*Encouragement is the best medicine to give someone. If I were to pick any gift to have in helping others, that would be the one*

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Aspergers and Losing Sleep

Yesterday I took Chaz to a doctor to figure out his sleeping issues.  Chaz does NOT go to sleep easy which means I don't sleep either.  He's the last one to fall asleep and the first one to wake up.  I know that doesn't help how he functions during the day.  I also got the good news that he's started to go into all the puberty stuff.  Yayyyyyyyy..... lol.  No seriously, I bet you know how Aspergers and hormones all mix together.  I have an emotional kid on my hands.  I've never seen his emotions go so crazy like this and he gets upset easier.  Well, I wanted to at least solve one issue.  The doctor and I talked about Melatonin but I had just read some things on it and wasn't so sure.  I have never given my kids medicine just to put them to sleep so I made sure to talk with doctor first.

Is Melatonin Sabotaging Your Sleep?

Well, the doctor recommended that since he has allergies to go ahead and give him Benadryl.  Why didn't I think of that before?  It'll help his allergies and help give him better rest at night.  I only gave him half of one pill though to start out and he slept very well last night for the first time.  Yay for mommy and yay for Chaz.  I'm crossing my fingers that this will help him concentrate better on his school work during the day.  I'm also hoping for us both to get better rest at night.  :D  


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Aspergers Obsessions: Is That All You Want to Talk about?

The other day I took Chaz to the gym with me since he is now old enough to work out.  He got to get a new membership card that states he can go anywhere in the gym by himself. Well, when we got there he didn't want me to leave his side since he had no one to talk to or play with. I really wanted to go straight upstairs to the gym.  He looked over and saw his friend that he met the last time we came. I was excited and showed Chaz so we went over to talk.  Turns out, this boy also has Aspergers Syndrome!  No wonder why they got along well together.  Chaz has a best friend who has Aspergers Syndrome and they get along fantastic.  He was okay with me leaving to work out since he could now go swimming with his friend.  While I worked out upstairs, Chaz and his friend swam.  The picture is the view of the indoor pool I see while working out.

After I was done I went with Chaz, the boy, and his mom to the basketball court.  I like to observe other Aspergers kids to see how they are similar.  It was obvious his obsession was sports.  The whole time we were there that is what he wanted to talk about and do.  He never deviated.  It helped me to see that I need to be careful about how much I get frustrated at Chaz's obsession with games.  He likes to play them AND talk about them a lot.  I don't let him play all day but he will talk all the time about it whether or not you are listening.  I would get soooo frustrated sometimes but try not to show it.  Watching this boy talk so much about sports made me realize that I can't change Chaz. I can encourage Chaz, but what's wrong with him wanting to talk about what he loves?  Nothing.  Sure, it's excessive at times but that's how he is and I shouldn't make him feel bad about it.  

Chaz is such a good boy and I think I was just looking at that issue wrong.  He is happy talking about video games.  He does want to play basketball and is joining a league next month.  I'm hoping this time the coach worries more about teaching the kids how to play well rather than only caring about winning.  Chaz's last coach would bench the same kids so he could use the ones that would win the game.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Parent to an Aspergers Preteen

Soooo, I'm a parent to a preteen.  Should I be scared?  I am!  Aggggh!  Okay, when I can say I'm a parent to a teenager I will officially feel old.  I can see older people than me just rolling their eyes right now.  To them I say, don't you remember that feeling too?  I can't believe it because today Chaz turned 12.  12 years since I became a mom.  It was the scariest day of my life and I'm not exaggerating.  I had no idea what to do with a little one and had never really taken care of any babies.  I felt it was a crime for anyone to let me take this little guy home from the hospital.  I called the doctor every week with a new question, sometimes several times a week.  Now Chaz is twelve and I'm wondering how to navigate the teens years that are coming.  Oh well.  We'll have this conversation next year on this day. For now, he's still my baby.  Heh heh.  Don't tell him I said that.

