Tuesday, January 31, 2012

"But Mom, my favorite color is blue!"

I should know by now that trying to explain something to my autistic children, especially Brittany, using an analogy is a lesson in futility.  A while back, in fact, before Brittany was diagnosed, she was having issues dealing with how her friends no longer liked the things she did.  They were now interested in boy singers and actors like Zac Efron and Justin Beiber and Brittany just couldn't stand that stuff.  At that time, my younger two girls loved the books "Pinkalicious" and it's sequel "Purplicious."  For those of you who haven't had to read these books even once let alone a million times, "Pinkalicious" is about a girl who is obsessed with the color pink.  "Purplicious" is about this same girl when she is ridiculed by all the other kids for liking such a babyish color and she learns, thanks to a new girl in school, that not only is pink cool but that it is powerful too because it makes the color blue turn purple.  I thought that the lesson in "Purplicious" was very pertinent to Brittany's situation at the time and I read it to her trying to get her to see the connection.  However, when I pointed out how the little girl in the story didn't need to be ashamed of the things she enjoyed and didn't have to succumb to peer pressure to change her favorite color and hence Brittany didn't need to change just to please her friends, Brittany, matter of factly, told me, "But Mom, my favorite color is blue!"

Despite this obvious lesson that my child hones in on the details and doesn't see the big picture I am trying to paint with my example story, I still persistent using analogies during my little pep talks.

Tonight, I was trying to get her to understand the importance of following through with some extra homework her math teacher had given her so that she could improve her grade.  She was complaining that it was so boring because it was easy and it took too long.  And what do I do?  I go and switch to an analogy about practicing scales in music all the while Brittany is making some not-so-musical groaning noises next to me and complaining, "But Mom! This is math, not music!"

"Oh right!  Sorry, I forgot.  Brittany, you need to do it so how can I help make it not such a terrible thing for you? How about you have a piece of gum to help you concentrate?"  To which she brightened and went right to doing the worksheet.

So lesson learned (maybe).  I suppose that I will always be hoping for that perfect story that will teach my daughter a great life lesson that she will carry with her and maybe will keep her from making the same kind of mistakes in the future.  Wishful thinking, I know.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Being married to an Aspie in denial

I believe that coming to the understanding that my husband has Aspergers, even if he will not accept it or seek an official diagnosis, has improved my marriage exponentially and may have even saved it.  It explains so much.  Like how when I kissed him on our first date and he was stiff and awkward because, as he explained afterward, that, while he enjoyed it, he was wanting the next girl that he kissed to be "the one!"  Or how I can get ready faster than him because he HAS to do everything and in order or his day just doesn't start out right even if that means waking up at 5am in order to get it done.  He also can't tell how much I love him or am attracted to him.  I practically have to say the words "I want to have sex!" in order for him to be sure!

It is not all bad though.  I enjoy a level of commitment and consistency that is very enviable, I think.  He is a fabulous shopper.  He can and will research any product to death to find the best product at the best price.  He is extremely tidy and organized, which from what I'm told, is not typical of most husbands.  He is the one with the walk-in closet because he needs all the room in order to keep everything organized by color, kind etc.  He once tried to organize my drawers and closet and was really frustrated that I wasn't more appreciative and got upset that I didn't keep it up.  I like the shove and stash method much better.  Much quicker.

I just finished reading a book by David Finch entitled "The Journal of Best Practices," in which after only five years of marriage, he is diagnosed with Aspergers and then sets off on an obsession-level quest to save his marriage by improving himself.  I don't have the luxury, if you can call it that, of a husband who is formally diagnosed and is willing to change himself.  Nothing has really changed in my marriage since my "revelation" except that I can be more accommodating and understanding.  It is like that old adage that the only thing you can change is yourself.  Thanks to my greater understanding on how to help my kids, I am able also apply that to my "biggest child" (don't tell him I said that :) ). 

Sunday, January 1, 2012


Since writing last, I have discovered the world of Twitter.  My husband is an avid tweeter (is that the proper verbiage?) and after watching him, I decided to try it out and see if I could find more support from the autistic community at large and I was not disappointed!

I am so excited that not only did I find so many people with stories like mine, I have also found support for my fibromyalgia too!  I didn't think it was possible to feel connected to total strangers!  I am still trying to figure things out, like how to retweet, quote, direct message, acknowledge followers, etc, etc.  However, I have already learned some really valuable things and felt validated it my personal battles.  I'm looking forward to tapping into more of this wonderful resource.  Feel free to follow me @MargeHammer

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Winter Concert blues

Sometimes I just don't think things through.  Today was one of those times.  Brittany's middle school's winter concert was today and I was by myself with all the girls as my husband was gone for the day.  However, before the concert, I had the audacity to try to go to the dog's first group lesson on the intermediate training level.  Yes, with all four girls in tow!  I can hear you now..."What were you thinking??!!!!"  Perhaps I should've seen this coming but I digress. 

LT, our lab mix, didn't do well with all the distractions at Petsmart on an especially busy Saturday.  The girls wondered the store while I was trying, unsuccessfully, to get him to heal only to get wrapped up in the lease as he would try to greet every dog and person we walked by.  My girls came back all excited saying that the humane society was there with a lot of adorable small dogs and that Katherine really wanted a chihuahua now.  Yeah right!  Lt would give it a heart attack before we even left the store not to mention I don't want another dog or other living being to take care of right now, thank you very much.

