Wednesday, February 3, 2016

It's a bird, It's a plane, It's...Nurse Jeremy!

This is the comic Jeremy gave to my boy!
***Update:  Jeremy was found hours after posting this!  Thank you so much for your shares and your comments on Facebook!  Jeremy and I have been in touch and I am happy to report that the three of us will be getting together soon!!!******

People ask me all the time what is the boys' "thing." That "thing" would be what they obsess on, or have a compassion for, or have a knack at doing.  To be honest, this question makes me laugh more than any other question.  I think it is a horrific question to be honest.  What I mean is I think of it this way;  everyone has a "thing."  Have you ever met a girl/boy enamored with horses?  Talk about obsessed, those guys eat, drink and breathe horses.  Or comic book peeps?  How 'bout them Walking Dead fans?  (You know who you are!!!)  I have literally sat while two people I loved talked for hours about the show.  HOURS!!!!  So my point being, we all have that thing.  The difference in my eyes is that people with autism don't care enough about social interaction to trump their "thing" and so seemed a bit more fixated than others.  They don't stop what they are doing to say hi, when others would.  But alas, I'm asked this question at least once a week.  So, here's the short answer:  Oldest superheros, youngest trains and,   (bio, geo, chem of course.)  But the other day, I was asked this question and was so surprised at the turn out that it has forever changed my outlook on how I will go on viewing this question.

Okay folks, get out the tiny violin, because here's my sad story.  I was hospitalized a few weeks back due to some issues.  Nothing serious, but I was in there for a good week.  No fun at all.  (If you ask my oldest he will tell you (like he told his whole entire school) that I was in the hospital because I pooped my pants.  (Which isn't too far  While in there, I had a night nurse named Jeremy who was a shy, quiet soul and sweet as could be.  One night while Jeremy was doing his thing on my IV and arm, I was talking to my oldest on the phone.  This is a big deal, because my oldest HATES the phone.  He talks to no one and so for him to give me a few seconds of his time for a cuddle-craving-stage-five-missing-her-kids-mommy was epic for me.  I didn't get to talk to Jeremy while he was in the room, so when he came back in I explained my rudeness and why I didn't acknowledge his presence.  We got to talking about the boys and he asked THE question.  I saw his face immediately light up when I said superheroes and he sat right down in my visitor's chair and we began to talk up a storm.

Turned out, Jeremy's "thing" was superheroes too.  He, in fact, loves Superman, like my dude does.  He gave me so many awesome tips and advice on comic books, video games, appropriate movies to watch and everything in between.  I mean we literally talk probably longer than we should, but it was an instant connection of souls between my oldest and Jeremy without my oldest even being there.  Before Jeremy left my room, he said, "So your son doesn't have any comic books?"  I said, no and explained that I really wasn't sure what to get him.  He said, "I'll bring him one tomorrow" and with that was off for the night.  

Now, people say things all the time.  They really do, so I didn't put much weight into him really bringing back a comic, but I still told my son anyway about this really cool nurse and his love of Superman.  My son thought it was "cool" and so drew Jeremy a little note that said, "Thank You Geremy" and a Superman drawing.  Now the thank you was for being my nurse, because I didn't mention the possible comic coming his way.  He just wanted to thank "Geremy" for taking care of his mama.  

Now you probably already realize that Jeremy came with a comic or I wouldn't be writing about this, so yes, that night at 11:00 Jeremy walked in with a sealed comic book!  It was so sweet.  I gave him the thank you card, which he stated would immediately go on his refrig (which in our house is the highest honor for art work!)

The thing is, this was a really nice act of kindness.  But it was more than that.  I saw Jeremy as this guy that could really connect with my kid.  He likes superheroes, he said people think he  acts like Sheldon from the "Big Bang" as well, and many other things.  I just really wanted these two to meet.  I know for a fact Jeremy could keep up with my son's level of excitement over the heroes.  In essence, I wish I got Jeremy's info so those two could communicate even one time to broaden my guy's social horizon.  To let him see someone else who loves the same "thing" as him.  

And so, world wide web and social media, help me out!  Please share this story with everyone you can to find Jeremy!  I know he works on the 7th floor of the Mon Valley Hospital, Mon Valley, PA.  My oldest would love to thank him in person maybe over a hamburger, and of course with mom by his side.  And to Jeremy, if we never get to meet but you somehow here about this: my guy loved the comic!  He looks at it everyday and it has a permanent position on his end-table in the living room, where he keeps his most prized treasures!  Thank you so very much for your kindness!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Conditional love?

My boys have a deep seeded, innate love for their pappies.  It's been that way since birth and has only grown with each passing day.  I can tell you that I know just how lucky we are to have two wonderful fathers that are so involved with their grandsons.  I can also tell you how lucky we are that our boys allow this to happen.  Well conditionally at least.  

I have mentioned before that autism is a social and emotional disorder.  In fact, the word autism comes from the Greek word "autos" which translated means "self."  It is actually quite a misunderstanding that autism in itself is a "new" disorder.  In truth, doctors have been using the term "autism" for over 100 years to describe children and individuals who are withdrawn from society and from social interactions and hence drawn within their "self"--autistic.  In the 1940's, when Hans Asperger and Leo Kanner were publishing their work the diagnosis, autistic or autism, rose slightly in popularity, but was still a rarity.  It wasn't until the 1980's and 90's with attention deficit disorder (ADD) becoming a household term, that scientist begin researching and developing the works of their predecessors, and the medical diagnosis of autism grew in popularity and support.  Although arguments can be made about different aspects of diagnostic conditions, the base and core of autism is the fact that people with the disorder if allowed would be completely unsocial, withdrawn and in many instances unemotional.

Therefore, by definition and in reality, my boys struggle with relationships and interactions.  For an example,  my oldest is in first grade at a wonderful school that has an autistic support classroom and he is integrated for math and specials (music, art, computers) for some of the day with the help of a one-on-one aid.  Now, it might not be surprising that my son does not know any names of the kids in his "normal" class, which he calls it.  But here's a shocker:  he does not know the name of his one-on-one!!  This lady (who is absolutely amazing) is with him everyday, all day!  Helps with food, bathroom, classes.  They are joined at the hip and for the life of him he cannot remember her name.  We practice.  We rehearse. We preach.  But alas it does not stick.  He calls her "my lady."  And that's all he needs to know.  She is "his lady" in school.  That is her purpose and hence it is quite practical to call her 'my lady."  Black and white.  

And so, the fact that they desire to see their paps; they fact they want to interact with them is more than I could ever hope for, but it comes with no lack of umm, lets say awkwardness.  I'm not sure if it is like this with every child with autism, but when my boys get attached to someone, like their pappies, then they are literally 'attached" to them.  Wherever the pappies are, my boys are right with them.  There is no separation.  No breaks.  They are little magnets and of course the paps never ever complain.  But sometimes it causes some unexpected situations, and in the event below lead to a new "contingency" that has been set in place by my youngest.

My little one, in a very uncharacteristic fashion, spent the night (THE WHOLE NIGHT) at my dad's house.  Being a little early bird, he woke up and he and gram were up to the normal morning activities.  Apparently, my dad woke up sometime later and slipped into the bathroom to take a shower.  My lil one, hearing pap-pap stir, went running into the bathroom to see his man.  (The boys do not understand privacy in the throne room.  No matter the repercussions, they can not understand why the bathroom cannot be a communal hangout as well.)  So, busting in, he went straight to the shower and whipped open the shower curtain.

"Whatcha doin' pap-pap"
"Taking a shower buddy."
"Pap-pap guess what?"
"I DO NOT like seeing you naked."  
"Umm, then close the curtain buddy...."

And there you have it.  My little one declared his condition that has now been set forth for pap-pap.  He has now informed me that he wants to go to pap-paps but only if he has showered first.  Not that he will stay out of the bathroom.  Not that he will not open the shower curtain, but that pap must shower first prior to his arrival.  Black and white.

I guess he has decided that showering is an "autos" function for pap: to be done by his "self."

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Spectrum of Chaos

I'm a lover of a feel good story.  Always have been.  I'm the girl who cried when Oprah gave out her "Favorite things" to the audience because I was happy for them, and the girl who cried when I read a story about a boy with no arms and legs who wrestles in Ohio.  I'm just that girl.  So, naturally when I write I have a tendency to write feel good stories; however, another autism parent, another autism parent-blogger, put up a post the other day entitled, "reasons-i-dont-like-feel-good stories."  (Click on the title to read his article.)  The whole time I was reading it I couldn't help but to think, grass is always greener buddy.  And so I decided to touch on this topic a bit more and expand my reasoning and justification on why I think a good feel gooder can't be all that bad for the autism community.

