Monday, December 27, 2010

Dodging Dinner!

When it comes to big family dinners, like Christmas dinner for example, my new policy is to dodge as many as possible!  Poor Austin does not like it.  Too many people, too much noise and not enough room for all that action going on around him.  He becomes stimulated and upset.  For years and years I would take him to my Dad's place and he would "misbehave" (or so I thought at the time) like crazy!  He would be doing laps around the kitchen and living room, jumping on the couch, shouting, sitting upside down (to hide his face from people) ... I could go on and on.  I couldn't figure out why he behaved this way.  A lot of the kids ran around playing but I didn't feel it was appropriate for my children.  I used to be so stressed and used to feel that my Dad must think I am a terrible parent.  My son is spoiled!  Not so, but I felt like everyone thought I was a bad parent.  It was a horrible feeling.  :(

Once Austin was diagnosed, we realized that it was all the people and noise that was making him act out of control.  He could not verbalize it at the time but he can now.  He is doing so much better at family functions but I have modified our visits to accommodate Austin's needs.  It works very well and he is happy, the most important thing to me.

This Christmas we told everyone that we would not be attending any dinners because of Austin.  Expecting him to sit and behave (which we now know is impossible when he is anywhere too long) is just not fair to him.  So, I went on visits alone with Austin (leaving Kaleigh with Daddy) and Daddy also went on visits with Austin (while I stayed with Kaleigh) for only an hour or so.  All the visits went quite well and we had a quiet Christmas dinner at home with just my in-laws.  Austin had a great day, even greeting people with a handshake at one get together. :)  Keeping his visits short and without his little sister (for now) is working well for us.  He is doing better all the time and I know in the future we will all be at a table somewhere having turkey and popping open Christmas crackers.  Until then, I am enjoying spending as much time with Austin as possible and seeing him laugh and play, all on Christmas Day!  :) 

*HUGS* to all!  I hope you all had a lovely Christmas!  :)

Up next, a time warp post!  :)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sitting 'N' Swimming

An update on how Austin is doing with his swimming lessons.  We decided to put Austin in private sessions.  He is doing GREAT!  (The instructor is wonderful, and of course, aware of Austin's diagnosis.)  He is doing so much better one on one!  He has gotten so much out of just four 1/2 hour classes.  It will still take a while for him to learn, but a goal that can be, and I believe will be, achieved!  YAY Austin!  Well done buddy!  :)

Now, what am I doing while Austin is swimming?  I am sitting, yes, sitting on the side of the pool with the rest of the parents.  I am really enjoying watching my son learn to swim.  It is so much better than pacing around the deck.  I no longer look like the "swimming pool stalker"! LOL!  I am sure the other parents appreciate that this Mommie is no longer blocking their view ... ;)

Wishing you all the best for your holidays and hope Santa is good to all of you!  :) *HUGS*

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Completely Content :)

When Austin was around 10 months old, he was sitting on the floor playing by himself.  My mother just happened to be over that day and said "I have never seen a baby so content to play all alone like that."  I remember stopping and turning my head towards Austin and looking at him, with his toys, playing and smiling.  I didn't think anything was wrong by the way he was playing.  Although, the fact that my mother had been around a lot of children and had said this, should have made my hair stand up on my neck like a startled porcupine!  (It does today when I look back.)  Of course, I told her, which was the truth, I rarely played with Austin because my mother in-law would give me a hard time.  She would say, he was happy playing alone and to leave him be, over and over again.  (You see, her son, my husband, was a needy baby to her.  She always had to play with him, it made him happy.  Funny how children can be that way! lol!)  I blamed myself when Austin's social skills started to be questioned later on and I figured if I had played with him more, he would have interacted better with other children.  I sobbed telling Austin's first speech therapist this one day.  It was tough.  I really thought it was all my fault.

I think of my mother saying what she did to me that day.  I can still see the look on her face, just like it was yesterday.  It will never go away.  I didn't pay the attention I should have then, even though I thought it was an odd thing for her to say.  I was a first time mother, and of course, I dismissed things easily.  Right Tink? ;)

Stay tuned, more time warp posts to come!  *HUGS*

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

"Dance with me Mommie!"

Since Austin was an infant, he has always loved it when I danced with him.  Most people rock their babies or walk them up and down the hallway (some of my family members used to do this with Austin as a newborn ... for hours!).  I found that holding him and playing music softly or singing to him lightly, while dancing with him, really settled him down.  Could not explain it at the time, but it worked!   The "dancing lullaby"! ;)

I have always LOVED dance and used to study when I was young.  I believe everyone is born with a passion in life.  What they are meant, or were put here to do, mine is dance.  Nothing gave me such happiness until I had my children.  I am very blessed. :)

When Austin was a newborn, I used to put on music and dance around ... he LOVED it!  So one day, I picked him up, put on a ballad and waltzed around the house with him, he fell asleep!  When we were at Christmas (the first year he was born, he was only 5 months old), we wanted to settle him to put him to sleep.  He was a bit fussier than normal ... all the people maybe or he may have just been played out.  (I figure it was too stimulating for him looking back now.)  So I took him upstairs in a quiet and dark room and sang to him (Mickey Gilly's "Stand By Me" if you can believe that!) and swayed back and forth slowly ... low and behold ... he settled almost right away and went to sleep.  This worked for months and months when he was little.  It was my little "sleeping spell".  It was so sweet to see him that content and calm.  :)

To this day, Austin LOVES to dance!  He wants me to pick him up and dance around with him.  Uhhh, he is very big but sometimes I do pick him up for a few minutes and dance around the house.  He really thinks it is fun!  I miss that time so much when he was little and I could hold him and dance around as he fell asleep ... it is wonderful to just sit and think about it though.  They grow and change so fast, I am glad I took the time to appreciate the little treasure I was given and can smile at the memory of my little baby boy, happy, secure and asleep in my arms ... what a gift ...  :)


Conquering Craft

I just got some GREAT news today.  Apparently, Austin is doing so well during craft at school, they have decided that he will not need any written or picture directions.  This is WONDERFUL!  He has struggled with this since last year.  The reason behind it could be because he is sleeping longer and better at night.  I believe that the sleep he is getting is helping him focus better.  So HAPPY and PROUD of Austin!  GOOD JOB LOVEY!  :) 

Stay tuned ... the time warp post is coming up next!


