Living with an Aspie: Primary Programs and routines

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This is Spencer helping me out by posing for me. Doesn’t really apply to the topic at hand, but I wanted to include a picture of my silly guy.

We recently had our Primary Program, and boy was it an experience.  It is nerve wracking for all the Sunbeam (3 year old, first timers) parents, but there is a whole other level for us.  So, we had been practicing Spencer’s part for a month!  He learned it the first Sunday we got it, and he had it down.

We would ask him what his part was in the Primary program randomly throughout the weeks leading up to it, and he totally knew it and it wouldn’t be a shock to be asked to say it.  What didn’t occur to us (or at least to me, Jessica) was that when he was asked to go up to the stand, and participate in the program during Sacrament meeting would be a SERIOUS disruption in his routine.  Apparently, we had one that I wasn’t consciously aware of.

When it was time to go up with the rest of the kids, Adam took Spencer with him since Adam is the Primary pianist and had to be there too.  Adam handed Spencer off to his teacher, and Spencer proceeded to meltdown and cry.  I was a little surprised since I had prepared myself for a different reaction completely.  After some convincing, his wonderful teacher got him to sit down by her and distracted him with her cell phone and various other things throughout the program.

Spencer didn’t participate at all.  He didn’t stand up when the other kids did to sing, he didn’t do anything.  When it was his turn to give his part (Grandpa recorded it on the sly), he got up and needed help from the Primary President who was right by him with the script.  And you couldn’t understand a word he said.

He said, “I can be kind to others by sharing the bad guy car.”

After this though, he had gotten a taste of being in the spotlight, and boy he liked it.  After this point, he settled into full on performance mode.  He was up in the front whenever it was time to sing and he lead the music with the song leaders, which is a VAST improvement over shooting bad guys and throwing bombs which he has done in the past.  He also got a little wild and it was terribly difficult for him to want to sit down after that.  Thankfully, his part was at the end (ish) of the program.

I noticed in the week following a rather major disruption of the normal routine (the primary program), he was thrown off in other places.  He had a harder week at school, especially the first day, and he fought with us a lot more.  It just goes to show me how incredibly important all the little routines we have are important.

I always felt like I needed to be more structured at home to establish really set routines, but apparently we have patterns that we follow all the time just to keep the peace.  And if your throw part of it off balance, he has a hard time recovering.

30 in 45 – Tales from Middle-Earth Edition; wherein we meet TROLL

We’re going to try to play this in rapid succession each night and build some quality decks. We’ve purchased the first four expansions, and if we get good enough and enjoy it, maybe we’ll continue buying the mini expansions. It has a lot of potential, so I hope it works out.

Lord of the Rings The Card Game
Scenario: The Old Forest Road
Results:
A: Lore and Tatics -> Win
J: Spirit and Leadership -> Win

Report: This is a co-operative deck building game. Think Magic: The Gathering goes on a field trip to Middle Earth and everyone gets scared by Sauron and bands together instead of playing against each other. You get a few heroes (like Aragorn, Bilbo, Boromir, etc.) from four different spheres of influence (we each played two spheres as noted in the results). I played with Legolas (tactics), Denethor (yes, the coward is a hero in this game), and a made-up elf named Beravor (lore). Jessica played Aragorn (leadership), Prince Imrahil (leadership), and Eowyn (spirit).

Since we hadn’t played this in a LONG time, we decided to do the easiest quest to reacquaint ourselves. It was pretty non-eventful and easy, but my favorite part of my group was when I put a Burning Brand attachment on Denethor. It effectually made him untouchable when defending such that he was able to tame the Beastmaster (a real thing). Legolas picked off many, many enemies from afar. Jessica’s Eowyn was Caught in a Web for nearly the whole game but still managed to navigate us through the locations with ease.

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Our game set up after a particularly devastating loss.

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Our custom built box insert to organize our questing

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Storage for tokens made out of legos

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It’s made to look like the All Seeing Eye

The ensuing games
9/27 The Old Forest Road: Win
9/28 Down the River Anduin: Loss
10/1 Down the River Anduin: Loss
10/2 Down the River Anduin: Loss, but a win after consulting the rules
10/5 Escape from the Dead Marshes: Win
10/5 Hills of Emyn Muil: Loss
10/8 Hills of Emyn Muil: Win

The games started to flow together in our minds after the first one, so here is a summary of what has happened to us thus far. For all the remaining games, Jessica played her Spirit/Leadership deck with some minor changes along the way, and I played the Lore/Tactics deck. I love me some eagles.

