October 16, 2008

shhhhhh!

don't tell my kids but i'm hiding. i took my tea and my breakfast and i'm entrenched in front of the computer. it's not a very secret hiding spot so i'm sure i will be found out any moment. that's why i'm whispering. they're still eating breakfast and doing their chores. i think they're trying to hide from me as well so i won't make them start on their schoolwork.

the shades are open at the window next to me and everything outside is wet. i love the fall. i just want to curl up in a blanket and watch the leaves and the rain and sip tea or cocoa. it energizes me. well, not so much at the moment! but that's what i would prefer to be doing right now.

this time of the year is so busy for me. i have 4 craft shows in november and i usually spend at least 2 months before that trying to get ready for the shows. for most of them, it's set up on friday, work saturday and sunday and then take down on sunday evening. but i'm also homeschooling during all this. i have to try to keep the kids on the same schedule as much as possible or we'll be dealing with serious behavior problems. one of these days i might go into detail about what happened last year around this time but i don't have the energy right now. it was too stressful.

freeze! i hear footsteps outside my door......don't make a sound......whew! we're safe for now. that was too close. i need to sign off before my post is invaded. sometimes it's rough here in the trenches. there's never enough contact with the outside world. if you get this message, be assured that i'm hanging on. my mission is thus far a success. the children are behaving and learning and growing. they are------

i've been found out! i'm outnumbered! retreat! save yourself! i'll do my best to survive......don't forget about me.....tell----..........

October 8, 2008

Lost and Found

All year long my children have been looking forward to a special event--the Lego Convention (yes, there really is such a thing). Howdy is fanatical about Legos and the other 2 just think they're fun but we all enjoy going. It's held in Seattle and people come from all over the country to show off their Lego sculptures. They have a Space Needle that is taller than me, an Eiffel Tower, a 10+ foot Titanic. It's fun to see what they can come up with.

Hubby had a friend's birthday party to go to but I headed out with the kids and their friend, G. It was very hot, very crowded and people kept pushing and shoving but we still had a great time. When it was almost time to go, we decided to head back to one of the tables so that G could buy one more figure. Bubba kept trying to read his new Lego magazine while we were walking and I had to keep steering him back on course since he wasn't paying attention. I let the kids know the plan--one more stop and then home--and we set off for the table not too far from where we were at.

We got there and I helped G elbow his way to the front. I then made sure my kids were stashed in a nearby corner so I could watch everyone at once. Only Bubba wasn't with us. I looked around but didn't see him. Knowing he had to be standing in front of some display that we passed, completely oblivious to the fact that we left him, I sent G back to grab him. But G couldn't find him. I parked G with the other 2 with explicit instructions "NOT TO MOVE FROM THAT SPOT!" while I went to hunt down Bubba. I was a little frustrated that I hadn't made sure he was walking with me where I could've kept an eye on him but I was not worried. I know this kid. I just knew I was going to find him drooling over some new Lego set on display. So I walked back the way we came, searching through the crowd for my son. I even started calling his name. I still wasn't worried, I just figured some adult was probably blocking him from my view. When he didn't answer I started to get a little more frustrated. So I stopped where I was and shouted, "I have a lost child!" That got everyone's attention. Heads whipped around and I gave a description of what he was wearing and what he looked like. (I never thought I would be able to recall what my child was wearing if I needed to give out a description like that so I was pretty proud of myself for knowing exactly what he had on.)

While I stood there waiting for my little brown-headed boy to pop out of the crowd, some nice gentleman asked me if I had told the security officers at the door. I told him no, that I hadn't told anyone before this moment. He said, "Why don't we go to security and let them know what's going on?"

I need to stop here for a moment. As I'm writing this, it seems like the most obvious thing that I should've done. But I was actually irritated with this man. I didn't have time to talk to security! I had to stay right there and wait for Bubba to appear. If I left that spot, how would he find me? And what if the other kids got worried? They wouldn't know where I was either. But I reasoned with myself that there were lots of adults looking around for him now and it was probably a good idea after all to let security know there was a lost child.

As I was walking toward the entrance with this man and his wife, something occurred to me. If something had happened to Bubba, I had just wasted all that time being so determined that he wasn't anywhere else. He could've been carried off while I stood there waiting for him to answer me already. (In reality, I had only been looking for him for about 5 minutes but it had felt like an hour.) That's when panic set in. I started sobbing. I couldn't see, I couldn't talk, I was hysterical. It hit me that my son was lost. I had no idea where he was or who he was with. I can't even think about it without crying.

