Single Moms Raising Autistic Sons

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Saturday, December 31, 2005

Ten Random Things About Griffin

I was tagged by Peggy Lou Morgan to make a list of 10 random things about Griffin. So I am going to tag Christina, Jenn, Julie, Rebekah's mom & dad, Kristina, Sal, and Eileen, I know that I have left off several people so please feel free to make your own list.

1. Griffin's favorite food is pepperoni pizza and he only drinks soy milk, water, or apple juice
2. When Griffin gets an owie he calls it a "skeeter bite"
3. Every time that I am on the phone Griffin gets on top of the TV stand and jumps off and starts perseverating saying "Hi mommia" and demanding my undivided attention by moving my head to face him.
4. Griffin is halfway to being potty trained. (bm in potty always)
5. When mommy goes to take his picture he says, "say cheese" and smiles really big
6. Griffin actually repeated to the sales clerk "Happy new year" yesterday, of course he doesn't know what it means but it was a great interaction.
7. Griffin loves to play in the swimming pool and has no fear of getting his face in the water
8. Griffin knows how to work the TV, vcr, dvd player, and the remote. Oh yes, and the computer
9. Griffin is half Samoan, his father is from Western Samoa
10.Griffin can put his shoes and coat on all by himself

Happy Happy New Year to You All

Pictured here is my best friend Sheila who was Griffin's first educator through the Programs for Infants and Children here in Anchorage. I was going to write about Griffin's early intervention program with Sheila but instead I think that I am going to ask her to write a bit about it because my memory does not serve me well even though she made some notes for me. Don't know if it's the ADHD or the PTSD but I have what is called "poverty of thought" and whenever I try to recall something it's just not there. I hate it because I can't even remember things like Griffin's milestones. I have to write everything down in my journals otherwise it's gone.

Anyhow, I had a good day today. My depression was held at bay and I actually had the energy to be more productive and got us out of the apartment a bit. Sheila came over for lunch, I ordered pizza and we got to sit and chat. Boy, does that ever lift one's spirits - being able to socialize with an adult for awhile. That's a real treat for me.

Griffin came to me today and led me over to the chalkboard. He moved my hand so that it was over his hand as he held the chalk, Then he would say the letter or number that he wanted me to help him write. We went through the entire alphabet and numbers 1 - 10 and he would move my hand away when he was able to write the ones by himself. When he tried to put the chalk into my hand to get me to write them myself I told him "No, Griffin needs to write " and put the chalk into his hand. He finally caught on that I wasn't going to do it myself and that he had to make the effort and he proceeded to write as much as he could alone. He struggled a bit but was determined to do it and didn't request my help again.

For those of you who have blogs that I usually visit and leave comments I apologize that I haven't been there lately. I am trying to catch up on reading blogs little by little but some days I just don't have the energy to sit here and read or write. I miss reading about you and yours and will get to it again hopefully tomorrow, It's just that when I do have energy I like to use it to get out of here a bit and try to soak up the little bit of sunlight that we have. Then when at home I like to spend time with Griffin and clean the apartment. I hope that you don't think that I have forgotten you because I do miss ya.

I wish you all a very Happy Happy New Year. I hope that all of you have a safe new year's eve if you do go out and if you don't then I hope that you enjoy the time with your dear family. Griffin and I will be staying in watching Sesame Street's New Year's Eve celebration on video and then we will watch the ball drop in Time's Square. I'll have a glass of red wine and Griffin will have the hard stuff -- apple juice :)

Most of you are ahead of us, since we're in Alaska, so you'll be in the new year long before us (except for my friends in Oregon 1 hr ahead and Arizona 2 hrs ahead oh yea and Australia 4 hrs behind). I am grateful for all of you and all the support that you have offered since I started blogging. Thank you all so very much! I've said it before and I'll say it over and over again.......I couldn't make it through the day without your support and words of encouragement.

So, have a great time no matter how you celebrate and I will be "seeing" you next year unless of course I get to read your blog before then, which I hope to do and now I am just rambling so I think it is time to go. Ta Ta For Now

Thursday, December 29, 2005

ABC's, 123's, and Smiley Faces

Here is Griffin making a zero and he put a one in front of it to make 10 . He also made the numbers 13, 9, 16, and 8. He has been busy lately on the chalkboard here at home drawing his favorite, a smiley face, and practicing his alphabet as well. It seems that Griffin is going through some sort of growth spurt with his learning because he has shown an exceptional interest in reading and writing over and above his usual hyperlexia. Needless to say that I am very proud of him and am so very happy to see that he is doing exactly what he enjoys the most. Griffin has been interested in these things so much that he has cut his video time down to practically none at all and that makes mommy happy.
I have been busy trying to keep this depression at bay, making sure that I don't sleep too much and that we get out of the apartment every day. The increase in meds has not helped me and my nurse practitioner gave me a firm "No!" to trying any other anti-depressants due to the negative effects I have had in the past. So, I am stuck with what I got, or so it seems. She said that I need to wait a month to find out if the increase of the Abilify works because it can take that long to feel the effects of it. Man, how I wish that there was a magic pill or a button I could push to make this all go away! Enough whining for now. I had a good day and am grateful for my time with Griffin especially after the week I had last week. I must be honest though, it will be nice for us to get back into the school routine and to have time each day to myself. It seems awfully selfish but right now it is essential for my "sanity". It's just that Griffin gets bored so easily and then becomes hyper and a bit out of control. He runs around in circles literally, bangs his head on not only hard objects but on people too, namely "me", and he perseverates. The ones that I have the hardesrt time with are the perseverating and the head banging . Peggy Lou has given me some wonderful pointers on how I might remedy these situations and believe me, I am going to begin trying them out tomorrow.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Saying the Alphabet Backwards

Tonight I was lying down beside Griffin snuggling right before bedtime and all of a sudden he started saying his alphabet BACKWARDS! Not only that but he did it three times in a row without stumbling just as if he had done it a million times before! OMG, I could not believe it and am still having a hard time because I tried to do it and I had to keep saying the letters forward to be able to get them in order backwards. This guy never ceases to amaze me.
Today was a good day for us even though it was dark most of the day the sun was out nice and bright for a few hours. We went to a couple of stores and I got a "Word Whammer" by Leap Frog for him since he loves to spell so much. It goes on the fridge and has magnetic letters that you put in the spaces to spell out a word and it sounds out the letters then the word itself. Griffin is able to spell words much larger like, chimpanzee and Zoboomafoo but he still seems to enjoy working with it.
What I would like to work on with his speech teachers is for him to learn the concept of "my" and "mine" because when he wants his nose wiped (he has a cold) he says exactly what I have said to him "Do you want to wipe your nose?" So, it would be good if he could say," I want my nose wiped." I am beginning to believe that since he had the tubes put in that his receptive language/vocabulary has increased tremendously. The way the E.N.T. doctor explained it to me was that Griffin's ears were like a drum that was being pressed down with someone's hands and that when you hit a drum like that you don't fully hear the sound of the impact, it is muted. Griffin can now hear the "full impact" of the drum, it is much more clear.
I am so grateful that we found an excellent E.N.T. doc who recognized the negative pressure in his ears and did not hesitate to suggest the surgery. It was simple, quick, and he recovered easily from it. I can't remember the name of the test but it was some kind of device that was put into his ear and it measured the pressure inside. I think it was called something like and O.E.G or O.A.E. If there's any doubt that you have about your child's hearing then ask your doctor especially if it's an E.N.T.
My mood was good today, it helped to get out of the apartment for awhile, have some fresh air, and walk around for a bit. I go to see my A.N.P. (Advanced Nurse Practitioner) about my medications tomorrow. We shall see if she increases them again, I don't know. I have called the respite provider, Stephanie, and she has agreed to come to watch Griffin while I am at my appointment and then a couple of hours extra so that I can go run some errands too.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

A Few New Blogs You've Got To Check Out

There are some new blogs that my friends have that I highly recommend:

One is my best buddy K.C.'s mom, Tina, and her blog is Matchbox Kid . You will definitely fall in love with K.C. and enjoy how Tina writes about him and their everyday challenges and celebrations. Tina just started this blog so let's give her support and share your stories with her.

