Charlie

Charlie

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Warning....

Warning this is an Angry rant. This is going to be truthful, and no holds barred- type deal. Also Language will be in the adult content.


A little information here for ya-- I have in the past 8 or so years haven't really liked the holidays. I'm simply not a holiday type person. It seems like so much work for really nothing.

So why am I so angry?

Well you see, I would LOVE to take my children out to see Santa, or the lighting of the Christmas tree in the town square, but in case you didn't know, My son Charlie--- Yeah he's Autistic.

Charlie doesn't understand Holiday's. It's one day out of 365 days that we do something different, that we do something out of the norm, and you think he's going to have fun?

I am so tired of people telling me what to do. I'm tired of hearing "Give unto others", "Be thankful for what you have", "Holiday's should be about family and being close"

WELL FUCK YOU!! SERIOUSLY?!?! DO YOU NOT THINK I DON'T KNOW THIS??? DO YOU NOT THINK THAT I DON'T KNOW IT'S ABOUT FAMILY AND ABOUT GIVING?! HOW ABOUT THIS JACKASS, I GIVE MY SELF 150% TO MY CHILDREN AND HUSBAND 365 DAYS A YEAR! And you want me to give even more just because of some religious holiday that I don't even have faith in?! Really????

Do you really think my son who btw is having one hell of a week because school is out for a week for thanksgiving, is going to want to sit on some strange persons lap that is wearing a costume? OH! AND tell him what he wants for the holiday?!? How about this.... I can't even get my son to tell me when he has to piss, let alone what fucking toy he wants.

Yes I do have a daughter, but do you think that she would want to sit on some strangers lap? She doesn't even like for her aunt to hold her, but lets put her on some strange mans lap... oh and the kicker?? Yeah she can barely communicate either.

I DO NOT have enough energy to try and decorate the house, because you know what will happen? You guessed it. Charlie would have yet another bad day because we changed the way the house looked. No I am not going to cook a feast for my family because my kids don't eat(really they don't). No I am not going to sing Christmas songs, nor am I going to try and fake my way through the Holidays.

I am Angry, I am bitter, and I am down right mean. As far as I am concerned the Holiday's this year can go screw them selves.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Progress.

Charlie is doing *amazing* at school, and now at home. He is learning how to ask for things, and he is learning that we have to do things through out the day that isn't really fun, but we still need to do them. At school he has been working on a sentence, and I got to witness the brilliance that is Charlie.

Charlie's teachers are working with him on the "I want" sentence. I have tried FOREVER to get him to tell me what he wants, but I have never been really successful with it. He's told me once or twice before that he wanted something, but it has never stuck. So in class Charlie has a little card, and on it it has two Velcro'd on squares. One says "I" and the other says "want" with the sign for want on it. The other day I was standing outside his class watching him work with Teacher Robbin when Teacher Suzie invited me into the classroom. She said to me "You HAVE to see this!!" So I walk in, and there is little Charlie sitting at his table with Robbin. She has a small bucket full of his favorite items, and in front of Charlie is pictures of his favorite items. Robbin gets Charlie's attention and says "Charlie what do you want?" And Charlie points to the "I" and Says "I" then he points to the "want" and says "Want" then points to the train picture and says "TRAIN!"

I kid you not. It was *AMAZING*. I stood there and watched for a good 5 minutes. He was oblivious to my existence in the room, but he was asking for things!! He was matching objects, he was pointing to words and saying them, he was doing it!! I of course started crying. I am just so thankful that Charlie is progressing. It has been such a long road, and I feel like we are finally on our way on the right path for Charlie.

With all of Charlie's new words and his talking non stop these days, he has started to talk in 3rd person. It's actually pretty cute. Whenever he is doing something, or wants to do something he refers to himself as Charlie and not I. So when he is hungry he says "Charlie, food! Charlie Drink!" He can't pronounce his name correctly so it sounds like Carly, but thats okay. He is doing it! he is communicating!!

The one thing we are still working on is introducing new things into Charlie's life. We knew one day that his little crib/toddler bed wouldn't be enough and he would need a bigger bed. Well that day came sooner then I had thought. You see his Crib is one of those 3-1 cribs. So about a month ago I was looking online to see where to buy the parts to turn it in to a full sized bed when I found out that Charlie's crib had been recalled last year. Severely bummed, we started looking at twin sized beds for Charlie. It made sense to get him a bigger bed so when he wants us to lay down with him we could. We asked out neighbor (who makes beds) to make Charlie a bed. We thought we were being a head of the game by having the frame set up in the spare room for a couple weeks for Charlie to get used to while we save money for his mattress.

So last night we took down Charlie's crib and started to move it into the garage. At first he was excited and helped move some pieces, and then he realized that his bed was gone. The only bed he has known since he first started sleeping by himself. He started to have a melt down when I took him into the spare room and reminded him that this was his new bed, and this was his BIG BOY BED! He started to get excited, but as soon as we started taking apart the bed to move into his room, he lost it. He was crying and screaming. He didn't know what was going on. I managed to calm him down and bring him in his room to show him his big boy bed was in his room now, and then this is where Charlie was going to sleep. Brian let Charlie screw in all the boards on the bottom of the bed (Charlie thought that was WAY awesome). We put on his new mattress and his new sheets and blankets. Charlie was super excited and was more then happy to lay in his bed with his sister. He seemed to be adjusting well to the new bed, and I thought we had completed our mission....I was wrong.

When it was time to go to bed for real Charlie was not having it. He didn't want his new bed, or his new blankets. Brian had to lay down with Charlie until he fell asleep. It all proved to be too much for him, the change wasn't as easy as I thought it had been. He was having issues transitioning from his old bed to the new. But he did do it. It may have had it's rough moments, but in the end he did fall asleep. And the great news? He slept ALL. NIGHT. LONG!!! Charlie has NEVER slept through the night!

I am just so proud of Charlie. He amazes me everyday, and there isn't a moment that goes by that I am thankful that I have him in my life.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Holiday Spirit.

So most of my friends know I have been lacking the Holiday spirit for some time now. I just can not get into the whole Holiday hustle and bustle. Well I finally found it.

I have been searching for the meaning of the holiday for my family when it hit me this morning. Our meaning of the Holiday is simply that we are lucky to be a whole family.

I have been Following another mama's blog since May of this year. Her dear Henry passed away shortly after I started following her blog, Henry was a victim of a severe assault and a drug over dose. I have cried countless times reading her blog and face book posts. My heart has broken along with countless others for her and her family.

Shortly after Henry passed her friend started "Henry's Travels". Everyone around the world would write Henry's name on a piece of paper, paint it on rocks, draw it in the sand, and then take a picture. Henry has even been to the south pole on a weather balloon . I have been so inspired to take part in Henry's travels, but I just couldn't think of anything clever. Until last night.

