Thursday, August 23, 2012

Last Night in the Grocery Store

Last night in the grocery store, an employee stopped me. He said he didn't know if I remembered him, but when I was in the store with GL, last week, he'd said hi.

"Oh, yes, you're Colin. He's been talking all week about how his buddy said hi at the grocery store."

"Well, I didn't have time to stop and talk then, but I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed working with GL when I volunteered in the Special Ed classroom. I'm leaving for college next week, majoring in business, but I almost changed my major to Special Ed because of him."

I told him that I'd been worried about sending GL to high school, wondering if he'd have any friends. "But he has so many friends, the best part of high school turned out to be that all over town, wherever he goes, he's always running into his buddies from school."

"Everybody likes GL." Colin said, "He's a lot of fun. He's such a neat guy."

It was nearly closing time, and the last few shoppers were making their final selections. We chatted another minute or two, I thanked him, and left with a full and happy heart.

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Flyswat Funny

Had to pass this story on:
I was visiting my son and daughter-in-law last night and I asked if I could borrow a newspaper.

"This is the 21st century, old man," he said. "We don't waste money on newspapers. Here, you can borrow my iPhone."

I can tell you, that fly never knew what hit it!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Does Blogger Suck?

Yes. When I started this blog, I intentionally chose a simple template, one that I wouldn't have to fiddle with very often. Over the years, I added a photo at the top and some gadgets on the side. And it was good.

I occasionally had trouble getting it to display certain photos properly, but with some fiddling, I could usually make it work. Then there was one photo Blogger absolutely refused to cooperate on. No matter what I did, they insisted on cutting off half of it. I tried a new template, and it worked. It even kept most of my gadgets, but hid them in little retractable tabs on the side to keep things neat. Fine. But it ate the photo at the top, which had become the most recognizable symbol of my blog. My brand if you will. They claimed you could rearrange your page by dragging things around. So I put a photo on my page, and dragged it to the top. The template editor shows a little box labeled "photo" at the top of my page, and when I click on it, it shows my photo. But no matter what I do, blogger refuses to display my photo on my actual page.

So I told it to switch back to my old template. It did, but it removed all my gadgets, put in the gadgets it wanted, completely removed my ability to add or remove gadgets, and still no photo.

Does Autism Suck?

After reading here and here about parents hating or not hating their children's autism, I left the following comment:

I put it this way the other day: My kid doesn't suck, but sometimes his autism does.

When his meds are working, and he's his quirky but lovable self, it doesn't suck so much. Sure, it would be nice if, at age 15, he could safely cross a busy street by himself, and take some mainstream classes at his high school, but he loves school and enjoys his special interests. Not that his special interests make up for his social and intellectual deficits. Impressionist art? Sure. (Too bad he dropped that one.) Dental floss? Cash register receipts? Corporate logos? Not so much.

When his meds aren't working, and he's sleeping less than four hours a night, and screaming and pounding on the walls and trying to hurt himself and others, when he physically attacks every member of the family every day for a month or more, saying, "I'm going to kill you!" and meaning it, it sucks to be him, and it sucks to live with him.

The other thing that sucks is the general public expecting him to have some savant skill, and certain autistic celebrities encouraging this idea. They credit autism with their brilliance. Can we also blame it for his meltdowns? Some people's autism sucks worse than others'.

Yeah, I'm still here...

Things are a little better. Changed meds again, and GL is getting up at 6 or 7 instead of 4 or 5. It takes much longer (2-2.5 hrs. generally) for him to fall asleep at night, but he stays asleep. He's stopped pounding on the walls (mostly) and his screaming is markedly decreased. Now that the samples are gone, we are jumping through hoops to get Medicaid to pay for the new med.

