Single Moms Raising Autistic Sons

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Monday, February 27, 2006

Feeling Happy and Grateful

There was a time when I could just stare at a blank page and the words would just flow but it seems as of late that I struggle to find the words to write. Everything is going so well that I am at a loss as to what the topic should be. I can tell you that I am grateful for this time of respite and that because everything is going so well that I am feeling not quite euphoric but definitely pretty close. I have recently increased the mood stabilizer that I take for my bipolar disorder and it seems to be helping a lot plus we are having much more sunlight. That alone is reason enough to be feeling better. Griffin has been in a great mood lately and having exceptionally good behaviors, I think that part of it is because he picks up on my mood. He is sensitive to how I am feeling and reacts accordingly. So, this post is about not really anything specific but just life in general. I am grateful that my car is still hanging in there because it is a 1988 model and on its last leg. It looks rough but is running good so far, every day that it cranks in the bitter cold I am so very thankful that I am going to get yet another day out of it. In this time of transition of seasons, as it slowly moves into the springtime, I am grateful for having my very nice apartment that gives us shelter from the elements and is really quite cozy. The more I write the less I like what I am saying so I am tempted to delete the whole thing and start over but I have come this far, might as well finish it up now. Griffin's laughter is what I am most grateful for because it means that he is happy and healthy which is our greatest blessings. So, on that note I am going to close and say that because of all the wonderful things in my life I am the happiest person that I know right now. Thanks for reading our blog and hope that you have a most excellent day!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Lisa, the speech pathologist, asks Griffin (while showing him a card) a person who bakes is a ...? and Griffin says,"a baker". Lisa asks, "a person who bikes is a ...." Griffin answers, "a biker". It goes on with several more questions and each time Griffin gets it right without any help whatsoever. He just figured out how it works and applied that "er" to the end of the root word to make a noun. I was thrilled to say the least and I think that Lisa was pretty impressed as well. They have also been working on pronouns especially possessive pronouns, and attributes. Griffin has come a long way with his speech especially since having the PE tubes put in his ears, however, he still has plenty of room for improvement. There is still some babbling that is unintelligible and what vocabulary that he does have is still quite limited. Griffin is able to answer questions usually with only one word and I don't know if that is on purpose or if that's the best that he can do for now. I do think that part of it is that he can get by with what little bit of language he does have and therefore he doesn't put forth as much effort. It's just a guess and who knows if that is the case. Griffin is receiving services at school as well with Marcia who is also a fantastic speech pathologist. I haven't spoken to Marcia in awhile so I don't know what he is working on at school but I do know that my little guy is moving right along and that I am proud of his progress as always. I would like to thank Lisa and Marcia for their hard work and dedication because Griffin would not have come as far as he has without them. Also Nancy G. who was Griffin's speech pathologist before Lisa made a huge difference in helping him come a long way. Last but not least Lisa Miller who was Griffin's very first speech pathologist and paved the way for Griffin and gave him the head start that he needed from age 18 months to age 3 years. Thank you all so very much for all that you have done. We have been so fortunate to have so many wonderful and caring individuals on board.

Sunday, February 19, 2006


Griffin has just come up to me and showed me the number 100 that he put together with his blocks. It is nice that he has progressed to the point of understanding that numbers can go into a different order other than just 1 - 10. The fact that he has put a 1 together with two zeros is a good sign that he is learning more numbers with time. Griffin is still perseverating and saying "Hi mommia" to me when he wants my attention and he wants me to say back to him "Hi Griffin". The only way to get him to stop perseverating is to say "Hi Griffin" then he will tell me what it is that he wanted my undivided attention for like he may just say "fish" and that's it. He kept saying "Hi mommia" just so that I would focus on him , stop everything I am doing just so that I can hear him say "fish". It aggravates me to no end when he does this and it causes me to lose my patience after awhile, a short while mind you. I felt like I was giving into him by saying what he wanted me to and that I was reinforcing it ( the behavior). So, I asked everyone what I should do and the only good answer that has seemed to be effective is the response that his speech teacher Lisa came up with. She told me that in order to not reinforce his behavior is to not answer him but once. Then say to him "Griffin I have already said hi " then I can give him the attention that he seems to need without reinforcing his perseveration. Eventually, he will realize that mommy isn't going to give into him and he will stop repeating over and over again. The key is to be consistent and to make sure that I don't say "Hi Griffin" so that he will get the message. I have to confess that I have slipped a few times just to get him to stop and I realize that it is counter productive so I must work harder to get the desired results.
If any of you have a child who perseverates I would like to know what it is that you do, other than just plain ol' distraction which doesn't seem to work with him. It would be nice for you to share some ides with me because I sure could use some helpful advice right about now.

