Monday, November 25, 2013

"They'll eat when they're hungry."

No honey, they won't.  Not my kiddo and from what I hear, not a lot of other kids with autism either. 

This sentence has been way to much.  From the get go.  You see, my kiddo would in fact pick starving rather than eating.  That lent itself to me doing what I call "Desperate Acts of Parenting".  Think how cranky/listless and down right crappy you feel when you are hungry.   Add a dash of autism and you got a recipe for an epic meltdown with poor health for dessert.  Good times people!  Good times.  I would beg this kiddo to eat anything.  I mean anything, if it meant something would pass those lips of his.  How else do you think this blog got named?  Fries for breakfast? Sure! They are just hash browns in stick form.  Same thing!  Not to mention the limited places we could grab a bite to eat ourselves that we could take him that would be quick and would be able to purchase through a drive thru window should we not even get across the parking lot without a meltdown because he saw a school bus he wanted to touch barreling down the highway.  Big mean mommy that I am, I wouldn't let him run into traffic to go play on it.  Plus the added bonus of those little indoor playgrounds.  Nothing helps builds up your child's budding immune system by being exposed to the petri dish that is the ball pit! Hey it's good sensory work.  I'll just give him a Silkwood type shower after.  He'll be fine.

I started seeing the eating issues when the kiddo was about twenty months old.  Being the new (clueless) mom that I was, I eagerly accepted that he was just starting to be fussy as a result of the "terrible twos" that he was approaching.  Four months ahead of the game! My word! Truly he was gifted. However when mealtime became a battle that ended in tears, usually mine, I suspected it was more than just being a toddler. By the time we finally got an early intervention speech therapist into our lives to take a look at this, I was frazzled hot mess.  I was desperate.  Not eating was effecting EVERYTHING and EVERYBODY in this house!  (Except the dog actually. Whatever the kiddo threw, boy, that puppy was loving it!)  That poor therapist was probably driven to drink by the kiddo.  Not a single spoon or those little Nuk brushes would go in his mouth without a major production.  It wound up being one single spoon that my son would actually wrap his lips around in the beginning.  If the house ever caught fire I think I would of run back into the burning flames to rescue that spoon.  Even she seemed a little shocked that I was willing to feed him chocolate pudding at 9:30 in the morning if it meant something on a spoon got in his mouth.  I did not care.  When it came to getting him to eat, it was by any means necessary.

We are now on our second attempt at feeding therapy with this kiddo.  I'm cautiously optimistic by his progress this go around.  We have gotten him to try more things.  He finally started used a fork correctly.  Might be a no brainer for anyone else but for us it  was a multi step process of learning how to accept that this sharp pointy thing was going to go in his open mouth just far enough to get the food in but not so far to gag on it or stab himself.  That he would then bite down on the fork and pull it out to get the food off the fork.  That he would have to manage the sensation of the different textures of the food next to feeling the texture of the metal or plastic of the fork and then remember after all that to chew his bite completely and then swallow.  Repeat, repeat and repeat.  It's a process. 

I've kind of accepted that eating is always going to be a major issue for him but hey, what else is new.  The fact that the kiddo is willing to try some new foods here and there give me some hope.   Please though, please don't ever tell me he will eat when he's hungry because after nine years of this I can tell you without a doubt that he won't.  This isn't him being a fussy eater.  This isn't just me spoiling him.  Please don't tell me to bring him shopping or involve him in the cooking because I've done both and neither have made a dent in this problem.  (Much like his father, he doesn't like cooking at all.)  Yeah, I already know about all those how to hide veggies in foods cookbooks. Bought a few of them too.  Problem was he wouldn't even eat the foods that were suppose to be the carriers of the secret veggies. We have about a thousand different mountains to climb.  It stinks that eating is one of them.  Sensory processing disorder is real and sometimes it's a real pain in the ass.  I'm not going to lie about that.  I can never even tell what each meal is going to be like still. 

Let me break it down to you this way.  This kiddo is the walking french fry but there was a time that they couldn't be any other shape but sticks.  No curly fries.  No crinkle cut.  Don't even think about steak fries or wedges.  Matchsticks cut or nothing.   The first time he "kissed" a waffle fry I almost wept for joy. Yeah, it can be just that complex.  So I don't know what I was thinking when I offered him mashed potatoes last night.  Just the inside of a fry right?  WRONG! 

I must of had a leave of my senses. :-)

Monday, November 18, 2013

"Oh my kid does that too."

I hear this sentence a lot.  I've heard it expressed in different ways though.  Sometimes it's said in an effort to relate to me and my kiddo.  Sometimes I hear it and I feel completely dismissed by it. And sometimes I say it and I have seen looks of hope, pity and outright shock in the face of a parent looking at me. 

