Tag Archives: Asperger’s

Zoloft And Conferences

So the boys had their conferences this past week.

Middle Child was first. Despite the violence of the prior five days (thank you, Zoloft), his conference went well. We had it in private, even, and there were no negatives. He is active in self-regulation in the classroom, segregating himself from the group during most floor times and wearing the noise muffling headset quite often.

What surprised me was that he was well liked, and despite his distaste for homework he scored above average on all of it.

She said he is always smiling, always happy.

Much better than the last school, which was destroying his self esteem.

Oldest son had his conference the next day. He is lucky enough to be in a class that contains a half dozen other kids who are super bright and also very strong readers. The teacher said that he has his moments of not wanting to do his classwork, but that he is capable and comes around. I was a bit surprised, and asked her about his math homework from the night before, because he had me walk him through it. She told me that he knows it. She said he has no issues with retaining what he learns. Which was nice to hear and not what I expected. Compare this to last year, when he would lay on a chair and moan and kick during math class. No behaviours like that at this school. He has begun attending a social skills group daily, with five other students, and that makes me immensely happy. Because it is in his IEP and his teacher is trying to comply with it. So many schools do not even try, do not even read it, so you can see why this makes me seriously warm and fuzzy inside.

This is the honeymoon conference, though. The one after Christmas will be the real deal in my book.

Zoloft has been a magic pill for Oldest Child and a curse for Middle Child. I was seriously triggered by Middle Child’s temper and his violence, and it was a rough week especially considering that I was ill, Oldest Child was ill, and there was little sleep to be had. I tried waiting for his psychiatric nurse to return from vacation before making any move, but after I got a teacher’s note about hitting and kicking students for the third day in a row I yanked him off of it and side effects be damned. Luckily there were not any.  I got a note in response to my update to the psychiatric nurse telling me to take him off of the meds the next day. It is so nice to have no report from the teacher every day since, I cannot tell you how it relaxes me to find nothing written in his folder at the end of the day.

Today we went to gymnastics for middle child and after that no one wanted to do much of anything, the children did not even want to go to the store, so we stayed in and I promptly fell asleep and missed an entire afternoon of cleaning. So nothing is done save the morning’s baking and laundry, and tomorrow I have to do it all. I needed the sleep though, have needed it for over a week since we got sick.

There was no fighting in my house today. Everyone behaved well, even with emotionally charged disagreements. This is a huge deal, that most days are now like this. It used to be quite the opposite and I could not leave them for a minute. I am so lucky to be in a space big enough for them to get away from each other and manage their emotions. I am so lucky to have a good medical team for them and a school that is accommodating. Cutting down on the stress for PTSD kids is a very helpful thing.

Middle Child is still not drinking milk or eating milk products, and as best as I can tell it is helping him. I caught him yesterday at snack at daycare about to take a drink from a glass full of a white liquid and asked him to tell me what it was first. MILK! Oops for the daycare! Hopefully they improve on this..

We are working on identifying emotions and emotional needs (perpetually we work on this), walking away from angry people, and listening to our gut. I especially want my Oldest Son to quit situations where people are angry, since he doesn’t pick up on escalating emotions. I want him to remove himself as soon as he observes anger in another. Remaining present and oblivious makes him a target.

The current obsessions in our house are Minecraft coding, monsters, autumn leaves, and bagels.


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Today the boys got off the bus at daycare and decided to walk home. The staff inside realized that they had not come in and chased them down the street, they got about a block before they were caught, about a fourth of their journey accomplished.

I think the new director had better appoint someone to meet the bus, like they used to do.

I asked the boys what they would do once they got home, how would they get in? The lightbulb went off and all they said was “Oh..”.

So they are in a bit of trouble tonight, lost a privilege or two. Because, as I explained to them, if they cannot leave the house without asking an adult, how could they think they were allowed to leave the daycare?

