February 2008

Greetings to Big Word Project Visitors!

by Tim on February 27, 2008

If you got here by way of one of our words at The Big Word Project, all this worked! Welcome!

Both Hands and a Flashlight started as a blog where my wife and I could try to connect with other parents of special needs kids. This isn’t a requirement of anyone wanting to join the conversation. All parenting topics are fair game, though we will focus a lot on the challenges our son is facing these days. This blog may be serious, funny, biting, full of witty repartee, hopefully foul-diaper-free, certainly hopeful, and all about doing what it takes to help your child grow into whatever little person they were meant to be.

We’ve just started recently, which has amounted to us diving headfirst into explaining everything we’ve been through and everything that we’re learning. We’re just going to catch everybody up as we go.

We just started this site so we have some design issues and features to work on. Until then, stay a while, read the posts, and subscribe to our blog. More importantly, leave us a comment! Say hi, ask a question, say something witty, say something not witty, or whatever floats your battleship.

Also, read The Both Hands and a Flashlight Manifesto and the witty introductions in “The quest to find our own asses begins”. That’ll give you the gist of things.

More to come. Again, glad you made it!


And now, for something completely different…

by Mary on February 27, 2008

Today was my last day in my old job. I’m moving to a new position within the same company, doing something I’m actually good at, and don’t hate. I stayed with my old job for YEARS because we needed the health insurance, but because of the stress of my old job, I used more health insurance than I would have otherwise. Yet another reason I’m for universal healthcare!

In my old job, I did a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff. Lots of people had no idea what I was doing, or how I spent my time… and many of those people had that whole “if I don’t know how to do it, it must be really simple” idea. Or, they assumed that if I wasn’t doing what they did, I must not be doing anything at all. That last one really makes review-time fun.

I’ve tried to spend the last 2 weeks teaching someone else how to do my old job. He’s freaking out. I’ve never seen someone need such detailed instructions before. I’ve been telling my bosses for THREE YEARS that someone else needed to learn how to do this stuff, and they kept putting it off. They knew I had this new position before I did – and still waited until the last minute.

I’ll probably be spending Monday running over and doing CPR on the guy each time he crashes and burns…


Best Receipt Ever

by Tim on February 27, 2008

Comic relief for stressful households.This really is a receipt we got one day. Hey, it’s a recipe for a good evening!best-receipt-ever.jpg


Autism Evaluation -Round One

by Tim on February 26, 2008

We had our first session with the doctor doing J’s autism evaluation. While spending two hours talking about all the things your kid struggles with isn’t exactly our idea of a fun morning, we were impressed with him and the interview. What a difference it is from the evaluations we’ve had with the county!

J-Man stayed home with my dad this morning while Mary and I took the 30-minute drive to his office. We’re so rarely without him that it was like this surreal date.

Anyway, the interview was based on what’s called the ADI-R – the Autism Diagnostic Interview – Revised. A pretty readable description of it is available here. What I liked about it is that it has a standardized structure to it, but it’s not a purely formal ‘test’. It felt like a conversation the entire time, and we were able to talk about things in whatever way or order we felt comfortable with. Again, what a huge difference from previous evaluations! The ‘test booklet’ was the size of an average magazine, so it was thorough. At the end of the main interview, there was very little we hadn’t covered.

The big positive in my book was that he listened. It’s that simple. The one thing he did that I noticed immediately was how often he said, “earlier I heard you talk about…” and then would move into a follow-up question that clearly demonstrated that he was paying attention to us. I don’t think we had to repeat ourselves at all unless we wanted to. He seemed to get it all the first time. If you’ve ever had to repeat your child’s story over and over again, especially to really dense people, you know how great it feels to be heard the first time.

The doctor will review the results of this session and score it before he sees J-Man so as to ensure a completely independent evaluation from the next round. This should give us some confidence in the final results if everything matches up.

So in two weeks, we’ll have our big day. Right now, I dread it, but I have a lot more confidence after meeting with the doctor. This is so hard on J, but he’s brave, more so than us oftentimes. I just want this to get easier for him. This hasn’t been the best couple of weeks, but then out of the blue he runs up and tackles me cackling so hard he snorts. Those are the times we know it’ll be OK.

We had to be at the doctor’s by 8:00 so we had to get J up way too early. As a result, by his 12:30 speech therapy he was toast. It was not a good session, but to her credit, his speech therapist coaxed some words out of him. The new one was “Boom!” You know, after all this, every new word makes up for whatever else goes on. Yesterday was rough, but last night he said bubbles (‘buh-buh!’) while playing with his bubbling bath toy in the tub and that washed the whole day’s difficulties away.

It’s the little victories, one at a time, that make all the difference.


Omega-3 Watch – Day 7

by Tim on February 25, 2008

What started out as a manageable-enough process of giving him fish oil in an oral syringe turned into full combat after the first couple of days. If I knew a martial art it might have been easier, but I doubt it.

The last couple of days have been a bit better – a relative concept. It has made giving him his other reflux meds harder as he distrusts everything we give him now. He holds a long grudge about these things. I personally don’t blame him. It’s not the most pleasant stuff in the world to take.

So far, no noticeable improvements in speech or otherwise as far as I can tell, though he has seemed more chatty in the last few days. I didn’t do an in-depth statistical analysis or anything, but I think he’s been using syllables a bit more often rather than his normal R2-D2-like moans and grunts. I haven’t seen any physical side effects so far, so that’s a big positive.

It’s supposed to take a while to notice much in the way of improvements with Omega-3s. It’s hard to be patient when you pray everyday that something will work. But it’s a lot less messy than offering animal sacrifices, so we’ll hang with it.



by Tim on February 25, 2008

New word of the day – ‘two-berty’, the two-year-old equivalent of puberty marked by tantrums, stubbornness, and parental drinking. (see also Twos, Terrible)

We’ve gotten lucky so far. J-Man’s tantrums generally have been short-lived. Give him a minute and he’s fine. I think those days are coming to an abrupt end.

I dropped him off a while ago at ‘inclusive preschool’, a.k.a. Group Therapy with Paint, The Place Where Therapists Try to Get the Kids to Not Notice They are Therapists by Disguising Themselves as Teachers, and (most importantly) The First Church of ‘Yes, We Can’ Even If It Takes Us a While. He threw a fit something awful. My caffeine-to-parental-guilt ratio was a bit skewed this morning, so I think that leveled it out. Um, thanks.

Next week, the school transitions to a new building with more space and a playground. Hopefully that will help. Lots of people in a close space tend to unnerve him. Still, the transition may take us a week or two, especially since his occupational therapy and developmental therapy are changing days and we’re getting a new OT because of the new preschool schedule and the previous OT going on maternity leave. Should be a fun week next week.

Well, Daddy quiet time at the library is nearly over. Off to pick him up and see how well he did today.


Party Animal? Only if it’s a mouse…

February 24, 2008

We went to our friends’ little boy’s first birthday party today. Of course, it was scheduled for almost exactly when we try to the J-man down for his nap (not that he sleeps every day, but we try!). He had a good time running around their open floor plan house, although in the beginning, he […]

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February 22, 2008

As Mary said, next Tuesday begins a three-part, private evaluation to see whether J-Man has something on the autism spectrum. After reading endless books on the subject, he doesn’t seem to fit any of the categories for ASDs, but he does fit some of the characteristics of some of them. The DSM-IV (the Gospel According […]

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