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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Transition to Adulthood

Photo Credit: bathnes.gov.uk
Last night we had a Person Centered Planning meeting here at our house for Red.  The purpose of the meeting is to do personal goal setting alongside the mentors in Red's life.  He decides who to invite to these meetings.  He actually schedules it with his facilitator and sends out the electronic invitations to everyone.  He also follows up with them days prior to the meeting to confirm if they will attend.

We have also made him responsible for shopping for and preparing a snack for his guests.  The snack last night was fresh grapes, oranges, apples and brownie bites.

Our crowd last night consisted of myself, Red, his Vocational Training teacher from the high school, his Pastor, and our facilitator, who just happens to be the head Transition Coordinator for our school district, and the Vice Principle of the 18 plus Transition Program, which he will be entering into as of January.

Yes.  Red will complete his high school credits at the end of this week! As of now, he will walk the stage with his peers in the graduation in June of 2014.  We will decide between now and then whether or not to give him his diploma at that time, and then transition him to the Department of Rehabilitative Services.  DARS will assist him and hopefully help pay for, career training/college or a certification program.  Otherwise, he can continue to receive adult transition services through the school district up until the age of 22.

He is extremely talented in video production, and editing.  He has in fact, developed his own business and has been hired to make videos and photo montages for friends, family, and even a few professional clients.  He earned a pretty penny just this last weekend, putting together a photo montage for a "word-of-mouth" client of an anniversary vacation, complete with appropriate music.

We hope that he will pursue movie/video editing as a career.  However, he still has quite a bit of growing and maturing to do before we feel that he will be ready for college level classes, and fully developing his business.

The two goals that we set last night were as follows...

1) Red will pursue getting his drivers license.

  • He will gather information (along with his vocational teacher) about a course that he can take over the Christmas Break
  • He will complete the course over the break.
  • He will work with Dad to obtain a driving permit in January 
  • He will work with Mom to get an evaluation by St. David's Driving program for special needs to determine any special needs or concerns to do with his disability and driving, i.e. reaction time, ability to focus, fear of being pulled over, etc. 
  • Depending on results ...move forward with obtaining license. 
2) Red will complete high school credits and prepare for transition into Self-20 Adult Transition program through the school district.  

  • Work with Vocational Coach to obtain either employment or an adult volunteer position in the first 2 weeks of January.
  • Work with staff to figure out new schedule 
  • High school staff will work to complete a visual transition schedule for him to follow.  
The Self-20 program is a transition to adulthood service that the school district offers to those with disabilities.  They meet on the local community college campus as well as a few other places in the community to work on independent living (transportation, cooking, budgeting, how to be a good roommate, etc.  They also work on vocation training, (job coaching, paid employment or adult volunteer) and social skills. 

The program is from 9 a.m. till 1 p.m. Monday-Friday.  After 1 p.m., they must work or volunteer.  He is hoping to be hired by the YMCA as an After School Counselor.  He interviewed with them and is supposed to hear back after Christmas.  As a back up plan, if he doesn't get hired, he will volunteer at a Senior Living facility, assisting the Activities Coordinator with games, crafts and parties. 

My hope is that this program will give him some time to mature before beginning college classes.  He needs a little time and space between college and high school.  Especially, since he was not much of a self-starter in high school.  He has been great in self-starting his video knowledge and training, getting a mentor in the field and building a portfolio of work.  

We are leaning towards him getting a certification in Video Technology through the Community College and if by chance he matures and is ready to get a degree in this field, we will support him in that.  Only time will tell...how far he will go.  

I hope he will reach for the stars! 

*Please contact me via e-mail if you are interested in hiring Red to do video editing or photo montages for your family or business.  He does have a web-site with his portfolio.  Only serious inquires please.

For more information on Learning Disabilities and The Law: After High School
Click here The Learning Disabilities Association of America.

Or you should contact Special Education Services in your local school district or your State Department of Education. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Anatomy of a Meltdown

Photo Credit: Snagglebox.com
It's Friday evening and Blue is edgy.  He is planning his evening.  He is attempting to plan MY entire weekend.  He is driving me batty.

