Monday, June 27, 2011

Different or just weird?

This is the question I ask myself about Noah pretty much daily. How are other kids going to react to him? He does and says some pretty strange stuff.  Strange if he was a "normal", "neurotypical" kid without the extra dash of autism anyway.  But Noah is just so Noah...and his little quirks and things are so "normal" to me now that only when I am around him and other kids NOT on the spectrum do I see the glaring differences.

See Noah looks just like these other kids, he plays just like these other kids- but the rules of conversation and interaction just don't apply to him.  Noah is "Invisibly Autistic"  because he can't be distinguished from a group of other 8-9 year old kids until he talks. Or bows from the waist. Or attempts to kiss a girls hand.  

I worry, when he begins his new school journey in the fall- how will the other kids react to him? I mean-   he does not have Downs Syndrome or a more apparent disability.  He comes across as a much younger child and at times a very odd one as well. Autism is so hard for a young mind to grasp because it is not concrete- it doesn't LOOK different. Therefore- an autistic person's behavior is "weird" and the chances he will be bullied increase ten fold.

Even for the friends that know Noah very well his behaviors can be confusing. . He is a happy kid and he wants to be their friend, but he does things differently, far different than how they have learned.  Sometimes it is a breakdown in communication- his conversational skills are limited, but it's more like putting a square peg in a round hole- it's not gonna fit. He does not exhibit age appropriate behavior all the time, but then there are times he seems mature beyond his years.

We talk to him often, tell him to slow down, stop and think about what he is saying, explain why hugging everyone is not always appropriate, use his own words and not the words from a TV show..this one is rather funny because when we say that he will tell us "Those are my words" and he means that because he SAID them- therefore they ARE his words... the literal side of Autism- it's black or it's white- no in between.

Dad says Noah knows he is different- but I disagree- I seriously think Noah thinks everyone else is different. So trying to explain why there are people who just don't know HOW to be his friend is very difficult indeed.

But what doesn't seem to bother him at first comes up much later- he holds onto it somewhere and then remembers  it at a later date. Case in point- talking about going to cheerleading practice last year with me, and the bullies he encountered there.  I said- buddy- you are going to be playing football- you don't have to worry about any bullies. To which he replied.."OK- but what if they are mean football players?" *sigh*

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Welcome to Summer Vacation. Sorry if if sucks

The reality of summer vacation never quite equals the fantasy. At least in my mind anyway. Being a teacher I have enjoyed the spoils of summer vacation- the spoils being spending time with my kids, lazy days by the pool, hanging out and just enjoying being a mom. Well, at least until the inevitable barrage of "I'm bored" and He's touching me" begins. Yet even then- I can honestly say I loved summer vacation for quite a few years.
The family that plays together

Then- last year - our financial situation was shit. I needed to go to work. I wasn't happy about it. I started by looking for a bartending job, but because I wasn't 22 with an ass you could bounce a quarter off it didn't pan out. I ended up working in a deli at our local grocery store- working crazy shifts like 1:30-10:00 PM. That meant the kiddos were home alone and mom wasn't around to do ANYTHING with them. I was sad. I was mad. But it was what it was and we all had to deal.

Now I am back in my chosen career- Preschool Teacher Extraordinaire.  But- where I normally wouldn't be working over the summer- now I am. And- I am out of my class and in with the school age kids. I don't mind- I will be out of the school most days on field trips- a good and bad thing as I am taking a bunch of other kids places that I am not taking mine 1) because they are so damn expensive and 2) well- there is no other thing- it is truly all about the $$$. 

I began stressed out- I was so worried who was gonna take care of Noah- 8-9 hours 5 days a week is a lot to ask of Tweenzilla- and she wants to do stuff too.  Then a miracle- Noah's teacher offered to watch him. I was blown away- she and her family are utterly amazing and BONUS- like 10 minutes from my work. SCORE!  And now Tweenzilla (soon to be TEENzilla) can have the house to herself to do her art, watch TV, take random bike rides and just hang out.  So I am very relieved- at least until summer school starts for the boy..I will cross that bridge when I have to.

Another check in the plus column- my boss also has 4 kids and she knows how important it is for me to NOT work until 6:00 every day ( since I also have a 45 minute drive home that is great) and I will have non field trip days off. Of course- there aren't many non field trip days- but I will take what I can get.

Two summer birthdays can be fun
But I still have this mother's guilt that I am not with my kids - therefore I am a bad mom (especially as I take care of other people's kids). I mean summer vacation was just a lazy time..really. Driving kiddos around- feeding all of Tweenzilla's friends when they are over, that kind of stuff.  We aren't a family that travels for various reasons. Noah is interesting to take new places to say the least, and having to take out a third mortgage on the house for a family vacay is not gonna happen. Both of their birthdays are also in the summer- so we usually do a party or something fun for them along those lines.
Up North Michigan is AMAZING

But I still wish I was HOME. Even if we don't go anywhere special- maybe a trip or two Up North,  or a baseball game. But the time I get to spend with them is priceless and they are growing so fast it is quickly approaching the years where they REALLY don't want anything to do with me. My oldest is 20..been there, done that.

Tigers Baseball!!

So I am appeasing myself by compiling a list of reasons why summer sucks- well except for ice cream, not having to wear socks, and more hours in the day. Hoping it makes me feel better.

1) It's hot and humid. 

2) My hair is a mess

3) I hate the way I look in a bathing suit

4)I still have to work

5)Despite the aforementioned working- I am still broke.

6) I have to shave my legs  every single day

Well- that didn't work- I am still feeling like throwing a pity party.  I need more wine.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

You're never too old for a blanket fort

It's official- my two darlings are both out of school for summer vacation. I normally can't wait for the end of school- I love spending time with them- unless they are fighting of course- then I want to sell them to gypsies. But- for the second summer in a row- I am working. Meh.

So I took today off- mostly out of necessity- Noah is done with school and Rylee had a half day and dad took yesterday off. But I intended on making the most of it- we are broke as a joke right now so some homemade fun that doesn't cost a dime is in order.

Now, Noah will gladly rot in front of the damn TV, playing video games, watching endless episodes of Spongebob and rotting his little brain. Getting him to do something that doesn't involve the TV is difficult at best..and my options are limited. If it's not a Nerf Gun battle, lightsaber battle, or most recently a water gun battle- he's not interested. So I figured  my idea to build a blanket fort would be met with much excitement...but it didn't start out like that.

"Noah! Let's build a blanket fort!"

"OK Mom- when I am done playing Lego Star Wars"

Oh crap- that could be hours from I decided to build my own fort- and told him he couldn't play in it. HA! My plan worked! Now he was all into it- so much so he pulled all of the blankets AND sheets off his BROTHER'S bed- not his own because "that will mess it up"
I know he can read that sign. 

After construction was complete- I discovered we had 2 rooms in our fort- so I of course commandeered the larger of them ...and then it was a game to come into "Mom's Room"

The blanket fort is still standing- even though my OCD is in overdrive knowing beds are unmade and my tiny living room is dominated by it- but I rarely get these moments with Noah- autism puts a damper on these spontaneous things- and ADHD usually turns them into a nightmare of him getting way too hyper and spinning out of control. Today was the exception. We had a blast- ate lunch in the fort and read books.
A "few" of his favorite books

Knowing that he will be at the mercy of his older sister and a babysitter most of the summer made today that much more fun.

Well, back to the fort- looks like it has been modified to include light sabers now... wish me luck!
Hanging out with my boy is the shiz

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Tackle Football and Autism

Lucky # 50

So we did it- the hubby and I have Noah signed up for football.  The  mister has been looking forward to this day since it was made painfully clear that the oldest  boy was most emphatically NOT a sports oriented kid.  Having watched my girl in cheer and coaching cheer myself- I have got to see a lot of the little league games and I have been getting pretty excited to see my boy out on the field.

Of course I am cautiously excited- practices are brutal and Noah isn't known for his patience.There is A LOT of running, and sometimes they get yelled at. It's par for the course. We are doing our best to prepare him for this- and will be on hand at practices to help with any issues that might come up.

