Sharing thoughts, resources and experiences. We all have special needs.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 17, 2009


I was very proud of Austin yesterday.

Normally on Wednesday evening Doug takes our kids to church and he stays and helps with the children's program and then brings them home again. Yesterday he had some things he had to do for a tenant at our rental house and it really did not suit him to take them like he usually does. Since the church also has some vans and a bus Doug offered to call and arrange for a ride to church for Austin.

Austin really dislikes riding the vans and the bus. The noise and chaos the always ensues in a crowded vehicle of kids really bothers him. But he is determined that he is going to make a place for himself with this group of kids, and that he will find a friend. He also wants to learn as much as he can from the teacher in the class he attends. It was completely his choice whether to go or not and he decided to go. He talked several times about how much he dislikes the noise but remained determined. And he went.

Doug finished the work at the rental house in time to be able to pick him up from church so he would not have to ride the van home. I asked him if he was glad for his usual ride home and he said he was but he was glad he went.

Even though he has his struggles, Austin is a very determined young man. He realizes that he has some challenges and is determined not to let them hold him back. And that makes me very proud of him.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Balancing Act

Amanda is getting to the point where she asks more and more often why? Why is my brother acting this way? Why does he talk nonstop (and I do mean nonstop, in circles, round and round the same subject)? Will he ever grow out of it? Why does he get so upset so quickly?

I have explained to her that everyone's brain works differently and his works a little more differently than the average person. We have talked about how it does not mean he isn't as smart or as talented as anyone else, it's just that he approaches life differently. But it's hard sometimes for her to understand. Especially when we've listened to a lengthy lecture on playing cards for the fifty eleventh time today.

And there are also the times when she feels that he is getting special treatment. When she has to be extra careful not to overwhelm him when he's on edge. There are times when she has to try to understand that he is not deliberately annoying her, and times when he freezes up when she's talking to him and she has to understand that he's not trying to ignore her and she just needs to give him a few minutes. And of course there are the times when a meltdown happens and she sometimes feels like he is not given the consequences he should have.

Yesterday Amanda and I spent a whole afternoon in the kitchen cooking together. No interruptions. Austin was watching TV and playing games on the computer. I realized again how important these times are when I simply focus on her and we spend time together doing the things she loves.

Sometimes she needs some "special" treatment too. Maybe a surprise treat just for her, a compliment when she's not expecting it. A reminder that she's just as important and special as her brother. And she definitely does deserve a big thank you for being as patient a sister as she is.

Every day is a balancing act but we are working on finding, as much as possible, the balance that works for all of us.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Little About Me and My Interest In Special Needs

When I was nine years old I experienced a sudden onset of Obsessive Compulsive symptoms. All the compulsions, the obsessive thoughts and the anxiety were there in what seemed to me a totally unexpected and bewildering rush.

For the next eleven years I found myself in a nightmare I couldn't wake up from. A variety of medications, dietary changes, and other treatments were tried but nothing seemed to really work. One medication in particular ( I don't remember the name of it anymore) was so bad it made my parents and I afraid to try any more medications.

In my early twenties I found myself having occasional breaks from the intensity of the disorder although it was still there and would make itself known in times of stress. I married and had two children.

Then in my late twenties I crashed hard again. My marriage was falling apart and I was a wreck. I couldn't sleep, couldn't function and needed constant help to keep everything from totally falling to pieces. My family and friends were a blessing and held things together for me during this time.

In desperation I went to the doctor and told him I had to do something and was willing to try medication again. This time he put me on Paxil. Once we found the dosage that was right for me there was a major difference. I was able to function again. I was able to think beyond the racing obsessive thoughts that were running through my head. I was able to do things without being interrupted by meaningless compulsions. It felt like a miracle.

I have been on Paxil now for about seven years and it is still working for me. I do occasionally have mild symptoms, usually when dealing with some type of unusual stress. But it's easily manageable and I am grateful.

Around the same time that I began taking Paxil I also took both of my children to see a counselor to help them deal with the stress in our home caused by the breakup of my marriage. The counselor quickly picked up that my son had some things going on that she felt needed to be evaluated. She referred him to a Child Development team for an assessment. This assessment showed that he has Nonverbal Learning Disorder. He also tested in the "High Likely" range for Asperger's Syndrome. This confirmed for me a lot of concerns I had been having but that others kept telling me were just overreaction.

A few years later I took training for and became a foster parent. In early 2007 a five month old baby boy was placed with me. At the time of placement he was in the hospital. He had been born at 27 weeks and was in very poor health. I was told he was probably blind and deaf. His reflexes were almost nonexistent. He did not respond to stimuli. He rarely cried unless subjected to a painful medical procedure. He frequently forgot to breathe and had to have an attached monitor at all times to alert us when that happened. He scared us many time and spent a lot more time in the hospital but eventually, around seven months old we began to see improvement. He began to show us there really was a little person in there. It's been a long struggle but he is now three years old and in many ways a typical little boy. We do know he lost some brain tissue due to lack of oxygen from some of the times that it was hard to get him to begin breathing again. There are still some tests that need to be done to rule out some other disorders. But we have come a lot further than we thought we could.

Along with my daughter I have chosen too homeschool both boys and we're enjoying it.

I also have a childcare business that I run from my home and have provided care for a lot of children with a variety of special needs. A partial list includes
-Bipolar Disorder
-Reactive Attachment Disorder
-Oppositional Defiant Disorder
-Developmental Delays
-Fetal Alchohol Syndrome

I do not have a degree in special education or, honestly, any degree at all. But I have read widely, you could say obsessively, I have experienced much and I am always looking for ways to learn more. What I write in this blog is my own opinion and should not be taken for advice from a professional. But I am looking forward to sharing this journey with others who are on the some path.