Sunday, December 28, 2014

It IS ok to leave your church

I struggled with whether or not to write about this, but I think that I should.  My husband and I recently made the decision to leave our church.  This was an extremely difficult decision.  We have been heavily involved in our church for 5 years.

No church is ever perfect.  No person is ever perfect.  I will not go into details about why we left, that isn't what is important here.  What is important is the way we left.

When we left we made sure that we left under good terms.  These are our Christian brothers and sisters; our friends.  We don't always agree with them, but they are family.  We will see these people again.  What does it say about us and the work that God is doing in our lives if we cause strife within the God's family?

After I talked with our pastors wife about leaving the church, even though I was bawling like a baby, I felt peace to my inner core.  A weight was lifted that I didn't even know I carried.  If it wasn't God's direction, I would have felt worse, not better, after we spoke.  I had no idea that I was even carrying that heaviness.

A church as a whole isn't supposed to make you wish it weren't Sunday...again.  Church is a place to fuel your connection with God.  It is a place to praise Him and learn more about Him.  It it stops being that for you, then I would encourage you to look at what is taking away from that.  If you believe that God wants you elsewhere, consider moving on.  If there is a stumbling block for you, whether it is a person, or a prevalent belief in the church, move on.

We are currently looking for a new church.  And if you are considering changing your church, evaluate what is driving you to that decision.  If God is the reason, then go.  Don't abandon church though.  God is faithful, he will lead you to where you need to be.  It may not be as quickly as we want, but His timing is perfect.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Tips for Traveling with an Aspergers Child

Traveling for an ASD child can be difficult; but it doesn’t have to be.  I just returned from a month long trip.  Two weeks I traveled with all of my children and two weeks without.  While am not an expert on traveling with ASD children, I do make at least 3, 1 week+ trips per year with one.  My sons travel needs are different than my other children.  These are some tried and true tips that I’ve used over the years:

Traveling TOGETHER:

1.       Don’t talk about the trip until 2-3 days before leaving.  If you start talking about it earlier, anxiety and worry has time to build.
2.      Let him help in planning.  This means to let him pack some of his favorite things (books, mind games, lovie, ect.) or letting him suggest activities when you arrive (make sure to follow through).  This will give him a sense of control and gives something to look forward to.
3.      Make a daily plan, and STICK with it.  It can be tough to do this.  I’m actually terrible about it.  This doesn’t mean to plan out every hour of every day.  This means that you TELL your child “we will do X, Y and Z today”.  Tell him how long you plan to stay at each thing, or what time you need to arrive/leave.  
4.      Pack things for mental retreats.  It is likely that your child will have times that he needs to retreat from the activities and simply exist quietly for a time.  Buy a new fact book, coloring book, or a maze book.  Whatever makes your child feel rested and at peace, even if it’s a blanket he can hide under. 
5.      Remember to plan ‘down time’.  This really goes along with #3, but it’s extremely important.  No child can go all day without becoming tired, and being tired and in a strange place is a recipe for disaster for an ASD child. 
6.      Know your child.  If your child can’t take loud noises, don’t take him to a drag race.  If you think he would enjoy it, make sure to take the strongest ear protection you can find.  You might have to miss things you would enjoy, but really, how much will you enjoy it if your child is miserable and crying/screaming.

Leaving you child with a CAREGIVER:

1.       Don’t leave them with just anyone.  Your child has special needs.  Not everyone will understand this.  Make sure the person that you are leaving your child with understands his differences and is willing to be patient.  Outline the things he needs to feel safe and happy.
2.      Make it close to home.  This isn’t always possible.  The more familiar the location, the more relaxed he’ll be.
3.      Help him settle.  Try and stay with him at the new location for at least 2 days before you leave.  Trust me it helps.
4.      Take plenty of familiar activities.  This is not the time to learn new skills.  Take things that you know he’s comfortable with.
5.      Take a lovie or blanket.  Even if your child isn’t attached to something, chances are he will be when you return (it happened to me).
6.      Explain.  You know that things aren’t going to go like they do at home, but does your child?  Make sure he understands that different homes mean different rules and that is ok.  He might be allowed more of a certain type of food, or activity, this is no cause for alarm.  If you know something specific that will be different, make sure you tell your child.

7.      Relax.  The more relaxed you are, the more relaxed your child will be.  Prepare as much as you can and expect the best outcome.  You and your child will be much happier.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

How my Sons Asperger's has helped my Marriage

My husband, Jeremy, is one of the most brilliant men I have ever met.  That brilliance is is one of the things that attracted me to him.  He also has no common sense, and I have often accused him of having the emotions of a robot.  He also doesn't notice when people are in distress, or respond properly to that distress when it's shown to him.  He loves to negotiate contracts while playing monopoly, I've learned never to play a game with him, he ALWAYS wins and takes it WAY too seriously.  If you've ever seen the TV show  "Big Bang Theory", the character Sheldon could have been modeled from my husband.  I love Jeremy greatly, and I know he loves me.  But, these quirks have caused us tremendous trouble.

