Tuesday, May 27, 2008

For the speech therapists out there, my dog had a swallowing problem

I had just dozed off to sleep last night when I was awakened by Java, my lab. She was perched on her bed, on a trunk, at the foot of our bed. The sound of her repeatedly licking her paws was keeping me awake. Finally, I turned on the light and instead I found she was licking her lips and then trying to swallow. Over and over.

I confidently thought to myself, "Hey! I should be able to take care of this!"
I clicked my brain back to my old days of dysphagia (swallowing) treatment at Stanford Hospital and began to work through an assessment and treatment plan.

1. Complete an oral mechanism exam. Check for foreign body or mass near the back of tongue that might be stimulating some sort of gag or swallow response. With repeated grasping of her slimy jaws, heaving them open and thrusting my hand to the back of her throat, I discovered-nothing. As she perked her ears and licked my hand, I judged her oral-facial symmetry to be wnl's.

2. Perhaps what is triggering this behavior is lower in her pharynx! Off we went to the kitchen where I gave her a dog biscuit to serve as a solid bolus swallow to clear any residue in the pharynx. There was much joy and celebration on her part at the presentation of the biscuit.
But, the irregular swallowing soon returned.

3. Okay. Next up. Outside to the water bowl where I encouraged her to drink. The plan here to present a thin liquid chaser or to begin a pattern of alternating liquids and solids. She obliged, drank and promptly drooled on my bare foot.
And yet, still the funny swallowing thing continued...

4. Mmmm. Like I would with a global aphasic, would I be able to nonverbally teach her a swallowing strategy? All she needed to do was to lap up a sip of water, put her head to her chest and then swallow so as to complete a chin tuck and hence clear the valleculae bilaterally. Or could she do a head turn to the right and effectively close off the right side of her pharynx, thus steering the bolus down the left side of her pharynx? That was a better option as it didn't involve me modelling lapping water out of the dog bowl.

%. After a bit I gave up on the idea of being able to teach her a strategy. I began to look up Maria Larrenaga's number to schedule a modified barium swallow when I noticed the odd repeated swallowing behavior had stopped!
No more. It was gone.

Good news for Java. Even though Maria is an angel, that barium tastes like shit-even when it's on top of a dog biscuit.

15 min of fame

Well, okay, less then 15 min.
This is link to NPR recording of a portion of Can I Sit With You? reading in Seattle. In all my glory, I was chosen, and can be heard, briefly reading about the ravages of puberty.


Monday, May 26, 2008

The General

My father-in-law. I call him the General.
We were over at his house today. He denied that Aj has difficulties. Later he had Ki set the table and had her do the dishes, because that is "what girls do".

Atleast he has high expectations for Aj. I think/hope Ki will come to realize how archaic and idiotic his views are. She certainly has no difficulty speaking her mind.

For now I just stay quiet, to maintain the family peace. ...mmmm....

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Your child has Asperger's if...

I pulled this from a website for products for kids with ASD. It may seem a bit black in its humor-but hey that is how we parents survive.

1. Then you marvel how he can actually do this and make sense!
Your child is fascinated that your skin can actually crawl and he lightly touches your bare arm to witness this incredible event.
You ask your son if he's ready to go to the Park and he doesn't answer right away because he's thinking about the last time he was in the park when he saw a toy car, which reminds him of the Toy Store, which reminds him that the Toy Store also sells dinosaur figures, which reminds him of a museum he went to 6 years ago, which reminds him......
Your child thinks there's nothing more fun than reading about the mechanics of a fan, unless of course he's explaining it to someone.
He simply does not see the point in making a car race down a ramp when you can turn it upside down and watch the wheels spin in unison.
He finds the word "ripple" hilarious, "dabble" bothers his ears and he firmly believes the word "tip-top" should be "top-tip"
You're late and you ask your child to please hurry and find his shoes. He finds them but doesn't put them on because you forgot to mention that part.
You ask your child which book he borrowed from the school library this week. He replies and then proceeds to tell you the name of every book and its author that he's borrowed from the library the entire year - in the order he borrowed them!
You know facts about things like the Homo erectus species who lived in bamboo forests with huge primates called Gigantopithecus and that the very first Europeans were called called Homo heidelbergensis.
Not only do you know these things but your child makes sure you never forget by explaining this era to you in detail, every moment he can.
His uncle explains that it was just a figure of speech when he said "My head is about to explode" and your child is devastated because he wanted to see what that would look like.
You'll never be silly enough to ask your child if you look fat because you know you'll get the truth.
You assume your six year old is mumbling to himself but on closer listening, you realize that he is actually reciting the Gettysburg Address.
You have no idea how your 6 year old even knows about the Gettysburg Address and where he could have possibly learned it.
Your child appears deep in thought when for no apparent reason, he suddenly bursts into laughter. He looks around surprised that no one else found his thought funny.

