Regression

My son is one of the smartest people I know and I’m not just saying that because I’m his mom (I think). From day one, I have always found myself thinking that my child was abnormally bright for his age. He knew his colors before other kids and he could remember people and places and he could even connect certain things together. For example, if I bought him a toy from a specific grocery store, the next time we would so much as pass by that same grocery store on the road, he would get all excited and tell me, “Mommy, that’s the store where we bought my green bunny rabbit!” For a 4 year old, I thought it was especially perceptive and observant of him to remember that experience from months before.

Maybe I thought so highly of my son because he was my child, but I was fascinated with him and his little big brain.

However, despite all of these amazing things that my child knew and said and did, he also had some pretty big issues when it came to more simple things like remembering the order of the alphabet or numbers 1-10 and knowing how to dress himself. He also knew how to do things one day and then the next he didn’t, like potty training or brushing his teeth. He would get so close to being fully potty trained one day and then the next day he would wake up and be wetting his diaper all day with no attempt to use the toilet. It was almost as if when he went to sleep, his memory was erased and he woke up with no recollection of the progress we had made from the previous days.

Some days were better than others and sometimes he wouldn’t forget everything all at once. Or maybe he would forget something and then re remember it the next day. I felt as if everyday was a hit or miss with him for a while and it was so frustrating because I kept thinking to myself that he was so smart, he must just be doing these things on purpose.

After we got his ASD diagnosis, I learned about regression and realized that my son wasn’t doing these things on purpose, but I feel like I’ve never truly learned how to really help him through these boughts of regression, rather just how to trudge along through them until they eventually fade away.

For example, my son was recently learning how to potty train through the night (he has been potty trained through the day for a while now) and he was doing well for a while and suddenly he can’t get through the night without an accident anymore. I know he will eventually overcome the regression, but it must be frustrating for him and it’s upsetting for me that I don’t know a better way to help him. All I can hope is that he learns patience and perseverance through these times. I am confident that he will.

Advertisements

Autism Awareness in Public

I had the most unfortunate experience today. I went to get my teeth cleaned and had an amazing conversation with a great dental hygienist. Sounds like such a rough day, right? Well, truly, it was. She was seemingly a wonderful woman-bubbly and cute, sweet and fun to talk to. She was talking to me about her child, a one and a half year old little girl, and how she wasn’t sure if she wanted another child but she loved her little girl oh so much.

She went on and on about all the cute things her daughter did that melted her heart and how much she and her husband couldn’t get over how they made such a sweet girl. Blah, the usual first time infant mommy things. We also laughed together about usual mom stuff like how we couldn’t get anything done without a little person by our side and how hard it was to find time to still be ourselves without intermixing being a parent. She truly seemed like such a sweet woman and I didn’t once bring up my son’s special needs because it didn’t come up.

As the conversation dwindled down to nothing, we moved on to dental hygiene and how she became a dental hygienist since that had been an all time dream career of mine for a long time. She mentioned that it would be hard to do that school work with a child (mind you, she still had no idea that my son has special needs) and suggested I look into dental assisting programs which are usually simpler and shorter. She went on to say (and I quote) “The program just down the block is so easy. One girl in our office just finished it and she’s Autistic so that’s how easy it is.”

Needless to say, our conversation ended shortly after that. I didn’t say anything mean like the thoughts that popped into my head. Nor did I tell her that my son is autistic and people with autism are actually highly intelligent and don’t need to be compared to people with low IQs or people who are strapped for time and can’t afford to give all their effort into a program. I didn’t tell her that the girl with autism in her dental office that she was referring to who completed the “easy program down the street” probably aced that program because she is very smart and a dedicated learner and not because the program is “not hard.” Nor did I tell her that I was offended on the girl’s behalf and my son’s behalf and every other person with autism’s behalf.

I simply nodded and told her “thanks for the help,” let her finish cleaning my teeth, and waited for the very nice and professional doctor to come in and finish my exam.

My thoughts on this were: is it worth it? Is it worth getting into a heated discussion about autism with this woman? Some people might think so and might think I was wrong for not saying something. That’s fine. I’m not embarrassed by my son’s disability or anyone else’s for that matter, but the way I look at it is that for the two seconds I had with her, I wasn’t going to change her mind about Autism. All she would have gotten out of my banter with her about Autism Awareness would have been, “what a crazy psycho my last patient was.”

And I am not saying Autism Awareness shouldn’t be spread. It SHOULD be spread, but choose your battles. Choose your audience. And certainly, choose your stage. Interrupting her dental assisting school choice rant would not have made a difference to her. There is always a place and a time for everything. At least that is how I see it.

