Me and my kiddo

Me and my kiddo

Friday, March 26, 2010

I should. I could. I want.

I wanted to share this article which spurred some thought for me.

This is the key excerpt:

"I recently heard someone talk about changing our "I shoulds" to "I coulds." That really resonated with me on a personal and professional level, as it seems so easy to get caught in the trap of stressing about everything I "should" do. When we think of things in terms of "I should," we exist in a pressured state of feeling forced to do something. Thinking about what I "could" do shifts us into a mindset of choice—I am deciding in this moment whether to do this thing. It not only sounds different, but it feels different to phrase options from the perspective of "I could" instead of "I should." There is an internal mindset shift that occurs when we do this; and it allows us to move forward with trying to do the things we could, instead of getting stuck in the mode of pressuring ourselves to do what we should."

I saved this article and thought I might use it as a the basis for a post or further thought.  The idea resonated, but something didn't seem quite right.  I thought, the "shoulds" (moral choices)  which are reality based are clearly "coulds" i.e. there's no action that you should do that you couldn't do.  

Last week, I was listening to Dr. Ellen Kenner's podcast and she mentioned that people should treat themselves kindly.  When they want to change something, they should tell themselves that a certain action is what they "want" to do instead of what they "should" do.  It reminded me of the previous article and how much more powerful it is to replace "should" with "want" in our thinking (instead of "could").  The whole focus becomes one of re-inforcing that the choice of actions is based on evaluating the full context and doing what we want to do, all things considered.  (  Not only does this framing of actions skip the common impression of forced action (should), it also skips the maybe aspect of vacillating action (could).  There's no doubt that there can be an overwhelming number of choices and many unpleasant times, but it's empowering and self-nurturing to approach the myraid of choices in this way.  That's how we can gain a positive focus on life's joys (like I mentioned last week).  Parenting and other life choices are about what you want to do considering all the aspects of your life. 

Parcheesi Play

I can't believe my kindergardener has become an avid Parcheesi player!  We also finished reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets together and he was enchanted with describing the whole wizarding  world to Daddy who played a good listener by being shocked at all the right times :)

Other things to share:
This week's Objectivist Roundup
Cute antic:

He definitely picked a variety for self-coloring!  He was gleeful to show me the art and especially wanted to make sure that I noted the orange toe nails!

and... I made such a pretty cake with my baking buddy that I'm posting the picture... those are homemade marshmallows on top!

Oh well, while I'm sharing pictures, I'm just reveling in the sparkly beauty of my amaryllis too!
I still haven't been able to catch the way the light glitters in the different cells of the petals, but it's really delightful.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Young Love

A nostalgic moment, Cameron's first sleepover!   While the grown ups chatted, it took the kids four hours of playing before they got tired enough to sleep (wound up needing separate rooms).    They were back to making mud nests, playing hide and seek, and spreading mayhem the next day.  I'm afraid Cameron even showed her his trick of climbing on top of cars!  

Other things to share:
This week's Objectivist Round Up 
Cute antics:
• putting all the glass marbles from a display into the pillow case (around the pillow) in our guest bed room. (Not sure what prompted that, but I'm glad I caught it before the guests arrived and started raining marbles in their sleep!)
• supporting his statement that Kindergarden was too easy with an exasperated, "He teached me what an esophagus is.  Too boring!"
• maintaining that he was born and then two minutes later he was four years old.   (My memory recalls a rather extensive interim there, but his doesn't!)
... and one from the Kindergarden helper that she emailed me!
• Thanks for sharing Cameron's delightly imagination and his anwer to a question I used to wonder about - why have kids?!  I've been wanting to share with you my favorite thing he says quite often:
When is very busy doing something and is asked if someone can join him or use something or any kind of sharing, it takes him a moment to break his concentration to answer but then almost always says in a sort of welcoming drawl, "Shore!" meaning sure.  It cracks me up the way he says it!  

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tool: Capturing the Precious Times

The parenting experience offers so many precious moments and, yet, it is so intensive, it is shockingly easy to forget them!  The joys are the important part.  Focusing on the joys is part of focusing on gaining  happiness, instead of getting mired in the challenges or routines or just avoiding negatives.  So, I'm talking about capturing the fun.  I don't need to remember every bathroom disaster and shrieking tantrum, but I do want to remember every time my eyes sparkled with laughter or my heart glowed with affection.  It's cliche, but it's true; they grow so fast.  These are some tools which I've found helpful in capturing those precious times worth cherishing.

