Autism Watch: 2007

Posts Tagged ‘windy

When I am out-of-state, and I tell people I’m from California, I usually hear something akin to “Ahh, sunny California, must be nice!”

Well, let me tell you, this non-California-Native is not loving California on a good day but right now, if someone asked me where I was from, I’d say “windy hell.”

To back up a bit, I was raised back east. I grew up with snow in the winter, beautiful leaves in the fall, rain in the spring, and tolerable temps in the summer that made us appreciate the sun. But here? One day looks like the next, most of the year. For example, it’ll be Thanksgiving in a couple of weeks; we were wearing shorts and the temps were pushing 90. Hottest “fall” on record. Normally, we’re in the 70s now, lower temps at night, and enjoying some long sleeves.

Contrary to popular belief, not all of California is sunny 24/7. And not all Californians want it! I thoroughly enjoy cooler temps, sweaters, gloves, wearing my heavy coats, boots and turning on the heat or using the fireplace. I moved to my location years ago, and one reason we like it here is because it is more of the ‘burbs, with mountain views (we’re in the foothills) and we experience more seasonal weather than we’ll find in many areas of SoCal…except when it’s blazing hot, 115 or so, days on end in August, and electricity bills are $500 a month or above. I’m not here because I love this state, but because this is where our support system is. Our friends. Our doctors. We’re considering an out-of-state move, and one huge reason? NO wind like what we have here. Seasons. Changing leaves. The kids can play outside without worry of getting knocked over by 75 mph gusts weeks on end, without worry of embers blowing around or the air quality causing asthma. They can enjoy the snow or the rain and Christmas feels like Christmas.

So, back to windy hell. And fires. Yet again, another batch of days on end of Santa Ana winds. All my plants were brought inside. Our patio furniture — heavy wrought iron — is affixed to the concrete. Our natural gas barbecue unplugged and moved to a safe location. (And it easily weighs 100 pounds.) Trees blown over everywhere you look. Trucks on their side on the nearby freeways. Crappy air quality, and you can’t enjoy your backyard, the school playground or a walk from the car in the lot to the door of the store because you literally are blown sideways, and even sturdy people have difficulty standing in a real gust. Day after day after day of this gets old — and we’re lucky in that there’s no fire in our area.

That said, you can see the Corona/Yorba Linda fires from our front windows. The air is a nasty grey-orange, and it smells bad. Yet, our homes are unthreatened so we’re fortunate. (Flashback to the 2003 fires when we could see them out our back windows, on our own foothills, and we had to evacuate.) But it still sucks. Fires not only kill people, and hundreds of homes are gone with their families displaced, but the crap in the air, and the stuff they drop out of the tankers isn’t stuff you want to be breathing.

Knowing how fortunate we are that our home isn’t threatened by a current fire, I still am so tired of this. When you can drive and point out various fires, even seeing flames, it’s just wrong. My heart goes out to those whose homes are damaged, those who are evacuated, and those wondering. The TV coverage is riveting, walls of fire and clouds, it sucks you in and it’s hard to turn away yet hard to watch at the same time.

What does this have to do with autism? This is an autism blog, afterall. Well, on one hand, it gives me an opportunity to clarify to those who’ve wondered that the fires aren’t near enough to us to be a threat. (I do have some amazing photos from the upstairs windows, I just wish I knew my D-SLR Nikon D-80 enough to do it justice.) On the other hand, fires usually cause regression in autistic children close enough to be affected. Those who have to evacuate are taken away from their routines, their special items, their comfort zone. Those who aren’t evacuated but still can smell the smoke often regress for no obvious reason. We’ve speculated that the electricity in the air during strong winds does it, as my little guy often has more mood issues when fires are close or when winds are bad. Winds have been bad all week, yet he’s holding steady and I hope he stays that way.

If you’re of the praying variety, add the fire victims and evacuees to your prayers. I’m sure there will be donation drives coming up, if you’re able. Many of these people weren’t given much time at all to get out of their homes, and I cannot imagine what it must be like to sit in an evacuation center waiting on news of your home. Heartbreaking. And for those with children with special needs, even moreso.

For those of you who have autistic kids, you know Autism. You know how it goes with you wherever you are, usually even when your children aren’t with you. It’s an entity, with its own personality, requirements, and mood. Autism is sometimes hiding under the rug, other times it’s right there and can’t be slightly partially ignored, even by those who wish it’d climb back under the rug. Sometimes Autism is noisy, other times it’s quiet. (And the capital A in Autism isn’t a grammatical error — when referring to an entity, it needs to have a name, and we all know names are capitalized.)

