Saturday, November 29, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
She LOOKS cute and innocent.
But already this morning she has broke a Baby Einstein dvd in half, spilled 2 cups of juice on the carpet, and broke the head off of the wise man. Yesterday she broke Joseph's arm off.
Olivia turns 2 in 10 days... I think she is just practising up.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
I have been telling you all about what we are going through with Aiden and his Asperger's (potential) diagnosis. This takes up a HUGE amount of emotional energy in my heart and mental energy in my mind. I think about it constantly. How is he doing? How can we make his life easier, better, less stressful for him? How can I help him function at school? How can I explain to others how amazing he is so that they see past his "issues" to the wonderful kid that he is?
I have been doing a ton of research into Asperger's syndrome lately and recently I came across a wonderful site that really helped me. You can find it HERE.
A couple people have asked me what exactly Asperger's is and so I will give you an explanation I found on that site. If you are already familiar with it than you can just skip this part:
"Asperger Syndrome is a type of autism, and autism is a neurological disorder that affects the way a person interacts with others and his or her world. It’s not a mental illness, and it is not caused by weak parenting. In its more severe forms, it’s a disorder because it causes disorder in the life of the child. In its milder forms, it is more of a marked difference from the norm. In our culture, which judges people on the way they interact with others, these disorder-differences can have a profound impact on a person’s life.
You’ve probably heard the parents complaining about the difficulties they’ve had with the child in the home - obsessive behavior, irrational outbursts, wild fears, and irritability over the smallest issues. These problems are not misbehaviors, but rather the child’s responses to an inability to comprehend what is going on around them and inside them. Some experts have called it a “mind blindness,” one that causes the person to stumble and bump into complex social situations that they can’t “see.”
Yet by effectively “blinding” the mind to certain aspects of daily life, Asperger Syndrome enables the child’s mind to focus in a way that most of us are incapable of. They feel their feelings more intensely, experience texture, temperature and taste more powerfully, and think their thoughts more single-mindedly. In many ways, this ability to focus is the great gift of Asperger Syndrome, and is the reason why a great number people with Asperger Syndrome have become gifted scientists, artists and musicians.
It is as if the Asperger brain is born speaking a different language. It can learn our language through careful instruction or self-instruction, but it will always retain its accent. While Asperger adults go on to successful careers and interesting lives, they will always be considered unusual people."
There is an entire section dedicated to answering other peoples questions about what is going on in the family of an Asperger's kid. One question in particular spoke to me because I am constantly tired and I KNOW people wonder why.
Here is the question and answer from the site:
"The child’s mother looks exhausted all the time. Could that be a cause?
It’s more likely an effect. Consider what her life is like: she has to constantly monitor what is going on regarding her Asperger child, thwart anything that might trigger a meltdown, predict the child’s reactions in all situations and respond immediately, look for opportunities to teach the child social behavior without creating a scene, and so on - every minute, every day. So it’s not surprising that she doesn’t feel like sitting down for a cup of tea with you and making small talk!
The truth is that the majority of mothers of Asperger children struggle with depression. While the special services she will receive over the next few years should help in some ways, she will still be the one to deal with the day-to-day difficulties of raising an unusual child. For many mothers, this means ceaseless work, often to the exclusion of their own needs. Their physical, mental and emotional exhaustion can have a profound effect on the health and happiness of the entire family.
For this reason, mothers of Asperger children need those closest to them to give their full, unconditional support, both in words and in action."
Honestly reading this made me cry. It is so true. It was like a lightbulb went on in my head- of COURSE that is why I am tired! Of COURSE that is why I struggle with depression! And LOOK!!! It's NOT JUST ME!!!
We recently were talking to a lovely lady who is pregnant with her third child, due next week. In the course of our conversation she told us that her unborn baby is missing half his/her arm from the elbow down. My heart constricted for her. She is concerned about how other people will treat her child... just like I am concerned with how other people treat Aiden. Different issues, same emotions.
As I was thinking about our conversation later I almost wished Aiden's difficulties were physical instead of mental/emotional. Not that either is easy but sometimes I feel like people are too hard on Aiden BECAUSE he LOOKS normal. They question whether or not he has a legitimate reason to act the way he does. If he were in a wheelchair people would not ask him to walk up a flight of stairs or jump rope. They would make concessions for his physical limitations. But since they can't SEE Aiden's limitations they assume he should behave just like all the other kids. And he gets in trouble when he can't.
