Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The World is Full of A**holes

This morning's meltdown was brought to you by...bullying at school yesterday and not enough sleep! 

I have noticed lately that Blue is actually getting up much better in the mornings for school.  Meltdowns have dissipated.  Anger is minimal.  Tardiness is just about non-existent.  In fact, he has been doing a better job of getting up and getting moving in the mornings than his older, 18 year-old brother.  This was not always the case.  There have been times where Red was the one winning at this battle.

Imagine my surprise this morning when I was met with an angry yell from behind a closed door. "MOM! MOM! Why did you wake me up so late?!"

I didn't even answer him.  I refused to talk to my children from behind closed door.  You want to talk to me? Open the door and walk yourself in here to see me.  He continued yelling.  In order not to disturb my mother and my husband who were still sleeping, I called his cell phone from mine and said, "I will not be yelled at from behind a closed door."

"What!? I'm going to be late!  This is all your fault!" And on and on and on.  When he paused for a breath I replied calmly, "You're wasting additional time by laying there ranting instead of getting up and getting ready. If you were 5 minutes late getting up, you are now turning it into 10 or 15 minutes by arguing."

I could continue to god into details of the rant.  It wouldn't make any sense, because it didn't make any sense.

I've told them both zillions of times that it is not my responsibility to get them up.  I am more of an insurance policy to make sure that they do.  I know ...I shouldn't even be that!  But I'm dealing in the reality of my situation.  They both have a hard time transitioning from sleep to awake.  This battle isn't new.  There are periods of time, when they are successful.  It really depends on what's going on with their bodies, medication, how they are actually sleeping, and quite frankly, how they are feeling about school at the moment.

I hope to win the war someday.  Key word here is HOPE! If you've been following our journey for a while, you know that nothing in our world is simple, as simple as solutions may appear to be.  I'm not new at this.  This is just one of our unfortunate truths.

So it turns out that he was indeed not late for school.  He had time to eat breakfast and get to school on time.  He told me at the breakfast table, that he really just wasn't motivated to get to school --a place where he is tortured everyday.
"I mean some days are good, but yesterday I was bullied by that same kid.  So I am not looking forward to today."
Ah hah! Lightbulb! 

This kid is someone with behavior issues.  He seems to get a big kick out of pushing people's buttons.  He has been suspended, sent to the alternative school, he is in a behavior program now, etc.  The boy's behavior is just atrocious.  He is basically behaves like an asshole.  I've talked to Blue about this numerous times.  His teacher has addressed the issue.  We are working to get Blue to see that this is not about him.  It's about the kid getting a kick out of being an asshole and pushing his buttons.  The more of a reaction he gives the kid, the happier the kid is.

Blue is not that kid who will scurry away from the bully.  He will stand up and curse the kid out.  He has no fear.  He gets angry.  That anger may transfer into behavior at home.  We are working on that through therapy and with his social skills teacher.
I could try to completely shelter him from the problem ...switch the classes around, push harder to get the kid kicked out or disciplined harder.  I could pull Blue out of the high school and put him in a charter school or home school.  But the truth is, in high school and in the world, there is always going to be some asshole who can't keep his mouth shut.  I want Blue to hopefully learn how to filter other people's behavior.  I am hoping to get him to see that it's not about him.  The problem is indeed something that is going on with the other child.  His bullying behavior is mostly all mouth.  There is something going on in this kid's life to drive his behavior in this direction.  In other words, I am asking for a bit of tolerance from Blue.  That may not be practical, but the truth is, the world is full of assholes.  We can't put them all in a black hole somewhere, as much as we would like to.

On the way to school I also discovered that, he had been up part of the night because of a stomach ache.  I am thankful that he didn't wake me up.  He just dealt with it.  So there's that.  But lack of sleep would help explain the extreme grumpiness.

The interesting thing is, on Friday I am leaving town.  My flight is early in the morning.  I didn't tell him yet, that he will be completely responsible for getting himself up and out the door that morning.  I have to tell him this at the right moment.  My mother will be there to help, but she is not me, and she does not drive.  He will have to be ready for our neighbor to pick him up.  I pray that he gets enough sleep that night.

