Monthly Archives: March 2014

Did You Really Win That Argument?

So as everyone was giving something up for Lent I thought long and hard and decided that as sheltered as my life can get being an Autistic household that I really wasn’t willing to part with anything I do enjoy and that I would give up something negative instead. So I gave up arguing. It turned out to be a bigger blessing than I ever imagined.
I have really sat back and analyzed certain situations that would previously cause me to entertain an argument and think about it a little more than I would have before giving it up. As I witness the invitations to arguments (trust me they still come) I cant help but think that most arguments are absolutely pointless. What is there to gain? Would harsh mean words or hurt feelings make me feel better at the end of the argument? Would all the negative energy from that argument bring any good to my day? Is it really that important to change someone’s mind to make them see my point? The price is just to high anymore. I am no longer willing to pay it.
We wonder what is wrong with society these days and we fail to realize that we are what’s wrong. All of us. We are all guilty in some way. Our children are looking to us to teach them what kind of adults they should be. We are heroes to them. They want to be like us. Time after time we allow them to see the ugly side of ourselves. Whether it be a harsh word to a fast food server for getting our order wrong or cursing at the person who cut us off in traffic. We wonder why this generation has taken such a wrong turn in life yet we fail to see that we are the ones little by little teaching them that its ok to disrespect someone or speak harsh words to or about them as long as we ourselves feel that we were somehow wronged in a situation.
Well its not ok and each and every one of us including myself are guilty of this destruction of our society. We no longer lift each other up we constantly break each other down.
Giving up arguing is something I would highly recommend to everyone. It has really simplified my life. Its allowed me to actually enjoy a little more of my life everyday. Instead of participating in anyone’s arguments I simply walk away and do the dishes or scrub a toilet as I have found it to just as enjoyable.
I challenge you to try it as you receive the next invitation to an argument!

