Archive for category Communicating
Clay hasn’t had a lot to say at our every-other-week typing sessions over the last few visits. We’re not sure why. Sometimes its allergies. Sometimes he’s tired. Sometimes he just can’t get his body and head organized to share thoughts.
Then, sometimes, the words just come tumbling out. He sits right down, puts his arm out for support and doesn’t stop typing until his message is finished.
I don’t know if it was the two weeks off between school and camp. Or the beautiful, clear air. Or maybe the horseback ride that went so well that morning. All I know is that last Saturday, he had a lot to say. It was one of the good days. Read the rest of this entry »
My wife was in our backyard with the dogs one morning last week, when one of the black vultures that have been living – rent free – in our garage popped into the window on the right.
Not that uncommon of an occurrence since our friends moved in last summer. But then something else caught my wife’s eye. Someone new peeking out of the window on the left. Read the rest of this entry »
When I heard my wife’s panicked voice calling me from the vicinity of our aging swing set Saturday afternoon, I had a pretty good idea what had happened.
I just didn’t know how serious it really was.
It all started earlier in the week. On Thursday I saw Clay by the swing set, talking quietly to himself, as I walked to the backdoor on my way home from work. He usually is at the gate—if he is in the backyard—when I pull in the driveway, but I didn’t think much of it. After getting changed, I headed out to fire up the barbecue for dinner. Clay was still over by the swings. It was unlike him to not be in and out of the kitchen when dinner was being prepared, making us a little suspicious. When I started cooking, and he was still over there, I got worried. He follows me like a lost puppy when I am barbecuing, closely monitoring the progress of his dinner, so something didn’t seem right. I jogged across the lawn to investigate. Read the rest of this entry »
So, here is the dilemma.
Clay’s grandfather, aka Goots, was throwing a party for his 80th birthday. He reserved a room at a nearby restaurant.
On the one hand:
We know from experience that restaurant is a tad crowded and noisy for the little guy. The bathroom, which we would be visiting numerous times is, how shall we say, cramped. Not only does it contain a sink built for Lilliputians, but you will inevitably be smacked in the keister with the door while washing your hands. Try maneuvering two people into that space.
My wife’s whole family would be there, and she and I both wanted a chance to chat and mingle, a difficult task when Mr. Busy Hands is in a crowded restaurant.
Add in the fact that Clay has been in high manic mood for the past week or so – we think it is allergies – and you can see that it was a situation crying out for a sitter.
Last year, when we took Clay to the prom held by a local autism group things went more smoothly then we ever would have dreamed – especially since he had been up almost the entire night before. This past Friday, he had a full night’s sleep, so we expected more of the same.
The night started, much like last year — getting the little guy dressed in his formal attire. An act that requires a magician’s timing (too soon and he will be completely undressed before we go, too late and we risk a meltdown from rushing), a race car driver’s reflexes (every try tying a tie on someone who is moving?) and the patience of a yogi (’nuff said). We have none of those, but managed nonetheless. Read the rest of this entry »
Before this past Saturday afternoon, we had one experience with Special Olympics.
Clay was in middle school. The teacher told my wife to show up for the opening ceremonies at 9 a.m., not realizing that Clay’s event wouldn’t take place until the afternoon. A hot day at the local high school football stadium. Swarming crowds. A blaring marching band. General chaos. You can do the math.
My wife lasted about an hour (thanks to a nearby John Deere tractor that drew Clay like a magnet) before heading home, where the overwhelmed Olympian fled to the safety of his bed and fell asleep. Three years later the scars are still raw. Read the rest of this entry »
When we got to the stables for Clay’s regular Saturday morning horseback ride last week, we had no idea if he would get on the horse.
Lately, it has been about a 50/50 shot.
Horseback riding is one of the few activities that Clay seems to truly engage in, something we learned quickly when he climbed on a horse the first time we visited a stable. He connects with horses, pressing his forehead against them, petting them. He is all smiles at the stables. But, starting a few months back, it has been a struggle to get him up in the saddle. Read the rest of this entry »
Last spring, I reported that a family of black vultures had taken up residence in the loft above our garage.
We were initially nervous at the arrival of these Shamu-size predators, fearing in particular for the life of our wee basset hound. No need to worry, Clay said, “ … they are docile.”
As usual, the little fellow turned out to be right, and we coexisted peacefully with the vultures throughout the summer. They even taught us a lesson about not judging a book by its cover (a lesson we learn over and over with Clay). When it appeared they had moved on for the winter, we still found ourselves watching for them on the roof when we came up the driveway or hung out in the backyard.
Later today, Clay is making his third presentation to a class at Arcadia University. He’s practically a grizzled old veteran at this point.
In his first presentation, he talked about what typing has meant to him:
“My life was poor before I was typing. Now I am a free soul,” he told the class.
In his second presentation, he talked about his frustration that he is not typing more at school and about his Mom.
“I type well with my mom,” he typed. “She asks me lots of questions. she loves me very much.”
I won’t be able to make the third presentation, but I have a sneak preview to share since Clay was working on what he wants to say with his typing teacher, Lisa Romaine, on Saturday.
Here is part of what he has written, so far:
“i want to tell them i am very happy they want to see a person talk with a ipad. i hope they see it is me typing not mom. really hard to explain that it is me when mom is holding my arm. want to explain that i am smart but look retarded to most people. this is my biggest problem. i am smarter than i seem. just because i am not like you does not mean i am notworth knowing. think if you could not say what you wanted and only could type it with a person holding your arm. it sucks but is the only way for me.”
On Sunday, my wife asked him about using the word “retarded”.
“You’ve used the word ‘retarded’ twice now. Where did you learn that word?”
“ from school. some kids say it. they are stupid.”
“ Do they say it to you?”
“ no to each other. awesome to talk tomorrow. ”
Awesome, for sure. Can’t wait to hear how presentation number three comes out.
When I found out The Philadelphia Inquirer was planning to run an op ed I wrote about Clay’s thoughts on his future, I naturally wondered what the little guy had to say about that.
“awesome to be a star,” he typed on the iPad he uses to communicate. “so cool to be famos.”
The article focuses on questions Clay raised during a session with his typing teacher. Tough questions. The kind of questions the parents of a kid with autism have a hard time facing. Read the rest of this entry »