Scarred

The boy and the girl see a Psychologist on a regular basis and the last time that she was here she was having a chat to the girl about learning to like Aspergers.

The girl was saying that she didn’t like telling anyone that she had it because she had been scarred by a friend a couple of years ago. The girl had told her friend that she had it and swore her to secrecy but of course kids being kids this friend told the rest of the class. Now I doubt a class full of nine and 10 year olds actually knew what it was, but it was fun to tease the girl about.

The Psychologist was getting the girl to list all the good things about it and to try to break down her negative perception of it, and of telling anyone as otherwise she will still be hung up on this incident in twenty years, unable to move past it.

It got me to thinking of a few incidents in my life that had happened, and still upset me if I think too hard about them.

The first one was when I was in primary school about Grade 4 and I was singing in the Choir. I loved singing and had fun being with my friends. A girl near me in the row told me I couldn’t sing, so I left the Choir without telling anyone why and have hated singing since.

The next memory was and still is a painful one – one that has caused me much grief and sadness and stopped me liking a single moment of the last 2.5 years of high school. I was in Year 10 and I had a nice group of friends, or so I thought. One day as I approached them at recess or lunch time I saw them look at me, talk to each other and then run away.

I was devastated!

I had no idea what to do next, and any smidgen of confidence I had in myself had now gone. There was no way I was going to attempt to approach them again, and I don’t think I spoke to many people at school for the next two years.

I always had an outlet in the way of sport. I have played or done a sport of some kind all my life, and at one point used to compete in Cross-Country Skiing. I had worked my way up the rankings and had been invited away with the National Team on one of their training camps. I wasn’t in the team as such, just a few aspiring skiers had been added into the camp. I was so excited, being away in another state and getting the chance to ski with some great athletes.

On this one particular day of the camp we all set out for a training run. One of the scheduled breaks was at a hut in the middle of nowhere, but it had a guest book in there for everyone  to write down a message in. One of the girls who was slightly older than me, and someone I looked up to, wrote a message on behalf of the whole team. I can’t remember most of the message but she signed it off with

‘……from the National team and loser hangers on’.

I still remember being so crushed by that. I felt so unworthy and stupid for thinking I could be a great skier. Who was I to think I could ever be good?

I slowly withdrew from the skiing world, again not telling anyone because of the shame of having to repeat what I saw.

It’s funny how remarks or actions by people can really define who you are and who you become. If I knew then what I know now it would be such a different story. I wouldn’t stop anyone from pursuing a sport I loved, or not have given up singing, and I would have had the confidence to ask these girls why they ran away from me, and I would have made new friends.

But I guess that comes with age and wisdom.

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Anxiety and hiding under the bed

The boy gets anxious.

He gets so anxious that he makes himself sick.

He doesn’t want to go to school because he finds it hard and he has to work hard and use the brain of his that does actually work very well,  he just thinks it doesn’t.

So he hides under the bed.

And says that I should just call him the boy who cried wolf because apparently I never believe that he is really sick. Except when he was sick for three days a couple of weeks ago I wouldn’t let him go to school, but please would I forget about that.

*sigh*

We are working together with his teacher to make him more resilient to school, and to get him to take less mental health days but it is hard. He really really hates school.

But loves his friends there!

He was very indignant last week when his sister had a day off school because she wasn’t well. It was the first day she had had off all year but he still got his nose out of joint about it.

It does my head in!

Today was hard to get him moving and out the door. I hadn’t slept at all with too much going on in my head, and the girl has been awake since 3am. There wasn’t enough coffee in the world to wake me up this morning.

Fingers crossed for a good night’s sleep and easy morning….

 

 

 

The night out and other fun…..

Last night the man and I went out. Don’t all fall over in shock – it does happen every couple of years!

We went to see Prince in Melbourne. The man is a huge fan of the little purple dude so was keen to go and I was happy to tag along and have a dance.

My sister very kindly and rather naively  offered to look after the girl and the boy for the evening. She was originally going to come to our house but as we weren’t sure how late we would be it was decided that the kids would stay at her house for the night instead. Easy? No…

The boy never stays where we are not. He gets too anxious without us, which would be lovely except that I can’t have a darn holiday without him!!!

Anyway…

Both kids agreed to stay over and they were dropped off with their cousins quite happily, the boys and the girls all deciding where they were going to sleep. Sounded like a party was going to be happening!

