Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Symptoms of Dyslexia

I am bringing over my articles from Examiner, in the hopes that they may help or give you information you need or were not aware of. I start with dyslexia, because my son has it, and now we think my youngest may, as well. So it is a subject I know a bit about.

See if this sounds like your child:

He is very bright, but doesn't meet his potential. It takes him longer to do his homework then you think it should. His penmanship is messy, floating either above or below the line. His spelling is almost indecipherable, vowels are almost nonexistent. He is behind in reading and/or math, has had extra help and his academics just aren't improving.

If this sounds like your child, you might want to check out dyslexia.

Dyslexia is not recognized by many school districts, and chances are you will be told it is a "medical diagnosis" that the school isn't prepared to make. They may instead guide you to remediation for the individual areas in which your child is behind. This may work. But understand if dyslexia is the problem, it is not just merely an academic issue. It is a question of how your child's brain works to process information. Language is processed differently; Broca's area, responsible for speech production, and Wernike's area, responsible for understanding spoken language, have neurons connected differently. the Right Hemisphere of the brain is 10% larger. So there are actual physical differences with dyslexia. This can cause sequences, such as a reciting the alphabet, counting or rote memorization such as multiplication tables to be very difficult. It isn't the child, it's his brain.

Most parents are under the impression that a child with dyslexia will have trouble with spelling, and that's true. But there are so many more symptoms. The most common and publicized symptom is reversal of letters, but not for the reason most think. The child doesn''t see the word backwards. Due to their visual processing problem, that is often present with dyslexia, the child sees the word the right way, but writes or reads it wrong. Don't panic, if your child reverses letters early as they are learning to read and write. Many children do this. The concern would be if the reversals continue past the first couple of years.

Some other symptoms include:

  • * oral language (stuttering)
  • * articulation issues (trouble with L's, R's, M's and N's, S, sh, ch)
  • * auditory processing in how many sounds held onto
  • * significant auditory discrimination problems
  • * phonemic awareness problems
  • * reading difficulty (in processing language with his eyes)
  • * writing difficulty (language with hands, penmanship)
  • * trouble tying shoes
  • * difficulty with left & right
  • * difficulty sounding out new words
  • * can read a word fine on a page, then turn the page and not recognize it

There is no hard and fast test for dyslexia. But if your child has some of these symptoms, you may want to pursue help from an educational psychologist. Or, you can treat the symptoms with some coping skills. I am working on a pst about the various interventions available for the treatment of dyslexia. Stay tuned!

For more information:

Overcoming Dyslexia
bright solutions

T, who says reversals and reading problems are the tip of the iceberg

photo copyright Tina Cruz
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Monday, May 17, 2010

The Veggie Law... a revisit

I thought it would be fun to revisit some of my earlier posts, from years ago...just to get an idea of how far we have come. So, I present:

"They're yukky!"

I looked at my second born, my son, as he sat there, wiggling, lip curled and looking askance. Maybe if he didn't look at them, they would disappear. "I know you think that, but they are good for you. You need to eat a couple." He didn't answer, but returned his attention to his plate, pushing his fork around with disinterest. Suddenly, he brightened. "I don't really have to eat them. It's not the law."

I held back a smile. "Well, actually, it is a law. Kids under ten must eat at least 1 bite of vegetables. It's California state law."

I nibbled my nail while I waited to hear his answer. He regarded his plate, then me. "Even peas?" he asked. "Yes son, even peas." I almost felt badly at the untruth I was spreading, but hey, a kid has to eat his peas!

He sighed heavily, then picked up his fork. "If I was President I wouldn't have to eat these," he said.

"I am pretty sure even the President has to eat his peas, too. I think it's the law."

"Well, the President breaks the law, right? He could break the Vegetable Law. After all, he listened to other peoples' phone calls without asking."

Oh oh, thought to myself, now you've done it. The kid clearly hears talk radio even when you think he's not listening.

I made a mental note to refrain from listening to talk radio when he is around. Kids don't need to be burdened with the politics of grown ups, really. And President Bush's actions, as confusing as they are for adults, must be completely flummoxing for a child.

Again, I sit here, left wondering, what do I tell my children? When I explain to them we all have authorities over us, that's just the way it is, how do I explain that the President believes himself to be above the law? And since the President is such an Everyguy, and every kid can be President, what possible recourse do I have when my son refuses to eat his peas?

by the way, I did tell my son there is no such law about peas. But the law for corn still stands.

T, who figures eating veggies could be important

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Rule 1: Expect nothing but laughter

I don't find myself funny. I have been told people enjoy my humor, but honestly? Every time I hit publish, I second guess myself and have to walk away from the computer so that I don't delete what I wrote. They say that humor is a defense mechanism; a way to keep what cuts you in two from finishing the job. It is how I bind the wound and staunch the flow.

