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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Kindness in their eyes


Last weekend my husband took our family horseback riding as a gift for my birthday.  As long as I can remember, horses have been a source of relaxation for me. I think it has something to do with their gentle power. There is something about the kindness in their eyes that melts my heart. Climbing on a horse takes me to another place. It has been so long since I have ridden, so this was the perfect gift!

Since our move to Texas, I have promised the boys that we would take them riding, so they were both excited. Neither one of them had ever been on a horse, so this was going to be quite an adventure. I figured Hunter was going to be a nervous wreck. Because of his Aspergers, any change is difficult for him and the unknown is even worse, so I wasn’t sure what was coming.

When we arrived at the stables, the guys working there helped each of us saddle up on the appropriate horse. Grant (non-aspie and 8 years-old) was the first to get on his horse. The horse's name was Texas. He was a large, brown, beautiful horse. Grant acted like he had been on a horse a million times. He looked so comfortable. He seemed to instinctively know what to do. I have to say that it warmed this mom’s heart.

The guys gave me a beautiful horse by the name of Poppy. Poppy was an eater. She would eat the grass and plants and leaves off the tree, so while watching over everyone as they mounted their horses, I was struggling with her a bit, but man was she fun!

Hunter (12 year-old aspie) was next. His horse was named Cookie. Cookie was a black and white spotted horse. It was the one both boys wanted, so he was pretty excited to get to ride him. Hunter had not been nervous all day (much to my surprise), but while we had been waiting for our horses, he seemed to get more and more nervous by the minute. I was really nervous to see how he would react. I was praying for no meltdowns. When it was his turn, my boy climbed on that horse like it was nothing….and I breathed a sigh of relief.

Jeff was next. I think he got the oldest horse they had!! The horse’s name was Blazer. We were all chuckling. Somehow, Hunter and Grant got the young, spry horses, and Jeff got the one who had been around the block a few times! It made for a great laugh.

We took a trail ride, and we were with several other families. Grant was so ready to go that he ended up with another family at the front of the group. I ended up few people back from him, and Hunter and Jeff (with his very slow horse) ended up at the back of the pack.

The trail ride was beautiful. It could not have been a more perfect fall day. It had rained right before our ride, so the greenery looked fresh and beautiful. It was a late afternoon ride, so the sun was starting to go down. The lakes we passed had that beautiful evening glow from the setting sun. Grant would turn around every once in a while to point out a cactus or a deer in the woods. I had to keep reminding him to HOLD ON with both hands because he was getting so excited.
 At one point, we had to go through a gate, so I trotted Poppy up to Grant to help him guide Texas. We both made it through just fine, so I turned around to check on Jeff and Hunter. I was amazed at what I found. Hunter was smiling! I mean really smiling!! I mean that innocent, childlike, nothing like it smile!! Of course I’ve seen it before, but it has been so long! It was before our move to Texas away from family, friends, and familiarity.  It was before these horrible thing called hormones invaded his body. It was before those hormones mixed with Asperger’s Syndrome making life so confusing for him and such turmoil for all of us. I teared up! I breathed! I smiled. Unlike the gentleness in the eyes of those horses, Hunter’s eyes, so many times have fear and confusion and anger. For that hour long ride, his eyes too had a gentleness in them, a kindness to them. It was an amazing transformation!

When the ride was over, Grant could not wipe the smile off his face. He was so excited! He just kept asking if we could do this again. Hunter had a different reaction. He walked around to each of the horses and pet them and stared into their eyes. The horses stared back. He seemed changed in that moment.

When we got in the car, Grant said what an amazing time he had and asked how soon we could do it again. Hunter said something even more amazing, “I loved that more than Minecraft!” Jeff and I looked at each other with our mouths wide open, as I said, “I’m so glad buddy!! We will have to do this again very soon!"

What an amazing day!!!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Thank you



This past year has been tough in so many ways. It has taught me many things. I've had to swallow my pride more than once. I've had to get through many things I never could have imagined. I've lost people in my life who I thought were friends. I've gained new friends and a renewed trust in the human spirit. Many people have disappointed me. Many have truly amazed me. To all of you who have loved me unconditionally through the good and the bad (and you know who you are), thank you!! For all of you who called or sent a text just to make sure today was a better day...thank you!!

After moving 14 hours away from home, family and friends and starting all over again, I started writing to deal with my feelings. I started writing this blog 7 months ago and it has been an amazing experience. It has made a difficult time in my life bearable. It has uplifted me and been therapeutic in so many ways. It has reunited me with many friends from the past. I am so happy to hear feedback and know that the things I am writing mean something to so many of you!   For all of you who have supported me in this new endeavor, thank you!

Knocking down the brick wall

Sometimes as parents we wonder if we are talking to "brick walls". No matter how much we talk to our kids, it seems like they just don't hear us. I deal with this with both of my boys, but with Hunter, the job is a real challenge. Aspergers makes the communication much more difficult, and he is also a pre-teen, so whatever I say normally goes in one ear and out the other. My husband always reminds me that it is our job as his parents to keep talking. No matter what, we have to keep pounding the messages, until eventually they hit home with him. Eventually, some of it will sink in and he will get it. Well, here goes hubby...deep breath...YOU ARE RIGHT!!!

Since Hunter was old enough to go to school, he has hated it. He has loved many of his teachers, but the actual schoolwork has always been tough for him. Due to his fine motor skill issues, handwriting is so hard for him, and his ADHD makes sitting and concentration difficult, so homework is a real nightmare most of the time. Eventually by the first month of school, we are fighting every night to get him to do his homework. He shuts down. He gets frustrated, and we get more and more worried about his future.

He is in middle school now, so I have really started the conversations with him about what he wants to do when he grows up. How does he want to earn a living? How will he buy the many things he says he wants? How will he support a family? What career can he see himself doing in the future? I try to explain to him that the study habits and work ethic he develops now will carry him into his future. I normally have these conversations with him in the car on the way to school. I figure it is the only time I have him trapped and there are no distractions. He normally stares out the car window like he is staring into the abyss. I usually drop him off and wonder if he actually heard a single word I said. Then, he comes home from school and the lack of interest in schoolwork continues, and the vicious cycle starts all over again.


Last week, during one of my "I have you in the car and you are trapped" conversations, I asked him what he would like to do when he is an adult, and he looked at me and said, "What do you think I would be good at?"  What? Huh? Excuse me, did you just ask my opinion? Just a reminder, I am the Mom who know nothing at all, and you just asked me what I thought. I had to hold back a smile. I felt this glimmer of hope run through my body as I answered, "Well, I think you would be a wonderful football historian or a sports reporter. I think you could also write books about the history of football." He looked at me in surprise and excitement and asked how he could do that, so I suggested he speak with his counselors at school to find out what classes he should take as electives. I also suggested that he start writing blogs during the football games on Sundays to help get him used to writing and reporting. He seemed excited! I was in shock.

Nothing else was said about our conversation until the next morning when I received an email from his resource teacher asking if I knew why Hunter wanted to go see the counselor. I about spit my coffee all over my computer. I was in shock. I called and explained it to her, and she was as thrilled as I was about this little spark we were seeing in him.

 I don't know what caused the sudden excitement in him. I don't know if it will last. What I do know is that he heard me. He actually listened to me and took my advice. He also understood that I believe in him and that I know he can do amazing things.  My wish for both of my boys is that they make a living doing something they love to do and end each day knowing they have done their best at whatever that happens to be. For right now, I am going to take my husband's advice and just keep talking.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

LET'S PLAY BALL!!!




It is amazing how much you can learn from the simple things in life. Sometimes I feel like God has to hit me over the head over and over again before I finally say, "I GET IT!" Last night was one of those moments.

My youngest son Grant (8 year-old, non-Aspie) had a baseball game. We were running very late because my oldest son Hunter (12 year-old, Aspie) was denying that he had any homework (even though I had emails from the teachers), arguing about doing it, and basically making 30 minutes of homework turn into almost 2 hours of hell.

We showed up at the ball fields and literally ran to the field where Grant's team was playing their game. He made it in time to grab his mitt and run onto the field, as the rest of his teammates took their positions.

I took a deep breath as I sat on the bleachers. Another frustrating night. Another evening of wondering what I could do to make him understand that homework was more important than Minecraft or Yu-gi-oh. Another time that Grant was late to an event because of his brothers inability to work with the family. Another night...

