Sunday, October 28, 2012

Guest Post: Our Life With Autism by Parenting-the Puzzle

 Today's post comes from Rae, over on Parenting-the Puzzle.

Thank you, Rae for sharing your story with us. and I love you, too ;)

 A message from Rae: First, I would like to say Thank You to Homestyle Mama for asking me to guest post on her blog.  It is quite an honor. She is an amazing mother and friend and I can not thank her enough for some of the support she has given to me. I love this woman very much.

Our life with Autism

Now let me introduce myself, my name is Rae and I am from Parenting-the Puzzle. I am 32 years old, I have a 14 year old son, Joshua, diagnosed with Encephalapothy, Severe Autism, and Epilepsy; and a 10 year old daughter diagnosed with Goldenhar Syndrome, ADHD, shows some traits of ASD ( no official diagnosis, just traits).

I have learned a lot about ASD over the years. When Joshua was born we always knew something wasn't right.  He didn't have good muscle tone, never made good eye contact, didn't babble, goo and ga like other babies. which is what initially led to us seeing a neurologist when he was 4 months old.  As if it isn't scary enough being a teen mom right?? 

So once we got the referral from the pediatrician, we go see the neurologist and start going through all the tests, MRI's , blood work, all that good stuff. The blood test show nothing abnormal, but the MRI comes back and that's when we are called to go into the neurologist office for a meeting. Not an appointment, a meeting, right away I knew it didn't come back normal. [They said] the MRI showed Joshua's brain didn't develop completely, he was missing a decent chunk on the right side so a cyst formed in the area to fill the void, that he didn't have as much gray matter as he should and that his brain could retrain itself to do what the part that was missing should do. Our feelings ,[were] shock, horror, fear, what was going to be of our little baby boy?? Would he walk, would he run, would he talk...??? A million things running through our minds and being 17 yrs old didn't help.

So after the shock wore off, I went to work doing research day in and day out.  Working with Joshua every waking  minute I could. Having doctors tell me they just don't know what will happen, we even had one doctor tell us "Well, he will never read Shakespeare." Really??  What a jerk, huh?? Yeah, I think so too. We never went back to that guy, needless to say. 

Then we hit the toddler years and he still isn't walking , still isn't talking, no eye contact.  By this time we are told he is developmentally delayed with Autistic tendencies. Happy boy for the most part, though, always laughing and smiling. I remember trying to be soooo very patient trying to get him to eat. He just wouldn't eat food. Only wanted a bottle. With time and persistence we finally got him eating but that boy refused to give up that bottle. 

Joshua started early childhood at 3 and he had to start in a wheelchair.  I hated that, and swore to everyone that he would NOT stay in that chair.  My boy would walk. Two years later I got pregnant with his sister and it was like a miracle Joshua just started walking, he knew momma couldn't lift him in that condition and I'll be damned if he didn't just walk.  It was amazing.  Then sister comes along, well this boy refused for anything to be on the couch- pillows, blankets, whatever it was got thrown in the floor EXCEPT his little baby sister who would be in her boppy on the couch.  That was the exact moment I realized not to listen to everything the doctors had to say.  This boy was not dumb and he really knew what was going on.

Back then no one really knew much about autism.  I studied and researched what I could and kept telling the doctors I think it is more than just tendencies but it took a very long time to get the official DX.  We finally got the official diagnosis of Severe Autism when he was 10.

Joshua has made a lot of improvements over the years and I have learned a lot too.  People still tend to underestimate him and what he is capable of. Some in my own family just think he is flat out dumb. Well I am here to tell you he is and always has been smarter than anyone gives him credit for. No he doesn't talk, he doesn't participate in academics at school. The focus is daily living skills.  Yes, Joshua is still in diapers, but this boy is smart in his own way and he has qualities some people will never know. He loves in a way I never knew possible. He doesn't hate, he doesn't pass judgement. He still has major sensory issues, he refuses to wear anything but cotton sweatpants, still doesn't eat right. Yes, Joshua has me wrapped around his finger and knows it.  He figures Mom is going to do it for me so why should I do it myself?  I am no expert, I do not know everything there is to know about Autism. I will say I sure do know just about everything that has to do with MY son's autism but as all us ASD parents know, there are no two alike.

Joshua is now 14 and after years and years of therapy he has come a long way.  He will drink from a cup, he will now feed himself, it's the little things that count with my boy.  He is now hitting puberty and oh, is this a fun time, as if he didn't have enough problems already, as if the meltdowns weren't bad enough already, now his body is changing and he has feelings he just doesn't know how to react to but this just like every other obstacle we will get through it.

So my advice to all new ASD parents would be,  listen to the doctors to an extent. They don't know everything. You know your child best.  I have found the best advice I have gotten has not been from a
doctor or a therapist but from other ASD parents.  Find support in them, lean on them. Know that you are not alone in grieving for the life you wanted for your child. It is not the life you had planned but it is your life now.  So it may not be what everyone else's normal is but I promise it will get easier and your child will make progress. This is your new normal. 

I still grieve for the life I wanted for my boy, I still get saddened by the fact that my husband doesn't get to coach our son's football/baseball/ or whatever sport he may have been into. He does however finally get play catch with Joshua. I just recently had one of those days where I seen all my friends and family posting photos of their children of the same age going to their first homecoming, I grieved for Joshua, I grieved for myself because that is something we will never experience. I went to my friends and I found support, empathy, understanding and most importantly love.  So find other parents, if there are none in your area go to the internet.

I am here to tell you it will be okay. You will be okay, your child will most definitely be okay. How do I know that? Well, I know that because as long as you love them with everything you have they will be just fine.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Goofy's moving out.

That's the big news of the day, not too much different from yesterday (or the day before?) except this time, he's not moving next door and I am not invited.

It all started this morning...

***insert flashback music and the wavy transition scene***

Walter and Goofy are home from school today, for some reason there's no school today. I'm sure the reason being that the school hates me and not even they want to deal with my sweet babies. So, no school. on a school day.

Walter gets up earlier than I want him up and wakes up the little one. They are going back and forth in their usual usualness which is putting me on edge as I'm trying to enjoy my usual usualness and really, really annoying me with the noise and bickering until I cry- ENOUGH!

Boys, let me tell you what. These mornings are mine to do with as I please and I don't even care. School or no school, you are. not. going to ruin my time. you- go clean your room, you- go clean your room and I don't want to hear another word out of either one of you until that clock hits 11am.

This, of course, makes me the meanest mommy ever because I'm supposed to like my kids and that's not even fair. why should they have to clean their rooms? Oh, honey, I can add to that list if you aren't happy with it...

So, Goofy's not living with me anymore. He wants his own rules so he's going to get his own house and I can't even come. he doesn't need me, he'll find his own lunch. AND, he's not even kissing me. not even ever. He is going to live with his brother because I am a jerk.

