Thursday, June 28, 2007


It is always fun to try to get a picture of a child who keeps getting closer, and closer, and closer . . . but I had to post this cross-eyed image because Thane was successfully blowing the dandelion seeds. This from a child who didn't go through the usual baby ritual of blowing raspberries.

Thane has also given me six kisses so far this month! He can't really pucker yet, but the fact that he is trying to kiss is wonderful!

He is now an eBay model. It's kind of cute seeing him there in an auction for overalls (what else?).

I may have posted a little too soon on the name thing . . . the last few days his answer to the question “What is your name?” has been “Kipper.” I think some of it is him teasing us – he has decided he is pretty funny (must get that from his father!).

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Marvelous Mug

Thane's picture is currently in a contest on Discussing Autism he's picture #3 if you want to cast your vote.

Monday, June 25, 2007


I wanted to post this yesterday, but according to I taken up more than my “fair use” of bandwidth over the weekend downloading game patches for Braeden’s computer. Pffffffffffffffft to them! It seems like a recipe for making new computer installations drag on for ages.

We had a few big leaps this weekend – not just one! I always find it a bit odd that these things tend to happen on weeks when Thane has no school and minimal therapy (he had one hour of developmental therapy this week, that’s all). It also seems that many big leaps happen when big brother Braeden is home too as Thane totally adores him.

I give total credit for the first big jump to Braeden . . . Thane went into a dirt pile without having clothes on. We have a big mound of dirt in the yard waiting to be smoothed out for a new swing set. Braeden has always loved a big pile of dirt, so he has been climbing in it since it arrived. Thane has taken steps toward it. First he approached it and backed away. Next time he was fully clothed, with shoes, touching only with a long-handled shovel and not climbing on it. Then he climbed a bit while fully clothed. Yesterday we moved up to undressed, bare feet and actually picking up some handfuls.

It may sound like a strange thing to celebrate, but when a child has sensory issues, it is really huge to have him accept the feel of dirt lightly touching him. Another cute thing is he realized completely that he was doing something different and special so he kept saying “Look at me, Mommy!”

Thane was also playing in a small pool in the yard, so at some point he took off the diaper he was wearing when the sand photo was taken. Dave, my ever-joking husband, looked at a naked Thane walking back from the dirt pile and said:

“Hi Frank! What’s up Frank?”

Thane shook his head and said, “No. No Frank.” He put his palm on his chest and continued, “This is Thaney!”

This isn’t just huge, it’s monumental! We have been working with him for months on trying to answer the question “What is your name?” – I’ve posted it about here in discussions, including my social story adventures. I wanted him to be able to answer the question because he is always asked when we go shopping and people seem confused when he doesn’t answer.

It wasn’t just a one-time deal, either. We got him to repeat similar scenarios. I asked him what a toy’s name was, and he replied, “This is Elmo.” Then I pointed to him, asked his name and heard, “This is Thaney.” I also find it wonderful that he is no longer “a Thaney” but just “Thaney.”

I even got a direct answer to the question, “What is your name?”

“This is Thaney!” again putting his hand to his heart.

What wonderful, beautiful payoff! Can you tell that I am totally thrilled? I know in the vast scheme of life, this may sound small to some, but around here it is the kind of thing that makes tears well up in everyone’s eyes.

To accompany his fascination with letters and words, we’re seeing an increased interest in numbers. Thane definitely counts with purpose and quantifies things nicely. Yesterday he counted backwards from 17, which is a new skill. I’m not really sure what to make of what he was doing on the deck, but it seemed rather cool . . . he was pacing behind me on a slatted bench counting, “2, 12, 3, 13, 4, 14, 5, 15, 6, 16 . . .”

Friday, June 22, 2007


Because Thane loves Diego, I decided to purchase a Diego computer game. I loaded it up this evening and he was so excited he really couldn't contain himself whatsoever. It is so hard to know what to do in a situation where you know he is extremely happy, but he gets totally wacky. He was screaming and throwing himself on the ground, jumping up, running back to the laptop to watch, flapping his hands and bouncing, answering the questions, throwing himself down again. It was just, well, extreme . . . even for him.

