Postscript to the Birthday Post

There are a couple of things I'd like to touch more on from the last post.

First, it occurred to me when I read it over, that my frame of reference for what was assumed about autism or autistic individuals is likely very different from most of yours, unless you are close to my age or older.  Autism wasn't something people knew much about when I was growing up.  In fact, you'd rarely hear of it at all.  I only knew about it before I was in my teens because a cousin of my mom's had a son who was institutionalized because he was autistic.  I never met him, so I really don't know what he was like.  I only heard my mom and her relatives talk about him sometimes.  All I knew was that because he was autistic, it was impossible for his mother to take care of him so she'd had him placed somewhere.  As a kid, all I could imagine was that he was crazy and probably violent.  This was my first notion of what autism was, whether it was correct or not.  Keep in mind, we're talking about the 1970's here.

My next ideas of it came from a tv show.  St Elsewhere was a medical drama that aired on NBC from the Fall of 1982 to the Spring of 1988.  It was a fantastic show, and on it, the son of one of the main characters was autistic.  Tommy Westphall.  His character was completely replete of emotion, there was nothing about him that ever suggested he felt connected to anyone at all.  He just stayed in "his own world", barely interacting with his family and even when he did, it was always very robotic.  Stereotypical to be sure, though based on what was known at the time, I imagine.  This is the picture of autism I had.  It was the only picture.  Until 1988 when Rainman came out. 

There is a tremendous push in the autism community to distance themselves from that movie.  I don't have quite such strong feelings about it, and I'll get to that in a bit. But among most, there is.  It was probably the first time many people had any idea about autism or what it was like - the movie was so popular, that Dustin Hoffman's character WAS autism to just about everybody who had seen it.  Once again though, we were looking at a person who had been institutionalized for most of his life, who didn't like being touched or hugged. 

The Rainman character was actually based on 2 people. Much like the Tommy character before, this presented a very limited view of the disorder but it was really all we had. So this was my reference, this limited knowledge based solely on what I'd been presented with in the media.  Entertainment media at that.  Sadly, I learned nothing about it in the course of my nursing studies.

While the traits and characteristics of these characters can all be found in people with autism, what was not made clear was how much the disorder varies from person to person.  I don't believe it's possible to find two individuals on the spectrum who are exactly alike in how they are affected and/or how they behave.  I can say that now, after all my years of looking after Josh and having met many other autistic children along the way.  But I didn't know it back then.

In a way, I think Josh is a lesson the universe needed to teach me.  I didn't mention this in the "guilt" post because it's hard for me to admit, but I had a conversation once with my best friend in nursing school.  I remember it very well even though it took place a long, long time ago.  We were in our final year of school and were making decisions about the specialties we thought we'd be going in to once we started working.  The conversation eventually came around to pediatrics and sick kids and how hard it would be to take care of them and we somehow got off on a discussion of different childhood ailments.  I don't remember specifically what else was said, but I do remember saying this: "I think that having a child who was autistic would be the worst thing I could imagine. Can you imagine having a child that never shows any affection or love, that doesn't interact with you, that doesn't want you to interact with them? It would be worse than anything else that could go wrong. "  Deep breath.  Yes, I really said that.  And trust me, it haunts me to this day.  Understand though, I was basing that on what I have shown to be very limited knowledge.  At least these days, there is so much more information available and so much more given to us in the media, there is a much better frame of reference for people. 

But I have Josh. And Josh has taught me a great deal about many things.  He has shown me that he can love, that he wants and needs to interact despite the fact that it is very difficult.  He has expressions and uses them often.  He is not a savant.  But he is not a robot either.

I don't shun the Rainman comparisons as much as some for 2 reasons. First, Josh has many behaviors that are actually very similar to Dustin Hoffman's character.  So while I know that people shouldn't hold that up as the definition of autism, there are certainly enough similarities to make it a reasonable reference.  Second, it was a positive portrayal.  And it was a monster hit.  While it may have been entirely unrealistic, it also brought autism out to many who probably would never have thought about it otherwise.  I won't fault them for that. 

