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.