I was reading her posts about how hard the Holiday's were going to be with out Henry, and started to think. Well Henry can still be apart of the holidays....

So I purpose to you my dear friends and readers. When you are decorating your house and your tree for this special holiday please include Henry. Write his name in lights, string a popcorn in his name, write his name on a piece of paper, whatever it may be, and take a picture. Take a picture and send it to me, or to Katie herself. She is on Facebook as well. Her name is Katie Granju.

I want Katie to know that Henry still lives on, even in the Holiday season. Take a moment to remember Henry and his story. You can see his story here .

This is extremely important to me, and very special. Please don't take this lightly. We will be decorating with Henry in our hearts this Holiday season, please do the same.

Thank you!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Happy Birthday Charlie!

So Today was Charlie's 3rd Birthday. I wanted him to have an amazing day. Brian took the week before off and Charlie's birthday so we could spend all day as a family and just hang out. The morning was pretty Decent.

Brian and I took Charlie to buy Thomas the train balloons for his party at his school, and then out to lunch. We had a great time, it was fun to hang out with just Charlie and have our attention just on him. Brian took Charlie to school, and I went and picked up his cupcakes.

To say I was excited for Charlie's party in his class room was an understatement. This was something I have been dreaming of doing with Charlie, and it was finally coming true.

When it was snack time we were invited in. Charlie's teachers, Brian, my mom, my dad and I all sang happy birthday to Charlie as he held his fake foam birthday cake. It was great to see his little smile. He then handed a balloon to each of his friends and they all had cupcakes. It was awesome to share this with his teachers. While none of the kids understood what was going on, or why they got balloons it was still wonderful to share it with them.

The rest of Charlie's birthday was touch an go. I picked up Charlie from school, and on the way home he fell asleep. Brian and my father set up Charlie's Birthday present, and when Charlie woke up he was more then happy. Although wasn't happy to leave it shortly after to go to dinner.

Dinner was interesting, and so was everything after that. It was just a very busy day, and a very hard day.

I wish I could sit here and type about how happy I was, and how great of a day it was. But honestly speaking I wasn't. I don't know how to sugar coat my true feelings here. I am lost on what to write for Charlie's Birthday post, so I'm just doing a rather short time line of the day.

Charlie turning 3 is a huge milestone. We have another year under our belt, and our first year of Charlie being officially Diagnosed as High Functioning Autistic behind us.

This past year has been hard. I want to write of fond memories of Charlie's babyhood and "remember when's"... but honestly when I do, they aren't fond. I think of Charlie's babyhood and see how much he missed out. It was like the first year of his life never happened. With Charlie being so sick he never got the chance to enjoy the little things around him, he never got to explore.

But now that he is 3, boy is he making up for lost time!!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

It's time!

It is every parents dream when their child potty learns. It's when the diaper laundry or diaper buying ends, and a chapter of crazy childhood begins. We were told that Charlie wouldn't be able to potty learn until he was at least 4. We have been told that most autistic kids potty learn between 4-5 years old. So we prepared ourselves for the long haul, and told ourselves that it would be a hard road but we will make it.

Last Monday- October 11th 2010- My little boy proclaimed "HELP me!" and when we asked him with what, he ran to the bathroom and said "POOT!" That was *the* first time he used the potty on his own free will. We have tried sitting him on the potty earlier in his life to start the process, but it always failed.

This whole week Charlie has been using the potty more and more. We are so proud of him. He is asking to use the potty, and is now starting to insist that his 1 1/2 year old sister sit on the potty too.

It is SO completely amazing to be starting this journey with Charlie. To be there for him and to support him when he needs it.

This week was a big week for us for another reason. I remember last year when I told Brian that I would give *Anything* to hear Charlie talk. I would do anything to have a conversation with him, and for him to be engaged in our life. Yesterday we went to the pumpkin patch and all day we heard nothing but "Punkin, Punkin" Where ever he saw one it was "Punkin!"So Yesterday after noon we were loading up in the car to go to the park, and after hearing the hundredth time of him proclaiming "punkin!" I said "Charlie! Will you please be quite!! I can not take one more punkin!!"

After I realized what I had said, I just busted out laughing. My husband was standing on the other side of the car and just smiled at me. It was just so funny. I remember a year ago proclaiming I would never tell Charlie to be quite when he started talking, that he could talk all day long, and that I would love every minute of it. And now, a year later I am telling Charlie to be quite!

Charlie turns 3 on Monday, and here he is potty learning and driving me crazy! I absolutely love it!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Art work on my fridge.

As a mom of an High functioning autistic (almost) 3 year old I decided a while ago I would home school Charlie and any siblings he may have because the kids in the public school system are so mean these days. I didn't want Charlie to be held behind, picked on, teased etc., So when Charlie Started his preschool class Sept 8th I was a little anxious for him, and wasn't sure it was the right choice for him. Boy was I wrong!!! I know that when being a mom, following your gut is one of the best things you should do, and you should never ignore it. But I did, and I'm glad. Charlie's been in school for 1 month and LOVES it. In his class there is 5-6 boys (all boy class!) all the same age. There is 1 teacher per child so they are able to give them the help and support they all need. His school is 2 1/2 hours long and by the end you can tell he is exhausted.

My favorite part is the Artwork. My Fridge is COVERED in them!! It brings a little bit of normal into our lives, and shows us how far Charlie really has come. About 6 months ago Charlie couldn't even scribble a line. I am so incredibly proud of Charlie. Here is just some of his art work! (Daddy has some at work, so this isn't all!)

This is a picture of a drawing Charlie did Back in Feb. You can see that he was still stabbing the marker into the paper, and the lines that were drawn had no purpose and generally go from one dot to the next.

This was last week!! Look how far he has come!!I am so proud of him!!

One of Charlie's downfalls is that he has weak hands. Most Autistic Kids do. It's hard for them to do simple things like use scissors. So In class they practice cutting out shapes (with LOTS of teacher help) and gluing them on the paper!!


Charlie has made a couple friends in his class. It is quite cute! He is Friends with two little boys Rocco, and Aiden. The way they play is not the typical child play. Their version of playing is sitting next to each other and looking at books, or cars. Last week Rocco sat next to Charlie and they looked through the musical instrument box. There were small moments of eye contact and they showed each other different things. It was the most brilliant moment. I really did want to cry. Charlie was connecting with someone who understood him. They didn't have to talk or sign for communication. They communicated in their own way.

To be honest at first I was slightly jealous. In that moment I could see the Rocco and Charlie understood each other, and they knew what each other wanted. It was just so peaceful and quite. No one was crying, throwing tantrums, or being mean. They just quietly sat there, next to each other and played. I wanted that connection with Charlie. But as I waited for Charlie to get out of school I thought about ways to get that connection with Charlie, and I realized I can't. As a mom I am always looking for ways to connect with my children, and to be in their world. But sometimes as a mom it's best that I just stay out. Charlie needs his special bonds with certain people. I want him to have that special bond with Rocco, so they can rely on each other when the time comes.

