At 42 Degrees

At 42 Degrees

Monday, February 24, 2014

On Occasion

On occasion,...we have the occasion to visit Memphis, Tennessee,'s a four hour drive for us and Isaac usually sleeps on the way up,...which is quite convenient,...although he travels well and is usually quite happy to sit in his carseat playing with his toys, reading books, watching a DVD,....or looking out the window to points of interest, and it's easy to know what interest Isaac cause he'll usually articulate, "Oooooh," - or for more specific sites, "There it is!" - which tells us he's spotted a playground, or at least a fast food restaurant with a play-place,...especially one he's played in,...and he NEVER forgets!!!!

And while in Memphis we NEVER forget to eat at Corky's,...the barbecue is fantastic, so are the homemade potato chips,...although Isaac likes the fried catfish best. The restaurant is always crazy crowded, and we have eaten in the dining room a time or two and Isaac did fine, via Mickey Mouse on a smart phone,...but we usually just go through the drive thru,...and picnic in our hotel room,...just as fun and less waiting in a crowded parking lot!

Weather permitting we also NEVER miss the opportunity to visit Shelby Farms in Memphis,...the playground is not only state-of-the-art and absolutely gorgeous, is FUN, FUN, FUN,...according to Isaac, who spent a happy Saturday afternoon with just about every other child in Memphis for the playground was also crazy crowded,...but such a nice crazy crowded,...because what is nicer than the sound children's laughter, they squeal with delight on the uber-cool slides?

Isaac squealed plenty too! When he wasn't signing to my husband or myself as we monitored from the top of the slide pit,...and having sign language was very handy because as you can imagine the playground was slightly noisy,...but we could understand perfectly when Isaac was signing: fun, more and again....

Other parents and children also learned how to sign: turn and share,...because Isaac like any other four year old was learning how to take turns and share on the slides,...and as always people are usually fascinated by Isaac's signing and are delighted to learn a sign or two,...themselves!!!

Very independent, Isaac was, least  bottled in the bottom of the sliding pit,...and he only had one accident,...not his fault,...because the woman who was sliding down the slide and collided with him: one: shouldn't have been sliding down the children's slide, and two: should have seen Isaac and avoided barreling into him.

Fortunately Isaac was more startled and frightened than hurt,...although he was crying and frantically signing: hurt and help!!!!!

Quite a scene Isaac created with anxious adults surrounding him while my husband and I hasten into the pit,...and there it really hit home that Isaac has Apraxia,...because all those adults were only being kind and caring as they questioned him,...if he was OK,..and where was he hurt,...and where was Mommy and Daddy,...but of course,...Isaac couldn't answer a single question,...and could only tell me when I got him into my arms, "OW!!!!"

While my husband explained Isaac's lack of means of communication to those involved, I checked over our little guy,...who rapidly recovered from the incident with no significant 'owie' -- although afterwards he did keep closer tabs on us,...

And we kept closer too, only a few feet away with the camera aimed at Isaac,...and my husband: shadowing our little guy,...because Isaac is precious to us,...and his lack of communication skills makes him vulnerable,...which is a hard point of view to accept for our little guy,...but it's a reality of our lives,...for now at least,...we do hope that as he progresses Isaac will be able to communicate readily in any situation,...but now he can't,...

While in Memphis we were also able to go to the zoo,...and here's progress because for the first time we didn't rent a stroller,...instead Isaac walked,....

 Or rather ran,...and he ONLY had to have two time-outs,...which are VERY effective redirection methods with our little guy when his hyper-activity gets a tad too hyper or his tendency to wander becomes too tempting,...

So,...was Isaac excited about the zoo? 

Not really,...the zoo has a playground,...and Isaac is ALL about running and jumping and climbing and sliding, he liked that,...but look at animals? Nah,...Isaac spent more time exploring the different textures on the fences,...sensory-seeking,...then getting excited about the elephants, or lions, or bears. But then maybe Isaac was just taking a cue from the animals,...because they all seemed pretty bored too....

