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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

I Can't Do This

Do you ever have those moments when you think ...I just can't do this anymore? I can't take another step forward. I don't know what else to do. I got nothing left! Yeah. Me too. 

Last night I went to bed feeling defeated …like giving up. I just can’t not do this job anymore. I quit. There is nothing left in my bag of tricks. I’m usually pretty resourceful and intuitive when it comes to figuring out what my kids need, but I’m fresh out of ideas. In fact, I have too many ideas and can’t seem to make any concrete decisions. I'm dazed and confused. I just don’t feel like I have it within me to make another decision about another person’s life. 

Red is afraid of failure. 
I’m afraid of him failing. 
I know that he needs support. 
I’m afraid to let go of control. 
I’m afraid that he will blame me when the shit all hits the fan. 
“You forced me into this, now look whats happened,” he’ll say. 

Well, what’s new? He blames me for everything that’s ever gone wrong in his life and gives me no credit for anything good that has ever happened.  

The truth is the child is no longer a child. He can only be guided. We can push …but he can push back. He has legal rights now whatever the f*#& that means. Yes. I know we could go for guardianship. Of course, we would have to prove incapacity. There are definite pros and many cons. For now, we have Power of Attorney so that we can help guide him. 

I can get together all the resources in the world, but he actually has to want them and accept them, and he is as stubborn as hell! He may not be smart enough to know exactly what to do, or how to get everything done, but he is damn sure smart enough to figure out how to get out of doing whatever he doesn’t want to do. He’s an expert at finding a backdoor -another way out. 

The straw that led to my feeling of hopelessness last night was the fact that hubby left to go to Dallas for business. That gave Red the idea that he had free rein to wreak havoc in the house. He was the prickly needle who poked and prodded at Blue until he blew. It doesn’t take much, because Blue has zero tolerance or patience when it comes to his brother’s annoyances. The fighting between them is indeed a two-way street. The difference is, Blue doesn’t fight with his brother for pure entertainment of it. He’s usually trying to make a point or teach his big brother something. They are always trying to prove the other one wrong. The argument usually turns into someone knocking someone upside the head. 

I had to pull out the crazy black woman on their asses after hubby left. I was simply in no mood. Every once in a while, I have to make them think I have completely lost my mind, so they will stop the non-sense in their tracks. Yes...this little five foot, nothing woman threatened to pull out a can of whoop-ass and start swinging their father’s belt in any which direction where there was a teenager in close proximity. If you don’t move…you lose. You best believe they took their butts directly to their prospective rooms. 

Afterwards, I was the one who felt just whipped. I'm just so tired of the fights. All of them. I'm a lover not a fighter.
Unfortunately, I live in a houseful of mens, and mens love to fight. *In my Sophia from "The Color Purple" voice.

Before I could crack my eyes open this morning, Red is knocking at my door. I couldn't believe it. He usually does not get up that early. I tried to ignore it, but it got louder. When I didn’t get up to let him in, he starts rattling the door and pushing it. He was getting so loud, in comes little brother who hates to see him hassling me. So again, World War Three is about to break out at 7 o'clock in the freakin morning! Did I say my eyes were barely open? 

On the way to school Blue says to me, “How much longer do we have to live like this? I want you to know, I’m not fighting with him on purpose just to upset you. I just can’t take the way he treats all of us anymore. He changes me. I’m different when I’m around him. I don’t feel like this around any other person.” I have to say, I feel the same way. I love Red and I have more patience for him than anyone else on this earth, but that doesn’t seem to matter anymore. I can't give him enough. He appreciates nothing. Nothing I do, makes his behavior any better.

When I get home, I'm sitting in my car as I do most mornings, in a stupor. I text my husband, “I’m done. I can’t do this anymore. You’re going to have to handle him.” 

Moments later, Red pulls away with Transportation services. I realize he will be home again in just a couple of hours. He only has class today and nothing else. I literally cannot take it. I cannot have him here all day. And why should I have to leave my own house to avoid him? 

It hits me. Call the high school and talk to Mr. M. to see if Red can come volunteer in his class this afternoon. Mr. M. runs the class for kids with special abilities at Red's old high school. Red used to volunteer in there before he graduated. Thank God Mr. M. agrees to have him come. I arrange to have Red dropped off there by transportation, so he can’t come home and refuse to go.  

Hours pass. I don't hear from him and I am so thankful. I had enough time to get my head together to think about my next moves for him and do some research. Then, I actually took a break from thinking about his crap, showered, washed my hair and had a Stevie Wonder, Pandora station dance party. I can sing just like him you know ...in my shower anyway. 

The phone rings. It’s Red.

