Tag: Autism

Mr. Never I Say Never (G-uno)

There he stood on his tiny chair in the middle of his preschool cafeteria making his royal stance adamantly clear. My eyes surveyed the room. His poor teacher was completely unsure about what to do. The other children were entranced by his command of the room. “The Baby” otherwise know as “The King” was perched on his tiny little chair with his index finger pointing straight up in the air shouting at the top of his little lungs “Never I say, never!”

“The King” is not your average 4 year-old boy. He falls into several categories within the Autistic spectrum. Although his intellect borders on brilliant, his speech is severely delayed. The biggest problem with “The King” is that his mind is bursting with thoughts that his speech simply cannot relay. So he has learned to make his royal commands, and desires intensely clear in other ways. This king will be heard whether he is able to express his wishes with words or not.

He is intensely easy on the eyes. His large beautiful blue eyes draw you in then while you’re completely captivated he throws you a smile that lets you know you are probably going to give him whatever he wants. Adults, and children alike are often drawn into his kingdom with not so much as even a single word. He commands your attention while systematically getting you to relent to his every wish.

On the flip side of his charismatic charms there is a tyrant who loses his shit when his powers of persuasion are not being understood, or worse yet denied. Like all great rulers he knows that when his charms are not doing the trick you have to rule with an iron fist. He has a new teacher who is quite young, and clearly has not had the experience of dealing with a 2 -1/2 foot tall ruler. I have dealt with this mighty king since he was a year old. Over this period of time I’ve been extremely lucky to have found myself very much in “The King’s” favor.

I have the ability to understand him in a way that does not require so much energy output on his part, so he tolerates me much more easily than the rest of his subjects. I don’t deal with him in a verbal way because I know that when he realizes he is not able to converse back in the same way he becomes frustrated. I can see from the look on his face that he feels defeated by his inability to speak. Plus it’s good for him to see that I am as bilingual at getting what I want in the nonverbal sense as he is. He likes this about me. He knows I share the same admiration for him in this way.

However much to “The Kings” dismay I am equally as tenacious about fulfilling my job requirements as his personal assitant. So as he stood perched on his tiny chair I walked over to him, and looked down towards the ground signaling him that it was time to step down. He looks me straight in the eyes to let me know he is not ready to comply. So I look him back in the eye being ever so cautious not to be mesmerized by his charms, and I raise both of my eyebrows while smiling at him.

He is assured by my smile that I am not issuing a command so he climbs down off of the chair, and starts to walk away towards the door. I remain by the chair until he realizes I am not following him towards the door. He looks at me with slight disgust, then I smile again and stare down at the chair that has not been pushed back into the table, and the snack (of apples & raisins) that remained uncleared. He gives me a pronounced hesitation just to make sure I know he is making a choice, not following a command. Then he walks over pushes in his chair, and clears his uneaten snack from the table.

I smile at him again. He looks at me in a way that let’s me know he is only conceding to my wishes only because he wants to, but he knows that I will stand there like an immovable mountain until he relents. Then he looks at me again with his “Happy now look?,” and I beam back at him so he knows that I am. I hand him his royal nap blanket, his box of apple juice, and his bag of pretzels. As we walk down the hallway I look at him with my “What happened in there face?” He smiles at me then in four tiny words says ” I don’t like raisins.” 😉

 

Little Man’s Birthday Surprise (G-uno)

He marched into the living room where I sat playing with “The Baby” beaming with this smile that could have stopped the world. He had one arm behind his little back, and a shopping bag from Trader Joe’s in the other. He walks directly up to me saying with great pride “Ms G-uno I have something for you!”

I can see by his face this is going to be big, so “I say for me? Why for me?” The smile that you thought couldn’t possibly be any larger was now even larger. Making it impossible for his mother, and I to not beam ourselves. He proudly announces “Because Ms. G-uno it’s your birthday!

Then he presents me with a bouquet of unopened Iris’s that were behind his back, and proudly sets the gift bag in front of me. “I picked all of your presents out myself.” His mother interjects with a sheepish look on her face, and a slightly apologetic tone. “Little Man’s special power is Autism, so he views the world in a very different sort of way then the rest of us. I am always enthralled by his thought process so I am examining his choice in flowers because you can only see a slight tip of color coming out of the top of the long graceful stems.

Now he can no longer contain himself so he says “Don’t you want to open your card, and your bag?” So my attention drifts from my curious bouquet, and I see a canister of coffee. He knows that I love coffee, so I praise his awesome choice, as he pulls the card out of the bag. I open my card, and on the front there is a colorful Mexican pinata.

