Thursday, September 4, 2014

Back to school

Well... There is a perfectly good explanation for the gap in my posts, which I will explain later.  Today is the first day of school and I just want to celebrate that!

Ali had a great summer.  He's entering third grade and I'm both anxious and excited.  This will be a transition year, one way or another.  There is a big leap in academics and social interactions for this grade level, and it's going to be turbulent.  So, on top of all the daily chores and responsibilities, I have decided to get him a dog.  I want him to take the position of a caregiver, and maybe strengthen some social skills.  Empathy, for example.  It may also help his confidence.

I have gotten positive feedbacks from teachers, and think it''s the right move.  If you have any suggestions as far as good breeds, etc. let me know.

Happy first day of school!

Sunday, November 3, 2013


One of the hardest parts of being an autistic child's parent is to control your emotions and stay logical when others complain or question your child.

I got an email from my son's teacher stating that he was not behaving and that they tried to make him understand that there would be consequences when he didn't follow directions, etc.  There has been a power struggle with him lately.  He wants to claim his independence and does it in all the wrong ways... like telling teachers and friends that they need to follow his directions.
On one hand, I understand that he needs to be disciplined.  On the other, there has to be a difference between an autistic child and a mainstream child when it comes to judgement.  How does the school system deal with misbehaving kids?  Is there a difference in severity of consequences between special needs kids and mainstream kids?  How do I ask that question from the school staff?  Am I being oversensitive?

I DO want his behavior modified.  It needs to be.  I also want to ensure he's being treated with kindness and understanding in the process.

Friday, November 1, 2013

My Halloween Nag

Halloween is over.  Thank God!  I used to love getting creative and dressing up when it was only me I had to worry about.  Now I have to get creative figuring out how to manage sugar intake with the least number of tantrums.  And that's just the aftermath of trick or treating.

Beforehand, I give my son a little lecture.  We are going in public where there is a lot of traffic and maybe little tolerance.  He can't get picky.  He can't take his time going through the candy bowl.  He can't touch people's costumes without permission.... little does it help.
The most difficult times were when the candy-giving people would get impatient with his questioning or wanting more than one candy.  A voice inside my head would say "give him a break, he's autistic." and on the outside I would quietly redirect him.  Mainly because I couldn't stand the sight of anyone being less than kind to him.  But really people!  If you have little tolerance towards children (autistic or not) please stay inside.  This is a special occasion for kids.  If you want to share it with them by handing out candy, remember this:  Parents are in charge of teaching their kids manners.  Not you.  You are only in charge of handing out candy until you run out.  And then your job is done.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Chapter Book Adventure

One of my son's autistic traits is that he has trouble understanding language.  One sentence becomes two, you're OK.  Three sentences and higher, and you're speaking Mandarin to him.  That is why he has a 1-1 aid to break things down in the classroom.

As his mother, I'm terrified.  What is going to happen to him in the outside world?  How will he ever be able to live an independent life?  I try to create exercises at home but am not sure if it actually helps.  I just know it won't hurt, and that's enough!

Here's the latest one:
We have been taking trips to the library and I forced a chapter book on him.  He refused to even look at it.  So it became our bedtime routine to read one chapter every night.  Well, I read.  He roamed around the room and did his imaginary play.  I figured, if he even takes in 5% I'm happy.  Maybe the repetition would help???

If you are reading this and have any knowledge or suggestions that could help me, please share them.

Happy Friday!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Question of the week

This past week I received an email from Ali's school... Basically, Ali had said "If the music teacher doesn't follow my directions, she's going to die."  The email stated that he was told that he should not be saying that several times and "it seemed like he couldn't focus on what he was told."  Long story short, he was taken to the principal's office, and the issue was reported to the behavioral therapist, special needs director, etc. etc.
After reading the email I did what a robotic, trained mother of an autistic child would do:  Sat him down.  Spoke with him and tried to figure out why he would say such a thing... He said he got angry at her, so I took out a piece of paper and practiced writing 3 good "choices" to do when we are angry, and last, wrote an email and apologized to the teacher and told her I'm handling it on this side.  Pressed send.  And regretted it almost right away.  So I sent a second email and asked for a meeting....

What does it mean when an autistic 8 year old child (who is socially at age 5) mentions dying or even killing someone?  Does that make him a murderer? A future criminal?  Or does it mean he is translating a level of anger or frustration in words?  Should we keep telling him what he's saying is wrong?  Or should we teach him how to manage his feelings and use better language?
How do kids this age process the concept of death anyway?  I have heard Ali making comments like "The bad guys always die."  It's true.  Bad guys die in Batman, Superman, and even in The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast...

There is no doubt that making a statement like that is inappropriate.  No doubt!  And no doubt the parent should be notified.  But I wonder if we have become a bit too over analytical.  I guess that's my question of the week.  I know that I would naturally take the bias road, so I'm leaving this one up for discussion and maybe even taking it to therapy with me!

By the way, I did have the meeting and it went very well.  Everyone involved was happy and receptive.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Art of Manipulation

I don't know about you, but I was taught growing up that manipulation is bad.  And now, I practice it daily with my son and treat it like a gift.
If you are a parent or caregiver of an autistic child, you can sympathize with the fact that every little daily task is a fight.  Waking them up.  Getting them dressed.  Brushing teeth.  Eating.  Bathing.  Going out the door.  And these are the easy parts of the day.  Try saying no to something or introducing something new.  That's WWII.  Now, having to go through all of the above every single day will force you to grow some skills.  One of which is manipulation:

My son is very visual.  He has difficulty understanding language when spoken to, but I came to realize early on, that if I translate things into pictures and simple words and instructions, it will sink in better.  That would be consistent with autism.  Everything concrete is understandable.  He also loves telling time and checking the clock and timing things.  If I ask him to brush, or take a shower, or eat his dinner, etc. forget it!  I'm not sure why, but I think it may be partly because he wants to have control over his schedule.  So... I created a daily schedule with 4 choices in each hour (choices basically repeat every hour) to manipulate him into thinking he controls his schedule.  There are times (4:10-5:10 for example) and he circles what he wants to do that hour.  I have a digital clock and timer... all of which he likes.  It was my way of getting him to get tasks done... all along thinking he's free doing what he wants!  And it worked.

He loves the timer.  It has a globe on top of it and it changes colors... final color (red) indicating time's almost up.  It's work, but beats the struggles I had before which only resulted in frustrations for both of us.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Saturday morning thought

This morning, as I was trying to figure out what to make for breakfast (gluten-free pancakes were voted for), another thought passed through my head:
Is it me, or has there been a major shift in the world?  I don't really remember a gluten-free section in the grocery store growing up... or even an organic selection.  I don't remember anyone autistic, or autism being an issue anywhere.  And yes, many argue that it has always been around, but went undiagnosed.  And that may be true, but I'm almost certain not to this extend!!  So, why don't we question why?  What has caused so many people to become gluten intolerant?  Why should the "better selection" be called natural or organic?  Shouldn't that be a given?  Why not call the rest artificial or processed?
The point is... if we question these things, we see them in a different perspective.  Companies don't inform us about how differently they are processing or producing food.  All we see, is that all of a sudden, there are far more diseases around us.  And new isles have been added to the grocery stores.  And that may largely be due to the fact that making money is a higher priority to the food industry than our health....
I know... Quite heavy for a Saturday morning, but it is what it is.  The thought passed through and I had to share.
Happy Saturday.