Thursday, July 31, 2008

This News Kind Of Depressed Me

Funny that this story on NPR got me a bit down on my morning run today, while the Michael Savage stuff is news, but I mostly go ‘eh’ to (shock jock stuff doesn’t really boil my blood).

I’m not really an anti-American on anything, but I am anti-healthcare companies in this country. You guys all know the scorecard because, for the most part, you’re living it with you autie or aspie…or you’ll be personally living it later in life with diabetes or whatever ailment affects you.  I’m a big proponent of universal coverage, and I don’t buy the market will take care of itself argument that really was at the heart of the 90s battle on this subject – just look how well the market did with Enron and Worldcom and now the mortgage companies.

So a few years ago, along with just better living reasons, I resolved to get healthier, drop weight and live longer, because the longer I can toil the fields, the better life Demetrius has a chance of having…and ancillary to that is Maya…the longer I can afford to help Demetrius, the better her life will be for not having to care for her brother (in whatever, way, shape or form that may be).

But what if….fill in the blank. What’s his future? What’s his sister’s future based on his?  What if I have a stroke and can’t work? What’s this do for Demetrius and Maya’s future? And Kim’s?

Jeez!

When you hear pieces like this about what they do in smaller, and assumed, less robust economies/countries, and then what we have to do in even progressive states like Massachussets, it sends chills down my spine.  Do we have it backwards here, at least backwards right here, right now?  Really, it makes me think that maybe the Grassos would be better off in another country that good ol’ USA, based off of some of the things I’ve seen, learned, and lived in regards to my special needs child.  They speak American in Canada, don’t they?

Posted by Jerry in 15:41:57 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

School? Fire Drills? And Where Do The Toys Go During A Fire At Target?

As all of you know – change is hard for an autistic kid. Just when you finally fall into the summer-time routine…Mom and Dad throw ‘getting ready for school to start’ back at you.

Each week we go through the, “I’m not going to go to that stoopid camp!,” routine only for him to enjoy it thoroughly once he’s in the moment. But school is a whole different pickle, as there are many more concerns about things like his teacher, his aide, his classroom, what time is lunch, is he still going to see Ms. Amahad (his special needs teacher)…what time is music….fire drills.

Yes, fire drills. He hates them. Loud noises and they are a surprise. A fire drill is everything that a regular kid loves, because it can be a bit crazy and takes away from having to listen to a teacher drone on about some boring subject….but for an autistic kid they are everything that he/she hates…unplanned, quick and somewhat disorderly movements, adding the element of the unplanned for into the daily routine.

Well, Kim went to see Mama Mia last night with a friend, and I got the kids ready for bed a bit earlier than normal. I explained that school was just a couple of weeks away, Maya was cool with it (she had a million questions of her own) but Demetrius pushed back, stomped around his room and chanted incessantly that he wasn’t going to go this year. He calmed down once I got him into the warm shower, and he started to do TV talk, but as he heard me shuffling around outside the bathroom, he had this to say:

“Daddy, I will only go back to Abbotts Hill and will try 2nd grade if they don’t do any fire drills.”

We talked about why there are fire drills. I resigned myself that I’m going to have to have alot of these conversations getting ready for school, but had an idea for making the fire drills okay for him…..

“Demetrius, did you know that they do fire drills at Target? This way everyone at Target knows where to go if there is a fire!”

Demetrius looked at me, all sudsy and half washed (boys can’t seem to get the whole body washed, just different parts on different days), blinking as the water splashed over his face (he had opened the door to the shower for this discussion)…..

“Daddy, what happens to the toys at Target if there is a fire?”

If you go a different direction…you’ll get different questions, won’t you?

You want to know what I answered, dont’cha?

“Demetrius, if there is a fire at Target, we need to be more worried about the people than the toys. They can always get more toys after the fire.”

“More toys?”

“More toys to put back on the shelves!”

“So there will be even more toys!” (See where this went! Different direction! Double the toys! OMG HOLY COW!)

“No – toys to go where the toys that were burned in the fire were at….”

