Friday, September 28, 2012

The Day My 8-Year-Old May Have Broken My Nose.

{{Otherwise known as the day I may have had a mental breakdown}}

It was time to go to school and though transitions had been tough a couple of weeks ago, we had been doing great after adding in a mandatory swing session before heading out the door.

What was different this morning?  When Corbin was done using the plasma car he left it on the front porch rather than the back yard.  As Brian was heading out the door he decided that the thing that REALLY needed to happen before heading to school was that he needed to ride that plasma car down the front steps of the porch onto the street.

Needless to say, I nipped that in the bud.  I mean, GOSH, I wouldn't want him to get a broken nose or something.

Something snapped and he ran into the house in full-on, full-throttle, crazy-tantrum mode.  He  ran to the "grand foyer" (hey, we're still excited about our fancy new home and like to use ridiculous names for all of our enormous rooms) and head-banged repeatedly on the floor.  Jumped up and ran to the living room where he proceeded to  scream and bite his wrist.  He ran around like a chicken with his head cut off screaming at the top of his lungs.  He finally laid on the carpet in the foyer in a prone position sobbing quietly.  I thought it was safe to approach him and I sat next to him and rubbed his back whispering soothing words into his ear....


He came up full-force right smack into my nose- shooting a pain up through it and through my right eyeball.  I immediately saw stars and tears came to my eyes.

Listen, not only do I have Brian, but I have worked with kids with special-needs for almost seven years now.  I've had some hits (just had a piggy-bank bounced off my noggin two days before this incident) and I'm a pro at holding it together while I enforce the rules and help the child calm down.  I don't ever cry in front of the child.  Not this time.

The tears were flowing freely as my entire skull reverberated with the pain.  I somehow managed to ask Brian through my tears (he was still crying and flailing around uncontrollably) if he needed to swing more.  I held his hand and led him to his swing where he instantly calmed down.  I turned around and sat on the stairs and just cried.

A few minutes later he was ready and I drove him and Corbin to school, still crying.  Walked him into the school with tears in my eyes as he just laughed and skipped on to the playground.

I went home and laid on the couch for two hours with an ice pack and ibuprofen.  And I cried for the entire two hours.

I tried to pull it together and went to work.  Got through two clients and I just started to feel nauseated.   There was pressure over my entire face and the pain was not subsiding.  My nose was swollen and there was bruising on either side of the bridge of my nose.

My co-workers pushed me to call my doctor who at the mention of the nausea urged me to go to the ER.

The ER was a joke with them repeatedly asking me, "So, you're here because of a headache?".

No, assholes, I'm here because I got hit in the nose six hours ago and the pain hasn't subsided.  I am gagging from nausea.  I get dizzy when I bend over.  I'm so freaking tired I can't keep my eyes open.  I tried to go to my doctor's but they were worried I have a concussion so that's why I'm here.

They examined me and came to the conclusion that I did not have a concussion though they did say it was very possible my nose was broken or at the least, fractured.  However, I'd have to wait for the swelling to go down to be sure.

They drugged me up with three different medications to help with the pain and to let me get some rest.

Before I fell into my drug-induced coma I heard Colin talking to the nurse in the hallway.

"So, I'm sorry to bug you but I don't think you explained well enough why she was nauseated?"

"We really don't know, it could be just from being in so much pain for so long."

"Yeah, I could see that.  She's had a lot on her plate lately too."

"Sometimes a good knock can release a lot of pent-up stress."

And then I cried some more.  Because it's true.  I think most of my crying that day was just a release.

Oh, and did I mention Brian was officially diagnosed with OCD this week??

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

OCD in Public

We were standing in line at the grocery store when the woman's coat in front of us accidentally swept across Brian's right cheek.

Immediately he ran over to me and pressed his right cheek against my coat.

Quickly, he turned around to press his left cheek on the woman's coat.

Knowing, exactly what he was going to do I grabbed him around the chest and tried tickling him to distract him.

Yeah right, you can't distract him when he's in the middle of an OCD routine.

His body goes completely rigid right down to his fingertips.  He immediately starts screaming and pulling from me. There is absolute panic on his face.  I, in no way, can hold him and keep him from doing a routine at this point.  He needs to do this routine to feel safe in the world.

The lady is looking down at him at this point with just a blank look, no smile, yet no menacing look either.  I quickly blurt out, "He has OCD and if he doesn't finish this routine he just won't be able to go on with his day."  (At this point you can see that I'm not even going into the autism diagnosis when such needs arise.)

I let go and he brushes his left cheek on her coat then turns to do the same to me.

Then he sighs and his body relaxes and he smiles and is back to his normal self.

The lady never said one word, she didn't smile, she just turned around and walked away.

I don't expect the whole world to let him touch them whenever the urge makes him do so.  Yet, I also don't know how to help him feel secure in this world without tapping things.

Sometimes when I describe these tapping routines that seem to balance out the world for Brian, I get looks and questions on why I'm so concerned.  It's not hurting anyone.

Not true,  it is hurting Brian.  He can't transition from room to room without adding 15 seconds to his day.  He can't transition out of the house without an extra minute.  It's not a cute little habit he's picked up.  There is pain in his face when he realizes he didn't do part of it and he has to jump out of the car and run back into the house before we can pull out of the driveway.

I can't expect everyone in the world to be tolerant of these needs, I dream for that of course, but I can't expect it.

I'm opening myself up to all possibilities on how to help get my boy over this latest hurdle.

Monday, September 24, 2012

People Like You.

As always special education was on the cutting block, but this was only my first time attending a budget meeting.  I had lined up a sitter and rushed from work so I could attend.

