Autism Watch: 2007

Posts Tagged ‘tantrum

My son’s birthday party is this coming weekend. We invited 25+ kids. Do you think we’ve gotten any RSVPs yet? That would be a no. But, moving on…

The rules are give to everyone in class, or no one. We followed the rules, assuming if BB didn’t get along with someone, the child wouldn’t come, right? However, I guess not. The school sets you up in this no-win situation and then doesn’t have your back when it backfires.

BB has a boy he doesn’t want to come to the party. The boy insists on coming. BB tells him that he doesn’t want him to come. Boy threatens to hurt BB. Both are hauled to the office. Boy is told that threat is wrong, and BB is told that what he said is mean and wrong. I get phonecall where I’m told repeatedly that BB is a full-participant in this issue and is responsible. AKA other boy is off the hook and BB gets treated like this mean kid. In fact, I was told that the “poor boy had his feelings hurt.” What about my boy’s feelings?

Hello, autism, anyone? I did hear during the call that he doesn’t seem to be able to understand and/or communicate his feelings well. Newsflash, that’s autism! Of course, when you don’t agree with the authority figure that yes, BB is wrong, yes, that was mean, oh that poor other boy, you’re seen as less than cooperative. But it’s also wrong to stand there and agree the whole time when your child was being honest, something we always tell him to do. Use your words, Honey. Tell the truth. He does that and is in trouble.

The school needs to fill the gap. Don’t discipline him without trying to help him. I tried to explain that he’s doing what we taught him, and if they keep up that policy, what is he to do? He has to have children over that he doesn’t want?

Next party, we’re going to politely screw off the policy. He’ll hand out invitations as discreetly as he’s able to those he truly wants to come. If they say something, I’ll remind them of this fiasco.

On a good note, after BB flipped out during the “consequence” phase of the issue yesterday, saying “There’s no party now!” he is fine today. Apparently no further issues. Phew.

We did cover with him that while honesty is best, sometimes it’s also better to keep those feelings to yourself if it doesn’t do any good. But honestly, we didn’t think it was worthy of the big deal. He’s not in trouble with us. He answered honestly, and is just a kid excited about his party. Rewarding a taunting child and disciplining the one who tried to handle it honestly is bad form. I’m proud he used his words and expressed his feelings and we don’t want him sent mixed messages.

And maybe I should start calling the school every time someone says something mean to him. It appears to happen a lot but I don’t call and ask them to call the parents. Why are we fair game?

From school issues, that is, to be specific.

We love the school system here — some odd rules (like their interpretation of the NCLB act, which causes some serious attendance issues) but the educations the kids are getting are above what they were getting in California. People don’t sweat the small stuff, and the classes are small enough, as is the total school population, to allow for personalized help and admin that gets to know each kid.

But…and you knew a but was coming…I don’t know of a child with autism who doesn’t face some type of school issue, so I guess our bliss had to end sometime. And last week, it did.

It began with BB sharing stories on his daily ride home about small occurrences at school that weren’t handled like he thought they should be. We tried to talk him through them all, and give him tips on handling them, including not making a big deal out of everything. Then came the big day. Awards day.

Let me preface a bit: I hate awards day. Awards in theory are nice, but I can’t think of a ceremony that actually went by without an issue in all BB’s years of school. See, every school BB’s ever gone to has a Student of the Month or some other award that is basically a popularity contest where the class votes, or the teacher chooses. Even in a small class, there aren’t enough months in the school year to ensure all children get it, so you have children left out every year. And then you have some, like my little autistic sweetheart, who has never once gotten it so years go by without him getting it. Nor does he get the ‘good citizen’ type of award. By virtue of his disability alone, he’s already off the list for consideration. You can’t get that award if you suffer space issues at your desk or talk too loud because you, well, just talk too loud, or because the noise gets to your ears so you have to cover them from time to time. He picks up on it, he knows it, he’s tracking it and now he’s truly bothered by it, so I dread when they go to hand out those awards and his face falls. Again.

