Single Moms Raising Autistic Sons

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Sunday, July 29, 2012

My Birthday

This will be brief because Griffin is waiting for his turn on the computer but today is my birthday and my dad's. Today I went out with Griffin to the lake early enough that it wasn't so hot in the shade then we went swimming inside at the YMCA where the water was so nice and cool, then we went to Cold Stone Creamery and got an ever so small "like it" sized ice cream for a treat.

We are totally broke, have a hole in the radiator in the car and the air conditioner doesn't work so we can't always take Abby (our service dog) because she gets so hot just traveling from place to place even though she goes in everywhere with us she still wears a fur coat after all. Griffin gets upset because he has to help me open the hood of the car because it takes two people, my car is a 2000 model, and sometimes he simply doesn't feel like helping open the hood to put water in the car.

Gotta go, it is Griffin's turn on the computer. My time is up. I am going to go relax on the couch and either read or watch the DVR programs of the Science Channel I recorded. Welcome to my new friend from Homestyle Mama (with a side of autism).

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Growing Boy

Griffin is now in an 18-20 size shorts and XL shirt, he wears a size 5 shoe but I think that he needs a new pair (he is not cooperating in that area right now). He weighs about 111 lbs. and is about 5 ft. tall. It seems that all he does is eat during the day, that he eats when he gets bored, that he eats automatically when there is nothing else to do with his hands, he just walks to the kitchen and opens up the fridge or cabinets and starts looking in. It is a constant battle. I try to distract him and discourage him and it has triggered tantrums but I do not give in. These are some of the ones that has led to him going after knives eventually.....that's how adamant he is about over-eating. FYI, he goes to a nutritionist on August 7 so she will have some helpful advice as to how to help Griffin with this problem as well as his issues as far as not eating a variety of foods. The pediatrician told me that he needs to slow down the rate in which he is gaining weight since he is 15 lbs overweight for his age, that for Griffin he does not need to lose weight merely slow his gaining rate. It is not as though we don't have healthy foods in the house but he has only resorted to tasting them with his tongue. Now, that is a big deal!

I asked his psychologist about Griffin's obsession with food and he said that he would get back to me on it. I try to keep Griffin outside the apartment as much as possible but it makes me tired because of my Fibromyalgia, it eventually hurts my feet (because I am still recovering from my surgery and I still need surgery on my left foot), and I have to keep in mind that it is very hot because our air conditioning doesn't work in our car therefore it makes us both miserable especially if it is beyond early morning.

Yesterday, Griffin wanted to go to the fountain downtown to play in the water and despite the fact that it was over 90 degrees outside I agreed and I took Abby which probably wasn't a good idea because the car was so hot while traveling. The temperature gauge in the car read 101 degrees probably because we were in traffic and there was no breeze, it was sweltering! It didn't seem to bother Griffin at all.

We made it downtown after driving about 20 minutes, I found the perfect parking space right in front of the fountain and I put enough change in for an hour and a half. I was ready to stay awhile and relax. There was a park bench in the shade right by the fountain where I could clearly see Griffin playing so I settled in with Abby reading my book, it actually felt pretty cool in the shade. It took Griffin awhile to get wet but he got used to the cold water as he walked around the dancing fountain while wearing his goggles (he cannot be near water without wearing his goggles), but after about 15 minutes he came up to me and told me that he was bored.

Oh well, I thought to myself. That is autism for ya! Gotta love 'em!  We sat on the bench and watched the birds for a few minutes then he was ready to go. I love my son and the things that I do for him are out of love. It does not matter that we drove in the heat just for 15 minutes in the fountain as long as he had fun. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Griffin is Improving/Smart Strategies for Handling the Dreaded Meltdown

Martina wrote me after I wrote the article about meltdowns on Griffin as she was concerned about him and myself. I found the article that she posted most helpful and would like to share it with you: . It includes checking your child for hunger and sickness as a source for a trigger perhaps it is a sensory issue that is a trigger? There are many suggestions on there that I like and giving choices is one of them because that is important to me. Griffin has a menu at home that it gets to choose 2 items off of for his meals.....most of the time when we have the food in the house....and that seems to make him much happier and satisfied, feeling in control of himself.

I won't give them all away but one of the biggies on there is to not take it personally. WOW! Sometimes, that is really hard for me! Being a single parent I find it hard to not take it personally because after all who else would he be "targeting"? When he is not "targeting" anyone at all. He is not going after me, that is until he hits me or attacks me...then it is personal. Otherwise, his words are not directed at me he really does not mean to be hurtful and cut me with his tongue. I must keep in mind that he is autistic, that he is innocent and only 10 years old with limited life experience. He loves me unconditionally and would never hurt me intentionally/ would crush him to know that he hurt his mom (at least after the fact).

