Sunday, October 31, 2004

 

Pack Wins! Pack Wins! Pack Wins!

OK, they had a little help from the officials who called back a Redskin TD with minutes to go in the game. On the very next play, Green Bay intercepted and a few plays later scored their 4th touchdown of the day. Actually, after the game Terry Bradshaw commented that the specific penalty called was emphasized during the offseason as one to watch out for this season. So it wasn't as controversial as the announcers made it sound (and no doubt Washington fans and republicans everywhere will continue to argue). The important thing is that the win still stands and the Pack improves to 4-4 with 3 wins in a row going into their bye week. Does this now mean Kerry will win the election on Tuesday? I sure hope so.




 

Happy Halloween from The Brookstons



The whole family at Porter's Pre-School

Friday, October 29, 2004

 

Halloween 2004

Halloween came early to the Brookston family this year. Porter's pre-school had their Halloween Parade today. We got Porter two costumes and felt we'd be lucky if he wore one for a few minutes. He surprised us by bowing to peer pressure and keeping his on all day. Here he is in his Thomas the Tank Engine costume:



And here's our little ladybug, Alice:



And here's Sarah and the kiddles:



The other costume we got for Porter was put to good use by one of Porter's classmates who forgot her costume. But then we got the shock of the day. After she took it off, Porter actually begged us to put it on him! Believe or not, he kept it on the rest of the day even napping in it and going to the mall in it before finally taking it off around 6:30 in the evening! So here's Porter in his other costume:



Thursday, October 28, 2004

 

New School Visit

This morning we visited the school and classroom Porter will likely be in once we complete his IEP on November 17th. We were mostly pretty impressed with everything we saw. Class size seems fairly small with only about 8 students and one main teacher and two assistants. They'll emphasize language and socialization in every aspect of his school experience. Plus they'll have regular one-on-one language therapy 3 times a week, gross and fine motor skills classes (basically P.E. for toddlers with a changing obstacle course), and outdoor time with opportunities to interact with NT (neuro-typical - the more correct medical term for normal) which will help reinforce positive social interaction. Now we're in waiting mode: waiting for the report, waiting for the IEP, and waiting for Porter to begin his new classes. I know I'm just being cranky again but now that we have some idea about what condition Porter has and what will help him most to overcome it, we have to wait another three weeks. It's torture knowing help is so close and being stuck in this kind of limbo.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

 

The Most Important Football Game ... Ever

This Sunday's Redskins-Packers game may well be the most important football game ever. According to the Urban Legends Reference Page, the outcome of the last Washington Redskins home game before the election has correctly predicted the winner of every U.S. presidential election since 1936. In fact, every time since they became the Redskins this has been true (before 1936 they were the Boston Braves). If they win, the incumbent stays in power; if they lose, so does the incumbent. On Halloween Sunday, my Green Bay Packers are playing the Washington Redskins in Washington, DC, that is, at home. Every democrat should join me in rooting for Green Bay. Go Pack!

 

IEP Rescheduled

Porter's IEP has been rescheduled for November 17th, a week later. The message the county left alluded to the previous date as being tentative, which makes me suspicious. They gave us every indication when we set the date that it was a final date and said nothing whatsoever about it being "tentative" whatever that really means. If I sound pissed, I am a bit since it feels like they're not being honest with us about such an insignificant thing like scheduling. I hope this isn't foreshadowing problems to come, especially since things seemed to be proceeding smoothly. Of course, it could simply be I want to get the ball rolling so badly and start Porter's new schooling that even a week's delay is making me cranky.


 

Say Cheese



On our second day at the park this week we ran out of bread, so Porter tried to feed the ducks his cheese. They didn't seem to like it, however. Oh, well. It's the thought that counts.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

 

Kenya


From the mad genius who created badger badger badger comes my new fave, Kenya. Forget Norway, visit Kenya.

 

Precinct Captain Training

Much less impressive than it sounds and with no saluting, I've volunteered to make a gazillion phone calls on election day to help Get Out the Vote as a precinct captain. Training was last night and tomorrow I'll get my precinct assignment. We pick up voter rolls Monday afternoon and then Tuesday it's work, work, work. If you're reading this I hope you're at least voting, if not doing more. It's too important this year to leave to others. Get involved!

Sunday, October 24, 2004

 

A Day at the Park

Well maybe not the whole day. We did have to wait until the Packers dispatched the Cowboys 41-20. But then it was off to the local park slide.



While Alice and Sarah watched.



Saturday, October 23, 2004

 

A Gray Day



It's a rainy, foggy, gray day in Marin this morning. So I'm couch surfing with the kiddles. Not sure if you can read my T, but is says:

Practice Abstinence
in 2004
No Bush. No Dick.

It was a gift from my good friends Lisa & Mark in Portland, Oregon. Thanks guys.

Friday, October 22, 2004

 

A Trip to the Pumpkin Patch

After we picked up Porter from his Montessori pre-school today we headed to the local pumpkin patch to ... well, pick up some pumpkins. Here's a few pix:



And here's Porter in the bounce house:


 

Date Set for IEP

We got a call today from the county school folks setting the date for Porter's IEP (Individual Education Plan) for November 10th. At that meeting, recommendations will be made as to what school and therapies will be offered to help Porter. Based on our initial meetings, we're inclined to go with the recommendations they'll make at least for this first time and see how it works out. We've read horror stories about adversarial encounters with county and school officials who worry less about the children and more about their budgets. Thankfully, so far we've seen nothing to indicate that in Marin County.