This Summer, my oldest was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism, more commonly known as Asperger's and Sensory Processing Disorder.  Since that time, I've done what most moms would do; I have read everything about the subject as I could get my hands on.  The more I read, the more of C-notes behavior I can understand.  I also see a great deal of my husband in all of this information too.

While I have gained a lot more patience with C-note, I have also gained more patience with Jeremy.  I realized that he wasn't deliberately trying to hurt me with his words that completely disregard emotion.  I see that he doesn't understand how outcomes change based on other peoples emotional response.  Just as he confuses me, I completely baffle him because I am mostly ruled by my emotions.

He is completely ignorant of his differences.  Which can be a good thing, because when people give him strange looks, he doesn't even notice.  But, some of the things he comes up with, or thinks are normal can be socially unacceptable.  Privately, we discuss our interactions, and how people responded in them.  This isn't something I deliberately started, it just came about, but it allows us to talk about how things were received by others without him feeling as though he's under attack.

I talk about EVERYTHING with Jeremy.  I believe that secrets can kill a marriage.  I also know that if I don't tell Jeremy exactly what's bothering me and why, he won't get it and believes that I'm more irrational than I normally am.  Telling him about everything, also means that I tell him everything about what I've read on Asperger's, how it relates to our son and other things that are not 'normal' behavior.  I don't relate these things back to him, he's logical enough to connect the dots.  But I've noticed subtle changes in him.  He's trying to consider emotional responses, his choice of words don't sound as harsh and he's thinking about how environment may affect our children.  He's also less pushy.  Before, if he thought something should be done one way, then your HAD to do things that way.  He has greatly relaxed about that and has seen some brilliant solutions come from our kids, which makes him so happy.

I've also changed.  I've figured out that we will never have a "normal" relationship that my friends talk about.  He will never have a single romantic bone in his body.  Just because he doesn't tell me that he loves me, or give me a complement without being prompted, doesn't mean he doesn't love me, or think I did a good job on something.  He will get lost in his thoughts while I'm telling him things. He will find my crime drama shows predictable, and boring.  He also needs space with only his chosen stimulation every day, give it to him and he will interact when he's ready.  He is easily bored with traditional family activities, so I have to plan more adrenalin filled items.

All marriages have challenges.  Being married to anyone on the spectrum (even undiagnosed) presents an all of those and more. But through it all, Jeremy is still the same person I married.  I am more relaxed which helps him to be as well.  When I look at him, I see the man that I want to spend the rest of my life with.

I hope and pray that when C-note finds a woman to marry, that she will understand that he will never fit in her mold. He won't understand how much it hurts to hear that he's doesn't want to listen about something that means the world to her because it doesn't hold his interest.  This doesn't mean he doesn't care, he just doesn't understand why his actions upset her.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Just when you think things are OK

C-note is in Cub scouts.  It's his first year and he loves it.  He's a Tiger cub, where it all begins.

October is the month that most scouts are in Health and Safety.  We love the Go See It sections so we organized it this time.  For our safety section, we had to go to a Fire or Police department.  We chose the Fire Station.  C-note has been to one before and enjoyed the experience.  This time, not so much.

I'm thankful that I was able to devote my time to C-note as his younger 2 siblings were home with my hubby, Jeremy.  C-note was a clinging vine the whole time.  I had to urge him forward just to stay with the group.  Usually, when there's something new to learn, he will be in the front of the group and asking all sorts of questions.  I encouraged him to join his friends, but when he would reach the edge of the group he would come right back to me and wrap my arms around him.

I learned long ago, that you never try to push a child into something they're uncomfortable with.  That was often done to me as a child and I still resent those times.  It never made me like it, it did the exact opposite.  So that is one thing I will never do to my children and will not allow to have done to my children.

At one point of our tour, they had a Rookie gear up completely.  While all of the kids found it fascinating, C-note was terrified.  He hid.  We stayed in the back and I let him hide.  Another fireman was close by and let C-note take the time to go to the restroom.  On the way back I asked the man to talk with C-note and ease his fear.  He understands mentally that they are there to help, but he can't control the fear of seeing them.  At the end, because he knew what they looked like when they were in their gear, he wouldn't go near them or look at them.  When asked what makes him afraid, he said it's the color of their uniform.  I think it was more that you can't see any of their skin.  But he tried to explain, which he could once upon a time.

It could have been that he was having an "off" day and was more sensitive to the unusual; or it could be that he maintains his fear of firemen and women in complete gear.  I hope not, because if he ever needs their help, I don't want him to run from them.  But, the last time I saw him so afraid was when he about clawed my husbands face off to get away from a man dressed up as Scooby Doo when he was 3yrs old.  We thought that he had gotten past this sort of thing, but apparently it still bothers him.  I don't care if he ever wants to shake hands or be hugged by a random person in a costume.  But I would like him to be able to appreciate the risks that these brave men and women take to keep us safe.  And maybe someday, he'll be able to shake the hand of one of them and tell them "thank you"

The boy who couldn't Pretend.

