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Friday, March 30, 2012

Living in Insanity-ville

The first child comes home angry and ranting about life being un-fair.  About him being discriminated against because he's only 16 and no one will hire him to be a professional Videographer.  "I need more professional equipment!  I need a better camera!  This is not fair!"  He goes on with I hate this...and I hate that for at least 20 minutes before I interrupt.

"I have to go pick up your brother."
"No! Don't leave.  I need to talk to you."
"You've been talking to me for 20 minutes.  You're to repeating yourself.  I have to go."
"Well can I come with you?"
Why? So you can complain more in the car.  I don't think so.
"I have no idea what kind of mood your brother is going to be in when I pick him up.  The last thing he needs is to listen to you ranting if he's already upset.  The boys don't want to hear that either."
The boys I'm referring to are Blue's best friends who carpool with us.  They are also on the spectrum.

It turns out it's a good thing.  When I pick Blue up from school he is very ...well, blue, sad, over the whole ridiculous middle school thing.  The kids who tease him and try to make him feel less than.  The kids who make fun of him for being nice to a girl, and tease him that he must "like her".  He takes it all so personally.  His emotions and feelings are so extreme.   Having his besties in the car usually cheers him up, but not today.

By the time we pull into the driveway at home, he says to me, "I just can't do this anymore.  I don't want to go back to school.  I'm tired of fighting with everyone at home.  I just want this all to end.  I just can't live anymore." OUCH! Blow to the gut.  Heart sinking in to the depths of the ocean.  These are words a mother never wants to hear coming out of the mouth of her child.  I know within my heart that he doesn't really want to end his life, but he wants to end his pain.  And he wants me to understand the depth of his pain.

Before we can get out of the car...here comes Red.  He couldn't wait for me to come into the house to start moaning and complaining.  I stop him in his tracks.  "Look...your brother is feeling pretty bad right now.  I need you to go back into the house and let me deal with him, and when we come in, I need you not to agitate him and set him off.  I don't want him to end up in the hospital.  He's feeling that bad."

Of course I get ninety questions before he actually backs off and goes into the house.

I call the Neurologist who is currently prescribing his medication.  He suggest that I get him to see his Psychiatrist, or take him to the local pediatric Mental Hospital.  I am so not even trying to here this.  That place is horrid!  I had to place Red there once and I vowed never to go back there.  I don't care if I have to drive a country mile to find somewhere else for help.

Blue can hear my conversation with his doctor.  He notes the serious possibility of him having to go to the hospital.  He doesn't want to go there.  I make an appointment for him to see his Psychiatrist the following day.  Meanwhile we all treat him with kit gloves doing everything we can to keep him relaxed.  I don't leave him alone at all.  Before bed, I have dad rub his back with a GABA calming cream and lavender essential oil.  We make sure he goes to bed early.  Having good rest is really important for his mood.

Meanwhile, I am trying to keep Red from ranting about becoming a Professional Videographer.  He is reading all kinds of information on the internet and comes up with the ridiculous notion that he needs a $15,000. camera to make this all happen.  A friend of the family has asked him to do amateur video of a small wedding.  He thinks he can't do it without a professional camera (which he would probably have no idea how to use).  I have to explain the impracticality of his request while trying to keep him from amping up and disturbing his brother who is already off to bed.

To prove his point he begins to read to me and his father a good 3 paragraphs of technical writing in support of his need for professional equipment.  He reads it so eloquently with such fluency, I'm a little taken a back.  This is the boy who says, "I can't read! It's too hard!"  So when he finishes reading, I stop him dead in his tracks and say, "Hey! Is that YOU?  Reading all of that technical information so quickly and easily without making any mistakes?  So you can read!!!"  And with that ....we all give him a round of applause and a standing ovation.
He can't do anything but smile.  And thank God...he shuts up for the rest of the night!

I crawl into bed, feeling a little sorry for myself, for my children, for our crazy life in this house of insanity.  I have a glass of wine or 2 as I browse through Facebook and read a couple of blogs that I follow.
My friend Scotty (John Scott Holman), a fellow writer and Aspie, writes about being homeless right now and his father taking advantage of him, stealing his money and refusing to pay it back.

I read a blog by my friend Rhonda, of  Pugariffic -"I Hate Autism"  who has a 17 year-old son with autism who is pretty big and strong, a gentle-giant until he looses it, has a meltdown and rages, he physically hurts her, but she refuses to put him in a group home or Residential Treatment because of the barbaric conditions there.

Then I read about my friend Laurie @ Adopting Special Needs -There is no Calvary.  She writes about her adopted daughter 8 year-old Hope who has PTSD, among other things, and rages at any given moment, biting, kicking scratching and hurting her mother because she forgot her pencil in the car.  She writes how she may have to be placed in a Residential Treatment Facility so that she can no longer hurt the members of her family, all because some sicko physically and sexually abused her when she was younger.

Before I close my eyes I am praying for my bloggy autism friends, and my "Confessions" Facebook Community asking God to continue to give them strength to endure the insanity that we are living through.  I pray also for my own children, and suddenly realize, my Insanity-ville is not as bad as many others.  My autism is not your autism.  It's still hurts when my child is in pain and I can't do anything to magically take it all away.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

To Med or Not to Med -That is the Question (Redeuax)

Editorial Note:  This is a revised post that I wrote in September 2010.  I post it today because of a heated discussion on the decision to medicate on my "Confessions" Facebook Community Page last night.  The decision to medicate your child is an agonizing one.  When you feel like your back is against the wall, and you physically feel the pain that your child is going through, you do whatever you can to make things better.  I loathe the trial and error process of finding what works.  But we did find something that made my son's 1st year in middle school successful and happy.  Now half-way into his 7th grade year, we find ourselves challenged agin with his overwhelming anxiety which leads to depression.   