In retrospect, I wonder if his weighted vest might have helped. He was chewing on his fingers so hard I was sure that he would cry out in pain. He didn't, but then he started chewing on his shirt and flapping it around.

Then we had one of those life as we have known it will have to be altered moments -- he grabbed the cord plugging the laptop into the wall and was about to chomp down on it when I stopped him. His face with his teeth in full chomp mode and the cord stretched between his hands is now etched in my mind. It totally freaked me out. The laptop cannot possibly be left in the living room with Thane in there, and obviously it is no time to get casual about electrical cords or safety covers for outlets.

I know I can be a bit over the top, but either Dave or I have been in the room with him all evening.

The other day I was happy that he seemed to be understanding that he needed his "red pool coat" to go in the big pool, but he isn't yet getting that he can't go in it alone. Braeden left one of the backyard gates unlocked and Thane set me to panic mode by heading over there. Luckily I saw the gate was unlocked and Braeden raced over to fix that. The stairs aren't in the pool yet, so it isn't usable for me.


I'm bravely posting a picture of myself with Thane. As I was making slide shows for both boys, I realized there were very few pictures of Thane and I together, so Braeden took this one. Thane didn't want any part of it . . . and in some ways I didn't either . . .

It has taken me a week to get this far, and I am still resisting uploading it reduced to the size of a postage stamp!

Stinky Playdate

I guess I was so taken with Thane and his blanket that I forgot that I wanted to post that yet another baby skunk was spotted in our yard. Braeden had a playdate with someone who lives elsewhere during the school year. They were out back when a baby skunk decided to try to get in the yard, at the same time as the other boy's mother drove up.

She asked Braeden for a box, caught the baby skunk, and removed him from our yard. In the process, the little one sprayed while in the box so there was a heck of a stink again. She came back up to the house and asked if she totally reeked. Luckily she didn't, but I had to kid her that it was a heck of a way to pick up her kid after a play date!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Therapy Blanket

Thane seems to be growing like a weed lately. We ordered him a weighted toddler blanket months ago. I knew we'd need a twin-size before long, but since he never would consider even using a blanket I didn't want to invest the money. I got in a Wiggles pattern as he was in love with The Wiggles. He screamed at the blanket the first day, but when he finally tried it he loved it. The toddler one was five pounds and it just calmed him right down for sleep.

He likes to sleep totally under the blanket at first, and he is just too long to be covered head to toe in a toddler-size blanket. He's wearing 4T sleepers from an OMOM friend -- who knew he would catch up so much so fast?!?

Anyway, I ordered a twin blanket in a Go Diego Go! pattern as that is one of his current favorites. He was cheering and jumping up and down when Dave was opening the box. I should have had the video going!

But what happened after that was priceless. He grabbed the pillow and tossed it on the floor to stand on it and jump off. Then he pulled the blanket out of the box, dragged across the fuzzy carpet, and put in on the couch. Then he dragged it back and climbed in the box, covered himself in the blanket, and asked for the pillow.

Dave joked:

"Therapy blanket and pillow, $119.99”

“Shipping for blanket and pillow $30.00”

“Child climbing in beat up cardboard box and covering himself with therapy blanket, priceless!

It was cute! I am editing this as I published this post to my blog and then Braeden came in with a picture of Thane that actually shows the box. The second and third pictures were taken earlier -- the second shows how happy he is with the blanket, and the third shows a silly smile and the pillow.

Anyone who is interested in a weighted blanket should consider this Natural Remedies for Autism ADHD . . . I have gotten my orders very quickly, even special orders, and they are nice fluffy blankets. She makes all sorts of sizes and lots of fabrics to choose from.


Today is our 20th wedding anniversary. It wasn't very exciting . . . The sigh is for one of those moments that makes a mom cry. Thane is really, really off today. He was crying and wanted nothing to do with me. Braeden tried to calm him with a hug, but something happened and Breaden's finger got smashed under the roof of a rugged log-cabin doll house. Braeden started crying and sat in the corner of our sectional sofa. Thane climbed up on the couch, still crying too, and plopped himself in Braedens lap. B wrapped his arms around him and cuddled, but admitted it was
sometimes very hard to be his brother. It was really painful atching the two of them crying like that.

