Whoa. . . .

February 11, 2013

. . . it’s been a while.

We are just very busy living our lives. . .school, work, kids, family, etc.  Trying to stay sane through it all.

Hamhock is now in 3rd grade and doing great!  He is reading grade level and keeping up with his peers.  He has a best friend and gets along with most kids in his class.  He’s an awesome, great, funny, and super cute kid.

He gets speech therapy and occupational therapy once a week.  We’re still working on some sounds in speech.

He is somewhat rigid in his eating habits still. . . preferring a limited menu of items that are “acceptable.”  He won’t try new foods very often.  After Foo listened to an NPR article about zinc curbing some autistic kids food obsessions, we started giving it to him daily.  It kicked his habit of needing to munch on frozen corn every night before bed, and has significantly reduced his obsession with eating ketchup with everything.

He sometimes has intense personality conflicts with kids, and needs help navigating the intense feelings he gets as a result.

He also still needs help navigating play dates here at our house.  It seems he does better when he is at his buddy’s house, because he’s not so emotionally invested in his ‘space’ and needing to share his own toys, etc.

Superboy is also going great. . .he’s in 2nd grade, and reading grade level, making good friends, and doing well.

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Three!

September 2, 2011

Hamhock has only 17 kids in his second grade class so far.  I suspect that some more kids will be offered a spot, because I am sure there are kids on the wait-list, and the class size is approved to 23.  But for now, 17.  (Nice!)

But here’s one of the best parts for him. . . there are three African American boys in his class!!!!!!!!  Weeeeeeeeee!!!!!  And, at least a half dozen Hispanic kids too!!!!  I’m so excited to have kids with beautiful shades of skin color in his class.  So excited!  (Yes, we *are* the ones who chose to live in Sandy, UT, where it’s pretty white-bread mayonnaisey, pretty much everywhere you go.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  I just yearn for a little more color in my life).

Anywhoo. . .I stopped by the other day to take Hamhock to a doctor’s appointment, so I got to peek in and watch his class do their yoga exercises before lunch.  He and a new school buddy were partners. . .doing a rock and lizard.  They were laughing and following the teacher and learning and having a great time.  True to Hamhock form, when we were leaving, his buddy and another kid came up to give him a hug goodbye (can I just express how much I love kids before they get all pre-teen/teenager/angsty?).  Hamhock has always had a big personality, and when he’s in a situation to feel comfortable in expressing himself, other kids gravitate towards that big personality.

Then I peeked in on Superboy as his class was getting ready for lunch and he saw me and immediately gave me a big hug hello (can I just express how much I love kids before they get all pre-teen/teenager/annoyed?)!  His shoes needed tying (no, he doesn’t know how himself, yet) and he showed me the discipline chart.  He already had one warning by 11 am.  My little manchild who got my chatty-cathy genes for being too social in class when the teacher’s talking. . .poor kid (but also good, right?).

So. . . my completely neurotypical, fairly easy-going child has already been warned several times for behavior in the first week of school.  My child diagnosed with autism hasn’t had one problem at all!  In fact, when another kid pushed him at gym this week, instead of pushing back, he immediately just told the teacher.  That’s it.  Told the teacher and didn’t act out. 

Another thing about Superboy. . .this is the first time he’s been in school for seven hours straight!  Preschool and Kindergarten were 2 1/2 hours.  He and his bff have been so funny when they come home afterschool. . . so much pent-up boy energy, so that they start playing, giggling, and eating like they’ve been in a work camp for a week.  It’s pretty cute, ’cause boys are just darn cute.

Oh, and yet another thing about Superboy. . .he was upset that we weren’t going to play at McDonald’s after school on Wednesday this week, so he decided to throw down a big tantrum. He was crying and screaming and I told him to calm down in his room.

A few minutes later, after he calmed down, he came out and said: “Mom! I learned at school how to calm down! Watch!”. He proceeded to show me several different yoga poses and told me how he learned all about calming down with yoga at school.

Awesomesauce!

Whew!  First day of school!  Finally. . .the summer fighting and endless exhausting activities and lack of structure is DONE!  Now it’s momma’s time to shine and have some quiet time to myself!  Wooooeeeeee!   (Dancing a little jig of joy!)

