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SAHM of 3 wonderful kids, one brilliant one Asperger Syndrome. This is not a living shrine to his disorder, but rather a place to share & discuss the different challenges that came with it and other things about parenting & life in general.

Friday, December 30, 2011

A Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Movie was good, night was bad

Okay. If you've been following me, you have seen my tweet while I was watching this movie. But I thought it needed a post.

As you know, my husband left today and won't be back until July so my family babysat and I went to see the above movie.

Mind you, I read the book so I knew what was to come. What I didn't know who I was sitting with while watching the scenes. If I had objection to it, I would not have gone.

As I sat down, I was surprised to see a girl not more than 9 years old sitting with, I assume, her parents. I was appalled. If you know of the book, you would know why.

I am not naive. I know the kids nowadays with are far more aware of more things than I care to admit. But I wouldn't be taking my kids to see it together.

When Lizbeth Salandar was forced to give hand job/oral sex was uncomfortable enough, but her second visit to get her money, she was violently tied up and sodomized and beaten. Later on, she got her revenge as she did the same to the man.

Even though I knew it was coming, I walked out and stood on the side to watch. I felt very uncomfortable watching that scene with the little girl sitting behind me. Awkward. The only thing I could think of how pissed I was at the parents for bringing her to see this movie. Didn't they read the book or even the reviews? Guess not.

Am I a prude? My nightmare continued as the main character played by Daniel Craig & Lisbath had a bed scene. It was long, or felt long with the little girl there. But second & third time, I was kind of pissed. The first time, fine. The 2nd & third? Maybe I am getting too old for this kind of movie.

So we come to the movie itself. All in all, it stayed true to the book. The actors playing the main parts were believable, especial Lisbath. It was suspenseful and worth your money. It felt a little slow because I read the book. I enjoyed the revenge part of the movie. I didn't like Craig as 007, but I actually liked him playing this part. 

Would I recommend this movie? Yes, if this is the sort of genre that you like. Otherwise, you can go on to Mission Impossible which I thoroughly enjoyed. The movie was good. I just hope you have the sense to leave the little one home.

P.S. I'm not going to bother with grammar check on this one. If you find a mistake, forgive me. I'm having a little cocktail since my hubby left. My girl has taken over my bed which is a welcome since that means I will not be sleeping alone tonight. ;-)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Tis' the season to be jolly & for volunteering...

When W was 11, just joining the Boy scouts, I remember seeing parents running around checking their calendars, going from one activity to another. I told myself that I wasn't going to do that. I was going to be different. I was wrong. 

When did I come to this realization? A while ago, but I felt it yesterday as I traced back the steps from Friday.

Friday went like this... as scheduled(?)  
6:30 Cooked breakfast.
7:00 Breakfast served.
7:30 Dropped off W at school then B at her school. 
8:00 Home to clean up dishes, let dog out, get A dressed. 
8:45 - 10:45 Ran errands...including shopping for snacks & gifts. 
11:00 - Home to give A his lunch & nap. Wait for Mom to watch him.
12:00 - Weekly volunteer/tutoring at 3rd grade class (B's class) 
2:30 - Picked up A from home, relieve mom, head for W's school to pick him up with B to go to abacas math class for an hour. 
3 to 4pm Abacas math 
4:20 - Home cook dinner. W practice Piano. B showers & gets ready.
5:00 - Dinner served (W gets to stay home to do school work)

5:30, we stopped by the bakery to pick up snacks for the parents and went to the meeting. A gets to play with other siblings of scouts.

630 pm. The girls were decorating the meal bags for the homeless. 

7:30 Practice caroling for the next day.
My activities ended here if you don't count the night time rituals at home. 

Saturday went on like this. 
9 - 11 am B had her last Ceramic class at the Honolulu Academy of Arts
9:30 to 10:30 was a parent child music class with A and I
11 am  We pick up B and head home.
11:30  Make lunch & have lunch.
12:30  We head out to the retirement home.
1:00 Caroling at the retirement home. 

Meanwhile, W went to volunteer for a Brunch being held for the Prevention of Child Abuse with the Leo Club. His job? He entertained the kids (mostly victims of abuse). He was there from 10 am to 2 p.m.

By the time we came home, it was 3 p.m. The kids were fine, but I was exhausted. But my day was just beginning. But I will save you the time of telling you any further.  

I was reminded to "never say never." I wasn't going to be like others running around from one activity to another, but I am that person. But that was when I only had W and before I had two more kids. 

Coming year, W has his piano, tutor, therapist, Senior project, SATs, AP classes, Essays, Abacas, Spanish, Korean, JROTC and with B joining the Girl Scouts, and A beginning K in the fall, I have a feeling, I will be busier than a corporate CEO. 

I may complain, and complain I will, but I am actually looking forward to the things to come. I get my inspiration from W and the people I meet (my tweeps). 

This is life after all. This is parenthood. And I intend to love every minute of it. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

What are you thankful for? My aspie & his silent Thanksgiving meltdown

Salvation Army Thanksgiving Meal Setting up
How many times did you hear, “List the things we are thankful for.” I know I found myself repeating it to the kids. This year was no different. And thanks to W, I added to my list.

W was set to volunteer at Salvation Army Thanksgiving meal with the community. It was open to the public, but it was mostly for low-income families and the homeless. As I dropped him off to the area, I had to remind him to mind his facial expressions and gestures because there were going to be a lot of people. I concealed my nerves and dropped him off. I only asked him to reply to my text to keep in touch with me. He did just that by texting me until the ceremonies began.

Lack of empathy is something that is described as one of the characteristics of Aspergers. But I see him being too sensitive to others’ feelings, he just expresses it differently than you and I. W looked forward to volunteering with a friend that has been going through a very rough patch. He convinced his depressed friend to join him instead of sulking  at home.

When I picked him up after lunch, he was in high spirits. It was written all over his face. He said there were close to three thousand (I don’t have numbers, but over 2500) were there and served. He saw the major and the television crew.  He served 422 people. He said there were many elderly and children there. They ran out of food, but luckily, they were able to serve all the people that came. There weren't any left for the volunteers.

I could see the excitement in his eyes as he went through the last detail of what happened. He said he never heard people say "Thank You" so many times  and mean it. He said their words felt genuine and real. W had finally felt high you get when you help others. Until now, he has been volunteering because that is what you are suppose to to. But he didn’t realize the kind of high you can get out of doing something for someone else. As an added bonus, his friend was happier for volunteering with him.

But the good feeling didn’t last as the day went on. I didn’t realize that participating in something with so many people and interacting with them would take its toll.

Nothing special was planned. A simple dinner with family was that was left for the day. My parents and my sister along with her sons were coming over for dinner. The little drama began when his aunt asked him to do something, and instead of his usual cooperation, he outright refused and disrespected her. He went to his room and stayed there. The incident isn't as trivial as I describe, but I will leave the details out.

