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.

Friday, July 5, 2013

A good day all day

Ah yes. It’s amazing how some days are like day and night. After the stress from Tuesday’s events, Puppy woke up on Wednesday with a smile on his face and his squeaks. That’s the only way I know he’s not grumpy. A squeak in the morning is music to my ears. After getting dressed for school he came down for breakfast and asked if he was in trouble and if his teacher was going to be angry. I wish there was a magic pill he could take to wipe away his bad experiences and only keep the good ones. I did my best to explain that he already had his consequences and that he was starting a new day. He took a deep breath and said he was done misbehaving.

He had his final day at middle school and celebrated with pizza and cake.  It was a good day all day. Morning, afternoon and evening seemed to go by without a hitch. He was well behaved, helpful with laundry, did well during his therapy session. He showered before bedtime, and all was followed by the sound of silence.

Although I know that he probably thinks he’s being sincere with his apologies, this is all a part of autism. We've been down this road before and he can go days without a tantrum or cuss word, but I cannot forget that there are constant triggers that even he is unaware of which will take him to another place. It may be that he safely goes on a verbal tantrum; but it’s a possibility that he might be looking to have a more physical connection such as picking up buds or an empty box of cigarettes from the floor. I just hope he keeps safe without hurting himself. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The threat

Tuesday evening was not so smooth. Puppy had done great through his speech therapy with Joe.  After their session they went over the rules that come along with keeping his wallet in his pocket.  I had explained earlier to Joe that the wallet was beginning to have less value to Puppy, and we were going to need another way to get his attention. Well, I wasn't expecting what he said next. He explained that the next time he had a tantrum or misbehaved, he would be coming over to shave off his mustache. And so it was said out loud.  Puppy continued to say everything Joe wanted to hear and their session was over.

It almost seemed as if Puppy waited for Joe to turn the corner and out of sight before he came to me and tells me he found an empty box of cigarettes on the sidewalk and has no intentions of throwing it away. We talked it out and I was not successful. Puppy’s anxiety was escalating and I saw the signs.  I sent Joe a text to please come back.  I waited outside for Joe as Puppy ran upstairs and running around as if looking for a hiding place for both the box and his wallet. And then he waited at the door for Joe.

Once he set eyes on Joe he started cussing and throwing punches at him. Thankfully, Joe is a professional whom has years of experience in handling these same situations and he quickly took control of Puppy and restrained him as he talked him into a calm state. Then the process of following through with the threat was placed into motion. Although Puppy cried a bit, he remained under control and his mustache was shaved off. He apologized and said he knew he did several things that were against the rules and that he was not going to do them again.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

New behavior training

Since March of this year I hired a guy with experience in working with special needs kids at our school district. Joe was hired to work directly with Puppy on his behaviors.  It even started with a really big bang, too.  On day one, Puppy felt the male presence in his space and acted on it. He had a meltdown that first day.  And I was told to expect it and told it may happen a few times before he gets comfortable with having him in his home. But since Joe was able to handle the situation well and without hurting him, Puppy came around quickly.

As time went by, I saw a dramatic change in Puppy. He seemed happier and was more responsive to instructions.  He seemed to start letting himself take in the world around him in a different way, with eyes wide open.

On our second month, the lessons took a turn. I became the student. I was taught how to speak to Puppy. I learned to use a firm voice, minimum words, give clear instructions, and show no fear.  And it worked. Puppy must have noticed I was mimicking Joe and understood to follow through as if Joe were talking to him.

However, even though Puppy was having continuous days of good behavior without tantrums, his obsessions never took a back seat. They were very present and we did what seemed to be the next necessary step, we removed all wallets from his possession. He was given until the end of the regular school year (which was about a month) to keep good behaviors and be compliant with his chores and schoolwork in order to get a wallet. This would be a new wallet because all the others were taken away and given to the homeless shelter.  

Yet, being without a wallet took a toll on him. He turned to his obsession of cigarettes. He was always searching the sidewalks and trashcans for the empty boxes, or sometimes he got lucky and there was one or two in a box. He even took to stealing them from the neighbors. Yes, lucky us…we have smokers all around us. I was constantly checking his pockets and drawers. He never took a break and my need to keep steady watch on him was tiring.

The end of the school year finally arrived and he was hyped. We talked about following rules for the last couple of weeks leading up to the day. He could repeat all those rules and convincingly promise to do no wrong. I waited until the Saturday after to take him to Kohl’s so he could pick this one and only wallet that will remain in his possession for the rest of his years until it is too old and ugly to use. He picked the perfect wallet and we had a new kid. He seemed complete and happy. I felt so good being able to fill that void he had. And that was when our lives went back to how they were before, but with better behaviors.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

ESY is over

Puppy has survived an extra four weeks of summer school (ESY). Wednesday will be his last day, then he will be on a break until August when he begins classes at the high school.