As the game began, my heart was still racing from the stress of the earlier events. The game began as any other. The other team was hitting the ball well and our boys were doing their best to field the hits. It didn't take long before the other team was winning 5-0. The bases were loaded and their next batter stepped up to the plate. He hit the ball with a WHACK. It was that sound that always means trouble for the opposing team. The ball headed straight for Grant's position at third base. He raised his hand and SMACK the ball landed in his mitt!! The look on his face was priceless!  He screamed, "Yes!!" and had the greatest looks of pride and excitement, and "Did I do that?" on his face. I jumped up and down like I had won the lottery, because that was exactly what it felt like.

His catch was the third out, so his team was up to bat. It was amazing how the energy shifted. One by one, the kids stepped up to the plate. One by one, kids that had not been hitting the ball at all, were getting singles and doubles. One by one, the parents high-fived, and jumped up and down, and smiled and laughed and cheered. The kids were cheering for each other and hugging and yelling encouraging words from the dugout. By the end of the game, his team won by 1 point. The kiddos were ecstatic. The parents were elated. The win was amazing, but the lesson learned was inspiring to everyone.

I learned a real lesson from those 8 year-olds on the field. We all have those days, those weeks, those months, and those years that wear us down. Sometimes it feels like defeat is our only option. As a parent of a kid with autism, the days, week, and months seem insurmountable sometimes, but then something happens...It can be something that seems small to everyone around you, but to you it is that WHACK in the mitt! Your son makes a new friend or shows compassion to you when he sees you hurting. It can be a good grade on a test or a thoughtful gesture. It can be so many things that make you realize that what you are doing means something!!

Yes, those days of defeat will come again and again. Unfortunately, that's all part of this game of parenting. Happily, those days of playing pitch and catch end up with the ball in their mitt. Those days of explaining over and over that we must show compassion for one another, ends up with a hug at the most unexpected time. For parents, it's those moments, that are our home runs. It is those moments where our pride shows through. It is those moments that make us wake up every morning and start all over again.

Yes, life sometimes has to hit you over the head to teach you a lesson. My lesson at the ball field was "LET"S PLAY BALL!!!" today and tomorrow and the day after that because we have to, because it matters, because we make a difference in our children's lives. We also have to be teammates to those around us because on those days of defeat, everyone needs a cheer from the dugout.


Monday, September 23, 2013

Not our first rodeo...the dreaded IEP meeting




We walked into the school like every other day of every other scheduled IEP meeting. This was not our first rodeo, so the nerves were not as heightened.  We have been dealing with these deflating meetings for 7 years now, so we were more than ready to take on whatever was thrown at us.

Thousands of thoughts run through my mind every year before these meetings take place. I have flashbacks of when Hunter was 5 and was diagnosed with Aspergers and ADHD. The feelings of disbelief and fear still seem very fresh.  However, experience has also brought a feeling of confidence. Now, I walk into these meetings ready to fight for my kid. I show respect to these wonderful people who have chosen this honorable profession. I truly listen to what they have to say and believe that they want the best for him. I also know that no one knows him better than me. I am his advocate. He is my heart. I am his mom, and I owe him the best I can give him.

I have learned through the years that every stage of his growth will bring new challenges and these meetings usually bring them to the forefront. They have historically been the constant, never ending conversations of everything that is wrong with our son. His handwriting is bad; his attitude is bad; he lies constantly; he talks in class; he doesn't respect authority...you name it, we've heard it.

When I walked into the meeting this time, something seemed different. The teachers were all smiling. The meeting began with his resource teacher talking about what a wonderful child Hunter is and how pleasant he is every day. What? Who?

Next, the English teacher told us how sweet he has been to her, and that his handwriting had been a concern, but now he was using the computer and it was working out great!

By now, I felt like I must have been dreaming. His history teacher began by saying that Hunter is so intelligent and is actually asking questions at a collegiate level. He gave us ideas of books Hunter should read, and told us to feed this knowledge. I felt pride in my heart.

His Science teacher began by saying what a pleasure Hunter is and said he is doing great. I smiled and must have had a look of relief on my face because then she said, "Maturity is a wonderful thing," and she smiled at me in a very knowing way.

His speech teacher said he is doing great. His psychologist said he is way ahead of his goals. All of the teachers said he speaks at appropriate times during class. He participates in class. Suddenly, the meeting was over. That was it!

As we walked out my husband looked at me and said, "What the hell just happened?" I smiled and said, " I was just thinking the same thing!"

Don't get me wrong, I know this is not the end of the battle. This weekend alone had enough challenges for 10 families, but there is progress. Seven years ago, we couldn't see any hope. There was just that stifling, unknown feeling. There was no knowledge or experience. Now, things are different! There is still fear. There is still frustration.  There is still so much unknown, but there are bright moments that give us hope that next year might be even better yet!

This wasn't our first rodeo, it won't be our last, but it was our best by far!





Friday, September 13, 2013

ROAR

We had our annual IEP meeting for Hunter yesterday. I have to admit that like every year, I was a little on edge. Katie Perry's new song "ROAR" has been my theme song all week. Every single time that song came on, I would crank it as loud as I could and sing at the top of my lungs!! (I'm sure I got more than a few looks driving my "Mom wagon".) Anyway, for all of you Moms and Dads out there gearing up for that annual meeting to fight for your kiddos...

Let's "roar louder than a lion" and let our voices be heard!!!





I used to bite my tongue and hold my breath
Scared to rock the boat and make a mess
So I sit quietly, agreed politely
I guess that I
forgot I had a choice
I let you push me past the
breaking point
I stood for nothing, so I fell for everything

You held me down, but I got up
Already brushing off the dust
You hear my voice, your hear that sound
Like thunder, gonna shake the ground
You held me down, but I got up
Get ready cause I’ve had enough
I see it all, I see it now

Chorus:
I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire
Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar
Louder, louder than a lion
Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
You’re gonna hear me roar

Now I’m floatin like a butterfly
Stinging like a bee I
earned my stripes
I went from zero, to my own hero

You held me down, but I got up
Already brushing off the dust
You hear my voice, your hear that sound
Like thunder, gonna shake the ground
You held me down, but I got up
Get ready ’cause I’ve had enough
I see it all, I see it now

Chorus:
I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire
Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar
Louder, louder than a lion
Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
You’re gonna hear me roar
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
You’re gonna hear me roar
Roar-or, roar-or, roar-or

I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire
Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar
Louder, louder than a lion
Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
You’re gonna hear me roar
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
You’re gonna hear me roar

Katy Perry - Roar (Official)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Waiting for the storm to pass



I dropped him off at school this morning and watched in my rear view mirror as he slowly walked to the building.  I watched my tall, lanky, pre-teen boy walk into the school building with a frown on his face. He looked defeated. He looked unhappy. He looked like the weight of the world was on his shoulders. What happened to my smiley, happy little boy.

Our evening had been spent trying to motivate him to get his homework done as he yelled at us at the top of his lungs about not having enough Minecraft time. His squeaky, ever changing voice would crack as he screamed at us about how mean we are to him. Then, the screaming would instantly change to talking about us under his breath. Then we began arguing about the fact that he had to take a good shower because that is part of growing up (this is a nightly issue).

Our morning was filled with this sluggish pre-teen who wouldn't get out of bed, wouldn't get dressed, had to be reminded to brush his teeth, put on his deodorant and get his bag ready for school. Then, he was completely silent in the car during the ride to school as he sat and read his comic book and ignored me

I was once told in an IEP meeting that raising a teenager with Aspergers is10 times harder than raising a teenager off of the spectrum. I don't know if this number is accurate, but I know that the daily stress our family is under right now makes that number seem very real.

Most days I try to laugh at it and try to keep things in perspective. He is a teenager. These are tough years. I get it! We will get through this. Some days are almost unbearable. I want my little boy back. Days with him have not been easy with him for a long time. Mornings have always been tough. Homework has always been a struggle. This, however, is a whole new ballgame.

I think the hardest part of the whole thing is watching my son seem so confused. The mixture of the hormones; and the changes his body is going through; and the stress that homework puts on him; and the middle school drama; and the OCD behaviors he is now experiencing;  they have all combined in his 5'8", 100lb body to cause a raging storm. It is a storm that is unmatched. There is no shelter from it.