Little Man can hardly contain himself as he tells me “Mom wanted me to give you roses, and a boring girl card with flowers on it. So I told her no, you needed blue flowers because blue is your favorite color (blue is his favorite color), and that you love Mexican pinatas (He loves pinatas) right Ms. G-uno!?”

I pull him over to me for a huge hug, and say “Oh yes, you know me so well. Ms. G-uno loves blue flowers, and Mexican Pinatas!” He glances over at his mother with a see I told you so look. Mom just laughs. She is an amazing mother. She let “Little Man” choose my gifts even though she felt that I would have liked other things more. She shows him that his point of view is important. He has thrived because he knows that he is valued.

So I woke up this morning, and made my way to the kitchen for my coffee. On my way I looked over at the vase that held my curious bouquet. Every bud had fully opened. Each Iris was extremely beautiful, exquisitely formed, exploding in blues, purples with a slight bit of yellow. I took a picture of them with my phone, and messaged it to “Little Man’s” mother.

I thought about his gifts to me, his beautiful smiling face, and the sincere joy he felt in presenting me with them. I couldn’t help but notice that the delicate flowers weren’t the only thing that had exquisitely bloomed. 😉

 

 

Sometimes You Have To Go With The Jealousy Card (G-uno)

Being an 10-year old boy in this day comes with a great deal of life challenges, but being an 10 -year the boy with Autism is a completely different animal. “Little Man’s” mother has gone back to college to get her B.A. so much to my delight I get to spend more time with my favorite trio-Little Man, Big Brother, & The Baby (otherwise known as “The King”), Monday’s belong to “Little Man.”

Each brother is uniquely different from the other. “Little Man” recently turned 10, his first double digit birthday so his family celebrated in a huge way. I was unable to be at the celebration because of all our wedding related events, so I took “Little Man” out to try to make up for my not being there with him on his big day. The great thing about this kid is that he was so happy to hang out without sharing me with his brothers that I was easily pardoned.

He, and I share a bond that goes beyond mutual admiration, we are great friends. Even with his Autism we have a very emotional connection (something quite rare in children with Autism). I think it’s simply because we get each other. We enjoy hanging out because we can both be exactly who we are with each other. I believe that he has been responsible for as much of my personal growth as I have been for his.

So we grabbed a bite to eat at our favorite seafood place, “Little Man’s” diet is extremely difficult. He is allergic to soy, dairy, and gluten so fresh vegetables, and meat are pretty much all we can go for. It’s funny because he has a really huge appreciation for food because of his many dietary restrictions. He’s very sharp about maintaining his strict diet. He also loves going to this particular seafood restaurant because it’s not something his family can afford on a regular basis, and “The King” usually dictates the family meals with his extremely limited pallet.

As I sat there watching him devour his second entree of shrimp, I couldn’t help but notice how much his face has changed. He just looked so much more grown-up. he told me that he had never been to a wedding, or a funeral. He wanted to know what we did at my daughter’s wedding. He as always been fascinated with graveyards (he loves Halloween), then he stopped eating, and asked me if I knew that his dog had died? I looked at his sad little face, and told him yes.

Children with Autism are generally known for their inability to express or deal with the emotional responses of others. In many cases it’s something they have to be shown how to react to, and deal with it any social setting. In this moment his sadness over the death of his dog overrode his Autistic tendencies, he was a little boy overcome with emotion. I slid next to him on the bench seat, and he buried his little face into my shoulder. My heart broke for him in this moment, I needed to do something to lessen his pain.

So I told him he was lucky to have something he loved so much, and when he didn’t quite pick up on that I quickly followed up with a “Hey do you want to really drive your brother’s crazy? Let’s go play putt-putt golf, get some frozen yogurt!” 😉

I’d Rather Drink From The Toilet! (G-uno)

“Little Man’s” Mom is a high-ranking manager for our very large city. Yesterday was take your kids to work day. It’s her job to organize this event for her fellow employees, and her children’s participation in this huge event is not optional! “Little Man” & “Big Brother” who are highly intelligent are equally lacking in their social graces. Yesterday was an absolute freaking nightmare!

For those of you who are not familiar with our Blog, “Little Man” is a nine-year old boy whose superpower is Autism, and I have been his superhero activity assistant for almost three years. I also care for his older brother who is ten, and their baby brother who is three. “The Baby” otherwise known as the “King” is exhibiting some Autistic behavior, but has not been officially diagnosed. “The Baby” was given a pass on today’s events because of his age. Thank goodness for small blessings.