I imagine there are always times when having a sibling stinks, but the looks on their faces today was difficult.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


One of Thane's therapists mentioned hyperlexia to me last week so now I am trying to read information on it. According to Merriam-Webster's online medical dictionary hyperlexia is precocious reading ability accompanied by difficulties in acquiring language and social skills. Hmmm. Could be. I guess I don't really see a problem with early reading . . . and the social skills and language acquisition are improving. I just wish I could go a week or two without having to research anything!


Monday, June 18, 2007

Good, Bad, Icky

Dave came home from work this evening and he and the boys got ready to swim. I was sitting in my recliner thinking about taking a quick nap while it was quiet, but I got a whiff of au de skunk . . . I thought maybe they found a skunk en route to the pool, so I headed out back to see what was up. To the right, my family seemed content. To the left, the dog was munching on a skunk. YUCK!!!

The annoying thing is that she was in our backyard, within the fenced in area, and had just been inside before Dave came home. So in the span of at most 15 minutes, she killed two skunks and could not be deterred by my yelling at her. Dave had to separate her from her prey.

The good part isn’t that she got the cute little guys, but that we weren’t still out there. We had been outside until 6, and Dave came home at 6:15. The bad part is the smell – fresh skunk is the absolute worst odor. We need to pray for a good downpour to wash the grass. I already mentioned the icky. And I guess Mist is going to have to go through a de-skunking bath later. Yech!

Sunday, June 17, 2007


A bird, a squirrel, a skunk? Something has violated the neutral zone, but Mist has yet to decide whether it is worth the chase.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


Squirrel's are so last season around here. Now we have these two baby critters hiding under my car.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


OK, today I was that other mom – not the mom of the ill-behaved, tantrum-throwing child, but the mom who told someone else’s kids to cut it out.

Braeden made a very sad commentary on the world today -- he said there are more bad people than good. Isn't that awful coming from a 9-year-old?

I understand his perspective, though, as I think the bad/misbehaving sometimes stick out more. Braeden and I have been dropping Thane off at school and going to do things. On Tuesday, he was upset because some people let their soggy wet dog pounce on him while we were having a picnic. His main complaint was that the people weren't obeying the sign saying no dogs in that area of the park, nor the rule to pick up after dogs in other areas. It sure doesn't help him with his fear of dogs to get pounced on by something that weighs more than he does.

Then he was walking on the beach a little bit and started to rub his nose. I asked him about when he came back and he asked if we could leave because the teenagers were smoking weird cigarettes and it was making his nose itch. He pointed out the sign again that also says it is a smoke-free, drug-free safe zone.

Today we went to the skatepark and there was only one boy there, probably about 15. He was very nice to Braeden and showed him some tricks and encouraged him. It was really nice. It is also a smoke-free, drug-free safe zone, yet it was the one place I expected the rule to be ignored . . . yet it wasn’t!

Then after school I asked Braeden if he wanted to go to a playground on our way home. He said yes . . . and I have to say the kid can be so totally amazing and patient with his little brother. He even helped him wipe his nose (way beyond the brotherly call of duty, in my opinion).

Braeden really doesn't respond well to other children being less than kind on playgrounds. After they were done swinging, we headed for the slides and there were three kids there -- two older brothers and a little brother maybe 2 years old. They were trying to get away from their baby brother and were yelling “Baby Alert” and then shrieked that there was a second baby (Thane) to escape from. Thane didn't even remotely acknowledge them, or go near them, so Braeden came over and commented to me that he didn't like that, could they go for a walk instead. I said yes with certain restrictions (line of sight, stay close to Thane on the bridge, etc.).

Thane doesn't really understand fear. It is exciting to him and rather than backing off, he tends to explore the adrenaline rush. He was scared of the bridge and needed Braeden to carry him over the middle. They went back and forth many times before Thane could get to the other side without asking Braeden to pick him up. Meanwhile, Braeden looked down at the river bank and some boys about 10-11 had killed something. Braeden was so offended -- saying they murdered the poor harmless thing, whatever it was (they were smashing it with rocks). Luckily, Thaney was concentrating on the bridge because he would have vomited if he saw.

