Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sometimes a Molehill Really is Just a Molehill

We have all heard the saying, "Stop making a mountain out of a molehill."  We all know that it means not to make something bigger than it really is.  I have been reminded of this saying twice over the past week or so.  First, I found an amazing spoken word Canadian poet named Shane Koyczan >>you will not be disappointed!<< The first thing I heard him perform was his piece called To This Day.  The beginning of the poem is a major mountain out of a molehill situation. The rest of the poem is well worth the time it will take to listen.   Enjoy, I will wait for you!


Pork chops and karate chops... so misunderstood and it all could have been avoided if someone had actually thought to ask him how he got hurt.
The second incident is a little closer to the Laughter house.  James has received 3 referrals to the office in the past week.  Last week was a bad week for him all around so defying adults should have gotten him the referrals.  I see those.  Yesterday, he got a referral for "hitting" a kid on the playground during a game of four square.  His punishment for the crime is for him to sit out of recess for today and tomorrow.  Seems a little harsh especially after I asked him what happened.  James doesn't do anything without a reason.  All behavior is communication and he communicates loud and clear for anyone who knows his language.  It seems as though the other child had been cheating at the game and James being so rule driven, took the law in his hands and removed the ball from the other child.  He probably should have asked an adult for help but he is reactive, impulsive and often doesn't think before doing stuff OH YEA... that's what IMPULSIVE means!  If the adults had taken the time to talk to James, this probably wouldn't have gone this far but it has and the referral has been signed and placed in his permanent file.  Sometimes mainstreaming really sucks!!  I am glad that he is doing as well as he is but sometimes people need to let the kids handle their little squabbles instead of bringing in the army to blow out a match!
BTW... if you like the poem above, try this one out for size.  Bring your tissues!  This one has a few very well placed and necessary expletives.    For anyone who knows me, I don't dabble in that kind of language but here, it seems perfectly placed.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Oh Blessed Peace and Quiet

There are typically 2 ways the mornings can go in the Laughter house.  First the kids are horribly at each other's throats irritating each other and second, they are almost enjoying each other's company but they are both trying to get on the last nerve of their sparring partner.  Today was the latter.
We have a large window like opening to look from the dining room to the kitchen (I know it has a name but can't think of it).  Charlotte was sitting at the kitchen table because James and his morning nanny were at the dining table playing BeyBlade while he ate his breakfast.  When his nanny left, he turned to  torment poor Charlotte.

"Oh look, breakfast and a show on this huge TV.  Looks like there is only one person in this show and it is a BOY."  I went into the kitchen at this point.  "Guess I was wrong, now there are two people, HI mom" I waved and headed back to the dining room.  Then Charlotte chimed in, "Guess the TV is 3D James"  but he had moved on.  
One minute from needing to leave for school with any hopes of getting the kids there on time, James swung on his backpack and Charlotte fought with a very stubborn cowlick on the back of her head.  Both kids were upset.  James asked me to take the math text out of the backpack so it wouldn't hurt his back.  (I haven't figured out why math textbooks have to be so freakishly heavy.  Geez, the kid is only in the third grade but the book must weigh 4 pounds!)  Anyway, both of the kids were upset and wanted someone else to handle the problem.
James came up with the perfect solution for his problem, he was just going to have his sister carry his book to the car.  Charlotte, speed brushing her hair begging me to tell her the cowlick was gone (this is the "do these pants make my butt look big?" situation I wasn't going to deal with today) told him to carry his own book because she had her own heavy books to carry.  I told James to pick up his book and Charlotte to consider the cowlick a curl and let's GO.  Both kids shot me THAT look and I headed for the door.  Charlotte put down the brush, picked up James's book and put it in his hands and basically told him to deal with it.  James looked at her and said, "It is a freakin' curl! Deal with it."
And now, I am home and it is quiet (K.D. Lang is singing but she was invited!). Time for breakfast and last night's episodes of The Following and Castle.  PEACE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Oh Beautiful Anonymity Where Are You????

