Social Worker Closes Our File

Two years ago I contacted the county and requested that a social worker be assigned to my autistic son so that I had full access to available resources and representation at IEPs.

We had the same worker until a few months ago, when our old worker was replaced by the woman who used to be my DV advocate when I first got into town. Which was nice.

Yesterday the new social worker called me to say that after review with her supervisor the county has decided to drop me from her caseload because I don´t seem to need any help.

She suggested PACER instead, if I ever had problems with the schools.

So that is one less support.

 

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Aggressive Autistics

¨There are medicines available for aggressive autistics,¨ the child psychologist says to me. ¨my favorite is Abilify. I will write that down for you, right here..¨

I don´t want my son to be that kind of autistic. I want him to be like me instead.

I never had a problem with his diagnosis before. But I don´t know if I can do this. I already have a son like this-minus the autism. Two is too much for me.

I don´t want it to be like this.

 

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The Bad List

When the children and I first escaped, my father would watch the boys for me while my stepmother and I went to thrift stores to try to find winter coats or car seats or shoes for the children.

Each time I rejoined my boys they were not happy and neither was my father. I think I left them three times and then never again, after I watched my father slap my four year old on the head for touching a television remote that looked just like his own. I specifically asked my father not to hit my son after that. So he would grab him by the arm instead (I remember that from being a kid, and it hurt) and so we cut back on visits for a while.

Things are a little better since then. But maybe not.

My kids are bored and frustrated at my father´s house. Nothing there is interactive. There are no games to play, no one is allowed to watch a screen, and no one is allowed to be inside – because nothing inside is for touching. These are ADHD kids, they need to be involved in something or they are all over the place.

This last visit they got in trouble for pretty much everything they did outside. No peeling bark (of course I agree with that one), no moving rocks, no tearing down stumps, no looking for bugs under things, no picking flowers or leaves, etc. The only thing they were left with was sticks. Picking up sticks or breaking sticks. If my father had had those rules when I was a kid on that property I would have died. My brother and I tore up plants and broke rocks into shards and hacked down whatever we could. We made pets out of root clumps and found bugs and animals and chased them down.

My autistic son is not too good at following directions. If you let it get to you then you would just be perpetually angry at him. He cannot help it. He is a people pleaser, so if he is not doing what you tell him to do then most likely he has forgotten it or he has fixated on doing that thing and is unable to process redirection. He also cannot understand two-part directions, which really hinders him in the big world.

Anyway, a few years ago, about the time I quit visiting for a bit, my father and his wife drove over an hour to come and see me. Me, without the children present. They did this so they could tell me that I had to ¨do something¨ about my sons, who were obviously out of control. Well, they still sometimes are. They said they would never have a normal life if they don´t learn this or that. Mostly about impulse control and obedience.

I knew I had to ¨do something¨ already, and I had known it since they learned to walk. I couldn´t do much about it until we were free. They were my kids and I was already working with what was the beginning of my medical team when they had this talk with me.

Less than a year later my oldest was diagnosed with autism and his brother with PTSD and ADHD. Both were also diagnosed with ODD but I never bothered to tell my father that, because sometimes it is just a comorbid dx, a default before the real diagnosis comes in. When I told my father my son was autistic he refused to believe it. He insisted my son was normal and every kid must be autistic. I asked him then why he had made a special trip to tell me the year before that my sons needed help. He had no answer to that.

So he still does not get it.

We go up to his house for my birthday lunch and just before the meal begins he announces that my son is on his ¨bad list¨ for ripping apart a stump and not stopping when being told to. This is something my father has praised my sons for doing on previous occasions, he has had them destroy stumps for him because the ones that are falling apart are such a pain to get out of the ground. I am positive my son does not know which stumps he can do this to and which he cannot. Hell, I don´t know either. A stump is a stump, to me.

I told my father that he has to tell my son something more than once and he shot me a disgusted look. I had the strongest urge to spell out the word ¨autistic¨ to him, but I did not. I was just thinking ¨You and everybody else.¨ Life sucks often enough when you are autistic. The least his family could do would be to be patient and to attempt to teach rather than condemn him. Why is it easier for people to believe that children are naughty than it is to believe that their brain might work differently? Why is it easier to believe that a child would fish for anger rather than love and approval?

I was always on his bad list, too. My son has great company.

 

 

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Abuse and Unhealthy Relationships

Yesterday when I picked up my daughter from daycare the preschool teacher pulled me aside. She wanted to tell me what had happened that day.

My daughter was coloring with her friend. She wanted to stop and go do something else. It was free time, where the children can choose from different stations and play with the available toys. Her friend went over to the trash can and held her half of their best friend´s necklace over it, the one she kept when she gave the other half to my daughter last fall.

She dangled the string and said ¨If you stop coloring I will throw this away…¨ While smiling.

