Single Moms Raising Autistic Sons

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Friday, December 29, 2006

Have A Happy New Year

With the approaching new year I think back of this time last year and wow what a huge difference and what a long way we have come. I have much to be grateful for and one of those many things is my mental health. Since moving down to South Carolina I have noticed a big difference in my well being and the lack of a feeling of depression. I don't know if anyone remembers but this time last year I was just coming out of the mental health crisis center in Anchorage and I had to leave Griffin with Kathleen for a week and it was such a painful and empty feeling that I thought that I would never get through BUT, I made it through and here I am. There are many things that I miss about Anchorage and one of those things is having my own space and the independence that I don't have here (yet) but it is but a small price to pay for having my mental health back (though never fully and having help with Griffin. Since my last entry I have found out that the medicaid down here does in fact pay for OT for Griffin. I am so thrilled! He has an appointment for the 15th for an hour eval. I am keeping in touch with Gayle, Griffin's previous OT in Anchorage, and we are going to compare notes once he is up and running with his new OT. Just in case there is someone reading this who doesn't know what OT means, it is Occupational Therapist or Occupational Therapy and if you have a child with autism I highly recommend seeing one because it has made a world of difference for Griffin. I don't know yet if the OT here does swimming or not but I am eager to find out what is in store. My time on the computer is still quite limited and I have been really quite busy but I have been thinking of you, all my blogger friends, and hope to get by your blogs soon to see what is up with you and to say "Hi" and to let you know that I still care and am interested in what is going on in your lives. I wish you all a very happy new year and may you have great success in all that you do. May you be surrounded by those who love you and whom you love and have a safe and wonderful New Year's Eve. Oh, I forgot to mention that the photo above is of my niece Hayley with Griffin, he really seems to like her and seems to enjoy all the attention that he gets from her as she loves to snuggle up with him and give him lots of hugs. Thank you to all of you with whom Griffin has had contact and those of you who have helped us in the past year because we wouldn't be where we are today, doing so well, if not for you. We love you all very much and miss the ones who are far away in Anchorage. It makes sad to think about all that we left behind in Anchorage but now is the time to live in the moment and appreciate all that it has to offer, never to forget those we love and miss but to be strong and look forward to the bright and promising future. Hugs to you all and Happy Happy New Year!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Happy Holidays

Griffin was thrilled to get his Big Bird, a present from our dear friend in Alaska, Glenn. He seemed to not be able to grasp the concept of Christmas but did understand the concept of giving gifts because he was spending a lot of time wrapping up presents (which were his toys) in tissue and tape to give to NaNa and PaPa with a bow on top of course. Griffin did really well with the chaos going on in the house, he did do some stimming but only briefly though. The weather is rainy and has been for the past few days and this damp cold is more difficult to tolerate than the dry cold of Alaska. It is hard to understand, I'm sure, if one has not felt the difference but even when it was in the single digits in Alaska I could stand it better than the damp 40's here in SC. I hope that all of you are having happy holidays no matter what holiday you celebrate/observe I hope that you days are full of love and laughter. We are enjoying being with our family, it sure is nice after having been all alone in Alaska for 16 years, well not totally alone, we did have some friends there indeed but for the most part Griffin and I have spent most of our time there alone/all by ourselves. I don't know how I made it by myself for 4 1/2 years raising Griffin by myself especially now that I have the loving support of my parents/family here. Hugs to you all and a very happy holiday!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Griffin went to the doctor yesterday because he needed a new prescription for his Clonidine. I had my concerns about the medication that I had presented to him such as: Does Clonidine, being a medication for high blood pressure, lower Griffin's otherwise normal blood pressure? The doctor answered with: Clonidine does not lower "normal" blood pressure only "high" blood pressure. That was a big relief. I asked him about Griffin waking up in the middle of the night despite him having taken the .2mg of Clonidine and having zonked out. He told me that the medication only lasts 4-6 hours and then wears off (that is when Griffin wakes up). So, it is up to me at that point as to whether or not I want to give him more meds to get back to sleep. Usually if it is around 5 a.m. or so I will just tough it out and stay up with him and not give him more meds but if it is earlier than that I will give him more meds in order to help him get back to sleep. We also discussed the fact that Griffin might be having night terrors and the doctor explained to me that he is in a transition between stages of sleep and they are hard to awaken and very difficult to console because they are still asleep and do not hear or see you. Then Griffin got 3 shots: DTAP, Polio, and the 2nd Chicken Pox vaccinations. I feel so bad giving him his vaccinations but he cannot school without them at least as far as I know that is the law but I was wondering if there is anyone who has stopped giving vaccinations due to the possible thimerisol in the vaccine. My sister has not given her child any vaccines at all and her daughter is 2 years old but I am afraid to not give Griffin his required vaccines even though some of the illnesses are pretty much non-existent anymore. I would love to hear what you have to say about what your opinion is about vaccines/thimerisol and whether or not you think that they are necessary and can my child attend school without these vaccines. I need to do some research and find out whether or not he can go to school without them. Othewise, Griffin is doing great and the toilet training is coming along wonderfully. He uses the toilet by himself now and will even go when I ask him if he needs to. I usually tell him that it is time to go "potty" but he now knows very well whether or not he really has to go, so asking him if he needs to go and leading him into the bathroom he will then decide if he truly needs to go or not. Of course he still has times when he is too involved to take out time to go to the toilet but that is not so often anymore. Just in case I don't write again soon then I wish you all a happy and joyous holiday, may you and yours have lots of smiles and laughter and be surrounded by those you love the most.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

My Complaints About the IEP Meeting

As you may know already if you have read this blog for very long, I am a HUGE fan of the TEACCH method because it has worked for Griffin for as long as he has been in school which will be 2 years now. I realize that ABA works wonderfully for many of your children and that there are HUGE fans of ABA out there. That is just great for all of you but for Griffin he has become accustomed to TEACCH and thrived with it and I just do not think that he would do well with ABA or at least not as I understand it. This new teacher that is supposed to be his educator is only trained in ABA and has no clue as to what TEACCH is nor does she have a clue that it is totally inappropriate to tell a child that he is a "good boy" as apposed to telling him that he did a "good job". This is all just the surface of what is bothering me. She told me that she was very proud of the fact that she does exactly the same things every single day, day in and day out. I do know my child well enough to know that that simply would not work for him. He would be bored out of his mind if he had to only do the same things, that he already knows, over and over again. Not only that but then she tells me that they have circle time for THIRTY minutes!!!! That is absolutely outrageous and even Kathleen said that it was way too long for Griffin. Then she said in an almost gleeful manner when I asked her what method she used for behavior management she said that they used redirection first (she didn't say that they tried it more than once) then they,the children, are made to sit in a Rifton chair and held down if necessary. I was totally dumbfounded!As she turns to me and asked me if that was okay with me. I found it so appauling that I was speechless, then I found the words and protested and replied that NO it was not okay with me. On top of everything else, the class is only 2.5 hours long and they do not have gym nor do they go outside to play so I just don't see how there can be time for him to socialize. Griffin is used to being challenged and if he is not challenged then he is bored and then he will act out and be "disciplined" and then boy oh boy, will I ever be an exceptionally upset parent then. Perhaps to some of you this does not seem like much of a problem but I am really upset with the IEP meeting and I am going to demand another one and this time I am going to have an advocate there with me from the Austism Society of SC. And yes I did know when we moved down here that the schools would be "poor" at best and that the teachers here wouldn't have anything close to the education and intellegence or the experience that Mrs. Kathleen has in Anchorage, Alaska. She was trully a blessing indeed. There is more to it than I have mentioned but I just get so darn upset then I can hardly type and will have to continue on later. I am seriously considering finding a private school for him until after he turns 5, or rather until the end of the school year and then get him ready for kindergarten. He has been working at Kindergarten level in Kathleen's class, working on tasks individually, and he has shown signs of interacting with his peers in his classroom and outside of it. I need to go now and go to sleep. I thank you all ahead of time for all your support. Please let me know, from those of you with lots of experience, how you think that this might turn out and what I might be able to do about what I consider to be "inappropriate education" and do you agree with the individuals who told me that restraining a child is illegal unless there is some kind of behavior plan in place or something like that? It is all so overwhelming for me and the darn IEP meeting consisted of talk about other people and somebody's colonoscopy, I was beginning to wonder what the heck I was doing there and was it just some kind of social event for them. The one positive thing that I can say is that the director of special needs from the district office seemed really really nice and the teacher seemed to have lots of enthusiasm but most of all the speech path. was the only one whom I found to be totally professional and focused on my child and what is best for him. I will continue later because I didn't even mention anything about the goals, or the lack thereof. Love to you all , thanks and I hope to have time to visit your blogs soon because I miss you terribly and I've got to get an e-mail to Tina and the Boys too. I haven't forgotten you guys.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Just a Quick Entry, Then I Will Cry