The nice couple helped get me to the front door where I think I gave a description of him. I wasn't there long when someone said, "I think we found him." Then a lady who was working there came through the front door with Bubba. I started bawling all over again. I squeezed him up and alternated between kissing him all over and yelling at him to NEVER leave the building if he can't find me. Of course, my hysterics freaked him out and he started crying. But he was found, that's all that mattered.

Later, when we were leaving, Bubba pointed to the stairs that lead to street level and more buildings and told me that he had gone up there looking for me! Between the very busy street and Seattle Center he could've been hit by a car or snatched up and I never would've known it. I am so thankful to God that he was okay. The lady who found him had looked outside and heard him calling for me, that's how she even knew he was out there. Whoever she is, I'm so thankful for her as well.

Needless to say, I cried off and on about it the rest of the day. First, I had to tell my friends when I went to homegroup what had happened. Then MC came to homegroup later and I had to tell him. Yeah, I cried all night. I know I'm not the first person to lose child. To be honest, that's not even the first time I've lost Bubba. (I don't do it on purpose!) But all I could think of was "what kind of mother am I?" I guess all I can ask for is that it won't leave any permanent damage on his psyche. I really hate to give him anything else to unload at therapy!

October 3, 2008

Smashed Potatoes

One of the things that you typically encounter with sensory issues is eating problems. Certain foods have too strong a smell or don't look right or the texture is not tolerable. For whatever the particular issue, you have a whole new set of hoops to jump through just so that your child will thrive.

As I have readily admitted, I am quite possibly the world's pickiest adult. (MC's not too far behind me.) And as much as I have fun with the fact that everyone blames my children's eating habits on me and my example (often, I am even the first one to say it), I feel that I must take a moment to set the record straight. It's true that the list of foods I like is much shorter than the list of foods I don't like. However, that is because I've actually tried most of those other foods! I do try foods, I just don't like them. But I can't even get my kids to try anything new.

OK, so that's only partly true. I've never had a problem with Sassy (God bless her), and Howdy has really started to expand his menu and try new things. So that leaves (who else?) Bubba.


I told you that I'm making my kids eat whatever I've made for dinner or they don't eat. There are plenty of nights that Bubba just won't eat. And he's okay with that. But we're attempting to get him used to at least trying something. They say you may have to present a new food to a child a minimum of 10 times before they will eat it. For kids who have more severe problems, you may actually have to start with them tolerating being in the same room as certain foods. Luckily it's not that bad here.

One of the things I have never been able to get Bubba to eat is mashed potatoes. I'm convinced it's just a texture thing. He also won't eat scrambled eggs, rice, pudding, Jell-O or applesauce. But I LOVE mashed potatoes so we have them alot. One night at dinner I did force him to eat one tiny bite. After much screaming and crying he finally took a small bite. He made horrible, gagging faces while it was in his mouth. Instead of being able to swallow it down quickly, he threw up all over his dinner plate. I gave up on mashed potatoes.

But it's come up again and this time I have the help of a professional. In Bubba's weekly "playgroup" (that's code for speech with another
Autistic boy), the therapist has started working with the boys on getting past some of these food/texture issues. We are starting with...mashed potatoes. Or, as Bubba calls them, "smashed potatoes". So we went to playgroup and the boys got to make their own instant potatoes. Then what they do is go little by little to work up to taking a bite.

Here's how it goes. First, they have to touch the potatoes to their tongue. That's it. No tasting, eating or swallowing involved. For each time that they do it, they cross off a box on their chart. When they do it 4 times, they are rewarded with a small piece of chocolate. Then they have to lick it. Again, they do that 4 times and are rewarded with chocolate. Next, they actually have to leave a little piece of it on their tongues and swallow it. After that, they have to take a bite and swallow it. Bubba struggled with it, and made those faces again but he actually made it through and even took his "bite". He did it. It was very exciting to see him eat something that he's always had such a problem with. We are very proud of him.

Bubba is still not sold on smashed potatoes. We will have to keep working on this food, and eventually it will get replaced with another one. It's very tedious, frustrating and time-consuming. However, it's worth it if it makes eating and dinner time any better.

I want you to remember something when you're around any Autistic children. If you get frustrated at their behavior or wonder why no one's "worked with them" to stop a bad habit, they've probably been working on it for months, if not years. It is a very sloooow process. And for every behavior you seem to get control of, another new one will take it's place. It's so rewarding to see my son be able to turn around some of those "uncontrollable" behaviors. But there's never time to celebrate long before a new challenge demands my time, patience and microscopic baby steps.

Tell me again why I'm so tired all the time?