Saturday, September 27, 2014

The worth of silence is apparently more than $5.00

In a previous blog I detailed how a vast array of doctors and medical professionals had told us my 2 year old son would never speak. If all of those same professionals could see him today! I wonder if they would also offer him $5.00 to just be quite for 15 minutes in a feeble attempt at alleviating a migraine.

The last few days have been "one of those days." You KNOW what I'm talking about because we ALL have them. The milk is spilled, you hit every red light, you burn dinner, the kid is going crazy, the neighbors are, well, being neighbors...you name it, it's going on. The changing seasons always brings about interesting behaviors in an autism filled home. We have an increase in cranky, moody behavior, self-stimming, and general autism'y stuff. (Yes, yes I did use the word stuff. It is a very handy word, very much like "ish.") This year is no exception. We've had general running, stomping, shaking, flapping, spinning, squealing, etc. Only it is made worse by his seemingly "typical" behavior otherwise. One can only endure so much stomping that it seems as if drywall is going to crack, and glass shattering squealing before...yep you guessed....migraine sets it.

Now for those of you who have had bad headaches and referred to them as migraines, you have only hit the tip of the iceberg of headache land. Migraines, for me, come on for days. My hands get tingly, my body just feels off, my eye sight seems a bit wonky. Today though, not so much. I'm driving down the road, taking our sitter to work when BAM! Out of no where some invisible man took an invisible screwdriver and began to unscrew my brain via my left eye. Insert nausea, watering eyes, near blindness it seems like. I pull over at a discount store, manage to get my way inside to find a bottle of Coke and some ibuprofen when I end up in line behind everyone's worst nightmare of a customer. She was bargain shopping, which is GREAT. She was getting half off clearance "last chance items" such as off brand coffee, brownies, cake mix, etc., and they were crazy low prices. 1.30 for a can of coffee and .20 for a pouch of brownie mix! I don't blame her. But, here I stand with my bottle of Coke and my ibuprofen wanting nothing more than to swallow a couple more ibuprofen than I should probably take on an empty stomach and allow some inkling of relief to take over when she began hollering at her kid. Yes, hollering. It is different than yelling. It is obnoxious  behavior that is generally reserved for use with friends and family, not a place of business. She had this head throb inducing raspy voice, her kid was acting as if she was entitled to grab a handful of energy drinks and do a puppy whine when her mother loudly says to put them back, as she stomps loudly away. The manager was trying to fix her order, and cutting up rather loudly with her. All I wanted to do was quietly state it was a place of business, there was a line 5 customers long, just fix her order and move along when the manager decided to open the other register. I thankfully walked over, when the manager starts speaking really loud again to the lady laughing in a high pitch laugh. My head, now feeling like it's going to explode at any minute, was on it's last leg of tolerance. I finally get out of there, drop the sitter off, and make my way home when the kid starts.

He decided that NOW was the perfect time to give me every detail he could think of about weather, bridges, planes, his toys, his toy play area, the dogs, the cats, and the theory of relativity. I begged, I pleaded PLEASE just give me a few minutes to close my eyes and let the ibuprofen kick in, PLEASE I said. No go. Then he started in on his homework, telling me what he didn't like, what he did like, etc. Again, PLEASE son, just 5 minutes. That's all. Just. 5. Minutes! Nothing. I finally said, I will give you a $5.00 bill for 15 minutes of total silence. He says, "really? A whole $5.00 bill?" I can see the gears cranking in his mind, and he accepted! Sweet Lord Above he accepted the terms of the agreement! AND....for a solid 30 seconds it was the BEST silence ever, right up until he breached the contract and started whispering 1039843039484830 questions about geography and Captain Underpants books.

I gotta say, it was pricey, but the 30 seconds that $5.00 bought were pure bliss while they lasted today. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better, migraine free day, when petty little things like this won't bother me.

Friday, September 26, 2014

The trouble with Ts....

Homeschooling can be a beautiful bonding moment for parent and child. Unless of course that parent is right-handed, the child left-handed, and the lesson of the moment is cursive writing. It will be a miracle if I survive this endeavor with my hair firmly rooted in place.

