Category Archives: ADHD

Self Advocacy, Autism, and School

I picked up my kids early on Friday so they could see the child psychologist. It was my daughter’s first official visit, her initial evaluation yielded ADHD but the rest of it is stuff she herself wants to work on, and it looks to be trauma related at first glance. She has bad dreams, wants to be kinder, and needs help figuring out when to draw the line with her friends and siblings-she knows she can be a bit of an instigator if not a bully.

But when it was Oldest Son’s turn it got real. He told us about school that day, how when he got to his classroom he had to wait for the teacher to get there and so he picked up a book to read at his desk.

He reads incessantly, you know. It’s a coping thing, he distracts himself with it and it’s the most benign behaviour issue he has ever had- well, except for when Middle Kid pulled him out of the way of a moving car when Oldest was reading while walking through a parking lot and starting wandering off track. But he can’t hear you when he is reading. The teacher hates it. He yells Oldest’s name over and over to get his attention and on the fourth or so attempt Oldest Son might hear.

The special ed teacher has been sending me emails this year. Telling me things like my son is a black and white thinker, my son argues, my son lacks social skills.

Yes, I always reply. Yes, he is autistic. Then I go into solutions. These are all in his IEP, anyway, but the entire special ed team has turned over since last year and I feel like the new team might not understand Oldest in particular and autism in general.

I have asked them to tap him on the shoulder instead of yelling at him. Oldest is embarrassed by the yelling, he is already different and his differences are starting to bother him. He even shushed me for speaking Persian in a parking lot the other day. So I started singing in Turkish. I am not good at being shushed anymore. I digress. I was going to talk to the teacher about all this at conferences, later this week.

So back to the reading. Oldest is reading, teacher comes in and yells his name and Oldest does not hear. So the teacher goes up to him and asks for the book and Oldest hands it over. Teacher then chucks the book across the room. This is not a school book. This is my son’s personal book from home. His own property.

My son is telling this story and he is sobbing. He already has a cold and it is Friday and he has been maintaining all week in this neurotypical world and I am immensely proud of him and sorry that I rushed him into the car earlier when he was trying to tell me something, probably this. I am not good at talking outside in 10 below, to be fair. But he has been trying to advocate for himself and has been accused of arguing, he has been trying to tell me what happened, and I have rushed him and told him “later”, and here he is in the psychologist office telling his story in a very linear manner, very straightforward, while sobbing. Good for him.

He will know I listened next Tuesday, when he walks into his new classroom with his new teacher.

So this was Friday, though, and I can’t do anything with administration after school on Friday. But I can go get his book back for him. I dropped the boys off at home as Oldest Son did not want to go back in the class and I took the Youngest with me to get the book. We knew it was thrown under a chair and that was all we knew about how to find it. Youngest was confident she could.

Guess who was there?

It was his teacher. I told him Oldest forgot his book, which was now on his desk and I saw his wiggle chair and asked if it helped and he said yes but that the books were a problem. I said “Really, he uses them to self regulate.” and tried to back out of there. But my daughter, my fearless bossy curious daughter went up to him and said “Oldest said you threw a book.” and teacher said “He wouldn’t stop reading!” and turns to me and says “All the other kids were sitting ready to learn…” and I stopped listening and protectively guided my daughter out of the room and told him to have a good weekend.

Because there is no other autistic kid in the classroom.

All the other kids. All the other kids are not working with IEPs and living with electrical storms in their brains and trying to navigate life without social cues. I knew right then that my son wasn’t going to ever be understood or empathized with in that classroom. All the other kids, indeed, are not like my son.

Look, I know the book throwing is reason enough. I am an abuse survivor and so is Oldest. I know that was assault by proxy, violence on a belonging implies violence on the owner. I know. But I wasn’t ready to condemn a person based on temper, because I have one of my own. I can throw shit and get away with it, maybe. But this is a professional who works with children. He can’t be a beast about anything. I shouldn’t be excusing people, it’s a bad habit, but I am sure I am far from the only victim who does this habitually.

So I didn’t sleep well on Friday. I talked to a few moms, we agreed, as does the psychologist, that a classroom change is best. Despite the disruption and stress it causes my son at least he won’t feel unsafe, singled out, or like his teacher hates him. I can’t imagine a new place is more stressful than those feelings.