Yep, HIGH SCHOOL. I don't even know how I'm going to survive this new journey he will be experiencing, much less wrap my head around how he will manage in a new campus, with a new teacher, new classmates, new rules, and so much more that has my mind doing flips.

I keep telling myself he is a bright kid whom has been able to transition well all these years, he'll be just fine.

I don't think it has hit him yet. Maybe not until he doesn't see his teacher of three years standing in front of the classroom, maybe then...he'll snap. I just hope this snap is a good one.

I'll be praying it's not the kind of snap that most kids have as they start to imagine how they can get away with not following any of the old rules, as they start to push limits with the new teacher, etc. Oh how I hope not. But he's a brave one, my Puppy. I'll have to wait and see.

Monday, July 1, 2013


Is anyone still there?

I know, I know. I said I would post more often but I got into a slump and filled with the 'blahs' that kept me away from the computer.

Things are still feeling like a roller-coaster ride, but it's not all due to Puppy and his behaviors. So much is going on at work that I'm getting burned out. I actually worked for three weeks straight without a day off and no one even noticed. Well, they noticed at work because they needed me there, but otherwise...the world still turned.

I shall make myself work through the 'blahs'. But I don't have to like it.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Ups and Downs

We are still hanging on. On to what? I don't sanity, hope, heart maybe.

The last month has been rather difficult. I can't put my finger on it, so I can't fix it, or help it to be better.

Since the last time I wrote, we now have four new holes in the walls of our home. Two smoke detectors are hanging from wires on the ceilings. The tantrums are here and don't appear to be minimizing.

Actually, I think because we are trying something differently, Puppy may be expressing his dislike to the change.

I'll try to get back on here to blog about these changes. Wish us luck.

Friday, February 22, 2013

A day off--maybe two

Today is Friday. I am home alone. The school district has scheduled an "inclement weather-make up day" and there are no classes. But because it's rather difficult to leave Puppy with just anyone, which has become practically no one, my boss is very understanding of this and has given me the day off.

And as for Monday, there are also no classes because they have a "staff development day" when teachers get updated on stuff, or catch up on work, or not really sure what they do. But that's not important, what is important is that Puppy needs attention that day. So my boss already gave me the day off, and the only thing is I'm going to need to ask for Friday morning to take Puppy to the orthodontist. So I might trade Monday for Friday morning.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Tired evening and morning

All went well yesterday...until I picked up Puppy from daycare. When I got to the daycare and waited outside the door for it to be opened I noticed something different. There was a flowerpot with dirt and cigarette buds in it. Once in the truck Puppy started asking, "Mom, can you buy me cigarettes?" And asking why not, and begging and pleading with me to buy them for him.  I can so understand how he may have seen the buds on his way in earlier, then on his way out; and this may have triggered him to think about the cigarettes, it's something that simple.

So we are headed home and talk about bad timing. I had to stop at the convenience store for breakfast items and just as I expected, it escalates to a full blown plead for me to buy cigarettes. He's screaming, tugging at my arm, and making tears to seek out sympathy. I say, "NO" and we get off the truck. He follows me like my shadow would. We go to the register and he keeps both hands in his pocket and just watches as I pay and head for the door. He follows with no more words. We are in the truck and he starts to speak. "Mom, you see how I behave?" He must have realized how he was acting earlier and remembered that his teacher told him she can see him in the truck with cameras. And if that didn't do it, I don't really care why he calmed down, just that he did. As we started driving home he started up again and continued to ask for cigarettes but in a calm tone, all the way home.

Once home he asked to go next door. I didn't allow it because he has already stolen a box of cigarettes from the neighbor and I assumed that was exactly what he had in mind. But the other neighbor was outside so I allowed that for a few minutes.  A few minutes turned into about 45 minutes before he returned home.

He was in a good mood up until I reminded him that we had to get homework done and he had to shower before bedtime. Needless to say, none of this happened the way it had played out in my head. He said a few colorful words to let me know it was a "no go" and headed up to his room. Once there, I pushed for him to shower. He started into a debate about not wanting to and how he was tired and had a fever, etc. I was already tired myself and asked one more time before walking away to ignore his actions.