Anyway, we played The Old Forest Road to get a feel for some deck adjustments and new heroes and won handily again. After all, it’s just an Old Forest Road after all. How badly can things go just walking down a road?

Down the River Anduin was another story altogether. The plot of the scenario is such that it continues where the previous scenario (Old Forest Road) left off. We were carrying a message to Lothlorien, and we came to the banks of the river Anduin. The plan was simple: Get in some boats, float to Lothlorien and deliver the message. Yeah, it’s funny how naive Middle-Earth people can be. Before we even got to the banks of the river, a TROLL ambushed us. Please notice I capitalized TROLL because there is nothing lower-case about him. No problems right? We’d just throw everyone at him and be on our way. That would work just fine except for when the TROLL invited his friend Chieftain Ufthak (of the Morgul Orcs) and a Marsh Adder. The three hardest enemy cards in the deck. Yay. We died a quick death.

Isn’t he cute?

Ok, Down the River Anduin, take two. Heading towards the bank, and a wild TROLL appears! Not a surprise because that is how the scenario always starts.  What is a surprise is that he brought his twin BROTHER.  TROLL and BROTHER TROLL beat upon us but Gimli and company were able to fight them off and get into the boats.  Unfortunately, the crew was so beaten down that they could not withstand the harrying of the enemies on the riverbanks.  We were so pitiful.

TAKE THREE!  You know how it goes by now: River bank, TROLL and then, well, that’s it.  No one else helped the troll this time, and we were able to get onto the river much faster.  Without many enemies on the banks, we moved quickly down the river. When we reached our destination, we found a welcoming party of a less-than-friendly demeanor.  We found their numbers to be too great and did not successfully break through. Woe was us. Much despair was found in House Jeppson.

But alas, after putting away the game, I (Adam) was not satisfied with the rules interpretation that led to so many enemies at our destination. I won’t bore you with the details of play-order and how certain abilities prevented other abilities, but the end result was that we should have prevented the last two enemies from appearing. They also happened to be the hardest enemies.  We would have been able to handle the others easily, so we counted it a win. I know, I know, the cowards way out. Better a coward than facing TROLL again.

Next Scenario! The Hills of Emyn Muil.  We actually skipped the next few scenarios in the plot order because we wanted to play some we hadn’t played before. Basically, we spent a few scenarios hunting Gollum, and it led us to the Hills of Emyn Muil. This scenario required us to explore a LOT of locations. The challenge is that you can’t leave many of your characters available to handle enemies.  Our first try at this became far too challenging. My Tactics-heavy deck didn’t have enough power to explore locations, and Gollum got away.

Our next playthrough found me revamping my deck to feature a lot more Lore cards with the power to make exploration easier.  Jessica also did the same with her Spirit deck, and we knocked this one down quickly.  Her Rohan riders were all over the country side, and I found a ton of Secret Paths that let us move more quickly.  Gollum didn’t stand a chance against our speed.  We showed him “the meaning of haste”.  (Sadly, Shadowfax is not yet a card we can play. <crossing fingers>)

Ok, last scenario, Escape from the Dead Marshes! We sort of caught Gollum in the Dead Marshes but were now tasked with finding our way out. Not an easy (or pleasant) task. You might remember the Dead Marshes from the The Two Towers with all the dead soldier bodies. Anyway, we had to move quickly, and we did. It was pretty anti-climactic because we just threw everything we had at exploration and got really, really lucky. Two turns was all it took us.  About 10 minutes, and we had done it. I can see how this scenario could be difficult, but it wasn’t for us this time.

Next time, we will attempt to bring Gollum back to Mirkwood for interrogation. Will we succeed? Will we meet TROLL again? Tune in next time to Tales from Middle-Earth!

Days Left: 13 Games Played: 22

30 in 45 – We’re all tied up

It seems that Adam and I are all tied up with our win -loss records.  Quite an accomplishment for me since I seem to lose a lot, but apparently that’s not entirely true anymore.  I am getting better at some of the strategy games, and since Adam and my brains work very differently, he has a hard time figuring out what I’m going to do next.  I have the same problem, but always have so it doesn’t play as much to my disadvantage.  🙂

September 17th – Small World

Results:
Jessica: 80
Adam: 93

Report:
Since we learned we had been playing this incorrectly for a while now, we were excited to play it correctly.  It turned out to be a little more balanced.  Well, that is until yon Dragon Master Trolls came and squished everybody in their path and left behind a trail of fortresses that spelled utter DOOM to anyone trying to conquer them.

