Saturday, December 28, 2013

New Years goals.....moving the goals out and finishing them.

Well, the holidays are done. Clearning up and cleaning out....recycling the wrapping paper, tossing out the garbage. That is the easy part.
 
Reorganzing- Now that is tough. We had helped the boy reorganize his stuff from last semester. I had showed him how to set up the files and what we were saving. Papers he had got back from his english prof, math homework, his PE stuff, a textbook that is falling apart....all in the same place with spots for the coming semester and his new classes.
 
This is also the time of year that the cuter half and I start cleaning or reorganizing the "gift closet". This is a closet that we store our winter coats, put our gloves and tea light houses.....OK MY tea light houses, we have a percolator (a giant coffee maker; when I was a little girl I only knew how to make terrible coffee in the percolator scary huh?) and candles, pictures to frame and some other good stuff.  This year we organized enough and decided to purge some old coats and some jeans that the boy will never wear again....Thought for the day NEVER shop for your kid during their sports season they get skinny and are too lazy to work out more and gain weight so they can't wear the new clothes.....
 
We have several goals for the new year. Some we are finagling to complete before the end of this month. Others we are trying to plan for the new coming year.
Our first goal was to get the good garage sale items out of the house.
 
We have some great rummage sale finds. Seriously, before the economy tanked you could buy some really great stuff cheap. Now, not so much. It is harder to locate the good stuff at a decent price. Anyway we ended up with some great finds and once it comes in the stuff never ever leaves. Most items in our home have this habit of mating in our cabinets. We have NO CLUE where some of this stuff has come from and yet we have a pile of dishes we have never seen before located in our cabinets.....I seriously do not know where these sets of two plates have come from. Please, this is us, we don't do two plates; we want ten just in case someone comes over here for dinner. Although recently I think our max is five people for dinner. The plates I am thinking of were purchased and a rummage sale....I believe they were from Red Lobster when the store was redesigned. Actually the plates are fine but they are flipping huge. We don't need to eat that much, the cute one and I are chubbos anyway. We don't need more help.
 
All the more reason to get stuff out of the house. We have too much stuff...the home office needs major renovations....the home office is a dressing room, a library and a room of crap and junk. Actually it really isn't junk....it is stuff we are trying to sell for a friend when we can actually download pictures again on our computer. We have this great stuff and are slowly trying to sell for what we can and it is doing OK. However this one class the boy took the teacher assigned a gia-normous computer program for the class that basically took over our computer and all the extra space. SO we couldn't do much with anything until the week prior to Christmas. I am still trying to figure out if I should take the system off or just leave it until I know we don't need it anymore.
So there are boxes on boxes of stuff that isn't ours.
Oddly enough, we really need to reorganize in here and at one point it was fine but right now it is out of a scene in the program "Hoarders". And I get it, I totally understand where those people are coming from. How do you function? How do you let go? What of mine can I keep and what can I get rid of and damn it when will I be able to walk in here again without breaking my neck? Thankfully this is only in the office where it is a nightmare...the rest of the hosue is cluttered but not as dreadful as the office.

As I pointed out to the cuter half, I think the reason our stuff got out of had is that we are depressed. Dealing with the boy stuff, and his hanging and his being annoying has taken its toll on both the cuter half and I. I tell the boy "One kiss on the top of my head" and he refuses to listen. However, if I try to knee him on the balls he gets mad at me. What about my personal space? Stay the fuck away from me and stop being annoying.... (I never ever said that I was Mother of the Year- I am not and will never claim to be EVER). I admit I am not good with the boy hanging on me. I have never been good with feeling like a piece of meat....I just don't like it...creeps me out totally.

Yup, overwhelmed depressed mom here.  Which is why the cuter half and I decided it was time to loose the excess. Not just our excess fat, but the excess stuff of ours that we don't really need. So we are planning our escape from the extra.

We decided to start with candles. We have a bookshelf full and belive it or not actually burn ours and we have used up and got rid of lots but we never ever need to buy more tapers again ever. We have more that we will ever need. Deciding to go through the candles and get rid of what we don't need was hard. We went through all of them and then in reorganizing the dining room found more (!!!!). I bit the bullet and actually tossed 2 faded out candles and a broken one (but wait, take the broken one and cut the broken piece off and use it- that is called being a craft store junkie never toss anything you might need it).

I swear after years of the two of us working at a craft store we both have OCD; we never get rid of anything that can be used. For example, when the garbage hits our curb it is REALLY garbage. No one would ever garbage pick at our house. We use it until it really is trash. It is very rare that anyone would stop here and pick anything up....we just use it until there is no further use. So today, throwing stuff out was a real pain in the neck.....when I tossed those three candles I reminded the cuter one that we still had a long way to go but at least this was a reasonable start. We then had the floodgates opened and were able to reorganize more stuff and decide what goes where and why and we even found empty boxes for broken items that we needed to toss as the broken stuff was already tossed and we certainly didn't need the boxes any longer.

So for us, cleaning out is going to most likely be more than reorganizing or throwing away our junk. I think it is going to be us re-vamping our personal space, reviewing what we need to do and reordering the goals for the new year. We are skipping out on new years resolutions as we never keep them anyway. But if we can finish ONE GOAL for the year....then we are doing great.



"Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)"
Anthony works in the grocery store
Savin' his pennies for someday
Mama Leone left a note on the door,
She said,
"Sonny, move out to the country."
Oh but workin' too hard can give you
A heart attack
You oughta know by now
Who needs a house out in Hackensack?
Is that all you get for your money?

It seems such a waste of time
If that's what it's all about
Mama, if that's movin' up then I'm movin' out.

Sergeant O'Leary is walkin' the beat
At night he becomes a bartender
He works at Mister Cacciatore's down
On Sullivan Street
Across from the medical center
He's tradin' in his Chevy for a Cadillac
You oughta know by now
And if he can't drive
With a broken back
At least he can polish the fenders

And it seems such a waste of time
If that's what it's all about
Mama, if that's movin' up then I'm movin' out.

You should never argue with a crazy mind
You oughta know by now
You can pay Uncle Sam with the overtime
Is that all you get for your money?

And if that's what you have in mind
Yaeh that's what your all about,
Good luck movin up, cause I'm movin' out!

I'm movin' out...

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Aspergers and the holidays.

Once again that wonderful time of year is upon us.
Fun smells, pretty decorations, fancy cakes, parties and all the good stuff....even a nice glass of moscato for the adults and we are in for a good old fashioned Christmas.

Our holiday is a little more low key this year. The boy has a stick tree in his bedroom- partially decorated. Normally he has his full tree bursting with ornaments and no room for homework or papers....the reduced tree was at his request.

Thinking about the holidays made me think of any number of things. People I miss; my Daddy, my aunts, uncles, friends....it reminds me of how life goes on and we either miss out or appreciate what we have....I know I am happy and the cuter half and I have a really full busy life. The boy is doing better....life is what it is and we are doing our best to make the most of it.

There are a couple of links I am going to share here:

The Daily Mail is an excellent resource for articles about Autism and Aspergers this one about social anxiety and Susan Boyle is a really good read:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2524969/As-adults-diagnosed-Aspergers-like-Susan-Boyle-Struggle-small-talk-You-form-autism.html


Then there is a blog about Austim and the Holidays that you might enjoy; although I will tell you that change the child's name to "the boy" and you will have our experience almost to the exact time frame:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/emma-nicholson/autism-and-the-holidays_b_4448297.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false#sb=1324091b=facebook

After reading this blog post I started thinking about what gets at me through the holidays: I think that the most frustrating part of the holidays for me is what I call the "hanging". The boy hangs, all over me. I feel like I have a 180 lb blanket that drapes itself all over me and then dribbles in my hair. YUCKO. I know he doesn't mean to and I know he is excited about the holidays, seeing his favorite Aunt and being with his grandparents (both sides).....and no school and nuthin' to do....but OMG the shoulder and neck pain and the fact that I am not a person that appreciates being suffocated....or manhandled. Although my favorite chiropractor LOVES the holidays and the appointments I need to make so I can move my neck again- I gotta say there are other things I would rather be doing.

UGH. This is where I end up feeling and sounding like a harridan straight out  of hell. "Do not touch me if you want your ____ to remain intact."

Now for the letter- I had my own but I can't find it so I located this one. As the author recommended vary it to your needs:

The following is a letter (or email) that you can send to relatives and hosts of holiday gatherings who might need a crash course in what to expect from your Aspergers (or high functioning autism) child. Feel free to copy, paste and print this letter. You can use it as is, or edit it to make it more applicable to your unique situation:
Dear _____, (e.g., Aunt Sally)

I understand that we will be visiting each other for the holidays this year! Sometimes these visits can be very hard for me, but here is some information that might help our visit to be more successful.

As you probably know, I am challenged by a hidden disorder called Aspergers, or what some people refer to as High-Functioning Autism. Aspergers is a neuro-developmental disorder which sometimes makes it hard for me to understand the environment around me. I have barriers in my brain that you can’t see, but which may make it difficult for me to adapt to my surroundings.

