Single Moms Raising Autistic Sons

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Griffin and His Dance Performance

I took a short video of Griffin at his dance performance at school but apparently it is too large a file 12.7 MB and on here I can only upload 11MB...Bummer! Anyhow, he did a great job, he didn't miss a move/step and kept up with the music and other children perfectly. They did two dances, his shadow was beside him on the first one but he danced with a classmate on the second one. My mom went with us and we first went to his classroom to see all of his excellent writing and artwork, his shadow had showed me the difference from before the new medicine and after and it was so incredible and creative afterwards. She said that he came up with the sentences all on his own, he even wrote a story or two all by himself. I am so very proud of him and all of his accomplishments.

The photo is of Griffin at bedtime with his Doodle Pro and his VHS tape, he has been drawing and writing like crazy and he has perfected a lot of what he does because he will write/draw them over and over until he is satisfied with the outcome. He seems to find it very relaxing because he does it throughout the day and into the night and he is always so mellow when he is using the Doodle Pro.

He had a major meltdown today, his shadow called me and asked if he had had his meds in the morning and he had. So I called his doctor and he said that we just don't know enough about autism to figure out what causes meltdowns sometimes but for sure it wasn't the new medicine causing it. If he does it again and it is so severe then we might consider increasing the Abilify for severe mood swings. He has been taking it for a year so it might be time for a change or it could have just been a sensory overload.

Griffin is lying down about to go to sleep so I am going to go tell him goodnight and see if he will let me snuggle with him until he sleeps.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Superstar Student for a Week

Griffin was the Superstar Student for the week which I thought was really cool. I took Chuckey Sue on Friday to show to the class and the teacher was amazed at how mellow she was. Chuckey Sue loves to be held and petted therefore she doesn't try to scamper away like most little critters. He seemed to feel so proud that his mommy and his pet hamster were there in front of the class and they had lots of questions to ask about her.

Each day is so amazing, Griffin is so much like a new guy all the time and it is due to his recent addition of the Focalin XR. He is like two different individuals when he is on and off of it, he is so relaxed and calm when it is in his system and he doesn't get frustrated with most anything at all. He stays on task and focuses on whatever (one) thing that he is doing and doesn't move from one project to another as he used to.

I went to a gathering of sorts to sell handmade soap and skin care products for my dear friend in Washington state but it was quite disappointing. The products sell themselves because they are so incredibly awesome but the only major problem was that there were so few people attending and there just wasn't enough traffic perhaps because it was so far out and there was a big event going on in the next town over. Oh well, maybe one of you would like to try some, just let me know because you will not belive how wonderful this soap and lotion and other products are. The soap is made with pure essential oils and goat's milk and it doesn't leave your skin dry and taunt. The lotion is my favorite because my skin loves it, I only have to use a small amount, it doesn't break my skin out but for sure my skin is softer and always feels moisturized after each application...I use it morning and night on my face, neck, body, feet, and it helps with that super dry skin that is on the feet and elbows. It is very healing especially for sunburn and many other skin conditions. Let me know if you would like samples and I will get them to you, you will just love it.

I made an "A" in my World Religions class and I loved every moment of it and learned a lot. I do look forward to the next class and learning lots more in English Composition. Did I write about that already? Hope not but it is quite possible....sorry if I have...silly me!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

You are so Right Melissa H, Thank You my Dear Friend

I will no longer write to or concerning the anon individual who keeps posting and subtley attacking me about how I am being an overly sensitive mom and that the teacher from Griffin's past was "doing her best". No longer will I waste my energy on this, I have support from my friends who totally know the two of us and who know that I am a damn good mom to my son!!!!!

Almost a week ago I took Griffin to his pediatrician and the two of us agreed that we would try Focalin XR for Griffin's attention difficulties and by is working like a charm! He has excellent reports from school that his behavior is stellar and he is progressing again as he once was. Since it is an ADD med then I thought that he has ADD but the child psychologist that we went to see yesterday explained to me that he does not have multiple diagnosis, that those behaviors and challenges are part of being autistic, even the once thought of...bipolar disorder. I had no idea of this even though I have spent years and years researching and studying all about autism. I guess that some docs do give multiple diagnosis and that's okay, as long as the child is getting what he/she needs.