Thursday, December 2, 2010

"The Cat in the Hat": My Little Guy Knows All About That

I had to post this story.  Yesterday, it was rainy here, not very nice at all for December 1st.  Anyway, Austin LOVES to read.  One of his favourite books is "The Cat in the Hat".  He has this book on his iPad (a generous gift from my Father ... thanks again Dad ox) and reads it all the time.  He pretty much knows it by heart.  I could hear him reciting it yesterday but he was doing it as it is depicted in the book!  He had Kaleigh sitting next to him at the window, looking out together at the rain and reciting the lines from the book verbatim!  It was like watching "The Cat in the Hat" book come to life.  :)  It was so cute!

Just wanted to share a little story that made me smile and I hope it will do the same for you!  *HUGS*

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"The Car Seat Crib"

Okay, I promised some stories from when Austin was younger, so I decided to start at the earliest when I felt something was a little different.  Austin, for the first few months of his life, slept, if not in my arms, in his car seat, or what I like to call it, "The Car Seat Crib".  We had a beautiful "useless" crib because the only place Austin seemed to be happy and sleep all night, was in that infant car seat.  Funny how people said "if that where he sleeps, let him".  Even as a new Mother, I thought that it was odd.  Other people had approached me and told me they knew parents who had kids who only slept in their car seat for 5 months!  WOW!  I figured, well, I am overreacting, what do I know? ... groan ... isn't hindsight wonderful?

The first few weeks after being born, my mother in-law would come over during the night (she lives very close by ... hehe) and hold Austin the whole night while he slept.  My Mother was FURIOUS!  She would be the only one who could get Austin to sleep in his basinet.  I still have no idea how she did it ... she laid him down like she was placing a feather ... anyway, she was totally against holding a baby at sleepy time.  Nice to have a Mother and a Mother in-law on opposites sides of how to deal with a newborn baby, all the while, recovering from surgery and trying to breastfeed a constantly hungry 11 pound baby!  Wait, where was I?  Oh yes, the "crib" ... sorry, those weeks were very traumatic.  It was a CRAZY house for sure!

We let Austin sleep in that car seat for almost 5 months ... I would strap him in just in case so he wouldn't roll out or possibly fall out during the night, I was nervous about it.  I would have it tilted slightly up just in case of spitting up.  I would place the car seat right next to me on the floor (I was on the couch) so I could have my hand on it all the time.  (Sounds crazy now, I know but I was a little overbearing ... be quiet Maven! lol)  Needless to say, once we transferred him to his crib, he slept in it just fine.  (I also put him in my bed with me to sleep.  What did I know?)  He transitioned well ... I still haven't been able to figure that part out.  It is strange.  I think about it now, and wonder, why did I just let him sleep in the seat?  Well, because some people told me it was okay.  I didn't know enough to fight back or stand up for myself being a first time Mom, very out of character for me I can assure you (again Maven, try to resist ...  LOL!).

Why did Austin like that car seat so much?  I get it now.  It is because he felt secure.  Snuggled, cuddly, enclosed, safe and happy!  He is still the same.  He loves to be all curled up or snuggled.  He was flagged at preschool for sleeping at nap time folded in half.  (Sitting position, with his upper body folded on top of his legs.)  I have no idea how he could be comfortable but he does this less and less since I bought him a duvet and fleece sheets.  He sleeps in a regular bunk bed, and so well, that he can be in the same position waking up as when he feel asleep.

People ask or post about "What symptoms did you see first?".  To me, this should have been something that really stood out but since other people told me they had heard about it before, I didn't worry too much about it.  Just goes to show, what you really see when you look back in time.   *HUGS*

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Unnecessary Interview Intimidation

Whew!  I am relieved.  I went to Austin's parent-teacher-teacher interview this morning, it was so unnecessary to be intimidated by the 2 to 1 ratio. (I can be, at times, a very silly girl.  It is part of my charm ... lol.)  All in all, it went well.  I didn't even need one tissue!  WOW!  Big change from last year!  He has progressed very well in some areas.  EXCELLENT news!  :)

There are other things that have developed, new issues.  He plays with other children but he needs to work on his skills.  He does not respect space, lacks the ability to read body language (this is slowly getting better) and now thinks it is a good idea to kiss his classmates!  (He licks his little sister's face and makes her furious, he finds this quite amusing ... sigh ...)  As we get over hurdles, new ones pop up and I am proud to say, I am taking it in stride with a lot of support and understanding from friends and family!  Thanks everyone!  I appreciate and love you all!  :)

The OT will come in next week and we will see how to proceed.  I am optimistic, now more than ever, since Austin is doing really well and he continues to change everyday.  I am very PROUD of him. 

I intend to do some posts regarding Austin's behaviour as a toddler.  I think these past stories, although hard to revisit, may help and I hope they do.  Happy Thanksgiving to all in the USA!  :)  *HUGS*

P.S.  My son was named after a great man, we miss him today ... wishing he was here.  <3

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Diagnosis: Disclosure vs. Discretion

There are positives and negatives with everything right?  Well, when dealing with your child being diagnosed on the spectrum, how do you tell people?  Do you use the utmost discretion or disclose the diagnosis left right and center?  Is there a happy medium?  Let's hope so.

