Warning: Humor alert!

I’m sorry I’ve been absent so much. It’s just that it’s been such a quiet (yay!) summer so far, I haven’t really had much to say. I’m working on a post about Reed’s new therapist, but it’s not ready yet, so while you wait, check out this hillarious joke that was sent to me on Myspace (thanks for the laugh, Darlene).

A guy is flying in a hot air balloon, and he’s lost. He lowers himself over a field and calls to a guy “Can you tell me where I am and where I’m headed?”“Sure. You’re at 41 degrees 2 minutes and 14 seconds North, 144 degrees 4 minute and 19 seconds East; you’re at an altitude of 762 meters above sea level, and right now you’re hovering, but you were on a vector of 234 degrees at 12 meters per second”“Amazing! Thanks! By the way, do you have Asperger’s Syndrome?”

“I do! How did you know that?”

“Because everything you said is true, it’s much more detail than I need, and you told me in a way that’s no use to me at all.”

“Huh. Are you a clinical psychologist?”

“I am, but how the heck did you know that??”

“You don’t know where you are. You don’t know where you’re going. You got where you are by blowing hot air. You put labels on people after asking a few questions, and you’re in exactly the same spot you were 5 minutes ago, but now, somehow, it’s my fault!


Just call me the Autism fairy

Lately, I’ve come to calling myself the Autism Fairy (like the tooth fairy, but without the tiara and I don’t give out money. Sorry.). It seems everywhere I go, I meet other parents or loved ones or friends of parents of kids on the spectrum. It seems like most of them are newly diagnosed and floundering a bit. You know, like I am was not too long ago. So it feels good to share with them all the progress Reed has made over the last year and a half. To suggest a few things that have worked so well for us recently. To point out my bright little sunshine of a boy playing interactively with the other kids at the playground.

 Owen and I were at a birthday party recently for one of his little friends (her birthday is the day after his). Because she has special needs herself, many of the party guests come from her EI class. My friend (the birthday girl’s mom) pointed out a mom and little girl on the far end of the park and mentioned that the little girl was recently diagnosed as autistic, on the classic autism end of the spectrum. She sort of hinted that it might be nice for her friend if I introduced myself, so Owen and I made a point of wandering their way. Owen jumped right in, not paying much attention to the girl, which seemed fine by her. The mom and I made casual conversation while watching them slide, and finally she made a comment about the diagnosis, to which I replied that I also had a child on the spectrum. She was intrigued and started asking questions. I explained how we came to have him tested and what we had done since then. She asked if we could recommend any doctors as she was unhappy with some of theirs. And then she asked about school. As I explained Reed’s school situation and the progress he’s made, her face brightened. Her eyes lit up like a kid on Christmas and you could practucally see the heavens open and the beam of light shine on her. I’m fairly certain I heard a chorus of angels coming from somewhere (but it might have just been the “Happy Birthday” song from the next party over). After a while, she packed up her daughter and they headed for home, but it felt good to give her some hope for the day. I know her daughter’s situation is different from Reed, but it didn’t matter. She needed to hear a success story. The doctors had been giving her statistics and predictions and they weren’t good. She needed to hear that sometimes, sometimes it turns out okay. That a kid who happens to have Autism can also have friends and excel in school and be brilliant and funny and adorable. Because they can.

 If this gets to be a regular thing, I may have to buy a tiara.

Can I have one? Pretty please?

Ok, I don’t normally do this, but I want this diaper bag so badly. Go here to enter too. Since Owen’s in the midst of potty training, I’ve had to resurrect the diaper bag, which I had stopped carrying for a long time. We need spare clothes and pull ups, plus the travel potty seat thing. All these things would technically fit in my purse, but who wants that? So I’ve entered to win a fab little diaper bag and want to win it ever so badly, since I could never in a million years convince Heath I need to buy another one with Owen on his way to being out of diapers.

