Category Archives: Autism Spectrum Disorder

The great highs and lows of Aspie livin’

skateboard
skateboard (Photo credit: expense)

This last year has been a time of great achievements and growth in J-man. HE had started to act less “Aspie” and more “normal”. Crying was a part of his daily life not to long ago, far longer than what the rest of the world thought he should cry. I have never actually taken to what the “world” or “they” tell us. His crying had become almost non-existent.  To see him be more calm and in control about things did my heart proud. He had made such big steps and is able to control himself to only show mild frustration and not let it escalate.

That was last year, before we decided to home school he and his sister full-time. I’m pretty sure there have been all the adjustments and frustration with HS’ing with his arch (family) enemy. It’s hard to be with a sibling that is bent on making you scream every chance she gets. On the other hand, she is entering pubescence as well as he is, so we have immature tween hormones at it’s finest here. She is crying or screeching and he’s barking like a dog or crying like the world is ending. Or meowing like a cat. Or he’s melting down like his life is at an end, at times.

I have mediated like a CHAMP and using the opportunity to build their rocky relationship…and it’s working. I play psychologist and they play my patients. They don’t see it, but it’s totally working. I clap my hands in silent GLEE! Until the crap hits the fan the next time.

Enter: Major Growth Spurt.

I was wondering why he was back-talking me and acting like what I said was the exact opposite of what he should do, then I realized he is pubescent. Yah, that’s right. And in the middle of the most major growth spurt of his life.

This made me shake my head at my blindness. Of course he’s going to be a hot mess while these things are happening in his body! What was I thinking? That since he is the size of an adult that he would think like one? Silly me.

No…it means a good dose of REGRESSION. We get to see the toddler years re-emerge into the bigger tween years.

christmas treeAdd to that the Christmas season, and we have some awesome fireworks around these parts, and I don’t mean the kind you buy off an illegal stand somewhere. No we have fireworks right in our own walls. Just as spectacular too. You should come over and watch. On the other hand…

I know that all the progress we’ve made is not lost, it’s just jumbled around in that brain that has a million chemicals trying to shoot around, in his body, so that he can grow and mature into the man he that I am sure he is becoming.

Watching your child lose part of their mind…the part they use to listen to our parental words like “Hey, man. Can you do the dishes for me please? Hello? Helloooo?” Well, it throws me back to my pubescence and I want to retaliate. But I don’t.

Ah forget it. I’ll just take the DS away from his face then he’ll “hear” me. Yah, that’ll work.

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Putting my Psychologist on

The UN headquarters in New York
The UN headquarters in New York (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I feel like a full-time psychologist most days. Hokey smokes! Between everyone we have a basket full of nuts. I’m speaking mostly of myself, of course.

Here are some of the things that require specialized treatment…

Conflict resolution – Since I knew I was going to have J-man home for the year (and absolutely NO qualms about it) I figured it would be good for him not to be hanging out with his middle-aged mom all by himself. At the time, I thought taking my next oldest child out was a logical step. While I still know that it was a wise decision, sometimes I think I’ve gone crackers. They are polar opposite in personality and pretty much every second is a competition. They can be the best of friends and the very worst of enemies. Most of the time, I hear that I shouldn’t have brought Belle home to home school and she should go back to school. I have been tempted…very tempted. Alas, I have become a mediator the United Nations could hire. Seriously. I’m that good. In the end, if they can get along without maiming each other, we will have successfully glimpsed world peace.

Anxiety prevention – Ack. Who can prevent anxiety? Not me. At this point we’re just mopping up afterwards. We have put J-man into a few different new situations this year. New situations = Nitro Anxiety. What was I thinking? I love my life. He is bearing down and sticking with basketball even though he really is having challenges understanding the game. He ROCKS at the skills, it’s just the plays and social part of it that has him bamboozled. Having braces in his mouth is about as fun as punching myself in the head, but they motivated (bribed) him with the chance of winning an Xbox so he’s brushing when I ask. Yay! Small victories, people.