Unfortunately,  today we are back to the drawing board. It is my hope that people don't judge other parents for what the choose to do with this heart wrenching decision.  Personally, I don't really care about judgement.  If I did...I would never have written my first post on this blog.  I do what I have to do to help my children, to educate others about our journey, and to help parents of children on the spectrum feel less alone.


Here you go...

September, 2010

I haven't written much about little boy Blue lately.  The truth is, what has been going on is extremely personal and so painful it's difficult to put down in words.  It's bad enough that the thoughts and feelings have been swimming around in my head and weighing on my heart.  However -if our journey can help someone, it will not have been in vain.  This is our story...

Blue has always been my easy child, even though he isn't really easy. I've seen people with "easy" children and sad to say, sometimes, I envy them.  Blue is unique. He is special.  He is a brilliant, deep thinker, who asks  questions that I would never think of, much less be able to answer.  Even when I do, he tells me that I am wrong.  Those "easy", ordinary children may be easier to parent, but will they grow up and make the world a better place? Perhaps. My son's brilliant mind, and out-of-box thinking will serve him well in his future.  I just have to make sure he makes it there.

He has always been challenging, but in comparison to how difficult his brother is to raise, he is a breath of fresh air.  He has a good heart, with compassion for others.  He is thoughtful -remembering my favorite flowers and making sure that his father would take him out to get them on my birthday.  His brother won't even sing "Happy Birthday" to me, make or buy me a card unless coerced.  Blue comes downstairs on Saturday and Sunday and asks everyone what they would like for breakfast.  He starts making homemade waffles or pancakes, whether we want them or not.  I love that he wants to cook.  I would just rather not deal with the mess.

In the past six to 12 months however, this sweet kid can quickly turn into a little venom spitting little monster.  That lovely breakfast he's preparing can turn into a meltdown over when to make the eggs.  "You guys think I'm stupid! I don't know anything! Just forget it! I'm not eating! I'm not cooking! Just leave me alone!  This is all your fault!"

He absolutely loathes the very sight and definitely the sound of his brother.  His mere presence in the room can lead to screaming, hitting, and arguing.  He has to put on ear plugs so that he doesn't have to hear him chewing, singing or breathing.  He wants to control his brother's every move.  He doesn't want him "eating up all of our food!" He doesn't want him to bite his nails. Typical sibling issues turn into knock down drag out fights, where it's literally like David vs. Goliath, but Blue is so angry that he doesn't care how big Goliath is.  He will go up and just whack, punch or kick him, not thinking about what the ramifications could be of attacking someone twice his size, who is also not exactly known for his self-control. We haven't been able to do things as an entire family lately.  If we do it's definitely not going to be fun.  In fact, we took separate vacations this summer.  It just seemed like such a waste of money to go on vacation to have a horrible time.   

His tears have been infinite.  His anxiety is like an overgrown garden full of weeds.  The fear of storms is off the charts.  It has become impairing to the point of his not wanting to leave the house for days on end.  He is  hiding out in his safe-place at the least little threat of showers.  There are days he's hiding when the sun is shining. 

We have tried our best to avoid going down the road of medication, but it was becoming very apparent that he could not manage his emotions and anxiety on his own.  He is so bright and imaginative, I think my husband feared that somehow his personality would be impacted.   There is always a fear and stigma in the back of our minds when it comes to mental health medications.  We want to believe that we are strong enough or smart enough to conquer our own problems.  The truth is that it is medicine indicates illness.  We don't hesitate to treat any physical illness our children have.  Why do we hesitate to treat illness of the mind or chemical imbalances? I don't why there is this reticence, but I know that it's there.  However when your child in such pain and agony, you feel like you have to do whatever you can to help them.

Blue was evaluated and it was determined that the best option for him would be a low dosage of Zoloft.  It is supposed to help with the mood, the anxiety, and obsessiveness that is typical of a child with Aspergers.  It was also suggested that we try something else to help him with agitation.  I opted out of starting with two medicines.  I wanted to go with the one to see how that would help or not.  It was a hard enough decision to have him taking anything at all.  They did suggest that I keep a close eye on him when he started taking it to ensure that there was no suicidal ideation. 


I had plans to go away for the weekend with my husband.  We had not been connecting lately.  Stress levels in our house were palpable. I had been terribly depressed by watching my sweet child unravel before my eyes while feeling helpless to help him.  I was walking on egg shells trying not to piss him off.  I was constantly on call for breaking up a fight.  I was physically and mentally drained.  I needed this trip!  I informed the doctor of my impending travel plans.  She suggested that we wait until I returned to start the med.

Wednesday night I had a conversation with the boys about expectations for behavior while I am away.  Thursday morning, they actually sent me off with a bang.  They were talking to each other and getting along great.  I felt good about leaving.  That is until I got the phone call...

The sun was shining as the van pulled into the airport.  I was feeling about ten pounds lighter as I walked through the airport doors -and then the cell phone rings.  It's the middle school.  Blue is in the office with the school Psychologist because of a paper he has written which says he feels like his life is so horrible he wants to end it. Pow! Punch to the stomach.  The wind in my sails stopped blowing, the air was still.  My heart is pounding like I just ran a mile, minus the endorphins.  I'm standing there like a deer in the headlights in front of security.  How can I possibly go through and get on a plane?