Another one that I thoroughly enjoy reading and find it has valuable information is also a blog by one of my dear friends named Peggy Lou Morgan her son's name is Billy Ray. Check out:
Parenting A Complex Special Needs Child. You'll feel compelled to read more and more

Last but not least is a blog all the way from Australia by my friend Kiralea whose son's name is Jordan hence the title: Jordan's Life With Autism , it will make you laugh and cry. Kiralea has chronicled not only Jordan's life but also her own which makes for a very interesting read.

Let them know that I sent you over and while you're there leave a comment and let them know that you were there.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

We're Home!

Well, I made it home and Griffin is here by my side finally. I didn't go to the hospital as I thought that I would but instead went to a small crisis treatment center. There was only about 5 clients there including myself with about 5 staff members. We had group 3 times a day which was beneficial to me and my medications were increased. I am feeling considerably better, don't know if it was just the medication change or the atmosphere/therapy or perhaps both but what a huge difference! I started feeling better the second day that I was there probably because it was so darn boring and it made me want to get better that much more.........just kidding. There was lots and lots of quiet time with no TV, time to read and write in my journal, time to reflect and appreciate the time that I had at home with my beautiful Griffin.

My time there has taught me how to avoid stumbling blocks that may lead to depression. I have learned how to boost my self esteem and create positive thoughts when the negative seems to prevail. All in all it was a valuable lesson, one that I will never forget. I met some people who are now near and dear to my heart the staff and the clients there have left an indelible memory for me. If only I could just go there each time I need a break, how nice that would be but not likely since I wouldn't have a respite provider for Griffin. So, in the interim I must be strong, learn to relax, but not too much relaxation, and how to be pro active with how I treat myself.

Griffin seems to be very happy to be home but there's no way that he could be happier than I am because we are together again. I am now able to fully appreciate the treasures and gifts in my life and am able to love living in the present and not be bogged down by the past or by expectations of the future. Each moment is still a challenge for me as I am working on staying out of depression and going into happiness. I just have to meet each day head on and not let the random invasive thoughts rule my life. Since I am feeling stronger it is not as tough as before therefore I say "Bring it on baby" I am ready to take on the world because my favorite little guy is here with me and that's all I need right now to get me through anything.

Thank you all for your support, I love you all. There are no words to describe how grateful I am for you. I have laughed and cried when reading your comments and both are very cathartic for me. Because of the support that you have provided I am one step closer to being where I need to be in a happy, comfortable, and secure place. I wish you all a happy holiday and many many blessings along the way and even if this is not a holiday season for you I wish you the best of all that life has to offer with plenty of laughter and joy in whatever you do.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Off to the Hospital

9:25 a.m. I don't have much time because I just found out that there is a hospital bed available so I am taking off right now. I will be there for 3 - 5 days. Have to be out by the 25th because that's when Kathleen takes off to Seattle and I will need to get Griffin. I can't wait to feel better and to have my little guy beside me again. Love to you all, I look forward to seeing your wonderful messages and e-mail when I return.

Bummer of a Day

9:00 p.m. Today was not like any other and I am so bummed about it that I don't even feel like writing but I said that I would so I shall. On the way to see my therapist this morning a huge SUV rammed into the rear quarter panel and smashed my tail light as I was innocently driving and minding my own business. Well, the worst part is yet to come. I told her that I needed her insurance information, phone number, driver's license number, etc....all the pertinent information that one would need except for the most important and easiest to get........the tag number. I didn't even think to get the "bleepin'" tag number. I was so focused on getting to my appointment that I didn't do it right, I trusted that the woman was writing down the correct information and I allowed her to leave. Come to find out later that it was ALL incorrect information. OMG I feel so stupid! I am old enough to know better than to do something so absent-minded. I was concentrating on the real pressing issue of whether I was going to go to the hospital or not that I totally spaced out. So now my car is damaged beyond what it is worth because it is a 1988 model but at least it is still drivable. I am hoping that my "uninsured driver" coverage will take care of it. Does anyone know if that will cover it if the person gave me incorrect information?

Finally I got to my appointment and spoke to my therapist about my condition and she believed that it would be a good idea for me to go to the hospital. A woman came from the crisis center and did a "mobile assessment" on me and she determined that I needed to be in the hospital but there are no beds. Here I sit waiting and waiting. I called the ER and they told me that it wouldn't help me to come in there unless I was trying to kill myself which I am definitely NOT thinking of doing! So, that's the story on that situation so far.

Later I went to go see Griffin at Kathleen's and he greeted me with a big big smile, hugs, and kisses! How wonderful is that? Nothing in the world can compare. We played and he was in a mellow mood therefore it was a wonderfully pleasant visit. I am having a hard time typing right now due to the blurred vision from the tears so I won't be recounting the details of our visit together. Maybe tomorrow I can hold up better. All I can say is that I miss him more than ever before and I anxiously await the moment that I get to see him again and hold him in my arms.

I have a confession to make, that I have been a skeptic about prayer for many many years because I am agnostic not to mention being jaded too but I am beginning to feel that all the prayers said for me and Griffin will make a difference. In this time of need and while having so much pain I think that it would be most beneficial for me to believe in something powerful and not just sit "on the fence" about it. There are too many people out there who are praying for us and I have to admit that it sure does feel good and it does make a difference. I can still be agnostic and be spiritual there is such a thing as spiritual agnosticism so that must be me.

Thank you for your prayers and loving kindness my dear friends. You help keep the "lonely tears" at bay.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Going to See My Therapist

8:00 a.m. I am going to go see my therapist at 9:00 and will find out if I will be going into the hospital or not. If I don't post again soon then you will know that's where I am. It's kind os scary but I will be tough and continue to fight this ugly monster. Please, take care my dear friends and I will be seeing you soon. I sure will miss our communications but will eagerly await our reunion. Wish me luck and the strength to overcome this obstacle, like I have said before "I welcome the challenges that life has to offer be it good, bad , or indifferent because I have learned to love living in the world of autism" and by the way I have to love living in the world of Bipolar because I have no choice. If I hated it I would be a miserable and terribly lonely sick individual. So, I welcome the challenges of being Bipolar too and I will persevere! Please do keep leaving comments and e-mail for I shall look forward to seeing them upon my return. Thanks to you all.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

A Visit with Griffin

3:00 p.m. I just got back from eating lunch with Griffin at a local restaurant . Kathleen and her husband, Carl met me there with Griffin. They had just come from church and I from home. I was supposed to meet them at the church at 11:00 but when I woke up this morning I felt like I hadn't slept for days and my entire body was hurting worse than before. I stayed at home and rested, occasionally checking my e-mail, and reading blogs. Anyhow back to the restaurant and seeing my Griffin boy. Griffin had a big smile on his face as I greeted him and he said "hi mom mom". Tears of joy streamed down my face and I laughed gleefully as I hugged him ever so tightly. He took my hand and we walked into the restaurant where Kathleen put his booster seat beside me. Griffin sat there eating his waffles with syrup, drinking his milk, and every now and then saying "hi mom mom". I softly kissed his sweet face and told him how proud I was of him for sitting there eating like a big boy.

