My Son has had Amazing Progress #autism

I seriously am so happy about this autism diagnosis for my son Aj, while many may wonder why I feel that way, because no one wants to have a child that may struggle, but seriously? Aj is probably the most well rounded, honest children I have ever met. Aj says what he means and he means what he says. Aj looks at the world in such a simple manner that he is teaching me more and more each day.

My Autistic Son Teaches me #autism

I just love spending time listening and talking with Aj, he has been medicine free since January 20, 2014 and it was such a blessing to get him off of those risky medications. While, I did originally believe he was bipolar, what I learned in these past few months is that he most certainly is not. Aj needed that autism diagnosis much earlier, but didn’t get it, he has grown so much (as have I) since learning that he is truly high functioning autistic. I love this picture of Aj, taken just yesterday while he blows dandelion fluff and makes a wish.

Aj doesn’t believe in magic like most of us do, “wishes don’t really come true Mama”, he said to me. I told him that wishes can come true if you want them badly enough and think that they will happen, then yes, wishes can sometimes come true! He took all of those dandelions with fluff on them and puffed them to make his wish each time. He won’t tell me his wish, but I am pretty sure it was a wish to get Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare for the PS3.

My favorite conversations with Aj usually pertain to video games or metaphors. You see, Aj cannot stand metaphors or sarcasm, he thinks it’s dumb. Why would someone say “I am so hungry I could eat a horse if people like horses” . He went on to tell me that horses do have a lot of meat on them, but people like horses, so why would they say they could eat one. I am constantly amazed at how intelligent he is, he shows this at home and at school with his grades.

One thing about my Aj is that he has learned to be compassionate and have empathy, skills that some swear mean he isn’t autistic. It took us a lot of time to teach Aj to learn these skills, they didn’t come to him naturally by any means. Aj has found his sweet bone, he is often found helping a friend be happy at recess; “Mama, my friend was crying and upset so I told him a joke and he laughed. I made him happy, because laughing means you are happy and I made him laugh so I made him happy” is what Aj said to me one day after school. My heart beamed with pride.

This kid has come so far and I am so happy that we took that chance to allowed him to come off of all medications because now? I am seeing the real side of my son, his true colors are shining through and I am just so happy for this little boy!

Where Did People Come From Mama?

I am a huge advocate of showing our kids the various beliefs in our world, to the best of my abilities, so when we were sitting down to read our bedtime story and Aj asked; “Where did people come from? Like how did the first person get on this Earth, Mama?”

I paused.

Then I had to figure a way to answer, “well buddy, there are a lot of different beliefs. Some believe God created the first humans, but others feel it’s more science based.”

Aj says, “yeah like we started somehow from little bugs, but how does that happen, Mama”

Funny Little Kid Answer to Where People Come From

I didn’t have to answer that second question.

K-man piped up and said, “Duh we came from Cavemen”

Aj replies, with a giggle, “Well where did the first caveman come from?”

My youngest responds, with a sense of pride in his voice, “Baby cavemen!”

What Autism Means to Me #autismawareness

April is Autism Awareness month. A time to celebrate, educate and learn to have more acceptance for those children and adults living each day in a world I know little about how to relate to. It’s difficult being a parent, I am sure, to an autistic child. From what I’ve learned thus far, it’s a broad spectrum and no two autistic people are alike.

autism awareness month

If you are an every day reader of my blog, you may have followed along my life in regards to my now seven year old son, Aj. If not, you can catch up, but there’s a lot there listed under Mood Disorder, but most recently Autism categories here on my site. Basically, about a week or so ago, my son Aj was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum – High Functioning. This diagnosis didn’t come to a surprise because for the past two and a half months I have observed my son, taken notes from his teachers at school and witnessed him in his day-to-day life. I already knew my child seemed to be showing more and more of the spectrum as time went on.

While Aj has undergone multiple diagnosis’s, we firmly feel he is on the spectrum. For years Aj has exhibited some autistic tendencies, as his counselor has called them, but never enough to get anyone to say “yes he is autistic”, while I didn’t need a diagnosis as a parent for I am constantly observing my children and adapting in ways to raise them, the outside world usually needs a diagnosis to work with. So here I sit and write about what autism is for me during this month to raise awareness of Autism.

