Reflections of and on a probably Asperger's parent parenting an Asperger's kid (or 2)!

dragon pups

dragon pups

Thursday, September 20, 2012

On Names

The "hot topic" today is names - as in should people who are blogging about the Autistic family members use the names of those Autistic family members? - I guess it is also classified as "Confidentiality"

My immediate response is "well, yes, duh!" - but let me delve into that one further.  WARNING: My head is going to wander around the topic of names, naming and secrets.  My point is that you have to own what you are before you can explain it to others and ask for understanding.  Self-advocacy requires using labels (names) that others can identify with in order to connect with the people around you who are going to support (or at least tolerate) your idiosyncrasies (weirdness).  OK, here comes my *academic* treatise on "names"...

I am named after a legendary German mermaid of the Rhine River who lured men to their deaths by crashing their boats in the rocks.  In some name books my name translates as "man-catcher".  I was told by my mother at the age of 14 that my father found this name in a National Geographic.  Apparently his first choice had been "Bambi", and when he read my name in the magazine and suggested that it had a good ring, she IMMEDIATELY agreed.  My father has long defended his choice of "Bambi" as being feminine and delicate [?!].  I was already a C cup by the age of 14, a tall leggy blonde from Southern California.  Yes well.... I seemed to have narrowly missed being forced into the oldest profession by my name!  I often tell this story and joke OPENLY about it - because it does NOT define me.

My name is nearly impossible to pronounce correctly when you read it first.  My father, in his infinite creativity, spelled my name incorrectly on my birth certificate, so I truly have A Name Like No Other. In Jr. High, my 8th period teacher read our names for roll the first day, and mispronounced my name for the 8th time that day.  My classmates, who had heard the correction made 7 times already that day, corrected him.  He found it HILARIOUS that the whole classroom corrected him, and so intentionally said my name incorrectly EVERYDAY thereafter.  In True math teacher fashion, he thought it was funny every time, all 180 days of the school year.  I have NEVER corrected a person who mispronounces my name again.  As a matter of fact, the priest who married me called me the wrong name for years, and was corrected only hours before the ceremony by my bridesmaids.  It was a very loving act on their part.

My married surname is VERY long, and spelled exactly like it sounds - in German - except that it is NOT German, it is Pennsylvania Dutch, and there is no record of the name in Europe - though there are American records dating to the 1600's.  The family genealogy on my side of the family shows that same "Amercanization" of names several times [Krieder to Crider to Grider - etc.]  After getting married, I often introduced myself as the "Nameless Frau".

I have been told that my name sounds like a "tropical flower" - the Latin root for some mysterious species.  It has been misspelled by countless teachers and friends for years, and mispronounced by telemarketers and phone professionals eternally.  

I often find my name pretty much useless.  

In fact, most people simply address me without naming me, only using a title like Mrs., or Teacher, (Miss Teacher is always cute), or Ma'am.  Even my family often just uses affectionate titles like Honey, Sweetheart, or Sugar.

I did not earn many monikers as a kid (with the exception of the variations of my name - the teachers who just could not conquer it) - can't think of a one.  Even when I chose my own aliases, they just didn't stick. I did have a Camp Name (Girl Scouts, high school) was used for about 1 month.  I have an Alias in the Single Actions Shooting Society - it took 3 years to finalize it, and most people still just call me by my "real" name.  I earned a new Camp Name about 3 years ago (Big Mama) - and that one gets used a lot.  

But WHO I am is NOT what you call me.

I respond, now, to several names (Mrs. D, Big Mama, Mom...) and what you call me indicates what you need from me, what role I play for you, but it does NOT define me.  Who I am, what I expect from my self, the purest, Truest elements of me, do not change - no matter what role I am filling.  Your name for me reminds me of the job I am doing at the moment, of the tasks I need to complete to help/ serve you, but they don't make me.

I read "Look Me In The Eyes" by John Elder Robinson, and one of the interesting things he mentions from the outset is that people do not have names to him.  The "given" name by which the rest of the universe calls them is irrelevant.  The label, the handle, the title, the name that he assigns them is all that he can remember without undue effort.  One Autistic boy who comes to the pool with us has names for all the staff.  Each lifeguard has a name from him, that the boy uses consistently for each of them (Biggs, April, Exterminator, ...) that are not our "names" - but they are to him.  He goes out of his way to find each of the staff and address them specifically by his name each time he comes.

