Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Holy Moly... That's a LOT of Dolls

Diana LOVES the Groovy Girls dolls. For that matter, so do I. I love the multicolor, multiethnic, positively themed soft dolls. Major kudos to Manhattan Toy for this line. Diana has the same sort of thoughts on collections as I do: she needs all of them. So, periodically, I have to do a "census" of the girls (and a few Groovy Boys), to update the list of the ones she has and give the list to Mom for when she does her shopping.

I needed to do something to get these dolls to where they were off the floor, where she could see them and play with them, and where they would take up the least amount of room. I got an over-the-door shoe rack to hang on her bedroom door, and thought I could make it work. Here are the photos:

Here's the ersatz doll rack, Diana crouched in front of it. Note that it's hanging on the outside of her door. She decided a while back that she couldn't stand to have her door closed at night, and since her room tends to have the biggest temperature extremes in the house, with the door open, it's not as bad. And yes, that is a tree painted on the wall in the corner, and a beaded curtain hanging in front of her doorway. (We discovered that the rattle of the beaded curtain acts as an "early warning" device when she leaves her room, either late at night or early in the morning. Handy!)

Closer view of my doll with all of her dolls. I wonder how much of Diana's hairstyle was inspired by Groovy Girls?
Side view, from the hallway (beaded curtain pulled back). The shoe rack is designed to hold 18 pairs, or 36 shoes. With 69 dolls on the rack, not all of them fit into the loops. That includes three dolls that have duplicates. There is a 70th doll who's MIA. I know she has it, I just couldn't find it to hang her with the others.

So again I say... Holy Moly - that's a LOT of dolls!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Books, Manuals, Dianese

There seems to be a disproportionate number of books for Asperger's Syndrome (AS) than "plain" autism. Is it because those kids and adults have more potential to live so-called normal lives, and as such gain more attention for their ability to live alongside the rest of us?

I received the Fall 2008 Jessica Kingsley Publishers catalog today. In it are 99 titles, 30 of those are aimed primarily at people with (or parents of people with) AS. This is above the titles that are about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) which include AS. There are a few titles aimed at the opposite (low-functioning) end of the spectrum, about 9. There are books on teaching and coping and general treatment and diet interventions, but really nothing for middle-of-the-road kids, like my Diana. Marc thinks this is because that group is too diverse to focus on. Because it's a spectrum disorder, and each child is so different in the way they present, he's probably right. It's still frustrating, though.

Mostly what I've done is what I thought was right. In some cases, I've gone directly against conventional wisdom; most notably, scheduling. Diana does not have a rigid schedule. She does have things she does every week (Thursday is mall night with Daddy while I go to my dance class), but we do not have every hour of every day carefully planned. I did this on purpose, because the world doesn't work that way, and if she's to function in the world, she had to learn to cope with change. And you know what, she has. Maybe that wouldn't have worked with another child, more significantly impaired, but it worked with her. So following my instincts have gotten us to age 11 without too much trauma. I've made some mistakes, like not preparing her well for the trip Marc and I took to Hawaii (she stayed with Grandma and Grandpa, and still has anxiety issues over that), but for the most part, I've done OK. She's a happy kid, sometimes incredibly mercurial, and that's the thing I have the most trouble with, and the thing I want some help with.

I eagerly poured over the catalog hoping for a title to jump out at me and say "this is it, this is the manual that will help you with Diana!" - I really should know better than that by now... It would appear that I am writing my own manual for her, but it's written more like a non-native speaker. I speak Dianese, but I wouldn't say I'm fluent. When she was diagnosed, I told the psychologist, "it's like she's trying to get me to play a game with her, but I don't know the rules." You know what? Eight years later, I still don't.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


[cue dramatic echo]!

When Diana can't find a video she has carelessly mislaid (or has stopped working and been thrown out), conniptions are had. She's been watching Sesame Street on video, nearly to the exclusion of anything else since she was a toddler. I had hoped we'd "graduate" to something a little older for her by now - she's 11 - but alas, no. She stacks the VHS tapes like bricks sometimes, hoards them like a kid with Hallowe'en candy in March, and knows what video it is 5 seconds into the tape's running, just by the opening stuff. She knows them all by heart. Every. Last. One of them.

Tonight, she decided she wanted Learning to Share. I got her out of the bath, and was preparing her hair for all the ribbons and stuff she wants installed there, when she said she wanted that video after I was done. (Spoken in Dianese, of course, it sounded more like "first ponytail, then Learning to Share.") So I asked my husband if he could find it amongst the pile of tapes at the foot of our bed (where she watches them, on the only working VCR in the house), while I fixed her hair. No luck. *sigh* Unsurprisingly, she's not happy about this. So I ordered a used copy from for 80¢, and got expedited shipping.

Her other thing is to request the book-and-tape sets advertised on the VHS tapes at the end of the shows. Not only are VHS tapes obsolete, but the cassette tapes mentioned are, too. How do you explain obsolescence to a child, let alone one with autism?! *SIGH* 

And to make things even more exciting, she has a weird, itchy rash. No fever, appetite is normal, so I don't know what this is, unless it's an allergic reaction to something. I'll keep her home tomorrow unless it's faded, since I don't know what it is, and try to get her into the doc first thing. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I think Diana is hypnotizing her teachers. There's no other explanation for why every parent/teacher conference or conversation is the same. "She makes us laugh." "She's a lot of fun." "She tries to manipulate us when she can." etc. They all claim to love her, are defensive of her when I comment (affectionately!!!) that she's rotten, and talk about how much they miss her whenever she's not in class. Clearly, these experienced teachers are all mesmerized by something my kid's done, and now she's gained control of the class, or at least the teachers. It's weird! 

I adore my child. I am "lucky" enough to see her at her best AND worst. Apparently, she's mostly at her best at school - this is a good thing! But even if she's well-behaved and hardworking, that doesn't account for the humor and affection I hear in their voices when she does something not-so-good (like stealing one teacher's lunch or figuring out that the spell check was on while she did a spelling test). How does she do it?? Even when she misbehaves, has a fit, or refuses to do something, they all act like she's the funniest kid in the class! *sigh* I swear, if not for the autism, she'd be the most dangerous politician the world has seen.

Same track, different train; her first quarter report card was quite excellent, especially for being in a new building, and a higher stress level: 4 As, 4Bs.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

What's Burning?

My husband smelled it a few seconds before I did. *sniff* What's burning? He gets up to investigate, I follow. Diana's in the kitchen eating cold pizza for breakfast. *sniff* What's burnt? No, not the toaster. It's coming from the microwave, but there's nothing in there now. I look in the garbage, and there is a rock-hard Krispy Kreme donut, slightly charred, in there. Apparently she didn't recall Daddy's warning that a donut only needs 6 seconds. Now the house smells like burned sugar.

It's nice that's she's getting some independence. Nice that she didn't kick us out of our own bed on a Saturday to get things for her. But I sure wish not to wake up to the smell of something burning again!