When I called family to tell them about Aj’s diagnosis, they of course wanted to know the question many ask, “What does that mean?”

My simple explanation for what autism means for myself, my family and my son is nothing. Really all that autism means for us is that we have learned to have more acceptance and patience. You see, Aj really seems to think like a computer or a robot so-to-speak. Aj is highly intelligent, has amazing grade levels at school, but in a social environment he may show signs of awkwardness or uneasiness. Aj cannot pick up on all social cues like we can, Aj cannot handle sarcasm or jokes like we can, Aj may not always make eye contact but I have noticed he makes eye contact with me. Aj also has flapping of the arms with happiness or excitement as well as rocking that has appeared in the past couple of months when nervous or trying to cope with a scenario he may not be comfortable with.

Other questions that come into play for me as a parent are how I will ensure he is receiving the supports he needs at school for the social aspect of his autism, because it’s evident his grades are fine at this point, but as he gets older the social aspect of school could take a toll on him.

I am currently awaiting meetings with the school to work on a 504 or an IEP, so far it appears they are going to work with me on a 504, I am okay with that as a first step unless I am educated otherwise.

Autism … in my eyes …

For me, autism is simply another way of viewing life, being that I have always been an open minded person and parent, it’s easy for me to observe Aj and learn how he works, how he thinks, and what is going on as-he-sees-it. As my child has grown, and without medications blurring who he is, I have noticed that really Autism for me isn’t a disability per say; Aj has grown tremendously, he fixates on certain things that he loves doing but how is that harmful to him? Aj loves technology and he has also started to show a love of interacting with his family and his best friend who comes for play dates.

For me, autism is honestly more simple, at least at the high functioning state, than your average person I work with. For Aj his world is black and white; you do what you say, you mean what you say and life is fine. Sadly, that does cause a ruckus from time to time, because as a human we know there are sometimes where sarcasm comes into play or maybe we say “not right now” far too often, instead of no. It seems in society we tend to be non-committal and Aj requires a committed reply and answer at all times. Aj thrives on a structured environment, he goes by the clock with any electronic time, play time, diner time, getting ready for appointment times, etc.

Autism hasn’t changed our lives in a bad way, it’s opened our mind, heart and soul to love deeper, more unconditionally and has helped us have a better bond than most families I witness. For me, Autism simply means love. The love Aj has for those who are close to him and the love we have for him is stronger and so unconditional that it honestly warms my heart.

My advice to those who don’t know enough about Autism, is to ask questions without judgement. My advice to those who do know about Autism and may be told their child will never lead a life like “every other person”, keep hope and Faith, work hard because honestly no matter what disability your child is diagnosed with, the hope, love and Faith from their parents can make a world of difference in their future!

And so I remind you this month, it’s okay to ask questions about Autism, but it is not okay to judge an autistic child by the book, they are so much deeper than what you see on the outside, just like every other person in this world!

Doesn’t Matter the Label, Just Matters That I am Mom

The label that my middle child receives down the road as we venture into the path of a possible new diagnosis really doesn’t matter to me. Aj’s Dad and I have been raising the same boy for the past seven years so whatever label is placed upon our son really doesn’t matter as it pertains to anything other than giving us something to research better. You see, no one lives our life. No one outside of our home has experienced the real Aj.

With no medication interfering with Aj in any way positive nor negative, the school is starting to get a glimpse into what our world has been like for years with Aj. He’s either withdrawn and down or hyper and happy. This is why there is certainly a mood aspect to our son but there is also this other side of Aj where he shows anxiety, he is anxious about new things and anxious that life needs go to a certain way. Then there is that routine driven side of Aj and that mentality that once he has it in his head something is correct, there is no talking him out of it.

There is the side to Aj where you could tell him the sky is blue and if he is convinced at that day and time that the sky is purple, then the sky is purple. It’s that simple for Aj. Aj is a complex child yet also very simple. The real world rules don’t necessarily apply to our sweet Aj, he is unique and in some ways unique is a great thing while in other ways unique can get into the way of a public school child. Aj is starting to show me signs of concern in the public school environment, I wonder if he will ever make real friends, real long term friends. I wonder if Aj will ever have a life that is one that people classify as normal.