I am sooooooo upset that I could cry for a couple of reasons, one being that I just downloaded my pictures from Anchorage and our trip and all the people that we left behind and only to find out that they were not retained in my computer like they usually are so now I have forever lost those images and it just makes me want to cry!!!!!!! The second reason and the most important reason that I want to cry (really bad) is that my worst nightmare of Griffin's education pretty much has come true. I can't go into it right now because I am so upset, so upset in fact that I don't even want to talk about it. Let's just say that it is a good thing that it is Christmas/holiday vacation for the schools down here otherwise the teacher and the administration would be getting an earfull from me about what their idea of an appropriate education is for my child. I just knew that it would be the farthest from Kathleen and that I would never ever be so lucky as to have such a wonderful, intellegent, kind, and considerate teacher such as her but for sure I didn't think that it would be THIS bad. I know that you are probably eager to hear what happened in Griffin's IEP meeting but unfortunately I just can't do it right now and will have to come back to it. I think that I am going to do some crying now and get it out of my system. Otherwise, we are both doing great. Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Griffin has adjusted great, interacting quite well with my parents, family, and complete strangers. Although it is not even close to the low temperatures of Anchorage it is still quite chilly here sometimes in the teens. Griffin pays no mind to the chill in the air and I think that it is exhilirating and refreshing so we have no complaints. Nothing can compare to sub-zero temps like we had in Alaska so it is nearly tropical here, I do miss the snow though in a way. It is nice to be able to move around freely without having to worry about road conditions though. It is a bittersweet situation because there are good and bad points to each place. I have been kind of helping my parents out with remodeling their house, helping my dad put down the hardwood floors. We finally received all the packages that I had shipped all except my computer that is. So, not only am I staying busy but I still have little time on this laptop and am still waiting for my computer to arrive. We went shopping with my family yesterday in Asheville, NC for Griffin's school clothes and I am going to go and register him for school today. I didn't get the IEP in the boxes that were shipped until last Friday so we are just now able to do that. I am reluctant about putting him into this new classroom because I am not sure about the teacher or her ciriculum, nobody could possibly compare to the awesome talents and skills that Kathleen possesses. I know that Griffin is very intellegent and will do well no matter where he is or what he is doing but I wish for him to love his new teacher just as he has loved Kathleen and for us to become good friends too. Am I wishing for the moon here? Do I expect/desire too much? Is it unrealistic to hope to have a similar situation as we had in Anchorage at Nunaka Valley School? Kathleen, if you are reading this we miss you terribly and thank you again for all that you have done for us, we love you dearly. I am still waiting for the Dept. of Social Services to get in gear and get Griffin's medicaid up and running so that we can begin Speech again, I would say OT also but I found out that in SC medicaid doesn't cover OT unfortunately. Well, it is time to make sometimg for Griffin's breakfast so I need to get going. I will hopefully get my computer before Thursday so that I can send some e-mail and read and comment on blogs again but until then I won't be online for long but I wish you all well and I hope to make another entry soon/before the holidays that is. Take care all of you

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

We Are Here

This is just a short post to let everyone know that we are here in South Carolina and doing well. Griffin did do very well on the airplane(s) and in fact did not have a meltdown. He has been enjoying himself here at my parent's home. I can't stay online for very long right now because I am tying up the phone line but I will be back soon to post a new entry and give some details of what's going on down here. Love to all my friends and big hugs especially to Tina and the Boys. I haven't had a chance to check my e-mail or to send any out because I don't have my computer yet and my time on this computer is very limited but I will get to it soon.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

It's Time to Go

I'm feeling so overwhelmed because I have so much to do and I just don't know how I am going to get it all done in time. It sure would be nice if I had some help! I don't even have time to sit here and compose an entry. Gotta run, Griffin will soon be here and then we've got to go to speech. I am shipping my computer tomorrow so I doubt that I will have time to write again before we leave so GOODBYE EVERYONE for now and see you when we get to South Carolina. Stay well my friends and love & hugs to you all! Wish us a safe journey and NO meltdowns.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Happy Friday

Well, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving and we are truly blessed with dear friends who really care about us. I hope that all of you had a great time as well. Griffin played both alone and somewhat with other children. He has this propensity towards playing with little kiddos, those much smaller than he and when he is near them he totally interacts with them face to face. It is so darn cute to watch. He will bend over in an attempt to get down to their size, look them straight in the face, and begin talking to them and often trying to hug them as well. I think that I can safely say that he is "playing" with them when attempting to do this and I believe that I can also say that this is progress as far as socialization goes.

Sorry for not having any pictures of Griffin, I think that the last one that I took was of Griffin in the snow out on our deck however, I don't have anymore because I have not been taking photos with the digital camera. I hope to remember it before we leave and take some unforgettable pics of Alaska and my little precious kiddo.

That's all for now folks, have a happy Friday and a wonderful weekend.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

Be thankful that you don't already have everything you desire. If you did, what would there be to look forward to? Be thankful when you don't know something, for it gives you the opportunity to learn.Be thankful for the difficult times. During those times you grow. Be thankful for your limitations, because they give you opportunities for improvement. Be thankful for each new challenge, because it will build your strength and character.Be thankful for your mistakes. They will teach you valuable lessons. Be thankful when you're tired and weary, because it means you've made a difference.It's easy to be thankful for the good things. A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are also thankful for the setbacks. Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.Find a way to be thankful for your troubles, and they can become your blessings. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!~ Unknown

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Just Waiting

I'm just waiting now until it's time to do the last minute packing and cleaning. Griffin is doing well, no more signs of him knowing that something is up. He's been acting quite himself, the happy little camper that he is, and still showing signs of great progress. Today he is a bit hyper but I am glad that he is active and playing well on his own because we are staying inside all day due to the freezing cold temps. It's a good thing that there's not much to do because I am feeling really unmotivated today. I should be doing something productive but instead I am going to catch up on reading/commenting on all your blogs. I have missed reading what's going on in your lives and with your kiddos. Lately, I have been feeling anxious and stressed out over this move especially the closer it gets to the 2nd day of December. I worry too much, I'm sure but I can't help but wonder if I will get my stuff done in time and have my apartment cleaned out in time to get my deposit back. That's $700.00 I could certainly use as I will have no income once we are in South Carolina. I worry too that Griffin is going to have a major meltdown once we are on the airplane and I won't have any help unless complete strangers help me like last flight we had back in April when we went to go visit my family. We shall see I suppose, I can only hope for the best and be prepared for the worst, that's my philosophy anyways. As I mentioned before, it is exceptionally cold here and clear/sunny which is always conducive to a good mood but not so easy on the body since the clear skies make it even colder. We haven't had any fresh snow for weeks now and I would like to see some nice new powder before we leave so that I could get some great pictures and because it tends to be warmer when it snows.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Griffin is Beginning to Notice

Griffin is beginning to show signs of not understanding what is going on even though I have explained it to him I still don't think that he gets it. This morning he woke up disoriented and crying. He couldn't figure out what it was exactly that he wanted even though he was trying to tell me, I just couldn't understand him. It finally passed and he got over it and eventually was his happy little self again but I can't help but to think that he did that because of all the changes around the apartment. For the most part our routine is the same and he seems to be doing okay at school at least as far as I know, Kathleen hasn't written anything to me to indicate that he is having any trouble there. This afternoon he seems to be fine too playing on his own, laughing, and talking as usual.

It is so very cold here, presently it is 12 degrees with a wind chill factor of -5 but because of the wind it feels much colder than that actually. My apartment's heat is not working right and it won't heat up beyond 70 degrees which sounds like it is fine but my hands are very cold and so are Griffin's. I have the thermostat turned up past 80 degrees but it won't budge. I am concerned that the colder it gets outside the colder it is going to get in here. I told the landlord and all he could say was that the apartment needs more insulation (which he is going to take care of after we leave) and that 70 degrees is not so bad so in other words, he isn't going to do anything about it. He also stated that the heater wasn't working hard enough to pump out the necessary warmth that would be necessary to heat the apartment. I don't have a space heater nor do I think it is wise to go out and purchase one when we are about to leave. So, I think that I am going to ask him if he has one that I can borrow.

As far as the packing goes I have packed up all that I can for now of all the stuff that we are not using presently and the ARC/thrift store is picking up the donations tomorrow thank goodness. I am so ready for all this stuff to be out of here and not be piled up in the kitchen floor and in the closet. I am ready to clean up and get the last minute stuff packed up and sent.

That's all for now folks, I am going to attempt to get some of your blogs read tonight so hopefully I can catch up on what is going on with you all.

Friday, November 10, 2006

So Much To Do!