While alone in his room he was in overload and bit his finger causing injury to it with his braces and the cut was enough to make it bleed. So he calls me over to his room. I walk in to see the blood all over his finger and I remember taking a deep breath to help me continue with whatever came next.

After cleaning up and getting an explanation of how he hurt himself, he begins crying with tears and begs that he has a fever and can't shower. My mind is tired from the debating and I let him change into sleepwear and tuck him into bed. I get the silence I was hoping for...until he starts calling me upstairs again.  He apologizes for his behavior, he promises to sleep and cause no more trouble.

I got my silence again and was already contemplating the morning routine being interrupted by some signs of anxiety and debate as to how he would be in trouble for not completing his homework. But then I cleared my mind and focused on my evening TV shows and went to bed tired as usual.

This morning was a repeat of the visions I had the night before. Tantrums, banging of the head on table and wall, hitting himself with closed fists, and the loud crying with tears were the scene at our home as I prepare my first cup of coffee.  He was nervous as he remembered his behavior last night and begged me not to make him go to school today. After much consoling and some lying, I promised to write a note to his teacher explaining his fever last night to excuse him from homework. But I actually wrote a note telling her how it really went down. We have a deal where whenever I tell her about incidents, she tells him she saw his on the cameras so I am not the tattle-tell and they discuss his behaviors.  I hope it goes well for him at school today. Good luck, Puppy.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Weekend getaway

This past weekend was just what we needed.  Puppy and I joined other family members on a trip to Austin, Texas, to celebrate my niece's 7th birthday party.

Puppy and I quickly packed our bags after I picked him up from daycare on Friday when I got out of work. We rode with my sister Cookie, to San Antonio that night.  We stayed at her daughter's (my niece and her boyfriend's).  We went out to dinner and had a pleasant meal with good company, my nephew Bobby and his girlfriend joined us. It had been a long evening with the two and a half hours drive, so after a little conversation we headed to sleep. Puppy was a wonderful passenger on our drive and was well behaved at the restaurant.

Oh boy. See this is what happens, interruptions. Puppy is calling me upstairs to tuck him into bed.  This is why I can't seem to finish writing anything.

I don't want to keep you waiting for the rest of the story about our weekend, but I will tell you this...Puppy was the best he had been in a long time. Not one single tantrum, or angry face, or bad word. He was easy going, patient and we enjoyed our time out of town with our family. He received so much praise and recognition from me for his good behavior. I could tell that he was proud of himself and he was aware of how he had not been angry and never caused self-injury all three days of our trip. It was a great feeling for both of us.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

On the bus

My days are filled with thoughts of trying to steer Puppy in the right direction. I try to think of ways to distract him from his wallets. I'm not very successful because he's tied to wallets as if they were an extra limb to his body. His everyday is planned with him either having the wallet in his pocket or securely placed in a drawer at home where he feels no one else will see it and take it (the latter is easy because we don't get many visitors).

Of course, his teacher and the assistants are fully aware of his obsession since they have been together for three school years, now. We seem to be working as best as we can to manage the wallet issues. But how can we continue procedures that have been in place and working between them at school with Puppy if there is an interruption in the middle?

This morning Puppy told me that yesterday he had asked the bus driver and monitor to buy him a wallet, a Nautica wallet, which is his favorite brand at the moment. Apparently, they are conversing on the bus about wallets.  I had mentioned it to his teacher before the holidays. Puppy was coming home telling me stories of their conversations and I also instructed him not to talk about wallets on the bus, but the obsession is too strong and if he can find someone to listen, it's going to happen. 

But talking and listening are one thing. Giving him used credit cards to place in his wallet is another thing. Puppy has had credit cards and business cards to fill over a dozen wallets. He picks up business cards wherever he sees them. And I am guilty of giving him his first set of used credit cards. But he shuffles between them, switches around as the different cards lose or gain his interest.

However, he has obviously made a connection on the bus and is receiving cards from the bus monitor. He feels so secure with her that asking for a wallet seemed easy and alright.

So, with four and a half months to go before ending this school year (not including extended school year), I am crossing my fingers that we can manage to keep our current bus driver and monitor after we explain to them that they need to refrain from talking about wallets or credit cards with Puppy. I know he can be demanding and down right pushy if he wants attention. But indulging him with attention about his greatest obsession may not be helping anyone, especially Puppy.

This has happened before and the previous bus monitor also went overboard with giving Puppy attention he wanted on the bus and now it is part of his private practice to repeat her words and phrases. She was his bus monitor last year and was moved to another bus after several requests were made and she didn't comply. The simplest things can be harmful if we don't understand the big picture.