Single Moms Raising Autistic Sons

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Friends Over For the First Time

Griffin and I were outside yesterday and Griffin was following around the neighborhood kids and talking to them appropriately and listening when they were talking to him. One of the girls, Sharon, was telling us about how another of the girls, Shalom's, scooter was hidden away from her by her mom because Shalom would leave the scooter out in the yard at the apartment complex and Shalom didn't know about it. Shalom was very angry that she couldn't find her scooter but Sharon told Griffin that it was a big secret that Shalom couldn't find out that her mom had hidden the scooter and for Griffin not to tell her and Griffin continued to play with the kids and didn't tell Shalom about the big secret. I have mixed feelings about the secret one way I was proud of him for understanding that it was a big deal for Shalom to not know that her mom had hidden her scooter from her but in another way I don't want Griffin to keep secrets from me and I wonder if someone told him to keep a secret from me would he? We have had that discussion on numerous occasions and I stress how important it is that he tells me everything no matter what so here's hoping but for now we will be happy. I digress....

In the midst of playing Griffin pops up and asks Sharon if she wants to come over for hot chocolate, actually if I remember correctly he asked me first if it was okay. Then he asked Isiah, Mekelle., Tyler, and Shalom. They didn't want to answer him and tried to just pass off what he was saying but I insisted that they give him a definite answer. So they all basically said "no" except for Isiah who said he would be over later. So we left and went inside. Much later I heard a knock on the door and lo and behold it was all the kids plus Sharon's little 3 year old brother,Chris. I fumbled around in the kitchen trying to find 6 cups for hot chocolate and they were hungry so I popped all the popcorn that I had left which was 4 bags.

Griffin was happy and laughing out loud so that made me very happy and I was so proud of him for inviting the kids over! It goes to show that Griffin has it in him to socialize and enjoy it and what more could I ask for then that? It was a great day indeed!!!!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Let Me Tell You a Little About Celebrating Autism by Stuart Duncan

When I tell the average person that my son has Autism, they feel really bad for me. The fact is that there is a lot to celebrate.
Milestones are an achievement, not just an item on a list
When you have a child with Autism, you learn to appreciate the milestones, both big and small. Some would say that we celebrate a little too much for such little accomplishments but I’d argue that we celebrate accordingly, it’s other parents who take them for granted.
First words, learning to walk, swimming, riding a bike, reading, writing… all these things that make parents proud are far more than just steps along the way when your child has Autism… they’re cause for celebration.
Take nothing for granted
Along the same lines, but very different from milestones, is taking nothing for granted. Unless you have a child with Autism (or another disability like it), you’ll probably never know what it’s like to be lucky enough to be hugged one time a year.
Does your child look you in the eye? If your child has Autism, maybe not. Does your child give you a hug or kiss sometimes? If your child has Autism, maybe not.
You will never ever realize just how much the tiniest little things can be so extremely important until they’re not there.
Patience, more than you ever thought possible
The biggest problem with milestones is that everyone knows what they are and when they should happen so when your child is missing them, everyone says something. It’s hard, it’s oh so very hard.
After a while though, you develop a thicker skin… not just the patience required to take their “advice” a little better but also to have the patience and self confidence in knowing that if you never give up on your children, the milestones will come.
The beauty that is around us
The world around us moves pretty fast and can be so filled with sights and sounds that it turns into a bit of a blurry mess. Our mind makes it that way to keep us from becoming overwhelmed, crazy and tired. We filter through a lot of everything that goes on in our daily lives without really realizing it.
Many people, especially the children, with Autism don’t have the same filtering capabilities and often times do get overwhelmed by it all. This often results in meltdowns or even violence.
You, as the parent, become increasingly aware of the world around you because you have to, because you need to know what you are getting your child into. Loud restaurants, carnivals, movie theaters… many many places can be far too difficult for your child to be able to process and you need to be aware of that before the fact.
As you develop this ability over time, it forces you to slow down and truly appreciate the sights and smells and sounds that surround us every single day.
You go outside and there isn’t a car in the neighborhood… it’s so very peaceful. Before you likely never would have noticed, much less enjoyed that feeling of peace, because your mind builds that filter in place before you ever go out and so you don’t notice if there are cars or not.
Your child is perfect because of who they are
It isn’t until others see your child as flawed, and worse, until you start to see your own child as flawed, that you can learn what is truly important… not a disability, not a disorder, not even a gift… a child is who they are inside and who they are inside is exactly who they are supposed to be… your child.
It’s ok if no one will ever look at your child the same way you do, they’re not supposed to. Our children are amazing human beings with unlimited potential.
The difference
Celebrate the differences, not just in your child, but in yourself. For better or worse, you’ve become a better person for it, you’ve become a better parent. Your child isn’t like other children… and that seems hard to take but honestly, before your child was born, and you saw how “other children” are on the news or in movies… is that really what you wished for when you imagined having a child? For them to be like all the others?
No, none of us want our children to have it harder than anyone else, and no we don’t want our children to suffer… but many of us recognize that we can have these thoughts and these feelings while still being able to recognize and celebrate the differences.
Your child is amazing. You are amazing. Celebrate it… you’ve earned it.
Courtesy of Stuart Duncan

