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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Dear God, Thank You (redeaux)

Editorial Note: This is a previously published post from September of this year.  It continues to be appropriate. We are not where I want to be, but I continue to be grateful for small blessings. 

Dear God,

I wrote you not to long ago asking the question, "Seriously? You think I can handle this?"  Well...obviously you were listening.  I was so stressed out then.  Red was extremely depressed and already having issues at school.  Being around all of that negative energy was weighing on me heavily, zapping my energy and bringing me down...way down.

So Lord, I want you to know that I appreciate all of the blessings you have given me in the past few weeks.  We tweaked Red's meds again...a process I find extremely excruciating.  I just loathe the fact that he has to take these medications.  However...things are so much better!  Thank you for giving me the strength to hang in there and not give up on the process.  Thank you for helping him to feel better.  Thank you for turning him back into the boy that I always knew was in there somewhere.

Thank you for his new school and all of the staff that work tirelessly to help him, even when he acts like he doesn't want any help.  Thank you especially for his social skills class and teacher who he relates to and actually listens to.  

He still has his rough moments, but he reigns it back in quickly, seeing the error of his ways.  He is taking responsibility for himself...getting up with his alarm clock (mostly),taking his showers daily (without argument) getting ready for school on time every day (most days), doing homework on his own, attempting to change his diet.  Last night for dinner he ate chicken breast, wild rice, and corn.  He asked for seconds!  He's eating spinach salad.  I don't take these things for granted.  I am thankful.

He had a successful birthday party, where he socialized and really enjoyed himself...WITH FRIENDS.  A year ago I asked you to send him just one good friend.  You did that.  He is still working on the friendships at school, and even that is in the works.  I ask you to continue to work with him on that.  He is trying to join the wrestling team...I pray that works out for him.  I pray that will give him some connection at school...something to be happy about.  I pray that it will help him to look better, feel better and get healthier, physically and mentally.

I am thankful that both boys can now sit down to the table together and have breakfast and dinner without constantly picking at each other (most days).  A year ago, even a few months ago...this simple thing was not possible.  I am thankful that both boys, now pray, with regularity and without prompting.  Red is going to church with a friend, un-prompted by us.

I am thankful for how well Blue is continues to develop friendships, that he is conquering the overwhelming homework and making excellent grades.  Middle school is no longer a place that causes him grief...but he loves to be there (most days).  He loves learning and the routine of it all.  He is already thinking about college and what it will take to get there.  That is a HUGE blessing! I am thankful that his pallet continues to grow and that he is so adventurous with food, vegetables and fruit!

We still have lots of areas to work on and continued blessings to ask for.  Today, there are just so many baby blessings in our lives, I will reserve requests for more blessings for later...knowing that in your time...you will give them to us.

You may not come exactly when I call...but you always show up on time.  Thank you...

p.s.  I take that back...I will ask that you bless all of my autism moms, dads and their children.  Give them hope.  Things will never be perfect, but they will get better.  I am thankful for everyone of them who reads this blog and participates in my "Confessions" Facebook community.  They bless me daily...

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Hiccup

Well we've cursed out our first teacher at the new high school.  He is sitting in his IPC (science) class, supposed to be taking notes.  He is falling behind, loosing his place when the Aid gently reminds him to get back on task.

I wasn't there...and I'm sure that Red can not give me an accurate instant replay, but basically he snapped.  The Aid asked him to step outside where Red proceeded to tell him that he is, "Always starting shit!" among other choice words I'm sure.  He says the only word he knows he didn't use for sure is the F-word.  Isn't that lovely? He so reserved!  

The funny thing is...or maybe it's not so funny.  He came straight home and told me, "I cursed Mr. A. out today." Very matter-of-fact...not sounding upset or ashamed in anyway.  Back in the day, my parents would have had to find that one out on their own!  (Not that I would EVER curse a teacher out...but if I did anything close to that, they would have to get a phone call from the school before they would here about it from me!)

I can only imagine that the guy is trying to keep him on task, just like I do in the mornings when he's spacing...time is elapsing and he doesn't realize it.  When I ever-so-gently remind him... he snaps! "WHAT! I'm coming mom!  You don't have to keep reminding me!  I'm not going to be late!"  Should I give him credit for not cursing at me? .... Nah! 

Unfortunately, he has a history with this Aid.  Back in 8th grade, he worked with him and found himself in a situation where he was physically restrained.  Again...I wasn't there, and can not say for sure exactly what happened.  But it was a traumatic event for Red.  In his mind...it was completely uncalled for.   The story I got was that he was trying to leave the room in an attempt to confront another student.  Red does not remember it that way.  It's difficult to say what the truth is. The school could be covering their asses with their version of events.  Whatever the case may be, Red has never been violent and did not feel the restraint was called for.  Residual anger still lingers deep within him towards this Aid.   

The two of them take their argument down to Red's tracking teacher, lets call him Mr. C., a very calm soft-spoken,  older gentleman.  He has years of experience working with kids like Red in different settings.  They talk it out and come to a resolution, which Red seems pleased with by the time he gets home in the afternoon.  Later in the evening...he goes back to being angry again.  He really does not want to have to work with this man..at all!   

