Thursday, August 28, 2008

So Far, So Good

The first week of school is nearly over, and so far, there have been no issues that I know of. She did come home with a box of crayons that were not hers. I sent them back with a note to that affect, and was told that she had had them all day, and they thought they were hers. I hope they rightful owner has them back...

She's having to get up almost a half-hour earlier than last year, and she's used to staying up later all summer. We're all struggling to get used to the change. She gets on the bus enthusiastically, and has been coming home in a good mood. I can't ask for much more than that the first week.

*sigh* I just put her on the bus. She's wearing a yellow t-shirt and green shorts, I had given her green socks (that she did put on) and told her to put on her sneakers. When the bus arrived, she was wearing orange socks, and her new pink shoes (metallic ballet flats). We're going to have to squash just a bit of her enthusiasm, or she's going to get picked on. *sigh*

Monday, August 25, 2008

Before We Can Get Those Plates...

Eight hundred and fifty people (Illinoisans) have to put their name on a list as "interested" before the state will even design it. I was told there are currently only 259 people on that list - now 260, since I added my name and current plate #. The phone number at IDOT is 1-800 252-8980 (option 4 for special plates), or you can contact them online at (I contacted through "All other questions..." and got a reply a few days later.) Spread the word!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Happy 11th!

Today my "baby" turned 11, officially. (We celebrated on Saturday, with her grandparents.) School starts on Monday, and then my party will begin.

Got a call yesterday from her speech therapist: she's leaving the clinic. Since Diana started therapy, the clinic has had a revolving door of speech therapists. I think this one makes 4 or 5. I'm a little disgusted, frankly; either the clinic needs to pay better, or they need to hire therapists with more experience (who earn more), so that this is not an issue. They don't have a therapist to take Becky's place (again, as usual), so D will be without a speech therapist other than what she gets at school for god-knows-how-long. She will backslide when she does get a new therapist, because each new person has their own way of doing things, and it takes her a while to get to know them and work with them. Plus there's her own anguish of getting to know and like a therapist, only to have them leave (again). I'm not convinced it's worth the aggravation. Maybe I can do at home what they do, without the gas expenditure and revolving door issues.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Autism Awareness License Plates

Don't know how I missed it, but on January 1st of this year, a public act went into effect that will make available autism awareness license plates in Illinois. The DMV's website has no such plate in August, a full 8 months later. I emailed the DMV to ask when they would be offered.

After researching the web, I found these states that offer an autism awareness plate:
Kentucky (coming soon)

Frankly, I'm astonished. The rate of autism has been suggested to be as high as 1 in 150 kids, but even if that number is a little too high, that's still a staggering number of people affected with autism in their lives... you can find specialty plates for everything from ballooning to MS to preserving specific bodies of water. Only seven states currently offer autism awareness plates?! Really?? What an easy way for a state to fund autism programs - a voluntary donation in the form of a specialty plate. If you think there should be plates in your state, contact the DMV (and tell your friends and family to do the same) and suggest it, contact your state legislators and tell them why there should be autism awareness plates. 

Color Me Surprised

First she wanted to frost the cake with the rainbow herself. OK - why not? Then when it came time for presents, she actually seemed interested in the scrapbook I made for her (she may not be as interested in the journaling part that I haven't told her about yet). 


She was mostly patient, fairly content to be at Grandma and Grandpa's. (She's till unhappy about being "abandoned" for a week while we went last year.) She's asking to fly to California again, and she wanted to go to the river with Grandpa but we weren't able to do that. It really makes me happy that she's interacting more with my dad - for much of her life, she's been indifferent to or even avoided him (he has some work-related hearing loss, and speaks loudly).

All in all, it was a good weekend. The poop issue seems to be resolved, but we will see how today goes...

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Toileting Issues

Potty training was a real struggle for us. Even when she would pee on the toilet, she wouldn't poop. We had control of #1 at about first grade, but still wore pull-ups to bed for #2. This was an issue until about fourth grade. We still have trouble if she gets constipated, like now. She gets irritable (like anyone else), and has small accidents. 

