Turn the tables !

Sometimes DS gets confused with English usage and the appropriate use of the word "to" along with the act of speaking...

A few days ago, I overheard DS speaking to DW. He was telling DW, "Amma, I'm suggesting you that you do...". He obviously replaced "telling" with "suggesting"... Having overheard, I then called out to him and told him, that he cannot use "suggesting you", but the appropriate usage is "suggesting to you. There should be a 'to' here except in the usage of 'telling'. Other than 'telling', its always 'saying to you', 'speaking to you', 'suggesting to you'"...etc etc.

DS comeback was, "Appa, what are you suggesting to me ?" :) Smart !!!

Sign from above !

This is again about the impending move. Since the news was broken to me at work, I tended to second-guess my decision to move; the primary reason, in our minds, was to ensure that it would do good and be better for DS. Or else, I do not see a big need to move jobs, although the recognition is greater. It was always on my mind - and wryly thought like Jim Carrey in "Bruce Almighty" would look for some signs from above to see if this is the right thing for us to do.

Then cut to my travel last week; on the flight, where I tend not to see many movies, decided to see "Evan's Almighty" - which, post-facto, seemed a loose sequel to the Bruce Almighty. The plot for the movie is the God appears and commands Evan Baxter (a congressman ?) to build an ark, in the lines of Noah's - the plot is pretty thin though. So he starts building it, but the whole world and the family thinks he has turned crazy; In one of the scene the wife and the kids are sitting in a restaurant and there is a TV on playing the incident of Evan's ark - the people around make fun of Evan, while the wife squirms in her seat. Then God appears in front of the wife (as a waiter) and talks to her. When the wife tells him, all she wants is the family to be together, God asks her - if you pray for something, does God give it to you as is or provides an opportunity to do so - for eg, if you pray for courage, does God give you courage or provides you an opportunity to show courage ? Or when you want peace, does He give you peace or provide opportunity for peace"...

Hmmm... so when we were asking for "well-being" of DS, has God given us this "opportunity for the well-being" ? Perhaps, this is the sign !!!

Cop out ?

Finally, DS was told about the uproot-and-move. He somehow has a view that moving to the US is not something he wants, although we had lived there earlier. He was around 4 when we left that place. There is something about that experience that he hates. During our normal discussions, DS had said many times that he hates going to the US for some reason that is yet to be excavated from the innards... So telling him about the move was going to be challenge...

But we had to tell him sooner, which we already delayed. So when I was traveling this time, we had decided that he needs to be told; so the plan was just two days before my return from my travel, he would be told. This was the sequence
  1. we will get my current boss (who is also a good friend) to visit our house and tell DS that we are being transferred (DS has this view like the teachers at schools have to be listened to, the bosses at work has to be listened to)
  2. there is bound to be a bit of melt-down; handle it for a while, and then invite his friends from the neighbourhood to come home and play with him.
  3. if he is continued to be disturbed, I return 2d later and take some of the brunt...
In reality, there was some melt-down, then friends coming home helped to limit it. Finally, he has agreed to the transfer for an year (2008 to 2009 :) , no month specified :) ) with some pre-conditions...

I believe that DW handled this extremely well in spite of my absence (or perhaps due to my absence) and it required extra-ordinary amount of bravery and an aptitude of the oak-tree to do so.

So its kind of ended well; but one thought still gnaws at me... Did I cop-out on this and not want to face the kind of reaction that I expected ?

Bad times and bad days...

Past 6 weeks has been pretty tough on every one. DW and DS have been continuously falling ill, with each's tail-end of the sickness tagging a fresh trigger in the other. I have been very very very busy given the impending change in career and upcoming uproot-and-move. Trying to understand what an unknown business means and at the same time trying to close out things here and finding alternate education for DS in the place we are going to move to has had me completely hooked on to every other thing other than spending time at home.
With all this, RDI has gone down the drain, ENKI too accompanied that. Cold and illness implies morning walks (SI) has been canceled. Add to these my own absence from home due to travel; resulting in the most undesirable situation. Its the worst-case scenario happening!!!
But, I believe things are a-changing for good - the rhythm is being re-established. I also know there is going to be one huge disruption when DS will be told about the move - he will not like it one bit. That would be the worster-case scenario.
What could be the good thing out of this ? That we have seen the worst-case scenarios; one more time ? And we will see more ? Like its said in Hollywood movies, "is this your best shot?"!!! Good, we are still standing and fighting... :) Jokes apart, although its frustrating, mostly for DW, thats the essence - just need to keep standing and be at it... relentlessly; and assume all these dips as minor aberrations thats bound to happen anywhere and in every other lives. But just perhaps, more at a different level of complexity...


ps: This is a good read on bad-days.

