Vote for My Blog

Vote for me @ Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Not Everyone is Your Friend

Friends
How many of us have them?
Friends
One's we can depend on.
Friends
Before we go any further...Let's be friends. --Whodini

This was Red's Facebook status last night:

"Why is it that I have to try so hard to be someone's friend and be nice to them and they don't really talk back to me? I feel that it is always me who has to talk to them. Why is it always me that has to talk first? I give them plenty of time to speak. It really makes me frustrated when friends do that. And I don't even know if these people are my friend. That's why I don't add everybody on Facebook. Because not everyone is your friend."

He got good feedback from a few friends (typical teens I might add).  They told him the same thing that I always do, "Join a club where you can find people with mutual interest.  Friendships take time.  Don't worry things will work out."  Hopefully, he will believe them.  He certainly doesn't believe me.

In some ways, he is wise beyond his years, "Everyone is not your friend."  On the other hand, his feelings break my heart.  He has come so far in a years time.  He has more friends than he had a year ago.  He is now in a much more supportive school environment. But he is still reaching for the stars...he wants to be friends with THOSE people over there!

"I want to be friends with normal kids!" 
"Why do all of my friends have to have special needs?"
"Why do I have to have this stupid Aspergers?!  It's not fair!" 

How about be happy that you don't have to eat lunch alone...that there are people who seek you out and want to be your friend?  That's not good enough.  He wants to reconnect with peers from his elementary school that he hasn't seen in 4 years.  He is back in our home-school where he knows more people from the past.  He wants to go into the loud cafeteria and sit with them.  Although, they have probably already formulated groups that will be difficult to break into, which will really make him angry when they don't all turn around and make him the center of attention.   He has no idea how to have idle chit-chat about the non-sensical things that typical teens talk about.  He is not seeing things the way they are...or the way they will be.  He sees them in this fantasy medium...the way he WANTS them to be.  I can't tell him that though.  He doesn't believe me. 


Some people with Aspergers can't stand being around a lot of people and the energy that it takes to maintain conversations, much less friendships with people who really don't "get" them.  Not my boy...he is longing to be a part of the popular crowd.  Well...I want to be skinny and have smooth, silky clear skin like the airbrushed models in magazines.  Anyone have any miracles for sale...cheap?

He's right about one thing...you shouldn't have to work so hard for friendships.  You shouldn't have to always be the person who speaks first, or who calls more.  A real friend will seek YOU out as much as you seek them.  Friendship should be mutual...it should develop naturally out of mutual interest, common ground and genuine feelings for one another.  Red wants the average, typical teenager to understand his Aspergers and how he see's the world.   It will be a miracle if this happens in the large group of typical teens that he wants to be a part of.  Most teenagers are innately self-centered and into themselves...especially the popular ones.  Unfortunately, they are not trying to take the time out to understand themselves...much less, understand someone complicated, mopey, and moody with special needs.


We are lucky if we find a handful of true friends over a lifetime.  I have been truly blessed in that department.  The thing is...I'm not picky.  I love people who love me despite my high-maintenance craziness.  

Monday, November 28, 2011

Friends Forever...

Hello Lover! (I say in my Sarah Jessica Parker voice to my blog) I've missed you so.  I haven't been able to write to you since school was out last week.  They kept me busy almost every waking moment. You are my therapy...so yes, I've been going a little nuts with out you...my stress reliever.

Then there was the family vacation (an oxymoron) to visit our friends up in Dallas.  I spent the days beforehand freaking out about it.  How can we make this as smooth as possible for the boys?  What kind of sleeping arrangement will work best?  How will we get along with all of us in the car for hours at at time?  Will all of that family togetherness send one of us over the edge?  Surely it will!  It always does.  And this time we have my mom with us to boot!  Add a new player to the game and the dynamics of the game will change.  How will the boys handle it all?  It's almost enough to make me completely change my mind about traveling.

