Wednesday, January 31, 2007

School House Rock at 2:37 am

 

This School House Rock song teaches kids about how electricty works…but not about how scaring Dad in the middle of the night sends electricty to the heart, thus causing a heart attack…. 

As I referenced in Demetrius’ birthday party posting, we ‘borrowed’ from the library a School House Rock DVD.  The kids love it.

Demetrius is particularly fond of two of the segments – Conjunction Junction and Electricity.

As it was a full moon last night, sleeping was, apparently, optional for the kids.  Maya awoke at 11:00 pm-ish and the only way she would stay asleep was if Kim was right next to her in bed…so Kim slept with the wee-one.

At 2:37am, the light in our bedroom goes on, I sit up, and in my ‘just awoke from 3 hours of REM and I don’t have my glasses on’ view is Demetrius standing by the light switch singing that Electricity song from School House Rock.  What the hell?

So, I calmly and quietly led him to the bathroom, he peed like Austin Powers coming out of suspended animation in the first of those movies, and I put him back to bed….while I was being serenaded to School House Rock favs from the 70s…from a kid born in 2000.

Crazy stuff I say!

Posted by Jerry in 13:36:50 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Discussion About Discipline

Interesting question came to me regarding discipline and Demetrius. The question read, “One of the great leaps forward with our son is his development of his speech and some independence, but with that comes some discipline challenges. What do you do with Demetrius?” (Not everyone is comfortable with putting their name on the post, so the identities of the innocent remain anonymous.)

First – the fact that you are making ‘leaps’ is outstanding, this means you, the therapists, the kid and the teachers are all making progress, so keep up what you are doing at this point! Progress to me is first and foremost, make sure that you don’t do anything that stops making gains here just for the sake of a little more discipline….

I can only be honest and tell you what I think works with my son, from my perspective.

Okay, first off, I’m a yeller. “I SAID CUT THAT OUT NOW!” I’m not blaming anyone for this, I don’t know if it genetic, learned behavior, or just plain ol’ ‘old school’… So, ‘know thy enemy’, which in this case is my predisposition to explode verbally (when I was a kid, I had a friend, Brett Misenheimer, who’s Dad never said two words, but communicated by staring..glaring…etc…once Brett was talking back to his mom, and the dad literally just said, ‘enough’, and Brett basically fell in line…HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN!?! I’ve always been wowed by that….and more since becoming a parent….but I digress).

So, lets say Demetrius is really whiny and seems to be throwing fits every time we ‘negotiate’ something – computer, TV, toys, etc… Our experience is #1 – he does this if he is getting sick…so go see if he is clammy or hot or sweaty for no reason…#2 – he’s over tired or physically stressed (these kids have a hard time regulating and recognizing their bodies, so you have to read the tea leaves for them and ask lots of questions), #3 – something is bothering him that he isn’t sharing (he got no computer time at school, he can’t find the toy that will soothe his OCD issues at that moment, he bruised his finger and isn’t telling us it hurts – again, ask lots of questions) with us. So you run through those. That can take about ½ hour to diagnose if you have to just let things slide a bit…you know, when your other kid is dragging and crabby from staying up late the night before…you give him/her some wiggle room? Same thing here, it is just harder to figure this all out with your autistic kid.

So you’ve done that and concluded he’s just being whiny. Then here’s my approach: get down on his level, force him to make eye contact and give him three subject/verb/direct order statements (any more than that and I’ll lose the kid). #1 – I want you to quit crying right now. #2 – I told you to clean your room, now. #3 – If you don’t clean your room and quit crying/whining, then you will not be able to play computer. (Crying should break out at a higher pitch as soon as you finish #3). “NO – quit crying, you have these three things, do them and we will be fine.”

I will repeat a second time. Third time I raise my voice and tell him this is the last time I’m telling him. Then he is disciplined (computer time taken away, whatever the punishment is that has been communicated). I try to not vary from this if at all possible.

However, like everything with this kid, we’ve had to practice this routine so we know each other’s tics/rules/protocols and how this goes…which should not vary if at all possible. I have found that my blowing my top and then reverting back to protocol (above) is irrelevant and useless. This is always going to be my bad and he can’t interpret or change ‘on the fly’ when in trouble. He gets confused and I’m just going to make things worse if I can’t control my temper. Onus on the parent here to remain consistent (is this any different with regular kids? Yes, to an extent – but the point is this should be just good parenting practice for the most part…autistic or neuro-typical.)

