Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Christopher starting to ride a bike

Sometimes the little guy catches us off guard. We know he isn't going to have same interests or many of the developmental advances a boy his age would, but we hope that he does eventually. Sometimes he asks or does something so unexpected it takes our breath away. Sunday was one of those times.

He's shown almost no interest in his bike since we got it. He'll watch Courtney or Meghan ride their bikes, but he didn't show any interest in doing it himself. On Sunday, after playing with some sidewalk chalk, he went in the garage, put on the helmet and tried to ride the bike. Down the driveway. By himself.

Deb caught him pretty quickly and I helped him down to the road. He spent a lot of time looking at the pedals and wheels, but eventually was driving himself around.

Getting the hang of it:

Picking his head and looking in front, instead of at the pedals!

Pedaling by himself!

No idea why he wanted to go off roading, but as soon as we got to the pool he wanted to go over the bridge.

He wanted Deb to wear his helmet. He wanted me too, but I didn't let them take a picture.

Finally he wanted to try Courtney's bike for the ride home.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A very geeky Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving 2011 was quite the geeky week.

Technically it started on the Friday before when I did my annual Career Day presentation to Courtney's Middle School. This was my 6th year presenting to the middle schoolers and my 12th year in a row doing something for one of my kids. I received several good questions and hopefully got a few kids interested in being a software engineer.

The 'honey do' project of the week was to finish the pantry by installing drywall on the stairs. For those keeping track, phase one of the project, knocking down the wall and putting up drywall and shelving was completed about 12 years ago. Really, it doesn't normally take this long, but I though Deb was okay with the open stairs until she said something the other day.

In preparation for Thanksgiving Deb made some cake balls and her famous Reese's peanut butter cup pie. Desert wasn't lacking at our house this year! Thanksgiving day was fun with another family, a big turkey and some football!

The geeky part of the week got into full swing as I helped Courtney build her 3-D atom for AC Science. Nothing some Styrofoam and paint can't help design! This was one of those 'a few hours each day for a week' projects. Oh, and it's not due for 2 weeks!

Saturday afternoon Courtney and I watched the Battlestar Galatica episode where they rescue the remaining humans from New Caprica. She pretended to care as I described why they jumped the Galactica into the atmosphere before launching the fighters and even asked a few good questions (such as why didn't they go back to see if anyone was still on the ground after the Cylons left?). May have a fan here ...

Best part was Sunday afternoon while putting up the Christmas Trees, I put on Star Wars (yes the original one!) and Christopher watched it with me. Even said 'Space ship' and called the Death Star a 'moon'. I politely corrected him :) Best part was when the Millennium Falcon shot the Tie Fighters pursuing Luke he cheered!

Oh, and Christopher likes to be tickled. I got him to say 'Tickle me please' and 'I want to be tickled' before I ate him up (originally he would jump in my lap, shove my head down and say 'eat please!'

Deb's hard work:

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Little helper on the Capri

Today the little guy helped me with the THIRD engine for the Capri. Details here.


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Beautiful day for throwing some flags!

Last weekend the weather was perfect, so we spent a lot of time outside. Courtney hadn't had much of an opportunity to use her colorguard flags and rifle this summer since she broke her leg, but she's all healed so she got them out!

Here is Deb and Courtney twirling and throwing the flags.

Christopher thought it looked like fun so he threw the small one in the air. He caught it once or twice, but usually hit himself on the head.

Deb giving me a dirty look since I'm taking pictures of her. I promised not to upload any of her getting hit in the head!

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Dragon*Con 2012

This could be one of those 'Sometimes a Dad has to do what a Dad has to do' stories, but I think I had more fun than Meghan did!

On Friday my oldest daughter, Meghan, who will be 17 next month asked me to take her to Dragon*Con. I was thinking about looking into going this weekend, but we had a bunch of other things to do. That was before Jonas started talking to Meghan. Jonas is Christopher's ABA therapist. Or will be until Tuesday (another story for another day). Jonas is a big fan, and last year told us a lot about Dragon*Con and why Meghan and I should go. This year he was again going down right after Christopher's therapy and kept encouraging Meghan to go (I was out running errands (Machine shop!) so didn't hear it all.)

So at 6 pm on Friday we decided to go to Dragon*Con on Saturday. We did some quick research, figured out the first few things to do and set the alarm.

