Sunday, September 7, 2014

From a Mom of a High Functioning Autistic Son & an ADHD Son

Hi there- yeah you, who cannot stop staring at me in the grocery story while I am trying to calm down my High Functioning Autistic son (who doesn’t look autistic), while chasing after my ADHD son- would you like to switch places, because the look on your face is telling me you think you can handle this situation much better than I am.
Which is so strange, because I live in this situation 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
By situation- I mean my life. Not this is a burden.

So while you’re staring, judging me--- try to think about this:
-Today could actually be a really good/easy day
-Your stares are RUDE
-Smiling may lift my spirits a little bit
-You can’t do better than I’m doing
-As much as you think Autism & ADHD are over diagnosed, they are REAL. I’m not just looking for a cover up for my children's ‘bad behavior’.
-A whole lot of tears (mine and my kids), time, and money went into how far we have already come.

Please refrain from saying these things to me:
-‘How do you handle this?’
*Let’s talk about this a little bit… Last time I heard, I couldn’t just hop over to the hospital and say, “Hey- yo this kid is difficult, can I switch him out for a new one?” My answer to this would be- What is my option?? This is my baby! I love this screaming child with my whole heart. This child has taught me more about life than any other human on the planet. Yes, of course, I have thought about running away, going to the store and never returning, dropping them off at the fire station. Sure all of those have crossed my mind- because our home life is HARD. I get by everyday by knowing God is trying to teach me something more- thru my kids.

-‘Whipping him doesn’t do anything?’
*Well you know what? I have never thought about whipping him. Let me try that real quick… NOT. Of course we have tried every single form of discipline known to man. Guess what? Not many of them work- if any. So while you think there is magic behind a whipping/spanking- there isn’t. Plus, what looks like a normal throwing a fit because he isn’t getting what he wants could actually be many many many other things: the lights could be too bright, sounds too loud, too many people, not enough people, the lights could be too dark, not enough sound, the list is endless. This ‘fit’ you are witnessing for 5-30 minutes is only 5-30 minutes of our entire life, so I apologize if you have to listen to my kid have a hard time. So let me spank him because the lights in your house are too dark.
 The truth is, children with autism don’t always have a clear comprehension of cause and effect. Their brains simply don’t operate in the same way as typically developing kids. Their behavior challenges are bigger and more complex, and solving them is more difficult.

-‘Let me have him for a week, I’ll straighten him out.’

*This has to be the most uneducated thing I have ever heard someone say. You either 1) Know absolutely nothing about ASD or ADHD. 2) You are one of the ones that have asked me the question listed above. But, sure, if you think taking him for a week will change years of what I’ve been trying to do, go ahead. I’ll be on vacation - listening to my own thoughts for once.

-‘My friend’s son/daughter is autistic, and they are so much different than your son, maybe it’s not autism’
*Interesting, maybe because you have met one other child on the spectrum, you know what autism is. Maybe you’re right. We have only seen multiple doctors, therapists, teachers, psychologist, neurologists, the list goes on. But I’m happy you don’t think he’s autistic. Chime in the bad parenting mantra. Guess what else--- my son also isn’t Rainman, that doesn’t make him any less autistic, does it?


While all of this seems so harsh - it’s life. I have been ask multiple times by family and friends, some I no longer talk to anymore, these very questions. All I am asking is for your to become educated in what we are dealing with. I understand most of these questions would be asked out of concern, and I definitely appreciate that. From the bottom of my heart- if you don’t know how to help me, ask! I may not know either, but I won’t feel so bad for my kid screaming bloody murder in your presence…




Sunday, March 2, 2014

Awareness

It was recently brought to my attention that I am inflicting negativity on my son, Aaden, for blogging about his differences.

Not because I feel convicted, but because this is a completely false statement- is the reason of this post.

I never, in a million years, want Aaden to grow up and be embarrassed about things I have blogged about- I want him to be proud of his difference in the world. That is why I blog of all our craziness. If me sitting down, for a few minutes- every few weeks (because we all know, I do not blog often ;) ) helps one single child. One single family- my few minutes were worth it. 

