Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I'm Back

I know, I haven't posted anything in a while.  But I guess you could say I got writer's block.  I'd think of something but then felt it wasn't interesting enough to write about, and then I told myself...duh, no one's going to read it anyway, just write it down.  So here I am.  Again, I will try to post about some events going on and if nothing else, my stories will give you a few minutes to forget about your own problems.  Wish me luck.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Letter to Santa

Santa Claus is coming to town!  When is it the right time to tell my son there is no Santa?  I know we don't even have the turkey in the fridge, but Christmas has become a topic in our home since last weekend.  My son's comprehension level is similar to that of a 4-5 year old child even thought he turned 12 y/o this year.  His intellectual disability is keeping him innocent from certain things in life, one of them being Santa Claus.

We go through the motions and rituals, the Christmas tree set-up; the lights go up as well, making the wish list and the secret gift buying. 

Up through last year the teachers at school were still using Santa Claus as a means to keep some order in their classrooms, and Puppy still believed because I saw no reason to break his heart then. But he's a big boy now.  This year Puppy started middle school, so I'm not sure how much time is spent involving the spirit of Christmas.  He started to ask for some items he has an interest in, and for the time being I suggested we take some time during the next weekend to write a letter to Santa.  I was really hoping to buy time to think this out a little further.

Should I have a talk with his teacher and get an idea of how they approach the subject?  I suppose I could follow their lead and see how it goes.  Are there any suggestions or opinions?  I’m listening.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

School Illnesses

My son has autism, and I identify his ability to mimic to be his gift.  I believe every child has a gift or talent that they do well, and mimicking is Puppy’s gift.  My son is also rather demanding when it comes to receiving attention.  However, he chooses who he wants undivided attention from and seeks it.

So far we have had a good start on the school year without any major illnesses that have kept Puppy home.  I hope I'm not jinxing us.  However, yesterday, a classmate of his wasn't feeling well and threw up in the afternoon.  The teacher sent me a note home letting me know that Puppy was also not feeling well so that I could monitor him.

Even though it is Mrs. B's first year with my son as her student, we have spoken on several occasions and she is fully aware of the mimicking.  Her first intuition was that he’s having the same reaction to lunch as another student in Puppy’s class.  When she noticed that Puppy had not thrown up, or had real stomach pains--she decided that he was using the illness as a sign for attention.  She allowed him to put his head on his desk and rest, but waited for another sign to help her determine if he was or wasn't pulling her leg.  Luckily she was on to him and he forgot about his pain as quickly as it appeared.

This morning as Puppy and I were getting ready, he started whining that his stomach hurt and that maybe he needed to stay home or at grandmas. Everyone knows that there's nothing better than getting attention from grandparents.  He was on a roll, but I read him like a book and sent him to school.

It was around 10:30 A.M. when I received a call from the school nurse.  I thought to myself, "Here we go." Yes, he was complaining of a stomach ache and the nurse told me he threw up and I need to go pick him up.  I told her someone would be there shortly.  Then I called my mom and asked her if it was something she was able to do, pick him up and babysit him all day.  She said it wasn’t a problem but it was going to be a short while before she could pick him up and of course I said he’s fine, he’s being watched over by the nurse.

Just as I hang up, Mrs. B is texting to let me know he’s not feeling well, but she’s suspicious that he may be trying to go home because he saw the other student do it yesterday.  I agreed since that was Puppy’s conversation with me this morning.  She told me how he was forcing himself to vomit and could only spit up a little juice from breakfast.  We agreed that it would be better to keep him in school and monitor him since there wasn’t any fever or other symptoms present.  We cleared it with the school nurse and he was a little rebellious but calmed down after he noticed nothing was working to get the teacher’s undivided attention.  He finished off the day at school.
Puppy is now sleeping peacefully.  Amen.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Is he listening?

Many, many times I just wonder.  How much of what I tell Puppy is he listening to?  Then I quietly laugh all by myself.  Yeah, he is listening to every word.  He simply chooses when to react or answer to my words. My son is very observant of his surroundings, this includes all that he hears be it voices or noises.

