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Friday, April 29, 2005

Vote for me!!!!

As long as I'm on a roll here I thought I would ask a favor of all you readers... please vote for me! I have entered a contest on Delphi for a stained glass project that I made for my DH. The contest actually ends on the 30th.

This is the piece that I entered...

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I really hate having my picture taken so this is a rare occasion. So please, go, vote... even if you don't vote for me, vote! Go ahead, do it now, I'll wait right here for you! Go to Delphi and drop down the "Select a catagory" menu and choose large panels (2 sq feet and over). It's called 'Dolphin's Rule' for obvious reasons.

Fluo Scarf complete

Finally finished the Fluo scarf that I have been working on for sometime now. I am working hard to knit up all the WIPs I have accumulated. If only I could stop accumulating new WIPs.

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By the way, link to yarn is not my store. Just thought I should support a person with such a lovely name!

Bush + Prime Time = Bad

Obvious rant alert...

I am so not happy about Bush crashing prime time tonight. It's plain rude. Granted I didn't watch it so I don't know what he had to say but couldn't it have waited? I mean how many people actually watched it? Since I have Tivo it was taped but I skipped right over it to get to what I ACTUALLY wanted to watch. Forgive me if you don't agree. Why couldn't he do it during the gameshows? UGH...

Rant concluded

Thursday, April 28, 2005

It's been a while

I know, you've heard it all before. Busy blah, blah, blah. I remember back when I first started my blog and I would post everyday if not multiple times a day. Currently I am having trouble finding time to do it. I have lots to say but no time to say it.

So... in knitting news. I have finished the socks for Joshua that I was working on.

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Right away Mitchell asked when I was making him a pair. Of course I couldn't say no. He picked out his own yarn from my stash and I started them right away.

I knit Joshua's on DPNs but decided to do two circulars instead. I can't believe how much faster it went. I started Tuesday night and finished the first one Wednesday evening. I'm past the gusset on the second sock.

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Feeling pretty good about the two circs but curious about the magic loop technique. I'd love to hear thoughts on preferences.

Monday, April 25, 2005

April is Autism Awareness Month - Day 25

Potty training can be difficult when you have a child that is not able to communicate their needs. Who am I kidding, all kids can be difficult but autism does have a few extra wrenches thrown in.

We started the process just before Joshua turned 3 and he took to it right away. He totally understood what he needed to do. The problem came when it came time for him to just do it. He needed help but was not able to tell us.

At times we had some success using a picture of a toilet that he could give us. We were not having luck consistently and were beginning to become frustrated. It seemed like we should take a break for a while. After all, he was only 3 and we weren't having luck with Mitchell either.

Over the summer while Joshua was in summer school his class started potty training. They used a sensor that would cause an alarm to sound when they began peeing. Joshua was not the first child to use this so when it was his turn he knew the drill. He is kind of the "policeman" of his classroom and had been keeping track of all the buzzing.

There were a couple of accidents the first day and then something snapped. He put the sensation together with the sound and he "got it." It was exciting for us and made Joshua so proud. We continued to use the sensor for a couple more weeks just for reinforcement.

We never had a problem at home after we stopped using the sensor. The only problem he had was at Church. He had tried to tell them he needed to go potty but I guess they weren't able to understand him. He had an accident. This was very traumatic for him. It was like he felt failure on a huge level.

The next week I printed up small pictures of a toilet and laminated them. I let them know that when Joshua needed to use the bathroom he would give them a picture. I also let Joshua say that he needed to go potty so they would know what it sound like. That service he used the bathroom numerous times and by the next week it was all good. The newness of asking had worn off and there was an understanding with all involved.

I believe that with all kids there is a trigger to help when learning anything. Children with autism seem to respond well to visual and auditory triggers. Of course they sometimes don't respond well to visual and auditory stimulation. You really have to get to know the child and figure out what they will respond to. For me it can be frustrating but at the same time it's a labor of love.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

April is Autism Awareness Month - days... too many to list :-(

Wow, seems like forever since I have posted. Let me just say that I have been totally overwhelmed with everything lately. Which I shall now turn into my autism post!

For those of you that read my blog on a regular basis you will recall my post earlier this month on independence. Joshua running to the bus on his own without a look back. Lets just say that was the one step forward and we are now on the 2+ steps back. For some unknown (to me) reason, my experience with autism is that progress is slow and often painful.

That glimmer of independence is followed up with a week or more of, well... challenging behavior. I don't know why this happens but knowing that it will happen seems to help. Seems like it's just part of the process. Almost like he can't settle into the success immediately. Taking that step back brings him comfort.

Independence can be overwhelming to anyone but for a young child with autism it's almost more than they can handle. Patience is the key. Take every day as it comes and don't spend a lot of time comparing one day to the next. It's a psychological trap that I don't recommend.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Not much knitting going on...

Do you ever feel like you are the energizer bunny? Not by choice. Like there is no down time and you can't seem to stop. I sometimes wish that you could press the pause button and just take a breather. That's how this week has been.

I'm still working on Joshua's sock. I am fighting this second sock syndrome. What is it about socks and mittens? I'm always so excited when I finish the first one. I really need to get over this failure to finish. It stresses me out to not follow thru but I'm always looking for new projects.

I mailed my final package to my secret pal today! I almost paid for express mail ($17.40) before I realized my mistake. Post Office guy was rather rude but that seems to be normal.

I've been noticing a lot of knitting themes in shows lately. Last Friday night I watched Joan of Arcadia and the whole show was about knitting and how it was a metaphor for life. It was a really great show. Tonight there was a negative reference to knitting on CSI. A woman was talking about retiring (not by choice) and asked what she was suppose to do... knit? I took offense but I figure it's their loss. They don't know what they are missing.

On that note I will bid my few readers ado. Have a wonderful Friday!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Love The Incredibles

Elastigirl
Which Incredibles Character Are You?

brought to you by Quizilla

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

April is Autism Awareness Month - Day 19

Remediating Autism?

To address the core deficits of autism* any remediation program which seeks to restore healthy relationship functioning in a developmental way, needs to empower parents–not professionals–in establishing the primary relationship through which this can be achieved.

* For references, download the new Autism Spectrum Quarterly article by Dr. Steven Gutstein: “Relationship Development Intervention–Developing a Treatment Program to Address the Unique Social and Emotional Deficits in Autism Spectrum Disorders."