Picture Taken in 2005
One of the biggest accomplishments in my life...
A 40-year friendship
We traveled to Dallas to spend Thanksgiving with my oldest, dearest friends.  These girls (sisters) I have known for nearly 40 years...I hate to say that out loud.  But then again, it is something to be proud of.  We have known each other since I was about 6 or 7 years old.  We were neighbors who shared a common wall for most of our childhood into young adulthood.  I spent more time sitting at their kitchen table than I did my own.  Their house was the place to hang out.  They were my sisters...their mother a second mom, who I could talk to about anything.  Every song from that era is a memory of us hanging out together, singing into hair-brushes in front of the living room window..our audience...the rest of the world.  From Earth, Wind and Fire to Natalee Cole, to The Emotions.  Oh...Oh!  Am I telling my age here?

Well of course we had a ball!  It's simply a miracle and a blessing that we all grew up in Los Angeles, and now we live 3 hours from each other all the way here in Texas!  Our mothers of course, also know and love each other.  It was lovely for them to visit together as well.  They had other family in from California, whom we all know and love. It was great to see them as well.

My husband, Big Papa rented an Escalade for us to drive up there in, so that we would have plenty of space to keep the boys apart, and all of the luxuries of satellite radio, and a DVD player to keep the kids occupied...hopefully. Was this enough to make Red happy?  Of course not.  When we got ready to leave home...he refused to get in the car.  "I'm not going.  I just want to stay home by myself."  Anxiety kicking in as I knew that it would.  What will it be like to spend all this time around my family?  I'm not going to know anyone there? Although, we've spent time around these friends several times over the past 5 years since they lived up there.

Thanks to a special holiday deal, we got 2 suites and had the boys sleep in separate rooms so that there would be a little less family togetherness for them.  They both got to sleep alone, on the let-out couches in each room.  This worked out great! The only weird thing is...I slept in the room with my Mom and Blue while hubby slept in the room with Red.  Of course, I did sneak over there to snuggle after everyone went to sleep.

The Thanksgiving party itself was great for us (adults)...very difficult for our Aspergers boys.  The last time we spent Thanksgiving weekend with these friends, we actually stayed at their house.  The boys played so well with their children.   Now that they are teenagers...with Aspergers and so socially awkward, they did not connect at all with the kids there.  And there were plenty of kids...cousins, friends from high-school and college who were dropping in and out.  My boys felt totally out of place.  It was actually pretty painful to watch.

The adults all engaged them in conversations...the teens...not so much.  They were busy visiting with their cousins and friends.  Blue and Red had too much anxiety too try to break into the conversations.  Red especially, sits back and waits for people to engage him.  If that doesn't happen then he feels bad.  He has no idea what to do in these kind of situations.  Blue doesn't usually have this problem, but  because there were so many kids, I think that made it tough for him as well.  My friend has a daughter who is about the same age as Blue.  They really connected with in the past.  This time she was shy and  hardly had a word to say to him.  What can you do with that?  You can't make teenagers play together and engage each other.

Luckily for him, his best friends from school happened to also be in town.  The twins were celebrating their 13th birthday on Thanksgiving day.  Blue got to leave the uncomfortable situation and go to his friend's birthday party.  Red loosened up a bit as time went on.  He talked my friend's husband into paying him to complete a video project of the Thanksgiving party.  He used his video camera to film everyone.  Even that seemed to be slightly anxiety-ridden.  He kept coming to me asking what he should do.  He was especially anxious about filming the teenagers.  He took periodic sensory breaks...sitting in a quiet place alone, playing "Angry Birds".  Over and over again, as we are drinking and having fun he would come to me and say, "I'm ready to leave."  I just ached for him, among all of these people who love and care about us and he just couldn't really enjoy it.

Why did I think that things would get easier for them as they got older?  Some of the social awkwardness seems to get worse instead of better.  It's funny though, no matter how much time passes between them seeing our extended family....the sense of comfort with their uncles, aunts and cousins seems to never go away.

I'll have to consider that when we finalize plans for Christmas...which will be here much faster than I would like for it to be.

