Dear Store Clerk–

I understand that you only spend a limited amount of time with each customer that comes through your lane. You probably have to make some snap judgements just to spark conversation with those in your line. But please understand that sometimes you may judge too quickly.

You see, I was the Mom in your checkout lane this morning. Yeah, the one with the child sitting in the cart, even though he seems way too big to be in there. The child who was “happy screaming” (a.k.a. vocal stimming) quite loudly. I was the Mom with bags under her eyes from years of sleepless nights. The Mom who was very aware that I only had a limited amount of time in your store because of the lighting, sounds, and smells.

You saw me and my boy, the one with the iPad, and chose to say, “Wow! Someone sure is spoiled.” Then you shot me what appeared to be a disapproving glance, like if he was your child there is NO WAY you would let him have something like that. Part of me wanted to cry. Part of me wanted to punch you in the face.

You see, I spent countless hours writing grants to get my son his iPad. Not for the games or videos or music. Not so he could look cool to his peers. I wanted this device for him so that he could communicate with me, my family, and his teachers. I longed to know his thoughts. I longed to give him something portable enough to take with him and ease his anxiety when we are away from the familiar.

My beautiful son has autism. Verbal communication is extremely difficult for him, but he can type. And I am forever thankful for that treasured communication link. His iPad has opened a world between us that was closed before.

Guess what I’m trying to say is that before you deem a child “spoiled” for having a piece of technological equipment, take a second look. Look at that parent — she is wearing an autism lapel pin. Look at that child — he is working so hard to not lose it in your store. We are just people trying to get through our day and we could use your support instead of your disapproval.

my autism lapel pin

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I feel a sense of loss today. It seems strange, for I have not lost a family member or friend, but rather someone who I have never met. However, this person changed life for my son, for my family, … for the world.

A true visionary — dreaming up worlds that others could not even conceive of in their wildest imaginations.

Someone who has mobilized technology and in the process given voice to so many who may not have been otherwise heard.

Someone who has opened up the world for my son that autism seemed to have closed.

Mr. Jobs, thank you for giving us opportunities that we weren’t sure that we would ever have.

Thank you for believing in an animation studio that has brought our family a world of enjoyment. (So much so that our son named his autism service dog, Pixar, in honor of that studio.)

Thank you for dreaming and then seeing those dreams through…

R.i.P. Steve Jobs

A number of times a day Christian starts frantically typing on his iPad (or any computer that he can find) a list of credits from movies/shows that seems to be an endless stream in his mind. Sometimes he deletes these streams letter by letter before any of us get a look at them. Sometimes they are saved in the notes/word processing sections. Sometimes he shares them with us and we are expected to read them aloud while he intently listens and makes sure that we have it correct.

I can’t begin to imagine what it must be like in his mind with these streams of credits running through combined with the marching of the production company logos that constantly appear on whiteboards or computerized paint programs. How do you focus on other things?? At least until these things are written down and/or drawn out? 

Perspective…

(I have not edited or spell-checked what Christian wrote. I have not changed the spacing. (Although, I do admit that the spacing did shift during the transfer from his iPad to my email to this blog.) Enjoy.)

***********************************************************************************************
Sony BMG Entertainments                      DreamWorks Records

Games
Written by

DreamWorks Records

Radio
Disney

Disney
Inter
Active

Recordedings in
Special.    Recording
Dolby
stereo
Digital
Very different drummer

Prints by DELUXE
Written and distuributed of
EASTMAN FILM
Color by METROCOLOR
AGC Inc Disney Pictures is the Author of the stinky friends
Articable been and all
national laws giving effect thereto

This motion picture was created
by walt disney television
for Courposes and copyright law in the
united kingdom

This motion picture
C. Warner bros
This motion
picture
C. Warner bros television
This motion picture
C. Warner bros
records
Original score
C. Warner bros pictures
It’s Time to Go
Home
United States
Screenplay and story

