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Tue, 02 Apr 2002

Note, I've added entries back to the 28th of March.

We took the kids out kite flying yesterday again.  Again they spent more time playing on the slides and swings than flying kites but everyone still had a great time.  Shanna informed everyone during Family Home Evening that after we finish our morning yoga practice she would wake up the kids so can all eat breakfast, read scriptures and have family prayer together.  At about 5:45 AM this morning the kids realized that she meant exactly what she said.

As I sit here, I realize that my biggest headache at work is the direct result of people who have made horrid decisions, forced my employer into an untenable position, cost local taxpayers unreasonable amounts of money and then jumped ship before any job action could be taken against them.  I hate being on clean-up duty, especially when I have to attempt to make a hopeless situation run smoothly.  I can do it, I've done it in the past.  I just hate doing it.

This entry authored by Tyran at 20:59

Mon, 08 Apr 2002

There is only one good thing about daylight saving time and that is that it ends.  The bad thing is that it ends in October.

This entry authored by Tyran at 07:52

Wed, 10 Apr 2002

I really hate being sick.  I went into work yesterday and was feeling a little congested (sinuses) and my joints ached a bit.  I wasn't too surprised as I hadn't really slept well Monday night.  By about 10:30 I knew that I was in trouble when the chills started.  Thankfully, it appears that I have the fever under control and now just have to worry about the continued sinus congestion.

Jonathan has an appointment with Dr. Cantor at Primary Children's Hospital tomorrow as a continuation of his evaluation last month.  I'm hopeful that something positive will come of it but as Shanna said Monday, I'm just not sure what I'll do if we get the same song and dance routine that everyone else has given us.  I have an extremely bright and innocent little boy who is struggling to express himself and deal with the world around him.  Because we know that he will need to be able to function in society, Shanna and I are doing all we can to help Jonathan function in the world around him.  It's hard to be motivated to do this though as he is so content and happy when he's allowed to just deal with his own reality instead of the normal world.

I'm supposed to be gone all next week, I'm scheduled to take a training course in iFix databases down in Phoenix.  I worry about whether work will be able to survive.  It sounds a bit like bragging to say that but whether I'm on vacation or sick I receive at least one email and one phone call with problems from work.  Today is no exception with the count at three emails and one hour long phone call already.  The fact that I get so many support calls is just one indicator of the problems of being short staffed.  I don't have enough time to do much more than bandage problems instead of actually sitting down and fixing the things.  It's very discouraging because I'm constantly running to keep things working but because the bandages work so well (usually) everyone is under the impression that I do such great work when in reality I'm making do with chewing gum and bailing wire when I could really fix the problem if I only had the time!

We have a new, relatively, fellow in my department which supposedly brings us up to three in MIS.  In reality, since the MIS Director is also the HR Manager and the new fellow is still coming up to speed (there are some things one can only learn from experience), we are right about 1.75.  Don't get me wrong, the new guy is a hard worker and if there is a machine to be built or a user with a hardware problem, he can take care of the situation in a trice.  The problem is that he's a little gun shy when it's a software issue and that is mainly due to a lack of experience and the lack of experience mainly comes from my being too willing to step in and fix whatever.  Well, today he went through a major baptism by fire experience, one of the main servers went down and the only help I could offer over the phone was very minor.  Thankfully he was able to fix the problem and I hope that does the trick in shifting user confidence (and his own) in the new guy's favor.

This entry authored by Tyran at 11:16

Thu, 11 Apr 2002

Today we (Shanna and myself) took Jonathan to Primary Children's Hospital for an evaluation by Dr. Nancy Cantor.  The appointment was for 9:00 AM and lasted until just after 11:00 AM.  At the conclusion of the interview, she guaranteed us that Jonathan does indeed have Autism.  This came as both a great shock and relief to us.

The shock comes from the fact that two years ago we were absolutely assured that Jonathan could in no way be classified as having Autism.  Instead, we were told that he is developmentally delayed and that he would catch up to his peers.  As such, for the last two years we have vehemently defended Jonathan from the standpoint that he did not have Autism but that he had developmental delays.  Our observations seemed to bear this out, until I started to look at them qualitatively instead of quantitatively.  Jonathan has made huge developmental strides in the last two years but when I compared Jonathan's milestones with those same milestones of an average child I more clearly realized that Jonathan's were not the same quality as the average.  This made me realize that Jonathan will never be an average child, as I said this was shocking to realize.

