Autism Watch: 2007

Posts Tagged ‘homeschool

Back when BB was newly diagnosed, our social lives took a major hit. At the time, we didn’t care — we were too worried, too overwhelmed, overextended and exhausted. It got better as years went by, with us having a smaller, more focused group of friends and a new idea of what was ‘fun.’ Our priorities shifted and we adapted to the new way of life.

Now that BB is older, we can leave him with an older sibling sometimes. We don’t do it often, but it’s nice to know that there’s the option if something’s a big enough of an occasion, so we’ve got the ‘time out as a couple’ problem covered.

The other problem though, perhaps the bigger issue, is getting the day-to-day, run of the mill, routine errands and outings covered.

Today, BB had a homeschool event. Since we live in a small town, we take advantage of being ‘out in the big city’ to get things done. I had a list in my purse of things I needed to do: another shot at the podiatrist office, Petsmart shopping, a certain candy mold at Michael’s, prescriptions at the drugstore, book dropoff and pick-up at the library, and the gas station. I dreaded the list, so I could totally get that BB would, too, but what choice is there?

As we drove home, halfway through the list (as a few things were here in town), I was thankful I’d been able to accomplish as much as I had on top of the science class, but worrying if I’d be able to finish the rest. They were non-negotiable: books were due, car needed gas, and the prescriptions had been sitting at the pharmacy for days. Each one should have been just a few minutes, but a few minutes here, a few there, and before you know it, you have a kid so anxious and overwrought, you wished you’d scrapped the very idea of taking him along.

Luckily…or maybe because I reminded him that I didn’t push him to stop and have lunch with me so he needed to do this for me and so I wouldn’t have to go back out later…he did fine. Now, fine is relative. It’s “fine” if you think him leaving my car window down and locking it (?) while I was waiting for the pharmacy to fix one of the prescriptions to find me in the store is “fine.” It’s “fine” if you think him yelling at me to hurry while putting gas in the beast is “fine,” and it’s “fine” if I don’t mind him telling me “You know, you could have just dropped your books in the slot and not gone inside.” (Yes, that would have partially worked, but what about the book I had on order? Another autism book, though he didn’t know that part.)

Let’s just say it was successful in that I got my errands done and he didn’t have a meltdown. It was neither fun nor relaxing, and by the time I walked in the door…dogs jumping at me and mail falling out of my hands…I was beat. I piled the purchases, the bags, the purse, the receipts all over the counter as I calmed the Yorkie. Got BB settled in his room. Grabbed a beer…no, not really, but I may have wanted to. Maybe. All the while, I’m feeling slightly resentful that I didn’t get to pick up a decent lunch and that I again had to head home, hermit-style, because BB wouldn’t acquiesce to head into the deli for a sandwich.

I contemplated the resentment as I was balancing the checkbook from the day’s expenses. Maybe not the best time to have a serious thought discussion going on, but I realized that though I’d saved $20 and not endured a miserable lunch out in public, worrying that he wasn’t behaving, I was still having to craft the time around him a lot. Some things are vastly better, and this area is, too, but there’s still a ways to go.

Add ‘Handles social outings with ease’ to my list. Or at least with a semblance of tolerance? How do you do it? How do you meld your acknowledgement that pushing your child too far isn’t fair to him with your need to get out of the house?

 

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Yesterday was BB’s six month dental exam and cleaning. I’m not sure who dreads them more — him or me? Hmmm, me. Yes, definitely me. I have to drive him down there, almost 1.5 hours in one direction, then all the way home in awful tourist and end of the work day traffic.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know dentist appointments and BB haven’t always gotten along. So what changed? Finding a new dentist. It may be work, it may take a long time, you may have to pay a little out-of-pocket by going out-of-network on your insurance plan, or you may have to drive a long time, but it’s worth it.

BB used to be afraid of the dentist. Hated it. Now? “When are we leaving, Mom?”

However, it’s still not always good. For some reason, he gets anxious about it and he’s kind of a boogar by the time we get there. You know, the kind of boogar where the other parents in the waiting room look up from their magazines and try to surreptitiously check out what the mouthy kid looks like or if the mom looks abashed. (If you looked, yes, I was abashed. Very much so.) The mouthy kid looked cute, comfy with his bandanna around his neck (should he need to become incognito, you know) and bored, playing with the stress ball in his hand.

It continues in the dentist’s chair. I answer questions about his dental history and habits while he’s being worked on, and he starts to squirm. More and more, in irritation at my responses. Finally, when he gets a clear chance to talk, “Mom, you don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re not in my mouth. Let me tell her.”

Sigh.

My sweet boy disappeared halfway through the drive to the dentist and only started to re-appear about two hours ago. It only got worse from there, though he did cooperate for the rest of the exam, the cleaning (minus the fluoride, thank you very much) and the x-rays. By the time we were 30 minutes from home, he wanted a new family, he didn’t like me and I was NOT his mom anymore.