If I have gotten off of protocol, he’s upset, and thus, it is harder to unscramble the eggs as usual. And I can’t really reason with him like I can with Maya, “Maya, I’m really mad because you are five and you know better than to do XXXX. So you are getting a story taken away tonight.” Demetrius doesn’t operate that way; he won’t draw on a wall just for attention. So I can’t just be mad at him that way either, because he can’t interpret my actions/responses in the same way Maya can…so, again, the onus is on me.

So, in terms of discipline…this is just one example of course….we are talking about protocols that work for that child. Yes, Kim’s is different. He listens to Kim differently. That’s no different than regular kids though. But for him, typically, he’s in trouble for not cleaning his room, or picking up the basement…so the protocols are pretty easy to follow…but again, in my view, this is on me to follow. And I don’t always practice what I preach here.

There have been nights I have gone to bed thinking about how I have screwed up disciplining him…and it took me a lot of actual real hard thinking and applying some other things we’ve learned about him (his personal ticks) and autism (traits, etc …) to figure out a way to discipline a child with an emerging personality as he becomes more verbal and independent. It took me, it feels like, about two years to get HERE…and frankly, I’m not sure here is right…but it seems to be right now. Here is following a protocol that gets an ‘okay’ or ‘yes Daddy’ from Demetrius and sets him off on an actionable item, like picking up his room or the living room.

So, use what you’ve learned from teaching your child and how to interact with an autistic, and apply it here…this is an example of what works here in Alpharetta with Demetrius…

I would love to hear from other parents on what they are doing with their kids.

Of course…

Every kid is different, so every set of protocols…and parents reaction…is different.

Posted by Jerry in 21:26:52 | Permalink | Comments (5)

Monday, January 29, 2007

Bowling and Birthday Boy

The party and sleep over were enjoyed by all. A few soundbytes:

“Roll the ball straight, like a light saber.” David Button on how to properly roll the ball down the lane

“My Mom and Dad watched this when they were little. It isn’t good.” Joseph Carragher on School House Rock DVD

“Boys brush your teeth. You smell.” Maya’s orders to the boys upon getting ready for bed.

“Have you gotten the donuts yet?” David Button to me at about 10:15ish, Saturday night and again at about 6:45-7:ish – Sunday morning.

Photos:

David put some serious body english into this roll. No one brought more energy or enthusiasm to their game than David. He instructed all of us on his proper form…which periodically changed for whatever worked best on the last roll for him. He also had no problems helping the folks on the adjacent lanes. I am sure they took his infectious, bubbly, enthusiastic critique to heart, especially when the saw him reveling and dying with each of his own rolls….

Joseph had it all figured out….including how to bank the ball on the gutter guard to angle it into standing pins. I would say he would spare out about every 4th to 5th set. Good little bowler…don’t know if he has a future on the PBA, but he was our high scorer on Saturday night

The ball was bigger than Maya, and it was pink….but she used every ounce of energy she had on every single heave, to get that ball down the lane….she did okay! She deserved her cake….

We asked to take a photo at the Bowling Alley of the kids…of course, they acted as goofily as they possibly could for the camera… 

The Birthday Boy and his friends and sister…and one big ol’ cake!

Blow out those candles so we can get the cake eaten! You can see David aching to give it a blow…..

 

Posted by Jerry in 16:30:44 | Permalink | Comments (1) »

Friday, January 26, 2007

Birthday Boy and Cowboy Bear

Demetrius’ birthday party is Saturday night – we’ll do the family thing on his actual birth date next Thursday.  It’s going to be low-key: I think we are pretty much moving out of the big blow out parties for him. Just a couple of friends doing a sleepover and some fun stuff.

Maya keeps trying to work on inviting Emily for this, nice try Puddin’.

If Demetrius was older, this would a ‘bittersweet’ moment for him. It will be for me at least. He’s losing one of his best friends, David Button (one of the boys coming over).  As I’ve posted before, his family is moving to Singapore, and he’ll be gone in a couple of weeks.  Daddy’s a British Empire guy, and his goal has been to get the brood back to either New Zealand or Australia….this is an obvious stop along the way.  Good for them, hard as heck to get a company to pick up the costs of a move around the world, I’m sure.