So when I talk about how different Josh is because he is so affectionate and loving, you now know why I see it as, in fact, "different" for a person with autism.


OK.  Now, on to something entirely different but still related to the birthday post.

Have you ever wondered, with a child that cannot communicate, how you buy gifts for them???  It's not like big brother, whom I can simply ask, "hey, what do you want for your birthday?" and he'll give me some ideas.  I used to rely on the "if it has anything to do with Blue's Clues, we're good" rule.  But with the series long out of production, there are no more toys/products.  I rely on fresh batteries and the hope that Amazon carries the books forever.  But we need to do something and Josh does like other things.  It's just figuring out what that's the hard part.

So a few years ago, I just decided that it was best to let him show me.  I'd take him to a toy store or department and simply watch what he seemed attracted to. I would get the things he seemed to like in the store but I wouldn't bring them in from the car after we'd get home.  I'd wrap them up later and voila!  He had his presents.  Josh doesn't care that he's seen them before, in fact, he's pretty happy about it since he'd wanted them in the first place.  At this point I just let him go and tell him to find what he wants and when he picks things up, I have him put them in the cart.  This has worked really well - he's always happy and we know he's getting things he's interested in playing with.  Which is much better than trying to guess like I used to.

Which just made me think of yet another post I can write...!

Postscript to the postscript coming soon :)

Venturing Off-World

The subject of traveling with Josh has come up within the context of several previous posts but none that have focused on it specifically as the topic. Since going anywhere with him, even just out to dinner, is an exercise in anticipatory planning, preparation, packing, and co-ordination, I felt it deserved a post all its own.

It's amazing, really, the things you take for granted before you have kids.  Of course, you don't realize that you are taking anything for granted until the kids come along and change everything.  Going places, and I mean, anywhere - grocery store, post office, DMV, or you know, Europe, is no exception.  It is probably one of the things that changes the most.  Kids = stuff.  Whether it's in your house or on the road, they have and need a lot of stuff.  Special seats, special beds, special food, special toys, special mobility devices, you name it, they've got it and you need to take it all with you.  Gone are the days of simply jumping in the car to run a "quick" errand.  Of course you get well versed in how to manage, marveling at how adept you become at handling strollers, bags, carriers, other kids and sometimes, dogs.  You get used to it.  And just when your memory of the time before all the stuff arrived in your life is about to fade completely... BAM, circumstances allow you to go out somewhere sans stuff and it all comes back to you. 

The amount of stuff  is always inversely proportional to your kids' age(s).  Normally, as they get older, the amount required when you go places becomes less and less.  This is not so much the case with Josh, or, I would imagine, any autistic child.  The first real travel challenge with him was when we moved from Philadelphia to Seattle when he was just two.  Though he had not yet received his "official" diagnosis, he was already in Early Intervention for all of his delays as well as his sensory integration/processing issues and we pretty much knew anyway.  We decided to fly.  Even though Josh had not turned two yet when I bought the tickets and he could have sat in my lap, we decided it would be best to buy a full ticket for him and have him in his car seat on the plane - he was used to the seat, comfortable in it, never fussed in it, so it seemed like a good idea.  It was... sort of.  While the theory of how Josh would be in the seat proved correct, traveling with a full-sized car seat ON THE PLANE is not easy.  His seat actually got stuck in the x-ray machine when we were trying to leave Philly.  True story.  Josh's dad managed to get it out, though the TSA folks were not at all happy about the damage to the x-ray machine.  Maybe they should have thought of that before making us put the seat through it.  Then you have to get it on the plane and fastened in to a seat, all the while managing the child or children, and all the rest of the stuff.  This, is why they invented pre-boarding.

