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.

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