Life delivers the kill-bite, and laughing it off is my way of sidestepping the throat-ripping Pit Bull of Pissdom. That last bit didn't sound right. The Boxer of Bitchy Life? How about the Afghan of Autism? Ok, that is all kinds of ridiculous. See how good I am at distracting myself from the frustration at hand?

Some of my best friends are very funny. In fact, I have a hard time relating to anyone that doesn't find life funny. I mean, really, what is life but a comedy of errors? If I see the pathos in the product, and you can't appreciate it? We probably aren't going to stay friends. I don't mean that you have to laugh at my jokes all the time, because, face it, I'm not that funny. But if you don't see at least a bit of humor in the Situation we call life (as opposed to the guy in New Jersey) then you pretty much cannot relate to me, and to most of the people I know. Also, if you laugh with me, I am more apt to buy you drinks. Ask my friends if you don't believe me.

Sometimes humor covers up anger. And of course, anger is always a secondary emotion. Because underneath, just like the layers of an onion, is more: hurt is often what lies beneath for me. It hurts to raise children with autism. No, really, it does. I am not being flippant. It sucks, much of the time. And though I don't get mad at my children, I am often mad at God. Because, face it, through his Infinite Jesting, he has placed me as the mother of these children. I mean, he has to be laughing, right? How else do you explain:

  • I like quiet. I crave quiet. Screaming, though I do it sometimes, really upsets me…puts me on high alert. Enough of it puts me on edge and makes me snippy. Especially if there is nothing I can do about it. JBean is the Child of Sound and Thunder. LOUD is her middle name. Try to tell her to lower her volume? Her brow furrows and a storm passes across her face and I get, "NO NO NO NO I AM NOT YELLING MAMA! YOU are YELLING! I'M TRYING, MAMA! I'M TRYING! [yes I know, you are very trying] That last bit? I don't say out loud. I just think it. Real hard. "I AM NOT YELLING! YOU'RE NOT LISTENING TO ME! STOP TALKING OVER ME STOP TALKING OVER ME…" ad nauseum.

  • I enjoy my own company, and am happiest sitting by myself, reading or writing or even watching tv. I have a youngest child who must sit thisclose to me every single second of every day. There are reprieves, but they are few and far between. She cannot do school work on her own, she needs me to walk her through it. Getting dressed is often too hard for her, there are too many choices. And she cannot leave me alone long enough to let me write this post. It is beyond annoying.

  • I don't like to be touched. I, of course, don't live in a bubble, so therefore I prep myself to deal with the inevitable hugs, squeezes, touches and lap-sittings that come with having a sensory-seeking kid. I am not touch-avoidant, as much as begin to feel overwhelmed by the onslaught of her screaming fits and want to retreat for safety. Of course, right after a blow up is when she needs to be held. That is absolutely the worst time for me.

Expectations are everything. I expected, when I had children, to have a child I could dress up and take out. I expected she would enjoy going places and chatter excitedly about it. And I have that. But I also have a child who has to do her homework in a certain order. She needs to have her socks on *just right.* Dressing in the morning is like attending a meeting at Camp David… it has to look good, feel good and be neither too hot or too cold; it cannot be too short or too tight. And it has to reflect the way she is feeling. We have tried the week-long organizers, but she didn't want to wear what she sets aside at the time. Insisting caused such a shit storm that it just wasn't worth it. The crayons need to be sharp enough. Make sure to give her plenty of notice if you want to walk out the door to get somewhere on time. Chances are, if you don't, she will come unglued, and then you aren't going anywhere.

So, to combat all of this? I laugh. A lot. And make others laugh, too. I see the humor in the unfunny. Honestly, there are few things I cannot find the humor in. Death? Check. Dismemberment? Check. Autism? Anger? Augh? Check. Check. Check. It is absolutely a matter of survival.

They say, "Laugh, and the world laughs with you." And here you are.
"Cry and you cry alone." And that's why I choose humor.

T, who is laughing, right now, on the inside

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

It's not a matter of more time, or better skills, it's a matter of quiet

I can't write. Part of the problem is that it's Monday. But it's also Every time I sit down to put my thoughts on paper, some crisis hits and I have to break out the proverbial fire hose or do recon. I have so much to say, but I cannot get my thoughts in order. Chaos reigns supreme in my house. As I write this, my youngest child is sitting here alternating between, "I don't care what you say!" over and over again, and "EVIL!" and just screaming. There is only so much that you can listen to this before you start to tune it out. And don't tell me to try to make it better, nothing does. It is Monday, after a particularly busy weekend, and this is par for the course. Albeit, a little louder than usual. Such is autism in my house.