As he got older, the thought of trying to manage his now special-ordered, extra large car seat on a plane was just too much.  So now a days he just sits in the airplane seat.  He can easily undo the seatbelt though, so the trick these days is to make sure he stays calm and happy for the duration of the flight.  A task that I'm sure you can imagine is easier said than done.  Since the move 10 years ago, we have not attempted any single flight longer than about 3.5 - 4 hours and I'm not sure I'd want to any time soon.  There is just so much that could potentially go wrong, visions of being escorted off a plane in the middle of nowhere because Josh becomes too disruptive make me too nervous.  Four hours or less is doable though.  Of course there's still a lot of stuff involved.  I mentioned in the Service dog posts about giving him a tiny dose of a sedative prior to flying - I may have said it was Valium, that was incorrect, we use Ativan, in an extremely tiny dose as prescribed by his psychiatrist.  We made sure to try it at home before the first time so we would know how he reacted to it.  You don't want to be trying out a new medication when you are traveling without knowing how your child is going to respond. I always try to make sure I have everything he will want DVD-wise, as well as having a spare, fully charged back up battery for the portable DVD player.  I order new or replacement Blue's Clues books before the trip and don't let him see them until we are in flight.  I bring a variety of special candy treats, and try to find a few other small, desirable (aka sensory) objects to surprise him with as well.  We always need a change of clothes and pull-up changing supplies.  I bring a small pillow that he's had since he was a toddler in case he wants to lie down.  I already mentioned I don't like the bulkhead because you can't lift the arms of those seats, but there is always the fear that if he does get upset, he will start kicking the seat in front of him.  The times I've flown with him, I have taken a chance on that not happening and not been seated in the bulkhead.  But we've been lucky, and if we were ever to risk a longer flight somewhere, it might be better to sit there as there would be a higher risk of his being unhappy at some point.

And of course there's Buddy.  He has his own stuff.  I talked about security with him in the Service Dog posts, that's always fun... on top of everything Josh needs/might need, I have to make sure I have Buddy covered too.  Poop pick up bags/cleaning supplies in case of any accidents, treats, vest, harness, leash, food, bowls, documents to verify vaccinations, etc...

The car is not quite as daunting as plane travel with him, though it still requires a lot.  I bring more in the way of food for him when we go places via car.  More of his toys and a blanket or two, as well as everything I usually bring for plane trips.  We don't use the Ativan for car trips though, that is strictly for flying.  And it doesn't knock him out, by the way, it really just seems to keep him mellow for a couple of hours.  Of course in the car I've had to stop at highway rest-stops to change him.  Which is not something that is enjoyable by any stretch of the imagination, just sometimes necessary.  When we go up to visit my family in Canada we have to stop at the border to go through customs.  The lines are often very long.  Josh is usually fine in the car unless it's not moving, then he's not so happy.  So border waits can be difficult.  There are two different ways for us to cross so when I am getting close I have to pay attention to the signs indicating wait times at both crossings to see which will be faster.  Man, when both boys were little and Josh was on the GFCF diet, I was packing food for both of them for however long we would be away... GFCF stuff for Josh, things Zach could eat because of his allergies, I had grocery bags, coolers, you name it.  I'd open the back of the car at my mom's and she'd be like "um, how long are you staying, exactly?!" Would take me half an hour just to get everything unloaded and unpacked.  Good times!

These days I don't travel with all the food, just some things for Josh that I can't find up there for him, like his almond milk (because I could not get him back on cow's milk after going off the GFCF diet).  We also don't pack as many toys as we used to for him - just a few of his most favorite books, a few favorite toys, and all his DVD's are usually ok at this point. 

I have to take those things when we are simply heading out for dinner as well, though.  Along with spare pull-ups and changing supplies and special candy treats.  We also have to plan so that we don't head out later than 4:30 - 5pm, as there are usually longer lines to be seated when you don't get places early, and Josh will NOT tolerate waiting when he knows fries are going to come. 

When I have had the rare opportunity to venture off without Josh in tow, I realize just how easy it is and am shocked.  Driving up to visit my mom a few months ago, by myself, I didn't have to worry about border waits, I could make a pit stop and not lose my mind over everything that Josh was touching, I packed in about 10 minutes and had one, small, bag.