He's not as irritable as he was, but he still yells at people for every little thing, even things they have no control over. As you know if you've been following his story, we go to the library every day it's open. He checks out the same DVDs over and over, but they are "new" every time he checks them out, unlike the DVDs we own that he's only seen once or twice and not watched in months or years. Of course, once he gets a DVD home, its 50-50 whether he'll actually watch it. He's always asking me to request things from the library online. (Our local library is relatively small, but it's part of an excellent system.) So when we walk in the door, he runs to the desk, asks loudly if we have anything in, and runs to the DVD bin while they check. Repeated reminders not to run or shout in the library have little effect. He grabs one or more DVDs, and runs back to the desk. If we have anything in, he keeps trying to grab it before it's checked out. I've been requesting a lot of stuff this summer, trying to keep him busy so he won't pick as many fights with BB. They've started carrying some titles in Playaway View format and some Wii games. He's really enjoyed some of these, but others he loses interest in as soon as we get them home. Of course, he still doesn't want to return them. But on days when they don't have anything waiting to pick up, he yells at the librarians, and I have to hurry him out of the building.

He also still hits himself frequently and makes improbable threats like, "I'm going to chop your head off!"We're seeing his psychiatrist tomorrow. I'm glad school starts in three weeks. Home schooling was difficult, but at least we were able to maintain the same routine year-round. How do the rest of you handle summer vacation?

We've always had one parent at home full-time, which is a financial stretch. I've looked into employment, but I could only work during the hours he is in school. Unless I had summers off, my earnings would all go to paying someone to watch him. How do you manage this?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Blogger ate my picture!

I was having trouble with Blogger cutting off the right-hand side of some photos, so I tried a different template. Now my trademark Lego family portrait has disappeared. Anyone know how to get it back?

And now, for something completely different

This is actually a family blog. I just happen to be the family member who posts most often. While my posts tend to be mainly about my family and the challenges of raising a boy with autism, I post whatever interests me. Darrell Dow is and online friend of mine who will be traveling to Sri Lanka at the end of this month to promote the efforts of World Vision there. (I have some unusual friends.) Since 1953, World Vision has been helping children and adults around the world both with disaster relief as well as longer-term economic and child sponsorship programs.

This guest post comes to you courtesy of Darrell Dow, who writes over at

The Ella Gap view towards the South Coast, Sri Lanka

Want to take a trip with me to an exotic place halfway around the world? On August 23rd I'll be leaving for the exotic island nation of Sri Lanka with a group of World Vision Bloggers and I'd love for you to come with us! Each day this bunch of talented writers, bloggers, and storytellers will be telling the story of Sri Lanka and how sponsoring children through World Vision changes lives there. The greatest part of this trip is that you don't have to leave your desk. I'll be happy to deal with all the shots, passports, airports, jet lag and language barriers -- all you have to do is tag along by visiting my blog at In the meantime feel free to check out my World Vision page and learn all about how child sponsorship works.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Internal monologue

This is how I suspect people on the spectrum experience most conversations. I have some spectrum tendencies, and I struggle to respond appropriately and still hear the other person's meaning over the internal monologue. Go to the original comic, roll your mouse over it, and read the hover-text; it's even more telling.

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Summertime Blues

Summer has historically been a difficult time for GL. With the longer hours of daylight, he has even more trouble sleeping than usual, and it's often in the summer that his meds become less effective or stop working altogether.

This summer, he has been getting up in the night, usually for an hour or more at a time, and often multiple times in the night. Then he's up by 5:30 am, (some days as early as 4:00) wanting help, attention, or company, and frustrated that we aren't up and ready to start the day. During the day, he has that tired look in his eyes, not to mention dark circles, and is irritable and demanding. By 3:00 pm, he is screaming and pounding on the walls. He continues screaming and pounding on and off until bedtime, and often until his bedtime meds knock him out. Some days, he starts the screaming and pounding at 2:00 pm or noon, and some days, it starts first thing in the morning, and continues all. day. long.

I try to keep it real here, the good and the bad. While he's had plenty of better times, we have also seen much worse. Some people think I should focus on the positive, and if I'm having a bad day / week / month, shut up, I guess. I see both optimism and pessimism as dishonest. If people come here to give or receive moral support, pretending everything is always fun, or even always okay, is not helping. So I feel like I should blog more. I've had things to blog about, good things, bad things, even a remarkable number of funny things have happened. But I'm tired, I have a seemingly never-ending to-do list, and most days, blogging just feels like one more thing.

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