As his mom, I just want him to be able to have a happy life. I want him to fulfill his dreams. I take the advice of those older and wiser than me when they say that this storm will pass. I pray that they are right. I hope that this storm passes and that one day I will look back at these days as a distant memory because that unhappy boy will be a strong, happy, confident man.

Friday, September 6, 2013

I'm going to miss this

Today was Grandparents Day at Grant's school, and it was his first year EVER not to have one of his grandparents there. This was definitely one of the many times we wish we weren't 14 hours away from family.

 He has been upset all week about not having anyone there, so I tried to buffer the situation by showing up at 11:30 with a Sonic bacon cheeseburger and a root beer. (This usually eases his pain from just about anything.)  When I arrived, I saw him walking down the hallway with his class. Some of his classmates already had their grandparents with them. He looked really sad. I called his name, he turned around, and there was an instant smile.We sat with one of his friends and his grandpa. He ate his burger, laughed with his friend, and genuinely had a good time. He was okay. My heart was a little lighter.

When it was time for me to leave, I took a quick "selfie" picture of the two of us on my phone, and walked him out of the cafeteria. He had recess, so I took him to the doors to go to the playground and whispered "I love you" to him and blew him a kiss. He did a half- puckering of his lips and ran out the door as fast as he could. My heart hurt and sang all at the same time.

My little guy is growing up. He still needs me, but just not as much. Actually, he needs me a little bit less every day. That's a good thing...right?  I know, I know, it's a great thing. It means I'm doing my job as his parent. He is becoming more and more independent and that is great!

I left the school feeling a little blue. I started my car up and this song was playing:

Trace Adkins "Your going to miss this."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=igm2iGvo-us

I cried all the way home. Yep, that's right, I had a sappy mom moment. My baby is growing up. He will be 8 next week. With every passing day I realize that with all of my heart I am definitely going to "miss this." I already know from having a 12 year-old that this time goes by so quickly, and soon they don't need you at all (or at least they think that).

Right now, I'm going to go pick him up from school, grab a book, and try to cuddle with him in the chair while I read to him. I'm going to wrap my arms around him and bury my head in his hair and savor this moment because it will be gone before I know it.


Trace Adkins - You're gonna miss this *** with lyrics!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Dazed and Confused

There are weeks like this that I want to throw my hands in the air and say, "I quit!!" I'm exhausted!

My second grader comes home from school, tells me his homework for the week, gets whatever he needs out of his bag and hops to it. He doesn't always like it, but he gets done with very little effort. He wants to do a good job. I try to help him as much as possible. With him,  it can actually be quality time spent together. Last night we designed swim trunks for a paper frog. I have to admit that was kind of fun.

My 7th grader, on the other hand, just doesn't understand at all!! As the schools and teachers are wanting him to gain more independence because he is in middle school, he is fighting tooth and nail. The Aspergers + hormones = major attitude. Due to middle school having multiple teachers, I don't have to keep up with one class, but six. I have to communicate with 6 different teachers. Every night is filled with questions about homework from me and lies and "I don't knows" from him. He will lie at all costs because homework is just not important to him. This starts my sleuthing. I scan each teachers website looking for what I need. I send out emails to ask questions. I go through his bag looking for clues.By the time I have it somewhat figured out, I'm mentally exhausted. This daily grind starts my "dazed and confused" feeling that lasts the entire school year.

 I really find myself on that line of how much to help him. Do I keep fighting this battle or let him fail? How long do I fight it? Isn't it my job to help him succeed in life? I'm his mom. It's my job...right? Am I holding him back by continuing to help?


I obviously don't have this figured out. I would love to hear all of your thoughts and similar concerns. Are you "dazed and confused" too?
#dazedandconfused
#autism

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Day 3: the saga and deep breathing continue...

If you have been reading my posts the last couple of days, you know that my afternoons with Hunter have been a mess. The first day of walking home from school was an hour long man hunt for my lost son who was taking his sweet time. That afternoon was scary! The second day of school pick up was filled with a lot of deep breathing and dealing with his not-so-stellar attitude.

Then there was day three:
Once again, Hunter decided he wanted me to pick him up from school so that Minecraft time was not lost. I showed up on time, sat in line, and wondered what the afternoon would bring. About five minutes after school let out, I received a call on my cell. I looked at my screen. It was him. I believe I even smiled. All I could think was, "He remembered our conversation from this morning. He listened and turned on his phone right after school. I got through to him. Hallelujah!!" I quickly picked up the phone and heard the endearing words I will never forget. (You might need a tissue.) "Where are you woman?!?!?!"

 I swallowed hard, took a deep breath and tried hard not to come through that phone. My reply (my seven year old was in the car after all) was a calm, "Excuse me." He went on to berate me about being at the wrong door. Hmmm there were a lot of other kids coming out of that door, and a lot of other parents picking them up??? I promptly told him I would be there shortly and hung up the phone and began some more deep breathing. Then, my phone made the familiar texting beep, and I looked down to see the beautiful written words from my son, "Where are you?????!!!"  At that point, I though about leaving his ass in the parking lot and speeding off like a raving lunatic. Instead, I continued deep breathing. I pulled around to where he stood.

He got in the car and I let him know that he was to NEVER speak to me that way again. He rolled his eyes and said OK as if I was the one being unreasonable. At the time, I was thinking, "I need a new game plan. What can I do? I know...I'll kill him with kindness!"

That's exactly what I did. He had an assignment that included cutting and pasting, so I helped him cut out 20 pictures. We sat at the kitchen table and he talked to me a little nicer than normal. It took everything I had to be nice back, but I did it. We completed the assignment. I asked him to help me pick up the paper scraps and he rolled his eyes and mumbled something under his breath. I'm sure I don't want to know what it was.

I did not receive a thank you for picking him up from school or helping him with his assignment. I never really expected one, but I did receive some good conversation with my son. Right now, in this moment of time, those little moments are all I have, so I'll take them! The rest of the time, I'll just keep deep breathing until these hormones run their course!! (Oh yeah, and the occasional glass of wine.)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Blurry lines continued...

Well, I picked him up because he asked me to do so yesterday morning. . He didn't want to have to miss so much game time today because walking home takes so long. Apparently computer time won over social time. Unfortunately, this is not unusual for him.

I arrived yesterday afternoon right on time and sat in the appropriate car line. I waited and waited and waited, but no Hunter. I tried to call him, but his phone was not on, once again. Finally, I figured he must have decided to walk home, so I drove around the school building to leave, and guess who I saw!! I saw Hunter standing in the 6th grade pick up line. He is in 7th grade!

He was jumping around and talking to one of his teachers from last year . The funny thing was that she looked as confused as me as to why he was there. Finally, he got in the car looking completely frustrated with me because it took me so long. Again, deep breathing began, as I asked him why his phone wasn't on and why he was in the 6th grade area instead of the 7th. He just mumbled how mean I was to him and told me there is no 7th grade area...what!!!! Again, deep breathing.

At drop off this morning, I reminded him to walk to the crosswalk to cross traffic, and he rolled his eyes and said, "You have told me over and over!!" HAHAHAHAHA I also reminded him to turn on his phone as soon as school lets out and to meet me in the 7th grade area. He got out of the car, shut the door, and then reopened it to ask, "So I should turn my phone on right after school?" What???!!!!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The blurry lines of Aspergers

There are days in my life of raising a child with Aspergers that the differences between him and other kids his age are very apparent. Then, there are the days where I have to make parenting decisions for him when they seem extremely blurred. When he is stemming or slurring his words or having impulse control issues, the lines are clear. When he wants to walk home with other kids from school or walk down to the park to play basketball or stay home by himself, things just aren't quite as obvious. How do you define the boundaries differently for him and other kids his age? What is he not quite ready for that his peers can handle?

 Here is a perfect example:

After much discussion, we decided to let Hunter walk home from school yesterday. It was his first day of school. He made a friend at school last year who lives in our neighborhood, so he had a walking buddy.  I had his phone charged and ready. He had a hat with him to block the sun on his way home. I had the discussion with him over and over about watching for traffic and turning his phone on right after school.