The director replaced nearly all the staff recently. The children do not know their new teachers. The teachers do not know that Oldest Child is fitted with a tracking device that pings straight to the county sheriff. Because he is considered an at-risk wanderer. And, a week after I began mulling over having the device removed, I’ve decided to keep it on him. Because today.


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Diagnosis For My Son

The doctor I saw today told me I was not autistic. He said I have Asperger’s instead, that I was definitely on the spectrum but fit into the category of Asperger’s far better than into the current DSM definition.

Just like my son.


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Last Day Of School

My son has been quoting Fred (Fred 3: Camp Fred) all week regarding the last day of school. ¨The last day of school is the best day of school.¨

But tonight when I went to turn off his light for bed I found him bawling under the covers, waiting for me to comfort him. He never cries like that unless he has lost computer privileges for a week or more.

He has had the same Special Education teacher for two years. He would have had one more year with her, had I not switched him to a new school that has the best reputation in our area for autistic children. Now, instead of looking forward to seeing her in the fall, he is going to be with people he does not know, in a room he is not familiar with, and he will not be called on to fix all the electronics anymore. They will not have all the same electronics, even.

We have an agreement, that if he does not like his new school after six weeks that I will switch him back. I am going to stick to that.

Why didn’t I give him one more year with her? Because his new school will allow him to attend into middle school, and perhaps by the time he gets to middle school age they will have expanded to all those grades, too. He can go to the same school, with the same people, for years. Smaller classes, focused on the arts and sciences, and insisting on mastery. I don’t think they will be content to pass him along, as so many special education students are.

I really hope he likes it. As much as we both love his special education teacher, and as good as she is for him, I have to try what has worked for so many others. I want to start planning for those years that are often so painful for autistic children. I don’t want all he has learned to be lost in the teen years, due to bullying or being passed. I want his spirit to continue to grow. I don’t want him to cry in the mornings before school, begging me to let him stay home. I want him to be happy.

Nothing makes you second guess your decisions for your children like their tears.

He is learning healthy emotional expression, and having an appropriate and ¨normal¨ reaction. It is a relief to see this sort of emotional intelligence in him. I just wish he did not hurt so much.


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The morning after the IEP my Asperger’s child attacked his daycare teacher, whom he has known for three years. He simply would not sit at the table and became enraged when told to do so, to calm down. He stomped on her feet, screamed, and spit at her. She called me, but she did not write it up. I have to request documentation of this.

He has had some serious consequences and lost all the privileges he ever cared about, including the only birthday party he was invited to this year. He is required to make reparations. He has already apologized. He is on guided reading, too, I have nearly a dozen books on anger and bullying for him to read.

I have had to rethink his treatment plan.

I called and had his medication increased. This is a PTSD regression, I hope. Did I mention this our anniversary month, when we all get triggered?

I then went to the county and asked for further resources. I can have him assessed, and if he meets qualifications I can receive grants for further therapies, a personal care attendant, or etc. But not a service dog. For some reason, that does not qualify.

I have to leave another message for the equine therapist. He has not returned my calls.

I am so sad about this. He has not done this for a very long time. I know this is often typical autistic behaviour, but I have never allowed it. I don’t want him to go down this road.


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IEPs Can Make You Cry

But I did not.

They said it would take an hour. It took three. Last year they said two hours, when it took four. I left work early, tried to budget enough time for it, and still got caught short. I am glad I get a chance to review it before I sign.

The team we had assembled from the school he is currently in was really caring. It took a long time, but they have begun to understand my son. It seems a shame to take him from an educational team that is trying so hard to accommodate him without coddling him. The special education representative asked me why I was moving him to her school, when it was obvious that I was happy with his team and how they were working with him and providing him with what he needed to the best of their abilities.

This is mostly what I said: He is seven. He has to switch to two more schools by the time he reaches seventh grade if I leave him here. Your school is K-7, and I assume you will be adding middle school by the time he gets there. He does not like change. Transitions regress him horribly. Keeping him in place is smarter.