“I hate you, Mommy”

My son told me he hated me the other day and it sliced right through my heart. He was having one of his meltdowns over whatever he was melting down over-probably not wanting to take a bath or not wanting to go to bed or clean up his toys… the usual. Anyway, there he was, melting down, screaming, crying, throwing a fit and there I was standing there, begging for him to stop.

“Please, honey, just please relax.” The things I usually say as I picture myself on a deserted island with a book in my hands and no boat to rescue me in sight.

“NO. I WON’T RELAX BECAUSE I. HATE. YOU. MOMMY!”

Well, those words crashed a huge tsunami over my deserted island and I nearly drowned in my horror and sadness.

“You what?!”

I watched my 4 year olds face turn bright red with anger and embarrassment mixed in one, but I had to give it to him, he didn’t give in and cower down from my shrill tone.

“I said I hate you, Mommy!” Then he proceeded to cry and scream even more than he was before he declared his aversion to me and my parenting.

Hate me? I thought. How could this child hate me when I do literally every single thing in the world for him?

That’s not even an overstatement when I think about it and I used to not have enough appreciation for mothers, fathers, guardians, and parents before I became one.

I gave birth to this screaming, yelling, tantruming, meltdown-having child. I take him to therapies and make sure he has all the resources he needs. I worry about him 24/7 365 days in my sleep, while I’m awake. He’s the first thing I think of when I wake up, the last thing I think about before I go to sleep. He’s what I base my life around; my school, my work, my (now non-existent) friendships and relationships, my shopping, my relaxation, my showers, my number 1s and 2s in the bathroom that he accompanies me to! I pray for him every night and I thank God for him every day and when he cries I cry, when he laughs I laugh. I take the hits, the punches, the scratches, the bites that he gives to me when throwing said tantrums and meltdowns. I take the stares and whispers when he has his meltdowns in public and I take people telling me I don’t know how to handle my child because they don’t understand Autism, let alone high functioning Autism. I’ve given up friendships and graduations and countless night sleeps, none that I would have asked for back. All for my child, at the small age of 4 years old, to say that he hates me over something so minuscule that I can’t even remember what it was.

Writing it out, it sounds dramatic and reading it back it will definitely sound considerably more over the top, but my feelings were absolutely crushed in that moment and I felt as if I had lost the parenting game that day. I felt like crawling up into a little ball in my bed and calling it quits. I felt like I should have passed the imaginary adult torch to my son and said, “here, you do it if you think it’s so damn easy,” and then just got in my car and drove away but, as aforementioned, he is four and would have just opted for M&Ms and Teen Titans Go! as a steady schedule for the rest of the week.

I think what got to my heart so much wasn’t that he actually said those words because, let’s face it, I knew it would happen eventually. I think I was just surprised by how young he started with it. I tried to stop myself and wonder, is it normal for a 4 year old to say that they hate their mother? Is is part of his meltdowns and disability with ASD/Aspergers? Is it a boy thing? But maybe it’s just a my son thing and maybe every kid is different in when they start to feel comfortable in expressing their feelings towards their parents.

My son eventually calmed down, his face went back to its normal color and his tears dried up. I didn’t take his words to heart and, of course, I didn’t hold it against his tiny self. I’m sure one day, when he’s a dad, he’ll understand.

 

 

 

Hyperactivity in Public

If your children are anything like my son, going out in public is no easy feat. To leave the house is an issue and to get back in the house is an issue. And once we’re in public, my mom brain is on fire, shooting off signals like, “is my child behaving to the best of his ability?” And “is anyone looking at my child weird because if so I’ll have no problem starting an unnecessary fight in my child’s honor.” Talk about a double-edged sword.

For my son, his battles consist of ADHD and Autism, along with some other disorders, but those are his most troubling. Those two together can be a most horrifying combo when I’m public, most specifically, so I’ve realized, because they tend to look similar to symptoms of a poorly brought up and misbehaved child. But when my son is having a full blown tantrum on the grocery store floor or decides that he wants to cover his ears and scream, “ITS TOO LOUD AND THAT LADY SMELLS BAD,” he isn’t being bad and it’s not that I am not raising him right.

When my son’s senses overstimulate he gets frustrated and one of the biggest things that he has regressed on lately which I thought we had gotten over two years ago is biting. So when he gets worked up and excited, he looks to bite anything and everything in sight. I have to remember he’s only 4 y/o and try not to get angry, but when he bites me or someone we’re out with in public and we scream in pain and shock, it’s no wonder strangers think my child is a little evil when they see a big smile on my finally relieved 4 y/o’s face.