Not being able to understand their world is so hard. There is still so much that I do not understand, and possibly will never understand. I just have to keep reminding myself, that while Charlie and I share a special connection, it's not the same, nor can it be the same as any other connection he makes with people. Each relationship is different, and it needs to be that way. He knows people by their relationships with him. A great example is lately he has been labeling the people in his life. He know's (FINALLY!!!!) I am Mama, Brian is Daddy, Amelia is Meme, And He is Charlie. He calls both my parents "Papa". The only logic I can come up with is that his relationship with both my parents is the same. They both rough house with him, cuddle with him, eat with him, and treat him the same. Their role in his life is the same, so they must be the same person right? We are working on getting him to call my mom something else (Not sure what yet), but it's been difficult.

Charlie's progress is been amazing. He is starting to talk in small senstences. The other day we were in line at the coffee shop, and he knows that he always gets a smoothie when we go. Well this day he was being impatient and grunting and whining because he wasn't getting his smoothie ASAP. I turned around and said
"Excuse me Charlie, What do you say if you want your smoothie?!"
And he said "Ooooh!! Give my juice please!"

I KID YOU NOT!! It was so awesome!! It's moments like this that I wish I had a tape recorder playing at all times so I can catch these moments that he is in our world and functioning. It makes my heart smile :)

I just love moments that we are able to connect. It's like the two worlds collide and we create our own world for a moment in time.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Love

When I sat down to type this entry I wanted to talk about Charlie's progress, how far he has come from the little boy he was last year. I wanted to talk about his language skills, his social skills, I wanted to talk about the good part of Autism. The Part we love.

But as I sit here and type, and I can't but type with a sad, heavy heart. Charlie has made great strides, and progress. He is doing *AMAZING* and is starting to grow into his own little self. But with holiday's nearing I just can't help but feel sad. This year will be just like last year, and the year before. Charlie won't know what his birthday is, or what it means. He will not understand Halloween, or Thanksgiving. He won't know this year that on Christmas morning to be excited about the presents left under the tree from mom and dad. He just won't. It hurts - in every sense- that my little boy won't get to enjoy the Holiday's.

I have many great friends that tell me that in due time Charlie will get there, One day he will understand. Maybe next year! I know I should be grateful for the progress that we have had thus far, and I am. Please don't get me wrong. But my heart aches. I want to throw Charlie the big birthday party with the Thomas theme. I want to invite everyone we know over and have a party so big that is causes the neighbors to be annoyed. I want to spend so much money on food, and decorations, toys, and stupid things that I will have to take out a loan. I want Charlie to see how many people truly love him, for him. Autistic or not.

But just like last year we will have to quietly celebrate the day he was born into this world. I know most people won't understand. and I don't expect them to. It's just as a mom, I look forward to their birthdays. It holds a very dear meaning to me. It's a time in my life when I became a woman, a mom. And I want to celebrate that day with love and happiness in the most crazy outrageous way.

But we can't. Instead we will probably just hang out, maybe have cake and sing a song, and Charlie will be completely clueless the whole time. I guess if I haven't been around children on their birthday's it wouldn't bother me. But I have seen my Nephew and Niece grow, and become more and more excited as each Birthday rolls in. I love the over flow of energy they get, and the smiles that are glued on their face for the whole day. I love how they are so happy to have their friends with them, and the crazier the better. I want Charlie to feel what they feel.

I know it seems selfish, that I'm not accepting of Charlie. When really I am. I love him more then anyone could imagine. It can just be hard to want something for your child so much, but you know they will never want it.

As I'm typing this out and shedding a tear or two I actually feel a lot better. It feels good to finally say that I am disappointed that I *may* never get to throw Charlie a big blow out party- but let me tell you, the day he tells me he wants one, it will be the biggest party in history, and I'm sure the neighbors will complain.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

I will come back to edit.

Words and Phrases Charlie knows and says

Please
Thank you
Bye
Hi
Ick
Need
Mama said
I want
Bless you
Mommy
Daddy
Milk
Cup
More
Meme
Walk
Outside
Cat (Cow)
Dog
Nannie
Shoe
Bath(Back)
Blanket
Sissy
Thomas
Percy
James
Emily (Emmy)
Night night
No
Stuck
Binky (binkum)
This
Help
Ow
Lets go
Your turn
See you soon
Car
Ball
Train
Don't know
I say
Whats that?
Papa
Grandma

If you didn't want to count.... thats 46 words/phrase's!! last year he could only say 4 words. 6 months ago he would only say 10!!!

I am so incredibly proud of Charlie.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Have you ever?



So I know this is a little off topic, but have you ever just looked at a picture that made your heart swell with happiness that you shed a little tear?

Well I have two for tonight. But a little back story---

So today was Charlie's first classroom experience. It was actually a lot of fun. The Class consist of 4 other boys, around the age of Charlie. One boy has the same birthday as Charlie. All are on the spectrum on some form. It was nice to connect with other moms, and just sit back and laugh at how silly our boys really are. We got to enjoy their squeals, and hand flapping. We got to enjoy the screeching of excitement and support each other throu
gh the hard tantrums. It was actually more enjoyable then I thought it would be. On the way home from school the song "You make me smile " From Uncle Kracker Came on the radio. I turned it up as high as we could stand, and we sang our hearts out. Whenever I hear this song I think of Charlie. Memories from his birth until now flash through my brain, and I can't help but smile.

Here are the Lyrics--
You´re better then the best, 
I´m lucky just to linger in your light
 Cooler then the flip side of my pillow 
that´s right Completely unaware 
Nothing can compare to where you send me 
Lets me know that it´s ok 
yeah it´s ok 
And the moments where my good times start to fade 
 You make me smile like the sun
 Fall out of bed sing like bird 
Dizzy in my head spin like a record
 Crazy on a Sunday night 
You make me dance like a fool
 Forget how to breathe
 Shine like gold, buzz like a bee
 Just the thought of you can drive me wild, Ohh you make me smile  
Even when you´re gone, Somehow you come along 
Just like a flower poking through the sidewalk crack and just like that 
You steal away the rain and just like that  
You make me smile like the sun
 Fall out of bed sing like bird 
Dizzy in my head spin like a record
 Crazy on a Sunday night 
You make me dance like a fool 
Forget how to breathe
 Shine like gold, buzz like a bee 
Just the thought of you can drive me wild Ohh you make me smile  
Don´t know how I lived without you 
Cuz everytime that I get around you, I see the best of me inside your eyes 
You make me smile 
You make me dance like a fool, Forget how to breathe 
Shine like gold, buzz like a bee 
Just the thought of you can drive me wild  
You make me smile like the sun
Fall out of bed, sing like bird
 Dizzy in my head spin like a record 
Crazy on a Sunday night You make me dance like a fool 
Forget how to breathe 
Shine like gold, buzz like a bee 
Just the thought of you can drive me wild Ohh you make me smile 
And here is the Youtube link : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffej15-Dgl0

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

I so wish I could say that and mean it. It's been kind of a rough day for Charlie. I expected it. I really did. People started lighting off fireworks around 2pm today. I knew all the different booms and crackles would eventually get to Charlie. What I didn't expect is the Airplanes flying over our house at 9 AM.