Jokes on you...

Today DS was asked to hand over the small jar of "Vicks Vaporub" jelly to me. Since DS loves the play of words, he brought it to me said "here's your witch"... I did not react much; then he raised his voice, did the scary-boo-thing and said "Witch !"...

Funny !! :)

The Human Race

This was sent to me via email sometime in 2005. Not sure how much of it apocryphal; but everytime I read it, there is a small choke up the throat...

It was a sports stadium. Eight Children were standing on the track to participate in the running event.
* Ready!
* Steady!
* Bang!!!
With the sound of Toy pistol, all eight girls started running. Hardly have they covered ten to fifteen steps, one of the smaller girls slipped and fell down, due to bruises and pain she started crying. When other seven girls heard this sound, stopped running, stood for a while and turned back, they all ran back to the place where the girl fell down. One among them bent, picked and kissed the girl gently and enquired - "Now pain must have reduced".

All seven girls lifted the fallen girl, pacified her, two of them held the girl firmly and they all seven joined hands together and walked together and reached the winning post.

Officials were shocked.
Applause of thousands of spectators filled the stadium.
Many eyes were filled with tears and perhaps it had reached the GOD even!

YES. This happened in Hyderabad, recently! The sport was conducted by National Institute of Mental Health. All these special girls had come to participate in this event and they are spastic children. Yes, they were mentally challenged.

And truly special !!!

Here is to hope that the world picks up DS, long after we are gone and walks with him to his finish line.

Self Awareness and Regulation

A neat little incident.

My mom was talking to DS (ofcourse, in his mother tongue). As he was talking, DW called him to tell him some thing. DS turns around and sweetly says "Oru Nimasham amma (one minute, mom), I'm talking to Patti".

That was too good; ofcourse, all of us had the persence of mind not to make a big deal of it. As soon he left the room we did a high-five and a jig (atleast, I did it :) ). The whole point about not making a song and dance about it was that DS seems to be more aware of all of this now and doing that would actually embarrass him...

...which takes to me the next point. DS seems to be more and more aware of himself and his surroundings and situations. That is leading to the next level of thought process - ie regulating himself. He is now talking about what his appropriate behaviour should be. What he could do when he is alone with us and what he would not when he is with someone else or visitors or his friends. He is also talking about the other part - what is inappropriate too. So, we see he is moving towards a bit of regulating his own behaviour.

For instance, some of his interaction with my mom has been stressful for him. He doesn't want to repeat himself and my mom cannot hear well. So, once after I play-acted with him to show about hearing issues with my mom. The next day, when my mother asked to repeat, he started with a loud voice then slowed down and announced "I started to scream, but I did not"...

So, is Self-regulation on the way ?

ps: If awareness and regulation is on the way, how much is he realizing that he is 'different' - probably knows it more now.

Trade !!!

Recently, there was a "good" thing that happened to us. Recognition came my way at work. One thing that I have consciously done is, in my prayers only ask for something that makes DS progress and make it a conscious point not to ask for anything for ourselves Nothing heroic, it is just that we have clearly internalized what is more important; and I also believe we have been given more than what we really want, compared to so many other unfortunate ones.

...so given that, as I was thanking providence for the recognition, a thought crossed my mind: would I trade any of it or all of it for DS' progress and development, total or incremental. The answer was crystal clear - yes I would. So, I was not clear why that "good" thing did come my way.

Then I realized that, perhaps this is the vehicle He has sent us to make that progress for DS.

I'm more at peace with myself.

Contra Views...

There was a recently a post on one of the forums on a snippet about a doctor who had declared that kids in the spectrum are doomed for life and cannot recover etc etc. Few parents were rightly indignant and reacted angrily wanting to the out the name of the doctor. Although sometimes it is depressing to hear such things from the learned community - somewhere I recall reading that Medicine is not about just curing, its about curing with caring sensitivity - my reaction is thus:
As a "practicing parent" for the past ~7 years, let me give a contra view here. Lot of folks here have condemned the doc who had talked Autism being a lifelong condition and cannot be cured.

Do I agree, No. But am I outraged ? No. Doctors are professional, he has given his professional/informed (to what extent, is very subjective) views. We just have to take it as one more point of view. Personally, I don't mind diverse opinions, since it provides us with the worst case scenario that I can start preparing for. Providentially, in reality and in life, if the best case (or even average case) scenario happens, I'm better prepared and well covered.