I adore all three of the brother’s, but their public behavior can be much less than desirable. Mom is painfully aware of this. She asked me to be there to help out with the boys who are notorious for wandering off in large crowds, and prone to some “Dennis The Menace” like antics. “Little Man’s Autism plays a huge factor in his awkward social behavior. He does much better in small crowds, and with a scheduled routine. “Big Brother’s” crotchety by nature, and can be quite rude when things do not go according to his expectations.

Yesterday’s events involved 31 other employee’s children, 13 other adults besides Mom, and myself. It began at 8:00 in the morning with a light breakfast (Director’s Welcome) at Mom’s workplace, followed by a tour of one of our cities aquatics programs featuring a tour/lecture on their new Geothermal Heat Pump. We were surrounded by huge swimming pools with slides, but that was not included on our to do list. Try to imagine how 31 children felt about that. Next was a tour to our City Hall to meet our Mayor, and Deputy Mayor. Then back on the bus across town to tour a new recreation center, and lunch. Then back on the bus across town to another recreation center that’s focus is on wildlife preservation/environmental studies, and then back on the bus to our final destination yet another new recreation center/gift tree dedication. Then back to Mom’s work place to clean-up before going home at 5:00.

Now if you haven’t fallen asleep from sheer boredom let me tell you about the “Brothers” reactions to this kind of scheduling. The breakfast entailed a game of healthy bingo. Each card had healthy not-so- common foods in the squares rather than numbers. A great way to introduce new choices, that included some pretty great prizes for the winners. Well guess whose two children did not win a single round. It was a huge battle just to keep “little Man” from continuously examining all the prizes prior to giving them out. He is like a “Houdini” at working his way out of a designated seat to go somewhere he has been told is off-limits. Meanwhile “Big Brother’s” face is contorting into the most awful expressions of pouting known to mankind. Mom’s colleagues, are witnessing the whole situation because we are all packed into a conference room like sardines.

Mom is attempting to keep “Little Man” in order as I try to quietly persuade “Big Brother” not to embarrass himself in front everyone else, especially Mom’s boss. Next stop was the aquatics park where our beloved “Houdini” once again ignores directions, and slips off a narrow cement landing almost ending up in a deep pool of very nasty water! I was lucky enough to grab him mid-air by the back of his shirt, and pull him back onto the ledge.

Next stop City Hall for a tour to meet the Mayor. He explains to the children how things work, and he asks the children if they have any questions. “Big Brother” raises his hand and asks “When can we go I’m bored now!” Mom  tries make him apologize to the Mayor, to which he loudly replies “I’d rather drink from the toilet!” Mom takes him into the hall to scold him. Then he begins to cry loudly, wildly waving his arms, stomping his feet.

Next stop new recreation center “Big Brother” openly rolls his eyes at Mom’s co-worker who was very nicely trying to give him directions. When another co-worker steps in to help she also get’s an eye roll accompanied by a smart-ass remark. When he was asked to apologize he replies “I would rather drink from the toilet!”

Next stop animal show at environmental center. All the children had been instructed not to make loud noises or quick movements during the birds of prey show because the falcon, hawk, and owl were very nervous by nature. “Little Man” becomes overly excited by the falcon’s wing fluttering jumps up screaming. This causes all the other birds who are tethered to their caretaker’s arm’s to wildly flap, and do 360’s around their arms in a mad attempt to flee from this chaos. This frightens the other children who are now screaming and running away from these pretty scary looking panicked birds!

After calming the kid stampede, and getting the birds safely back inside their cages the kids are taken to a city program which again involves games, and prizes. “Big Brother” loses again has a complete meltdown. The D.J.  gives “Little Man” a gift for being a good sport to make a point to “Big Brother,” this just causes him to react even more. Now at this point I have had it, I pull “Big Brother” from the floor, and drag him back to the bus.

These are not my children so I had to restrain from my natural desires to deal with them in what I know would have been completely foreign to them, and very much deserved! We finally arrived at our last stop, both boys knew that I was very unhappy with them. They have never seen this side of me so they decided to turn themselves around. At this point I was desperate to bring this day to a close. Mom had tried to bribe the boys that morning with the promise of a great reward if they could be on their best behavior that day. You should know I am not a fan of this idea. My children were required to behave because it was simply the right thing to do.