My second son, Owen, is big for his age. He is tall, he is broad chested, he is just solid. He is almost the same height as Aiden and they have been wearing the same sizes of clothes and shoes for the past 2 years. Owen has ALWAYS been big. When he was two people thought he was four. When he was in preschool people thought he was the oldest kid there when in reality he was the youngest. He has always been the youngest kid in his class (or nearly). But people expect him to do the things an older child would do.
Owen is a pretty good kid and really doesn't cause much trouble but he has learned some fairly undesirable behaviour patterns from his older brother. He looks the same age as Aiden and people often ask if they are twins. They are only 17 months apart but a year and a half is a big difference when you are 5. Sometimes Doug and I have to remind ourselves not to expect more than we should from Owen.
We don't know how to stop Owen from emulating Aiden's behaviour. It's what siblings do. The younger ones copy the older one. How do we communicate to Owen that we don't want him to do what Aiden does? How can it possibly seem fair that we make (necessary) concessions for Aiden that we don't do for Owen?
Owen has spent 5 years watching Aiden throw tantrums, refuse to eat, hit when he is upset, yell at us and at himself etc. Owen has been hit, kicked, teased, chased, taunted, and harassed by Aiden for years. Aiden regularly tries (and often succeeds) to convince Owen that Owen's toys are actually his. Aiden wakes Owen up EVERY SINGLE MORNING.
And yet Owen ADORES Aiden. On the days when Aiden is at school and Owen is home he misses him like crazy. He runs to the door to meet Aiden and says "Aiden will you play with me?" only to be turned down because Aiden has no understanding of emotionally hurting another person. Aiden only cares/understands that he is tired from his long day at school and wants to be on his own for awhile.
Owen is crushed regularly by Aiden.
And sure, Owen has started fighting back but it really doesn't get him anywhere. Why? Because Owen doesn't really WANT to fight Aiden. He just wants to be best friends.
Don't get me wrong, Aiden loves Owen too. They ARE best friends. And often they play beautifully together. But Owen often gets the short end of the stick.
Over the past couple weeks we have been trying to figure out what the boys want for Christmas. Aiden is incredibly easy to buy for because he is obsessed with Lego. He is passionate about Lego. If you give him Lego he will ALWAYS be happy. And he is very concise about what he wants.
Owen is not so easy. Owen has spent the last 5 years being told (by Aiden) what to like, how to play, what it is ok to be/say/do/ etc. If Aiden doesn't like something Owen has he tells him it is stupid. Owen gets hurt by that and then gives up what he likes because he doesn't want Aiden to think he is stupid. The result is that Owen really isn't too sure WHAT he likes.
Owen is a wonderfully compassionate kid. When the World Vision commercials come on he looks at the starving babies in Africa and he asks me why God doesn't give them food. He offers the money in his piggy bank (all 23 cents) to buy food for them. He tells me that they can come to our house and share our food. He WANTS to feed those babies.
Aiden is unfazed by those commercials.
Owen sees Aiden upset and WANTS to make him feel better. Aiden pushes him away.
I try hard not to cry in front of the kids because of COURSE it freaks them out. But yesterday I just couldn't help it. Both boys were concerned but Owen was concerned for HOURS. He would look me straight in the eye to make sure I was ok.
I have these three fake flowers that the boys have given me over the past couple years. I keep them on my desk. This is a conversation I have regularly:
Owen: Mom, can I borrow your flower?
me: yes, you can.
Owen: close your eyes, don't peek!
Owen: I have a surprise for you mommy! Open your eyes!
(I open my eyes and he hands me my fake flower)
me: Owen, it's beautiful (sniff non-smelling flower), I LOVE it! (kiss Owen on the forehead). Should I put it in my spot?
Owen: yep! I love you mommy. (gives me huge hug)
Seriously, we have this conversation at least once a day. He is just a sweet little boy.
Aiden is sweet too. He has moments where he tells me he loves me. He is a snuggler sometimes and wants to snuggle on my lap. He often asks me to snuggle on the couch with him. When the mood strikes him it is golden.
I just don't know how to explain to this incredibly compassionate little boy what is "wrong" with his older brother.
Aiden is in a "social skills" class at school. The point of the class is to teach things like taking turns and sharing and listening and dealing with feelings. It is supposed to "promote positive social behaviour".
