Monday, April 14, 2014

Wandering....Take Two

Earlier this month I shared his very first wandering event when he was 3.  Took my breath away but he was brought back to us safe and sound.  The following story happened when he was 4 and this was the last time he tried to take off. 

Spring cleaning time at my house.  I couldn't wait to open up the windows and air out the place but the windows were horrid so that was my first job of the day.  Little did I know the day would end with a locksmith at my house and hundreds of dollars spent on security; our security knowing he wouldn't get out. 

I was in our side room and my son was playing.  His kind of playing at age 4 was mostly banging, throwing and verbal stimming.  Hyper vigilant.  That was me.  I always made sure I heard him and could always see him.  I took my Windex and paper towels and went into the side room to clean some windows.  As I was about half way through I realized I didn't hear banging or stimming so I called out.  He didn't answer so I walked into the living room only to see a side door to the alleyway wide opened.  My heart sank.  Not again!  It had been less than a year ago when he slipped out the front door and took off down that very same alley.  I ran outside and ran to the front of the house only to see a glimpse of his bare feet running as fast as he could to the local college.  He was fast approaching a busy road.  I never ran so fast.  Caught up to him, picked him up and carried him back into the house, locked the doors and told him not to ever do that again.  He started to play in the living room again so I went back into the side room to finish up my windows. 

Wouldn't you know it, that little stinker did the same exact thing.  This time I was listening out for the door but didn't hear it.  I picked up my Windex bottle and saw him outside running past the window I was about to clean.  Same thing happened and I brought him back into the house.  At this point my heart was racing because he learned how to unlock and get out that particular door.  Seriously, how was I going to ever keep this kid inside this house! 

I called my husband at work and we decided to immediately call a locksmith to get some key locking deadbolts.  The locksmith was at the house within the next 2 hours.  All that time, I didn't even use the bathroom because I had a feeling this kid was going to take off again.  Its like tunnel vision and that was all he wanted to do now.

When the locksmith came, I told him of our dilemma but he refused to put key lock deadbolts on all the doors for safety reasons.  After I calmed down I realized he had a valid point.  Safety.  What if there were a fire.  OK, then what?  He thought about it and came up with this lock.  He called it the hotel lock.  They were installed on all the first floor doors.  *For some reason, that particular house had 4 first floor doors.*  Considering he was only 4 he couldn't reach them so we had them installed and it kept him safe, this was until he figured out if he took a hanger or long toy he could swing it open but that wasn't until a few years later. 

So in my experience, even though you are with them, they can still take off right under your nose.  Do what you can to keep them safe before something happens.  Door chimes and locks will help at least deter them for a while.  What do you use for your doors?

This worked for years until he figured out how to swing
it opened with a hanger or long toy. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

It Started Off Good

This past weekend was like any other weekend, busy.  We usually keep busy because my son loves to be on the go, go, go.  There was a Special Needs Expo and the kids really wanted to well, go!  They do love them.  It is sorta like Trick or Treat.  Mom gets to visit with vendors, maybe learn something new and they come home with bags of pens, paper, candy and toys.  And that is where it gets ugly.

Toys.  This is a vendor fair so the 'toys' are maybe 5 cents each but are treasured keepsakes to my son.  The tables where you get to spin for a prize is highly preferred.  We runs to this table and spins for a prize.  It lands on clapper.  You know what these are right?  I believe they fall into the musical instruments category but are mind numbing to others because of the loud clapping.  My son loves them but the only color they had out was pink.  He hesitated and the woman told him she will look in the bag for other colors.  She whips out silver, blue and gold.  GOLD!!!  He wanted the gold one.  He found his prize possession of the day.  He slips it into his bag as to protect it and not let anyone near it.  We go home.

At home the kids empty out their bags on the dining room table to ooh and aah and to of course, devour any candy they have collected.  He then starts clapping his clapper then the unthinkable snaps.  "Oh no" he says.  "Oh boy" I say. 

"Fix it Mommy.  Fix it."  Let me see it.
"Fix it!!"  His anxiety is starting and elevating rapidly.
I don't think I can honey.  It snapped.
"Fix it!!  We need the toy Doctor....NOW!"