Baby books, pictures, regular family / friend updates, all have their place depending on preferences, but one tool that I've found particularly interesting is a detailed, annual documenting of the routine.  It's amazing to me to look back at these and remember how normal and forever-feeling the routines were.  They were an essential, regular part of life and I've often forgotten them completely.

Here are a couple fun excepts:

Three year old Routine: 1 pm Begin nap routine (in bed by 2 pm).  Read three downstairs books while Cameron drinks a glass of milk.  Let him pick two little cars to bring upstairs.  Read three upstairs books.  Pull Cameron by one foot (chuga chugaa choo choo) to his room and roll him over to reach the blue crib.  Put on a clean diaper and pajamas.  Turn on the fan.  Rock while singing "Baby Mine" with Cameron filling in words.  Carry Cameron to the crib, count "1,2,3" and drop him onto the mattress.  Pick him up for one more "outside kiss". Hold "Grammy's Tigger" music animal so he can play with it gently, twice.  Give him one kiss in the crib.  Make kissing sounds while leaving and walking down the stairs.

Five year old Routine: 6:27pm Cameron turns off the light and I start singing "Baby Mine" while he gets in his bed.  Then he picks where he gets his kisses (up to ten).  Then I pick where I get my kisses.  He especially likes to kiss each finger and see me wiggle my fingers saying "happy fingers" and then kiss all the way up to the shoulder of each arm and see me waving my arms, saying "happy arms" too.  Then he asks what I'm going to do downstairs and I give an abbreviated version and he counts how many things.  For example, I'll say, "I'm going to read, make dinner, and go to sleep."  Then he'll tell me to have fun with my three things and I always tell him to have fun with his two things "good rest and sweet dreams".   I wind my horse music box and sometimes the "Spoonful of Sugar" music box works too.  He loves it if they're both going.  In bed by 6:30pm.

The other idea I wanted to share is finding a method that works for recording endearing moments regularly.  I write a weekly update and include a section called "cute antics".  The tag for "cute antics" on the side bar includes antics form the few months I've done this blog.  However, I have recorded them in my weekly updates since his birth and that means those memories will always be there for me and my husband and, eventually, my son.  They're also a way to bring family close and let them share in the delights of his growth.  I would not have believed how easy it is to forget  The Little Things (as a friend notes in her aptly named blog).  Here are just a sampling of the older ones that I enjoyed remembering as I randomly scanned old updates for writing this post:  
(Born 10/10/2003)
• developing a seesaw routine. He gets his bottom way up in the air... falls over.  He gets his head and chest way up in the air... falls over.  He gets full credit for effort as he lifts one end and then the other, but simply can’t manage to get both up at the same time.   I know... as soon as he does, he’ll be crawling away from me so fast that I’ll wish he was still stationary.  

• yelling “red, green, red, green” as we moved along the metered on-ramp
• handing me the phone book and saying, “Read it.”
• yelling “Boob. Boob. Boob. Big Boob!”  (I know that sounds odd, but what really happened was he saw his large bib!  We brought it out to keep his clothes clean for the hair-cut-photos.  He hadn’t seen it in a long time though, and he clearly forgot how to say “bib” correctly.)
• abbreviating matters by responding to getting something with, “Thank you welcome.”
• deciding a little strip of toast was so precious that he held it tightly through half his bath.  It was rather amusing watching it float soggily for twenty minutes with Cameron firmly stating he was not “all done”. (He finally let me throw it out after it broke in two.)
• "progressing" from real sneezes to pretend sneezes to declaring, "Ah, ah, ah... Sneeze!"
• throwing his body into the couch with full sound effects while yelling "Crash!"
and one more of his whacky "opposites" that was just too bizarre to pass up...
• "Daddy in black car, not in meat-loaf."  (Um, ya?!?!  He developed a taste for meat-loaf last week, but I can't even guess where this connection came from.)
• developing an amusing fondness for yelling, "Bingo" whenever completing a task.
• walking with a literal spring in his step (He clearly really likes his developing jumping skills.) 

• "Both!" Cameron gets to pick which hand I hold when we're walking together.  I was a little surprised by this request, but both hands it was.   I'm sure you can picture us sidling sideways along the city streets.  He was all giggles at his brilliance and ya, I was smiling too.
• responding to being called a silly goose with yelling "I'm not a goose!" Then commenting knowingly, "Gooses don't watch movies." 
• clearly demonstrating his lack of understanding of the concept "favorite".  When one of his toys asked "What's your favorite food?"  He answered, "Broccoli!" 
• responding to an invitation to make a snowman with, "No, lets make snow soup!" 