Charlie started out the morning crying. I have no idea why, but I have a feeling that it was because yesterday was a tough day. It was full of changes.

Yesterday was his Gymnastics class. After the first class he knew the routine. We would start out in the foam pit, stretch, do the first routine, then jump on the trampoline, do the second routine, and finish with the foam pit. So Yesterday morning we were getting him ready, talking to him about his gymnastic's class, and getting him prepared for the day. Well we get there, and instead of heading to the pit, we go to the other side of the gym. We played a game instead. The kids had to put the same colored balls into the same colored hula hoop. Charlie started out okay. Did a couple, and then was done. He had a few melt downs, and wouldn't stretch. Once we got into the regular routines he did great. At the end he had a BLAST in the foam pit, We had a hard time getting him out. LOL!

The rest of the day was shot, we ran a bunch of errands and was out and about most of the day. The only normal thing we did yesterday was his Gymnastics class. So I knew today was gonna be a rough one.

So fast forward to today. Fireworks going off since 1-2pm. Charlie is on Sensory overload. I just feel so bad for him. I wish we could enjoy this Holiday with him like we have before. I know as he get's older his SPD will get worse, and things we have done in the past, we won't be able to do until much later.

I was really hoping this year we could take both kids to the festival here in Canby and just Enjoy the day as a family. I just hate being disappointed when we aren't able to do things. I try really hard to get Charlie out of his comfort zone, and try new things. But there comes a point were it goes from helping Charlie to hurting Charlie.

I just wished that everyone understood that.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

So my last post at the end I said "Our Autism Journey isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain. I have thought about this for a little while now wondering what this means to me, and what does it mean to our family.

This simple but powerful quote means so much. This Journey we are taking is like a storm. Most of the time it is dark, and unknowing. Sometimes there is loud thunder and Crashing lighting. These are Charlie's hardest moments, these are moments when all hell seems to break loose and the sweet little boy that we know as Charlie gets lost in this child that just can't control or help the screaming, thrashing, tantrums. There is lots of rain. There are points in the storm where you can see the sun peak through, and a ray of sunshine breaks through the clouds and you can see in the distance the ray of sunshine hitting the fields. These are days when Charlie learns new things, he breaks through the darkness of his Sensory issues and Autism and you see the REAL Charlie. The little boy that is stuck inside.

Through this storm we have learned SO much about what it means to be a parent, a partner, a wife, a husband, and a support system.

Even though this Storm is scary, hard, confusing, and even joyful, We dance in the rain every chance we get. The rain shows up when Charlie is getting ready to come through with his bright smiles, hugs, kisses, and laughs. We learned that when it rains we step outside, we feel every drop hit our face, run down our cheeks, and on to our clothes, that we are human, and Charlie is our guiding light.

Oh Charlie!

So it is not a secret that Charlie's Childhood was full of pain. He was constantly sick with respiratory stuff, got weird colds, and was constantly constipated. When he was younger Brian and I would say to each other "I can't wait until he can tell us WHERE it hurts so we can fix it" Well it seemed like that day would never come. Charlie would just cry for hours and hours on end, screaming, biting, hitting his head. It was always a guessing game. At first it was the normal is he hungry, wet, cold, etc., Then as he got older is was "Does his head hurt? Does his mouth hurt? Smell his ears, does he have an infection?" The list of things got bigger and bigger to check out before we would figure out the cause of the screams, and most times we never did.

When Charlie falls down or hurts himself, he will tell you "ow" and either rub his end or look at his finger, or part that he had scrapped or banged on something. We have worked with him for SOO long to try and get us to tell him 'HURT!" instead of just screams. I know I say this a lot, but I honestly thought it would be YEARS before Charlie would tell us that something hurt.

Well folks, he's done it! I am soooo excited, but also sad because he hurts and I don't know how to fix it. But He is telling me that his tummy hurts. We have gone BACK to the GFCF diet and that is when his tummy started to hurt. I don't know if because he ate so much, or he isn't eating enough? We are trying to get to the Dr. but insurance has changed and it might take a couple days to get there. BUT that's besides the point.

The point is, is that he comes up to me LIFTS up his shirts, TOUCHES his stomach and SAYS "HURTS MAMA!"

I am so proud that Charlie is working sooo hard through all his sensory problems. We acknowledge the pain and try to do things for him. But he just walks away from us and continues on with playing. To say I'm PROUD would be a complete understatement.

Also he is having some sleeping issues. He slept in his bean bag last night. I'm not sure how safe that is, but it was the only way he could get comfy and fall asleep. I got up through out the night to check on him, I did put him in his bed, only for him to wake up later and call for Brian to put him back in his bean bag. He seemed to sleep pretty well while in the bag, so I think as long as it doesn't cover his face it is okay?

Charlie is starting to Dress and Undress himself. It really is quite cool. We are going to try and let him pick out what he wants to wear. Just so he gets that he does have the freedom of wearing what he wants. He's doing really well. Once his legs are in the holes he can pull up his pants/shorts, He can take off his shirt and put it on with some assistance. He can put his Croc's on with encouragement, and little instruction , ON THE RIGHT FEET none the less. Awesome!!

Charlie has also started discovering body parts. While this is also AWESOME, it can kind of be a challenge. Here's the most recent story:

So last week Charlie discovered his nipples after a dip in their kiddie pool. He was cold and he was starting to nip. He looked down and said "OOOoooH!!! Ow!" And touched them. He did this several times, while I just laughed. After I got the giggles under control I told Charlie "Those are your nipples! Now lets put on a shirt, Your cold!" And left it at that. Every once and awhile he would re-discover them and exclaim "ooooo!!" We have alway acknowledged his new found body part, and then moved on. Well Yesterday the kids where running around in nothing but Diapers when all of a sudden Charlie noticed Amelia had nipples too! He ran over and proclaimed "OoOoooO!! COOL!!!" and started touching them. lol! I tried explaining to Charlie that while it is okay to touch our own bodies and explore our selves, it is not nice to explore other people. I don't think he really understood because after a couple times of Charlie rushing over to Amelia to see her nipples, I put a shirt on Amelia. Several times I caught him lifting up her shirt. I know it's totally innocent and totally cute, But I want him to learn that it's not nice to lift up peoples shirts to look at their nipples! LOL!