Funny though, the following day after all of the parties were over...we went back for one final visit.  It was much more comfortable and the boys didn't have to be there long.  As they received their hugs good-bye I implored Red to show them all his beautiful smile.  Everyone gave him a resounding applause and told him how handsome he is.  My friend's mother Ms. J -gave him a wonderful hug.

In the car he said...Ms. J is really special to me. He felt her genuine love...as I have for almost 40 years. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Baptism Despite Me

About 3 years ago Red started going to church with his friend of.  Summer before last, they went to a christian sleep away Summer Camp (click to read that post).  He comes home so excited about the experience of making new friends, being and being socially accepted.  He participated in the Follies, where he and his friend sang a rock song and everyone gave him a standing ovation.  He was hooked! In fact, his friend ended up having to leave camp because of some unacceptable behavior.  Red stayed on and had a good time anyway.

He mentioned wanting to be baptized back then, but I wasn't quite sure if he really connected with what it meant.  He has mentioned it from time to time, since then but he didn't seem all that serious about it.  He continued to attend church, without me, for which, I was happy.  There are so few things that he wants to do consistently without me.  I welcomed the fact that he was doing something positive on his own.

Though, I am a follower of Christ...I do not actively practice organized religion.  Since the kids were born and we moved to Texas, we have attended various churches...some more regularly than others.  The boys never really liked any of the black, Baptist churches, with loud gospel music that I like.  We tried several more ethnically diverse christian churches.  These were better for the boys,  but boring for me.  Their attention spans are extremely short, so sitting and paying attention for any length of time, was impossible when they were younger.  Getting out the door on time...another extreme challenge. One that I fight so hard during the week, I have little energy for it on the weekends. 

My serious one,  Blue, would sometimes hang on to part of the message, misinterpret it, and then be too freaked out to go back to that church.  Regular church attendance became to be less and less practical for our family.  

We have been attending church service via the internet for the past year and a half.  It's the church that my brother-in-law and their family attends in Baltimore, Maryland.  We hook it up to the t.v. and the speakers and have worship right here in our living room, with gospel music that we can adjust the volume as needed.  While in Maryland this summer, we actually visited the church.  It was sO LOUD! Though, we enjoyed meeting the pastor...OMgoodness there is no way, we could do that every Sunday. 

Part of reason that I have not made going to church every Sunday a priority is by own religious background.  I was raised in a very strict, religious household.  We were Jehovah's witnesses, which was all encompassing part of our lives... services 3 times a week, and field service at least once.  I came to absolutely loathe it by the time I reached high school.  Others in the religion were very intrinsic in our lives.  I felt I had too many people to answer to...instead of just answering to God, as it should be. By the time I was 17...I was done with it.  I think subconsciously, I never wanted to make my children hate religion, church and me making them go.  I want their faith and their connection with God to come from within.

Like many, I have doubts within my faith, but I very much believe in God and his son Jesus Christ and in following his example for my life.  I have always felt it important to teach my children biblical principals, especially the principals that Jesus lived by during his time here on earth.  Helping others in need, loving others...even our enemies.  Blue has a real hard time with that one. "Why would we love our enemies?" asks my literal boy.  The importance of being honest and respectful is essential in our home.  I have taught them the sprit of giving and I try my best to teach them to be thankful for the blessings in their lives.  Prayer is a part of our daily lives.  We are however, imperfect sinners...constantly striving, but continually making human errors. 

Despite me, the boys faith in God is just incredible.  Blue has stopped us in the middle of a trip and said, lets hold hands and pray for our safety, and give thanks for this blessing.  He teaches his friends the things that I've taught him about kindness and not making fun of others.  And Red...he found his way to church without me.  He found himself a small church full of pure, accepting, Christians...where the music is quiet and doesn't bother his senses.  The environment is serene enough where he has been able to learn more biblical principals.  

