Autism Watch: 2007

Archive for February 2009

That’s a recent conversation in my household. Recent, as in five minutes ago. Ds sat down to do his homework, and realized he was missing one sheet, something I could have re-created for him but he flipped out. It wouldn’t be the same, you know. He’d rather bring home another tomorrow afternoon and do extra work tomorrow night. OH-kay. Then he grabs his sharpened pencil and sits back down to do his math…only to find out he’s missing one of his two math worksheets. Uhm, “Honey, what did you do today that you’re missing so much? Did something happen?” Immediate and worse flip out. “You are mean! You’re just mean today! I’m going to go do my homework upstairs!” Insert the harumph and sigh and tsk tsk tsk, after his yelling stopped.

So now he’s doing his homework upstairs, only one interruption where he just came to ask me where his dad is. (On the treadmill, Honey, trying to get a quick run in, something for himself, you know.)

This, after I rushed around this afternoon to make him an extra special fresh batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies, his favorite. He walked in the house after his dad brought him home, with warm cookies and a glass of milk awaiting him. He wolfed down four cookies, and during that time, man, was he cute. Milk dripping all over his face, shirt and mouth. Cookies crumbs flying as he animately tells me how delicious the cookies were. Milk splatters all over the table between the cup and his mouth as he soaks every bite. SO cute.

Then he got mad.

Now he apparently wants my help because his 14-year-old sister has two friends over so they can do a group homework assignment and they are being ‘too noisy.’ I guess they are distracting him.

Does that make me Queen Cookiemaker and Dispute Resolution and Venting Post?

I guess so.

There are times where I have to take a deep breath and remember how cute he is. Cute. Breathe. Cute. Breathe….

That’s the pace of life lately. It just keeps speeding by!

Pardon the race metaphors, we spent Weds night through Sunday night stalking drivers or watching a pre-race activity or race at here in Southern California. If you’re not a fan, we live so close that you better stock your house and hole up inside the entire weekend, or grow to appreciate the sound of cars from your front yard.

Some late updates:

The IEP went wonderfully. No surprises, all good, agreed-upon things. We’ll be meeting with ds’s new teacher in August, the week before class starts so I can fill her in on All Things Barnacle Boy. Giving a teacher of list of autism symptoms/signs is one thing, but giving a rundown on all the signs your individual child may/will exhibit is on a different level of helping her to become aware. I’m also considering giving her a book on autism, an easy read, but one that mentions traditional helps/treatments in additional to biomedical. I’m open to recommendations!

After the vaccine court ruling, here’s an interesting read: Vaccines and Autism: It’s Not Us vs. Them. Let me know  what you think of it. (The blog, that is, not the ruling. I think I already know where most of us stand!)

I know most of us moms tend to really struggle to find time for ourselves. We have things on our “What I’d Do If I Had  Spare Five Minutes” list that are so old, we’ve forgotten what they are or why we put them there. It’s a battle at times to use the restroom without interruption, meltdown or fit of some sort. I speak from total experience. At the end of the day, sometimes I can be so stressed at the 24/7-ness of my little guy that I’m thankful dh is there to take over for a while. (And I do realize how blessed I am to be one of the 15% of marriages that has survived this diagnosis. I won’t say it’s been without issues, but we’re here, we’re happy, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.) I took up running back in July when we bought a treadmill, but I didn’t really get serious about it until October. Without a treadmill, this would have been impossible. I start work at 6:00-6:30am, and dh has this thing about me running outside before then when it’s dark-ish outside. It’s hard to squeeze in treadmill time on many days, but I’ve learned that I’m better if I make it happen. It’s not always fun, and I get on it, groaning, many days, but wow do I feel better. I can’t say I’ve seen a drastic weight loss, not that I needed one but still, I’m female, I have outlandish dreams of looking 18 again. I run 4-5 days a week now, 35-50 minutes a shot. Not only do my clothes fit better (there’s that vanity again) but almost most importantly, I have energy. I can keep up with Barnacle Boy. I can run up the stairs to calm him at the speed of light, without being winded. I sleep better. I have those 35-50 minutes where I’m focused on something I want to do: relaxing myself (as much as you can be running 8mph), getting in shape, getting healthier, reading a magazine or watching a show I’ve Tivo’d. Or, minus the Tivo’d show, I turn on the Food Network and get inspired. My family has benefitted: I’m more relaxed so I have more patience and get frustrated less easily, I will be around a lot longer to take care of them, and I’ve learned a heck of a lot of awesome recipes that they really enjoy.