Yesterday afternoon, I picked Grant up from school and stopped by Sonic for Happy Hour (no alcohol involved :-( ) School had just let out, so I called Hunter's phone to see if he wanted anything, but there was no answer. I drove home and called again, but no answer. I waited another few minutes, but still no answer. Grant and I drove around the neighborhood, but not sight of him and still no answer. I decided to come home and give it a little time before a full-on panic.  One hour after school let out, I finally got a text saying he was on his way home, and a few minutes later, he walked in the door.

My deep breathing to keep me calm had already started. I asked him where he had been and he said just walking home and stopping to talk. I truly believe they were just taking their time walking home. He was socializing! I should be happy!! He has a friend!! I should be ecstatic!!  I don't want him to lose this really important social situation, but he has to be responsible enough to call me. His cellphone has to be on so I can reach him...and once again, the lines are blurred.

Take two of this walking home thing happens today.

To be continued...


 




Monday, August 26, 2013

First Day of School

Ahhhhh!!! The kids have been dropped off at school. My large cup of coffee is in hand. My house is a complete mess from the weekend, but I don't care. The kids are not upstairs screaming at each other. My DVR is waiting for me. That's right, summer is over!!!

Then again, summer is over and I'm not quite ready. Yep, I said it...in a weird way, I'm not quite ready. I had a long list of things I wanted to accomplish with the kids this summer, and I pretty much failed miserably. I had a shelf full of crafts we were going to do, and Grant was going to finally ride a bike and perfect his shoe tying. Nope, those things didn't happen. We had a great summer with a trip back home and lots of camps. The kids kept busy, gained friendships, and learned a lot, but my list still exists.

I did, however, get a back to school picture of my 12 year-old this morning with no fights or moans. He is not yet "too cool" for picture taking. He even smiled. Yes, one more year under my belt of those cute pictures.

My 7 year-old woke up this morning, hugged me and helped pack both of their lunches without being asked. That means he learned how to make a sandwich this summer. That wasn't on my list, but I'll take it. The hug also means he loves me, and that is just a priceless feeling.

For now, I will drink my coffee and watch my trashy TV and the shoe tying, crafts, and bike riding will wait. Friendships, smiles, and love, were all accomplished this summer, and that's pretty darn good! Sigh.......


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Mommy Bear Moments



Okay parents, we have all been there, that moment when another child hurts your child or is rude and you just want to put them in their place (or "bitch slap" them). Well, I had one of those experiences yesterday. As we were leaving the classroom for Hunter's computer class, he was laughing and joking to one of the other boys about something. To be honest, I have no idea what he was saying because he was laughing at himself and rambling on, so the poor kid probably didn't know what to say. However, instead of being nice to Hunter, he just stared at him like he was an alien. Literally, he had his mouth open and didn't say a word. He was just looking at Hunter. I politely said, "Come on Hunter let's go." and got him out of there.

This isn't the first time this has happened, and unfortunately it won't be the last. Hunter tries so hard to be funny and social. Sometimes he really nails it, but many times he just misses the mark. Other people don't always understand his humor or sarcasm. It is part of the Aspergers experience. Social situations can be awkward and hard. We are working on it, and he has really made great improvements. We still have a long way to go, but until we conquer it, I'm sure I will have a few more "mommy bear" moments.


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Jackpot!

One of our many challenges  has been to find Hunter's niche. It is important to us to find something that is interesting and important to him that can one day serve him well. Hopefully, he will be fortunate enough to find that ONE thing that he can turn into a career. That one thing he can use to support himself and maybe a family someday.

For Hunter, normal school is like a thorn in his side. He hates it! He hides school work, lies to me and his teachers, and does just about everything he can to avoid doing work in his classes. The classes he doesn't like are a real challenge. Therefore, I wonder what his future will hold. Will he go to college? Will he be able to keep a job? These are the worries (among others) that keep me up at night.

One of Hunter's obsessions (like many other boys with Aspergers) is electronics. Everything from computer games, IPods, gaming systems, cell phones....you name it, he loves it! He loves it so much that it is hard to regulatethem . It has been a constant struggle with him since he was old enough to talk.

We have tried to put him on sports teams. He has played baseball, football, soccer, basketball. You name it, he has played it. My husband loves sports, so team sports were introduced to Hunter by the age of 3. The poor boy just doesn't have the coordination. He also doesn't really have the interest. He loves to watch sports. He loves to collect baseball cards and football cards. He watches every ESPN special on sports history. He can tell you sports statistics about players from well before most of us were born. His knowledge is actually quite miraculous. What he doesn't have is much of a desire to play sports.

This summer, I struggled with what activities would be good for him. I looked around quite a bit because this is our first full summer in our new town. Finally, I found it! It was like striking gold! I found a "make your own computer game" camp!  It is only three hours for four days, so he doesn't have to be gone from the house long (time is always an issue for him). He gets to sit at a laptop (which is like heaven to him). Most importantly, he gets to learn. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, he is learning and doesn't even realize it!! My boy loves computers. He loves video games. He gets uncomfortable engaging with people, so it is perfect!!

I was so nervous when I picked him up on Monday. I'm not really sure why. I think I was just hoping that this would make him really happy. Maybe this would be his "niche". I walked into the building and to his classroom. The moment he saw me, he said, "Mom, come here! I want to show you what I made!" My heart sang!! My pre-teen boy not only wanted me next to him (shocker), but he had made something and he was proud! By the way, it was also impressive!!

Jackpot!!


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Come on Aspergers...bring it!



Raising a child with special needs has many challenges. There are day to day situations and long-term worries that keep many of us up at night. We moved over a year ago, and I have struggled to find my way. I have been blessed with many loving and sweet people since our move. Friends have opened their hearts to me. The problem is that no matter what, being a stay-at-home mom of an Aspergers child is a lonely place.

I have not written for a while because I needed to regroup. Two weeks ago, during our psychologist visit, I received some pretty tough news. It wasn't devastating, but it was one more challenge our family will have to face. I wanted to cry all the way home, but I didn't. I wanted to pick up the phone and call a friend, but I didn't because this was news you just can't share. Instead, I filled my day with useless TV chatter and listened to the kids play until my husband got home, and I could finally unload! While my friends are talking about wonderful things happening in their lives like new cars, new dogs, new houses, their kids scholarships and crowning achievements, I sit in loneliness and worry. "This too shall pass." I know this to be true and believe it. We have hit roadblocks before and we have knocked them down. I know that I have been truly blessed with an amazing family and I am so fortunate in so many ways! Sometimes dealing with this Aspergers thing is just too big of a pill to swallow.

Now for some good news!! I have now put on my big girl panties once again, and I'm ready to do this thing!! Come on Aspergers...bring it!!!!

Square Peg


Special Needs Parents



You can never underestimate the importance of showing kindness and compassion to the parents of a special needs child. If you truly look into the eyes of any one of us, you will see a pain that is unmatched. You will see a determination that is unmatched. You will see a worry that is unmatched. While we go on with our daily lives going to work, paying bills, grocery shopping, going to school functions and spending time with family and friends, in the back of our minds, our thoughts are always focused on that child. The "what ifs" and "what next" statements are always there. "Can I do more?" is always in our heads. We are no different than any other parents in the fact that we want the best for our children. We want to do all we can for them. The difference is that our children's differences not only make them special, but they make it harder to give them the very best. Society doesn't handle the square peg through the round hole concept very well, so we have to fight to be heard and fight to give these kids a chance at the best life they can live.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Day 3: a score for Team Hunter



The truth is that on Day 3, I hit the snooze bar twice this morning. I'm exhausted! Why, I'm not sure. It could have been my late night of catching up on Fashion Police, but Grant got into bed with me this morning to let me know he was ready to go. By the time I got downstairs, even Hunter was dressed. A quick change and a cup of coffee later, we were only a few minutes late

No Frapp at Starbucks for me this morning. Instead, I did a relaxing stroll through Target. I also made a trip to AT&T to fix my cell phone that would not text or dial (major emergency)! The time flew by quickly! I was ready to get the kiddos and head home.

I picked Grant up a little later than normal, and by late,  I mean 2 or 3 minutes. His first words to me were, "You were a minute late today, why?" He didn't say it in a demanding way, just inquisitively. Next, we walked over to pick Hunter up. The first words out of his mouth were, "You were late today." Bible School had just ended, the parking lot was full of cars, but you would have thought that I was an hour late to pick them up. Is it a good or bad thing that they rely on me that much?

