Monday, January 26, 2009

The Economy

It seems that everywhere you look there are examples of just how crumby the economy has gotten. A sad reminder that nothing is permanent, that there are no guarantees. Unfortunately, a program for which I have a lot of respect and a lot of passion about might be on the chopping block, due to cuts in the budgets. Both of my sons attended the Northern Utah Autism Program (NUAP) during their preschool years. I would have to say that I credit them with the major successes we've had with our boys.
L. was not speaking, was not potty trained, and exhibited some very destructive behaviors when we began their program. I can't say what would have happened without their guidance, and training. I can tell you what would have happened to H. though. H. didn't speak either. The public school systems Head Start Program tested him and found that he was eligible for their serves and for a time a speech therapist was coming to our house to work with him. She was excellent. The time came when he was old enough to go to preschool.
I could see right away that he didn't fit in with the other children. He couldn't obey simple commands, he couldn't sit still at circle time, and he didn't communicate like the other children. I did, however, have the ability to see that he was an intelligent child. Head Start sadly, did not have that ability. After several months they told me that they felt he belonged with the mentally retarded children in a separate preschool away from the normal kids. H. was on the waiting list for NUAP at the time and by a miracle, we got the call that they had room for him and would take him.
Within six months he was speaking, potty trained, and his attention skills had drastically improved. Because of NUAP he was able to go on to a regular school and be mainstreamed into a normal classroom setting. I can't say that he doesn't still have a few struggles, but we've been very blessed with excellent and patient teachers who work with him tirelessly. I really in my heart of hearts believe that without NUAP he never would have made it this far.
I told his teacher this story, getting teary eyed as I recounted it. She was stunned, knowing him now, that they ever would have suggested that he be put in with the mentally handicapped children in preschool. The fact is he reads on a higher level than the other children his age, he spells like a champ, and he isn't too shabby at math either. What's most important to me is that both of my sons are able to experience their full potential. Even if for L. that isn't on the same level as his brother, I want them to be all they can be.
NUAP was a big part of helping them achieve that potential that was locked away. I owe so much to them. Now I see that program in jeopardy and it makes me feel so sad for the parents and children who's quality of living hangs by a thread. I hope for them that the states sees what a valuable asset they are and continues to provide funding.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Vacation

It is nearly Christmas. This is a good thing. For the past month L. says "Tomorrow is Christmas!" and we have to remind him that it's not. We show him the calender and count down the days with him. Funny thing is, he thinks that by marking off the days himself that will make those days just disappear. He does the same thing at school with his schedule. He tries to rearrange the sequence or takes things off he doesn't want to do. If only that were an option!
Last Friday was his last day for two weeks, so comes the daunting task of trying to keep him occupied until he goes back to school. We got him Jungle Book 2, which I think is a really annoying and very ill thought out movie, but he loves it. So now the other children are bummed because that's all he wants to watch. I feel for them, I don't really care for the movie myself.
What's up with Disney putting out all of these cheap sequels, with bad animation and cheesy catch phrases, that have the same basic plot, with a few token songs, slapping their name on it and selling it for the full price? Desperate parents (such as myself), who jump at any family movie that is released because there are so few that come out unless it's Thanksgiving or Christmas, must settle for an inferior product. Look at me, I'm grudgingly one of them.
Anyhow, L. is perfectly happy with it but the rest of us are near to mad. Just think another week and a half of it! Actually, we are being very brave this year and trying for an over night visit to Grandma and Grandpa's house. L. does not like sleeping anywhere that isn't home, so we are a little worried, but hopefully it will work out. And just in case it doesn't, I'm sure we'll bring along Jungle Book 2 to calm him if need be.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

School Notes Home

Each day when my son L. gets home, I grab his backpack first thing and rummage through it for his notebook. This notebook dates to the beginning of the year when his teacher Mrs. R. started sending notes home on his progress and little things that happen during the day that I might have an interest in. Some days say he's had a good day, was cooperative, did his work, etc. Some days aren't so great. He was stubborn, refused to follow his schedule, etc.
The entries that I like best are the ones that tell me a little story about some funny thing he did that day. For instance, he said he wanted to play doctor. The teacher's assistant cheerfully agreed, even after L. said he was going to give her a shot. Well, the poor woman got the shock of her life when he stuck her with a straight pin. Not that I'm laughing at her misfortune, but for some reason this really made me laugh. The other day a little girl in his class had a birthday party. He promptly ate the piece of cake he was given and then went over to her and opened his mouth wide and tried to get her to feed him her cake.
His teacher Mrs. R. said that one day a child in her class was having a melt down, L. tried to push them aside and as he said, "I'll deal with this." Apparently he thought he could do better. So while I cringe at the entries that state he had a bad day, I find great joy in the little laughs I get from the other stories I get to read.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


