Sunday, September 30, 2012

Migraines, trantrums, and "wth?"

When you suffer from migraines frequently like I do (the kind that never actually go away, leave you literally on the floor, eyes squeezed shut, completely down for the count and incapable of even making a squeak) you end up with a lot of time to think. Since you can't do anything else but lay there and you don't really want to dwell on the fact that your head will probably explode at any second, you try to occupy yourself. 

Today as I laid on the couch with two of my kitty pride purring away all cuddled up with me, while my totally awesome and thankfully pretty independent child kept as quiet as he was physically able, very mindful of Mommy's ailment, I had that opportunity. These are the kind of moments you have as a single mom where you have those "what if" and "holy crap" moments. While I have learned to function despite the pain, nausea, sensitivity, etc, that goes with migraines, enough to know that if something major happened I'd still be able to work our way through it, I still freak out a little over not being able to respond.

This thought path led me to think about how hard it is to be single mom with an Autistic child. I have pretty much spent the last (almost) 10 years raising this kiddo alone. I've been getting these knock down, drag, out, ha-ha you can't do sh*t today cause of me type migraines for over 15 years. Never did I think I would ever have to figure out how to manage the two. All I can say is, "Thank god my mom lives so close!!!!" Over the years it has become a less frightening thing for me as my son gains independence and knows what do to do if something happens. Granted he'd most likely call Grandma before 911, but I'll take it!

This then led me to think about how hard it is in the dating world to find someone who can honestly handle kiddos like mine.  Thankfully, I found such a guy in my fiance, M. He is actually a little upset that he is out of town right now and unable to be here during this current episode. All I can think is, "How lucky am I?" while I sit and smile to myself. In the past with guys I've dated, they've just avoided me like the plague. This guy wants to be here, knowing all he can do is curl up with me on the couch, make sure I'm ok, and take care of my son.

Holy golden jackpot, Batman!

This then led me to think backwards through our relationship and how M has been with my son. There was a very defining moment for me, early in our relationship, where I knew we'd be ok with M. We had been together for maybe just over a month.  I had to go to rehearsal and M said he'd watch the kiddo and everything would be ok. This stopped me dead, for two reasons really. One: I never leave him with anyone who doesn't know this kid inside and out, and two: I was sure that the relationship would be heading out the door in the days following... After all, at this point I was used to people running from our situation. After he assured me many times over and told me to get the hell out already, I went to rehearsal, frequently checked in, got reports that all was well. When I got home both were all smiles and they were watching Over the Hedge. I sent the kiddo to bed and everything seemed fine.

Then that defining moment happened.

When I came back downstairs I sat on the couch. M looked at me and said he had something to show me.  While I was gone the kiddo had misplaced a toy. At the time he was still very much of the mindset that if it wasn't where he thought it was then it was gone forever, stolen, missing, he'd never see it again. Well, apparently he lost something. M had recorded the ensuing tantrum partly so I could see what happened, but I think, mostly because he was actually quite amused by it. Why was he amused? Well... M is an extremely laid back kind of guy, very sharp contrast to me for sure. Not much ruffles him at all. My son can be overly dramatic and somewhat theatrical.  Picture a scenario like this:

A is laying on a stability ball, crying, screaming, yelling, just losing his mind, incapable of listening to reason.

A: It's gone! I'll never find it! Mom will be mad cause I lost it! (screaming continues)
M: Well, if you can stop crying long enough and tell me what it looks like then we can find it.
A: It's gone! I'll never see it again!
M: It's not gone, we can find it. Why don't you tell me what it looks like?
A: (screaming and sobbing) It's gone!!! I'll never get it back!!!! (more sobbing)
M: A, we can find it. I promise. If you can tell me what it looks like I can help you find it.

This goes on for about 5 minutes or so when...

