Posts Tagged autism

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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Grinchy Grin

Friday night, we decorated our tree for Christmas and found a place of honor for the Grinch and his dog/reindeer, a gift from a very thoughtful friend last year after we lost ours to Mr. Busy Hands.

The two of them seem quite happy in their new home, nestled between the cowardly lion and a strawberry. Yes, the little guy went to work on the ornaments quickly, as he does every year. A fragile Charlie Brown’s Christmas globe hit the floor just minutes after we plugged in the decorative lights. My fault for putting it out. Fortunately, most of his attention has been on the ceramic Santas, which, as usual, have found themselves relocated to numerous nooks and crannies throughout the house. I found one staring at me from the top of the toilet tank last night. Got me questioning whether I was naughty or nice this year. Read the rest of this entry »

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Questions Answered

Our recent trips to supported typing teacher Lisa Romaine have revealed how much Clay has to say through his keyboard. But the sessions in the room with the orange walls have also raised some interesting questions for us. Why does he move around so much? Why does he need support to type on his iPad when he uses it independently for most everything else? Why is this all so difficult for him? How is it that our basset hound can hear a potato chip hit the carpet in the family room while he is snoring like a freight train on the sofa two rooms away?

Typing is the key to unlocking Clay’s future, and we want to understand as much about it as we can. So, my wife posed all but the question about the dog (chalk that up to the mysteries of life) to Lisa via email. She also asked the Typing King himself. Their answers are below. Read the rest of this entry »

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Enlightening the World

Heading to our second session with supported typing teacher Lisa Romaine this past Saturday, we were just expecting an hour of working on Clay’s typing skills. The little guy had bigger ideas.

We started, as usual, with a few minutes in the play area to get the kinks out following a two-hour drive. Then Clay headed into the work room, where he spent most of the session typing one statement. He started with this, as Lisa blocked him against the wall to type:

“the way i see it is i am going to be famous some day  people will look to me for advice about all things autism  i am excited about the enormous potential to improve society”

Quite a start. Read the rest of this entry »

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Back in the Saddle

On our first visit to a stable, Clay surprised all of us by getting on a horse and taking it for a spin. He exhibited an instant comfort level and connection with horses, resting his forehead against their muzzles, touching their flanks. Sadly, his first group of lessons lasted only about a month before issues with insurance led to a need to look elsewhere. Easier said than done, it turned out.

After about a year of staring at painfully long waiting lists for therapeutic riding sessions (and 18-page applications), my wife recently connected with a newly invigorated program that had openings for lessons. So, Saturday morning, we made the 40 minute drive to Rainbow Ridge Farm Equestrian Riding Center to get the little guy back in the saddle, hoping the layoff didn’t dampen his enthusiasm or connection. Read the rest of this entry »

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Typing King

Last year, when Clay was asked to show off his typing skills for a class held at Arcadia University, I was on the road and had to watch it later on video. This year, I wasn’t about to miss it live.

Clay was typing for the Communications Mentors’ Network, a group that supports communication skills for everyone. The class was meeting in the campus library on an overcast afternoon. 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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