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Friday, December 30, 2011

My Respite

Every girl should have a friend like the one I call my sister and Bestie.  Not to say that I'm Oprah...but she is my Gayle.  She is one of very few people in this world that I can be totally honest with, and not be judged.  We share secrets and confidences.  We are always there to love and support one another through good times and not so good times.  We can say anything to each other...feelings are never hurt.  She makes me look at my life with honesty and integrity.  She tells me the truth and I do the same for her.  She is my conscience, my advisor, my life-coarch.  I try my best to be the same to her.  We are totally different in many ways, and yet we are the same in so many others.  She lovingly provides a place for me to hide away from my life periodically.  This time, she showed me such love and generosity...I am left standing in awe and gratitude.

Usually about once per month or so, I gladly take the 2 and 1/2 hour drive away from my family to go see her.  Although I don't like driving, the trip down there is usually great.  I play my music loud.  I sing and dance in the car, so happy to be getting a break.  The trip back is somehow longer and harder.  This time however, my sister/friend sent me a plane ticket! I got to take a 30 minute flight, instead of a nearly 3 hour drive.  What a luxury!  Well, except for the going through security where I had the pleasure of having my first body scan and pat down.  Woo hoo!

This time her tween girls were at home instead of at their Dad's for the weekend.  One of the girls graciously gives up her room for me to sleep in.  She has a very comfortable king-size bed.  They allow me to shut the door and take naps if I want to.  My friend's husband is also so gracious to me.  You would think he hates to see his wife's gabbing best friend coming through the door...again!  Nope...he is great!  He knows me well, so he makes sure there is always plenty of wine and champagne in the house.  Therefore, the need for naps.  This time he even drove to take us shopping! 

There is a new addition in their family.  I not only have my lovely niece/godchild to hug, kiss and play with.  I also get lots of cuddle time with my new nephew!  He is 2 months old.  I get to feed him, and change him.  I think that is the entire reason I was put on this earth...to love and take care of babies.  It's just too bad, they have to grow into teenagers! :-D


On Saturday evening the family included me in their annual Christmas tradition of going to see The Nutcracker.  As you know, I have boys who have no interest in seeing a ballet.  Although, suddenly they had curiosity about it because I was going...without them.

Let me just say...it was a magical evening.  I am always so impressed by what dancers can do with their bodies.  I don't have the body frame to be a ballerina, but I certainly wish I could spend hours a day working on my body's strength and toning.  A girl can dream right?
I have known these little girls since they were toddling around!
Look at them now!
The entire family is loving, generous and gracious the entire time I am there.  I hate to say it, but it's true.  It's such a stark contrast to my life at home.  Where everything is tense, argumentative, and I am constantly avoiding land-mines.  The respite that they provide for me is invaluable and one of the biggest blessings in my life.  I am eternally grateful for their love and friendship.  They are my other family...and yes, my husband is jealous!

This weekend that I am writing about happened a couple of weeks ago.  I'm already ready to go back!  Thank you sister-friend.  I love you. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

All I Want for Christmas Is Some San-i-Ty

Editorial Note: If you're looking for a warm and fuzzy Christmas story.  Move on...it ain't happening here. 

Sitting at the kitchen table over left-over macaroni and cheese,  I browse through Facebook on my new Kindle Fire.  Yep...that's right, Papa's in trouble.  He bought a new electronic device for me to be obsessed with...to lose myself in.  I escape the madness all around me by peering into other people's lives on Facebook,  Twitter and blogs.  As I peruse through statuses and pictures, of all of these "normal" lives.  Tonight it hits me....we are not sitting around with family enjoying the holidays.  We are walking around on eggshells, constantly trying to avoid setting off a bomb in our own home.

The climax that we've been leading up to for well over a month is shamefully, anti-climatic.  The hundreds of dollars,  days and hours spent preparing for Christmas feel all for not.  No one around this freakin' camp is happy! (Well...I'm happy about my new Kindle and that my husband has been eerily nice to me).  The boys however, were happy for all of a few hours on Christmas day.  Not long after opening their gifts, they were off on-line trying to figure out how to spend the Christmas money they received from our relatives on what was not under the tree.  Instead of enjoying all that is right in front of them they are looking for more.