There are some people in the world who wish for fame.  They want everyone to know their names and to have their faces plastered everywhere.  This is NOT me.  I love to be behind the scenes.  I would prefer to just be invisible and have always been comfortable in that space. I HATE to have my picture taken because not everyone would understand who I am when they see how I look.  I know, their problem but I don't see myself the way I look.  Weird mirror self image thing I guess.  Anyway...
It is not always a good thing to be recognized.  It is not a good thing for James to be recognized by nameby the brand new secretary at school on her second day.  Same for the assistant principal.  Today I was at my local medical center, the one I go to frequently, and was greeted by name by both the radiologist and the lab tech.  SERIOUSLY NOT A GOOD THING!  Where is my invisibility cloak when I need it?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Found You!

It is Sunday so that means dreams of a lazy day with peace and quiet while we all prepare for the week ahead RIGHT?  Ah, not in the Laughter house!! James has been on fire and hasn't stopped making noise since he got up!! Our cats are used to it and they all deal with it in their own unique ways!  Abra, the shyest of the bunch tends to hide.  He is kind of like the kitty in this trash heap:

happy not to be quickly noticed.  He loves his quiet people and will talk with them when all is right with his world.
James is unfortunately not right for poor Abra's world.  Even though he is James's cat and has a wonderfully long name (Abracadabra Crackadoo) given by James himself, Abra prefers to hide when James is around.  We all know that a picture is worth a thousand words so I will leave you with a few from this morning.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

How'd Like a Nice Hawaiian Punch?

Okay, I am old enough to remember the Hawaiian Punch guy when he first hit the TV screen.  Ah,
the good old days when the juice didn't spill when the punch was thrown!  
Anyway, we were in the car on the way home from fencing today and James had a fruit punch drink that apparently was too small to fit in the cup holder.  Bad design in the van I guess.  Again I digress.  Adam Lambert was singing Pop that Lock which is now James's favorite song on the planet, sorry Ka-Ching by Shania Twain.  James really gets into the beat and dances full on while strapped into the back seat of the van.  I dare you to try to sit still with this one!!

All of a sudden I hear Charlotte say, "James, just because it is fruit punch doesn't mean you have to PUNCH it!"
My van is going to smell like fruit punch now!  I guess it could be worse!!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Do You Remember...?

Do you remember the minute leading up to the DIAGNOSIS?  Ah, probably with crazy detail!  You probably remember what the room looked like, the weather outside and the smell of the overly clinical environment.  You likely remember details about how long it took the assessor to put on their glasses and open the document.   And now, do you remember the minute or any minutes of the hour or weeks following the diagnosis?  For me, I was too busy hugging my baby and explaining the news to James' 10 year old sister.  
>> click here<<
Today is 6+ years past the diagnosis of Moderate Classic Autism for my little man and I finally had the strength to write a pamphlet on what to do post diagnosis. James over the years since his original diagnosis has received several more and pamphlets on those can be found on my website Well Worth the Journey >>click here<<  James was first thought to have a simple speech delay and it wan't until after his third birthday that the Autism was discovered.  Boy if I knew then what I know now, I probably would have fought harder.  We all know hindsight is 20/20 but he lost a lot of very early learning opportunities.  I am not a speech therapist but I became one in the house without any training.  I do have a Master's degree in Young Children with Special Needs ages 3-7.  I became an expert in infant and toddler development specifically James's development.
James became my full time job even though I was working full time, married full time and mom to a 10 year old daughter full time.  Our town didn't really have any viable programs for my little man so my home became therapy zone.  The one special ed preschool in the school district for kids like James told me that they wouldn't take him without a 1:1 aide.  Fine, they got one.  James wasn't allowed off the bus until the aide arrived and she was often late so my little man would remain on the bus screaming because he could see the other kids inside.  I would get frantic calls, "Ah, Mrs K?  We can't find James.  Did you send him to school?" I was panicked and furious at the same time.  How can you lose a child who has a 1:1 aide?  The classroom he was in happened to be on the same campus as his sisters school.  They would find him running to her classroom and if he made it that far, under her desk.  James didn't stay in that program after they lost him the 2nd time.  Diagnosis or not, losing a 3 year old child is never a good thing!
Ah, the good old days! I remember them.  Boy do I need some chocolate now!!!!!!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Bring it ON!! I am Ready!!

