Friday, January 30, 2009

What NOT to say to an autistic child

So today Karson is not listening to the teacher. He is not doing the work she has requested that he do. Instead, he is "stuck" on doing somthing he is trying to complete. This back and forth continues twice. Finally, his teacher removes what he wants to work on from his desk and replaces it with what he is suppose to work on. She takes the "wants to work on" paper up to her desk. When she turns around he is starting to get up to go get the paper off her desk. She looks at him and says "If you come up here and take the paper off my desk it will be mine for forever plus 2 days!!!!"

Karson looks at her and says 'It can't be forever plus two days because forever is forever!"

Later at home he says to me "I am not sure my teacher can teach me anymore. She doesn't know how long forever is!"

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Couple Of Cuties From My Cuties

K2" If Obama is President for 1,000 years does that mean he is King?"

K1 "If I run for President will you vote for me?"
Me: " I could not vote for you right now. Presidents have to be able to listen to a whole lot of different people who want different things. Honey, you don't listen well enough to be President but if you keep practicing someday you will. Then I will be able to vote for you."

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Language of Love

The Language of Love
By Cheryl L. Dieter
Copyright 1/12/2009

Because he was an unusual shade of red most people thought he was an Irish Setter. He wasn’t. Not a drop of Irish in him. But if you saw the flash of the fetch and the gentle return of the ball you would recognize him for the retriever that he was. The dog became a member of our family when he had already aged out of puppy hood by a couple of months. He came pre-named. His name was not something fitting for a dog of his stature. It wasn’t the predictable Fido, Rover, or Bandit that so many canines answer to. No, his name was Goose. His was a horrible name, one that never fit until he was well into his senior years which is when he began to waddle like one. But alas, for him, the name remained.

Oftentimes bringing a dog into a family means someone has to move into the Alpha dog position just to keep the peace and establish whose boss. That wasn’t the case with Goose. He took to his new family and we to him without any of the usual dog/people skirmishes. There was no peeing on the floor to see if we would keep him. No chewing on shoes to get back at you for some unknown slight of hand you might have inadvertently dealt. No Goose just walked into our house and into our lives like he knew he belonged. And he did. Sometimes love just fits like the missing last piece of a puzzle.

Goose was a city dog. Unlike some fast talking city folk, he rarely spoke unless it was something important that needed to be said. One loud bark usually was a kind warning that he was there. A series of rapid barks meant you had better leave my family alone. But by and large he was content to let the other neighborhood dogs do the talking. Goose liked it that way. He would rather just lay around and let his humans feed him, bathe him and pet him when we were willing. Goose didn’t ask for much and he didn’t believe in schedules. He wasn’t pushy in that “I’M-A-POODLE” kind-of-way.

Now, I was never one to believe that dogs understood our conversations. Sure they might pick up on a few words like “sit, stay” and the like. But truly listening and comprehending a conversation…no way. Sure I had listened to little old ladies talk about how intelligent their costumed canines were but everyone knew that they were halfway around the bend anyway. Besides, Goose had never given a hint, nor it seemed, a desire to participate in any meaningful dialogue. Ever. But that all changed the year Goose turned eleven.

That was the year we moved to the ocean and Goose came alive. For a dog that had rarely moved his first ten years of life he made up for it by chasing waves along the beach until they collapsed in fright of “Big Red.” He discovered the joy of corralling seagulls and sniffing seaweed like some kind of big-name gourmet chef. The two of us took long walks together down the beach; the water’s spray soaking our coats. And suddenly our dog began digging for clams. Goose began to run so swiftly through the sand that his ears were pinned to the side of his head like an astronaut in G-force maneuvers. He lost weight, bulked up and even began gossiping with the neighborhood dogs. The highlight of his year was the day I locked my keys in the car. Stranded with a fierce storm coming ashore we were saved by a middle aged man in a red two-seater sports car. He gave us a ride back to the house with Goose sitting on my lap the entire way. Yes, those were the days and Goose was in heaven. The city dog had gone country and we liked him that way.

All too soon our year was up and it was time to relocate. After we finished packing we decided to take one last trip to “our” beach. Goose romped and dug. He rolled in the sand. That afternoon he even surpassed his seagull corralling record. He was one tired dog as we climbed up the sandy bank to the car. I opened the tailgate and Goose jumped in.

“Old buddy,” I said to no one in particular and most certainly not the dog. “You had better go take one last look at the ocean. You’re getting old and they don’t have beaches in Iowa. Doubt you’ll ever get to the ocean again.”

And to my amazement, Goose jumped out of the car and meandered over to the cliff in a haggard down-and-out-sort-of-way and gazed down the beach. He didn’t flinch. Not once. He just stood eerily still, taking it all in; his soft brown eyes scanning the sky for more gulls. We waited. He looked. We waited some more. Suddenly a lone gull appeared. He circled above Big Red’s head… and then … let an eight gun salute rain down upon it. Goose blinked. He snorted. Then the dog barked a series of barks in his “I’m really, really mad” voice and chased the gull through the parking lot. And when he won the war, gull gone, never to return; he climbed back into the car and slept almost all the way to Iowa. I think he was depressed. Yet, I never asked, even though we had many interesting conversations in the years that followed.

Maybe it was because I didn’t believe or maybe it was because I had just never given Goose the chance but whatever it was, on that last day at the beach I began to understand the powerful dialogue that takes place between a dog and his human. Some of it said out loud; some left unspoken; some just a quiet wag here and there. But however it is said, the language between a person and their dog is unique to one another. It is one that transcends species, age and gender. And whether it is spoken in barks or in whispers, ultimately, it turns out that we understand the same language. It‘s the language we humans call love.