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.