Updates on Aj, After our Last Counseling Appointment

This has been a journey and a half with my now seven year old son, Aj. First day he was born I could tell you something wasn’t right, he was more angry than happy. It appeared my son had inherited something that runs heavily in the gene pool; bipolar. So it began, a lot of testing and counseling to ensure we were parenting the way Aj would respond. Aj had test after test, all coming back that he was a normal child as far as brain goes and most of the developmental areas. Sure Aj was not speaking much by 15 months of age, but he ended up having glued up gunk on his left ear drum from too many ear infections as a child, tubes in ears were placed and voila, the child blossomed in speech. For every little milestone not met, there ended up being some medical reason. Nothing really waved a red flag other than the fact that Aj had a mood disorder going on. At first they wanted to say he was ADHD, but after ADHD medication gone bad, we realized that wasn’t the right diagnosis. After many years of counseling, parenting techniques taught to us and medication after medication for mood disorder as well as the one time try of Prozac for anxiety, it has now been brought into the light that maybe Aj is on the autism spectrum.

Raising my Son Aj

As we met with the counselor that has seen Aj from a young child to the current year, the observations I was making about Aj started to raise a light bulb with both the counselor and myself. I’ve been thinking the autism spectrum for a while with Aj but never did he have such strong symptoms of autism until this past month without medication. Aj hasn’t been on any medication since January 20th, 2014. In time I have noticed some things about Aj, that while some were there from the beginning, they are far more visible to everyone in his world now as time has gone on.

  • As a baby; Aj needed to have juice, milk and water in specific cups. If those cups were not used he would have a meltdown. I recall, back when I was married to Aj’s Dad that we left a note for my ex SIL that Aj must have his milk in “x” color sippy, his water in “y” color sippy and his juice in “z” color sippy. If you messed that up, he would have a meltdown.
  • Aj didn’t potty train until four years and 3 months of age; while I have no clue if this is part of autism signs or not, I can say it was abnormal as his younger brother and older sister trained by age 2.
  • Time went on and Aj still thrived on a very routine driven lifestyle; even with medication Aj needed to know x,y and z would happen in that area every single day. Should an appointment be scheduled after school and we have to go to that appt instead of right home for homework, Aj would have/will have still to this day, a meltdown.
  • Aj clearly is a rigid fellow too, with some anxiety which means he needs an almost unrealistic environment to live in; one in which everything happens the same exact way each day, down to his fried egg sandwich for breakfast each morning.
  • I found myself saying, as of late, that Aj would do best in a world where everything is the same every single day, nothing changes, there are no appointments, no changes in routine, where everything happens in an x,y,z format. Everything each day needs to happen how Aj sees it to be his norm, or else there is an extreme meltdown of frustration.

Raising my Son Aj

As time has gone on, now over a month and a half of Aj without medication, I am seeing the need for him to have more than one blanket to fall asleep. The need for everything at bedtime to go as planned, so let’s say his five year old brother goes off kilter and starts being silly during bedtime book time, Aj cannot handle it and will get fixated on something. If Aj has anything happen to deter him from his path of normalcy he will get into a frustrated mindset where he can be found to quickly go thru the home and hit things, throw things and just have a total rageful fit. I have noticed, as of late, his quick frustrations or rageful fits are derived from something not happening in the way they normally do or in the way Aj has it in his mind they should happen.

Aj thrives on electronics, the counselor has advised us to take them away from his life as much as possible and since they are such an important part of his world, to use them more of an incentive based privilege versus a norm thing in his daily life. Using the electronics as a privilege has really helped to get Aj come back down to Earth at times during his frustrations. I have had to restrain Aj more often than not these past couple of weeks due to frustrations beyond his control. I have had to hear him spout off words like dumby, liar, stupid … all words he rarely ever used in the past. My heart breaks watching Aj fall apart because the more each day goes on, the more I see a child that looks a lot like Max in the series on prime-time TV called Parenthood.

