Dear Phillies, Dude will never abandon you

Last weekend, our family went to an event for families who have loved ones on the autism spectrum. It was set up like a carnival and had lots of interactive things for people of all ages to try.

One of the activities Dude tried was a station where you could create your own avatar. You know those Xbox Kinect games like “Just Dance”? You pick a character, move around, and the motion sensors from the gaming system pick up your movements and translate them to the character on the screen. It’s pretty neat technology.

At this particular avatar station, you got to select your background, your character, and the speed of your voice since there was a voice recording/modulation component.

There were about 15 backgrounds to choose from. Without hesitation, Dude selected Citizens Bank Park.

For his character, he chose bacon. Because bacon.

And finally, Dude chose the slowest, lowest voice setting because slow-mo things never fail to make him laugh.

When it was Dude’s turn to step into the station, the people running it told us he first had to do the recording of whatever it was he wanted to say.

Our parents and I exchanged glances as I guided Dude to the mic. “What should we get him to say?” we asked each other.

The thing that’s sometimes frustrating about Dude is that we know he can do something, but because of his mood, the sensory environment, the alignment of the planets, etc., he doesn’t, and by consequence, people who don’t know him that well underestimate his abilities. I hate it when people underestimate him as soon as they hear the word “autism.” It’s one of my pet peeves.

Even though Dude is perfectly capable of speaking in short phrases and saying things that make him giggle, we were convinced he wasn’t going to perform in the somewhat overwhelming environment.

In the midst of trying to decide what to get him to say, Dude, ignoring us and completely understanding what he was supposed to do, bent down towards the mic and, without hesitation, chanted, “Let’s Go Phillies!!!” And then switched his voice and said in slow-mo, “Let’s go Phiiiilllllllll.” (He has a habit of dropping off the ends of words.)

Mom, Dad, and I looked at each other and then at Dude, shocked and delighted. Dude looked at us like, “What? Of course I’m cheering for my team. Duh, guys.”

He then recorded the movements for his avatar (with some help from me), and now we have a video of a piece of bacon waving its arms around in Citizens Bank Park chanting, “Let’s Go Phillies!”

Bonus story: Turns out Dude is really good at spelling. There was an iPad game/app that showed you a photo and blank circles for how many letters were in the word. You had to decide what the word was, and then pick up the correct letters and put them in front of the iPad to spell the word. We knew Dude can read sight words really well, but he was nailing the spelling with minimal assistance from us. Go Dude!

Watching the avatar video before selecting his scene and character.

Watching the avatar video before selecting his scene and character.

This spelling stuff is easy, guys.

This spelling stuff is easy, guys.

Dude is done with winter

Last night, Dad and Dude went to get haircuts.

In the car, Dude insisted that they listen to Bob Marley (and added in his own harmonies, as per usual).

At the hair salon, Dude couldn’t tear his eyes away from the Phillies sweatshirt a fellow patron was wearing.

I think he is longingly dreaming of warm weather and all the fun activities that go along with it.

It might be time to break out Dude’s “Waves DVD” to get him through these last few weeks (please, sweet Baby Jesus, let it get warmer in the next few weeks) of winter!

Happy Birthday, Dude!

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As a Facebook friend pointed out, “I see his eyebrows came back nicely :)”

Dear Mr. Dude,

Mom texted me this picture this morning while she was visiting you and told me you said, “Hi Julianne, yo!” Well I say, “Happy birthday, yo!” I can’t believe you’re now officially into your mid-twenties.

It’s been a big year with a lot of changes, but I hope you always know that we love you very much! The According to Dude followers think you’re kind of awesome too. You have tons of people in your corner!

Have a great time at the Phillies game tonight with Dad and I’ll see you on Sunday for your bowling birthday party (assuming I don’t die or end up in the hospital because of the Tough Mudder on Saturday).

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Gratuitous baby Dude photo. On his 2nd birthday.

Love you always,

Julianne

 

Karate chop

Back story #1

Dude is very good at making and memorizing associations. Once he creates an association, he’ll hang on to it for quite some time.

Dude-ism #62

A couple weeks ago, the whole family was out at a Phillies game. And by whole family, I mean: two sets of aunts and uncles, three cousins, Dude and me, our parents, and our Pop Pop. We had a big tailgate set up just across from the stadium. We had been sitting for awhile, chatting and enjoying the perfect weather, when Dude abruptly stood up and started making his way across the tailgate. Mom and I were tense, waiting to see if he was going to make a run for it (as he is sometimes prone to doing).

However, Dude walked over to our Uncle Mike, faced his back to him, and waited.

We all burst out laughing.

For years, Uncle Mike randomly does rapid karate chop hand movements on Dude’s back; and Dude LOVES it because it makes his voice vibrate. Our immediate family tries to mimic it as best we can, but no one is as good as Uncle Mike… And Dude knows it.