• responding immediately to me yawning and asking if was time to go to sleep by bolting into his bedroom where I found him a few minutes later hyperventilating with highly energetic pretend snoring.
•and a story:
He was running into the closet and I asked him where he was going.  "To the airport!" came the excited reply as he closed the door.  I smiled and was about to ask him about the trip when he opened the door, rolling the small luggage behind him, walked across the bedroom, and, as he closed the bedroom door announced, "I'll see you tomorrow."
• responding to my observation that my hands were cold by gently taking my hands, humming "Sleeping Beauty", and starting a little dance :)  (There's another fairy-tale moment, a kitchen waltz to "I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream.")
• telling a classmate loudly to play with a toy in a different way and when the boy asked if Cameron was mad at him, Cameron answered, "No!  I just pretend sometimes."

• seeing the screen credit for "Barbara Streisand" when we first watched "Hello Dolly" and asking excitedly, "Is it in Santa Barbara?"  (Just a little mis-read :) )

• Suggesting I take a tuba on hikes so he can hear me
• "Lets take over the world?"
I asked, "Why?"
"So I can tell everyone what to do."
I pointed out, "That would take lots of time when you wouldn't be doing fun things yourself."
[Processing pause.]  "Then I wouldn't."
(Can you tell he's been watching Daddy's Animaniacs cartoons?  He's not quite as devoted as The Brain in the cartoon whose prime goal in each episode is to take over the world.)

So, there's a smattering of fun memories that I hadn't thought of in years and many of which I'd forgotten.  Aside from whatever methods you've picked for recording, I hope you find it useful to add the ideas of capturing both a detailed annual routine and regular cute antics.  I've loved the joy these records have provided me so far and I'm glad I'll have a way to allow those memories to stay close.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Thyroid Latest: Reverse T3

My main purpose with this blog remains to share my passion for parenting and I think that's the main interest of my readers too.  I've been meticulous about keeping tags current, so please feel free to click "rational parenting" on the right if you're not interested in these other updates.  Since I have benefited from friends who have shared their thyroid story though,  I'll continue to post the occasional update regarding this issue and I've created a "thyroid" tag  to make these posts easy to locate, for those interested.  So... on with the thyroid latest!

I'm still giving myself another month of Iodine to see if that makes any further difference, but my doctor wanted to test some autoimmune issues so I thought I'd take advantage of finding out if I had any reverse T3 concerns (RT3).

Sigh, that would be a resounding, "Yes!"  So, that basically means that when my iron and iodine levels are both normal, I won't be taking desiccated thyroid because my body would convert the T4 component into the inactive RT3 (which proceeds to fill up the receptor sites) leaving me with the same thyroid issues.  Instead, I'll be taking just T3 which, with time, should allow my body to clear all this excess RT3.  The cortisol labs did come back normal and I'm not stressed (other intervening factors), so once my iron level is up, I don't see any reason why I shouldn't be able to: take the meds, clear the RT3, and get this issue addressed!

On a side note, I was interested to read a friend's recent post about thyroid labs and their questionable predictive value.   My free T3 six weeks ago, before I started Iodine (when I was feeling like this) was 2.3 pg/ml (2.3-4.2).  Now, when my sleep is so much better and I've been feeling ill less frequently it's 2.1pg/ml (that is, it's dropped even lower i.e. I'm more hypothyoid).  I'm not sure what the precision of the test is so that could be within the margin of error, but it's certainly not indicative of how I'm feeling. Aside from fewer sleep symptoms and less ill days, my other issues haven't changed.  I'm gathering a temperature log again and I'm just as chilly (97.3-97.4 basal temps in the morning).

Finally, I'll be seeing a rheumatoligist whom I was impressed with in the past to review my auto-immune labs.  I am also seeking that second, endocrine opinion I mentioned from a naturopath who was recommended as having extensive experience with desiccated thyroid.  But, I'm cautious about any advice that has a wobbly science base.  So... more research, learning, and patience for now.  I'll get there!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Kindergarden Ducklings

Skipping with seventy kindergardeners... fun!  Well, fun and exhausting :)  I volunteered at Cameron's 100th Day of PE celebration and got to run the skip-to-the-center station.  Of course, I had to demonstrate for each of the ten groups.  Once, I forgot to tell the kids I was demonstrating and I had ten kids skipping after me which must have looked hysterical from the side!  