He comes to me last week and says, "I want to be baptized next Sunday."  Memories flash through my mind of when my mom made me get baptized.  She thought it was time.  I felt forced.  When I asked him why, he was very clear.  "I want to try to follow the example of Christ.  I know I won't be perfect, but I want to try.  I know I've done things that are wrong in the past.  And I just want to be a good person." 
And so it came to be.  On Sunday, as I looked on with tears in my eyes,  my 16 year-old son testified as to his faith in the Lord in front of the entire congregation, which included our family. The congregation so small...that they all know and have come to love him.  He was held in a loving embrace and baptized...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

A couple of days ago I posted on my Facebook Community Page (please join us if you haven't already):

"My husband thinks I'm nuts because I sit in my car, in my driveway for extended periods of time.  My neighbors probably think I'm cookoo for Cocoa Puffs!"

Surprisingly, I got a lot of responses from Aspergers Mom's across the world who do the exact same thing.

I sit there reading blogs on my phone, playing Words with Friends and listening to music. There are no voices of children in my car.  There are no requests for me to do anything for anyone.  It's an escape...a pathetic escape, but an escape nonetheless.

This morning I took sitting in the car to a whole new level.  This is what I was listening to:

Nothing like smooth jazz. 

This is what I was sitting in:

Don't get excited it's my husband's loner car.  My car is 7 years old and the biggest luxury about it is that it runs. 

Now this is just a bonus pic from this morning of "The Man" who would be Blue...wearing the cutest Blue jeans.  I wanted to take a picture of how cute his derriere is in these jeans...but he would kill me! 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Homework Blues


Homework is no longer a test of what the child is learning in class...it is a test of a parent's patience.  It is an exercise in torture for a child who works so hard at school just to hold it together and make it through all of the social landmines and expectations.  When he comes home...what he really needs to is to just chill.  

However...Blue is continually thinking about the future, about college and what it takes to get there.  This is a good thing...a wonderful thing, within itself.  The result however, is that he puts so much pressure on himself, that he can become overwhelmed and end up completely shutting or melting down.  

The teachers seldom if ever, see this side of him.  They see a mostly calm, together, mature, extremely bright boy.  They have no idea how tightly wound he is.  Sometimes, when he gets home he unravels. What may be a very simple thing for him to do during the day, becomes a cause for explosion here at home. 

Thought we had the homework issues resolved after our last meeting with the team.  We had the end of the six-week grading period last week and things seemed to ease up for  a few days.  However, over the weekend, Blue was hard at work on an assignment that for the love of him, he says he did not understand.  He got so frustrated that he just shut down.

"I can't do this!  This is ridiculous!  I have no idea what I'm supposed to be doing!" 

He comes in Monday evening with a very upbeat attitude...that is until it gets down to homework time.  

"This is just too much!  I don't get it!  This is too much pressure! Mrs. So and So is mean!" 

I finally shut him down when we get close to bedtime.  Suddenly, he remembers that he was supposed to read for 75 minutes over the course of the week.  This is the last night.  

"Help me mom! How am I supposed to do this?" By this time we are slamming things, kicking furniture and yelling in frustration.  Nothing I say means anything.

I suggest doing a book on tape...or text to speech reading so that he can sit back and relax instead of being so worked up.  I leave the room and refuse to come back and be yelled at anymore.  He calls me when the book is finished.  I send in Dad instead.  I can not trust that I won't loose it if he yells at me again.  

After talking with Blue, Hubby comes downstairs to tell me it's safe.  Blue has calmed down and really wants to see me.  

When I enter his room, he reaches his arms out to me and says, "I'm sorry mom."  He allows me to kiss him goodnight and tell him that I love him.

I call this morning to talk to the school Psychologist so that she can work with him today on settling these homework issues. She has a good conversation with him and the teacher.  Hopefully, he feels better about it. 

Today, it's raining along with the rain came a little friend called THUNDER.   I'm sure that he is just a bundle of nerves and anxiety.  Tonight should be a bundle of fun! 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Dear Diary -It's My Turn

Overall...I am a very patient, giving person.  I delight in making other people happy...making them smile, feel loved, appreciated and cherished.  Sometimes, when I give and give...and then give some more, I end up feeling depleted.   That's where I am today.  That hormonal time of the month must be kicking in...because I just don't feel like hearing any of the needy, unappreciative little voices that are sucking the life out of me.  Some of those voices are not actually so little...meaning my mother and my husband.