Our Autism Journey

My son has Autism. As I think about Autism I cant help but realize that growing up I didn’t know anyone with Autism. I cant even remember ever hearing or learning about this disability. When I was growing up a disability was something that was visible. In this day and age we all know someone who is touched by Autism. A friend, a relative, perhaps even just some random person you came across on the internet. Autism is now commonly recognized. Surely we walk among many undiagnosed Autistic Adults. Autistic children grow up to be Autistic Adults. The more I speak openly and honestly about my son’s Autism the more I have people reaching out to me and inquiring about their own children. Some have been diagnosed and others are just starting this journey. Early intervention is so important please if you think something is not right don’t dismiss it. Listen to your gut feeling. Your child wont just wake up one day and look Autistic. Throughout our entire journey the one thing that can actually anger me is having someone say “He doesn’t look Autistic.” The definition says Autism is: ‘a condition disturbing perceptions and relationships: a disturbance in psychological development in which use of language, reaction to stimuli, interpretation of the world, and the formation of relationships are not fully established and follow unusual patterns’ So of course he doesn’t look Autistic no one does.
I cant speak on anyone else’s Autism journey only my own. Just as every person is different every Autistic person is different. When I gave birth to my son the last thing I worried about was that he would be Autistic. Every mother hopes for a healthy baby and when you leave the hospital with a newborn that you believe to be happy and healthy Autism is not something you actually look out for. Our babies reach what we call milestones. Rolling over, crawling. babbling, talking, walking etc. My son reached all his milestones but they took what seemed to me more time and effort. I often inquired to friends, relatives, and his pediatrician about my concerns. From friends and relatives I heard “boys are slower than girls don’t worry” from his pediatrician I heard “he is happy and healthy don’t be so concerned he will do it when he is ready” My concerns never left that gut feeling was always there and I worked longer and harder with my child I gave him all the extra attention my little boy seemed to need. When my son was about 16 months old I was taken a little more seriously about my concerns as I had never stopped addressing them and at 18 months old he was evaluated by a team from the First Steps Program. He qualified for the program as my concerns were actually valid to them and we started what they called therapy. At that age therapy was basically things I already did with him at home but it was a Professional someone who’s opinion was valid to the Doctors. I was able to personally pick my son’s therapist from a package of resumes. Out of all of them one stood out to me as she had experience with Behavioral Problems. One of my concerns with him had been his behavior. You must be thinking that at that age how could that be a concern. I always noticed odd behaviors about my son. Friends and Family members would say “he is just bad” “he is spoiled” “you baby him to much” No he wasn’t just ‘bad’ ‘spoiled’ or ‘babied’ I always went out of my way to make him comfortable. Wasn’t it my job? I was his mother he depended on me for his comfort, safety, and happiness and he deserved it. Throughout the therapy my son progressed. At three years old he transitioned from the First Steps Program to a program in the school system called Head Start. We also started with a new therapist as we no longer qualified for the old one (she stayed a part of his life for the next 16 months though) At this point in starting school we still had not received a proper diagnosis which was a problem for everyone but me. I was not comfortable with what I felt at the time was jumping in to a ‘label’ Inside I probably believed that he would just grow out of this. I fought through the school system until he was five years old. We were headed to our diagnosis and Autism Spectrum was being discussed and at four years of age he was placed in a classroom setting designed for special education. He hated it as did I. He was restricted basically on what he was taught as most of the children in this class with him were physically disabled and the actual ‘work’ he was given was so minimal and basic it was stuff he had done in his therapy. He was finally transferred from this classroom setting and tossed into a regular classroom where no one was disabled physically or mentally but he was completely overwhelmed and just couldn’t seem to adjust. He ran wild through the classroom, he broke things, he didn’t follow the structure, he hurt teachers by striking out at them in anger as no one seemed to understand him or listen to him. All the while he was a different little boy with me. Now I know its because I listened, I understood. After all it was my job. My little boy was struggling and not enjoying things other children were enjoying. All I wanted was for him to be happy, feel loved, and to be comfortable. During these years I went out of my way to learn about the things that made him act out, the things that made him so uncomfortable in life. Some cant be avoided but the ones that could were now being eliminated one by one. All Autistic people have sensory issues. Its minimal in some but others actually carry a diagnosis of Sensory Processing Disorder. My son is one of them. All of his senses are heightened. This in itself makes life uncomfortable for him. Everything from fabrics, to noises, to foods are so intensified for him that they cause him a lot of discomfort. While in this classroom setting the teachers could not get a handle on recognizing his sensory issues. They just didn’t understand that 27 kids standing up and singing loudly would send my child running wildly out of control throughout the classroom seeking some sort of relief from the sounds that were piercing his ears. They labeled him as a bad child and looked at me as if I was not doing my job at home as his parent. I looked at them and wondered why it was so hard for them to understand as they were the professionals here. My son was suspended during and I was sick of fighting this battle with this particular school. I was tired of the conferences, the phone calls, the explaining of what was going on inside my child’s mind to a school system that didn’t seem to even want to understand I my son was transferred out of that program and placed backwards into my younger daughters classroom. He found comfort in his sister being by his side at this time. Things were still out of control and I was still at what seemed to be war with the school as I found I didn’t have much ground to stand on as we still had yet to have an ‘official’ diagnosis. When my son turned five I felt we finally had enough documentation of all the things going on with him and came to understand that he was not going to ‘grow out of this’ and we started seeing a Psychiatrist. After submitting all the information for him for 5yrs and seeing the Psychiatrist for some time we got our diagnosis of Autism with a childhood onset of Schizophrenia, OCD, ADHD, Pervasive Disorder, Sensory Processing Disorder, and ODD. Autism is our main diagnosis. All of the other disabilities fall under the Autism and are related to the Autism. As no two Autistic people are the same they each have the traits of the other disabilities in my son these particular traits are so extreme that they are able to be diagnosed individually. Now that we have a diagnosis we have a ground to stand on. No longer is my child labeled or singled out as the bad kid. Instead of being at war with the school system we are now a team. The diagnosis itself has opened so many doors for my son now and I couldn’t be happier with what the school provides for him. Now when I send him off to school I know that his comfort level is as big a priority to the school as it is myself. I no longer feel as if I am sending him off to a torture chamber and he no longer feels as if he is entering one.
My child’s Autism is the #1 priority in my life. All I want is for him to be comfortable in life. Inside he is very angry and confused. He sees other children that are able to enjoy so many things that can cause him physical and mental pain and he doesn’t understand it. This year the anger is getting better. This year we are completely focused on his anger and his emotions. Sure an occasional chair still flies across the classroom but now instead of a punishment or suspension the teacher, aide, Principal and even himself are looking to see what caused this outburst.
I don’t ever expect anyone to truly understand what life is like for our household as my child’s Autism has a side effect on everyone in our household. There are many Autistic households out there in our society and none of us have exactly the same life. I don’t use a daycare as my son’s violent outbursts don’t allow it. I don’t use babysitters as none suit our needs. I have always been adamant about my son being comfortable and sometimes that’s a very tough job even for me. I do not seek sympathy as our life is honestly not bad. My sons disabilities don’t take any days off. There are no sick days, no holiday breaks, no vacations. I embrace the good things in our lives as there are definitely plenty. Autism is not all bad. I often reschedule appointments, don’t return phone calls, don’t follow through on making plans with friends. We miss birthday parties and prefer to host family gatherings in our own home rather than visit someone else’s. We don’t visit amusement or theme parks even shopping trips don’t always go as planned as Autism takes priority over everything. If it wasn’t for social media I probably wouldn’t even have any friends. Even most family members have abandoned us in life due to not understanding Autism. Those family and friends that have stuck around in our lives are the ones that are learning and willing to walk this journey with us no matter how difficult some of the long and winding roads may become.
If you think there is a problem with your child I implore you to seek help. Start by a visit to your pediatrician and request a referral to a specialist. One thing I tell all mothers who reach out to me is document everything. No matter how insignificant you may think it is it will aide and assist in your child’s diagnosis if there is a need for one. If you are concerned that something is not right it probably isn’t. Trust your instinct. Never give up. Do what is best for your child. Its your job as a parent whether your child is healthy mentally or not. Yes Autism is mental disorder that requires mental help. There is nothing shameful or embarrassing about it. Its not something you caused and your child deserves the best treatment available to them. We are an Autistic household and we embrace it.

