Monthly Archives: January 2011

Sins of the Mothers….

I love that no matter how late or dark it's supposed to be outside, the snow illuminates everything.

Never drink a cup of coffee after brushing your teeth.  Don’t know why I’ve made coffee instead of tea, which is what I set out to do in the first place.  Ever set out to do something specific, then the next thing you know, you’re sitting “somewhere” and thinking nothing in particular and 2 hours have gone by?  This is how it is for me, day after day, ever since I could remember.

After my last post about Gabe and Autism, I had intended on posting links and documenting the progress of his treatment.  While I still want to do that, I realize I must first go back, before Gabriel.  I’m anal with a lot of stuff and so it goes with this:  I must do this chronologically…. for some reason.  BTW, I do not like minty tasting coffee with a tad taste of baking soda (Arm and Hammer toothpaste).  I’m stuck, plain and simple.  Can you tell?

The DH and I have been talking about how we think we have had/still have? Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  For myself, I’m convinced.  They say that when adults test themselves for ASD, their answers should come from their childhood because so many adults on the spectrum learn how to adapt during the course of their lives to survive and interact effectively with our fellow human beings.  While what I’m going to say pertains to my childhood, most of it lingers and still interferes with my life.

There are many tests out there and this is the one I took just now before writing this post.  Quoting the article in regards to scoring,

“Psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen and his colleagues at Cambridge’s Autism Research Centre have created the Autism-Spectrum Quotient, or AQ, as a measure of the extent of autistic traits in adults. In the first major trial using the test, the average score in the control group was 16.4. Eighty percent of those diagnosed with autism or a related disorder scored 32 or higher. The test is not a means for making a diagnosis, however, and many who score above 32 and even meet the diagnostic criteria for mild autism or Asperger’s report no difficulty functioning in their everyday lives.”

This is my score:

Agree: 4,5,6,12,13,20,23,26,33,35,39,45,46: 1 point
Disagree: 1,11,15,17,24,27,28,30,31,36,38,40,44,47,48,50: 1 point
Score: 29

While this particular test indicates that I’m not autistic, the criteria for judging that is varied and sort of like a multiple choice question.  There is a list of behaviors and you need to exhibit a grouping of, say, six of them to be diagnosed with ASD.  Maybe I do not quite fulfill those requirements, but those symptoms I do have, can be debilitating.  Most times I cannot focus on what I need to do, so forget about goals, even easy ones.  Sometimes I can be really, really focused on what I’m doing though.  Like when I painted or sculpted in my teenaged years, to the exclusion of everyone and everything else around me.  There was a peace that came along with that.  That is a good thing.  I love that feeling and every day when I was a kid, I’d strive to get back there, to my happy place.  The problem was that I chose to stay there, hated to leave there, and spent every free moment seeking to return.  Frequently, my family would catch me just sitting, staring off into space.  What the heck was I thinking about?  I could not tell you now, or then.

When I worked in the fine arts, I was definitely in my own little world.  I could focus intently on the details and the medium I was working with.  I became one with the universal energy and tapped into that merging to create.   There is no other feeling like it.  Believe it or not, I find it difficult to meditate.  You would think not given my penchant for dwelling in my happy place, but I do.  I cannot quiet down my mind long enough, with intention, to accomplish that, though I’ve tried and tried and tried.

So many thoughts in my head intrude during conversations as well as the quiet times.  I am notorious for interrupting the conversations I’m involved with.  I cannot effectively organize my thoughts and place them in a queue during a convo.  As a result, I am always breaking in with my own thoughts and giving the impression that I’m not listening to my convo partner.  I do listen, believe me, I do; but because I frequently forget what I want to say (because it takes me so long to judge when and where in a conversation to interject my thought), and constantly blurt out my own thoughts.  I am getting better, though, at remembering to verbally repeat back points of the convo to make my partner feel included in the conversation.  This “skill” was learned during Quality Customer Service training when I worked at Labcorp.  All this is giving me the chuckles because I am a person who now thrives on communication.  Very important to me in anything that I do.  From participating in freecycle, to personal relationships, to simply passing along information I think is helpful or interesting.

I also frequently repeat sentences over and over in conversations.  Not sure if this is ASD related, though it could be, because I know the reason why I do it.  I frequently have the feeling that I should say more, want to say more; but don’t actually have more to say, so I find myself repeating previously voiced remarks, word for word.   This could be that I simply refuse to give up the floor because it’s so hard for me to get control of it.