Last week I had the opportunity to spend lunch hour with Aiden. In the playground Aiden was trying to join in on some running/rough housing games with some of the other kids. It all went ok until one of the boys ran into Aiden. This was a normal part of the game but Aiden didn't get it and turned around and punched the kid. Aiden just does NOT get play fighting. He WANTS to participate but he always ends up hurting someone else or taking something personally etc. When I stopped Aiden from hitting the other kid he immediately wanted to run home and AWAY from there. It takes so little to freak him out.
Aiden was not the only child displaying "undesirable" behaviour. Other kids were pushing, stealing kid's hats, being "naughty"... Aiden is just the loudest and the one who is most likely to run away because it really freaks him out. I don't know how to make the playground safer for his emotional well being.
Anyway, this is really long now... sorry. But that is only the teeniest tiniest part of what has been bogging down my brain lately.
Don't you wish I had just posted another giveaway instead? :)
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I LOVE the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty. I think it is brilliant. It is a message all women and girls need to hear.
What is the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty? Here is a brief explanation from the website:
Too many girls and young women develop low self-esteem from hang-ups about looks and consequently fail to reach their full potential in later life. The Dove Self-Esteem Fund (DSEF) was established as an agent of change to inspire and educate girls and young women about a wider definition of beauty. The DSEF is committed to help girls build positive self-esteem and a healthy body image, with a goal of reaching 5 million girls globally by 2010. It has already reached 2 million young women.
The Dove Self-Esteem Fund is part of the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, a global effort designed to widen today’s stereotypical view of beauty. In the U.S., the DSEF supports the Boys and Girls Club of America and the Girls Scouts of the USA to help build confidence in girls 8-17 with after-school programs, self-esteem building events and educational resources. In the United Kingdom and other countries, the Fund supports Body Talk, an educational program about body image and self-esteem in schools. Since 2006, the Dove brand has conducted nearly 2,700 self-esteem educational workshops around the world.
You can visit www.campaignforrealbeauty.com to download free self-esteem building tools for girls, moms and mentors including: - True You and Mirror, Mirror booklets - Interactive exercises -Workshop Facilitator Guide DVD You can also visit http://www.rocketxl/dsef/assets/ where you can find the following awesome videos...
And my personal favourite- it actually brought tears to my eyes:
As that last video says- Talk to your daughter before the beauty industry does!
Both of my sons love Poingo! Aiden took it to school for show and tell and when I went to pick him up half his class (grade one) crowded around us asking to play with it! Honestly those kids loved it.
And the best part? It is AFFORDABLE!!! You can get the starter pack (Poingo and two books plus the USB cable to connect to your home computer) for about $35 and individual books for about $10. Not bad! It is easy to add more books too- you buy the book, download the interactive content and you are good to go. Poingo has 256 megabytes of internal memory and can store up to 50 books at one time! Tired of noisy toys? Don't worry, Poingo is equipped with a headphone jack!
Monday, November 24, 2008
The boys are getting ultra excited about Christmas but Owen can't seem to grasp the concept that he has to WAIT to get presents until Christmas day. He is most unimpressed :) The trials of being 5. I am thinking we will decorate the house later this week when the boys are off school- they have a four day weekend coming up. I think Olivia will get a kick out of all the decorations this year.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Awesome bed head in the making...
My husband and kids bought me lovely flowers this week...
Sometimes you just need to see a beautiful flower... even when the world is covered in snow!
I had a dreadful experience Christmas shopping today. My husband and my three kids and myself visited our the local Bargain shop and after spending awhile dodging the piles of stock in boxes stacked in aisles shopping my 5 year old son Owen informed me he had to go to the bathroom.
We approached the 3 sales clerks who were standing at the cash register chatting with each other instead of putting stock away and we were informed that it is their policy NOT to allow customers to use the bathroom. They suggested I take my son home to go pee.
The store is located at the end of our main street, not in some mall with public washrooms. So our options were limited to traipsing up and down main street in search of another bathroom in below freezing weather or go home.
So I did what I had to do, we abandoned our cart full of Christmas goodies and went home. Luckily Owen was able to hold it and we made it home without any accidents.
Maybe where you live it is common practise to not allow customers to use the bathrooms but I've NEVER had that happen to me in the almost 7 years I've been a parent. Seriously. Who looks at a child doing the pee pee dance and says "no, you can't use our bathroom" ????
I found it not only rude to tell me to take my child home but a seriously dumb business move. You think I will take my kids shopping there again? Not a chance. I have three kids ages 6 and under... someone ALWAYS has to go to the bathroom when we are out.
