Archive for April, 2011

Have a Great Flight

She tries to calm him but with no success. People are looking at them, some with criticism and questioning the mother, maybe others with concern. After a long day between airports and airplanes, he just can’t take it anymore and throws himself to the floor and continue screaming. “Is he ok? Is he having an epileptic attack?” the airport security officer asks. “Don’t worry. My son has Autism and is just having a tantrum. It has been a long day for him, he is just tired.”

We were on our way to Austin Texas, for a special therapy for my son. The flight schedule was from San Juan, to Dallas, and then to Austin. This situation happened when we arrive at Austin, while I was dealing with the car rental. When I got back, he had taken her outside the building, and what I encounter was an exhausted mother full of anxiety, with his son on the sidewalk covered with glitter from head to toe. She knew the glitter would create a mess, but it was her last resource to keep him calm. Thank God that the rental that I got was a familiar one for my son, who usually has a hard time getting inside someone else’s car. A couple of weeks before, our car was being repaired and my brother-in-law lend me his. It was a white VW Jetta, and when the rental place in Austin didn’t have any of their economy cars and offered me a Jetta, I ask “do you have a white one”, and thank God they did. Otherwise we would have had another scene just trying to get him inside the car to get to the hotel.

Perhaps I should take you to the beginning, when we almost lost our flight because of two reasons: the father was not around, and the son didn’t wanted to board the plane. I don’t know how she did it, but my wife got us an escort through the entire process of boarding. We didn’t have to wait in line, we had help passing our stuff and my son’s medical supplies, and he even left his shoes on at the inspection area. So far it was all going ok until we find out that his dose of meds that I had prepared for him was all poured in his lunch bag. It was his daily dose of medicine for his metabolic disorder, and the remaining one was inside our luggage already stored inside the airplane. I thought that it was ok if we waited until our arrival at Austin, but my wife thought otherwise. She made the airline employees find our bags, and me go to the baggage claim area to take the medicine and bring it to our terminal. The little detail was that once I was in there, I had to go through the whole inspection process once again, and there were a lot of people there. If I hadn’t asked for help, I wouldn’t have made it. The attendant helping me had a 2-way radio were I heard “please bring passenger” and my name. A couple of minutes went by and then “please bring passenger” and my name again. And then suddenly I heard “we need the dad here, now!” and she told me “let’s run!” We finally got there and I found my wife carrying my son and trying to get him inside the plane, and he with one foot at each side of the airplane door fighting not to get in. I immediately took charge of the situation and eventually got him inside and properly seated.

During the flight itself and during our stay at Austin, everything was normal in terms of his behavior. It was the airport with all the people, the noise, the waiting, etc., that was the most difficult part for him, and therefore for us too.

7 Extraordinary Years

“My Diego, every single day you have a smile on your face when you get up in the morning and a smile on your face as you get into your bed at night. Maybe it’s because you’re recalling something funny from a book, a movie, or your own imagination. Maybe you’re just happy and truly understand the meaning of joy and fun! My boy, you already have so much of what you’ll need in this life. You already have so much of what I wish for you: intelligence, creativity, compassion, love, and most of all, joy. Happy birthday to my big kid, my sweet and lovable boy. I’m blessed to be your Mom. We love you so much and are so proud of the big kid you have become. Happy 7th Birthday and many more! Mommy”

That was a letter from my wife since today is, as she mention, our son’s birthday; and in what better place to celebrate it than at his favorite, McDonalds. My wife planned the party and it went great. There were family and friends, we didn’t have to leave earlier than expected, and he even sat behind the cake for the photo session. It was awesome, and most important, he had a great time. For him it may be just another day, but for us it is a very special day which marks the end of 7 extraordinary years. Maybe different from what we had expected, but still 7 wonderful years. There had been good days and bad days. There had been days of struggle and sleep deprivation, but also days of joy, happiness, fun, and triumph. At the end, what matters is that he has improved tremendously. Today we celebrate his accomplishments in these past 7 years, and we look ahead determined to help him reached his potential, whatever that might be. We love you son, and happy birthday.

Passionate Scientist

The Scientific method is a series of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. It consists of systematic observations, measurements, and experiments, and is used by scientists to establish cause-and-effect relationships in nature. An example of this could be to carefully analyze the movement of a particle or an object, while being pulled down by gravitational forces. It would also be the study and establishment of a cause-and-effect relationship of this same object while being on an elastic system in a steady state, and then being suddenly disturbed by another object of significantly higher mass. If this is true, my son who has Autism is a very passionate scientist.

He likes to get his hands full with raw rice or any other small particle that he can throw into the air and look at it while it falls down. He also likes to put them in the trampoline and watch how they are disturbed by his jumping. It is really interesting how he places them in a particular place before starting to jump, and then how he seems to be analyzing their movement while he changes his jumping pattern. When I’m with him in our backyard, I look amazed at how he seems to be analyzing each grain as if it were moving in slow motion, and apparently this is exactly what he is doing. The ability to perform this is mentioned by Temple Grandin, PH.D. in her book “The Way I See It”, where she explains how she’s able to focus on each grain individually.

By definition, passionate is defined as “compelled by, or ruled by intense emotion or strong feeling about something”, and when it comes to careful observation and repetition, my son can be very passionate about it. “Why is this object moving up and down without being touched?”, “Why its behavior changes as my jumping pattern changes?” These are questions that I think he may be formulating to himself and then trying to answer. I don’t know for sure and I don’t fully understand what his analysis are all about, but it seems to me that my son is using the Scientific Method.

Modern science has completely transformed the manner of our living due to its application in the form of technology. The progress in agriculture, medicine, telecommunications, transportation, and computerization, are part of our daily living and are things we take for granted. But have we ever stopped and thought how these things were discovered and even imagined in the first place? Perhaps due to minds like my son’s, with the capacity to deeply study and analyze the simplest things in our world, is that the most complex theories and laws of physics that makes our life easier were discovered.