And People Say Teenage Girls are More Dramatic

Teenagers emotions consist of dramatic ups and downs. Their hormone levels are increasing at such a rate their bodies and minds go bizerk. Nolan is no different, I am happy to say, than a regular teenage boy. Some days are good, some are great and some suck the big banana. However, when Nolan has an emotionally stressed day, the regular old teenager colides with the aspergers and creates such an eruption of emotions. He starts by telling us “You never listen to me.” Or he will say “Let me speak!!!!!!” and follow with some colorful language. Once we give him the platform he goes from explaining, to realizing his mistake, then follows with self inflicted verbal abuse. This is difficult to listen to and watch. He can go from enraged to crying like a young child in seconds.
So, how do we handle allowing Nolan to release his frustrations safely? Well to be honest, somedays are better than others. The best way is to have you and your partner work as a team. Being on the same page is crucial in situations like this.
For Nolan, I decided to give him a journal. I gave him this journal for two reasons. One reason was to write down all his feelings, thoughts and even the colorful language he throws our way from time to time. The second reason is to write his wonderful and imaginative stories, poems and lyrics that he shares with us. I told him this is his safe place to write. I promised him I would not read it.
My hope is that he will use it.

This situation that my child is experiencing lead me on a quest for some answers to the following question: Is this a normal teenage experience and is there a higher rate in hormone levels for aspie boys?

According to Diane Kennedy in her 2002 book ADHD Autism connection, teen years are

the saddest and most difficult time

. The teens become more socially isolated. More often than not the aspie faces bullying and rejection. The aspie child is more likely to enter into deep depression from these social issues. This is when the stress level increases and melt downs may occur.
According to the Aspergers comprehensive handbook, the symptoms of an aspie child is linked to the level of Cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone. The body produces this hormone in stressful situations. In a non-aspie child, this increase in Cortisol increases blood pressure, blood sugar and signals the body’s need to adapt to certain stressful situations as well as abrupt changes. According to myaspiechild.com the Cortisol acts like an alarm which allows a person to adapt to a new situation. The aspie child doesn’t have this red alert system to help signal and cope with unexpected changes.

So, the answer is yes it is hormone related. The teen boys have an increase in testosterone and aspie children have a low level of Cortisol. So basically, the child feels out of control with no understanding of how to take a step back in order to move through the stressful situation.

All I can say is- one day at a time….

What a difference a good team makes

Wow, what a difference a great team of teachers makes. My son has three amazing teachers that handle his IEP needs. One teacher works on Language Arts, one teacher works on Math, the other teacher works on communication between teachers, students, and parents. This is the way it should be done. I am very impressed at how well they work together and how they empower my child to advocate for himself and motivate him to work hard. In addition, these team advocate for your child when a situation in the lass arises. SO REFRESHING!!!

I keep pinching myself and ask,”Am I dreaming?” Maybe some schools Special Ed departments need to take notes and make some changes to their own departments.

Nolan’s First Three weeks of High School

Starting high school can be terrifying for anyone. Now add an Aspergers teen with anxiety to the mix and terrified doesn’t begin to address the fears.

Nolan just finished his third week at his new high school. He is really enjoying it. The RSP teacher provides Nolan with support and sets his expectations high. Nolan has risen to the challenge. Nolan is remembering to fill in the agenda book and remembering to get it signed by his teachers each period. In addition, Nolan is learning to communicate directly with his teachers via email and in person. He really doesn’t want us, his parents, to interfere. So, the deal was if Nolan took care of all his issues himself, then we wouldn’t interfere.

Even though we have had a great three weeks, we had 2 hiccups. The first issue was that Nolan made a joke in class. The student told the teacher. The teacher emailed me and the RSP teacher. I spoke with Nolan about it. I replied to all parties and told them Nolan will explain that what he said wash joke. The RSP teacher replied,”Nolan is a great kid. It is had in a new school environment. He is doing very well with everything.”. My jaw dropped. I realized at that moment, I had been holding my breath. Why? Usually I get the email, Nolan isn’t allowed to joke like that. Next time he will be suspended or in detention.
The other issue was the lunch line. I had placed money in Nolan’s menu pay plus account. It was the end of the week, I went on line to add more money when I realized the account still had all the money I deposited on the first day. I thought that was strange!!!!! Everyday, I would ask Nolan to tell three good things about his day. One of the things he would tell me was about lunch. He described this yummy roasted chicken he had one day. I thought it was bizarre!!!! So, I emailed the cafeteria worker at the school. She said the pin number was never used but I did have the correct information for Nolan. At the end of the day, I picked up Nolan. I asked him about his day. I asked him about lunch. I told him about the pin number not being used. He finally came clean. He wasn’t eating lunch because the line was too long. He didn’t want to wait in line and he didn’t want to tell me because I would worry. I explained the importance of the body needing to refuel during the day so he would be ready for the rest of his classes.
So, for all the people who don’t understand why we parents need to put our spectrum kids to the front of the line, this is an excellent example.
Well, I am back to packing lunches now in order to ensure that he will eat something.