"Mrs. W., we've spoken to Blue and he is not backing down about how he is feeling.  At this point we are thinking we need to call the county mental health evaluation team to assess him, to see if he needs to go to the hospital.  What the hell? He was fine when he said good bye this morning?  Suddenly, I remembered, the evaluation process the previous week.  They had asked him some very pointed questions about self-harm. He admitted that in anger he has said, "I just want to kill myself!"  I always thought it was dramatic  imitation of his brother who has shouted such things in the past.  In my gut, I knew that neither of them really wanted to hurt themselves.  They were in pain and felt helpless.  It was a way to express how much pain they were feeling.  It seemed to me that those pointed questions got him to seriously thinking about ending his life.

I talked to him over the phone and express to him how much  I love him -how much his entire family loves him.  I remind him of the support he has there at school -how smart he is and how impressed his teachers are with him.  "I know that you're feeling really down right now, but I promise you things will get better.  We are going to try that new medicine next week, and it will help you feel better.  In the mean time tell me what you need to get you through the day?  Would you like to stay with your support teacher in her room today?"  I reminded him of the great weekend he had planned with his best friend -giving him something to look forward to.

It takes some work, but after thirty-minute exchange, he seems to feel better and more optimistic.  Together, we come up with a plan to get through the day and through the weekend.   It was still difficult to go get on that plane.  My heart was definitely pulled toward home and my son.  At the same time, my husband and I so needed to reconnect, and I needed to rejuvenate, before I lost what is left what is left of my own sanity. 
I am a woman on the edge.  Like my son's favorite group Linkin Park, sings, "Everything you say to me, pushes me one step closer to the edge and I'm about to break!" I have to take care of myself in order to take care of my boys.  I also have to take care of my marriage so that my husband and I can work together to parent them as a team.   

I left him in the hands of my capable mother who supported him through a difficult few days.  I knew that she wouldn't let anything happen to him.  I called constantly to check on him -never receiving any positive news, but he was surviving.  My heart ached for him.  He passed on the opportunity to go spend the night with his best friend because of the possibility of inclement weather.  He then became angry with my mom and himself because he felt sad, lonely and isolated.  He felt awful about himself for letting the anxiety control him. I prayed for him incessantly and we both made it through.

On Sunday our flight was canceled, then another one was delayed.  By the time we made it to Dallas, there were no more flights coming to Austin.  There was no way I wasn't going to be there when he woke up Monday morning.  We rented a car and drove three hours to make it home by 1:30 a.m.  We started the Zoloft that morning as planned, and though it supposed to take time to build up in his system, he seemed to be in a better mood when he got home Monday afternoon.

I am ambivalent, optimistic and hopeful. One thing I know for sure...this boy is special beyond measure. As I've heard Oprah say many times, "His future is so bright it burns my eyes."

Friday, March 23, 2012

Up in My Business

"Mom why are you in my business?" the boy has the nerve to ask me.
"You are 13...I am your mother.  Your business is my business."

We are driving home from school with his best friend in tow.  We carpool together everyday.  I love that I have the opportunity to listen to their business, their conversations...so that I know exactly what's on their minds, how and what they are thinking.  His best friend and his twin brother are also on the spectrum.  So there is no hiding anything.  There is no pretense.  They say exactly what is on their minds, which is typical of individuals on the spectrum.  A quality I find endearing.

Sometimes I wonder, "Do they know I'm sitting here in this car?"  They have been known to talk about girls, their body parts and such, as if I'm not listening.  The other day his friend says, "I want to ditch school next week and go to the movies.  Do you think the cops will come looking for me?" Of course we live in suburbia hell, and the nearest movie theatre is at least 5 miles away, with no sidewalks between here and there.  The school also calls your parents if you don't show up.  He has no way to make his ditching school scheme happen.  But hey, I it doesn't hurt to dream.

So Blue is inviting himself over to hang out with his friend and do homework.  Only, his friend, Benji (lets call him) already has plans to hang out and do homework with another friend.  In Blue's mind, that does not matter.  He has it set in his mind, he doesn't want to come home.  He had a big blow up fist fight with his brother this morning.  He wants to escape.  He wants to hang out with his friend.  He doesn't see himself as being slightly pushy and putting his friend on the spot, but I can hear the desperation and insistence in his voice.

He was involved in a similar circumstance not long ago.  Another friend, whom he is not that close too, continuously to invited himself into Blue's plans with his best friend.  Blue didn't like it.  "Why does he want to do everything with me?" he would ask me.  "It kind of creeps me out."  Of course I told him, he needs a friend and he would like for it to be you! But I guess, either the connection is there, or it's not.  Some people you like, but you don't totally connect with, some people you just naturally feel close to.  True friendship can not be forced, especially in the teen years, and especially with an Aspie.  There is no such thing as pretense.

When I say to him, "Blue, Benj has plans already.  Do you think maybe you're putting him on the spot by inviting yourself?"  I get the, "Mom! Why are you in my business?"

"Excuse me, but it is my job as your mother to help teach you social skills."  I don't want his best friend to end up feeling the same way about Blue, that he felt about the other boy a few weeks ago.  Like, wow...Blue is inviting himself over again! I don't want to hurt his feelings, so I better say yes.
Of course, Blue does not want to here this, especially from me.  What do I know anyway?  He hates to be corrected or redirected...especially, by me.

"I'm trying to be independent, making my own plans after school," he says.  I can get with that.  That's great.  He has always been independent.  He will get on the phone in a heartbeat and make social plans, which is more than I can say for his 16 year-old brother.  Red is just now getting the hang of this socially independent skill.