We were up and out the door by 7 am on our way to the Sandy Springs MARTA station (oh, there was also a concert in downtown, the UGA football game and some literary event I can't find the name of) expecting a ton of people. Buying our tickets we saw the first cosplay character: Dr. Horrible. I didn't say anything to Meghan, but since I had my Battlestar Galactica t-shirt on he started talking to us. Another woman was standing near us and started talking as well. Turns out each of them have a different view on the merits of Star Trek original, vs. DS9 vs Voyager. It was nice disagreement, and Meghan got her first taste of geek conflict.

On the ride down more and more people dressed up, in geek t-shirts or just with badges on got on the train. A few made me realize I didn't warn Meghan about the interesting Cosplay we might she. She of course said she knew all about it and had seen video and pictures from Comic*Con. Though a few of the Gimp pairs made her give me a strange look, which I ignored ;)

Waiting on line for tickets went pretty smooth, even if there were several THOUSAND people on line with us. I ran into a couple of coworker on line, so I think I got some geek-cred for the shirt and even being there! Once we had our tickets we headed up to the parade route to get a good place to stand. We ended up standing next to a guy with his teenage daughter and her friend. And man those girls were giving the dad a hard time. He had a nice camera rig and was taking pictures of everyone interesting, especially the women. Every woman who came by with even the slightest cleavage or leg/ass showing the girls gave him a hard time. Of course then the gladiators, Spartans from 300 and man zombies came by he gave it as good as they did. Meghan was great during all of this, sometimes teasing me, sometimes making comments about outfits and taking it in stride when I told her to cover her eyes because the Spartans were coming ;)

No I didn't take any pictures. That's a little too creepy for me. Though there were people stopping cosplay people and asking for pictures all the time.

The parade was really interesting. Cool, different, strange, bizarre and odd all the same time. About 50 minutes in we left our spot and started working our way to the first session we wanted to see. The sidewalks were packed! She held on to my shirt as I pushed my way through. (I had a few flashbacks to bars in college.)

The first session we saw was about the show 'V'. It was actually pretty bad. Robert Englund and the priest from the reboot where the only ones there. And man does Robert like to talk. I was pretty turned off by him. I was worried they'd all be like this, but the next one definitely made up for it!

We went to panel with several stars from Eureka! and Pete from Warehouse 13. This was the main session Meghan wanted to go when we did a quick look at the schedule the night before. It was excellent! Both funny stories, lots of jokes and some very strange back and forth between the Eureka! actors. I'm pretty sure Jordan Hinson (who played Zoe) didn't pick her outfit out. Even Meghan commented that her top kept sliding off and she was continually adjusting. On 2 huge 30+ foot screens it was pretty obvious. I also think she was drunk or really hung over. Lots of little comments, cracks. Oh and someone tweeted that they thought she was drunk and she went off on him.

Funniest part was when Eddie McClintock (who plays Pete on Warehouse 13) answered a fan question about what products he'd like to endorse on the show. The Eureka! guys made fun of how much they did product placements, especially the Subarus. He commented that the major TV sponsor is Levitra and how he'd like to include that. To quote: "Look out Mrs. Fredricks. You scare the crap out of me, now its my turn!'. Then he made dick jokes the rest of time. And Jordan kept trying to throw in a 'that's what she said', but bombed most of the time.

We then went to a Dr.Who panel with Mark Shepard and Garth David-Lloyd. These guys were great. Meghan has become a big Dr. Who fan lately and had a great time listening to them tell stories and answer questions. Lots of cool information including how Mark Shepard almost didn't do Dr. Who because of a schedule conflict. Everyone told him he was crazy to give up and the producers of the other show changed their schedule for him.

We then went to dinner (at Hooters, since it was the only place with a small line. Heck the waitresses looked like nuns compared to some of the costumes ;) and got on line to see an early release of the latest Dr. Who episode. We waited for an hour and a half then got jammed into a ball room with 1400 other people. Oh and 1400 others who stood on line in the Atlanta heat all day. Or who hadn't showered or who were just really large. It was VERY tight and very loud. But we saw the episode early.

The one picture I wish I had taken was the woman in front of us with a formal/prom gown made into a Tardis. It was really good.

Then we headed back to home on MARTA. Met another group and talked about Warehouse 13, Dr. Who and Eureka. And Nightmare On Elm Street since one of the ladies was dressed as a female Freddie Kruger (a very nice costume too. Not too revealing but enough to fit in.)

As always we had to have some drama on anything we do, so we got off at the wrong MARTA station. Oops. Had to pay for a taxi to drive us < 1 mile from the Dunwoody station to Sandy Springs.