Nolan loves his high school. He started choir on Thursday, went to his first football game and is learning to make friends. So far he is very happy!!!!

Do’s and Don’ts for Back to School

Today I read an article on the Back to School Do’s and Don’ts written by By Jerry Bubrick,PhD. He is the Senior Director, Anxiety and Mood Disorders Center; Director, Intensive Pediatric Obsessive-Compulsive Spectrum Disorders Program.

Here are some of his suggestions from the article.

Get back into a routine. Change your child’s bedtime from 11 pm to 9 pm. Start waking up your child at school hours. Once they are awake, have your child complete the normal school routine: shower, dress, and eat breakfast. At night, the author suggests limit screen time.  All screens should be off one hour before bed time. In addition, Dr. Bubrick states parents should Shop for school supplies earlier rather than later.

The most important part of the day is to make sure your child fuels their body. Dr. Bubrick says we should be more aware of meals. Why is this important? Dr. Bubrick gave an excellent example. If your child ate at 1pm and doesn’t get home until 5pm, then he/she maybe ravenous and unable to focus on homework. In order to focus, your child will need a healthy snack and then after about an hour your child will be better able to focus on homework.

When asking about your child’s day, Instead of asking “Did you make any friends?” (this may cause embarrassment to your child), Ask “How was your day?” Or

“Tell me three things you liked about today”- I like this last comment. it allows for more conversation to happen. In the question, “How was your day?”, if your child is like mine, you will get the answer, “Fine” then the child will walk away. When you ask for three good things, there are always leading comments to make after you listen first to what your child has to say. You could follow with, “What made this good for you?”

Dr. Jerry Bubrick suggests doing a trial run in order to get off to the right start.

He feels, especially for the child who is very anxious, take a drive by the school, walk into the building and allow the child to become acquainted with the smells and sounds. In addition, map out the classes and know where the locker is located.

As a parent, he suggests not to be afraid of set backs.

He feels parents and the child need to “Temper your expectations.” The expectation of the first days being stellar is not realistic. It is important to let kids ease into it and have ups and downs.Remember as a parent, every two steps forward there is one step back.

As parents, it is important to help kids manage their commitments.

Usually the first week of work is slow. So it is easy to take on new commitments.However, Dr. Bubrick suggests to wait until mid October before signing up for new activities. This way you have enough time for adjusting the schedules

Furthermore, it is important for the kids to balance their lives so that they are not coming home at 9pm and then starting homework and then off to bed at 11pm.

Dr. Bubrick believes this leads to depression. He feels children over commit themselves with activities. It is our job as their parents to show them how to balance.

One of the most important things to remember is that you are your child’s best advocate. If you see a problem but the school hasn’t contacted you, you contact them.

I tried to properly  link the article.  I had a difficult  time.  If you copy and paste this link, it should take you to the original article.  http://www.childmind.org/en/posts/articles/2011-8-24-back-school-best-results

High School Orientation Day

Well Nolan had his first day as a high school student. Now, I understand that it is just orientation but I was excited for him.  He found a familiar face and off he went with a smile on his face.  I was less excited realizing that I am the mother of a high school student.

Stay tuned for new posts during the year. I also have a new book I am reading too. The book is called Look Me in The Eye  by John Elder Robison.    It might take me a while to finish but I will share some interesting tidbits as I read.

Cooking Camp Was a Great Choice

Wow, I love what this cooking camp, Kitchen Kid, has instilled in my son.  In one weeks time, he has been inspired to hop into the kitchen to cook and bake.  Last week he made Vanilla Pudding.  It was so creamy smooth.  He did everything himself accept separate the eggs.  Separating eggs is very tricky.  Here is a picture of his pudding

Nolan’s  First Vanilla Pudding

From there, he began making his own breakfast. The breakfast mostly consisted of scrambled eggs. However, just the other night, his friends slept over and all three boys worked feverishly on dessert. It was a molten chocolate lava cake. It was delicious. Here is their photo.