I ask hubby to take him with him to Target, to get him away from Red for a while and out of my hair.  He isn't gone 10 minutes before he calls me.  His friend called and invited him to spend the night.  He wants to know if instead, his friend can spend the night with us, because Blue always spends the night with him and really he's more comfortable at home.  Except he's really not comfortable anywhere.  He likes to completely control any environment that he's in.  He can relax at Jay's house, but not always overnight.

So he wants Jay to stay with us tonight.  Only he may have to stay 2 nights, because it's going to freeze on Saturday and his parents may not be able to pick him up until Sunday.

He's talking really fast, not making a lot of sense.He sounds agitated, confused, focused, yet unfocused.

I know damn well, I am not committing to anyone spending 2 nights with us.  I am frantic at the thought of my own children being stuck together in the house on the freezing, Saturday afternoon and evening. I'm dreading the thought of what should be a relaxing, cold, winter day at home.  Surely, it will turn into a day of cabin fever with the two of them fighting like mad lab rats.

I don't like making any decisions haphazardly.  He's talking too fast, trying to convince me.  I know I will end up with regrets if I say a quick yes.  I can not ever allow these boys to rush me into a decision.  Once I say yes, I know I must stick with it, and once I say no...well...you get my drift.  So, I tell him lets wait until he comes home to discuss it.

When he gets home we start the discussion and decide that the friend can spend one night only. I want it to be Saturday night, but not knowing exactly what the weather will be, he wants it to be tonight.

In the back of my mind, I feel this little itch -a voice inside my head that tells me, tonight is not the night for this.  He is too on edge.  At the same time, I rationalize, this friend can have a soothing effect over him.  Jay is such a funny, easy going kid.  We all enjoy is company.  Maybe they will watch a movie and just chill.

The next thing I know, Red and Blue are arguing loudly over the dinner table.  Blue wants me to make Red leave the kitchen NOW!  He storms upstairs and starts talking loudly about whatever happened between them.   I ask him to reign it in or there is no way we can have Jay over.

What did he hear when I said that?  Did he hear?  Hmm...maybe I should pull it together and calm down!  NO!!!

The term calm down is really superfluous anyways ...isn't it?

He heard...

WHAT?! Red ruined this for me!??  

What started off sounding like a tantrum over controlling his brother went from zero to 100 in nothing flat.  Saying that he would lose a privilege if he couldn't get it together sent him reeling! It got real ugly real fast.

There wasn't even anytime to get on the phone with Jay and his Mom to cancel.  We were too busy avoiding any collateral damage during the meltdown.

The difference between a meltdown and a tantrum over control can be a very thin line.  A tantrum usually starts over something that they want.  In this case, he wanted control. He wanted ME to control Red. However, once the line has been crossed and the Aspergers child knows that they will not be getting exactly what they want ...all is lost.  Meltdown ensues. During a meltdown, there is no rational thought.  There is only very irrational anger and uncontrollable behavior.

Your typical modes of discipline can not even be put on the table.  If you don't stop this behavior ...you will lose this or that! Stop using that language or this will happen. HA! Control has left the building at that point. It is no where to be found!

No matter how much Blue actually wanted his friend to spend the night, his anger, anxiety and need to control Red and me, was much stronger than the payoff of actually having the friend spend the night.

Sometimes we think our kids are just being bratty. They are having a tantrum or an outburst, in order to manipulate us, in order to get what they want.   They may start off trying to get what they want.  But at a certain point, they completely lose control.  When that happens, forget about discipline.  It's not going to happen.  Just be ready to ride out the storm and try your best not to add to the storm.  Try to minimize the damage by remaining calm, if at all possible.  Believe me...it is not always possible! We are human.  

Jay and his mom showed up at our house, just as we were getting the boiling pot back down to a simmer.  Unfortunately, we had reached a point of no return where Blue would not be able to pull it together in order to be good company for a sleep over.  I hated disappointing Jay, but I had to send him back home.

