Saturday, March 29, 2014

Movie

My Beloved Wife and I took Middle Son, Youngest Son, and Willow (Middle's service dog) to the Muppets Most Wanted at a sensory-friendly showing this morning.

Middle, who is profoundly autistic, loves the Muppets.  If it was up to him we'd have the Muppet Show playing 24x7 at our house.  When we got out of the van at the theater Middle was very excited.  I don't know if he knew that we were going to see a new Muppet movie and that was what he was excited about, or if he was excited because he knows that he will get candy and ice cream when we go to the movies.  Either way, he was happy.

Everyone enjoyed the show.  I saw Middle and Youngest both swaying to the music at various points.  Even Willow seemed to be watching the movie some of the time.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Hair

My Beloved Wife was very excited when I got home tonight.

When Middle Son arrived, she had just finished washing her hair and it was still wet.  Middle touched it and looked at her.  When she told him she had washed it, he smiled and went on to getting a snack.

She said "That's the first time he's asked me a question!"

It is exciting to see how he is getting more engaged with our enlarged, blended family.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

By name

I'm reading Why I Jump, by Naoki Higashida.  Higashida has autism and was thirteen when he wrote the book.  The first part of the book is written in question and answer format.  Question # 14 is "Why do you ignore us when we are talking to you?"

His answer is that he has trouble telling when people are talking to him.  He makes an analogy to vision--if you are looking at a mountain in the distance you don't see the dandelion at your feet, and vice versa.  He says that for him voices are like that.

Then he makes a recommendation/request.  "Use our names first to get our attention, before you start speaking to us."

This struck a chord for me.  I try very hard to do this with Middle.  Especially when I'm asking him to do something, and most especially when I'm teaching him something new.

I say his name.  Then I wait for him to look at me before I say anything else.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Wrong backpack

Middle Son's back pack was accidentally left in the nanny's car over the weekend.  So this morning we had to give him a different back pack.

He did not like it.  I gave it to him and he shoved it back at me.  I did eventually get him to take it, but he was clearly distressed that it was not the right one.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

IEP Meeting

We had our first IEP meeting for Middle Son at his new school (in our new school district) last week.  There were several noteworthy things.

First off was his use of his iPad.  He is doing much more with it than he has previously.  They described what he is doing.   They showed me how they have the communication app set it up.  Middle is using it to ask for breaks, to choose activities, and to select his lunch.  This is an order of magnitude more than we've seen him do before.  I am setting it up for him to use at home.  Now that My Beloved Wife is staying home we can put a lot more effort into using it with him at home.

Second was the way they interacted with Middle.  They had him "sign" his name on the papers.  They brought a puzzle along to give him something to do during the meeting.  They also had him play a game on the iPad (not his iPad, one of the teacher's).  He actually seemed interested in the game, which is also noteworthy.

Third, and perhaps most important, was the resources that the Bellevue School District has available and their attitudes about using them.  His IEP said that he is not eligible for Extended School Year (summer school).  We discussed that.  I said that I'd like him to do ESY.  The program administrator said that they can create an exception based on the fact that Middle is new to the district.  Then she opened up her laptop and wrote up the exception on the spot.  This is very unusual.  ESY costs money.  Schools usually resist spending money.  Later we were talking about Middle's iPad.  They asked if we were backing it up.  We are not.  I mentioned that I want to buy a second iPad for him.  That way he has back up hardware.  The speech pathologist said she could write a grant for him.    The school district could provide one that he could take home.  Including over the summer.  Which costs money.  Which would require a fight in most school districts.  And they did in a casual, off-handed manner.

We paid a premium when we decided to rent a house in Bellevue, largely because of the quality of the schools.  Bellevue has some of the best-rated public schools in the country.  I see why.

I am thankful that we can afford to live here.  Middle (and Oldest) can have so much help available to them that they didn't have in our old district.