I hope that conveyed the despair that Jessica felt after I played my trolls because I don’t think she was very happy with me.  I gave her permission to weep.  Still, her Wealthy Wizards bolstered her end-game scoring to a respectable scoring gap.  Ah, yes, it’s good to be a troll.

Thursday, September 20th – Forbidden Island iOS version
Results:
A & J –> Lost

Report: Our goal here is to get all the treasures and get off the Island before it all washes into the sea.  We can prevent some of this by shoring up flooded areas, but if a flooded area is flooded again, it washes away.  We thought we were doing really well.  We had gotten two of the treasures we sought, and were almost set to claim another when we drew a waters rise card.  It reshuffled an already flooded Fool’s Landing (our way in and out of the Island) into the flood deck.  The first card that came up in the flood phase was Fool’s Landing.  Thus washing it away and leaving us stranded on the Island as it sunk all around us.

Thursday, September 20th – Ingenious iOS version
Results:
A: Lose
J: WIN

Report: The goal of this game is to match colored tiles in such a way that you gain points.  You have 5 colors you are managing.  You want each on to be as high as possible.  The person who has the least amount (in any color) is the one who loses in the end.  You really have to play it to understand, but it’s fun.  This is Jessica’s game that she can usually count on for a win.  She plays it in her spare time while watching TV.  So, she’s pretty good at it.  This round of the game was no exception.

Monday, September 24th – Tobago
Results:
A: 61 – Win
J: 51

Report: Adam here.  Wow, 4 days since our last play.  We are going to need to ramp up the pace.  Ok, so you say Tobago, I say Tobago.  I guess that works better out loud.  This is a game of treasure hunting and movement optimization with a little set theory thrown in.  Since at least one of those things is incredibly interesting to me, I love this game.  It was a little slow starting because we had sort of forgotten the rules. When familiar, it would play quickly.  I think I found the first treasure and we swapped back and forth after that with an exclusionary treasure for each of us.  Jessica got cursed once and lost some serious points.  That and a little luck bumped me to the top, and Mr. Red Jeep won the day!

Lord of the Rings – The Card Game (9/25, 27, 28, 10/1, 2 thus far)
We are playing a lot of this game. Look for the LOTR Edition coming up

September 30th – Unity

Results:
Adam -Orange –
Jessica- Purple – WIN!

Report:
The point of UNITY is the get all the pieces you have on the board in a collection together by strategically picking up and moving pieces around the board. Jessica was still grasping the concepts of this game. It had been frustrating to her in the past, but it seems that she’s got it figured out. It was a rather handy win for her. It did help that when Adam set up the board he let Jessica chose the color she wanted to play, and she chose the group that already had the most unified group to start with. So, it was easier to deal with the rest.

September 30th – Issac

Results:
Adam: 52
Jessica: 77

Report:
Man alive was Jessica on a winning streak tonight! Issac is a game about strategically laying down varying lengths (and point valued) sticks, and picking up said sticks in such a fashion that gains you the most points. Personally, I think I just got lucky and made some excellent blocks and pick ups that really put Adam in a position to gain fewer points. In the end, I got to pick up at least 3 or 4 more sticks, which resulted in a larger victory. After that win though, Adam didn’t want to play anymore games with me that night. 🙂

Days Left: 19   Games Played: 18

Living with an Aspie: Best. Teacher. EVER.

Spencer has been absolutely LOVING school, which is a great big HUGE relief for me.  In talking with his teacher, I totally understand why.  She has gone above and beyond what we ever expected, and we are so very grateful.  We have been incredibly blessed to find a teacher who is willing to adapt a little bit and take care of my darling boy.  As a result, he’s making huge progress socially and can’t wait to go to school.  This attitude is so contrary to a lot of other Aspie’s school experiences, and we are so happy.

Before Spencer started school I sent his teacher an email about Asperger’s and things that Spencer goes through.  She asked my permission to share some of the information with the other parents and kids so they can understand Spencer and help him.  I was all for it, and said sure.  About a week ago, the parents got the following email:

Dear Families

Wanted to share some information with you about one of the friends in our class.  Our friend Spencer has Aspergers Syndrome, which is part of the Autism spectrum.  (This medical diagnosis has actually been combined with the medical diagnosis High Functioning Autism or HFA)  Spencer’s Mom, Jessica, has sent me some information to share with the parents of his classmates.