Once out of that mad house, I had to race home to get Brittany's viola, which she had forgotten and also to drop off Lt before driving to the middle school for the concert.  On the way there, I noticed I had one mile until my tank of gas was empty so I thanked God that I made it to the gas station.  

At any rate, we finally made it to the concert and to my horror, I discover that it is in the gym and there isn't a seat to be seen anywhere and that the chorus will be performing first.  There was a ton of noise and bodies milling about everywhere.  A miracle occurs and we managed to find a bench with enough room for the four of us right in front of the orchestra, which was good because I was then able to see Brittany come in looking like she didn't know where to sit or what to do.  Turns out she had forgotten her music.  Forgetting things has been her thing lately.  I was able to go and help her sort it out before the chorus started singing.  When I came back to the other girls, I found to my dismay that Mary was terrorizing Janet and Katherine.  I ended up sitting between them as the chorus sang.  Unfortunately, Mary just continued to escalate and Katherine just couldn't sit still and be quiet so by the time it was the orchestra's turn to play, Katherine was yelling that she needed to go potty over and over and Mary was trying to reach over me to pinch and flick Janet.

I did the only thing I could do.  I got up and took all three of them out.  I felt horrible since it meant that I was missing Brittany playing.  I raced Katherine to the bathroom and got back in time to hear the end of the second song.  I left the three girls in the big empty room next to the gym so I could at least hear the last song.  Bad decision.  As soon as I went back in to check on them a couple minutes later, Mary had Janet pinned to the ground and Katherine was wailing hysterically.  I rescued Janet and went to find Brittany so we could go home.

I couldn't find her so I just stood in the middle of milling crowd waiting for her to come back.  That was when I realized that Janet had left my side again.  I went again to check on Mary and found that she had Janet was pinned AGAIN!  This time, I took both Katherine and Jess with me and Mary followed bound and determined to get at Janet every chance she got.  But by then I had my hands full with Katherine who had then decided that she wanted to run into the crowd and find Brittany and was whining and wailing for me to let her go.  So I was holding onto Katherine and blocking Mary from Janet with my body all the while people around me cast me pitying glances every now and then.

Luckily Katherine is still little enough that I can still "fireman" carry her because that is what I needed to do by the time Brittany got back to us.  She had kicked off her shoes and had been rolling on the floor.

To say the least, I am beat today.  The worst part is that the girls have been begging to go to the bookstore ever since then but I have absolutely no desire to step out in public with them for a while.  At least not without a lot of backup and a big sign that says "They have autism.  Help or go away!"

Monday, December 5, 2011

504 for Brittany!

So I am celebrating a small success in getting the "team" to agree to write a 504 for Brittany today.  Also I was able to get them to realize that all the negative consequences to her undesirable behavior was only serving to aggravate the situation and wasn't helping.  So hopefully we will begin to see my bright and bubbly, eager to go to school Brittany returning soon.  Then again, she just turned 12....

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A possible job for my dog

Yesterday, Mary had another meltdown while the ABA tutor was here along with the tutor's supervisor. I think that this makes every time the supervisor has visited, Mary has had some sort of fit.

At any rate, this time she flew off the handle and started attacking Janet and calling her a Pest over and over again. Repeating, "gotta get the pest, get the pest. She's a pest!"
Eventually I got in her way and confined her into the corner of the dining room where she than began beating me up and spitting in my face.

I haven't been feeling well lately though so my energy for this disappeared quickly and I was forced to call my husband up from doing his job downstairs.

He brought our 2 yr old yellow lab mix dog, Lieutenant or Lt, up with him.  Mary immediately began attacking the dog instead!  My husband was then able to lead her and the dog upstairs with some dog treats and let Mary "order" the dog around until she calmed down.

At the dog's last day of beginning obedience lessons, our trainer told me that there is a good possibility that Lt has the potential of being a good service animal to my three girls if I was willing to put some work into it. 

I had looked into a service dog before and dismissed it as unreachable considering the thousands of dollars they want for a fully trained dog.  I never dreamed it was possible that we could get one this way and for a whole lot less.  At least for Mary, animals, especially dogs, really have a calming affect on her.  It would be fabulous if Lt could become trained enough to become an official service dog.  I figure that at the very least, going through all this training, we'll come out with a very good dog that will have a good affect on the girls regardless of whether he is certified or not.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Holidays Headaches

I have discovered that holidays aren't as much fun as a parent as it was when I was a kid. I know, duh, right? But really I think as a parent of kids with special needs, holidays pose a whole lot more problems than just the difference of having to cook and clean, etc.

Although my girls love having time off of school and love the excitement of a major holiday like for instance, Thanksgiving, which we just celebrated today, they don't really enjoy having major breaks in their normal routines, or having to visit other people's houses and to eat strange food and to deal with lots of commotion.

When the girls were little I was less concerned about breaking their routine. I'm not sure why that is. Perhaps because I hadn't connected their behaviors to their environment yet or something. At any rate, now, as I am seeing more and more improvement in their behavior due to the structures and routines, I am more anxious on days where the routine is completely thrown out the window.

Tonight I was at least able to maintain the bedtime routine and the girls were relatively calm because of it. There was no crying and fighting or anything like that. I guess that really is worth all the effort and the little sacrifices I have to make in order to maintain it.