It turns out, that Benji is fine with having Blue come over.  At least that's what he says.  Of course, he has to ask his parents first.  (A step, that Blue often overlooks in his quest for independence.)  Benji steps out of the car to go ask his dad if it's o.k. that both friends come over.  This is when Blue and I are have the conversation about being socially appropriate.  By the time Benji comes back with his father's approval of the plans, Blue is too unhappy with me.  He no longer wants to stay.  He tells Benji that he may come back later, after he cools down and has a snack.

Once we get home, I realize that Blue is actually really tired.  He was up late the night before.  Several nights recently, he hasn't slept well because of thunder storms.  What he really needs is to come home, have a snack and decompress...alone.  He plays a race driving game on his newly upgraded PC, has an early dinner, does a little homework and totally forgets about hanging out with his friend.  He is in bed by 9 p.m. and wakes up with a much better disposition the following morning.

Having Mom up in his business, turns out to be a good thing. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Leaving Las Vegas

O.K. so the garden has been watered.  Now what?


Vegas with hubby was a blast.  We had this very same trip last year.  He was there on business and flew me in for the weekend to enjoy a nice hotel at the company rate.  Last year was Planet Hollywood.  This year was a new hotel called The Cosmopolitan.  The rooms are very swanky.  Ours is a 1 bedroom suite with a view to die for.  The hotel sits next door to the Bellagio and across the street from Paris.  So we have the dancing water fountains and the Eiffel Tower as our view.  To top it all off, there is a soaking tub built for two with the same view.  Need I say more.  I mean as far as I am concerned there is no need to leave the room other than to eat!

We take everything slow, nice dinners, a little dancing, a comedy show, a few slot machines.  Slow walks, cocktail sipping and people watching.  We laugh, we talk...long, slow,  perpetual in depth conversations.  We talk about changes that we need to make in our lifestyle in order to maintain our connection.  How we can't allow our circumstances and our children to completely take over our lives. We vow to spend one on one time together, at least 2 to 3 times per week.  We have to take time for one another, put down the laptop, stop working so much, and make time for us as a couple.  Otherwise, we become roommates who are co-exhisting for the purposes of raising these high-maintenance children.

I am look forward to returning home, liking and loving each other again,  spending time together, working on the same team, being a united front, instead of having our own resentments and battles in the background.  Being a couple, not just parents.

We leave Las Vegas, united, connected, resolved to make our marriage a priority.  I'm feeling like I got to spend time with my boyfriend again.   It is absolutely, awesome.

Cut to the following day, we return home...I am sick.  My head is full of congestion.  I have shortness of breath, chills, sore throat, coughing, watery eyes, the whole nine-yards. I need rest.  The kids are on Spring Break and want to be entertained, driven here there and everywhere.  They want company over at the house. Work for hubby has piled up from being at the conference the week before so he is working like crazy.  Basically, the reality of life slaps us in the face...big time.

We make it through the week on a wing and a prayer.  On the weekend, hubby is working on upgrading and fixing the boys computers.  He takes them out for some guy time, which I appreciate.  They even meet our eldest son, Slim Shady, and all have dinner together at Red's favorite restaurant.  Afterward they all go to the electronics store where Red ends up having a meltdown and then brings it home with him.  Thanks Dad for all you've done for me...I hope you didn't think I would actually show you any appreciation.

We have not had more than a few minutes time together since we've been home.  I think maybe we watched a little t.v. together one night.  That's it!  So much for the vows, the resolve, the promises to make changes.  I pray that we will get back to that, now that I am well, and the kids are back to school from Spring Break.

The good news is...we have been more loving, kind, and patient with one another and with the kids since we've been home.  We have been working on the same team.  And at least we know, that 18 years later, we've still got it.  That we are indeed two people who love and respect one another.  We do still enjoy each others company.  Minus the stress of raising special needs children, he is still the wonderful man that I married.  And he still has a pretty hot girlfriend! Ha ha!

I already miss my boyfriend and the feeling of freedom we had in Las Vegas.  What happened in Vegas didn't stay there.  We brought the love back home.   

Friday, March 16, 2012

31 Flavors

"Important Announcement: The boys are getting along today.  
I repeat...the boys are getting along today. 
O.K. Carry On."  
We now take you back to your regular programming.  
--My Confessions Facebook status yesterday. 

Good days are few and far between so I have to take note when they happen.

Blue notices it too, "This is a pretty good day," he says while eating his cone of vanilla frozen yogurt.
"No way!
Is that possible?
You're having a good day with you OWN family!?" I tease.

I can't tell you how many times I've heard lately, "I just can't be comfortable with this family.  Everyone is always fighting. I'm only happy when I'm with my friends." This is pretty typical teenage behavior.  Thank God for something normal in our life.

Of course, he does not see that HE is one of the main ingredients in most of these arguments.  He has zero patience when it comes to his older brother's idiosyncrasies and behaviors.  He feels the need to constantly correct and attempt to parent him.  He usually can not stand to be corrected or redirected in any way from me.  He is quite often the one who is blowing a gasket and not doing anything to help create peace in our family. But hey...this is not what this post is about.

Today is a real go with the flow kind of day for all of us.  I go to the doctors office only for her to tell me what I already know, "You have allergies combined with a minor upper respiratory infection. Keep drinking fluids, taking the meds you're taking and of course, get plenty of rest." HA HA!
I ask her if she can write me a prescription for a hotel room.  If she could...I know she would.  That's why I love her.
My family insisted that I make an appointment to see my doctor, so I did.  Before I leave her office I say, "At least we had this time together.  This might be the most pleasurable part of my day." She laughs because she knows my story.  She realizes that my children are at home, waiting me to instantly get well, so I can drive them all over town.  She recommends that I go get a book and a cup of coffee instead of going home.

