Single Moms Raising Autistic Sons

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Friday, June 25, 2010

I AM Truly Blessed

Griffin and I have been going to the lake lately to feed the geese and ducks, he gets so much joy out of it and it is such a simple and FREE thing to do. It is nice to be in the shade with the breeze out of the heat just relaxing watching him have fun.

I wanted to write about how blessed I am and to make note of all the things that maybe some parents might think would be a hardship and not a blessing in disguise but these are a few that come to mind when I think of Griffin each and every moment of his precious life:

When we are on the playground I don't have to worry about having playmates for Griffin because he loves playing all alone gleefully. And when there are other kids around he will talk to them and they will talk back but he doesn't care what they say really but that's okay because he has fun regardless. It's a blessing because he is not shy by any means but simply carefree and happy no matter what. He says that he has friends at school and he waves to them when we see them out in public so perhaps he is going to become more social one day and if he doesn't that's okay too!

I don't have to worry about having to cook a 5 course meal for him every night. Griffin is a picky eater mostly due to tactile reasons, he is offended by certain textures and his gag reflex is super super sensitive. So he only eats about 10 different foods. And it is a blessing because not only do I not have to cook elaborate meals but grocery shopping is quite simple as well. Maybe one day he will stretch his wings and try new foods....I can only hope and keep trying but for now I choose to see the positive side of things.

Griffin may not be able to focus in school but he can certainly focus at home when on the computer and for extended periods of time. He is extremely good at working on the computer and I do call it working because he isn't playing games at all. He searches for images and vintage videos of commercials and old Sesame Street shows etc... He can navigate the Internet far better than I can and find exactly what he is looking for every single time! And the concentration that he has is incredible especially compared to what he has in school....of course. This is a blessing because at least there is some hope that if we can harness that energy and find rewards for him in school to keep him focused like he can do at home then maybe he can thrive at school finally and make some significant progress that he has not made in so many years.

Another blessing that is an obvious one that is not in disguise is that Griffin is an incredible artist and is doodling all the time. I look forward to the future and all the progress that he will make in that area. There is an animation class that I hope to take him to in July that I think that he will love since he loves doing cartooning, it would be great if he could make them actually move! I have all his artwork put away and it is all mixed in with a bunch of other paperwork right now or else I would include a photo of some of it but I am too lazy to muddle through all of it at the moment.

I am blessed because Griffin is perfect just the way he is because that is the way he was created and the way that he was meant to be. He is not flawless, that is not what I mean by "perfect" but perfect in the sense that he is the way he is....autism and all and that is perfect!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Griffin Had a Great Time at Camp!

This is the parrot that Griffin put together at camp when the counselor and he were playing pirates on the playground and Griffin commented that they needed a parrot. So the counselor said that they should just find the stuff to make one there and put it together in arts and crafts immediately after the playground. So this is what Griffin made and I think that he did a darn good job!

Griffin had such a great time at camp that when I first saw him right before the talent show the counselor asked Griffin what had said earlier about when he had wanted to go home and Griffin replied, "Saturday" (it was Friday). But then he kept giving me tons of hugs and kisses and showed me that he had missed me and was so very glad to see me, he wouldn't let me go he was so affectionate and I wouldn't let him go either!

Then it was time for the talent show which I didn't get a still photo of because I got a video of it but I did get a photo of the award that he got from his counselor for being the wildlife expert:
In the talent show he did bird sounds and the audience loved him. He did it all by himself and wasn't even bothered by being on the stage performing with just himself and the counselor. She named the birds and he made the sounds and acted out the penguin which got a good laugh from the crowd. Griffin got the wildlife expert award because he is indeed an expert on wildlife, if you need to know about animals he is your guy!

To get Griffin to talk about camp is another issue because he just won't do it, it is like pulling teeth. He will only tell you that his favorite parts were the pool and lunch. I do know that he liked the other parts from what the counselor wrote in her notes such as hiking and watching the birds. His latest love is for birds lately and when I can afford it I am going to buy him a book of birds from this area so that we can identify them and maybe one day we will learn their bird songs too.

I am just happy to have him home and joy once again fills my heart and I can't thank my friends from Facebook enough and my family for getting me through the week and my dear friend who came to visit....made all the difference in the world to me! It was almost the week from hell and there were moments that were hard when nobody was around that were nearly impossible to get through where my heart was breaking but I made it through. Next year, hopefully, won't be quite so hard but I will be sure to be busy with something and with someone the entire time to be certain that it is not so impossible to get through.

My sister just wished me a Happy Father's Day because, she said, that when you are a single parent you get to celebrate both since you have to be both father and mother. Well, cool, I said, never thought of it that way before!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Loneliness and Emptiness

It is not even yet 24 hours until I see Griffin again and I am dying of loneliness and the emptiness of this place is eating me up inside! My heart is literally hurting and my breath is shallow as if to want to stop as if the life of me wants to cease to exist. It is only proof that my life is in that precious child and this "me" time is bogus and all that I needed was a few days of it and enough already! If there is not another adult around to keep me busy then this empty apartment and the lack of anything to do is killing me!

I spend a lot of time on Facebook as I have a big support network there and I have had a few friends tell me that this time is for me and that I need to back off and let Griffin alone during this time because it is a time for him to grow, for us to grow and they were is true that I need to allow him to grow and become more independent. I told one friend that there is no one around to police me and show me how I am keeping him from thriving as an independent child so of course I protect him and probably a bit too much. I do this because he cannot do it himself but how can he learn if I don't give him the opportunity? I must learn to let go of him and it is a son-of-a-bitch! It is the hardest thing that I have ever had to do in my life....just to think of sending him in the men's bathroom out in public and wonder if he will be able to protect himself if someone makes advances towards him.

