Monday, April 14, 2014

Seeing the Child Through the Disabilty

Little Man's ASD is only one part of who he is.  It affects how he relates to everything in his life but it doesn't not make up his entire person.  Sometimes it can be hard for people to see the child through the disability.  So I would like to take you on a journey of my son and who he is.

He is sweet.  He's got this deep down sweetness that comes out in his giggle, his big dimpled smile, the way he grabs your hand or leans against you leg.

He desires to be "normal".  He doesn't want to be in a world of his own, excluded from others.  He needs help but he wants to have friendships.  He wants to play sports.

He loves his Grandpa and Papa.  The other day he told me, "Member mommy, I live with Dampa.  Ok.  Member?"  They are his favorites.

All boy.  He is 100% boy.  He loves Thomas, Lightening McQueen, Batman, and Spider Man.  He likes to wrestle and crash into furniture.  He loves to be outside and run in circles.  His favorite color is green!

He loves pizza, carrot sticks, and candy (my goodness does he like candy!)

He wants to grow up to be just like Daddy!  He loves Daddy's buttons on his shirts and likes to dress like him.  He is obsessed with Daddy working on the house and is so proud of himself when he gets to be a helper.

He is Momma's Little Man.  "I be with you, Mommy!"  Run to hug me when I pick him up from school screaming, "MOMMMY!"  And when Daddy says to hold an adults hand, he always picks mine.  I am definitely his favorite big person.

There is so much of him that is just like any other little boy.  Adventure and fun!  Climbing and rough housing.  The paper he brought home from school says that when he is 100 he is going to go to work, just like Daddy.  When Sweet Pea declared Mommy the "Prince" he came up and declared that, "Mommy no be prince.  You a girl!  I be the Prince!"

Don't discount who he is as a whole.  He will shock you!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Living with Autism

April is Autism Awareness month.  Recently new statics came out saying that 1 in 68 children have Autism and 1 in 42 boys have Autism.  Most likely you know someone with Autism and I think everyone is pretty "aware" of it.  However, I think it is greatly misunderstood.  I want to focus on Autism this month, on what it is and is not and how it affects our lives, etc. 

Living life with Autism is hard and unpredictable but also full of blessing and wonder. Here are some things I wish everyone knew about our lives with Autism.

1. Our child is on the spectrum

Little Man is higher functioning so he is on the upper end of ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).  Just because he doesn't sit in a corner spinning plates all day does not mean that he was mis-diagnosed).  If you look at my child as a determination on whether you child is on the spectrum or not you will probably miss something.  Their are "classic" things that most children with Autism struggle with (socialization, communication, eating problems, sensory problems, etc) but each child will display those things differently.  We are constantly learning who he  and how ASD displays it's self in his life.

2. Little Man is SMART!  

 I love to watch people come to this realization.  He is a smart cookie.  He may struggle to verbalize.  He may not yet know his numbers and letters.  Those things do not determine how intelligent he is though.  His biggest strength is that he can look at all these different pieces and put together a bigger picture of something.  Unspoken things or things Tony and I speak "around" do not get past him.

3.  Our lives are a roller coaster ride

There is a reason Little Man's therapist ask how his week went.  Some days he is doing great, happy as a lark, talking well.  Other days he struggles to look at us, struggles to talk, lays around and mopes.  Some mornings he starts low but snaps out of it sometime in the day and does great.  And vise versa.  He can have an awful day at school and do exceptionally well at Awana.  We never know how he will handle something and he often shocks us (good or bad) making us very unprepared.

4.  We learn everything. 

Everything Little Man can is because he learned how to do it.  He had to be taught.  He plays imaginative games he learned from his sisters.  He knows how to lie because he watched others do it.  He can take turns in a board game because he was taught.  He builds pyramids when he builds with Legos because that's what mommy builds.  Every moment that he is in our care is a therapeutic moment in which we are teaching him something.  We don't just play memory match to have fun but we do it to teach turn taking, patience, communication, and enjoyment to be with others.  It's about the process, not about the game.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Getting Real: Worn

I woke up this morning tired, wishing I had read that alarm clock wrong.  After a relaxing Spring Break and fabulous Sunday with Daddy and some beautiful spring weather, the week had started out horrible.  We were going through life normally till I made a dreaded, torturous request: fold your laundry and put it away. 

This request was not new and the expectations were not high.  Simply make an attempt to "fold" your clothing and get it in the right draw.  We do it about once a week for the last 2 months.  However, I had not one but TWO children decide that this was NOT going to happen.  24 hours later one of those children finally finished.  The progress (besides the socks and undies that I had dealt with).  In fact they had spent much of that time yelling, hitting, and out right defying. 

