Trying to help Noah move one moment and day at a time

Noah must feel the weight of the world on his shoulders. Knowing he ended his college years, still attempting to find out what is his purpose moving forward, and now trying to find a job in this economy.

AHHHHH!

Noah continues to find meeting new people challenging. Many people say he is weird or strange.  Those people just do not want to take the time to know and appreciate Noah.   He still struggles to read the nuances within conversations.  He misunderstands many parts of a conversation.  This issue chisels away at the little confidence he has in himself. 

Noah decided over Christmas to apply for law school and take the LSAT.  This was completely his choice, but it is a great fit for his character.  When all this COVID-19 hit, Noah did not know what to do with himself.  He would retreat to his room, study a bit, play video games, and have major panic attacks about covid, and his future. 

Watching this train wreck happen in front of your eyes is heartbreaking.  Noah begins a project or activity and begins to be sucked into the activity to the point that he forgets about the other tasks that need to get done. So, in addition to therapy, his dad and I helped him create a daily plan that included chill time for video games.  One of the tips we discussed is calendaring.  We are helping him set up a calendar each day that includes everything he wants to work on for that day.  Now, today is the first day we are implementing this practice.  We shall see how well it works.  But, when Noah filled out his calendar for today, he realized, he does have time for all the tasks he wants to accomplish.  

I would love to hear from anyone else who has an aspie child/teen or young adult. 

How are your Aspie children holding up during covid?

I know it has been a long time since I wrote anything. I am sorry. Distance Learning created at lot of work for me. I am not complaining. I learned a lot and helped support my staff during this time.

However, during this covid quarantine, our son, Noah, became unglued.  It felt like we moved backwards.  I felt like each day started by gauging Noah’s mood.  Noah seemed to set the tone.  He would scream and shout.  He took a dark turn talking about how his life sucks.  He can’t find a job. His college graduation and ending of his senior year seemed uneventful. He complained that he could be with his friends, which he finally made some great friends at school.  Unfortunately,  each day Noah woke up, he filled the air with frustration, screaming, and worry about his mental state.  His aura exuded negativity and as he entered the room, you could cut the tension with a knife.

None of the tips and tricks I used seemed to be working. My husband and I have been so concerned about Noah’s mental state. Finally, Noah agreed to go to therapy. That is one positive. However, it is a slow process.

I am just wondering, how others are feeling and some of the steps you have taken to provide support. I would love to hear how you or your children are doing.

Lucky Mom!

I am a lucky mom.  I have a son who is growing up to be an incredible young man.  Yes, he says and does awkward things at times, but he is learning and growing.  I see it more in the last year.  Noah thanks us, his parents, for always supporting him, even when he drove us crazy.

This year he realized and understood the importance of asking for help, going for help, and organizing his time.  Noah was on academic probation in the beginning of his sophomore year of college.  The probation was due to one bad grade in French.  It still baffles my family because he speaks French with my husband.  It was the grammar that threw him a curve ball and lack of organization when it came time to study.  We suggested tutoring, which is provided for free at Whittier College.  He said he would go, but never did.  He let his pride get in the way of his success.  We had many discussions about asking for help.  We talked about working in the real world and CEO and CFO’s all need a strong support and help from team members to make a company successful.  We would tell him repeatedly, the wisest people in the world are the people who are not afraid to ask for help.   Noah and I had this conversation several times over many months.

Once he read the probation letter and we discussed his options, he realized he needed to make a change.  For us, his options were to ask for help and work with an academic counselor or go to our local city college.  He made the decision to work hard and stay at Whittier.  He turned his attitude around.  Noah would meet with his academic counselor weekly, he would talk more with his professors, and even stay on campus over the weekend to study.

Now, Noah works for the summer.  It is his second summer as a courtesy clerk for Vons.  They rehired him this summer.  He works long hours cleaning the store, bagging groceries and retrieving carts.  He loves Thursdays because that is when he gets paid.

Now that Noah makes his own money, he offers to treat me to lunch or ice cream.  During our outings he always says, “I love you mom.  You’re the best.  Thank you for everything you have done for me.”  I am a very lucky mom.

Who else does this?

I just sent out my yearly emails to the teachers.  I give them a heads up about Noah.  I also let them know I am here to support them in any way they need it.  Sometimes I hear back from the teachers.  Other times, I don’t hear a word.

I am just curious do any other parents of special needs students do this too?

Summer time fun…to be or not to be

Summer is supposed to be fun in the sun with friends. Kids should be hanging out at the beach, eating ice cream everyday, swimming, going to movies, or hanging out on the street shooting the breeze. However for kids with social and emotional issues this type of frolicking in the summer is challenging. These kids prefer to be isolated in his/her room, only to be forced to connect with friends in order to get out of the house. Now take this one step father by sending this child to a sleep away camp for a few weeks. I have sent my child to a leadership training program. He wanted to go. He filled out the application. I just wanted to support him! My husband and i were so proud that our son took the initiative to apply. As his mom, I am nervous about certain things but I am familiar with the camp and I know I sent him to a safe place. He is with nine other boys in a cabin and the camp leader. He is forced to deal with being social at some level.

As a child, my parents always told me that I needed to fall on my face so that I could learn how to help myself work out my problem. This is the same for my child. He needs to work things out for himself without me running interference for him. The most difficult part in parenting is watching this process happen. There is an ongoing conversation happening inside my head, “It is good for him. He will be fine. He needs to go through these issues on his own in order to grow.” Then the reply is “Oh, I hope he can work this out. I don’t want him to be unhappy or feel anxious.” Then, I hear myself saying, “The only reason he is having issues is because he wants to retreat, be alone and play the addictive game boy. So chill out! He will be fine.”

