In August of 2009 my beautiful (now 6 year old) son was diagnosed with Autism. It was not even weeks before his 3rd birthday. We had been on a waiting list and I have a friend who will tell you? That during my pregnancy I felt something was "Different". When my son was 4 months old I asked the doctors about Autism and was told, I was "Overreacting" and needed to "stop comparing him to my older son" , and that "all children develop differently".
This caused me to watch my son grown with angst. I knew something wasn't "right"- I asked people who only knew - "NORMAL" ... (Typical is my preferred word) children- I had many more friends then than I do now, and they all agreed something was "weird" but not "severe" with my son.
I felt like I was in this pit- this deep dark pit- I envisioned it like nearly a grave- with sand and dirt pouring on me all the time, and I was climbing- striving to figure out- "What gives" .
The BIGGEST thing I can tell you is that he would be "weird" and then? He'd seem so advanced that I'd second guess my questions (do NOT ever do this) - From what I have learned this is pretty standard. I played the limbo- waiting- watching and having a self conflict as a Mother during the whole process. "NO! He didn't crawl- but he walked early." "Yes it's weird he didn't eat baby food , but WOW he eats 'real' food so easily- maybe he just likes it!" "Yeah he doesn't want to be held- but maybe he just doesn't like it." ...
Is something WRONG?
NO - NOTHING was/is WRONG with my Child!
Flash forward 4 years. I am so much wiser- I learned to live, eat, breathe and SMELL Autism. If you have a child with Autism you know what I mean, you hear about a parent going through this- the quirks the question - and you if you see/meet their child you just KNOW.
You see the kids having "abnormal tantrums" you don't scoff or stare- you smile and WANT with every being of your soul to share the information you have learned because you "Just KNOW" their child falls somewhere on the spectrum.
Today? I was going through my emails in an effort to help a friend who asked some questions, and I found the FIRST "List" I sent the diagnostic facility - who diagnosed my son with Autism- My concerns.
Before I post any more here is what I feel is IMPERATIVE to CONVEY!
Parents know their child best- they know more than any professional can know - they know more than any 4 hour test will prove- if your gut makes you question (or you question your gut) push HARDER. Do NOT assume that because you are "just a parent" you don't know.
That being said. I want to share my questions of 4 years ago with you- and then? I will tell you - how amazing our progress has been.
Behaviors I deem "ODD"
1.) As a baby, Parker would never let us hold him for long, and would not let "strangers" (even including my grandparents) hold him at all. He would scream constantly until he was put down in which case he then was happy as a clam.
2.) For the longest time before working through speech therapy Parker would not walk on any kind of parking lot or pavement, he felt comfortable walking on cement but when setting one foot onto blacktop he would essentially "play dead".
3.) I was never able to feed him baby food and still cannot have him take a bite of anything I offer. He does not use utensils. He went straight from formula to gerber graduates and anything that I could make soft enough for him to pick up yet still chew.
4.) At 6 months old for 3 days he said "dada" very clearly. This was the only word he ever said until he was close to 24 months old and it was lost after 3 days- we never heard it again. He began to say "Tickletickletickle" at 24 months and that was accompanied by approximately 4 other words. It seems to me that once he masters a word he tucks it into his brain and does not use it again. Upon enrolling him in Speech Therapy in April and the therapists teaching me new ways to teach my son we have brought his vocabulary up to approximately 28 words with 3-5 phrases. Phrases are easier for him than single words. Words still tend to come and go.
5.) He does not point at anything he desires, and you can not point and give him a direction "Look".
6.) When other people (strangers at the grocery store or where ever else) talk to Parker he immediately goes into a blank stare. He will now have moderate eye contact with Myself (Lindsay) and his brother Austen and OCCASIONALLY his Father Anthony, and his speech therapists, however any one "New" he refuses to even look at let alone in the eye.
7.) In December of 2008 Parker had a fever, I called his daycare and they said that a virus was going around and asked me if Parker had thrown up and I said yes, they told me it was probably the ROTAvirus and it would take 3-4 days and to watch him. After 2 days his fever was gone and he seemed fine. He was never fussy he just slept a lot and he gave no indications of pain whatsoever, upon the 3rd day both his eardrums ruptured and apparently he had a double ear infection. I never had any Idea that he was in any pain, and he never cried when his ear drums ruptured either.
8.) Parker has various "obsessions" as I call them. He has no interest in *normal* toys that are appropriate for his age, and instead collects things like flash lights and notebooks. If he has a notebook and a pen and you separate the two of them, it will ensue a screaming fit like I have never seen in my other son. I would describe these fits as sheer terror. As though he is afraid of something and not a typical tantrum for not getting your way- although he has those too.
9.) When Parker is in unfamiliar places he typically gets uncomfortable rather quickly. It always depends- on what I don't know- but something because each experience is different. At his brother's kindergarten Graduation he was doing fairly well and some unknown thing set him off and he screamed as though he was being stabbed for over 20 minutes. Once he was brought back out to our vehicle he was fine. He is always curious for at least the first 30 minutes- the smaller the space the faster his fit comes on. With both daycares he was enrolled in he was ok for the first 3 days and then began to have horrible fits. I finally pulled him out when he was spending his days crying in a corner constantly and not even wetting one diaper in an 8 hour period. This is when I took him in to the doctor because I KNEW something was very wrong.
10.) I suspected something was different with Parker from very VERY early on. He was able to pull himself into a standing position before 9 months of age and would do nothing but Jump up and down in his playpen. He didn't seem to want to be out of his playpen until he was able to walk. He still obsessively jumps at times.
11.) Parker never crawled. He never had any desire to. He began walking somewhere near 12 months of age.
12.) At 18 months old Parker displayed some incredible logic skills (or at Least I feel they are incredible) He has a way for figuring things out but can not be directed on how to do things. At 18 months he was playing with some toys in his playpen and a Sipper cup was sitting near by, he used two different toys to try to extend his reach to knock that cup into his playpen.
13.) He shows absolutely no fear in anything, he can hurt himself doing something get up, and continue to do it again. He does not respond to NO! And if I didn't hold his hand at all times outside of the house I definitely feel he would run off and not listen if I said NO! or STOP!. Most of the time when we reprimand him for inappropriate behavior he responds by laughing at us. Different voice infliction (being scared because he is doing something dangerous or even a tone of anger) Has no bearing on what I am saying to him. WHat are good Disciplinary techniques for Autistic Children?
14.) He shows no empathy. I remember "fake crying" with my other son when he was a toddler and it would freak him out and he would start crying, same thing with my little sister who is 11 years younger than me. With Parker- he will just smile and maybe try to poke me in the eye. If he does something to hurt me he has no clue that his action caused my reaction. The only emotions I see him display are Anger and Happiness. What can I do to help him learn how to display proper emotions?
15.) His inappropriate attachments to objects often worries me as well, taking away one of the toys he is obsessed with can occasionally ensue a terrible fit, one time at dinner I took away a notebook and he cried for 45 minutes and refused to eat. Why is there a sense of 'over attachment' to objects and complete disinterest in others?
16.) Parker typically shows no affection. I can now ask him for a hug and he will ALLOW me to hug him but does not reciprocate the hug. HOWEVER! There is only one person in the world that he will walk up to and hug and squeeze and even kiss on the cheek and that is his older brother Austen. He just began this in June of 2009.
17.) Since we found out about the possibility of Parker having Autism I have read 3 books, done extensive research on the web and listened intently to the speech therapists. I have incorporated a "preschool" curriculum into my day and have Parker on a routine M-F. We work on flash cards that he can touch and feel that are "First words", we do puzzles and lable the animal names and sounds, we do artwork, He does listening therapy and I have implemented some of the techniques I have read about in order to try to help things like eye contact. In the last 5 months I have noticed quite an improvement in Parker but I understand we have a long way to go. Are there any other "therapies" that I can do at home or things we should purchase to help him further? What are appropriate toys for Autistic children of his age group?
18.) Occasionally I force Parker to partake and stay in situations that seem to upset him. Not for long, but I am trying to teach him that he will be ok. Like at the graduation he we let him cry for about 20 minutes before taking him out and all the while tried to coach him into calming down. Also, when I say no about something I stick to it, sometimes he will throw what I call a *normal* tantrum, and other times I can tell it's one of those *different* tantrums- either way when mom says no about something it stays "NO" no matter what the tantrum type is. Is there anything else I can be doing to help his tantrums that reflect the terror and discomfort?