The reason "advocates" and Autism Daddy seem to not like feel good stories is because they "think" it puts too much of a positive spin on autism.  That for those of us who have children who are able to speak on the spectrum and accomplish tasks, like being integrated in normal classes, get a driver's license, and pretty much anything notable, will be detrimental to the fight and struggle to get funding, resources, and education for all members under the autism spectrum diagnosis.  They also worry that it shines to much of a positive light on how hard it is to struggle with a child, teen, adult on the spectrum.  To this I can understand their reasoning for about point five seconds until I think, ummm no.  Not buying it.  You just think the grass is greener advocate person or parent who has it hard.  Here's why.

I'm a scientist.  I have worked on many, many research projects that were funded by different avenues, such as governmental, private, corporate, etc.  The one thing they ALL had in common was the need to progress and demonstrate findings.  NO ONE, and I mean no one wants to fund something that brings no step forward in the scientific community.  And if your results look like you got no where, better spend some sleepless nights in the lab figuring out how you can spin it to make it help in some way.  Look for that silver lining.  So, if we keep posting stories that aren't progress, cute, feel good, melt your heart stories, guess what.....bye bye funding.  Bye bye million dollar donations from the rich folk.

Think insurances will want to pay for therapy that goes no where.  No.  Think governments, pharmaceutical companies and universities want to do or fund research that keeps saying,....yup they are still stimming and we don't know why.  Or yup, they still can't speak, or have seizures, or not sleep, or obsess, or, or, or, or, or....  Catch my drift.  The good helps the bad.  The bad helps the good.  The ying is the yang.  It's a balance, or an of my favorite words in the English language.  But there is also another reason.

IT'S A SPECTRUM DISORDER.  An umbrella like so many like to say.  Here's how I like to explain it to someone who is new to the idea of autism.  The diagnosis is just like cancer.  Cancer is a spectrum, umbrella disease.  Think of a conversation you have undoubtedly had with someone.  

"Did you hear Uncle Bob has cancer?"
"Oh no, that's horrible...."

Fill in the next part of the conversation.  More than likely the session proceeds in the following manner.

"....what kind of cancer is it?"
"I think they said prostate."
"Oh.  I heard that's not so bad.  I'm sure he'll be fine."

Ask Uncle Bob.  I'm sure he is not so fine with that diagnosis, and because someone 'thinks' they know what prostate cancer is like, or breast, or lungs, or pancreas, or whatever, but until your family undergoes that type, you can never and will never know what each and ever individual feels or goes thru and how their family deals and handles the situation.  You can't.  It's impossible because each case of cancer is unique as the person that has it.  Enter autism.  Each individual is a unique case, with special circumstances and no two are alike.  

When it's a spectrum disorder, all NEED to be included.  They should be included.  My sons includes the nonverbal with the verbal kids in his autism room, in that he honestly doesn't see a difference.  Know why, he's a kid and hasn't been taught jealousy yet.  Just within the last couple months has he noticed that he's different than the other "normal" kids in his "normal" class, as he calls it.  And guess how hard it is to listen to your kid tell you, the parent,  that he knows he's different and the other kids know too.  Guess how hard it is to have a verbal autistic kid with high intelligence seek out sharp objects to cut himself with to "feel" or release?  Guess how hard it is to realize your kid gets lost in his head and you can't get him to respond for long periods (days, weeks) and you just have to wait until he comes back?  Guess how hard it is to realize that your kid can mechanical figure out how to work something complex that you yourself can't do, but can't wipe his own bum?  Or, and this I admit is going to hurt us all, guess how hard it is to have your kid stim verbally the same questions over and over and over again and you can't get them to stop and you think I wish he would just stop talking already!?  Am I complaining.  Damn right.  And its okay,  And its okay for someone with a nonverbal child that to complain too!  And tell good stories.  It's okay because in the grand scale of things, we are all in the same boat.  We just want the best for our children.  I can not imagine, nor pretend that I know what it's like to not hear my child talk.  Or walk. Or have seizures. Or not eat.  Or not go to school.  My heart breaks when I read so many of those stories, and I think I'm so lucky.  But that doesn't mean I need to or have to down play our struggles as well.  Nor should I not tell or expand on the funny side of life because I'm a feel good story person.  I'm just a individual who likes to play with the glass half full. 

My feel goods are still getting attention to the subject of autism.  Any publicity is good publicity. Search  #autism and see what you get.  A ton of Aspie's, nonverbal, parents grandparents, people all talking on all levels about autism.  Its amazing!  Feel good, feel bad, it doesn't matter.  There out there talking it up.  A few years back no one knew what autism is.  Today we have walks that thousands attend.   And tomorrow who knows what will happen.  

So after all the above, I have this to say.  It's raining autism folks, so open your umbrellas.  :)      

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Shock and Awww

In this house it is quite the norm for me to get stumped or corrected by my aspies on a daily basis.  They call me out on pretty much every mistake I make.  "No mom, you don't jump in the car, you step into the car."  "MOOOMMMM.  Stop calling me baby, I'm a little kid.  I am four."  And everything in between.  But sometimes the things that comes out of their mouths leave me literally speechless.

For this little tale, I have to back up a few months.  2015 was what I would call a shitter year.  Many things occurred including the loss of three of our dogs.  Needless to say, with having aspies it was quite a unusual time for me.  They had so many questions about death, heaven, souls, and religion in general.  I dealt with answering questions that I swear top theologians experts would have struggled with and decided the best solution was to buy a bunch of books to help me explain the unexplainable.  As our therapist Nicole put it, "They are dealing with questions that I'm struggling with currently."  In the end, I think our approach is to practice what makes the most sense to them, so we were probably the only home in the southwest PA region that had a Day of the Dead ceremony to honor the puppies and family members we lost.  (Hey it was my oldest son's idea and it was quite beautiful, dog bone tributes and all!)

See, death is quite different for an aspie than for other folks.  Take for instance our dog, Bucket.  Bucket was deaf and was full of energy.  He loved to chase our chickens and on one beautiful summer day a series of unfortunate events unfolded.  The "baby" and I were outside feeding the chickens and Bucket was on the lead.  He was chasing a chicken playing and somehow got out of his harness.  He went after the chicken that took him on a little chase that was getting to close to the road.  Of course being deaf, he could not hear me running and screaming for him, and of course even though we live in the country, it was the one time a car was flying down our street at just the right time.  He died in my arms and I was devastated.  I couldn't stop crying (ugly sobbing is more of the description) and was quite perturbed that my boys seemed so unaffected by the horrific occurrence.

 Finally later in the evening, my oldest said, "Mom stop crying already,"  "I'm sad buddy.  It's okay to cry when you're sad. Are you sad?"  "No.  I'm not sad.  It was an accident.  I love Bucket but he's dead and crying will not bring him back. And now Lola and Charlie have a new friend to play with.  I'm happy for them."  "Oh.  Okay," I said.  Since, I had already explained Heaven and a soul to him with the others passing, he had already decided where Bucket was and has situated his emotions in the practical way that only aspies can.  Buckets death was done.  Finite.  Move on mama.  For them, life is black and white, no gray no way.

And so I vowed that we in no way would be getting another dog any time soon.  I needed a break.  NO WAY NO HOW would we get another dog.  I can see your heads shaking from here.  Yeah right Lisa.  Never say never.  Well, I should have known  better.  The week of Thanksgiving I got a call from a rescue place that they had a boxer that was in very bad shape that needed a foster home.  Crap, I thought to myself.  Sure, email me the pictures.  Poop, she's white.  Oh my gosh, look how skinny she is!  And then I heard myself saying, sure I'll be up to look at her.  And I was hooked at first sight.   Before I knew it, three days had passed and she was in my car on her way home with me on Thanksgiving day.  Hey, don't judge.  You would have done it too.  To give you an idea of her conditions; a normal boxer her size should weigh 60lbs.  She weighed 25 lbs.  She had a wound on her ear, and her eye, and had no clue what a toy was.  She needed us and as it turned out, we needed her.

I was so worried that she would be stand-offish or shy, but that was not the case at all.  She is a pure lover and if you let her, she would remove your first layer of skin through non stop kisses.  And she immediately took to the kids.  I mean immediately.  My oldest had a rough time on Thanksgiving and she would paw at him and lay on him to stop him from head banging or hitting himself.  She would kiss him and just put all of her 25 pounds on him.  Later that night, after we taught her that it was okay to lay on her new dog bed, my oldest said, "Mom, she really loves me."  "We have to fix her and keep her."  And that was that.  Our newest member of the House of Crazies was made official, and Daisy, a 9 year old tortured boxer,  found a forever home.

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Think the story is done....oh silly you.  For this is not just a feel good story.  As the days passed and the boys got to exam her more and more, they began to notice some differences with Daisy than our other dogs.  You see Daisy looks like she has had many many litters.  In fact, she has had so many that her nipples hang down like a bad national geographic documentary.  Since none of our dogs have had litters we never had this before.  I noticed both boys looking at them and knew at some point I was going to have to address the issue, but boy I was not prepared for what came out of my youngest's mouth.

"Mommy, why does Daisy have so many wee-wees?"  "What!!??" I said.  "Wee-wees", as he pointed to her nipples.  "Is that because she has to pee a lot!?"

