10.31.2003

But Not For Me

Poor Leelo. His snorfles and coughs have gotten so bad that he's going to have to miss the Halloween festivities at Ep's house. Seymour and Iz will once again be the family delegates.

I snapped some quick pictures right before Iz left or else we'd have no evidence that Ella Devil walked the earth on this dark evening (although by that time she'd become Ella the one-horned kitty cat devil ballerina princess). Tried to get some pictures of Superhero Leelo with Miss Ella, but he was hating his cape and not being compliant. Then again, a blurry action shot is probably the most appropriate depiction of a caped crusader.

Anyhow, the poor little bit is stuck home again, with a mommy who sings 30's and 40's love songs all day even after repeated pleas of "No sing! Mommy no sing!" I can't help it if I'm In The Mood For Love is within my range. It's such a swoony song and I have limited control over the tunes-spewing portion of my brain, so five seconds after I stop it bubbles up again. IMHO he should be grateful that I've finally shaken off The Golden Vanity. Iz didn't seem to mind my warbling. She asked me why I like the first song so much and I told her it reminds me of her father (that would be Seymour).

Iz: You love him a lot?

Squid: Yes, I really do. He's dreamy.

Iz: You like it when he gives you that good lovin'?

Squid: (WHAT THE HELL?!?!?!?!?) Um, yes. I love him a lot. (Briskly) Time to put your devil tail back on!

Lovely Water

Ah, blessed rain. Too bad it had to start on Halloween, but after watching a good part of San Diego burn this weekend, I'm more than happy for the heavens to dump on my dead, dry, highly combustible yard (do you want to rake a steeply graded quarter acre of oak leaves and poison oak? Neither do I).

Leelo woke up with an uncontrollably runny nose. This usually makes me fret about escalations into ear infections, but after the drain of this past week I am delighted for him to miss his usual appointments and for us to have four hours to fart about at home. We never get this time together any more, except for the occasional rushed lunch hour. The intrusion of his ABA program into my home and daily life is a source of considerable stress for me--I need a lot of adult-free chill time, and used to get it during our two or three free mornings a week. Now I get it NEVER, so lolling about with my little guy this morning has been particularly sweet.

Turns out the stomach bug I gave my brother reamed him out so badly and protractedly that he missed his window to visit us. Bummer, but again I am happy for the break. We'll see him and Maggie at Thanksgiving anyhow.

Leelo ran up and handed me his toy bird a few minutes ago. It was very important that I see the bird, apparently--he looked into my eyes with all the effort he could muster, as though he could will me to understand what he was thinking. We then spent some time making bird sounds, which was probably not exactly what he wanted, but was enough to get a giggle. A real giggle, not the gibbering monkey giggle that signals that our boy has left the building. A very nice morning indeed.

10.30.2003

Feeling Devilish

Pink sparkly horns-sporting Iz to handsomely coiffed and dressed kid store clerk: "...and I'm going to be a devil ballerina princess for Halloween!"

Clerk (to me): "Is that because she couldn't make up her mind?"

Iz (to clerk): "No, I am a DEVIL BALLERINA PRINCESS. I live in Devil Land with my three sisters. I only wear pink, except my tail is red."

Clerk (to me): "Aren't they cute at this age when they're so imaginative?"

Iz (to clerk): "Ghosts are actually people who died. Did you know that?"

Clerk: "Oh, my. Ahem." (silence)

10.29.2003

Hate. Being. Busy.

Decided against posting about the mountain biking misadventures of this past weekend. No time to dwell on pissiness; too much to do. I can't even describe how busy these past two days have been and this week will continue to be as it is SO BORING to anyone who's not me. My friends who get things done, I don't understand how they do it and probably never will. My victory for the day will be remembering to wash underoos so that we're not all breezy in the morning (thankfully Iz likes few things better than going commando under her jammies).

My brother JD and his girlfriend Maggie are going to be staying with us for a few days starting tomorrow. I wonder if they realize they'll be in a child-full house for Hallowe'en? Well, it'll be part of the experience they say they're after--their stated goal is for us to teach them the wonders and practical aspects of child rearing, since they managed to knock themselves up a few months back. (For anyone who's counting, that's three out-of-wedlock births among four siblings. Who says we Catholics don't know how to have fun?)

Today I dragged a squadron of mommies and spawn out to Bob's, The Best Pumpkin Patch Ever. It is on a hillside overlooking the ocean--but wait, in between the patch and the ocean is a huge field full of lowing cows. The patch itself is of the pick-where-they-grow variety, so many pumpikins still have twisty dry leaves attached to them. It is also huge--about two acres--so the kids can run and run and run and hopefully still hear you yell at them. On one side is a 20 foot high hay bale pyramid for the tots to climb, and below it is a mellow petting zoo. The whole dealie turns golden as the sun sets behind the cows. Then the ambient temperature drops by 20 degrees and everyone scuttles off--but not before some of us take advantage of the day-before-the-day-before Halloween sale and run off with a full wheelbarrel of pumpkins for $20.

Today may have been the first time Leelo realized roosters are real--he ran up to petting zoo's nice healthy birds and started yelling "cock-a-doodle doo!" Rah! Iz has been great about getting him to practice his animal sounds, even if she does get overenthusiastically loud and in his face sometimes.

10.28.2003

Back Home Thank You Very Much

I am still livid about today's mountain bike happenings, and so will post about that after I've cooled down a bit. Random bits instead, to give you the general flavor of my mood:

My parents' home was and is still very far from the fires--they are fortunate. Still, the ash and air quality in their area were so gnarly that a police officer wearing a surgical mask barred us from a neighborhood playground. Slunk back home with the screaming disappointed kids and found my poor mom wracked by the same dreaded GI bug that smacked me around again this A.M., oh joy. All told, we spent day three trapped inside my parents' Dr. Seuss-designed condo and felt very lucky to have a roof over our heads. Then it was off to catch our plane.

People who give into their kids' nagging are complete fuckheads and drive me nuts, since they couldn't do a better job of training their kids to be tenacious manipulators. Got to witness lots of kids working that mommy mommy candy candy please please no please no please no please okay fine action while we were stuck at the San Diego airport for FOUR HOURS this evening. I'll tell you, though, the urge to give into a girl who will not ever back down or shut up and will natter on at you full-force for seven hours straight can be overwhelming. I usually end up flailing for ultimatums whenever she goes deep into not-listening territory:

"Stand right there, put your hands against that wall and don't move a muscle. Don't even talk"

"Can I blink my eyes? That's moving muscles"

to self: "Goddammit"
to Iz: "Try not to. No talking"

"What about my fingers?"

"Did you hear me? No talking!"

"Can I breathe? That's moving muscles"

to self: "Goddammit"
to Iz: "You can breathe. But you need to stop talking now because I'm starting to get angry. Look at my eyes. Do you want me to be really angry?"

"No, mommy. I'm sorry. Can we go to McDevil's on the way home?"

to self: "AIIIIIGH!!!!"

I ended up giving her the silent treatment, where I will interact with but will not speak to her for five minutes. Then we gave "good listening" another try and it went much more smoothly (e.g., walking with me to the shuttle bus rather than playing hopscotch as I push Leelo in the stroller and juggle a roller bag, two car seats, and a backpack). I fucking hate being cornered into that kind of punitive parenting, but she is exasperating. And it is getting increasingly difficult to remember that the little girl pressing her nose to the airplane window and yelling out "I can see the curvature of the earth!" is, emotionally, very much four years old.

On to Leelo. He is doing well, and we seem to have our boy back. Lots of great eye contact and minimal nuttiness. If he does start getting nutty, I say "no crazies!" and he laughs and parrots back "no crazies!" He's attempting to construct sentences using "don't want," but can't quite grasp the logistics. He's starting to imitate Iz's sentences. Nice!

Soooo bushed. Nap time, sleepy time, jammie time too! (How much Playhouse Disney did we watch this weekend? Don't ask, don't even ask.)

10.26.2003

Fire Update

Seymour and Floyd ignored our pleas and went out mountain biking anyhow. When they arrived at the park, it was on fire.

We're stuck in San Diego

With black smoky skies, a cancelled flight, and fires that are edging closer and making my mom completely freak out. So, no playgroup, ABA therapy, or school tomorrow as our rescheduled flight doesn't get in until late Monday evening.

We arrived in San Diego Friday night. Leelo has some pre-dawn barfing that A.M., but he's a life-long barfer so we don't usually interrupt our schedule for these incidents; we just clean him up and go. He seemed fine all day long, through speech therapy and his ABA session with Therapist L. No reason to delay our trip.