Grant had a great day! He has really enjoyed the entire week. He really enjoys the social interactions and the theme is all about Medieval Knights, so he thinks it is really fun!

Hunter's middle school group was doing what he called "manual labor" today. They were helping some elderly people around town, planting flowers, and helping out at daycares. I thought it was a great idea, but was a little nervous as to how Hunter would react to the activities! He isn't much for work of any kind, so I thought this could go dreadfully wrong. He loved it!! He got to go to a daycare and work with kids several years younger than him. He talked about it the entire way home!

While telling me about his day, he mentioned a little boy with special needs that he worked with today. He was a third grader, and had problems putting a book on the bookshelf in the library. Hunter was telling me how he helped the little boy. He said he wanted to laugh, because the little boy should have been able to do it, but he didn't even smile because he didn't want to hurt the little boy's feelings.  He also told me how he,  and the other middle schoolers in his group, had played during recess with some of the daycare kids and let them win so they wouldn't feel bad.

As parents, it is always nice to know that your child made good choices when you weren't around. For parents of many Aspergers children, half the battle is just getting these kiddos to think about others before themselves. Teaching empathy is a huge part of our struggle. It's those little daily victories that let you know that you have done something right. Today, team Hunter had a little win. Empathy 1, Selfishness 0

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Day 2 of Bible School

The kiddos were a little nervous for their first day of Bible School. It was a new church and new kids, so they were really anxious. Interestingly enough, my 7 year-old, non-aspie was the most nervous. Hunter, my 12 year-old aspie seemed pretty calm. I was really nervous that they were not going to like it. I have really been looking forward to this time to myself and hoping this would be a great time for them to make new friends. They had a blast...(I'm doing a happy mom dance)!

Day 2 of Bible School began with one extremely cranky 7 year-old. (I guess bed time will be a little earlier tonight). I figured out a quicker way to get there this morning, so I cut my time until "Mommy Freedom" in half. I actually had the Garth Brook's song, "We Shall Be Free" playing in my head.

When I dropped them off, I gave the youngest knuckles, because he is way too cool for public affection. I gave the oldest a slight wave because he doesn't want people to even know I exist, and I was "outta there".

I headed to the nearest Starbucks once again and drank my second Frappuccino of the week and did some more blogging. Then, I went to the mall to literally "buy mama a new pair of shoes". It was wonderful!


Hallelujah!



(written on Monday)

Hallelujah! I have dropped the kids off at their first day of Bible School. The long holiday weekend has come to an end and for the first time in what seems like ages, I have some "me time". The hubby is at work, the kids are occupied, and I am sitting at Starbucks sipping a Frappuccino.

I have a couple of hours to sit and think and write. It has taken years for me to figure out that this is exactly where I am the most happy. In this space of writing and sipping any assortment of coffee (or wine), I am myself.

Maybe it is the utter chaos of two kids, 2 dogs, and my hubby that joyously invades my brain space most days, but sitting by myself in my thoughts, seems to center me and bring me peace. It is just what I need to take on the rest of the day!

Fourth of July Weekend




Last Thursday was obviously a foreshadowing of things to come for the long holiday weekend. It started by Grant saying, "Hey Mom, I want to show you something." He said it calmly, as if it was a cool bug or flower or weed. Instead, he pointed towards the second level of the house to reveal a very broken window. He swore up and down that he and Hunter just noticed it (the day before) and that neither one of them knew anything about it. I have to say that neither one of them looked too guilty or had those peculiar (yes, I am telling a lie) looks on their faces, so maybe they were telling the truth...maybe!

Apparently, broken windows are the same as broken mirrors for the whole bad luck thing because there was lots of bad luck to follow. I started with a swollen bloodshot eye that was itching like crazy. And here we go...

On the afternoon of the Fourth of July, we went to see "Despicable Me". It was a great movie! We all really enjoyed it. We decided to go straight from the movie to dinner and then fireworks. Well, we didn't quite make it to dinner because we took a wrong turn and suddenly found a police vehicle, with flashing lights, in our rear view mirror. Oh yes, nothing like flashing lights and a speeding ticket for going 44 in a 30 to get my hubby in the holiday spirit. Thirty minutes later (and one really rude police officer later) we decided we were going to have to skip dinner if we were going to make it to the fireworks show.

We made it to the show. The fireworks were great! By the time they were over, we were all starving. The movie popcorn had worn off. We were all ready for a nice dinner (at 10:30 p.m.). Well, make that 11:00 because the traffic wasn't moving. Oh no, make that 11:30 because the traffic which was all going out the one (and only) exit to the park was finally starting to trickle out. Then, Hunter had to go to the bathroom. So began the constant explanation of how badly he needed to go. There were no bathrooms nearby, so he just had to hold it, but that did not stop the constant, "I have to go. I really have to go!" Both boys were in the backseat of the car, and they were bored, so the bickering began combined with the bathroom remarks. Just about the time I thought my head was going to explode right off my shoulders, we were out of the parking lot and heading to the nearest Applebees. We finally got home after midnight.

After our exciting Fourth of July, I was ready for a relaxing weekend. Haha, fast forward to Saturday evening when I had an even more fun allergic reaction to something I was eating for dinner. No kidding, I looked like Will Smith in the movie "Hitch". After a couple of Benadryl, mixed with a beer (don't try this at home kids), I found myself playing Apples to Apples with my husband and kiddos. All of the words on the cards were suddenly double and my hubby had a sort of halo over the top of his head (he's no angel), so I decided to call it a day.

Thankfully, Sunday was much more uneventful. We hung out, Barbeq
ued ribs and corn, played games in the backyard, danced to music, and had a nice family day. Well, it was also mixed with the arguing of children, a splinter, and a few scratches and bug bites, but overall, a great ending to a not-so-great holiday weekend

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

4 ways to a more tranquil summer...maybe


As I mentioned in my previous post, I am not a fan of my kids being home in the summer. I love them dearly, but I become seriously stressed out. Some days become more than I can handle. Others go pretty well. I don't know what makes the difference between the two. Truthfully, some of it could be my attitude when I roll myself out of bed. I try to keep myself positive and wake up every day with hope for a peaceful and productive day. How do I do this? Well I fail many days, but the following are some things I am doing this summer to keep myself positive, peaceful, and productive:

1. I found a babysitter who will do some basic cleaning of my house really cheaply!!! I have her come once a month. She does some cleaning, and I go out for lunch with a friend, or grocery shop, or get a pedicure, or sit in my car somewhere until it is time to go back home. No matter what I do, I come home to a cleaner house which makes my attitude immediately better. Plus, I get a break.

2. We have a small patio outside. Every year, my hubby and I have added things to make our backyard a little bit of a retreat. One year, we added nice comfy furniture. One year we added a fire pit and a fountain. This year, we added a rug, lanterns and lights, and a cheap outdoor speaker . Keep in mind that all of these have been inexpensive items from home improvement stores and home stores and we have done it a little at a time. Last night, we grabbed a beer and sat outside with the candles from our lanterns going; the lights on; the fountain peacefully flowing, and the music playing. We talked about our days for 5 minutes. Then, the boys came out and started playing tackle football and yelling at each other and a ball whizzed by my head. However, for a moment, I felt the tranquility.

3. Because of #2, my hubby and I have been trying desperately to fit in a nightly walk around the neighborhood. We can actually talk and exercise all at the same time. He works crazy hours and I have no adult conversation during the day. Neither of us have time to exercise, so it is a match made in heaven. It also allows us to connect for a few minutes.

4. I write... I sit at the computer and listen to the keys tap away as I pour out my heart to all who will read my craziness. The amazing part about it is that so many of you truly understand this crazy life I am living. Some of you have kiddos on the spectrum. Some of you are stay at home moms who feel unfulfilled at times or maybe just exhausted. Some of you are working moms who spend every day worrying about your kids and trying desperately make it all work. Many of you are my friends and family who I am so blessed to have in my life. Thank you for the "shares" and "likes" and words of encouragement!!

It's Five O'clock Somewhere


Okay, I'm going to come right out and say it..."I'm not a fan of these damn tween years." Wow, that feels better. I love my son. He is twelve, and I know that this will pass, but I was not ready for this quite yet! He has the braces, and the acne and he is long and awkward. We all go through this, but I wasn't quite ready for it. I especially wasn't ready for the attitude.

