New Behavior Therapist

Right around the time that my old behavior therapist had to stop seeing my kids because her entire organization shut down, my oldest kids regressed a bit. It might be coincidence, but I am having to teach them again how to be alone in other rooms (even with the door open), and to go to the bathroom by themselves. Today I managed to get my oldest to go to the bathroom in a strange place by himself, by tapping on the door the entire time that I remained outside of it.

This was at the new behavioral therapist’s office, which coincidentally, is at the same office complex as their previous therapist. So that is a handy bit of continuity.

The last time we were there it was mostly an introduction. I discovered that despite the appearance of the therapist (sporty) and his slang (buddy, dude), it was apparent that he knew his stuff and what was up with my kids.
Through deduction and observation. I think he is approaching this in a team style, and that makes me happy. I want to work with others to help my children.

They each had their own session alone with him today, and he said they did quite well. The younger of the two would not talk about his father, became disturbed at mention of him, and I cannot blame him. Both of them do understand that their father is ill, and that is a blessing, because confusion or negativity over a parent is tough. The older did not mind talking of his father, and I think sometimes that it is his innate cheerfulness, and at other times I think it is his lack of empathy that aids him in this. He still has inappropriate cheerful reactions to sad or alarming incidents. Such is autism. It’s not a bad thing, unless you are the one who fell down and he is giggling at you.

I think this will work out well. I hope we can maintain this long term. Two to four sessions a month with this therapist, and the same with the psychologist, and there is no way I can feel as if I am not doing enough. Add in OT, and we are fully engaged in helping these children grow. Sometimes it takes a village. For me it takes two therapists, a psychologist, a daycare staff, two teachers, a social worker, and I suppose I need to make some friends to be good influences or positive role models. I just haven’t got time. I am taking off of work to make this happen each week.

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My Saturday at the beach, via letter

The following is most of a letter I sent this evening about my day. I figured it was decent enough to post, a sort of day in the life of. I like to do seasonal full cleanings, but this one is for the management company, who is inspecting this week. Living in small spaces means frequent sorting and shifting, and I will seize onto any excuse for it.
:

Good morning!
My furniture is sorted out. The house looks, I would say, a hundred times better. All I have to do now is get rid of this giant tube television and get a flatscreen, throwing out the stand this monstrosity is on, and I am living in tolerable conditions. Oh, and a bed. Must buy a bedframe.

So the organization and the moving part is done. Now I have to clean. I found a million stray toys. I am not exaggerating, I counted them. One of them was lodged in a closet track, even, and dislodged the closet door. It was Magneto, a teeny tiny Magneto, which I think is an appropriate character for the effect caused.

I also have a lot of laundry to do. So my Sunday is Complete Clean Sunday, and I still need to take the kids out twice. They want to go to the beach again. Middle Child would not come out of the water at the appropriate time.

I pulled out my bag of tricks, which I had on me at the water’s edge, called Emergency Snack Bag, and I sat the listening children (who had come out of the water when told) down on a blanket in full view of the offender and gave them juices and that coveted snack: processed single serving junk food.

It did not work, not for a long while. I ignored him yelling to me to “Watch this!”, because it meant that he was trying to set his own terms for exiting the water. I was not going to budge on this, it is a safety issue. I cannot walk away from children in the water, he was trapping me, and I was mad. Finally after a half hour, he comes up to the blanket as we are packing up (again, as we had done so before I got crafty and made spontaneous snack time), and cried about missing snack time. I had just been advising the other children what to do while I went into the water and pulled their brother out by force, but he didn’t know that. I think he learned. I figured he had punishment enough, natural consequences are my friend. I was sympathetic “Oh, sorry honey, snack time is over. You weren’t there.”

So we are going back to the beach, tomorrow, to try this again. Practice makes perfect.

I don’t even know how it got to be my bedtime. WTH.

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Autism Spectrum, Where We Sit – and Faces

I had my evaluation done yesterday on my oldest, by a professional he had seen before, which was much appreciated.

Many of his symptoms have abated since last year. His behaviours have improved, while his academic performance has suffered.

He is now nearly off the spectrum, barely autistic. If Asperger’s were still in the DSM, he would be diagnosed with that, as he is off the charts with those symptoms.

So he is an Aspie, and a much improved Autie.

If I had been able to get him assessed in infancy, he would have scored more autistic. I had nurses heavily involved in his development who said it was a phase, and doctors who literally pretended not to hear me back then.

Many questions today I answered with ¨not anymore¨. I attribute these improvements to his OT, definitely, and perhaps to my emphasis on facial recognition of emotion and conscious instruction in empathy.

