Waiting for Godot, or maybe Bede

Bede typed this, printed it out and gave it to me and my niece, Sophia. She read it aloud, which pleased him greatly.

The following is word for word, by Bede Gleeson, autist, age 7.

So, you have a best very quick you been everything you like that now think about.

With a reason for a different one get do at see us.

Just have like thought be so that. You would think so, oh.

I had so just ever got someone was me did as with us.

color me impressed

This morning, as the children were cavorting in the living room on their weekly sugar high brought on by the Saturday morning ritual of Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs (we only consume cold cereal on Saturdays), the telephone rang. Guess who it was?

It was the Social Security Administration. Calling me. On a Saturday. To tell me that they owed Bede money. And could I come in on Tuesday and fill out some minor paperwork so they could get it to him as soon as possible.

I got up off the floor where I had fallen in shock and replied, “Who is this *really*?” No, actually I said “Really?” or something eloquent to that effect. Yes, really, she said. I needed to document how we’ve spent Bede’s SSI back payments and then she would be delighted to release the remainder to me. She was incredibly apologetic that it had been overlooked and she was unsure as to why that was the case.

Calling me! Owes Bede money!

Did I mention it was Saturday?


A boy and his logo

Bede loves the PBS logo. He draws endless comics of the PBS P-head on adventures with his fellow television and film logo pals, Viacom and Screen Gems. The DiC logo is usually the villain in the stories. I don’t know why. I myself find the Viacom V of Doom very creepy.

I have some of these to scan in. His volume is incredible. He produces about fifty drawings a day and it’s difficult for me to select the ones to show you. But that’s not why I’m blogging.

Last week, I ordered this for him from the PBS shop.


It came today.

I opened the box and peeked in. It was what I thought it was. I took it out of the packing materials. Bede was sitting next to me on the sofa, mildly interested in the boxes in my lap, but also watching Alice in Wonderland, backwards, in French.

“Hey, Bede. Look what I have!” I said.

He glanced my way, then did a double-take. His eyes widened and an enormous grin split his face. “Ho ho ho!” he chortled. He stood up and hopped in place.

“It’s for you. I got it for *you*, Bede.” I held it out towards him.

He moaned and ran across the room, hopped, then ran back. He was still smiling hugely. He whispered, so softly I could just hear him, “It’s PBS. On your *shirt*.”

“Do you want to put it on, Bede?” I asked.


So he did. I guided his head and arms to the correct spots and he looked down at his chest blissfully. He was near exploding from joy at this point. He ran to a window to see his reflection, then ran back to me.

“Do you like the shirt, Bede?” I asked, redundantly.

He flung himself into my lap and hugged me, smiling that incredible smile.

I’ll take that as a yes. I love you too, little boy.

he’s done it!

Just a quick note to say…

Bede brushed his own teeth tonight, the whole shebang!

We’ll slowly work toward putting the paste on by himself, but for now I say skill attained: CHECK! Woohoo Bede!

My previous posts on this:

[Introducing the process](http://www.feebeeglee.com/2010/04/autism-awareness-month-teeth.html)

[An update](http://www.feebeeglee.com/2010/05/toothbrushing-update.html)

Tomorrow, bring a spatula

That’s what Faith just misheard me say. The poor child must be addle-pated.

I’ve been reading The Shallows: What the internet is doing to our brains. It’s not good. I mean, the book is good – quick read, informative, engaging – but the Internet is not good. Reading it has cemented my feelings that we are changing from mostly-unschoolers to mostly-not. I knew we were moving that way but I was filled with self-doubt because I didn’t want to take away any choices from the children as far as how they wished to spend time. Now that I’m convinced that the Internet is rewiring their brains to suit it I’m convinced that I need to give them a better framework. I’d say we’ve moved fully into Charlotte Mason territory where we had heretofore been only dipping our toes, to mix a metaphor.

Just now, Bede said “Look. Mom. Come and See! Tell it to me on your computer!” and dragged me to his computer, where I was to read what he had typed. (it was a SpongeBob script) and then say “Oooh, cool.” The language was Dalek stilted but, some appropriate pronouns! Shared attention! He’s so awesome.

i have a post planned with the full list of medieval books we’re going to use. But now Gloria is crying! Dearie me.

