Tag Archives: Asperger syndrome

Importance of sleep

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This week has been a week that went from extreme quiet to very busy. You know the type of busy that is always with people? Well, that kind makes my boy a special kind of Aspie. SUPER Aspie. Get where I’m going with this? AND he had all sorts of artificial food dyes.

Yesterday, he had a fabulous day with friends. He has a great friend who “gets” him. They are both very similar and get along famously. They played well together all day. At the end of the day (I was taking care of this friend and siblings for the day) as we were having a supper and he just couldn’t take anymore and broke down crying (with me in a private conversation). He told me he was done with all the people. He needed to engage his recharge and retreat method of dealing with TOO MUCH. I let him retreat.

I wasn’t sure how he would handle today as he had Basket Ball and a Sledding party on his schedule. He went sledding with the youth group and they had a great time. Yay!! He told me he had all sorts of pop and junk food which made him so happy. I tried to not nag him about the whole “PLEASE DON’T EAT OR DRINK THINGS THAT ARE PINK/RED!!!” He came home late and Then BAM! The fatigue hit and Jman became a deaf robot. That is typically what happens when he’s DONE like dinner. He walks around the house aimlessly. Tonight, I tried to get him to shower four times. The first time he got into the shower but didn’t actually wash his hair. I told him to go back to do it at LEAST three times. He kept walking off forgetting I had said anything. He tried to give me attitude at this point but it was short-lived and he managed to make it down to wash his hair.

I told him it was time for bed and to go to sleep. I assumed he would fall asleep quickly. I had hoped.

Almost 10pm…2 hours after telling him to go to bed, he was awake and still reading. OH MY why did I assume he was so tired he’d fall asleep without reminder. WRONG Mommy! 🙂 Never assume. I needed the child to do the very thing that his body was begging him to do.

I can say with a certainty, that comes with past experience, that tomorrow could be a very, very hard day for my son. Poor guy. Poor siblings. I hope he is right as sunshine on a cloudy day, but then I have a lot of history that says I’m dreamin’.

Sleep is so integral. SO important for my Aspie kid. It makes all of our lives easier when there is good sleep patterns going on.

It also reminds me to be more careful of when he is out of routine. He needs reminders all the time for everything and I need strategies where he can attain more independence in it. It would lessen the nagging/constant reminding that drives him crazy.

Sleep. Now I need to go and get mine.

 

 

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The Nag or the Friend?

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Since becoming the Home School Mom (of the Year…not) of my Aspie’s life, we’ve had a few ups and downs. I’ve been the teacher extraordinaire, the grumpy teacher, the balanced teacher…the good mom, the evil twin sister mom, the huggy mom…it’s been a mixture of good and the not-so-excellent. Overall, I think we’ve made some progress. I can’t always be the Mom they remember. Teacher Mom gets in there and makes them work. Other times, Fibro Mom lays in bed for a day and tells them to do a few things here and there. I mark their stuff in bed and life goes on.

Lately, I am thinking because of the general state of pubescence, I seem more of a nag to him than usual. Or he’s losing some brain cells to the hormonal surges and I need to remind him more often. All he says he hears me say are things he has to do. He says he cringes when he hears his name because it will never be something fun or positive.

It hurts my heart a little that he perceives our lives like that. Me the Drill sergeant, never the soft mom who listens to his problems/happy talk all the time. He sees me as definitely someone who sucks joy out of his life. I call him back to what he is supposed to do in his life and school and little else. I have to say, I feel the same. I feel we’ve lost a bit of our rapport. It used to be great. I think it’s NORMAL for an almost-teen boy and his mom to not be as close but I still want to have a good relationship with him. How do I change this? How do I make it less him against me?

I should probably read a few books about it. There is probably some very good books on the topic.

A few ideas I’ve prayed about are:

*Taking more time to play with him. I need to play those Wii games I dislike. We always have fun doing it.

*I need to listen more. It’s been easy to gloss over what he’s saying and not really listen. We’ve had great conversations in the past but the kid can talk and there are only so many mine craft convos until I start staring into space. I need to be more aware of what he wants to talk about.

