Why "Running with Bunions"?

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Until We Find Him

If I have a child who’s lost I’m gonna look for him how long? I’m not gonna look for him a month. I’m not gonna look for him a year. I’m not gonna look for him six years. I’m gonna look for him until I find him or die. I’m gonna look for him UNTIL.

-Dr. Phil implores Tim to not give up on his son (paraphrased): https://www.drphil.com/shows/2121/

According to a recent educational review, in the two years since he came to live with Super Daddy, started school and ABA therapy, and received consistent at-home support, Wonder Boy has learned to read just 11 sight words. He can’t yet add two single-digit numbers to find a sum and requires assistance to remain engaged in an activity. His “cognitive function is an area of concern as evidenced by poor performance in learning new skills, age appropriate adaptive behavior skill development and below expected levels of understanding.”

It seems progress is slow to intermittent. It’s trailed, waned, drooped and declined. But? There is progress.

In the last two years, Wonder Boy has learned to:

use the potty, wash his hands, brush his teeth, dress himself, tie his shoes, zip, snap, fasten. He now cheerfully consumes a variety of healthy foods like meats, fruits and vegetables; his culinary vocabulary having expanded from frozen pepperoni pizza, goldfish and skittles.

He reads musical notes in both bass and treble clefs and simultaneously plays those notes on the piano. On the trampoline, He jumps, hops, flips.

He can run a mile without stopping.

He knows and expresses the names of the people in his life, that a stove and refrigerator are in the kitchen and a couch is in the living room. He requests the bathroom and asks you to “close the door” as you leave. He fills family water glasses at mealtime.

He still likes Thomas the train books but now also sits with I Spy readers, the “How Does a Dinosaur” series and Nursery Rhyme picture books. He follows words, turns pages and laughs appropriately at funny illustrations.

He says please, thank you, you’re welcome, covers his mouth when he coughs and is learning to say “bless you” in response to a sneeze.

He says “I love you.”

He communicates using an AAC Device, Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) and words. He gives world class hugs and squeezes.

And? He can read 11 sight words consistently, count to 30 and say his ABC’s. He knows his colors and expresses a preference for “red.” He writes his letters on the line. In therapy, he’s working with facilitators to compile a list of 300 mastered nouns.

All this in only two years!

True, there are breaks in his ability to maintain momentum. A portion of his life is spent in a purportedly unstructured, unsupported environment. Where his AAC device is neither used nor charged, language isn’t required, routine is sporadic. Transitions continue to erode precious productive time.

There are moments when he refuses to work, speak, try. There are sleepless periods where he is angry and frustrated for no apparent reason. And tears and tantrums replace eye contact.

Not gonna lie. This gig? It’s. Hard.

How long will we persist? How long will we effort, believe, press, prompt and encourage? How long will we presume competence, seek SNUG? How long will we look for him when he's tucked inside his brain, deep in his own reality?

We're gonna look for him UNTIL.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

October is AAC Month: Fun Farm Field Trip

There were goats. Chickens, roosters, turkeys, geese, horses, sheep and huge, pink pigs. There was a playground, games and piles and piles of pumpkins. But first? Wonder Boy wanted to go on the hay ride.

Wonder Boy howled. His arms and legs tensed. He jabbed a finger in the direction of the green tractor, hitched to a wagon and parked before rows and rows of corn.

I kneeled beside Wonder Boy and tapped the device he wore draped across his shoulders. “Use your words.”

Wonder Boy sniffed. He pulled the device close to his body. “I want to ride the…” He hesitated. Thrust the machine toward me.

I pointed to the button for “groups.” He tapped it and followed up with “vehicles.” He saw the word he needed, pressed another button and the machine spoke. He looked at me. I waited.


“I want to ride the tractor,” he said.

“Thank you for telling me!” I said. “But it’s not our turn.”

Wonder Boy stood, stomped his feet, shook his head, howled.

“Five minutes,” I said. “Wait five minutes.”

We worked on vocabulary as Wonder Boy circled a chicken yard. “Chicken,” said his device. “Chicken,” he repeated. “Rooster,” intoned the machine. “Rooster,” said Wonder Boy. He pointed at the red topped creature.

So many different kinds of bird names to learn
Finally, finally, it was our turn. Wonder Boy raced across the muddy field, climbed the wagon steps, planted himself upon a bale of hay.