“Oh”

“Daddy, what happens to the computer games?”

Sigh

Posted by Jerry in 18:00:35 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Just Some Great Summertime Photos

Kim is busy trying to cram as much in for the kids as possible before they go back to school in two weeks.  So last week:


Demetrius was involved with a hiking camp called ‘Learning on the Log’ which he absolutely loved.  He got to go kayaking on Thursday last week, here he is with Maya.  He’s all smiles, and I think she’s decided that she is definitely missing out not getting to go to this particular camp…..


On Friday Ms. Heike and Kim took the kids to the Botanical Gardens: (L2R) Emilly Sellers, Maya, Mr. Frog, Anna Sellers, Super D


Saturday it rained and we had a relaxing day with our friends the Carraghers.  Demetrius and Joseph watching some TV on the couch….


Ever since he could walk Demetrius has loved sitting in the laundry basket.  He can barely do it, and he has to contort his body to get into one, but he does. Here he is rocking and watching Peter Pan on Saturday night in the laundry basket


Yesterday at Demetrius’ camp there was a face painter.  Maya is a red-white-and-blue butterfly, Demetrius is a puppy


Ta Da!  The new room! Maya began moving back in yesterday…..of course, no room is complete unless your American Girl Doll is first to lay on the new bedding (Marie is her name and she was moved back into the room first!)

Posted by Jerry in 14:50:10 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Right Medicine

I caught a really bad cold this weekend.  Came on Saturday night and right now, I’m pretty sure, that I can feel the whole of my sinus cavities.

This morning I told Demetrius and Maya no kisses goodbye, I didn’t want to give anyone my cold.  According to Demetrius, you know what is good for my cold?  Taking him to Target.  It would, “Make me feel better.”

I’m in a weakened state, why wouldn’t he try to take advantage of me to the best of his abilities?

Posted by Jerry in 19:25:35 | Permalink | Comments (1) »

Friday, July 25, 2008

Autism News

All of these stories, click here, here and here…seem to me that the Michael Savage incident is really becoming a ‘New York Thing’.  Anyone else reading that?

Frogs and autism? Hey, research dollars apply all sorts of things, right?

We don’t really hear alot in the mainstream media about Fragile X, but looks like some drugs have been developed that may be of help for those with this form of autism.

You like the discussion on gluten- and dairy-free diets? Here’s a piece for you then.

Back to Michael Savage…this is how you are going to get him, even if his producers support him.

Your autie a budding capitalist?  Don’t knock the idea. See this story about a Goodwill program in Orange County, CA.  Your little one has to have options down the road, right? We like to see options like this, I tell ya….

Interesting.  Hmmmm….I don’t know what more to say about this than that.

Posted by Jerry in 16:17:10 | Permalink | Comments Off

Thursday, July 24, 2008

From Pink To Yellow and ‘New’ Blue

Last week while Maya was at creative writing camp, it was all about Demetrius and Mommy bonding. This week, Demetrius has his hiking camp and it is all about Mommy and Maya. 

So far the two of them have:
•    Found new bedding and drapes
•    Painted Maya’s room yellow from purple
•    Painted furniture and moved it into her room
•    Painted little flowers on Maya’s wall behind her bed

I’ll upload some pictures when the transformation is completed.

It is absolutely adorable watching Maya race into her room (she’s ‘camping out’ in Demetrius’ room while this is going on) to see what ‘more’ Mommy has done since she went to bed the night before (much of what Kim can get done has to be when there aren’t little hands to ‘help’…especially when it comes to paint!).  She drags everyone in there to look and admire it….but I don’t think she’s the only one proud of her room; lets face it – Mom is seriously loving watching her daughter get all excited about her room.

Demetrius is getting a bit jealous, just because it is new, but we are reminding him he moved rooms just a few months ago – and got a second Fathead to go in his new room.  That was then, this is now….

——

Last night was funny – there was a lot of little balls of dried purple paint in the sink with Maya hairs in them.  She got paint in her hair purpling up her little doll’s rocking chair…and I noticed this morning that Buddy has purple paint in his tail.  Clearly Kim had help yesterday morning with the furniture painting.