* We need to get out more. Or maybe he needs to. He needs more stimulation than ever. He likes to move, play ball, be with friends. It’s a normal part of his development when friends become important and parents aren’t. I get it. Just who do you trust with your son. We’ve had some interesting things happen to us in this community with “friends” so we are wanting to let him spread his wings, however we still need to be watchful and vigilant in whom he hangs with. I am praying about this one so very much. I want my child to have some really good friends and ones he and we can trust. It’s complicated when he’s an Aspie. He has the ability to make friends (yay) but not the ability to make good judgments when his friends are asking to do something he knows is wrong. Anyways…it’s a tough one.

* We do our best to give as many opportunities as we can to cater to our children’s interests and to keep them just busy enough but not too busy for family. When we home school two and public school two the dynamics of what that means gets complicated. We need him to have more positive interactions. This year he has found basketball difficult but has worked through it tremendously. Still, he thinks he has to do basketball because he has to and I’m praying he can start enjoying it. There are many people on his team with which he could enjoy it with.

* He wants to figure out what his passions are, what his purpose is so that he can plan for the future…what do I want to do with the rest of my life? I pray we can help him see what he is good at because there are so many things.

My sweet, kind, goofy, spirited boy…how I do love him. I pray that we can find a balance in it all as he grows . He was born for a purpose and I know he will find it.

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.

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.

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.

Taking him out of school

Today we made the decision to pull our boy from school.

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It was a big decision but one that has been coming for a long, long time.

Before he even entered school we had entertained thoughts that his differences may make him a target for other children who would not be understanding of his differences. In other words, we pretty much knew bullying could be an issue for him and put him into public school hoping that “the establishment” could help other kids become more compassionate and keep those kids accountable for their actions. We knew that it could be a learning and strengthening thing in is life. That is to a certain point. We know that adversity brings great strength or great chaos into a person’s character. We were committed to helping him be the person of strength. We’re not through on this one, but we see great strides.

That being said, we didn’t know that he would face such drama! His last five years have been filled with situations that have not been something any child should go through. I can’t go through it all as I love the kids that have done and said things to him, and I’m not going to release information that isn’t mine to share. I see their potential as much as I see my son’s. There are some amazing kids in that class but they are also a tough bunch. They are with each other from Kindergarten until they graduate, most of them. It’s a small town. It goes down like that.

When things took a dramatic turn last week in an incident that involved some of his closest friends, who described it as “it’s just a game”….that’s when we knew that our boy had to be kept safe. When close friends, whom he is fiercely loyal to, then betrayed that trust and became a part of the group targeting him, well, the last bell had been rung.

I need to keep my child safe. He doesn’t get all the situations going on. He can’t keep track of all the innuendo and whether they are mocking him this time or not, whether that friend is telling me to do something I shouldn’t? He has too many messages coming at him that are NOT healthy and have scarred his sensitive heart.

HE has been AMAZING in his ability to get through the difficult and sometimes excruciating  “incidents” he’s had to endure. He’s the kind of guy who hates conflict (doesn’t know why they start) and having to work it out. If it is “worked out” (according to the system in place) then he thinks  all is good and everything is right again. When best friends turned on him he didn’t know what to think. He just wanted to be a part of the group and the group excluded him, on many occasions. So much confusion right now.  We needed to take him out of it. Thankfully, he left on a good  note thinking all was well and friends were friends. I am thankful that the powers that be have been committed to try and mend situations as best they can. Some of it is out of their hands and some of it is interpretation of the “law”.

Sure it’s going to be a process. I mean, Me? Teaching Math??? Scary thought. But you know, I am ready to do anything my kids need to help them to be beacons of light in this world. I am prepared to do what it takes to parent each of my children in the ways they need me to. I want my kids to be Brave kids who can tackle what the world throws at them. I believe my son has learned a bit of what the world can throw at him and in the end faced it well. He’s grown so much!