"Your kiddo is obsessed with trains.  Oh my kid does that too."  Well that's great and all but my kiddo is nine.  I'm betting your kiddo if they are the same age, is well past that point of all things Island of Sodor.   I'm betting you don't plan vacations on around train museums to visit or have to make up social stories about when the train ride is finished we say thank you and we do not cry.  Plus when this was said to me during our first trip down the rabbit hole that is Thomas the Tank Engine, I'm betting your kid actually played make believe with the toys.  He didn't just line them up.  Now right here, someone is saying "Oh my kid did that too." but I'm pretty sure they did that PLUS other things with them.  Not just this and eventually they moved on.  Maybe they still have a fond affection for trains and always will but trust me, my kiddo never truly abandons an obsession.  I'm betting your kid got into something else. 

"Your kiddo is rowdy with your dog.  Oh my kid does that too."  Now I'm betting you will tell me about that one time your kiddo got nipped by the dog and never did it again.   That it taught them a lesson.  Yep, my kiddo has been nipped.  Multiple times.  It never teaches him "the lesson".  So please excuse me while I watch him like a hawk around your pet because despite it happening countless times, he's never stopped getting in an animal's face.  It's not rough housing.  It's not be a rowdy boy on his part.  It's not "rough and tumble" play as my child psychology professor used to like to call it.  It's an accident waiting to happen.  I'm betting your kiddo didn't get nipped and immediately start scripting from Yo Gabba Gabba "We don't ever bite our friends."

"Your kiddo hates school.  Oh my kid does that too." As much as my son craves and relies on the schedule of his school day, he also has a wonderful way to get my heart beating in the morning.  I will have to prompt him no less than 8,304 times to finish his breakfast.  I will wrestle this nine year old boy into his jacket every morning. Even though he has been going to school since the day after his third birthday, I will have to remind him to get his backpack every single morning.  While your kid might be excited if the bus is late or wakes up to a sudden snow day, mine will likely melt down for an hour over it.  Don't even get me started on handwriting homework.  It has driven me to drink. Fourth grade math might baffle your kid but my son still is challenged by having to sign his name.

Now here's where I will flip this sentence.  If I say "Oh my kid does that too." to someone, I can you bet you dollars to donuts that they might blink in shock.  Especially if their kid isn't on the spectrum.  I've seen other moms actually look terrified when I have said it.  Like their kid is going to catch the kiddo's autism.  Best get them out of there right away.  While you can relate to some of the things I said, guess what? I can do the same to what you say.  Complicated isn't it?  It isn't all autism all the time here.  There are some parts of him that are just like your kids.

I guess what's always kind of stuck in my craw about that damn sentence is that it can make me feel like my concerns or worries aren't valid.  I know I heard this sentence a lot when we were just starting the autism diagnosis process.  Friends and families were trying to calm our fears.  Little tip, it doesn't really.  It just sticks out more in your mind, the differences in our kids.  It just made me feel like the idea of autism was so awful that no one even wanted to discuss it.  That made me so sad.  It made me convinced he'd never be accepted by anyone.  Even possibly myself.  How can you come to terms with autism if you won't even acknowledge it?  Just doesn't work.

Well I will agree with you on one thing.  The fries, all kids do love the fries too.  :-) 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Age Appropriate? Pffffft!

Tis the season for my mother to start holiday shopping.  Granny Fry, I am convinced, starts shopping for next year's Christmas on December 26.  Sometimes, she is so ahead of the game that she often forgets what it is that she bought until she stumbles upon it when hiding the latest thing she bought for one of her grandkids.  Mainly this applies to my niece who is very easy to spend money on because she loves girly girl stuff.  If glitter and sequins cover it, buy it.  My older nephew is the video game king and there is always a latest game to get around that time.  It's the kiddo that is the challenge to her.   Well, frankly to me too.  What else is new?

She's been asking.  (Yes Mom, as you read this, I do have a list, I swear. I will email it to you.)  I've discussed this here before.  Shopping for gifts for him is tough.  Just freaking hard.  I don't know what he'll want half the damn time and I gave birth to him.  Now I have all these well meaning relatives that want to buy him presents too?  Good lord, you all are driving me to drink.  (P.S. Buy Mama Fry more boxed wine.  Easy to wrap!)  As much as I want to say "Please he doesn't need anything." or "Gift cards/cash", I know it will be countered with "But he has to open something!!!!"

So I'm thumbing through the latest catalog from Fun and Function. (Go google them.  They do have some cool stuff for spectrumy quirky kids.  They didn't pay me to say this.  I just honestly like them.) I'm making my list and I'm reading all the online reviews, trying to figure out what he'll actually like.  I started to dismiss something as not "age appropriate" for him.  Not that he wasn't old enough for it.  Quite the opposite. I'm constantly catching myself doing this.  Deciding not to get something.  Or getting wrapped up in this idea that something is too young for him.  Babyish, if you will.   You know what?  I'm a big old hypocrite for even thinking that. 

