Thursday, January 27, 2011

Working moms and snow days

WOW, it's been over a month since my last post.  I know it's been crazy around my house but until just now I didn't realize how the time has just flown by!!

I don't know about the rest of you out there but here in New England we have had one heck of a winter already and I heard this morning we have 52 days of winter to go!! My children have not had a full week of school since prior to Christmas vacation and at this rate I have not had a full week in the office since then either.

I have realized something about myself this year as I've been home more often than usual, I need my work. I not only need my work it what gives me peace of mind and enables me to feel valued as an individual, not just a mom, wife, daughter, sister etc. but as ME. I love my children, I love my family and I love the support I am able to provide them each and everyday. What I do know is that when I am not going into the office I am a horrible person to be around.

Just this morning I snapped, I am, once again, working from home due to another snow storm that has come through our lovely region. And once again, all three of my children are home with me. In fairness, today is not a normal "work at home" day. Today is the end of a 3 week battle of snow, illness (me, kids and our dog) as well as the day that my husband (my support system) leaves for 10 DAYS for the first time ever. So, I SNAPPED.. I said hurtful things to my children and even filled a trash bag with toys. I regret this. Mostly I also regret trying to be someone I'm not. I should have gone to work today and brought my youngest to daycare and had my 17 year old watch Austin.  Instead, I am trying to do it all. I guess it's time I recognize what makes me tick and what gives me peace of mind to balance each and everyday.

I wonder how many of you out there have these moments? What do you do to ensure you have peace and balance in your hectic lives? I do think there is some sadness to the fact that my peace of mind comes from working and feel I should look at finding other more socially acceptable healthy ways to give myself balance (WOW.. if that wasn't therapy talk I don't know what is).

I should be celebrating this time I have with my children.. my son is now on a 504 plan with school, my daughter is graduating from H.S. this year and is on her way to becoming a fabulous teacher in the future and my little one has recently started getting himself dress everyday. Each of my children is a gift in my life. Maybe someday I can learn to take a moment and accept that I am not just who I am at my job. I am a successful mom with a fabulously challenging and enlightening family, I am a caring and giving individual with a lot to offer those around me and I am not defined by who I am in my career.

Today I am going to commit to taking 2011 to figure out myself and what I need in life. I truly feel that this will, in the end, benefit not just me but my family as a whole. What are you going to focus on this year?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The perfect gift...

I have to be honest I have not had a minute to write these last few weeks. We've had a whirl wind of activities, illnesses and all around craziness!! Why not, it is the Holiday's after all the one time of year I wish we could kick back and relax and enjoy each other, instead it always seems to be the time of year for complete chaos.

While I am completely on top of my shopping and my wrapping for the first time in FOREVER, I am still struggling with getting Austin the the one thing I wish I could give him, the perfectly balanced life experiences.

The perfect gift this Christmas would be nothing more than the ability to provide my son with an environment that met every single one of his needs. I recognize we're a long long way off from this. as a matter of fact, this week we have moved into a Disposable Clothing stage in our house. YEP --- disposable clothing you read that correctly! We are in oral over load and every day our shirt is torn to shreds from the stimulation we need. While the OT from school did call the other day and stated she was not waiting for the formal IEP process and that Austin needed help and that they wanted him to start chewing gum in school it still is not the solution. Austin is still tearing through shirt collars everyday.

On top of chewing his clothes we can't seem to find that one winter jacket that doesn't hurt, tickle, constrict etc. We are continuing to wear two layers of fleece jackets and a hat to try to keep warm. Tonight, I'll trek out again to return the two jackets I've tried this week and hunt for yet another style. If anyone has any suggestion for winter coats for SPD kids I'd love to hear them!

So, this Christmas I am going to try to settle for what I can and to try to provide my children with the best Christmas I can provide given our special family circumstances. YEP -- I'm going to shower them with material gifts, if they asked for it they are getting it!! Hopefully, for a few hours on Christmas morning we will enjoy the surprises and just being a family. This year, in particular, I am going to cherish the fact that my sister will be joining us for our fesitivities.

Happy Holidays to everyone, I hope you receive those special gifts of the season that bring our families together and allow us to appreciate what we have.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Figuring it all out this time of year

I just read an update from a good friend of mine, Bree, she wrote about traditions and being accepting of change, this really got me thinking, especially this holiday season.

Thanksgiving week has always been crazy for us. My dad comes up from Kentucky every year to visit, the one and only time we get to see him every year. My daughter celebrates another wonderful year of life and we get to celebrate the start of the Holiday season with family.  Until this year we have balanced a very hectic week of visits with our life.

After reading my girlfriends update on her blog I realized that I continue to try to fit my special family into a "normal" tradition and I'm starting to ask myself "Why?". Why do we expect our children to be "normal" at the Holidays? Why do we feel the need to ensure we spend as much time this week with every family member we can vs. the rare occassions we visit throughout the remainder of the year?