Sunday starts off as a rather peaceful day.  Red leaves to go to church with a friend...Yay! Hubby leaves to go take eldest son to work.  Something is wrong with his car.  From there, he meets a friend to have lunch and go watch some football.  He is gone most of the day.

I enjoy a relatively quiet morning, watching church service on the internet, drinking coffee and playing Scrabble.

Red comes home from church and within a half-hour another friend shows up at our house.  This is a NEW friend from school.  The two of them are going to build a computer together that they are donating to the CAMP area where they hang out @ lunch time.  Now wouldn't it have been nice if our resident computer expert (Dad) had been here to support this positive effort?  Sure...it would be, but that isn't on his priority list for the day.  Oh well...the boys do the best that they can.  They seem to get along well.

God is answering "My Prayer" that I wrote last December.  Red has a new friend.  This delights him and makes me ecstatic.

After several hours, Red's friend goes home.  A half-hour later, Blue has a friend over.  They play video games boisterously, and hang out being silly together.  He's happy...I'm happy right?  After I prepare and serve dinner, I take his friend home.

During this time, that the boys have company,  my mother is more focused on the conversations between the boys in the next room, than she is on her own television shows that she's supposed to be watching.  She feels the need to make her own comments and interjections.  I want to tell her to watch her show and mind her own damn business.  I refrain.

Hubby finally makes his way home just as all the activity is dying down.  Somehow, he always manages to get away when the boys have any company in the house.  We haven't had an outburst all day long.  He's in the door for 5 minutes and he and Red are going at it.  There I go into my referee job.

By the end of the night I'm zonked.  I just want to crawl into my room and hide under the covers. I want to disappear into my Word's with Friends games online.  It's a cool way to play with your friends from the convenience of your very own bed.

Red comes in and wants to "talk" around 9:30 p.m.  I just have nothing left.  I ask him to please leave my room.  I just don't want to "talk" anymore.  I don't want to here the repetitive dialog.  I'm just done.  I muster up the energy to meet him in his room for prayer before he goes to sleep.

This morning I take them both to school.  Both of them are giving me a driving lecture.  Do either of them have a driver's license?  NO!  I have been driving for 30 years!  I tell them both, " If you don't like my driving...you can both can get out and walk!"

"Well...it's just that Dad drives so much better than you."
"Then tell your Dad to take you to school and all of the other places I manage to get you to on a regular basis!"
"Why are you getting so mad?" They have the nerve to ask me.
"I'm in a bad mood.  Have you ever been in a bad mood?" I ask them.
"Well today is my turn."

They have all trampled all over my nerves.  I am thankful that today is Monday and they are at school trampling all over someone else's.

If you haven't already, come join our  Confessions Community on Facebook

Thursday, November 10, 2011

It's a Fact!

Red is on a quest to loose weight and be healthy.  In fact, it's his new fixation.  This is a good thing...a wonderful thing, except for the fact that he talks about more than actually doing it.
Here's the repetitive dialog:

"I really need to work out everyday.  Do you think I should join the wrestling team or should I play football?"  (There is really no intention to do either.)
"I can't eat any more cheeseburgers or fast food."
"You really need to take me to the Y.  Walking isn't going to do any good.  I need to run,  but I can't do it at that track around the corner.  I don't like to exercise in this neighborhood.  I don't like to exercise outside.  I'd rather exercise indoors...like at a gym."
"I need to eat more fruits and vegetables, but I just hate the way they taste.  What is that disgusting juice that comes out of the vegetables anyway?"
"Do you think I can get a six pack.  Well...I actually have a six pack...it's just hidden under here," he says holding on to his belly.

This is repeated over and over again about nine million times per day...and this is just a sample.

A few days pass where I don't have the time or the energy to take him to the gym.  He finally breaks down and starts playing the Wii fit.  He gets on and the game takes you through a fitness assessment.  They measure your balance, weight and BMI.  First the game tells you that you're overweight.  Nice! Then a little avatar of your body comes up on the screen.  It shows an overweight guy with a rather large torso area.

