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David Royko Psy.D

Photo Gallery

Ben and His Next Big Adventure (Cleveland) Ben and His Next Big Adventure (Cleveland) Visit Number One Our first visit to Ben in Cleveland, and Karen's reading a favorite. May 14, 2011 127404887 Waterfalling Ben in his new neighborhood at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, just south of Cleveland. A National Park next to Cleveland? Who knew? May 28, 2011 127402528 Dashboard Splat When Ben is in the back seat and finishes a pear or apple, he "throws it in the garbage." The garbage bag is on the front seat floor. Ben's aim is approximate. May 28, 2011. 127402526 Making Mom nervous One of the many parks near Monarch, this one has a high slide Ben spotted right away. It made Mom a little nervous. It made Ben giggle. May 29, 2011 127402527 Handprint Ben's sticky hand meets the hotel mirror. May 28, 2011. 127402525 Bearded Benny I love the beard. Karen can't wait to shave him. June 16, 2011. 129104035 Shaved Benny Beatnik no more. Karen and electric razor had their way. June 18, 2011. 129401464 Ben via Skype The main downside of Ben's move to Cleveland is, now he lives in Cleveland -- six hours away instead of 90 minutes. But Skype is a big help. This is a snapshot from tonight's conversation. June 24, 2011. 129812330 To The Hot Tub Waiting at the elevator, Ben happily anticipates a dunk in hot water, July 2, 2011. 130588636 Not There Yet Ben chattering to Karen as he relaxes in the bathtub after a busy day. When Ben gets impatient or unhappy or bored or (etc.), he tends to grab an arm, HARD. When his nails aren't trimmed all the way down, a day's worth of grabs add up to this. Karen's arm looks worse. Ben's behavior remains a work in progress. July 3, 2011. 130588637 Ben + Train = Happy Smiling from ear to ear looking out the window on Cleveland's RTA commuter line from Shaker and Green to Tower City, July 31, 2011. 133758375 Crewed Ben actually asked for a haircut after our last visit, possibly because we'd told him we were going to take him for one, and the place ended up being closed. He might've thought that suggesting to staff a haircut would bring us back for it. When we saw him this morning, I did a double-take -- Private Benjamin! The big smile suggests he's enjoyed the day which (so far) has included: A walk through the woodsy Beachwood City Park; a train ride on Cleveland's RTA; Lunch (our first trip to McDonald's since Ben moved here 3 and a half months ago -- a major victory!); a jaunt through Half Price Books; a visit to cows, goats, sheep, and ice cream at the Metro Farm Park; a scenic drive through some of the wilds of Ohio; and watching of some video in the hotel room as his Mom went for food. 135390608 Ben on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad In the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, some of the most gorgeous terrain in the Midwest, October 22, 2011. 140867105 Ben on the Canal Trail Bridge After disembarking at the Canal Visitor Center Station along the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, Ben strolls over the bridge to Karen and the car waiting to pick us up, October 22, 2011. 140867106 Ahhh! Ben LOVES books, and Half Price Books has become the one place we always go on weekends in Cleveland, November 5, 2011. 142015039 Big Ben and Mini Mom Ben has an easier time with the top shelf, November 5, 2011. 142015037 This looks good Ben picks another one for his personal library, November 5, 2011. 142015038 Heading for the cash register Ben's Half Price Books haul for the day, November 5, 2011. 142015036 Blue Eyed Shoe Shopper Ben waits for Mom to settle up at Famous Footwear, November 5, 2011. 142015040 Down on the Farm Ben and Karen walking around the Lake Metroparks Farmpark on a gorgeous fall day, November 5, 2011. 142016601 Ready for his closeup Sometimes timing is good and the lens gets lucky -- Ben looks like he's striking the perfect pose, November 5, 2011. 