So I did the only thing a mother in this position can do... I offered to help him pack. to which the answer was crossed arms, raised chin, a harrumph and flouncing off to clean his room.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Series of Unfortunate Events

I found out Tuesday that Goofy doesn't qualify for an educational diagnosis or an IEP which made Tuesday night kind of rough for me, since I was doing so much pouting and plotting and not so much what I was supposed to be doing, I overslept Wednesday morning.
In oversleeping, Alex missed his bus which meant I would have to take him to school so I let him sleep until the Goofy one was gone.
Since I wasn't totally with it, still half asleep, I forgot to feed Goofy and he didn't remind me until we were on our way out the door. I grabbed a cheese sandwich and a glass of milk, took my coffee and headed for the bus stop.
With my hands being full of my coffee and his breakfast stuff, and being busy making sure Goofy ate his food instead of playing around, I didn't realize I was still holding his backpack when the bus pulled away.
So, I said whatever, no use crying over spilled milk. I threw his backpack in the front seat of my car along with Alex's backpack and the library bag and started thinking about the best way to do this to stretch what little gas I had as far as possible as well as getting everything I needed to do done in the amount of time we had to do it with the least amount of effort. Efficiency, man.
I put Alex's cereal and cup of milk in the compartment between the back seats, made sure there was a toy in the pouch on the door. I had my coffee and phone in my cup holders, back packs lined up in the order they were being used. Set. Organized. Planned. I'm totally rocking my screw up.
Get Alex ready and toss him into his seat- here we go!
I thought it would be best to take Goofy's backpack to him- 60 seconds away, then drop Alex off- 7 minutes away and then go to the library- 10 minutes away. Makes sense, right?
Except I did not factor autism in.
Alex was not happy with not being able to visit his Regular Elementary friends and threw himself down in the office surprising the people around him so that I pretty much tossed Goofy's backpack at the Secretary, told her what it was for and dragged my kid back out the door. 
So when he threw himself around in his Special School's office, I didn't bother waiting for someone to meet us and took him to class myself, which because of his behavior, I have been asked not to do.
Sounds like such a small thing to ask for, right? being able to walk your kid to class? So simple. HA! Then you get the note home that your boy was aggressive and grabby and pulled some poor girl's hair- multiple times and hit his teacher in the face.
So, I'm sitting there with Alex, taking his shoes off and I start a deceptively casual conversation. "So, I hear you were bad in school today. Were you bad in school today?" The boy looks at me- direct. eye. contact. with this eager/expectant look on his face and nods his head yeah. Man, how do you even deal with that!? It's like when he kicked his sister. Do you congratulate him on his mad skilz or hollar at him for bad behavior? "Good kicking, buddy!" or "No. you don't kick.", "That's good talking to me!" or "Damnit, boy! KAHFOOTY!"? So I dropped it and shooed him off to bed.
This morning, I was sitting there putting his shoes on and I can't be sure he remembers what happened yesterday but I'm darned sure going to tell him about it. I say, "Alex, remember yesterday when you pulled your friend's hair (they didn't give me a name to use) and hit your teacher?" He laughs. Laughs at my assumption he remembers or laughs because that was some funny shit? "No. I'm not laughing." I point my mom finger and say, "You need to keep your hands to yourself. You don't hit your friends and you don't hit your teachers. You use nice hands. and you need to be a good boy today." So, he holds my hand like he's going to be all nice and lovey and suck up-y, leans over like he's going to rock at me and sticks my finger in his mouth. Alex-2, Mom-0.
These kids, man. I tell you, they are going to drive me mad before it's over. but, at least it won't be a boring ride.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Two roads diverged...

Decisions are not easy to make are they? Especially when this isn't a path you can come back to explore another day, when you're playing for keeps. Right now I have a decision to make- stop working with Goofy at home or work even harder.

The day I dropped off the formal written request for evaluation, I came home and posted a status that all I had done was drop it off with the school and by the time I got home I was pissed off and looking for a fight, in the mood to say f*ck it! If you don't want to give him an IEP, YOU deal with him and good luck with that.

Then, when the IEP was denied yesterday, I cracked a joke, a half joke, in my frustration and being so sure that the Team's decision was wrong. I said that in my mood, I was tempted to declare my job done and over with and kick back with a beer to enjoy the show. I'm wondering if maybe that's not actually the right path.

Not, as it was earlier, a childish FU to the school because they didn't give me the answer *I* wanted, but because only one of us can be right. Either he needs help or he doesn't. If he needs help, he won't get it until someone else sees that he needs help. If he doesn't need help, why am I busting my butt to help him? Either way, me doing whatever I can, myself... not working. Work smarter, not harder. If it's not broken, don't fix it. and all that. right? Either way, no matter which one of us is right, I'm not doing the boy any favors continuing the path we're on. Doing the same things over and over expecting different results... not gonna happen.

On the other hand, there is no question the boy has issues. He has a 504, the only thing listed in the 504 being an aide, which I was told yesterday he no longer needs. According to the pamphlet the lovely school psychologist handed me, in the 504 he can get:
  • extended time on tests
  • a peer note taker
  • close seating
  • written directions (I asked for written directions and was told no!!!!)
  • assignment notebook
  • use of computer for assignments
  • use of a calculator
  • study guides
  • access to school programs
  • access to extracurricular activities
Are you kidding me? Is that list for real? My one child without school supports gets most of that (awesome school, remember?). I'm going to do a little checking into this 504 thing but I already know (because they said so) that he will not get the one thing he without a doubt, really needs- Occupational Therapy. I don't have the list in front of me so I couldn't even begin to tell you what she said but I can tell you, I was surprised with the amount of sensory issues he does have and his fine motor skills, as we expected, suck.

Which brings me to the other side of the gamble... If his ADHD really does not interfere with his ability to learn and I let him go to fly or fall on his own, he won't be getting the help he needs. I can look at getting OT outside of school, not sure if he can actually get it, but the only times I'll be able to take him are during school hours. I can't take both him and Alex.

There are other problems that aren't going to be glaringly obvious until first, second grade when those skills are needed- reading, writing and such. I know this answer isn't the end of it, we will be going back but it's going to take time for these issues to be more of an issue.

Not easy to decide which road to take, see? I think I'm going to sit here and think it through before making a decision and I'm not going to worry about it. It's Kindergarten. Yes, it's the foundation of his education, but as my friend Bec pointed out, it's also just the beginning of our journey.

So, today, I am going to get Alex ready for school, we will take Goofy's backpack to school, I will take Alex to school and then I'm going to the library. I will clean the house and read my book and take my time in deciding where to go from here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I can't believe I shaved my legs for this.

Ok, so, what can I even say? I'm disappointed, for sure. let down. what's new, right? Did I really expect something different? Yes. yes, I did. Sad, but true.
***editor's note: the following is a dramatization of events,
not intended to depict a factual account***

I can't really tell you what happened in that meeting. Not because I can't but because I don't really know. We were going along and I thought I knew where we were going and then all of a sudden... we ended up in Egypt. Still don't know how in the hell we got there.

There are some concerns, but not enough to warrant an educational diagnosis. which means no IEP. There are some serious concerns in the areas of sensory and fine motor, but they can't do anything about that without an educational diagnosis. But, maybe they can work some things into class even though he can't qualify for OT without the educational diagnosis (here, let me hold this chair for you, *devilish grin*).

I can handle the whole eh, some parts may look like autism but it's more likely ADHD, what I'm having a hard time with is the whole ooooh, yeah. boy's got problems, good luck with that.

On one hand I want to be all... Oooooh, he's normal? Sweet! my job is done. and then grab a beer, kick back, put my feet up and watch the show. Then on the other, I don't want to be the failure mommy so I want to be all, fine. I'll just do it my-freakin-self. Right now, fresh out of the meeting, tears dried, where I'm still all- fuck it! whatever. I don't even care... I'm thinking I'll go with option 1. it sure does sound like more fun, doesn't it? Now, back to Alex.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Suffering from autism?

I started reading this article, Child with Bedwetting, and Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) helped with Chiropractic, and didn't get past this sentence before I was just done reading it.

 "They also report that it is estimated that approximately 1 and 110 children in the United States suffer from ASD, and it is found to be more common among boys than in girls."

Never mind that the numbers have changed from 1/110 to 1/88 since this article came out, or that the title makes absolutely no sense, the part that caught my attention was "suffer from ASD".

Now, I am speaking for my own son, and don't think I don't know that we have gotten pretty damned lucky with the boy we have. He is sweet, affectionate, even tempered and all around a joy for me.