My mom just looked at me.  "Where is everything?"  I laughed.

The Counter is Zero !?

Has gravity reversed itself?  Did someone forget to type the number sequence into the computer?  Did we enter an alternate universe or open our own McD's franchise?

For those that have been with me for a while it may have been a surprise to see that the french fries request counter has been at zero for the last 2 days.  No, Josh has not suddenly outgrown his obsession with the starchy-sticks.  It's an interesting thing, really.  He has a couple of really nasty chancre sores in his mouth at the moment as well as a tooth coming in near the same area.  This seems to be bothering him quite a bit, despite my giving him Motrin fairly regularly.  What he's doing to deal with his discomfort is the interesting part: he's not talking.  He is keeping his mouth closed though he will still eat/drink when necessary.  He is still trying to talk, he's just doing it with his mouth tightly closed. So what I'm getting is a lot of "Hmm hm hmm, hm hmm hhmm" when he is asking for something.  Even more interesting is that I can, in fact, tell what he's saying in some cases.  I'd like to take credit for mad mom skillz here, however, it's more a matter of recognizing the number of syllables and cadence of the "hmm's".  What I have not been able to recognize is anything that really sounds like "french fries".  There are too many other things he asks for that sound the same when you say them with your mouth closed.

Hence the empty counter.

The Blue's Clue's is a little easier for me to decipher what he's saying plus he can also go to the VCR/DVD player and just show me what he wants.

I hope his mouth heals up soon. Despite all the noise, I miss my little toad's words, hearing his voice.  And despite it being fascinating that he just comes over and "hmm hmm hmm's" away at me like I should just understand what he's saying, it's heart-breaking to see him trying to talk but not wanting to move his mouth because it hurts him.

Water Baby

Josh loves water.  LOVES it.  Did I mention that he really loves water?  Loves to be in it, play with it, drink it, get rained on, you name it, he's all over it.  And as with most things Josh, this has an upside as well as a downside.

I'm not sure when I first noticed his affinity for it.  It's really been more of a gradual build-up I think, to the point now where it's a true obsession.  I'm sure it's tied in to his sensory interests.

With both boys, from the time they were babies, I've never been shy about getting their faces all wet in the tub (pouring water over their hair to rinse it off, etc) as I figured that would help them not be too uncomfortable with it as they got older.  Maybe that has worked out well as far as Josh goes, I'm not sure.  I do know that I have never, ever had an issue washing his hair in the bath and rinsing it off, and this is going on 12 years now.  We are probably lucky that way, as I know there are some autistic children who are so sensitive and/or fearful that water on the face or head can be a nightmare.  So this is definitely on the upside of things.  He asks for a bath often and many times a bath will be the only thing that can calm him down if he's in a particularly difficult mood.  Of course, he loves bubbles in there too.  I do have to use tear-free shampoo and bath bubble-stuff since he doesn't understand the concept of not getting it in his eyes (or eating it, but that's another story). That's ok.  As long as they keep making it, which they will since there will always be babies in the world, we're good.  Frankly, I like the way the little kid things smell better than the "manly" versions anyway!

He doesn't mind rain, in fact he will only leave the hood of his jacket on for a brief time then will just take it off.  He likes getting wet.  He'll hold his hands out open, palms up, to feel the rain drops as they fall.  He even just likes watching the rain.  This works well for us here, since the Pacific Northwest is a pretty rainy spot.  It often makes him very giggly so I like the rain too - hard not like something that keeps everything green and makes Josh happy.  I think the first time I really became aware that this was a "thing" for him, was the summer he was 3, I had taken the boys up to Vancouver Island to visit my dad.  This was back at a time when Josh was particularly difficult (if you haven't already, see earlier blog post "That Woman with the Screaming Kid" for more on that).  He'd been having a tough time one afternoon and then my dad went to get something outside.  Josh followed him.  It had been raining and was still, though very lightly, and there were a few small puddles outside the back door.  All of a sudden Josh was no longer screaming, he was quiet. Then he was actually making happy Josh-noises.  He was walking around in the puddles and getting rained on.  It stopped the tantrum, I was amazed (aka very relieved).  We took his socks off, rolled up his pants, and just let him play.  My dad and I watched him for almost an hour.  I have a few pictures, I'll post them in the gallery. 

