February 24, 2012

TGIF. Seriously.

Last week, my friend Jill posted a piece I wrote about why time off from school is hard for Moe and other kids with autism. Although I wrote that near the winter holiday, the timing was perfect, as Moe is off this week for President's Week. I'll try not to get too Andy Rooney on you, but President's Week? I'm not sure we had President's Day off when I was a kid, let alone a whole week. Some places call this "ski week" but I can assure you we are not going skiing.

Tuesday was a tough day. We've had some concerns about Moe's progress, and are having a thorough assessment done by a very nice and well-respected child psychologist. Last week, we had the parent interview and she observed Moe in his classroom, and this week I took him for the formal part of the assessment in her office.

I'm sure many of you are familiar with the ADOS and other similar structured assessment tools. Moe does not do well on these. He can do things like puzzles and matching, but he doesn't always understand what is being asked of him, and is not very compliant. He's also got an attention span of about 30 seconds these days (something which has gradually decreased since he was 2, and could play with a single toy for 45 minutes). Moe is also not easy to motivate with rewards or "reinforcers" for those of you up on the ABA lingo. Moe is perfectly happy to be there, but you know you're in trouble when the psychologist said "at least he's interested in his environment."

I did manage not to cry before, during or after. Progress!

I took Moe for a haircut yesterday, which took some time in the morning. We picked Jelly up from school (apparently Jewish schools don't respect the presidents quite as much as the public schools) and things were going smoothly. But later in the day, Moe had a serious meltdown at home. I think he was hungry, but refused everything I gave him to eat. I tried giving him a bath, hoping some sensory input would do the trick, but apparently that was the wrong kind. After drying both of us off, he calmed down a little while later.

Moe has been falling asleep progressively later and later this week, and didn't finally fall asleep until almost 10 last night. He was up at 3 in the morning for less than an hour, but it was a tough hour. He screamed in what sounded like pain; he's hoarse this morning. Being overtired is really rough for him, and I think in some ways, is actually painful. He slept until almost 10 this morning. I didn't have the heart to wake him for the sake of "schedule."

I'll have to make sure Moe gets enough activity today but I'm home with both kids. The weather is beautiful so I suspect we'll be spending the day outside. We really need a climbing structure out there!

February 19, 2012

All Kids Do That

My friend Jill at Yeah. Good Times. has been running a series of guest posts on her blog called "All Kids Do That." The background to this series is that often autism parents write and tweet about their challenges, and well-meaning friends and followers come back with "all kids do that." And this bothered her.
This is Jill.

So Jill decided that rather than getting defensive, she would try to educate people on why and how certain parenting challenges are different for those of us with kids on the spectrum.

With this weekend's start of President's Week (or "ski week") already putting me into a mild panic, Jill is featuring my post about why Time Off is hard.

So head over there, and give us some love!

February 12, 2012

I Wish You Love

Whitney Houston has died, and though I was never a particular fan of her music, I can't help but be touched by her struggles, and by the loss of one of the iconic singers of my youth.

In reading about her death, I came across these lyrics from "I Will Always Love You."
I hope life treats you kind
And I hope you have all you’ve dreamed of
And I wish to you, joy and happiness
But above all this, I wish you love
This song is about ending a relationship, but no truer lyrics have been said about how I feel about my children, especially Moe, who may not be able to demand these things for himself.

I want Moe to have all the respect and success and progress he deserves. But most of all, I hope that he is loved and happy, and although life may not always treat him kindly, I hope at least that people will.

It doesn't seem too much to ask.

February 3, 2012

Scenes from My Life

I arrived early at Moe's school. Jelly was in the backseat with the iPad, my new strategy for keeping her happy and in the car. The school secretary called out to another parent "is that Moe's mom?" and all I could think was, "What now?"

A few minutes later, they brought out a weepy Moe. They weren't sure what was wrong, but I suspect that his being up a 4:00 in the morning was a part of it.

Moe was okay at home, but certainly whiny and unhappy. I decided to give him a bath, the one thing I can usually get him to do for more than thirty seconds.

At that point, Jelly was sitting at the table, still playing with the iPad, when she started screaming "fix it!" The battery had (thankfully) run out. I tried to explain to Jelly that I had to charge it up, that it wouldn't work, etc. but she, being two, was not having any of it. She threw a fit.

I left her to it, to go run Moe's bath. He got into the bath and immediately started crying, then screaming and whining. The water temperature was fine, so I'm pretty sure it was a sensory overload thing, but at that moment all I could hear was two simultaneous meltdowns.

I clicked my heels three times but I was already home.

I ignored Jelly, having learned that the best way to negotiate with a two year old is to just avoid the whole thing altogether. She isn't crying now, so I guess she stopped at some point.

I took Moe out of the bath, did some tight squeezes with the towel, and got him dressed. He seemed better, and went to his room to swing, so I started to make dinner. This involved preheating the oven for a frozen pizza organic flat bread.

The dog, meanwhile, had been scratching to go out, but I had been ignoring her because I now have to escort her on leash. Our neighbor's dog, a very aggressive golden retriever, has been spending a lot of time outside because our neighbor has been having work done on her house. So Berkeley and this dog have been fighting through the fence, and actually scratched a hole through it. But I was tired of the whining at the door, so I let her out anyway.

I heard an unfamiliar noise and went to investigate. I found Moe in my bathroom, pumping shampoo all over himself and the floor. He was covered in it as well, but at least he smelled good. I tore his clothes off and started to clean up the mess, when I heard Berkeley fighting at the fence. Dammit!

I called her in with the magic words "want cheese?" and got Moe, who was then whining at me because he was ready for dinner. Thank goodness the oven was already preheated.


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