Chocolate Molten Lava Cake

This cake took many steps. First the boys had to melt the two kinds of chocolate and butter in a water bath. Then, the boys had to crack and beat the eggs and sugar. Then the boys needed to temper the eggs before pouring all the eggs into the butter and chocolate mixture. In addition, the boys had to butter and flour all the ramekins as well as preheat the oven.

It was so much fun to watch the boys put this altogether. Once the cake finished baking we ate it immediately. It tasted amazing. The boys were so proud of themselves. Nico was so excited in the kitchen he couldn’t stop singing in his operatic voice. It was crazy fun. The most important thing is the boys had to stop using electronics for at least 45 minutes during the prep period.

So, it is okay  to gently push your child into making a choice otherwise the child won’t learn what interests him/her.  If my husband and I not made Nolan choose a camp, he would have wanted to sit in his room all day.  This would not have been acceptable to me or his dad.  Yes, summer is for relaxing but it is also for exploring new interests.

I realize now that it is ok for your child to be bored.

Last week, on 4th of July, my husband and I decided to run in the local race in our community.  After the race we showered and flopped down on the bed.  We checked in on Nicolas, he was fine playing his Gameboy 3D, so we took a nap.  Before taking this nap we explained clearly several times that we were leaving at 5:30 to head down to the football stadium for the concert and firework show.  We even explained to him that the Gameboy was going to stay home.   He seemed to understand.  Seemed is the best word to describe it!

About 30 minutes before we needed to leave, we gave our warning and reminder to Nolan that it was time to go to the field.  We told him the time we needed to leave.  He said, “okay, got it!”  Upon leaving, Nolan becomes flustered.  He said, “you never said anything about leaving and going to fireworks!”  And the drama begins.

We reminded him that we did tell him however, he probably didn’t listen carefully. After several minutes of “you didn’t tell me!”  and our response of  “yes we did, you didn’t hear us”, we finally jumped in the car and headed down.  I noticed the Gameboy in the car.  I told Nicolas this was family time and the Gameboy needs to stay in the car.  He seemed okay with the idea of leaving the Gameboy in the car.

Once at the football field, we sat down on the 30 yard line.  We had a great view of the stage for the concert.  My husband and I were so excited.  The English Beat played.  It brought us back to our high school days of social awkwardness and ska music.  Anyway, the band wasn’t going to be on for another hour.  So we sat, relaxed and waited.  However, Nolan couldn’t get his mind off that G in the car.  The tantrum had started.

He began screaming, “you call this family time? we aren’t even talking. We are just sitting here. Why can’t I have my Gameboy?  There is nothing to do.”  Our response was simple “we are spending time together.  If you want to walk around and look for friends from school, go walk around. However, the Gameboy stays in the car.”  The evening escalated to the point where he was scratching at the Astroturf trying to dig a hole.  Good luck with that!

My husband and I decided that he really wanted negative attention.  We were not going to engage.  We made a decision and we were sticking to it.  Finally the band came on and David and I hit the dance floor like it was the 1980’s.  We were not going to let Nolan’s teenage tantrum ruin our night.

This entire scenario was really our fault.  We have indulged Nolan with this Gameboy 3D since he was younger.  We knew that anytime he was bored all we had to do is whip out this contraption and presto Nolan would no longer be bored.    Hind sight being 20/20, I realize this was not the best solution.  So, what are we doing about this situation now?  Well since the teenage tantrum, we have removed all computer appliances.  They are being kept in a secret location to protect the innocent.   When Nolan earns his game time, he only gets one hour per day during the summer. He can even earn bonus time of another 30 minutes if he visits with guests or is helpful around the house.

It really is perfectly fine for children to be bored.  This is when they must learn to converse, create, and learn patients.  If they aren’t bored from time to time, than children might grow up to be adults who think there is always instant gratification and he/she must be fully entertained at all times of the day.  This is not the reality.  For our house, we have put the brakes on these electronics.  We have begun using the public libraries and neighborhood pools and beaches more.  We have required Nicolas to pick camps for the summer so he isn’t sitting at home all day.