Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A Bit Manic At The Grassos

Thanks for all your comments on the window and bruises. I think first steps we are going to take in regards to the window is to paint it shut. He hasn’t seemed willing to open it again since last Saturday. But never say never.

We’ve had a few hard days in a row with Demetrius. It will be good for him to get back into school, I think, so the structure of his day shores up. That will be good for him. As the camps have come to an end, he has had the free time to kind of live in his own world (Mom can only be on him for 55 minutes of every 60 minutes….) and OCD on DVDs, the TV/DVD combo upstairs in my office, and where Kim and I are now hiding the key to the office.

Which of course, we’ve found out, is why he is climing in the closets. He is trying to find where we are hiding the key.

He also seems to be tuning us out (of course, he is an eight year old boy….) and is being exceptionally stubborn and forceful with what he wants, and when he doesn’t get it – breakdowns and full fit tantrum. I can’t speak for my better half, but in ways (especially after his tumble and those bruises and his trying to climb out his bedroom window) he has me wound tight right now (Kim had to slap me around about him the other day).

And on the pity party side of life… he asked Kim to do a sleepover with him. Because he wants a friend that wants to spend the night. He doesn’t know how to make friends and when he gets nervous and shy (those personality traits of his) he goes back into that bubble of his and does TV talk. As Maya (and she is a social butterfly in every extent of the expression) is invited to more and more things, which ultimately involve sleepovers, Demetrius is left…with us. I would say that sleepovers have replaced a bit of the birthday party realization – that these are something he loves, but just won’t be a regular partaker in.

So, we discussed workarounds, we are going to have him involved more with the hiking group he loved this fall. It is expensive, but he loves it and maybe will be in a position to make a buddy or two out of this group — other boys that go his speed. And maybe we’ll meet a few parents we too can buddy up with to make his life a bit easier.

So lets see, Maya will have school, soccer and art classes…..Demetrius will have school, therapy and hiking classes….Kim’s schedule is now booked for the fall, I think.

Finally, all he really seems to love in his daily life is his DVDs (stemming, etc….) and he’s broken the DVD player downstairs (again) and I’m trying to sell the new TV we just got on CraigsList because he gets manic and just wants to stem up in the office. He’s climbing around the closets looking for the key to unlock the door of the office. He’s gonna break his neck. So I’ll sell this TV/DVD Combo and buy another without a DVD player. (If you are an Atlanta reader and are interested in a small 19 inch practically new TV/DVD Combo {HD ready}…let me know with a comment. Here is more on this particular unit.)

I had no idea the TV/DVD combo was going to do this to him. I mean, I should have known, I guess, to an extent. But for all of our daily sanity, we simply can’t have a DVD he can control at his disposal. So I feel a bit stupid about that, and I feel bad that I’m taking it away from him because he loves the TV so much, but it is so bad for him. This hurts me more than you scenario…….good parenting hurts sometimes.

But all that said, he still has just been a bit of a tool the past couple of weeks as summer has wrapped up. So has Maya, so there is an element of them just being kids getting in trouble here too (dog days of summer)…..

Posted by Jerry in 14:12:57 | Permalink | Comments Off

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Big Change Of Mood Once You Look Out The Window

Last night the kids got in some BIG trouble.  Lets just say it involves everything from lying to nakedness.  Lots of crying in their rooms with closed doors and statements about running away.

During the packing of the materials for running away, Maya looked out her window and saw this crawling across our driveway:

Maya: Daddy, there is a huge black snake in our driveway! (Tears stopped immediately…..)

I look out the window saw it too and yelled, “KIM! WHERE IS BUDDY……”

So first thing is first, “Let’s look at it from the downstairs window”, and then lets look it up on the Web.  So when one searches ‘snakes Atlanta’, the Georgia Snake Removal Web site comes up.  Thank God that the snake leisurely scooting across my concrete slab looks exactly like the picture above, and is, if stretched out, about 2.5-3 feet long.  From the Web site:

Black Rat Snake (Elaphe Obsoleta)

(Large | 3.5 – 7 feet | non-venomous (Thank God!)

Notice the black body and the white underbelly and the continual lifting high of its head. This snake is found throughout the greater Atlanta area and is non-venomous This snake feeds on rodents and birds.