This tears at my heart because of my own childhood.  Jonathan reminds me very much of myself at his age but more extreme.  I was always top of my class, having a high school reading comprehension level in first grade does that sometimes.  Academic life is supposedly easy for the "nerds" because the school work is a breeze.  That much is true, the school work was mundane and I rarely worried about homework.  What is not true is that this makes life easy.  I remember going home on more than one occasion and just sobbing uncontrollably because I just wanted to be normal like the other kids.  It seems silly now but at the time it was devastating.  If it was that hard for me, what will it be like for Jonathan who is a gifted student hampered by the clouds of Autism when he realizes that he is not like the other kids?

At the same time, this news came as a great relief.  For the first time in seven and a half years we know some of the reason behind why Jonathan is who he is.  Of course the Autism Spectrum is very broad and the actual causes of Autism are not really known; so, in some ways we are no better off today than we were yesterday.  We know now why working with Jonathan as if he has Autism seems to work so well and we can now call on more resources to help him adapt to the world around him.  We now know that we are not alone as parents of a truly unique child nor is Jonathan alone in his struggle to function within society.

Let me make quick mention about two related things.  Too often we judge something that is not average as being either better or worse/good or bad.  In reality, not being average does not make something inherently good or bad.  Not being average is either good or bad depending solely upon how the situation is treated.  Not being average is not a judgment on the quality of a person's life.  Average or not average, they are both statements on what challenges a person will face.  The average person has to struggle to be unique; because he is, afteralll, only average.  The non-average person has to struggle to fit in with the average people because he is already quite unique.  Whose struggle is more valid?  Whose accomplishment is more praiseworthy?  I hope we all realize how ridiculous both questions really are.

The other is the bad habit we have of dehumanizing people who are not mentally average.  These people are known as variously schizophrenic or manic or autistic or phobic people.  Why don't we (myself included until today) recognize these people as humans with a disorder instead of other breeds of people?  They have Schizophrenia or a mania or a phobia or Autism but these things do not define who they are but only a condition that contributes to who they are.  There are no Downs babies but there are babies with Downs Syndrome.  Do you see the difference?  I didn't until it stared out at me from Jonathan's blue eyes.  Jonathan is not autistic.  Jonathan is loving, bright, intelligent, cheerful, happy, content and he has Autism.

A final side note, when I got to work this afternoon my hopes and more from yesterday were confirmed.  Now we just have to keep the momentum up.

This entry authored by Tyran at 19:36

Sun, 14 Apr 2002

We spent the day doing yard work yesterday.  We started off at my grandmother's for a morning of trimming bushes, roses and trees followed by a lunch made of chili, chips and cake.  We took some of the tree trimmings home with us to plant as new trees around our own yard (the original tree has at least five or six off-spring from this method).  We finished up the day with a roaring bonfire.  Because I had mentioned that our old Christmas tree was on the fire one of the neighbor girls told her mother that we were firing our old tree.  Jonathan and I stayed home as Shanna and the other two kids went off to the store last night.  I noticed in a dead willow at the end of the block what looked like a huge hawk.  The more I looked at it though, the more I realized that it's distinctive head could never belong to a hawk.  Jonathan and I pulled out the old telescope and took a look.  With it's white chest and head we decided that it must have been an osprey.  While it's unusual to see an osprey in this area, it's not completely unheard of.  All in all, a very good day.

Knowing that Jonathan has Autism has brought a rather great change in the way that I look at him.  Most of the time I see my happy little boy but often I see the shadow of Autism obscuring the view.  In a way it's made life easier because I know that Jonathan isn't acting out from a desire to be annoying or disruptive.  It has also made life more difficult because it's hard to not just excuse everything as part of the Autism, absolving him of any responsibility for his own behavior.  That is the very thing that we want to avoid.  Now I am struggling to find the balance between accepting and acknowledging my son's Autism and yet continuing to have high expectations of and for him.

Tomorrow I leave for Phoenix.  If all goes well, I'll continue to update the Whinery and Everyday Yoga.  I just hope that everything goes smoothly both here at home and for me on the road.