Sometimes I may seem rude and abrupt, but it is only because I have to try to understand people, and at the same time make myself understood. Children with Aspergers have different abilities. For example, some may not speak much, and some write beautiful poetry. Others are whizzes in math (Albert Einstein had a form of autism), or may have difficulty making friends. We are all different and need various degrees of support.

Sometimes when I am touched unexpectedly, it might feel painful and make me want to run away. I get easily frustrated, too. Being around a lot of other people sometimes feels like standing next to a moving freight train – and trying to decide how and when to jump aboard. I may feel frightened and confused some of the time. This is why I like to have things the same as much as possible. Once I learn how things happen, I can stay pretty calm. But if something changes, then I may have to relearn the situation all over again!

When you talk to me, I may not be able to comprehend everything you are saying to me if there is a lot of noise and distraction around. I usually have to concentrate to hear and understand one thing at a time. You might think I am ignoring you, but I am not. Rather, I am hearing everything, but not knowing what is most important to respond to.

Holidays can be hard for me because there are so many different people, places, and things going on that are out of my ordinary environment. This may be fun and adventurous for most kids, but for me, it can be hard work and extremely stressful. I often have to get away from all the commotion to calm down. It would be great if you had a private place set up to where I could retreat.

If I can’t sit at the meal table, please don’t think that I am misbehaving or that my mom and dad have no control over me. Sitting in one place for very long is often very hard for me. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by all the smells, sounds, and people. When this happens, I just have to get up and move about. But please don’t stop eating on my account. Go on without me, and my mom or dad will handle the situation the best way they know how.

Eating in general can be hard for me. If you understand that Aspergers is a sensory processing disorder, it’s no wonder eating is a problem. Think of all the senses involved with eating (e.g., sight, smell, taste, touch) and all the complicated mechanics that are involved (e.g., chewing and swallowing). This is something that some kids with Aspergers have trouble with. I am not being picky. I just can’t eat certain foods because my sensory system is overly-sensitive. (Hope you understand.)

Also, please don’t be disappointed if my mother or father doesn’t dress me in fancy clothes. It’s because they know how much stiff and itchy clothes can drive me nuts! I have to feel comfortable in my clothes, or I will just be miserable. When I go to someone else’s house, I may appear bossy and irritable. In a way, I am being controlling, because that is how I try to fit into the world around me. I like things to be done in a way I am familiar with or else I might get confused and frustrated. It doesn’t mean you have to change the way you are doing things. Just please be patient with me and understanding of how I have to cope.

My parents have no control over how my Aspergers makes me feel inside. Kids with this disorder often have little things that they do to help themselves feel more comfortable. The professionals call it “self regulation,” or “stimming.” I might rock, hum, flick my fingers, or any number of different things. I am not trying to be disruptive or weird. Again, I am doing what I have to do for my brain to adapt to the environment. Sometimes I cannot stop myself from talking, singing, or doing an activity I enjoy. The professionals call this “perseverating,” which is similar to self-regulation or stimming. I do this only because I have found something to occupy myself that makes me feel comfortable. Perseverative behaviors are good to a certain degree because they help me calm down.

Holidays are filled with sights, sounds, and smells. The average home is turned into a busy, frantic, festive place. This may be fun for most kids, but it can be hard work for me to conform. If I fall apart or act-out in a way that you consider socially inappropriate, please remember that I don’t possess the neurological system that is required to follow some social rules. In any event, I will try very hard to be on my best behavior when we get together during the holidays.

Thanks for listening. I’m looking forward to seeing you.

________ (Aspergers child’s name)





 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Math and other stuff.....

I am stepping out into uncharted territory. This should be surprising to no one as I am especially good at taking my foot and inserting it firmly and directly into my mouth. Tonight's escapade is in part talking about the boy and school.

First off, I stink at math. My brother, who is UBER smarty pants used to be drafted to try and tutor me in math.....he wasn't so good at teaching me but he is super smart (physicist smart which is really sick but kind of cool). Anyhow I really stink at math; like so bad that I used to write my son's elementary teachers notes: "I have helped with the math homework and it is automatically wrong and please help him make the corrections because I don't know how to" bad.

Tonight was among the first really using the expensive calculator required for HS. This thing is almost as smart as our car and not quite as smart as our computer. Our kitty Garfy is pretty smart too, he can turn the printer on and off with a step of a paw.....that kind of inanimate object smart that makes parents cringe and kids smack their hands together so that they can learn a new gizmo to scare the old people half to death. This calculator is ridiculous and ironically now that he is in another math class because it does so much automatically he is not allowed to use it....he has to go back to the ones he had in middle school. The middle school ones were pretty blue color and did some neat stuff but nothing like this newer bad boy.

Thankfully, my cuter half is much better at math than I am. Being married to him makes me look smarter than I really am. He is so smart, and right now his smartness is getting him frustrated with the boy. The boy is changing his mind about a lot of things and apparently it is happening without our knowledge. First off is the likely change of major....it is gonna happen. The boy had a, well lets say "unsupportive" teacher in a cooking class. She basically changed his mind about anything to do with cooking and after meeting her I totally get where the boy is coming from. He says that she is a "screamer" and for an Aspie that automatically goes over really well (sarcasm here).

Anyway, in HS there were nights that the cuter half calls "teaching calculator" not teaching math. Put it this way, the cute one was so annoyed at those evenings he wanted ME to contact the math teacher and let her know that she needs to teach math and not calculator....SERIOUSLY? What in the world would I have said???? I like this teacher, she is super nice and really smart....and here's good ole Mom who could barely pass a math class to save her life. This ought to be good.

I will say this for one HS teacher HE TAUGHT MATH. He might not have been good at some things(social interactions with parents were not his forte)  but HE DID teach math and got our son caught up to almost grade level in a years time. Which from what we can tell has dropped dramatically this year....as we were wasting the year learning calculator......thus the cuter half's frustration with the Special Ed math teaching system.

Teaching the traditional methods (sans calculator) may be the best way to go....how do you know what to plug into the blasted expensive calculator when you don't know what to do in the first place??? At least with the old way you learned the formulas and other stuff and how it all worked (at least the other people did, I think I was hiding in a band practice room pretending I knew what I was doing)..

Anyway, today's lesson kids: TEACH MATH NOT CALCULATOR!! - from the cuter half.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Have you ever seen "Metropolis"?

This is a movie that I experienced for the first time in college.
It was a 1927 film that was considered early science fiction. When I first saw it was in the 1980s and it was considered an art house kind of movie. I remember watching it in Jeff Thompson's art class. Jeff was an experience. He taught me how to visualize art - I also learned spacial reasoning. Which for someone with poor vision in one eye and good vision in the other I am a walking eye strain. His classes helped me mentally figure out distances, packing and what looks right. "Less is MORE, less is MORE. Go with less. It is better art if you DON'T put it in."

Anyway, "Metropolis" was something that I always thought was too weird for me.
Then I saw it.
It wasn't weird. It was sad. It was a story about the plight of the workers and the uber wealthy living off their labors.

Winkipedia describes it like this, "In the future, wealthy industrialists rule the vast city of Metropolis from high-rise tower complexes, while a lower class of underground-dwelling workers toil constantly to operate the machines that provide its power. The Master of Metropolis is the ruthless Joh Fredersen, whose son Freder idles away his time in a pleasure garden with the other children of the rich. Freder is interrupted by the arrival of a young woman named Maria, who has brought a group of workers' children to see the privileged lifestyle led by the rich. Maria and the children are quickly ushered away, but Freder is fascinated by Maria and descends to the workers' city in an attempt to find her."

There is much more to it that this but really, it was a real eye opener for a naive college student- although those who knew me might think differently.
Some people were fascinated with the movie, the Art Deco, the use of tall buildings, the Biblical references to the Tower of Babel. There were references to the "red light" district in Tokoyo. It had the features of a total freak out weird movie, yet the stills and the silent part of it were what made the story more compelling.

I have hear there were remakes but I do not see how anyone could replace the orginal cast nor the un-computerized special effects which took more talent than we would ever see now.

The shooting of the 1927 movie was draining on the actors, the director, and the times.
This is working at the highest level to get the best out of the most and the people working it were largely unknown and had little prior acting experience. Maybe that is why it is so powerful or maybe it was this description by Brigette Helm (Maria):
"Helm recalled her experiences of shooting the film in a contemporary interview, saying that "the night shots lasted three weeks, and even if they did lead to the greatest dramatic moments — even if we did follow Fritz Lang’s directions as though in a trance, enthusiastic and enraptured at the same time — I can’t forget the incredible strain that they put us under. The work wasn’t easy, and the authenticity in the portrayal ended up testing our nerves now and then. For instance, it wasn’t fun at all when Grot drags me by the hair, to have me burned at the stake. Once I even fainted: during the transformation scene, Maria, as the android, is clamped in a kind of wooden armament, and because the shot took so long, I didn’t get enough air."
The website for the actual movie is pretty interesting. This link http://www.kinolorber.com/metropolis/index.php
is available but make certain you have a good computer. It was hard to manipulate.

