Monday, April 22, 2013

((Don't Them for Granted))

How often do you see the cyber ((hug)) on Facebook or elsewhere?  I know that hugs can be amazing.  I know that they can feel good.  I know that for those of us with kids on the spectrum, hugs are sometimes an endangered species.  I get very few spontaneous hugs from James.  I can probably count them on one hand if I only had 2 fingers on that hand.  Now don't get me wrong, I get "asked for" hugs all the time.  I demand them and James usually complies even though they are not very heart felt.  I am talking about the burst of joy and emotional need to express that leads to an amazing squeeze with no strings attached.
peacock shirt = hug  (I love this kind of math!)
Yesterday, we were out shopping and James picked out a shirt for me.  It is a beautiful purple T shirt with a peacock on it.  He was so thrilled that he was picking it out for me but by the time we got home he had  forgotten.  I got up this morning and lovingly put it on for my day.  I was thrilled to be wearing something that James had picked out for me.  He came downstairs with sleep still in his eyes.  He slouched in the chair and stared off into nothingness.  All of a sudden, he saw me.  He stood up and came close.  "I like your shirt Mom!" "Thank you James, I like it too and you picked it out for me at the store yesterday so it is special!" And then it happened.  James looked at the shirt and looked  at me and came in for the most delicious, heartfelt hug I have ever received.

I may never take the shirt off!! 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

I am the WORST Blogging Mommy EVER!!

I missed my Laughter, Could be the Missing Piece's first birthday!!  Happy birthday baby Laughter! You turned one on April 13th, one week ago today!  Mommy Laughter missed it completely.  No excuses but I was kind of busy with ME stuff getting ready to go back to work after almost two years of being home.  You were conceived as a "therapy" for me and you know your big brother James is just a hoot so I couldn't resist!  
As we go back and celebrate the past year together, I will direct your friends to your first blog post.  I hope we have many years together because you bring me joy.  PEACE baby Laughter!

Autism ISN'T Funny!!! Wanna Make a Bet!!! April 13, 2012

To the lay person, Autism isn't funny.  It is something that is unknown, overwhelming, and looked at as an end not a beginning.  To those of us who love someone with Autism, on the surface it isn't funny either.  We need to peel away the layers, the worlds view of Autism,  the school districts view of Autism, our view of Autism, our perception of our child, how our family now looks at our child, the way we now look at our child, the everyday routines and therapies, the everyday small steps that make us smile, the simple joy of watching our child succeed in something new that make us giggle, the rip roaring hysterical things our kids do that they don't realize that make us cry and laugh at the same time because they are soooooo funny!  This blog is intended to help families in the same position I am in find the joy of laughter again.

I love a child with Autism. He didn't make a conscious decision to have Autism.  As a mum, I have cried, screamed, and bargained with the universe to allow him to have an easier life.  I have gone through depression and spent 1,000,000+ hours of research to make sure he gets the best chance of living to his fullest potential.  In the quiet of my home, I have argued with myself about if it is right to insist that he joins my world even though he is so comfortable in his.  And yet, 5+ years after the original diagnosis, I feel comfortable knowing that he is who he is in spite of all of my efforts and because of all of my efforts. 

My son is funny and he is starting to realize it.  He attempts to say funny things and often stumbles over the humor part so that it isn't funny to anyone else.  It is when he isn't trying that his true humor shines through.  Last night his sister was teasing him at a local restaurant that he doesn't eat cow meat.  He looked her straight in the eye and very seriously said..."Well, when I was a baby, I ate melted cow"... (melted cow ='s milk).  See, funny, and he doesn't even have to try.  

My best advise for the day is to find something that your child does everyday that tickles you and write it in a journal.  This journal will be your "Go To Book" for the days that you are having a great deal of trouble finding joy in anything.  Believe me... there will be plenty of those days!  Your child is exceptional perceptive and sensitive to the environment they are in.  If you are joyful, they are more likely to be joyful.  If you are stressed out... well we all know what that looks like on our kids, and it isn't pretty! 

Laughter, Could be the Missing Piece!! 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

He Misses Me!!!