My parents were arriving. We were going to set up the table for early dinner. The simple way to end this was for him to apologize to his aunt. I went upstairs to talk with him and tried to convince him that was the way, and he just clamped down and wouldn’t speak. I was going to give him his space, but wrong is wrong, he would have to apologize eventually.  I hoped we could resolve the situation without my parents finding out, but that didn’t happen. My parents arrived.

I told my mom, who went upstairs to speak to him. He clamped down even more. After 30 minutes, he came down for dinner. His grandpa took him out for a walk around the block and I could hear my Dad trying to convince him to make amends.

We had dinner. But it was the most awkward dinner I had ever had in my life. I could sense the tension. Good thing is that the little ones didn’t notice as we had to put on a gigantic act. When dinner was done, he went outside.

After a talk with his grandpa, he finally apologized, without my knowledge to his aunt. He was nervous and afraid that it was too late and by the time he was ready to apologize, the thing had grown so much bigger, that it was scary for him to apologize. He didn’t think it would be accepted. So the incident was resolved and people went back home.

So what did I learn from today? I realized that W is an Aspie. He is so high functioning sometimes, he lets me forget it until it slaps me across the face. The other lesson is to let your child learn on their own. I learned that I needed to step away and let him learn on his own and fix his own mistakes. I could have forced him to apologize and fix the situation, but I let him get through it. It was painful and uncomfortable for me to watch, but it turned out well in the end. Lastly, W learned the true meaning of volunteering and I could see the joy in his face when he did. I am happy I was here to see him through the discovery.

So what am I thankful for?

I’m thankful for W.

  My aspie.

I told him I loved him, loved having him as my son and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Matador's shadow - My aspie's take on love...

It has been said that love robs those who have of their wit, and gives it to those who have none. - Denis Diderot

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Not so typical story from a typical aspie on being “Special”

*I typed this out. No edits from me or even grammar check. I thought it wouldn't be appropriate if I touched it. So here is his story. How he wants it to be told. His take on friendship.*

When I first came to this school, it was a random girl that got me introduced to new people. I was seriously anti-social at the time. It was my 2nd year of high school, but it was my first year in this school. She thought I needed someone to talk to.

The very same day, I tried saying hello to the person next to me, and got mistaken for asking him out… @.@

So at lunch, I sat above, well, next to someone sleeping, hoping I didn’t disturb them and thought about how my day was going (not so well).

Feeling despondent, I was about to leave when that same random girl said I should say Hi to everyone and I should sit at her table. And behold, the kid from the last class.

The girl spoke. “That guy over there,” she said, motioning to the sleeping student, “is A. He is a narcoleptic & he is taking a power nap, so don’t be near him when he wakes up.” She continued.
"This is I from your math class and I’m D. You’ve been introduced to the three musketeers.”

     “What? I don’t understand.”  

She explained she had Insomnia, one had narcolepsy, and the other was bipolar.

“I feel sorry for you. I’ve only got Asperger Syndrome.”

“Don’t be. This corner of the courtyard is a sanctuary for all the kids with disabilities. Not officially, but this is our own turf, and a support group. Come here whenever, no one will mind.”

“How long has it been here?” I asked.

“Not very long, most have known each other since middle school. We handle our problems here.”

With the ringing of the bell, I left for my next class. About a week later, I came back again and again. 

Nowadays, over a year later, I have connected with these three and with their support, made many new acquaintances and weathered disastrous crisis.

I am proud to call myself, one of the “specials.”

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Why didn't we think of Aspergers? Hindsight, What-Ifs, & Irony

               Puzzled is how I felt that day, 
                      my Yorkshire terrier.
Of all the forms of wisdom, hindsight is by general consent the least merciful, the most unforgiving. - John Fletcher 
"Why didn't we think of Aspergers?"
A question that haunted me the other day as I drove passed W's old school.

I understand hindsight, I know to reflect rather than dwell and I know how to move on. So why do I let it bother me? You will understand me as you finish this post.

W is a high functioning aspie. His main weakness was his delayed speech and that was the primary focus when he was 3. In order to continue his speech services, the diagnosis was a learning disability. No one, including his doctors could come up with anything else. He was in a regular K class and received speech an hour a day.

A few days later, I made an unannounced visit to his classroom to see how he was adjusting to his Kindergarten class. He was adjusting for sure, but not in the way you'd think. The classroom was made up of small circular tables. I found him sitting in a square desk in the corner, alone, isolated from the rest of the class.

  The only thing this teacher could tell me was that W was not paying attention. She didn't know what to do.  Calling me would have been one of the first options but common sense was not the only thing lacking in this teacher, but I digress. After a brief meeting with the administration, W didn’t go back to this school.

 After 2 weeks of unsuccessful stint at a private school, we found a tiny, brand-new Montessori school connected to another school.

This is where it kills me. The small school was a school for Autistic children. The population consisted of kids representing the whole spectrum.

Was he tested for Aspergers? No. But tests did reveal that he had an high IQ nearing 150. The other aspie characteristics were dismissed as one of those idiosincrincies that came with being gifted. The difficulties were well hidden due to there only having 8 other kids in the classroom with 2 adult helpers. Montessori style of teaching helped him focus on topics that challenged him and he excelled in. They had the time and personnel to spend more time on skills that he lacked. He flourished in this wonderful environment.

The diagnosis came later when we moved to another school where he faced larger classroom and bullying which led to the Asperger diagnosis. I'm not sure how much difference the early diagnosis would've made, but there is no question that he could have avoided some of heartaches that came with bullying. He would have been better prepared to enter the regular classroom. I’m just glad that I didn’t let him skip a grade as recommended by his teachers.

As a parent, you will always have doubts and regrets. It is a part of life. For me, that school is a reminder of what I missed by not paying attention. I take solace in that, I'm not the only one who failed W in getting the diagnosis. But it turned out well. I tried to come up with a theme for this post, it was hindsight, regrets, and irony. But irony seemed more fitting.

If you get anything from this post, please look around to see what you are missing. You could be missing the obvious, because I sure did.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

In words are seen the state of mind & character & disposition of the speaker.

September 2002
This is his water color painting from his art class. W gave his to me when he was 7. I thought it was neat at the time but I was too busy to appreciate it. No matter what was happening, he always managed to have a happy disposition, and seeing this, indeed, he was a content child. (Above quote from Plutarch)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mom, I'm playing a hostage for community service hours!

I had a very planned and productive day with the little one to the State Library on Friday which led me to the pile of books beside my bed.

But my aspie had a whole different kind of productive day in mind when he signed up for community service.  He will be writing the rest of this post...

"I've done two different community service projects this weekend. The one on saturday was a relaxing two-mile run with the Leo club of my High School in beautiful Honolulu Hawaii. That was to raise money for hungry in America and famine victims in Africa.  That was a walk in the park (literally...) compared to what I did the day before.