One of the mothers must have heard him as they called the children up and spoke with them. When they headed to the water next, they were told to "make good choices" . . . which included throwing stones at the side of the foot bridge that Braeden and Thane were crossing. One small stone hit Braeden in the leg, and the sound made Thane scream. Braeden suggested to the boys that they stop, but they ignored him. One mother called a few times, but they didn't even turn and kept tossing rocks. I was closer, so I told them to "stop throwing rocks, you're defacing public property and might hurt someone!" Braeden and Thane were next me and the mom of 2 of the boys said she had it covered as they continued throwing rocks, when there were some old people coming across the bridge. I was kind of pissed and said it sure didn't look like it. Honestly, it wasn't fast enough. She was busy chatting and not correcting, and when she did it was useless because her kids didn't listen and there was damage happening and people at risk of being hurt.

Then she put one child in a time out and did nothing about the other one . . . and the other parent still couldn't be bothered with her kid. I actually considered suggesting that they take their children home if they weren't going to prevent them from killing whatever they killed, and throwing rocks.

Braeden wanted to know how I would handle it if he acted like that. I said one time when he was almost 5 he was chasing a smaller boy in the playground. At first the other boy liked it, but then he wanted Braeden to stop. I told Braeden he needed to stop or we'd leave. He did it again and we left. He's never done anything like that again.

Don't get me wrong. Braeden is by no means perfect. He can't pick up after himself worth a darn, is horrible to get to go to bed because he doesn't want to bother sleeping, there are snarky words that pass his lips way too often when he talks with his father, and I felt embarrassed yesterday when he snatched the fish puzzle pieces from Thane at the library while we were working with Thane's DT (I know it is normal sibling stuff, but I like the better behavior!). As frustrating as he can be at times, his kindness, good manners, and his incredible patience for his little brother make me very proud of him.

I really hate saying anything to someone else's kids, and when I do, I tend to do it in a more conversational manner – “Do you think that was respectful?” I find that often makes them pause and think and then they do something else without my having to risk the wrath of other adults. But this whole scene today just really made me mad. The moms who weren't watching their kids were both sitting there smoking – right next to a town sign saying it was a smoke-free, drug-free safe zone. I was taking pictures of my kids and I thought about taking the mothers' pictures as they smoked right next to the sign, sitting in front of their pretty SUVs with license plates showing.

Kim says I should have taken the pictures, but I was afraid of being that antagonistic I guess. Maybe I could/should have done it inconspicuously.

On one level I am angry that we’ve had several experiences this week that precipitated Braeden’s comment about more bad people in the world, but I also have found all the difficult discussions a bit stressful (and maybe not the best timing when weaning off medications and feeling a bit agitated). I came home and I just felt very tired. We’ve had discussions about smoking marijuana, when to listen to adults and when not to – listening to his sense of what is right and what isn’t – defacing public property, killing innocent critters, foods in moderation, and all sorts of other stuff. We’ve had a lot more time together than usual. I remembered feeling that Braeden’s questions made me feel really stupid when he was younger. These ones I can tackle a little better than the constant “why” of a young child, but there is a different kind of stress and I do find it pretty hard to keep talking about stuff. The other day we talked for five hours about various things. I have sort of mixed emotions about the fact that in this aspect, Thane seems a bit easier than Braeden. Braeden is so intense.

Then I wondered when Thane might ask “Why?” It’s somehow a bit scary that he hasn’t done that yet.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Move Over Elephants!

Braeden and I had a picnic at the lake across the road from Thane’s school today. I took a bunch of pictures. Thane was checking them out when we got home and rather liked this one from the muddy parking lot:

“Those are butterflies!”

Then he added “Butterflies have wings to fly.” Sounds like a song . . .

“Where are the penguins?”

I would really love to understand how his mind works. I wonder if one of the books he is reading at school has penguins and butterflies in it?