I have a feeling we'll be doing multiple days next year ...

Monday, August 29, 2011

Autism Awareness - Service Dogs

A friend of ours, who has two autistic sons has started a website to draw attention to the laws and needs for service dogs. The website is here.

We've seen first hand how people don't understand the need for the service dog or what the rules are. At Christopher's birthday party last year she had to explain to the manager at DAC Kids why Barkley must be allowed in with the boys.

Unfortunately she had an incident with a McDonald's manager a few months ago who chased her out of the McDonalds and punched her because the manager didn't want the dog in the restaurant. Our friend panicked when one of the boys took off and she dropped a cup of soda when looking for the boy and the manager thought she threw it at her. The manager followed her into the parking lot and hit her.

Video about it here.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Is the increase in Autism diagnoses because the geeks are able to mate now?

This week there has been a lot of talk about an article in Time ( that looks at the possibility of 'clusters' of Autism in general and Asperger's in particular around technical business centers or hi-tech university alumni. This isn't the first time I've heard about this, but one of the first I've seen it discussed in mainstream press. I was forwarded the Time article by at least 3 people and this was a topic of discussion at a birthday party yesterday.

For those who haven't been following the stories, the question about where Autism and Aspeger's is growing is related to how the parents of these children are meeting and mating. One of the stranger arguments is that since women are now in the math, science and engineering fields they are meeting more men and are marrying and having children. And these children have an increase incidence of Autism because the parents are technically or process inclined. In the Time article they talk about the number of children of MIT graduates who are Autistic. Another article earlier in the spring talked about clusters of Autistic children around Huntsville, Alabama (Rocket City, where a lot of the NASA engineers live and work over the last 50 years) and Eindhoven, Netherlands, the Dutch Silicon Valley.

The articles point out that in the last 50 years (last 20 specifically) it has become socially acceptable to be an engineer or 'geek'. The pay in these industries can be significantly higher than others as well. All of which leads to the premise that the 'geeks' are now able to attract mates that traditionally hadn't been available to them. And this attraction is leading to the increase in Autism since more 'carriers' are 'being allowed' to mate than any other time. In case you missed it, the 'carriers' are the geeks, male and female. Stretching it a little, the geeks and spinsters of the 1800's and first part of the 20th century couldn't attract mates, so the 'chance' of having an Autistic child were low, now that there are places for them to meet, or the socioeconomic changes mean it is now okay to marry them so the rates of incidence are increasing.

This research strongly suggests (but doesn't scientifically prove) that Autism and Asperger's is genetic. Like many diseases where both parents need to be carriers to trigger a recessive trait, is it possible that Autism is recessive? Or when the combination of the strong, but not indicative traits of Autism in engineers, mathematicians and other 'geeks', combines with some genes in our mates to cause this?

I don't know and expect to see a lot more research into this, but it does kind of make sense. The number of parents we've met in our travels with Christopher suggest that a lot of them (or both) are 'geeky' like I am. And not just engineers, programmers etc, but parents who were 'gifted and talented' or excelled in school to become lawyers and doctors.

Honestly, I don't know how I feel about this. At one level it is nice to hear they are making progress in identifying what causes his Autism, but at the same time it points to me being the reason. (I know, I'm reading too much into this, so please no calls from family ;). It also suggests that new parents with 'geeky' or 'gifted' backgrounds should have their children screened sooner to get jump on the treatments.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Great service from Lowes

Here is a copy of a message I posted to the Lowes' Facebook page. Reposting here so it gets picked up by the search engines.


I want to share with you my experience at the Lowe’s in Acworth GA (#1651) this week. I’ve been shopping at this store since it opened and have always had good service, but this time was far better than I could have hoped for.

I was there with my daughter at dinnertime looking to buy double-keyed deadbolts that matched the sets we already have. Having rekeyed all the locks last summer, I thought that you couldn’t rekey a lock to an old key, so I had removed all the knob locks from the house and brought them with me to rekey them to the new deadbolts. The reason I was doing this was my 5 year old son, who is Autistic, started unlocking the doors and running away a few days before. Any chain or non-keyed lock we tried he quickly figured out how to defeat. It had been a stressful few days keeping an eye on him (and ear open during the night) to make sure he didn’t take off again.