“Big Brother” looks up at his Mom and says”I know we had a rough start, but we did turn things around in the end. Can we still have our reward?”  Mom looks over at me, and says” What do you think Ms. G-uno?” I am now boiling over with anger, my hands are clenched, “Big Brother’s” attempt to manipulate his mother has me ready to explode! Both boys are searching my face waiting for my response. I’m desperately trying to edit the response that is going on in my head. Then I look them all in the face, and say “I’d rather drink from the toilet than give you a reward!” 😉

The Baby’s Rabbit Revenge (G-uno)

The Baby is “Little Man’s” three year-old brother otherwise known as “The King” due to his extraordinary command of his household. He is small in stature and large in personality, and he rules his kingdom with an iron will. When you first see “The Baby” you find yourself admiring his soft features. You can easily be fooled into dropping all your defenses as you are lulled in by his intense blue eyes. A smile so sweet it renders you completely ill-equipped to fathom the iron will that resides inside of him. He is very easy on the eyes, and just like “Little Man” he oozes charm.

I started out as “Little Man’s” superhero activity assistant. His superpower is Autism. I am proud to say that he has mastered all of his therapies, and is currently thriving in a mainstream private school. The Baby who is equally as intelligent as his brother, has experienced some  developmental difficulties, and is particularly delayed with his speech. So it is my job to take him to speech therapy.

“The King,” and I have a great relationship, he finds my ability to understand him very useful. I seem to easily understand his desires with much less prompting than most. This ability saves the short-tempered king a great deal of time, and frustration when he wants to convey his desires. He is quite proficient at making his point, and extremely intolerant of those who don’t comply with his royal commands.

“The King” hates speech therapy! His therapist did not initially bond with his need to rule the kingdom. She seemed to find his personality much less than charismatic, often saying to me that he reminded her of her baby sister. It was quite apparent to me that she was not a fan of being a royal subject. “The King” was equally displeased with her disdain for his royal rule. I’m pleased that both have grown in their appreciation for one another over the last few months, but there are still those occasional moments when the clash of their equally strong wills arise!

Yesterday was one of those dreaded days. The Baby was definitely not himself when I picked him up from preschool. He seemed distracted not his usual engaging self. When we arrived at therapy his therapist was eager to share her newest Easter Rabbit game. This consisted of a cut-out rabbit with a very large opening where the mouth is, so each time a word on a flashcard is pronounced correctly a small colorful plastic carrot can be fed to the rabbit as a reward.

I should tell you that the baby has a fascination with colorful plastic toy foods. If he likes something in particular he will hold on to the desired object without ever putting it down. So his therapist knew he would like the carrots. She was in a much more playful mood than “The King,” and was trying very hard to make this new game fun for him. She also enjoys teasing his iron will a bit, and she tried to coax him into relinquishing one of the carrots from his hand to feed to the rabbit. “The King” is iron in his will not to give the carrot to the rabbit, and his therapist was highly amused by his responses.

“The King” however was not amused by her attempts, and was not at all happy with her enjoyment of his unrelenting iron will. I could see his face growing more and more agitated, something his therapist seemed to ignore as she continued to exercise her iron will. Then she decided to make the large open-mouthed rabbit hop towards him to feign that it was going to eat the highly coveted carrot he held tightly in his hand. Yep that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

“The Baby” who is tired of this taunting, in a flash raises his other iron fist, and slams it down on top of the rabbit’s head! He demolishes the rabbit in one swipe! I watched the therapist’s face transform from smiling amusement to complete surprise. Her brand new rabbit was flattened. I then look at “The Baby’s” face. He was staring at her with a look of well are you happy now? Then in a royal like fashion he hands her the coveted carrot, climbs down from his chair, and walks towards the door. He looks over at me very nonchalantly, points to the door, and  then turns around looks at his therapist and says bye.

I stood up fully understanding his royal decree, looked at his still silent therapist, and said good-bye. Sometimes a little king just has to remind his royal subjects just who really is running the royal kingdom. 😉

Big Brother’s Revenge (G-uno)

Being the oldest child in any household is a tough road to hoe. Being “The Big Brother” to “Little Man,” and “The Baby” is a completely different bucket of worms! Especially while Mom is recovering from some pretty major surgery. Mom is the key to making her household work, and “Big Brother’s” more sympathetic parent in the home. Mom is often the voice of reason when “Big Brother,” and Dad butt heads. She has a gentle way of prompting her boys to have some understanding of each others point of view.

Unfortunately Mom is unable to work her usual magic right now. Dad who is a good father, great support, and good provider is at his wit’s end! The lesson to all of Mom’s boys is that while Mom makes running her home, and handling her boys look effortless, it is a job that requires skills they simply do not possess. I feel sorry for Dad, he is worried about his wife, his children (the middle & youngest child have special needs), and the household finances have been stretched beyond their limits. Dad is very intelligent, and has had a huge dose of what life would be like if the heart of his family did not exist.  He loves his wife immensely so the sobering thought that he could have been left behind without her has definitely impacted him deeply.

