I’m Back

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It’s been a long time since I updated, thanks mostly to my chromebook keyboard suddenly ceasing to work properly. I don’t know what happened, it just stopped working one day. Then a few weeks later, half the keys worked but there was no real pattern to it. So I finally got a wireless USB keyboard and mouse from my dad, and now I can use my chromebook again! YAY!

ji2So anyway, kindergarten started off great. The first day was, in JI’s words, “Absolutely perfect”. I cried for about twenty minutes when he got home. Day two… shit hit the fan. My son JI was sent to the peak aka behaviour room. Day three, okay. Day four, his behaviour was so bad that I had to pick him up early and he was asked to not return. They wrote on the report that he assaulted a teacher. He’s five. He kicked her because she got too close. JI was off for the next week as we tried to find a spot in an ED classroom rather than the general SpEd/Autism room he was in the first week. We got a spot at a different school, and he attended half days at the original school for a week until the transportation was figured out.

He’s been at the new school for a full week, three days, plus Monday and Tuesday. Monday was his first rough day, but he got himself under control. Yesterday after lunch/recess, I guess he started melting down and couldn’t stop. The teacher called me at 2:45pm, and I could hear JI screaming. He said JI was throwing chairs, trying to bite/hit/kick, took off his socks and shoes and threw them, etc. He wouldn’t or couldn’t calm down. It wasn’t until they told him I wouldn’t be coming that he calmed down to get on line for the bus.

jiThe problem is that he doesn’t act like this at home. He doesn’t get violent or aggressive towards me or any other people – and to be clear, he wasn’t at school either, not towards any kids or adults until the adults attempted to get close to him. If he and I have a disagreement, I either remind him of his choices or I tell him the consequences of not doing what he’s told. I’m frustrated because I’m not the special education teacher, I’m not the expert, but they expect me to tell them what to do. I don’t know what to do because he does not do this around me! There was a short period of time when he did, but we suffered through it and moved on. I merely held my ground.

Is JI trying to feel them out? Is there something about school that changes a kid’s personality? Will this eventually pass, or is my high functioning, highly intelligent, super cute, loving autistic child doomed to end up in juvenile detention or some kind of home?! I know it’s the first incident but the way things went at the last school, I’m really nervous. We had a conversation last night and this morning about how he should act when he’s upset or angry, and I hope it sticks.

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Parenting my Autistic Child

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I had planned to post a few times a week now that summer vacation has started, but then, as always, time got away from me. It’s good though, being busy. I lost three of my clients and gained two, but I only had a week off in between, so everything I planned to do with only three kids had to be altered to involve five kids – two of whom are autistic. I’ll manage though, because I have no other choice. I just keep working and saving my money for the inevitable day when the house gets taken away.

Today I want to talk about parenting an autistic child. As I mentioned in my last post, itwp-1465917157645.jpg amazes me how many levels/severities/etc of autism I’ve encountered. My friend has two autistic kids and they’re different from each other, JI is different from them, and kids I’ve met in therapy/meetings/classes are different from them and each other. For me, that is the most frustrating part of being an autism parent. Yes, our kids all share certain traits, but even those traits aren’t necessarily addressed in the same way from child to child. I think that is one of the reasons why this past school year was so difficult.

I know exactly how to parent JI. We went through our rough patches, horrific patches, sad and frustrating patches. Now I know what I’m doing, how to handle his meltdowns, tantrums, fears, etc. Obviously I can’t predict everything or solve every problem, but I am really REALLY wp-1465917063884.jpgfucking amazing when it comes to parenting my child. It is so upsetting and frustrating when teachers or family members want to do things that I know will cause problems. It is absolutely infuriating when they refuse to follow my suggestions or directions. I understand that the educators’ job is to push JI, to teach him how to behave in certain situations, and that they are the experts at their job. It hurts me when he gets in trouble at school just for being himself, for doing things he can’t yet control, like lashing out physically. They say it’s not true, but I know he was labelled “The Bad Kid” in his class last year. I could tell by the way they talked about him, the way they dealt with him, the punishments and discipline he received.

If JI doesn’t want to do something, there are consequences. I utilize the amazing and wonderful 1-2-3 Magic system, and it works if you are committed to it – not gonna lie, it fails if you fail at keeping strong! You must use the system the right way, every time. With JI, there is no negotiating, there are no “threats”, just warning and then consequence. If he does something absolutely deplorable, such as intentionally injure someone, then he does get a more severe consequence. Unlike school, however, he does have the option to earn his things back. I make sure to recognize when he’s done something great, so that he doesn’t feel like he’s being “bad” all the time. I have to admit though, I have lost my shit on him more than once, because I’m a human being. It gets to be a lot, caring for five or six kids for 10 hours a day, and rarely having a moment alone from children. JI and I had a blow up the other day where I just lost it and yelled “Why does everything have to be a fight with you?!” and proceeded to list all the things he fought with me about that day. Not my best parenting moment by far, but I think it actually made him realize that sometimes it is easier to just go with the flow rather than resist so much. A huge part of his diagnosis was the rigidity, and it is by far our biggest obstacle to typical childhood.