I do understand that not all kids with autism are this easy. well, "easy" compared to, ya know. He's still a flight risk, he still paints his room at midnight so I have to wake the entire house cleaning the crap up, he still pinches and hits and pulls hair and throws things and has crying jags that I can't for the life of me figure out what's causing them. He's still non-verbal, not potty trained in the least little bit and feeds himself with the style and finesse of a 9 month old. He still splashes in the dish water then puts his soapy fingers in his mouth and would eat out of the trash if he got a chance but I'm telling you right now, the boy isn't suffering.

He's perfectly happy with himself and loves his life.

He's content on his own,
doing what he wants to do.
He's happy to be with family.
He is loved, he is celebrated
and he loves in return.

Sure doesn't look like he's suffering to me.
For Alex, autism is not a disease, it's not an illness, it's not something he suffers from, not something that needs to be cured, it's a way of life. It's his life. Who are "they" to tell him his life is wrong or not worth living? Who are "they" to tell him there is something wrong with him?
I'm not saying that you shouldn't want to cure your child, I'm not saying you should love the autism, I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with grieving the dreams that were, I am definitely not saying that autism is a blessing of any kind, or that it's wrong to wish for normal- because oh, man, do I understand that one. What I am saying is that there's not a thing wrong with my boy and I sure wish people would stop trying to convince him that there is.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Just do it.

Big D decided to go visit Thing1 last night so we got my brother to watch the Wild Things so that I could go with him. On the way there, Big D was telling me about this awesome opportunity he had. His contact from MADD wants him to speak at an upcoming event but he's not sure he wants to do that. He's nervous, afraid of messing up in front of all of those people. He doesn't know how good he is, he doesn't seem to realize that his amazing ability to talk to people is one of the first things I fell in love with so I told him how I spent my day, well, in between running herd on a bunch of hooligans.

I don't do guest posts very often, well, actually, I've only done 2 ever because I am terrified of submitting crappy posts, and in my opinion, both guest posts were crappy posts. I don't want to get their hopes up thinking they are going to get something spectacular and then hand over something that isn't worth wiping your tushy with. The blogger's version of stage fright, I guess. Recently, I was contacted by the people who put together Easy to Love But Hard to Raise wanting to do a guest post on my blog. I haven't read the book yet, but I hear great things and I know it's something that you all would enjoy, something you would be interested in so, I said yes. I love sharing guest posts on my blog for things I think you might like or find interesting or helpful.

But then they said they wanted me to submit an essay for their new book. Me. The one who can't write for others. I read their e-mail on what they are looking for and suggested material and had absolutely nothing to say. Words were gone, which is crazy for me because lines of typed print are constantly running through my head. always. I never have nothing to say but here we are- blank. So, I send back a "Thanks, I would love to but, no thanks. I wouldn't even know where to start." She doesn't leave it at that, she e-mails me back with a list of questions that I can turn into an essay. and still, nothing. blank.

That in combination with a few posts on my own blog that I didn't feel were up to what I was capable of and a few comments from a few people in my life, had me all messed up. Confidence shot. If I can't write for others, what makes me think that what I post on my own blog is worth reading? My content quality starts sliding downhill fast, I stop posting as often as I was and in this time, I make the mistake of watching my numbers. Yes, I know better than to watch my numbers or care what they say, especially when I'm slacking on the writing but I do. and it's not good. I see the numbers as a reflection of what I'm offering, as a representation of who I am. the numbers are telling me that more and more, day by day, I'm sucking. majorly. I know the problem is my content and I'm not sure what to do about it because I have nothing great to say. Do you guys even care what happens here? Why would you? I must find something real to talk about. so I go in a desperate search of bloggers who are way bigger and way more important in the autism blogging world than I am (as if that's hard to find, lol) to see what I am doing wrong. To check out their content and styles and how their people interact with them. To see what kind of things they talk about that you guys want to hear.

I talk to a few of my friends asking for feedback on my blog, where I can improve. Tylerism's. That woman, I tell you, she is something special. Pretty much, she tells me to just shut up and write. She tells me to go get the questions and hop to it. Alright. Fine. I can write it and if I don't like it, I don't have to submit it, but at least I wrote it. I go do as commanded and come up with a pretty decent post, check the word count and I am more than 2,200 words short of the 3,000-5,000 word goal. Gah! That sucks.

I step back and go do something else, leading me to Insane in the Mom Brain's post More Blogging Tips! You keep asking for them so here they are. But I would totally not listen to me if I were you. Then she smacks me upside the head and says "Here's your problem, dummy!" I forgot that my writing, my blogging is for me. I forgot that what other people think of what I have to say isn't all that important. They're my words on my blog. What I want to say, when I want to say it. Me, uncensored by anything but myself.

I blog because I love it. I write to hear my voice. When I write, I find me- the person- and in the process, sometimes help you. I talk about the things that happen in my days and it helps me look back and laugh at the insanity that is my life, to remember the craziness fondly. When I share my stories, I find other people who tell me- OMG, me too! I love knowing that my stories help others not feel so alone and that every once in a while, maybe I can share something I've learned through my many, many errors that helps someone else who is struggling with the same thing. Writing on days that I have no amusing stories, the days where I am stressed and overwhelmed and don't even know which way to turn, I find support. Sometimes, I find my answers in my own writing, I find comfort in my own words, I find my way in seeing my problem in black and white, and other times, you give me the answers I so need to hear whether it's some wisdom from your own experience or just "I know, I get it, I've been there." You never know how important those little words are until someone says them to you in your time of need.

I blog for me. Not for the numbers. I write to have a conversation with my friends. I am sitting here now with Alex in my lap, his arms around my neck, pulling my hair, his lips on my shoulder, blowing and sucking air through my shirt, typing with one hand and listening to the kids in the backyard trying to decide if that's playing or fighting. Nothing big, nothing special. Just me talking to you about whatever happens to be on my mind. That is who I am, that is my blog.

So, I go back and just start talking. Several hours later, with the help of my friend, I have 3,044 words of something I didn't even know I could pull off.  I'm not completely happy with the post, it feels hit and miss and emotionally all over the map and I may have said somethings that are better left unconfessed but, I just went ahead and submitted the early draft of the essay for feedback before I could think twice about it. The e-mail I got back from Mrs. Davis on her first impression of my writing shocked me. She said "Mac, I LOVE IT!! It is real, honest, funny, sad, everything!" Really? There is still some editing and such to do but... I did it! I wrote a post for someone else and I submitted it! and it wasn't a total fail ;)

My advice to myself, my husband and anyone else afraid to try... Just do it. You are not going to know what you can do until you try.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Everything's gonna be alright.

Ok, so I had started a blog post this morning about what a wonderful day we had yesterday  but then I got a phone call that put a halt to everything and by the time the phone call was over, I'm sitting here wishing for the old days when I could pop a Xanax or roll a joint and not have a care in the world instead of sitting here with my head between my knees trying to breathe and not lose my breakfast of overly sugared coffee and Excedrin all over the carpet at my feet. Except, then there wouldn't have been a reason for the phone call, the phone call being about my Goofy one from the School  Psychologist. That's the way it goes, isn't it? You grow up, get responsibilities, take your responsibilities more seriously, get more stress for the effort and less ways of dealing with that stress. Sucky, but whatever.

So, as soon as my phone showed a call from the elementary the fight or flight kicked in. I really did not want to answer that call. Once I knew who was calling, it wasn't so bad. The school psychologist is a lovely man, which doesn't change the fact that it feels like my entire world is depending on this man and his team- a very uncomfortable feeling. He wanted to let me know that the evaluations were almost done and that he just had one more questionnaire for me if I had time to go over it with him. We went question by question through each part of Goofy's developmental history, which took quite a bit of time but I am so glad he was there to help me through it. That part was great, the next part not so much.