I know this sounds like a fantasy. But I was helping in the training of SWAT team members in a counter-terrorism drill. With the helicopter, bomb squad, EMTs and the whole enchilada. The volunteers at the office building had to choose between hostage, victim, roamer, or (duh-duh-duh) the hidden. From 5-10 o'clock, I spent the entire time as a hidden person on the fifth floor out of fourteen. It gets kind of boring so I walked down the hallway into the active shooter, just barely dodging him before running into a SWAT team who frisked me for weapons and led me down the stairs. We waited for hours before the last "hostages" were brought down. IT was highly stressful, and I could see the apprehension on the team member's faces. SWAT requires a huge amount of discipline and skill. They must search every room, every corner before they declare a floor clear. Their primary objective is to get the shooter, not the injured. So often times, they must ignore victims on the floor and head straight into the line of fire. Medics are not allowed to enter anywhere that is not cleared. The drill was a success, and I hope to participate in more SWAT drills sometime soon.

However, tomorrow, I'll be selling art, snacks, and handmade gifts for Shriner's hospital for children. I'll be raising money for children who are suffering from serious illness. This has been an extremely busy working weekend for me and I hope to have more like it. I got to do good work for Emergency workers, the poor, the hungry, and the sick. In reality, each event takes only a couple hours of my day, and can do so much good. I wonder what would happen if all Americans volunteered for one hour a week? Just saying....

This is W, Aspie who has made an imaginary journey from the front lines, to the famine stricken countries, and to the hospital beds of the sick. I encourage you all to volunteer. Peace. <3"

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Productive & Rewarding Day that went as planned

It started as just another day. After the morning circus was done, I came home to find myself without any appointments.

I used this as a teaching moment for A(4 almost 5) to pick up toys from the kids' living room. I cleaned the floors & dishes.

Then I saw the bags from the library visit, read the rest of the books we borrowed while he ate his early lunch and mom had a different mission for the day. To brave the State Library where parking was nearly impossible to find.

My luck was just beginning.  

We found parking immediately. 25cents per 10 minutes? Well, it is considered lucky to park around here in Downtown Honolulu because the Capital, Municipal, and major state offices are here, even the FBI. So I was lucky.


This is just the 1/5 section of the children area. I could just live here.

It's a good thing I cleaned my room today. This is what ended up beside my bed.

So my mission was to read to the kids. I'm so lucky. B (almost 9) read to her brother about 15 of it.  Then she read hers.
I purposely borrowed books for 1- 3 graders. Of course, the latter ones are for me & my aspie. I'm sure he will be through with it in a day or two. He's been known to just swallow the words. My average brain takes a little while longer.

The only problem is that I will have those books starring at me to read and return. So I will be reading it throughout the day and convincing my little one that we can return it once we've read it.
That is another story.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Day in the life of a typical mom.

 have a brilliant idea for a blog. But I go blank as soon as I start typing. So should I jot it down? It still doesn’t work. So here is one post that will bore the hell out of you.

Sample Wednesday.

If everything goes as scheduled, this robotic mommy’s schedule is as follows:

6:15 am  A(4) Wakes me up.
6:30 I come out to the kitchen, W (aspie) turns on the coffee machine and walks the dog. I put the precooked breakfast into the microwave and warm it up.

645  My aspie eats breakfast, after I question him about everything he needed to take, he is out the door to take the bus to school.  (Sometimes, I drop him off.)

700  A(4) & B(8) have breakfast. I go upstairs and bring down her school clothes and his outside clothes. (I have different clothes they wear to school and for home). They brush and change.

740 I drop B off to school. The elementary school is about 13 houses away from us, but these houses are quite big so it is not a distance for her to walk alone. If I drive by car, I take longer. On the days I feel up to it, we walk together.

815 A4 does his jumpstart.com learning online game while I clear the table, do the dishes, and wipe down the kitchen.

9 am - 11 am I usually take care of errands, and most of the time, it requires me driving.

11:15 /1215 Around this time is when I have A4 have his lunch. He takes a short nap. I cook dinner while I tweet. Sometimes dose off on the couch too.

2:10 The little one and I go to pick up B & W from school.

3:00 Go directly to one hour abacas math class (3x a week). I usually do reading of the library books while we wait or pick up something from store, if needed. If we decide to go to the later class, I bring out the pre-cooked dinner so they can eat in the car on the way home.

430 We get home. W walks the dog. They do homework. I cook if I haven’t cooked already.

Between 5/6 We have dinner. Then clean up.

The little one usually plays with his cars. B likes doing her educational computer games including typing, science, math, and reading. Sometimes, they like the Iphone apps.  W is too busy with all the homework and gets to use his Itouch to update FB or listen to music.

W has not enough time to do everything. When he has time, he does searches on what schools and tells me about his day.
I do the dishes, W takes out trash, and I check B’s planner & homework. I check W’s calendar with routine questions to make sure we are on same page.

I prepare breakfast for the morning.  (Sometimes I don’t)
8:15 Kids go to bed. (Doesn’t mean they are sleeping.)
9:25 W goes to bed. (Tries to wiggle a few minutes all the time.)

This is how boring, scheduled my life is. Sure things don’t always happen the way it is planned.
Sometimes, I take out food to eat.
Sometimes, I leave the dishes for the machine.
Sometimes, I let them just watch TV.
Sometimes we don’t do anything.

I am okay when I can’t stay on task. I don’t throw a fit if something doesn’t get done. But like the idea of knowing what things need to be done.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My aspie said: Mom, if tweeting was a sport, you'd be a gold medalist!

"Addiction: quality or state of having a compulsive need for & use of habit-forming substance." - Merriam-Webster Dictionary
My name is Chi and I'm an addict. Lost in twitterville with my IPhone. As you know they go hand in hand. 

My journey began with the purchase of my IPhone on Feb. 25, 2011. Yes, I remember the date.
Prior to that, I had my blog that I updated every month and an inactive twitter account with 200 followers. But now I have almost 4800 followers, but haven't gotten around to blogging regularly. But I digress.

Getting my phone was the best thing that happened in my life, other than my kids. I was no longer strapped to the computer to do bills, emails, and miscellaneous, eating away all my free time when the kids went to bed. Computer was now in the palm of my hands, and I can make phone calls too! Brilliant.

I became the meaning of "multi-tasking" stay at home mom. I became a woman on a mission. I made sure no time went underutilized.

I was utilizing all the hours alright and didn't realize just how much.

When did I notice the change in my behavior? I didn't.
Phone was in my hand at all times. I caught myself constantly looking at or for my phone. It became another limb. It never left my side, unless it was charging. I got anxious when the battery was low. At times, I was stuck to the wall because it was charging.

Since my husband isn't around, it was the last thing I saw before closing my eyes at night, or prior to passing out. And it was the first thing I reached for when I opened my eyes. I knew its whereabouts at all times; in its red otter box protective case next to me.

It was suppose to save me time so I could do other things. The other things became tweeting. It was so easy to do it. Slowly but surely, I began following and connecting with other parents. I loved the adult interaction & discussions. Although, I have to admit, some were in the ridiculous side.