I know that as a parent, I would do anything for my kids.  I clothe and feed them.  I support their interests.  I make sure that they are happy and healthy.  I am also their stress neutralizer. Both of my kids have anxiety to some degree.  My daughter has stress around school and doing her best in everything she does.  James, well he has Autism so anxiety is kind of part of his makeup.  He has anxiety over new situations and forgetting things that he feels he needs.  Just this morning I was called into service by both kids.  Charlotte was first.  She showed up in the kitchen around 6AM in her pj's spinning a tale of horror involving the evil printer.  We tackled the problem again and together we were able to get the printer to comply to a high enough degree that we were able to check this off the stress chart.
The next problem came at breakfast.  Next year's classes needed to be decided on by today!  Charlotte was having difficulty deciding between the fast or the "slower" track in IB Calculus.  Oh man, how do I help her with this one?  I am  allergic to numbers and math of all levels.  I told her that it really didn't matter because it was IB in both cases and it is Calculus.  Math isn't anything that she is going to pursue in college so really what is so hard in the decision?  She is so driven that it seems that if she takes the "easy" path then she won't be living up to her potential.  Okay, but it is CALCULUS not play dough for preschoolers.  So I emailed her current math teacher and asked her to give Charlotte permission to take the slower track next year and feel good about it.  BAM... stress hopefully gone.
6:54AM drop Charlotte off at school and go home and deal with James who only got an hour of restorative sleep last night! Thanks Autism!!
James was in a great mood when I got home and was very good at getting ready to go to school.  We got in the car and 5 minutes from school and all of a sudden, "OH NO!!!!!!!! My Beyblade!!!!!!!!!!!!"  On Fridays the kids who go to aftercare are allowed to bring toys from home because there is no homework.  Stress reducing mommy to the rescue... "Don't worry buddy, which ones do you want?  I will drop them off to aftercare and they will be ready for you when you get there." BAM... happy 3rd grader ready to face the day on one hour sleep and 4 tests looming over him when he gets to the classroom.  No stress here!
And, how you ask, do I handle all of the stress I nab from my kids and pile onto my shoulders? Don't worry, I have very supportive, not to mention delicious, friends!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Is it Love When....

holding her baby brother for the first time
Okay, on this day set aside to celebrate Love, I want to share a glimpse into the deepest love connection I have ever witnessed, that between my two children.  I'll admit that sometimes the love is hard to recognize but it is there with every irritating thing they do to drive each other crazy.

she was so proud the day she held him
upright for the first time!!
We all know that love is a feeling, a profound emotion that can make us do wacky things.  The feeling of love can also make our hearts race... and make other physical changes to our bodies.  We all know what the changes are when we experience THAT kind of love.  We have all heard stories about people being married for 60+ years who die within hours of each other.  It is beautiful!  The love I would like to explore is the unconditional love that is hard to attain outside of those special bonds.  My kids, although they will likely never admit it, have that special unconditional bond.
a rare moment of mutual enjoyment being
But is it love when James sings a song or says a word over and over just to drive Charlotte crazy?  He knows it bothers her but he loves her so much that he does it just so she can see his amazing smile when he finally stops knowing that he got her!!  Is it love when Charlotte tells him she will not play Pokemon because she has homework only to surprise him an hour later to play a Wii game?  Love that is unexpected is far more precious than love that is demanded!
I would love to believe that I have had something to do with their amazing bond, but I really didn't.  They are as different as two people can be.  Their interests are vastly different.  They have very little to talk about that they are both genuinely interested in.  In fact, very little talking goes on to demonstrate their love for each other.  Even when they are furious with each other, the love is there. Even if they are at each other's throats all day long, they can always find something to break the spell.  It may be a song that moves both of them to sing (James the men's part and Charlotte the woman's.) We never know but they always go back to loving each other in that amazing sibling way.  On my website Well Worth the Journey >>click here<< I have written a pamphlet about being a sibling of a child with special needs >>click here<<.
I always hoped that my children would have a typical sibling relationship and my fondest dreams have come true.  They sometimes hate to love each other and sometimes love to hate each other but all is forgiven by morning!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

An Interesting Question...