Bede’s speech and language: June update

will you play with me?
you’re weck-ome.
ladies and gentlemen, it’s Mom! (applauds)

are all unprompted and unsolicited utterances of my oldest son, today! I think there are some changes going on in his language centers.

The other day he said “I love you too” when I said “I love you kids!” And last night we had a conversation, which is unheard (ha, ha) of.

I said “Hey, Bede. Are you tired?”

He said “No.”

I said “I’m tired. Are you sure you’re not tired?”

He said “Yeah. I am tired.” and yawned.

I said “Gloria and I are going to sit on the sofa. Do you want to sit on the sofa with us?”

He said “Yeah. I’m tired. I want to sit on the sofa.” and made no move towards the living room.

I said “Well, let’s go then, buddy,” and he was up and off to the sofa.

That’s more give and take conversation than I’ve ever had with him, I think. Mind you, he stiil sounds like a Dalek, with that charming flat autistic prosody and inflection. It’s very appealing.

Now he’s reading Calvin and Hobbes. What a cutie.

like a big pizza pie

I made pizza for dinner. I do that about twice a month, as scratch pizza is an undertaking, you see, and not one to be done lightly. Tonight I had help from this fellow here:


who looks much less ghostly in real light.

He came in as I was plopping the crust on the pan, and said “Mama is making bread. Hmmhn.”

I said, “It’s pizza.”

He said “PIZZA!” and was so overcome with excitement that he had to skip off and touch the laundry room wall, then come back.

I said, “Do you want to help me?”

He said, “Hmmhn! Help me.”

I said, “You need oil on your hands. Here is oil.” and spread the olive oil on his hands so he could help press the dough. He did so, pressing perhaps a bit too firmly, but trying so hard to do it just right. I let him do a little, then directed him to the sink while I finished. He washed his hands and dried them, with prompting, and I applied the sauce. He was watching, and deeply wanted to write in the sauce, but restrained himself. Then we did the cheese, which he did perfectly.

My favorite was the application of the pepperonis. He skittered off mid-cheese and I thought he was overwhelmed and done with the whole thing. I finished the cheese and was putting the pepperonis on when a little hand snaked in beside me and placed a slice next to mine. He had gotten a stack of them and proceeded to put them on, precisely, until there was no room for more.

We finished then, and I got on my knees to hug him. I said, “You made the pizza, Bede! You are a wonderful pizza maker!” and he smiled.

I took his picture and then we settled down to watch it bake. Now we’re going to eat it, and it will be the best pizza ever.

And that, my friends, *that’s amore*.

Worth a thousand words

No, no, this isn’t going to be my long-awaited picture post. Instead, it’s about picture books! On Twitter, Melissa Wiley mentioned the favorites at her house right now, and I started to reply with ours but quickly hit the 140 limit.

Gloria’s favorite is unquestionably “the big book!”, the HarperCollins Treasury of Picture Book Classics. According to Amazon, I purchased it a year and a half ago and I don’t think a day has gone by since that it hasn’t been read from. It is a great book, and a steal compared to purchasing the titles individually. Unlike many compendiums of kids’ books these are not abridged in word or illustration, nor are the illustrations reduced in size. The paper is heavy and holds up to repeated (and repeated!) readings, although I have had to tape the binding and use a bit of glue to hold the covers to the front papers. It consists of:

Goodnight Moon
Caps for Sale
Harold and the Purple Crayon
A Baby Sister for Frances
Leo the Late Bloomer
William’s Doll
If You Give A Mouse a Cookie
George Shrinks
Baby Says
From Head to Toe
Pete’s a Pizza

(The only one I could honestly do without is the very outdated William’s Doll. It introduced the idea that it was weird for boys to have dolls to my children which is what the story was trying to prevent. Heavy-handed writing is heavy-handed.)

Trixie is VERY into the whole If You Give A… series. Her favorite is If You Give a Pig a Party, but really any of them will do. Have you ever noticed the kids in those books look dismayed pretty quickly as they deal with the capricous whims of their charges? Heh heh. Welcome to my world, buddy.