So off to the concert we went – we were free for the night!

We may or may not have been this close to him!

At 11pm I had the text I had been dreading – please come and get one upset little boy. Luckily the concert had just finished but that put paid to going to his after show gig (yeah right, like we could afford more tickets anyway. Also I am too old to be staying up too late!)

Made it back to pick up said sad little boy and debated whether to take the girl home as well but she looked so comfortable sleeping that we let her be, I would stay with the original plan to pick her up before taking her to school in the morning.

I dragged myself out of bed this morning to make the trip back to get the girl. I am glad I went a little earlier as as usual the girl was having a little bit of trouble getting dressed. As in, she hadn’t even started!

Her younger cousin was dressed and packed and ready to go but the girl was still in her pyjamas rolling around the bedroom floor. My sister just looked at me and said that she wouldn’t do anything she was asked and that she wouldn’t even take her Ritalin. I said ‘welcome to my world’ and that you have to bribe her. I then paid the girl to drink her ‘juice’. Anything goes when you need her drugged to be compliant!

That done I threw her uniform on her and chucked her out of the house and into the car (the girl, not my sister). Made it to school just as the bell rang.

I then came home and went straight to bed.

Always and forever

The girl had a major meltdown last night.

She had not had a good day at all.

It started in the morning when she was dropped at school. She was a little earlier to school than normal because the boy had basketball training before school so it made sense to take them both at the same time. It turned out that she sat outside her classroom until the bell went, even though she had asked to play a game with the other girls in her class who were there early as well. She would have made player number 9 and apparently the game only needed 8 players. These girls didn’t want someone to be ‘out’ at all times, so it was decided that it was easier if she just didn’t play at all.

She wasn’t even allowed to watch the game!

She then told us that a boy from her class walked by her and grabbed her arm and threw her to the ground, then teased her for having Aspergers. She said that he always teases her and he says that ‘she will always have it, so haha!’

My heart broke as she sobbed about how different to other kids she was and she didn’t know how to fit in.

I have contacted the school to let them know that this in not good enough and I want some answers now. I know exactly who said it and I do think it is ironic that his older brother has Aspergers as well.

The Year 5 students have buddies who started Prep this year. The girl has a very lively little girl who is very strong willed. Yes it sounds like a perfect fit as this is what the girl is like, but in reality the girl doesn’t need this. She uses her recess and lunch breaks to unwind and can’t do that at the moment. This buddy of hers drags her around the school yard and won’t let her near her own friends. Yesterday the buddy was so demanding about going to the library at lunch time that she threw the girls lunch into the bin so that they would get there faster. She rips books out of the girls hands and throws them on the ground if she thinks she is not getting enough attention…. and it goes on.

She also doesn’t like a lot of contact, or it has to be on her terms, so to have this buddy hanging off her and pulling her in every direction is just enough to tip her over the edge. The teachers say that they have to be firm with them, but that is easier said that done, even with a ‘normal’ person, let along a 10 year old girl with her own issues. If this is trivialised then this mummy will be on the warpath!!

After school she happily went off to her dancing lesson. She has been asking us for years to do dancing but until now we thought she wasn’t ready to go, between her arthritis and her lack of social skills. But she is giving it a good go now.

She cried coming home from her lesson because she said that she just got shouted at the whole lesson. When we clarified what she meant, she said that the teacher would be on the other side of the room shouting at the girl to hold the barre correctly, for example. Now I will be going back to the ballet teacher to explain (again) how the girl cannot comprehend the tone of her voice, that even if she is NOT angry/mad/exasperated the girl will interpret a loud voice as any of these. Then she gets stressed and then makes more mistakes which in turn makes the teacher ‘yell’.

My heart is breaking for her, I want to be able to fix it all for her and just keep her home where she is safe. The world is just too confusing for her at the moment.

No wonder she was upset last night, we let her cry and get it out and gave her heaps of cuddles and love.

A major breakthrough

The girl has eaten vegemite sandwiches for the last six years at school. The good thing about this is that we don’t have to think too hard when we are making her lunch at night.

The boy, however, keeps us on our toes with his requests. We have been known to stand at the cupboard for several minutes before deciding on a filling for the sandwich. We learnt early on not to ask what he wants in them because he will just answer ‘sprinkles’. Hmmm… sugar on bread for a nutritious snack, nothing better!