My question is, what will it be like to parent an Aspergers teen?  That is one thing I don't want to be told about.  I thought it'd get easier as they get older but it doesn't.  If anything, it's gotten much harder.  I'm glad no one told me that back when Chaz was six and I was new to the word Aspergers.  I had to take just one day at a time back then.  Today, I just love my son with the good days and the bad days.  He's funny, challenging, and keeps me on my toes.  For real! Ha ha!  I love you, Chaz.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Maturing with Aspergers

Chaz (right) and his friend Dexter
It has been really, really tough with Chaz lately.  Things have changed as he's gotten older.  When he was younger, it was physically harder to help him but now the problems seem to be more mental.  He's had a lot more meltdowns and I'm starting to really, really see the gap between him and kids his age.  When he was little, other kids were immature also so it wasn't as noticeable. Now, kids at 11 or 12 or starting to mature in how they act and Chaz just isn't there yet.  He still wants to be physical, push, shove, bump into them, laugh a lot, poke, pinch.  It makes me sad to watch kids walk away from him or try to understand but not know what he is saying. Tomorrow he will get an evaluation with a speech specialist and I'm anxious to see where he is at.  It's been really hard to understand him as he tends to talk fast and in run on sentences.  Sigh.  I only want the best for Chaz and I hate to see him struggle just to make ONE FRIEND.  I hate to see him get rejected over and over.  I love him so much.  He's my boy and I'm so proud of him no matter what.  He is a really good kid it's just that he doesn't understand socially how to act around other kids and doesn't understand boundaries.  We invited Chaz's friend over for two days that has Aspergers.  Chaz was in heaven having his friend around because they completely understand each other. Unfortunately they live an hour and a half away from each other and can only visit once every few months.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Juliet Desiree is Here!

I'm writing from my cell phone in my hospital bed. Yesterday I got the balloon to cause my cervix to dilate. It worked so well that I went from a 1 to 5cm dilated in one hour. I wasn't in any pain at all but needed to go in to the hospital. While in the hospital my contractions were every 5 minutes but still had no pain and was 6 cm dilated. They wanted to break my water but I asked them not to do it till I got an epidural. So basically I had Juliet pain free!  3 pushes and she was out.  Juliet weighed 6lb 12oz and is 20 inches. I'm in baby heaven!  God gave me another little blessing.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Autism Awareness 2012- My Son's Aspergers Diagnosis

This is Autism Awareness month and so I  wanted to talk some about Chaz and what it's been like the last 5 years since I found out he has Aspergers.

Chaz 11 years old

Sometimes I don't mind talking about it but other times (like now) I have a hard time with it.  It's not because I'm ashamed or because I am in denial.  Sometimes I get sad because I want the best for him in life and it kills me that I can't just fix everything for him.

My baby Chaz

Autism (or Aspergers) can come with bullying and he's had his fair share.  There is a reason I homeschool Chaz and it's not just because of other kids.  I have major trust issues even with teachers.  He's had a couple of good ones and a couple of really bad ones.  He's been mistreated by his teachers and been put to shame in from of other children.  Do you think it's normal to have a young child depressed and suicidal?  No, it's not normal.  I didn't know he had a teacher that was putting him out in the hallway of his school every day with his own desk.  He was told he can listen but can't be in the classroom with everyone else.  He was called the school freak because not even the teacher wanted him in the room.  Was I told about this by anyone?  Did anyone ask my permission before doing that?  Nope.  I was told everything was going fantastic by his teacher and other staff members.  He's been beat up, choked, mocked, etc.  I can't talk about it or write about it without crying.  The boy I carried for 9 months, nursed for 5, cared for, and loved, was having to leave his safe home every day and face a harsh world.  I didn't know he was mentally beaten down till he started writing about wanting to kill himself.  That was it for me.  My boy was coming home and staying with me.  He's not a freak.  He may be different but he's God's perfect creation and he was gifted to me.