Instead of having more time, I was finding ways to cut down on other things so I could be on twitter. I tweeted instead of naps I used to take with A. The only time I didn't tweet was when I was using the bathroom and driving. Then I had W tweet for me while I was driving.

Then yesterday, my aspie told me, "If tweeting was a sport, you'd be a gold medalist."

There he got me. I had to admit it. I was addicted to my Iphone and twitter. My instructions to him to stay away from the internet & Face Book went out the window. So did I change?

Obviously not because I'm updating my blog instead of sleeping. But I have put it on vibrate in the evening. In the morning, I make sure I finish cooking breakfast watch them eat as I tweet.

So where am I going with this? No where, like many of my tweets, it is just another reason to spend time talking about twitter. But it should be something you should ask yourself, are you an addict?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Yay! My son approves my tweets! As our relationship turns -me and my aspie

For the longest time, W had the hardest time communicating both verbally and non-verbally of what he wanted and when he needed help. Even as his speech caught up, he was unable to articulate his feelings.

He was always facing the world alone. He had me and the family, but he felt like this picture.

But the use of Facebook and my Twitter use has changed this and for the better.

I was having my tweeting fest that started at the mall with W's 8 yr old sister (B) and his 4yo brother (A).

My short stop to the pharmacy located at Ala Moana Shopping center, biggest open air shopping mall in the world, led us to the Lego store, then Sushi restaurant. I tweeted through both and my escape from the potential budget killing shopping spree and got home.

When I came home, W picked up my IPhone and began reading my tweets.

Yes, he reads my tweets. He was the reason that I began the blog and twitter. I don't tweet anything I would feel uncomfortable talking to him about anyway. Bur I digress.

Moments later, he stated, "Mom, you sure do compartmentalize your crazy well in your tweets."

I wasn't seeking his approval, but I was happy to receive it. I respect his opinion.

This started with me policing his Facebook news feed for content then he began reading my tweets. It led to many interesting discussions sometimes many one way conversations about everything. It was refreshing to be talking with each other instead of talking to or being talked to one way.

We talk openly about aspergers, sometimes joke about the quirks of having aspergers and his aspie traits.
He isn't afraid to tell me things and being afraid how I would handle it.

So where is our relationship now? It is where I would hope everyone could be with their child. Is it perfect, no. But the important thing is that we have open communication.

I am not his friend. I am the parent with authority and power in the relationship. But we have an open line of communication where he knows that no judgment or punishment awaits him, but an understanding adult -- his mom. And he is no longer alone in the ocean of life.

I hope you can find your own way to enhance your relationship with your child. It is wonderful.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Road to acceptance for my aspergian son

Acceptance came easily for everyone in my family, except for one person, my dad, W's grandfather.

Unlike other grandparents, W's relationship with his grandparents' is unique. When W was a year old, he came to live with my parents. We continued to lived with them while I worked and attended college. As I was young, immature, and clueless, I left the his care to my parents. They were not just grandparents, they felt like they were raising both of us. So when he started having difficulties, they took it very personally,
especially my dad. Even though, he didn't agree, he blamed himself for what W was going through. 

I couldn't blame him. He's not a bad person by any means. He may not have been an ideal dad, but he was and is the best person in the world for W. He is of the generation, where there weren't many being diagnosed with mental disorder that stayed in public. And there was and still is stigma attached to anything related to mental disorders. So he wasn't convinced.

These are the key things he used to say.
- W is shy
- W will grow out of it.
- W is used to being with adults, he just doesn't know how to make friends.
- When I was going to school, they had names for kids like that, they were nerds...

He continued like this for years even after the diagnosis. He didn't accept it but he didn't interfere in any way with him getting help. We just didn't talk about it.

I don't know when my dad warmed up to the diagnosis. But after the bullying incident, I gave him the book "Be Different by Jon Elder Robison." That was one book that made him more understanding of how W's brain worked. Then he pointed out some of the common challenges that he saw in W that this author and some other books laid out. He finally accepted the diagnosis.

But every now and then, he would pick up a book and highlight the areas trying to convince me how W was different from how Aspergers was described in the book. And then I would have to explain how not all aspies are the same. I guess I was asking for too much. But he has agreed that therapy was making W a happier and more talkative teenage boy. I will just have to be satisfied with that and move on. It looks like W has done that already. ...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Stress management for my aspie

"Stress is not a reaction. It is our response TO what happens. And RESPONSE is something we can choose.~~ Maureen Killoran"
Stress has become the reality of our modern lifestyles. We are constantly bombarded with different stimuli throughout the day. And when it comes to my aspie, it is often the most intense moments of our life. Our joint attempts to identify and avoid the triggers have been one of our main goals for years.

Before his diagnosis, his meltdowns consisted of him sobbing. He suffered silently, unable to tell me what was bothering him. I used to think he was being stubborn and he was doing this to me on purpose. Sometimes, I used to continue asking him what was wrong, but he never did.

The sobbing would stop eventually as he sat in the corner doing his timeout. But I noticed that the timeout was serving no purpose. He enjoyed his solitude and withdrew to his own world. Sometimes, I would  find him circling the living room with a smile on his face. Then he would go and read his books, one of my little encyclopedia's obsessive routines. Eventually, I would get calls  by his teachers that he wasn't paying attention in class and not completing his work because he was busy reading, writing, and drawing.

I realized that I found out when he was stressed. Not what was stressing him, but what to look for when he was under the stress. Whatever it was, it manifested itself into this self-soothing behavior, that often got in the way of his school work and attentiveness at home. I put a stop to behaviors like circling,  I redirected his need to reading, writing, and drawing to deal with the stressful situation.  

Now that he is sixteen, I don't know whether it is the teen angst or the Aspergers is that is adding to the stress level.

After trying many things to keep him away from his obsessions such as reading, drawing, writing, and music, I decided incorporate it into his routine so he could avoid it.

After my observation and a short discussion with him, we narrowed it down to a few. Time management, homework (too much or too little), and mostly social situations such as when his friends were arguing and he was caught in the middle. The social situation also played a role when watching his little siblings and cousins. He felt out of control because his siblings would not listen to him when they were being too rowdy.

As a mom, you have an inkling that he is getting stressed out. Can't really pinpoint it, but you know it's coming. So this is what we do.

1. We have a brief conversation about anything good or bad thing that happened in the day, how he reacted, and what he should do in certain situations. That makes him feel better to discuss appropriate and inappropriate reactions.

2. He is asked to ask if he feels overwhelmed. Then I would give him his Itouch for him to go for a run or walk around the block. I don't ask him why, I just ask him to get it out of his system.

3. We have a quick meeting when he comes home and compare calendars which includes homework, quizzes, and activities coming up and when they are due. That takes care of him feeling overwhelmed by the work load.

4. We agreed that his soothing behaviors like reading, writing, drawing is allowed in one designated folder organized and away from his school work. As long as he is done with his responsibilities, I give him free time to do what he wants.