We headed off to the airport (the two kids and I), and arrived just as Leelo began a six hour tantrum. I am not kidding. He screamed and thrashed from the time we got through security, through the entire flight, through the entire car ride home from the airport (until the last 10 minutes, when he crashed out), upon waking up and finding himself in his grandparents' home 30 minutes later, for another particularly intense hour, all the way to the urgent care clinic, and for an additional hour in the waiting room there. Then, 10 minutes before we were admitted, he calmed down, for no reason I could perceive. I had completely lost it by this time, since Leelo never tantrum for more than 30 seconds, and was micrometers from tears and howling myself. What if his ear tubes had fallen out, and the air pressure changes during the flight ruptured his inner ear workings? What about meningitis? Severe sinus infections? Brain tumors? The good people at the ER poked, prodded, and shrugged. No idea, he looks fine to us, go home, lady.

In the meantime Seymour and Floyd had arrived, and they plus my parents and Iz had wandered over to a local Italian joint for dinner. I met them there, proclaimed eminent domain over all alcohol due to my stress level, and polished off everyone's wine plus a new glass of my own. Afterwards we all went home, put the kids to bed, and crashed. Seymour and I crashed a bit later than the kids.

(There is something slightly naughty about doing the deed in your parents' house. Even after marriage and kids, it still feels like you're getting away with something. Or so I thought, until halfway through our very social morning when I looked down and noticed that my pajama pants were on inside out.)

Leelo and I slept in very late. I awoke, stretched, yawned, sat up, and almost passed out. What the hell? Turns out that Iz and I (and Leelo the day before, giving that day's hysterics an explanation) had contracted the dreaded stomach bug that had laid Seymour low on Monday. Iz spent the entirety of yesterday barfing, and was eventually given her very own pink plastic bucket so that my mom didn't have to shampoo the carpet every hour. I had the opposite-ended problem, jack-rabbiting into the nearest powder room every 20 minutes, and couldn't eat or drink anything. Thankfully Leelo seemed to be over his dealie, and was a happy boy for all the various friends and relatives getting in his face. While all this was going on, the poor Little Flower was the victim of interminable flight delays in Phoenix, and didn't get in until 8 hours later than she'd intended. None of these horrors prevented Seymour and Floyd from jetting off on their mountain biking expedition, though. Twits.

This morning we all feel better, but San Diego is decidedly worse. We woke to ash drifting down from the sky. If you'd had to judge the weather conditions at a glance, you'd say it was snowing--a weird, dirty snow. The sun is huge and red, and you can look directly at if you want to see the solar flares. My brother called this morning as he was driving from San Diego to Phoenix, to let us know that he could see houses burning from the freeway. My mom is about to gather up all her photo albums. We're not supposed to leave the house unless we have to (and I have to, Leelo is out of his funky rice bread and eats nothing else), aren't even supposed to run major appliances or use extra water or more than one TV. So I guess I'll sign off now.

10.23.2003

I'm Supposed To Be Packing

Floyd talked Seymour into a San Diego mountain biking weekend, and we're all coming along for the trip. Why not--my folks are letting us stay with them, and only a fool would skip free babysitting. And, just in case it comes across differently while I'm bitching and moaning--I like my folks. Plus we'll get to see Floyd's adorable wife, The Little Flower, for the first time since February (the bastards moved to Phoenix two years ago. Something about houses costing half as much as the average down payments around here). Seymour told me not to worry about his being almost out of clean underwear as he was going to be wearing mountain biking shorts all weekend anyhow. Ewwww.

Leelo's doing okay today. Still slightly nutty, but after various experimentations I believe the juice theory carries the most weight. He's also resumed asking to squeeze "Mommy's elbow"--his standard self-soothing tic--instead of running around clacking two matching items together, which is his coping tic during regressions.

Lately he seems to be cluing in to how much time he spends away from me, and instead with the various therapists, He has been very clingy this week, and has been commanding the therapists to go "Bye-Bye!" upon arrival. Last night our babysitter put him to bed, as I had run off for an evening with MYSELF. He started wandering the house this morning at 5 A.M., crying for Mommy. Poor little bit. I let him fall asleep in the office bed next to me tonight, and he is a happy little bugger indeed.

Iz has decided to be Ella the devil ballerina princess for Halloween. Um, okay. Anyone have a pink tutu they're not using? She wants Leelo to be Kal-El. Her reasoning being that I got him a red cape, Superman wears a red cape, and Superman's name was still Kal-El when he was Leelo's age.

Anyhow, off to SD in the morning. Here's something to play with while I'm gone:

I have issues with...
broken
drugs
porn
discipline
camping
Take Word Association Test

Notes. On Music.

Because Badger is writing about music and I am a copycat.

It would be impossible to convey the surreality of hearing No Doubt performing It's My Life. Unless you went to my high school. There's some full circle looping for you.

Why the hell can't I buy Elvis Costello CDs that recreate my youthful listening experiences? Why do I have to take on 20 or 30 tracks that I don't give a fuck about since they weren't originally on that album?

I am so glad that Fishbone is finally getting the airplay they deserve.

10.22.2003

Cheap Therapy

No offense to Dee's two degrees or Jo’s mom, but I’m not a big fan of therapy. I tried it thrice and didn’t get much out of it besides a whole lot of "So, what do YOU think?" In each case my issues arose from stupid habits like hanging on to jobs I despised. When I lost the habits, the issues went with them. The therapists, bless their earnest little hearts, had little to do with it.

(If you have any sort of affection for me, you might not want to read the rest of this post. I, however, need to purge this crap so that I can get to work.)

Lately my mental scene’s been a bit trickier, as I’ve been grappling with scenarios less superficial than whether or not to barf after dinner. Or pondering them, really--to be grappling with them I’d have to be actively engaged. That is the real issue.

I used to drop by Plain Layne sometimes, before she opted out of blogging [Ed. note: she was back about two days later]. Her space was never dull, not with Josh and Ryan leading the commenting chorus. She hooked me with posts about her birth mother and taking in a young mother and baby. Good stuff. But what really got me was her straightforwardness, and the way she could crystallize her emotional state in two or three sentences. She seemed to write from her core. I want a core!

I am extraordinarily jealous of people like her who can harness their innermost emotions and thoughts. Maybe I surround myself with these beings and gorge myself on their writings to make up for my own deficits. (If you are reading this, then it is likely that you are one of the hosts I parasitize.) Impossible to explain how exciting it is to be with people who have great pulsing plasma clouds of intellect and fury suspended over their heads, whose every word crackles with energy. Too bad I don’t know how to have a non-superficial conversation with them--my energy tapping process could be streamlined.

My own core just isn’t there. Well, maybe it is--I don’t know. But if I dig down I hit a tough, fibrous sheath, and whatever’s inside is alien to me. I’ve never bothered to break through. Never needed to, until now. On the off chance that it contains a magical source of strength and endurance, I need to break it open. I need to do it now. People are depending on me. So my fingers are the hammers, the keys my chisels. Chip, chip, clickety chip.

Here’s how the sheath works: it’s a network of my basest and purest emotions. They stay so tightly woven that I can’t wrest them free, nor can new ones find purchase. This means that, from what I can tell, I am a cold and calculating person for whom much of life is an interesting sociological experiment.

There are exceptions, of course. Nuclear torpedoes like coming home from a party at which a dear friend hadn’t shown up, and being told by my mom (ER nurse, plugged into such things) that the friend had swallowed a shotgun blast. Anger. Quick on that one if someone is fucking with my family or friends, or assholes are making decisions whose effects they can’t possibly comprehend (those fuckheads who got the "partial birth" abortion ban passed had best pray they’re at least fifty feet away if I ever get my hands on a red-hot poker). But usually, I’m observing rather than connecting.

Probably the best example of my onlooker’s approach to life happened during college, when two boys let me juggle them for over a year. I couldn’t believe they’d let me switch back and forth every few weeks, but they never turned me away. It was fascinating, to a bent girl. The power of sex? Again, I don’t know.

One boy was an ass and a loser, and in his case I’m not sorry. But the other was a sweet, funny physics boy who offered to stand up as the father of my child after the ass’s condom broke and I got knocked up and the ass tried to sue me for custody. (The baby was born a month early, so the ass found out too late that his 30 day window to prevent the child’s adoption had closed.) Ah, physics boy, I hope you and your rheometers are well.