As David Gayes posted yesterday, it’s hard for these kids to make new friends, especially an autistic with limited social skills.  However, it feels to me like David has been with us as a friend forever (Joseph too… the other boy spending the night) or, at least our forever here in Alpharetta.  Both these boys have grown up with Demetrius, they understand his ticks.  Demetrius is completely at ease with them, and that is just as it should be.  For me, there is very little nervousness with them in the house (outside of typical keeping your eye on seven-year-old boys!), which I don’t necessarily feel with other kids….I worry that the other kids don’t ‘get’ him.  Not with David or Joseph.

I’m not sure Demetrius understands ‘Cowboy Bear’ (a nickname he has for David, from where it came I don’t know – but it is the only nickname he’s given anyone) is leaving, and he’ll be lucky to see him again, maybe once every five years…if at all ever again…but I wouldn’t expect that insight from a regular seven-year-old either. 

I guess in my mind’s eye I just saw the two of them growing up together.  I will also miss David’s ‘focus’.  What a precocious little boy who is intent on learning everything about something…then moving on to the next something to learn everything about it.  I’ll miss him meeting us at the front door of his house with a clip-on tie on (dressing up for dinner you know) and telling me something seriously about, say, cumulus clouds…that frankly, I didn’t know.  And that I didn’t know that I didn’t know a thing about cumulus clouds.

The kid’s also a charmer.  He knows how to get what he wants, could be the prime minister of Australia some day.

We’ll make the most of Saturday night…but I tell you what, we’ll miss David Button.

Good luck in Singapore, Cowboy Bear.

Posted by Jerry in 16:17:34 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Interview with David Gayes

Everyone, Meet David Gayes….

I feel that I am very lucky this week to post two interviews. Earlier this week you read Michael Boll’s interview about his autism Podcasts, and today I would like to introduce all of you to David Gayes.  

David and I had our Web sites highlighted on the AOL Ability Channel on the same day in Novermber of last year, and I was immediately impacted by his blog’s enthusiasm and his effort to convey his message about his life to the world.  You can see this in his smile and eyes from the photo above.

It also seemed ironic to me that our Web sites are very much akin…his just happens to be first person from the experience, while I’m first person dealing with the experience (that’s one way to put it on a Thursday morning)…and both are positive in showing that, “hey, life is life..it is what we are trying to do with it that counts!”

So I reached out to David to be interviewed. He’s not autisitc.  However, I think you’ll find what he says below to be of value to the readers of this blog that are, or care for, special needs kids. I don’t think it is too much to say that we’d love for all of our kids to grow up to be alot like you David in outlook on life…and I think we could all learn a bit from you.

Except that Chicago Bears thing. 

Enough from me – Folks, here he is straight from greater Chicagoland….David Gayes.

I am taking a year to interview people with disabilities about their perspectives living with a disability. I want my interviewees to share personal stories and anecdotes from their daily lives.  In my blog, I reflect on the issues brought up in these interviews.  Occasionally, I post other disability stories that I find interesting, important, or insightful and, here and there, a story from my own life.  As I say in my blog profile, I believe society often underestimates the complexity of living with a disability – the joys, the challenges, the ordinary, and the extraordinary.  There is a tendency to define people with disabilities as either pitiful or inspirational.   Neither is true.

I am 21 years old and live in Chicago, Illinois.  I am a triplet.  I like sports – particularly following my Chicago sports teams.  (Da Bears are going to win the Super Bowl!) I’ve been singing in choirs for many years, and I currently sing in my church choir. I also like to travel.  I took a wonderful vacation to Yellowstone this summer.  Yellowstone is a beautiful park and is wonderfully wheelchair accessible.

As triplets, my sisters and I were born prematurely.  At some point before or after birth, I had damage to my brain.  The brain injury of cerebral palsy is caused by a lack of oxygen and causes the brain to send undesirable messages to the muscles.  It does not get better or worse, but the effects on my body can change with daily use, therapy, surgery, growth, and aging.  In my body, every muscle seems affected in some way.  My condition is called spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy. 