He giggled and a million tiny stars exploded joy, delight, hope into my chest.

It's so easy to love this boy.
We love playing in the Corn Crib!

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Everyday People, Every Day

Everyday: a standard element or event that happens, is utilized, manipulated or experienced daily. Comfortable, comforting, common, expected, close, cozy, easy, near; a mainstay, habitual, ally and supporter, normalizer. Something – or someone – who is present and available whenever needed.

It’s lunchtime in summer school. Children’s voices echo against tile, create a low hum in the bright, open space. Rubber soled shoes slap, then squeal against gleaming floors. Silverware clatters. Sweet and spicy smells pepper the conditioned air. Amaze Girl sits at the middle of a long table, surrounded by thirty other giggling second graders.

A door slams open and a small person dashes into the room. He circumvents aides and lunch ladies, rushes between lines of students, makes his way to Amaze Girl’s table.

Wonder Boy’s body tightens, muscles contract. Arms down, head up, he howls. Thirty sets of eyes stare.

Amaze Girl leaps to her feet. “Hey, everyone,” she exults. “This is my brother! He has autism.” She wraps both arms around Wonder Boy and squeezes.

“He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.”
-The Hollies

Pop! Amaze Girl quarters her snap peas. She separates the round, green balls from the crunchy skins. She chews the fibrous bean, sets globes aside.

When she has a pile of emerald spheres, she reaches across the table and places the roly-poly bits onto her brother’s plate.

Wonder Boy uses two fingers to insert the peas, one at a time, neatly, into his mouth.

Wonder Boy loves peas. Amaze Girl is not as fond.

“…siblings in divorce (can) create something positive, using this shared situation to deepen their bond…”

Movie Night. Super Daddy mics a mountain of buttered popcorn, pours it into a bowl. He reclines on the couch, Wonder Boy snuggles into one side, Amaze Girl huddles close to the other. At a break, Super Daddy stands.

Wordlessly, Amaze Girl slides close to her brother.

“They will not be separated.”
-Super Daddy’s response during custody negotiations to the presented notion that responsibility for the children would be apportioned; one child parceled to Mom, the other to Dad.

It’s time to visit Mommy’s house. Wonder Boy waits at the open front door. Who will pick them up this time? He has his backpack, blanket, talker, hat. His hair is brushed, shoes are tied. It appears he has all he needs – except, perhaps, the most important thing.

Wonder Boy grabs Amaze Girl’s shoes. He rushes to where she’s sitting on the couch, immersed in a book. He thrusts the footwear into his sister’s arms and waits until shoes are on her feet, laced and tied and she’s standing close by his side.

Amaze Girl wraps an arm around her brother. “I’m his everyday person,” she says.

The doorbell rings. Amaze Girl squeezes her brother. And he’s mine.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Taking Mama's Place

“Ain’t a woman alive that could take my mama’s place.”
-Tupac Shakur

Your children wait by the open door, the air thick with anticipation. It’s been weeks since you last picked the children up for a scheduled visit yourself. When the car pulls into the driveway, will you be behind the wheel?

You’ve already missed so much!

Holiday celebrations. Birthdays. Back to School Nights, Open Houses, assemblies, award ceremonies and the second grade Mother’s Day poem reading. You were nowhere to be found at the school musical, no showed family therapy sessions, teacher and counselor meetings. You’re elsewhere for doctor appointments and unresponsive in emergencies. You weren’t in the waiting room when your 7-year-old had surgery or at the doctor’s office when your 8-year old was prescribed long term medication.

You’ve never been to the bus stop or chatted with parents at a birthday party. Your current partner drives the kids to school when it’s your turn. Teachers and doctors have not met you. You’ve never been a field trip volunteer, classroom parent or participated in a single party. You’ve slept through your child’s visit to your home, zoned out the school’s annual festival and cookout. You defer co-parenting responsibilities and refuse to speak to your children’s primary custodial parent, who, in the absence of your communication, participation or cooperation, raises your children alone.

When they’re in your care, the kids attend school exhausted, loaded with pop tarts and sugar cereal, homework not done, communication devices returned uncharged.