Depression – Preventing myself from this is a fulltime job. Just kidding…kind of. J-man has struggled with this from early on and we are dealing with (a little of) this right now. I am the cheerleader/listener extraordinaire.

Oldest Child is an Aspie – Having the oldest child be on the Autism Spectrum is a special pickle in and of itself. We were blessed to adopt four kiddos within five years and we do count it a blessing despite me sounding like a whiner at times. Whining helps me cope. When you have an oldest as an Aspie, you have a world that looks like all of your kids are “special”. What I mean by this is, they all notice that he needs some different attention. They all notice what gets him attention. They all TRY the same methods or their own special methods (that drive me mad) repeatedly. Yay…not. We also have the youngest who has some issues herself, and so we have a special little sandwich of goodies. A couple of them have recently admitted that they feel like they don’t get enough attention. Well, goodness sakes children, you do have three siblings all squished together! Any “normal” family would have the same feelings, methinks! At least I know that I play the psychologist role well enough that they can express their feelings. Let’s be thankful for that, now, shall we?

All in all, I really don’t feel proficient at anything much of the time. Now that I’ve written some of that down, I feel like I’ve given myself a much-needed couch session. Whew! Now I can get up off that couch and treat the rest of the patients! Thanks for being my therapists. I know you are out there…somewhere.

 

 

 

 

Aspie plus One

005I was pretty sure that bringing home my spitfire of a girl, my second oldest, would result in epic battles between she and my Aspie. She is delightfully strong-minded and I don’t mind telling you she’s adept at making many people cry. Her skills would do well in a future career of law, but she is setting her mind to be a Veterinarian.  She can be her own boss and Top Dog at the same time!

I have had a few friends and community contacts ask why we took her out of school to home school her. After all, she does just fine in the public system. I have many reasons, but I’ll just share a few.

1. My Aspie needed a sibling at home. He is definitely not going back to school and he needed a pal. Out of all of my kids, historically he and she do not mix well. This is going to be an opportunity to build their friendship and give company for each other during the times we are not actively doing “schoolwork”. It has worked out VERY well (so far) as I see them working out the differences many times. Sometimes I have to step in and help them work out squabbles, but mostly they are working it out and dare I say…having fun! There have been a couple of times where he’s begged “Can you please send her back…PLEASE!”

2. She is on the brightly intelligent spectrum and I foresee no problems getting her going on some projects that would help push her even further, intellectually and personally. I fear she has not been pushed to excellence and I can work one on one with her in areas that need improvement, like handwriting and printing. I know how much more she can do, even if she’s pulling easy 90’s. She likes a challenge and I’m good with being the one who is challenging her to reach farther.

3. Spiritually, she has so much potential and in school she was becoming discouraged with the amount of non spiritual content. She felt like she was spiritually alone in the school and that there were very few people that she could relate to in that way. That is not to say that she did not have some good friends at the school. She values those relationships greatly. We still make sure she can have opportunities to see those friends from time to time. Homeschooling allows us the time to play/interact with some peers who do love God and are now a part of her social group. We have also been able to take many teachable moments to discuss in-depth what the Bible says about certain topics.

There are a few more reasons I took her out. I was nervous about having her home. She and I can have some epic battles of the wills but I have not found that to be the case at all recently. In fact, she seems so much more relaxed and willing to back down. She has been the loving, caring, helpful and respectful child I knew that she could be.

The last six years, with my kids gradually going into the public school, I found myself more and more having to manage stress and fatigue fall-out from school. I would have to work out situations that were almost daily in occurrence. After school activities included De-escalating behaviors, instead of doing their homework and playing. Everyone felt deregulated.

This year, it seems like (for the most part) my two at home stay regulated and happy or at least relaxed when the other two come home. The other two are thrilled with school this year and so I think we are a happier and calmer family all around. There are still days, but I remember months of days where I would be talking all four children down from their proverbial ledges (simultaneously) from the time they arrived home until the time they would (finally) fall asleep. Homework often got pushed aside while we tried to manage life and behaviors.

I am so very thankful for the direction and support I have received from friends who homeschool. Also, I appreciate the folks who don’t understand why we do what we are doing, yet still accept that we are doing the best we know how for our family. We’ve got a pretty great community here.

