Single Moms Raising Autistic Sons

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Sunday, October 28, 2012


Griffin had a class the other day on puberty but I am not too sure how much he picked up on it because he didn't want to discuss it with me. I am hoping that when we go to see Paul his LCSW on the 6th that he will open up about it and express some of what he has learned and feeling about it. Maybe he will feel more comfortable discussing it with a man I don't know.

I do know that I am feeling a bit anxious about it even though he has shown no signs of it so far I know that it is coming soon and I have to be ready for it like it or not. I have noticed that my attitude towards him has been changing and that I have been expecting him to do more for himself and I expect him to be more independent. I am guilty of not spending as much time with him as I feel that I should but then again when I try he tells me that he wants space so I am left to wonder why I even beat myself up over it in the first place. He is autistic and I can only bond with him so much, I have tried over the years and we have grown close because we are both so affectionate and snuggle at night but sometimes I think that there has to be a line drawn and I have to realize that this disorder keeps us at a distance to a certain degree.

There is no small talk, there is no play time, and when we are in the same room together we do our separate activities and I have to live with that without guilt......IT'S NOT MY FAULT! This is something that I have had to tell myself since the day he was diagnosed and isn't it strange that I am still saying that? It is ironic because I have the page on Facebook Single Moms Raising Autistic Sons and I support moms all the time and tell them how they are strong and how I admire what they are doing for their sons that what they are doing is the greatest feat in all the universe, and how their son is worth every moment and every just hang in there and disregard the negativity of others. But I don't find those words for myself because of the guilt that I have that autism often brings.

I know that autism is not my fault because I am an intelligent human being and even that gnawing guilt will not get the best of me that has been there since the all know it whether you still have it or not. I never went through the denial phase when Griffin had autism signs and symptoms, I went right away to get help and got Early Intervention at 15 months but did that alive me of the guilt portion of the picture? I think that all autism parents go through it but at different times and I think that I am just now going through a delayed reaction if you will....some nine years later. It is not as though I have a broken heart and/or that I am disappointed that I have an autistic child all of a sudden, it's just that I am having a hard time coping with the weight of the situation and handling the responsibilities that come with it but of course I have to. This is why I anxiety levels have risen and that is something else I have to cope with.  

I just hope that no matter what Griffin and I will continue to grow close through puberty, that we will snuggle and be affectionate and bond regardless of his raging hormones and mood swings. I adore Griffin, he is my universe and even when we are not talking or playing I feel my love for him and hope that he still connects with me.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

10 Things to Keep in Mind When Teaching Your Kids About Stranger Danger

Disclaimer: I do not endorse this company because I have no experience with them but I have agreed to publish their article because I am impressed with it.

This is a subject that comes close to home for me because Griffin has NO fear of strangers and no matter how many times I have the conversation with him he cannot seem to grasp the concept of stranger danger. I have found this article helpful even though some of the concepts I think may be that Griffin wouldn't get......I am certainly going to give it my best shot though and I will not give up! I think if I keep on being persistent maybe one day he will catch onto it.

I do recommend that you read this article because it is very helpful and I believe that every parent needs a little bit of help in this area because it is such a scary subject and sometimes we just don't know how to approach it on our own....please don't feel insulted by that statement. I just know that as a single parent I do need help and I am not ashamed to admit it, I am a strong mother but even strong women have moments when they need support. This is what makes us so strong is that we are able to seek out support and resources to help us along our path that leads us to nurture our children to the best of our abilities in the end.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The 5 Stages of Behavior (Where Hitting is Against the Law)

We went to see Paul, Griffin's new LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker), who specializes in autism and I must say has me very impressed. By the second visit Griffin had warmed up to him and was really responding to him in a positive manner. I had told Paul that my main concern was that Griffin had been hitting me on a regular basis and no matter what I had tried I could not get him to stop so this is what he asked me to try and how he explained it to Griffin:

Stage 1: Happy, everything is fine and everybody is getting along
Stage 2: Worried, getting a bit tense and thinking about things that make you upset
Stage 3: Upset, time to get out the "Take a Break" card and go to your room and calm down
Stage 4: Mad, too late, you are in trouble
Stage 5: Hitting is AGAINST THE LAW!!!!!!

This has made a deep impression on him because it has been almost two weeks and he has not even tried to hit me and when he gets upset and I tell him to take a break he goes to his room willingly. So....kudos to Paul! I am so proud of Griffin for his progress he has really shown restraint and maturity.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Bipolar Quandary

Who knows what it is like to be so on edge that every little thing sets you off? To be so depressed that you can't even laugh when your child laughs? To not find joy in life but to just go through the motions day to day looking for something to satisfy that need to be "normal" but then not really knowing what "normal" is. Having had so many manic days for years and suppressing them with meds to stabilize myself so that I could function and sleep worked for awhile but then my body gets used to the drugs and builds up a tolerance to them and I have to move on to something else. I then become manic again or I become depressed or I cycle between the two even in one day.

My thoughts wander like wild horses on the range and I can't help but to think about how things might have been different had I been a sane individual and perhaps been a more nurturing mother. What if I had been more prepared but of course I was in the FBI and had just been assaulted so I guess that there was no real way that I could have been prepared. I often wonder if my mental illness played a part in me being in the FBI, I crazy does one have to be to work undercover doing drug sting operations? In hindsight, that was really stupid! And then there's Griffin's dad who I met back then. I should have known he was going to be a loser. But I think that by being bipolar my better judgement was NOT better. In fact, I had no good judgement at all. I was not medicated and I was manic making poor decisions. Sometimes I reflect and I blame myself, I beat myself up for those decisions even though I know that I shouldn't, I am no longer that woman and she didn't know what she was doing at the time.

This has been my journey folks of being bipolar for so many years, experimenting with so many different drugs with several different doctors until I finally have found the right one who has helped me become stable. All these years of trying to cope with Griffin's meltdowns while having my own at the same time....the screaming and inappropriate behavior on both our parts. I have self medicated with alcohol and thank goodness I stopped that 3 years ago and I stopped smoking too so I have made great strides to self improvement thanks to myself and to my doctor.

But I did it all for Griffin because he is my universe, he is who I live for! Griffin, I hope that one day you will read this and perhaps be proud of your mom just because I am your mom not for what I have done but for who I am. I hope that you can look across to me, not up to me, and see me as a fellow human who has loved you unconditionally through my mental illness and that I hope that you can forgive me for all the words that I have spoken in anger that I did not mean that I have apologized for because it came from my heart.

My mental illness has taken me on a journey that I did not ask for and it has rendered me not necessarily helpless but at its mercy on many occasions. I have fought it rigorously but without the right medications it is all in vain and when I try to stop my anger or mania or sadness it is out of control until my doctor finds the right combination of medication to counteract those strong emotions. Then it is a matter of experimenting with the new drugs and sometimes it can be very frustrating. In the meantime I have to cope with Griffin and his behaviors.

Griffin tends to pick up on it when I am having a hard time with my emotions and he is even worse with his behaviors. Or maybe it is that I am just slack on my parenting skills with him when I am having a hard time therefore he acts out more. People who do not know any better say that I should spank Griffin for his behaviors especially because he hits me.....c'mon people, you do not hit a child and teach them to hit while telling them to not hit someone else! And you do not hit an autistic child! Spanking an autistic child does not work. I may have mental illness and get angry to the point of losing my cool but I do know not to hit Griffin because spanking him is counterproductive. I have to use positive reinforcement.

The love that I have for Griffin keeps me sane and gives me a purpose in life. I don't care that there are problems every now and then....he is so worth every moment!

Mental illness is so misunderstood I hope that you will think about it twice when you see someone who is afflicted or hear a story that you might find compassion in your heart to understand his/her situation. That he/she might be experiencing pain and anguish or any other negative emotion that may be beyond his/her control. Reach out and offer a hug if they are open to it because that show of affection would make the day of one individual which could in turn light the day of another then another and so on and so on.....

I know that when Griffin gives me a hug my anguish dissipates and all I can see is his beautiful smile, suddenly all I can think about is his unconditional love and how grateful I am for it.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

10 Tips For Parents of Kids Who Are Being Bullied

These are some very helpful tips for parents of kids of most any age who have been bullied. It encourages parents to build their child's self esteem to not retaliate when bullied but to find hobbies instead in order to be distracted from the negativity of the situation. It is important to encourage your child to be redirected from the bullying, learning to block it out such as when it is cyberbullying. Read on and find out more about how to better cope with bullying yourself and helping your child cope with it as well. I find this to be a very good article especially because it takes such a positive approach to the situation.