There was lost footage that was located in Argentina in 2008 and the movie was re-leased with the cut footage in 2010. It appears that Lang himself was at a loss as to why anyone would be interested in a movie that was no longer available. Although it took awhile it appears that he was wrong. His movie was still out there. It just took awhile, and the right people needed to find it.



 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Maybe painted pink....

Are there times when you just would like things to go ever so well then your reality strikes and you realize that rather than dealing with whatever it is you would rather just paint it pink and be done with it?

Trouble came by tonight to tell me that he would like to have a new bed room. He thought that maybe when the boy moves out. Then we would have a spare room that would be made over for the kittens- Trouble told me pink with sparkles.
I thought it sounded OK... To explain- the cuter half and I play around with "Trouble thinks". Trouble is very loquacious and has a lot of great ideas. He tells the cuter half who tells me what latest and greatest Troubles thoughts that come down the pike.



I guess the reason it sounded so cool was that the boy is being a bit of a poop. OK not a bit, a major big toilet filling poop that messes up the plumbing.

Actually most of the problem comes down to perceptions. To the boy, not Troubles, it is the cuter half and my fault that the boy has homework; he has a test and paper due Monday, he has a project for a class that was cancelled and 2 sessions of pe to get completed.
He is busy- and he is very involved in what I refer to ask dicking around on his ipad doing a whole lot of nothing.

Ergo, the boy blames us for the fact that he is not able to sit on his lazy butt and do nothing. The odd thing is he had no clue what he would do if he weren't in college and he doesn't want to be a dish washer for the rest of his life....he wants to do something more but is as clueless as Trouble when it comes to making a reasonable determination.

The cuter half and I had fun tonight, we went on a community walk and we went shopping (a little) and went out for dinner....it was fun. Then we got to come home. Why do we go home after having fun? We should just stay out and away from the noise and confusion.

We got berated, we got told we were stupid, lazy and assholes. Then I got told I was a bitch for not helping the boy with whatever it was he wanted (he lost me at the bitch thing- I decided he was not relevant and I didn't need to listen anymore tonight). Frankly I am not sure why he thought I was a bitch....when the boy starts berating me and the cuter half is when I stop responding or listening to him. Which honestly isn't a good answer; the boy hates being ignored, but there are times when I have to block it out. I cannot handle listening to any more tripe and muck.

On an unrelated issue, still the boy says that God is not there for people like him, he thinks that God doesn't want him or will help him with anything. My thought is that maybe the boy doesn't want God helping him because that means the boy would actually have to work at something and not stay at home.
Honestly, after his church experiences I can't really blame him. Churches are not the most welcoming places to the boy- he has his social bit and most of these people are pretty judgemental and even kids his age won't give him the time of day when he would go.
We had hoped he would make friends when he was in sports in school. That didn't happen either. In fact the boy was walking home from his internship and was asked to come wrestle with the team at practice and his response was, "Why should I come and wrestle with you when you didn't want me here in the first place when I was in school? Why should I come now when you don't want me around anyway?"
Makes sense- even supposed church friends that he used to have don't really want him around. It is work to be around a kid like this- it takes effort and time.

Tonight I know I am tired, and the little bit of freedom we had this evening makes me resent all the stuff we have or have been asked to do this week (which is more than what I am mentioning here). I don't plan on being helpful for those who don't really need it or being responsible for those people either.
Maybe that is why I am annoyed - that stuff and then dealing with the boy drama as well is enough to want to tell people to eff off.
There are two sayings I hear recently and I think both qualify:
"Never push a loyal person to the point where they no longer give a damn."
and the next one:
"A person who deserves my loyalty receives it." Joyce Maynard
(you may think you deserve my loyalty and I may not concur)
 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Working for a living- BEFORE and AFTER MEETING THE CUTER HALF

CONTENT WARNING- SOME OF THIS POST has information and details from before the cuter half and I were married, and some of my past history.
________________________________________________________________________________

We all work.
Whether we are working at home, being a full time parent, or working outside the home.
The thing is, as a working outside the home mom I have noticed some things. Most of the things I have noticed would be considered to be highly offensive to those who have opted to stay at home.

First of all, when I lived with my parents, (yes I did when I was separated from my ex and the boy was young) there were 2 working moms in the neighborhood. Me and the neighbor lady. We worked at offices all day, then came home and worked with our kids at home. Her kids were older and younger than mine.....her husband traveled for his job so she was managing the same way I was.....which means sort of. My parents helped me a lot - most of the other neighbor people wouldn't talk to me; divorce is taboo not only in church - one parishioner told me I was going to hell. Most women think divorcees are after their husbands- crazy but true. I was  too busy to pay attention to that nonsense....running around with my kid taking him to therapies (Speech, Psych, OT and PT), and working. When I met the cute one I was still figuring out the single working mom thing, and was way more strung out on caffeine than I ever had been before. He got me off the 10+ cups a day habit and down to about 1-5 cups (if it is a bad, stressful day I get a little caffeine crazy and make more)

I have found that working kind of keeps me a little more sane than the usual mayhem. Normally the cute one and I are running about at full speed on the weekends. Right now we are helping the boy with projects from school and giving him ideas about papers and teaching him math (he certainly isn't getting instruction from his teacher). This year is kind of like homeschooling- we are the tutors, the supporters, the academic counselors, the planners, the cheerleaders, the yellers the mean, evil rotten horrible parents who everyone hates. We are the inadvertent bad guys again.

How we get that "bad people" role is beyond me. We have expectations beyond what I call the "basement goals" and "Magic 101". Because we don't fall down in a worshipful pose when someone tells us our son can only take 2 classes instead of full time....we are a little more driven than most other parents because we know these kids can do it. They can go to school, graduate, and be somebody. Oh and guess what? They get to have a life too- a family, a house, a car, laundry, dirty dishes and mow the lawn....these kids are people that will be employable and have a life outside of the current home they are in= or better yet the basement.

But then again if you are in the "basement goals" belief system....well, that is your choice. Just remember, you cannot push your beliefs on everyone. So if you believe that all Aspies tell lies, or they are all assholes, morons and jerks. Well, that is what you believe....but don't expect everyone to go along with it. Especially parents like us- cause you know what? We won't put up with that kind of bullshit. So telling our kid that he is stressed and overwhelmed? That is counter-productive and not an effective use of his or your time. In the grades we had a school psych tell us that the boy was stressed and overwhelmed and we would live to regret pushing him so hard repeatedly and you know what? We got the boy away from that nonsense as quickly as we could. Using the "stressed and overwhelmed" bit is an excuse to sit on his fat little butt-in-sky and not do anything at all. Unfortunately, excuses the boy comes up with are pretty darn creative- the stressed excuse one is only used after all the other ones have bit the dust. Oh and he doesn't know you very well and is trying to do a major snow job....He won't lie, he will just let one assume he is stressed becuase then they don't expect anything from him.

Working is all part of the school bit. That is the kids JOB. Going to school is similar to working....and that is why the kids are in school. They need to get used to working and finding something to do that will help them become productive.
Although it doesn't always seem that way and it is harder than hard and you are more tired than tired....we all have to push our kids. Schools won't do it themselves. This is up to the parents to make their kids do whatever it is they don't want to do, or whatever they need to do to get through it and take from it what they can.


 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Changes

We are adjusting to change. The boy is in a new place and getting used to making "grown up decisions"

To say it was not going well is pretty much an understatement.
However, to show where we are at...well we are exhausted. All I want to do is take a major vacation.

We just had one.

The boy is irritable, he is having fun and doesn't want to study or work hard. Counseling at the higher education level is a joke. He needs to have some one tell him to get off his duff and study. We now had to hire someone to do it.....and academic coach. It is kind of expensive. Yes the boy is paying for it himself. He needs the motivation to do the work and I still don't get how he did so well in HS but now is not able to do homework on his own or make an effort when he isn't at home.

The best part is, I have started charging him for my time. If I help him with notecards for his one class it is $.50 for each replacement card. If I type his notes it is $5.00 a sitting.
I haven't WANTED to be this way but I am finding that he has MORE respect for my time if I do.

We are still dealing with problems... he is not grasping that the cute one and I are not going to go along with him dictating terms to us about the whys and wherefores. Shouting and cussing at me does not make me do what he wants me to do. I do the opposite or I do nothing at all.

I realize he has had a lot of changes but it is time to pull on the big boy pants and cope with it. Aspies and others need to realize that the world doesn't stop for them and their little tantrums. They have to be able to function in the world and deal with the fallout.




