Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sleep, baby, sleep

I've always been an early riser.  Back when I was working in the videogame industry, I would go to sleep thinking about a problem, and dream up answers.  I'd wake up at 4:00 a.m., convinced that I had solutions to try out.  I'd shower quickly, throw on some clothes, and drive off to the office, trying all the while to reconstruct what I'd come up with.  I'd hurry to my computer and test my theory.  It was right maybe a third of the time.  On the bright side, I was up and thinking and had the office to myself (although Jason, Jeff, and Paul were often earlybirds, too). 

The usefulness of this attribute ended about 10 years ago, when I became a stay-at-home dad.  As a parent, the survival skill is to sleep when your kid sleeps.  Sleep is important.  It's important to you and your kids.  You need it to make your thinker work well.  They need it to help their brains develop and assimilate all the stuff they're learning.  A lot of ASD kids have sleep issues.  Apparently, they don't produce melatonin the way the rest of us do, which means that their systems don't recognize that it's time to snooze.

With my typical kid, I would wake up early (but after 5:00 generally), thinking about things that needed to be done. I'd go make coffee, shower, and play World of Warcraft until my son woke up at oh, say, 7:00.  It was all me-time up 'til then.  Ah, the good old days.

Bed time was kind of fun, too.  We'd sing a song, read a book , make up a story about adventures with Princess Aurora and her dragon.  There was one summer when we put his mattress inside an old camping tent and he slept in there.  It was pretty smooth sailing.

When Ben came along, things changed. He didn't want to sleep.  He would wake up in the middle of the night.  He wanted to get up and do stuff.   As parents, I think we were doing all the right things -- keeping a routine, a night light, comfy pajamas, background noise (cool-mist humidifier), etc.  It just didn't work all the time. 

Lovely Wife and I split up the responsibilities.  If there was Ben action any time after, say, 4:00 a.m., I would not be able to sleep anyway, with my morning-brain, so I might as well get up.  If it was earlier than that, she would generally take over and try to bounce him back to sleep.  This wasn't every night, but often enough to be exhausting. 

Travel is the worst though.  Sleep disruptions always occur when we travel, and there are other people to worry about, and no basement to retreat to.

Monday, November 28, 2011


It's Monday!  First day back to school after Thanksgiving break!  Ahhhh.  Can't relax yet though, have to get kiddies off to school.

Getting kids ready for school can be challenging.  Getting ASD kids ready is like spinning a plate on a stick while you hop on one foot and do your taxes.  Ok, maybe not that bad, but let's review:

  • 6:07 *rattle-rattle* Ben's awake!  Yay, he slept past 6:00!
  • 6:08 "Good morning, good morning!" Change diaper, put on breakfast clothes (he's eating soy yogurt this morning and that might be messy).
  • 6:15 start Pocoyo on Netflix/computer, hide the dog's water and food, vitamins, make coffee, apple juice, yogurt w/granola, let the dog out, exhale.
  • 6:30 go downstairs, turn on wii, discover that it's not working, switch to dvd player and Bear in the Big Blue House , bounce on bed (that yogurt stayin' down?), build some train tracks, gather up checkers from the floor and take them upstairs to throw down again, repeat.
  • 6:55 go get newspaper (Ben loves getting the newspaper), admire purple clouds, start shower for Bubba (pick up checkers from tub first), go wake up Bubba, retrieve Ben who has just busted in and jumped on his sleeping mother.
  • 7:10 pack gluten-free/casein-free lunch, write "home note" in school journal, Mama's ready to take over now...go to the bathroom.
  • 7:30 Bubba finally gets out of the shower, puts PJs back on (why?).  Get Bubba some yogurt ("NO Ben!  That's Bubba's yogurt!") and vitamins, discuss with Bubba what his goal for the week in school will be and fill out the form, lay out clothes for Bubba, shoo Ben out of Bubba's room (he can really wreak some havoc in there), get Ben in his school clothes.
  • 7:40 Send Bubba off to brush his teeth and get dressed.  Bubba vanishes into his room.  Ben wants to go play in the back yard now, and we use this as an excuse to get his shoes and coat on.  Meanwhile, we talk about his schoolmates and how nice it would be to see them.  Ben starts rattling off their names, which makes me genuinely happy.  I also take a moment to feel shame that I lost the invitation to a birthday party a couple of weeks ago.  I can't even remember which kid sent it.
  • 7:45 Bubba emerges from his room.  Yay!  He's dressed in clean clothes!  And a warm hat!  "You need shoes on, buddy."  Bubba goes back into his room to find socks, shutting the door.
  • 7:50  "OK!  Put those shoes on!" " I want to wear my other shoes."  "OK!  Where are they?" "I'll go look for them."  Ben is maintaining very well.  Other mornings have not gone so smoothly.
  • 7:55 Bubba is now ready to go.  He's not wearing the warm coat that I'd hoped for, but he's 4th grade stylish and now is not the time to argue.  It's time to go!  Ben's school starts in 5 minutes...thank Odin we live close by.  Oops!  Grab a snack for Bubba's backpack.  Out the door we go.  Ben heads for the street.  Chase him down and load up the car.
  • 8:03 Arrive at school, having listened to U2 at only slightly excessive volume.  Bubba's been pretending to sing along and Ben is fascinated.  We dash into school and pause around the corner from the classroom.  I whisper, "Ben!  Let's sneak up on them!"  He goes for it, and we head into the room.  Happy greetings from the teachers (they are the BEST).
  • 8:10  No rush now...Bubba's school doesn't start for 20 minutes and it's only a couple of blocks away.  We arrive and he heads in to hang out with the other early kids in the cafeteria.  A couple of his good friends are in that group, so he should have fun.
  • 8:15 Head home and do all of those things that are hard to do when the kids are bills, decipher medical bills, recycle, laundry, etc.   I'll write a blog post first though.
This has been a pretty awesome morning...there were no tantrums, nobody's sick, we all got a pretty good night's sleep.  If I was going to be in a Star Trek episode where they get stuck in a time loop, I might just pick this morning.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Candle Trick