 Steph of Strollermama has such awesome taste. I totally wish she was my best friend. Hey, since we have the same name, think anybody will believe it’s me? No? Ah well, worth a shot. ;]

Moving on up

Reed has 10.5 days of school left until summer vacation. This has gotten me thinking lately about how far he’s come since we started at this school at the beginning of Kindergarten. Preschool in the local school district was a nightmare, so we made the decision to move to a Charter school 15 miles from home. I am so glad we did. I cannot imagine where Reed would be if we had tried to stick it out in the city schools. Granted, we didn’t have a diagnosis then, but they weren’t the least bit interested in helping him. They were only interested in what he could get for the school. They were almost drooling at the thought of the FM sound-field he’d get as a hearing impaired student, but didn’t want to do any testing to qualify him. Instead, they expected me to drive him 60 miles to his audiologist, even though they knew I had no car at the time. Yeah. Not gonna happen. He ended up not getting anything at all because they were just completely unwilling to help with anything. They actually threatened to suspend him from Preschool for behavior issues, and told us on numerous occasions to do something about him. As if we weren’t already trying.  Within just a few weeks of starting Kindergarten, his new teacher had picked up on a few behaviors that I was oblivious to (Reed is my first child, so how was I supposed to know all kids weren’t like this?). I mentioned them to his behavioral therapist, who diagnosed him with PDD-NOS. I mentioned this to his teacher the next day, and she quickly scribbled down all the information I could give her (which wasn’t much at that point) and promised to look into it. I got a call from the school psychologist a few days later asking for permission to begin testing him for ASD, and asking if we’d agree to let them assign him a one-on-one aide to see if it helped. I was elated. Finally we had found a place that wanted to teach him. They genuinely wanted to help him, and they were. Gradually, the outbursts at school grew fewer and farther between. He loved his aide, and began to love school too. We upgraded his diagnosis to Asperger’s in the spring and haven’t looked back. Well, that’s not true. It seems all I can do is look back. And I’m liking what I’m seeing.

This year has been so fabulous, I’m almost afraid to talk about it for fear of jinxing it. So far this year, he’s only had 2 days that his teacher described as “not good” and one of those we realized after the fact that we’d forgotten his morning meds. Things got even better when we discovered the magical vitamin that makes him sleep through the night almost every night. I am so proud of him I’m practically giddy. He has been filling his sticker chart like a madman, and is a mere one sticker away from the 2nd to best prize. One more week and he’ll win the grand prize: an expansion pack for his train set. I guess I better start saving up my money, huh?

I’d like to take a moment to tell you about the fantastic people who have helped Reed get to where he is at school. First, his Kindergarten teacher who was the first to catch on to some important clues that led to diagnosis. I am so grateful for her comments in that parent-teacher conference. She was kind and mentioned them not as accusations, like the last school, but as observations. She was very patient with Reed all year, even when he overturned the bookcases at the end of nearly every school day for the first 6 months of school. You have to really love your students to put up with that. Then there was his first aide, Mrs. C.  Reed’s birthday is just a few days off from her grandson, who lived out of state. She loved him like her own flesh and blood even though she wasn’t supposed to get attached. She brought him little trinkets all the time, and sent him emails a few times a week telling him how proud she was of some accomplishment or letting him know in advance what was coming up in the classroom. He was very upset when she moved across the country. She still emails occasionally to ask how we’re doing. She played an important role in his turnaround in school, and will always hold a special place in my heart. His teacher this year is so wonderful I scarcely know where to begin. If you looked up ‘structure’ in the dictionary, you just might find her picture. Her classroom is ordered, her students well behaved. She has complete control over that classroom every time I stop in, and yet she’s almost always joking with a student or offering someone encouragement or help with an assignment. She doesn’t let them get away with anything, but it’s not because they’re afraid of her. They respect her, and for 7 and 8 year olds that’s saying something. I’m selfishly hoping they keep Reed in this class for another year (he’s in a split class so staying here wouldn’t mean being held back) just so we can have her another year. That’s how much I love Mrs. B. And last, but certainly not least, Mrs. G. I was terrified when Mrs. C announced she was moving. Reed had bonded so well with her that I didn’t think anyone else could possible be as good as she was. Mrs. G proved me wrong tenfold. She is the best thing that has ever happened to him. Ever. Seriously. She can get him to do amazing things. Things that I cannot even get him to do. When she first started, I used to send in little notes in the morning, or drop him off myself so I could warn her about his mood. “He was up early and is wound up.” or “He had a meltdown because we were out of the cereal he wanted. He might take a while to recover.” I don’t have to do that anymore. If he’s having a bad morning, he tells her so when he arrives in the classroom. She can predict how he’ll react to a situation before it even happens and is prepared to help him through it. Substitute teacher? No problem. She has his things moved to her desk and he works with her for the day. School assembly? Piece of cake. She talks to him about it ahead of time and stakes out seats close to the exit in case he needs to get up and take a walk. Even little things like rescheduling a spelling test have some sort of solution already worked out before he ever gets to school. She’s even babysitting both kids for me so I can sit through my brother’s wedding uninterrupted. What’s not to love?

