Thursday, March 16, 2017

He may be your client...

But he's my kid.

You see a name on a folder. I see my heart walking outside of my body.

Since November we have been working with a state agency called Perform Care. It was recommended to use by our school district caseworker.  She sung the praises of how much it would help. I eyed her over my glasses because I knew she had no idea how all this stuff works.  Suuuuuure. It would be just that simple.

Here it is, middle of March.  Ask me if a Behavior Therapist has been to my house yet? Better yet, ask me if the caseworker assigned to my Kiddo has EVEN MET the Kiddo?

Yesterday I got to the point of autism parenting that breaks me.  Being so frustrated that I cried while I was speaking. If you get me to that point, your ass better run. I can blow off anger. I can shake off being sad.  Making my mascara run down my face because I am trying to get the therapy my Kiddo needs, I hope you have your affairs in order and have made peace with your maker.

I am so freaking tired of this dance.  The amount of bureaucratic nonsense is astounding. To all the school caseworkers and teachers in New Jersey that say "Call Perform Care" to the parents of the students they serve, I'd like you to know that it's close to pointless to suggest it like it's a solution that will end the problem. The only thing Perform Care has done so far is make me have dozens of meetings and hundreds of phone calls. It is a glorified run around of paper pushing.  Every meeting ends with whatever person this caseworker has sent du jour recommending another thing and whatever that thing is, they don't do. "But call your caseworker!"

I lost my ever loving shit yesterday. All over the phone to multiple people. I keep hearing from them how they serve the whole family and yet the only person in my family that sees or talks to them the most is me.  I didn't sign up for Perform Care. I signed my KIDDO up for it.

And here we are, all these months later, and he still hasn't been seen by a behavior therapist. Each phone call to make another appointment to discuss things means another week is added on to this.  I'm ready to throw in the towel completely with this agency because it's just a lot aggravation with no payoff.

Of course, I can't because I need to have my son in the system. In as many places in the system as we can get him.  So as much as I just want to throw up the white flag and both my middle fingers at this, I press on.

By the end of the day yesterday I had managed to schedule yet another meeting with another agency to come see my Kiddo and maybe they'll be able to offer him services.  I'm not holding my breath and I'm pretty sure in the Kiddo's file is a big note that the mother is a raving lunatic.

I'm okay with that. :-)

Get frustrated. Cry. Scream. Repeat. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

AngelSense. A review and peace of mind.

I am often asked to recommend a good GPS device. One name that I have heard time and again was AngelSense. So I was pretty happy when the company reached out to me and asked me to review their product for my blog and become a part of their affiliate program.  (Full disclosure. They provided me with the device and a few months of service for free.)

Now bolting hasn't always been an issue for the Kiddo till this year. Call it puberty. Call it all the changes in the three schools he's been in less than a year. It doesn't happen a lot but it has happened. He's also in a program now were he goes on a lot of outside the school instructional trips.  Twice a month his class stops at multiple locations on a single outing. Yeah, this "Smother" gets a little worried about that.

I will be very honest. I was extremely skeptical when I received it. It is kind of big but I have to say my son doesn't seem to care. I have it pinned in the pocket of his coat for now.  Come summer I will have to pin it to his waistband of his shorts.  Here is a short video of what it looks like and how to attach it to clothes.  You are given a special magnet key that helps take off the fasteners.  You cannot remove the fasteners without it.  Kiddo tried. That thing did not budge.

Here's a clip of what you get and how to attach it. 

This works in conjunction with a free app you can download to your smartphone.  The app itself is very user friendly. You can also set it up to send you text and email alerts when your kid is "on the go".  Another feature that I loved was it clocks how fast the van/bus goes with my Kiddo on it.

Oh Helllllo Speed Demon Van Driver. Let's have a chat, shall we?  (And now we have a different driver.) 

I can now track exactly where he is on the ride home.  That's pretty handy to know when I have to put on real pants and a bra to get him off the bus. ;-) 

When your child stops somewhere it will notify you and ask you to name it if it's a stop your child goes to regularly. (i.e. School, Grandma's, Speech Therapy, "Window Fries".)  I would say we have pretty much all of his usual haunts programmed in there now.  This has been great on the days when he has that multiple stop class trip. I can see exactly what part of the trip they are on.