The teachers didn´t understand what was going on. They asked the girl if she was going to throw her necklace away, if it were broken? and my daughter chimed in and explained it to them. I am glad she speaks up.

There is just no getting away from it. I see abuse everywhere, in everything. My daughter has just turned five and already she is involved in unhealthy patterns. She has had a propensity to be involved in cliques at her daycare and though it was super cute when she was two- it doesn´t look that way anymore.

Chances are pretty good that she engages in this sort of blackmail, too. She tries it with me, a few times a year. Such as the ¨If you don´t give me candy for breakfast, I will scream and scream!¨ whispered in my ear last fall.

I keep trying to teach them.

 

 

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How To Take A Beating While Pregnant- Trigger Warning

So, you are expecting! It is happy news, but you are not sure how to protect the baby inside you from it´s father. You might have even Googled this, but not much out there is helpful.

I have some experience, and thought it would only be practical to share it with you.

Of course the best thing to do is escape. The baby should not be born in an abusive environment, nor should your body be submitted to stress and abuse while you are pregnant. Because the baby can feel it, and can be born traumatized. Signs of trauma in newborn babies can be what looks like colic, separation anxiety, and waking screaming in the night.

Escape is not always possible, though, so here are some tips:

Cut your hair completely off before another assault occurs. He cannot pick you up and throw you by your hair if you have not got enough to hold onto.

Hide behind another adult. If you are lucky, your mother-in-law will care enough to shield your unborn baby from it´s father. I didn´t have one like that, so I hope you do.

Get into a corner. Put your back to the corner and sit on the floor. Pull your knees up as comfortably as you can to protect your abdomen. When he kicks your legs,  you will get spiderveins due to the increased bloodflow of pregnancy, but this will not hurt the baby. Try to protect your sides as best you can, and make sure that furniture near you is bolted into the wall so it cannot be turned over onto you.

Try to avoid being struck in the back of the head, the abdomen, and the kidneys. I know-you only have two hands, so take care of the abdomen first. This is why you are in the corner, so the back of you is inaccessible.

Try to keep your heart rate steady. I know it is difficult to do during panicky moments like this, but the baby is stressed when you are stressed. The quickest way to drop your heart rate is to take a short breath through your nose, hold it for a count of four, then exhale all your air and hold on empty for another count of four. Repeat.

If you sustain visible injuries from your beating and you are in the United States, check your state laws on assault and see if the charges are greater for beating a pregnant woman. In some states you could find yourself free and clear if he is prosecuted and sent to jail. If this is not his first offense then you are probably in luck. Get to an emergency room, if possible.

If your injuries are not visible then use your own judgement on whether to press charges or seek medical care.

And lastly, if he is beating you because you are trying to save money for things for the baby, just give it to him. The baby needs you and it´s own good health more than diapers. Diapers can be made from t-shirts, there are tutorials on YouTube and it does work.

Trauma in pregnancy changes the brain of the unborn baby. Children of trauma are often hyper, distracted, oppositional, easily frustrated, have trouble sleeping, and generally have a rough time functioning like other children. If there is any chance that you can leave, do it for the children if you won´t do it for yourself. Once you leave, go no contact with the abuser. 1-800-799-7233 | 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) The Domestic Violence Hotline has more information and can help you form an escape plan.

 

Click to Chat With an Online Representative

 

 

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Children´s Mental Health Conference

I spent two days at a conference for children´s mental health.

I attended as a parent, and as such, I was severely limited as to which sessions I could partake in. Most sessions were for professionals and not open for laypersons.

The books I have found most helpful in guiding my parenting techniques to assist my traumatized children in healing were often referred to or recommended during the conference. I discovered that I am not an auditory learner, I was frustrated that the handouts were merely bare outlines and that I had to frantically take notes in order to retain the meat of the lectures. The books that I have found most helpful are:

The Explosive Child  – Dr. Ross W. Greene

Lost At School- Dr. Ross W. Greene

Transforming the Difficult Child – Howard Glasser

and one that I have never seen referenced anywhere but I find to be a goldmine is

Parenting The Hurt Child – Gregory C. Keck and Regina M. Kupecky

which is billed as a book for adoptive families.

So none of these books are new. I was expecting to find something new at the conference. I ended up feeling validated instead, which I suppose was nice. I mean validated in how I have altered my parenting and the techniques I have used to help my children learn to manage themselves.

Like.. one thing that is often overlooked is how beneficial it is to calm or distract the nervous system to prevent or shorten meltdowns. So it was nice to hear someone explaining it to a room full of three hundred people. When I tell another parent that I flip my kid upside down when they start to throw a fit they look at me like I am crazy. But it works. It works like magic.