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I Got Some Answers

I posted on my status about Griffin having meltdowns at home but not at school on Facebook and got some great answers and I would like to thank everyone who supported me and helped me through this difficult time: Sarah Jane: They are all like that -think Roisin has had 1 single meltdown in nearly 4 years (at montessori and school) yet has lots at home; it doesn't mean you are doing anything wrong.
April Fox: When Jeremy was in school, he'd hold it together all day and melt when he got home. I think it's simple: home is the safest place he knows. He can melt and be ok there.
I wrote: I thought that I was alone in this and that it was all least I now know that it's not just me.
April Fox: No sweetie, we're ALL lucky enough to be our kids' safe place :) hang in there, it will get easier.
Margaret: same here Lora only at home.
Kathy Ryan: I tend to think (rightly or wrongly, I don't know) that Gia tries very hard to keep herself under control and to "behave" in school and it pure exhaustion when she gets out of school and she's had enough of trying to let's loose out of school even on the walk from school gates to car. Don't worry Lora you are never alone.
Paula O'Connor: No, it's not you I kind of think I'm the dog he kicks when he returns home.
I got over 20 comments that all said that their child comes home and has meltdowns but doesn't have them at school because that is a safe place for them. I would publish more of them but as you can tell my font is screwed up. So now I don't feel so bad and know that I am not alone and can rest assured that Griffin is just like any other autistic child who loves his mommy and feels secure enough to have meltdowns at

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Well I had the meeting with the teachers and have a new issue at hand because Griffin is a little angel at school and doesn't have meltdowns, so now I need to figure out why he is only having them at home and at therapy. They said that Griffin doesn't have any gestural stereotypy at school and that when he does start to have a meltdown then he is easily redirected and seems to calm down just fine. And that thing that he does in reverse when he is successful, like when he wins at a game and then gets upset as he does in therapy, they said that he loves winning at school and that he loves it when the other kids praise him.

The speech pathologist was not present at the meeting this morning so I don't know about his stuttering so I guess that I will have to wait until the middle of March for the IEP to talk to her and if he is stuttering then I will request a FBA by a BCBA so that we can get down to the root of the matter.

I don't know where to begin except that I know that if I don't do something soon then it is going to get out of hand. I don't know if he is just trying to manipulate me and his therapists or if there is truly something going on beneath that I am just not seeing. I do know that I am going to start redirecting him and saying what his teacher says to him, "Griffin if you have a meltdown then I just might have a meltdown too!" and apparently that makes his eyes big and he doesn't know what to think but it stops him in his tracks. Maybe I am not giving him enough positive reinforcement but he gets plenty of that in therapy and still acts out. We have an appointment with his doctor on the 2nd but I just don't think that it is a medication issue if he is fine at school so we are not going to change his meds.

I am going to discuss this with his psychologist on the 1st because he knows Griffin and can help me out with this I believe. In the meantime if any of you have suggestions on what you would do then I welcome your comments.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Meltdowns a Plenty

Griffin's meltdowns are on the rise and the reason is not always clear but for sure he is out of sorts. I do know that part of the reason for some of them was the fact that I was so full of anxiety (but that has been nipped in the bud) and couldn't handle life myself but that leaves plenty unaccounted for and I am concerned. I have been giving him deep pressure hugs and doing the hand press with him when he gets upset but at times he just runs away and I cannot help him. I guess that I am not good with talking him through the meltdowns because I never seem to get far that way. So if anyone has any suggestions on what to say in those kind of situations then I am all ears!

He came home today off of the school bus crying because he said that he had a sore throat so I am going to call to make an appointment in the morning with the doctor, hopefully it is not too bad. At 7:15 I have the meeting with the teachers about Griffin's behavior, stuttering, anxiety, and the gestural stereotypy. Now that I am off of the Topomax then I think that I will be able to have a clearer mind and be able to focus better. I will report back tomorrow on how things went.