I know, this only leaves me open to give some examples.  One was just yesterday.  Last night Puppy and I attended our monthly autism support group meeting.  It was a small group of parents exchanging good conversation while Puppy was cared for in another room with other children.  Because of the interesting stories we shared, our meeting went beyond its scheduled time.  All this is fine and I have no complaints.  But waiting in the driveway at home was my sister whom had misplaced her key to enter the house.  Unfortunately, she had stressful day at work and was ready to relax and hearing we were running late was not what she wanted to hear.  On our way home I stressed to Puppy that his aunt might not be in the best of moods and he was to try and keep clear of her.  When we got home, he went to his room to get ready for his evening routines and follow through with the instructions before bedtime. He saw my sister sitting on her bed, he went up to her and softly asked her, "Are you angry?"  She simply answered, "No, I'm just tired."  He walked away calmly, smiled, squeaked in his high pitched sounds and continued with his routine.  I must say he did pretty well.  It surprised me that there were a couple of parts to my instructions and yet, he complied beautifully. These are new experiences Puppy is learning.

Another comes to mind easily.  Our mornings are not usually what I'd call hectic, but sometimes they can become stressful for me since I need to make sure Puppy is getting ready for school and taking his meds, while I am also getting myself ready for work.  So our routines start and I begin to shout down the hallway to him to get dressed, tie your shoes, brush your teeth, find your belt, put it on, etc. And like with most kids, I normally repeat myself, once, twice, three times, or more.  But then it happens...once in a while he surprises me and shows up behind me, taps me on the shoulder and says, "Mom, I'm ready."  Whew--I did my job and yes, he was listening.

But I'll finish this post with my favorite example of all.  He loves music and even insists on sleeping with the radio on all night.  He's not really particular to any specific kind of music but I influence his listening to country music because that's my favorite.  But living in a border town, the bus drivers usually tend to have Spanish/Tejano music on the bus rides. I can tell that the music moves him.  And he can sing, sing and sing if he thinks no one is around, like in the shower, for one.  Also, the schools have functions on the holidays where the special needs students have dances, and I'm told he gets up and dances. Did I mention he loves to listen to music?  So once again, yeah--he is listening, loud and clear.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I read something interesting today that I wanted to share.

-- Phil Schwarz, Vice-President,
Asperger's Association of New England wrote about ABA teaching methodologies:

"These teaching methodologies work beautifully for some autistic kids, to teach them to learn how to learn. They do so precisely because they leverage the children's specifically autistic strengths:  good memory, attention to detail, attention to patterns and to the continuation and breakage of patterns. They also break cognitive steps down into units that can be tuned to match the children's cognitive and sensory bandwidth and attention span -- both at the outset and as they increase over time."  Please look him up if you want to see his "defense" for ABA teachings.

I only wanted to post the definition he wrote because it brought me to a place where I am further understanding my son and his lack of instinct.  I already know that our days are consumed with teaching, "teaching him how to learn."

But what happens when he "learns" poor behaviors from his peers then finds it difficult to understand why his mom keeps telling him not to do it?  Someone else did it, why can't he do the same?  Puppy has no instinct to know much of what is right and what is wrong until he learns about it, and usually the hard way.

Also, he doesn't usually show interest to play with the other kids.  Mostly it's because unless he is taught to catch and throw a ball, basketball, baseball, etc., it's all Greek to him.  I sometimes forget to remember this small factor myself.  I hope that now since I wrote about it, I'll be more alert and not so quick to correct him for the chance that he did not know.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Weekend is Over

It's the first Monday on Daylight Saving Time (Central).  Puppy and I made it off to school and work, sliding out the door.  It wasn't that we didn't wake up with enough time, we just had some distractions.

Puppy and I had a pretty good weekend.  Actually it was a little rougher for Puppy because on Friday he had his wallet removed by the teacher aide and kept at school over the weekend.  His teacher had meetings all day.

I know it doesn't sound like anything serious, but for is similar to his security blanket.  He has several interests and right now, his wallet is very important to him and on top of the list.

We have begun to use Applied Behavior Analysis to help Puppy.  I am in daily communication with Puppy's teacher, and she is clear about how she practices ABA with him and she will take the time to talk to him calmly with examples for him to understand the reasons she does certain things or actions in class.