After receiving Austin's diagnosis, my husband did not want to tell anyone that didn't really need to know, including his family.  I did not agree with him in the slightest.  I was angry at him and thought if people knew about Austin (since he was quite hard to diagnose and he is such a cute, sweet boy) maybe they wouldn't feel so badly about having their children assessed, if need be.  I have learned, some people just don't want their child to be labelled.  It is almost like "autism" is a dirty word or something.  People don't get it.  That is why I thought Austin could help put a face to PDD-NOS.  The spectrum, as you all well know, is vast.  I am starting to see my husband's side more and more in recent days, shhhhh ... don't tell him.  ;)

So, disclosure has its good points and bad points like anything.  Positives, people knowing that my child has a diagnosis helps explain his quirky behaviors and speech.  They would understand more when I say "we cannot come to dinner, it is too late for Austin" or "it's just too much".  Hopefully, people would be more patient and understanding ... hopefully.  Negatives, when I tell someone, maybe another Mother at a park or playdate, it's the look of pity or sorrow that crosses their faces and the "I am so sorry" shows that they don't get it (that is not their fault though).  This is just who my son is ... he is a very bright and loving child ... I am SUPER LUCKY!  They don't see that ... now telling another Mother who has a child on the spectrum is different, they encourage you, not pity you.  They feel for you because they are aware of the challenges but they know, they love their baby the same way you do ... unconditionally.  I never get the "pity" feeling from them, they "get it".  Another huge negative for me ... BULLIES!  Yes, I said BULLIES!  My son is a bully magnet (I will not get too deep into this right now) and it seems disclosing his diagnosis makes him even more of a target.  I am struggling with this a lot lately.  I have a very dear friend who is going through hell.  I really feel for her.  Anyone ever see the bully scene in "The Hand that Rocks the Cradle"?  Honestly, it makes me furious to see my son being bullied!  I think disclosure adds to this problem.  I hope that I am wrong.

Discretion, well let's see.  Positives, I can stay right here in my little comfy closet.  I mean, no one said I have to out my child, right?  It is nice in here, no explaining or funny looks because you never have to say "autism".  Everyone else stays in the dark and everything remains the same.  People don't need to know why your son does 700 laps around the Christmas dinner table ... blame it on the chocolate I say!  The problem here is that, when other people have spectrum children, they already know or they suspect.  I do it myself because now I know.  Negatives, people don't know and think the child is spoiled, out of control or the parents need a Super Nanny intervention ... STAT!  Also, the danger factor, I have to remind someone looking after Austin not to let go of his hand because he could pop into traffic.  When people know about his diagnosis, they seem to be more aware.  I had a neighbour let go of him one day and I just happened to turn around (Mother's intuition, swear, something I just felt and turned) and there he was in the middle of the street!  (This happened at a street yard sale, the number of cars, I cannot even tell you.)  Thank God I turned when I did and ran and grabbed him.  A man started yelling at him as I picked him up and ran.  "Why did you walk right in the street, you are going to get killed!", he yelled at Austin.  I hate to tell you what I wanted to yell back at him!  The neighbour does not know of his diagnosis and maybe would have taken me more seriously when I said "Don't let go of him if you take him with you, I mean it, don't let go!".  She felt badly ... I felt WORSE!  I could only think "what ifs" for hours and days to follow!

Well, this is a personal choice for sure.  I think I am more in the middle than I have ever been.  Mainly, the bully factor is the biggest thing for me and I don't want people to pity my son.  On the other hand, I hope that people who I do meet and disclose the diagnosis to, might know someone who needs help.  They may say, "Austin is on the spectrum and look at how far he has come in such a short time.  This is not the end of the world".  I just want to help.  These children need it no matter how you go about it.  *HUGS* to all.

P.S.  This post is just for you F.G.  Sorry you were postless for a few days.  ;) ox

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Aerobic Yoga

How does yoga class turn into an aerobic one?  Let Austin join! 

Yesterday I picked Austin up from school and his teacher informed he that all he did during yoga class was jump, spin, move around and not stick with the program.  You see, yesterday morning, I thought, he had not slept enough so I should really keep him home but I did not, he wanted to go to school.  Somedays I just don't listen to that little voice when I know it will go badly if I do not.  I warned the teachers that he was tired and it could end up being a trying day for them.  They did not seem concerned ... at 8:40 a.m.! 

When Austin is tired he is less focussed and becomes more active.  When he has to do an activity like yoga, tiredness is most certainly a factor.  He is stimulated by this normally (I have decided to contact his OT again and bring her into help, maybe she has a way to calm him down).  (I have also changed his swimming class to private lessons for 8 weeks and then will keep him in a limited class instead.)  I realize that he cannot help being more stimulated than other children in these environments, so I must adjust it to suit him better.

This post may discourage some of you, sometimes I am discouraged but quickly turn around and try to figure out how I can help the situation.  It is still not easy, I get that.  I am new to this journey too but as I have said before, you have to celebrate the positives and address the challenges.  Sometimes it hurts my heart that I cannot wave a magic wand and change everything for my sweet boy, but I know if I keep working and helping him, it will in time.

*HUGS* to all.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Parent-Teacher-Teacher Interview

I have to go in for a parent-teacher interview in about two weeks at Austin's preschool, only mine is going to be a parent-teacher-teacher one!

The other day I double checked my interview time and noticed Austin's name was on both teachers' lists.  The procedure is that one teacher sees half of the students' parents and the other teacher sees the other half.  I was confused when I saw Austin's name on both lists so I asked "Am I meeting with both of you?"  "Yes, because of Austin's situation, we feel that's best ..." said the first teacher.  "Is that a problem?" asked the other teacher.  "Uh, no, I suppose not ..." was my reply ... secret "groan" inside.