 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

How some things just do not seem to work

We have been trying new things lately.
The boy has this thing with what I will call "being Chatty Cathy". For those of you who remember the "Chatty Cathy" doll -

Well lets just say that the boy does a lot of chatty, usually about nothing, or complaining about the cuter half and I and the fact we exist.... we torture him you know, we make him do his homework, we insist he take a shower....we wash his clothes and require that he put them away after they have been folded.
It's terrible.
We have kind of figured out that most anti-depressents do NOT work on a kid like ours. He has tried almost all of them at one point or another and the irrepressible anger that comes out from these meds kind of make it not worth while.
Although I am not a real Lance Armstrong fan his website Livestrong does have a good overview of what anti-depressents are. I am going to include the article here- just in case it ever gets moved:


CAN DEPRESSION MEDS CAUSE ANGER ISSUES?

by Joni Brown August 16,2013

 
The diagnosis is depression and medication advised. It is now time for the patient to take an active role in the selection of an antidepressant. The physician takes a careful history of the symptoms and explains the various types of antidepressants and their side effects. One of the main concerns is the side effect of anger, so the patient wants to be an informed consumer.

Categories of Antidepressants

There are five categories of antidepressants. According to the Mayo Clinic, the older antidepressants are Monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or MAOIs, and tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants. These antidepressants are taken when more up-to-date medications have not worked. The side effects of these older pharmaceuticals are severe. The newer antidepressants with fewer side effects are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, norepinephrine serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or NSRIs, and atypical antidepressants.
 

Further Differences

SSRIs work on the serotonin levels and SNRIs work on the serotonin and norepinephrine levels in the neurotransmitters in the brain. Low serotonin levels or low serotonin and norepinephrine levels can be causes of depression. Each person's brain activity is as individual as a fingerprint, which is why a patient may need to try several medications to find the right one.

Atypical antidepressants are so named because they do not fit into the other categories. Atypicals will work on either serotonin or norepinephrine levels also. Patients must remember that the individuality of their brain systems will determine the medication that will be successful in their case.

Antidepressant Brand Names

Here is a list of the brand names of antidepressants belonging in each category: SSRIs -- Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac, Luvox, Paxil and Zoloft; SNRIs -- Cymbalta, Pristiq and Effexor; Atypical antidepressants -- Wellbutrin, Desyrel, Remeron and Serzone; Tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants -- Elavil, Clomipramine and Surmontil; MAOIs -- Marplan, Nardil, Parnate, Emsam, Eldepryl and Zelapar

Side Effect: Anger

According to the National Institutes of Health and the National Center for Biotechnology Information, each antidepressant discussed has the following warning on this specific side effect: "You, your family, or your caregiver should call your doctor right away if you experience any of the following symptoms: new or worsening depression; thinking about harming or killing yourself, or planning or trying to do so; extreme worry; agitation; panic attacks; difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep; aggressive behavior; irritability; acting without thinking; severe restlessness; and frenzied abnormal excitement."

In Conclusion

All side effects listed on antidepressant medications are things that can happen if you take that particular medication. It does not mean that it will. You and your doctor need to be aware of any anger issues you may already exhibit when deciding on which antidepressant is right for you. While you are on an antidepressant, take note of all side effects and inform your physician accordingly.


Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/266958-can-depression-meds-cause-anger-issues/#ixzz2iyyEW800

There are a lot of extremes with the anger thing and anti depressent meds. In fact there are times when something like this should not be attempted at all. I am not anti-med, nor am I anti-herbal or diet or exercise (I am pro exercise and I will insist the boy take a PE class every semester while in school). I kind of practice all of the therapies and techniques with the cuter half, myself and the boy. Right now we are working with only one med. Although the Chatty Cathy part kind of is annoying it is better than the overwhelming anger, agression and other things that the cuter half and I have had to contend with. The boy is doing OK right now, he is doing his homework and willing to study without having a complete meltdown....
The thing we deal with right now today is the "Stop rushing me to x-y-z" While doing some research about the rushing aspect and the boy I ran across yet another article.

In fact, this mom has some insights that I think we are dealing with now. I know the boy will be living with us for a while and there are no programs for kids like him. This is a common refrain in our house and I have regular nightmares about the boy and what will happen to him if the cuter half and I were not around....at least this family has other children. We only have the boy....

What Is It Like To Be a Parent of a Child With Asperger's? by Jean Marion
"What if you get in a car crash and never com home again?” my son asked me as I was getting ready to go to the grocery store…
I knew as soon as I got in the car that he would come running out into the garage with that look of terror on his face and ask me the same obsessive question again. From the age of 3, every night at bedtime he was convinced that the sun would not rise in the morning. His fears of abandonment were heart breaking. How do you make a promise to a child that you are not sure you can keep?
We always knew he was different from other children, but it wasn't until his school performance was adversely affected that we sought professional help in determining the best course of action. There were so many signs along the way, but we were on a long road with many detours, and we had no way of knowing which signs were important, which personality traits meant ‘I am unique,’ and which meant ‘ I am in trouble.’

This is the story of a boy who was on a destructive path to nowhere. With schoolwork undone, friendships nonexistent, and prospects for the future dwindling year by year, something had to be done. The problem was that we had no clue what his problem was. We did not understand him, or understand why he was having difficulties. Things that come so naturally for other children were totally out of his grasp. We had no idea about what to do to help him.

As an infant, we took our cues from him, he let us know what was acceptable, what he could handle. He did not like to be held while nursing. He was very easily distracted and would pull away constantly if any eye contact were made while he was sucking on the bottle. We found that if we laid him alone with the bottle, facing away from us, he would down the whole thing in 15 minutes, and then we could hold him, burp him, cuddle him, and make eye contact. I didn't realize at the time that he was unable to process interacting with me and eating at the same time. He could do one or the other but not both.

Another oddity was that he didn't smile at all, or make many facial expressions. We tested this theory by putting ice on his skin. There was no reaction from him. He would not cry if he were wet, or cold, or uncomfortable. He was very docile, and one would assume he was content. He would sit there and give us ‘the eye.’ Which was his version of an intense stare. Our nickname for him was “Veggie” because he reminded us of a vegetable. We did not mean this in a negative way, we actually found his lack of response humorous, and we tried for months to find things that would make him respond. He finally cracked his first smile while listening to his music mobile. From that day on, we surrounded him with music and he would smile.

As each month passed and he missed certain milestones, we assumed he was on his own timetable. Although he was delayed with sitting and walking, the fact that he eventually learned each skill led us to accept him the way he was, and we never pushed for him to exceed his personal capabilities. He enjoyed playing with toys; his favorite thing was the TV Guide. Tearing it apart, page-by-page, each week. He was fascinated with the sound of ripping.

By the time he was 3, he had a vocabulary of 20 words or so, but he would only speak in single words, never two words together. “Uppy” to be picked up. “Chacha” for chocolate milk. “Car” to point out once again another car on the street. His favorite word to repeat over and over was “Squeaks.” To this day, we still don’t know what it meant. We were told that we should take him to a speech therapist, which we did. However, he was so terrified each time, he would cling to me, certain that if I left him there he would be abandoned or that something horrible would happen to him. So I stayed with him in the room and watched as he sat in a group of children. Each child responded to the group instruction during book reading time. He did not. Sometimes he would get up and wander off to explore the toys in the room. Other times he would sit there and stare off into space. The speech therapist was unable to help him, he would not speak to her, and it was obvious that he didn't have any problems with hearing or pronunciation when he did choose to speak.

His first two-word phrase when he was 3½ was a revelation. “Hot Pizza!” he exclaimed one night after the deliveryman came. We spoke often after that, and when he turned four, he learned to read and enjoyed reading books to us. We could tell that he was very intelligent. He could put complex jigsaw puzzles together, which he did often. He enjoyed building with various multi-piece toy sets. Most of his play was always singular. We started him in daycare to tried to introduce him to the other children, but he mainly ignored them. He had no interest in them or what they were doing unless they had a toy that he wanted.

It took a while to find a daycare that would accept a four-year-old child still in diapers. Potty training was a nightmare; he refused resolutely to have anything to do with it. After many different approaches, we finally decided to try the technique recommended by his daycare provider. We let him walk around naked. This was so that he would have no option but to use the bathroom once he realized that not doing so could be very messy.

The first day, 12 hours passed and still nothing happened. He was holding it and refused to go. This was pure will power on his part. It was obvious he was miserable, and my heart went out to him. Finally, I couldn't take it any longer, I marched him into the bathroom and placed him on the toilet. I told him he could get up as soon as he went. That’s when the screaming started. He called my name at the top of his lungs for 30 minutes straight. I stayed in the other room and prayed. My prayers were answered. There was silence, and then there was exhilaration. “Mommy! Mommy! I went potty!!!!” He was so excited. I was so thrilled for him and relieved. I needed to have him potty trained by the time he was five so that he could start school.