“You know you were right Mom. This was a really good idea to structure my time doing something positive. I feel much better now that I’m here helping the kids and thinking about someone other than myself.”
Um ...who the hell is this and what have you done with my kid? 

Well, holy crap! This boy is definitely a great smooth talker. He certainly knows the right thing to say. He gets that from his dad. Now, if he could only actually DO some of the right things on a regular basis, he may just get to live to see the age of 20. 

During this conversation he was so lucid, it was a little strange. He also agreed that it’s a good idea to look at group homes until we find the right fit. He said, “I have to keep structuring my time so that I stay busy until we find the right place because I don’t want you to kick me out and I end up in a shelter. The food would probably be horrible there.” 

I’ll believe it when I see it actually happen. In the meantime, I think I’ll have him put that all in writing. And I definitely know my next move. 

The moral of this story ...just when you're about to give up. Don't. Or maybe you should give up as in, stop doing everything for them. The answers are coming. They may just be his to figure out. Sooner or later they have to own their own shit. 

It's our job to lay the ground work. The foundation we laid will pay off. 

Remain hopeful...

Friday, February 27, 2015

Pimp Slapped

I woke up this morning thinking, Wow! I thought the worst part was over. We made it through middle school. We made it through high school.  It was torture for him.  It was torture for me. It was torture for his teachers and administrators, but we made it!

I thought for sure the worst was behind us, but the reality of transition to adulthood has really just pimped slapped me in the face. Bam! This kid is kicking and screaming to hold on to childhood and it's just wearing me out.

According to Wiktionary.org this is the definition of pimp slap, in case you're not familiar.

  1. (slang, vulgar) A powerful slap to the face;[1]  [quotations ▼]

Usage notes[edit]

  • For some English speakers, there is a distinction between a pimp slap and a bitch slap, in which a pimp slap is backhanded (delivered with the back of the hand), while a bitch slap is openhanded (delivered with the palm of the hand). For most speakers, however, the two terms are synonymous, referring equally to either kind of slap.

Pimp slapping is carefully demonstrated here.

I sat in a meeting with his Job Coach, his Occupational Therapist, his Transition Teacher, the Transition Coordinator for the school district, myself and his father yesterday to discuss his goals for his annual I.E.P.  He sat there with this scowl on his face like we were all there to persecute him instead of help him. He balked, and disagreed with every suggestion and offer of support. 

I'm like wow! All of these people are gathered here to help you darlin', not hurt you! We all want nothing but the best for you. But the bottom line is you have to want this for yourself! We can't want it for you! 

We left that meeting after almost 2 hours and went to an appointment with his doctor. He ended up yelling at me in front of her, right there, in her office. She was quite disturbed ...shocked even. I was like, Honey, this is normal. This is just an average day. 

We had a third meeting scheduled after that appointment. This one was Person Centered Planning, another group of mentors getting together to help him work on short-term goals. I knew he wouldn't make it through that meeting without exploding. I had him contact his facilitator to postpone it. 

When we got home, I got him to settle down, take a shower and relax a bit. We walked through some of the scenarios discussed during the day. He was able to come to terms with a few things and actually took some action.  He actually contacted his job to open up his schedule with more availability for work. The busier he is, the less time he has to get into trouble. 

That's just one of the changes that we are about to implement for him. 

By the time I hit my bed last night, I definitely felt like I had been pimp slapped followed by a swift kick in the a**! 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Today this happened...

"Oh crap!" I thought to myself when I got the phone call. When there is even the possibility of ice on the ground the world stops in Austin. Today was a 2 hour delay because we were below freezing and their was a little precipitation.  For Red's adult transition program, this would mean NO CLASS today.  

To top it off, I have to drive him to therapy. It's gray. It's cloudy. This is going to be hell. Or so I thought. 

Then this happened...

While I was having my coffee and avoiding contact with Red, he posted a status on Facebook to the attention of close friends and family. 

"I've been feeling really guilty lately because haven't been living the true Christian life like I'm supposed to. I haven't been reading my bible. I haven't been praying that often. I honestly haven't been paying attention in church. I haven't been excited and on fire for God like I was when I got out of church camp. I feel like I'm starting not to care as much about anything but myself. And that is not good. 

I've been a selfish arrogant fool to my loved ones and those who care about me. I don't know what is real anymore. Sometimes there are days where I don't want to believe in anything but I can't let Satan win. I just hope that I never loose my faith because sometimes I feel like he's not there. The faith is still there and I just need to grow my faith and trust God and the people he has put in my life. 