Emotional remove did not serve my family well in Leelo’s case. This is not happening, this is not happening, this is not happening, for months and months and months. Wasted months. Were they critical? Did we miss our window? Since the medical and psychology communities know fuck-all about the causes of autism, we’ll probably never find out.

And now the hand grenade, the reason I need to crack open my chest and rally: My wee seven-year-old second cousin needs help.

[several paragraphs deleted]

It looks like the next step is the one that gets us actively involved, the one that we can’t take back, the one that commits us [deletions]. The one I need that magical core for. Chip, chip, chip. There'd better be something inside.

http://enemyster.blogspot.com/

Ohhhhh...so good, so delicious! Gonna get me some more as soon as I finish writing this sentence.

10.21.2003

Néctar de los dioses

Wyoming came over us like a tropical storm tonight, intent on raiding our prickly pear patch. We didn't have all that many fruits this year, so she compensated for making off with the entire crop by cooking us dinner (nopales, por supuesto). Then she whipped up fresh pr!ckly pear margar!tas. Drool, drool, quaff, then fall over drunk. Divine.

No ascorbic acid for 24 hours now, and Leelo seems to be coming down. He was only semi-crazy today, and his work sessions were short, but when he was focused he was doing wonderful work and speaking well. We also cut off the magnesium glycinate for now since it contains sucralose and we think it contributed to the regression.

Tomorrow is Leelo's 10 week program eval (amazing that his full-blown ABA program has only been in place that long). We will be discussing preschool options then. I'd really prefer for him to attend a regular preschool with an aide, but I may be kidding myself on that one. He is not a compliant boy in group settings; six months in his small-group language school and he still doesn't really get their highly structured and consistent circle time. He may need to stay in a communication-focused school for now.

Iz is all riled up about something. It may be all the attention Leelo got for the photo shoot yesterday, even though JM was stealth photojournalist guy. Seymour said she's expressed some worries about being orphaned. This, along with some other hints she's dropped, has made me realize that she's plowing though the books at her school, absorbing all sorts of stories without her control freak mom monitoring content (the school has a lot of crappy, useless Disney and other Brand books). Spent some time tonight discussing how many stories (Cinderella, etc.) have many different tellings, and that the Disney one is usually simpler and happier and possibly lamer than the others. I can only wonder what else she's wondering about.

Regardless, she's having deliberate accidents in this her third year of being toilet trained, which is what she does when she's not getting a high enough dose of attention. So I read her an entire Eloise story as a bedtime treat, even though I'd rather have a sander strapped to my head (Eloise is fun to read silently and a massive pain to read out loud). Tomorrow I will be the Good Mom who doesn't yell and who listens with all her heart and who achieves all this by virtue of a healthy dose of quality sleep for the first time in weeks.

Who's a Namby-Pamby Wussy-Assed Big Suck? That Would Be Me.

As if you needed proof...

uni
You are Form 3, Unicorn: The Innocent.

"And The Unicorn knew she wasn't meant to
go into the Dark Wood. Disregarding the advice
given to her by the spirits, Unicorn went
inside and bled silver blood.. For her
misdeed, the world knew evil."


Some examples of the Unicorn Form are Eve
(Christian) and Pandora (Greek).
The Unicorn is associated with the concept of
innocence, the number 3, and the element of
water.
Her sign is the twilight sun.

As a member of Form 3, you are a curious
individual. You are drawn to new things and
become fascinated with ideas you've never come
in contact with before. Some people may say
you are too nosey, but it's only because you
like getting to the bottom of things and
solving them. Unicorns are the best friends to
have because they are inquisitive.


Which Mythological Form Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Blame Fluffy if you don't like your results.

In....The Basement

(Pee Wee's Big Adventure reference, FYI.)

Rah for me, I'm stuck down in the basement yet again listening to Leelo refuse to go along with Therapist F's efforts (he keeps saying "Bye Bye, Therapist F!", which makes her feel like the dog's breakfast, but she understands that it's a big leap, communication-wise). However, I now have an excellent etching hanging on the wall behind this monitor, and can pretend I'm lounging in a cabin overlooking the most picturesque part of our coast. With the time and mental energy to shake some coherent thoughts and images out of my head and onto paper.

10.20.2003

Leelo Post: Overload

There is just so much shit going on with Leelo that I have to spew it out here, or sit on the roof and howl. Which might confuse the coyotes. We've got good, we've got bad. We've got a humongous entry. Go get some coffee.

Leelo has been a crazy boy since last Wednesday. So much so that we had to cancel his Thursday therapy sessions. His schedule, supplement regimen, and diet are constantly fluctuating, making it hard to pin down any one cause (though it's amusing to read all those accounts of parents painstakingly introducing one modification per week so as to record results--we don't have time for that shit). I think his regression is due to either the addition of Ascorbic Acid (last Tuesday) or having to up his pear juice/sugar intake to mask all those foul-tasting supplements.

To get the official opinion, I called Leelo's DAN/biomedical doctor. He said that Leelo's marked reaction means our boy didn't get properly desensitized to Ascorbic Acid, even though the BioSet practitioner said Leelo was clear. Dr. P implied that the not-his-wife BioSet practitioner (who has been working with Leelo lately) may not be as good as his own wife the BioSet practitioner, and that we should have the wife redo the Ascorbic Acid desensitization. I'm skeptical of the whole you-should-really-give-my-wife-more-money thang, but am okay with two fewer pills per day for now.

The boy's oral tendencies are also getting out of hand. He's always got to have something in his mouth, which lately means chewing and sucking on his clothes. I'm wondering if maybe he has some sore teeth or cavities---he really really hates getting his teeth brushed, and refuses to open wide enough for me to have a good look--but don't really want to think about that as there's no way he can go to a regular dentist. One more thing for the list: find an autistic-kid friendly dentist.

Another to-do item is getting Leelo a neurological exam. Somehow I missed that one, or blocked it out. Temple Grandin's excellent book Thinking in Pictures suggests that kids like Leelo who "aren't there" or space out a lot may be experiencing low-grade but brain-damaging seizures. On re-reading Stephen Edelson's essay about what he would do if his child was diagnosed with autism, I realized that the neurological exam was one of his first action items. Fine, fine, fine. More fun to fit in his schedule.

But hey, we had a schedule victory today, to my amazement and delight: the occupational therapist who evaluated Leelo two weeks ago has an opening in her schedule during the only slot we could possibly manage. Hurrah! This takes the edge off her report, which rated most of Leelo's physical abilities as between one and two years delayed. He got no points for being a speed demon, which is totally unfair.

His speediness was not entirely a good thing today either, as it was an all-day, Leelo-centric photo shoot and many shots were missed. My friend JM the kick-ass photographer documented Leelo's doings from before they boy woke up until he got put to bed the first three times. The results will be made into a book, just as they were for Iz two years ago. (Write me if you'd like to see the online version.)

As the day wound down, JM rather hesitantly asked if we had had a typical day. No, I assured him, we don't go through that every day. I mean, every Monday means driving Leelo across town for school and then back home for one therapy session and then lunch and then another therapy session and then a facilitated playgroup with Iz and R and then our crazy Monday playgroup, etc. But, on a regular Monday Seymour isn't up all night being ill, I have help getting the kids fed and dressed, Seymour drives Iz to school, Leelo isn't too nutty to attend to his therapists, Seymour isn't lying in bed too weak to attend to his own needs, and Iz doesn't have a sugar-induced meltdown during playgroup (my fault, I brought Halloween cookies). An exhausting day. JM might be rethinking any yearnings for squallers of his own.

The coda to Leelo's day is the encouraging report below, written by Supervisor M. I gripe about her sometimes, but she is a phenomenal program director. If she had delivered this report in person, I would have kissed her feet.


LEELO ROSENBERG: Summary Progress Report and 10-Week Program Review

STUDENT: Leelo Rosenberg
DATE OF BIRTH: 11/09/00
PARENTS: Squid and Seymour Rosenberg
DATE OF REPORT: 10/22/03

BACKGROUND
Leelo is a 2 year 11 month old boy who was formally diagnosed by the Regional Center as having mild to moderate social language delays, and is considered to have autism. He lives with his mother and father and four-year-old sister. Due to chronic ear infections, he had tubes placed in his ears in April 2003. Since that time, he has also been attending group language and play therapy with clinician A.M. at Associated Learning and Language. An initial educational evaluation for intensive autism services was conducted in June 2003 by Spectrum Center. Since August 2003, Leelo has been participating in an intensive Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) program designed to facilitate learning in children with autism.