This entry authored by Tyran at 21:03

Mon, 15 Apr 2002

What a day!  I spent the morning packing, making a quick stop at work and then lunch with the family before heading to the airport.  Everyone always says arrive two to three hours early, well I did and I sat at the gate for the full three hours.  Actually I sat there much longer than that because the airport was shutdown to all incoming flights due to high winds and our plane as unable to land in Salt Lake for us to board.  We ended up on the 7:30 PM flight and arrived in Phoenix at about 8:30 PM local time.  It took forever to find a place to eat (Wendy's is where we ended up) and then we crashed for the night.  Well, tried to crash is more like it as the flight path for Sky Harbor (which is only three miles away) is right over our hotel and so I can tell when each and every plane lands.

This entry authored by Tyran at 20:20

Tue, 16 Apr 2002

I have a covey of pigeons (is covey correct for pigeons?) living in my window well.  Four or five adults and about the same number of chicks cheeping and cooing.  Quite lovely until one realizes it's only 4:00 AM!  I was going to try and get back to sleep but the planes have started taking off already.

Our class is being taught by Adrian White from Charlotte, NC.  He's a single 27-30 year old who has been working with Fix products since the DOS days.  He plays volleyball and races motor cycles.  The other two students make an odd lot as one is an older fellow, mid-fifties, and not too apt in the field of computer software.  He stutters a bit, I just hope that none of the others belittle him because of it.  The other fellow seems half-asleep.  All terribly judgmental of me but we'll see what time will tell.  The class itself was mainly an overview of what we learned in the 154 class.  While the review was good, I think it was a bit too extensive and looking at the material, I will be very surprised if we cover everything.

Finding someplace to eat was much easier tonight, we ended up at the Claim Jumper.  We spent nearly $60 on the meal but it was well worth it.  It was, quite literally, some of the best food I've ever eaten and we're going back on Wednesday.  Speaking of food, who orders alcohol at lunch during a training session?  Apparently, our sleepy student does.  I know that I don't drink but even the other two drinkers in our group were a bit taken a back.  By only an hour after lunch he had gone from merely half-asleep to nearly non-functional as far as the class went!

This entry authored by Tyran at 20:23

Wed, 17 Apr 2002

I know that this is terribly judgmental to say but the one fellow that drinks at lunch is an oversized teenager and the older fellow is a boar (no, that's not a typo as I don't mean that he's a bore).  There is no way we'll cover all of the material by Friday.  It is needless to say that I am quite angry about it.  I'm going to bed before I say something I shouldn't

This entry authored by Tyran at 21:09

Mon, 29 Apr 2002

I really don't like to travel!  I've been home twelve days and I'm finally almost feeling myself again.  It's been just awful trying to bet back into the swing of things and I'm afraid that I'll get settled down just long enough to leave again and throw myself for another loop.  Quite a bit has happened in the last few days; so, instead of trying to write all the details and end up even further behind in my entries I'll just summarize it all tonight.  I managed to pull off a bit of a coup last week and place my department completely in charge of the plant's process control software.  Originally charge for this was split between MIS and our electricians, an arrangement that caused more headaches than not.  Now we just have to live up to everyone's expectations, should be entertaining!

Last week Shanna and I took Jonathan back to Primary Children's Hospital for a structured observation with Dr. Cantor.  While most of what she observed was exactly what we had described previously; Jonathan, true to form, threw out some unexpected curves.  The one that still brings a smile to my face is if that boy is going to hurt me, I will be brave and slug him or give him an apple sandwich.  An older boy attempted to bully Jonathan and discovered that this lovable boy carries quite a punch.  Although I am sure he has apples and knuckles confused, Jonathan really means apples and is sure that a sandwich made of apples is good for dealing with bullies!

My Grandma Ormond's health is not faring very well.  We've been over to visit her the last three evenings and Shanna stopped by this afternoon to help with the house work.  She seems much stronger today but that still means that she has to struggle to get up from her chair.  Her doctor, a bit of a quack in my opinion, thinks some generalized infection is causing the weakness she's experiencing but I just don't really buy that.  I would love for him to be right though.  If she doesn't improve by week's end or if she takes a turn for the worse, I'll trundle her off to my own family doctor whether she likes it or not.

This entry authored by Tyran at 17:49

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