Autism Watch: 2007

Archive for February 2010

I am now officially a homeschooler. I didn’t foresee this. If you’d asked me last year about homeschooling BB, I’d have said no. If you’d asked me last week, I’d have said no. If you’d asked me at 6:55am today, I’d have said no. Yet, here I am, 6:03pm, and I’m a homeschooler. And BB is laughing.

I’ll do anything for that sound.

As I’ve shared on this blog a ginormously number of times, BB’s not happy in school. In his words, he’s picked on, teased, bullied and hassled on a daily basis. We’re not entirely sure it all happens to the extent he feels it is, but that’s the keyword: feels. He feels picked on, teased, bullied and hassled. I don’t always see it, in my limited time there, nor does his teacher or aides. But, he feels it. I do know he hates being called “clown,” the word a ‘friend’ came up with last week to use to alienate him from the other kids; I also know his self-esteem is at an all-time low. He knows mom and dad and family and our friends love him, but he’s a nine-year-old boy. He wants others to like him. It’s that simple.

So after one last hysterical sobbing mess of a morning, he’s a homeschooled child. Okay, so he’s technically on ‘independent study’ at the moment, as our move is coming up in a few weeks, so the school provides the work and I just help him do it. Best of both worlds. He’s happy, his anxiety is much less, and I think will continue to lessen over the next few days, and he’s not obsessing all evening about what will happen tomorrow.

Life is good. Now I just have to start packing.

I love loved Dickeys Barbecue. It’s the closest to real Southern food I can get here in California. The melt-in-your-mouth pulled pork, the soft bun, the hot sauce with the chunks of peppers…I digress. Anyway, I was excited when our local franchise reopened after a temporary closure. We ordered their catering for our New Year’s Eve party, and it was gone in minutes.  We got take-out from there last week, and BB downed a roast turkey sandwich in under two minutes. Every last bite of the bun even, a world record. So last night, the fourth night that I was on my own for dinner with just the younger two kids, since dh is traveling for work all week out-of-state (in the cold, cold, snowy South, to be exact) it seemed the natural choice for our takeout.

It had been one heck of a day. Tired from a busy week on my own with the kids and home-sale business, I’d gotten the house clean for a late-evening showing and got the call about another one at lunchtime. 1:30 came and went before I learned, by making a phonecall instead of receiving one, that the agent was a no-show for technical reasons. Sigh. I know, it happens, but I’d eaten an early lunch and rearranged my schedule so I could quietly sit at my desk (aka the dining-room table these last few months) and be as inconspicuous as possible. The cranky notch went up quite a bit, because home showings all seem to focus on the buyer — while I understand that it IS about the buyer, because we want them to like the house and want to buy it, but the seller isn’t inconsequential. We’re not sitting around with nothing to do; we’re putting off other appointments, we’ve cleaned our house and don’t want to mess it up, and we may have business phone calls we have to make. We’re also trying to keep autistic children from having meltdowns because yet another person is “snooping” in their room or “looking” at them and interrupting the daily schedule. We’re trying to keep our routine as normal as possible and get to school to pick them up on time. We’re doing the best we can and would love a phone call if you’re running late — we are as important as the buyer.

Now that I’m off that rant…phew, I feel better…we got ready to go pick up dinner. BB had experienced a complete and total hysterical fit the night before upon hugging his biggest sister goodbye, when she left for the evening to go back to her apartment, he saw a picture of him and daddy, sitting on the piano. The sobs ensued. Big, hairy, sad, body-shaking, tears falling to the floor sobs. It took an hour of me, then daddy via speakerphone, calming him before he was any semblance of normal…his brand of normal. On the way to dinner, he was a bit “off.” After seeing the hysterics the night before, I knew it was a possibility, especially since I took him out of his domain, but I figured “we run in, pay, grab our drinks, and run out. How bad could it be?”

Ha ha ha ha, famous last words.

It was pretty bad.

It all started, after waiting wayyyyyyyyyyy too long for the one couple of men in front of me to place their orders. Like five minutes just for them to decide how to qualify for a free pulled pork sandwich. I kid you not. I was about to hand him $5 and say there, now you have a free pulled pork sandwich. He was handed his cup, and that was the beginning of the end. “This?? I get THIS sized cup? I want a BIG CUP!”

Sigh.