I can't always fix things for him.  There are going to be authority figures in his life that he does not like.  There are going to be bosses and other employees who will be complete assholes or rub him the wrong way.  "That doesn't mean you can blow up and curse them out.  "You will be F-I-R-E-D!"  I tell him.  You have to think about the long term goal.  In school, it is..."I need to get my education and this guy is helping me, even though I don't like him."  At work it will be, "I need my paycheck even though my boss is an ass."  You can't just bail or explode.  
"How am I supposed to remember that?" he asks me. I wish I had an answer.  I know this is so much easier said than done.  I have remember that a lot of these common sense theories are completely foreign to him.  

Of course, I worry that he will never get this.  I worry that he will never get beyond the anger and explosiveness.  Will it get better with time and maturity?  Whenever things get difficult...will he resort back to it?  How will he ever survive in this world that does not cater, crack and make exceptions for his disability.  There are no loving mother's arms to fall into...to come in and advocate for you out there in the cold, hard world that he will be entering into sometime in the not-so-distant-future.  

How is he going to make it? 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Dear Diary

Editorial Note:

This is a rant that I wrote while under the influence of a virus which, made me extremely tired and not exactly coherent.  It may not make any sense...you have been warned.

It started last night after I ate the most delicious salad that my mom made for me...this queasy feeling in my tummy.  I knew something was really wrong when I couldn't finish my glass of wine.  Pouring wine down the drain is a sin in my house.  I had to kick Red out of my room (he was on a talking rant)...I wasn't in the mood.  I tell him I'm tired...I want to go to bed.   I can not finish playing words with friends...I am too overcome by sleepiness.  Lights out...

I wake up kind of disoriented and more achy than usual.  It dawns on me...I have a meeting this morning at 8:30. Crap!  Well, actually it's kind of good that I don't have to rush Red out the door for the bitchy bus driver he's decided that he doesn't like.  He's not the first person to tell me this woman is rude.  What she is doing driving a special education bus is beyond me.  Anywhoo...though I'm feeling like crap, I have put my face on and soldier on to do my mommy duties.

This meeting is a brief ARD/IEP meeting at Red's school.  He's only been there 3 weeks and they already want to tweak his goals based on the Red that we are seeing in this new environment.  I really hate to count my chickens...but this is the best I've seen him in years!!!  The meeting goes well.  I meet more of his team members.  I am duly impressed with his Social Skills teacher.  He's a guy...around 32 years-old and he really seems to know his stuff.  He asked me to e-mail him if there is anything I want him to work on with Red pertaining to social skills at home.  Wow! Absolutely incredible!

I leave the meeting...go grab Subway for Red's lunch and drop it back off to the school.  Bad mommy was feeling too crappy to go to the grocery store last night.  Honestly...I don't feel like going today either.  I come home and have no incentive or energy to write a damn thing.  Instead I take a nap...that is until it's time to take my mom to her hair appointment, the bank and the wine store.  It's payday for  seniors today.  Time to buy that wine supply!

As I'm pulling in the driveway, my cell rings.  It's the high-school.  I don't panic...exactly.  It's Red sounding peppier than he did when I left him this morning.  "Mom, can you take me to get a haircut.  My hair is way too long."
"Sorry son.  I'm not feeling well."
"What do you mean? What's wrong with you?"
"My stomach is kind of upset."
"You don't sOUNd sick."
"Well...I am."
I know this conversation isn't over by a long shot.

I end up taking them for haircuts, to get dinner and then drop Blue at the library, while I run to the grocery store.  There must be lunch supplies for the following day.  As I'm walking through the grocery store...it hits me.  I am sick.  The more I move, the more my stomach churns and my head feels lighter. What the heck am I doing walking around the grocery store?

There are so many details that I take care of on a daily basis.  I am the personal assistant of 4 people, running all of the details of their lives.  I haven't been sick in so long, I think I've forgotten how to
completely stop and take care of myself.  I mean who's going to take care of the details if I don't.  I have spoiled them all.

I definitely should have read the employee manual before I took this job.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Box of Chocolates

I am outside in my garden pulling weeds and pruning on Sunday morning.  I am enjoying the cool, Fall air and trying my best to stay away from my family.  You know...so close...yet not far enough.  Every last one of them, besides my mother, have trampled all over my last nerve in the past 24 hours.

So you could have knocked me over with a feather when Red walks out the door wearing sports attire and IPod sports-band.
"I'm going for a walk," he announces.
There has been no prompting from me...at least not this morning.  I had suggested the night before when he was in a bit of a funky mood to go walk it off.  The little park we have around the corner from the house has recently installed a walking track made of crushed granite.  His excuse for not exercising is that I don't take him to the Y often enough.  Then there is the excuse of not walking in the neighborhood because of the cats may come up to him.  Whatever that's about...

