6.28.2005

Just Like All the Other Boys

Today Leelo had his first big boy pee at the side of the road (he was on a walk with Therapist L when it was time for him to use the potty, so she just had him pull down his pants and pee in the bushes). Perhaps peeing standing up is forthcoming!

Today was a tiring day. It's Tuesday, which = panic anyhow (house cleaning). I was still tired from this past week's excessive socializing and gluttonizing, and couldn't summon the energy to get it done. Not that Mali would let me put her down, anyhow.

Plus J the handyman was onsite all day, sanding and sealing off the mold-infested backs of all my bedroom furniture, attempting to install our reverse osmosis purifier under the kitchen sink (didn't work, it may be defective, we still have no cold water in the kitchen sink), replacing the grout/sheetrock in our main bathroom so the adjacent walls will stop turning brown and buckling due to seepage (showers only for bathtub lovers me and the kids for two more days), and bolstering our back deck so Leelo's continuous trampolining won't punch a hole in the rather ancient boards. His work needed much area prep and rearrangement, which worked directly against my tidying agenda.

I took Iz out of tennis camp early today so she could attend Elise's birthday party. Blessings on Supervisor M who sat on Leelo until Therapist L's arrival. The tennis club where Iz goes to camp is on a steep hillside with scattered, overcrowded, and remote parking options. Iz's camp is at the very bottom of the hill, parking is at the top. Plus the staff is not that well organized. I made three circuits of the place just to find her (helpful Scarlett pointed her out near the hill top), then we had to go all the way back to the bottom to get her stuff. As we neared the car, she needed to pee. Back to the bottom, where the bathrooms are. If I'd had to lug Leelo and Mali through that entire ordeal I think I might have had to kill myself.

Lovely, mellow party. My dear Auntie F (my mom's sister, Elise and Danielle's grandmother) was there. We got in a good family gossip. The girls kept Iz for the afternoon.

Mali and I then went back home. The house was far beyond the Not Ready pale. But since Marroqui is a saint, she held and played with Mali for a while so that I could at least clear a path for her to maneuver through.

Seymour stayed late at a work get together, with my blessings. He came home to a very tired wife. We showered the kids and got them into bed, and I tossed Mali at him despite his protests, citing a need to work (i.e., pay bills). Which I actually started doing! But then Leelo started crying and I went in to check on him and he barfed all over me and the carpet.

Ah, Tuesdays. And tomorrow morning I'm working at Iron Gate. Poop.

To bed. Bills can wait another day. Tomorrow, we polka!

Conspiracy With a Side of Haste

Freedom of the press took another nose dive today. Good thing, I was otherwise going to have to get my daily jolt of paranoia from a recycled source.

Speaking of compromises and the press, maybe my Biased Much post below was reaching a bit, as Ep pointed out. She is correct in that, in my fervor, I slipped into a Republican-style technique of using shoddy evidence to light fireworks. People then focus on the fireworks. I apologize.

However, the NY Times article on parents vs. Thimerosal is far from faultless. Here is what an acquaintance, Carolyn Weissberg, had to say about it:

The article has many factual errors.

For example, in RFK's 66 page research paper referred to below, and which probably prompted this piece trying to indirectly discredit it, there is a lengthy discussion of Merck and how they claimed they had taken thimerosal out of the newborn infant vaccine in September 1999, but did not until October 2001. This article pretends that thimerosal was out of vaccines by 2001 except in miniscule amounts.

This New York Times article trivializes the congressional hearings that said the CDC was "asleep at the switch." Please read this 66-page research paper with 120 footnotes for details. It refutes every spurious point. Unlike the New York Times article, this research paper goes into great detail about science, instead of relying on attempts to discredit people personally and to make the parents of autistic children seem to be a bunch of idiot lemmings following chelating doctors off a cliff because they canÂ’t accept that "maybe cell phones or diet soda did this to these children."

http://www.robertfkennedyjr.com/docs/AutismHgPolitics_6_23.pdf

The research paper has over 120 footnotes. It covers everything, including the Danish studies and others that have been manipulated. For example, the Danish in 1992 only counted autism cases that were HOSPITALIZED! About 16 percent? How many autism cases do you know that are hospitalized? They then banned or reduced thimerosal. Then, in the mid 90's, they counted ALL autism cases, not just those that were hospitalized. All of a sudden, they had 4 times as many autism cases! But less thimerosal. Thus, less thimerosal=more autism! Talk about Junk Science! This article sounds like it was written by the pharmaceutical industry.

I'm about ready to emigrate from a country that could continue to poison children around the world rather than face facts and start working toward prevention and cure. Of course, thimerosal and environmental mercury do not cause ALL autism. Of course there are charlatans out there preying on the hopes of parents by coming up with outlandish treatments. No wonder. When mainstream medicine won't acknowledge results, some of us have seen with our own eyes, we are going to go out of the mainstream.

The research shows that thimerosal injection rates highly correlated with autism rates. And the NY Times' article reminds me of whitewashes on tobacco 40 years ago. When are we going to catch on? These scientists know this is true, but they think that 1 in 150 people, and 1 in 80 boys getting autism is WORTH it to prevent the deaths that might occur without the vaccines. They think people are too stupid to get vaccinated if they find out that some vaccines have problems. Instead of just getting the thimerosal out of the vaccines!

I personally feel indebted to all the parents who have fought to bring this issue to the forefront in the last decade, for I'm sure my son's case would be much more severe had some of his vaccines not had thimerosal, only due to their efforts.


Again, I don't necessarily think Thimerosal caused Leelo's autism, because I've been reviewing videos of him as a baby and he seems slightly odd from birth. But it couldn't have helped, either, if he has a genetic predispositions exacerbated by mercury exposure. Who knows how I'd feel if he'd experienced a dramatic regression at 15-18 months, as is so common. To paraphrase an immunologist friend-of-friend, I don't think thimerosal is the cause, but I also can't believe that some idiots decided to use mercury as a preservative for childhood vaccines. It was probably someone in marketing.

6.27.2005

Oddity

Some time earlier today I had my 100,000th visitor. Sucker!

Mali, Leelo, Iz

Our ginger-eyebrowed, blue-eyed baby has entered a hyper-social phase. "Talking" to people to get them to talk to her, responding with emphatic syllables and a huge grin to any query. As cheerful as baby Leelo was, I don't remember him doing much of this interactive chatting. He was an easygoing boy, but he kept to himself.

Mali's gregariousness has a good side (everyone wants to hold her when we're out in public, and she doesn't mind) and a bad (if only Mommy's around, then all attention and interaction will come from Mommy, and not that stupid fucking purple bear Mommy keeps pushing in her face). I'm going for the happy baby, and letting the housework rot. Difficult choice, indeed.

Leelo started Iron Gate summer school today. His potty training lack o' accidents streak is going strong. I must ask Supervisor M how we then transition from Leelo going potty because someone takes him every fifteen minutes and bribes him with chips, to Leelo asking us to take him to the potty because he knows he has to go. But I am optimistic! She is the one whose faith never wavered, while I was muttering and doubting and investigating tween size diapers.

Other than that, he is in a gibbering phase. Attends beautifully during therapy sessions, but drifts into Loopyville when that one-on-one structure is removed. Also we've had a lot of crazy social events lately, and much busyness and pulling Leelo around during errands time, which isn't such a great thing. At least he is grabbing me and demanding kisses (though I wish he wouldn't pull on my earring or hair to facilitate them), and specifically demanding lots of walks with me or Seymour rather than with whichever babysitter or therapist is present.

