Sunday, March 25, 2012

Conversations with Kelsey: revealing shades of gray

My Kelsey has most vehemently informed me that she does NOT want to go to ESY this year. Apparently, as the weather improves, like most kids her age, summer vacation is on her mind. Add her black and white reasoning, and UGH!

What is ESY? I promise, it's not torture.

It stands for Extended School Year, and is something that many kids with ASD are eligible for, via their IEP's. It translates ( for us) into an additional month of half-days ( morning to noon) of instruction during the summer. Teachers quiz their students post Winter holiday break ( do you love how PC I made that statement?) to see how much their student has retained. Students who lose skills qualify for ESY services. And it's fun, generally set up like day camp, with plenty of opportunities for fun and outside play.

Up until now, this was something that Kelsey looked forward to. Not so much anymore. She wants to go on vacation, play with friends at the pool, and take day trips to the beach.

"Mom, my friend Genivieve doesn't go to ESY! Why do I have to go?

"Because your teacher and I think it's a good idea."

"Well, I think it's a STUPID idea!"

I've leaned to pick my battles, (for the most part.). I know when my black and white thinker is on the warpath, it's not the time to try to reason with her.

Tonight, in the van on the way to pick up my husband from work, Kelsey wanted to talk incessantly about a music video...a conversation we've had over and over. She perseverates. To break this broken record cycle, I told her that that particular subject is over.

"We're going to talk about things that make us happy."

*crickets chirping*

"OK...I'll go first. Bunny rabbits make me happy. And kittens. And puppy kisses.
You see those pretty flowered trees over there? They make me happy."

"And singing."

"Yes, Kelsey."

"You know, Mommy, I want to be a kindergarten teacher with Genivieve when I grow up."

The moment I was waiting for...

"Kelsey did you know that teachers have to go to school for a long time to become good teacher?"


"Yes, really. And going to ESY helps you to be a better student, which would help you be a better teacher. What do think?"

"I guess..."

Friday, March 23, 2012


I was sick for most of the winter. Being a mom of four, with two on the spectrum, juggling schoolwork, freelance writing, and working on other writing projects, this was inconvenient, to say the least.

After two rounds of antibiotics, seeing an ENT specialist, a CAT scan, and bloodwork to rule out Mono and Epstein-Barr, I found myself on the receiving end of an upper endoscopy, and having a microchip stuck to my esophagus. For the next two days, I get to wear a wireless device that measures my ph levels, which will hopefully help my doctor figure out what to do with me.

My directions for the wireless system is that I have to press the appropriate button for the symptoms on the unit ( about the size of a beeper), write in the diary what times I eat or lay down, and keep the unit within three feet of me AT ALL TIMES.

If I don't, it will alarm.

It made me think of how this this technology can be used for kids with Autism.

My experience with my kids on the spectrum, is that they are FAST! I have literally turned my head for under ten seconds, and they were gone from sight. Our daughter's autistic support class has even implemented a specialized door system,effectively preventing elopement on their watch.

There simply is nothing scarier for a parent of a non-verbal child. They cannot tell someone their name, phone number, or parents' names. Non verbal kids in the spectrum cannot tell a police officer that they are lost. I have seen several stories in recent years about children with Autism Spectrum Disorders wandering off, in the middle of the night in the city, or out into swampy wildness for DAYS. Not all of these stories end with a happily ever after...

I wonder what others think about privacy issues, and even the process of insertion of a device that may make their children safer.

My chip...I don't feel it. It doesn't bother me. The only reason I know it is there, is because someone told me it is there, and I can see the ph numbers changing on the beeper like unit.

Would a cross-breed device, a "pet type chip" along with a gps wireless monitor (that alarms if your child wanders out of range) improve the quality (read:safety) for non verbal children (and even adults with ASD,or even Alzheimer's) benefit from such technology?