I’m finally coming out . . . as a parent of an Autistic child

9 Apr

April is Autism Awareness month. I thought maybe it was time I came out, as a parent with a child on the Autistic Spectrum. Tell my story.

Oh boy, so where do I start? Do I start when he was two, and hyper obsessed about fans, or pedestrian walking signs and signals? Or the part where my sister-in-law, who has a son with Asperger’s Syndrome, pointed out that my son exhibited certain behaviors similar to her own son’s, and that he might be on the Autism Spectrum as well? I could even start when he was in grade one and was having meltdowns in class.

I know, I’ll start at my denial. That seems to be the best place to start. Oh yes, denial. I held on to it for so, so long because there could never be anything wrong with my child. There is no way he can have Asperger’s Syndrome. Oh hell no. I even fought my husband on this issue. There was nothing wrong with my child!

Then there is the guilt. The guilt that I felt because I must be the one screwing up. Maybe it was my fault he is the way he is? Maybe I’ve been too hard on him? Maybe if I hadn’t yelled at him? Oh the guilt. Now let’s add the frustration. Why wasn’t he grasping certain concepts? Why wasn’t he learning? Any other kid would know this or that by now! Now go back to the guilt. The guilt for being so frustrated at this boy, for yelling, then back to frustration for not knowing what to do.  A vicious cycle.

When the meltdowns started happening at school, I knew I couldn’t be in denial any more. There was something there. I wasn’t sure what exactly, but I had to look at it. He needed more than I was able to give him because I didn’t have the skills. We both needed help. It was at that point Chris and I decided to get a diagnosis. The waiting list was long to get an Autism diagnosis. In the meantime, we got him diagnosed for ADD. The specialist we saw confirmed that he didn’t have it, but then that meant one thing. We just had to wait. The wait seemed like forever. Especially when there were meltdowns, and behaviors that we needed help with. Thankfully we had a great teacher who was willing to work with us. He wasn’t worried about his academic career but his well being. Thank goodness for teachers like him. Thank freaking goodness! We were lucky enough to have this teacher for two years in a row. He even emailed us over the summer to tell us he was reading about our son’s special needs.

Finally, we got the diagnosis. It was very hard to hear, but it was a relief at the same time. The only way I can explain it is this:

When you become a parent, you parent the only way you know how. With “neuro-typical” kids usually it works. Or you at least hope it’s working. As a parents we don’t usually come with the skill set to deal with what Autism throws at you. So you just keep parenting the best you can, until the diagnosis comes in and get help. But in that time you’ve dug yourself into a trench with no way out. You’re muddy, tired, exhausted, and feeling slightly insane. When that diagnosis comes, it’s like a ladder appearing in the trench you’ve dug yourself into. You climb out, and it’s then you can finally see the road laid out in front of you. You know what direction you now need to go. The road is long, with bumps and some smooth parts; and it’s going to take one small step at a time to get through it, but you’re no longer stuck.

This is pretty much how I felt. I did what I could before. Listened to advice from friendly Moms and other parents who had the best intentions. Bought stupid fucking books on how to deal with certain behaviors, also suggested by a friendly Mom. (I mean really who wants to read a fucking novel sized book on how to “better parent”?!)

With finally knowing my son has Asperger’s, I learned what was causing certain behaviors. I can now finally pick up on his sensory issues and what may set him off. I now know that he can’t always express himself the way he needs to, and that it’s not always appropriate. But now we can help him to learn those skills. I also know that his meltdowns over clothes were due to sensory issues. I no longer wonder why he certain tasks are hard for him. I’ve also learned to let some things go. Not to sweat the small stuff. Life is one day at a time. Some days it’s one hour at a time. Nothing is ever going to be perfect. I appreciate the days when meltdowns are few and we can actually get out of the house on time, or go somewhere without there being major issues.

The one very important thing I’ve also learned is that Autism doesn’t define him, or will it determine who he is going to be. I love my son with everything I have. And he is not all meltdowns and obsessiveness. He’s funny, quick-witted and can make people laugh and fall in love him. (He’s sometimes like his mother, lacking a filter.) I’m lucky he’s mine.

Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby.

12 Feb

My children, especially one, have seemed to master the art of embarrassing me. I must say though, they’ve learned from the best. I’m fantastically great at embarrassing myself and husband. He’s always worried about what I’ll say and what I’ll do. So naturally my kids are much like me in that way.

Lucky for them most of what they say I just take with a grain of salt. They are who they are. Their Mother’s children. Unfortunately though they have learned that embarrassment can be a form of punishment. Many mornings have I threatened to walk them into their class room, while in my pajamas and messy hair, if they didn’t stop fighting. So one particular day last week my son may or may not have intentionally tried to embarrass me because he wanted to go home.