He has just grown SO much in these last 6 months that I am starting to forget that at one point he had no language at the age of 2. I am just so incredibly proud of him, and am so humbled to be his mommy.

There was a quote on an Autism Board I am apart of that totally describes how we feel as a family right now,

"Our Autism journey isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain"


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Long update!

So I am finally going to sit down and update about Charlie! There is SO much to talk about, so it might take a while to read!

I have been struggling with ideas and ways to teach Charlie. I have been so concerned on what the best way for him to learn would be, that in honesty I wasn't teaching him much. I was still showing him new things, but not in a way that he should be shown. Then Brian and I went to the Conference. Eveything that Dr. Grandin said NOT to do, I was doing. I was focused on the label. I would think to myself "Well I can't do this because Charlie is Autistic" She said "Don't get caught up on Labels" And I was. I didn't realize at the time that I was.... But I was. I wanted to protect Charlie from the things he didn't like and would set him off, because I didn't want him to go through his childhood hating things. I wouldn't let Charlie help cook because I was afraid of "What if he didn't like the texture, and then he wouldn't eat anything at all!!"

I was oblivious to the fact that maybe Charlie WANTED to touch his food, play with it, feel it in different ways. So after the conference I threw everything I was doing out the window, and started anew.

Charlie has helped make cookies, and dinner, and to say He LOVED it would be a understatement! I did not realize how much he enjoyed it, until I looked at the pictures I took. He really did enjoy it. He loved Cracking the eggs, and mixing the flours. He loved filling the measuring cups and pouring them into the bowl. We were talking an laughing the whole time. I gave him different things to use to stir with. I gave him beaters, whisks, spoons, forks, etc., and he picked what he liked best. It was such a learning experience for the both of us.

Charlie's intolerance to Gluten and Dairy seem to be slowly going away. He has had over the past week a couple things with some gluten in them. He hasn't acted any different then normal. Which gives me hope that he will be able to eat some different foods here soon. I do not plan on taking Charlie off the GFCFYF diet at all, But this at least gives us a little room to breathe.

He is also really starting to eat. A LOT. He is using his fork and spoon fantastically and is trying his hardest to have manners at the table. We don't request a lot from him. But he knows when he should say "Thank you" and if he wants down, he knows he can get down. Meals are ALWAYS a work in progress, but by taking Dr. Grandin's Advice and letting him play with his food, and cooking it before hand, then require manners at the table makes a WORLD of difference.

Charlie has been talking a ton lately. He is gaining new words every day it seems like. He is up to 20 words right now. I am SO incredibly proud of him. He is just doing so well.

Charlie is currently OBSESSED with Thomas the Train movies. His favorites are Percy, James, and Toby. He knows their names, and what they look like. We recently have lost James (He says Kime) and he is know where to be found. He asks about him at least every 30 minutes or so. "Where's Kime?!" And then we search more. It's fantastic!

It's kind of funny how much I love the 2 year old in him. Some parents would give up and go buy a new train, or tell them it's lost forever. But I really do enjoy looking for the lost train. It's like we connect. We hold hands, go to a room, and while I'm looking in one spot I can say "Charlie look under your bed!" And he DOES IT! He listens and follows directions. It really is awesome.

He is starting to follow directions more and more these days. It really is a blessing. He is teaching Amelia how to get her shoes when we are getting ready to go. I can tell him "Charlie help meme get her shoes!" And he takes her by her hand and helps her get her shoes. I honestly thought that Charlie wouldn't be teaching Amelia things, but she would be his teacher. Just goes to show how wrong I was!

Amelia and Charlie are literally two peas in a pod. I thought that one would hate the other or be jealous of each other ( sometimes meme is when I'm trying to calm Charlie down) but really they are best of friends. I'm sure they would sleep in the same bed if we let them.

Charlie is experimenting with lots of different things lately. Generally he hates things on his head. Like he will freak out if you put anything on it such as like headphones, hats, the hood on his coat etc., Definitely not a fan, until recently. Brian and I where cleaning out our closet and found some old baseball hats that I had gotten at a concert WAY back when we were dating. I tossed the hat on the floor when Charlie grabbed it and put it on. He wore it all day. He though it was THE coolest thing. Since then he has tried on meme's sun hats, his construction hat, beanies, baseball hats etc., He is really into trying them on and walking around, looking at himself in the mirror and making faces. Of course he can not be prompted to do this, he has to be random and at his choosing. And honestly I'm okay with that, because this is progress. He is trying new things, different textures, and pressures. He is doing it at his pace.

We are still working on getting Charlie to dress himself. It definitely is going to take time, but he is progressing well. He can zip up his coat now, but still needs help with putting his arms in the right holes.

Charlie turns 3 in less than 4 months. I honestly can't believe it. He is growing in leaps and bounds, and I am the luckiest mom in the world to have him for my son. He truly is an inspiration.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Meeting my Hero


Today Brian and I went to an Autism Conference here in Oregon. It was put on by Future Horizons and the guest speaker was Temple Grandin. I have been looking forward to this for MONTHS.
It was such an amazing experience, that I must start at the beginning.

Back in January of this year I had a dear friend tell me I needed to google "Temple Grandin" She was an Autistic woman who became successful and that she thought I would really benefit from her. I kinda waved her off and told her that I was too "busy" to try and deal with researching one more thing that dealt with Autism. I was up to my eye brows in research from google and Charlie's therapist's that I honestly didn't need or want one more thing to read.

Ironically a couple days later one of Charlie's Therapist had mentioned this Temple character again. At that moment I thought to myself "I might as well have my whole head under water" and googled it.

I did not realize how much she would change my life. I read a little about her and then ordered almost all of her books. I still have 3 books of hers I still need to read, but life with an Autistic two year old you don't get much down time.

So when her books came in the mail, I read, and read and read. Temple showed me a side of Charlie that I never would have known. She taught me things that no other google search or therapist has yet taught me. Through her books, she taught me to connect to my little boy that I though I wouldn't ever be able to connect with.

So once I found out that she was going to be in town, I bought tickets. Fast forward to months of waiting. This morning I woke up at 5 AM, made the kids their breakfast muffins, and got ready to go. We had to leave the house by 6:30 to get there in time to check in, eat a little breakfast, and see what books and tools they where selling.

Fast forward- We are in the hotel, already checked in, I was feeling pretty nervous, and had high anxiety. I not only was going to meet my hero, but I was leaving m
y kids for one full day (YIKES!) So Brian and I where standing at the end of the book line, looking at some children's books that explain bullying, why Children on the spectrum are different when we heard an "Excuse me".

That's right folks, it was Temple Grandin herself!