He walks a total of 8 laps...ON HIS OWN, and by this time, it isn't exactly cool outside.  There is no shade on this track.  I am so proud of him!
"I'm going to loose this weight.  You have to stay on me mom!  Even when I'm mad...especially when I'm mad, because walking will make me feel better.  You have to make me do it!"
The irony there is that when he's mad...even when he isn't...I can't MAKE him do anything unless I threaten him with bodily harm.  With me being 5 foot nothing and about 100 pounds lighter than him, that doesn't really go very far. In fact, it usually just makes him even more angry.

We spend the day together.  I take him and his friend to the airport to go plane spotting.  The day is relatively pleasant other than a brief screaming match over my asking him to turn the sound down on the radio in MY car, which has me questioning why the heck I am spending my Sunday with him in the first place.

On our way back home,  his friend is starving and wants Subway.  Red gets ice cream from Baskin Robbins, next door.  His reasoning is that he doesn't want to have more than one soda per day.  (Yeah...ice cream is so much better!)  When we get home, he asks me  if I would like to go back out to walk so that he can burn off those calories.  Wow!

We walk 4 laps...in the dark.

Life with Aspergers is like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you're gonna get.

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

I Think I'm In Love

"This may be a little premature but...I think I love you."

The phone rings and I see  on the caller I.D. that it's the high school calling.   I don't panic this time.  Somehow, I know there is nothing wrong...that perhaps even, something is right.  This is a huge change from the way that things have been over the past several years when it comes to school and Red.  My usual response when I see the school on the caller I.D. is heart racing, head spinning, veins tightening...Oh crap what is it now?!

It's the Special Education Director on the end of the line.  I am happy to hear from her.  With a very kind, sincere voice she begins, "I am just checking in with you to see how things are going on your end?  How do you thing Red is doing? What kind of behaviors are you seeing when he comes home from school? Etc." Huh??? What??? This is completely foreign to me.  I haven't received this kind of call since elementary school.  

Basically, I tell her things have been going relatively well on my end.  He has come home complaining a few days about "people being rude" and not making friends fast enough,  but he has also acknowledged the role that he plays, his lack of social skills, and the inability to not dominate conversations, which is huge for him.  At the same time, he has been on time everyday for the entire 3 weeks.  He takes his showers most every night. He actually seems a little, dare I say, motivated to get there everyday.  So I'm thinking for the most part, he is happy with where he is.  Although that is difficult to come out and just say...especially to me.   

She tells me about their observations of him over the past 3 weeks.  She also sees that motivation and eagerness to learn.  For the first 2 weeks he was pretty close to perfect, trying so hard to show everyone the best side of himself.  He is very compliant and working diligently.  In the past week or so, he has let his hair down so to speak, allowing them to see that he indeed, is not perfect.  He has shown some frustrations...finally letting them see the real deal.  Well actually, this is a much milder version of the real deal.  At his worst, the real deal could be cursing teachers out, yelling at peers, and slamming fists on desks defiantly.  He is a living angel right now in comparison.

His work productivity is still excruciatingly slow, especially when it comes to writing.  His handwriting is so perfect, it's like a font.  The perfection on top of his processing speed has him moving like a snail.  He is learning and being productive in all environments with the exception of the regular ed IPC (a science class something to do with Physics and Chemistry).  Even I would be confused in this class!  He did however, advocate for himself letting them know that he really isn't "getting it" and needs some additional supports (HUGE)!  He has also advocated for himself with the Social Skills teacher, asking to speak with him directly about areas of concern and weakness that he would like to address during Social Skills class.

The team has been brainstorming ideas to give him additional supports.  One of them being giving him a word processor to complete all writing assignments.  YAY!  There will also be some schedule tweaks and changes.  We will review all of the purposed changes in a miniature planning meeting next week.

Wow! I am impressed all the way around!  The old school's policy was, "Don't call us...we will call you when there is a problem."  This new school's policy seems to be, "You don't have to call us.  We will call you before a real problem develops." 

I think I'm in love....



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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Licking Shoes

My little boy Blue would like very much to control everything in his world, including his gross little 7th grade friends.  They chew pencils, pen caps, strings from their jackets.  They tap on desks, kick chairs, talk too much and laugh at things that in his opinion, are not funny.

I have not observed him in class, only at home where he would like to control his brother's every move including, the way he chews his food, bites his nails and cuticles, and even the way he breathes way too loud!  He gives a huge reaction, which is all his brother needs to continue the action and even exaggerate it.  He loves nothing more than to see his little brother all flustered and upset.  It's a huge pay off for him.  This is typical of any sibling relationship.

The same deal of course goes at school.  Children are not going to allow some kid to control them and for some, seeing his over-reaction is just cause to increase the annoying behavior.

So there is a boy who is in most of his classes.  In Blue's eyes, he exhibits a number of annoying behaviors.  All of his classmates know how much Blue over-reacts. This kid pretends to lick the bottom of his shoes and the floor...in order to taunt Blue into a reaction, which of course, he definitely gives him.  The child apparently, also referred to Blue one day by saying, "Hey Black boy!" Blue is quite upset by this.