This will be our second attempt at a team sport- the first was soccer 3 years ago and that was a disaster. He didn't understand why he couldn't have the ball all of the time, complained that his feet were too hot and had at least  1 meltdown where I  had to carry him off the field.  That was not fun.

So we decided that he was too young  for an organized sport at the time. We then signed him up for Tae Kwon Do- a physical activity that also provided opportunity for developing social skills, plus it teaches discipline and patience. He was very successful, but his coordination was still not the best and as it got harder he got more frustrated. Cub Scouts began and that interfered with Tae Kwon Do so we took a break. He had earned his Blue stripe and we planned on returning. That is until it came time for football sign ups.

When the idea of football comes to mind, many parents cringe at the idea of their kids being out on the field playing what’s viewed as such a dangerous sport. Possible injuries to  already sensitive kids are scary challenges parents of autistic kids are faced with. Organized sports, especially contact sports are something most parents of autistic kids would rather just not do. But, just as any sport is beneficial to those without neurological disabilities, they can be just as beneficial as those living with them. The trick is finding the right "fit" I believe. Noah will be starting on a team with boys that are all first year freshmen players, with a great coach. Everybody  knows him, and knows about his autism and there is a level of excitement that makes me feel a little less worried.

As with any sports activity, football is very physical, and while there is a possibility for injury the kids are padded up, put through intense conditioning and have experienced coaches to help them to avoid injuries. That's not to say the first time my kid is in the middle of a pile of other kids I won't be freaking out.

Football has also been proven to be a healthy way of improving motor functioning, behavior skills, and social skills in kids with autism. Some aspects of football may pose a challenge for many such as coordination, socialization, or lack of motivation. But with good coaching and clinics that are offered, most kids should be able to participate and experience success.

So wish my boy luck. Conditioning begins in a few weeks- and in the mean time I am sure dad will be playing with him in the yard.


Friday, June 10, 2011

The Divorce Contagion

If you are a married couple with friends that are divorcing  research  says  your chances of breaking up just increased by 75%. The “break-up” effect drops to 33 per cent if the divorce is between friends of a friend (two degrees of separation) and disappears almost completely at three degrees of separation.

I am guessing that Facebook and other social netowrking sites are included in that "three degrees of separation" part-  but in my circle of friends from Facebook I have developed some pretty close relationships- not counting people I already know and interact with- but complete strangers!  (My husband is not as involved with them as I am- but he knows them by name and nickname and I share a lot of things with him). I talk with a several of them on the phone and we have shared happiness, tears, anger and general tomfoolery. I am looking forward to the day when I get to meet these wonderful women- it will be a get together of EPIC proportions I am sure!

In the last year I have started to see a few  of them head down the road to the BIG D. Divorce sucks- hell I was staring it in it's evil cold eyes not too long ago myself-but I do understand not wanting to be with someone you just don't care for anymore- whatever the reason, and living in abject misery is not worth it.

My reasons were different- there was infidelity involved. Not by me. It was the hardest thing I have ever had to go through  but I wasn't about to throw away 13 years and 3 kids. A year later and we are still together and working our asses off for our marriage.It doesn't always work that way.You can't MAKE somebody love you,want to be with you,or want to work on your marriage.

Back to the original question, IS the divorce contagion applicable to online social groups as well? I mean- I have talked  with my friends about their impending divorces, their desire to be done with a relationship that is clearly  over, their fears, relief and anger- and I think- damn..I am so lucky that my marriage didn't end up another statistic. I listen to them, offer my condolences, offer a drink, and hate their soon to be ex's if that's what they need from me- it's what friends do.

Now- I refuse to believe that me just talking about friends divorcing will cause me to want to get a divorce. If adultery didn't do it- then this sure as hell shouldn't.  But doesn't it make sense that when a friend vents about problems in his/her marriage, you may become increasingly critical of your own relationship?   Are there ways of "inoculating"  your marriage against divorce? Sure there are- and while I am no relationship "expert" - that is a ridiculous title by the way- who the hell is AN expert on relationships?  Every relationship is based on so many different things- how in the world does one become an "expert"?  Maybe well read, and have a lot of knowledge- but I hate the title "expert". However- I digress- I do have some ideas on how to keep a marriage healthy- but they all hinge on BOTH partners wanting it bad enough to work for it- nothing is easy- and nothing will be handed to you.

1)Don’t nitpick every minor defect in your partner, just because your friends might be doing the same. You may start bad-mouthing your spouse to a divorcing friend, to make them feel better. But these words can be very harmful in the long run- festering in your subconscious until you decide your spouse isn't worth it anymore without even giving them a chance.  (I AM a nitpicker and trying SO desperately not to be)

2) Remember your friends attitudes can make you form opinions you might not otherwise form. If you have an issue with something- rather than compare it to what a divorcing friend is going through- talk to your spouse. I have learned one thing- COMMUNICATION IS TANTAMOUNT TO A SUCCESSFUL MARRIAGE!! 

That's it from me- not much. Like I said- these are things I believe to be important- and I believe that a healthy marriage is not going to fall apart when friends' marriages start falling like dominoes.  More than likely those marriages were already in rough shape and not able to be fixed.

I offer condolences and/or congratulations to anyone dealing with divorce right now. Stay safe, and PLEASE PLEASE keep your kids(if you have them) out of the middle of it as much as you can.  Remember- the problems are between you and your spouse as ADULTS. As a teacher- I have seen seen too much of what a nasty divorce that uses the kids as leverage does to the munchkins- they don't deserve that.
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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

To all the haters- Kiss my ass!

So one of my recent blogs has garnered some attention.  And not very welcome attention at that. I am used to being praised to the heavens so this bitch slapping that I have received has truly humbled me.

That is not to say that I think everyone will agree with me, or like what I have to say- not at all. But the comments in the Must Love Dogs blog have gotten way out of hand. My parenting has been called into question, I have been called vile, disgusting, horrible and stupid. All of which I take with a grain of salt and a tequila shot- but the hateful things some people spew really have me kind of upset. For instance- take MrsBecky:
If you got rid of your first dog because you couldn't handle, why the HELL did you think a puppy would be a good idea? I think you are an awful person, but worse, I think you're as stupid as they come. Next time, before making any decision that affects another LIVING being, please do your research and know what the eff you are doing. You disgust me.

OK- fine- whatever...water off a ducks back. Then we had Sophia Campbell :
I have to say that I am appalled by the way you have treated those poor defenceless animals. And I'm even more appalled that you seem to think that the way you have behaved is acceptable. You left your family pet with a humane society and do not even care about whether or not it's still alive? And you are about to do it again? I am ashamed to belong to the same species as you. I'm almost surprised that you didn't give up your son when it turned out he was autistic, just in case he turned out to be too much work for you! I really hope that when you become old and senile and start shitting yourself that your children dump you in a nursing home. Because they will have learned from you that getting rid of something that has become an inconvience is perfectly ok.\\
Whoa! Really lady? You have the balls to come to my blog and equate me not wanting a dog to not wanting my AUTISTIC child?? Bitch- you done fucked up there- do not EVER drag my children into anything or all manners of hell will rain down on your sorry ass. And your deplorable spelling doesn't help either..just sayin.

 And then in my sort of defense, annemercedes said:

Totally inappropriate comment about her child...You might disagree with how she treats dogs...I think its a tough one there, especially for people who love dogs- I get that.But as least she is being honest there.
It has nothing to do with who she is as a mom..That was a cruel and uncalled for comment.Apparently the tentative inability to deal with a child who is " different" poses some kind of question to her..otherwise, why even bring that up?
Dawn, I would not even dignify her with a do not need to defend yourself. 
Now-  this one was kind of back handed- how she treats dogs? Never once did I say I beat them, or hurt them in any way. I despise anyone who can hurt a defenseless animal. The worst I did was flip him off..he was well taken care of- loved Spaghettios and had a nice comfy bed - well pretty much wherever he wanted to lie down. He had toys and treats. He wasn't tied to a stake in the yard and left, he wasn't beaten, he wasn't starved. Just look at the damn picture people!
And then Jes Jou Jester also rallied to my side saying:
are you kidding me? the idea that anyone would take this situation and place it ANYWHERE near the way that you care for you children is appalling. they are the disgusting ones. they should be ashamed. dawn, you are a great woman. you relayed a story. when push comes to shove, it is an animal. i LOVE my animals, but they are ANIMALS. period. 
Thanks to you guys- and a few more who had decent things to say- it is much appreciated and feels good to know there are people who have my back and had something of an understanding of what I was writing about- even if they disagreed. 