I take my time getting there, but when I finally do, I put some hot dogs on the grill for the boys lunch instead of going out to buy it, as Red wants me to do.
"I'll be glad to take you if you are willing to pay for it," I say.
"I can't spend MY money on food!"
"Oh...I guess we better eat at home then."

At 4 p.m. Red has an appointment with someone he's selling something to through CraigsList.  I take both boys and the dog with me to Starbucks to meet this stranger.  I am actually very proud that Red created the ad with my approval, not listing any personal information.  He read all of the rules for selling, which at first he said were too hard to understand, but he got through it.   And within a couple of days, he had a sale set up.  Everything goes very smoothly.  The middle-aged very decent looking man hands Red the 80 bucks.  Red hands him the box full of stuff and the guy goes on his merry way, with me taking note of his license plate, of course.

I have my mother to thank for my paranoia.  She says as we're walking out the door, "I hope he doesn't stick a gun in your face or follow you home and rob you!  That's what they do in L.A. you know."  We have Harry our vicious Maltese with us just in case he turned out to be a serial killer.  Harry would lick him to death.  Funny, she didn't have anything negative to say when I bought her practically brand new day bed from CraigsList.  Or that lovely cherrywood armoire for her room.

After the transaction goes smoothly, the boys both walk over to OfficeMax so Blue can buy a new mouse pad.  That's been on his list of things to buy for weeks now.  They go in alone, while I sit in the car playing Words With Friends.  Red actually gives his brother a few dollars to help him pay for his goods. This is followed by our trip to Baskin Robbins, where he buys his brother's ice-cream.  This is HUGE!  Red is usually terribly selfish when it comes to parting ways with his money.  His money is usually spent on things for himself...and no one else. Well, he doesn't mind paying for things for a friend, but family?  That's another story.  But not today!

The sun is shining at about 78 degrees on this spring day.  It couldn't be more lovely, that is unless we were in California, where there would be slightly less humidity.  But of course, the likelihood that we would have been robbed during our Craigslist transaction, would have been higher.  I guess life is full of tradeoffs.

We sit outside at the a table eating our ice cream.   I  enjoy the breeze while the boys take Harry for a little walk around the grassy area of the outdoor shopping center.  I can't help but think, 'Wow...my boys, eating ice-cream, going for a walk... together.  This is a precious moment...one to be savored.'

What a difference a day makes.

Editorial Note: Make sure you read yesterday's post: Adventures In Toilet Plunging.  You'll see  exacly what I mean by "What a difference a day makes." It is a stark contrast from today. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Adventures in Toilet Plunging

Once upon a time in a life far-far away, a mother was able to leave her then 10 and 13 year-old sons at home alone, for a couple of hours.  A couple of pizzas, movies, and video games were enough to keep them occupied.  She would only be a phone call away on the cell.  The senior-citizen neighbors across the street would be available for emergencies.  If the 13 year-old (Red), was being too annoying to the 10 year-old (Blue), would simply go into the parents room, lock the door and watch t.v. in their bed until they returned home.

Fast forward to age 13 and 16, the boys have evolved into the mindset of testosterone charged, hormonal, teenage boys who have explosive personalities and zero patience for one another.  Both boys are on the autism spectrum as they've been all of their lives, only now this means that they can and will explode at any given moment when unexpected, annoying things happen.  They can hardly stand to be in the same house together without fighting about the smallest infractions.

Mommy is sick with an annoying head cold, but her taxi duties are not alleviated just because she isn't feeling well.  She isn't given any sick days.  Her wicked mother (Nana) must get to her hair appointment at the local Barber & Beauty shop, which is about 10 minutes away.

The 13 year-old boy has just awakened from a pleasant night of slumber.  He will not be ready in time to go with them today.  Mommy has decided to take the 16 year-old with her, so that he can get his hair cut, while Nana gets her hair done.  Therefore, not leaving the two boys together...in the house...alone.

Scratch the record....at the last minute, the 16-year-old boy decides that he has to go to the restroom and that he will be a while (if you know what I mean).   He had been too busy farting around (pun intended), starring at the laptop for the past 20 minutes, to figure out that he needed to go to the bathroom before it was time to actually leave.
At this point, there is only 10 minutes before Nana's appointment, and Nana absolutely hates to be even 2 minutes late.  Mommy decides to leave the 16-year-old boy in the bathroom taking care of his business.  She tells him, she will be back to get him, as she wants to ensure that Nana makes it there on time.
This means that the boys will at home...together...alone, for approximately 20 minutes.  They are teenagers after all.  What's the worst that could happen?

The 13-year-old boy comes down the stairs to prepare his breakfast.  Suddenly, he realizes that he is not alone in the house.  His brother is in the restroom.  Great!  I thought he was going with Mom! 

Moments later, the 16-year-old boy yells from the bathroom, "Blue can you get the plunger?  The toilet is flooding again."
Seems simple enough right? 
"You are such an idiot!  You flooded the bathroom again!!  I'm not getting the plunger," screams the younger brother!
"But you have too get it!"

Rigga ma ro and nonsense ensues.

Blue the 13-year-old, calls Mom on the cell.  He is yelling into the phone, not listening or letting her get a word in at all.  Not that Mommy has much of a voice.  She is sick remember?  Mommy hangs up the phone, not hearing much of what he said.  She is already heading towards home and will be there within 5 minutes.

