Tuesday, July 9, 2013

2013 Rocky Mountain Village - We arrive!

2013 Easter Seals Camp!

So we’re back in Georgetown for Rocky Mountain Village. Michael is at camp; Grandpa and David and I are in a cabin rental.

We began prepping Michael about a month and a half ago, with a long checklist that included four statements, such as: “Is the plane here yet? NO. We wait quietly for the plane and the pilot.”

It has been an interesting journey getting here. First, Grandpa and I were in Eastern Europe for a volunteer activity we’ve participated in for – well, for him, 30 years and for me close to 25. The event was scheduled in St. Petersburg on July 3. We were supposed to have meetings on July 4, and our return was July 5. We got up at 1:30 a.m. St. Petersburg time (2:30 p.m. PDT on July 4) to catch at 3:00 a.m. shuttle to the airport (LED) so we could get our 6:00 a.m. flight. (Are you yawning yet?) Flew to Frankfurt, Germany. Five hour layover. Flew to Philadelphia, with just a little time to spare to catch our flight to LAX. Bottom line: We got into bed around 11:30 p.m. PDT on July 5.

We slept all night. We got up and started doing laundry (July 6) which continued until late in the evening; we switched suitcases and repacked (as clothes came out of the drier) for Georgetown. The boys came over around 6 p.m. for dinner, shaves, showers and the last minute packing we do for them. (Mom had packed all their clothes and toiletries; the camping stuff for Mikey – including the sleeping bag, sheets, towels, etc., is at our house.)

We got up early on July 7; we had ordered a shuttle to take us to LAX. He arrived around 8:30 and advised us that “LAX was packed because some of the overflow from the Asiana / SFO flight and related travel disruptions.” We gave Michael a chlonidine as we left.

Baggage check in and Security lines at United at LAX are *always* long; it’s only a question of HOW long. I have seen the lines so long that it wouldn’t matter if you show up early – they go through the line calling departure times and hustling you to the front – so if you are early, you wait ANYHOW. We were lucky – the lines were just “regular” long. So about ½ hour to check bags, and then security. We gave Michael another chlonidine in the airport, hoping that, between the drug and the prep, we could avoid last year’s near disaster of almost not getting allowed on the plane. I was really glad we went for two pills – the flight arrived in Denver and hour-and-a-half late.

We got our car, and opted to drive-through to get something to eat (I was really glad for all the snacks I’d packed), and got to camp – at dinner time! Spenser met us. We could not check in until the nurse was free – and she was doing the dinner-hour pill distribution. We opted to set Michael up in his room, and then go see if anyone wanted any dinner while we waited. Michael was anxious to go hiking!

Spenser has a helper this year - a young man named, "Michael," who told us he comes up one week a year to volunteer. He is a very skinny young man - I told him he was in trouble; that Spenser normally loses 10 lbs. chasing after Michael! At any rate I think the two of them are bunking in with Michael, so he is doubly protected.  

We had thunderstorms Sunday - great big, sky-lighting lightning etc. It threatened yesterday, but never actually happened. The last time I looked at weather, it showed little or no likelihood of rain the rest of the week. Today it is showing t-storms 30% on Wednesday and Friday. (The first year I was here, alone, with Michael, it rained EVERY day (not all day) and caused lots of flight delays on the way home.)

We are staying a bit farther (a couple of tenths of a mile) from Georgetown downtown (we are still in Georgetown proper). David was bemoaning the "fact" that we are too far from town for him to walk. Well, the DRIVING distance is farther than the WALKING distance. We drove downtown Monday, and Marc pointed out the walking path to David.

As usual, we separated in town; and David went off on his own. He was gone an unusually long time. We finally called him. He had, on his own, WALKED back to the house, then back to town. I think that is admirably independent of him.

We also drove up to a hiking area and hiked for about an hour. Then, after dinner, David and Marc took their evening stroll. I don't usually go with them on that; and, I have been especially tired - not sure why except that I'm getting older. And of course the long travel back from Russia, laundry, repacking, etc.

We plan to hike around Guanella Pass - the one that goes to 14K plus feet - tomorrow or Thursday. David asked to go (although Marc and I had already planned it). Interesting – because last year, he was actually afraid of the high climb in the car. This year, he is enjoying the views.