All night I had been rehearsing my speech that I would say to her if I got to meet her, and it went a little something like this

"Dr. Grandin I just wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have helped me connect with my son that I thought would be lost forever, You have given me the courage and strength to take this journey with him, and you have give my family hope. Thank you so much"

Want to know what I did instead?

I cried.

Yep... like a baby. Talk about EMBARRASSING! I tried to regain composer, and when I turned around she was talking to other moms about their children, but just couldn't. Instead Brian and I went to our seats and ate our breakfast.

A short while later Dr. Grandin started her speech, she talked for about an hour and a half. It was so insightful. I took lots of notes, and hung on every word. Once it was break time I figured I had enough courage to speak to her, to say something, anything. So, I got in line. I was the last person in line to meet her, and again, nothing came out. I was so overwhelmed with emotions, that all I could say was "Thank You" as she signed my paper.

The next speaker was Paula Aquilla. Her speech was on Building Bridges through Sensory Integration. It was VERY interesting. A tid bit long, but so informative. Gave me more insights into why Charlie does this things he does. There was one more speaker after Mrs. Aquilla, Her name was Britt Collins. Ms. Collins talked about OT in school and the In's and outs.

The whole thing was just so completely overwhelming with information, that I am completely Exhausted. I now have new tools to use with Charlie and feel re-energized to get him on the right track again. Today was a total make over -sort to speak- for me. It gave me fresh ideas on how to teach Charlie, and set in stone the things we have been doing.

Here are some pics from the conference.

My lovely Breakfast

People waiting to see Dr. Grandin

Dr. Grandin Signing Books and Answering Questions

You can see the massive line. There was about 200 people attending.

Dr. Grandin

Friday, May 28, 2010

Brilliant!

Charlie's Vocab is literally growing by the day. I am so impressed with him. I want to get this all written down so I remember what he is saying in case of regression. So here are the words and phrases Charlie can say willingly. Note- These are the ONLY things he can say.

-He know's his Alphabet
-He knows his numbers up to 9
-He can Greet (Hello, Hi, Bye, See you soon, night night)
-He gives kisses
-He can say "Your turn" in proper context
-He knows manners (Please, Thank you, More(knows the sign for more))
-He knows people (mom, dad, papa, grandma, Nannie (the dog))
-He knows "i don't know" (not sure if he understands this, but it sure is cute!)
-He knows "Whats that" and "I say..." "It's a...."
-He knows objects (Car, Ball,)
-He knows somewhat Inside and outside. Still working on it.
-He can point, and get a spoon when he wants food. He brings his cup when he is thirsty.
-He can follow single commands- "Sit on your bottom" "Get your coat," Get your shoes", Get your Bink ( he can also say Binkum for his Pacifier)
-He knows animals (Frog, Kitty (he can meow), Dog)
-He know's Actions (Go, Stop(working on stop ;) )
-And he LOVES talking on the phone with his Pop Pop (my father)

Charlie has grown in leaps and bounds over these last few months. I am really enjoying this stage in his life. He is learning new things everyday, and keeps me on my toes.

He is definitely a 2 year old! He is Crazy and pushing the limits. We are also finding out that more and more things are starting to bother Charlie. The lights in most stores seem to set him off about 5-10 minutes in the store. We are trying to teach him how to tell us when something is bothering him. But it's like mixing oil with water. He is not willing to learn it at this moment, so we must not push.

Charlie LOVES to sing. His new favorite song is by a kid, Justin Bieber. I personally can stand the song. Nothing is wrong with it, just his voice drives me crazy, but to Charlie it's like heaven. We listen to it several times a day. He sings the song all day even when we aren't listening to it.
Here is a video of him rockin out to it.


video

Although I hate the song, I still play it as much as Charlie wants. I love hearing him sing and watching him Dance. Amelia gets in on the action too, and she is just as cute as her brother!

Amelia still seems to be opening Charlie up. He mimics her and follows her around the house all day. He is engaging in play with her and gets upset when she is sleeping or doesn't want to play. It's pretty awesome.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Pssst.....

What a week. It has defiantly had it's up's and downs. Last week Amelia got sick, then a couple days later I got sick, then Brian, and then Charlie. Anyone who know's an autistic toddler knows that when they are sick, they regress. Some kids regress more then others, and it takes longer for them to rebound and come back to their "normal"

So it's been 6 days since Charlie was sick. and today has been BY FAR the worst day. He has been stimmin SO hard. He is getting more and more sensitive to noises, lights, touch, smells, everything.


Today was so frustrating. He's two so he loves to explore, get in and play in the dirt. But he's also autistic, so the minute dirt or anything touches his hands, he FREAKS out. Screaming at the highest pitch possible until I wash his hands. Oh but wait!! Now water temperature freaks him out too. Can't be too hot or too cold.

So today Charlie was having a "i'm gonna lay on the floor and stare off into space" moment, and I said "pssst.....Charlie" he didn't respond so I said "Hey Charlie....pssst.... Your autism is showing," and in the smallest voice he said "yeah. love you"

Totally broke my heart. I was totally kidding, but it's like he understood and was apologizing.

I don't want Charlie to ever feel sorry for who he is. I want him to embrace it. But those feelings lead me to this question. Should we ever tell Charlie he is Autistic? Or should we just wait for him to ask us why he is different?

I know we probably won't tell him until he is old enough to understand, but it's the whole telling versus asking. Parent hood is hard but it's nothing like having a 2 year old Autistic boy.... Never a dull moment!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

New Horizons!

I for sure thought these days would never come, especially this yearly. I was warned from the day Charlie was Diagnosed that he probably wouldn't potty learn until he was around 3-4 years old. I had it set in my mind that we would be stuck in diapers forever.

Once again Charlie has amazed us all! He is on the road to Potty learning! I announces each time that he goes "pee" and brings me a cloth dipe to change him. We are working on having him pull his pants down, but it seems to be a pretty big issue for him, so we will probably just keep him pant less at home and slowly teach him how to pull them up and down. Another hurtle is he HATES the feel of the toilet seat. So Brian is going to teach him how to pee standing up. We are going to go buy him a little stool this weekend and get started on it. I can't believe he is 2 1/2 and ready to learn the potty! I am so incredibly proud of him!

Oh and if that wasn't enough learning for a week, he learned how to CLIMB out of his crib!! The story is actually pretty cute...

I was sitting in the front room trying to get miss Amelia to fall asleep, when from Charlie's room I just hear taking and jabbering. I went in to take his toys away ( he usually sleeps with a car or 5) and told him it was WAY past his bed time and needed to go to sleep. He would see daddy in the morning (Brian was taking a test) , kissed him goodnight and shut his door. He did the typical screaming at me and telling me no. Then it got quite. I figured he had probably settled down and would go check in a minute as Amelia *just* fell asleep. I heard the door handle rattle and a door open, I thought Brian was home and was ready to pass off Amelia and head to bed, when a little boy walked out of his room, threw up his arms and proclaimed "TA-DAAAAAAAAA!!!!!"