I wasn't ready for him to point out to me on a daily basis how stupid, old, ugly, fat, and unequipped I am at everything! It took thirty-seven years for someone to so eloquently tell me...not.  I guess it is a cocktail of his lack of a filter and being a pre-teen, but yikes do I need a drink just thinking about how many years of this I have to go. Somehow, he thinks his dad is the end all, be all of smart, cool, and awesome at everything! I agree, his dad is smart, cool, awesome (and for the record, handsome) but apparently, non of it has rubbed off on me in the last 15 years.

 I figure in about eight years, my son will need me for something again and think I am worthy, but for now, "It's five o'clock somewhere."

Monday, July 1, 2013

Summer Routine



My mood makes a drastic change the minute school lets out every single year. I become very sad and overwhelmed. While many parents look forward to fun times spent with their children and making memories, I dread the day to day mood swings and lack of routine for Hunter.

 Every summer I make a deal with myself that I am going to do crafts with the kids and have them do homework activities to keep their brains working. I make it my goal to keep them away from electronics as much as possible. I tell them an hour of video games a day, and I mean it (at the time)! However, by the end of the first week, I am usually exhausted beyond words. I need a break.  I need a drink! I need a closet to lock myself into for the rest of the summer!

We are now entering our third week of the summer and I am happy to announce that I have not locked myself in a closet quite yet. We did take a quick trip home which was a nice break and a bit of a vacation. The minute we returned, my challenge began.

I sat up a chores chart for both boys and for each day they complete their chores well and in a timely manor, I told them I will pay them a dollar.  They have to complete their chores and some sort of homework type activity (reading, math problems, word search, etc) before they can do any video games.

We have only tried it for a little over a week, but it seems to be working. They are all for getting paid and I am all for some help around the house. I have to stay on them and show them what to do, so some of it becomes more work for me, but it is better than nothing. They also know what has to be done in order to get to their ultimate goals (money and video games).  They each earned a few dollars last week (I'm not easy). They are still getting more video game time than I like, but it is still less time than they normally do and it is well earned!

I have signed them up for a week of bible school. Hunter will be doing a computer camp for a week and Grant will be doing a church day camp and a tennis camp. Those little reprieves will be nice. 

I will keep trying my best. I can't say it won't be without some glasses of wine or that every day will be great, but so far so good.

How do you keep your kids on track over the summer?

#summerroutine

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

There is always hope



I had to make the urgent trip home because my Grandmother had fallen ill. We had to put her in the nursing home. I have always been close with her, so this process has been really tough. We put her condominium up for sale, we went through some of her belongings, we got her set up in her room and fixed it up the best we could to make her comfortable.

All of this was hard, but the hardest part was looking into her eyes and seeing nothing. There is no light anymore. There is no hope. It is heart wrenching. When did the light leave this vibrant woman? When did she decide she had given up? She has COPD and dementia, so her body is tired and her mind struggles, but there is still hope. There is always hope.

Sometimes I look into Hunter's eyes with his blank stare and I think the same thing. He is tired from always struggling to be like everyone else. He is tired of feeling different. He is tired of everything being so hard,  but there is hope!!





I hope you dance!



After the tough therapy session, I checked my phone, and I had several missed calls from my parents. I soon found out that my Grandmother had fallen ill and was in the hospital. I immediately started making airline reservations. Neither of my boys had ever flown. Hunter was not up for it. He has always said he was too scared to fly.( He also said he was not going to go on a cruise because he was not going to sink like the Titanic, but I got him on a ship for a week.) I was just too exhausted to fight it this time, so Grant and I flew home.

Grant has always wanted to fly. He has asked over and over, so he was excited beyond words. He helped me pack and got a bag together to keep himself occupied. I had not flown since Hunter was in my belly 12 years ago, so I was a little nervous. My adrenaline had kicked in because I knew I needed to get home.

Jeff and Hunter took Grant and I to the airport that evening. As we were pulling into the parking garage, Hunter leaned over to Grant and said, "This is going to be the worst day of your life." Poor Grant looked like he had seen a ghost. As we were walking into the airport, Grant leaned over to me and quietly said, "I'm a little nervous, but I'm excited." I leaned over to him and said, "Guess what, I'm a little nervous too. That's the awesome thing about life. The most amazing things come from facing our fears!" He just smiled at me.

As we got onto the airplane, Grant was definitely more excited than nervous. I let him have the window seat, and he could not wait to take off. We took pictures of him in his seat to text to Dad. He was smiling from ear to ear. When the plane took off, he looked out the window in amazement. At one point he said, "I'm afraid of heights, but I'm looking down and I'm not scared at all!" As we hit turbulence a few times, my heart skipped a beat, but I wasn't about to let him know I was ready to be off of that airplane.

When the plane landed, he could not wait to get off the plane to see my parents, but before we walked through the gates, he leaned over to me and said, "Mom, we faced our fears, and it was awesome!"

When I was pregnant with Hunter, I used to sing the Leann Womack song "I hope you dance" to my belly. The words to that song are so true, and are exactly what I hope for for my kiddos. I want them to face their fears and live life to the fullest and, of course, dance!


 "I Hope You Dance"

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder,
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger,
May you never take one single breath for granted,
GOD forbid love ever leave you empty handed,
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

I hope you dance....I hope you dance.

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance,
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Livin' might mean takin' chances but they're worth takin',
Lovin' might be a mistake but it's worth makin',
Don't let some hell bent heart leave you bitter,
When you come close to sellin' out reconsider,
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

I hope you dance....I hope you dance.
I hope you dance....I hope you dance.
(Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along,
Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder where those years have gone.)

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

Dance....I hope you dance.
I hope you dance....I hope you dance.
I hope you dance....I hope you dance..
(Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along
Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder where those years have gone)

Sometimes people are not who we would like for them to be

The week I left to go home was a tough one. School had just let out and the change was really affecting Hunter. When the change kicks in, so does his harassment of Grant. This in turn leads to meltdown central in our home. Hunter's new way of dealing with his stress is to call Grant names. His favorites are "idiot, " "stupid, " and his new found, pre-teen cuss word, "ass".

We made a prompt trip to the therapist's office where I continually ask her to set up a wine bar, but it still has not happened. Her words were helpful, truthful, and painful beyond words. Hunter, Grant, and I went to this appointment. We normally start out by letting her know what we would like to talk about during the session. I immediately told her the words Hunter had been using towards Grant, and how hurtful they were to him. Hunter reiterated with , "Well, he is stupid!"

After asking Grant how this behavior makes him feel and trying to get an answer out of Hunter, she laid it all out on the table! She looked at Grant and told him that sometimes people are not who we would like them to be. Hunter probably won't be the big brother you would like for him to be, so you have to stop hoping for that to happen. Sometimes moms and dads are not the parents we need, and sometimes brothers and sisters are not the siblings we need. Hunter is just not capable right now of being the big brother you should be able to look up to, so you have to stop doing that and know that this has nothing to do with you! You can't let him determine your self-worth.

Hunter then proceeded to tell her she was rude, and she let him know she was just being honest. I was floored! She was not rude at all, but she was truthful. The truth is that as a parent of a kid with Aspergers, I am constantly protecting him from kids at school and worrying about his future. I am always trying to keep him on the right track, but fail often at this task. As much as I love him with all of my heart, there is still this ego-centric side that can be hard to like. It is the part of the syndrome I like the least. It is the part that makes me angry and scared for what his future holds. It makes me scared for what his relationships will be like in the future. It makes me sad for the relationship that may end up lost with his brother.

I have been told that many of the symptoms of Aspergers level out by the end of high school and beginning of college. My hope is that with a lot of hard work, I can teach Hunter how to love others and himself and lead him down a path for a happy and successful life. I also hope to teach Grant how to love his brother, but to never lose sight of his self-worth and confidence. I hope I am up for the task!

