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.

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.

Breaking News! AAP to Change Stance on Screen Time!

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Mothers everywhere, relax. You’re no longer a bad mom. From The Huffington Post:

Parents across the Internet rejoiced this week, declaring themselves well rid of “screen time guilt” after an announcement by the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly signaled it will amend media guidelines discouraging screen time for children under two and limiting it to two hours a day for older kids… after the organization’s 2016 national conference on the topic.

12003340_10153677979509801_2764872134249134331_nSo does that mean we can go ahead and let the TV babysit our kids? Of course not. But it does mean that the American Academy of Pediatrics is finally going to be up to date with the way real people live their lives. I’ll be the first to admit, as I have in the past, that screen time (a term I absolutely hate, by the way) plays a HUGE part in our everyday lives. Because JI’s brain is moving so fast and he has such a difficult time focusing and calming down, the tablet has always been a great way to get him to do those things. It’s also a great motivator, reward, etc. He plays with12027586_10153685243159801_9117712163234884203_n educational apps, such as Nick Jr (on the computer only), ABC Mouse, and Math Monkey to name a few. He also plays games such as Plants vs Zombies, which might not be educational per say, but that require a higher level of thinking and planning. I started playing PvZ when I was in my mid 20’s and had a difficult time beating some of the levels – hell, I still have a hard time with some of them! JI can fly through level after level with ease, earning the gems and sprouts and so forth that help him advance to higher levels. It’s amazing. Even Poke can’t play as well as JI does!

JI doesn’t care for movies or many TV shows, but he does like to watch videos on YouTube of people playing video games. He watches them play, and then goes and plays the same game and beats it right away. It’s not like he’s taking the easy way either, because he usually doesn’t follow their directions (ha!) and if he does, it’s only for levels that he’s really struggling with. The rest of the time he12002368_10153667994864801_3267765275522840393_o watches them for entertainment. JI also likes to watch videos of tornadoes, hurricanes, and other crazy weather stuff. He’s been interested in weather since he was a newborn, and meteorologist is on his list of things to be when he grows up.

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Is this your idea of fun, mom? Where is the tablet?

Would I like for JI to be more in tune with the present moment? Yes. But I know my child will never be that way. I used to think I was a bad mom because I couldn’t get him to play with toys or do puzzles or anything like that. Then I realized, through the whole autism evaluation process, that those things are, for lack of better words, beneath him. JI never played with toys creatively, and if he did play with a toy he played exactly how it was supposed to be used – ie, A spoon is for stirring, it cannot be a drumstick, and a pot is for cooking, it cannot be a drum. He gets angry at “silly” things. If he doesn’t see the point to what you’re asking him to do, he won’t do it. Using the tablet lets him be creative and learn at the same time, while also challenging him and adapting to his current cognitive level. Who knows? Maybe he’ll be an app developer and put mommy in the fanciest nursing home!

JI Evaluation Update

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So, no answers today. They’re referring us for behavioural therapy and scheduling a targeted evaluation. They will specifically screen for autism as well as give him an IQ test. She said normally she would not suspect autism based on his overall behaviour, but since the autistic behaviours that he exhibited in the past have gotten worse and more have come up, she wants the targeted evaluation. In regards to the IQ test, she said it is possible that he’s above average in some or most categories, but below average in another, which could be causing his behaviour problems.

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I don’t know how to feel right now. Like I’ve said before, I don’t want my kid to be autistic, but I want some kind of answers. It sucks being in this diagnostic limbo.

Busy, Busy, Busy!

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OMG you guys. I feel like I have been hit by a steamroller. I mean, for real.

wpid-20150428_183011.jpgSaturday we went to a pirate party at one of our local malls. It was freakin’ ridiculous. My best friend Lola and her daughter Lulu invited us, and we had gone last year and had fun. Well, this year, not so much. The best part of the outing was sitting in the food court eating lunch! JI actually ate almost all of his Chick-fil-a (grumble grumble), and I got to have some tasty, tasty Charley’s Philly and fries.