Ultimately a name is just an Adjective, a descriptor for a particular context.

So let's talk about confidentiality...
I am clearly a "live out loud" person.  I am pretty much incapable of having a secret and keeping it secret.  It's been that way since I can remember.  There are a few times I learned hard lessons about what other people think is secret and shouldn't be shared - I am starting to pick up on that one! ;)  An excellent example of my transparency is the story of the time I got a little tipsy at dinner with my staff.  One of them drove me home after dinner, and when asked by co-workers what I did, he said, "She just told more stories, faster."  When I apologized to him he said, "No, don't apologize! It just means you are are really you, you wear your heart on your sleeve."  I seek to be Genuine, and as a general rule, I find that the more you explain yourself, the better off you are - you create opportunities for others to see a sense of identify with you, which leads to connection, which leads to being helped and or protected by that person - creates friends, not enemies.  In true Aspie fashion I find that I over front load sometimes and scare (overwhelm) people, but usually they get over it.

Don't think that with his transparency I have never been hurt, or insulted, or judged by others.  Don't make the mistake of assuming that I am brave enough to "be me" because I am naive, or sheltered, or arrogant.  It has been a conscious decision, made when I was in Jr. High, that I would be as honest with and to myself as I could be so that I could be honest with others.  I spent years wishing I was different, doubting myself because of others, denying my gifts and abilities to fit stereo types imposed upon me by myself or others.  I still do sometimes. 

Confidentiality is a tricky, messy word.  In my experience "confidentiality" is really used to say "secrets" - specifically "that make you feel bad about yourself.Confidentiality is about "hiding" something.  Who exactly am I supposed to be hiding things from?  Every job application requires I could swear in a court of law about my ethnicity, my driving record, my employment history, my credit history... they could track down any info they want!  Who am I hiding info from?  Definition comes from use & context, so let's look at some places the word is used:

Like medical confidentiality.  Comes up in first responder work often... the victim or patient may reveal something relevant to you in a medical emergency that they do not want broadcast  - though, of course, the more you know about the victim the better chance you have of helping them so that they heal.  Examples are pregnancy, use of medications, or previous injuries.  I don't get it - leaving out information like that could get a person killed!

Maybe you refer to the injury that comes from abuse, with the emotional guilt.  You mean the kind where someone beats you and then tells you not to tell your parents?  The school I was at during the primary grades would beat our hands with a wire bristle brush, until they went numb... and we were told not to tell.  Or when the teacher berated you in front of classmates because you didn't show enough respect - and told you that your parents could be killed any day?  But this conversation is private... It took five years before I finally let it slip to my mom what was happening.  Being open about it solved the problem.  

Am I supposed to be secretive and "confidential" about my past?  Am I supposed to hide those events that have shaped me into who I AM?  So I should deny that I have made grave mistakes?  Or that I regret some things I have done?  I am not saying that I killed a man... but I am willing to bet that some choices/ actions I have made have cost people jobs, and money, and peace of mind...

How about schools?  Teachers have a "responsibility" to be confidential about every student.  Really?  So if the teacher observes behaviors they are NOT supposed to be open and talk about it?  Behaviors that might give insight to how an child learns or why a child behaves in a certain pattern, learn about a personal history that gives context to the student's fears and strengths...  teachers should hide and smother that information?  But then, if the teacher learns something that could even remotely imply dangerous activity (abuse, drug use, neglect) the teacher is legally bound to report it.  We have turned our teachers into the "front line" of social policing - and the result is that teachers actively AVOID learning personal context for their students so that they are not involved in false accusations, AVOID watching too closely for fear that they may discover something they don't want to find.  The current culture in "professional educators" does NOT lend support to caring, loving people who observe students closely and offer insight into how a child works.  Clearly, "confidentiality" is *helping* our children!

They talk "confidentiality" at IEP meetings all the time.  "Well, we can't tell you what accommodations have worked for other students, that would violate their confidentiality."  "We don't want to single your student out in front of the others - we don't want to tell the other students he has Asperger's - that would violate his confidentiality."  "You can't come observe in the school.  You would see students besides your own and violate their confidentiality."  Who in the hell are they hiding from?

They are hiding from ME!  "Confidentiality" is a tool, to be sure they can keep parents unknowledgeable about other students, so parents can't compare notes, or discuss options, or know what is really possible.  It is so they can negotiate from a place of power in the IEP process, bully parents into accepting less than the student needs, or keep services within the abilities of their current staff.  