Within a week, he was running to the potty whenever he needed to go, although usually after holding it for over an hour, bouncing around, and finally giving in. It wasn't perfect, but I was grateful. That was until the first poop. He would prefer to hold it for a week or more until he absolutely could do so no longer. So now we had a new hurdle, but the timing was so far in between poops, that I couldn't have him go naked for weeks on end. When it was time to poop, he would go hide. He would squat behind his toy box, or in another room where no one was and do the deed in his underwear. This was extremely frustrating. It would happen so quick, it was usually too late for me to march him into the potty, and by then it was over and it would be another week before the next time when he would repeat his behavior. This continued for 10 more years. (This is not the case for many children with Asperger's, but it does happen sometimes.)

Usually I would drop him off at preschool, and he would run off to play not giving me a second glance. He felt safe there and didn't worry that I wasn't coming back. He enjoyed watching game shows on television, and when a contestant would win he would jump up and down flapping his hands in excitement. Sometimes at daycare though he was rather destructive. He would kick toys, and sometimes kick over block towers that other children had spent time making. He found this humorous and would giggle and jump up and down. He would run pencils along the wall as he walked, cut furniture fabric with scissors, and he seemed to have no conception of the value of things.

He was pretty excited about his first dentist visit. There were balloons and bears painted on the walls. The other kids got to pick out prizes and lollipops so it seemed like a cool place to be. That was until they took him alone into the back room. It wasn't long before he started screaming. I was completely mortified as the other parents were staring at me wondering why my child was acting like someone was sawing off a limb. He came out holding his balloon, eyes red and puffy. The doctor said that if they were to treat him again, he would need to be sedated. And so he was, each time we went. He still screamed in bloody fear, but at least it wasn't during the entire appointment.

Because of the dentist appointment, everything after that day changed. He was even more terrified to let me out of his sight. He would scream through a haircut, (I had to start cutting his hair at home). If he woke up in the middle of the night, he would come and sleep on the foot of our bed. (A night light solved that problem.) But some things couldn't be solved.

On the first day of kindergarten, he was the only child that cried. He clung to me. He was terrified. I should have known he wasn't emotionally ready to start school, but he was already reading and adding, I thought it would be wrong to hold him back a year. The teacher said to just leave and that he would be fine, so I did. I came back three hours later and peeked through the window. I could not find him in the classroom. I walked around the building and saw that he was alone in the play yard, crying and pulling on the doorknob to the classroom. Apparently when the bell rang and all the children went back to class, he didn't hear it or realize what was going on. I was livid with the teacher, and she was shocked that a student could be locked out like that. She wasn't used to dealing with someone like him. She was used to blowing a whistle and having all the kids come happily running into class to start working. She learned pretty quick that she had to make concessions for him.

It was obvious that first year that he did not fit in. He often looked bewildered. We refer to that look as his "deer in the headlights" look. His teacher would say to the class, “Boys on the right side, girls on the left side.” All the children would get up and move, but he would remain seated. He never realized that he was part of the group, or that there was something that he needed to do. He would not pay attention, and often his work remained on his desk undone. We would do his schoolwork together at home. This is what happened his first four years of school. He would not talk with the other children. During recess he would not play, preferring to stand off on the sidelines. He had trouble playing ball, doing hopscotch, anything involving gross motor skills, coordination, or strength. He walked funny. It was kind of a jaunty bouncy step with his hands waving like he was listening to music somewhere and going along with the beat. We found it endearing. The other children found it strange.

There were many teacher conferences over the years. Each year, it was recommended that he be held back. Each year, he was capable of doing the work, often getting A’s on his math and spelling. But he rarely did work in school, many times he would get up and wander around the room studying the maps on the walls, and he never paid attention to group instructions. I felt that holding him back would be pointless, since he would exhibit the same behavior in the next class, but especially since he would be bored repeating the same school work. Many of the teachers felt that he had attention deficit disorder, although it was obvious that although he wasn't paying attention or staying in his chair, he had no problem sticking with a task that held his interest, like a jigsaw puzzle or a good book.

I called our HMO to try and get him in to see a doctor about his possible ADD, but after a half hour phone call, the nurse suggested I pull him out of school and homeschool him, since he seemed to be doing so well with the personal instruction he was receiving at home and not doing well at school. I however, did not feel that this would be in his best interest. I felt it would be ignoring the problem, and I felt that if we just stuck with school long enough, he would eventually prevail. I was very angry at the HMO because they would not even agree to have him tested.
I learned not only how to home school him while he was not in school but how to prepare him for certain social situations. He was invited to be a ring bearer at a friend's wedding. I was terrified. How was he going to pull that one off? I spent months taking him to the church, sitting in the pews, getting him used to the atmosphere, letting him play on the church piano, and practicing walking down the aisle and standing up at the alter with the pillow while not moving. I bought him the tuxedo so that he could wear it often and get used to being in it. By the time the wedding came, he was as prepared as he could be. I didn't breath a deep breath until it was all over. Other than having the pillow hang from his hand he did wonderful. Stood still and smiled in all the pictures. Was completely adorable. I was so very proud of him that day.

It became apparent that most of the children in his class were much taller, bigger, and more mature. He had problems from the very beginning; he was picked on quite often and began to withdraw more during recess and lunch, staying to himself on the playground. He started throwing rocks at other children, hitting the playground teachers, and being sent to the principal’s office. He was suspended for this type of behavior, which didn't affect him in the slightest.

It became apparent by the end of the third grade, that continuing on to the fourth grade was not a good idea. He was incapable of being responsible for his homework, the more class work he skipped, the farther behind he got in class. He failed the state testing miserably, and it was finally decided by the teacher that he would have to repeat the third grade.

Although he was reading at a high school level, his reading comprehension was dismal. Mathematically he was advanced, but he refused to do the schoolwork. When informed he must do it, he knew he did not have to. After all, nothing bad happened in class when he did not. The fact that all the other children were doing it had no bearing on his consciousness. Missing out on recess, sitting alone out in the hallway, being sent to the principal’s office, and receiving citations did not faze him. I worked with him over the summer on his handwriting, which was close to illegible. He started in a new third grade class at a new school in a new state. It was a brand new start for him to get his act together and prove he could do it. Unfortunately, he couldn't do it on his own.

His new teacher called a conference. In attendance were the teacher, principal, school nurse, school counselor, and district psychiatrist. We all sat around a table and I wondered what was going to be said. Nothing like this ever happened back in California.

Each person in attendance started describing his or her association with him. What they had observed. One noted that he would be sitting in class and start staring off into space as if he were thinking about something very important. Sometimes these moments of inattention would last 15 minutes. During this time, he would not hear any class instructions or participate in any class discussions. At other times through out the day, he would not do his school work, it would sit on his desk undone while he would draw pictures or make a valentine for the teacher. He would sit on his teacher’s lap and hug and kiss him. Likewise, he would attempt to hug and kiss his classmates, both male and female. His classmates did not look upon this too kindly.

The teacher spoke of times when he was attempting to talk to the class and he would be constantly interrupted by him, so eager he was to tell him that he knows the capital of Kansas, or some other totally irrelevant fact. There were many instances when he did not return to class after recess, choosing instead to remain outside and play longer. Meandering back to class when the mood struck him. He was a loving, sweet, quiet, unassuming child, very shy and withdrawn. Each person around the table expressed their sadness that such a child was obviously having difficulties, and that there was no way he would advance to the fourth grade under the current conditions.

We finally took him to a private psychiatrist out of our own pocket and hoped and prayed that he would have an answer. The doctor tried to talk to him but he would not look the doctor in the eyes. This was normal for him. The doctor said repeatedly, “Look at me,” while he was talking to him. He would stare at him with his eyes wide open as if it was a real hardship to do so. As soon as he would start to respond he would look away, either staring at the ceiling, or giggling with his hands covering his mouth. At one point, he turned around in the chair so that he was sitting on his head. It became very apparent to me that he was embarrassed by the attention and unable to cope with it. I sighed.

The doctor asked us a series of questions.

“Does he have any unusual fears?”

I thought about all the "what if?" questions over the years. What if the earth hits the sun and explodes? What if lightning hits our car while we are driving? I remembered the times we went to the store and I turned around and he was gone. I wouldn't have to wait long before I could hear his screams all across the store. Convinced that I had abandoned him in the store he would stand in one spot screaming “Mommy!!!” the terror and tears plain on his face.

“Does he have any friends?”

We replied that he did not. When school kids would say “Hi,” he would usually act as if he hadn't even heard them and didn't know how to respond. Even after repeatedly prompting him to “Say hi back to them…” he would ignore them the next time again. He was not able to carry a conversation with his peers or share his toys. Yet he constantly lamented the fact that he didn't have any friends or that the other kids didn't like him.

“Is he able to be in a group of people and act appropriately?”

