Single Moms Raising Autistic Sons

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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.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

My Fears and Griffin's Safety

This a post about my greatest fears and one of them is me losing grasp of his hand and having him run off into traffic or getting lost. That is why, shown here, Griffin has on this harness with a leash. When we go out in public and he is not in a cart like in the grocery store, then I put this harness on him just in case. He is quick and when he has gotten loose from me I could barely catch up to him. I don't even care what people comment on when they see him in it or what they think because his safety is way too important for me to care about them. Another one of my fears is if we had a fire in our apartment and even though his bedroom is right next to mine I often wonder if I would be able to find him. What if he became disoriented and began to wander about or crawled under something. It really really scares me because he has no sense of fear himself, he doesn't understand danger at all.
As with any other caring and concerned parent I wonder about these things and hope to protect my child the best that I can. However, there are times when I feel helpless at the thought of something happening. I have put 2 extra smoke/fire alarms up, one in each bedroom in order to better help warn me in the event of a fire but I sure wish that there was something else that I could do to help me feel that he/we are safer. I even put an information packet on the front door explaining Griffin's autism so that the first responders would know, and hopefully are properly trained, that an autistic child is inside and how to best deal with the situation. I also have all the emergency information posted on the inside of the front door with phone numbers of those to contact in case of an emergency. It also states that Griffin may run away from someone offering help, he doesn't understand danger , and that he may fight with someone offering help. Are these fears rational? Or am I just a wacko lunatic who happens to be paranoid? Regardless of all my fears I try hard to allow Griffin his freedom and as much independence as possible because I know how important that is for his development.
If anyone has a comment or you have words of support to help alleviate my fears then I say "Bring it on" please, by all means. Love to you all and hugs :)

Friday, June 09, 2006

Remembering the Love

Isn't it such a beautiful thing to watch your child sleeping? They are so angelic and peaceful. I don't know which I like better, taking pictures of him laughing and playing or sleeping. I guess that they each have their own appeal because they are both so precious in their own way. With every photo that I take I fall in love with him over and over again. The photos remind me of how fortunate I am to have such a wonderful child and within each image there lies the essence of what life is all about, the beauty of this innocent soul. I count my blessings each and every day and do my best to not take him or his unconditional love for granted. When Griffin has undesirable behaviors I tend to forget temporarily that he is the reason I live and breathe that he is the epitome of why life is so precious and worth living but I always snap out of it and remember why I love him so and why I was put on the face of this earth. There lies a part of me that I can always love and care for no matter how frustrated I might become at times with him. I have a friend who is struggling with her child's autism and how badly it effects him and boy do I feel for her because I do recall hating autism and what it caused my child to do like hurting himself. There have been times when I not only hated his autism but hated being Bipolar and what it has done to me. It was a challenge for me for years but now I have come to accept it, of course being on the right medications has made all the difference in the world for me. I would like to tell my friend that it's okay to be angry and hate the autism because it is a natural response to what she is experiencing with her child. Also that it may pass in time and she may come to accept it as part of their lives but in the meantime I encourage her to continue being the wonderful mommy that she is and never forget to give herself credit for taking such wonderful care of her son. For those of you who are going through the stage of hatred and anger just remember to do as my friend does and keep the focus on the child and not the autism. Also remember that there is hope for things to be different in the future. Griffin is a living example of how far children with autism can grow and develop. He has come a long way but it has taken time, it didn't happen overnight. I attribute his success to the remarkable therapies that he has had and the education he gets at school. I think that what has made the biggest difference is the Early Intervention that he has had since age 15 months until 3 years old. It gave him the head start that he needed to grow and learn and have the structure and routine that he needed to help him develop.

I have had 10,408 visits to the blog since November 10, 2005 and I would like to say thank you to everyone who visits this blog. I hope that you are enjoying reading about Griffin and myself and all the experiences that we have each week. Hopefully you are able to take something with you from this blog that is useful to you in some way. Take care my dear friends and have a great day!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Picnic and A Tub of Water

Yesterday we went to the "end of school" picnic for the autism classroom. There was the families, the staff, and friends there and I even met a former student of Kathleen's (the teacher) who I couldn't even tell that he's autistic or even ever was autistic. He seemed like a regular NT kiddo to me, he was about 7 or 8 yrs. of age and quite articulate. His mother reported proudly that he didn't start talking until age 5 yrs and now he is as verbal as any other child his age. It was encouraging to see this child doing so well, it seemed that the only major issue they faced was that he is a very picky eater and still has issues with food. At least that was the only issue at the moment. It was nice to be around so many other parents of autistic children and connect with them. Makes me wish that there was a picnic like every 3 months or so or some kind of meeting so that we could support each other and share our stories. Kathleen is an awesome teacher and Karen as well as Ed are pretty darn incredible as teacher's assistants. Together they make for happy and successful classroom of students including and especially my Griffin Blaise.

I think that this picture came out pretty cool looking. It's of Griffin in a tub of water that I had made for him because it was hot outside and we didn't have a kiddie pool for him to play in. I thought about getting on of those inflatable kind but they are kind of expensive for our budget and the summer just doesn't last that long here to make it worth it to spend that kind of money.I can't get one of the cheapy kinds because I don't have a vehicle to haul it in nor do I know someone who has a truck. Anyhow, if I can find a way to splurge then I will get him a pool but for now he enjoys having the tub of water (it's actually a storage container) to splash in and cool off. He doesn't seem to mind that it is rather small just as long as there's enough water in it to cover his little body when he sits down in it.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

O.T. with Gayle

Griffin is in his Tuesday O.T. at the pool and he is really relaxed and trusts Gayle completely, He doesn't even mind when he accidently goes underwater even if he is coughing. I am so proud of him and of how great he's been doing. Thanks to Gayle for doing such an incredible job with Griffin and for being so patient and compassionate in dealing with him. He has grown in leaps and bounds since he has been working with her. There are so many different ways in which he has excelled, one of which is while he is in the water. At home he has shown me that his self help skills are improving greatly and needs little motivation to get things done. Griffin needs only to be asked once to do something such as with cleaning up and he happily complies. He is growing up so fast.

This is Griffin in O.T. with Gayle and you can tell that he is having a great time which is almost always the case, it is rare that he doesn't want to cooperate with her. Gayle is so great with him and seems to know exactly how to deal with Griffin so that he has fun and learns at the same time. Here he is kind of goofing off on the rope ladder by sitting down and taking a break but he loves climbing on it and it is really good for his gross motor skills.