He asked me if I had any questions and my only question is- What is going on with my boy? Is he just a normal, quirky little boy or is there more than that going on with him? The question was partially testing, partially rhetorical, I wasn't really expecting an answer but I got one anyway. The Perfect Answer. I mean, text book perfect. all of the right words with no information. My initial reaction was along the lines of slight amusement and the thought of "Well played, Sir."

It wasn't until after I had gotten off the phone that it hit me. That meeting is in 5 days. It's Tuesday. at 10:45. I have 5 days to prepare, with no way to prepare. There is nothing I can do at this meeting but listen. I'm not going in armed with information, not fighting for my child, just listening. and, even worse? I'm going alone. no advocate, no friend, no husband. Just me. As quick as that, I'm sitting in the school cafeteria 8 years ago, enrolling Walter for Kindergarten, faced with the sudden, terrifying realization that I have not one single emergency contact. I'm sitting here, hyperventilating, thinking I can't do this. I just can't. It's too much. too hard. too heavy. I can't do it alone. as far as we've come in all these years, that much hasn't changed and I just can't anymore. I'm too weak, too outnumbered, stretched, stressed, inadequate. I cannot be everything that my boys need. I'm afraid I will fail and I will be the reason for it.

and then comes my brother and his crazy status updates to remind me that something has changed in these past years. I may be going to this meeting alone, but we are not alone anymore. We have a family now. we have a support network. I can do this. If I can't find a way, I'll make a way.

To quote my brother... "Just as soon as you think you've got all your ducks in a row... BAM! someone fires a shot and they all get out of line. Guess I'm going to have to glue those bitches in place."

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What am I going to do with this Goofy child!?

Yesterday was one of those days that he dragged his feet getting off of the bus because he was paying more attention to other things and not what he was supposed to be doing. Stepping down onto the first step, the other kids started yelling at him that he forgot his backpack. Which, actually, seems to be the norm for him on the bus and at school. Along with the usual kid stuff, the kids redirect him with a touch on his back when he rolls around on the ground too much, they brush the mulch off of his back, they look out for him, take care of him. On one hand, it's heartwarming and on the other it's scary. It's touching that the kids put so much effort into making sure he's ok, it's worrisome that he needs them to. So, he goes back to get his backpack and he comes down off of the bus still distracted by the sucker he's trying to open, not caring that it might be easier if he took off the gloves he insisted on wearing to school today.

I ask him how school was and he tells me it was not a good day. I, of course, want to know why. He says his teacher yelled at him and made him cry...
You know.

His note home said he had a 6 before 11am and a 5 after 11am because he wasn't listening to directions and was going ahead in his work and making mistakes. Once that flash of boiling rage simmered down a bit... a long while later, and I could think more clearly, I took a better look at that Goofy child and my anger turned into something a little closer to suspicion. Why did your teacher yell at you? because I wasn't doing my work. Well, what do you mean she "yelled" at you? Did she not use nice words? she did use nice words. Well, did she use her normal voice? no, it was like a baby voice. like... well, no, actually, it was her normal voice. So, how did she yell at you? she just yelled at me and made me cry. Well, what did she say? I don't remember! So, what makes you think she yelled at you? she just did!

this is the point where a question hits me that I have not considered in quite some time. Not during the whole social interaction thing, not while arranging observation, not in talking to him about the teasing incident yesterday, something that should have eased my mind from the start but I had not heard the name in so long, I forgot she existed... Goofy, where was your aide? your other teacher? the one who is supposed to be helping you? Where was she while you weren't doing your work? oh, she was just helping other kids. *see photo above* what do you mean she was helping other kids? why wasn't she helping you? We're talking in circles and I'm getting madder as we go. So, I give up and head for the e-mail.

I go over the note home, highlight Goofy's complaints and ask his teacher where his aide was, why she was not helping him stay on task. According to his teacher, his aide was right there beside him. It was Goofy's choice to not listen to his aide, to not follow her directions, to ignore her and at at least one point, insist that she do his work for him. Because of his behavior, his choices, she moved his magnet which gave him a lower score for the day which is where she "made" him cry (I'm assuming that was more of fit throwing than crying). He's having trouble understanding that he chooses to take the consequences when he chooses to not do what he should, punishment is always because the adult is mean. Goofy was already upset because he was sure he missed recess while he was in with the school psychologist today. The last time he was in with the school psychologist, he missed art and I got a phone call letting me know Goofy did very well and worked very well with him up until he realized he missed art, he was "a little upset" at missing art, which resulted in no more work getting done. When given choices to A) go spend some time with the art teacher, B) go back to class, or C) stay with the psychologist a little longer, Goofy couldn't decide so he was taken back to class. Goofy reported that "a little upset" involved crying, jumping and stomping his feet.

So, now what? Where do I even start with this boy? Evaluations are almost over. Hopefully, they will have some good suggestions for me and his teacher/aide because right now, I just don't even know.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Goofy Genius and the not so swift brother ;)

After seriously insulting Goofy's teacher  (totally by accident because of the whole impulsivity and lack of attention to detail combined with my run-a-way mouth and rarely thinking before I speak- or write) I've been trying to watch what I say and consider who's going to be reading my posts and the effects my words could have on them so I'm blocked. I got nothing to say. But this is funny. Kinda. I'm still a little sore over Goofy's report card- which is not funny at all. He either meets or nears expectation in everything.

This morning, Goofy was *a little* upset that we "didn't do homework" yesterday. We did, just not in the usual way. Being Monday, my usual day to hang with my husband, I blew off most everything I was supposed to be doing to spend time with him. When Goofy got home from school, Big D took us to eat lunch. At Hardee's, they are giving are giving out these activity books instead of toys. Inside the activity book, there was an activity along the lines of color by number. The directions were to color the shapes with a dot in them red and color the shapes without a dot in them yellow. So, instead of explaining  the whole thing, I throw out a sarcastic remark that he doesn't need to do homework anymore, he's doing *awesome* in school. He's a little genius on his own so I don't have to do anything. Goofy, being Goofy, his mother's son, looks at me with his little blank stare and informs me that you are supposed to do homework. because that's how you do it.

Walter, dear Walter, says like 5 minutes later, "wait. did I just hear Goofy say he wants to do homework? and you said he can't? really? Like, really? You would never say that to me. " ah, I love that boy. I'm not about to explain what I said because if the child was dense enough to miss the sarcasm, I'm going to roll with it and get him good and riled up. I didn't say "can't", I said "doesn't need to" there's a difference... He's rocking school- you are totally NOT. Walter's all offended because that's not fair. "Fair" has no place in this house and you don't get a vote. What? you think this is a democracy? really? Like, really? Shut up and go on with yourself. At this point, Walter seems to decide I was joking, shakes his head and smiles and then goes to get ready for school.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Losing my cool... not so cool.

This morning started out same as any other. I got up, got my coffee and sat down to roam the Internet. It wasn't long before the kids started waking up. Sounds peaceful, right? that "waking up"? Implies a sort of gradual transition? No.

As soon as Walter's eyes popped open, he was in full on ADHD mode. Running and jumping and bouncing and talking non-flipping-stop and climbing up on my bed to bounce on it, waking the little one, who also slammed into the waking world at top speed.

and then, they double teamed me. I went to get Alex ready for school while these two clowns ran around the house acting like they have never been taught how to act indoors, the Goofy One? Nekked as a jay bird, winkie flapping in the breeze he created with his little Tasmanian Devil self while running from one end of the house to the other, stomping and jumping and echoing Walter's war cry of "YO-LO-LO-LO!!!" Effing Sponge Bob. Oh, the things I would love to do to that fictional character right now... Then, they start yelling at each other. I'm yelling at them to just freaking stop!!!

