Single Moms Raising Autistic Sons

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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Today Is A Good Day

This is the sticker that I have on the inside of my front door "TIAGD" Today is a good day and Griffin has made a sign for himself that reads, "RESET". Mine is to remind me of how precious every day is no matter what may happen and that I need to be grateful for everything that happens and for Griffin he made his sign to help him Reset before he goes out the door especially in the morning that no matter what has happened that he starts over as he walks out the door and leaves the past behind him. I admire him for having done that and he didn't even get it from anywhere except his own imagination and consciousness. Griffin is quite the intelligent young man/teenager , creative, and imaginative as well.

Griffin has matured a great deal just since last Spring as he now is far more patient and understanding of situations that have to do with me or others which goes well along with his innate sense of compassion and affection for others and especially animals. But now he thinks of me when I am sick or in pain rather than being upset because it is interfering with his plans. For example, this past Christmas I was so sick with some kind of virus in my GI tract and we couldn't go to SC to visit his sister and my parents and instead of being angry at me for ruining his plans he was ever so helpful, loving, kind, and understanding towards me. Even though he had exclaimed out of frustration that it was the worst Christmas ever and I had to agree with was indeed.

Griffin will be 15 years old next month and that means that he will only be 3 years away from 18 years old....YIKES! But we are in the moment appreciating what we are and have right now not to get ahead of ourselves. I do think about his future though financially and also who will take on the responsibility of guardianship once I am infirmed or simply just not around anymore to care for him no matter how little or how much I need someone whom he trusts to do that so that I feel secure in that he will be safe and happy and provided for.

We have been using the token system at home which is part real coins and partly fake coins used in exchange for completing tasks both on a regular schedule and unexpected ones that come up. For instance, he gets coins for homework, eating properly, showering properly and washing his hair, being proper in public and staying with me the entire time = 50 cents each trip etc... that way he has printing money for the library and he can learn to save for things that he wants to buy. Also if I have to clean up for him then he owes me money ie...$1.00 an hour for my services to clean up after him. He has to give me 3 coins which equals 25 cents in order to go to the library each day or he can earn it by cleaning up himself the designated area I assign. So far it is working like a charm. Thanks to Juliette from Family Preservation.

Soon , Jan. 3rd he will be going back to school but only for an hour and a  half just to get things started back slowly and only Mrs. Keith's class which is math and he will not be allowed to use the computers due to the conflicts that it causes every single time he needs to get off of it at the end of the day ( impossible without some kind of incident). I felt that it was best to just skip it for now until things smooth out a lot more.

His diabetes Type 2, is going great thus far as he has improved upon his eating habits and has become thinner and healthier not asking for "bad" foods. His glucose has been in the normal range. I am so proud of my big (5'11" 206 lbs.) guy! I love you are so awesome!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Making Progress While Out of School

I decided after Griffin had lashed out several times at his teachers that it would be best that we explore some new avenues in which to help him and to figure out what the root cause is to this aggression. Intensive in home has been slow going as change such that is necessary takes some time but we just can't risk him hurting others or for him to get arrested because one of the teachers decide to press charges, he does not need that trauma in his life it would devastate him.

So with Family Preservation Services the team who is doing Intensive In Home, had referred me to their psychiatrist because I wanted Griffin to see someone who could change his meds because I have had a feeling that more could be done in that area. We saw Dr. Lee and boy was I impressed with his extensive knowledge of the ASD/ADHD teenage it functions and what makes it work efficiently and what types of deficiencies cause neurological issues such as aggressive impulsivity , his ticks, OCD, and a plethora of other symptoms that are undesirable. It was so nice that after we had finished our discussion and as he was writing the script for an increase to 3mg of Intuniv, he told me that all of this is fixable which gave me all the hope that I needed to get through this tough spot that we have been facing.