I just can't believe how much stuff I have got to pack, throw away, and to donate, it is so overwhelming! This apartment looks like a cyclone has been through here. I have sent already 8 boxes and still have 7 boxes to go. That doesn't include the stuff that's left for the last minute such as toys, clothes, and Griffin's VHS tapes that I plan to send. Talk about expensive, it's a good thing that I have enough money to send this stuff or I would have to donate things that mean a great deal to me. I have been asked by several different people if Griffin has noticed that things are different, if he realizes that we are moving or not. As far as I can tell he is clueless and is acting just as he usually does. I plan on explaining it to him just in case he can understand the concept but I think that as well as I know Griffin he will not react to things being different until it is time to get on the airplane then I believe he will definitely show signs of protest and have a meltdown. I truly hope that he does not get upset and feel overwhelmed, I have a book of PECS that Kathleen made for him for traveling on an airplane from our last trip that should help him to adjust. It is my hope that he will be calm and relaxed because I plan on giving him the Clonidine to help him sleep. We are scheduled to leave in the wee hours of the morning and have our first layover where I hope to be able to meet our friends who we have never met before in person, only through the internet and through phone calls. I am so excited to get to meet them finally. Well, it is time to get back to packing and cleaning, I will keep you updated and let you know what is going on when I am not too busy packing and stuff. I may not have time to stop by your blogs, sorry, but I plan to catch up once we are in SC.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Griffin In The Snow

This picture is for Big Brother. He wanted to see the snow in Alaska so here is Griffin in the snow out on our deck. I will be taking more pictures before we leave because as much as I hate driving in it I sure am going to miss the snow. Maybe we will make a snowman for you Big Brother. How would you like that?

Nothing going on really, just being a hermit as usual in the winter and getting my packing done, throwing away a lot, and have tons of stuff to donate. I do have a funny story to share about something that Griffin said at school, Kathleen told me about it yesterday. She said that they have been taking their lunches from the lunchroom and into the classroom to eat and that the milk is taken away from the children at the beginning of the meal so that the kids don't fill up on milk before they have a chance to eat. So, the kids were walking into the classroom with their meals/milk and Griffin looked up at Ed (the teacher's aide) and declared, "Why don't you take my milk, Ed!" and Ed replied, "Well, I think I will Griffin thank you!" so Griffin said, "No problem". For Griffin to use language like that is amazing, that's what makes it so funny. He just seems so mature when he talks like that and I am so proud of him.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Griffin is doing very well, his vocabulary has expanded over the last few weeks and he is beginning to ask questions such as: What are you doing? Why not? and What's that? This is great progress for him and I am very proud that he has made such improvement lately.

I am, on the otherhand, kind of a mess during the day when there is so much to do. There are things to pack, throw away, and donate. There are errands to run, places to go and phone calls to make. I just feel so overwhelmed even though I have a list that I check off as I go I still wonder how the heck I am going to get everything done in time for the move. I am hoping to be out of here by December 1st but somehow a month just doesn't seem like long enough to get all these things done. Does anyone know how I feel? Have you had to move in a short period of time and felt overwhelmed? I would love to hear from you and read your stories about moving, it would be a most pleasant distraction and a great source of support for me.

We got our first snow today, not much just a dusting of snow, and I look forward to getting a huge load of it before we have to leave because I am going to miss it. We won't be seeing any snow in S.C. that's for sure but there may be a teensy bit of it in N.C. when I go up to visit my brother and sister there. Unlike southcental Alaska (Anchorage) the snow is very wet in N.C. when they do get it and it is bitter cold because of the moisture in the air but here in Alaska it is quite dry and when it gets way down on the thermometer it doesn't feel so cold. Of course there are people who would beg to differ but for me it is easily tolerated with just a sweater and a jacket.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


1.Things that scare me
-Griffin being hurt/taken by someone
-Falling into water while in a car
-Griffin getting loose from me and running into traffic

2.People who make me laugh

3.Things I hate the most
-People chewing with their mouths open
-Exhaust fumes
-Being depressed

4.Things I don't understand
-Lack of compassion
-How someone could harm a child
-Griffin's babble

5.Things I am doing right now
-Watching the dog and cat play together
-Listening to the news
-Missing Griffin, he just got on the bus, but enjoying the peacefulness.

6.Things I want to do before I die
-To own at least one horse
-Make sure that Griffin is set for life
-Grow very old

7.Things I can do

8.Ways to describe my personality

9.Things I can't do
-Listen to someone talk to me while the t.v. is on
-Eat pork, I'm allergic to it

10.Things I think that you should listen to
-The crickets on a summer's night
-Elderly people
-Your children

11.Things you should never listen to
-Negative self-talk

12.Things I'd like to learn
-How to write a book
-More foreign languages
-More and more about Griffin & autism

13.Favorite foods
-Anything/everything Greek
-My mom's potato salad
-Godiva ice cream

14.Beverages I drink regularly
-Red wine

15.Shows I watched as a kid
-The Flintstones
-The Brady Bunch
-Starsky and Hutch

16.Persons I am tagging to do this meme
-Melissa H.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Top 10 Terrific Traits of Autistic People

If you're sick of hearing about all the "deficits" challenging people on the autism spectrum, join the club! But for every down side to autism, there seems to be a positive -- an unusual trait that rarely appears among the "typical" community, but shines out among autistic folk. These plusses are well worth celebrating.

1) Autistic People Rarely Lie
We all claim to value the truth, but almost all of us tell little white lies. All, that is, except people on the autism spectrum. To them, truth is truth -- and a good word from a person on the spectrum is the real deal.
2) People on the Autism Spectrum Live in the Moment
How often do typical people fail to notice what's in front of their eyes because they're distracted by social cues or random chitchat? People on the autism spectrum truely attend to the sensory input that surrounds them. Many have achieved the ideal of mindfulness.
3) People with Autism Rarely Judge Others
Who's fatter? Richer? Smarter? For people on the autism spectrum, these distinctions hold much less importance than for typical folks. In fact, people on the spectrum often see through such surface appearances to discover the real person.
4) Autistic People are Passionate
Of course, not all autistic people are alike. But many are truly passionate about the things, ideas and people in their lives. How many "typical" people can say the same?
5) People with Autism Are Not Tied to Social Expectations
If you've ever bought a car, played a game or joined a club to fit in, you know how hard it is to be true to yourself. But for people with autism, social expectations can be honestly irrelevant. What matters is true liking, interest and passion -- not keeping up with the Joneses.
6) People with Autism Have Terrific Memories
How often do typical people forget directions, or fail to take note of colors, names, and other details? People on the autism spectrum are often much more tuned in to details. They may have a much better memory than their typical peers for all kind of critical details.
7) Autistic People Are Less Materialistic
Of course, this is not universally true -- but in general, people with autism are far less concerned with outward appearance than their typical peers. As a result, they worry less about brand names, hairstyles and other expensive but unimportant externals than most people do.
8) Autistic People Play Fewer Head Games
Who was that woman, and why were you looking at her? I know I TOLD you I didn't mind if you went out, but why did you believe me? Most autistic people don't play games like these -- and they assume that you won't either. It's a refreshing and wonderful change from the Peyton Place emotional roller coaster that mars too many typical relationships!
9) Autistic People Have Fewer Hidden Agendas
Most of the time, if a person on the autism spectrum tells you what he wants -- he is telling you what he wants. No need to beat around the bush, second guess, and hope you're reading between the lines!
10) People with Autism Open New Doors for Neurotypicals
For some of us neurotypicals, having an autistic person in our lives has had a profound positive impact on our perceptions, beliefs and expectations. For me, at least, being the mom of a son on the autism spectrum has released me from a lifetime of "should" -- and offered me a new world of "is."
By: Lisa Jo Rudy

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Today Was A Good Day

Just a short post to let you know that today was a good day, the sun was shining and I came into some money that I didn't expect to get and now I can buy the S.A.D. light that I so desperately need. Griffin is doing great as well and I think that he senses when I am feeling better because he seems so much happier. Maybe it's just my perception of the situation that comes into play but I could swear that he was squirrelly today because mommy was in such a great mood. He didn't do much in speech today because he had a hard time focusing but hey, he is allowed to have his off days too and I am just grateful that he is such a happy kiddo most all the time. I notice that when I am depressed and having a bad day that he tends to act out a bit more but if I talk to him and keep my wits about me then he will straighten up. Anyhow, I wanted to thank all of you for your great support and all your kind words, it helps me even more than you could ever know. There's a rough road ahead of me and I know that I can get through it because of you! I love you guys! Take care, and have a great day!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Depression Had Kicked IN