PROGRAM SUMMARY
When Leelo began the program he had a limited attention span of about 30 seconds for most activities, and was not responsive to his name or to simple directions. The initial program has focused heavily on increasing his attention span, and his attention to language and actions of his therapists, parents, and other people in his environment. In addition, emphasis is placed on facilitating his verbal communication, beginning with making requests and social greetings. Further, program features and instruction have been designed to promote generalization of Leelo’s skills as they are developing. Leelo receives up to 24 hours per week of instruction. Instructional procedures include Discrete Trial Training (DTT), Natural Language Paradigm (NLP), incidental teaching methods, and a facilitated play group. In addition to ongoing supervision, data analysis and program revision, other components of the Leelo’s program include bi-monthly team meetings with parent, both therapists, and program coordinator; 12 hours of initial training for therapists, family, and friends; quality assurance by an outside expert; cross-professional communication with therapists/teachers in other settings; prospective placement consultation. (See program components chart below).
    LEELO ROSENBERG’S INTENSIVE EDUCATION PROGRAM COMPONENTS
  • Intensive Instruction up to 23 hours/week

  • Facilitated Play Group 30-45 minutes/week

  • Program Supervision (includes ongoing coaching, data analysis, and program revision) up to 5 hours/week
  • Team Meetings 2 hours/month

  • Initial Training 12 hours

  • Quality Assurance up to 4 hours/month

  • Cross-Professional Communication (includes observations) up to 2 hours/month

  • Preschool Placement Observations 2 hours


Since the beginning of program 10 weeks ago, Leelo has mastered 33 items. His mastery data suggests he is responding to DTT instructional methodology.

In general, Leelo learns new tasks best when a sequence of ‘most to least’ prompts is implemented and systematically faded. That is, therapists initially provide Leelo with the most intensive level of prompt, ensuring his correct response. After a specific number of trials, depending on Leelo’s response, they fade back to lesser prompts, eventually eliminating the prompts while maintaining Leelo’s correct responding.

As Leelo has become increasingly responsive to instruction, his need for many trials with additional prompts has been reduced. This is evidenced in his mastery data below. Whereas tasks introduced in the beginning of the program often required one to two months of instruction, with slow and systematic prompt fading, more recently Leelo is mastering new tasks in three or four days.

TASK DESCRIPTIONS: Tasks and instructional procedures are described below. Tasks are considered mastered when Leelo responds correctly to the direction without any additional prompts, the tasks are presented in an interspersed fashion, or mixed with other tasks, and the tasks are presented in a DTT setting, unless otherwise specified.

A. Greetings: In discrete trial setting, therapist says ‘hi (student’s name)’ and student responds ‘Hi (therapist’s name)’. In generalization context, when seeing therapist, student initiates ‘Hi (therapist’s name)’. Leelo may echo therapist’s initiation, so therapists have used echo prompt procedure and systematic fading, using a time delay. Leelo has mastered responding ‘hi’ and ‘bye’ in a discrete trial setting, and has mastered responding with a name ‘Hi L___’ and ‘Bye L____’ in a discrete trial setting. He is working on initiating greetings in context. Generalization: Leelo is working on greetings during his facilitated play group, and at home with a variety of people.

B. Eye Contact: In discrete trial setting, therapist says ‘(student’s name)’, and ‘Look at me’. Student is expected to look up, and to sustain eye contact for gradually increasing periods. Generalization: Student makes eye contact in real life context when variety of people call name and say ‘look at me’. Therapists began task using edible reinforcer at eye level on each trial. With systematic fading of reinforcement prompt, in a discrete trial setting Leelo has mastered eye contact in response to ‘Leelo’, and to ‘Look at me’ for one second, and two seconds. He is working on responding to ‘Leelo’ and ‘look at me’ in context.

C. One-Step Directions: In discrete trial setting, therapist gives simple verbal direction, and student responds accordingly. Generalization: Student follows directions in real life contexts, with family members, teachers, peers, etc. Leelo has mastered five directions, including ‘hands down’, which he is currently responding to in context. Generalization: Leelo is working on following directions in context, during his facilitated play group.

D. Imitate Actions with Objects: In discrete trial setting, therapist says ‘Do this’, and models an action with a toy/object. Student imitates model. Generalization: Student uses skills in variety of contexts, including during play with peers, and during small and large group instruction. Leelo has mastered 8 actions with objects. Generalization: He is beginning to imitate his sister and peers in the facilitated play group. He is imitating both actions worked on in DTT, and novel actions.

E. Receptive Body Parts: In discrete trial setting, therapist says ‘Touch (body part)’. Student touches correct body part. Leelo has mastered 7 body parts. Generalization: Systematic generalization for receptive body parts has not yet been implemented, due recent confusion in skill acquisition in a DTT setting.

F. Saying ‘All Done’: Student initiates ‘all done’ when he/she feels finished working at the table. Generalization: student initiates ‘all done’ in a variety of settings, with a variety of people. Leelo has progressed from spontaneously leaving the table every five seconds to one minute, to now spontaneously stating ‘I’m all done’ when he is finished with something. He also spontaneously uses ‘I’m all done’ in structured play contexts with therapists, and with parents in a variety of settings.

G. Saying ‘My turn’ to access toys: In discrete trial setting, therapist takes a turn playing with toy/material. Student spontaneously says ‘My turn’ to access toy. Generalization: Student spontaneously says ‘my turn’ to access materials with a variety of people, in a variety of situations. In discrete trial setting, Leelo is beginning to initiate ‘my turn’ to access toys. Generalization: therapists create a variety of opportunities for Leelo to say ‘my turn’ in context.

H. Pretend Play: In discrete trial setting, therapist says ‘pretend to ...’. Therapist models pretend behaviors, sounds, and actions with toys. Student follows direction/model. Generalization: student pretends in play contexts, student pretends with other children. Leelo has mastered 3 pretend actions, including pretending to be a lion and a cat, and pretending to sleep. Generalization: Leelo is beginning to use pretend actions during less structured activities, and in his facilitated play group.

I. Natural Language Paradigm (NLP): An ABA procedure used to increase imitated and spontaneous language. Leelo consistently imitates two words, and is working on imitating 3-word phrases using NLP. In addition, Leelo is beginning to do NLP with his sister and a peer. During NLP, Leelo also spontaneously uses 2 words or more about 20% of the time during NLP.

J. Making Verbal Requests: In both discrete trial and all other settings, student will spontaneously make verbal requests for things he/she wants. Leelo was saying ‘I want ____’ with his parents when he began this program in August. He now uses a variety of prompted and spontaneous requests with parents and therapists, including
‘I want _____’
‘More ___’
‘My turn’
‘Give me _____’
‘_____ again’
‘Get it’

K. Spontaneous Language: Therapists and families use incidental teaching methods to provide rich opportunities for spontaneous language. Leelo is beginning to use language for a variety of purposes, including describing objects and people, describing actions, making requests, and asking questions. His spontaneous utterances are typically about 3 to 5 words, and can be as long as 8 words. He uses language with his parents and his therapists, and is beginning to talk with his sister and peers in his facilitated play group. Spontaneous language data is collected throughout Leelo’s program sessions, and by his family.

L. Facilitated Play Group: Leelo has participated for 3 weeks in a facilitated play group, which includes his sister and a family friend (both 4 years old) as peers. During the group, the peers learn how to play with Leelo by using getting Leelo’s attention, using NLP, using short phrases, and helping him to imitate play behaviors and ideas. Leelo’s goals include sharing with peers, initiating and responding verbally to peers, pretending with peers, and greeting peers. He has recently begun to do NLP with his peers, and was able to imitate up to 6 phrases and spontaneously verbalize with peers in a recent session.