Another neat feature. You can "listen in" to your child's environment simply by pressing a button on the app.  You can then listen on your phone to what's going on.  With all the changes that keep happening with the Kiddo, this has been a good feature just to check in on him.  It was highly amusing to hear him rattling off the exit signs on his bus ride to school.  My only complaint about this is it is really easy to get addicted to listening in ALL THE TIME.  (Helicopter Mom much?)  I've managed to ween myself off of this.  It's nice to know that I have it should we need it.  Also, it needs to be noted that what you hear isn't always crystal clear. It can be muffled sometimes but it's kind of to be expected. It's really no different than if you had your phone in your pocket and butt dialed someone.

You get about a day's worth of battery life with this.  It means charging it over night and I have a text alert set up to both remind me to plug it in and to attach it to the Kiddo the next morning.  Also a nice feature as I am Hella forgetful.

Translation: "Get off Twitter and go put the device in his pocket!" 

All in all, I went from "Well, we'll see if this works." to "TEAM ANGELSENSE!"  It's serious peace of mind for this autism mom and I'm kind of kicking myself for not have tried it sooner.   (Especially when stuff was so bad at his old school.)  If you have been following me a while now, you know I don't usually post product reviews or affiliate links. It's usually because the stuff folks send me to review does not live up to the hype.  I don't want to waste your time or money getting your hopes up.  This product, for us, works. If elopement is a worry of yours or just want a little extra security, this is money well spent.

If you are looking to order one for your loved one with autism or just for more product info, click here!AngelSense (Full disclosure. This is an affiliate link, which means I will receive a commission if you purchase this device using this link.) So if you have been wondering about this product, I can say it honestly delivered and then some.

Side of fries for you AngelSense!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Don't be a jerk.

I've been blogging about autism since 2012 but autism has been in my life in some way since roughly 1998 or so.  (I worked in a private special needs school before I had the Kiddo and leveled up.) Here's what I have learned in almost 20 years of this stuff.

Don't be a jerk.

Or an ass. Or a dick. Or the curse word of a choosing.  Whatever floats your boat. I'm not telling you how to live your life.  

But what I will say is it never ceases to AMAZE/HORRIFY me when family act like jerks to those in their family with autism and to their immediate caregivers. Seriously, what is with this crap?  There's not a week that goes by where I don't get an email to my blog saying something along the lines of "My family does not get it. What do I do?" Or "We stopped getting invited to family gatherings because of our kid with autism."  Or the one that really makes me hit the roof, "Our extended family invites our typical kids places but doesn't ask to spend time with our autistic ones."

Let's face it. You have to be a real special sort of asshole to invite the typical kid to something and purposely leave out the autistic one, while hoping like Hell that the parents either don't notice or mind.  I will be the first person to admit that you have to know when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em when it comes to taking your autistic kids places.  You have to be realistic. You're looking at a woman that scheduled her father's funeral around her son being in school because being quiet during a solemn ceremony would just not have happened and it was much better for the Kiddo to stay on his routine at the brand new school he had only just started a few weeks before. 

But this shunning that I see happening far too much in families, that shit has got to stop. It's not just autism families I see this in. All disabilities seem to get a taste of this.  Really?  Aren't we all better than that?  Have we not evolved well past sending all those with any sort of disability off to some institution.  Never to mingle with the rest of the world again. Come on!

Now before you may go "But...but...but... We don't know how to be with those autistic kids.  We don't know what they need or how to do it the right way."  Well newsflash for ya, neither do their parents.  Believe it or not we were not given a swag bag at the diagnosis that comes with an instruction manual.  They're learning as they go.  Join the class.  Learn with them. They are the ones with them all the time.   Consider them the smart kid in the class that you can ask to help you with your homework.

I'll even give you a little cheat sheet/Cliff Notes version on this.  Planning an event where both autistic and neurotypical events might be tricky but it's not impossible.  Clearly parents that have kids of each do it EVERY SINGLE DAMN DAY!  Ask their caregivers what's the best kind of thing for all involved.  That's all you gotta do.  That's it.  Ask.  BOOM! Pretty easy.

And if you think you aren't hurting those kids both autistic and neurotypical when you do this mess, I can assure you, they know what you are doing.   All kids can smell bullshit.  Some might not be able to say it with words but I know that Kiddo can lay some side eye on a jerk that can make that person question all of their life choices.

If you are that autism parent/caregiver that currently has this happening to you, I'm sorry. It sucks. There is no excuse for it. At all. If your family won't change, well, family can be made too. Find your tribe and stick with #TeamQuirky.  You know I'd share fries with you all any day of the week. My Kiddo might announce when it's time for you to leave because autism but you get it. You live this flappy lifestyle.

In the immortal words of George Costanza....