Feeling GOOD!

English: Houses for the junior school students...
English: Houses for the junior school students at Isha Home School (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This year we are planning to home school J-man and he’s, quite honestly, stoked!  I have gone from being nervous to super excited as I plan his traditional home school curriculum. Traditional means that I get to decide what to teach him and in what context he’s learning it. I will be responsible to a facilitator who will make sure we are on track. I have changed schools and will be going with a Christian Based organization called Wisdom and it is run close to where we live. I just need to get a few things finalized and we will be READY!!

Now, I have thought of bringing the middle two home. The middle two are firecrackers in a wild circus show. They have a tonne of energy, a lot of sparkle and seem to get set off by each other in the blink of an eye. It’s quite a show but not one I look forward to homeschooling.

Belle is fantastically bright and just itches for a brain challenge. Don’t ask her to clean or make her bed though…it gets ugly. I think if she came home she would be able to be stimulated intellectually as I can gear her program to make the most of her beautiful brain. She would make an excellent student and I would have the challenge of keeping her busy enough to stay out of trouble.

Ninja is a gem. He loves to buckle down and get things done and it could take him millennia to do it because he’s on his own timetable. I think that would be the most challenging for him. I would hope that I could give him the space he needs but teach him to get things done in an proper amount of time. He’s a bright kid too so I have no worries except the possible huge blow-ups between the middle children. He does have some issues with sensory and a few social issues so school has been harder for him than I thought it would be. Would he survive Gr.2? Absolutely.

Honey is staying in school for sure this year. It will give her a little more time to learn how to read, give us more time at home to get used to schooling at home. She is a busy BUSY creature so I don’t think bringing her home quite yet is the answer. She LOVES school. We’re keeping her in Gr.1 for this coming year, unless something unexpected happens.

I know that we will not bring ALL the children home, as Honey will do best this year at school. Of that we are confident. On the other hand, eventually our goal is to bring them all home the next year. I did a whole blog about reasons for it over here.

I am excited and nervous about our next year of homeschooling/school. It’s so up in the air in some ways. I know how to make myself crazy. Give me a lot of good options and it will keep me up at night!

We are praying for clear answers and wait in holding pattern for now.

Stepping into the next stage

Klein Lake, Near Panther River, West of Sundre
Klein Lake, Near Panther River, West of Sundre (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Life passes by much too quickly these days, and my wish to slow the pace, increases.

One family misses a child tonight and they won’t get to hold her again. My friend’s niece passed away from an accident and their family will never again see the beautiful smiles that radiated from her. They will have a hole in their lives and family unit that she had once filled.

My heart has been reminded of my own loss, as I remember my own brother’s passing from an accidental drowning and how that placed a space in our family…and empty place. Our family forever changed by a moment.

I miss a child tonight. It feels like there is a hole in our little brood tonight. The likelihood of his return is likely and yet the terror that tries to infiltrate my heart is hard to fend off as I have these thoughts of loss so very present in my heart.

I came home and there was evidence of him on every corner. His collection of holes under the trampoline indicate the love for his salamander, who is given fresh earth worms every morning. His dirty sheets are reminders that I really need to teach him some responsibility. His lonely sister is indicative of what kind of older brother he is.

I cried. I am not afraid to admit, a piece of fear that I may never hug him again always tugs at my heart when I have to let him go, bit by bit. From my experience of loss comes the temptation to fear when I have to let him try and do things on his own. Not because he has always wanted to, but because I knew in the end it was good for him.

When I let him go to preschool at 3 yrs. old for 3 days a week, friends thought I should probably have kept him home closer to me and not send him away too soon. That preschool was the beginning of a very good thing. They helped him immeasurably…and me as well. But I cried. For weeks, as I dropped him off in the mornings, I secretly cried. I wanted to take him home. Protect him from whatever was happening. Make him feel safe.

When he started Kindergarten in a new school, I cried. I knew he would be confused because it wasn’t the same place that he had gone to school and there were all so many new things. Good people surrounded him and made sure that even if there were moments that were scary, he was safe.