We thought about it and remembered the time in church when he was with a group of children that were preparing to sing. All the children were sitting quietly in the pews, while he was crawling under them and playing with the children’s feet, giggling uncontrollably. He was unaware of how disruptive he was during the service. One teacher had to sit near him and physically restrain him so that he would not get up and further disrupt the service. I was embarrassed and pulled him from the church classes immediately.
We also remembered the Boy Scout meeting where all the boys were huddled in a group on the floor intently listening to the fireman describe his job while he was hugging the boys and kissing them and not listening to the fireman. When the boys rebuffed his advances, he tried to get their attention by tickling them or pulling their clothes or hair. He had no concept about the idea of personal space or appropriate behavior.

Then there was the school field trip to the zoo. His demeanor was so abhorrent that the other children’s mothers had a terrible time handling him and he was banned from future field trips. He was incapable of staying with the group, following the directions of the chaperons, or behaving without laughing uncontrollably. He was so over-excited to be going on a trip to the zoo that he couldn't handle the experience.

“Is he very interested in certain things to the exclusion of other things?”

“Definitely, yes!” we responded. He can sit and play video games for 8 hours straight, not saying a word to anyone. When we try to pull him away from things, he obsesses about when he can return to play longer, over and over until we give in. He can work on jigsaw puzzles for hours, play the piano for hours, and watch his Star Wars videos for hours. Play the computer for days on end, just stopping long enough to grab a bite to eat or run to the bathroom at the last possible moment. Attempts on our part to draw him out and do other more social things were met with resistance or lackluster compliance with him asking every 5 minutes, “Can I go play Nintendo now?” “Can I go play Nintendo now?” “Can I go play Nintendo now?” "Can I go play Nintendo now?” “Can I go play Nintendo now?” “Can I go play Nintendo now?” We felt like we were torturing him by not letting him do what he wanted.

“Does he do any strange motions with his body?”

We nodded affirmatively. He likes to drum. His hands on the table, his pencil on his leg, toys against one another. Constantly banging something when he has nothing else better to do. Banging on the wall with his hands or feet. When talking, he waves his hands around gesturing wildly with his fingers to try to help him get out the right words he is trying to say, or he holds his finger in his mouth for an hour and talks with it there, making his words very hard to understand.

“Does he have any problem with gross motor skills?”

P.E. at school is very difficult for him, he still can not skip. He doesn't have the strength to move his arms on the rungs of the jungle gym. He looks funny when he runs. He seems very uncoordinated. Simple things like opening and closing the car door are overwhelming for him. It seems like the car door weighs a ton and he is unable to maneuver around it. It is so strange to have a child be able to type and play the piano yet unable to figure out how to use his muscles to open a box of cereal.

“Is he sensitive to loud sounds?”

Again, we nodded. When we take him to the movies, sometimes he screams and cries because the speakers are too loud. He will sit there and watch the entire movie with his hands covering his ears. It makes us feel guilty for subjecting him to that torment. He also cries uncontrollably when we go to see the fireworks. I asked him if he was afraid of them, but he responded that he was not, but that the loud boom of the mortars hurt his ears. He also claims that airplanes overhead hurt his ears, and loud music on the radio.

“Does he often repeat himself?”

“Repeatedly! sometimes he drives us nuts…” I will tell him that we are going to visit cousins at 4 pm. Between noon and the time we leave, he may ask at least a dozen times if it is time to go yet, even though he knows how to tell time and I have repeatedly told him that we aren't leaving until four.

“Is he able to follow a string of instructions?”

I shook my head. “No.” I can ask him to put a cup on the counter, bring me a fork and turn off the light on the way back. In his haste to do this, he will either get the fork but not the light, or vice versa or neither. The cup does make it on the counter though, most of the time.

“Does he often ignore people who are talking to him?”

I looked over and noticed that he was entranced with the world atlas lying on the desk. I said, “Honey, would you like some ice cream when we leave here?” There was no response. He turned the page. I said to the doctor, “Most of the time we have to call his name several times before he will even look at us, let alone hear what we have to say. He is like that with everyone. He is very preoccupied with his own interests.

“Does intelligence tend to run in your family?”

“Yes. His father is a computer programmer. His grandfather is an electrical engineer. On my side are two physicists and on the creative side, a painter and a pianist.”

“Does anyone in your family have a history of mental disorders?”

“Yes. My father has schizophrenia. My mother has bipolar disorder, and I have bipolar disorder. My father’s brother, father, and grandfather also are schizophrenic. The school doctor wasn't sure if he was displaying early signs of schizophrenia because of the way he stared off into space. But I haven’t seen any other signs of it. The doctor also mentioned autism, but he doesn't seem autistic, does he?” I asked.

“Actually, it sounds like he has Asperger Syndrome." the doctor said. "It is part of the autism spectrum of disorders. Get a book about Asperger’s and tell me if you think it fits him. We can talk more about it after you read the book” the doctor answered.

I found a lot of information on the Internet about it, and I read all the books I could find that were available back in 1998 until I felt I knew Asperger Syndrome as well as I knew my son. All at once, many strange things he did or said made sense. I could tell now upon watching him, that he was totally clueless when it came to reading other people’s minds. He had no idea what anyone else was thinking or feeling and could not respond to those signals appropriately. He could not tell when a schoolmate was put off by his behavior. He did not understand why they didn't like him.

I could see how he floated through the days in his own little universe of his own making. His interests in the planets and geology and the weather was telling of how hard he grasped to make sense of the world and his place in it. But as hard as he tried, he was also blatantly unaware at the same time.
He would sit and pull on his shirt so hard it would be completely misshapen by the time he got home from school. He would also have pencil marks all over his shirt, totally unaware that while he was playing with his pencil all day at school, it was marking up his shirt. Then there was the food. He refused to use napkins, so everything he ate that didn't make it inside of his mouth was smeared on the front of his shirt, his pants, or on his sleeves. Because he also refused to blow his nose when he had a cold, snot would end up everywhere too. He saw nothing wrong with this.

He would wake up in the middle of the night with terrible stomach pains, and cry relentlessly, and nothing we said or did helped. He was unable to articulate where the pain was, or what type of pain it was and he couldn't talk to me at all while it was happening. Afterwards, he would just shrug his shoulders as if nothing had happened.

Sometimes he wakes up with dreams that seem so real to him. He will bring them up later, sometimes even a year afterwards and talk about it as if it happened yesterday. He does that with real events also. We will be sitting watching television, and out of the blue he will say, ‘I am good at making ice cream.” I ask him what he is talking about and he seems upset that I don’t already know what he is referring to. He has no clue that I can’t read his mind. With much prodding and questioning I finally discover that he is referring to making ice cream like we did on the 4th of July, 4 years ago. As if it happened yesterday for him. I can tell he gets frustrated when I don’t know what he is trying to tell me.

Sometimes he asks a question and he words it in such away that I don’t know what he is asking. When I tell him to reword it, he is only able to repeat himself more loudly as if that will help me to understand. It is frustrating for both of us. He would call me stupid in a loud angry voice because I couldn't read his mind.

He often seems unaware of what is going on around him. He is just as likely to walk out into the middle of the street in front of a moving car while looking up to stare at the clouds overhead, commenting on whether they are cumulus or cirrus.

When I speak with him, I first have to get his attention. Then I have to keep it by demanding that he look me in the eyes. Then I give him an instruction and ask him to repeat it. Then I question him about the instruction making sure that he understands what I intended for him to do not just the literal meaning of what I said. We are most successful when all of these steps are followed during communication.

Many times he is filled with questions that he will ask. However, as often as not, he doesn't wait around to hear the answer if it is more involved than 3 or 4 sentences. By then his mind is on to something else and often the conversation will stop dead in the middle as he wanders off to explore something new.

He is very innocent and na├»ve. When talking about church, God, Jesus, and such things, he literally believes in heaven and hell and everything that he is told regarding the past. When watching movies such as “Hercules,” he believes in Hades and the pit of death. At the age of 11, he still believed in Santa Claus. He had no reason to question what he had been told. He is very vulnerable for this reason. If another child were to ask him to do something illegal, he would most likely not stop to think before doing it. Our morals are based upon our conception of right and wrong and compassion that we feel for others. He has trouble understanding the concept of morals because he can not feel what anyone else might be experiencing.

He has displayed many instances of bully type behavior. It is normal for him to walk up to another child, grab something out of their hands, ignore their protests, and be completely unaware of the anger he is inciting in the other child. When I explain how wrong it is to do this, his response is always very simple … "But I want it!" If the child fights back, as is often the case, then screaming, hollering, and hitting often ensue. His temper is quick to explode if things are not going his way as he has a very low tolerance for frustration.

Since he never acted that way as a young child, I believe that he is going through the normal stepping-stones of early childhood, just at a much-delayed rate. He is doing things in early adolescence that many children do from the age of 2 to 6 that he never did at the time. This seems highly inappropriate, but he must learn the same way his peers learned, it is just unfortunate that he is learning it all so late.

There are times when he acts very immature. He enjoys talking in baby talk and likes to crawl on the floor instead of walking. Sometimes he gets so excited he is rolling around, jumping off of the couch, laughing uncontrollably. This type of behavior was very embarrassing in a restaurant or store.

