Friday, June 29, 2007

Thinking About Thinking

One of the things that I do often is read and reflect on what experts think about thinking. My brain is fried tonight just thinking about thinking. Peter Hobson has written a book called Cradle of Thought. I read almost all of it some time ago. I stopped near the end in the chapter Understanding Minds.

Hobson talks in this chapter about how the autistic individual lacks the ability to share experiences. He talks about how the typically developing little child brings something to another person and wants them to admire it or talk about it with this little person. It is a rare event for Alan to bring something to me to see. Usually it is something that is not working the way it should. He doesn't bring an object or picture to me to admire or to talk about with him. I am always trying to figure out how to provide experience sharing, even for a few moments, in a day.

Another thing that Hobson notes that emerges in the little person is the ability to talk about he or she feels. The little person can talk about sadness, pleasure, being upset, and more. Alan does talk about how he feels occasionally. Usually it is frustration or anger. I can't recall him talking about taking great pleasure in an activity. If I ask him, "Was that fun?" He will answer, "Yes." The thing is, he doesn't volunteer, "That was fun!" or "That makes me sad." I do use as much declarative language as I can to express my feelings out loud. I need to do even more of it and encourage my husband and other family members to express in a statement that they feel a particular way, especially other ways than anger or frustration.

Figuring out how to develop these abilities in a person whose mind is not automatically programmed to share is taxing me to the limit.


Monday, June 25, 2007

So What Do You Do When You Are Alone?
I am at the beginning of another four days and three nights of being a single parent while my husband is on the road. I always have long evenings when he is not here. So far, I have cleared off about half the clutter on the nearby sofa. It must be completely bare, except for the cushions, in ten days. I will feel better when this room is orderly. I have read all my e-mails. I have marked some things to order in my stash of catalogs. I don't order everything I mark, so I like to leave the catalogs for a few days so that I will decide whether or not I really do want to order the items I've marked. I've made some tea. It always soothes me.
My son has yet to put the two dogs back outside after bringing them in "for some face time." When he has done that, he will appear with the daybook and want me to add his evening's autodidact work. That's what I call it when he sets himself work to do that is educational in nature. Once that is over, and before we brush our teeth together, I plan to vacuum the kitchen and run the wet mop over the spills. He will shower, we'll do our evening routine and I will read aloud to him for a few minutes before he recites his ritual good night.
Once I bring the dogs back in and lock up, I will begin my ritual to get to sleep. I put on some romantic music and find something to read. I am always reading something. I usually have several things on the go. Bedtime reading usually includes some kind of non-fiction book that I am reading to inform myself of something or other. Not tonight. In fact, I am also tired of articles in magazines with titles such as Chic on the Cheap.
A few minutes ago, I put away a book onto a shelf that had some Canadian books on it. Ah Ha! Tonight's reading will be The Night We Stole The Mountie's Car. It probably will take me two or three nights to re-read it, but if it gets reread in one night, at least I know I will be laughing. Not a bad way to end the day. And I won't be disturbing anyone if I shake the bed or roar outloud.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Don't Wake Me, Please!
Anyone who knows me, knows I love my husband and son. I have to preface this bit with assurance that I do love them.
My husband is one of those people who can lay his head down for a few minutes, close his eyes and nap. He can tell himself to wake up in half and hour and do so, refreshed. He has no comprehension of the difficulty with which I go to sleep.
Our son never, ever naps. He gave those up before he began to lose his primary teeth. He just doesn't nap. In addition, he regards me as a sort of appliance much of the time. Remember, he is autistic. He has not yet learned to take my perspective much.
For the past few nights, I have not been sleeping well. I really needed to rest last evening. I did finally get to sleep after reading a magazine while Don and Alan watched Liar, Liar. They were happily occupied.
After that, Alan arrived in our bedroom. He was holding my daybook, which is the record of what he does for school during each day. In most evenings now, he does some independent study which he wants recorded. So help me, he came in while I was sleeping and stood there with the book in his hand, staring me awake. I was mad! Don removed him, and lectured him for waking me up. But that wasn't the end of it, no siree!
I was so tired, I fell back asleep. Ah, blessed rest. When Don wanted to go to bed, though, he came in and he woke me up! To go to sleep! He believed I would want to get up, get my night clothes on and go to sleep. Do you have any idea how long it took me to fall asleep after that? Hours and hours of hot, non-sleep, lying there, playing all the mind tricks I could to fall asleep. I did not, however, go downstairs and hang out as I usually do in an effort not to disturb my husband's sleep. It was a weekend night and he did not have to get himself up for work on Saturday. And, he figured I needed to be wakened to go to sleep! This is an intelligent man, who I love dearly, and to whom I have been married for almost 38 years. When he is sleeping, even if it is on a sofa or fully clothed on the bed, I never wake him. I figure he can work out his sleeping arrangements by himself. He is capable of taking off his clothes in the middle of the night and climbing under the covers. Please let me be if I ever manage to get to sleep!


