Tuesday, January 20, 2015

STOP Using Ableist Language!

    Skimming through my news feed on Liam's page, and this gem jumps out at me.

(No, I didn't credit this picture, because I chose not to shed light on people who use images like this for likes)

8 years ago, I may not have batted an eye at it. Today, well, today it pissed me off. When you have a son who suffers with a mental illness, this kind of meme isn't funny. It's debilitating. It further stereotypes mental disorders, those suffering from them, and the hard work parents and providers are doing to stop these stereotypes.

Did you know this is also known as ABLEISM. What is it you ask? Let me tell you.

Let me give you some examples:

Short Bus

Need I go on? If you want a more comprehensive list, Autistic Hoya has an amazing break down of all ableist language.

Bottom line, whether you're the parent, relative or someone with a mental disorder, using this type of language hurts people. Same as calling someone fat, or ugly, or whatever term you use to berate someone.

There are people and children in this world struggling with mental disorders. They are people, with feelings, and thoughts of their own. STOP making fun of them with this type of language. STOP using it to get "likes" on your page. STOP hurting other people.

Our world is what we make of it. Let's make it a better place for EVERYONE <3

Rant over!

Friday, January 16, 2015

A Mom's Insight on Pediatric Bipolar Disorder

My son is autistic. Autism is on the forefront of many media outlets nowadays, so you know what that is. He also suffers from a mental illness. I'm not talking about autism here. I'm talking about pediatric bipolar disorder.

I'm sure you've heard of it. You've probably even heard it joked about. Did you know it affects kids too? Well it does. It steals away moments of their childhood and rips out their parents hearts.

Children who suffer from BPD differ from that of most adults afflicted with it, because they cycle so rapidly. (Cycling is when they switch from mania to depression and so on) *refer to chart* These cycles can occur numerous times in one day.

Have you ever seen the meme that said, "How much do you charge for a ride on your mood swings?" I used to think that was funny. Now I find it offensive. Maybe because I watch my child swing between moods so frequently some days.

Here's the break down of mania vs depression:

Symptoms of mania include:
  • euphoria (elevated mood)—silliness or elation that is inappropriate and impairing
  • grandiosity
  • flight of ideas or racing thoughts
  • more talkative than usual or pressure to keep talking
  • irritability or hostility when demands are not met
  • excessive distractibility
  • decreased need for sleep without daytime fatigue
  • excessive involvement in pleasurable but risky activities (daredevil acts, hypersexuality)
  • poor judgment
  • hallucinations and psychosis

Symptoms of depression include:
  •  lack of joy and pleasure in life
  • withdrawal from activities formerly enjoyed 
  • agitation and irritability
  • pervasive sadness and/or crying spells
  • sleeping too much or inability to sleep
  • drop in grades or inability to concentrate
  • thoughts of death and suicide
  • fatigue or loss of energy
  • feelings of worthlessness
  • significant weight loss, weight gain or change in appetite

Being a woman, we know how mood swings can be. We live with PMS every month. But this is different. More extreme. A person/child with BPD will go from laughing, and incessantly talking your ear off, to angry, crying, screaming, and so on. They can become violent too. Take 3 or more of those symptoms above, and they happen all at one time. Then the child will cycle to other end. (refer back to arrow chart)

(Now add that to autism. It's quite explosive some times)

People have asked me if I was ever afraid OF my child. No. NEVER. I'm afraid FOR my child. Stereotypes. Negativity towards mental illness. Misinformation of these illnesses especially in children doesn't help either. 

My hope is that by reaching out, exposing myself, sharing our life, I can help spread the word. I hope that even ONE person reads this, and says, "I'm not ashamed of my mental illness!" So they can help by spreading the word. 

I want to help make that change for mental illness awareness. Pediatric mental illness awareness. 

My son is almost nine. We are starting to have more rough days than good. We're working on finding medications that help his BPD and don't hinder him in general. It's not easy. It's rough on him. Rough on us. We've been faced twice with the possibility of hospitalizing him. (once when he was 5 and last spring, he was 7) The nearest psychiatric hospital that can take children is FOUR hours away! So not only do we need more people speaking out about mental illness in children, we need more service providers in all areas. Parents facing the decision of having to admit their children to psychiatric hospital, shouldn't be faced with the worry of how far away it is. (That was a HUGE concern for us. My son has major anxiety issues and can't be away from me for any amount of time.)

I try to talk about BPD every chance I get. I try to reach out and let people know what it is. How it affects my son, myself and our family.  To protect him, and do his story justice, I ALWAYS ask what I can post, and what he wants to keep secret. He almost ALWAYS lets me post his "story" exactly how it happens. He's quite the advocate for a child.