By JenÄ“ Aviram This article is property of and copyright © 2003-2007 Jene Aviram of Natural Learning Concepts. Reference of this article may only be included in your documentation provided that reference is made to the owner - Jene Aviram and a reference to this site http://www.nlconcepts.com


I am trying to figure it out.
Okay-I have to say that has some kind of weird sexual connotation. I'm not going any further with that odd thought.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Martin tried to kiss me

That was what Ki told me.
But evidently she stepped backward so as to avoid the leaning lips.
"He said he loved me too. But he is just my friend. I don't want to do that kissing thing-it's gross. Tomorrow I am going to sit in a tight space so he can't reach me."

Martin is the quirky boy in her class whom she plays with pretty much daily at recess. They are buddies. Of course my girl is buddies with the kid who is "most likely to earn an ASD diagnosis." She goes for what she knows.
This guy is smart and creative and they have fun together-so in this regard it is good.

Sticker Charts

Today Ki was again telling me that some kids in her class have sticker charts. I have seen the charts taped on a few desks. I believe they have been there a majority of the year.
I posed the question to her.
"Why do some kids have sticker charts?"
"Well, they are the bad students. They are supposed to be working so they can be good students and not be bad students anymore."
I further queried, "Who has a sticker chart?"
She reeled off the names of the 4 or 5 "bad kids".
I've been around some of these kids. I've heard teachers say, "She knows the rules but she just didn't follow them today."
My educated guess is that the majority of these kids will earn little acronyms at some point in time. You know, ADD, ADHD, LD, ASD etc.
They are not "bad kids".
No kid starts their day out and thinks to themselves, "Today I am going to do everything I can think of to disrupt the class, be rude, not complete my work and bother my classmates. Because when I do those things I end up with consequences that make me feel really good about myself and make others like me. I do not want to have a day at school where the teacher, my parents or myself think, "What a great day!'"

Of course, I have no idea what conversations have taken place between teachers and parents. I hope parents are gently being educated that their child may need some extra help.

But in the mean time they are being socially stigmatized by the educators. Now I know the kids figure out who has "issues" anyway. I know of one teacher who gave all the kids a chart on their desk. While this could also potentially be a public display-it is not nearly so blatant to the other kids.

This bugs me. And my kid is a "typical", solid and very well mannered student. I believe I am sensitive to this because of Aj.

So, thoughts anyone? Send an email to the teacher? Have a private conversation after school? Let it go?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Pops bday update

8 am pops opens his puzzle gift and puts together. Kids love it.
9 am Pops drives Aj to his game. Ki, Granny and I go to Wholee Foods and buy coffee and pastries for all and take to the game.
930 am Aj gets up and strikes out, again-but he holds it together. He and Pops have been practicing, but it is consistently coming together.
10 am Aj gets up and WACKS THE CRAP OUT OF THE BALL. It goes all the way onto the grass and is a single, but was worthy of a double or triple. Later he gets to cross home plate and count as a run for his team. He walks up to Pops and says, "Dad, that was your birthday hit!". Pops, was so touched he was speechless and had to step away to keep his emotions in check.
11 am over to Ki's game she has a couple good hits of the T and enjoys herself.
12;30 home for a quick lunch
1:15 pm I take kids to a block party birthday party where they ride scooters, bikes and play with water balloons and eat cotton candy and popcorn from the rented machines. I give Pops a reprieve to hang out at home on his bday.
4 pm home again. a nice nap for me.
6 ish we pack up kids, including a moaning Aj and head to jennyalice house. He reportedly turns out to be fine. Jennyalice and Decartes rock. They give the kids pizza, watch movies, read books and play. Kids are in heaven.
7 pm Pops and I sit down to dinner at Il fornioa. Yummy food-waitress makes an error with or entree order and comps us an extra dessert. Pops and I actually get to have an extended grown up conversation.
A brief walk around downtown PA
10 pm we arrive at watercourse way for our 1 1/2 hour stay in One Pine room. It has a jacuzzi, shower, sauna and cold plunge. So beautiful and peaceful.
12ish home with that warm and relaxed feeling. Go to bed with no kids sleeping in our room. we do still, however ave 2 labs and a cat join us.
6:15 am Aj and then Ki are up, and so is Jennyalice. On mothers day she is up at dawn watching MY kids! She evidently whipped out a pound of bacon and some other yummy breakfast items. Pops went and picked up kids and took them to store to buy food to come home and make Mothers day breakfast. He left me sleeping in bed while he drove around town.
9 am I am up and BG and I eat our great breakfast of omelet, hash browns and toast. I read the paper and check the blogs of buddies.
1022am what a nice weekend!!! Troops are restless/Time to decide if we are going on a picnic or to the zoo or something else.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Pops B-day

Pops birthday is tomarrow.
And get this - Pops and I are going out. Yep. The 2 of us alone. That NEVER happens. Having Granny here makes using a babysitter very complicated. We use to have the kids stay with her. But there have been episodes of Aj getting out of control with yelling and even once kicking her. Granny, of course doessn't really remember these events, and Aj may recall but doesn't really care. BUT Ki remembers and is appropriately distressed by the mayhem. But hos does one have a babysitter over when Granny thinks she s the babysitter?
Well, we were able to do it the other night! One of the kids I see for speech has a Nanny who is likly about 30. She has been in our home and spent some time with both my Mom and kids and knows the whole wacky family. So I had her come over and stay. And it seems to have gone well and she said she would do it again! I did pay her, but my house is far from a typical babysitting/nanny job.