On one of my Facebook blogging sites, a question was asked of those of us who are married.  The basic question was ... What does your partner think of your blogging?  The responses seemed split down the middle between reading and loving it and never reading and hating it.  My husband and I have been married almost 18.5 years and there is very little that I do that he doesn't approve of.  I think he wishes that I wouldn't point out how I am always right all of the time but the blogging is okie dokie  with him.  I am blogging the truth and honesty has always been a biggie for us in our marriage.
We use our real names and yes, I asked permission before using Charlotte's name in any of the blogs.  I did this because this is our life.  No pseudonyms just reality in our house.  I can appreciate bloggers who change names to protect the innocent.  James, unfortunately is guilty as charged in every blog I have ever posted!!   Our kids are typical siblings with the love/hate relationship we all dream of as parents. I will have to post a blog someday of their amazing journey but for now back to the topic at hand.  
Does my husband like my blogging.  The answer is YES because first it gives me something to do while on medical disability AND it gives him a different perspective.  When we are in the depths of whatever crisis James has dragged us into, it is very difficult to see the humor.  Taking a step back and thinking about it... I can usually get him to see something that will put a more positive spin on the experience.  He also likes for me to do it because he LOVES James and all the craziness that goes into making him who he is!  
Find your bliss in the craziness that is and find PEACE when that craziness finally goes to sleep at the end of the day!! Blog on and share your journey!!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

If Wishes Were Kisses...

If wishes were kisses, my son would be smothered daily.  I wish he would eat a vegetable, I wish he would tie his own shoes, I wish he would drink milk, dress without 100 reminders, do his homework independently, pick up his toys.... the list could be endless, but all of these things make up the fun part of James.  I was reading a blog by a fellow Autism blogger, AutismDaddy >>check him out here<<.  This particular blog was a question and answer one.  People posted questions on his Facebook page and he answered them.  One question caught my eye.  He was asked, if he could cure his son of either Autism or Epilepsy, which one would he chose.  James has both Autism and Epilepsy, so I sat back and thought.  It is an interesting question.  So, I went to another authority, my daughter.  I asked her which she would get rid of.  Her answer was Epilepsy, for sure.  She went on to explain:  Epilepsy has the potential to be life threatening.  Autism, although life altering, isn't potentially fatal.
I had had the same thoughts, but I can also see the flip side.  Autism is all encompassing.  It effects every breath, every step, every thought James has.  He has to work incredibly hard to just live in the world he is in.  People with Epilepsy without Autism can live very full and productive lives.  Those with well controlled Epilepsy can hold down a variety of highly regarded jobs.  Here is what I found with a simple Google search >>click here<<
So... If wishes were kisses, I would kiss Epilepsy goodbye and embrace the Autism that is James!   I have a much different perspective though.  James, although originally diagnosed with moderate to severe classic Autism, has responded to ABA so well that his educational Autism diagnosis was almost taken off his IEP this year after his tri-annual evaluation.  We just never know with our kids what is going to be the magic that will make our wishes come true. James eats a horrible diet, doesn't take huge doses of vitamins, is fully vaccinated, watches TV, and plays video games, but is also an ABA success story.   Interesting question though!!