I actually ate more than I had anticipated because before getting there I had no appetite so those of you who ask me if I am eating the answer is yes I have. Eating at home, well that's a different story. I only eat when it is absolutely necessary since food just doesn't have much appeal to me right now. Griffin used his spoon really well, something that we have been working on at home. The visit was short, or so it seemed, and the time had come for me to tearfully say "good bye" to Griffin. This time he definitely showed emotions and even though it was a good thing that he was it still broke my heart. He said as he turned towards Kathleen, "bye bye Kathleen" over and over again. Kathleen told him, "no, you are going home with Kathleen". I hugged him and kissed him as though I would never see him again. I told him that I loved him and that I would see him again soon as I fought back the tears. My heart felt as though it was being ripped out of my chest as she put him in his car seat and then I kissed him one more time. I finally told him that I would see him tomorrow and that I would call him tonight to say good night. Tomorrow? It seems so far away. I still can't believe that he just not here with me.

I am tired, very tired and I must rest now even though I had much rather send out e-mail. Guess that I will just have to do that later. I must be strong for us. I must persevere for my precious Griffin. "I love you Griffin" more than life itself.

Missing My Sonshine

I went to visit Griffin today and he seems to be doing really well. He was so engaged in playing that he didn't even want to watch videos. That made me feel really good. Later we sat at the table and ate lunch, Griffin ate his lunch while sitting properly in his seat which is something that we have difficulty with at home. I was so impressed with him and how well he was behaving . I made sure that I gave him lots and lots of hugs and kisses and told him how much I loved him.

9:30 p.m. I just talked to Griffin on the phone and I am bawling my eyes out. As I told him that I love him many many times, each time he would repeat it back to me, "I love you" which of course would cause even more tears. He even repeated to me "I miss you". Even though I was crying, I was happy that he was talking to me and actually holding the phone because at home when I try to get him to talk on the phone he usually pushes it away. My emotions are just all mixed up but I made it through it and I'm okay.

Since I didn't take the Wellbutrin last night I feel somewhat better today but I'm feeling the side effects of the increase in the Abilify which happens to be anxiety. So, I am depressed and anxious and it's not fun, let me tell ya. I didn't have any comments on my last post but I am sure that it is because everyone is out shopping and not online reading blogs. I feel so strange without that support each day. It's like I am a blogging junkie waiting for my fix of feedback from my buddies. Part of it too is simply my state of mind and my perception of the situation. I am feeling rather strange, strangely aware that I am a prisoner in my own home being held hostage by this terrible illness. I am beginning to feel weird about being so blatantly honest and I think that I will end this now. Besides, I think that writing so much about just me is really boring. Tomorrow is a new day and I look forward to seeing my "sonshine" again.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Feels Like Winter on the Inside

It's cold and lonely here without my "sonshine". There is an emptiness about this place when he is gone and the tears will not go away. I know that it is the best for us but it is no consolation even though I know it should be. Griffin's welfare is tantamount to any doubts that I might have as to whether this is a good idea or not. I feel like I am backed into a corner and have been given no choice in the matter but consciously I do realize that those feelings are not rational and that I do have choices. I have made the "right" choice to protect my son and to care for myself.

I just spoke with Kathleen and she told me that Griffin kept waking up during the night crying. This just breaks my heart and I just want to go get him and bring him home to snuggle with him. I want to make this all go away, it's like a bad dream that I keep thinking I am going to wake up from. The silence is deafening but I don't feel like listening to music and there's nothing on TV ( I only get 2 channels) so I think that I will just have to go over to Kathleen's and visit Griffin. OMG, That is so strange, to say that I have to go "visit" my own child. I am just trying to get past this weirdness of being separated from him.

I can't help but wonder if Griffin's waking up during the night was from sleeping in a strange place or because I wasn't there or a combination of the two. I wonder too because of the autism if he even misses me when we are apart. He doesn't ask for me, he doesn't get upset when we are separated but does that mean that he doesn't miss me? Maybe if he doesn't miss me it is a good thing for him because at least that way I know that he is not sad. If there is a mother out there who believes that autistic children can and do actually "miss" their parent(s) then I would sure like to hear from you. I just don't think that because of Griffin's autism that he "feels" the way NT kiddos do. Maybe it shouldn't even be important to me but my mind keeps mulling it over and I can't come up with any definite answers.

Well, I am going to go to Kathleen's house and visit my favorite little guy, I told her that I would be over there at lunch time and it is nearly 12:00. I can't wait to see his smiling face and there is one thing that I am sure of........that my little guy is always happy to see me and boy oh boy does that make me feel good, there is nothing like that feeling. I just want to say thank you to my blogging friends who have been supportive of me and sending out hugs and words of encouragement. I would also like to publicly thank Kathleen for caring for Griffin in my time of need. I will be posting again today, this evening, after I go to visit Griffin.

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Latest News

I went to see my Advanced Nurse Practitioner today and she told me that I needed to change my meds in order to start feeling better from this depression. I had been taking Wellbutrin (as an anti-depressant) but she said that often times with Bipolar Disorder that the anti-depressant can actually cause depression to get worse. So, I am stopping the Wellbutrin and increasing the Abilify (mood stabilizer). I probably need to go into the hospital to get all this straightened out and take a much needed break but this time of year is the most busy for the psychiatric profession and there are no beds available. Griffin's teacher has agreed to take him for awhile until I begin to feel better. I am really going to miss him. OMG this is rough but I have to do it.
I am just not able to care for him in this capacity. For those of you who have ever felt depressed multiply that times a hundred and imagine what it would feel like. It is a helpless and terribly vunerable feeling, like I have absolutely no control over what my body and mind are doing. I feel so bad that my body is actually sore all over as if I have been beaten and I am chronically fatigued. My brain is in a fog, distracted, and spacing out all the time.

I have to keep in mind that taking this break from being a full time mommy is best for Griffin and that I do have a support system especially in this blogging community. I have just met a few new people here who are also manic depressive and have autistic children and what a relief to know that I am not alone in all this. It is so nice to communicate with those who know and understand exactly what I am going through. It is also nice that there are those of you who have reached out in loving support and offered to help in any way possible.

Griffin will be home from school soon and then I must prepare myself to "let him go" and get him ready to leave me. I sit here with tears welling up just thinking of my little guy leaving my side, sleeping without him near, and not hearing his laughter or seeing his smiling face. I have only been separated from him once in 4 years and that was last year when I had to have surgery. So it will be pretty darn tough but I must be strong for him, for us, and persevere to overcome yet another obstacle in our lives. The journey may be long but it's not the first one nor will it be the last therefore I must "hang in there" so that I can end up being the best mommy that I can possibly be for my beautiful little "sonshine".

Thursday, December 15, 2005

I'm Feeling Better Today

Pictured here is Griffin on the computer at approximately 2:30 in the morning. He woke me up early yet again. You may ask, "why Lora are you taking pictures at 2:30 in the morning?" Well, I take pictures because it helps me cope with the irritability and terrible fatigue that I am feeling. It is a way for me to remind myself of how cute this little guy is and how could I possibly be upset with him? I have to admit that sometimes it doesn't actually work that way but it sounds good.

