Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Writing Study Ties Autism to Motor-Skill Problems

This article from NPR (and related podcast) is a must read for autistic parents.

Interestingly enough, last night I pushed D on his fork using habits. He knows how to do it....but struggles to do it. Socially his eating habit looks in appropriate.

This article speaks to my greatest fears for my son....."being the last person picked in kickball"

Friday, November 20, 2009

Doug Flutie # 22

22 is my favorite number. Maybe Doug Flutie's Hail Mary pass had something to do with it? Recently coming across his autistic son's website ( brought back memories.

We had a tumultuous couple of weeks for D - surgery, parties, lots of attention and noise - he finally seems to be in rhythm. I invited him out with me last evening and we actually had a conversation. He was engaging, open, insightful and responsive. This truly may have been THE BEST conversation we ever had in his 8 years of life. He also woke up the next morning "bright eyed and bushy tailed". It was truly a conversion. THAT is what keeps me going.

I have a lot more to learn about D and a lot to learn about autism.
Can we focus more on dietary impacts? Yes
Can we focus more on environmental impacts? Yes
Can we do this while staying sane? Yes - with the help of friends, family and the social networks out there.

Thank you Doug Flutie. Maybe you will give me more than just # 22.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Super Duper Pooper

Abi finally did poop in the potty yesterday.

Simple - yes.

TMI - yes.

Life milestones slowly being checked off - yes.

Friday, September 11, 2009

8 Years Ago

Sept 11 will always have signifigance for me. My father worked at the World Trade Center. I spent time there with him "behind the sheetrock" of the Twin Towers (he worked for NY Telephone). A small piece of me was lost 8 years ago today.

It saddens me that I will never be able to take my kids to see "where Grandpa Jack worked"

As a parent, I look back 8 years ago. J was our only child. Rachel was pregnant with D. Today all 4 kids go to some sort of school program. Life moves forward. We move with it. Gaining and losing pieces as we go.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The First Time

We wrapped up an adventurous summer with a trip to a Lake George Log Cabin (courtesy of the Vanda-Leary's). This was the first time J, D and JP were on a boat. We realized that as the boat was hitting full throttle. We wrapped up the evenings with campfires and smores.

My children are receiving life experiences at different times in their life than I received. I am enjoying watching them do things for the first time. The excitement, pure joy, innocence and wonder.

I am looking to bottle this formula for all of us kids (young and old) to experience again and again.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Seizing Dad and Son Moments

The kids returned to school this week. J in 4th. D in 3rd and JP starting kindergarten (see photo). We celebrated the start of a new school year with a trip to Cold Stone Creamery.

After returning home, everyone came inside except D. He was dribbling a basketball outside. I listened and then watched....he was really dribbling!! He caught me standing there at the door watching him. He stopped and said, "Hey Dad, want to play?". I nearly pulled a hamstring muscle running to play with him (hey, I waited years for this moment to arrive). We each took turns dribbling and then passed the ball back and forth. I was in shock - realizing this is VERY RARE to play catch with D (read earlier post). We then played a game of 1 on 1. He laughed heartily as he repeatedly stole the ball from me.

We finished and started to walk inside, D said "Hey Dad, how about we play some baseball?". My jaw dropped. "OF COURSE!", I said (as darkness quickly approached). I pitched as D hit balls far into the night. I ran after the ball as D ran around the bases. After about 10 straight hits, I said, "OK, buddy ONE MORE". D said, "OK Dad, one more crushing homer". I like the confidence, I thought to myself. I pitched and you know what.....he crushed it!

With beads of sweat on our brow we walked arm in arm back into the house. I looked at D as he said, "Dad, that was so much fun I did not want it to end!". Starting to choke up, I composed myself quickly and said, "me too buddy, me too".

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Kids with Autism, Graduate, Achieve Dreams

The article title really sums it up for me - Kids with Autism, Graduate, Achieve Dreams.

Every parent has dreams for their children.