>>click here<<                                                        >>click here<<

Friday, February 8, 2013

My Heart Broke a Little... Another Piece of Innocence Lost

Dropping James off at school is something I have started to enjoy.  He is happy to get out and get with his friends.  This morning was like any other this week.  He collected his stuff and opened the door on the van with great expectations of good times.  He got three steps outside this morning and saw a friend from his class.  James called to the friend, and greeted him with an exuberant "Hi (insert kids name here)!" The child shot him a quick glance and walked on without acknowledging James in similar fashion.  When my sweet little man looked back at me, there was sadness in his eyes and my heart broke with the loss of innocence he was experiencing.
I don't expect everyone to be friends with James because I know that it would be unrealistic.  However, James's "village" has spent the past 5+ years pulling him out of his world with the promise that ours was a better friendlier and nonthreatening one.  We have worked on basic social skills the most basic being greeting.
James loved Dragon Tales for a long time and they played the "Hello" song often.

He learned how to say hello and goodbye.  He has an expectation when he makes the first move because that is how the game is played.  How do I explain to him that not everyone wants to play the game.
James loves kids and I am sure he will continue to say "hello" to friends and most of them will respond with a positive reaction.  It is a tough lesson to learn, that not everyone will be your friend after so many years of telling him, "Go and say hi to that kid.  You may make a new friend."

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Glad I Took the Comments off my Blog Before THIS One!

I am trying to remember if I have tackled this topic before but I am not sure so here it is for the first time or possibly again.  TV isn't evil!  Yes, I use it as a "babysitter" when I need to.  James has one in his bedroom >>here<<.  TV did not cause his Autism >>here<<, IT has possibly made him having Autism a little easier to deal with because he is able to be alone, in his room for longer than a millisecond without supervision.
In the beginning, even before James was diagnosed, he seemed to have absolutely no idea that people existed.  We were part of his environment like a table, chair or wall.  He would drive his cars and trains over us same as he would the wall or windowsill.  My baby was empty!!  He had two loves in those days Thomas the Tank Engine and his soft pieces of fabric.  He would play in the living room and if Thomas the Tank Engine was on the TV then he would periodically look at the TV.  In time, he would sit and watch the short episodes getting up when it was over.  It was amazing!  My little man was learning about beginning and finishing something ~ anything.  You can read about the Thomas magic with kids with Autism here >>click<<
Over the years, James' tastes have changed.  Thomas gave way to Blues Clues and then Dora and Diego.  They were replaced by Speed Racer and Spider Man.  Now it is Ninjago, Pokemon, Beyblade and Phineas and Ferb. I let James watch TV because it is a chance for him to relax and relate in a way that takes less energy.  Sure I want personal interactions with him and I get them.  You can read about TV and Autism --> >>here<<
James's vocabulary has increased immensely by watching TV also.  This morning he was talking about the agility of his Pokemon character.  A few months ago he used the word Nemesis in the correct context.  I asked him what it meant and he defined it as an enemy (pretty close for a 9 year old!)  Where did he learn that word?  Phineas and Ferb of course.  Doofenshmerts has some of the best words in the show!! Check him out below!!

Oh and don't get him started on Aglet's you may never get him to stop!!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

525,600 Moments So Dear!!