Then I realize … those wonders are my anxiety kicking in. As I watch Aj suffer with some anxiety symptoms, I notice my generalized anxiety disorder starts to chime in. It’s this emotional connection that Aj’s counselor has advised me to separate better with that keeps me wondering and worrying about things outside of my control. I am better at controlling my anxiety, after all I haven’t had medication for anxiety in many years. I have learned to fight anxiety and I will teach my son the same skills, as I have with my oldest.

Aj is a happy child, if anyone asks I would say he is compassionate with a huge heart but he lacks the understanding of sarcasm or snide comments. You see, with Aj you have to say what you mean and mean what you say because if not, he gets frustrated. Aj doesn’t comprehend sarcasm for the most part, yet there are a rare few moments that he actually may look at you after a quick witted comment and smirk as if he got it. Those moments are rare. For the most part, Aj is a child who needs people to say what they mean and mean what they say.

Aj cannot have people in his home environment that cannot be that person for him, it’s not easy. My daughter and his younger brother have worked hard and continue to work as a family to ensure Aj has a safe, loving home environment. That means far too often we have to bite our sarcastic tongue and say things the way Aj needs to hear them. While we find humor in sarcasm, Aj does not. In my mind, it’s not that difficult but when you have a tween daughter and younger sibling of a child like this, it can cause a ruckus from time to time.

I don’t want to deter my daughter and my other son from being who they are to their core, but I want to teach them to respect who Aj is at his core as well. It’s a juggling act around here most days. Whatever label Aj ends up with for a diagnosis, I am okay with that, because after all, I have been raising him for seven years so no matter what they say “he has”, reality is HE IS my son, always has been and always will. I will always be here fighting for him right beside him and encouraging him to move forward to lead a happy, healthy life.

As I do with my other children. That is my job. My job is Mom.

Updates – Aj without Medications #bipolar #mooddisorder

So we have survived one week with Aj off of medications. The medication he was on wasn’t really helping anything anyways but sadly he does need some form of mediation to keep his mood disorder straight. We have had some really great moments with Aj, the first part of the week was decent but Aj was also having the stomach bug that is going around. I think the stomach bug kept Aj at bay and kept his moods somewhat level or at least low key. While Aj still exhibited the mood disorder symptoms, they were mild and easily managed. I couldn’t really gauge school level situations because of the stomach bug he wasn’t in school but one day last week, it was only a three day school week to begin with.

I have noticed that Aj is more vocal at age 7 without medications than obviously he was from age birth to four years. This is to be expected, children don’t usually start to realize their feelings nor know how to express them at such a young age. I always say my first born, and only daughter, was my first experiment in whether my parenting style really works to help children be confident, independent and well rounded. My second born, first son, Aj, is my second experiment with working on a different parenting style as he thinks differently than my other two children. Aj is a very literal child who sees the world in black and white.

As adults we learn life isn’t always black and white, it isn’t clean cut. Sometimes people ruin experiences for others, sometimes we have to pay for mistakes other people make or have made. Aj doesn’t see life that way, to Aj if he did no wrong then he shouldn’t have a consequence. While Aj is also famous, at home, for saying he didn’t do something that he did, you can immediately tell that he is fibbing you. Aj is much like me in that we are incapable of lying, it’s not something we are very good at. Usually we smirk or have this avoidance of eye contact so extreme that it’s blatantly obvious that we are lying. I am thankful Aj picked up that gene from me, because it make it easier to work with him.

I had a meeting last week with Aj’s counselor who still insists yes Aj has a mood disorder, but since he has not been on correct medications for going on about six months now, his learned or enabled behaviors are starting to come back. I won’t lie, that is my fault completely. I am the parent but I do my best, as do all parents, and with a mood disorder child it’s sometimes easier to deter a total mood fluctuation by allowing some behaviors to go unnoticed, rather without consequence. This isn’t a good way to parent but I am not perfect and now am able to see what I have to work on with Aj again, but it’s minimal issues and will be easily worked through.

I cannot say if I feel Aj needs mood disorder medications or not just yet. It has only been a week without medications, he stopped medications on January 20th. So we will see how this plays out, on February 5th he sees his current psych and I am sure by then I will have more feedback about my experiences and observations regarding Aj without medications. For now, I am simply staying strong and moving forward.

 

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