Wednesday, October 22, 2014

It's gonna be an Aspie Day....

My husband had the day off today! After the long weekend he worked last weekend, he needed it. And I was looking forward to a nice family day of rest and just being together -- after school, of course.

Well, it didn't end up quite as serene as I concocted in my head. Within just a few minutes of waking up, I realized today was going to be an Aspie Day.

What is an Aspie Day? Well, it involves multiple meltdowns for no apparent reason. It involves insane amounts of "baby talk" that makes my skin crawl. It involves noises instead of words. It involves multiple 7 minute time outs for trying to hurt me by scratching, biting, hitting, kicking, head butting, etc. It involves screaming at the top of her lungs. It involves looking me dead in the eye and saying "NO!" to something I've asked her to do. It involves demanding a banana because she doesn't want to brush her teeth and then sitting at the counter screaming "BANANA!!!!!!" over and over and over. It involves having to hold her head while my husband holds her hands so that I can brush her teeth.

And more. All day long. It's so tiring. And so emotionally draining.

But today I was able to keep my cool and not get angry. To God be the Glory!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

I've found my HAPPY PLACE

I started this blog as an outlet. And it was great to begin with. Then I forgot about it. And I started going downhill. That's not to say that the blog helps me stay uphill, but it sure is therapeutic. The idea of saying my feelings to an unknown void is both terrifying and exhilarating! And it's free therapy. (But I still love you, Stephanie!!!) (<--- she's my therapist!)

Anyway. The past few weeks have been eventful. Prior to Oct 1, I had been going through so much inner turmoil that I was sincerely thinking of admitting myself to a psych ward for the sole reason of a getaway covered by insurance. Looking back, that *should* sound crazy. It still doesn't. However, I went with this instead:

This, my friends, is CoCoCay, Bahamas. It's Royal Caribbean's private island and is now my "happy place". When I told Robert of my very serious intentions of calling a psych ward, he finally listened to my not-so-quiet cries for help and we bought very last minute tickets to go on a weekend cruise. (Last minute as in bought tickets Wednesday, left Thursday to drive to Port Canaveral, set sail Friday). It was probably THE BEST thing I've done for myself in a VERY long time.  

First off, my husband listened to my cries! And didn't make a big deal about the fact that we have no money for this! For the first time in a long time, I actually felt like I meant more than money. THAT was an amazing feeling in and of itself!

Second, the weekend was about me and my husband. Do you know how long it's been since we went out together - alone - to just a simple dinner?! Vacations alone have NEVER happened! Shoot, vacations never happen! When you're a mom, and you take kids with you, it's not a vacation. It's simply moving your reality from one location to another. I needed a real vacation. And this was it. And it was wonderful!!! I snorkeled for 3 hours one day! I LOVE snorkeling!!! 

Third, here I had my chance to decompress. My feelings leading up to this getaway were all over the map. Anger, frustration, sadness, depression, overwhelming stress.....okay, so it's really just one area of the map. But they were there in intense amounts and it got to be too much. This little getaway gave me the rest and perspective that I needed to come back home and manage life again. 

Has it been unicorns and roses since I got home? Ha! The face that you even ask that question makes me laugh! BUT it's been easier to deal with. My batteries have been recharged and I have some reserve again. Not much, but more than I did!!!

This weekend was one that I will NEVER forget and will be forever grateful to my husband for allowing. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Glimpse of Sunshine

Yesterday ROCKED!!! And I only didn't post anything because a) I didn't want to jynx it and b) once the kids had gone to bed, I went to bed too!!! So here's my post about yesterday.

Remember back to Thursday night and the Small Victory that we had. I was still on a high from that when I woke up yesterday.

We were so behind in school because we hadn't been able to do anything (except reading) all of Wednesday and Thursday. Going in to school on Friday I knew we had a lot to do either Friday or over the weekend. But I wasn't worried. I took that trip to the park and it WAS school for that moment. And I was happy about that. But we still had some catch up to play.

Somehow, I have no idea how, we finished EVERYTHING that we hadn't done that week! It was insane!!! We had such a great day!

At 6:30am, there was a pretty horrible storm and the kids came into my bed for a while. Abby fell back asleep. Isaac just cuddled. But we began the day with cuddles and loves. And it really helped us, I think.

Do I want to start every day with cuddles and loves now? Oh hell no! BUT it made a difference for yesterday! And the whole day was just FUN! We had fun together! YAY!

A day for the books.....

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Small Victory

Tonight I had an appointment with my counselor. (Every mother - spectrum mom or not! - should have a counselor!) I got some really good insight on how the autistic brain works, which was super helpful!!

On my way home, Abby had something to tell me. Here was our conversation:

Abby: Hi Mama! Guess what?!

Me: What's up, Abby?

Abby: I almost bit Isaac tonight but I didn't and I bit my clothes instead!

Me (trying NOT to get into an accident by the enormity of this latest news from my daughter): WHAT?!? That's AMAZING and AWESOME!!!! Great job, Abby!!! What made you not bite him? What was your brain telling you?!

Abby: Well, the last time I bit him, you made me sit down and I didn't want to sit down again. So I bit my clothes instead.

PEOPLE!!!! I can not stress how HUGE this is!!!!!! Score one for my girl!!!!! 

Oh, yeah!!!! That's right!