I've been struggling a lot at home and it's been getting worse and worse. It's getting to the point where I can't live there anymore. My parents are about to kick me out the house and I cannot let that happen. I've disappointed a lot of people. I have a lot of apologies to make. 

Usually, life takes more than it gives. To my family members and loved ones, I apologize for my arrogance and rudeness over the past few months but all I'm asking for is forgiveness. To anyone who is reading this, I'm asking for your prayers for me and my family. Thank you for your acceptance and forgiveness over my blunders. I love you guys so much." 

*Reposted with his permission. 

To which I replied, 

"You are an excellent writer son. You should stop being afraid to take college classes. I think you could do great. You seem to have your mother's talent for writing.  Now if you could only live this. You're living your life in fear instead of trusting God's plan for your life. 

By the way ...we don't want apologies. We get apologies all the time. We want progress. We want you to stop fighting against all of the help that you have in your life. We want to be treated with dignity and respect. This writing and self-reflection is great, but action is much better."

Now I don't know how much of this is real. What is scripted thought he's picked up from a song, or what he's heard someone say, but I don't care. It is a step in the right direction. And today was a good day. 

The Lesson I learned? 

Just because the ingredients are present, don't always assume it's going to be a recipe for the worse day ever. Be hopeful ...optimistic. You just may end up with chocolate chip cookies. 

Does that make any sense? Sorry. I have cookies on the brain. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Blue 16

Dear Blue,

Sixteen years ago your unique, little soul came into my life. You were an easy, breezy baby. Curious by nature and naturally independent. You started trying to walk when you were 8 months old. You were successfully running by the time you were 10 months.  As soon as you started to get around, you were wrestling with your big brother.  I remember thinking, who taught this baby to do a headlock? 

You were a messy toddler, always climbing and getting into everything. You had an affinity for getting into things like lotion and baby powder. You once massaged my bedroom carpet with Vaseline. You were always climbing onto the counters and into my cabinets.  One time you climbed the pantry shelves and spilled the cooking oil all over the floor.

I always felt like an angel with wings followed you around because for all of your climbing, you never got hurt. One of the reasons you climbed is because, you did not want to ask for what you wanted. You wanted to get it yourself!

At 18 months, we moved up here to Austin and bought our first home. We put a gate on the stairwell to keep you safe upstairs, especially since you started climbing out of your baby bed.  I will never forget the day, you came to my room with a box of cereal. You had climbed over the gate, walked down the stairs,  climbed up to the top shelf of the pantry to get the cereal and then climbed back down. Then you climbed up the stairs cereal in tow, back over the gate and strolled into my room to wake me up.

Notice, you didn't wake me up to get the cereal for you! And that still hasn't changed. You continue to find your way through life.  No matter how much I want to and try to help you, you pretty much want to do most things on your own.  That quality will serve you well throughout your life.

You have always been a deep thinker, asking me questions about things that I've never even thought about. You have always had a strong interest in science and weather. You could be found, talking about politics while on the playground or in the swimming pool instead of playing. I remember once saying the words, "Stop talking about politics and go swim!" That was the year that President Obama was running for President. You and your best friend J, had some pretty interesting debates about that election.

That brings me to another point, despite your social challenges caused by autism, you have managed to connect to friends so deeply, that those friends remain in your life to this day.  You met the twins in pre-school. You all were 3 years-old.  Your friendship flourished over the years and in middle school it seemed to really take off.  Here we are 13 years later and you guys are still hanging. You're like brothers. And even through some challenging times in your lives, you guys have been there for each other, forgiven each other and continued to grow your relationship.

You met J. in the 3rd grade when you guys shared a class.  You advocated to help transport J. in his wheelchair to lunch and other activities.  Thankfully, he is stronger now and no longer needs to be pushed in a wheelchair. Even though the two of you are not in the same school anymore, you have remained close while going to different middle and high schools.  You made the effort to continue to call and make social plans with him on the weekends and throughout the summer. That speaks highly of your character.

You were always so different than your brother so for the longest, you went without a proper diagnosis. I knew that you had strong opinions and you really challenged some of your teachers. You were also insightful. In first grade you told me that your teacher didn't like you. That she never smiled at any of the boys in class.  She and I had to have a few chats and then I had to chat with her boss, the principal. By the end of the school year, you guys were pals. I saw her a few years later and she said, she still has your picture on her desk.

You frustrated the hell out of your 5th grade teacher. It was his first year teaching and you challenged him often. Because of course, you knew more than he did.

