Archive for October, 2011

Autism and the World Wide Web

October 6, 2011

What you see above is a screen capture from Ethan’s website.

Yes, his website.

The one he set up by himself, in direct defiance of a parental decision to the contrary.

Let me explain.

About a year ago – or about the time he started watching iCarly – Ethan bounced into the living room with a question:

“Can I make my own website?”

Of course, the rational answer for the parents of a then-eight-year-old child dealing with Autism is no. So, we offered that up – with the olive branch of his own email address (with limited access) attached.

He took it, played with it some and then started to ignore it – much like his video camera and Facebook page.

So, the website issue was dead.

Or so we thought.

Zoom ahead to last Sunday, a lazy, NFL-heavy day at the Capps’ house. I’m lying on the sofa, watching football, when Ethan walks over and drops a note on my chest.

This is not uncommon.

So, I look at him and he’s wearing his impish grin, which means that he’s done, or about to do something, that I might not care for very much.

Nervously, I grab the note and give it a read.

“Check out my website at circlepad.com/ethancapps”

Uh oh.

“Take that to mommy,” I said, grabbing my laptop.

Shanna reads it, her jaw dropping.

Our little boy, while away at Granny’s for the weekend, created his own website, complete with name, age, hobbies and the first and last names of a few of his fourth grade friends (a list that continues to grow as he shares his site and takes requests at school, by the way).

Shan and I are conflicted.

On the one hand, we’re not happy that he deliberately ( and with very little obvious remorse) defied us in the creation of this website. I had to interrogate him for the log-in and password, after which I removed the last names and preserved the privacy of a few preteens in the greater Four Oaks area.

But, on the other hand, it was such an impressive feat – and an obvious attempt to connect with the world around him, especially at school, that I find it hard to be terribly angry.

As you can see, the site is still active.

We did decline his request to add video to the site, one which I’m sure the boy will find a way around sooner or later.

So, that’s a glimpse into the world of Autism – interesting, confusing and never dull.

There are only two days left before the Triangle Run/Walk for Autism.

Donate today!

Autism: Taking the long road through daily life

October 4, 2011

Me feeding the boy way back in 2002.

OK, the title is a little melodramatic, but the path of a child with Autism – or his parents’ path, for that matter – is rarely a straight line.

For example, yesterday it was time for Ethan to have his teeth cleaned.

No big deal, right?

Well, no. The process itself was not a big deal. Finding, and keeping, a dentist that makes it all go smoothly was a little more difficult.

You see, the boy’s dentist is in Wake Forest.

It is, quite possibly, the finest medical establishment I’ve ever dealt with. They schedule us in such a way that the waiting room is quiet and virtually empty.

That makes the three-minute wait very pleasant for a child that copes with Autism.

Then, they take us back for the X-rays and cleaning – and the place is almost empty. Another quiet, friendly and attentive environment where Ethan is the focus of everyone’s attention.

This is 3:30 in the afternoon, by the way, at what I know to be a very busy dental practice.

So the fact that I had to take a half-day off work and shuttle him an hour each way was very much worth the trouble.

I bring this up to illustrate a point.

Autism affects 1 in 150 children. Not all parents have the knowledge and resources that Shanna and I have to help Ethan cope with the condition.

Not all parents know that quiet, calm waiting rooms make a huge difference in the few minutes leading up to medical procedures.

Not all parents know that word problems and rounding can seem like Greek to a child with Autism – since abstract thinking is one of the areas that takes the most time and effort to properly develop.

Not all parents know that there are places to go for help, like TEACCH and the Autism Society of North Carolina.

Well, with the annual Triangle Run/Walk for Autism coming up Saturday, here’s a chance for you the ASNC help others.

Here’s the link. Donate today!