So to you Bargain Shop... bad manners and bad policy I say.
We will just have to find somewhere a little more family friendly to shop next time.
Friday, November 21, 2008
It was written about my son.
Ok... actually it was written about kid's with Asperger's syndrome (Autism spectrum) but it was like they were talking about Aiden personally.
There is something truly amazing about being understood.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
But I am finally organized.
I think it might even have been worth it.
Ok, so I'm not ENTIRELY organized but my desk space (which happens to be in the corner of the living room) is organized.
The crazy thing is that after moving almost every single piece of furniture around in the entire living room... in the end? Only my desk is in a different spot... and the NEW spot is only about a foot different than the OLD spot.
But I washed baseboards.
And I did all my piled up filing.
And my daughter dumped an entire container of fruity cheerios all over my freshly vacuumed floor.
And I went to the school and listened to kids read for an hour and I enjoyed it.
And I cleaned the kitchen. But it is dirty again now.
And I talked on the phone to my dear friend Nancy whom I have known for 15 years. I love her. It sucks to have my friends scattered across the country! But thank God for cheap long distance! Remember when it used to cost $ 20 for a 5 minute phone call??
My baby turns 2 in 2ish weeks. TWO!!!! I don't think I'm ready for her to be two yet.
Owen has had a fever for the past two days... except when the tylenol is working. But tylenol makes him hyper. So I tried Advil. It also makes him hyper. So does Motrin. So tonight we are tying Triaminic. So far so good.
Aiden had a pretty decent day today I think. He liked me visiting his class but it was a good thing I did it at the very end of the day... he would've freaked out if I had left before he did. I filled out an "Asperger's evaluation form" today for him. His teacher will do one as well. Then the Educational Psychologist will do whatever it is she does and then I guess we get a quasi-diagnosis.
Aiden has his first appointment with the occuapational therapist on monday. Then the pediatrician on tuesday. I don't think I realized how many appointments special needs kids have. I wonder if they get sick of it. I wonder if it bothers Aiden to miss school. I wonder if he realizes he is different. Or if he does realize it ... does he care? I don't know.
Aiden and Owen fought like mad things this afternoon. I seriously considered tossing them both in a snowbank. Luckily for them I was too tired from moving couches around.
At one point Olivia put a step stool in front of the TV and stood on it... the boys were SOOOO mad that she was standing right in front of their show. Owen kept saying "Olivia Joy... get down from there" in his best imitation of me. Aiden just kept poking her in the back until she got annoyed and started crying. She didn't move though. Tough chick. Of course then he just picked her up and dropped her unceremoniously on the floor which she found most annoying. Ah the joy of being the youngest.
Ok. It is past midnight. I must sleep. Night.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Aiden had psychological testing done today at school.
They told us he scored "high average" on his IQ test.
They also confirmed that he has sensory issues and that he could very well fit in the Asperger's syndrome "category".
We still haven't gotten in to see the Pediatrician. I'm hoping to actually TALK to the man tomorrow. Aiden's tic has gone away (THANK YOU GOD!). It really scared me. Tic is just not a big enough word for what was happening to my baby. His whole little mouth and nose and face would twitch every few seconds. It was darn scary.
His fever and headache has gone away too. He is presently sleeping nicely. So far the withdrawal has not been too bad. He is super hyper but he hasn't been real angry yet which is a wonderful blessing.
He really is a wonderful kid.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
This has been a bit of a rough weekend because that discovery channel commercial totally made me tear up.
ya. emotions are just fabulous.
Anyway, Aiden's life has managed to get a little more difficult for him. He developed a freaky facial tic as a side effect of one of the meds that he is on. His whole mouth and jaw and nose would twitch noticeably. Scary. So we took him to the doctor and the doctor took him off of ALL of his meds. So now we get to do withdrawal.
He is just bouncing off the walls today. But it is SO not his fault.
I wasn't sure about putting him on the second med (concerta) and now I know why. The moral of the story? Mommy should listen to her gut and acknowledge God trying to tell her something no matter how many other voices say it's no big deal.
I suspect we will go back on the first med (respiridone) once Aiden's system has cleared out. He was doing really well on that one. The 2nd one seemed to be helping too- sometimes. But mostly it sucked. So we won't do that again.
The tic has mostly gone away which I am so grateful for. Thank God.
But as cheesy as it is I am so darn thankful for all blessings in my life right now. Including my great kids... and the whole world too.