142016600 Beautiful Bridge Karen and Ben on the footbridge just northwest of the Old Mills Road bridge over the Chagrin River in the Village of Gates Mills, not far from Ben's Shaker Heights pad. A gorgeous little spot, November 26, 2011. 143575654 Waiting for Godot, er, Mom Ben patiently (!) awaits Mom to bring the Chick-fil-A food to the table, November 26, 2011. 143575655 Riveted I pulled up on YouTube some old videos that Ben used to watch, like KidSongs and BabySongs. Ben still recites lines from the videos all the time, even though years ago they "crossed over," which means they were videos he loved but then -- overnight -- became terrifying to him. Absolutely mesmerized by them yesterday when I found a few on-line, but still spooked enough to want to view them from the safety of my lap (Ben is not typically a lap-sitter). Karen took the pic December 10, 2011. 144630711 Ben Meets Razer part 1 The electric trimmer was dead. We'd recharge it for a bit, get a few strokes out of it, it'd die, and it took 3 times to get him almost-trimmed today. This is try one, December 11, 2011. 144678439 Ben Meets Razer part 2 Just before we head back to Deerfield, Ben gets the third and last go at his beard by Karen, December 11, 2011. 144678440 Christmas Crossing Ben crosses the Chagrin River in Chagrin Falls on Christmas day, 2011. 145586916 On the Path Ben leads Karen out of the South Chagrin Reservation, December 25, 2011. 145586917 Excited Often, we don't know if it'll be a smile or an unhappy scream when the hands come down, but this afternoon, it was all grins, as friend Dianne looks worried, December 25, 2011. 145586918 Ben, Jake and Karen Christmas day 2011. 145586919 Christmas Booty Ben opening his presents, Christmas 2011. 145586920 A Favorite We got Ben a bunch of old favorites on VHS for Christmas, much to Ben's delight, December 25, 2011. 145586921 Hot Tubbing December 26, 2011. 145770996 Hair Cutting She was good, cheerful, and fast, which we (all) appreciated, December 27, 2011. 145770997 Miserable A tantrum in the hotel room. Why? No idea. December 27, 2011. 145770998 Surrounded by Food Ben waiting for Karen to get the lunch at Jim Alesci's deli in Solon, a favorite place of Ben's (and Karen's) (and mine!). December 28, 2011. 145770999 Ben-style Snack Three peanut butter min-tubs followed by a bowl of Fruit Loops (without milk -- he's a purist), February 4, 2012. 148573728 Blustery Ben The frigid wind was so strong it felt like we might be blown down, but Ben seemed to think it was pretty cool (no pun intended) to be out on the fishing pier at Edgewater Park. Karen, in a flagrant display of self-preservation, stayed in the car. February 25, 2012. 150203142 Patiently Impatient Ben awaits his burger, and filet o' fish, and fries, keeping an eye on Karen during one of our now-rare visits to McD's, February 25, 2012. 150203143 Cereal Sans Milk Ben enjoying his Frosted Flakes his way -- dumped onto the couch. And why spoil such perfection by getting it all wet with milk? April 15, 2012. 153739084 Walking Through the Marsh He really enjoyed hearing the many different birds. "Birdie," he said repeatedly, and they seemed to keep answering. April 15, 2012. 153739083 Home Ben at the door. It's one year today since he arrived at Monarch, May 5, 2012. 155115742 Gully Brook Park Ben rounds the path with book, as always, in hand, May 26, 2012. 156596338 Books and Treats Barnes and Noble sees much less of Ben since he discovered Half Price Books, but when a book isn't enough, B&N wins out, May 27, 2012. 156701236 Wave Karen passes Ben and me as Cleveland's RTA commuter train takes us from Shaker and Green to Shaker Square, May 27, 2012. 156701237 LeBron, Cleveland and Corky and Lenny In Cleveland hanging with Ben, snapped this in front of the been-around-forever deli Corky and Lenny's. June 16, 2011. 129105018 Metrosexual Ben spilled a bit of water on his shirt and he does NOT like to have any wet spots on his clothes, so into our suitcase he went and this is what he insisted on wearing for the rest of the day -- one of Karen's tops. Between that and his beard (his latest shave left him with a little goatee), Ben is one cool cat, or maybe kitten, May 27, 2012. 