Friday, September 13, 2013


1. A definition from the Free Online Dictionary, for those of us who need reminding:

n. pl. en·tro·pies
1. Symbol S For a closed thermodynamic system, a quantitative measure of the amount of thermal energy not available to do work.
2. A measure of the disorder or randomness in a closed system.
3. A measure of the loss of information in a transmitted message.
4. The tendency for all matter and energy in the universe to evolve toward a state of inert uniformity.
5. Inevitable and steady deterioration of a system or society.

2. I have been meditating on entropy in the past few weeks as I've been walking around my neighborhood, getting my exercise and trying to keep my back from aching. I notice who has managed to keep their lawn mowed and who is running behind; sometimes I even pray for mercy for the unfortunate latter group, because I have often been one of their company. I notice how quickly the roads deteriorate and how flimsy are the creations of humans in comparison to the riot of green growing around them. For example, this weekend we are going to power wash our driveway and reseal it. It was so beautiful and clean, black and happy asphalt, when the wonderful pavers we hired created it several years ago. (2? 3? I can't remember.) Now the grass and weeds are crawling and thrusting their way in at every edge, last winter's leaves are still piled in the corner by the trash cans and there are stains all over from the necessary auto maintenance my husband does.

My flower beds have grass growing in them again, trying to choke the roots of the plants I want to preserve. My cannas, who love the heat of the late summer, are o'er shadowing everything else in the front yard, and the rose bushes refuse to grow outwards and keep banging into the soffit. My butterfly bushes, that I trimmed so carefully in early summer, are o'er hanging the back patio and blocking the way into the garage or through the gate.

3. And speaking (writing) of entropy, yesterday was cleaning day. I spend hours picking up piles, sorting toys and clothes and generally trying to get everything put away ahead of the lady who cleans my house once a month so that she can actually find the surfaces she's supposed to clean. So, for a few glorious minutes, the house was clean. But the children got home from school before she was finished (which Miranda likes because she wants to "help;" she rarely helps me clean, but our cleaning lady is somehow different) and this morning, before she left for school, Miranda had moved all of her "babies" (every stuffed animal she owns) into the living room. (She was miffed with me when I made her put them in the baskets on the shelf yesterday morning so we could clean her room.) It takes so much effort to put the house back in order and the moment you turn your back, it drifts back to chaos.

4. A dear friend of mine who has a child with a sensory disorder shared a great post this week about selective eaters. As many of you know Alex, you know he only eats about 12 things. I stopped worrying about it last year because his anxiety about everything was overwhelming all of his other issues, but it still bugs my husband. But then, my husband eats almost everything and I am a picky eater. I eat more than I used to, like Brussels sprouts and asparagus, but I still eat the same thing for breakfast, every morning of every day. And that's the way I want it.

5. Youth Group starts up again on Sunday night and I will be relieved to be back on a normal schedule. I miss the students when I don't see them regularly, which is most of the summer. I need this opportunity of service to force me out of myself and worrying about my own problems. It is not all about me.

6. In May of 2012, my cousin Sarah (yes, I have a cousin Sarah; my family has a fondness for certain names, so we have 2 Sarah's, 2 Tim's and 2 Brandon's) asked me to try to explain to her what "Passing for Normal" meant. I have been thinking about it, off and on, since our conversation, especially since Miranda has just been "mainstreamed" in a regular first grade classroom.

Ever since Alex was diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) in the spring of 2006, I have come to label many of his behaviors as "autistic," like stimming, echolalia, or his inability to read social cues or conduct a conversation. When I see another child with behaviors like this, my "radar" goes off, meaning that I recognize another child who is probably on the spectrum.

Passing for Normal means not sticking out in a crowd, not displaying behaviors like this when in public, but instead responding to the situation in the appropriate manner which we have worked so long to teach them. Alex's first therapist told me that a new instruction that might take half a dozen reminders in a neurotypical child could take 100 reminders for him. Miranda has progressed far enough that we and the school felt she would benefit from being in a "regular" first grade class (neurotypical peers) after 4 years in the district in self-contained (all classified children) and inclusion (a mix of classified and neurotypical children) classes. Alex was unable to maintain a partial mainstream schedule last year (even with an aide) so we've put him back in a self-contained class this year in hopes of stabilizing him so that we can pursue some mainstreaming again next year.

Perhaps it comes down to: can they function in public without getting stared at or made fun of? Do they answer the question asked of them, instead of ignoring it and announcing their own topic of conversation, like the story of Finding Nemo? Can they say, "No, thank you," when offered food they don't like instead of falling apart? Can they stay with me in the store, being polite to others and not trying to hug everyone they see? Can they follow directions in a group setting?

I hope this helps, cousin.

7. Miranda started a new dance class season on Monday. Artists in Motion in Cherry Hill was where she took a basic class last year with other 5 year old's called "Acro Jazz" that was dancing and gymnastics as well as a one that taught some social interaction skills. This year, we've moved up to a larger class with 6-8 year old's called "Ballet/Hip Hop" and instead of 6-7 other students, there are about 15 of them. Her first class was awesome and I thought, again, this is the best money we spend all year. She's still, at almost 7, the tallest one in the class, but she learned quickly and looks awesome doing an arabesque.

And here's Jen.


Sybil@PeaceitallTogether said...

This is one of my favorite posts of yours! Everytime I read your blog, I reflect on the title and what it must mean for you and now, what it means for me. The selective eating is stressful for me, but that article was helpful in giving me perspective. O started soccer this week - a big thing for all of us. So far he loves it and is "passing for normal." Love you!!

Sarah Boyle Webber said...

Thanks, sis. I have been trying to find an activity for Alex to do outside of school but he's so tired by the end of the day that after the homework battle, he's really done for the day.