Chaz (left) playing with his brother 12 months younger

You want to know how I found out he had Aspergers Syndrome?  Well, he was a pretty tough toddler and would never look me in the eye before he was five.  I figured he was just a really tough kid.  After all, I had 3 boys within 3 years and had my hands full.  Chaz was majorly delayed in potty training and I was beginning to worry he was going to go to Kindergarten in diapers.  He did have some speech issues but like I said, he was my first kid.  I didn't really know what was normal behaviors.  I have to admit I was relieved when Chaz got to school age.  Taking care of him was really, really tough and I looked forward to that break in the day.  I took Chaz to his first day and crowded in with other parents at the school.  Everyone was excited that their baby was growing up.  I looked around the white room and the tables and chairs that were set up.  Was Chaz really gonna sit in those chairs like a big kid?  Really?  I had an unsettling feeling in my gut when I left him there.  As I was leaving I looked back and saw his eyes wide looking at me.  I figured it was just mommy nerves and left to celebrate our kids' first day with other friends.  Soon after I get a phone call that I needed to come get my son because he had bit his teacher on the first day.  Crud.  I picked him up and brought him home hoping the next day would be a better day.  The next day I drop him off but get a phone call half way through the day again.  I needed to take Chaz to the hospital.  Chaz kicked his teacher, ran from her and then ran straight into a metal door splitting his head open.  Really?  He must've been freaking out.  I called Charles and he came with me to the school to pick him up.  Was Chaz freaking out and crying?  Nope. When I went to pick him up from school he was just smiling and happy to see us. He was calmly talking to us as if there were no hole right in the front of his forehead.  It was so deep we could see his skull and he wasn't even complaining.  The school called and said that there are only 3 strikes allowed and Chaz already had his second.  Being that Chaz has only been to school 3 days, that didn't leave a lot of home.  I pulled him out that day and enrolled him in another school.

You can see the scar where Chaz was stitched up

The next school wasn't nearly as strict and the room looked a lot more friendly.  I had a better feeling about this one and he had the sweetest teacher.  After a few days she started calling and telling me about some troubles she was having.  I really didn't know what to do as I figured it was just some behavior issues.  Rolling on the floor under the desks?  Licking the floor?  Hmmm.... Odd, but I had no idea what to think about it.  While the other kids were working, my son was in his own little world.  I was starting to get desperate as I got report after report of my son's behavior in the classroom.  I was feeling like a pretty crappy parent I guess I should say.  My shoulder started to droop each day as I went to pick him up.  On a particular day I was feeling really defeated when the school counselor walked up to me and asked if he could talk to me.  He had done some research that week for my son and printed out what he thought Chaz might be dealing with.  The title of the paper said Aspergers Syndrome.  I could tell he was a little hesitant suggesting this to me not knowing how I would take it.  He read some of the list to me and it was like he was reading about Chaz.  My heart lifted as I realized that maybe all this time Chaz was dealing with something bigger.  This meant I could get some help.  Mr. Chavez looked relieved that I wasn't offended but I'm sure he couldn't miss the sadness in my eyes.  I was happy there might be some answers but sad that there might be an answer to all this.  My son?  With the reports from the teacher and the school counselor, notes from mommy, observing Chaz, he was quickly diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome.  The doctor said there as no doubt whatsover that he had this and sent me home with my mind whirling even more.  Where do I go from here?

Chaz 8 years old

I've made mistakes along the way with trying to stumble along different paths.  Do I put him in a self contained classroom?  NO.  I discovered that he copies behavior and since the rest of the class was pretty wild, cussed, and threw tables and chairs, Chaz would also do these things.  After a year of that mess I found a different school and wonder of all wonders I found an angel of a teacher.  She just happened to have trained to work with Aspergers kids in New York for 3 years.  NO WAY!  She taught regular first grade and said it was no problem whatsoever to teach Chaz in her classroom.  She taught me everything she could about Aspergers and how to help Chaz.  She was an angel teacher and I wish I could go back and give her a big hug for everything she did.  She took one of the times of my life and made it feel like it was gonna be okay. She gave me the confidence I needed as a parent to help him.  Chaz no longer was rolling on the floor but doing very well.  He was given a seat in the front-left.  He was still sitting with the kids but much closer to the teacher's desk.  He was given a visual schedule and 5 minutes warnings before each task was to be done.  He was given an assistant to sit with him during math and language arts hour to help him focus.  Chaz was given more breaks and was even allowed his own snack time.  Since his legs were more sensitive than usual the teacher bought a cushion for his chair he had to sit in every day.  This lady UNDERSTOOD Chaz.  I will always be so grateful to her.  Unfortunately when kids advance in grades they change teachers.  It pretty much went downhill from there trying to find teachers who could work with Chaz.  I think most of the problem is just ignorance.  If teachers don't understand Aspergers then they aren't going to know what works for them.  I communicated as best I could but often was just treated like my son was naughty and he just needed to be punished.