Other things to share:
Fighting the Amazon Tax 
An awesome resource for Paleo Principles. I really, really, really love the +/- links to support articles!
A fun, brief radio clip/article on NYC art.  I especially love this bit: " I think we've forgotten that art can hit you so hard that you forget to breath... I think that art is a combination of a fuel supply and a compass. Because if you find a piece that really appeals to you, it can remind you of what you want to be, or where you want to go. And at the same time, it gives you the energy to get there, because you can see that it’s something that can be achieved."  I just may buy her book before I visit next time!

Cute antics:

• asking five or six times a day if I like apricots.  (I have no clue why or where the interest came from, but he always asks with a delighted yell, "Mommy!  Do you like apricots?!?!?")

• continuing his, um, creative use of idioms, he didn't quite get "break your heart" and instead said something would, "Pump your heart out."

• yelling, "Privacy, Dad!" and swinging the bathroom door shut when Andrew was inside.  (Oh, the irony!  Especially after I just wrote this post on being naked around kids: !!)

• searching out creative beds, we found him trying to sleep on a closet shelf.

• startling me with the declaration, "You're as good as Barishnikov!"  (??? That was not quite what I was expecting to hear as we pulled into the garage!  I did thank him, but mentioned I thought Barishnikov was probably better at ballet since he'd practiced for something like twenty years!?!)

• telling me that, next year, he'll be a first grade teacher for his imaginary students because he'll know enough.

• informing me that he is going to have kids so they can crawl under things for him because they're smaller.  (He can crawl under his trampoline when we're cleaning and, naturally, that's a clear reason for having kids.)

• washing my flashlight as a "bathtub experiment". (Sigh.  I almost wasn't up for including that in this update.)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Only my son would start breakfast with...

"Call me Cordelia!"

Oh, we were in fits of giggles!  This is what comes from reading him Anne of Green Gables.  (He wasn't willing to tell me if he, like Anne, thought "Cordelia" was a perfectly elegant name.)  Parenting... a cure for even thinking morning-coffee-time is safe from guffaws!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Autism Follow Up, Sensory Integration Dysfunction

Wow, thank you for all the feedback I'm getting on yesterday's autism post. The comments are fascinating for me to read and respond to as this issue has become so part-of-the-normal for me.  

With his permission, I'm posting a question and my response. I'm really trying to keep track of what I'm writing and thinking in one place and I think the responses are often useful.

Kevin McAllister wrote:  
Thank you very much for this account. It's actually a great coincidence and very helpful to me, I was going to email you last week privately to ask about some of this experience because my youngest daughter (Ashley 3.5) has exhibited a very few of the obvious signs of autism. She really likes sitting and rocking and banging her back and head against the love-seat for comfort, or can get into a rhythm repeating a phrase over and over, is generally independent, very shy, and can reach ballistic levels when routine is changed. But based on your account, we're not even in the same neighborhood, Ashley is very engaged with her older sister and also with us. Do you have any other recommended resources on sensory seeking issues? Also I'll agree with Burgess, the work you've done is amazing!  
Thank you, 

Dear Kevin,  

Thanks also for your warm words. I think the best book for learning about sensory integration issues is: The Out-of-Sync Child (I've often heard it referred to as the bible for Sensory Processing Disorder / Sensory Integration Dysfunction. The terminology is not settled.)  The tools described are powerful and valuable for any kid.   Every kid is learning to integrate their sensory data and will have preferences, often strong ones! When it goes beyond the normal and starts impairing their ability to interact with the world, then this could be the medical label (i.e. time to get a doctor's advice).  

The issue with this disorder is that instead of receiving "normal" neural feedback and modifying a response appropriately, there is a dysfunction. The child either over experiences or under experiences. Those who over experience the neural, sensory feedback usually have aversion issues. A dog barks and they'll cower under the table covering their ears (auditory). They walk into a movie theatre and start gagging violently because of the smell of popcorn (olfactory). They get a light hug and shriek in pain or have a complete melt down because the tag in their shirt scratches them (tactile). The issue can be with any sense, even taste, but the key is that the sense experienced isn't modified normally and they thus physically experience it as a severe stimulus. Then, there are those who under experience. Their brain isn't getting the full neural feedback from the sensory experience; it's muted. So, they will fling their body into you and squeeze with every ounce of their strength for what feels to them like a normal hug (tactile). Their speech volume can make your ears bleed but it sounds normal to them (auditory). They'll stuff their nose in a pile of fresh chopped onions (olfactory). They'll lick bathroom counters or relish spices that would normally be painful (taste). The key is, again, that the signals aren't getting through correctly, there is a dysfunction in the sensory processing or integration. Finally, it's not either or. Kids can have a mixture of sensory aversions and sensory seeking behaviors as different senses are processed differently. Their difficulties are also on a continuum of mild to severe.