I picked out the three deadbolts I wanted to buy and your associate Jerry asked if I needed help. I explained that I needed the deadbolts all keyed the same and the knobs I brought in rekeyed to match. He told me that he couldn’t rekey the knobs. But before he could continue I cut him off and told him they “did it last time, so why not now?”. (Even my daughter was surprised by my response, but in my defense I panicked a little trying to figure out how to get the house secured for my son.)

Jerry very nicely and very calmly explained that Lowe’s wasn’t a locksmith, BUT that the locks I had selected could be keyed to match my existing key. It took a few seconds for that to sink in, since in the past I’d never been able to get new locks with old keys, regardless of what store or company I took them to. Turns out the new Schlage locks are reprogrammable. At this point I apologized to Jerry and explained about my son. He was genuinely concerned about my problem and spent a lot of time showing me how the new locks worked and setting all the locks to match my old keys. Rather than sending me home with the locks and instructions, he set them all up for me.

By the time we were done Jerry must have spent 30 minutes with me getting things sorted out. He gave me his name and told me to call if I was having problems. He even apologized for the confusion about rekeying, but it was entirely my fault. I took the locks home and within 30 minutes had all the doors changed.

Can you forward this on to the Store Manager and thank her or him for having such a great staff and to Jerry for helping me when I was more than a little freaked out?


Chris Curtin

Friday, July 01, 2011

Dash shell reassembly

After all the work to cleanup and paint the metal frame that one will ever see again, it was time to put it all back together. Well, not everything. The HVAC piping needs to be cleaned and the foam insulation replaced, but the metal and the wires are back.

(Why work in the garage where it is 90+ degrees when the house is air conditioned and the computer with the 'before' pictures are in the house?)

Not a lot to see here. (If you want to see what individual parts of the wiring look like behind the plastic, go here)

Hey, it's 90+ degrees outside (yes, I'll clean the table)

Why work on the garage floor if the table inside and air conditioned?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Book review: Be Different - adventures of a free range Aspergian

"Don't Self Diagnose!" was one of the first things I picked up when doing research into what could be going on with Christopher almost 3 years ago. It is really hard not to as you read about the behaviors of people actually diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum (ASD).

Reading this book certainly makes it hard not to. More about that later. First, my thoughts on this book.

"Be Different: Adventures of a Free-Range Aspergian"  by John Elder Robison. This book is a series of stories and advice by a grown adult, probably in his late 40s or early 50's who was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome when he was 40. It contains the stories of how he struggled through his education, teen years and first part of his life as an adult. He also points out some of the things that made him very successful in several different, very disparate fields. Everything from 'tuning' bicycles as a kid to custom electronics for music to specialized auto repair.

It is a fascinating story of his life experiences and how he can now associate them back to his Aspergian brain. In more than a few parts you can't help to feel sorry for him, and the later cheer him for not giving up or letting his 'diagnosis' define who he is. Even if you don't know someone with Aspergian's it is an interesting story to read. You'll be amazed how many things he associates with Aspergian's that we do ourselves or have known others to do as we grew up.

This book is also apparently where the term 'nypical' came from. I came across this term many times but never knew why/where it came from. Basically the author doesn't like calling someone 'normal' or 'typical' because no one really is. So he calls them 'nypical'.

The sections about how Apergian's can't read facial expressions, tone of voice etc were very interesting to read. I had to stop a few times and try to wonder what that would have been like.

Since we still don't know what exactly to call Christopher's challenges, I read this book in hopes of seeing and understanding what is going on with him. (Asperger's probably isn't one of them because of his language issues. Asperger's is often characterized by the strong, almost intense vocabularies. And the ability for those with the diagnosis to go on and on about one specific, obsessive topic.)

Back to my "Don't Self Diagnose" comment above. Reading this book it is really, really hard not to apply his stories to what happened to me as I grew up. But at the same time, many of the things he associates with his Asperger's seemed to happen to everyone growing up. In each chapter I can either see those things happening to me, my brothers or my friends. That being said, the vast majority of the people I get along with (brothers included) are like me, so I can't be sure that we all aren't suspects. (A whole other post will be about the recent research showing Autism clusters around hi-tech geographic areas. That one has me thinking  A LOT)

For example, a huge number of the engineers I've met over the years, both hardware, software, mechanical, electrical etc. have made the same comment: I'm good at what I do because I can focus for a long period of time on something. As kids many of us got in trouble for doing this (I remember getting caught reading Star Wars in class, hiding it behind my regular book because I was obsessed with that story). In this book the author identifies this single, obsessive nature as a strength of Aspergian brains. Does that mean all of us who can focus (obsess?) on something for hours and days have Asperger's?