I have been the person he goes to for information on what the world is saying to him. I am his interpreter for many situations. I can guess what he’s thinking, and reassure him. I can tell him what certain events or social situations mean and calm him down. I can talk him down from the proverbial emotional ledge. I can remind him to do things that he forgets to do.

There were a few nail biting moments this week. Our J-man was SO looking forward to camp and we had not received a letter confirming his registration nor gotten a call. I left messages and emails hoping to know whether or not to send him. By today, we just decided to pack up and go for it. He was as ready as ready does. We went to the camp, and sure enough they had not registered him. He was on the waiting list. Since he was there…they found the ONE extra bed they had open in a boys cabin. Answer to prayer, OH MY!! Thanks be to Jesus, who knew my son’s heart was ready for this. I asked J-man what he would do if they couldn’t find a spot for him. “I’d DIE.” Well, that won’t happen because you got in!!!  Yay!  Scary moments though.

This week I will miss my boy so much. He is my buddy, my pal. My incessant source of conversation. But I know this is the right thing for us to do. He is growing up and this is such a big step in his development. He may not clean his glasses for a week. That’s ok. HE may not change his clothes for a week and maybe never shower or put deodorant on. He may make farting or meowing noises and I pray that kids don’t laugh at him.

I hope he finds community there. I pray he is accepted for who he is and loved and taken in. I pray that God will be there in his times of anxiety, of which there will be many moments, I’m sure. I pray that he will meet God there and that his heart will be taken by the wonder of the Creator. May he be encouraged and strengthened in his faith as he branches out in this bold step of development.

What others see as a regular thing in childhood (going to camp), I look at with wonder. Has he come this far already and is he ready for this? Be still, my mother heart.

We were sitting on the lawn of the camp and I asked him if he was ready for me to go. He said “Not yet.” meaning that he still needed me but sometime very soon he would not need me. Within minutes his counsellor called his name to play basketball…I was on my way.  We were both not totally ready but there was the moment.

“I love you, son.”

“I love you too, mom.”

And we both stepped into a new stage in our lives.

Special Abilities

super hero
super hero (Photo credit: demandaj)

Leaping out of tall buildings, shielding the pedestrian from an oncoming bus, elasto-arms that grab babies out of incoming trouble, x-ray vision. Those are some very awesome superpowers to have if we could have them.

As a mom, I believe I have some God-given gifts that allow me to predict when someone will have a meltdown, so I prevent it. I can see behind my head to the trouble  brewing behind (which is me peering to the window to see the reflected image of my daughter about to punch her brother in the face), I can produce a meal before I even hear the “I’m hungry”…also, I have the sudden appearance of fairy wings which allow me to become the Tooth Fairy and flit around their pillows before I deposit that coin. Oh, I have so many special powers. Mommy powers, I call them.

I was invited to a luncheon where I learned more about how a certain organization has helped Albertan parents dream big dreams for their kids with “special abilities” (instead of disabilities) and I liked the term very much. So much so, that I am going to spend the rest of my time telling you what my child’s special abilities include. As a caveat, I think my children, whether they are the ones with challenges or whether they are neurotypical, have some special abilities written into their make up.

J-man has the special ability to make people laugh at a fart joke. Don’t tell him that or he’ll be telling fart jokes all over the place and it will make the special ability not as special. He also has the ability to flap his hands and make strange noises that get him straight outside to do some “heavy work” like jumping on the trampoline. He can also use those abilities to get extra jobs done for mommy as I have him cart heavy baskets of laundry up and down the stairs.

He has another special ability that I like to watch. He collects bugs, cares for them and loves them like family members. Only, bugs don’t have a terribly long life span so this ability can last all summer as he replaces the bugs at an alarming rate.

His other, more amazing ability is the ability to state the obvious. This can come in handy when another sibling is doing something mischievous and he comes in to state the obvious to me because I have glazed over eyes (another of my super powers) and haven’t seen the mischief myself. We can be found with slightly red faces with embarrassment when he states loudly “Why don’t they throw their garbage in the trash where it should go?” He is truly curious why other people don’t follow the rules and says it loud enough that they do.