I have countless cursive writing PDFs, and one handwriting workbook. Perhaps these would work to our benefit, I do not know for sure. I figured it would be best to begin with the basics of forming the letters. Who knew lefty's make their letters so vastly different than right handers!?

I finally gave up after days and hours of trying to explain to my concrete thinking kid how to form the letters the "right" way. I elected to write out the letters on lined penmanship paper with a highlighter and let him trace them. I figure he will develop his own style anyway, so why force mine onto him. I figure this way he will learn cursive, and I hope I get to keep my hair! I'll keep you posted on the progress.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

In the beginning....there were no words.

In the beginning....there were no words. This sentence pretty much sums up anything that could be said about the first three years of my son's life. To fully grasp our lives today, we have to take an epic journey down memory lane.....don't forget to buckle up ladies and gentlemen, it's gonna be a bumpy ride!

I was diagnosed with infertility June 2003. After undergoing more tests and evaluations than I personally care to recall at the moment, I found myself in a stark, cold, white room with an equally cold, stark doctor telling me that my chances of  natural conception were so close to impossible, that only God himself could make it happen. Imagine his surprise when I walked in unannounced a little over a year later showing off the most beautiful ultrasound photo of a tiny little blob the world has ever seen!

I had an uneventful pregnancy until 35 weeks gestation. The night before I hit the 35wk mark at 11:30pm a spider fell rather dramatically onto my leg. Insert screams of panic and a jump off the couch here. I woke up around 5:30 am cold...and wet.  Apparently my water broke. Of course we were not ready, and clueless as to what was happening. It took us from 5:30am until nearly 8am to get to the hospital only 15mins away. Long story short, I wasn't in labor, my water had just broken. 4 and half hours of pitocin and 2 pushes later (With no pain meds thank you very much) my son was born.

He was a good baby. He was just very tiny. He didn't cry much at first, and he had a hard time latching on to nurse....but he eventually got the hang of both crying AND latching. He loved to stare at patterns and things in motion. Ceiling fans and the bars on his infant swing were his favorites. By 6 months old he was spinning on all fours so hard and so fast he could do an entire rotation and never touch the floor! By 12 months he was pacing back and forth, shaking his head, banging his head until he left bruises, and flapping his arms and hands. He never lost words because he never gained them in the first place. He did lose foods due to a rising sensitivity to textures.

By 14 months old he began early intervention services to treat profound development delays that were thought to have been a condition of his earlier than expected birth. By 2 years 2 months and 1 day old he had a diagnosis of severe autism. We were told he would never speak, never show true emotion, never say "Mommy"....never say "I love you," ....so many nevers.

I dropped out of school. I was a biology major at Marshall University. I couldn't keep up with his health (a whacky immune system that would later be diagnosed) and his hours upon hours of therapy AND school. I worked with his Birth to Three team, and I spent hours a day (12-14 hours each day) working with him myself. I learned he COULD speak, he just couldn't speak English. He spoke his own language. He would say the same things each time, but they sounded like gibberish. For example, "water" was "Ohtu." He also had echolalia so he repeated most everything he heard. I used his gift of mimic and his own language to more or less teach him English and force him to speak.

I first noticed he could repeat any melody he heard, so I began to communicate to him through sing-song melodies. His name had a tune, and a variety of basic commands and phrases had their own tunes as well. I eventually began to put words with these little melodies, then dropped the melodies all together. After that it was a matter of repeating what he said in HIS language, then repeating it in English. AFter that, when he could say "our" words, I would have him repeat the same thing five different ways. "Can I have a drink? Drink, please? I need a drink? Please get me a drink? I'm thirst?" And with each and everything I said to him I repeated his name. By the time he was 4 he was speaking in short 3-5 word sentences. By the time he was 4 and 1/2 he had a "normal" vocabulary, and by the time he was six he was well above age level for both expressive and receptive communication.

Today, at 9 I hear "I love you, Mommy" multiple times a day, each and every day. And every time it is with true, heart felt emotion! My son, who was diagnosed with severe autism, beat the autism and came back through the autism window. It took a LOT of hard work, but he did it!

Today, I am a college graduate and he is a homeschooled 4th grader. He is a tested and true genius. This blog will hopefully not only inspire others who are facing the diagnosis of Autism in their lives, but also help those who choose to homeschool their typical and non-typical children.