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.


joshua said...

"Neurodiversity rocks!!!" Thanks for sharing! Of course I knew Usarian is an Aspie but for some reason I had never heard about your boys. So that's why it's always so fun to read about the daily adventures of the Skiff famile! I thought it was just the insanity of 5 boys super close together! Here's to many more happy posts!

Unknown said...

Kristine, thanks for sharing on here. I went off facebook to get a break from all the drama that seems to arise from posting minor things IMO; so it's a blessing to see your blog and be able to keep in touch with your family this way. We just had our first IEP meeting and Joseph is borderline aspergers. They said that they could have gone either way depending on a couple different questions we answered. I'm getting a second opinion just to have it; but we're figuring out what this means for our family now. I hope to see some posts from Usarian as well. As a person who has many of the signs of an adult with aspergers, I'm encouraged by his perspective on things. It makes me feel more "normal". God bless and I look forward to your posts!

usarian said...

Congratulations honey! Glad you finally got it off the ground!!

Stacy said...

Thanks for all that you are to me!! Encourager and friend :) This is wonderful... I hope to get up the courage to blog soon... Maybe by May of 12

Kristine Meier-Skiff said...

Thanks so much everyone. I am going to post at least once a week on Mondays...maybe I'll even post more but no promises;-) I really appreciate the encouragment

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