Thursday, June 20, 2013

One small step.....

  What were the first words uttered on the moon??? We all know them. I use them in reference to when my kiddo does something huge. Let's face it, as special needs parents, any breakthrough in our homes mirrors those first steps on the moon taken by Neil Armstrong.

 Yesterday I was reading a recent post by my friend over at Deciphering Morgan, (click the page name to check that out) and she was telling about some firsts for her boys so far this summer. I was so proud of them, and I have never "met" them. But as a parent, a special needs one nonetheless, I was able to channel her joy in her boys' firsts and be happy for them and for her.

  Then later in the evening, my son had a breakthrough. It floored me, and my heart soared!!! Yesterday he was very out of whack. A bit moody and nasty due to being over tired, but God forbid he take a rest when I ask him to. (He is my energizer bunny, and if I could bottle that energy and sell it, I would become rich!!!) So later in the evening when we had finally come inside, he and his friend Abs were laying on the floor drawing.

  As usual, he was trying to control the situation, and telling her what she had to draw. I intervened, told him that wasn't fair, and compared it to when he gets angry when his art lessons tell him what he has to create. True art is never forced, and besides, who wants to be bossed around all the time??? Well, as usual I must have been speaking in Charlie Brown teacher language, and none of it sunk in. Before I knew it I heard a small thud and then quiet crying. I look to find Abs on the couch and Liam on the floor with a look of nasty on his face.

  I asked what happened, she didn't answer and he just scowled at me. I waited for a minute. I wanted to hear from her why she was crying. (she was over tired too, and quick to work up some tears, though I knew it was something Liam had done to set her off) She finally mustered in her cute, squeaky voice that he hit her with her my little pony. I let it sit for a minute, giving Liam a chance to think about what he had done. Before I  even got the chance to open my mouth and start the lecture, Liam comes up to me, tears filling his eyes, and he says, "mama, I need your help. I need something to make me not so angry!"

  What??? This is awesome! Not awesome that he hurt his friend, but awesome that he acknowledged he was at a boiling point and needed to simmer down. He crawled into my lap, and I asked him what he thought might help. He finally decided that 5 minutes in his body sock, would help to calm him down.

For those that aren't familiar with a body sock, here is a pic of Liam in his Skweezr

   He got up, told Abs he was sorry, (even gave her a quick hug) got his sock, went into the kitchen, crawled in, and started his 5 minutes. He rocked while he quietly counted, and he used a piece of paper to keep track of his counting. When he finished, he came back out and was as happy as can be. No issues the rest of the night. Well except for some ruminating, and agitation from not being able to clear his mind.

  I was and still am in utter shock that he recognized his need to calm down. I am normally the one who tells him this, and he gets more angry, and it often will escalate a situation. And so, as with any milestone that parents of typical kids may take for granted, us parents of special needs kids, or autistic kids, we take great pride in these milestones, these firsts. They are not only a big deal, they are a HUGE deal!!!

                                              Here's to the firsts, and many more to come!!!!

                                                                           ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Holy Farter's Day....yes, I said Farter's day....

  Ugh! Yes, I am starting a post with ugh, because ugh is how I feel! Today has been one hell of a roller coaster ride. It's 6 pm and I am done. D-O-N-E done!!!! Why you ask?? Well let me tell you.....

  It all started yesterday. Well yesterday is what lead to today's crappy day. Yesterday was actually great. It was my nephew Z's 9th birthday party. He had a bowling party. I was stoked for that as Liam has been bugging to try his hand at bowling. All the kiddos had a blast. They were all so well behaved and their smiles were the best! It was truly a great afternoon! Liam managed to make it through the loud party with no issues. Only towards the end of the party, when we went into the private room for pizza and cake did he have an issue.
Rockin' this thing called bowling..... He learned that it's quite different than with a Wii :D

  He couldn't go sit with the other kids because the smell of the pizza was gagging him. (There was a slice at each seat) So he laid on the floor and counted his prize tickets. Aunt "nanny" came to the rescue and cleared the pizza away so Liam could sit by Z. He was very happy about that. He even gave his prize tickets to Z so  he could get a better prize, and no tears over it either! I was one proud mama! After the party we took him to McDonald's for his burger and he rested in the car for the hour drive home......