We did leave him home with Babysitter A last night, while the non-autistic members of the family went out for dinner with Godfather M. Leelo is simply no longer bistro- or nice restaurant-friendly. I could console myself with the knowledge that few boisterous four year old boys could sit through dinner at such a place, but I hate having to exclude Leelo only. It makes me feel queasy and heartsick. Additonal stomach churning awaits as he get older and his condition becomes more obvious, I suspect.

Iz started tennis camp this morning. It was an all day camp, 8:30 to 5:00. She was pretty wasted by day's end, so I do think we'll cut her back to mornings only for the remaining four days. And that will hopefully mean that I can pick her up and drop her off while Leelo is at school/in therapy sessions. Then I won't have to navigate the multiple steep narrow staircases of the tennis club with Mali on my hip and Leelo's hand in a grip of iron so he can't bolt for his very favorite wading pool in the whole world, which just happens to be next to the courts.

She watched HP and the Prisoner of A with us a few days ago. I never offered the first two movies as they're shite. So now she is insisting on reading book 3 without reading books 1 and 2 first. I say: Whatever, as long as she's enjoying what she reads. The first two books, when she gets back to them, will then be the sources of many revelations. Also she has whipped through an Encyclo B book as recommended by Jo and Badger--good suggestion, that. It will do until I can find her an instructor of critical thinking, observation, and rhetoric.

A few days ago Iz asked me what birth defects were. Being a PC mom, I gave her a neutral, straightforward description. She found the concept fascinating.

Being an idiot, I forgot to mention that birth defects can be a touchy subject. My bad, as our girl just spent forty-five minutes creating an elaborate birthday card for her cousin Elise's sixth birthday, in which the central figures are the "Weirdos" and their birth defects. (Described generally only, and not illustrated in any obviously horrible way.) I have to figure out a way to salvage the card. The party is tomorrow at 1:00.

From the Steel Trap files:

1) Iz asked me if we were going to get to go on a glass bottom boat tour when we go to Hawaii in two weeks, as she's still bummed about our last tour getting rained out. Three years ago.

2) Last night I had to ask her repeatedly to stop whining about candy issues. I told her that if I was a evil mean parent, I could tell her that whining makes baby Jesus cry. She said, "Yeah, and if you were a really mean evil parent, you could tell me that rain is God crying because I did something bad. But," she said, smirking, "you would never do that, right?" Well, not since last year...

To bed. Hopefully baby Jesus will fix my html while I sleep, since I've had no luck debugging despite professional level support from two sources.

Biased Much?

The New York Times recently published an article describing parents who are hell-bent on blaming thimerosal as an autism cause/trigger, despite all the scientific evidence to the contrary.

Now, I'm not in the thimerosal camp myself. I think Leelo's autism stems from a genetic predisposition set off by environmental factors (which means, as I've so often written, privately, that if you geeks are going to fuck each other, then drink bottled water, avoid seafood, and go organic).

Even so, I find it hard to take the article seriously when so many seats on the NYT board of directors are sat on by big pharmaceutical industry-linked bottoms.

Raul E. Cesan
he became president of Schering Laboratories, the U.S.
pharmaceutical marketing arm, and in 1994, became president of
Schering-Plough Pharmaceuticals.

Ellen R. Marram
Ms. Marram also serves on the board of directors of the Ford Motor
Company and Eli Lilly and Company.

William E. Kennard
Mr. Kennard joined The Carlyle Group, a private equity firm, in May
2001 as a managing director in the global telecommunications and
media group.

Henry B. Schacht
Mr. Schacht also serves on the boards of Alcoa (Aluminum Company of
America), Johnson & Johnson and Lucent Technologies Inc.[Johnson &
Johnson is one of the companies that makes rhogam]

Cathy J. Sulzberger
She was also an editor of Consumer Drug: Digest: American Society of
Hospital Pharmacists and Medication Teaching Manual: National
Association of Retail Druggist, and a Consumer Editor of the Journal
of the National Association of Retail Druggists.

More information:

http://www.nytco.com/company-directors.html


FYI, I got this breakdown from a slow/no vaccinations egroup. The original researcher's name was not listed in the post.

And no, I don't know why my HTML is all crazy-wonked.

6.26.2005


Cuter Than All the Other Babies, Sorry but That's the Truth

Mali is 7 months old today!

Grubby Gluttony

Our hot water heater died yesterday. A mere hour before the big home made pizza fest. So I didn't get to take a shower yesterday or this morning. Matt the cheerful German plumber is installing a new one as I type, but I doubt he'll finish up within 15 minutes, which is the cut off for my getting to take a nice hot shower before going out to dinner at semi-fancy
¡
Sombrero! with Pride Parade-shunning Godfather M and his mother. Hopefully the restaurant is not too crowded, but if it is perhaps my stench will gain us some space (kidding! I will take a cold shower if I have to. Lord knows Seymour's had enough of them since Mali's birth).

The hot water heater death was timed beautifully, as the kitchen sink's cold water was already turned off from a botched reverse osmosis water purifier installation (the purifier was missing several pieces from one of its packets, which we didn't discover until the device was 90% in place). This means that the pizza making dirtied most of the dishes, bowls, and implements in a kitchen that had no running water. Seymour somehow wrestled the kitchen into cleanliness with boiled water and sheer willpower.

Full week of Japan-refugee cousin Guggster initiated gluttony: steaks, Indian, Mexican, ribs, ending on dim sum. Dim sum was in the morning, that night was Fathers Day, so then Thai for dinner. Monday I cooked, but Tuesday pizza at Jo's, Wednesday tired and out for Indian with Babysitter A, Thursday bad mom coffee and Kokkari, Friday Korean in SJ with Seymour and India to cheer him up, then yesterday pizzas and tonight French. I may need never eat again.

6.25.2005

Panic

A nice quiet morning. Seymour went to Iron Gate to do our 90 minutes of required summer school maintenance (canonize him now) while I hung out with the kiddlings and thought about all the nice things we'd eat tonight with our from-scratch pizza making food snob friends KV, PV, and JM.

But--I forgot to pull the upper bolt on the front door after Seymour left, and so didn't hear Leelo slip out the front door while I was doing Iz's hair. Two minutes later, I went in search of him due to wondering what all the quiet was about (Leelo silence usually indicates he's trying to catch our Frantic Fish, or is having Fun with Feces) and saw the open front door. Instant panic.

"Iz, watch Mali!" I yelled as I bolted out to the yard and saw Leelo nowhere. I ran, barefoot and balls-out, down the driveway and down the length of our very long dead end street. Leelo was nowhere. All sorts of visions of him on narrow, twisty, racecourse Lacvue were flashing in front of my eyes. Then I bumped into a lady who was walking her dogs, and who had just made a circuit of our street. She had seen Leelo nowhere. Whew. Back to my house at a full clip, hoping that Iz really was watching Mali and that the baby hadn't rolled over to and down the stairs in my absence. And there was Leelo, sitting on the back deck stairs right in the front stairs/driveway blind spot, singing a song to himself. Gaaah and Hallelujah!