One of the hardest parts of my cerebral palsy is the pain that the spasms cause – particularly in my back, neck, and hips.  Also, spasms in my diaphragm muscle cause problems, but because I am a singer, those problems are less than they could be.  I have had a lot of physical therapy which has helped my function and decreased the number of surgeries that I have needed.  Another hard part of my cerebral palsy is my limited stamina.  It is frustrating to tire so quickly when I have things I want to do.

I use a lot of equipment to help me with my daily activities.  To use the computer, I use a combination of one finger typing, Soothsayer Word Prediction software, and Dragon NaturallySpeaking.  Also, I rely on a Kensington trackball. I use Dine with Dignity silverware to eat, but that can be a hassle; I prefer to just use my hands.  I get around with my Permobil wheelchair, a wheelchair which has the advantage of allowing position changes.  Because my eye muscles tire easily, I listen to books on tape.

When I was very young, my cerebral palsy was just not relevant in my life.  To me and my sisters, getting around with wheels or by legs was like having brown hair or red hair.  Yes, the differences existed, but there were much more important things to think about like playing make-believe, singing songs, or reading books. 

It wasn’t until I went to school that I realized I was “different”.  And in an ableist society, such a “difference” is negative.  I was forced to face some of life’s difficult lessons at an early age and head-on.  It seems to me that society often wants to put down those who have a disability.  In addition to my family, my church plays a role in helping me address who I am.  And the principle I am seeing is that each of us has human dignity, disability or not.  Diversity is not negative.  In fact, it’s positive.

Another lesson my disability teaches me is to “think outside the box”.  When I make a decision, whether it’s how many classes take or what activities to pursue, I think about what works best for me, rather than what everyone else is doing.  Throughout grade school, I was schooled in many different ways depending upon the circumstances each year.  For high school, my parents and I looked at the priorities regarding my body’s needs, my school needs, and my social needs.  We decided that I would go to school for half a day.  It took me six years to finish high school.  It was difficult emotionally to not graduate with my peers, many of whom I had known for 12 years.  However, I believe my parents and I made the right decision. Staying two extra years in high school allowed me to give my body the rest and exercise that it needed, to take an honors philosophy class and an AP Spanish class, and to have a little time for friends and fun.

I am spending one year on this project.  Next fall, I plan to go to college.  I enjoy history and Spanish, but I have no idea what my major will be.  I’m not sure what to do with the project at the end of this year.

You didn’t ask, but I thought I’d share my thoughts on parenting a child with a disability.  (I’m obviously not a parent, so take what you want from these.)

1.  Most importantly, love your child.  Even as a little child, there are constant threats to self-esteem from many sources. 

2.  Respect your child’s dignity.  Your child will learn self-respect from you.  Help your child’s see that he or she is not the disability. 

3.  Think of experts as tools in the toolbox.  Use their skills and talents as you see the need for them, but don’t feel like you have to do everything they say.

4.  Trust yourself and your child.  Be willing to think “outside the box” to meet your child’s needs.

5.  Respect your child’s disability and the gifts that come from it.  Your child will learn things that you can’t imagine because you don’t have that disability.  You don’t have to understand all of these gifts, but be respectful of them and learn from your child.

6.  Network with other parents facing similar challenges that you face.  Share ideas and experiences. 

7.  If appropriate, foster friendships for your child. When I was little, playing at my house often seemed to be the only way to be really included in peer activities.  I remember eagerly looking forward to my birthday parties. Whether it was playing freeze tag in a swimming pool, going to a Chicago Wolves ice hockey game, or playing basketball with a hoop that was lowered to my level, I had good times with my friends, playing games suited to my abilities and going to events that were wheelchair accessible.

8.  Everybody makes mistakes.   Learn from them and move on.

9.  And finally, I just thought I’d throw this one in – give your child ice cream whenever he or she wants.

David: we have ice cream every night after dinner. Demetrius is especially keen to white (vanilla) and pink (strawberry). Thank you so much for taking time to give us some of your extremely insghtful thoughts. 

Posted by Jerry in 16:38:51 | Permalink | Comments (4)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Silly Pictures And A Good Laugh

Maya had a special day at school that celebrated one of their ‘silly’ projects – that being they make huge cardboard ‘underpants’ to put over their clothes, then they parade down the hallways to the clapping and laughing of other kids and parents.