I imagine we’ll find lots of little purple dots down in the basement….

—–

Yellow. For years we’ve been a pretty in pink toddler and little girl, but now we like yellow, and to a lesser extent, purple.  Pink is still one of our all time favorites, but we are changing now that we are going on seven years old.  While she’s pointing out her new bedding and walls, this is what Daddy is thinking.  Evolving, changing, liking new and different things.
Am I noticing it all? I wonder…..

—–

While Demetrius was fussing about being left out and mistreated, forgotten and basically feeling unloved with the unmasking of the new room, I asked him if he wanted to get his room painted, what color would he like it?  

Demetrius: Blue

Daddy: (Confused) Demetrius, your room is blue!

Demetrius: (Wait for it….) Blue.

It is at moments like this that I’m lost/exasperated/clueless/confused with the autism.  Clearly I was tired. He just wants new, but he doesn’t know what color. But ‘in the moment’ it was a big ol’, ‘huh’?

Had the feeling of the husband/wife conversation:

Wife: “I want to go out to eat tonight!”

Husband: “Okay, where do you want to go?”

Wife: “I don’t care, you choose.”

You’ve been there on one or the other side of that conversation…don’t lie to me…..

Posted by Jerry in 17:54:48 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Package

Last night we received two packages in the mail for Demetrius and Maya, and they were itching to get them opened (we told them after dinner). 

As we sat down to eat (and make our tacos – the kids love when they can make their own dinner like this), Demetrius jammed as much of it down his throat as quickly as possibly. He may have actually been done before any of us hand finished making our first ones.

Demetrius: Can I open my package (but he called it his ‘present’) now?

Mommy & Daddy: No Demetrius, you have to wait for the rest of us AND we know that the office is open upstairs, you need to stay down here and talk with us while we eat about your day.

I think what he heard was, “No, you can’t open your present AND you must take iron screws and shove them up under your fingernails while we eat our dinner as slowly as possible.”

But while Maya told us, in detail, about her day, Demetrius got the itch, and just had to go upstairs.

Mommy & Daddy: If you go in the office, you don’t get to open your present. Do you understand?

Demetrius: I’m just going to go to my room.

Of course, we can hear the TV in the office playing a DVD and Demetrius start stemming to it.

We finish our dinner, clean up and Maya gets one of the two packages.  We don’t know which box goes with which child, because they both say on the ‘To’ line: Demetrius and Maya Grasso.

Crapshoot I tell Kim with the boxes, but he’s made his bed and he’ll have to sleep in it.

He hears Maya….

Comes bounding down the stairs….

Demetrius: Lets open the presents!

Daddy (I’m playing bad cop): Demetrius, you did not do what we told you to do, you don’t get to open your package tonight.

Man, talk about a fit.

Demetrius: Mommy….

Mommy: Daddy is right (this is good as good cop was going to get last night)….

Can you hear the screaming?  The intense soundwaves should be bouncing off the moon and traveling back down to Earth at this time…

And as it would be, the box Maya opened had a new backpack with Demetrius’ name on it, for school when it starts mid-August.  Maya takes it over to Demetrius and runs to get the other box, which has her backpack in it.

Demetrius looks at it….

Demetrius (post-cry whiny talk): This is what my present is? A backpack for school?

Mommy and Daddy: Yes, it is, that is very nice, isn’t it?

Demetrius furrows his brow, his crying completely gone and out of his system.

Demetrius: Can I finish watching my movie then?

How can you not smile?

Nonni Cheryl, thank you so much for the nice backpacks.  Maya loved hers and Demetrius…well, he will learn to like it.

Making him write his thank you note will only be about 3/4ths as painful as telling him he couldn’t open his package…..

Posted by Jerry in 16:21:21 | Permalink | Comments (1) »

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Picking Up Steam

It seems as if the Michael Savage comments on autism are picking up steam…will this be another Don Imus situation? Who is to say, but now it is getting into the mainstream press and, as you’ll see in this piece, protesting is now taking place.