Sober Birthday

Today I am 6yrs clean and sober. To anyone who was never an addict it doesn’t sound like much but to me its everything. Every year sober I grow. See I have actually lived more of my life addicted than I have sober. I started using drugs at the age of 11. Now as I look back on it I think to myself how could my bio mom not know? How could she ignore it? How could she allow me to ruin my life and do nothing? At 11 these were not my choices to make. Someone should have intervened. Someone should have led me down the right path. Someone should have stopped me. They didn’t. I was alone in this cold world. I had no one.
As the years went by I became defiant. I knew it all. No one could stop me then. Everywhere I looked in my life I was surrounded by addicts. It was natural. It was ok. It was a way of life.
In my teenage years I skipped school, raided the stashes of friends parents, hosted parties in my own house and it was all ok. No one stopped me. I ended up with a teenage pregnancy and back then MTV could care less. The father ended up in prison and I was alone with a baby and my addiction.
As my child was young I met a guy and fell in love. I tried to build a family but my addiction never left. He used drugs with me and it was natural. Its how I thought it should be. Its what I knew. There came a time in this relationship where everything was getting out of control this comfortable life was no longer comfortable. For the first time I really wanted to be sober. I wanted a family and I wanted a life free of addiction. He didn’t. During this time someone told me “you can do bad by yourself” I took that advice and I left our life together.
Unfortunately life got harder. My addiction was no longer easy. I worked three jobs at one point to feed my addiction and to maintain what I thought was a life. Now my child was being raised by family members and my life was hard. During this phase of my life I met another guy. Our relationship was convenient until I became pregnant. He was a good guy he was raised well and I thought we could build a life together. We were just not in love with each other and instead of building a life together he took my child and built a life for them. I was left alone with my addiction.
Now I needed my addiction more than I ever did in my entire life. I couldn’t function. I was a failure. I was devastated. Now I relied on my addiction to live. I relied on my drugs so that I could get off the floor and feel nothing. Now I became cold, heartless, I felt nothing and that’s just how I wanted it. I didn’t deserve to feel anything. I punished myself and fed my addiction. I wasn’t living I was merely surviving.
Then I met a guy. He was so different. He was kind. He was genuine. He really cared about me and I didn’t know why. He became my best friend. We became inseparable. I could trust him. I could rely on him. We fell in love. He says he loved me all along. A few years into our relationship we had a son. Life was changing but I still had my addiction but for the first time in my life I hid it. It wasn’t something that seemed so natural anymore. I became pregnant again and gave birth to a daughter. Now I had a family. I had a wonderful man who truly loved me. We were building a life together and I no longer wanted my addiction to be a part of it.
My daughter was 17 days old the last time I used drugs. That was six years ago. I would have never done this alone. This man stood by my side as I went through withdrawal, did my drug counseling, did my drug classes, learned what triggered me in life to use drugs, as I learned and still continue to learn who I really am without my addiction. He cheered me on as I completed all my steps, every certificate I acquired he was really proud of me. He went through all my counseling with me and still to this day when life is becoming overwhelming he steps in to ease my load. I actually never thought I would ever reach a point in my life where I didn’t have an addiction. I finally had every reason I needed to be sober. Besides my Mr. I have never told anyone this entire story. Today on this sober birthday I am strong, and confident enough to share it with the world. Today I am no longer addicted. I am not a recovering drug addict anymore. I am a recovered addict!