He comes home and tells me how he is being bullied.  I don't appreciate the "black boy" reference.  However, I tell Blue that he can not control the actions of others.  What he can try to control is his reaction to it.  "Don't give him your power," I say to him.  "It's like you are handing over a paycheck to this boy for his behavior.  Simply walk away."

"I can't! He's in every class and he is distracting me on purpose."   Apparently, the young man really steps up the action at the end of the day.  Blue leaves that class upset quite often.  Then he starts saying "I don't want to go to school.  The kids don't think I'm cool.  They think I'm weird."  When we start to talk about it, he tells me of a conversation about girls, where he tells people, who are not his friends that he thinks girls and their germs are gross.  He doesn't like kissing, etc.  Well this is just great ammunition for kids who don't have your best interest at heart.

I decide to have a conversation with the Counselor, his Special Education teacher and the school Psychologist so that they can assist with squashing some of this distracting behavior.  I also ask them to work with Blue on his reactions and over-sharing with peers who are not really his friends.

So far things are better.  But of course when I ask Blue, "How was your day at school?" He says, "Well...it was o.kay."
"Just o.k.?" I ask.
"Yeah...things are better with the kid, but my Math teacher yelled at me."

You can't please all of the people all of the time...but you can not please the people in my house hardly ever.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Blessed Insightfulness

Nothing is smooth sailing when it comes to an Aspergers teen.  We had about a weeks worth of honeymoon period with Red and his new school situation.  He still likes it...but for some reason he is surprised that he still has a lot of work to do, both socially and academically.  So the past couple of days, he comes through the door with a look of fatigue and unhappiness on his face.

"People are being rude to me!  I have the same problems everywhere!  People don't want to talk to me."

Unfortunately, with all of the medication changes, he isn't taking anything for focus right now.  Well, actually, he's taking Intuniv, a non-stimulant, but I really don't see how it is helping him.  The issue is he has a tendency to talk...non-stop, dominating the conversation.  Once he gets on a roll, he hardly takes a break for a deep breath, much less stopping long enough for others to actively participate in the conversation.  One of his teachers tells me, that one day he was so busy talking, he didn't even notice that people had actually walked away.  Of course, there is not a lot of eye-contact during his conversations.  Hence, the intense need for social skills training which, is not an overnight process.

Then he drops this bit of wisdom down on me:
"I can't help that I talk so much.  It's a part of my Aspergers.  I can't help it.  If I could help it...I would stop doing it. People need to understand that it's a part of who I am.  They need to have patience. All I want is to have some friends who accept me for who I am.  I just want to be happy!"

"You're right mom,  the reason I like to buy things all the time is because I'm just looking for a little bit of happiness, even though I know, things can't make you happy."

"Are you sure Dr. A knows what she's doing?  We've been trying all these different medicines and I still talk so much.  Maybe we need to change millograms or something.  I need some help with this so that people will like me."

Wow!  I tell him how proud I am that he can express these feelings to me so clearly.
"This shows me that you are doing better.  Before, you were not able to express all of  that to me...so you are doing better.  And I'm proud of you.  You may not be where you want to me, but you are slowly making progress.  You are getting up in the mornings, getting ready on time.  You are taking your showers every night.  All of these things are progress."

I am so impressed by his insightfulness.  He really does get it!  He does see himself and what he is doing, but he just can't resist some of the impulses.

I have been putting off going back to a low dosage of Focalin with him, afraid of what the side effects may be.  The doctor believes that with the other meds he has on board, and the lower dosage, he won't have these mad crashes in the afternoon.  He is so desperate to control the over-talking,  and lack of focus, that I am willing to go ahead and fill the prescription in hopes that it will help.

I am definitely fatigued by the incessant talking and I have a LOT OF PATIENCE.   There have been times where I've had to tell him,  "You've said that ninety-million times already!  I got it!"
"I didn't say it 90 million times.  That would take all day."
"Well, it feels like 90 million times!"
Imagine how it feels for those people who don't love him as much as I do, nor do they have the social skills or patience to put up with it.

I'm really happy about what he said about "buying things to find happiness."  That is until the end of our conversation when he says, "So can I go to Walgreens now to buy those Amazon gift cards so I can order the Yoke for my Flight Simulator game?"
"I thought we just agreed that buying things won't make you happy?"
"I know that...but at least it will give me something to do."

Guess I can't expect everything to happen overnight...

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Friday, October 14, 2011

The Complaint Department

One ringy dingy.  Two ringy dingy.  "You've reached the complaint department.  How may I help you?" In my Lilly Tomlin, pinched nostril voice. 

Every night before bed,  I have "Me" time with Red, where I come into his room and give him my undivided attention for 10 to 15 minutes.  Because I don't listen to him talk continuously enough during the day.  The truth is there isn't enough time in the day to listen to him talk...especially to me...his favorite audience.