156713941 Floortime Several bottom shelves at Half Price Books hold one-dollar VHS tapes, and Ben always takes a look, June 16, 2012. 158053207 Happy Birthday, Lani! Our friends Lani and Roni drove in from Pittsburgh to spend the day with Ben and us in Cleveland. It happened to be Lani's birthday today, and Karen took Ben to buy a cake. Having been told to "Pick out a birthday cake for Lani," Ben insisted that this was the best one, June 16, 2012. 158053208 Twofer I've downloaded a few old favorites off of YouTube for Ben, videos he used to love but then, overnight, "crossed over" and terrified him (Why? No idea -- it's one of the many mysteries of Ben). But time heals all wounds, and these days, he loves to see them. Tonight, he requested "Even More BabySongs," which I found and started playing on the laptop. After a few minutes, he grabbed the DVD wallet and handed me "The DoodleBops," but grabbed my hand when I went to turn off "Even More BabySongs" on the laptop. "You want to watch [and hear!] both at once?" "Both at once." And he meant it. 158114510 Cotton Candy Ben's first taste of Cotton Candy happened today as we walked through the Cleveland Zoo, to help keep him motivated (ie cooperating) enough to ride the zoo-train. He didn't want to try it, and kept pushing my hand away until Karen popped a bit into his mouth before he had a chance to protest, and Shazam! A new Cotton Candy Lover is born, June 18, 2012. 158198805 Ben, Bar and Burger Ben's of legal age to drink at a bar, though all he is interested in is his cheeseburger and fries. We called the B-Spot, our usual after-visit joint, ahead a half hour to order the burger and fries "to go," I dropped Karen off at the front door, Ben and I parked the car, and by the time we got in, Karen had the burger and fries waiting for him at the bar. His Grandpa Mike was with him in spirit! Typically, Ben is not happy to go to a place for the first time. After that, things usually go better the next time and the time after that. But this time, we must have told him 10 times he was going to get a burger and fries at the B Spot, and we did our usual preemptive stuff with Karen going in ahead and everything being ready when Ben walks in. And it did go beautifully! We never take it for granted. April 8, 2016. 201486856 Benjamin Jackson Pollock Ben creates abstract art whenever he eats pizza, and chocolate adds some additional hues, June 18, 2012. 158198806 Bluffs One instance of Cleveland's surroundings' natural beauty, this was taken from the Pleasant Valley Road bridge over the Chagrin River looking toward U.S. Route 6 (Chardon Road at this point), Northeast of the city, June 16, 2012. 158053410 Two Guys At Five Guys Ben waits -- just barely as he keeps trying to inch closer and closer -- at a favorite eatery, 5 Guys Burgers, July 7, 2012. 160279028 Greenery Ben takes a walk, July 8, 2012. 160279029 Honey Proximity Ben recently decorated this frame around his smiling face with animal stickers and a few crowns tossed in -- except for the sticker nearest his lips... August, 2012. 162352509 Waiting at Wendy's Ben patiently waits as Karen orders his food -- something he could not have done two years ago, at least not without a meltdown, September 1, 2012. 164370936 Food's Here!!! I didn't need to look over my shoulder to know Karen was heading toward our table, tray in hand, September 1, 2012. 164370937 Adventurer Our hotel room this past weekend was on the second floor next to the stairwell, which meant no waiting for elevators, and some extra novelty for Ben, who loves exploring, September 15, 2012. 165747452 In The Bag Ben and a bag of Five Guys fries, just before going next door to have his curly locks lopped, October 30, 2012. 168619692 From Hippy To Marine As the barber cuts, Karen bribes with Candy Corn, October 30, 2012. 168619693 Ben and Birds The critters take flight as Ben heads to pier's end at Cleveland's Edgewater Park, December 8, 2012. 170932801 Guess What Color The Cookies Were Winter holidays = blue lips, and not from cold weather, December 8, 2012. 