What's it like to be the sibling of an ASD kid?  I don't know, but I do remember that before Happy Trouble came along, I used to play lots of games with my eldest.  Video games, boardgames, card games -- we had a blast.  Our family did a lot more camping and outdoorsy stuff too.  We had an awesome NINE day raft trip with some good friends.

That's not happening these days.  Ben almost always needs someone's attention.  He's sleeping across my knees right now (the only way he'll nap).  Lovely Wife works many hours a week (she's working right now), and there are always chores to be done (I'm still looking at some dirty pots from Thanksgiving).  Thankfully, Eldest is having a playdate at a friend's house, so something fun is happening for him.

Anyway, yesterday, I decided that we'd try the new Zelda game for the wii -- The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword .  We used to love the old one back in N64 days, and I thought we could all settle down after leftovers and give it a try.  It might even entertain Ben.

I loaded the boys up in the car and we whipped over to the Blockbuster where we are signed up for the new monthly program.  Oh no!  They were all out!  As Ben dragged me around the store, grabbing for all the candy displays, the clerk let me know that the Millcreek Blockbuster had it in stock.  "Do I still get it for free as part of the program?"  "No."  *sigh*

We gloomily got back in the car (after a brief chase around the parking lot for Ben).  I looked at Eldest and though about how much he'd been looking forward to some family gaming.  It wasn't a hard decision.  We headed to the Millcreek Blockbuster and picked it up (with more candy grabbing/Ben wrangling).  Yay!

We zipped home and made some lunch.  Eldest put the game in to try it out.  Oh no!  It requires the Wii MotionPlus !  We don't have that!  We can't do it!

By the time Ben got his walkabout, nap across my knees, snack, and some backyard playing, it was 4:00.  We headed to BestBuy...on Black Friday.  I'm sure it was worse in the morning, but it was still pretty dadgum chaotic...a great place for an autistic kid.  We did it though...we found the thing, waded through the herd, and zerbitted our way through the checkout line.  Yay!  Nothing can stop us now!

We got home, and I started pulling out the leftovers.  Our microwave died a while back (killed by Poppodoms ), so you have to get started early, even with leftovers.  Eldest came upstairs, completely dejected.  It wasn't some point in the process, the cursor would not show up.  "Ok...we'll figure this out."

And we did figure it  out (thank you Google).  Our "sensor bar" had gone bad.  It turns out that the sensor bar on the wii is really just 2 clusters of infrared lights.  You can see them if you look at them through the iphone camera.  Plain as day, only one of ours showed up.  What to do?  Put a lit candle in front of each cluster.  It worked!  Yay!