But this bitch takes the cake- I am floored by the hateful venom she spews - and I can be as hateful as the next guy- but this takes it to another level. christya said:  (in her first comment)
Wow, you really are disgusting. Sophie's comments might have been out of line, but that doesn't change the fact that a you are NOT a good person. I don't care how many people crawl out of the woodwork to shout about what a good mother you are. You're not a good mother - you're teaching your children that only their comfort and that of their family matters, that they needn't think about the other creatures in this world if it doesn't suit them. People show their true colours when they deal with people or creatures when there are no consequences to doing wrong. You treat dogs as disposable because you can, and that's just vile. If it wasn't for your poor children, I'd be rooting for your husband to take your ridiculous 'get rid of the dog or take it and go' ultimatum and walk out on you. As it is, I just feel sorry for him

f I read your other posts? I did, actually, and there is absolutely nothing there that suggests that you're anything other than a disgusting human being. Your children are fantastic? What, aren't you counting the one you're calling bad for the whole world to see? Have you decided that he just isn't turning out how you want so you don't have to count him? If you think he's so fantastic, how about you stop whining about him to people on the internet. You're a whole new level of vile. Your kids are lucky to have you? No, but sadly for them they'll probably only realize how much you screwed them up when it's too late to stop. You, on the other hand, are so self-obsessed and smug about your nasty little self that you'll probably never see it. Keep looking in that mirror. You might as well stare at the only person you really, truly give a shit about.

Wow.  I just can't believe the nastiness that some people are capable of- especially hiding in the anonymity of the Interwebs.  I mean- this horrible person has no idea who I am, who my family is, or anything. And all this over a damn dog.

Which then calls into question my blog about my oldest kid. That was a pisser to write and even a bigger pisser to publish. But I needed to get it out,  and if my experience can help someone else- or if I can get some help myself  then I accomplished what I set out to do. I love my kid...I just don't like the path he's on right now- and I like it even less that there is not a damn thing I can do about it.

So now I am refusing to look at any comments- fuck the haters as they say. I know who and what I am- and I am proud to be me. I am a good mom, a good wife and a good friend. I can look myself in the mirror every day and know that I am a decent person. Not perfect, I make some HUGE mistakes- but all in all I am happy to be Dawn.  

And just an update to all the assholes- the dog, Jack is about to be adopted into a new (hopefully) forever home. Our friend and neighbor runs the local shelter and has been awesome and amazing in helping to get him placed. Thanks so much - this has made giving him up a little easier on my hubby.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Autism and Chicken McNuggets

Kids are picky eaters. All kids go through stages and phases where they will ONLY eat mac and cheese or refuse to try anything green. My two older kids went through it- my oldest would eat nothing but scrambled eggs for 6 months, my middle darling would only eat Shells and Cheese - none of that blue box Mac and Cheese crap for her.  Eventually they both outgrew those things and both now are willing to go on many culinary adventures.

Then along came Noah. As a baby he could not eat enough. He was a roly poly little guy who was eating cereal from a spoon at 3 months. As a young toddler (1-2 years old) he ate EVERYTHING! I prided myself on the amazing lunches I would make for him when he was in daycare- no lunchables or canned crap for my kid!  Those days came to a screeching halt when he first started showing symptoms of Autism. No more fruits (besides bananas) no more milk, (besides ice cream) no more veggies of any kind and chicken nuggets were the only form of "meat" he would touch.

Good nutrition and autism rarely go hand in hand. Parents often give up and concentrate on other things. Which is exactly what happened to us. Our days of chicken and fries had begun. The kid would seriously eat chicken nuggets and fries for every meal, every day if we would let him. I literally adjusted my routes when out and about with him to try and avoid those damn Golden Arches.  His once varied appetite was now limited to Chicken and fries, Spaghettios, Goldfish crackers, dill pickles, bread and butter, and "circles" (what he used to call salami). He did (and does) have sensory issues- smells and textures will bother him (ha- understatement of the year- he will lose his damn mind)  so some things I don't even bother with- too crunchy, too yellow, too spicy, too, too too. *sigh*

Noah's dinner- all neutral colors- that salad- never crosses his lips
He then proceeded to give things up. No more bananas or strawberries or grapes- things he LOVED, no more yogurt, no more orange or apple juice.Fruit Punch only and only red koolaid..and yes I am aware of red dye allergies and did my own at home test and he did not have an adverse reaction. However- when we first implemented the Gluten/Casein Free diet  as mandated by the DAN (Defeat Autism Now) Protocol we did notice an increase in meltdowns. The Methyl B-12 injections he was getting had made his language explode- but removing the gluten from his diet was insane. Now- I know WHY he acted like this- much like a heroin addict not getting his fix- my child's body was going through withdrawals...FROM GLUTEN! Is that insane or what?  But then when he stopped eating anything all together- I caved and let him have what he wanted. I know, stellar parenting right?  But living with Autism you really need to pick your battles sometimes- and since he did not have the leaky gut issue that so many children on the spectrum have, I decided that there were other more important battles to fight.

So now a typical meal for Noah is chicken (or meat of any kind really), mac and cheese or Alfedo noodles and bread. Recently we went through  a phase of letting him smell everything, touch it with his tongue and eventually try it- ABA (Advanced behavior Analysis)  training at it's finest.  But he still gagged, cried, threw things, and no amount of cajoling, bribery or threats would get him to try anything. I still put things on his plate- but I think he will win this stand off.

I "hide " things in food, juice etc. and I love the book The Sneaky Chef (spinach and blueberry brownies anyone?)  but I think that Chicken McNuggets (any chicken in any nugget form really) are a Charlie Sheen kind of way.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Bad kids = Bad parents?

Hello. My name is Dawn and I have a bad kid.  Now- before all the haters start judging my parenting skills- this bad kid of mine is now 20 years old and  he didn't start out bad. Born to a scared 17 year old girl, and the baby daddy wanted nothing to do with us- yeah- not the most auspicious  beginning.  But I had an amazingly supportive family who doted on him and he was raised in a wonderful home with loving people all around him. So what the fuck happened??

Not that there weren't speed bumps along the way. I mean- 17 years old, a mom, going to night school to get my high school diploma, missing out on the last year of high school with my friends and having to grow up in a hurry- well I was almost set up for failure. And there were no MTV shows for me to get on to glorify being a unwed teen mom. I made my bed (insert sarcastic tone) and I owned up to it and did the best job I knew how to do. Include aforementioned supportive family and I was damn lucky.  A brief relationship with a much older man who turned out to be an abusive bastard was also one of those bumps. Again- my amazing parents were there for both of us- and nobody could say this kid wasn't loved.

My oldest child is an amazing artist, a talented writer and an aspiring musician. He is smart. Scary smart. Even as a young kid he used to amaze me with his genius.  what he lacks is ANY common sense. As kids grow- it is our jobs as parents to instill some common sense in them- age appropriately of course- and as they grow they start coming to common sense conclusions on their own right? Well, not in my son's case.  Even as a toddler- he was never one of those kids that would do something (i.e. put his hand on an open oven door and burn himself) and as a parent I could say "Well- he will never do that again"  He has always insisted that everything be HIS way. And if it wasn't he would do his damnedest to make it happen- most often ending in him being in trouble. 

Luckily I learned VERY early on in raising him that I would have to be extra vigilant- and always try to be at least one step ahead of him to avoid him getting hurt.  I wasn't always able to be though- hence the stitches received because he and some friends at the age of 8 decided to break glass bottles in an alley behind our house, the broken arm from jumping off a fence while supposedly at the library studying in 6th grade and countless other small mishaps over the years.

But physical trauma aside- his insistence that EVERYONE is out to get him astounds me- he truly is convinced that he does nothing wrong and everyone else is wrong and stupid.  He has been this way since being caught stealing treats from the kindergarten treat jar- and then telling the teacher I didn't feed him. He has a serious lying problem. He will lie about anything and everything and do it while looking you dead in the eye.  And where most people have "tells" when they are lying- he has none.