So, I'm remembering part of why I homeschool! 

In public schools, no matter what happens, school goes on. There's no allowance for breaks or days off when life takes over. Not so for homeschool. That's part of the beauty of it! 

This week has been horrid. Just awful. Probably one of the worst weeks we've had. School didn't get done yesterday and only reading happened today. 

And what are we doing right now?!

Yeah. We are at the park. 

And why not? 

We saw a squirrel!!!! Squirrels are at the park!!! And a WORM!!!!!! Isn't this kind of discovery just as important as whatever I had planned for school today?? 

Maybe today it's MORE important. It gave me a chance to connect to my kids in a way I probably wouldn't have been able to had I stayed at home. 

I homeschool. Which means "oh yeah! That's right! I can go the park anytime I want to!!!"

And watching my kids play brings me a few minutes of I rushed joy. 

Are you kidding me??

My kids slept at my moms last night, as they do every Wednesday. From the second they walked in the house an hour and 15 minutes ago, one of them has been in time out. 

I've been bit 3 times. I've had to restrain both of them. 

We *should* be doing school right now but they are both locked in their rooms because I can not handle this right now. We are on day 4 of utter insanity here. 

How am I supposed to deal with this day-in and day-out??? 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Today Was Better Than Yesterday....

....but that's not saying much.

Yesterday was one huge meltdown. And it hurt. Physically, emotionally, hurt.

Abby - my daughter who is currently 6 - is on the autism spectrum. If you go by the "old school" DSM IV, she has Asperger's. And Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). But if you go by the DSM V, the newest version of it, she has high-functioning autism.

To most people, this comes as a shock. And quite honestly, it shocked me, too. I mean, I guess I always knew something wasn't quite right but I never thought *autism*.

She was born at 30 weeks. I'm sure this has something to do with it. Although, maybe that's more of a reason for the SPD instead of the autism. 33 days in NICU will do that to a person, I guess.

She's always been incredibly super smart. She started reading at age 2. I wasn't sure what to make of that, other than I had a genius child! Of course! Doesn't every mother?! But that probably should have been my first tip off.

She started having some issues last year that made me think something was up. Nightmares 4-5 times a week. Never slept well. Took F-O-R-E-V-E-R for her to actually fall asleep and then she'd wake up a bazillion times a night.

She started having "fits" (that I later learned were autistic meltdowns) that were literally uncontrollable. By me, Robert, or Abby herself.

She started becoming violent with her little brother, Isaac. Although, again, she's always had a sort of "jealousy" towards him. But we all thought it was because she didn't like him nursing. Again. Probably should have been a tip off. She now hits, kicks, slaps, punches, bites, pinches and pushes him. For seamingly no real reason. She has a really hard time controlling her emotions - good or bad. She gets very angry over very little things. She also reacts to things in the most ridiculous ways! When she falls, it's as if the entire world fell on her leg. Instead of just a tiny scratch. Brushing her hair is my arch nemesis...which is why my child looks like she has ragamuffin hair 95% of the time. If she has something set in her mind but the reality doesn't go that way, oh heaven help us!

Living with this is so hard. And that seems so selfish to say. I'm sure that this is INSANELY hard for HER!!! How could it not be!? But as a mom who is desperately trying to do what's best for my girl, this is by far the hardest thing I've ever in my life encountered. Or had to deal with. Every day. With no real breaks.

We homeschool. There's no way I can - in good conscience - out my daughter who, at 6, is reading and comprehending on a 6th grade level yet has the emotional capacity of a 3 year old in a public school room. Forget the fact that I don't trust the government and HATE the public school system. That's beside the point here. I have a 6 year old who is really 12 and 3. All at the same time. Putting her in a room with other 6 year olds would be asking for behavioral problems galore! And I won't do it to her! Plus, I WANT to homeschool my kids. Both of them! I have the blessing of being able to do this! I wouldn't pass it up for the world.

But holy hell it's hard! Which brings me to yesterday. Geez. The meltdowns I watched yesterday were unreal. She actually bit ME for the first time. And HARD.

Let me back up and say that as a parent, I'm a yeller. Which I hate about myself but it's true. I'm a yeller. But I've been working really REALLY hard on not being a yeller. Back to yesterday.

She bit me hard and I kept my cool. I actually stayed calm and didn't yell. (One point for mom!) But it was quite difficult. We started a new routine where everytime she does something violent to Isaac (or anyone, for that matter - everything just seems to be directed at him), she sits down in time out for 7 minutes. When the timer goes off after 7 minutes, she can get up and continue with whatever she was doing. If, however, she gets violent again during that 7 minutes, the timer starts over. I had to start the timer over about 15 times yesterday during ONE meltdown. I was beginning to wear thin.

I don't want to relive all of yesterday right now. Mainly because it's just too painful for me. But I will say this: Trying to figure out what my daughter's needs are make these meltdowns almost necessary. She can't tell me with her words what she needs. She doesn't have the emotional capacity to figure it out and then verbalize it. The only thing she knows is MELTDOWN. And while it's hard, I'm grateful to have a child who can at least tell me in some way how she's feeling. No, I don't like meltdowns. In fact, I downright hate them! But there are so many other children on the spectrum and off who can't even communicate with their parents in this way.

And it's in thoughts like these that I'm desperately trying to find the Joy Through The Struggle.

Welcome to my world.