Adventures in Autistic Parenthood

Friday, April 30, 2010

Are We There Yet?:

This is when you should know you're in the wrong place
Every couple of years, for one reason or another, Beaver County Special Olympics has to change where the games are held. Which means that every couple of years David and I end up at last years venue. This year was no exception. For the last couple of years, the SO has been held at the Beaver Valley Area High School. This year... well, look at the picture on the left.

I started out the day very proud of myself. In the normal course of things Dude and I show up either just as the SO pledge is being read, or (what's more likely) a few minutes after. This year, determined to break an embarrassing tradition Dave and I got up 2 hours early, showered, dressed and hit the road with an hour to spare. (mostly because the Games had been delayed to start at 10:00). There had been appeals by the organizers for people to car pool, and not to show up early because of an event at the school that wouldn't let out until 9:30 thus causing the rescheduling. I was thinking that appeal was more than normally effective as Dave and I pulled up to BVHS because there was nobody there. We wandered around an empty park just south of the school until a very nice (but directionally challenged) lady in a minivan pulled up and told us we were at the wrong school. I should have known to give this woman limited credence as she was there because she had dropped her buddy-volunteer daughter at the same wrong school. But not being from the area, and desperate to get to the correct place, I tried (manfully?) to follow her directions.

Let me explain something. Pittsburghers give directions that are lost in time. I've looked for places all over the country and you get used to getting directions from local landmarks. I've gotten to places by turning when I see a certain cow. (true Kansas reference) But inevitably Pitt-directions are all about where things used to be. So since I had no idea where Westinghouse used to be (because it closed 10 years before I moved here) I was in for a long ride to nowhere. After a few minutes of frantic searching I found the road she suggested (oh, that's where Westinghouse was!) and raced off into the great unknown. She evidently forgot to mention the turn-off so , after a hail-mary left turn, we ended up two towns down the road from almost where I wanted to be. Which was much better than ending up in Ohio, which was where I was headed. A call to Raine at work (yet another reason to thank Gitche Manitou [Great Spirit] for Raine) got me the town, and after three back-and-forths through the mile long village I finally asked for directions from a very nice convenience store lady and, one turn and 4 minutes later we finally made it.

It's often amazed me that everyone at the Olympics knows Dave, but this time it was a lifesaver. We were 40 minutes late and wandering around aimlessly when Mrs. Yarosz snagged us out of a crowd of about 300. This amazing woman pulled Dave's tag (with his times and events) out from a small drawstring pouch, and pointed us in the right direction. Figuring that his first event (Long Jump) was bagged because we were now 45 minutes late for it, we proceeded to try to find his second event. We were halfway across the field when we heard Dave's (and my) name booming through the PA speakers telling us they were holding Dude's first event until we could get there! Talk about Superstar Treatment! (Pgh Penguins Max Talbot reference) Two of Dave's former Aides were running the event and waited the entire heat for him to get there and jump. After picking up Dave's Bronze Medal (glad they waited) we had just enough time to get over to the 50 meter run for his next event.

I didn't know how seriously Dave is starting to take this medal thing. If you look at the picture, you'll notice half way through that Dave is running neck and neck with another boy. What you can't notice is that he started out 5 feet or so further to his left at the beginning of the race. As the race proceeded Dave drifted slowly over to his right. The closer they got to the finish line, the closer he got to the other kid. 10 feet or so to go and Dave had 1/2 step on his opponent and threw out a right arm-bar in front of the kid's chest to keep it that way. 3 strides later, 2 feet or so from the finish line and Dave pushed off with his right arm to propel himself across the line. Then he ran through the timer's line to find the medal table. Actually circling around several times to look for me (or the kid's vengeful parents, I'm not sure) all the while there's this tall lanky high-school kid trying to track him down so he could give his name to the medal-ladies. The timer was chuckling as he caught up to Dave saying, "I guess whatever it takes to win, huh?" Now if this had been that other Olympics the 2nd place kid's country would be screaming protests, but Dude didn't care. He sat in his winner's chair (as I backed off so angry parents wouldn't know who I was), got his gold medal, and was ready to go on to the next event.

