Sunday, April 25, 2010

I'm back!

Some of you keep up with my ridiculous life via Facebook or Compuserve, but in case you don't... my three year old son has been in the hospital for two weeks for pneumonia. He ended up having surgery to clean out a pocket of pus in his left lung which resulted in a chest tube after surgery. He's been home since this past Wednesday. Ian is a little weak after basically being in bed for almost three weeks, but is getting stronger everyday.
During all the drama, there was an enormous outpouring of thoughtful wishes and prayers from the aforementioned online communities (feel free to catch up on the trials and tribulations of our hospital stay via the links above; I don't have room or time to rewrite it all here). I really can't thank y'all enough; it meant so much to me and my family.

Now we're counting down as the date for our Scotland trip approaches. I truly can't contain my excitement. I think about it hundreds of times a day. John confessed that he's nervous about leaving Ian after the recent hospitalization. I'm hoping that as it gets closer to departure time he'll be more comfortable with it. Kids are resilient and bounce back from things like this so much faster than adults do.

Anyhow, there's not much new here in Nashville. Just every day stuff, spring cleaning, work, kids, blah blah blah. I'm scrambling to catch up on the April writer's exercise for the Comuserve Writer's Forum, as well as get some work done on Blood Song. If I can, I'd like to polish up the short story about a cigarette for the Writer's Digest annual competition this year (due May 14th). We'll see how things go.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Music, sweet music.

After yesterday's serious post, I'd like to talk about something more upbeat and easygoing... Music. I don't discriminate, I love all genres. Well, that's not completely true. I can do without new country and new rap. I stopped listening to anything newer than, oh, probably 1994. Anything after that just doesn't do it for me.

Music plays a very large part in my life. It inspires my writing, can lift or drag down my mood, and I like to think my iPod as the soundtrack to my life. Someone at work recently told me they were "not really into music." This idea floored me. I can't imagine a day, no... an hour, of my life without music. Honestly, pick any song, and I can relate it to some incident in my life. Most of my major scenes in my WIP were sparked by music.

I've done a couple of blogs about We Were Promised Jetpacks. Don't worry, I won't tarry too long here. (Sorry boys, you'll have to share the limelight for a bit.) They are definitely the best band I've heard in a long time, and their album "These Four Walls" is IMHO the best release of 2009. And here my obsession threatens to take over again. Let's move on, shall we?

Here's my current playlist (artist-album). What are you listening to lately?

Heartless Bastards-The Mountain
Mark Knopfler-Golden Heart
Ray Lamontagne-Trouble
The Black Keys-All You Ever Wanted
Panda Bear-Person Pitch

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Autism Awareness Month

April 2, 2010 launched World Autism Day, and the month of April is Autism Awareness month (at least in the states).
My eight year old son, Dagan, was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism/Asperger's Syndrome when he started kindergarten. We knew something was different about him, but we never considered Autism. He could talk, for Pete's sake! Really, really well in fact. By the time he turned two, he could recite and recognize the letters of the alphabet, as well as their phonetic sounds. He was conversing with adults, using the speech of a 4 or 5 year old. He could spell his name. And by age 4, he had already taught himself a few words to read. I never made any effort to get him reading. He followed along while I read our stories every night, and actually taught himself to read. If he couldn't pronounce it, he'd ask. Once. And that was it.
In my head, Autistic people had a language deficit. They didn't interact well with adults. So his diagnosis was a shock to say the least. I cried a lot, wondering what I might have done wrong somewhere along the way. And then I started reading, and reading, and reading some more. I researched for a good six months before we found a DAN! doctor. And we've been very pleased with the results. While Dagan hasn't had the drastic turnaround that some kids have had. There is a noticeable difference however.
He suffered for four years with horrible constipation before unconventional therapies turned his life around. It's been a hard road and a longer one ahead. Dagan still has some difficulties socially at school, and is at an age where other kids are starting to notice he's different. And every year, new fears will he live on his own, will he be able to hold a job, will he find someone to love that will accept him as he is? It's a long way off, and hopefully the research will continue to uncover more each year.

To all the people dealing with Autism and it's large spectrum of disorders...You're amazing!
Not many people can understand what it's like living with this. People assume that since it's not a medical problem (which it actually is) and they attend school, that it can't be all that bad. Well, you're wrong. It's hard, but at the same time I wouldn't change anything about his personality. Dagan is an affectionate, creative, intelligent, joyful boy, who loves to make others happy. I just want him to have some resemblance of a "normal" childhood, and grow up to function in society.
To all the folks not living with this disorder, educate yourself and others. You never know when you might be faced with it. Last time I checked 1:100 kids have Autism.

Check out these sites for more info: