Posts Tagged "insanity"

On the Defense

Posted by on Dec 16, 2012 | 3 comments

On the Defense

I’ve  been on a kind of hiatus for a while now, while I was pregnant and had my fourth child.  A fourth boy. I’ve been ready to come back for a few weeks, but got caught up in the holidays and boy #3’s birthday and more holidays and life. I have stories for you, tales of Jack and his new brother, Jack and his fascination with horrible weather events and historical vehicular disasters (both air- and sea-borne), Jack and his new love of making gifts for everyone. Stories about how we need to find an ABA or someone who can help me now that Jack’s older, anecdotes about how Jack is doing in school.

Life has, as is its wont, interceded in my plans.

On Friday, twenty children died.  Twenty mamas lost their babies. Twenty families were wrenched apart at the very time of year we, regardless of religion, tend to gather our loved ones closest. Those charged with keeping them safe died as well, in the course of doing that very job. There are older mamas missing babies tonight, too.

Why should this affect me, other than the fact that two of my children are the same age as those who were lost? Other than the obvious devastation one feels when something horrifying transpires? Other than the unbearable sadness at the loss of innocents? One word.

Autism.

There have been rumours and speculation that the individual who destroyed twenty-seven lives is on the spectrum. Nothing concrete, but enough for the mainstream and social media to grasp in their hot little feeds and run with. I have seen comments on my friends’ posts about how “the shooter has autism and that’s why”. I watched Piers Morgan, on CNN, say that people with Asperger’s are “missing a piece of their brain” and can’t feel sympathy.  I have felt the bile rising in my throat for three days.

Everything I’ve worked for with my son is teetering on a fence now. This situation could go either way. People will come to their senses and understand that ASD is not the cause of a massacre, or they won’t, and I fear for what happens then.  I’m girding myself, because people have notoriously and stubbornly, as evidenced by our last election, refused to be sensible.

Why should this bother me? My child doesn’t have rage issues. My child would never do this. My child isn’t in danger.

I’m sure there are many parents out there tonight who thought the same things and were wrong.

I don’t know what the future holds for my child, or how his ASD is going to affect him in five or ten or twenty years.  I can only hope that with early intervention and constant, loving support, he’ll be a contributing member of society. A happy person with nothing more on his plate than he can handle, and the sense to reach out for help when he can’t.

What I do know is that all of a sudden, instead of telling people that my son has autism with a sense of pride (because I am damned proud of my son), I am defensive.  I feel the need to explain.  He’s high functioning.  He’s really empathetic and loving. He’s not that person.

I don’t want to be defensive about my son, and I don’t want him to ever feel defensive about himself.  Especially not because some other person who may or may not be on the spectrum had more than he could handle and made some seriously bad decisions. I want him to be as proud of himself as I am, always.

Someday I will tell him about the babies who were lost, and why.  And we will talk about it, and we will probably not be able to understand, ever. And I will continue to tell him that he is loved and supported, even if he’s angry.  Even if he’s angry with me.

Mental health support is vital. The village cannot survive without it. I’m doing my part.

Namaste.

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The Horror

Posted by on Jan 5, 2012 | 3 comments

The Horror

Right before Halloween, or maybe in preparation for it, Jack picked up a new habit.  He started walking around whispering quietly, rapidly, nonstop.  If you talk to him he’ll look you straight in the eye, but the muttered whispers don’t stop.  They continue until you make a concerted effort to get his attention, and start right up again when he’s done with you.

It’s disquieting, to say the least.

Jack is a quirky kid, and it’s not just the autism causing it.  Ok, a lot of it is the autism, but Jack is a pretty spunky dude anyway.  He’s had a laundry list of ticks that have come and gone.  He’s picked at the skin between his nose and lips until it bled.  He’s picked at his lips until they’ve bled.  He’s pulled his eyelashes and poked himself in the eyeball.  Each one has stopped in its own time with not too much intervention.  Except the eye thing, which I put a stop to by telling him if he didn’t quit I’d take him to the eye doctor, who would blow air directly into his eyes.

(It’s not a lie, although the doctor most likely wouldn’t perform a glaucoma test on a six-year-old for touching his own eye. I’m not proud.)

He stopped pretty quickly, although now that I actually have to take him in to have his eyes checked, I may wish he hadn’t listened so closely.