Then we headed over to the court outside of Sears, where people had already started congregating and going to each pirate station. Last year they had all the tables spread out, and it was not at all crowded. This year, they had all the tables in wpid-collage_20150429111007478.jpga very small area, and it was packed. For some reason, they also had the ramp roped off, so I was basically stuck outside the party area or inside it at the top of the steps. Wtf. So Lola tried to take the kids around to each table, because the point of the pirate party is to get a stamp on each island of your treasure map, and when you get all of them you earn a prize from the treasure chest. Well JI was starting to have a moment, because they sensory overload was at the tipping point. I was in panic mode myself, and had already started sweating, literally. Finally Lola and Lulu gave up, jacked a stamper, and well… let’s just say we earned our piece of candy! I should have known better than to take JI, given his recent downturn in coping skills, but I am just so in denial sometimes that I really think he can do normal things – and that I can do normal things – without freaking out. Damn.

Sunday, Poke was off, so I secretly arranged a babysitter for us so we could go out to dinner and karaoke. Of course we went to our favorite Mexican spot, Casa Hacienda, and started the nighwpid-20150422_165400.jpgt with awesome food and super strong margaritas. I also had a Paloma, which was basically tequila and sprite with a cherry in it, and Poke had a mojito. Noms. Then we came back home to charge our phones, because there was still an hour til karaoke started, and I had a beer while Poke took a nap. Being a parent is quite boring sometimes. We headed out to karaoke, where we met a couple of our friends and then there was drama, which I will be discussing in a different post, because it involves my recent connection with my bio mom. Seriously? Yes. For realzies.

Anyway, we had an excellent time (other than about an hour in the middle), ate some deliciously random pizza as well as authentic tacos from a truck, and actually hit up two different bars (because we had to leave the first one lol). I got to see my favorite bartender from years ago, whom I haven’t seen in probably two years, and reconnected with another friend that I haven’t seen in over a year. Being pregnant really puts a kink in your social lifewpid-20150423_071710.jpg when said social life revolves around bars and beers! On the way home, I blasted Usher and sang at the top of my lungs. It was a good time. Our babysitter told us she’d keep the boys overnight, so we actually got to sleep in until like 9:30am on Monday! Woah!

JI was off school Monday, so we all basically laid around the house not doing a damn thing all day. Poke had a dentist appointment, but that was it. We ate majorly unhealthy food, we drank too much Kool-Aid, JI played outside with his jammies and socks on. It was a fine day for everyone. Let me tell you though, I really really cannot throw down like I used to… ugh. I can’t believe that Poke and I used to go out and drink every single night! I mean what the heck?! How did I even make it through my twenties?!

Tuesday we had to stay up after JI went to school, to go to our couples’ counseling session. It was a good session. Afterwards I dropped Poke at home, and went grocery shopping. I also got my tooth fixed yesterday! Back when I was eleven years old, I got hit in the mouth with a full glass bottle of pop (I think it was pop… definitely was not beer?). Since then, for wpid-20150426_180943.jpg22 years, I’ve had a crack in my front tooth. It never bothered me, it never messed up my tooth in any way other than tada! a line down the center of my tooth. Well my dentist was like “Hey, how about we get rid of that crack?” so for $130, bam! New tooth! They sanded it down and filled it in and now it looks like a plain old tooth. I kinda miss the crack LOL I’ve had it for so long that it is weird to look at my tooth without it!

I’ve started on my outdoor chores, cutting the grass, cleaning up the garden beds, getting JI’s toys out and washed, and all that stuff. I love spring because I love being outside doing stuff. Don’t ask me to go on a hike, or a walk, or anything like that – boooooooring. I like to dig and plant and mow, I like to empty out the whole shed and reorganize it (my next project!), I like to rake and whack weeds. I really love to do chores!

And that, my friends, has been my super busy past four days. I still have a headache, because it won’t completely go away until November, and I am so incredibly tired. Between Squeaks being awake more often and JI’s weird sleeping schedule of late, I really don’t sleep – I just take a series of naps. Short naps. Oh well, thus is life as a parent!

And now for a video of me, singing: