Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Posts Tagged ‘social story

Comic Relief

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I still feel guilty about not adequately preparing Pudding the last time we moved.  Oh, I know what you’ll say: how could you?  You didn’t know how!  Thank you, friend.  Now I do, and in some ways it is worse.  I’m more responsible this time around.  Somehow I have to make her ready for this move.  The problem is, I don’t know for certain that things won’t change.  We’re still putting her program together, and it looks increasingly likely that we can’t do many things until we’re over there.

The one thing we know for certain, that won’t suddenly change on us, is our housing.  We have been assigned a house, and requested photos so that I can show them to Pudding.  She is delighted with the photos.  She has already assigned everybody their bedrooms, though she does insist she’ll be sleeping in Cubby’s room.  It has a small swimming pool, and a nice garden, so she is very excited about it.  Too excited.  She looks at the photos daily on her iPad.  She asks to go there all the time.

Here is our problem.  Pudding still has a fuzzy sense of time.  We think she understands “now”.  She seems to appropriately use “later”.  She knows her days of the week and months of the year, but just as words, not concepts.  She knows she goes swimming on Sundays, for instance, but doesn’t know when Sunday is in relation to other days.  She tends to insist it is Sunday so she can get to go that day.

We don’t leave until the beginning of August.  While the remaining time is just a flash in the pan for we grown-ups who have things to do, it is an inconceivable amount of time to Pudding.  She wants to go to Africa (we dropped the South part for brevity’s sake) and she wants to go today.  When we tell her we aren’t going today, she just tries harder, convinced she will hit upon the right approach sooner or later.  After all, this works whenever she wants to go to the park.

When our friends were here, we were discussing what we might do for the day.  Pudding wanted to go to Africa, of course.  I explained for the umpteenth time that we weren’t, and she seemed to get it.  It was time to get going, so I asked her to go to the bathroom first.

“Potty for Africa!”  She grinned as she closed the bathroom door behind her.

The Potty for…technique was the reason we had to stop rewarding her for going to the bathroom during potty training.  The little wheeler-dealer would hold it until she extorted a cookie, or preferred treat every time.

We all laughed.  I was reminded of a telethon with an unconventional method for raising money for developing countries.  It sounds like a charity movement, I said.

Don’t worry, everybody here groaned too.  True comic relief.

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Written by Spectrummy Mummy

May 26, 2011 at 7:23 am

All You Need is Love

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There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done.
Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung.
Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game.
It’s easy.

Nothing you can make that can’t be made.
No one you can save that can’t be saved.
Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time.
It’s easy.

All you need is love.
All you need is love.
All you need is love, love.
Love is all you need.

“All You Need is Love,” The Beatles, Lennon/McCartney, Parlophone 1967.

_____________

I hate Valentine’s Day.   There, I said it. I hated it when I was a spinster (hate that word too) and I still hate it now.  That is a lot of hate for a day that purports to be about love.
It isn’t about love though, it is about crass commercialism.  A day when we feel lonely if we don’t have a significant other.  And if we do, we feel bad if we don’t buy our loved one an expensive gift, or go out for a meal that costs three times the usual price.  Really, if you’re in love, you should be showing that every single day, not waiting for a cheesy romantic occasion.  In our house, my husband is the romantic one.  I told him to never buy me anything for Valentine’s Day, not even a card, and I meant it.  I’m the Ebeneezer Scrooge of this day.  Bah, Hallmark!

I never even liked Valentine’s Day as a teenager.  Admittedly, I was a mousy-haired, flat-chested, glasses-wearing (when forced to), braces-wearing, skinny little nerd, so the odds weren’t really in my favour, and I knew that.  But what if I hadn’t got it?  What if I’d been unable to interpret the mixed messages of Valentine’s Day?  Earlier I googled “Valentine’s Day” and “autism” and it came up with a link for a social story about Valentine’s Day that was aimed at adolescents on the spectrum.  It described socially appropriate touching, ways you can tell loved ones that you care about them, developing feelings about certain people, and the specifics of card giving and receiving.  Awesome, right?

No!  Because even this came with a price tag of $9.95.  If anything is going to be tough for our kids, and really, LOTS of things are going to be tough for them, navigating the minefield of romance and social appropriateness is going to be the worst.  Add in the novelty and break from routine you get on a holiday, and the ensuing sensory overload, and I’m just downright offended.  Even here we can’t have a free service?  I’m okay with charging exorbitant amounts for flowers and jewelry, people don’t need those, but an adolescent teenager could get themselves into a world of trouble, confusion, and heartache, simply by not being able to understand another person’s intentions.

So yes, I hate it.

Nonetheless, I just assembled 11 Valentine’s cards for Pudding to take to her cupid party tomorrow at school.  I think it is stupid that even preschoolers are sucked into the ritual.  And she gets hyped-up enough on sugar at Halloween, Christmas, and Easter; not to mention candy reinforcers in her classroom and speech therapy.  I don’t like it, but I don’t have to.  It isn’t about me.  Just like the time I made the s’mores, this is another quintessential American experience.  If there is a treat involved, she’ll like it.  And if she wants to do it, I’ll make it happen for her, just like any other day.  There is nothing she can do that can’t be done.