I hope you all know me well enough to understand this. If you were ever offended, or backed away from me as a friend because some of my stories- I do apologize. This is our life I choose to share because I want to- I want to help other families. I want to look back at our progress!! Which I have. Over and over. And I love that. 

My goal, as a mom of a child with a difference is just that---Raise awareness. 



Please keep my family in your prayers, thoughts, send positive vibes- whatever it is you do, as we go thru a difficult time.

I will always appreciate you guys and your support. 



Sunday, February 9, 2014

Baking Soda Bombs

Figured we would try a little something fun today…

Brady and his class did this experiment last week. So we gave it a try. Super simple.

First we gathered our ingredients:
Water
Baking Soda
Food Coloring (if you desire)
Vinegar
Glass cups
…and something to catch the explosion in.


Aaden helped me make the bombs. We didn't measure, just made a pretty thick paste with baking soda, water, and food coloring. Next, we rolled them into little balls, and let them dry for a few hours.
*Suggestion- If you do not want minis asking you 'How much longer- How much longer', you should make them the night before, without help ;)



I had everything set up when I called them in, made sure the dishes to catch the explosion were big enough for each boy. Ex- Brady is a lot messier, so he got a bigger pan ;)








 



This is definitely something we will do many many times to come. I may put special treats in the bombs, maybe little heart confetties for Valentines Day… ;)

Until next time…

With love,
Courtney

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Redefining

Tomorrow is Friday, y'all!!! Which means absolutely nothing, but still excites me every week.

As most of you may know- tonight I attended the first of four sessions at Any Baby Can of San Antonio's Parent Training Series.


First, let me mention--- this class is offered completely free, with childcare, and dinner provided- regardless of income!! We love ABC!!!

On our way, I was talking to Aaden about being able to play with other children that are like him. His response, "They have crazy hair too?" Hmmm. maybe. haha



*Side note- I do not think his hair is crazy!! lol I love it.

That is about as far as we got with that conversation, because earlier when I started it, all he wanted to know were if there would be girls. What tha… when did that start mattering?

Once we got there, I signed the boys in, and since we were early, I sat in the child care facilities for a good bit waiting for class to start. Aaden made his rounds around the room, scoping everything out, then ran up to me and said, "Thank you so much, mom". Ok, sure, I'll take the credit for this amazing room full of all things possible. Brady, well he did his usual, found a truck and didn't care about anyone else around.

Class started, after filling out a few pre-course questionnaires and all that jazz the fun started. We learned about loads of other opportunities offered by Any Baby Can: Group Therapy Sessions, Individual Sessions, Parents Helping Parents, Potty Training, IEP Assistance,the list goes on. Once again- all offered free of charge.

We were introduced to the Psychologist that works along side ABC- he started with statistics, of course. Did you know the statistics you hear in the media are not accurate? The real numbers are a lot worse. 1 in 50 boys, born in the USA are within the Spectrum and 1 in 88 girls. Did you also know that in the US the average age for a diagnosis is 6 for Autism and 10 for Aspergers… which by that time, you have missed a HUGE window for intervention and help!?

Why is the US so far behind?!? In England, they are scanning for symptoms  at 6 months!! Why? Because they know this is a neurological disorder that isn't going to just 'disappear'. These early years in our children lives are the most important, 'difference' or not.

He spoke about regular pediatricians calling us 'helicopter parent' and needing to let the child try to grow out of it. Or he is trying to test us or get his way. When they are playing it safe- and wrong- we are missing valuable time with our precious little one's development. YOU ARE YOUR CHILD'S ONLY ADVOCATE. The doctors see one slide of your life movie…

Why does it matter if there is something different going on with him/her? Will it change your love for your child? If it does, shame. on. you!!! You are the parent, you push for what you believe.

The rising numbers in Autism are one of the major reasons we need to raise awareness.