I also try to set aside time to keep on top of homework from bible study. That’s hard — my best brain cells are fried during a typical day at work, and I can’t concentrate between the “Mom, I can’t figure out this math problem” and “Can you sign this permission slip” and “Can xxx come over tomorrow?” from all the kids. Having my faith has not only gotten us through life on a day-to-day basis, it’s brought us closer together as a family and gotten us through my son’s autism diagnosis and my daughter’s bout with epilepsy. (She is now a year seizure-free, can you say rah???!!!)

I love to scrapbook. With high hopes, I bought a Cricut machine this week. I hope it doesn’t sit dusty, unused, in its box, like its counterpart, the Cuttlebug has sat for the last year. Seriously. I make jewelry, but that’s also an end-of-the-day hobby, because it takes time and focus and I’m not as creative at the end of the day. I also can’t see. I’m old, my eyes get tired, and I refuse still to give in and buy whatever it takes to see up close better, especially if I have contacts in.

I also love to bake, cook, and read. All nice things, yes, but time is at a premium. I go back and forth. Bake one day, read another. Skim through cooking magazines the next day, do yoga that afternoon. Keeping my mind and body sharp, and staying “me” at the most elemental level is extremely important to dealing with everything else in life.

So what’s my point? The last sentence in the above paragraph. It’s really, truly difficult to get time on our own, especially if our child is more severe, having a more severe phase, or we simply can’t sleep. I have those days, too. If ds isn’t sleepwalking or having major nightmares, I still don’t sleep well. I hear him talk in his sleep, and before you know it, I’m thinking of what I need to buy at Target tomorrow or if I should hit up the market that morning or the next.

Find time for yourself. Even if it’s a quick 20-minute bath where you can use some special body gel or a run through a Starbucks drive-thru for a treat. It needn’t cost money, and in today’s economy, it really shouldn’t all the time. One of my favorite splurges anymore? Heading over to the local mall, getting some new library books, and getting my eyebrows threaded for $11. I’m a cheap date.

I know there are days, weeks, months, where this isn’t possible. My son was an out-of-control toddler and preschooler. He’s now a semi-in-control second grader. Life’s still not perfect, but it is getting better. I know most of it is due to therapies, services, training, treatment, all of that, but I know some of it is because I’m becoming a better person. Don’t feel bad for that. Our children need it as much as we do.

How many times do we hear that from people? You know, those things that supposedly are good for our kids, things that help them mature/grow/learn or become more prepared for their future but break your heart and are really hard to do. (Isn’t being a kid supposed to be a lot of fun?)

This morning, I did one of those things. I know I needed to do it, but I didn’t want to. It probably sounds like no big deal to parents of typical kids, but I … <gulp>….walked away before the bell rang at school and left him on the playground.


Watching him walk away from me, an odd-ish gait because he’s not entirely comfortable, and he wanted me to stay. But “it’s good for him.” Blah. He was looking for friends, and after running back to me for one more hug (and a loud “I love you, Mom!” which entirely surprised me because he wants to look cool there) he still couldn’t find anyone. The last look I had of him this morning was trying to get some other kid to give him five, and the kid just wouldn’t cooperate. (But, I was so far away, I couldn’t hear what he was saying so who knows how ds approached it.)

I hate these things we have to do for them that we know hurt them at the time, but are good for them in the long run. If I don’t help him separate better in the morning, it’s going to be harder for him as he gets older — kids are brutal, and already he gets funny looks from time to time. (And here it’s February, and he’s still not been invited to a single birthday party for anyone in the class…but whatever, I digress.)

Think happy thoughts for us. Tomorrow we have an IEP. We have an excellent school and admin, but still, it’s an IEP…happy thoughts, please, happy thoughts.

I have been MIA. Or as I prefer to call it, MOB: Missing on Blog. No one reason — no tragedies, no health issues, no major events, just constantly busy and in the leftover time, unmotivated to share more of the same old stuff. But, I am back. As I was sitting here thinking how I needed to blog, an opportunity presented itself. Don’t you just love when that happens? A moment where you should be thinking “what do I do?” but instead you think “I can blog about this.”