Was this meltdown avoidable?  Should I have just followed that little voice inside my head that said, this is not a good night for this? If I just said no...we will do this tomorrow, would he have still gone over the edge?  Probably. He was already edgy. Who knows?

There are never any guarantees when it comes our kids.  Nothing is ever simple.

If things suddenly become simple we are left standing there like a deer in the headlights wondering when we're going to get hit.



Thursday, December 5, 2013

Where Am I?

I should be on a date with my husband.  Last night at the dinner table, he invited me to meet him for a Holiday Happy Hour party that some client is sponsoring.  I told him I would try to make it.  I thought maybe I would bring Blue with me, and drop him off at a nearby Starbucks.  He he could do homework, while we were socializing.

At the time, I wasn't thinking about the fact that this would also be church night for Red. Planning an adult outing during the middle of the week, at the last minute is really not simple. For that matter, nothing in my life is simple.

First of all, last night I washed and attempted to color my hair ...purple.  Yes -the color purple.  It didn't work.  Instead my half-ass mix of dark brown with remnants of red hair, is now just black.  With the exception of the terribly stubborn gray in the front that didn't take any color at all. Washing and attempting to color my hair took so long, that I didn't have time to twist and style it afterwards.

 dreadlocks done professionally -minus the gray
The process of self-twisting locks, also takes quite a while.  Lately, I've been getting my locs twisted professionally, which actually only takes about an hour. By twisted I mean, the hair grows out leaving the roots, loose, and in my case, gray.  The last time I went to have it done by a stylist/loctician,  the asshole had me waiting for three hours, before he even got started on me.  Well, I take that back, he washed and dried my hair, but it was still a mess.  I was livid!  Ready to walk out the door when he finally called me to do the actual twisting.  I haven't been back to him since.  He's good, and he's quick, once he finally gets started.  But,  obviously he has no idea how to manage his time, and I don't have time to waste.  He and the other stylist there even stopped to order lunch during my wait, which included chicken, waffles and red Kool-Aid.  Now I'm not saying these folks were some country, backwoods so and sos, but ...you put two and two together.

Back to my the story...

So today, I had plans of twisting my dreadlocks,  which takes me a few hours. This morning the kids  wore me out.  I mean I was exhausted by 8:45 when I dropped Blue off at school. I needed to regroup, so I came home, poured myself a big cup of coffee and took the time to do a little writing, in silence.

When I was done, my mother reminded me it was time for her hair appointment.  Now ...I tried to get her to agree that I would drop her off, and she could ask her friend/hairstylist to go out to lunch.  This would give me 2 hours to come home, take a bath, be alone, walk through my own house naked and take care of my own hair.  But nooooo ...she didn't want to do that.  It wasn't her plan and she had a million excuses why she refused to do it.

I wasn't dressed for the day.  I had not showered or bathed.  So, I had to drop her off, come back home, take a quick shower, change and then go right back to pick her up.  Yes.  I was pissed!  Once again, I'm running around like a chicken doing everything that don't want to do, for everyone else.

Hubby calls this afternoon to ask me if I am still coming.  Well, by this time, the boys are home and going at it, arguing, venting about school and asking me ninety-nine thousand and one questions, working on my last half of a nerve.  My hair still is not done.  I took one look in the mirror and it was frightful.

Red needed to get to church.  I am proud of myself for making him get his his own ride.  Of course, it would be more convenient for him, if I did it.  I have to draw the line somewhere, he will never do anything for himself if I don't push.

Blue needed to get to the library to do a ton of homework.  When he has a lot to do, he gets too distracted and quite, frankly angry, to do it at home.  There is no fighting, yelling or meltdowns allowed at the library, unless you're a toddler.

Here was my choice...

-Get dressed quickly, put together some half-assed hairdo,  put on some make up to spite that bitch of a mirror.  Then, find something cute to wear to meet people for the first time, at the last minute.  Then, rush across town to hang out with hubby and his colleagues.   Put on the smiles, small talk and act like an adult who isn't half out of her mind.

Or...

-Put on my sweats and take Blue to the library with bad hair and no make-up.