(A Sensory Cocoon built while at the ER for the Youngest- Parker was not "comfortable" - I NOW understand)
If any of this sounds "familiar" I'm not surprised- as you likely found my blog either by me just sharing - OR SEARCHING.
Searching for desperate answers, "Is my Child Autistic"?
No- but perhaps your child has Autism.
Fine line on this in the Autism community- but let me tell you this.
Autism? Does NOT DEFINE MY CHILD. It is part of his personality. It is WHO HE IS- it's not a DISORDER- it may be a disABILITY. Not all days are easy- in fact many are hard - REALLY hard like questioning every thing you have ever known in life hard- but the rewards? The progress? OH MY WORD I can not properly convey through words what it is like to be there when you see your child do something that you haven't - trying new foods- talking to strangers.
Now? We go into public and my son sees elderly people and will nearly SCREAM at them "HI GRANDMA/GRANDPA" - it's embarrassing in a way- but Oh My! Reaching out to a stranger- if they only KNEW how far we have come.
Now he has many words- he still screams - but he speaks too- never knew that would happen.
I have gotten hugs, love, kisses and been told , "Mom? You're the BEST" because I avidly work to understand my son.
A very good friend of mine, who has Asperger's herself, and is an adult, brightened the bulb in my flashlight- that had been provided by an "Official" diagnosis and therapy. One of the most .... AMAZING - things she ever said to me was, "Have you ever tried it?" - If you see your child being "weird" - do NOT be so quick to say "STOP" - Try it - try looking through that sheet- or - screen- You can try licking it if you want too! It's not too tasty to the typical mind- but it may give you insight.
Throw the toy- watch how it drops - connect with it- it makes a sound- it rolls - it bounces - Hmmmm It's annoying to us- and can break things - but the WHY is always the key.
The Tantrum? Become an interpreter- realize that people/children with Autism? Can't filter like we might- turn every tv and radio and sound device in your house up- and then - see if you hear what is said to you- add some flashing lights- vibrant colors- and FEEL it. It's ... "Overstimulating".
EXPERIENCE your child's world before becoming frustrated with it- don't taste the batteries - it's bad for you- even if they put them in their mouth.
Try talking to every single person you see- and see how you feel afterwards- that's what it may feel like for your child. It's not fun- do you always want to hear what ANYONE/EVERYONE has to say?
When the anger and fits ensue - and you can't understand why? Use the phrase "Use your words" and "I want to help you" and most importantly? "I'm sorry I don't understand" (because you don't).
TELL THEM they are your FAVORITE CHILD- and if you have more than ONE child? Tell them they are your Favorite ____ Year old. Love them- encourage them- don't change them- let them be THEM- change yourself- and accept them? And you? Will see the progress I have.
Don't worry about stigma- everyone is different- but those who are "EXCEPTIONALLY" Different? They change lives.
Don't hold your child back, do not fear a diagnosis of Autism- realize- that this is what our world actually NEEDS.
I am not saying Autism is "needed" but think about it. Our children - they seem to remain "innocent" in so many ways for a longer period of time- they are here to FIX US. Not for us to correct- Autism is NOT a bad thing- it is a "Learning thing" - but your child? Is the teacher.
Learn to listen to your child, learn to listen to yourself- learn to interpret the information that is being provided. Learn that your way of thinking? Isn't necessarily "Right" but most importantly learn that your child is not WRONG.
I read the list I shared- I laugh now- I was trying to FIX my child- Which is NOT WRONG- I was inquisitive- and my inquisitive nature led me to new answers- It's okay to have obsessions as long as they don't interfere with growing and living, my son still gets the occasional notebook, he is specific- it's "big 'H' crayons" with a "red notebook" - or "small 'C' crayons with a 'Stripe' Notebook" .
Do not EVER treat your child "special" though. Do not lower your expectations- realize that although your child may appear to be - "behind" or *different* (not less) does not mean they don't understand - remember this. Realize? That if your child can not express themselves? It does NOT mean they do not have thought/feeling. It may take more to get it out- but it's there.
Realize you will make mistakes, you aren't perfect but an "A" for effort is always better than a complete fail.
Remember that - in the beginning EVERYTHING IS CHAOS- but it won't ALWAYS be that way- Chaos will come back but less frequently.
Remember to take a breather- you deserve it.
Remember friends will go- but friends will come- you may find that your newest "Best friends" are met online....
My son? Now? Expresses himself (see the link above).
My son? Is more capable than I ever imagined.
My son? Does not struggle with the questions you read - I do not struggle with the statements I shared from 2009 any longer- I have new ones. Find a community. Find pages that offer support. I am going to provide a list of Facebook pages that I think you should *like* in this post. Realize- that it gets better- it gets worse but irregardless? Our children are amazing. My son reads things - more than I know- He gets emotion now- he hugs and kisses even if it's not as much as I wish - but HE - IS- CONNECTED.
It's society that needs to appreciate him.
Click a Link For GREAT Facebook Support Pages!
And there are more....
Find your support- find what inspires you - do NOT give up - embrace. Realize? Our children are here to change the world.
I'm Doing The Best I Ever Can!
That moment where “MOM” hits- you know what I’m talking about.
It’s more than unshaven legs, unwashed hair, the inability to pee in peace- it’s that moment- you get into your car with 2 of your kids and 2 of their friends and you hear: “Godsmack: Go Away” And you WANT to turn it up and "jam"- but find yourself switching over to “The Best Day Ever” by… SpongeBob.
It’s like you are caught- you want to crank up those tunes- which I’m sad to say now are nearly “Oldies”- being a “90’s Child” – those were the grains of my existence- not only did I “Jam” but I turned it up so loudly that it’s probably half the reason I am nearly deaf! (Oh and at the age of 17 I had a THEN $1000 system to match those beats-AND BASS Lights- which now would be probably $2500).
I actually hesitated, I actually CONSIDERED Jamming for minute- but then- you know the lyrics and all – even edited on the radio- well, No…. I prefer (now) to promote some sort of fuzzy, cuddly, HAPPY atmosphere.
What the hell happened to my life!
The BEST THING EVER! (insert the tune because I know 90% of you know it).
Right now I am entertaining 6 kids, nearly all of them have some sort of special need. (None as great as Mommy’s in the moment).
I used to live to have GIANT bonfires with TONS of beer before I was even legal to drink it.
Now I live to entertain children, watch my children socialize, and grow.
Our Parties are full of juice boxes, goldfish, peanut butter & Jelly, and Macaroni and cheese!
Never would I have thought that this would be my life. I was never going to have kids, now I have 3 and they each have a friend spending the night. I failed though, and realizing we were out of Ice Cream (HOW COULD I!?) 4 of the 6 & I Headed for an ice cream cone run to accompany our homemade Macaroni and Cheese.
After getting everyone buckled in, I went to start the car, and I heard GodSmack: “Go Away”. And I stopped. I, for a split second looked over my life and was taken back to another time, then I looked to my right and saw my eldest looking at me in a peculiar manner, he had never heard this music. And I was proud.
I am proud of the mother I have become, I’m proud of my past, I’m proud of my life, I wouldn't change ONE thing about ANY Of it!! (As a door slams in my background and screaming commences).
One day? The day will come? Where all these children (Mine & Others) who have touched my life? Are grown, and showing independence so many never thought possible.
One Day? The day will come? Where I miss all the chaos.
One Day? The day will come? Where I’m not mediating elementary disagreements.
One Day? The day will come? Where I miss the sounds that wreak havoc on my life now.
One Day? I will want them all back.
On that day? Perhaps? I will Crank up Godsmack.
Until then? I think I will enjoy my “Best Day EVER”.
"It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad." ~C.S. Lewis
It's never too late to learn........
Up until 11th grade, I always had a GPA of 4.0. I was deemed one of the "Smart kids" from many classmates. I loved learning, always had and still do. Many things came easily to me. However in 11th grade, I had to take an extensive Biology course, and well, Science is not one of my strongest areas by any means. It was not EASY, in fact it was down right hard. I kept trying new methods to help me pass that class, I studied more than I did anything else, I even wrote notes in class, and then REWROTE them again at home, in a neater fashion. I always got an A on my notebooks, and my worksheets, but my tests? Not so much.
At the end of the year, the teacher called me to his desk. As I walked to the front of the class I could feel the butterflies in my stomach, what was he going to tell me? I knew my grades were not good and I was not accustomed to anything less than an A in most classes. I often wear my thoughts on my face without even trying to, and there? On the desk? Was his grade book.... *GULP*
He could see my expression, and smiled, and in the most "business" type way he started discussing my final grade with me. AN "F"! A freaking "F"! That's what I was supposed to get. See, in this particular class, he graded on a curve and tests accounted for 75% of your grade. I knew I was doomed, I almost started crying, the closest thing to an "F" I had ever received was when I got an "N" (needs improvement) in first grade under the category of "Controls Talking". (For the record I'd still get an "N" in that department).