Ok, it wasn't my dream game evening -- no way would Ben sit still for lit candles that easily reached.  Still, he eventually went to bed and the rest of us got to hang out with Zelda (I fell asleep on the floor).

Tip o the day:

Cut the cord.  We cut cable a while back and just use it for internet access.  The way things are, we can't let a television show tell us when we can watch it anyway.  We have hulu and netflix and a computer and we can decide when to start watching something.  We can pause it when we need to.  There's a whole lotta content out there that's great, and we're saving about a hundred bucks a month.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

I did it!

It's Thanksgiving morning.  While my dear wife rocks the kitchen, preparing a feast, I head to the back yard with the boys to rake leaves.  As I do it, I think about what to post next.  Should I talk about holidays with a kid on the spectrum (this lady did a pretty good job)?  Should I talk about how mundane tasks like raking leaves can take forever or just not get done?  I should definitely encourage people to enjoy the little moments like how Ben will lie on his back and watch falling leaves. 

While I'm ruminating on this, I hear a rushing noise.  My heart skips a beat...Ben's on his trike and is zooming down the hill all by himself.  No back-up.  This has never ended well. 

There's nothing to be done, I can't get there in time.  It's not a big hill, just a roll in the earth where the Wasatch Fault passes through our back yard.  Still, we've had lots of wipe-outs there and don't really need another trip to the ER.

With a huge smile on his face, he rolls to a stop.  "I DID IT!" he shouts.  Older brother and I look at each other and bust out laughing.  Wow.

For the next hour, he repeats his performance.  Bubba joins in on his old bike, racing with him.  Ben learns to push the trike back up the hill without getting frustrated.  Wife and I hug and watch them through the window.

Best Thanksgiving ever, and we haven't eaten yet.

Monday, November 21, 2011


My wife and older son are off at a cabin right now, hanging out with another mom and her two kids.  Ben and I have been on our own since about noon yesterday.  We spend a lot of time alone together.  My wife's job requires her to go on occasional trips and frequently work on weekends.  Even so, I can barely imagine what it's like to be a single parent of an autistic kid or kids (like this lady).

When we were first researching what the autism diagnosis meant, I came across a statistic saying that 80% of couples with an autistic kid get divorced.  That sent a chill down my spine.  Put that together with my wife being an attorney, a female attorney, and me having been married before, and our odds of remaining married are pretty dang low.

It doesn't feel that way though.  I fell in love with my wife about 17 years ago.  I keep finding more reasons to love and respect her.   Raising an autistic kid does add stress, but it's also shown me facets of my wife that I might never have seen otherwise, and I love her all the more.

Oh, apparently that 80% number is bunk.

Anyway, my hat's off to those of you going it alone.  Hang in there, kitty.

Tip o the day:

Have a date night.  Heck, go stay in a hotel.  We had trouble finding sitters who could handle Ben until I came across Sitter City.  It's a matchmaking service that hooks parents up with sitters (or nannies).  You can describe what your needs are (there's even a check box for special needs).  We had something like 20 applications in the first day.  There was a lot of chaff in there, but we've found 3 wonderful sitters with special needs training who are awesome.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

perfect pizza

We like pizza.  Back in the day, on Fridays, I would make pizza dough from scratch and we would construct our own pizzas.  My older boy liked Pizza Hut thin crust pizza (me too), so my goal was to make one that he liked even better.  I did my internet research and found out how to do it.  I learned to pre-cook my crust (and my toppings too).  I rolled out my dough and poked holes in it.  I got a pizza stone as a gift from my lovely wife, which helped a lot.  Other than that, the thing that made the most difference was high gluten flour.  I had it down!  My oldest proclaimed that he'd rather eat my pizza than Pizza Hut (which is not precisely the same as saying that mine tasted better, but I'll take it).

And that's when it happened...I took the boys to visit my family, back in Tennessee for the holidays.  After a couple of days, my sister let me know that one of her acquaintances had cured her child of autism by switching to a gluten free diet.  Not wanting to appear a slacker in front of my mom, I said "OK, let's do it!.  What's for dinner?"  My mom looked a little panicky, but stepped up to the challenge.  For the rest of Christmas, we had more fruits and vegetables than I had for my entire youth.