I am also getting a psych evaluation for him to rule out anything psychological which I rather doubt because he is only having outbursts not really mental health issues. But I do want to be sure and cover all of our bases. When he is ready to go back to school whenever that may be then I want to feel confident that he is in the best of health and quite capable of staying calm in all instances. That is no matter what triggers may occur that he is going to be stable and be able to use his words when he gets upset and frustrated.

The Intensive In Home team is so amazing and how I wish that the last three times that we had I.I.H that the groups (different company) would have been so thorough and so truly "intensive" in their therapy but at least we finally have people who are truly dedicated and have many years of experience in ASD to guide their decisions as they guide us.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Griffin Was Provoked By His Teacher's Assistants, His New Friend Sean, and Will from the Autism Society

School was a big problem from the first day which was an absolute disaster so much so that he got up and left his regular ed. class walked down the hall to his homeroom which was a special ed class. He was screaming in the hallways and the poor guy just couldn't take it. And practically every afternoon that I pick him up he is in pieces and his TA and teacher will just not listen to him when he is trying to tell us why he is so upset.

Now he is in a special ed program with a very small class size and it is an occupational work/study type program where they actually make things to sell to the public to fund their field trips. It is a great idea if you have the right staff working who are fully qualified for the position. However the two TAs working with him have already made big mistakes. The first one for some reason that I cannot think of would be justified, threw away his drawings. I find it to be completely uncalled for and inappropriate for a person in a authoritative position to provoke a special needs child into rage without good reason when she could have set it aside and told him that he could finish it later. So he runs out of the room without permission and he gets in trouble for it instead of the real issue that antagonized him in the first place being addressed.

The second TA from his other classroom made a much bigger mistake and caused Griffin to ultimately be suspended. I had given his teachers food and drink for him to have during the day between lunch and going home because he had been having outbursts from being so hungry and he needs the oral motor stimulation too. One day I had asked her to get the cheese sticks out of the fridge to bring to me when she and Griffin met me in the afternoon by the office (inside the bldg.) . When I saw Griffin he was beside himself screaming at her and wanting the Capri Sun that she had in her hand and she refused to give it to him. He yelled, "You can't give that to someone else because my mom paid for it, it's for me!" I turned to him and said that no she wasn't going to give it to someone else and yes it was his. I then turned to her and asked her if that was her intent and she tried to whisper so that Griffin couldn't hear, "No, I was going to put it back in the fridge for tomorrow." I asked her in a firm voice, "Then why is that not what you told him?" Griffin had reached the end of the rope and ran out of the building and I don't blame him.

The next morning I get a call from the liaison from the district saying that Griffin had hit the TA and that they have it on tape and that he will be suspended. I calmly listened to her and then I told her that she needs to hear the entire story. And I asked her if he hit her then why didn't she tell me then and there? I did not disagree that he should have not hit her but in his defense she knew that she was pushing him over to edge to breaking point, then why did she do it and why didn't she stop before it reached that point? And why did she take the drink out of the fridge if she had no intention of giving it to him? That is emotionally abusive for an autistic child and completely out of line! Completely unprofessional! Of course she had no answer and she actually seemed shocked at what I was telling her . Then she said that it was a problem and a personnel issue that would be addressed. I said in a raised firm voice with great sincerity that if Griffin was going to be reprimanded then she has to be as well.

There is a meeting tomorrow morning with whom I do not know but I am fully prepared with all my accounts of what has happened the entire time that he has been there and what needs to change needs to be determined so that Griffin is comfortable and not antagonized so that he can have a positive experience in high school. It has to be figured out somehow because he wants to go to high school and make friends which he already has.

We met Sean the second day of school and he is so amiable and so well mannered, indeed a high functioning senior with autism. We went to the trampoline park with him and to Chick fil A but the only problem is that he doesn't really talk to Griffin instead he carries on conversations with me about things that he is interested in. That is okay but there is just so much going on right now that I had to decline on his invitation for Griffin and I to go to the movies and out to eat also because financially I can't afford it.