But what can you do to help, as a relative, friend, teacher or aide?

1. Consider "lending an ear".
Understand this will be a marathon for the family, and not a sprint. Take a deep breath. Relax. Then consider lending an ear.

A remedial autism program is not focused on age-appropriate, “fitting-in” skills. Rather, it is a long-term approach focused on long-term quality of life goals: genuine emotion-sharing, true friendships, community involvement, independent living, etc. For many, just believing this is possible is sometimes the most difficult part of getting started or maintaining enthusiasm during the inevitable ups & downs, so offering some open-hearted listening to parents as they work through this, can be a major help.

2. Be patient & celebrate the small miracles.
Understand this is a developmental process which starts at the beginning, even if the person with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is starting the remediation process as an adult. Be as patient with a person on the spectrum beginning remediation, as you would be with an infant.

A 14 year old on the autism spectrum may have good language or IQ, but may have completely missed out on the 4,000 hours of practice that a typical three-year old has used for building trust, experiencing the payoffs of being excited or soothed by parents, communicating non-verbally, coordinating with others, and enjoying basic relationship competence. So, don’t expect the motivation or skills for advanced abilities like typical friendships to occur, until well into the remedial work (Stage 8, of the RDI® Program.) In the meantime, celebrate the small miracles you will see unfolding.

3. Provide opportunities for the person with ASD to engage with you.
Understand that the only person who can really remediate the autism is the person with the autism themself. Provide ample opportunities for them to engage, without direct prompting or pressure. If persons with ASD are to generalize their abilities over a lifetime, they need daily reserves of mental and emotional energy to do the work only they can do, and the right opportunities to develop their own inner drive & confidence to succeed.

Create an Inviting Communication Environment
Changing the communication environment for a person on the spectrum can make a dramatic difference in their desire to engage with you and to use their communication in new and vastly expanded ways. Here's how you can help:

• Increase the importance of your own non-verbal communication.
• Slow down your pace of talk and use fewer words to increase mental processing and thoughtful speech.
• Do not reinforce non-communicative speech.
• Try not to use more words in any utterance than the person with ASD does. If he or she normally speaks in two or three word phrases try to keep your own phrases to that length. If the person is completely non-verbal, use very short phrases.
• Don’t continue to talk until the person with ASD provides a meaningful response to the first set of words that you have spoken.
• Emphasize quality of communication over quantity.
• Make sure that thoughtfulness is preceding speech. Allow plenty of thinking time before expecting a response (wait 45 seconds).
• Use a ratio of 80% declarative (experience-sharing) communication to 20% imperative (means-to-an-end) communication:

Declaratives include:
• Sharing emotional reactions
• Comparing/contrasting
• Reminiscing
• Brainstorming ideas
• Planning future experiences
• Affirming your emotional bond
• Increasing coordination
• Repairing misunderstandings

Examples:
• “Woohoo!” “Great!” “We did it!”
• “I like the black car more than the blue car.”
• “Yesterday we saw a cute dog.”
• “The red one might fit.”
• “Tomorrow we'll make chocolate waffles.”
• “I love you.”
• “This is too heavy for me.”
• “Here I come.”
• “Sorry. I meant before lunch, not after lunch.”

Imperatives Include:
• Obtaining desired information or objects
• Influencing someone to provide a specific response
• Reciting scripted words in response to an associated setting
• Cueing for a specific response
• Testing knowledge

Examples:
• “Put your coat on.”
• “Which one do you want?”
• “What did you do today?”
• “Give me that balloon.”
• “Stop that. Come here.”
• “Say ‘thank you’.”
• "Wave good-bye.”
• “What color is this?”
• “Look at me.”
• “What is the right answer?”
• “What do you call this?”

Busy Day

I promised some pics of Kris for his birthday and as usual the day got away from me. I have problems with my scanner but was able to find one semi-recent photo to share.

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This is Kris, now 13. We will celebrate his birthday on Friday with the grandparents. He spent most of the day playing his Gameboy Advance SP. What can I say? Did I mention he's 13?

KRIS IS 13...

My oldest son is 13 years old today... April 19.

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I'll post more later, probably some embarrassing baby photos or something like that! Happy Birthday Kris, I love you!

Monday, April 18, 2005

April is Autism Awareness Month - Day 17 & 18

Having a special needs child is tough. It's hard on everyone involved. I think the area that suffers the most is marriage.

I'd love to be able to give you advice on how to keep your marriage happy and healthy but we struggle with this as well. I think the most important thing is to realize the danger. If we are aware and vigilant we are less likely to let things spin out of control.

Communication is vital. It's a good idea to spend time alone and to have some sort of outlet for the frustrations. Marriage is rarely easy and requires a lot of patience from both parties. What ever you do, don't give up easily.

I believe that all children need a stable home and that two parents are better than one. This is experience talking. I've done the single parent thing... not easy. There are days when you are certain you can't handle it and when you are single, you have to handle it. Having someone you can count on for support is priceless.

As for me, right now my marriage is strained. We both want what's best for our kids but we both seem to think different things are best. I can be stubborn so I try to take a step back and see it through my DH's point of view.

With two kids on the autism spectrum, everyday can be a challenge. I pray every morning that I'm up for it. I'm so very blessed. I know that God will never give me more than I can handle.

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Sunday, April 17, 2005

Not sure how this happened...



Your Linguistic Profile:



75% General American English

15% Upper Midwestern

5% Midwestern

5% Yankee

0% Dixie



Considering my mom is from Arkansas and my dad is from West Virginia I am completely shocked at my scores.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

April is Autism Awareness Month - Day 15 & 16

Friday was Joshua's first Dentist appointment. Usually I don't do a lot of prep work on Joshua but with something as important as going to the dentist this journey started over a year ago.

First we would take Joshua with us when we went to the dentist so he could be in the waiting room. Later we would take him back to where we get our teeth cleaned. Little by little preparing him.

Joshua had no desire to see the dentist for most of the time that we were preparing him. The change occurred over night. At his school at Dentist came in for a visit. She talked about all the normal dentist stuff and gave them each a toothbrush, toothpaste, coloring booklet and stickers. From that day on he has asked to go to see his Dentist.

