30 March 2015

Second assessment

We had his second assessment, and now we have the diagnosis we need so we can try and get him some help. 

To those of you who shared your inspiring stories of how your children were diagnosed on the ASD but grew out of it, thank you for sharing, but that's not our situation.

24 March 2015

First assessment

Yesterday Puff and I took Frodo to a specialist for his first assessment.  We are trying to find out if, or more accurately, where he sits on the Autism Spectrum. 

Frodo was lead off to one room where he would be examined by a specialist who would observe and ask him questions as he played while Puff and I were taken to another where we were asked questions about our son.   The questions were about how he has developed so far, and pinpoint his progress so far.   It was... enlightening, I suppose, although one could also say disheartening.  It drove home just how far behind he is.

Does your son engage you in conversation?  For instance, if asked will he tell you about his day?  No.

Does he use verbs in their ing form?  As far as we know, no.  (to be fair, he actually began using 'ing' verbs that very day on the way home.)

Does he parallel play with other children?  He used to.  He doesn't now.  Oh, so now he fully interacts with the children?  No- the opposite.  He does not interact with them at all.

Does he have any friends at school?


And so the conversation went.  The woman was nice to us.  At no point did I have any sense that she was judging us, but she didn't have to.  I was judging me.  With every question and every 'no' answer.my judgment against myself grew harder.  How did I miss all of this?

Things are getting tougher for Frodo.  He is now on his third Kindergarten teacher- it has nothing to do with him, but for some reason the school keeps transferring his teachers to other classes.  The current teacher has strongly suggested to us, through her assistant, that it would be for the best if Frodo only attend for the morning.  They so little want Frodo there they objected when Puff agreed to pick him up during the lunch break, when the kids were on the playground.  Could she not pick him up before lunch began?  When asked why, the assistant became evasive.   It's like they don't want to be bothered with him any more.  He doesn't mind being picked up early, though.  He hates school.  In that he is advanced:  it took the girls until grade three before they hated school.

A few months ago I took Frodo to school.  As we were walking in A little girl walking with her mother squealed and pointed.  "Look there, Mommy!  That's Frodo! That's who I was just telling you about!"  The mother looked rather embarrassed and quickly hushed her daughter and forced her arm down before she hurried the girl off to another part of the playground.

What will happen when we get the assessment?  Will we be able to get him the help he needs, or will he just be written off  as the autistic kid?  I hate that this is not in our hands, and yet, as I listened to the long list of questions, I felt that I failed him when he was in my hands.  But this isn't about me or my feelings.  It's about him and the help he needs.

We take him back for his next assessment on Monday.

17 March 2015

Happy St Patrick's Day.

As you know, there are only two types of people in the world: Those who are Irish, and those who wish they were.

Enjoy the day, and remember to honour the great man whose day this is.

16 March 2015

It's Easter, so here come the lies.

Once again we are being flooded with a new crop of real Jesuses, real authentic Christianity, and ways we have to go if we are to survive.  Today the Toronto Star weighs in with an article entitled: "Atheist minister praises the glory of good at Scarborough church" .  A minister for the United Church of Canada (where else?) has who considers herself a "post theist" has abandoned God in her church and her preaching and uses her post as "a venue for criticizing traditional Christianity."  She lost about half her congregation when she began, going down to about fifty people, but has since gotten her numbers back up- to seventy!  With a median age of about seventy five!  Now there's a church with a future!

Somehow, the author for the Star considers this to be a success story: "But with an average Sunday attendance of about 70, West Hill is prospering, relatively speaking, while churches throughout the Western world shrink and wither."  'Relatively speaking' is about the only way this is prospering.  Relatively speaking, getting a congregation, losing about half of it, then getting about forty percent of the numbers that left back are somehow a great success- if you overlook the overall thirty percent decline.   That is  speaking relatively, of course, or to use the technically correct term, speaking a great load of BS.  Objectively speaking, this is an abject failure.  