Kim, of course, took the digital camera and went (again – jealous of this!) and took this great picture of the pink bombshell:



There she goes with her silly underpants …..

However, it was the other pictures on the digital camera that caused the Mrs. & me to crack up laughing last night (and we won’t be posting).

Yes, I think all of you parents with precocious children know where I am going with this posting….or, if you don’t have kids, you probably ‘posed and clicked’ yourself when a kid.

So Kim took a couple of shots and the digital camera told her that card was full. She gave the ‘no way’ and started flipping through the photos. Classically, Demetrius took about 17 pictures of his face. He may be autistic, but damn, he sure likes the way he looks. There were also a number of pictures of Buddy sleeping on the couch. A few close ups of Buddy’s tail and nose…not too mention the random off center photo of the rubber plant and the front door.

Then of course, are the stylish pictures of, er, Demetrius’ and Maya’s body parts.

And of course, the pictures weren’t taken upstairs where Mommy or Daddy might wander in and take the camera from the kiddos… rather, the two of them wandered downstairs in the basement for the better lighting I guess, and to stay out of view.

Back to yesterday, so Kim is AT THE CHURCH’S PRE SCHOOL flipping through and whammo! sees these photos on the camera screen. At first she’s kind of ‘God is watching me in his house’ mortified, but then she says she just basically dropped to a knee laughing. Especially since these photos, well, were just so unexpected.

Sometimes, parenting is tiring, we all know that… and it seems that with a special needs kid there is always more worry in the back of the mind about tests, or progress, or social skills….and every once in awhile, in fact too many once in awhiles, Kim and I have a moment where we can stand next to each other and just, well, crack up laughing at our kids. Seeing her laughing so hard was as special as laughing myself at what our crazy kids did. We could use a bit more of that in our lives I have to say. I usually see tears in her eyes from, oh, watching the boy at gymnastics hold his ears and try to rock in the fetal position because it is too much for him… not from taking naked photos of himself and sister playing in the basement. I’ll take more of the pee-my-pants latter example, please!

As we were looking at these, Demetrius came wandering in (I’m sure wondering what was going on with all the hooting and hollering)…and we asked him who’s idea it was to take these pictures. With that innocent honesty he just answered, “Maya.”
Which of course, brought on another big smile as he casually blames his sister who is not in the room……

Posted by Jerry in 13:50:21 | Permalink | Comments (1) »

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Learnings From The First Week of Trampoline Ownership

I’ve learned some things about the trampoline after having it for a week in the backyard.

1. I’m sure there is some sort of physics law that I’ve forgotten, but it doesn’t matter. Long and short of it – it doesn’t matter who the bigger kid is…whichever one is traveling fastest through the air, wins the head butt contest. This happens any time at least two kids are jumping at once (the warnings say no more than one at a time jumping, but where’s the fun in that)?
2. If you own the trampoline, you become the defacto babysitter for any kid jumping on it in your backyard. These kids should go into some sort of sales position because they are not bashful. I have let numerous kids ‘go potty’ that I have never met before; I have had to dig out the egg timer so the kids can referee ‘jump time’ (no way the big kids can jump at the same time as the wee-ones); and they all seem to want to have something to ‘drink’ out of our refrigerator. If you give a bottle of water to one kid….
3. The little ones wear out, and get bored, easily. They want to come in and play in Demetrius or Maya’s room. It is irrelevant whether Maya and Demetrius want to play with them in their room, or are actually with them when they ask.
4. This is great for Demetrius..even when he’s not jumping and just sitting off to the side, he’s bouncing, and getting the tactile stimulation he is craving. Through the first week, he’s only clotheslined his sister and taken her down between 25-50 times that I’ve seen, that’s half of the 100 times he does so each day to get her to roll on top of him.

Posted by Jerry in 14:51:27 | Permalink | Comments (1) »

Monday, January 22, 2007

Interview with Michael Boll, Host of Autism Podcast

I listen to this podcast everytime it is posted in my iTunes, and as I posted the site last week, this is the interview with the host, Michael Boll. Enjoy, and go listen!