So, I'm personally against naming the doctor. He has provided his view at a completely non-emotional level. And in his life time, data would him prove him wrong; and right. I think he was merely giving his professional opinion, even though its not what we want to hear. If we want someone to tell us what we want to hear, we should just go to our own parents/support-groups :) !!

Having said all of this, do I think there is going to be a cure (whatever that implies) - I don't know, don't care. All I know is that its possible for my son to have a close to normal life with obvious idiosyncrasies (like every other human being is). As parents, we will (and should) focus/continue to do things that raises the probability level of that result.

Subjectivity Cycle - Part 2

Earlier had written about Subjectivity Cycle. Posting about this and discussing it in some other forum I have a bit more clarity on it.

RDI for us is still very key, since I believe its the one that does set-ups the structure (or functions) or lays the first foundation of "myelination", ie the first "conscious" way of creating pathways for the brain to recognize a function. And then comes the connections with various other methods (Enki, art forms etc) and elimination of inhibitors through SI.

The Subjectivity cycle is to give him a view through labs, that different perspectives exists for different people. Although there exists specific description of a baseball (contour, color, size - basically quantitative/objective), there is another subjective view to the same ball by different people (the color is not my choice, the ball is too small for my hand, the stitches are too obvious for me - basically qualitative/subjective).

That is what we are trying through those RDI-objectives in the Subjectivity cycle; ie:
=> A ball can be perceived differently
=> I've an emotional answer to my perception (like, don't like, don't care)
=> The emotion, however can subside/change over a period
=> based on that change, i can re-draw my subjectivity (able to live with the issues, start liking it etc)
=> and the change could drive a new perception

The intent is to see if lay a foundation to an appropriate appraisal function, rather than inappropriate ones (like fear, need to have things static etc). Hopefully this would lead to the causal analysis. We are figuring out the RDI labs around those "phases"; and then (hopefully) use the Making-the-connections thing with Enki, stories, playacting etc to further make the connections.

Hope I'm making sense !

ps: We are finding it tough to have the "don't care" emotion come through.

War of the Roses !

This is not about the famous Danny De Vito's movie. Sometimes, both DW and DS will get into a tiff. DW will have reached a tether's end and DS would simply not want to do what the day's plan was. DW, usually patient (unusually patient for normal parents, if I may add) on a certain day would be on a short fuse.

As a DD/DH, I mostly would be without a clue - if its right to intervene and go with the flow or if I should help one of them to get out of that space, so that constructive dialog could start again. Last week, there was one such day. So after all the "fight", DS very tired crashed early on our bed. Later on, when I woke him up to move him to his bed, he went seeking his Mom, half-asleep to tell her "Sorry" and told her so. Further, he explained he is apologizing to his mom, since he had troubled her throughout the day !! This I believe, was such a moment of joy in a day of despair for DW.

It is one another proof of that there is normal emotional thought running through these kids, inspite of such behaviour tantrums. Leads me to believe more so, those behaviour are due to some overloads on their senses resulting from some eco-system "noises". Their need to react at an emotional level is getting submerged within the noises. Why would he resurface his emotional thought, after a brief calming ?

In any case and perhaps on a tangent, there is a news article recently, that confirms what is perhaps already know. That the IQ of these kids cannot be measured using the normal IQ tests administered to NT kids.

"Investment" explained...

Earlier in this post, I had talked about securing DS's financial future to some extent. I had gone ahead with the Tata-AIG Mahalife plan for him last month with first premium payment on the right day, where the stars and planets were aligned !

Cut to the past. Whenever we talked to DS about buying some real estate, he always used to get perturbed about it to an extent. His worry was that he likes the current place that we are staying and buying real estate implies we will shift to that and he did not want it. We did not have much success in trying to explain that it was for "investment".

Cut to two days ago. I had told him that I have done something for him and he would get a certain amount of money monthly and wondered what he would do with it. He said, when he does not need it, he would give it to "amma" and when he needs it he would take it back from her. I had to pounce on the opportunity and told him that exactly what we do with the money; when we don't need it we "put" money either in bank or real-estate etc. And when we need it, we ask the bank to give it back or give the real-estate away and get the money back.

"Investment explained - QED" :-)

Bracing for Braces...