I am noticing fewer meltdowns, virtually none, and a much happier young man who is the happy-go-lucky little goober that he once was. No longer is life a big fat challenge where making a simple decision is a major ordeal. And what's really great is that he is responding well to the lowest dose possible, he is not even up to the theraputic dosage.

Another thing that I learned from the child psychologist is that there is a list of things to do and not to do in order to help one's child become more independent and the first two are the least intrusive thereby causing no meltdowns (or at least fewer) and the others are most likely to cause emotional disturbances and create a more dependent child. It goes as follows:

eye contact least intrusive most independent
visual aids more intrusive less independent
verbal cues more intrusive more dependent
tactile help most intrusive most dependent

So if you can get the message across through eye contact then it is ideal and visual cues are most effective in that they teach the child to be more independent (like PECS or even pointing to the task) or for Griffin I just write on a piece of paper and make a visual schedule for him (now I do). To verbally give instructions takes away independence and frustrates the child because he/she is not doing things on their own. Of course helping a child with hand over hand or leading them to where the task is to be executed is the most intrusive. And I am so guilty of doing that. I used to lead Griffin to the bathtub to take a shower and every time he would have a meltdown so now I just point and he is fine. Isn't it amazing how simple things can be?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

One Must be Familiar with the Circumstances in Order to Form an Opinion

This link is for Anonymous who says that she is a teacher and to not blame the teacher for what has happened to Griffin. If you only take the time to read this blog you would know where we are coming from. You are apparently not familiar with what has happened and if you are and you are still saying that then something is very WRONG.

Just take a moment and read what I have written and the written material that his past teacher sent home with him and keep in mind that my son is autistic not Down Syndrome and not an Neuro-Typical child either.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Sharing What Works for Parents and Teachers of Young Children with Behavior Difficulties

Amanda left a comment on this blog and I found my way to her blog, it looks as though she just started it but it is awesome. Check it out it is called: Learning to be Buddies and her first post is about Body Language, Empathy, and Facial is so informative and fantastic. She is a teacher in Australia and has a very open mind and appears to be quite intelligent and loving.

Friday, April 10, 2009

How 1 Young Autistic Man Runs a Business

Joe Steffy is off to Overland Park, Kan., this week to do a PowerPoint presentation on his business, Poppin' Joe's Kettle Korn. He's a 23-year-old small-business man with a goal of $100,000 in sales by 2012. Joe also has autism and Down syndrome and is nonverbal. When he gives his talk, he will push buttons on an augmentative speech device to deliver the words. His audience will be parents who fervently hope their own special-needs children will be able to work, too.

Joe's parents, Ray and Janet, of Louisburg, Kan., didn't agree with the assessment of the school district in which they lived previously, which had said Joe would never be able to work or live independently. "I'm one who can easily get ticked off," says Ray. "That ticked me off. We saw more in Joe than that. We set out to prove to the school that he had capabilities." They came across kettle corn while on a trip to Alaska and realized that all that popping, scooping, and serving suited Joe's love of work.

The path to Joe Steffy's success was not an easy one; Ray Steffy worked closely with Dave Hammis, an advocate for self-employment for people with disabilities in Middletown, Ohio, who trains business owners, government employees, and parents on how to make use of state and federal programs. The Steffys wrote up a business plan and helped Joe secure $25,000 in grants from programs like Social Security Administration'sPlan to Achieve Self-Support program (PASS).

In 2005, Poppin' Joe's Kettle Korn was born. Sales have grown from $16,000 in 2005 to $50,000 in 2008, both from selling at festivals and from delivering popcorn to local outlets. Joe has five part-time employees, and his parents help out with driving and other tasks. "Pop and everyone that works with him knows whatever Joe wants to do you let him do, because he's the boss," Ray says. "If he wants to pop, he'll shove Dad out of the way and pop."