I know the Holidays are about family and being thankful for what we have. So as I sit in my living room while everyone sleeps I think about "MY" family. We are not a "normal" family, we are a special family. A family of unique and extraordinary children. We need to start being thankful for the uniqueness we are. We need to stop expecting that our children will fit into a Norma Rockwell scene where everyone is smiling and enjoying the choas we all call the Holiday Season.

Starting now, I'm going to make an effort to ensure that my children have Holiday memories that are as special as they are. I'm not sure how I'm going to accomplish this and balance my desire to enjoy this time of year with my extended family and I'm sure adjusting to a new set of traditions will not come easily or without meltdowns. I do know, however, that I can't continue to try to fit myself and my family into a Norman Rockwell New England setting, it's just not fair to any of us. Even if my children were able to make it through the season without meltdowns and shear exhaustion, the anxiety and worries I carry with me can not be healthy for my children to witness.

So, here's to figuring it all out. To balancing celebration of Family both immediate and extended while maintaining some level of normal. Here's to letting go of the guilt of being the perfect mom, wife, daughter, sister, aunt etc. that I carry with me each and everyday during the Holidays. Here's to being exactly who I want to be, a Mom who can relax, sit back and be Thankful for what we do have.

We have a wonderful family that works in our crazy little world. Yes, we work. No matter how crazy and disfunctional my life my look to the outside looking in, it is my life and I love every minute of it, and for this I am truly grateful.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Time out is not just for toddlers any more!

I recognize that in most houses time out is a useful and effective tool for diffusing a situation. I also recognize that asking my SPD kids to go to time out in the middle of or at the start of a meltdown is the equivalent of expecting to hit Powerball every time you by a ticket! You know, for most of us we may hit a $3 winner but in our lifetimes the chances of every seeing the big payoff are pretty much non-existent.

Let me tell you, Time out, while not effective for my children in our world is effective for, hang onto your seats folks, ME!! Yes, that's right, Mommy LOVES time out!!!

You know those moments when your child has hit the motherload of all meltdowns? The physical challenges of protecting yourself, your family and your child from his powerful anger? The emotionally draining moments when you know that if this continues for even one more minute you will fall into a heap of emotional garbage right in the middle of the kitchen floor? I know these moments all too well! Since leaving Preschool this past June these moments are frequent!

I have found the moment where I can find peace and my kids can learn that Mommy can't handle it all. Yes, you read that right, I CAN NOT HANDLE IT ALL!!! I know, to actually admit it? What's wrong with me? I'm super mom right??? Full time job, managing meltdowns, negotiating lego allotment (which we're currently doing at the kitchen table as I type this) and I do reach my limits.

In this moment, the moment where I want to walk right out my door and hope someone else will step in, a SPD fairy godmother of sorts, to save me from this madness I'm living in, I have found peace in TIME OUT.

Ironically, in these moments where I warn my frustrated child that I have no patience left in me only then to say "I'm done, Mommy is going in TIME OUT" I have found that place where nothing can hurt me or bother me. I walk away from the chaos, close (and lock, this is a very critical point to make here) my bedroom door and lay on my bed. I don't say a word. I don't respond to anything. I don't turn the t.v. on. I don't read a book. I just lay there, looking up at the ceiling and yes folks, I smile. I smile because I have found my peaceful place in the midst of complete chaos.

Don't get my wrong, I felt guilty the first time I did this. What horrible parent could walk away from their child in an uncontrollable time of need? Do I feel guilty any more? NO... You see, about 2 minutes after moving into a peaceful space I heard my children crying. This wasn't an angry cry, rather a sad cry. They wanted me, better yet THEY RECOGNIZED THEY NEEDED ME!!! What an amazing feeling. It's enough of a break, usually 3 minutes of time that feels like an hour, for my children to "snap" out of whatever meltdown they have entered into and recognize that I am not there to fix it.

Once I've felt that I've spent enough time visiting the peaceful land of TIME OUT I open my door, walk down the hallway and sit down. Eventually my boys calm down and we talk about how it's ok that Mommy went to time out and that sometimes, yes sometimes, Mommy's need a break and time away just as much as little boys.

I dare each of you to try this someday... and I hope that just maybe you will find the peaceful place for just a few minutes that I have discovered..

On that note, Lego meltdown has begun and we are now entering Mach 5!!! good night

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The power of the Wii

A few years ago, right after Austin was diagnosed with SPD, we decided to purchase a Wii. I'm sitting in my living room this evening watching Austin play. This is a nightly event in our house.

What I've learned is that video games are not as horrible as I've heard. Quite the contrary, the Wii and the physical aspects of it are actually theraputic. I know I've seen an article or two on OT's that have incorporated Wii therapy for Sensory kids but I guess until recently I didn't really believe it.

Wii gives Austin the hard movement needed to remain calm. He doesn't argue with us when he's engaged in a game, regardless if it's battling Aliens in Ben 10 or dancing to "Who let the dogs out" playing "Just Dance" (which he happens to be playing as I type this). I think playing the Wii also allows his brain to be challenged as well. In a game like "Ben 10" he has to think strategically in order to defeat aliens and progress to future levels.