I got him on the bus at 8:00 and laid down and took a power nap because the guy from Alaska Housing was coming over for the yearly inspection at 9:00, for those of you who don't know, Griffin and I are on public assistance and I have Section 8 housing. Later, after he left, I decided to get motivated and go run some errands. I was supposed to go on a field trip with Griffin's class but I really needed a break from him after we were together for so long all morning and especially since he wouldln't stop saying "hey mom mom". I knew that if I went on the field trip with them that he would continue to keep saying it and frankly my nerves just couldn't take it. I'm sure that it was, and always is, a good thing for him to spend time away from me too.

I paid some bills and came home for awhile to check my e-mail and the blogs. I was so surprised at how many wonderful people commented on my last entry/post. I was crying I felt so touched, thank you all for your support, it means a lot to me. I know that I can get through this rough spot especially since I now know that I am not alone in this. I got to meet some new people too which is always cool. I can't thank you enough Christina for what you have done for me, mere words are not enough.

I go to see my therapist tomorrow and I am really looking forward to it, Marilyn is the best at what she does. Griffin had his O.T. today and it went really well. Tracy used listening therapy on him and said that it is helpful in calming him down and if we are going to do it at home it should be done twice a day for 30 minutes. Tomorrow he has speech with Nancy he always seems to have fun with her. Grifin has been doing so well since he had the tubes put in his ears. He apparently had negetive pressure behind his eardrums and it was interfering with his hearing. Since having them put in his speech has vastly improved. He doesn't babble anymore all his words are far more clear than before.

Also for those of you who have just met me I also have ADHD, and APD (Auditory Processing Disorder), I am a single stay at home mom and I have no idea where Griffin's father is. See "Being a Single Stay at Home Mom" below. I don't know how to link things in my own blog.

I let Griffin stay up a bit later tonight in hopes that he will sleep throughout the night. I gave him the melatonin which did not calm him down as it usually does and just to be on the safe side I gave him 1/4 tablet of the Clonodine. Man, I hope that combo works for him..........and me too.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

"Hey Mom Mom" at 3:00 a.m.

This is Griffin at 3:00 in the morning right after he woke me up. I was not a happy camper as one might imagine. I had just gone to sleep at 12:30, that will teach me to stay up late! It is bad enough that in Alaska this time of year that we hardly have any sunlight, but to get up at 3:00 and not see the sun until about 12:00 , and then it's not even up but a couple of hours, is a real bummer. It is rough for someone who is Bipolar too. We are especially sensitive to the long dark hours. Notice that I didn't call it "long dark days" because to me a day is when there is daylight. Being Bipolar and caring for an autistic child is quite the challenge , let me tell ya. I have been struggling with depression due to all the darkness and then hearing Griffin say "hey mom mom" over and over and over again ........well, it's not a lot of fun.

Don't get me wrong, you know how much I love my little guy, and no matter how irritated I become I am still patient with him but I think that you know what I mean when I say "it's not easy". I am not here to complain, I just kind of wanted to let people know more about what Griffin's mommy is like and how I work very hard to do my best for my little guy regardless of having a serious mental illness. There, I said it! There is a lot of stigma attached to being mentally ill . Even though I am on medication and am considered to be "stable" I still have to contend with some who believe that "we" are raging lunatics. I am just a regular person who happens to have an invisible disability in fact, those of you who know me already are probably surprised because you could never tell by seeing me in person. I hide it well (evil snicker lol)

I am taking a chance by putting it out there that I have Bipolar Disorder. I may scare people away because the topic makes so many people uncomfortable but I have to do it. I know that my blogging buddies will be there for me and be understanding. All of you have shown me so much support and I also have the support of my dear friends and family who love me unconditionally. I hope that you all know how much I appreciate you.

I just don't think that when one has a serious illness of any kind that they should have to hide and just because it is a "mental" illness is not a reason to keep it as a deep dark secret. It sets me free to be open and honest about something that I struggle with every day. Something, like autism, that I didn't ask for.

Even though this may sound like I am a dreary individual it's not the case there is the joy of my life in my beautiful child Griffin even at 3:00 a.m. repeating "hey mom mom " over and over and over again! Oh how I do love him so!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

My Letter to Griffin

My Dearest Griffin,

I remember the day that you were born, the joy that I felt was so overwhelming I thought that I would burst. Tears of joy streamed down my face and I knew at that moment that you would be the center of my universe for the rest of my life. You are my 'sonshine" and the love that I feel for you is so intense there are no words to describe it. It has been just you and me kiddo, and even though we don't have much we get by and perhaps we are much stronger for it. Griffin you have enriched my life more than anyone else. You have been a teacher to me that is, you and your autism have taught me about many things but mostly about myself. I have learned to be tenatious , strong, gentle, compassionate, patient, understanding, and a good listener. I feel that you have taught me far more than I could ever teach you. For this I must say that I am grateful.

There is nothing in my life more precious than your laughter. When I see you smile and hear you laugh there is no autism. All I see is a beautiful child filled with the quentessential perfection . You are as perfect as the day you were born, you are exactly as you were meant to be. No one can tell me that you have a problem, a disease, or that something is wrong with you. I see you, I understand you as Griffin with autism and if it happens to go away one day then it will be a day of celebration but if it doesn't then you are still my perfect child. You see my love, I have no expectations of you. You will progress at your own pace and I will be happy for every step that you take be it big or small. I don't know what the future holds nor do I want to plan it out as if I know what will happen. I want for us to take it one day at a time and cherish each moment in that day.

What I wish for you my sweet child is pure happiness . Since you are autistic then let us celebrate your differences, let us have pride in who you are, let us let the world know that autism or not you are Griffin and that you are an individual who deserves respect and recognition as a human being and a part of our society.

You may or may not be able to live alone or drive a car one day but you might be a writer or a mathmetician. There is one thing that I do wish for you to learn and that is to understand what danger is. If you could learn that Griffin your mommy would feel more at ease and more secure. Otherwise, I think that you are the most fantastic creature on the earth and that I have been blessed with you.

With All My Love Forever,
Your mommy

Monday, December 12, 2005

Owl, Mom, & Elmo

On November 22nd (see below) I wrote about Griffin's first written sentence which was actually typed not handwritten. This however, is Griffin's first handwritten word O W L and he knew what it meant too because he said "Owl says hoo hoo". Then I gave him some paper to see if he would continue to keep writing and sure enough, he wrote MOM and ELMO.

I spoke to his teacher about it and she told me that most NT children don't start writing until age 5 or 6 , although some children do begin to write at an earlier age. She showed me the various stages that children go through as they learn to write and apparently Griffin has either skipped a couple of stages or he zoomed right through them. Once again my little guy has excelled and I am so very proud of him. What a smart cookie.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Ten Random Facts About Me

This is in response to Christina having tagged me and I tag Kiralea, Jenn, Julie, Deb, Angela, The Other Me, Supermom,Mothersvox, Rebekah Christine, and Peggy Lou. So, now it's your turn to make your list of 10 random facts about yourself. Have Fun!

