Posted in Behavior/ ABA, Fun Side of Nick

Blog #25~ About those 25 fire alarm pulls….

Blog #25~ About those 25 fire alarm pulls……

It seemed fitting for Blog #25 that I expand on the 25 fire alarm pulls that Nick has craftily gotten a hold of since third grade.  I touched upon this a bit in Blog #10~Nano second which chronicled a week of Nick’s charades of wreaking havoc.  Most of the pulls have occurred in the school setting.  While it clearly states in his IEP to both cover and carefully monitor Nick around all fire alarms this still hasn’t stopped him. By the way, just because an alarm is covered doesn’t mean he won’t try and lift it up.  But at least the cover will buy you a few extra seconds. Most of the questions I get have been these…. Why is he so drawn to them?  How can he be so fast? And finally…How does the fire department and staff react once he pulls one?

If you have read any of my other posts it is clear that Nick likes to grab you attention by doing all kinds of things like pushing buttons, dumping out all sorts of things, burping, farting you name it he does it.  The Holy Grail is always going to be the fire alarm.  I mean think about it.  That is a big payoff.  There is a scurry of people exiting the building and the fire trucks come with lights flashing and sirens blaring.  How cool is that? 🙂

The last alarm he pulled was exactly a year ago.  Interesting how he can smell fresh blood and that is when he makes his attack.  Anyone new just starting to work with him will most likely go down.  I spoke to the new school aid that had fallen victim to #25 when I dropped Nick off at the Halloween dance last year. He was still beating himself up felt mortified…….Poor guy.

One of my friends sent this message after the Nano Second blog post #10.Having been the victim of Nick’s nanosecond skills, I can offer one morsel. He achieves his speed by help of his poker face while plotting (don’t often think of Nick’ mind racing but I believe it does) and sometimes in steps. I saw him try to 2-step me with your hat. First a small move inching the hat 2 feet closer to him on the table, with those innocent eyes.  Then he swooped in ready for the 25 footer Frisbee toss.”

He is fast!  The last time he got me was three years ago at Dominick’s.  (Just so you know he has only got me twice. Al has yet to get caught but he was almost burned by Nick in a very packed Houston-IAH Airport the day after Christmas. The alarms are painted silver, whut?  Nick grazed it but his Dad was able to swipe his hand away.)  So, back to Dominick’s…..

In my defense it wasn’t the usual one I shopped at plus I was wearing one of those bulky  therapy boots on my right foot which had suffered a plantar fasciitis tear.  Minutes before this happened Nick was carefully taking the items out of the grocery cart and placing them on the conveyer belt.  The cashier smiled and gave a compliment on what a good helper he was.  I always have Nick push the cart so he is occupied while in the store.  That’s when it happened.  Suddenly, he stopped, released his hands and made a beeline to one.  I hobbled behind him and made a last ditch leap stretching my arm like a defensive back trying to block a touchdown pass.   “Nooooo Nick!”  But it was too late.  His fingers clutched the switch just as my hand touched his wrist.  What followed were flashes of lights and an earsplitting sound that could break glass.  All of the patrons stopped and cover their ears.  I glanced over at the courtesy booth and saw the store manager throw his hands in the air and shake his head.   All I could do was shrug my shoulders and mouth one word “sorry” as I pointed down at the offender.  Nick was frozen in a trance like state; his eyes as big as saucers.  While he stood motionless; his whole body was trembling.

I knew I had to get him out of there fast as the excitement was fueling him like a crack head junkie.  The rain was falling on that cool autumn afternoon as we made our way to the car.  I got him belted in, put the grocery bags in the back and waited for the fire truck.  You see, even if it is a false alarm the firemen still have to come and investigate.  As Aurora’s finest came blazing in, I limped across the parking lot, drenched from the rain to make my apologies.  I saw two firefighters entered the store no doubt to deal with the scene.  Sheepishly I spoke to the other two who waited in the truck. I explained that Nick had Down syndrome and autism and a passion for pulling alarms. They didn’t say a whole lot but seemed to understand.

Over the years I have asked various fire fighters about someone like Nick who gets a charge out of pulling alarms.  Most of them hardly blink an eye. Last weekend while Nick was helping with a fundraiser for the Peer Buddies program a few of Aurora’s Fire Fighters stopped to give a donation.

As they put money in the tin can I commented, “Hey Nick really likes your fire truck he has been eyeing it since we got here. Oh and he really likes fire alarms too, all 25 of them that he has pulled since third grade.”  One of the guys busted out in laughter and gave Nick a high five!  A few minutes later, they drove their truck right by us with sounding the horn, sirens and lights.  Nick was in heaven! 🙂

I have to give a shout out to these guys and share a few pictures 🙂

Nick helping out with the siren testing at the Duck, NC Fire Department…….

