Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Post about Sensory Integration Dysfunction That Won't Make You Cry


For the three of you regularly reading this blog, you've probably not had any occasion to read anything about sensory integration dysfunction (or sensory processing disorder), so you've probably shed no tears over SID-related posts.  But out there somewhere is a parent roaming the internets looking for something, anything, about SID, hopefully something from a parent's pov, hopefully something that doesn't make you want to roll up in a ball of despair.  This post is for you.

On the latest episode of NBC's Parenthood, Adam and Kristina, parents of Max, a little boy who has Asperger's, struggle with the question of when to tell their son about Asperger's.  Though many people quibble with the show's portrayal of Asperger's (some say the child actor gets the mannerisms all wrong, some say the writers are treating Asperger's like a death sentence), what I've been enjoying is watching the parents navigate their way through all the therapies and information and advice, trying desperately to make the right decision, trying to hold on to the knowledge that, above all else, Max is a really great kid.

Cate is only four so there's a lot of stuff about sensory integration dysfunction she just won't get (like needing a lot more proprioceptive sensory input than other four year olds in order keep her nervous system modulated enough to do seemingly simple tasks like get getting dressed in the morning).  But I still think about how much to tell her, what information does she need.  Since she's already a fluent reader, I went in search of a kid's book about SID and found Why Does Izzy Cover Her Ears?: Dealing With Sensory Overload.  From the hiding under the table, to the hitting of other kids, to the feeling crazed up, to the love of being beneath a really heavy blanket--this book was all about Cate.  And her little face as she read aloud about Izzy to her sister--it was the face of recognition, of  "Wow.  That's exactly what it's like inside my body."  This book does an excellent job of narrating the experience of someone trying to navigate SID, of explaining the difference without pathologizing or exoticizing it.

If, like me, you're looking for a childern's book to share with your child or with other children about SID, I can't recommend this enough.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Re: Iron Man Parte Deux

Conseula is currently seething in a stew of her own making due to the incaluable wrongness of her take on Iron Man. (Actually, I'm not exactly sure what her position is. I'm just poking it with a stick. [Don't tell her])

At this point do I actually have to post SPOILER ALERT? If you haven't seen the movie, and if you're a person who hates to have any portion of the movie revealed before you see it, then I suggest that you leave the room.


Are they gone? Okay, Conseula was excited by the appearance of what seemed to be a partially constructed version of Captain America's shield. I agree. The parts are clearly if not the shield, then they are components of a shield. My problem is that what we saw on screen is clearly not in keeping with the continuity of the Marvel 616 universe (616 is the main Marvel universe in which most of the comic books are set.)


Okay, those of you who know, know that there have been several incarnations of the shield: at least two kite-shaped ones, like this example from Captain America No. 1.

However, the one suggested in the movie is the round, convex one that most people are familiar with. According to Marvel lore etched into the brains of fanboys (and girls) the world over, Cap's round shield was created accidentally in the 1940s by Dr. Myron MacClain out of a vibranium/adamantium alloy.

This shield was presented to Cap by FDR as a replacement for the last of the kite models that was destroyed in battle.

That being said, the shield in the movie does not match the 616 universe's description of Cap's shield. In the first place, there is a problem of the shield's construction. According to canon, Cap's shield was molded in one solid piece, with the star, stripes, and blue field subsequently painted on. The Iron Man 2 shield is not solid, but seems to be made of several components.

A second problem has to do the Iron Man 2 shield's origin. If the movie's Cap actually fought in World War II, did he have the circular shield, or didn't he? If he did have it in the 1940s, then what was Howard Stark doing with an unfinished copy of it? If Tony Stark is close in age to Robert Downey, Jr's 44, then his father would probably be in his sixties or early seventies, which would have made him a child during the war. The government is not in the habit of giving contracts to children, even exceptionally bright ones. This is all to say that I don't believe that the shield the movie shows is Captain America's shield.

So, while I doubt that the shield in the movie is Cap's, there is no doubting the shield's evidence. How do I explain its existence? It's possible, that in keeping with canon, both Cap and his shield are lost in the North Sea in 1944. The shield that we see in the movie could have been an attempt by Howard Stark to duplicate Dr. MacClain's results. However, this raises an difficult question, without a Captain America, why build a Captain America shield? If Stark could produce an unbreakable metal, couldn't he have made countless other objects that would have been more useful than a shield?

It is possible that the Marvel movie universe differs in some ways from universe 616. The movie Cap of the 1940s may never have wielded the round shield, or any shield at all. It's even possible the either S.H.I.E.L.D. or the US government might have been in the process of producing another Captain America while Howard Stark was alive.

In any case, for the record I'll state that the movie shield is not Captain America's shield. We'll have to wait for the movie to for any further explanation.

Until next time, Face Front True Believers, and Excelsior!