I overheard a conversation at the store the other day, a woman was telling a man her daughter was potty trained by 2, but that her son wasn't until 4. I wanted to tell her just how lucky she was, but figured she wouldn't really get it...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

School Supplies

Spent nearly $50 on supplies today, from an unclear list - do I buy for all those teachers, just her homeroom? She's not integrated fully, does she need all this crap? Sure wish someone could answer my question, but no one answers the phone at the school, and the teacher isn't answering her email yet. Needless to say, I'm keeping the receipt.

Ah, the good old days... you had a 3-ring binder, some folders, some notebooks, pencils, pens, and a $10 calculator... My husband actually did a spreadsheet for the supplies needed for the various classes I'm not even sure my daughter will be in, and she may be in "team A" not "team B" (Wha..?!) as indicated, and therefore have different teachers requiring different things. What a freakin' mess - they ought to be ashamed, how are people supposed to know what to buy? Madness...

I also finished her scrapbook from the California trip - all she has to do now is look at the pictures I've provided, and journal a bit, and I'll add her words to it. Busy day, and my back is killing me.

Monday, August 11, 2008


We waited for *2 hours* to see the doc for Diana's 6th grade physical, with an appointment. And then find out we can't get her immunizations because she's not yet 11 and the meningitis vaccine cut-off age is 11. So we have to go BACK for the bloody shots, and listen to the school complain because her paperwork for the office is incomplete.

Yes, we get our daughter vaccinated. No, I do not believe that vaccines cause autism. Yes, I am glad thimerosal is gone from them, but I have read no clear evidence that IT causes autism.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Travel Journal/Scrapbook

Diana's teacher and speech therapist put together a very simple travel journal for her to write what she did while on vacation. This was for when we took her out of school, she wasn't leaving school work completely behind. We had to postpone the trip, so she never did the journal, even though I did take it with us when we went in July.

I got the idea to give her for her birthday a scrapbook of her trip, partially finished, that she can add to with her own journal entries. I'll need to find some suggestions online for open-ended sentences like her 2-3 grade teacher used in class, that Diana came up with such unique responses. I don't have pictures of every last thing we did, so will need to rely on her journal for some things.

I have no idea how she will respond to this. Maybe it will be a big waste of my time - gods know other things have been - but she's really surprising me lately with all her coloring and creativity, so maybe this won't be a waste after all. I have to try. Once it's all done, I'll add some pictures here.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Luckier Than We Knew

I bumped into a mom I know who has an autistic (Asperger's) son near Diana's age. Sadly, he doesn't have the supportive network of teachers and professionals behind him like she does. The family is looking at litigation for the last school year, where (in the opinion of the psychologist who visited on the boy's behalf) he was deliberately placed with a teacher who knows nothing about autism, in the hopes of convincing the family to move the boy out of the school and into an autism school (out of their hair/pocketbook).

This child ended up having panic attacks and nightmares through her ignorance, and if the doc is right about his being placed in there to force them to move him out of the school district, that is not only criminal but immoral. Assuming all this is true, how could they play games with a child's education and LIFE this way?! It will take at least one school year to undo the damage this teacher did. The mom had to double his dosage of antidepressants, just so he could squeak through the year. A child who used to get As and Bs, talkative and involved, became silent, scared and unable to concentrate. 

Unfortunately, I've heard all too many horror stories like this to dismiss it as hyperbole on the part of the mother. That "teacher" ought to be horse-whipped for what she did to that poor kid. Thank all that's holy that the child's aide DID know what she was doing, and was able to help him limp through the year, and she's moving on with the boy into middle school - away from the teacher from hell. Shame on the principal and the superintendent for not acting when the mom said something was wrong. Shame on them for covering for an inadequate teacher, to cover their own asses.   