How does a parent work through these types of situations without having a panic attack? I would love to have some helpful tips.

Remember there is always hope…

Last night the family went to the weekly session. We started working on the social deficit component in our son. Through our discussion the therapist presented our son with his perspective. The therapist told our son that he has a blind spot when it comes to connecting socially. In addition because it is a blind spot, requires more effort on our son’s part, that our son doesn’t want to put in that effort because it can be difficult. After our son hemmed, hawed and rebutted, at the end of the session our son finally admitted, the real reason he hasn’t reached out to make friends is he is lazy and it takes work to make new friends.

So, why am I happy about this realization for my son? I am happy because the light is on and now the work can truly begin. He may not be open to all our ideas but we can always bring him back to his words, “I am lazy…” Because these words are his way of realizing his blind spot and needs help!

I will keep you all posted!

Another great session

What luck we have to find this amazing therapist! He is loaded with great and helpful ideas to help our son move forward in his development. The challenge with these new ideas is they need to be rolled out slowly over time. The therapist suggest that we roll out a new expectation each month while continuing with the latest expectations.
So last month our new expectation is that our son reached out to a friend for a social hangout. While the social component continues, we are adding a physical component to his routine this month. We are giving him a choice (sort of) he can choose to run, hike, or walk at least two or three times a week for a minimum for 20 minutes.
Yesterday was the first day of implementing the physical part. How did that work out for our son? Not well in the beginning! He did not want to do any of it at all! I had to stand firm and remind him that not choosing is not a choice. So, we live in an area of hills, so I took him to the top. I pulled the car over and told him to get out of the car and walk home. He was so angry that he said,”Be prepared for me never to talk to you again.” Well,that didn’t last long.
In conjunction with rolling out new expectations, the therapist wants to make sure our son is making a connection to us via projects and not entertainment. The idea is not to just watch to a movie and think that he is connecting. The idea to work together on project type activities that will illicit conversation and team work. I try to have our son help in the kitchen. He is a little foodie and loves to eat good food. The part is do able. The addition to that is to check-in with our son and see if he is connecting to us. Well, this is going to take work put it that way:(. But Rome was not built in a day. When we say, “Hey, I love cooking with you.” His reply,”I love our dog.” Like I said Rome wasn’t built in a day.
The most important part for us as parents is to continue to push him forward in order for him to have a full and prosperous life in the future. In addition, it is important for us as parents to stand firm when he tries to push back.

Our dog…

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Sorry, I have been overwhelmed lately. Ahhhhh……

Wow, I have not written in such a long time. What kept me away? I am dealing with a bout of depression. It is not the type of depression where one can’t move physically. It is the type where you go about the normal routine sometimes with a smile, all the while, in your heart sits a stinging pain. The aching pain increases and decreases, but it never goes away. If you were on the outside and didn’t know me well, you would never know I was struggling. I am not searching for pity. That is not the purpose of this blog.

I am depressed over the mix of my class. There are some brutal behavior problems, as well a, children and parents who don’t value education. They would rather tell me how awful of a person I am for holding students accountable for their behavior and their learning. Then throw in my son who struggles with his aspergers, anxiety, and teenage hormones. Oye!!!!!!! All I wanted to do is run away and hide. I am still struggling with this depression, but I am forcing myself to sit here and write about it in hopes that my journey may help someone else who struggles with life’s crazy journey.

So, parents out there, it is okay to stick your head under the pillow for a bit if things become overwhelming. The most important part is that you resurface and take care of yourself in order for you to have the strength to handle the rest of the chaotic life.

So how did I start to pull myself out. Well, I had one of my good friends constantly tell me, “If you don’t take care of yourself first, you can’t take care of anyone else”. She the type of friend everyone should have. the type of friend who tells you what you need to hear and not only what you want to hear.
It wasn’t right away that I took her message to heart. As I drove by my gym each day on my way home, I heard her in my ear telling me the same thing over and over. Finally, I took the first step. I drove to the gym. Within a month or so, I pushed myself back into the gym at least four times a week. Now on Saturday, I have a great yoga class to help center myself. Then, I spin and imagine I am smushing melons under my bike wheels. I feel so empowered when I get off the bike. Even when I don’t have time for a class, a great hike or walk is refreshing. I use my friends advise as my mantra. It is really helped to put things in perspective.

I am sure I may be hit again by this paralyzing bullet train, called depression, but if I continue some sort of yoga and exercise plus FIND A THERAPIST, I know I will be able to handle my crazy life in a more healthier productive way.

I will post again soon. Thanks for reading!

Kill Them with Kindness Right?

My son failed his math test. According to the IEP, he is allowed to retake the test. However, what the RSP teachers don’t explain is that the child is supposed to request it. Okay, I understand wanting students to learn to advocate for themselves. I appreciate teaching this life skill. However, tell the parents of these spectacular children. It is part of my duty as a parent to support my child and explain to him this new process at his new school.

So, my son finally asks to take the test again. The RSP teacher said,”ok”. So, one week goes by and no retake. My husband and I email the teacher and no response. It has been over two weeks.

Finally today, I sent an email that was kind but firm. The email said. “I know it is a busy time, however we haven’t heard from you. We would like to know what is happening.” I think that is much better than what I really wanted to say.
Even though there is this one issue, these teachers are amazing. My son has made tremendous growth towards independence. I am so thankful to have them in his corner. Because I was gentle in my tone, I am sure this will remedy itself quickly.

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….