If you look closely you can see the snow on the mountain tops and it is just a matter of time before it gets down here. We have had so much rain and gloom that it has kicked in my depression early this year. On top of that, it is getting really dark earlier and earlier. I wake up and it's dark and that is depressing! My ANP (Advanced Nurse Practioner) told me that I am not a candidate for anti-depressants because of all the undesirable reactions/side effects that I have had in the past. So this year I am winging it and I am on my own with my depression. She recommended that I get a S.A.D. light but the darn things are just too expensive, I simply cannot afford one right now. So, wish me luck and cross your fingers for me that I don't end up in the Crisis Treatment Center like I did last year. I just can't wait to move gosh darnit! I sure do wish that I would hear something from Social Security soon. It is way past the deadline for a hearing but who knows, they do things in their own time not when ya want it or need it to happen. For those of you who may not have read my previous posts, I applied for SSDI and am awaiting a hearing and we're fast approaching the 2 year mark. I just want to be near my family and to feel happy again and I am NOT looking forward to seeing the snow. It rained all frickin' summer and now it is already in the low to mid 40's and will be freezing very soon. If it seems like I am complaining then you would have guessed it correctly because I feel like hell and I desperately want to feel good again. I wish you all a great day and hopefully the sun is shining where you are. Sorry for the gloomy mood I wish that I could just switch it off :(

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Swimming for the First Time

This is a picture of Griffin petting the little piglets at the Alaska State Fair's petting zoo. I think that he had a grand time on that day, I will be showing more photos in the next few posts. Griffin had swimming on Friday at OT and on Saturday's swim lesson at one of our local high schools. Both times he did a great job going under the water and jumping into the pool with no fear whatsoever. At OT he actually "swam" for the very first time all by himself. It's true that he was just treading water but he did it without any kind of assistance, no floatation device or anything! Gayle let go of him and he smiled and paddled his legs and arms like crazy trying desperately to keep his head above water and he did and I am so very proud of him. Griffin has been getting hyper after swimming lately and I cannot figure out why. It is unusual for him to become so full of energy in the evening and one would think that he would be tired after swimming but it seems to invigorate him. Does anyone have any idea why this might happen? Along with the extra energy that he has he also misbehaves by getting into everything and driving mommy bonkers. As a rule Griffin is a mellow sort of guy who typically behaves and plays nicely on his own but when he is "energized" he bounces off the walls and leaves no stone unturned, always looking for something to get into. I welcome any ideas or comments that you might have about why this might happen and what I might try to do to help him through it. Have a great day all of you and thanks for your comments!!!!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Occupational Therapy with Gayle

Griffin loves his numbers so much that he has had to fall asleep with them. Today was OT with Gayle and I think that Griffin had a blast. First, there was movement where Griffin went down a slide on a scooterboard 5 times then he got to play a Teletubbie's floor game followed by a snack of one fuzzy peach. Finally there was the crafts where Griffin got to put paint all over his forearm in order to paint a tree trunk and then all over his hands to make the leaves, now with this he really had a good time........there was paint everywhere, hee hee. The really nice part is that Griffin seemed to listen to Gayle really well and mostly because she has a way of talking to him that helps him to understand and comply. So, Gayle, you are our hero and we love you very much. Thank you for helping Griffin to progress so nicely with each and every session. Oh yes and what else is really cool is that Gayle continued with the WH questions and asked Griffin some WHY questions like, "Why do you have a mouth (ears, eyes, nose, etc.....)?" and he answered most of them but the important part is that she is continuing on with what the SLP is working on because she had read it on the blog. Hugs to you Gayle!!!!!!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

WH questions

This is really simple but a big deal to me.......When the SLP was asking Griffin WH questions he was doing okay especially on the What and Who but the When and Why questions were much more challenging. What impressed me the most is the one Why question that he did answer, "Why do butterflies have wings?" he promptly replied, "So they can fly!" I am just thrilled with that!!! Yes it was only one Why question and answer but he met the challenge head on and conquered it! YEAH Griffin, you're my little champ!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Results of my sleep study/Dick and Jane

As it turns out the hypersomnia (excessive daytime sleepiness) that I have is the results of my medication, the doc said that I am taking way too much (twice the recommended dosage) because the sleep study showed that I am getting adequet sleep and do not have obstructive sleep apnea. The nap study showed that I am indeed excessively sleepy during the day because it took me only an average of 6 minutes to go to sleep/nap. So, I will go to see my ANP on Tuesday and adjust my medication and see if we can nip this stuff in the bud.

While we were shopping I picked up a Dick and Jane book to see if Griffin could read it and sure enough he was reading it like a pro, no real surprise there but he read it with such fluency now, THAT surprised me! I couldn't decide whether I should get it or not but finally figured that if he read it with such ease then he would likely get bored with it so I didn't get it. Besides, I am not sure that he was understanding what he was reading which is equally as important as the reading is. Maybe I will look for something that is a bit more challenging and has more meaning to it that is relevant to his life/living. I believe that a book that talks about practical everyday stuff would have more meaning than "Help Jane Help, Help, Help." Some of the pharses were relevant to his life but in general it wasn't. If anyone has a suggestion of a book or books that would be useful and have relevant words in it I would greatly appreciate it. I am thinking about just writing a book with words about his day to day life and throwing in some really challenging words here and there.

Take care my friends and hope that you have a splendid day!!!!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

I just got back from my sleep study and haven't found out anything yet. I have an appointment on Thursday with the doctor to find out the results. I will keep you posted. It was really weird because I had to take a nap every two hours during the day and I was still dozing off while sitting in the chair watching television. It's quite perplexing so, we shall see how it goes. Hope that everyone has a great weekend and I'll try to keep the blog current and let you know what's going on. Griffin is doing great. He has been saying "please", "thank you", and "you're welcome" almost all the time now, it's so cute.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Going in for a Sleep Study

I am going in tomorrow night to have a sleep study done because I have been having excessive daytime sleepiness for months now maybe even years but my memory is so poor that I don't even remember how long it's been. Whenever I read no matter how alert I am I still fall asleep. I don't mean that I fall asleep and then take a nap, it's like I fall asleep for just a few seconds and then wake up and then it just keeps happening over and over. When I sit for a period of time and even when I am talking to someone it happens then too. I hope that it makes sense how I explained it. Anyhow, it is potentially dangerous because it has happened when I was driving too so I am finally having this sleep study done to determine if I have Narcolepsy or not. I hope that I don't because the only treatment for it is essentially "speed" or amphetimines whatever you want to call them. I can't take those kinds of meds because I am bipolar and it would only enhance my mania. Hopefully it is just a side effect of my medication but there is the possiblity that I have Narcolepsy because my aunt was just diagnosed with it but I don't know if it is hereditary or not. The only time that it doesn't happen is when I am standing up but otherwise I get sleepy as if someone has just tranquilized me and I am fighting it off. So wish me luck with that. Griffin is doing great and just completed his testing in speech. Both Lisa and I were amazed at his receptive language and how well he answered open ended questions. I sure will miss him while I am at the sleep study because it will be one night and a full day on Friday but it has to be done before we move because I don't know if medicaid will cover something like that in South Carolina. Still no word on my disability hearing, just waiting it out.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Spelling Like Nobody's Business

Griffin has been spelling like crazy and here he has spelled "Stomp, (The name of the show which I think was on Broadway), Sesame Stret DVD and vedeo" then he spelled "Entertainment" on a sheet of paper he wrote, "Barney Can you sing that song?" complete with the question mark. I'm so proud of my little genius.......What else can I say?

Monday, September 04, 2006

We Are Moving

I have thought about it long and hard and finally come to the conclusion that we are in fact going to move to South Carolina to be with my family. It was not an easy decision to make because Griffin is getting some of the best education that he could possibly have in the nation here. Kathleen has been such an awesome teacher and I just know that wherever we go that nothing will compare to what she has done for him. I could be wrong, and I hope that I am, but it's just a feeling that I have. Nevertheless, what's most important at this point in time is that we are close to our family and have the support that is so desperately needed. I don't want a repeat of last December when I had to go to the Crisis Treatment Center because my depression had gotten so bad. My mental health is tantamount to his education because I have to take care of myself before I can be a good mother to Griffin. As much as I love Alaska, and it will be a sad day indeed, I must leave here because the weather and the lack of sunlight in the winter just gets me down too bad. Not that it is going to be all peachy keen to move to SC because it's not my ideal climate either. The summers will be exceptionally difficult for me because of the heat and the humidity but at least it won't trigger my depression. With age Griffin is becoming more and more difficult to deal with and I am increasingly having a hard time caring for him in the manner in which he needs to be. Because of his meltdowns and doing the limp noodle and refusing to leave the apartment it is not just a source of frustration but a major obstacle in our daily routine. It seems as though I am trying to justify our leaving and this is not my intention because I feel like, in my heart and soul, this is truly the best decision for not just me but also for Griffin in the long and short term. Between my parents and I we can supplement his schooling with homework and hopefully with private OT and Speech. I don't know how good the medicaid system is down there but I am hoping that it will be comparable although I have heard that it is not even. It will be at least 2-3 months before we will be able to move so that I have plenty of time to get things organized and send items down there ahead of time. Also I am waiting for my disability hearing for Social Security and I don't know if it will be favorable or not but either way we are moving. Griffin will adjust quite easily and quickly I believe because he did so well when we went down there in April for a visit. I'm following my intuition on this and I have a good feeling about it.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Problems with Blogger and Page Loading

I am afraid that something is wrong with my blog and my page loading properly. This entry is a test to see if I can get my page to load properly. Leave me a comment on whether or not you were able to get the page to load. Thanks for helping me out. Maybe I have too many photos because I only have 138 entries and the limit is 999 so I don't understand what the problem is. Thanks again for leaving me a comment and hope you have a great day.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Pictures of Griffin

Griffin had a great first day of school according to Kathleen (his teacher) and mommy had a great day too. It certainly helped that the sun was out all day and that we had NO RAIN!!! Here are some really great pictures of Griffin, I especially like them because they are black and white. I like the one on the bottom because it shows Griffin's goofy side being a ham for the camera and the top one I am particularly proud of because it just turned out great. Photography is a hobby of mine and having a great subject such as Griffin sure makes it easier to get some really good pics. That's all for now, hope everyone is having a splendid day.