I cannot tell you how much anxiety I am having over this interview.  At first, I was not worried at all compared to last year.  Last year was very, very tough.  I started to sob half way through my 15 minute interview and continued to cry all the way home.  Parents watched me leave the school overwhelmed ...   Now, I thought, this year has to be better right?  Right?  Now there will be two teachers with negative and/or positive things to say ... probably both, but two of them?!  Really?  God I hope I am up for this ... my husband tells me not to worry.  I can become very emotional (crying) when it comes to Austin.  I am hoping there will be less tears this year since he is doing better but as you know, it is tough to hear the negative stuff.  Part of me wanted to chicken out and send my husband instead, but then I thought, well, just think of it like going for tea ... two lumps for me please!  :S

Wish me luck everyone!  *HUGS*!

No Fretting the Filling!

Today I took Austin to the dentist to get his teeth cleaned and a very small cavity filled (so small in fact, no local was even needed!).  Everything went very well, although I had anticipated the worst.

We arrived and were only sitting in the waiting room for a few minutes (less than five) when they called us to come back.  The dentist was waiting for Austin and told him to hop into the chair.  Austin sat down and the dentist started to talk to him.  He asked him questions about Halloween, directed him to open his mouth and explained what he was doing as he went along (minus the drilling part, he used the term "tickling his tooth").  Austin followed the instructions very well and we were out of there in under 20 minutes!  It went great!  I was so happy and proud of Austin.  There was a lot of praise from the dentist.  He told Austin that he was an awesome patient and let him have a special treat from his treasure chest.  Austin picked a clown nose ... LOL!  He had a lot of fun with it.

I found this dentist when I was in my late teens.  I have never regretted leaving my old dentist (he was truly horrible!) and this just proved my instincts right.  This man and his staff are so GREAT when dealing with kids.  They want all kids to have a pleasant experience.  Wonderful I think!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Shopping Strategically

Shopping with Austin can be a challenge, not so much now as a year ago but you still need a game plan.  I have found something that works wonderfully when taking him with me to shop.  (He loves to go everywhere with me and must behave or he will be left at home the next time, something he dreads!  He really enjoys running errands and always wants to tag along.  I felt the same way about my Dad ... I just love my Dad!)  I am going to tell you my method for shopping with Austin, maybe it may work for one of you.

Yesterday, Austin and I headed out to Walmart and left Kaleigh with Grandma (my husband's Mother). We go to get in the truck and Austin asked me if I have any coins for him so he can buy his lemonade when we arrive at the store.  (This is my strategy, let him have something small he really likes and wants and he is more likely to listen and behave.)  I told him "yes" and when we arrived, I walked him over to the vending machine and he got his drink.  He sat in the cart (the large section mind you ... lol) and held his lemonade.  He waited patiently while I shopped and asked once or twice when he could open his drink.  When I was about half way through shopping, I told him he could have his drink but to take it slow, he listened very well.  After he finished half of his drink, he wanted out to walk beside me.  No problem (I know what you are thinking, all that sugar, this will be a disaster, nope).  He got out and walked with me as I shopped.

We are almost finished shopping when he decides he wants back in the cart to finish his drink (I don't let him walk around and drink, he must sit).  Back in he got, finished his drink and got back out.  He followed me kind of lightly skipping.  I kept an eye on him, he was fine.  Two older ladies stopped and smiled at him (he is a very adorable boy with GREAT hair, people LOVE his hair).  He grabbed me and said "Mommie why are those old ladies smiling at me?"  (I had to giggle because he said "old".)  I told him not to say "old" they are "older" and they are smiling because they think he is cute.  He recently decided he doesn't like it when he is called "cute" and says "I am not cute, I am cool!"  LOL!  He would have never smiled back or acknowledged this situation just a  few months ago.  Not a lot of smiling people then ... amazing how much can change in such a short time.

We finished our shopping trip and off we went home.  Whenever we leave a store, Austin says to me "I'm proud of you Mom!"  (I always tell him I am proud of him when he does well shopping.)  I guess he figures I deserve the same praise ... when I behave myself!  LOL!

*HUGS* to all!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Preschool Praise

I just picked Austin up from his preschool.  What a wonderful report I got today.  His teacher (who is very supportive of him, very lucky for us) came up to me to tell me how well Austin is doing.  He read, yes read, a book at school, she witnessed it.  (He reads a lot at home.)  She continued to tell me that there are many good things happening with Austin ... "sigh" ... :)  I am so HAPPY and PROUD!  :)  She did tell me that he still gets a little excited with "certain" and "new" things, but well, we cannot change everything at once, now can we?  Just the fact that she was smiling and impressed with his progress, shows that there is hope, hope for Austin and hope for other children on the spectrum too.

Last year, when I used to pick up Austin at the same school, things were very different.  This was pre-diagnosis and what a nightmare!  Everyday I walked in, I had no idea what they would say to me.  I would leave in tears ... not that they were mean or anything, it was just stressful to constantly hear negative things.  It is their job though and I prefer it, than someone not telling me, for I cannot change what I don't know.  It was a very tough year.  :(  The good news, this year is very, very different.  A lot of positives, and yes, occasionally he has a bad day but they are so few now that they are barely noticeable in the grand scheme of things.  He is doing so well and it is nice to be greeted by a smiling boy and a smiling teacher!

Hang in there everyone!  If Austin can accomplish these successes, there is hope for all!  The times that I left the school in tears are a fading memory ... it is what I wish for all of you that have experienced this feeling too ... *HUGS*

P.S.  Becky - For you, thank you so much for sharing with me and supporting me too.  *HUGS*

Monday, November 1, 2010

Trick or Treat was Sweet!

Lastnight I took Austin Trick or Treating, it went very well.  Austin was 3 the last time he went and was easily spooked.  He didn't really get it and used to be really frightened of the dark and costumes, not really a good thing when it comes to of all things, Halloween!