“(Children) need both parents. But they need the best you.”
-Guardian ad Litem, 2016

I get it: you don’t know what to do. It’s hard. You have a job. You can’t be expected to do every(any)thing. Your ex thinks you’re a bad parent anyway. It’s not true, not fair, not right.

It’s not your fault.

From the age of three, Cole was raised by his father and aunt. At 18, Cole asked tv psychologist, Dr. Phil, to help him repair his relationship with his mother.

She “walked out of my life twice a year, every year, since I was a child,” said Cole. She wasn’t present for birthdays, holidays, school functions or important events. She betrayed his confidence in a million different ways and repeatedly abandoned him.

Dr. Phil nodded. She was the non-custodial parent. What would you have had her do?

Cole responded: “She could’ve gotten involved…She could’ve moved right down the street. She could’ve found a way to see us every day even if it was me walking to the school bus. She could’ve found a way.

Now, your children scamper optimistically to your relative, friend or lover’s car. Knowing that, as long as they go, there’s at least a chance they’ll see you.

Because no one can take your place! Your DNA is hardwired into their little bodies. They resemble you. Together with your ex, you gave them life. Today, they love you simply because you exist.

But tomorrow? When they’re older? They’ll wonder. Where were you at the school showcase, class musical, festival, doctor’s office, hospital, birthday?

And why didn’t you find a way…?

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Reunion


What it looks like to come together again after a few days apart. Cuddles, snuggles, great joy.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Quiet Time

It’s 6:40am and Super Daddy wakes you from a sound sleep. You emerge from under your heavy blanket with its pellets in quilted squares that hug your body in all the right places. Toss Buzz Lightyear to the side. Climb the bunk ladder to the cold carpet. Where you dis- and re- robe in garments you select, with direction from Super Daddy.

Everything, it seems, is a lesson: pottying on command, making your bed, tying your shoes, sitting at a table, staying in your seat, using silverware, brushing teeth. Plus, there’s piano, reading, learning to use your talker.

Everywhere is expectation, conversation, communication; words.

By 8:05am you’re outside, waiting for the school bus to arrive. Now, there’s “greeting the driver,” “high five,” “swiping your badge.” A red light flashes as a machine acknowledges the identification card worn on a lanyard around your neck. You like the high-pitched beep the machine makes.

For the next seven hours, you’re in school.

Morning meeting: “What’s today’s date?” “What’s the weather like?” “What clothes do you wear when it’s sunny/rainy/cold/hot?”

There’s finding words on your talker, asking, answering, sitting, standing, looking here, looking there. You match pictures with combinations of letters, read, write, engage. In social time, physical education, music, history, current affairs, math, a library activity, speech, occupational therapy.

You ride a scooter in the hallway, plant seeds in dirt, count leaves, play catch. Talk, listen, interact.

Recess is clattering swings, screeching, shouting, laughter, people and more conversation. You “wait your turn,” “play together,” “share.” You grab a ball and a student objects, “That’s mine!” You pause at the top of the slide and a student shouts, “Hurry up!”

You’re comforted by routine: the reassuring knowledge of what happens next. But today something is different: a fire drill, your favorite aide is sick, there’s a visitor in the classroom, teacher’s hairstyle is altered, a stuffed toy is in the wrong place. You hit a file cabinet, scream, point, flail, object.

Finally, it’s 3:20pm. You complete closing tasks, don your backpack, board the bus. Again, you “greet the driver,” “high five,” “swipe your badge.” The red light flashes and the machine beeps.

Time to go home.

Your person waits. There are hugs, squeezes, kisses. “Did you have a good day?” she says, and waits.

But your words are all used up. You shake your head, moan, flail, point, scream.

“Do you want quiet time?” she says.

You tug her hand and repeat, “Quiet time.”

You hang up your backpack, remove wet socks, change your clothes, retreat.

Now, alone in your room, you choose a book. You sit on the floor, lounge on your bed. Later, you’ll request a popsicle, apple, crackers. You’ll bounce on the trampoline and laugh. Your therapist will arrive for three more hours of “saying hi/bye,” matching, identification, conversation, expectation; words.

Followed, in quick succession, by dinner, bath and bed.

Communication is exhausting.

But for now, in this moment? You revel, relax, rejuvenate. In the solitary silence that is Quiet Time.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Neuroplasticity and Growing the Brain

Neuroplasticity is “the brain’s ability to change physiologically and functionally as a result of stimulation.”