The problem is that “Big Brother” has had a similar realization, and is dealing with all of this from the perspective of a 9-year-old boy. He has no idea the pressure his father is under, and has come to the conclusion that Dad is at fault for all the current chaos in the home. Dad has formed his own conclusion as well regarding “Big Brother.” He feels that his son is deliberately making every single task in the home more difficult. He feels that he is severely lacking in both motivation, and responsibility regarding both school, and his home life. So Dad has decided to take a firm stand with “Big Brother,”and “Big Brother” has decided to take a stand with Dad!

Now keep in mind all of this tension, and disruption in the home has completely turned “Little Man’s world upside down! The key to dealing with his particular form of Autism is having a consistently calm daily routine. “The Baby” who also has very unique special needs can not understand any of the changes in his life. Especially the fact that his mother is unable to hold him. So “Little Man,”and “The Baby” are both acting out in major ways. Poor Mom is in pain from her surgery. Having all of her boys melt down in their own individual ways is not exactly the best environment to heal. She is keenly aware that “Big Brother” has decided to wage war on Dad.

I tried to gently suggest to Dad that taking the approach of making “Big Brother,” my partner in reaching certain required goals has always been a very successful way of motivating him. He is an “old soul” in a child’s body. As the oldest child with two younger special needs siblings he has been required to behave in a more than age appropriate mature manner. So he becomes quite resentful when he is suddenly demoted back to being his actual age.

Dad dismisses my suggestion for the more hard-line approach, and tells “Big Brother” that he will go to school, and he will not open his sass mouth for any reason. He goes on further to say you will not do one single thing unless your teachers tell you to do so, asking “Big Brother” to repeat his directions back to him to ensure he has a complete understanding!  “Big Brother” follows his Dad’s exact direction. Dad looks at me with a look that relays this is how we handle “Big Brother.” So then I gather the other two boys delivering each one to their separate schools while Dad heads off to work.

One hour later I receive a call from Dad. He is completely enraged sitting in the principal’s office at “Big Brother’s” school. Apparently “Big Brother” had followed Dad’s exact direction not to open his sass mouth for any reason, which made it impossible for “Big Brother” to tell his teacher he could not get up from his chair to go to his next class because she had not given him the exact direction to stand up from his chair and walk to his next class. 😉

Little Man’s Mom (G-uno)

I heard his tiny footsteps coming down the stairs he knows today will be a different kind of day because his Mom is having surgery. He is happy to see me sitting on the couch, but immediately blurts out “My Mom is at the hospital.” I shake my head in agreement, and I tell him that Mom is going to miss him every second! “Big Brother,” and “The Baby” (otherwise known as the king) were still sleeping. I don’t tell him that everything will be okay because I try to be very careful with my words when I speak to “Little Man.” He is 8 years old, and his super power is Autism. He is very adamant about holding you accountable for your exact wording, so I have learned to choose my words carefully.

Mom is the heart of her family. I love the way she takes care of boys! She is the only female in her house with the exception of one of her dogs. Mom works a full-time job in addition to being a wife, and a special needs mother. All three of her sons attend different schools, and each one is completely different from the other. Her super power is her ability to meet everyone’s needs in a loving, and structured way. Mom has made it a priority to have a unique, and special bond with each of her boys. I am in complete awe of her stamina. I arrived at their home at 5 a.m. this morning she greeted me with a hug, and her always warm smile. I could see the fear in her eyes. Her fear is not because of her impending surgery, it is the fear of a loving mother worrying if her boys will be okay. Her surgery is of a serious nature. I personally wished that it could have been put off one more day. I have a great dislike of the month of February,so one more day would have put us into March. I know this is irrational, but still the thought lingers in my mind.

“Little Man” and I decide we should wake his brothers for breakfast together. He gets some satisfaction from the idea of waking them up in his own little unique way. He bombards each brother by pouring a bucket full of his beloved beanie babies onto their heads. All the while laughing so hard he can hardly catch his breath. “Big Brother” and “The Baby” do not find this to be funny at all. Usually “Big Brother” would react to this in a much more physical way, but today he is worried about Mom. He asks me if Mom is already in surgery. I tell him I’m not exactly sure, but I know that she is thinking of him too.