But I find myself holding back. I ask myself why all the time. I'm a very upfront and blunt person. I hold back though because there is such a negative stereotype surrounding mental illness, and I'm afraid people will peg my son as something he's not. After all, first and foremost he's a little boy. A little boy with a lot on his plate, but a little boy none the less.

We've already dealt with bullies. Sometimes on a daily basis because of where we live. We had to pull him from school because they didn't have the patience to be kind to him. We've been in and out of therapies, social skills groups (autism) and so on. Through it all, he keeps on. He wears a smile and he is such a fun loving kid. He has taught me so much! On days where I can't take BPD any more, and I start to cry, I think of how it must feel for him. He has to fight his own mind. I don't. I just have to be there for him. I just have to be his mom.

 Whether or not you know someone afflicted with bipolar, try to educate yourself on it a bit. Teach your children to be kind and accepting of the kids that don't seem quite like them. Teach your children to speak kindly to everyone, no matter how different they seem. 

Also, if you think you or someone you love may be suffering with bipolar disorder, PLEASE speak to your doctor. Do not be afraid. Do not be ashamed. None of us are perfect. We all have a battle to fight, yours is just different than mine.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Bunker Punk Tour

As always, I'm late to the party. All the bunker punks are on tour, and here I am being busy! Well no more! Momma needs some me time ;)

So as part of this tour, I have some questions to answer. Here goes!

1) Your most prized possession:

If you asked me this 9 years ago, I would have told you, my tattoo machines and my creativity. Why have one with out the other, am I right?

But then I became a mom. So without a care of sounding cliche, my answer today is my son.

I won't lie. He's a handful some days, but hell, so was I growing up. He's amazing, and has taught me MANY things. One of which is how to be a better person. I might add, that he's the most awesome thing I have EVER created ;)

2) How do you unwind after a long day? 

Wait. I'm supposed to unwind????? What is that? As soon as Liam's melatonin kicks in, I pass out. Unless insomnia hits me. Then, because I'm a glutton for punishment, I fart around online for a few hours, and then crash out. My kid gets up too early and goes to bed too late for me!

3) What is one song that has followed you throughout your whole life?

I can only pick one? Well damn.....

Then I guess I choose CCR. It reminds me of my daddy. He liked to listen to them on Sunday's when we were all doing our chores. Every time I hear any CCR song I am taken back to when I was 13, and grudgingly dusting furniture. But I remember how happy mom and dad were, and that always brings a smile to my face.

4) If you could give one piece of advice to new bloggers in your field, what would it be?

Advice? Well, no one really listens to me, but if I were asked, I would tell someone to write from their heart. Write about life. Your life. Someone will see your journey, and someone will relate, and then they may not feel so alone.

5) Now that you're famous we need a quote from you.

Well, if it's an original quote, then it would be "I'm just joking." Being on the spectrum, I'm always afraid people don't know when I'm joking, and I can't always tell if they know or not.

MY personal favorite quotes of all time though, are these:

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Constantly Being on the Defensive Gave Me Wrinkles

    Yesterday we were headed out for a BIG day! By big I mean, a birthday party at Chuck E Cheese for Liam's cousin. A few errands, and then over to my parent's house to celebrate my dad's birthday.

    I had been prepping Liam for the last two days. Any earlier and he would have just perseverated on it so much, that school work would never have gotten done. I was mentally preparing myself as well. All that noise. All those kids. Other parents watching us. Judging us.

    Would he behave? Would the noise be too much for him? For me? So many thoughts were swirling in my brain as I got dressed for the day.

    I decided some makeup was in order since Liam didn't sleep at all the night before. Meaning, neither did I. I looked like death warmed over. As I looked in to the mirror to tidy up my nasty eyebrows, I saw something that pissed me off.....

    I saw a wrinkle. My FIRST wrinkle! No way was this happening to me?!?!? I have been dealing with gray hairs since I turned 30, but wrinkles? Not wrinkles! This surely means I'm getting old.

    I got as close as I could to the mirror, because I wasn't wearing my glasses. I'm as blind as a bat with out them. I was hoping that  I was seeing things. I wasn't. There it was. Smack dab in between my eyebrows. I wrinkled my nose in disgust. And that's when I saw it.....

 You can call me vain, you can call me what ever you want. But you also have to admit, that seeing that first wrinkle is a shock. If not, then you're not human. You should get that checked out, ya know?) I CAUSED THIS WRINKLE. I caused this blemish upon my very own face.

