Single Moms Raising Autistic Sons

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Friday, August 27, 2010

What to Do About a Tantrum

I spoke with Griffin's psychologist yesterday and he told me that maybe it would get worse before it gets better....the tantrums that is. Griffin has learned that tantrums work because mommy gets embarrassed in the store and gives into them and yes I know that that is the absolute worse thing that I can do but hey people.....I am alone here without any support and it is hard! I know that that is no excuse for not being a hard nose and for not being consistent with him but when he has a tantrum and puts his whole body into it there is little that I can do other than make a huge scene and try to physically restrain his 80 lb body on the floor where he ends up flailing! By the time that I am restraining him I am sure that someone is calling the cops or social services for child abuse.....this is what I imagine happening because he would be screaming that I was hurting him as he always does and there's just no way that it would end up on a good note.

So instead this is what we are going to do: I am going to set the two of us up for success by giving Griffin the rules in the car before we go in. For example: No walking away from mommy, no picking up items and putting them in the cart, and no tantrums. Then if he follows the rules after a practice run of about 7 minutes he will get a reward of an ice cream cone at Dairy Queen or Mc Donald's or something special and cheap. We will do about 3 practice runs this week to see how it goes and report back to the doctor next week. The practice runs are only 7 minutes long to make sure that there is success and I imagine that we will increase the amount of time as we go along. So maybe they won't get worse before they get better after all.....maybe this is the recipe for success and things are going to run smoothly. I will let you know soon because we are going to go on our first practice run today. I have got my fingers crossed!

Have a New Kid by Friday  is an excellent book if you are looking for some way to get your child to listen to you and to pay attention to you. I just started it but so far it has had a profound effect on me as far as my perspective on how I approach Griffin and how I talk to him. It is a book on how to change your child's attitude, behavior, and character in 5 days and having read what I have I believe that it is possible! Just click on the highlighted blue links to purchase the book either new or used.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

30 Most Famous Thinkers Believed to Be Autistic

The Online Graduate Programs Blog has posted the 30 most famous thinkers believed to be autistic and the list is fantastic! Among my favorites are Charles Darwin, James Joyce, Temple Grandin ( I adore her) and Socrates. Oh and I must not forget Albert Einstein ! It is a list that you must see with descriptions of the individuals and their autistic tendencies. It is really quite fascinating to read and I believe that these individuals were probably autistic by these descriptions and by what I know of their history, of course I am not familiar with all of them but the ones I do know I firmly believe were autistic.

Griffin has been wetting his pants lately and it is something that is not unfamiliar to us. He did it quite a bit last year and I think that it is because he doesn't go to the bathroom during the scheduled bathroom breaks. And he won't ask his teacher to go to the bathroom when he needs to go so there in lies the problem. I don't know how to get it across to him to understand that he must ask the teacher to go to the bathroom when he needs to go. When I tell him he just gives me no response, he simply ignores me and I can't get him to answer. When he goes to his psychologist next I am going to get him to bring it up and explain it to Griffin and maybe he can get it across to him in some different fashion that he will understand. Otherwise, I just don't have an answer to what to do unless someone else might have a suggestion I would greatly appreciate any input you might have. I don't want Griffin embarrassed by what is happening or teased or worse yet.....bullied by some of the kids because after all he is 8 years old and it is a bit old for him to wet his pants. So far his teacher has not reported any of this happening or that the kids are laughing at him so maybe it's okay for now but something has got to be done to help stop it.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

He's Come a Long Way

Here's Griffin around 16-18 months right after he had begun his early intervention and if he is 18 months then it is after he has been officially diagnosed with autism. But anyhow he has his pressure vest on, which helped keep him calm, and has lined up his little chess pieces over at his early interventionist's house, Sheila, who is still to this day a very dear friend. Griffin didn't line up things much after this photo, he was never really into that much like lots of other autistic kiddos are. He did however like his spoons and went everywhere with them usually one in each hand but always at least one.

Now he is in third grade and is in a mainstream classroom and is doing an excellent job I might add! I spoke with his resource teacher and she bragged on him saying that he is participating in class very well and asking questions raising his hand appropriately which is wonderful! She said that she is working on finding the balance between helping him and figuring out when to pull back and letting him do his own work but that so far he has shown her that he can keep up with the class quite well with little prompting.