1. I used to work undercover for the FBI (no kidding)
2. In 1996 I went on a road trip from Alaska to N.C. and back (11,000 miles)
3. I broke my arm when I was 9 months old climbing out of my crib.
4. I like Brussel sprouts
5. I love walking in the rain in the summertime
6. I have kept a journal for 25 years
7. I have had cat scratch fever (and it was NO fun)
8. It has always been a dream of mine to have a horse
9. I used to be a ballroom dance instructor
10. I am originally from western N.C. (near Asheville)
Griffin is still spelling away on the computer and with his alphabet blocks his favorites are:,, sesameworkshop, and zoboomofoo. Pretty good huh? These are words that he learns on his own and even though they are not useful I think that it is great that he can spell them all by himself. Last night, like every night, we were reading books and he was sounding out the words that were new to him and using adjectives to describe each object like "red wagon" and "blue flower". Now we just need to work on making sure that he understands what each word means and not just say it.

He has been speaking more clearly since getting the tubes put in his ears last month. What a big difference it has been. I am wondering if anyone else has had that experience with tubes? It used to be that he would mostly babble all the time but now I can make out what he is saying much better. My dad said that maybe since he can hear better that he might not scream as loudly when he is happy, Griffin has this high pitched scream when he is happy and it is ear piercing, but he still does it just as loud as before.

There is one more thing that I want to bring up and it has to do with my friends who have children who are not as verbal as Griffin. I feel guilty when I "brag" about his successes and feel like I should not talk about that part of our lives. Does anyone know what I am talking about? Is it bad manners to post a message about how well my little guy is doing? Shouldn't I be more considerate of others? I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. I sure would like to know what you think about it, it sure would be helpful. Thanks

Thursday, December 08, 2005

I Feel Like I Have a Goat in the House

You see this lovely head here? It is HARD, my child has a very hard head and he has been using it like a goat.......head butting me wherever he can and it is not even funny. The thing is that he isn't upset/angry when he does it in fact, he is laughing. He doesn't charge into me it is subtle but effective especially when he gets me in a boney area like the sternum or my jawbone OUCH! It happens so quickly that I don't have time to put a pillow in front of his head for protection.

I talked to his O.T. about it and we decided that it is probably a sensory issue , that he is seeking deep pressure. I also considered that part of it might be that he is seeking attention because when he knocks his head against the wall or floor he will say, "Are you okay Griffin?" and he keeps saying it (perseverating (sp?)) until I say it back to him. Sometimes I totally ignore him if my nerves can hold out, and he eventually will stop the head banging and the perseverating also.

I started the deep pressure today and it has seemed to help, at least he hasn't gotten me with his head all day. Yipee a reason to celebrate, a pain-free day for mommy. I love the little hard head boy of mine, whether he acts like a goat or not.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Good News

I am so very happy to report that my little guy is going to sleep on schedule and is only taking the melatonin. I crush it up and put it in his chocolate milk and he drinks it all up and zonks out within about 30 minutes. Oh joy, my Griffin is sleeping naturally and all through the night, he is waking up in time to catch the bus too.

Monday, December 05, 2005

My Gift Has a Message

As I watched my sweet angel sleep I wondered about many things in the peaceful stillness of the night. I wondered if I was doing everything "right" for him , was he as happy as he seemed to be, did he know how much I loved him ?

Then there's the future that I wondered about........when will he be potty trained, will he ever learn to understand danger, will he ever be independent, would he even miss me if something ever happened to me, will he ever fall in love, will he have children , will he ever live alone and drive a car? My mind just kept going over and over all these questions until finally it occured to me........I was making a major mistake, one that could not be undone.

I was wasting that beautiful and precious moment on worrying about questions that I had no answers for. I was immersed in the past/future and completely forgot about the present. Here is my beautiful child Griffin lying there as if he were a gift , one who was sent to me to convey a message , "Live in the moment, Lora! Don't waste it on worries just look at your child and love everything about him." I knew that I would never get this time ever again, that it could pass and I wouldn't have appreciated it. I snuggled up next to him, gently kissed his cheek and told him how much I loved him. I just let the worries disappear,I listened to his heartbeat and felt the warmth of his breath on my skin as I drifted off to sleep.

What special moment do you remember?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Rebekah's Page

Rebekah's Page Right now, instead of reading my blog you really must visit Rebekah's Page and read about this absolutely amazing little 4 yr. old who is battling inoperable cancer. I know that you are a compassionate individual and that you care enough about children to learn about Rebekah and her family. Please just take a moment to meet her and I assure you that your life will never be the same. Those of you who pray please send out prayers and love for this little girl no matter what you believe in you cannot deny that this precious little child needs our help somehow, some way.........we can help her fight this battle and let her and her family know that together we can help move the mountain.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Everyone, Here Is My Beautiful Child Griffin

Here is my precious "sonshine", I will be posting pictures from now on. If it wasn't for my dear friend Tina, suggesting that I put pictures on the blog then I wouldn't have still. Thank you bunches Tina for your support and encouragement.

If you haven't seen Tina's blog it is on my blogroll: Child With Autism, check it out she is an incredible mommy to K.C. with a huge heart of gold, one of the most compassionate people I know!

There's not much to report other than Griffin was really sick yesterday but woke me at 2:30 this morning fully recovered. He is not one to get sick very often and when he does it doesn't last for long. We are very fortunate because he has never had an ear infection either, all in all a healthy little guy.

Weather report for Anchorage, Alaska: it is now 14 degrees, dark, and gloomy but there is snow everywhere and it looks like a winter gorgeous!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

A Letter to Family and Friends for Holiday Gatherings

Dear Family and Friends was written for the purpose of it being sent to relatives and hosts of holiday gatherings who might need a crash course in what to expect from their guest with autism.

Dear Family and Friends:

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 disability called Autism, or what some people refer to as a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). Autism/PDD is a neurodevelopmental disorder which makes it hard for me to understand the environment around me. I have barriers in my brain that you can't see, but which 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 so hard to understand people and at the same time, make myself understood.

People with autism have different abilities: Some may not speak, some write beautiful poetry, others are whizzes in math (Albert Einstein was thought to be autistic), 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 with lots of other people is like standing next to a moving freight train and trying to decide how and when to jump aboard. I feel frightened and confused a lot of the time. This is why I need to have things the same as much as possible. Once I learn how things happen, I can get by OK. But if something, anything, changes, then I have to re-learn the situation all over again! It is very hard.

When you try to talk to me, I often can't understand what you say because there is a lot of distraction around. I have to concentrate very hard to hear and understand one thing at a time. You might think I am ignoring you--I am not. Rather, I am hearing everything and not knowing what is most important to respond to. Holidays are exceptionally hard because there are so many different people, places, and things going on that are out of my ordinary realm. This may be fun and adventurous for most people, but for me, it's very hard work and can be 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 not sit at the meal table, do not think I am misbehaved or that my parents have no control over me. Sitting in one place for even five minutes is often impossible for me. I feel so antsy and overwhelmed by all the smells, sounds, and people--I just have to get up and move about. Please don't hold up your meal for me--go on without me, and my parents will handle the situation the best way they know how. Eating in general is hard for me. If you understand that autism is a sensory processing disorder, it's no wonder eating is a problem! Think of all the senses involved with eating. Sight, smell, taste, touch, AND all the complicated mechanics that are involved. Chewing and swallowing is something that a lot of people with autism have trouble with. I am not being picky--I literally cannot eat certain foods as my sensory system and/or oral motor coordination are impaired.

