Tuesday, February 19, 2002

February 19-23, 2002

FEBRUARY 19, 2002

Tomorrow, I'm taking my son to a therapist to investigate the possibility of starting auditory integration training. I'm excited at the possibility of doing something to help my boy with his hyperactive behavior. I've heard good stories about this therapy helping kids just like him. It always feels good to be doing something positive, finding therapies and pursuing them.

And yet... I also felt excited about therapeutic horseback riding. And sensory integration therapy. And nutritional supplements. And FastForward for my daughter. And various other helpful strategies that I researched and pursued and pushed for but never quite got the full fruits of. FastForward may have helped my daughter a little, but not a lot. The therapeutic riding was great for my son, but the stable decided to limit each student to 16 weeks and then we had to hit the dusty trail. Sensory integration therapy is, I think, vital to my son's neurological well-being, but therapists seem to run out of steam with him. And the nutritional supplements? Despite guarantees by the manufacturers and happy users that the cod liver oil inside those gel caps tasted just like strawberries, my son bit down once, declared the contents disgusting, and wouldn't go near them again.

I can't complain, really; both my kids are making steady forward progress, steady, steady, slow and steady. Not for us the magical forward surges. I've run out of steam a bit myself lately, content to float along with the slow current and stop trying to ride the rapids. But tomorrow, I'll get it together for another attempt at dramatic improvement. And after that, maybe I'll start a Therapies Anonymous group for parents who can't stop looking for that magic key.

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FEBRUARY 20, 2002

Of all the commercials that play constantly during the Olympics, I'm really loving the one for Allstate featuring the parents of Olympian Eric Bergoust. Through old home movies, it tells the story of a little boy who loved to jump off things, and a mom and dad who thought that was just fine. There are pictures of him jumping off chairs through the years with increasingly fine form. There's a shot of him jumping off the chimney of his house with his parents waiting happily below with a stack of mattresses. There's mention of the fact that the boy grew up to be a freestyle aerial skier -- the kind who launch off ski jumps flipping and twisting -- and won an Olympic gold medal four years ago in Nagano. And finally, a giggling acknowledgment by his parents that they were the only ones who didn't think the kid was absolutely nuts.

I'll bet there were more than a few people who thought the parents were absolutely nuts, too. I mean, jumping off the chimney? But what I love about this ad is the depiction of parents who, with love, enthusiasm and unjudgmental support, help their child accomplish his dream. And I wonder: Would I be able to offer that kind of support? If my kid was jumping off chairs, would I ever try to find a way to help him do it better? If he was laying on his back on a skateboard and rocketing down the steep streets of our cul de sac, would I think to find a way to help him learn to luge? I think I've done a pretty good job about finding something positive in parts of my son's behavior that others have felt was wild or unproductive or absolutely nuts. Will I be justified one day when he finds a way to turn that "bad behavior" into something good? Better start taking home movies.

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FEBRUARY 21, 2002

My daughter is finally showing some interest in watching the Olympics, I'm happy to say. Every night we're sitting together, watching together, falling asleep over figure skating together. It's a mother-daughter thing. As nice as it is to have company, I will say that watching some of these sports with the Queen of the Literal can sometimes be a challenge. After each competitor finishes his or her ski run or ski jump or bobsled slide or speed-skating pairing, she'll say, "Did he win?" "Did she win?" And I'll try to explain, again and again, that we have to wait until everybody gets a turn to know who won. And sometimes we have to wait for everybody to get a turn twice. And sometimes they have to take turns again on a different day. You'd have thought NBC had already cut out all extraneous races to the point of ludicrousness, but my girl would be happy if they'd just show the winners winning and be done with it. Let's hope she never becomes a network exec.

One of the sports we watched last night was Skeleton, and why exactly don't they slap a parental advisory on this thing anyway? Luge was bad enough, but do you really want your child to get the idea that hurtling down an icy slope with his or her chin an inch off the ice would be a good way to go for Olympic glory? I felt like putting my hand over my daughter's eyes. In the end, though, I don't know what was more scary about that sport: the fact that, as one commentator commented, it's like leaning out of a car, face thisclose to the pavement, while it's going 80 miles an hour on the highway; or the fact that the silver medalist, that guy with the funny-colored spiky hair and extreme-sports demeanor, makes a living as an air traffic controller. Yeah, that's the guy I want landing my plane.

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FEBRUARY 22, 2002

So there are all these stinkin' teenagers on the TV winning gold medals, making me feel about 106. And there are their parents in the stands, looking all thrilled and basking in their offspring's accomplishments. Part of me feels a little sad, because it doesn't look like my kiddos will ever be doing anything to make sports commentators gush over them; my daughter at 11 is pretty much over-the-hill for beginning a sport, apparently, and my son ... well, if they ever come up with a sport that requires no motor planning ability, muscle tone or impulse control, he's there. But you know, it doesn't really matter, because we parents of children with special needs don't need the big things to be proud as all get-out. Little things are big. The first word at age 3, the potty training at age 5, the belated but welcome onset of pretend play or ball catching or even simple whining -- it's all gold medal material.

Sometimes it's something as simple as telling a riddle right. At dinner the other night, my deeply language delayed daughter upped the degree of difficulty on her dinner table conversation with this sentence-sentence combination: "Dad, I have a challenge for you. Do you see a pattern in the glasses on the table?" Her dad picked up pretty quickly that the boys had grape juice and the girls had apple juice, but I was too busy doing my victory dance to notice. I mean, she used the words "challenge" and "pattern" in a sentence absolutely correctly. That's hard for her. She understood the concept of "pattern" enough to actually pick one out on her own. That's harder. And she used language to turn her observation into a riddle. That's a 6.0, ladies and gentleman. The family looked at me a little funny when I started humming the national anthem, but hey, I'll take victory where I can find it.

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