Single Moms Raising Autistic Sons

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Saturday, April 29, 2006

Autism and K.C.

Autism and K.C. is a blog that you will want to visit over and over again because Tina writes so well about the life and times of K.C. and his Big Brother. Join me in welcoming her back and letting her know that we care and are interested in what goes on in their lives. It is fascinating the progress that K.C. has made lately and it's fun to hear all the stories of Big Brother's great imagination and intellect. Go and check out their blog, you'll be glad that you did.

Here is Griffin with Gayle in O.T, he is climbing the rope ladder. He seemed to do okay while going up the ladder but going down was too much of a challenge for him apparently because he would just laugh, let go, and fall down to the mat. While climbing up he was a bit more serious and seemed to really want to make it to the top. In this photo Griffin is getting help from Gayle in helping him down the ladder, it is a lot of work for anyone to climb and desend a ladder like that much less a little 4 year old. I think that he did a great job. Griffin went to the zoo with his class on Friday and I went along as well. I am so proud of him because he did so well. He was the only child out of all the students 8 (I think) who wasn't crying. Griffin was his usual happy camper self and just seemed to have a blast watching all the animals. He especially had fun at the petting zoo of course. I just think that it is amazing that he didn't become overwhelmed with his surroundings because there are so many different sights, sounds, and odors too. So, I understand how the other children became upset probably from sensory overload. It was pretty chilly outside too, my hands were freezing, I am sure that it was a contributing factor in the whole situation. Today is really nice and we are about to go out and take Griffiin's service dog, Abby for a walk Hugs to all of you and have a great day!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Griffin Loves Animals

Griffin absolutely adores animals. When he is around them it is like magic. His favorite animal is our cat "Pisgah" and of course he loves his service dog, "Abby". Griffin is an affectionate little guy with me and other people like my family but he is most affectionate with the animals. He is always giving big hugs to Pisgah and petting him so nicely. Here you can see the sheer joy on Griffin's face as he pets the horse. My mom is holding him and of course she is thrilled, as was I, that he enjoyed feeding the horses carrots and petting them. He is definately like his mommy because I have always loved animals ever since I can remember and have always had them in my life. I highly recommend , if you are able to do it, that any of you who have a child with autism that you consider getting a service dog or even just a pet of some kind because it can make a world of difference with your child's behavior. Before we got Abby, Griffin would bang his head all the time especially when we were out in public. He had many negetive behaviors that seemed to just disappear once Abby came along. Now, Abby goes with us everywhere and she wasn't even professionally trained. I trained her myself and she is absolutely awesome. I don't know about other states but in Alaska it is not necessary for a service dog to be trained professionally. All that matters is that the dog is well behaved in public and of course it is necessary for the dog to be gentle and to have never shown any signs of aggression or having been protective in any way. I know that I have probably written about Abby before but I just want everyone to know about how wonderful a service dog can be for a child/individual with autism. Griffin had speech today and he did okay . Lisa worked on sequencing which he is not quite ready for so mostly he observed her doing it herself. Then they worked on opposites and he did okay with that with a little help. Lisa got him to answer some "wh" questions such as: What goes here? and What else is green? etc.... She said that even though the sequencing is a bit advanced for him that it is good that he is getting exposed to them anyhow. Griffin got a case of the sillies for awhile which usually means that he needs a break, Lisa is really good at recognizing this and he recovered nicely after his break. Tomorrow, Griffin has O.T. with Gayle at the clinic and he had swimming on Tuesday which went really really well of course. Gayle is so good with him, she taught him to say"I'm jumping" so that she would know that he is about to jump off the ledge that is in the kid's swimming pool. Once he jumped without her knowing he was going to and he plunged under the water and caught them both by surprise. I think that it scared him just enough to help teach him a lesson but at the same time he had a smile on his face as he was coughing. Thanks a bunch Gayle and Lisa for all your hard work and dedication. We love ya!

Monday, April 24, 2006

I Miss My Family

I miss my family so very much. I know that I keep going on about it but it just breaks my heart that Griffin bonded with them so well and now he cannot see them anymore. It is also hard for me because I am so close with them and I can't have their support, the kind that I need, so far away. I have little to no support up here because the friends that I do have do not help me watch Griffin on a regular basis only in emergency situations. Therefore, I am without support and the closeness that I need so much. I am sure that I will adjust with time and learn to be alone again like I have been for so many years. I know that it sounds as if I am complaining and I don't mean for it to be that way. I love the people who are up here who care about me and Griffin, they are very special to me and I know that they are always there for me if I need them in a pinch. I only wish that I could spend more time with them. There have been opportunities for me to meet new people but I am just not the kind of social creature who likes to meet new people. The friends that I do have don't have children so we don't get together to do play dates. I have searched for groups of moms who have children Griffin's age and are autistic but have had no luck because there are no groups that have been formed. Maybe one day I will take the iniciative and try to put together a bunch of moms with autistic children but for now it is not on my agenda. I sure do hope that this publishes because I have had problems with Blogger the past two days. I have composed several posts and once I click on Publish Post my entire post just disappeared. So, I am taking a chance and trying once more. Speaking of, I don't want to make this too terribly long just in case it does disappear this time. That way I won't be quite as upset if the post is not that long. Here's hoping that it works. Oh yes, and the picture above is of my brother and Griffin. My brother is 5 years younger than I and my sister is 1 yr. older which makes me the middle child :) and that is another story in itself :)