Then, my teacher looked at me and he said, "Never in my career of teaching, have I ever seen anyone try so incredibly hard and still fail. I am changing your grade to a D+ so you will pass my course." You know what? I had never been nearly as proud of any "A" I earned, than I was of that D+. He saw I was trying, and I got to pass.
Now, here I am, 14 years later, with a Son who has Asperger's, a Husband who has Asperger's, a younger child who would probably qualify for Asperger's but has SPD for sure, and then? I have my middle son, who has AUTISM.
I have gotten so many things wrong over the last 6 years since my Son with Autism was born, so - so - so many things! Nothing comes easily, it's like being stuck in a never ending Biology course, no matter how hard I try? I feel many times like I am still failing, then? I remember, when you put the effort in, you can still "pass".
I haven't written in a very long time, the main reason is because since my son was diagnosed with Autism? I took it all head on, I worked for Autism related businesses, I joined and ran Autism Awareness campaigns, I blogged for a newspaper on the subject of Autism, I started my own personal blog and I started a business related to Autism. I was ready to fix the world. Then? In the last year? Things fell apart, like completely.
I have never given up, I just kept moving forward, and things eventually began to right themselves again, however when they did? I started seeing some changes in my son. Maybe partially due to the changes that took place for him, but more likely due to just his growing. He was growing up and I wasn't growing with him because I was too focused on all the change that was effecting everyone else. We no longer were on this "HAPPY AUTISM" path, I lost my positivity, I no longer could say: "Autism changed my life for the better." - No I was having dark thoughts. About Autism in general. I think my husband having Asperger's? Was the straw that broke my back in many ways, but no matter what it was? The one thing I knew? Is that my middle son and I? Were at a crossroads, and as much as I wanted to walk with him, I found myself wanting to just send him down a different path.
I felt like I couldn't handle it anymore, he was getting violent, he wasn't happy (and he has ALWAYS been a happy child overall), he was having horrible screaming fits I hadn't heard since he was 3 years old, he was violent with his younger brother, NOTHING I was doing helped, not schedules written out, not extra therapy NOTHING- absolutely NOTHING.
As the days went on? I was more and more stressed, I started just wanting to hide from the world, My mother, God rest her soul, always told me: "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." I felt I better just not talk to people, it was better to just hide because if I opened my mouth? Nothing nice was going to come of it.
Between the messes being made, the violence, and just a lot of other things? I was ready to just quit, thoughts such as: "Maybe I should just run away" actually crossed my mind, followed by tears for even having the ability to THINK of leaving my beloved children. I just didn't know what to do.
"One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say."
~Bryant H. McGill
Then? Two weeks ago- it happened.
I am going to share with you, my personal Facebook post from what has turned into one of the most pivotal nights of my life.
Here it is:
Austen: Age 10 Asperger's, Parker: Age 6 Autism, Logan: Age 3, SPD and probable Asperger's
I truly believe I have the best children in the world.
Right now- Parker & Logan share a room- Austen couldn't wait to have his own.
Well Parker has been having a hard time- and I think he doesn't understand why any more than we do. Tonight as he was going to sleep - he had a bit of a fit and let out an ear piercing scream.
I took him into my room, locked my door- shut off all the lights so it was quiet. I knew he was tired. He couldn't shut down.
I also know? He may have words- but he completely lacks the ability to properly express his emotions. When he can't find the words to express his emotions he screams, yells and cries, and then will ask for a comfort item over and over. Some of those items he hasn't had for years. Tonight, he looked at me and whimpered lightly and said, "What is wrong with me? You say no but it is yes."
I went and laid next to him and I said, "Parker I want to tell you a story, would that be okay?" (Slight whimper) "Yes" (*sniffle*sniffle)
Me: "Once upon a time there was this little baby, only he wasn't so little, he was born big and strong. At first his Mommy snuggled him every night, but after only a few weeks that baby didn't want snuggles or hugs, he didn't want to be touched, he didn't like it. That baby's name, was Parker Louis. Mommy was sad sometimes because she didn't know why the baby Parker Louis did not like touch, and soon he did not like talk either. Mommy couldn't talk or touch her beautiful baby, but she always ALWAYS loved him. She loved him so much she did everything she could to help him. She found ways to talk with "no talk", she found ways to love with no touch. He was a happy baby! And even though baby Parker Louis liked different things, and sometimes felt different things, his Mommy always always loved him, and still does. I just want to help you Parker, I love you, you are my favorite 6 year old in the whole wide world and I love you so much, but you are NOT happy today, and you have been very angry a lot. I want my HAPPY Parker Louis back, but I need help, I need my big 6 year old Parker Louis to be just as strong as Baby Parker Louis was and find a way to show his Mommy what she can do to help."
I would have thought it to be too many words but to my astonishment he slowly turned his head, he touched my face- and looked RIGHT into my eyes and said. I like to do some things, but then you say no, so I get MAD, and then I make a mess, and I'm so sorry, but I throw things cause I'm MAD. I want a room. Just like Austen has. I want a Parker Louis room. Just for Parker."
Me: "You don't want to share with Logan?"
Parker: "NO! LOGAN makes me MAD!" (and I so see that Logan sets Parker off)
Me: "Okay, well, I understand. Thank you for using your words with me. I will see what I can do. Now you are tired, when we are tired our brain can feel all mixed up, if you get some rest we can talk more in the morning, is that okay with you?"
Parker: "Yes Mom, it 'Shore' is."
Me: "Parker Louis? I love you." And I got a hug and a kiss, he rolled over shut his eyes and said, "Mom? You're the best!"
I walked out into the hallway where Austen was trying to get into his room- since Parker had locked and shut the door. Austen took one look at my face and said, "You're thinking, what are you thinking about?"
Without any details I asked Austen, "How would you feel if we put a toddler bed for Logan in your room? And you and Logan shared a room? We can find a neutral place for kid toys, but how would you feel sharing a room with Logan?"
Austen's first look was a "I don't know" kind of look. Then it changed, he smiled and said, "You know? I'd like that I think, but can I ask why?"
I told him what Parker said and his excitement heightened and he said, "Mom? Parker has some special needs, we've always known that, and I know that I really wanted a room all to myself, but think of all the things Logan and I could do! Just Logan and I. I'd like to be able to spend some time alone with Logan so Parker can have his own space anyhow, I can teach him to play Bakugan and pokemon, and then? We could watch tv shows in my room, together, that bother Parker. I think? It would be a great idea."
Tell me I don't have the most amazing children in the world!
Sometimes our Children are the best teachers we will ever have........
So last weekend we made it happen, we moved the rooms around, and here, almost a week later? My life has changed DRASTICALLY! And despite the fact that change is usually so hard to accept? I am reminded, that it can be for the better.
Since the room switch? There has not been ANY fighting really, no ear piercing screams, no fits I have no idea why they are happening, and I have seen my oldest and my youngest grow closer in the most beautiful way. My house has stayed cleaner too! Which is something I never expected but definitely makes sense. Parker, was trying to find a quiet space to be alone and get away, and while doing so he was hauling all his toys all over the place, and leaving them there, now? He has his own space, and goes there when he needs "His" time. It's like a complete 360 in this house, and I have my HAPPY child with Autism back! I am not nearly as stressed, and overall? I think? This may be the calmest I have been in about 5 years.
Sometimes, I think as our children with Autism grow and change, we forget how capable they are- in general. We surely see the accomplishments, Lord knows that, but we also see the "Deficit" side to having a child with Autism. Because they often can not express themselves the way we would best understand it, we don't realize that they are actually telling us exactly what they need, we just have to work harder to hear it. It's not easy, it's like Science, but if you try hard enough? You can still "Pass", and be proud that you were able to do so.
I wrote this back in January - On a BAD day- I want to make sure I note that I love my husband UNCONDITIONALLY- Hence 12 - MOSTLY happy years - but sometimes? It's just ... Too Much - And that's what this blog is about- It's raw- and written during an emotional moment so please don't tell me how I should be more understanding- or how selfish I feel- these are REAL - and RAW emotions- read at your own risk...
I’m sometimes pretty sure my husband has Autism and not Asperger’s. Then again? Most of the people I Know who are grown Adults with Asperger’s ? Are women..