I made the appointment for as soon as I could but of course there was a wait. During the wait I didn't mention it at all. Starting Monday of this week I casually dropped the appointment into a conversation. Wednesday we talked more in depth and then on Thursday we talked about what to expect. By Friday morning he was telling me he was going to the dentist and he was really excited.

We got there a few minutes before our appointment. I usually like to arrive about 15 minutes early but I didn't want Joshua to get to involved in the toys or lose his excitement. This is a picture of him waiting.

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When we were called in Joshua checked out everything. He is so visual that it's hard for him to pass by sights unseen. He spied some sunglasses in the room and asked for them. This is him wearing the glasses while getting his teeth scraped.

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The hygentist did a great job of explaining everything before she did it and if Joshua were not autistic it would have been perfect. People tend to be too wordy and fewer word are better. For instance, when she squirted the water into his mouth and then put the suction in she would say, "okay, now close your lips around this tube." I sort of translated. I would simply say, "close mouth." Autistic kids tend to get lost in the words.

Joshua did really well with the entire experience. He handled the cleaning with no issue at all. I was worried about the vibration of the polisher but he didn't seem to mind. This is a picture of the cleaning.

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When the cleaning was done he received his new toothbrush and a sticker. This was the highlight of the visit. Now we had to wait for the dentist. This took a few minutes and Joshua's interest was fading fast.

When the Dentist came in Joshua did pretty well. I prompted him to say hi and he did. He really didn't want to sit still but did great. This isn't the greatest picture but it shows Joshua being examined by the Dentist.

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He didn't have any cavities so he won't go back for 6 months. He really did super. I was very proud of him and I believe that he was happy with the whole experience.

Mitchell has been going to the dentist for a year now. Sometimes there is no reason to rush into experiences that may cause anxiety. I'm glad we waited.

One of the deals I made with Joshua over going to this appointment was a trip to the dollar store and me posting these pictures on my blog. I don't usually make deals but wanted today to be special for him. At the dollar store he spent his own money to buy a doctor kit. He spent the rest of the day pretending to be a dentist.

One sock down... no second sock syndrome for me!!?

I have finsihed one sock for Joshua and am working on sock #2. It is so hard to do socks, not from a knitting stand point but from a losing interest angle. My motivation is Joshua, patiently asking over and over and over again when his socks will be done.

I've gotten a few comment asking what yarn I used for the socks. I ordered this from Mary Maxim. It was on sale and I don't know if they carry it all the time or not but it is very nice with vibrant colors.

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A closer view without cuff. I haven't tried it on Joshua yet and I'm hoping it will fit.

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I received a lot of advice and I so appreciate it. You are all so wonderful!

Buttonhole Bag nicely felted!

I'm quite happy with the results of this bag. It turned out great. I used the lighter blue on the bottom but I'm not sure why. You can't see it unless you purposely look at it from the bottom. I've bought some new yarn to do another one.

This is the bag standing up...
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A view of the bag flat...
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The pattern is from Mason Dixon Knitting with a few of my own modifications. If you are making this and you are careful during the drying process you can form it so that it will stand on it's own. You might already know that but just in case I wanted to share!

Lucy Bag

I have been working on a Lucy Bag from Two Old Bags. I'm using Cascade 220 and it's slow going. Mainly I'm working on a lot of little projects in the middle of this one. It seems quite lacy and I just don't know how it will felt. I'm using the yarn that it calls for but it doesn't seem right. I think that's why I'm not working harder on it.

This is my progress so far...
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This shows how lacy it looks.
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It's a pretty large project so I'm nervous to keep going at this point. I may take another skein and do a swatch to see how it felts.

Good Intentions

I really wanted to get in some posts today with tons of pics but instead I will work. They called me because they had someone call in sick. My first response is... No. I have problems with my back and long days on my feet tend to be an issue. I said I would let them know. Anyway, long story short, I'm heading into work early:-(

As a teaser for my later posts I will leave you with some pictures of the progress I am making on socks for Joshua. He picked out the yarn and is very excited. He looked at where I was and said, "Mommy, my feet are bigger, keep going." So helpful.

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I actually have this sock done but I just don't have time to post that pic. Please check back later and I will have more. I will also post my Autism entry on going to the Dentist.

Question for all sock experts out there. Do you have to block socks and why and how? Leave a comment is you can answer or click on email in the right hand column. Thanks in advance. Have a great day!

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Fiber troubles and love...

I've been spinning for a short time now and don't spend as much time as I should practicing. I've been working on some fiber that was from Brown Sheep Co. I had two bags of it and the first bag spun up okay. It wasn't great and I had some problems with drafting. The second bag is, well...

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...it's a mess. Half of it is passable but the rest is just bad. Maybe if I had more experience it would be okay but for this newbie it just ain't happening. I've decided to put it aside for now and see if experience helps.

Last night I went to Friends of Wool for an open spin. I have never actually spun around anyone that knows how to spin. I struggle with going to new places so I was totally nervous.

I learned a lot. Number one I learned that the fiber I had to spin was considered a top and probably not the best thing for a beginner. I worked on it for a while without much luck. When I asked about other fiber they brought out something else for me to try. This stuff spun up so easily. I was able to spin a really consistent ply and was loving this stuff.

The fiber that they gave me to try was Bluefaced Leicester. By the far the best stuff I had ever used. I didn't want to stop spinning it. I asked about buying some and was able to pick up 2 pounds of it. I'm tempted to go back and get more. Yeah, it's that nice!

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I also picked up a couple bundles of Baby Alpaca. It's soft as buttah!

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I'm glad that I stepped out of my comfort zone. I learned a lot from these women and I'm going to try to go back more often. I may even take a begining spin class.

Buttonhole Bag Progress

I finished my buttonhole bag over the weekend but am just now getting around to posting pics. It's still in it's pre-felted stage. I was able to get it felted this morning but I'm waiting for it to dry. So, without further ado...

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The third time was the charm with a few pattern rewrites. This was a fun bag to knit and I already have some BSC Lamb's Pride for my next one. Hopefully tomorrow I will get the finished product on line for your enjoyment.

April is Autism Awareness Day - Day 13 & 14

The following is an article that I received via email. I feel it is a good outline of what

Is this Autism?