Ten minutes later, I was towing him to the car by holding onto his jacket zipper with my left hand, my drink and bag of sandwiches in my right hand. I’d already been kicked in the shins, yelled at and called some choice words. The couple sitting next to the drink machines? Thanks for trying hard not to stare, but I could still see the “Oh my gosh, did you SEE???” happening between the two of you. And manager’s wife? I think you were about to pick up the phone, you looked astounded to see a misbehaving child..though I will give it to you, the kick in the shins probably was a bit over the top. However, I still think you should get off the counter if you’re not working there, and plant it at a table rather than looking but pretending not to every time I glanced your way. My husband says I should ignore you all, but it’s easier said than done, because your stares don’t just mean you’re watching, but they mean you’re judging. Otherwise, you’d have totally not looked or you’d have asked if you could help me carry my food. Why does the help never come, though the stares and comments are fast and furious?? I’ll have to ponder that one.

Halfway to the car, in the lot, I got another kick in the shins so hard it about knocked me over. I’d already left his cup behind, and I almost lost mine. That was not going to happen. By then, I really really wanted and needed my special mix of Lite Lemonade and Diet Coke. If anyone ever deserved their drink of choice, it was me, right then. I listened to him rage at me all the way home, and when I got inside, after putting down the little bit of food that was left, I took his laptop and all its accessories and hid them away. Far, far away.

I’d like to say that was the end of it, but I’d be lying. It’s still going on, and it’s been over 24 hours. He finally fell asleep last night around 8:45, and why oh why do they look so cute when they’re sleeping? He woke up foul, and while there have been glimmers of my sweetie here and there, the anger still lurks oh so closely beneath the surface. Walking on eggshells was coined by the mom of an autistic kid, I’m sure of it. (Okay, not sure, please don’t google the phrase and prove me wrong, I couldn’t take it.)

Oh, I almost forgot the best part, where he grabbed his turkey sandwich, hidden in the fridge until the next day since he didn’t get the yummy food after that behavior. (I was about to make him something healthy but boring instead.) He decided to run off with it, me trying to get him to agree to hand it back to me, when both hands came up, like slow motion…smash, twist, pull..THROW. Turkey sandwich all.over.my.kitchen. Turkey on the walls. Turkey on the floor. Turkey on my Cuisinart and in my Kitchenaid. Turkey on all six of my kitchen table chairs. Turkey on the sliding glass door. Turkey on the floor in the hallway 10′ away. And people 15 minutes away from coming to see my house. Get away, puppies, no eating the turkey. Grab the broom, sweep what is dry enough and wet-rag wipe up the rest. Windex the slider and appliances, wipe down the chairs..doorbell rings. That was close.

So, that was my last visit to Dickey’s. Love the food, though last night’s po’ boy was the driest food I’ve ever paid for. Not sure if they made it the second they hung up the phone from me placing the order, but the entire thing was colder than it should have been for a 10-minute interim. Anyway, off the food, lady, off the food…I won’t go back because I’m sure that they printed our photos off of surveillance footage and posted them to the wall. “Wanted: lady with bruised shins and an extra $5. Do now allow inside.” I was on the new Target’s wall a few years ago, I just know it…but I’ll save that similar story for another day.

Meltdowns suck. Autism sucks. Kicks in the shin suck.

My husband’s in another phase of traveling for his job. I don’t mind — he’s got a good job and he does it well, and I have to admit I like sitting up in bed with the light on late, not having to make a real dinner, and pretty much just doing things however. But I do miss him, and so does BB. (For any new readers, BB is Barnacle Boy, a nickname from when little guy was so firmly attached to me due to our attachment parenting style, we called him the barnacle.) When he hears the door, I get “Daddy?” “No, Honey, remember? Daddy’s traveling. He’ll come home on Friday.”  “Oh.”

So we go about our regular business of computer games, snack, homework, more computer games, and dinner. Shower, flossing, teeth brushing and some TV. Nail trimming. Hair brushing. And what would regular be without some upset? Tonight’s came from me ridiculously (not) saying no to him playing some violent video game. (It turned out though that we don’t even own the game and you can’t play it on the computer, so that would have made it easier HAD I KNOWN THAT.)  The homework was shoved on the floor, pencil went flying, and the sobbing ensued. Crash. Bang. Boom. The sounds continued as he stumped up the stairs and into his room. I was able to fix it, as much as you can at that point, by promising to look at the game next time at the store, so I can see for myself if it is violent or not, instead of basing my decision on what a few people have told me. Sniff.