You know what hurts? The miscommunication. The fact that what I do? Isn’t recognized very often- it’s expected. You know what else hurts? When I think I live up to those expectations and on *moment* that sends HIM dizzying into a spiral? Makes me feel like the failure.
Let me tell you this- My husband is home 1 day a week. ON that day ? He has 2 responsibilities- to help with the kids and to dry the laundry. It breaks my heart when he lashes out at me because of his own frustrations. And although I may understand the “Why” It doesn't make it any easier to accept from time to time.
Sometimes I feel so alone; like I’m the only one who is a dolphin needing air in this school of special needs fish. That may sound horrible… but it’s true! I have special needs fish- My Children, My husband- all on the spectrum and me? Fleeting ONLY BARELY above it. I admit I was so disappointed when I took an “Aspie” quiz and didn’t meet the criteria- part of me wanted to – Part of me thought? That would make me part of the group – but I’m actually the outsider in my own family.
I say things to my eldest son all the time that he out right tells me doesn’t make sense- and by his logic it doesn’t .. .I am kind of thankful he is older now … because since he is? He actually gives me insight into my husband. Why? Because I’ve taught him communication skills. He tells me why I don’t make sense- and then? His points are hard to argue with.
Some days are so so lonely. I am trying to recreate the world into a place that my family can live- Only I want out. I want what is OUT THERE – but out there doesn’t accept THEM- so I build a bubble…. And I do what any mother and wife would, I protect them. Only I can’t protect them outside of my bubble. So I just stay here.
I stay here away from socialization- and I stay here away from what I used to love. Why? Because I love them more that’s why! But is it soo much to ask… that .. maybe once? Someone realize that?
Maybe I am throwing a pity party for myself- and if I am it’s the first – and maybe I should throw more because you know what? I AM SICK OF IT SOMETIMES!
Think I’m a horrible person- go ahead- think that I am horrible because I want what I used to be. Think I am horrible for sticking by my family and abandoning myself- I abandoned myself to EMBRACE THEIR DIFFERENCES. I have sacrificed myself in many ways- but some days? I just want to be ME. ME. Who the hell is that anyway- I don’t even know anymore.
ME- used to be a socialite who loved to host parties.
Me- Used to be a person who loved to go out.
Me- used to be the center of attention because I put myself there.
Now I’m just the burnt on crust of the back burner that you have to buy special cleaning supplies to get off because I’m so desperately clinging to be part of the “whole picture”.
Sometimes I am just sick of BLUE’S CLUES and Dora and Team Umizoomi for my children- then I suck up Dukes and Coach and multiple others to please my husband. Sometimes I am just sick of the obsessions. Sometimes I am just SICK of ALL Of it.
Then I feel guilty – because I couldn’t live without any of it.
SO why does it hurt?
Why do I feel like such an outsider in my own family from time to time?
Why am I expected to accept the differences? Love? YES! I LOVE MY CHILDREN AND MY FAMILY. But if I have to accept all their differences? What do I have to do to let it be known I’m DIFFERENT TO!?
I’m different from them – I have … a different perspective. My Deep emotions come from many things as do theirs- but I have learned to understand all of theirs.. Is it so much to ask that they do the same for me? Am I a bitch for this? Am I being unreasonable?
I preach day in and day out for Autism acceptance- I say things like “Is there a CURE for Normal” – I’m not *NORMAL* who is? But is there acceptance for that? Is there acceptance that some of us out here don’t see the world as YOU Do? Does it matter that we TRY? DOES IT?
I have changed my life step after step for my husband- and thank GOD finding out he had Asperger’s? Provided ME with some answers- I only wish he’d find AS MANY (as he has found some) Answers. Because I long for the day he can see that I’m not just “The bitch” I long for the day he can realize that not everyone sees the world from HIS eyes- as I have accepted the ENTIRE WORLD won’t see things from my eyes.
Me- the headstrong independent woman- am I now to be the “Good Girl” and swallow my pride due to his disABILITIES (Believe me when I say his abilities outnumber the DIS in that statement) – Why can’t I expect him to try to understand me the way I am working feverishly to understand him? Am I not fair? I wait on him hand and foot- serve his meals, take his plates, I know he is gone all week and works hard for us. To me? Favored meals and waiting on him shows gratitude. Yet? His mind? Doesn’t see it that way… What am I doing wrong? Will it always be like this? I don’t have the answers- the only thing I know is that he takes care of me- and the family – not so much emotionally ever- but financially for sure… I LOVE Him- I don’t DOUBT THAT- but it’s not what I thought Love would be by any means. It’s so much more work- Sometimes I just wonder … Is it worth it? Then I realize how connected we are- and how no one knows me better … and I think it is .. but is it wishful thinking? I don’t even know … 12 years. I have had a LOT of ups and downs with my husband – now it seems that Asperger’s is supposed to make it – Justifiable.. Not sure how I feel about that yet… Stay tuned.
Years of Frustration Coupled With years Of Love .. 12 of both simultaneously.
So as most of you know- this week’s blogs were to be dedicated to my married life- with my husband who has Asperger’s.
I’m starting this topic late this week as we have been tied up in other things. I already have written content- that I hide deep within my computer on Microsoft Word. It’s real, it’s raw and I don’t want to start the week out like that (raw I mean).
Before I say anything else let me say this- Marriage? IS WORK – no matter who you are, no matter what your similarities or differences are, no matter what your age is.
We all have “issues” – nobody is ever perfect, and anyone who thinks they have it all figured out is doomed to lead a desolate and lonely life because only when you realize that you – in fact do not know EVERYTHING? Will you then be able to open yourself up to personal growth.
My husband and I have had SERIOUS “issues” over the years and there has been more than a time or two that I was ready to throw in the towel and give up. I have said, “I don’t know if Love is enough.” Now don’t get me wrong- there is a difference between “issues” and TOXICITY. Toxic relationships leave you with no other choice but to abandon ship- but “issues” – well most of them can be worked through. How badly do you want to make it work? Are you willing to work out your own issues or just point a finger at the other person because they make your life hell? Does the other person truly make your life hell or are the ISSUES making your life hell.
Marriage is by no means a one way street and one of the things I found myself fighting over the years is how often I feel I walk this path alone. I have said so many times “I’m a married single mother.” I have NO problem expressing my thoughts or at least I sure didn't think so. I let everyone know what I think when I think it. So how could someone NOT understand what it was I was saying?
The answer was actually quite simple; I wasn't speaking the right “Language”. I was expressing myself, my points were clear (to me), but I was making a LOT of points- too many points. Then my husband would say nothing- roll over and go to sleep. I would be PISSED. Here I am reeling, hurting and angry. TRYING my best to talk it out- I can’t even sleep when I should because of the issues at hand and he rolls over and goes right to sleep? What the HELL is that?
Well guess what folks! That is shutdown. That is- Me overloading his communication circuit by talking and talking and talking, getting more and more angry that I’m not getting a response, then talking more, sometimes? I've even been driven to say some of the meanest things just to try to spar a reaction. It never worked, and I felt IGNORED. I used to say things like “You don’t care how I feel!” or I would say things like “You just think you can sweep all this under the rug and it will go away.” “Why won’t you TALK to me?” Anything, anything would be better than the shutdown.
Thing is? I didn't see it then for what it was, I do now. That’s one thing that understanding Asperger’s (or rather learning to understand Asperger’s) has done for me. But guess what else that did? It made me feel guilty as HELL. Now here I had an “answer” – which is far different than an EXCUSE, but I felt I had to accept that some of this behavior actually? It wasn't my husband simply being an ASS. THE HORROR! (seriously!) I had to admit my own faults and problems, see what I needed to do, and once again I had to learn a new language.
I was actually pretty angry about that at one time, why do I have to learn how to understand him when he clearly can’t understand ME. (I still get a little frustrated with that aspect now). But there is a difference in him not being able to understand me, and not wanting to.
So for the last year now I've slowly been trying to figure out how to better communicate (with him). I also had to learn (and am still learning) to take his actions for what they actually were and not what I THOUGHT I saw them as. It was like this code that had to be deciphered.
Anger = I can’t express myself the way I want so it’s easier to grumble and get mad about it. Maybe I’m tired, maybe I’m hurt, maybe I’m frustrated, maybe I’m sad, maybe I’m disappointed in myself, maybe I’m angry but the one thing I know is I’m not happy.
Sleep after an argument= Processing time, not being ignored.
Laughter = Possible happiness, or possible annoyance although the laugh may sound the same.