MASTERED SKILLS:

Skill \ Introduced \ Mastered
A. Greetings:
1 Responds ‘Hi’ in DTT \ 8/28/03 \9/9/03
2 Responds ‘Bye’ in DTT \ 8/28/03 \ 9/9/03
3 Responds ‘Hi (name)’ in DTT \ 9/15/03 \ 10/16/03
4 Responds ‘Bye (name)’ in DTT \ 9/15/03 \ 10/16/03

B. Eye Contact
1 1 second in response to ‘Leelo’ \ 7/31/03 \ 10/7/03
2 1 second in response to ‘Look at me’ \ 7/31/03 \ 10/7/03
3 2 seconds in response to ‘Leelo’ \ 10/8/03 \ 10/14/03
4 2 seconds in response to ‘Look at me’ \ 10/8/03 \ 10/14/03

C. One step directions
1 Hands down \ 8/1/03 \ 10/6/03
2 Stand up \ 9/10/03 \ 10/7/03
3 Give me a hug \ 9/10/03 \ 10/9/03
4 Give me a hi-5 \ 9/10/03 \ 10/7/03
5 Stamp feet \ 9/24/03 \ 10/8/03

D. Actions with objects
1 Put block in bucket \ 8/28/03 \ 10/15/03
2 Push toy car \ 8/28/03 \ 10/9/03
3 Drink from cup \ 8/28/03 \ 10/15/03
4 Roll playdough \ 9/9/03 \ 10/9/03
5 Feed doll \ 9/17/03 \ 10/6/03
6 Put on hat \ 9/17/03 \ 10/9/03
7 Brush hair \ 9/24/03 \ 10/6/03
8 Kiss doll \ 9/24/03 \ 10/6/03

E. Receptive Body Parts
1 Nose \ 7/31/03 \ 10/7/03
2 Knees \ 7/31/03 \ 10/15/03
3 Head\ 7/31/03 \ 10/13/03
4 Elbow \ 9/17/03 \ 10/8/03
5 Tummy \ 9/18/03 \ 10/7/03
6 Feet \ 9/24/03 \ 10/9/03
7 Eyes \ 9/24/03 \ 10/13/03

F. Requesting to be ‘all done’
1 Initiating ‘all done’ in DTT \ 8/28/03 \ 9/17/03

G. Pretend Play
1 Pretend to be a lion \ 9/24/03 \ 10/15/03
2 Pretend to be a cat \ 9/24/03 \ 10/15/03
3 Pretend to sleep \ 9/24/03 \ 10/14/03

H. Natural Language Paradigm
1 Imitate two word phrases \ 8/1/03 \ 10/2/03

Jo, Can You Read This Now?

Red Alert, Danger Danger

I've got a hot button. My dad passed it down to all four of us kids. We all work hard to stay in standby mode, but it's still not a good idea to spring crappy surprises on us.

The last time my younger brother's got pushed, he finally told off his wife, and ended up divorced.

Used to be when my second brother got his pushed, he'd go looking for a fight. Sometimes he net vans full of equally amped-up young men. With straight razors. He managed to get his ear stitched back onto his head last time. He's more careful nowadays.

The one member of our quartet you really don't want to upset ais my oldest brother Chet. Best example: While waiting with me at the LAX airport curb to pick up Seymour, a college kid in his dad's Mercedes sedan pulled up and boxed us in. My brother told the kid to move the car, but the kid brushed Chet off and ran into the airport. Seymour arrived shortly afterwards and wondered why smoke was pouring from Chet's ears. The kid eventually returned with a buddy, and got a ration from Chet. The kid spat out an apology, and jumped into the car. Fine, whatever. But, as they pulled away, the buddy leaned out and flipped us off. Ohhh...bad move. My brother--on foot--caught up with them, and open-hand slammed their windshield so hard that everyone within 50 yards jumped. I am sure both Mercedes seats were soaked, instantly.

(Seymour and I had only been dating a few months at the time of the airport incident. I like to think that my partner's uxoriousness is rooted in love, but realistically there has to be a major fear component. Chet is an Army Ranger, and always informed my suitors about the 20 ways he could kill them with his bare hands.)

Anyhow, the last time mine got pushed was this past Friday, when I got cut off by a loser driver. She tore through the intersection I was entering like a crazy woman, cutting me off so badly that everything in the car wobbled. Still, I gave her the benefit of the doubt as we live near both an asylum and a hospital. Next I buried my insta-prejudices against women who wear ugly belted sweater jackets. However, she not only made my brakes squeal and gave me whiplash, but she waved me off as she did it--as though I was at fault for observing traffic laws.

I tailed her. She drove like a demon down one of our winding local roads, then hopped out--not at the hospital, but at the coffee shop. Cel phone sprouting from her ear, natch. Thankfully Iz said "Mommy, why are we here? Today isn't a coffee day," and snapped me out of it. Oh, that's right. Kids in the car. Setting an example. Fuck fuck fuck.

10.18.2003

Shhh! Don't Tell Anyone!

Does everyone lead a partitioned life? With parts so unlike others that they are mentally irreconcilable? How is it that a clueless, classless dork like me ended up in that restaurant last night, fielding questions about whether or not I required a white burgundy glass, or would I like another glass of sauterne? Why didn't the alarms start blaring when I walked in the door? Oh well, by the end of the evening--12 magnificent (I'm told) wines later--I was too pleasantly soused to fret about my interloper status.

10.17.2003

Hurricane Squid

Off to Napa Valley, that humorless Disneyland for child-loathing snotheads, to stay with generous KV and her hospitable dad. We will have a child-free dinner at a fabulous restaurant, and will be joined by Seymour's parents. The evening's entertainment will be watching two top-echelon wine lovers (the two dads) face off against each other. Will they be polite, or will they start strutting around each other like oenophile peacocks? Hope they don't start comparing the sizes of their cellars, as KV's dad has one of those mandatory Napa wine caves and Seymour's dad will be pinned in the first 10 seconds. The rest of us get free dinner and lots of wine--excellent fun!

However to get there, and to avoid four hours in the traffic pits of blackest hell, we must leave in 90 minutes. I must organize all of Leelo's supplements and special foods, find Iz's pink devil horns, get clean underwear for everyone--ack! Watch me destroy this house and everyone in it to achieve this goal! WE WILL HAVE FUN OR DIE TRYING!

10.16.2003

Leelo Post: Insert Expletive Here

Leelo is not well this A.M. He was up past midnight just generally being miserable, then resumed fussing at 7 A.M. this morning. Bob the Builder calmed him down for a bit, but he lost it anew when Therapist F arrived. We tried more Bob as a distraction (bless Ep and her donated video) and it seemed to work, so I snuck out and drove Iz to school. I returned to a tear-streaked little boy slouched against his therapist's chest. When I picked him up, he whimpered "I love you mommy" for the first time in aeons. Oh, the heartstrings! We agreed to lose the day. Still trying to reach Therapist L, so she doesn't get stuck with bridge tolls unnecessarily, but her cel phone must be turned off.

Sad about Leelo, but excited about having the house to ourselves for a morning since that never ever happens anymore. But then I remembered that Supervisor M is supposed to come and work on Leelo's program binder in preparation for next week's 10 week program evaluation. I called and told her he was sick, but she said that she didn't need to work with him directly and could come anyhow. Damnitall.

More evidence that his program is working: this morning I asked him where the "owie" was, and he patted his head. So, off to the traditional pediatrician we haven't seen since April, and whose scrutiny I've been dreading (not DAN or ABA friendly). Just heard from a friend with an Asperger's child that Dr. G bounced her from his practice because she wouldn't vaccinate her new infant before 1 year. Worried that Dr. G (or his prickly wife/office manager) will try to give Leelo that last vaccination we've been avoiding. Aaaigh. I guess I should call Dr. Prattle, our DAN doctor, for advice on how to negotiate with a traditional pediatrician.

---

Fucking Blogger/Blogspot. When the fark are they going to reinstate upgrading? Grumble grumble grumble. I could of course host images on one of my sites, but we just consolidated all our NetSol accounts with real world info, and I am too bushed to deal with extricating and anonymizing a single account. I have read far too many of Ep's trashy crime/mystery novels, and so am too paranoid to connect real names with this blog. SJ and Layne, they gots the cajones I lack.

10.15.2003

Leelo Post: Megadosed

Now that we've added twice-daily vitamin C capsules, our Leelo's daily supplement regimen has apparently crossed some sort of palatability barrier. He is refusing to take his juice cocktails--even with other fluids withheld, the nasty-tasting selenium on hold, and the doses spread out through the day. I guess we'll just keep plugging along, and hopefully he'll get used to it like he did with the icky rice bread and super-tart dried raspberries. Puts our chelation on hold for a while, though, as he'll need to be on at least a two-week course of selenium before the treatment begins.

Good language today. In the Llaves super market, he spied some jack o' lanterns and yelled out "I see the pumpkins! The pumpkins are orange!"

