I Caved

Posted by on May 16, 2010 | 5 comments

I caved.  As proud as I was of my amazing ability to style my own child’s hair, I had to turn him over to the professionals today.  Remember how I said it would sometimes take me a full week to get Jack’s hair the way I wanted it?  Well, the week turned into several, and I finally had to admit that all of the tweaking and pruning was turning him more into an art project than a finely-groomed young man.

Jack has become an art experiment

I took advantage of our ABA Sunday outing so I’d have Christine as reinforcements.  After our weekly (ok, semi-weekly) trip through the local Target, we walked through the courtyard and got the boys some smoothies.  As they sipped their mango drinks and flitted around a water feature, we dropped it on Jack.

“Hey Jack, let’s get your hair cut today!”

“No, thank you.”

“Yeah!  It’ll be so much fun!”  How could it not be more fun than having Mama poking and cutting bits here and there every single day indefinitely?  The thought of getting it over with all at once had to be appealing.

“No, thank you.”

“Yeah, we’re going to get your hair cut.  Yay!”  He was less amused, but he didn’t throw a fit.   With Christine there he seemed resigned to his fate.

We should stop a moment and explain Jack’s relationship with Christine.  Christine is an ABA – that is, she provides in-home behavior therapy.  We work on sharing with siblings, toileting, not throwing tantrums, and just generally being a good guy.  We also go on an outing once a week to help Jack acclimate to loud noises, crowds, and the scary beast known as “any potty that’s not the one at home.” 

Jack listens to Christine.  He does what she says.  Christine has replaced me as “the hammer” at home.  Now, instead of threatening a time-out or removal of a beloved toy, I pick up the phone and offer to call Christine.  That usually has him falling in line right quick.  So having Christine with us at the local Super Cuts was a stroke of genius on my part (and I’ll take those wherever I can get them, thanks). 

Thankfully, the Super Cuts wasn’t busy, and a lovely soul named Vanessa gave me a slight nod of understanding when I explained about Jack’s sensory issues.  I can’t explain how wonderful it is to anticipate a situation and have someone ready to handle it without question.  She had obviously dealt with sensory-sensitive children before, and stepped right up without qualms. 

Vanessa had him up in the chair and was cutting away in no time flat.  Jack was so relaxed with her he even let her use the blow dryer to get the hairs off his shirt and neck.  He ended up with the cut I had intended to give him, but am functionally unable to do so.

Jack at Super Cuts

(I would also like to point out that he still has a lot of hair, unlike every time I’ve sent him with his Daddy for a cut.  For some reason daddies are unable to walk a stylist through a cut, and can only come home exclaiming, “but she said they HAD to cut it that short!  It’ll be fine when we wash it!”  Um, no, it will not.  Washing one-inch long hair only makes it clean, not coiffed.)

Jack and Christine after the haircut

We were in and out in under 20 minutes, with all children happy as clams.  That is, except for Lennon, who insisted he, too, was in need of a haircut.  He is not. Yet.

Happy at the Super Cuts

Will I take scissors to Jack’s hair again in the future?  Yes.  I cannot lie.  I will most likely trim it here and there until he is once again beyond my meager talents, when I will trot him into the Canadian equivalent of Super Cuts.  And hope we have someone as wonderful as Vanessa.

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The Right Color

Posted by on May 11, 2010 | 2 comments

I adore logic.  It makes sense, it’s nice and simple, and it’s my favorite part of most standardized testing.  Jack likes logic, too.  Of course, so do most young kids trying to make sense of the ridiculous language most of us speak here. 

English is tricky, even for native speakers, and quite often it doesn’t stand up to logic.  Just ask any poor soul in an ESL class the grammatical difference between tough and trough and through.  Seriously, ask them; they might actually know.  I’d explain it, but it’s giving me a headache.

The early years of navigating the treacherous grammar waters can create some of the best stories from childhood.  Every parent has a story wherein their child has said some hilariously inappropriate thing in the quest for perfect grammar (and please, share them below!!).

When you add autism into the mix, the logic and the learning collide with fascinating results.  I really need to start making a list of all of the wild things Jack comes up with.  Like today, where he told me that he is “THE man,” and I am the “WHOA-man.”  I’ll take that.  It’s very “So I Married An Axe Murderer.”