He was so proud of himself! I couldn't help but giggle, but told him that he couldn't do that and it was time for sleep. Yeah so did not work. He continued to climb out of his crib 4 more times. Finally I just let him stay up until Brian got home. Charlie finally stayed in his bed around 11pm. We put up a baby gate just in case he got out again, we didn't want him escaping the house.

I am mentally not prepared for all these new challenges that are ahead of us. This defiantly is the door way to an new chapter in Charlie's life, and some way some how I need to get prepared!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

It's been awhile!

Sorry Everyone! It's been a CRAZY month. Amelia turned one April 3rd. We threw a HUGE party for her. Charlie did amazing with so many people at the house. He had a couple rough days afterwards, but we expected it.

Charlie seems to be progression at such a fast pace! He is talking more and more. His Vocab is defiantly getting bigger. I am so grateful that he is starting to talk. While none of it is useful in his daily life, it is will amazing. By useful I mean he still can not vocalize that he is hungry, thirsty, or wants something. He is getting better as in he goes into the kitchen and will stand there and sign for "more" Which is a HUGE step, but figuring out what he wants is still a challenge.

Last month I made Charlie some flash cards that has the Alphabet on it. He learned his ABC's in 1 day. He now points at everything and says what letter he see's. The linoleum in the front hallway is a big distraction for Charlie. He is CONSTANTLY pointing out the X's and I's in the pattern (Sometimes we don't see it until he points it out) When taking a shower (he prefers showers over baths) the water droplets on the sides are O's. He is so incredibly smart in that he can find a letter in anything. He LOVES reading T-shirts. His current favorite letters are X's, and W's . He says them pretty well too!

Charlie is starting to learn animal sounds. After 2 years of telling him "Cat's say Meow, and Dogs say RUFF!" It finally clicked. He only does it to the cats, but he will say "This is kitty! MEOW!" and now when he see's the cat he runs over SCREAMING "MEOW!!!" So freaking cute!!

He is starting to show more signs of Autism. His coping skills in public are decreasing. He is also starting to spin a lot more. I know it's to be expected as he gets older, but it doesn't make it an easier to deal with.

We are starting to connect with support groups, and other families of Autistic Children, and it really makes me grateful that Charlie is so high functioning. I am lucky to have such beautiful children.


Friday, April 2, 2010

Just a Few!


Just a few of our Family and Friends showing their support!!

Charlie and Daddy Wearing Blue!

Cade and Mads Wearing Blue!!
My sister, Erin, Cade and Mads!
Our friends from England!! Peter, Ben ( who is the same age as Charlie!) And Scarlett!
And Jenn's hot legs and Feet.....

Cami from CC Bums Shows her support too!!

Happy Autism Awareness Month!

Yesterday was the first day of Autism Awareness month!! Today everyone is supposed to wear blue in support of those who have Autism. I have been spamming my friends and family, telling them all to wear blue today, and to show their support for Charlie. I asked for them to take pictures and post them on Facebook, I wanted to see their support since all my friends live all over the world, and my family is spread out over Oregon, California and Washington!

I am so grateful for all of the support we have. My sister text messaged me a photo of herself and my nephew Caiden, and niece Maddie. They were all wearing blue! I honestly didn't expect the reaction I had. I started Crying, and then I jumped on Face Book and there they were!! Sporting the blue! Of course I started to cry even more. I was not expecting myself to cry. I really wasn't. I just forget how much support we have, whether it's big or small, we still have it.

I am just so lucky and thankful that I have such supporting friends and family!

I remember when we first started this journey. I remember Charlie's 18 month check up (which was a year ago in a couple of weeks) that our Dr. told us to get him evaluated. This past year has had SO many up's and downs, and full of moments where our heart swelled with pride, and ached with sadness. I'm taking this day to reflect back on our year, and how much everything has changed. Charlie has grown and changed so much. He is such an amazing little boy. But most of all Brian and I have changed. We are better parents because of him. He makes us want to do things (like work out..... ) to better ourselves.

Charlie, YOU are my hero, YOU are my sunshine on a cloudy day, YOU are the most hard working person I know. I love you babes!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Black and White

Lately I have been thinking a lot. I know it's dangerous.... but just read on....

Amelia is turning 1 next week, so I'm having that time of reflecting on the past year and remembering when she was just born. How different everything was then. When Amelia was born Charlie was 1 1/2. We knew something wasn't quite right with him, but me just having a newborn I was in denial. I kept telling myself that he was just unique, and every child is different. Shoot, My siblings and I could not be any more different! Charlie was just a different child, and that was okay.

Watching Charlie grow up was quite the experience. After having Amelia and spending this past year watching her grow and develop I have realized how much we missed out on with Charlie. I remember when he turned 1 he got the "Kung Fu Panda" movie from Brian and I for Christmas. He LOVES the movie, and would sit down and watch it from beginning to end. He would not move, at all. We as new parents thought this was normal and didn't think about it. He can still sit through a whole movie today if he likes it.

Now Amelia on the other hand, she has the attention span of a 1 year old. She puts EVERYTHING in her mouth, and LOVES to explore. She is constantly keeping us on our toe's, and she is always getting into something. Charlie never did this. He has always loved his routine, and never explored much. I remember Brian's parents telling us when Charlie first learned how to crawl at the age of 13 months that we were in for it. That he was now on the loose and was going to get into EVERYTHING. He never did. Sure he got into their tuber wear cupboard, but that was about it. Now with Amelia since she is walking she gets into EVERYTHING. And I mean everything. If she can reach it, she's in it. If she can climb up on it, she's already on it. While it's exhausting, it's absolutely wonderful.

Having a baby that isn't on the spectrum is a whole different experience. We sometimes find ourselves looking at each other saying "What do we do with her?" We are not used to so much interaction, that we get lost with her. She's not like in the aspect of is that all Charlie wanted to do was to cuddle up on the couch, or stack things. She mobile baby, and you better believe that she is exploring the world at her finger tips!!

Now that Amelia has found her new independence she is really starting to open Charlie up. He is starting to explore a little more with her, and try new things. It's a little bit at a time, but I see him looking at her and watching her. Kind of like he is studying her moves and actions and taking notes.

Charlie will be 2 1/2 on April 18th. He can only say a handful of words, and communication is still next to nothing. While we are working on it, and it gets better everyday, it is still hard. He is slowly learning how to ask for things with Actions, and is starting to use words. Most of the time it's jibberish, with a few select words you can understand. Great example, I was talking to Brian in the car last night about something Charlie had said early that day when he said " insert jiberish here and here and here GOOD GIRL and more jibberish" . At the moment it was quite amusing, I had been telling Brian that Charlie told Nanny "GOOD GIRL!" While she was chewing on a toy. I had tried explaining to Charlie that Nanny wasn't a "good girl" but indeed a "bad girl" because she was doing something naughty. Of course he had that blank stare that he gets, it's like he's looking through you, not at you. and then he just walked off. So when Charlie chimed in, in the story, it's like he was trying to tell it himself. It was very cute and a moment of clarity. It was wonderful.