C-note is a curious boy.  I often tell him that he's really Sid the Science kid, because he wants to know everything about everything.  But of course he's rooted in reality and he laughs and asks if I can't even recognize my own kid, because he's obviously not anything but himself.

C-note is 7yrs old.  C-note has a very hard time pretending about anything.  Inoticed at a very young age that every time I would pretend to build a house with blocks or any pretend play with toys, C-note would become extremely upset.  He would knock down blocks, start to cry or even try to cover my mouth.  I believed that I simply hadn't found the correct thing to interest him yet.  After all, every child likes to pretend.  I'd worked in Church children's ministry's since my early teens. I "knew" what to expect.

When he was between 1 and 2 yrs old the aversion to pretend play because very apparent.  He LOVED to watch Go Diego Go.  I thought this would be a wonderful thing.  We would pretend to go on adventures and pretend to talk to the animals and rescue them.  So I told C-note the game we would play and I began to pretend that he was Diego and I was baby Jaguar.  Only C-note didn't start playing with me.  He threw himself on the floor in complete despair.  He kept crying his name over and over and saying he was NOT Diego.

Stunned, I sat down and held him close.  I tried to explain that I knew he wasn't Diego.  It took a long time to calm him down.   That moment drove home for me that my little boy was different.  Up to that point I kept buying different toys, hoping that something about it would catch his interest, but always falling flat.  I would do pretend play myself, hoping that he would join in, to no avail.

To say I was disappointed would be an understatement.  I suffered 2 miscarriages and was told that I wouldn't be able to have any children at all.  He was a miracle.  But he didn't meet my expectations.  Off and on throughout the years, I still have tried to engage him in pretend play.  I know how important it is for development.

It wasn't until he started Kindergarten at 6 yrs old that he began to pretend.  He had been in preschool before that, but he didn't care.  Something finally clicked in his brain.  You can't imagine how happy I was.  He not only started to pretend, but he started to race around with the other boys in his class.

He is still firmly rooted in reality.  He would still rather read a book on facts than a story book.  But he is now trying to understand what other kids find so amazing about pretending.    I had to let go of my dreams of what my child would be, and accept the child I was given.  He is awkward with pretending, but it's ok.  He is an amazing boy with an amazing brain.

I'm glad I didn't get the child of my dreams.  I got something so much better.  I got my C-note.  He makes my heart sing.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Isolation as a Mom

Being a mom can be a very isolating experience.  All moms are busy whether they work or not.  Moms who work go to their job every day and as soon as they get off they have to care for their family.  Moms who stay home deal with family issues all day long, take care of the house and are constantly on the go as well.  I don't think that we really mean to isolate ourselves; it just happens.

When you're a mom of a child who is 'different', in my experience, you isolate yourself even more.  It has nothing to do with being embarrassed or ashamed of your child.  It can be because you can be unsure how your child will react in a situation, or they can not tolerate a certain thing for long.  For me those were issues, as well as the sheer effort it takes to get out of the house.

To get out of the house, we have to start preparing at least an hour before.  C-note has gotten to the point where he can dress himself, but at times pant snaps are tricky.  Today, they were on completely backwards and he refused to fix it.

Bumblebee has to have clothes ready for him and reminded to put each article on.  He's always allowed to try himself, but we always have to turn around some garment.  Underwear is always backwards.  But at least he's getting real clothes on, there is a battle every time we leave the house because he doesn't want to get out of the Bumblebee transformer costume.  For him, shoes are always a 20 minute ordeal, I've timed it and so I know how to prepare for an outing.  And they aren't going to stay on very long even after we leave the house.

Lil' Bit is the easiest even though she is a prima donna.  She knows what she wants to wear all the way down to her socks and shoes.  Yes, she's 2.5 yrs old but she knows her own mind.  I choose my battles, though if I say she's going to wear the dress to church not pants, then she will listen...eventually.

These things can really wear a person out.  I'm exhausted all of the time and my nerves are constantly frayed.  Playdates don't happen.  Most people, unless they also have a child that also have neurological issues don't understand.  They will stop asking you over, I don't think it's on purpose, but since they don't understand your child.  People avoid things they can't understand.  Other people who have kids that are special like yours find it just as difficult to leave the house and would rather you visit them.

My boys need controlled environments, which isn't always possible.  We frequently stay home for my sanity.  Yet, I find myself depressed because I don't have any friends that I can call and hang out with.  My children didn't create this isolation though.  I did.

Things get a little easier every 6 months or so and maybe I will find another mom who is willing to accept that we are a different kind of family.  My kids are with me 24/7 because it helps them thrive is a world that's overwhelming to them.  I don't want to hear how 'not normal' my boys are; I already know.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Chewable Necklace Review

C-note likes to chew and put things in his mouth.  He has been known to lick door handles, chew remote controls and stair railings, just to name a few.  For infants and toddlers this behavior is expected and accepted; but it's not acceptable for a 7yr old boy.  So, what could I do?