Next the boys and I go downstairs to the kitchen. Mom has set the table for each boy with a paper plate. She has written a note on each plate with a red marker. ” I Love You! Mommy.” Beneath each message she had drawn several red hearts. I couldn’t help thinking how fitting to receive little plates filled with hearts from the Mom who is the heart of this family. 😉

Little Man’s Valentine Request (G-uno)

Little Man and I share a special bond, he is a superhero whose superpower is Autism. Until very recently I was his Super Hero Activity Assistant. I’m proud to tell you that he has done so extraordinarily well that he no longer requires having an assistant. His baby brother (age 2) is struggling with some issues of his own so I am currently his assistant. This is something that does not sit well with Little Man.

Yesterday The Baby and I were returning home from his therapy, and while I was helping him get out of his car seat I felt a gentle tap on my arm. Little Man who always comes out to greet us, and by greet us I mean inspect to make sure that The Baby is not receiving any attention that clearly should only be given to him. I can see that Little Man has something on his mind and is searching for just the right wording before he speaks.

I smile at him asking him about his day. He is clearly in no mood for small talk and blurts out “Why does The Baby have a Valentine’s Day gift?” I tell Little Man that The Baby’s therapist gave him this present for completing all of his tasks in his session. Then I remind him that this was something she also did for him before he graduated from therapy. I can see from the expression on his face that he is still bothered by something even though he is acknowledging that he does remembers this.

I smile at him again this time asking him if he wants to talk about anything else. His face changes to a very stern look, and he begins to tell me whats on his mind. He starts with is lack of appreciation for the fact that I have moved The Baby’s car seat into the space where his use to be. He is also unhappy about the fact that I attended Big Brother’s honors award ceremony. He is upset that Saturday is Valentines Day, and I have not yet given him his Valentines Day surprise!

At this point I am feeling very badly that he is so upset by the many changes that have come about in his little corner of the world. I am also annoyed with myself for forgetting Valentine’s Day. February is always a strange month for me. Truth be told I hate this month! I have also been very preoccupied with all the craziness in my corner of the world and obviously dropped the ball with Little Man. I explained to him that the reason I moved The Baby’s car seat into his spot was so  that I could see him better while I was driving. I told him the only reason I went to Big Brother’s award ceremony was because neither of his parents could be there. Then I take his little hands into mine, and I tell him I am sorry. I explain that my life has been a little hectic and that even though I had forgotten that Saturday was Valentines Day I could never forget him. Then I ask him if there is anything I can do to make this up to him.

Little Man who is sweet by nature and smiling at me he says” It’s okay I forgive you it’s only Wednesday so we aren’t late yet for Valentines Day. We can still do something special! How about a Valentines Day date? You could give me a surprise then.” I tell him that’s a great idea, and that I could pick him (and only him) up on Friday so he doesn’t have to go to after care. He very much liked this idea, but I can see that he still has something on his mind.

He looks up at me again this time taking my hands into his and says “And can you get The Baby’s car seat out of my spot?” 😉

Little Man’s Super Powers (G-uno)

Little mans insight on most any subject matter is never anything less than fascinating. His super power is Autism which often masquerades the fact that he is constantly in tune with everything around him. He is the proverbial book you should not judge by the cover. His super power gives the illusion that he is some how unable to focus on anything other than whatever he is most drawn to at the moment, but I can assure you nothing could be farther from the truth!

Being his “Super Hero Activity Assistant” has been an educational experience like no other in my life. If you get past the cover on this little book you find that it is our world that is illogical not his. Holding eye contact is something that he has to constantly struggle to maintain. He once told me that he thought that it was a really bad idea to try to get kids with super powers to do this because you really don’t listen with your eyes. I explained that for those of us without a super power use our eyes to listen, and help figure out what someone who is struggling with words wants to say. His reply was then send those people to speech therapy instead of me. His logic essentially was that  we were trying to change the person who understood the purpose of having eyes and ears to pander to the way the majority of people intake communication. Nothing like being “schooled” by an eight year old, but you have to admit he had a valid point!

In my humble opinion we as a society are making a huge mistake by pandering to the majority masses. I think that it is rather arrogant to decide that the only perspective that matters is the majority rule. Not to mention the fact that we never even consider the possibility that the majority may be wrong. I feel that children/adults who have “super powers ” ( I don’t like to label characteristics I do not fully understand in a negative way, I prefer the term super power), may in fact be ahead of their time in evolutionary development! I will go further to say that certain mental conditions we label as illness may actually be the beginning of a new evolutionary development as well.

