Sunday, August 25, 2013

Jungle Gold: Family Emergency

Not a light topic today...sorry.

One of our friends just posted this to Facebook.  It's an episode of a reality show about two men, George and Scott, who are prospecting for gold in Ghana.  When Scott's 2 YO is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, he flies home to be with his family.

Around 24 minutes into the episode, the wife explains to him that there is therapy that can help their son, but that it's very expensive, and not covered by their insurance because they live in Utah.  Yup...they're from Utah.

If they lived in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, or Wisconsin, they would have a still have a scary diagnosis to deal with, but at least they'd be able to access medical help without going bankrupt.

I don't watch TV much, and reality shows less, but this scene really impressed me.  They managed to sum up in a couple of minutes the emotional rollercoaster that so many Utah families have experienced:  getting a diagnosis, then learning that there's therapy that works for most kids, but it costs more than an Ivy League education and is not covered by most insurance in our state.

Thanks Scott and Andrea for sharing that moment for us.

And welcome to the autism community...we're on a road less traveled and it can be hard, but there's a lot of joy and good friends to be found and occasionally gold.

I hope y'all find some gold.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Tag, you're it!

Whoosh!  The month of August is flying by.  It's been a busy one, including my birthday and our wedding anniversary (16 years!).

Last week was chock-full of happenings in the Utah autism community:
  • FAAST hosted a seminar for law enforcement personnel at Westminster.  I stopped by to see and was really impressed.  There was lots of good information and the officers were very engaged.
  • Temple Grandin was in town, attending the USAAA conference and promoting her new book.
  • The Sahara Cares Carnival was Saturday.  It's a very fun event with bounce houses, a DJ, games, etc.  UAC had a booth and we signed up a bunch of new members.
On top of that, Ben has been getting about 25 hours per week of in-home behavioral therapy.  We're hoping this will help with the transition to a classroom with typical kids.  It's been a lot of work for him, but we've seen some positive changes.  Most notably, he's become a lot more conversational.
Ben:  I'm hungry!
Me:  Well, what do you want?
Ben:  I want a popsicle.
Me:  Ok...I'll get you a popsicle.
Ben (looking surprised):  Really?
Me (looking more surprised):  Yes, really!  I'll be right back.
Ben:  Oh, that's so nice of you!

It may seem like little thing, but he's never said "really" before to me.  It's like he's not been engaged enough in a conversation to express surprise or to question a statement.  That's changing.

Last week on a trip to the park with his therapist, Ben saw a bunch of kids playing tag.  He ran up and touched one, saying "tag you're it" and joined in the fun.  That's huge!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Benefits of Moving Slowly

Mark's was black.
In high school, I was on the science bowl team.  One day, when our after-school practice let out, I was walking out of the building with Mike.  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Zach (a.k.a. "The Gooch") drop his books in front of Mark's (a.k.a. "Opie Potter Bucky") truck.

Mark, not a particularly tall person, was behind the wheel of his family's big Dodge.  It was a working farm truck, the kind with a calf castrating tool in the glove box because ya never know when you might need to castrate a calf.

Zach must've assumed that Mark saw him and bent over to pick up his books.  Mark on the other hand, had been buckling his seat belt and could barely see over the steering wheel anyway.   When Mark started up his truck, Zach got a funny look on his face, but kept gathering his books.  When Mark put it into gear and pulled forward, Zach moved very quickly for a fellow his size, rolling between the wheels and flattening out.  It was really the best option, given his starting position and the truck's mighty clearance.  He was really fortunate that Mark was very level-headed for a teenager and not the kind who floors it to impress his friends.

Mike and I ran up, waving our arms and shouting, "Mark!  Mark!  You ran over the Gooch!"  Mark stopped, just as the Zach 's chest cleared the differential.  He rolled down his window, looking at us quizzically.  Out of breath, I panted, "You ran over the Gooch...BACK UP!"

Others may correct me, but I think that's about the dumbest thing I've ever said.  I guess I thought that Zach had been crushed and we needed to get to his unconscious body ASAP.  I never talked to the Gooch about it, but I can imagine his feelings of relief when the truck stopped, rapidly followed by disbelief when the truck started to back up.  This time, the differential caught him and dragged him a bit on the asphalt.

Duck, fool!
I did another dumb thing today, but fortunately, I was moving slowly.  Ben and I were at Liberty Park and he was being more volatile than usual.  I could tell he needed to go potty, but when I brought it up, he yelled at me.  Then he was trying to interact with a couple of much younger kids on a play-set in ways that they were not getting.  He started started to lose his cool and the kids were looking a little scared, so I put Ben up on my shoulders and headed to the restroom.

We travel that way a lot, and I'm usually very mindful of clearance, but this morning, with Ben yelling and pulling my hair, I was not.   As I walked through the restroom doorway, I heard a small thud from over my head.

Ben was quiet for a moment as I put him down, and then he started yelling, "Go home!"  I hugged him, but all he would say was "Go home!"

We exited the restroom and I carefully put him back on my shoulders, heading for the car.  Then the bloody nose began.  Ben gets lots of bloody noses, and I must say, this one was quite the gusher.  I didn't have a good way to stem it, so I just hurried to the car, avoiding low hanging limbs.  By the time we reached it, we both looked like something out of a horror movie.  On the plus side, Ben was laughing and making smacking noises with his lips.
It wasn't our best trip to the park, but it wasn't our worst either.

Have a safe and happy summer!