I love thinking about my children having special abilities. It puts the “having challenges” thing in a different light. The issues are still the same, but we can, as parents look at our “little heroes ” as having qualities that bring light and laughter into our world. Often, these children are the ones that press on in adversity and teach us a few lessons. Lessons on life, and lessons on lightening up when situations seem bleak.

Do you have kids with “special abilities?” I would like to hear about them and celebrate their awesomeness.

Thriving on structure…I’ve got to find ME some of that.

I’ve known for a long time that it was a very real possibility that we would have to pull J-man out of school and home school him full-time. I put off the doing of it because I knew that the decision had implications for the very structure, or lack of it, in our lives. There are other, more important, reasons why we took him out of school but the thought of what it meant for me as a mom to become a teacher and be on top of his education and the structure of it…well, I was happy to leave that up to the teacher at school. I am really distractable so the pressure to segment my time and not have interuptions getting in my way seemed an impossible task.

J-man thrives on structure. Before he could tell time he would ask me “How much longer until…?” or “What time is it?” He would base all of his life around the time on the clock. I just thought of it as a quirky little attribute when he was very young. Being able to tell time has made a world of difference in his world. He no longer has to ask me what time it is but he certainly keeps track of everything in our lives and chats on and on about how much longer it is until…everything. If I have told him something is going to happen, it is very disturbing for him to have that cancelled by weather, sickness or any other reason.

On the very first day of “doing” homeschool, I had him create a schedule for us. We determined what order we would do certain things at. Have we followed it? Ah, some of the time.

The good news is that we are FINISHED Science for the year. Can I have a witness?? Are other moms as excited when they finish a subject in APRIL? So, that leaves us with the other subjects. The subjects that he was doing at school are Math and Language Arts. Oy!  There are the other two reasons we put off Homeschooling until the very last straw. I received the curriculum before Easter Break. I didn’t touch them until after the holiday. I was avoiding it,really . Then the online teacher and I emailed a little discussion about it. Since he was barely passing in school, and it was hard to figure exactly where to start in the books,we decided that it was best to start at the beginning of the courses instead of plunk ourselves somewhere near the end (since it is April). That had me very stressed. The teacher reminded me that it was better for him to actually understand the basic concepts rather than push him ahead of where he was at. I could not argue with it. So, we are starting at the beginning.

I do not like Math and LA, but I am learning right along side my child. I am learning what a subject and predicate are. This is probably a very good thing, since I am writing two books at the moment. I should know the basics of writing too.

My life has not become any more structured in the last few weeks. Our lives are at the very core, scattered. Since my main squeeze is a Pastor, our phone rings at any moment and if I answer it can very well turn our morning into an afternoon. If someone shows up at our house, it sends J-man into an internal panic and his behaviour goes a little nutty. He likes structure, so anything that messes with it can cause him to get in a tizzy. This is an interesting balance to figure out.

We are feeling our way through it. I am relieved to have one subject done, another almost done and then two more that we are starting at the beginning with. Who knows if we will get anywhere near “done” by June. I am trying not to panic about it.

I just want to figure out how to draw boundaries that will ensure our structure a little more predictably.

Life without the Personal Space Bubble

Bent over the white paper of his assignment booklet he grasps his pencil as if his life depended on it. Furrowed brow, mouth hanging open he concentrates on the words he writes, erasing the occasional misspelled word. At school, one of the major issues he faced was with focusing in the classroom setting. At home, he concentrates like a champ in our structured times.

Then, there are the unstructured times. Following me every step of my day is a boy who has no real sense of boundaries and social graces when he is just looking for a friend. During the school day that friend would be, no one else but….me. I am his teacher in those teacher moments, I am his buddy in those non-school moments and I am his mother all those times and the times in between. Being the only child in our Home School of One is a lonely gig, when he’s used to children being everywhere, whether he’s at school or at home. This whole transition of being at home alone all day has been an “interesting” experiment for us both.