I think I mentioned that when we went out to Ohio the second time for training (the time we got Buddy), I booked us in a hotel with an indoor pool and we spent a lot of our down-time in it.  Again, somewhat of an understatement.  Pretty much every evening once we'd finished training for the day, I'd take the boys to the pool.  Josh was in heaven.  He cannot swim, there is really no way he could be taught, at least not at this point, so I had to hang on to him the entire time.  But that was ok, he was very happy so it was nice for me too.  Of course getting him out was always an exercise in patience.  I had to give him several warnings first (one of our count-downs to being done with things he likes is "one more minute and we're going to be all done" swing, or pool, or whatever), then we would transition to the hot whirlpool.  We'd get in slowly, he was a little nervous about it.  He would sit on my lap and the three of us would hang out there for as long as the timer ran.  Then I would give him another couple of warnings and we'd get out and head back to the room.  Usually by that point he was toasty and tired enough he was ready to head to sleep for the night.

Water is also one of only two things he will drink.  For a while, it was the only thing he would drink.  This is not such a bad thing really, it's certainly good for him and better than juice.  Also makes it easier when we are not at home, whether traveling or just out - you can always get water.  At restaurants, on planes, even at our dojo.  The downside to it is that because he also loves to play with it/in it and get wet, if he has some for drinking it has to be in a water bottle apparatus of some sort, with a lid and built-in straw, otherwise it will be all over the place.  He mostly likes to pour it down the front of his shirt, he really likes the feel of wet clothes. Sometimes he'll just dump it on the floor though, and make his own "rain" puddles to play in. 

The wet clothes thing is another issue as far as getting him potty trained.  He LIKES his clothes wet.  So there is very little incentive for him to not go in in his pants.  Complicates things to say the least. 

His penchant for water play also means we have to keep him away from all the sinks and bathrooms in the house.  So many things to worry about.  We have the temperature on the water heater set so that it won't get hot enough to scald if he ever did manage to get to a faucet on his own, but I would worry about his getting in a tub, and either falling and smashing his head or drowning.  And yes, he has tried to play in the toilets. So we have child safety knobs on all the bathroom doors which for now and hopefully a long time to come, are doing the trick.  I just have to keep an eye on the kitchen sink, though he's short enough still that it is harder for him to reach the handle to turn that one on.  I just have to remember to not leave anything sitting in the sink with water in it because he has a radar for that sort of thing.  It's almost as good as his Blue's Clues radar, but not quite. So the bathroom lock-down is not just to keep him away from the shampoo, though recently it seems that's been more of a draw than the water! 

I do worry about his love of water as far as the outside world goes, there have been too many heartbreaking stories of autistic children who have wandered off and drowned in lakes or rivers.  But we don't live close enough to any bodies of water to make it an immediate concern, and Josh has become much less interested in wandering off on his own over the last couple of years. I think it's just something I have to keep in mind when/if we go other places where it's more of a temptation. 

If we lived anywhere near these guys  and Josh were able to swim, I think he'd love this.  Water and sensory input all at the same time, how awesome!  He might dig a wet suit too, though I imagine getting him in one might be a challenge...  or he could just surf naked... or not.  But I'll bet he sure would like it.  Think they have Blue's Clues surf boards?  :)

Mystery Silence Theater

My house, is not quiet.  Ever.  Well, rarely.  Aside from the non-stop Blue's Clues episodes playing on the tv in the family room, there is a veritable circus of sound happening here that you pretty much have to experience first hand to really comprehend.  I'll do my best to explain it though.