Two weeks ago I vowed not to put off  the fun of my life, for the sake of my ungrateful children.  I actually went to Houston to meet my girlfriend from California for the weekend.  It.Was.Fabulous! I am so glad I talked myself into going. I got my own hotel room, and boy did I enjoy the peace and quiet.

This past weekend, I lived up to that vow again.  I tried to talk myself out of a date with hubby because I was exhausted from a day of Blue's meltdowns,  but I held strong.  Red was still away at Grandma's.  I decided to leave miserable Blue at home with my mother.  He wouldn't be happy whether I stayed home or not.  So, I may as well go have some fun. We went out, despite my bad mood and it was great!

We saw the "Best Man Holiday" in a luxury, dine-in ...more importantly drink-in, theatre.  All of that chocolate candy, changed my mood real quick!  And by chocolate candy, I mean Morris Chesnut and Taye Diggs.  Can I get an amen?

So tonight when I'm supposed to be out on a date, having adult fun ...where am I?

Hint: I'm wearing sweatpants.

Two out of three ain't bad. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Confessions of a Frustrated Mom


My living conditions are less than desirable.  Yes.  I have a quaint, little home, and according to many, I live a charmed life, you know ...not working and all.  HA!  I work my ass off, 24/7.  Sometimes, I'm glad that I don't have to go into an office and then come home and deal with this crap.  Other times, I wish I could go into an office to avoid some of this crap. 

By less than desirable living conditions, I mean the constant arguing, bickering, meltdowns, fights and explosions that go on here.  Nobody can mind their own business.  Everyone wants to be in control of everything and everyone. Both boys want to tell me how to parent the other one.  No one wants to back.down.ever! This is our normal and honestly, it's kicking my ass. 

I was never all that "together" of a person in the first place.  I've always been a little ADD -unorganized, forgetful, scatterbrained ...whatever you want to call it.  Lately, that's been taken to a whole new level!  I'm not just my regular crazy.  I have crossed over in to pure, unadulterated, cray cray! Wearing clothes inside out -in public, forgetting or not wanting to eat,  which leads to headaches, difficulty making decisions.  Yep ...cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs! 

I've been writing about horrible Morning Scenes for years now.  In some ways they have gotten better. Red is 18 now, and does most things, as he should for himself.  He does make the bus when he's supposed to, even if he hasn't brushed his teeth.  (We keep a toothbrush and toothpaste in his backpack for these occasions.) 

It's still extremely difficult to get both of them out of bed most days.  Red can get up at the crack of dawn for church, but not for school.   I dread getting them up every.single.day!  I've tried every strategy/bribe there is.  Nothing works for long.  

By 9:15 in the morning ...I literally feel like I've been beat up, like someone has just slapped the shit out of me.  Either that, or I feel like I've run a marathon.  I'm exhausted, physically and mentally.  

This morning ...Blue is yelling at Red first because he is actually using the bathroom, "stinking it up!"  Then he jumps down his throat to wash his hands after he uses the bathroom.  He goes on and on and on for a good 15 minutes.  

-That's disgusting!  
-What's wrong with you?
-You should know this by now! Why do we have to keep reminding you? 
-And Mom -why haven't you taught your son to wash his hands after he uses the bathroom.
-This should be a habit! It should be automatic!!! 

Then he starts in with calling his brother every name in the book, from idiot, to fat, to dumb and so on! When I give him a consequence for the name calling, he goes ballistic! 

-I can't help being angry! 
-Why are you getting angry because I'm angry? 
-I can't help screaming! 
-I can't help cursing! 
-I can't stop myself!
-This is who I am! 
-Why are you punishing me for being angry?!  
-Why are you being on his side?!
-Why are you letting him get away with everything!?

It's all a vast right-wing conspiracy! I am the right-wing in this scenario.  In reality I am totally left!

Last night's fight between these two gigantic boys was a doozy.  It left me shaking and exhausted.  I had no appetite when it was over.  Except for an appetite for 3 glasses of wine.  I must be a complete idiot for trying to come between them.  Part of me feels like letting them just clobber the shit out of each other.  The other part of me knows, that the more things escalate ...the more things escalate.  Rage and anger can turn into true violence if it's not squashed.  

