Friday, November 16, 2012

Cheese moments

Im checking out the new blogger App on my phone and hoping it handles pictures better then it used to. I used to update a lot more frequently when I could type on the fly as I sat in lines, waited for appointments and all those other boring mommy things. ;) when the old App
randomly started deleting my posts halfway through typing them I gave up hope of using it. You don't want to see me angry after my post gets deleted. I tend to have a temper about those sorts of things.

Odin's latest Spongebob drawing

He drew this all from memory. I'm impressed but I know I'm biased. ;)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Anxiety and Autism

My children and I both have anxiety along with autism. It certainly makes things harder at times, especially as a parent.

Today for instance, I've been waiting approximately 8 hours for a parent teacher conference this afternoon. Likely it will be an in and out meeting and I don't expect any negative news. I've even met the teacher already at an IEP meeting so she is familiar. It doesn't stop the anxiety however. I've been antagonizing over what to wear all day, when realistically I know it doesn't really matter what I wear. I'm not trying to impress anyone, rather I'm trying to fit in. It seems I'll be chasing that for the rest of my life. Fitting in isn't something that comes naturally to me.

Standing among all those other parents in the hallways amplifies how different I am from them. They look bored or irritated, but never anxious. Then I wonder how I look to them. Do I look angry too? I adjust my facial expressions to try to find a middle ground. Not too excited and happy (after all its a parent teacher conference not an Oscar) but not too grumpy that I seem hostile. I realize I've been staring at someone for far too long and quickly look away as they try to meet my gaze. Now I'm extremely uncomfortable and wondering if I really have to stay in this hallway. Surely one of my kids has to use the bathroom? Any excuse to escape the anxiety I'm feeling. For at least the next 5 minutes I'm in the bathroom helping my kiddos with autism work through their anxiety about the toilets flushing. I help my 4 year old cover his ears while pulling up his pants at the same time. He starts to freak out anyway and he doesn't calm down until we are safely away from the bathroom. My 9 year old dd with autism doesn't scream anymore, but she avoids flushing at all costs. She has yet to face her fear of an overflowing toilet. (which nearly happened once years ago and she never got over it.)

Finally my turn comes when they call my name. It always feels awkward when they say my  name. I wonder if I moved forward fast enough or if I should have taken longer. Did I jump forward? That would be embarrassing. I piggyback on my childrens excitment and fake a smile as the teacher says hello to me. She introduces herself and I smile and forget to introduce myself. (I mentally kick myself when I realize my mistake) I wonder why her hand is extended to me and then I remember that people like to shake hands when they meet. I put mine forward but I can already tell that the window has passed and now its just really weird.  She's staring at me while she's talking and I wonder if she blinks. I remember to blink but then wonder if I'm blinking too much, staring too much, or looking away at the right moments. The pause in the conversation indicates that I've missed something and its now my turn to speak up and say... what?? I have no idea what this moment calls for. I panic inside. I say, "What was that again?" and hope its not a really stupid question. No I don't have any questions. Except maybe if she could give me everything she just said on paper so that I can read it myself. I was concentrating so hard on making sure I was blinking and responding appropriately that I couldn't comprehend or remember anything that was said. I immediately feel like an idiot, but I manage to smile again and I gathered my things to get ready to leave. I feel so proud with myself that I remembered to say, "Thank you for your time, I appreciate it." before I left the room.

I rely on my children to know how to enter and exit the school. I probably will never be able to walk to their classroom on my own, or know how to leave the building quickly. I'm lost as soon as I start down the hallway. Luckily my children are far better at remembering directions then I am and I'm thankful I have them with me today. In fact, not bringing them was never an option. If it wasn't for that 5 minute break or their distractions I might never be able to get through the conference. Without distractions that I'm used to, the anxiety soars. Its one of the reasons why I usually take my son with me when I run errands. It gives me someone to focus on instead of my own social awkwardness. As my children grow up, I'm wondering how I will take this transition to being without them by my side. Will I adjust, or will I be left totally isolated?

Most likely no one even notices the anxiety that I feel inside. I try very hard to mask my uncomfortableness and only those close to me truly understand how hard I push myself. 