After a few moments of me trying not to laugh and scrambling to come up with an answer, I heard myself saying, "Yes hun.  That's exactly why."  I'll deal with those repercussions at a later date.

**Wanna know Daisy's progress. Like this page on Facebook as we continue to journey in the House of Crazies!**

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

You have a what!?!

A lot has happened since I last posted. Our oldest started kindergarten, our youngest had four teeth capped thanks to his love of eating rocks, and I am once again a stay at home mom. All these things were actually good if not great things that have happened, although they all came with a fight. It was a tough decision for me to once again leave my career, but it was undoubtedly the best decision and has been great for our family to have mom back to themselves.  And for our oldest, his "new" school has been AMAZING!  I'll write about that another day, because for this post I have to vent about some thing far more important.

Yesterday, Miss Nicole (therapist) and I were sitting in the living room letting my oldest decompress from his arrival home from school. It usually takes him about fifteen minutes to get adjusted to the change and then he is ready to start his home routine. (If you disturb before get ready for being told how stupid you are and you might want to duck from a flying object as well!)  During his sitting time he looked at us and stated that he had "big news" to tell us.

Now let me just say that the fact he wanted to TALK was un-flipping-believable!  The fact that it was juicy gossip for a gossip deprived mommy was all the better!  So, I was all ears and Miss Nicole was in as well. He started telling us about a boy who ran from his classroom. "Oh no," I said, "That's horrible!"  He continued on by saying that there were two new humans in his class and one has a big belly with a baby boy inside and that they were there to help his class even though his friendd didn't want new humans.

He talked for about five more minutes, telling us how he was sad for the boy who ran from the room down the hall and that he was sad because the boy wanted his mommy.  Now, to your typical parent you think that this is just a cute story and that's that. If you are an autism parent, you are on the floor shocked at the fact that, MY SON SHARED EMOTIONS!!  That's right, not only did he talk freely he also said he was sad. An emotion from my son. Holy cow!!  What an achievement. Nicole and I were estatic and elated and congratulated him for sharing and talking to us. The whole time as high fives were being passed from Nicole and I, MY oldest was looking at us like we lost our minds. 

"Umm, that's not my big news", he said. What?  What could top this?  What could possibly be more shocking then sharing a feeling!!!  Nothing, not one single thing, except for the next sentence that came out if his mouth.

"I'm a boyfriend to a girl."  I kid you not I sat down. "Your a what?"  "I'm a boyfriend. Like a girl kissed me on the shoulder and told me I'm her boyfriend and I said yes."  "SHE KISSED YOU!" I said in a not so supportive way.

Now let me just say that inside me I had a battle going on. One side of me was excited that he was being social and letting some one sort of get "close" to him. The other side was wondering who was this little six year old tramp that was trying to steal my baby away. I mean really, I have to bribe him for kisses!! 

So I kept it cool and just asked how it came about and if she was pretty and all the normal questions. I took a stroll out into the kitchen for a few breaks to laugh and cry as he continued talking about her to Miss Nicole.  When he was done, I did have a low point when I pointed out where I was still his top love, and don't forget it. (Don't judge, I'm a little attached to my boys.)  But all in all I did well, and when he shared his news with daddy, a proud supportive smile spread on his lips. "Way to go dude!" He said in his manliest macho tone.

So there it is, my son has a girl friend.  I thought I was prepared for all the stuff you should expect when starting kindergarten. I was ready for the IEP meetings, for the letters stating check your kid for lice, and even for the homework and tears, but I forgot to prepare for one big thing!!  GIRLS!! 

But to be honest its a pretty sweet thing not to be prepared for!! 

*Please excuse any typos. I'm on my Phone due to an autism tantrum vs laptop. I'll Let you conclude on who won the battle.  :-)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Honey, Why is your mouth Glowing?

Many people do not know that autism can come with a variety of other disorders.  In fact, the autism diagnosis alone just lets us, the doctors, parents and therapists know that there is a social-emotional disorder, but tells us little about the real nitty, gritty of what each individual suffers from.  Now, with the new diagnosis tool that's available we can have a little better understanding of what each person suffers from.  For instance, my oldest has moderate to severe autism - not affecting intelligence, with OCD, ADHD and sensory disorder characteristics.  My youngest has moderate autism - not affecting intellegence with ADHD, sensory disorder, moderate OCD and pica.  There are many other disorders that can arise with autism that we are lucky as of yet to not have experienced, like autism which affects intelligence, seizure disorders, mood disorders and so many others, but as you can see, no two people with autism are alike due to the wide variability in how it can effect each and every person.  Autism is like a fingerprint, no two can ever be alike.  And so when you have two kiddos both with autism in one house, each having their own difficulties it can be a little overwhelming....and a little disgusting.  

As I mentioned above my little one had pica.  If you are not aware of what pica is, its when you eat non-food items.  It is often very well documented in pregnant women who are lacking nutritional elements and hence have a desire to eat things like dirt and clay to gain the vitamins and minerals.  It is not so common in autism, but hey, normal is not what the house of crazies likes to do anyway.  And although all blood work shows that he is not lacking in anything, he still will munch, nimble and down right each pretty much anything that is not nailed down to the floor.  And so my little one likes to eat things that are well.....weird, disgusting, and unusual to say the least.  So why keep in this little treasure a secret when I can share our stories that would even make Andrew Zimmerman from Bizarre Foods cringe with disgust.

Now I can list all the unusual things that Mr Muncher eats, but what fun would that be, so instead I will give you a little story with our top most yucky moments.

#3.  Since I just wrote about our new addition of chickens it seems fitting that one of our top stories involves the chickens.  Now you may not know that chickens love bugs, but they do.  And in fact, you can buy them dried meal-worms as treats.  It didn't take to long for our little one to find the bag when mom and dad weren't looking and taste one for himself.  Unfortunately for us, he absolutely loves them.  In fact, he loves them so much that we have to hide the bag and keep it up high so that he can not get them.  And so when we are out feeding the chickens we have to do it when the baby is not around or he will eat their food and treats.  You probably can see where my story is about to go here in a a sentence or two.

So the other evening when we thought the coast was clear, we got the bag out and started to give the chickens the meal-worms as a night time snack.  All of a sudden, the kitchen door swung open and the baby immediately saw the feast on the ground, yelled, "Oh boy!" and went running towards the chickens.  As he dove onto the ground to get his fair share, he was pushing the chickens out of the way who were trying to protect their much beloved treat.  My husband grabbed the baby by the waist who was bent over shoveling the meal worms in two handed and now crying because daddy was removing him from his too beloved snack.  As daddy spun the baby towards me, my cute and adorable toddler had a worm hanging out of his mouth and in the most graceful way possible....I nearly hit the ground from passing out.

#2.  We love being outside  and especially love to go for hikes and so it is not that surprising that as we are out and about our youngest does his own version of buffet feasting.  He has been known to eat dirt, grass, sticks, rocks and leaves on most of our adventures, but by far the most disgusting is when we come across animal ummmm, presents.  That's right, our number 2 most disgusting pica moment comes when our little one found a pile of deer droppings and decided that it look like a nice hike snack.  When we hike the baby loves to be in the lead and we let him go a good bit a head of us because its the one place where he can be independent.  So when he bent down we really didn't know what he was doing until we got up on him.  When we did actually see the action taking place, yelling and screaming took place, a race to get to him and the scrubbing of his tongue with wet ones.  I was so scared he was going to get some disease and am still convince that our son needs to be wormed at least twice a year.

#1.  For me by far, the most disgusting thing our son eats are stinkbugs.  He loves them.  It makes me nearly vomit every time he comes and sits on my lap and a whiff of stinkbug comes from his mouth.  But it has become such a regular occurence that is cannot take the #1 spot.  So instead, #1 came at the beginning of this summer when the nights were getting longer and mommy and daddy let boys stay up later to catch lightening bugs that were beginning to come out.  This was the first year that the baby got the hang of catching them and we showed him how to open his hand and blow and watch as they fly away.  The boys were having a great time running around the yard catching bugs and it gave Daddy and I some much needed time to sit down and relax.  So when the baby came running towards us and there was something on his lips I really didn't think anything of it until I realized that that something was glowing.  "Hoeny, why is your mouth glowing? Did you eat a lighting bug?"  Next thing, our baby went running squealing in delight and we were quickly on chase.  When we finally tackled him, not only were his lips glowing, but so were his teeth and tongue and so it was baby ate a lighting bug and was now glowing.  Silver lining least we could see him in the dark.

And so, there you have it.  Our most disgusting pica moments!  If anything tops these three I will be sure to post, but lets all hope that I don't do that anytime soon.  And so watch out Mr baby is coming for your job!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

One little, two little, three little chickens. ..

After 35 years, I still need to wear a dunce cap every now and then.