Venues like the zoo is where you have to take a perspective break,...because Isaac is Isaac and he experiences the world in a different way,...and he makes sure you do too!!! And if the bamboo fences were more interesting to him - than real live elephants - then so be it,...Isaac was having fun and that's the MAIN REASON we took him to the zoo,...for fun, at least the fence architect should know - that one little guy - was really WOWED by that bamboo fence,...smooth as silk, bumpy and round, and such a nice clacking noise when your hand runs across it. Oh, and the elephants in the back ground were a nice touch too,...makes the bamboo seem more realistic....

Quite a hike we had checking out all the fences and the staircase in the Wilderness Lodge at the very far end of the zoo property. Best of all, Isaac had fun, and he willingly held hands, and was smiling when we walked back to the car,...or rather while Daddy carried him for the last little bit,...because he's still a very little guy and all that jumping and climbing and sliding and walking and exploring wore him out!

Before we even left the zoo parking lot,...Isaac was already settling into a nice long nap,....he was ZONKED!!!!

Long ride home,...but after his nap,...Isaac found plenty to do,...such catching up on his reading.

On the ride home, husband and I discussed how easy it is of us to take for granted Isaac's communication,...because to us, it is leaps and bound from two years ago when the only functional word that Isaac had was "Go."  Yet, we well know that our little guy is not readily functional in his communication abilities with his severe Apraxia. It's difficult that Apraxia is so rare and resources are not readily available for the treatment,'s just a reality we live with,...but we have hope for Isaac,...he's an intrepid little guy, full of life and laughter and sheer joy that finds excitement even in a mundane bamboo fence,...forget elephants,...Isaac takes every occasion to make his own brand of fun,...and it is always unexpected and unique,...and that's pretty wonderful!!!

Until I post again,...may God bless and keep you!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Not A Morning Person,...

For the record,...I am a morning person, or rather was a morning person before Isaac miraculous appearance in our lives four years ago,...because Isaac is NOT a morning person,...midnight romps are his delight,...not seven-thirty a.m. wake-up calls for preschool. 

This morning our little guy was just a little groggy! 

But not grumpy,...Isaac has no beef with anyone,
he just wants to chill for an hour or two,....
before rolling over and starting his day with a flying leap out of bed.

By necessity Isaac eats breakfast at preschool,...that means he can sleep until the last 
possible moment,...and I do mean last possible moment, because it's not unusual for us to dress him
for school while he's still passed out asleep.
This morning, Isaac had me laughing because while I dressed him, he was protesting by
sleepily saying, "My turn, turn, turn." 

Translation: In the middle of the night, I often have to remind Isaac that it is
Mama's turn to sleep,...which means I am not available for play. 

The good news is that when Isaac wakes up - he's AWAKE,...full throttle,...
check out the silly grin, I got at the end of our photo shoot,
and of course, Mama is going to whip out the camera
where her little guy is looking soooo cute sporting big brother's jacket.

Concerning Isaac's sleep issues we are taking the long-view in the hopes
they will improve as he matures, some of those issues have,
such as getting Isaac to bed before ten o'clock on school nights,
and severely curtailing his late-afternoon-early-evening naps, 
which were a huge bugaboo in our lives because when Isaac does fall asleep,
he's out like a light,...and practically nothing can wake him when he's in a deep sleep.
Unfortunately Isaac's deep sleep doesn't last all night,...and in his light sleep
he wakes too easily and too frequently,
which I understand is not uncommon among children with autism. 
Still even those frequent periods are not as frequent,
and everyone is getting more and better sleep!

Sleep issues, until you are faced with them, are not something you give much
thought to,...I mean, newborns are suppose to be difficult sleepers, not four year olds. 
But nothing about Isaac is uncomplicated,...from eating, to sleep, to potty training,
to learning to speak, and even learning how to play, is all a challenge 
for our precious little guy,
but at bedtime, Isaac can now say, "Night time"
Isaac says, "Love you."
He says: "My name: I-ick"

(OK, he's signs: my, name, but Isaac does say: I-ck)

Isaac folds his little hands while we pray - thanking God for our day
 and he always ends with a big: "AMEN!"