Josh may not have been talking when he was little but that doesn't mean he was silent.  He certainly made noises, just not words.  He went through a period when he was in his early toddler hood of growling.  Yes, growling, that's really the only way you could describe what he was doing.  It was a little odd, but cute at the time - this was before we had his diagnosis.  He has always made a lot of noise with his throat as well as hummed, still does.  A lot of this is probably sensory.  Over the years he developed some speech, though as mentioned in previous posts, it's very basic and limited to simple requests and scripting.  Doesn't mean he doesn't talk though.  He will go through periods of the day when it is non-stop, either asking me for things, or scripting, or both. 

He isn't just noisy when he "plays".  If he's looking at his books or pages, he's usually vocalizing somehow as well, often scripting, sometimes actually labeling the things he sees.  The scripting often requires me to participate, he loves it when you can script with him.  I know the episodes almost as well as he does at this point so he knows I can do it ("scripting", for anyone who doesn't know, is when he recites phrases from things he's heard, often over and over. For Josh, it's pretty much all Blue's Clues, though there are some scripts that he's made up himself, things he will say over and over in certain situations. If you are familiar with the movie Rain Man, Dustin Hoffman's character did a lot of this).  If he's happy or really excited about something, he gets very loud, sometimes giddy, going into fits of hysterical laughter that go on and on (these are kind of cute at first, but, you can't get him to do anything when he's like this, and he has been known to laugh himself into throwing up... ).  When he is happy, he often gives lots of hugs but he also will make his very loud vocalizations right in my ear, which is starting to actually hurt. If he's not happy, then it's the unhappy noises.  These are not nice, very loud, and I'm quite certain were designed with the specific intent of simulating a spike being driven into your brain because we'll do almost anything to make that stop if possible.

Aside from Josh himself, there are the toys. He has, over the years, developed a fondness for all things that make music and cool noises.  Lighting up is a bonus, but music and other noises are big.  Toy electronic keyboards rule, he also loves all the toddler-type toys that play classical and/or children's music but look like phones, MP3 players, microphones, cameras, etc.  We still have functional Blue's Clues electronic toys.  At any given time,  Blue's Clues will be playing on the tv, and Josh will have 5 of his toys going all at once.  He has a couple of favorites, one in particular is this... cat-piano-thing... it's a keyboard, but it's shaped like a big, fat, cat.  The songs this thing is loaded with are all about... wait for it...  cats (bet you didn't see that coming).  These are songs I've never heard before in my life, and, they are horrible.  I mean, seriously, I have a fairly hefty tolerance for all things that make noise and play kids music since I have been living with it for so long but I hate the music on this piano.  Josh on the other hand, LOVES it.  Very, very much.  He will put this piano across his body when he lies down to go to sleep and make it play these vile songs while he drifts off.  This thing as about 3/4 his own body length.  If I try to move it and he is not quite asleep yet, I am in trouble. 

Some of these toys, are possessed.  No joke.  I have been in the house, alone, and some of them just randomly do their thing without anyone there touching them...

Then, there's the monitor.  I have a baby monitor in Josh's room still, a video monitor actually.  I need to be able to hear/ see when he is up at night, but I also keep it on during the day in case he is playing in his room so I can kind of keep an ear on what's happening in there.  He has a white noise machine in his room for sleeping, so I hear it loud and clear over the monitor as well as whatever noise is happening. Playing, smashing and banging things if it's day-time, and every breath, snore, sleep-scripting, roll-over, dog spinning 180 times before lying down again, fart, scratch, hiccup, sigh, you get the idea here, if it's night time.  So the monitor is on all the time, unless he is at school.  This is almost 12 years now.  As a parent you go through that hyper-vigilant baby monitor phase with all your kids but as they grow and get older, you move away from that.  They become more self-sufficient and you can trust them to a certain extent - if your 9 year old gets up at night to get a drink of water, you can be reasonably comfortable in the knowledge that he/she will not be filling the bathtub and possibly drowning.  I can't do that. 