Now in last years SO segment I lamented how the lady that runs the Soft Ball Toss has her own very rigid ideas on how to run her event. Unfortunately she was in charge yet again. So not only did Dave and I have our first break between events, but the event itself started 30 minutes late. (again) Luckily for us Dave had the 3rd heat, it was full, and they were running 4 heats at a time. So once we got started we were done in 10 minutes and we could pick up his silver medal and concentrate on more important things: Going home to games and our traditional post-game Wendy's lunch. Once again we had met scads of people that wanted to talk to Dave, and several who would talk to me. Dude got his medals, and his Bacon-cheeseburgers, and I went home with jaws hurting from smiling so much. All in all another typical, crazy, wonderful time at the Special Olympics. God! I love this job!

PS. I also got the first non-goofy-faced posed picture of Dude. So bonus points for me.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

And Then There Was....

   The other Friday I recieved notice from my son that 5 whole school days had gone by without a frowny face in sight and because of our agreement a trip to GameStop was in order. Now this can make Fridays kind of interesting (insert loud) because even though he knows that we don't go to GS until Saturday or Sunday (depending on which is Shopping Day) he gets really excited. When Dave gets excited his habits tend to become more intense. He doesn't do any more talking (he couldn't and still be able to breathe) but what he says is even more obscure and at a higher volume and speed. So we spent an interesting 15 minutes or so at the bank in the grocery store. Me trying to deposit my check and slide into my weekend relaxation routine with Dude, babbling at ever increasing volume and speed.
    Normally when I tell him to quiet down there is a brief (5-10 second) pause depending on my facial expresion and tone of voice, and then a resumption of the unending flow of game and movie quotes at a slightly lower decible level. Not Friday. No matter what I said (insert threatened) or how I said it, (insert psychotic mime imitation) there was no break. There was no pause. There was no lessening of volume. We concluded our financial arraingements, grabbed a couple of things from the store, waited in the checkout and left without a reduction in the speed or volume of his vocalisations. I was oh so seriously tempted at that point to make him walk home. There were several reasons for this A: Because I didn't have a rack to tie him to the roof, and B: There's a pass-through from the trunk through the back seat that I'm almost certain he could fit through to make his way back into the passenger compartment or at least allow his voice unobstructed access to my ear canal. But too many people had seen him with me so I had to take him home in the car.

    As we drove up to the house (still at full volume) I was having one of those moments that all parents of young or special needs kids have occasionally. Just a profound state of weariness that strikes briefly from time to time. A full body sensation of 'Man is this tough'. I leaned against the center console and, in a worn out sort of voice, said, "David, you're a big pain in the butt sometimes, ya know?" My son, who had seemingly been bucking for a gag/straightjacket combo, leaned toward me, laid his hand consolingly on my forearm, and with a mischevious grin and a chuckle in his voice said, "Yeah, I know."

   I now know the true meaning of the phrase 'gob-smacked'. There was a long moment when my mind went totally blank. It was a scene out of almost any comedy movie. I stared at Dude. Then out the windshield. Then back at Dude. Shaking my head I stepped out of the car and then just started laughing. I was still laughing as I opened his door and walked him to the curb and into the house. If my life is a comedy (and it mostly is) it's David that has all the timing.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Control Issues

    I'm not exactly the stereotypical male. I cook, write poetry, rarely need directions, ask for directions when needed, and I even fill ice cube trays. But recently Dude has revealed that while I may not be the 'typical' man he's noticed some stereotypical tendencies.
    Dave and I have a game (more fun for me than him probably) where I call him downstairs for no reason. Sometimes just to get him to walk repeatedly down the stairs, (where he doesn't want to be) and sometimes just to wrestle or goof around. Either way we end up laughing and yelling and then he runs back upstairs to save the universe yelling 'NO!!' as I try to call him down yet again.
    The other day I was laying on the floor on my back looking like an accident victim, with my arms and legs spread when I called David down to mess around. I hollered his name a couple of times asking for help, and just laid there on the floor waiting for him to decend with the required assistance. He came down the stairs grumbling as I asked him once again for help. He immediately completed his decent to the ground floor, and walked in my direction. Then, with some evident disgust, leaned over, snatched the remote off of the floor and deposited it in my outstretched hand. Then he returned upstairs with something that sounded like, 'I just can't take it anymore'. I lay there on the floor laughing as Raine came back into the room. After I explained what had happened she said, ' Well, he must have figured that was what you were missing.' Et tu Brute'? I mean, I haven't requested to be buried with it or anything, but evidently the rest of the household thinks I have some (remote) Control Issues to work out.