Peek A Hoo

Sunday, December 19, 2010

CLOSED: Out Fishing

Too busy at this time of year (being Nov-Dec) to blog.  Sorry!

I hope to be back to the blogosphere in January!! 
Hugs & Happy Holidays!!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I Love My Son with Aspergers

Last night, Flyboy and I attended a "parents only" sessions with Bug's new therapist, Cathy Grayson.  She is also the author of Parenting Your Asperger Child.  She was very down to earth.  She was very kind and extremely understanding.  And when she told us that indeed our son does have Aspergers, she was sympathetic but positive.  She was outraged along with Flyboy & myself at what we, as a family, have been through and how Bug's condition could be missed by so many medical professionals over the years.  She knew within the hour of meeting and talking with Bug that there was NO DOUBT in her mind what was going on with him.

Aspergers.  It is a high functioning form of Autism.  I am not going to list out the signs/symptoms of Aspergers.  There are TONS of sites and books out there that you can read if you are interested or curious.  In this blog, I listed out a huge number of Bug's specific behaviors and issues.

I am, however, going to share this video from YouTube that I feel sums up what Aspergers is...and how it feels.
Please take a moment to watch it.

As a parent who has been battling the "something is different" or "something is OFF" with my child feelings for the last 6 years, I am both saddened and relieved to have Bug's condition diagnosed.  Saddened because it is hard to accept that life won't be easy for my child.  Saddened because all of these years I have not parented him the way HE NEEDED me to.  Saddened because my child feels that no one understands him in this world.  BUT on the flip side, I am relieved to know that as a mother, my gut feeling was right...something was off...and it wasn't simply that Flyboy and I were terrible parents who fucked their kid up.  (And believe me when I say it is DEFINITELY something that goes through your head...many times.)  I am relieved that maybe we can educate ourselves on how to parent Bug in the way that HE NEEDS us to from this point on.
Am I scared?  Hell yes.  I am scared that I won't have the patience Bug needs from me.  I am already stretched to my limits with what I call my "high maintenance" kids and life.  I am scared of failure.  But, that is precisely what is going to take me to the finish allow me to build more patience than I ever dreamed possible, to help me become more understanding and loving than I have even been.  So, yes, I am scared....BUT I am NOT defeated.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Best Kind of Different

It's a book.  About raising an Aspergers child in the middle of "the rest of life."  By Shonda Schilling.

This book has literally touched me to my soul.  From the moment that I read the first chapter, I was hooked.  This was exactly what I was living in raising a child that was somehow "different" but I wasn't sure how.  Because for me, I had no children to compare my "different" child, I wasn't alerted to his "offness" until after his K year in school.  His teacher had come to Flyboy and myself and told us that he was "loud" and "talked a lot," especially out of turn.  I shrugged it off thinking that he was a 5year old....with the genes of loud parents...and was an only child, so hadn't learned "turn taking" rules yet.  We went through a number of other issues that led us to the initial diagnoses of ADHD/ADD, which you can read here.  But even after 2 phsychiatrists, 2 neurologists, and 2 therapists, and a 10 day inpatient hospitalization later...we are STILL trying to find out what is going on with our "different" child.
I know that when we took Bug into CHOP (Children's Hospital of Philadelphia) back in spring of 2009, just before he was hospitalized...and just moments before I looked like this....(due to my hatred for the so-called psychiatrist in the Cherry Hill, NJ area that ended up putting my son on so many BiPolar drugs that he could have caused death in my then 10 year old)...

....we were asked if Bug had ever been tested for Aspergers/ASD.  I was thinking that the nurse must have been crazy.  I had witnessed autistic children before and Bug was certainly NOT autistic.  But, nevertheless, her words did not go unheard.  And after MANY MANY hours of dead end research, phone calls and transfers from one office to another, we ended up at this "wonderful" clinic for neurology in NJ.  Now, I won't say that they weren't great with the kids.  And I wouldn't even say that they weren't equiped with the right tools to find the "problem" with Bug.  But, what I will say is this....they were over worked and under staffed with nurses/doctors.  The "head" doctor was leaving to go off on a book writing adventure and I think we were his last "intake" patient and because of that, we didn't get the time and energy devoted to us that I feel we should have.  Instead, we were thrusted into the hands of the "other" doctor in the practice, who was the "medicine" guy basically, & also a therapist in the same building.  The "medicine" doctor really didn't do anything but assign us to have blood work done now and then to make sure that Bug's body was doing OK with the meds that he was prescribed.  No, not the medications that THIS doctor prescribed, but the SAME FUCKING MEDS THAT HE WAS DETOXED TO IN THE INPATIENT VISIT.  WTF?!?!?  So, anyhow, you can see why I would look like the that.  Or this....

