Great short documentary – I laughed, I cried, I cheered. Dallas, our Aspie son, says “Aaaah, Mom, you’re such girl.’ Well, there ya go….. Free to watch until 10 April 16
As you know from reading earlier blog entries, our middle child, Dallas, who is now 22, was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome about three years ago. Yes, we knew all through his growing up that he was different, but we also knew he wasn’t autistic. Within a couple of weeks of finding a description of his symptoms, our osteopathic doctor had hired a psychologist who knew about such things. Dallas was keen to meet her and be interviewed and subsequently tested, which was grueling for him (it would be for anyone – it was four hours long!), but it was designed for people like him, so he conceded that it really wasn’t too bad. Anyway, he struggles with the social issues, the learning, etc that those with Autism do, but to a lesser degree. In 1994 (the year after Dallas was born), Asperger Syndrome was recognised as a separate disorder from Autism).
Thank goodness Dallas is here with us at home. He has picked up the responsibility of hauling hay, checking water tanks and chopping the ice out or hauling insulated water coolers of hot water whichever the case is necessary to fix the problem. And among so much more, mking sure the cattle have mineral, keeping sidewalks for three homes clear, and helping immensely with his 96 year old great aunt.
It may be that the gentleman in this BBC Magazine story was more Aspie than full blown Austistic. Nevertheless, he had an incredible mother, who bravely stepped out of the norm, brought him home, and, no doubt, tirelessly taught him the tools to be as successful as he could be and later the townspeople who rallied behind him. What a heart warming and uplifting reflection of the good family and community can do.
April, 2014 by Dallas Powell
There’s one thing that I should say straight off the bat. I have never thought of myself as having a mental disorder or a syndrome. When I was still in grade school (I would be home schooled from the third grade and beyond), I was a quiet lad, never asking questions unless asked and rarely talking to my classmates; just sitting quietly listening to the chatter going on around me. Rarely, if ever, injecting anything into the conversation. Conversations especially were and still are difficult for me. Whenever I tried to start a conversation, I am reminded of wading through mud. Every topic, every sentence, every word was a trial and effort. Sometimes I would just get so tired of trudging through the mud that I just have to rest, but I keep wading through the mud until I can find a dry and solid ground on which I can rest and enjoy the peace that comes from being out and away from the mud. After a while, once rested enough, I might feel like wading through all the mud again and so I’d go back in to the mud, but the mud feels thicker than before and thus harder to wade through and then after awhile I get back out and rest and, after a time, the rests get longer and the wading gets shorter until finally I stop going back into the mud. Then I rest for the night and I’m ready to start the cycle again. But sometimes clogging through the mud gets to be too much. Instead of going through the mud, I stay on my little dry patch, even if I don’t particularly like it, it’s still better than fighting through the mud day after day just to interact with other people. So I stay on my dry patch of ground that I don’t particularly like and I just stand still. Sometimes, I work off the will to venture off your little island because I’ve become lonely or my little island has gotten too little and I just want to stretch my legs a bit. I find the mud is easier to walk through than I remember and I start taking more trips through the mud to interact with people and so, I slowly begin to take part of the world again.
May 8, 2014
I helped my mother with her sheep not too long ago. I worked alongside Christian, Mom’s hired hand. Jim Schaefer, the sheep shearer, and mom herself. Before we could start shearing of we needed to get them in the prepared place. Mom had long since mustered the sheep into the corral when Dad, Nathan, and I arrived, so we helped herd them across the road into the hay barn that was open to the south, for which were thankful later during shearing because it let in a nice cool breeze the whole two days we sheared.
Before we got the sheep lined up, Jim had to set up his equipment and Mom had set up a sort of makeshift corral in order to separate the white sheep from the black because we put the respective colored fleeces in their own bags for sale. I would arrive later with the back up generator and a barrel to throw the poopy wool into and by the time I had arrived, Jim had sheared half bags worth of sheep’s wool. Christian’s job had been to stuff the fleeces into the bag, but I took over his job and he bounced back and forth to help Mom and me. (Mom was sorting and keeping the sheep lined up in the race for shearing.) what my job entailed was waiting for Jim to shear off the belly wool and I’d throw it onto a special pile for the belly wool (the black belly wool wasn’t sorted as such; it sells along with the good colored wool). The second step involved taking the wool with poopy clumps tangled up in it and throwing it into the rubbish barrel I had brought up for that very purpose, although, when Christian wasn’t sorting sheep, he’d throw them in for me because he had gloves on.
When Jim was almost done shearing a sheep, I’d start rolling the fleece up under itself so when I held it up so it wouldn’t fall apart on me. When Jim finally sheared the sheep clean, I’d gather it up and go toss it in a bag.