Think of the person(s) you know on the autism spectrum. Do they have:

speech or language difficulties: no speech? delayed speech? echolalia?

sensory issues: over-sensitivity to sounds, lights, textures?

motor difficulties: fine motor? gross motor? motor planning?

emotional regulation difficulties: anxiety, depression, aggressive behavior?

physical or diet-related difficulties: allergies, limited diet?

repetitive behaviors: “stimming”, hand-flapping?

While “autism treatment” programs may target these areas of difficulties, all of the above are really co-occurring conditions, existing along with the autism. An individual could have all of the above, and not actually be on the autism spectrum at all.

So what is Autism?

Again, think of the person(s) you know on the spectrum:

1) Can they share experiences with you? For example, if they are non-verbal, can they share their emotional reactions to a mutual experience by smiling or laughing with you? If they are verbal, can they also share their feelings about what an event meant to them personally?

2) Can they borrow your perspective? For example, if they don’t know how to handle something, can they look to you to help them resolve uncertain or ambiguous situations? Can they be soothed by just a reassuring look on your face? or notice if you are approving or disapproving?

3) Can they “dance” with you? For example, can they do their part in coordinating with you when playing“peek-a-boo”? When walking side by side with you? Can they start or stop with you? If verbal, can they converse reciprocally?

4) Can they reflect on past experiences & anticipate future experiences? For example, can they use an experience they had yesterday or last week, to avoid a negative result or repeat a positive one? Do they seem to understand consequences?

5) Can they “go with the flow”? For example, if plans change, can they easily adapt to new conditions? Can they see things in shades of gray, rather than in black and white?

What autism researchers have found in the last five to ten years, is that it is a combination of these five core areas of difficulty above, which define Autism Spectrum Disorders: (1) Declarative, experience-sharing Communication, (2) Referencing, (3) Regulating, (4) Episodic Memory, and (5) Flexible Thinking.

Impaired Social & Emotional Functioning
It is actually these areas of impaired social and emotional functioning which present the greatest obstacle to quality of life for people with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). And the devastating impact that these impairments have throughout the lifespan has been well documented.*

Even when individuals with ASD do develop some social and emotional skills such as eye contact, emotion recognition, and turn-taking, these skills appear to be contained within a limited domain, characterized by encounters that are managed using scripted, predictable actions bereft of the emotional components of communication. Moreover, these encounters are driven primarily by the desire to use social and communicative behavior for instrumental purposes; that is, as a means to obtain specified goals.

Regardless of language abilities, IQ, academic success, or the presence of other co-occurring symptoms, individuals with Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome or Pervasive Developmental Disorder have difficulties in:

Declarative (Experience-sharing) Communication: If they are non-verbal, they may point to get what they want, and if they are verbal, they may ask questions, make demands or talk at length about their special interest, but verbally or non-verbally, they have an inability to share their experiences and feelings with you.

Referencing: They may learn to recognize and label various facial expressions, or be taught “eye contact,” but they can’t “borrow your perspective” to help them resolve situations of uncertainty.

Regulating: They may learn to follow procedures and scripts, but can’t “dance” with you, in back and forth interactions, if you are being spontaneous or unpredictable.

Episodic (autobiographical) memory: They may have good rote or procedural memory, but lack the kind of personal memory which allows them to reflect on past experiences or anticipate future ones.

Flexible Thinking: They may understand rule-based thinking, or use black-and-white thinking, but can’t rapidly adapt, change strategies or alter plans based on changing circumstances, think of multiple right answers, know when something is “good enough” or see “shades of gray.”

The RDI® Program addresses all these core areas of difficulties identified by autism researchers* in a step-by-step, developmental way.

* For references, download the new Autism Spectrum Quarterly article by Dr. Steven Gutstein: “Relationship Development Intervention–Developing a Treatment Program to Address the Unique Social and Emotional Deficits in Autism Spectrum Disorders."

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

April is Autism Awareness Month - Day 11 & 12

Yesterday was the first day back to school from Spring Break. Joshua was so excited to go back. Being only 4, the bus comes to the end of our driveway. When it arrived we got ready to go out and I opened the door. The minute I got the screen door open Joshua was gone. He ran to that bus like Dash from the Incredibles. He never even looked back.

I spent a lot of time yesterday thinking about this. In a way it made me sad. I kept thinking that my baby is growing up. He doesn't need me anymore. Now I could have wasted the entire day being bummed about this but instead... I celebrated!

Independence is awesome:-) At the beginning of this journey I couldn't imagine a day when Joshua wouldn't need me. I couldn't envision a future at all. I was completely stuck in the day by day struggles. To see the rays of hope are priceless.

April is Autism Awareness Month - a reprisal...

I'd like to revisit yesterdays subject in order to clear up something. I want to say that I'm afraid I portrayed our Church as being less than caring. This cannot be further from the truth. They are, and have always been, wonderful with Joshua. The purpose of my story was to show everyone how important education is.

There is always a period of adjustment whenever you enter any child into a new situation, much less an autistic child. Yesterdays post was my account of that period of adjustment. My hope is that the next autistic, or special needs child to come into our Church will have an easy time of blending right into the program. I think we all learned a lot from this experience and it's knowledge that is always there to draw upon in the future.

Monday, April 11, 2005

April is Autism Awareness Month - Day 9 & 10

As I have been making these posts I have been working off of a list of ideas that I had brain-stormed. The list contains themes that I feel every non-autistic parent/person should know. The problem, I don't just want to write about topics... I want to share my passion. I need to feel moved to share my experiences, that is what today's posts are all about...

About a year ago our family began attending Ridge Point Community Church. Prior to this time we had not been attending Church so this would be a new experience for the boys. When we registered the boys I made sure that they knew that Joshua was Autistic. Joshua and Mitchell spent time in a Sunday School setting while we, along with Kris attended the service. It was a good situation for all.

One night I get a call from the head of the Children's Ministry. She was concerned about Joshua and how he was doing at Church. I probably took on a defensive attitude but felt like there was always a fight where Joshua was concerned. She suggested putting him in the nursery instead of the classroom. I took a moment to digest and to keep myself from saying something I would regret and simply said, "No". I went on to explain that if we put Joshua in the nursery we would be setting up the routine that he always went to the nursery. On top of that I felt the expectation was below his capability.