"Confidentiality" does NOT protect my student! It protects the school system!

And quite frankly, hiding only creates problems, not solves them!  We teach kids not to hide from firemen - we want to be able to save them in an emergency.  We teach kids not to run from the police - running assumes guilt.  We don't want people to hide their abilities - we expect them to share them with society.  We don't want people to hide their identities - it makes us suspicious.

So what exactly is it about my son that I am supposed to deny when I am blogging/ facebooking, asking questions, seeking a sense of identification and comparison for him?  What am I supposed to be hiding if I am seeking information?  It is his essence, his inherent qualities, that I am trying to explore, celebrate, and compare.  If I am describing him, I would use Autisitic, Aspie, Blonde, Thin, Tall, Energetic, Boy... the PURPOSE of a name is to sum up all these adjectives into the one singular, unique collection that is that person!  Should I tell you that he is a she with red hair, mismatched leg lengths and no teeth?  NO?  You don't think that matches what you've heard before? 

And does it matter what name I give you for him?  The name I give him is a reflection of how I see him, NOT how he sees himself.  Regardless of what we call him, he will need to define Himself, he will have to decide what he wants people to think of when they hear his name, he will have to choose which adjectives and titles we settle upon him are the ones he owns and the ones he throws away.  He will have to make a name for himself, no matter what I do, or you do, or anybody does.  We ALL do.  Teaching, modelling, that transparency and genuineness will help him self advocate.  It is the best way for me to prepare him for his world.  

JT has ONE responsibility: to make other people comfortable enough with him that they can support him.  We all have that responsibility: to control our selves, to put forth a "person" that the rest of the world can live with.  Putting forth a false person only leads to receiving the wrong support, the wrong "fit".  It is NOT sustainable.  Honest and thorough reflection leads to an accurate, correct "fit", to successful relationships that fulfill people and societies.

Unless, of course, I am a spy.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Community in the past?

So, I am a Challenge Course Facilitator - that means that I have the job of that guy in the dreaded "team building" activity to mediate the trust fall and then blow sunshine up your butt about it no matter what.

Actually, I am NOT that kind of facilitator.  I make it a point to never ram sunshine anywhere, though I have learned to be more tactful and less critical in my expression of my observations... ;)  I seek to connect information, and I have yet to pretend a group is nicer to each other than they actually are...

So there are many aspects to this that I need to to continue to explore, to grow, and that are VERY VERY relevant to how I raise my Aspie, including my insights about teaching by "front loading" and then "processing" experiences to milk them with reflection.  It is how we deal with Autism EVERY DAY...

But I am thinking tonight about a specific event that occurred this summer.  We have an element (that is like a "station", a specific activity/ obstacle that we have on our "low ropes" course - and no, there are not any real ropes at most of them) called the Trust Fall.  It is a platform about 4 feet off the ground, upon which a person stands, their feet on the edge, facing the center of the platform, and then they fall as a plank into a group of people (peers).... so it is exactly what the name implies.  A person participating in this activity must fall in a trusting way, with complete trust (if you don't trust and you sit, you will hurt the holy snot out of yourself and the people trying to "catch" you).

I have recently done this activity with a group of high school students.  They did well, with each other, with me, supporting each other physically and emotionally so that everyone had the chance to physically feel their team supporting them in a moment of ultimate vulnerability.  While it was awesome, that is NOT the interesting thing that occurred...

There was a teacher with the group, a man who had enough years on him to be well-versed, a man with previous military experience, probably old enough to be a grandfather... and what he said to his students was AMAZING  to me!:

"This was a difficult task for you all, but 15 years ago it would not have been.  15 years ago, before the schools were so competitive, youngsters like you would have had complete faith that other people would be there to catch them."

The man had told me that his wife was a classroom teacher as well.  And the students had talked about how they could totally have done this activity into the pool, where they knew the water would catch them, but that they could not do it with peers underneath them, they just weren't "sure" they'd be safe...

There are some of you reading this thinking that the kids on the platform are RIGHT - how WOULD you KNOW someone is there to catch you?  but I think I see the teacher bringing up an interesting point.  Those students would rather put all their trust into an inanimate object than a thinking, sentient human being.  It's like trusting the ATM more than the teller at the bank, or seeking the do-it-your-self check out line at the grocery.  There comes a place where we isolate ourselves in an effort to ensure rote behavior rather than go through the painful process of unpredictable human interaction.  