I am sure that without me around, he will rise to the occasion.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Slap Me Now

Slap me now so I can snap out of it! If I wasn't so tired today, I would slap myself.

Once again, I have over scheduled my day with "things to do" for other people, while putting myself on the back burner.  I can sit back, look in the mirror, and give myself some great advice.  "Just say No!" In fact, I've written that blog before.  I've given that advice to many moms, but here I am not freakin following it.

Great Advice right?
This was my FB status today...

"The To-Do list keeps growing in the wrong direction. I need a personal assistant to help me be everyone's personal assistant."

All week long, I have been putting out small fires in one of the online communities that I run.  I have been spending more time than I have available, being a resource to others.  Which by the way, is one of my favorite things to do, but it puts me behind schedule for other priorities in my life.

I have done some work on the outline of my book, but not nearly enough. I don't like the direction of the outline.  It is boring me.  I want to tell our story, but in a fun, unique, funny way.  I don't want it to be just your ordinary Aspergers parenting book.  I feel like I need a good block of time, to sit, play music and really think about the direction I want this book to go in, and hash-out the outline. It just feels like a massive task.  I do better with small snippets -like this blog.

My advice to myself, is to just take it in small pieces.  One step at-a-time, and you will get there.  Only I feel like my steps have been minimal because of all kinds of distractions, including my Facebook addiction.  If I could drop that bad habit, I'd be further down the line to where I need to be. Loser!

I am behind in my own self-care.  My hair needs to be colored, twisted and perhaps even cut and it's been that way for over a week.  I've been hiding behind pretty, silk scarves, and head wraps.  What lies underneath is scary! My nails need to be done.  If you follow me on Facebook, you know that my toes are my "pretty girly thing" that I try to do for myself on a regular basis.

Also, I probably really need to see my doctor.  I feel bad.  Then I feel good, and so I put if off.  I know what her advice will be...
-Add more cardio into your daily routine.
-Eat healthier.
-Take more time for yourself.
That's what she said the last time.  I followed her directions for about a week.

So today ...I am over scheduled with shit for other people.  Red made a doctors appointment to talk about a weight loss program that will work for him.  I take him at 1:15 today.  Then I take him to work.

I then go pick up my mom and take her to get her nails done.  Why? Because I've already been putting her off for 2 weeks.  Yes. I've put myself off too.  But who cares about that?  (No. I will not be getting my own nails done today.  While she's getting hers done, I have to go back and pick Red up from work.)

My mom told me 2 weeks ago that I "treat her like shit," because she's really just sad, isolated and depressed, which is really not my problem.  This is the life that she has created.  I know that it's her and not me, but still. I guilt myself into doing things for her that I really DO NOT HAVE TIME FOR.  But she's my mother.  She's 74.  She doesn't drive.  She lives with me.  So I play the part of the dutiful daughter.

A big part of my problem is just plain old disorganization  -Attention Deficit Disorder at it's best.  I really think my life would be so much simpler if I were just an organized person.

I am full of self-loathing today.  I feel like an overwhelmed, scatterbrained, idiot.

So in order, not to bite anyone's head off this afternoon, I will take a brief nap now. That will be the extent of my self-care for today.

Anyone out there have some advice on how to become organized? I would love to hear it.  I can not however, promise you that I will follow it for more than a week. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

My Very 1st Blog

This is the first blog that I published way back in July, of 2009.  
To date...it got a total of 41   views. (That's pretty sad). 
Well I've grown some since then.  My average post gets around 400 views. Some  get in the thousands.
Seems like a life time ago.  Look at the picture below.  How adorable and sweet Blue was back then.  This was before he turned into an angry, anxious teenager who talks back! He says, he didn't know there were so many things to worry about when he was only 9 years old!  Red was 13 at the time.  

I've been blogging for nearly 5 years! 