Monday, November 05, 2012

Happy 3rd Birthday PJ

Persephone had a birthday party yesterday, she celebrated turning three years old. Gramma and Grampa came, and Auntie and uncle Matt, and cousins Sarah and Katrina, and some friends. She loved all her presents, her favorites being the stroller and dolls that we bought her, and the playdough from auntie. Gramma made her a castle cake that was yummy and pretty, and everyone had fun hanging out together and talking. It was a good birthday party.

The only one who was a little off was Odin. He's been a handful lately. I'm not sure if its just the age and transitioning or if it was the excitement of having auntie stay with us a few days and then a party. He has turned from a little boy into a BOY. The kind that likes to wrestle and fight. We have dubbed him the Parkview Strangler because his signature move he likes to do is to reach out and grab the offending person by the neck and toss them. We have started doing time outs a lot more. I feel like he's regressed some in his behavior and it makes me sad, but hopefully its just another phase that he'll grow out of as he matures. We're also going to be putting him into headstart so that he isn't as bored. I'm hoping he enjoys it and doesn't get himself into too much trouble there. He will be going with a few friends he knows from the neighborhood.

In her bathing suit as usual. She doesn't wear anything except that and her sandals AKA "Pretty shoes."  Auntie tried to get her to wear dress up shoes but she refused. I should sneak the bathing suit away to wash it soon come to think of it... 

At three years old she requests "a sandwich" and water all the time. She doesn't really have a favorite food, she's pretty picky just like the other kids. She does refer to herself in the third person, but so far I don't see any traits of autism. Nothing that stands out anyway. I do wish she'd stop screaming and yelling to get my attention. She can be brutal on the ears!

Friday, November 02, 2012

Homeschool no more

I've started to write a blog post for several months but I just couldn't articulate what I wanted to say. Its hard to admit that something you've tried isn't working as well as you hoped it would. It feels like failure. I know in my heart I made the right choices at the right time, things just change.

Ivy has matured so much in the time we spent at home. I pulled her from school last February and Piper stayed home from May onward. We had 8 months of together time. 8 months of bonding. 8 months of growing to do. In that time, Ivy has overcome a lot of her insecurities. She's growing up before my eyes. I used to have to intervene whenever there was a social issue but now she's solving many of the problems on her own. She's finally getting there!

Piper never really wanted to leave school but agreed to try it out at home. And for her it was difficult not being around her friends as much. She'll have the distinction of being the only child that doesn't have a Kindergarten diploma in the family. Thats right. I pulled her before the year was out so she never officially graduated. I do feel bad that she missed that experience but she doesn't seem to mind.

I don't remember exactly how the conversation came up, but I asked them how they felt about homeschooling and Ivy told me that she loved being home with me but that she also felt maybe she was ready to "try school again."

Piper of course was on board with that idea, and within days I was filling out paperwork for them to start back at our local public school district. I now have a child in 9th grade, 4th grade and 1st grade. And Odin isn't far behind, I'm waiting for paperwork from Headstart to come in the mail so that he can have something just for him. Now that its colder outside the kids don't want to be outside playing as much. I knew that would happen.

Being a parent is harder than I ever thought it would be. Its a lot like being a tree I think. Knowing how to bend and sway with the wind. Not falling down but being strong and able to change directions if need be.

At first I felt like a homeschool drop out. I still really feel 100% that kids don't need school especially when they're young. What I've learned is that doesn't necessarily mean some kids don't *want* it.  The biggest thing with Ivy that I've had to learn over this past summer, is to calm my OWN reactions down. When she comes flying in the house crying her eyes out and sobbing with some story of injustice done to her.. my first instinct is to freak out, be angry and protective. I've done this on a number of occasions and it did nothing to help the problem. Instead it caused fights in the neighborhood, other parents and I arguing back and forth. I learned that for Ivy, she escalates and it tailspins out of control. Its my responsibility to remain calm and help her process what happened and help her see other perspectives in the situation. Things aren't always as they seem for her. Its taken a lot for me to calm my own self down and not be so reactive, but so far its working a lot better than anything else I've done. She's learning to solve her own social issues and there been far less tears and crying fits.

We have an IEP in a few weeks, we'll see what they say at that. I'm not looking forward to the rat race again. I'm really not, but I'll do what I have to do to keep my kids healthy and happy.

On another note, Persephone turned three years old the other day. I can't believe my "baby" isn't a baby anymore.