I was past my limit.  The night before had proved that.  After joining in a screaming match with this child I grabbed the chips Tony had bought for himself at the store and sat on the floor bawling  The child went to bed early, with no more progress made. 

After a long morning I was thankful to leave three of the kiddos behind at school and get time to breathe.  I pulled into the driveway to hear Worn by Tenth Avenue North.  This song has been the cry of my heart for this child since Christmas 2012.  I can't heal their broken and hurting heart.  I can't fix them, as much as I want to.  I can't make they accept, love, let go.  I can't replace the rejection.

But I serve a God who can.  I serve God!  And I rest in that.  Because their is nothing else I can rest in.  And as I sat trying to hold back tears for Sweet Pea's sake, I soaked in those words again, crying out for this child, for our relationship.  The God who redeems, who heals, who answers prayer, loves this child more then I ever could.

    My prayers are wearing thin
Yeah, I’m worn
Even before the day begins
Yeah, I’m worn
I’ve lost my will to fight
I’m worn
So, heaven come and flood my eyes

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause all that’s dead inside will be reborn

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Getting Real: Seeking Help Part 2

You can read part 1 about our journey into the world of counseling here.

We as a family have seen a total of four different Counselors and three Therapist on a regular basis.*  We have had four specialty doctors, one of whom is regularly active in our kids lives.  We have had numerous other therapists and specialist in and out of our lives to help us.  One of our kids have been "specialized" with in the foster care system, which means, among other things, we see a caseworker once a week and a nurse once a month.

*Side Note: I say counselors for those who are helping our family emotionally and therapist for those who are helping our children physically.  That is the easiest way for us to distinguish it in our home.

All of that can be exhausting.  In and out of waiting room with 1 to 3 children to entertain.  Packed lunches and snacks.  Dealing with upset kids because I forgot the water bottles again.  Trying to communicate to each and every one of them what they need to know about that child.  Trying to remember what I have and have not told our caseworker and what paper work I still need to send her.

It gets lonely.  It gets tiring.  It's draining.  There is a lot of guilt associated with it.  From the forgotten water-bottles to lack of implementing a method I should have implemented this week to putting off the one on one counseling session so long that the Counselor doesn't even talk about it any more.

However, though all this I've found this surprising sweetness. Those moments when I get to stand beside another Momma as she talks about her child and the struggle they may be having. 

Oh those are so sweet.  To find a companion. For a brief moment to "get it" with her.  I might not know what goes into her every day but I do know its a great deal.  I know that she feels like she is holding on to her finger tips, fighting with every ounce of her strength for her child.  She has become a mini expert in crisis management, sensory input, speech skills.  And for a small amount of time we both get to see a life with no judgement of how we should be doing it, but rather with an unspoken word encouragement and support.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Living Life with Littles: Laundry

When we went from three to four with Our Guy laundry took a huge hit.  However, when we went to six I was shocked at how little of a hit our laundry took.  Maybe because the kids were so teeny tiny or maybe because everything was so overwhelming that laundry didn't quit seem as pertinent. However, as time has gone on it did become overwhelming. We've had to tweak and change our laundry routine to fit our family.  Here's how it goes.

1. Each bedroom has a big square laundry basket in it for dirty laundry. 

2. Each day one child must bring it down and another must sort it. They flip flop this job.  It took me awhile to teach them how to sort but they've got it now (for the most part).

3. I handle all washing and drying at this point.  Sometimes the kids will haul a load of laundry to a machine because they got an "energy drain" or just because they can be really sweet like that.

4. When a load is done I take it over to our folding area (a window seat in the dining room).  The kids maintain their color system that they have in their cups.  Each has a basket I bought at Wal-Mart (I believe it was $2.50) that I sort their clothing into.  We have another basket for Tony and my clothing and a third basket for sheets, towels, rags, etc.

5. When the baskets are full I declare family folding time.  We all grab our baskets, and dump them in the living room.  I typically fold Tony and my clothing and the sheets towels at this time.  When I get done I help the kids fold.  Yes, that means the kids clothing is not folded well at all.  This was really really hard for me to let go of.  Little Man's therapist really worked with me about saying "ok" to this for sanity sake.  I typically shut my eyes and don't think about it, uttering to myself "it's about the process, not the end result". 

6. Each child takes their basket and puts their own clothing away.

And that's what works for us.  How does your family manage laundry?