Sometimes it’s a simple observation that will fly by if I’m not paying attention.  On our walk this weekend, I was lucky to catch one that made me stop in my tracks.

We were admiring flowers as we walked down the street, noting the beautiful, bright yellow roses.  Above the roses were Birds of Paradise that for some reason were really drab instead of bright orange and red.

“Those Birds of Paradise aren’t the right color,” I noted.  I’d never seen them like that before.

Without missing a beat, Jack smiled.  “The roses are the left color.” 

Why yes, yes they are.  I love that kid’s mind.

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Square Syndrome

Posted by on Apr 25, 2010 | 1 comment

Check out this awesome article over at Square Syndrome, inspired by my post on AMC Theatres’ sensory friendly movie screenings

Thanks, Lisa!!

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I Wonder

Posted by on Apr 24, 2010 | 2 comments

I wonder how many other families who attended the autism walk today brought home photos like this one:

aut walk 2010


Jack had fun, but of course, he was on sensory overload.

Am I the only one who thinks it’s just this side of hilarious that they planned a whole bunch of really loud entertainment at a walk attended by a crowd of autistic individuals? 

We had fun today, but didn’t stay long.  It was a lot to take in, and to be honest, I was on overload myself. 

Big props to Jack for enjoying the “big party with the bouncy houses and the airplane,” though.  That kid is amazing.

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The Lesser Evil

Posted by on Apr 21, 2010 | 1 comment

I find myself often wondering which is worse, dealing with the autistic 4-year-old child (Jack), or the neurotypical 3-year-old (Lennon).  They both have their challenges, they both have their quirks.  But which is the lesser of the two evils?  And by “evil,” I mean “my darling children whithout whom I would have no purpose.”

I decided to chart it out.  In each circumstance, which is the better outcome?

1) While out and about, Jack will occasionally take off running without regard to his whereabouts.   Lennon, if given the chance, will almost always run away, knowing exactly what he’s doing.  He also turns back frequently to make sure you’re just about to reach him before he darts off again. He will also hide and laugh hysterically.  DECISION – Jack.

2) If he gets hurt in some way, Jack will usually laugh it off (unless it’s a bad owie, then he’ll cry and come for comfort).  Lennon gets hurt 12 to 17 times a day, usually because he’s launched himself off of something or run smack into the wall (which just happened about 10 minutes ago).  The bigger the owie, the less he seems fazed by it.  However, if he gets smacked across the face by the baby, harassed by Jack (which, to be fair, usually involves some sort of physical pain), or insulted in some way that hurts his feelings, he needs lots of hugs and snuggles.  And then he’ll remind you of it constantly for the next week or three.  DECISION – Jack

3) When Jack decides to have a tantrum, which is pretty rare nowadays, it’s on an epic proportion.  There is a lot of screaming, defiance and sometimes hitting.  Time-outs work, but he needs to be monitored to make sure he doesn’t decide to leave the time-out area.  If he’s overly tired, the only thing to stop his tirade is to ignore it or put him to bed.  When Lennon has a fit, which is pretty much every day, it’s also an epic production.  As much as Lennon dreads a time-out, he’ll go and stay there until his time is up.  He gets wildly upset, but calms down to his genial self pretty quickly.  DECISION – Lennon

4) Jack can focus on one task for hours at a time, especially if it’s of his choosing.  Lennon has the attention span of a gnat, unless he’s watching “Cars.”  DECISION – draw

5) Jack has become quite a picky eater.  He doesn’t have any sort of texture aversions anymore, but he also just doesn’t eat a whole lot, unless it’s chocolate or an apple.  And if it can be cut with a knife, he’ll spend most of his meal dicing his food into tiny pieces before finally consuming it.  Lennon is not so picky.  Lennon, in fact, will eat mass quanities of whatever you put in front of him, as long as it is not grilled cheese.  Or apples with the skin on.  DECISION – Jack (he eats less, therefore saving me money at the grocery store)

This list could go on for days.  In fact, I may revisit it as the need for comparing and contrasting my children against each other arises.  It could get dicey as Kieran gets old enough to get into the equation.

In the meantime, I’m going to go out on a limb and say my child with autism is easier to handle on a daily basis than my neurotypical 3-year-old.  I know what to expect with Jack, and his playbook is pretty simple.  Lennon is a wild card.   Sometimes I just don’t have the energy for that. 

Good thing they’re both cute.

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