We find ourselves well into our second week of school, and I’ll have to say that this year is so much better than last year I can actually breathe! Last year we were living with my brother and his family, homeschooling Edward at my brother’s kitchen table and trying to find a house because we had just left our all of our dear friends in South GA and moved to Middle TN.
What a difference a year makes.
Still, mornings are challenging with our group. We all like to sleep late, drink copious amounts of coffee before we can focus on anything whatsoever, and all require complicatedly different breakfasts with multiple tinctures and vitamins.
Today our morning began with the sighting of an enormous centipede in the middle of the kitchen floor!
Now it’s not like we eschew bugs in any way–we do have a giant pet millipede named “Mills”–but something about waking up to such a large insect prior to the ingestion of a single milligram of caffeine is unholy.
I immediately called for the boys in a loud (and apparently freakish) voice that summoned the whole family from their slumber, and was not the best way to begin a school day. Their frenzied tromping, not surprisingly, frightened the creature and s/he slithered under the toe molding.
We banged, knocked, blew, and shoved makeshift shivs into the space in an effort to coerce the fellow to emerge.
No such luck.
H even grabbed my hair dryer and tried to root him out.
S/he could not be moved.
This did not leave a lot of time for the preparation of gluten-free toast without crusts, soft-scrambled farm eggs or slightly undercooked grits. (One child likes the “grits crunch.”)
Repeatedly running back in to the foyer to see if the ‘pede had emerged was also a time-waster.
Still, we made it to school on time and we should have a topic to write about during journal period. Maybe our writing will even be legible today! Who knows?
It was just a centipede morning.
It’s come to my realization that I’m a “now” kind of Veruca Salt-like person with some weighty patience issues. I want everything fixed NOW! I want my house clean now, my new curtains made now, my dining room carpet ripped up now, and weight loss now.
And I want my child to pack his own backpack now, make eye contact with adults now, finish his homework legibly now, and gracefully lose a soccer game now.
God, however, is not a “now” kind of person. His timing is always perfect, but it’s rarely the timing I would choose at the time I’m assessing the timing.
(How many people have I lost at this point?)
I have been fiddling around with our gluten-free/casein-free/egg-free pancake recipe lately, and have found it hard to attain a lovely golden brown color on the outside while at the same time rendering the inside reasonably fluffy. When I turn the burner on “high,” I get a perfect pancake center with dark, charred-like outside edges.
Yet when I turn down the heat to try a more moderate approach, the pancakes look lovely and golden on the outside, but are runny-raw on the inside.
(At one point my children actually asked me if the liquid part was some kind of “pudding filling.” That just proves how much I have snowed them regarding my own cooking abilities because anyone who knows me remotely well knows I would never be able to carry off such a complicated culinary feat as a “pudding filling.”)
The other day, however, I was attempting to multi-task and craft pancakes at the same time, which only resulted in an equal amount of black-lace pancakes and raw dough ones. I finally turned off the burner and walked away in disgust, leaving the last pancake to languish in the pan.
When I returned, however, lo and behold I found the most perfectly browned, delicately cooked pancake!
OK, obviously many lessons can be learned here. When I leave things alone, quit pushing, and stop trying to control everything I slide over and let God take the driver’s seat.
Below you will find a list of most of the supplements, treatments, tinctures, educational options that we have tried over the years with our sweet Edward. I must confess, that before I started each one of them, I fully believed that this treatment would be the one to help us round the curve, crest the hill, truly make a “night and day” difference.
I would hold dear all the conversations I’d had in waiting rooms with other mothers who “ooowed and awwwed” over this therapy or that intervention that caused their child to finally be verbal, or, gasp, even lose their diagnosis.
Here’s our list:
*Floortime * Homeschooling * Tutoring * Kumon *EMDR * Music Therapy* BrightSpark* Focus Formula* Attend* Memorin* GF/CF Diet * Feingold Diet* The Listening Program * TOMATIS * Interactive Metronome Therapy* Chiropractic * Defeat Autism Now Protocol (DAN) * Occupational Therapy * Physical Therapy * Social Skills Groups & Camps * “How Does Your Engine Run?” Program * Joint Compression *Brushing Therapy * Hippotherapy * Homeopathic Attention Aids *Social Skills Camp *Private School *Public School *Part-time Public School *Swimming *Soccer *Gymnastics *T-Ball *Superflex Social Skills *Model Me Social Skills *
Now I can add *Stimulant and Non-Stimulant Medications* to that list. Yes, I have freaked out for years in fear of all things pharmaceutical for my child. We tried mild stimulants off and on a few times last year with no results, other than 48 hours of wakefulness and lots of stimming and perseveration.