I am hoping that kindergarten will be a new fresh start. JI says he hates school because hewp-1465916954013.jpg hates friends and hates to learn. I reminded him that he is learning every day, by asking questions, watching videos, helping me do things around the house, etc. He said that I
should just teach him at home! Well, homeschooling would be amazing if I didn’t have four or five other kids here to deal with, and if I could actually find a way to get JI to socialize in groups of peers. I guess we’ll just keep praying that the kindergarten plan works out.

Summertime Rules

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There are quite a few articles going around right now about how parents need to let their kid have the “1970s Summer”, and I could not agree more! I remember summer being an amazing time of playing outside with my friends, riding my bike all over the neighborhood, creating adventures and fantastical stories, putting on plays and using my imagination in the most amazing ways. I had a computer, and I would use it on rainy days, and we had a TV, and sometimes I just wanted to stay inside and watch TV all day or play with my Barbies for hours. Regardless, my mom and dad basically did little to entertain me. My dad would take me to the park after he got home from work or on weekends, but otherwise I was left to my own devices. When my brother Scrod was old enough to play, they had a harder time with him because he wanted to do EVERY SINGLE SPORT in the world (except soccer), so they had to run him all over the place and go to practices and games and all that crap. Not me!

But I digress.

Having a four year old is a little different from having a five year old, and having a kid period is very different from it was in the 70s, 80s, and even 90s. These days everyone is in everyone’s business, and not in the good way like it was back then. Now, instead of the village helping raise the children and looking out for each other’s families, the village is poised ready to attack when they see another parent doing something they disagree with. You have probably heard recently about somwpid-20150530_121405_20150602000413349.jpge parents who ran into trouble with the law – twice! – because they let their kids walk home from school and go to the park alone. The kids were ten and almost seven years old! If I thought he’d come back at a reasonable time and could pay attention to traffic, I’d have no problem sending JI to the park by himself. He’s just a bit too young and irresponsible this summer – maybe next summer.

My point is, though, and I think the point of the other parents writing these articles, is that we really need to disengage from the idea that children run our world or our lives. I have a few more posts coming up that will be discussing this subject, and I look forward to discussing with my readers about the subject. Back in my childhood, my parents were #1 – not me. Yes, I got everything I needed and practically everything I wanted. I was not neglected in any way. But my parents didn’t bow to me, they didn’t hover over me to ensure success, they didn’t pave the way with pillows so that I’d never get hurt. I had to take my lumps and learn my lessons just like they did. I don’t know when the shift occurred from family centric (ie, do what is good for all involved) to child centric (ie, make sure each child gets exactly what they want/need at all costs).

This brings me back to the idea of an 80s summer (I wasn’t alive in the 70s hehe), which is what I want for JI, and what I will be doing my best to accomplish for him. Yes, that statement sounds like I’m being child centric, but let me lay it out for you. I wpid-20150530_092849.jpgwill not be planning many activities. I will not be driving him to COSI, the Zoo, a hundred play-dates, museums, classes, etc. etc. etc. Yeah, we will probably go to the Zoo once or twice a week – because I LOVE the zoo and we have a membership and it is free. Sure, we will hit up COSI a couple of times every month, because we have a membership and it is free. I’m not going to go broke trying to entertain my child. I want him to get dirty. I’m going to let him eat lots of popsicles. I want him to get scraped knees and bruises because he is playing so hard. (Disclaimer: I don’t actually want my kid to get hurt! But if he does, it won’t be the end of the world.) The way he climbs without fear makes me worried that this might be the summer of a broken limb. I’m going to utilize The Bored Jar. I’m going to send him out in the morning after breakfast, let him in for lunch, send him back out until snack time, and then maybe I’ll sit him down for an activity. If I feel like it. I’m going to let him get sticky and filthy and have black bare feet. I want him to remember this summer as an amazing, awesome, wonderful time when he got to grow up and be a real boy instead of mommy’s baby.

But he’ll always be my baby, we all know that.

So the rules of this summer are as follows:

  1. No whining.
  2. No begging.
  3. If it looks fun, do it.
  4. If you get hurt, tell me.
  5. Be brave.
  6. Be strong.
  7. Use your brain.
  8. Use your muscles.
  9. Drink from the hose.
  10. Have fun!
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This is what adults do for fun in the summertime…

Mom… I’m Bored!

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Kids are always looking for things to do, and we do not always have the desire, time, or patience to entertain them. This summer, I will be utilizing a popular trend, The Bored Jar. I am going to fill our Bored Jar with the following 50 activities that JI can complete with little to no assistance from Poke or me. As I stated in a previous post, this summer is going to be the summer of growing, and I plan on helping JI mature by giving him more responsibility and more trust. I want him to learn to be his own “man”, so to speak! Also, when it gets hot, I get suuuuuuuuuuper lazy. Not gonna lie.

