Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Changing my Mind

I've written before about the disasterous experiences we have had when having Oliver evaluated at various clinics by so-called experts. The last time we drove an hour for an evaluation at a highly reputable children's clinic that is part of a University Hospital. The good doctor spent about a half hour with Oliver and then basically told us: "Yup, he's got autism." To which I should have responded: "And what? We've paid you a gazillion dollars to tell us that?" After that I determined that I would never put Oliver -- or ourselves -- through something like that again.

But I've changed my mind. Last week I finally got my copy of The Fabric of Autism and the way author Judith Bluestone writes about autism, about sensory problems and about how they lead to certain familiar manifestations was incredibly exciting to me. It all made sense. I couldn't read it fast enough. I got half-way through reading each page completely and then couldn't contain myself and kept skipping and skimming through the rest of the book. Then I picked up the phone and called the HANDLE Institute in Seattle. Even before I spoke to Nik about it I knew that I wanted to take Oliver there to be evaluated. Luckily I found out that they also conduct evaluations in New Jersey and Atlanta, both of which are closer for me. And so in December we will make the long drive to New Jersey to start Oliver on a HANDLE program. And in the meantime I feel like I've been given a window through which to view my little boy and to understand better what motivates him to do certain things. I also particularly like her take on the Theory of Mind.

Anyway, Oliver had a kind of rough day yesterday. He woke up and immediately started biting his nails -- something we have been trying to stop for months with no luck. He wasn't able to focus well during his morning therapy session and cried a lot and seemed anxious in the afternoon. After such a long string of incredibly good days lately I had to wonder what was going on with him. Then I wondered if it had to do with our latest home renovation project. I'm paining the bathroom and have been using an oil-based primer. Even though I've been keeping the windows open and the exhaust fan on, it has taken a few days for the fumes to dissapate. After reading Bluestone's book I wonder if maybe it is the smell that is causing Oliver some extra anxiety.

A funny aside about the nail -biting is that my poor boy's fingernails are so short that he can't possibly bite them down any further and has started trying to bite MY nails!

Happy October, everyone! And may the fresh autumn air blow away all of our gassy fumes!


  1. Hmm...I'm going to have to check out the book and the Institute. Sounds intriguing.

    Until my son was diagnosed, I never thought much about my sense of smell. I have an extraordinary sense of smell. While most people love the smell of fresh cut grass, it makes me unable to breathe, as does cigarette smoke, people wearing perfume, people with body odor. At one point this year I had three children in diapers - I could tell which one needed to be changed because of their own distinct odors - that's how keen my sense of smell is!!

    So Oliver isn't biting his toe nails yet!? :)

  2. How exciting that you've found something that resonates so much with you!

    I'm intrigued - what is her take on Theory of Mind?

  3. I've never heard of The Fabric of Autism, I'll look for it. Sounds like you have been inspired by it, which is great!

  4. There are SO MANY books on autism being published now that I only pursue those that have been recommended by my blogger friends- I'm anxious to find this one.

    Sorry to hear Oliver is feeling anxious and out of sorts. Sometimes this signals growth and learning!!

  5. Thanks for sharing - I'm gonna check it out.

    I think autism therapies are like jellybellies. :)
    For some people, the best experience is to eat only one flavor, mixing flavors ruins the experience. For others, you have to find just the right mix of flavors to chew all at once - one flavor does nothing for them. And, sadly, for the rest, the jellybelly makers haven't yet come up with the formula to satisfy them.