-Barbara Arrowsmith-Young on Tedx Toronto Talk

To stimulate and grow his brain, Wonder Boy plays the piano. He jumps on the trampoline, runs, reads, writes, attends school, occupational and speech therapy. Every day he’s challenged to expand his abilities developmentally, linguistically, socially.

And? For three hours, six days a week? Wonder Boy recites, repeats and drills language:

“What do we do with food?” prompts a therapist.

“Eat it!” says Wonder Boy, giving the expected response.

Gone is the notion that the human brain is hardwired at birth. While neurogenesis conveys the growth of new cells, the science of neuroplasticity affirms that the brain is malleable, moldable, plastic - growable.

With sustained effort, at any age, you can change your brain.

Here’s how it works: information moves from one cranial region to another via circuits called neurons.

Neuron
From The Woman Who Changed Her Brain, Barbara Arrowsmith-Young.

“Between each neuron is a synapse and at the center of the neuron is an axon. Reaching out from each neuron are dendrites at one end and an axon terminal at the other. An electrical impulse flies down the axon, causing a chemical called a neurotransmitter to be released from the axon terminal into the synapse; that same chemical is then received by the dendrites of adjacent neurons. These signals can be inhibitory [not requiring action] or excitatory [requiring action]. If the net sum of all the signals exceeds zero, the process continues with the signal being sent on to other neurons…

“Dendrites provide surface area on the nerve cell to receive signals coming from other neurons. More dendrite branching means more potential connections allowing more signals to be received. Plus, research now indicates that dendrites also release neurotransmitters…”

-The Woman Who Changed Her Brain, Barbara Arrowsmith-Young, pages 30-31

In an injured brain, such as occurs when a child under 3 years old is exposed to lead, neurons may not communicate effectively. Dendrites aren’t healthy, blood flow is diminished, neurons don’t exist in proximity to allow synapses to occur.

The solution is sustained application of targeted, external stimulation on the brain. With persistent effort, new neural pathways are forged. Change takes time, during which older, less effective routes fall into disuse and darken.
"Neuron of a rat raised in a standard environment (left)
and an enriched environment (right). Note more dendrites
and dendrite spines on the neuron of the rat raised
in the enriched environment."
From The Woman Who Changed Her Brain,
Barbara Arrowsmith-Young.

“Neurons that fire together, wire together.”


As diet and exercise tone the body and light the mind, a stimulating environment can change the chemical composition of neurons and expedite the process of brain change by mulching dendrites into being. Like roots in rich soil, exposure to a diversity of challenging experiences thickens dendrites, thus growing new pathways for information to traverse. This improves communication between neurons and heightens overall brain function.

Two years ago, Wonder Boy had no intelligible words. He did not understand language, respond to his name or make eye contact. Now, he pauses and looks at his therapist. “I want to eat crackers,” he says.

“Thank you for telling me,” his therapist says. “Let’s ask Nonnie.”

“Let’s ask Nonnie,” Wonder Boy repeats. And then? He does.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Good Morning Starshine*


So long, Summer 2018! Together we enjoyed mud, dirt, clay mountains, worms, cicadas, contractors, concrete trucks, wood, nails, rocks and hammers. We learned to swim, tie shoes, make beds, play piano, multiply, write in cursive; read. There was daily therapy, Auntie Dimples’ pool, trampoline, the high school track, ice cream cones, road trips, friends, family, music, books, laughter; the great, all-encompassing joy that comes from being together.

And there was dancing! To this song on bright, happy, stay-at-home mornings. “Alexa? Play Good Morning Starshine, please!”:


Good morning starshine
The earth says hello
You twinkle above us
We twinkle below
Good morning starshine
You lead us along
My love and me as we sing
Our early morning singing song


Gliddy glub gloopy, nibby nabby noopy la, la, la, lo, lo
Sabba sibby sabba, nooby abba nabba, le, le, lo, lo
Tooby ooby walla, nooby abba naba
Early morning singing song


Good morning starshine
There's nothing in the skies
Reflecting the sunlight
In my lover’s eyes
Good morning starshine
So happy to be
My love and me as we sing
Our early morning singing song