Children often come home and tell stories about their friends.  I felt it was important that you have accurate information about our friend, Spencer so that you could help your child with ways to be a good friend to him, as well as everyone else.  We have spoken about Spencer having Aspergers in class and have watched an Arthur episode (season 13, episode 6) that actually does a pretty good job explaining about a friend named Carl that has Aspergers. (This episode is available on Youtube and Netflix, if you would like to watch it with your child again).  However, being preschoolers I don’t know that they will fully grasp what Aspergers means, but they can understand that we are all different and Spencer’s needs are going to be different from theirs.

This is some of the information Jessica shared and ways we are encouraging our friends to be good friends to each other.

People with Aspergers:

— Have good language skills, but they have difficulty telling others how they feel and what they need -(All our friends are working on using our words to tell others our needs.  For example, “When you are finished with that toy, can I have a turn?”  We are encouraging our friends to tell Spencer, “When I am finished you can have it.”)

–Are very literal – may not understand when people are joking or upset.

–May have a hard time listening and taking instruction because they tend to get overly focused on something they are doing (At circle time Spencer may not always join us, he will sit in a chair behind us or at one of the tables – he can hear us better over there.  This can be hard for friends to understand why they are not allowed to do the same.  I just tell them that I know they hear just fine on the carpet square, but Spencer NEEDS to hear better over there.)

–May only talk about their favorite subject (Spencer loves robots and Curious George) – (Most of our friends like robots and Curious George, too, so this has worked very well for everyone, especially at snack time)

–They may want to take part in games or activities, but may not know how to do this.  (We encourage our friends to show Spencer how to do things – several friends are actually very good at this and very patient!)

One last thing to mention, which is a side note from [me] (Mom of child with Down Syndrome)- people first language is very important when speaking of others. [My daughter] has Down syndrome, but she is NOT JUST a Down syndrome child.  There is so much more to people than a diagnosis.  She happens to also be a great dancer, a soccer player, book lover, and a fantastic friend to others. I encourage you to use people first language. It really helps others see past the disability and get a good look at the abilities.

I have been very pleased with how well our class has so quickly become a unit.  Friendships are forming.  We stress that we are ALL friends in our class, we take turns, we respect each other, encourage each other and celebrate each other. Our friends have been very accepting of everyone in our class.  Thanks for your help with encouraging your child to be a good friend to others!  If you have any questions, please ask away!

I was so blown away at how she has handled Spencer in her classroom without disrupting the other kids too.  I know that I would not have been able to handle something like that very well when I was teaching.  I feel so blessed to have found someone who seems to appreciate Spencer as much as I do.  He adds so much to our lives, and I’m glad he’s adding to a classroom as well.

30 in 45 – We’re at it again!

We were recently re-reading our old blog post from our last adventure into the 30 in 45, and thought we were incredibly entertaining and wanted to do it again. We started into it on September 6th. We are due to finish on Sunday, October 21st.

The challenge I see us having this time is there are more things we are wanting to do at night rather than just watch TV. I am currently indexing about 20 names a night and trying to exercise at least 4 nights a week. (For more information on what indexing is click HERE) and Adam has some new computer games that are vying for his attention as well. We’ve already missed some nights, but here’s what we have so far.

September 6th – Dungeon Lords
Session Results:
Jessica: 6
Adam: 4

Report:
We were testing out this game again. We hadn’t played it for a while, and someone had offered to trade Adam for another game. He wanted to make sure we didn’t like it anymore by playing it a few times in quick succession (for the record, we like it.) We started playing a little late since the boys got to bad a little late, and Matthew was having a little bit of a rough night.

We only played the first year of our dungeon building. And I can’t really remember much about it after that. In the end, I was able to dig more tunnels and get more imps which gave me more unshared titles than Adam, and I was able to win by a couple. The lesson we walked away with: Always be able to pay your taxes! It will get you in the end if you don’t.