"I don't look like that! I'm not fat!" he says.
"Yes you are," says Blue.  "It's a fact.  The Wii doesn't lie," he continues very matter-of-factly.

Screaming insults are exchanged.  Threats of bodily harm ensue.  I have to scream just to be heard to get their attention.  I then physically remove Blue from the room to tell him a few things about himself.

"You are being rude and mean to your brother."
"No I'm not.  I'm trying to help him.  What I am saying is a fact.  He is fat."
"Not too long ago...you told me someone at school said that you were chubby.  If I remember correctly, that really hurt your feelings didn't it?"  He thinks about it but doesn't respond.
"Everyone in this house could stand to loose a few pounds.  Your dad is overweight, but we don't walk around talking about it and pointing it out to him.  Don't you think that would hurt his feelings if we did?"  He gives me a sigh.  Like...o.k. I get it.

I know for a fact that he understands this concept.  I have heard him talking with his friends about a girl that rides their bus.  She is non-verbal and I guess in some way, not attractive...different.  He says to them, "She can't help the way she looks.  She has a disability.  We should be nice to her.  We don't want to make her feel bad."  Now the friends he is talking to also have autism.  It is not their intention to be mean.  They just don't have that automatic "self-edit" button that most people do.  They say exactly what is on their minds when they see something that makes them feel uncomfortable.  When most of us feel uncomfortable in some way, but we may think certain things that we wouldn't say ...out lout anyway.  This is a skill that has to be taught to these guys.  And they may have to be taught over and over again.

I can only hope that someday it will actually click!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Perspective

Getting away from the reality of your life is a wonderful thing.  It can be really difficult to pull yourself away when your children are holding on to you for dear life.  I feel so responsible for their happiness and in this case...a lack thereof.  I get lost in it...sometimes to the point where I feel like I'm drowning.  It's just not healthy.  My positive energy just melts away, leaving me depleted, angry and sometimes even resentful.

I find that as the boys get older in some ways, they require more of me.  I didn't think it was supposed to work this way.  You think typically...older means MORE independent.  Even though Red is 16 years-old, he requires the most, at least emotionally.  I am his safe haven.  I am the person in the world who understands him most.  Why would he want to let go of his safety net?

Well this weekend, I put on my oxygen mask first and drove away to Houston to meet my new baby/nephew/godchild.  Just being in the presence of new life gives you such wonderful perspective and simple pleasure.  There is something about the essence of a new life that is so pure...it just makes you feel good.  Their sweet cuddles make you forget about the pain they will inevitably cause you when they become terrible 2 toddlers, pain-in-the-butt teens, and young adults who don't have the time of day for the mother who raised them.  (Yes...I am talking about the prodigal 23 yr-old son).  Since I will never have the pleasure of having another baby...my very gracious friend indulges me by sharing her wonderful babies with me.

We mostly just sit around enjoying watching baby C. sleep, eat, and poop for 2 days. I also enjoyed coddling and spoiling my 2 year-old niece.  We ate good food, drank good wine watched movies and played with my babies.  Baby C's personality seems very calm and introspective.  As I watch him I wonder what his personality will actually be.  His sister is a complete bundle of energy and entertainment.  She's talking up a storm, often uttering her favorite word that she says in the sweetest voice, "no."

My boys do miss me, of course.  Before I left, Red announces that he is giving up on his hobby of flying via Flight Simulator in order to focus on his video editing business.  I tell him he can do both,  but he seems to be an all or nothing kind of guy.
Subsequently, he spends most of the weekend claiming boredom.  He does not actually work on any videos.  Instead, he spends a great deal of time and energy complaining about one thing or another.  What he wants is attention...and he will get it one way or another whether it's positive or negative.  Whatever positive attention he receives while I am away...is not enough.  The good things his father does with him have a short shelf life.

