Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The reality is...

I didn't want to write this one but I wouldn't be keeping it real if I shade over the stuff that's not so pretty.

Is it wrong to look at a bruise and think "Gee, that would make a nice color lipstick."? 

This is my arm. The bruise came as part of Kiddo's meltdown of "Daddy Fry" leaving the house for a few hours on a Saturday. Kiddo is the president of the Daddy Fry fan club and he wasn't to thrilled to be left behind with boring old Mama Fry. So he let his displeasure be known. Unfortunately, how he does that leaves a lot to be desired.

It starts with crying and screaming for his wants. One might even think, "Oh that's just a good old fashioned temper tantrum."  Don't give into that, so I didn't.

This is where autism comes. This is not just naughty or spoiled behavior we are dealing with here. This is "The world is ending. I don't know how to handle this." desperate attempts of self soothing that often lend themselves to looking more like a wrestling smack down and less like a mom patting her son on the head and saying "There, there. It'll be okay."

His favorite thing to self soothe is to get sensory input. Mainly by slamming/digging his forehead and his chin into my face while grabbing at my arms. With the Kiddo clocking in at ninety nine pounds and being 5 foot 1, it hurts. Badly. I try to "defend and deflect", like I learned in my old restraint training days back when I used to be able to leave autism behind me after I clocked out with my time card. This time he cut under one of my arms and leaned in with all his weight with a vice like grip. As he was doing it all I could think was "Sonofabitch! This is gonna leave a mark.", and I was right. It did. One hell of a big one on my upper arm.  Geez, Kiddo. You couldn't do this to me during long sleeve season? It's quite visible for all to see.

Which leads to fun conversations when folks notice it.  (Did I mention I am Irish by heritage ergo, pale AF. As the kids say.)  So it really, really, really, stands out.  "Oh my god! What did you do to yourself??" is what I keep hearing and that leads me to this moment.

The reality is it was my twelve year old son. It wasn't be accident but it wasn't premeditated either. The reality is while I will be the first one to say "A tantrum isn't a meltdown.", it's doesn't mean that they can't turn into one.  The reality is I'm not going to say what happened because they will want to offer unhelpful opinions, theories, and suggestions on what I should do to him without having any real idea of what the reality of our situation is on a day to day basis. The reality is when I do tell select folks because I know they get it, it's merely to get a much needed pep talk to get through stuff like this. I know they know I'm not looking for an instant fix but at the same time I don't want to repeat this even though it sadly will happen again.

The reality is the Kiddo keeps looking at it and pointing/poking it with his finger. He knows he did it. He knows I'm not happy about it. I don't lie about how I feel about it to him though. That would be completely unrealistic of me to pretend it was nothing. I know he feels remorse for it. Right now it's serving as a visual reminder to us both of all the work we still have ahead of us.

So I will redirect, redirect, and redirect him to find other ways to self soothe that don't involve me looking like I just came out of a caged match. "Chin on the wall, Kiddo. Not my face."  Even though my face is apparently perfect for such input, I'm taking on those ways of self soothing on because the reality is that it's starting to look like plain old abuse.  While I love a red lip, red marks and bruises aren't working for me. Plus the future just keeps creeping up on us and this is no way to handle oneself. Ever.

This is the reality of our autism.  This might not be what you deal with and if that is the case, I'm glad. I wouldn't wish this on anyone. I'm his mom. I'm the one who's job it is to make him feel better but it doesn't make me his freaking punching bag.

Did I mention we're leaving for vacation soon?  The reality is I will be packing my corkscrew because it's gonna be a TRIP!

Wish us luck!

Monday, June 13, 2016

It was just a bowl of popcorn.

It was just a bowl of popcorn but it was so much more.

It was a step towards independence.

Friday was a tough one for us.  I woke up sick with a sinus and ear infection. (Yay me! I'm an overachiever.)  Kiddo was super anxious. I could tell he was headed towards a meltdown but I kept him moving and busy until the bus came. After that, it was out of my hands.

Two and half hours of sitting at the doctors for myself and then the pharmacy, I finally came home. I promptly laid down because I had a free hour and intended to rest while I could. Then I heard "Whiskey in the Jar", which is my ring tone on my phone. I opened one eye and peek to see who it was on the Caller I.D.. School. Well, that is never good. Another meltdown in class. Like a pretty bad one. One where I might want to start slamming back some whiskey in a jar because I am at the point with the Kiddo where I don't know what to do anymore.

I mean, I get it and luckily so does the school. He's leaving a place he's been at since he was five. Big HUGE change and transition to Middle School. Despite all the social stories, tours, and talks about the place, it's still the great unknown to him.  I knew we would see some behaviors with all this going on. I just didn't realize it would manifest like this. By this I mean, throwing furniture at school. Attacking staff that he normally greets with smiles, hugs, and high fives. It's breaking my heart. I don't know how to fix this. No one seems to know what to do either. It's a lot of "Well, once he starts the middle school and gets into a routine. He'll probably settle."  We all hope anyway.

He's not the only one freaking out about the great unknown here.  Is this a blip or a preview of more to come? I can't even wrap my head around this. How on earth can I get him ready for the world with this kind of behavior as a constant?  How can I make him be independent?  Despite my "I can never die" plan, I need to know this Kiddo can face the world.

So needless to say, I had a big old sobbing fest and pity party for one.  Eventually I stopped because I was already congested as Hell.  I didn't need to add to it. We would power through this. We have no choice.