A little overwhelmed....

We no sooner pulled onto our road and he was trying to get out of the van to see his buddy J. J and Liam have grown very close over the past few months, and Liam couldn't wait to get home and see him. Must be J couldn't either because he was running next to the van and yelling for Liam.  We stopped and Liam got out and he asked Pita if Liam could go with him to the truck pulls. Pita said that was fine, but he was going too, so they could all go together. Knowing how loud they are and knowing we had already had a full day of shopping, then bowling, and over 2 hours in the van, I wanted Liam to come in for some down time. That was out of the question and apparently I was absurd for suggesting it! So he went outside and played with J until it was time to leave.

Just before they were to leave he started to bawl. He wanted to go. He didn't want to go. He wanted mama to go. He didn't want mama to go. Mama didn't want to go!!!! (this is how his behavior starts when he is overwhelmed and it inevitably escalates to become worse.) I wanted ALONE time! After a few minutes I calmed him down. Reassured him he was only going to be 5 minutes from me, but if he wanted too, he could stay home. (the pulls are in the field just up from our house.) He was okay with that, and decided to go,  so he grabbed his ear muffs and the camera, gave me a sloppy smooch and was off!

Liam gazing at his bud, lol.... note the camera and ear muffs at his hip...always "repaired." (how he says prepared.)

It was great! I watched some old Dark Shadows on Netflix, snugged my fur baby girl even dozed off. They got in around 11. Liam wanted to watch a few TMNT cartoons and he was out my midnight. 

This morning he no sooner got up and the tears were flowing. EVERYTHING set him off! When we made daddy his "bed meal" (breakfast in bed) He cried because I "made it wrong!" Then he cried because he forgot to sign the envelope to daddy's card. He cried because he had to clean his toys up in the living. He cried because he didn't want to walk back to his toy room. Getting the picture here? By 11 he was outside playing with J and Abs. And I was glad I didn't have to listen to his whining in my ear!

Now the fun started. By 2 pm we had broken up 5 arguments. Liam was whiny. Neighbor kids were being mouthy jerks. I had sent 2 kids home and told them not to come back. Liam and the other 2 kept playing. Except now Liam was being mean to his friends. I had had enough. I went out and told the kids he was over stimulated and needed to come in for a break. I told them when he was done he would come get them. The tears from Liam started to flow! Thinking fast, I bribed him, errrr rather I positively reinforced a sensory break by promising he and his friends could make smores tonight. It worked!!!! Wow, I can't believe it worked!!!

He came in, got some shake (chocolate milk) and got in his skweezr as well as covered himself with his weighted blanket. He was out in 10 minutes! He slept til 5 when I woke him up. I know this means a late night for mama. But I don't care. He is happy. He is smiling. He is playing with Abs and being nice. So it's worth a late night! :) 

So even though this day has really been crappy, it seems to be headed back in the right direction. (Knocking on some wood so I don't jinx my damn self!) 

I hope that all the daddy-o's, and mamas that are also daddy-o's had a great "Farter's" day. I hope it was better than pita's tear filled, scream filled day ;)

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Auditory processing can suck it!

God bless my sweet boy!!! Auditory processing really kicks his butt. (if you're new to the world of Autism, just click here for more info on what it is. Many kiddos with ASD often have issues processing what they hear.) I am seeing it more and more recently. Just this morning as I was giving him his spelling test it was the worst I had ever seen it.

 Each time we would move to the next word, I would say, "great bud! Okay next," and then say the next word. Every single time, he would start to spell 'next.'  When I give him a test, I make him stand in front of me. That way he is less fidgety and he focuses better. But how in the hell do I help him process what is being said to him better? He was getting so angry he was pulling his own hair and punching his head. He knows the words. He gets 100 % almost every time. Yet if I weren't paying attention, and reading him the words, making him spell them, and then writing them for him, where would he be??? It's so much harder on him to say the word and have him write it himself. That throws him off even worse. Also, this kid has the memory of an elephant but if you don't break a word down into sounds he can't process it. Is this normal in kids learning to read and spell? Or is this more of the godforsaken auditory processing? 