I started reading up on the issue and found that there are things called Chew Tubes.  They looked great.  The problem was that he would have to carry them around and he would forget where he put it.  My thought was that he would need something that would hang on his neck.  I entered the search of "chewable necklace" on and came up with 485 results.  There are so many options.  Unfortunately, most of them look too "girlie" for C-note.

We started out with this one:  Star Chewable Necklace

I was great.  C-note loved it and would ask for it, until one day a child a kindergarten made a negative comment.  I don't know what was said, he was unable to verbalize the interaction.  But, that was it, and he never wanted to wear it again.  We did have him wear it at home, which he didn't like, so ended up giving it to the puppy.  FYI, a puppy can destroy this necklace in less than 5 minutes.

The chewing didn't improve, so, this time I let him pick out his own.  This was his choice:  Organic Phoenix Chewable Necklace.

There are times that I have to remind him to put it on, but this practically lives in his mouth.  After 2 months of use, it still looks new.  The nylon cord is very long, but can be shortened to whatever size is needed.  It would be nice if the breakaway clasp were more sturdy, but, for the price, it can't be beat.  Since it is a ring, it is easy to bend and flex.  This has caused me concern at times because C-note chews this in all directions, but there are no cracks.

This necklace has been great for my moderate chewer and I recently ordered an identical backup.   C-note's Occupational Therapist also loves this product and is also recommending these to her other patients.

Cryptic Symptoms

Lil' bit has had a lot of bladder problems this year.  Every time, it looked like another UTI had surfaced and I would flush her system with cranberry juice and a ton of fluids in general. She also has extremely sensitive skin so I also leave off anything touching her skin 'down there' as much as possible.

She recently got another infection.  This time, nothing was working.  So, off to the doctor we went.  Antibiotics were ordered, but they didn't work.  Thankfully, I have a pediatrician who doesn't believe that a prescription is the only answer and ordered allergy testing.    The testing showed that she very allergic to whey protein.   She also has allergies to casein (another milk protein), eggs and wheat.

These allergies cause her bladder to spasm after they are digested and mimics a urinary tract infection.  Lil' Bit has now been off of all milk proteins for a week now.  She hasn't had any more potty accidents and she's woken up dry 2 nights this last week, but is still complaining that her bottom hurts.

Our next step is to eliminate wheat.  It's amazing how much she has improved, and while it may be difficult to cut out wheat, I know that it will all be worth it.

Friday, October 10, 2014

When to Say No

Today's society says that your child needs to be involved in as many things as possible to succeed in life.  I live in the 4th largest city in the US, Houston, and this is more apparent here than many other places in the South.  It's a constant competition to say that "my child can do this" or "my child is involved in that".

Having a child with Asperger's, or High Functioning Autism, make this competition extremely difficult.  Group activities, like sports, leave these children in sensory overload and feeling defeated.  Understand, that the feelings of defeat don't come from a lack of trying.  Most children with Asperger's also have trouble with spacial orientation, and simply don't perform at sports as many of their peers.  There are always exceptions, but this has certainly held true with my Aspergers son.

Birthday parties are also a challenge.  Sensory overload abounds.  There are noisy children, having fun all around them.  There's competitive games, that they don't have muscle coordination to play well.  And sugar, lots and lots of sugar.  This means that parties can be a recipe for disaster.

Group lessons can also be difficult.  When class sizes get too large, an Asperger's child can go into meltdown, or begin to exhibit ADHD like behavior.  When there is so much activity around them, they don't know where to look and what to do with their body.

There are many activities that can send your child into overload and it's important to understand which one will be too much for them.  Pushing a child into a situation that's uncomfortable for them will only lead to disaster.  Even the best behaved Asperger's child will eventually act out.  This behavior is not intentional, simply a way for them to release their feelings.

Learning when to say no is something that I'm learning.  When I'm asked to attend something with my child, or we're considering a new activity, there are a few questions that I always ask myself:

1 - Will the venue be crowded?
2 - Can I remove my child/children quickly if it becomes too much?
3 - Will it be noisy?
4 - Will my child be forced into physical contact with others
5 - Do the chances of success outweigh the risk of meltdown?
6 - How busy have we been the rest of the week?

We rarely go to birthday parties, they are usually too much stimulation for C-note.  Sports also leave him feeling less than what he really is.  We have found a local swim team that he can compete, but he is only trying to beat himself and no other person.  We are trying to get down to 1 activity a day, with at least 1 day a week that nothing is scheduled.  If we want to see friends, we invite them to our house, it's comforting to my son.  Yes, they need a change of scenery at times, but too often, and it just causes stress.