He has a team of three therapists, a caseworker, a doctor, a psychologist, and a psychiatrist. More than one of the members of that team has mentioned that your school lessens symptoms in other special needs clients similar to him. He is so strong on his academics and his tech that he does his work effortlessly- after a half hour argument about why he has to do it. Your school is a science academy, the only subject he finds interesting. You teach subject mastery and Singapore math. How many special ed children are passed along from grade to grade? Not at your charter school, not with mastery. I have to try it. If he does not succeed, I send him back to his team, and cherish the time he has left there before graduating to the next school.

The charter school rep seemed a bit daunted by the amount of time he requires out of the mainstream classroom. I reminded her that we just don’t know how he will be when he gets there.

The social worker offered social skills classes three days a week all summer. I passed. My son wants his vacation. I think he has earned it. He has improved tremendously on handwriting, accepting correction, and being present in the class. He no longer escapes into a world in his head. I did not know this. I thought he was still spacing out. So his coping must be improving, and his awareness. Now we just have to keep working towards that Theory of Mind. Once he grasps that, everything should be golden. Anyway, last summer he taught himself to read and I want to see what this summer brings him.

I have a social stories book for him, we started on it this morning. This summer each child has to go through mommy school and learn to help around the house. I think for him I should lean hard on recipes. It will help with his tendency to skip in reading. You just cannot skip recipe lines!

The largest change I made, from experience rather than from diagnosis, was to have teachers and paras introduce themselves to him every day upon meeting him. He does not know faces. He recognizes people only in predictable clothing with the same hairstyle in the same setting. I can teach him tricks to recognize people, but the school can accommodate, too.

One IEP done. Now I need to put a 504 in place for the other son.


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Managing ADHD and PTSD in the classroom

My son has ADHD. Not the sort of ADHD where people shake their heads and ask why you medicate your child at such a young age. The sort of ADHD where your son is in time out all day, weeping because he has a ¨bad heart and cannot be good¨, where he catapults over the couch repeatedly because he is trying to listen to you, but cannot sit still. The sort of ADHD where other children get hurt. Because ADHD and PTSD together make for NO IMPULSE CONTROL plus anger.

He has a good heart.  A great heart, the sort that loves small children and bugs. But he is so triggered, all the time. His ADHD makes him a walking textbook case of PTSD.

Which is why he is on medication.

But the meds are always being tuned, nothing works and keeps working as his body grows and as he acclimates to it. We have to keep tweaking the meds. To make sure they do not wear him out, or dumb him down. He needs to be himself, just under control.

His meds have been tweaked, because he was so tired a few months ago that it scared me. Now he is on time release twice daily. Clonidine. Which helps with his PTSD, a lot.

But it did not stop him from helpfully blurting out answers in class, talking out of turn, and other issues with verbal self control.

So I made him a bracelet after the med change.

It is stretchy, for comfort and fidgeting. It has little cheap plastic beads on it, in his favorite color.

When he wants to blurt something out of turn, he is supposed to move a bead over, instead.

It works like magic. But he has been using it backwards. He moves a bead over after he blurts something, instead, so his whole day is a sort of contest with himself not to move his beads over. The first day he moved three beads over. The second, two. The third day of his new bracelet no beads were moved.

His teacher has thanked me.

Other teachers in the school have been talking about it. I hope someone stumbles across this and finds that it works for them, too.

For his autistic brother I made another bracelet in the hopes it would bring good results. It is alternating dark and white beads.

The first bead is dark, for the things he wants to say but should not, like ¨I hate you¨ or ¨You’re a liar¨ which are true statements for him, but not very socially acceptable. Saying such things makes him a bully.

The second bead is white, for the appropriate thing to say. So instead of replying to a friendly ¨Hello¨ from his classmate, he will not say ¨I hate you¨ any longer (I hope!) but rather ¨Hi¨. He will still have said the wrong thing, the honest thing, in his head. To his bracelet. Then he gets to move the white bead with the appropriate response, which I hope he will say instead. Reprogramming, see? I hope this gets him thinking more about what to say. He said his first day went well. Next week will be the real test.