Besides the meltdowns and biting, the loud noises and being a little too honest, my son can get very tired of being somewhere very fast. If he doesn’t want to be somewhere anymore, that’s it. We have to leave within five minutes of him letting us know that he’s ready to go or else everyone else will also know that he has had it. I can’t blame him. Besides the disabilities, it’s partially the age. He’s a kid and no kid wants to be anywhere they don’t want to be, but add in the ADHD and Autism and we hit a trifecta when my son has had it.

However, when my son doesn’t want to leave and we have to go (like, let’s say we’re at the park) well, that’s my worst nightmare. I’ve actually taken to bringing people along with me when I go to places like the park or doctor (yes, he enjoys the waiting room at the doctors office because of the toys and other kids). I do this because if he doesn’t want to leave and we have to go, it’s about 30 minutes of bribes and pleading from me. “Please, honey, we have to go now. We’ve been here for a long time. We can come back another day. I promise. If you get in the car we can go get a toy.”

Not ideal, but it helps if you have another person with you which is why I opt for the help if and when I can get it. Being a single parent, help isn’t always available, but I work my schedule around other people’s the best I can.

When my son is “acting up” in public, like say a restaurant or a store, I tend to take him out of the situation. I’m the type of person who doesn’t like to deal with the stares and the whispers mainly because I can only take so much before I internally burst and say something I’ll regret.

This brings me to a story I share whenever I have the chance:

My mom took my son out for a nice afternoon a few weeks back; they went to a children’s sensory museum and then to McDonalds. My son was all hyped up from the museum and ready to go eat after a long day filled of fun and playing with other kids. The way my mom described it, he burst into McDonalds and was running around a seemingly empty restaurant at 5pm on a Sunday night. My mom was looking at the menu and the cashier was staring at my son. As my mom described her she was young, a teenager. I’m only 22, but I like to think how I would feel about the situation if I didn’t have a child, never mind a special needs child. The girl probably thought that my son was my moms child and he was just a wild, misbehaved kid that my mom couldn’t, or wouldn’t, control, and when my mom told my son to calm down a few times and he wouldn’t, she stopped asking and went up to order.

The cashier took my moms order and then looked her right in the eyes and said, “Well, he’s a mess isn’t he?” And pointed to my child who is Autistic/ADHD. My mom, very nicely, pointed out to her that he has special needs, took our food, sat down with my son and had a great meal. I wouldn’t have been so nice.

So, with all of our hyperactivity battles in public, people can, indeed, be mean sometimes, however, other times I have experienced the occasional understanding smile and nod. I take it as it comes and try to work with my son and his abilities and do my best to ignore ignorance. Everyday is a learning experience, not only for my child, but for me as well. That’s something I do my best to remember.

Superheroes Need Sleep Too

My son has always had trouble with sleep but over the past year or so he’s especially had some issues with night terrors and being afraid of the dark. These issues have led him to wanting to sleep in my bed which most nights I welcome the cuddles, but on work and school nights, I try my hardest for him to get his rest in his own bed and my rest alone. Also, just because he sleeps next to me doesn’t mean his night terrors go away which results in a horrendous 3 AM wake up to being slapped, kicked, and punched in the face by a screaming 4 y/o who insists that there are monsters coming to hurt him… but I think I’ll save the night terrors for another post because they are an entire idea all on their own.

With all this being said, I’ve been trying very hard to get my son to stay in his own bed. I’ve tried staying with him until he falls asleep, which only results in him waking right up the second I move an inch away from his grasp. I’ve tried laying on the floor in an effort to at least give him his own space and my own space which led me to even more back problems than the sciatica I got from my pregnancy. And, of course, I’ve tried bribing him. No luck.

Just this past week I thought I had it. I was at my ends meet, I was about ready to give in and tuck that little 4 y/o into my bed and try to get the bare minimum shut eye I could before I would inevitably be awoken by frantic kicking and yelling, but then I had an epiphany. My son, like many other ASD children we’ve met, is infatuated with superhero’s. As he was screaming and pleading with me to let him sleep in my bed, he was shooting me with pretend lasers and Spider-Man webs.

“Honey, you can’t sleep in my bed.” I tried in a rather desperate act of tired I had never felt before. “You need to stay here and protect your bed from the bad guys. You’re a super hero. That’s your job!”

As I said it, I felt guilty. Was I tricking my son into sleeping in his bed? Maybe. But the smile that lit up on my son’s face when he realized that his bed wasn’t a big black hole that was going to suck him up was so beautiful. He asked if I could transfer my powers to him, which of course I did, and he was off on a tangent.

I listened for a few minutes to make sure he stayed in the bed and heard him pretend to shoot his lasers and webs and fight off the bad guys and then the room went silent and my son was sleeping. Peacefully!

I held my breath for about an hour but eventually fell right asleep myself and woke up to an empty bed the next morning. I had found the trick (at least for now) that helps my son sleep well at night. Superheroes need sleep too.