James has started a new bedtime ritual with me that is just a little creepy!  On his way up to bed, he looks over the railing and says, "I will cry a lot when you die.  It will be sad.  Night Mom!"  I know that he is just trying to process emotions that are difficult for adults but nothing like a warm and fuzzy death speech to give you good dreams!
He has it all worked out in his mind as to who in our family will meet their demise first.  Daddy, because he is the oldest, then me, then Charlotte and then himself.  It is logical and black/white to him.  You die when you are old.  Each birthday brings us closer to "deathday."  He doesn't mean to seem rote about this but to him, it is just the way it is.
James learned his emotional training through Thomas the Tank Engine.  >>click here<< and >>here<<.  Thomas taught him about the concrete emotions, happy, sad, angry... But what about the abstract ones?  Who teaches our ASD kids how to cope with loss, sorrow and grief?  A quick Google search led me to many great sites and resources.  I particularly liked a workbook I found on the search >>Finding Your Own Way to Grieve<<.  It is a workbook that helps make this very abstract idea concrete for our concrete thinkers.  I know that I will be ordering it for our family (not that we need it immediately but I am a planner and hate waiting for the last minute).
I will continue to talk to James about life and death as he brings it up.  I will not hide from it.  I don't want him to think the conversation is taboo and something to be avoided.  Avoiding emotions is dangerous.  He is asking for information and I will supply it at his developmental level to his satisfaction.  It is like the conversation I had with Charlotte when she was 2 and started to ask where babies come from.  I looked at my verbally precocious child and simply said, "the hospital."  So just remember that baby steps are the way to go when dealing with adult issues with our kids.
Death and grief can be as confusing to a kid with ASD as a familiar song sung in an unfamiliar language.  So here is Seasons of Love from RENT in Swedish to help you understand (unless you know Swedish.)  The picture is the American cast (representing the concrete emotion of sadness)  but something is different (Swedish instead of English words).  We all expect to hear at the beginning of this song the words, "525,600 minutes."  Instead we get something beautiful but different and somewhat confusing.  It will take some time before we understand it and that is OKAY.  I used this RENT song because James loves RENT both the movie and the Broadway version!  I will help him understand what he needs to become who he needs to be 525,600 minutes this year!!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Good Morning Karma!

Good Morning 6:15 on a Saturday!  Can't say I was ready to get up but there was James at the foot of my bed, in the kitchen, ready for the day.  He was perky and bubbly.  Me, not so much.  And then the whirlwind started.  Lights went on, cats got picked up and dumped on me, spiders got thrashed in an epic battle. I begged for it to stop on the spiders' behalf but James was relentless.  Screaming that it was going to poison him and it was evil.  We do have black widows who live very happily in our garage but this was apparently a 7-legged daddy long legs.  At this point, I don't really know; all I know is it is dead on my kitchen floor.  Then all of the Pokemon cards got dumped out on the kitchen table and the search began to find the one card we haven't been able to find for months.  This was all before 6:30 so I decided to include my husband in my morning.  I called up to him and he reluctantly answered mumbling something about never being able to sleep in on the weekends.  I reminded him that he got to sleep until 8 AM last Saturday and 8:45 AM on Sunday.  Not really want he wanted to hear.
I took the opportunity to make a phone call to family on the East Coast, James, in usual fashion, interrupting me while on the phone.  I told him that I would talk to him later and I was on the phone.  I got back to my call and during the call my husband apparently tried to call me.  I ignored the beeping on my phone.  I finished my call and called my husband back. No he hadn't tried to call, must have been a mistake.  James on hearing that chimed in, "Wow, he tried to call you while you were talking?  That isn't polite!"
James decided around 7:15 that he was too cold, I hadn't turned on the heat yet, so he ran upstairs to crawl back into bed.  All of a sudden... "mom? Mom? MOm? MOM? MOM? MOM? Dad is in my bed!"  My ignoring HIS call wasn't working.  My husband came downstairs with his arms filled of dirty clothes and the sheets from James's bed. Booya baby!!!

Friday, February 1, 2013

What Did She Say??

James does spelling on the computer to help him learn his words for the week.  I love the site because it takes me out of the spelling fight!  There are games and other activities but for the most part, we do a practice test everyday to see what words we need to work on.  The only words I require him to write are the ones he gets wrong.  Anyway, like most computerized voices, pronunciation is sometimes questionable.  I repeat the ones he doesn't hear correctly.  This week it was the word ladder.  He kept hearing latter.  I sent a note on his spelling practice test for last night about this and asked his teacher to make the pronunciation really clear for James.
Well, I just got an email from Jamesie's teacher and he got a 14/15 on his spelling test and got the word ladder correct!! His teacher also wrote that James complemented him on his pronouncing the word correctly and he was much better than the computer!   Love this kid!!  Hmmm, I bet the one he got wrong was tomorrow.  He kept spelling it tommorow this week but finally got it last night.  I guess we will see.  Another week of spelling done!