I am proud of him and see him thriving with a homeschooling atmosphere. We can adapt our lives and his education to fit him. I can give him one on one personal attention and introduce him to a different social group. One that I can keep track of personally.

He is going to ROCK it!

But first he’s grieving a change and he’s grieving his change in friendships. Aspies don’t love change and this is a change he is not looking forward to. Eventually, it will just become what we do and everything will get easier and we’ll have a routine/schedule that he’ll get into.

I am so proud of the things I see developing in his life and look forward to bringing the tools to further develop his potential personally.

He doesn’t know

He knows, but he doesn’t know.

There is a boy at school with the same name as my boy. When I met him, I knew. I just knew. I saw it before he even reached out his hand to shake mine. The act of shaking my hand took me by surprise because I knew he was like my son. Like him, but not exactly. I wondered if there was just a sense about the whole thing.

Do other Autism Spectrum Moms just know? I don’t know, because I don’t really know any other moms with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) kids. I do, but I don’t. I should really get to know them better. No one had to tell me that this child was on the spectrum, or on some sort of spectrum.

But he shook my hand, which is strange for an ASD kid, so maybe I was wrong. Maybe my Aspie Mom sense was all tingly for nothing.

Then there was this one day when my boy said “This kid is really weird. He does strange things and is just really weird.” I almost snorted coffee right up to my brain, but suppressed it. My Aspie son was making social judgement on another ASD (at least in my head) child.

How do you tell your Aspie child that he’s weird too?

You don’t.

“Why is that kid so weird?” He asks me.

Um, uh, “I gotta go to the bathroom” I said and in my head continued …”and hopefully you’ll forget that you asked that question.”

Just how do you explain it? I mean, I tried. I told him kids are different and we are all valuable even if we do things differently than others. I told him that some people have disabilities you can’t see but affect the brain and that makes them act different and not process things like others. Inside my head voice continued, “Like you.”

I’ve just never really seen him as weird or different or disabled. I’ve never talked to him about being disabled or special needs. I know that others see him differently and with these labels. In fact, I pursued a label to get him help, but I don’t see him that way…not really. Having a diagnosis helps me understand his behaviors like never before. I like knowing what we are dealing with and how to help him thrive in this world. I  have never had the right words to say “Hey son, other people see you as ____.” I have told him that he has “Aspergers Syndrome” and what that kind of means. Really, how do you explain that to a child who thinks he’s “normal”? He just wants to be like everyone else.

I see my son as having a kind heart that bleeds with sensitivity. He loathes to see anyone hurt, whether it be human, animal or insect. He won’t even throw a spider outside on a cold day. Oh no. He’d rather keep them safe in a plastic container in the basement room with him, only to have me find it months later…*shiver* The value he places on life is a beautiful thing, though.

He’s been asking deep, introspective questions since he could form sentences. He asked me why God let bad things happen when he was three years old. What three-year old child asks that? That scratches the surface of questions he would ask and I would have no clue about how to answer them in a way that would make sense to a small child. He would often have me stumped. I’m happy that he is at an age where he can understand many more concepts and it is easier to answer those questions.

My son is a child that will go to great lengths to help and please his parents and friends. His willingness to do things when asked (as long as it’s not school related) is a shining beacon to those around him. This is a beautiful thing when you need him to do the dishes, but can be a harmful characteristic when friends start to influence.

Some people may see my son as obsessive, but I think that he just has focused interests. So what if he can’t think of anything besides Star Wars for three years straight. I’m ok with the fact that every spring he gets excited about looking for insects to take care of and love and try to take inside. I’ve become ok with it, and he’s become ok that the insects stay outside. Every fall we deal with the disappointment that the frost brings. No more insects to love and inspect except those little beetles and spiders that just won’t die when they find their way inside.

But how do you explain an invisible disability to a child who is so incredibly able to do so much?

We talk about strengths and weaknesses. We all have them. When he struggles I relate to him in the struggle and give him examples of those who have overcome to do great things. When his strengths stand out, we are quick to encourage him in them. Like the bug thing.

He doesn’t know. So how do we tell him? Do we have to?