Could be that Isaac will NEVER be a morning person,
and that's OK,...
we love him,...just the say he is!

Until I post again,...may God bless and keep you@

Thursday, February 13, 2014

One Snowy Night,...

Once upon a time,...just last night,...a snow storm visited our quiet, little neighborhood,...and of course the weather folks were predicting for us,...just a 'light' dusting,...

Within three hours,...FIVE INCHES drifted down,...while Isaac had the opportunity to go outside at night and play in a wintery white,...

Big brother Teddy took him,...and also photoshopped some pixs,...this one is called: I.I. in the Snow

And this: Brothers in Winter White

Only problem with winter white in the Deep South, all that ice and all that snow on trees usually means the power will go out,...and so it did,...our white world went: BLACK,...

Fortunately Isaac is not fazed by the dark, perk,...if you can call it a perk of autism is that Isaac has absolutely NO FEAR of the dark,...he loves it, him,'s just something interesting to explore, we had no hysterics while hunting for flashlights,...and fortunately I do keep an emergency shelf in the closet, it is easy to find what we need to find when the power goes out. 

A gas fireplace/stove downstairs kept the house nice and cozy and as we ALWAYS keep our electronics fully charged,...we had access to a portable DVD player that was somehow synced with the linemen working outside,...because the moment the DVD movie ended,...our power came back on,...perfect timing.

Of course for the record, we did have a second outage,...but that was perfectly synced with bedtime,...and we quite happily went to bed with the sound of power-saws ringing in our ears,...and a great big THANK YOU, those brave, and selfless linemen that keep us so safe and warm,...we are so appreciative!!!!

Since bedtime was a little late,...we slept in,...but when we woke,... our world was still white,...if melting rapidly!!!

We hustled Isaac into a pair of boots over his blanket sleeper and put on his thick jacket for a quick tour of a Winter Wonderland,...

Actually it was still so cold outside that the velcro on those little boots got wet and froze so they wouldn't stay closed properly,...not that Isaac minded,...he LOVES going outside,...

Not a lot of feedback from Isaac about the snow,...he was very blasé,...after all it had snowed just a week and half ago,...and to him it was just a lot of wet white stuff,...but we know he was taking it all in,...and new experiences are broadening,...also Isaac has an inherent genius for FUN,...often it is his own take on an experience,...but nevertheless,...he's having a good time,'s his job and he takes it very seriously,...

Wintery walk with brother, a white world,...the scenery is gorgeous,...but my mother's heart is melting because Isaac is holding hands,...for a child with autism,...that's a HUGE achievement and trumps any snowstorm,...

Have to end with a snow person,...a date for Olaf,...isn't she cute? Wish she had lasted longer,....but like the entire snow storm,...she's now nothing more than a image frozen in time. 

Still, no doubt, our snow person and all these snow pix will find there way on an adaptive book for Isaac,...that's my newest therapy slant that I am exploring,...because I had NO IDEA you could make e-books in Power Point and upload them to Ibooks,...and as Isaac is such a tech-guy it makes sense to target some concepts for our little guy,...and no doubt,...I'll attempting our own adaptive books,...soon, far, I've been researching and tinkered with powerpoint,...but I have a slight learning curve to master on that app,...but for Isaac I am willing to learn whatever may be,...and if it works, I'll be sure to post what tips I can here,...because this is a GREAT idea for social stories!!!! As for this snow story,...I already know it will be titled: One Snowy Night!!!

Until I post again,...may God bless you!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Learning to Celebrate,....

Another birthday in our home,...this one mine,...and Isaac helped us celebrate,...