So I come into his room and lay on the bed for a few minutes of torture...I mean quality time.  These conversations are never positive. They are usually a list of complaints about how how hard his life is...what he wants...and what he needs to buy that will instantaneously make his life so much better.
"Mom...you know I really need thus and such."
"Why don't any girls like me?  It's not fair that don't I have a girlfriend.  I guess I need to play sports so that I can get girls.  Only football players get all of the girlfriends.  I just need to work out, but I really hate sports.  It's not fair that I should have to play sports just to get girls."
I think this is just the most comfortable language for him.  He knows how to how to do this so well.  He is a natural born complainer. If complaining paid...he would be rich! And be able to buy all of those things that will make his life so much better.

I have standard answers for all of these complaints, which are usually very clever and inspirational.  This means nothing to him.  My responses are always met with, "No...that won't work.  That won't help." etc.

This time...I stop him dead in his tracks when he starts with his list.
"You know...it would be so nice if just one night I could come in here and you could tell me something positive about your day...about your life.  Was there anything good about your day today?  Is there anything that's going well in your life?  Isn't there one thing that you can actually be grateful for?"

"Well...I'm starting to make new friends at school.  I get to spend time with people who understand me and are more like me."
"Really?  Wow! That's great!  Anything else?"
"My teachers are all pretty nice," he says in a very flat tone.
"Awesome!  That's cool!  Let's say a prayer right now letting God know how grateful you are for those things in your life. If we thank him for the good things and focus more on that...good things will start to grow and multiply.  Whatever you give the most attention to in your life will grow.  So if we can just focus on the positives...you will start to see more positive things in your life."

With that we say a prayer in which, I list even more positive things that are happening in his life.  At first he is laying back on his pillow...very nonchalant.  By the middle of the prayer, he puts his hands together and puts his head down graciously.  He hears this long list of positives in his life and I believe it hits him that he does have much to be thankful for.

I kiss him good night...tell him I love him.  For once I leave his room feeling positive energy.  It's amazing what can happen when you redirect the child into a positive direction instead of rolling your eyes up into heaven thinking...GIVE ME A BREAK!
Please Remember:


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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Runaway Blue

I do kind of work in a circus...

There is no school thanks to Christopher Columbus.  I make good on my promise to take Blue out for breakfast which, is actually a late lunch.  We go to IHOP.  The happiness is visible on his face. The boy LOVES to eat!  It is a simple pleasure for him.  He thanks me over and over again with sincerity.  Afterwards, I convince him to go for a walk to help burn off the calories

At 3 p.m.  I leave Blue at home to finish homework.  (Juggle) While I take Red to go pick up the friend that he has been just dying to have over to hang out and watch his new Blu Ray movie "Fast Five."  I take these boys to subway for an even later lunch so that I don't have to feed them at home...and clean up the mess.  I pay for the food and then go sit in my car to play "Words With Friends" on my phone, so that I don't have to listen to their ludicrous conversation and watch them scarf down the sandwiches like a couple of wild animals.

I call Hubby to come to pick up Blue to take him to a Destination Imagination meeting.  D.I. is a team oriented, problem solving/leadership program of sorts.  (I volunteered hubby to be the Team Manager).  I think it will be a great bonding experience for them.  So as they are leaving...I pull up with Red and his friend.  (Juggle Juggle)

Now Blue doesn't get along all that well with Red's friend and Hubby doesn't really like other people's kids all that much...at least not in our house.  He barely has the patience for his own kids, much less their friends.  I think this goes back to his childhood.  His mother hardly ever let them have friends over...only cousins.  In my house...there was always a house full of kids.  For me...this meant mostly boys.  For some reason most of my friends were boys.  Especially when I got to high school age. (Really...they were just friends!)

Anyhoo...do you see the juggling trend here?

Red and his friend start watching the movie until Red's friend starts falling asleep.  He no longer wants to watch the movie.  Red becomes agitated about this.  "I mean...why is he falling asleep?  He doesn't want to watch the movie anymore ...and I don't want to do anything else...so maybe he should just go home."  Wow...lovely social skills there! I convince the two of  them to go get on YouTube or something.  Moments later, I hear  music and singing...loud, bad, singing along with laughter. (This is rare for Red.)  Finally...they are having fun.  Red has been dying to have this friend over.  Yet...I have to tell them how to have fun together.

BTW...they borrow a chair from Blue's room (with my permission) so that his friend has a place to sit while they are on the computer, listening to music and singing loud and off key.

When Blue and Dad come home...I take Red's friend home.  While driving, Blue calls me..."WHY IS MY CHAIR IN REd's room!?"  He's yelling at me on the phone.  First of all...this is MY chair that I let him borrow so long ago that apparently, he has forgotten that it's mine.
"Excuse me but you are yelling and I am driving.  This is not acceptable. Good-bye."

I come home the rant continues.  Dad intervenes.  He is trying to rescue me..however, he does not give any empathy to Blue's feelings.  He tells him to go wipe the chair with a Lysol wipe if he thinks it's so full of germs.  This is not acceptable to Blue.  Dad has hurt his feelings.  No one understands him.  He decides he's going to runaway.