171237423 Old Favorite Smile Ben never gets tired of old videos he used to watch as a tike that pop up these days (and then downloaded by me) on YouTube, like Preschool Power ("You can do it!"), December 28, 2012. 172033679 Pair of Pears Plus One While watching the KidSongs Trucks DVD, Ben decided he wanted a snack -- 3 pears, eaten in quick succession, March 25, 2013. 176746535 Power Walker Before Karen and I left yesterday after this weekend's visit, Ben and I went for a walk around the streets encompassing Monarch's (and the adjacent John Carroll University's) campus, apparently a favorite route of his, taking close to an hour. I had Ben lead the way -- though from behind since he prefers walking behind people, often watching their feet. April 14, 2013. 177843489 Presque Ben Presque Isle State Park is a 3,112-acre Pennsylvania state park on an arching sandy peninsula that juts into Lake Erie, 4 miles west of the city of Erie, so says Wikipedia. And Ben says, "And now let's watch Mr. Bunny," which means he's enjoying our walk along the beach, Saturday, May 4, 2013. 178826108 Say Cheese Whenever Ben sees someone with a camera, he says "Say cheese!" That doesn't mean he poses, or cooperates in any way if someone actually wants to take his pic. You have to be fast, lucky, and/or just keep snapping, and here he is enjoying the scenic overlook at Mohican State Park and Forest -- but not posing, June 13, 2013. 180804641 Ben State Parking Ben and Karen at the Mohican State Park and Forest, about 90 miles south of Cleveland, June 13, 2013. 180785847 Happy Holiday Strolling Ben at Ohio's Geneva State Park on Lake Erie, a dozen or so miles west of the Pennsylvania state line, Saturday, July 6, 2013. 181818058 Matching Greenery Ben strolls along the bluff overlooking Lake Erie in Geneva-On-The-Lake's Township Park, Sunday, July 21, 2013. 182454400 Up the Edgewater Pier Ben strolls up the ramp heading for the end of the dock, Saturday, July 20, 2013. 182454401 Green Bumble Bee Ben buzzing around the big gazebo overlooking Lake Erie in Geneva-On-The-Lake's Township Park, Sunday, July 21, 2013. 182455482 Reading the Signs Ben at the Lake Metroparks Farmpark, August 17, 2013. 183559678 North Chagrin Nature Center Ben strolls around the marsh as summer winds down, September 2, 2013. 184143060 Last Hurrah Ben chooses a treat during his last Gluten-filled weekend, after receiving a diagnosis of (likely) Celiac Disease, October 12, 2013. 185721846 Waiting Ben in the waiting room at Cleveland Clinic, October 14,2013. 186569307 On the Roof Ben on top of the parking garage at Cleveland Clinic. October 14, 2013. 186569308 Overlooking Fall Coloring Ben at Mohican State Park in Ohio, November 10, 2013. 186569309 Damn! Ben and Karen at Pleasant Hill Damn in Ohio, November 10, 2013. 186569310 The Last Drop Ben always strives to leave the juice-box bone-dry, January 12, 2014. 188445079 Winter Water Ben enjoys Presque Isle (in Erie, PA) whether hot or cold, December 8, 2013. 187435522 Going...Going.....Gone In the back seat October 13, 2013 at 11:50am, 11:57am, and Noon. 186585323 Boogie Down the Beach Ben ignores the temperature and hoofs across the sand on Presque Isle in Erie, Pennsylvania, December 8, 2013. 187435523 Happy Face Another snowy day, another beach for Ben (and Karen and Jake by water's edge), at Presque Isle by Erie, Pennsylvania, where Ben's expression can light up even the grayest of days, December 27, 2013. 187981589 Gluten Free Mickey D's Ben has yet complain about burgers without buns, but the poor guy does make frequent requests for Luna Bakery and Starbucks and Stone Oven Bakery, favorites that are no longer options for his Celiac-conditioned guts, February 2, 2014. 189183251 Billy Goat Ben Ben's sporting a little goatee these days and I'm thinking I should bring him a pair of bongos, February 3, 2014. 189183250 Trifecta As Karen went into the drug store to get some stuff, I told Ben as he perused the candy rack that he could buy one treat. However, he cracked me up enough that I let him fully indulge his craving for (kind of) three things: A regular Reeses Peanut Butter Cup 2-pack, a Reeses Peanut Butter BIG Cup, and a bag of Reeses Peanut Butter Mini-Cups, February 23, 2014. 