“Oh Whatever!” = I really don’t understand what you are trying to tell me, I want to but I can’t and I’m not going to tell you I can’t so I’m going to appear to brush you off instead even though I really do care.
The “Oh Whatever!” response is one that just makes me CRINGE. I have hated it the entire 12 years we have been together, and it took me 12 years to finally realize? It didn't actually mean “Oh Whatever!”
I can’t tell you how many times I have told my husband he needs to grow up and stop acting like a child, that adults in the real world talk out their problems, they have discussions and not everything is about attacking the other person. That brings me to one of my next biggest lessons.
No matter how I tried to change my approach in the past? When I tried to talk to my husband about our “issues” he reacted with “Anger” only to me? It meant ANGER. I never saw it as anything other than anger and that would in turn make me incredibly angry. Most of the times, looking back now? I get it- when I would want to talk about our problems, and I’d lay a lot out there, and I’d talk about my FEELINGS, he felt it was a direct attack on him. I was passing judgment, and I was doing the one thing that I wasn't supposed to do, the one thing that everyone else in his life had always done. No matter what words I used he heard: “You suck, and you aren’t good enough.” (I wish I had learned that long ago).
Now when we talk, instead of talking about my feelings and expecting him to decipher my personal code? I simply – and I mean SIMPLY tell him what I need. I don’t cloud it up with all my feelings and justifications. I don’t tell him how he needs to change this or that, I simply say: “I need you to ______________” I try to make it as point blank as possible which is really hard for me to do. When he starts his shut down? I stop, change my tone of voice and say, “I need you to understand this isn't an attack on you, I love you.” I try to end everything I say with my truest feeling and not my OWN emotion. I know I love my husband, but when I’m angry – he shuts down and we get nowhere. Instead of “I’m sick and tired of having to do everything around here!” I say, “I need you to do more dishes and spend a little more time with the kids.”
Communication is the base of marriage and if you are speaking different languages, and you aren't being heard? It will be the downfall.
I still have a lot of changing to do, and when I’m upset or confused I try to have a “heart to heart” with myself. I try to not react with my emotions which isn't an easy thing. I give my husband space a lot more. I am realizing that the less I say and the more time I give him to process it? The better off it will be. I think that is one of the biggest things I am still learning and have learned since I started looking at my relationship differently.
When I can’t hold my tongue? I write. Or I find people to listen to me, I still need to vent but I realize that my venting is like a loud steam whistle that completely deafens my husband. So, I vent to get myself in order, and then approach him in a calmer, less emotional state. That’s hard to do when you are angry at a person, and I sometimes still resent the changes I am trying to make because I feel like I shouldn't have to. But I love him, and I don’t HAVE to make these changes, if it’s the choice I am going to make? Then I have to take responsibility for my own choice. It’s not easy by any means but in my particular situation? I have decided it is worth it to work it out.
Just like with my son who has Autism however, I sometimes also find it hard to decipher when it’s “Asperger’s” or “ASS”, I often say that the hardest thing with my 6 year old is knowing when he is having an “Autism Meltdown” or if he is simply being defiant and doesn't think he should have to do what I am asking him. Being married to a man with Asperger’s? Is like an overgrown accentuation of exactly that. It’s important for us as spouses to realize not every behavior is justifiable by Asperger’s or Autism, we don’t have to simply accept every action. I really don’t have a lot more to offer on this- I know that I’m right in this manner but at the same time? I don’t have any advice to offer yet on how to make the distinction and what to do when you do, but I do know it’s important to hold high standards, and not try to excuse or justify all behavior because of an ASD.
In the end I guess the real questions we ALL have to ask ourselves when our Marriage is in trouble are: Is it worth it to work it out? How hard are you willing to work? Are you going to work on your aspect and side? Or are you just going to expect them to work on their side?
Sometimes- the only thing you can do is realize that it’s not going to work, that I think would be the hardest thing to accept, I’m not there, and I honestly don’t even think I’m halfway there, at least not now, I was past halfway there a year ago, but things are getting better and I can only help sharing my experiences and feelings will help others get there too.
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A very good friend of mine recently asked me if I would help her raise awareness about sand.
Yep, you read that right- SAND.
When heading out for a family vacation to the beach- there may be concerns on your mind about safety. The first thing that may come to your mind is the risk of drowning. You will probably keep an extra close watch on your child as he/she frolics through the water. There are often concerns about water currents as we tell our children not to go out ‘too far’. Some people may even have fear about sharks, but how many people worry if their child is sitting feet away from them playing in the sand?
Recently in San Antonio two boys were playing in the sand together as so many children do, only the end result was horrific. The report stated that the child’s father pulled his son’s unmoving body out of a mound of sand, attempted CPR and hours later the 7 year old boy was pronounced dead at the hospital. You can read the entire article HERE
First let me say this: What appalled me the most in reading this article? Were the comments following it. People are so quick to point fingers and blame someone- when the truth is? This could happen to ANY of us! So many people don’t realize the dangers of playing in the sand.
According to ABC News
: in an article titled "Digging Holes in the Sand may be Deadly"
; (written in 2011)
, they reported that in 10 years there had been 52 cases of sand hole
collapses, 60% of the victims involved died. Their ages ranged from 3-21 years of age.
As you can see it’s not only small children! Young adults need to be aware of the risks as well. All though it may seem so fun to have your friends pile sand on you at the beach and bury you up to your head, the weight of the sand can actually suffocate you, it is known as “sand drowning”.
So, am I saying don’t let your children play in the sand? No- but if you are going to go swimming you likely take precautionary measures. Maybe teach your children how to swim, or you teach them rules about water safety. It may not be a bad idea to set some rules about Sand playing as well. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Pediatricians throughout the US agree that you should never dig a hold, deeper than your knees.
- It’s not a good plan to lie down in the sand and be covered either.
- Don’t try to create Sand Tunnels as they collapse the most.
There is a difference in being fearful and being aware. I’m not suggesting you should FEAR sand but definitely be AWARE of the risks involved while playing in it. So many of us (myself included) would never have thought it could be as dangerous as it apparently is. I can’t tell you how many times I have taken my little sister in law to the beach when we she was younger and I would close my eyes and work on my tan while she played in the sand next to me. I never thought twice about it- and during those days? She was 7-9 years old, the same age as the little boy who lost his life in San Antonio. It’s incredibly heartbreaking how an innocent moment of child’s play can so quickly turn into a tragedy, but as with any tragedy, we owe it to ourselves (and this little boy) to learn something from it and move forward educating ourselves and our children in regards to Sand Safety.
My Prayers go out to this young boy’s family. May he Rest In Peace.
My Final Blog for this week's *Topic Of Choice*: Homeschool. If you are considering homeschooling and looking for an easy BASE curriculum to follow, or even if you are just looking for some After School or Summer School options- I HIGHLY Recommend Time4Learning.
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"Did you know when Pluto was discovered, Walt Disney was so excited he named Mickey Mouse's dog after it? That's back when they thought it was actually a Planet though."
~My 9 year old son.
My Favorite Tool for Homeschooling
My favorite tool for Homeschool is definitely Time4Learning
. Being that I had JUST made the choice to Home School, I was a little lost and didn't know where to go. Time4Learning
provided many answers.
What are my favorite things?
The record keeping for sure. I love the way that you are able to access multiple kinds of records with ease. You can print them out just like transcripts. The layout is so simple to use! Here is an example of one of the dashboards:
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From this dashboard I can do all kinds of things. I love how I am able to pull up the reports with a few clicks of my mouse to show me my son's attendance- or his student scores.
There are many ways to produce the reports. I can look at a general summary- (all scores or all attendance). Or I can change it to a specific date range and/or subject. This allows me to hone in and see what he is TRULY struggling more in. If he is spending more time on Social Studies, and has lower grades, then I know we need to work extra in these areas.
When we do need to work extra I usually revisit the lesson, and also use google to pull up more information about the subject. Sometimes we will find extra games, or extra worksheets, or something more interactive if we can.
The entire layout of Time4Learning
is incredibly easy to navigate and use.
Another one of my favorite things, are all the options Time4Learning
has to offer. The one that helped me the most? Was the changing of a grade level. My son is very good in Math and Science, but - if you read my blog yesterday
- you know he was struggling severely in Reading and Writing. I simply went to the Parent Tools, and clicked "Change Grade Level". From there I had multiple options. I opted to change ONLY Language Arts for him, and we brought it down a level. Soon, we will be requesting to bump him UP a level in Science. All his other Subjects are currently "On Level".