I am in no way advocating that we drop therapy, I am just trying to point out that people who have super powers are indeed given the impression by society that there is something wrong with them! I feel that being misunderstood is difficult enough, but being misunderstood with a whopping side order of something is wrong with you is not only incorrect, but a form of “stone-age” cruelty! I marvel at Little Man because deep down inside I know he feels sorry for those of us without super powers. He is forced to adapt to a world that hasn’t caught up to his intelligence level, but he seems to hold out hope that someday we will catch up. 😉

Naughty Or Nice List For Little Man & His Brothers (G-uno)

It’s eight o’clock in the morning, and Little Man is shrieking at the top of his lungs “I don’t like this baby let’s just give him away!” Big brother with a bowl of cereal in hand standing just outside the downstairs bathroom is laughing so hard  that milk and cereal are spewing out of his mouth. I stand by my theory that the Baby, and Big Brother have a secret alliance against Little Man. Dad is mortified, but relieved to see me standing in front of him because he should have already been on his way to the office fifteen minutes ago.

I motion for Dad to go. I look inside the bathroom (the Baby is completely satisfied) watching Little Man shrieking, pacing, cursing his very existence. I look a little closer, and I see that Little Man’s favorite light-up tennis shoes floating in the toilet. Little Man is eight years old and his super power is Autism. Routine is key in helping him deal with life’s everyday issues so seeing his favorite shoes floating in the toilet while his brothers are laughing at him is a major catastrophe in his world.

I stare the alliance down with a stern look, and say to Little Man “We can not give the baby away, but we can put him on the “Naughty List” along with anyone who is an accomplice to this bad behavior!” Now I realize the baby has no idea what the “Naughty List” is because he is only two years old. My goal was to get the attention of Big Brother who is nine, and has had his Christmas list done since before Halloween. I know that Little Man will stop shrieking if he hears that retribution is on its way.

Big Brother immediately begins to protest that he did not put his brother’s favorite shoes in the toilet. I am pleased because my plan to weaken the alliance is working, a divide and conquer technique that comes in handy when the alliance has a strong hold on Little Man. I tell Big brother that in the eyes of the law he is an accomplice to this crime since he is participating in the torture of his middle brother. I then add that there is still time to redeem yourself from the “Naughty List” by heading out to the kitchen to finish your breakfast. I also suggest that he could clean up some of the mess in the kitchen as a kind of insurance policy with Santa.

Little Man is still pacing, furious with the very self-satisfied Baby, but somewhat more calm by the fact that Big Brother has stopped laughing at him. He also likes the idea that Big Brother will have to clean up the mess, he helped to make in the kitchen. I also think he was secretly hoping that Big Brother would wake up Christmas morning to no packages under the tree. Little Man then says “What about him, please can we just give him away?” I reassure him that the Baby will not get by with his heinous crime. Little Man is staring at me intent on seeing the Baby get his punishment. To appease him I tell him that I am certain that Santa will take away one of the presents that the baby was hoping to find under the tree on Christmas morning.

I proceed to remove his shoes from the toilet assuring him we can wash them twice for good measure. He watches me, and I notice he his deeply thinking about everything I have said. He now looks a little sad. Little Man has a kind gentle heart, he is by nature a compassionate little fellow. He now feels badly that his brother is on the “Naughty List.” He does not want the Baby to miss out on getting one of his presents. He doesn’t want his brother to be on the “Naughty List!” So he looks up at me with his beautiful brown eyes full of concern, and says “Can we just throw his favorite shoes in the toilet?” 😉

A Visit From “The Cat In The Hat” AKA-Little Man (G-uno)

It was a cold, wet, rainy day, as Little Man and I sat at his dinning room table staring out the window. It occurred to me that we looked just like the two characters from Dr.Seuss’ book “The Cat In The Hat” so I looked at Little man and started to attempt quoting the first page, “The Sun did not shine…” He is incredibly smart, and immediately gets the humor in our situation. Smiling at me he tells me to wait one minute he will be right back. He then dashes up the stairs to his room. Thoroughly intrigued I stayed right there in my seat has he had requested.

Then looking up at the stairway I see his feet, he is wearing black fuzzy slippers and I see what looks like the bottom of a tail. He can hardly contain his own amusement at what he is about to show me, he is giggling all the way down the staircase, dressed as “The Cat In The Hat.” I tell him “Little Man I love your costume!” He replied ” I don’t know who Little man is. I am The Cat In The Hat.” He reaches the bottom of the stairs with his tail dragging behind him and his red & white stripped hat and says ” I hope your ready for a wacky day.”