It was the years of fear and anxiety over thunderstorms that got me really worried about you. Do you remember hiding sometimes for days at a time, when there was even a threat of storms? By that time, your brother had been diagnosed with autism and though you were very different, I started to see some erie similarities.  I followed my instincts and had an evaluation.  We found that you too were on the spectrum.  It answered so many questions and it seemed to give you a sense of relief.  You wanted to read as much as you could about it so that you could understand why you felt so different.

You have made so much progress since then. The years of middle school that you found so daunting in the beginning, had you soaring through by the end. The fears and anxiety subsided tremendously! You began taking some advanced classes.  You started learning how to advocate for yourself with your teachers. By the time high school rolled around, you were ahead of the game having high school Spanish and Algebra under your belt.

The first year of high school was tough! But look at you now! You have started your very own club at school.  It has flourished to include those who just don't feel comfortable anywhere else ...whether they're on the spectrum, have ADHD or they just feel different. You include them and make them all feel that they are important.

You've built relationships with a number of mentors.  You seek out your natural supports and problem solve on your own! You are self-aware and set goals for yourself to work on your social skills.  You are your own advocate. No one has to tell you how to improve your life. You see something you want to change and you figure out a way to get it done. Many adults can't or won't even do that!

I know that you hate to hear the words, "You're so smart!" So I won't say that. I will say, that you demonstrate the skills of a young man who will definitely become a successful adult.

We have our moments of wanting to probably punch each other, or at least give each other a good smack upside the head.  You think you know so much more than I do, so that gets on my nerves. I know that my constant humor gets on your nerves, but it has helped you develop your own sense of humor.

Really son, I could not be more proud of the young man that you have become  and I can wait to see the adult that I know you will be.

Happy 16th Birthday!

I love you!

Mom

If Blue's story has inspired you over the years, please tell him how below. It can be your birthday gift to him. He also likes cash.

*Blue's birthday was actually February 17th. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

I Got This

He didn't come home on the bus. He didn't call to say he was staying after school. He was just a no show. When I called to find out where he was he said,

"I'm sorry. I forgot to call you. I was upset. I got verbally attacked today by this girl."

Turns out he stayed after to process through what happened with his Computer Science, teacher Mr. M., who also just happens to have Aspergers.

As many with Aspergers, Blue has a tendency to debate with people ...a lot. His views are almost always oppositional from the mainstream. He hates modern pop music! Rap music is disgusting in his view. Today's artists are not really talented. They all use autotune and sing about nothing important.

We live in Texas where football is everything. To him, football is a pointless game and all jocks are assholes.  Don't even bring up Country & Western music.  This is just a small sampling of how he thinks.

He's also a bit of a police officer of right and wrong and must inform everyone when they are wrong. It doesn't matter who it is -a teacher, another student, a good friend, a parent. We're all equal opportunity ignoramuses.

A certain girl who happens to be in a number of his classes, has the need to call him out ...often, on his oppositional views.  She just can't stand his argumentative ways and she feels the need to constantly attempt to put him in his place.  As I've told him in the past, who knows what her issues are. I'm sure she has some.

On this particular day, this young lady (and I used the term lady loosely) went off on an entire rant  about Blue in front of their whole Computer Science class, after Blue disagreed with the teacher.  The girl was not involved in the conversation.  The teacher was not offended, but she was.

When he came home, he was still pretty livid. As we approached bedtime he started to spin himself up about what had happened. "She's just a real b*tch! I hate her! And what's worse is she's smarter than me. Her class ranking in higher! She doesn't even work hard. Everything just happens naturally for her."

In the middle of his spin-up, in walks Red, the perfect target to dump his anger on. Before I know it, he's shouting at his brother,  Red posts up like Mr. Toughguy and the two of them are wrestling on the floor.  The same thing happens the following morning before school. These two big-ass boys are talking crap to each other, wrestling and they toss each other onto my couch! They're lucky it didn't just snap.
"I don't want to go to school!" Blue shouts.
I haven't heard that one yet this year.
"I don't want to have to deal with these kids! They think I'm stupid!"

On our way to school in the car, I suggest that he talk to a counselor or a Vice Principal about this ongoing issue with the peer.  If the girl is making him feel uncomfortable and not want to come to school because of behaviors that have to do with his autism, he needs to let someone in authority talk to her and tell her to mind her own business.

He yells, at me! "I can't do that! That won't help! You don't understand! I get on her nerves too! She will say that I can't mind my own business!"

I give several suggestions as to how he could remedy the situation. All are met with, "You don't get it mom! I know what I need to do."

I get back home and e-mail his Case Manager letting him in on what's going on. Blue told me he wouldn't be able to talk to him, because he had a class that morning. I was concerned because the girl would be in his second period class.

