A Dad's Journey

Father of Autistic Twins Speaks Out

this article pretty much sums up the fact that stereotypes pervail.

autistic-runner

Autistic black teen got lost running a 5K — and was assaulted by a man who feared getting mugged

Here’s a feel good story for the weekend

service-doghttp://www.foxnews.com/health/2016/10/21/moment-autistic-boy-bonds-with-service-dog-touches-thousands.html

The Accountant

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It will be interesting to see the public’s reaction to Ben Affleck’s portrayal of an autistic man in The Accountanthttps://www.bustle.com/articles/188011-the-accountant-isnt-a-true-story-but-ben-afflecks-thriller-shines-a-light-on-autism

affleck

So Far, So Good

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Both Sean and Michael have gotten off to a good start to high school.  Of course, it’s only been a couple of weeks, but Susan and I really like their teacher, Ms. Amanda.

One thing we’re particularly impressed with is her plan to develop long term measurable goals/metrics for tracking their progress.  Already, Sean is working to be reintroduced to the incredibly chaotic lunch room.  As Ms. Amanda put it, we can’t shield him from life if we expect him to find vocational work when he reaches adulthood.

And Michael is being asked to speak up more and put his hands down from over his ears.  In other words, to let the world in a bit more.

Having a good teacher is inspiring for the parent.  I found myself thinking about ways I could work with the boys over the weekend to help reinforce what Ms. Amanda is working on in school.

It does work both ways.  The boys touch so many folks lives.  it’s not the worst thing to have your “typically developing” life challenged and viewed askew.  It’s actually kind of refreshing.

 

Michael and Sean entered high school yesterday.  Both boys seemed pretty good with the idea of returning to school.  Sean, in particular, seemed rather enthusiastic about having additional structure in his life.  In fact, both boys had “an amazing morning” on their first day.  Not too surprising, as both boys try very hard to please.

But…

Then came lunch time and Sean had to walk past a couple hundred loud happy kids enjoying their first luncheon of the school year.  And that’s when Sean had a meltdown.  I can only imagine how his brain must have short circuited and how his anxiety level increased with every step he took.  From there, it was full out restrain time, including the assistance of his personal aide and one of the high school football coaches.  For a kid who only weighs 128 pounds soaking wet, Sean is amazingly strong.  I guess that’s what adrenaline will do for you.

Anyway, the call came from the nurse around 1:10pm alerting us that there had been “an incident” as Sean was walking past the lunch room.  To the school’s credit, they didn’t try to merely sweep this under the carpet.  Instead, they plan a successive approximation strategy where Sean will slowly but surely be reintroduced to the same lunch time situation.  Susan and I are very much in agreement with this plan as Sean will need to work on his coping skills if he’s going to find a fulfilling vocational work experience when he reaches adulthood.

Being a typical dad, I spent yesterday afternoon searching the Internet trying to fix the problem by looking at anti-anxiety drugs for an autistic teenager.  Of course, there is no panacea.  Drugs like Xanax and Zoloft come complete with multiple side effects and long term addictive consequences.

So today, I wait for the phone to not ring.  It’s only 12:33pm.  The next hour is going to move very slowly.

Image result for teenage boy autism anxiety

I was visiting my boys high school this morning for Freshman Orientation.  One concern we have is how our son Sean will handle the cafeteria situation.  For kids with autism, it can be overwhelming.  Heck, I think the lunchroom was overwhelming for must of us growing up.

Here’s a feel good story about a Florida State wide receiver who decided he wasn’t going to have one little boy at a middle school eat all by himself:

fsuhttp://nypost.com/2016/08/31/florida-state-players-incredible-gesture-will-bring-you-to-tears/

For well over a decade, researchers have looked for a “smoking gun” to help explain the growing incidence figures for autism.  On that count, the jury is still out.  Many feel the spike is due to different labeling systems and the rate of autism has held steady.  Certainly, the whole vaccine theory has been discredited.

Here’s a more plausible theory, the incidence rise might track back to chemicals that were banned back in the 70’s.  Hold on, you might ask, if the chemicals have been banned for 40 years, shouldn’t the incidence rates go down?  Unfortunately, just because the chemicals were banned doesn’t mean they’re not still in the ecosystem.

The Drexel team found that children born after being exposed to the highest levels of organochlorine chemicals during their mother’s pregnancy were roughly 80% more likely to be diagnosed with autism when compared to individuals with the very lowest levels of these chemicals. 

http://www.genengnews.com/gen-news-highlights/autism-risk-linked-to-banned-chemicals-not-vaccines/81253124/

I just read an article by Joel Stein that I largely agreed with, but I was taken aback by his description of Internet Trollers.  “Now the web is a sociopath with Asperger’s.”  Since Asperger’s is no longer a term to describe high functioning autism, it should read, “Now the web is a sociopath on the autistic spectrum.”

The phrase has been removed from the online version, but the print version includes the original description.

The article goes on to state that trollers are often normal people who simply get their “lulz” from disparaging folks on the net with relative anonymity.  But once you insert the noun “Aspergers” as the personification of all that is wrong with the Internet, you have perpetuated a negative, hateful myth.

Hey Joel, a little more journalistic integrity next time, a little less hyperbole and a little more thought about the impact of your definitions.  http://time.com/4457110/internet-trolls/

Troll Culture of Hate Time Magazine Cover

Son of a gun, all attempts at correcting the nighttime urination issue have failed miserably.

With the benefit of both hindsight and humility, I have come to the conclusion that I am trying to fix a problem by hacking at its symptoms.  Even if I got Michael motivated enough to actually leave his bedroom to use the bathroom properly, where will his next example of passive/aggressive resistance manifest?

It’s back to the drawing board, in this case, the augmentative communication drawing board.  Since I can’t seem to fix this via guile and technology, I will attempt reason.  Clearly, I am down to my last resort.

When my daughter Kate was only about 4, I can hear her watching TV and rooting very hard for a character to succeed.  This was punctuated with occasional chants of “This has got to work!”.  To my surprise, the character she was rooting so hard for was none other than Wile E. Coyote of Road Runner fame.  

Well I feel a bit like old Wile E, as I attempt to stop my son Michael from peeing on his bedroom floor.  My latest attempt is a security camera that uses Bluetooth to hook up to your cell phone.  It also has a two way microphone “Michael, don’t even think of peeing there!”.  Ouvis veezon VZ1 Wireless WiFi 720P HD Pan Tilt IP Camera (Day/Night Vision,2 Way Audio, SD Card Slot, Alarm, Mobile Android/iOS/iPhone/iPad/Tablet)

 

What could possibly go wrong?