ISAAC is playing Starfall on the computer. DADDY wanders in, talking to his father on the phone. DADDY puts the phone up to ISAAC's ear and says, "Isaac, say hi to Grandpa."
The following is an unedited transcript of the conversation:
ISAAC: Hi Grandpa!
GRANDPA: Hi Isaac! What are you doing?
ISAAC: I'm on the computer.
GRANDPA: Really? What are you doing on the computer?
In Floortime terms, Isaac is now capable of so many circles of communication that we can barely count them. But real conversation has been a harder hill to climb. He's never said anything more than "Hi" on the phone before. And now we have three circles. Three complete lovely round circles: my new favorite shape.
Tonight in the bath, I tried out our new conversational skills. As they say on 24: "The following takes place between 7:09 pm and 7:10 pm":
MOMMY: Isaac, what did you do at school today?
ISAAC: I sat on the rug.
And there you have it. A five-year-old teenager. At least he didn't say "nothing" and put on his headphones.
Lisa D Faria, a licensed clinical social worker who works with children with autism, sent this along and I thought I'd share. Please pass it along to anyone you think might benefit.
Free Parent Workshop on Floortime™ & the DIR® model – San Jose, CA Sat., Feb. 28, 2009, 10 am -12:45 pm. Sponsored by The Creekside School. Parents of children with Autism or other special needs are invited to learn how to meet, reach, and promote your child's social-emotional-cognitive growth using Floortime, a developmental play-based approach. Speakers include Lisa deFaria, LCSW, Faculty, Interdisciplinary Council on Developmental and Learning Disorders, Yana Peleg, PhD, Children’s Health Council, Lynette DiLuzio, SLP, Director, The Creekside School, Moira Sullivan, M.S., OTR/L and Matt McAlear, Easter Seals, P.L.A.Y. Project, Santa Clara. Reservations strongly encouraged, as space is limited. To register please call Anne Ernst at 408.933.8910 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org (*Adults only. We regret we cannot provide childcare at this event.)
I lay in bed at night, soothed to sleep by the sound of crickets and the occasional owl. "HOO Hoo. Hoo Hoo," it would call night after night, familiar music through my bedroom window.
Sometimes I would hear coyotes keening through the brush. One would start to yowl, then the others would join in and--just as suddenly--fall silent.
It was peaceful in my bedroom, at least on the nights that I couldn't hear my parents arguing. Our house was at the end of a cul-de-sac, butting up against the scrubby hillside and all its rightful inhabitants. Every day at around dusk a squirrel would come down the hill and drink from our pool, his tail twitching anxiously at the slightest breeze. Sometimes we'd find the odd garden snake on the front steps. Once we found a baby rattler, and, not long after, a large hairy black tarantula making its leisurely way through the ivy.
It was wild and utterly ordinary, and it's the image I conjure when I'm looking for a sense of peace, my inner compass.
J. and I made the decision to raise Isaac in the city early on. Both kids of the suburbs, we loved the idea of being able to walk anywhere from our front door, or hop on the bus at a moment's notice. We loved the diversity, the parks, the energy of city life, the variety of things to do.
But I can't help feeling a little melancholy that the sounds that soothed me as a chid--the hum of wildlife going about its daily business--are not available to him. Instead he falls asleep to the neighbors' conversation on the deck below, to diesel buses and police cars and babies crying and dogs barking in the distance.
We recently began introducing the concept of peacefulness to Isaac. His understanding of emotions grows day by day; yesterday, he informed me solemnly, "I was grouchy before, but now I feel happy." And so beyond happiness--a state that he guards intensely--lie other more nuanced feelings: excitement, fear, worry, surprise, and now, peacefulness.
"Do you want me to rub your back?" I asked him not long ago as we completed our nightly bedtime ritual. "Yes," he whispered, his face buried in the sheets. I rubbed his back in slow circles, whispering to him, and told him that this was what peaceful feels like: when your breathing is slow, and your voice is low, and your muscles feel loose and heavy as you drift closer to sleep.
"Do you feel peaceful now?" I asked, my voice a whisper. "Yes," he said, and closed his eyes.