Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Differences of Opinion

AJ and I were watching a show about cloning a dog. There was a couple whose dog died. They missed him and decided to clone him. AJ wanted to know more about it - so I gave him the Reader's Digest version. I told him: "They take the DNA from the dog, and use a female dog to have a puppy with the same DNA as their old dog. So the puppy is the baby version of the dog that died." He thought that was so cool.

My reaction to cloning is just based on the "Yuck" factor. I can't help but take it to the inevitable conclusion of cloning humans. Just can't go there. So, I told him that I don't like cloning, and it makes me uncomfortable. AJ just thinks I'm missing the point. He told me "Well, if they love their dog that much, they just can't be without him. It's simple." Hmmmm...

He then told me that when I die, he's going to clone me. OK, kinda cute, kinda creepy.

"I would just be a baby. You'd have to take care of me."

"I would do that for you."

"You would have to change my diaper."

"I'd get someone else to do that!!"

"You'd be my dad."

"I'd still love you - you'd still be Mama - just littler."

OK, that's hard to argue with. And maybe it is that simple. Or maybe it's still yucky.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Search for the "cure"

When I tell people I have an autistic son, they often ask me what I am doing to try to "cure" him. I don't have an answer to that. Here's why.

When we first got a diagnosis for AJ, he was almost 4. We had suspected Asperger's for quite some time, but couldn't get a doctor to do any testing, because he was sooooo verbal. Anyway, as soon as I had a diagnosis, I explained it to AJ. He asked questions, and we moved on.

After talking to some parents, and doing research, I started reading about "cures". I explained to AJ about these cures, and asked him what he thought. He sat there for a while, and then blew a raspberry. Yep, a raspberry. At the age of 4, that was AJ code for "I'd rather be boiled in oil".

Periodically, since then I've been asking him about it, every 6 months or so. And I always got the same old raspberry.

Recently, though, I asked him again. He thought about it for a really long time. Here's what he said:

"Well, you know, autism makes some things hard. I don't understand people, and they don't understand me. It's hard to make friends, and I don't understand alot of social rules. But, autism is who I am. It's a part of all of me. I wouldn't want to change me. You know autism Mama, can't live with it, and can't live without it!"

And so, that's the decision. And I agree with him 100%.

Now, lots of people tell me that I would feel differently if I had a "low functioning" child. And so I dutifully did my research. I read blogs from people on the "low" end of the spectrum. Sure they need supports, but from the blogs I've read, they're pretty happy with their lives, and don't want a cure, thank you very much.

I've learned alot about "communication skills". I've learned that everyone communicates, just not everyone communicates verbally. Some communicate with pictures, some with writing, some with actions.

So, when you're thinking about cures, it's probably best to ask the people you want to cure if they want to be cured.

Just my opinion (and my son's). I know this is very controversial. Let's play nice.

Peace out.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Social Skills and Songs

Yesterday, AJ and I were driving from a homeschool group (which didn't happen - but that's a story for another day). He said something which most people would consider rude. I knew what he meant, and I knew he wasn't trying to be rude. But, still, I felt the need to explain to him that what he said would normally be considered rude, and how to say it differently. These explanations are usually completely meaningless to him, but I feel the need to keep trying. Not everyone will be accomodating, or even understand that he isn't trying to be rude. He just says exactly what he thinks. Tone and semantics mean nothing to him. At least at this point.

Anyway, after my explanation (probably long-winded), he asks me "Why do you have better social skills than me?". I tell him that he has Asperger's, and sometimes these kinds of issues will come up for him. He answers me that I have Asperger's too. This is his theory. I have never been diagnosed. But, I figure, he knows more about Asperger's than a doctor who isn't autistic, so he's probably right. I am left with explaining to him that I'm older, so I have more experience dealing with people.

But this makes me remember all the times when I've made social faux pas. Or when people have been angry with me and I haven't understood why. Or when I have believed lies, or trusted someone not worth my trust. I've been told that I'm rude, or not very flexible, or too sensitve. So, he's probably right. Whatever. I'm me, and he's him. And we just are.

On another note, AJ's been writing poems/songs. These are songs that are not to the tune of anything I've ever heard. He makes that up too. Here they are:

By: AJ
You tell me to do
This that this and the other thing
You tell me it's all so important
And I tell you
I'm not a bumper car
So why don't you just stop
Pushing me around now
I can't believe how lazy
You have gotten

By: AJ
In the morning, as school starts
I think it's gonna be a sleepless night
Sleepless night
Sleepless night
Sleepless night
With the moon shining bright
It's gonna be a sleepless night
All night long

Yep, he's a cool kid.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Restaurant Etiquette

A few days ago, we decided to go out to dinner. This can be tricky, so we usually let AJ have some say in where we go. Some places are too loud, some too bright, some too small, some have no good choices for him, etc. So, he picked one of his favorites.

We go to the restaurant, and there is a wait. Luckily, it was a small wait and all was well.

Then, we got our table. Next to an entire soccer team of 10 year olds. All boys, and all loud!! Really, really loud. That was to be expected, there were like 15-20 kids. It's going to be loud. NT kids socialize. We get that, and we, including AJ, were dealing with it. Then the running around started. The parents of these children were sitting at a different table, and didn't even once look up, and ask them to behave appropriately.

