Autism Watch: 2007

Posts Tagged ‘wii

I was going to say “holy crap,” but I didn’t think that was the most auspicious post title.  And, as we all know, I’m all about being “auspicious.” 😉

It’s been a while now. It’s been not necessarily the easiest “while,” but what the heck, we all have these times.

It’s not been the worst while either. Just busy. Confused yet?

As I’ve mentioned, we’re planning a cross-country move within the next couple of months. We’re planning on dragging everyone and everything (that I don’t throw away) to a small guest house in the Carolinas to live until we decide what to do next. Build our dream house on our land? (Which we already bought.) Buy a pre-existing home and save some time? It’s a lot to ponder. I literally wake up nightly, sometimes several times, wondering if we’re doing the right thing, while knowing that giving my kids time to know my husband’s side of the family, cousins their age, real space, and calmness is the right thing. Real peace. But real peace takes time.

We’re about to hang our realtor sign. BB (Barnacle Boy, for any new readers) is enjoying his Christmas vacation. He’s much less anxious not having to worry about how his daily social events at school will play out, and quite honestly, so am I. He’s loving the holidays — all the gifts, all the days where he can hang out in “softs” (lounge pants) until bedtime, and he doesn’t have to worry about social issues. And so am I! I took almost two weeks off to hang with the family. The older two are coming and going intermittently with their work/social schedules, but we had a fantastic Christmas day — friends stopped by, dinner was good, and Santa pleased everyone. (And our bank account is a-okay. Planning ahead really is key for stress relief.)

With the real estate sign comes a tremendous amount of packing. I don’t think it’ll affect BB too much. He survived the re-painting of his room without a hitch. He also survived me being gone for 9 days as I stayed in the South with the in-laws to help my sister-in-law recuperate from ankle surgery. (I feel guilty almost saying I helped; I did help, but I also enjoyed — the weather, the company, the bonding, and in the end, the relaxation. Dh was home with all four kids by himself. Welcome to my world!) I do wonder how he’ll do when I can’t pack Every. Little. Thing. in the RV, and then the guest house while we make plans on what to do next. Then again, I hope he’ll find a new interest in running around outside — and that he’ll make friends in school so he can hang out with them.

Tomorrow, we’re taking him to the restaurant our kids work at for dinner. He’s looking forward to clam chowder, and I’m looking forward to getting out of the house. We did some quick shopping yesterday (Tar-jay), but otherwise, I haven’t really been out of the house since Dec. 23. And it was a wonderful night, I must say. BB and the rest of us toured a neighborhood full of Christmas lights and music and noise and crowds, and he didn’t flip! In fact, he even posed for a picture…though he did pull the hat over his eyes. Can’t have everything, right?

He did lose laptop priveleges today. We have U-verse, and while we were promised no slowness because “you’ll have your own fiber-optic lines that you don’t share,” we really didn’t st0p to think that those lines all originate in the same place, which is shared by a ton of neighbors. If my neighbors were non-judgmental (aka nice) enough to talk to, I’d ask if they experience the same slowness we do at peak hours of the day, but I can surmise they are if we are. We aren’t big downloaders, so someone out there is a bandwidth hog. Anyway, he was bugged by the slowness and was yelling at his laptop enough to bug me. Laptop privs gone till tomorrow. But, he didn’t throw the laptop, so I’ll call it a success! 😉   Kidding, but it definitely could have been worse. Working on dealing with impatience, not yelling, and chewing with your mouth closed. Always something, eh?

Happy holidays to everyone! For the holidays, I gave myself a break from online visitations, but I miss it. I should be around more often, if anyone misses me. Happy New Year!

All year long, Christmas is on a kid’s mind. They talk about how many days there are left, what they want, and seeing Santa. We teach them the reason for the holiday (which, in my very outspoken opinion, is a Christian holiday and should be celebrated as such) and we hope they remember it when the time comes. Kids have such big plans for the holiday, but then, so do I. I build up the day so much, way in advance. I plan how we’ll perfectly decorate our house. I plan the food I’ll bake, and who will sit around and enjoy it with us, candles burning and making the house smell like Christmas, Christmas lights blinking and glowing. Carols playing. Ribboned boxes and bags under the tree — early — and visits planned throughout the holiday week. Then, I throw in the reality. Therapy appointments and cooldown periods for ds. Special shopping trips to be sure ds’s ‘want’ list is adequately covered. Wine for those nights we stay home and have to count to ten because ds is being obstinate.

What would I do different next year? I won’t have a party, at least not to the extent of what we did this year. Too much time invested. Instead, a smaller gathering for our friends rather than trying to open up our house to so many and meet new people. Time taken from my family. But, still, everything paid off. We had baked goods aplenty to give as gifts to neighbors and friends who were unable to attend, and I didn’t have to bake anything else. And the house was already decorated.

It was, and is, a wonderful holiday season. We baked and decorated gingerbread men, after assembling a pre-made Wilton gingerbread house. (Note: warn children frequently not to eat house decorations. Dentists aren’t open on Christmas Eve.) We played games. We watched Christmas movies. (Another note: buy your Christmas DVDs early in the season. Dh braving Wal-Mart crowds on Christmas Eve morning is a story in itself. Or set your Tivo two months in advance. Apparently, many movies show around Thanksgiving, who knew?)