Speaking of reading . . . Thane took the tooth-brushing guide from my hands as we got to school and sat back and was reading the text in the center column! Very cool!

Brushing Teeth

So far I think my picture schedule method deserves mixed reviews. Thane caught on to the smiley face method the first night and seems happy with that positive reinforcement for doing something he considers torture. That’s the good part.

The negative aspect is that he generally wants to start with “back and forth,” but from there he hasn’t chosen an order. Thane is trying to figure out what he can control in his world and the issue with the laminated card was that to follow the pictures doesn’t lend itself to doing things out of order. A big part of the song helping us has been letting him choose the verse. So perhaps this one would be better with Velcro – or cards, and I could actually pick them up when we’re done!

It also could be that a couple more days of using the card and he would want to follow the order. Maybe I just need one photo of brushing teeth as the visual cue of what is about to happen, or perhaps just the picture of brushing teeth in the midst of the night-time schedule would work. So many options . . . and ways to over-think things.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Velcro, Cutting, Laminating

I love when I write a post, finish it, and decide I have other things I should have written.

When we had Thane diagnosed in Waterville last year, the team suggested that we should try using picture schedules with Thane. Getting guidance on how to do it with him has been a big stumbling block.

I downloaded a program off Do2Learn to make the schedules, but the therapists at CDS keep telling me that I need removable cards and with Velcro backs, rather than just having a solid card – so that he can remove things as he does them. I have spent a lot of time trying to do things their way, but honestly the software doesn’t make it that much easier because if you cut and laminate the pictures, they are slightly too big for the grid on the background page and it drives me insane. I also hate having things cut crooked. And the pictures provided with the program aren’t always that good . . . I tried making a tooth-brushing guide and the up-and-down, back-and-forth, etc., drawings are of different people. No one is going to dye their hair, perm it, and get a sex-change operation between steps of brushing their teeth!

I admit my own my obsessive-compulsive stuff has been bad lately and I am wondering a bit if Thane and I are being triggered by the same thing.

When I did a haircutting schedule I just made cards using tear-apart printer postcards. I think it would have worked well if I had punched a hole in the top corner and added a string just to keep them in order – like flip cards. When I left them out on the couch, we spent much of the next day repeating the steps of the haircut. The implication was that I hadn’t really done it right. I think the problem was that I didn’t pick the cards up!

So back to the Velcro – it is very time-consuming, especially if I follow the recommendation to use photographs. Dave and I decided last night to buck the system. We laminated a guide for brushing teeth and will put smiley faces for each step completed and then wipe them off. Now I get to find out whether they will follow my method at school or not. I think they under-estimate his ability to understand things and that they are making the pictures schedule too difficult to do.

For most things, we don’t seem to need the schedule for as long as it takes us to finally get one from CDS, even if we provide the images, text, etc. I am much more likely to use them if I can do it relatively quickly, shove it through the laminator, and go . . . It won’t work for a daily schedule with changes in routine, but I don’t see the problem with doing it for bedtime routines and brushing teeth. This is one of the guides I made yesterday:

It can be seen larger by clicking the photo.

This 'n' That

The good news is that it seems like I am at least vaguely healthier . . . I even had low blood pressure when Thane decided to throw himself down while he was standing on top of the exam table as the nurse was inflating the BP cuff on my arm. I upset him by suggesting he shouldn’t unroll the entire spool of paper that goes across the table. He’s done it before without everyone getting angry with us, but the incredible waste of paper is a little bit more than my obsessive-compulsive personality can handle!

I made it up to him when I was done by helping him write letters on the paper with crayons. He was very cute trying to sign the letters too, and wanting both upper- and lowercase.

The doctor was again impressed with Thane’s progress – I think she is still surprised to hear him speak at all. She walked in and he announced “Now that’s a doctor!” He was being pretty loud, but I commented that at least this time he was being cheerful and loud instead of screaming in total terror at the idea of someone looking in his throat.

We went to the playground for a short visit afterward. Braeden and Thane played for a half hour but then Braeden said he wanted to leave because he was finding the other children there obnoxious. I suppose I may be odd, but I was happy to hear that as I noticed poor behavior right off. They were there for the Y-Care (“Why Care?”) and the supervision is dismal.