When I tell them that next year we will do things differently.  We will take the surprise element completely out of it to cut down on some of the anxiety.  "Nooo!" They sing in unison.  "That's what Christmas is all about Mom.  You can't do that."  Wanna bet! 
"No my dears...that is NOT what Christmas is all about.  Christmas is about the birth of Christ.  It's about giving to others.  It's about enjoying our friends and family.  None of which is what is going on here in this house." 

I read the status of Blue's best friend J's mom which says, "Listening to J play his guitar. What fun!"  "That is great!" I reply.  I press enter and suddenly, I loose it!  Tears just start falling uncontrollably.  Pictures of my happy family in California all together enjoying Christmas run through my mind.

Friends of ours are enjoying simple, joyful festivities all over the country with their "normal" families.  Here is J's family, (and J also has Aspergers, by the way) is enjoying family time together playing the guitar, while my Aspergers child is sitting here having one meltdown after another.  

He has run away today. He was only gone for 30 minutes.  My head was pounding so hard, I didn't even go and look for him.  He picked up a knife and threatened to hurt himself today.  Then he is remorseful yet, upset with himself for behaving this way.   He says, he feels out of control and that his doctor is not helping him.
"I HATE Dr. So and So!  She's not helping me!  This is her fault!" He says irrationally. 

The triggers???  Well...let's see, "Can you guys buy me a movie, because I can't spend my money on that.  I have to buy something else." Uh...No we can not.  We're all spent out.  Are you kidding me?  They have no idea that the bills from Christmas still have to be paid.  We did most of our shopping online...for convenience.  But when that credit card bill comes in...we plan on paying it...in full!  We are not buying another thing!  Especially when everything we've already bought has not caused happiness.  In fact, it's caused meltdowns.

When Blue recovers from that meltdown.  I'm thinking...that's it for the day.  No!  I am wrong.  At 8:30 p.m. he asks can he have company.  Uh...No.  It's a little late to be asking a friend to come over.  Not to mention we are all recuperating from your last meltdown.  This brings on another rant.  This is unreal! 

As I am sitting at the kitchen table...he sees me loosing it.  I believe this is a first.  I don't ever remember crying in front of him before.  I'm just so tired of doing anything and everything to hopefully produce an ounce of happiness from these kids.  From the things we buy them, to the places we take them, to the therapy and medication.  Nothing seems to be working right now!  I feel so helpless!  

Dad escaped to the movies for a couple of hours, because he was about to lose it.  He doesn't have half the patience that I do.  That would not be pretty, so I sent him off for a few hours.

The boys, try to comfort me for all of 10 minutes.  Before they move on to making cookies.  (Hey...at least I didn't have to make them.)  I just couldn't pull myself together.  In a way, I think it's good for them to see the emotion....for them to know that they are not the only ones who can loose it.  I am human and not always a pillar of strength.  I have limits. 

Of course...I will go on.  Tomorrow will hopefully be a better day.  Yada yada yada!   

Thank you to my Facebook Community  friends for the prayers and positive thoughts.  I love you all.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Cheers and Christmas Tears

My Dear Bloggy Friends,

I have missed you all over the past week or so.  I am not the most organized person in the world.  In fact...I'm on the opposite end of that spectrum.  So I have been pretty darn busy preparing for the holidays.

This year I had the added pleasure of helping my mom shop and prepare for her trip to see my brother in California.  That was an interesting experience.  My mother worked in retail for like 25 years. Yet, suddenly she doesn't know how to shop for herself.  Thank God...she'll be there running his life for 2 weeks,  and not here chiming in on every meltdown in her attempt to "help," which usually only makes matters worse.

School has been out for a week now...anxiety has risen to an all-time high.  So it's just been a barrel of fun around here.  I am so busy attending to the details of Christmas all while trying to prevent World War 3 right here in my own home.  It's been one meltdown after the next.  Thankfully, or sadly (I'm not sure) they are taking turns with their breakdowns.  It almost has a kind of musicality to it.  First one, then the other, over things that in the scheme of life, are not really important.  They want what they want, and they want it now.   Of course to them, each issue is very serious.

The thing is...the meltdown isn't really about the thing they are yelling about.  It's about the floating schedule, the unpredictability of each day, the change from the tight schedule of school to the loose schedule of vacation, the anxiety over all of the possibilities of Christmas and what they will be getting. And this year there are no trips scheduled.  Trips, are usually an added source of stress.  Who knew having no trips is ALSO an added source of stress.  Talk about irony!