My youngest son likes to play at the playground after school with his friend. His older brother has to tag along and usually wants to go home. He likes his routine, and after a full day at school he needs to unwind. I get it. Usually while my youngest is playing with his friend, I talk to the friend’s Dad comparing parenting issues. On this particular day, we were talking about the kids weaseling their way into parents beds in the middle of the night. Because every other parent can relate, that when there is a kid in the bed there is no restful sleep. Elbows in the eyes, little feet in the kidneys, and hovering on the edge of the bed because they have pushed you to the point of almost falling off the bed.

My oldest likes to hover. It may not seem like he’s listening, but he is. Unfortunately, he decided to listen in on the conversation we were having. Mid conversation, my wonderful and darling son, decided to chime in with, “My Mom and Dad have sex in their bed all the time.”

. . . .

My reaction was shock. My reply was to tell him that was not proper to say. As I look over I see the friend’s Dad hiding his face in the collar of his jacket, TOTALLY losing it.

I think it was at that point I decided it was definitely time to go home.

 

Ultimate Mom Tip, From Your Charming Canadian Housewife:

17 Jan

If you have kids like mine, they will search high and low to find the thing/candy I’ve taken away and hidden. They’ve figured out MOST of my hiding spots. Not all, but most. It doesn’t help that one of my kids is of the Aspie mind, so thinking outside of the box is his thing.  He has one upped me on somethings, but not this . . .

Recently I’ve had to take away video game remotes and hide it, due to the kids not following rules and not getting ready for school when asked. I hid the remotes where they would never look. IN THEIR ROOM! Because really, why would they look there? Sometimes the best hiding spots are right under your nose. The trick with this though is to never let the kids know you’ve hidden their own things in their rooms. Otherwise you’ll never be able to hide it there again.

If you have an Ultimate Mom Tip please share because really, we are all in this together. Am I right, parents?

Laughter, at times inappropriate, truly is the best medicine.

17 Oct

I was sitting in my home office this morning, getting my class notes ready, when I hear the front door being unlocked. I wondered why my husband was home this time in the morning. Maybe he forgot something he needed for work? This is what transpired when he walked in, to the best of my recollection:

Me: Hey. . . .

Chris, totally freaking out: Where were you?! Where is Kid1?!

*Kid1 is our oldest kid*

Me, kind of freaked out : At school.

Him, still flipping out: Where was your cell phone?! Why didn’t you answer the phone? I get a call from the school saying Kid1 isn’t in school, and they can’t get a hold of you!

Me: I was AT the school, with Kid1 in talking to the Vice Principal.

Him: Why didn’t you have your phone with you?!

Me: I was in a rush getting the kids to school.

Him: Can you understand how upset I am right now?!

Me: Yes.

I then start laughing. He storms off to upstairs. He later comes back down to leave, so he can go back to work.

Him: I don’t even know why you have a phone? Whenever I try to get a hold of you, you either don’t have it or have it off.

Me; untimely giggling: I forgot it! I didn’t think I needed it!

Him: I was driving 80 down the street!

I then get a picture of him driving down the road like a madman. I start laughing again.

Me, as I cover my mouth with my hands: I’m not laughing!

He storms out the front door to get back to work.

The school hadn’t realized Kid1 and I were in a meeting with the schools V.P., so they tried getting a hold of my husband. I hadn’t expected to go in for that quick meeting. I also hadn’t expected my husband to come storming into the house, freaked out. I  couldn’t help but laugh. What else do you expect me to do? I deal with so much stuff on a daily basis, I can’t worry and get stressed out about that stuff. As one friend pointed out, my worrying is WHY I’m on medication. She told me to blame my laughter on the meds., and offer my husband some. Which I have at one point, but he didn’t find that funny.

There is always a light, no matter how dark.

31 Jul

I haven’t blogged in a long while. There are several reasons for it. One of them being I didn’t want to. Another is I have been completely exhausted. Emotionally, mentally, and physically. I am writing today because there is something that needs to be written about. That maybe some of us don’t necessarily talk about.

Each of us, when we are born, are connected to everyone in our family who was born before us, by a thread. We are like a tapestry; and as our lives move along more threads are added to that tapestry. Every thread is interwoven and makes us who we are. In many ways our patterns are a reflection our parents, grandparents, anyone and everyone who has touched our lives, we will always be connected to them. No matter how insignificant a person or experience may be, it has helped woven ourselves into who we are, what our pattern has become.

