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A Weekend of Firsts

January 19, 2010
Emma Skates (2010-01-17)

The Chatty Chatty Princess on Ice

It was a nice four-day weekend for this turtle with several “firsts” thrown in for extra excitement.

I took the day off on Friday so that I could attend some clinic appointments with Paul & Gretchen. Paul has been diagnosed as having ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) — or sometimes has been diagnosed as having Asperger’s Disorder. What this really means is not entirely clear to me. You could say that Paul is an autistic child with extremely high social skills, or you could say that Paul is an intelligent “normal” boy with very low social skills. He’s a loner, but a smart one.

Gretchen has not been diagnosed with anything like ASD, but both Gretchen and Paul have suffered from acid reflux and other gastro-intestinal problems. Interestingly, there is a body of research developing that suggests that Autism may be cause by defects to a child’s immune system which results both in inflammation within parts of the brain (leading to an autism diagnosis) and to various gastro-intestinal problems. In other words, the various problems that Paul & Gretchen experience may be related to a single cause which itself may be a cause (or even the cause) of today’s increasing occurrence of autism within the population.

The goal of the appointments on Friday was to prescribe dietary changes and supplements that could help minimize the effect of the deficient immune system on GI issues and brain function. The counselors have recommended that Paul & Gretchen try a gluten free – cassein free diet.

I don’t really know about this, but I guess I am willing to support it on a trial basis to see if there are any positive effects. I am concerned, however, with the additional time required for such a dietary change along with the greater expense for foods that comply with this diet.

Saturday brought an exciting first. Paul, Gretchen, Emma, and I went to the library so that Emma could apply for her first library card. Boy was she excited! She went to the circulations desk, asked for a card, answered questions relating to her name and birth date, and signed her WHOLE name by herself. She checked out two books: (i) Nina, Nina, Ballerina, and (ii) Nina, Nina, Superstar Ballerina. She spent the rest of the day showing family and friends her new library card.

On Sunday, while many of us watched the BIG Vikings game, Beth took Emma over to the local pond to go ice skating for the first time. She did really well — a true Minnesotan! She was able to make her way back and forth across the ice in short, choppy skating steps and only feel once. Now she is not sure if she should be an artist when she grows up, a mommy, or an ice skater.

Yesterday was Martin Luther King Day and we had another strange first – our local school district did not have the day off. I am flummoxed that this was the case. How could the district not include this great holiday as a day out of school.

Whatever may have been the reasons for the school district’s decision, it left Beth and I with an unexpected day to ourselves. Neither of us had work — it was a paid holiday — but the kids DID have school. So we were alone for the length of the school day. While we didn’t do anything special, it was fun to have this day to ourselves.

But that was yesterday …

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