While it doesn’t matter to me what label is placed on my son Aj, I just need something to figure out what’s going on. I already know how to parent Aj, he is a unique child who thrives on routine. I do everything in my power to ensure his day is full of things that take on a daily routine, and in the Summer I even create a poster board with times for everything so that the days go by much smoother. Even my oldest, and only daughter, stated that Aj did really well this past Summer when I started using a poster board schedule for the family.

Raising my Son Aj

We have some great times around here, Aj isn’t really as moody as I once thought him to be. In the past he had two moods; angry or sad. There really was not happiness. I imagined my son Aj a lot like my sister who has bipolar. Still to this day with some of the symptoms Aj shows, I can see a slight mood disorder as part of him, but overall I am hearing my inner mom gut scream Autism. I asked the counselor about this and he said that mood and anxiety can take a part in Autism. I had no clue. I am meeting with Aj’s pediatrician in a week or two as a means to get Aj in for an autism evaluation. I never knew they had such a thing, but this is our next step in the journey of raising Aj. For now, I know what he needs; routine, routine, routine and as much of a free spirit person I am – I have to learn to be more routine driven for the sake of my  middle child’s growth.

We have previously questioned autism, so did Aj’s counselor but now the signs are far more than I can share in this one blog post, just know that I trust my instinct with my child and I also trust his counselor a lot!

If you have any resources for autism, such as a check list of symptoms or what not, that I can review to really get a grasp on things to share with the pediatrician for our appointment, that would be great. As this pediatrician hasn’t been so helpful in the past and I want so badly for her to hear me and help my son this time around!

 

 

The Picky eater and The Not So Picky Eaters

It always amazes me just how different my three children can be, it’s oh so obvious at dinner time. My youngest is the pickiest eater alive and for the first four years of his life he would occasionally try new foods while other times he would go 4-5 nights without diner because he was that stubborn to even try dinner. My older two kids always impress me, it makes me proud at how they handle the food situations.

Chili Home madeYou see, sometimes we are broke so all we have for food is pasta, sauce and maybe a veggie of some sort. There was one time we had egg noodles and peas for dinner, because that is all we had to eat. There are other times where ramon noodles are our only option for dinner or a sandwich. If we go long periods like that, I feel like I am failing, but short term it doesn’t bother me so much. I was a single Mom for the first few years of my daughter’s life so I was used to having little to no food at times. My daughter was used to it as well. Even while the boys were growing up we would go without great food options due to low funds.

I feel that the two older kids are better at saying “I don’t really care for this but I will eat it” because they have lived longer, are more mature than the little guy and that they realize Mom does her best to provide, which means sometimes I offer all I can offer. Nothing makes me more proud than when I hear my older two kids tell me it’s okay I will eat this food, even though I don’t really care for it. This shows me that I have taught my older two kids to be thankful for what they do have and that they do have something. I often remind my kids that there are families who literally have no food, so for us to have any food is something to cherish.

I am still at a loss as to how to get my youngest to try more foods and eat more nutritiously like the rest of us usually do. My youngest is extremely high strung, the pediatrician said ADHD but I feel ADHD is a diagnosis that is tossed out too freely. While I agree, my youngest appears to be ADHD more often than not, he usually can go grocery shopping, go to the library events and even attend school just fine, to me that isn’t ADHD.  His Dad and I are in agreement that we refuse to medicate our youngest unless his hyperactivity makes it impossible for him to function in society as expected. To us, he is a normal five year old and while the pediatrician says ADHD he also said that the youngest is a normal five year old boy.

One way I can think of to get this picky eater more nutrition is to make smoothies and sneak same color veggies into foods he will eat. The pediatrician agreed that is probably the best way to deal with this picky eater for now, because while he can prescribe vitamins, they wouldn’t be as great for his body as getting those nutrients in variety of foods would.

So … as school is in session for all three children I am working more and gearing up to ensure we don’t have to go long periods without food, leaving me with more options to sneak in those healthy things my youngest needs.