I am kind of glad that he is going to "walk it off" (or so I think).  The problem is it's near dusk.   Moments pass and it's getting dark...he is nowhere in sight.  We are about to send out the search party...me in one car.  Dad in another.  Dad leaves first.  As I am pulling out of the driveway...he walks up.  Moments later, Dad pulls up to the house.  The two of them go inside for another chat.  I keep Red at bay...sitting out on the front porch.

Everyone is so on edge around here.  It's like walking in a field of landmines.  This job is not for the weak at heart.

Peace is made...I'm sorries,  hugs and I love you's are exchanged.  All is well in the world by the time I kiss them all goodnight.

Just another day in the life...

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Sucky Sunday

I am always teaching gratitude to the boys.  I have the whole speech down to a science.  So believe me, I feel the extreme guilt when I'm complaining about my life and not being grateful.  I must make a precursory note of this whining rant.  I did spend Friday having a me day, getting a manicure and pedicure and having lunch out with my mom.  For this...I am grateful.  Still...I spend the rest of the weekend doing a bunch of things that I do not want to do.  I spend a great deal of my life doing this.  Sometimes it gets old.  Sometimes, I just want to be completely selfish.  But then again...I chose the wrong job if this was my goal.

Here's the deal...when I was in the corporate world, when a job became boring, mundane, and unfulfilling, or I just plain old got sick of the people I worked with or for...I quit...moved on.  I moved on to something shinier, bigger, with better pay, different responsibilities, more challenges, a change of venue with more opportunity for growth, and nicer people who appreciated me for my talents.  When I got tired of that...I went to work for myself as a Realtor, where I could create my own schedule, destiny and earning potential.

Lately, as I mill around the grocery store week after week,  run to the pharmacy, dispense meds, do the carpool run, referee fights, give advice that no-one appears to be listening to, kill spiders, cook dinner, clean dishes, floors and toilets...I can't help but think...This JOB Really SUCKS!  I quit!

Sunday morning starts off with Blue giving me major attitude because he wants to go out to breakfast.  We watch church services on the internet on Sunday mornings with a laptop hooked up to the big screen t.v. and music streaming through the speakers.  We do this every Sunday, but I guess we were supposed to drop everything because he wants to go out to eat.  This turns into a miniature meltdown.  Where I have to placate him and be all Zen about it.  I come up with an alternative plan, which includes me making him a major league breakfast, of sausage, eggs and pancakes.

Red is moaning and groaning because we won't allow him to spend $70.00 for add-on software to a game that he only spent $30.00 for in the first place.  He already bought a $30.00 add-on a few weeks ago, that he has yet to use.  Yet, he wants to spend $70.00 MORE when he hasn't even used what he has to full capacity.  He has this insatiable need to keep buying things that he THINKS will make him happy, of course this never works.  Now we are the bad guys because we are saving him...protecting him from himself.  We spend the ENTIRE weekend listening to him rant about this, becoming more belligerent with each passing moment.  Except for when he comes back with wanting to have a friend over.  Then,  he suddenly wants to turn everything around and start being respectful for all of 10 minutes so that he can get what he wants.  When this doesn't work...he goes back to being ugly again.

I spend most of the day making a nice Sunday dinner, because Blue, my Mom and my husband love a good Sunday dinner.  I'd rather be out at a yoga class, hiking, or going to see a chick flick.  But no...I spend Sunday doing my "job".  By the end of the day...I find myself feeling a little pissy because Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest.  I do anything, and everything but rest.

Sometimes, I just get so tired of doing things to make everyone-else happy.  It's exhausting really.  After dinner, I am so tired.  Tired of the noise in the house...tired of the sibling arguments, tired of the disagreements between Dad and Red, tired of the lack of peace.  I come to my room and the three of them are there, Dad, Blue and Red.  They are discussing possibly watching a movie that I rented for them.  I actually agree to allow the boys to watch it in my room.  There I go again...peacemaker, to my own detriment.  My husband just looks at me like...Really?  You've been cooking all day and now you're going to let them take over your room?  It was a reality check.

I kick them all out, and lock the door for an hour of peace before I would drift off to sleep.  I pour myself a nice glass of wine and enjoy the quiet.  Until Red knocks on my door..."MOM!"

Seriously??? I quit!


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Thursday, October 6, 2011

It Takes A Village

Really a village?  Yes...it takes an entire village to raise this child.  I am always amazed at the ARD/IEP process here in Texas.  You sit down with an entire room of professionals who are there to work with your child in some capacity or another.   Some of them helpful...others not so much.  Some of them make you wonder what their motivation was for choosing this career field.  Others are so good,  you feel extremely blessed to have them care about and work with your child.  We experienced this kind of love throughout our elementary school experience.  Our Special Education staff there came to know and love my children intimately.  We had a few issues with teachers and even the Principle at some points.  It wasn't a perfect situation, but we were always able to work out the kinks.  There was always the core staff who got it...who really cared.