 Okay, I guess that’s enough rambling from me. Off to accomplish something other than Myspace for the day.

Weeds only count as flowers when your children pick them


Happy Mother’s Day

I hope everyone is having a restful and enjoyable Mother’s Day today. I am taking the day off from the kids. I informed them this morning that “we call it Mother’s Day because it’s mother’s day off.” Anytime someone starts to whine “mo-o-o-m!” I remind them that I’m not working today, and they change it to “da-a-a-d!” LOL I even got a nap this afternoon. Yay me!

One last post before I forget

It doesn’t look like I’ve gotten around to posting any recent pictures of the kids, other than the scrapbook pages I posted a couple weeks ago. I have some favorite new pictures of Reed that I just have to share. Click the pictures to enlarge. =]

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Minor update on The Little One

Owen had his follow-up MRI yesterday afternoon. It went really well for him. Not as well for me, but no biggie. I sort of passed out watching them put in the IV. It was a combination of being mildly squeamish (although IV’s don’t usually bother me), overtired, and undernourished. Owen couldn’t eat for 6 hours before the sedation, and I didn’t want to eat in front of him, so I skipped lunch (I was planning to eat breakfast with the kids, but got busy getting everyone out the door on time and ran out of time).

A few minutes in a chair and I was fine, and I had a lovely lunch in the hospial cafeteria while Owen was getting scanned. It all works out.  *sheepish grin*

Just when I think things are settling down around here…

Reed has been doing so great at bedtime lately. We haven’t had any more incidents in a long time. We started a new sticker chart recently, with prizes scattered randomly throughout the chart. The ultimate payout is an expansion track pack for his train set. He was one sticker short of his first prize. I was sure we were home free for the week. So would anyone like to guess what he did? Huh? No takers, huh? Okay, I’ll just get on with it then.

He dumped out 13 pounds of sugar in Owen’s bedroom and then poured water over it. I had a brand new 10 pound bag of sugar in the cupboard and a nearly full 5 pound bag of powdered sugar. He poured them out all over Owen’s room, and then threw the packages out the window, as if that would somehow hide the evidence of his crime (he’s not exactly sneaky, now is he?). It took 6 moppings to get the stickiness of the floor. I had to disassemble Owen’s bed and drag the mattress outside to clean it. I’m still scrubbing sugar out of toys.

I was livid. I thought poor Heath was going to have a stroke. We came upstairs Saturday morning to find what looked like a blizzard in Owen’s bedroom (notice he never does this stuff in his own room where his own stuff will get messed up).

I didn’t even know what to do with him. We cancelled our “Daddy Adventure” for Sunday, and instead he sat around at Nana’s house doing nothing (still not much of a punishment but I really needed a break from him after that), while Owen and I went to the metropark and had a picnic without him.

 I was really starting to think we were getting a handle on this. I guess I was wrong.

Questions for the wise and pretty Autism Bloggers

I have been wrestling lately with the how’s and when’s of discussing Reed’s autism with him. My original intention was to wait until he asked and then sit him down and explain it to him. I assumed at the time that he would eventually recognize his difference and be curious about it (especially since he’s mainstreamed in school with and EA and soundfield). Lately, however, I’m doubting that decision. What if he’s noticed this, but hasn’t brought it up? What does it matter if he understands it at all?

 He’s heard me talk about autism a lot. He even helped me with my Autism Awareness Month scrapbook page (“Reed, do you like the black smudgy things or the white ones better?” “White.”). Yet, he didn’t ask. Does he not get it yet, or does he not care? I’m so confused.

So my questions are these:

  1. Does your child know they have autism?
  2. When did you tell your child they are autistic?
  3. Did they bring it up first, or did you?
  4. If you haven’t talked with your child yet (either because you don’t plan to or because they’re not ready yet), how/when do you plan to do it?

Your insights into these matters are always so helpful to me. You lovely ladies always seem to think these things through better than I do. I guess I’m still a little too new at this.

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