189815884 But Still The Windows Will be Opened Ben gets into the car after it sped through six hours of light/medium rain/snow/mix conditions, and as soon as Ben got in, he asked to "drive fast" and opened his window, his preferences no matter the weather, March 8, 2014. 190205301 Sorting and Munching Ben's Aunt and cousin sent an Easter basket for Ben, which he devoured one color at a time, April 19, 2014. 191689430 Springing Spring in the air brings a spring to his step as Ben takes a walk Easter weekend, April 19, 2014. 191689443 Another Walk Walking is a favorite activity of the Benny boy, May 3, 2014. 192045978 First Thing's First As the doc began pressing on his stomach to begin the gastro exam, Ben immediately reached over and removed his stethoscope and handed it to him to listen to his heart first because, hey, that's what doctors are supposed to do. After listening, the doc was allowed to carry on with the tummy-presses, May 23, 2014. 192754149 Halfway Door to door, it's 382 miles to Monarch, and when we cross Pigeon Creek (in Indiana a few miles east of the Ohio state line along Interstate 80/90), we are halfway there, 191 miles down and 191 to go. 192814878 Drive Fast Ben's mantra (or one of them) is "Drive Fast," and the temporary dirt decals suggest he got his wish, July 29, 2014. 194415147 Birthday Haul Happy 21st Birthday to our Big Benny Boy, now our Big Benny Man even if you do still prefer Barney the Dinosaur to Barney Fife! We will love you until the end of time. July 29 (the day before his actual birthday), 2014. 194415332 Cloudy Geneva Ben at Geneva-By-The-Lake in northeastern Ohio, September 13, 2014. 195303751 Old Lighthouse and Young Ben Ben strolls by one of several old lighthouses on Presque Isle across the bay from Erie, PA, September 13, 2014. 195303752 Squeeeeeeeeeze Ben, as is the case with many people with autism, loves deep pressure, or squeezes as he calls it. He loves laying down and having me (6'5", and, ahem, not skinny) lie completely on top of him, my dead weight creating what for most people would be a claustrophobic nightmare. He also frequently requests squeezes by saying, "On my back please," which means standing up and giving him a bear hug from behind, as tightly as can be and, if possible, lifting him off the ground. While I can (just barely) manage this, most of his other squeezers are young women who are a foot shorter and half his weight. But his people at Monarch know how to give him what he wants and needs, and here he is under the covers in his bed with the wonderful Violet working on him, September 14, 2014. 195341142 Art Lover One of the places Ben seems to like walking through is the Cleveland Museum of Art, a wonderful place, October 4, 2014. 195737584 Knight and Ben At the Cleveland Museum of Art, October 4, 2014. 195737585 Never Too Old I think Ben will hold our hands forever. The stairs of the Cleveland Museum of Art, October 4, 2014. 195737582 Paradise The bathrooms at Heinen's in Cleveland are on the second floor, and exiting them, Ben looked down on a heavenly sight -- food, food, food. October 25, 2014 196072545 Ben and Ice Ben and ice encrusted trees on Lake Erie at Presque Isle, November 23, 2014. 196537631 Waiting at Wendy's Ben and Karen at the Wendy's counter at dinner time (Ben's request) waiting for the food, which would have been impossible for Ben to tolerate 5 years ago, pre-Monarch, November 23, 2014. Not to say he's perfected it -- we had a less-good time at Denny's for lunch. Always work in progress. 196537632 Ben on the Bench Ben gazes upon an early winter Lake Erie at Geneva by the Lake in the northeast corner of Ohio, November 26, 2014. 196566214 Wierdly Warm Cleveland Christmas Eve in the 50s means walks in the woods, December 24, 2014. 