Some people are just born with no sense of remorse, and it shows up very early. Sociopaths are born that way--it's not the parents' fault. This does not mean I think that we as parents are blameless. I believe strong, consistent parenting is very critical to a child's mental and social development- but some kids just can't be reached..and I fear mine is one of them.

We have sought several different counseling methods over the years. His lying spills over into that- and he convinces himself it is the truth. We have had male counselors, female counselors, counselors who wanted to chase the evil from him (that was fucking weird and not at all what we expected) family counseling, individual counseling and have not found ANY answers. I truly believe he has either Bipolar disorder or Oppositional Defiance Disorder- but have yet to find a therapist who will go down that road and help us- or send us somewhere that can.

The last 3 years has been nothing but heartache, stress and misery where he is concerned because he thinks he is the wronged party all the time. He self medicates with alcohol and drugs and stole and totaled my brand new Trailblazer- luckily not hurting himself or anyone else but causing him to rack up almost 7 grand worth of fines and fees and ultimately ended up with him spending three months in jail.

You would think that jail time would straighten him up. Nope.  He recently asked to move home because he needed our help and support. Of course we said yes- he is my kid- I will do anything for him. Since being home he has done nothing but party, "borrow" money, have people over to my house at all hours (after being told REPEATEDLY not to) he is not a good influence on my very impressionable  almost 13 year old daughter or my autistic son.

His dad (step dad- but we have never called him that) and I have told him over and over he will not be allowed to live here if he keeps it up. I'm sorry he says- as if that fixes anything. He has recently been acting in a manner that has us thinking he is approaching a major breakdown..fueled again by alcohol and drugs- and it's terrifying to watch and be helpless to stop it.

I am researching involuntary commitment of some sort- but the state of Michigan SUCKS for finding mental health help. Especially now that he is 20 years old. We went through this shot at 16,17, and 18 too and couldn't find the proper help. He was taken to the hospital by the police in a massive drunken rage and the hospital allowed a 16 year old kid to WALK THE FUCK OUT OF THE HOSPITAL.  Yes folks- walked out- not one person tried to stop him. And I had just walked away from him to have a cigarette because I couldn't take the hateful venom he was spewing at me. I even asked if he should be restrained- and they said Oh no- he is being very cooperative. I felt like a character in one of those movies where nobody believes you when you tell them something bad is going to happen.

The way you parent your child obviously plays the biggest role in how they will "turn out" but at some point, a kid chooses his own path. And while there are bad parents out there- I truly do not put myself or my husband in that category. Society  will judge us as parents, even though we believe that mental illness plays a much larger role in his chronic bad behavior.  

Parenting is a never ending education. Throw in an autistic child and now things really get fun.  I am NOT perfect, and if the perfect mommy is out there reading this- please email me so I can get some helpful hints. 

I don't know are some people just bad people naturally, in spite of their parents’ best efforts?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Must love dogs...well screw that!

We have NEVER had good luck with a dog. Either they were dumb as rocks, or runners. Hubby always wanted a big dog- but we never had the right kind of yard for a big dog.  We have gone through several dogs- including a litter of puppies we found dumped by the side of the road that we ended up taking to the the ASPCA.  When we found out Noah was autistic- I immediately wanted to get a dog- especially after hearing how amazing a pet was for children on the spectrum. We had a cat- (which by the way- I ADORE my asshole cat- as do the kids) but I had researched and thought a dog was the way to go. So I went to the local shelter and found a big ol Shepard looking dog- absolutely beautiful, full of energy and sweet as could be. I immediately adopted him and brought him home. 

We called him Fozzie- and for the first couple of months he was wonderful. We had him "fixed" right away- as it would supposedly calm him down....HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! He then started bolting for the door- and he knew exactly which person in the house he could get by. He knocked my poor Noah down so many times I truly started to hate him. We lived with that crap for a year before I said that is enough. After SEVERAL attempts at finding a good home- including utilizing a rescue society, we finally took him to the humane society. I truly hope he found a good home- I never tried to find out.  

 I declared our house dog free, and the hubby agreed. Until about a year later when he decided we needed a puppy. After looking at several pictures of beagles (we both wanted one of those) and bassett hounds (love them too) we ended up with a cute little ball of fuzzy, fluffy puppy my husband christened Jack. He was sweet, and cuddly and adorable and I loved him- as did the kids.  We discovered early on that we could not afford Invisible Fence for our huge yard- that should have been warning #1. Then financial woes really set in- and we didn't have him fixed. Warning #2 that this was NOT a good plan.  Now that he is 2 years old  the cost has gone up considerably and I have washed my hands of the whole thing. This is my husbands dog..NOT MINE.  Now he bolts the door. Not as much as the last one did- but once is more than enough for me. Oh- and he sheds- giant clumps of hair when he blows his coat twice a year. Fucking gross. Oh- and he digs- giant holes where I USED to have some flowers...hubby will not fill them in and now I cannot have even one or two flowers (which is more than enough because I am not much on gardening either.)

Sp- if you haven't figured it out by now-I am not a dog person. Dogs  are drooling, shedding, noisy pains in the ass that screw up dinner parties (because I have so many of those) chew up your favorite shoes,put kinks in vacation plans, jump on you with muddy paws screwing up the nice outfit you just put on, knock down the small neighbor kids and make them cry, jump all over anyone who happens to walk up your get the point. 

Sure- little balls of fluffy puppy are a-freakin-dorable...  as is just about anything in baby form- it's the grand scheme, but those a-freakin-dorable balls of puppy fluffiness grow into yapping, shedding, drooling eating machines and you have to be a very patient person to make sure you don't end up with a damn Cujo.I am not that person. I do not want to always have to be checking my clothes for dog hair, or apologizing to any guests that might come over for the dog jumping all over them ( oh and don't even get into training with me- I tried EVERYTHING to get that damn mutt of my husbands to not jump up- short of 1000's of dollars on training.) watching the door to make sure the little fucker doesn't run away- causing ME to be completely inconvenienced and have to go to doggy jail and pick him up.

So I have issued an ultimatum- and I hate to do that- it's controlling and unfair- but in this case I feel it is necessary- it's either get rid of the damn dog ( and don't tell me to do it- it's your damn dog- you deal with it) or you go- and take the dog with you. The straw that broke the camel's back? Yesterday- Memorial Day. A beautiful dinner cooked and ready, planning on a sit down with the family with a trip for ice cream after- Noah lets the fucker out. So instead of sitting down with us and eating- hubby goes after the dog. It's 6:00 already- I do not have time for this shit. So instead of a nice dinner at the table- it's kids in front of the TV and me standing in the kitchen pissed off.  I will not be ruled by a four legged nuisance.

And before I am completely villified for disliking the whole canine species- let me say that dogs have many great uses- as service animals they are amazing- if Noah was severely autistic I would definitey be more open to the idea of a service dog (big difference here- LOTS of money and a shitload of training). Those who own and love dogs- good for you! I don't- I never will. I do not abuse animals, I absolutely despise anyone who hurts defenseless animals. Please do not confuse my not wanting to own a dog as cruelty. The dog in our house is fed well, and taken care of.

So- anybody want a smallish Shepard mix dog that needs to be fixed?  He is house trained and good with kids...just get him the hell outta my house!

Hey Jealousy...

So I started this blog stuff  going on a year ago now. I had no idea what I was doing- I was just reading my friend Nikki's blog (OMG- READ IT  Moms who Drink and Swear it will change your LIFE!!)  Wait- where was I? Oh- so I was reading her blog and it made me snort laugh, it made me think, it made me cry- it was amazing. I could do this I thought to myself. I mean- a blog is basically an online diary that you let the world read, right? Worst case scenario #1 your life is as boring as watching paint dry. Worst case scenario #2- you are so interesting you gain creepy stalkers that force you to get a new identity.  Best case scenario- you are funny and witty and down to earth  and have a good angle and you gain readers, and friends. Hopefully you get a much needed cathartic outlet and maybe  help some others on the way.