Last friday, we went in for braces for DS. We have slowly gotten him to this part with some preparation:
  • Do massage of his teeth and gums (with fingers)
  • Some dental clean-up taking him to the dentist and photographing those
  • Prep for braces by the Orthodontist - by having an elastic band tied to his teeth four weeks ago and then some metal rings three weeks ago.
I also had to tell him that I wore braces when I was a kid. Also, had pointers to three people that he knows that have worn or wearing braces. And also how tough it was for me and them to cope up with the pain, whereas he has been brave.

So far, not much issues - he has complained of some pain - have applied the gel that the doc had given him and also crocin. He has been settling down. Due to grace from the one up above, we are not having much of an issue (touch wood); I tend to believe that there is some enduring (and endearing) fortitude in these kids that we cannot really fathom !

He is also looking forward to the fact that after September (when he believes the braces would be off), he is going to be much more handsome ! We have told him that !! And he feels shy about that !!! (That should be a good sign :)) !

Subjectivity Cycle !

Using the various RDI objectives that our consultant has given us, DW and I have abstracted it out to various phases of "Subjectivity development" - ie start with the concept of subjectivity and then the way forward on it. This would, hopefully, increase the DS's awareness of Subjectivity in others: how different people (and self) can perceive different based on situation, people, ecosystem, one's own experience and learning and so on and so forth.

Here is our take on how to increase subjectivity levels; moving from one to another and adding complexity as we move and model labs for each of it.
(click on the image below for higher resolution)

Time for Physics ?! :)

DS had made a couple of observations in the past week.
  1. When looking through the peep-hole on the main-door, the people and objects look smaller and distant
  2. When looked into the mirror, the (digital) 2 looks like 5. This observation was inside an elevator
I wonder if its time for us to teach him some basic physics concept ! ;) :). Seriously !! So, yesterday, DW and I brought up that peep-hole thing; and one of us explained to the other about the concave and convex lens. I'm pretty certain he did not understand the concept, but was sure he would have stored away the words. Atleast, the next time he is talked to about it, he would not be stressed by the unfamiliarity.

On mirror, DW and I played the "mirror game". That is - face each other; one be the mirror image of the other. DS intently watched this - again not sure, if he got it, but DW and I had a bit of fun playing that game !!!! :)

On Stage

About 10d ago, we had our "Apartment day" - Basically it is an annual celebration of formation of our apartment. Typically we have sports and cultural events. The sporting event starts couple of weeks earlier to the cultural.

DS was very keen that he participate in everything. He participated in sports (cycling and swimming). Of course, it was fun to watch him get onto the cycling race; and cycle normally (400m) around the apartment, completely ignoring that in the race that you need to be cycle faster. It, was in a way, sweet to watch him to do that. Then the same pattern on the swimming too.

As I had indicated in an earlier post he did sing MS's "Oli padaitha Kanninai" on stage. I do believe he did fairly a reasonable job at it, modulating as per pitch in the song (taped it and sending it to our RDI consultant). But the best was yet to come...

...The program ended with 3 girls dancing to a movie song. Towards the end of the song, whole audience of kids joined into the dance as the music played on. DS said he wanted to join the dance and ran to join the dance with all other kids on stage. His dance was jumping up and down. He paused at one point, intently watched the dance of other kids, as if he is studying their moves, then resumed his dance ! Also, captured on Video for our consultant to see!!!

It was quite cute and heartwarming to watch...

Scare !

About a week ago, around 7.15AM , while doing "the balance beam" (about half-a-foot above the ground), DS had fallen from it and scraped the skin of his elbow. He was quite distressed with it and hence DW took him back home - while waiting for the lift in the foyer, DS fainted and fell down. He was then lifted up to the house by a neighbour. Fortunately, the apartment opposite houses a family of doctors and one of them was able to quickly check him up and except for the bump in his head as the result of the fall, he said the pulse, BP and pupils were all fine; and its good to take him to his usual doctor after he had time to recover. This was second occurence - when DS was less than two year old, he was playing all over his mom; DW had caught his wrist and that had twisted it to an unnatural position, after which he had lost consciousness briefly.

After about couple of hours, DS was back to normal self, but did have seemed quite fatigued in those two hours. We were quite apprehensive and worried - because he is in the age, where we are told, the onset of seizures could happen as a co-occuring condition. We do know that there are drugs to control those, but we were worried since the seizures apparently set the development back. DS's pediatrician checked him out in the afternoon and said he looked quite normal and all his vitals are ok and DS's enthusiasm seemed back on. He said it could be just Vasovagal (syncope) attack or Akinetic seizures.