Friday, August 25, 2006

A Picture of Me

My dear friend Tina had once mentioned that she wondered what I looked like so here you go Tina, a picture of me. This is me in Greece, I have no makeup on so you get what I really look like all natural. It's the only picture of me that I have that I am halfway happy with that shows the real me. Sure, I have pictures of me with makeup on looking a might better than this but since you are all my friends then I felt that I should be myself and show you my likeness unadulterated. So, for all of you who are reading this consider yourself tagged and let's see a picture of you. C'mon, it will be fun to do.

Griffin had OT on Wednesday and had a major meltdown throughout most of the session but once it was over he was fine. His behavior has been stellar here at home especially since it has been raining for so long and we have had to stay indoors to play. Of course we go out to take Abby but Griffin has to sit in the car while I walk her around the car at the park so that's no fun for him. Considering the amount of time that we have had to spend indoors he has been a happy little camper and playing beautifully with his toys, spelling with his magnetic letters and blocks, writing and drawing on his chalkboard, and of course singing and dancing to the music. Stephanie (the respite provider) has stayed with Griffin some for me and I have been able to run about and do some errands, thank goodness. Thank you Stephanie. School begins on Monday and as much as I have enjoyed spending time with him I do so look forward to having time to myself on a regular basis. Not only that but I am always very happy for him to have time away from me and in a different learning environment with lots of new stim each day.

Hope you are having a great day! Thanks for reading our blog and sharing in our day to day life, I'll be by to see you and visit your blog as soon as I can.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Things have been getting better lately for us. I tried the techniques that all my dear friends had recommended and they all worked!!!! I tried the bribery with the tiny M&M's which worked well because I would give him them immediately after he accomplished what I had told him to do for example putting on his shoes and jacket and going out the door. I would give him one with the completion of each task and he liked that of course and I did too because it made things go so smoothly. When he did the limp noodle bit I told him that I would drag him or he could walk and he still laid there on the floor so I dragged him out the door but the next challenge is getting him down a flight of stairs. So, I just waited until he at least sat on the top step and helped him to slide down on his rump. This did become quite tricky because at times he would manuver such that it would throw me off balance and I almost fell down the stairs. So, we are working on that part. I tried making a game out of it but he was already in meltdown mode and didn't want to laugh and play at that moment. The dragging worked great even though he made it look like I was torturing him horribly or like he was being a spoiled brat having a fit over something and let me tell you, that is how I felt. I felt like my child was being a brat and I nearly cried because I felt like I was being manipulated like a marionette. A puppet on a string is what it feels like lately and I must gain control over these situations. I also tried the : you do ___ and then you get____. I tried the: you do____ and you get to go to____ and it didn't work quite as well as I would have liked. I told him that if went out the door and to the car then we could go to (one of his favorite stores ie...Wal-Mart or Fred Meyers) but maybe my timing was off but he didn't respond to that as well. Funny thing is that it works for his teacher at school, of course. That is exactly what she recommended that I do when he does the limp noodle bit. Maybe he just knows that he can push my buttons and mommy will nearly cry and eventually attempt to carry him out the door. It's as though he gets some enjoyment out of me carrying him out the door and waiting for him to get down the stairs and then dragging him to the car. My higher thinking tells me that he is not enjoying any part of it any more than I am. I believe that this situation is a work in progress and I know that I have got to teach him that mommy's buttons are not going to be pushed and that he cannot manipulate me anymore! That said, I am going to continue to work on ME because I am the teacher and it is up to me to do what is best for him and for ME.
I greatly appreciate all the suggestions and I will continue to listen to them and to you, my friends, because that's what this whole blog thing is for me a network of friends helping one another.
As far as the sleeping goes, I started him back on the melatonin and it is helping him sleep through the night but I still give him the 1/2 Clonidine because the doctor told me that the Clonidine is supposed to be safer than anything else but I can't help but wonder that if it is so darn safe then why isn't it an over-the-counter drug like Benadryl. I should have asked him that but didn't think of it at the time. I am going to call him tomorrow and ask him or ask my pharmacist. Oh, by the way, the Calm Child did help to calm him down but didn't seem to help him sleep through the night. I will keep them on hand for days when he is feeling overwhelmed and perhaps a bit too energetic and bouncing off the walls.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Sleep Difficulty and Not Leaving the Apartment

I have decided that I would just take a break from giving Griffin the melatonin for about a week and see what happens when we start it back. I have been told that it should help make a difference. I went to the local health foods store and talked to the owner and she was quite helpful in that she recommended this tablet called Calm Child that has a mixture of several different herbs and vitamins/minerals in it to promote calmness (is that a word?). Anyhow, it does seem to help calm him before bed though it doesn't knock him out or rather help him to get sleepy. I have been enjoying some respite as Stephanie has been coming each evening and watching Griffin for me. I haven't done anything that great but it is just nice to have some alone time and peace and quiet outside the home. Griffin went to swimming yesterday and did a great job. I was just grateful that I got him out of the apartment because I have had some difficulty in getting him to leave the apartment lately. He does the limp noodle and he is too big for me to be able to pick him up and move him so for 2 days in a row he didn't leave the apartment. I have tried everything literally and could not get him to cooperate. I would appreciate any suggestions because maybe you can think of something that I haven't tried. I was able to get him out of the apartment this morning to go to my therapy session. It seems that it is easy to get him out of here if it is first thing in the morning before he is engaged in play but once he is into something I can just about forget trying to take him out of the apartment. I hope that this trend will end soon and that I can get him intersted in the reinforcers that I used to use that once worked. Tomorrow we have speech in the morning and OT in the afternoon so I am pretty sure that I can get him out in the morning and once we are out I will just stay out until it is time for OT. I will keep you posted.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Mommy's Feeling Much Better!

I was feeling so bad last week that I couldn't even imagine what it would be like to feel good again, didn't even think that it was possible. After talking with my ANP we had decided that to lower my nighttime meds (Seroquel) by 100 mg. should help me out quite a bit with my excessive daytime sleepiness and after several days it has helped me tremendously!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I am very pleased to report that I am feeling much better, refreshed, and my mood is way better than before. No more feeling weird or like I am on drugs, just feeling "normal" with more patience and a happy attitude to boot. Thank you all for your words of support and encouragement they helped me through a rough spot and made life much more bearable for me.
Saturday I got to have some much needed "alone time" and that helped me out as well because Kathleen kept Griffin for me for 7 hours. Thank you so much Kathleen, you were a life saver for me and I don't know what I would have done without you.
On Sunday Griffin was full of energy and did very well all during the day but come evening he was still full of it and had a real hard time settling down. I couldn't get him to cooperate with me in taking Abby out for her evening walk nor could I get him to calm down enough to get sleepy and ready for bed. It seems lately that the melatonin has not been helping much at all so I skipped it and gave him the Clonidine instead. Well, he ended up fighting it pretty hard and he stayed up until almost midnight and my nerves were a wreck. I have got to do some research and find out if I can use more than 5 mg. of the melatonin so that I don't have to give him the Clonidine anymore because I hate giving him drugs. Does anyone know if it is safe to give a 4 year old more than 5 mg. of melatonin? Everyone, have a great and blessed day!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Mommy's not doing so well

Here's Griffin and Pisgah just hangin out together, Griffin is being kind of goofy for the camera. Lately he has been doing fairly well but I on the other hand have been doing , well...........kind of weird. I have been taking my medications for my Bipolar Disorder but they haven't been working that well for me. One of the two meds has been causing me to just feel really really strange. I feel like I am over-medicated. I have been told by numerous individuals that my movements are really really slow and that I talk slow too in fact, I do everything slow and that there is a stiffness about my movement too. I go to see my ANP on Friday the 11th so we shall see what she says about what to do about these darn medications. I have to have the daytime meds to keep my moods stable and I need the nighttime meds to help me to sleep otherwise I will become a manic insomniac who is on a constant roller coaster ride. If I don't have my meds I simply cannot take care of Griffin because I am such a mess. Even with the meds lately with the way I 've been feeling, it is a struggle to take care of him day in and day out now that he is out of school. I get no kind of break whatsoever. My respite provider, Stephanie, has not been available. I am going to call Kathleen and see if she will be able to help me out just for a short while so that I can have a break. The weather is still quite mild with the temperatures in the 60's and we have had quite a bit of rain this summer. We were still able to go to the playground for awhile today and play.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

