Mama Slob-san's

Leftist Blogger wants to practice writing and exorcising her gaseous build up.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Autistic Teen, Jacob Allen Found

The good news is that autistic teen, Jacob Allen has been found alive. He is an 18-year old that was hiking with his family and "wandered off". The search went on for about 3 days, 3 1/2 days? The terrain was steep and thick with brush. They were adamant that Jacob was dressed appropriately, even for some night lows in the 40s. He was in shape and used to hiking. Apparently they said that there were plenty of natural water sources, so he shouldn't be too dehydrated. They were concerned that he wouldn't respond to his name.
The chill one must feel when a child wanders off and in a relatively dangerous place.
It's great news that he wasn't hurt, as far as we know.
The bad news? It isn't front page headlines. Jacob isn't a sparkly girl with all sorts of bubbly smiles or the victim of a tawdry crime. I think everyone deserves a happy ending, not just the pre-pubescent blond girls with tons of friends.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

No Increase in Special Education Enrollment

According to this story, the amount of enrolled students receiving special ed

services is staying the same. Having lived in 3 states since my son was first

considered autistic, I have heard about the explosion of autism and the impact on

special education. When I ask about training, I am met with, "we've never had an

autistic student before". Doesn't matter that there are several schools in town

with autism clinics that are full. Somehow, certain schools have never encountered

We hear complaints about the drain on the budget. What did schools do before all

the autism moms took over special ed? Why is mainstreaming so foreign to them?
Significantly enough, the numbers for "retarded" and "learning disabled" have gone

down as autism as gone up. We all know that autistic people used to be diagnosed

with mental retardation, non verbal learning disorder (nvld), dyspraxia, apraxia. So, it's no surprise that these numbers reflect the change. What is disconcerting is
that the change isn't being noted as a change but a true explosion. As if autistic
kids came out of nowhere and invaded the school system.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Y2K McCarthyism or Why I don't like Celebrity Moms

As my friends know, I have an autistic son who is 7 years old. To summarize and highlight our lifestory, he receives special ed services while fully mainstreamed in 2nd grade. He gets sensory breaks-if he needs them, he uses mechanical pencils to help his writing, he gets coaching on social skills as needed and we maintain a communication log with his teachers. On "paper"his IEP is quite involved and far reaching. In practice it's really a way to keep him out of the autism clinic and with his peers as much as possible. He thrives on socializing and thus, really learns from peer-modelling (as in hanging with his kids is age). Sometimes I feel we over-medicalize his lifestyle to justify specia-treatment.

Ironically, "special treatment" is just accepting him as he is and not asking or forcing him to change. His regular teachers are the most effective with him when they tolerate him.

What sucks this month is that celebrity mom, Jenny McCarthy, has been given air time to promote her latest book about her "fight" with autism. I could just ignore her, another mom, another theory, another perspective. However, others don't. I get calls from well-wishers to watch her, read her book. She cured her son, he's not autistic anymore, only he is. There is no cure, he's fully recovered. She's not anti-vaccine but she is. I read the fallout from her appearances on blogs. For every 4 or 5 complaints (my mom called and said Jenny cured her son!) there is a Jenny-defender. These people come in and say in their spam-like way, "she's just a mother who wants to share her story, what's wrong with that? She's not claiming her way is the only way!"

Well, then why are viewers walking away with the idea that vaccines cause autism? That autism is curable? That Jenny is a real Blonde?

Jenny has the right to free speech and she's using it. Those of us who disagree with and resent her message have that same freedom. She casts a catastrophic shadow over autism, parenting and disabled kids. When we wring our hands over vaccines, diets and alternative medicine, we are ignoring education and social services. We are ignoring, "celebrate diversity".

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Part 3 of Road Trip,

Home Again!

The Aarchway Inn in Moab, UT was nice. We swam before bed and opened the curtains in the room to view the rising full moon. I kept waking up because of disorientation dreams and the loud noises.

At 6:30am we went to get our "hot breakfast". I thought there'd be an onsite cook with hot plates. But it was prepared eggs and country gravy in crock pots, with all the continental stuff as usual. Not bad, but I'm not eating crock pot eggs just before a 10 hour drive through the desert. We made do and filled up on various starches. I filled up my thermos in my room (I travel with my own ground coffee and filters) and packed the car. Have I mentioned that my son eats oatmeal for breakfast everyday? This makes it awkward sometimes but we don't fight over this meal. He happened to eat oatmeal for dinner the night before because we didn't want to go to town once we arrived at the hotel. Oatmeal is Manna.