  When I feel disgust, or annoyance, or when I wear my "autism mom game face," I wrinkle my brows and my nose.  (

    I digress. My wrinkle. I made it. Sure did. You see, I have what Pita calls "the resting bitch face." You all know what that is. The face that says, "Don't speak to me. Don't look at me. Walk away." I don't call this the RBF, I call it my "autism mom game face."

I wear this face in stores. I wear it at appointments and therapies with my son. I wear it at school meetings, (even if they are over the phone and can't see me. It make me feel more powerful.) I wear it where ever we happen to roam. I wear it because I'm tired of the stares. I'm tired of people shaking their heads over my son's behaviors. (his autistic behaviors, not his typical kid behaviors.) I'm tired of people assuming he's "bad," and people not minding their own business.

    So you see, this face I wore like a badge, has in fact started ruining my face. My face pre Liam was always smiling. Smiling hides pain. Smiling makes others more comfortable. But my face post Liam is much different. NOT because I'm not happy, but because smiling makes people assume you care what they have to say. It makes them assume that you find life or a situation amusing. The RBF as pita calls it, tells people to piss off before they even have the chance to step on my last nerve.
It keeps people from giving me their opinions. It keeps them walking.

     I reserve my smiles for the people who get it. The ones that give me that "knowing nod," and move on. The ones that offer me a smile, I always smile back.  Or the parents who have the same AMGF (autism mom game face) I do, I smile at them. I want them to know that we're in the same "club," and I get it too.

    Will this stop me from using my AMGF? Probably not. It's like my armor. I would rather have wrinkles, than have people talk to me, when Liam or I are having a rough time. Does it make me more conscious of it? Sure does. I have caught myself giving Pita that very face a few times today. I quickly adjusted it. Why cause more wrinkles because of him?? :P

    I just wanted you to know that the internet is lying. I see memes all the time that say "Smiling gives you wrinkles, resting b!tch face keeps you pretty." THEY'RE LYING! RBF makes you wrinkly. It also makes you look grouchy! In my case, the latter works for me ;)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Individualized Educational Plan Laughs and Tears

AKA, IEP laughs and tears....

Anyone here ever look at IEP drafts and laugh at the goals?

No? Just me????

Now before you rip my head off, keep reading.....

I don't laugh because I think my son can't pull this off. I laugh because half of these goals are on MY shoulders, and I think HOW THE HELL AM I GOING TO PULL THIS OFF?

I HAVE to get my son to do these things. I home/cyber school. So half the goals are geared towards his therapists. The other half are geared towards what I have to work on with him.

No more than TWO verbal prompts? Do they KNOW my child?

On task behavior for 30 minutes at a time???? 80% of the time???? With ADHD????

Also, I laugh over the ones about licking food, or even eating it. I laugh because I have been trying that for years. I have been puked on. I have had my dinner puked on. All over trying to get him to eat something new.

Food aversions aren't this easily over come! I pray the new OT has a tarp or a parka to keep the puke off her nice work clothes!

Next up we have the self care goals. These don't make me laugh. They kind of make me sad. Liam will be 9 in May. He has tied his shoes ONCE. It took a lot of tears to get there. Now he refuses because "it's too hard, and I just can't do it mama!" He can't button. Snapping is a struggle. Zippers? He can't zip his coat either. If you start it, he can. But he can't put his coat on and zip and snap it. These goals I PRAY the OT can pull off. I PRAY he will do his best for her and learn these tasks. I know it will make him feel so much better about himself!

You can do it baby! Mama knows you can! <3

You know what Liam hates MORE than tying or zipping? WRITING! His cyber school sent me the "Hand Writing Without Tears" curriculum in kindy. That name is SUPER deceiving. He had tears. I had tears. I think the dog lying next to his desk even had tears, hearing her boy so distraught.

They have instituted  Scribe for him. (we are still waiting on the program) But in the mean time, my baby needs to learn to write more legibly. The reversals and the mix of capitol and lowercase is quite bad. Thankfully the OT will be working with him on this. I don't know how much more my heart can take. Watching your baby struggle day in and day out is hard. Home schooling is DEFINITELY NOT for the faint of heart.
There were a lot of other things in his IEP that broke my heart. For his privacy, I am keeping that to ourselves. It's hard to see where your child falls short in writing. It's hard to swallow.

So I guess, part of the reason I choose to laugh at some of these goals, is because other things in the IEP are hard for me to handle.

Then I step back. I look up from my writing, and I see a happy, handsome, and fairly healthy little boy. Busy lining up his comic books and humming to himself. In that moment, I know that no matter where he falls short, no matter where he lacks, he is happy, and he is mine, and I love him more than life itself!