Today, Autism went to the dentist. So did our son. Our son was there to have sealants put on two teeth; he’d had reflux very bad as a child, and it wore off some of the enamel on those back teeth. He’s already had four root canals, because Autism decided it didn’t like its teeth brushed and gagged every time we tried. Our son sat down in the chair, and I followed in to sit with him, with dad relegated to the waiting room due to space issues. (We use an office that specializes in special needs children, so it’s a small price to pay that we can’t both be in with ds.) The hygienist explained the process to him, how they’d clean those two teeth first, then do the sealants, but then she had to step out for a few minutes, and the waiting got to him. Big time. Before she returned, he’d thrown the stuffed puppy (used to cuddle or boost a little one up in the chair) and was starting to get out of the chair to make a run for it when she returned. On went the fancy glasses he requests so the bright light doesn’t hurt his eyes. Oops, wrong color, he wants the white ones. You know, the same ones as the last appointment. We weren’t two minutes into the cleaning when I had to swap with dh because ds started to squirm, whine, cry, and then yell. Dh came in, then there ensued an argument over putting vaseline on ds’s lips. He’s got a lip-licking stim that causes major clown rashes when it gets windy, cold, or just because. Meanwhile, I’d already gotten out two tight knots out of his hair from his hair twirling stim, which worsens with anxiety, and he was definitely anxious. Vaseline applied, and dh left the room. The cleaning was done, and then the dentist arrived to apply the sealants. She patiently showed him every piece of equipment she was going to use, and explained that touching the gloves was a no-no, and that his job was to leave his hands laying on his tummy. That worked for about two minutes…and I am probably being really generous. It got worse before it got better, but after the dentist got the pillow that holds his jaw open (instead of him having to hold it open himself), he was good, as long as they suctioned out his mouth frequently. He forgot the movie playing on the ceiling or the cute bugs on the walls and the puppy that was back in his seat, but soon enough, it was over. I give kudos to the staff for their patience and willingness to work with him, and I hope they get paid well. They seem to appreciate his unique personality, which is a big deal in itself. And when the receptionist commented what a different child he looked to be from two years ago, ahhhh, what an affirmation. To us, he looks better, but we’re with him each day so getting an unbiased opinion from someone else is always a blessing.

So you can understand how Autism indeed went with us. It went home with us, but stayed in a separate room for a few minutes of homework time…even if that was when ds ran to the livingroom to do his homework on the floor because he couldn’t focus with anyone else breathing at an audible level. He knocked out his spelling work, and we headed to his favorite restaurant, Logan’s Roadhouse. (Shout-out to them for peanuts on the table, a great O.T. exercise, where ds can smash, squish and mash peanuts until they scream, then drop it all on the floor and start over again.) He and I enjoyed our ‘date’ night, and for the most part, Autism was quiet. That was probably because ds ordered steak tips, medium well, so ds had to work a bit to eat them, and that too is a sensory experience. A whole bowl of cinnamon apples and half a glass of root beer and we were good to go. To Target. The latest Indiana Jones movie was released today, and not only does ds really want to watch it, but it’ll give him something to do with older dd when we take younger dd to her choral performance tomorrow night. Oh, and I’m cheap, I like to buy the movies we want the week they come out because they’re on sale. He even let me shop for a few miscellaneous items (Halloween candy…18 pounds, to be exact..and that’s just a drop in the supplies, a shirt) before he started bugging for an Icee that I had no way in heck intentions of getting. Moosetracks mint chip ice cream was waiting at home, already paid for, as healthy an ice cream as we can buy, and it wasn’t about to hype him out in my car or give him something to spill on the leather seats. (I know, I know, leather seats…but we bought the SUV a few weeks before A-day…autism diagnosis day. I’ll never forget getting lost in the midst of nowhere on the way to our new neurologist, having to call and get directions, explain why I’m late, deal with dh on the phone giving me no help whatsoever with directions because he was in denial and refusing to work with me or participate in the process, while having to perfect driving the Tank, a vehicle I’d laughed at for years because it’s a Road Barge, yet was suddenly necessary due to family size and the need to tow a trailer. Anyway, I digress….)

Autism’s getting ready for bed now. So is ds. We had our very one-sided conversation about Pokemon, while he was doing his required reading log minutes, and ds announced that he got the best fundraiser results out of his class. (Go us, go us…we worked so hard for that, he has no idea.) Not sure what time Autism will wake up tomorrow, but hopefully it’ll be in a good mood. It’s windy here, fires on the news but none nearby. Fires cause a regression that’s hard to explain, but even the wind can cause some explosions out of the blue, so it’s just one more reason I hate the wind.

And now it’s time to go give ds hugs before he falls asleep. Dentist appointment is over until March, when it starts all over again, hopefully minus any work beyond a cleaning and check-up. Phew.

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