It's That Time of Year Again

I think that most parents could find this most useful in dealing with/navigating the school system not only for special education kiddos but for all other children as well. It is rather long but the information and suggestions are quite invaluable. Perhaps some of it may only apply to NT kiddos and their parents, but I think that it is well worth a read

Strategies for Effective Engagement with School Officials 1. Listen. Tune in to what your child says about the quality of his teachers. Children are often accurate. Schools that serve poor, Latino and Black children have a disproportionate number of unqualified teachers. If your child has unqualified teachers, fight to have his classes or school changed. Your engagement with school officials begins with your child. 2. Praise, honor and support good teachers. Tell and show them how much you appreciate what they are doing for your child. 3. Seek support. Do not suffer in silence. Find other parents who have experienced what you are going through. They may be able to help you resolve your issues. 3. Plan for meetings with school personnel. Never meet with them alone. Bring people, your pastor, friends, and family members. There is strength in numbers. 4. Deliberate. Take a reasonable amount of time to think about any school-related decisions. Do not allow school officials to pressure you into making rash decisions. Confer with family, clergy or parent/child advocates. 5. Attend and participate in school-related activities. Share your opinion.Volunteer. The staff should know you as a concerned and involved parent. When they know and respect you, they are more likely to know and respect your child. Likewise, when your child knows you are involved, he is more likely to behave and perform well. Things You Should Expect from the School System: 1. Request a copy of your child's school records. You have a right to any material in her official file. This is extremely important. You need to know what is being documented about your child - and in some cases what may be said about you, as a parent. Read the contents of the file with your child. 2. Visit your child's class during school hours. Give at least one days notice. You must avoid disruption. You should not attempt to speak with the teacher during this visit. Ask for a tour of the school. Your purpose is to observe the lesson, class and school climate. 3. Schedule appointments to meet with your child's teachers. Do not wait until the bi-annual parent-teacher conferences. Prepare specific questions before the meeting. Meetings may be scheduled for after regular school hours. This may allow for meaningful discussions and fewer interruptions. 4. Volunteer to work in the parent office. Each school should have at least one office dedicated to parents. Parent friendly schools will have Parent Reception or Resource Centers that are accessible during and after the regular school day. 5. Ensure school personnel are able to contact you. It is your responsibility to inform them when your contact information changes.You should not place this responsibility on your child. 6. Meet with appropriate school personnel to deal with concerns.Decide if it is necessary to meet the principal in order to get your matter resolved.Though the principal should be accessible to parents, it may not be possible to meet her immediately. You may expedite the resolution if you target the person who will ultimately be able to help you directly. 7. Attend workshops for parents. Parent friendly schools offer them regularly. These may include: Computer training, reading, writing, math, music, art, and others. 8. Attend school assembly programs that honor children. You may need to take a day or a few hours off from work. Programs may also be held on weekends and evenings. You should attend with your child even if she is not being honored. It may serve as a motivation for you and her while simultaneously showing support for other children and families.
Parents, Know Your Business 1. Meet with your child at the beginning of each school year. Discuss what he is expected to learn in and out of school. 2. Monitor your child's development. Do not rely on school tests to define your child's level of intelligence. Focus on whether he is acquiring life skills? How would he respond to unanticipated occurrences? Do you see and hear him thinking? 3. Seek help for your child through local libraries, community organizations, churches and non-traditional institutions. Consider peer tutoring as an option. It is an overlooked effective strategy. 4. Schedule meaningful activities for your child. These may include family trips to the park, museum, library, neighborhood walks, and volunteering at a local food pantry or shelter. Idle time for an active child is asking for trouble. Keep your child busy. Keep him physically, mentally and culturally engaged. 5. Stay active in your child's life. Children with active parents are less likely to be abused by school personnel. Child predators try to avoid the kind of attention involved parents bring. 6. Train your child to think. This does not happen in traditional schools.They train your child to pass tests. They train your child to conform. The school system discourages differences and independence. Children within dependent spirits generally do not function well in school without involved parents. Children who learn differently are often labeled and neglected. They are punished or despirited by a system that mandates uniformity and conformity. 7. Make certain your child's educational needs are met. Be a squeaky wheel.School officials do not expect you to be persistent. Call, write and visit daily if necessary. If the system labels or harms your child, make them pay for it. Seek legal counsel and take them to court. Charge them with educational neglect, deprivation and malfeasance.
Conclusion A tidal wave begins with a ripple. You serve as a ripple in your child's life. Join with other ripples (including committed and concerned school personnel) and make waves. When parents, community and school personnel are on the same page, working together, children thrive.
Bernard Gassaway is the former principal of Beach Channel High Schooland senior superintendent of alternative schools and programs for NewYork City and homeschool father. August 2006

Friday, August 04, 2006

On the way to swimming

Griffin had his last day of ESY(extended school year) yesterday and now the challenge begins. I must find ways to keep him occupied and keep my sanity too. An example of how tough it can be to keep him occupied and happy in a constructive way would be the example of what happened on Wednesday on the way to swimming. We passed by Best Buy where the week before we had gone in to look at some headphones but ended up buying a dvd for him. So, of course he remembered and instead of wanting to go swimming he all of a sudden wanted to go into the store to get a movie. He had a major meltdown, I had to practically drag him down into the dressing room and it took what seemed like forever for Gayle and me to get him undressed and put his swim diaper on. Gayle finally got him into the pool and he was still crying. I left for awhile to take Abby for a walk and when I returned he seemed to be enjoying himself but not to the fullest because he was still crying off and on. He didn't stop crying until we were headed toward the upstairs of the club and he was all better when we got to the vending machine where he announced that he wanted some Cheetos. I got Griffin the Cheetos and he had already forgotten all about Best Buy and getting a movie. We went home and he was fine for the rest of the day. Next week I am going to take a different route to the pool, one where he cannot see Best Buy on the way there. Whew, what a frustrating day that was! Take care my friends and I hope that all is well with you.

Monday, July 31, 2006

PLAY written on the chalkboard

Griffin's handwriting is improving greatly as you can see here. He even added dimension to it by outlining the word. I am so very proud of him. He also wrote after "PLAY", "Elmo in grouchland" all in very defined and ledgible letters. He is also holding the chalk properly in the tripod grasp. Griffin is quite proud of his accomplishments as he comes to get me to show me his work and I give him tons of praise of course. As you can see he is posing proudly by his work and being a ham at the same time. Hope that you all have a fantastic day!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

2+2=4 , Happy Birthday to Me & Dad

Just a bit of news about Griffin and the computer, somewhere he has learned to type out 2+2=4. I have no idea where he learned this from because he didn't learn it at school (I checked with Kathleen) and I certainly didn't teach him because we haven't attempted that kind of math yet but it looks like he is ready for it 'eh? My little guy just never ceases to amaze me.

In other news, today is my 42nd birthday and what makes it extra special is that it is also my dad's birthday. So, happy birthday dad I sure wish that we lived closer so that we could celebrate our birthday together. Thanks for sharing your birthday with me, I love you dad.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Using the Toilet!!!!!

GREAT NEWS! Griffin used the toilet again all by himself! He was in the bathtub and I had walked out of the bathroom just for a moment and heard the toilet seat clank open so I ran back into the bathroom and much to my surprise Griffin was standing there peeing in the toilet. I gave him all kinds of praise and he stood there when he was done just gleaming with pride. About half an hour later he had gone in the bathroom again and tore off his diaper and was attempting to go again but nothing would come out but I gave him tons of praise anyhow. I am so very proud of my little guy, he is really growing up. Yesterday morning Griffin had an eye doctor's appointment and it did not go well. He ended up having a meltdown because they made us wait so dang long plus they dialated his eyes which I think may have given him a headache. I asked if we could avoid doing the dialation but the woman told me how important it was for the doctor to see behind his eyes and check them out. I was worried about his sensory issues and the light hurting his eyes but I caved in and let her put the drops in. Griffin's meltdown lasted about 2 hours even after we finally got home he was still quite upset. Do any of you know if it was absolutely necessary for them to dialate his eyes or not?????? What do you think I should have done? What would you have done? He is a happy camper today and just got on the school bus really well, happy as can be!!!! Hope that you're having a great day!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Speech, O.T., and You My Friends

Here is a cool pic of a griffin and one of these days I am going to sculpt one just like it. That is when I get motivated to do so. The weather is still on the chilly side, it is only 64 degrees here today and overcast skies. Not much of a summer that we are having this year but, I am not complaining because it still beats the heck out of sub-zero temps and lots and lots of darkness. At least we do have plenty of daylight even if it is overcast.