This time, I threatened to call the police department.  This crap is getting out of hand.  I can't do it anymore.  Let an officer explain what happens when you handle anger in this manner.  They don't get a damn thing when it comes from me.  It's like my voice is on mute.  All they hear is like Charlie Brown ..."Wah wah woh wah wah." 

When Hubby gets involved, it's just adding more testosterone to the mix,  like adding fuel to the fire. 

I've said it before, about Red, now it's Blue. 
I feel like I'm in an abusive relationship.  I am supposed to remain, cool, calm and collected while he rages.  It just ain't right! It goes against all human instinct. I try ...I really do.  I just can't do it. 

I really think I should just move out! Get my own apartment ...run away.  I think they would get along better without me.

And yes ...I have told them this.  

photo credit: annotatedmst.com

Monday, December 2, 2013

Dear Blog

photo credit: livebyquotes.com
My lovely, lovely blog.  I've missed you so very much.  I keep waiting for this big block of time, where I can write this fabulous, monumental post about all of the crap that I've been dealing with in the past couple of months.  That hasn't happened.  I have no idea when it will.

So, instead of waiting and wanting to put together a big post on the big fail of an experiment of having Blue off of meds for two months.  How it seemed to be going well, until it wasn't.  It really, really wasn't.  It became a complete and utter mess, where I was walking on eggshells and breaking up fights and enduring explosions on a daily bases. Yes, there were some good points, his personality seemed to evolve.  He became more articulate about things he had been feeling for such a long time.  He even found his sense of humor again.  That part was great! The other parts -not so much.  In fact, it has royally sucked around here.

The fact of the matter is, we are still only inching our way back through the muck of finding a new med combination, and hormones, and zero to 100 in nothing flat, anger, and anxiety and the first year of high school,  for Blue and AP classes, and R.O.T.C. and stress and rage, and violent meltdowns.

Let's not forget, this is Red's last year in high-school, his last semester, as a matter of fact.  Yeah, that change is going to be so easy.  Oh yeah, it's just been a barrel of fucking laughs around here.

I've decided that I will have to try something a little different. Instead of not writing at all, which may or may not have a little something to do with my lack of sanity over the past couple of months.  I will write in snippets.  I will just spill my guts in the format of a diary ...right here in public, for the entire world to read.

Why? Because writing is cathartic for me.  It is my therapy.  As I've said so many times before.  I have no therapist to talk to.  Who has time for that shit?  First you have to find someone that you trust and feel comfortable with, then you have to make a standing appointment.  My life is already chuck full of standing appointments for everyone in this entire family!  Yes ...that includes the dog, who gets his hair done, more often than me!

So, I will  come here.  I will write.  I may not make any sense.  I may not always be grammatically correct. (As much as I loathe bad English and bad grammar.) I need to just write.  I need to be free.  I need to let this shit out! And if it's not perfect, well shit, neither am I.

Maybe, just maybe, somewhere along the way, someone will read my shit and say, "Damn I thought my life was fucked up.  At least I'm not the only one!"

I want you all to know ...I don't curse this much in real life.  I am a fucking lady after all!  Most of my bad language floats around in my head.  Sometimes, I go into my bathroom and curse out my kids, my husband, my mother and my dog.  I flip the occasional bird when no one is looking. Sometimes, I let it out here...and every day on Facebook, several times a day, actually.  You should follow me there.  I really am a hoot!  That is of course, unless you're offended by the cursing.  In that case, well hell!  I don't know what to tell you.

For any of my family who is reading this...I'm sorry.  Truly I am.  No.  I take that back.  This is my release.  If you don't like it ...I'm not writing it for you! Ha!  I say all of this with love in my heart.

~Karen 

By the way, tonight I am following the advice of Ernest Hemingway, because that's how I roll. He said, "Write drunk. Edit sober."  

So I guess I'll edit this tomorrow.  But I'm going to go ahead and publish it tonight.  Why? Because I don't follow any stinkin' rules!