Boy! Does THAT sound like Asperger's?!  

And it is not just something that comes up with public interactions, but within our most intimate relationships - seeking the "traditional" /"romantic" interactions rather than truthfully considering exactly who and what our partners and family members need or prefer.  "We will just get your sister something pink for her birthday" or "Let's go to dinner and a movie" or "Daddy wants us all to spend time with him for Father's day, but Mm wants us to give her space".  Stereotypes - that are NOT absolute Truths...

I mentioned this teacher's insight to my mentor, and her response was, " I wonder what else was different 15 years ago..."  Well, even in the movie E.T. the kids could get on their bikes and ride away from home without anyone assuming they were runaways or hoodlums.  When I was little, my mom would ask my brother to "run around the block" 5 times before coming inside to help control his energy - as in he was trusted to go out of her immediate sight and no one thought she was delinquent.  I have twice been "reminded" of the "safe child policy" at our local library (which is only a 30 by 30 foot space) because each of my 2 children wished to go to different sections and I couldn't be in their immediate line of sight at the same time.  15 years ago the Girl Scout program was based on 5 Worlds and exploring them, now it is down to 3 themes, with less than 1/3 the available badges - you know - kids just can't "handle it" these days.  If my dog accidentally gets off leash and takes a "walk about" (from which he will of course be home in less than 2 hours) We get nasty calls from the neighbors instead of them encouraging him to "go home".  What would they do with Lassie?!  My Sensory Kiddo/ Autistic son has real issues wearing clothes, but if he is in HIS OWN YARD naked (aged 3) my husband is worried that the neighbors will call Social Services on us [if you have EVER been through potty training with a kid like that, you understand why he just needed to be naked to get it!]  When I slap my child's hand, I am formally reprimanded by the school principal.  When we were trying to figure out how to deal with transitions and make a universally "safe" place for my autistic son - he took ownership over the car - it was his, and he could stay in that protected place.   To get him out of the car to go in the store used to involve long and arduous amounts of prying and cajoling and threatening, often pulling him out the car only to have to plaster his body between me and the car to be sure he didn't run away - and all that is caught on the store's security camera and we lived in literal fear that we would be turned in for abuse - but to let him stay in the car is to be turned in for neglect.  How the hell was I supposed to get groceries?  The only solution was to go in the middle of the night, slinking around like a social derelict (or drunk college student) while the other parent (hopefully) had him sleeping at home.  Would I feel like my neighbors were "out to get me" for bad parenting 15 years ago?  Or would they have offered to help shoulder the load (instead of just criticize)?  I have asked every high school aged kid on our street to babysit in the last 5 years - and for every one of them the parents have discouraged me, saying they would not trust their own kids to babysit.

We, of the parents-of-spectrum-kids community OFTEN say that we find those who identify with us in far away places - SELDOM in our geographically local communities.  Would it have been like that 15 years ago?

Did the schools respect an informed involved parent 15 years ago?  Did the teachers listen to what worked at home and explain what happened at school?  Were parents welcome as volunteers to observe and participate in their child's education?  Did we villainize people who needed assistance? or did we actually just help them out?

have we REALLY lost that much Community in 15 years?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Art of Intuition

ok - so this is the title of a book - and I TOTALLY think EVERYONE should read it!

So I have been feeling for the past week that I really NEEDED to read a book - to the point that I asked my boss for assigned reading.  I just knew I needed A book, didn't know which one...

So I meandered over to Books-A-Million this weekend - thinking I'd look for yet another book about Asperger's... and somehow ended up in the "Self Growth" section of the store - which I had never visited before.  I picked up this pretty little book with a blue butterfly on the cover.
"The Art of Intuition"... I think that cover looks familiar, I think I read this one before. I put it back, I kept looking.  I picked the book up again to look, and again felt like I had already seen it, so put it back.  I kept looking... and when I looked in my hands, I had "The Art of Intuition" in it AGAIN.... so I figured I must need it.

Got home, started reading it. I have NOT read it before, but it was so compelling that I finished it that night.  It opened some windows of thought and I'd like to see if anyone else has looked at these...

First of all it reiterated several "world view" kind of ideas I had come to completely on my own, about one-ness with God and the presence of Spirit.  Odd that I came up with it by myself when someone else did too...