I was especially worried because he's been asking to take lots of walks down our street lately, and I thought he might have decided to see what doing so on his own would be like. Maybe he would get to romp down the poison oaken hillside that separates our street from the still-full creek, maybe he would get to explore our neighbor the builder's street-level, hardware and dangerous tool-filled, and almost always open garage. Maybe I won't think of what else he could have done.

Mali was fine. Iz was fine. Leelo was miffed about having to go inside. Not sure about me.

In good or at least interesting news, Leelo continues to be a potty king, with 18 or so successful potty missions yesterday.

And Mali sprouted her first tooth!

6.22.2005

Where is Iz?

She is at Violet and Fifi's house, again. Having a sleep over. The three girls are attending soccer camp together this week, so Violet's mom kindly offered to wash Iz's grubby clothes and take her back to camp in the morning. I hope she doesn't smell our girl's hair--Iz gets a bath every day but hasn't felt like washing her locks for several.

Violet's mom's magnanimousness is amazing to me. It is the only reason I am not vomiting with jealousy over her being jet lagged from her latest work assignment in Rapa Nui.

If you don't know where that is, then come back when you do. I'll wait.

Boobs

Things you don't really need to hear from your Gyn/OB:

"You know, your breasts are really large!"

This from a woman whose job is to fondle naked boobies all day long. I guess my knockers are bazooka-like indeed.

I told her that I'd most likely be getting them resized after Mali stops nursing. She said that, among her patients who've had reductions, not one has regretted it. Not so the enlargements. "And you think it'd be the opposite!" said my extra-frank doctor, "I mean, there's so much scarring with the reductions!"

I sure know I'd be happy about the elimination of shoulder and back pain, and the ability to buy shirts other than those patterned on potato sacks. Though I do go down by three cup sizes when I stop nursing.

She also said that doing cholesterol testing while I'm still nursing won't give conclusive results, and that once Mali's weaned we can do a full cardio workup to see if I'm on the same quintuple bypass route as so many of my forebears.

Potty Progress

Leelo has had three loopy days in a row, following that fantastic Fathers Day. Oh well. It's probably due to yeast die off, or the snuffly nose/post nasal drip that kept him and fellow light sleeper Seymour up from 1 to 3 A.M. while the rest of us snoozed on obliviously.

There's goodness underneath that crappy surface, though, because yesterday he showed voluntary bladder control for the first time!

Supervisor M and Babysitter A (the latter subbing for Therapist S) got him to pee on cue yesterday, several times. Supervisor M got him to do it again for me today, and it was absolutely clear that he can "push" the pee out, though he will only do so in exchange for a potato chip.

He may not choose to demonstrate bladder control in the future, and he may not want to do it without being bribed, but at least we know that he can control it. Am I being brazen in daring to suppose that he might cast off his diapers?

I still shudder to think of Iz's hellish potty training. What I should be remembering, though, is that it sucked because we started before she demonstrated readiness, because I wanted her out of my and Baby Leelo's hair and in preschool. Once Iz herself was truly ready to use the potty, her accidents ceased, suddenly and entirely, even at night. I can only hope that Leelo is on the way to a similar bladder epiphany.

Leelo and I have much to celebrate, so I will not focus on his absolutely crap eye contact, or inappropriate squinting. His OT may have an opinion on the latter. Perhaps he is a candidate for vision therapy.

Also: we have a consultation with the Stanffford sleep clinic folks in six weeks. He is such a crappy sleeper, and he did have an irregular EEG while sleeping, so I think some further investigation is in order. If he is one of those kids who never reaches REM sleep, that would be a good thing to know.

6.21.2005

Not Blue, Not a Superhero, Not Funny

Gack, I just pulled a tick off Mali's fat little bottom. Her pediatrician wants to see her and the offending arachnid a.s.a.p.

Yes, of course it's Tuesday!

6.20.2005

Geo-Dork Fun!

Dee sent along an excellent U.S. States online puzzle quiz. It is great fun for the most part, although its distance error margin needs to be modified. A person who can drop Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada, or Missouri onto a totally blank U.S. map with 7/8 positional coverage and a distance error of only 56 miles should get credit, in my opinion. And that is the opinion of someone who has spent many long hours grading geography exams.

Happy Fathers Day

What a great day Leelo had today, how wonderful that his wonderful day happened to be Fathers Day. He played catch with Seymour for half an hour this afternoon, with commentary! He had incredible language all day long, fantastic eye contact. Babysitter A and Seymour both remarked upon it. Our boy was lucid and fun to hang out with, more like the Leelo of late March. Although even during his worst gibbering defiant space oddity days of late he was still coming up with gems like "I missed you, come here!" or "I want to go sit on the couch and watch Sn0w White!" or "It's a circle, it's a square, it's a triangle--it's shapes!"

I just happened to have slipped him an amph0tericin (anti-fungal/yeast) this morning for the first time in months. Coincidence? It's also two days after his B12 shot, which tends to put him in a good space though usually not quite so dramatically. I stopped the cod liver oil after some really loopy behavior two days after starting it, but would really like to get it, the NuTh3ra multivitamins, and extra calcium back into his diet because I am worried about his crappy limited diet and malnutrition.

He was also relatively mellow today. What could have been absolute hell--waiting with him and Mali and Iz for forty minutes in the crowded parking lot of an even more crowded (and totally f***ing scrumptious) dim sum restaurant--was tolerable. He was well behaved, listened to my requests, and didn't even need bribes.

He is starting to sing and move along with songs rather than only singing independently. Everyone in the dim sum restaurant's parking lot clapped when he followed along with Iz, Elise, and Danielle's rendition of "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes." I wish he would remember his shoulders, but was still impressed by him following along even though the girls were going rather quickly.

He is back into singing in general, in a big way. He has excellent pitch, even though he muddles the lyrics after the first five to eight words of each line (though pronouncing that many words per line is itself an improvement). Current favorites: Some Day My Prince Will Come, Baby Beluga (barf), Iz's Mali chant: Mali-a Ho-ho-NEE! Also the vocal trilling of the Snow White wishing well song, the "Let's name the zones" song from Finding Lame-O.

His enunciation in general is improving. He now says "Pee Wee" instead of "Kiwi." When asked what his baby sister was doing during tonight's dinner, he very clearly said, "Eating sweet potatoes." He still prefers "Leelo" to his real name, though he can pronounce his own name clearly when motivated.

We started him on two new social questions: How old are you? and What's your name? These join the How are you? he already knows, but had previously mixed up with the age question. He answered all three questions correctly, all day long. He is also starting to wave, flappily and sometimes with both hands and definitely only when prompted, but it's a start.

We have been having fun with funny faces. He likes to imitate ours (tongue sticking out, etc.) and sometimes even initiates.

We are realizing that he doesn't recognize people's faces--he relies on general appearances: hair, coloring, build. Therefore he is convinced that towheads (Sage's) Lex and (Ep's) Merlin are the same person, as are KV and Supervisor Andil.

Strangely, he's been exhibiting some more classic autism symptoms: occasional non-social hand flapping, occasional spinning. He is also starting to repeat lines from movies and books, which he never did before. He tends to do it in context, though, when the movie is playing or when the phrase is appropriate to the situation. His elbow grabbing and squeezing have been out of control (although not today).

He is holding his cups oddly, with the heels of his hands only and fingers bent but deliberately kept off the cup. I may ask Supervisor M about his as his hold has never been abnormal before.

He is very excited about the high chair's reappearance in our kitchen. He wants to reclaim it, and thinks Mali's use of it is unfair. I don't blame him, he only got bounced out of it six months ago. He is far too big for it, poor sad boy.

