Monday, October 27, 2008

School IDs

The middle school requires the students to wear an ID on a lanyard at all times. I've had to replace hers already; the teacher thought Diana had lost it, no one could find it anywhere and she wasn't talking. Well after she and Daddy cleaned up her room a bit this weekend, I walked into her room to put away some clothes and found TWO of the things hanging on her door knob. Clearly there was some miscommunication between my husband and I, because I would have sent one of them with her today had I known they'd been found.

Diana loves photos (but not necessarily having her picture taken). She was clearly hoarding these for whatever reason, even though she's been told to have one of them on at all times for school. I wonder how many "replacement" IDs I'll end up buying by the end of the year..?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Another "Fun" Autism Side-Effect

It happens fairly often with us: one parent is at home alone with Diana, dealing with all the various challenges and "bad days" without respite. There's a not-so-fun side effect of this, and that's the returning parent receives the fall-out of a bad day/weekend of a frustrated partner who's had no break for hours or even days.

I suspect this has a big role in the divorce rates with families who have children on the spectrum....

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Things You Do as a Parent...

"Circle pizza?" my daughter requests.
"Sausage or cheese?" I asked her. 
"Cheese pizza!"

So I cook my little monster a cheese pizza on the Pizza Pizzazz (we use this appliance a lot). When it's finished, I cut it in half, preparing to slice it into eighths. "I want circle pizza?" Her voice rises in a question, even if she's making a statement. "You want the pieces in circles?" "Yes." She's definite on that.

I learned something this afternoon: You cannot use a biscuit cutter to cut a crisp crust pizza. The best you can manage is to create an outline in the cheese to follow with the pizza wheel.

I informed her she had to eat the little pieces, too, the pieces left over from the circle-cutting. (Which she did.) She's well on her way to eating the whole thing, in fact. Poor underfed thing... *rolling eyes*

In the past, I have also made rectangle pizza, square pizza and triangle pizza. Circle pizza is the most challenging - at least until the day she asks me for "Star pizza, Mommy!"

My husband looks at me with indulgent sympathy, "You're a good mom." Or a crazy one.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Went to the Movies

Yesterday, Diana's class has a field trip to the theater. I'm not sure I 100% approve of using school time for movies, and I'm not sure I approve of the movie they saw (The Express), and I was more than a little apprehensive about Diana's ability to tolerate Surround Sound. But the way my husband and I saw it, if it was a disaster, better on the teacher's head than ours. 

We've never taken her to the movies because of her auditory sensitivity, her lack of patience, her apparent inability to sit still for that long, and her distaste of crowds; in short, sensory overload. So, at 11, she saw her first movie, and it was about Ernie Davis, the first black Heisman Trophy winner. My little girl's first movie in a theater was about football and civil rights. And according to her teacher, she "was WONDERFUL! No problems at all, in fact I think she really enjoyed herself." Of course this was a field trip with her class, she had her own popcorn to munch, and fidgits that her teacher brought along for emergencies. If we tried to take her to a movie, it may be another story entirely... but it's a start. I worried for nothing, and frankly, I'm glad. I didn't want her to have a bad time, I just didn't want to be the one in charge if she did. *smile* I have had more than enough of those experiences, thanks.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Hawai'i Bound! ...Eventually

So I've been talking to my husband, talking to my mom, talking to Diana... all about Hawai'i. Diana is the least receptive.

Last year, hubby and I were lucky enough to take a magnificent trip to Maui (Diana stayed with my parents). He won the trip from a drawing  at his company's Christmas party, or we would never have gone. Before we even left the island, we were talking about coming back. When we got back from out week in paradise, we learned that not only was Diana not pleased that we left her for a week, but that now she's afraid that every time we visit Grandma, she's going to get left again. "We are not going to the Hawai'i," she tells us. "I promise," she parrots our reassurances.

Well, then we discovered the Hawai'ian Airlines frequent flyer program. And the Microsoft Live Search Club. Now it's a question of when, not if, we're going. Dad is a happy homebody, but Mom wants to go. And we're not leaving Diana behind again, especially knowing how well she flies. (That trip to California was a breeze!) Traveling with Diana will mean that we don't get to do some things, at least not all of us together. I don't know if we will be able to take her to a luau - Diana, eat kalua pig, and *snort* poi? [insert maniacal laughter here] Unless there's cheese pizza and chicken nuggets at the buffet, we can forget that. 

So now that we have established that we are going to the islands, we had to discuss which island in the chain. Maui was wonderful and I would love to go back, but it's not quite Diana-friendly (she's a pretty urban kid). The Big Island of Hawai'i doesn't have enough paved surface, either. Lana'i, Kauai'i and Moloka'i - too exclusive and rustic (not enough fast food). That leaves O'ahu - the most densely populated, urban and modern of the island chain.* 

Unfortunately, O'ahu would be my last choice, for those very reasons. I like to get off the beaten path. Diana's idea of "off the beaten path" means getting off the Metra train and walking on a sidewalk to the aquarium. But if we're going to all have a good time, concessions must be made. And in this particular case, catering to the needs of an autistic child firmly entrenched in the 21st century. While Marc and I were perfectly happy with our Hana guesthouse room with no television (our Ka'anapali room did), Diana would be mortally offended by such a thing; although she was pretty good in Oceanside without 24/7 TV noise. We grownups, we were in Hawai'i - who needs TV?! 

So what does this mean? It means that for every Diana-friendly activity, there will be something she doesn't want to do as much [read: "at all"]. So, daughter-dear, that means "First we go to Shangri La, then we go to the zoo." Fortunately, she understands perfectly well "first this, then that," even if she doesn't much care for whatever "this" may be. We have time to plan, so we also have time to work on her attitude toward Hawai'i - she already loves flying, the beach and hotel swimming pools, so we're more than halfway there!

*Population by island (2000), rounded to the nearest 1000:
O'ahu: 876,000 (49 McDonald's, 23 in Honolulu alone!)
Hawai'i: 149,000 (9 McDonald's)
Maui: 118,000 (11 McDonald's)
Kaua'i: 58,000 (5 McDonald's)
Moloka'i: 7,000 (0 McDonald's)
Lana'i: 3,000 (0 McDonald's)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

We're All Sick... or something...

I don't know if it's just allergies, or virus, or both, but we are all three under the weather here. Nothing seems to be helping with Diana's congestion, so I got her some Breathe Right nasal strips for kids last night, and was astonished (astonished!) when she let me put it on and left it there. I told her it was a nose Band-Aid and that it would help her breathe. It seemed to help, and she tolerated something new and weird on her face. Huzzah!

I'm for bed, I think...

Monday, October 6, 2008

Small Steps to Independence

Diana still needs assistance with her shoes, she can't tie a bow in the laces. She needs help getting dressed because she can't be bothered with details like proper undergarments (bra) and clean clothes, simply grabbing whatever comes to hand. She can't bathe herself (more like won't). But even in the face of all the "can'ts" there are a lot of "cans": She's learned to use the microwave to reheat her favorite meal (pizza), and the toaster to make a favorite snack (Eggo waffles). She's using the toilet almost independently. She *can* get dressed on her own, even if what she chooses isn't 100% appropriate.

She asks for help when she needs it, using nearly complete sentences and clear language most of the time. There are lots of things that neurotypical 11-year-olds can do that Diana can't. But given that many of her peers are also ill-behaved little hellions, I think I'll keep the one I've got, even if it means extra work for me. ; )