Talked about Nuero Therapy - that one therapy where they hook you up to an EEG and tell you when you have particular brain waves so you can "feel" to and recreate it purposefully - it sounds almost like meditation with an EEG so you can actually "see" what your brain is doing... Interesting thoughts here, to me:

The book says that the beta waves (associated with analytic thought) occur in the frontal lobe of the brain - interestingly studies of Executive Functioning Disorder indicate that the same area of the brain does NOT light up in many people with ADHD and ASD...  Those waves that are associated with sleep (theta and delta waves) are seen on an EEG when someone is meditating, and have been recorded while people have been claiming to have an "intuitive episode" in progress.  They tend to light up in the rear portion of the brain - a pattern ALSO seen in ADHD and ASD patients...

One survey indicated a statistical correlation between those who report allergies and sensory sensitivities and intuitive abilities...  Funny how many reports I have read attributing ASD behavior to allergic symptoms (from PANDAS to the new "inflamed amniotic fluid" idea to GFCF diets, to processed foods, etc.)  And Lord knows there is a MAJOR sensory component to ASD behavior...

As I laid reading the book in front of an open window, I shivered and thought maybe I should go get a blanket.   I dismissed the thought, I was too engrossed.  About 1 minute later my ASD son was draping a blanket over me brought up from the basement... and then he left - unusual of him to not seek "propioceptive" cuddling...

Psychic for Special Needs families once asked on her Facebook page if maybe the "autism" is the outward symptom for intuition, or if intuition is a side affect of autism...  

I am thinking the link is PRETTY EVIDENT, even if we can't put our fingers directly on it!  It's like being able to calculate the presence of a black hole because you can see the affect its gravity has on neighboring planets even if you don't actually pick up the black hole visually...

Friday, September 7, 2012

Lost tooth #3

We lost a tooth his week!

And, as usual, it was not just an event, but a Happening!

The tooth has been lose for nearly a week, he has been telling me daily about it, showing me the great wiggliness periodically through out each day.  And every day he has asked me for a pair of tweezers...
"What do you need tweezers for, hon?"
"To grab my tooth. It needs to come out."
"Hmmm, I am not sure that is the best way to get it out."
(voice escalating, body tightening, meltdown starting) "But it HAS to come out!!!!"

So I would get a pair of tweezers and "try" to get a hold of it, but it didn't come out.

"Sweetheart, it will come out when it is ready.  If it still hurts when I pull it is not ready to come out yet. Just wait."

And he would (as long as I had tried to pull it).

The sensory piece of dealing with the lose tooth is clearly overwhelming, and this is our third!  He has not eaten as much this week, he has been chewing more this week - constantly with a ball of a drinking straw (our redirection of choice) moving around his mouth.  All the shirts this week have had a faint blood stain on the collar from chewing & pulling.  Clearly if he is asking daily, it is bothering him.  And, ultimately he did pretty well.  He really DID practice some patience (in context for him).

And sure enough, when I needed to take him to a friend for the day (while I worked), she suggested that he eat an apple (which is a damn good idea, I might add, and I feel rather like a dufus for not suggesting it myself), and within half an hour I get a text that the tooth was out.  He was, of course, prepared for this event since we had sent a snack sized ziploc bag in his pocket to bring it home in if it came out.  He put the bag in his back pack to come home, just like he should.  With all that angst, all went perfectly.

And you think the story ends there... (picture my smirk)

But, no, alas, in true Big Dragon Mama style, the story gets complicated from there...

I went to pick them up, and I riffled through the backpack, checking for all our belongings, while talking of course, so I halfway went through the list, we had our workbooks, and our chewing straws, and the toys we brought, so we left. 