The predawn air was chilled but as soon as the sun rose over the canyon, it heated right up. We must have dwaddled because we didn't leave town until 9am. I think next time, I'll try and leave by 7:30am if possible. It ended up extending the day too long. I would have picked up a lunch in the next towns if I had realized how long it would take. There are several little towns with the burger shacks and restaurants for a pleasant stop. Bluff, Blanding (a nice visitor center with museum) and Monticello were just south of Moab. Part of the reason I didn't stop was that everytime I asked my son if he was hungry, he'd say no. But he ate half a box of cookies and a lot of crackers. So, it wasn't all that kosher in the car. Next time, I'll ration and stop-like it or not.

We went through Monument Valley around noon. I missed the twin mitts because I was a bit nervous and looking in the wrong direction. doh! But there's so much else to see it didn't matter. I was expecting to see them until we reached Kayenta and knew I had missed them entirely. We drove 163 through the Navajo rez and saw the stands for jewelry. I was tempted to buy something but didn't stop. Out of Kayenta there's another junction and we started driving towards Flagstaff. This half of the day's journey was just beautiful.

We got to Flagstaff and it was a lot later than I expected. There was some confusing road construction and a lot of traffic (we're with I-40 for a bit). Then there is the high mountain scenery, which is nice but not my cup of tea. Perhaps if it were 60 degrees cooler, I would have appreciate a fresh pine scent.

My son kept requesting to play "the blizzard" tape, a Laura Ingalls Wilder recording that has a passage about a blizzard in On the Banks of Plum Creek. We stopped at a rest stop near "McGuireville" and everyone there was stretching their backs, walking their dogs. We all seemed to be pushing it and feeling the pain. This stop had a nice lookout view and some maps of the area.

The traffic got thicker the closer we got to Phoenix and then bam! we were there. It took about 45 minutes to drive through the city, going 65 mph the whole time. What a pain, I didn't factor that at all. And nerve-wracking for a country girl who hates freeways!

We got on I-10 and drove home, often bumper to bumper but no problems. We got home at 7, which was now 6 MST.


Moab scenery, smallness, accessibility

Natural beauty of highways, hardly any traffic, the amount of small towns and rest stops-we're spoiled in the west!

Needed Improvements-

leave early in the morning, pack lunches or stop for a full lunch, ration the snacks

Being There

Full of flu-bug, I arrived in Buffalo, WY early Sunday afternoon. (Pop denied being sick, I think he excreted his bug out at the hotel) Mom (aka "Nana") had made a favorite venison dish and I couldn't eat. She happened to have frozen turkey soup that she thawed out for me, that I was able to hold down. I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening looking feverish and miserable. I felt like such a putz showing up like that, unable to unpack and even watch my own son.

The next day I woke up fine. I had woken up around 2am full of sweat so I must of boiled the bug out.

I ate the leftover venison for lunch, cold and with bread. Delicious. I was afraid to nuke it and change the flavor. We ran some errands and then that afternoon went "swimming". The pool in town is huge, about 4 full size pools in one in which they pipe in snow runoff from the mountain. Freezing cold. It was a really warm day, so I felt stupid to sit there dipping my feet. My son and I finally ran races in the shallow end until we were hot enough to go all the way in the deeper water. I had been bragging about his swimming skills and the new ability to do somersaults, I wanted him to show off.

My brother and sister in law came every evening for dinner. It was cool because we had a lot of time to visit and joke around, and they played intensely with Pop. Hide and seek in a big house, sometimes with all of us. (dinner on Monday was mom's old enchilada recipe, she has her enchilada sauce imported from California by other relatives)

Tuesday was go to Sheridan day. The purpose was to check out local animals in this park they have. We finally spotted the elk and most of the buffalo, he was partially hidden in a barn because of the heat. Pop was busy taking the binoculars to check out their local pool though. Going to Sheridan always involves a trip to Walmart, always. My brother (who managed to skip work) decided to buy my son a toy. The search was agonizing until my son picked a pinwheel. lol My brother ended up taking him back to the toy section and coming out with a Nerf dart gun. That night we went to my brother's for dinner. We ate outside and had taco salad (another old family recipe). Pop got trips in my brother's 4 wheeler ATV in his backyard.

Wednesday people had to work and my mom wanted to clean the house. I took my son back to Sheridan for shopping and a scenic drive. We went "tique-ing" and then took highway 87 back, stopping at Fort Phil Kearney on the way. He didn't like this stop at all, but he posed for some pictures for me. We also stopped at the only Starbucks in the area. I can't remember what we had for dinner that night.

Thursday was the last day for us. Nana, Pop and I went to Buffalo's downtown for window shopping. I took the last pictures in my disposable camera thinking I could develop them at a local place that never opened. drat When we went back home, it was warm enough for Nana and Pop to don bathing suits and have a water fight in the back yard.