The TA let me know he had an outburst in class which resulted with her taking the wallet, but she did not go into details as to what caused the outburst and how it was addressed other than she took his wallet.  I am unsure if he should have had it taken from him by another person who is not the teacher.  Although I have to respect that the aides are familiar with the daily practices and consequences the teacher uses, the reason for keeping his wallet over the weekend may or may not have been explained to him.  Continuing with proper routines used by the teacher are important in assisting Puppy learn a lesson.

I suppose the only thing I can do is to wait until I get more information from the teacher today.  I hope he gets the wallet returned to him.  It completes him.  Puppy has autism and many times he has no control over some of the actions he does, mostly because he is unaware he is doing them.  I am not making excuses for him, but I am familiar with the words and actions he uses and I can tell when he is purposely doing something whether good or bad, and when it is done without any or much thought.  Did a teacher aide of three months classroom time able to know the difference?


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My Day Off

I was going to write about taking the day off.  It just sounded too funny that it actually made for a good start of a blog.  It's only 9:30 AM and my mind is already overwhelmed with the information I read today and there's still more filling my e-mail.  This is why I wanted to take the day off.

But guess what?  As a parent, there is never a day off.  My mind went back to the morning routines and again I was getting stressed.  Don't's not a bad kind of stress, just a general stress that I get because I worry so much about Puppy.  I even wish I could keep him home and safe from the outside world, but then I snap and realize this would be far from being productive, healthy or responsible.

Keeping Puppy from attending classes at school would be a huge mistake.  We got lucky this year in that Puppy's teacher took the time and effort to educate herself about autism and not only special education in general.  We had only two other teachers like her, but then we had a setback the last 3 years.  I bet you're starting to think that for Puppy being a 6th grader, this already sounds like a lot of teachers.  As it turns out, we lived in a subdivision that required Puppy to be transferred between 3 schools for the K-2 grades because our school district's boundary lines kept changing.  In total we have been through 5 teachers and now our 6th. The only plus was that except for his Kinder year, each campus to date has had a  Structural Language Center (SLC) Unit – These units provide an educational service to students with autism or autistic like characteristics. The age levels range from 3 years old at the elementary to 22 years old at the high school.  It's a growing need in our city and the units are almost in every campus within our two districts. 

This year Puppy started middle school.  His teacher has a BA in psychology with a minor in Sociology; a MS in Special Education and is certified as an Educational Diagnostician. She is also in the process of getting national certification as a Behavior Analyst (Applied Behavior Analysis). Yea for us!  If all goes well she will be his teacher for the next three years.

I already wrote more than I had planned to write.  Maybe I'll be feeling better tonight and be able to jot down some more thoughts.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

It's Personal

For over a year now, and I have enjoyed reading and sometimes even participating on Twitter.  Today I read some postings by some of my "imaginary" friends about blogging and I feel the same way as they do.   For me, blogging is simply a journal, diary, my log of events or issues about our's personal.

Since I'm new to blogging, I have kept my blog private because I'm not ready to share with the rest of the world all that I write.  It may also be that my grammar isn't as good as it once was and it might take away from the story or  message for the day.  I'll probably share someday, but I'm taking baby steps, baby steps.

I use my Outlook Calendar to write myself notes, doctor's appointments, school events, teacher comments, medication refills, birthdays, etc.  The calendar is a place I go to daily and it just seemed like the practical place to keep everything together.  But you know, that calendar was getting pretty tiny for some of the stuff I was keeping.  The only benefit was that I could see it all at a quick glance and I am able to maneuver between daily, weekly or monthly views, but I then have to click on icons to show extended notes, also back and forth, over and over.

Mostly, it is the one sure place where I can find all my information that was past, present, I can review it whenever necessary.  Notebooks or At-A-Glance handbooks were no longer easy for me because I was forgetting to write in it, was limited on space, and I was leaving it behind at home, or work or in the truck. But I can always find a computer and I don't have to carry the Internet calendar.  Besides, I can also access the calendar on my iphone.  Woohoo!

This will be my place to share the experiences between Puppy and myself. I probably won't write about any researched material. The truth is -- I don't have time to do research; however, I am always reading about this or that, and trying to keep up to date with the latest on the Internet. Thanks to twitter and yes, my "imaginary" friends, I have more than I can handle.  The best part is that my twitter friends narrow down most of the basics and new articles. Some of these people have been dealing with autism longer than I have, so it's comforting to know that there are several places for support and information.