I like personal space and boundaries. If there were personal space bubbles that could bounce people out of my personal space when they get too close, I would buy a lifetime’s supply of them. I, without being aware of it, gave up my bubble for the closeness of two children who don’t seem to care that I need a buffer zone. My other two children love affection but they don’t follow me around the house the way the other two do. My oldest and youngest (the ones with challenges) follow me around closer than a shadow. I have to watch that I don’t turn around too fast or I may swing my arm and elbow into them. If I don’t look as I turn, I may trip over them or full-on body check them. Backing up can be tricky, depending on how many are standing in my personal space behind me without me knowing.

personal space
personal space (Photo credit: frankh)

Hugging, touching and wrestling with my children are activities which I look forward to. I love to have them close…for a time. Then, I like them to step back into their personal bubbles and have some time to themselves. Or, at the very least, follow me from a  two foot radius around me.

You can find me snuggling any number of children on my lap or beside me during the day. I’ll play with my girls’ hair or rub another child’s back if they are sitting near me. I don’t mind them being close at all, most of the time.

There was a time last week when I was shopping and I was trying to compare prices and products. It’s one of those situations where I may have to change my direction with my body unpredictably as I move back and forth from product to product or aisle to aisle. I became aware of J-man’s penchant for shadowing me in situations like this. I would tell him “Please, just stay by the cart” but there would be something he HAD to tell me that required him coming inches in front of me while I was trying to read a box and he could not wait for one more second to tell me his important news, such as “Mom, did you see that guy over there? He was wearing a green shirt.” Important stuff here. Glad you told me son. Now, I have to reread the box’s tiny list of ingredients so I can find if any offensive artificial coloring is in it. At which point he is desperate to talk to me about a thing that happened last week when one of his siblings said something or other to him. Speaking to me right in the face is how he makes sure I am paying attention. Not a bad strategy, though it gets rather tiresome for me when he has something to say every 10 seconds.

It started to drive me a bit batty. Especially since he’s been shadowing me at home too. I didn’t notice it when he was in school. But now that he’s home all day, it seems that I need a personal space bubble for me so that he can figure out that he just can’t come up behind me and start talking. It could give his poor momma a heart attack!

I miss my little personal time, as limited as it was. Oh did I ever have any? Really?

He’s not the only one that pops that imaginary bubble of personal space. My little gal does it too.  “Mom, UP!” My five-yr-old cries. Yes, she’s five. Yes, she still requires a lot of Momma’s time and a bucketfull of cuddles everyday.  My sweet child is as big as an 8 yr old giant. Snuggling includes sitting down with her, and not carrying her around like you can do with a small 5 yr old. She also has no awareness of personal boundaries and has been known to hug and kiss her friends at school. Yee haw!  Teachers probably wonder at what I do to make these kids so free of personal space rules.

Since homeschooling J-man I have come to value “me” time. Value? Heck, if I could grab some I would pay a pretty penny for it.

I’m not sure if any other momma’s to special needs kids feel the same way but I need a Personal Space Bubble. If anyone is selling, I’ll buy.

A bubble.
A bubble. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Aspie elevating

Brain cell(s)
Brain cell(s) (Photo credit: jepoirrier)

Not a long post today on what it looks like for my Aspie to get all elevated when stressful times are about to occur or when his routine is messed up.

The imminent departure for us means it gets messy in his brain for him.

*Schedules are upset (though Grandma has awesome ideas)

*Sleep is interrupted because he’s sleeping with a noisy (snoring) brother b/c we are in his room until we leave (biggest bed). He gets it back when we leave so the sleep should be better.

*Sleep deprivation makes the stress of us leaving seem all that worse.

*Focus for more than a nano-second goes to crap

*Incessant talking ramps up

*Eating stops because he’s spaced out and stressed out.

*Lack of food makes him more grumpy. At school it makes him emotional.

*Hand flapping gets noticeable and irritating if you are sitting at the table with him (which sister was and then it got ugly fast)

All of this is very predictable and will be somewhat out of his control, despite usually not having to deal with all the extra Aspie behaviors anymore, until we come back and decompress.