This year, first awards ceremony of the year, and of course he doesn’t get perfect attendance. He doesn’t get the great kid or good citizen. Sigh. Then honor roll comes around, an award he’s gotten every single opportunity, and he’s very proud of it. I get my camera ready (after all, by this point, I was sitting there for an hour solely to see him get this) and his name wasn’t called. They end the ceremony, and I have a child quickly melting down. His fists are balled up, and he’s rubbing one eye so hard it’s red all over that side of his face. He’s shaking. He’s pissed. No other way to put it. And I was quickly following, but because I’m not autistic, I was able to control my upset and focus on calming him. I leave a very unhappy child and get to the car before I lose it when on the phone with the husband, who is equally pissed. Great, three pissed people and no resolution, so I march back in. Have a talk with the principal. Cry a little, get embarrassed but realize that at least he sees how very important this is to us. Leave with the knowledge he’s on top of the situation, he’s working with the nurse (where my son’s now lying down with a headache) and I head home to wait for the phonecall he promises…and it comes not too long after. It was relieving, but what we did learn is that his grade had dropped in one topic and no one told us. Wow, gotta love that great communication that should have taken place. Another situation where they really don’t get how important this is to him, and how extremely proud he is of this longstanding award.

He comes home later, with another upsetting but too long to write about story that happened. The husband stepped in this time, and as of this morning, I think we’ve gotten that resolved, but it’s going to take a lot of close watching by us to be sure that he really isn’t pulled away in a corner at a lone desk or disbelieved again, allowing someone to bully him only because the other person doesn’t have autism so she wouldn’t lie. Sigh. Again. I was ready to just homeschool that afternoon, but I know that for now, it’s still not a good idea.

Just another day, right? We’re off-track now for a few weeks, and he’s really enjoying the relaxing and sleeping in. Problem is, he won’t sleep until way late at night, and he’s up on/off throughout the night. He actually even asked to nap yesterday, after we took a field trip to celebrate my birthday, but he opted not to do it in the end. I need to get that straightened out or he’s going to have a tough time after he gets back to school!

BB’s loud. I’ve probably said this before, but he’s frequently loud. He’s loud when he’s happy and loud when he’s sad. But when he’s mad, he’s LOUD.

He yells. He yells when we knock on his door, when we ask him to take his eardrops for his ear infection, when I tell him to pick out his clothes for school, and when it’s time to come to dinner.
We’re working on it, but it’s so annoying. He escalates into a fit, and if we push it too far, he cycles into a sobbing mess. Then it’s ugly. Then everything we say goes by the wayside, he doesn’t hear us. He can’t hear us.

What do you do about yellers? How do you get them to realize it’s not socially acceptable to yell at people who don’t do what you want? And what about when it’s mainly your parents you yell at?

Then again, I should be glad he’s not yelling at anyone else, right? At least he has manners in public. (The nurse called me yesterday. His snap on his new jeans..thanks, Sean White and Target, they lasted us one wear..had broken and he wanted a “freaking belt.” Luckily, I had warned her that his language gets rude when he’s mad. She wasn’t offended. She is a sweetie, and I’m glad that our new school appreciates him for him instead of seeing “here comes the pest.” Thank you, thank you, and thank you.) But I am tired of being yelled at.
In fact, right now? I’m just tired.

My son likes music. His music, the style he likes at the pace he likes and at the volume he likes. He’ll beat the drums when he’s up for it, and he likes the guitar. But music class? Not so much.

He’s got a beautiful voice. I sing, my sister sings, and both my daughters sing; we aren’t athletes, but we can belt a song and stay perfectly on pitch, so it’s not a surprise that he’s got this gift. I want to encourage it, but without overwhelming. After all, he’s got music class at school to do that for him.

I’m big on music being offered to all children. Music and art help the brain process other information more properly, and it’s also a stress-reliever. I want BB to take music class and come away feeling he’s learned something, and to look forward to it next week. So far though? Not so much.

Apparently the music teacher is not aware of his IEP, or “his issues,” for lack of a better word. That’s a problem we’ve run into frequently at schools throughout the years — people not being kept in the loop. They treat him like anyone else because they don’t know, and if they aren’t a patient person, he tests what patience they do have and it’s even worse.