Gilbert likes the Pigeon series, especially Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! Gilbert has the melodramatic nature of many five-year olds, and he simultaneously feels for the pigeon, who just wants to drive the bus, fer cryin’ out loud, and yet loves beyond reason the power of telling him NO. Great, great book.

Bede is all about Seuss and Eastman right now. His decoding skills are mad but his ability to follow a plot is significantly delayed, so he really likes books like The Cat in the Hat and similar. A favorite of his is The BIG Blue Book of Beginner Books, which has six stories in it:

Put Me in the Zoo
A Fly Went By
Are You My Mother?
Go, Dog. Go!
The Best Nest
It’s Not Easy Being a Bunny

Again, a steal to get them all for one price. Bede likes to read them all, out loud, to me and Gloria. My favorite is Go, Dog. Go! but I am also fond of A Fly Went By.

So, yeah, busted that 140 character limit pretty hard, huh?

HarperCollins Treasury of Picture Book Classics

If You Give a Pig a Party

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!

Big Blue Book of Beginner Books

toothbrushing update

Bede has requested toothbrushing on his own at least twice (“You want some brush your teeth? Okaysure, I getchoo some brush your teeth.”) and tonight allowed his entire mouth to be very thoroughly brushed, making appropriate “eee” and “aaah” sounds. Milestone! He’s not shown any interest in doing the brushing himself but I don’t care about that yet.

I feel like dental hygiene is especially important with Bede as he might be unable to articulate tooth problems before they become emergencies. Now that we’ve progressed to home brushing my next goal is a dental visit. It won’t be for months, and the first visit should be very short and maybe we can get him to let them count his teeth, no more. When he gets older I will definitely be getting sealants for him, even if he has to be sedated. I want everything to be very positive, and no forcing or coercing, you know? Better to have Bede After Dentist.

Autism Awareness Month: Repetitive behavior

*This doesn’t even touch on restricted interests, which goes hand in hand with repetitive behavior. That one gets its own post.*

Bede has never been a guy who’s much into toys. We recently rediscovered his favorite (such as it was) toy as an infant: it’s a device you can twist and shake that makes different dings and rattles depending on which part is manipulated. But Bede never did that; he just set it on the floor and spun it like a top. Over and over and over.

He went through a long period of playing with blocks, the classic kind that have alphabet letters printed on them. (That’s how we learned he knew what they all were, and their sounds.) He would line them up on the edge of the table and scream when they fell, then try again. Over and over and over.

When he got a little older, he started to watch television. He was tyrannical with the DVD player, and made it impossible to watch anything but what he wanted to watch, which was invariably the same program. Disney’s Very Merry Christmas Songs and Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas were the only thing on our TV for a year. Then the Cars root menu. Just the root menu! Over and over and over.

I have a theory about this sort of repetitive behavior (which has diminished greatly as Bede has gotten older.) I think he liked the utter sameness of one thing compared with the highly variable world around it. Was it the same movie if it was on when Faith was in the room? Yeah. How bout when he was eating pizza? Uh-huh. But wait, what if he was under a blanket on the sofa? If there were toys on the shelf? Yep. And so on. Over and over and over.

Up next: restricted interests – hyperlexia supreme!

Autism Awareness Month: Teeth

For Autism Awareness Month, I’ll be posting about life with autism. Tonight it’s about toothbrushing, which can be very difficult to accomplish with autistic children.

Bede has not had his teeth brushed for ten months. Yes, ten months. One night, I stupidly used an electric toothbrush and powerful mint toothpaste and he’s been against it ever since. I offered about once every two weeks to try to get him to agree to it and it has been frantic, panicked NO. However, I thought that maybe the move to the new house would help since everything here is “new”. I bought a new (non-electric!) toothbrush and some much milder toddler toothpaste and here’s how it went.

Me: Hey, I got a new toothbrush for you.

Bede: No, not a toothbrush.

Me: Yes, a toothbrush.


Me: -gets toothbrush, adds microscopic amount of Tom’s Silly Strawberry-

Bede: That’s Mama’s toothbrush.

Me: It’s Bede’s toothbrush.

Bede: NO. MAMA’S. TOOTHBRUSH. -pushes my hand to my mouth-

(*Notice he’s not leaving, though, which is why I pressed on*)

Me: Okay. My turn, then, your turn. -skims own teeth with brush- Say, “Eeeeee”

Bede: Eeee – NO.

Me: It’s okay. “Eeeeee”

Bede: Eeeee… -allows brush to touch his teeth and go back and forth for less than three seconds-

Me: Hey, Bede! Great toothbrushing! Way to GO, buddy!

Bede: (triumphantly) Good job! Toothbrushing! That’s Bede’s toothbrush!


It was SO HARD not to push my luck, and try to get him to open his mouth. But I know I can get there, and if I force the issue now, he might never let me near him with a toothbrush again. Over the next few weeks I’ll do a little more each time, brushing twice or three times a week. I’ll be simultaneously pushing him to do it himself. My goal is in six months to have a seven year old boy who can simply brush his teeth when told to do so.

update of randomness

Last November, I committed to baking all our bread and cookies. Since then, we have saved at least 25% of our former food budget each month! Go, me!

We’re in the other house now. I’ll get pictures sometime.

I’ve downloaded a few books to this netbook, with Kindle for PC. I like it very much with one problem… can’t lend the book! Going to be paper for me from now on. Didn’t Amazon have some deal where you could buy the digital rights for a few bucks extra after buying a paper copy? I might do that sometimes if I Just Couldn’t Wait.

Going to go check on dinner now. Venison, carrots, potatoes and fresh whole wheat bread. NOM.

same old same old

Not particpating in a discussion doesn’t mean it won’t happen. I guess discussion isn’t the right prase. I’m talking about something that has no established dialogue.

I’m so tired. Autism and homeschooling are being debated. What will happento the autistic children today, when they become adults who still need support, help? The people today are deciding that, with radically different agendas. Saying they all want what’s best for their kids doesn’t cover it, when the “best” in question (or the Best, which is another story!) is not agreed upon.

In Oklahoma there are two bills introduced that would curtail homeschooling freedom. One is a pain in the neck – yearly registration. It won’t pass but it wouldn’t be a big deal if it did. Sure, chinks in walls, etc etc. But still. The other one says that homeschoolers have to provide appropriate education to their kids, where appropriate is defined as the same subjects and the same time spent as a public school. That would bring Oklahoma into the select group of states that are horrible to homeschool in. It won’t pass either.

But I’m tired. I don’t want to fight. Why do these things happen? Sigh.

Alarmingly Buttery Brown Sugar Cookies

We made these today. Bede loves rolling the little dough balls in sugar (we used red, green and white) and we have now eaten enough to be faintly ill. Oof. He got so into it though, the whole process of dough ball to sugar to sheet, and patiently waited his turn between the other kids. Good times.

Brown Sugar Sugar Cookies – Large Family Edition

5.5 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups butter
2.5 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
Small amount of white sugar for garnish, optional

Make sure the butter is really soft. Cream the butter and the brown sugar, then add the eggs. Add the flour a cup or two at a time, and add the baking soda and powder along the way. Roll the dough in tablespoon-sized balls, then roll in sugar if you like. Place on baking sheet and bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Makes a lot, but we ate too many to get an accurate count, sorry. 80 cookies? 90?

One day at a time

Having a rough time around here these days. I don’t post much about the extremely difficult times parenting an autistic child can bring, in large part out of fear that I am invading Bede’s privacy, but I don’t want to mislead anyone into thinking that it is all roses here all the time.

In the last month Bede has had difficulty regulating his sensory needs and has been mentally and emotionally inflexible. It started with the toilet woes we experienced. I thought it would improve once it was fixed (ish) but it has gotten worse. He is having meltdowns several times a day and sensory seeking in very problematic ways. He’s biting the skin off of the soles of his feet. He’s unable to move past things without a lot of upset for all.

I’m really worn out.

Usually, he goes through a period of dysregulation and then has an enormous developmental gain. Kind of an autistic quantum leap. The last time this happened he learned to use the toilet consistently, began wearing clothes and taught himself to transliterate Arabic and Hebrew. I told a friend today that he was in safe mode, where none of the network settings are right and the resolution is all weird. But soon he’d reboot and be a whole new version of his OS! She said I was a nerd. I don’t know what will happen this time. I have a feeling it will be a good thing overall for Bede but is so hard for him right now.