Gliddy glub gloopy, nibby nabby noopy la, la, la, lo, lo
Sabba sibby sabba, nooby abba nabba, le, le, lo, lo
Tooby ooby walla, nooby abba naba
Early morning singing song


Can you hear me singing a song, a love song
Singing a song
Loving a song, laughing a song
Singing a song
Sing the song, song sing, song, song, song, sing
Sing, sing, sing a song

Song, song, song sing, sing, sing, sing a song
Sing, sing, song, sing a song
Yeah, you can sing, sing, sing song, sing a song
Sing, sing, song, sing a song, sing


*Good Morning Starshine was written for the controversial 1967 musical Hair and popularized by the performer, Oliver. Summer 2018, Amaze Girl and Nonnie enjoyed singing and dancing to this happy tune in the mornings – and at other unspecified moments throughout the day. (Wonder Boy, like his daddy, is decidedly not a morning person and prefers silent snuggles to charismatic outbursts with his waffles. So, by way of full disclosure, we did early a.m. quiet too.)

Saturday, August 4, 2018

A Darling Girl on Meds

Her first day on ADHD meds, Amaze Girl refuses pancakes.

Amaze Girl loves pancakes. Stacked, with lots of syrup. She’ll eat two and ask for three more. Sticky gets in her hair, spills to the table, adheres to her chair, drips to the floor.

We open a Vyvanse capsule and pour the contents into a jigger of water. She drinks it. Almost immediately, she heads to the bathroom. Upset stomach.

Later, she reads about sharks on the couch before retreating to her bed for another hour. Her brother-with-autism absorbs her calm and reads quietly too.


On a typical afternoon, Amaze Girl dashes up and down a mountain of dirt where she’s created a throne and firepit. There’s a craft area where she makes laurel wreaths out of leaves. She swings into the sky, jumps on a trampoline, slides over the end of a 3-foot tall plastic pool. She collects bugs, worms and insects; gathers interesting rocks, scrapes them into dust, adds water – and voila! body paint.


Yesterday, as she examined a translucent, green-speckled, very dead cicada, two grubs wriggle free of its body. “Nonnie, come see!” she exclaims. She uses a nail to dissect and impale the insect. Its insides are missing. Had the grubs feasted on it? Do grubs eat cicadas? “Let’s ask Alexa!” she says, referring to a voice operated search engine device.

The creature falls to the earth. She wipes clay-dusty hands on her shorts, hurries inside.

Later, the cicada’s lacy wings become part of her Collection of Interesting Things.

Amaze Girl’s curiosity is vibrant, intelligent, stimulating. Her enthusiasm is vigorous and contagious. I adore this darling girl as she is: brains, beauty, personality. A bundle of kinetic, ever-moving smarts. Squeezable exuberance. Wild, often unfocused, energy.

“Every day (she) forgets to take her (notebook) to specials.”
-Teacher, May 2018

Overwhelming, all-consuming physiological energy can make it hard to sit still, listen and respond appropriately. It can be tough to finish-what-you-start. When a person has difficulty interacting in a way that makes sense to others, educational and social progress may be impacted.

“…she was skipping questions and not reading them. I get a notification when a student clicks through the test…”
-Teacher, April 2018

Amaze Girl’s route to medical intervention began with a perceptive, caring and persistent teacher who recognized intelligence under the frenzy and ability behind the incomplete assignments. Doctors, tests, counseling and a diagnosis followed. Super Daddy researched therapeutic methods and biochemical solutions. He sought professional advice and accepted counsel from those who’ve “been there.”

This first day on medication, Amaze Girl does not swim, jump, climb, build, make. There are no laurel wreaths, thrones, or impaled insects.


There is: quiet. Calm. Sitting. Thinking. Reading. There is dreaming, talking, writing. She plays her piano memory piece all the way through, legato. She floats in the pool, lays on the trampoline, stares at the sky. On top of her mountain, she focuses on a project that involves rocks, nails and sticks. All afternoon.

She sleeps well that night. And the next morning? She eats a stack of pancakes with honey.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Transition: New Bed

change is hard
Standing in the empty middle of his temporarily shared bedroom, in the space where his bed should be, Wonder Boy screamed. He kicked the floor. He slapped a wall. He pressed buttons on his talker. The machine intoned, “I am angry.”