5. My expectations of him in general are realistic and he has admitted so. But just in case, I repeat it to make sure he doesn't get stressed out.

The main thing for us is predictability and consistency. I know, as well as my aspie, that life is unpredictable. But we have an open line of communication. He knows he can say anything to me and I will not judge him because he is my son and I love him with all of my life. I think that has made the difference in him slowly coming to his own. I just hope it continues.

SPECIAL NOTE: Don't Forget to Check out 30+ bloggers on this issue. S-O-S Best of Best, Edition 10: Calming Techniques for Stress and the Special Needs child is http://bit.ly/oKBWWT

A true "staycation"

I didn't have any plans for the labor day weekend. The obvious reason being my back. But I couldn't get myself to stay home alone with the kids doing nothing. So I took up my mom's offer and decided to stay there for the weekend.

I packed up the kids and took the 20 minute drive to her house. I left my big house and comfortable house for my parents' little cottage overlooking the gold course and some ocean view.

When I got there, it was if I never left home. I was back to asking my mom for everything and disagreeing with Dad about all his complaints of the world. I needed earplugs. The good thing is that, with age, you have easier time tuning out to the things you don't want to hear.

W had the best vacation. I was too busy to be nag him about anything. He has his grandpa who was more than willing to hear hours about what he wanted to talk about. That is something I don't have the time and patience for.

My stay-cation actually turned out well for all of us. Mom tried her best to stop me from moving around, my kids spent most of time at the pool, Dad stayed his grumpy self, but tried to remain nice about it because he enjoyed the company.

It was a good getaway. I didn't feel the need to clean and organize as I would be at home. I wonder what my mom would say about that. I think she's still recovering from cleaning.
Love my mom. :-)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wished for a vacation, wish granted, or was it?

I finally have my wish. I got a break. A well deserved break.

But as everything in life, there was a catch. A big one.

I had a lingering back pain that came  time to time. Instead of finding a primary care physician, as I did for the kids, I went to the ER. Got medication that took care of the problem, I thought.
As always, I ignored it by putting band aid on it.

But  last week, my body gave out. I couldn't get up from the floor. I called for help.

I went to the ER. I got pain medication and went home.

But did I look for a Doctor? Nope. As always, life got in the way. Meds kept my pain at bay. Too many things to do, too many responsibilities.

My need to continue as I usually do, I ended up in the ER again two days later.

Monday, I spent half a day searching for a doctor. Searching for my own doctor was worse than the back pain. After 19 phone calls, including 3 to the insurance company, I found a doctor. I went in at 230. By 530, I had complete workup including blood & other, plus X-ray, diagnosis, and proper medications.

Did I learn anything from this? I need to take care of myself, not just the family.

Now I am forced to sit here, off my feet, updating my blog as I wanted while doing some reading on the side.

I am looking forward to moving around again and being a mother instead of a zombie.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

If I only knew...

This is W at 100 days old. In Korea, babies celebrate 100 days after birth and 1st birthdays. Along with the celebration, we have their picture taken.

I was a young mom at 21, clueless and immature. Motherhood was new, and I treated him like a very cute personal doll. I was happy to have my happy, cute baby.

Never did I imagine the challenges that were to come.

I used to think it was my fault that he had Aspergers. I know that the cause is still being studied. But there was always that guilt in my heart, that I somehow contributed to it.

I used to see him only as a happy baby. My perception changed as we were confronted with challenges of his, then undiagnosed, disorder. I asked myself if there were anything I could have done differently that would have lessened his difficulties. But I decided to forgive myself. I decided to remember him as the happy baby he was and be thankful that he is a happy person now.

"Life is an adventure in forgiveness. - Norman Cousins"

Monday, August 15, 2011

Therapy & my aspie

To be honest, the therapy he received was very minimal. He was recommended for speech pathologist by his Pediatrician due to his speech delay. He was enrolled in Special Education class to continue to receive it. 
I was clueless and so was everyone else. Autism was the farthest thing in my mind. No one thought to ask because the only visible difficulty he had was speech.
W was a quiet and content child, who many believed would grow out of the phase and join the rest of his peers. That did not happen. When speech followed, we assumed things would fall into place. I was wrong. He was speaking, but not enough to carry on a conversation. I could have been proactive, but I wasn't. 
He was integrated into regular kindergarten where he continue to receive speech therapy. I had to pull him out of school because I found something disturbing. I visited his class one day and found him alone in a booth desk, while other kids sat in a circular desk. Teacher’s excuse was that he was inattentive. But I was never notified that he was having any difficulties. I pulled him out and placed him in private school for two weeks, then finally to a very small Montessori school where he thrived. Since he was in private, I had to pay out of pocket for a voice coach to continue his speech therapy. 
When he had a diagnosis, after much bullying in school, he was recommended for therapy. Since he was functioning well in school and required no assistance, once a week therapy was the only option he had. There was no group sessions being offered and information was very limited. 
These were his main difficulties:
  1. Meltdowns - consisting of him sobbing as if someone died
  2. Lack of self-awareness - circling, smiling, unaware of his surrounding
  3. Eye contact 
  4. Focus on one subject- trains, planes, automobiles, transportation, reading, drawing, and disasters.
  5. Monotone or over-animated voice
  6. Unable to hold conversations - usually one sided, sticking to his topic
  7. Unable to read body language or other facial cues
  8. Studdering, or repeating back what the other person said
  9. Selective memory - remembering every fact from book but forget simple instruction
His therapy & his voice coach helped with the following. His meltdowns decreased significantly because he was no longer frustrated by what he did not understand. His voice coach helped with his over animated voice, his gestures, and holding simple conversations. The therapies were only two hours a week. I had to take over where therapy ended.
I have to admit that I wasn’t proactive about reading more on this subject.  I had a session with the therapist to see what she was doing so I could continue at home. I was and am a very strict mom and sometimes, to others I can even sound mean.  
I will probably cover the things I used to do in another post. But this is where he stands. He can hold conversations now, with minimal redirection. He controls the tone of his voice and gestures when he speaks. He can keep eye contact by looking at the nose or the face instead of the eyes.  He stopped going around in circles or smiling and talking to himself. 
It wasn't simple. He is constantly working on his skills. Boyscouts & JROTC is helping him practice the skills he learned. Since the bullying incident, he has matured more and is capable of avoiding some situations. His therapist said he only needed on session per month, but I insisted on twice a month. I'm afraid how it would be once therapy is no longer available to him. 

All in all, therapy helped W learn the skills he needed to grow. For me, I learned to understand how W works and I am still learning to be a good mother to my aspie son. 

For more posts from 34 bloggers on this topic check out: Best of the Best, Edition 9: Therapy & Special Needs Kids  http://bit.ly/og6To4

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

New perspective on a moody day

I had one of those days. I left the house in the morning with my preschooler and came home around dinner. Errands, drop offs, pickups, and waiting. I came home exhausted. The rainy weather was not helping either. After putting dinner on the table, I tweeted my self-indulgent tweets. My tweeps came to my rescue.
       I was humbled by their struggles and made me feel ashamed that I was complaining about mine.
 Then I looked up and saw this. It was still raining, but there was a rainbow. 
It changed my mood instantly. I found my sunshine. It's all about perspective.