Red -the 16 year-old is consistently bored...though he's enjoying the benefit of our new television and Blue-Ray player.  He doesn't reach out to any friends to get together, but he is bitching and moaning because he's bored.  "Everyday is the same he says."  Wait a minute...shouldn't that be a good thing?

"Are you in school?"
"No."
"Do you get to sleep in?"
"Yes."
"Do you get to relax and watch movies on our brand new television?"
"Yes."
"Have you gone out to eat a few times?"
"Yeah"
"Christmas is around the corner and you have gifts to look forward to right?"
"Yeah"
"Then it sounds to me that you have a few things to be grateful for.  Now if you choose not to realize that.  That's a choice."

Blue is on the edge because of the change in schedule, and the anxiety over his Christmas list, which he continues to revise every, single, day!  He finds these inadvertent things that he needs me to help him with "RIGHT AWAY", when I'm on my way out the door to shop, or finally relaxing after a long day of his brother's meltdowns.  Last night, he actually threatened to run-away.  He says, "I'd rather be homeless than live with this unhappy family!"  Such lovely words to hear from your child 2 days before Christmas.  I went to bed feeling very sad and very exhausted.

I have decided to cancel Christmas for next year.  At least...I am canceling the way we did it this year.  There will be no freakin' surprises.  They will name 3 gifts, within a budget.  If 1 of your gifts is large, that takes up your entire budget.  That's it!  Jesus got 3 gifts.  He didn't complain that they were too small, not the latest version or what everyone else has.

I would really like to replace Christmas with a vacation on the beach somewhere...just chillin.  In truth, that would probably cause more meltdowns than it's worth.

On Twitter the autism community has been posting these comments with the hashtag #YouMightBeAnAutismParentIf.  One of my post was #YouMightBeAnAutismParentIf...you're trying to figure out how NOT to have so much family togetherness for the holidays.

Well...Cheers to Christmas day my peeps! I hope that you and your family can enjoy the true reason for the season.

Let's hope it starts looking up from here.  If not, I have plenty of wine, Baileys, and spiked Egg Nog.

After all, "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!" As the song says.

Merry Christmas! 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ups, Downs & Turn Arounds

I wrote yesterday about the just wonderful weekend from hell that we had "Dear Blog".
Today, Red has an appointment scheduled with his Psychiatrist, which is right on time.  I decide to also sneak Blue in to see her as well.  We're driving down there on this soupy, gray, foggy morning during rush hour traffic.  Huh!
"Where are all of these people going?" asks Blue.
"To work," I reply.
"Well...why did you schedule an appointment at this time?" asks Red, as if the two of them actually have to navigate this traffic.  As if, they are both in a hurry to get where? Back to school??  The place that they complain about 24/7?
"I scheduled the appointment at this time, because this is the time she had available.  She's a busy woman."


Ups 
Red is actually on a real high note.  He's been smiling, being positive...showing affection and care for his brother's bad moods.  It's been a little eerie...good...but still, eerie.  It probably has something to do with the fact that a female friend gave him her number the other day.  "I just want to be her friend.  I'm going to take things slow," he says.  I only pray that he is capable of doing that.  History says otherwise. I hate to be negative...but I am not looking forward to going down this road.

So when we get to the doctors office...he presents as this happy-go-lucky kid that we don't recognize.  He has completely forgotten about fighting with his father a week ago and yelling at us because we all, "make him so mad!" this past weekend.  "Everything is going great!" he tells the doctor.

Downs 
Blue is honest in telling her about his spontaneous combustion and frustrations with home and school i.e.,  his anxiety, inability to ask for and/or accept help from adults, his peers who seriously annoy him.  She adds Intuniv, 1mg. to his repertoire (fingers crossed along with eyes and toes).  Not to mention..cha ching! goes the wallet!

Later, Red comes home from school with face hanging down.  He had a relatively good day I am told by the school Psychologist.  However, at the end of the day, he somehow started to get overwhelmed with emotion and actually got teary when talking with one of his teachers.  His mind is over-processing this new adventure into making friends with girls.  Then a friend of his told him that he was thinking of "hurting himself" because a girl is being mean to him.  All of this was just too much for Red to process.

Turn-Arounds
I put on a funny t.v. show and leave him sitting in front of it, while I run out to take Blue to Art Lessons. By the time I get back home, Red is laughing at the t.v. and chatting on Facebook.