In addition to the "thinking" learning he's getting he's starting to apply reading as well. As he finished dancing to "Who let the dogs out" he had to know what to do next, he asked me which selection he needed to choose, I replied "the one that starts with the letter "N" (the word Next).

Austin plays Wii for about 1 hour every night during the week and if we're home on the weekends he'll play for as long as I'll let him. Weekdays not only is he calmer at night bedtime is almost a "non-event"!! Now, if we could just figure out what would help Cooper go to bed life would be beautiful in our crazy household!

I LOVE THE WII!  The trampoline now sits in the basement as does the kids "eliptical" machine we had for him to work his muscles and it has been replaced by.. yes I will admit it... a video game system!!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

The results are in....

I have to be honest and let you all know that I am not really in the mood to be eloquent and ensure what I'm writing makes sense to all that read. I am tired, very tired. It's been a long month and a very long evening.

After an agonizing month long wait I finally met with the Psychologist to get the answers I've been searching for regarding Austin's behaviors. I wasn't really sure to what to expect, however, I can share that I told my mom tonight that my biggest fear was that they were going to tell me that I have a very intelligent son that has learned how to "play" us.. nothing more than that. HA... would that have been nice to hear now that I have answers!!!

Not sure where to start here, so I'm going to brain dump...

1. IQ test -- for those that are not aware Austin had an IQ test done last Spring when we were considering a private school for gifted children that our daughter attended. Bottom line, that test revealed Austin had a well above average IQ -- 138 to be exact!  The psychologist did a more comprehensive test this time around. He is still above average, however, this test revealed a greater than 20 pt gap between Austin's Performance and Verbal IQ's ==== Performance = 123, Verbal = 101 ====  large gaps -- not ok :)

2. Aspergers? NO --- it was not found that Austin has Aspergers. While the information I provided did appear to lean towards Aspergers, the teacher comments and Austin himself did not present any signs of Aspergers == PHEW for now, I was also told that there have been instances where at 5 a child did not present with Aspergers, however, was later found to have it. For now, we'll go with NOT ASPERGERS, mostly for my sanity

3. So, if not Aspergers, what is it? Better yet, I think the question is What "ISN'T" it? The "official" diagnosis is as follows :   ADHD not otherwised specified, OCD not otherwise specified and Anxiety Disorder not otherwised specified.  Basically it could be one or all of these diagnosis. Since Austin is only 5 years old, and although very intelligent, he did not allow the relationship with the psychologist for her to really understand what's going on in his very active litle brain.

Next Steps:

1. Sleep, think, think, think....

2. Write letter to school requesting an IEP evaluation that includes OT and PT evals (Psychologist recommended another SPD screening as Austin's been released from OT since May of 09 and coping skills are slipping again and interfering in his school work)

3. Call pediatricians office to schedule meeting with Psychiatrist to discuss potential medication for the list of "not otherwise specified" disorders listed above

4. Call office Austin was evaluated at to see about getting him into see a therapist on an ongoing basis, maybe we can move to removing a "not otherwise specified" label from one of many areas of concern

5. Sleep, think, think, think ... hug my son and remember how much he continues to teach me.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A week of firsts....

Our First Parent/Teacher Conference for Austin this week and Austin's FIRST Sleepover at a friends house!

Let's see, the parent teach conference did not exactly go as I expected. While there was mention of "fidgety", "anxious" and "frustrated" they were always followed by "but, I have a class full of children like this and they are only five years old".

I guess my optimism of having a supportive teacher our first year in public school when I met her this summer was naive. During our first meeting she mentioned things like " I know exactly what you're going through...", "I have a daughter with SPD....", "Let me know about the testing and we'll get moving on an IEP as soon as we know something.."...

Well... now we're in a "Austin's a typical kindergartener" type of conversation. HE IS NOT TYPICAL!  HE HAS SPD! I manuvered my way through the 20 minute conversation with a lot of "Yes, but..." and "we'll see what the testing says" and walked away from the school with more drive and determination to get some answers and fight for my son.

THE SLEEPOVER!! WOW, I think I was more worried than Austin was yesterday (Ok, if you ask my husband or my mother they'll tell you I was to worried!) . I rushed home to make sure that I could remind him of the importance of manners and letting his friend make the decisions on what to play etc. He must have gotten the message from the multiple conversations we had 2 days before because before he left he said, "Mommy, I'm not going to chew my clothes and I'm not going to do anything that should be done in private as Mathew's house". Guess what! He didn't do either of those things! He made it through with manners and no meltdowns!! This morning, well, that's another story... I made the mistake of taking him shopping at Walmart with me and spent most of the trip through the busy store reminding him to stay with me and why he couldn't purchase most of the toy department before we left. 

I can live with some chaos and frustration today and maybe even tomorrow, last night my son was "Normal" he was not labeled as SPD he was just a good friend that had a great time!

By the way folks, another first for me I've joined the SPD Bloggers Network. Check it out! Just click on the icon on my blog page and read through other's stories about SPD. There are so many folks out there going through what we are. I've enjoyed reading quite a few of these already and look forward to reading more.