When she arrives, she parks in front of the house, noticing the front door is open.  Faintly, she hears some one call, "Mom" from behind her.  It's Blue.  He is wearing no shoes, but has come from accross the street.
"May I speak to you for a minute?" he asks her very sternly.
"I had to get out of here.  Why did you hang up on me?" he continues
"You were not listening to me.  You were just yelling into the phone.  If you had been listening, you would have heard me say, that I was on my way home," she replies.
"Well...I had to get out of here! Red was trying to strangle me.  And I was going to call the police, but he wouldn't let me!  So I ran to our neighbors house!"
"He what?! and you did What!?"
She listens a little further and the story doesn't make very much sense, which really isn't all that surprising.
You all are fighting over the toilet plunger!  Seriously??? And it gets so intense that you have to run to a neighbors house???  I've been gone for all of 20 minutes and it got this bad?  Really??  What do I have here...two toddlers?

As time passes and tempers deminish...she gets a little closer to the real story.

After Blue started screaming, "I'm not getting the plunger.  You're such an idiot, etc.  Red, comes out of the bathroom, pants down, flag-waving, (and by flag, you know what I mean) cursing at Blue.   Blue starts calling mom and dad on the cell phones. He then threatens to call the police because Red is cursing and making crude comments.   Red comes after him to try to take the phone away so that he will not actually call the police.  Red has an extreme fear of police officers.

"So when exactly did he try to strangle you? Well...he just, kind of, tried to grab the phone away from me."
"Can you show me how he did that?"  He demonstrates what looks like Red grabbing around his body, trying to get the phone.
"Do you know what strangling is?" Mom asks.
"Yes...it's like um, like...choking?"  He demonstrates the choking motions.
"So did he ever put his hands on you like that?"
"Well...um...no."
"But you just told our neighbor that he tried to strangle you."
Our very nosey neighbor!  The one who likes to talk to everyone in the neighborhood and gossip!  You just basically accused your brother of a crime, in front of THIS neighbor of all people!  You couldn't have gone to Ms. C our nice neighbor.  You know, the one who has her own special needs child and would probably understand.  The one who minds her own business.  Nooo! You had to go to the loudest mouth, in-every-body's-business-neighbor! Great!  This just just absolutely, freakin-great!

"Well I meant RESTRAIN me, not strangle!"

20 minutes!  Over a toilet plunger?! All of this because you couldn't possibly have gone to get the toilet plunger for your brother.   You couldn't have walked away...gone back upstairs to your room, locked your door, called someone else you love and trust to explain the situation, because you were so offended because he flooded the toilet!  No...that would make too much sense!

Mind you...at this point, mama has not eaten an ounce of food, therefore, she has not taken any medicine for her cold.  Her head feels like it's been blown up like a balloon and is about to pop.  She is dizzy.  She has no voice, yet she has to referee this fight, without a whistle!  She is imagining the whole neighborhood talking about those crazy people over there!  That boy's a ticking time-bomb!

Patience is non-existent in this frame of mind.  So of course, she goes off in her own bit of rage saying some very unkind things to her children.

Hours later, we all apologize to each other when things have calmed down.  After Mom gathers herself and gets some food and medicine into her body, she actually laughs at the lunacy of this whole ordeal. Ha ha ha!
The boys go back to bugging the shit out of their mother about what they are going to do over the rest of Spring Break and whatever else they can think of.   Little do they know, she plans on begging her doctor to check her into the hospital for a head-cold, so that she doesn't have to hear the words, "So mom are you going to be better by Friday so we can go to Six Flags?"

Lesson learned here:
No, you can not leave a 13 and 16-year-old brothers, with explosive personalities and anger issues, on the autism spectrum at home together, alone... not even for 20 minutes.  That is unless, you want the police to greet you when you return home.

Editorial note:
Now I will admit that in my youth, my brother and I did fight when my mother was not at home.   He did give me Ex-lax and told me it was candy and teased me relentlessly.   I did go after him with a steak knife, and ended up cutting my own finger instead of him.
However, the police were never called.  And no nosey neighbors became involved...EVER! Luckily the neighbors were full of even more drama than we ever had in our house.
I just called my dad, long distance...as if he could actually do something about it...over the phone.
Said brother and sister now love each other madly.  That is now that they no longer live together and have their own maddening children. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Looking for Me

Editorial Note: This is a repost of a blog that I wrote a few months ago.  Now that I have Watered The Garden of my Marriage, which by the way is a continual work-in-progress, it's time for me to get back to me.  Boy do I miss my Yoga practice and my Zumba classes. 
I will be back  soon to my writing.  Right now, I'm still recuperating from an awful cold and the kids are on Spring Break!  I really can't think straight enough to write a post that would make any sense. 
Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy this... 


Have you seen my identity?  I've been looking for it everywhere...I know I used to have one, but I can't seem to find it anywhere.

Once upon a time...I was a little girl who wanted desperately to be a wife and a mother.  I wanted to live in a suburb, where my children would feel safe, have good schools, and a nice home to live in.  I wanted to live the "Cosby" life -with a Mom and a Dad raising the children together.  We would share lots of laughter.  I would give them all the best of everything...all of the things that I grew up without.  This would include giving them the best of myself and as much attention as they could want or need.  Well...you know what they say, "Be Careful what you ask for."

As a young woman...I was very independent.  I had no choice in the matter really.  Growing up with a single mom meant my options for support were limited.  If I wanted a college education...I had to figure out a way to go get it, and make sure it was paid for.  If I wanted a car...I had to buy it.  If I wanted an apartment and furniture...I had to make it happen.

I am an extremely social person.  I have a lifetime worth of friends that now live all over the country.  Most of them I left behind in southern California.  The phone was always ringing.  There was always a party, a dinner, a lunch, a trip to go on.

I still have friends who were my neighbors when I was in the 2nd grade.  I have close friends from middle and high school, friends I worked with, friends I met from other friends.  Once you become my friend, you're usually in for life, this includes most boyfriends.
In fact, it wasn't until I moved to Texas where I had the first occasion to actually loose friends.  Some women that I met here were obviously not as sincere as I am.  Then too...when you have extremely high maintenance children, some people just don't know what to do with that.  But hey...that's their loss.

