Thursday, March 31, 2011

Change of Plans, Change of Heart

Today I had plans; busy, fun and important plans.  Those plans included a brief stop at the school to drop off the kids’ book fair money and then I was on my way.  I ran into the office, waited patiently for the office staff to come to me, waited a little less patiently for my boys to come pick up the money- but I was still on schedule. Then it happened.  Paul said “My teacher wants you to come upstairs after this.” I knew what this meant…..a big ole monkey wrench thrown into the well-oiled gears of my plan.
The monkey wrench was 5 pages on early American history.  We made it through the sequencing worksheet on the French and Indian War.  That was a tough assignment because the facts were not laid out in a linear fashion.  Instead you had to read through the chapter and glean the information from the story.  For an Aspie mind that is just torture. We powered on through the comparative maps section, easy but monotonous work.  Then we came to the Q & A worksheet.  This is where Paul’s quick mind shines.  I love the way he process information.  It keeps me on my toes and often results in lots of laughter (he has quite the sense of humor).    We were hard at work when the question appeared.   I must be honest; I was in a bit of hurry and just trying to get through.  I had not planned on being at the school today.  I had made other plans, which included a lunch date with my handsome man.
I read the question aloud to him. Question: How did the colonist show their anger to the British government about taxation without representation?
Paul very quickly responded “They screamed ‘No taxation without representation’.  This was not an effective method of communicating their anger because the British Parliament could not hear them across the ocean”
I wrote his answer down as I held in my chuckle.  That is such an Aspbergian answer: literal, to the point and completely accurate.  I brought his paper to his teacher and we shared a giggle over it all.
I left the school, pushed back my lunch date for another day, ran some errands and had an epiphany.  These things, these every day seemingly inconsequential things, are what make my life amazing.  I have years ahead of me for busy, fun, important plans.  I will get to spend my life having lunch dates with my handsome man.  But I only had today to hear that answer.  I only had today to laugh this laugh, make this memory.   So today my plans changed but more importantly my heart changed. 
Now I’m off to more adventures in the land of Skiff.  Thanks for reading.

Monday, March 28, 2011

And so it begins

After months of consideration I have finally stepped out and started my blog.  Yes I know its another step toward my technological demise.  I said for years that I would not relent. Yet here I am penning my first post.  
As this is the beginning of a new venture I say we commensurate it with a toast (I have just handed you a virtual glass of champagne so hold it high.....hey I really like this virtual thing!!  It is a heck of a lot cheaper than real life;-).  "To new beginnings and new friendships" says I.  "Here! Here!" you chime in.  Now let the posting begin.

This is a mosaic of our lives; quick glimpses into a world that at times is exciting, at times mundane, at times painful and yet always full.  Any one snapshot does not tell the whole story but it is my hope as you step back and view the whole you will come to understand life in an autistic friendly house.  Granted there are many things besides autism that exist in our lives but the way that autism diagnoses have affected our lives is for sure the thing that stands out about our family.  This has been a long road but it has produced an amazing journey. This is not the journey I would have chosen at the beginning but now I would not trade it for anything in the world.

Here is a little background on our lives.  My husband, Usarian, and I have been married for 12 yrs.  We have five wonderful boys: Paul 10 1/2, Sam 9, Jamie and Alex 8, and Benny 6 1/2.   To say the first five years of our marriage were difficult would be the understatement of the century.  The communications break down was beyond anything I can describe.  I went into labor early with 1 of our sons as a direct result of the stress.  I can honestly say I came very close to having a complete breakdown.  It got so bad I stopped communicating with my husband entirely.  Around this same time our son Jamie was making huge regressions.  He is a twin so it was even more marked than normal.  He was always more distant and did not make eye contact but he was little and I had 4 kids under the age of 4 (and was pregnant with a 5th).  Needless to say, I was concerned but it was not pressing.  That is until he stopped talking and started screaming 10 hours a day.  He would have violent tantrums and I would have to count in a completely monotone voice for hours to calm him down, while restraining him to keep him from harming himself or the other babies.  We began the process of diagnosis.  At 2 1/2 the doctor said he was severely autistic.  He said that although they could not be sure the indications were that Jamie would not get much better than he was.   He wanted to do all kinds of test and start Jamie on many drugs including  anti-seizure medications, even though Jamie had never had a seizure.  At this point we looked for alternative treatments.  We were blessed to live in a school district that had an awesome autism program.  They followed the ABA concept. Jamie had intensive speech, OT, PT, etc.  After less than a year he was a different child.  Within two years he was communicating and the fits had all but stopped.  At this same time our oldest had started K.  Paul was exceptionally bright so it had never occurred to me the huge accommodations I had made for him in our daily lives.  It really did not bother me that he had to sleep on only white sheets, have exactly 4 raviolis cut into fourths, or that he had to have the exact same bedtime routine to function (just to name a few) because he was crawling at 3 months, climbing stairs at 5 months and playing online video games by himself before he was a year old.  He was teaching himself to read at 2.  The other things were just chalked up to Paul's quirks.  But when he went to K it all came to a head because he could not function in the classroom at all.  He was tested and diagnosed as gifted Aspberger's. He was in the top 1% academically but socially he was below the bottom 1%.  I had learned so much through my own research.  The doctors could only give bleak and frankly scary statistics.  I learned how the autistic mind thinks, how they communicate.  I learned if my children were going to have a chance I had to change me first.  In learning to communicate with my children, I also learned to communicate with my husband.  Turns out he is also an Aspie (I'll give more details in a later post).  All the communications difficulties at the beginning of our marriage were not the typical newly married fights.  Our children being diagnosed literally saved our marriage.  Since then two more of our sons have been diagnosed with Aspberger's, Alex and Benny.  Sam is neurotypical and that has its own set of issues in a family surrounded by autism.  I'm sure we will talk about that more at a later date.
This is the beginning of our story.  It gets better from here on out.  I can honestly say that I have been truly blessed by all of my guys.  I love the way their brains process information differently and the conclusions they come to.   Neurodiversity rocks!!! 
Well I have to run.  My endless pile of laundry is calling to me.  Thanks for reading.

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