Another example, many people I've worked with, not just engineers but those drawn to a technical career have joked 'I have no idea how I ended up with '. Or their friends and family tease them about 'dating above their weight class'. (Or come up with interesting nick names for their girlfriends that are shots at me, not her.) The author of this book devotes an entire chapter to meeting women, the challenges and in the end he comes up with a basic premise: the women in his life have CHOSEN him. Nothing he did directly could have made them interested in him, they just became interested after getting to know him. (Also they exclusively made the first move) And that almost nothing he did in the relationships kept them around (which isn't the same as driving them away, more that his attempts at romance etc. fail miserably). They have decided that the benefits of being with him outweigh the quirks of him being Aspergian.

I'm still not sure how I feel about this observation. I think every guy jokes about wondering 'why she's still with me', but Deb was the one who approached me first, at a time where I had no idea what to do with girls and was failing miserably each time I tried... ;) And many of the wives/girlfriends over the years have joked(?) that they can deal with the quirks of us guys because of the other benefits.

One final thought about the book: The author ends with an interesting view of how things are different as an adult than when he was a kid. One of them hit home hard. When he was a kid he was teased, even by teachers, about his ability to become focused on something, learn about it very quickly and become an expert in a short period of time. As a kid he was 'odd' or 'nuts' (he uses 'nuts' to describe himself a lot in this book) and something to ridicule. As an adult he's seen as a fast learner and expert for the same qualities. I remember vividly being teased about my obsessions as a kid, but now how quickly I understand new things is called out regularly as one of my strengths.

So you can see why self diagnosis could be dangerous. And for the record I don't think I have Asperger's syndrome nor am I on the spectrum. I'm just a typical geek in the 21st century.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Spring Baseball for Christopher

Last Saturday was Christopher's first game for the Spring season. He's playing at the Horizon Field in Acworth.

This is a big step for him. At the suggestion of a lot of people, including his doctor, we tried him in t-ball last Fall at Adams Park. After one practice it was obvious that he wasn't ready to do a mainstream league, but he was too young for the special needs field.

The field is different than anything I've seen before. It is totally fenced in with the only way in or out through the dugouts. The field is 100% playground soft/spongy with no dirt or grass.

Every player as a 'buddy', usually a teenage boy or girl, but there are a number of adults for those kids needing extra help. Every kid gets three swings at pitches (if they can hit coach pitched) or use the tee until they hit. When the ball is hit the kids run until one of the opponents get the ball, then they stop. They do try to throw to the correct bases and the buddies help with catching and telling where to throw.

Parents are not allowed on the field. They want the parents to watch instead of running around with the kids.

Christopher's buddy was a guy probably a little older than me who was wonderful with him.

Christopher got up twice (like all the other kids) and had good hits. He didn't do so well running to base, but I think he got the idea the second time.

He definitely understood going after the ball, though sometimes not throwing it to the base. Still I think he had a good time.

This was strange. Usually Christopher is the largest boy, often mistaken for someone 3 years older. Here, he is the smallest.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Nice having a chauffeur

Meghan is 16 and has her permit, so she's always asking us to take her driving. Well, on Saturday she got her wish, big time.

I had her drive me all over the place Saturday morning. First a 40+ minute drive to the speed shop to pick up a part for the Capri. This was on roads she doesn't know and at speeds from 35 to 55. She did great. Even did good turning the Mustang around in the parking lot where many of the motors in the cars there cost more than the Mustang is worth! Then had her drive back, this time a different way, so different roads again.

Then had her drive me around Acworth/Kennesaw for a few stops, including parking in a very crowded Home Depot. Her only reward was a lunch at Zaxby's!

I could get used to this. Except the part with no radio and saying 'a little to the left Meghan' all the time.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Horn cover!

Quick update. Was able to get the ball joint cover installed and the driver's side suspension put back together.

I also installed some Maximum Motorsports solid Caliper sleeves to hold the brake pad against the rotor.

Lots planned for next week. Kids are on Spring Break so I'm taking the week off to do things with them (and work on the car!) Hopefully the MM bumpsteer kit and hybrid steering shaft will arrive. I'll order the 2003 Mustang Cobra rack tomorrow and it should be here on Saturday too!