Blue comes home in a relatively good mood, but then it goes downhill when he asks me to read his memoir and I make the mistake of giving him a few grammatical corrections.  "I didn't ask you to correct it!  I asked you to read it! You're too picky!"
Well...exCUUSE ME!!  I walk away without another word.
He ends up apologizing before bed.
"I'm sorry that we just can't get along mom.  I really don't want to argue with you.  It's like...I just can't help it."
Ugh! Blow to the gut! Painfully sad, yet touching me deeply.

I remember working for a mental health agency in my 20's.  This time of year was always tough.  The clients would all be falling apart.  I thought it was because of baggage from their past, or something they felt was missing in their lives during the holidays.  Who knew someday...this would be my reality?  And there is really no rhyme or reason to it all.  I am praying that next two weeks will get better.  That they will relax and enjoy our downtime.  Yet, I am cautiously afraid that they won't.

My personal Facebook Status yesterday was this:

"I can't believe this is my life."  I'm not saying it's bad. I'm not saying it's good.  I'm just sayin...

Despite it all...I try to keep my sense of humor.  Actually, if I didn't...I'd be in the nuthouse for sure!  So I will end this post on a funny note:


The other day, Red decides to look for something at the last minute, making himself miss the bus and making everyone late that day.  He shuts down...lays on the couch and refuses to move.  
"I'm not going to school today!  I'm just too tired!" 
Now recently he was baptized and told us that he is going to be trying his best to follow the example of Christ.  So I pull this question on him, "Do you think Jesus Christ would be laying on the couch, yelling at his parents, refusing to go to school?"
He replies swiftly in his matter-of-fact, flat, monotone voice, "Jesus didn't have to go to school.  He already knew everything."
HA! "And how do you know that?" I ask.
"Because he's God's son.  He knew everything when God sent him down here."
"Well...you don't know everything so you better get your but up and get ready to go to school!"

Life is just a bed of Roses...without the thorns removed. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dear Blog...

Dear Blog,

I am missing you.  Haven't seen you for a few days.  When that happens...it makes me a little sad.  You are in many ways one of my closest friends.  The one I tell my secrets too...for all the world to see.  (Wait a minute...that's an oxymoron.)

Why have I been away you ask?  Well guess what?  I've had a few hellacious days with my lovely children.  I don't know if it's the full moon...the pull of the earth...anxiety flying around in the atmosphere?  Maybe it's the holidays approaching and all of the stress that comes along with this "Most Wonderful Time of the Year?"

Christmas used to be my favorite season you know.  Two straight weeks of parties, events, dressing up, sleeping in.  Now it's a month's worth of work!  Preparation, shopping, decorating, sending cards, cooking, deescalating meltdowns, refereeing fights, cooling anxieties.  Oh and let's not forget pulling teeth to get my husband to help me with all of this.  He is the official Grinch who stole Christmas.  He's always a little bit grumpier around this time of year, because of the work that's involved and the money that we spend.  Bah Humbug!  For some mysterious reason, he always disappears for at least 2 business trips right before the holiday.

So Sunday was the biggest day from Hell that I've seen in quite sometime.  It started off with Red going off and being rude for no apparent reason, other than "We all make him so mad!"  This was by the way...during Church.  Isn't that lovely.  Hell...during church.  That is...church right here in our living room via internet.  He is usually gone to HIS church during this time, but he slept in today.  Lucky us!  So he decided to disrupt our service.  

He finally pulled it together and actually reached out to his Pastor who invited him to come to a youth event at church that evening.   He showered up and pulled out his video camera and off he went.  I believe they prayed with him while he was gone.  One issue down...check!  

Once we get Red calm...Blue decides to have a meltdown or 2 or 3.  I'm not even sure what they were all about, but it went on and off all day long, no matter what I did to try to sooth him.  Warm baths, yoga, comedy shows on t.v., baking cookies.

We haven't seen him act like this since before he started taking any medication.  Actually, we were trying to make an adjustment to one of the meds. (Big Part of the Problem)  We tried reducing it, because it appeared to be making him tired.  Well he completely fell apart.   Have I told you lately  how frustrating this freaking medication issue is?  I HATE IT! It makes you feel so completely helpless when things go wrong.  You question your decision to give it to them in the first place.  You blame yourself, and curse the fact that they actually need it...no matter how much you don't want them to.

It's so disheartening to watch your child go through such pain and frustration.  I have a tendency to get a side order of sympathy anxiety myself when one of them is so upset.  Why can't I just watch it like a bad movie and not actually feel every inch of their pain?  I guess that comes along with the package of being their mother.