Both boys started at a brand-new public charter school:  Alianza Academy.   There is only one class of each grade, and the first and second graders are in their own section of the building.  The Executive Director and Principal are both former Waterford teachers and administrators, and the Alianza curriculum incorporates self-directed computer programs for each student (hybrid learning).  The school currently offers through eighth grade, so we don’t have to worry about regular Middle/Junior High School for my two little budding nerds.  Yay!  They will probably have the option to stay with Alianza through High School, or we can see whether they want to choose a different High School once we get to ninth grade.

Whew.  Here’s to hoping for a great year!

Both boys did awesome last year at East Sandy Elementary.  Superboy had a blast in Kindergarten with his bestie BFF, and made a bunch of new friends as well.  Hamhock made several friends last year, and *loved* his first grade teacher.  He made incredible progress in reading, spelling & math!

The only bump in the road we had was during the last three months of school with a friend in his class.  This friend’s OCD just kinda happened to clash with Isaac’s ASD.  They started out as friends, but on a play-date here at our house (where Hamhock has a *really* hard time sharing toys/personal space/video games, etc) Hamhock got mad and punched him in the face.  I was right there, had Hamhock apologize and take a time out, and tried as best I could to smooth things over.  (The punch wasn’t strong – more like a close-fist slap, so his buddy just got a red mark with no bruising.  But still, it was scary & hurt, of course.  Hurmpf).

His buddy was obsessed about it at school and was also very understandably scared of Hamhock.  Hamhock wanted to be his friend and play and joke with him at school again, but his buddy was not interested.  That makes Hamhock obsessed about *why* his buddy isn’t interested and makes him act out even more.  Finally, Hamhock, in trying to get some kind of reaction from him during recess while playing tag, “tagged” his buddy a little too hard on the face, which left a bruise under his eye.

Of course I didn’t hear anything about it from Hamhock, so his teacher told me what happened the next day.  By that time the other mom got the principal involved, which totally freaked me out!!  The principal was really great, though, by having both boys come to his office to talk it out and agree to not play with each other for a while.  I touched base with the mom to smooth things over as well.

Unfortunately, Isaac with his ASD, and this other boy with his OCD, had no clue how to ignore each other.  The only problem during the school day was at lunchtime and lunch recess, when there is no structure or organized activity, which is just the hardest for Hamhock to figure out what to do and how to act.  So I decided to pull him out just for lunch and lunch recess for the remainder of the year.

It worked great!  By pulling him out of that time period during his school day, it helped him “reset” his obsession with the other boy and totally chill out to find other friends.  He finished the rest of the year with no problems at all, and I got some cute pictures of the last day of school.  I also had him take a hip-hop class with another good buddy, which helped a ton.

Hamhock with buddies on the last day of first grade 2010-2011:


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eric and his best buddy on the last day of Kindergarten 2010-2011:


Hee hee!

October 21, 2010

I love Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.  Really and truly I do.

Raise Money for Autism by Laughing!

Night of Too Many Stars – Comedy Central’s Yearly Autism Benefit

UPDATE:  Another study, released in March 2013, has determined that vaccines DO NOT cause autism. 

So please consult your pediatrician for your concerns, and as long as your child is not one of the very, very small minority who will be injured by vaccines, get your child vaccinated!!!!

____________

I’ve always wanted to know how other countries fare with their vaccines and autism stats.  I came across this special_report_autism2 today from Generation Rescue.

It seems pretty well documented, and I think offers some legitimate concerns as well as the obvious need for more research, research, research.  (It was published in April 2009, and the rates for autism have now increased to 1 in 100 in the United States.)

Hopefully one day we will have some definitive answers.  In the meantime, can’t we vaccinate 99% of our population to provide herd immunity to babies and the elderly, while also protecting the small percentage (1%, maybe) of children who are prone to vaccine injury because of susceptibility to auto-immune disorders, as well as neurological problems?  Why can’t we protect everybody?

Of course it raises many questions (why such a huge variance in the number of Autism rates country by country?)  I’d like to know what Norway and Denmark are doing right.  And why oh why does America’s rates spike so much higher than any other country?  We’re supposed to be the best country in the world!  I just don’t get it.