I was ready to go in there and get pissed off in a couple of languages, I had a lot of scenarios running through my head and none of them made me look anywhere close to sane. But it didn’t turn out that way. I put on a suit and threw the IEP copy from my filing cabinet into a soft sided briefcase. I got the director to meet with me nearly immediately and I wasn’t forceful or alarming. I managed to be pleasant, a useful survival skill. She called in the special ed director after ten minutes, and a half hour later we were decided and I only had to say “violence” one time.

I just know I am grateful for having a room full of women who could see how the IEP was not being followed and agree that we could do better and a change was in order.
I was planning for a fight and I got consensus.

I hear horror stories all the time from other parents of autistic kids. I can’t tell Oldest until the last day of the week that he is changing classrooms. I hope he knows he did this for himself, that his voice was heard. I wish it were different but he will have to be making choices to protect himself over and over from those who lack empathy. Funny how neurotypicals claim it’s the autistics who haven’t got any.

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Filed under ADHD, ASD, Asperger's, Autism, Bully, Bullying, Child Abuse, Child Psychology, Domestic Abuse, Domestic Violence, IEP, PTSD, SIngle Parenting, Trauma, Uncategorized

Five Years Out- What I Learned This Year

We have been free for five years. The criminal order of protection expires in six years. We are down to two appointments per week from eight. I don’t have to log violent incidents because they are so few and far between. Here is what I have learned lately:

If you have a violent or hyper child, try cutting out dairy. Every bit of dairy, even butter, even buttermilk pancakes. Taking away dairy works like an antipsychotic, I am telling you true.

Your birth control pills or your estrogen can be making you sick. The side effects I am free from now that I have gotten off of The Pill are:
Stomach pain
Extreme persistent hunger
Eyes too dry to use contacts in
Cracking skin
Agoraphobic tendencies
Weight gain
Exhaustion
Sudden flares of temper
Irritability

I never suspected my Pill was hampering my recovery. Hard to control your PTSD when you are tired and irritable! Why was I on the Pill, when I live like a nun? For cysts. I get cysts inside and out and I would rather have them than the stomach pain I ended up with. Cyst pain is easier to deal with than that.

My Oldest Son did not experience his yearly regression. Possible reasons for the relief: 1)his obsessive and pervasive tendency to check out of reality and into books as a coping method
2)his anti-anxiety medication

He did NOT, however, ever gain back some of the skills he lost last year when he regressed. He is currently showing signs of stress- chewing his shirts, so I am still holding my breath a bit. But school is over in a week. I think this is going to be a regression free year.

It’s okay to be lazy. Sometimes you can’t go go go.

Thanks to the Sheriff, the DA, the DV Liaison, the Medical Team, and the friend who let us move into her basement almost five years ago. You made all things possible.

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But It’s Not A Real Gun

My son had five minutes left to play outside last night and he chose to spend it with a SuperSoaker. He came bursting out of the house and opened fire on his friends. I walked out towards the common area of the complex and noticed a police car parked in the lot.

I told my son to go put the gun down in the house or put it at his feet and I would retrieve it.
He wanted to know why and I told him because the police were on the property and he is never to have a gun of any kind in front of the police. Not even a stick he is aiming.

He argued with me.

But I can’t compromise on this. He has to develop a habit of taking the safest road and also show respect for the badge. This is a line he cannot afford to think of crossing.

This gun is bright orange, and he argues quite rightly that the police can tell it is fake. It helps that it is oversized. But color is not an indicator any longer.

Have you seen firearms wrapped in cartoon or brightly colored duct tape? I have. That is a clever and scary adaptation. I got the pics in my Facebook feed years ago and I was so shaken that I refused to share them with non-LE. Not the sort of thing you want to blow up into a trend.

The burden is always on the officer to discern threat, yes, but we have a responsibility to appear non-threatening, too. Why they don’t teach these things in school I will never understand.

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When Your Issues Clash

I hate video. I can watch movies, sometimes. Tension can bother me, suspense might bother me, and sometimes I just cannot sit still. I never watch them. Apologies to all those on my reading list here who put up videos. I read whatever you say about them, but I don’t watch them.

I can be triggered by videos as much as I can by real life. Loud noises, violence, aggression, sudden movements. In real life I am often triggered by my own children. They squabble, they scream, they run here and there, they jump up and down. It’s not like I lose it, but I can feel myself close to an edge. I have to calm them, remove them from the situation, distract them, or turn away when they are using the trampoline.