So my angle is Autism.I live with Autism, I figure I am damn near an expert (in my life anyway) and I have a lot to say. I have gotten so many emails and comments about my blog. People telling me their story with Autism, people asking me questions, giving me advice, laughing and crying with me- the networking has been fantastic.  While I know I am not alone out there ( 1 in 90- not even close) through my blog I have heard some stories that are so close to mine it blows me away.  I have also got some wonderful advice from parents who have dealt with or are dealing with some of the challenges we are- and for that I am so very very grateful.
I have been a wannabe writer most of my life. From short stories to poems, a few things published here and there, I think I am pretty good at getting thoughts put down on paper that make sense and make others want to read them. I have been in the process of writing a children's book for...well...let's just say awhile now. I have a pretty original idea, my oldest son said he will illustrate it for me and the children's book market seems easy enough to break into. I mean if Jenna Bush and Terrell Owens can do it- I can too! But for now I am happy with my tiny little piece of the blogosphere.

My husband is a published writer- 3 books plus numerous short stories and a screenplay. He has been blogging as well for awhile now- mostly sports related- he is The Struggling Sports Reporter and loves to torture himself writing about the Detroit Lions.  To distract other misbegotten Lions Fans, he posts pictures of hot cheerleaders too.

He recently started a new blog- Dad vs. Autism- his view on our son's autism and the effect on our lives. It is VERY good.  He is an amazing writer- and yes I am slightly prejudice- but that notwithstanding- he is very good. He is funny, smart, witty, and gives a perspective  of a special needs DAD- which is just wonderful.  You hear so much from the mom- usually about all things to do with child rearing but throw a special needs (of any kind) child in and it's pretty much the mom's you hear from and about. 

He sees things in a drastically different light than I do. He is a perpetual "the glass is half full" kind of guy, whereas I am  " the fucking glass is broken"  kind of gal. So when I first began reading his blog- I was wonderfully surprised at his perspective- I wrote about it- Where have you been? and while I still feel the same- now I am starting to think that I will be taking a back seat to his obviously superior writing...again.  Please- don't misunderstand-  I am proud to be the wife of such a talented guy- I am excited and proud of his blog. But this was MY thing. He was the sports guy- and while I passed him around like the slutty girl at school with his Struggling Sports Reporter blog,that was a specific niche- his blog now is for ANYONE. And he has gained a hell of a following.

The green eyed monster has reared it's ugly head- all of the people that were reading my blog now can't get enough of his. This IS a great thing- but I was happy to have something that he was a part of- but it was still all about me. And I am an attention whore. I LOVE it! I like being on stage,the center of attention all of that shit.  I like to think that I am gracious and not a insufferable bitch about it too...and if that is not true- just please don't tell me, m'kay?  

And just the simple fact that I KNOW I am jealous makes me feel like an asshole. I don't have all day in front of a computer to write about everything I would like to. I wrangle 3.5 year olds all day and spend 1.5 to 2 hours on the road and then come home to be wife, mom, maid, 3rd and 8th grade teacher, laundress, and referee. When I CAN get on the computer I am so tired I can't think. Blogging? Shit. I am lucky to be able to drag my ass to bed.  His readership is climbing, his blogs are getting even better and while I am still bursting with pride and my heart is so happy when I see him light up like Christmas when he gets a ton of hits- that nasty jealousy bug continues to buzz in my ear.

He keeps saying it's not a competition- and I know that- but I still feel overshadowed by what I perceive as his superior writing. I read a TON of blogs now- and I know that I am in no way a Pulitzer winning writer- but it doesn't bother me. I guess this close to home it's different.   I will make an effort to get out there more- try to write at least once a week- and hopefully I can stay interesting. In the mean time- I will pimp my mister out- because he is awesome. And I want everyone to know he belongs to me.

Damn, I wish I'd have done more Kegals...

I have fucking bronchitis. I get it EVERY damn year- but I had thought I might have skipped this year. Nope. Throw in a new job teaching the snot nosed germ encrusted hope for the future and a week from hell- I guess I was prime for sickness.  Now as I am sure you know- bronchitis causes ridiculous coughing.  Add in the fact that I smoke (yeah, yeah- save the speeches- I know) and the coughing is keep me up all night, annoy the hell out of family and friends, and make me sprint for the bathroom so I don't pee my pants kind of coughing.  And I curse myself for not doing my Kegal exercises.

If you have had kids , hell, even if you haven't I am sure as a female you have heard the term "Kegal exercise" if you don't know what it is read up on it here.  OK- now that you know what they are you can keep up. Your pelvic floor needs no super special attention- no landscaping or anything, which is the good news,but apparently it is very very bad news is if you don't take care of it by doing your Kegels, You might very well find yourself peeing when you laugh, sneeze or in my case- cough like a plague victim.  The REALLY bad news?  Your uterus/bladder could LITERALLY fall out of your vag...a vaginal or uterine prolapse. This is serious and would require surgery to put stuff back. So avoiding that is a good idea.

Apparently I have been doing them somewhat wrong- I use my butt and belly muscles too much. So I did some research and have found something very interesting. Ever hear of  Ben Wa Balls? Yup- a sexual aid but also apparently a fantastic Kegal exerciser... who knew? These weighted balls, when inserted into your va-jay jay, will let you know if you are using the correct  muscles, otherwise as soon as you stand up the ball will fall right out. Explain THAT to the nosy kids/husband/neighbor!  After some time and practice rebuilding those muscles you can work up to being able to not only stand and hold the balls in, but walk around apparently. I have NOT tried this- I just if you choose to do this and you get all cocky and try to go to the PTA meeting or the kids soccer game and they fall out- DO NOT BLAME ME! The ben wa balls are apparently the gym for the pelvic floor muscles- think of them as the free weights. Just like at the gym- you don't want to drop them- everyone will stare. So do this in your locked bedroom, or bathroom would be my advice ( that I intend on following..maybe)

And apparently- they can't get lost in there either!! I could just see me explaining to the emergency room doctor how THAT happened... but because they are weighted the chance of them getting stuck is pretty remote. I am gonna wait to see if one of you does this and then relate the gory details- I am a serious chickenshit. 

Excuse me while I cough up this damn lung...oh shit! I have to pee!!!

The week from HELL is finally over...but there is always next week to worry about

I have had an unusual run of good luck lately.  After a year of no job leads- I had three offers within two weeks. One worked out and I am back doing what I love- teaching the munchkins! The oldest kiddo got a job (FINALLY) , sailing season is starting up and hubby is excited. Everybody is happy, and mostly healthy.  I should have known that this was too good to be true.

My Chicken Little senses were telling me that this was going to well, something was gonna rain on my parade- but as my mom and grandma always said- "Don't borrow trouble" so I ignored that "The sky is falling" voice and just let myself be content. WRONG MOVE.

This last Monday I was on my way to work- the second week of my new awesome job. I was actually on time- hell I was early so I was jamming to some Lady Gaga and just cruising along. Then- out of nowhere- the driver in front of me slams on her brakes in the middle of an intersection I was entering just as the light turned yellow. I remind you that I was not rushing, not in any hurry, not on my phone, not smoking and not fiddling with the radio. 

It all happened in slow motion- that is no lie- when people say that- it is true. I swerved, hit the brakes and then slammed into the back of this person's car- watched the back window shatter and my hood crumple up like paper. Time stopped- I could hear someone saying "oh shit oh shit oh shit" and realized it was me. I was immediately aware I was still in the intersection and drove my car into the gas station on the corner. The other car had not moved. It felt like I was underwater- I couldn't hear right,  but my vision was in hyper focus.

I immediately called my husband- NOT 911 mind you- my husband. He is ALWAYS the one I call when something is wrong- he is "the fixer". He said he would be right there and then told me to call 911, which I did. The cops showed up almost immediately- ambulances too. The other driver had not exited their car yet. It was starting to dawn on me that they might be seriously injured and it was my fault. The police officer came over and asked all the usual questions- was I hurt, did I know my name, license, insurance registration. I asked if the other driver was ok. He said not to worry- just worry about me for the moment- the paramedic would be over shortly to check me out.