Anyhoo...I'm glad to come back to see you dear Blog.  Not only are you a dear friend...you are my free therapist.  Thank you for being here when I need you.  You don't always solve my problems, but you are a wonderful release valve.

p.s. Readers...no time to edit this writing.  Hope you get the picture. Not much time available for beautiful writing during this lovely season. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

College?

We're driving past the local community college campus when Red asks, "Is that the college I'll be going to?"
"I guess so...unless you live down in Austin and go to a campus near where you live?"
"What do you mean?  I'm going to live with you...right?"
"Maybe...maybe not." If you can't be respectful of our home and our rules...you're out on your keester buddy! 
Of course, I'm not going to just kick him to the curb...but I want him to think that it's a possibility.

He is stunned...stumped...confused to say the least.  I am actually trying to shock him a little bit into reality.  I go on to explain that he could have his own apartment with a roommate.  He can't even imagine that.  He wants the best of everything...all of the comforts that will come along with living with us, instead of having to work hard to take care of himself.  He must have a big screen t.v. and a really nice computer.  He may not be able to afford all of that on his own.

"Community College only takes 2 years Mom.  I may not be ready to move by then."
"It could take 2 years if you are carrying a full load, but since they don't make accommodations like you're getting now...it will probably take you longer because you will have to take less classes."
"What do you mean they don't make accommodations!?" he asks incredulously.
"Going to college is a privilege not a right.  You have to study for test.  You have to do the assignments as given.  You will have to do homework and you will have to take some classes that you may not like if you want a Bachelor's degree.  They may assist you with some things, but there will be no modified curriculum and shortened assignments."

He looks at me like I'm from another planet.  He can't believe the audacity of these schools...making people do all of this work! Why should you have to take classes that you're not interested in?  Why should he have to do all of that reading and work on his own time...at home.  That's ridiculous!  You see Red really only wants to do what HE wants to do.  Anything that he doesn't really want to do seems overwhelming.  I really think that if he could just sit back and take handouts from us for the rest of his life...he would.  However, that offer is not on the table.  He is smart.  He is talented and he will have to use those talents and put them to work to pay for this grandiose life that he wants.  

"You can do anything you want to do." I tell him.  "If you don't want to go to college and take classes you don't like...that's fine.  You can into a technical program where you learn more about graphics and film editing.  You can still have a good life if you take your skills and make them better and be willing to work hard.  Laziness is not a part of your disability.  That is a choice you can make, but be prepared for a meager life."
Later when we get home...the conversation continues.
"So If I don't go to college and get a Bachelor's degree, can I still be rich?" Rich???  This kid wants to be rich without the work that's involved.  Now THAT's rich! 
"I don't know if you'll be rich.  But if you work hard and focus on your talents...you will be able to take care of yourself and hopefully some day, be able to take care of your family.  Many people with Aspergers have good jobs.  It is not a sentence to a meager life.  It's all about choices.  And I can't make the choices for you.  You have to make them yourself."

This boy really scares me!  

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bullying the Supercop -Part Deaux

If you read yesterday's post , you know that Blue made a formal complaint about the Shoe Licker yelling out his ID number to the whole class.  Yes, it was a major scandal...Identity Theft, middle school style.  I was told that the child was given some "heavy consequences"(whatever that means).  Blue was not happy with the results of his meeting with the Vice Principal.  When he comes home from school, a meltdown ensues as he is telling me about the meeting.  Apparently, it was pointed out to him, the roll that he is playing in the situation.  He doesn't believe that he has a role.  

It has been stated by a teacher that Blue actually will cross the room to go and engage with the students that he complains about.  He says, "I don't know what they're talking about!  I don't do that!  They come up to me."  Perhaps he didn't cross the room in this last case, maybe he hasn't done it lately.  If he has, he doesn't remember.  He feels like he is being called a liar.  I can not say for sure what is happening.  I can say that I have seen this kind of behavior here at home.  He treats his older brother like his child.  He must chime in on all house rule infractions.  He just can't seem to control this compulsion.  

Luckily, he was invited out for dinner with a friend to celebrate his friend's birthday last night.  He had to pull it all together to go.  That boy doesn't like to miss a meal!  After he returned and did a little homework, he was in a better mood for listening.  We talked about the only person whose behavior he can control is his.  He can not let himself be defined by these annoying people and THEIR behavior choices...advice that I received from my friend InnerAspie.  There is a fine line between annoying behaviors and bullying behaviors.  They are not trying to threaten or intimidate him.  They are trying to be amused by his over-reaction.  He gives them a huge pay off for their troubles. 