This whole time, Alex is so not cooperating. He doesn't want to be washed, he doesn't want me touching him, he just wants me to stop and leave him the hell alone. but, I can't. He has to get ready for school. and this is where the toys left in the tub become weapons. For some reason, there's a hairbrush in the tub. why? I don't know. In this house, I've learned to just leave the reasoning alone and deal with whatever is. but anyway, yes, a brush. and I end up getting conked on the top of the head with it, which hurts on it's own and really does not help the headache that's building. I yank the brush out of his hand and throw it across the room and snap out a plea to just stop. I get him out and dressed and try to brush his teeth and you think he protested in the shower? HA! That was just the warm up. Those mechanical bulls? got nothing on this child. At least the toothbrush made it past his lips for a spit second. This morning, I can be happy with that teensy accomplishment.

Then I hear Walter and Goofy going at it like two cats flung over a clothes line. I hear Goofy gargling his words. I look up yell at Walter and the odd sounds coming from the smooshed child stop. Goofy's yelling that Walter stepped on him, Walter's insisting he's lying because he can't step on him, if he stepped on him, he would be dead while Goofy screams, "Nuh-uh! You're the liar, Liar!" Now, first of all, how freakin many times do we need to go over the story of the boy who cried wolf? And, second, dumbass, if you are going to do something and then lie about it? Do it where I can't frickin see you! Third, just stop!!!! Go get ready for school and get the hell away from each other!

Then comes the get dressed get dressed get dressed get dressed why aren't you dressed? get. your. clothes. on. Your shirt is backwards. again.
You always say that. How can you even always know it's on backwards?
*AHHHHHHHH!!!!* Just, please, please, get dressed. Now.
Well, why can't you put my dress on?
For the 10,000th time, it's not a dress, it's called "get dressed" when you put clothes on.
*blank stare*
Just go get your dress on, I don't even care.
I can't find my shoes.
What do you mean you can't find your shoes?
Then comes the screaming, crying, fit throwing, leg kicking, fist throwing, head banging Temper Tantrum because he put his socks on backward and he can't get it because he can never get it and look! It always goes like that!!! I fix the socks with my head pounding and my own temper barely leashed. Then comes Temper Tantrum to end all temper tantrums over his shoes because it just won't work and he can't do it. and I can't take it. I smack his leg to shock him into a more controlled fit- more out of reflex and frustration than design- and shove the shoes onto his feet snapping that I need them to stop. They all just need to stop. Now, I have no problem smacking the boy's butt for running into the street, playing with the stove, setting a bucket on fire, or threatening his brothers with sharp objects, but this was over shoes. Shoes! I lost my cool over a stupid pair of shoes. That's *exactly* the way to teach him to control his temper. mhmm. Brilliant.

I took Alex to the front door to wait on the bus. I'm already at my wits end with the Sons of Satan, I'm already angry with myself for losing my temper over something so small with the Goofy One and I just need the buses to come and get these kids to give me a break. I can't just walk away and I need that option desperately because I feel like I'm about to snap. Alex does not want to wait for the school bus. Alex wants to run. I need him to sit down, just sit down for 5 minutes until the bus can get here but he keeps getting up and running off so that I have to chase him to grab him and bring him back. After about the third or fourth time, I yelled at him. yeah, Alex. I don't ever yell at Alex and here, I'd already done it twice this morning. Good job, Mama! You're well on your way to Mother of the Year.

I know that they are not acting out just to get on my nerves, to frustrate me beyond measure. I know their behaviors are not without reason, the reason being the way their brains and bodies work both together and against each other. but sometimes, it sure is hard to remember exactly why it is that we don't have a good, strong drink before the kids get up. May not stop them from acting like a pack of rabid wolves fighting over a hunk of meat, but it sure would make it easier for me to deal with them ;)


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Changes In Me.

So, most of you all know I reached the end of my rope not too long ago, got to the point that I just couldn't take it anymore. I was overwhelmed and stressed out and decided enough is enough. Things needed to change.

I let the other adults in my life- mainly school- start doing their job without me constantly hanging over their shoulder inspecting their work. I'm sure they are just as relieved by that as I am. We are in a good school district, they know what they are doing. As long as I keep an eye on the big picture, I can let go of the details.

I let the older kids take some responsibility in helping themselves, in taking care of their own obligations (homework) and in taking care of the house. I let the younger kids start taking some responsibility for themselves. I put consequences in place and left it at that. For the older ones, I will not sit there and go problem by problem on their homework- I will help where I'm needed but they will do their work completely and turn it in maintaining a grade average I know they are capable of and they will do their chores or they will get the consequences- losing privileges. Their choice. For the little ones, I will not go line by line telling them what comes next on the schedule- it's a PECS schedule, for crying out loud! You do your list or you don't get to watch TV before bed. Your choice. They are perfectly able to dress themselves in the morning. I will help you shower, you will dress yourself. Lord help you if you miss the bus. You want to make my job harder? Your choice.

In taking control of the things around me, I started taking control of myself, my time. I started with the house. With the help in the evenings, I don't have as much to do in the mornings which means I have no problem picking up, making beds, loading the dishwasher and wiping up after breakfast. When the house feels good, I can do for me without feeling guilty for not doing my job. Monday, I looked around and came to the realization that there was not one area of this house that was mine. There was no spot that I could go to relax or work on my blog stuff, that was just for me. So, we went to the Salvation Army, where I found The Perfect Chair.

Last night, with my extra time from not slaving over the after dinner mess, I sat in The Perfect Chair- my spot, my place, my space in this house that is just for me-  and read my book from the library while Big D watched a movie. This morning, I got up early and sat in The Perfect Chair with my coffee to read some blogs, checked my e-mail and glance at Facebook, and let me tell you something, it feels good.

I put the Goofy child on the bus, set my phone timer for 5 minutes, and just walked. alone. outside. with my MP3 player. because there was nothing at home that couldn't wait 10 minutes for me to get some fresh air and a bit of exercise. I came home feeling pretty good for getting that small amount of time for something I've been wanting to start for a while, I got myself a cup of coffee, took a shower and put makeup on. because it's all stuff that makes me feel good and there was nothing in the house that couldn't wait 20 minutes for me to do this for myself.

Things aren't going "perfectly", of course, I don't think anything in the world (besides my chair) could ever be "perfect". I'm trying to relax and let go but sometimes, it's not so easy to let go of the anxiety, the stress, or the fear of failure. I keep getting tripped up, like when Alex's OT e-mailed me asking if he gets outside OT. My instinctive reaction is- SH*T! Should he be getting outside OT? Is he struggling with something? Did I miss something? What do I need to do? I asked last year because I don't want his entire life to be therapy after therapy but if he needs it... they said it was my decision but he seemed to be doing fine, did something change? I waited, obsessively checking my e-mail for the answer for no reason, there's not a thing wrong, she was just looking for who had outside OT so she could get release papers signed to talk to them.

Or, there's that whole Auditory Processing Evaluation thing, where I was momentarily knocked on my butt by an unexpected turn. It took a few comments from a few people to get me to the point that I was still disappointed but able to roll with it. School is doing what they can do, I need to step back and wait my turn. His meeting to discuss evaluation results is in about 2 weeks so waiting isn't such a big deal. and, if he goes into 1st grade without a better diagnosis than the overly vague ADHD-NOS, it won't matter so much as I worry it will because the medical evaluations don't determine school supports all on their own. The school does their evaluations to see what he needs, the medical evaluations just help. Alex was 6 before he got his medical diagnosis, yet he'd already been through early childhood classes and been enrolled in the State School for the Severely Handicapped. The school did that, not the medical evaluations.

It can be hard to let common sense overrule your emotions but I'm working on it and for the most part, I think I'm getting the hang of it.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Goofy's Audiology Appointment

So, I don't really know what to say. Today was a pretty disappointing day. Well, maybe not the whole day, but Goofy's audiology appointment, definitely. We didn't even make it into the room before I knew something was wrong. We were walking into a sound proof room set up for Alex's type of hearing test. Nope, we weren't supposed to be getting a hearing test, we were supposed to be getting an evaluation for Auditory Processing Disorder. It wasn't another 5 minutes before I was fighting back tears.