Although he is an expert at Nintendo and plays piano well, he does not have the coordination to tie his own shoelaces. When dressing himself, he often wears his clothes backwards or has his pant leg stuck in his sock without realizing it. Also his socks are likely to be worn with the heel facing up and he doesn't seem to notice the discomfort.

The psychiatrist started him on Zyprexa a new medication at the time mainly used in the treatment of schizophrenia but also used for other behavioral conditions. He started sleeping 12 hours or more every night and eating non-stop during the day. He gained 15 lbs the first year. He had always been very slight, thin, and frail, now he was starting to look more his age. Eventually, we switched him to Seroquel and the weight gain stopped and he wasn't so groggy all the time.

A month after starting on the medication, another meeting was called at the school. There were reports of massive changes on his front. He was talking with other children at recess. He was sitting down to do his schoolwork. He was participating in classroom discussions, holding up his hand for every question asked, even if he didn't know the answer. He stopped zoning out and staring into space. I mentioned changes at home as well. He practically stopped playing Nintendo completely, choosing instead to venture out into the neighborhood to meet new friends and learn to ride a bike. Our little boy was on the road to being more normal.

Six months later, he was able to pass the third grade. There were still problems of a social nature. He still wanted to sit on his teacher’s lap. He still wanted to hug his schoolmates. He would often cut in line and rudely demand popcorn even though he didn't have any money to buy some. He still had no way of knowing when someone was upset with him or why. But he was able to sit and do his schoolwork, and we worked on his social skills constantly. Always talking about why people say what they say, what their intentions are, and why they would need him to do certain things.

He started making friends around the neighborhood. He didn't realize that the 'friends' were only really interested in coming over to play video games. Once the video games started disappearing, I asked him about it. He said that he gave them away. You what!?!?!? Those are $60 each! He had no concept of the monetary value of possessions or the work involved in attaining them. We had to actually pay one of his friends to get the games back. Argh! He is no longer welcome at neighbor homes as he often knocks on their doors 4 times a day asking if so and so can play yet. There are a couple that continue to come over and play on the computer however. It is the only social contact outside of school that he has.

Middle school was difficult. High school was aggravating. Due to his IEP, the teachers would grade him only on finished work. He would not participate in group projects at all. Test taking was a nightmare. He would see five pages of bubbles to be filled in and become overwhelmed. "I can't do all of this!" So he would just fill in the bubbles without reading the questions just to get the test over with. Any assignment that he deemed as "too long' didn't get done. We had to split them up into smaller parts so that he doesn't get stressed out about it.

He wanted to be a writer and joined the writing club in high school, but it is very difficult to write fiction when you can only see the world through your own eyes. Each character was another version of him. He couldn't see that in a paragraph he had actually stated the same information by switching the words around. To him, there were more words on the page, so all was well.

In the ninth grade, a girl showed interest in him. He was cute and nominated for homecoming prince and there was no way for her to tell that he was different just by looking at him. After they spent the afternoon together riding bikes and hanging out at the park, I guess it was apparent to her how different he was. I found out a couple of weeks later that he was despondent because she wouldn't talk to him anymore. He kept that flame burning for seven years based upon just that one afternoon. He couldn't get it through his head that she was not interested. As he drove over to her home yet again, I felt so sorry for the family. Luckily her mother had experience with Asperger's and would sit and talk with him for hours when the girl wasn't there. He finally got over her when he saw her smoking one afternoon with her boyfriend. I was so relieved.

 
It would take him years and years to learn what comes to the rest of us naturally. But now that we know how he sees the world, and what he doesn't see, we are much closer to helping him reach his full potential. He needs unconditional love; complete acceptance of his peculiarities, and gentle guidance to help him understand the minds of the rest of us and be able to appreciate all that life has to offer him. He should not be expected to "know better" until he is taught what the rest of us "know."
He is now 24 and it has been a looooong hard road for him. He finally got his driver's license at age 19, although I worry when he is driving because of his inability to look to the left or right. He simply stares straight ahead. He is taking only one class per semester at university, which gives him something to do. When he deigns to come out of his room and interact with us, he speaks with his hands as much as his mouth. I tried getting him to put his hands in his pockets and talk to us, but he found this very difficult to get out his thoughts.
 
He lacks certain social skills to get past a normal interview and get even a simple job like McDonald's. He doesn't smile or make interested facial expressions. He speaks in a monotone voice and says OK or um repeatedly. He sits very stiff and motionless. Like a scared rabbit staring doom in the face. Interviews are abysmal.
 
We have had to practice telephone skills. When the phone would ring, he would pick it up and not say a word. Finally, I would ask him if his father was home, and he would say yes. However, he would make no indication that he was going to tell his father than he had a phone call. After a couple of years of practice, he almost sounds normal on the phone now. He just got a phone call last week setting up yet another interview. He was to write down the address and time for the appointment, and they spoke for about 5 minutes. After he hung up, I asked what was said. He said he couldn't remember. His brain had been so frazzled during the conversation that as soon as he hung up it was completely gone. Poof.
 
He still has trouble finding things. I will tell him to go get his black jeans and he will come back and say he can't find them. So I walk into his room and pick up the jeans that were laying on top of the bureau. Because they weren't where they were supposed to be (inside the bureau drawer), he is unable to take that extra step and look around to see if they might be somewhere else.
Sometimes when he is sitting at the piano, I will place my hand on his shoulder. This I should not do. He will jump a mile and ask that I not touch him. Getting an awkward hug from him (after asking his permission) is rare.
 
When I was informed that the doctors thought my third son also had Asperger's, I was stunned. What do you mean? The two boys are nothing alike? The second one had none of the struggles of the first one. I learned that the autism spectrum covers many different degrees and so yes, my second son had certain similarities, especially with emotional meltdowns and social encounters but other symptoms were all his own.
 
Both of my sons are on Abilify mainly for "autistic irritability" which is doctor-speak for "temper tantrums." It also helps to bring them out of their shell and be more open with others. They are both aware that they are different, yet have little desire to be like others. They get lonely sometimes, but they have each other when necessary.
 
Our main fear now is what will happen to him when we are gone. There are not many programs out there for autistic adults. Nothing to help them get a job. Learn how to get a girlfriend. I figure he will be living with us for many years to come.
 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Unable to make this stuff up-

I wish we could make this stuff up- so many people think we are elaborating or being facetious. I WISH!!
Recently our son was supposed be taking an incomplete as a grade for his Foods class and not attending the class after last week.  He was supposed re-take the class at no charge next semester, at night, with a new teacher.  His current teacher does not feel she is equipped to teach him and does not feel he is a good fit with her method of teaching. 

Fortunately, our son has been miserable in this class for weeks now.  From what we can tell the teacher is not teaching the class that he signed up for and has created her own version of the class.  The class’s course description indicates it is designed to teach introduction to food preparation and then the next session, which you would take the next semester, is food production.  This teacher has decided to go straight to food production, skipping over those pesky food safety and safe handling regulations.  And no there are no pre-requisites for this course; it is supposed to be one of the first food classes you take in your journey to a degree.
With the teacher change, that supposedly was pre-approved- well it wasn't. The "new" teacher never got back to the "old" teacher and the boy found out the night before that he was expected to be back in class that next day. WTF?!
Department supported her decision to have our son essentially removed from the class.  His academic “advisor” indicated that our belief that this is discrimination is not true, because the teacher claims she wants him in her class and feels he can do the work, (as it is  her idea to place him with another teacher, in the same course)  he just is not responding to her style of teaching (or lack thereof).  She feels he is under un-due stress by her teaching methods and only has his best interest, as does the Department, at heart.  We were told we should talk to the teacher, even though we asked for a meeting with her and the Department, which at the time, did not make this happen and teachers are not required to or encouraged to speak to parents, so it would be extremely hard to get a call back from a person who has no obligation to speak to us and who has no office hours (although we do pay her salary and support the colleges tax referendums- rather a Catch 22 for them).  Surprisingly, our son had to give the advisor the teacher’s phone number, the school does not have a data base of teacher’s phone numbers, only email addresses.
 
In his defense, our son has been in Foods related classes now for 7 years.  He has worked the last three summers in the kitchens of the Marriot and the Westin, as well as the cafeterias of the Middle School and High School, and has taken cooking classes on his own through Community Education, all with minimal negative feedback and much positive feedback.  One local chef was so pleased to have the boy in his class he offered him a job. All the boy did was point out that he was scalding his chocolate (not intentionally).
 
We are beyond disappointed with the Department.  Essentially the only service they offer a student with Autism is extended time on tests.  Provided your student turns in a week before the test the correct extended time test request form, on duplicating paper (think of the old credit card multi-part carbon receipts), and makes sure the appropriate copies of the form end up in the appropriate places before the test.  This must occur before each and every test in every class.  When asked why one form per class for the entire year is not sufficient you would have thought the world was going to end, as we were told the policy is one form for every test, as situations may change from test to test.  Luckily I guess they believe remedial math will cure Autism, here’s hoping they are right.   Please take particular note of the wording “correct extend time test request form,” there are more than one form, they gave our son the wrong extended time test request form for the first test he took.
 