BB wasn’t happy with music last year. He’d tell me then that he didn’t think she liked him and she was meaner than anyone else, which puzzled him. She’s still there this year, and I haven’t met her, but I also haven’t met a mean soul at this school, so it surprises me. However, his story doesn’t change, week after week, so I don’t think he’s embellishing. The drums in the class hurt his ears, and in his words, she “snapped.” BB had a headache and an earache when he came home, said his “tubes popped out” (impossible since they fell out in ’04) and he went at his sister (though she may have deserved it) like I’ve not seen him swing at anyone in a few weeks, so I know he’s on edge, and it’s likely the music class that generated it. Sigh.

I’m not sure what all transpired, but the Dh called and spoke with administration. All is good, I’ve been told, but I am looking forward to hearing the whole story. I want BB to look forward to music, and not dread the one day a week where he has it — which will ruin the whole day and take away from anything he tries.

What’s your thoughts on autism and music? Any special accommodations you’ve found that work or don’t work? Tips?

I’m back on the horse…I think.

BB goes back to school on Monday. We’ve been in the house almost two months now, and we’re done unpacking. Renovation projects aren’t a daily thing (though we’re still working on a few smaller things, all cosmetic) and errands take half as long now that I don’t have to pull out my GPS every time I want to go somewhere. The garden’s still producing but not to the point where I’m canning or chopping endlessly. I’m back to my studies and workout routines, and I have hopes of school helping BB stay in more of a routine. Hopes.

As a result, I hope to be back to blogging more normally. If you ever plan a cross-country move, where your husband quits his job and has to find a new one, and you have to get your kids and pets and belongings from one coast to another, plan on things taking longer than you thought they would to calm down. A lot longer. Looking back, it’s only been a little less than four months but on the other hand, wow, it feels like a whole new world.

Today I have no titillating stories to share, no sarcasm and no areas where I can speak out against something…imagine that! 😉  I do want to share though that I took BB out to lunch yesterday with a friend and children, and he did AMAZING. The most polite little man, the sweetest, and social though it was a little loud at times and his eye contact wasn’t so hot. But I was SO impressed, so proud and so encouraged.

Other than that, on with some recent autism news:

The Utah News reports: Quality of Life for Autistic Adults Subject of New Study. This is a longterm study of 400 children and not entirely inclusive or surprising, but interesting nonetheless.

Age of Autism: New Study Shows Vaccines Cause Changes Found in Autism. I’m sure the only news play this will get is people ripping it apart. reports: Autistic Teen Jailed for Officer Assault. This one just proves that the authorities need more training so that they remain safe while also working more appropriately with disabled people. (Though the question of how they know an adult is disabled in an ‘invisible’ way is always going to be difficult.)’s got another interesting one: Advocates Urge Congress to Address Growing Needs of Adults with Autism. So true.

There are so many good blogs out there about autism, I would be hard-pressed to choose some to highlight, but I think once a week, I’m going to try to do that. (Now I just have to remember in the rush of the first week of school that I said that!)

Have a good weekend….

Throughout the years, I’ve run into a few people who equate autism with a child being “slow.” It’s one of the most irritating myths about autism, right up there with “but he doesn’t look like Rainman…

Like so many others with autism, my son could teach people a thing or two. He’s got a sharper wit than most adults I know, and even when he’s testing my patience, he still makes us laugh.

Take this morning, for example. He didn’t want to brush his teeth, so I had to remind him to get moving so he wasn’t late for school.

“Super Mario has been looking for a place to shoot fireballs. I think I’ll message him.” Then he looked at me.

A few minutes later? “I need a tissue. STAT.”

And his parting shot, as he heads out the door with me trying to tie his shoes for him. “Mom, I GOT this. I’m the leader. Kids are generals. Moms are medics.”

Alrighty then. Life may not be the easiest for him, but he’s going to get along just fine. Just don’t expect him to do it quietly.

…days ago, and I didn’t do it. I didn’t lie, I promise. I just forgot.

Long story short, it’s going well. The foundation of everything, according to the school (and without any prompting from us at all), is social skills. Let me hear an AMEN.

He’s got a one-on-one still, a social skills aide, and several other social skills programs going on. His teacher is awesome, and she fills me in on how he does eating lunch even. We are thrilled.

As for BB, he likes his class, enjoys his teacher and finds the homework within reasonable amounts. He has a “girlfriend” with sparkly eyes, and he makes it through each day without a problem. He is happy.

So we’re happy.

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