We continued to talk and I got a lesson I will never forget. When you tell someone your child is Autistic you typically get one of two reactions. Either they ask questions and want to understand what it means to be autistic or they write off that child and think to themselves 'Well, I won't expect much from him'. I had made the assumption that people would ask questions when they didn't know or understand something. That's not the case. Without meaning too, they had set the expectations so low for Joshua that they were now having behavior problems.

I couldn't blame them. I should have educated them but I thought everything was good. Now she is telling me that he won't sit for story time, he isn't doing the craft projects and he is disruptive. Even though he is not yet 4, something is not right here. I explain to her that Joshua has been going to school full time for almost a year and he does all of those things and more at his school. After some time I figured out that they had never expected him to do any of those things and, in my opinion, Joshua lived up to the expectation.

The question became what do we do now? We were asked to commit to attending one service. Our Church has 3 identical services... 6pm Saturday, 9am and 11am Sunday. We for the most part were coming on Saturday but attended Sunday if we were unable to be there Saturday. I committed to Saturday because it was the best for Joshua and Kris. At that time Saturday services were smaller and it was a lot less stressful for both of the boys.

The head of Children's Ministry wanted to have an aid for Joshua and though I was not against it I had a different idea. I recommended a visit from Joshua's current school. They could come in and help them to understand how to motivate Joshua to do what they were expecting. She was willing to try it but seemed to really want an aid. I simply asked that we try this and see how it goes. That's where we left it.

A week or so later Joshua's teacher from Ottawa Area Center came to the rescue! Linda attended a service and though I don't know exactly what she did, I haven't received anymore phone calls. Joshua started bringing home crafts and when I ask him now what he learned at Church he tells me. He even came home this past weekend talking about another boys in his class, Conner.

I guess the point I am trying to make is that we should not make assumptions about a person's capabilities. It does no service to our kids to not set the same expectations as the neurotypical (non autistic) child. They may need accommodations made but then again, they may surprise you. Joshua has yet to back down from a challenge where his autism is concerned. Never sell them short, children don't know they can't do something until we tell them they can't.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

An explaination... excuse

I have not done my Autism posts the last couple of days and I felt like I needed to explain why. This cartoon should clear it up.

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Tomorrow I will post... Got chocolate?

Children and love languages...

I often find myself looking for answers as to why my kids do what they do. I picked up the book The Five Love Languages Of Children and some of my questions were answered.

My twins can be like night and day when it comes to personality. Mitchell lets you know that he loves you by drawing you pictures, lots of pictures. He "writes" letters and gives away his stuff so that he can show how much he cares. He was apparently filled with love when he decided to draw a mural on his closet door...

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The photo is blurry but it shows Mitchell learning a lesson on where we are allowed to draw and cleaning up his messes. He is using a Magic Eraser and without veering too far off subject, let me say that these are wonderful! The colored pencil wiped off with absolutely no problem. I can remember scrubbing to try to remove crayon from walls when my oldest was younger. Not fun.

My point? If I didn't know Mitchell's love language I would have probably blown up over the drawing. He wasn't intentionally trying to ruin his door, he was showing his love. Obviously I don't allow him to draw on anything he sees fit but I was able to understand and calmly help him to understand why we don't do that.

Joshua shows his love through physical contact. He has to be near you. He sits on my lap, plays with my hair, climbs in bed with me in the morning and becomes glued to me. I am so not complaining. A couple of years ago and Joshua wanted no part of physical contact. In some ways that is the biggest change in him with the progress he has made concerning his Autism.

On days when I am overly busy and I don't have (or make) time for contact with Joshua I see a big difference in him. He is whiny and withdrawn. I work hard to build in a few minutes here and there for us to sit together so that he can show that he loves me and so that he feels my love too. This is one of those times...

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I'm doing something in the bedroom and he is near by. He is especially happy because both myself and my husband are in the room. These are the moments that Joshua lives for.

As for my oldest. I'm just not sure. If I were to guess I would have to say he feels loved when he is 'receiving gifts'. He seems to show love in a variety of ways with no clear cut love language. Of course now that he is nearing 13 he seems to be changing daily. I'm going to try harder to figure this out.

Buttonhole Bag

I found the "unPattern" for a Bottonhole Bag on Mason-Dixon Knitting. It's such a cool blog. I love the concept. I started the bag last night while watching The Alamo.

It started out bumpy, I could not find circulars in a length that would work and I knew I had some. Come to find out DH was using them for a project. That is one of the drawbacks to having a knitting husband, you have to share:-( Finally I got the right equipment and I started to knit. I knit the base according to the directions with no major trouble. Then I started the sides. The bottom was knit with 2 strands held together but it didn't say whether to continue like that or not.

After some debate I decided it should be single strand and off I went. I got about 3 inches up the side and changed my mind. The pattern calls for 3 skeins. Two plus a small part of the 3rd. If I made my bag single strand I would have an entire skein left over. Obviously I screwed up. So... I ripped.

Now, second try, I am back where I was when I ripped and I'm thinking everything is good. I stop there for the night and figure I can finish the bag today. I got up early with the boys and I sit down to start again. Two rounds later I glance at the pattern and something catches my eye. Back when I started the sides it said to knit one round then do a round of increases. Below that it said to repeat those TWO rounds TWO more times. Apparently the 2 two's blended together cause yep, you guessed it, I didn't knit between those rows. Looking back it looks like crap. You really can't increase on top of increases. Maybe it was the movie but I'm suckin' here. So... I ripped.

I've got a double strand, I'm knitting a row between my increases and I'm caught back up with where I last ripped from. So far so good. I can't tell you how stupid I feel. One thing I have learned is that no matter how good you think you are at reading patterns, you actually have to read it. There are differences in writing style that can throw you off when you think you know more than the person that wrote it. Ok, I learned my lesson, enough already!

This is my "3rd time is a charm" progress.

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Promised picture

This is the picture of the Chinchilla Scarflet that I knit. As I said in a previous post, I'm none too fond of this fiber. It doesn't look that bad in this photo but when I put it on... no.

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Saturday, April 09, 2005

Chinchilla Sucks!

Just my humble opinion... not trying to offend. I gave the chemo cap a chance and I simply could not do it. It's knit from the top down starting with 3 stitches. I could not see where I was and I kept losing my DPNs and to be honest, I gave up.