Griffin had speech yesterday with Lisa and he got a bit antsy and couldn't focus on the task at hand so Lisa would give him breaks which seemed to help. He did pretty good on the matching game (much like the game of "go fish") and seemed to be quite happy when he would make a match after asking me or Lisa if we had the card that he needed. Lisa thought that perhaps he was acting the way he was (restless and uninterested) because the task that she was asking him to do may have been a bit too difficult because he would stand there holding his ears in protest.
Griffin also had O.T. with Gayle yesterday afternoon. He was totally unfocused during his session but Gayle handled it very well (way to go Gayle!!!!!!!!) just like a pro. Both Lisa and Gayle are excellent in what they do and I know that I don't say it near enough but I do appreciate your hard work and dedication.

I hope that all of you visited Tina's (K.C.'s mommy) and shared with her some words of inspiration and encouragement, she can definitely use the support. I remember last December when I was having a crisis and all of you came to the resue and helped me out tremendously.
All of you may live far far away from me but, it doesn't mean that I care any less about you all and your families. You are my friends and I cherish you as such and I look forward to knowing you all much better as I read from your blogs each day/week.

Love to all of you and big hugs from Alaska

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

My Friend Needs Your Support

Please visit my friends blog Autism and KC, Tina could use your support right now she is going through a tough time. Her family has just lost a very dear friend in Israel and her parents are over there right now. As you know things are quite dangerous and violent in Israel and Tina and her family could use your support through prayers or just through a few kind words left as a comment. Thank you all and enjoy your day and I am borrowing the kind words of Melissa H. when I say "May the rain pour on your house but the sun shine in your heart" Is that kind of close Melissa? I got the gist of it didn't I? Melissa said that to Tina in her blog when Tina was wishing for rain since she lives in the desert.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

We are doing great and everything is going really well. I don't have much time to write because Griffin wants to use the computer. He has been using the computer a whole lot lately and that is part of the reason I haven't been keeping things up-to-date and I haven't been visiting your blogs as much as I would like. I just wanted to let you all know that we are fine and that Griffin has been keeping me quite busy this summer. In the evening I will try to catch up on reading blogs and writing. Hope that all of you are doing very well and that you are having a great summer!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Swimming, Matching Game, and Puzzles

Griffin is doing so well in everything that he is doing lately. At the pool on Wednesday he actually swam for the first time to keep his head above water. Okay, so it was more like treading water but nevertheless he was swimming because he was paddling his legs and arms. Griffin had speech on Friday morning and he played a matching game much like the game of "concentration" where the cards are face down and you only pick up one at a time and turn it over until you have a match. Lisa, the SLP, said that Griffin has a photographic memory because he could remember the cards so well and where they were located. In the afternoon on Friday Griffin had OT with Gayle at the clinic and they played on an obstacle course that Gayle had put together. Lately, he has shown a lot of interest in doing puzzles and in particular a Sesame Street puzzle. So, what Gayle did was put the puzzle pieces all along the obstacle course so that Griffin would have to keep using his gross motor skills through the course in order to get the puzzle pieces. He had to work for each piece but he didn't seem to mind at all because he was so determined to complete the puzzle.

The weather has been a bit on the nippy side , it's only been in the high 50's and lower to mid 60's and cloudy most of the time. Today it is sunny and at 2:30 in the afternoon it is only 62 degrees so far with a breeze blowing. I can't recall in the 15 yrs. I've been living here that it has been so cool during the summer so it is quite unusual. I don't mind it so much since I am allergic to the sunlight it sure makes life easier for me that I don't have to hide from the sun all day long. That's all folks, hope you're having a great weekend.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Normal People Scare Me

This is a film that you don't want to miss and I mean that from the bottom of my heart. Normal People Scare Me, is a poignant film about what it is like to be autistic straight from the mouths of the children (and some adults). It is particularly moving because there's nothing left to the imagination, it is raw and real, it is honest and candid but most of all it will make you shed a few tears. Just the theme song alone (performed by Taylor Dayne) had me bawling. This is a documentary film that is like no other that I have seen because it was put together by a 17 year old autistic young man and what a brilliant young man he is indeed! I urge you to buy this DVD and to peer into the minds and hearts of these beautiful young souls who share their everyday experiences with us. This film will leave you with a new understanding of what autism is all about and with a feeling that will not leave you. Maybe I am just a softy and a bit mushy but I really do think that even if you don't find yourself crying a little bit you will still be left with an impression of how these individuals (and your own child) struggle every day, not that you are not already aware of it. I just wanted to share this information with you and let you know that I highly recommend this film for everyone who even is remotely associated with autism, you will not regret it. If you would like to order a copy just go to the link above and there's all the information that you need to order online. If you want to order it by mail then let me know and I will post the address. Hope that you are enjoying your day and have a safe 4th of July holiday.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Jigsaw Puzzle at OT

Griffin is doing wonderfully in his ESY and seems to be much happier since going back to school. Today he went to OT swimming and did a great job of paddling his feet and going underwater. The other day at OT (at the clinic) Griffin put together an "I spy" floor size jigsaw puzzle (35 pieces) with a little bit of help from Gayle but mostly he did it by himself.

The weather has warmed up a bit, it finally got into the 60's with sunny skies and no rain, YIPEE! So, we are enjoying the nice weather and playing outside a lot. That's about it for today, not much else to report. Things are going really well for us. Have a great day!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Extended School Year (and he's going to love it.)

Yesterday I wrote out this really long post and had it all ready to be published and, BOOM the electricity went out and I lost everything and now I can't remember what I had written. So, today I am just going to write whatever comes to mind. Today was a good day we took Abby for her usual two walks during the day and we went by the school that Griffin will attend for ESY to see his teacher, Kathleen and to play on the playground. Since Kathleen was his teacher for the last school year and he will be going to the same school as he did last year then there wasn't a problem with him having to get used to anything new, which is a blessing indeed. We had a good day together and tomorrow he will begin ESY in the afternoon. I am excited for him because I know for sure that he has been missing school for the past month. Lately, I am happy to report that he has been playing on the playground instead of wandering around aimlessly. I took him to a playground and as pictured here had discovered that his favorite thing to do was to climb and climb he did all over the place. Griffin's second favorite was swinging and then as the swing slowed down he liked to drop out of it and then he says, "Griffin, are you okay?" that is until I repeat it back to him. So, he is still perseverating some and I do try not to reinforce it if I just stop to think about what I am doing/saying. I want to say "Congratulations to my dear friend Tina whose son, K.C. just said MaMa for the very first time ever the other night. You can read about it here on her blog: Autism and K.C. I dare you to not cry from feeling overwhelmed with happiness for the two of them. Well, it is way past midnight and morning comes terribly early when Griffin goes to bed on schedule. OH yes, it has been an exceptionally wet summer for us unseasonably cool I think for this time of year, in the 50's for the better part of this past week. Gota go my eyelids are getting, very , very, heavy and I am getting very very sleeeeepy.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Protesting Against the Pool

For the very first time yesterday, Griffin had a meltdown and didn't want to go to swim at OT. I was amazed at how he fought us as we tried to get him interested in getting into the pool. All he could say was, "I want to go to Fred Meyer." That is a store that he likes a lot because it's where he gets his Dora toys. In spite of me explaining to him that we could go to Fred Meyer after the pool he still kept up his protest. I was wondering if maybe it is because we had moved his OT from Tuesday to Wednesday and he noticed the change in schedule. I didn't have a visual schedule for him to take with us to show him the order in which things would happen because he has always been so very happy to go to the pool. My mistake indeed. Perhaps if I had one he would not have been such a little rebel. Finally, between Gayle and myself, got his swim diaper on and got him into the pool and of course he had fun and was very cooperative with Gayle but toward the end of the session he started again with the, "I want to go to Fred Meyer" bit. He began to protest when trying to take off his swim diaper and then trying to dress him or rather to try and get him to dress himself. Yea right, he wasn't having anything to do with dressing himself. We always get something out of the vending machine on the way out of the athletic club and that made him really happy. So, then we go to Fred Meyer as I had told him that we would but this time he wasn't getting a toy. Of course that made him unhappy and he started again but this time I think that it was mostly him having a bit of a tantrum just because he didn't get his way. I was relieved to find that by the time we got home he was fine and he was perfectly happy the rest of the day and didn't ask to go back to the store or for a toy. He even went on our usual walk with Abby without any problems whatsoever. Today we stayed in most of the day because of the rain and then later we went to speech where he did pretty good. No meltdowns, or tantrums no asking to go to Fred Meyer just a moment or two where he decided to get on the floor and not be a good listener. Otherwise, he had a great day and seemed to be his usual happy camper sort of guy. Anyone have any ideas or suggestions on what could have worked better than what I did or did not do? By the way, have a great day and a super weekend.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Griffin Used The Potty All By Himself

This is so exciting that I can hardly type fast enough to get it all out. After Griffin's bath tonight I was sitting next to the tub drying him off when he turned and pointed himself toward the bathtub and started peeing. I quickly grabbed him and lifted up the toilet seat and directed him toward the toilet and told him to pee in the potty. By then he couldn't go any longer and I wasn't sure if he got the message or not but I soon realized that he was trying really hard to make the urine come out so that he could please his mommy. So, eventually I put a clean diaper on him and he commensed to play in the living room. My back was to him and I heard his diaper come off and then I heard the toilet seat go up so I ran into the bathroom and there he was peeing very carefully into the toilet. I gave him tons and tons of praise and he grinned really big to show me how proud he was of himself and I am so very proud of him!!!!!!!!!! My little guy is growing up so darn fast, I just can't believe it.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Griffin's First Pony Ride, Happy Father's Day

Griffin rode a pony for the first time yesterday and he sure did love it. From the very first minute that he got on that pony's back he started laughing and didn't stop until long after he was off. That's not me beside the pony by the way, I was taking the photos.