September 7th – Dungeon Lords
Results:
Jessica: 24
Adam: 16

Report:
We got it set up and playing a lot faster. We went through the first year a lot faster than the night before. Jessica dug a lot of tunnels and had a lot more rooms working for her than Adam. When the adventurers braved our dungeons, they were able to conquer all of Adam’s 3 tunnels and one room before one escaped by the skin of his teeth. Jessica’s dungeon faired better, and she had 1 tunnel conquered and no adventurers ever saw the light of another day.

The second year, we realized why the game was going so easily for us, and why we were getting more monsters than we remembered. Apparently, you’re supposed to pay the monster upon hiring them, NOT just on pay day. This really cut down on our hiring of monsters and made us use our resources a little better.

When the adventurers made it in, Adam’s dungeon faired MUCH better than the year before and better than Jessica’s this year. He was able to defeat all the adventurers quickly. Jessica took a couple more rounds, but was able to defeat them all too. In the end, it was that first year that really took it’s toll on Adam’s score, and Jessica pulled out the win.

Adam’s notes:  Jessica really knows how to be an evil dungeon lord!  I don’t know how she does it, but every time I turned around she was one-upping me.  This game seems to be growing on us.  I nearly traded it away, but right now I’m glad I did not.

September 8th – Thurn and Taxis
Results:
Jessica: 7
Adam: 31 <-Win

Report:
This was not Jessica’s night. Adam put together an absolutely BEAUTIFUL route of 10 cities that got him into nearly every province very early in the game. Jessica lost a route since she took a gamble and it bit her in the keister. Adam got a lot more of the bonuses and got rid of all his houses before Jessica was even close. As a result, she lost about half her points.  Adam’s notes: This always seems to be a game I can do really well at.  I think it is just because you don’t have much to keep track of, but either way, I find it a joy to play.

September 9th – Small World
Results:
Jessica: 77
Adam: 92

Report:
With this game, Adam observed some trends that seem to happen quite frequently. The berserker race power isn’t as cool as you initially think it will be, and it ends up with trolls a lot more often than not. The biggest realization we had was that we’d been playing it wrong for quite some time.

Apparently, when one of your areas is conquered, you don’t lose all your pieces. You only lose ONE of the pieces that was defending your area. We’d been losing all our pieces, and as a result Adam COMPLETELY pummeled Jessica’s trolls and drove them to decline after one turn!! It was kind of a turning point for the game, but it was still fun.

September 12th – Pandemic
A & J: WIN!
Disease: conquered

Report:
When we started, the set up looked pretty good. Only one of the four diseases was really going rampant, things didn’t look so good for Asia. We kept trying to get things under control, and just as we would get close the city we were almost ready to treat would come up again and we’d have a major out break on our hands. That happened about 6 or 7 times, and just before the world was about to succumb to disease and explode, we were able to cure all the diseases. Thus, we saved the world last night. You’re welcome world! 🙂

September 14th – Race for the Galaxy
Results
J: 58 <– Win
A: 48

Report from Adam:
This was a really lucky game of drawing for Jessica. She pursed the alien technologies, and she drew card after card of alien cards. In the end, she was able to draw a 6 cost development that SERIOUSLY capitalized all her alien cards, and she pulled out a pretty handy win.

I was pretty frustrated with her win since the last time we played Jessica won with fewer points than I lost by this time.  She did seem pretty pleased with herself as she did a victory dance.  I  even got some great synergy going, but Jessica managed to play the right cards.

September 16th – Endeavor
Results:
J: 67
A: 69

Report:
This game is an interesting game. You can’t ever really know how you’re doing (unless you’re THAT obsessive about keeping track of points in your head) until the very end. Although Adam won, Jessica was not that far behind. She was bumming about halfway through the game when she saw that Adam was REALLY working up his point tracks.

In wise move of drawing buildings, she grabbed a card that allowed her to draw 2 cards on her turn. So, she drew cards that really upped her point tracks and put her in a position to win. But alas, Adam had managed to pull out the win.

The strange thing about this game, we didn’t put ourselves in a position to attack the other or the neutral player ever. We also had every space on the board occupied. We’ve never done that before either. All around, we had a great game.

Days Left: 35   Games Played: 7

4 months

Matthew is 4 months old!  Wow, the summer went by so fast, and it feels like Matthew has always been here with us.  It’s amazing how fast we really seemed to adapt to having him here, and get things into our new normal.  Here are some favorite photos of our cutie over the last few months:

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I LOVE the expression on his face. It’s so thoughtful and ponderous.

