Single Moms Raising Autistic Sons

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Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Best Psychologist For Griffin... Imaginable

For starters, I canceled the IEP meeting until I can get one of the advocate from the Autism Society to go with me. With that said.....I took Griffin to a new psychologist yesterday and boy was I ever impressed! He was amazing!

First of all he engaged Griffin and interacted with him and didn't just sit there and talk to me about Griffin. He put a video on for Griffin (Milo and Otis) and as he was talking to me he was observing Griffin and how he was reacting to the movie. So, when Griffin would laugh at the movie the doctor would pause the movie and ask Griffin what it was about the movie that he liked. Griffin was not forthcoming but I thought that it was great that the doctor made that effort.I appreciated that he talked to Griffin and interacted with him and not just talking to me as if Griffin wasn't even in the room. He talked about Griffin's sensory issues and reminded me of how they affect him and cause his meltdowns, and I say remind because I have forgotten how sensitive he really is to external stimulation and all the other doctors that we have seen have not mentioned it so I have not given it as much thought as was needed. So, I was grateful for him to remind me of this. I needed to go back to the elementary/rudimentary education that I learned about so many years ago because his meltdowns have increased lately and I've got to help him avoid them instead of just coping with them once they've begun.

When I told the doctor that the school was trying to take away Griffin's speech therapy he shook his head in disgust and when I told him which school he told me that he wasn't surprised. He made sure that I was going to have an advocate go with me from the Autism Society and I confirmed that I was. He expressed that if he didn't have communication delays/issues then he wouldn't be autistic, which actually one of my followers had mentioned to me in her comments. Let's think about it.....autism = communication delays + social delays + (in Griffin's case) hyperlexia = all that he was working on in his speech therapy.

This doctor had asked me what I wanted to accomplish by seeing him and I told him that I wanted to address the meltdown issues. And I had mentioned the medication. He kind of chuckled and let me know quite frankly the lowdown on how it all works.....if I go to see him for advice then he is going to use a psychological approach in dealing with behavioral issues, whereas if we go to a psychiatrist or pediatrician then they of course are going to talk about medications. So, it was important for me to decide which one it is that I thought was the approach that I wanted to take. I was so immensely impressed by him that I let him know that I wanted us to come back to see him as soon as possible.

We got about a foot of snow, went out and played in it last night and today. Thank goodness we didn't lose power as was predicted. Griffin just loves it and so does Abby. We have lots of food so we are well prepared for being stuck here for several days. There are 3 cars stuck at the entrance of the entire apartment complex so there is no way in or out. Hope there is no emergency or no need for the power truck to get in or else they are out of luck. We stay busy on the computer, reading, Griffin plays with his Legos, I do cleaning and studying so it's not so bad.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The System Wants to Take Away His Speech Therapy

Finally, after how many months? Let's started in August of last year and I have practically been begging for an I.E.P. ever since then and yes I even put it in writing and nothing ever came of it. They lollygagged around so that they didn't get in trouble with the rules, the took their time testing and such and NOW that school is practically over, in a matter of a few months.......they want to have an I.E.P. and better yet they want to take Griffin's speech therapy away from him!

I spoke to his speech teacher last week and she told me that she feels that his speech issues is just a matter of self-esteem and that his peers can understand him just fine. Well, let me tell you this my friend...NO they cannot! When I took Griffin's service dog for show-n-tell one of his peers came up to me and asked me what was wrong with Griffin because she couldn't understand what he says. Then this winter one of the neighborhood kids came up to me and asked me what Griffin was saying because he couldn't understand him. top all that off....half the time I can hardly understand what he says myself!

Granted, he is doing much better at slowing down and annunciating his words much better without me having to ask him to but there are still times that I have to ask him to repeat himself several times in order to understand what he has just said. And exactly what does she mean by self-esteem issues? Does she mean that my child has a home life that is so hard that he cowers when spoken to in public? That when he is around others he doesn't know how to act because he doesn't have a good example to live by at home? What does that mean? And how could it not be a direct insult to me? I AM the only parent he has and the ONLY influence that he has so it would have to be me who would be to blame right?????

