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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Writer/Curator/Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project. Contributing Author to Between Interruptions: Thirty Women Tell the Truth About Motherhood, and Concepts of Normality by Wendy Lawson, and soon to be published Gravity Pulls You In. Writing my own book. Lecturer on autism and the media and parenting. Current graduate student Critical Disability Studies and most importantly, mother of Adam -- a new and emerging writer.

“There is no hope unmingled with fear, and no fear unmingled with hope.” -- Baruch Spinoza

Sunday, January 21, 2007


January Has Gone to The...

The beginning of 2007 has been the most delirious of new year beginnings. I believed I mentioned a lovely family holiday -- all twenty of our family down south -- and Adam enjoying his cousins. As soon as we returned, I underwent knee surgery the following day. Three days later, we acquired our awaited puppy, Kiki, when the unusual warm and dry streets of Toronto, because of the knee surgery of course, turned to ice. So I fell, irritated my knee and was down two more days. Then, I acquired the stomach flu this past week, and yesterday, Adam underwent the same. This is why I will endearly refer to January 2007, the RIDICULOUS month.

Yet, I have the perfect antedote for any ailment: get a puppy. There are no excuses, no possibility of sitting too long. Kiki arrivied in her eighth week. A goldendoodle, she has a great temperment and is easily trainable. We are training her to be a "companion dog," for Adam. She arrived teething, nipping and of course, jumping all over us. Thanks to Henry, who read all the puppy training books there may be on the market (he made up for all the Penelope Leach books he didn't read), he was ready. Kiki doesn't have a chance to chew on our furniture, jump up on the couch, or jump on our visitors. Henry took hours training her, "behaviourally" of course. Sit, off, lie down, wait....all are part of her everyday repertoire now because of him -- and we've only had her for two weeks.

"This is operant conditioning, you know," he says to me with a wry smile, Kiki sitting obediently at his feet, looking up at him. "She's a good dog," he says with a look of dumb puppy love. "I have to say," he sighs, "it is pretty gross."

"What is?"

"To think of teaching a person this way."

I shrug. He knows my feelings so there is not much more I can say. I am too tired, my knee up on the couch with two pillows. The obedience trainer has enlightened me to the dog's world -- how the Alpha Dog let's the pack know who's boss, and how to teach a dog who's Alpha in the home, and what is expected. The means of training a dog is not unfamiliar to what they already experience within their pack. When the trainer comes and I express my trepidation of being too harsh, I watch a video of "puppy training" on the couch. The dogs are shown in their natural environment. A firm but gentle nudge to show whose boss is enough to have a good puppy.

Anyway, it's all about the dog, the knee and the stomach flu this month. I look forward to smoother sailing ahead.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ooo the dog debate! Too many questions! Never even heard of a goldendoodle, or are you pulling my leg? [no additional pun intended]
Presumably $$$ too?
I'll contemplate this step and dither a while.

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what a cute dog! hope you will recuperate fast.

1:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful puppy. :-) I agree, I can't stand the idea of training a person that way. They use ABA to train the mentally ill. So the person has bipolar or schizophrenia... and they are living in a sort of half-way house with others, learning life skills so they can go out on their own, and the staff bring in a behaviorist to make sure everyone is being rewarded/punished in an efficient manner.

I worked at one of the half-way houses here for about a week when I was going to school (a year ago). I was apalled. I quit.

Of course, they weren't slapping the patients or anything, but they still engaged with the clients as if one couldn't reason with them, the clients needed to be treated like unreasoning animals... offer them 10 minutes of time on the phone if they are good, and a cookie if they are really good. These people were aware that they were being objectified this way.


3:02 PM  
Anonymous kyra said...

such a cute puppy! so glad you have a good trainer! we tried and tried and gave it our all but we never hired outside help and we ought to have. our gal is a cutie and has a sweet temperment but she is still eating our house up, from the outside in. ah well. we don't even have the constitution to train our DOG the way animal trainers say we ought to.

at least we are trying to follow the great great cesar milan's magic triumverate: exercise, discipline, and affection. we're trying!

9:17 AM  
Anonymous speechmom said...

Hello, I am a speech pathologist and a mom. Yes... It is very similar. I have worked with ABA teams but have never ever used ABA as a means of therapy. The scary thing is that there are people out there using ABA who arent trained in it. As if trained ABA people were not scary enough. I worked with one child and the parent asked me to observe the teacher working with him. They said it was "different" and that he didnt like it.... I couldnt
believe it--- Hard Core ABA with mm's and directives in a highchair strapped in. After further q's i came to find out she had no "official" aba training but of course she "knew how to do it". The child wasnt even diagnosed with anything other than Speech Delay. It wasnt in his IEP..... She was fired... and the mother told her "My child is not a dog that you give biscuits to" Way to go MOM!!!!!

2:48 PM  

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