Fasten your seatbelts

Finally, I am writing again. The past few weeks have been hectic. I made an unexpected trip home where there was no internet access and things were crazy busy. As I already knew, writing is my solace. I need it to survive this crazy life I am living. This is my warning to all of you...I am locked and loaded and ready to unload everything that's been on my mind for the past few weeks. Fasten your seat belts ladies and gentlemen, it could be a bumpy ride :-)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Finding the light



Yesterday, I had Grant's (my non-aspie 7 year-old) annual speech IEP meeting. At our last meeting the teachers had asked me if they could test him for dyslexia. My heart sank just a little. I have to admit that the first thought I had was, "Oh no, not something else!" I immediately agreed to the testing and then started asking questions.

I found out that the reason they wanted to test him was because all of his other grades were so high and his reading was average. Most people with dyslexia have a higher than normal IQ, so when kids are excelling in everything else but reading, it's a huge red flag.

I walked into the meeting  yesterday knowing that they probably had the results of the test. I was eerily calm. Part of my brain was saying, "You should be nervous." The other part of my brain was saying, "You''ve got this!" As expected, his tests showed that he has dyslexia. The good news is that we caught it early, and with intervention, he will be fine. He is so smart and sweet and wise beyond his years. He's got this!!

After the meeting, I got into my car and just took a deep breath. I sat there and thought how different this meeting was from the meeting when we got Hunter's diagnosis. Dyslexia vs. Aspergers/ADHD.  The difference is that there is a light at the end of this Dyslexia tunnel. With Aspergers/Autism, there is just a hope to find that light. There is a constant search for that light for our kids!

When we received Hunter's diagnosis, we were younger and this was our first child. We had not been put through the ringer yet. We didn't know what was in store. We only knew that our baby was not fitting into this imaginary box that society had made for him, and no one seemed to have any answers!! That's the thing with spectrum disorders, the answers are scarce. You hear "what ifs" and "he probably won't ever be able to do this" and "I don't knows", but no one seems to have difinitive answers about anything. The enitre process is just waiting and hoping and working and fighting for your kid!!

So why did Grant's meeting feel so different (and almost comforting) yesterday? It felt different because when I walked out of that room, I had answers!! I know he is going to be okay. In 2 to 4 years, he will have mostly overcome this obstacle. I know that he will have 45 minute sessions every day of school, and he will learn how to manage this in his life. Will it be easy? No, but the difference is that there are answers and there is hope and there is an end to it all! He will be fine.

We have to find these same answers for kids on the spectrum. We need hope and knowledge for these kiddos and their parents!! We need more "everything will be fine" and "he will overcome this". We have to keep searching for that light at the end of the Autism tunnel It's there!! We just have to find it!

#Autism


Monday, June 3, 2013

Update on the internal debate

Just a little bit of information for my wonderful Sassy Aspie followers...when Hunter got in the car today, the first words out of his mouth were, "Thanks for bringing my lunchbox today." I about fell over. Then, he continued the rest of the car ride fighting with his brother.

Good decision? Bad decision? I still don't know, but he said "Thank You"!!!

The internal debate




This morning I had an internal motherly debate that went on inside my head for 3 hours. Sounds serious, right? Well, my irrational debate was on whether or not I should take Hunter (my 12 year-old Aspie) his lunchbox. Now, I just sound crazy, so let me explain.

We are in our final week of school. Actually, this is his last full day of school, so his brain has completely "left the building"! Now, I know this is going on, so after I packed his lunch this morning, I put it right next to his bag. Then, I repeated over and over in just a few minutes time, "Don't forget your lunchbox!!!"

Fast forward 15 minutes... as I'm dropping him off at school, he suddenly yells out in a panicked tone, "Oh no, I forgot my lunchbox." My tough mom reply was, " Well, you are just going to have to eat there."
This began a complete moment of drama. He explained to me that he was out of lunch money and it was too late in the school year to turn money in and blah, blah, blah! I know that the school furnishes sandwiches in these cases, so I told him I had a meeting at school for Grant (my non-aspie 7 year-old), and he was going to have to eat the school  lunch.  Then, he screamed, "You will bring my lunch to me, got out of the car, and slammed the door!"

I drove home thinking there was no way I was taking this ungrateful child his lunch. It would only be teaching him a bad lesson about how to treat me. However, the mom guilt grew and grew, and 3 1/2 hours later I found myself at the entrance of the school carrying that damn lunchbox.

Was I being a good mom or a bad mom? Should I have stuck to my guns and used this as a teachable moment about respect and responsibility? After further contemplation, probably.  However, for my own satisfaction, I took it to him 2 minutes before lunch period started just to make him sweat a little. Did he catch this subtle hint that I wasn't going to take this attitude? Heck no he didn't catch the hint! I'm not kidding myself. His aspie mind told him it was my job to bring him his lunchbox. Next time will I stick to my guns? Depends on the day. What I know for sure is that no matter what decision I make, I will doubt my decision. I'm a mom after all.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

No, a real octopus doesn't wear a cowboy hat



So the end of school is almost here. Hunter has had middle school finals this week. Grant had to make his 1st grade project...an octopus. You know, the wonderful projects that turn into projects for the parents. I knew it was due on the Wednesday after Memorial day, but somehow it snuck up on me! I really had good intentions to set aside part of the weekend to do it, but we were busy, so Tuesday night was game time!!

This parent project turned into Grant and mom taking 2 trips to Hobby Lobby, making a call to Grandpa about paint for Styrofoam, a couple of panic attacks, and a few good laughs. By the time it was done, we had a silly looking Octopus, a heck of a mess, and paint all over ourselves.

What did we learn from this last minute project? We will probably never win any art awards, but we can have fun together, and we make a pretty good team. We should probably not wait until the last minute to do a project, but sometimes your best work is under pressure. No, a real octopus doesn't wear a cowboy hat, but it makes it look a little cuter.

Time will tell


This morning, as I dropped Hunter off at school, I had this wave of panic run through me. He only has one more week of school, and then, he is a 7th grader. I can remember dropping him off the first day of 6th grade. He was so nervous!  He was in a brand new school in a brand new state with all new kids. As with most Aspergers kiddos, change is not his friend, so I held my breath as he got out of the car and prayed for the best.

Here we are 9 months later, and suddenly, my meek little 6th grader has hair on his lip and is growing muscles. He has grown at least 4 inches. His attitude has grown too. My fears for my son with Aspergers syndrome have moved from will he be able to ride a bike or tie his shoes or write his name to how is he going to survive in life.

This has been finals week at school and it has not been easy. He just does not get the concept of how to study. As a matter of fact, he doesn't seem to understand that he needs to study at all. Jeff and I have both tried to explain how much these final grades will affect his grades for the year, but it seems to go right over his head. All of this scares me because I don't know how he is every going to take care of himself. Will he be able to go to college? Will he even be able to make it into or through a trade school? How will he hold down a job?

All I could think about in that car line this morning was the fact that 9 months ago I thought that we had 3 whole years of middle school to get through. Now, one is already done! One year has already passed! That means that the next two years of school will fly by too, and then we are maneuvering through high school, and then what?? I just keep thinking back to all the things we have been through and telling myself we made it through then, and we will make it through now, and we will make it through in the future.

 When I had this little boy, I promised to give him the best life possible. I have tried my best. Now, I worry what will happen when I pass the torch to him. What will happen when his life is in his own hands. Will he fly or fail? Will I have given him everything I could possibly give him to succeed at a happy life? I guess time will tell.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The (almost) perfect weekend



Our family had an almost magical Memorial Weekend. The boys were off of school Friday and Monday, so we kicked it off with an extra day. My husband had the entire 3-day weekend to focus on the family (not work) which has been almost unheard of since our move.

Saturday was a little stressful with lots of fighting from the boys. Of course, they had been home with each other for a couple of days by now. My husband called the babysitter for Saturday night. He even cleaned the house. I had to slap myself a few times because I was sure I was dreaming! We went to see a "Chic Flick" at one of those dinner and a movie places. Then we took a stroll through a quaint downtown area. We talked and enjoyed the evening of peace and quiet.

I wanted Sunday and Monday to be all about family. On Sunday, we headed to a local state park with a really nice lake. The kids had a blast! They played football on the beach with my husband. Grant and I built a sandcastle. We picked up seashells. The kids skipped rocks on the water. They had a blast!

On Monday, we decided to take a local train ride. It was supposed to be about an hour and a half ride. Hunter had been on a train ride before many years ago, but this was Grant's first time! He was so excited he could hardly stand it! It was a beautiful train. It was a perfect day for it! Besides an hour delay because of a broken down train in front of us, it could not have been a more perfect day!