The conclusion states the secret behind this minister's glorious 'success'- "All they had to do, it turns out, was get rid of God."

Oh, well done. Absolutely no political program here.  This author- sorry, editor of The Star- went out of his way to find someone with a church who presumably suits his views, spun their utter failure into a success, and then turned it into a program for all churches to follow if they want the same relative success.   Very good sir.

We'll be sure to get right to work on that.

12 March 2015

New Basilica

I'm a little late to the party, but I recently learned that back in December, Pope Francis elevated Our Lady Immaculate in Guelph (which I wrote about here and here)to the status of minor basilica.

The elevation coincided with the completion of renovations to the church. The renovations don't look too bad, and could have been much worse, but, they seem to have left the church a little bland. I'll say more abot that another day. For now, congratulations on the elevation. It is a great honour.

Interesting fact: This is the third church designed by architect Joseph Connolly to be designated a basilica. The others are St Peter's Cathedral Basilica in London Ontario, and St Paul's Basilica in Toronto. I wonder if that's a record for an architect.

9 March 2015

On answers

Why oh why is it that when I ask one question, people answer six or seven questions I did not ask, and maybe incidentally (but not always) the one that I did?

Today I asked a coworker: "Have you heard anything about the ratification vote?"

She said: "The meeting takes place between 4:30 and 8:00 tonight, so we'll all be home by the time it happens. And by the time the votes are counted, it will be around 10:00. It might be on the late news, but I doubt the university will be able to be up and running by the morning, so classes and such will not resume until Wednesday by the earliest. At any rate, we've already decided to change our hours for this week, so you'll still have to come in tomorrow at 9:00 instead of he usual 11:00."

How on earth was that an answer to my question? Either she decided she could read my mind and answer the questions she saw hidden behind the question I did ask, or she just likes to hear the sound of her own voice. I already knew about the ramifications of the vote, so she was not telling me anything I didn't already know. But this happens to me all the time. People answer what they think I am asking, and not what I am actually asking. It is confusing and frustrating. This is one of the reasons I don't talk much to other people.

Let me show you what would have happened had she actually answered my question.

Me:"Have you heard anything about the ratification vote?"

Her: "No."

Isn't that much simpler?

Singing at Mass again.

I sang at Mass for the last three Sundays. I thought yesterday would be the last I would be singing at Mass for some time, but then the music director/ organist asked if I could sing the Easter morning Mass. I should have considered it a great honour of which I am unworthy, but the first thought that ran through my head was that the sopranos must be busy- which, as it turns out, was true. It's nice to be wanted.

The other week I was practicing with the Music Director and my singing teacher. I asked the director if we could go over Schubert's Ave Maria, as I am trying to expand my musical repertoire in preparation for hopefully joining the wedding and funeral circuit where I will, hopefully, Get Paid. The entire time I sang the Ave Maria my teacher was looking at me with a facial experssion which I read as "Why on earth would you want to sing that?" Afterwards, he warned me to sing it like I was walking a tightrope and to be wary aout making a mistake, as it will not be missed. He has a point. There is no happy ending to singing that song, or the Bach Gounod version of the Ave Maria. They have both been done to death, and by the greatest singers in the world. No one looks good in comparison. No matter how well I sing, no one will come up to me afterwards and say: "I have heard that sung by Pavarotti, Domingo, Sutherland, De Los Angelos, Price, Del Monaco, Bjorling- even Caruso himself- but I have to say your version was the best."