Samantha Moe from Mad2Glad gave a presentation in tandem with Kathy Flaminio of 1000 Petals and it was great stuff, to put it all together. But I knew it already, in fact, most of what was being explained to me was elementary. I ought to have been in clinical sessions, I had too much background to be where I was. If you think about the hours I have clocked with special needs children, it makes sense. It is not like I have been doing this blindly. I have been reading and applying methods for years.

So the children´s psychologist has been telling me what works. That is the good news.

Also I stopped by the booth from the Social Security Administration and learned that it would NOT compromise our safety to apply for my son´s social security. I have a few years to decide if I should. It looks more and more like I ought to. I heard it is easier for him to apply when he hits adulthood if he has already been approved in childhood.

He (my Oldest Child) had a very difficult time at the conference. It was in a different city. I got a large and expensive hotel room for the children so that they would be at ease, and have enough space to feel like they could do their own thing. He was okay in the hotel room. He loved having channels on television. But whenever I took him out to eat or play his executive functioning was a mess. He asked the same questions over and over, not because he was clarifying, but because he had forgotten the answer. He was genuinely confused. He would get an answer and then still be muddled on what was happening, where we were going. It was NOT anxiety. He showed no signs of his anxiety, he did not even ruin a single shirt with chewing or poking while we were there. I wish it had been. That would be easier than knowing that a change of surroundings can so thoroughly confound him. I have been sitting on the fence about whether he needs life long care or not, and lately he seems to be showing signs that he will. Hard for me to accept, that his brilliant mind and outgoing nature is not enough.

My middle child did fantastically well. He attended every session with me. He was the only child in the sessions. He sat quietly and played games on my phone for each session, and he complained not at all. He had insisted that he wanted to stay with me instead of the sitter who was playing games with the other kids in the hotel room, and he was so well behaved that I thought it seemed incongruous to be attending sessions on how to manage his behaviour when he showed no sign of any issues!

So though I did learn to keep doing what I am doing, I don´t think these conferences are for me. I would rather have a book recommendation. If someone is talking at me I don´t learn as much as when I am reading what they say.

My criticisms of the conference: many of the speakers had practices that were not taking subsidized health insurance or Medicaid, which renders them inaccessible to an incredible number of special needs kids and their parents. It also means that they are referencing an entirely different pool of clients in their talks than what is really out there.

And: There was barely any diversity at all. It was usually a sea of white women. I saw representation from three minorities, no more than the fingers on one hand. I don´t know if that means that most social workers and therapists are white women, or if it means that the agencies outreaching to minorities with minorities haven´t the funds to send representation, or if it means that the agencies employing minorities thinks the conference is a waste of time.

Whatever the reason, I found it depressing. What I always loved most about the major cities in this state was the diversity. This was a state conference. We have a sizable refugee population, currently on the second and third generations that we need to reach and also learn from.

The kids had their very first vacation experience, I managed to figure out that camping is better than hotels (no matter how expensive), and I learned that I do NOT have agoraphobia despite my severe reluctance to leave town for the past four years. All good lessons.

 

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What Regression Has Cost Us

My oldest son has forgotten how to take a bath. He does not turn off the water and the tub overflows every time he takes a bath now. I can no longer put him in the tub and then remain in earshot.  I have to turn off the water or go in and instruct him to do so. He had learned how to wash himself from start to finish just this year and I was working on teaching him proper drying and lotion. Now we have to start from earlier in the process and keep trying.

He has forgotten how to brush his teeth, he has been chewing on the brush and then swallowing the paste as if it were food. I floss his teeth and brush them for him again, especially now that he is complaining that his gums itch. Luckily I do not see any signs of gingivitis- I hope I can keep it that way.

On the bus last week his seatmate (yes, I did request he have assigned single seating on the bus- but the principal never sent a letter to the bus company to that effect) did not want to play a game my son had made up regarding Garfield and Odie and my son was very insistent. So the boy slapped my son, who then pummeled him into tears.

My son of course neglected to mention any of this to me, so the principal called. I have cut him off of his lifeline, the computer, for a number of days. I have also explained to my child that he may not use ¨self defense¨. I have been trying to teach him, for a year, to walk away or be quiet when someone states they are not interested or looks upset. He cannot recognize people, he cannot read faces, and I am at a loss on how to help him implement this most important skill.  He lacks the theory of mind required to understand that not everyone thinks Garfield is the coolest cat around. Of course I called the bus company, again.

I am beyond afraid that he will grow up to be a tall autistic man who insists on someone interacting with him in the way he expects them to. Mistaking someone for a dear friend and then pushing them to share a joke or a coffee or whatever. He would be jailed for that. He would terrify people.

If he keeps forgetting how to care for himself I had better set up a trust for him. If I had money to put in it I would be quicker to do so, but if he is going to need care all his life I had better plan for his needs as best I can. Regression is a contrary brat and I hate it. A few months ago none of this was an issue.

I don´t understand how his drawings of Garfield improve while his self care deteriorates.

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