A little more research told me that it was not just gluten free, but GFCF...gluten free/casein free that we needed to be. Casein is a protein found in milk, so no dairy.  No cheese grits, no corn bread, no .... pizza.  I don't really grok the theory about why we're supposed to be GFCF, but I will say that his digestive tract seems to be happier when we don't have those things.  When there are occasional issues, we can almost always find something that we can blame it on (Twizzlers have wheat flour in them!).

We've been doing this for almost 2 years now.  Our family eats lots of rice and beans and corn.  Asian and Indian cuisine works pretty well.  There are some pretty good pasta substitutes, using rice or quinoa.

Does it work?  I don't know.  What we really need to do is buckle down and do an elimination diet.  That's hard because he wants to eat what other people are eating, which means either a fight every night, or we all get fascist on our food for a few months.  How about it?  Any of you done an elimination diet?  Any tips for me?

Here's a recipe for ya.  I pulled it off the web and have made it 4 or 5 times, with good success unless I use light coconut milk.

  •   2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  •   1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  •   2 garlic cloves, minced
  •   1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  •   1 1/2 pounds lean ground lamb
  •   1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
  •   1 medium sweet potato (1/2 pound), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  •   One 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk, stirred
  •   1 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  •   Salt and freshly ground pepper
  •   1/2 cup frozen baby peas, thawed
  •   1/3 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
  •   Hot sauce, for serving

  In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook over moderately high heat until barely softened, about 4 minutes. Add the lamb and cook over moderately high heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until it starts to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the curry powder and sweet potato and cook for 2 minutes. Add the coconut milk and stock and season with salt and pepper. Cover partially and simmer over moderate heat until the sweet potato is tender, about 15 minutes. Add the peas and cook until heated through. Stir in the cilantro and serve with hot sauce.

Serve with warm naan or white rice.

p.s.  here's anonymous's link from the comments:  Gluten-Free on a Shoestring: 125 Easy Recipes for Eating Well on the Cheap

How to buy a gift for an autistic kid

It can be hard to know what to get any kid, but it's even harder when the kid is autistic.  My kid's 4 1/2, so I only have direct experience up to that age.   I also have an almost 10 YO, so we've got lots of hand-me-downs for experimentation.  Here are some suggestions for how to select a gift for an ASD kid.

Whatever it is, make sure it's sturdy.  Toys that come into our house are subject to a lot of abuse.  If it can be ripped apart, it will.  It will get chewed on, stomped on, tossed around, thrown downstairs, left out in the snow, and possibly water-boarded.  Small parts will wind up in his mouth.

Sturdy doesn't have to mean expensive.  Take, for example, the Dump Truck Issue.  We started out with  a plastic Tonka.  It survived years of play by my older son, but the plastic was maybe a little too thin.  I suspect that exposure to the elements may have weakened it, but it wound up breaking into pointy shards after a few months with Ben.  I decided to replace it with STEEL and bought this one: (don't buy it)  I thought for sure this one would last, but it only managed about a week.  Now the sides are all bent in, and it's like the metal edges have been worked over with a whetstone.

badass truck
This one is just right.  It's made of thick plastic, and best of all, breaks into two parts.  The truck separates from the trailer.  Ben can get the joy of "breaking" it and putting it back together.  A friend gave it to our older son a couple of years ago (thanks, Susan).  I don't think it's on the market anymore...they probably ran out of the secret meteorite-based ingredient that makes it so indestructible.

Ask the parents.  Every kid has obsessions, and ASD kids can take it to a whole new level.   Thomas the tank engine and Winnie the pooh have been pretty popular and there are lots of branded things to choose from.  Right now, we're diggin' on Curious George.

If you buy clothes, make sure they're comfortable and easy to put on and take off.  No tags is ideal.  Better ask the parents what fabrics the child will tolerate and how they are with zippers and buttons.

Don't go by the age level on the box.  A puzzle geared towards your standard 4 YO would vex my kid, and I don't want him vexed.

Take the kid's sensory needs into account.  Some kids are sensation seekers, and some avoid them.  Some can't stand loud noises.  For us, things that light up, make noise, and move in response to an action (like button-pushing) are good -- particularly if the response is predictable, rather than random.  Rocking horses, mini-tramps (preferably with a handrail), swings, and beanbags can be good.

Those are some guidelines.  Here is a list of toys suggested by a speech therapist.  I looked it over, and I think it's better than what I would have come up with.

