Friday, February 26, 2010

A photographic explanation for the lack of surprise at his autism spectrum diagnosis

But, hey. He got an award--for classroom improvement!--and he went up and took it, high-fiving the (male) teacher (who I want him to have for fourth grade) who handed it to him. Last year, he refused to even go up and get the award in the first place. Baby steps, right?

Besides. Makes for an adorable, postable-on-my-blog-since-you-can't-see-his-face photo, so it's a win-win, methinks.

(And I know I haven't actually written about his diagnosis--PDD, to be specific--nor about the first part of his IEP, which was held earlier this week. It's just overwhelming. Not the diagnosis or the IEP per se, but life right now. And sifting through everything to get to the relevant information takes energy I just do not seem to have. I'll try. Soon. I will try.)

Edited to add following photo, of N before the award, surrounded by classmates, jacket over his head, and hat over it. Sorta makes me want to cry. But if there's anything that tells you things still aren't quite right in his world...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sweet Pride

We have a little girl, C, staying with us overnight tonight; she's a friend of N's from religious school whose mom's been quite ill and just got out of the hospital today. Things have been pretty chaotic for this kid, who is not yet 8 years old. They've been pretty chaotic for her family, too. So I offered to have her over, make it a sleepover, and take her to religious school in the morning, in the hopes that it would make things easier for her parents, who I like a whole lot. They were thrilled with the idea.

Em and her friend J wanted to have a sleepover, too, and I asked them to do it here, in order to help me out with C. (J, it should be noted, is one of Em's best friends, lives down the block, and has slept here--and Em there--approximately 60 million times. It's relevant. Hang on.) And thank god they said yes, because C really needed that Big Girl attention tonight. With all the shuttling around and running to and from hospitals and fears about her mom...well, you can imagine.

Everything went incredibly smoothly until bedtime. (Everything almost always goes incredibly smoothly until bedtime. Bedtime always screws things up.) Although C normally goes to bed at 8, my kids stay up later; N's normal bedtime is 9:30, and tonight they didn't get all settled down in Em's room (N on Em's bed; Em, J, and C on the floor) until 10. N fell asleep immediately, but C just couldn't get comfortable. She needed water; she needed a different blanket. She needed to sleep on the bed with N; she needed to sleep at the other end of the bed; she needed to sleep in N's bed in the other room by herself; she needed Em to come sleep with her in there. It went on and on.

Finally, I found an arrangement that I thought would work (though it involved waking N and having him sleep alone in his room, which provoked torrents of tears from him and not a whole lot of sympathy from me in the moment, though in retrospect I feel badly for him, cast out of the Room o' Girls and Fun). But C, who now had Em's bed to herself, with Em and J on the floor to keep her company, was still restless and jabbering and asking for things. I was in N's room trying to calm him down, so I couldn't come to their rescue right away.

Suddenly, from my spot laying down with N on his bed, I hear J say, "You know, C, one of the first times I slept over here, I couldn't fall asleep either. I was really scared or sad about something, and I wanted to go home. But it was really late, like it is now, and TC didn't want to wake up my parents..."

I remember that night. It was at least five years ago, but I remember it. I listen as she goes on.

"Em was asleep, so TC sat next to me and whispered to me. She said that whenever Em was having a hard time falling asleep, she would give her a sort of 'task' to do, like making a list of her favorite colors, or deciding who she would invite to her birthday party if it was next week. And it would take her mind off of not being able to sleep, and the next thing Em knew, she'd be asleep."

I remember that, too. N is one of the World's Greatest Sleepers, so it's not something I've had to do in years and years, but I remember doing it with Em, and yes, once or twice with J. Apparently, so does J.

"So she gave me a task that night. She told me to make up the best ice-cream sundae in the world--decide what flavors of ice-cream it would have, what toppings, that kind of thing. And it totally worked."

I was grinning now. I definitely don't remember the specifics; J might be making that up, for all I know. But I like it; it's a good task.