So, instead of wallowing in the defeat, we keep moving forward.  Tiny steps.  Baby steps.  But still, they are forward and not backwards.  We kept our strength, even though at times we wanted to lie down and cry instead.  We powered our minds and hearts with books and research until one day over a year later, for whatever reason, we saw it.  We KNEW it.  Bug has Aspergers...a high functioning form of autism.  No, he didn't rock and have the need to touch everything in the room.  No, he wasn't unable to speak or communicate.  BUT, yes, he exhibited many many many of the other signs/symptoms of "high functioning autism" or Aspergers.

Here are a few of Bug's specific behaviors:
Could say “Mom-Mom”  at 5 months
Could sit and drink from a sippy cup at 6 months
Could crawl at 8 months
Could walk at 11 months
Could eat with a spoon at 14 months - very messy and still is!
Could string multiple words together/sentences by 18 months
Distinct food dislikes by 18 months (tomatoes in particular)
Distinct food LIKES -- Velveeta Shells N Cheese (only this brand), White American Cheese from Subway (and ONLY from Subway), Rice-A-Roni Rice Pilaf (only this brand and type), etc...
His foods CANNOT be mixed together.  They really shouldn’t even be touching each other on his plate.  He will ask for a new plate for seconds if the first one is messy.
Potty Trained completely by age 3
Likes to play only if by his rules and his imagination, age 2 - current
Because of the above, he gets along better with younger children, but tends to rather be alone.
HUGE into dinosaurs (knew names and stats by age 3-4) and preferred factual books over fictional stories about dinosaurs
Advanced vocabulary, age 5 - current
Kindergarten teacher flagged him for being TOO LOUD and not knowing when to stop talking, & bursting into conversations and lectures....
HUGE into bugs at age 5-6
Attempted to play baseball/soccer at 4-6 years, slow hand/eye coordination to swing bat or catch ball - liked to think he was a great soccer player but never touched the ball
Could not tie shoes or do snaps or buttons until ~age 8/9  (still prefers not to do these things - asks for velcro shoes, doesn’t unbutton pants when removing or putting on)
Went to speech class for repetition of words/phrases “I want...I want...I want to...I want to...I want to go to the bath....I want to go to the bathroom.”  Also copies movies, line for line sometimes.
First Grade teacher was very strict and set in her ways, just had him move his desk next to hers, separating him from rest of class to his embarrassment.
Makes “quacking” noise, age 6 - current  (sometimes more often than others)
Some strange language structures - “Is what it is....”  “Is what I want is....”
Picks at his skin and chews nails all the time, starting to obsess about pimples
Lies a LOT...but he even seems convinced that the lie is true??
Thought he could “talk to the animals and birds,” age 6 - current
Very sensitive to certain clothes - textures on his skin, too tight, too loose
Had trouble holding a pencil correctly until ~age 8
Has to really concentrate and write slowly to have good handwriting
HUGE into coins, age 6-9 - collections galore
Collects MARBLES....???  Doesn’t play with them, just collects them.
Collects Rocks & Seashells -- a gazillion of them in boxes. 
Loves to build with LEGOs but does not want to follow directions...only free build.
Could not ride a bike until age 9
Excessive Fears : dark, vampires, werewolves, dogs, spiders, heights, water
Just learning to swim really THIS YEAR .... at 11 years old.
Always asking about the worst possible scenario -- “what happens if...”
Very uncomfortable in social situations - even at dinner with only his family
Prefers to be alone, isolated at any time of the day
Has only ever been able to have 1 friend at any given time, if any
Always OVERLY concerned about every little thing his sisters do - constant tattling on his little sisters, age 7 - current
HUGE into video games, specifically HALO & ASSASSINS CREED, age 9 - current, will ask over and over if he can “play” and if you say no, he is depressed.  But comes right back within 30 min to see if you changed your mind.  Even when he knows he shouldn’t ask, he will come to me and look at me until I say “yes” or “no” about video games.  He knows if he just stares at me that I can read what he wants.  :)
Always “bored” if he can’t play video games - has no interest in anything else
Enjoys one-sided conversations, does not really want to hear anyone else’s reasoning or opinions
Doesn’t understand when someone is not interested in what he is talking about - you have to physically tell him “Bug, I am really not interested in talking about this anymore” before he stops.  (Doesn’t seem to care if you are doing something else, with your back to him, or talking to someone else....he just keeps going!)
Doesn’t get sarcasm very well.  He will ask “did you just use sarcasm” instead of just knowing.  Jokes are the same unless they are silly “knock-knock” jokes that he has determined are “suppose” to be funny.
Thinks non-sensical knock-knock jokes that HE makes up are hilarious. 
Feelings have always been SUPER EASILY hurt
Rituals/Routines, especially at night - pillow walls, stuffed animals arranged “just so,”  up to use restroom multiple times, turns all lights on that are on his path / During the Day, he wants to know the exact plan, including times, and if we stray from that plan, he has a fit.
Excellent in Science & History; struggles with Math
Keeps the shades in his room pulled 24/7 -- complains in the car that “damn sun is too bright” and enjoys bringing a blanket to cover up his head with.
Loves to play and build “forts” with blankets - he feels safe inside and will giggle with excitement when he has that “safe” feeling
Sleep issues - doesn’t sleep at all some nights, other nights he is wide awake until well after midnight.
Suicidal at times
Has difficulty cutting his food up.  (waffles, meat, etc)
Is an “expert” in XBOX video games (specifically Bungee games) & earth/animal science - CANNOT be proven wrong in these matter how wrong he might be.
Gets overwhelmed and angry quickly.
Insistent on doing what he wants to do regardless of any consequences.  (No matter how tough the discipline might be.)
Is not completely anti-social all of the time. He likes to interact with certain people at certain times.  Some days are better than others.  And once he is upset by something, he shuts down completely.
His way is always RIGHT, regardless of what anyone else might say. 