We did ask him if there were things he wanted to do here. He also wants to go back to the European Cafe - the one run by the Czech folks. We were there last year, and he didn't like it very much. When we expressed surprise at his request, he said, "Maybe my tastes have changed. I'd just like to try it again."




Friday, June 28, 2013

Little bits of this and that

I have been neglecting my blog. Lots of things have happened, including my taking a short consulting gig that took me out of town several weeks (not all in a row).

David has started going to a new school, New Vista, in south county. He is doing mostly very well. The school is private, and it focuses on high-functioning autistic kids. These are the ones who can do well academically; but, without social intervention, would not be able to hold a job. In addition to academics (the English teacher informed us on our pre-sign-up visit, that she teaches all twelve tenses; to which I responded, "Pluperfect, huh," just to let her know ... :-), they have a heavy focus on socialization. This summer, David will be going to summer school that is focused, with some local employers, on job experience. I am anxious to see how he will do.

Michael continues to be Michael. He has made some progress in school - speaking of tenses, he now occasionally uses past tense, and seems to understand it, at least a little - and he (drum roll, please!) won Student of the Year at his school. I sat in at his last IEP. Our biggest issue with Michael is his need for one-on-one supervision, for the safety of himself and others. If he cannot get past this - and it does not look promising, although we continue to work at it - he will always live a confined life.

Michael is going back to camp this year. He has been talking about camp for the last couple of months - since May I think. He writes about it frequently in his diary. We are working on the social story that goes with it, emphasizing the wait in the airport once we clear security. He does pretty well though security. But last year, we were almost not allowed on the plane, because he got so anxious he threw a temper tantrum when the place was not there. And he is 6'3" and almost 200 lbs. This year, in addition to the prep, I am planning on giving him chlonidine - one on the way, and one once we are there. It will make him very sleepy, but that is much better than risking not getting on the plane.

So ... those are the quick updates.

 Last year, Marc and David accompanied Michael and me on our trip - we rented a home in nearby Georgetown. David had a great time, hiking with us and getting out on his own in town. He even - according to him - advised the owner of the local bookstore on why he had out was effectively miscategorized, and should be "over there" with a different set of material. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

... that's the benefit of autism
you can have your own little world, without feeling lonely in it.
At least, that's what David told me today.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Shakespeare in the Hood

So, David and I started reading Hamlet today. We first each took two of the four characters (that speak; the Ghost does APPEAR), and read the parts. I stopped him periodically to discuss the meaning of words and phrases. I told him that he would be given an exercise wherein he would analyze a set of quotes, and "translate" them into modern English. He has decided, on his own, to translate them into "Ghetto." Bernardo is now Bernie, et.al. "Whaz Up" has replaced a more Shakespearean greeting.

I have created a monster, or the genius has created himself.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Poetic ...

I have taken over some more of David's education. In addition to his College Algebra (yes! the 16-year-old is working in College Algebra), I am working with him on Programming and English, and have found some decent online science courseware (although I am more monitoring than teaching).

I decided to include some poetry at this point. So we read some famous poems that include references to trees; and, after discussing them, He was surprisingly - at least to me - very receptive. I asked David to "compare and contrast" two of them. This is how his paper started:

Poetry, I must admit, is a great art. You can write about many things in many certain styles. 

Bright young man. Very bright.

"It's Michael"

That's what we say when he does something that *obviously* has a rationale - we just can't figure out what the rationale is.

To reach our house from our where the boys live, you can either take the freeways roughly West and South or other freeways South then West. (Think of it as a big rectangle, with no diagonal freeway.) Alternatively, you can "step" down the surface streets.

My daughter-in-law normally takes the freeways. Lately, Michael has been requesting that she take the 22 freeway as part of the trip.

"It's Michael."

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Hello after a long hiatus!

Here's a little something that tickled me to bits:

So I was talking to David today and he informed me that he was making 320 mix tapes. 
"My goodness!" I said, "That's a lot of music. What are you going to do with all that?"
"Listen to it," David replied, matter-of-factly.
"Well, how many hours of music is it?" I asked.
"I don't know."
"Well, can you figure out an average?"
David thought for a moment and told me there were 60-70 minutes of music per tape. 
"Wow, " I said, "Assuming 8 hours / day, how many days of music is that?"
/ pause for math / 
"Forty," David said, then he continued, "Noah could have used it for his mix tape. "