 

My Favorite Picture of Porter



Halloween 2002 outside our old apartment in Oakland. I can stare at this picture all day, and I sometimes do, and feel happy.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

 

Porter's County Evaluation

Porter had his Marin County school evaluation this morning. It lasted about an hour and a half as he played with toys and we answered questions with a child psychologist and speech therapist. The initial conclusion is that he will be eligible for special schooling of some type. They'll write up their recommendations and give us a report. After that, the next step is the IEP (Individual Education Plan) where we'll meet with them again along with the director of the program, the director of the school and our school district representative. At that meeting, we'll discuss the recommendations made in the report and, hopefully, decide on his educational goals for the coming year and how we're going to meet them. Whew, quite a lot to digest quickly but I'm glad we're on our way to getting him some help specific to his needs. Everyone we've met so far from the county seems great and overall I've got a good feeling, at least, about them. You hear horror stories about unprepared or unsatisfactory experiences with special education and it certainly feels better not to be starting out with an adversarial relationship. We're going to go observe some of the classes that Porter will be offered so we can get a better idea of how they work, which will be useful when we have the IEP, which should be in the next few weeks.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

 

Alice Rolls Over!

A big first today for our little Alice. She rolled over on her own for the first time today. Hooray! Among other things that this little ass-kicker is up to these days:

Monday, October 18, 2004

 

Ass-Kicking Alice



Yes, she has a natural mohawk. Deal with it.

 

I Love Jon Stewart

A few days ago on CNN's Crossfire, Jon Stewart said many of the things I've longed to hear said to the nation's mainstream faux journalists. He called them hacks, theatre, and asked them to stop hurting America. It was absolutely beautiful. You can read the full transcript or watch the
video
. I highly recommend it.



Friday, October 15, 2004

 

The Difficulty of Uncertainty

One of the most difficult things about this whole process is the uncertainty. We really have no idea how Porter will do with special education or how effective it will be. It may be that 20 years from now, nobody will even know what we're talking about now and Porter will seem as normal as me and you (well, maybe you). Or at some unknown point in the future he'll be unable to progress past a certain point in his intellectual and/or emotional development and will essentially just stop there. But we won't know when or if that might happen until it actually does occur. That realization is just very hard on me. We all want our children to grow and be happy and have a better life than we had. But what if that simply wasn't possible? What can you do? I keep breaking down in tears when I think of what the future might hold. Not for myself, but for Porter. I know it's simply a stage of dealing with it all, but it sure can be hard, dammit. I feel like I'm cycling through the Kubler-Ross stages.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

 

What Is Autism?

"Autism is a condition affecting the processing, integrating and organization of information that significantly impacts communication, social interaction, functional skills and educational performance. There are many manifestations and degrees of severity within the autism spectrum." Well, what does that mean? Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are an umbrella of different conditions that share similar objective symptoms, which are symptoms that can be seen by outside observation. The most well-known, called simply Autism and typified by Dustin Hoffman's character in the film Rain Man, was first identified in the 1940s. Others in the spectrum are PDD-NOS, Asperger's Syndrome, High-Functioning Autism and many others. All share three main categories of symptoms in varying degrees: Social Interaction, Communication and Patterns of Behavior, Interests or Activity.

The main indicators are as follows:

1. Social Interaction
2. Communication
3. Patterns of Behavior, Interests or Activity
Generally, the number and intensity of the items in the above checklist determine which of the many conditions in the ASD a child has. It's a difficult thing to do but is very important as different disorders respond to different treatments or types of specially designed education.

One of the weird things about ASD is how many more cases of it there are today vs. just a few years ago. It appears to be an epidemic since the 1990s. But nobody is sure if the increase is due to better diagnosis and awareness or if there is another explanation. Other theories include the use of mercury in vaccinations and enviromental causes.

Here are some links with more information about ASD:

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

 

Marin County Schools

Marin County has what appears to be a pretty good set of special education programs that will be available for Porter. We've finally got the process started with our school district. A child psychologist and speech therapist came to his Montessori Pre-School today to observe him unseen. We'll meet with them for a one on one session next week. Then they'll put together both sessions and make recommendations.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

 

Last Day at the Celebrator

So based on yesterday's events coupled with Sarah's going back to work in a couple of weeks, I made the hard to decision to leave the Celebrator Beer News. Porter's going to need a lot of my attention as we figure out what he's going to need and so will Alice, of course. I need to focus on my family right now. As much as I'll miss the magazine, the beer industry and many of the wonderful people in the industry, I feel that it's simply the right thing to do. I will probably be able to still write articles for the Celebrator and possibly continue to help out with the blind panel tastings, but I'll need to see how it goes first and see how much time I'll have to devote to it. Things may be different in six months or a year, but for now family will get all my attention.

Monday, October 11, 2004

 

Doctor's Visit Confirms Suspicions

Today we saw Dr. Errante, a local specialist in Autism Specturm Disorders who we were referred to by Porter's pediatrician. What led us to do this started almost two years before, when Porter was only a year old. Porter's speech development was delayed and although it was cause for some worry by us, doctors, friends and family all assured us that it was not unusual for children to start talking according to their own internal clock. So we waited. And waited. Over the next two years, the number of words he used and understood grew in fits and starts and he seemed always on the verge of talking. But time and time again, he'd stall and not take that leap into the world of sentences and communication, which became a continual source of frustration. As Porter's third birthday approached, we started noticing other behaviors which were not evident in his friends at pre-school. He seemed strangely isolated with his peers and even a little lonely despite being a happy toddler. He had difficulty making eye contact and joining in to play at school although he certainly seemed to enjoy school itself. Eventually prompted by family and our own reading, we started looking into autism. And the more we learned, the more Porter fit the profile. We met with our pediatrician and she thought that there were enough indicators to justify taking our inquiry to the next level, which is what led us to Dr. Errante. Anyway, after a few hours observing Porter at play and talking with us, his conclusion was that Porter did indeed have one of the Autism Spectrum Disorders.

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