Friday, April 21, 2006

Griffin's IEP Meeting

Griffin is watching one of his favorite DVD's here with his cousin Emma and Auntie Lisa in S.C. Today Griffin woke up and said, " Let's go see NaNa." and it made me shed some tears as I told him that he could not. I don't know if he understood but I explained to him that it will be awhile before we would be able to see NaNa and PaPa again. I am pretty sure that it bothered me much more than it did him. I met with Griffin's teacher, Kathleen, and his SLP, Marcia, at the school today for his IEP meeting and to sign the papers for the ESY( extended school year/summer school). Marcia said that Griffin has made excellent progress. The Progress Report reads as follows: Although Griffin continues to verbalize often without the intent to communicate, he is demonstrating an increase in his spontaneous, meaningful utterances. These utterances also include emerging use of varied communication intentions. In a recent 39 utterance sample, he responded appropriately to 2 conversational questions; made a comment ("upside down") while looking at a picture; and called adult's attention to an item of interest by saying, "Look" and pointing. We are trying to teach him to say "Look" or something similar rather than, "Hi" to initially gain attention. However, his desire to bring attention to himself and to items of interest is a sign of growth in his communication competence. There is so much on the IEP-Progress Report that is positive and shows excellent progress but I don't have the energy to type it all out tonight, perhaps I will continue with more tomorrow. I am just happy to say that I am so very proud of my little guy and that I am very fortunate because I have heard so many stories of how awful some IEP meetings can be yet I have always had wonderful IEP meetings. Thanks in large part to the fact that Griffin has had wonderful teachers and O.T.'s and SLP's throughout his time in school. I say "Thank you ladies for all that you have done for my beautiful child Griffin." You have made our lives so much more fulfilled and enriched.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Griffin and Hayley

Griffin really bonded with his cousin Hayley. Here they are after playing really hard in the hotel room the night before we left to come home. It is such a sweet picture but it makes me feel like crying because I know how much she must miss him and how much I miss her and the rest of my family. I am hoping that perhaps we will be able to visit them again in the fall because it is just too hard to be away from them even though I know it is for the best, for Griffin's sake. I have checked into some of the schools that are private in Western North Carolina and I simply would not be able to afford sending Griffin to one. I am considering moving to Wisconsin where my friend Amy lives. She has sent me information on the school system and the services available to children with autism there. So far it seems to be really good but I'll have to see if they are comparable to the system here in Alaska.
Griffin just got home from school is he is a wild boy today! He is running around in circles and laughing his little head off while watching Zoboomafoo. It seems that the trip has had little to no effect on him and that really makes me glad. He never stopped being himself the entire time that we were gone and is still the same ol' happy little camper that he usually is. Check back again soon, maybe tomorrow even, because I will be posting more pictures from the trip.

Monday, April 17, 2006

We Are Home

Here is my mom with Griffin, I didn't mean to cut my dad out of the picture, and as you can see there was lots of happiness going on when they were together. Our trip was fantastic and way too short. Griffin was a trooper and adjusted quite well to all the transitions and changes from day to day. Nearly every day we would either be changing households or location always moving about and going places and Griffin just kept his happy-go-lucky positive attitude. He showed a lot of affection toward everyone in the family much to my surprise. He even showed some affection toward the flight attendant, Leslie, who was ever so helpful on our flight from Minneapolis to Anchorage on Northwest Airlines. Griffin had a pretty bad meltdown when we were boarding the aircraft at Minneapolis. I found that once I let the passengers in the near vicinity that my son had autism they were so very kind, understanding, and helpful. There were actually a few men onboard who helped by holding Griffin and Abby (Griffin's service dog) while I got situated. Griffin had a hard time on the flight I think partly due to the fact that he had a pretty high temperature and didn't feel well. Eventually, he went to sleep after crying and screaming for about an hour, I guess that he just wore himself out. I will be posting more photos on my next post In the meantime, I just wanted to let everyone know what has been going on since my last post.
There was so many reasons to decide to move to N.C. or S.C. because I want us to be near my family but I found out that the services in either state are not even comparable to what is available to Griffin here in Alaska. I was told by the woman at the TEACCH office that both states are not very good for services, not just for the TEACCH program but for all other services, especially N.C. because it is mandated and it has an influx of people moving there thinking that there is going to be great services and ultimately are disappointed because the system cannot support the amount of people. She told me that it would be best for us to stay in Alaska at least until he is ready to be mainstreamed into regular ed. So, I guess that for now we won't be moving to the lower 48. This is sad news for me and my family because I had so wanted to move to be closer to them and have lots of love and support.
For the time being we will stay here and Griffin will continue with his services at his school, which are excellent, and his private O.T. (twice a week) and his private speech therapy. We will continue to receive free diapers through Medicaid and full coverage of medical services too. It is a good thing for him and I am very grateful that we live in a state that takes autism seriously and makes life so much easier and less complicated for us.
I will be posting again soon to continue telling you about our wonderful trip and adding more photos.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Griffin Bonded with NaNa and PaPa