I wonder what the psychologist will think of my solutions.


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IEP, Anyone?

So I dropped by the school to talk to one of my son’s teachers before school started. No dice, they were out of their rooms and I cannot just wander around looking for them. I called, left a message and sat, tense and working and running my mouth about inane things all day, trying to let off a bit of steam.

I wrote down my points the night before, and again in the morning after I spoke to his county caseworker, to keep it all straight. I have a habit, when emotional, of forgetting what I need to address.

The caseworker offered to do it all for me, but I told her I would pull her in if it came down to a formal meeting. I wanted to give the teacher and the school another chance. I want to work with them, not sue.

She called back during recess. I explained to her how my son does handwriting in OT. I directed her, gently, towards the IEP, where this process is laid out and the supervision of the school Occupational Therapist is mandated. I reminded her, again, that my son does not have a brain that works like mine or hers. She said she had no idea he was so rigid, so black and white. I don’t understand how you can teach autistic kids and not notice this trait in them. I advised her on how to work with this, creating flexibility by going over schedules, schedule changes, calendars, and sequences. It really can be used in your favor, and it can be fun, too. I advised her to switch paras, because his PTSD, once triggered, is going to get in the way of his learning.
The call lasted half an hour. When I got off the phone I was covered in sweat and I felt the sort of relief one has after a good crying jag. Because it was that important, I was that intensely focused on it, and also because I think she is going to try. She is going to remove that para from his lineup. Thank goodness.

I just don’t understand how his teachers do not understand him. I know they are not his mother, they have not lived with him, etc. But my son is so classically autistic that he is an Asperger’s cliche. If you read one accurate book on Asperger’s, you are reading about my son. He fits exactly into the definition and has every trait and characteristic that his Aspie peers do.

Tonight he sat out on swimming class, glad it was dropped. I don’t care about the money. He was happy. He played a video game and talked to me occasionally and leaned up against me the entire time. He told me he loved me. He doesn’t say it as often as his brother and sister, so I know it is not a casual phrase for him. He is fantastic, fascinating. I want him to be happy. I don’t want him to be afraid anymore.


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Bullying from the Bullied – Warning: F Word Ahead

My son made his apology to his classmate today. I asked his teacher to please stop forcing them to sit together, because I don’t want his classmate to suffer one more minute. You cannot force my son to become friends with anyone. If they don’t play Minecraft or keep up on robot technology, he cannot fathom connecting with them, and his fears make him lash out. He is tired of being made fun of by others and he just does not want to make a new friend. You just cannot spark what is not there.

He has been getting in trouble for using Minecraft in his writing exercises. The teachers ask him to write about what he did over the weekend, so he writes down what he did on Minecraft. Because nothing else he has done over the weekend mattered more to him than that. He said the teachers have behaved as if they were exasperated with him for it, and have forbidden him from writing on it any further. He feels disrespected. I am pleased to see he can correctly interpret the gestures and facial expressions and get an impression like that. That is real progress.

In my opinion, cutting off an Aspie kid from their interests is like discounting him as a person. My son IS his interests. I see his interests as a way to tie things in for him. I would have him write out a Minecraft recipe, ingredients plus directions, in addition to what he did over the weekend. They would get far more writing out of him with this method. He would be happy about it, too, and he would color. Getting him to color is tough. Only for Minecraft will he color. He has poor motor skills, weak grip, and is sensitive to the drag on paper. Coloring would be good.

He admitted today, after daycare in his therapist’s office, that something was definitely wrong at school. He hates one of his paraprofessionals. She forces him to write, and makes it unpleasant. It is already unpleasant, I suppose, because the drag on paper is so annoying to him that it might be painful. So I can see why she feels as if she had to force him. But it is called Handwriting Without Tears for a reason.