Friday, February 18, 2011


I finally got a meeting scheduled with Griffin's teacher for Tuesday and I have my list of things that I want to cover: anxiety, gestural stereotypy, stuttering, communication, and observing Griffin in his classroom. I am going to also make sure that we schedule the next IEP meeting for March, the last one was on March 25th so it may be too soon.

I have been having a lot of anxiety lately and feeling overwhelmed by this Literature class and just by life in general which is not anything unusual for a bipolar person, it doesn't take much to overwhelm me and confuse me. Sometimes I feel like I have a lower IQ due to the medications that I take because life is such a struggle for me intellectually and with common sense. You would not believe how long it takes me to simply post in this blog and to feel comfortable with its content, and how many times I go back and edit it before I finally publish it.

Yesterday I lost my keys because apparently I left them in the door of the car and drove off. Now how freakin idiotic is that? I swear I have lost my memory and am on the way to Alzheimers or dementia or at least that is how I feel! Like this post, and many others, I will write it and then as soon as I am done I will remember what else I wanted to put in it or hours later I will remember. That is just ridiculous to me! Does anybody else do that or am I alone on this one? If I don't write things down right away then I will forget it for days and not remember things when I need to.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Anxiety, Stuttering, and IEP

Griffin has school today because it is a make up snow day for the day he missed this week and he was surprisingly okay with it and didn't offer any resistance. It is only a half day anyhow so it's not a big deal.

I spoke with Griffin's speech pathologist yesterday while in Griffin's session, he was having a hard time focusing because he was sick so she let him play while we talked about his stuttering, his ritual behaviors, and his IEP. Griffin's teacher had written a note that she was concerned about his stuttering and its frequency and that we would address it at the IEP meeting. Griffin's speech pathologist told me that she thought that his stuttering was in direct correlation with his anxiety levels and that if they were seeing it more in school then she felt that something was going on there to stress him out. And I don't know what's going on because I don't get regular communication from his teacher, that makes me very upset and I have tried to let her know how important it is to me that she communicates to no avail. So I am going to bring it up again when we have the IEP meeting in March but I doubt that it is going to do much good because she is just going to tell me that she doesn't have the time or the opportunity to write to me during the day. I understand that she is busy and has a classroom full of kids to contend with but Griffin has special needs and they have got to be addressed!

The speech path. also said that his ritual behaviors were directly related to his anxiety levels as well which makes sense. He does this thing with his hands where he lays them out flat and touches the palms to the table then turns them over and touches the backside and keeps turning them over touching each side several times and then he is ready to proceed with whatever it is that he is supposed to be doing. I notice it no matter whether he is doing something that he enjoys or whether he is in a hurry to get something done. I need to know if he is doing this sort of thing at school or anything else because we need to figure out what his anxiety levels are. If he is having anxiety at school, and the speech path. is right about it, then I need to know so that we can figure out what to do about decreasing it if they are not doing anything about it already. It seemed to me that his team was And I asked for a parent teacher conference at least a month ago and they still haven't honored my request and that really pisses me off! I had greater confidence in his teacher this year than that because she had been so nice and co-operative in the past. I just called and left a message for her to call me about it.

I am going to talk to his psychologist about this too and see what he thinks about these ritual behaviors because I think that the speech path is right because it makes perfect sense to me that he is stemming or is it stimming? I have forgotten how to spell it because spell check is telling me that stimming is not a word. What a goof ball!!! I thought that it was "stimming" from the word stimulation. So which is it?

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

American Literature Since the Civil War

Well, I started my class yesterday and it was a pretty easy start but....doesn't mean that it is going to remain so. I have read the syllabus and it is not going to be smooth sailing but on the advice of a few of my friends I am going to take it one day at a time and one week at a time because that is how the work is set up and do my best to not lose any sleep over the work. I know that I am going to enjoy doing the reading, as long as I can keep up, and writing essays will be a challenge but as long as my memory can sustain me then I won't be at a loss for words and will be able to recall all my vocabulary words. Thank goodness for the good ole Thesaurus! I am willing to put in the work necessary to get the highest grade possible instead of just passing because it is important to me to make an A. This is why I get so stressed out because I set the bar so high, maybe I should just focus on passing so that I don't worry so much...? It's like a wise man once told me that once he graduated from college his father asked him what they were going to call him when he did so regardless of his grades and the man!

