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!

I Choose Me

I watch as you head down a path that I have seen before.

I sit back and shake my head in worry over what is going to happen to you.

I wonder if there is anything I can do.

Then I realize ….

I cannot break me to help you anymore.

I cannot live a life where my inner peace is being challenged with every moment.

I cannot handle watching you make decisions that continue on a path of dark.

Then I realize …

I can lead a happy life, I can make things better.

For me.

I can choose to let go.

I can choose to move on.

I can choose to alleviate any negative that steps in my path.

I have a choice … and I choose me.

 

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!”

It All Starts With Repeating The Lessons you Teach

As  parent we all want to ensure that our children are growing up to be a respectful part of society, but what happens when you are raising a child with autism high functioning who doesn’t comprehend empathy or compassion? I think we all can agree that having compassion and empathy are important skills to function in society, right?! The question is, how can we teach these skills to children who don’t pick up on social ques in the ways the rest of us do? I am not sure how you teach it or how you have worked with your autistic child, but this is how I have been able to work with my son and see progress.

It all starts with them repeating what you have been teaching them.

Teaching Empathy and Compassion #autism

January 20, 2014 is the date my son stopped taking any medications, after a ridiculous scenario using Risperidone which actually helped my son or so it seemed for nearly a year or so, we had to stop having that medication due to health concerns. We switched to Abilify and then they added Prozac. Long story short, those meds all messed with him on various levels, only the Risperidone created health concerns with weight and Abilify helped keep weight steady-ish but his cholesterol started to get a little high. Finally … we were brave and stopped medications. As of January 20th we have been working with my seven year old son on ways to blossom in society and at home, without medications.

He has come so far in just four months.

When we first started in January without medication, Aj was still having some difficulties because of weaning off of medications but then about 1-2 weeks later it happened; my son was started to be the son I knew was inside of him somewhere. We finally received a diagnosis that made sense; Autism High Functioning and while many said try anxiety medications, we were not on the same page with those professionals. Thankfully our wishes were granted, no one is pushing Aj to have any medications. I wanted to work hard as co-parents first, as his primary caregiver I end up doing a hell of a lot of work but I see progress in every scenario that arises.

Aj is participating in class now. Aj is able to have a play-date and handle slight conflict with his best friend in ways he never would have in the past – using his words and intelligence. Aj has very little patience but is getting better and the one area that is going to take lots of proactive measures is teaching Aj empathy and compassion. Aj comes off rude, mean and occasionally selfish with the way he sees the world, combine that with his outspoken nature, well I am sure you know – we have a recipe for social world failure.

I won’t accept failure for myself nor will I ever accept failure for my children. Ever.

The smallest ways I could help teach Aj the skills of empathy and compassion were to work with his family unit, we are a close knit family. I started working with Aj in how he handles his siblings; teaching him that sometimes we have to take turns or do things we don’t really want to do because we are a family and every family member’s wants or needs do matter. I started heavily working with empathy and compassion during the kids school Spring break week. I used my words. I cited examples through out our days and then it happened; one day K-man didn’t want to do something that Aj wanted to do, instead of Aj getting mad at his brother and just “telling him how it is”, Aj actually told his little brother this, “K I know you don’t want to do this but sometimes we have to do things that others want to do because it’s a nice thing to do.”

I get it. Aj was repeating words I have said to him in the past, but you know what? That is a huge start!

I think the best way to teach empathy and compassion to a child who doesn’t “feel” those things on his own are this;

  • Set the Example – cite times when you or another person have stepped back, outside of their own self to care for another person’s opinions, wants or needs. Explain intellectually the scenario and why the way the person handled it was in the right and being nice. Reiterate that we are to be nice to others in this world because that is what makes this world a happy place.
  • Use your Words – With any lesson you wish to teach an Autistic High Fucntioing child you have to learn how their brain works and formlulate the words you use and actions taken in a method that makes sense to them. I found having a logical, matter of fact discussion and emotion while speaking really has helped a lot.

I am sure there are other methods that work for others with a child on the spectrum, but this is how I have been working with my son and I have seen amazing progress, so I thought I would share as a way to help others who have the question “how do I teach my child on the spectrum empathy and compassion?”

Image shown is Aj on our deck one sunny day after a long Winter. Aj prefers as little clothing as possible and was happy to be outside barefoot for the first time since Winter.

My Little Technology Monster so-to-speak #AutismAwareness

As we move further into the month, I am still talking about Autism Awareness because well it’s important alongside many other topics, but this is the one I am learning the most about this month with the recent DX of my son. Today, I discuss the technology addiction my son has always had and was easily confused in the beginning with an ADHD type of child.

autism awareness month

Aj has always loved electronics, video games could have easily ruled his world back in the younger days, ages 2-5. Then he got older, he learned about MineCraft and YouTube. Most days you will find my son in front of YouTube doing his research, as I like to call it. YouTube has become my son’s television so-to-speak, but he doesn’t just watch any old videos.

Aj enjoys watching videos that teach him something, that allow him to work deeper with his current loved video game, MineCraft.

The counselor, Aj’s Dad and I have all discussed this electronic “addiction” that Aj has and from time to time it had become quite the monster of his world, keeping him from interacting with his family on a more one-to-one basis. Then as time went on, I realized that Aj wasn’t using the laptop for the purpose of game playing, I realized he was showing a high level of interest in learning how to manipulate games or coding to make the game work in ways it wasn’t built from the “box” to do. It seems Aj has a bit of his father in him, his Dad loves to build computers and different things like that so it fits the mold of “like father like son” for sure.

In the past couple, almost three, months of having Aj off of medications, I have noticed that his brain is just intrigued by how things work, not necessarily the hands on building like his brother, but more so the “behind-the-scenes” of how things work and Aj gets it! Aj picks up on things that most of us don’t as it pertains to mathematics or how technology works. Aj seems to me to be that child who will grow up with a love of programming. Instead of doing what we had previously thought to be the right decision, keeping Aj from electronics, my ex husband and I have allowed the computer to be an open access item for him at both our homes. We have found in the past few months that Aj will not use the computer beyond a decent level of time, eventually Aj will bore of not being able to find just the right YouTube video for his needs and will see his family is interacting playing tag or Lego’s and want to join in with us.

I love that Aj is starting to take an interest in family life. I love that, while he isn’t as into the physical play like his siblings, he does take a part in it on a daily basis for a limited amount of time. Upon discussions with the psychiatrist who diagnosed Aj, she stated it is fairly common for autistic people to have a high level of interest in mathematics, and usually do end up in the field of programming. It seems we found just another area where Autism Spectrum – High Functioning makes sense for Aj’s diagnosis.

What are some things that your child just adores and makes you wonder why he/she is sooooo fixated on that area of their world?

 

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