He still acts so much like a two year old. We really, really hope that he starts maturing and getting some common sense soon, because otherwise parties and outings and parks are going to start really sucking. He's not going to be excusably cute and little, indefinitely.

In fact, Seymour witnessed some shithead 8 or 9 year old boys making fun of Leelo's wackiness and vocalizations at the crayon park's fountains yesterday. Good thing I wasn't there. I haven't yet had a chance to be Avenging Mama, but I don't think it'll be pretty.

He is back into saying everything twice, e.g., "Yes Mommy yes Mommy," though again not so much today. In watching Dorka the Explorer (unfortunately a Leelo staple) a few days ago, I noticed that they often say things twice. Hmmm.

Seymour is so very done with DAN. TMG, for instance, had an instant negative effect on Leelo: early waking, awful diapers, insant regression, more autistic symptoms. The irony is that TMG is supposed to be part of the B12 treatment pathway. I think yeast is still an issue, that is may be a big part of the caul between his world and ours. Hence today's experimental amph0tericin.

Here's hoping that tomorrow is another good day.

Mali Fretting Yet Again

Such a cute baby, such a sweet baby. But she just doesn't like to maintain eye contact. And I think it's weird that she looks away from me while I'm spoon feeding her. If I call her name, she "remembers" that I'm there, with a big smile--and then looks away again.

She is also not at all interested in that baby in the mirror. She prefers the mirror's frame. Although if she sees me in the mirror, I get a grin.

I may need to take her to the local 5 - 8 month old babies group, to see what other nibblers her age are like, as I am driving myself (and Seymour, and anyone else tolerant enough to listen) crazy.

6.19.2005

Iz's Secrets

Seymour informed me that Iz, in the midst of discussing sibling variations with Babysitter A (what are stepsisters, etc.), told Leelo's resilient babysitter all about the half brother Iz herself has never met.

Time to have another talk with our girl about information sharing, and to add Adoption to her list of not-to-be-sprung-without-asking-first conversation topics. (The others are Reproduction and Politics.)

I will be giving her the same guidelines as we did for those other subjects: People in her immediate family do not mind talking about it, but people outside of our family may view it as a very personal subject--and it may make them uncomfortable. Therefore it is best to bring it up only within context rather than spontaneously. And it was certainly not a problem for her to volunteer it to Babysitter A, given what they were talking about.

I told her a big secret today: that people loooooove polite kids. They love them so much that well-mannered kids can get away with almost anything! "Not lying, though," said Iz. "Well, no, of course not lying," I said, grateful that she couldn't see me snickering from her back row car seat. Politeness, I reiterated, is a key to doors that might otherwise be shut.

Should be interesting to see how this plays out.

I also apologized to her for constantly chiding her about her manners. I told her that I didn't enjoy doing it, but that it was my job, and that it has nothing to do with how much I love her--in fact, if I didn't love her so much I wouldn't do it because I wouldn't care. She said that it doesn't bother her. I hope she wasn't just being polite.

She had a minor fit today in trying to follow one of the lessons from a certain Diva's Manga S3crets book. She wanted to draw a complex "bad girl" character, instantly, and was frustrated when I told her that very few people could sit right down and draw perfect manga characters without practicing first. I told her that the book contained guidelines for practicing practicing practicing until the techniques click, and that most artist draws all the time to keep their talents fit and perky--just as athletes exercise and readers read.

I then drew a simpler character and had her copy it. Which she did, really well (I think that, if nothing else, a future as a tattoo artist awaits). But she was still irked. And I was looking into a mirror, because I also hate practicing anything--I want to DO it. Exercises and practice suck.

She wants to build a camera obscura tomorrow. Anyone want to come join in the fun?

6.18.2005

The Well-Intentioned Asshole

Something I've been pondering since the hot 1esbian gir1friend entry below:

Are you no longer an asshole if, when confronted with your prejudices, you acknowledge and try to shed them? Are we assholes only when we consciously retain our assholey opinions and outlook?

I ask because I say stupid shit all the time, and only realize how much of a dick I'm being after the words exit my mouth.

And speaking of good intentions, my little afterthought baby Mali took an almost two-hour nap this afternoon. Unheard of! She normally snatches 10-20 minute naps here and there, all day long.

She got in that epic snooze because Babysitter A and Seymour took the two big kids to a birthday party at the Crayon Park/Ex-mercury mine, and I was nursing and holding her the whole time. Okay, and also reading and fiddling with our TeeVo setup (we were paying for twenty more channels than TeeVo was acknowledging).

But it makes me worry that she is long-term sleep deprived. And maybe sleep deprivation is an autism trigger. Aaaaaah!

Let's see, what else can I worry about?

I am still bone tired, but cannot resist the siren song of Jo's housewarming party (probably revving up as I write). I think we will try not to stay too long, as I am kicking Seymour out of the house to go Father's Day mountain biking all day tomorrow, and need to conserve some of my sanity.

6.17.2005

Mewling

Apologies for that last pathetic post. I was trying to convey my inability to deal with social and scheduling overload. All I need is a mellow hour or two to myself (even with Mali) and my world rights itself. I can't handle three straight days of being intensely, socially "on," especially without any kind of break. Even if I'm with my family, friends and/or bestest cousin in the whole world. Even with coffee. Even if I have a drink.

I was excited about getting to have breakfast with just Iz and Mali this morning. Iz and I rarely get mommy/daughter morning time, which is too bad as that's when she and I are both at our best. My cousin called as we were going out the door, though, so he and Elise and Danielle (they're his nieces; he is staying at JP's house) came with us to Bollucks in Sidewood. It wasn't a bad thing, just a different thing. Iz was excited about sharing the supremely cool manga drawing book she stole from me, and the girls spent all their non-eating time drawing manga girl heads.

On the way back, Therapist L called to cancel her afternoon session due to illness. So much for my mellow afternoon plans of going to the pool with my cousin, JP, Iz, and everyone except Leelo.

The rest of the crew then decided to go to the coast instead. I decided not to go. Too much work to prep all three kids and my bikini area, too little time in which to do so. And who would keep an eye on all three of my kids? Not me, I tell you.

Those kind folks took Iz with them. My girl went boogie boarding for the first time. Apparently she had a rollicking time, despite riding in backwards on her first wave, and getting a sand burn on her leg. Seymour, my cousin, and I all assured her that the such burns are badges of honor for all wave-riding creatures.

Oh, Iz had her six-year checkup yesterday, five months late. She is 50th percentile for weight, 25th for height. She needs to take in more calcium. She told the doctor that she only watches 30 minutes of TV each day (yeah, right). The doctor told her that that was more than enough, to my amusement.

Leelo had a good today despite Therapist L and Babysitter A canceling their sessions. I remembered his B12 shot for the first time in ages, and also got him to drink a low-sugar smoothie of bananas, strawberries, blueberries, and rice milk. He has been back on (asking for and getting) vegggie booty for about five days.

Mali has become a truly social girl. Very into having "conversations" with non-parent people, e.g., Ep, JP, my cousin. Her hair is looking very dark, though it is still thin enough that her scalp peeks through. Eyes still light blue. Still a darling girl.