Then it happened, he went into full meltdown mode.  Two hours of crying, sobbing, yelling, and slamming.  All over a less than 5 cent gold toy.  The day ruined.  All over this freakin' toy. 

When he goes into meltdown mode, we make sure he is safe but then stay away.  He has the tools to calm himself down and will use them.  He got quiet, came downstairs and started with me again about taking it to the toy doctor.  I told him it was broke and saw the anxiety starting all over again.  I don't like to every lie to him but since it was Saturday, I told him that I would take the toy to the doctor on Monday while he was at school.  This bought me some time so when he gets the news that the toy can't be fixed, hopefully he won't be so quickly to rise. 

His prized possession, the gold clapper.

Sunday morning he came downstairs, found me and told me he was sorry.  I asked for what and he said he was sorry for crying and yelling.  I told him it was alright and that I understood.  Then he gave me a hug.  He has come so far managing his meltdowns.  It made me so proud of him. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Simple Day, Throwback in Time

Two summers ago we made the difficult decision to move into a different school district for my son's sake.  This particular day, he was having an extremely hard time in the new house so I stopped unpacking and said, "Let's get out of here."  We didn't go far and ended up at the Fish Hatchery...just the two of us.  I took some pictures of him feeding the fish and before we were ready to leave, he asked for my phone.  Then he told me to 'stand in the fish'.  Notice the little fingers while he took my picture.  We both needed the break and extra bonding time.  While I don't like to see pictures of myself, this is one of my favorites because he took it. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Quilt Like No Other

Every once in a while something out of the blue happens and it is very heartwarming and just WOW!!  Saying thank you doesn't seem to be enough so I'll write about it and show everyone what was given to my son. 

I received a phone call that a friend of the family had made a quilt for my son.  I could keep it or donate it for auction; it was my call.  We went to pick it up and it was in a black garbage bag, neatly folded.  My son opened up the bag and said, "WOW!!"  I didn't get to see it.  He quickly covered it back up and carried it out to the car.  When we arrived home, he grabbed the bag and ran upstairs.  I heard, "How cool!"  He yelled down for me to come up to his room.

When I got up there he was so excited!  And so was I.  This quilt is awesome!!  Here are some pictures of it. 

First Side

Second Side
 It remains on his bed and by no means will we be auctioning it off.  It's a keeper!  Thank you so much Patty and Lois for this quilt.  My son loves it. 

Awesome Tag!!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Day That Stopped

It was seven years ago when our world stopped for what seemed to be an eternity.  Our 3 year old, non-verbal son got out of the house, ran down an alleyway, crossed 2 busy streets and was eventually found by 3 young men.  How did this happen?  We let our guard down for 30 seconds. 

We knew something was different about our son but we were in denial.  It wasn't until the summer of 2007 when we contacted the County and started receiving help.  His official autism diagnosis came in May of 2008 but back to the story.

It was a day to celebrate.  The family was getting together to observe my in-law's 40 years of marriage...40 years!  Unheard of nowadays.  We had my brother in law's family coming from out of state and couldn't wait to see them.  My son was always here and there so we were hyper vigilant with him.  We were always stopping to see where he was at all times throughout the day and night.  Our company came to the front door and everyone, but my son, came to greet them.  We all moved into the living room, gave out hugs and kisses and then called for my son.  He didn't answer, he usually didn't, but you could at least hear him banging toys or verbal stimming but we didn't. I checked the basement, hubby checked the upstairs.  Not around.  I checked the fenced in backyard, bathrooms.... nothing.  My heart sank.  With all the welcoming, we didn't close the front door.  We left the front door unlocked!

