Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Spectrum of Happiness

The other day I came across this article defining in the best possible way what happiness is.

Sadly a few days later, this made news.

Just as with autism, there is a spectrum in how parents of special needs children are able to raise their children with happiness for who their child is.

I only wish Ms. Akhter could have seen Ms. Lawler's post. Or that the social services that were involved with Ms. Akhter had more resources, budget and time to help her.

Every parent should be able to find happiness with their children. There should be no Spectrum of Happiness when it comes to parenting. There should only be one spot - Happiness.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Reading vs. Educational TV

Here's a question for you all:

If my son is just not in the mood to read, is it OK for him to watch educational TV (History Channel, National Geographic Channel) instead?

The other day I told him to go watch something educational. I must have been completely out of my mind. But I was in the middle of something I couldn't stop and he was bored out of his mind. But then I got to thinking:

  • Well, obviously it's better than playing video games.
  • He's learning
  • He's visual - so he might even remember it better
  • He's learning something he may not be willing to read
  • Isn't some of the point of reading to learn about a topic of interest?

A week ago he was flipping thru the channels at bedtime and came across a special on Hitler. WWII has been slowly becoming an interest of his. He knows he'll be studying it this year at school. And earlier in the month we watched the movie "A Diary of Anne Frank". Earlier in the spring we watched "The Boy in Stripped Pajama's". He's asked questions about that particular time period since then. He wanted to stay up and watch the special. So we let him - he watched that one, and the Part II afterwards. And then talked about it quite a bit.

And not that he'll be allowed to watch educational TV vs reading, and I'm certainly not saying his education should come primarily from video, but, what's the value of watching a special on some aspect of history or science vs reading? And if that captures his interest even more and then he wants to read up further, isn't that better than saying go read for 20 minutes because the schools say you should?

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Excuse Me While I Whine For a Bit

Dear Body,

It's been just about 8 months now since you began tormenting me with this flare up. And yes, while medication is certainly helping me to crawl out of this, I'm still crawling. I think the light at the end of the tunnel is the sun, but sometimes it's a train instead still.

I try to look on the bright side of things. I really do. I'm not sleeping 12-16 hours a day. I'm not in immense pain everywhere to the point where a sheet covering me hurts. I can get by on 10 hours of sleep now. My body isn't in constant pain. But that's when I do the bare minimum. When I go for a jog or to the gym I'm beyond sore the day after. If I run 2 errands in a row I need to sit on the couch for an hour to regain my energy. Yesterday we went into the city for a fun family outing. And it was fun. And I slept for 3 hours as soon as we got home, and then another 10 at night. I have to space major outings to every other day so I can rest in between. Or that light becomes a train again.

But it's really hard to keep looking at this positively. My list of things I need to do and want to do is huge. Its summer time and I would love to have energy to do outings with my son. The one who is growing up so fast. The one who really prefers his friends to his parents. But there are those times during the day he still wants to hang with just me. But I'm too tired. Too tired to even stay awake and watch a movie with him. Too tired to take a walk outside. Too tired to do a science experiment with him. Because if I do, then it might push me over the edge and I won't even be awake later in the day when he really might need me. Or I'm so tired I do nothing but snap and have no patience. How do I explain to him he can't sit on the couch all day and do nothing when that's usually what he sees his mother doing? How many times should he have to hear "Not now, I'm too tired, maybe in a little bit." And that little bit doesn't arrive because then it's time to do something else that we have to do instead of want to do.

So, body, how about we come to a compromise. You give me some extra energy. And then in September when Adam is back in school I can finish the crawling out while he is in school. And it won't interfere with my ability to mother the way I'd like to. What do you say? Want to give it a try?

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Even Good Transitions Are Rough

Remember last week when I mentioned that hubby had recently come home from an out of the country trip and to use your imagination on why I hadn't posted? You were all thinking wine, food, rest, relaxation kind of busy, weren't ya? Get your heads out of the gutters you silly readers!

We were busy transitioning Adam to having Dad back. For 6 weeks (and then a week before that he was also gone for a week) I had been so busy getting him ready for life without Dad.

We made a calendar to mark down the days until his return, but also highlighting activities I had planned to keep us busy. That was put on our fridge to see daily.

We had talks about what routines would be the same, and how Dad being gone would affect other routines.

Adam and Dad picked out stuffed animals – a big and little penguin. Dad took Adam's Little Penguin with him and took pictures of him throughout his trip. This allowed Adam to see where Dad slept, worked, and other places he came across on his journey. Adam took care of Big Penguin and we took pictures of our adventures to share with Dad about what we were up too. This allowed them a conversation starter when they were able to Google Talk each other. Instead of 'what did you do today Adam?' and having the standard 'nothing' reply, Dad was able to say 'I saw the picture of Big Penguin – tell me about your outing'.

Adam and Big Penguin excavating gems.

I made sure to keep things consistent. His teacher and principal knew Dad was Out Of The Country and kept an extra eye on him as well.

And for 6 weeks all was Going Well. Any issues we had were issues we would have had if Dad was here too. I was actually very surprised by how easy it was!

And we got SOOO excited the closer to the day Dad came home.

But I forgot to get him ready for it. It was a happy moment. It was a joyous moment. And within an hour of Dad's return it was meltdown after meltdown after meltdown. For about 4 days. I kicked myself big time. How could I have forgotten that with Autism Spectrum transitions – the rough ones as well as the GOOD ones – were difficult?!?

So, yea. We were busy. Busy dealing with a happy transition that came back to bite me. But no worries. Seems we'll get to practice this long trip thing again. And you'd better believe I'll be getting ready for the transition of Dad leaving AND Dad returning this time.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Wow – what a busy start to the summer it's been!

  • Last week Hubby came home from 6 weeks out of the country. Enough said on that – use your imagination on why I haven't been on last week J
  • I got my test results from the BCBA Exam - I passed – WOOT!! Another acronym to go after my name!! But seriously – I know really have the proper credentials to help individuals and their families on the autism spectrum (as well as other conditions involving inappropriate behavior) to become successful in social and communication areas.
  • I quit the county schools (again) and will be working as a private BCBA and (keep fingers crossed) adjunct at a local university starting this fall!!
  • I will be co-writing Fairfax Macaroni Kids with the wonderful Elena!! The weekly newsletter comes out on Thursdays – hope you'll enjoy reading what we put together each week!
  • PuttingTogetherPuzzlePieces is off to a slow start, but I'm hoping to really focus a lot of writing over there this summer after last week's busy week. Still in the nitty gritty of what it all is, diagnosisng, etc, but soon will be focusing on strategies to aid in behavior successes.
  • I went back to work part-time (Camp director for Social Skills camp) – and survived. Did a lot of resting, but no napping J
  • The Adapted TKD class I co-teach started a new class at a 2nd studio this past weekend!!
  • The lovely Jessica provided me passes for the screening of Despicable Me. It was our first Daddy-is-back-home-let's-do-something-as-a family-event. And it was wonderful. The movie is great, and I'm glad to see critics are agreeing. I do caution younger kids seeing this – let's face it – our main character is a villain and wants to keep that status, he doesn't always do the nicest things. However, laugh, and laugh hard you will. And as my son stated the movie is 'pleasantly heartwarming' at the end. A huge thanks to Jessica for the tickets!!

I'm actually looking forward to a quiet week this week!!

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