I put into his IEP last year that he be allowed to use marker, gel pens, anything smooth. Dry erase boards, too. So I do not know why they are insisting on pencil. When he does not write correctly or resists, the para snatches the paper away and tells him she will wait for him to be ready, which means he could miss recess. I have requested that he not be punished for having learning disabilities. I have requested that the school allow him the only time he has there for social interaction. I asked them not to use recess as a tool. He is afraid of her, he says. He is too afraid of her to negotiate his tasks with her. He points to things and refuses to talk when she is teaching him, for fear of her anger.

I have to call the school tomorrow. I want to cry. I cannot believe that these special education professionals are treating him like he is reluctant or resistant, still, after I explained to them that HE IS AUTISTIC. He is autistic. He has auditory dysfunction and sensory processing disorder. He cannot stand a toilet flushing or the feel of pencil but he does not notice lacerations on his hands until the blood stains something he likes. His brain does not work like theirs. Can they not extend him a bit of empathy, some sympathy for having to deal with all this noise and light and bustle all day? I think he is doing great.

This is how you get him to write:
You give him the paper and you either have him trace or write something down. Then you give him silly putty for three minutes so he can work the kinks out of his fingers. Then you have him write something else. Then you time him on how fast he can crawl under the table and around the chairs and high five him. Then you have him write something else. Then you give him a sticker to put on his paper and tell him what letters or words look great. Doesn’t that sound more interesting than being stood over and scolded for resisting what hurts you? I can make it about twenty words before the pain starts in my own hands if I am writing without a keyboard, so I can literally feel his pain.

How the living fuck these people do not know this, I have no idea. He is autistic, not naughty. They are professionals. They took a kid with PTSD and ASD and SPD and they fucking made him afraid of speaking out. A disabled kid. I am calling tomorrow and I am going to be polite at first, just so that when I fucking ream them out in person in my schoolmarm clothes and huge glasses that they are completely caught off guard and the message sinks into their heads. MY SON IS NOT BAD HE IS DIFFERENT AND I WILL NOT ALLOW YOU TO SHUT HIM UP.
Kudos to me for using the F word. I have been working on that, hopefully I don’t come back and edit it out.


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Anxiety, ASD

A year ago Eldest Son began to be afraid in rooms by himself. Our apartment was so small that it was not much of an issue. I attributed it to an anniversary triggering his PTSD. Then he began to be afraid of public bathrooms.

I got him to go inside them and shut the door by knocking steadily on the outside of the door. I would call out that I was taking breaks from knocking, and if he needed to hear it he would tell me. It got worse, though, not better.

Earlier this week he wanted me on the same floor with him after dark, a sibling was no longer sufficient.

Tonight he wanted me to be inside the bathroom with him, at home.

When we moved to a house with two floors I was not surprised that he wanted one of us on the same floor as himself. But now it is back to being in the same room, and worse, if he cannot use the bathroom alone any longer. He had his sister knock on the outside of the door. I am lucky the children help him.

I got frustrated and told him I could not accommodate him with someone being in the bathroom, that being on the same floor has to be enough. I asked him, what had changed? Why was it worse today? What was he more afraid of? He could not say, it seemed. Surely if he recalled some incident he would have mentioned it. I told him it was okay if he did not want to tell me what it was, but he should think on it and tell his psychiatric nurse when we see her on Tuesday. I need to find some tips and tricks fast, I don’t want to add an anti-anxiety med to his new ADHD med. The boys are on one medication each. I want to avoid more.

I need to get him his own little flashlight, and ask him what other objects would make him feel safe, in case carrying things with him would be an easy cure. I wish I had that therapy dog, already, but I bet we will never get approved for one. He will age out by the time they go over my application.

I am so sorry for him. This is one part of the ASD I wish he could just skip. He has PTSD already. He doesn’t need more fear or more tension.


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