There is nothing worse than being in public and having an autistic break down… if you are on the outside of the parenting spectrum, imagine being stared at by 10000 eyes, all thinking you need to discipline your child, or spank him, or whatever else they think would help this neurological disorder they are so uneducated about.  Then he said this: 'Why do I have to explain to the world, what I live thru'. The answer to that is we don't. But we choose to share because we want to raise awareness. Raise acceptance.

He spoke about why our parents and grandparents do not understand what Autism is and what it really means… I have to say- most of our parents and grandparents are extremely supportive, naturally they act like there is nothing wrong with Aaden- because he is so perfect when they are around. Well come live with us. LOL. He brought up a movie Elvis was in, Change of Habit, and said that is what our grandparents know of the Spectrum. To be honest, I have not seen the movie- so I'm just going to kind of leave it at that, and assume you can piece it together. Amendment after I watch ;) You're welcome.

He said in the 70's when you had a child on the Spectrum, 90% of the time Social Services would come knocking on your door to take your child- because obviously you could not control them. How petrifying. Do you know where these kids went??? To a side wing in a hospital--- kept away from the world, from society. They were rejects. They were 'warehouse kids' (if you must ask- yes, I am balling as I type).

I personally enjoyed him speaking of prevalent individuals that have vocalized their 'difference'. Whether it be Autism or Aspergers. These are the people that can change the way outsiders look at the disorder.

All in all, it was just amazing to sit there and giggle at small things he would throw in about our little ones- such as never wearing clothes. Or their favorite meal being chicken nuggets and fries from McDonald's. Seriously everyone laughed at that. So good to know we aren't the only one's who live at McD's. haha

My favorite of the night was when he said, "Autism changes you as a person, not for the better, not for the worse, it Redefines you". And it has. You look for joy differently.

Ours for instance was last week--- Aaden wrote his name, completely by himself!!!! He has been behind in class with his writing and letter recognition. His teacher told me she was positive the whole school heard them cheering for him after he finished. That is amazing to me.

My second favorite, and the one that will stick with me, "Behavior is a language, and we are the translators.' And let me tell you, learning a new language - that doesn't have a study guide, book, directions etc IS HARD.

Please please please raise awareness near you!!! Don't be the ones giving 'the look'. Don't be scared of there being something 'wrong' with your little one. Know there is help out there. Keep pushing for what your child deserves.

When I went to grab the boys- Aaden was sitting with 2 of the caregivers, both pretty teenage girls… who were completely swoon by him. Brady- still playing with the same truck. One of the girls that Aaden was hanging with said she knew Brady was Aaden's sibling because of how they would look at each other. My translation "look at each other with monster eyes". I don't think that's what she meant, but definitely what I pictured. As we all walked out of the child care facilities, you could easily point out which child in each family had the difference. They were screaming because they didn't want to leave. While this was so sad- I was proud to be right along side them. They are not alone- and either are we. 

Amazingly enough, when I got into the car- 'Write Your Story' by Francesa Battistelli was playing on the radio. <3

In April we will be participating in Any Baby Can Walk for Autism. We will be walking to support Any Baby Can, to raise awareness, to celebrate growing as an Autism Community. If you are local- or anyone who plans to come into town, and would like to join us for the walk, you can register for our team, Aspie Aaden, here. If you are unable to walk and could like to purchase a t-shirt, contact me. Email: court.ingram@gmail.com Cell: (225) 505-8024. The shirts are $20/each. Available in sizes ranging from Youth Small to Adult 3 X-Large. They will be royal blue with white writing. Shirts are not necessary to participate in the walk.


I am so excited about next week's class!! The next 2 weeks we will be have an ABA come in and help us with home based strategies. Pumped up, let me tell you!!

Thank you for reading- and listening to me ramble. I hope you took something from this!!

Until next time…

With love,
Courtney








Monday, February 3, 2014

Differences

My mind has be spinning lately… I'm not sure if it's because my brain can actually function now that I have stopped taking my anxiety/depression medicine (YAY!!) or if I'm growing up a little bit more. Either way… I'm pretty dang pumped my brain is working- and I'm seeing a little more grey than black and white.