It was last spring, and I never shared much from it because it wasn't the final meeting and I didn't want to go into a frenzy with so many things left up in the air.

However, recent events keep bringing me back to that meeting.

In particular the one board member who kept repeating, "It costs more to send these children to out-of-district schools than it does to send my son to Tufts!  Tufts, I'm talking about Tufts!".

I'm not joking.  The pack rat that I am still has the agenda and notes from that meeting and I wrote that line down and underlined it each time she said it.

She went off to say that she didn't understand why we had to pay this much for this population of children.  The Special Education budget was ginormous and she was appalled by it.

Yet, she did not approve of changing our current district's system to better accommodate more children so that they didn't have to travel to other districts.

First of all, if I could speak to this woman in person, I would like to congratulate her for having a son at Tufts.  She is obviously very proud of this and if I was his Mom, I would be too.

Secondly, I'd like to tell her to fuck off.  

It must be nice to have the dream of Tufts and know that with hard work, preservation, and a really good recommendation letter your child will get in.  It must have been nice to know that he would get the education he needed in a public school to go on to an Ivy League college so now you can sit there and try to deny my child and others like him an education just to help them become functionally independent adults. I don't know how that feels that I can just relax and know my son's education will be taken care of to some extent.  Thanks to people like you, I have to go to meetings and hire lawyers and be a constant presence in my son's school just to make sure he's being kept safe and not being given up on.  Being given up on because you all know he won't ever go to Tufts.

It's because of people like you that my friend's team called an IEP meeting to chop off two hours of his day at his special school to BETTER MEET THE NEEDS OF THE DISTRICT.   People like you that make the district think it's okay to take away TEN HOURS a week of specialized instruction from her son.

It's because of people like you that when a school gets put on a spending freeze the first thing they do is decide to try to amend IEPs to double-up kids so they won't get the individualized care that they obviously needed in the first place or it wouldn't have been in their IEPs.

Let's screw over our most vulnerable students, who can't defend themselves, who can't go home and tell their parents what their day was like, and who probably won't ever amount to anything.  We know they won't go to Tufts.

Like I said before, fuck off.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Moments Like These

 Yesterday Brian decided he wanted a balloon animal.

We were at an event raising money for our local Humane Society when he became fascinated with the balloon artist.

The artist had several different examples of things he could make hanging from his tent.  

I asked Brian which one he would like and he promptly pointed to the green octopus and answered, "Octopus".

The balloon artist asked him what color he wanted.

He pondered for a second and answered, "Blue".

It was one of those moments that I wanted to just yell to every stranger within a twenty-foot radiance, "Did you hear what he just said??"

It wasn't necessarily the word itself as he has been able to label colors for a long time.  It was the combination of the fact that he answered a stranger without me having to intervene and that he really thought about it and didn't just say the color of the octopus that was on display.

I just don't get how everyone around us wasn't celebrating. 

And it's moments like that that you realize how much autism exemplifies those little moments.  And how much more one can appreciate the little things when autism has been such an integral part of your life.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Sibling Rivalry

I should really just consider myself lucky that with my children being 9 and 8 that this is the first time that I've had to deal with them fighting.

A lot of people ask me how the boys get along, how Corbin does with his little brother, what their relationship is like and honestly I have always had positive things to say about it.  They don't have the typical sort-of arguments.  They don't fight over toys because the only toys Brian has ever given any real love towards are trains.  They don't fight about who sits where because everything is SO routine around here that they have the same seats.  They don't fight because Brian doesn't know how to call his brother names and so Corbin follows his lead.

However, lately they have begun to fight.

Actually, I don't really know if it can be categorized as fighting.

But Corbin is becoming annoyed.

Brian has had a large increase in his OCD-like behaviors lately.  So much so that I am really leaning towards now saying Brian has Autism and OCD.  I don't even feel like his behaviors can fit under the umbrella of Autism anymore.  One of the gazillion things he is doing relating to this is tapping people.

He'll approach you and have to tap your right arm then your left arm, right arm, left arm.  He'll then turn and tap your left foot with his foot, then right foot.  If you're a lady he might tap your breasts, which is soooooo appropriate.  He'll do it to your cheeks, fingertip to fingertip, your knees, and so on.  He might do it only twice but it also might take him 12 times before he feels satisfied.

This annoys Corbin.

Corbin does not see this as part of Brian's disability.  He sees this as his little brother purposefully trying to annoy him.

So, Corbin has decided he'll run away from his brother every time his brother tries to do a tapping routine on him.

What happens when Brian is unable to follow his routines?

A variety of things at different extremes depending on the day and on the "necessity" of the routine.  He could scream bloody murder, lock his legs and fall backwards to the floor, bite his wrists, and/or cry real tears.  This will persist until he can carry out his routine.  We have not found a way to get him out of this tantrum mode until he can finish the routine.  We are hoping to get some answers soon from different specialists but for now, that's all I got.

I have tried to sit down with Corbin and tell him that we are all upset with the intensity and severity Brian's routines have become.  I try to explain that Brian can't control them.  I try to explain that if you just let him finish it out then we won't have to hear the screaming and Brian won't have to be so sad.   But I think Corbin is sick and tired of letting his brother do what he wants and he's gonna do what he wants instead.

Corbin seems to understand why Brian can't talk, why Brian needs a special diet, why Brian doesn't know how to make new friends, and why Brian only wants to play trains.  However I can not get it through his head why Brian needs to tap.  Honestly, I don't even really know for sure why Brian needs to tap.  I just know he needs to because the anxiety that comes out of that boy when he can't is so intense you can not deny that it is not a "need" for him at this point.

I hate when I don't have the answers and I hate seeing both of my boys upset over this.  I'd  rather them be fighting over toys.