My point is, I’m sure someday the muttering will stop.  In the meantime, I’m having flashbacks to every horror movie I’ve ever seen featuring possessed children each time I try to have a conversation with Jack.  He’ll be doing his thing, playing with something or running endless laps of the living room, and I’ll hear it.  Like the persistent static of an old transistor radio in a Stephen King novel, I just know if I listen closely enough, I’ll hear something that will scare me right out of my pajama pants.

 

This photo creeps me out. But not as much as my possessed kid.

Is he speaking to dead people?  Planning our demise?  Chatting with himself about the weather?  I may never know, but I won’t lie.  I’ll be happy when he moves on to the next thing.  I can only hope it’ll involve more fun quirkiness and less demonic possession.

 

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

 

 

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The Banana Miracle

Posted by on Jun 15, 2011 | 4 comments

The Banana Miracle

I have three boys, so life in my house is a peaceful, harmonious existence.  And if you believe that, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.  Life with three boys is a curious, crazy, chaotic thing.  I have many friends with a boy or maybe two boys, and they understand how the male children are a different beast than the female children.  Three of them, though, is a whole different animal.  Three or more boys growing up together develop a herd mentality, and woe to all who cross their path.

We’re doing teamwork!

I like to call my pack of boy children Team Baskin.  They play, rest and destroy things in unison.  I am their shepherd, attempting to keep them within boundaries and in one piece.  There are the inevitable bumps and scrapes along the way, although we have thus far avoided any major injuries and trips to the hospital.  In the last month my children have sustained a trio of smashed thumbs (a group lesson in playing with doors), scraped knees and elbows, and several poked/smacked faces.

The boys have, of late, all been fascinated with eyes.  It started as a stimming exercise with Jack, touching his eyeballs and pulling randomly on his eyelashes.  No amount of explanation or threats to take him to the eye doctor made him stop, and the next thing I knew all three were poking and prodding at their eyes and eyelids.  While eating a banana the other day, Jack decided it would be a great idea to stick the stem in his eye.  I heard the screeching across the house.

We got him calmed down and realized a) his cornea wasn’t scratched, just irritated, and b) he had done it on purpose.  David told him he needed to eat the banana, not put it in his eye.  He did, and said his eye was all better.

“The banana found the entrance to the owie and made my body heal!” he squealed.  “The matassium made it better!” Whatever works, bud.

Bananas – nature’s miracle

The next night, Jack threw a block at his brother in a fit of anger, hitting him just below his lower eyelid.  He was quite repentant when I pointed out that Lennon would probably have a black eye.  Jack cried and insisted I get brother a banana, stat.  Lo and behold, Lennon’s eye was fine in the morning.

I had hoped our brushes with ocular disaster would end the eyeball fascination, but instead, the twin Banana Miracles have fueled it.  My children now eat 3 or 4 bananas (each) a day, convinced they will cure all of their scrapes and bruises.  Jack inspects everyone’s eyes, and prescribes bananas if he finds anything suspect.

I hope Team Baskin can rally and continue on in their path of destruction and discovery together. I fully expect them to have a future full of ice packs and stitches and casts and any number of owies that require more than a banana can deliver.  In the meantime, I wonder if I could get a banana tree to grow in British Columbia.

*******************

UPDATE:  Boy number four is due in a few weeks. This should be interesting.

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But I’m Not A Hero

Posted by on Jun 8, 2011 | 2 comments

But I’m Not A Hero

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about self-care, mainly, the preservation of my own sanity. The second we decided to have a third child, heck the second we decided to have our first child, I willingly signed away my mental health. I’m ok with that, I accept that mothers need at least a modicum of insanity to survive the toddler years.

(I’m assuming the same goes for the pre-teen, teen, young adult and older adult years as well, but I’m not there yet. I’m sure I’ll let you know as it happens).

Autism has, of course, added its own extra spice to my life. Any stressful situation involving keeping multiple small children alive and unharmed is that much more intense if the sensory overload beast raises its ugly head.

On top of everything, I have had a horrible spate of computer tragedies. My laptop got a nasty virus, and while I was uploading the entire contents of my hard drive to Carbonite* (an online storage service I have since built an altar to in my home), it imploded. Indeed, the drive looked more like a bad rotor from my minivan than a computer component. I moved everything to my geriatric PC… which lasted about two weeks before the motherboard blew out.

My suicidal hard drive. Or a brake rotor. I’m not exactly sure.

I’m not sure what I did to drive my computers to depression and suicide, but I hope they’re at peace now.