Don't be disappointed If Mom hasn't dressed me in starch and bows. It's because she knows how much stiff and frilly clothes can drive me buggy! 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 controlling. In a sense, I am being controlling, because that is how I try to fit into the world around me (which is so hard to figure out!) Things have to be done in a wayI 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. Mom and Dad have no control over how my autism makes me feel inside.

People with autism often have little things that they do to help themselves feel more comfortable.The grown ups 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 your world. Sometimes I cannot stop myself from talking, singing, or doing an activity I enjoy. The grown-ups call this "perseverating" which is kinda like 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. Please be respectful to my Mom and Dad if they let me "stim" for awhile as they know me best and what helps to calm me.

Remember that my Mom and Dad have to watch me much more closely than the average child. This is for my own safety, and preservation of your possessions. It hurts my parents' feelings to be criticized for being over protective, or condemned for not watching me close enough. They are human and have been given an assignment intended for saints. My parents are good people and need your support. Holidays are filled with sights, sounds, and smells. The average household is turned into a busy, frantic, festive place. Remember that this may be fun for you, but it's very 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. I am a unique person--an interesting person. I will find my place at this celebration that is comfortable for us all, as long as you'll try to view the world through my eyes!

Author Unknown

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Hi Moms, Dads and Fellow Bloggers!

I have changed the settings so that anyone can leave a comment and not just my fellow bloggers. So, comment away people, I love hearing from you.

If you haven't tried one of the forums I highly recommend it. There are two on my blogroll : parenting_autism and let's talk about autism. I have met so many great people who have helped me out just like my fellow bloggers have and I am so very glad to be a part of so many different "families". Thanks to all of you who visit my blog and especially those of you who are kind enough to leave comments for me.

I am having writer's block tonight so that's about it for now. Have a great day!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Learning How to Talk to My Child

Thanksgiving Day Griffin and I went over to Griffin's teacher's house for dinner. It was a great day, Griffin played so nicely with the toys and watched a movie quietly while I got to actually have some adult conversation. At dinner Griffin sat between Kathleen and me and ate his little pizza that she had made for him because she knew that it was his favorite. The evening went rather smoothly with Griffin responding to Kathleen much better than he does to me which of course is no surprise because that's what kids do isn't it? They always behave much better with other people than they do for mommy. It's just too easy to push mommy's buttons because they know exactly where they are.

As we were getting ready to go I had asked Griffin if he would help me clean up the toys and Kathleen stood there watching as I was trying in vain to get Griffin to help. Kathleen asked Griffin if he would like to have Ernie, he said "yes", so then she said, " you clean up the toys and you can have Ernie." I am watching in awe of how easy she made it seem and after the toys were cleaned up she gave him Ernie. Then I asked Griffin if he wanted to go outside to which he replied "no". I tried to get Griffin to put on his coat and hat to get ready to go outside but once again failed miserably .

Kathleen finally let me know what I was doing to cause Griffin to be uncooperative. I was asking him to do things rather than telling him to do them. I immediately understood that she was right and that I had been giving him choices that he ultimately replied in the negative to instead of telling him and giving him no choice in the matter. It made me remember what my friend Sue had once told me as she recounted being a nurse, she said that when dealing with a patient the nurse doesn't ask if it's "okay" to put in a feeding tube or an iv because it is something that must be done and with Griffin it is no different. I must tell him what has to be done.

Here I am 41 yrs. old and feeling like a little first grader who was just scolded by the teacher(lol) but in a good way. I was glad that Kathleen corrected me because she was right. I have got to learn to talk to my child as if he were ............a child, one who needs direction and boundaries. It occurred to me that I just needed to be more direct and confident not only with my parenting skills but in general.

It all made sense to me and I stood there and laughed kind of because I was slightly embarrassed but also because I felt silly that I didn't know how to talk to my own child. I guess that we lean new things each day that help us to be better parents and who better to learn it from than a teacher? Aren't they just wonderful?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

How Do I Get Griffin to Sleep?

This is a question that I need help with desperately. I would like to know how you help your autistic children to get to sleep on time and on a regular basis. Griffin has great difficulty getting to sleep when mommy wants him to sleep. I have a routine that we follow, we use PECS, there's no TV time for 2 hrs before bedtime, and he won't take the melatonin (which used to help) anymore since he can taste it in all the foods I have tried to use to disguise it in. I have Clonodine to use to help him sleep and I only use 1/4 tablet when the recommended dose is 1/2 - 1 tablet but I really don't want to use drugs to sedate my child. Clonodine is a drug used to treat high blood pressure in adults. When I gave him 1/2 tablet he turned into a zombie.

Are there any of you who do use medication to help your child to sleep? If so, do you feel that it is relatively safe? Griffin is not quite 4 yrs. old so I wondering how safe can it be to give him meds on a regular basis.

The problem is that without the meds he stays awake until midnight regardless of how much exercise or mental stimulation he has had. It is like he gets a second wind right around the time I want him to go to sleep and then he is wired for sound. I have tried a pressure vest and deep pressure, I have tried calming techniques, writing the words on paper, and no sugar long before bedtime, keeping everything on a strict schedule fpr example: dinner, bath, reading a book, and trying to get him to sleep/snuggle time.

I was just hoping that maybe some of you could help me out with suggestions or sharing your experiences with me and maybe one of them might just work for my little guy. I am open to anything no matter how wild it may seem. I just feel uncomfortable giving him drugs if there is something else out there that might work

Thank you for your input, I really appreciate it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Griffin's First Written Sentence

Griffin loves to type on the computer keyboard and spell out his favorite words and last night he came up to me saying "I want write chocolate milk". So I typed out chocolate milk for him then he hit backspace and deleted the words. Griffin started typing as he told me "Mama I want chocolate milk" and this is what he typed, his first written (phonetic) sentence: mommomiwtchocolatemilk. Hurray for Griffin!!!!!!!! Guess what? Griffin got his chocolate milk!

I e-mailed the sentence to his teacher and she wrote back telling me that when he was tested for reading last week that he's reading at the end of kindergarten level and with the sentence that he wrote/typed out he is writing at kindergarten level. That's pretty awesome for a kiddo who isn't even 4 yrs. old yet.

WOW! I am not surprised because he loves words so very much and he is hyperlexic but for him to be able to type out what he desires on the computer gives me great hope of him being able to communicate much better. All I can say is that I am so very grateful for the education that he is getting and how wonderful his teacher & therapists are in being so instrumental in his success. I can't take much credit myself because all I do is encourage him to type on the keyboard and to read books.

Way to go Griffin, I am so very proud of you buddy!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Thanks To You For Your Support

I can't let another day pass without sending out my great appreciation to all of you who have supported me by leaving comments and words of encouragement on my blog. Perhaps it seems like no big thing to you to do something so small but to me it is a big deal. At the risk of sounding pitiful I do sometimes feel isolated way up here in Alaska far away from my family and I get pretty lonely at times. I am guilty of being a hermit and not going out as much as we really should (I don't do well socially) but I am working on it for Griffin's sake.

But........the good news is that I have all of you incredible moms and dads who show me support and write wonderful blogs which lends me support by helping me feel less alone. You may not realize it but each time you leave a comment I get teary eyed because it touches me to know that other people really do care. I would like to add that the same goes for those of you whom I have met through the autism forum(listed on the blogroll). I love exchanging ideas, information, and stories with you. You all have helped me a lot when I was in a rough spot and had nowhere else to turn.