Supervisor M just told me that she thinks mainstreaming Leelo into a typical preschool is not something we should approach just now, that mainstreaming is typically done after children have been in ABA for at least 6 months. Whaaaaaaa? No one has ever told me that before. She seems to want to put him into an additional language-based small group preschool for 3+ kids. Andil, Leelo's program's QA supervisor (the person Supervisor M goes to for advice and support) told me long ago that kids like Leelo need typical kids as models, that once they're three they need real world social situations to learn from. Sheeit. Now I don't know what to think. Except that I'm sleepy and it's time for bed but Leelo got an afternoon nap so he's still going strong even though it's past 10 P.M. and I hope Seymour enjoys his cushy company hotel room. Bet you he'll stay up all night watching mountain biking on cable.

10.14.2003

Leelo Post: Preschool Visit Fallout

They both suck. For Leelo, anyhow.

The first one felt like someone blew up a toy store, picked up its contents, and then crammed them into a fifty percent smaller place. The building was decently sized, but its rooms were teeny. With all the crap thrown in, there was barely enough leeway for people (kids included) to edge around each other. The director, though kind, was a type I avoid like death in the real world: Fiftyish, loud, dark blonde with choppy highlights, the ringpiece-like mouth of a lifelong smoker, overly & forcedly cheerful, completely willing to forfeit personal space in an attempt to elicit intimacy, and (I sensed) comfortable with smacking your kid if she thought no one was watching. Plus she had two clones working for her. I think Supervisor M could sense my incipient panic, and cut the visit short. She did point out what a great time Leelo had, and how he didn't seem overstimulated by the claustrophobic fun house atmosphere, but I am not putting him in that place unless all other options dry up.

Iz's school seemed like a monastery in comparison, with all the calm, obedient little children quietly setting about their jobs. No surprises there, it IS a Montessori. I usually see it during the more animated times of the day, which had bolstered my opinion that its free-form yet structured approach would be good for Leelo. After the crazy school, though, it seemed a bit Stepfordish. Leelo can be a loud, loopy boy and I'm not sure he'd be willing or able to toe that Montessori line.

So, time to research some more schools. Damnitall. He only has 2 1/2 more weeks in his current program.

10.13.2003

The Free Market Sucks

No one has bought anything from my shop! Come on, people, you know you want some butt floss decorated with my brother's company logo. Or a frisbee featuring Ep's Max riding Shamu (and yes, I know that the orca's fluke looks like a fishtail, so don't bring it up again).

Leelo Post:

Tomorrow's the big day. Checking out the preschools and doing everything in my power to sway Leelo's team's favor in Iz's school's direction.

Therapist F reported that during today's session Leelo had zero incidents of self-stimulatory behavior or non-purposeful play. First time ever.

His listening--and in particular his response time to a request--is improving daily.

After dinner he told me that one of his new trucks looked like Bertie the Bus, who was not present during the discussion. "Really?" I said "And what color is Bertie?" Leelo looked men the eye, and said "Bertie is Red!" Ah, parents of typical children, you've no idea how incredible a feat of extrapolation this is.

Worried about Iz. She is a rude little girl. Interrupting I understand somewhat even if I don't condone it--she's four and it's hard to wait. But the way she responds when addressed--as though she's doing the addresser an extraordinary favor so they'd best get to the point--rude. Conversations about rude vs. polite tones of voice and eye contact during conversations are being met with hands placed firmly over the ears and a declaration that "I don't want to hear about it!" What the fuck, is she thirteen already? This girl's teen years are going to be too much fun.

10.12.2003

Swooning

I have chosen to spend the second half of my birthday purging and reorganizing my office (I believe Badger has already used the Augean Stables analogy; it is appropriate here as well).

Laugh if you will, but an orderly workspace makes me happy and productive. I resonate with my surroundings, so trying to work in chaos means I end up suspended in a chaotic miasma. A harsher analysis would be that I am one of the obsessively reorganizing purse-people from Amelie, but I think that is unfair. Reconstituting the innards of my bag or office after an extended stretch of neglect is a voyage of exploration and discovery!

Evidence: After a years-long search, at the back/bottom of a just-uncovered box, I found our copy of the poem that Spot's wife Roon read at our wedding. Here is the part that would have made my nuptial eyeliner run if it hadn't been shellacked on, big suck that I am:

The moment I heard my first love story, I began seeking you,
not realizing the search was useless.
Loves don't meet somewhere along the way.
They're in one another's souls from the beginning.

-Jalal al-Din Rumi, adapted from the translation by A. J. Arberry

(Noise of honking handkerchiefed nose-blowing in background. Yes, I have one of those sickeningly sweet gooey centers.)

Here is one of Iz's favorite poems, courtesy of S. S i l v e r s t e i n.

THE B L O A T H
In the undergrowth
There dwells a B l o a t h
Who feeds on poets and tea.
Luckily, I know this about him
While he knows almost nothing of me!


She thinks that a b l o a t h must have gotten Jack Kerouac. I don't have the heart to tell her that his guts ruptured after a lifetime of one-too-many drinks. She is also worried about her dad and LH (poets both), but I've told her that the poet-and-tea-sucking beasts only live on the East Coast.

On the way to breakfast, while listening to LH's hella good CD which because it was my birthday didn't skip, Iz was wondering at some of Kerouac's word forms. I told her that poets are sorcerers, that they have the power to melt and mold words, and make them magic.

"How do they melt the words? What kind of oven do they use?"
"No ovens. They use their minds, hands, eyes, and mouths. Minds to conjure up the words, hands to write them, eyes to read them, and mouths to speak them. Magic. Respect them, they are powerful beings."

She seemed satisfied.

Back to the office-gutting before the double shot wears off.

10.11.2003

Swaggering

Yeah, you wish you were me. Guess what I have to do to get Veronica Lake hair? Put in a little bit of gel, and then remember to brush those locks a couple of times while they're air-drying. Effort expended: almost zilch (but 1000% more than usual, which is why I'd forgotten about this technique).

Hey, I can be sassy. It's my birthday tomorrow.

The reason for the fancy 'do was a friend's wedding: a loverly ceremony celebrating a power-geek coupling of the highest magnitude. They rock. During the reception, my friend Rose described one of her husband's (ex-) work parties, and how it was so over-the-top geeky that she just had to leave. I looked around at the wedding guests (a healthy mix of high-level programmers and hardcore SCA types) and could only wonder at the party she skipped out on.

Rose also took one look at my hep, ultra-square-toed shoes and declared me a witch. The shoes were obviously chosen to conceal my lack of toes. I thought they were chosen to accommodate my duck feet.

Tomorrow, Iz and I are going to Half Moon Bay for some birthday art-ogling and pumpkin-selecting.

10.10.2003

Leelo Post: Can You Hear Me Now?

You'd never imagine that having an almost three-year-old boy comply with the request "pick up your truck and give it to mommy" could make a parent so happy.

As little as two months ago, our boy responded appropriately and consistently to only two commands: "Time for a bath" and "Hold my hand." He would boss us around a lot, in a limited fashion, e.g., "I want toast" "Watch Tubbies," etc., but he almost never listened to us. Now he responds almost every time by at least turning to us and thereby acknowledging that he's being spoken to, and about 70% of the time does as asked. Great, great, great.

Last Friday he went for an Occupational Therapy evaluation, to see if he needs any help with fine or gross motor skills. I was in the room for the entire process. Now, I have no idea how he scored on the OT side of things, but what floored me was his responsiveness--he didn't know the woman, but followed almost every direction she gave him, with only the occasional minimal prompt! So exciting, for us.

Today at his BioSet appointment the practitioner declared him "cleared" for glutathione cream. I'm glad he's desensitizing to all these supplements rather slowly, since each addition is a hit to our orbit and we restabilize slowly. Still trying to figure out how to get him to take Selenium--it is derived from mustard and, based on Leelo's responses, there is not a friggin' thing you can do to camouflage its horrible taste. He is still sensitive to DMSA (chelation drug), D-something (digestive enzyme), cod liver oil (lucky boy), vitamin B12 (another good thing, it's a home injection), and vitamin C.

Iz is doing great in her part of his program--we are teaching her and her friend R to do NLP (Natural Language Paradigm) with Leelo, and the girls are amazing. They're even drawing up their own little pictogram schedules for their sessions, and keeping track of his responses.

All said, it's been a good week for considering optimism.

10.09.2003

Slayerama

Oh, oh, oh, I am soooo happy! Jhk can hold his own in a rollicking Buffy discussion! Despite its having been the best thing on TV for the past 7 years, none of my other friends watched it. LOSERS! I never get to talk about it with anyone but Seymour (good conversations, but still. He has to talk to me. I'm his partner). Now Jhk just needs to catch up with all of Angel, and we'll be set. And I'll stop torturing him about his potstickers because we'll have so much else to chat about. Rah!