Hoping that he eases back down to stress levels that they can all cope with. Here’s to hoping.

This is why I need the break. Sometimes the extra behaviors drive me wild.

Then again, I’m going to miss my Aspie boy.

 

Getting rid of Artificial Dye

The Food Coloring
The Food Coloring (Photo credit: Matthew Bland)

Yes, it’s the mother of all that is cruel in a child’s life…to take away artificial colorings. Afterall, aren’t those shiny red candies the BEST ones? Isn’t that too-red-for-words juice at the potluck table the only thing that will quench thirst? Even if I did bring a natural juice that tastes BETTER.

Yes, I am a cruel heartless mother who has taken her kids off of dyes. The damage has been done, and my little Aspie thinks it’s the end of the world. He thinks that red dye makes food tastier. Mmm hmmm….

It just may be the end of the world, because the word artificial is on every food label there could be! I haven’t even uttered a word about taking all artificial everything out of our diets yet, but it’s coming. Oh yes, the days is coming.

But let’s deal with the really bad food dyes, shall we? A plethora of research has been done (google it if you want, I don’t have the chutzpah to do it tonight and link it) to show how these food dyes have infiltrated our diets and a ton of foods you would never think would be littered with them, are.

What they cause are behavior issues, to start. This is what I deal with in my family. This is what I will talk about. Artificial food coloring have also been linked to cancer among other things. But behaviors are what I’m talking about.

In our family, we have one Aspie. Aspie children have behaviors that are a little more bizarre than the usual kid on the street. They may say things out of the blue that don’t really have relevance. He may concentrate on a particular subject for YEARS. He may cry after a frustrating go at something. He may be afraid to use the phone because it puts him in an awkward social situation that he can’t predict or script. Sensory issues bring out ticks, uttering that doesn’t make sense or doggie noises. Anxiety is a trigger for a lot of everything.

As he grows older and more mature these behaviors are becoming less and less pronounced overall unless, and I say unless as a foreshadowing…we have food dyes. Yes, I said it. I’ve noticed the difference myself. From a calm, caring, focused (for him), easy to redirect child, comes a hyper, bounce around the house, and impossible to redirect child. He’s bouncy bouncy bouncy. And while this would seem healthy as an exercise, it’s not particularly helpful when trying to complete schoolwork at home. He starts talking NONSTOP. This is a child who is conversational (one-sided, mind you) to a fault. He loves to talk, but after consuming dyes, he is a run-on sentence. Run-on sentences said at a speed no one could track is exhausting to the listener. All this said while bouncing.

We know how to partay! ahem.

then there is my second oldest who, bless her beautiful heart, reacts to Red 40 by becoming  ruthless assassin. She is smart as a whip and beautiful to boot, but infused with that deadly chemical anyone who looks at her the wrong way gets a full throttle beating, if you know what I mean. The claws come out. It gets ugly, fast. This is a recent (last wee and this week) observation as we had Valentines (can we say red and pink candy galore?), then she snuck a red candy yesterday and I figured it out only after a rash of karate moves to unsuspecting victims. Oh, perhaps they had it coming to them at some point, but that was not the case here. I totally called it and she confessed. I had no idea at the time of the exasperated conversation, that I was right, but knew she was eyeballing a candy from her sister’s stash that had RED 40 written all over it’s pretty red flower face. And she had taken that candy despite my earlier “NO!” to her.

So then,  the youngest two. I have just kept them away because we are staying away from it as a family. I am trying to have a healthier menu overall. My third child, has had some behavioral issues in the past, but is coming around nicely. I need to track his behavior when he’s been around the dastardly chemical enhancer. So far, the oldest two have kept me busy when something has been ingested so I’ll have to pay more attention to the younger two.

It is when they have functions at school, church or at friend’s houses that I can’t control what they eat. My one son (ironically, the one that doesn’t seem prone to behavioral outbursts at the time) kept himself from eating any of the food/candy that had dye in it on Valentines, in his class. So proud of him! He may be self-regulating himself that way and that is terrific!

How to keep them away from it for those times when I’m not with them, though. OY!

Any ideas on this from experienced parents?