It's ok to say no to extra activities.  It's ok not to go to someone's BBQ.  Saying no doesn't make you a bad parent, it makes you a sensitive parent.  Not going out doesn't make you anti-social, or overprotective;  It means that you care about your child's feelings more than another persons.

If those who invited you are true friends, they will understand, that sometimes, it's better to meet at your house if they want to see you.  There will be times that you can't avoid an overloading situation, but simply prepare as best as you can.  For my C-note, we have a tablet, with games set at his level, that he can retreat into it and block out everything around him.

Monday, October 6, 2014

No cupcakes for you!

C-note has High Functioning Autism.  So, he tends to be a little more random than most children.  I usually have some idea where his thoughts come from, but there are times that the randomness confuses even me.

Today, we had one of those confusing times.  We had just left the house to run errands when C-note announces that after all of my kids are married that I won't have to make cupcakes anymore.  Sonce I don't make cupcakes, I was sincerely confused.  Upon further questioning, it was determined that I wouldn't have anyone in the house to make birthday cupcakes for.  Let me reiterate, I DO NOT make cupcakes!  I have learned that any cakes or cupcakes that I attempt are the worst cake wrecks you have ever seen.  I asked if he would ever visit me, we could have cupcakes then.  He agreed and said his future wife would probably like it if I would make cupcakes for their baby so they could go out on a date.  HE'S SEVEN YEARS OLD!!  I keep telling him that he has many years to worry about getting a wife and having babies, but he is determined to grow up.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The day Bumblebee decided to play Superman

My house is a disaster right now.  Three days ago I split my boys rooms and let the oldest have the guest room.  This didn't go slowly, like I had planned in my head.  I started to clean out the guest room and was instantly asked what I was doing by C-note.  He has to know everything about everything and any change in his world must be labeled and assimilated.  I had to tell him; that of course accelerated my plans because it was now something that he wanted done months ago.  So, all of the stuff (junk) that was in the guest room, including decor, is now piled up in my room awaiting sorting and ejection from the house.

To add to my madness I decided that I couldn't stand the layout of my living room any longer.  (Oh, at times I get something in my head that I can't move past.  It will drive me crazy until something is done about it.  Hey, my boys had to get it from somewhere.)  When I redecorate, I simply start moving things until they make me happy.

I was in the middle of living room chaos when lunch time hit.  In my house that means all activity must cease and desist until little mouths are fed.  So off I went.  I finally able to sit down to eat after the boys had finished and ran off to play.  The favorite location is C-notes new room, it was off limits before, so it is currently the most amazing room EVER.

There is a very tall bookshelf in that room and Bumblebee insists on climbing everything right now.  Today, the bookshelf was the target.  Bumblebee made it up and took a flying leap off the top of the bookshelf.  This, unfortunately, unbalanced the bookshelf and made the whole thing topple...right on top of C-note, who was reading a book on the floor.

So, here I was happily eating my lunch and chatting with Lil' Bit, when I here this crash that sounded like the floor was caving in, followed a split second later by earsplitting screams.  When I reached the room, I saw C-note trying to get himself out from under the shelf as Bumblebee looked on in horror.

The large gap is where I pulled out one of the shelves.  As I lifted C-note out of the shelf, I saw several small cuts from the top of his eyebrows to the tip of his nose.  Long ago I worked for an ENT who would get so mad at parents when they didn't bring their child in immediately for a facial injury.  This is because a nose must be set the same day as the injury, or the nose has to be rebroken, it heals that fast.  So he was going to the

Bless my neighbor, I saw her coming home and I completely hijacked her.  I told her briefly what happened and asked if she would keep the two littles for me; the angel agreed and off we went.  

C-note was calm by the time we got to the ER and ended up having the greatest time ever.  They had him get into superhero poses so they could take xrays. They told him how brave he was and made jokes with him.  They made his day by explaining the xrays to him.  He was given the remote for the tv in his room which only had kids channels and he had mom all to himself.

After a couple of hours we were assured that there were no internal injuries and no broken bones.  C-note was given a lollipop and a sticker and I was given a bill. 

My husband did come home while I was still at the ER to take care of the littles.  Bumblebee has hopefully learned a lesson about climbing furniture (though I doubt it).  I got to witness C-note's fascination on learning about xrays and ct scans. And hopefully, the next time my neighbor comes over, my house won't be in such a state of transition.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Paint Brush Pens -Review

A while ago I found these amazing things: Crayola Washable Paint Pens.  C-Note hates to color so painting is not going to happen without wailing and gnashing of teeth.  These little babies could be the answer to prayers!  

I ended up losing the things for a very long time.  So long in fact that I forgot I bought them and when I found them at the store again, I marveled at what a wonderful invention they were and promptly bought another pack.  After bringing them home they again went into a drawer for later use.  Are you beginning to see a pattern here?  

A couple of days ago my husband finally agreed that we could in fact split the boys rooms and let C-note take over the guest room.  I use the term 'guest room' very loosely.  It has a bed and a whole lot of junk that I've accumulated for crafts, that have never been completed.  I start out with the best of intentions, but it is a ton of work to follow through with all of my ideas.