Changed title of blog as per Ep's request. Not like she reads it, but oh well, it's her birthday.

Why Ann Coulter is Not Hot

Forcefully and insightfully bored into your skull by Margaret Cho. Do yourself a favor.

Gifts For Any Occasion

I was just chuckling to myself about a near-catastrophe from a few months back, so, hell--I'll share it with y'all too. Those of you who see me often and are used to me looping on stories for weeks and heard this five times already can roll your eyes preemptively.

I am a compulsive box hoarder. I can't just throw packing boxes out since almost every bit is recyclable, but they overwhelm me. It takes a lot of time to sort out the packing material, tear the sticker part off the invoice then put the remainder into the right pile (shred or straight-to-recycling bin), tear off and trash all the shipping tape, and then break the box down. I usually end up tossing the boxes into a growing pile in the corner of the garage instead. If they threaten to topple onto one of Seymour's bikes, he will dispatch the boxes himself. Otherwise they sit there until I need to ship something.

A few months ago the to-be-shipped objects were framed pictures of the kids for Seymour's grandmother. I rooted through the pile until I found a box with the correct dimensions and packing materials. I stuffed the pictures in, slapped the package together, and set my keys on top so I wouldn't forget to mail it. Then I turned around and saw the card Iz made to go along with the pictures sitting on the counter. Fark!

Grumblingly, I tore open the package and dumped everything on the counter. And hey, what came fluttering out from underneath the packaging , but a nice color catalog. From Good Vibrations.

After I picked myself up from the floor and resumed breathing, I went through all the packing materials very carefully, taped the box shut, and sent it off. And swore to monitor all packing materials from that day forth.

By the way, the "imaginative and romantic" smutty video that originally came in the box totally sucked.

--

Ire

I've been told three times this week that I couldn't be expected to accomplish something (critical thinking and analysis in the latest case) because of "everything I'm going through." If it happens again I will run away shrieking or bop them on the head. I don't care if people feel sorry for me, but they can fucking keep all that pity and patronizing to themselves. I don't need it. I do need to be treated like the same old goofy dimwit I was before all this crap with Leelo started happening.

10.08.2003

Leelo Post: More Progress

Our boy had a banner day with the attention span (35 minutes of good work without jumping up from the table), eye contact, and spontaneous language.

Also today his BioSet practitioner declared him "cleared for" (i.e., not sensitive to) dietary minerals, so we really get to start throwing the magical powders at him: Selenium, Magnesium, etc.--ooh yeah!

The timing is excellent, since as of last week he's off avocados and all the goodies they give. He did the same thing last year. I believe it's because we've entered the anti-avocado season, with those crappy little $3 watery dealies flown in from Chile. He can taste the difference, and won't stand for it.

10.07.2003

Oh my god. Oh my god.

People, we have been sucked into an alternate universe. It's not enough that our president is a cretin, we had to hand over our richest state to one, too. I can't even conjure up an appropriate string of curses. Seymour says we should have taken Ahnold seriously. HOW THE FUCK COULD WE? WE ARE TALKING ABOUT ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER!

How is it that we liberal freaks are immune to the mind-control rays emanating from The White House, the ones that turn loved ones and family members into Republican party line-spouting automatons? Does it have something to do with overconsumption of coffee? Shit, maybe now is not the time to nix the java.

I can't deal with this new breed of Republicans, their bold-faces lies, blatant corporate loyalties, and policy-raping. Surely, I've been a bit distracted what with all that's going on with Leelo, but will someone please tell me what Bush has ever done right? Not just in his presidency, but in his life? Besides exercising every day. I really do want to know.

{silent weeping}

Terminating

No way to escape the voice of Ahnold on the radio this morning. There is no way in hell that I would ever vote for him (read Jo's blog, I am in agreement even though I can't write like her), but the capper for me is his fucking voice--who could ever take him seriously? You'd be so distracted, thinking "heh heh, that's The Terminator telling me he's going to raise taxes and abolish state-funded special school services" that it would take every last ounce of your brain power to focus on his actual message. AIIIIIGH! DO NOT VOTE FOR HIM!

I am dragging Ep's ass up to that sacred oak grove. Will report back.

10.06.2003

Honeydrunk

There are clouds upon clouds of honeybees in our yard. They cover the rosemary lining our walkway, the coyote bush next to the front stairs, and the blooming ivy outside our living room window. Give more than a casual glance and you'll see that the plants' surfaces are alive, moving, humming, mesmerizing. I sat on the steps for a good long time, shut my eyes, and just tuned in. Soothes my vain little heart to think of how many bee dances were done in our honor over the weekend.

I am feeling particularly malicious this evening. Beware.

10.05.2003

I am THERE!

Looks like we got ourselves a new extra-cheesy Bruce Campbell movie, Bubba Ho-Tep. Elvis, mummies, JFK--yeah!

I looooove Bruce Campbell. He's been the best thing about Sam Raimi films/TV since the beginning, even though his parts keep getting smaller. And I'll overlook his flukish cardboard turn in The X-Files (though I will NOT overlook the Flukey episode itself--I still can't use a pit toilet without severe anxiety and I know I'm not the only one).

The movie's playing at The Castro October 10. Who's coming with me?

Indulgence

Spent the entirety of yesterday in The City. Had two birthday parties in different corners of the city at different ends of the day, so we decided to stick it out during the interim.

First birthday party: At KV & PV's place. KV told me she was only inviting one other little girl. Excellent, I thought (I hate parties stacked with unfamiliar people and kids, especially in close quarters--I usually send Seymour and Z as family delegates). Turns out there were a bunch of unfamiliar kids, many at just the right age to highlight how delayed our boy is (not KV's fault, but this is torture for me). Plus I didn't factor in the well-meaning grandparents always trying to get Leelo to talk to them. As a result Leelo and I spent a lot of the party hiding in the back bedroom, where there were lots of toy cars and trucks and no people.

Must say, though, our KV puts on a heck of a party--anti-fancy and really fun. I suspect her experience as a grade school teacher has honed her herding skills. And Iz had a faboo time diving in confetti and jumping on bubble wrap with her buddy A the birthday girl.

KV had a list of common modern parenting mistakes Xeroxed and stuck to her fridge. My first reaction upon reading it was "Hey, who's been spying on me?" Mostly it's all about how you're not really giving your kids attention, expecting school to fix the behaviors you can't be bothered to work on, and projecting your wants/identity onto your spawn. Better worded than that, of course, but an eye-opener.

[Related aside: I'd been mulling over some of the article's points already this week after Iz protested an outfit I'd set out for her (black t-shirt with cartoony skull-and-crossbones and cool stripey blue/green pants) saying "I don't want to look like a pirate! I want to wear a beautiful dress!" And look like all those other little ambulatory Baby Gap ads at school? I think NOT. But that's not really my decision, is it? Sigh. She grudgingly allowed the pirate outfit since we were already late, and looked fucking rad.

I did have one Iz brain-molding victory this week. Six months ago I told her the story of how her name almost became Isobel (beautiful Isobel Grange in A Little Princess; pulse-stopping Bjork song). This led to a prolonged period of her only responding to the name Isobel, complete with signing that name to her art projects, etc. But she wouldn't listen to the song--every time I put it on for her, she'd protest and I would silently sulk. Lately she's only wanted to listen to In the Jailhouse Now (and really pleases her dad by belting about "playin' cards and shootin' dice" in public). But...just two days ago as I was bracing for another Jailhouse Now request, she shocked me with "Mommy, I want to hear my Isobel song!" Qapla'!]

Anyhow, after the birthday party we ran around the city and indulged ourselves shamelessly:
-First stop: my favorite dessert restaurant in the entire world, Citizen Cake. Dude, they will make you ice cream sandwiches with any of their homemade cookies or ice creams. 'Nuff said.
-Next: The world's fantastickest clothing store, Manifesto. You wish you lived close enough to shop there. You should see Leelo's new shirt--all the other little boys will bow down before him at school tomorrow. Or they would if they weren't autistic.
-Third: Two hours of joyous romping at the ass-kicking old school style Dolores Park playground. You know, with the three-story metal structures and swings whose chains are 15 feet long. We will be back.
-Fourth: Birthday dinner for Godfather Michael's mom, at his incredible restaurant/workplace. Truly, the food of the Gods, and I am not alone in this opinion. M's partner Carm came too, even though he was understandably sleepy after having done the Alcatraz swim in the morning. And our own Leelo delighted us all by falling asleep in the car on the way, and staying passed out all through dinner. Heaven.