I also gave him the example of this bitch who stole my parking spot the other day at the mall.  (No I didn't use the word bitch to him...sure wanted to.)  I wanted to ram her car with mine, like in "Madea Goes to Jail."  But then perhaps...I would have gone to jail.  I could have scratched her car with my keys.  Sure thought about it.  I could have cursed her out, like I wanted to.  Instead, I let her know that what she did was rude and that she was wrong!  I saw red, my mind was temporarily clouded with anger.  I almost went to that real, ugly place.  I chose not to let her behavior put me in the extremely negative place that I could have easily jumped into.  

Blue has a lot to learn and a lot of work to do in learning how to control his reactions.  He is in this really intense anxiety phase right now where he is ready to go ballistic at the least infraction.  This doesn't help matters.  He is so tense right now, it's palpable. 

We will continue to work on this issue.  In the meantime, I have asked the school to give him more inclusion support in this particular class.  Someone who knows him well, needs to be in there to  support  him through this rough patch...to create a safer, more sane environment for him and the other children involved.  Did  I mention they have a permanent sub in this class while the teacher is out on Maternity leave?  Oh yeah...fun times! 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Bullying the SuperCop

Blue comes home very upset yesterday after school.  I know...what else is new right?  He says to me, "This kid went on the computer and looked up my ID number!  Then he yelled it out in front of all of these people!  They all know my ID number and they were saying out loud.  They're going to steal my lunch money!" 

Who knew...there is a problem with identity theft in middle school?

This is the same kid I've talked about before...the Shoe Licking Kid.  This kid just irritates the heck out of my boy.  He knows for sure that he can get a pay off.  If I say this...he will blow a gasket!  Is he really bullying?  Is he really trying to intimidate Blue.  I don't really think so.  He's just trying to be a pain int he ass and it's working.  

According to Blue however, there are four of these kids who make an effort to tease and make fun of him in some way shape or form almost daily.  "They come up to me and say these things to me while I'm trying to work.  They distract me and make me feel uncomfortable.  They make me feel like not coming to school everyday."

A big part of the issue for Blue is that he really would like to control his environment to include other people's behavior.  He does this at home with his brother.  He has to chime in on every single action his brother takes.  It's really like he can't control himself.  He brings attention to himself at school by playing this role of SuperCop.  My husband was there for a meeting once and he saw it in action.  He sees a bunch of kids horsing around outside.  He yells, "Hey you kids! Cut that out!" Totally...none of his business.  Yet, he really can not see that this plays any part in kids making him a target.  He just feels that it's unfair that they treat him this way.  

I validate and understand his feelings.  I don't want these kids making him feel bad.  He says to me last night, "I just need someone to help me.  I need someone to be on my side.  I just want to do my work without anyone bothering me."  All I could say is, "I understand."  Whenever I try to address the issue of the role that he plays...he gets angry with me.  

He does have a right to go to school and be comfortable and not have to worry about creepy kids coming up to him and saying irritating things.  I just don't know how much of that can actually be controlled.  They are not threatening him...or intimidating him, but they are still making him feel bad. 

He made an incident report this morning about the identification theft.  He wrote an excellent review of the situation.  "I've have various incidences with this student."  He's tired of it.  Quite frankly, so am I. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Crazy Funky Dreary


"Clearly you have to drink in order to live with these people." -My Facebook quote from Saturday night.

Well this has been a fun weekend...NOT! We got a new big screen T.V. for our living room.  My chairs are falling apart, but we have a new 55 inch T.V.!  No...it wasn't completely my husband's idea.  We've been talking about it for a while.  We've also been talking about the chairs for a while, but he beat me to the punch, I guess. You know, we've got to keep up with those Joneses (whoever they are).

Since we have a flat screen upstairs...we have all gotten a little spoiled and don't want to watch movies as much in our living room with the older projection t.v. Our extra visual boys of course like the best of all things technical.  They have been watching t.v. and movies more in our room because we have the Blu-Ray player up here.  My husband hates when the 16 year-old lays in our bed to watch a movie.  That was also part of the reason for buying the new t.v. for downstairs.  Hubby can be very territorial when it comes to our private space.