Random Quote from Brain Child*

Catherine Newman's article in the latest issue of Brain Child is about evolution (I think...I haven't actually finished it yet).  I love Catherine Newman.  Her essay, "Why I Will Not Marry" teaches remarkably well in freshman comp (mostly because it freaks them out so much).  Her recipes from have delightful descriptions like "Feeds 4 (as long as one of those four people is a child who won't eat itl)"**.  And her essays include delightful paragraphs such as this defintion of "reproductive success":

"...the term 'reproductive success' has nothing to do with foreplay, Tantric ecstasy, or simultaneous climaxing.  It's about whether particular traits help a particular organism live long enough to produce offspring.  Your husband could do you from behind while you were bent over to sort the Tupperware drawer.  And if you got pregnant and passed along your organizational skills to your offspring?  Evolutionary Bingo! Reproductive success."***
* This was supposed to be a review of Iron Man 2, but Brian and I are having a disagreement about what the review should say.  Stay tuned.

** Brian has suggested this is not really as funny as it is in my head.

*** Brian is similarly unamused by this.  I think he's grumpy because he's wrong about Iron Man 2.

Monday, May 17, 2010

It's Not All Bad

So some of you are concerned that I seem really sad and/or miserable and/or on the verge of throwing myself in front of a bus.  No need for alarm.  While things certainly could be significantly better, I can easily name a number of people whose lives are signficantly worse.  So, you see, the universe balanaces itself it out.

Things that help:

1) Cate never ceases to amuse and amaze with her wit and charm.  Overheard recently from Cate--in response to me insisting that maybe tights in 90 degree weather is not the best idea, "Mommy, stop it.  You are parenting all over me."  And upon receiving a Goosebumps book in a kids meal at Popeyes (home of her new favorite meal, red beans and rice), "Oh no.  Oh no.  This is levels of inappropriate."  And in the car, two days after swimming in the pool, "There's something lucky about adults.  Their feet can reach the bottom of the pool everywhere.  I wish I could do that."

2) Brain Child Magazine--I'm not really a fan of mommy blogs and I have learned recently that special needs blogs and newsgroups just make me more anxious than I already am.  But I love Brain Child ("the magazine for mothers who think").  I love that many of the experiences of parenting I encounter there (a mother whose kid's special needs are so vast and all-consuming that she wishes she never had him, parents who advocate spanking, parents who feel guilty about not taking their kids camping) are nothing like mine.  I love that the magazine is not about me while still managing to be exactly about me at the same time.  Does that make any sense?  It's smart and well-written, often times funny, and just as often hreatbreaking.  I love it.

3) Guitar Hero World Tour and Trombone Shorty--I got this game and this cd for Mother's Day and they have brought me no end of joy for the last week.  Sure, Guitar Hero is really bad for my carpal tunnel and Trombone Shorty's "supafunkrock" makes Brian and I homesick, but still, a good time is being had by all.

Monday, May 10, 2010

But She's So Smart, and so Special

Yes, there has been a long long silence here and I could provide a long detailed explanation of the financial and personal and professional crises that have resulted in my absence here (some of them still on-going), but that would just depress everyone. 

So, moving right along (to a rant of sorts--how unsurprising)...

Our youngest daughter is being treated for sensory processing dysfunction, which is not to be confused with sensory processing disorder, a lifelong condition.  She has particular kinds of developmental delays that may "correct" themselves as her nervous system develops, and occupational therapy is being employed to give her some strategies to deal with the delays until then.

This sounds perfectly reasonable to me (clearly, since we trek to and pay for OT every week), but I have been amazed, and annoyed, at how unreasonable this sounds to other people.  Admittedly, other people don't live with Cate.  They aren't up with her at 3 in the morning because she can't sleep until she's read all the books in the room or she's weeping because she's listened to Springsteen's version of "We Shall Overcome" five times in a row and it's made her sad.  Other people don't have to deal with the anxiety caused when we park the car in a different spot or we insist she wear weather appropriate clothes.  Or the fear we have that she will leave the house in the middle of the night or walk off at soccer because she's trying to get to a place where she feels less "crazed" up.  When other people see Cate, they see a happy, healthy, smart goofy kid who is slightly "out of sync."  All kids have their quirks.  We all feel "crazed up" some times, they say.

Well, yeah, but also no, not at all.  What would be nice is a little faith that I'm not making these things up, that I'm not overprotective and paranoid, that I know my kid better than other people.  It would be nice if people stopped insisting "but she's so smart, I'm sure she'll be fine," and started celebrating the fact that there's a professional out in the world who has been able to figure out that Cate feels less "crazed up" when she literally gets to hang up side down or get a big bear hug or fall down from something.  It would be nice for people to acknowledge that being able to read at 2 and add at four doesn't guarantee life success, especially if you're terrified of the PBS logo or the computer screen suddenly turning blue when it comes on.

Other people tell me Cate is special.  They mean, "yeah she's a little weird, leave her alone."  My reply is this:  She is special, more special than other people can even comprehend.  And it would be a shame to let some of the things that make her special limit all the things she might be and accomplish in the world.