A delightful day, but unfortunately one in which I was "on" the entire time. Not good for my batteries, especially the ones that power my happy moods.

This morning I woke up in a profoundly grouchy, slothful state. I knew I'd promised Ep a drawing for her birthday boy Max, but I just couldn't get it done until 15 minutes before the party started (I have lost my one super power, which was pulling miracles out of my ass at the eleventh hour). The drawing (Max riding Shamu the killer whale) came out semi-crappy (the fluke looked like a fish tail, for chrissakes), but my friends are afraid to criticize me because of my "burden" so they all said it was great. Yeah. Glowered at everyone at the party even though Seymour did the bulk of the Leelo-watching, and came home completely wiped.

Sick of being a moody bitch. No coffee yesterday and I was relatively fine, one shot this morning left me manic and then dropped my ass right into the cloud of gloom. No More Coffee For This Girl.

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Kid Notes For Today

Funny Leelo things: He's started responding to requests with "okay, okay, okay." He's so used to being trained that he's starting to follow directions even when he doesn't want to. Nice for me--when he comes up and asks me to play that farking Z o o P a l s commercial again, I can usually divert him with "Leelo, go give Izzy a hug." He'll be mad, but he'll do it. It is called Applied Behavioral Analysis, people. It's basically the same method they use to train seals and poodles. And it appears to be working.

Iz watched me play Kookin Kidz. I suck; my little witch only managed to plop one kid in the cauldron before the clock ran out. Afterwards I asked Iz: "So, do you think I was a good witch or a bad witch?"

She said "Oh, you're a bad witch."
I said "Why?"
She said "Because you only dropped one kid in the cauldron."

I think it's time we started reading The Wizard of Oz together.

10.03.2003

Critters in my yard today

Tiny, squiggly newts
Brilliant Acorn Woodpeckers
Lacquered ruddy centipedes
Scores of honeybees (anyone want to go into the apiary business with me?)
Basking alligator lizards
Cheery flitty Chickadees
Sassy red-flashing Ruby-throated Hummingbirds
Clouds of wee birds--Titmice? Wrentits? Nuthatches?
Obnoxiously beautiful Scrub Jays
Bounding, acrobatic squirrels by the dozen
Homicidal crows

All totally oblivious to me. That includes fat lazy sun-drunk Pat the Cat.

The quail, deer, and Red-Tailed Hawks must have been having a party somewhere else.

Eerie coyote howls were heard, but the Tricksters kept themselves hidden (although sometimes they decide they don't give a shit, and come walking down the ancient staircase behind the house in broad daylight).

Yeah, the suburbs just suck. They're so fucking sterile.

Revving in Neutral

Poor Leelo, he seems to have the same wee hours snot-fountain tendencies as me. He was fine when we put him down and fine when he woke up in the morning, but from about 2 to 4 A.M. he was a miserable little mucus spout.

So I did have coffee this morning. A double shot. Which means that my brain is racing uncontrollably and I've made 15 spazzy phone calls already. Which also means that I spent a good amount of time harassing Ep and Jo to collaborate on a Really Important Article on which I will be the editor and they will get the credit. YOU WILL DO THIS.

The coffee also made it difficult to sit still in the lounge during Leelo's speech therapy session. Tried to concentrate on the book I promised to read for Jo, but it was as though each letter was spinning on its own axis, in different directions and at varying speeds. So, I picked up a magazine on California Living and Architecture, and shook my head at all the ways in which people can spackle money onto their homes in order to impress each other. The other parents in the lounge pretended to ignore me at I laughed openly at the uninhabitable attempts at Louis XIV revival.

There is something about being trapped in a room with other parents of atypical kids. They either put up The Wall (no eye contact, this is usually me) or feel the need to Share Completely "Yes, person I've never met before (and all other involuntary eavesdroppers in this small room), I empathize with your flat tire predicament completely. Of course, when that happened to me I was in the middle of a late-term miscarriage" (?!?!?!)

I do wonder what kind of emotional support these other parents are receiving, especially the ones who wear the rictus grin of I'm Okay or get overly chatty with strangers. I'm so very lucky--I have parents, family, and friends who cut me incredible amounts of slack, and completely support our efforts in whatever crazy theory we're chasing. Maybe eventually some of those lost folks will find this blog or something similar, and feel connected to the world again. I certainly hope so.

10.02.2003

Bamboo Slivers Under the Fingernails

If your four-year-old daughter banishes you to hell, this will be what makes you scream in agony.

If your almost-three-year-old boy banishes you to hell, the instrument of torture will be this.

Goddammit

Supervisor M is here today. Forgot about that (like I forgot about bringing snack for Iz's school this morning--whoops). This means that Leelo and I forfeit our one hour with the house to ourselves, as she is currently meeting with Therapist F, and then will stay over lunch to meet with Therapist L. She will probably want to talk with me during lunch. Damn damn damn. I am having a leave-me-alone day.

The probable reason: no coffee. I am going to fall over in a sleepy pile of tangledy limbs if I don't keep moving. If I do keep moving and encounter people, I may injure them.

Found an old idealized self-portrait of me from 10 years ago. I'd completely forgotten about it--I pulled out the just-discovered sketchpad figuring it was blank, and then saw the drawing. Started laughing like a loon. It had my then-hair (buzzed to #2 with spiky bangs, oh the joys of being able to wash oneself from tippy-top to bottom with a bar of soap), and my tattoos, but a big theoretical backpiece (map of world inside elaborate cartouche), a big theoretical ass, a theoretical (i.e., extant) waist, and long theoretical legs. Ha! And a random dog drawing.

Leelo is almost better. No ear problems so far. Fingers crossed.

Iz has a big henna design on her left hand, of The World Flower. She sat almost still while it dried, so it is almost perfect.

10.01.2003

Randomly Generated

That's it. Going off coffee. Lately it's been making me all wired and shaky like a chihuahua, and I can't concentrate. Need to concentrate. I have important things to do, peoples' lives to save/wreck, etc. etc.

What is up with my complexion? Someone hit me in the face with buckshot. Was reduced to wearing a floppy-brimmed hat today, and tried to refrain from face-to-face contact as much as possible.

Things discovered at the excellent Indian grocery downtown: You can microwave papadums instead of grilling or frying them, and they'll come out perfect! Mango kulfi pops--mmmmm. You can get wristloads of sparkly bangles in little girl sizes (Iz starts pogo-sticking). If you enter the store after not having visited for several months, you will get chewed out. And ah--henna paste comes in little pre-fab tubes. My brain had purged this information. That's how I used to do all that body decorating.

Me then: puffing out my chest, daring anyone to comment on my tattoos/piercings. Me now: Someone comments, I drag my mind back from the haze and think Huh? Are you talking to me, and why? What could you possibly comment on? Give that person a truly quizzical stare, then remember that oh, yeah--I am the person you're talking about. Or I was, anyhow.

You will never see me write about sex. Catholic upbringing, too uptight. Mention it, watch me blush. I can rhapsodize about stick size; acknowledge that yes indeed Leelo did have fun looking at all the brightly colored merchandise at Good Vibrations; tell my daughter that it's okay to whack off, everyone does it but they usually do it when they're alone, not when they're watching Magic Schoolbus with their friends; all that. But any discussion of me or my needs or being in the act is never going to happen. FYI.

U.S. Senate Bill S.722 must be defeated. Read and decide and, hopefully, take action.

Made scrumptious Leelo-friendly dinner tonight. You can tell I'm really trying--it was meatloaf (kneading ground beef--shudder) and I am a vegetarian cook (though I am an omnivorous restaurantgoer). Roasted vegetable salad on the side--ooooh, so good. Leelo: My face is covered with a puddle of green slime that renders me incapable of smell or taste, yet I can tell from the look on your face that you are offering me POISON POISON POISON.

Must get more sleep. Off now.

More Brain Crack

Margaret Cho's Blog rocks! My GOD. New addiction--unbridled, bristly, funny (duh), and razor-edged musings.

She gets a link. Which kind of perforates my self-congratulatory policy of only linking to author-OK'd blogs, but I am nothing if not inconsistent.

Blog-related note: Seymour's best friend Gouda deduced that I am blogging. (He is frank, insightful, and assertive, and I am a bad on-the-spot liar.) I dared him to try to find my blog. Wonder if he'll figure it out? Wonder if he'll tell Seymour that it exists? Wonder if my writing would be different if either happened? Probably not.

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