Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Siblings

Siblings.  My two are close in age and some days it seems like they continually argue and pick on each other.  Many years ago I had my son enrolled in karate to see how he would like it.  Long story short, after about 5 months, I pulled him out because I was the one getting the workout.  Getting him into the car and eventually into the dojo would make me break out into a sweat, not to mention I had his little sister with me and her bag of things to do.  All this work for 1/2 of him not listening, making faces in the mirrors and yelling and screaming.  So he didn't go anymore. 

A little over 3 years ago my daughter decided she wanted to give karate a try and being familiar with this dojo and the sensis, I enrolled her.  It ended up she really enjoys it and has started her black belt testing which is a series of 5 days of tests.  Very intense.  Here's the thing, he loves to watch her and encourage her but hates to be in the waiting room.  I can't tell you how many hours she has waited for him in waiting rooms, most of the time without complaining and he can't stand waiting for her.  Not one bit. 



A picture he took of his feet in the
Karate waiting room.
In the beginning, he refused to even go into the building;  it was an awful waiting room experience.  We even had his BSC meet us there to work on his coping skills.  We should show up with a backpack filled with stuffed animals or let him play on my phone or bounce a ball or whatever his preferred was.  We had lots of sensory toys also and pressure activities.  Sometimes I would even park in the front and have him wait in the car for her but that used to make me incredibly nervous.  I believe it was the actual waiting room with yellow walls and florescent lighting that would drive him crazy, not to mention all the parents and siblings also waiting.  Sensory overload at its finest. 


He watches her through the glass and
 tells her, "Great Job!"
After all these years and all the belts she has gained, he has never attended a graduation until the end.  We usually took 2 cars and hubby would leave with him after he had too much, which was usually after 15 minutes but 3 months ago....he insisted going into the dojo packed with people and stay for the entire graduation!  This was big, I mean HUGE!  After she earned that 3rd degree brown belt we started talking about May, she would be testing for her black belt.  He repeats, "Black belt in May?" many times a day.  He also checks the calendar to make sure May is coming.  This makes my heart so happy that he working on his coping skills so he can be a part of this, encourages her daily and is genuinely excited about her accomplishing her goal.

 I can almost guarantee he will be in the dojo cheering her on.  She is his biggest fan and vice versa. 


Thursday, April 24, 2014

When you are at your Witts End....then what?

Have you ever had one of those days when nothing goes right?  You are exhausted and can't seem to wake up.  Coffee doesn't work, candy doesn't and you don't even have enough mental capacity to do anything?  Your stress level soars out of control.  You can't seem to get it together and then to have a screaming toddler who keeps coming at you and at you and at you.  What do you do?

A long time ago when he was little, that was one night at our house.  One night I hate.  It was awful and I don't even like to think about it.  I choose to look on the positive side of things so going back gets me rattled.  People read about many good things that go on in my son's life, our lives and I prefer that but let's get real.  There are also dark sides to having a child with autism. 

This one particular night was horrible.  He was so little.  We didn't know he was autistic.  I had a newborn.  When my son was little he never slept.  I had no idea how he could even function.  It seemed so odd.  He would wake up every 3 hours and was like that for so many years.  Every single night he would get up.  Then add breastfeeding a newborn to that one and guess how much sleep I would get?  Sometimes hubby and I would be talking and I would have absolutely no idea what the heck he would be talking about.  There are events, days, weeks that I couldn't recollect and it still happens.  Sleep deprivation. 

Back to the day.  There was no sleep for me.  My son was particularly cranky and wanted full on attention that day.  It was difficult for me to juggle the two kids because I wasn't able to think clearly.  That early night, my daughter was sleeping and I needed a moment to myself.  Just 5 minutes.  That's all I wanted.  I put my son in his room and he started crying then yelling then screaming.  Screaming.  That's all I heard.  I had had it.  He needed to stop because if he woke up his sister I swear!!  Hubby was working long hours and he too wasn't getting much sleep either.  He needed to work...he was the only income.  All my son had to do was go into his room, filled with toys for 5 minutes so I could regroup myself.  That doesn't sound like much.  Just 5 freaking minutes.

But no.  No.  No.  No.  The screaming was loud, I was starting to freak out.  I kept putting him back in his room and trying to shut the door but he kept running after me straight to the door.  Over and over again.  I started crying.  He was screaming.  I started yelling.  He kept screaming.  I was yelling and sobbing at this point and trying to keep him in his room.  All I wanted was to close the door.  5 minutes.  All the sudden my husband came up the stairs and started grabbing my arm and yelling at me.  I didn't know what the hell was going on.  I started to put my son back into his room and hubby started yelling at me.  Crying, sobbing I lost it.   I turned to hubby and told him to get my son out of my face.  I ran down the stairs and outside.  Sobbing.  I couldn't believe what was happening.  I lost it.  I didn't hit him.  I wanted to screaming to stop.  I only wanted 5 minutes to myself.  Just 5 minutes. 

This night still haunts me.  I feel like it was such a low as a parent.  I don't like to think about it.  I had no where to go for peace and quiet.  There wasn't anyone I could talk to that would understand.  I felt so alone.  We felt so alone, hubby included.  So when the Grape Jelly on Pizza readers tell me how they feel I do understand.  We all go through this at some point and if you don't, then you are blessed.  Go ahead and tell me about your lows, you won't be judged.  You will find others do understand. 

That was so long ago.  Things have changed.  My son now sleeps for the most part which means I catch some Zs also.  We also have a great relationship.  That will be another blog, another day. 

He was only 19 months when he refused to sleep in his crib
anymore, so he got his big boy bed. 

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 happens.....it 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.