Chaz and I 2009

I didn't have the best support.  Some said I would ruin his life by pinning Aspergers on him.  Some felt I just needed to spank him.  One lady at church even went as far as to say my son was demon possessed.  Yeah, that one hurt.  Charles and I felt very alone in our journey and really didn't even know whether or not we were gonna medicate Chaz.  After trying for a week of medicating Chaz and seeing him actually get worse, we never medicated since.  So far our stance is that we will only medicate if he becomes a danger to himself or anyone in our family.  Over the last 6 years I've gotten advice from so many people who tell me what I need to do.  Not one of them ever had to deal with someone who had Aspergers but I know they were just trying to help.

Chaz's best friend Dexter also has Aspergers

Yesterday I was at a Behavior Health center and was able to talk to someone about Chaz.  I told the man that I needed a new doctor for Chaz but was very hesitant.  He asked what my fears were but I drew a blank.  As I sat there in silence for a minute, I realized why.  So many people I trusted had actually hurt my son more.  Even though there were a couple of good teachers and a good doctor in the mix, he's dealt with a lot of bad.  I've been holding my son in a protective embrace and have a hard time opening up to trust someone with my son.  I know this doctor can help Chaz, but what if he does what another doctor did?  His original doctor that helped us get so far was one day just gone.  I wasn't given a warning at all.  He was assigned a new doctor who was very cold and didn't care to talk to me at all. He talked to us for 10 minutes and try to change Chaz's diagnosis all together.  He knew nothing about Chaz but wanted to just get us out of there.  I left and never went back.  I know it's time to find a new doctor that can work with us but I'm gonna have to open up and talk about everything again.  This will be good for us since as Chaz gets older we deal with new issues.  I hate that he can't make friends and that kids give him funny looks when he tries to talk and relate with him.  I'm happy he made friends with another boys that has Aspergers.  I wonder how he will be as a teen or ask an adult?  All those things I worry about but I try not to.  I just have to take one day at a time.

Our family at the Science Center 2011 (Chaz top left)

One thing for sure is that I love Chaz with all my heart.  He's my firstborn and my son.  Chaz has taught me more about unconditional love, PATIENCE, forgiveness, and tolerance like no other.  I can't imagine missing out on a kid like him. :)

Friday, January 27, 2012

How Homeschooling is Working for My Aspergers Son

I cannot update on here as often since I spend a better part of my day homeschooling and taking care of six little ones.  :)  However, I got a comment asking how my homeschooling with my Aspergers son is going and I'd love to answer here.  

It's going great!  No more having to deal with impatient teachers, upset calls from my son, a stressed out and tired one at that, or having to worry about him being overloaded with too much work.  Chaz already had long days at school and for him that is just so much stimulation and concentration for one day.  Plus, homework was usually sent home.  That's where I put my foot down and told them no homework for Chaz.  It's way too much.  However, this year we decided to homeschool and see how that would work instead.  I know that I'm treating Chaz the way he deserves and I know his strengths and weakness.  I understand when he needs breaks and I can work around his emotional struggles.  When Chaz can't take any more work, I know when it's time to quit and just hit the books again in the morning.  The fun part is I've enjoyed learning right along with my kids!  I may not have everything perfect and down pat but that's why I use a ready made curriculum so I don't miss anything.  If I don't understand it, well, we work on it together till I understand and I can teach him.

My husband teaching Kyle (my 3rd son) chess
At first we tried K12 and it was just too much work for my Aspergers son.  It was pushing him past his limits every single day.  It didn't help that they required so many online meetings on top of the work he already had to do.  Eventually he would be in tears.  Unfortunately, K12 is not as flexible as they claim to be.  I think if I were homeschooling Chaz and him alone it might have been okay.  However, I also homeschool 3 other ones.  I needed to find something that would work for Chaz and for the rest of us.  I purchases Switched on Schoolhouse for Chaz and Ryan, and Compass Learning for my younger two homeschoolers.  They are ready to go curriculums and Chaz can finish his work in about 2 hours.  That's a long cry from 5 hours with K12.  

Anyway, that's just my own personal thoughts on it and how it's been working out.  Chaz is doing very well and he's not overwhelmed by any means.  Chaz has been doing fantastic in so many ways since I pulled him from a brick and mortar school.  
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