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Call To Action

dolphin11aKaitlyn loves dolphins.  She fell in love with them right around her 5th birthday on our trip to Sea World.  While we were there, she was fascinated by them as we watched them swim and play from the underwater observation area.  She named one that was seemed to be paying particular attention to her Archie (also the name of her stuffed dolphin, of course).  Ever since then, Kaitlyn seemed drawn to dolphins and has remarked several times about her desire to work with them when she grows up (of all the things she has wanted to be in just under 8 years, this has had the most staying power).  At some point in the very near future, Amber and I are going to take her on a dolphin watching tour, and we would love to also have her do one of those swim with the dolphin experiences, too.

This morning, we were watching the Today show like we do every morning.  They were doing a story on President Obama’s trip to Japan, and that story included some commentary about Ambassador Caroline Kennedy.  As part of the story about Ambassador Kennedy, it documented some of the things she has done during her time in Japan to promote goodwill between our countries, and also one of the things that she has spoken out against that the Japanese people have been somewhat critical of her for.  And it was the action that was criticized that had Kaitlyn all emotional and on the verge of tears this morning.

Apparently, it is a pretty popular thing in Japan to do something called a “herded dolphin hunt.”  Which, you can imagine by its name, involves fishermen in boats basically “rounding up” pods of dolphins so that they can be hunted.  Needless to say, Kaitlyn is not too happy about the practice.  Once she started to regain her composure after the story aired, we could almost see her resolve starting to harden and her determination form in her desire to have that practice stopped.

Kaitlyn definitely feels a connection with animals (that is sort of a hallmark of people with Asperger’s), especially dolphins.  Amber and I have no doubt that if she decides that she is going to work with the animals, she will, and if she decides that she wants to help carry the torch in stopping dolphin hunting, we know that very little can stop her.  And we will support her every step of the way.

A Few Tidbits

It’s been a while since I wrote an entry that consisted of some random happenings with Kaitlyn.

It seems that I have a new nightly assignment.  On the heels of writing about the battle that ensues when Amber brushes Kaitlyn’s hair, I was tasked with brushing her hair last night after her bath.  Because I was able to accomplish brushing her hair without a single complaint from Kaitlyn, that is now apparently my new job.  We’ll see how that goes in the long run.

SullivanFor Easter, one of the things that Kaitlyn got in her basket was something she has been asking for for quite some time, a Disney Infinity set.  It is a set of games that allows her to pick a character and explore different Disney-specific “worlds” on the Wii.  The set she got came with Sullivan from Monsters, Inc., Mr. Incredible from The Incredibles, and Jack Sparrow from the Pirates franchise.  In addition, she also got Anna from Frozen.  This morning, while we were waiting in the drop off line at school, Kaitlyn went ahead and told me the characteristics I have in common with each character, excluding Anna.  Apparently, I am “funny and play pranks” like Sullivan, I am “strong” like Mr. Incredible, and “fierce” like Jack Sparrow.  It is awesome that she sees me as having those attributes.

garth_brooksIn an effort to expand Kaitlyn’s musical taste, instead of letting her select what we listened to in the car, I went ahead and made the choice for her.  (As much as I enjoy some Cole Swindell, Luke Bryan, and Florida Georgia Line, I need some variety sometimes.)  This morning, we listened to some Garth Brooks.  Much to my surprise, she seemed to actually enjoy what we were listening to; I was surprised because his country music is not very similar to the country music of today and what Kaitlyn is used to hearing.  We may be on to something here.

 

Never-ending Battle

We have been fighting a never-ending battle with Kaitlyn for as long as I can remember.  It takes place in the mornings before school, on the weekends when we want to go somewhere, and in the evenings after Kaitlyn’s bath.  It is the battle to brush Kaitlyn’s hair to make it look at least somewhat presentable.

99% of the time, Amber is the one that faces the daunting task of brushing Kaitlyn’s hair.  The times I have been the responsible party, there have been more failures than there have been successes (most notably my failed attempt to pull Kaitlyn’s hair into a ponytail before gymnastics).

If Kaitlyn had her way, she would never brush her hair, or would do so maybe a few times per week.  For one, she claims that it is a painful experience, but I have only noticed any type of pain-inducing brushing on those occasion where Kaitlyn’s hair looks like a bird nest.

Lucy HaleWithout fail, Amber will patiently brush Kaitlyn’s hair in the morning before school, sometimes even taking time to braid her hair.  By the time Amber is done, Kaitlyn could be ready for school with her hair looking like the picture at left.

At most, the time between when Amber finishes Kaitlyn’s hair and has it looking great and the time Kaitlyn gets out of my car to head into school is right at an hour.  Probably less.  And without fail, by the time she is heading into school, and more often than not before we even leave the house, Kaitlyn’s hair looks nowhere close to how Amber left it.  In fact, I think if Kaitlyn had her way, she would let her hair resemble the hairstyle pictured at right.albert-einstein

On the one hand, I am proud that Kaitlyn couldn’t care less what people think of what her hair looks like; it speaks to who she is as a person that she puts little stock into outward appearances (she would also be happy if we let her wear her clothes however she sees fit, which usually means at least one piece of clothing is on backward or inside out).  On the other hand, it is frustrating because I know that Amber does a great job in making Kaitlyn look presentable each morning, and it almost always goes out the door before school even starts.

I guess if this is the worst of our problems, we are in pretty good shape.

 

 

 

Annual Report

A few weeks ago, we took Kaitlyn for the second part of her annual evaluation with the psychologist.  This was the one-on-one session where he basically interviews her and gets a good idea of how she has progressed or changed since our last visit.  Overall, the visit was about 90 minutes long.

Last week, we received the clinical report (and when I say “clinical,” I mean it very literally.  As usual, the report was filled with “doctor speak,” which we have had translated for us in the past, so we are familiar with it now.).

There were no real surprises in the report at all, and it read pretty much like last year’s did.  Really, the only “change” that was noted was that, according to the DSM-5, Kaitlyn now technically has Level 1 Autism Spectrum Disorder.  After researching what exactly that means (she will “require support”), I concluded that it is just a fancy way of saying she has Asperger’s (because it will be so much easier to tell people, “my daughter has Level 1 Autism Spectrum Disorder” than it was to say, “she has Asperger’s.”  Now, in addition to explaining what her diagnosis means, Amber and I will first have to overcome the blank looks from people trying to comprehend what we meant by “Level 1.”).  Here is what Level 1 is:

Social Communication:  Without supports in place, deficits in social communication cause noticeable impairments. Difficulty initiating social interactions, and clear examples of atypical or unsuccessful response to social overtures of others. May appear to have decreased interest in social interactions. For example, a person who is able to speak in full sentences and engages in communication but whose to- and-fro conversation with others fails, and whose attempts to make friends are odd and typically unsuccessful.

Restricted, repetitive behaviors:Inflexibility of behavior causes significant interference with functioning in one or more contexts. Difficulty switching between activities. Problems of organization and planning hamper independence.

Basically, Level 1 Autism Spectrum Disorder mirrors Asperger’s.

The report did mention that Kaityln probably also has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), which made Amber immediately point out (rightfully) that she inherited that from me.

Self-Described

I tend to think that I do a good job in letting everyone get a peek in on our lives, and what it is like raising a daughter with Asperger’s, but every so often I come up blank on what to write about.  Usually right around the time that happens, Kaitlyn will give me, although unknowingly, something to share.

Like the acrostic poem she brought home from school Friday:

Kind
Adorable
Incredible
Tomboy
Likes video games
Young-looking
Never mean

I like when these entries write themselves!

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