I didn't sign the ARD/IEP last week with the high school that Red was attending.  Today, I met with his new team, closed out the IEP from the last meeting and completed an amendment, in which all of my concerns were addressed.  The Special Education Director at the new high school gets it.  She is one of the ones who is in this for all the right reasons...because she is a good person who genuinely cares and wants to help people.  How do I know this?  She shared some personal information with me that let me know that she is the real deal.  She's not some young educator who has no children, who is doing this job from the perspective of only her college education.  She is doing this job because of who she is, and what she has experienced in her life.  She is seasoned.  She is not cookie cutter.  She is willing and able to think out of the box.

With my son's old team, there were so many times when I expressed a concern, a thought, or feeling about what my child was going through, and I was met with blank stares.  Like huh?  What? Sorry lady... are you from another planet?  We are from planet earth and we don't get your moon-speak here.

I got none of that today.  I got validation.  I was not rushed.  They took time to answer every, single question...idiotic or not.  I got...how can we help?  Do you need further explanation?  Do you have any additional concerns?  And how are YOU doing?  (How am I DOING?) What are you doing to take care of yourself?  Let me put you in touch with this agency to help you with respite care.  We are so excited to have him here!  Now this is what we're going to do to help him.  This is what we're going to do to help him start feeling successful and build his self-esteem.  Our program will become like his little family.

His tracking teacher is an older gentlemen with white hair, a soft-spoken voice, and obviously...experience.  Before leaving our meeting he gives me his direct number and his cell.  "Call me if you need anything or would like to share any concerns." What??? His cell number!

The school Psychologist is younger, with spiky hair, and plenty of self-assurance.  She appears knowledgeable, confident and direct.  She was able to give me the language to use to diffuse certain situations that I am dealing with here at home, letting me know...this girl knows her stuff!  She assured and comforted me by telling me how they will handle this transition with Red...how they will ease him into it, in attempt to make it less stressful for him.  She tells me how they deal with kids having a bad day, cool-downs, natural consequences... not criminalizing behaviors related to their disability. Innately, I know...they are not bullshitting me!  This is not placation.  This is real...this is good.  His village is ready to get to work.  We are on our way...

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A New Path

Change can be an intimidating, freaky thing for many people, myself included.  Fear of the unknown, driving without a map or a navigation system makes one wonder how and if you will ever get where you are supposed to be going.  A few days ago I wrote about Aspergers and    change...how anxious it can make you...and can lead to negative behaviors and even explosions.  Well...I put it in writing and  then God went and proved me wrong.  We have had a major change here in this house that Aspergers built.  The ARD/IEP recommendation was to change Red to his home high school campus.  When the possibility was put on the table he was adamant there was no freakin' way he would be changing schools again!

"That school is ghetto!" he actually says in the ARD meeting.  My husband just about dives underneath his chair of shear embarrassment.  He was pissed all at the same time,  knowing that those were not his words...but words he had heard somewhere else.  Yet, here he was saying them in a room full of teachers and administrators with out the least bit of decorum.  I mean...what is that anyway?  Of course, he has never even seen a real ghetto school live and in person in his entire, suburban, over-protected, spoiled little life!  

There is a rivalry between the crosstown school that he has been going to for the past year and his homeschool.  The kids at his homeschool are not as spoiled and preppy as the kids where he has been attending.  At this crosstown school ethnic diversity is sparse at best.  In other words...if you're a big, black kid who goes around not smiling most of the time, looking angry, you definitely stand out in the crowd of marshmallowy faces.  The home school has a much larger ethnic presence.  The kids are all colors and all variations of Austin weirdness.  He will not stand out quite as awkwardly in the crowd.  He will blend end not perfectly...but much easier.  He will know more kids from his elementary and first year of middle school days.

After meeting the staff and hearing about exactly what the program could offer him...I decided to call a few friends of mine within the district to get their opinion of the program.  In particularly, I call a teacher friend of mine who has a son who is very much like Red, with Aspergers.  Her son is actually in this program.  When I say very much like Red, I mean very stubborn, smart but a little on the lazy side...wants to do what he wants to do, no more, no less.   Although she is a teacher, she had very little luck in getting her child to perform in a typical school setting, until now.  When I call her, she has nothing but glowing things to say about the program and his reaction to it.  And just because she works in the district doesn't mean she's a push-over for what they have offered her child in the past.  The young man that she is describing to me, sounds nothing like the child I have known him to be.  He sounds like he is heading in the direction where I need Red to go. 

I decide to try to cautiously to sell it to him.  Hoping that he may buy some parts of it.  That he might take a sample and then love it so much, that he will actually buy the whole thing.  I want it to ultimately feel like his decision so that he can take ownership of it. 

