Archive for category Daily Life

Top hat and tails

Off to the prom

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 »

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Hop, Skip, Jump

Getting in the zone

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 »

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Saddle sores

Ready and waiting

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 »

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Still Here

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Wrestling with the tough questions

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 »

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A New Buddy?

On the Road to Our Big Adventure

When we pulled into the home of Delaware Valley Golden Retriever Rescue last Saturday, a big question was hanging in the air.

A key factor to consider when adopting a second dog, especially one being rescued from puppy mill purgatory, is how the first dog is going to feel about this intruder. It is a bit like bringing home a new baby, where the older sibling’s reaction can range from a hug to crying to thoughts that are better left unsaid.

The people with this rescue organization know this. So, they insisted that we bring along our basset hound, Miles, when Clay, my wife and I went to meet the dog they had picked out for us. Miles, who was a rescue himself a year ago, likes his spot on the sofa during the day. He likes his position at Clay’s feet during meals. He likes having first dibs on being scratched under the ears. Hard to know how he would react to a canine buddy. Read the rest of this entry »

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House of Wabi-Sabi

I’ve been busy transitioning to a new job, so my wife, Roe DeLuca, has stepped in to write about Clay’s unexpected Christmas gift request. Enjoy.

It was two weeks before Christmas, and we still had no idea what to get Clay.

Clay has rarely been interested in toys and his visual issues prevent him from playing sports. He does enjoy the rhythm and silliness of Dr. Seuss books and will repeatedly watch his two favorite movies (Toy Story and Shrek), but we always feel guilty that we don’t match the bounty received by his older brother.

Now that Clay communicates through a talking keyboard, I decided to ask him if there was anything special he’d like to see under the tree this year. Read the rest of this entry »

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Orange and Black

Halloween has never been our favorite holiday.

Let me count the ways. Clay has little tolerance for costumes, especially masks and hats. Due to his dietary issues, he can’t eat most of the candy that he is offered. Decorations have a short shelf life with Mr. Busy Hands in the house. And, because of the peculiar positioning of our neighborhood between two busy roads with no sidewalks, no trick or treaters ever darken our door.

We had a few good years early on with Clay dressed as either the Cat in the Hat or a chef, but were not unhappy when he grew out of a holiday that mostly brought agitation combined with a sugar high.

This year, a local autism organization organized a Halloween party at a Knights of Columbus hall. It promised to be Clay friendly, so we asked the little fellow if he wanted to go.

“sure,” he typed on his keyboard. Read the rest of this entry »

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A ‘Whatever’ Weekend

When our respite sitter offered to stay with Clay overnight so my wife and I could get away, we said, “Wow.” Then we said, “We’ll have to think about that.”

To give this some perspective, the last time we were away together—just the two of us—was about nine years ago. Long enough that we aren’t exactly sure of the year. Long enough that we weren’t even thinking of the possibility of doing it again.

So, we thought about it.

We knew we had accumulated a good number of back hours—close to 26—so we could go away for one night. (Paying a sitter for that many hours was out of the question.) We also knew our anniversary was coming up. But how would Clay do with us away overnight for the first time in his memory? Read the rest of this entry »

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Loose Ends

Back in my days as a journalist, it always nagged at me that there was so little follow-up, so little closure. I would cover an event or write a feature article about an interesting person and his or her work, but that would be the end of it. I rarely got the chance to see how things played out. With that in mind, I present the following list of updates to previous posts on this blog:

Visiting predators. The two black vultures that took up residence in our garage this past summer have flown the coop. I needed to store some tomato cages in the garage loft a few weeks back (yes, we keep our tomatoes behind bars; otherwise they might run away). I was pretty sure the vultures had gone (we hadn’t seen them for a couple of weeks), but I banged loudly on the steps a few times on my way up. Some things you just know instinctively. You don’t want to get in-between a mother grizzly and her cubs, you don’t want to eat the creamed corn at the Old Country Buffet and you don’t want to surprise vultures in an enclosed space. No need to push the envelope on that stuff.  They weren’t up there. As we suspected, they had been nesting in the hay bin, a cozy spot that is now filled with vulture feathers. We will most likely board up the broken windows they used to enter the garage this past spring, but that is a decision that has not yet been made. Read the rest of this entry »

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