I started back to work yesterday after almost 2 years of being home.  I had prepared James as best as I could getting him used to being at daycare both after school and before school.  I had redone his schedule and shared it with him.  I had talked to him and he told me he heard and understood.  Boy was I WRONG!!!!
I got home today around 6:15 PM to my husband, James's homework behaviorist and James having a difficult moment.  James had been aggressive and non compliant.  He barely acknowledged me when I came in.  He was refusing to do any homework.  I sat at the computer, turned on his spelling word list and started doing what I always do during homework.  It took a few minutes for James to fall into line.  We got through spelling and finished homework by reading.
Later, James found my key card that allows me to get into the office building I now work in.  I told him to put it back in the bag and didn't think about until I couldn't find it.  I asked James to find it but like everything else he loses, he had no idea where he put it.  I told him I was unhappy that he lost it and it would be difficult for me to get into my office tomorrow.  James then showed his hand (it is a card reference).  "Fine, now you can't go to work and my life will get back to normal!!"
I guess it all IS about him!
A face only a mum can love... wait, I am his mum!
I guess I am the lucky one!!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Classically James Part 2

Okay... Charlotte and I started watching a movie this afternoon, The Sessions.  There is quite a bit of nudity, but tasteful.  This movie deals with a very real issue in the world of disabilities... nudge, nudge say no more.  James started talking about bodies and somehow he got onto babies and how I was still pregnant because I was pregnant when he was born.  Anyway... he started talking about being born and coming from my body.  Then he asked, "What month did you choose for me to be born?" I told him that the doctors make a guess about when the baby will be born and he was pretty close to the due date.  Then he started in again.  "What day was I born?" "Well you were born on the 12th?" And then it hit him and he stated in excitement, "You mean I was BORN on my birthday?"

He was certainly in rare form tonight!!
I LOVE the little squished up James!!

Classically James

We all have those moments with our children that we just grin and bear because they are just part of the kid and we love the kid so we just deal with it.  This morning was an EPIC classically James moment.  I am heading back to work after almost 2 years of medical disability and so I have had to find care for my kids.  I had started James in the aftercare program at his school a few months ago to get him used to it and the past few days, we started the before care to allow him to get used to that because Momma is going back to work full time on MONDAY!  We have had one really great morning and two not so great.  This morning, all looked great.  And then it happened... at the very last second and with one foot out the door... James NEEDED a very specific Pokemon book that he couldn't find.  The search started as Charlotte began to get fully stressed about being late for school.  I could see her start to unravel and not really wanting to have two emotionally destroyed children at the same time, I asked our wonderful morning nanny to drive her to school.  I later found out that her car got a flat on the way but she continued to take Charlotte all the way because, well she is just that kind of person!!
James and I continued to look and eventually we did find the book under about 100 pounds of laundry on the couch that has been folded for over a week and no one has done anything with it.  "James, why should I allow you to take this book to school?  You needed to come when it was time so that we can get your sister to school before the bell."
"I know mom but I NEED to have this book!"
"James you know that we talk a lot about the difference between needing and wanting things."
"Yeahbut, I don't want to have to borrow one again because I like mine."
"Yeah buddy, I get it but you need to get in the car when you are told if you want to have your special books and toys."
"Okay mom, but at least now I will have a good day!"
So Charlotte is in pieces and it will likely only be fixed by me taking her the most amazing lunch as a surprise today.  I am trying to figure out how to get James to think of how his behavior effects everyone else knowing that he isn't developmentally ready as well as how am I going to be able to work 50 minutes away when my little man NEEDS things in the middle of the day.  I have been home for almost 2 years and I have been able to handle things as they come up.  I am a GREAT planner but I can't plan for things if they are impulsively James!  Should be interesting.  At least there are only 7 more weeks of school and then Charlotte won't have a 7AM class well at least not for the 10 weeks of summer.
Charlotte was SOOOO not smiling this morning!!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

June 15, 1994 (USA)

June 15, 1994 may have very little significance to anyone but it is the day that The Lion King opened in the United States.  It is probably one of my favorite of all of the Disney films because of the opening.  Watch it again... Don't worry... I'll wait... I will likely watch it again with you...It is so AWESOME!!! (Charlotte tells me that the translation of the beginning is "it is a lion... there look a lion" or some such plain language.  It is amazing that this song one of the most beautiful songs Disney has ever had in a movie can start in such a way.  I still LOVE it!!)