As stated in the last post, this has been the summer of unfortunately situations.  Everywhere we turned, in every part of our family, our lives have been touch by bad news and bad vibes.  To say the least, its weighed on us all and affected us all.  If you are a family member reading this, you know what I'm talking about.  If you are a stranger out there in cyber world, all I can say is cancer, alcoholism, mental health issues, autism woes, teenage pregnancy, and just plain ole' bad luck wrapped in a perfect lil' package, tied neatly with a bow, was throw at us and exploded in a matter of months.  (And there was no receipt to return this nice gift....I looked.) We are surviving, but boy it has not been fun.  And when you are down on your luck, you start to look at things in a whole new light.  If you have been  down this path then you know exactly what I'm talking about.  Those moments when you look out at the world and wonder why everyone else is moving along like nothing happened, when your whole world just got turned upside.  Those moments when you wake up in the morning feeling okay until you remember the event/s that just happened the day before and your stomach drops yet again.  Those moments that just take time to heal and that supposedly make us better people in the end.  These are the moments that make you slow down and analyze life in general....and makes you say hmmmmmm.

During those hmmmmmm times, I decided that I needed a hobby.  Something to take my mind off of everything.  And after some soul searching I found just what I was looking for...chickens.  Yup, chickens.  Bet you couldn't have guessed that one, it was a shock to my family to say the least, but it was exactly what I needed. And who knew how amazing they could be? They are something that are mine (although my oldest also loves them and takes care of them), something they makes me laugh (seriously, these girls are hilarious) and something that provides a need (eggs anyone).  And while this blog is also my hobby, I am not forced each day to take time out to write on it, where as if I don't take the time to feed and nurture my flock, their feathers will get ruffled in not so nice a way.  And so everyday, I have to do my hobby.  I have to stop from the crazy and go outside, in the fresh air and take care of my chickens.  And so far its been awesome and I would recommend to anyone in a slump or going through a rough patch to pick up a hobby.  And although I highly recommend chickens....they may not be for everyone.  And as I sit outside, even now, enjoying my one hobby and watching my other hobby peck away, it makes me think of what other things in life could be simpler.  More enjoyable.  More peaceful.  More....well hell, fun!     

We all sort of put fun on the back burner when life gets crazy,  but fun is what reminds us who we are,  what we live,  and what life is suppose to be like.  Look at little kids.   They run around life happy and having non stop fun,  because they are not weighed down with all the shit. And so when life gets crazy,  I'm going to go out have some fun, change my life to make it better and then make an omelet in the morning. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

When life throws you lemons the size of watermelons.

I haven't written in a while.  Actually,  a very long time.  Life got too complicated and to stressful to even get a chance to vent or rant.  I have been lost in a sea of stress and overwhelming dread and when life seems to throw these watermelon sized lemons at me I know one thing. ... it's time for a change.

I've always believed that the world seems to send you little messages when you are doing the wrong thing.  Drive to fast for too long and you pass a really bad accident that makes you pause. Next,  maybe you get a ticket to warn you to slow down.   Keep if up and you will probably wreck..... life warned you.   Well my life seemed to be speeding by to fast with my family nearly being the victims in a horrible stress filled accident.  There have been many,  many tickets along the way that I sort of brushed off until the big one hit a few weeks ago.  Will I share,  maybe when the times right but what I can say is that the heard you universe loud and clear.

And so it's time for a change.   Details of that to follow soon.   Many more posts to come as well.  And trust me. ...I have some doozies.

Hope I haven't lost to many readers in my absence and hope this post finds you well!   Keep checking back for the house of crazies will be returning shortly!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Delusional, Dreamer or a Delusional Dreamer?

I have to say that I am writing this in a daze.  These last few weeks have been crazy busy between doctor's appointments, therapies, me starting back to work/school at WVU part time and many other things in between.  It actullay feels like time has passed on around me as I have stood still.  So many things I have on my to-do list are still there: to do.  It's frustrating and mind boggling all at once.  In my head, when I make plans "to do" whatever, it makes perfect sense and absolutely achievable, but in reality, is it?

This issue really came to light today when I had a nice meeting with my doctoral adviser this morning.  She wanted to discuss my time line to finishing up my PhD.  (If you didn't know I have been working on it for the last 5 years in the field of geochemistry.)  When I entered into the doctoral program I was a single white female with a dog.  Five years in, I'm a married mom with two kiddos on the spectrum, three dogs and two cats.  Needless to say, my life has changed.  And with that comes the reality that maybe I can't finish this doctoral thing.  Many, many times during these life changes I have come to a cross roads with my education:  should I complete it or should I wave the white flag?  Each time I say, yep, I am going to do it!  I am doing this for sure!!  I CAN do this!  I love this stuff and I have done so much and achieved so much, how could I stop now!  My husband says do it!  I will support you!  My family the same.  Yet days, weeks, months go by and I get nothing accomplished.  So am I delusional?  Am I just dreaming of another path my life could have taken?  Will I just not let go of my life before? Or can I really do this?

Now if you are pumped up on the" if you think it you can achieve it" jargon, then yes, I can do this.  But let me shed some light on reality.  Reality is five out of seven nights a week I get less that four hours sleep.
Seven nights of the week I get woken up at least twice for some reason.  Reality is my boys never stop.  And I mean NEVER STOP MOVING.  If you are a parent of an hyper active spectrum kid, then you get this.  If you are not, give your toddler a 2 liter bottle of Mountain Dew, with a huge chocolate bar, and two cans of Red Bull and you got yourself a hyper active aspie.  Reality is mom is main runner in the house since I only work/school part time, and hence is the doctor/therapy/appointments driver.  Reality is I still have clothes that have been dirty since Christmas that still have yet to be washed.  In essence, I can't keep up with life, how can I possibly finish my dissertation?  I have to be delusional.

And I think I am.  Actually, I think I'm a delusional dreamer, because today I heard myself say, yes I can do this, yet again.   Do I believe it? Sort of.  Does my adviser believe it? Sort of. It's just I have been saying it for so long and time keeps moving on and yet again, I feel like I, myself am standing still. It would be a dream to finish but is it really possible now?

The truth is I set out to do this education thing in what feels like a life-time ago; when things were a little easier (actually a lot) and there were less demands on me.  Now its different.  Before I planned on going to a school where I could teach and do major research, publish awesome papers and be a "rock" star scientist.  Now, I doubt I will be able to work full time for many, many years and would have to probably choose between research or teaching.  And so as I went through my day today in my zombie like tired state, I kept thinking of this meeting in the back of my head and wondering if this is even a reality or a dream that I need to give up on.

And so I asked myself this question: What would Oprah Do?  Yep, good ole' Oprah.  Don't laugh, we are the graduating generation from the school of Oprah.  When I asked myself the Winfrey question, I pictured myself on a couch next to Oprah answering her amazing "aaa-haa" pivoting questions that would let myself come to the right decision.  She would help my find my reality.  My zen.  And when I was done with my interview I would look into the cameras and say.......

I'm an idiot.  I am a delusional idiot, but I am pushing forward.  I am going to trudge through this as un-pretty, as un-organized and as un-timely as it is....darn it, I'm doing it.  I'm not giving up until they literally kick me out of the program and say, enough's enough.  I set out to do it and I'm going to show my kiddos this mom is awesome.  I think this sadistic, merciless dream, that I have started and am determine to finish, has quickly developed into something much more meaningful than a degree.  Basically, its turned into a big ole' middle finger to the obstacles that many times made me think twice about finishing.  It will be a shout out to autism to say, take that autism.  This family will take you on and laugh at you as we continue on in life successfully.  It's a "how about that" to all those who think that I can't, won't, or am stupid for thinking that I can do it.  And it will be a major, major victory for me to do something for just good ole me.  If I never do anything with it afterwards, its okay.  I still did it.  And so delusional dreamer I may be, but its what I am sticking with for this moment.  And fingers crossed, some margaritas down the hatch, and a whole lot of hope, I will someday soon I will be writing a victory speech on here.

And maybe when I'm done, I'll make the kids call me Dr. Mom!  ;)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

So we are not a family of Asperger's and bipolar??

If you remember back to your high school science days (sorry to make you do that) you may recall some fun loving terms like theory, law, and hypothesis.  These terms that we had to memorize and regurgitate on a test were an attempt to get us all to understand one basic concept; Science if forever changing and constantly evolving.  There are only a few thing in science that we think of as a Law, or something that will not change with time.  But these things are few and far between as science advances and integrates its disciplines.  This evolving process is not just true for chemistry, physics and geology, but for medicine too, and with that come some confusing diagnoses, a non-stop trail of different doctors appointments, and the notion that you need to keep an open mind if your family member has a chronic issue. 

Yesterday, I took my son to a leading group of doctors in the Pittsburgh region.  I took him to the Autism Center of The Children's Institute in Pittsburgh which is an affiliate of UPMC Children's Hospital and works in conjunction with multiple universities including University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon, and Stanford to name a few.  As with any doctor, if you Google the name of their leading physician, Dr Faber, you will see a plethora of love/hate articles about him from multiple different sources.  You will see some people swear by him and the practice and others who swear he is the devil in disguised.  I can't tell you why that is, but I wanted to do is to tell you why we decided to try it out, our experience, and some information that we learned. 