The paramedic came over- asked me what hurt- took my blood pressure- looked in my eyes with his little flashlight, asked me if I knew what year it was, felt my neck, asked if I hurt again (which I didn't at the time) I asked him about the other driver- he said don't worry. Now I really was terrified. At about that time my husband showed up. That is when I saw them open the back doors of the other vehicle and I lost it. There had been kids in the car- holy fuck I just hit a car with kids in it! The police officer had returned by that time and I was damn near hysterical- he said- No, no- there were no kids...calm down.

The other driver (a woman too) was complaining of neck and back pain and wanted to go to the hospital. Then I saw her being put on a stretcher with the neck brace and all. Again- panic bubbled over and my husband  said- it's ok- it's procedure- the cops and the paramedic asked me if I needed to go to the hospital- I said no, I needed to go to work.

Yes. I went to work. Working with 3.5 year old children is a physically challenging job- and I had just rear ended somebody going about 35-40 miles an hour and I was worried about the new job. We got all the particulars worked out and my husband asked me if I was sure about work. I said yes- so he took me.  My bosses were also very surprised to see me- and asked if I was ok to be there- I said yes. And weirdly- I was... probably the shock and all- but I didn't want to be anywhere else but at work.

So now let's fast forward a little- I made it through my day- hubby picked me up from work and I started crying- we were going to be getting home after 7:00...the kiddos needed to eat and do homework ( I am VERY anal about dinner time - it HAS to be no later than 6:00 on weeknights)  and I was sore and sad and so worried the mister was angry with me. He assured me he wasn't and that we would get through this- one way or another . ( told ya- he is the fixer)

Now I had to worry about getting back and forth to work- the kiddos being fed and homework done, what I was going to do about a new car ( did I mention we owned the car so only carried the minimum insurance on it- in Michigan that is No Fault which means we get NOTHING- they didn't even pay for the tow. Bastards) how I was going to get all the shit done with the kids, Cub Scout meetings, school meetings, all the stuff that goes with being a mom and I just shut down. I focused on work and luckily my neighbor and amazing sistermommy friend said she would pick me up from work during the week. Hubby was going to drive me and take time off his job to get running around done and grandma would come over after school  to help with the the little spawns homework ( see my blog about THAT-Homework Sucks ) and start dinner for us. 

The importance of all of these things, as well as my luckiness at having such caring people in my life wasn't necessarily lost on me, but I was still numbly focused on work and determined to NOT lose my damn mind.
Hubby was desperately looking for a car we could afford (which meant a beater piece of shit or a moped because that is ALL we realistically could afford right now) and I just agreed with what he said- told him whatever he thought was right and left it at that.  So he searched and searched for something that we could judt buy and not have a payment. No luck. Everything had  a gazillion miles on it and he worried about dropping a grand on something that would subsequently need three grand worth of repairs. 

He started looking at dealerships- but our credit is...well, let's just say it isn't fabulous, and even with money down he was worried about a sky high payment. He finally found a place- with a decent car- but even with $1200 down they wanted $298 a month and were trying to pull some shit bout HAVING to have their service contract or the bank wouldn't approve. Soooooo- on Friday he went to a reputable dealer and talked with them. After some number crunching (and fudging) we were approved for 2007 blue Chevy Aveo. He sent me a picture and called me at work and I said go for it.  I was still running on auto pilot and didn't even really register that I might have a "new to me" car by the end of the work day.

6:00 on Friday- I walked out of work to see my wonderful hubby with my car. An adorable little sedan in a beautiful shade of blue. Then- to top it off- he opened the trunk and had bought me the digital deep fryer I had been asking for for Mother's Day.  I was as excited as I could be- exhausted, stressed and worried- but excited. He had pulled it off- and had I been in my right mind I would have been a hell of a lot more excited and grateful.

We got home- and discovered the service department had forgotten to put the oil cap back on and oil had bubbled out all over.  That is when the world just came crashing down on me. The stress, the accident, EVERYTHING hit me and I LOST IT. I turned into the blubbery mess I had told myself I wouldn't become. I sobbed uncontrollably and stomped my feet and threw a humdinger of a tantrum. WHY CAN'T THINGS JUST ALL WORK OUT?!?! I screamed. IT'S NOT FAIR!  My poor husband kept apologizing, hugging me, telling me he loved me, running around like a crazy person and trying to fix it..AGAIN.

Thanks to an irate phone call to the dealership- the salesman who sold us the car went to the lot, and pulled an oil cap off of another Aveo ( oh- we bought one that said it fit my car- but of course it fucking didn't) and met my husband at a nearby gas station to give it to him. 

So I guess this week from hell had a happy ending. I have driven the car- only panicked once- and I like it a lot. Hubby is my hero and savior again and aside from a shitty cold I am starting to feel like myself again. I am not making the same mistake and getting too comfortable in good luck- I KNOW how that turns out- at least for me. So just keep your fingers crossed and hope that next weeks hell is not as miserable as this weeks...

Bike Riding for Dummies

Learning to ride a bike is one of the most common milestones in childhood, right?  From tricycle to pulling the training wheels off- it's a rite of passage all kids go through- my two oldest did- and with flying colors. Dad is the bike guy. I have left it up to him to teach them. He does a damn good job too (with the exception of sending my oldest on his first training wheel free ride. Down a hill. Into a bunch of bushes. )  Then along came Noah.  He never showed much interest in bike riding of any sort- from toddler bikes to tricycles- he just wasn't interested. 

Once we found out he had autism- I did some research into the subject and found out  that it is common in autism to have low muscle tone. The reason it occurs is that often, our children don’t do the typical day-to-day physical activities that we all take for granted: running, climbing, exploring, skipping, gathering, jumping, poking . . . that overall general busy-ness that we all expect in toddlerhood and beyond. The reason this doesn’t occur for our children is because that “natural drive” is hampered in some way, imitation skills are often impaired, and, therefore, motivation to do something that requires effort for no known benefit is just not there.  Even with Noah- who is a "sensory seeker" and likes to bump and crash into EVERYTHING- riding a bike was not something he wanted anything to do with. 

 Noah refused to ride even with on a bike with training wheels. He simply would not exert the effort. He said it made his legs tired (it most likely did) or he was scared of falling (understandable- all kids go through that).   I started looking into special bikes, modified for kids with special needs. And- not to get off on a rant- but how in the hell are families with special needs kids supposed to afford things like modified bikes that START at $1000?? Anyway- I decided to let it go for awhile. So from the age of 5 to 7 we didn't even really mention it and the bike sat in the garage- becoming a home for spiders and mocking me every time I saw it.
But every time I saw a kid Noah's age truckin down the street with his family on his training wheel-less bike I felt a pang of regret that Noah STILL couldn't ride- didn't want to ride and I moped about it and felt sorry for myself and then convinced myself we were working on much more important things. 

Then dad decided to pull the cobwebby bike out of it's sad little corner of the garage and get him going again. It was brutal. He cried- he refused- he put NO effort into it. Dad begged, bribed, yelled and bargained- nothing. I finally stepped in and told him to calm it down- you have to work at Noah's speed, at Noah's level to accomplish anything. He is not "normal" like the other kids- and the "normal" methods weren't going to work. Dad was irritated- understandable- his reasons for getting his boy to ride a bike are much different- his reasons for  lot of the things he wants his boy to do are much different than mine- but I understand. 
So after a couple more failed attempts- dad was ready to throw in the towel- the boy asked for a new bike...with new training wheels. The weather turned to crap (as it always does during spring in Michigan) and the bike was relegated to it's corner of the garage again.

So when the weather finally broke- the sun actually was shining and it was finally above 40 degrees- dad decided to try again. Noah cried, said he couldn't do it, he was scared and all of the usual stalling tactics. Then dad pulled out a Star Wars reference...compared Noah to Obi Wan and all- and it was on. And in the space of one afternoon- Noah was riding his bike- NO training wheels with little to no help from dad. It was amazing.  Even MORE amazing- he went back outside ON HIS OWN and attempted to do it all by himself!  Then- as if things weren't already Tweenzilla (as I so lovingly call her!) went out and helped him too!! It was an awesome day all around- and  my heart was happy.