Lately, he doesn't do well with unstructured time here at home.  He feels like he has to be entertained in some way...that is, when he's not on his computer.  If not, he wants to talk non-stop about a subject of interest or about something he wants to do or buy.  He can talk himself into a stupor, when the answer to his request is not what he wants to hear, or if you just disagree with him or try to redirect him to do something that will change his negative thought pattern.  This eventually turns into a miniature meltdown, which he apologizes for an hour later.  It's big fun!

He finally admits on Sunday that he just misses me and is mad because I am away.   This combined with his selective boredom presents quite a challenge for Dad.  Do I feel any guilt about this? Maybe a tinge.  But the bottom line is for MY sanity, I need time to decompress...to just think...to just be, without my every thought being interrupted...especially by negativity.  Dad gets this on a regular basis when he travels for business.  He doesn't want to count it as "peace" time, but the bottom line is that he closes the door to a hotel room at night and doesn't have to listen to any crazy talk for hours on end.  I don't care if he is working.  It's still a break from the insanity.

When I get home Monday afternoon...I'm not in the door ten minutes before he is all over me, like white on rice! Dad goes off to watch Monday Night Football while I deal with it. Luckily, I have tequila in the house. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Silent Sunday

It's really difficult for me to be silent.  I am a talker...and since there aren't always people around to listen to my ramblings...I talk through my writing.  However, this picture of my new nephew/godchild/best friend's baby boy is worth a thousand words...

Isn't he lovely? 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Homework Help!!!

Editorial note: Today's post is dedicated to team 7R...Blue's awesome team of teachers.  Thank you all!

Homework with Blue my Asperger tween,s has become this...thing...this major league, gigantic, anxiety-ridden, time-eating, monster-thing, which is starting to erode our quality of life after school.  There is hardly any time to play, relax, watch a movie, exercise or hang out with friends.  It's all about trying to slay this monster every night so that the teachers, "won't be mad because I didn't finish it."

This year he basically skipped a year of math and moved up into an advanced class which is on the 8th grade level instead of 7th.  Now don't get me wrong...his grades are all in the 90's, so he's doing fine.  But he comes home and acts like he is totally overwhelmed by the homework.  I'm not a math kind of girl...especially an advanced math kind of girl.  In a pinch, I can get on the internet and figure out the basics of a problem, but I'm not good at it by any stretch.

Dad does the helping out in the math department.  You didn't hear this from me, but he teaches everything the long way...and sometimes, the wrong way.  Which means, Blue actually ends up teaching him.  They do this Tango...and it takes them 2 hours to do an assignment that should take say...30 minutes.  Last week they actually worked on 10 word problems for well over 2 hours.  I had to leave the room and go have a drink to keep from pulling my hair out.

In my mind, homework should be practice of what you have already learned at school.  If you don't know it...you should go back to school and have them teach it to you until YOU KNOW it.  It's not about what your PARENTS know...or in this case what they DON'T know.

So I call a meeting with his teachers to talk about the homework issue.  In his case...he is college bound, so he doesn't want his assignments cut.  But, we need to make things more manageable so that he isn't freaking out every night...better yet, so I'm not freaking out every night.

I am so delighted to walk into a room this morning with each and every one of his 7th grade teachers...i.e., Math, Science, Social Studies, Language Arts, APS (study skills), the 7th grade Principle and his Special Ed. Tracking Teacher.  Wow!  All of these adults in a room...just to help my kid! Thank you teachers!

They all say that he is doing great!  He is an awesome student, but get this...he hardly asks any questions.  Sometimes he does get preoccupied with thoughts.  He doesn't always move as quickly as he could, or should,  but basically he's doing great.  Even when he stays after school for tutorials, he doesn't really ask very many questions, he just does his work and he does it in a relatively short period of time.

So why are we getting the okie doke here at home?  Why is he suddenly so confused, needs so much help and takes so much time?  Could it be that he just wants our 1 on 1 attention?  Does he want to steal a little bit of Red's thunder (he who requires our attention in a very negative, all-consuming fashion)?  Is he just zonked at the end of the day?  Is it his anxiety? Is he distracted by thoughts of, "I'd rather be on my computer than doing this freakin' homework?"  Oh and lets not forget the almighty, energy consuming quest for perfection.  Having Aspergers gives you a healthy combination of all of the above...especially the anxiety and being tired at the end of the day.  It takes a lot to hold it together and be perfect all day at school.  There is no energy left for perfection here at home.