These kids ran around, bumped into wait staff, threw food, yelled, pushed, and did everything that you are basically not supposed to do in a restuarant.

It made me think of all the times, when AJ was having a tantrum, that people said to me "Can't you control your kid?" Well, obviously, we are doing a hell of a lot better than these people were doing. And let me just say, that if that behavior is what passes for "normal", they can have it.

My little family sat there with our ears plugged, AJ crawled onto my lap and rocked, and we just hoped they would leave soon.

So, I wanted to ask these families "Can't you control your kids?!?"

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Home Schooling is HARD!!

Well, we are on day 4. Day 1 was easy. AJ was extremely cooperative. He worked hard and was willing to learn. Day 2, still pretty good. He was still trying hard. Day 3 was yesterday. He was in a bad mood. Home school had lost its newness, and he discovered that he still has to do work. All of a sudden, he was uncooperative and just not willing to try.

Today was just impossible. Every time he came back from a break, he wanted another break. And today was supposed to be the first day of his theater group. It was sponsored by our local home schooling group. I drove an hour to get there. Ten seconds after we got there, AJ was making faces at me, and covering his ears. I'll admit it was a little loud. They hadn't started yet, and the other kids were playing. Not screaming, mind you. Playing. I made suggestions to leave for a few minutes, until they got settled. But no. We had to leave, immediately. MELT DOWN was imminent.

So, 10 minutes after driving for an hour, we got back in the car to drive home. Was I frustrated? Oh, yeah. Frustrated was not even the word. But, I stayed calm and just drove. And drove. And drove. Because there was traffic. We finally got home 2 and 1/2 hours after we left the house. AARRGGHH!!!! I gave him a break before we got back to work. A long break. 10 minutes after we got back to work, he wanted another break. Yep, 10 minutes. OK. So, maybe he just gets burned out. Maybe we try to do everything in the morning. Maybe he gets burned out by afternoon. But we were working on a puzzle. Fun stuff, right. Not like I was asking him to work on something hard. He likes puzzles. But, he wanted to play on the computer. Maybe I need a new rule? No electronics before 3:00. No matter what. Even on a break. Maybe I'll try that tomorrow.

We'll see. Peace in and out.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Happy New Year

Wow! Christmas (all holidays, actually) on the spectrum are "intersting".

Christmas Eve was a complete disaster for AJ. We went to a local restaurant with my family. My sister, her husband, their three kids, assorted boyfriends, and my parents. The restaurant was horrible. The music was too loud (we asked them to turn it down), the flourescent lights were buzzing (they were driving AJ and me nuts - but no one else could hear them). The service was just plain bad. They were soooooo slow. AJ was going nuts waiting for his food. At some point, he just needed to be on my lap. Then he started moaning (which is new).

Finally, the food came. It was awful!!! AJ would not even eat his, and we had to order something different for him (which was only marginally better). Almost everyone else had to send their food back (the meat was barely cooked). Mine was disgusting. There was no way I was going to send it back - that was just make the whole process longer.

AJ and I kept getting up to take walks around the restaurant - that usually distracts him and gets him through the experience. But, then, when it looked like no one would EVER be done, AJ just lost it. He was moaning loudly, and started saying "I just can't do - I can't take anymore). That did it. AJ and I just went to go sit in the lobby. We played tug of war. People stared, people glared, people discussed my child, and my parenting skills. We just played tug of war.

Finally, everyone was ready to go.

We were going to my sister's house for dessert. AJ was up for that. He knew there was going to be presents involved, and chocolate. Even AJ can't resist presents and chocolate!! :-)

That part didn't go too bad. He got one present that he really loved!!! My sister got him a plasma car. Google this. It is so cool. Even I played with this, until AJ wanted it back. It's FUN!!

At home, AJ just could not get to sleep. This produces anxiety for AJ, because he worries that Santa won't come until he's asleep. The anxiety just makes it even harder to sleep. It's a vicious cycle. But, finally, he did get to sleep. Finally. Really, really late. But, Santa understands about insomnia, and came anyway. AJ loved all his presents from Santa, and from us. Yay!!

He got a really awesome electronics kit from Santa. We actually spent some time learning about resistors in series and paralell. He built a circuit to turn on and off an LED. It was so totally cool, and I really had to break out my brain. It was good for me to relearn my circuits, and there are 74 more projects to go! There are home school projects for days!!

We had one week off, which we spent just trying to have fun. Some of it was not so fun. Sometimes anxiety takes over, and AJ has a difficult time dealing with life. Sometimes we have difficult times dealing with life too. The combination is not good. But we muddled through, and managed to have a pretty cool vacation.

Today was our first day of home school. It started out with an IEP meeting at his most recent placement. This meeting was setup before the final decision to home school was made. I started the meeting by letting them know about the decision to home school. They were clearly not thrilled with our decision. But, clearly, what were our choices. After what happened at that school, we did not feel that it was a safe place for him to be, either physically or emotionally.

AJ was soooo easy to teach. Yes, he needs lots of breaks. He needs lots of redirection. He needs visual stimulation. But, he is so eager to learn new things. We did math, spelling, reading, civics, science, and PE. He is even smarter than I thought. He is able to retain anything in his "filing system". Amazing kid, just amazing.

I really think this home school thing is going to work out just fine.

Peace out!!