196886596 It's A Sign Ben is always happy to read signs, or just about anything, as whole words and/or spelling them out letter by letter. This one has 61 of them: c-l-e-v-e-l-a-n-d-m-e-t-r-o-p-a-r-k-s-s-q-u-a-w-r-o-c-k-p-i-c-n-i-c-a-r-e-a-s-o-u-t-h-c-h-a-g-r-i-n-r-e-s-e-r-v-a-t-i-o-n, or Cleveland Metroparks Squaw Rock Picnic Area South Chagrin Reservation, if you prefer. Ben likes both. December 23, 2014. 196905080 Door Number One Ben's door, December 26, 2014. 196905081 Decisions Decisions What you can't see in the pic is the Doodlebops DVD playing on the TV in front of Ben, but the Sesame Street video playing simultaneously on the iPad ended, so it's time to choose the next video, because, hey, who wants to watch (and hear) only one video at a time, January 24, 2015. 197234690 Nice Day for A Drive Taking my one break from driving since Chicago on Thursday (not complaining a bit, I prefer driving to passengering) while Karen took us over hill, dale and freeway, and me sitting beside, and having fun with Ben -- he always loves words. And he always loves to drive, no matter the weather, spring, summer, fall, and W-I-N-T-E-R. Sunday, January 25, 2015. 197251371 Goodnight Encore We left Ben in his bedroom for the night, laying in his bed watching a video, and as we were walking to the car, I went to his window and snapped a pic, and to my surprise, and his giggling delight, he somehow sensed me out there in the dark and popped up to take a look, January 24, 2015. 197251423 Wall Ben contemplates the architecture at the Cleveland Museum of Art, October 4, 2014. 197413881 Howdy Stranger Ben and some fellow art lovers consider each other at the Cleveland Museum of Art, October 4, 2014. 195737583 Monarch Icicles 1 Ben's window from his front door, and Cleveland's winter has been no better than Chicago's winter, February 21, 2015. 197561657 Monarch Icicles 2 The same icicles as seen from Ben's window, February 22, 2015. 197561889 Half Price Books and Boot A busted foot doesn't keep Ben from browsing in his favorite (non-food) store, February 22, 2015. 197562030 Cast and Bed Ben tucked in for an afternoon nap in his room at Monarch, with all the comforts of home, April, 2015. 198009134 Bunny Benny Bunny is a favorite character from an old video, and this is Ben's Easter tribute (I like to think, anyway) that I noticed today, hanging on the wall of his room, April, 2015. 198009135 Down for the Count Ben post-surgery, March 31, 2015. 198009236 Accoutrements The window sill of Ben's hospital room, April 1, 2015. 198009237 Beds Hospital beds at Cleveland Clinic, March 31, 2015. 198009238 Karen Waiting Karen in the Cleveland Clinic waiting room while Ben gets his foot fixed, March 31, 2015. 198009239 Quack Karen pushes Ben toward the ducks in a Cleveland Metropark, April 11, 2015. 198134052 Aware Much? Karen pushes Ben-of-the-Mega-Cast past an Autism Awareness poster in the Eton shopping mall, and I'm just hoping he doesn't feel too guilty for not wearing blue. And actually, I take it back -- of course, his cast is blue, and how appropriate is that?!? April 19, 2015. 198191190 Heading Up When Ben and I headed up Edgewater Pier yesterday, Karen stayed by the car instead and snapped this pic of him (her tolerance for pigeon droppings is no match for ours), June 21, 2015. 198888206 Belting Ben Ben loves to sing bits of songs he likes, as well as his own ditties (such as "A la la la Bubbe; A la la la Big Bird; Hef! Hef!"), often at the top of his lungs, and anywhere he feels like it when inspiration strikes, from a walk in the woods to a jammed McDonald's line of startled customers. Or, like here, sitting on his bed, June 21, 2015. 198887159 Water Walk Another (this one snapped from my angle) from June 21, 2015 of big Benny as he walked up Edgewater Pier. It might've been our farewell trip to the pier. As Ben's time at Monarch winds down before he has to return to Illinois (5 weeks to go), every time we do one of our regular activities, it might be the last time. 198888205 What Ben Is Leaving Behind Ben at the sink in his kitchen with Karen (back) and three of his staff as we wrap up our final visit. Cornisha, Ben's adoring (and adored) Monarch mom, is on the left, July 12, 2015. 199090808 Birthday Burger Ben and Karen dine al fresco at 5 Guys for Ben's by-request birthday lunch, July 30, 2015. 