My assigned role was the character “Sally” and I also was asked to play the part of grumpy fish when needed. Little Man is eight years old, and has Autism, he also possesses the incredible ability remember everything he reads! His attention to detail is uncanny, so convincing him that his parents might not have my same appreciation for his desire to reenact the cats havoc on the household was no small feat. We did however come to a suitable compromise. I agreed to let him turn as many items as he could upside-down, as long as he promised to return things to their proper order before his parents returned home. After all that is what “The Cat In The Hat” did. 😉

All Hail The New King! Introducing “Little Man’s” Baby Brother (G-uno)

“The Baby” is without doubt claiming all rights to being the center of attention in his family, this absolutely drives “Little Man” crazy! After all he has been the reigning king for a solid six years. I have a theory that “Big Brother” who had to give up his (entirely too short) reign as the king to “Little Man” has formed a secret alliance with “The Baby” as a form of pay back. “Big Brother” has a close bond with “The Baby.” I honestly can not discern if it’s because he is embracing his role as the oldest, or if the babies incredible talent to torture the middle one (Little Man) brings him a great source of pleasure.

“The Baby” is small for his age, and is incredibly easy on the eyes. The only large physical feature on this child is his huge beautiful blue eyes. Each of the brothers can be described as handsome little men, and yet all three have a very different look. The baby has sandy light brown hair, and a very fair complexion. The face of a “Gerber Baby,” and seems to understand that he could charm the Devil into turning the A.C. on in Hell. We are talking about some serious face power, brought on by his delay in mastering speech. Although  he is exceedingly smart he is extensively delayed in  his ability to speak. Have no fear though “The Baby” has mastered the ability to communicate his point!

I suspect that when you are incredibly smart the inability to express your intelligence with words can build up a little internal fury. Believe me in this particular case dynamite does come in small packages, and “The Baby” has a short fuse. You can literally see the wheels turning in his head when he realizes someone is not quick enough to understand his demand, and he is devising a way to speed up their learning curve. I am blessed with the ability to pick up on his desires more quickly than most. This is my saving grace in our relationship. He likes this about me, and it makes me quite useful in his very busy little existence.

“Little Man” has Autism, and like “The Baby” his ability to master speech was very delayed. The parents have made the very smart decision to have the baby begin speech therapy. This is yet another area where “The Baby” has unknowingly replaced “Little Man.” I was hired to be” Little Man’s” personal assistant, over time we have developed a very close bond so he resents “The Baby “for not only taking his place in speech therapy, but for the fact that he has to share HIS assistant. I also miss my time with “Little Man,” but I am so proud that he has made such great progress in his therapies that he really does not require my constant assistance.

I must also admit that I can hardly contain my curiosity about “The Baby.” I am thoroughly amused by the new reigning king, and his antics. All I can say to you is “All Hail The New King” he was born to make an impression in this world! 😉

Therapy With Little Man (G-uno)

I was facing the glass door where “Little Man” will enter the room.This is a moment I always look forward to because as soon as his intense little roving eyes spot me, he displays a smile that simply melts me. Little Man is eight years old. He is Autistic, and I am his personal assistant. He is quite small for his age, and has been handed a very difficult journey in this life. I call him “Little Man” because of his ability to handle his many disabilities.

His parents are amazing! They noticed very early that their second child was not reacting to this world with the same ease as their first child. His ability to speak, his coordination, and physical development were not appropriate for his age. He seemed unable to reach the milestones that other babies his age seemed to easily grasp. They described it as him being lost somewhere in between two worlds. They immediately sought help at a prominent children’s hospital. Parents who have children with special needs are not only faced with their particular needs, but are overwhelmed with extraordinary cost of getting their children help.

Even though great accomplishments in the treatment of Autism have been made, it is an extremely complicated diagnosis. The spectrum for Autism is vast, and each child has very specific needs. Many share similar issues. The sooner a child is able to receive therapy the better their chances are at learning techniques to improve the quality of their lives. Early diagnosis can also help parents with the ever rising costs involved with therapy.

My time with “Little Man” can be bitter sweet for me. I have a brother who is also Autistic. Unfortunately he was born at a time when very little was known about Autism. He like so many others was viewed as an odd child. He was very misunderstood. The emotional scars are deep, and his life was severely altered simply by being born at the wrong time. This is the bitter part for me. The sweet part is seeing that there is a growing awareness of Autism. We have a long way to go in this field but amazing accomplishments are being made.

I have been given the extraordinary opportunity to see this progression. A front row seat to Little Man’s journey. It has in many ways helped me to overcome the scars I share from witnessing the treatment of my brother. Little Man and I have developed  a bond that I lack the talent to fully explain. I will tell you this though, I fully understand that this Little Man’s purpose in life is to change the lives of everyone he comes in contact with in the very best way.