List of Toys for Autistic Kids

Good luck and happy holidays to you.

Oh, Along Came the Bird has an awesome gift guide...check it out.

Friday, November 18, 2011

A joke for ya

Little Timmy was five years old and had not spoken.  His mother had taken him to all kinds of therapists and doctors and nobody had an answer as to why.

One morning, she was making his breakfast and overdid the toast.  Being in a hurry, she buttered it and put it on his plate.

Timmy made a face and announced, clear as a bell, "This toast is burnt!"

His mother was astonished.  "Timmy!" she said, "You can talk!  In complete sentences!  Why haven't you done it before now?!"

Timmy calmly said, "Everything's been fine up to now."

I find that funny, but there are some grains of truth in it.  For instance, some Asperger's kids talk early (little professors), but some talk late, and when they do, they sometimes start out with complete sentences.

Also, one speech therapist we visited recommended making our son ask for things, even if it gets frustrating for him.  Being parents, we often know what our kids want or expect without asking.  It can help get speech going to drag your feet a little and make them use their words.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Curious Ben Goes to the Capitol

My wife volunteered to help the Utah Autism Coalition and Autism Votes.  So yesterday, we headed downtown, picked her up from work, and zipped up to the state capitol building to meet with Ben McAdams.  He's the state senator from our district and he agreed to meet with us to learn about what it's like to have a family member on the spectrum.  One other person showed up, a grandmother whose grandchildren go to Spectrum Academy, a charter school for kids with autism.

 The senator was occupied with other business when we arrived, so we had plenty of time to explore and stomp around the serious men in suits on cell phones.  Ben seemed to like the high ceilings, but was a little overwhelmed by the echoes of the building.  I thought for sure he was going to jump into the fountain on the way in, but he held off on that.  Eventually, we got into a meeting room and shut the doors so Happy Trouble was contained.  He ricocheted around for a bit, then crawled across my wife's lap where he was bounced until he fell asleep.  This is a really comforting pose for him and builds strong calf muscles for us.  It's the only way he naps unless he passes out in the car.

Senator McAdams was very gracious and listened to our stories.  We tried to get across the pain and heartbreak of the process -- learning that there is something "wrong" with your kid, getting The Diagnosis, researching, reading quack theories, going to doctors, therapists, sleep deprivation, airplane travel, not knowing what your kid is capable of or will be.  I wish I'd been better prepared to tell it coherently, but I think he's a pretty astute person and got the gist.

Tip o the day:

Go to the spice rack and pull out some good scents.  We like cloves, cumin, cinnamon, curry powder, and sage.  Let your kiddie smell them one at a time, and repeat the names.  BTW, if they put a clove in their mouth, they won't do it twice.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wash hair!

Ben loooves to "go walkabout".  This means we amble through our neighborhood, sometimes pushing a broken pink toy stroller (yea, I'm confident in my masculinity) and walking on top of walls.  I think he gets a lot out of this -- exercise, practicing his balance, pushing something.   When we do this in the afternoon, he usually sleeps well that night.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, we went walkabout and he got ahead of himself and fell, scraping his hands.  He was upset and it was time to head back, so I put him on my shoulders and we headed for home.  A little galloping got him back into a good mood.  Just as we got to our driveway, this happened:

Ben says loudly:  "Wash hair!"  
Me, perplexed:  "Huh?"

Ben spits enthusiastically on my head and proceeds to rub it into my hair with great vigor.

Since then, he's attempted this with others, but since he's usually not riding them and announces his attempt, they've managed to avoid it.  I wear a hat.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Yes! Immunize your child!

Don't listen to her!
I love the internet, but sometimes it's too easy to find out-of-date or just plain bad information.  There was a scare some years ago that it was immunizations that cause autism.  It's not true, but you'll still find lots of junk out there about that idea.  There's a lot in print, too.

About two years ago,  my wife was out of town on business for the better part of a week.  Ben got a flu shot.  It was a little hard to get -- this was back when h1n1 was in the news.  I had just read Jenny McCarthy's book (I refuse to link it), even though I was pretty sure what she said about the immunization/autism link was crap.