I am so glad that we had this meeting because if I told him any of the things below...he would not believe or listen to me.  What the heck do I know? He got to hear it directly from the source (all of his teachers.  Here is what we came up with:

1) Blue...you are an awesome student!  We know you work hard and want to to things right.
2) Do homework to the best of your ability.  Circle the problems you don't understand and bring them in the next day for reteaching, or clarification. It will not be considered late.
3) Do test corrections (with a teacher) at school...not here at home (YAY!)
4) Work with Special Ed teacher to plan (stair step) larger projects.
5) Come in for tutorials before and/or after school...ask questions if you need to.
6) Go to the public library if you need a quiet place to work.
7) Leave your mom and dad out of doing homework with you...it's slowing you down!  WOO HOO!!!
8) When you spend less time doing homework, you can have some downtime to spend 1 on 1 with your parents doing something fun.

The bottom line is this:

Stop freaking out about everything...your teachers care about you.  They think you're doing great and they are here to help!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Generic Not Equal

All generics drugs are not created equal...so I came to find out this weekend.  Organized person that I am (not)...we run completely out of Depakote on Thursday night.  Friday morning I send Red to school without it, while I run to the pharmacy to pick up the refill.
"Your portion will be $227.00."  WTF???  How did my ordinarily $35.00 co-payment suddenly turn into $227.00?
"There must be something wrong," I say to the Pharmacy Tech.  She agrees to call my insurance carrier.  Basically, they tell her the amount is correct. Something about if there is a generic available...blah, blah, blah.

I call them myself and get the same answer.  There was a change in my plan?  How can they suddenly change my plan from one month to the next?  It's not time for renewal yet?  I am confused.  I can't have him at school without the med, so I go ahead and except the generic while I investigate further to see what the heck is going on with my insurance and what I can do about it.  I rush off to Red's school and administer the dose.  Just call me Nurse Betty...or Nurse Ratchid...whatever!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch that afternoon, Red has his first incident at the new school: Hiccup ...you know --oops I slipped and cursed out my teacher.  Are the two related?  New generic med given a little later in the morning and that afternoon we loose it with a teacher?  It's hard to say for sure.

He comes home lucid, but as the night comes to a close, he goes on a rant about the incident at school.  He's angry again.

Saturday night he takes his meds.  Several hours later, he asks me if he took them.  He doesn't feel tired at all.  He goes to bed around 11:30 p.m., excited about the Airshow we are going to the next morning.  When I wake him up on Sunday he says, "I couldn't sleep last night.  I just laid there with my eyes open until early this morning."  He opts out of going to the Airshow in order to sleep.  This within itself is a shocker.  He has been looking forward to this for weeks.

When he wakes up that afternoon he tells me, "I wasn't really sleeping.  I was just laying there most of the day."  Well, I know that he did sleep some, because I entered the room and he didn't budge.  Usually, if he's awake he starts talking when I come into the room.

I start to get really pissed.  I know the problem is this fake, generic Divaprolex that we were given by the pharmacy.  I make a phone call to his doctor (hating to disturb her on a Sunday) and she confirms that this indeed could be the problem.  The generic is just rushing through his system, not time released like the name brand Depakote.  

Sunday night I give him melatonin to make sure he gets to sleep.  A few minutes later he starts the crazy talk and I know he's getting really sleepy.  He falls asleep as soon as his head hits the pillow.

Two calls to the doctor and the insurance company later...I discover that this was the error of the pharmacy.  They coded wrong when they put the prescription through.  The code they used did not show that the doctor required the name brand.  When I take this crappy generic back to them, they put it through correctly and with my coupon code...I walk out the door without paying a dime.  There were no sincere apologies from them.  No store credit...gift card...nada!  

Needless to say...I will not be returning to that incompetent pharmacy ever again! I will be more organized and get all of my prescriptions via mail-order. Urghh!