Monday, November 16, 2015

Autism Support Groups

As a parent of a child with autism, do you participate or belong to an autism support group? You can easily find groups on facebook, the Internet, or maybe from you local school district. 

I can remember the years I thought I could handle being an autism mom all by myself. But my days and nights were long. There was a lot of loneliness. Feelings of depression and anger. Thoughts of uselessness. There were also the days when I thought I was the strongest person at handling Puppy all by myself. 

But, what about me? What about me? No one ever asked how I dealt with Puppy and autism on a daily basis. I'd hear comments like, you are stronger than me, I could never raise a child with autism, he's just spoiled, stop with the time out and spank him, he's an angel and so are you, you're doing great, and keep up the good work. Those are the most common remarks and they are just too many more to remember right now. Mostly the comments were giving me a reason to be stay away, stay alone. Keeping my distance from family and friends must have made everyone think that everything was just fine and dandy. But it never was. There was never "me" time. It is all about Puppy, 24/7. No one really wants to hear how you are doing. No one really wants to know how you do it from day to day. No really wants to hear your needs and wants. 

I was wrong. One day a flier came home in Puppy's backpack. It was a support group for autism. Huh? What does that even mean, I thought. I wasn't sure but I was curious. This came years after learning that Puppy had autism. And suddenly from nowhere they were there, support. My confusion was that I expected it was an out of the school district learning center for Puppy. I wasn't going to let a chance get passed us without first checking it out. 

So we anxiously arrived to the meeting on a Wednesday at 6:30 in the evening. We were greeted with smiles and shown into a room with about 8 other parents and some kids. Some parents were there alone. Hmm? I thought it was probably a gathering to find out how many participants they could find to attend this support center for our kids. Nope, I was wrong. A person stood up in front of the room and started talking. She was also an autism mom, and welcomed the families. She asked us to introduce ourselves and our child. After that she said, "I see some new faces. We are going to continue going around the room one at a time and tell us, how are you doing?" I didn't understand the question. I thought she was asking for information on how our kids are doing in school. But the first parent started speaking and I heard story after story about the daily lives of the families present. There was some head nodding and uh-huh's from other parents...and from ME! It hit me. I can speak about ME! Someone wants to know how I am doing. I felt great relief, comfort. I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. And every other parent in the room knew exactly what I meant and what I was going through. And I knew what they were going through as well. There was this strange unity in the room. I hadn't felt that before. 

Autism parents, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents, anyone...please find some time to attend an autism support group meeting in your area or join a group if even only on facebook or over the Internet. 

I also understood how to have a greater connection with Puppy's teachers and aides throughout the years. They were there all the time, I just never reached out to them for support. My distance kept me silent and alone. But not anymore. Help in the form of shared experiences was my new comfort. I slowly visited several local autism support groups and found the one that was right for me. I still go back to the other groups now and then, and keep friends with some of the parents from each of the groups. 

Support is defined to give assistance. Different types of assistance come from a support group. As I attended more meetings, I was better informed as a parent, because some of our meeting included visitors or speakers, and introductions to therapy providers. I found out about programs for the disabled. Programs that I needed to sign up Puppy for to be on a waiting list for aid into adulthood. I found out about centers for self-help skills after high school. Respite and in-home training were also introduced to me. All this information was exactly what I needed and I didn't have to look for it, it came to me at my support group meeting. I wonder now if I would have learned about some of these programs if I had not joined a support group.

So now, I was able to accept my challenges knowing I was not alone anymore. I wasn't the only one going through the headaches or Puppy's behaviors. Now I knew that much more about how to share; and with sharing came experiences from new friends and families and I, myself was sharing my life and my life with Puppy.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Implusive Behavior

Has your child ever done something...out of simple impulse? I bet the answer is, "yes, everyday". Why do you think they did it? They did because it's an autism related characteristic just like echolalia or stimming, as well as being an ADHD behavior.

And what is an implusive act?

Impulsivity (or impulsiveness) is a multifactorial construct that involves a tendency to act on a whim, displaying behavior characterized by little or no forethought, reflection, or consideration of the consequences.

I touch on this today because I was imagining myself as a young child doing impulsive acts and getting in trouble. Of course I was always reminded, "you know better."  But does a child with autism "know better"? 

I can tell my son, "don't do that, you know better." But Puppy will probably it again, and again. There is no thought going into the action or behavior. And I'm going to say that Puppy definitely is not thinking about the consequences.

I'm including a link to a webpage I found that gives excellent examples and definitions of impulsive behaviors in children, any child.

Lets' give our kids the benefit of the doubt that there may not have been any specific reason for their impulsive behavior and remember this when handing out consequences.

However, as parents we need to teach, teach and teach with patience, there may be consequences.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Shattered thoughts

Shattered were my thoughts from yesterday's blog. I guess I spoke too soon and jinxed things.

It started with the morning routine going fine, until I waved good-bye to him as he left on the school bus; came to pick up dishes at the kitchen, and noticed he had not taken his medications.

I called the teacher to make her aware of this and to please watch for any unusual mood swings. I kept my phone close all day. Whew! No calls from school. Turns out he seems to have done well both at school and at daycare.

I suppose he was just waiting for me. Waiting to be himself and waiting to show his true colors at home. Yes, I'm more than certain other parents know what I'm talking about. Puppy comes home after a pleasant drive and, bam! He walks in the door and those mood swings I was hoping to avoid came pouring out.

Puppy was upset. I don't know what triggered this anger. He really didn't give me much notice. But it was here and loud. Puppy was angry and his first outlet is cussing. I see him and he looks like a lion with his chest out and shoulders back and the look on his face is not one I like. I do worry, but my worries are not the same as other times. I am fully aware of how this dance is going to go. He is mimicking what he's seen and this anger is not an actual emotion he is experiencing. I know this is not easy to follow, but stay with me.

My guess is Puppy is home and already bored. So his mind begins to wonder. He sees the computer station in the hallway and is angered that I have put a password on it that prevents him from using it. And if you are reading between the lines, I had to do this to keep him from searching websites he should not be watching. He discovered that he can type a word by sounding it out and Google will correct his spelling. Wow!

Puppy has even learned how to search Google on my iPhone. But even more surprising, he has learned how to delete his searches. Yep, he's very observant. He saw me clear it only once.

And the moments go by with him screaming and hitting his head and punching a wall (no hole this time) and the only thing that angers him more is me ignoring him. But this is also the only thing that makes him calm down enough to regain my attention. His apologies follow and he is calm without any serious injury. My patience has paid off. Our evening is back to quiet and pleasant. I can get used to this. And even though this calmness is not always here, it is here enough to enjoy each other's company. Gotta love Puppy. He's unique, he's Puppy.

Monday, February 10, 2014


It's another Monday. The days are just flying by and I don't know how to slow them down. I feel like Puppy is rushing to get to a place where he will be all he can be. No, nothing serious like joining the Army or anything, just seems like he becoming a little bit more independent and not needing me so much anymore.

He's always one step ahead of me and searching for more. Puppy is doing pretty well in class and even his behaviors at home have improved.  He is able to talk himself out of a situation, he will verbally scold himself for cussing, and the self-injury has been greatly reduced. Puppy is very aware of his actions and behaviors that he has even fallen into his daily routines like a fine tuned instrument.

It sure feels great to write about Puppy and he's progress. Positive progress!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A new school year

Puppy is a freshman in high school. I was more nervous for him than ever before. He seems to do well with transitions but me, not so well. He's already on his third week and I see no signs of issues. But some worry is coming over me because I don't want to see him regress on account of there is yet to be a structured work schedule handed out in class and no homework is assigned.