What's Up Lately

I haven't posted in awhile so I thought that I would write a little something just so that my fellow bloggers and friends would know that we are alive & kickin' :)
Griffin is doing great at home and at school as usual and I am doing better. I found out that I have a moderately high deficiency of Vitamin D which has caused some physical symptoms like pain in my hips and spine. Due to the fact that without proper amounts of this vitamin the bones become soft and I guess that I have had the problem for quite awhile and didn't realize it. I thought that I was just out of shape. According to the nurse practitioner one cannot get sufficient amounts of Vitamin D just through foods and regular supplements, it is necessary to get it from the sun. Well, living in Alaska in the winter it is not often that we see the sun much less get enough on our skin for Vitamin D. Also, in the summer I keep my skin covered up because I get sun poison if I am exposed to the sun even for a few minutes, so who knows how long it has been since I have absorbed enough Vitamin D to keep my level within normal range. Anyhow, she is treating me with mega doses of the vitamin and after just one dose and lots of rest I can feel some difference. I think it is pretty rare for individuals to have this problem but if you ever have unexplained pain in the hips and/or spine accompanied with stiffness much like arthritic pain and you haven't been in the sun for awhile you might consider asking your health professional to check your Vitamin D level. I am so glad that it was a problem in which a simple vitamin could take care of and that I will be pain free relatively soon.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Happy With What I've Got

As I was looking at one of Griffin's pictures from when he was about 15 months old I stopped to think that I never mourned the loss of my "healthy, non-autistic" child. Then I continued to think "how dare you think such a thing, he is perfectly healthy and so what if he's autistic". I kept going back and forth in my mind and this is what I finally came up with: My beautiful child Griffin is exactly as he is for whatever reason and if I want to shed some tears for the child he once was that's okay BUT maybe just maybe he is doing better now than he would have otherwise. Who am I to say? I mean, he is excelling beyond his Nuero-typical peers in many areas such as his reading, spelling, and counting . He is working at a first grade level and he just turned 4 years old! We are working on other skills it is true, like his social skills and some fine motor etc.. My point is that I have this wonderful child who is 90% of the time the most cheerful little guy you ever did wanna meet, it seems that hardly anything ever gets him down . I love HIM the way that he is and that means with the autism because at the age of 15 months it suddenly became "part of the package" and I have no resentment toward anybody or anything. What kind of purpose would that serve? I used to be angry and hateful toward the pharmaceutical companies for lying and I even once blamed Griffin's pediatrician thinking that he lied to me about the mercury in the vaccines. I am over that now because I live with Griffin just as he lives, in the here and now. I , if I am careful to pay attention, can catch a glimpse of the magic that he experiences by living in the moment. So now I choose to see that little tiny boy as one who wasn't lost at all but one who transformed into my happy "Sonshine" that he is today. Sure we went through some pretty rough stuff in the interim but it was all worth it when I hear him call me "mommy", make excellent eye contact, say "hello' to a complete stranger, share a toy with another child, give me big hugs just like the Teletubbies, and give me kisses when he tells me that he loves me. The lesson that I have learned is that it is so easy to mourn for what is gone and to be bitter and angry but with a bit more effort one can stop those ugly thoughts and cherish the present. Forget about the expectations of the future because that only sets one up for disappointment but I do believe in having hopes for my child and dreams and I realize that there are limitations with everything.
Now I look at that same picture tonight and I can't help but smile because I know that I love him unconditionally just as he loves me and that I am so very grateful for all that he is-- autism and all, Griffin is the best darn kiddo that I ever could have wished for.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

This is one of my favorite pictures of Griffin, I just love how it came out plus I like that it is in black and white . It just so happens that this is one of the few pictures that I put a date on so I know that he is 17 months old . It's the small things in life that are so important and bring such satisfaction that make my day brighter like looking at old photos of my little guy and seeing his smiling face. Griffin is usually smiling , he is truly a "Happy Camper"he very seldom gets upset anymore and is an affectionate little guy too. Today Griffin is in a great mood and is happy spelling and playing with his V-Smile. There's not much to report except that it is unseasonably warm here in Anchorage, it's 35 presently and the snow is melting , the sun is out and yesterday it got up to 48 degrees. It is warmer here than some areas in the lower 48 which many people don't believe is possible. I have writer's block so I am going to close for now. I just wanted to post so that nobody would wonder what the heck happened to us. We are doing well and I hope that I will be able to post something more interesting in the near future.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

This is a sample of Griffin's artwork on his Doodle Pro. To me it looks like a head with legs & feet but when I asked him who it was he said "Big Bird". Hey, who am I to judge? This looks like something a typical kiddo of 4 years might do whether or not they would call it Big Bird I don't know but that's beside the point. I was just happy to see him holding the pen correctly. I think that it's pretty cool that he got the ears , eyes, nose, mouth, and hair in the right spot all that's missing are the body and the arms . So, we can work on that but for now, I say "Good for you Griffin, excellent work little man!"