Later, my brother and sister-in-law came with pizza (enough for the trip back). We ate outside and then went for ice cream. There was a mini-golf course and so Pop and Co. got to golf. We said our good byes.

The next morning Pop and I left for home.

Highlights to Buffalo, WY:

mild weather, good food, intense playing for my son, driving around in the country, lots of pets, fun

Next, On the Road, there's no place like home

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Road Trip Part 1

Took Pop on a road trip last week. We left Friday the 22nd and drove 500 miles to Santa Fe, NM. I had made a hotel reservation there so I had a goal for the day.

I had planned to leave at 7am but well, that was a lofty goal, wasn't it? We left at 8. Then to make matters worse, I got a "stomach problem" before we even made it to the freeway. I had to make 4 rest stops-I'm sure that ate up about an hour or more altogether.

Much of New Mexico is butt-ugly, well, the southern part that I-25 goes through. We had stopped in Deming for lunch at the Grand Motor Inn. A very old place I had found on the internet that serves homemade food. My son loved it. From Deming, I got on a small highway that cuts to I-25 (bypassing Las Cruces and that White Sands nonsense) at Hatch (chiles!). The next stretch of road always seems shorter on the atlas. . . . Then we hit Albuquerque at rush hour traffic. Finally around 7pm MDT, we reached Santa Fe and our hotel. This city crawls from the ugly grasslands to the beautiful hills where its downtown sits. We didn't go downtown, but I did get some great food near our hotel. (Chicken enchiladas in mole at Los Portrillos) We relaxed, swam and had hotel breakfast the next morning.

I didn't see a Travel Plaza on the way out of town, so I drove for a while worrying about gas. Finally saw a sign and pulled off the road, only to see another sign pointing "4.4 miles" down a highway. So, I took the highway which brought me to Pecos, NM. This was about 10 or 15 miles of real scenery, lush greens and trees and houses. We had lunch at a very slow, filthy Denny's in Raton.

Colorado was a nightmare, like I knew it would be. The very bottom isn't too exciting (plateau and grass) and once we hit Pueblo, the traffic was just ghastly. Road construction, fast cars, impatient 7 year old in the back seat. It was like this until we stopped in Fort Collins (my planned stop for the night).

The Ramada wasn't it was all cracked up to be. (Roomsaver find though they wouldn't accept the coupon) There was an enclosed pool in the "courtyard" which made it really hot inside. The food in the "full service restaurant" was awful (overcooked, expensive and poor tasting). I woke up at 5am with stomach bug. Blech.

The next day, I drove the final leg through Wyoming with this pending flu-bug, nauseated, feeling like I need to "go to the bathroom" and searing back pain. Plans for breakfast in Fort Collins were cancelled, lunch in Casper? cancelled. The good news is that it took just 5 hours to drive to Buffalo.

At 1:30ish pm, we arrived at my parents' house in Buffalo, Wy.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Teddy's Turn

Teddy's Turn
I ran across this story at Autism Diva's blog, who found it at MOM-NOS' blog. A very important story about an 11 year old boy who attempted to share his story with the class when the teacher brought up Autism. She pulled him aside and told him it was personal and to keep it to himself. The principal justified the censoring by citing other students' privacy might by violated by Teddy sharing his own story.
This is the slideshow Teddy created and the next link is the news article about the situation.

"“I'd tell them I'm one of the kids with autism and sometimes kids with autism get picked on,” Teddy explained recently in his family's Newtown Township kitchen. “It's not their fault; it's just because they have autism.”

The fifth-grader asked his mom about talking about autism at his school, Goodnoe Elementary. He thought April would be the perfect time since its autism awareness month.

What an awesome idea, Irene Willis told her son. After all, when Teddy spoke about his disability in his social skills class in February, he made a new friend. He also wrote about his autism for a school report.
“I just want people to treat me better, like one of the other normal kids. If many people knew about autism, then they might think about what the person's good at and not what the person isn't good at.”

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Autism Awareness Month

I have mixed feelings about Autism Awareness month. There has been a crescendo of news stories and talk show dedications. However, there is mainly just one side to Autism being portrayed. That side is of the victimized parents and families of Autistic people. Autism is routinely referred to as a disease that is suffered. High profile advocates use damning metaphors like "tsunami"* and epidemic*.
Casual viewers and new parents see these portrayals on popular shows (Oprah, Dateline and The View) and are left mystified.
This weekend the Autism Awareness event was "the Walk". The fundraising goes to Autism Speaks, which seeks to cure and eradicate autism. That's not my interest. I want people to respect autistics and understand community members that may think and act differently from them. I want school districts to be proactive in training their teachers to teach autistic students.
Is that so much to ask for?
Maybe so.
Autism Diva shared this link to Big White Hat's blog, with his message to the autistic community. I think it belongs addressed to autism community too.


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