Look up once in a while. It is a marvellous feeling.

Some people are making such thorough preparation for a rainy days that they aren't enjoying today's sunshine. - William Feather

Thursday, August 4, 2011

My aspie's bucket list

W came home today and handed me his planner.  His assignment was to create a bucket list. It made me laugh to get a glimpse of what was in his mind. Very colorful indeed. I like the last one.

So here is the big reveal.

  1. Become a doctor who works primarily with low income families.
  2. Attend John Hopkins University in Baltimore Maryland
  3. Graduate from High school
  4. Fall in love
  5. Have a date to the prom
  6. Get married on a top of a mountain
  7. Sing at a karaoke bar with a jazz band
  8. Write a fantasy / science fiction novel
  9. Explore the problems Islamic-Americans face in America
  10. Go to a heavy metal concert in New York
  11. Drive across America
  12. Buy a house for my Uncle/Aunt and Mom/Dad when they get old
  13. Travel to Korea
  14. Live to see the day when North and South Korea is united
  15. Watch a place in London's Globe Theatre
  16. Visit Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
  17. Rescue people from human slavery in India
  18. Take a look at the Acropolis in Athens
  19. Pay respects at Auschwitz - Birkenau
  20. Watch an Olympic game in the audience
  21. Travel on a flight from Singapore to New York
  22. Listen to "1001 songs before you die"
  23. Dine at a 5-star restaurant in Hong Kong
  24. Spend a week in the Laksawedeep islands in India
  25. Buy a house in Rome, near Victor Emmanuelle II monument
  26. Ski in Vail, Colorado and then surf in California in one day
  27. Be an extra in a music video
  28. Watch a Russian ballet in St. Petersburg
  29. Take a river cruise in France
  30. Taste actual Belgium Waffles
  31. Backpack to Monte Carlo, Monaco
  32. Watch Mozart's Marriage of Figaro in Vienna Austria
  33. Bath in volcanic hot springs in Iceland
  34. Party in Cancun Mexico
  35. Become a vegetarian for 2 weeks
  36. Become vegan for a week
  37. Actually try PX90
  38. Watch Korean Arirang without sleeping, from back to back
  39. Launch fireworks in the desert
  40. Pilot a plane
  41. Skydiving in Australia
  42. Go on a safari in Kenya
  43. Watch a fashion show in Tokyo
  44. Build houses in Haiti
  45. Be a blood donor
  46. Donate my body to science when I die
  47. Be fluent in Korean & Spanish 
  48. Have children
  49. Travel around the world for one year
  50. Be happy & optimistic
If you made it this far. Please leave a comment. He thought it was funny I was doing this post.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Remembering Asperger Diagnosis

"It was not the end of the world. It was not a death sentence. It was a much deserved beginning."

I can not remember the exact date when I got his diagnosis.
I sat in the cold office, in an unusually clear day, in Hawaii.
Will sat in the waiting room engrossed in his book as usual.

Doctor entered with a thin manila folder and sat across me.
I held my breath fidgeting in my seat.
"You're son has aspergers." Doc said.

My heart sank as I sat there holding back the tears.
I was not surprised at her diagnosis. I expected as much.

There was a name.

I could finally start doing things for him that would make a difference.
I could stop blaming myself because it was not my fault.
I did not know much about the disorder. But it was a start.

I only wished I had the diagnosis earlier because I fear he suffered much due to my ignorance.
With that aside, it turned out to be a very clear day for both of us.
We have been learning, coping, and growing ever since.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

How I dodged this bullet: Sleep issues with my aspie

“Mom, I used to dream of evil tofu and dancing vegetables that I had to fight off with a tea spoon.” Will said to me as I worked to complete this post.

Will turned six-teen this past June. He has come a long way since the days of speech therapy and his diagnosis.

He was a happy baby with no particular problem with sleep. When he was one, I would sing for an hour, and then it gradually moved on to reading for an hour, and someone would have to stay in the room with him until he fell asleep.

He slept on his own when he was about four. Then he began coming into my room in the middle of the night until I chased him back to his room. To be honest, I was hard on him. There may have been something I could have done, if I had known what was going on. He could not tell me what was bothering him. I treated him as if he was a spoiled child.

After days of sending him back to his room, he never came out again. I am very lucky because he made it through without too much difficulty on my part. Then he received his diagnosis when he was 8.
Since then, I tried to stay consistent as possible rituals.

1. His bag is ready for the next day.
2. No cell phone, Itouch, computer, TV in his room. The only electronic is the alarm clock.
3. Lights out at 9:15 unless he has unfinished homework or it is a weekend.

He has been remarkably cooperative, but I have tried to be consistent and it has worked for me. I hope he doesn’t start rebelling.

For other bloggers regarding this topic, must check out the July 15th Best of the Best bloggers:  http://tinyurl.com/4yd6yea

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Lessons on Social Skills...with Facebook & other social media

The other day, I was dropping off my aspie to summer school when he received a call. Since I was driving, I couldn't hear anything. He quickly hung up. But the confusion on his face was evident. There was no time for a discussion so I dropped him off.

I casually asked him when he came home. It was about Facebook. I immediately remembered his counselor saying that facebook made her job harder than it already was. He told me that Girl A was posting something on Facebook about Girl B. Girl B called my aspie to talk about it. Anyway, it was another drama which could be something or nothing. But it did set off some alarms in my mind.

This made me question why I was letting him do facebook in the first place. It's bad enough that he has difficulties with social skills, now he had to take on a whole new task of interacting online. Even I have difficulties reading between the lines during online discussions or tweeting.

We had a good talk about what was appropriate and not. And I just made it a little simpler to be a gentlemen online as he is in person. I also said he is a good friend for listening, but to avoid the landmind of repeating things that were told to him. I had other advice too.

At the end, the use of social media is one topic that will always remain in our discussions and he still has his facebook account that I monitor time to time.  I just hope I'm doing the right thing. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Hard lesson for my aspie...bullies are everywhere!

It was just another weekend, another day, Will walking the dog. It wasn't that early on Saturday morning. He left with our 16 year old Shih tsu for a walk around the block.
To my surprise, he had that look on his face that made me cringe.
It was of utter confusion and shock. His face was flustered.

The story goes, there was a man in his fifties with his dog standing across the street staring at Will. Will looks back because he thinks maybe the man is going to talk to him or say something. As an aspie, his typical reaction is to stand there because he hasn't faced this situation before.

Then the man walks over and tells him he needs to pick up after the dog then takes a picture of the dog. What is he the dog police? Will said he would've been paying attention to the dog if the man wasn't staring at him.

My aspie is very black and white when it comes to direction. He knows and very stubbornly sticks to my direction. He even takes multiple bags for the dog when walking. My aspie is very black and white when it comes to direction. He knows and very stubbornly sticks to my direction. He even takes multiple bags for the dog when walking. But I digress. He came home.

