid's asked me recently, "What is yours?" I hemmed and hawed awkwardly, having just met her after all. "Go ahead," she urged, "there's no one listening, just you and me, what is it?"

She was unrelenting as I stuttered in embarrassment and false pride. I choked out what was pounding in my chest but had never been articulated: to convince people that there is always hope. I was grateful for her insistence last night as Reid and I lounged in the hot tub. Out of the blue he blurted, "Mom, what's your destiny?" I had an answer!

When I turned the question on him he shot back, "to sing."

What's yours?

This, then, is how you should pray:
"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
For if you forgive men when they sin against you,
your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
But if you do not forgive men their sins,
your Father will not forgive your sins." Matthew 6

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Top 10 Tuesday

Top 10 Signs it is Time to Change Schools

10. you have to ask them to reinstate a homework binder

9. music and sensory integration are withheld for poor behavior

8. parents are not welcome to observe class

7. school officials do not reply to emails

6. you have a pit in your stomach sending them each morning

5. child's not invited to be in the talent show

4. IEP meetings extend beyond 5 hours

3. you need two hands to count the incident reports

2. student comes home with bruises that match the weave in his sweater

1. child asks, Is God keeping me safe in the belly of the whale, like Jonah?"

'Nuf said. I have much to report and am grappling with how to best do it. Suffice it to say, for now, that we were painfully aware of autism during April's Autism Awareness month. DId you notice my breadcrumbs peter out? July may just as well be New Life Month then, for all the growth God has brought out of the fire we experienced. I am glad to be back in the saddle, writing and looking for His hand at all times.

But now, this is what the LORD says—
he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Isaiah 43:1-2