He has come a long way since lining up those chess pieces and I am so very proud of him, he does still have his share of meltdowns but they are short lived and not as intense as they used to be....thank goodness. Griffin has really grown up and matured and become quite an independent young man and it is so bittersweet for me that he is growing up so fast. I love that he is becoming his own person and doing things on his own but at the same time it breaks my heart that my little boy is growing before my eyes and I know that one day those kisses and hugs might not be so plentiful but for now they are and I am so very grateful!

We tried the Intuniv yesterday and it had the opposite effect on him. It was supposed to make him sleepy by the end of the day and by the end of the day he was revved up and couldn't sleep despite the medication (Phenegran and Melatonin) that I tried. I finally had to call the doctor on call and ended up giving him an entire dose of Attivan to get him to sleep after trying a half dose which didn't work! That is, the same dose that I would take....that is how revved up he was! So out with the Intuniv no hope there.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I am Glad to Introduce a Guest Blogger Edward D. Iannielli III. This Will Touch Your Soul

A dream, A hope, A wish, A prayer, A life and Autism

It is very important in our lives to dream as young children and to always be encouraged by our parents to reach for the stars in all that we do. When we are kids we are constantly evolving and growing and we are always learning and developing throughout our youth. The time in the life of a young child is very special and it should be filled with hope, optimism, encouragement, enthusiasm, wishful thinking and prayers to God for our child's good health, happiness and a life filled with promise, hope, dreams, vision and self confidence.

It is every parent's hope that their child is healthy and able to develop naturally and adapt to the typical changes that children encounter as they grow. We all are grateful for being blessed with a child in our life and we always want the best for them. If a child is born with autism or some form of disability it means that child will have some challenges ahead in their life but they should have the same dreams and hopes that every child needs to have in their life. My son is autistic and he has challenges that we are trying to help him deal with. At times it seems he will have his share of difficulties and periods of isolation. I only wish that he could realize when he struggles that he has the love and support of his mom and dad and he has many in his corner working to help him.

For many people Autism is not really understood and from outward appearance for the typical person raised in a typical community very difficult to assess. There are many autistic children who from first impression seem normal in ways so when they seem to react out in an inappropriate way to the dismay of others it seems they are defiant and unruly. This for most autistic kids is the furthest from the truth and  it seems the parents are thought of as not being able to discipline their children. The reality is that the parents will do anything to help their autistic child and they put so much time, effort and compassion into raising their special child so they can hopefully fit in and have lesser outbursts and meltdowns. It is not easy raising an autistic child and for most families it tests their very limits of patience and endurance and adds a great deal of stress and financial pressure on the family. It is very important to accept the situation and work together with family and all in the support network to help that autistic child find their way in the world.

To an autistic child the world can be a very scary and intimidating place and they would rather live in their little place that is safe and free from confrontation. Autistic children tend to have social difficulties and feel that they can not fit in unfortunately. It takes very committed family and professionals to help address these children with their thoughts and insecurities and help them through these social obstacles. 

It is our dreams, hopes, wishes and prayers that help us through these challenging times and give us the insight and knowledge that will help us find the dedication we need to get our autistic child on the right path in their life so they can have the same chances and opportunities that all children deserve in their life.

The one thing I have learned about raising an autistic child is that my sense of life and purpose evolves around my son and everything I do or plan to do is for helping him become better and more self confident. Autistic children do tend to suffer from anxiety and have many challenges and it sometimes can be emotionally very trying in their life and the parent's as well. As a parent I strongly urge you to never give up on your child and to always show compassion and hold on to hope and provide love, support and encouragement. There is nothing like seeing an autistic child blossom and come into their own after realizing the struggles they encounter. 

To see an autistic child smile and hear them acknowledge that they feel loved and accepted and to truly help them find something that challenges them and gives them self confidence is the best gift we can ever experience in our life as parents.

The many ups and downs we will encounter as parents raising our children is all worth it if we can set the standard for them so they will benefit and grow and become happy, well balanced, confident and caring young adults ready to take on life's challenges and have dreams, hopes, wishes and vision. I pray everyday for my son to have a wonderful life with Autism.