Saddest thing to see is how much things have changed, while somethings stayed the same.  I still hate the hot summers of Texas.  Yet, I am still here. 
Parenting with hubby has evolved as we have both matured, and accept our differences. 
 I think I love him more today than I did on this day, in 2009.  We continue to grow ...together.  



Blue holding Harry
Writing down your thoughts is therapeutic and lord knows -I need therapy! How else can I cope with the ups and downs of my life? Honestly, the ups seem few and far between these days. Maybe it's all in my head...maybe it's not. All I know is that I'm working really hard to be nice to the people I live with and it's not easy. That would include my two sons, Red age 13 (need I say more) and Blue age 10. Then there's my big kid...Hubby, age -let's just say forty something.

I sit here in a local coffee shop -avoiding them. I just dropped off Blue to Art Camp, dropped the Harry (my cute little Maltese) off at the groomers. Red is probably still asleep. Hubby is working, and grumpy, so why should I rush home? 

We live in a suburb of Austin, TX where it is hot as hell right now. I'm sure it will be somewhere in the 100's today and guess what...the air conditioner went out this morning. So do I want to go sit in the heat until the repairman gets there? I do not.

There is always some form of controversy in our house. Last night it was Red bugging the crap out of me to get his dad to help him with something he screwed up on his computer. I am always an advocate...always a mom and always see my children differently than their father does. I guess that's why god created two parents. I am the peacekeeper, caregiver and life manager. 

My husband is the disciplinarian, nitpicker, hell-raiser. I also discipline, but in a much kinder, gentler way. My mother was a screamer.  I found that ineffective and irritating. The first time I speak, I use a calm voice. It's only when I have to continually repeat myself that I get much more audible. I am working really hard at keeping our differences in parenting styles quiet in front of the kids -but it isn't easy. We are often from different planets and speak different languages. That can make communication quite difficult.

Of course this is all my opinion. I'm sure if hubby had a blog -he would have a few choice words about my parenting habits. In fact, he shared them with me last night. "You always let them off the hook. You make too many excuses for them. You are a crutch!" and I could go on -but I won't. I heard more than I wanted to last night.

Last night was one of those nights that I asked myself -why did I get married? It looks so much better on t.v. and in the movies. Reality bites!

Monday, February 10, 2014

#365FeministSelfie Project

I may or may not be known for starting things and not finishing them.  Doing this #365feministselfie project is something that I have committed to doing this year, and I am determined to stick with it.

So far, it's only been about a month, but even on my most tired days, when I forget to take the picture until I am literally on my last leg ...or completely off my legs, laying in bed, about to pass out ...I take the picture.

Why? Well ...who doesn't love a good selfie and a major waste of time taking pictures of yourself?  No.  That's not it.

What attracted me to the project was the pictures of the other women doing the project.  I love browsing through Instagram and Facebook, seeing these pictures of real women who are different from me and yet, the same as me.  I feel this connection to them.  Like somehow I know them because, they are me.

I am a lover of people and of their stories.  A writer by nature, whenever I see someone, I wonder what their story is.  These pictures, give me a little snippet of their story.  I leave the rest to my imagination.

Their pictures say...

I am a mother.
I am a wife.
I am a lover.
I am gay.
I am a friend.
I am a sister.
I am a daughter.
I love my dog.
I am tired.
I am happy today.
I am sad tomorrow.
My cat is my bestie.
Having a good hair day.
Bad hair day.
I am silly.
I can laugh at myself.
I am crazy!
I am funny.
I am bored.
I am fat.
I am sexy.
I am an artist.
I have wrinkles.
I am a writer.
I don't care!
I am beautiful.

When I first started taking my selfies for the project, all I could do was look at my imperfections.

Jesus my nose is huge!
Look at the bags today.
Ugh! The skin is horrible.
What happened to my youth?
Yuck...that's my bad side.
I'm too tired for this.
Getting sick of myself.
o.k. I quit.
Tired ...just before I fall asleep 
Every time my kids or my husband sees me taking one, they think I am completely nuts.