Between the monitor and Josh being unable to fulfill most of his needs on his own and frankly being somewhat destructive when he puts his mind to it, a great deal of the "noise" that goes on actually requires my attention, I can't just stuff it all into the background.  I try with the toys and the Blue's Clues but even then, I have to pay attention enough to know when an episode is ending because he doesn't like them to play through the ending and listen to his toys to know which ones might be low on batteries (though he seems to have figured out that's what they need when they start to not work and he will actually come to me sometimes with a toy and say "batteries" !). 

Of course there is Zach, typical kid, also, talkative kid.  I love him to death but I have to admit that there are days/times when he is chattering away at me and I can't take it any more.  Not him so much as everything.  I have on occasion, if my auditory nerves are fried due to the excessive demands placed on them, asked him to just stop and give me a few minutes for my brain to rest.  I explain that it's not that I don't want to hear what he has to say, it's just that there has been too much coming at me from an attention stand point sound-wise and I just need a little break to keep from losing it.  He's very understanding, though sometimes he will start talking again within a minute and I need to remind him that my brain needs a little more time than that to re-group.  I hate doing that, but it's that or completely lose it sometimes so I figure that is better and I always have him come back and tell me whatever it was he needed to when I'm feeling less assaulted in that way. 

I forget how much noise there is sometimes when other people are here and it is hard for them.  As much as my brother loves us I think he couldn't wait to leave the last time he was visiting with his family.  I don't blame him!  When you have your own little kids (his boys are 3 and 1.5 yrs) it's hard enough dealing with all the demands THEY place on you and the sleep disruptions from them, let alone the circus that goes on in my house at any given time.  They come anyway, and for that I am eternally grateful and love them all the more since I know it's not easy :)

Late night when everyone is asleep except for me is certainly as quiet as it gets here, and that is likely one more reason I tend to stay awake longer than I should.  Keep in mind, I still have the monitor noises, and recently both boys have started talking in their sleep, but it's definitely an improvement over day-time unless it's a night when Josh is up.  There is never really any silence though. 

Ahhh, silence, that elusive creature my senses crave, and yet, silence is dangerous in my house. First off, probably because I get so little of it these days, it sometimes takes me a while to realize that is IS in fact, quiet.  But if Josh is home and awake, quiet is usually not a good thing.  There are times when he will just be sitting quietly and looking at his books or pages but those times are infrequent.  Ironically, even though he can't button up his shirts, tell you which object is smaller, categorize anything, identify himself in a picture, or understand the concept of time, he does understand what most kids do -  best to be quiet when you are doing something you are not supposed to so as not to attract attention (cue evil laughter).  I know all parents have moments where they will realize it's quiet and with a start you race around to figure out why but with Josh it's a little more stressful.  What's he eating?  Oh yes, he won't touch most food that might actually be good for him but give him a staple, rock, soap, paper clip, paper, dog cookie (seriously, it happened at Christmas) and he's got it in his mouth.  That's always fun.  Or, what's he destroying?  This will actually be the subject of a future post, but suffice it to say that Josh is highly skilled in the art of taking things apart.  We'll just leave it at that for now.  You've already seen my problem with him stealing shampoo out of shopping bags and then using it liberally all over himself, his room, his toys, and I NEVER hear him do this.  My house smells like Suave Kookaburra Coconuts shampoo with just a hint of bacon-pop in the background... wanna come over? 

The only times I am awarded the gift of silence that is NOT concerning is on the very rare occasion that I go somewhere on my own for any length of time, like to visit my family in Vancouver for a weekend.  It doesn't happen very often, I can count on one hand the number of times since the boys were born that I have been able to do this, so it's a rare event indeed.  I do find that it takes me a little time to be comfortable with the lack of auditory over-load when I have been able to go away but it's definitely welcome once I make the transition.  Silence is golden - as long as I am not home and someone else is taking care of Josh. 


** a couple of notes: first, apologies for not getting this up sooner, Josh has done his best to thwart the creation of this post over the last couple of days. Also, for anyone who was wondering, Josh is back at school. Our meeting with the school staff and district went well for the most part.  This particular district has actually been very easy to work with compared to some others we've dealt with. **