There are standardized sensory profile tests that can really help give a more comprehensive picture. The most useful ones I've found ask the same 100 or so questions of both the parent and teacher/therapist. They can help hone in on if there's an issue and, if so, precisely where in the processing continuum. Most of the autism specialists that I have encountered, also have a basic understanding of sensory challenges and can assist with getting some basic testing.

Early intervention gets the gold medal in treatment for these issues. As far as effectiveness goes, the earlier the better. We know how those little brains are morphing and changing and the sooner we can help them the better. So, I'd say Ashley might enjoy a lovely visit with an occupational therapist or other professional who can evaluate the full picture. They might give you a few tools for a sensory diet like in The Out-of-Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Processing Disorder . They might say she could benefit from occupational or speech therapy. Just to clarify, once the unease about a new situation wears off, these therapies are highly pleasant outings for kids where they get to play games, create projects, and bond with a professional who is carefully honing in on teaching self modulation or other skills. Not that it bothers me, but if I'd understood what was going on, I would have started at least six months earlier. I could have saved my son several months of stress with being so out-of-sync in his Montessori preschool. Ashley's rocking, head banging, perseverative behavior, and routine adherence could just be part of her learning, but it's worth being sure since early intervention is so precious.

Warm regards,


Harry Potter Glee

I started reading Harry Potter to Cameron and he's absolutely loving it!  I'm doing the same thing that I did with Anne of Green Gables.
- If there's a really long descriptive passage, I abbreviate.
- We write down "What we Know" and "?s we have" every few paragraphs. (Technique Link)
- We watch the scenes from the movie after we've read them first.
- We discuss... a lot.  Have I mentioned how much Cameron loves to process verbally!

Other things to share:

This week's Objectivist Round Up:

A comercial that Andrew was playing on youtube which just had me laughing and shaking my head with bewilderment at the same time:

My latest post was inspired by a question, so if you'd like to make topic suggestions, this could be a nice format:
I don't mind questions though and I might do a post on question answers if there's enough interest!

Cute antics:
• clearly eavesdropping on our evening, downstairs conversation because when I was teasing Andrew about forgetting to make a school lunch and Andrew answered, "So, he won't have lunch.",  we heard an adamant voice from upstairs, "I want lunch!"

• describing a Harry Potter scene to Andrew, he asked me, "What's the other kind of cobra?"
(Um, that would be a Boa constrictor.)

• complimenting me on being a "good watcher" when he's doing legos.  He doesn't need much help (I'm usually listening to a book, while I observe.)  But, catching a misplacement early makes a big difference in these kits with hundreds of pieces.  The full line was, "I'm a good builder.  You're a good watcher."   Touching.  So, touching.

• discussing school yesterday, "I don't want the easiness to last forever."  (He has a separate desk for when the classroom activities are too easy for him and he just informed me that the activities there had become too easy as well.  We went through workbooks at home, so he's set with something more challenging for tomorrow!)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Autism Experience

Two year old kid.  Side by side play.  Extreme adherence to routine.  Normal.  The concern really peaked when my son was exactly the same at three.  Those interactive skills which are usually exploding as children grow, were simply not there.

He would not look children in they eye or speak to them; he clearly saw them as completely different beings from adults.  Even adults were not seen as people with feelings, they were concretes as well.  For example, walking into his preschool classroom, I could greet a typical peer, "Hi Polly."  The response was usually a smile, eye contact, and often something to engage like, "Hello.  I had a birthday party yesterday and got lots of presents.  Isn't that great?!?"  Now, it's very normal for some kids to be more or less shy.  However, my son would never interact this way, not even with comfortable adults.  He would describe things in factual terms or seek sensory input, but not engagement.  For example, his response to any greeting  was occasionally a glance, but often nothing.  He wouldn't bring a toy for evaluation, but if you asked him about it, he would tell you about it being white and made out of metal and having wheels and... the concrete description could go on and on.  While it takes a long time for children to smoothly think about what another person is feeling, they usually have a keen grasp on reading emotional responses i.e. they know that a person is sad and can feel the response *.

