Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Hoorah!  Ben just told his first joke.  It's been brewing for about 3 weeks.  On our recent trip to Tennessee, he started trying to tell knock-knock jokes, but they weren't funny.  They were generally along these lines:

Ben:  knock-knock
Me:  Who's there?
Ben:  Ben.
Me: Ben who?
Ben (yells):  BEN!

We still laughed, of course.

A few minutes ago, we got this:

Ben:  knock-knock
Bubba:  Who's there?
Ben:  Ben.
Bubba:  Ben who?
Ben:  Ben-nana!

Good stuff.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


I'm not proud of this story, but I want to tell it anyway.

Sunday morning, Ben and I went to the park bright and early. I walked and he rode his scooter.  We were at the park for about 20 minutes and swinging away merrily when we were approached by a young man.

He looked to be about 18, but I'm not good at judging young peoples' ages any more.  He had on jeans, a dark t-shirt, and a black cowboy hat.  His mustache was thin, but not to be laughed at.

I think he stood there for a minute before I noticed him.  When I did, I said, "'s it going?"  He looked confused for a bit, and said, "Do you have a phone?"  I was holding it at the time, so I said, "Obviously I can I help you?"  Some sort of dam broke in him and the words spilled out:

"My dad threw me out last night.  I've been walking around since then.  They're all drunk.  I don't know where to go.  I get SSI checks.  I'm tired."

I asked him if he'd like me to look up the shelter down by the bus station and he said that would be nice.  I looked it up and told him the address.  It would be a walk of about 2 miles.  He straightened up, said thanks, and strode off in the right direction.

When he got to the edge of the park, he paused and looked to be talking to himself.  He crossed the street and headed towards some apartments.  I lost sight of him.  10 minutes later, he re-emerged and headed in a different direction, moving slowly, like an old man.

I headed home with Ben, knowing that Lovely Wife was preparing a delicious omelet.  Later that day, I saw 3 police cars parked at the apartment building the young man visited.  I checked the local news a few times, but didn't see anything of interest.

What happened here?  I am not sure, but I think I met one of ours, an autistic man, in need of real help and did not provide it.  I'm really sorry.  In my defense, he was very articulate and made excellent eye contact.  When I told him about the shelter, he acted like he knew where the bus station was and seemed quite confident.

It wasn't until he was walking away that my brain processed the "I get SSI checks" comment.  Whether he has autism or not, I think that means he has a disability and is 18  or older.

That's the story. 

Sorry, kid.  I wasn't ready, but now I am.  I'll be watching for you.

(better story)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Achievement unlocked: Playdate!

We went to Tennessee last week to visit my folks and my sister.  I wrote a post about the plane trip, but haven't published it yet, 'cause my editor and I agree it's just not that interesting.

So here's something that is interesting:  Ben had his first ever honest-to-God successful play date on this trip.

A brief history of us and play dates:

Bubba had many play dates.  They were awesome and good for him and me.  We had friends who had kids at roughly the same time, so things were just in synch.

For Ben, we didn't know anyone who had kids the same age.  We met a few kids through preschool, but Ben didn't really like playing with them.  At playgrounds, he would hang out for a few minutes and then head off in a quasi-random direction.

arr, it be humid here.
In his first preschool, when Ben was among the neurotypicals, one mother pulled me aside and said, "my oldest has autism, and we'd be happy to have you over for a play date."  She was telling me that her 3 year old knew the score and was willing to let Ben maul his Thomas the tank engine set.  We accepted and the play date went as well as one could expect.  3 year old Ben didn't really interact with her kid much at all.  Her older autistic kid hid in the basement.  As play dates go, it was a bust.  I do, however, have great respect for that mom and her 3 YO -- they were very nice to try it.

Since then, Ben has had some good times with other kids, mostly while they were playing with his older brother.  That's the closest thing we've had to a playdate -- Ben chasing other kids while they do something fun.

Fast forward to last week...we are staying with my sister in the most wonderful small town in Tennessee.  We get invited for cocktails at J&J's house.  Their 3 1/2 year old took a shine to Ben and led him on a whirlwind tour of all the joys of his house.  Within about 20 minutes, they were pantsless and jumping on a trampoline.  There was much giggling.

I was already verklempt, but then L (their kid) said, "Ben!  come for a ride!" and hopped into his Jeep.  Ben, rather innocently, came and sat by him.  L put the pedal to the metal and the Jeep took off.  I think that rocked Ben's world in a serious way.  L really blew his mind.  I'm pretty sure Ben's world changed that day, and I'm quite happy about it.

This was a seriously good time.  It was a reminder not to stop trying.  Maybe Ben just needs to spend time with younger kids.  Developmentally, he's a bit behind -- he sure as heck seemed to enjoy every ding-dang thing that 3.5 year old was dishing out.

I have a new mission -- find kids that Ben can play with, and have play dates galore.  It's time.  If he's's time to party.