Then there was the weather. Cold and rainy. And cold. (Imagine states other than California thinking 90 degrees is hot — that’s how it is when California temps drop below 40.) We had flurries two days before Christmas, and our mountains were covered in white, and still are. We visited the infamous Thoroughbred Lane in Alta Loma (viewable on this blog: The Smith’s Canvas in the USA Thanks to the Smith’s blog for doing such a great photog job! Hope you don’t mind I shared your link here!) and saw firsthand one big change in ds. Halfway through the walk, ds yells that he’s dropped his magic wand — one of those plastic batons full of liquid and glitter that he’d gotten as a prize from John’s Incredible Pizza at his birthday party earlier this month — and after walking back a few miles..okay, a thousand feet??…we couldn’t find it. He didn’t even cry! He did get quiet, then a few minutes later announced that he felt good knowing that some other kid out there who picked it up most definitely was having a lot of fun with it. Awwwww. Almost back to where we’d parked our car, we find a family selling…you guessed it…magic wands! $2 and a minute later, ds was playing with a light-up wand. Wow.

A post-script? We got home, pulled the stroller out of the trunk to stow back in the garage, and the original wand fell out of a hidden crevice. Two wands!

Christmas day was as perfect as could be. Ds was happy with his gifts, as were the girls. Older ds spent the whole day with us, and we all enjoyed playing with the new Wii games, our non-fancy-but-perfect ham dinner, and we all lived to tell about the Battle of the Nerf Guns. Ds got four of them for Christmas, and I am still finding bullets in odd places. Dd is still glued to her laptop. I think I’ve seen her for three meals in the last four days. Oh, and at church on Sunday.

Two days after Christmas, we got the bright (ha) idea to go play in the snow. Great idea actually, except everyone else within three hours driving distance decided to do the same thing. The bathroom line was 45 minutes at the last potty-stop before the snow, and that was just the beginning. Traffic was moving at a snail’s pace, so we finally found a place to pull off and play. Perfect location, snow up to our knees, where we made pathetic snowmen (cute but pathetic) and threw chunks at each others’ heads. We made the drive all the way home to Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf with nary a stop (laughing at those in line at the AM/PM) and had a calm evening. Snowplay is great, free occupational therapy.

Today, as we’re packing the RV for a New Year’s camping trip — four days of dry camping, with a generator and bottled water — we find that older ds’s iguana had passed. 😦  I don’t care how old your kids are, when a pet dies, your heart still cracks as they deal with the loss. In telling ds, he just stopped for a second…didn’t move, didn’t speak, just stared at me. He then said “awww, poor Bubu.” (That’s how he spells Bubba, his longtime nick for his brother.) “It makes me want to cry.” But, a minute later, he’d moved on. And here I was trying so hard to prevent him from seeing the iguana before/after. Do I underestimate him sometimes?

While out camping, I presume we’re going to run into a few roadblocks. Ds can’t ride an ATV on his own, nor will he want rides on anyone else’s for long. He can’t yet ride his new bike without training wheels, unusable in this terrain, and he can’t take the Wii or his computer. We’re using generator/battery power. I’ve packed a slew of games and outdoor activities, and a billion snacks. Oh, and his entire set of Gameboys, DSs, PSPs, etc. will be charged and ready to go. It’ll be pitch black at night, so I am thankful our RV has a full bath. He can watch movies while the adults are hanging around the firepit and the older kids are otherwise occupied. (He’ll be the youngest, with the oldest, other than my older two who aren’t staying beyond Thurs., being 14 years old.) We’ve got a plethora of flashlights, too, and a first aid kit and pharmacy shelf to rival a drugstore. (And the fact that we’re within 20-30 mins of a store, at most, helps…oh, and a hospital, too.)

Anyway, it’s been a good holiday season. (And this all relates to autism, my blog focus, I promise.) The plans I made came through, and there were no major letdowns. Enough planning with room for deviation from our schedule kept us mostly stress-free, so ds didn’t pick up on anything that would hinder him from relaxing. He’s far too wise for his age, and we have to be careful. He has spent hours on Club Penguin, thriving on the one-on-one attention he gets from two parents on vacation. We’ve taken a break from so many of our daily autism-related issues — no school problems, no homework, no therapy appointments, no stressed errands, no rushing around — yet autism is still here. We may be able to alter the environment enough to keep major issues at bay, but it’s temporary. Even at our best, we can’t prevent things from happening. We can’t let him run the house or dictate everyone’s plans or actions. He’s still got this unusual habit of cutting off his nose to spite his face; for example, I tell him to come back to the Sorry game and sit down so others could take their turns, and he refused to play anymore. Tonight, he climbed out of the jacuzzi early because I told him to not lean back so far or he’d knock my water bottle off the edge. I can buy him all the Under Armour in the world, to keep him warm while camping, but I can’t be sure he won’t get hurt feelings when another kid doesn’t want to play with him. We saw it happen while we were out on Sunday — he tries so hard to fit in with the other kids, and most of them just ignore his following right behind them. A few address him, a couple doing so well with including him. Most though? You hear “Stop.” I can’t blame the kids — I see the parents quite often doing the same thing, or they aren’t taught to be nice to other kids, just those who they want as friends. I can’t fix every issue he has to face, but I do hope to teach him to befriend the underdog and to play with the lonely kids. Don’t pick on someone whose different, and if someone’s having a bad moment, assume they’re having a bad day rather than assuming they’re a bad kid. Then there’s the phenomena of parents who try to discipline or correct ds, rather than looking at their own child or, worst case scenario, approaching us about what ‘might’ have happened. Christmas spirit doesn’t prevent the normal things from occurring, but it does make it harder to take. If we can’t be nicer at this time of year, when can we?