In many other ways, Bug was as typical as a kid gets.  But, there were these differences that made him stand out from the crowd.  That made raising him seem like more of a chore than anything else.  We love him with all of our hearts, but damn, he makes it hard on a lot of occasions.  And from that, we, as parents have guilt.  Guilt about why it is sometimes so hard to just love our child and want to be with him.  Guilt in knowing that because of the Aspergers, Bug IS different and needs to be parented as such...but that we haven't in the 11 years of life because we didn't know.  Guilt because we feel bad that, while we love him so fucking much, he won't ever be the person we "thought" he would be.  Guilt because as parents, we don't know where to go from here.  And as parents, aren't we suppose to have the answers?   

This book, The Best Kind of Different, addresses one woman's journey as she faced many of these challenges and took on day to day life at the same time.  In it, I could feel her anxiety and feel her stress and worry at times and then at others, I could relate with her moments of elatedness.  I haven't quite made it to the point where I am capable of completely accepting the situation for what it is 100% of the time.  But I am working on it.  And Shonda Schilling gave me hope that I, too, will someday be as comfortable with Bug's "kind of different" too. 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Bitchin' Wives Club Shout Out

This is one of my favorite bloggers and twitter pals to follow!  She is real, down to earth, funny and I totally relate to her on so many levels!  Please check her blog out here:

She made this and it cracks me up:

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Moms LOVE Eminem Too!!

I. Love. This. Song.

I. Love. Eminem.

BUT, I am not sure how I feel about my 5 year old daughter singing the lyrics to this.  Maybe if she were just singing the melody with Rhianna, I wouldn't even think about it, BUT she is singing the actual Eminem "next time I'll aim my fist at the dry wall, next time, there won't be no next time" rap lyrics.  The song is amazing but it isn't something I feel is OK for her to be singing along with.  But then again, I am torn, does she even understand it?
But Eminem is MY FAVORITE artist.  Has been for years!! I don't wanna stop listening to him!  (Yes, that was definitely a whiny 4year old voice...sorry!)  Some people (Flyboy among others at various times) have suggested that I don't listen to Eminem while the kids are around.  Ok.  But what I quickly realized was that there isn't a such time when I have no kids around at this point in my life.  (Eeek, they're everywhere!  They're everywhere!)  So, while I tried to quickly turn off my iPod as soon as a small, innocent unknowing person walked into the room, it just seemed that it would QUICKLY put me in a bad mood because while I am understanding and thoughtful (haha, yeah, not so much),  it was still throwing off this Mama's groove.  I would often imagine that wonderful record scratching noise (like this) whenever a child would walk, run, trip, skip, lemur, hop or dance into the room when I was listening to my "Mama Music."  Not. Good.  So, instead, I have decided that life is too short to not listen to my music regardless of my innocent (ha!  I just like scratching that word out!) kiddos being in the room.  Now, I just have to figure out how to explain that "next time I'll aim my fist at the dry wall" means that the boy that hit someone knows it was naughty and that he should never do that again because WE DO NOT HIT!!  DO YOU HEAR ME?!?!  WE DO NOT HIT!!.....oh sorry.....ahem....yes, hitting is wrong.  :) 
You got some better fucking advice for me??  Bring it!  :)

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Grass Fed Family Diet Transition....

One more time....let me climb up onto this soapbox and have my say....
Wait.  Am I prepared?  Let me go through my patient please.
Knowledge - Check
Opinion - Check
Support - Check
Confidence - Check
Wine - Check, Check, Check
Notes --- wait, I don't have notes...this is a fly by the seat of my pants infomercial.

