startedinnc

This blog is about a family of two loving parents, two sister schnauzers, a persian, and a very loved young man who faces severe autism daily, sometimes better than others. We will relive the lows, laughs, and joys of our "normal" life. Always under the hand of God.


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Joining Simpsonville First Baptist

Gosh. I see it has been a year since I’ve posted. We are still here. Madison is a growing eighteen year old couch potato trying to survive a hot summer.

We have started going to a new church. It allows us to leave after the music, and we can go into the lobby. He sits on a bench and watches the pastor projected on the wall. This lets him rock, flap his arms, and make sounds without disturbing anyone.

He and I are getting closer since I am staying at home with him. I see him peeking over at me to make sure I am close. We’ll keep adding more of Madison’s story as the summer continues.

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Yeah! For Tina Fey.

I was so lucky this morning to be able to watch one of Tina Fey’s best acting role, if not her tour de force. Madison was sitting on the couch hanging on her every word.

I’ve seen her several times hosting award shows or on Saturday Night Live on tape. Her timing has always been splendid when she was working with other actors.

Of course I was one of those who never could tell her and Sarah Palin apart. I still wonder which one said what.

But I never knew how she could really get into a character or take over a stage until this morning. It was impossible to take my eyes off of her. Her portrayal of Mother Goose on Sesame Street was dead on. It almost brought tears to my eyes. And when she came up with a new poem on the spot, it was truly a work of art.

Now, Sesame Street is most see TV for any writer want-to-be. It has grammar, a new letter everyday, and character studies of people in your neighborhood. Okay, I think I crossed brands there but you understand.

So if you plan to be a writer, whether books, letters or grocery list, add Sesame Street to your watch list. And you may get to see an award winning-like performance from star. No, really, they have dancing stars. Something DWTS may want to think about.


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Daddy Comes Home

Having a child with autism, everyday things have a different pattern. This is just a little snapshot into our family. It’s not meant to be sad, it just is.

I left home last week to go to a writers’ conference at Blue Ridge. While I was packing for the trip, my wife, Vickie, came into the room just to talk before I left. Our two dogs came in when they heard our voices and laid on the floor watching. Then our new little kitten, Cathy Puff, jumped on the bed and played with my clothes as I placed them in my suitcase.

Madison was in his room, listening to his video. In his own little world.

I went in his room to tell him I was leaving, that I love him, and that I’ll be gone a few days.

Then I said, “Bye, Madison.”

He said, “Bye, Madison.” Never looking up at me.

When I arrived home, I was greeted at the door by our two schnauzers, stubby tails wagging their whole backsides. They ran back and forth from me to my chair, waiting for me to sit so they could jump up onto my lap. Our two cats followed so they could join in the excitement.

Madison sat on the couch listening to his video. We did a fist pump, but he didn’t stand or look up.

I unpacked. Then I returned to the room and sat down to hear how the week went from Vickie. She and I talked for several minutes about home, the conference, and, of course, our pets.

Then Madison looked at me, pointed, and said, “One”.

He looked over at Vickie. “Two.”

Then he pointed to his chest. “Three.”

Then, as if to himself, he repeated, “Three.”

And went back to listening to his music.

His family was back together.


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A Swimmingless Swim

(Madison is our seventeen year old son who has severe autism. He can repeat words to us and sing, but isn’t able to have a conversation or tell us what he is thinking. This blog is to let you see some of the things we encounter.)
Have you ever heard of a swimmingless swimming lesson?
We were very excited when we got word that Madison was approved to take swimming lessons at the Y. I’d taken Madison to our neighborhood pool and he got a bad sunburn. That should be no surprise with his red hair and ivory skin. I took him to the pool and a sweet little boy watched him get in the pool and innocently asked, “Is he a vampire?” I think he was hopeful he would be.
But he loves to go to the pool. He can float on jis back and swim across the pool. He is the only person I’ve seen who can laugh under water and not choke. I don’t understand ho he does it.
When he was smaller, he was so cute because he would keep his nose out of the water by standing on the tip of his toe, like a ballerina. Just his nose sticking out of water resembling a turtle in a pond.
So now he could swim in the inside pool. He was so excited. When he put on his swim suit he was ready to go to the car.
I made a mistake the first time I took him. We were early because I’ve learned to schedule extra time when you take Madison somewhere because he can dawdle or be slow to get in or out of the car. Since we were early, we sat in the chairs in the lobby of the Y. That became part of the routine and we had to sit there each time. That’s not so bad, but he’s singing and playing his Teletubbies or Newsong on his Ipad so anyone passing by had to look.
One thing a parent of a special needs child learns very quickly is to not worry about being embarrassed or getting attention. It is going to happen. No need to try to hide or look away. Just go with. Yes, that’s my son. Cool, isn’t he?
In the previous lessons it has taken us longer and longer for him to get in. His lessons are thirty minutes long and he would be outside first ten, then fifteen, then twenty minutes. Several times I pushed him in. (Bad daddy) Once I felt so guilty because I pushed him in front of the life guard and I just knew I would get kicked out. She looked up at me and said, “Finally.” She had watched us coaxing Madison for twenty minutes.
He was so funny. Yvonna was his swim instructor and she was super patient. She would jump in and tell Madison to sit on the edge and pat where she wanted him to sit. He would go over and pat the same place and then step back from the edge. Once he climbed down the ladder into the water so I would ask him to use the ladder. He would step down two steps and then get out. It was an excellent example of obeying the words but not the intent.
The frustrating thing about missing the lesson is he enjoys the water so much. But for whatever reason it became more fun to not get in. Another case where our lack of communication with him leaves us scratching our heads.