I read a book to him, "The Right Touch" and asked him questions throughout the entire book and made sure that he completely understood the reason that we were reading the book. At the end I asked him what he should do if someone tried to touch him on his penis or his bottom or if they tried to touch him if he didn't like it and he said that he should scream out loud, "Stop it I don't like that" and run away, then he would go and tell me or another trusted adult. So, he got it right and I just have to trust that it sunk in and that he will retain that knowledge and that he will never have to use it. But if he does then I hope that he does it with great conviction and that he does tell me that something happened to him. I just have to trust the powers that be that we are taken care of and let go of it.

I have done all that I can do and I am trying not to stress over not having anything to do. I am also trying not to stress over not having any money....literally! I have enough money for a gallon of milk and that is it until the end of the month! I honestly don't know what I am going to do. I thought that I was going to get a student loan check this week and I just called and I found out that that is not true. It sure gets old not having any money but usually we are taken care of and somehow money comes through for us out-of-the-blue so I have to trust that somehow it will happen again and not get upset.
The only thing that got me through Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday was the fact that a dear friend came to visit and we went up on the Blue Ridge Parkway and took some great photos. I just love living in the mountains, it really feels like home! I already miss my friend and look forward to seeing him again too bad he lives far away....but I am grateful for the time that we did get to spend together.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Griffin's First Day at Camp!

Well, it went off without a hitch! Griffin walked away and mommy didn't cry her eyes out because I was just so very happy for him. Here you see him with his counselor and his new buddy who he will be with the whole time. The ratio is 2:1....isn't that wonderful? Griffin is holding up two little frogs that his new buddy gave to him and he thought that that was just the coolest thing!

As soon as we got there though we had gone to his bunkhouse to drop off his things and Griffin chose the top bunk as he has never even slept in a bunk bed before so he was pretty excited. The we met his new buddy and then they walked away to go to eat. I had gotten the chance to ask his counselor a few questions and it made me feel much more comfortable that she was in college as a recreational therapist and that is how she had gotten to the camp. She was a very jovial person and right away won over Griffin because as they were walking they were holding hands and that brought a tear of joy to my eye!

If the truth be known....I didn't go alone to the camp with Griffin. I had asked my cousin to go with us, Griffin's favorite Uncle Charlie. I knew that if he went then it would not only be a buffer for me but it would help Griffin too. In that it would help him to understand that camp is going to be fun and a great place for him to be until Friday when I come to pick him up. And I was did work out better for Charlie to be there for both of us. I didn't cry because Charlie was there for moral support and Griffin didn't get upset because Charlie said that camp was "Cool". And besides there was so many new things for Griffin to explore that I just don't think that he had much time to really think about getting upset. Before I left I found out that he had S'mores and I got to see him at the swimming pool too. They go swimming 3 times a day!
Rewind to this morning......for a treat since Griffin won an award as the "Best on the Bus" for safety and got a free dessert card, I thought that I would take him out on his first day of camp. So for breakfast he got to have a hot fudge cake! He thought that that was a pretty cool thing to do for breakfast since that has never happened before. And I doubt that it will happen again for a long time but what the only go to camp for the first time only ONCE!!!!

Monday, June 07, 2010

We Got to See the Camp Yesterday

Sunday, yesterday, we went to see the autism camp even though it is not open yet. The director let us come to visit because she said that there was no social story in place for it so a visit was in order. It wasn't very far away so it worked out just great!

Griffin seems to be excited about it now because he got to see the swimming pool, the gardens, the bunk beds where he said he wanted to sleep on top, the arts & crafts room, the sensory room, the music room, and he got to say hi to all the counselors who were meeting there....they all had great big smiles!

I feel so much better now that we went to visit and I am so excited for him as I am sure that he will have a great time but I am still sure that I will not be able to hold back the tears as I will miss him so very much!!!

Friday, June 04, 2010

I Have Learned an Important Lesson

For reasons I do not wish to go into, I have learned not to put my personal information on this blog...or any blog for that matter. From now on this blog will only contain information about Griffin and the rest will have to be only shared with my Facebook friends who do not judge me and persecute me for being human, for being Bipolar and for having PTSD. This person has NO idea what it is like to raise a child as a single parent nor does she know what it is like to have a child with autism. Yet I am judged over one isolated incident. Enough said!

Griffin's psychologist looked at his test scores from when the school tested him and was amazed. He couldn't believe that his IQ was so high and that his reading, spelling, and writing scores were so high. So there....he is not so MR'able anymore is he? Now I can rest assured that he is well aware that Griffin is far more intelligent than he previously thought. I don't feel so confused anymore about whether Griffin is low or high functioning...I shouldn't have listened to him in the first place because he has had limited contact with Griffin and Griffin has never been tested by him. Mostly Griffin just does the neuro-feedback while he is there and has no chance of proving himself while there. His test scores show that he is on the verge of being Asperger's but I don't understand how because of his communication delay. I only know this now because the doctor explained all the scores to me when in the IEP nobody explained them.

Still, Griffin's living skills are very limited and even though I get him to do things on his own he has a lot of practice to be able to master them. Such skills as cutting a piece of food (like a hot dog), brushing his teeth, tying his shoes, and motor planning. He has been working on his gross and fine motor skills at Occupational Therapy with some recent success. In Speech Therapy he is doing quite well as long as he can sit still and focus. 

Soon he will be going to autism camp and even though I have talked to him about it, he just doesn't seem to understand the concept. Every time that I try to talk to him about it he gets upset and tells me to stop. He doesn't want to talk about it so I don't know what to do because I don't want him to feel abandoned when I leave him there. I will be staying for part of the day on the 13th and talking with the counselor who will be with him-the ratio is 1:2 and explaining to Griffin how it will work. I sure hope that he doesn't get upset because it will break my heart to leave him like that. It will be hard enough as it is.