“Angry,” said Wonder Boy.

In soothing tones, Super Daddy explained: “You have a new bed. I’m putting it together.”

Wonder Boy bobbled his head. His body tensed. Eyes closed. He opened his mouth and screeched, high-pitched, long and loud.

“No screaming,” said Super Daddy.

“Screaming is not nice,” whispered Wonder Boy. He climbed onto Amaze Girl’s bed. Huddled into the masses of blankets, pillows and snugglies - some hers, some his. He buried his face in the familiar softness. He rolled under blankets. He whimpered.

Tearfully, Wonder Boy scripted as he followed Super Daddy through the house to get tools. He muttered familiar phrases as Super Daddy hammered, drilled and drove wooden parts together. He moaned when Amaze Girl’s bed came down and the new frame took shape. He cried as toys were moved and the carpet vacuumed. He howled as Super Daddy placed, first bunkies, then mattresses onto the new sleeping space.

“It’s a bunk bed,” said Super Daddy.

“Bunk bed,” repeated Wonder Boy. He sniffed.

Wonder Boy climbed the ladder and sat. He patted his familiar mattress. He hugged his pillow: just right. He looked at his posters and tapped the ceiling. So close.

He giggled. Now, glee, joy and exuberance pinked his face. A small bounce. A wiggle. A twist. Happiness.

With Super Daddy’s help, Wonder Boy practiced going up and down the ladder. Toes reached, tickled, touched the smooth cherry wood, as his body learned the location of the rungs. Just like the trampoline. He lay flat on his bed. He sat back straight, legs crossed. He paged through a book, rearranged Buzz and Woody, hugged his monkey ball. He looked down at Super Daddy’s head.

Louder this time, Wonder Boy laughed.

“Bath time,” said Super Daddy.

Wonder Boy smiled. “No!” he said.

Later, after bath, books, a summer movie and quiet play; later, when it was time, Wonder Boy climbed the ladder to his bunk. He huddled under his blankets and snuggled into his pillows.

“Good night,” said Super Daddy.

“Good night,” said Wonder Boy. The light clicked off.

Wonder Boy lay still. He absorbed the twists, turns and shadows tucked into his brand-new space.

Eyes wide in the darkness. Ears tuned to the silence. Wonder Boy giggled.
content

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Presuming Competence in the Summer

With Super Daddy
Wonder Boy rushes into the pool at the shallow-to-deep beach entrance. Water splashes about his knees, hips, belly, circles his neck.

He chortles, eyes closed. He is glee, delight, joy, mirth.

Amaze Girl wears goggles over her eyes and nose. She jumps, ducks, submerges, flips, “tea partys,” “mermaids,” floats. Horizontal in over-her-head water, she kicks her feet. Arms circle her head; one in the air, the other under water. Her body glides across the short end of the pool.
Amaze Girl swims
 Close between them, my heart dances. Even as my over-(grand)parental, hyper-vigilant, two-kids-in-the-pool anxiety rises.

Wonder Boy splashes to the water’s edge. He pulls himself up and stands on the precipice. He points at me, shouts, “Stay Away!” Then?

He jumps.

Liquid whirlpools over his submerged head and body. I count: 1…2…3…4… My heart flutters, metabolism rises. Finally, Wonder Boy’s head pops up. There is exuberance. Joy. Laughter.

The two previous summers, twice a week for a month, Wonder Boy enjoyed expensive, private, “autism swim” instruction in an Olympic-sized pool. He loved the water and individual attention. But he didn’t learn to swim.

Amaze Girl had joined a swim class. It was a great time! But she didn’t learn to swim either.

This year, we presumed the children’s pool competence with regular swim and little actual instruction. With supervision and encouragement, Wonder Boy investigated the water. Amaze Girl frolicked. And when they were ready? They began to swim.

To presume competence is to expect that he can. And to seek the enabling connection, with love and patience, until he does.

Our family summer is overtaken by an addition to our house: plumbers hauling pipe, electricians running wire, carpenters drilling, Super Daddy and Pop hammering, hauling, sawing. Machines, trucks, cranes, mountains of displaced earth. A dumpster and toilet in the driveway.

Still, we’ve made time for what’s important: swim, books, pencils, crayon, piano, running, climbing, digging, reading. A Royals’ game; a visit to see the Great Grands. Togetherness.
 
fuzzy family
Wonder Boy chooses a book. With help, he points to each word: “Thomas can go.” In the phonics area on his talker he types: c-a-n.

“Kuh-aaa-nnn, can,” says the machine.

“Kuh-aaa-nnn, can,” says Wonder Boy.

He points to another word: “guh-o,” he says, without prompting. “Go.” My heart swells.

Amaze Girl reads. She practices cursive handwriting and multiplication facts to 12. She transposes and notates music and memorizes a song on the piano.

Wonder Boy ties his own shoes. Makes his own bed. Dries himself following a bath. On the piano he’s learned “Middle C Position.” He names notes, claps rhythm and plays “B-I-N-G-O” with help.

At the pool, Amaze Girl kicks and splashes while Wonder Boy treads water vertically. His feet pump like pistons, hands paddle at his chest. He swims to the wall, pulls himself out of the pool and crouches, arms extended. He points at me and laughs.

“I know,” I say. “Stay away!”

“Yes,” he says. Giggles trail like bubbles as he leaps into the mist.
Swimming with Auntie Dimples

Saturday, July 14, 2018

My Special Needs Dictionary

My special education education is a work in process! Entries will be added/edited/changed as I continue to learn…




Applied Behavior Analysis is an individualized, incrementally applied program for individuals with autism and other special needs. ABA utilizes repetition, consistency and reward to improve communication and learning abilities.



Learning differences for those with difficulty focusing bodies and/or minds in a typical educational environment.

Read More: A Darling Girl 


Differences in the brain’s chemical or physical composition that impedes one’s ability to interact with the world.

Read More: On Autism


A Board Certified Behavior Analyst writes and supervises individual Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) programs.


A computer fitted with special software that facilitates verbal interaction. Interchangeably referred to as a “talker” or “words.”



Socially expected interaction in which individuals look into one another’s eyes to demonstrate interest and attention.


Ear covers that dull the noisy edges for individuals overwhelmed by excess sound. Facilitates the ability to tune in to selected output.


The ability to sense physical urges, for example, hunger, thirst, need to eliminate.


Softer than “kid” and more respectful than “child.” Nicer than “youth” and more personal than “individual.” Special Needs Educators, therapists and others in the field often use this kinder, gentler term to refer to young charges.


Sometimes frightening, potentially dangerous physical/mental loss of control. May begin as a tantrum, ignored need, overstimulation or virtually any other unmanaged situation but spirals into a cause-less stimulus overload.


Refers to the brain’s ability to grow new cells and establish new neural pathways.



To assume in all situations and despite appearances to the contrary that every individual has the capacity to succeed.



The ability to track the body’s position in space, recognize stimuli and respond by appropriately contracting muscles and joints.


Verbal and/or physical repetition produced for pleasure, communication or as part of a frustration response. May be phrases/movements from movies, books or people and may or may not be intended to relay meaning.


Physical harm afflicted to one’s self. May occur for pleasure, communication or as part of a frustration response.


Overstimulation that occurs when input to the senses exceeds the body’s processing capability.



A body’s inability to effectively digest sight, sound, taste, smell, touch, plus other senses, including, but not limited to, recognizing where the body is in space and identifying physical requirements like the need to eat or eliminate.



Acronym for Spontaneous Novel Utterance Generation refers to an individual’s ability to create meaningful language without assistance.



Annual benefit race that provides Communication Devices to special needs individuals.

Read More: Sophie’s Runners


Any physical, educational, social, medical, occupational or other capability that, when lacking, impedes an individual's ability to interact with the world in a meaningful way.


Continuum of physical and mental competencies arranged from least able to most skilled and includes everyone everywhere. Like a prism of infinite hues, capacities intersect, diverge, refract and swell in an ever-changing conundrum of potential combinations.


Calming pressure applied in an organized and/or patterned manner. May help those with proprioceptive and sensory challenges calm and focus body and mind.


Repetitive verbal or physical movements used to calm or ease internal tension.


Cause-based outburst of anger and/or frustration.


A change in activity or state of being, whether unique or mundane.



A child who meets developmental milestones at expected times.


Sensory system involving the inner ear which affects one’s ability to coordinate movement with balance.