Disclaimer:  I do not endorse the advertiser as I am not personally familiar with them but I have agreed to publish their article.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Griffin's New Respite Provider...Jim

This is my dear friend Vicky who took care of Griffin while I was in the hospital and Griffin smiling ever so sweetly.

Griffin went with the new respite provider on Saturday, I am a bit behind in writing in the blog, and it seemed to go pretty well for the first time I suppose. He wasn't thrilled but at the same time he wasn't disappointed either. When it was over he gave Jim a high five and a fist pump with a big smile so I guess that was a good sign. When I asked him how it went he told me it was boring but I couldn't get him to elaborate. First, we went to the playground and I observed them together and Griffin was very aloof even once telling Jim to go sit with me and to leave him alone for awhile. I decided to let them go to the lake to feed the ducks without me and I guess they stayed for about 45 minutes or so. Jim reported that Griffin tried to catch the mother duck that had the ducklings and Jim had to tell him to not do that but that he was okay with the correction, they didn't use up all the bread I gave them, and I think that Griffin was just not comfortable being around him yet that is why they ended up coming home so soon. They had planned to do more and to stay longer but Griffin wasn't into it.

I just hope that everything is okay with Griffin and that this works out for him because he really does need a male role model in his life. He hasn't had one since living with my dad and that wasn't for long and that was a long time ago. He has never had his father in his life and he has been asking about him, he is beginning to feel a void in his life and I hope that if he has a male role model that is positive that it will help. Jim seems like a good man and he comes highly recommended by the Autism Society and by Elsa who was the camp director at the autism camp where Griffin went for 2 yrs so she knows Griffin and his needs. I believe that if Elsa trusts Jim then I should trust him and he is also a Title 1 reading teacher for the school district, he has a family with a 9 year old daughter. Also he has worked with an autistic child who was challenging before through the Autism Society for awhile.

All the signs are there that I should trust Jim and I feel good about it but I can't help but to wonder deep inside if I am too trusting and if I just want it too bad to work out for Griffin and ignoring what I really should be paying attention to. Griffin has been coached a million times on what to do if someone tries to touch him in his "private parts" we go over it all the time and he gets it right every time but I can't help to wonder if he would really get it right in an emergency, if it was really happening. Would he panic? Would the molester groom Griffin so well that Griffin would not recognize the signs? I can't help to wonder all those things. Am I being paranoid? My child has a communication disability, he cannot express himself verbally and often only acts out instead which is nearly impossible to interpret.

Griffin has a new LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) who specializes in autism and has seen us for 2 visits now and has helped Griffin a great deal already. We have approached the problem that we have had with hitting, something that Griffin has been doing for quite some time. We have been to several psychologists and to TEACCH and nobody has been able to help us remedy the hitting problem. I think that Paul's approach is going to work. It goes as follows: There are 5 levels, 1 is Happy 2 is worried 3 is upset and time to get the ( I need a break card), 4 is mad and 5 is AGAINST THE LAW! So, he has to become familiar with each stage and know that by the time he is at 3 he needs to get his break card and go to his room until he is calmed down so that he doesn't get to level 4 or 5. If he takes a break then he can calm down and get back to level 1 and be happy again.

I am going to ask Paul about my fears of Griffin being molested even though they are deep seated, I do still think that I should know what signs to look for in Griffin's behavior and expression. Better safe than sorry....I may be overprotective but I had rather be guilty of that than to have something happen to my son right under my nose.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Out of the Hospital

I had to go to the hospital because I got an infection in my knee from the surgery, a staph infection, so I had to have IV antibiotics and had to stay in there a week while Griffin had to stay with my friend Vicky about 30 minutes away. I only got to see him once while I was in there so I was pretty sad. The doctors didn't even figure out that I had an abscess in knee until I had been in the hospital several days and they finally took the steri-stips off and puss poured out then they had to clean it out and boy was that painful because it went all the way to the bone.