Austin was dressed as "Woody" from Toy Story and wanted me to dress up as "Jessie" (I did).  His little sister was "Bullseye" (at the last minute, she wanted to wear her one piece horse costume from last year, I hate to tell you what it cost me on eBay to get that Bullseye costume ... discontinued and "new with tags", need I say more?), quite the trio.  My husband joined us and off we went.  We spent our time Trick or Treating in a neighbourhood just north of us.  (We never get any children where we live.)  Austin and Kaleigh did wonderfully.  They said "Trick or Treat" and "thank you" (well, Austin more than Kaleigh ... she needs prompting to say "thank you" because well, she's a diva ... Maven will agree with me ... a sassy diva at that!) and went house to house without incident.  Very proud Momma!

Just when things were running smoothly ... along came the spooky house!  Oh Lord!  What do I do?  We have to go through the garage, in the dark, wearing 3D glasses, under black light, to get the treat.  Austin was ready for it and excited to go ... he even headed in without us!  (This house had 34 carved pumpkins, all different characters.  The precision was awesome to say the least!)  So we get the glasses and in we go.  Do you think saying "Hail Marys" in a haunted house works? On Halloween no less?  (Just kidding ...)  We had to follow the neon orange arrows on the ground.  I had my arm around Austin the whole way and stayed next to the wall.  The walls were covered in neon hand prints, all different colours and the fabric strips were black (very hard to see).  There was a "body" laid out on the floor.  All of a sudden, out jumps a man camouflaged like the wall!  I SCREAMED ... then laughed my head off!  He really scared me!  Austin was screaming and laughing too ... then again another man jumped out ... it was GREAT!  I was screaming and laughing ... Austin too but he was ready to go ... he said "I want to go out now Mommie", we were at the end and out we popped!  He was happy and wanted to go again ... I said "no".  He got a little scared at the very end and my husband and I figured, lets' leave on a high note.  He had fun and I told him we would come back again next year.  (He still bugged me to go back as we finished Trick or Treating ... he said it was "so cool" and "fun" ... he said "he loved it"!  WOW!  I was so shocked and happy he liked it that much.)  Here I thought, it would be a disaster ... he seemed to get a real kick out of the man grabbing me ... I wonder if my husband felt the same way?  ;)

Kaleigh got tired and Daddy took her home.  Austin was ready for more so I took him to more houses.  (I LOVE Halloween!)  We stayed out for about another 25 minutes or so, we covered a lot of ground and I finally thought, he had had enough.  He was tired.  So we headed home.  He told me all the way back, how he loves Trick or Treating, the spooky house and me jumping in the air screaming from the man grabbing me.  I was so happy that he had fun.

I wasn't going to do another Halloween post but decided it could benefit someone out there that has a child who is scared or sensitive when it comes to Halloween.  Just look at my son, two years has made a huge difference.  There was only one house, out of all the houses we visited that he said "not this one Mommie" (in a really calm voice too).  Not that I blamed him, it was really dark and there were large flying skeleton bats from above, it was spooky, even to me.  So I figure, 1 out of 40 houses (approximately, I mean who can keep track really) and there was only one he did not want to approach.  I though that was AWESOME!  I had anticipated the possibility of a reaction like the child who gets spooked, drops his candy bag at the door and runs off screaming.  Pleasantly surprised to have gotten the opposite.  I hope you all had a safe and Happy Halloween!  *HUGS*!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Perception and the Pumpkin Patch

Today, Austin, Kaleigh, my father in-law and I all went to the annual preschool field trip to the pumpkin patch.  Last year was extremely hectic with both kids, so I decided this year, I was going to bring someone along to help.  Now, it went much better than last year but it still had its moments.

We drove up and met the class at the pumpkin patch.  When we first arrived Austin was very excited, jumping and spinning around.  He stops if you tell him to and I have to go over and explain to him that he must calm down.  He has been told if he gets too excited, we must leave, it works and he settles quite quickly.  We all gathered and had snack before heading out on the wagon ride to get our pumpkins.  Austin and Kaleigh sat quietly and ate their snack with children running and jumping around them and they didn't even leave their seats! WOO HOO!  One hurdle down without incident!  YAY!  (Last year, snack time at this event was a disaster!)

Next, time to leave to get our pumpkins.  I would say at least 30 people (parents and children combined) were on the wagon pulled by a tractor that does 5 km/hr ... :D (if I don't laugh, I'll cry!)  Now, all the children are anxiously awaiting the arrival at the pumpkin patch.  It takes a few minutes to ride out there.  Once we arrive, we are all in line to get off the wagon.  Keeping the kids in a orderly line is difficult to say the least with all the parents and commotion.  We head towards the front and we are next to get off when I notice a woman with two children standing beside the opening and no one has let her off yet.  I figured we would let her out since she has been waiting so patiently and it is the polite thing to do.  Before I can say "please go ahead" my father in-law tells Austin to wait and let the lady out with the kids.  No way Austin was willing to wait.  Good Lord ... here we go!  My father in-law tells him to stop again but he won't, I think he tried get him but he was not within reach.  I got a hold of Austin's arm and told him to "wait"!  "LET GO OF MY ARM!  LET GO OF MY ARM!  LET GO OF MY ARM!"  I responded, "I am not letting go."  The woman who we were letting out, just stood there staring at this display as did the entire wagon of people behind me.  I motioned her to go when Austin had stopped screaming ... she said "thank you".  We all filed behind and on our way we went to "happily" (well, some of us) get pumpkins.