I have read a lot of books and articles on children. PTSD kids, trauma kids, autistic kids, ODD kids, ADHD kids. However, when I come across videos when researching an issue I just skip them. Because video.

Which is not so bright of me, I think.

Who should I be learning about kids from? Doctors? Yes. Doctors are good sources of information but it is just as important that I learn about children from children. Normally this is through children who have grown up and can vividly recall what it was like to be traumatized/developing autistic/angry/distracted. There is precious little out there from this last source. But that is changing.

I have known about and read about Amythest Schaber for years. But I have not been able to watch her videos, despite the fact that she has a pleasant voice and face. I just would rather read than listen because of my issues.

But I hit upon a solution for videos lately. I have been trying to keep abreast of Standing Rock events and live streaming video has been more informative on that issue than news articles. I put on the video and then I don’t watch it. I look away at pictures or something not moving and I go back and forth to manage the stimulation.

So after learning this trick this week (I know, seems simple to you but I have had this aversion…) I put on some videos by Amythest Schaber and found that what I term a regression she is calling autistic burnout. I had no idea that they could be the same thing.

The psychologist and I had begun crafting a plan to try to keep this year’s regression from happening to Oldest Son. We were going to treat it as a sort of breakdown, and were going to try to limit his overload and provide more one on one time and engage him in identifying and treating his feelings in the months leading up to his typical regression time. After listening to Amythest’s take on it I know now to add sensory diet into that plan. I am certain we will come up with more in the next few weeks, after the New Year it will become more critical. So we were on the right track but I ought to have more access to information now that I have the correct terminology.

So this is an example of how my own issues have limited my parenting. I think the date on that video was 2014. I ought to have watched it back then.

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One Less Appointment

My Oldest Son has been seeing a physical therapist for four years. A child psychologist for three years, a skills therapist for four years (with a year off when there was no provider), and a child psychiatrist for two years. He also had social skills education at school for two years and a social group run by a psychologist with other autistic kids for over two years.

Yesterday the skills therapist released him as a client. He said the difference between my son of two years ago and my son today is night and day, and Oldest Son no longer requires his services.

We had brought the frequency of appointments down from twice monthly to once a month. So though I still have a lot of appointments per week, I get to drop one per month.

I wish I learned that quickly.

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Flu Shots

So my little family went in for flu shots. I was totally prepared. I had informed them beforehand, soothed their fears. I volunteered to go first, set up the order in which we would get the shots, and brought the candy.

Best laid plans, you know.

So I got my shot. Didn’t even hurt, which was surprising. I was very happy to be able to tell the children this.

Next was my Oldest Child, who immediately began his autistic scream (we call it that because of the decibel he hits- no one else seems able to screech so loud). He screamed and I reasoned with him. Middle Child took that moment to escape. I chased him down and found the nurse had made no headway with Oldest Child upon our return. I threatened to ground Oldest Child unless he would come quietly. He insisted I ought to ground him instead of giving him the shot. Oops. Middle Child escapes again, and returns from down the hallway upon being threatened with grounding. Grounding in our house means no video games, a horrible fate.

I can see Oldest Child has lost his hold on logic so I hold him down over the exam table and free his shoulder for the nurse. He gets his shot. He gets his candy. His screaming ceases. We turn to Middle Child, who looks to his big brother. I prompt him: “Oldest Child, please tell Middle Child that it didn’t hurt, he is scared.” Oldest Child picks up his comic book and with the biggest grin ever on his handsome face, a grin so big that his dimple becomes a crease, he says “IT HURT A LOT!” and he laughs. I tell him to cut it out and tell the truth, to help me out, and he repeats it, all of it, even the laugh.

Middle Child starts screeching and sinking to the floor. Had I any inclination the visit would go this way I would have had him out of his coat already. So I not only had to wrestle him off the floor, I also had to get him out of a heavy winter coat and somehow bare his arm. His candy rolled across the floor during the scuffle, the nurse frantically warned me not to choke him (trust me lady I know how to wrestle this kid) and somehow I got him pinned and she took the opening and gave him his shot. Thank goodness the nurse wasn’t about to argue with the kids or get help. She let me manhandle them like the Rottweilers I used to restrain when I was a veterinary technician, and she availed herself of opportunity.