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

That Look of Pride

The first time ever I have seen Griffin glowing with a pure sense of pride. He wrote "FISH" all by himself on his Doodle Pro and he kept on showing it to me saying "Look mommy, fish" and my eyes watered from sheer joy of watching my son gleam with pride just like a regular kiddo. I don' t know if he has seen the word spelled out somewhere or not but I do know that there are fish on his V-Smile but not the words and I have a sneaking suspicion that he just figured it out on his own. No matter how or why at this point what is important is that he felt an emotion that NT kiddos feel and that more and more each day he is behaving like a NT child. I have noticed lately that he seems to feel pain much more than he ever used to. He actually reacts when he falls now and he always says, "Griffin, are you okay?" and perseverates until I say it back to him. Yea, he still does things that are very "autistic" and there are reminders here and there but not as often as before. His tantrums have nearly ceased to exist at all anymore. Something happened over the Christmas break while I was in the hospital and Griffin was staying with Kathleen. I could speculate all night long and never know exactly why but I do know that he has changed since then and I am so very proud of him. It has been suggested that I may have another "Temple Grandin on my hands" and by golly Peggy, I think you may just have a point there. More and more he amazes me yet doesn't surprise me. He progresses so rapidly that I can hardly keep up with what he knows/has learned each day. Griffin is becoming more high functioning and I am realizing that I am uneducated on how a NT kiddo acts, speaks, learns, etc.....I need to brush up on how to deal with NT children so that I can better understand this child that Griffin is becoming. I hope that those of you with autistic children can feel some sense of inspiration and hope for the possibility that your child too can progress and move toward the goal of having a bit of "NT" even if it's just a little bit, in his/here life. No matter what method is being used I have heard many stories of how children with autism have developed and eventually become more like NT kiddos. I was reading on one blog yesterday about how the child was acting NT on some days and autistic on all the other days. I can relate to that but Griffin has more like autistic moments and NT days lately. I am so very proud of him and absolutely elated that he was so happy and proud of his own accomplishment.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

This is Gayle, Griffin's Occupational Therapist, working with him in the pool. Gayle has worked with Griffin from 18 months through to 3 years old with the Programs for Infants and Children here in Anchorage and now she is working with him again. Griffin absolutely adores her and they get along famously. He has never had a tantrum with Gayle because her style and her methods are condusive to harmony. All I have seen him do is to laugh, play, and cooperate with her the whole time that they have worked together. I am thrilled that we have the opportunity to have Gayle as an O.T. again. Eventually, she is going to be working with him twice a week, once in the pool and the other in the clinic focusing on feeding issues and fine motor skills. Griffin needs to work on his tripod grasp of his writing utensils and get to the point where he always holds it properly. There are stll some issues that he has with food and I don't know if it is because of the autism or if it is just typical for a 4 year old as his pediatrician has reported to me. Whichever it may be we're going to work with him on it and hopefully get him to eat a wider variety of foods.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Ten Things That I Am Grateful For

When feeling down one of the best things for me to do to help keep everything in perspective is to make a list of all the things that I am grateful for. Here is a condensed version, feel free to make a list of your own.

1. Griffin Blaise and everything that he does. He is the greatest blessing that I could have ever hoped for. I feel priviledged to be his mother, to experience his infinite beauty and unconditional love. Griffin is the most precious of all the things in my life and truly the greatest gift.
2. My family who loves me without judging me or my decisions. I didn't get to choose them but since I've got 'em I feel fortunate that they are with me every step of the way. My mom & dad especially help me get through each day with honesty and candor which I couldn't do without.
3. My friends and my blogging buddies who lend their support in so many ways just by speaking to me from the heart offering support, and advice. What a tremendous help they are to me.
4. My physical health because I am the healthiest person that I have ever known. Thank goodness that I never ever get sick. This body has been good to me even though it feels a bit rickety sometimes
5. Alaska and all of its majesty and splendor. Even though it is a dark and cold winter I still love this place and will greatly miss it when we leave. The scenery is breathtaking and the people are truly unique especially compared to other places I have lived/visited.
6. Abby, Griffin's service dog who helps Griffin out a great deal by helping him stay grounded, Pisgah, our cat, who Griffin adores. He loves giving Pisgah hugs and has learned to stroke his fur. Pets are very therapeutic and help me each day to be calm and relax.
7. Shelter, food, and enough money to pay my bills each month. I have my bases covered with a teensy bit left over for other necessities.
8. My ability to write, albeit less than perfect, I can tell my stories such that others can understand. Hopefully, I will have helped someone through my writing in some small way and this is a treasure to me.
9. Modern technology: the internet and this computer without them I would not have the ability to do that which is so therapeutic for me such as this blog. I wouldn't be able to do the kind of research that I so love to do on autism for example.
10. Last but not least I am grateful for my life, for life in general of those whom I love so dearly. There have been times when I thought that life wasn't worth living but that was before my dear sweet Griffin. I shall not take it for granted or the things that I have listed above. Yea, so, I get down and feel despair but not to worry, I still love life and all that it has to offer good, bad, or indifferent. I will take it all and turn it around to make sure that Griffin has a mommy who is doing her very best at taking care of him and ensuring his happiness .

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Griffin's Birthday Party at School

These are pictures from Griffin's birthday party that he had in his classroom with his little buddies. Kathleen, his teacher, got him this Elmo book. Doesn't he look like such a big boy? :)

Here he is ready to gobble up his Elmo cake, it was so yummy. For those of you familiar with PECS you can see his book there on the table.
Even though Griffin is verbal he still uses PECS in the classroom .

We all had pepperoni pizza (Griffin's favorite), cake, and ice cream and I do believe that he had a really fun time.