After meeting several times with a new psychiatrist, we have decided to try a different medication that, guess what, takes a rather long time to potentially work. The irony of this is certainly not lost on me.
Am I saying that my child is a slow-cook pancake?
Am I saying that God is teaching me to be more of a slow-cook pancake type of person?
Tomorrow we meet Edward and Joseph’s teachers for the new year.
I NEED MORE TIME!
I said I would go through the Greek and Latin vocabulary book with them over the summer. I even made color-coded index cards.
We learned three words. I hopes these words and their derivations are what my children encounter when they take the PSAT.
Instead or learning Greek and Latin, we:
Fed dead white mice to rather large Caiman crocodiles at a local reptile store.
I intended to organize my house, structure our days and create nifty chore charts.
Learned that it’s not that difficult to sleep in a damp swimsuit and coverup two, or even three, days in a row since then all you have to do is pop up in the morning, brush your teeth, grab a Rice Krispie treat, and head for the pool or beach. Such a time saver!
I planned to lose 12 pounds and finally fit into a two-piece swimsuit for the first time since Edward was born.
Instead, I created a self-portrait of myself at the beach as a “shadow” or “shade.”
I think I look like a Sleestack.
I intended on teaching my children that the most quiet, patient fisherman always catches the most fish.
Instead we learned that sometimes the loudest, most active fisherman catches the only fish…
Like it or not, school looms…
A common frustration of parenting a child on the autism spectrum is the reality that most insurance policies will not cover social skills groups, and those helpful groups are generally quite pricey. Our occupational therapist has wisely combined OT, (which is covered by our insurance), with social skills, and we recently began doing joint sessions with another boy of a similar age and diagnosis.
So the second time we met with this boy, he and Edward were playing contentedly in the waiting room, bandying some kid’s meal car back and forth while the therapist and I discussed the plan for the hour. All of a sudden out of the busy din of waiting room conversation rang a clear, rather piercing question:
“So, do you have Asperger’s like me?”
The little boy glanced sideways at Edward as he asked, almost, but not quite, making eye contact.
Edward looked at him, looked at the car, and continued playing in apparent oblivion.
To his own credit, the boy could not be deterred, and he fired the question again, this time more loudly to the packed waiting room:
“So, Edward, I said, do you have Asperger’s like me?”
Edward met his gaze, and in mildly exasperated tone of voice fired back, “I do not know what you keep talking about, but I do not have that!”
The therapist and I exchanged a troubled glanced with the boy’s father, and the boys were quickly ushered into the OT room.
Later, our therapist told me that she felt it was time to share Edward’s diagnosis with him because it appeared he was ready to understand it to a certain extent and because more and more of his peers knew about their own diagnoses and would be asking him questions about his.
This is not the first time I have heard this particular advice. I have also heard a plethora of advice against sharing a diagnosis with a child this age.
A bit later in the van, I asked Edward what his friend kept talking about. His response? “Yeah, I don’t know what he was talking about. He kept going on and on about ‘ass boogers‘ and I most certainly don’t have those. That sounds kinda gross…”
(insert grin here)
I went on to accurately pronounce the term and describe some of the characteristics of Asperger’s–how it was similar to ADHD, with which he is quite familiar–and how people who fall into that “camp” sometimes have challenges with social skills and making friends, paying attention and sometimes handwriting and a few other things. We also discussed many of the amazing advantages of having a brain structured like his, and how God had created him so uniquely for a specific purpose.
“Oh, well, yes, then I do have that. I absolutely have that Mom. That’s me…”
You could have knocked me over with a hummingbird feather.
Something I had agonized over and fretted over, something that had kept me up countless nights debating and praying over, was as easy as telling a child he needed to use a special pencil grip or might hit a baseball further if he used a lighter weight bat.
Over the past few weeks, we have had occasion to discuss Asperger’s in much greater detail. He now knows that several of his friends bear a similar diagnosis, and that has made him feel like he is most certainly not alone.
Based on a few comments he has made, I believe he is even recognizing how his difficulty reading facial expressions and body language often confuses him about what a friend is trying to do or say, and now he knows that Asperger’s has something to do with that. All of a sudden the social skills classes make more sense to him.
What was before so confusing, now has a name. That name gives meaning to his own feelings and experiences–both those that are challenges and those that are gifts.
I’m sure that in the days and years to come, this conversation will develop further complexities and nuances that are peacefully lost and absent today.
Yet today, I will revel in the simplicity of an eight-year-old who hears this diagnosis and does not cringe, does not question and does not fear.
That’s what I embrace today.