We can't have an evaluation until he's 7 years old. 240 days from now. 7 months and 28 days. and even then, he won't get a diagnosis of Auditory Processing Disorder until everything else is definitively ruled out- with autism being at the top of the list of things that need to be ruled out. I was hoping this would rule out autism. I thought this would explain the signs and symptoms of autism he displays because both Auditory Processing Disorder signs and Sensory Processing Disorder are both just as common with ADHD as they are with autism. But, no. Instead, a diagnosis of autism would explain this. and we get another "wait and see". along with a referral to the exact Psychologist who thinks his "autism signs and symptoms" are more likely due to him imitating his autistic brother and being dependent on my rituals than having autism himself- which I must say, pisses me off because it reeks of the "Refrigerator Mother" bullshit of years past- and who refuses to give a diagnosis any more specific than ADHD-NOS until he gets another source of documentation.

Goofy passes his hearing test with flying colors and we leave there after getting 2 cat stickers and discussing at length why he is not getting a sucker because after doctor's appointments, you get a sucker and you said it was a doctor appointment. We stop by the bathroom where he refuses to be pulled into the stall with me because he's big and he can do what he can do and he's not a baby so I don't need to pull him in and while I was taking care of business, he chatted with every person who walked in as if they were his best friend- good and bad because as long as I can hear his voice, he's still outside the stall but- dude, stop freaking talking to strangers!!!! Leaving there he had to stop and fiddle with the door stop because it was broken and it shouldn't be like that and why can't you fix it? and can we take the elevator? why not? well, then, what about those stairs that move? So, we take the stairs that move and find our way back to the way we came in while he talked nonstop about everything he saw (and had to touch) and every person on our way out.

We get to the doors that go around and we must take those doors. So, we do. Out on the sidewalk, I realize I have my hand wrapped in the back of his hoody, the same way I do Alex's, for the same purpose... to make sure he doesn't wander off or bolt into traffic- because he does. On the way to the car, he is still talking. he's not noticing the big picture, he's following the "oil tracks" because remember? it was the same way the other time and it's like our car. Did these oil tracks come from our car? then, why do they go to our car?

I thought I would be leaving this appointment with answers, but instead, I'm back to the original question. What is going on with this child who seems so normal but on closer inspection is anything but? Why do I feel like I'm the only person seeing it?

I don't want to go home just yet, I'm not ready to face my questions or my disappointment so we head to the library. On the way in, I catch the eye of a perfectly normal looking man. Just another guy. a regular guy. with nothing special about him. Goofy catches his attention and he has to come talk to me. He steps into my personal space, touching my arm and my shoulder and using awkward hand gestures to emphasize his points while he avoids most eye contact and speaks too loudly, in too much detail, with too much excitement, about a movie called Avenger's that is now on the shelf because he got one and someone else got one and maybe Goofy might like it and if Goofy has questions about it, he can ask his Mom or Dad.

I'm thinking about that lovely man who made me smile as we wander through the library, especially when it comes time to search every flipping non-fiction book on the rows and rows of shelves there to find one single cat the looks like the 2 on Goofy's stickers with Goofy insisting to the point a dad next to me is laughing under his breath and wishing me luck and I wonder if in that man, I caught a glimpse of Goofy twenty or thirty years from now. If I can't find out who my child is today, how can I prepare him for tomorrow?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Getting your child with ADHD or autism to sleep.

There are no rules here. You are the rule maker. You need to find what works for you and stick to it. I can offer you suggestions based on what I have found, but you need to find what works for you. First of all, you need to recognize that you are the leader, you are boss. No matter what parenting method you use, you are the one who's in charge. I know you need to be reminded of that sometimes because I do. It's easy to forget when they drive you absolutely crazy, you are falling all over yourself to meet their needs and you feel like you have lost all control. Just take a minute to remind yourself, you are the parent.


As I have said many, many times in the past, the first and most important piece of advice I can give you is to set up a routine. Routine is based on order, not time. When you start out, start with something simple. I always recommend the 4 B's to start with- Bath, Brush Teeth, Book, Bed. When the routine never changes, it becomes easy to predict which helps with transitioning. Here is a post on our evening routine.

I've posted about Schedules and Routines. A visual schedule is a list of the routine. It is still not based on time so much as order and you need to start small and work your way from there.  I have a post on Walters Visual Schedule, Goofy's Visual Schedule, and the Little Dementor's Visual Schedule, if you need ideas in coming up with your own. 

Have everything that you need together so that you are not wasting time running around in a frantic manner collecting what you need. I'm a stay at home mom, so I understand that I have a bit more time on my hands than a single mom but preparing in advance does not take much time to do and saves a lot more time later.  While you are doing laundry, you can set aside outfits you plan to use for the week, then in the morning when you get the outfit you have prepared out, bring out tonight's PJs, too. When you get done giving them baths or whatever, leave the products you use close to the place you use them, same with toothbrushes, etc. The better you prepare, the more smoothly things go, the calmer the atmosphere.

Turn off any lights that are not needed, turn off or turn down any extra sound to signal that the bed time routine will be starting.  Use a 30 minute countdown or something equally as effective to signal coming change: A 10 minute countdown from 30-10 and then 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. You could use your words, the kitchen timer, or buy them their own timer.

Do what you can to cut down the visual clutter in the house to calm the environment. If not the whole house, at least the bedrooms to start with. Everything should have a place so that it can be tucked away and not contribute to the chaos around them. I can tell you from the way things are here, if the house is a mess, I'm a mess. The environment around you influences your moods and emotions. If you are hyped up because the area around you is too busy, or on edge because the clutter feels to be closing in on you, it makes it really hard to relax enough to fall asleep.

The atmosphere should be calm and relaxed because can you sleep while there is a party raging around you? If you need to, turn on some white noise and shut the door to cut down on outside stimuli. If you need to focus on one child at a time to do this, you can just stagger the bedtimes.

Mom and Dad's attitude also plays a big role in providing a calm, relaxing atmosphere. Have you noticed that on the days you just can't take anymore the kids are at their worst? Believe me, I understand the wanting to yell and scream and cry and plead and the frustration of a child who just will. not. effing. sleep! But, you aren't going to lull your baby to sleep if you are screaming. You know the saying "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all?" Grandma was a freaking genius. These little demons, I tell you what, they know exactly what they are doing. The more they get you all uptight and angry, the longer they get to stay awake fighting with you. You want to win this game? Keep quiet. Stay calm. How do you engage someone who doesn't respond?

Where they sleep is not as big of a deal as IF they sleep. If your child is more comfortable on the couch, in a recliner, on the floor, or with someone else, as long as they are in no danger, let them sleep there. There is a reason they are craving these spaces. You can figure out why they want to sleep where they are by examining their choices and mimicking it's features in their bedroom, I wrote a little bit before about Alex's bed and his bedroom explaining the reasons for what I do and the reasons for what he does. I also have a post on Goofy's bedroom and how his room promotes sleep. Try thinking outside the box. Would it help if your child had a couch or a futon in their room instead of a bed? Would they be more likely to use a mattress on the floor? Follow your child's lead.

Consequences and Rewards:
The Goofy child is no longer allowed to go places on a school night because he refuses to sleep and is very hard to get up in the morning- even worse than when he is home on a school night. If Walter is in bed at a decent time throughout the week and gets up for school with no trouble, he is allowed to stay up as late as he wants on Friday and Saturday nights. I shared a post on Goofy's behavior plan explaining our system and what works for him and then the tweeked behavioral plan when the first didn't work so well. You can modify it to any behavioral problems you are having- including getting their little butts to bed at a decent time.