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  1. Clean the bathroom floor
  2. Pull weeds
  3. Work in workbook (or other skills activity, such as tracing letters)
  4. Play on slip’n’slide
  5. Wipe down all inside doors with magic eraser
  6. Play in the sprinkler
  7. Draw with chalk outside
  8. Draw with chalk inside (if you have a chalkboard!)
  9. Do 20 jumping jacks
  10. Draw a picture for a friend
  11. Put away laundry
  12. Clean the toilet
  13. Wipe down counters/tables
  14. Read for at least 10 minutes
  15. Go on a treasure hunt (make up lists in advance!)
  16. Tell me a story
  17. Play with bubbles
  18. Go swimming
  19. Run from A to B 10 times (ours would be deck to fence)
  20. Build a fort
  21. Make an alphabet list (candies A-Z, characters, boys/girls names, etc.)
  22. Vacuum living room
  23. Vacuum bedrooms
  24. Play with sibling(s)
  25. Ride your bike
  26. Swiffer the kitchen
  27. Jump on the trampoline for 10 minutes
  28. 10 minute dance party
  29. Do a puzzle
  30. Play a board game
  31. Paint
  32. Play in the basement (or another room they rarely utilize)
  33. Clean all the mirrors in the house
  34. Dust house
  35. Have a picnic
  36. Wash dishes
  37. Pick up all the trash/toys/miscellaneous stuff around the house
  38. Wash the car
  39. Feed the pets
  40. Clean the bathtub
  41. Draw a picture of your family
  42. Watch a movie
  43. Pick a new recipe for dinner from a kids’ cookbook
  44. Play hide and seek
  45. Learn a new kid-friendly recipe (no bake pie, PBJ, etc.)
  46. Play dress up
  47. Do a “photoshoot” – give your kid a disposable camera or clear out your digital cam and let them go crazy!
  48. Spin in a circle until you fall over
  49. Play basketball/soccer/baseball
  50. Set up croquet or mini golf (or badminton or volleyball – use what you have!)

A Day in the Life

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12am: Feed Squeaks
1am: Fall asleep to an old episode of “CSI” on hulu+
2am: Wake up when JI crawls into our bed
3:45am: Wake up to feed Squeaks
5am: Back to sleep
7:55am: Wake up to get JI ready for school
8:20am: Bus is here!
wpid-collage_20150417104056590_20150417104254875.jpg8:21-11:30am: Doctors’ appointments, grocery shopping, eat breakfast, feed Squeaks, major projects, cuddle with Squeaks.

11:45-11:57am: Bus is here! JI arrives home from school.

12pm-2pm: Lunch for me and Squeaks. JI begins his plea for tablet time. When he gets it and for how long depend on whether he got green, yellow, or red behaviour at school that day. I will try to get him to go outside or do something constructive, but 9/10 he will end up vegging out and watching TV. JI is fairly worthless after school and I think it is because his brain and sensory processing center need to take a break to recharge.

2pm: Poke wakes up. I will debrief him on the events of the day, and hopefully get to take a nap.

4pm-7pm: Poke leaves for work and I’m back on parenting duty. Generally JI will play the tablet for a while, Squeaks will nap, and I will get my chores done. If it is nice, I’ll send JI outside to play. Our backyard is completely fenced in so I just check on him occasionally while I get my work done. If the weather is yucky, this is when I try to get crafts or activities done with JI. He’s not a fan of either, or of games/coloring/etc, so bad weather days can be really challenging. Sometimes I can’t stand the whining and he gets unlimited tablet time.

7-8:30pm: Dinner! I almost always let JI choose, for two reasons: 1) I want him to eat, and if I give him something he’s not tasting for, he won’t, and 2) I honestly don’t care what we have. It’s just the two of us so there’s nothing that’s too difficult to make for two people. Plus it gives him the power of choice and, depending on the dish, the ability to make his own dinner. He can make his own PB&J, get yogurt and fruit from the fridge, or use scissors to open fruit snacks and graham crackers.
After dinner it is brother bathtime, on every alternating day, unless someone is really filthy. JI and Squeaks both love to take baths! It is harder to get JI out than in; Squeaks doesn’t have a choice.wpid-collage_20150417103859324.jpg
Once bathtime is over, we watch a movie or a few episodes of a show on Netflix or Hulu+. JI has recently gotten into “Pocoyo” and I LOVE it! So much better than “Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas”,  which was the preferred movie from December 2014 to March 2015. Ugh. Usually during this time, I’ll feed Squeaks so that he’ll fall asleep before it is time for me to put JI down.

8:30pm: Bedtime for JI. We’ll read a couple stories, then it is lights out. I love this time of day because it is when JI is finally unwound. We have our special talks at this time, and I learn so much about him and what’s going on in his little mind. We cuddle, and he almost always falls asleep within moments of crawling into my arms.

9:15pm-12am: Aaaaah, mommy time. I will eat a special snack, catch up on TV and social media, and work on the blog and my Pampered Chef business. I actually don’t get a ton of work done during this time, because I have found that if I get my brain going this late at night, I can’t fall asleep.

12am: Feed Squeaks… and the cycle begins again!