Recently a few things have happened that have me on my toes.

Last week I judged another mom. You would think, 'Wow, huge no- no, especially for a mother of a child with a disability'. Not the case to me- and this is why:

When I think about how I parent, there is not the tiniest bit of me that thinks- I need to parent differently because I am a mother of a child with a disability. I think I want to raise 2 little mini men to be real men one day. I expect them to respect others (adults and children). I expect them to be thankful. I want them to be confident. Knowledgable. I want them to be adventurous and seek out answers… I want them to be successful. To find joy. To be happy. And to be a son of God.

I judged this mom because she did something that, REGARDLESS of what her daughter did, was unacceptable, to ME!! Was it the right thing to do- No. I do not feel bad about it, and I will always stand behind my beliefs. Humiliation, in public or in private is WRONG!!! We are shaping little lives people!! We are trying to instill confidence. If your child cannot talk to you, who do you think they will talk to?? If they cannot trust you. There is no one else.

Be a role model- not a rink leader. There is a reason Tiger Trainers walk with a whip.

One to the next-

On two different occasions I have had moms try and treat Aaden differently because they know he is Autistic. I appreciate their concern & trying to conform to his needs. It means a lot to me, as a friend. However, that is not helping Aaden. If he kicked or hit someone with a stick (both of the stories)- he needs to be reprimanded. He needs to understand that is not appropriate behavior. How else will he learn? This past weekend Aaden hit an older kid in the head with a stick, and then lied about the boy kicking him in the face first. How embarrassing. He would not apologize… He was ticked about something, and said he would think about apologizing.
Here is my take on that: 1. He said he would think about it- which means- he is still mad, he is thinking about it over and over and over again, he is embarrassed. 2. If I force him to say he's sorry- it will not be genuine.

He told me he was sorry later that afternoon… It's how his brain functions, and it took him all that time to get over it. I prefer a sincere apology to a ugly mean 'my mom told me I had to' apology.

…side note- to both Moms. Please don't take offense to this. Y'all are amazing!! I'm just trying to raise awareness. :)

Differences:
We explain ourselves to our boys… I remember hearing, "I am your parent and I do not have to explain myself" many many times growing up. However, now that I'm a parent, I feel the need to do so. I want my boys to understand WHY. If they understand why- they are less likely to do it again… In my opinion.
We explain things to Aaden because his little brain never ever ever stops. It helps him with processing. I love when he comes back hours later with a comment about something we talked about earlier in the day. It makes me giggle.

Our short-term/immediate goals are different.
We want  Aaden to ask for things without whining. We are happy if he only writes his name on his homework-because even that is an improvement. We give him alternatives- a little leeway.

But then again, how different are those than any other parent?? What kid responds well to 1000 rules? So many rules they can't do anything right??

This is what my brain is thinking about today, so I figured I would share. :)

Until next time…

Courtney


Friday, January 10, 2014

I am a MESS

There you have it. I am a pure mess. I am a mother of 2 little messes… boys are gross, and that is that. Now, that isn't exactly where I was going with this, but there's the truth. Just to throw it out there.

This week we have seriously played our little hearts out. So today, we went for a little bit more simple fun. We made moon dough. Recipe can be found here. Luckily I stumbled across corn starch at the dollar store one day, and bought every box available. I swear when I'm looking for something like that in Walmart, it's sold out. Or I'm crazy and don't know where to look. Maybe a little of that too. ;) We added few drops of food coloring, just for fun. White = Boring. Or so I've been told my a certain 4 year old.