Dedicated to my son who inspires me everyday.

Edward D. Iannielli III

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

First Day of School

It was smooth sailing this morning as Griffin woke up on time and popped out of bed like he was truly interested in going to school. He got up early enough to have some computer time and a little bit of time to watch TV while eating his apple. I told him to go ahead and eat breakfast at school as he is used to doing so that he won't be starving before lunch. Besides he prefers eating breakfast at school than at home and since he takes the bus he has time to do that.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Positive Student Profile

My new friend April gave me this Positive Student Profile for Griffin and I am so grateful for it because it is going to help Griffin's new teacher understand him so much better from the get go. Here it is:

Who is Griffin:

loves animals/wildlife
favorite color is red
loves his cat named Dot and his service dog named Abby
loves to draw
favorite TV show is Sesame St.

Griffin's strengths:

loves to laugh
cleans up and is helpful
has good manners
understands what is being said
has a great sense of humor

Griffin's challenges:

inability to effectively communicate which leads to high level of frustration.
dislikes unexpected change
difficulty completing an assignment with re-direction
difficulty with math
reluctant to do things on demand

What supports are needed for Griffin?

to observe and learn from “typical” children
to have a circle of friends for support
to have a routine that is structured yet flexible to allow for increased tolerance to change
a curriculum which can be modified where and when needed
communication between parent and teacher for support as a team

Other helpful information:

When Griffin gets upset and begins to have a meltdown it is best to talk to him and try to figure out what he is upset about to try and diffuse the situation first. Usually you can figure out what is wrong and help him to make the necessary changes in order to help him to calm down. Sometimes the reason that he is getting upset is that something changed out of the set routine. If the redirection doesn't work then it is worthwhile to get him to take deep breaths and calm down by talking to him and explaining the situation to him because he does understand logic and reason, this is how his mind operates. Griffin is a gentle child and does not lash out so he does not need to be restrained.

Update on Scheduling

7:46 a.m. Griffin got up on time this morning after going to bed at 7:00 p.m. last night and even after getting up in the middle of the night! So I told him to get up out of bed to practice getting ready to catch the bus and he popped out of bed like a champ! It is looking good so far and I think that we are ready for tomorrow morning. We even walked Abby before it was time for the "bus" to come which would be 6:50. We're doing great folks!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Having Some Difficulty Getting on Schedule

Here's Griffin swimming in the river in Pisgah National Forest and the water is oh so cold but he didn't mind a bit. The water was just shallow enough for him to swim and play without any worries. It is the same place that we went when we went with Uncle Charlie. Nikki went with us but she wasn't brave enough to sit in the water saying that it was way too cold. It is true that it is cold but it doesn't compare to the glacier fed waters of Alaska folks! Now that's ICY COLD water, so cold that you can't even stand in it because I have tried on a dare and even though I did it for one second that was all I could stand!

I am having some difficulty getting Griffin on schedule as far as sleep goes. I can't seem to get him to get up on time. I am getting him to sleep on time for the most part but still can't get him up on time so I guess that I am going to have to get him to bed even earlier gosh darnit! He is going to bed at 8:00 now and sleeping 10 hours  that is when taking Melatonin and Clonidine. Maybe it is because I added the L-Theanine the past three nights and it is making him sleep too long. I think that I am going to stop that and try an earlier bedtime too and see if I can't get him up on time. I had added the L-Theanine because he had been getting up in the middle of the night around 3:00 a.m. using the computer, watching TV, and eating. So I thought that maybe it would help with that but did not so I am going to stop it and maybe just use it to help keep him calm during the day (1/2 dose) until we are ready for the Intuniv.

Griffin graduated to taking the capsule at his pill taking therapy! So now he can take his Intuniv! First I am going to take him to a new psychiatrist on Tuesday to see if there is something else that we can use for sleep with the Intuniv because he can't use the Clonidine with it. There are some who think that Griffin shouldn't be on medication for his ADHD symptoms but I say that they are not the ones who are living with the meltdowns on a daily basis who are the ones who are single parents without any support! I know what I am doing and having a disability myself I have to take care of not only Griffin but myself as well so I believe that it is a sound decision. It is easy for others to judge me and to tell me their opinion but they are not in my shoes and they don't know what it is like to be me and to struggle from day to day and sometimes even moment to moment!