L. went as spaghetti and meatballs this year for Halloween. He mostly did well and had fun. However, when he was done, he was done. He got in the van and cried because he thought his little sister should be in her car seat. Every time I tried to take a picture he would see the flash go off and immediately move. My camera always catches him blinking, or making a face, or moving, or walking away. I managed to get a few shots of him though. He is actually really excited about holidays now. I'm so glad, because now the other children can have a semi-normal experience too. They all looked so cute dressed up, with their bags, eagerly anticipating each candy that got put in their bags.

He seems to be doing so much better and understanding so much more than he did before. This is something we discussed on Halloween with his teachers and principal during a parent teacher conference and an IEP update. They have noticed the change in L. as well. He is not as angry and he is communicating more. That's not to say that all of our problems are solved, but it sure seems like cake after some of the things my husband and I have been through over the last few years. I thank God every day that he seems to be getting a little better. I know that it is through help from those around me that we have accomplished so much with him. I consider it nothing less than a miracle.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


For the past two weeks I have been in Cambodia. After serious debate, my husband and I decided that we should not attempt taking the younger children with us. We had visions of L. throwing a tantrum on the airplane, having them drop us off somewhere in Asia with no way of getting back. Besides which, it is torture for L. to not have his own bed, and be in his own element. So we chose to have my two sisters stay with the children at our home while we were gone.
L. was perfectly content with the set up. As a matter of fact, I sincerely doubt that he even missed us while we were gone, most likely favoring my sisters over me. There was little more than one small incident during our absence. Apparently L. decided to cut his hair. He was suppose to be in bed, which is usually when he decides to do something naughty. He felt that he needed a trim and cut his hair. My sister said that he came down stairs with his hair completely hacked up in what resembled the mange. She burst out laughing. She said that L. was grinning ear to ear, pleased with the fact that she was experiencing so much mirth over his self make over.
The next day he went to school like that, as there were no beauty salons open so early in the morning. The teacher said that she and the aids got a good laugh out of it too. He got his hair buzzed that afternoon when he came home from school. I count myself lucky in that that was the only mishap during out two week leave.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


L. had a birthday just a few days ago. I think it was the first time he really understood what it was all about. A week or so before I said to him that his birthday was coming up and he shocked his father and I by stating the day, month, and YEAR he was born. I don't recall ever telling him that he was born in 1999. Weird that he somehow knew. All he wanted, as usual, was a Buzz Lightyear. (Does every autistic kid on the planet love that guy or what?) We got him a few things and I tried to hide them in my closet. This is something else he has never done before, he snooped around until he found where his presents were and then he opened all of them before the big unveiling at the party.
My parents and two of my sisters came to have cake and sing to him. He seemed very pleased with the whole affair. I was really excited that he got into it so much. L. is beginning to come out of his shell a little and act a little more like a child. He knew that the day was about him, that it was his birthday, that the cake was in his honor. It was a thrill.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Little Sister

L. has been fiercely loyal to, and inseparable from his baby sister from the moment she was born. When we brought her home from the hospital for the first time he was completely and totally enamored with her. Since then he remains very over protective to the point of being a tad obsessive. It was difficult to explain to friends and family when they wanted to hold the newborn and he would throw a fit and tell them to give her back to mommy. This included grandparents. They would hold her and dote over her and he would cry and try and take her away from them.
As the years have gone by, three to be exact, he is not as bad about it as he use to be. L. is still very protective of her but not to the point that he won't let others touch her now. However, if I have to take hers with me and he isn't going he gets upset, even to the point of tears. So the other night when she fell off of the bunk bed and had to be taken to the emergency room for stitches, there was some high drama.
My husband, who hands blood, needles, gore, and the likes, much better than I do took her to the hospital. I'm sure that with all of the frightened shrieks coming from me, L. wasn't exactly sure what was going on, but he was upset, and even more so when my husband left with his baby sister. He stood at the window for hours whaling, "My daddy, my baby, come back." To see his innocence and his pure love for that little girl not only makes me happy but at times like that it breaks my heart. I want to explain to him what's happening but he can't understand.
After awhile, he eventually fell asleep, as they were out quite late. But the next morning he was so pleased to see her. Such a tender moment for such a big hulking kid like him.