199268083 Birthday Benny Karen enjoys the 22-year-old Ben blowing out the candles, July 30, 2015. 199269158 Birthday Bevy Ben and his Monarch family enjoy his birthday bash, July 30, 2015. 199269157 Portland - New York Ben communes with Lake Erie birds on a Benny day ride to western NY, November 14, 2015. 200266769 Reststop Sunset Along 80/90 en route to Cleveland. 199264208 Ben and Duplos A thousand "thanks" to Sarah in Ben's cottage for this one, of Ben surveying his Dupols, August, 2015. Has there ever been a cuter smile? 199440693 Cleveland Skyline 1 Ben hoofs it up a path alongside bluffs with the Cleveland skyline as a backdrop, November 15, 2015. 200285197 Ben Royko In Red Thank You to Ben's house for this photo as he is about to head out for his day. I was pleasantly surprised to see that hat -- I didn't realize we (or really, Ben) still had one. It comes from a guy named Norman Skul, who sadly died unexpectedly soon after we met him about 7 years ago on the set on Goose Island where he was directing a short film based on a column of Dad's. 200368338 Bearded Benny Baking Michelle helps Ben bake cookies as he demonstrates a degree of delayed gratification we never could have imagined! Thanks to Ben's house for the pic. And notice, as with every picture ever taken of Ben, one hand is holding a book (and probably not a cookbook). Ben owns many books, and he is constantly swapping them out and he always seems to have a specific book in mind when he seeks a replacement. He's a man of letters. (And cookies.) It's his version of a security blanket. Ben used to carry multiple objects, sometimes trying to haul a stack of toys and books more than half his height. His first residential placement in Oconomowoc weaned him to his one-book-at-a-time regimen, which he might continue for the rest of his life. One thing I've written about before is what Ben calls "Juggling." In a favorite video, a gorilla is carrying a stack of book when he slips and falls, tossing them into the air. Another character says, "Juggling!" We can be walking through a parking lot when I'll hear something flutter down from above -- a book Ben has flung. It's why his bedroom's ceiling lamp is busted. Same thing in a store or anywhere else, really, where the gentle flutter comes only after a loud "Bang!" on the ceiling and the happy cry of "Juggling!" December, 2015. 200473151 Winter Heat Ben in short sleeves today at Geneva by the Lake (Erie), in mid-December. Of course, Ben chooses to go short-sleeved on sub-zero December days, too. Today the temp reached the 60s. He probably thinks it's too hot. December 12 200502539 Chillin' After a busy day, Ben relaxes under the covers with a book, and videos on his iPad and TV, the ultimate multitasker, or at least multiwatcher, December 12, 2015. 200506831 Family Gallery Ben's bedroom wall as decorated by his house's staff, December 13, 2015. 200541618 Merry Christmas and Happy Cookies, 2015 Talk about incentive: The whiteboard (inserted into the pic, upper right) lays out the terms in Ben's house, at least for Ben: --- 1: Hang Two Ornaments on Christmas Tree, then: 2: Get a Cookie. --- No surprise to see the tree's looking good. December 13, 2015. 200541619 Christmas with Jake and Ben A Christmas day walk at Erie's Presque Isle State Park with Jake and Ben. 200591783 Impatience Ben watching and waiting at 5 Guys, December 26, 2015. 200600656 Say Cheese! Some pics might give the impression that Ben is happy to strike a pose. Hah! If you ever ask Ben to smile (which I don't usually do while taking pictures anyway), he immediately responds with "Say cheese!" But he doesn't necessarily smile. Ben doesn't pose, so getting a decent photo is always a challenge that can sometimes be met by many clicks. For example, for this pic (next in the gallery), he was at least willing to sit in one place for 25 seconds. His twin brother Jake sitting next to him was likely his motivation to stay put a few seconds longer than he usually would. These are some of those clicks. December 27, 2015. Another example: 200612168 Jake and Ben December 27, 2015. 