Autism

Coming Around Again

I’m pretty new to this blog, so I must admit I was feeling a bit sheepish about my last post.  I didn’t want to be whiney, because no one likes complainers…but, then again, I had to get it out or I felt like I was going to have a major meltdown.

So coming back here to write took me a little time, because I wanted to be more upbeat and I wasn’t feeling it until about 20 minutes ago.  Let me explain.

After my rant on Thursday I did feel better, but there were still some things that hadn’t been resolved.  My son, Master Owen, and I were not seeing eye to eye on what to do with his angry feelings and our resident Soldier (with PTSD) wasn’t helping the situation either.  I had been trying to explain to MO about how feelings–such as anger–are important to recognize and work through, but that everyone has to find positive ways of acknowledging and expressing them.

Master Owen–a growing boy (he turns 10 in a few weeks) and also on the Spectrum–has trouble with all emotions, but in particular he struggles with angry feelings.  Lately he has been getting angry a lot.  Although I encourage him to talk about it, frankly his level of anger scares me sometimes.  Instead of being a “little irritated”, he seems to jump straight to full out rage mode.  I’m a very quiet person, who mostly has pretty happy thoughts, so angry outbursts are upsetting to me.  Although I try to divert him, I’m not always successful in defusing MO’s anger.

In the last couple of months I have noticed MO begin to hit things as a way to work through his feelings.  Unfortunately hitting things (not animals or people) isn’t always safe or free from damage.  Sure, hitting a pillow is fine, but MO has opted for a little more destructive means.  Last month it was a part of the decrepit picket fence that he destroyed.  A few months ago he dug a very deep hole behind the garage without telling anyone, which can be dangerous in thickly settled neighborhoods such as ours.  These are just a few examples of many.   And–while I am thankful he hasn’t acted out toward people or animals–I have always had that notion he could somehow spin out of control and become some crazy kid beyond my help.

This morning, at MO’s appointment with his developmental psychiatrist, I brought all of the issues about MO’s growing feelings about school, not seeing his father, kids who made him mad on the bus, and a bunch of other situations up.  I was happy that the doctor assured me I wasn’t raising a sociopath, but a “normal growing boy”.  I will also admit I felt a wee bit vindicated that he confirmed what I have been saying for months: even if another child hit him, MO should never hit back in “self defense”, but should seek out an adult in charge to handle the problem.  This did NOT make MO very happy…and, I suspect, it will make his father AND our resident Soldier just as unhappy.

So, as we traveled back from the clinic, I drove rather silently wondering what I should do.  To be honest, I didn’t feel that much better, because I didn’t have a solution to the problem.  So I said a little prayer asking for some help…just a little more insight or a possible solution.  (Now–for those who are just getting to know me–please don’t take me as one of those Bible thumpers that praises God for every open parking space or something; I do pray and I am a believer in the power of prayer, but I’m not pushy about it either.)

We drove nearly 45 minutes home and nothing happened, but as I took the turn up my street you could have blown me over with a feather with what I saw!  My neighbor at the bottom of the street had put out a nearly new professional punching bag set on the curb with a $50 price tag!  It was perfect!  Without being overly overjoyed so I could maintain a modicum of coolness, I asked MO what he thought.  He gave it careful consideration–as he always does–and replied:  “Yes.  I think I would like that very much.”

In a heartbeat, I turned around and went out to talk to the seller and, before we knew it, MO was the proud owner of a brand new punching bag with a full hanging contraption AND a pair of professional boxing gloves, too.  When I told the wife how it was a little answered prayer, I found out she is a AND the mother of three boys and completely agreed it would be an excellent option for young MO!

I also procured a 42″ 8 hp snowblower in awesome condition for next to nothing, because–yeah–we live just north of Boston and everyone’s is talking about how this year will be as bad as last year…which was pretty bad.

Isn’t it amazing how these things work out?

All the best–Ritamarie

P.S. So, hey, if you have any experience with anything I’ve written or just a little advice…or you just want to talk about the snow, I’d love to hear about it.   And, as always, thanks for listening.