We are so lucky - Diana's team has been nothing but supportive from day one. I've never needed to ask for anything, what I want for her is provided before I have to ask. I sincerely hope the trend continues as we move into middle school...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Dentist Visit NOT an Ordeal

Diana went through with her appointment like it was (almost) nothing. She had Daddy with her to help - she's better with him with teeth for some reason - and Dr. Steve had hardly any fuss to deal with at all. She did not care for the grape fluoride treatment, and as soon as that hit her mouth she was done. No cavities, and everything looks great, he said. *whew!*

We will have to be better about getting her to cooperate with brushing. Because she had no cavities this time is no guarantee that the trend will continue. Thank all-that's-holy she only drinks water! 

Right now, she and M. are enjoying their Thursday "date" as they do every week. A trip to the mall, and lately, the comic book store. *shrug* Neither of us know what that's about, but apparently she thinks the manager is a super hero. Laurie finds that funny. How could you not? Outed by a 10-year-old autistic kid! Super heroes: Protect your secret identities!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Yawning Dogs

I was listening to NPR this morning, to the BBC Newshour program. Seems some guy did a (brief) study about dogs yawning when people do. He was inspired by his own "clever" labrador, and another study about yawning and autism, suggesting that contagious yawning requires empathy (which apparently our canine companions have plenty of), and because autistic kids tend to lack empathy, they are immune to the contagious qualities of yawning. 

(I'm yawning my face off just typing this... too much empathy, or too little sleep?)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Middle School Bound

Today I registered my "baby" for 6th grade. Changing classes, lockers, gym class with showers... hell on earth for teenaged girls, usually. Diana, perhaps not so much. She won't have the same peer-pressured urges, won't feel the same need for me to buy her $200 sneakers, and hopefully will be oblivious to the meanness inherent in junior high kids. 

I have a great deal of confusion about the supply list I was given. I'll break the bank if we actually have to buy ALL that stuff listed for each teacher. I emailed her teacher, begging for clarification.

We still have to get a physical and a dental visit in, hopefully before school starts, but I'm not going to sweat it too much. I was told we have until October. An eye exam is also required, but I don't think she's testable. I'll have to talk to her doc about that...

Monday, August 4, 2008

Never happened

Before we could even make it to the "everyone is dressed and ready" stage, things got ugly. Diana has been whining/crying whenever her father and I try to have a conversation. I don't know if it's a jealousy thing or what, but it's certainly driving a wedge between us, when we can't even talk if she's in the house. Her getting "cheese tacos" and going to the fair after hinged on her being good. Interrupting our conversation was not good behavior, so she got nothing.

I don't know what to do about this. It doesn't seem to matter what time it is, who initiates the conversations, or where. If we try to talk - about ANYthing - she starts out whining, which will escalate to crying and eventually angry wails. She can't/won't tell us what the problem is, but is perfectly content so long as we stay silent in opposite corners of the house. She will rarely even let us watch a movie together, especially once she has gone to bed herself, telling us "Daddy has to go to bed," or "Daddy's office" (meaning she wants him to go to his office).

Sunday, it was like the day before had never even happened. "Mercurial" does not begin to describe her moods, and not all of that is attributable to her percolating hormones; she's always been moody. But so are her parents, so I suppose it's not fair to be annoyed by that...

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Going to the County Fair

Diana has been begging to go to the fair for months. She's never been to one, and I'm not entirely certain what prompted the desire to go this year, but all she's done since the weather turned warm has been to ask to go. So today we're heading for the Kankakee County Fair, figuring 1) it's the last weekend for that fair, and it may not be as crowded, 2) it's not going to be as crowded as some of the other area county fairs because it's more rural, 3) it's not supposed to be as hot today. If I'm wrong about #1, I hope #2 cancels that out. 

I hope this new experience goes as well as the flying one. Maybe we'll even go on some rides... My fear is that she'll get sensory-overloaded and want to leave immediately. We've been down that road before. But she asked (demanded?), so we'll try it. I'll have photos later, and a full report.

To be continued...