As you can see, you can also add more students if you have more kiddos to Home School. My ASD child will be starting this actual Curriculum in February. Then I will be able to manage both my Students from the same screen vs having different accounts.
The activity scheduler is also a very handy little tool. When we first signed up? I just told it how long I wanted my son to be "in school" - from there it planned out and charted every week's lessons so that I was able to print them either by the dates we wanted to try to complete them by- or by the subject. This way- if you move at some subjects at a faster rate you can record your progress (for your own records) there- otherwise you can print the weekly log, which includes ALL subjects, and keep track on that!
What Do I Think Of The Actual Lessons?
The Lessons are GREAT!
For your average kiddo- who is probably 2nd grade and up? I would say most of it can be done alone with occasional guidance. But- if you have a kiddo like mine? You may need to step in as a more involved 'guide'. I typically sit with my son while he does MOST lessons, when it comes to Science I slink away and get some cleaning accomplished.
And it's not all *ONLINE* either- which is a very important point to add. Yes, your "textbook" reading is online, and there are some online "games" to go with lessons (which is an added plus as it keeps your kiddo engaged) - but in addition to these, you can print worksheets and answer sheets, and you also have reading recommendations for various subjects throughout the lessons. So you can go to your library and pick up a recommended book that will coincide with what your kiddo is learning!
I also love the fun experiments they give you directions to for Science, or the art projects that can Coincide with subjects like Social Studies- for instance- we had a MARVELOUS time doing *Incan Weaving* with construction paper as per the direction included in our lesson plan!
The Bottom Line
If you need some help getting started in Homeschool, or if you are looking for something to help your kiddo in 'after school' or if you want to keep your kiddo busy through the summer? I highly suggest to take advantage of this program. It costs only $20/month for the first student and $15 for each student after. You can even make your account dormant for the time you may not be using it. Overall - just an extra tool- or a main tool that makes learning fun!
*See What My 9 Year Old Has To Say Below!*
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So What Does My Son Have To Say?
What is your favorite thing about Homeschool?
My favorite thing about Homeschool is that it I get to spend more time with my Mom. I like how my Mom teaches me, and changes things so I can understand them. Sometimes I don't understand things the first time, but my Mom is good at teaching me the same stuff in a way I can understand.
What is the biggest difference between Homeschool & Public School?
In homeschool I can be a little sillier and have fun while I learn, I also get to take breaks and move at my speed. If I'm almost done with school, and I don't want to be I can choose to keep going, I usually do that in Science because it's my favorite. I did that today. I wanted to do a whole extra chapter. Social Studies is harder for me so I like that I can just do a little at a time and take more time if I don't understand. Public School put more pressure on me than Homeschool does.
What do you mean more pressure?
When I would see kids finish before me I would get nervous I wasn't going at the right speed.
What is your favorite thing about Time4Learning?
My favorite thing about TIme4Learning is they way they have (animated) pictures that goes along with the reading. The pictures move while we read about the lesson so it's kind of like reading a cartoon.
Okay, that was your favorite thing, is there anything else you like about Time4Learning?
I love the Lessons that are like game shows the most. In Math I get to play along with JT & Rita on the Awesome and Fun Show. In Science I get to explore the planets with Mika and Lucas and play all kinds of games with them. My favorite Science game was "Hoopin' up the Solar System". I had to "throw" each planet into the right hoop to show the order of the the planets.
If you could change anything about Time4Learning what would it be?
They have these videos in Math of kind of annoying people (not animated) and I wish they were more entertaining.
Would you rather use a program like Time4Learning, or learn the way you did at Public School?
I like the way Time4Learning teaches me. I'd much rather stay in that than go back to Public School. Public School was much more boring.
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Why did I take the Death Defying Leap into Home Schooling? ^(See Pic Above) ^
As I have said all week long - In no way am I telling you EVERYONE should home school. Home Schooling is a personal choice but the photo I chose to post above- completely depicts my own personal reasoning... I have seals and monkeys......
Oldest: 9 - Asperger's, Sensory issues, and undoubtedly ADHD. Problem: I didn't want to put a stimulant in my now 4th grader. YES- Stimulants CAN WORK WONDERS. My personal decision is merely because: his brain is still developing- I haven't tried EVERY other option- and IF I can help it? I'd like to hold off on the stimulants although I know they are inevitable. What to do?
Well I was teetering on that *what to do* aspect. For a good LONNNNNNG while. Home School? Are you NUTS? I couldn't do it. I couldn't . NO Way No Way NO WAY! I found myself giving my OWN "Time Outs" just while working on homework. Usually because my son didn't get it- and we *had* to get the work done - it was due the next day- and I didn't have TIME when he walked in the door at 3:30 to "re-teach" the lesson he learned at school- isn't that what SCHOOL IS FOR? HELLO? (these were my legitimate thoughts) ... Some nights we'd be working right up to 5:00 PM when we ate dinner. He had NO play time- he was struggling he was stressed, then came the state standards tests and he started having actual anxiety attacks. All this may sound horrific? But- I still wasn't giving in. I have a VERY CAPABLE kiddo! (we all do) - I emailed every teacher from Kinder, asking questions- being I have ADD and (well at the kinder time we didn't know Dad has Asperger's- but he had a *learning disability*) I knew my kiddo was prone to ..... struggles. I wanted to stay on top of it- I did after school, summer school- I listened to the teachers. I did what they told me. NOTHING. WAS. WORKING.
The *BIG* ...FIRST... Issue. In 1st grade I was told my son was behind in his reading skills. I ELECTED to put him in a SCHOOL BASED tutoring program. I saw the "Paper Results" and was thrilled- I met with the teachers "Oh he is getting so much better!" - WHEW that was close. I mean ... You have to read- Right?
We went from first grade to second. At the beginning of second grade he tested below on his reading skills. My response? "Man... I so dropped the ball- we must not have focused enough on reading over the summer." Again I ELECTED to enroll him in the SCHOOL BASED tutoring program, I emailed, I talked and I was told: "Oh he is progressing WONDERFULLY!" YAY! I wouldn't be this *stupid* next summer.
The summer between 2nd & 3rd we read nearly EVERY DAY. I was entirely confident that upon entering 3rd grade? ALL WOULD BE WELL! Then came the call. "Your child's fluency is lacking and he doesn't read well, are you familiar with our SCHOOL BASED TUTORING program?" - Again - I signed the paper but by now? I'm scratching my head. This is my first born.... I don't know ANYTHING! Why is he behind? What am I doing WRONG?
I called EXTRA conferences with the teacher in 3rd grade, she gave me TONS of tips to try at home- which I did EVERY SINGLE ONE. Then? I became very concerned about my son's attention. He is easily distracted (hence the undoubted ADHD). Being I'm not ready to put him on a medication just yet- because I like to try a therapeutic approach first?I started by giving him sensory tools, then I followed the chain of command- I spoke with the counselor and I asked if he could take reading tests in a "quiet room" - she said "FOR SURE" - (she had a child with Asperger's for the record and had MUCH understanding of my life) . She instructed me to email the teacher, notify the teacher I had spoken with HER and make a request. I did. No Response. A week went by. I did- AGAIN. No response... Then my son came home one day in tears.
"My teacher told me if you think I need so much extra help that I need to see a doctor and get a slip of paper. Is there something WRONG with me?"
WAIT... HOLD ON... WHAT?! Now my blood is boiling - I'm juggling therapies with my Autism Child(which my eldest is essentially an Autism Advocate and understands SO much more about Autism than he should) , yet I know he HIMSELF is struggling, I am trying to raise a toddler and my Husband? Is gone 265 days a year. YOU CAN'T GIVE HIM A FLIPPING READING ROOM? Okay okay okay.
I didn't lose my cool with her just yet- I went the self diagnosis route because my son wasn't ONLY struggling in READING- it was WRITING as well. I started learning about Dysgraphia
. I found a video- and sent it to his teacher with the question of- "Do you think that this description fits my son?" - She responded (OH HOW NICE- TO THAT email) - "I'm not able to diagnose your child" - I emailed her back, "I completely understand that you are CLEARLY not qualified to offer a diagnosis - but being that you are the one teaching my son the question still is: DOES. HE. DISPLAY. THESE. SYMPTOMS. Teachers are often the 2nd parent and as you can see I am trying to help my son, so the slightest bit of effort on your part would be greatly appreciated."
Yeahhhh That didn't go over WELL -but she did say my son seemed to fit the criteria and he needed a doctor and medication.