Dr Faber's center is a team of medical doctors that tries to address autism from every angle possible.  They do things like genetic testing, auto-immune responses and processes, brain structure, nutrient levels in the blood, heavy metal concentrations in the blood, overall health and a magnitude of other things. The idea is that autism, like many other conditions, is not just a "mental health" brain issue.  It's a fully integrated disorder that can be multi-faceted.  What the hell am I saying?  Well, we parents of autistic kids know that our kids can be very, very picky eaters (Shout out to Operation IFO).  So then, maybe they are not receiving all the key nutrients they need to have a healthy immune system.  If they do not have a healthy immune system, then he can have under lying illnesses like runny noses, sore throats, etc that can then make some of the symptoms of autism highlighted.  In other words, everything interplays and is connected in the body. 

This interacting thought process completely make sense to my husband and I.  As geologists, we look at the geological processes as open systems that are influenced by everything.  For instance, the continents move, this affects the ocean currents, which affects the weather, which affects the erosion rate, which affect the continents moving, so on and so forth in a cyclic pattern.  So for us, addressing autism in this manner is a no brainer.  Are they trying to cure Autism? No.  They are trying to better understand all the process of the body that are being affect and address them so that our kiddos can have the best chance possible.  This is the why we decided to give this place a try.  Because it was the only place we could find that looked at autism in this light.  But with every positive there is a negative, right?

Pittfall...there is a nine month to a year waiting list to see a doctor in this center.  Why?  Well because they are in such high demand and because they literally are not like any other doctor's office I have every been to. Each appointment is slotted for two hours.  That's right.  You will be in their office for at least two hours and if your appointment goes over because you have questions or something else comes to light, do worry.  There is an hour gap between appointments for just this reason.  Tell me the last time you saw a doctor that did that.  But of course that means they can not see as many kids in one day.  But for me that's okay.  It means that they really get to know you and your kiddos and your family.  I can tell you that I did get our appointment in four months though.  I managed this because you can get signed up for their cancelation list, which I did.  If another family has to cancel then you can take their appointment if the time works for you.  I also called every other week to see if there was a cancellation, and sure enough I happened to call and there was a cancellation that worked for us and in we went.

The other reason as to their long waiting list, is much like our family, if you have a family with multiple kiddos on the spectrum they try to get them all the siblings in to see them within a month time frame.  That way all of the offspring with be receiving therapy/treatment at once and to not offset each other.  They feel that if one is getting help and another is not, then behaviors, illnesses, etc can be transferred back and forth.  Kind of makes sense, right?

Another pitfall, which is truly all in how you look at it, is they sort of expect you to follow through with everything they want you to do.  This can be a wide array of things like blood testing, MRIs, OT/speech therapies, wrap-around services, ABA therapies, diet changes, supplements, etc.  If you don't then they really can't say what they feel like the whole picture is being portrayed.  For us, this makes sense too and is no problem but for many posts I have read to other families it is too much.

So that is who they are and why we what did we learn.  Actually, its too much to state in one blog and I will continue to write about things as we go, but I first want to share two huge things that were unraveled for us yesterday. 

If you are in the autism community, I am sure you have heard of the new diagnosing tool DSM-V or DSM-5 changed its criteria for diagnosing autism and the reasons why people love it or hate it.  This new system eliminated Asperger's, PDD-NOS, classic autism and other such varieties of autism, instead there is only autism.  Just one big ole classification of autism, with a classification of either mild, moderate or severe.  If you are like me, this whole notion confused the hell out of me.  So, my son/sons no longer have Asperger's?  What does this mean and why then does he have this long list of other thing under his autism diagnosis?

Thankfully, this was explained in detail to me yesterday so I can fully understand my son's condition.  Why they changed it was in a attempt to address that each kiddo with autism is completely different from the next.  One might have sensory issues, the other not.  That in essence they are trying to eliminate the cookie cutter approach to the treatment of autism because it doesn't work.  Just because one child as Asperger's doesn't mean that he will have sensory issues and vice versa.  So instead, based on verbal standings, social interactions, obsessive conditions, and other such things, they can diagnose autism and then state the underlying conditions.  For instance, my oldest son has mild autism, with tendency for ADHD, obsessive compulsive, sensory issues, and high cognitive ability.  Does he have ADHD, no not necessarily, but this is how his autism expresses itself.  Does he have obsessive compulsive disorder, no, but his autism presents like that.  Advantage to this system, that no matter where my son goes, to this family doctor, to his OT specialist, to his school, they will know exactly the things that affect my child with one diagnosis, where before they just knew he had autism and figure out the others stuff on their own.  Once it was all explained, it made more sense I honestly understood what autism looks like for my child better than I did before.  I wanted to share this with you because I figured I couldn't be the only parent out there that was confused by all these changes.

The next thing that was extremely eye opening to us was that my husband may not have bipolar disorder.  A yeah, that's right, he might have autism and in fact it is quite likely that he has had undiagnosed autism his whole life.  Part of the process that this center does in genetic testing.  Now let me explain there is not a gene for autism, but instead there are genetic conditions that can really be expressed when autism is found.  For instance, there might be a deletion of genes that is hereditary that causes the body to not produce melatonin, certain hormones that control pain and fatigue and other things like that.  My son has NEVER been able to sleep for more than two to four hours before we started to give him melatonin.  He can run non-stop for hours and never get tired, and has an extremely high pain tolerance.  Remember the knife cutting stuff?  All these things can point to the fact that get might lack certain genes that make the body produce the hormones to allow his brain to recognize he is tired, sleepy, etc.  So what does this have to do with my husband?  Well, if it comes back that he and my other son have this deletion of genes, then it was passed down from one of us.  In adults, this deletion of genes with autism causes for a "bipolar" like expression.  Extreme uncontrollable anger, lack of sleep, obsessive nature on certain things almost like a mania, because the body is not producing the correct hormones that it needs to tell the brain what it should be doing.  And in undiagnosed adults, a high percentage of them are miss-diagnosed with bipolar or manic depression.  What?  That's right, it is extremely likely given my son's symptoms that if he lack these genes, which were probably passed down from my husband who struggles with the same issues, and more than likely my husband also has adult autism.  Now, they are NOT saying that autism is genetic, well not at least entirely.  Having the deletion of these genes with some other factors probably allowed the autism to be expressed.  Confusing, right?  It took the doctor an I about ten minutes of round and round questions for me to get this completely understood, so don't feel bad.  But the big deal for us is, after a few short questions my husband's bipolar disappeared and the recommendation of him to be diagnosed with autism happened.  In other words, I walked in the doctor's office with a blog name that made sense and walked out with a blog name that's one big fat lie!  And for us this makes sense.  I can't tell you how many times we have talked about how much my husband is like the boys or the boys are like my husband, we just never knew the whys and how's of it.  Now we are unlocking those and might have some really awesome answers shortly.

What a day!  It was not what I was expecting on multiple levels, but we walked out with a positive experience and have already gotten our baby an appointment to see them soon.  Whether you believe in this stuff or don't, its always good to know what's out there and to keep an open mind, so I will continue to share things we learn on this journey.  I didn't want to include in all in one post, but I also got a good list of dentists who are specialized in kids with autism around the Pittsburgh areas that I will post and share, a detailed lists of genetic tests that can be done and all the other things that we are learning about brain structure, etc.  Knowledge is the key to anything and what's knowledge if you don't share it!

So about that my blog name....we can't decide to change it or keep it, but I can tell you one thing, margaritas therapy in my home is LAW and isn't going anywhere!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

If one, then why not two....

I have always been one of those people who think if you have one of something then why not just have two.  I really have applied this concept seamlessly through all aspects of my life.  If I have one chip, why not two.  If I have one dog, why not two (to keep each other company of course).  If I have one cat, well two has to be worked for the chips and the dogs.  So then when it comes to autism if I have one with it, then why not two. 

For a couple of months now we have noticed a few things about our baby that have been a little bit of a red flag.  Most of the time, we did exactly what we did with our aspie, we blamed it on anything we could think of.  Oh, its just the terrible twos.  Oh, he didn't sleep well last night.  Oh, he must be hungry.  And every other excuse you can think of.  But as the excuses started rolling of my husband, our parents and even my tongue, I felt like deja vou all over again and I knew I had to start looking at the obvious.  Fact was, baby was showing signs of autism.  Fact was, our in home therapist saw it and helped us in her ever so sweet way by putting up with all of our "is this normal" questions and helping us get our heads wrapped around the possibility of having two on the spectrum.  And although one would think that since we already have one aspie, then it wouldn't be too emotional with getting the other one diagnosed.  But to be truthful, it was harder. 