No sooner than I sent the e-mail, my phone rings. It's Blue. "I'm just checking in to let you know I have the matter resolved. I had a sit down conversation with the other student and my Computer Science teacher. We explained Aspergers to her and now she gets it. And it turns out she doesn't hate me."

Scratch the record! There was no reason for me to get involved. He's got this. He is going to be 16 years-old next week.  He is his own advocate. He doesn't need his mommy getting involved to solve his problems. Lesson learned.

Dear Mom,

Please mind your own business.
Within moments of him making me feel like an idiot, for trying to come to his rescue when he doesn't need me to --I get a text from his brother. "Mom I forgot my medicine can you bring it to me at the Community College?"

"Um no. Your medicine is your responsibility. Instead of playing with the dog this morning, you should have been taking care of your business. You will have to survive without it."

I'm learning!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Hours

Guest post by Angie Craft


I don't regret any of my youthful
indiscretions
and adventures
and heartbreaks
that occurred before the age of 36, when my husband and son found me
The hours 
and hours
and hours
in college
the hours
and hours 
and hours 
at work
because at least I have memories of when I used to be a "real" person with
income 
and interests 
and a social life
Now, when I feel like a burnt out shell of a human that exists on routine and caffeine, 
I can drift off to my memories 
and remember how it used to be
When I was an educated 
social 
working 
"go getter"
When that grass gets too green, 
I remember the deep hole of loneliness that work couldn't fill
The longing for something more
And I don't miss the restless lack of purpose
The hours 
and hours
and hours
of boredom
The hours
and hours
and hours
of loneliness
because at least, now, I have real love in my life
It's no longer pretty, sweet, warm fuzzy love
but in
small
     bits
          and 
              drips
I see that little boy who won my heart years ago
And I remember
that same little boy
is now a young man on the brink of adulthood
experiencing
The hours 
and hours
of heartbreaks
The hours
and hours
of loneliness
He is not having 
youthful indiscretions 
adventures
and social outings
He likely won't go 
To college
Or work 
50. hour. weeks.
I remember this burnt out shell of a person that I am 
is what keeps him from completely giving up every day
So I drift to the memories
drink the caffeine
start the routine
And continue living
The hours
and hours 
and hours
And hours.....


Angie Craft -is a married, full-time step mom of a 16 year old son with autism and a few other diagnosis along for the ride. She is a Mental Health Social Worker on hiatus. Now using her skills and talents to advocate for her son. She is a lover of comedy, coffee, conversation and cats. 

Editorial Note: I read this and was instantly captivated by her words. She is me and so many of you. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Check Please!

Once upon a time, I could never imagine what happened yesterday. Blue started out like many with autism being a very, anxious, picky eater. So picky in fact, it was difficult for him to be around other people who were eating what he deemed to be "disgusting food," with all of the colors and smells that came along with it. Throughout most of elementary school, he had a little office set up for the cafeteria, which was a three panel cardboard file that he would sit in front of him, blocking his front and peripheral view, so that he could sit at the end of the table, alone, to eat his hand packed lunch, while blocking out the sensory input from what everyone else was eating. He did not care about socializing during lunch. He just wanted to eat and get out of that cafeteria as soon as possible. 

Cut to today, age soon to be 16, he has become a real foodie. His palate suddenly opened up when he hit middle school. This may or may not have had anything to do with the fact that he started taking medication for his anxiety. Now, he is willing to try anything! He loves to go to restaurants. In fact, he would eat almost every meal out, if we would let him. Although, he also cooks quite a bit here at home and not just for himself. He will make breakfast for the entire family. He has a good, balanced diet which includes many fruits and vegetables, even salads. Unlike his 19 year-old brother who is still pretty stuck on just a few basic, very plain, very boring foods. 

So, there’s a little cafe around the corner from our house. It has Cafe in the name, but I think that’s just a nicer word for diner in this case. Blue went there with his dad for breakfast one day last week. He obviously enjoyed it, because yesterday he woke up and decided that he wanted to go back. This time, he didn’t feel like he needed me, his dad or anyone to go with him. 

Yep! So he took a shower, got dressed, headed out around the corner, down two blocks and across a major intersection (with no stoplight) to have breakfast in a restaurant …alone! I don’t think I dined in a restaurant alone, where there were actual waitresses who took your order and you had to leave a tip until I was in my twenties! 

He ordered. Ate. Paid his bill, left a 15 percent tip and then walked back home (back across that major intersection). Alone! Like a boss! Major accomplishment! Big. Huge! And yes, I am proud!  


There is hope people! Never give up! I’m even still hopeful that someday, Red will actually eat a more balanced diet. Hopefully, that will come when he has a wife to boss him around and tell him what to do.