Griffin has been spending time with Will from the Autism Society and he loves Will so much. He is so good with Griffin better than anyone ever has been. They went to the fair together, they go to the library and print, to Barnes & Noble, he lets Griffin use his smart phone and no matter where they go they just have fun because Will is just so animated, young, and energetic. I love how they are together.  He is truly a blessing in our lives.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Getting Excited About Starting School

This year Griffin will be a freshman in high school. He has been homeschooling for the past two years and it is definitely time for a change. He wants (and needs) to make new friends his age, to swim in the school swimming pool (his favorite physical activity), learn new things academically, and to just enjoy the whole high school experience. I am so happy for him, he has really grown and developed these past two years learning a lot about living and now the things that he has not had so much of he will finally get in high school. I cannot provide him with all those things and he rightly deserves it in order to develop and progress further.

I must confess that I will miss having him around but the time to myself will be enriching as I will fill my hours being quite productive and creative enjoying all the activities that I have not been able to do while having him home all the time. I haven't planned anything thus far but I am sure when the time comes I will come up with plenty of ideas such as returning to my artwork and writing again they are both sorely missed.

We are still using the library computers and my time is about up so I shall bring this post to an end. Life is wonderful, more and more every day. We had a big blessing today with our car having to pay far less than having been quoted for the front brakes so I am ever so grateful. And he fixed our front windows no charge.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Success with Social Stories

It had occurred to me that if I had written a social story for the library that it would be the perfect solution for our difficulties with behavior and sure enough it did work like a charm. I kicked myself for not having done it in the first place in order to avoid situations. I am at the library or I would post a picture of what it looks like. Basically I just drew stick figures because it is not important that they have detail or look realistic as long as it gets the point across that it is a person, then I drew conversation bubbles over their heads with the words inside. The most important part is that the words are not too many in number but that they are very specific painting a picture of exactly what needs to be done...not what doesn't need to be done. Being positive is very important (to me at least). I drew the other persons involved with only the bare basics of furniture and such. The librarians were impressed not only with the social story but with the tremendous difference in Griffin after he read and understood the story following through with its instructions.

 The library staff, especially the supervisor, all have been absolute angels as far as how they have wanted to help Griffin and me as much as they possibly could. In fact, a night and day difference between this library and the other one where they said that they would call the police on him. They are different counties and it is so obvious! Tears welled up in my eyes when we were talking on the phone and Sarah the supervisor was being so kind and understanding because it touched me so deeply. It is rare that people have such hearts and acceptance of a child's differences. Usually people expect him to conform to their expectations and are totally unwilling to bend a little to help him out. Even family members are that way who do not want to understand that he has autism and that sometimes what he says and does has to be accepted and not judged. Frustrating!

Now I need to make social stories for every event and situation especially those in public such as the wandering at stores, not looking for cars in parking lots, how to conduct oneself appropriately in doctor's offices and waiting rooms etc... If only I had remembered to do this a long time ago life would be so much simpler and easier but I hate clich├ęs but, "Better late than never." I am the first to admit that I learn more everyday, more than Griffin does just by making so many mistakes which I prefer to refer to as life's lessons since I believe that we make mistakes to learn in order to progress in life. It is inevitable therefore why not accept it and not give them a negative connotation?

Another thing that I have recognized in myself is that I usually do not validate Griffin's feelings and I hate that about myself. Today I have decided that that is my new lesson to make sure that when he shows his feelings, no matter what they are, that I stop and ask how he is feeling and then validate those feelings. I have never ever had my feelings validated so I know how painful it is and I refuse to repeat that with Griffin. I want him to hear and feel that all his emotions are appropriate and perfectly normal (although I hate that word) to feel because I know myself how good it feels and how much freedom there is when one has the confidence in one's own feelings without retribution or condemnation of oneself. Griffin needs to understand that all the "bad" emotions are okay too and that the "dark" side is acceptable no need to feel like a bad person for having them because everyone does. The beauty of acceptance of one's whole self is that it gives us absolute freedom from the worry or fear of other people's judgment and criticism.