Yesterday, I decided that I had better start The Purge if I was ever going to get them separated and bed times more relaxed.  I found all sorts of amazing treasures in that room!  I have forgotten what most of these fun things were bought for in the past, but who cares, they're getting a new purpose now.

Among my treasures I rediscovered the paint pens and some small canvas things.  Well, the guest room was partially decorated, but not in a style that a 7yr old boy would appreciate.  I found the great idea of using silhouettes for kids art and since I had all of the supplies, I went to work.

I made stencils from ordinary printer paper and internet images.  The tips of the pens are shaped like a paint brush, but that's about were the similarity ends.  The tips are marker type material and in fact they 'paint' like markers too.  They do blend like paint would and they are easy to use.  The paint did not bleed through the printer paper as one would expect. 

Here's a sample of my work:

These babies aren't made for permanent art though.  They are washable and will wash off canvas if they get wet.   All my little ones used them on drawing paper and it was the longest painting session we've ever had.  They were all happy with their work and for me, that made the pens worth the expense.

Really are no drip
no visible brush strokes
No mess
Easy cleanup
Blends like real paint
No bleeding, paint stays where you put it
Never triggered sensory avoidance

Not for permanent art
Blending on the paper also blends the color of your pen tip
Feels like a marker
a little pricey

Best Use:
Kids art on paper, no canvas or anything you want to keep long term.

Taking a Step Back

Bumblebee is a very slow learner.  He does eventually figure things out, but it takes a lot of time.  He also has no concept of personal space or belongings.  An issue that has been going on for a long time is with food.

Bumblebee looks frail.  He's very bony and petite.  He eats like a horse but is always hungry and simply does not gain weight.  There isn't anything wrong with him though, this is a family trait and yes, we have verified with testing.

Lil' Bit also likes to eat but she is a lot slower.  Bumblebee will finish his meal and then go over to Lil' Bit and start to take food off her plate.  This is after he has finished a plate that would put me in a food coma.  Lil' Bit is justifiably upset and whacks him on the arm.  Once upon a time, I would have corrected this.

After months of this and the same behavior being repeated daily, I am stepping back.  I have been punishing one for defending her own food and the other simply doesn't care what you punish him with.  What does that teach them?

I am now allowing Lil' Bit to exercise her right to defend not only her food, but whatever she is currently playing with as well.  Bumblebee is learning that simply because you want something, does not give you the right to take it; and if you try, there are consequences.  I prefer that they learn these lessons in a controlled environment than where they could seriously get hurt.

Bumblebee has taken things from others in public and has been bruised and knocked down for this.  The other child uses excessive force and Bumblebee doesn't understand and he never fights back.  This causes him pain mentally and physically.  The mental pain is from his feelings of being wronged.

I don't like to see this behavior in any of my children, but looking at the long term, my daughter needs to know that she can defend her rights, and my son needs to learn that you can't simply take what you want.  The world is a hard place, but it's my responsibility to ensure that they can turn into happy and productive adults.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Finger Sucking Saga

My daughter has a mouth full of teeth.  She is an overachiever by growing her 3yr old molars just after she turned 2yrs.  At the last dental cleaning the kids dentist told me that I needed to start breaking her of sucking on her fingers, it's changing the shape of her palette.  It is pretty bad, her fingers have callouses.  I hadn't really thought about it before, and it looks like she's giving the "I love you" sign to everyone, but apparently, that's not good.

Lil' bit loves being a princess, so I told her that princesses don't suck their fingers.  No go.  Since they don't suck their fingers she won't be a princess.  I've pulled her fingers out of her mouth. Another no go.  Now she 'hides' it but covering the act with her other hand.  Hmm, NAILPOLISH!   That would be my answer.  What better thing for a girly-girl than to wear polish, she would never risk ruining it, right? Wrong.  It did last until she got sleepy, so that was an improvement.

What was I doing wrong?  We'd been working on this to no avail.  I did what any mom fearing thousands of dollars in orthodontics bills would do...I called the dentist.  They recommended putting socks on her hands and tying them on with pretty ribbons, special thumb sucking polishes, or if we wanted to go extreme - there are silicone finger covers you can order from Like this, Finger guard. Ok, now I had a some sort of direction to take.

I have cute little pink gloves that are just Lil' Bit's size.  Now this was her version of heaven!  They are pink, and she can wear them!!!  I was very proud of myself at this point.  She loved her gloves, she wanted to wear them.  But, when she wanted to suck on her fingers, off went the gloves.  I told her that she couldn't have them if she kept sucking on her fingers.  She decided that the gloves weren't that pretty after all.

Next, we moved on to Tabasco sauce.  This was sure to work.  I caught her sucking on her fingers, took her to the kitchen and explained that she was going to get sauce on her fingers because she was being 'yucky'.  She put the Tabasco coated fingers in her mouth, looked at her fingers and promptly sucked it all off and asked for more sauce.  After I was able to lift my jaw back into place I told her no, that she couldn't just drink her 'sauce'.