What are some ways you have snuck good foods into your child’s diet?

Picture a Day – Siblings Are Always There For Each Other

One thing I have noticed with my three munchkins is that no matter how badly they may make each other mad at one another, they are always there for each other. Helping the other siblings, loving the other siblings and enjoying time being family. I am so proud that my children are loving, caring individuals!

Siblings Care

Are We Sheltering our kids Just a bit Much?

Every year I have the wonderful annual pediatrician visit for the three munchkins and just like every previous year I leave dumbfounded with the things pediatricians recommend you do to “protect” your child.  I leave the children’s pediatrician’s visits wondering how the heck I ever survived and lived to talk about it. Seriously.

BOOSTER SEAT til 4’9″

Okay, I get it, you all want your child to be safe in the car and years ago many children could just bounce around unbuckled in the car. I am not for that. However, when my child is over 100lbs and is 57″ plus tall {that is 4’9″ right?}, I suppose she is a tad bit too big for a booster seat, right? Wrong. In NH, the child must be 4’9″ tall, who cares about the fact that the manufacturer places a weight limit of 100lbs on the booster seat, it’s all about the height.  I do not get it at all, yes the seat belt has to line up just right in the car, totally get that, but how is a child safer in a seat that is stuck to their butt and doesn’t seat them properly just because they have not quite reached the height? Guidelines, I agree to, however, each child is different and mine is about the size of a small adult, eh-hmmm for example my friend @mommadjane.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Helmets for ALL Bike Riding

Seriously? Even at home, in the driveway? On the lawn? This is where I walked away looking like the “bad mom of the year” … no I do not require my children to wear bicycle helmets or any other protective gear when riding in the driveway or on the yard. Why? Bumps and bruises never hurt me, I scraped my knee all up bike riding on the ROAD without a helmet and gear, I survived, right? So will they. Now, if they were to go riding on trails or the roads, I would totally gear them up, but at home in our yard? Nope. Sorry. I just think we bubble up our kids too much and they will end up being “babies” so to speak, unable to handle any pain such as the minor bumps n bruises that most of us were able to experience back in the day.

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Stomach Upset Troubles While Travelling with Kids #culturellekids

While traveling with my family I always know that stomach troubles will happen. It seems when my kids travel with me for long trip destinations, such as our recent trip to York Beach, Maine my kids will usually hold having to go the bathroom more than they should on the car ride or while at the beach because they don’t want to miss a thing. My family decided to take along Culturelle Kids this time around which helps boost digestive health while also boosting immunity.

I hate that my kids refuse to go to the bathroom at rest stops along the interstate or while at the ocean, I mean I do make them go but I don’t understand why they hold it. Maybe it’s due to anxiety levels or just the fact that my kids tend to hold their bathroom breaks til the last minute if having too much fun. While flying kites, jumping waves and enjoying the playground in York Beach Maine, my kids really end up with stomach troubles. That is one thing I try to be prepared for when planning a long trip with kids, have something ready to tackle stomach upset!

Culturelle Kids will help to reduce occasional digestive upset, like what may happen during vacationing. Supports your child’s natural defenses and provides a solution for digestive discomfort and poor health. Culturelle Kids realizes that 70% of your immune system is in your digestive tract so a healthy and balanced digestive system plays a vital role in strengthening your child’s overall health and well being.

This is a great product to try if your child suffers from digestive discomfort as it’s #1 pediatrician recommended,  trusted by both parents and pediatricians.  I say you grab Culturelle Kids to help keep your kids immunity strong before that trip or before school time hits and their immunity is low meaning that they are more susceptible to back to school germs. As much as this is a great product to take along during family vacations, I am very well aware of school starting in the next month for most children.

When school starts the germs and bacteria run rampid when all of the kids first go back to school it seems they get sickies so much easier within that first couple of months. Culturelle Kids is a great way to promote healthier digestive track while boosting that immune system in your children before they are waving bye to you or snubbing you on their first day walking into school this year!

“I was compensated for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.”

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