One day I know I’ll have to explain Valentine’s Day and what it means.  I might even use a social story, but I absolutely refuse to pay a penny to anyone trying to make a profit.  She can learn how to play the game, though it probably won’t be as easy as The Beatles promised.  I hope I’ll be able to convey to her that a relationship isn’t validated by the things you buy one another at a prescribed time.  Love is spontaneous, and timeless and worthy of being celebrated every single day.  Even if you just do that by bringing a cup of tea in bed in the morning.

Still, she’ll inevitably come to her own conclusions, just like her daddy, who left me a box of chocolates this morning.  Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time.  It’s easy.

Love is all you need.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

February 13, 2011 at 8:36 pm

iBelieve

with 19 comments

From before you could buy an iPad, I knew I wanted one for Pudding.  When Cubby was born, his father bought me an iPod Touch.  When I was nursing the newborn, Pudding latched on to the iPod.  I was amazed how well she could use it, how naturally the touch screen and visual layout came to her.  I downloaded some apps for her, and uploaded some cartoons.  It came so naturally to her, she learned so easily in this format.  I didn’t know at the time that she was a visual learner, like many other children on the spectrum.  Of course, I didn’t even know there was a spectrum back then.

I didn’t notice then that her fingers didn’t work quite as well as they should.  I remember during her initial OT evaluation remarking that there was no way she could have significant fine motor delays, as she was so very capable with my iPod.  I was wrong, and following the diagnosis, I observed how her little fingers would struggle and wished they made a bigger iPod that would be just the right size for her.

Months later, that was exactly what Apple did with the iPad.  By that time, however, the device was way out of our budget.  I told myself we’d save up for one for her for Christmas, but finances just became more and more difficult.  We couldn’t afford the therapy our doctor recommended, then we had to let go of her occupational therapist, and speech therapist.  We’d purposely remained in the US to provide the best treatment options for our girl, we’d never imagined how difficult that would be.

I started to read about how the autism community had discovered the same thing with this technology as I’d observed with Pudding.  The iPad tapped right into our kid’s strengths.  Developers created and marketed apps directly to those with communication challenges.  The iPod, and later the iPad, became a more affordable communication device.  Families discovered how it helped their loved one to remain organized, with visual schedules and social stories at the touch of a button.  Pudding’s teacher introduced them to the classroom, and is undergoing training to help Pudding and her classmates use them to their full potential.  Apple had created a revolution.  I told myself one day, perhaps after returning to work, we’d become part of that revolution too.

I didn’t have to wait.  Pudding is the very fortunate recipient of an iPad.  A gift of kindness so touching I can hardly find the words to express my gratitude.  We aren’t waiting for Christmas, she is using it right now.  Though she can use it to access entertainment, it isn’t a toy.  She uses it, she doesn’t play with it.  It is fostering her independence as she makes her own leisure choices.  It is teaching her how to write the letters of the alphabet, and the basics of reading.  It is a tool that works with the way her brain works, rather than struggling against her differences.  I’m busy learning about other apps to organize her day, and encourage appropriate behaviors in unfamiliar situations.  If anybody reading this can recommend apps, please do so in the comments.  We’ve got a lot to learn, but I’m already amazed.

And I believe.  I believe in kindness and goodwill.  I believe that this world is becoming more accommodating to those with differences like my girl.  I believe in my girl.  I believe in her future, with all the tools she needs to succeed in life.

I believe in Santa.

*****

If you have anything left over to give, please consider making a donation to the Autism Society of America, so that other families might benefit from this amazing technology.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

December 24, 2010 at 8:47 am

Going on a road trip

with 2 comments

“Get your motor running
Head out on the highway
Looking for adventure
And whatever comes our way”

Born to be Wild (c) Steppenwolf, Dunhill, RCA,1968

Tomorrow we are going on holiday (vacation) for 2 weeks.  We’re driving to Florida, where Spectrummy Daddy’s family live, spending a night in Savannah on the way there.  My parents arrive on Monday, it has been a whole year since we were last together.  I’m very excited, but not at all prepared.  Pudding and Cubby were ill earlier in the week, and now it is my turn.  There is still laundry to be done, clothes to be packed, a social story to be made, toys to be found, food to be prepared, a house to be cleaned….the list goes on.

I have things to tell you too, but they’re just going to have to wait.  Probably a lot of things will have to wait, but I hope to post you some updates as we go along.  Pudding will turn 4 on the 4th, I’m excited that she is going to spend her birthday with family for once.  I’m ready for this.  I’m ready for a break.  If I can just get everything ready before then.   But typing a post will not get us on the road.

I need to

just

stop

typing

now.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

November 26, 2010 at 8:03 am