Here is a little before/during picture. Aaden didn't like the smell, naturally. So we tied a shirt on his face, he was good to go. It took them both a few minutes to put their hands in and mix the corn starch and shaving cream up really well. But they did. I was beginning to think my numb thumb was for nothing. Pressing a cheap bottle of shaving cream is torture. Just an FYI!! Aaden lasted about 20 minutes, which is great for him. Brady lasted about an hour. Which has significantly increased since he has started pre-school.
 This was the last few minutes of Brady's time. The aftermath. I wish I had taken a picture of our whole floor, from the table to the front door… completely covered. The chairs, white, Brady's pants, that were originally navy, were then grey. About 10 cars completely covered in moon dough, even the big truck that carried them around 'town'.


As I clean up the mess, I am totes happy they enjoyed it so throughly, I have not one single issue with cleaning it up. The chairs needed a good wipe down anyway!! ;) It got me thinking, why is this mess (which is WAYYYY worse than an accidental mess) ok, and an accidental mess not? Yes, I said it. Accidental messes drive me crazy sometimes. Brady loves to spill the whole container of just made juice. Aaden's thing is to drop a FULL-to-the-rim cup of milk---on the CARPET. Ahh!! These are accidents, I know this. I cannot stand myself for getting frustrated at those type of things. I think I get frustrated because I am so high strung about everything else going on in our house. Aaden screaming over how bright the lights are, or how loud the TV is, or Brady saying, "I spank you", and he's scared. Or Brady just being the little mess he is. All the time. He kid is a walking dumpster lol. A cute one, but oh my word.

I am determined not to let these little things bother me so much. It is not fair to my babies or husband, and I will not accept that kind of behavior from myself. 

So, follow up on how this goes… soon ;) Wish me luck.

Until next time…

(fyi- if you read my blog on the computer, I have the cutest little signature, but it's not visible on a mobile device. boo)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Christmas 2013

HAPPY NEW YEAR Y'ALL!!

Guess that is a good way to start this post about Christmas ;) We started our Christmas  season with a Christmas Book Exchange at our good friend's house! *Side note: If you are new to an area, or just looking to meet people like you, with the same interests, look on Meetup.* We had a great time!! They boys enjoyed a lot of crafts, plus each getting a Christmas book to add to our collection. My favorite. Sadly, I don' think I have any pics. 

Evan was actually off work and could attend the boys' school parties with me. Although he said it was definitely a 'mom' thing, I know he enjoyed being there. Both of their parties were adorable. 

Since Aaden is in a public school, his couldn't be about Jesus, sadly, however, they played adorable little games, decorated sugar cookies, ate lunch together.

 He was soooo happy his Daddy was there.


 Nailed it ;)




We headed to Brady's party immediately after Aaden's, correction, after hitting up Starbucks. I'm not sure how much I have shared about Brady's teacher- she is God sent. Whole heartedly, she is amazing. She writes a blog each day after class to help us, parents, communicate better with the babies in her class. We are aware of each thing they did during the day, so we can ask them direct questions. It's just absolutely perfect. You can find her blog here. It's updated every Wednesday and Friday.

Now, Brady's party was a lot different. His party focused on the true meaning of Christmas. They made their own pizza, had lunch, did a balloon launch for Jesus's birthday, and we had the most adorable birthday cake for Jesus. There was a child missing from his class, so Aaden took full advantage of the situation. 

 My cute sensory issue kiddo


 Does anyone else's child eat pizza this way? He bites the middle of every piece. Won't eat the pieces he has touched.



Jesus' Birthday Cake

Since we spent most of our Christmas break in Louisiana, Santa decided to make a trip to our house early. We ended up missing an ornament exchange with all of our favorite kiddos and mom'- but there was no way Santa could bring his gifts to and from Louisiana with all the loot we knew we would have to haul back. I wrapped all the gifts, and Evan pretended as if he heard Santa on the roof, so they ran in our bedroom, you know- their room because they sleep there-and acted like they were sleeping so Santa would leave their gifts. We had a jolly little time. Nothing special, but perfect for us. 





We started our Christmas journey at my grandparents house, my Dad's mom and dad. I love being able to spend time with just them. It's so special to me. The way the boys voices get all high pitched and excited when they say 'Mawmaw' 'Pawpaw', just melts my soul. 



And, they just happen to be the cutest little people on the planet!!!