Leelo has taken to giving her smacks. He's gotten her three times so far. We have increased our vigilance. The last one happened yesterday during a grocery shopping trip; he was in the shopping cart's seat, she was inches away from him in my front carrier. He smacked her right in the face, open palmed, hard enough to make a sound. She was so surprise that she didn't even cry, but just made a sad face.

I am so tired that this is pure dribble (and no I didn't misspell that) and I am going to go to bed.

6.16.2005

I Don't Know How It's Done

Someone put me in a blender yesterday and pressed "high." They forgot to put the lid on. I am still cleaning myself off the kitchen walls. This will therefore be a haphazard and most likely incomprehensible entry.

Yesterday was a craze-maze of obligations and tasks. Driving Iz to school, then rushing over to the store to get supplies for her school's end-of-year picnic, picking up her and her classmates, herding them over to the park for the festivities, ducking out in the middle to attend Leelo's team meeting at my house (where Supervisor M gave me a book and Sage brought me dinner--such amazing friends I have), fielding phone calls phone calls phone calls all day, returning to the park to pick up the kids and take them back to school, Violet and Iz asking for a playdate, me agreeing within unintended earshot of Violet's sister Fifi, who wanted to come too, driving with all four girls (inc. Mali) to pick up flowers for Babysitter A and Iz's Maestra G and then having to extricate the big girls from the kids' area of the shop and realizing that both Violet and Fifi have already pinned me as a softie and ignored my pleas until the shop lady gave them the boot, then picking up my cousin, then getting back to the house where the girls all ran riot and completely destroyed the house in ways I couldn't even have predicted and pretended to be babies and wore Leelo's diapers and I didn't care as long as they were having fun but Seymour found it creepy that they actually peed in them...I think they were just experimenting with regression and that they still remember what it's like to wear a diaper whereas we adults don't so the concept is totally taboo, and everyone stayed until past nine. That ill-constructed run-on doesn't even begin to describe how befuddled and overwhelmed my mental state, all day.

I do not understand how people can lead social lives when they have small children, and maintain their sanity. Having people over to my house, unless they clean up after themselves and put everything back exactly where it belongs (impossible unless they suck on my brain), wears me out completely. It also takes away from time with Leelo and Mali. Iz, too, but unlike her siblings she can demand Mommy face time. Let's not even mention how much it sucks to be my partner just now.

I can't really describe what is bothering me about this. I am missing out on the things that matter to me even though I am present! I am not really being with my kids and friends and partner--because I am in charge of a family whose logistics take so much time and effort to manage. And, if you were to look at my house or ask my children how often they get a real meal, it would be obvious that I am not managing it very well.

Supervisor M wants Leelo's potty training to start in earnest. She wants family participation. I want to pretend the subject doesn't exist, but have managed to delay any commitment from me until after we return from next month's vacation.

Aiigh. Well. I am having a lovely time with my cousin, as are the other members of my family. Despite the bashing I gave him below, he is a magical person with unparalleled senses of life, wicked sly humor, and connecting with kids that I never will possess. He is a delight to have around.

Yesterday's quote of the day:
Five-year old Fifi to my cousin, who had just taken out his ponytail and whose head then looked like a spider had sat on it: "Nice Dreads!"

Today is Iz's last day of first grade.

Mali is now sitting bolt upright on laps and in car seats and such. She usually goes from a placed sitting position to a tripod instead of falling over. Doesn't yet get how to do it herself, though. Poops real little logs now. Babbling again.

Leelo had a really good day yesterday. He usually does right after he's been sick and we take him off of all his supplements during the illness. Makes one think.

Off to Coffee.

Happy Birthday JP!

I Am Not Paranoid

I am not paranoid
I am not paranoid
I am not paranoid
I am not paranoid
I am not paranoid
I am not paranoid
I am not paranoid
I am not paranoid
I am not paranoid
I am not paranoid

No, indeed. I am merely a thinking, concerned humanitarian. Please feel free to send links to add to this list.

6.15.2005

Especially if They're Both Hot

My cousin and I went hiking through Woodedge park yesterday (Mali slept through the entire outing). While we were marveling at the wildflowers still merrily blooming everywhere, we got to discussing the tricky issues of fidelity and commitment.

He intends to be faithful to his pregnant girlfriend, but that doesn't mean he wants to marry her. I agree that he shouldn't, because he would only be succumbing to pressure. I've seen too many shotgun marriages implode.

We then got to talking about how monogamy doesn't work for everyone--nor should it. I mentioned that one of my friends has both a husband and a girlfriend, openly.

He said he'd be jealous if his girlfriend had another boyfriend, but a girlfriend would be cool.

"Especially if you could watch, right?" I snarked.

"Well..."

"You're kidding! You're saying that a girlfriend wouldn't be an equal threat?"

"Well, sort of..."

I'm trying to tread delicately, because I don't want to bash on my very favorite cousin, but wow. My guess is that he hasn't really given the matter much thought. Still, it's been a long time since I've encountered a funky liberal guy with only half-cooked ideas about relationship equality.

I thought about Badger as we bushwhacked our way back to my street's secret park entrance. There were some tall cattail-looking reeds whose heads ejected visible clouds of pollen as we brushed by them. Badger, unless you can hike with a respirator, you and your allergies will need to use the legitimate park entrance until further notice.

6.14.2005

Blurry Fog

So much yet so little going on, all in a jumble.

Good news for Leelo: PAMPERS already approved him for a sleep clinic evaluation. He may not have any real sleep issues, but it will be nice to rule that one out. Did I mention that they also have an on-staff nutritionist, so I don't have to get a referral?

He has been having another good-ish episode, asking me to sit down and read books with him, really great eye contact, more chasing of Pat the Cat (tenaciously following Pat under the porch, etc.).

Meanwhile, he is still not giving a shit (pun ever so painfully intended) about potty training. Babysitter A, who has taken over a large part of this training, is starting to get frustrated. I told her not to let it get to her; I agree that he doesn't yet get the connection between his bodily functions and their non-apparel receptacles, but at least when the light does go off (and goddammit it will) he'll be well trained in what to do.

Before that happens, though, we need to find larger diapers, as he is busting out of size 6. The excellent local special needs email group directed me to a place to get diapers of all sizes. Eazy-Ups and GoodNightz were also recommended, with the caveat of costliness. Which makes me wonder--would he potty train instantly if I invested in a case of expensive diapers? That happens all the time with typical kids.

The same good online folks also referred me to two places to get ID bracelets for verbally impaired little boys who like to bolt in crowded public places.

Mali is still a wonder of a fantastic baby. She is now in the Holy Roller phase, flipping flipping everywhere she can--even while she's asleep. The babbling has ceased, which is odd, but may be because she needs all her energy for the rolling. She is otherwise very engaged and happy. Appears to have acquired a dislike for pears, judging by the expression on her face when I tried to feed them to her yesterday.

Iz is on an interesting cusp. She wore Leelo's Battman jammies to church on Sunday, but then was slightly embarrassed about doing so. Is complete and utter submission to peer pressure on its way? I hope not; I hope she's able to retain some of her fuck-you attitude. As long as it isn't completely directed at me.

I am very grouchily helping her out with her latest project, a hot air balloon. It is made out of tissue paper and has to be put together very carefully, lots of gluing and stages and waiting (from scratch, not a kit, grumble grumble grumble). The possibility of destruction, what with potential indadvertent delicate tissue paper adhesions and her destructicon of a brother lurking about, is wearing me down. I hope it works. It is blow-dryer powered! She insisted on bringing the science encyclopedia/project book from which it sprang to school today, even though it's written in English.