Griffin has been doing so very well that it just astounds me. He woke me up this morning at 5:30 saying "Let's go see NaNa and PaPa over and over until finally he went into their room and woke them up. It was a good thing that they were planning on getting up at that time already because my dad was due to have surgery this morning. Griffin gave them both hugs and said "good morning". He has bonded with my parents so well and actually seems to miss them today. As he was sitting on the toilet using it all by himself, he asked for NaNa and PaPa again and again. Now, to me , that is a big deal that he misses them so much. When my sister came by to visit, Griffin was doing a great job at initiating social interaction and wanted her to tickle him. It truly warms my heart that even though Griffin has never met these family members that he loves them all the same and warmed up to them as though he has known them his whole life. I will keep you posted on what we are doing to the best of my ability. We might be in a hotel room for a few nights so in that case I won't be able to post but as soon as I am at a computer again I'll let ya know what we're up to. I haven't checked my e-mail as often as I would like but I do still get it so Tina, Amy, and Steve, I will get your e-mail and will try to write back if I am able. Until next time take care all and hope you are all well, I sure do miss reading your blogs but I'm sure that I'll catch up as soon as we return home. Oh yea, I am having some technical difficulty with the camera situation so sorry there's no photos yet, but for sure after we get home I will have lots (I think)

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

We Are Here in South Carolina

It is our second day here in S.C. and the weather is beautiful. The long flight was grueling because I didn't sleep a wink. Griffin did sleep, however, because I had given him the medication so it made it better for him and easier for me. He did wake up during our layover in Minneapolis but sat quietly in the stroller as we waited for our next flight. Abby got lots of attention from the flight attendants and the captain even called ahead to Minneapolis to make sure that there would be someone there to take Abby outside to do her business. Sure enough, by the time I walked in, the gate agent greeted me and let me know that there would be a man coming to take Abby out. He showed up a few minutes later and took her out but she wouldn't do anything so he told me that he would be back to try again later. After only several minutes he had returned, took her out again with success this time. I am so grateful to the people of Northwest Airlines for their kindness and consideration of Abby, Griffin's service dog. It has been so very nice to see my parents again after 4 long years it means the world to me. Griffin has made the adjustment quite well and has shown no signs of ill behavior due to being away from familiar surroundings. He loves my mom and dad and has warmed up to them with great ease. My parents are simply thrilled to no end with his presence here, giving him lots of love and attention. I had much rather go outside and enjoy this beautiful weather and go spend time with my family than to be in here on this computer but I wanted to let my dear friends know what's going on here. We send all of you lots of hugs and smiles and hopefully I will have figured out the camera situation by the time I post next.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Getting Ready to Leave

I am writing this the night before we are due to leave because there is still a lot to do to get ready to leave. I wanted to let everyone know that we are about to go to the lower 48 to visit my family in N.C. and S.C. and I will be writing on the blog from there complete with pictures of our family. I am so excited but still anxious at the same time but I am sure that it will be a wonderful trip. I probably won't have time to visit your blogs while I am away and I will miss you all. I hope that you all are very well and that you have a happy two weeks while I'm away. The first leg of our flight will be 5 hours to Minneapolis then 1 1/2 hrs. layover, then we arrive in Atlanta 2 1/2 hours later. I sure hope that I can get some sleep. As I mentioned before, I am giving Griffin the melatonin to help him sleep and the Clonodine 1/4 tablet if necessary to make sure that he sleeps the entire flight because it is a red-eye and we'll be flying all night long. Please take a look at the book in the previous post and do consider buying it . I'm getting a copy as soon as I get to S.C. Well, I am getting very tired and still have stuff to do. Take care everyone, see ya soon!