I am looking forward to school but I will miss Griffin at the same time.....the ME time is going to be Sweet though! I plan to get lots of school work done and get more exercise in. The weather is cooling off a bit and it is so nice. It is only 74 right now and overcast and I am loving it!

Friday, August 13, 2010

I Loved the Book "Cowboy & Wills"

First of all, I wasn't able to read it cover to cover in a timely manner, it took me quite awhile to get around to finishing it, like I wanted to due to distractions and having to care for Griffin daily just like having to do right now as I write this post. Griffin keeps interrupting me and it is difficult to concentrate so this post might not be as stellar as I had hoped it might be. Please keep this in mind as you read this review.

This was an amazing book and as I sit here and think about it, it brings tears to my really moved me! If you enjoy reading about autism this is a great book for you because it Wills is a little boy who has high functioning autism and the story portrays him as he grows and progresses. He grows up with his precious companion Cowboy the golden retriever who loves him unconditionally and they both capture your heart. Wills is a charming little guy who loves animals and has quite a menagerie of his own but Cowboy is his favorite and they do everything together. Monica Holloway is the mother who writes the story and does an incredible job doing so as she chronicles the days of school and family life in a most interesting and eloquent manner. I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone because it will touch your heart and because it is an unforgettable story of a boy and his dog that is beyond comparison.

This book was sent to me so that I could write this review and I am so glad that I had the chance to read it and to write this review. It is not often that I get a chance to read such wonderful books that move me and that I find so emotional. The fact that this was a true story made it all that much more heart wrenching and I look forward to the next book.

To order the book just click on the blue highlighted links or the Buy from link and it will take you to where you need to go to get the best price for the book. You can buy it new or used.

Friday, August 06, 2010

School Can't Start Soon Enough!

Oh how I love my child but summer wears me out and I think that it does the same to Griffin actually! We are both in need of a routine and we both need a break from one another. And NO......I don't buy Canadian Whiskey by the case by the way....that is a box that I got from the liquor store to move my things a year ago when we moved here LOL! This is a photo of Griffin and Dot under the bed, not too sure if Dot got in the box on her own or not but I kind of doubt it. I think that Griffin thought that it would be cute to get her in the box for the picture because he called me into the room to take the photo.

Griffin had an incredibly horrible meltdown that began at the apartment yesterday because I was running late for a doctor's appointment and I had to rush him. So he was screaming and squirming all the way there and in there and while there. Thank goodness the staff knew that he was autistic and were very understanding. He did have a moment of peace long enough to realize that the song on the radio was "Sometimes when we touch" and he actually asked me who sang it. I made up a name and he later looked it up on the computer and found it on his own. But while in the office I was trying to talk to the doctor and only got a few words in within about 7 minutes time because Griffin was screaming at the top of his lungs. I kept trying to get him to take deep breaths and to calm down but it was all in vain. I just stay calm myself when he does that even though I know that part of it could be manipulation but part of it is him being out of control. I just know that as long as I stay calm it won't escalate into something worse and that eventually it will subside. Sure enough it did as soon as we left the office, he was just fine.

So then I feel like I have just been manipulated because it stopped just as we walked out of the office. But what else could I have done????? Even if it was manipulation? I can't be harsh with him because it would just make things worse. All I can think of is that I talk to him when things are fine and explain to him that it is not okay for him to do that...which I did already but I don't know that it sunk in or not. Someone mentioned a behavior chart which I am considering doing and putting his privileges on there and when he begins to have a tantrum before it is a full-on meltdown, I can remind him of the chart and how we can take away computer time or TV time etc... That is the only thing that I can think of to curb this behavior because his psychologist didn't have a good solution to his behavior other than to let him have his meltdown in the store or wherever and to just restrain him. That is not a solution to me because Griffin weighs 80 lbs and it would be nearly impossible to do that and NO fun either!!!

All I've got to say is that school can't start soon enough and I can't wait for him to begin his ADHD medication!!! BRING IT ON!!!!!