"You've been telling me that you work better in a smaller classroom.  They have multiple small classroom's with certified, generalist teachers who are qualified to teach each subject.  There are more peers there who carry the same or similar diagnosis that you do.  They have an actual social skills group where you can connect with peers who have similar issues and you all can help support each other.  They have a place where you can hang out during lunch, you can play pool and other games  if you don't want to be in the big, loud cafeteria. One of the classrooms is set up like a living room, with comfortable chairs and couches."  (Imagine that for the kid who loves to slouch! Hopefully, he won't end up napping there.)

Can you believe that for over a year I have not known that social skills for him meant working one on one with a teacher...and no peers with Aspergers?  He would say to me..."We aren't doing any social skills."  And his teacher would assure me that they were.  She just never told me that it wasn't with a group of kids.  I find out now that supposedly there are no kids receiving services through that program who have high-functioning autism.  No wonder Red seemed like such an enigma to them.  This program was not even the beginning of the kind of support that he needs.  Is there any wonder that he was not successful there?  I feel like I put him through a year of torture while I was being sold a bag of goods about what kind of support he was actually getting.

To my surprise, he agrees with me so quickly I almost get whiplash! 
Red says to me, "Fine...if you think it's going to be better for my education...let's do it!" 
I am flabbergasted...floored, but I show very little emotion.  I am so ready for a fight and if I am lucky, a slow, arduous transition.  
"Do I even have to go back?  I don't want to go back there," he says.   
The following day there is an awesome field trip planned and it is the last day of the 6 week grading period.  He needs to compete assignments and tests.  I send him to back to school, telling him that on Monday, we will "Check out the new program."  

He has a great time on the field trip.  He returns to school and mentally checks out... "You people are not doing anything to help me! I'm done with this school," is his basic sentiment during a small tirade.  He refuses to do any work.  They call me.  I inform them that he has pretty much made the decision to make the change.  He is somewhat anxious about it and though he loves the staff there, but he is feeling some mixed emotions right now.  I talk to him on the phone and encourage him to finish his work and so that when he says his good-byes that he  will be remembered fondly.  He agrees.  At this point, I know there is no transition.  This is it!

I am with him on the mixed emotions.  I feel like I've been duped.  This was never the place that he needed to be.  He should have gone to his home school directly from middle school since they have such an intensive program.  He demonstrated a need based on his behaviors in middle school.  I have no idea why it was suggested that he be transferred in the first place.  I am sure that everyone there did their best to help him with the resources they had available...but they NEVER had the resources that he needs.  If I had not told them that this is not working, and I am ready to pull him out and put him in private school, would I have ever found out about the program available at his homeschool?

Fortunately, they have new blood on campus as their Special Education Lead and once I made this call,  she called the staff on the carpet and basically said...THIS IS NOT WORKING.  The really nice guy who was in her place last year was apparently just riding things out at the end of his career and definitely not thinking out of the box as to how to best serve my child.  There are plenty of places I could look in order to lay blame, or with whom I should be disappointed and upset.  I don't know how productive that would be.

The point is that God is in the works.  He helped me make that sales pitch and he helped Red to buy it.  He helped us to move forward.   We are on a new path.  I believe it will be one that will help him to achieve some successes and to feel more confident as a student, and as a person.  It will not be simple. There will be curves, bumps and rocks along the path, but at least we are heading in the right direction.    

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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Different Colors


Blue comes home with his head hanging down and his fist balled up...I'm angry don't mess with me look. I'm already listening to Red's complaints of the day.

"Hi Sweety...what's wrong?" I ask stupidly.
"Nothing," he says stiffly as he closes the bathroom door behind him.
"Why is he always mad?" Asks Red as if he never comes home upset.
When Blue comes out...I try again, "What's going on?"
"Those stupid kids in Science class.  They're always talking, talking talking!  I had to stay after 10 minutes today because they won't stop talking!"

Science class is the last period of the day.  The kids I guess have had it with being quiet during class by then. They are like little corks in a champagne bottle...ready to blow! How dare them act like 7th graders who would rather talk and act silly than learn about science!

"They don't take anything seriously.  They must not want to go to college.  They just want to talk and act silly," says our little professor.

I hate to tell him I used to be one of those 7th graders...in fact, I was one of those 10th, 11th and 12th graders who spent a lot of time chatting during class...especially during Science class.  Mr. Katz used to move me all around the room to keep me away from my friends.  But no matter where he moved me...I found someone to talk to.  I did love his Physiology class, but I also like being social...extremely social.  How exasperating I must have been.

Blue is a very serious student.  He has college on his radar and he wants to do whatever he can to get ahead of the game to make sure he gets there. He has already conquered the homework situation by going in early, and staying after for tutorials to make sure he gets everything done.

Last week...he got really angry with me for making him a hot breakfast and making him stay home to eat it.  He would rather go in to school.  Get his breakfast and do work while he's eating.
"I don't have time for this.  I need to get to school.  I'm supposed to be in Ms. H's class right now taking notes!"
"Well..you apologize to Ms. H. for me.  Tell her I am SO SORRY for making you a hot breakfast!"

Meanwhile his brother is laying on the couch as the bus pulls up saying, "Can't I stay home today?"  Blue and Red...very difeReNT  coLoRs.

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