Sensory Input:
A Weighted Blanket can provide comforting input to help them relax their body. A Weighted Body Pillow can be tucked against them to help give them the sensory input they need to feel comfortable in an open space. You can find a variety of weighted products at a reasonable price through A Positive Sensory Products.

Adding Lavender scented Epsom salts to the bath- just dump some Epsom salts in a resealable container, add a few drops of lavender essential oils and shake it up. Epsom salts are made of magnesium sulfate, and soaking in them can reduce stress and help you sleep more soundly by restoring magnesium levels. Research has confirmed that lavender produces slight calming, soothing, and sedative effects when its scent is inhaled. Parenting with Asperger's Syndrome, my go-to person for all things natural, suggests making your own massage oil w/ coconut oil or olive oil and a few drops of lavender and says you can buy Dr Bronner's liquid or bar castile soap in lavender. She says Dr Bronner's can be found online, in Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, or Sprout's, and virtually any store that also carries natural products.

I put my boys to bed earlier than the time I want them to go to sleep with an activity that they enjoy so that they are free to relax in their bed before being expected to drift off. I'm to the point with Walter and Alex that I couldn't care less what time they actually go to sleep as long as they are in their rooms at "bed time". Well, with Alex, every once in a blue moon he's up all hours of the night and that's when I dose him with Melatonin, but for the most part, he puts himself to bed and is usually asleep on his own by 9 or 10 because he knows the routine, he knows the signals, he understands what bed time is and he knows that here, in deciding exactly when he sleeps, is totally in his control.

If the problem is not routine, not atmosphere, not attitude or sensory or behavioral, and cannot be helped with anything you have tried, it may be time to talk to your pediatrician about medical help.


Saturday, October 6, 2012

Goofy's Room

Now that Thing1 has his own place, we have a bedroom for Goofy, and a place for my brother and the Little Dementor when they are here every other week. I wanted to make Goofy's space irresistible, or at least more inviting than my bed. I took Walter's bunk bed because he really, really hated it because at 12, he was waaaaay too cool for bunk beds. I used curtains to make the bunk bed into a tent-like-thing.
I made a corner for him to sit in and look at his books to encourage independent "reading".

This table holds his lamp- which casts a soft light that can stay on all night- and his clothes for the night, and also gives a place to contain the clutter to calm his room at night.

Finally, since the Goofy one will not stay in bed on his own until he's asleep, I made myself a space close to an outlet and a light so I can be calm by either blogging/facebooking my way through his screaming or reading a book to ignore him (or at least pretend to while I repeatedly count my way through deep breathing exercises so I don't give in to the urge to rip his little head off.)

Every color in the room, the lack of a lot of stuff, the low lighting, no TV, no radio... is all designed to calm the room to encourage sleep. He can use Alex's portable DVD player to watch one movie before bed and then it's time to sleep. During the day, he has access to a TV all day long, in his room I want to encourage playing with toys or reading books.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Blogging Etiquette: How to avoid plagiarism.

I have blogger's block. I'm thinking this could possibly be the worst thing to ever happen to a blogger aside from outright plagiarism. So, I got nothing. and since plagiarism seems to be a hot topic lately... well not as hot as elections and person-first language, neither of which I dare touch because the way I see it, we will elect the best one and in a year there will be a unanimous- "I can't believe we voted for him! We should have went with the other guy!" and my son is autistic because he has autism, your son can be whatever you want him to be and i will try to use whatever term you are comfortable with when I am talking to you about your child. So, plagiarism and blogging etiquette.

There's a line between imitation and plagiarism. Imitation is taking someone else's ideas and mimicking them, which is having the same qualities or features but not an exact duplicate. an exact duplicate without linking back to the original source implies that it is your own work which is stealing and is not cool what-so-ever. This, in the blogging world, is not limited to blog posts but also pictures and status updates.

Sharing is one way to avoid plagiarism (even in sharing, it's best to ask permission). If you see something you like, something you find helpful or something that makes you laugh, share it. When you share something, link back to the original source. In your blog where you are quoting, pick a phrase that best describes what you are sharing (keywords and SEO, or keywords and google page rank, you can google it or click the different colored words to follow the links), highlight them, then click "link" at the top of your page. When the box pops up, paste the address of the site you are linking to and hit "OK". To share on Facebook, hit "share" on whatever it is you want to share, when the box pops up hit @pagename and the box giving you the option to tag a page will pop up. These links give credit where credit is due and shows you to be honest and honorable.

Bloggers, it's up to you to protect your stuff.

As far as your pictures go, mark your pictures. There are some services that you can pay to watermark your pictures or you can just use the Windows Paint Program to put your domain name on the picture like so...

Where you mark it as yours matters because if you put it near the edges, it can easily be cropped out. Also, be careful where you post them. Something as simple as uploading pictures or video to Facebook or Twitter changes your rights as the owner of the picture. Be sure to read the terms of service, especially the parts where it says "by posting your pictures and videos, you grant Facebook “a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any [IP] content that you post on or in connection with Facebook." I, personally, would suggest posting them on your blog and linking them in a post to facebook as well as checking out this post on copyrighting digital photographs. But, this won't do much good as far as ownership if you do not own your blog content.

Make sure you know who owns/controls your content. The best way to go, of course, is owning both your domain name and self-hosting (I hear you can self-host with wordpress but I still love the simplicity of blogger). Be sure to read (and re-read regularly, since they can change at any time) the terms of service on any hosting platform you decide to use. Here is a good post on How to Protect Your Blog Content: Know Your Rights by Awesomely Luvvie, another one on Protect your content from being copied in 3 steps by Problogger, and an awesome one by Derik Shaefer called Blog Ownership: Start With A Business Mindset. Oh! and we can't forget to include a very good example of WHY we need to protect our content, courtesy of NickMom's bad judgment, Protecting Your Blog Content: The NickMom Blog Controversy by Melanie Nelson with tons of links to check out in her post.

Watch your content. Google gives you the option of setting up Google Alerts. Make an alert for anything that is relevant to your content. Keep track of what others are saying on the topics to be fully informed, watch for keywords that are specific to your blog. You can also use Copyscape Plagiarism Checker.

If you find that your stuff is being used without your permission and without proper credit, you can ask them nicely to either fix it- giving you credit, or take it down. Most of the time, it's new bloggers who are not intentionally stealing your stuff, they just don't know the rules. If that doesn't work, check out what Rebecca from Outdoor Blogger Network has to say in her post, What to do when your Content is stolen Online.

Decide for yourself how far you want to go and the amount of effort you want to put into it.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Our Normal

These past few days have been amazing. I haven't been online much and as we settle in to bossy-mom-mode again, that will change but right now, I'm revelling in my freedom :) I'm loving the relaxed feeling of knowing exactly what I need to do and getting back into the routine of being in charge.

My change in attitude has also had an effect on these creatures of darkness that call themselves my children. Or, it could be that I'm not doing as much for them and expecting more in return as well as being more vigilant since there's less to try to watch. Alex, of course, is good. My sweet angel baby. Thank God for that one, he more than makes up for the rest of the lot.

The first thing I woke up to this morning was one of those 18 count egg cartons sitting on the table minus most of the eggs and still cold. It should not have been almost empty. and if anyone had cooked, it would have been last night and they should have been room temperature. and there should have been lots of cooking evidence, including a pan covered in egg because they don't get the whole butter/oil thing. Mysterious. but whatever.

This morning, I didn't bother to make sure Thing2 was up for school, he missed his bus- natural consequences, you don't go to school. and if that doesn't sound like punishment to you, there are home from school rules. You don't get to go anywhere or do anything that night and Lord help you if you skip on a Friday, because your weekend plans are screwed. I talked to him a bit this morning about his upcoming birthday, which is in May. Sounds far off, but it's his 18th birthday and as far as I know, the boy has no life skills, he has no job and no driver's licence. If he plans on doing anything about becoming an adult, he needs to hop to it. So, he took the trash out, lol. and he asked me to help him study for the permit test.