I did however knit the Keyhole Scarflet. I was able to figure out when to knit and purl, something that is difficult due to the texture of the yarn. I finished the scarf and well... not my thing. Maybe it's the color, maybe it's just me. The real clincher, DRY CLEAN ONLY. That is totally unrealistic. I know Berroco makes a lot of other very nice yarns but Chinchilla is not for me.

I will post a picture tomorrow of my scarflet. Until then, ta ta!

Friday, April 08, 2005

Now Norma Knits Hat

I found the pattern for this hat on Now Norma Knits. It seemed like a neat little hat. I used some acrylic yarn that I had hanging around and knit it according to her directions. It went fairly fast... size US15 circs with a double strand of worsted weight yarn. My boys must have huge heads because I couldn't fold up the brim. For the next one I do I'll cast on maybe 10 more and work for 6" longer. All in all it's a great pattern and if I had kids with normal size noggins I think it would be perfect!

This is the hat at it's full length.

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This shows the hat with the brim folded up.

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This is the ever so handsome, not usually so still,
Joshua modeling said hat. He is my little helper.

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I'm going to start on a chemo cap next but will come back to this one soon. A special thank you to Norma for sharing the pattern.

My New Booga Bag

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was going to live dangerously and not do a sample swatch to check how much my yarn would felt. Well... it felts very, very well. It was a bulkier yarn than the pattern called for and I figured it wouldn't shrink as much since it was knit tighter. My thinking was that it would make a very dense fabric.

It started out like this...

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I used my new mesh bag. It worked soooooo good. I picked it up at Kmart, part of the Martha Stewart Home Collection. I never go to Kmart so this was kind of a surprise find. It is a super fine mesh that holds in all the fuzzies but lets the water pass through easily. I love this bag!

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The final product. It really shrunk. The difference in 3 minutes was huge. It wasn't doing anything and then... BOOM! Marjorly felted. I like the fact that it is stiff enough to stay open. That'll make finding things inside easier. The yarn made all of these tiny loops on the bag. I don't know if it will show if you click on the picture but it looks wild. I usually brush the bag out with a cat brush but I'm not sure I want to get rid of the loops.

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For those of you with attention to detail you might notice that I strung the handles up wrong. I couldn't figure out why it didn't seem right and then my DH pointed out my mistake. Oh well, at least I'm not completely crazy.

Answers to Autism Quiz...

If you answered 'FALSE' to all you are 100% correct.

The questions with answers:

1. If a child is not functionally fluent by their 5th birthday, they will remain mute, so it is critical that developing speech be the first goal for a non-verbal child.

False.

Without an interest in coordinating actions and perceptions with a partner, or learning about others' internal experiences, speech alone without a solid foundation in non-verbal communication becomes a vehicle for chaos, or a means to control others.



2. If you teach a child enough words, he or she will be able to have reciprocal conversations.

False.

Language without communicative intent can actually be a major obstacle in developing reciprocal conversations, so it is critical to work on speech and language development only within the context of genuine emotion-sharing and social referencing.



3.It is important to teach eye contact to children with autism so they can be successful in social relationships.

False.

While eye contact can be taught as a rote skill, this would be like teaching a severely dyslexic child to pretend to read. If we just work on eye contact, the child doesn't learn to reference. Instead the child just learns to look, without intent to use the facial information that's being presented. However, children on the autism spectrum can learn to reference quite naturally, if we start by providing them the motivations for doing so.



4. ABA (Lovaas, Discrete Trials) and other interventions have been proven effective for treating autism, and children who have undergone these treatments have been followed to see how they do as teens & adults.

False.

Studies on ABA or other early interventions have not used core deficits of autism as outcome measures and there have been no teenage or adult outcome studies of children treated with those methods.



5. If a child can be taught to “fit in” and superficially appear normal, he or she will be able to make friends.

False.

Friendship skills are actually a highly advanced form of social communication, requiring a solid foundation of emotion-sharing, referencing, and co-regulation, all of which are core deficits of those with autism. However, individuals on the autism spectrum can actually learn all these skills and can go far beyond "fitting in," if given the opportunity to do so with a competent guide.



6. Social skills groups are effective in teaching people on the spectrum to have relationships.

False.

A number of studies have shown social skills groups are ineffective in teaching people on the spectrum to have relationships or to generalize Theory of Mind skills outside the treatment setting.



7. Individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome have a better prognosis for quality of life than people with Autism.

False.

While it is a common belief that individuals who have Asperger's Syndrome, (those with no language delays and an average to high IQ) enjoy a better prognosis for quality of life, all three major outcome studies to date have shown this to be false.



8. Mainstreaming & academic progress are signs of a good prognosis and if a child can get into college, he or she can go on to have a pretty normal life.

False.

The outcome studies showed that academic ability to participate in post-secondary education did not result in higher levels of independent living. In fact, one of Howlin's studies showed that adults on the spectrum with IQs over 100 were actually less successful in quality of life than people with IQs between 70 and 100.



9. If a child spends most of his time focused on developing his computer skills, someone will want to hire him someday, regardless of his ability to collaborate & work as part of a team.

False.

Computer skills alone have little value in the marketplace. Robert Bailey, President and CEO of PMC-Sierra, says hi-tech employers look for employees with teamwork and communication skills, plus the ability to solve problems quickly and creatively in extremely fast-paced environments where change is constant.



10. People with autism may not have the same emotional or social needs as everyone else. They might be happy living a life without friendships and intimate emotional relationships.

False.

Adults on the autism spectrum are not "aliens" with different needs. Many have said they desire the same things we all do: Joy. Friendships. True allies. Marriage. Comfortable work environments. Confidence in managing their worlds. By stopping, slowing down and becoming competent guides, we can help individuals on the spectrum make the amazing discoveries which will allow these needs to be met.



Did you think it was hard? Were there a lot of answers that you didn't know? Sometimes being blissfully unaware is a comfort. I understand not knowing. Prior to my boys' diagnosis I didn't really know. I had seen some movies dealing with Autism and had a general idea but I didn't "need to know"... until.