As I write this, my son is in his room egging his sister's behavior on, and trying to see how far he can push me. He is supposed to be writing an essay, but unless I stand on his neck, figuratively speaking, that's not going to happen today. He just slithered past behind the couch thinking I didn't know he was there. Now, he is making faces at his sister. Again, he thinks I don't know. I am about ready to pounce on him so we can work on his double-digit multiplication, so he is trying to maintain a low profile.

I had to resume this post after I dealt with JBean. She was out of control. Hitting me and throwing Legos, not enough to hurt, but enough to be really annoying. I finally picked her up and deposited her in her bed, with her screaming, "You're hurting me! I really wasn't she was just overly sensitive. I tucked her into bed, with her weighted blanket, including her arms. Think: swaddling a baby to calm them. I sat next to her with my legs over her, not my weight, just my legs. She was screaming, but I know her well enough to know what calms her.

After a bit, she was quiet, and I could see the comprehension shine in her eyes once again. I picked up the closest stuffed animal, which happened to be a multi-colored patchwork elephant, and told her to hold him. Then I asked her what color she was feeling. She pointed to red. "So you are angry?" She nodded her head. I told her it was good that she could tell me how she was feeling. Then I pointed to white. "This is peace. It's a good feeling, and if you add it to the red, you can end up with pink. Do you think you could be pink?" She nodded, her eyes wide. "I could try, " she said.

Then she pointed at purple. "What's that, " I asked. "it's 'I'm Sorry," she said.

And she was.

Crisis averted, peace restored. At least until lunchtime, anyway.

But this? Is why I can't write.

T, who keeps trying

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Sunday, May 09, 2010

Caught in a...

What do you get when you cross an all-male glee club/a capella group with Lady Gaga and crazy dancing?

A Bad Romance!

Absolutely worth a look. Promise.

And if you liked that one...

You've just been Rickrolled. And liked it. Admit it.

T, who was pretty impressed

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Comparing Oranges to ... Real Life?

I just want to get this straight. I live in the real Orange County. Not the Orange County with the multi-million dollar houses. I don't live behind a locked gate, sipping vodka martinis in a hot tub. I haven't had any "work" done, besides the standard semi-exercise to keep my butt from sagging to my knees. I like yoga, and I flirt with Pilates, and I suck at karate, but don't have a personal trainer, and certainly not one with a six-pack named Del or Hans or Antony. I own a scale, but I never look at it. I would rather poke out an eye than to let anyone near my face with a syringe full of toxin, image bedamned.

I am not a Lady of Leisure. The only ones I lunch with are the ones who are in my charge. I have three kids, and they keep me hopping. I load my own dishwasher, and can't rationalize paying someone else to clean the hair out of my tub when I am home all day. (if you want to, that's cool, I just have that liberal guilt thing that plagues me). I don't play tennis, or belong to a country club. My big night out is dinner and a movie with my software-engineer husband.

I realize this kills the Dream for some of you. Watching The O.C. as they prance on the beach makes you believe that we all live that way. Sorry to disappoint. I don't surf. In fact, my children barely swim. I own a pass for the beach but hardly ever get there. It's only twenty minutes away, but it might as well be fifty miles. Life is busy. I drive my paid-for minivan to the grocery store and to ballet and to karate. We live in a little 50's ranch house small but cozy. We budget. Tonight for dinner? Hot dogs. So much for the romance, eh? I do live five minutes from The Happiest Place on Earth, and we have annual passes, so that has to count for something. But it isn't what you envision.

If you ever saw Bravo airing "The Real Housewives of Orange County" then you saw someone's fantasy, and definitely not my reality, or that of my friends. Recently I watched a rerun, and I snorted and guffawed my way thorough it. It was ridiculous, it was a train wreck; it was entertainment. Reality is is reality, and television is television. But reality television is not reality.Laguna Beach is an great little bedroom arts community, not a hotbed of immorality for teens. And I have no idea where "The Hills" even are.

Just remember...When you watch Supernanny or Wife Swap or The Real Housewives of Orange County or Atlanta or wherever the hell they are this season…keep in mind . It's not real life for 98% of the people you know. Being a fly on the wall in my real life, well you wouldn't really believe it. No one could write it, and you would not want to watch it. Trust me. Just thought you should know.

T, who really does drive a minivan, probably older than yours (2001)

picture of my girls taken by my friend, Bobbie Schafer

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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Yes, she's adorable, isn't she?