 I'm not a teacher. I didn't go to college. I'm an artist. A self taught, "retired" tattoo artist to be precise. I am no expert on this stuff. I am not stupid, but I'm also not trained on how to teach a child, let alone a special needs kiddo. The only one up I really have is I know my kid better than anyone. I know how to adapt
to his needs, but I also wonder if I am adapting too much???? I  want to make sure he is challenged but not to the point of him punching himself out of frustration.  I know he knows the words. When I give him his words for the week I don't spell them. I sound them out and he spells them then reads them back. I quiz him the next day and he gets them all. However it's more of the same. I say the word and I have to sound out each letter separate or else he gets all confused and flips out......(unless it's blends, then I can sound them apart and he gets it.) Another thing about it that baffles me is, he knows his alphabet, but if I ask him what sounds certain letters make, he gets all confused, and will give me the wrong answer at least half a dozen times, then all of a sudden, he will SCREAM the correct answer at me, like it's my fault. For instance, the letter w, when you ask him how it sounds, he ALWAYS says it says, WHY...... just like the word. Same for the letter U, when I ask him what sound it makes, he says, YA. He knows it's u as in up, or umbrella, but at first he will say YA, and after he repeats that a few times, he then yells the correct U sound at me.... I just am not sure how to go about treating this for him. As far as the school is concerned, because his IQ is so high, he doesn't "qualify" for any special ed classes. And because his deficits aren't "severe enough," he doesn't qualify for any therapies. He has been done with speech for awhile now. They didn't even work on his stuttering, only on his mispronunciations of sounds. (which they did a great job with)

 So I am not really sure what to do. I get it. I mean, I know when I say something to Liam (like a directive) I can't expect him to get what I said immediately. I need to give him time to process what is being said. But how do I teach him to spell or even read appropriately if I have to sound everything out for him? When am I doing too much??? Is there something I am missing here???

                                                                             ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Monday, June 3, 2013

He asked for seconds!!!!!

   I am sure that many, if not all of you special needs parents can relate to this. Our children are so hard to feed. Liam only eats about 10 things, and just like his obsessions with certain toys or movies, his food list will change like that. He will be on a cheerios kick one week, so I see a good sale and stock up. All of sudden he will change and be on a peanut butter kick. It drives me batty!!!!!

  I want Liam's list of foods to grow. It's hard to go anywhere (like cook outs or birthday parties) because we will be lucky if he eats one thing there. Yes, I take him food, but it would be nice if the list of things he will eat were a bit bigger. We all want our child to try new things, yet we don't want to risk life and limb in the process. It's a catch 22. "Do I pester him to try that? I know he will like it, but is it worth a meltdown of epic proportions just to get him to try something new???"

  And so this is how it goes. At least in my house. I beg. I barter. I bribe. Admit it, you've done it too at some point. I start out telling him how good it is and the reasons I think he'll like it. When that doesn't work (because 9 times out of 10 he doesn't care,) I move on to the bartering. The, "if you eat this you can skip your veggies." Or, "if you try this I will give you an extra scoop of ice cream later." So when this doesn't work I move on to bribing with money. I pay him to try things. Yes, I said that. Well, I wrote that, but yes, I am admitting I do this.
 Now, before you get all willy nilly and get your panties in a wad over this..... keep reading and let me explain....  I call it positive reinforcement. (I wrote another post on this, you can read it HERE.) Whether it be having him  try a new food,  asking someone in a store for help, or even trying a new game with the neighbor kids, I often have to "bribe" him with something he wants to do these things. You see,  9 times out of 10 this works for him. My kid LOVES money!!!! He is always asking me if he can do something around the house for money. So I figure, what the hell. If I can get him to do something social, or try to overcome a sensory issue and eat something new, then he deserves to be rewarded. He likes money, so what better reward is there?