But the doubts. There were still in the back of my head and they had set up shop. Moved in furniture. Painted the walls, hanged some pictures. They were there for the long haul.

The Kiddo also came home with a big surprise for me. It seems his teacher, correction, the whole school staff practically had ordered the #TeamQuirky shirts I sell and took a ton of pictures wearing them with the Kiddo.  She made a nice photo collage for us and framed it.  Cue more ugly crying tears and heaps more guilt about his behavior. They get him. They know this isn't him. They love him like I do.  God dammit, I'm crying again just typing this.

Needless to say, by end of the day I was pretty much spent. Despite being cheered at the sight of the Kiddo running around holding this picture to put in his room, I still licking my wounds. Feeling sorry for myself. Worrying about the future for the Kiddo.  I did the mature thing and made one with my couch and the TV remote cause I can't even drink on these damn antibiotics for my various infections!

And then the Kiddo swaggers in the family room.  One hand holding a cup of juice with a straw, the other a bowl of freshly made microwave popcorn. My husband had been sitting beside me the whole time. He didn't help him make it. I didn't help him make it. I'm pretty sure the dogs would have steered him to just take out the cold cuts for a snack if they could have helped. So it meant the Kiddo did it all on his very own.

Because when you settle down for your 5037504th viewing of The Polar Express, you need some popcorn. Mom and Dad are busy, so you'll just do it yourself.

I haven't taught him what to do but he's watched me countless times do it. He even went full foodie on me and sprinkled Parmesan cheese on top!

It was just a bowl of popcorn but it was also a sign that maybe, just maybe we would get through this.

Making popcorn counts as cooking a meal, right?  I mean, it sure was my meal in college many a night.  

Friday, June 3, 2016

Neurotypicals kids are weird.

The Kiddo had his 5th grade concert last night. Not gonna lie. Due to his recent multiple meltdowns and behaviors, I was Hella nervous. Not only would be going off the night time routine by doing this, he wouldn't even be performing in his school. With the number of people coming, they moved it to the high school. So let's add brand new environment to the mix of anxiety with a side of nerves. Oy vey!

About three hours before we had to leave, I get an email from the school saying the Kiddo had been written up for behaviors on the bus from the day before. Which is news to me considering the bus barely slows down to boot him off of it each day.  Are you freaking kidding me???

So I walk out to the bus to meet it as the Kiddo is coming home and ask the driver how he did today on the ride to and from school. She replies "Great!".

Me:"Yeah. How about yesterday? Did you follow the Behavior Plan?"

SILENCE! Complete silence. From both the driver and aide. They literally said not a single word, which answered it all, didn't it? Because why follow a Behavior Plan when you can just write him up for having the nerve to keep acting autistic. Heavens to the Betsy, when will I give a that boy of mine a firm talking to to clear that up!

Me realizing I might need my own behavior plan at this point grit my teeth and reply: "Well I guess I'll be calling the behaviorist to come ride the bus with you guys again. BYE!" and walk away.

Needless to say I'm pretty sure at this point that the performance is going to be dicey. I mean, what the heck is going on plus it's not being addressed when it actually happens. UGH!

But dammit, Kiddo loves proving me wrong. As soon as he reported to his class that night, he was over the moon about it. Keep in mind a lot of his behaviors this week at school have been during the time of the choir rehearsals. Something just clicked though. He knew that he was now "on" and he did great!  I mean there were times his #TeamQuirky was showing with some flappy happy dance moves while singing but I chalk that up to watching too many musicals with Mama. Standing still to sing is NO FUN!

He even had a speaking part at the end wishing the everyone there a good night. Just waltzed up to the mic like it was no big deal in front of a crowd of hundreds. Yes, it was safe to say he really tested my waterproof mascara as my eyes sprung a leak.

In fact, there was a moment when I started looking at all the other kids there. Most of them were those mythical "neurotypicals" you hear about in books and TV. ;-) Yes, I was doing the worst thing I could be doing.  Comparing him to them but hey, I'm human. I make bad choices.  I also couldn't help but notice that a lot of his "typical peers" that around him to help model "appropriate" behavior aren't perfect.  IMAGINE THAT!!!

I saw nose picking, elbow shoving each other, one of the girls unclip her hair and restyle it, and most of them at one point or the other staring at the ceiling.  One of the best moments for me was seeing a young girl in the band pit kick off not one but BOTH of her shoes and start to pick at her toes while balancing her flute on her lap.

It was then it sunk in. Neurotypical kids are WEIRD.  My Kiddo suppose to learn from them?  Sweet Jaysus, he was better behaved at this thing than most of them!

Does this solve all the current issues we have at the moment with the bus, WTF Wednesdays, and anxiety? Nope but it sure did make me feel better.  Made me feel like we could get through all this stuff. Hey, he actually keeps his shoes on when we go places. We're already ahead of the game!

Of course, this morning he had a big honking case of anxiety. Eager to start his weekend. I had a bundle of nerves because I had to make multiple phone calls about him today to his case worker, the bus company, and the principal. I'm not thrilled about it and it's going to be a lot of work trying to figure out what to do. I did make a lot of headway and he managed to get through his day too.

Seriously, both shoes kicked off while in front of a crowd of people in the middle of a show. Young lady, I don't know who your mom is but if she saw that like I did, I'd like to buy her a glass of wine. She could probably use it. :-)

Happy Kiddo at the show makes me a Happy Mama!