"So now I'm going to give you a task," J continued. "I want you to decide, if you owned a carnival, what kinds of rides would it have, and what would they look like?"

C was quiet for less than a minute. "Can I do the ice-cream?" she asked finally. "I like ice-cream a lot."

"Sure," said J. I could pretty much hear her smiling.

I wish I could tell you that it worked, and that C was asleep within minutes. Not so much. But when I went into the room to try one last tactic (turned out, "I think I'll just call your dad and tell him I'm going to bring you home since you can't sleep," said in a very kind, very sympathetic voice was what did the trick; she didn't really want to go home...she just wanted to stay up and have people fuss over her...and once the jig was up, she was out like a light within five minutes) I stopped and gave J a hug. "I heard you talking to C. I can't believe you remember that," I said.

"Oh, sure," she replied. "I've used it on myself lots of times since that night."

I've had lots of cruddy parenting moments in my life, and I'll have lots more, I'm sure. But to have had even that little creative impact on a kid not my own...and to see her already passing it on to the not-quite-next generation?

I love it. I totally love it.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

My Blues Buster

A couple of days ago, I posted this on Twitter:
Why does depression always hit right when everything in my life is upside down and I can't really focus on myself? Oh...wait...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Where I've Been When I Haven't Been Here

I've always assumed that bloggers who suddenly disappear from sight do so because of some major catastrophe. And some do, I suppose. But probably many are more like me: The tide of everydayness comes and picks us up, sweeps us away, and we watch helplessly as the shore grows more and more distant, unsure of how to make our way back.

Or maybe shit just happens. But it sounds better as an ocean metaphor, doesn't it?

Anyway, while I don't really owe anyone an explanation, I know, I feel like I, well, like I owe you an explanation. And so, here, in no particular order, is where I've been.

1. At a psychiatry appointment for N, at which an M.D. finally--FINALLY--used the term PDD without the word "not" in front of it to describe him.

2. Caring for N after an outpatient surgery. All's well that ends well, and this ended well.

3. In Big Bear, making chicken soup for 9 adults and 10 children under the age of 12. Also: talking, drinking, drinking, talking, bowling, cooking, eating, drinking, eating, talking and talking.

4. Celebrating my birthday (January 24; 46 years) and then, soon after, N's (January 26; 9 how-is-that-possible years). (Those are his special birthday sheets--a gift from Grandma and Pop-Pop--over to the right.)

5. At Em's soccer games. Dear god, so many soccer games.

6. Meeting with school psychologists, talking with our advocate, writing email after email, gnashing teeth and rending garments...all in preparation for N's now-later-this-month-though-it-should-have-been-over-already IEP. (Preemptive worrying. Don't you even try to pretend you don't do it too.)

7. Giggling with my daughter. Really, I could spend the rest of my life giggling with my daughter. She's so much fun--so smart and so quick. And she can outsarcasm me any day of the week...which is really saying something.

8. Giggling with my son, too. That kid is about as silly as they come when he wants to be.

9. Working. OK, OK. Trying to work. Showing up at work. Sometimes even doing activities that could be mistaken for work. If you don't look too closely, that is.

10. Trying not to get swept away in mudslides.

11. Starting the planning for Em's bat mitzvah, which is in July, people! OMIGOSH! JULY! That's, like, THIS YEAR! And not even at the end of it! Oy.

12. Not cleaning my kitchen. Not cleaning my bathrooms. Not cleaning my bedroom. Not decluttering my office. (Not doing all of these things takes time and effort. Shhhh. It does so.)

13. Reading. Cross stitching. Cooking. Gardening. Editing my temple's newsletter. Laundry. Laundry. Laundry. Laundry. Laundry.

14. Trying to remember the giggling. Trying to see the beauty. Succeeding, sometimes. Getting swept under by the rest, now and then. Surfacing, eventually.