I am facing it.  There is really so much more I could say about myself and my childhood, but I feel that I am done for now.  I was a pretty screwed up kid but I want to keep this positive.  Knowing myself, understanding myself, places me in a better position to help my son (and I) navigate his treatment. It enables me to have a better understanding of what he’s going through.  He will have the benefit of knowing that he is not alone and that I understand, personally, what someone is experiencing… if even just a little bit, when he feels, inevitably so, that others do not.

Still snowing 40 minutes or so after snapping this picture.

It’s so quiet now and I am loving it!  The sheer volume of the snow outside snuffs out any extra distant sound that might creep in.  I love that no matter how late or dark it’s supposed to be outside, the snow illuminates everything.  Of course the down side is that I’m freezing… but lots of hand knits around to warm me up.  Unfortunately, my finger tips need to be exposed whilst I type.

A New Beginning….

I’ve been meaning to post for the longest time, so now here I am.  I am always trying to be witty and write about things that are interesting.  Well, that strategy bombed.  I guess my kind of blogging needs to be inspired and will aspire to be informative; and most important of all, be positive, though that doesn’t always prevail… hee hee.  SO.

Recent events have me overwhelmed, confused and muddled.  So I return to my keyboard in an effort to try to sort through it all.  I am inspired, but really need to get disciplined if I want to get to my goals… the goals that are starting to take shape in my mind.  So many things have been going on, but right now, for this post, I will blot all of them out except one.

On December 20, 2010, my son, Gabriel, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.  That’s quite a mouthful for my mouth and my brain.  So much has changed from one moment to another.  I am suddenly confronted with life changing news (for a lack of a better word).  Now, I feel, I must truly live up to my moniker, “the DragonMommie”… mother bear, demon advocate.  I think that the most scariest thing is that now I need to be a proactive, very assertive, if not pushy advocate for my son who has special needs.

My whole life has been spent in the background, going along with others’ decisions.  Now, I need to step to the forefront and be the one making those decisions.  I’m seriously not sure I can do this.  BIG sigh.  I. am. so. scared….. for now.  When I read that over, I realize that I’ve always been right there to look out for Gabe and make sure that he’s cared for and safe, so where is the big difference between then and now?  The difference is that now I need to get an education and get it quick.  I need to become an expert in a whole new area with its own language, rules and laws.  I need to become an expert in researching all this new material and organize it in my head and on my laptop (no small task).  I need to learn the unspoken cues.  I need to learn the right words to use to be politically correct.  I want to be active, informed and I want to use my talents to benefit these kids.

What do I know right now?  I know that my son is not any different today than he was a month ago, two weeks ago, two days ago… yesterday.  He is still the same amazing, loving, affectionate, smart, funny little boy.  What we have now is additional information.  We can now give a name to the reason why he acts a little quirky sometimes.  He is growing and my husband and I are growing also.  We are growing as people and as parents every single day.  This was true before, but we are now getting a higher education in love and understanding.  We’re far from perfect parents, but I feel that with this added understanding will come not just tolerance, but acceptance for what we cannot change.  A determination to provide the highest quality of life that we can for our son.  I can say already that miraculously I have a lot more patience with undesirable behavior I previously perceived as being defiance.  As a mother, I am determined to learn as much as I can about what is really behind this behavior and how I can teach my son what is appropriate behavior and what is not.

What I know right now is that this condition, disorder, disease… whatever you want to call it, I realize can be such a blessing.  First and foremost, our son is a miraculous gift from God and there is meaning in everything He does.  We are now officially out of the realm of being a “typical” family.  So much can be missed when living a life, day after day, in the mainstream.  We are now blessed with a life where we are forced by these circumstances to a heightened sensitivity to what is going on with our child.  We are looking at every aspect of his life, with new eyes, eyes with a purpose.  We are enjoying the little things.  In an effort to gain understanding, we talk to him trying to see what makes for good social conversation.  We make sure we include him, age appropriately, in some decisions.  We give him choices.  Well, I know that a lot of parents out there are doing the same thing and I am not trying to be critical, but it’s so easy to just take over completely and dictate every single aspect of a child’s life.  My parents definitely did that and it was no fun and I came out of it with little to no self esteem or confidence.  It’s so important for a child to feel at least some control over his life, his body, etc. and it’s up to us, the parents, to allow that to happen… even if it’s just a choice between broccoli and string beans… an age appropriate choice.

I feel good.  I think I’ve been somewhat successful with this post.  I did not want to make it fancy with links and pictures.  I wanted to focus solely on my thoughts.   I’m sure future posts will have pictures and links because, well, that is my thing.  Next post will include some links and info.

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