I’ve been reading another mom in Maine’s blog . . . she doesn’t just write about the day-to-day stuff I post here, but a lot of information and thought-provoking discussion about autism. I have been reading about the controversy with Autism Speaks – between the founders Bob & Suzanne Wright and their daughter, Katie Wright. I found myself feeling as if making that video of Thane may not have been the best choice – at least not as a fundraiser for Autism Speaks. The vaccine hearings are fascinating too. Anyway, I highly recommend Adventures in Autism.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Kipper the Dog

I'm sure the time to rebel against overalls will come soon, but I could not resist getting some Kipper the Dog overalls made for my little Kipper fan. I just viewed the pictures from Debbie, the designer, and Thane was so excited by all the pictures. I have to post at least the front and back here. There are more detailed pictures on her site.

The position of the paper towel roll seems a bit odd -- I think I would have put that on his backside, but all his favorites are on here and he was so shouting out Kipper! Arnold! Zebra! Roly!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


I spoke with Thane's speech therapist for a few minutes after school today and she said she was trying to language evaluations with him and he was resisting. As if that should be a shock!

Anyway, she did get one adorable quote out of him. He was identifying pictures and she showed him a picture of food. He said, "That's a hungry! I love hungry!"

Dave joked that he must really love being hungry since he never eats anything.

Braeden just called on his cell phone (10 p.m.). It appears that he and a friend are getting to sleep in the school library this evening as I guess they both thought the other was bringing a tent. We expected to hear disappointment about not camping out, but instead he and his buddy are excited to haunt the library overnight and use all the reading pillows to get comfortable. It sounds like the head teacher suggested he be inside anyway because of his allergies, which is probably a good idea. Braeden seems to have gotten the environmental allergies while Thane has more food-related ones.


Braeden was one of the brawlers in Romeo and Juliet on Monday evening. His science teacher emailed me this photograph. You have to love the wink!

Note: Braeden looked at this photo and reminded me it is not a wink, it is the evil eye!

Mobile Blogging

I guess my social story is a success . . . Braeden read it to Thane four times last night. They were so cute - Thane was shouting the names of the people in the pictures, himself included, and Braeden was cheering him on. Thane actually answered the "What is your name?" correctly within the context of the book, but so far not replicated without the book. It'll come.

This morning we tried story hour at the library. The book choices and the reader being shy was not the best combination. Thane was happy to check out the new library, but when people started arriving for story hour, he wanted to leave. I hate seeing my little one have such a hard time. He cried. He tried to pull me out of my chair, then push me. He hid his face from everyone and was pretty much only okay when he was concentrating on his purple car.

Getting participation in the craft was a bit easier, but he was upset that there was no yellow - he still colors in order of the spectrum. He finally started engaging his DT. I should have taken a camera as she ended up sitting in a chair with a 4-foot bear, a frog, and dog, and an Alice in Wonderland doll . . . and Thane! They read two books together and then we headed out. Thane took a nap before school and I dropped him off a few minutes early.

We're going to stop by and see Braeden after school. He is camping out overnight, but wanted us to visit. I like when the little boy peaks through a bit!

Please ignore typos - I am doing this blog entry from my Blackberry while sitting by the water in Rockport.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Treehouse Couch

This weekend's new adventure was adding a treehouse tent over the couch. Thane thinks it is fun to go inside and chat with Elmo and his nameless boy doll.

I guess my social story wasn't as bad as I thought. I was doing research yesterday and it seems it isn't as cut and dried as I was led to believe -- some feel there has to be a ratio of certain sentence types and things like that, but lots of people disagree about being that strict if the person isn't low-functioning. I talked with our social worker this morning and she said that they really do need graphics that appeal to young children, so I guess I am going to try my hand at a couple more.

I'm feeling a little bad for Braeden . . . it has been raining all day and the school campout tomorrow is postponed. I hope it can happen on Wednesday. Tonight he is in Romeo and Juliet. I can't believe it is the last week of school!