Brian and I live for the moments of clarity with Charlie. It makes the bad days worth it. Every time he says a word, it's like hearing him say "dada" for the first time. My heart drops and I can't help but start to cry. It's such a victory moment.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Growing Pains

This morning was a little rough for Charlie. He woke up at 4am crying. I was stuck in dream land, so Brian got up and tried to calm him down. Before I woke up, I heard Charlie crying in my sleep but I was dreaming about him. I had this horrible dream that I was stuck in a maze, I could hear Charlie's screaming and crying but no matter which way I went I was at a dead end in the maze. When I finally woke up and realized that Charlie was crying in real life, I shot out of bed and came out into the front room. It was a pitiful sight.

Brian was sitting in the recliner with Charlie and had started the movie Cars. Charlie was sitting on his lap crying. Brian looked at me with a stressed out look and said "I don't know whats wrong." Charlie put his hands towards me (YAY!! Huge step!) and picked him up. We went and sat on the couch. I laid him down, with his legs across mine and started rubbing them. I have no idea how I knew that is what was wrong, but I did. I rubbed his legs, and feet. I did rotations with his feet to loosen up his ankles and he calmed right down. It was just awesome that he knew what he wanted and he was trying to communicate with Brian, but I think Brian was just to tired to try and decode what Charlie was asking.

The rest of the morning has had it's up's and down's. He is defiantly testing the waters as a 2 year old. I LOVE it!!

Also this morning the "First, Then" FINALLY Clicked. Last night before bed he DESTROYED his room. I was too tired to fight with him to clean it up, so I told him last night that in the morning before we played we had to pick up all his toys and put them away. So after his nice warm bath, we went into his room this morning and I said "Charlie, First we pick up the toys, THEN you can play with these Easter eggs". I was expecting a full out tantrum, complete with hitting and kicking. I was so surprised when he just started picking up his toys. I had to remind him a couple times to keep him focused on the task, but he completed it all by himself with no tantrums!!

I was so proud of him in that moment. I kept encouraging him and telling him what a great job he was doing. You could tell he was proud of himself too.

I feel like my dream I had this morning was a reflection on how I feel about Charlie and this journey we are taking. It's a maze that I am going through as a parent to find my child. I can hear him, but can not see him. While I feel like every turn I take is a dead end, and gets us no where, it is leading me a little bit closer to finally seeing Charlie for who he really is. A bright, beautiful, brilliant little boy, who is simply just lost in the maze of autism.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The hard part of being a parent

Everyone will agree that it takes a lot of patience and hard work to raise a child. It's even more challenging when your child is a special needs child. Whether they have Down Syndrome, a Birth injury, Speech Delay, or whatever, it is harder.

My current problem with Charlie is that he is 2 1/2. So not only is he trying to figure out our complex language that we call English, but he is also trying to figure out how to deal with things that frustrate him. Lately he has taken to hitting. It is frustrating to everyone involved, but mostly to Charlie. I know that when Charlie hits me while it's not okay, I understand that he is frustrated, and he is trying to tell me something, and my job as his Mother and Teacher, I have to figure it out and arm him with the words/tools to tell me what is wrong. Unfortunately Little Miss Amelia is getting the brunt of Charlie's frustrations. I try to stop the problem before it starts, but there are times where he hits her because she is just simply there.

I understand this is a normal 2 year old behavior. They are trying to figure out the ways of the world, and hitting, kicking, and biting is all part of it. But how do you discipline a child that doesn't understand WHY they can't hit? I have posted on Facebook my dilemma and I have gotten some great answers. Some friend suggested giving him something else to hit. Telling him he can't hit Amelia and redirect him to the pillow or punching bag. Some said to give him time outs, make him say sorry, and hug Amelia. While I agree these are all wonderful ideas, I don't know how well they would work with Charlie.

I know that what I am currently doing is not working. Here is a typical scene. Charlie is "Playing" with his cars and Amelia walks/crawls up to him. Usually before she has a chance to reach he yells "NO!" and then slaps her. While he is doing a great job telling her no, the hitting part is obviously not okay. So usually I remove Amelia, Calm her down, and give her her own car. I then try and tell Charlie that we don't hit. Hitting hurts and it's not okay. When he is a repeat offender I will put him in time out on the third time of hitting. I try to give him room to think about his actions, but it doesn't seem to be working. Yesterday I had a moment of when I just saw red. Same scene, but Charlie hit Amelia with a car. I was so frustrated at that point that I told him we don't hit and then I spanked him. I felt SO horrible. I didn't spank him hard, but he was shocked and ran. I know that it was VERY wrong of me. And I told him I was sorry. It defiantly doesn't take back what I did, nor does it make it okay. But at least I am honest with myself and know what I did was wrong. After all, why would you hit a child and tell them "No hitting!" Totally doesn't make sense!

I know there is something I am missing here. There has to be a way for him to understand we don't hit. He is so incredibility smart that I am amazed with the things he can do. There just has to be a way to get it to him. To relay the message. But how?

Another issue that we are having, that we didn't realize until recently is that we provide Charlie with more one on one then we do Amelia. It really is heart breaking. We have been working with Charlie so hard to get him to talk, communicate, and function, that we have put Amelia on the side. This is also SOOOO not okay. I told myself when I had her, that she wouldn't be forgotten. I would spend equal time with each child. Unfortunately the ugly truth is, is when you have a special needs child, they tend to require more attention. I am thankful that Brian and I are more observant about the whole picture, and when we realized Amelia wasn't where she needed to be, we equally split the attention and started working with her. Now I don't want you to think we neglected Amelia, because that is FAR from the truth. For us it was easier to grab her something, or anticipate what she wanted, instead of waiting for her to ask for it. We weren't allowing her to get upset, or have the opportunity to learn. If anything we were a little over the top.

Stepping back and looking at the situation, Amelia is a product of her environment. We are changing this every day. I do not want Amelia to grow up thinking she is less than Charlie, or she isn't good enough. I have gotten the kids on different nap schedules, so there are at least 2 hours during the day they have alone time with mommy. We play, learn, and have fun. At night they both go to bed around the same time, but Brian is home so they get alone time with either mommy or daddy. We switch every night so they feel like they get equal time.

Being a parent is hard work, especially when you have more than one child, but I must say, that it is COMPLETELY worth it. Nothing is better than snuggling in bed with your children and husband at night watching a movie.