Let's just say that his peers could understand him. Then we still have the hyperlexia to deal with. He still needs to work on his reading comprehension. He still needs to work on his conversation skills on his socialization skills. All of these he was working on in his speech class two times a week and I do believe that it was helping him and making a big difference. So, why would his teacher want to take it away from him? I cannot figure this one out. Does anyone have an idea? Apparently medicaid is paying for the class so it is not a funding issue, there is no funding conflict with his private speech therapy. And the fact that he is taking private speech has zero influcence over whether or not he gets it in school or not. Besides they are working on completely different issues in private speech anyhow.

Any ideas anyone? I was hoping that Griffin's new case manager would be helpful but he came over today and didn't seem to be so willing to pull for Griffin. I mean he will be going to the meeting but he was saying that if it didn't work in Griffin's favor then.....Well, by *** it IS going to work in his favor because I am NOT going to sign an I.E.P. that does not include speech therapy end of story!!!!!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Seven Things About Myself

I wasn't tagged but I thought that it might be fun to have a go of it to give 7 things about myself that my new friends don't know but MIGHT find interesting. Here it goes:

1. If you check my photos you will find some pretty risque photos of me and wonder what the heck they are all about. Well, I was an exotic dancer/showgirl for 6 years in Alaska and in Las Vegas. I really did NOT like it but made tons of money which allowed me to travel around the United States and Europe but now how nothing to show for it other than experience. And NO I do not look like that anymore! Many women think that it is a glamorous occupation but it is very challenging emotionally and psychologically.

2. I used to be a ballroom dance instructor for Fred Astaire Dance Studios in Anchorage, Alaska. Loved it but it paid very little so I didn't stick with it, couldn't live off of how little it paid. Worked two jobs but it was too exhausting.

3. For several years I worked for the FBI as a Confidential Reliable Informant doing undercover drug sting operations, which meant that I was paid to do drug deals and then testify in front of a grand jury in order to have the target prosecuted. I was not the kind of informant who had to cooperate in order to get a lighter sentence and such, I was actually sought out and hired to do this job. They came looking for me. It is really a long story.

4. I was diagnosed Bipolar I with PTSD in 2004 when Griffin was 2 years old. I have been through HELL and back in my life because of them but mostly before I even knew but since knowing and working on trying meds it hasn't been quite so bad. I have a wonderful doctor now and am feeling great. Griffin is Bipolar also and ADHD. I also have Fibromyalgia.

5. I had always believed that I was nothing without a man in my life and especially without a husband for that matter so I kept trying and trying and no matter what I kept making poor choices and I now know why (I was an undiagnosed Bipolar with severe mood swings) but in the end.......I married 5 times!!!! Yep, 5 times!!! It was not all bad, two of them were my very best friends and one of them still is but lives in London. I don't regret it but for sure have learned a valuable lesson from all of them. The experience has given me great strength and insight.

6. I am a student who takes online classes and my major is: Child and Family Development and I plan to get my masters in Autism Research! I am so thrilled to be headed in that direction I cannot wait. It seems that I will be in school forever but I am enjoying learning and welcome all the challenges I face with each new class.

7. This kind of has to do with me but more about me and Griffin and our lives: Griffin's father disappeared as soon as I told him that I was pregnant. I met him when I was working undercover and he didn't know who I really was, and didn't get to know until much later. Once I figured out that I was pregnant I decided that I was out of the drug dealing business, it was far far too dangerous. So, I don't know if it upset him and he just didn't tell me or what. When I knew him, he was an awesome man, generous and kind-hearted. So, it was a big shock when I couldn't find him. I hate it for Griffin and hope that one day he will get to meet him.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Positive Thinking During Times of Adversity

I was having a conversation with a friend of mine about how some people complain when they have tough times and how they do not take into account that the person they are talking to might just be going through their own stuff and need someone to listen to them as well. I believe in being a good listener no matter what kind of stuff is on my plate because no matter what kind of adversity I am going through I realize that my friends have feelings too and need a shoulder to lean on and an ear to bend. It's important to me to always stay positive and to not complain but to count my blessings regardless of what life is throwing at me. I do not claim to be perfect by no means and I do have my moments but all in all being positive is my main MO. I do not mind when my friends vent or let it all out because that is what I am here for, I pride myself on the fact that I am a good listener.