My family and I have sllloowwwlllyyy, but surely, been creeping our way into the more organic, more healthy foods.  I suppose it actually STARTED when we decided to breastfeed all of our children as a way to save both money and trips to the pediatrician.  But, we didn't move much further on the "health kick" until much more recently.  I think about 4 years ago, as a stay at home mom with 2 kids, I realized that the snacks and foods I was putting into my children directly related to their moods and health.  I was chugging along, thinking that I was doing it all "right" when I realized that snacks in my house included: gummies, pop tarts, rice krispie treats, and other artificially sugar filled foods!  SCREECH!!
WTF was I thinking?!?!  If I could go back, I would bitch slap my own ass for my less than healthy SHITTY way of thinking.
As soon as I realized how fucked up my thought process was by actually giving into the demands of my then 7 and 1 year old at the grocery store, I started cracking down.  Not just on the kids, but on the family as a whole.  By God, I was going to make sure MY KIDS had baby teeth to lose rather than have them rot out of their heads.  I was going to have kids that were hopped up on natural fructose instead of High Fructose Corn Syrup (which is, by the way, applying to the government to have its name changed to "Corn Sugar" to make it sound better).  From that day forward, I vowed that fruits and fresh veggies would be filling our cupboards and shelves instead.  And I did just that.  (OK, with the VERY occasional sugar snack....I have to have good bribing tools for certain chores!)  I felt good about that choice.
We lived that way for another few months before I started what I call the "SNACK TRAY" in our house.  It is a tray of simple, healthy foods that is available from 11AM on in the house.  I usually fill it with fresh fruits, cheeses, veggies, breads, and meats for the kids to munch on all day instead of me getting up and down a GAZILLION times a day to get snacks for them.  (Ugh, I was spending probably 60% of my day in the fucking kitchen debating snack choices.)  Now, I simply make up the "Snack Tray" and when the whines and whimpers of "Mom, I'm huuunnnggrryy" start inching in, I direct them to the "Snack Tray" and continue whatever I was doing!  What a God-send this idea has been!!
A couple of years ago, I started re-evaluating some of the foods that I was purchasing at our local grocery store.  The one thing that hit my radar as a SIMPLE, but EASY change was: Eggs.  Changing to Cage Free Chicken Eggs seemed like a good idea.  After a few more weeks, I re-evaluated and decided to take it a step further and purchased local, Cage Free, Vegetarian Fed Brown Chicken Eggs.  No one noticed the change, but I did!  So, while I was spending a bit more cash for the little brown eggs that "seemed" no different to the family, I was thrilled with the satisfaction that I was getting from feeding my family a "better" food...oh, and I was helping to keep those ugly ass chickens out of those cramped prison cell cages, which no life should have to endure no matter how ugly.  :)
Again, I waited a bit longer and did some more research, and decided to start slowly replacing our ground beef with ground chicken and ground turkey.  A small step, but a good one!  At first I didn't tell the kids that I was swapping and they were a little suspicious because the taste wasn't exactly the same, but in just a few weeks they were enjoying it and even started asking what I did differently because dinner tasted BETTER!  YAY!  So now, I don't buy any ground beef and I am happy to see a little less red meat in our diet.
This brings us to the current change that my family and I are making.  After MUCH research by my husband and a little encouragement, we are officially making the change to local, grass fed livestock foods.  The cheeses are now raw milk cheeses, the eggs are the same type but are super local, and the meats are fresh and not from animals that have been mistreated or fed hormones or other artificial products.  The animals that we get our food from are kept outside, they eat what God intended for them to eat...grass products, and they live happier, less stressful lives which in turn produces a better food product in the end.
Yes, it is more expensive and we are very lucky to be able to make this choice for our family, but what it really means is prioritizing our food choices for our family over other things that cost money.  And with a child that has an Autism Spectrum Disorder, we feel that feeding him foods that are free of the extra artificial products can only be helpful in keeping his body healthy which helps his brain better deal with the day to day struggles that he has!  Please feel free to read more on Autism Spectrum Disorder Diets here.
So, while I am completely on board this crazy train of healthy eating and fair, humane treatment of animals (no matter how damn ugly they are or how much they stink), don't think that my family and I don't enjoy an occasional fast food meal or frozen chicken nuggets and french fries from the freezer.  In my opinion, it is not about a 100% change, but more of a nice balance of the products we put into our body.  It would be an unrealistic expectation for me to think my family would ever eat ONLY these wonderful items on the Grass Fed Diet that I have been speaking about.  Hell no.  I would be kidding killing myself if I didn't have my coffee, wine, and Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream!!  :-)  So, with that being said...I am looking forward to my raw milk cheese and wine tonight before dinner!!  Hee Hee!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Post It Note Tuesday

That One Mom

...more to come as the day wears on my nerves...