Celebrations and holidays are things, I have found, that you take for granted with a 'typical' child,'s easy to translate the enthusiasm and significance,...but we are learning that autism gives such events its own twist,...and that it is best to 'go with the flow' - and enjoy the fact that a celebration is still a celebration - whether - Isaac 'gets' what all the fuss is about - or not,...and frankly for me, 'this' issue has been one of the harder aspects to come to terms with,...because we LOVE to celebrate,...but all our enthusiasm and explanations of the 'significance' don't easily translate for Isaac,...but he is making progress,...the little birthday crown,...for instance.

This past weekend, Isaac found this crown and immediately said, "Bir-day C'ke."

My husband and I both went, "WOW!" - and then showered the bewildered darling with kisses,...because Isaac had no idea he had just exhibited one of his first 'recalls' - and WOW - was it exciting to hear our little guy associate that birthday crown with a 'past experience' - because 'recall' is not a strong suit for our little guy who likes to live in the moment. 

Would it have been nice for Isaac to have been able to say, "LOOK...I found my birthday hat,...I wore it when I blew out the candles on my birthday cake."

Because we know that's what he meant when he waved that gaudy little crown and crowed, "Bir-day C'ke."

So we tried to build up "Mommy's Birthday" for Isaac, he'd realize other people had birthdays too,...but without feedback,...we're not sure how much penetration or saturation we achieved,...and that's the puzzle of autism, is so hard to gauge exactly what Isaac knows or understands because thanks to apraxia-plus-the-autism,...communication is a real challenge,...but Isaac had a fine time decorating my birthday cake,....I LOVED it!!!

And, hey,...if Isaac thinks his folks are crazy minions who like to occasionally have cake and candles,...just for fun,...he's all over that because he lives for 'FUN' -- and he fooled us,...

Deep inhale to blow out the candles,...but he didn't,....even at our urging,...because those candles were melting,...

We urged and encouraged,...but Isaac was waiting on me,...his way of showing that he knew the birthday cake wasn't his,...we blew them out TOGETHER,...and yes,...I was thrilled by his self-sacrifice,...because he loves to blow out candles,...but it was Mommy's birthday and this was his way of expressing: I LOVE YOU - Mommy,....

WOW,...but this child continually astonishes us, many obstacles,...but he soldiers on with so much joy and enthusiasm for living and life and for those he loves.....and for Isaac learning to celebrate is not a hard task,'s is his daily mode,...because everyday to him is: FUN!

Until I post again,...may God bless and keep you!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Picture Perfect,...

When my middle son, Michael's girlfriend text this picture to me,...
I thought it looked like an ad for a sitcom,...picture perfect,...
with no issues,...visible,...

But it is actually very rare to get Isaac to look at a camera,...

Any images I capture are while my little guy is in action,...and hopefully not noticing the camera,...

Just Isaac's 4th birthday,...alone,...I took over 500 pictures, get maybe 30 acceptable,...and out of the 30,...maybe 3 that were spectacular, this one of our little guy blowing out all those candles.

More often than not,...I get blocked views, when Isaac is getting unnerved by the sticky sugar glaze on his fingers,...not that,..that stopped him from consuming the rest of that donut!!!

Sensory issues are a part of what Isaac deals with,...with his autism,...textures matter, (gooey stuff is not friendly to him) matters, (he can concentrate better in a confined space, such as a chair with sides),...and eye contact,...which he doesn't initiate can be a challenge,...but Isaac tries to overcome his challenges,...and thankfully he is actually very friendly and initiates social contact, not just with us, but with others, my son's girlfriend Valerie.

As for other sensory matters,....Isaac tries to taste other type foods,...most he rejects,...but some he loves like Mud Milk, a frozen milkshake like treat with kale and soy milk, no less,...and ketchup!

Just watching Isaac eat his French fries with ketchup is a JOY,...because he really,...really likes ketchup,...but it falls into the ooey-gooey category which he circumvents by precisely and I am talking surgically precise,...dips the fry into the ketchup with a pincher grasp and then opens his mouth as wide as it will go to consume the fry WITHOUT the ketchup coming anywhere near his lips,...believe me, smeared - ketchup-mouth with Isaac,...