Great joy yesterday in that the caterpillar she and Seymour captured and then brought to her class turned into a beautiful butterfly, for all the other students to see.

Blah blah blah. That is how I both feel and write, today.

6.12.2005

The Counterfeit Tooth Fairy

Iz totally busted Seymour as he snuck in to put her dollar under her pillow. She played along, though, as you might expect from a girl who is so invested in the process that she pulled her tooth out a bit before it was really ready (lots of blood):

"Mommy! Look, the Tooth Fairy brought me a dollar! Daddy said I just missed her!"

Gazes at gold Sacajawea coin.

"Mommy, is this legal tender here?"

Congrats also to our girl for persevering and filling out that really huge sticker chart (about 80 individual tasks, probably way too huge) and finally getting her spin art kit today. She's since been trying out every conceivable type of paint, pencil, crayon, and pen on it. Merlin has been joining in, too, with lovely results.

And oh, yeah, she finishes first grade in four days. How is that possible?

6.11.2005

Leelo: WTF, Again

Leelo slept for the entire night. He woke up at a reasonable hour (7 A.M.), and has suddenly reverted to Excellent Leelo, with the good eye contact even at close range and when initiated by me, and all sorts of spontaneous requests: "I want veggie booty! I want smoothie! I want the cat! I want Pat!" Four things he hasn't asked for in weeks. He's been following poor Pat around all morning.

Yesterday he ate almost nothing. A little bit of powrr roll, a little bit of his whole wheat croissant. That was it. Now I am afraid to give him anything to eat, because what if it was a day free from something we normally give him that has given me my Leelo back this morning? Isn't this fucking autism crap-shoot fun?

We had Dr. L yesterday rather than Dr. M, as the latter doesn't work on Fridays. Dr. L was even cooler than Dr. M, and will be moving even closer to us when PAMPERS opens up a Deadwood clinic in August. I believe we will move with her.

Dr. L said that rashes are the bane of a pediatrician's existence, and that they don't know definitively what eighty percent of them are. Her thoughts: random viral illness (given the other symptoms), chickenpox (unlikely, though, he's been vaccinated), folliculitis from going in the hot tub at the hotel this past weekend.

In all cases it's the symptoms we treat, so it doesn't matter what the cause is. Leelo had an Aveeeno bath last night, and is supposed to get some Baanadryl this morning. I'm going to check his rash before dosing him, though (the rash is hidden by his footie jammies), and if he's better then I certainly am not going to fuck with his wonderful lucid state by giving him medication.

6.10.2005

Leelo: WTF?

Our boy decided to have a party this morning. From 1:30 to 5 A.M.! He wanted to play, look at books, scratch his wrists and knees, watch Snew White, and complain about feeling icky in general. He was up for anything but sleep.

Seymour and I took him on in shifts, and are both zombified this morning. I am propping myself up with caffeine yet again, much to Seymour's horror. ("But you're so much more pleasant when you're not drinking coffee...")

Why is this happening? Leelo's behavior and language have been disintegrating dramatically over the past two weeks, but this was by far the biggest upset.

He does seem to have some sort of random viral illness. Slight rash (red dots, white halos) that started on his face and has made its way down to his bottom and legs. Sore throat. Yesterday he was extremely lethargic (maybe that qualified as sleeping, for him). I am taking him to the doctor at 2:00, the only available slot (which blotto'd out this afternoon's ABA session, damn it all).

I also let him have some Red Machina juice yesterday afternoon. His diet is so limited that I started worrying (as I often do) about things like scurvy and rickets. RM is a high-omega, B12 & B6 rich, relatively low sugar juice; I figured diaper rash would be the worst possible outcome. Perhaps I erred.

Meanwhile Mali is lying on the ground next to me, yelling "Mama!" It may be coincidence, but I am going to say that she is intentionally calling me because that will cheer me up.

6.09.2005

Correspondence

Dear S--

I re-found the link to your site---I appreciate the on-site apologia!

Also, I'd assumed that you had read the book, but I realized you probably have not---the fact is I DO talk about kids whose parents did even more than we did and did not recover--along with kids in special schools, the problems of poor women, etc. I also mention the moms who never got a chance to help their kids.

There's a key paragraph where I say they are ALL real boys. Not just the "recovered" ones. Actually, I think you'll really like the book, if you can ignore the PR department blurbs.

Best wishes for a good summer,

Kristina

----------

Hi Kristina,

You are right, I have not read your book (though it is
on order). My irritation--which I thought I made
explicit on my blog--was with the publicity.

It sounds as though your book may be The One parents
of newly diagnosed kids should read, the one that
provides the realistic perspective Serousssi's and
Maurrice's lack. After reading theirs I was so
convinced recovery was imminent that I started this
blog to document our success. I also named it "Leelo
the Soon-to-Be-Not-Autistic Boy." Obviously it has
since been retitled.

I read your B,C article the moment it hit my mailbox,
and recall it vividly. My son also goes on a
behavioral bender after a smidgen of sugar, we also
intended to stop breeding after Leelo's diagnosis
(though I now have an infant daughter--post-diagnosis
depression and non-surgical birth control do not mix
well, for me).

So you know: I trashed your article in my blog, even
more violently. I had many problems with it, but even
so wonder how many of the things that lit my hair on
fire were foisted on you by an editor.

But, I didn't write to you personally, or to B,C,
because I didn't think you needed to read what I had
to say as much as I needed to write it. It is not your
fault that your child recovered and mine has not
(yet!).

Let me know if you're okay with my posting your latest
response.

And you have a great summer, too.

=S

------------

S—

[permission given]

Yes, I certainly HOPE it will be the book a mom buys instead of the various others---I tried to put pieces of the entire experience in there- from emotion, IEP legalese and tactics, doctors who are of no help, the cool adults I know on the spectrum, self-blame, pitocin, vaccines, synesthesia, marital trauma, the fabulous getting-kicked-out-of-preschool experience, etc. One-stop shopping for us DMs (desperate moms)!

Thanks,

Kristina

Mali Notes Because This Is My Only Journal

Mali found her toes for real today. Finally! Still obviously an effort to curl up that short round little body.

New consonant today: G(a). Also two-syllable utterances, e.g., gaga, mama. This is something the MYND folks were asking after so it must be a Significant Milestone. She has been doing "mamamamamama" for at least a week.

Forgot to note that she is a hip-riding baby now. Has been for a month. So convenient for me.

Very social, reaching out for everything and everyone. Also makes shy a lot (hides her face) if the social interaction is too intense.

Definitely engaged. Stares at me intently even when I'm not looking at her; if I then turn around and engage her back, I get instant exclamations of delight. Nice.

Started apples two days ago. She likes them well enough. Eats almost a jar full. She insisted of having some of the avocado from my guacamole last night, and was intrigued. I know we're supposed to wait five days between introducing foods, but how can I refuse my little hungry creature? Apple and avocado allergies are rare, thankfully. It's not as though I gave her strawberries and peanut butter on consecutive days.

She seems really hungry, all the time, and so may need more than one solids feeding a day. Sigh.

Seymour met a woman the other day who didn't introduce solids until her son was 2 1/2. How did she ever produce enough milk? She continued to nurse him until he was five. I don't think I'll be able to stick to it quite that long; I am lazy. (Locals, the woman in question is Mauna's sister Wren.)