You wanna hear something funny?  If you would have asked me eight, five or even three years ago if I would write about our lives and how autism is a part of it, I would have said, "No."  There was really no reason to write.  We took our days one at a time and did our best. I'll explain later why this changed, and how these days I have so much to say.  This is already my tenth or eleventh blog, lol.  This has become my personal blog and are only my own opinions and thoughts.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Mood Swings

My son has autism.  He speaks, so he can usually tell me what's going on.  He can let me know when he is sad, happy, angry, tired, frustrated, hungry, ill, and a few others.  To most parents who don't have children with autism this is good enough.  As his mom, this is not enough and not clear...and is still not a indication of what is actually happening to him on the inside.

Puppy goes through mood swings for the most part of the day, everyday.  There's no way to know when it's going to happen.  Sure, with time I am now able to determine through his facial expressions when he shows disapproval and this may lead to a mood swing, but I can't be staring at this his face 24/7.

Why does this become a topic for a blog?  Mood swings are a big part of our day, Puppy's mostly.  Not to be mistaken with a tantrum; mood swings by my definition are when Puppy gets angry without reason.   It is usually triggered during conversation, but not always. It can simply take a look from someone else, or even a memory.  This causes him to talk loudly, talk back, hit whatever object is in front of him, walk away in anger, isolate himself, etc.  Tantrums are much worse...he will cause injury to himself, punch someone, break objects, slam doors, break windows, throw an object across the room, cause reason for restraining, etc. 

You may be thinking that if the above is the bad side of a mood swing, there has to be a good side, too.  There is.  We enjoy going out whether it be to restaurants or to visit family, and so forth.  Puppy knows that to be able to continue these trips out of the home, he needs to control himself.  He's getting much better at it and we love to take him out as a privilege for good behavior.  There is just so much to add to this last sentence that it will require another posting. I'll get back to the good behavior soon.

I am baffled by all that I still do not know. I try to read at least one new article everyday, but sometimes I can squeeze in about five if I'm lucky.  So what am I searching for these days?  I'm searching for ways to re-direct Puppy, ways to prevent a mood swing or a tantrum.  Can it be done?  We have had some successes, however sometimes he is able to remember what he was doing earlier and we are back at square one.  We, my family, his teacher and aides--are trying really hard, but we won't give up.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Quick Thinking

Quick thinking is something I'm not very good at when it comes to trying to get my son to change the subject.

Puppy has been having a few rough days.  He's not able to focus on much of anything other than his obsessions.  Small, very small moments get through and he smiles and laughs, and I know that his thoughts are elsewhere and not chained down to his obsessions. But these are only small moments and not as many as I wish they could be.

I lay awake sometimes wondering of methods to distract Puppy from being drawn in, into an intense train of thought that only he can see, hear, smell, taste and touch.  No one and nothing exists whenever his mind is concentrating on his obsessions.

Yes, these have been some long, long days.  But they can only get better,...right?


Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday, Monday

Finally, Monday and I get to go to work to rest.  I know it sounds ugly, but it's the truth and I'm sure everyone's said it more than once. 

I'm just praying that Puppy has a better day than the last two. I am lucky, no, we are lucky that his teacher is fully aware of the issues at home that she is able to focus and help him adjust at school. 

I hadn't mentioned it before, but Puppy is attending public school and is in the SLC Unit which is set up for autistic students only, a small class of 12 with the teacher and two aides.  It's only because of the behavior problems Puppy had last year at the elementary school that now he is not mainstreamed.  I don't feel that it is hurting him at this time since he had been mainstreamed for the last 4 years. The fact that he's more alert of his surroundings and himself, allowing him to stay in a structured classroom seems to be the best for him.

I could keep writing but it's time to wake up Puppy and have him start his day. Wish us luck.



"You can’t punish a child who is acting out because of sensory overload." - Temple Grandin

I took this from the twitter tweet of another parent of an autistic child, Stuart Duncan...thanks!

Saturday, October 23, 2010


What was that motto I have on my twitter profile? Oh yes, one day at a time.  And one day at a time is the only way to approach each challenging day.