He did ask us to consult a neurologist and perhaps do some tests. Then came the neurologist consult. The neurologist tested him out, his reflexes and his reactions and said DS is fine; Given the other incident when the DS was 2 year old, the neurologist said that the fainting spell could be a result of extreme and unbearable pain. But if we had the money, we could do tests. So we did the EEG and CAT Scan. Both the report came out normal.

We are relieved to an extent. Hopefully its just vasovagal syncope and nothing else.

Using the motivation !

Looking for some suggestions here...

At our apartment, we have this annual day coming up on the 1st of July. Usually, this is a social gathering - where there are sports and cultural event. This sort of "party" or get-together happens twice in a year - one during the new year's eve and another the annual day.

During the last new year eve, DS sang MS's "Kurai Ondrum illai" with great gusto ! He was so excited about it. Infact, when he paused a bit going from the first to second stanza, the crowd thought the song was over and gave him an ovation. He had the presence of mind to get off the stage (dynamic thinking ?!) and then come to us and tell us that he could only sing half the song...

Now, this year, he wants to do all - sing, participate in sporting event (cycling and swimming). He has even picked the song he wants to do - MS's "Oli padaitha Kanninai". This time DS's grandmom, who is a classical singer herself is at home and trying to train DS to sing.

Now the question we are grappling with is this - Although his intelligence level and skill levels aren't bad, the biggest inhibitor for DS, at most times, seem to be the absence of motivation; however, the participation in this party/event seems very exciting for him; he is willing to perform on stage and even put himself in a position where he knows he is not good enough and compete with other kids. Is there something that we can do with it? How do we take this and build it up from here, as a foundation for motivation for other things ? Any ideas?

Securing the future.

Like any other "special" parents DW & I always worry about securing the future for the DS. The other challenge we have is the absence of sibling. So we are not very clear or even sure how his future would look. As we prepare him for the future challenges and hopefully "train" his mind for him to be able to think dynamically and in a dynamic eco-system, we also worry about his financial future. Hopefully, RDI, Enki, SI etc etc gives him some higher chances of independent living (or "quality of life" as it is called in RDI ;) ).

On the financial side, to be very blunt, we are concerned - we cant leave him a corpus - how would he manage it ? Would he be "cheated" of his inheritance, like its shown in the movies and the ones that we get to hear in real-life too. Leaving property has the same challenge. The other one we are exploring is creating a trust, selecting trustees who could be trusted (etymology ? ;) ). Atleast, that would introduce the checks and balances and also reduce the risk of foul-play.

The other one we are looking at is couple of insurance policies - Jeevan Tarang from LIC and Mahalife Gold from Tata-AIG. Although, I'm constantly advised by my "CFO" friends, that insurance is not an investment, I'm drawn to these two schemes. You pay premium for around 10 years for a sum assured. You can take the policy on the child's name. After the completion of premium period, the policy pays a certain percent of the sum assured to the policy holder, every year (read every year), until the age of 100 ! At the completion of 100th year, the policy holder gets back the sum assured...

I'm drawn to this from one angle only - although its not a sound financial instrument - the pay-out is periodic and that I think is a good inhibitor to complete swindling ! I could be afflicted with paranoia perhaps, but its about securing the child's future... a special one at that !

Hair-rising Experience...

For a long time, I’ve been playing the hair-dresser for the DS. I’ve even prided myself to have evolved in that line, being a target for butt of jokes on alternate career from the immediate family. A long time ago, I had taken him out to a “barber” shop (as they are called here). He could not take the poking and having to sit still. So, that experiment was quickly dropped and I restarted on honing my skills.

One-day, we realized his fear has shifted from the poking-and-sitting-still to being subjected to completely-shaved-pate and present a Yul Brynner look. He started worrying more about clean-shaven look, particularly after seeing his uncle sport one once. So, a few months ago, I had actually taken him along with me to the shop, when I had needed a haircut. He sat next to me on another swivel-chair and watched us the whole time with great interest. At the end of it, he seems to have realized that

  • Having an haircut at the “barber shop” is okay and it is voluntary and they do not force anyone who comes there to have an haircut
  • Secondly, all the haircuts do not end up in a clean-shaven look.

So, last week, I took him out to the shop. It was good to see him get there with a great anticipation and with only a bit of anxiety. Not only he waited for his turn for about 45 minutes, but when his moment came to be on the chair, he sat still, was ok to have the cloth around him and only once did he cry out loudly – when his nose itched and he couldn’t scratch it !!!

Crossing the Chasm...

DS has been "swimming" (in quotes and in italics, since its been mostly splashing around in the pool). He kind of got to float and move a bit forward with leg strokes. Last week, he got his arms moving; funny thing was the left arm will come around out of the water, forward, and down in the water - thus completing the stroke. The right hand never came out of the water, and instead it would be doing a dog-peddle. As a result the forward movement was not very great and the right arm paddling inside the water, acted as a rudder and turned him to one side

Today, we decided to put into practice (well, actually remembered) what the SI specialist asked us to. Do some gym-based exercise before going into the pool, to get him to proprioceptive input. Well, we did not take him to the gym, but we had him stretch his shoulders on the Thera-band (we bought a bunch of those, last week from Reebok stores - costly, I'd say). Lo behold, today, both the arms were going around and legs splashing all over, DS crossed the breadth of the pool. This was a few times until the Coach who appreciated it loudly - and promptly DS lost it post-that ! ;)

I believe we just need to continue on PP, Vestibular & Posture SI activities. We did come up with a sensory-diet for him. Lets see how it goes.

The next inflection ?

As the (extended) summer holidays for the DS comes to an end, we look back at the hols. I believe this was one of the most fruitful holidays - rhythm was set, RDI was woven in to an extent to the lifestyle, understanding (although basic, I'd say) of Sensory difficulties were internalized and DS seems to have made some good progress in several areas. Not sure if school would help him in that progress or would impede in it; we need to go to the school and talk over with his teachers on this.

The other thing was that we had taken a video of his school time (about 2hrs) and had shared it with both our RDI and Enki consultants. Good inputs from both of them. The Enki specialist had said that he seemed not to be inhabiting is body (I would have gone, "wwwhaat ?" several years ago - but with the DS being special and my own tyrst with martial arts, I see possibilities); and his perseverative actions like banging the table in frustration on the video or wringing his hands, are actually his attempt to come back into the moment. She has advised us to have a shorter class span for him, where he is on 'taught mode' for about 15m, then do a 3-5m sensory activity and then 5m of his own time; and she has given us a possibility of using Origami to build on his need to have strips of papers on his hands.

We had also met with a Sensory specialist and she has provided us with a set of sensory activities that we need to do on him. I'm still unable to schedule them in a way that we could run it well and consistently - need to do that this weekend; the Enki movements has given an added set of tools for us to use. (Btw, why the "I" in the "I'm unable..." is that we have a kind of division of labour between DW and I - she does the RDI and Enki and I am supposed to design the SI for him; as ever, I believe I woefully equipped to it forward, but we will stumble on ;) ). Reminds me, need to send a note to the SI specialist and ask her to give us a pilot schedule on which we can op the SI activities.

Wonder, if the next inflection would come from here - confluence of the mind and body ? As a non-sequitor, it does sound funny that the logical guy I am, I'm talking about abstracts; but having a special child opens up new philosophies; theories abound and fresh axioms appear !

Asking for help !

It has been quite tough for DS to ask for help in a way thats descriptive. If he is looking for something and he cannot find it, the graph gradient from quiet to a temperish tantrum would be quite steep. One of the things we have been working as a part of RDI is to being descriptive and asking for help, rather than getting stressed about it. We have made some progress; progress within the confines of what the child in the spectrum would make.

Two days ago, DS was playing in the apartment play area in a grass mound. He was playing with another kid (half his age though), and playing throw-catch with the ball. I had decided to swim in the adjacent pool and there is a kids pool area between the bigger pool and the grass mound (photo adjacent ;) ). DW, who was with him, decided to go upstairs for a few minutes. In midst of my swimming I heard DS talking to someone. When I surfaced he was talking to an older gentleman, asking for his help, since the ball had gone into the kids pool. He was asking the gentleman to help, since he cannot get into the swimming pool without the swimming attire.

Later on when we were discussing this - we told him that we were very proud that he asked for help, but asked him (ofcourse, in our own declarative way :) ) on what his thoughts were. He said, he knew the gentleman since he and DW had gone to their house for a function. So, he knew that man, hence he asked him specifically for help. He also said that the other option he had was looking for a long rod, that he could not find.

Looking to help himself first, check and continue to reinforce.
Asking for help, check & ctr.
Identifying the appropriate person for help, check & ctr.
Make judgment if the person can help, work in progress.
Articulate emotions when things dont go the expected way... yet to start, long way to go !
ps: The gentleman in question said he could not help, since he was carrying a baby. By that time, I had intervened to get the ball for him; in the hindsight I did that too quickly. Should have waited to see what else he would have done. Later, I tried to get him to relate how DS felt when he was refused help; he wasn't able to articulate from an emotion perspective; he said it from logic - ie the man could not help since he was carrying a baby and cannot get into the pool.

Good break ! But a good thing ?

We had a vacation over 10days and just returned two days ago. We had been to Mumbai and from there to the final destination, where it was Sun, sand and water. The last two are stuff our DS absolutely loves. It was a good good break - for me from work, for DW from daily routine of working with DS and for DS from the daily routine ! So much so, that DS wants to go back there next year too; and while we were returning, he asked us at every logical point (like hotel checkout, airline checkin counters, immigration point etc) that if we need to tell them that we want to book in advance that we would return the next year !!

Not sure what it was for him; he was not physically very active; but I guess the break itself was good enough - also, because we were in alien conditions, keeping to the diet was quite tough and we had let go. So, perhaps that was enjoyable for DS. We did see some regression in his behaviour - like inappropriate laughing at times, a bit more excitable than normal. So, sometimes I wonder if this its a good thing for us to take this kind of break; but then I also think, when we reconcile the balance sheet, this is a short-term loss for a long-term gain - i.e., recharge ourselves (all three of us) to continue on this path for the next year, until the next break. So much so, that before we left the hotel, with DS we took a vow that we would all do what is expected of us and with no "task avoidance". Back at home, the last two days has been good - DS has gotten back to groove. Ofcourse, adjusting to new SI activities has been a bit tough, but eventually he did agree...

...which brings to the other good part of the trip. We did meet a SI specialist, who had evaluated him and recommended a host of SI activities - which is kind of overwhelming. We've requested the specialist to schedule it for us as "sensory diet", so that the whole thing is more systemic. Now, the jury is out on that on where we would be and how successful we would be with that. Fingers crossed.

The judgment day cometh !

We did an IQ and Skill (re)assessment of DS over the last month. His IQ, although has come down, is normal range; and the Doc believed that if he had the motivation to complete a few, he would actually be better off.

But the best part for us was this: Doc had done the skill assessment on him - reading comprehension, arithmetic, reading, spelling, writing etc - The tests were:
  • Weschlers' Intelligence Scale for Children III edition
  • Weschlers Objective reading dimensions (WORD)
  • Weschers' objective Numerical dimesnions (WOND)
  • Weschlers' objective language dimensions (WOLD)
  • Diagnostic interview for social and comm disorders (DISCO 10)
Although he did very little at school over the last couple of years, his skills were closer to his age-group - a year or so less max. Except his writing, which was like 4-5yr old. I think that is due to his SI issues...

DW, who was tense before the assessment, is all smiles and I think that would remain on for a while :)

It helps us keep the faith in the path we have chosen -
  1. Part-time schooling
  2. RDI
  3. Enki
  4. SI
  5. GFCF kind of diet
I believe, these help build the foundation and creating neurological pathways for him - creating the functions; and the actual schooling and skill building can come later; i've no issues with that at all !!! This is a good milestone - to look back with satisfaction; and look forward for more work ahead.

And yes, he can relax !!

There was thing with my DS. Whenever, we tell him to close his eyes, he could not actually close them - he would shut his eyelids, tightly - so much so that his forehead would be burrowed and we can see the crow's feet around the corner of his eyes.

We have started a new "thing" for him - the rhythm, based on "waldorf" like program. As a part of the rhythm, we play some really soothing music in the background and get him to swing in a cane chair (a kind of swing); sometime we gently swing him as the music plays in the background. After the (SI kind) morning walk, this is the part of his rhythm.

I've been noticing this for a while, but now I see he does this more often; today as the swing was going back and forth and with "gokulathil kanna, kanna" (a tamil song with classical overtone), he laid back his head on the backrest of the swing and closed his eyes gently, listening to the song. No burrows in the forehead and no crows-feet...

...The noise around and in his own head seemed to have minimized. Oh yes, he can relax !!!

The number moment !

The summer is usually a great time for DS. He loves to splash in water and he is learning to swim this summer. Its not been easy, but he is persevering with it...

But the champagne moment came a few days ago. We are using some of his "would-love-to-do" activities to teach him the concept of money. The principle behind is that he needs to pay us for him to do some activities. We have a open "box" with three partitions with Rs.5/-, Rs.2/- and Re.1/- coins in them - the coin pile is also labeled. And he needs to pay out my DW or I. for frolic in the pool. Or any such activities that he loves.