Who knew?

It was a long night, made worse by the fact that I’d postponed an appointment to the podiatrist for my plantar fasciitis and my foot was killing me. The husband made dinner, and I sat with ice on my foot. Exhausted. Totally drained from his behavior and the rush-rush-rush of the entire day.

Today, he didn’t get better until I finally sat him down and told him he could not yell at me anymore. I sat there, with him unhappy at my presence, explaining why I wasn’t going to allow him to yell at me, or anyone else, anymore. And as for the constant complaining? Three per day. Period. No more. You complain a fourth time and the computer gets taken away. Same consequence if I have to remind you more than once not to yell at me.

I realize it’s an issue of control. He wants his room to look a certain way so when I move the water bottles or turn the nightlight off, I’m changing the way he wants it. When I tell him it’s school at 10am today instead of 10:30am, he doesn’t have control and it’s a change. I get it, really, but that doesn’t make it okay. It’s not an excuse to yell and be mean. So we talked about it, and beginning next week, after we’ve had a couple of uninterrupted days to reinforce the new rules, we’re starting a behavior program that I hope will address his anger and control issues.

I have hope. I just know it won’t be easy. He’s smart and he recognizes that he’s being mean…it’s just after the fact. Tonight, he stuck a note on the door saying he was sorry. Cute, but not enough. It did, however, open the door for him acknowledging that he needs to find some better ways to cope. He actually googled it, he said. I believe it, google is a big tool for him, and he uses it as a springboard for further research and study. If he’s interested, get out of the way, he will do it thoroughly.

Tomorrow we have a homeschool event…same place that “The Issue” happened a few weeks ago. I told him we’d ignore her and it wouldn’t change anything. He won’t let me sit next to him in the class, so maybe he’ll sit in back with me. Not sure. I want him to learn from it, but not be afraid or let her intimidate him. He doesn’t need to stop asking questions, he just needs to be mindful of how he does it. If he does it wrong, I will address it, as always. We’ll see how it goes. If nothing else, I’m super-proud of him that he’s not letting her possible attendance influence him going again. Way to go, BB.

 

Okay, not really…autism doesn’t really go on vacation, does it?

In reality, I was simply busy and tired of writing about my daily life and finding something that would be of interest to anyone else, emphasis on that last part. I had no witty stories, no clever anecdotes or no epic tales to tell. And very little time.

Not only did the Yorkie require major surgery the week of Thanksgiving, but then my son’s service dog tore his ACL the week before Christmas. Ka-ching. It’s such a turn of events when the service dog requires us to service him, but it was an honor. He’s such a devoted loving animal, it hurt to see the pain in his eyes and the frustration on his face when he couldn’t get up and around. We don’t kennel him, so restraining an 85 pound animal was no easy feat. Thankfully, the Yorkie survived and is doing wonderful; we’re still working on dissolving the stones in the remaining kidney and hoping to avoid one more surgery to take them out, but she’s happy, healthy and a hairy ball of energy who will kiss you to death. I think she knows what she went through and is thankful to be through it all. Big guy is up and around, limping some but trying to be normal; we still have to stop him from his infamous “Charlie Spin,” but soon he’ll be completely back to normal and have a cool scar to share stories about with his doggy friends.

The holidays were good. Too quiet for me, we’re used to hustle and bustle, and having no friends or interested family in this small town made for a different kind of Christmas, but it’s temporary. It’s only a matter of time before we move back to the big city. Now we just have to find realtor #3, someone reliable who really depends on sales for some income. Who knew that would be so hard to find?

BB is having an off day. Didn’t want to sleep in his room last night, he was sad so she slept in ours. I think the last couple of weeks caught up to him. Spending the night at a friend’s house (a little boy remarkably like him, with wonderful parents), going to the movies, long trips to the vet 2.5 hours away, shopping, bright lights, loud noises, weather change, having friends here, it was all a lot and still, I took him to see We Bought a Zoo last night. Boom, it crashed down … and it didn’t help that I let him drink Dr. Pepper and eat Nerds. Don’t judge me, he’s a kid, I threw caution to the wind and let him be ‘normal’ and while later it caught up to him, he had a fun visit to the movies with me and even volunteered to go shoe shopping after! (What’s a trip to the mall without a visit to shoe stores?? Mamas, give me a ‘heck yeah!’) During quiet parts of the movie, I could him hear tic’ing, this odd breathing noise he makes that qualified him as Tourette’s, though we don’t use the term. (Nor do we use the term ‘autism’ around him, but more on his conversation with me in another entry.)

I hope you all had good holidays and are enjoying a relatively calm and relaxing new year. Onwards and upwards!

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.


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