Thursday, December 10, 2015


I have come to the conclusion that it is no longer safe to clip the nails of Middle Son's pointer fingers.  And perhaps his thumbs.

He is generally resistant to having his finger nails clipped (for some reason toe nails are not a problem).  I clip them as part of his night-time grooming routine.  We floss, brush teeth, and shave with an electric razor.  Then on some nights we clip nails.  When I get the clippers out Middle immediately presents his pinkies and lets me clip them.  Ring fingers are usually not too difficult.  Sometimes the middle fingers are ok.  Usually they are a challenge.

The pointer fingers are hugely difficult.  I try to hold his hand steady, with my fingers under his pointer so that the nail is exposed.  He takes my other hand and holds it so that it blocks my line of sight.  He digs his nail into my hand so that I can't get the clipper under it.  Then he starts jerking around.

Last time I tried to clip the pointer, My Beloved Wife came in to help.  We wrestled with Middle for about 5 minutes.  Then I called a halt.  We weren't getting anywhere and Middle was becoming more and more agitated.  I was afraid he was going to jerk too hard and dislocate or break my fingers (or his).

He will let me use an emery board on his pointers and thumbs.  A few nights ago, after I spent some time filing his middle fingers I was able to use the nail clipper on them.  Still couldn't get the pointer.

I've told the ABA therapist that we are starting to work with that this is a high priority.  If I can't clip them safely, they will get very long.  That poses another sort of hazard that I'd rather not have to deal with.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Xbox One

I was talking with MomC the other day about Youngest Son's burning desire for Lego Dimensions. She told me that she is buying it for him, along with a Xbox One.  I told her that I've been considering  getting one too. I want Youngest to keep believing that Christmas wishes come true for a little longer. 

She told me that Oldest Son is very upset about it. He doesn't want to live in a house that has an Xbox One. He says he might go live with his aunt. 

My Beloved Wife bough an Xbox One for our household yesterday. We have an Xbox 360, but the drive doesn't work so you can only play games that have been bought by downloading. 

When I told MBW that Oldest is threatening to move out over the Xbox she was dumbfounded. Which is very much the appropriate reaction. 

There is a legitimate concern buried at the bottom of this. In the original launch plans for Xbox One there were serious concerns about privacy and ownership. Oldest worries a lot about digital privacy. Microsoft revamped things in response to outcry. 

But moving because of an Xbox is wildly unreasonable. 

This is emblematic of Oldest and the way his autism manifests itself. I suspect that he is going to have trouble learning how to compromise when his absolutist beliefs come into conflict with the realities of life. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


Oldest Son is a senior in high school this year.  I've been talking with him about working and jobs.  The conversation is going very slowly.  He will only talk to me about it when we are alone (or with Middle Son, since Middle doesn't talk).

Sometimes he asks me what kind of job I think he should get, or what he'd be good at.  He reminds me of the Mother of My Children when he does that.  MomC used to ask me that.  I never did figure out how to respond.

With Oldest, I try and turn it back to him.  He is the one who is the best placed to decide that.  When we talked about it last week, he said he doesn't think having a job is for him.  He doesn't want to have a boss he is beholden to.  I told him that is going to be tough.  There are lots of self-employed people out there, but you have to have the drive and capability to carve out a niche.  His autism will make that harder.  He has trouble initiating contact.  He has trouble with organization and follow through.

I struggle with how hard to push Oldest on this (and other) issues.  As his dad, part of my job is help him move forward in life, to launch out into the world.  He gets stuck easily, and needs pushes to keep moving.  It's a real struggle to find the correct balance.  I worry that I am erring on the side of pushing to little.  But when I push to hard, he refuses to engage.  I worry that if I push too hard too often, he'll withdraw and stop engaging with me at all.  If life at my house is too uncomfortable for him, he could just stop coming and stay at MomC's all the time.

My Beloved Wife and I were talking about it last night.  Apparently Younger Stepdaughter recently asked Oldest when he was going to get a job.  He said he "doesn't think work is for him."  MBW said she thinks Oldest has a lot of hard knocks coming his way.

I'm pretty sure she is right.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Breakfast for Dinner

Last night, it was just the boys and myself at the house.  Older Stepdaughter was off with friends, Younger Stepdaughter was in the hospital for DKA (again), and My Beloved Wife was at the hospital with her.

Around 5:30 Youngest Son came to me and asked if it was time for dinner.  I said yes, it was about time.  He said "We probably don't have much time to cook."  I said we still had some time.