When you become a mother of special needs children...that kind of becomes WHO YOU ARE.  It's so consuming.  You are constantly on call...consistently on edge.  You work tirelessly to help them get the support that they need, putting out fires, lighting fires underneath them, trying to prevent the next meltdown, calming the meltdowns that eventually will come.

When I have the occasion to spend a quiet moment alone I find myself asking, "Who the heck are you? What happened to that fun, independent, social butterfly, life of the party, traveling-the-world, L.A. girl?  Where did she go?" How did I end up here in the suburbs of Austin, Texas?  I don't even LIKE Texas! (Sorry you Texas lovers). As it turns out, I don't really like suburbs all that much.  I have to be honest.  I'm a city-girl at heart.

Will she ever resurface?  Will I find her again? Or is she a complete gonner? Sayanara! Adios! Good-bye!

Every once in a while...she comes back to life.  A few years ago...she went to Italy and she really came alive.  Occasionally, she will take a trip to L.A....sans children and husband. She will tread on old stomping grounds, party with with old friends and family.  She exhales with a knowing familiarity.

I find her most often in my dreams.   She is always in Los Angeles in these reveries.  She may be married, she may have children, but never...ever...is she in Texas.

My friend sent me a blessing today about creating a Bucket List which, doesn't necessarily have to be about places you'll go, or things you will do.  It can be about people you want to meet and spend time with creating lasting memories.  I would like to spend time with the real me again...not Karen, the mother, or the wife, but Karen the woman.  I think she will be really good company.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Watering the Garden

How can you write about being an Aspergers mom without addressing the issue of marriage...that is if you make it past diagnosis with your marriage still in tact.  A lot of men...just can't deal with the amount of time and attention that we as mothers have to spend taking care of  of the special needs child...and I have 2 of them.  Via this blog and in my internet autism community, I've met so many moms who have 3 or 4 kids with unique needs, so who am I complain right?

Mothering a special needs child ultimately takes time away from time that I would otherwise spend with selfish endeavors, like taking care of own personal needs, having a semblance of a career,  personal growth and even my own health.  It definitely takes away from time spent with my spouse.  After a full day of dealing with the boys, I am left feeling like, 'Hey...he is a grown-ass-man, he can take care of himself.' 
Or can he?

"Is there any coffee?" Which means, "Can you bring me some coffee?"
Then there's "Honey, what am I supposed to eat for lunch?" he asks without even looking up from his computer, while tied to his phone on conference call after conference call, when he works at home during the day.  Seriously, sometimes this man will go all day long without feeding himself.  Not healthy...at all.
Or there's the late phone call from the office, "Is there anything for dinner?"  To which, sometimes reply, "The kitchen is closed.  We ate 2 hours ago."
Sometimes I wonder if I have the sign "Food Lady" tattooed on my forehead.
Lord...don't let the man get sick! Then, I definitely have another child on my hands.
As the vows say, "For better for worse" right?  I did say that 18 years ago, who knew what it really meant?!

Lately, we are both so spent physically and emotionally from dealing with these boys, recovering from or avoiding meltdowns, refereeing the bickering and fighting.  Taking them here, there and everywhere.  There isn't much energy left to put into taking care of our marriage.  We don't live in the most romantically, conducive setting with teens on the spectrum who knock quickly and burst through the bedroom door, and a mother-in-law in the house.  We can hardly watch a movie together un-interuppted, much less anything else without disturbance.  (And I thought it would get easier as they got older!)

My husband puts a great deal of energy into his career and our personal finances.  That takes up a lot of his time.  Sometimes, I think he sees to it personally, that his job takes up as much of his time as possible.  He often travels for business.  I think secretly, he LOVES these frequent get-aways.  I find myself resenting his freedom to travel regularly, spending evenings out dining on the companies dime, socializing with peers or simply coming back to an empty, quiet hotel room, with a door that he closes and locks, with no threat of anyone bursting through it.  Who wouldn't love that right?

Other times, I'm glad he's gone.  It means one less person to take care of.

We have parenting style difference, to put it mildly.  He thinks I am a push-over, a softy, when it comes to discipline.  He believes that Red manipulates me on a regular basis, and that both boys take advantage of my kindness.  He's right to a degree.  I can admit that.

I feel like he doesn't get it.  He doesn't completely understand their disability. He doesn't have the time or energy to do the kind of reading and research, to attend every school meeting,  answer the phone calls from school,  read blogs, research medications, talk to doctors, nurses and therapists about what is going on with our boys.  He has the life experience of living with them, and his own experience of the way he was raised.  But is that really enough to raise these boys most effectively?  He gives these long round-about lectures.  He uses that  loud, abrasive, manly tone that sets them off and hurts their feelings.  Of course, he does not see it this way.
He is famous for saying, "The world isn't going to give them any special treatment!  They may as well get used to it!"
The other famous line is, "I'm a man! Not a woman!  A father...not a mother! I will never be the same as you!"  Well...that's for damn sure.
I know there is a reason why God gave children 2 parents, to hopefully balance each other out.  I get that whole, "The hard cold world scenario." However, I want peace in my house right now...today and I am willing to do whatever it takes have it.  Why constantly trigger them into full-meltdown to teach them a lesson about the cold-hard world?!  I just want some freakin' peace around here. Too often I am left playing the referee between them.  It's mentally exhausting and leaves me feeling frustrated and sometimes...resentful.