When you live this life that I live you have to learn to let go of your expectations. To be pleased when something changes in a positive way and not dismayed by it remaining the same or regressing. I’d say it’s very Zen if I knew what that meant. But I don’t.

I’m still learning to let go of expectations. A while back I let go of the one that said my oldest son would do anything more than what he can do today. I try to be just fine with Bede as he is right this very minute; if he doesn’t change I’m okay with that.

That took a long time to be okay with.

Now I have to learn to let go of another expectation, ironic in light of the first: that Bede will always be the way he is today. Because the other side of that first expectation is the assumption that there will only be stasis or forward motion, no backsliding. We’re backsliding here. I knew intellectually that that’s very common in autistic children but I wasn’t ready for it.

So anyway, that’s where we are, and why I’m quiet. Trudging the road of happy destiny and loving my beautiful kids where they are, all of them.

food dye: why, again?

We’ve had a rough day. It may be confirmation bias showing to say what I think is the reason why: food coloring. Today, for the first time is a long time, the kids had copious amounts of your friends and mine: FDC Red 40, Blue 1 and Yellows 5 and 6. And Gilbert and Bede were, ah, difficult to parent today.

So there’s that. Or they could be coming down with something. Or maybe they’re just Little Boys 5 and 6.

Ah, Gloria wants to nurse. Perhaps I’ll write more later. Project: Mittens 2009 is coming along nicely, for those playing along at home. I’ll get pictures tomorrow when the light is nicer.

know your market

Some LDS missionary boys came to visit today. They’re so cute. It kills me that they’re “Elder” when I’m twice their age. One was Elder Bill and the other was Elder L-something-Venezuelan. They were pleased with my large brood and the fact that we homeschool, and no doubt disappointed that we’re staunchly RC.

Bede was very interested in them because they offered him a book and some prayer cards but mostly because they had nametags. “ELDER BILL ON YOUR BLACK PIN!!!!” he noted, and then in a delighted undertone, “Helvetica. Mmmhnnmm!”

That’s my boy.

go with the flow in more ways than one

The plumbing issue continues to plague us; we have misaligned pipes. With a little lip of pipe for things to catch upon it’s no wonder we keep having trouble. I think we’re going to see about buying our own power auger.

Sean had a second interview today at the same joint he was at earlier. The intervening days have given me time to get used to the idea and I’m now 90% excited and 10% anxious, and officially hoping he gets the job. I reckon we’ll find out next week. He said the interview went well.

Tonight we had a simple potato soup and homemade bread. One of those delightful plain meals that get overlooked for more sophisticated fare. Potatoes, onions, milk, butter, salt. Honestly, what’s not to love? I made enough to feed our army with a bit left over and then some – I had planned to feed my niece and her boyfriend as well as the Gleesons, and he was unable to make it. So there’s enough for lunch tomorrow as well! Yum. It’s especially good with grated cheddar in it.

Bede had another rough day. He seems to be ‘stuck’ more than he has been in the recent past, and gets more and more agitated as the perseveration goes on. I find that it’s very difficult to break him out of it once he gets started, and even if I do he’ll return to it later with renewed insistence and frustration. Whenever possible we have been trying to avoid situations where we have to bluntly say “no” and instead we are smoothing the way beforehand – keeping things he will become agitated about out of sight, attempting to compromise in the early stages of a ‘moment’ and so forth.

I am not unconditionally saying okaysure! i getchoo whatever it is you want! because I don’t like the precedent it sets in his mind: if I am insistent enough, loud enough, physical enough, I will get what I want. Sometimes there are just “no” moments: you cannot sit on your siblings or assault their persons; you cannot eat food, chew it to a pulp and spit it on the stairs; you cannot do many things. And so on. So when they occur I try to Just Be with him, consistent and kind and empathetic.

The hardest part about these times, beyond the episodes themselves, is the uncertainty of the peace when everything is calm. Knowing that the calm can be shattered any moment by an upset seventy pound autistic boy is more than a little nervewracking. I am on edge and jumpy, which makes things even more tense, and Bede more likely to react in kind.

