Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Open Ears, Open Hearts

We must all support each other, with listening ears, with our time, with encouragement.  I just read the blog over at Momastery and it brought me to tears.  Now, if you go read it today you may think I am nutty and  not cry at all, but it touched me deeply.  I had a very emotional day yesterday as my daughter had her medical evaluation and so maybe that is why, but the thing I heard from Glennon's blog most loud was LISTENING.  Listening is something that we don't do enough of.  Especially if it's something we don't agree with.  We are so quick to tune out or talk over the thing we don't want to hear.  We must listen though, it's how we grow, and how we show respect to our fellow humans.

Listening was huge for me two days ago.  My daughter was about to have her official evaluation that would give access to services that can help her and get them covered by insurance. (Her pediatrician and a psychologist had agreed with me but it wasn't official yet).   I have heard that this process can sometimes turn into a mess if the child is having a "good day" and acts "normal."  The evaluation appointment took months to get, is very expensive, (thankfully our insurance covered it) and lasts an entire day long.  (The results were that I am not crazy and it is indeed Aspergers/Autism Spectrum Disorder)

I was anxious and I needed someone to listen.  I prayed, and that did help.  I quoted bible verses in my head anytime a little voice came in that said "you are crazy and wrong."  but I also needed human interaction and someone who had been through it before to hear me and encourage me.  I am lucky to be part of an online yahoo group.  I sent out an email on my worries and situation and then listened (well, ok read) but they also encouraged and really helped me feel less alone, and less crazy.

If you are from that group and reading this, especially if you responded I want to say Thank you!!!
We need listeners in our life! We also need to be listeners and I hope that I don't turn away when someone is needing me to listen.  Everyone is going through something and we shouldn't have to go it alone.  I have my Jesus, but even he had his disciples around him.   We were meant to support each other with love and open ears.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Party like an Aspie

     A child going to a wedding is an instant target for being patted on the head and asked lots of small talk questions.  Generally, aside from the pat on the head I think most children like attention from adults.  However small talk and my daughter, not so much.  We were going to see lots of family that we hadn't seen in several years.  My daughter is nine now and I knew that she would be expected to make small talk.  She has been practicing conversation in her social skills group and I had no doubt that she could pull it off.  I also knew that for her, it was going to totally drain her of energy. 

   The wedding consisted of lots of pre-wedding festivities and post-wedding festivities.  My extroverted, neurotypical self was drained and exhuasted be the end of it.  However, I am getting ahead of myself. 
I am writing this for myself as a reflection, but also for others who might fear talking their aspie child to such huge events.   I believe we want to share our children with the family that we love, but we also want to protect them from being overwhelmed and drained, or having a meltdown and embarrassing us..  I have had events in the past where I believe my daughter suffered due to my lack of understanding of what she is going through.  Now that she is older and able to verbalize, and now that I have read books on Aspergers I have a better understanding of the struggles she has in these situations and so my hope was to give her just enough of the experience to gain some social skills but not so much that she overloaded.   I'm not sure if I was totally sucessful but I tried. 

   The first thing I did was explain what would be expected of her, and of my son.  I knew that the ceremony would be fairly easy for her as she has no trouble sitting and listening.  For my son, the sensory seeker we went over his list of compression activities that he could do and much to my delight he did them on his own, silently during the ceremony (I also bribed him with chocolate.) I am thankful it wasn't a Catholic wedding with a Mass!  It was nice and short and lovely. 

During the many parties and reception we stayed outside, despite the Texas heat.  The world isn't as overwhelming for my daughter outdoors.  She lasted much longer than she would have inside with voices echoing loudly off the walls and people bumping into her on every side.  We did however give her and my son a mission to have a short conversation with three people of their choosing before going off to play. 
After a good amount of time playing outside I could see the overloaded look in my daughters eyes.  This happend at two of the parties.  In both I searched out an empty room and quickly snuck her off to it.  Even being around me at that point is overwhelming and so she choose to be alone in the peaceful room.  One of the times she had a coloring book, the other just a pillow. 

   I think a couple years ago I would have felt too awkward sneaking my child off into a deserted room.  I would have left the party early, or dealt with a meltdown.  I have learned that I need to take care of my needs, and those of the rest of my family as well.  I wanted to stay at the party, and she needed space.  Although it's a bit unconventional it really was the best option.  It is what my child needed.  If I had a infant and asked for a silent place for my baby to nap nobody would have thought twice.  I had a few people ask where my daughter had went, and when I told them I got a couple looks of confusion, and a couple looks that seemed like that person would also like to escape from the loud chatter. 

We need to not be afraid to protect our children, but we also need to not be afraid to expose our children to things that are difficult for them.  Finding a balance is what they will need to do when they become adults, if we can give them a taste of that now it will be easier when it's their turn to lead. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Epic Summer Journey

I am very much a follow your heart, let intuition lead you, and go with the flow kind of gal.  If it was up to me there would be no clocks.  I hate lists and I despise schedules.  Impulsive... I LOVE being impulsive. 
(Sorry to my Aspie readers, but that is just who I am.)
So, when my family and I made the decision to make a major road trip, driving from Oregon, to Texas, then to Lego Land, and back home a huge part of me wanted to just wing it. 

For weeks my dear husband asked me if I had a list, of course I did...it was dancing in my head right now and I was pretty sure everything was on it or about to be on it soon.  Next thing I knew my daughter had gleefully made a complete list of what she needed to pack (three weeks before the trip.) and was walking around her room checking things off and looking very satisfied. 
Since I am also the kind of gal who loses things VERY easily I decided that if I must make a list it would be a google spreadsheet.  I made the list, my husband was now calm and happy.  But I knew that the list wasn't enough.  So much more planning needed to happen to make sure my family flourished on our epic journey. 

Somehow I landed in a family of list makers and schedule lovers.  Maybe it was God's little way of pushing me to get my act together.  Whatever the case, I got my act so together for this trip that I even got the complement "you are such an amazing planner."  I just laughed and laughed, but it was true. I kinda kicked butt on planning the trip. 
Thanks to my son's OT I got lots of tips on figit things to provide.  Thanks to pinterest and www.momsminivan.com I got amazing games for the kids.  I made folders for each of them with bingo cards, scavenger hunts, a map coloring book, comic books, and even a homemade eye spy game.   I planned to reveal prizes (OT figit suggestions) every couple hundred miles.
I made long pillows full of rice that looked like caterpillars so the kids could have some deep pressure.  I hung a shoe storage bag on the back of each front seat so the kids could easlily reach all there stuff and keep it...ORGANIZED! 
I booked hotels in advance with swimming pools, and I talked them through what the trip would be like in advance. 
All of this went against my instict, but it was all done with love and the amazing thing that happened...
the trip went wonderful.  They were happy, excited, rarely bored, and enjoyed the trip.  I enjoyed the trip, my husband enjoyed the trip.  Our family drove over 5,000 miles and we still love each other, not only that but we had fun together. 
Now, a little honesty here.  We did allow digital games after 1pm each day, and we did listen to a TON of Radio Lab

More on the trip soon...