One thing that's been bothering me about the car is that the 'cat' head on the horn cover is long gone. I looked around a lot last year for one and no one was selling them. Well, I found one on eBay for $5. Plus $5.20 shipping!

Here it is:

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Christopher and the toy Mustang

About 15 years ago I bought an 97 Mustang Cobra radio controlled car. For years as the girls were growing up it was a staple at birthday parties and get togethers with friends as I would take it out and the kids would chase it or have me run between their legs.

Last weekend it was unseasonably warm, so I got the car out and played with Christopher and Courtney. Here is a video of them chasing it.

You can clearly hear Christopher at the beginning saying 'my turn, my turn' which is a huge step for him. At his last IEP we were told that he doesn't understand taking turns and it is something we've been working on with him.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Why digital Newspapers are bad for kids

Isn't it strange the things we remember as kids? I very clearly remember going to Ed's Cigar Box on Main Street in Danbury, CT to get the Sunday papers with my Dad. He'd get the New York Times, the New York Daily News and I think the Danbury News Times (or the Danbury paper was delivered on Sunday, since it was delivered every day.)

I remember their always being today's paper in the house for me to read the comics. And eventually for me to start paying attention to the other sections. I think this was a big part of why I love reading today. Pre-internet I would read anything I could get my hands on. Sometimes to put it down immediately, sometimes to read it fascinated by something I hadn't read before. In college I was one of the few people on my floor who got the Boston Globe every day (I know, I pretty much skipped the sports sections) and remember a woman on the floor asking me why I get it. And not being surprised later when she told me she hates reading.

Why the trip down memory lane? Because I think the movement away from dead-tree newspapers and magazines to digital in the home is a very bad thing.

This last weekend my now-13 year old rummaged through the Sunday paper, got the comics and sat and read all of them. She's been doing that for several years and sometimes stops to look at other parts. My 16 year old hunts out the ads and Parade also sometimes stopping to look at the other stories.

It occurred to me a few weeks ago that I don't think they would have taken time from whatever stupid TV show or Facebook game they were playing if they hadn't seen me reading all these years. When Deb and I moved to Atlanta in 1990 I subscribed to the Atlanta Journal (or Atlanta Constitution, I can't remember which was the afternoon paper before they merged). I was a subscriber until about 3 years ago when I got sick of the incredibly Liberal views and superficial reporting of events. So I started receiving the Wall Street Journal. A lot more conservative, but a lot more stories and better depth into the stories. So for their entire lives my kids have had daily newspapers and lots of magazines in the house and have seen me and Deb reading them.

So what does this have to do with digital? The WSJ has an online version and I expect an iPad version soon. Many magazines have online versions and iPad versions too.

The difference is when a child is watching their parents do something, what they see now is not them reading a newspaper or magazine that they can pick up, it is the parents on the computer. Which at first is no different than when they play a game or watch a YouTube video, so they don't see something to mimic. Or something to catch their attention.

I have pictures of my daughters sitting on the floor at various ages looking at my magazines. No way they would understand them, but at least they were doing what I did. And as they started to read, they found lots and lots of things to read 'laying around'.

Look around your house. What is to read that is just sitting around vs. something that you have to boot up to see?

Here is a case where 'do as I do' can have a very powerful change in a child's life.

Another memory I have, in fact something that still happens, is the various articles that my parents or Deb's mom would send me/her/us. Things about investing, about raising children, funny stories. I don't know how many Zits and Calvin and Hobbes cartoons my mom mailed to me in college, but it was a way for us to communicate.

Today, you get a link in an email. Or dozens of them. It isn't the one thing that Mom read and said 'Boy, I think Chris needs to know this', it is whatever joke they got forwarded, so I don't pay them as much attention. (Following in all of their footsteps, I save newspaper articles for my kids and share them. Though I do also send lots of things to them via email)

No, I'm not being a Luddite. Heck I'm anything but one at work and in my personal life, but having a PDD-NOS child who struggles with so many things that we take for granted, I am looking at how he learns more closely than I did with either of the girls.

What I see is a lot of mimicking, including looking at the pictures in my magazines or the Sunday ads. Unlike the girls he doesn't make up what he thinks the pictures are about, but he is looking at them. So I am going to make damn sure I leave things 'laying around' and being a good example to him so in hopes that one day his basic mimicking that he does today turns into recognition and maybe some day reading.

So if you are an adult with children in the house or frequent visitors (grandparents, family etc.) please think about ways to 'leave things sitting around' so the kids can see you using them and mimic you.