Let me tell you about how this bag business is set up. The bag itself is nearly eight feet tall and narrow with a width of a foot. Jim brought along a structure to hold the bag that consisted of a ladder connected to a hopper that the bag goes on which, in turn, is connected to a panel that is wired onto a hastily-built corral panel of dubious integrity. You climb up the ladder and shove the fleece into it and then you jump into the bag and start stomping on it so we could get as many fleeces as we could in the bag because Jim had only brought six bags with him. Although I would suggest only jumping in there when it is four fleeces full, because it’s hard enough as it is getting out of there as it is nearly impossible without once fleece in there. I also suggest using a stick of something to press the first three down because when I land down into the bag to shove it, the ladder slid away and I became trapped with the upper half of my body in the bag with the hoop pinning me against the panel. Thankfully, they were able to hear my cries for help over the radio and got me out of there. Jim got a good laugh out that!
There were times when jumping down into the bag that I’d forget to raise my arms high enough and I knocked them against the hoop going down and let me tell you, getting out of a narrow, eight-foot bag, while only using your arms that were hurting like heck wasn’t half as funny as it sounds. Needless to say, I didn’t forget but one or thrice.
Pizza for lunch was a welcoming break to say the least. Cutting the sheep’s tails short proved interesting because Jim kept forgetting to hold onto every other sheep that needed its tail snipped; it was funny the first few times, but the novelty wore off rather quickly. After all of the shearing and snipping had been done, we moved the sheep and their lambs back across the road, leaving only the wethers slated for butcher and the rams behind to take up to the old homestead. We then began the arduous task of rolling the five and a half bags (one filled up halfway) to Jim’s pickup. It took two of us to stack all of the bags up on there and after that we loaded up Jim’s equipment and wished him on his merry way.
Two days of handling sheep fleece had made my hands all soft and ‘lotionally’ that weeks afterwards they were still like a babe’s bum and relieved that we were done with the sheep.
Stories by Dallas – May 2014
A man once said that a writer was the only sort of person that he knew of that thought that he could accomplish more by doing nothing. In this I am not exempt, for more often enough when I would make any attempt at writing down a story, I would find myself staring down at a blank piece of paper, twiddling a pencil between my fingers, uncertainty plaguing my mind as I sought to create an epic that will survive the ages. This isn’t always a result of writers block, but rather a fear of, for lack of a better term, making it impalpable. To write it down would be to write it on stone, because when it’s all floating up in your head you can change it however you want it from adventure to romance to mystery to who knows what, but when you write it down it’s almost like it’s unchangeable. Even when you know that you can just start-up a new draft, there’s still a strange feeling of wrongness about it. Also it can just be hard to put your story into words. You can see it easily enough in your mind’s eye and go through the scenes as you please, but when you write it down you have to be descriptive, ascribing colourful details that bring your story to life, but too much detail and reading it will seem more like a chore having to bog through rather than a luxury, but neither can be lacking in detail and thus making your characters and story boring and engaging, unless, of course, you were trying to make a character or place strange and unknowable by purposely making it vague. Simply put you must moderate your detail to the context of the scene or character or even story. Take for example, if you were to write an adventure, you would add greater detail, an action scene, or if you were writing a children’s book you would write in detail the adorableness of a squirrel or caterpillar or kitten, and if you were writing a trashy romance novel you would write in detail about… trashy… romance… stuff. Anyway, I hope this blog entry will provide some insight into writing.
Not surprisingly, music has shown itself to be helpful in learning once again. In fact, of my three children, Dallas, who has just turned 21 and was diagnosed with Aspergers just last year, but started vocal and piano lessons at 14, showed the most marked improvement, not only in vocal skills, but in problem solving, speech enunciation, concentration, focus, and memory enhancement. (an upgraded WordPress would allow some pretty cool home music performances on here!) I regret not having started them all on piano and vocal lessons much earlier in life, but no use wallowing in guilt about something that cannot be changed. However, if our experience will encourage anyone to consider such lessons for their children, starting as soon as possible, that’d be keen. Formal lessons to start wouldn’t be necessary. Just sing, clap, tap your toes with your children – you’ll have loads of fun, too! As they progress, introduce more complicated rhythms and/or a foreign language fun song as well. Those brain synapses will be stretching and growing all over! Whether you are a home, government, or private educator – put some music in those young lives! It’ll last a lifetime!
Speech therapy?! Try SING therapy!
A Musical Fix for U.S. Schools – an essay by Ms Joanne Lipman for the Wall Street Journal This essay, once again, explains the importance of music in our lives. Sadly, government and some private schools put this on the chopping block far too often.
Jessica was very active in the music department through college, having received a vocal scholarship and was involved with the Chorale group and Conservatory Singers choir. Now graduated, spring of 2013, she teaches Kindergarten at The American School in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, where she also volunteers to direct the high school honor choir. She continues to practice piano when she has time. Dallas hasn’t put his musical skills to work yet, except to enjoy singing and making a joyful noise unto Yahweh! His voice is well-suited for baritone parts. He started out not even being able to hear a note on the piano and matching the pitch! Nathan continues vocal lessons locally and last winter was involved with Carousel Productions in Macon, Missouri. The six performances were sold out! Though he had initially been rejected at his audition for singing parts, he showed up and did so much better during practices, that he eventually landed FOUR small parts in the productions. Les Misérables has always been one of our favourite shows, so it was especially sweet that he was able to participate.