Now, I would like to elaborate on the "perception" part of this post.  Not my perception or even yours (because I am sure many of you have been where I was standing just a few hours ago) but the people on the wagon, their perception of Austin screaming.  I have told him over and over not to react like this because someone could misperceive the situation.  I do not like to have to hold onto him or carry him anywhere if he is protesting because I am afraid someone will get the wrong impression.  I do not want someone to think he is being harmed when he is not.  It is really a scary thing to me.  These people behind me (except the teachers, they know because they have to deal with Austin like this too ... thank God someone understands what is going on) all stopped.  If my son is melting down and I am standing over him or cuddling him, no problem, he is not reactive.  The same cannot be said if I have to hold him when he is trying to get away, like today.  It affects me because I have no idea what people are thinking.  Do you get it?  I am sure you get it ...

The rest of the trip went very well and Austin had a blast ... he painted his pumpkin without mixing all the paint colours together!  YAY!  (Last year he made a little guy cry because he wouldn't stop mixing until all the colours were one and he had black ... he painted his whole pumpkin black ... oh my!  I stood there apologizing to this little boy's mother, who was very understanding, thank God!)  So this was a huge achievement for Austin.  He did GREAT!  He also ran through the corn maze (which I may add, made me a little nervous, so I tried to keep up to make sure he is okay) and found his way out all on his own ... he was so proud, so was I!  He was so happy!  :)

I guess I know that if 9 out of 10 things go well, I should be happy and usually I am but sometimes how other people perceive something really hits me where it hurts.  It is really heartbreaking when your son is yelling at you to let go and all you want to do is let him go but you can't ... what else are you to do, really?  I had to drop off Austin at school after the trip and the teacher patted my on the back, smiled at me (she "gets it") and held my arm as I walked away, just to reassure me ... "it's all good". 

There is a lot of positives that came out of today though ... Austin had so much fun and he even picked out a pumpkin for me (what a sweetie).  He came in and out of that maze like he had run it a 100 times, he responded when I started to count "1, 2 ..." and left without protest.  I like to focus on the good but we need to acknowledge our challenges too ...

I would like to thank someone dear to me (she knows who she is) for she picks me up when I need it and helps me along on this journey more than she will ever know ... thanks hon, what would I do without you?  You have helped pave the road I walk now, thank you ... I LOVE YOU!  *HUGS* everyone! 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Spooky Halloween Decorations: Outside = Good :) Inside = Bad :(

This is the first Halloween that Austin has really understood and talked at great lengths about this holiday.  Last year he came down with H1N1, so he was unable to go Trick or Treating, this did not phase him in the slightest.  Kaleigh went house to house with her Daddy collecting candy for Austin.  I thought it was a little strange at the time that he was not really upset, but I just figured, well "it must be because of the flu".  How wrong was I?  Very ...

This year is quite different.  Poor Austin is reactive and really understands Halloween now (good, he really gets it but bad, he really gets it, you know?).  Shopping for Halloween decorations a few weeks back, he froze and got scared.  A small aisle and all that spooky stuff, he was upset.  I had to hug him and help him cover his eyes so we could get to a "safe zone".  Lastnight I had to go back to the store to get more decorations for today.  (I wanted to surprise him when he got home from school, mission accomplished, just not in the way I was hoping for.)  He asked me to take him to the store to help pick out decorations, absolutely not!  Not after the last time ... he was so upset, I didn't want to put him through that again.  (We have some decorations in the house already and he likes them, so I just figured he was overwhelmed by too much all at once in the store.)  So I went alone.  He was okay about me leaving him behind ... eventually.

Today, I spent my morning decorating outside and inside the house.  It looked great!  (If I do say so myself.)  Anyway, we pulled into the driveway (home from school) and Austin LOVED it!  I was so happy!  Not only was he surprised but excited and happy!  I had the same decorations inside as I did outside.  Not too spooky, so I thought.  These decorations in the house had a terrible effect!  TERRIBLE!  Austin took one look and said "I don't think this is good inside" (something like that).  He proceeded to scream and cry out "take it away, take it down!!! ... put it outside!".  I tried to get them down but he kept looking at them and was very, very scared.  I got him into the other room and took them off the walls and into the garbage they went ... WOW!  I was not expecting that reaction.  I thought if he found it too much in the house (because of the store incident), he would tell me he didn't like it and I would just take them down.  (Kaleigh LOVED the decorations by the way ... sigh ...)  I guess I should have known better ... I feel terrible that he got so upset.  Poor Austin.  He calmed down and I gave him a cuddle and told him I was very sorry that he got upset, I only did it to surprise him not scare him.  (There are some other decorations still up ... toddler friendly ones, no monsters!)

Lesson learned, outside decorations to Austin are AWESOME!  The same ones inside are TERRIFYING!  I hope this Mommie Guilt subsides soon!  *HUGS* to all and have a HAPPY HALLOWEEN! 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

"Feed me like a baby!"

Now, as you know, children on the spectrum can be very picky eaters, Austin is one of them.  He used to eat everything, and I do mean, EVERYTHING!  At 18 months of age, his eating habits changed drastically.  He would only eat rice and pasta for the longest time.  I took him to the doctor (pre-diagnosis) and his advice was to "make it interesting" for him to eat.  Smiley face pancakes, star shaped sandwiches, etc., you get the picture.  So, I tried, no luck.  I started to give him multi-vitamins, he rejected those too.  He also liked milk and would eat yogurt but that was about it.  (I used to take my own snack to playgroup, yogurt, not that he would sit long enough to eat it.  Believe it or not, I did not find this strange back then.)  His limited diet was both frustrating and scary all at the same time.  (Austin has always been a big guy, 10 lbs 14 oz at birth and now at 5, just shy of 4 feet and 50 lbs, long and lean.)