Whew.

What I find so funny is Maya’s reaction of interest (we then have a talk about snakes, what you do when you see one, etc…) while Kim basically wanted to crawl out of her skin.  The neighborhood saw a string of robberies last week (everyone who leaves the car out and unlocked or their garage doors open were basically hit), but Kim’s reaction to seeing a snake?  Much stronger and worse.  She was a hoot going out into the garage last night (like it could crawl under a closed door), and I bet she drove out of the driveway to vacation bible school with the kids at about Mach 8 this morning.  Pretty much this is the kind of snake you want around to eat rats and such…but man, is it big and black.

I’m going to name him Simon our neighborhood snake that is harmless but scares the bee-jesus out of everyone who sees him.

Assuming it’s a him.  I’m not gonna get close enough to find out otherwise.

Posted by Jerry in 14:18:00 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Photos of Demetrius From Camp Happy Hearts

Looks like Mommy got some real good photos of Super D’s final act at camp:


Must be loud, Demetrius has his hands over his ears during the dance phase….(and that is a classic Demetrius dance move)


Yep, loud…


Demetrius and his good friend, Harrison Tew


Clearly channeling the Olympics from Bejing, later this summer…..

Posted by Jerry in 20:27:42 | Permalink | Comments Off

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Specificity

I’m  thinking about a conversation, albeit a brief one, I had with Demetrius this morning. 

He keeps sneaking into the office and watches movies on the new TV.  Not a big, teeth-grinding issue, except that he hid the remote (yea, not new info there either) and I couldn’t find it to change the station to a channel where one of my clients was on a news program.

Grrrrrr…..

So I took away one of his favorite DVDs on Monday and gave him a less than specific goal to achieve to get the DVD back: Don’t go in my office and turn on the TV, ask Mommy or Daddy first.

Seems okay on the surface…but not for an autie.

The following day (Tuesday) he came to me just before bedtime and told me he had stayed out of the office, and could he have the DVD back now. I told him, without thinking too much about it, “No SuperD, just doing it one day is not enough, you need to stay out of my office more than one day to get your DVD back.”  He furrowed his brow, but bought in and didn’t protest too much.

He stayed out again yesterday (Wednesday), and this morning before going to swim lessons.  But before they got in the mini-van and left for the pool, he ran up to me and said, “Can I have my DVD back.  I stayed out of your office two days.”

I wanted to say to him, ‘come on kid, two days is not long enough for not doing what you were told to do, at least 18 times, and hiding the remote’ but between a thought emerging in my wee-little-brain and Kim’s ‘sad’ look she was giving on behalf of the boy, I gave it back to him.  But here was my thought – when he was reiterating exactly what I had said, I came to realize that he was doing what an autie does, take what I said, literally.

I never told him initially, “You have to stay out of the office, say, for at least 7 days before you get your DVD back, Demetrius.”  I just told him he had to stay out of the office and you’ll get the disc back.  Well, he did that, twice.  He was beginning to OCD about it, because if he’s begging me for it at 7:30am, and in his mind he’s done what he had to…..well, that’s a Jerry bad for not being more specific.

Since I am fairly certain that now he’s got the disc back….that means we’ll run into a similar scenario soon, I’ll have ample opportunity to be more specific in next DVD hiding/removal.

Just a summer reminder as our kids start to get into more trouble with all their free time…auties need specific punishment requirements. ☺

Posted by Jerry in 16:52:15 | Permalink | Comments (1) »

Friday, May 23, 2008

Another Year

Kindergarten and first grade are gone…and the days of summer are here. They were both so awesome this year that they got iPod Shuffles for a great 07/08.  One friend asked me what did I get when I was a kid for graduating each grade?

I thought for a moment….

Jerry: I got grounded.

Lets just say I tended to blow off the last grading period of the year as a kid.  I deserved a few weeks of R&R spent in trouble.

Glad I don’t have that with these two….

Yet.

Posted by Jerry in 20:46:02 | Permalink | Comments (1) »

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Ebb and Flow

Ebb and flow.

If there is an expression, or exasperation statement, that captures parenting a child on the autistic spectrum, this is it.