This blog is cathartic for me it helps me to express myself and to channel my otherwise useless energy into something constructive in hopes that my stories might help someone else to feel less alone/lonely. I have found a new family here in this community and I'm ever so grateful to have met all of you and I truly do look forward to reading your comments and your blogs. I have even met one mom who is bipolar also and has an autistic son just like me! I was sure that there was not anyone else out there like me, I mean what are the chances?

I am still working on my blogroll and adding as many of your blogs that I can to it, I wish that I knew how to do a separate blogroll just for the individual blogs, If anyone has advice on how I can do this I would really appreciate it. There are so many nice looking blogs out there and I just don't understand how it is done with all the neat little pictures and all the different lists. Oh well, it is a piece of work in progress I guess.

Thanks again to all of you, you really do make my day and put a big smile on my face!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Being a Single Stay at Home Mom

I started this blog out with the premise of just writing about Griffin and not about myself but I feel that it is time to give a little insight on what it's like to be me: a single stay at home mom. Let it be clear that I am not here to complain or to point a finger at anyone for the situation that I am in. I made choices that put me where I am today and I am grateful for all that I have which is an awesome and precious child and all the rest is just a minor inconvenience. Griffin and I live off of public assistance and his SSI check because I am not able to work full time due to Griffin not being able to go to regular daycare. Griffin goes to school 6 hours a day but his child psychiatrist recommended that he not go to daycare besides the school time stating that it would be detrimental to his progress and well being.

We do not receive child support because Griffin's father disappeared when I told him that I was pregnant so we don't know where he is presently. However, I will never speak of him in a negative way because if it wasn't for him I wouldn't have my beautiful child and besides it would be disrespectful to Griffin to demean his father. Some people may beg to differ on this subject but once again it was a choice that I made that I take full responsibility for and blame no one else. It would be nice for Griffin's father to be in his life and to help us out financially but since that's not the case I just get by the best I can and know that one day I will be in better shape financially. Besides, we aren't hurting for anything our medical is paid for and that is most important because it provides Griffin with all the therapy that he needs.

Life as a single mom is tough there's no doubt about that and especially since I have no family here in Alaska and little support otherwise. I don't have any friends who can watch Griffin for me on a regular basis so that I can have a much needed break but so what, it is just a fact of my life and something that I have just become accustomed to. It can be really hard and quite frustrating when Griffin is having his tantrums and there's no way to escape the screaming and crying so I have just learned to have a weird sense of humor about it and find ways to laugh when I really want to cry.

I have to give credit is due, I have a loving and understanding family who fully support me with their heart and soul which means the world to me. The only thing is that they all live in N.C. and S.C. but fortunately they have free long distance and we talk a lot over the phone. Griffin also has an awesome group of people teaching him at school and their hard work and dedication is made apparent by his excellent progress. This is great support for me as well since they take care of him for 6 hours each day which gives me a break to do some things that I enjoy. I do work part time while Griffin is in school but right now it is sporadic at best and I need more education before I am able to work more regularly.

I am a very proactive mom who does a great deal of research on autism and I am the number one advocate for my child. Eventually I would like to volunteer to be an advocate for early intervention and autism. One major thing that I forgot to mention is that I have Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, and Auditory Processing Disorder. I am being tested in January for autism because I believe that I have Asperger's. These things do no define me but are a huge part of my life and they do interfere with my ability to process information therefore I do have difficulty with verbal communication and with completing tasks. I am presently on excellent medications for my bipolar disorder and they help to keep my moods stable thus I handle situations much easier.

All and all I have a good life regardless of the minor inconveniences. I have the most incredible child that I ever could have imagined and that is all I need to make me smile and just let the rest of life take it course. I am eternally grateful for all life's treasures , I welcome the challenges that I face with each passing day and have learned to love living in the world of autism.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Diaper Dilemma

Just the other day Griffin woke with a poopy diaper and when I tried to change it he pitched a tantrum. He tried and tried to keep that diaper on crying and screaming with all that he could muster up but I finally got it off. Then he proceeded to cry even harder pleading with me to put poopy diaper back on and I couldn't figure it out for the life of me. Why oh why would he want this diaper back on? Was it a sensory issue or was it that he wanted to have his way no matter what and he just felt like exerting his independence like a typical child of his age?

My little guy was crying as if he had some emotional attachment to this dirty diaper. I finally got him cleaned up and put the soiled diaper outside. Then he wouldn't allow me to put a clean diaper on him while still throwing a tantrum. After about an hour and a half he was standing in the kitchen a urinated in the floor. "That's just great!" I exclaimed, still wondering what the heck I was going to do to get that diaper on him.

I got online to the autism forum asking for help desperately, I made phone calls to my family asking for their suggestions and yet no one really had an answer. After two hours of this tantruming and me trying everything undet the sun to get a clean diaper on him...........Griffin began to show some interest in listening to his Teletubbies cd. So, I told him that if he wanted to listen to it then he had to put on a clean diaper and sure enough he allowed the diaper to be put on without any struggle or defiance. Whoopie! I was so thrilled and exhausted that I had to call up and write to everyone to celebrate Griffin wearing a clean diaper.

Isn't it funny how such simple things can become so complicated? Don't we all take for granted the fact that our children usually allow us to change them so easily and that they typically don't want their poopy diaper back on?

Please feel free to comment on this situation and let me know what your thoughts are about what it could have been that caused him to do this.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

There's Nothing Like the Power of Positive Reinforcement and Praise

I recently attended a conference about how to work with children and adults with special needs through positive reinforcement and praise. I left there with a renewed sense of confidence that I could raise my son with love without having to raise my hand in anger. It has been my experience since working with this method that my son responds more readily and that my level of frustration has decreased tremendously. Now when Griffin has a tantrum I merely do what is referred to as "planned" ignoring; having a plan behind the act of ignoring as opposed to "plain" ignoring. I make sure that he is safe and that when the tantrum is through that I find a way to praise him for his desired behavior. Plain ignoring is when one does nothing at all and has no plan of action during or after the "undesired" behavior has stopped.

Positive reinforcement and praise not only builds self esteem but it creates loving, nurturing, and trusting relationships within the family structure. Caring relationships is the key to building confidence in a child and with a child of special needs it is absolutely essential that he/she knows that the parent/caregiver can be trusted and that he/she does not have to live in fear of being hit. It can be argued whether a child with autism understands what a spanking means but why take the chance? Why hurt a child when there are much more effective means of getting the desired behavior by being positive and caring?

Yes, caring takes time, it takes patience, caring means helping and caring is fragile but isn't your child worth it? Isn't that what parenting, good parenting is all about? Caring is part of a chain of events: we care, they trust us, they learn to trust themselves, their confidence thus their behavior improves significantly, and last but not least of all, they learn to care for others.

Sometimes all it takes is just a few moments to back off and away from a frustrating situation that is about to become inflammitory. Taking a few deep breaths and reassesing the problem at hand can be the key to ultimate success. Reinforcement is not "unfair" nor does it spoil a child who needs it. The beauty of it is that reinforcers get back what they give. Imagine how much love and affection that can be created just by sharing a positive attitude.

The more that positive reinforcement and praise is applied the more that the "problem time" is reduced because naturally we all love to be loved and respond accordingly. Give it a try and you might just see that the challenges that you face are simply and yes, sometimes easily solved. Provide for your child choices that are fun and exciting, try engaging activities, start small, take baby steps if need be, but ultimately you will find that there is no better feeling than a sense of accomplishment and pride in being a loving parent.