A suddenly stops.... Looks at M.... And asks hopefully, "We can find it?? Really?"
M: (chuckling at how it suddenly and finally sunk in) Yes buddy, we can find it. What does it look like?
A: Let's look for it! Maybe we can find it!
M: (more chuckling)

The wayward toy was found within 5 minutes.

Throughout the exchange you could hear M give a little chuckle during the times when A got overly dramatic (which I will admit, those moments really are funny). What got me the most, was how calm M was the ENTIRE time and how he instinctively and simply talked A through the crisis. M just kept on talking to him, trying to talk him down and realize that the world was not ending.

That's exactly what I do with him. Well, bugger. And it just came to him naturally.

I never hesitated over the idea of leaving those two alone together from that day on. The two of them are like partners in crime hiding evidence of ice cream cones and comrades in arms when ganging up on Mommy. And let's face it, sometimes he's better at handling times of crisis than I am!

I snuggled down further into the couch pillows and kitty fur. Yeah, we'll be just fine. Are we lucky or what?

Monday, September 3, 2012

The First Week has Come and Gone....

Whew! The first week of school has come and gone and we survived. Both of us. We had a few homework battles but that is to be expected, right? It seems the Star Chart and earning the Mario plush toys has been a huge motivator for him and works wonderfully as a behavior modification plan. It has become one of my greatest ideas! Even his BSC is impressed. She even mentioned it in a meeting with her coworkers and supervisors! Whoo hoo!

Anyway, back off the side road... I've added a couple of things to his "required" items that are school related that I like quite a bit. Not only is homework one (being our biggest battle and I was forewarned he'd have math homework every night) but reading me a book is also one. On nights he doesn't have homework like Fridays and weekends? Well, he can read me another book. That makes two books and he can get his homework star! It's a great way for him to work on his reading fluency. (Can you tell I'm a teacher?)

This has actually worked out well. My fiance and I just love listening to him read. He'll do all the little voices of the characters and uses inflection! It's pretty impressive really. Not to mention how he does love to read. We have more books in this house then I have shelves to put them on! Every time the book fair comes to school this kid gets to go with a surprising amount of money and get several books. The teachers looked at me funny at first, but now they know! He'll spend every last dollar! He even helps the school aides set up the book swap and they'll let him choose a couple books in trade. He keeps bringing out books to read that I've never seen before!

What makes this chart even better right now? Since he has his own chores to do, like feed the cats and empty/fill the dishwasher and my favorite -clean up his toys, it leaves me a little more time to work on my classes for my Masters (Special Education for anyone who isn't aware). So far my house has remained relatively clean and therefore, my sanity is remaining somewhat intact. I HATE clutter. It messes with my mind. I also hate stepping on toys. Especially Legos. What makes those things hurt so much?

Anyways.... His ADHD meds haven't done a whole lot yet so his doctor doubled them. Hopefully we can see some change and we never get to "hell week." That week should be coming up soon. You know, the week where the novelty of new teachers and new classmates wears off and all hell breaks loose? I'm hoping that this year, it never happens.  Guess we'll see.

Another great thing? Sleep. Yep, I said it. He's SLEEPING! Since the melatonin dose was so high and not being effective his doc put him on a sleep aid and by golly.... It works! He's asleep within half an hour and out cold.... ALL NIGHT! Holy cow! No more 4 am eyeballs peeking over the edge of the mattress! HOORAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I've gotten comments about how much more rested he seems at school and how he's in a much better mood walking to his class in the morning than he was last year or any other year. Yes!  Since I drop him off in the morning before school starts now he is able to wake up on his own and start his own day before we go. This is a huge plus since it's his natural clock at work here! Dropping him off and picking him up at the end of the day also gives me the face to face time with his AS teacher and aides. They actually told me last week that since they see me every afternoon they weren't going to write in the communication log because it takes too much time and they'd just talk to me when I picked him up. Ok! We still write notes obviously if need be and can contact each other by cell phone.

So far 4th grade is shaping up to be a pretty good year for him. Here's to hoping it continues!