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Friday, April 27, 2012

A Different Kind of Meltdown

I should have guessed that having Game Day and an assembly at school instead of the normal routine would throw off Aidan's whole day. He was apparently really good all day, but then at the end of the day ran in the hall and when a teacher stopped him and told him to come back and walk he refused to look at her or talk to her. He was cranky in the car about buckling up. Then when he got home I asked him to feed the dogs before he got snack. With lots of griping (as per usual) he got them food, got Muffin the old dog the WRONG Food even though he knows that she ALWAYS eats the same food as Harley the young dog, and then because of his attitude he picked up when corrected for getting the wrong food, he slammed Harley's bowl on the floor and made all the food fly out. I fussed at him and told him to clean it up. At this point the meltdown began.

Normally Aidan's meltdowns involve him lashing out at the environment around him, especially me or Daddy or whomever else is around. Today it was different. He screamed repeatedly that he wanted to kill himself and starting punching himself HARD in the head. I had to hold his hands and try to calm him down for about 15 minutes before he stopped trying to hurt himself. He cried for a while after that, and screamed he hated me several times, but he seems mostly okay now. Well, except that he's still mad at me and wants to pack up his bags and Harley and live in the middle of nowhere and doesn't care if he starves to death as long as he's away from me.... When did I get a teenager?

Anyways, I'm obviously really concerned about the self-harm during the meltdown today. Every so often he will get frustrated and hit himself, although rarely in meltdown mode. Today was so different and I just didn't know how to react. What should I do? He thankfully has a therapy appointment next week.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Bullying? Maybe, maybe not...

So I think there may have been some bullying at school today - I've emailed the teacher and she's going to talk to everyone involved. Here's what I know: I know Aidan got sent to the principal's office today for throwing mulch at TJ. The reason I'm writing is because of something he said happened in PE today that other students prevented him from telling the coach.

Aidan says that: Boy 1, while they were playing football, was "not playing fair" and when Aidan said something to him about it, Boy 1 "flipped" him onto the ground (he says this happened twice). When Boy 2 tried to defend Aidan from Boy 1 hurting him again, Boy 2 got pushed down. Aidan was going to tell coach, who wasn't available, then Boy 1 got him to the ground again and when Aidan was trying to get up, Boy 1 held him down, and Boy 3 "slid past" Aidan and Boy 2 kicked Boy 3 in the neck. Aidan left the situation at this point which ended the whole thing.

This is what Aidan told me, and granted he can be hard to understand, and I'm not sure if this all happened today or if this was split up over different times, or how much was exaggerated. And honestly, Aidan could have left out any hitting, pushing, etc that he did. Aidan didn't want to tell the teacher because he was afraid that he would get in trouble with the boys for telling (or maybe because he thought he would also get in trouble with the teacher?).

What's your take?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Cub Scouts

So we started Aidan in Cub Scouts this year. We are a long line of Scouts in my family, including my Grandpa and my Dad. The den really seems to adapt to Aidan's oddities, although he's still trying to find his place in the group, and they sometimes bounce him around so they can sit next to their more familiar friends, but that's just little boys I suppose (the whines of "he took my chair..." get old regardless of the boy).  Aidan has already accomplished his Bobcat badge, is working hard on his Wolf badge, has earned the physical fitness and science belt loops and bridged with his Den last night over to Bear Cub.

Apparently Aidan LOVES Cub Scouts. Other than talking about Storm Chasing I've never really heard him plan for the future before (and this included Storm Chasing too). He told me on the way home that when he grows up he wants to have 2 sons and he will be a Scout leader in between storm chasing, and that he wants to give his son his wolf neckerchief and hat one day.

This summer they'll have camp outs and summer camp and it will be interesting to see him react to all of those. He's also having to learn to be less bossy, less competitive, and to work as a team and cooperate, all of which are skills he desperately needs to learn. So far I'm really glad we've put him into Scouts, especially after our conversation about the distant future today.

Monday, April 16, 2012

My Support Group - Thank You

People Who Make Raising a Child with Autism Easier on Me

  • My husband – When I met my husband, Aidan hadn't been diagnosed yet. He was a crazy child who wasn't potty trained, wasn't verbal, had meltdowns, and left me ragged and slightly insane. I'm not sure why or how he managed to stick around through Aidan's severe autism at the time and my untreated bipolar disorder, but somehow it happened. He stuck around through the poop-tastrophes and violent screaming fits, and supported me as I finally took Aidan to Vanderbilt to find out if our worries that he had autism were true. When the diagnosis was PDD-NOS (or high-functioning autism/atypical autism, as Dr. Warren explained it to us), Jeremy took it in stride, supporting me, helping me find the right place and treatment for Aidan in the aftermath of the diagnosis. He eventually allowed my son and I to move into his house with him, in spite of Aidan's penchant for destruction. When I decided that it would be best for Aidan if I quit my job so I could spend more time with him after school, Jeremy supported that decision and never looked back (or maybe he did, but he never really said anything). He's been beat up, kicked, scratched, screamed at, and even spent 2 sleepless nights at the hospital with Aidan and I when Aidan busted his head. Last November we were married. Jeremy still amazes me at how willing he is to be Aidan's daddy and how much he loves the kid and actually takes the time and effort to help Aidan grow and blossom into the best he can be. I know lots of autism moms who are nowhere near as lucky when it comes to their spouses. I'm glad I'm not one of them.

  • My parents – I'm one of those people who grew up with two sets of parents thanks to divorce. It was complicated and not always easy, but in the long run it was a great thing for Aidan because he gets more grandparents. My mom and stepdad are amazing with Aidan, keep him when they can, and are super supportive. Mom and Daddy went with me to Vanderbilt when we had Aidan diagnosed, and Mom has come with me to IEP meetings, doctor appointments, and who knows what else. My Dad and stepmom, Holly, come down as often as they can to spend time with Aidan – Dad even came down for Aidan's first Cub Scout Blue and Gold Banquet to see him get his Bobcat badge! None of them have ever questioned the choices I make for my son; they share new autism studies I might not have seen; they treat Aidan like he's just a normal little boy but accommodate his often frustrating needs without so much as a blink of an eye.

  • Aidan's autism unit teacher – Annie is amazing. Seriously. She took a kid who spent more days in the principal's office than in the actual classroom, and taught him how to be a student, how to learn in spite of his limitations, how to interact with his peers. Now he's able to spend all day in a mainstream classroom with no aid! It's so helpful to have a teacher who is in constant contact with me, and dreams just as big as I do for my child. With all the horror stories of people who've had to go into battle with their child's teachers at each IEP meeting, I'm grateful that we've only once had to do that.

  • Aidan's babysitter – We don't always get along. She may not always agree with how I handle Aidan's issues. But when it comes down to, Wendy has a gift. She was his babysitter for quite some time while I was still working, and even now keeps him pretty regularly. Somehow she just has a certain touch that makes Aidan want to act right and enjoy the world around him. She's not professionally trained to work with kids with special needs, but Aidan isn't the only special needs kid she's taken care of and she has a special touch with all of them. I'm grateful, even when she drives me crazy, that she loves my kid and helps him to be his best.

  • My best friend – How many times has this girl listened to me whine and moan and get all pissed off at whichever facet of the world has gone up against me or my son. She never judges, and she defends my choices and reminds me that I am, in fact, a good mom. Sometimes I need just that. And sometimes I just need to go get my nails done and get a drink – she's good for that too.

  • Aidan's pediatrician – Dr. Denny. He answers my questions honestly, doesn't look at me like I'm crazy when I ask questions about Aidan's weirdness, and has always made sure I was referred to the right place and people to get the right help for Aidan. He's the one who helped us get him speech therapy, the one who sent us up to Vanderbilt for Aidan's diagnosis. He makes sure he sets aside extra time for Aidan every time we have an appointment and asks lots of questions to make sure he understands everything about Aidan's progress or issues. He keeps himself educated and informed about the latest science and breakthroughs in the autism community. I hope everyone is as lucky to have a great doctor on their side.

  • The autism community – You guys are amazing!! I don't know what I'd do without my fellow autism moms and dads who commiserate, yell, cry, laugh, and question with me at all hours of the night and day. It's such a relief to be able to ask a question and have an answer from a dozen fellow parents. It inspires me to offer the same support and love to people in my position – because I know how it felt when Aidan first got diagnosed and I didn't know ANYONE who had a child on the spectrum and so I had no idea what was normal or what to do. I hope I can be the same support for all of you as you are for me.

Thank you to all of you. You're the best and you make my journey with Aidan through the world of autism so much easier and more fun. I hope all of you have as much support on your journeys as I do on mine.