Now he’s snuggling into his bed. He insisted on sleeping in my room, in a little bed he made on the floor. And you know what THAT means. It means the dogs are sleeping in here, too. I wonder if I’ll make it through the night without waking up to the Yorkie on my pillow.

Not sure if it was a smart idea or not to agree, but his routine’s already out of whack, and for years, he’s slept in here when Dad’s traveling. Not sure which decision would be worse…..

And when we bought him the monthly package on Roblox, he promised us he wouldn’t throw fits over certain things. Ha. Gotta work on that one.

You hear that around my house a lot lately. Our house is still on the market (I know, I say ‘still’ like it’s been a long time, when in reality it’s only been a month) and we thankfully still have people coming to see it. This makes me and my husband happy. A happy homeseller is a happy home. But, for BB? Not so much. Hence, the “Stupid home showing people! I don’t want them coming!”

We’ve tried, over and over, to explain that no one will buy the house without seeing it, so we need people to come.

Still, this morning, again “Stupid home showing people!” grumble grumble grumble

Such is life when your house is on the market and your child with autism doesn’t like the interruption to his domain.

I think no matter what your relationship with your school is like, an IEP still makes you sigh. I’m not sure if it’s the thought that parents of ‘normal’ kids don’t have to do this; maybe it’s the worry that some surprise will pop up. Or, maybe it’s just the exhaustion of having to deal with so much.

To be clear, our school admin is amazing. We don’t have to fight for things, they ‘get’ our son, and he’s in good hands. But, it’s still an IEP, and dh couldn’t come this time due to an off-site work thing. (Otherwise known as some work-related golf tournament. Really.) But, I wasn’ t worried, I knew there’d be no surprises or anything bad, and I don’t sign IEPs in the meeting anyway. You always need time to go home, review with a clear head, chew on it some, and draft any changes you may want. Or, you realize that after a day or so, you’re still comfortable with it and haven’t thought of anything that’s not on there, and you sign it. I guess that’s my biggest advice, being an IEP veteran now — don’t sign it there, don’t let them rush you, and take your time to be sure it’s all-inclusive so you’re not calling for another IEP right away.

The service dog is working out perfectly. We continue to see positive changes with the little guy, and the dog has melded with our family like he’s always been here. It also means that when I do Pilates, he thinks there’s something wrong, as I’m laying on the floor, and he stands there, leaning onto me and checking me out, intensely worried. Makes for an interesting Pilates session. (Then there’s the Yorkie, who seems me as available to pet, snuggle and lick since I’m defenseless.) Gotta love dogs.

Sad to hear about all the brouhaha with the Wakefield paper — I don’t agree, but I can’t focus my life on autism 24/7. I still block quite a bit on Facebook, it’s just too much. I do better getting away with it and dealing with it more on my terms. My son is such a success story, and I need to remember that and put him first instead of dealing with making change. Selfish, eh, I suppose someone could say so but I can live with that.

Enjoy your weekend!

I don’t know about other kids with autism, but mine, when he gets scared, he gets really, really scared. Even when the situation is resolved, he’s still scared. He’s still scared days later when he thinks about it. If he’s not pushed, his fear can get to the point where he goes into complete denial of the situation that was fearful, and won’t ever go near it again. Sometimes it’s a big deal, sometimes not. Today? Big.

Since he got his service dog, we work daily on fine-tuning their relationship. The dog is amazing, and is the sweetest animal ever; he came to us trained, but we need the dog to realize BB’s in charge, and for BB to take charge and be in command. BB just has this lovey sweet high-pitched voice with the dog. It’s cute, but it doesn’t inspire anyone or anything to take him seriously. The dog is also 89 pounds of pure heart, but when he hasn’t taken a walk in a few hours, he’s 89 pounds of pure enthusiastic energy, making it hard for a 65 pound boy to walk. Tonight he had a bit of a scare, as he led the dog one direction, then changed his mind last-minute, and as a result, got a bit too close to the street for the comfort of a car that was going too fast through the neighborhood. All that added up to a freaked out little boy afraid to take his dog for a walk ever again.

In stepped big brother and his friend to complete the walk (as we walk the little terrier at the same time) and dh spent the next 20 minutes cuddled with a crying, sad BB on the couch, rebuilding his self-esteem and confidence. Attacked soon, the problem dissipatd, but BB has yet to take the dog back out. In another half-hour or so, we’ll try again. The dog loves BB, and there’s been so many positives to having him, so we need to remind BB of that. I’ll let you know tomorrow what happened.


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