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Friday, June 28, 2013

A Tale of 2 Dinner Parties

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This a tale of 2 very different dinner parties.  There is a great deal of ambiguity in my life, due to the fact that I have 2 very different children, both of whom have different personalities within themselves.  One personality that they show the outside world...the one where they are in control of their emotions...intelligent, creative, perfectly, loving, gentle sprits.  And then there is the other side.  The one that isn't always so pretty.  The side where control is lost and anger, anxiety, depression and ugliness prevail.

Hubby, myself, Blue and Red are all in Los Angeles, the place I grew up.  We are here to spend time with my family, old friends and new friends.  We are escaping the torturous heat of Texas.  I still can't believe I live there and not here, where the weather is pretty darn close to perfection.  The highs have been in the mid seventies nearly everyday of our trip. I am enjoying every single minute...bathing in the warm son as I am cooled by the gentle, ocean breeze.

My very close friend Mary invites us all over for dinner at her place, where we can relax comfortably, and visit as long as we like.  I figured this would be more fun than meeting in some stuffy restaurant, where children would be forced to behave for an extended period of time. Ha! Good luck with that! 

Our other partner in crime Jenny, and her family are also in attendance.  We all want to catch up and see how each other's children have grown.  We also want the kids interact and socialize with one another.

Jenny, Mary and I met when we were all just about 20 years-old.  Jenny and I were dating twin brothers.  Mary dated the twin's best friend at the time.  Well, we left those fellows behind, but we have remained very close for over 25 years.  I will admit that I am extremely jealous that Jenny and Mary get to spend way more time together seeing as they live in the same area.  Distance however, does not effect the place both of them and their families hold in my heart.
Me & My Girls, Jenny and Mary
holding pictures of ourselves in our party days
It is great to visit with my friends.  When we get together it's like time has not passed and we pick right up where we left off the last time we were together.  On the other hand, for me ...it was also a bit like a dinner party from hell.  Even vodka wasn't enough to stifle the nerves that Red trampled on.

I brought along my nephew.  All of the kids had a good time swimming in the icy cold pool.  Once we came upstairs to Mary's condo for dinner...hell started to break loose.  Blue takes every opportunity to push Red's buttons.  It may or may not be his intention.  But he is one of those people who knows everything and always has to let you know that you.are.wrong.  And when it comes to Red ...Blue is quite often right.  Red knows it and hates this -with a passion!  The disagreements get even more elevated when there is an audience.
Red, Blue and their Cousin, my nephew

On top of Blue ...pointing out Red's every flaw and error in thinking, my nephew also deems it necessary to comment on Red's weight and how he needs to lose some of it, in front.of.everyone. Red starts to get more and angry.  He gets louder and louder.  "I'm starting to get really pissed off Mom!  I feel like hitting somebody!

I separate him from everyone for a few minutes to get him to calm down. Yes.  I put my 17 year-old son, in a time out.  In a corner.  In a chair. And told him not to move or talk.

Later, after dinner...we go back outside to get in the jacuzzi.  This is a condominium complex.  There adults and children of various ages in the water.  My girlfriend asks Red a few simple, innocent questions and the next thing I know...he's on a roll, telling them about every fit of anger he has had in recent history.  How the cops have to come out to our house.  Oh and the kicker...somehow he he gets around to telling them that he likes to look at really hot girls! Yes...you read that right.  For everyone to hear including an 8 year-old boy,  my girlfriend's 14 year-old daughter, and her 60 something year-old mother.
The Entire Gang -Nerves shattered at this point...
Just before smiling for this picture, I was ready to murder somebody!
Luckily, for me ...my girlfriend Mary is a social worker for the local school district and works with kids with a variety of special needs and behaviors.  Jenny has also worked in group homes, and currently works as a Respite Care Worker for children with severe autism.  They also read my blog and so of course, they know all of our business anyway.  But still!  He says, it as if this is an everyday occurrence, so casually.

I have found him looking at inappropriate material and parental controls have been put on devices.  I do realize however, that it is not something that we can totally control.  He is 17.  He is a boy and this is the modern world, full of technology.  Where there is a will...there is definitely a way.  But yeah...I was pretty mortified.