Their version of note-taking consists of giving the student a form to take to class, and ask people if they would like to take notes, if they say yes, the form gets returned to their office and voila you have a note taker.  If there is no fellow student willing to do the job there are no notes.  If you need to see an advisor, please fill out the appropriate academic advising appointment request form and submit it to the reception desk of the Department, if you have an appointment submit the appropriate academic advisement waiting to see an advisor form and submit it to the receptionist.  And no we can not make this up, you have to fill out a form to see the advisor even though you have an appointment to see the advisor.
 
Our son is also in the remedial math class, which you can only register for if you have a (wait for it)…..a form from the Department authorizing you to take the class and you turn the form in to the correct window at the Registrar’s Office, in duplicate of course.  Class is not going well, the teacher the Department has teaching the class is giving the students one type of problem in class and another type on the tests.  He gives a total of 3-7 homework problems for any concept and then tests them.  It is a wonderful class. There is little consistency, homework is a joke, and the tests are really, um, interesting. Oh I forgot to mention that there is no book- the book we were told to purchase via the bookstore was not the right one. Then we had to purchase ANOTHER book and this one is on our compter. The computer book isn't the coursebook either, it is for extra credit, and the problems are not consistent either (do you see a pattern here).
 
 The Department sees nothing wrong with our current situation.  The Foods teacher has only the student’s best interests at heart.  Rather than permanently black ball our son by taking this issue outside of the Department, we are making our notes and building our case for a later date.  We do not support and have never support discrimination and separate equal policies.
 
We should have known as soon as we saw "Disability" in the name the program was ineffective, "Access Services", "Inclusion Services", "Office of Equality and Inclusion", all would be appropriate names.  “Professionals” who feel "Disability" is correct terms to use in a college or school setting obviously do not understand their role in society.  Please let people know that the school our son attends does not offer Autism services other than extended time (provided the correct form is turned in) and that if your Autistic Student is discriminated against they will not help you. 

Oddly enough, we don't believe the director of the department thinks that way. We have met with him and he has his game on. He does know what would tick parents off and finding out that a course does not match what the kids/parents/scholarships are paying for means that the course and subsequent dipolma are not worth the paper they are printed on. When the cuter half pointed that out, I think he got it and realized that although we are as hard as nails we also are not completely stupid. Ideally we would like to think that he heard what the counselor and teacher were up to and wanted to get the problem sorted out.
At least we hope so.
 
If anyone has an suggestions as to how we wrap our mind around being told that this is not a case of discrimination, prejudice and or bias please let us know, as Department feels that a teacher saying, "I want him in my class, BUT …" is an acceptable response. 

A pig is a pig no matter how much lipstick you put on it.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Aspergers and BPD

http://aspertypical.wordpress.com/2013/06/12/the-borderline-of-aspergers-the-similarities-between-borderline-personality-disorder-and-autism/

I am including the text to this blog I stumbled across in case it is ever taken down.
The cuter half and I have been doing some reading about BPD and we are really interested in the personality traits. There are times when the boy is, well belligerant, rude, mean, sweary, nasty to be with and sometimes just a typical hormonal teenager.

There are other times I wonder what the hell the cuter half and I are doing and if we need another bottle of wine with dinner. Then reminding ourselves that we have diagnosed the boy ourselves the last several times and this may be another "brick in the wall."

Read this blog, I did:
aspertypical http://aspertypical.wordpress.com/
The Borderline of Aspergers

Emotionally charged meltdowns, intense relationships, superficial friendships, miscommunications and incorrectly assumed intentions. A lot of people with Asperger’s syndrome could identify with this list. An equal number of those with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) could also identify with this list. With individual’s on both sides being misdiagnosed with the other condition, what are the key differences and how can we tell them apart?

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Those with a Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) often present with a pattern of significant impulsivity and instability of affects, interpersonal relationships and self image. This can manifest itself in an intense fear of abandonment and intense anger and irritability, particularly when others fail to understand them. Typically they flip between idealization and devaluation of others, alternating between high positive regard and great disappointment, and frequently display suicidal and self-harming behaviours**. A world apart from the often black and white mechanical thinking of an individual on the autism spectrum, where objects and animals often gain a greater significance than humans, and where other people’s thoughts are not even understood let alone open to manipulation. Yet the functioning of both individuals can appear the same, and frequently those with autism are misdiagnosed as having a personality disorder, particularly BPD, before their autism is recognised*; this is especially true for females.

Faced with the choice of BPD or ASD my psychiatrist precariously leant on the side of the former. Borderline is most common in females and could be considered an extreme form of the female brain, in much the same way that autism has been considered an extreme form of the male brain. So of course being presented with a depressed and anxious patient, who seems to be oversensitive to all forms of treatment and a general pain in the arse (PITA), shoving them into the bracket of ‘unstable female’ would seem like an appealing option. Fortunately for me I had a team of Asper-believers (namely a therapist, my mum, girlfriend and a few friends), and an imminent date with an adult autism assessment clinic to squash those BPD rumours circling my mental health records. What others should have noted was my lack of displayed emotion, my evident self directed anger, and my desperate struggle to please everyone and not miscommunicate as key signs that my personality was not disordered, my entire neuronal network was disordered and I was desperate to gain control over it. So why did they look the same in me and so many other women?

Autism expert Tony Atwood believes that this misconception of females on the spectrum comes from their ability to hide their autism better than males, resulting in behaviour patterns which can mimic those with BPD. This is particularly true if in an effort to mask social confusion and appease others, she models herself on someone else to achieve social success; in the unlikely event that that person happens to have BPD then she has no hope! This can lead to fake and forced social interactions, which can lead others to feel she is manipulative and superficial and completely divert away from the fact she has an ASD. On the other hand the Aspie’s experience of bullying, rejection and betrayal can lead to fears of abandonment and intense and unstable relationships with others, mimicking a BPD.funny-quotes-about-exams-stress-wallpaper-for-teenage-bedroom-wall-stickers-designs-ideas

Fortunately there are some key differences between the two disorders which set them apart. Firstly, whilst those with Asperger’s Syndrome do not get social cues or misunderstand them, those with Borderline Personality Disorder are hyper aware of them, but often distort them. Whilst both can have impairments when it comes to empathy, those with Asperger’s do not understand the social norms that go with a situation, whereas someone with BPD may exploit and manipulate the situation. Because of this those with a BPD are often better able to appear charming and sociable, but on the flipside they can be incredibly manipulative of others**, whereas the manipulation of those with Asperger’s derives from an almost obsessive need to control their surroundings and to please themselves. In terms of self-harming behaviour both are vulnerable, typically though those with Asperger’s use it to release inner tension, whilst those with BPD may be using it as a cry for help. Generally BPD behaviour seems to be a result of defence, usually manifesting itself in late teens and adolescence and commonly developing after a particularly unstable childhood. As we know (or should know, read more of my blog if not!), those with an ASD are born with the condition, it may only become apparent to others over time but it must have always been there.

The danger is in thinking that those with BPD are to blame for their behaviour, and I am the first to admit that my prejudice led me to believe it was an attention seeking disorder. It was only after I researched the issue and spoke to those who have worked with them, that it became apparent that those with BPD are no more in control of their behaviour than those with an ASD. There tends to be a lack of awareness on both sides as to why their behaviour has manifested in the way it has, and actually the treatments for both disorders can benefit the other. Neither respond particularly well to medication, but therapy with an emphasis on interpersonal relationships can hold the key. Particularly work focussed on metallization, which encourages a greater awareness of the intentions of oneself and those around them. Mentalization-based treatment (MBT) was developed with Borderline Personality Disorder in mind, the object of which was to increase the mentalization capacity in patients which should improve affect regulation and interpersonal relationships**. For those Aspies who lack a theory of mind (the ability to understand others mental states), this type of therapy can also be incredible beneficial, even in those like me who, on a much more mild level, just struggle sometimes to interpret the intentions of others.

So it seems that BPD is on the borderline of Aspergers in behaviours and functions alone, the gap between the two in terms of origin and mental processing couldn’t be any wider or the two any more diverse. Deemed as ‘incurable’ however, the treatment for both is focussed on behaviours, and because of this the two are still tied together in harmony.

If you’ve just scrolled to the end and couldn’t be bothered to read this, someone’s beat me to it and created a much more entertaining video!

Notes
Asperger’s Syndrome, Aspie and ASD all refer to Autism Spectrum Disorders
*So I don’t get accused of being biased, those with BPD can also be misdiagnosed with ASD prior to their correct diagnosis – unlike us they got a lucky escape.
**All complicated factual talk came from:
www.wikipedia.com
Safety Skills for Asperger Women, forward by Tony Atwood
http://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=21363.0;all