Oh RIGHT! You aren't able to diagnose him- but you can tell me he needs meds... KISS MY .... *AHEM* ... Moving on.
Now we shall fast Forward. After these experiences? I decided I wanted to home school- I was LOST - Where to start? This is when Aimee stepped in BIG TIME and started helping me (if you missed her blog on starting to Home School you can find it Here)
So- In August of this year? I began home schooling my children. I found many resources- (which I will be sharing in another blog) - but I worked all summer long to get ready. On the first day? I did "Assessments" - Do you know what I found? My son was not at a FOURTH grade reading level as he should be- what they PASSED him to- he fell in between 2nd & 3rd! FURTHER more- now here I am in January - and guess what else we have discovered? That my son LIKELY HAS DYSLEXIA! Isn't that the school's job to "Catch" - isn't that why we put faith in our Public Education System?
Now maybe your kiddo learns just fine, maybe your kiddo is able to keep up- but for SO MANY who are not??? Where does the public education system leave them?
This- Is why I started to home school. The "No Child Left Behind" act (as depicted in the picture above) - was leaving MY CHILD in the dust. Why? Because he wasn't a MONKEY. He wasn't even LIKE a monkey - I surmise he's more of a FISH - he can't even get out of his bowl (WITHOUT HELP) to Breathe and climb that tree- in many aspects at least! Now- if we are talking science he's a bird and doesn't even have to CLIMB the damn tree- he just flies to the top of it.......
However. ALthough it has taken trial & error. I can report to you now? That my son? Is FLOURISHING in School- we are still behind in reading - but he is about to pass 4th grade science and math. He moves at his own rate - and I couldn't do it without HELP- I use many resources as I said- and I can't wait to share more of those with you tomorrow- But here is my story- on why - I took the DEATH DEFYING LEAP to home school- it's a personal choice- maybe not right for you- your kiddo may not *need* it - but mine did- and I'm THRILLED that I finally gave it a try!
And it's not nearly as hard as I thought it would be!
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So last year by now? I was pulling my hair out. I had HAD it! I didn't know what to do- there is no way I could put up with my 4th Grader's school anymore- especially after I went through all the channels, asked the school councilor if he could have a quiet room just to take reading tests in, as I was trying to figure out where all his struggles were. The councilor said "NO PROBLEM! Just email the teacher, let her know you've spoken with me, and we'll get it set up." I did just that. Nothing happened. I emailed again. NO response. Then? My son's teacher told him, "If your Mom thinks you need so much extra help she needs to take you to a doctor and get you a note that says that." - YES- SHE TOLD HIM- Not me- HIM.
I know my son struggles, he probably needs a stimulant- and I will say from my own experience stimulants helped me immensely with my ADD, but I was in 8th grade. I just have personal feelings about trying everything *first* and using medication as a last resort- at least until his brain has matured a little more. Some kiddos just need it - and I think if mine WERE still in public school- we would DEFINITELY need it. But- I decided to give Homeschool a try instead. (More from me and my experiences thus far- later this week!)
If you are thinking about homeschooling- I encourage you to read Aimee's words. I am honored to that she would share her infinite wisdom on the subject with my fans as well. And if you like what Aimee has to say- you can always follow HER blog HERE!
From Aimee's Desk
Thinking about homeschooling? Let’s talk…
Homeschooling is wonderful, amazing, exhausting and awe inspiring; it parenting at its best. Home education is NOT a new idea; public schools with age serrated classrooms are the new idea.
I personally see home education as a natural progression of parenting. You taught your child(ren) to walk, you can teach them to read. You gave them the encouragement to learn to put on their socks; you can give them the encouragement necessary to master French verbs.
If you are thinking about homeschooling – here are a few steps to get you started:
Read, Read, read and read some more. (look here:https://scribinglife.wordpress.com/bookshelf/what-i-have-read-recently/
if you want to see a tally of my reading).
Read about homeschooling, read about education in general, read about child development. The more you read the less foreign the idea and principals of home schooling will seem to you. The more you read the less “obvious” pubic schools where kids sit with only age peers for hours on end without opportunity to be a child will seems. As read about the history of education, you will see how new the idea of factory pubic schools really is. You will start to find your “place” and feel more confident. If you are unsure if home education is really best for your family; that will become clear to you too. Reading builds confidence, reading gives you faith, and reading builds a foundation that you can later return to. Realize it won’t all matter to you now
, but if you need to, you can always revisit it later. Read, read, read, read. If your library has an internet search, sit down after the kids are in bed and search. Browse Amazon
. The wealth of information will floor you. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
• The Well Trained Mind. http://www.amazon.com/Well-Trained-Mind-Guide-Classical-Education/dp/0393067084/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1356715952&sr=1-1&keywords=the+well+trained+mind
• Home Learning Year by Year: How to Design a Homeschool Curriculum from Preschool Through High Schoolhttp://www.amazon.com/Home-Learning-Year-Homeschool-Curriculum/dp/0609805851/ref=pd_sim_b_26
• Books to Build On: A Grade-by-Grade Resource Guide for Parents and Teachers (Core Knowledge Series) http://www.amazon.com/Books-Build-Grade-Grade-Knowledge/dp/0385316402/ref=pd_sim_b_39
• The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Educationhttp://www.amazon.com/The-Core-Foundations-Classical-Education/dp/023010035X/ref=pd_sim_b_38
• Homeschool Basics: Christian Homeschooling in a Classical Stylehttp://www.amazon.com/Homeschool-Basics-Christian-Homeschooling-ebook/dp/B00A4NQIWC/ref=sr_1_14?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1356717002&sr=1-14&keywords=homeschool
• The First Year of Homeschooling Your Child: Your Complete Guide to Getting Off to the Right Start http://www.amazon.com/First-Year-Homeschooling-Your-Child/dp/0761527885/ref=sr_1_15?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1356717002&sr=1-15&keywords=homeschool
• Homeschooling: Taking Control of Education!http://www.amazon.com/Homeschooling-Taking-Control-Education-ebook/dp/B00A2A26L4/ref=sr_1_18?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1356717002&sr=1-18&keywords=homeschool
• Back to Homeschool http://www.amazon.com/Back-to-Homeschool-ebook/dp/B0088IQ3PM/ref=sr_1_21?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1356717002&sr=1-21&keywords=homeschool
• Educating the Whole Hearted Child -- Third Editionhttp://www.amazon.com/Educating-WholeHearted-Child-Third-Edition/dp/1932012958/ref=pd_sim_b_37
Craft a family mission statement. This can be as complex or as simple, as detailed or as general as you need. Here is mine:https://scribinglife.wordpress.com/education/family-education-mission-statment/
A Mission Statement
will serve your family well; it will be your foundation, your justification. It will renew you and motivate you, it will convict you. What do you want for your child(ren)’s education and why is home the best environment for reaching those goals? The process of writing the MS
will help you crystallize your goals, short and long term, and your reasons for home educating your children. This exercise will make you more confident in your choice and also in talking to others about your choice.Make friends with your librarian.
I mean become best friends
. Know your librarians pet and favorite coffee. The library is your best tool; both for deciding what you want to do and for doing it. Become an Inter-Library-Loan veteran. I strongly suggest you request at the library every book, read it, and then if you feel it is worth it, buy yourself a copy. There are so many books out there, about education, about the home school movement and about all the various approaches to homeschooling, immerse yourself and enjoy. Enjoy it without remorse; if you request a book and can’t read it past the first chapter, return it at no loss. Most local libraries won’t have even ¼ of the books you search for on their own shelves, but they can get them for you. Once your decision is set you will continue to use the library and ILL to continue your own education as well as for material and books for the actual process of educating your children; be it a specific book you want the kids to read, or you want to read aloud or be it a cook book for enrichment time. Your library will be your go to place, and your local librarian your go to person.Gather a support network.
You will find a support network invaluable. Yahoo Groups offers tons of groups, some location specific, and some brought together by interest (math, unschooling high school). Also look for local LIVE support groups many have park days or other options for relaxed social time. One place to find a local group ishttp://www.hslda.org/
though any internet search will also lead you to groups. There are many message boards (one of the best being: http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/
)The Well Trained Mind message board
– large, diverse and very active- out there too. It is not the same as seeing someone at park day, but the wider reach often allows you too meet and talk to more people. Your support network will give you concrete advice when your child just is not “getting” long division and they will be your emotional support when your in-laws think you are crazy. One of the most important things that a support network offers is a sense of normalcy. Let’s face it most of our culture assumes children of 5 march off to school 8+ hours a day, assume home work fights and school fund raisers. It is nice to talk to someone, live or on a message board, that understands the struggle of taking kids to (or finding day time childcare for) everything doctor and car appointment you have. The longer you are around home educating families the more normal it will seem to you. I was blessed with a number of homeschooling families to mentor me and I have thus never doubted that home education is in the best interest of my boys. It is also important for children to have peers (age same or not) that home school so they have a sense of normalcy too. If all their buddies get on a bus at the crack of dawn each day, they are not going to see the benefit of phonics or world history taught on the sofa. Frequent social activates with a mixed age group of home schooled peers does wonder for a child sense of “normal”.Find an approach that fits your family.