The first wake up from Puppy was around 8:00 AM requesting permission to eat cereal. And if he can fix it himself it's a 'yes'.  After his cereal he was ready to continue his morning and he dressed himself, grabbed his shoes, put them on and he was out the door.  Luckily I have chimes on all doors and windows, because I literally jumped out of bed, went to the bedroom at the front of the house and hollered at him to come inside.  I heard him come up the stairs and saw his sweet face look at me and he says, "Good morning, mom...what's wrong?"  In my sleepy calm voice I whisper to him, "Puppy, you should not go outside alone, especially without letting me know. I don't want a stranger to take you. I love you and you need to stay inside until I can watch you."  I can laugh about it now because I remember that at that moment I wanted to yell at him and say, "couldn't you have given me just five more minutes of sleep, please!" But I'm so glad I didn't.

As most weekends go, that was the time I needed to get up because he is not going to go back to bed no matter how many times I asked him to and told him it is too early.  Sad part is he doesn't like to sit in front of a TV and watch cartoons or anything else for that matter.  He wants me to watch him, or talk to him or make him a warm breakfast.  So we had breakfast together and he took his meds and our day was ready to start again.

It was a very long day for me. One of Puppy's obsessions took control of him all day.  "It" was on his mind the entire day, at home, at grandma and grandpa's, and while driving around from place to place. He was so frustrated and angry with himself and at me for not agreeing with him or giving in to him.  He didn't like that there were consequences that came with today's actions and behaviors.  It is getting more difficult to apply discipline when he is picking up poor habits from other classmates at school.  Puppy is starting to talk back and shrug his shoulders whenever he disapproves or doesn't want to answer my questions.  Yeah, at twelve years he's already acting like a teenager.

This is the short version of what happened today, but believe was a very long day.  Lord help me and grant me all the patience I need to handle my one day at a time.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Been Busy

Yep, I have a question... does anyone who has or knows a child with autism have issues with obsessions?

We do.  It's something that keeps Puppy busy, mostly mentally but then it turns physical when he needs to act on it.  He needs to ask questions about it, he has the need to touch it, he simply can't control himself.  There are mostly two, maybe three things that are constantly on his mind.  I'm not too sure I'm comfortable about being so specific about this so I am going to update on this at a later date.

Obsessions for Puppy most certainly fill his day.  He has difficultly concentrating in school because of it.  He makes all our conversations about it.  All I can say is that I wish I could save him and let him a day of peace where he is not haunted by the obsessions in his mind.  Of course I say this, but I haven't walked a day in his shoes and his obsessions may be the only thing keeping him going.

Another day to practice patience and understanding.

I read a quote on twitter this morning:  "God understands our prayers even when we can't find the words to say them. - Unknown, posted by @DamnRightTweets on 10/20/2010.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Smoother Than Usual

This weekend was smoother than usual. Puppy had his ups and downs, good and not so good moments, but all I can say is...welcome to our lives.

As most Saturday's go, we have breakfast, relax a bit in front of the TV or the computer, and then I start laundry. I'm teaching Puppy how to sort the clothes and follow through to the washer and pouring detergent. He's doing pretty good, but we are still in the teaching/learning stages where it's a big chore to him and usually I'll have to promise him a dollar if he makes it all the way to placing the washed clothes into the dryer. When the clothes are ready, half of the time I can ask him to help collect hangers, and that's only because to him I'll take too long if he lets me put the clothes away alone. He drives a hard bargain but we have a system.

Puppy and I can make it through two separate loads of laundry before we decide it's time to hit the streets and get rid of the cabin fever that's so quickly building up; and that's around 2 PM or 3 PM when we leave the house for another adventure.

Oh no, I hadn't seen the time. I wish I had started writing earlier so that I could finish writing about the entire weekend. FYI, Sunday was equally pleasant for the most part.

I'm going to have to end today's story with 1) there were no huge tantrums, 2) there was no self-injury, and 3) there was no punching walls or tables, and that people is what I call a "smoother than usual" kind of weekend. (Sighing with a smile)

I'll try to do better next time. Good night Puppy, see you in the morning.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Pass the Biscuit

I received an e-mail today that had this attachment.  I don't know who wrote it so I can't give credit to the right person, but enjoyed it. I hope you like it, too.  