I believe that if "we" started educating people, be it parents, teachers, doctors, better we would be able to intervene earlier with more successful outcomes. I say "we" because I, myself, must be part of educating as well. My experience is that teachers learn about Autism when they have an autistic child in their class. That's too late. By the time they are up to speed the year is half over. My opinion? All educators and anyone and everyone in the schools need, at minimum, a baseline understanding of these kids. I'm talking about the lunch ladies, the recess monitors, the secretaries... EVERYONE. Often it is the unstructured classes and times during the day that cause autistic/asperger kids the most trouble.

This whole month will be me, up on my "soapbox," screaming for someone to hear what I have to say. I don't see myself as making a huge difference but changing one life is huge! My prayer is that everyone who reads these posts will have their life changed just by the knowledge that they gain. Thanks for taking the time to read my story. It means the world to me.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

April is Autism Awareness Month - Day 7

Today I bring you a quiz to test your knowledge and to hopefully raise awareness. Later today or tomorrow I will post the answers. The quiz is from an email that I received from RDI Connection. Good luck! Don't worry, I won't be grading you on this.


True or False?

1. If a child is not functionally fluent by their 5th birthday, they will remain mute, so it is critical that developing speech be the first goal for a non-verbal child.

2. If you teach a child enough words, he or she will be able to have reciprocal conversations.

3. It is important to teach eye contact to children with autism so they can be successful in social relationships.

4. ABA (Lovaas, Discrete Trials) and other interventions have been proven effective for treating autism, and children who have undergone these treatments have been followed to see how they do as teens & adults.

5. If a child can be taught to “fit in” and superficially appear normal, he or she will be able to make friends.

6. Social skills groups are effective in teaching people on the spectrum to have relationships.

7. Individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome have a better prognosis for quality of life than people with Autism.

8. Mainstreaming & academic progress are signs of a good prognosis and if a child can get into college, he or she can go on to have a pretty normal life.

9. If a child spends most of his time focused on developing his computer skills, someone will want to hire him someday, regardless of his ability to collaborate & work as part of a team.

10. People with autism may not have the same emotional or social needs as everyone else. They might be happy living a life without friendships and intimate emotional relationships.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

April is Autism Awareness Month - Day 6

I received this wonderful email today with a link to something that is very relavent for my month of sharing. I am not going to copy the entire article but I will send you to it. The article is quite long but worth the read. I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe day.

Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

April is Autism Awareness Month - Day 4 & 5

No, I didn't get a chance yesterday to post and that is the subject of today's combined message.

After you have children you hear everyone talking about how important routines are for you and your baby. I agree to a point. Autistic kids love routines and mine are no exception. The problem that I personally have run into is that routines do not help my kids be flexible.

Both Joshua and Kris are comforted by knowing exactly what is going to happen next throughout their day. I run into problems anytime we become to tied to a routine and something changes. When Kris was younger I never told him what we were going to do for the day because once I did it was set in stone (as far as he was concerned) and we could not deviate from that plan.

There are a lot of ideas on ways to help autistic kids with this issue. I've tried schedules that are written in pencil. When something comes up I change his schedule and try to explain that sometimes things happen that we can't control. With Joshua I do the now/next thing. I say now we are doing this and next we will do that. It helps at times like when he is excited about going outside when it's dinner time.

I find the worse cause for problem is going to the Dr/Dentist. My son believes that is the appointment is at 2pm and we arrive at 1:45 we should be with the Dr/Dentist by 2pm. It can cause some massive anxiety with each passing minute. But it's a life lesson.

I know that to some extent all kids deal with this and probably some adults too. It's not exclusive to Autism and is worth dealing with early in life.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Yes, I still knit...

I've been knitting on some dishcloths but am pulling out some yarn to start a new Booga Bag today. My Aunt is visiting from West Virginia and really liked mine. She would like me to show her how to make it. It's one of those cases where I am not sure she actually wants to make one or she just wants mine. I will be prepared to teach or to gift.

I know a lot of you that read my blog are not necessarily interested in Autism so I ask that you please be patient with my daily posts. Maybe there is someone you could share my blog with that would be interested. I have gotten a lot of wonderful feedback to my posts and I am convinced that there is a reason that I am compelled to spill out these stories. It hasn't always been comfortable for me. As I go on into the month I have topics that will be even harder to face but I know it's worthwhile.

This is the yarn that I will be using for my Booga Bag. I've never used this yarn for felting before, I was assured that it worked wonderfully. I'm living dangerously and not swatching so wish me well.

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Sunday, April 03, 2005

April is Autism Awareness Month - Day 3

In the last few minutes of the 3rd day of this month I will leave you with this factoid...

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I may have two sons who are on the Autism Spectrum but they are very different from one another. There is no one definition that encompasses all autistic people. I warn us all to not begin to think that we have all or any of the answers. I take it day by day and adapt my strategies to fit whatever situation comes our way. What works for my boys may work for other AS kids but chances are, it won't. My boys are wonderful and special kids, my only job is to help them fulfill there destiny and be the best that they can be.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

April is Autism Awareness Month - Day 2

I've spent most of the day thinking about my next subject. I have a list of topics I would like to cover. I decided to talk a little about Asperger's Syndrome because of a comment I received.

Like most of you the first time I heard the words Asperger Syndrome I did not know what it was. Not wanting to appear stupid I didn't ask... something I have learned to not worry about. I went home and started searching the internet. I came across a good many sites that gave a clinical explanation and some diagnostic criteria. This worked for me but may not be the best way to enlighten all of you. I have since found a fairly good explanation...


Asperger's Syndrome is a term used when a child or adult has some features of autism but may not have the full blown clinical picture. There is some disagreement about where it fits in the PDD spectrum. A few people with Asperger's syndrome are very successful and until recently were not diagnosed with anything but were seen as brilliant, eccentric, absent minded, socially inept, and a little awkward physically.

Although the criteria states no significant delay in the development of language milestones, what you might see is a "different" way of using language. A child may have a wonderful vocabulary and even demonstrate hyperlexia but not truly understand the nuances of language and have difficulty with language pragmatics. Social pragmatics also tend to be weak, leading the person to appear to be walking to the beat of a "different drum". Motor dyspraxia can be reflected in a tendency to be clumsy.

In social interaction, many people with Asperger's syndrome demonstrate gaze avoidance and may actually turn away at the same moment as greeting another. The children I have known do desire interaction with others but have trouble knowing how to make it work. They are, however, able to learn social skills much like you or I would learn to play the piano.