We also thought getting the new t.v. would be a great early Christmas present for the family and that the boys would love it!  Surprise! They do love it.  Initially, they were so excited when they saw it.  Unfortunately, it's been mostly down hill from there.  Red thinks we bought this say...um...just for him.  He's obsessed with it.  He wants to completely control it.  He wants to blast the sound of his movies through the house, with no consideration for others who are not watching said movie.

The underlying trigger is he had kind of a rough day at school on Thursday because of an unexpected fire-drill.  An alarm went off because of some kind of smoke detector defect.  The result?  Students were stuck outside for well over an hour.  He was not with his Special Ed. tracking teacher at the time.  He ended up getting kind of displaced.  Mind you...this is what he's been wanting.  He wants to be with all of the "normal" kids (as if there is such a thing).  The kids end up all getting into a big huddle.  There was some improvisational rapping.  He hates rap!  He hates crowds really.  He hates when teens are loud, cursing and wild...you know being teens.  But for some reason, he thinks he wants to be a part of it.   That is until he actually is a part of it,  and he doesn't know what to do.

He starts to get extremely agitated.  Luckily, a few teachers recognize this and they escort him to his tracking teacher.  By this time he is loud, agitated, looking angry, pacing and complaining non-stop.  He is deeply disturbed by his not being able to handle the situation.  He is disturbed because he saw a few friends and talked to them for a while, but somehow they ended up disappearing and he had no idea what to do.  He couldn't find anyone he knew.

The agitation was mitigated the when he saw the new t.v.  But the anger, and depression is still boiling beneath the surface.  So when Dad comes in and turns the sound down on the movie, because it is vibrating through the whole house...Red goes ballistic!  Everything he felt the day before at school erupted right here at home, where he is most comfortable.  Lucky us! I guess we should be happy that it didn't happen at school.

It got really...really ugly.  He basically attacked his father, physically.  This has only happened once before.  He was completely out of body...like another person.  We gave him something to calm himself down, but when these things happen, there is collateral damage.  Blue witnessed it...it made him completely anxious.  My mom instinctively reacts...not really helpful.  It completely sucks the life out of the entire family.  Everyone is left feeling...sad, drained, defeated and exhausted.

The following day, he is full of apologies that sound sincere but what do they really mean?  Will his actions change in the future?  Will he ever get to the point where he can control these outbursts?  How will he make it in the world with this kind of behavior?  Do we need to adjust medicine again???? Ugh!

Red is always looking for the next big thing that will suddenly make his life better.  That elusive thing over THERE...will finally make him happy.  That new TV,  THOSE new friends, a girlfriend, the new technical gadget, or program for his computer.  That has to be it!  That has to be the trick to solving all of my problems.  It's too hard for me to fix myself.  In fact...it's impossible, in his eyes.  So if I just do this, if I just get that...suddenly my life will be better.

If I could give him happiness in a box...I certainly would.  In fact, it would solve a lot of my problems, because I'd be rich! Instead, I am left feeling depleted.  What else can I do to help this boy be a little happier?  I need to find him a new therapist.  That's it!  I'll take him to a new doctor.  Maybe that will do it.  I will help him find some new friends.  That has to work!

The truth is that there are days when I feel like nothing that I do will actually work.  It doesn't keep me from continuously trying.  At times, I feel like giving up.  I certainly had a few of those moments on this crazy, funky, dreary weekend.

On Sunday morning, I felt like escaping into my writing instead of listening to a sermon at church.  I forced myself to listen anyway.  The message I received from the Pastor was, "Never give up.  God is there for you.  The next good thing may be just around the corner."

And there you have it...the answer I needed to hear.  It may not be the magic answer, but it will help me to keep looking.  

Friday, December 2, 2011

Sex Education or Not?

I have already raised 2 boys through the 7th grade.  One is now 23, typical and thank God...out of my house.  The other is 16, with Aspergers. and in the 10th grade.  So you would think I have a few things figured out by now.  Both of these boys have been through Sex Education presentations without even a blip on the radar.  In fact, they probably enjoyed it immensely.  Red, the 16 year-old has loved girls since before he could talk.  My 23-year old became a lover of the ladies in middle school.  Fortunately, none of them loved him back until about the 2nd year of high school. I could write a whole book on his misadventures with girls...but I won't go there.

Well...each and every child is different.  Just like each person with Aspergers, although they may have similar traits ...Aspergers shows itself differently in each individual.  So every once in a while...these boys still stump me.  Blue has always said, "I'm never getting married. I don't want any kids. They cost too much money, and I never...ever want to have sex!" (I know...famous last words.)  