Barnacle Boy had minimum day today. It’s monsoon season here in SoCal, yet he was running towards me in our whopping mid-40s temps, through puddles, without his coat. But, he didn’t forget the silly glasses my older dd bought him down in San Diego last week. They’re these wire-rimmed round frames with metallic eyes that stare at you. He could be sleeping and you’d not know it, yet he can see out. I wonder if he wore them during class, but right now, I’m quite frankly afraid to ask.

Typical routine when he gets home is he fills me in on his day, has a snack (usually his specially-baked chocolate chip cookies and milk) and then does his homework. If he’s already showing signs of needing to decompress, he takes 20 minutes to play, then comes and does the work then. Today, he decided he wanted to get it done right away. BUT — that wasn’t before he had to rail on and on at me for not buying him a voice-changing toy from the latest Scholastic book order last week. (He got his books back last Friday, after bugging the teachers daily, and just today realized I didn’t order that $9 toy?)

To back-up further — as soon as he grabbed my hand, he started to chastise me for forgetting the toy. I never buy him good stuff. I’m mean. I don’t do cool things. And so on. We finally get to my truck, what feels like miles down the road because it’s freezing cold out and I’m one of only about 12 parents out of 600 who braved getting out of the car….despite there being no rain right then. Anyway, he played the “I’ll put my seatbelt on when I want to, even if you run out of gas while waiting on me” game. (Bear in mind, I drive a large SUV, one to transport our large family and tow our RV. I can’t just park in any small spot, maneuver away from the curb between everyone blocking the road on a dime, or fill that tank for $5. ) I sit there, motor running, while he’s too far in the back to almost hear me, not telling me if he’s buckled in. And cars are whizzing by me to escape the lazy people who were backing up traffic for miles and miles. Then he starts in again on the missing $9 toy. And continues.

We get home. Still on the toy. (Okay, so it’s a two-minute drive. It just felt like longer.) Comes inside, still on the toy. He gets a bagel, eats it, mumbling about the toy. Takes two minutes on Google on his computer to search it out. Toys R Us. Ha, not on my radar the way you’re yelling, Buddy. Comes to do his homework and realizes that one way he’s been doing his homework is not the right way, ironically as he’s doing it again. The pencil goes flying. So does the paper. So do a bunch of non-vulgar words about the homework, the teacher, the school. Sigh. (And that wasn’t my first sigh. In my head, I was putting him on mute.) It’s been 20 minutes now, and he’s finally working on his math. The botched spelling? Put aside so he can ‘talk’ to his teacher tomorrow. (Thankfully, I got him to agree that emailing his feelings to her was not a good idea. Did I mention we have an IEP in two days?)

I had to step away to answer a phone in another room. While there, I see that in his anger, he pulled everything out of his desk drawer and threw it everywhere. As I walk back to where he’s doing his homework, I get the ‘be quiet, do not bother me’ lecture. (He’s 8. Aren’t I supposed to be the one lecturing?) I find another pencil he broke and threw. I suspect it won’t be the last thing I find.

As for the big picture, it’s Nascar season again. Finally. We have race tickets for Auto Club Speedway and Las Vegas. That’s what dh and I do for ‘our time.’ We had our closest friends over for the Bud Shootout this past Saturday, where our driver nearly pulled off a win. SO close. We’re hosting a Daytona party next weekend, same group of friends, a few more, and a whole lot of food. We make sure Barnacle Boy has plenty of things to choose from, but other than when he eats, he’ll be upstairs in his re-done room, complete with TV/Tivo, computer and Gamecube. He can get away from the noise, and we can still have a fun gathering. (We did take ds to the track with us this past weekend when we attempted to use our 3-lap ride-along gift certificates but the rain foiled that. Oh, and to the lady who touched him and told him not to kick his sister? Who are you? Do you randomly touch other peoples’ children? Do you even realize that there might be a whole lot going on that you, a stranger, aren’t privy to? That very act may have set him off so badly we’d have had to leave, and he was doing pretty darn good. Grab him by the shoulders again. I dare you. We really are watching, just as we were then. ) Lots of appointments, doing our taxes, celebrating two more kids’ birthdays…just a busy month, but now I’m back, and ready to bog about anything and everything once again.

And as I type that, ds is yelling at his sister for existing. How dare she come through the kitchen, eat a bowl of cereal that he might want, make it quieter, for Pete’s sake, and stop cracking your knuckles!! I am counting the minutes until dh’s eye-doctor appointment is done so I have back-up. It’s going to be a LONG night.

Oh, and I’ll try not to go MOB again.

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