-Mom you take way too many pictures of yourself.
-You're not hot mom. Yeah thanks kid.  Who asked you?
-Great there she goes again with the selfies.
-Mom, why do you keep posting your pictures on Facebook?
If you only knew they're on Instatgram and Twitter too. 

Of course, the thoughts run through my mind...

People are going to think you're so full of yourself.
What an attention whore.  Yep.  Damn skippy.
O.K. now I'm getting sick of myself.
Same place...same thing.
Get creative! Think of something new Karen.
I know my friends are sick of me.

And then finally, I arrive at ...

I don't care.
I am doing this.
I don't care who doesn't like it.
Feel free to block me or hide me in your feed.
If my kids don't like it ...all the more reason for me to keep it up!  I love embarrassing them. 
For me the #365feminestselfie project is an exercise in celebrating women, embracing our imperfections, accepting them, and loving ourselves despite them. As each day progresses, I begin to embrace my imperfections.  Instead of the normal negative self-talk, I begin to think...

Hey. You're not too bad.
You are actually kind of cute.
Maybe you're beautiful.

If I don't think so ...who will? 
Certainly -not my kids!

Feel free to follow my #365feminestselfie project on Instagram -kaspergersmom

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Dear Jason Katims, Writer of Parenthood

I just wanted to let you know that your show, "Parenthood" is surely the best family drama television show ...ever.  I'm not just saying that because it features, not one, but two characters with Aspergers --an adult played awesomely by Ray Romano  and a teenager, played extremely well by Max Burkholder.

I'm not saying that because my entire life happens to revolve around autism and Aspergers.  I live it breath it.  I have two teenagers who keep me very much aware of autism every, single, day of my life  and the show happens to depict the kind of things that families like mine go through on a daily basis.

I'm not just saying this because I was interviewed for an article in 2012, entitled "Autism In Pop Culture"  about this very same show.  You (Mr. Katims) were also interviewed for this article.  I'm sure it was one of hundreds of interviews for you.  For me, it was one of the highlights of my year.  It was featured in the Canadian Huffington Post and various media outlets.  No shameless self-promotion here. 

So, this past weekend ...I was doing my hair, which takes hours (because I have dreadlocks).  This gave me an excuse to be isolated in my room, with my door locked.  Otherwise, the boys, who don't do boundaries all that well, will come bursting in and start talking ...endlessly. Then I can forget about focusing on television.

While twisting my locks, I was able to catch up on my DVR'd episodes of "Parenthood.  Once I got started watching, I couldn't believe how long I had waited to catch up.  Every episode was better than the last.  There were so many layers, so much emotion, right down to the most recent episode, "You've Got Mold".

I think it really was the best episode yet.  It was so good in fact, that I am actually praying that the powers that be, never cancel this show.  I mean ...ever!  Do you hear that NBC powers that be? 

How can the entire world not be watching this show...every week? 

Yes. Sometimes the show is pretty sappy, sad and over the top emotional.  Jesus! That Christina character can cry her eyes out at the drop of a hat. Well last season, she had every reason to cry.  A kid on the spectrum, who is a handful, a daughter in college, a freaking baby and to top it all off --she   had cancer.  I thought the emotion of it all would kill me for sure.  It certainly made me a little less whiney about the battles I face everyday with my own two teenagers with Aspergers.

Well ...as you know, Christina beat cancer.  But she still cries on almost every episode. I think she needs a few visits with a therapist and little prozac.  At least she did get a little relief from the medical marijuana.  I wasn't jealous at all there. What me? Smoke marijuana? Never! 

The show is also funny.  Love that Crosby!  He's always good for a laugh.  I love the relationship between him and Jasmine -a mixed race couple on primetime t.v.!  I mean come on! How awesome is that?

The show has themes of art, music, politics, teenage love and pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse.  I mean what angles doesn't the show cover?  

Yes. They solve problems in a rather grandiose manner.  Like in the latest episode, (my personal favorite, originally aired 1/23/14)  Christina decides to look into actually starting a school for kids on the spectrum.  Us regular folk, in real life might try finding a charter, private or homeschool when we find that our children's needs are not being met and/or they're treated like crap and bullied in public school.