6.08.2005

Happy Birthday Badger!!

6.06.2005

Smiling Sweetly the Whole Time

Iz and Moomin played some chess today, Iz very pedantically informing Moomin about where all the pieces go and why and rules rules rules. Moomin listened politely at first, but was not thrilled about one player having to lose the game. Iz told Moomin not to worry, that she had set up a move already so that he could capture one of her pieces, see?

Badger and I both overheard her say this, and gawked at each other in amazement. My little jackal, demonstrating kindness? Leelo and an uncharacteristically grumpy Mali commanded my attention for the remainder of the game, which broke down soon after and had its players redirected into Art Time.

During bedtime, I told Iz how proud I was of her for being so nice to Moomin and intentionally letting him win that move.

"Yes," she chirped, "that way my queen could capture his king!"

Gaaaaaah!

Seymour feels for Moomin, but pointed out that she now understands how to sacrifice a piece. All well and good as long as a friend's happiness isn't at stake! Perhaps she needs to play chess with Sophie. Or Eliz.

How to Feel Like a Complete Asshole

I just checked my blog email account. I don't do that very often because, realistically, not that many people read my blog, so who would be writing to me anyhow?

Well, it turns out that Kristina Adjama would. She wrote me a very kind, supportive email--two days before I wrote the bitchy Real Boy post about her book's publicity. I am posting my reply, in case her email habits approximate mine:
Holy shit Kristina,

I just spewed vitriol all over the publicity about your book last night--before I got your email. I was out of town for the weekend and didn't see your message until just now (I check this address infrequently).

I hope it came through in my posting that I was not trashing you or your efforts. I am, however, extremely jealous about your son's recovery, as well as royally annoyed at the lack of counterbalancing stories regarding children who did and do not recover despite their parents' similar efforts. (I do not consider myself to be one of those autism super-parents, by the way. I would describe our efforts as middling, in comparison.)

Again, congratulations on your son's recovery. I wish it was contagious.

I will now go retreat into a corner until my face turns a less violent shade of red.

=S

People I don't know personally are supposed to be theoretical, goddammit!

Very Exciting News

After almost 10 days with only one or two tiny decoy BMs, Mali finally had her first foul-smelling huge real girl poo yesterday. Three of them, actually.

A new era has begun. Seymour and I are equally thrilled to be heading a household with not one but two stinky diaper wearers.

Mali also had her first pool trip and bathing suit-wearing this past weekend. I found it quite amusing that, from the front, her bikini bottoms disappeared completely when she sat down.

Coffee, Again

Had a 2x latte again this morning. It was the only way to congeal my post-OC trip reality into a shape that I could comprehend. This morning was an otherwise impenetrable puddle of dull reflexes, forgetfulness, and panic--meaning that I was a screaming grouchy freak and beware!

One has to feel for Seymour, who, in his desire for a happy household expends great effort to be as helpful as he can, yet "doesn't always get to keep his eyebrows."

But oh, the sweet patience and tolerance that descend in my caffeinated state! Suddenly Leelo's incessant vocalizations and nutterliness (he is at the crappy low point in one of his behavioral cycles) didn't matter so much, didn't make me long for some sort of intra-vehicular sound shield or off switch.

Instead I could focus on just being with him, on taking the few minutes that matter during transitions to get his eye contact, to give him physical reassurance that despite the overwhelming situations I constantly expose him to, he is absolutely loved, and can count on me to be his anchor.

Maybe if I could achieve this state all the time, then he would Recover and be a Real Boy. Right.

6.05.2005

My Real Boy Is Different Than Yours

I am now at the point where Autism Recovery Stories just piss me off.

The latest offender is Kristina Adjama's A Rea1 Boy, which spins the tale of her son's recovery through intensive GFCF, etc. and all possible ABA/Speech therapies.

What twists my panties about these stories is not my crippling jealousy; it is the way in which they are invariably presented:

This Parent Saved Her Child From Autism by Devoting Every Atom of Her Being to His Recovery!

My anger stems not from my being an autism slacker mom who juggles her atoms between three kids* rather than focusing a particle beam on the one. No. What makes me want to gnaw on a fresh raw publicist's head is knowing of so many parents who did, and do, exactly what the recovered kid's parents did, with the same amount of energy and focus--but without the miraculous result.

Where are their book deals?

-------

*Three kids! Three! Jo, can you believe it?

6.03.2005

Adios, Amiga

It's official. Iz is fluent in Spanish. Her tutor said that, as much as she loves working with our girl, Iz doesn't need her any more. Next week will be their last session together. Which is too bad in that Maestra L. will be missed, but good in that it frees up another afternoon for our girl to just be a kid and run free free free! Or whine about wanting to watch TV.

Depending on how the Spanish program is at Big Noggin (and whether or not Iz gets in), we may need to Maestra L. back in a year or so, anyhow.

In the meantime, Iz is wandering around singing J. Joplin's Mercedes song. She cannot believe that there was ever a time when color TVs were a big deal. I told her that it is similar to how people view flatscreen TVs nowadays. Although, since there is a flatscreen TV in her room on her grandparents' boat, she is still lacking proper context.

Mali Six Months--Verified

Yesterday was Mali's official six month regular pediatric visit. It was our first meeting with the new pediatrician, Dr. M. She is wonderful! Warm, practical, good-humored. Young, too. I think that may have made a difference with respect to her pro-choice attitude towards vaccinations.

She works in the PAMPERS rabbit warren, which has the disadvantages of a large organization (front desk: "We don't know if the Doctor has your medical records; that's not our area") and the advantages of an extremely well-run large organization (being handed a packet upon exit with your baby's current measurements plotted on growth charts, all the information you'd ever want to know about this point in your child's development, etc.).

Dr. M did feel obligated to discuss the dangers of Mali's not being immunized, which is fine. I do not have a problem with people providing me with information in a non-judgmental fashion. She also had me sign a form declining the vaccinations. PAMPERS having such a form on hand is is cheering, to me at least.

We talked a bit about my concerns about Mali. I asked the doctor if she thought Mali's head was a funny shape, and she said yes indeed, it was. It is flat on the left side, behind her ear, from sleeping on that side in anticipation of nursing whenever she wants to. But both of her fontanels are still open, so if I switch back over to Seymour's side of the bed--which will make Mali sleep on the other side--it should correct itself.

Here I am reminded of KV, whose youngest has more pronounced plagiocephaly--the helmet-wearing kind--and whose pediatrician told her that babies' heads are so malleable that if you put a star-shaped helmet on them, they would end up with a star-shaped head.

I forgot to ask about her slight head tilt. I suspect it has the same sleep-side-preference cause. Next time.

I also asked why she thought Mali hasn't found her toes yet. She pointed to Mali's new stats of 75th percentile for weight (17.1 lbs) vs. 10th for height (24.5 inches) and said the same thing as Giddy privately suggested--it's too hard to reach over all that pudge. Dr. M also said that bringing her hands to the midline, which she's been doing for months, is more important anyhow.

We talked a bit about eating habits and other gastrointestinal issues. I mentioned that Mali hadn't had a BM since Sunday--five days ago--when we started pears. She said that solids can be constipating and to try the ol' rectal stimulation/lubricated thermometer trick. And to not forget to give Mali water along with the food.