My name is Michael Boll and I host a podcast (Internet Radio Show) about autism. I have a seven-year old son on the spectrum and this podcast is my way of learning more about autism and sharing it with others. You can listen to the show and learn how to subscribe (don’t worry it is free) by heading to www.autismpodcast.org

If you are new to podcasting, it may comfort you to know that it is pretty much the same thing as a radio show, yet distributed differently. Instead of playing on a local radio station, a podcast is pushed out via a website and/or an MP3 player such as an Apple iPod. Listeners may choose to subscribe to the podcast and have each new show automatically downloaded or simply click on the link to listen to a show on the website.

· Most of us that publicly discuss our ‘autism situations’ do so through blogs or other ‘written’ media/communication tools? What made you think of podcasting, and all the technical aspects of it?

I have always been a bit of computer geek and I had been interested in putting together a podcast for a while. For some strange reason I could not figure out what to podcast about. Then it hit me (Duh!), why not do a podcast about autism! It has really worked out for the best too. I have been able to interview all kinds of parents, therapists, doctors, etc. It has allowed me, and the audience, to explore the huge variety of therapies out there and the feelings of parents with kids on the spectrum.

· I believe I read that you were a former teacher, so you aren’t a technical studio guy by training, right? Do you have help putting these together? How often do these podcasts take place?

I am ABSOLUTELY, not a professional studio person. Really, this whole podcasting thing is super easy and rather cheap. People have told me that the show has good production value, but I only use a $70 microphone, Skype, and some free open-source software.

The podcasts generally take place on a weekly basis. I try to keep a couple of weeks ahead so I can have some flex time and take a week off now and then.

· What’s your response/feedback been? Is listenership good? Growing? Do you find certain subjects, like say, nutrition, draw a bigger audience than, like say, dealing with your HMO?

The feedback about the podcast itself has been really positive. Once in a while the guest might offend somebody though. This is particularly true if someone talks about a cure for autism. The adults with autism, and some others, can be really offended by that term.

Generally, though, I try to present a balanced set of programs and allow the guest to fully communicate their views. I want the listener to make up his or her own mind.

Listenership has been on a nice steady increase. This seems to be a result of some of the more popular guests linking to the site and sending traffic our way.

· If your son is verbal, and able to participate, have you ever thought of including him on the show?

My son is verbal, but not to the degree that we could have a conversation. That would be a blast to have him on the show; perhaps someday! I have had some adults with autism on the show and that has been a lot of fun.

· What do you want this to be when it grows up? Get some sponsorship dollars? Possibly move over to mainstream media?

I like the way the show has evolved: slowly and easily. My listenership has gone from 30 downloads a show in the early days to upwards of 2,000 downloads for the most popular shows. The idea of making money on the show would be nice, but I like where it is now.

I do it for free, am able to book most anybody I ask, and don’t have the pressure pleasing a set of sponsors. I would like the show to become more popular, but will likely never go after sponsors. As I see it, I am getting a million dollars worth of free advice every week!

· What are you learning? The more I talk to people, the more I realize there are those out there that will forget more about specific parts of autism than I will ever remember. Do you get a lot of ‘Ah-Has’ hosting this show?

I get an “ah-ha” about every show. Or, more often now, I get an “Oh shoot, I need to do that again” moment. Seriously though, there is a ton to learn out there and I am always ready to try something new after each show. I wish there was less to learn and that just one therapy would fit all, but autism seems to be very individualized when it comes to which therapy(s) works best.

· With our son, we’ve overall had a pretty average (ups and downs) experience in his first two years in the county’s school system. Being a former teacher, and probably going through this, what’s your experience with the school district where you live?

Actually I live in Colorado. My school district, Cherry Creek Schools, has been a mostly positive experience. We have had our moments with a teacher, but are satisfied overall. I think it helps that my wife and I are both teachers and can relate to our son’s instructors.

We have worked very collaboratively via our half-day home program and half-day school program. I feel comfortable telling my son’s teachers that I had a less than successful day with him and then seeking their advice. I hope they feel the same way. As teachers, we know that things do not go well all the time and we want our son’s teachers to feel that they can tell us when something did not go well and we won’t freak out.

· Do you, professionally and personally, feel that school districts are doing a good job integrating spectrum kids into the classrooms? If not, what do you think they could be doing better?

At my son’s school they seem to do a very nice job integrating him into the classroom.

The same goes for the other kids on the spectrum too. Having an autistic kiddo in a classroom seems almost more normal than NOT having one. I can’t speak authoritatively for other school districts, but I do hear lots of horror stories from the parents I talk with. Money is the main issue and the better-funded districts simply do a better job of complying with the law.