We’re not at the stage where he’s going off doing any more than “practice rides” at this time, but as time continues, I feel confident he will go venturing on his new mobile ability. I think this bike riding thing is going to inspire him to try new things, from new foods to new activities and give him a new confidence.  I know it has inspired me.

Star Wars has saved the day- in the immortal words of Yoda "There is no try. Only do"

Where the #%@! is Spring??

I admit it. I am an extremely controlling person. One might even say a bitch. I am sure many have. I like things in order, on time, and in accordance with my schedule- and I do my damnedest to make life that way. It drives my kids and husband crazy- but I don't care. It is how I am and I like me just fine. So they just live with my rants about traffic, taxes, the government and try to keep their heads down and their mouths shut.
Now- the biggest thing I have absolutely zero control over (not like anyone does except for the secret government agency that controls it) is the weather. I grew up in the desert. It was hot or it was cold. You could plan your day and not worry about shit changing in the blink of an eye. 

And whether it was 120 degrees out ( no exaggeration- it WAS the desert after all) or 20 below- it didn't really phase me. 

Then I got married and moved to Michigan.  I have NEVER understood the weather patterns here. It is seriously like a petri dish- it's sunny-yet it's raining, it's 80 degrees today- but tomorrow the temperature drops 40 degrees. It's supposedly Spring but there is a winter weather advisory.  What in the hell is going on in this state? In the whole damn Midwest for that matter?

People say they love it here- there are 4 seasons... yeah- I agree- cold, cold, semi warm, humid. I miss living in California where the temperatures were always in the 60's. Anything below that was a "cold snap" and people freaked out and rushed out to buy winter clothes. I would take the  Santa Ana winds  over this ridiculous hodge podge of weather we have been experiencing any day.

 I remember 8 years ago and my kids were hunting for Easter eggs in snow pants and snow boots. I can also remember it being hot enough for shorts and tank tops and planning to go swimming on Easter.  There has been a year here and there where it was rainy (expected) but mild enough for pretty Easter clothes and light sweaters and jackets. Two, maybe three  years in the almost 9 I have lived here. This year is the latest Easter has come in a very long time- and the weather has gone from the 60's, 70's and 80's a week ago- to freezing temps, bitterly cold wind and a snow storm coming to dump anywhere from 4-6 inches of snow on us. I just broke out the capri's and flip flops, turned the furnace off and took the electric blankets off the beds- now I am getting all the winter crap out again and freezing my ass off! Been waiting all winter to get some cute new stuff to show off my 30 pound weight loss- and now I am back in hoodies.

I need to get OUT! I want to open the windows, throw the kids and animals out and blow off these nasty winter blahs! Not this week, SPRING BREAK MY ASS!  Take one overly controlling, OCD mom and add snow in mid April plus kids home for spring break (ha- what a joke) and you have got yourself a recipe for disaster.  I haven't got nearly enough wine or tranquilizer darts to make this week tolerable.

So I have been cleaning, doing laundry, finding things that ARE within my control to keep myself from losing my mind completely. . It has been a snowy, cold miserable bitch of a winter and I NEED Spring!!  I am snappy with everyone, jumpy, and feel like crawling out of my skin. I think I need some serious psychological help. This is something they medicate for...right?   In the meantime I will be self medicating every day after 5:00 (hopefully). The liquor store people know my face well...hell they know me by name and wine preference at this point.

The kids are in for a rough week- they are too old for me to micro manage and plan stuff each day to keep them busy (hahahahahha! Like I EVER did that!) and my youngest has ADHD so bad he makes a monkey on crack look calm. My tweenzilla will be pissy and bored, and the oldest who just recently moved home will be parked in front of the TV or having friends over to eat me out of house and home. And me? I will be pulling my damn hair out.  My husband will be coming home to the kids running amok and  me still in my pajamas in a corner blubbering incoherently.

I want to run away to where it is warm. Where I can open the windows and let the spring breeze in. Where I can sit outside and enjoy the weather with a glass of wine and a plate of cheese and fruit. I want to kick the kids out of the house - they are just as jittery as I am from being cooped up.  Better yet- I want to locate that secret government compound where they MUST be controlling the weather and blow that shit up.

Field Trip!!!

Field trips. Kids love 'em, teacher's have a love/hate relationship, parents volunteer either out of a sense of obligation or because they are complete masochists who feel they need to be punished.Then you have the parents who seriously enjoy going on the trips- if nothing more than to have some adults to talk to!  I can be placed in any one of those categories depending on the situation.

 I have gone on the majority of Noah's field trips. Mostly because I am paranoid and so worried about his behavior, sensory overload, etc. etc. Most of his field trips have been with the autistic class so of course these are all things the teachers are prepared for- but I definitely fall into the "I enjoy field trips" category on this one. Noah has done remarkably well on every trip I have gone on so I have been lucky.

Usually when chaperoning a field trip you get a group of kids you are responsible for. I have done that 100 times with the other 2 kids- but with Noah I have always just been responsible for him.  Today's trip I was assigned a group of kids *shudder*. I was a little worried - o.k. A LOT worried about how things were gonna go down. I was relieved to find out I would be with another mom and 4 boys- so if Noah had a meltdown, or something else happened she would be there to take up the slack.

While waiting to get on the bus I was visiting with other parents, and other kids kept coming up to me and telling me how awesome Noah was, how funny he was, how nice he was - and the icing on the cake? Parents were saying the same things! One young man told me he would miss Noah so much when he wasn't at school anymore ( he will be transitioning back to school closer to home next fall). This boys mom also told me that he was worried that nobody would stick up for Noah if he got bullied- because "I take care of Noah". I almost cried happy tears. 

My heart was so happy today! Hearing all of these wonderful, positive, amazing things about my kid-  well it was awesome. Any parent loves to hear great things about their kid- and I puff up with pride when anyone tells me great things about ANY of my kiddos. But with Noah- it's different- because HE is different. These kids he goes to school with are fantastic. These parents are wonderful. The whole environment is so accepting, diverse and helpful.

I have always known that he would be coming back to our home school. That was always the goal. But after such a fantastariffic day- my heart is heavy. Of course there are things I can put in the Pro column coming back here. But there are cons as well. I am even more worried than ever- after seeing the kids interact with him, hear their stories about him, and the fact that they truly care for his well being- I can't even describe it. These are 8 and 9 year old boys and girls- and they have more compassion and empathy than many adults I know. 

So I am just going to live in the moment for now. We had a fun day together, the sun was shining, we learned some neat stuff and got to pet a llama. A beautiful day indeed.

And the story continues...

When last we left our intrepid heroine she was deciding on what course of action to take for her son..... 
 So- continuing on from the last blog post ( I was going to do this in a couple of days but have had people asking for the rest of the story so who am I to keep my adoring, slightly demented fans waiting?) I had just witnessed a  meltdown of epic proportions from my child, and the teacher handling it badly. So after taking over and telling her she wasn't fit to work with rabid badgers (I was pissed) I calmed Noah down and took him home. I had some info from my boss about programs for early intervention so I set to compiling a list of questions and make the call. It was HARD. I cried- my husband looked lost and confused. The hardest realization I think I had come to in my life up to that point was the fact that something was "wrong" with one of my kids.

The organization I contacted was through The Guidance Center- which at the time was called Circle of Caring an early childhood behavioral intervention program- because at the time I wasn't convinced it wasn't JUST behavioral issues. A very wonderful woman set up the appointment- came to the school and talked to me, Noah's teacher's and gave me a stack of paperwork to fill out. The following day she came in to begin a series of observations of Noah in the classroom. She also came to our home for observation as well. After doing this- she recommended that we have Noah tested by a developmental pediatrician. She could not tell us for sure what the problem was- but she was certain it was not just behavior.

I called and made the appointment very soon after that and we went to Detroit Institute for Children for several rounds of MORE paperwork and Noah being subjected to sitting in a tiny room for HOURS answering questions, playing with toys, and eventually melting down. The answer we got? "Your son seems to have Pervasive Development Disorder- Not Otherwise Specified and has a global developmental delay of about a year to a year and a half. My husband and I looked at each other and said what does that mean? I understood the delay part but what was this other crap? PDD-NOS means your child has MOST of the criteria for an autism diagnosis but not all of them. We were then handed a sheet of paper  and sent on our way.