I told her how Mali lunges after anything I'm eating. She said something I hadn't thought about but which was somewhat reassuring--that for wee babies eating is only partially about food. It's also very social. This is reassuring. Any social cues are reassuring. Now that I think about it, I don't really remember Leelo trying to eat all my food, all the time, the way she does.

Nice to hear. But I still worry about her eye contact aversion. She only likes people from 3 feet away or farther. I think I'm just going to be a big worrisome freak until she is 24 months old and having conversations with me.

6.02.2005

My Little Lab Rats, A Walk Down Video Lane

I just enrolled Leelo in the MYND Institute's Regre5sion and Imitati0n in Ear1y Autism study. As with Mali's enrollment in the Infant Sib1ings study, this is a mutually beneficial situation in that the results of his developmental and clinical assessments will be shared with us. The study includes blood testing, and they will let us know if they see any elevated levels of mercury, etc. And they're paying us! ($20/visit, but still.)

They're also going to be looking at videos of Leelo from birth until age two.

I've been looking over these videos myself lately to see how he compares to Mali. The differences so far are fairly significant. Things that we thought were slightly odd at the time become, with the benefit of hindsight, smoking guns. A five-month old baby will not look at me or the camera after five minutes of cajoling? That is just not normal. He also had a really wacky, inappropriate laugh. At the time it was cute, now it just sounds alarming.

Also interesting is to note how much he sounds like two-year-old Iz. Similar voice, many similar phrases: her "I want to watch Te1etubbies" is, for instance, indistinguishable from his. Perhaps he'll start running around telling people that Captain Kirk is from Iowa, as well.

It is amusing to see today's monsters scampering about in their four-years-ago incarnations as teeny, tiny kids. Eliz and Sophie are miniscule, as is Merlin. And there, in the background of the Mom's Club spring party, is a flash of purple hair to remind me that that was the day I met Badger.

6.01.2005

Now We Just Need a Theme Song

Here's the image for the t-shirt we'll all be wearing at my dad's surprise 70th birthday party in OC this upcoming weekend:

They Declared Her...

Cute! The people at the MYND Institute have decided that Mali is, if nothing else, an absolutely darling baby. Well, duh. But it's nice to hear.

The study leader, who is a developmental pediatrician, also told me that Mali looks just fine to her, right now. Our baby's avoidance of confrontational eye contact from her frantic mother, and spastic arm flapping, are not worrisome at this point.

This doctor spent a good long time with our girl, observing her and even holding Mali in her lap for some of the eye-movement tracking studies. I was relieved that Mali kept twisting around in the doctor's lap to look up at her face for reassurance.

There were ever so many movement and interactivity tests. I freaked out a bit because Mali wasn't able to do many of the things they set up, but then realized (and was later reassured) that there were a lot of "ceiling" items that some but not all babies can do at her age. Lots of the tests, such as joint attention, aren't expected to be in place for another six months.

It was nice to hear the researchers remarking on some of the things Mali's doing that I probably would never take notice of as significant, like her self-soothing hand sucking or transferring of items from one hand to another.

Mali was compliant for the tests, but tired, and so not at her very best. She cried for the entire last 30 minutes of our inbound leg (Sacrament0 is FAR), and needed at least three nursing breaks and one nap mid-study. That must be why she wouldn't smile at me when I tried to get her to do so specifically (although she smiled at me five thousand other times), wouldn't really look at the cute baby in the mirror, wouldn't hold a cheerio in a pincer grip, and wouldn't try to grab an object placed on the floor in front of her while she was on her tummy. She did all these things except the command-smile when we got home. Plus really good sitting up for at least a count of four.

I forgot to ask the pediatrician if I should worry about Mali not having found her toes yet (Iz found them at four months, and even Leelo found his at six months), or about her funny head shape. The pediatrician did say I could call her at any time. However, Mali's formal 6 month assessment, with her new pediatrician, is on Thursday. I can wait two days.

A Homeopathic Bonus For You

I churned this essay out tonight in order to make good on a promise to Leelo's Iron Gate teacher (I missed one of the required night classes to go to the talk described below). It's a fast crappy write, but should meet the school requirements, and I am never one to miss out on an opportunity to recycle something I've written--however nonsensical and choppy.

Aimee Lanski: Impossib1e Cure and the Promise of Homoeopathy

Aimee Lanski is a practicing homeopath. She is also the parent of a child who was formerly labeled autistic. Ms. Lanski asserts that her son recovered via homoeopathy.

I saw Ms. Lanski speak on April 19th at Parents Helping Parents in San Jose. I went (and dragged my friend Ep with me) because my son Leelo is autistic, and, like most parents of autistic children, I am drawn to stories of recovered children. I want to have a recovered child. We all do. But, until scientists find definitive causes of or cures for autism, all we parents can do is gawk at these golden children and consider whether their journey is one we can undertake ourselves.

Parents of recovered children usually champion one of two pathways: applied behavioral analysis (intensive one-on-one incremental learning) and speech therapies, or biomedical/dietary regimens (dietary supplements, chelation to remove heavy metals from the body, gluten and casein free diets). While some children have recovered using only applied behavioral analysis (ABA therapy) and speech therapies, it is uncommon to hear of a child recovering via biomedical means without doing ABA as well.

We have tried both pathways with Leelo. After two years of therapies, he has made fantastic progress--but he is still autistic. I felt it was time to investigate other avenues, and thought that homoeopathy sounded the most promising and least invasive.

Ms. Lanski struck me as thoughtful and intelligent. She was quick to remark that her own "conversion" to homoeopathy was as surprising to her as it would be to anyone who knew of her former life as a computer scientist. She gave a succinct though thorough overview of homoeopathy itself before launching into the story of her son's recovery.

It turns out that, of course, her son had also used language and speech therapies. In her opinion, this only partially explains her son's cure:
Behavioral and language therapies are very helpful in helping autistic children learn to communicate with and navigate within their world. While these therapies may provide only limited help without homeopathic treatment, with homeopathic treatment, a child will benefit much more greatly from them and truly begin to blossom. If you pursue homeopathic treatment, you should continue such programs until they are no longer necessary.

She also cited vaccine damage and food sensitivities (dairy, mostly) as triggers, though was quite adamant that not one of the counteracting therapies or practices was as important as the homeopathic treatments her son received.

It was at this point that I had to admit to some doubt. I do think homoeopathy deserves respect for its whole-body approach, for avowing that a practitioner must take time to interview patients thoroughly to understand all the health-affecting factors in their lives before deciding on a cure. I also suspect that there is some validity in the basic homeopathic approach of dilutions, in that a little bit of what ills you can actually cure you. However, when it came down to an explanation of what sort of homeopathic "remedies" (mixtures of the dilutions) were involved, things got a bit hazy and mystical. It could be that the explanation was too complicated to go into within the time allotted.

It turned out that it didn't matter anyhow. The crowd of fifty or so parents overtook the questions-and-answers session and transformed it into a vaccines damage group discussion. Which is not why Ms. Lanski was there. She was clearly unnerved.

Will we try homeopathy? I'm not sure. I think it might have some validity. I suspect that, at the very least, the thorough intake interview might point out some holes in Leelo's overall treatment program. I appreciate that homeopaths advocate a healthy, holistic approach to the treatment of autism and to well-being in general. But I just don't know if I have the energy or patience to wait out the years and years of gentleness and gradualness for a cure that might be happening because of the other therapies anyhow.

More information: Ms. Lanski's site

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