I do have some encouraging news for all of you out there dealing with this predicament, Austin is eating and trying more foods than ever!  YAY!  He LOVES strawberries (the new addition to his diet), apples, bananas and blackberries.  I also give him V8 Fusion to drink, Peach & Mango is his favourite (veggies disguised very well), kudos for inventing that beverage!  :)  He also likes chicken nuggets, sheppard's pie, brown rice and of course, pasta.  Now, it may not seem like a lot of changes but trust me, it is!

I have recently found a way to get him to try pretty much anything.  One night I told him he must have spaghetti with sauce, he refused.  I told him he must try just one bite, he did.  The next time I made it he tried two bites.  This went on until we got to six bites in one sitting.  Then one night, he did not want to try it at all (he was very tired and just kind of cranky) so he said "Feed me like a baby!", so I did.  He ate the ENTIRE bowl of spaghetti with sauce.  I got him to eat tuna casserole the same way, and samples of other things too!  I intend to start trying mash potatoes and roast again (his favourite as an infant) and hopefully we can get him back on track, eventually (must be realistic, right?).  I wanted to share my kind of "off the wall" method with all of you as strange as it might seem, it works.  :)  Oh yes, a DQ cake in the freezer works as a good incentive for dessert also, periodically mind you ...  ;) 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

All Hands On Deck!

I take Austin to swimming lessons every Sunday morning.  He is just learning how to swim and boy is he eager!  I mean he thinks he could conquer the English Channel ... no kidding!  Anyway, he is in a small group of beginners, the other children are girls.  There was another boy in the class but he was terrified of the water and after 5 weeks of trying, his Mother finally took him out of the class, thank goodness!  I felt so badly for that little guy.  I expected that behaviour from Austin, but no, I got the total opposite (I am not complaining, just to clarify).  He can't wait to swim across that pool (it is a shallow pool, Austin is tall enough that he can walk across it)!

Austin's instructor is a young (extremely patient) woman.  She has four children in the class to keep track of during this 1/2 hour lesson.  Austin is a handful, to say the least.  Sometimes he gets excited once in the water and just wants to swim or float on his back.  The poor instructor "Austin hang onto the wall."  "Austin stay here."  "Austin wait your turn."  "Austin stand still."  "Austin hang onto the wall!!!"  Now, Austin staying at the wall and waiting is usually the toughest part for him.  I am allowed on deck, so I walk along the side of the pool (if he seems to be more excited than usual) and count "1, 2 ..." (if I get to 3, Austin loses his computer time, that is precious to him, "currency" I call it) and he listens.  He listened to me so well the other day, he wouldn't let go of the wall when his instructor asked him to at the end of the lesson.  She wanted to let him play "rocket blast off" one more time because he did a good job hanging on and waiting.  I started to laugh and told him it was okay, he could go with her and I wouldn't count.  I told him I was proud of him and loved him very much.  He did a great job!

I have to say, there are mornings when I pace around that deck watching the clock, counting the minutes like a woman with a First Response test!  It is only 30 minutes and it goes fast but somedays (there have only been a couple) where Austin needs me to be on that deck to keep him focussed.  People all stare at me like I am some overbearing stage Mother!  I just let them stare through me.  After 6 weeks of swimming, I am alone on that deck ... all the other parents sit and read their books (there are about 40 of them by the way), joke, laugh, relax and enjoy watching their kids learn to swim ... wait, what is blocking their way?  That's right, "it's me baby!".  The only parent on deck, helping my son learn to focus, wait his turn and listen to his teacher.  When it comes to swimming, Austin is doing AWESOME!  He can do anything the teacher asks and his evaluation is Sunday.  Daddy and Austin are going swimming for that class.  We will find out if he moves up to the next level.  It doesn't really matter, right now he is having fun, he is happy and I am dedicated to helping him succeed ... at anything and everything he wishes to accomplish ... my sweet boy. :)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Meltdown = Parents' Heartbreak

Meltdowns, wow, this is a tough subject.  Just last week Austin had a meltdown.  Not a violent, lash out meltdown, he cries.  He cries like someone has broken his heart, it is truly a sad thing to witness.  He cannot calm down, he must be hugged, cuddled and ... loved.  My sweet boy, he has captured and softened my heart.

The meltdown took place at the park.  What was the catalyst for this meltdown?  Well, we were there with Austin's little friend.  Austin did not want to slide down the slide right away, he was waiting and waiting.  So I told him "come on down or we will have to go home" (it was almost time to go and he was tired).  He was still sitting at the top of slide when his little friend pushed and pulled him down the slide, in a playful manner.  (His Mother told me later, he did this because he did not want Austin to have to go home if he did not slide down.)  At the bottom of the slide, Austin's face lowered and he started to sob.  I held and rocked him for about 10 minutes and tried to calm him.  Finally he said he wanted to go back to the slide but wanted me to carry him.  (He weighs 50 lbs and just 1 inch shy of 4 feet!  Big guy!)  I told him I would walk him there as he sniffled all the way.  He asked me to climb the structure with him, I did, he didn't.  He fell into full sobs.  "I can't calm down Mommie!  I can't calm down!"  Okay, we have to go.  "Austin we are leaving ... please go to the truck."  "NO MOMMIE NO!" (This comes out more like pleading than screaming, it is really, really, really tough to see him this way.)  I picked him up and carried him there (he does not resist, he just clings to me) put him down as he still pleaded for me not to take him home.  He must get in the truck himself, and he will, so I count, 1, 2 ... in he gets on his own, sobbing and pleading.  I am still very calm.  I collect Kaleigh and apologize to my friend and her son who is under the slide very upset by Austin's rejection.  I try to assure him, it is not his fault.  Austin is just upset and wants to be alone.  In the truck I get with Kaleigh and we head home.  Austin pleading and crying all the way home (not far though, just a few minutes).  I unlocked the door to the house and Kaleigh set out ahead of us.  Austin got out of the truck and said again "I cannot calm down Mommie, I CANNOT CALM DOWN ... cuddle me, CUDDLE ME PLEASE!"  That was it ... my heart broke into a billion pieces.  I dropped to my knees, held him, told him it was okay and proceeded to burst into tears myself.  I picked him up and carried him into the house.  Cuddling him for about 5 minutes, he finally calmed down.  I asked him, once I felt he was settled, "Austin, why did you get so upset?"  "I didn't want anyone to push me down the slide Mommie, I want to do it on my own."  "Okay Austin, I understand ... next time I will know, okay?"  "Okay Mommie ... I love you ..."  "I love you too Austin."