As I thought "Oh he's too old for this.", not an hour earlier I had texted a friend of mine a link to a cartoon ad we both liked.  I did this next to the Star Trek Enterprise toy that belongs to my husband, not our son.  I enjoy watching The Polar Express with my son all the freaking time.  Going to new Pixar movies excite me more than him.  My husband builds forts and hangs out there with our kiddo.  I tend to get annoyed at those bouncy house places that adults aren't allowed on the slide.  I want to go on one! On vacation, my husband and I engaged in a battle royale with an air hockey table at an arcade.  Kiddo wasn't even playing. He was to busy stuffing his face with popcorn.  Acting our age? Not even close.  So why am I so wrapped up in this?  Why does it matter if a puzzle is considered to be not in the right age bracket for him.  Does it make him happy?  Will he use it?  That's all I really need to worry about here.

Recently, I started to see him rediscover some of the old TV shows and cartoons that I guess you could say are more in line with a five year old than a nine year old.   I started to see it's because he can actually follow the plot.  It's not just noise on in the background anymore.  So big deal if he wants to watch them.  Even the really trippy ones, like Yo Gabba Gabba.   (I'm still not sure what FooFa is and I'm not sure I want to know.) My husband is still searching for a copy of "Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol".  If I ever find it, I'm buying it for him.  Why should I care if the kiddo wants to watch the Weird Al Yankovic "Circus" episode daily? (I think we can all agree that it was a superior episode of Yo Gabba Gabba.  Minus that whole making Broobie a clown because clowns are creepy.)  

New this holiday season, the kiddo has started a list!  He's never done that before.  I'm kind of stoked about that. One item, well I guess they are what a lot of nine year old kids would want.  A skateboard and all I can think is "Oh he's way to little for that. Nope. No way.  Too small.  He'll hurt himself! Not my teeny tiny baby who weighs 74 pounds!"  Man I like moving that whole age appropriate argument around to suit me when I need it. I wonder if I can get one with the Plex the Magic Robot on it? Cause why not balance it all out? We do as neurotypicals aka "Muggles".  And here I am referencing Harry Potter, a book series for kids.  See my point?  :-)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

"Exact Words Greg!"

Life with the kiddo isn't exactly an episode of The Brady Bunch.  I'm not rocking a perfect flip in my hair.  I thank the good Lord each day that there not six of the kiddo running around an astro turf back yard.  My husband has yet to take me on a business trip with him to Hawaii and one look around my house will show you pretty quickly that there is no Alice, the maid.  This morning though, I was pretty sure my son had turned into a Brady.  Let me explain.

Yesterday the kiddo came home from school and does his usual routine of emptying out his backpack and handing all items over to me.  Included in this exchange was part of a PTA fund raising order that had come in.  It's pretty clear to me that this is not my entire order and it's kind of odd to only get part of it without some sort of note or email blast going out explaining what's up.  The kiddo's PTA is pretty good that way.  So I jot off an email to our Madame President with a "where's my stuff?" whine.  She then forwards it to another mom with her own "where's her stuff?" to boot.  I add another email to both ladies with a "Dudes, I ordered  A LOT of stuff.  Christmas presents!  Come on!!"  Yeah, I'll fess up.  I started my shopping way early this year and actually felt like I had my shit together.  To find out that about 8 items were MIA sent me into a tizz.

Cut to the scene this morning and the school bus rolling on up.  The kiddo starts to hop on but the aide inside stops him.  She comes down the steps with a bag that appears to be the rest of my order.   Apparently, he left it on the bus.  I thanked her and the driver but did look at the kiddo and said "Buddy? What the heck?  You're suppose to give this to me.  You know that."

Kiddo points at it and says; "Not in the backpack." and it dawns on me.  Why did I get the first part of that order?  Cause it fit in his backpack.  Why did this not come home?  Because it was NOT in his backpack.  Ergo, not his responsibility to move heaven and earth to give it to me.  He and his literal thinking, his autism way, had found his loophole. How could I possibly complain as he did indeed hand over to me the contents of what is in his backpack? He did his job.  With that he high fived the bus driver and went off to school, having owned his mother once again by 8:40AM.

"Exact words Greg!" All I could think of was this old episode.  How Greg thought he had completely outsmarted his parents. This autism way is exact words all the freaking time.  To the point of where sometimes it saves me but most of the time, it saves him.  When things are clearly stated, everybody is happier for it.  There was a part of me that just wants to have my "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia" moment and just rage against the Brady Status Quo but it is what it is.  So tonight I will sit down again with the boy and explain that ALL things handed over at school need to come home, regardless of if they are in his backpack or have to be carried in another bag.  I'm sure there will also be a long debate over the color, size and shape of said additional bag.  That no, I will not always be able to predict on which days such things shall occur.

Pardon me Madame President as I may never order anything again. Will this be an issue?  Were you trying to get Davy Jones to sing at the prom?  Oh wait, he passed away.  Never mind. 

Oh autism, exact words to be etched in stone but that stone better be in the backpack.