Unless we are using sign language most people don't realize Isaac's communication challenges,...because it's not a visible disability,...and for most, very baffling,...because Isaac's hearing is perfect,...and it's difficult to have to explain, child can hear, but not speak (much) or rather not speak readily,...because Isaac communicates within his expressive vocabulary such as: "Daddy work" - can mean, "Daddy's at work." "Daddy's not home" "I miss Daddy" "Where is Daddy" "When is Daddy coming home." - it's all context and a bit of guessing and asking and hoping you are understanding correctly,...but fortunately Isaac is very patient with me and my communication challenges,...and it's pretty amazing how well we do communicate without a 'typical' flow of conversation. 

We're grateful Isaac has taken to sign language,...its a visible language cue for him,...that helps him,...and let's us be a little more precise about his needs,...wants,...and,...likes....and he's even silly with it, any other four year old, when he deliberately got stuck in this tree and asked for  "HELP" - signing and saying, "Mama help." --- although we both knew he didn't need help,...but he was exploring his language and social barriers,...and YEAH,...that's a great thing!

In a hundred years,...someone could come across a picture of Isaac and NEVER know he has any challenges, so often look: picture perfect,...but in 2014,...our little guy does have challenges that are baffling to us,...and heartbreaking,'s true, one wants their child to have to trod such a difficult road,...but we are on this road and we will go forward with Isaac,...grateful for each day,...and grateful for what challenges he does have,...because others do have harder roads, much harder,...and Isaac is healthy and happy and honestly isn't that what we want most for our children? So what if Isaac can't speak in fluent sentences,...he has a sunshine smile, an intrepid spirit,...and the best hugs and kisses in the world,...and that speaks volumes,....

Until I post again,...may God bless and keep you!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Rice Bandit,...

Can anyone so adorable looking truly have a penchant for pilfering rice?

I am sorry to say,...but it's true,...Isaac is a rice bandit, one's rice is safe when he is around,...which is why we decided on Chinese food-feast for his fourth birthday, our little guy could indulge in his favorite food. 

Isaac likes noodles too,...but the rice at this meal was the real attraction,...he gobbled his plate empty and asked for more,....and more,...and more,...bottomless pit,...he is when it comes to rice. 

Between bites off his own plate,...Isaac wasn't above helping everyone else with the rice on their plates as well,...because if they weren't going to eat it,...he was!!!

You can see him eyeing the rice on brother's plate!

Oh yes,..the birthday boy was in rice heaven,...especially since we don't have it that often at the house,...purely because if we have rice,...Isaac will eat NOTHING but rice,...and it is yummy,....but unfortunately not that nutritious,..and oh yes,...I've tried brown rice and black rice and wild rice,...but Isaac only gives me a wise, "You've got to be kidding me" - glance,...for he's not fooled,...white rice and only white rice will do,...although he's not picky about balsamic or jasmine rice or short grain or long grain,...just as long as it is white and rice and he's getting to eat it....

I have a therapy-sensory pan that is rice-centered I've been meaning to make for Isaac,...just a box filled with rice,...and the object of the this sensory activity is to 'hide' puzzle pieces in the rice for him to find, Isaac does need help with fine motor because Apraxia does affect some of his finer-motor skills,...crayons are hard to hold,...and so are utensils,...perhaps today is the day for such an activity,...I'll have it set-up for him when he gets out of school,...something to discover,...and I do,...try to make discovery points for Isaac around the house while he is in school,'s harder to do while he is at home,...because he's a little shadow, any surprise isn't much of a surprise,...but it's worth the effort to set out some new toys or arrange some favorite toys in a new manner,...just to see that sunshine smile of his,....kinda like why we chose Chinese food for his birthday feast,...just something fun,...for him to enjoy,..because even Rice Bandits need a little love and a LOT of rice. 

Until I post again,...may God bless and keep you!