If the business stays on track, it should be grossing more than $100,000 in three years, and the Steffys are seeking a business partner who can work with Joe to manage the business. Joe is no longer on Social Security disability payments; instead, he pays state sales tax and state and federal income tax. He rents his own house and is helped by caregivers who are paid by a state program.

"It's been hard work, from the standpoint of physical work," says Ray Steffy, who is 67. "But a parent with a child like Joe has a choice. You can either kick in and do this kind of thing, or you can sit and fret emotionally with the amount of energy, worrying about what's going to happen to them."

The payoff for that effort, as far as the Steffys are concerned, has been priceless. They see their son make a local popcorn delivery, accept payment, fold it, and put it in his pocket. When he walks out, his dad says, Joe looks 3 inches taller than when he walked in. 

US News. Written by Nancy Shute

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Spring Break

Griffin's behavior since he has been out of school has been simply wonderful, no meltdowns at all. He cleans up and does his chores without any flack and he has been just perfectly polite using his manners at every turn. Don't know why he is being so difficult at school but he has been fine at home. I asked his OT yesterday about his behavior and she told me that yes, he does tell her "No" but she is firm with him but at the same time she gives an inch and in return he gives a mile. Maybe that's what needs to be done at school. I don't know if his teachers and his shadow have experience with autism or any kind of training but I do plan to ask during the BIP meeting next week.

I had thought that this week would be a challenge but we have had lots of fun together and I am pleased with his behavior. I made an A on my research essay that I wrote about "Wicca Today in America". The professor gave me a 29.5 out of a possible 30......WOO HOO!!!! My next challenge will be the final exam in 2 weeks. But so far so good!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Yahoooo!!! Somebody Sees My Side of Things and Tells the Truth

Anonymous wrote: (see what I wrote in the previous post about this comment)

Please stop blaming his past teacher. As a teacher of children with autism this will do you or your child no good. Educators may make mistakes but are not the cause of your child's behavior. When I see this with parents who have children with behavioral issues it is so frustrating and really helps noone.

April 05, 2009 11:12 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To clueless Anon.- what is frustrating are "teachers" who are teaching kids on the spectrum who have NO CLUE. If you read closely regarding this case in particular that teacher had no behavior plan for this child, no clue how to break down skills and teach in an errorless manner using positive behavior practices (which is required by FEDERAL LAW) and she used extremely reactive and punishing procedures. "Teachers" such as that should stop pretending to understand how to teach kids on the spectrum and should STOP denying the kids FAPE under IDEA. Furthermore, there is an old saying in good ABA teaching in particular (and in all methods of teaching kids on the spectrum)--when a child is having problems "look to the teaching, not the child" meaning it is up to the teacher or therapist to have a complete understanding of behaviors and erroless teaching and be delivering it in a way so the child is successful. Teachers who have no clue to the extensive needs of autism spectrum children end up increasing their behaviors and then who do they blame? The child of course. Really, do the kids a favor and get out of the industry. You are destroying the kids who need experienced instructors.

April 05, 2009 2:13 PM

To clueless anon. Please read the other message I posted and get the hell out of the industry if this is your attitude towards parents and their children on the spectrum!

My Child is NOT to Blame and YES the Teacher is to Blame

 This post is just a reply to a comment left on my last post stating that I should stop blaming his old teacher for his behavior issues in the present. And that teacher's make mistakes but they are not to blame for his behavior issues now. 

What I have to say to that is that , yes teachers do make mistakes and quite often they make a lasting impression on their students, I remember things that my elementary school teachers did to me and how they have effected me over the years and still do to a certain extent. So how is it that a teacher scorning a child for making mistakes does not leave a lasting impression? Pray tell.

I believe that teachers have to own what they do and don't do to their students to take responsibility for their actions and words used in repremanding a child, they should think twice about what they do before saying or doing something because the memories do last forever.