That was the only time I regretted banning his cell phone use while walking the dog. I thought it would take away distractions and make the walk a little shorter. He was less than a block away from our house and in a somewhat exclusive of neighborhoods.

As some people may have read on my blog, he had his incidents of bullying at school that was taken care of. So you can guess how I reacted. I kept my cool and had to explain to him calmly, but I tweeted about it so I could calm down.  I surely couldn't go off the handle. 

My basic explanation was that there bullies everywhere. But I was proud that he didn't react the way I would have because there would've been a fight for sure. A good lesson, but a disappointing reality of life for my son. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Who said Summer break had anything to do with break?

The summer break began at the end of May for all the kids. But for me, the work began that day.
Keeping them occupied without losing my sanity is a challenge to say the least.

W thought he was actually going to have a time off from school work. Boy he was wrong. He had a few days off, then he was off to summer school to take a Hawaiian history (required for graduation) until 1 pm. Then he has art class at the Academy Art center until 245, and has his piano lessons on Fridays after the art class and then Korean class on Sunday.

The days of having lazy summers are a thing of the past. The summers are shorter which means less time to do anything else. I was not too keen on structured activity, but I gave in because he wanted to do the art and Korean class.  He only has Saturdays to meet his friends. 

All the while, he has to do two papers on Thoreau, and have five books, required reading for he summer for the fall AP classes.  With all that activity, he still manages to find time for his drawing, writing, and listening to music, checking his email and updating facebook.

It is strange but we don't even have time for the beach and it is weird because I live on an island. Maybe I'll get to see the ocean this weekend.  :)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Mom, you have a message from twitter!

Yes, I have a problem.

I have been trapped in twitterville for quite sometime now. I have let my iphone, slowly but surely, takeover every aspect of my life. It has replaced my TV and my computer. I do all finances, keep in touch with my family and friends, watch movies, play games, read, and listen to music. I also have educational games for the kids that we do together. That aside, I do have a feeling that it is consuming me. It gives me the ability to zone out completely from what is happening around me and that cannot be good. I have been consistent regarding rules about use of electronics for the kids, but there is no one to stop me from getting out of control as my husband is gone 9 months out of the year.

My first rule is that the internet is used only in the downstairs computer and I check the history, cookies, and caches to make sure they were not visiting any inappropriate sites. It helps that I'm a computer science major, but you don't have to be one to do it and no new software needs to be purchased to do this.

My second rule is there is no electronics in the children's room, other than the alarm clock. Will's phone and Itouch is left in the living room before going to bed. When I gave him some freedom before and he ended up lacking sleep from texting and listening to music and he started to fall behind in school and falling back to his old behaviors.

My last rule is the games (DS, Playstation, Wii, Apps for Itouch/Iphone) is all rated G or have limited violence and no sexual content. They have access to their DS, playstation, and Wii because they have not wanted to play with it everyday. If they wanted to I try to limit it, unless it is the only thing they want to do. Sometimes, I just don't allow it and take them outside to the park and have Will go for a run.

Don't get me wrong. There is no way I can filter out everything. They have watched action movies and other things with violence and some sexual content, but no horror movies. The key is that I speak with them about what they are being exposed to it. They are aware of swearing, but know not to use them. And I have explained it to them in the only way they will understand when it comes to use of the internet.

I'm pretty frank when it comes to the use of Internet. I had to tell them about the digital debris that we leave behind when we use on the Internet. We will die, but what we have done online lives for eternity. The news lately have given a great example for our discussion. I have made it easier for my aspie by making it clear, black and white, legal and illegal, about our online behavior.  It has helped. He knows exactly what is not appropriate and legal. And when in doubt, don't do it.

Having said that, I'm not naive. I know he is exposed to things when he leaves the house. But I ask questions and discuss it with him because that is about all you can do. As for the other kids, I prefer to have friends come over to my house and I rarely let them go over to theirs. Sleepovers is something that does not happen unless it is at my house. All I can say is that it is up to you the parent to decide what and how much of it is allowed. 

Back to my problem. All is good with what I have set up for my kids. But I have to admit, it is harder when it comes to myself. I have seen lately how it has been affecting me. I do what I need to do like taking the kids to school, homework, appointments and homework. But I see how the house is a little messier, and how I'm backed up in doing other non-essential chores and I definitely don't spend as much time as I used to with the kids and lastly, I haven't updated this blog for awhile.

I am happy to say that participating with this topic has given me the opportunity to reflect on what is currently happening to me. So I will end my piece here to spend the remaining hour with my kids before bed.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Preschool or No Preschool for my NT child?

It has been a miserable weeks for me. I have two other kids. My main focus was always on Will because of his disorder. My youngest, Aidan, four years old, had no speech delays or any other difficulties like his brother so naturally he has been on a back burner and I was in no hurry to put him in a preschool. Until I started looking for a preschool.

Technically, he can qualify to go to Kindergarten as long as he turns five before December. But I don't think he is ready. So I looked around for a preschool that I could send him a few times a week and what I found was just horrifying.  I was aghast at the cost of preschool. There was no such thing as half day for preschoolers anymore, at least, not around here.  It costs anywhere from $550 to $800, 8am to 2:30/5:30.  Most if not all were geared toward the working parents.

I thought to myself, the boy can't even wipe his own behind and I'm going to spend what on him? The more I looked, the more discouraging it was.

As I took Aidan around to different preschools, I felt really guilty. The schools have a keen way of making you feel like an inept parent. Somehow you need to put him in a institution to get him ready for school. Or he will fall behind or you are ruining his chances of going to a decent college. As most parents do, I did what you usually do. Talk to whomever is willing to listen to you. I asked around, talked to my sister, tweeted about it, researched it, and even resorted to asking my four year old.

I put him on my lap, "Are you worth $600 a month for preschool?" He replied. No.

My sister and I laughed about it. It was funny because it sounded very desperate.

I put in the application for a half day, got all the paperwork done for the preschool. Yesterday, I finally made my decision. It wasn't going to make me feel better either way. There is no right or wrong. So decided to keep him home. I'm sure my college education will pay off here.  I'll give him all the attention and loving at home. Hopefully, the lazy side won't take over.

Signed up for a parent/child art class for the summer and I will just have to live with the guilt.