When I was a kid, my mom liked to make breakfast food for dinner every now and then. And I remember one night in particular when she had made breakfast after a long, hard day at work.
On that evening so long ago, my mom placed a plate of eggs, sausage and extremely burned biscuits in front of my dad. I remember waiting to see if anyone noticed! Yet all my dad did was reach for his biscuit, smile at my mom and ask me how my day was at school... I don't remember what I told him that night, but I do remember watching him smear butter and jelly on that biscuit and eat every bite!

When I got up from the table that evening, I remember hearing my mom apologize to my dad for burning the biscuits. And I'll never forget what he said: "Honey, I love burned biscuits."

Later that night, I went to kiss Daddy good night and I asked him if he really liked his biscuits burned. He wrapped me in his arms and said, "Your Momma put in a hard day at work today and she's real tired. And besides - a little burnt biscuit never hurt anyone!"

Life is full of imperfect things.....and imperfect people. I'm not the best at hardly anything, and I forget birthdays and anniversaries just like everyone else. But what I've learned over the years is that learning to accept each others faults - and choosing to celebrate each others differences - is one of the most important keys to creating a healthy, growing, and lasting relationship.

And that's my prayer for you today. That you will learn to take the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of your life and lay them at the feet of God. Because in the end, He's the only One who will be able to give you a relationship where a burnt biscuit isn't a deal-breaker!

We could extend this to any relationship. In fact, understanding is the base of any relationship, be it a husband-wife or parent-child or friendship!

"Don't put the key to your happiness in someone else's pocket - keep it in your own."

God Bless You..... Now, and Always....

So Please pass me a biscuit, and yes, the burnt one will do just fine! And PLEASE pass this along to someone who has enriched your life... I just did!


Puppy had a pretty good day yesterday. His teacher sends me daily communication and noted he was focused and participated in P.E. today without complaints.

After school he is taken by the school bus to a daycare/learning center. There he mostly plays, colors, watches videos, but only because he's already had a full day of schoolwork, and we do homework together at home in the evenings.

Puppy's progress report at daycare was not so good. The director mentioned he was in deep thought several times and sat alone. When she'd try to get his attention, he'd make noises or grunts and wave his hand at her to leave him alone.

When I picked him up from daycare and we were on our way home, I asked what was bothering him. It took a while but he finally told me he had been thinking about a former classmate whom he saw at a field trip just this week. This wouldn't normally be anything of an issue, except that this particular classmate was probably the worst influential Puppy has ever met.

How can this be? Well, this boy also has autism and unfortunately is part of a dysfunctional family with no dad, mom is bi-polar, sister is a trouble-maker, and grandma holds them together as best she can. Living this rough life, the little boy has learned many behaviors and words that are unfavorable, and you guessed Puppy knows those same words and behaviors. But Puppy also knows it's wrong to use foul language or flip the bird even though he has no idea what he's saying and is using the wrong finger. Puppy's good day turned sad when he felt the need to mumble some curse words at the children in daycare, but luckily the mumbled words went unnoticed, except to himself.

Yep, Puppy is easily influenced and everything he says and does is learned, nothing is instinct to him. I wish I could learn how to remove and replace all the bad with only good. Any suggestions?

To end the day's story, we talked about his behavior and copying others. We had a delicious supper and sent him off to bed feeling better about himself.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Day One

Seems strange to call it "Day One" since it's been over eight years, but I'm new to blogging and thought I'd give it a try.

I choose to write about the events in my life that specifically surround my son, Puppy. No, it's not his real name but rather a nickname we call each other. He called me that one day and when I asked him why...he said it was because he liked puppies and how they are soft to the touch and he liked to hug them, so we became Puppy for each other.

Puppy is a beautiful twelve (12) year old boy with autism. Our lives may seem a little different from others because autism is a large part of our everyday routines. And for the record, autism does not define my son, but hopefully it will explain what I write about. So with this said, I am blogging to write about some of those events as they happen. You don't have to comment, but I would like to hear feedback. I hope you enjoy the reading.

And I will now post my first blog with hope of many more to follow.