The baby is by this time scared out of her mind. Middle Child did not feel the shot, because they don’t actually hurt. He made sure to tell her immediately, a kindness I sure appreciated. She was crying but she got up on the exam table like a civilized child and she clung to me while she got her shot and her lollipop and her sticker. She was relieved it did not hurt.

I don’t know if next year I should ask the the sitter to come along with me or if I should just practice on them for a few weeks prior- by pinching them on the arm while they sit quietly. Because even a gentle pinch is going to hurt ten times more than this shot did.

The boys are grounded for two weeks for throwing fits. The Oldest is grounded for two weeks and five days, because he ended up insisting five times that the shot hurt, and I give consequences for lies.

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Feeling Unmoored

I have not slept well since before my father passed away. My memory has been affected, I am having so much trouble remembering even basic things- and it is affecting my work. I am trying to hide it. My kids lost out on having breakfast at school this next month because I forgot to turn in their menus over the past two days. I just now huddled over them on the floor and scanned them into my phone and emailed them in as a desperate attempt to see them fed- and they already get breakfast before they leave here! Why do I do it to myself?

I am running on empty and I get why people give up and give their kids a handful of M&Ms for dinner. I get it. But when I do that my children have meltdowns from the sugar and end up whining for M&Ms at each meal, and I regret it tenfold.

My middle son I just found in bed hitting himself in the head and crying because he doesn’t want to take swimming classes, and he has swimming in the morning. I get that he is afraid of drying drops and I get that he is afraid of swimmer’s ear and I get it. But to be seven years old and so disturbed that you are trying to hurt yourself over disliking drying drops is too much. I gently dragged him out of bed and taught him how to do push ups. I told him if he wants to hurt himself this is the best option, because it builds up the muscles he wants for archery and fencing. His form sucks but it doesn’t matter. He has to learn some healthy way to deal with things- and I hope this sticks. I hope with everything in me. I grieve for who he will be, how life will torture him, if his resilience is such as this. It hurts so much to watch him tear up over everything, to see him rankle at the word “no”. I want to give up, give in, cry myself dry. He is not violent any longer but he seems unable to cope.

My oldest child seems to be doing well, but he never looks up. He has no idea what is happening around him, he does not relate to anyone but rarely. He is always in a book- he is never present. At conferences the teacher told me she doesn’t want to stop him from reading but he has to do his math. I can relate. Two days ago Middle Child stopped him from walking into traffic with a book in front of his face. He is using it for sensory deprivation, I get that. Autistic kids are easily overwhelmed, but this is about growth and safety and health, too. His books are not a coping tool any longer, they are methods of escape. I have to treat books now like screens and designate times for them, take them away, etc. He won’t develop if he doesn’t participate in his life.

My house is dirty. We had archery all week, an hour and a half each night, and I have only had time to cook and feed them and clean up. I prepped food all last weekend and it was gone in two days. Everything a person needs to do for a home I need to do, and winterize it, too. I have about six hours to get it all done this weekend plus cooking and shopping for the week. Tomorrow we have swimming and we go to the pumpkin farm and Sunday we go up to their grandmother’s- so they can see she is okay living without my father. Oldest Child has been fretting over her nearly as much as I have.

I was absent from work for a few days for things I had to do after my father passed away and I still have not caught up from that. I cannot get ahead at work, this is the second month that I am continuously behind. My desk is stacked with papers that I cannot seem to get rid of.

I spend an hour on the internet every night. An hour I ought to be cleaning or cooking or planning or remembering all the shit I forget. I want my hour to read and I want more. I want another hour to eat in peace and talk to each child one on one about their day. I am tired of never getting it all done and I am tired of feeling like a failure every time I come through that door and see the mess still there. I am calling another family meeting tomorrow and going over expectations and listing the problems I am having with keeping up, like lunches. They want lunches from home, and rightly so, being dairy intolerant- but I cannot keep up with the cooking and the packing and the unpacking. I am drowning. I don’t know if children in kindergarten and second and third grade can help me with this, but there is no one else to ask. They already do help with laundry and chores and I want to do all the rest for them but I can’t figure out how. I need more time. I need another me.

I have neighbors with clean houses who also work full time. I don’t know how they do that.

 

 

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