Two year olds love their routines, but he wasn't gaining more perspective with time / experience.  He saw routines as the essence of his world.  For example, I needed to park my car outside the garage.  For one week, I dealt with a solid thirty minutes of ballistic crying every time I came home because the car belonged in the garage.  It was in the nature of his universe.  It was as frightening and upsetting to him as it would be for us to wake up to a purple and green polka-dot sky.  Cars in the garage were part of the metaphysically given and that's one example of hundreds.

His language was a grab bag of scripts that meant a concrete whole to him.  He would say, "You want to give me the milk" in the same way another kid would say "milk".  He didn't understand the pieces of language and took several years beyond his peers to get pronouns right (another big social issue if you approach peers and start telling them "You want water, toys, etc.").  He maintained a concrete understanding of the world.  He would spend hours watching how the wheels of a toy car rolled, but did not pretend until, again, several years beyond typical peers.  The idea of imagining that the car was on a road when it was on a table made no sense at all to him.  If  you made vroom vroom sounds and rolled it around, he'd look at you like you were crazy.

Finally, there were huge sensory seeking issues.  He would fling his body into people, need brushing therapy to get enough skin stimulation, have loud, shrieking verbalizations (auditory self stimulating), all sorts of behaviors that made people wary of getting close.  This situation was heartbreaking.  So, what changed?

Readers of my blog know this is not the child I deal with now.  There are plenty of six year old, autistic children with the exact same issues that my son was showing at age three.   Special needs preschool, speech therapy, and occupational therapy all helped, but there was a fundamental change that significantly altered his course.  He developed hyperlexia.  Part of his scripted language had been the ability to memorize forty page books which he would recite to himself in bed each evening.  He showed an early affinity for letters and reading.  He was reading basic books before age three and is currently reading chapter books at third grade level (he's in kindergarden).  This was the key for turning his world around.  

He took the experiences from the books, the hundreds of books, and made them his own.  He learned about people, feelings, imagination, language.  He filled in the huge gap in language that was below his extensively scripted communications and learned how to use pronouns correctly (after all, that was the way it was done in the books).  He learned how people can feel different things when interacting and how he could observe expressions, body language, and tone of voice to understand.  He gradually incorporated pretend play.  First, it was just repeating a book.  Then, he would put together two scenes from different books.  Slowly, he started adding his own ideas to the pretend.  Now, he has thousands of pretend, invisible students in his room that he teaches each evening.  Now, I can write a social story that goes through what will happen in a new routine and he can read it, over and over.  Now, we can read books about personal space and he reads them on his own too.  I brought home one for 12 year olds that was done in comic book format and he sat down and read the 40 page book to himself, commenting to me on each page.

My son is still an incredibly sensory seeking kid.  We find lots of outlets for that exuberant energy.  He still has greater difficulty than typical with emotional storms, but it's been awhile since I dealt with a full melt down tantrum.  (The How to Talk book helped the most with me facilitating his growth there.)  He learns from the books and he practices.  He can use words, and the right words too, to express his feelings in a controlled, non-attacking manner.  He is highly cognitive and wants to discuss every idea, situation extensively.  We read and read and read some more.  He now spends at least an hour reading to himself in bed each night and comes down with more to discuss each day.  So, he doesn't usually say "hi" to people or understand perspective and he often gets too loud/close, but he is intelligent, affectionate, energetic, and, most dear to my heart, passionate about learning!  I have no doubt that, if he still wants it, he'll become the airplane engineer that he desires.

Reading to me when he was about three and half.  (He's always been a big kid.)

* Fascinating research on mirror neurons indicates autistic children don't experience what another person is experiencing the same way that a typical person does. This is one of the key ways that people learn in childhood and interact with others as they mature.  (I read the book of one of the key researchers, but here are some quick articles:

and a basic review of Autism Spectrum, 
the key is really that the diagnosis is so broad, it doesn't tell you much except that there are some social difficulties.  When I first heard the word applied to my son, I thought the doctors were crazy because, in my mind, autistic kids sat in the corner, rocking back and forth, not talking to you, completely secluded in their own world.  

This is one of the best overviews I've seen in a quick video.
Temple Grandin is famous for her work in sharing the unique experiences and the difficult process of learning to interact socially which is characteristic of autism.