Unfortunately and unfairly we just assumed that our baby was going to be the "normally" one.  We took this on faith because the original doctor that diagnosed our aspie told us that having another aspie is like winning the lottery, chances are slim to none.  (But now we know that its actually the exact opposite.  Chances are higher if one boy has Asperger's and the younger siblings are boys.)  And so to see our baby start to struggle and do "odd" things was actually unbelievable at first.  "But the doctor said it was really not a chance", when we would question something.  And "he's just mimicking his brother", when we would question something else.  It just can't be.  It just can't.  But it was.  And really the things he was/is doing was undeniably happening.  Here's a list of a few so you can understand why it was so glaring to us even when we wanted to be blind.

  1. Every morning he wakes up immediately wants to get dressed with his snow boots, then go into the bathroom while I get ready to line up lotion bottles in a basket on counter.  Then he lines up the toilet paper rolls.  Same routine everyday, never changing.
  2. He has no interest in toys except for trains.  And he only builds them and rebuilds them and pushes them around.  Other toys he just throws or ignores.
  3. He eats anything and everything.  Pencil erasers, stinkbugs, springs, marker tips, toys, etc.
  4. He hates loud noises. 
  5. He cries uncontrollably if something he watches on TV goes off.  When I say uncontrollably, I mean for hours on end asking for the same show.  Tantrums can last up to 3 hours until we give in or I take him for a car ride.
  6. He is the clumsiest kid I know.  He falls walking.  He is so used to us asking if he is okay that he states, "I'm okay!" before we even ask.
  7. He is extremely smart.  He is two, knows his colors, shapes, body parts, alphabet, numbers, trains, and is starting to read.
And so when it was time to be diagnosed, when we couldn't deny it anymore, I fell into a bit of a depression.  I didn't know how I was going to do it.  I didn't know how my husband, our family, and our aspie was going to handle it.  And the idea of ever being normal just went flittering away.  But then I started thinking, what the hell is normal anyway.  This is our normal.  When you know no different it is your normal anyway.  And we handled anything.  We got through worse, we can get through this too.  And so, I started feeling better.....oh and the anti-depressants I got put on probably didn't hurt either. 

And so, if one, then why not two......

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Why's pointless.

This is going to be a short one, but one that I think about each and every day I live.  Why in the hell do I clean?  Honestly!?  Every morning I pick up the kitchen, put away toys, vacuum, and do laundry.  On given days I dust this room and that and none of it lasts for more than 5 seconds!  That's it....I am NOT joking.

Today, I almost lost it.  Well, actually people might have thought that I did because I posted a free ad on my Facebook page.  As I was starting my routine in the kitchen I kept hearing this clinking noise.  The noise was the kiddos breaking Christmas bulbs and they took them off the tree and then threw them back at the tree to see if they could hit and then break the other bulbs.  I lost it!  "What are you doing!!!???" I yelled as I watched the baby throw a bulb and my aspie jumping up and down and yelling, "Good Job!" to his little brother when one of the bulbs on the tree broke.  "Not a good job", I announced.  "We don't break the bulbs. They can cut us and plus then our tree will not be decorated.  How will Santa know we are sincere?"  (From my older post.)  "Mom, we are having fun.  And besides, we can just buy more bulbs at the store where we got these ones from." 

I immediately grabbed my phone and posted this to Facebook:

FREE to a good home: two over excited over zealous toddlers who are cute but tons of trouble. Little one will eat you out of house and home and big one will out smart you on a daily basis. Beware no return policy and cuteness is deceiving. Contact immediately if interested!

I did have some takers but no one has stopped to pick them up yet....

**Like my page on Facebook and leave me you cleaning stories or the disasters your kiddos have created.  Four legged kids messy accepted as well!!!***

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Christmas Magic

Christmas is such a magical time of the year.  I have always loved it and try to make it a really special time for my family.  It is then by no surprise that our aspie loves the holiday season.  He honestly loves all the holidays, but Christmas for him is the pinnacle.  You could say that he is a Christmas expert.  He knows every Christmas tale, can tell you specific facts about Santa, his elves, his reindeer and knows the words to pretty much all holiday carols new and old.  Everyday he wakes up and asks if its Christmas eve  even though we have a calendar in the dining room. When I say no not yet, he then runs to check to see if "Blaze" our elf on the shelf moved from the previous day's location signaling his trip back from the North Pole.  It's actually awesome to see his excitement and curiosity towards the holiday; the only issue being that our son is too smart for his own good causing his father and I to scramble for answers to questions or comments that arise when one movie conflicts another or when toy advertisements come in and he happens to see them.

I used to love getting the Sears catalog when I was little to see all the toys in it and to circle things I wanted from Santa.  It was awesome, and yet not once did I wonder how the toys in the store were the same toys that Santa brought. Santa and his elves are suppose to make these wonderful toys in his workshop and yet you can buy them in a store?  And honestly I still never thought of it until my aspie came to me one day with the Toys R' Us catalog stating that he wanted to go to the store to buy a certain toy.  "Well honey, Santa is coming soon so maybe we should put it on your Santa wish list."  "Mommy (said in a whine), these toys are not made by Santa they are made by com-pa-nies (still not getting the word out well).  Santa doesn't make these toys, he makes toys you can't get in stores."  It was at this point that not only did I panic thinking of the stack of toys I have in the basement, but also a light bulb went off for the many things he keeps telling us he wants that we can not figure out where he is getting it from.

If you ask our aspie what he wants from Santa he will tell you he wants a long fluffly blue sword, a toy switch blade knife and a new Kindle.  Everyone in the family has been scratching their heads trying to understand where these toy ideas came from.  We have asked him, "Honey, where have you seen this sword/knife?"  "No where, its what I want, Santa knows."  Okay, as we have googled, searched and questions again about fluffly swords online.  It was then, when he made that comment did I realize that he understands that stores have certain toys and the magic of Santa can create whatever toy he wants.

Yep, we are so totally screwed.  We have tried to convince him that the toys from the companies are different elf families that make the toys.  For instance, Mattel, Fisher Price, etc are all different elf families.  It didn't go over to well, which led to more questions about the elves and their families and then the viewing of a few more Christmas movies to see if they mention the elves.  It then also led to the question of why can you buy these toys in stores.  We told him that the magic of Christmas doesn't go away just because the day is over and Santa sends the toys to the stores to kids can have toys any day of the year if they are good and earn it.  "Then why do we have to buy them?"  "Because that is how Santa earns the money to pay the elves."  "No Mommy, elves work for cookies."  "Well, how do you think Santa gets the money to buy all those cookies?"  And around and around and around we went until finally I think he just got tired of talking.  Since talking is not his favorite thing, that was probably the longest conversation I have had with my aspie ever. 

So our Christmas morning should be pretty interesting.  Hopefully he will be completely excited and forget all these questions and just enjoy the day.  I am sure he will along with the rest of us. 

And presents and toys have not been our only issue.  The issue of Santa being here, there and everywhere is also an a major concern for our aspie.  Why is Santa coming to my school?  Why is Santa at the store?  Santa lives at the North Pole and is busy this time of year.  Why won't they (people) leave him alone?  All these questions keep popping up so my husband and I decided not to take our aspie or the baby to see Santa this year.  Unfortunately, these Santa questions make our aspie aggravated and that it not what we want to happen, which can in times ruin his whole outlook on a specific subject.  For instance, his baby brother started playing with trains, the "wrong" way and our aspie stopped playing with trains for good.  Just like that.  No looking back.  And so we do NOT want that to happen to his love of Christmas.  If something would go wrong or someone would say the wrong thing, he could just be done with Christmas, as quick as a blink. 

And so with Christmas only 10 days away our house is gearing up with excitement of that magical day.  Our house looks like Christmas threw up on it, with every room being decorated.  And even with all these decorations, our aspie still says that we could use more because he is worried Santa won't think we are sincere enough.  (Wondering where that comes from, it comes from Charlie Brown's The Great Pumpkin Patch, where Linus wants to show the Great Pumpkin that he has the dearest and most sincere pumpkin patch.)  And instead of cookies, our aspie wants to leave Santa a healthy snack because he is worried that Santa will get a belly ache from all the cookies and won't be able to fit down the chimney. 

I mean the kids isn't obsessed and thought of every detail or anything.  I am sure there is something he has left out and will think of before D-Day.  But still there is something so amazing watching your kiddos get so excited for the holidays.  It honestly is magical.  I hope that all of you find some magic this holiday season! So from our house of crazies to yours have a very Merry Christmas!