Sunday, October 23, 2005


Griffin has speech therapy every week both in his preschool classroom and in a private therapy center. His speech therapist, Nancy, evaluated him and found that his expressive vocabulary is equal to that of his typical peers 3 years 6 months but his receptive vocabulary is only at 2 years 3 months. It is usually( with NT kiddos) the other way around with receptive vocab being much higher than the expressive. The reason why is that Griffin has hyperlexia, which I just recently found out. I didn't know that there was a word for this condition; his love for letters, reading, and spelling.

Hyperlexia: The presence of advanced ability to read compared to the ability to understand spoken language.
Children with hyperlexia have a precocious ability to read words, far above what would be expected at their chronological age or an intense fascination with letters or numbers; significant difficulty in understanding verbal language; and abnormal social skills, difficulty in socializing and interacting appropriately with people.

Now that I know this it helps me to be able to work with him in reading comprehension. Griffin has shown me that he can not only read words but he can spell them as well; just yesterday he came up to me with 4 little alphabet blocks that spelled out P O O L. At the same time he was saying "let's go to the pool". He has been taking swim classes and he either figured it out from the word seen while at the pool or he just figured out how to spell it phonetically. Either way, I say BRAVO little guy!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Living In the Moment

Griffin has taught me many things but most of all I have learned from him that every minute of the day is precious, especially when I am with him. If I am worried about paying bills for instance, and he is in the other room laughing and playing, then I am missing out on a beautiful moment and there's no going back. There are times when I catch myself getting frustrated with him because I am not paying attention to what he is trying to communicate to me. It makes me sad to think of the times when I could have offered more to Griffin by giving him my undivided attention but I have to move beyond that now and make sure that the present is different.

Griffin deserves to have the best of everything that I can give to him and that means making sure that he is always my priority regardless of whatever else is going on. Sometimes it is difficult and it takes lots of practice but he is well worth the effort. It is important that I find beauty in each and every moment of the day to appreciate the smiles, the laughter, and even the tough times. There is something to be learned in every experience whether it be "good" or "bad". For example, I have learned from Griffin each time he has a tantrum because it has taught me to be more patient and to use more positive reinforcement in order to avoid more tantrums in the future.

I must accept Griffin for who he is now, in this moment, and to not place expectations on him because that would only set me up for disappointment. I have chosen to celebrate our every success; even though some may seem small they are monumental to me. I do my best to not take life for granted, to live in the moment, and to love every minute of it!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Griffin's Laughter

There's only one thing that brings me quintessential joy and that is the sound of Griffin's laughter.

Instead of being upset about my child having autism and what may or may not be the cause of it I have decided to dedicate this blog to all the joy in our lives and how we cope with the autism in a fun and positive way. The best way I know to cope with the challenges we have each day is to stay in the moment and take in everything that life has to offer. I give Griffin unconditional love as he has given to me, I cherish each and every smile and hug I receive from my precious "sonshine".

Griffin has been a teacher to me and in many ways his autism has taught me as well. I have learned how to be tenacious, relentless, patient, gentle, compassionate, and accepting. All of these I do with all my heart and not anyone or anything can change the way I feel about my awesome little guy.

We've been through some tough times and I don't think that I would change any of it, for all the experiences and challenges we have faced and overcome have all been a blessing in one way or another and at the end of the day I must say that I am grateful for it all.
Would I take away the autism if I could? I guess that I can honestly say, I don't know because Griffin is who he is and I love him just the way he is. I don't think that it is healthy to think about how life would be without the autism. I can only hope that Griffin lives a productive life and remains the "happy camper" that he is today..........forever!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Home Sweet Home

Alaska is so awesome and always so beautiful. I love living here. It is like no other place on earth. The summers are warm, we have lots of sunlight and everything is so green and pristine. The moutains are majestic especially when covered with snow in the winter. When we finally do have darkness there's the the aurora borealis that dance in the sky and take your breath away. Anchorage has nearly 300,000 residents and there are 90 different languages spoken here. So, there is lots of diversity and plenty of culture too.

Monday, September 19, 2005

All The Wonderful Individuals Who Enrich Our Lives

These are the people whom I would like to thank for making our lives more special. Note: I will constantly be updating this list just in case I accidentally left someone out , it will only be temporary. Love to you all: My loving parents whose support gets me through each day , my compassionate sister Lisa and her family, my big little brother Michael , Lisa, Hayden, and Hayley (who always brings smiles into our day), Sheila Sellers (dear friend and educator), Gayle Baker (O.T.), Lisa Miller (SLP), Nancy (SLP), Tracy (O.T.), Ev Irving (preschool teacher), Kathleen (preschool teacher), Nina (our sweet friend), Dr. Baker and his staff, Dr. Breenen and staff, Ali and Wade (our awesome buddies), Susan and family (our long distance friends), Sue, Tom, Hemi and Taylor (super friends and great support) , Chunnisee (where would I be without your help?), and Marilyn (thanks for listening).

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Dealing with Autism

Griffin was diagnosed when he was 18 months however, I had noticed at around 15 months that something was not right when he wouldn't respond when his name was called. I immediately had him evaluated by the Program for Infants and Children and we started occupational therapy and other early intervention strategies. As a matter of fact, I attribute Griffin's success and growth to that early intervention. I don't believe that he would have come as far as he has had we not started working with him so soon. Griffin is now pretty high functioning and very intelligent. He is doing some things that a typical 6 year old might be doing like reading, counting, he recognizes and names all his shapes, colors and a multitude of animals. Now that Griffin is in preschool and has a regular routine he has been sleeping much better; before school he had to take Melatonin to help him sleep. I think that the routine helps in many ways because his tantrums have nearly stopped completely and he has been eating a greater variety of foods as well. Although Griffin is a big fan of watching videos and probably watches more than his share I believe that they have helped him to develop his vocabulary not to mention watching him dance and sing is quite entertaining. Abby is Griffin's service dog, she helps him with his sensory issues when we go out in public and he interacts with her at home which has helped them to create a bond with one another. I got her because when Griffin was around 2 years old my friend had brought over her dog and we noticed that while the dog was there Griffin had no self-injurious behaviors and ever since he has had no problems out in public or at home with sensory issues. Abby doesn't even do anything actually just her presence has an effect on Griffin. She is a patient and tolerant wonderful gift in our lives and I got her from the animal shelter she's not even professionally trained. In Alaska service dogs are not required to be professionally trained. I have been a pro-active parent and searched out all the resources available to Griffin. So, he is now getting speech therapy and occupational therapy at school as well as with private therapists. Recently Griffin has shown signs of interacting with his peers which I am absolutely thrilled with of course. It is such a thrill to watch him grow each day and become more and more independent. This is what I wish for my beautiful child to become an independent adult who can function in society as well as his non autistic peers. I wish for him that he learns to fear danger and be aware of his surroundings so that he can live safely and not wander off as so many autistic children and adults tend to do. Whatever Griffin is now and whatever he does ultimately become he will always be my perfect little guy. Because, you see, Griffin's autism to me is not a curse nor a problem, I see it as just what has happened, unfortunately, and as much as I try to help him to overcome it I will never believe that my son is "abnormal'. He is simply Griffin and I love him exactly the way he is! I accept the autism as something that may never go away. But, Iam also hopeful that the treatments and therapies that have helped him will continue to help him and there is a distinct possiblilty that he will mainstream by kindergarten and more so with each passing year.