There is a general impression that Asperger's syndrome carries with it superior intelligence and a tendency to become very interested in and preoccupied with a particular subject. Often this preoccupation leads to a specific career at which the adult is very successful. At younger ages, one might see the child being a bit more rigid and apprehensive about changes or about adhering to routines. This can lead to a consideration of OCD but it is not the same phenomenon.

Many of the weaknesses can be remediated with specific types of therapy aimed at teaching social and pragmatic skills. Anxiety leading to significant rigidity can be also treated medically. Although it is harder, adults with Asperger's can have relationships, families, happy and productive lives.


This definition comes from a website that contains a lot of valuable information. It was written by Lois Freisleben-Cook's and was originally a post to the Listserv Autism Newsgroup. There is no one definition that will completely explain Asperger Syndrome. You must take the time to research a lot of different sources including books, internet and professionals in order to become more knowledgeable.


For me, learning what Asperger Syndrome was turned out to be a major lightbulb moment. An "aha" that finally made sense to me. You see, my oldest son Kris had been diagnosed with ADHD but it never felt quite right. There was more going on but I could never quite put my finger on it.

My figuring out the answer did not help the process. I didn't know what to do and while I was working on figuring that out fate intervened. In the early part of 2003 during a period of time leading up to a standardized test at my son's school he finally cracked under the pressure. He couldn't handle the pressure and told me that he wanted to kill himself. He had felt for a while that he was different, that he had no friends and that he didn't want to go on.

Kris spent 6 days at an in-patient hospital. When I spoke with his doctor I mentioned Asperger's Syndrome and she said they would look into it. They did screen him for it and I didn't have much home of anyone listening to what I thought. The Psychologist that did a background history with me was less than enthusiastic because she was under the impression that Kris' original doctor did not believe it was AS. That is true, she felt he was Bi-Polor. After my phone call from the Psychologist she interviewed Kris. She called me back right away and pretty much apologized. She stated that she saw clear evidence of AS and recommended that I follow up with the school.

The next battle I faced was with the school. They were "too busy" and lacked the resources to retest him at the time. This didn't sit well with me. I paid out of pocket for Kris to go to a yet another psychologist and have the testing done in order to get a diagnosis.

I received the same attitude from this dr as all the others. No one wanted to believe that I could possibly be right. I mean after all, I did not go to college for x number of years... I was only a mother. The lesson I learned from this experience was perserverance with a load of patience. Kris went through the testing and several weeks later I returned for the results.

I have to admit, I went there with an attitude. I expected the worst and I was prepared. What I didn't envision was this dr telling me that I had been absolutely right. I was floored. It felt good to be right and to have some recognition of the fact that I actually know my own son but I was also devastated... because I was right. With both Kris and Joshua I kept hoping that someone would tell me I was wrong, that there was nothing going on, they were perfectly fine. No one ever said that and I had to learn to deal with what lie ahead.

I know this was a super long post. It can be a long and difficult road to a diagnosis and I hope that by sharing our personal and painful story I may help another.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Flash Your Stash!!!

This is a fair representation of my stash. The only thing missing is the wool roving and the tote with weaving yarn in it is now packed full. This also does not include my DH's stash. Looking at this makes me realize why I cannot go to Threadbear tonight... I must... knit... from... stash.

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I'm knitting CABLES!

I have always been fasinated by cables but for some reason way to afraid to try them. In cart form they look so complicated and in written form it's all Greek to me. I watched an episode of Knitty Gritty all about Aran knitting and figured that I could do that. I didn't start with an Aran Sweater but I am working on a dishcloth with cables. It took me a few tries before deciding on a cable needle that I liked. I tried a straight one but I was too afraid I would lose my stitches. In the end I went with the cable needle that looks like a "U". I'm sure it has a real name but I don't know what that would be. This is the dishcloth I am doing...

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I can't wait to try other types of cables. Who knew it would be so much fun to watch them "magically" appear.

Childproofing and Autism

My DS Joshua is Autistic and his older brother Kris has Asperger's Syndrome. April is Autism Awareness month so I will be posting on this subject all month long. Today's inspiration came from a incident this morning involving Joshua and his twin brother Mitchell.

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We have child proof door knob covers on all of the outside doors in our home.

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My boys are almost 5 and I'd love to get rid of them but I don't know if I can. Right now Mitchell knows how to open the doors with the covers on but he doesn't leave the house. My concern is with Joshua, without those covers I don't know how to keep him from leaving. This is a pretty normal concern for parents with Autistic kids. When my son Kris was 4 he climbed out his bedroom window and went to my parents house. Luckily they lived directly behind us but it was scary.

So this morning I hear Mitchell teaching Joshua how to open the door. I put a stop to the lesson but it's got me wondering what to do when he does figure it out. I'd like to say I have the answer but I don't. I can try some sort of lock higher up and work on teaching him not to leave without me knowing. We'll keep working on helping him to learn our address and be able to articulate it even if stressed. It may never come to be an issue but when you have an autistic child you learn to be overly prepared for anything and everything.

This is Joshua and his brother Mitchell.

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I hope that by sharing our families experiences it will help others to understand more fully what it means to be affected by Autism. Please share my link with anyone who might benefit.

Needle Felting

I gave needle felting a try and it worked okay. It felt somewhat awkward at first but that could have been the project. If I were working on a flat surface it might have been different. I will continue to try as time allows. This is a picture of an Easter Egg that I made. It is my own design, not that imaginative but it's a start.

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Weaving On!

I am making progress on my weaving sampler. I've done some tweed and basketweave and am getting ready to try something else. I'm working hard to get the process down while learning as much as I can. My loom is in my bedroom at the moment and I'd like to find a more permanent home for it so that I can use it more often. For now this picture shows my latest work...

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I can't believe it's Friday

Where did the week go? I have been blogging in my head all week but have not found the time to get it on the web. It's the first day of Spring Break for my boys and I'm thinking that time will be at an even higher premium. Add to that Daylight Savings time and I'm hurting. Let me say that I hate Daylight Savings time. I struggle with sleeping difficulties as it is and then to lose an hour really messes up my system. I know not everyone does DST so this rant is probably lost on you. I will leave you with this REMINDER...

Don't forget to spring forward
one hour at bedtime on Saturday
April 2!
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