On a completely different note, I saw something a bit inspirational on the way into work this morning – so much so I had to blog about it first thing when I got in.  For those of you ‘Atlantans’ I drive into work on 141 from Alpharetta into Buckhead, right past Big Peach Running Company.  About two blocks from that store on 141, I saw a man running with a blind woman.  They were going very slowly (more of a fast walk than a jog), she had one of those devices that is out in front of her from her hand feeling (like a cane – but I have no idea what they are called), and she held a rope that this gentleman had tied to him.  They turned off the main drag quickly (because the thought was crossing my mind why were they jogging on a busy road at rush hour?) but I thought good for her…she likes to run and she’s doing it hell or high water!  And good for the dude helping her (I assume they found each other and meet at the running store?).

Gives ya hope, ya know?  Especially after hearing Michael Savage…..

Posted by Jerry in 14:01:03 | Permalink | Comments (1) »

Monday, July 21, 2008

Some Monday Photos

I haven’t done this in awhile, that being, posting photos from a busy week before, so here are a few:


Kaileen and David Button, Demetrius and Maya building some sort of Blair Witch appartus in our front yard.  Lots of weird noises and lights that night…..


I wrote about how tight Demetrius and David are still, even after two years of living around the world from each other. Here the two of them PSP together…..


Maya reading her story to everyone at her creative writing camp last week….


Buddy was a good sport when Maya dressed up as her ‘princess doggy’ for a day

Posted by Jerry in 19:59:13 | Permalink | Comments (1) »

Friday, July 18, 2008

My Response To The Callout From Marla About Jamie Lynn Spears


Sigh….. And Grrr……

Marla: I saw it too at the grocery store earlier in the week. Happy mother with newborn.

Clearly she sold her story to OK magazine and the publisher/editors, or whoever makes the final decision here, decided that the exclusive pictures and interviews are more important than the moral questions it raises by putting her on the cover (even baby Suri didn’t make her photo arrival this quickly!).

I blogged that I didn’t want to have to talk to Maya about teen pregnancy when it was being covered on CNN and then she watched Zoey 101 and somehow connected dots. But that’s reality (just like teenagers exploring sex – reality) but should have chosen someone from a whacko family as your star of your show – because you are just begging for a PR issue like this.

By putting her on the cover, are you telling the world that it is okay to be a mom at 17? And even though I haven’t read the pub/story, OK magazine doesn’t have a leg to stand on if they say, “It is news, and on page 37 we talk about how we don’t support or endorse teen pregnancy, and here is a Web site kids can go to…..” that’s not the point, the point is by putting Jamie Lynn Spears on the cover you are tacitly saying that teen pregancy is not a big deal and life wrecking (because we all aren’t rich Hollywood types), and having you buy the magazine for the exclusives is more important than anything else.

I get that this is a news event, so it should probably be covered by the celebrity/gossip pages (just like Brad/Angelina’s kids), but a smiling picture of her looking wholesome holding her baby in her arms gently……well, I think a line was crossed myself.

What are we telling impressionable, young teenage girls when we laude praise on movies like Juno and portray Jamie Lynn Spears so ‘All American’ as we do in this picture? Maybe I’m sensitive with Maya, but this year teen pregnancy has crossed over into movie genre like women showing their breasts did 20 years ago, and movies about drug use did 10-15 years ago (Drugstore Cowboy, Requiem For A Dream…those movies didn’t end well or happily in any sort of way).

That said, Anne Hathaway had to show her ta-tas to move out of the Ella Enchanted mindset she was known for, to some extent I think Mylie Cyrus is doing the same thing (Vanity Fair shoot) as these girls either make mistakes and become more than pre-teen stars (Jaime Lynn) or do so in a pre-meditated way (see above).

Hollywood is whacky, and those that cover it are just as weird.

Okay, off the soapbox.

Posted by Jerry in 22:39:19 | Permalink | Comments (2)