It's been raining here off and on the past few days so we've been stuck inside but when we are able to we take advantage of the beautiful weather taking Abby for long walks and playing on the playground.

I hope that all the fathers out there had a wonderful Father's Day and that you feel the love from you NT kiddos but especially from your autistic children. Hopefully, you will have shared special and touching moments every day and all the days in the future not just on this day. I want to say to my father that I am grateful for having him as a dad and that I couldn't have imagined having a better father in my life. I remember in high school, some of my fondest memories of us together, working on my 1969 Mustang convertible. I loved getting all dirty and greasy and working with him on doing engine repair and body work. It was so nice to be able to bond with my dad in that way. I don't know that I appreciated it that much then but I sure do cherish those memories now. Unfortunately, I wasn't the easiest child to raise, almost always getting into some kind of trouble and giving my parents a hard time and for that I am sorry. At least though, I grew out of it and have learned my lessons in life at a young age and had the guidance of my parents to steer me in the right direction. I attribute my success as a good and decent human being and mother to the fact that my parents were strict with their discipline and tough on me because had they not been so strict I think that I would still be getting into trouble. So, I want to thank my dad for always being there for me through thick and thin and sticking by his rules making sure that I was a productive member of society. Thanks dad for showing me what it means to be loved and how to love back even though it was usually tough love, it was still your way of showing me that you care. On this day, Father's Day, I salute you dad and all that you have done for me not just when I was a child but as an adult you have lead by example how to truly love someone like you love my mom a dedication and devotion that shines like the sun. Happy Father's Day dad!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

My Nightmare

I am the happiest and the most fortunate mommy on the face of this earth, no the universe. I am so grateful for all that I have but most of all for this beautiful little creature named Griffin. He brings me so much joy and delight that I can hardly think of anything negitive to say. I guess you could say that I have a renewed perspective since my nightmare last night. I woke up terrified because I had a dream that Griffin died. The absolute worst nightmare that I could have possibly had because it not only happened and seemed much too real but it was also my fault. Apparently I had tried some sort of cure autism medication/medical proceedure and he ended up dying from it. It is all so vague now but I am left with the feeling that still chills me to the bone. So, today I am a new mommy and I appreciate my child more than ever that nightmare really hit me where it hurts and I shall swear before all of you on everything sacred to me that I will never take my child's life and well being for granted. Not that I did before last night but gosh darnit, I don't know how to make myself understood. Does any of this make sense to anybody else? Imagine a nightmare so horrid and how you might react and how you might feel after waking up in the morning. I definitely gave my guy extra hugs and kisses all day and lots of snuggles this evening. I am not telling you folks about this dream because I have something against people who want to try medications/medical proceedures in an attempt to cure autism because it's not my place to judge them. I am merely describing my nightmare and that's it. To end on a positive note: I love my special guy and he loves me and that's all I need to get me through the day and night. Regardless of some weird, off the wall, hellacious dream.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

I Stand Corrected, Abby the Service Dog

My friend Peggy Lou Morgan has the best information about service dogs in one of her posts . In this post there is a link to the Delta Society and Arf Kids also to her website. It was mentioned to me that I probably should have stated in my blog that for every individual/child the service dog serves different needs, that their use is dependent upon the child's needs. Forgive me for giving incorrect or misleading information. I should have just said that it is not the role of Griffin's service dog to keep him from going out into the street because she wasn't trained for that purpose. I trained her myself and she was rescued from the animal shelter and I have been very fortunate that she is so docile and obiedient. Although Abby is very aware of what Griffin is doing at all times she was not trained to do anything directly for him however for some people that is not the case and the service dog is required to work for/toward a specific goal(s). I don't mean to insult anyone's intellegence because everyone knows that a service dog does perform certain tasks for individuals, I just wanted to clarify that just because it's not so for Griffin that it's not usually the case. I hope that made sense. If you just go to Peggy Lou Morgan's blog you will find that she explains things much better than I have. I guess that I am having an off day and am having a hard time making myself clear and getting across my point the way that I want. Also, I didn't mean to imply that I had to go through a government agency it's just that I carry that information with me to show to people the state's laws pertaining to service dogs. Griffin's pediatrician had to write a letter in order for us to have Abby in our apartment because we rent but outside of that , in Alaska it is not necessary to carry any kind of proof that she is a service dog. That is what I meant in my last post. Sorry folks for the misinformation it was unintentional and I am happy to have been corrected. Here are a few more links to check out from Peggy Lou Morgan's blog Penny Lane's purpose (service dog) and General Information for Service Dogs also Billy Ray and Penny Lane, service dog .
Kyra, Peggy Lou mentioned that you might try to e-mail the woman at Paws-Abilities for information on training your own dog or for information on a book that might be helpful.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Abby the Service Dog

This post is in response to Wendy's questions about Griffin's service dog "Abby". What would Abby do if Griffin suddenly bolted into traffic? What's her purpose?

Abby wouldn't do anything if Griffin darted out into traffic because she is not meant to protect him, that is not the purpose of a service dog. Her purpose is to merely be there for him as a constant companion. Abby doesn't need to do anything directly for Griffin her presence alone does the trick for him. When Abby is around Griffin is just more grounded and centered I can't even explain it. If you are thinking about getting a dog to train as a service dog or if you can get one that is already trained I think that you will find a marked improvement/change in not only C's behavior but also in your other children as well, that is if you don't already have a dog. Animals provide something very special for autistic and NT kiddos alike, something that just cannot be explained. The history of why we got Abby is that I had noticed when my friends dog was around Griffin (when he was about 2 years old) he had stopped his self injurous behaviors and he had less stimming and he was significantly more verbal. As soon as the dog went away all his behaviors returned. I looked into getting him a service dog that was already trained but the woman who trained the dogs said that Griffin was still too young for one of her dogs. So, I did some research and found out that in Alaska it is not necessary for a "service" dog to be professionally trained just as long as the dog was well behaved in public it could be considered a service dog. I aquired the necessary papers through the Disability Law Center that was a letter from the Attorney General that had the state's laws, the rules and regulations for businesses and public places and how they had to abide by these laws. I carry them in my purse just in case there is ever a problem but with the vest on her I typically have no problems with anyone. Abby has been in the hospital with Griffin to visit me, she has been in the cabin of the airplane to fly with us, in restaurants, and everywhere/anywhere that Griffin goes. I highly recommend that you read "Parenting Your Complex Child" by Peggy Lou Morgan if you are interested in getting a service dog because she has some excellent information in there specifically about service dogs. She does a much better job than I do at explaining how service dogs can be so very helpful to a child/individual with special needs or as she likes to call them: extraordinary needs. Please let me know if you have any additional questions and don't forget to Have a great day!!!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Griffin's Independence

I forgot to mention in my last post that I have also called the 911 dispatch and told them that I have a 4 year old autistic child in my home so that if anything were to happen they have on record that he is here and what to expect in the case of an emergency. It is my understanding that the fire fighters and the local police force have all been trained in what to do with an autistic child in an emergency situation.

I would like to brag a bit about Griffin's independence lately. He has not only show that he can function independently but is also very compliant with me, cleaning up his toys with only one request, putting items in the garbage or in the sink with only one request also. Griffin has been going to bed nicely in his own (new) bed all by himself without snuggles and even without any type of encouragement, and he stays in his bed all night long I am so very proud of him, he is doing such a fantastic job. Even though he is bored he still has an excellent disposition (bright and sunny) and tends to keep himself occupied regardless. Griffin is such a trooper, so patient and tolerant, he really is progressing nicely. Now that he is out of school for awhile there is great potential for him to have excessive energy that he doesn't know what to do with but he still remains quite stable as far as his moods go and has had meltdowns few and far between. We've been going to the playground just about every day and we take Abby (the service dog) for a walk twice a day every day and sometimes go to the store. That's about it for now folks. Hope that you're having a great day just as we are.