I'll give you a break because this is after all -a drama. Therefore, their problem solving skills must be well ...dramatized.  Don't we all want to start our own school?  Quite frankly, I'd be happy to have the social skills aid who came to the house to work with Max during Season 1. Yeah, most of us can't afford that. 

I know my friends in my online support group, have actually talked about starting a whole commune of families with autism.  Imagine if you will --everyone in the community gets it.  They know the daily challenges you face.  They are supportive.  Our kids are accepted and understood.  They always have peers to play with who don't bully them for being different.  Mouths don't fly open every time your kid curses or tantrums in public during a meltdown.

We have all have coffee and cocktails together.  Not at the same time, but you know what I mean.  While we're fantasizing, all of the dads bake cookies and do crafts with the kids, while us moms are discussing therapies, medication and our latest battle with school administrators.

Oh wait a minute! There would be no stupid school administrators trying to get over on us,  by giving our children minimal services, that probably won't help the child's actual education.

By the way, that depiction of the I.E.P meeting on the show with Christina and her friend was spot on!

The child was clearly brilliant, but the school had no idea what to do with her because well ...she was different.  She probably has some behavior issues, which other kids would find disturbing or disruptive.  Yet, her educational needs clearly could not be met in a restrictive, special education environment, where most of the other students don't have her learning ability.  None of the teachers could actually challenge her.  So instead, the administrators throw mom a bone, like extra-time with the case manager, which of course will do nothing for her child's actual education.

This was such a realistic scene for so many of us.  I couldn't believe I was actually seeing an I.E.P. meeting on primetime t.v.  It was awesome!

The scene reminded me of one of the worst I.E.P. meetings of my life. The Administrator turned to me after I had given her a letter from my child's Psychiatrist.  His doctor was recommending a different setting for him or a one-on-one aid.  This woman actually turned to me and said, "His doctor doesn't know him the way we do.  She doesn't work with him on a daily basis."

Excuse me ...but did you go to medical school? Bitch please! You are messing with the wrong mama!

A few months later,  I turned their world upside down when I decided to take him out of the school all together.  All of a sudden, all kinds of help and supports came out of the woodwork.  Was it my persistence or the fact that I have a very big mouth and a blog, that many people in the district actually read?  Maybe it was the various law suits that the district was already facing.  Or maybe it was the fact that I seem like one of those moms who would pursue due process, and have them pay for my child's private school.

I ended up getting what I needed for my kid, despite that Administrator.  As a matter fact, when I was done, their entire special education department at the high school got turned upside down.  They got a new Department Lead and got rid of a lot of dead weight.  I think we were the first domino that knocked that house of cards down.  Many parents don't have the time and energy I put into our situation.  Their kids end up losing. Which means society as a whole ends up losing.

Back to my fantasy.  Everyone in our commune, including the teachers and administrators are all well trained in autism, Aspergers, anxiety and how individual our children's education plan actually needs to be.

Come on Mr. Katim are you taking notes?  You could at least make this a dream sequence for one of your episodes.

Well, I'm not going to get into the fact that I could slap Joel for being so mad at Julia over what?  A kiss? Really.  You're breaking those kids hearts over a kiss?  That is total crap.

I may or may not be living vicariously through Camille, who has been traveling all over Italy painting, while leaving her needy husband, Zeeke at home.  You go girl! They are obviously growing apart after all of those years of her making sacrifices for everyone else in the family and not paying much attention to her own needs or wants.  No...that's not realistic at all! Hello! that will be me in a few years, if I'm not careful.

But seriously Mr. Katims, and the rest of your producing and writing staff.  Thank you for bringing our kids, our families, autism and Aspergers onto your platform.  I know that those of us in the trenches of the autism community are watching.  We hope that many others are being educated and entertained in the process.

p.s. If you need an Aspergers writing consultant for the show ...I just may be able to squeeze you in to my tight schedule.


~Karen, An Aspergers Mom