C. Warner olive music
Unitetional have cleveland show on the
program
The following companies have on the program

The laws of the united states and others crinimal prosecution

United states and all countries united states and others
Country of
First publication united states of America
Any soundtrack copyright is
other laws
Copyright soundtrack All rights reserved
C. Copyright 1990
The Farm Groups CNN News
Special thanks to CNN News
Conetants crinmal
prohibited or prizes
Portions of the has been edited of trademark
Crossing
the across fasterandfaster or prizes
Copyright soundtrack records crinimal
pentales
Copyright soundtrack crinimal pentales
NBC
Universal Televisions Are Share
Sad city the baby eistein company
the cleo
Little eisteins the baby einstein company

Touchstone pictures
The world is
enoughed
System Alert Emergency
NBC
Universal Television
United states and others

Little eintesteins company the
Baby eisteins company little
eisteins
Judrisictions of the Annie Baby Eistein

Copyright soundtrack and of the for Are
Mixed up TriStar Television
crinimal pentales
Cleveland inc those characters NBC Universal

Those characters cleveland inc TriStar pictures
Cliff hanger and of the
NBC Universal television &
Judrisictions of the walt disney pictures and
television

This motion picture made under the back of
Are
Judrisictions of the world and the he’s back of an
Heaved new
crinimal prosecution should be infered

No 12345678.    This picture made
under
App.                        the Judrisiction of
Rox.
Ia
Motion picture.          Afliated
with
____________.    Afl cio clc

C. Copyright 1990 The Walt Disney
Company
All rights
reserved

Distuributed
by
Buena vista pictures
Disturibution co inc

Yeah, that’s right!  Things have been a bit crazy around here!  I have wanted to blog, but I didn’t.  Then I let myself feel guilty for not blogging, which brought my mood down, which led me to want to write, but not wanting to be a downer, henceforth, I did not write, which led to guilt (and run-on sentences) … vicious, stupid cycle! 😦

Anyway …  we made it through the end of the school year, field trips, concerts, swim/dance lessons, lack of therapists, constant schedule changes, etc. and into the summer, which means many things…

*I have gone back to work at a local produce farm for 4hrs each week.  It’s scheduled time out of the house, working hard, putting fresh, chemical-free produce into our frig on a weekly basis.  I enjoy it and the reminder that it brings me as to where our food comes from and how difficult it is to grow the food and grow it well.  Now if I could only keep our own garden weeded! 😉

*All of Christian’s new therapists are now fully trained! 🙂 Whew!  We might actually have a month where we make all of our required hours for the state! (80+hrs/month)  I feel, again, that our senior therapist has put together a good team who all seem to work well with Christian. (Thanks, BB!) [insert sigh of relief here!] I am thankful to God for bringing these new, wonderful people into Christian’s life (and for those who have been with us for awhile). 🙂

*Olivia is playing t-ball again this summer.  Her first practice/game was cancelled due to stormy weather.  She was disappointed, but now can’t wait for next week to roll around. 🙂  (Read about Christian’s adventures with softball here.)

*The kids have been out fishing with Brian at the nearby ponds a few times already.  Nothing like fresh fish sticks! 😉  (Read about our Father’s Day fishing adventure here.)  There is hope for many more successful fishing expeditions this summer! 🙂

*I’ve been attempting more home-baked goods lately: adding fish to our menu twice/week, homemade granola, crockpot yogurt, banana oatmeal cookies, rhubarb sauce, jam, etc.  Everything seems to taste that much better without the extra junk that is sometimes dumped into mass-produced foods. 🙂  Yum!

*The kids have been enjoying our fresh strawberries.  The berries have been slow going this year because of the cooler weather, but they are delicious and unlike most store-bought berries, are juicy and red ALL the way through! 🙂

*I have become an auntie twice in the last month(ish) to two beautiful nieces. 🙂  I love you, girls!

*I have also received a lesson in lawn tractor driving, so no longer have an excuse not to help keep the lawn under control.  (And I have learned from my mistakes!)

*Christian has fallen in love with Dr. Seuss books on his iPad.  He loves them all, but his favorite is “The Cat in the Hat.” 🙂  He has grown so fond of them that when I put the iPad to bed at night, Christian gets out the actual Dr. Seuss books and reads them instead.  (He has pretty much memorized “The Cat in the Hat” and also often walks about the house saying, “My father can read big words, too.  Like … Constantinople and Timbuktu.” from “Hop on Pop.” 🙂 ) Christian has also taken to dressing like the Cat, often wearing a tall hat and bow tie.  He’s SO cute! 🙂  (Although, yesterday afternoon he came running out of the bathroom wearing only the bow tie.  I was glad that I was the only one home at the time and enjoyed at good laugh 🙂 before I had to deal with the mess that was left behind. 😦 )

Christian as the Cat in the Hat (minus the bow tie)

Christian as the Cat in the Hat, minus his blue bow tie. 😉

*Christian totally misses school and the bus.  Daily.  Then he gets super mad at me when I can’t produce them.  😦  I’m praying that this phase passes soon!

*Christian is also still trying to get his top teeth to poke through his gums.  Painful for him.  Hard on the rest of us.  Sometimes aggression is involved.  Sometimes my food is declared “garbage” and quickly tossed in the trash after just being plated.  We are surviving on lots of deep breaths and silent prayers.  (And gum numb-er, stuff that is even more effective than orajel!)

*Pixar, Christian’s service dog, continues to do well with training at the Compassionate Paws training facility.  (Pixar will come home with us at the end of September!)  Vicki, the trainer, just started a blog about the goings on at the ranch.  You can check it out at http://compassionatepaws.blogspot.com

Our intention in pursuing an iPad for Christian was to have it as a communication device for him.  To teach him how to use it for when he is too tired to talk, can’t find the words, the words won’t come out, etc.  It is amazing for that!

The ironic thing that is happening, though, is that since he received his iPad he has been communicating more with us VERBALLY!  This is totally HUGE and awesome and overwhelmingly fantastically unexpected!!!  Most of the phrases that he is using are scripted (especially from the cartoon, “Peppa Pig”), but he is using them at appropriate times!  Hooray!!!  [insert all sorts of happy dancing and cartwheeling here!]

Here are some of my favorites from the last couple days:

*”Daddy, I’m definitely not extremely tired!” with a BIG smile on his face. 😉

*Liv got a new piggy bank for her birthday.  Christian grabbed her old one and was trying to shake something out.  I helped him recover a couple dollars.  He said, “I want some of that!”  Then, “Dollar!”  Grandma gave him one.  He put it back in the bank and said, “It’s like money in the bank!”  Then he asked for “more” and followed Grandma out the door when she was leaving asking, “Money? Money?” 😉

*”I need vacation!”

*”To church. To [Mc]Donald’s. To waterpark.”  (What he thought his schedule should be on Sunday.)

*”I love McDonalds! And I want cheeseburger. It’s true!”

THEE iPad…

…probably one of the greatest technological advances in the world of autism.  Seriously.  These devices are giving voice to people who have not had their actual thoughts/feelings/wants/needs/desires known before.  An honestly amazing item.

I started writing grants for an iPad for Christian last August.  iPads were really just gaining notoriety in the world of communication aids at the time.  When you think about it, iPads make so much more sense.  Traditional communication devices are bulky, “uncool”, and expensive ($8000+).  iPads are portable, chic, and much more cost-efficient.

Anyway, we were waiting to hear about our latest grant request when we were approached by a local group who had “heard” about Christian.  They wanted to give Christian a voice, yet remain anonymous.  So they donated the iPad, case, and the essential apps that we needed to get started. 

I am overwhelmed by their generosity. 

I wish I could give them the images from my mind of how his face lit up when he saw it.  How he immediately knew how to use it.  How he was able to get the endless list of credits out of his fingers and into the “notes” so that he could work on other things.  How he could use it to ask for things that he wants or needs.  How he could pull up his prayers that are part of his daily routine.  These pictures are beautiful.  I am forever grateful for being able to witness them. 

Thank you.

And to all of you, who prayed on Christian’s behalf, that he would be granted this technology, thank you.  Prayers are powerful.