All the more reason to keep the peaceful, easy feelings in the fore…

There Are Cats In This Book

That’s the name of Bede’s favorite book. Have I discussed this before? I don’t think I have. It’s a REALLY GREAT BOOK. Did you like The Monster at the End of This Book? Then you’ll love this book. Bede acts it out constantly, redraws it with other beasts and beings (There Are PIXAR Lamps In This Book, etc) and it has given us a whole new world of bridging scripts upon which to drape deeper meaning. Abby has drawn several semi-sequels and derivative works. Faith still chuckles at it, at age nine. Trixie and Gilbert love it too.

Go buy it immediately. If you hurry, you can get it hardcover at bargain book price – $6.80. Go on, go!

Bede’s speech: October edition

Y’all liked these last time, so, here’s a few more.

Upon seeing one plate of regular and one of silver dollar:
Uppercase pancakes and lowercase pancakes!

Watching me wind yarn with a ball winder:
It’s zoetrope on your yarn!

Climbing a wrought-iron spiral staircase:
Bede! Climbing on your DNA!

After writing his name in the style and colors of Google:
BedeGleeson! Advanced Search! Language TOOOOOLS!

locked up

We have many more locks and gates in this house than most houses do. We’ve taken some down recently, but in the last year this would have been the house you’d see when you visited.

On our front door we have two locks. One is a sliding deadbolt set six feet up. That one is locked all the time, no exceptions. Underneath that we have a combination padlock. That one is locked whenever I leave the first floor of the house.

Moving on into the dining room you pass the stairs, where there’s a gate at the bottom. (All our gates are fully custom Gleeson jobs and are solid boards that slide in and out of place. There are rails for a gate in the doorway to the dining room, but we don’t keep that one up all the time.) So, now, in the dining room. We have rails installed behind the chairs so that babies can’t slide them out and use them to climb over the aforementioned gates. To get a chair out, you lift it up two inches over the rail bolted to the floor. Babies are highly intelligent but they tend to be a.) inexperienced and b.) weak. This thwarts them most excellently.

You’ll see the door to the kitchen there to the right. It’s also secured by two locks, the always-locked deadbolt and the unattended combination lock. In the kitchen is a door that leads to the backyard, which is also double locked, and a door to the basement, which is combination locked.

Other locks include the six foot lock to the coat closet and the lock bolting the TV to the wall. Our old CRT TV was bolted to the TV stand which was screwed into the floor, but we got one a them fancy flat screens now. Other things bolted to things include all furniture large enough to fall and crush someone, so all the bookcases are, you guessed it, bolted to the wall.

And that’s just the downstairs! I’ll cover the upstairs in a later post.

We came, we saw, we left without incident

What’s the Latin for that one?

Bede was pumped about the movie. Before we left, I wrote our telephone number on his back in Sharpie, just in case we got separated. You never know, and he can’t communicate well enough to convey that sort of information.

We pulled into the mall lot and he was vibrating with excitement. He saw the poster as we approached the theater and I let him break loose and go jump up and down in front of it and hum as he chanted the character names and peered through his fingers.

We were getting some looks by this point but so what. He was so happy. Most of the looks were for his unusual, ah, behaviour, but some of them were no doubt due to his clothes: a big red tee shirt, men’s trousers cinched in at the waist and rolled up, blue Crocs, all topped off with an enormous brown hat with a tan brim – his “Scrat acorn hat” he requested I knit for him.

An older woman approached us and said “Is he autistic?”

I resisted my momentary contrarian impulse to say “No” (hee hee) and smiled instead. “Yes, he’s autistic. He loves the Ice Age movies, and this is the first time he’s ever been to a theater, too.”

She said “Oh! I thought he was. I’m a substitute teacher and I just love working with autistic children.”

I smiled and started to guide Bede toward the ticket booth. She said, to Bede, “You are the most beautiful boy I’ve ever seen!” and we parted ways. When we got to the line, a nice man offered to let us cut, and we bought our tickets and headed back to the theater.

The auditorium was dark and the previews were playing VERY LOUDLY when we came in. Bede was a bit taken aback by the darkness and the noise, but came in and we sat fairly close to the front. “You want some turn it down?” he asked me. I said it was loud, but it might get quieter (it did.)

He was rapt throughout, humming and bouncing a few times, but mostly quiet and still. He hid behind the seat in front of us when it was scary, or peeked through his hat. As the movie was wrapping up he said “Ice Age is The End” and smiled.