That night, a half hour after I put Ben to bed, I heard him crying and yelling.  I went in and saw that he had vomited.  He had a high fever, too.  I washed him off, gave him Motrin, dressed him in clean pajamas and tidied the mess. While I was sitting there with him in my lap, waiting for the Motrin to kick in, a little part of me panicked.  I was already tired from a long week (this was on a Friday), and my spouse was all the way across the country.   What if Jenny McCarthy had something?  What if my kid was extra-susceptible to something in vaccines?  Regardless, he was having some kind of reaction -- I should tell my doctor, right?

I called our pediatrician's office (which was closed, this being a Friday night) and got the on-call guy to call me back. He basically said to avoid dehydration, stick to a BRAT diet, and keep the fever down.  I think he was annoyed to be talking to me, but it helped me banish the McCarthy fears.  In the end, Ben was sick for about a week.

A few months later, I came across this book: Autism's False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure .  I'll warn you -- this book may make you really mad.  If you could find a culprit -- someone to blame -- what would you want to do?  There are people in this book who took those feelings and pointed them at vaccines.  The reason they did it was to make money by selling alternate "safe" vaccines.  In doing so, they scared people away from getting their kids vaccinated.

Tip o the day:

Find your public library online and reserve books there.  You can see when they're ready for pickup and just run in and grab them.  I don't know about your kid, but mine doesn't like to let me browse leisurely at the library...or anywhere, really.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Tip o the day: crunchy vs. chewy

So, I just attended a seminar about self-help skills last Thursday.  It was put on by an OT who went on a tangent to explain some things about kids with sensory issues.  I'll try to summarize it, because it was pretty good.

Basically, all kids can get overstimulated.  Our kids can get overstimulated more easily than others.  Kids can also be in need of stimulation and seek it out.  In between those two states is kind of a happy place where they will be calm and receptive to learning, eating dinner, etc.

You can help your kid get to that happy place by providing the right kind of sensory input.  Repetitive linear motion (bouncing, rocking in a chair, seesawing, and swinging) can calm them down.  Lifting heavy things (pushing a wheelbarrow around) is another good way.

Want to get them perked up a little?  Pick'em up and twirl them around.

Chewing gum or eating chewy foods can be calming, whereas crunchy potato chips may have the opposite effect.

That's the quick and dirty version.  Here's a link to more info.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Welcome to "Happy Trouble"!

What's it about?  

Ben, my 4 YO son, has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), specifically pervasive developmental delay/not otherwise specified (PDD/NOS) with sensory integration dysfunction (SID).   I want to share what we've learned about parenting a kid like that.

If you're a parent, you know that having a kid is a completely different world from being childless.  When you have a kid with "special needs", it's like that...but another order of magnitude different.

Why "Happy Trouble"?  

Ben really enjoys being mischievous.  For example, on school days, he and his brother and I walk out to the car, backpacks loaded.  It's not a long trip to the car, but he meanders a bit, despoils the vegetable garden, leaps down the steps (sometimes climbing them again to repeat his leaping), and then creeps slowly towards the car.  I open the door and say, "Get in!" at which point he turns and runs down the drive towards our very busy street, giggling maniacally.  I chase him down and scoop him up, giving him a toss in the air.  He grins at me and says "Trouble!" with great satisfaction.

Over time, he's decided that trouble is his nickname for when he's in a mischievous mood.  I think it was when my wife got home from work (which is the high point of his day) that he first coined the phrase "happy trouble".  We all thought it had a ring to it.

OK...I know that "trbl" is slang for "terrible", but according to the urban dictionary it's a combination of both terrible and trouble. was taken by a passionate Slovakian artist who is a massive fan of Mr. Alan Rickman.  I kind of like her art.

Why read it?

If your situation is like mine, you don't have a lot of time to browse the web.  In fact, you may think going to the bathroom by yourself is a luxury and you would really like to take a shower.  I'm going to try to keep it concise and light and occasionally say something useful.

Feel free to comment on this stuff, and share your own insights.  Being a parent to an autistic kid can be a very isolating situation, but we all come up with ways to deal with it and if we share the good ones, we'll all benefit.

What's with the Amazon ads?

Occasionally, there will be links to stuff on Amazon here.  If you follow the link and purchase the item (in fact, if you purchase anything during that browsing session), Ben's school will get a percentage of the purchase price.  I'm not making anything off this -- the checks will go straight to the school.

I'm calling it a school, but it's more than that.  They do very intensive therapy that's proven to help kids with ASD.  They partner with universities to conduct research and also train service providers.  We feel really, really lucky to be there.