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Not My Daddy’s Household

One of the amazing things about Madison is that he is able to listen to or follow several things at one time.
Personally, I have a one track mind. When I get involved in something, I can often lose track of things around me. My attention is on that one thing.

Not so with Madison. I went back to his room last night and he was sitting on his bed watching two TVs that he had synced the CDs on so that they played that same spot on the videos at the same time. He also had the piano playing a rhythm that he likes. And he had his I-Pad in his lap playing a YouTube video. And he was in charge of all of it.

This is nothing new. He has done this since he was little. He has had four TVs going all at the same time. But also in three different rooms. He was sitting in the front room so I turned the TV off in his room in the back. He immediately recognized it and said, “TV, TV.” He wanted it back on.

Now, I thought about my daddy who always made us turn off the TV or lights before we left the room. Things are a little different in our household.

Madison is a sixteen year old boy who is on the severe side of the autism spectrum. He never ceases to amaze his dad with his activities. His dad is learning to not ask why, but to enjoy the little boy/young man that he has.


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A Day at a Dog Show

Ralphie

A Saint Bernard or the world’s best babysitter

I’m currently writing a fiction book about a young boy with autism. One of the heroes happens to be a Saint Bernard. I just love them. If you’ve ever met one, you know they just have a regal bearing and such a peaceful temperament. They have great coloring. And they are soooo big, large, huge, gigantic. I mean really big. They are often between 180 and 200 pounds or more.
No, I do not have one. My dogs are about twenty pounds. Now the small one thinks she is much bigger. Can you say Napoleon complex? I don’t think my chair can handle both me and a Saint Bernard.
Vickie and I went to the dog show last weekend in Greenville. We love going and look forward to it each year. It is fun to see so many breeds of dogs and realize how different they are. We don’t really watch the show, but we walk around and look at the dogs standing on their tables being groomed or just walking around. You may see a Bulldog, a Poodle, we had three Miniature Schnauzers standing on their table in the three different styles; black, salt and pepper, and black and silver. You see the fat dogs Mastiffs, Pugs, and then you see the skinny dogs; Grayhound, Saluki, Italian Grayhound. The ones whose skin don’t fit like the Bloodhound, the Shar Pei, and the Mastiff.
You see the little dogs who have to be carried like the French Bulldog, the  Yorkie, and the Chihuahua. The big dogs who should carry you; Great Pyranees, Newfoundlands, and Greater Swiss Mountain Dog. Or do you just want tall dogs with long legs like the Irish Wolfhound,the Scottish Deerhound, and the Great Dane. And the groovy breeds with the dreadlocks: the Pulis and the Commodores. And then you have the naked dogs, the hairless: Chinese Crested, Xolo, and the American Hairless.
Have I mentioned colors? It is funny to see the Rottweiler, the Doberman Pinscher and Miniature Pinscher with the same coloring but very different sizes and shapes. And you need to see a min pin prance. Their legs looking like some kind of strange parade walk.
So, is a dog just a dog? A dog show would show you that isn’t exactly true.
I was fortunate to talk with some ladies who were working with their Saint Bernards. The first day the lady told me about CHAPS (Canine Helping Autism and PTSD Survivors). They matchup people with autism and PTSD with service dogs, mainly Saint Bernards. They say the dispositions of the dogs are suited to this work.
The second lady I saw at the show said her dog, and he is big, is a great babysitter. When her daughter was just a baby, she would put her on the couch and when she started stirring, “Ralphie”, would come and get her. He would watch her kids play and if the toddler started walking to the pool, he would get between her and the pool and keep her away. Like a herding dog, a big herding dog.
But one of the stories I like to hear is they will go shopping and strap the child to the dog. If the child starts to wander off, the dog is trained to lie down. That will stop even an adult, a 200 pound anchor.
Service dogs come in many sizes and they have different talents and abilities. With an autistic child, they may be the key that helps to open the child’s voice or help them be more outgoing. As a parent, I’ll take all the help I can get.