For me, the autism word hit me like a rock and the greatest fear is that those dreams would not be realized. My dreams for my children change over the years (from wanting them to be a professional baseball player to simply being happy then to back being a baseball player again)

I am learning to love and let go....and the fine art of balancing that. A healthy balance to support those dreams....whatever they may be and whatever hurdles come our way.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Dad Experiment: Final Thoughts

I learned A LOT about each of my children these past 4 days

Let me share FOUR:
1. J needs independance as well as daddy protection.....on her terms (So, maybe i can be a little flexible with bedtime in conjunction with reading to her in my arms)
2. D needs me to love him for who he is and what he likes. (Sports IS MY THING....not HIS THING). So I will learn to love what he loves....he told me this summer he wants to do Astronomy and Chess with me.
3. JP needs exercise every day. He has a lot of energy and needs to work it off - this weekend we literally played baseball, football, basketball and soccer CONSECUTIVELY. Need to encourage his athleticism.
4. A is extremely bright. Very engaging with language and play in a group or solo. Loves to have bare feet and I suspect she will be athletic as well.

They know this time is over. Each of them wanted a BIG HUG and be placed in a HOT DOG Blanket tonight. I blessed each of them, gave them LOVE POWER and told them how much I enjoyed this time with them.

Final comment from J - "Dad, I am going to miss you when you go back to work"

You know what....I miss them already.

Tired Dad = Happy Kids

Last Day of flying solo with the kids. Happenings were unexpected but with 12 more hours to go, hoping for a smooth landing :-)

Very simply, I am tired. Not so much physically. But mentally drained on keeping up on homework, drop off times, play dates, more homework, snacks, meals, who likes what food, diaper changes, wardrobe changes....basically managing it all.

Honestly - I love them more today than yesterday. It's hard to explain (unless you are a Dad) but I truly love being with them. As a Dad, I don't do that consistently (its hard to with work) so these moments (even unexpected) I am trying to step it up. There is a certain sense of guilt of not being around for every life moment....but I am coming to grips with that.

Let's see what the rest of the day has to offer...

Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Weekend Experiment: Dad plus 4 Kids

Today is the start of Day 2 with my kiddies.

Yesterday was filled with lots of playtime outside - we played football and baseball.

I carved out a 20 minute nap. While I enjoyed my nap, my daughter called my wife to let her know I was indeed taking a nap (busted!)

We had pizza at Big Y for dinner. Seemed successful - although I got a lot of sympathetic looks from the employees and other customers.

We watched the beginning of a movie - Night at the Museum I - while eating dessert. Kids down for sleep by 9 pm - a little later than usual :-)

We woke up bright and early by 8 am with 2 wet beds, one child who will remain nameless removed her diaper.

This morning started with a bath for 2 of the 4 kids. Then we ate Cinnamon French Toast, Apples and Juice. I got a cheer for "making the best French Toast in the world!!"

Day 2 brings along some nice weather and a planned trip to the pool at Nanna and Poppy's house.

Maybe I need some coffee?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

4 Days, 4 Kids, 1 Dad

I have completed 5 hours of spending 4 days with the kids......alone! (queue dramatic background music). So far we have made it through breakfast (donuts, organic waffles and fruit) and 3 spilled drinks.

I look forward to spending time with my kids. During the week I don't see them as often, so weekends are special for me. It seems every week I look to reconnect. This will be an experiment for all of us. We will try to balance fun and work (trying to get that coverage for Monday and Tuesday) and sunshine and playing and meals and naps and schoolwork. While we miss mom (she is in FL), we know she is spending 4 days getting refreshed and replenished after 40 years of life.

If you have empathy for me.....wish me the best.
If you don', wish me the best anyway.

I will keep you posted on developments through facebook and twitter.

1/2 day complete....7 more 1/2 days to go.....but who's counting (smile)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thomas the Tank Engine Helps Autistic Kids

I have been thinking about autism a lot lately. I think it is because D is getting older. Concerns arise in my mind of a "tween" D and the challenges or opportunities that will bring. My heart and mind are hopeful there will continue to be progress. I know there will be pain too and I am not blind to that. But looking forward to continuing to connect with my boy.

Thomas the Tank Engine brings back memories for me. Especially memories of when D was younger and had an obsession with wheels (toy cars, trains, etc...). I suggest reading - "Thomas the Tank Engine helps autistic kids identify emotions". It's a good article & worth the read.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Joy and Pain

One thing I learned about being a Dad is that each day is filled with new opportunities as well as challenges.

The Joy....
Today JP had school orientation. New school for him and for our family. He told me he loved it "ONE THOUSAND PERCENT".

This past weekend, David celebrated his first Holy Communion. During the ceremony, he read the Prayer of the Faithful in front of the entire congregation...FLAWLESSLY. There were awkward social moments (sign of peace), but overall a successful event for all of us.