Autism

The crummy week

This has been a crummy week so far.  I wish I could say differently, but I can’t.
Sometimes you just have crummy days no matter how you try to turn it around or “look on the bright side”.
To start off, it has been entirely too loud around here, mainly because my neighbor is having her in-ground pool filled in.  This process, I have found out, is not a very easy one…nor is it quiet.  All week long it’s been nothing but the sound of jack hammers and construction trucks for eight to ten hours a day.  I always thought my sensory sensitivity was more about bright lighting, but I’m learning from this experience and from the early summer demolition of my roof that I may indeed have issues with sound, too.  The machine noise is so jarring to my head, I hear it when it stops for the day.  It feels like it is in my bones!   It is definitely worse than the hammering of men working on your roof, too.
In addition to all the ridiculous noise, everyone here seems to be on edge.  Master Owen’s first week back to school has been fraught with weird sleep patterns, angry outbursts, some wild rages,  and plenty of tears.  Both his and my tears.
Master Owen is autistic, so OF COURSE he hates transitioning back to school.  He is filled with anxiety.  He won’t sleep.  He yells about how he hates school…he hates his teacher…he hates the bus…he hates homework (even though he hasn’t been assigned homework yet!)…he hates everything.  Of course, all this rage is directed at me and I just have to swallow it up.
On Wednesday morning, I found him on his knees, hands held in prayer, crying.  Of course it was heartbreaking, but I guess I’ve become somewhat numb to the behavior…or really good at solving short term problems.  Yay, me!
This morning he was complaining about his stomach (he suffers from bad constipation) and asking to stay home again.  It’s only the  fourth day of school!   I said I would drive him to school–again–and I promised him a playdate with his best friend in New Hampshire.  But ultimately what really worked was lying.

As an Aspie, fibbing does NOT come easy to me.  Anyone who knows me understands that and knows I am just not a good liar.  But it was the only thing that worked!  I told MO that the school had threatened to put me in jail if we didn’t improve his attendance this year.  It’s not THAT far from the truth; by third grade we have already received two letters from the principal about getting the truant officer involved.  Despite my horrible lying skills, my story seemed to work after I gave an elaborate explanation of what life would be like for MO if I were in the slammer.
Now.. add to this mayhem several doses of “bad puppy” behavior–why is it always MO’s new shoes?–and top it off with some seriously high anxiety from a combat veteran with PTSD as he navigates his way through the VA labyrinth trying to get approved for school (which, by the way, led to the destruction of my weed whacker).  And, for good measure, let’s add that I’m still aching from my fall in the parking lot on Tuesday and, well, I’m done with this week.

Seriously…one hundred percent DONE!
I’m throwing in the towel.
Sometimes you just have to do that, I suppose, to save your sanity.

Autism

Starting another school year

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Today is Master Owen’s first day back to school; he is starting the fourth grade.

Plus, in just a few weeks, he will be turning 10–graduating to the double digit ages!!

Where has the time gone?

Because of his diagnosis (autism), Master Owen has been attending school full time since the day he turned three, making this his eighth school year. He’s practically a “pro” at the whole first-day-of-school routine; not I. Despite my fussing the past few days, I was still unprepared for this morning.

MO, on the other hand, was up FAR too early and had already picked out the clothes he was going to wear. (Yes, HE picked them out…a first!). I knew he had been giving the “turning 10” business a lot of thought in the last few weeks. We have been talking about how he needed to take school seriously and which chores he needed to start doing. So, I guess starting 4th grade, in his mind, was the beginning of his journey into Manhood.

He decided to go for the “Joe Cool” look, which included his dog tags, new sneakers, pants, shirt, jacket and sunglasses. When I suggested he might want to ditch the jacket and switch from pants to shorts, he looked at me like I had two heads. (How could I be so uncool?)

But–since I am all for cutting the apron strings–I let him go in what he felt most comfortable. Of course, he was WAY too cool for a picture, so you’ll just have to imagine it.

The uncool mother in me did give him some advice, which got turned around in typical MO fashion:

Me: “Now remember, you aren’t a grown man yet. You still have lots to learn.”

MO: “Mom. I am 100% a man!”

Me: “Oh, of course! That’s not what I was saying. I was saying you weren’t all grown up and still had many things to learn…so don’t be ‘too cool’ that you don’t pay attention.”

MO: “Oh, okay. I thought you were saying I wasn’t a man…which I am!”

Me: “Yes. Yes, you are.”

A few minutes later he was boarding the bus. I stood at the bottom with all three dogs wrapped around my legs. His new bus driver immediately said: “Whoa! Don’t you look cool!”

And I knew then he was going to be all right.