  So yesterday morning I put a pork roast in the crock pot with honey bbq sauce and brown sugar. It smelled divine! I knew Liam would love this, BUT there was a problem. You see, my son does NOT like 2 foods touching! AT ALL!!!! Now, oddly enough, he will take a food, and dip it into a sauce, but DO NOT offer him a food already in sauce. (I have washed many foods because of marinades/sauces, just to get him to try it.) Also, his current meat kick is burgers or chicken, NOTHING else! So, first off, I lied. Yes, I admitted that too. I told Liam it was chicken I was cooking. Hey, it's white meat! Don't judge! I DESPISE lying to my child, however, if it's something like this, I feel it's ok. I know if I told him it was chicken, he would probably fight me less to try it. So what's the harm? I told him why I thought he would love the "chicken." That didn't work. I offered him more ice cream for dessert. He didn't care.  It came down to me offering him a dollar to try the "new chicken." He loves that k2 sauce, so I told him the bbq was a lot like that. He thought for a minute. Then asked if I would give him a popsicle and a dollar if he tried it. HELL YEAH!!!!!

   I got a small piece out of the crock, and an orange pop, (his fave) and I waited. He eyed the piece of "chicken" cautiously. (for him, foods have to look good too. he is visually picky as well!) When he decided it was a go, he popped it in his mouth. He chewed. He swallowed........wait for it................. He. LOVED. It!!!!! So I gave him some on a plate, and he sat down to eat. He ate it ALL......Then he asked, "More pwwweassssseeeee?!"   He asked for SECONDS!!!!!!!

  It worked. My plan worked! No tears. No screaming. No meltdown. Liam tried a new food, and he loved it! I can now say he will eat pulled bbq "chicken". That means another night I don't have to give him something separate. He will eat what we eat. This is huge for us. I can't always just eat what he eats, yuck! So, many times I make dinner and he will eat the meat or veggie and that's it. Mostly he will eat cereal. I hate seeing him live off of chocolate milk and cereal! So yes, I am proud of him for trying a new food. And NO, I am not disappointed that I white lied and bribed him to do it. It's still a win for us, and I am stoked for him. More importantly, he was proud of himself for trying it. And that my friends, is AUSOME!!!!

Trust me, he loved it. He was mid bite when I took this pic :)

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Sunday, June 2, 2013

It's the little things

  I have always appreciated the little things. I was raised as a low-middle income family. My father didn't want my mother to work because he wanted her to be home with us girls. So we were raised to take joy in the little things and to appreciate them no matter how small. We may not have had everything our hearts desired but my parents gave us every thing they could, and where there was no money, there was love abound.

  But autism has taught me to appreciate more. It has taught me many things actually, but as I lay here tonight, listening to Liam's soft sleeping breaths, I am reflecting on the little things that happened just today, and appreciating how wonderful they are for him, for us.

  He asked me to make him a lemonade stand. If that wasn't huge enough, he asked EVERY person that stopped today if they wanted lemonade. He would ask quietly at first, working up his nerve, and when they didn't hear him, he would ask again!! This is huge for my social introvert!! This is the same child who crawl up the back of my shirt, flashing my goods to people in public, just so people couldn't see him. I think half of Bradford County has seen my ladies at some point in the last 7 seven years, and not because of me!!!!

  When we took him swimming today, he stuck his face in the water. Not once. Not twice. THREE times!!!! This is huge because he doesn't like water on his face , especially in his eyes. His little friend A was trying it, and teaching Liam how she does it.  He then told us it was burning him so he stopped. We commended him on how brave and tough he was for trying it, and you could see the pride on his face.

  I watched him play with the neighbor kids and take turns, WITHOUT being MADE to!!!!! I watched him laugh, holler and scream and not sit on the deck, waiting for someone to play with. When one kid took an extra turn, he came and told me, tears in his eyes, and asked me to help. I told him to take 2 turns and let it go. He did! He didn't sit there and dwell on it!  He didn't slap that kid and refuse to play anymore. His social skills seem to be improving everyday!

  He went to the bathroom twice today and wiped  all by himself. He rarely does that, so when he does, I make sure I make a huge deal out it and tell him what a big boy he is for doing that dirty deed himself. You know, I may not be wiping his butt until he's 20, and that is FANFREAKINTASTIC!!!!

 I can't believe ALL these things happened here today. These things may not even seem important to parents of NT kids. Without autism, I may not have taken much notice. Without autism, they may not have seemed like such a big deal to me either. So you see, there are some days I hate autism. Days where I let it get the best of my emotions.  And then there are days like today, when I embrace it for letting me see how wonderful the little things can be. So, before the storm of Autism crashes back down on us, I will sit here and bask in the happiness of these little things :)

                                                                         ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