He hardly ever looked at the camera.
Everything froze.  Hubby started to panic and ran out the front door, heading towards the college.  My brother in law left the house but I didn't see which way he went.  I told my sister in law to stay inside with the kids and I walked out the front door.  *I can't explain it but in emergency situations, I get very calm.*  I did a quick scan and heard laughing next door.  Our neighbors were having an outdoor party so I knocked on their fence and got their attention.  Looking at my neighbor, all I could say was "he is gone".  With that, my neighbor quickly gathered all the adults and they started pouring out of their backyard to join in the search.  At that very moment, far down the alleyway, I saw 3 young teenagers and one was carrying my son.  My brother in law appeared out of no where and reached them first, taking him into his arms.  Starting to let my guard down, I immediately teared up and held my son.  A long hug and tears was all I could do.  My son didn't like to be hugged or held for long so as he started struggling the teens told us what they saw. 
My son was running, full blast down the alleyway, crossed 2 busy streets without getting hit by a car and just stopped when he saw a ball in someone's backyard.  It was that bright, colorful ball that grabbed his attention.  The boys tried talking to him but since he was non-verbal, didn't say anything.  They weren't sure what to do so they picked him up and figured someone would be looking for him so they just started walking up the way he was running.  Thank God.  Thank God.  There could've been so many things that could've gone wrong that day but someone was with him.  A Guardian Angel, family that passed and was watching over him, I will never know but he was safe and back with us. 

What some people don't understand is parents with autistic children are on hyper alert all the time.  All.  The.  Time.  We don't get a day off.  We don't fully sleep.  We let our guard down for seconds and that is all it took for him to slip out the front door and run. 

We went to the anniversary picnic and that was a horrible experience in itself.  We knew something was off with our son but we didn't know it was autism at the time.  Here is a picture of our family when it was picture time.  See how he is crying and holding his ears.  We should've known but we didn't.  I never knew anyone autistic at the time but I sure know many now. 

We didn't know at the time he was
 autistic.  All the signs were there.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Help Wanted.... You Are Worth It.

Where to start!  First, I love food.  Cheese, Ranch dressing, pizza, chicken pot pie, lasagna, turkey with mash potatoes and a river of gravy, BBQ ribs, oh my goodness my mouth is watering.  There is always a baked good around.  How wonderful it is to have some chocolate cookies to go with my coffee, or a slice of carrot cake with creamy icing or key lime pie.  Good gracious.  So when I had a Doctors appointment after completing blood work it was a complete shock when he read the results. 

**Note.  This is written after I had a conversation with my Mom.  The last time I wrote about my health, she was a tad upset with me that she read there was a problem, so this time she got a call and we talked about it first.  Never cross your Mom.**

My son, who is autistic will eat anything.  My daughter, who is NT is a problem feeder and has an extremely limited diet.  At least 2 meals are prepared every night.  My hubby's health insurance through work was giving us credit if we both got our cholesterol levels checked so he did it asap.  I, on the other hand, dragged my feet.  I have a problem with needles so it fell to the bottom of my list real quick. 

Starting end of November 2013, we began hearing about so many people who were fighting cancer or passing due to sudden deaths.  It was a bit crazy because it was becoming so frequent, like at least 1 person a week.  It started to really freak me out.  I got my butt to the Doctors office but I didn't want to just get cholesterol checked, if I were to have blood drawn, then I wanted a bunch of tests completed.  So my Doctor did just that because it had been 8 years ago when I had blood drawn.  Bad on my part, I realize that now.

This is what I saw every Sunday night.
Back to the results.  My cholesterol was high along with elevated sugar and protein.  He wanted to put me on meds to help reduce the bad cholesterol numbers.  No!  Not pills!!  I witnessed my grandmother's health decline over time.  Mom and I talked about how on Sunday nights she would get out all her prescriptions and count them out for the week.  You know, the day of the week pill box?  There were so many.  In my memory, it all starts with one little pill and the next thing you know you are onto like 20.  I asked for more time before I started with a pill.  Time to work on getting my counts down the natural way.  So he gave me 3 months to work on it.  Then I asked him for his advice.

Little known fact about myself, if something scares me, I will go extreme and do my best.  As of over a week ago, I no longer am eating anything dairy or meats of any kind....well, fish at least 2x a week.  Went to the book store and bought books. Changed my diet that day.  In fact on the way home from the Doctors office I stopped at the grocery store and only bought fruits and veggies and Almond milk.  I immediately started eating differently.  Sorta hoping that my new eating habits will spill over onto my daughter with her limited diet.  We all need to eat better. 

What a shock to my system!  It's a whole new way of eating and I'm not starving.  I have lost 4 pounds to date and I am sleeping better through the night...go figure.  I am not craving chocolate or junk food. 