I watched Eckart Tolle last night he is a man of such wisdom,  the epitome of peace and mindfulness. His books and tapes have left such an impression on me however for me they are to be reviewed again and again in order to truly learn from them. To attempt to get his message across myself I would do him no justice therefore I shall just leave you with one of his quotes:

"By accepting what is you become bigger than what is."    I live in the NOW and accept all that is.

Tomorrow is my 52nd birthday and my dad's birthday and a couple of other people whom I have heard about. I do not make plans because the future is merely in my mind since it has not happened therefore what happens will happen. If I project happiness in the NOW then I imagine that tomorrow will be no different...but all we have is NOW.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

What a Great Summer!

We have been going to a different library in which there has absolutely no problems whatsoever and Griffin is exactly the same person that he was at the other one but the difference is that the staff here are understanding and accepting of Griffin in fact there is a sign on the door that reads: We welcome all abilities, if you have any questions please inquire within. Now that is a true welcome sign indeed.
If a patron says anything to him about him dancing in his chair or anything else I merely inform him that he is autistic and so far everyone is understanding after that. Griffin's counselor recommended that we only go back to the other library where Elizabeth the bully is, on the days that she doesn't work because no one else has a problem with him. However I am still a bit too emotional about it to speak to anyone there, I have got to distance myself from it more so that I can speak nicely and properly.

So far we have been having a great summer although we have been having a bit of car trouble. First it was the radiator then four thread bared tires and one blow out. So the universe was so kind as for my Aunt Becky to call a garage that a couple own Tammy and Glenn and they donated four brand new tires to me and my heart skipped a beat I was almost in tears. Then we went to S.C. to see my mom who had fallen and broken her hip but it was so darn hot 102 degrees, that the car overheated and we were stuck. I had called the mechanic that put in the radiator and thermostat and he scared me to death saying that it was a blown head gasket so we had to have the car towed to NC after sitting in the heat for two hours. It was over an hour's ride home. But the tow truck driver was such a sweetheart and we had a great conversation. He was young and handsome but unattached because he worked on call twenty-four seven just to support his elderly mom. You sure don't find men like that anymore.

I got brave and started driving the car little by little because I had to and I found that as long as I keep anti-freeze in the car it is perfectly fine so I don't think that the head gasket is blown and I don't think that the radiator or thermostat was bad after all or else something was not fixed at the time. Anyhow I am going to a different garage because the other one was wrong and I can't afford to have things replaced that are not helping the problem while the problem still exists. I am going back to see Tammy and Glenn because they help out single moms and are understanding. I waited until I had some money this time so that I can pay them.

Griffin is doing so well with homeschooling. We are on American history right now and he is really enjoying it. Last night he read the entire Declaration of Independence all by himself. I have found that he loves books but has difficulty focusing when reading on his own so I read to him at bedtime every night and we are about to finish Old Yeller. It is challenging to understand for him heck, for me even, but he is getting the gist of it and learning new vocabulary words and slang. We are also reading a chapter book for his age group and I think it is called ....well I forgot but it is pretty good. It takes place in the 1800s in England and is supposed to be a bit spooky.

Before the car problems we were going to SC to see his sister. She is a beautiful person. I will write more later my time is running out.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Incident at Our Favorite Library and Some Really Good News

Griffin and I were going to one specific library where we knew everyone who worked there and got along famously in fact I even volunteered there two days a week. Well, apparently they didn't understand Griffin's autism as much as I thought they had and apparently they didn't think of him as fondly as I had presumed.