I, myself, have a thread missing. Me and anyone who is, was related through family, or friendship to my cousin, C. That thread in the tapestry, who makes me who I am, is missing. You may not see it at first, but if you look a little closer it is gone. That ache and pain, which leaves my core shaking, threatens to leave me falling, drowning. It’s the only way to describe it. I can only imagine what it must be like for his mother, brothers, sister-in-law, nieces, and friends who knew him, loved him. I loved him. Even if I had forgotten I loved him because that is what we do. People we love sometimes drift out of our lives and we forget we love them. He was my family, like a brother. We were only a month apart. His birthday was this month. As a mother it pains me to know that his mother had to remember on the day he was born, the day he died. It kills me actually. Even though I hadn’t seen him in years, he is, was connected to me as a part of my very young childhood. I may not have many remembered memories, but there is still the feeling there, the memories from our aunts and uncles, our parents. The tales of us, which make up that part of our childhood because we were too young to remember. The memory of happier innocent times.

The way we lost C was through the darkness of depression and suicide. I don’t know what his last days were like, but I can only imagine. People don’t talk about wanting to die. Why would you? Depression is a terrible thing. It lies and tells us we are not good enough, that there is no way out of the darkness that threatens to consume us whole, threatening to spit us out and leave us nothing but a shell. I’m guessing that is what C may have thought, when he thought that there was no other way out. I wish I had been with him in those days to tell him it going to be O.K., that it is just a moment, and he can get through it. I wish I could have been there and hold his hand, to let him know, when that moment tries to take him over, he has family who loves him and is willing hold his hand and walk through the trenches with him to escape the darkness. I wish I could have let him know he wasn’t alone, that he’s not the only one who knows what that dark feels like. That darkness that threatens to take down everything you love and have worked hard to keep safe. So many wishes.

What I wish for now is peace for his family, our family, to cherish his memory. To love him as we remember him. What I also wish is for others who have those moments of darkness, who feel like they can’t hold on, to find that light, to know there is someone’s hand which is willing to hold on to yours and walk you through that hellish darkness, towards the light that is hope. I wish for those who feel that way, to get help, talk about it to someone. There is always someone to listen, hold your hand. I can hold your hand, C, I can hold your hand.

And the list goes on and on . . .

4 Jan

I was thinking about my shopping list and the things I need to add to it. It always feels like we are running out of one thing sooner than another. Like toilet paper. We seem to go through a lot. I guess it’s not a bad thing. . . .

Anyways, here’s my shopping list of things which almost always seem to be on it.

Shopping List

  • Toilet Paper because everybody poops.
  • Hemroid cream because childbirth gave me something that I can never seem to give back.
  • Socks because they either have a hole or nobody can find a matching pair.
  • Juice because there is always more on the floor than in the cup.
  • Fish crackers because they seem to be a staple in our house.
  • Laundry detergent because laundry is inevitable like death and taxes.
  • Toothpaste because there is more on the counter than the toothbrush.
  • Kids shampoo because it always seems to run out.
  • Dog treats because I don’t think that my kids are just feeding them to the dogs.

Here’s a list of things I surprisingly don’t run out of:

  • Hand soap because why not share youre germs with everyone!
  • Kleenex because snotties look so much nicer on the wall and couch?

What is always on your list?

Your Charming Canadian Housewife gets schooled.

9 Sep

Last week left me feeling like a drunk person getting off the Tilt-A-Whirl. The boys had their first full day of school on Wednesday. I wasn’t too worried about my oldest. It was the youngest. After I left him in his class all I could think was, “Please be good!” My worries were calmed when the Kindergarten teacher came up to me in the hallway as I was helping the older boy settle into his locker. She said he was doing great so far. What a relief. That calmed me. Only somewhat because I was heading to my own first class that morning. Yes, this little housewife has decided to go back to school which I will blog about another time.

Everything seemed to be going along fairly well that morning. Aside that I was running behind picking the kids up for lunch. But they are used to that. I got to the school and the Kindergarten teacher asked to talk to me about my youngest. She was holding a paper. I could see the writing through the back of the page. My heart sank and my stomach would have churned but I was already feeling a bit anxious about the day. Oh no!

I vaguely remember the conversation that followed.

Teacher: Your son drew a picture and felt the need to show me. (Shows me the picture)

Me:  . . . . .I’m so sorry.

Teacher:  At least your son is great at spelling phonetically. (Laughs)

Me: I think I may have apologized again.

Teacher: That’s ok. It’s not the first time that’s happened.

Thank goodness she has a great sense of humour about kids and those things. One of those things being the ‘F’ word written on his colouring sheet. I gathered up my kids to leave and may have apologized yet again.

On the way to the vehicle I asked my son why he wrote a swear. His response, “My friend told me to.”

Me: I understand but that’s not the point. Why did you write it?

Him: Because I’m a rock star.

I tried not to lose it and let him see I was cracking up.

Thankfully the last part of the week went more smoothly. I even got an email from his teacher that Friday was much better. The rest of the year can only get better from here, right?

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