Thursday, June 21, 2007

My Wheel Book

I am one of those people who gets piles of paper all over the place. I am also one of those people who gets a bit scattered when a lot is going on. And finally, I am one of those people who has insomnia when I have too many things to do and not a clear block of time to get them done in. This snowballs because the next day, I am too tired to deal with as many as I could were I rested.

Somewhere, I read about the idea of having a wheel book. The notion was that a skipper had to stay at the wheel of the boat or ship. His mind was active and thinking of all sorts of things he wanted to remember. He would keep a wheel book, which was jottings of things he was thinking about and things he needed to remember. Instead of many little slips of paper to lose, he had captured what was in his mind and too easily forgotten about when he was no longer on duty.

So, I began to keep a notebook on my desk which I call my wheel book. As things occur to me or I need to make lists, I write them down. Then, when I need the information again, I can find it without too much searching.

I do keep other notebooks with specific information such as Web sites or passwords or at times, journals. This notebook is simply for notes to myself. As I get older, many things I think I will remember get forgotten. Just today, I asked Dana the name of a drug, which she gave to me. A couple of hours later, all I could remember was the name of another drug, which I knew it wasn't, because it was for pain, and not for the condition of the drug I had asked her about. If I had taken the time to jot it in my wheel book, I would not have had to ask her again later when I wanted to pass the information to an e-pal.

The piles are threatening to take over too many surfaces. I am on a mission to clear them. My wheel book will be invaluable because many of the papers require a decision. I can pop them into a folder or a separate pile, note in my wheel book what I need to do with them, and get some control over the mess in a hurry. Since I have four or five surfaces I want to clear in a hurry, it will work well. Then, I can work through my list and cross off each item as I get to it, retrieve the paper work and file it if I must, or get rid of it. Even as I sort, I can mail some of the stuff right away or throw it out immediately since its timeliness has passed me by.

This is the second night in a row when I have not been able to settle down to sleep. Too much on my mind. I am going to stop now, note as many things as I am thinking of in my wheel book as I can while I drink a cup of tea, and then go lie down again, this time to sleep, I hope. A cup of tea soothes me when not much else can. Dumping the information into the wheel book will quiet my monkey mind so that I can sleep.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A Haven with a Name

On the road home from Alan's gymnastics class we pass a long, steep driveway. At the bottom is a sign: "Hawk's Nest." While I have never wanted a long, steep driveway, having a home which was a haven with a name always appealed to me.

Until last year, for many years, we owned a beach front lot on a small island in the harbor of a large island. Vancouver Island. "Our" island is called Protection Island or Douglas Island on the map. We gave up our dream of building a home there as being impractical for us and too expensive to maintain as well as being remote from our daughters' homes. So we sold last summer. We won't be retiring there. I had always thought I would find a suitable name for that eco-dream house.

So, a haven with a name may or may not be in our future. Possibly it will be an ordinary house. It will not need a name, I suppose. It will be our haven where we can love each other, live together and shelter our needs and activities. Possibly we will look for a home with a granny flat or attached suite so our son, becoming an adult, can have a separate place which is still under our care. He is likely going to take several years to mature to the point where he can live alone safely, if ever. We have hope still that he will get there and manage to achieve some of his dreams. We hope to live long and vigorously and to be able to assist him in learning to master higher education of some kind and to earn a living. In the meantime, we have to refashion some of our own dreams.

