Saturday, January 23, 2016

Moving Right Along...

     Thanks to all the wonderful friends from near and far who suggested my blog to their friends.  Not only is having a blog to write a much missed and truly rewarding experience, but the thought of connecting with friends from around the globe is truly and amazing adventure - one that I can't wait to get started on.  What else could you possibly want to know about the completely uneventful (huh, some days I wish uneventful) life that I lead, bet your wondering - what are the special needs (you know you are, your just too polite to ask)?  Well let's get moving right along and I'll tell you all about them.

When did you find out your child had special needs?

     We first found out about Bug's special needs when he was 8 years old, right about the middle of first grade.  He was at a small community public school with a lovely teacher who absolutely couldn't understand his quirks.  Please don't take this as me lashing out at the poor woman, in fact, in a lot of ways, I agreed with her frustrations.
     Bug's needs became apparent in the fact that he simply could not focus.  Not for any great length of time, that is, unless it was a preferred subject that he was completely transfixed by.  We went back and forth for a few months as to whether the culprit was ADHD or Aspergers, and to be truthful, to this day, I believe it is a mixture of the two.  His official diagnosis though, is Aspergers and Anxiety.
     Belle was a bit more of a puzzle.  We'd suspected something was going on when she started having emotional outburst and screamed and cried, as if in pain, at some of the slightest sounds, like the toaster or the hair dryer.  With Belle, I learned quickly to dry my hair naturally or 3 houses away behind a locked bathroom door and her Dad would literally have to drive her around the block while I vacuumed the floors.  Still with all of these things going on we were told repeatedly that it was Anxiety Disorder NOS and that she was attention seeking.  She would have tantrums, and scream, and cry, and yell at everyone around her and then suddenly blink and act as if she didn't remember any of it and noises were the absolute worst.  We live in a small city and Belle spent the majority of her summers inside the house because she couldn't stand the sound of an ambulance siren several blocks away or the sound of a loud truck or motorcycle on the highway a block away from our house.  She showed no signs of any of this reaction to her therapists or her school teachers but whenever she was home with us the reactions were horrible.
     Finally about a year in she was officially diagnosed with Aspergers as well as Anxiety.  She truly shows more Anxiety traits that Aspergers traits at times, but the older she gets the more we're able to see both.  She undiagnosed but I also strongly suspect she suffers from sensory processing disorder and ADHD, again, just a hunch.

What was the first thing you did when you found out about your child's diagnosis?

     Bug's diagnosis was devastating to me and Belle's was just a relief. 

     Please don't take that wrong, it's not that I didn't feel angry, and bitter, and devastated by both diagnosis or that Belle being on the spectrum was something I wanted.  I think that mothers have a natural tendency to see their child's lives flash before their eyes in one fell swoop.  I never just saw Bug as my rugged little man or Belle as my Disney princess.  When your a mom and you look into your child's eyes you see more than yesterday, more than tomorrow, you see a clear view of your hopes and expectations for each child from cradle to grave.  Aspergers wasn't in my vision.  And in that same thought, Aspergers has a unique ability to cloud your vision about what your child is capable of.  I no longer saw Bug as the husband and father that I thought he'd one day be.  I worried about whether he'd have the social skills to meet a woman who would someday become his wife or if he'd even have the social skills to date a woman.  And would he have the ability to hold a job that would support a family?  And Belle, though she's always been the more socially outright of the two, didn't give me that same feeling.  Belle was born with an independence that, from the get go, let me know she didn't really need me to worry about her.  When she was diagnosed it was a relief that we finally had a name for the beast that caused her to have so many problems with sound and making friends, and expressing her feelings and emotions.

     The older the kids got the easier it was to see that Aspergers didn't define what they could or couldn't do.  They have their own hopes and dreams and passions and most days they dazzle and amaze me with their sheer tenacity to get what they want.  You'll more than likely hear more than you ever wanted to know about this from me.  Bug is striving to become a Chef (he likens himself to the famous and acclaimed Gordon Ramsay, his inspiration) and he's well on his way - proud mom moment - my boy can cook!  Belle wants to become a Veterinarian, and again - proud mom moment - she's kicking butt with that.

What's the most important thing you've learned from your special needs children?

     My special needs children are literally SO special that they teach me something everyday.  One of my biggest pet peeves is when I'm out in public and someone says "Oh, you've got two with Autism, I'm so sorry, I'll pray for you."  - lol, by all means, pray for my soul because I'm sure it needs it, but don't pray for my pain and suffering as a mom of kids on the spectrum, I don't.  I embrace the complex world that God has privileged me to live in and try to learn from it as much as I can.

     That being said, let me answer the question as it was actually intended.  I've learned from my special needs kids to never give up on my dreams (or theirs).  I've learned that when I have a desire to know something or to do something, to speak up and ask someone to help me get it.  By doing this both of my children have been afforded opportunities that I'd have only dreamed of at that age (and by the grace of God above, I've got to tag along with them).  I've learned that when you think you can't do something, it's just a matter of thinking outside the box and finding a way to do it anyhow - a different format, a different style, or a simple modification.  I've grown as a person and learned about the importance of routine, scheduling, and clutter management - and you know, my home and my life has become more simplistic and better for it, and on the other end of the coin, I've learned that if the cleaning, and the filing, and the junk piling up flies out the window for weeks or days or months, it doesn't really matter either. 

     We're far from perfect in this house.  But we're growing and we're learning and it's ok to be us.

     I hope you've enjoyed this second Q & A session.  As always, please feel free to leave a comment with any questions you'd like answered and I'll certainly work those into the next post.  Tomorrow I'd like to give you a quick look into our home school world and show you a bit of how we do it around here.  Then moving along, we can start sharing ideas.

     Until next time - Keep the pieces together.

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