Griffin is a happy-go-lucky guy who loves to laugh and play imaginary games, who loves to play with his stuffed animals like Barney, Big Bird, Elmo, Teletubbies, The Muppets, Looney Tunes, and a plethora of all kinds of wildlife animals especially wild birds. He loves spending time on the computer looking at images of these characters plus the Geico gecko and the Aflac duck, and YouTube videos that other kiddos have made. So far, I monitor what he does and he has not gone to any site that is inappropriate, he has been told what is not okay and he stays away from them.

I can't help but to wonder if this recent change in Griffin is being brought on by hormonal changes or if it is his bipolar meds that need to be changed. I had a talk with him, thanks to Melinda and her great comment that she left here on the blog, on the last post.....thank you Melinda! That was so very helpful! Since then he has done well. I just told him that he is getting older and bigger and that when he gets older that things won't be so easy when he gets in trouble. And like she said, I didn't try to scare him but I do think that it did put a bit of a new perspective into him a new bit of respect into him. I think that now he knows that I am not putting up with anymore nonsense because I cannot......he is just too big and out of control. I can't use autism as an excuse all the time, sometimes his behaviors are just because he is not taking control of himself. I think that I have to get a grip on myself and be more firm with him and when he gets out of control in public if I think that it is not a sensory issue and his safety is compromised then I am going to have to put my foot down! I am just going to have to remind him of the rules and consequences and add some new ones if necessary. But I don't see that happening right now.

I would just like to have to avoid having to physically attempt anything with him because he is over half my weight and I just can't handle him that way. When his adrenaline gets to flowing he is incredibly strong as you all know how that goes. I only have my words to work with, I have to use my intelligence....God help me! Griffin is my treasure and I want to treat him with the utmost respect that he deserves, I want him to have high self-esteem but to know where his boundaries are for future reference because I only think that it could help not hinder him in his future endeavors.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Meltdown is an Overused Word These Days

It seems like all you hear these days is that kids are having "meltdowns" left and right and it is not limited to special needs kiddos anymore or was it ever? Anyhow, Griffin has something that is not a tantrum as most would believe it to be when witnessing it out in public....NO!!!! This behavior is sensory overload and/or triggers stemming from his autism and it is NOT because he is a brat! I feel so helpless when he has this behavior because all the techniques that I have been taught for all these years have not been working lately like helping him to calm himself down through deep breathing for example which is a great method for most people.

I have sought advice from so many sources and the best thing that I have come up with so far is to keep a journal of his behaviors and maybe I can figure out what the triggers are. Maybe I can figure out something that all these "meltdowns" have in common because it is not the time of day and Griffin has not had a schedule since he was born except once and it was disastrous. That was when family preservation was here and their "help" was not helpful. Griffin agreed to try it once more for school but he has always been the exception to the autistic rule for schedules. I tell him ahead of time what we are going to do and that seems to work fine.

So, I am hoping that maybe this journal will help me narrow down the sensory issues that he has and even though my psychologist tells me that I beat myself up too much and that I am always trying to be perfect, I think that I may be a factor in the whole scheme of things....he would disagree but it is a possibility that I am doing something wrong and triggering him myself. My doctor told me that I do not give myself enough credit for what I do for Griffin, that I have a lot on my plate caring for him and attending to my own mental illness and physical disabilities and that I need to make some changes in that area of my life. I know that I do but it is not easy. He always comes first for me and somewhere I fit into the picture.

I was talking to my mom yesterday and explaining to her the extent of Griffin's behavior and how I was getting kind of scared because when he loses his temper he really goes off on me and hits me and has recently started reaching for the knives as if to get one to go after me with it which I really don't think he would ever do but I have hidden them in order to avoid incidents in the future that might be violent. He always apologizes after he hits me and we talk about it and how it is not okay but it happens again and again.

Griffin seems to really like his new psychologist which is wonderful and he is really helping me to cope with Griffin's problems too.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Relaxation and Occupational Therapy

Spongebob Squarepants by: Griffin

Paul Taylor was kind enough to write to me and send me this link :  which includes techniques for your child to relax and they are very easy to do. I think that Griffin will have no problem doing them so I am going to incorporate them into our schedule each day. Thank you for sending that over Paul. He really needs to calm down and relax not only at night but during the day because he is not active which typically creates a calming effect physically which doesn't make sense but activity increases blood flow which helps to calm the muscles down when the activity ceases.

He had a huge meltdown at OT yesterday telling me that he didn't want to go to this OT anymore that he wants to go back to his old OT at the OH Center. He told me that he is so bored where he is and that there is nothing to do but his OT is so good with him and so kind, so good with me too but......time to move on I guess. I know that he needs OT, he still has sensory issues but does he need to go to OT, that is the question. I could just keep his OT stuff here at home......nah.....I think that he needs it outside of home because I can't give him everything that he needs.