I won't complain anymore. He is healthy and happy to be with his mom. And so am I (most of the time.)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Looking at College & Growing Up for my Aspie

      Our meeting with the career counselor went very smoothly.
I hate to brag but this was one of the few times I didn't cringe when he spoke for the first time in a interview setting. He didn't make the awkward gestures, and tried to keep eye contact and didn't animate his voice.
      I asked the counselor whether I should tell the college regarding his disorder. Her reply was simple. It was up to him because it was a medical issue and it was his right to tell or not tell. There wasn't anything she else she could offer. It was a familiar advice. So we moved on and finished what was on our agenda. We covered all the classes he was going to take next year, what he needed to do during the summer and schedules to take the SAT and senior year.
      But that question of whether telling the school about his disorder was constant in my mind. Does it help or hurt his chances especially when there is so much competition?
It never occurred to me to ask because I was so used to making all the decisions.  Maybe it was a cop out, but I told him it was really up to him as I gave him my okay to tell his friends about his disorder. 
      Then I asked, "Do you think it helps or hurts your chances of getting into the college you want?"     
      His response was immediate.
     "I think it helps. I want to tell them because it is who I am. I want them to know all the difficulties I had and the things I had to work on."
     He made perfect sense. I should have asked him for his opinion from the beginning.

     Decision has been made and he wants to write about it when time comes for the essays. I was filled with pride and sadness. I was proud he was making his choice and sad because he was no longer that boy in the blue's clues costume.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Parenthood finale

Note: This post was deleted when blogger went off line for a day so here is my little note on the finale.

Parenthood finale left me speechless for all the wrong reasons.
When it aired the first time, I was ecstatic about having a character with aspergers being featured in a network prime time show.  I was happy it was being mentioned, it was being recognized, and we, the parents, were being acknowledged in a small way.
Then the inevitable disappointment. 
In the finale, Max, the character diagnosed with Aspergers while waiting in the hospital, threw a tantrum because he wanted to do something.  Then he did the same with his father when his father wanted to ask him about where he lost the retainer. In the end, he apologized for his behavior and announced he had aspergers.
Admittedly, my expectations were high from the beginning and I wasn't expecting the show to centered around the disorder.  But the way the creators decided to portray him was completely off. They tried to show Max having a sort of meltdown, but he just came off as a spoiled, self-centered child in bad need of discipline. His character seemed too robotic and one dimensional.
I wish my son was able to communicate his wants and his feelings so verbally and effectively. I can't even get him off his topic and even if I could, he would repeat what I have said instead of his own opinions.  Announcing he had aspergers? Apologizing for what he has done wrong? Asking if his mom was mad at him because he had aspergers?
Don't they have consultants?  A test group perhaps?
Using a caricature to represent a disorder is just pandering for ratings and doing great injustice all of us affected by it. 
They haven't said if this was going to be renewed for the next season, if it is, I hope they do their research, but I'm sure not going to watch to find out.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Stress, What stress?

Yes, I've been MIA for a while. My little opinion on parenthood finale was written as soon as I watched it. I had to mull over it a little while before publishing anything negative. It is so hard being positive. Sometimes, you just need to let out steam.  But how?

“When angry, count ten before you speak; if very angry, a hundred.” - Thomas Jefferson

Everyone deals with stress a little differently. Some take baths, do yoga, listen to music,take a walk, read a book, or watch TV.  I, on the other hand, found myself yelling at the kids. Yes, my voice climbed an octave that I've never imagined I could reach. I only realized I was performing a screeching aria when my lovely sister gave me a gentle nudge via twitter, "What the hell is wrong with you?." And we were in the same room.
The inevitable regret came almost immediately and of course, the awkward silence. I didn’t dwell on it, and I went on as if nothing happened.  This was something I learned from Will.
The other day, I had one of those repetitive conversations before he walked out the door. I sounded mean. I'm only human. One can only repeat it so many times before wanting to pull out all my hair. He went to school as usual, but I sat there with such icky feeling and a bad taste in my mouth. I worried that I ruined his day. My sister walked in and told me that he was walking toward the bus stop in a good mood. It was remarkable.

“Expectation is the root of all heartache.” - William Shakespeare

Expectations from myself and expectations for my son. I know he is smart and capable, but when he brings home poor grades, I'm devastated. I know it's not the end of the world, but for that split second it feels like it. I have expectations that I set for myself and sometimes need to let them go. I have to admit to myself that I can't do everything that I expect myself to do all the time. When I remember these things, life is a little less tense.

“Where Ignorance is bliss, ‘tis folly to be wise.” - Thomas Gray

Denial. It comes in very handy at times. Deny there is a problem, deny you have a long list of things to do, and laugh about it because reality isn’t that faraway. It sounds crazy, but it works. It sure beats crying about it.
So there it is.  Three simple things that can keep me from my own meltdowns. Keep my mouth shut when I'm angry, lower my expectations, and laugh about it.  It is easier said then done. I can only try.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Power of using Ands instead of Buts

Will's condition has lead to me to read a lot of interesting self-help books. Topics like reading body language, non-verbal communication, speaking effectively, and how to win people over. I didn't realize there were so many of them out there. I managed to skim through many of those and found one thing in common.

Many of the authors pointed to the misuse of the word "But." They said to use "And" instead "But" because "But" negates what you were intending to say. I didn't realize how true it was until I looked back at what I use to say to Will.

For example, this was how I used to speak to him regarding his grades

"It's great that you got 5 As this quarter, but what is this "C"?"
 It started out like a compliment, but it wasn't. 

Instead I could have said was, "It's great that you got 5As this quarter and maybe we can try to put more effort on this one next time."

I have realized it is hard to avoid the word entirely and I found that when I reduced the use of it, my words became out more positive to the person hearing them.  Thanks to Will, I am learning new things everyday.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Giving Credit where Credit is Due

Like most parents, I find myself repeating things to my son. I get frustrated, stressed, and sometimes I feel like he is doing this to me on purpose.  And I know he's not.
Then I thought about the things I don't have to do compared to what I had to a few years ago, I realized that he has made a lot of progress.  But I don't give him credit for all the things he does on his own.
There are things that I don't have to remind him anymore.  He remembers to go to school, take his things, remembers to do his homework, walk the dog, get home on time, and text me if something comes up. He tries to keep eye contact and tries to be more aware of his surroundings. He even goes to his therapy on his own and make his own appointments and actually remembers to go.

I should give him credit for what he has accomplished and I should thank him, but I don't.  
Maybe I will today. I just hope it doesn't go to his head.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

1001 Tips for the Parents of Autistic Girls by Tony Lyons BOOK GIVEAWAY

1,001 Tips for the Parents of Autistic Girls
In celebration of Autism Awareness Month and as a part of SOS Best of Best Book Giveaways, I am giving away 1,001 Tips for the Parents of Autistic Girls by Tony Lyons (co-author of Cutting Edge Therapies for Autism). 

This book was very organized and easy to read with a little cheat sheet in the front to jump from topic to topic. It was refreshing to see a book for girls, and as a mom of a Aspie boy, it was still educational to read.  Here is how you can win a copy.

Leave a comment or share your story on this post. And/or you could follow me on twitter, that would be nice. I will pick one person from the comments and you will have the book in a week.  Be sure to leave your email so I can contact you if you win. This giveaway ends April 30, 2011. Good luck!

P.S. I will ship to APO, Puerto Rico, American Samoa and Canada too.

Make sure you check out S-O-S Best of Best Book Reviews and Giveaways http://tinyurl.com/3pzn135!