Griffin was out of school today because somewhere in the county there was icy roads. We went to my therapist and to cruddy McDonald's...I swear I don't know why I agree to let him eat there because it is just plain nasty but he loves it. It is rare that we go so I guess that it isn't such a big deal I guess that I just really wish that he ate a healthier diet. If only he would magically start eating veggies and automatically hate sugar we would be in business but try as I might he ain't eatin' vegetables anytime soon. I swear that I am trying new foods with him if it's the last thing that I do one way or another I am getting new foods into that boy. I've got a Rachel Ray family cookbook that has some good stuff in it that he might try and I have a Weight Watchers cookbook that he was thumbing through looking at the pictures showing some interest in so I might try some of those because if he sees a picture first and is interested then he is more likely to try it once it is on the plate.

We went to Target with our neighbor Nikki who bought him two late birthday presents, a Cookie Monster who talks and a small Elmo. He giggled so hard when the Cookie Monster would talk, it's always fun to hear him laugh so much in fact, it's the most euphonious sound in the world!

Friday, February 04, 2011

Just a Little Behind

I have had so much to do in the past few days and I just haven't had time to sit down and write in the blog. I took Griffin to see Dr. Sankey, the behavior specialist, and got his eval and there is nothing on it that is really big news, his verbal IQ is a 76 (well below average) and his non-verbal IQ is a 98 which is average. So that just goes to show that he has a great degree of difficulty with his communication. I have sent an e-mail to my friend at the Autism Society about my communication with Griffin...or the lack thereof...and asked how I can improve upon it, if there was a book out there that might help. I have "Talk Ability" which helps because it teaches one how to talk to the autistic individual but doesn't give me actual conversations/sentences that I could use for him. I am having a hard time keeping the conversations going with the words that he comes up with, which are few.  Anyhow, she is going to forward the e-mail to the speech and language folks that she knows to see how they can help.

I am due to begin my English literature (online) class on Monday and am feeling kind of stressed about it because I don't know how I am going to handle the workload and juggle everything else but it's not as though I haven't done it before with other classes so I don't know what I am so worried about! It's just that I have a high propensity for anxiety due to my PTSD and so I get charged up more easily, and I guess just because it is something new and new things bother me. I almost didn't get my class on time and I am going to get my book one day late but I guess that shouldn't be too big of a problem.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Self-Regulation Techniques

Here are some techniques that Griffin's occupational therapist gave to us for Griffin to use in order to calm down and to avoid meltdowns and I find them to be very helpful and quite effective. One of my fellow bloggers had posted about an emergency meltdown kit and I thought that this might be useful to include in one because it has helped us so much. The best part is that there is only one thing necessary, the techniques only require the use of your child's own body in order to relax and calm down with the exception of the vest and social stories so they are free and can be performed anywhere.

1. Isometric exercises: Any kind of isometrics offer a lot of proprioceptive (muscle) input. Some examples are:
*pushing hands together (use cues "hands together, elbows up, push push push, relax)
*hooking fingers together (one arm palm down, the other palm up) and have child pull fingers apart while                                hooked together.
*giving child a bear hug while he/she tries to pull your arms away
*chair push-ups
*deep breathing

2. Here are two suggestions
*A good weighted vest from somewhere like Southpaw Enterprises or pressure vest
*also, social stories or cartoon strips on preferred behavior in public places has worked well with Griffin

3. Blow out five candles to teach deep breathing. To teach this, hold up your hand with five fingers spread. Blow on each finger, one at a time, as if blowing out birthday candles, drop each finger as the child "blows it out" one at a time until they are all five blown out. When the child learns this concept, you can simply say, "Blow out candles" and hold up your hand.

4. This one is especially effective for Griffin: have the child interlace fingers and lay hands on top of head and press down on top of head while sitting or standing and all the while taking deep breaths in and out. The pressure on the neck and spine is very relaxing. I do it with him and find it to be effective for me too!


 RELAXATION: A Comprehensive Manual for Adults, Children, and Children with Special Needs by Joseph R. Cautela and June Groden. It was recommended by a behavior special ist who works with children with autism.

The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook by Martha Davis, Matthew McKay, PhD, and Elizabeth Robbins. It's available through

Sensory Comfort is having a "going out of business" sale so check them out, they do have books and assorted other sensory items.

I hope that you find these techniques useful in your own life. If you have any questions feel free to ask me.