Yup- THAT WAS IT!!! Talk about shell shocked.  I immediately went into research mode. I pretty much shut out everything and surfed, talked, and read any books I could get my hands on. I ended up quitting my job so I could be home with Noah and help him as much as I could. We were already worried about how we were going to manage this - since there was NO insurance coverage for Autism. 

So I made my own picture schedules. I adapted Floor Time to the best of my ability. I studied Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and tried to introduce that into our daily routine. ( I feel that ABA is a lot like dog training- trying to get a child do "conform" and be "normal" as opposed to working with the strengths and/or weaknesses they have)  I started researching schools and set up appointments with the district psychologist, social worker and speech therapist. That appointment was what prompted me to seek another opinion on Noah's diagnosis- the school "didn't agree" with it- wanted to classify him as ADHD only and label him as "Otherwise Health Impaired" insuring ZERO services and a label that would mark him as  a behavior issue and not address what was really happening. 

The second doctor we saw did blood work, had an MRI done and discovered that Noah's brain was actually bigger than normal for a child his age- the area in the brain that is responsible for seizure activity was also enlarged - both things that are common for children on the spectrum.   The second diagnosis was High Functioning Autism, Severe ADHD and OCD-like tendencies. 

Fast forward 4 years- after a horrible kindergarten experience with a teacher who refused to work with us- to a new school in an autistic classroom with an amazing teacher, aides, speech therapy and occupational therapy. Noah  is now nearly indistinguishable from his peers. I say nearly because he still has a hard time with eye contact sometimes, still has a tendency to speak in movie and TV quotes when he doesn't know what to say, and is still developmentally delayed- he does act much younger than his peers- at 8 years old he acts and does things more like a 6.5 or 7 year old. But we are still working hard every day- he has come so very far in the last 5 years- I am amazed. 

Have I changed my mind about vaccine injury? No.

Will I have him vaccinated again when the time comes? That remains to be seen.  I am not some crazy "anti- vax" mom. I am a mom who has legitimate concerns about the safety of so much literal poison being injected into our  children's under developed immune systems and the  probability that there are children who have an underlying issue which makes them more susceptible to developmental issues, AND  Autism when vaccines stress their bodies- which they do- that is why the majority of children run a fever after vaccines are given.  All I ask is that you do your OWN research. Everyone is up in arms about Andrew Wakefield ( who I completely support by the way) and the MMR, and thimerosol- all valid concerns- but we need to broaden the view to encompass the aluminum, human aborted fetus cells, and all the other crap that is in vaccines- and do the studies that will actually help figure this out once and for all.  There can't be just ONE reason- there has to be multiple- but with so many parents that can pinpoint their child's regression after vaccines- how can that continue to be ignored?

We now return you to your previously snarky blog

Vaccines and Autism--MY perspective

I have been asked a thousand times- "What do you think caused Noah's autism?" "Was it vaccines?" And I have the same answer - I DON'T KNOW!! I have two perfectly neurotypical children. They developed normally, hit all of their milestones on time- never had more than an ear infection. Well- my oldest had some constipation problems as a kid- but outgrew them. But no developmental disorders, no delays- perfectly normal.

Then Noah came along. The pregnancy was rough from the beginning- worst morning (and afternoon and evening) sickness EVER. Found out at 3 months along that I had gestational diabetes and would be having to give myself insulin injections several times a day. It shouldn't have been a shock- I had high sugar and special diets with the other two. But it was upsetting- especially as my husband was out of town on business and I had the most clinical and cold  doctor give me the news....but I digress.  So the rest of my pregnancy was extremely healthy- kept sugar and carbs to a minimum, got exercise, but I still ended up having an almost 10 lb baby! Without ANY pain medication - and yes I will brag about that after having an epidural with the second child and drugged to the moon for the first ( who by the way only weighed 7 lbs 5 oz and 7 lbs 9 oz respectively). Oh- and my two previous pregnancies had labor induced- the first by manually breaking my water and the second with Petocin...EVIL, EVIL stuff.... Noah came naturally about 2 weeks early- thank goodness for that - he would have been toddler sized if he had gone to term.

He was healthy, BIG, and hollering as he made his grand entrance to the world. He came home within 2 days of delivery and aside from a little jaundice was happy, healthy and just a little fat lump of sweetness.   He was breastfed exclusively until about 2.5 months old when he had to have cereal introduced to his diet. The kid NEVER stopped eating. I seriously thought I needed to be hooked up to a milking machine just to keep him satisfied. He could sit up in the high chair with the assistance of his Boppy and was eating from a spoon at 2.5 months old. I shit you not. He was happy, sweet, and was adored by his whole family.

His 4 month well baby check up was fantastic. he was tracking movement, he laughed and cooed, pushed himself up when having "tummy time" responded to our voices had the motor skills he should- could hold his bottle, a rattle etc. All was normal. He received 3 shots that day- HiB, HepB, DtAP, and got the polio shoved down his throat.  That night his fever shot to 103 and he screamed incessantly for hours. His other vaccines had caused a fever but a low grade one and the screaming wasn't accompanying it. My other children had never run a fever that high either. The spots on his little chubby legs where he got the jabs were so red and hot to the touch- I cried for and with him.   After a near sleepless night he seemed better. Still had a fever but it had gone down considerably, but he was listless and his appetite was off. Well as a mom of 2 other kids and a complete truster in my doc- I knew this was "normal" and just babied him and dosed him with baby Tylenol when needed. That night- Noah "forgot" how to suck his thumb.

In subsequent weeks- things seemed to go back to normal. His appetite returned , but his sleeping was off...kid DID NOT was a nightmare for my husband and I. But looking back I guess things weren't "normal". He didn't officially roll over from tummy to back until after 4 months old. He sat up late - closer to 8 months than 6- he crawled late, walked late- and although he started babbling at 6 months old it seemed to just stop, I can't officially pinpoint when- but it just did.  Mind you- we were keeping up on our vaccination schedule like good little parents. People said he'll be fine- he's a late bloomer- but fast forward to 2 years old and he wasn't talking AT ALL- some babbling but not nearly where he should be I started to worry. Doctor said- he's the youngest of three- he has everything said and done for him- he'll catch up.  I teach preschool and the other teachers said- he's a boy, and the baby- he'll get it. And I listened to it all- of're right..but that nagging feeling never went away. 

Then the tantrums started. Violent, scary things in which he would throw himself backwards, hit his head on the floor, and cry so long and hard he would lose his voice. In the mornings when we went to school he would lose it if we didn't go the same way. It's the terrible 2's people said. Well of course it is. But these tantrums would happen at daycare- and the teachers did not know how to handle it at all. He was placed in "time out" in a high chair away from the other kids at circle time because he didn't participate. He had meltdowns. He didn't nap. He was the kid in class who always got bit by the little Jeffrey Dahmer because he would try to hug everybody all the time. (I now know he is a sensory seeker and seeks input from everything) I never saw him play cooperatively with other kids- not even parallel play. He lined things up (a classic sign of  possible ASD)  and babbled in his own strange language with the occasional understandable word coming through. Then the day came when he had a meltdown and I happened to be on my way down to his class to peek in and see how he was doing.  I had never seen such pain. Yes pain. He was so beyond upset- he had pooped his pants ( no not potty trained yet- that didn't happen until almost 5 years old) he was crying in that way you do when you are out of breath and voice and are pretty much hysterical- his limbs were rigid- his face was purple and the veins in his neck stood out. I almost threw up- watching his "caregiver" restrain him in a manner that was not helping at all.  It was at that very moment I said- something IS wrong- I need to get him looked at.

That's all for now folks! Yep, I am leaving you hanging because the story is long and I don't want to bore you too much. Suffice it to say at this juncture- while I do not know for sure what caused Noah's autism- you can damn well bet that I DO believe that vaccines played a part. And if you decide that I am a crackpot and never want to read my blog again- so be it. I believe what I believe and no amount of the MEDIA saying that there is NO LINK between vaccines and autism will change my mind.

Next blog- I will finish the story and give you some studies that the mainstream media refuses to put out there that DO show links. Until next time......