Hello!

My name is Anny and I am 22 years old. I have always enjoyed writing and found it a great outlet to many stressors in my life for as long as I can remember. Recently, my 4 year old son was diagnosed with Autism and we have been stumbling our way through figuring life out one day at a time. Between being a single mom, a young mom, and now a special needs mom, I thought it would be best to put my feelings into words and put those words into a blog. Hopefully, I can end up relating to someone else at the very least, but I would love to help someone in my position as an overall goal.

Stay tuned for some more posts which might be sporadic at first, but hopefully I can add them into my overall weekly routine!

Stay happy~

 

Sour Patch Kid

Just a quick essay I wrote. Enjoy!

“I used to think my son was just a bad kid. He was only three, going on four in a few weeks and I thought that he had hated me with all of his heart. He was the type of kid who would be completely fine one minute and then the next he would be having a meltdown of epic proportions. More likely than not, these meltdowns were in public. He would hit me and punch me and scratch me. He would pull at my hair and tell me he hated me. Then, in another instant, he would be the sweetest kid.

People had referred to him as a “sour patch kid” with a laugh because they didn’t have to live with him. Sour patch kids are cute, but could you imagine actually living with one?

My son’s seemingly bipolar episodes and hateful actions had indeed taken a toll on me as a single mother. I’m only one person and I tried to remember that as I drove him back and forth to school every day, gave him his baths, made him his food, played with him, and tried to manage what little bit of my own life I had left. I had taken him to see multiple doctors many of times and finally, a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) followed by a few others were made and my life, while finally seeming to make sense, also began to feel like it was falling apart.

My child has autism? How? How could my child have autism? Did this mean I was doing something wrong all this time? When I would be frustrated with him for his outbursts and angry with him for his “sour patch like behavior” was I being a bad mom? I cried for almost two weeks with the thought in my head that I had been mistreating my child who had a disorder.

I started reading up on ASD, specifically the higher functioning end of the spectrum which was where my son’s doctor had said he would fall. In 2013, the term Asperger’s was taken out of the DSM-5 for disabilities, however, that was the easiest term to use when describing my son and his diagnosis to friends and family. I read and read and read until I felt that I was as well educated as I could be on Asperger’s and high functioning autism and then I began reaching out for experiences.

I searched for books, television shows, movies, memoirs that had children with Asperger’s or parents of children with Asperger’s and I found a few good ones. On Netflix, I watched a documentary titled “Asperger’s Are Us” about four high school age boys with Asperger’s who start a comedy troupe. I also watched the fictional series “Atypical” on Netflix about a moderate to high functioning autistic high school age boy and his quest to find love.

Both Netflix specials were entertaining and gave me a relatively good insight onto what was going through my son’s mind or, at least, what could possibly go through his mind as he gets older since he was still just a child. However, I still wanted to connect with a parent of a child with Asperger’s. I wanted to know what to expect, how they felt, if they felt guilt or sadness or pain. Or was I the only one.

I ended up finding a TedTalk by Kathy Lette, an Australian-British author, who’s son has Asperger’s (he was diagnosed before the 2013 name change). This TedTalk was a brief seventeen minutes and nineteen seconds, but Lette’s words in this talk were the only things that I had found in all of my research that hit the target with how I felt. While her child grew up in a much different time than my child is growing up, they seemed to be almost exactly the same in so many ways.

The way Lette spoke about her son asking the most interesting questions that didn’t make sense at home but then leaving the house and acting like a completely different person, or the way she described how her son had such literal logic even at a young age. As she was up there on stage describing her son, I felt as if she was speaking directly to me, describing mine.

The one specific thing Lette said in her speech that jumped out at me was, “I sometimes feel as though I found my son under a spaceship and I’m just, you know, kind of raising him as my own.” This sentence spoke volumes to me because I had been feeling that way for so long. My love for my son was so strong, strong as any mothers, dare I say stronger. But he was so different than any other kid I saw in public, any other kid I had ever encountered in my life. Yes, he was my only child and I was a single mother, so I didn’t have much to base him off of and of course our lifestyle was not going to be easy, but I had always wondered why he was just that much different.

Why would my son be the one covering his ears when music was on at a reasonable volume in the car? Why was my son hiding under the table at a fairly empty restaurant? Why was my son having a two hour long temper tantrum at the age of three because I told him it was bedtime? Surely that was not normal.

And it wasn’t. I finally had my answer.

Needless to say, we are only at the very beginning of our journey with Autism, but at least I have an answer. At least I know when my son wipes my kisses off and asks me not to hug him, it’s because he is sensitive to touch and not because he hates me.

Everyday is a learning experience and I am thankful for the moms who share their own with ASD.”

 

Stay happy~