I love my friends dearly and I purposely only have a few that I truly regard as my close friends. The reason for this is that I have built up a repore with them and through the years have grown to love and trust them with my inner most thoughts and feelings, and in kind they have done the same with me. There are many new friends that I have who I look forward to getting to know and building a friendship with, those in which I have found I have much in common. It is exciting to find new friends especially those who are so different but who still have many of the same feelings and issues that I have.

I am a believer that we meet those who we are supposed to meet, that it all happens for a reason. There are lessons to be learned in every relationship that we have. I am always eager to learn, I am a student of life and always welcome new challenges. I am not afraid of adversity as I have had my share throughout my life and I am sure there will be plenty more. I appreciate the times when there is peace as I breathe it all in and give thanks to the powers that be. Perhaps you think this to be quite mushy and unrealistic but it is truly my philosophy and my outlook on how things should be for me........perhaps it's not for you but it works for me.

I wouldn't be able to make it through life without being positive, I believe that with negativity comes sickness and stress, and this is why I am never ill. Yes, I do have mental illness and a few physical issues but I attribute them to my genes not my attitude. They are simply part of me and something that I have to cope with on a daily basis. I still have a great deal in my favor: I am a student who is making excellent grades, my child is healthy and doing well in school, our animals are well and loving, we are always safe, we have a vehicle that is reliable, we have electricity, water, the Internet, a computer, food, shelter, and the list goes on.....

It is the small and simple things that mean the most and if you ever call me you can rest assured that I am going to listen to you and show you that I genuinely care!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

To Griffin: As You Grow Older, You Will Always Live in My Heart

My Dearest Griffin,
As I watch you grow into a young man it brings tears of joy yet my heart aches too because it means that one day, as time rushes by, you will cut the apron strings and be independent....needing mommy less as time goes on. I wish for you, my love, to be happy above all and to find love in a different way, that I cannot provide, and experience all that it brings to you. Right before my eyes you have grown and progressed far more than I had imagined you would at this age. On the 31st of this month you will turn 8 years old and I can't help but to think of how far we both have come. It seems like yesterday when I first held you in my arms and cried because I had never felt such intense joy and love in my life. I cried because I was grateful for such a blessing that I didn't think that I deserved but, we were destined to be together. And to this day I give thanks for you, my precious son, and for all that we have been through together. We made it through 5 years in Alaska as mommy was having severe depression while trying to get you all the therapy and help that you needed. It was a very hard time for both of us as we were very isolated from the outside world. I had virtually no support and many days would pass without even seeing another soul. The winters were especially hard for both of us. We both had severe insomnia and it took years to finally find a way and the right medicine so that we both could sleep. You weren't talking back then and I wondered if you and I would ever be able to carry on a conversation or if I would ever hear you tell me that you love me.

I have not mentioned the autism because it is merely a part of you and the two will never be seperate, therefore I am grateful for who you are and everything about you. With each passing year the autism is less distinguishable and now you have come to a point where you are actually making friends at school and in the neighborhood, you are also learning how to better communicate and you seem to be very proud of your accomplishments. There are still times when you have trouble with transitions and moving to your own bed is one of them. You keep trying, bless your heart, but each time you are drawn to snuggling with mommy and you know what Griffin? I am having a hard time with letting go as well.