I have been trying to find my Happy Place to compensate. I have joined several amazing Facebook pages that bring me Zen straight to my news feed**. I am making a concerted effort to take time for listening to music, which always makes me feel human again (yes, I watched the Lady Gaga concert on HBO by myself. And yes, I sang and danced along). I’m going to find a drop-in yoga class.

But mostly, I’m going to take some time to heal myself.  I believe in the amazing powers of the human brain.  How can I not?  I have Jack, who every single day shows me how magical brain power can be.  Somewhere along the line I got caught up in the mire of my life and forgot that I have the ability to create my own happy.

The other day Jack came home from school with his usual gusto.  “I’m back! Hey everyone, I’m home!” he shouted as he charged in the door.  He rushed into my arms for a hug, and as he looked into my eyes, I remembered.  My child is happy, even though his days are a challenge.  My child finds joy in returning home, returning to me.  My child is, so often, my teacher.

“I love you, baby,” I told him.  “You’re awesome.”

“But, mama,” he said.  “I’m not a hero.”

I beg to differ.

My hero

*I am not paid to sell you Carbonite – I just love them because when BOTH of my computers crashed, my files were safe.  I also love that I can get to my files from anywhere, including my iPhone.  Carbonite has not compensated me in any way for my endorsement – although I wouldn’t say no to a discount.
 
**Please join and enjoy Connors Gift ~ Embracing Autism in This New Age, Little Bird, You Are Perfect,  and many others – find them all on the AIT Facebook page
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Special Needs Mama

Posted by on Apr 6, 2011 | 5 comments

Special Needs Mama

There was a convention in Texas not too long ago for mothers of special needs children. More than a support group, rather, encouragement for “special needs moms” to find solace and healing and strength to continue in their everyday lives.  I was shocked that I hadn’t thought of it before.

I am a mother of a special needs child.  I am not a hero, I am not special, I am just a mom.  I have two neurotypical children, and I have one child with high-functioning autism.  I often wonder which of them is more demanding of my resources.

Autism is a roller-coaster, but so is parenting in general.  My days are filled with laughter and tantrums, and sometimes the laughter is manic and the tantrums are epic.  I plan my life around my children, as all moms do.

As I looked at the website for the event, though, I took a step outside my life and saw it with a more objective eye.  What I saw exhausted me.

I have accepted the constant stress and anxiousness and hectic aspects of my everyday life as par for the course.  Who wouldn’t expect to be beaten down a little with three kids under the age of five?  Children, especially very young children, require constant care.  They are needy and want love and attention and games and Mama at all times.  It’s a tough job that is unrelenting.

What I was missing, though, is the fact that there is someone who is not being taken care of in this equation.  Me.

I don’t expect to coddled or supported, other than the emotional (and occasional housework) support I get from my husband.  I am a stay-at-home-mom (sahm), and I feel like I’m constantly having to justify that by being busy every second of every day, as if I weren’t already. I don’t want to be seen as a slacker in pajama pants, even if that’s my go-to uniform.

(They’re comfy and I’m in my own home.  If you come over, I’ll put on real pants. Promise.)

My point is, I think I need help.  Not help cleaning my house (although a little more effort from my husband wouldn’t hurt).  Not help raising my children (hubby does a bang-up job in that department).  Not help seeing my own self-worth.

I need help admitting that the day-to-day effort of raising a special needs child, in addition to two quite “normal” children, is a herculean task.  It’s hard, and I need to give myself a break before I have to take a time-out.

I have been so ensconced in making sure my children are cared for and loved and nurtured and encouraged that I forgot about me.

That’s a lie.  I didn’t forget, I just thought it would be selfish for me to think about myself.  I believe that once you have children, they come first.  Always. I have no problem taking a back seat to the needs of my children.

But to be frank, autism has worn me out.  Autism wants to fight every day.  It wants to make mealtimes and bedtimes hard.  It wants to be rigid in routine, yet throw seemingly trivial situations into complete chaos in the blink of an eye.  Autism wants to wear me down.

My child needs me to be strong and fight back.  All of my boys need me to be the calm in the eye of the storm that never really goes away.

So I’m learning to take the moments when I can.  Right now, for example, I’m sitting in my quiet house while my husband has the kids out at a playground.  I could be baking or catching up on taped shows or exercising or cleaning or any number of things on my endless to-do list, but I’m not.  It’s silent in my home.  The cacophony will resume soon enough, but in this moment I can almost feel my soul healing.  My brain is resting.  I’m recharging.

I would really like to go to one of those conventions for special needs moms someday.  Until then, I’m going to find my happy place in bits and pieces along the way.

A little bit of happy.

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