At any rate, for Easter I am preparing the Victimae Paschali Laudes sequence, which has never been sung at my church as long as I have been going, the communion proper in Latin, and the Marian Antiphon for Easter to sing post communion. I imagine Christ the Lord is Risen Today will be on the menu for the day. I don't know what I'll do for communion yet, but I'll come up with something. In the past when the sopranos sung for Easter they usually had some festive closing piece - one year it was an aria from Handel, I believe. It was quite glorious. The director often prepares an organ postlude. One year it was Widor's Toccata, another he had a violinist and together they played an organ violin redaction of the Allegro from Vivaldi's Concerto in A minor. I hope he does something similar this year, at least for his part. Easter is one of the occasions where it is only proper we pull out all the stops, and I love to hear a good organist putting a decent instrument through its paces. I doubt he'll have me singing anything grand. As he has pointed out to me on multiple occasions, the sopranos are better trained, and generally better singers than I. Not to sound bitter, but I really only needed to hear it once, and not even then. I had figured it out.

3 March 2015

Perfect Storms

Oftentimes my life seems beset by congruences of events, as though all Creation has lined up for purposes either great or small, to destroy my plans, or set me adrift, or, to speak colloquially, to just screw me over in general.

Today was such a day. I left work early for the purposes of taking one of my children to the doctor. Normally, the trip to this doctor's place of work takes about half an hour, but I have made the trip in twenty minutes. Today we had the strike, and also some late winter bad weather, so I doubled te amount of time I normally would need to get there. I gave us a comfortable hour. Even with the storm and the strike, we should still arrive on time.

Perhaps I should explain. I assume anyone can tell why the storm would slow us down, but you may not be aware of why a strike would. The reason is simple: The municipal buses will not cross a striking picket line. The strike means that buses will not enter onto the campus where I live, so I must catch the bus outside of campus. Worse, the bus must travel along city streets- during rush hour- during a storm- rather than the dedicated bus routes on the campus.

Driving down the road was far slower than I thought, but I believed that once we reached a second dedicated bus lane that runs between Keele and Dufferin sts we would be home free. I would be at the corner of Dufferin and Finch in plenty of time to catch the second bus that would take me to my destination.

Except we didn't take that lane. There is a rail crossing on that lane, and, for some reason, the crossing gates were stuck in a down position, so all buses were being rerouted onto the main streets. We were stuck taking Finch. During Rush Hour. During a storm.

My trip was made even more enjoyable by a bursting bladder on my part, and three of the strikers standing close by who were complaining about their working conditions, how the administration got paid more than they did, how they were really doing this for the students, and how this strike was about more pay and better working conditions for them and more affordable education for their students. I have absolutely no idea how more pay for them equals less tuition for their students. Worse, I have no idea how they could believe it. Their lack of self awareness or their capacity for self deception were truly stunning. They had to be Humanities TA's. I found their conversation so vacuous and so utterly annoying I was possessed with a strong urge to relieve my bursting bladder on them.

It took almost and hour and a half to get to the corner of Dufferin and Finch. I waited on the corner there for almost twenty minutes, far back in a line that would easily fill the next bus before I had a chance to get on it. Nearby was a pay phone. I left my place in line- after all, what did I have to lose?- scrounged through my pockets to call the number given to us when the appointment was made. I wanted to know if the doctor would still be in the office when I arrived. Would she still be able to take me in even though I have missed the scheduled apointment?

But the number was not the number of the office: it was the number to a call center. The person there had no idea if they would be there or not, and wanted to know if she could call me back when she found out. I told her I was calling from a pay phone. She asked if I could call back. I checked my pockets. No, I could not. I had to decide what to do. I could see no bus coming in this glacially slow traffic. I cancelled the appointment and hung up, and went to find another bus to get me back home. That one got me home in about half an hour.

As I said, perfect confluence of events. Remove any one element, and I would have arrived in the nick of time. No strike, I get there on time. No bad weather, I get there on time. No broken rail crossing, I get there on time. The idiot who answered the phone was merely irritating. Missing the doctor's appointment should be no big deal, except it was an appointment for Frodo. It was going to be an assessment for a speech pathologist. That is always the final detail of the perfect storm: It has to be about something important. My trivial plans go through utterly unhindered. But when something is important, when something is at stake, at a time when I pray that the heavens will make a clear path for me, just this once, I find all doors shut, every way is blocked. It just figures.