You and I are bonded forever and no matter how independent you become, I will always be by your side one way or another to lend you a hand if need be or to shine the light for you to walk the path you need to on your own. I must prepare you for the day that I am no longer around, which means that I must practice letting go little by little and to teach you about the world so that it won't be a scary place when mommy has gone away. I do not plan on leaving you, Griffin, for I shall fight to the bitter end to be around for you whenever you need me.

I can't help but to wonder what the future holds, what with dating and all, and how you will react to the girls when that time comes. You are a handsome boy and I believe that the girls will notice you but will you even care? Those are just silly thoughts that pass through my mind but mostly I live in the present in order to not take for granted the blessings before me. In some ways, the autism has been a gift for us that has given us strength to get through all that life has thrown at us. We have made it so far without the help of your father. I do hope that you get to meet your father one day. He was a kind and big-hearted man when I knew him, but something went awry and mommy doesn't know why he disappeared . But I will do all within my power to help you if that is what you want, you have so much of him in you and it makes me proud because he was a good man. Sometimes life just doesn't make sense.

As long as you smile and laugh each and every day, I will assume that you are happy and that things are going smoothly. The rest is minute and I know that we can handle it together. Mostly, what I want to say to you is "Thank YOU" for being in my life and teaching me so much and showing me that life is beautiful, that there is more positive than negative and that is what we must focus on. I ask nothing of you because your mere presence and your smiling face is my gift and I know that, as you have shown me, with time your behaviors will subside because I will always make sure that you have the best doctors and the best medicine that will help provide a better quality of life. You are an intelligent child, Griffin, and you are learning so much and so am

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

My Letter to Griffin. Originally published December 2005, Griffin was 3 years old

My Dearest Griffin,

I remember the day that you were born, the joy that I felt was so overwhelming I thought that I would burst. Tears of joy streamed down my face and I knew at that moment that you would be the center of my universe for the rest of my life. You are my 'sonshine" and the love that I feel for you is so intense there are no words to describe it. It has been just you and me kiddo, and even though we don't have much we get by and perhaps we are much stronger for it. Griffin you have enriched my life more than anyone else. You have been a teacher to me that is, you and your autism have taught me about many things but mostly about myself. I have learned to be tenatious , strong, gentle, compassionate, patient, understanding, and a good listener. I feel that you have taught me far more than I could ever teach you. For this I must say that I am grateful.

There is nothing in my life more precious than your laughter. When I see you smile and hear you laugh there is no autism. All I see is a beautiful child filled with the quentessential perfection . You are as perfect as the day you were born, you are exactly as you were meant to be. No one can tell me that you have a problem, a disease, or that something is wrong with you. I see you, I understand you as Griffin with autism and if it happens to go away one day then it will be a day of celebration but if it doesn't then you are still my perfect child. You see my love, I have no expectations of you. You will progress at your own pace and I will be happy for every step that you take be it big or small. I don't know what the future holds nor do I want to plan it out as if I know what will happen. I want for us to take it one day at a time and cherish each moment in that day.

What I wish for you my sweet child is pure happiness . Since you are autistic then let us celebrate your differences, let us have pride in who you are, let us let the world know that autism or not you are Griffin and that you are an individual who deserves respect and recognition as a human being and a part of our society.
You may or may not be able to live alone or drive a car one day but you might be a writer or a mathmetician. There is one thing that I do wish for you to learn and that is to understand what danger is. If you could learn that Griffin your mommy would feel more at ease and more secure. Otherwise, I think that you are the most fantastic creature on the earth and that I have been blessed with you.

With All My Love Forever,

Your mommy

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Bouncing Off the Walls

Griffin chose this photo of his cat "Dot", he loves her so much! Griffin has been bouncing around the apartment like a pinball and I am just as bored. I was bouncing yesterday but feel better today. I have been spending waaaay too much time of Facebook, one of my friends actually dropped a hint. What can I say? There's not a lot to do inside all day after all the cleaning is done, I even searched for a few things with no luck, but the computer is an outlet for both of us. It is nice to be able to communicate with adults, especially since we practically never have any visitors here. At least Griffin has Legos and toys to play with when not on the computer but I have little else to do. Sure do look forward to getting back to my studies tomorrow and I am pretty sure that Griffin is ready for school (and to get away from me too). Earlier today, Griffin was having a string of mini-meltdowns and I couldn't figure out why. Then it occured to me that maybe since he still had on two layers from going outside that maybe he was feeling hot and couldn't tell me/didn't know how to express it. Sure enough, as soon as he got them off they stopped. Thank goodness!!!!