Fine, I bought some of this stuff, Mavala Stop.  It has extremely good reviews.  I got it.  I read the instructions saying that it would last for 2 days.  Yippee!  At first Lil Bit was unsure about it.  I thought that we had beat this.  One less thing that I would have to worry about.  But, Lil Bit is able to suck all of that stuff of in about 20 minutes flat.

I called the dentist back.  Now in my head, is that my daughter is going to have teeth that stick out everywhere, her fingers will remain calloused and her nails will curve the wrong way for the rest of her life!

I called the dentist again. I hear, Wow, she is a very tough case.  Keep trying the best you can, but as long as we get her over it before she's 5 yrs old, it shouldn't be too bad later.  This is where I want to scream.  Several months of trying to break this habit, and now Lil' Bit has dug in her heels because I pushed so hard.

Now, when I see her sucking on her fingers, I remind her that it's very yucky but I'm not stressing so much.  She will eventually stop.  I just pray that it's before any long term damage is caused.

Where did my stuff go?!

At home, if I can't locate a particular item, I rarely blame one of the kids.  Even the 2yr old is generally ruled out of swiping items.  You see, my husband likes to hold things when he talks.  He knows this about himself, which is good.  He doesn't carry something for himself, so he picks up anything that happens to be in his reach as he's talking, which is bad.

I've learned that if an item goes missing, currently it's my main set of keys, I just go and search his "spaces" for said item.   To ask where things are is an exercise in futility, he doesn't remember picking them up, much less where he left it.  He has adamantly denied moving items which have later been found on his desk.  People have also learned at his work place that he takes things and they simply go to his office for their return.  One day he accumulated 6 staplers on his desk with no idea who they belonged to.  I think he's better than the lost and found desk, of course, he is the reason that the item is lost in the first place.

Currently my keys are lost.  I have turned my house upside down for them.  We are trying to sell a house right now and some of the keys to it are on that ring.  I also can't check my mail box because it's keyed, but hubby can so it's his job now.  This loss could cost us $200 minimum.  The big cost is from the remote control vehicle key.  I have asked what happened to them but he denies ever having them.  I would really like to know how he was able to drive my van to work.....Since that day they have been completely AWOL.  It's been almost a month now and I keep praying that they'll turn up, but I fear they are gone for good.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

My Family is Different, So What.

I have been asked many times recently if it upsets or bothers me that C-note has High Functioning Autism and/or Sensory Processing Disorder.  I know that some moms may feel this way, but I never have.  Have I been upset by some of the behavior it causes?  Yes, but that's because I couldn't understand WHY he was doing the things he does.  I actually find having a diagnosis was very helpful.

Why do I feel this way?  Society says you can't be different.  But that can't be further from the truth.  As I tell my kids, if we were all the same in our thoughts and deeds then nothing would ever change.  We would never see any reason to improve ourselves, what would be the point?  We would not have diverse inventions, because we would only need one thing to suit all needs.  And lets face it, life would be extremely boring.

Getting a diagnosis didn't change my son.  He is still the same child that he was even the day before.  The difference is that I know can understand him better, and help him understand himself.  Think about that for a minute....Do you really understand what that means?  He is just the way he needs to be and he will look at things in ways a 'normal' person wouldn't.  He asks questions that often leave me stumped due to their complexity and depth.  He will learn to problem solve to a much greater extent than many of his peers because he has to learn ways of adapting to the world around him.

Bumblebee is another wonder.  We're still trying to figure him out.  While C-note will not deviate from a given rule, Bumblebee will reinterpret the rules to suit him.  He is what many would call sly.  He will follow the rules  but bend them in a way that isn't really breaking them.  When you point this out, he gives his best baby blue eye smile.  His smile can melt the coldest of hearts and he has a personality to match.  The world is his oyster.  If something confuses him, he just changes the subject and ignores the trouble.  This makes him a very happy person, until he can't avoid the problem anymore.  When he's run out of evasion tactics Bumblebee panics and melts.  We're working on this, but he's 4.5yrs old.  He'll get there.

To ask me if it bothers me that my children are different, or not like their peers is crazy and a bit offensive.  I wonder if it bothers them that their kids were born boys or girls?  It's the same thing. They are all unique and special.  We all have quirks, some people simply have more quirks than others.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Ask a Simple Question....

I love my kids with all my heart.  Yes, they do make me crazy at times, but I wouldn't trade them for the world. I asked C-note if I could keep him forever; he responded with a solemn "no".  When I asked him why, he told me that one day I would die before him and that I would leave him alone here on Earth.  Ah, I really wish he would tell me what he thinks about things.

Pokemon Party

My oldest recently turned 7yrs old.  Before his birthday, I asked him what theme he wanted.  He is obsessed with Pokemon, so that's what he asked for.  I thought, since Pokemon has been around for years that this should be easy, right? WRONG!