Soo tomarrow for Pops bday jennyalice and Decartes, her husband, are taking my kids in the early evening...and then ALL NIGHT. They have a daughter Lucy, who is nearly
2. Aj loves her, because she is a toddler. He and Ki also adore jennyalice and Decartes and they are wonderful with both kids.
Thier son Jake is 7 and has autism. The difficulty lies in Aj's fear/dislike of kids who have autism. Yes, you read that correctly. In the past I thought by supplying that label and descriptions of how some of our friend's kids were still learning to play and talk that it would help my kids understand the behaviors of my friend's kids. NOT. For Ki it made her a bit cautious and concerned. I think because in the past most of these boys have expressed thier interest in wanting to play and engage with her by wacking her. Understandable, she is cute.
My attempts to educate backfired with Aj. Of course the irony is that he does not see himself as different. One blessing here is that I have reluctantly shared this issue with a few of my Mama friends that have kids with ASD and they have seen the irony and some have gotten a laugh out of it. Which is good. Better then them wanting to give him a kick in the behind.
I think it might be that the behaviors of my buddies boys who have ASD can seem unpredictable and unexpected in Aj's eyes, which they are (and so are his, but of course he lacks this perspective). So for Aj who has PDD-NOS and wants the world to be structured, predictable and rule bound this is seen as distressing. Or that's my take on it. When I am feeling resonable. Otherwise I sometimes want to grab him and shake sense into him.
So back to date night. I do have serious concerns that Aj will say some horrid things about Jake in front of him and to his parents. Not good.
I'll have to talk with jennyalice more in the am and further remind and prepare her.
On a better note. The date night plans include:
perhaps a nap after dropping kids off-or time to go shopping for house stuff
dinner 7 pm at Il Fornaio in Palo Alto, time to walk around down town and then over to Watercourse Way at 9:50 to enjoy a hot tub and suana for the 2 of us for 1 1/2 hours. For his gift I bought 4 tickets to go see Hairspray for a Sunday matinee at the Orpheum theater in SF. Kids are excited by this gift as we rented the movie previously. Today I had them listen to and watch clips that are on the web page. On a large piece of paper, Ki and I drew a pic of the logo from HAirspray, wrote out hairspray and the date and time of the performance and she drew a pic of the 4 of us. I then cut it up like a puzzle and put the pieces in 2 different envelopes the kids had decorated. So Pops can put the puzzle together to reveal his gift! We also boughrt him strawberry plants at the nursery.
Updates later!

Mother and Son Dodge Ball Night

Tonight was the Mother and Son Dodge Ball Night at Aj's school.
Ki was of course very disappointed that this did not include daughters, as the Father and Daughter dance was not to her liking and she did not attend.

Aj has been excited all week. Tonight when it was time to go he held my hand and walked me out to the car. We got there and the event was held in MUB, or gym. Lots of lights, loud noise and sugary soda and sweets. It was then that it occurred to me that this could be a real nightmare. Instead of flying under the radar and kinda blending in-he could totally expose himself as a "weird kid" to a very large audience. If he got frustrated by the game and had a screaming, crying, angry raging fit inside the gym-it would be ugly.
The games had kids and Moms divided by grades. Then teams were randomly divided with boys and their Mom's on the same team. In the first 2 games Aj immediately charged to the front to get a ball and was quickly tagged out. He wandered outside, but in general he kept it together and there was no raging, just some encouraging on my part. I, however, remembered my grade-school strategy of staying in the far back of the court-so both of the games I was one of the last 2 or 3 people left. I then took Aj aside and asked him if he wanted to know my secret for staying in the game a long time. I shared it with him and the third game was much more fun for him. The last game was sons against Mom's. The look of attack on the those little boys faces was quite daunting. I got out quickly in the game when some ball flew in and bounced off my shoulder. Drat! Aj got out just after me. As we walked to the car he had some tears of frustration, but he pulled it together before we got to the car. I was proud of him. We both had a really good time.
Note: Cost was $25.00 per Mother/son couple and included pizza, salad (donated by some families), drinks, and dessert (also donated by some families). Each "couple" got a goody bag, lollipop and candy for the boys and a single rose for the Mom (Mother's Day is in 2 days). Good fund raiser for the school.

My 15 minutes of fame

Okay, my 1 min and 30 sec of fame. Earlier this week there was a reading from the book Can I Sit with You at Angelica's Bistro.
My brief fame was recorded and is on youtube at:


Thanks to Suiq for recording and posting.