This should occur naturally as an outgrowth of your reading. It has to fit your goals and also your personality. As you get in to educating your child(ren) you will have a better idea of which style works for them; but at the end of the day the approach you choose needs to meet your needs as parent, as goal setter and as teacher. There are as many variation of home education as there are families. A Classical approach, unschooling, school at home, Charlotte Mason, Classical, Montessori, waldorf, and the list goes on. Remember they are not mutually-exclusive but are more like flavors to be blended. For example you may choose to seek a Classical Education for your children, but while they are young you may follow a Charlotte Mason approach (shorter lessons, lots of nature); if you choose to follow a Montessori approach while the children are in grade school, by high school you may find yourself moving toward a more challenging Classical education, or toward a more student driven unschooling approach. Your home schooling will change over time, as your children grow and change and as you find the best fit for your family, and indeed for each child within your family.
Home education will bless your family, your children and your relationship with your children in boundless ways – it is a commitment, but so was adding a child to your family.
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So What's Next?
I am SO Looking forwarding into blogging again. I realize it's kind of like air for me- yet - for a while I felt my life was so dramatic I couldn't handle it any more. Just because sometimes people are mean... rude... or maybe it's just insensitive. I felt for a while every time I posted there was one *bad apple* who made me feel like CRAP and blogging was supposed to HELP me....
However- I'm over it now... I'm taking a bit of my own advice and going to just do what I do! I'm going to just be me... so you can like me- or not- if not - just do it silently and move on ... Negativity breeds Negativity and no one needs it!
If you are new to reading my blogs- here is a little background- Those cutie patooties up there are my kiddos! They are: Soon to be 10, 6 1/2, and just turned 3.
When I started my whole "Autism Advocacy" - it was because my 6 year old (who was then 3) was diagnosed with Autism. I spent so much time studying it, learning about it, I was a blogger on for our local Newspaper's website (San Antonio Express News)
for a while, and I worked as a Marketing Assistant for a company that provided Diagnostics for children under 5 with Autism (Autism Community Network)
. Then I started doing my own thing, which led me to want to start Fencing For Autism
Here though- is the *RAW* and personal side of me- where I let my hair down- just share what I think, cry sometimes... or laugh- and DEFINITELY rejoice!
I tend to have a positive spin to life. Although- I write most passionately when I'm pissed off ... I have good things to share and say when I'm not! I'm not saying I lack passion in every day life- but boy - when I get mad I will will just rattle things off in a way that seems- so much more professional and appealing. I really don't know why.
I'm passionate about Autism- but... it doesn't piss me off. People do. But not Autism. No Autism FUELS my life!
After this summer however I'm pretty sure- unlike the US- I have an abundance of FUEL.
So, first- Yeah found out the hubby has Asperger's a year ago this November... I don't know how we missed it- but I am thankful that we figured it out! Some things just frustrated me all the TIME (now they make SO MUCH MORE SENSE!) - We've been together 12 years- well 11 actually - January 17th will be officially 12 years- and the day after I am sure I will start rounding to 13... I count a year ahead often just because I think I've put more time into my relationship than truly fits into the actual amount! We both have though- I assure you.
Marriage is definitely not a one way street, but what I have learned in my growing time on this earth, is that when you throw any *Awesomeness* into the relationship - it comes with complications too. Any relationship is complicated- but invisible disABILITIES tend ... to make it a lot more perplexing in my opinion.
Hubby and I fit together though- I will tell you that! I don't come without my own baggage- I was diagnosed in 1996 with ADD (you know when that still existed?) - Now it's called "ADHD Inattentive" or something like that. I have friends who were diagnosed with ADHD - and we have clear differences in our ABILITIES- but ... *THEY* just keep changing the groups we all belong to. I wonder when *NORMAL* will get the attention it deserves with classifying groups?
Overall we are just people- with issues. Every single one of us. I wish the whole world could see that. Whether it's Asperger's, Autism, ADD err ADHD, or other *invisible* - or VISIBLE disABILITIES- in the end we are all just people- we all struggle, none of us are perfect the REAL goal in life is making it all work, irregardless of what your *issues* may be. I think I should have been a Hippie though (like my awesome *RIP* mother) because it's true! All you need is love!
So, Our three beautiful children *patent pending*.. What's up with them?
Well first let me talk about "A's" - that's what the kids call him. When I say "Kids" that's because- he- being the oldest refers to his little brothers as "The Kids". It often makes me laugh- but in all reality? It's not so funny. The reason being: He's had to grow up AWFULLY fast. I once had the pleasure of being interviewed by a local news show- I was set to talk about Autism- and I ended up talking more about how it effected my oldest at the time. I said, "He's grown up faster" - and he had and continually does.
Lucky for US - he does it willingly - although that doesn't make me feel better as a parent- and- this past summer we learned that he- Very likely has Asperger's. He fits all the criteria but I'm just not sure I want to make it *Official* yet. He's grown up watching the stigma with Autism and his Brother. He knows an awful lot about Autism. But he is STILL a kid and I am just not sure if he is ready to *digest* the fact that he too- like my WHOLE family - is a bit AWESOME ... errr different - however you prefer to see it!
Here is a glimpse at HIS AWESOMENESS:
The *REAL* Autistic
My Middle Kiddo- who I affectionately call "Peeky" is the one with "real" Autism. I mean nothing derogatory by this comment. What I mean is- His *official* diagnosis would be: Autism Spectrum Disorder, Auditory Processing Disorder, Severe Sensory Processing Disorder and Probable ADHD.
He is the TEACHER. Yep! The backbone of our family in so many ways- he may tear apart the house but he puts it back together in every other way. Each of us have a *special* spot for him in our hearts. Both the kiddos older and younger are super protective. And DAD was THRILLED because he felt an "obvious" bond with him. Like he "got" him.
Before I had Peeky? I had no REAL passion about anything. No clue what I wanted to do with my life. I knew I wanted to help people, and for a while I helped children who were abused (as I was) - and I families who were going through divorce. I dabbled in this and that but nothing felt like I could do it FOREVER- that is until I learned about Autism.
I remember watching my son when he was VERY young. He never wanted to be held, he didn't crawl, he really never talked, but he would do things that would blow my mind. For the longest time I kept saying "Something is off" but then he'd do something extraordinary and I'd think- "He's SO FREAKING SMART!" It was a crazy roller coaster (and still is) but an Autism diagnosis filled in the blanks for sure.
At first I think I had more meltdowns than he did! Now, we kind of have them "together" - I will be thankful FOREVER that I got the most important job of being his Mama!
The Little Mix
If you took my WHOLE family and rolled us up into a GIGANTIC PLAY DOH BALL - you'd have my youngest. He- is the "highest functioning" (yes of ALL of us) in my opinion, clearly struggles with severe SPD- but - I am sure- if Asperger's still exists when he is old enough- he will fall into that category as well.
He's super smart- but opposite of my ASD child- he is also SUPER SENSITIVE. When he was little - and sitting in his bouncer- my ASD kiddo would walk by- he'd reach out and then you'd just see the disappointment when there was no attention received.
Fast forward 3 years....
MORE than enough attention. These two "P" & "L" ... are at each other's THROATS. In many ways they are the "same age"- in some L is even older! The most precious moments are when they are teaching each other- the worst moments is when they fight over "A's".
Either way- I know one thing is for sure. L stands for LUCKY - because he sure is LUCKY I have some experience in raising children for his sake! I am a MUCH better mother NOW in my opinion- maybe it's my older age... maybe it's more like the way it works for a dog- after a few litters you calm down- either way- I really have the patience to ENJOY raising my youngest- EVERY.STEP. of the way!
Summing It Up
My favorite things to share on Lindsay's Top Tips- are my favorite things that have worked for me! You can see more of those by clicking any of the following. I hope you will join me on my journey - and share me with your friends as I am a bit of an attention hog. I do love the spot light- and helping any one *like me* - or not- along the way is just an added bonus!!
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