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*!