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A mouse in the house

We have a wonderful in-home therapist.  Her name is Ms. Nicole and she has made a HUGE difference with our aspie, who loves her dearly.  He quickly grew attached to her and when she is here, you will find him sitting in Ms. Nicole's lap while they are working.  Not only has Nicole gotten close to our aspie but she has also been extremely efficient in conquering some of my aspie's biggest issues.  Nicole came up with a way to handle our aspie's obsession of knives, has gotten him to say hello and goodbye when people come and go from our home, and has gotten him to write his name legibly in the last three or so months she has been with us.  She is so sweet, quiet and understanding and has become a member of our family since she is her nearly every morning in our home.  She even goes out with us when we think our aspie might have a hard time, like to birthday parties or trick or treating, and is planning on working on our aspie's ability to go to different stores in the near future.  Since she has become a member of our family, she gets to be here with the good times, the bad and unfortunately for her, the often occurring weird and unusual things that occur in our crazy family.  Her first experience of the un-normal was in October when we had a bat in the house.  She held the kiddos at bay while my husband and I wrangled the beast outside, and just the other day she was there again when another, smaller visitor came to visit. 

Before Nicole's arrival on Black Friday, I was vacuuming when I spotted a tiny cute field mouse in our dining room.  I guessed I had scared it with the vacuum cleaner because it went running across the room and stopped in front of me like a deer in headlights.  And although it was cute, it scared the crap out of me since I wasn't expecting it, causing me to scream as well.  My husband came running in to see what my shrill was over just in time to see our guest scurry around the corner into a foyer and under the toy box.  He looked but couldn't find it so we figured it had run some place else and we both knew it was time to set up some traps after the kids went to bed.  When Nicole got there we informed her of our furry friend so if it made an appearance again she would have my same reaction. 

A couple hours into their work, and during one of my son's breaks, Ms Nicole calmly and quietly said, "Umm, it's back."  Not being so calm my husband and I went running into the dining room to again watch the mouse run back to the foyer and under the toy box.  This time though our running made the boys curious and caused them to come running as well.  They made it in time to spot the mouse too.  "How cute!" the baby squawked.  "It's Jerry!" our aspie yelled.  "Jerry is here," referring to Jerry from the Tom and Jerry cartoon. From their excitement it became quickly apparent that a non-lethal method of removal was going to be necessary for our four legged friend.  Since the mouse was on the run, all of us kept spotting it going from here to there making the kiddos even more excited about our house guest, and so we had to be proactive and decided to hunt down the mouse before our kids decided to catch "Jerry" themselves.

Armed with Tupperware, my husband and I positioned ourselves on either side of the toy box and Ms Nicole had the kids on the steps so they could look over to watch.  With a yard stick, my husband nudged the mouse and got him running into my direction with the plan that I would set the Tupperware bowl overtop of the mouse trapping him.  Well, that was the plan anyway.  In reality, here is what happened.

Mouse came running towards me at an un-godly speed which made me jump, scream and miss the mouse.  Our dog Charlie (who loves to hunt) spotted the mouse, smashed through our lane of toys to force the mouse towards me and started biting at the mouse.  By this point the kids were screaming and Ms. Nicole had the brains to jump onto Charlie stopping him from grabbing the mouse.  The mouse had run back towards my husband who was now stuck under the toy box in the attempt to block the mouse.  With Ms. Nicole holding back Charlie and laughing her ass off, the kids escaped the steps, still screaming and now were climbing on top of my husband, who was still pinned, trying to look to find out if the mouse was okay.  I, who always thought of myself as calm in chaotic situations, was just sitting on the floor in a daze not sure what was going on wishing I had gone Black Friday shopping.  Once I came to I realized the mouse must have been just as confused because it was running back and forth down the lane of toys not knowing what to do.  Finally, after my hubs got the kids off of him and he sat up, Ms Nicole had Charlie calmed down, and I got my wits to me, we watched as the mouse came to a stop, in a white flag raising style, and allowed my husband to place the plastic bowl over top of him.  We slid a piece of cardboard under the bowl and I carried the mouse outside to release back into the wild.  Dazed, the mouse and I exchanged a look for quite some time before I finally left him there.  As I walked away I swear the mouse had a look of both thankfulness and pity on his face.  The kids watched him from a window for some time while the mouse bathed himself, and finally went on his way to his  other "home". 

And so, I think we can officially say the Ms. Nicole is a member of the house of crazies.  She has been here and survived some of the weirdest things that occurs in our home and has lived to tell about it.  And to boot, she comes back!  Thanks Ms. Nicole!  We hope you enjoy your birthday on Saturday and wouldn't know what to do without you!  And always remember, you never know what each day will bring, but we can promise you it will never get boring!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Am I thankful for Autism?

Tis' the season where we start to wonder and contemplate about what we are thankful for with Thanksgiving being right around the corner.  I see lists and thankful posts flying around social media like a contagious yawn and it got me wondering....what am I thankful for beside the obvious.  Of course I am thankful for my family, our friends, our health, having food, etc, but what else besides that. Am I thankful for all that other stuff that affects our life everyday?  Am I thankful for autism?  Am I thankful for bipolar?  Would I change it if I could? 

Really these are horrible questions to ask because they can down right drive you crazy.  But come on, I am sure if you ask any family out there that is dealing with things like this they have asked themselves these same questions.  It's only normal.  So what have I come up I thankful?  Well yes and no. 

These syndromes come with their ups and downs, and no doubt they at least make life interesting.  Without them my world might seem boring and routine.  I would be worrying about whether or not my snack tray was liked at the local PTA meeting or what to wear at this year's Christmas party; not wondering if I should pass out Prozac at the door when our 15 guests show up for Thanksgiving dinner for them to handle our crazy house for the evening.  But then again, life might be a little simpler and things like running to the store wouldn't be a major three act production. The answer to these questions are not that simple.  But if you look at the silver lining of these disorders there are a few amazing things that I have found that I am absolutely thankful for. 

Over this last year I have watched my husband  grow and change in ways that I never thought I would and for that I am extremely thankful.   My husband hid his bipolar for many, many years and this year decided to embrace it; which has overall made him more comfortable in his own skin.  He has taken responsibility for his bipolar and has been able to recognize when things are going amiss.  He knows when to leave, when to take time for himself and because of that our whole family has been healthier for it.  If takes a very strong person to do that.  To take on something as powerful as bipolar and not let it control him, but to learn how to deal with it to the best of his ability.  AND to recognize that his family needs him to do it.  For that I am sooo thankful!  (Next year maybe I will be able to post that I am thankful that no inanimate objects have been thrown but I am not holding my breath.)  Now would I cure my husband?  Yes, yes I would.  And only because when he is down he wishes he did not have it.  Knowing that makes me wish I could give him a magical potion and take his pain away in a swallow, but I can't.  So instead I will be his rock until that day when I find a genie in a lamp and wish it away for him.

Of course I am thankful for both my boys, they both make me proud and grateful that they are mine everyday.  When I question whether or not I am thankful for my apsie's autism it puts me in a very uncomfortable position.  I think in a way I feel guilty for even questioning it, but in reality no parent wants their child to have to have anything "wrong" with them.  Every parent wants their child to go through like with no struggles, and grow up in a world of rainbows an unicorns, but that is not reality.  Reality is, he has autism.  He will struggle everyday. Some days will be easier than others, but everyday it will be something.  But the thing is, it is much like the riddle which came first the chicken or the egg, when the answer is neither, one cannot exist without the other, my son will never exist without Asperger's, its a part of him.  I am not waiting around for a cure neither.  Why?  Personally I believe it is not my decision but will be his if one day they ever find one.  So why concern myself with it now.  Instead I will make available every therapy I can that might help him with what causes him problems and we will work together to get through the rough times.  And as he grows and continues to make progress I will be thankful for everything that he does that amazes me everyday!  I am privileged to watch my aspie's brain work in ways that I never dreamed humanly possible.  My aspie can remember anything and everything ever really spoken.  He will bring up things that happened when he was two that my husband and I struggle to  remember.  He can solve a 250 piece puzzle in under five minutes, and can take almost anything apart and put if back together if he desires too.  He can recite the words from any movie or TV show he has watched and now songs that he finds interest in and that are not too loud.  (These are mainly holiday songs since he is still not fond of the radio.)  He sees the detail in everything and loves nature and magical things like Christmas like no one else I know.  He is amazing, and if autism gave him that, then I am thankful.

I am a logical person in many ways, which I guess is what makes me a good scientist. I believe in the laws of physics and think that they affect all of our lives in all different ways.  Physics tells us that everything has equal and opposite reactions, and so with the good comes the bad.  No one has a perfect life.  No one.  But overall when I look at mine, I am so very thankful.  My life is stressful no doubt and if I wanted I think I have every right to rock in a dark corner and claim insanity on any given day.  (And there are certain days that I want to do that!)  But overall, I am thankful for my family and all the labels that come with them........and for  the big bottle of margaritas the local liquor store keeps in stock for me. 

Happy Thanksgiving!! 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Brother Showdown

Our apsie is very particular and hates change.  Most kiddos and adults with autism are like this.  They have things lined up a certain way, arranged by color/shape/size or whatever their preference may be.  If we let him our aspie would have our entire house situated to his liking, but we have enforce the rule that he can only "fix" his room and no where else.  His room then is his savior.  It's his comfortable place where is actually does spend a lot of his time. 