There was one librarian, Elizabeth, who unfairly targeted Griffin when it came to asking him to quiet down whereas she nor anyone else asked the people breaking the rules who were talking on their cell phones, having loud conversations, and especially no one spoke to the parents of the kids who were running around and screaming and were old enough to know better that is if anyone had taught them. Well, one day Elizabeth got in Griffin's face when he was, as usual, using headphones and watching a video. Of course he felt that his space had been invaded and she had overwhelmed him by talking to him while he was listening and watching. So he had a knee jerk reaction and barely pushed her out of his face and yelled "I need space". They told me that he had to leave without even listening to me defend him and his behavior and even though there was only 15 minutes left until closing. Griffin knows full well exactly what time the library closes and of course he is used to leaving at that time. He started to have a meltdown screaming that it was not five o'clock yet and it wasn't time to go. I couldn't get him to leave until after a major battle because they had said that they were calling the police. So I panicked . By the way, in over a year's time NO ONE has ever ever complained about Griffin's behavior while on the computer he whispers when he sings and dances in the chair but most everyone who comes there already knows him and just goes about their own business.

Needless to say that I stopped volunteering there and haven't gone back since except to leave a letter that Griffin's therapist wrote to them about him being unfairly targeted and how if the police were called that it would be horribly traumatic for him and that he has never hurt anyone nor ever would. So far I haven't heard from the librarian, Lisa, but Griffin still wants to go there so something has got to be worked out and I am afraid that my mama bear is going to come out and ruin it.

For now we are going to the other county's library where no one complains or gives Griffin a hard time about his singing and dancing in the chair. The worst that has happened is that people look at him funny and I just give them a long stare as if to ask if they have a problem with my son.

In other news, good news is that Griffin was accepted to autism camp and that my mom gave me the cash I needed for the deposit. The camp gave him a $1200.00 scholarship so now I am waiting for one more scholarship for $400.00 to pay for the rest. Fingers crossed! This is the same camp where he went for two consecutive years in 2010 and 2011 and absolutely loved it. I am so excited for him. It will be so good for him to make friends and to socialize but especially to spend some quality time out of doors.

Griffin and I have been having so much fun homeschooling and playing each and every day. He is such a quick learner and so eager to learn that if I am lagging behind on doing studies or if I am not feeling well then he has done studies on his own I noticed one day when going through his papers. He had actually gone through and read his science books making a life cycle chart of animals, the hierarchy of the food chain and facts about presidents and civil war history. I am so very proud of him he has matured and grown so much in just the past year.

Also super good news is that Griffin and I are getting to know his only sister who lives only an hour from us in SC , Rochelle. She is so sweet and kind and so excited to one day get to meet us in person but she works six days a week and is waiting for two days off so that we can spend some time together. I found out about her because their dad, Sam, had gotten in touch with me through a third party and wants to finally be a part of Griffin's life and to really be a dad to him. He has even written some letters to him. Griffin was excited to hear from his dad but he is still just a stranger to him so it will take awhile before he is able to begin to grow close to him in fact Sam has a lot of proving to do to show Griffin that he truly does have the integrity to deserve the title of "Dad". Griffin has so much love in his heart that he is always eager to share his love with anyone which is wonderful but at the same time I hope that it doesn't mean a great deal of heartache in his future. He is so kind and compassionate and I just don't ever want my sweet young man to ever be damaged. He is my universe!

The other night when we were snuggling he said, and I quietly cried, that if I died that he would die and that if he died that I would die and that is what love is. I knew what he meant because we have such an intense bond between us that even if it were not literal then figuratively  we would perish if either one of did leave the other, in spirit. I sit here in the library with tears welling up in my eyes at just the thought of it.

But as we live in the present moment all is wonderful and beautiful, we are as happy as we possibly could ever be. I have been reading some books that have facilitated me in being in the present moment at almost all the time which has enabled me to discontinue a few of my medicines one of which was an anxiety medicine because I no longer have any anxiety in my life no matter what happens I am able to breathe through it and be mindful. No longer do I need to distract myself from stress and issues I merely breathe and find that there is no such thing as stress it is merely our thoughts that put us in that situation they are not real. If we think of the past or future then that is the problem because what is happening in the moment is all that is real.

Love and peace to all. Have a blessed day!