Grant fell asleep on the way home. It had been a long day for a 7 year-old. When we arrived home, I told both boys they needed to hop in the shower. We were all a mixture of sunscreen, sweat, and dirt from the open train. By the time they were cleaned up, it was after 8:30, so I told Grant he needed to get ready for bed. I could tell he was sad that the weekend had come to an end. Time spent with their dad these days is scarce, so there were many things he still wanted to do. Grant hugged Jeff and told him "thank you" for his first trip to the beach and his first train ride!

Hunter was finishing up some homework, and I told him he needed to get ready for bed. Then came the moment I had been waiting for all weekend. The moment that sums up my life as an aspie mom. The endearing, loving words that were to follow will forever live in my mind, "YOU HAVE WASTED MY ENTIRE WEEKEND. I NEVER GET TO DO WHAT I WANT TO DO. YOU ARE RUINING MY LIFE!!!"

Yes, welcome to the closing moments of a beautiful family weekend with a pre-teen son with Aspergers.He went to bed quickly after that, but not without a few choice words and probably a look that could kill.  I popped the cork, poured a glass of wine, turned the television to my total guilty pleasure "Real Housewives of Orange County" (don't judge), and then went to bed. I guess you could say I made my own perfect ending to an "almost" perfect weekend!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Respect



I have tried to teach my children right from wrong. I have tried to teach them the value of a dollar and the importance of hard work. I have tried to teach them love and acceptance of everyone. I have tried to teach them respect for their elders. Somewhere in the mix, I missed teaching them respect for their mother! How did I miss this important detail?

My 12 year-old son with Aspergers can't seem to land his plane on the runway of reality!!

Me: Can you please clean your room?
Him: You are mean to me.

Me: I am not going to do your school project for you. You are going to have to learn responsibility.    How are you ever going to hold down a job?
Him: You hate me.

Me: You are not listening at all. You are not showing me respect! Tomorrow you will pack your own lunch!!
Him: You are abusive to me! (LOL)

Me: I will not put up with this behavior and disrespect from you!
Him: I hate you!!!

His newest catch phrase this morning,  "You just don't want me to have fun!" Are you kidding me? I have spent my entire morning trying to teach you how to show respect for me and the rest of your family! I haven't even had a cup of coffee. I am having a blast right now!!

I know parenting is not supposed to be easy! I realize hormones have invaded his body. I realize that raising a child with Aspergers is not a walk in the park, and combined with puberty, it is a difficult combination. I just feel like I am losing it right now. I love my children so much, but this mama needs some respect!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Fighting the daily battles

It is hard to explain to someone what it is like to raise a child on the spectrum. The daily battles; the dozen arguments before my first cup of coffee; the constant lying; hoarding of food; obsessions...oh my, the obsessions!  There are struggles with homework every single day and constant emails back and forth between teachers. He is constantly calling me and my younger son names (my husband usually dodges the bullets) and exhibiting selfish, egocentric behavior.

I love him so much. I want the best for them. I know these behaviors are not all his fault, but it does not make the pain that comes out of his mouth any easier. The words still sting. The judgement from others still hurts. There is a resentment because no matter how much I do for him, it is never enough. He still wants more. No matter how tired I am, he still needs more! No matter how hard I work, I just can't keep up with the demands.

All of these things are offset by the bullying he gets at school; his struggles with handwriting; his realization that he is different from the other kids. The hormones have kicked in and he is a total mess. His daily struggles break my heart.

 I can't do anything to shelter him from all of this. I can only sit back and try to be understanding and loving. I can try to prompt discussions and try to support him by letting him know I am here. I have to set boundaries for him, even though he hates me for them now! Eventually these preteen woes will turn into real life concerns. I have to do my best to prepare him for those things.

I am his Mom. I can't give up! It is my job and this is one job I can't quit, so I will fight the battles day by day, one struggle at a time. I just hope that in the end, we are both victorious!




Thursday, May 16, 2013

Snapshot in time

Yesterday, I did not have a great "Mom day". Grant wanted me to come to lunch with him, and I promised him I would be there,  but I missed it. I called the school at 10:30 to see what time his lunch was, and it was at 10:40. Whoops! When I picked him up, I apologized to him and promised I would be there today. He was so sweet, and then asked if I could bring him a sonic bacon cheeseburger for lunch. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, he was working the guilt thing pretty well.

Of course, I made it this morning, but not without a trip to Sonic for a bacon cheeseburger and a root beer too! I was running a few minutes late because the cooks at Sonic were not in a big hurry to make that cheeseburger at 10:15 a.m., but when I walked into the lunch room, his smile was enough to light up the room.

We sat together for the full 30 minutes as he savored every last bite of that cheeseburger. He talked about his next birthday party; the teachers he liked;the kids in his class; his excitement for all the fun things coming up at the end of school. I just listened and smiled and nodded. The entire time I could only think how lucky I am to be this little boy's mom. Some days,  I make a lot of mistakes, but he always makes me feel like he is proud that I am his mom.

I have learned so much from this little boy who takes on each day with such gusto! He wakes up every day with a smile on his face. He gives his all no matter what he is doing. He is hard headed and temperamental (he gets it from his dad, he he), but I think it is because he cares so much about doing his best. His teacher says he is the first to help someone in class or console someone in pain. For that, I am the most proud. He watches out for his older brother all the time. Even when Hunter is mean to him, he is still kind. Yes, he gets frustrated, and sometimes there is a little retaliation,  but only for a few minutes. His loyalty is unwavering.

I have many days like yesterday when I feel like I am failing miserably at this whole "Mom" thing, but then I look into his eyes and I know I am wrong. No, I won't win any parenting awards, but I do have the love and admiration of this little boy who's smile lights up my world. In two weeks, he will be a second grader. The time is passing so quickly. I want it to slow down. I want more of these precious moments. I want more of those toothless smiles and ketchup faces and hugs and kisses and "I love you's". In a few years they will be no more. It won't be long before I won't be cool and he sure won't want me to sit at his lunch table. For now, I am going to live every single day as a snapshot in time that I hope to bank in my memory forever.


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Reflection

I had a beautiful Mother's Day! I woke to my Grantster with a glass of orange juice (I later graduated to strong coffee) and a sweet card that said "Happy Madrs Day. Yor the best Mom." I have to admit I teared up. Just the joy in his face for doing such a kind gesture made me proud to be his Mom.

The boys got me an adorable yoga frog for my back patio, and it was so sweet to watch them get excited about giving me the gift. My 12 year-old has lost some of the excitement due to the "coolness" of his age, but I swear I saw a little glimmer in his eye (maybe it was the lack of coffee)!

We left early to go to a lunch. When we got there, there was a line a mile long. We had fought the good fight to get us all ready and out of the house and had driven 40 minutes (with two fighting kids in the back seat) to get there, so there was no way I was leaving! Plus, I was hungry!! We waited in the hot sun for 2 hours, but we were finally seated (with sunburns). We had a somewhat peaceful lunch. We took some really good pictures and then decided to head to a downtown park.

Of course, once we had walked several blocks to get to the park, my youngest suddenly had to go to the restroom. My sweet husband told me to relax, and he took the boys to the nearest place he could find. I sat at one of the many beautiful water features in the park with the sun beating down on me and the sound of water behind me. I would find my mind wondering and I would pull myself back into this moment of "AHHHHH". I just listened and watched and took a moment to really just "be". With everything so hectic and the constant battles, I never have time to truly just take a moment to breathe and enjoy this amazing life.

Soon, the kiddos were back and we continued with the wonderful, but not as peaceful, rest of the day. I actually took a 30 minute nap with my husband while the kids watched a movie. The boys played laser tag in the backyard with my hubby while I finished laundry. We grabbed some ice cream, and finally, my Mother's Day has come to an end.

I feel that every day of your life, you should try to find the most positive moments and write it down, so when times in your life get tough, you can go back and read those special moments and know that life will get better again. Today, I will write the following:

Grant made a card for me and brought me orange juice with a wonderful smile on his face.

I had a moment of reflection at the park. 

I am blessed today with a husband who loves me and two healthy kids.

I hope you all had a wonderful Mother's Day too!!!