Being also that our aspie LOVES Christmas and the holiday seasons, we have allowed him to decorate his room.  He earned a little blue foil tree (that I think is horrendously ugly) that he loves because its blue and has lights.  He also earned LED colored lights that we strung around his desk.  He also through the years gathered a few decorations that he put around his little tree on his night stand.  One of these decorations is a large plastic bulb that is open on one side, has a train that goes around a Christmas tree and plays songs if you hit a button.  Problem is the baby has discovered that he too loves this decoration. 

When we found this decoration this season the fight was on immediately when the baby discovered this awesome new toy in our aspie's room. Baby would take the bulb, aspie would cry and scream, aspie would chase baby around the house trying to get it, baby would run crying, aspie would tackle the baby if parents were to slow to stop it and so on and so forth.  (By the way, this running and chasing always seems to occur when I am in the bathroom or cooking.  It's like they know the perfect time to break into a bloody battle.  Look she is busy now, lets get into it!)  We have tried to work out a sharing of the bulb, but this really upsets our aspie as well because 1. he does not want the baby in his room to play with it and 2. if the baby leaves his room with the bulb, then the bulb is not is its right place in his room nor in its place on a night stand.  Its a mess. 

Therefore, our aspie decided to take the issue into his own hands and make a "lock" on his door so that his brother can not come in to steal the toy.  He took the dog's leash, attached it to his door knob and then pulled it around his desk and under his chair so that the door can only be opened a crack.  Of course anyone larger in size can push the door open, but the baby is stopped.  I actually thought it was pretty smart idea and sort of gave into the new locking situation and figured it would help stop the fights in the meantime.  Oh how wrong I was. 

This morning the baby woke up at his normal 6:30 am wake up time.  I felt him slither out of bed (yes we are still working on getting the baby out of our bed) and make way for the door.  Since he didn't wake me up I knew something was up.  I quietly followed him out of the room where I saw him walk up to his brother's bedroom door.  I watched as the baby pushed the door as far as it would go, squeeze himself through the crack and make way for the bulb.  I heard the words, "Got it!" in his baby slurrish voice and them heard him scurrying back.  He couldn't fit the bulb back through the door so he followed the leash under the desk and knocked the chair down to undo the lock.  He then grabbed the bulb and went running like a bat out of hell.  I couldn't help but to laugh watching my little cat burglar in process. 

I am not sure if it was my laughing or the chair getting knocked down but my aspie woke up.  He must have sensed the disruption in the decoration force because he looked over at his night stand, let out a loud "UUUGGGG!" and went darting out of his room saying, "What is wrong with this baby!" 

After I broke up a wrestling match that pursued I took the bulb from the both of them and put it up for the time being until I can get the baby something of his own. 

After all the crying was done with and "normalcy" returned to our home I couldn't help to laugh as I drank my coffee.  It was like the baby had it planned out before he went to bed.  I could only imagine him thinking you may go to sleep after me big bro but I wake up first! 

I know that fighting over things is a normal part of sibling hood but I never realized how much planning was involved in the fights.  Apparently a lot.  Oh and for the icing on the aspie is currently up in his room devising another "lock" for his door that is more baby proof!

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Changing times changes lives.

When you have kids your life changes completely.  I know I heard soooo many people say that to me when we were pregnant.  In fact, I got to hate hearing it.  Oh no, I would think to myself.  I am going to be that one in a million that doesn't let my offspring change the amount of time I spend with my friends, with my family, on my work....I will be able to do it all.  I will be the one person that will NOT let my life change just because I have a baby.  And I honestly can say, that I walked into the delivery room believing that.  And then I pushed out a baby along with every other delusional idea and notion I had with what life was going to be like with a family.  For folks out their about to have a baby or are thinking about having a baby...don't be scared.  I, like every other parent, allowed my life to change willingly.  One cute like burp, a smile, ten lil' piggies and you're a goner.  You will do what ever you need to do to make your little munchkin' happy and healthy, even if it means giving up you old life and to start a new chapter. 

Granted there are days where you catch yourself longing for some of your old self back.  The partying, the shopping, the long soaks in the bath with out a rubber ducky falling on your get my drift.  And I'm not going to say there are not days where this life is just way to much reality,  and you catch yourself imaging how life would be if you did this or that differently. But then your kiddos sense that they are about to get thrown out with the trash and do something incredibly cute like hold your face in their hands and give you a big fat, wet, cheerio kiss and your back to your reality happy as ever.  What strikes me funny are the small things that didn't effect me without kids but are game changers now that we do; for instance, the time change!

If you don't live in a state, country or region that follows day light savings time, let me explain.  Twice a year we change our clocks ahead an hour or behind an hour to allow for the most sunlight possible during our waking hours.  It started a long time ago to help farmers and now we do it for electricity and economical purposes (or so I think and if I am wrong someone please explain to me why we do this).

Daylight savings never really affecting me before I had kids.  In fact, it was usually something I kind of looked forward to because it meant an extra hour sleep, an extra hour at a bar, or an hour less of a date during the weekend of the change.  But after I had kids I now dread it.  In fact I FEAR it!  My husband and I whisper about it like it has ears, thinking if we don't speak to loudly maybe, just maybe we can sneak past it and the kids will not realize it has happened.  And yet they do, and our lives go crazy for about a week.

It can't be that bad, you are probably thinking to yourself.  Oh yes it is, I will argue back.  Unfortunately, the kids internal clocks don't change even though our physical wall hanging ones do.  And if you happen to have a special needs child who thrives in routines, structure and concrete ideals, then this internal clock needs a sledge hammer to break the old schedule and to start a new one. 

My kids are so different on how they handle it that I have to describe them separately to paint the whole picture.  So first, let's tackle the baby.  Our baby has always had an amazing set sleeping and eating schedule.  Wakes up at 6:30am, eats, sleeps at 12:30pm, eats, eats, eats, goes to bed at 8:30pm.  He typically goes with the flow with everything else in life, but mess with his eating and sleeping schedule and you get one crazed psycho baby that uses his bottle as a lethal weapon towards anyone or anything that might make him mad.  So, during the time change, baby then wakes up at 5:30 and I try to stall him in the bed for as long as possible, but of course the means I am messing with his breakfast so he starts to get mad.  For nap, I try to push it back some, and crankiness get worse.  The crankiness continues throughout the day as I try to adjust his schedule.  By the end of the first day of our "new" time the baby is walking around shouting random words and swinging his bottle around like a drunken sailor.  Enough said for the baby.

Now for our aspie.....weeeellll it's a little different, and what he is going through currently is partly my fault.  About a year back we were really having problems with our aspie sleeping.  He just could not sleep.  IF he fell asleep at midnight, he was up at 4am.  IF he fell asleep at 8:30pm, then he was up at 12:30am.  We tried everything we could think of to try to get him on a schedule and to sleep. I even came up with some rules so that my hubs and I could get some sleep. And for aspies, most rules are pretty well followed.   Rule #1:  When the sun is up we are awake.  Rule #2:  When the sun is down, we must be home in our bedroom starting to relax or if you wake up when the sun is down you must stay in your room.  The sun's position is something my aspie could see for himself and hence it helped with time recognition.  It was also concrete and could not be argued. This and melatonin has really helped him with his sleep and we are now on a really great bedtime/morning routine.  It started getting dark, we would take a bath and get ready for bed.  When the sun is up, my aspie would emerge from his room ready to go. 

We realized we might have a problem with this wonderful "follow the sun" idea I had when we were at the Pirate baseball game for his birthday.  The sun was starting to set earlier and by 7:30 my aspie was rocking in his seat upset that it was getting dark and he wasn't home in his room.  We actually had to leave the game in the 4th inning because of it.  It kept happening every where we went, and my great idea to follow the sun turned into one major problem when we changed our clocks on Sunday.  Since the sun is up at 6:00, so is my aspie which means he is ready for his day, including school, free time and everything in between...oh about 3 hours to soon.  5:30pm and you can find my aspie in his room naked as a jay bird relaxing in his bed waiting to fall asleep, about 3 hours too soon.  Trying to "adjust" his schedule comes with meltdowns that are not just the swinging of a bottle.  Oh no!  This is potty accidents, writing on the walls, not eating, fighting to do anything kind of meltdowns.  Damn sun and damn government Day Light Saving time!

So here we are in day four of trying to convince my aspie that although the sun is "asleep" we can still be up for a few more hours with the family and although the sun is up, its "waking" up a bit early.  It's not going so well.  Actually, its not "going" at all.   But with the help of a digital clock schedule so he can look at numbers on the clock and match them to his schedule, not the sun, we are hoping to be situated in a few days...weeks...months....who know really. 

So, it's the little stuff.  It's the little stuff that gets you every time if you think about it.  The little things like a time idea that you think will help your kiddo....a little bundle of joy to comes into your life one day.  Yep, the little stuff.  Who knew.  I sure as heck didn't, but I can tell you that I have learned this.  Things change and you can't stop it from happening.  So do your best and know the sun will always come up tomorrow.