Why am I telling you this?  Two reasons.  First, I need help.  When I need help with my autistic kiddo I ask everyone on the GJOP page for advice.  What books do you read, what pages do you check out, where do you find awesome recipes?  Second, this was a wake up call for me.  As parents we need to stay healthy for our children.  When was the last time you had blood work done?  A physical?  I know now I will be going every year for a complete physical.  I owe it to myself and I owe it to my children to be as healthy as I can be.  Will you join me?

Monday, March 3, 2014

Safety Behind Screens

Cyber bullying...the new fad.  "How would you like it if it were you?" we ask our kids.

Schools have assemblies about bullying.  Parents talk to their kids telling them how bad it is over and over again.  Speak up if you see it and report it to a responsible adult.  Companies pay obscene amounts of cash posting billboards.  There are TV shows and movies about it.  These are good things and should keep happening but what if some kids can't control it? 

When was the last time you were driving and someone cut you off.  Bet you said something like, "You effin jerk!!  Get in your own lane a$$hole." You said this because it happened so quick, you got scared but yet empowered because you were in your vehicle and they were in their vehicle and there was no way they heard what you just said.  If you were face to face with an individual and they accidentally stepped in front of you and you fell, would you immediately get up and say the same thing to them?  Probably not.  You would be exposed.  You would have to see their face.  They might react.  There would be immediate consequence for your words. 

It is so easy to sit behind a screen and say whatever you want.  Sending a derogatory email without picking up the phone is less painful, for you.  If you don't want to read the response back, then walk away. Turn it off.  Or feed into it and get involved but not really.  You aren't face to face with that person so you are brave and more vocal and more mean.

Kids are getting devices at a much earlier age.  My 8 year old asked me for her own phone.  Yeah right.  But there are kids in her class who do have cell phones.  Seems like 10 in the new age to get devices.  They text.  They take pictures. So they can keep in contact with their parents, maybe that's how it starts.  Then children get older and they get Facebook, accounts when they are younger than 13 with the parents permission, of course, because as long as the parent have the password, they believe their child will be safe. Wrong.  Kids are smart.  They know how to outsmart you and will do it over and over again.  They have friends who are more tech savvy than you.  They can block parents from seeing certain things.  Belong to secret groups.  All the while, hiding behind the screen.

My take on Cyber bullying. Some kids can't help themselves.  A young adult's prefrontal cortex is not fully developed yet.  This helps with reasoning and to control impulses.  It may take up to the age of 25 for these impulses to get under control.  If a mean thought pops into their brain, without thinking, it is circulating and sucking even more meanness into the situation.  Example:  if a girl wears something so 'awful' and someone takes a picture of it with a caption like, "WTF is she wearing?" then sends it around to her social media then don't you think, within the comforts of hiding behind a screen, other girls may then start to chime in without taking into consideration about the girl who's picture is now circulating around with more and more wicked comments are being said.  The girl sees it and is devastated and is now the target.  See how easy that was to start?  It is so simple to say things behind a screen and not face to face.  There is no consequence for the girl who started it, or very little.  Would she have walked up the girl initially and said, "WTF are you wearing?"  Doubt it.  Face to face confrontation takes way more guts and I bet that would help with their reasoning and controlling their impulses.  Cyber bullying is a safe way to bully and gains pack mentality quicker especially when hiding behind a screen. 

We do need to make the ones who start it accountable. Absolutely.  As parents we need to keep talking with our kids about the after affects of it all.  How it is not OK to do it and to report a problem if they see or hear about it.  We know all this.  They have heard it so many times. 

Lets try something new. 

How about less technology?  Take the phones away or maybe not have unlimited text?  Do they need to take phones and devices to school?  What happened to getting together and leaving the social media out?  Tell them it is OK to disconnect.  Spend non-tech time together and interact with friends more.  Wishful thinking.  Possibly. 

Times are changing.  Our kids have to manage all this technology thrown at them and learn how to be responsible at a much earlier age but if they aren't fully capable of that because of the way they develop then what are we to do?  

Going Old School-80's Sleepover
No devices back then, just talking.

*This writing is about cyber bullying and not about autism in general.  For more information about autism, please like the Grape Jelly on Pizza page or read other articles on autism in this blog.*