Especially one high on the spectrum, or should I write, one high enough on the spectrum that you forget at times that he is actually autistic…and when reality hits, admit he is a bit disabled.

We should see things spiraling a bit and be prepared for them. Throw on the steely armor. I mean, the structure of his day is breaking down as the end of the school year approaches, the teachers are doing less teaching and the end of the school year is what it has always been – managing the chaos of single digit aged humans getting excited for the beach, grandma’s house, Disney World, or some aunt or uncle’s lake house. Whatever it may be…the thoughts of all are ‘there’ and not ‘here’, on structured classes with routine.

For an autistic kid this is just begging for trouble.

We are fighting about TV a lot right now – in the past week I’ve taken almost ten of his favorite movies away because he can’t stop trying to play them in the new TV (this was expected) and constantly throwing fits to watch more TV. We are belt tightening here, and we are always ready for this battle with this kid, and we always will be, I suspect.

But the realization part comes more into play with swim lessons. Kim is struggling with his lack of involvement (is he just not interested? Have his meds run their course and he’s not on his A game by 4pm?) but is hopeful that once school is finally out (and she can get him on his ‘summer’ schedule) and swim lessons flip to morning practices he’ll be more engaged and interested.

She tells me that while she is watching Maya, a mother calls to her and points to Demetrius and he’s climbing on the outside of a jungle gym by the pool, standing on the outside railing of the tallest slide in the area…a good 20 foot drop if he falls. He has no fear and now Kim has enough for the both of them. She coaxes him down, she ‘sternly talks about things’ with him quietly when he is finally down and he reluctantly gets back into the pool…

But as soon as she turns her head toward Maya again she is pulled back to Demetrius by another Mom – he now is swimming with his shorts off, stark naked. While it does solicit a chuckle from you reading this – it doesn’t with Kim, because this is the umpteenth time he’s taken off his skivvies while at swim lessons. And while it was ‘cuter’ when he was 4, it is less so now that he’s 8…and not every mom there recognizes ‘this is just D’ and some are less understanding the older he gets.

Maya asked Mommy if she watched. So Mommy lies.

I get home and Demetrius has been banished to his room. Kim’s exhausted and you can see the ‘autism lines’ back on her face – they come when she’s furrowing her brow worrying about the boy and everything going on, frustration from his actions and that reality pushing front and center, and pursed lips from a clenched jaw. She’s not talking and Maya is eating her dinner, talking to a mommy half paying attention.

I go up and talk to Demetrius, who is trying to get past my passwords on the new TV in the office instead of chilling out in his room. We go to his room, we have a talk. Not a ‘father knows best’ talk, a serious ‘you are driving your mother ape shit with this Demetrius’ talk. He tells me he’ll ‘try’ at swim lessons…but even if he believes it, I know that it is what it is…and this has nothing to do with trying or not trying. It has to do with being autistic. I believe he will try, until he’s over stimulated and his tipping point is crossed.

I go downstairs and pay attention to Maya, who needs someone to talk to. I listen. Amazing how much she can tell me in about five minutes. While he’s spinning a touch out of control in the melee of the end of the school year, she’s reveling in it and being reminded on a daily basis that she’s a first grader-in-waiting and there are only ‘3 days’ left until she’s no longer a kindergartner.

And like so many nights since autism creeped into our lives, Kim is worn out and sacks out in bed with Demetrius, lying next to him so he’ll go to sleep (yes, I cuddled Maya until she passed out, so she got her snuggles too), I am alone to think too much.

Thoughts about this are top-of-mind as I flip open my laptop and click on the Lakers/Spurs 1st Quarter, “Ebb and flow. Just a couple of weeks and we’ll be in a new routine and he’ll start to flow again.” “He can’t be taking his shorts off, it is just socially wrong at eight years old. Where is this coming from all of a sudden?” “What if he fell?”

I kind of smile thinking that now I realize I’m saying to myself it will just be a week or two and he’ll back in the flow…instead of a therapist or expert telling us we’ll start to see results in 3-6 months. Just a week or two – I believe…I hope.

Belief can become less of a sure thing when the house is quiet and it is just you and your thoughts worrying about your 8 year autisic kid…swimming naked.

Ebb and flow.

Posted by Jerry in 21:03:17 | Permalink | Comments (2)