I’m off to listen to ds tell me about his latest Club Penguin mission. Online, he has a list of friends, so many he doesn’t have enough room on his list. That’s definitely worth $5.95 a month.

Merry Christmas to everyone, and have a wonderful New Year!

Sometimes, even for those of us with the best of intentions, life just gets away from us. We look at our “To Do” list and pat ourselves on the back that we got everything done. We feel relieved we got through something, some other fun but stressful event is over with, and start planning the next. (And obviously, a blog update hasn’t been on my list for a couple of weeks.) But then it hits you — while you’re stuck in the minutiae, life is passing you by. The little things…the fun unplanned moments…the smiles, the laughs, the roses you need to stop and smell, they’re all either going unnoticed or they’re getting the cursory, obligatory glance while you head onto the next item on your list. Before you know it, weeks are gone by, and you have a long account of things you’ve achieved, but what about life?

I dread moments of deep thought and realization like this. I’m not a ‘deep’ person. I don’t like drama, no matter how easily it seems to find a family with numerous kids, especially those with special needs. I am not one to pontificate on life and philosophize on what something really means. I believe in God, and that’s where I put my ‘deep’ faith. Beyond that, I can appreciate a good poem or symbolic piece of art, but I myself don’t create them, so when reality hits me in the face, I need to recognize it and give it the acknowledgement its due, slowing down on my list writing at least for a while.

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen improvements in ds. He has these moments of clarity that are getting more frequent, where he can calm his anger down somewhat on his own, even in small measures. We can talk to him, reason with him, if you will, before he gets to the point of hurting himself or someone else. He will still get mad, sometimes extremely mad, but we can see glimpses of what we think he’d be like if unaffected by autism.

When researching on treatment with medication, one thing that kept standing out was the likelihood that we’d see other signs that were always there but masked by his anger. I wasn’t sure what to think of that in the beginning, because autism symptoms/signs have always been there, but as time goes on, I think I’m understanding now. Routines, anxiety, irrational fears, and his particular specific need for sameness, control, and advance knowledge of what’s going to happen definitely stand out more than they did. Cut the pancakes this direction, but no syrup until after they’re all cut — and keep that fork out of the way until the syrup’s poured, too. Don’t let the kids in the room whisper when he’s there, they could be talking about him! His particular type of conversation, and the need to control it, starting over when interrupted…in a word, wow. Yet, it’s a good thing. We know now what we need to work on, and it’s no longer hidden by so much mad that we can’t see where to start. We can focus more on the things that are causing him problems, particularly in school, and address them with less tantrums to interfere.

This week, he’s off school for spring break. The Easter bunny brought him candy, and he’s been eating it. A lot. We also had three other gatherings over the holiday weekend that have contributed to him having a lot of dietary infractions, and he’s literally bouncing off walls. We’re focusing now on getting that back under control, and we know when he’s in control, he’s happier. Yesterday, when he’d need redirection towards better behavior, he’d literally repeat back to us, dh in particular “the same things you always say to me when I have an attitude, so I already know what you’re going to say, so don’t say it again,” all the while making the “wah wah wah” signs with his hands. There was more than one moment where we needed to turn away or completely get out of the room so he wouldn’t see us smile. Sure, he’s being sarcastic and he’s making light of discipline, but he’s being sarcastic! He’s getting sarcasm! He’s showing us he hears us, even when he’s mad. How much can I really complain about that?

The Easter bunny also brought the kids Guitar Hero for the Wii, hence the name of this blog entry. Ds wasn’t as excited as we thought, possibly distracted by the Captain Underpants book he’s been coveting, or the two new Pokemon characters he’d found in his basket. (And the Pokemon shirt? Initial scream of excitement, then it was tossed aside….) Turns out the Guitar Hero intimidates him. He didn’t think he could do it. We persevered, he persevered, and he can now get further through a song before he’s boo’d off the stage. That’s a big deal for him, to continue to try through the frustration…though I think he’s fascinated by the whammy bar and plays only so he can use it. Either way, he’s my little guitar hero. A year ago, that guitar would have been thrown across the room, no matter how heavy. Now, he tries and tries, and when he can’t do it anymore, politely tells us “no, thanks, I want to go do something else.” Major strides, and small blessings. These are the things I need to slow down and enjoy instead of grabbing my pen and adding one more thing to the To Do list. 

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