Too many triggering factors came into play in this situation...
  • competition with brother, basic sibling rivalry along with a little button pushing
  • fatigue from traveling and from staying up late with his cousin, then getting up early in the morning
  • anger -cousin making remarks about his weight
  • attention seeking from the adults in the situation ...especially from me.  I mean how dare I try to have a good time catching up with some of my oldest dearest friends.
  • competition with dad being present and being in charge of the music playing, which is mostly R&B  
  • lack of social skills -wants to play his own music ...that no one else wants to hear.  Hardcore Metal in a room full of mostly middle-aged black people, who may like a little rock and roll, but metal? Um...no. 
I finally ended up giving him his mood stabilizing medication along with some Neurobiologix Calming-Cream.  I wish I were getting paid for talking about this...but I tell you it worked.  He calmed his ass right down and we didn't hear another angry word come out of his mouth.  Instead, a few minutes later, we received apologies for his behavior.

As we shared a glass of wine over dinner Jenny asked me if I drink wine everyday.  My answer? "No some days I drink wine...other days...tequila."

*********

After 10 days of way too much togetherness,  we put dad and Blue on a plane to go back to Texas.  Hubby decided he wanted to spend part of his time off with his family.  So they went back home to check on my mom.  And the following day, they would go on to visit his mom in Baltimore, Maryland.

The next day, I was invited to dinner at the home of a fellow autism blogger Phat Jaye from  Find My Eyes. (Yes.  I am one of those crazy people who meets people on the internet and then goes to visit them in person.  I have lived to tell about it ...3 times so far.  Of course, in the end, it may be the death of me.  But at least I will have had fun and met some wonderful people along the way.  By the way ...my mother hates this about me.  My husband ain't exactly thrilled about it and the rest of my family, thinks I am completely nuts.  I'm not saying they're wrong.)

Jaye and his lovely wife Julie, wanted to meet Red.  I was very hesitant about taking him after our last fiasco of a shindig.  I swore the night of Mary's dinner party,  I would NEVER again take him around my friends in a social gathering, at least not with the whole family.  Since then, I gave this some deep thought and realized there were many contributing factors to his horrid behavior.

Since, they wanted to meet him and it would be the two of us ...thus taking away a number of the triggers -competition for attention, button pushing, etc. I thought just maybe it might be o.k.

My nephew actually asked to come with us, I decided against it.  I wanted Red to be able to focus on the friends we were meeting, especially Jack, Jaye's son.  Of course, I also had no idea what Jack and his sister would be like.  Would another child in the mix add to the anxiety of meeting new people?  I didn't want anyone to be overwhelmed.  This was good decision making on my part. Yeah...despite my fried brain cells, every once in while -I can make a good decision.  
Me and my friend Phat Jaye of Find My Eyes
Well it was more than o.k. It was freaking awesome! This post is getting long and I have shit to do...so I won't go on with the details of Dinner Party number 2.  Although, I will write about it later.  You simply must hear about this 2nd party from my perspective.

But for now ...I will link you to Jaye's Post "You've Got Friend In Me" .  He does a monumental job of telling you what their visit with Red meant to his family, especially his 6 year-old son Jack who is also on the spectrum and reminds me a lot of Red at the same age.

You can now read A Tale of Two Dinner Parties -Part II here.  

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

What is Aspergers? -A Comprehensive List

A friend posted this list on my Facebook group over the weekend.  I forwarded it to my husband as a reminder of exactly what Aspergers is.  I think that sometimes when we live in the spectrum each day...when it hits us so close to home with our children, we can forget that they are not always simply trying to be difficult.  Many of their personality characteristics and behaviors are indeed a part of the diagnosis.  As much as we would like to magically change some of their behaviors through discipline, education and therapy...many things come from their different way of thinking.  Some things may never change, no matter how much we bang our heads against the wall trying to control them and get them to fit in to the norms of society.

What is Aspergers?
Image Courtesy of RabbiPaul.blogspot.com

Below is a fairly exhaustive list of Aspergers characteristics; however, keep in mind that no two Aspies are the exactly the same, and no single Aspie has ALL these traits. If you suspect your child or partner has Aspergers, the best thing you can do, as a parent or spouse, is arm yourself with information about this disorder.

Personal / Physical—

• Being "in their own world"
• Can engage in tasks (sometimes mundane ones) for hours and hours
• Can spend hours in the library researching, loves learning and information
• Clumsiness
• Collects things
• Doesn't always recognize faces right away (even close loved ones)
• Early in life they often have a speech impediment
• Eccentric personality
• Excellent rote memory
• Flat, or blank expression much of the time
• Highly gifted in one or more areas (e.g., math, music, etc.)
• Idiosyncratic attachment to inanimate objects
• Intense focus on one or two subjects
• Likes and dislikes can be very rigid
• Limited interests
• May have difficulty staying in college despite a high level of intelligence
• Non-verbal communication problems
• Difficulty reading body language, facial expression and tone
• Preoccupied with their own agenda
• Repetitive routines or rituals
• Sensitivity to the texture of foods
• Single-mindedness
• Speech and language peculiarities (hyperlexia)
• Strong sensitivity to sound, touch, taste, sight, and smell (e.g., fabrics, won’t wear certain things, fluorescent lights)
• Uncoordinated motor movements
• Unusual preoccupations
• Word repetition (they may frequently repeat what you've just said)