The way that I have been feeling lately is not conducive to a happy married life.  If we're not careful, the whole thing can unravel.  Fortunately, we are both in this for the long haul.  My husband is not the type to bail on his responsibilities, and neither am I.  Although I am sure that there are times when we both feel like it.  I'm the first to admit I dream about having another life.  A life of freedom and choice, where my time is my own.  Where the only person I have to take care of is myself.  I could live where I want to live, do what I want to do.

I can tell that he is frustrated too.  Last week on Sunday afternoon, he disappeared for the  entire day and night.  He went in to the "office" to take care of some expense reports and some other "business."  Problem is...he was gone from 1 p.m. until after 11 p.m.  No phone call...no text to say, "I'm still alive."  Nothing!

At first I just stewed and simmered, refusing to call him to see when he was coming home.  Dinner time came and went.  Helping with homework, refereeing, making sure showers were taken, medicine was dispensed...trying to ignore the hours passing, but starting to fume. By say, 11 p.m. I am livid!  I mean how nice to be able to disappear for the entire day, while I wrangle your children right?

Part of me begins to worry.  Did he fall over and have a heart attack at the office.  No one is in the building.  It's secured and locked.  How would I know if he ever even made it there?  The truth is I don't really know where he is or if he's been in an accident.
Finally, I send a text.  "Are you still alive?"  15, 20 minutes pass...no response.  Five minutes later, I think I here his car.  A few minutes later, he moseys on up the stairs taking his time.  He walks through the bedroom door without saying a word...as if this is acceptable!  Oh hell no!

I light into him like a madwoman!  He probably thought he had wandered into the wrong house.  Who is this crazy woman cursing like a sailor? And what did she do with my wife?
How dare him have me worrying like that!
I mean...fine you need to disappear for a while.  Don't we all?
Fine, you don't feel like talking to me.  That's o.k. too!
But how much trouble would it be to send a freakin' text message,"still here @ the office."

The following day I receive flowers, a sincere apology and a beautiful card.  The sentiment of the message is this, 'We need to take some time for us, away from all of the things that get us down.  We need to re-charge our marriage and get back to the most important thing...our love."

We've all heard the analogy of a marriage being like a garden, you have to water it, get rid of the pests, pull out the weeds and make sure that your plants get plenty of sunlight and fertilzer.   If you leave the garden unattended, your flowers will not blossom, and your plants will surely wither and die.

Soon we will be taking a short trip together.  We will leave our worries and our children behind.  Of course, I am worried about leaving them.  But I keep telling myself...as long as they're still alive when I get home, that's all that matters.  No, they may not be happy while I'm away.  But they're not happy when I 'm here anyway.

We have to water our garden, to nourish our marriage and ultimately our family.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Just Another Day...

The following is an e-mail sent to my son's Special Education tracking teacher last night.  This is a great example of a day in the life of an Aspergers Mom.  The text in parenthesis are added for artistic effect. The names have been changed to protect the innocent:

Lauren,

I want to give you heads up.  We picked Blue up today after tutorials.  Red was in the car with the intention that we were going to get haircuts.  Perhaps I should have warned Blue about this.  He doesn't react well to the unexpected.  (So there...it's all my fault -as usual.) 

Basically, we were right back where we left off this morning --him angry at Red for whatever misunderstandings they had yesterday, and still angry with me (because...well -I'm his mother.)  Red was actually trying to be loving and supportive, but nothing either of us could say was right. 

He did not want to get a haircut because he wanted to do homework before his friend's band concert.  I insisted on the haircuts, because they were overdue.  (His head looked like...as my mother would say, "a sheep's behind.")  This caused not what I would call meltdown with yelling and screaming but, "Mom you're not being fare! 
"I'm getting further and further behind in my work because of you!" 
"You won't let me do homework because you're making me get a haircut!" 
"I hate my life! 
That's why I want to just end-it!"
He went on to have a more specific conversation about why things would be better if he just were not here.  

On our way home, Red actually told him how much we all love him, and don't want to here him talking like that.  Red explained the ramifications of saying such things, and how they can be taken especially at school. By the time we got home they hugged it out.  I hugged him too.

Later, he went off to Ben's concert, and came home in much better spirits. 

From the research I have done, and consulting with other Aspergers mothers, (from my blog and "Confessions" Facebook Community) it is very common for our guys to fall-apart at home, when they do so well in school to hold it all together.  It takes a great deal of energy for them to navigate through the day.  It's like putting on a mask and doing a performance all day long.  He wants everyone there to be impressed by him and to like him.  When he gets home, the performance if over.  He lets go. 

As the evening wheres on and we get close to bedtime...he's just done.  This is when I here,
"I'm such a bad person.  Everyone hates me.  I can't be a good family member.  I'm so stupid, etc."  (I know...doesn't sound like Blue huh?)  

I am walking on eggshells here.  I'm on the edge.  The homework battle is one I just can not fight right  now, as we go through these medication changes.  I told him, I'm done with it.  He needs to get whatever he can done during the school day.  If can get something done at night, great!  If not...I can't fight about it, right now.  It's not worth it to me.  He needs to understand, we do math at home.  That's it! No APPS! No Science! NADA!  Maybe we make it just that black and white for the next few weeks.  We need to get him through this.  

I am praying that this med will work, but it could take a couple of weeks, and there are no guarantees of course.  I absolutely loathe this process. 

I am leaving town on Friday afternoon. (Thank God!  I'm going to my best friend's house for respite, although I'm totally nervous about leaving.  But if I don't, I may very well be the one to end my life!)
You need to contact his dad if there are any issues. 

Thank you,

Blue's Mom

This an episode of Just Another Day In the Life of an Aspergers Mom...