Country # of Vaccines (under 5 yrs old) Autism Rate Mortality Rates Per 1,000 children under 5 yrs old Mortality Rates Worldwide Ranking (#1 being the fewest deaths)
United States 36 1 in 150 7.8 34
Iceland 11 1 in 1,100 3.9 1
Sweden 11 1 in 862 4.0 2
Japan 11 1 in 475 4.2 4
Norway 13 1 in 2,000 4.4 5
Finland 12 1 in 719 4.7 6
France 17 1 in 613 5.2 11
Israel 11 1 in 1,000 5.7 17
Denmark 12 1 in 2,200 5.8 18

Autism Conference!

September 30, 2010

“Putting the Pieces Together”
Autism conference hosted by Spectrum Academy

November 11 – 12, 2010
9:00 am – 3:00 pm

Utah Cultural Celebration Center
1355 West 3100 South, West Valley City

Click here to register

Panic

September 14, 2010

I’m having a hard time shaking the sad today.

Pretty much every morning going to school and church Hamhock says he doesn’t want to go and resists in all sorts of creative and various ways.  We deal with it by planning the mornings as best we can to accommodate the length of time it takes to get him fed, dressed, shoes on, and locked & loaded in the car to go.  Most of the time we’re late, sometimes we’re there on time, and sometimes we skip it all together.  But usually once he is wherever we are, he is fine and gets excited by all the stimulation and has a good time (even church. . .!!!).

This morning. . . not so much.  Ugh.

He.  Did.  Not.  Want.  To.  Go.  To.  School.

He had a 3-day weekend.  Tomorrow’s a field trip.  He made a new buddy last week. Lots of fun to look forward to.

Nothing.

I suspect that Moms of kids who are not strong-willed (no matter the cause – ASD, ADD, ODD, etc) often don’t seem to comprehend why you can’t just *make* your child go.  (At least that’s what it feels like when they tell me how *they* would do such-and-such).  Well, here’s how it goes when I try that approach:

I got Hamhock fed & clothed, with backpack ready.  He climbed on top of the roof of the car and said he wouldn’t go.  Normally he’s been responding to my 1-2-3 and time-out approach, but he ignored that this morning.  I kept trying to assuage his concerns, or answer his counter-arguments, and he kept digging in his heels.

It’s at this point that I get panicky.  It’s a feeling of complete panic, that I have no idea how to “make” my child get himself to school.  None.  It’s a feeling of complete out-of-control-ness.  And I hate it.

So. . . I said that if he didn’t start scootering/walking/biking to school that I would carry him there.  So I physically pulled him from off the top of the roof, carried him down the driveway to show him I meant business.

WRONG APPROACH, MAMA!

He simply started hitting and scratching and kicking me.  Just like a toddler.  I set him down and he started bawling and tried to run away.  So I chased him down to the corner and led him back to the car.  Then I just start ordering everyone around while raising my voice.  Remember out-of-control?  Panicky?  Yeah, that’s what it sounds like.

Finally he’s in the car and we’re driving.  He tells me he doesn’t want to get a “Think Time” (a time-out) for breaking a rule.  I reassure him that his teacher likes him and hasn’t given him one at all because he’s been following the rules every day.  He got one from different first-grade teacher (from the first grade pod) the first week for laughing at some other boys goofing around in bathroom (at least that’s *his* version of the story).  He doesn’t like the teacher who gave it to him.

Aha!  He’s feeling anxiety about an unresolved issue!  (Why can’t people just tell you what they’re *really* worried about?)  Makes sense. . . we had a few incidents last year where he’d get into a fight/misunderstanding/power struggle with another kid and if I went to ask both kids to say sorry and I forgive you, Hamhock would be good & could move on.  He needed to have some closure about this.

Duh.  I didn’t think about it.  Man, parenthood is tough.

Luckily, this teacher happened to be standing right by the door when I walked Hamhock to class, and he saw me start to talk to her.  She was very nice and understanding and wants kids to learn and follow the rules, but doesn’t want kids to be scared of her.  She said she would try to talk to him to clear the air about it.

Every day so far he has been very happy to see me when I pick him up after school and says:  “Mom, I didn’t get in trouble today!”  I hope today will be no different.

I just hate when it takes me a while to figure things out, when I don’t handle power struggles better, and when I feel sad the rest of the day. . .think I’m going to go get in a run, watch some Arrested Development, and clear my head before school is out. . .

________________

UPDATE:

Hamhock came home very happy.  He said the teacher talked to him and:  “She likes me Mom!”

I thanked her the next day, and all seems to have returned to right in his cute little brain.

Whew.