Social Interactions—

• Can obsess about having friends to prove they’re “normal”
• Desire for friendships and social contact but difficulty acquiring and maintaining them
• Difficulty understanding others’ feelings
• Great difficulty with small-talk and chatter
• Has an urge to inform that can result in being blunt or insulting
• Lack of empathy at times
• Lack of interest in other people
• May avoid social gatherings
• Preoccupied with their own agenda
• Rigid social behavior due to an inability to spontaneously adapt to variations in social situations
• Shuts down in social situations
• Social withdrawal

In Relationships (mainly pertains to Aspergers men)—

• Can often be distant physically and/or emotionally
• Can stop putting any effort into relationship after a time, and doesn’t understand why she then stops giving too
• He can be very critical and takes it personally if she won’t wear something he likes, or wears something he dislikes
• He can become quite defensive when she asks for clarification or a little sympathy; the defensiveness can turn into verbal abuse (usually not physical abuse) as the man attempts to control the communication to suit his view of the world
• He has a hard time saying “I love you,” showing physical affection; as a result it is difficult to find out if they do love you
• He will do what he thinks is best for the both of them but seldom talks to her about her feelings or opinions
• His attention is narrowly focused on his own interests
• If she tries to share her love for him, he may find her need to “connect” smothering
• Men with undiagnosed Aspergers often feel as if their partner is being ungrateful or “bitchy” when she complains he is uncaring or never listens to her
• Often are attracted to another purely because they are attracted to him
• Often times they will make no motions to keep a relationship going (be it friendship, or something more)
• They won't call, and you might not see them for days; that doesn't mean they don't care

Positive Aspergers Traits—

1. Attention to detail – sometimes with painstaking perfection.

2. Focus and diligence – has an ability to focus on tasks for a long period of time without needing supervision or incentive is legendary.

3. Higher fluid intelligence – scientists in Japan have recently discovered that Aspergers kids have a higher “fluid intelligence” than non-Aspergers kids. Fluid intelligence is the ability to find meaning in confusion and solve new problems. It is the ability to draw inferences and understand the relationships of various concepts, independent of acquired knowledge. Experts say that those with Aspergers have a higher than average general IQ as well.

4. Honesty – the value of being able to say “the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes.”

5. Independent, unique thinking – people with Aspergers tend to spend a lot of time alone and will likely have developed their own unique thoughts as opposed to a ‘herd’ mentality.

6. Internal motivation – as opposed to being motivated by praise, money, bills or acceptance. This ensures a job done with conscience, with personal pride.

7. Logic over emotion – although people with Aspergers are very emotional at times, they spend so much time ‘computing’ in our minds that they get quite good at it. They can be very logical in their approach to problem-solving.

8. Visual, three-dimensional thinking – some with Aspergers are very visual in their thought processes, which lends itself to countless useful and creative applications.

The source of this information is written by Mark Hutten, M.A, and can be found in the link below.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Natural Duality

Edited 6/1/13 




Brothers
Friends
Enemies
Rule Follower 
Rule Breaker
Law Enforcer
Criminal Mischief
Thoughtful
Inconsiderate
Attentive
Oblivious
Hyperfocus
 Land of La La
Conscientious
Apathetic
Studious
Carefree
Science 
Art
Autonomous 
Dependent 
Bionic Hearing
Tone Deaf
Singing
Screaming
All You Can Eat
Limited Menu
Afro
Bald Fade
Agitate
Placate
Lover 
Fighter
Fighting and Loving
I see You
I can't see Me
Friendly
Shy
Wise and Immature
How can I help you?
How can YOU help me?
Disability
Superior Ability
Black and White
White and Black
Gray?
World View
My World
Real World
Fantasy
Mature
Infantile
Roller Coaster
Merry Go Round
Germaphobic 
Dirt? Who cares?
Sunny 
Cloudy
Fastidious
Disorganized
Classic Rock 
Alternative Rock
Jazz 
Heavy Metal
Silly 
Serious
Dynamite
Match 
Trigger 
Explosion 
Anger
Delirium  
War and Peace
Love and Hate
Irrationality
Wisdom
Insanity 
Calm
Explosive 
Sad
Happy
Melancholy 
Brothers 
Red and Blue
Blue and Red  
Purple