We went to Kmart, because I still wanted to see about acquisitioning a prize from the tooth fairy.  Our tooth fairy refrains from money usually since the first tooth brought forward a strange truth.  When he lost his first tooth, I was apprehensive, because I had NOT front loaded thoroughly, I had NOT had (or taken) the time to talk about tooth fairy or no tooth fairy, or dentist or ANYTHING.  He just came home from school with a tooth in a bag.  Soooo, knowing there would be some Asperger's sensitivities here about procedure, I asked...
"I see you have lost your tooth.  What is supposed to happen to it?"
"Oh, you put it under your pillow.'
"Why would you do that?"
"That is where the Tooth Fairy finds it, Mom" (duh)
"Hmm, and then what? Does it stay there?"
"No, Mom!  She comes and gets it."
"And is that it?"
"No, Mom!  she leaves you money."
"Oh, how much money does she leave?"
"Fifteen dollars and fifteen cents."
MENTAL NOTE:  WTF!!!!!!!!! - I waited a few moments to catch my breath. How the HELL was I gonna get out of this?!  We all know that the level of detail is not to be argued with an Aspie - I would have to find $15.15 that night! Time for a NEW tactic...
"Umm, does she only leave money?"
"Oh no, sometimes she leaves prizes."
"Oh, that is nice." [THANK GOD]
So we went to Kmart to get a prize.  And I found a Lego moon rover on clearance, so I snuck it in (he was VERY distracted by the Star Wars sticker book).  I had told him he couldn't have Legos yet (til he learns to put away). So I hoped it would be cool and throw him off track. And we went home.

But when we got there and emptied the backpack, we did NOT find the tooth.  I called the sitter/ friend. Do you see it? No, I saw him put it in his pocket. I checked his pants, did it fall out in your couch?  No, I am checking the couch now, but I do not see it.  Has any of your family run across it today? No, we have not seen it.  Just leave him a note from the tooth fairy saying that if he finds it later mom will keep it as a souvenir.  Ok, we will do something.

I put the kids in the bath and went about tooth-fairy-ing.  I wrote a note with my left hand:
Dear Son,
I know you lost a tooth today, and that you cannot find it.  I will send my fairy helpers to go look for it, but here is a prize anyhow for all the hard work you did to lose that tooth. Good Job! Great Patience!
Love, The Tooth Fairy
I wrapped the note around the Legos and put it under the pillow - on his bed.

After the shower, he got in my bed.  I asked him what he was going to do about the tooth fairy.  He said he didn't know, so I suggested he write her a note.

AND HE DID!!!! Here's the AWESOME PART!!!: my fine-motor reluctant Aspie, who argues with me for half an hour to complete 7 words on a workbook page WROTE THE TOOTH FAIRY A NOTE!!!!!!  His sister gave him a Strawberry Shortcake pad and pen, and he commenced to wrote a note:
Dear T.F.
I lost my tooth.  Will you please look for it. Sincerely yours. F. M. T. Y.
He did write ON THE LINES and hyphenated when he ran out of room and had to go to the next line!! He did ask me to write "sincerely", and he told me FMTY means "from me, to you".  AND HE DREW A HEART AT THE END OF THE NOTE!!!!  


He put the note in my bed. But, honey, this is not your bed, how will the tooth fairy find the note? She will look and see that I am over here. But honey, what if she thinks it's my tooth? She won't. I think you should try to put the note under the pillow in your bed [where I have already hidden the blagnabbit gift! Go find it!]  3 times he started for that room, for that bed, but he stopped himself every time and argued with me further that the note needed to be in my bed.  I got up to go to the bathroom and heard him in his room, heard something drop.  I come out of the bathroom to find the Lego and note separated and just laying in the hall.  He was so intent on not letting his note be under the pillow on that bed that he did not acknowledge what was under there, he just wanted it out.
"Honey, what is this paper? I don't want to slip on it"
"I don't know." reading... "it is a note, from the Tooth Fairy!"
"Well, what does it say?"
"I don't know. I can't read it" [remember the left hand writing?]
I read it out loud. He looks at the floor dazed.
"Did it actually have a prize with it?"
"Oh, yes! It is right here on the floor."
He picks it up, I take his precious note, put it on my shelf and sit with him.
"Where is my note?"
"From the Tooth Fairy?"
"No!, the one I wrote"
"Oh, I saved it."
"NO!, it HAS to be under a pillow"
So it went under my pillow.  And he opened his Very First Lego and put it together according to the directions. GREAT - more finger skills!

We went to bed.  He woke up the next morning and his sister asked to see his prize. He proudly showed his Lego, and re-read her the note. And said, "Yes, Fairy Helpers..."

This would be an excellent end to the story, but there is one corollary:
The friend/ sitter told me yesterday that she found the tooth, because he had come into her dream and paced the place in her house where it was and kept saying, "my tooth".  When she woke up it was exactly where he had showed her in the dream.  She calls it "dream walking".  I asked him much later in the evening if he had visited her in his sleep and helped her find the tooth [which she gave to me, but I did not tell him], and he said, "no, it was Fairy Helpers"...