Sunday
This is our favorite Sunday out fit for Matthew. Thanks Aunt Rachelle and Uncle Nate

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We  had his 4 month well baby check a few days ago and here’s how he’s shaping up compared to where his brother was at this point:

Matthew:                                     Spencer:
Height: 27.25 inches                   Height: 28 inches
Weight: 17 lbs 7.5oz                   Weight: 16 lbs 4 oz
Head: 42 cm                               Head: 42 cm

Matthew doesn’t miss many meals. 🙂

I did Matthew’s 3 month photos the week we came back from Utah (in August), but I just realized I hadn’t put any of them up.  I got some good ones, and some of them I’m SO bummed the background wasn’t right in a couple of them or the camera focus moved at just the wrong time.  Here are some of my favorites of that we got.

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Shortly after these pictures we cut his hair. It’s still standing straight up in the back, it’s just a lot shorter. I didn’t want to cut it before I captured the cuteness that is his mad scientist hair.

He is such a different baby than his brother, and he’s such a sweet heart too. We are so bless to have this little guy in our family.

First Day of Preschool!

Smile Spencer started preschool today. I decided it was probable more stressful for me.  I worry about him all the time.

He wasn’t overly excited about it, but he was excited when he remembered he got to go play on the playground.  We got there, and Spencer left me to go to the playground without a backward glance.

He’s never really had issues leaving me, so it’s not something I was surprised about.  I’m actually glad he’s this way, it makes it so much easier to leave him there (it won’t always be that way, but for the most part it will).  Thursday is the long day of his normal weekly schedule.  A nervous day for me to start him on, but that’s when the school started.  He’ll normally do a half day on Tuesday, Wednesday and then the long day on Thursday.

His teacher called me after lunch (because I asked her to) to tell me that he was doing well, but they’d had their moments. I’m so glad we had gone to see her a few days before and get comfortable in the classroom by himself and shared information about his Asperger’s with her.  She was not surprised when he didn’t want stay with the group during circle time or would rather do a puzzle by himself.

She did tell me that he was interacting with other kids, and trying hard, which is really difficult for him.  We are so hopeful that he will get better and learn interact better with his peers.  His teacher is absolutely wonderful and so willing to work with him.

All in all, Spencer’s first day was a good day.  Lets hope with have more good days than less than good days.

Living with an Aspie: Meet My Aspie

My Aspie This is Spencer. He is 3 (and a few months more than a half) years old. He loves to play with his dad, play with legos, watch Curious George, love on his brother and just be a little (okay, a lot) silly. He also has Asperger’s Syndrome (or High Functioning Autism).

Let me tell you a little bit about Aspergers Syndrome. Aspergers is part of the Autism spectrum, and due to recent changes to the Autism spectrum it is now just lumped in with High Functioning Autism. What makes Aspergers Syndrome (AS)/High Functioning Autism (HFA) different than classic Autism is mostly the language skills. People with AS/HFA have no lack of development in language, but they do have other typically autistic symptoms.

– They find it difficult to tell people what they need and how they feel
– They find it difficult to meet other people and make new friends
– They find it difficult to understand what other people think and how they feel.
– They can have good language skills. But some people with Aspergers syndrome think that people always mean what they say. For example, someone with AS might not be able to tell when someone is joking
– They may only talk about their favorite subject.
– They may be very interested in some things. For example, they may be very interested in trains or the weather.
– They may want to take part in games or activities with other people. But they may not know how to do this.
– They may like to play the same game or do the same thing every day.

We’ve found that Spencer has trouble with all these areas to one degree or another.

He has great language skills (which is not typical of classic Autism) and likes to chat about his most current obsession, which happens to be robots or Curious George. He will answer questions, if prompted to do so. He may not if you just asked him. Often we’ll have to tell him to please answer our questions.

Spencer always means well, but he doesn’t understand how to communicate his emotions and sometimes they come out more aggressively than he really intends. We’ve been working on this, but sometimes it doesn’t always work.

Spencer really does want to play with other kids, but he doesn’t know what to do when he asks them to play with him and they answer. He just doesn’t quite grasp how to play with other kids (and it’s not from lack of socializing and trying). So more often than not, Spencer will find a toy he loves and just play by himself.

He thrives well under a very consistent routine. We’ve haven’t been great at this, but there are things we have to do the same way everyday. It causes him a great deal of stress to have his routines changed. We worry about him when it comes time to start school, but we are doing everything we can to help him make a smoother transition.