Friday, June 08, 2007

I Want My Arms Back!
You know, somehow my arms have disappeared. At least the ones I am most familiar with as being MY arms. Mine do not have any hanging flesh. They are lean. Mine do not have wrinkly skin at the elbows. The do not have a weird bulge on one arm that my daughter calls a lipoma. So it is fat filled. Why does it have to be there? Maybe I could get one of those liposuction operations to distribute that fat where it could do some good. Too bad I am scared of non-essential operations causing a different screw-up that I can't yet imagine. And, my hands aren't the ones at the end of these arms I can see...My hands do not have snaky blue enlarged veins so fat that they look like overfed worms. Is there nothing I can do to restore MY arms?

The fashions I see now have a lot of cap sleeves. Those are horrendous on me. They show too much upper arm flesh and those beginning bat wings are more obvious. Nope. Not those. I used to love to wear a sleeveless top in the summer time. I can't imagine wearing one just now. And a halter? Forget it.

I have faithfully been exercising three times a week on the machines at Curves. The resistance machines are supposed to be like lifting weights. Umm. Shouldn't there be some slimming results by now? Not only is the old omentum below not shrinking by anything noticeable, the arms are not showing any muscles. My fifteen year old son's arms are showing muscles from his workouts twice weekly at the gym. How come the youth get all the muscles, eh? I'd just like a little improvement.


Thursday, June 07, 2007

Bees in the Lavender
Just like my involuntary muscles, it seems to me, the bees come to my lavender to feast. Symbiotically, they pick up pollen, and, I hope, carry it to some other lavender plant in our neighborhood. I know of at least one nearby home where there are several lavender plants. Maybe they are the same kind. Our lavender plant was put in by the previous owner. I am thankful for it. Normally, it is around four feet high and when trimmed, I can see over it. Right now, though, it is in profuse bloom. The dense spikes are themselves about two feet high and I don't see through them. That's ok. The bees can have my view. Besides the pleasure of having so much lavender, I also enjoy watching the hummingbirds come to also feed on it. Now that tall, non-native spiky grass which was planted at the same time on the other side of my view, is about to get a haircut. My husband plans to trim it off at around four feet high this weekend. He does not like the overgrown look in front of our home.


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Entrusting A Child to a Camp
Even with our neuro-typical children, we were not quick to send them to a camp. I have always thought that the child should be asking for the experience before being sent to an all-day or sleep away camp.
It is even more of a worry with our autistic son. Don and I are attending the annual RDI conference for the first time. We can't do our usual tag team parenting. I am thrilled that Don is willing to attend this important conference with me. We thought about leaving Alan in the hotel room alone for each day's program. Actually, he would be safe there and he would likely have a reasonably good time. He likes to use his computer and watch television uninterrupted.
I think, though, that attending the camp program would be enjoyable for him and also a good experience. He already goes one afternoon a week to the local Teen Center during the school year. He is used to following the directions of the adult in charge now.
The sports portion of the camp takes place, it says, in nearby Balboa Park. I have lots and lots of questions about this, although sports are his first choice. The park is huge. It is an urban park with many people passing through it. I am uncertain about the safety issues of being in a park and under the supervision of one adult to three children. I worry about his use of the rest room. I worry about him crossing fields and parking lots and most of all about getting distracted and not following safety instructions. Tomorrow I can call the director. Like all parents, I will have to judge for myself what the situations are likely to be. You know, I'll bet that parents of neuro-typical (NT) teens would have the same kinds of questions. Alan's lack of social awareness makes it even more problematical. While I can't let my fears for him keep him from doing things, I also have the responsibility to assess what I know could be the dangers and to decide what risk we could be taking. I can't see him doing Arts and Crafts for three days, although he does like them. Let's see what the director has to say tomorrow.