It's been a little over a month now since Poppy came to live with us and all I can say is... wow. Wow, that she's such a sweet-natured obedient pup. Wow, that she requires so much work. Wow, that she sometimes doesn't want to listen. Just like kids. She has grown so fast! She is huge, already.

Still, it is so nice to have her with us. She has a crazy period around 9 at night, when all she wants to do is chew on the leash when she is taken outside. We are working on it. I am in the process of getting her enrolled in puppy classes, but so far she is doing quite well. She will sit, lie down, shake and even heel most of the time. We are still working on "come" but she is getting there. She does "leave it" and "off" pretty well. She is just squirrelly at times. What do you expect? She's a pup!

No one can handle her as well as I do. Even JNerd has a bit of trouble at times, but she will come around. What's hysterical is to watch how she obeys JBean! JBean is maybe 40 lbs. soaking wet. Poppy is 41.3 lbs as of Friday. But JBean says, "SIT." and Poppy sits. She will allow JBean to lead her by her collar to me. I don't really let her walk her yet. That may be soon. She really has an aura of power about her. And to think...JBean used to be afraid, bordering on phobia, of dogs!

Poppy has been good for us all. I have learned to actually get up in the morning, something I hate. But when 40+ lbs. th-thumps the bed next to you, as front paws end up on the bed and tongue lolls in your face? You get up. And pretty happily, I might add. I really look forward to our morning walk after breakfast!

So, all in all, it is working out well. I enjoy her, and she enjoys my treats. No really, she likes us all.

It's true what you've heard about Newfoundlands: they drool. And they shed (though she hasn't started, yet!) She has started to drool, so that's fun. I am doing a lot of laundry. Woo! Slimy jeans! I knew the risks. And talk about loving water? I have two bath towels in the kitchen to mop up water when she inevitably dumps or spills her water dish...on purpose. Yep. She loves to be wet. What's one more special-needs member of my family, you know? Besides, look at this face! How could you not love this?

And as, JBear says, Puppies are a lot of work. But puppy kisses are more than worth it.

T, who admits to being in love

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Saturday, May 01, 2010

Pretty sure I have had this EXACT conversation

If you haven't seen Chuck & Beans, what are you waiting for??

T, who says geek or nerd, it's all just me

You Like me, you really like me! My day at the L.A. Blogger's Brunch

Earlier this month, I had the distinct pleasure to attend the L.A. Bloggers' Brunch at the Shade hotel in Manhattan Beach. Top area bloggers were treated to an omelet bar, pastries with all the trimmings and fresh-squeezed orange juice and coffee. Beforehand, was a seminar with great speakers like my friends Ciaran andCaryn. In a roomful of marketers, P.R. people and bloggers, we discussed whether or not a blogger should return merchandise after review. It was decided that if the vendor wants it back, they need to say so, and they also need to make it easy to return, perhaps postage-paid. But optimal would be not having to return at all. This is a controversial topic, and I am not sure we reached a consensus.

At the brunch,some brands were on hand to meet and mingle such as Dyson, Pottery Barn, Bandai, Nickelodeon toys, Pajama jeans and more.

Dyson is now making a vacuum specifically for those with animals. I may need one of those with the Newfie! In fact, I know I could give it a run for the money with two long-haired cats and a Newfoundland dog. Do you have any idea how much shedding is done in this house? Hey Dyson! Want to do some product testing?? Let's see just how good that sucker is! Vacuum...sucker...see what I did there??

Backyard Safari showed their toys that will be in Target and other major retailers..I was enamoured with the large magnifying glass frame made of plastic. Very good for tide pools!

It was a wonderful morning for all concerned. I met some really nice people, new contacts and renewed old friendships. It was great to get out and eat a meal I didn't have to 1) COOK and 2) CLEAN UP AFTER <--THIS is huge!

And, as if that wasn't enough, there were some nice perks. Pottery Barn treated us all to a tote bag with a really nice beach towel. Bandai gave us a fun bag of goodies, including JBean's favorite, Harumika. She just loves this line that encourages creativity. (No, really, she will play for hours, and it keeps her quiet in the car in traffic. That right there is worth the price of admission, in my mind). Nickelodeon provided some of their top toys, as well. Temptress was on hand to do makeovers. Prizes were won. Dyson gave away some vaccuums. Sadly, not to me. And? Apparently there is a $100 mascara. Who knew?! (for that price, it should make me look, if not like Angelina, at least like Sandra...without the plastic surgery. What? It could happen!)

Thank you, Child's Play for the invitation. It was a great event!

T, who was just happy to be there

I did not receive compensation for this post, and no one made me write it. I did get an amazing omelet (with avocado and bacon and cheese!) and some nifty gifties.

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