I have noticed something else recently. He does not recognize people. He cannot seem to discern between one face and another on his friends, or mine. If some of the basic features are the same (fat, thin, large eyes, thin eyes), he is confident it is whoever he sees the most often. He has always mistaken his friends in crowds, or thought he saw someone he knew, but after two mistaken identities in two days on people he sees weekly, I am paying closer attention. I better bring it up to the doctor.

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Massacred Families In The News

I always get a survivor’s guilt when disgruntled fathers and husbands kill children. I should not read the news.
I have the same paperwork that most women in this situation do, mine is issued from criminal rather than family courts, is the only difference.
How am I supposed to feel that we are safe, when so many don’t make it?

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Special Needs Kickball

Today we had special needs kickball. Before I signed up the boys for it, I spoke with the community education coordinator, to explain that my kids had very different needs. So far every kid there has been able to kick, but today a child came who needs someone to kick his foot for him, and then run on his behalf. He seems a friendly boy, he gave my boys high fives and was introduced. All differently abled children.

The other children listen better than my boys do. The therapists are very patient with my children, even when they are pushing limits and intentionally giving them a hard time. It is so nice to see people work with them, rather than throw up their hands or insist that I beat them. So far the people who are the best with my kids are the professionals, or very young daycare workers with oodles of patience and smiles.

Somehow I still haven’t met anyone here for my kids to play with, though I have invited a few families over. I don’t know if we don’t know anyone else because I am wary, if we don’t know anyone because they are wary, if we don’t know anyone because I am too busy with my kids and don’t socialize, I don’t know if it is because I don’t get the culture (surely I must, by now)… and it all seems a Catch 22. Yesterday we ran into a family I like from our daycare at the park, and the mother offered to get me the card for her church. I am sure she meant well. But it felt suspiciously as if she could not socialize outside of her church. It’s a very Christian area, that I live in. They couldn’t possibly know how I felt about religion, and if they did, they would probably fail to see how my experiences could apply to theirs.

I thought this kickball would be a nice way to get to know some of the other parents who understand children who are a bit different, but unlike other community sports, the parents drop the children off and leave. Last year we did T-ball, and the parents brought chairs and hung out until all their kids were done. I was trying to do the same, but I had kids on the playground and kids on the field and I could hardly sit still. 

Sometimes I get tired. Today I was relieved. People were helping my kids learn how to behave appropriately, with patience. Not judging them or myself.

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Making the Day Work

Today at bedtime the final recipe for taming middle child was:
3 trips to parks
1 donut
1 timeout with small, short tantrum
2 beginning tantrums that were defused by piggyback rides or tickling
4 tantrum prone moments that were met with tickling and never developed
3 meals + 2 snacks
2 showers, 1 bath
2 books
 
I never lost my temper, though I did have to physically carry him to his timeout for pushing his sister in the face during a debate by the children on which park to attend. Which, compared to last week, is a huge improvement in his impulses towards violence. 
 
My trade off was no relaxation, a lot of vigilance, a much needed nap, too many conversations about card collecting, twenty dollars extra spent in the store on card devices that emit light and the required batteries, and having to listen to much grumbling over spending one’s allowance and having to work to make more money.
Oh, and I had to pay for some cheap toy filled with candy that he broke at checkout after being told to put it back. I paid for it, and I threw it away, in his sight. I will not be bullied into a purchase. I can be reasoned with, only. His frustration with me over that resulted in a waterbottle being thrown at my head. He missed. Maybe on purpose. He is paying me back the cash in chores, over half the amount already worked off.
 
He did not stop moving until after his last shower, shortly before bed, at which time he sat at the computer and then watched the Muppets until bedtime, about forty five minutes, and since he was still, I got him to brush his teeth and I clipped his nails. 
 
I feel like calling the pharmacy on Monday, just to confirm that his medicine will be ready for pickup before Friday. I hope that day brings some relief. The Tenex is definitely leaving his system, five days to go. 

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Good Day

Today my children did not fight with me. No one told me that they hated me. No one tried to break anything we own, or anything anyone else owns. No one hit me. Every single kid told me at different times that they loved me, and I hadn’t given them anything to prompt such a statement. There were some close calls, but no tantrums.

Daycare staff made a point to tell me each child had a good day. Each of them.

But most important, most appreciated, they left me alone in another room, for an hour. I didn’t even ask them to. I am going to tell them, now that it is bedtime, how wonderfully behaved they were. 

This is a very special day. 

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