Then he asked if we could have breakfast for dinner.  I asked him what he meant by that.  He said bagels, toast, apples, and oranges.  I said breakfast for dinner would be ok, but we needed to add some protein, and that I thought we had some frozen sausage patties in the freezer.

He then asked if he could help make dinner.  Naturally, I said yes.  I put him in charge of making toaster waffles for everyone.  We ended up with sliced apples, oranges, toaster waffles with your choice of syrup or nutella (Oldest Son's idea), and sausages.

We had fun doing it together.

Saturday, November 28, 2015


Youngest Son has been talking about what he wants for Christmas.  A lot.  At the top of his list is Lego Dimensions, a video game.  I don't want to buy him more video games.  He asked me many times if I was going to get him Lego Dimensions, and I've avoided committing.

Then a few days ago, he told me not to worry about it, because he was going to wish for it.  Which is naively, achingly, sweet.  And now I'm torn.  I don't want to buy it for him, but I also want him to believe that his wishes can come true.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Car Talk

I drive Youngest Son home to my house on Wednesday evenings and drive him to school on Thursday mornings.  Sometimes he says very interesting things.  One morning he said “I think I know why Middle Son lives at your house and not mom’s.  It’s because he does a better job of not running away at your house.”  Which is indeed correct.

Like most eight-year-old American boys, Youngest is obsessed with video games.  If we let him he would spend most his time playing video games and the rest of his time talking about them.  I recently added a new rule.  He is not allowed to talk about video games in the car.

We’ve a rule in place for a while that on the drive home he has to tell me about two things that happened that day.  Mostly I hear about what he had for lunch at school and what he did at recess.  Since adding the “no video game talk”, I now hear more about school and what he does with his friends. 

I’m glad I added that rule.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


It’s often difficult to get Oldest Son to engage with me on challenging topics.  He’s worried about what his future holds.  High school graduation is fast approaching.  He wants to go to college in Olympia.  The idea of him living semi-independently in a dorm (or independently in an apartment) scares me.  Especially him doing it too far away for me to stop by and see how things are going.  I think it scares him too.

Recently when I was driving him to the library, he started talking to me about it more openly than usual.  I think the fact that it was just the two of us made it easier for him.  I’ve heard from other parents that they find out more about what’s happening with their kids while driving them around.  That’s true with Oldest as well. 

I’m going to make a point of driving him around more in the future.  I wonder what I will learn.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Talking to the Pediatrician

Wow, it's been a long time since my last post.  I find that I've missed writing.  It helps me clarify things and clear my head.  So I'm starting again.

This summer, Middle Son seemed to be having problems with his ears.  It's always hard to tell with him.  He was covering them with his hands.  When asked if his ears hurt, he signed yes.

I took him to the doctor.  She tried to look in his ears.  He didn't want her to.  He is now big and strong enough that if he objects to a procedure we can't force it.  She gave us a referral to Children's Hospital to see if they could do it.  I made an appointment.  The ENT tried to look in his ears and also failed.   We scheduled an ear exam under anesthesia.  The doctor said that ear infections often clear themselves, and that if he seemed better next week we could cancel the appointment.

He did seem better, so I canceled it.  A few weeks later he again seemed to be having problems.  I called to schedule the exam.  The scheduling nurse suggested that I call the pediatrician in the meantime and ask for antibiotics.

I called the pediatricians office and left a message asking for a prescription.  A little later the nurse called and said the doctor wanted me to bring Middle in for an exam before prescribing antibiotics.  I told the nurse this was a waste of time given what happened that last time I took him in.  The nurse, sounding uncomfortable, repeated that the doctor wanted me to bring him in.  Realizing that the nurse was just the messenger, I asked to speak directly to the doctor.  The nurse, with a note of relief in her voice, said she would arrange it.

The pediatrician called.  I asked why she wanted me to bring him in.  She said so that she could check for an infection.  She sounded surprised that I was asking.  I asked how she would do that.  Sounding even more surprised, she said by looking in his ears.  I asked if she'd looked at the notes from his last visits.  She said no.  I told her that during his last visit the doctor had tried to look in his ears and failed.  We'd go the hospital, where the ENT tried to look in his ears and failed.  We had an anesthetized exam schedule, but it would be another two weeks before we went in.  In light of all that, I asked if she still thought it was worth me bringing Middle in to her office.

She sheepishly apologized for not looking at the notes, and asked me what pharmacy she should send the antibiotic prescription to.