The Pain...
Yesterday was David's Poetry Tea at school. Each student took turns reading 2 short poems at the podium. For David...he approached the podium awkwardly. He held the podium and looked like he was going to start reading. Then he looked up at the audience (mistake) and just froze. He muttered, "this is embarassing" and completely froze. The other kids said "come on David, you can do it!" After 2 minutes, his eyes began to water. This moment was (and continues to be) extremely painful for me. I am deeply saddened by it. What hurts me the most is that in THAT MOMENT, I had NO IDEA how to help him. I can not forget the look on his face of despair, fear and anxiety. I did NOTHING. The teacher tried to comfort him while Rachel read his poems to the class to complete the poetry tea party. Everyone clapped! Folks went to eat cheese and crackers while in the corner David and my wife were crying. Within minutes, David is having crackers and fruit and interacting (in his way) with the other kids.

After school, David came home and asked "Hey Dad, want to play basketball?" We shot hoops together, we laughed and he made a basket.

It seems to be a small blip on his radar. Yet I am still sad.

I do know that I have not posted in some time. Maybe I was being complacent with his progress? This was a wake up call for me to push forward - for me and for him.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Family Math Night

I bonded tonight with J. We enjoyed time at Math Night (am i a geek or what?)! Maybe it is just me - but I get VERY emotional when spending time with my daughter. There is a powerful bond between Dad and daughter. I have a lot to learn but I find being with her is good - very good for both of us.

I had a blast.....but don't trust my word my guest's comments :-)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Jack O'Leary Pasta Night

22nd Annual Jack O'Leary Pasta Night was held on Saturday at St. Clare's School in the Bronx, NY. This event has been held since the year of my Dad's death in 1988. D was sick this year so I went with my mom and 2 of 4 kiddies. They had a blast since the Chaluisan girls joined us.

My kids "love pasta night". It really is a blast for kids - loud music, food, dancing, raffles. The reality is that it is all about the children. Passing the legacy of my father - a servant for family, friends, and community on to the next generations.

Maybe that is my reality? Building on the legacy of my father before me.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Fatherhood Talk

I had a good talk with the kids last night. Well, at least that is my opinion.
The talk centered around 2 things:
1 - Respecting yourself and others
2 - Inauguration of Barack Obama

The goal was to ensure they were being respectful to everyone but most especially their family. They are blessed to have each other and I know they love each other just by their actions. However sometimes life gets in the way. Let's see how much sticks for an 8, 7 and 4 year old.

I was pleased to know that they also watched the presidential inauguration at school. D was very expressive in letting me know about Obama and Biden. He also very clearly told me that Obama was the 44th president but the 1st African-American president. It was beautiful to hear.

In both instances, I hope they not only heard/saw but truly understand.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Not sure if you can learn fatherhood from reading (online or offline). But I am willing to give it a try. Although, I agree you can be inspired by learning tips, tricks and ideas. Fatherhood for me has been evolutionary. From thinking babies come FLYING OUT (me wearing a catchers mitt) of the womb. To currently trying to communicate with my soon to be 9 year old daughter (not the same communication as when she is 2).

So I will give these websites a chance: - National Fatherhood Institute - National Fatherhood Clearinghouse

But this blog (and others out there like this) are the place where we can build up our resources to make fatherhood matter.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Coping with an Autistic Brother

I invite you to read this interesting article from NPR.....or better yet listen to its corresponding podcast.

I read this and wonder how my daughter feels.
One quote was striking, "...her brother's diagnosis has affected every aspect of her life from the time he was born."

I guess I also wonder how I cope as a Dad.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Sunday I had a blast with JP. He joined me while I was a referee at 2 games. He truly enjoys watching the games - you can see the intensity in his eyes as he watches.

Afterwards we watched the Giants lose, we watched a lacrosse game, we played one on one basketball, we shared a pretzel, we had some gatorade. We finally called it a day. We spent 5 hours together.

The key was spending time together. I loved it and hopefully he did too. Nothing out of the ordinary - just time. Fatherhood.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

New Year, New Words

A refers to siblings as JackA, Day Day, and Ju Ju. Well, that was 2008.

2009 she has grasped full names. Oh, with complete sentences too.

Knows proper usage for Why? and What?

Full mastery on how to hold a mobile phone (and make calls).

More gray hairs are coming :-)