Griffin seemed to be enjoying himself while he was at Vicky's, he didn't say much on the phone because he never does but what little he did say it was a good sign and when he got home he seemed okay too. She had good stories to tell me of things that he did while he was there too. She has a kitten there they he really took to but who didn't really care for him because Griffin is a bit rough with cats as he doesn't really pick them up nicely yet he does know how to hold them, sometimes it is too late because by then they are already scratching him. He doesn't mind though, it doesn't discourage him from holding them again in the future because he has such a fondness for them. He always brings Dot, our cat, to me to show me how he is holding her so nicely and how she is so calm in his arms each time and she is because she will allow him to pick her up and hold her but will not allow me to do so. There is something about Griffin that she knows and tunes into.

While I was gone I trusted my neighbor Nikki to care for my home and Abby and Dot for me and I left in a hurry to the hospital without thinking to shut down the computer or to hide my list of passwords for it, there were too many other priorities on my mind at the time. So when I get home Griffin wanted to get on the computer right away of course and he did but he opened too many tabs and had to reboot the computer and when that happened it told us that we had to enter a new password when I had it set so that the parental controls were off when I left so that the passwords were not active. So, I had four users on the parental controls and she was only able to change 3 of them so I was able to get through to use my desktop on one of them but it did not have access to any of my files or pictures or anything so I thought that she had deleted everything and I panicked. Fortunately, I had a friend who had a son-in-law who works on computers who was able to come over and fix it for me and get it back to normal for me boy was I grateful! All those photos that I thought were gone my heart was so broken.Needless to say she is out of our lives! I think that she wanted to sabotage the computer so that Griffin couldn't use it. I will have to write more on that later but she didn't like him nor did she understand him.

Now I am going out to buy some flash drives to back up my photos and documents so I never have that sinking feeling again. That is years of memories that would have just disappeared because someone had it out for me and for what? I don't know why she did it. And to top it off she blamed Griffin for it, Griffin is a smart young guy but he is not clever enough to do that nor would he have any reason to mess with something like that to even go to that part of the computer. She not only changed my desktop password but also my Facebook password and my Hotmail password because I had my password list sitting beside the computer.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

The Latest On My Knee

This is an Black Indian Runner Duck and I just love how the picture came out so I had to add it to the post.

My knee got infected really bad and I had to go to the doctor yesterday, it was so bad that the doctor put me on two antibiotics one that I take twice a day and one that I take four times a day and then he put me on strict orders to stay off my feet until Thursday or until the redness and swelling went down considerably or else it would move into the joint and if that happened then he would have to do surgery again to clean it out. The doctor said that it was extremely rare in an arthroscopic surgery to get infection but leave it to me to be that 1%. It is getting easier to bend it and to walk so the antibiotics are beginning to take effect I guess.

The pain is pretty bad and I can't take the meds for it while I driving or while Griffin is home because it usually makes me sleepy but that's okay because I have a pretty high tolerance for pain. I have had worse and others have it worse than me like my dad, Aunt Patty, Aunt Gail, and Charlie just to name a few. So I can't complain.

My neighbor Nikki has helped me a lot, she did some housework yesterday for me and brought over some food for me so I didn't have to get off the couch. Then when Griffin came home from school she prepared snacks for him which he refused and then had a tantrum, he tends to do that when I am feeling bad, he takes advantage of the fact that I can't get off the couch. That is what he did the other day when mom was here. Nikki handled it really well and helped me send him to his room because he hit me and ran away. I did talk to him afterwards about his day to see if there was something bothering him from earlier that day and he couldn't really come up with anything specific. I think that maybe he is just sensitive about me being "sick" and not feeling well and up to par even though I do not tell him that I am sick. I just told him to not touch my knee because the day after my surgery we were snuggling and he bumped into it and I screamed (of course) and then he figured it out.

Griffin had a rough morning but I think that it was because he was so hungry because he was talking about that while he was whining and screaming. I gave him some yogurt because it was quick and has some protein and relatively filling at least until he gets to school for breakfast and hopefully it will be a good breakfast.

I e-mailed his music teacher and asked her how he was doing and she said that she was having to help him with his finger placement on his recorder, but doesn't she have to with any of the kids? And he needs help remembering his music folder but that she is going to assign him a buddy who can help him bring the folder to class. She said that otherwise he is doing well so I guess that he is getting along well with the other kids just fine. I am wishing now that I had asked her some specific questions but instead I just asked her to describe in a couple of sentences how he is doing.