Coming out of 6th grade last year, there was a girl who caught his eye.  "She's really nice to me.  It's like she gets me," he says to me.  
"But I just want to be like her really good friend." 
This year...there is another girl, but he won't talk about it much.  Whatever the attraction is...it's not too serious.  There have been no phone numbers exchanged...no e-mailing or texting.  Probably just the occasional glance and exchange of pleasantries. 

When the permission slip comes home for the 7th grade Sex Education presentation...he is quite adamant that he wants no parts of it.  I had exempted him from it last year.  This year, I forgot to sign the exemption.  His special education tracking teacher calls me yesterday and assures me that it is important from an educational stance.  She reminds me of how adamant he was that he could not deal with the biology, and human body sections of 7th grade Science, and so far he has done great with that.  
Another friend of ours had previewed the presentation for her boys who also have autism.  Dad and I agree to have him go ahead to the presentation with supports in place if he gets overwhelmed.  I later receive a phone call that he did fine.

When he comes home from school...he is livid! There is really no talking to or reasoning with him at this point. What does mommy do?  She takes him out for ice-cream.  Ice-cream makes everything better...at least temporarily.  Later that night...when dad comes home, the emotions flair again.  There are tears of frustration.  
"Why? Why? Why? Why did you do it?  Why did you make me go? Why do I have to learn about this?  It was so disgusting!  I don't want to do any of that stuff!" 

We try to explain it from an educational point of view.  "You need to know these things so that when others give you false information...and inevitably they will, you will know the truth.  You will be able to help your friends if they come to you to talk about things like this."  He loves to educate his friends. . Of course we talk about STD's...the importance of knowing what is appropriate and what is inappropriate sexual behavior, etc. He isn't really buying any of our sales pitch.  

I take to my fabulous Facebook "Confessions" community  for advice, support and hopefully some answers.  Everyone there is very supportive.  My favorite answer however, comes from someone who is an Aspie herself and also a mother of children on the spectrum.  Inner-Aspie had this to say:

"As a 33 yo married aspie woman with 3 kids, and a healthy sex life who STILL to this day is absolutely mortified if I even think I'm going to see someone on TV naked, I'd say let him have a pass on the video, but most definitely not on the education. He can learn the facts with someone he trusts, and not in a crowded room with his peers. Please listen to your kids when they say something is uncomfortable. Just because it seems inconsequential and not a big deal to you doesn't mean it's not to us. The reason we can get so upset so easily is because we feel not listened to. I'm not trying to judge any of you(so please don't take my words wrong), but just trying to give you a glimpse into what it feels like to be on the other side. I actually preview movies before watching with my husband to be sure there won't be any sex scenes. The feelings of embarrassment, and shame of seeing these sorts of things in front of anyone else is very strong to me and not something I'd appreciate mocked by anyone. I get upset (what you might see as angry and irrational) when I feel my opinion and feelings aren't valued and it makes me feel less of a human when people make jokes about it, or dismiss me because they don't understand my opinion."

I am so thankful for this insight and for the blessing of the community on Facebook and Twitter that I have connected with.  I immediately share this with my husband.  Lightbulbs are going off inside our heads.  Blues feelings deserve validation.  We need to find a more creative way to facilitate his education on this subject here at home.  That's it. Done deal. 

This morning I write a note and hand deliver it to his Special Ed. tracking teacher.  Blue comes into the room where the 3 of us have a private conversation about the whole matter.  It turns out, that a big part of the issue for him is that he made the error of talking to a peer about his feelings.  

The peer asked him, "So are you freaked out about the Sex Talk?" Blue answers, "What if the teachers take their clothes off to demonstrate?"  Of course, the kid found this to be hilarious.  (Have to admit...I would have laughed too!) Unfortunately, this kid shared the sentiment with the young lady that Blue has a little crush on.  Yes...totally humiliating.  "I don't want her to have weird thoughts about me," he says to us.

After further discussion about the benefits of this knowledge, Blue decides that he will give it the college try this afternoon.  He will go...but he has the option to leave, if he gets too overwhelmed.  This was TOTALLY HIS DECISION.  I am really proud of him.  We'll see how it goes.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed. 

That boy just amazes me.  I never knew I could love like this. 

P.S. You can find The Inner Aspie blog HERE.