Then, we left.

Whew! Yay Bede!


Scene: Gleeson home, dining room.

Me: Hey Bede!
Bede: (skipping by) Hmmhnnnhmm!
Me: Tomorrow, you wanna see Ice Age 3?
(Bede stops short)
Me: In the movie theater?
(Bede smiles widely)
Me: With Manny?
Bede: And Ellie?
Me: Uh-huh.
Bede: And Crashandeddie?
Me: Yep.
Bede: And (hops in place) SCRAT!!
Me: Yeah!

Soooo tomorrow Bede and I are going to see…

Which is finally at the dollar cinema. It will be his first time ever in a theater. Wish us well!

Bede’s speech

Aside from occasional appropriate use of I and my, Bede’s pronouns are always reversed, and his language is pretty weird. He’s internally consistent though, and he tries so very hard to communicate with us – as we try to communicate with him. Here are some recent dispatches.

Requesting grape jam on his toast:
Grape jelly your jam?

Can’t find his DVD remote:
You want find it your remote?

How I’m awakened each morning:
Wake up Mama! Open my eyes!

Dismay at Trixie’s refusal to wear a certain sweater:
Trixie wear it ON the yarn shirt!

Plaintive request:
You want it pbskids dot org on your Mama’s Dell?

Seeking kitchen entry:
You want go kitchen? Okaysure, I get you go kitchen!

Asking for ten small pieces of yarn:
You want cut with your ten yarn?

He usually gets his point across, and he’s pretty patient for a complicated Gallifreyan boy. Love him so!

Glenn Reynolds, autism expert

I was reading the October issue of Popular Mechanics (theme: disaster preparedness! survival! which really turns my geek crank!) and I ran across this, by Glenn Reynolds – page 48.

Here’s a simple truth: It’s better to bend than to break, and it’s best to be prepared for the worst. This age-old wisdom is going by a new name in slide-rule circles: “Resilience engineering” starts with the insight that it’s smart to design and maintain systems so that they have some give. That means building technologies that offer extra capacity to handle sudden loads, plenty of warning when normal operations are beginning to break down, backup systems in case things do go wrong, diverse digital architectures so that a single bug doesn’t produce widespread failure, and decentralization so that when (not “if”) communication breaks down things don’t grind to a halt.

And that seems to me to be a perfect, perfect description of parenting an autistic child.

PBS shirts

Bede draws the PBS logo a lot. He changes it around and makes a whole family of P-heads. He gives the P-head a different look, like a PIXAR lamp P-head, or a Scrat P-head.

I think he would really, really like this shirt. They don’t come in kid sizes, but he’s a pretty big kid, and he likes his clothes loose. An adult small will be too big but not unwearably so. And all he’s doing is growing… This is going on his Christmas list for sure.


The school year is upon me! We don’t stop schoolin’ in the summer. As unschoolers we neither stop nor start the whole “formal learning” gig, but keep about the same non-pace throughout the year. However, when the conventional schools are in session, I try to get a little more nudge-schooly in my approach. I like the kids to do something measurably academic each day, and if they don’t do so themselves I nudge them into it. Hence, nudgeschooling.

I’m definitely going with Teaching Textbooks for Faith’s math. She wants to stay at grade level for math and not fall behind her friends who are schooled, and she really enjoyed the website preview for Math 4. When we can afford it we’ll be getting it, probably early October.

Abby liked it as well, but she’s a little behind Faith in math. She likes Miquon and hasn’t yet finished the whole set of books so that’s probably going to be her thing this year.

Everyone else will just tag along and do what they do with no formal plan. We’re still working through the Sonlight Core 1+2 we started in February, so I’ll pick back up with that. We all love it since it’s reading together and discussing stuff as a family. I kind of forget it’s “school”, frankly! It feels like we’re cheating. Abby’s favorite thing to do for dinner conversation is “Let’s everyone tell about the book they’re reading, and why you like it.” Love me some Sonlight.

Bede has been wearing clothes (!!) I’m still processing. I told Tabitha now he won’t be the weird naked kid, he’ll be the weird kid who wears men’s trousers belted and rolled up at the cuffs. An improvement!