Even though this is a very tough story for me to write, and this kind of meltdown is new for Austin, there are also positives to this situation.  First, Austin is not aggressive and does not hit or lash out when upset.  Second, a few months ago, he would have been oblivious to this, very passive and never would have stood up for what he wanted.  Lastly, he would have never been able to express himself like this verbally.  Sometimes you have to go over a few hills before you can conquer a mountain.  *HUGS* to all.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What's harder than the diagnosis? Pre-dignosis!

Prior to Austin being diagnosed with PDD-NOS, going anywhere (when he was 2 to 4 years old) was to say the least, a challenge.  I went to the museum today with my friend, The Maven, her little guy (his Birthday outing ... Happy Birthday again buddy!) and my 2 1/2 year old daughter, Kaleigh.  Kaleigh was assessed after Austin's diagnosis (only as a precaution, we never felt anything was wrong) and was found to be a "typical" child, actually, "above the curve" the therapist said.  She is a doll by the way.  Anyway, Maven and I were talking about what going out with Austin was like at 2 1/2 ... my goodness!  She remembers it as well as I do.  Nike sent me a letter of appreciation for being one of their best customers ... EVER!  Run, bolt, you name it, he did it.  I chased and chased!  It was impossible to go to playgroup, Walmart, the grocery store, a family function and the playground.  He would always run somewhere or be stimulated by the environment.  I had no idea why he was like that, I just figured he was being a boy, not like any of the other boys but what did I know?  Everyone would look at me funny.  Say my kid wasn't "disciplined".  Tell him to "be good for you Mommy, don't give her such a hard time".  Any of this sound familiar?  People can be so harsh!  Poor Austin!  He was a pretty good sport for all the comments he had put to him, me too, but I am a stubborn redhead ... thank God!

Today, after I got home, I left Kaleigh with my husband and went to pick up Austin at school.  He had a good day!  YAY!  I then proceeded to take him to the grocery store and the movie store both without any incident at all.  Not so long ago, I would have never thought this was possible, but it is, and I am so happy for Austin that he has gotten to this point.  You see, it all takes time, they get there.  It was truly much more difficult when I didn't know what was going on, now that I know, it is much, much easier.  :)

By the way, Nike dropped has me from their "most frequent purchases' list".  A nice place to be.  ;)

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Diagnosis: "Bad News"

I see this a lot, when someone talks or writes about getting the diagnosis PDD-NOS, its "bad news".  I think it is so sad they feel that way ... shows how far I have come in such a short time.  In May, on that day the therapist told my husband and I that Austin had PDD-NOS, I burst into tears and cried so hard I covered my face to prevent anyone from seeing me that distraught.  The therapist put her papers down and said "what can I do to make this easier for you?", "this is not a bad thing, we can fix it, we can fix this".  I couldn't speak ... just shake my head side to side ... devastated.  My husband tried to comfort me, there was none to be had.  In shock, I came home, found Austin, and held him as I sobbed and sobbed.  I felt so sorry for him, for his future ... for the unknown.  Why my little boy?  Why him?  How did this happen?  Austin giggled initially as I cried, it made him nervous to see me like this so I  tried very hard to stop.  I wiped away my tears and cuddled him ... my baby, still my baby, whom I adore and would give the beating heart from my chest if he needed it.  That will never, ever change.

For the next two weeks, I would just burst into tears spontaneously, especially if I was alone.  I was overwhelmed!  What now went through my head all the time was, "is my baby going to be okay?".  Well, he changes everyday.  Everyday something new comes from him.  His speech is getting better, his comprehension and his social skills.

I said I would give you hope, so here is a little story that I am sure will make you smile.  Austin and I went to leave the speech therapist's office the other day, there was a little girl waiting to come in the door, Austin initiated the conversation (which would have never happened even two months ago) and it went something like this:

Austin:  "Hi, what is your name?"
Girl:  "My name is Madeline."
Austin:  "My name is Austin ..."

The speech therapist and I were almost jumping for joy!  You'd think we were two tween girls who just won backstage passes to Justin Bieber or something!  Austin was still talking away to Madeline but I missed it because her Mother said, "your little boy is so polite!"  "Thank you", I replied to this obviously intelligent, well mannered and sensitive woman. ;)  My little boy, yes, he is: polite, sweet, adorable, funny, sensitive, cute as a button and, he is on the spectrum.  These are all things that make Austin what he is ... I am very blessed, very lucky to have been given such a treasure as he ... I promise that "bad news" feeling, will go away and one day you will wonder "why did I ever feel that way?".

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Away I go ...

Well, here I am, all alone, no one here but me.  I am a little nervous, my first post and everything, so please bear with me.  I wanted to start a blog to give people support, understanding, hope and (because I cannot change who I am) a bit of humour regarding life on the spectrum.  My son, Austin (then 4), was diagnosed on May 12, 2010, with PDD-NOS.  Even in a short time, he has come a long way.  I intend to write about experiences with Austin and hopefully help other people realize they are not alone.  That was one of the hardest things for me to get over but I realized, I am not alone, you are not alone ... I am here.  I am the woman you will see, when your child is melting down and everyone else is just looking and whispering, who will gently smile, say "it's okay" and help in anyway I can ... I have been there, I am there, I get it.