Thanks again, Michael. And folks, once again, the URL is www.autismpodcast.org.

Posted by Jerry in 15:26:07 | Permalink | Comments Off

Friday, January 19, 2007

200,000 Miles To Get To Omaha


Really, how hard is it to get me to this airport? Well, pretty hard apparently…

Well, the title of this posting is either the name of some mid-life self-discovery book that will be turned into a Lifetime Movie or the name of a popular record album by a band in the seventies – like the Allman Brothers or America. 

No, it is how many frequent flyer miles I had to cash in to fly the fam to Omaha, NE for a family wedding.  Man – was this ever hard to do to. The wedding isn’t until late June, and I was told that there were no flights available anytime near when we needed to be in the Great Plains for the wedding nothing to/from Omaha, Des Moines, Minneapolis or Kansas City.  I just found that hard to believe.  The customer service reps for the airline told me that all the seats were booked, for two weeks straight.  But I could buy a ticket at $800 a piece.

I didn’t believe it, so I used a connection I know at the airline’s HQ and told them the story…neither did they.  I went to a company Web site, plopped in all the relevant data – and whammo!  Lookie, lookie – all the flights were available, I just had to choose dates and times and airport.  Literally – any seats I wanted were available to book with my frequent flier miles.

I was/am highly disappointed.  I fly this airline cross-country all the time.  But this just got under my skin. I’m a freaking platinum member of their program – and they just flat out lied to me on the phone -  I don’t know why.  Is it because I wanted 4 seats together for the fam?  Probably.  Who knows?  But they sure didn’t try to take care of me…just my luck in having a contact on the ‘inside’ did take care of me.

So, I’m not dropping out of the program or anything, but I’m thinking of starting to fly another airline now. The great thing out of Atlanta is that there are a couple that use this metro area as a hub.   So I am lucky I have choices. One bad customer experience like this can sour a guy – they should learn this lesson to keep the people getting them paid happy.

I can’t believe it takes that many miles to go to Omaha, but these programs aren’t necessarily customer friendly any more, because, frankly, these companies are going out of business – so why would they want to give away seats?  I just don’t appreciate the rude service people that tell me one thing, only to find out it is completely not the case.

BTW – haven’t any of them traveled with kids before? It is hard enough taking pillows, DVD players, toys and snacks on board these days, without hassles trying to cash in miles.

To go to Omaha.

Maybe I can turn this into a song? ☺

Posted by Jerry in 19:54:16 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

‘Ish’ and How Bad We Don’t Have It!

Big shout out here to Lora.  We bought the book ‘ish’ as she recommended for Maya, and read it as a family last night. Did she get the meaning of the book?  I don’t think so on the first reading – because she was so excited that it was about ‘art’.  Great thing about kids is that we’ll ready it at least 45 times over the next three weeks, we can delve into how her brother does ‘ish’ art when they color/draw together. 

I know I’ve been rambling about our TV situation at the house lately, but after hearing about a kid who’s gluten-free, and some of the battles he’s having with his parents, I have to reconsider the situation here at Casa Grasso.  This kid, when they go to a friend’s house or a party, immediately bee-lines it to the kitchen or food trays and tries to ingest as much ‘off-limits’ food as possible before his parents, or other parents, notice. He’s destroyed birthday cakes, cupcakes, food trays, and gotten into more than his fair share of pantries. I can only imagine going to a, say, Holiday Party and watching your kid destroy/eat-as-much-as-I-can-put-in-my-mouth-quickly a table of snacks and then throw a fit over not being able to eat anymore cookies, cake or bread….

Then have the leaky gut syndrome kick in for a week to two weeks.

I’d rather try a number of ‘earn tickets to watch TV’ scenarios (such as what Aimee posted a few days ago) than deal with this every time we’d go out as a family.  Jeez.  Also, can you imagine the pressure the parents feel everytime they go into a  grocery store, restaurant, etc…

Another classic example of, “Look around before you judge yourself or others too harshly.”  Yep, probably good advice my mom gave me at some point that I’ve chosen to ignore in this case.  ☺

Posted by Jerry in 15:33:03 | Permalink | Comments (3)