Single Moms Raising Autistic Sons

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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.