“Wow this is awesome”

Nick collection of tee shirts…..

Thanks to my friend Veleen for sending Nick this one…..

So, here’s to the brave and kind *fire fighters! That’s what is in my noggin this week. Until next Monday why don’t you take a look around at all the alarms in the community?  I bet you’ll see how accessible they are and think….Gosh Nick could get that easily…..and smile. 


* “If Prometheus was worthy of the wrath of heaven for kindling the first fire upon earth, how ought all the gods to honor the men who make it their professional business to put it out?”   ~ John Godfrey Saxe


Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Fun Side of Nick

Blog #11~The Good Ole Summertime

 The Good Ole Summer Time

Driving home from Dominick’s grocery store the other day I saw a group of enthusiastic kids jumping up and down on the sidewalk in front of their lemonade stand.  It took me back in time.  I recall the makeshift cardboard lemonade stands of past and thinking we could make a fortune.  In reality we barely made enough to buy a handful of Pixie Sticks at the local Stop & Go.  Years later, Hank and my niece Courtney crafted their own while we lived outside the East Bay area of San Francisco.  Our house was located at the very edge of a dead end street.  I think they might have sold enough cups to buy a few Pokémon cards.

Hank and his cousin, Courtney in California….Lemonade anyone?

Funny how such a visual can instantly take you back.  Oh…. the good ole summer time.  I have fond memories with my older brother Tom and younger sister, Laura.  We grew up a couple of blocks from Galveston Bay in Texas.  The Houston Yacht Club (HYC) was our playground.  We called ourselves “The Three Investigators.” We spent hours there swimming, climbing over the rocks on the jetty that served as the bulkhead around the harbor and sailing the Sunfish during the week.   Friday evenings were my favorite before a race regatta weekend. Dad would haul the Ensign out and scrub the bottom of the hull while we went swimming. Mom packed the rattan picnic basket filled with homemade crispy, golden fried chicken.

The igloo cooler (with Dad’s signature marker initials “TAR”) would be chilling Mom’s potato salad the absolute best along with a sundry of Shasta soda pops.  Mom would take us to Kroger and we would each pick out our favorite flavors (10 cans for one dollar!) Strawberry and black cherry were my favorite flavors.  Laura would always choose grape and the cola while Tom always picked the odd flavors like root beer and cream soda.

Our summers by the bay:

Dad getting the boat in ship shape for race day

Mini me in 1968, with my sibs in the background…. 

Looking back, I am not sure if anything stands out in Nick’s mind. But he does like looking at photographs from the past. Nick has Down syndrome and autism.  This week, I wanted to share a slice of our summer activities over the years.  Here is a photo tour of our summer fun:

Sandbox fun in Texas…..

Pool time… Nick messing with his brother, Hank…

Cooling off on the deck..

At Monterey a great coastline…..Yes it’s summer but it can be chilly in Northern California….

Tailgating at Sox Game…

Riding the train into Chicago with Uncle Tom….”Yay, double thumbs up!”

Our boys also got a chance to spend time down at HYC.  It was nice to share my childhood playground with the both of them.  Here is Nick with Paw Paw (my Dad)……

Nick behind the ships wheel, no worries we were dockside here. 

Hank and his cousin, Sam taking in Half Moon Bay in  California

Hank flying a kite at Hilton Head Island with his Dad and Grandpa Jim.  Nick’s playing in the sand to the right….. 

Most recently, we have been going to a new spot. An island strip called the Outer Banks (OBX) located in North Carolina.  We rent a house in the town called, Duck.  There is a peacefulness and charm to this area and the Duck Fire Department is very accomadating.

Siren testing, Nick is loving it…..

We get together with Ron and Ali, (Nick’s aunt and uncle) along with their kids Anna and Sam.  At OBX we are on beach time, very chill.  We turn the knob to “Bob” our favorite radio station and let the music take us back in time while the waves wash away all worries.

Hank, Sam and Nick chilling on the beach in OBX….

Pool time at OBX….. Nick says, Life is good!

Hope you enjoyed a slice of the good ole summertime.  That’s what’s in my noggin this week.  Time to slather on the sunscreen, blow up the beach balls, spit some watermelon seeds and enjoy the fireflies dancing in the evening sky…..  Looking forward to visiting a new coastline in Oregon for a family reunion and another trip to the OBX! Until next Monday, I hope your summer memories are  sunny, warm and relaxing.