Pokemon stuff is still around, but it's influence is dwindling so items are getting harder to find.  Harder to find = more expensive.  So I did what any mom would do in the face of promising her child the party of his dreams.  I made as much as I could and scoured the internet.  Party City and Toys R Us are the only local stores that had ANYTHING.

I started 2 months early, and boy am I glad!  I made these pokeballs for a pokeball toss.  Amazon was a great resource for prizes and a Pin the Scalchop on Oshowat.

Collected pictures of all the kids coming to the party and made each one a personalized pokemon card thanks to this web site: Make your own pokemon cards  I also made made the bags (so easy).

I was extremely pleased with the end result.

I also found an amazing artist who is willing to email fans his art for free when you contact him. I had his art printed on a piece of tin and displayed it behind the cake.  Josh is an amazing artist and you can contact him through this link Pokemon Poster

It was a lot of prepatory work, but my son had a great birthday.  

Experiences in Sensory Processing Disorder

Every child is different.  Every child will react differently in any situation.  C-note has sensory processing disorder.  Does this mean that there is something 'wrong' with him? no.  It simply means that his brain processes sensations differently than most people.  In his case, everything is bigger, louder and more intense.  We always knew that something was unusual in him, even as an infant, he couldn't tolerate being touched and we had to hold him away from our bodies to calm him.  At 7yrs he still struggles with the loudness of the vacuum cleaner and has to be in a different room.

Eating is also a struggle.  C-note doesn't like starches, including rice, pasta, potatoes; gags on root vegetables; anything green; any rough textured fruit, like apples and pears; and he does not like sauces on is food.  So, basically, he likes very plain, and smooth food that has little to no color.  We avoided taking him out to restaurants until he was about 4.5yrs old because we never knew when it would end up with screaming, crying  or even throwing up on the tables.

Over time, and a lot of trial and error, we have found that there are things that C-note simply can not handle, and we don't push those things on him.  There are things though, that he does not have as great of an aversion, so we slowly integrate them.  Just earlier this year he would melt over a carrot on his plate, now he is able to eat one at meal time.  He also changed his mind about Ranch dressing, which is now the only way to get him to eat a veggie.

C-note went to a private kindergarten.  He learned a terrific amount of information, but he was constantly in sensory overload.  When a child with SPD is in overload they can act out or act erratically.  This is what C-note did.  His teacher insisted that he had ADHD because he couldn't stop fidgeting, he would randomly walk out of the room, he would get loud and produce large uncontrolled motions.  I would get condemning letters home weekly.  I met or spoke with the teacher several times a week about helping him, but was only met with resistance.  Because his overload looks like ADHD, then in her mind, he should be able to control himself.

C-note homeschools now and we introduce new experiences and tastes slowly.  He has good days and bad days; but so does everyone else.  He is also learning to recognize and express his feeling about things better.  He is also getting better about removing himself from a stressor.

The reason for the Insanity

My life is always in complete chaos.  I'll start with my kids.
My oldest son has High Functioning Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).  He sees the world in black and white, there is no middle ground.  The SPD makes things even more rigid for him and is a whole topic on it's own.  His memory astounds me and will talk about things that happened when he was 2 yrs old.  He thinks math is fun and was able to start algebra at 6 yrs old.  I call him C-note because, he marches to music that is all his own and it is a very beautiful song.

My middle son, also marches to the bet of his own drum.  Currently he lives as Bumblebee, the Transformer.  When he is in costume, which is ALL the time, he will not answer to his real name.  He has major trouble sleeping, and learning new things.  He also has ADHD, and as I am typing is showing me all of the flips and moves that Bumblebee can do off of the couch; yes, he talks about himself in the 3rd person.

My youngest, Lil' Bit, is currently 2.5yrs old going on 20yrs.  She really tries to rule things and I'm constantly reminding her that while she may be the princess, I am the Queen.  She tells the boys what to do and they listen!  She's loves bows in her hair and if it's pink then it MUST be hers.  But, if you want to wrestle, count her in, because there's no way that she's not as strong as the boys.

My husband is undiagnosed Aspergers, and is just like the character Sheldon on the Big Bang Theory.  Never play monopoly with him, because he likes to write contracts and it all gets very complicated.  

The dog, Athena, is a black blab/blue heeler mix.  She has seperation anxiety is terrified of loud noises.  She is also never allowed outside while anyone is on the trampoline because she will either go underneath and nip at feet, or go on top and tackle the jumpers.  She does make me smile though and even though she's 43lbs. thinks that she's a lap dog.

I homeschool my boys because the schools simply aren't able to handle their individualism.  We tried private school, it didn't go well.  I am also a co-director of children's ministries at my church.  And we are also involved in several other activities throughout the week.  Life is complicated and chaotic.  I end most days completely exhausted but unable to sleep because I'm thinking about the next day.