Couple of days ago, as I was rocking him in the swing, as a part of his rhythm, I told him that the day was a "cost" day; that is he needs to pay for his activities. I told him that he needs to pay for pool and Oral-mathematics (where he does word sums denoting multiplication or addition with my DW).

Pat came his reply - "Appa, Oral-math is so expensive, I cannot afford it" !

And we went :) ;) ;) ;) ;) :) for nearly a week !!! :)

Making the connections...

As a part of the programs we run for DS, we tell read him a lot of stories, from various books. The intent behind that is that as he hears the stories, he starts making "connections" between various characters, situations, settings etc to what he himself sees, feels and experiences in his own life on a daily basis. Basically, the intent is to get him to think and draw parallels. And then perhaps, he starts seeing the similarities and differences.

I've been thinking as to how to make this tool more effective. I do know that the connections are at different levels.
  1. The first being physical, factual. Things that are tangible and are relating to the senses - can be seen, heard, touched, smelt etc.
  2. The second is emotions - he is able to connect up to the emotions expressed by the characters in the stories.
  3. The third level is abstract - he is able to reason a bit - as to why the character in the story felt the emotions in the way that s/he did. Kind of causal thinking
  4. The last level being connection to self - experiential - as to how he is able to connect the characters/settings/situations to his own experiences and what he learns out of it.
Deriving from above categorization (my own, so dont sue me :) ), I have modeled the levels and making the connections (the ones labeled "recall through") as below (click on the picture to blow it up):

Today, we are kind of labeling the details in the stories to one of these levels, with an hope that we can effectively highlight some of it by weaving it in our activities and programs. The good news is, our DS is able to do 1 and 2 to some extent. Draw parallels at level 1 and to some extent in Level 2. The L3 and L4 are going to be challenging... I believe if he can start doing L3, then the L4 would naturally follow. Fun, happy and frustrating times ahead !!

Sanity !

[This is a post from my other blog - the funny thing is perfectly normal NT people have commented back that they too feel the same one time or the other. So, whats wrong with DS, anyways !!]

Bore beyond
my eyes
Into my head -
See wires crossed
Neurons lost.
An inchoate mass
of ocean of thoughts
Rise in noisy waves
fall to a still-born end.
Strident voices
In a cacophonous cadence,
Shutdown my senses.
I arch tense;
Body spins -
masking the din.
Past, tense twirls,
quiet unfurls.
Senses rebound
coherent and sound.
Spy deep into my brain -
Beyond turmoil and storm,
In that lucid calm,
I'm all heart...and pain.

A for acceptance, B for Be...

[Note: Above was the post that I had posted in the Autism India Yahoo group as an input to the discussion on caregivers and acceptance]

(or like Sir Paul said, Let it be ! :) )

I actually was in the sidelines like someone else has said and watching. Then I decided to jump in with my 2pips...

1) I think "A" for acceptance is the key. Not acceptance of Autism, but acceptance of diversity of views and contra opinions. I think it is this trait that has made science progress as much as it has. The point is to keep it at the situation and not at a personal level. Like xxxx had pointed out that everyone in Autism has contributed immensely to the awareness, development and intervention-techniques. But at the same time, expecting everyone to be know-all outside of their realm of expertise is also setting us (parents) for failure. So, its key that parent can make that differentiation. To me, that parent's first challenge was there was a gap between his expectation and the result he was handed with. Its his learning curve. While I acknowledge and even look up at awe at these institutions and people who have given so much, I also very strongly believe its the parent that feels the utmost pain for their child. So, when zzzz posted his contra view, while I will NOT agree to what he has said (and I'm glad the group moderator took the references out), I can completely empathize with his moment of pain and frustration and what he went through. From that perspective, I do hope we acknowledge his pain and disappointment. After all this is also the "Parent support" group.

2) On Acceptance of autism. I don't think I'm ready to accept autism. IMHO, lets not confuse that with the 'acceptance of our child'. I accept my child for what he is and what he does and I do feel proud for the kind of effort he makes every day, but i do NOT accept that his condition is a 'given'. I do believe, like he has done in the past 6 years, he will improve and I will do what it takes (within my resources) to ensure he continuously gets all the inputs; I do

  • GFCF to take away his physical inhibitors
  • RDI to do-over his neuron connections :) and provide him with a framework for to think
  • Waldorf-kind of education for him to experience stories and use the RDI framework to make connections
  • SI for him to get physical confidence and take away the noises

Thank you,