It’s the anxiety, baby

September 14, 2010

Mark’s brother got married the Thursday before school started.  Totally fun, family-oriented, spiritual, fabulous day.  But the next day I woke up with the reminder that school starts that coming Monday, and all my fears and worries hit me like a Mack truck.

It’s fun living with anxiety.  Really.  Fun not to be able to focus or think or relax or enjoy.

My body breaks out in this lovely rash, too.  Nice.

So. . . .anyway. . .Hamhock met his new first grade teacher and he wore his new Mario t-shirt to the first day and it all seems good.  He greeted me with a big smile every day for the first week:  “Mom, I didn’t get into trouble today!”  So sweet, and so heartbreaking.  He gets it – gets the rules are there, there is a way to behave, a way to act, and he’s trying as hard as he can to follow it all.

I’m very proud of him.

Here’s Superboy, a week later, going to Kindergarten for the first time.  He’s super excited and super easy-going.  It makes my brain a little crazy when I seriously don’t worry about him at all.  I know he’ll be just fine.  I know he’ll make friends, follow the rules, enjoy school, learn what he needs to.  It’s very strange.

Goodbye to shorts pants

June 29, 2010

Hamhock’s autism often exhibits in rigid behaviors that he gets fixated on, and won’t give up for an extended period of time or without a huge, hours-long/days-long tantrum.

One of those behaviors has to do with clothing.

Most likely it is due to sensory issues, that he finds certain clothing more comfortable or familiar, and just doesn’t want to wear anything else.

When he was 2 1/2, he would wear a size 3T onesie that I had.  All. The. Time.  He looked so silly to others (I have no doubt), although he looked really adorable to me.


Right now he *looooooooooves* and *must* wear only his socks wherever he can.  Socks only.  No shoes.  (Except when forced to like in church or at school).  Needless to say, I go through a lot of packages as he wears them out with big holes – on a daily basis.

A few months ago he found an old pair of Superboy’s size 3T sweatpants.  Hamhock is 6 1/2, and wears size 7 pants.  He’s definitely taller than most kids his age.  Wearing a size 3T sweatpants.  Yeah – nice.

He insisted on wearing these affectionately dubbed “shorts pants” as much as he could.  I picked and chose my battles when I needed to enforce ripping them off his legs.  For example, I would let him wear them under his church pants if I didn’t have time or energy to deal with the resulting tantrum.

Finally, one day, I noticed that “shorts pants” just had waaaaaaaaay too many holes in the knees.  It was time to prepare Hamhock to say goodbye to “shorts pants.”

I prepared him for several days letting him know that we needed to say goodbye to “shorts pants.”  He had too many holes and needed to go up to Heaven to live.

Hamhock was down with it.  He decided we needed to burn “shorts pants” in the grill with another shirt and some beloved socks to have some company in Heaven, and Hamhock would see him up there one day.

So, we did it.  “Shorts pants” was ceremoniously burned, after much hugging and kissing and saying “Goodbye shorts pants, you’re a good boy.  Take care of Fiona in Heaven.”

Goodbye “shorts pants,” RIP.

It’s about cool?

June 29, 2010

Hamhock likes to wear a beanie.  It started sometime this past winter. He would most often wear it to bed, or put it on first thing on in the morning.  It looks really cute, I have to admit.

But I just thought it was a sensory thing. . .like, he likes the feeling of the fabric on his hair, or the weight of the beanie on his head, or the enclosed feeling the hat gives while shaping his cute little face.


Not so, my friends, not so.

One day he forgot it while we were getting ready to pull out of the garage.  He asked me to run back in the house to get it.  When I returned and gave it to him to put on, he asks me to pull down the passenger side mirror so he can look to make sure “it looks cool.”

WHAT?!?!?!  My six-year old son, diagnosed with autism at age 2 1/2, is wearing his beanie because “it looks cool?!?!?!”

Wow.  I honestly had no idea.

Why are we Moms always the last to figure these things out?  I’m sure it’s because we brought these precious babes into the world (in my case with the help of Hamhock’s beautiful birthmother) and we just want to hold onto those precious innocent moments.

Well, innocent moment #2 gone.  My kid likes to look cool.

(I think innocent moment #1 was kissing a girl in Kindergarten!)

Here’s a pic when he was probably about three, being silly with this same beanie (it’s actually Foo’s).