Then, the egg mystery popped up again when I found out they egged my car and house. Little assholes.

Then, the Goofy one apparently decided at some point in the night that pooping in his diaper was a lovely idea. Not acceptable. I'm getting mattress covers and taking the diapers away because this is just  ridiculous.

I checked my e-mail and found 2 e-mails from school. One from Goofy's teacher letting me know what he needs to work on for homework (any fine motor tasks, cutting with a scissors, using pencils, crayons, glue. ... cut out pictures from a magazine, glue it on paper, write his name underneath the picture, the words Yes, No..."and" will be next. Starting to write left to right. Recognition of color words. Working on recognition of numbers higher than 10...writing numbers to 20.) and one from the Mystery Man letting me know the observation was done and that he would be in contact. I also got an e-mail from Alex's teacher the other day telling me that they are working on a list of vocab words relating to the book of the month, Big Pumpkin, which I picked up at the library yesterday.

Everything was good throughout late morning. The Mystery Man called me to give me some awesome news about his observation of Goofy in class that eases my anxiety in sending him and he promised to watch out in his normal observations of the classroom. I adore that man. The relief I felt as he described the hour he spent watching, I can't even describe. And he answered every question I asked in the e-mail I sent.

When the time came, I took my book to the front porch to wait for Goofy. So quiet. Thing1 pulled up and came to tell me about the alternator going out in his car then sat in the driveway to fix it. I love that he can still be comfortable enough here to come home when he needs something. I was kind of worried about that because I have been stressing the change in parent/child relationships and the lack of parental obligation that come with becoming an adult. I was kind of afraid he wouldn't set foot in this house after he left. He even invited us to his apartment for a social visit and to check out what he did with the place.

I see the neighbor dad stomping to the mailbox and back with his little girl, looking to be in a foul mood, which is very unusual because I didn't think the man owned a foul mood. But, outside of these four walls, not my business, I waste no time worrying about it and get the Goofy child off the bus who reports, for the first time in weeks, that he got a 6 today. 6!? Why did you get a 6!? "because I wasn't being have. I was being silly." about here is where the neighbor dad's foul mood falls right into my lap. Someone egged his house. the back side. that faces our back side. damned heathens. Now I have to figure out which one it was.

Now, there are 5 kids here right now, 4 of them belonging to me (do you know how good it feels to say that? 4. not 5. 4 kids and 1 adult. can I get a woot-woot!?) anyway,

5. Thing2. overslept and missed school. Not him.

4. The LD. too small.

3. Alex- pfft. yeah, I wish.

2. Goofy... what did he do before ending up in our room last night? Could it have been? Nope, they hit the back door. Goofy throws like a 6 year old girl.

1. Walter. I didn't have to wake Walter up this morning. and he was a hyperactive, rebellious pain in my ass this morning who wouldn't even shower his stinky butt until I threatened to do it for him. unmedicated ADHD- unruly, defiant, impulsive, destructive, disrespectful, obnoxious little brat. He's been fake-taking his meds lately. I'm going to have to find a way to supervise it more effectively. I'm thinking about sending his meds to school so the nurse can make sure he really takes it but that makes 1st hour hard to handle. But, better one than seven, right? Well, one thing at a time. first, deal with the egging. That boy is washing walls and windows tonight. every single one in the house. and tomorrow, he is going to be the neighbor dad's slave. actually, that can wait until this weekend. and the neighbor dad can have him all of Saturday. and I will use him tomorrow to catch up on laundry.

All in all, a fabulously normal day.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I am MAD, in a good way ;)

So, once it was pointed out exactly how ridiculously out of control things have gotten around here, I decided enough was enough. I looked at what I was doing and saw for myself the ridiculousness of it and decided- no more. I freaking quit. right this minute. things are changing, now. and I started with a plan.

First, I asked myself where I could cut back, where I could let go, where I could accept the help and walk away. The first obvious answer was school. I mean, at school. in the school. not in my house. Since when do I care what happens outside of these four walls? Why start now? What happens out there is someone else's problem. If they need help, they can say so. Otherwise, whatever. Not my job. So, I'm letting go. Whether it's high school, middle school, elementary school or special school, they are perfectly capable of doing their own jobs and asking for backup when it's needed. How many times have I told you guys to accept help anytime it's offered? Now it's time to take my own advice and walk away.

Next, we helped Thing1 move into his very own apartment. like, out of our house. as in, not my problem anymore. I don't have to worry about anything what-so-ever with that boy, oh, excuse me, man, ever again. If he has a problem that he needs his parents for, he can ask. Otherwise... outside of these four walls and not my concern. My only concern with him now is getting him home to visit every once in a while. That's it. and with him goes the ex-girl, the newer ex-girl, the new girl and the baby. That's all his life now and has nothing at all to do with me. His life is his life to do as he wishes. His problems are his problems to deal with as he sees fit. His house, his rules.

Then comes Walter. I laid it all out for him. This is what's happening, this is what's going to happen, these are the consequences. Whichever road you choose is your decision. Once you started calling me "Mom", I stopped being your "Mommy". I am now your teacher in life, not your caretaker. Step up or sit down. My job with him is teaching responsibility and letting him take the consequences when he chooses to not take those responsibilities seriously, whether the consequences are natural consequences or consequences I set in place. My job with him at this point is consistency and following through.

Goofy. My job is to raise him. My job is at home. My job is life skills and homework. He's not going to learn if I don't make him do for himself. He's not going to behave without having the motivation to do so. He's not going to make progress without being allowed to fail. He has his own room now which he shares every other week with the LD. He is now expected to sleep in his own bed and keep his own room clean, I brought behavior charts back, and there is no reason he can't dress himself in the mornings. I quit doing everything for him and started making him do it on his own.

The house is not only my responsibility. These kids are not going to learn to live on their own if they are not made to take responsibility. I simplified everything. The behavior charts are just numbers 1-5 because they know the rules. All I am doing with them right now is using them as a reminder of expected behaviors. You are responsible for your own behavior, no matter what the provocation. I don't care what so-and-so did, that has nothing to do with how you chose to act or react. Chores are back. and Thing2 is ticked. :) Chores are Mon-Thurs chores 1-4. Only Thing2 and Walter have chores, alternating chores and days, because Goofy and the LD's are built into their visual schedules.
  1.  dishes/counters              T2   W   T2   W
  2.  sweep/mop                    W   T2   W   T2
  3.  kitty litter/ trash             T2   W   T2   W
  4.  downstairs bathroom.    W   T2   W   T2
They are still responsible for their own rooms, their laundry and cleaning up after themselves. Consequences are losing privileges such as cell phones and freedom. Whether or not they get the consequences is their choice.

I am also limiting the time I spend online. I will send e-mails before school if needed, I will do my blogging and page and online fooling around after the kids leave and before I start on my own chores, I will check my e-mail and parent portal after school and will check my e-mail before bed. That's it. Outside of school e-mails, my online priority is the blog and the page. I will work it all in where I can work it in and not worry if I miss a time. If I can't share what others post to my wall right away, I will trust that people will check as they have time and will respond when they feel they have something to offer.

I clean, I help with homework, I do laundry, I allow my kids to grow up and do for themselves, to succeed or fail on their own, to make their own decisions (, within reason...) and love them like crazy. This is my job. That's it. I'm not a martyr, a maid, a saint or a slave. I am a mother. The hard part is going to be sticking to it and *really* letting go but already, I feel good. I feel really good. I feel like a giant weight has been lifted and this is a life I can live.