We spent all day Christmas Eve with my mom's side of the family, my Granny and Pawpaw. I have no idea why I never have pictures from their house? It drove me crazy last year, and even more this year because I remember typing those exact words 365 days ago. AGH!!! Next year, y'all be ready fan--- the flash is going to be going down!!!

Christmas morning we went to Lottie & Pop's house, Evan's parents. We enjoyed a huge breakfast and opening gifts with sweet little Ryden. It was soooo much fun with these 3 boys this year. I can hardly wait until next year, when Ry is even more involved. 


 Special thanks to Butterfly Kisses Embroidery & Gifts for the boys 
adorable pajama sets and Christmas shirts.






 My gorgeous wind chime from Mawmaw and Pawpaw Nettles.
That is also me, stepping out of my box, in RED leggings ;)

My sweet SIL! :) 

We spent Christmas afternoon with my Dad and family. I was too busy taking pictures with my Dad's camera to get any pics of my own. It is always a fun time going over there. There is a total of 7 daughters, 4 son in laws, 8 grand babies with one on the way (not me). We are always there at the same time… Along with grandparents. My parents number gifts and have a total of 3 trees… I think there were 124 gifts this year? I'm not sure why that number is sticking in my head though.

The rest of our time in town, we took a trip to Biloxi with Granny and Pawpaw to have some 'adult time' away from the crazies. It definitely help recharge my mind… I am very thankful for that. 

Here's to a new year and new memories to be made. 

Until next time…

With love,
Courtney :)



How do I...

As part of my New Years Resolution, I want to step out of my little box. I want to appreciate what we have. Not in the financial aspect, although that would be great too. To completely accept that Evan and I are the ones that need to change, Aaden and Brady are who they are. I want to pinpoint why it is God gave Autism to us. What is he trying to teach us about ourselves?

Appreciating that we only deal with Autism. That we aren't at St. Jude's fighting for my baby's lives. That we don't require surgery after surgery to keep them alive. Thankful they are still alive, and we didn't lose them to SIDS like so many other families have lost their babes. I am grateful and blessed.

I am going to find a dr and get tested for ADD- I have taken several online tests, and have landed in the severe adult ADD category. You know what? That is FINE with me!!! Maybe I can finally concentrate and stay up until midnight reading and researching Aaden's disability. Learning new ways to help him, because right now, I read a whole page and remember NONE of it. Kind of kills my desire to keep on going. So I have become this lazy mom with a son who needs help but mom can't read. That is not me. That is not who I want to be.  And maybe then, my blogs won't be all over the place, eh? lol

I think every parent has questions about how to handle this, or how to handle that… I sit here today wondering how I explain something to Aaden. When he gets really upset, as he is now, he often completely shuts down his motor abilities, that includes walking, standing, sitting. Everything. He will just lay on the floor and scream. We know his vocal chords work. That KILLS me. I absolutely hate that he does it. Not so much because he is upset either, because every kid, disability or not, is going to get upset about something, some kids- mine- take things to the next level. I get upset because he CAN do these things and I am thankful we 'only' deal with Autism. I have made friends with a sweet woman, who's son was told he may never walk… & now he does!!!! Praise Jesus. 

How do I explain to Aaden that he CAN walk- and there are other people in and around the world that cannot? He doesn't believe me. Or either he just doesn't want to listen. It's probably a little of both. I reallllly would love for him to understand how fortunate he is. He has the ability. 

We have Aaden's follow up ARD meeting next week. We will be adjusting his goals and adding a parent partner. Parent Partner will come in our home and show us ways to assist Aaden. I'm sure he will be an angel the first couple times they are here. Which is fine. Less crying I have to hear for a few days. lol- sad but true. I wish company could live with us--- then there wouldn't be constant screams all the time. Ahh Anywho- I can barely wait to meet who will be working with us. 

This has been the first blog from my new MacBook. Whoop Whoops. Thanks sweet hubby. ;)

Until next time.

With love,
Courtney :)