Spencer is also bothered by loud, sudden noises, even when his brother starts crying. He can be easily over stimulated in a large room like a gym that sound echoes off the walls. When this happens, we’ve found it best to try to take him out of the room let him go some place a little quieter to relax a bit and then try to bring him back to the group. Doesn’t always work, but we have to try.

Spencer is SUCH a sweetheart, and a great kid to be around. We love him every much, and want to record his (and our) journey through his alien planet.

We went on Vacation

W just got back from a vacation in Utah and Idaho to visit our family and a few friends out there.  We had a great time, but we are SO glad to be home.  I’ll start with our preparations for our trip.

I made pillow cases for us so we didn’t have to sleep on uncomfortable and not our pillows.  And they got to be fun pretty pillows too.

pillows

We left on Saturday, and drove all the way to Great Grandma W’s house in 19 hours. The boys traveled like champs. They did absolutely brilliantly. Matthew even started playing with toys, which he hadn’t done before then. He fell asleep with the rings in his hands.

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We spent Sunday at Great Grandma’s, and my brothers drove up to hang out with us. I was so glad we got to see them. Did I bother to take any pictures of them? No. I didn’t take any pictures of family. I really didn’t take many pictures at all.

So, Monday we went down to Salt Lake to see where we used to live and eat at some of our favorite places. We ate at Ming’s Garden for lunch. SO good. Then drove by our apartment, and went to the Trax station were we headed downtown.

Spencer and Adam on the train into Salt Lake

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Spencer had a blast on the train. We knew he would, but we’re always a little nervous doing new things with him. We walked around Temple square and went to explore the city creek center.

Me and my little boys in Temple Square.  We are looking at the Temple.  The church office building is what you see behind us.

This is us by the reflecting pool in front of the Salt Lake Temple. No, that isn’t the building you see behind us. We were on the wrong side to get a picture with the temple, and we didn’t want to walk all the way to the other side for a picture. So, we have the Church offices in the picture behind us.

After playing for a while, we headed back to our car in South Salt Lake and had dinner with a couple of my former roommates and their families. There are quite a few more of us now. 🙂

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The next day (Tuesday), we ran some errands and went down to Provo to hang out with my brothers again. Mark insisted on washing my car at his carwash, and we were happy to let him. We got to go to dinner with him, and it was great to see where both of my brothers live.

On Wednesday, we headed up to Rexburg for the Jeppson family reunion. We had a great time being able to hang out with and see all of Adam’s siblings and families again. There are quite a few of us, 46 as of Matthew’s birth.

Thursday morning, Adam, bent on keeping up his running (way to go sweetie!!), ran up to the Rexburg temple and back to our hotel. While he was up there, he snapped this picture. Great shot isn’t it?

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Spencer also got to go to a theater for the first time and see a movie. They saw Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. Spencer came out saying he didn’t like it, but he’ll tell us now that he did. Apparently, there were some parts that made him really nervous.

On Friday, a bunch of us went on a hike up “R” mountain or the buttes. We weren’t sure if Spencer would want to go, so we weren’t even planning on it. But he surprised us and said he wanted to go. So, we went.

He got scared going up when it was really kind of slick, and he was afraid he would fall off the mountain. We made it to the top without too much trouble, and Adam thought to take a picture of us.

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Can you tell Spencer was a little nervous?

More of Spencer's nervousness.

Going back down was a lot harder for us, especially for me with a baby strapped to the front of me. I actually fell on our way down. Fortunately, I fell backwards and whacked my elbow so hard that my hand went numb for the remainder of the trek down and didn’t have much grip strength until we got back to Adam’s parent’s house. After my fall, Adam didn’t take any chances. He would walk Spencer down a hard spot and then come help me down too.

Saturday, we had a family picture. It was a little crazy with all the kids and the grandkids, but we were so glad we were able to do it. We forgot Adam’s shirt that I had planned to have him wear so we had to make due with a t-shirt. Not so bad in the group shot, but in our little family shot less lovely. Oh well, what can you do when you forget stuff?

We headed back to Great Grandma’s house after lunch on Saturday. We got us a Papa Murphy’s pizza and enjoyed it. We got both boys to smile for the camera while we were eating it. Spencer, as always, is a little goofy about it. 🙂

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Sunday, we came home and made it in a little over 18 hours. It was a great trip and we were so happy to see everyone, but we are super happy to be home again.

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