When you hear the first notes of the opening, where does it take you?  What do you think of?  For me, the opening brings me to a place before I was married and had children.  I was planning my wedding and dreaming of someday having children.  It was a time of new beginnings.  A time of wonder.  A time of unknowns.  A time of dreams.  All of the Disney movies are really great about allowing the characters to have and follow their dreams.  For me, The Lion King was the first one that touched me and allowed me to have the dream.  Not because of the story line but because of the opening song.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I am all about Cinderella.  I LOVE the story!  I have many renditions of the movie.  I have many Cinderella stories from many cultures and countries.  I LOVE the story!  By far, my favorite Cinderella story is The Rough-Faced Girl.  Maybe it is a New England thing.  Maybe it is the amazing storytelling that Rafe Martin captures.  I don't know...but I adore this story!  I urge you to check this one out if you haven't already.  Oh and by the way I also have in my Cinderella collection, Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters; The Persian Princess; Princess Furball; Cendrillon: a Caribbean Cinderella; Bigfoot Cinderella; Cinderella Skeleton; Cinderella, the Dog and Her Glass Slipper; Cinderlily; Cindy-Ellen: a Wild West Cinderella; Prince Cinders and probably more that I can't find in my memory but there are a lot and I add to my collection when I can.
Anyway, back to The Lion King and why this blog was originally being written - James and his amazing way to put a new spin on things!  The kids were watching a movie on our trip and the previews came on.  I heard the familiar music start and started to go to my happy place of dreaming of the possibilities with a new adventure until I heard James groan.  Apparently he wasn't in the mood to watch the preview for The Lion King because this was his reaction:  "Oh Great...It's an epic story about a baby that is useless!" Really James!  I need to go now and read The Rough-Faced Girl and find my happy place.  PEACE

Post from The Laughter Dad...

The night James was working on following written directions with us and the homework behaviorist was frustrating for our little guy. He was quite chagrined to discover at Question 8 that he was supposed to ignore Questions 1-7 when he had already bulled ahead and done them. One thing James does in such situations is to talk about the problem he's had to try to figure it out; tell the story of what happened, as it were. He started doing this; meanwhile, the behaviorist was still trying to ram home the lesson of "read ALL the directions" and talking over him. Naturally, James got upset. Declaring he was done because no one would listen, he headed upstairs. I followed to see if I could talk him back down. He wasn't having it. I told him I understood how he was feeling, but that if he went back downstairs I was sure the behaviorist would say he was sorry. "No, he'll never do that." Then James had an idea to get out of having to go down the stairs. He had been playing with a penny; now he said "I'm going to flip this coin. If it comes down Heads I'm never going down. If it's tails I have to." I wasn't about to agree to this, but he had already started. Flip, catch, slap it onto his arm. Tails! James headed downstairs saying "I hate coins!"

Incidentally, he was only halfway down the stairs before the behaviorist called up to him apologizing.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Evolution of Following Directions

Following directions is a very important skill to have no matter how old or young you are.  Small babies learn to imitate at a very young age.  They can often stick out their tongues in imitation as early as 6 weeks old.  This is likely the first direction they will ever follow.  Later they learn "NO" and "STOP" as these are very important safety directions.  Later they will learn to follow one step commands, (give me your cup please) and then two step related directions (please go to the door and bring me your shoes). Eventually they will do two step unrelated directions (put your dish in the sink and kiss the dog). And so it continues until they reach school and then directions and following them become paramount.
We have been working on following written and oral directions with James over the past few nights since he is on spring break with no homework and his homework behaviorist is still coming.  It has really been quite eye opening because James has been nailing the oral directions and falling down on the written ones.  I think he still has a long way to go!!  The three adults involved in this session reminded him over and over to read everything first but he shushed us and told us he had it.  We let him run with it and follow his understanding of what he was supposed to do.
He actually did write his name on the back but we also got in some nice writing and math practice!!