I have found some great blogs from Ireland, my new FB friends, and look forward to following them as some of the children are quite young and newly diagnosed. I am hoping that I can share my/our experiences with them and perhaps they can find something that is valuable. I have also met a woman here in the USA who has an autistic son who is now a teenager in mainstream high school classroom and I'm eager to hear about what it's like to have an autie teenager. Seems kind of scary to me, puberty and autism ARGH! My friend Vicky tells me that Griffin is so handsome that the girls will be noticing him before he even takes notice of them. I can't help but wonder how he will react to the opposite sex. One day soon, I will post a photo of Griffin's father and you can be the judge of whether or not he looks like him. I think that he looks just like his dad, who is Samoan. And that he looks nothing like me. I will have to do a side-by-side so it will be easier to tell.

Well, it's almost time to brave the cold again (finally above the teens) 22 degrees and take Abby (Griffin's service dog) out for a short walk. I think that I will write in my online journal, there's something productive to do!!!!

Hi Jazzy! Thanks for dropping by and reading my post about the link between autism and bipolar disorder. It is nice to meet kindred spirits! This could be the beginning of many a year of friendship. I have been blogging since 2005 and are still great friends with many women I have met through here, so I look forward to many years for us!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Saphris is Not Working.....Manic Today!

I have been weaning off of Seroquel and trying to just use the Saphris and it's not working. I am feeling manic today and it has increased my appetite exponencially. I can't sit still and all I want to do is to constantly eat. So, I just took another 200mg of the Seroquel in hopes that it will help balance me out. I only took 200mg of it last night, the first night on just the 200mg and I guess that is why I am feeling so manic. I have weaned down from 800 mg. I go back to see my psychiatrist Friday and I guess that I will have bad news, that the Saphris is not going to work for me.

Griffin is staying busy as usual. I don't think that he is going to like having to go back to school on Monday but hopefully he will make the transition within a couple of days. I hope that it's not too hard for him. I am going to miss having him around all day, but I need to get back to my studies since I have hardly worked on anything since he has been home.

I applied to have an extension on my International Relations class and my professor said that she would approve it since I have been going through this med. change and will apparently have to go through more until I find the right one for me. I am supposed to start another class in February and then in March but I shall see how it goes and how much I can handle. If I get the "Disabled student" status then it will help me have more time to get my work done and to submit good quality work and not just something that I had to throw together to meet a deadline.

 I have been sharing the computer and spending a lot of time on facebook but most of my friends are busy, I am sure, and are not on there. Can't wait to calm down! I've done all the cleaning that could possibly be done, now I just wait until I can sit still and not feel like my heart is beating out of my chest.

Manic Depression/Bipolar Disorder and Autism. Is There a Link?

According to a recent study at the Duke University Medical Center, some cases of autism may be associated with a family history of depressive illness. Autism, a disorder marked by social withdrawal and an inability to interact with the environment, seems to appear more frequently in families with a strong history of bipolar illness, the study found.

In connection with his study of 40 autistic children, Duke researcher Dr.Robert DeLong reported in the journal Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology that in 14 of the cases reviewed there was a strong family history of depression or manic depressive illness.

The study hypothesized that when manic depression strikes in early infancy, it may blunt the child's cognitive, social, and emotional development irreversibly, so that the child's brain never develops the framework in which to build communications skills. In extreme cases, this may lead to clinical autism.

(Reprinted from the National DMDA Newsletter, vol. 7, no. 1)