200612167 Musical Inspiration via Recycling Ben's "chore" as we're packing up and getting ready to take him back to his house at visit's end, is to take the recycling to the chute. Not that he needs inspiration to sing, but this seemed to spur him to a particularly impressive fortissimo. His original composition this time was a single tenor note that goes something like this: "Ooo-weeee-ooo-weeeeeeeee-oooo-weee-weeee-weeeeeeeeeee-T!" The "t" sound at the end is always emphasized. A typical performance lasts approximately 8 to 10 seconds. Even when inspired, Ben's pithy. February 8, 2016. 200980907 In The Zone Ben completely focused on the music in his favorite "listening room," the back seat of our car. At that moment, by request, it was Nickel Creek, February 7, 2016. 200981203 Ben Burger Bar Ben's of legal age to drink at a bar, though all he is interested in is his cheeseburger and fries. We called the B-Spot, our usual after-visit joint, ahead a half hour to order the burger and fries "to go," I dropped Karen off at the front door, Ben and I parked the car, and by the time we got in, Karen had the burger and fries waiting for him at the bar. His Grandpa Mike was with him in spirit! Typically, Ben is not happy to go to a place for the first time. After that, things usually go better the next time and the time after that. But this time, we must have told him 10 times he was going to get a burger and fries at the B Spot, and we did our usual preemptive stuff with Karen going in ahead and everything being ready when Ben walks in. And it did go beautifully! We never take it for granted. April 8, 2016. 201486870 What He Does Ben's favorite activity not involving food is walking, like here along a beautiful path in Edgewater Park, May 7, 2016. 201737776 Perfect Match The place is called A Cookie and a Cupcake and considering that they also have ice cream, it is a Ben Trifecta, April 23, 2016. 201613127 Selfie and Bennie Walking along the pier at Geneva-On-The-Lake and getting splashed by the early spring waves, April 23, 2016. 201613128 Strolling Ben walking back from the pier at Geneva-On-The-Lake, wave-dampened and happy, April 23, 2016. 201613129 RRRIP!!! Ben loves those little board books with the windows you open as you go along. What he loves best is tearing the little windows off. What he doesn't like is waiting until we have actually paid for it. May 7, 2016. 201737779 Celebrity Ben Maybe Ben is tired of Papa Paparazzi always snapping his picture, May 7, 2016. 201738932 Predictability Ben likes to see (via the always-present pad) what's to come, and this is a pretty typical afternoon schedule, May 2016. 201737851 Hoofin' It Ben and I enjoyed dodging raindrops on the Edgewater Park trail with Cleveland on the Lake Erie shore behind him, May 7, 2016. 201737777 Father and Son on Mother's Day Ben and me at Presque Isle in Erie, Pennsylvania, May 7, 2016, pic courtesy of Karen. 201737782 Cousins Ben likes to walk behind people, watching their shoes (or heels), and that includes his cousin Seth's shoes, May 28, 2016. 201916681 Juxtaposed Ben's dinner: Vegan cheese pizza. With pepperoni. May 29, 2016. 201916683 Eager Ben patiently waiting for Karen to bring the food, patience being a virtue that has been very hard-won. May 28, 2016. 201916680 April Blizzard Walked out of the apartment building at 6:00am into an April blizzard in Cleveland. Going from the front door to Starbucks across the street meant trudging through 6 inches of snow and wind, and it's not going to get out of the twenties today. Cool! Literally. April 9, 2016. 201486951 Staying Indoors No sitting outside at Starbucks in Cleveland on April 9, 2016. 201486953 Pre-Gala Ben Ben hoofs around the Cleveland Museum of Art on the afternoon before a big fundraiser, October 22, 2016. 203160934 Ben and Red Ben walking through Penitentiary Glen (named in the olden days because the deep ravines are easy to get into but hard to get out of), grooving on the fall colors (or at least enjoying himself), October 23, 2016. 203164868 203942863