However, the other night a miracle happened.

We had had roast lamb for dinner (yes we had won the lottery so I was able to purchase a leg) and the girl is rather partial to lamb. As we were eating I mentioned that I love it on sandwiches for lunch. The girl decided that she would like to try it on her sandwich the next day, or at least half a sandwich with the other half still containing vegemite in case she didn’t like the lamb.  And if she did like it, she said, she would want to have it every day.

No, I replied. We are not rich enough for that!

The next day I asked the girl how she enjoyed her sandwich when I picked up the kids from school.

‘Fine’, she said. ‘I ate it!’

I fell over in shock!

Just saw the date….

And realised it has been well over a month since I posted anything – terrible! Anyone would think I had been busy with kids and work and life or something.

So what has been happening…

The kids have had numerous parties for the end of basketball, school and birthdays. The girl has had her annual concert for the Australian Girls Choir and received her letter that she was progressing a level in that as well. Both kids were involved in the school music concert a few weeks ago, with the girl performing on her violin and singing in the school choir as well. As usual the boy decided to keep his violin playing skills a secret and just sang in the class choir instead.

Today at school the kids find out their new teacher and class for next year. There was much excitement in the air this morning. The boy is adamant that he will have the same teacher as his sister had in the same year, hope there won’t be tears when he finds out that he hasn’t got her. (I know this cos his current teacher has already told me which class he is in – shhh). The girl doesn’t care who her teacher will be, it is not important to her. She already knows which of her friends will be in her class and she is happy that her little group of friends will be with her. They are all lovely girls so hopefully next year will be a good year for her.

And yes, Ritalin does wonders for friendship!

As I write this I am surrounded by chaos here. We leave for the UK in two days to attend a wedding and have Christmas and New Year there as well and we are in the midst of packing. It is very hard trying to figure out what to take and what bags will be used for our luggage and what to take to take on as cabin luggage. I am also trying to figure out how to take tuna on for the kids to eat. I know the airline does kids meals, but I don’t think they do aspergers kids meals. A bit of plain pasta and tomato sauce is all I am asking for! And they do like their plain tuna straight out of the can. Ewwww….

The kids have tried to help pack. The boy pulled out the second biggest suitcase and claimed it as his own. In it he placed some important items he thought he could not do without. This included his drum sticks, a couple of teddy bears, his DS games, a t-shirt and a jumper or two, then he complained that his case looked a bit empty! Hmmm….

The girl just packed her DS games. I wonder if I can be bothered packing more clothes for them?

They are very excited at the thought of spending Christmas in another country – one that has the possibility of snow as well. Santa is NOT so excited at having to deliver presents to another country and giving the parents the headache of bringing said presents home again. Especially when the boy has asked for a Lego Starwars Death Star (whatever the hell that is!). Hmm…. they might find a letter from Santa saying he has hurt his back and couldn’t deliver anything large this year. Do you think that would work?

Off I go to do some more organising.

And remember to pack the Ritalin!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A big week for the boy

This last week has been a bit one for the boy. He turned 8 on Wednesday and had a school sleepover on Friday night followed up by his party on Saturday. No wonder he is tired today!

The sleepover at school has been on my mind for a while because the boy doesn’t do sleepovers anywhere. We had been speaking very positively and enthusiastically about the sleepover at school for a while, that he would be with all his friends and in a room with 30 or so boys so it’s not like he would be alone….. etc etc.

On Thursday night it all came to a head and he went to bed crying that he couldn’t sleep without mum or dad there and he just needs us. It was decided that Dad would stay the night as well at school – not ideal but if it meant the difference between him staying or not then Dad would stay. He was happy after that.

At the end of school the next day I spoke to his teacher to tell her about the boy’s anxiety about the coming evening and how the man would be staying, and she said that she would prefer that he didn’t, that they would try to get him through the night by themselves. I asked that she be the one to tell the boy, as he wouldn’t believe me if I were to tell him that Dad wouldn’t be staying. So she did, at which he promptly burst into tears and said he wouldn’t stay then.

Fantastic!

I then didn’t say anything else about it, and drove home with the boy being very quiet in the back seat. I said we had to via Nan’s house to pick up a sleeping bad and he got a bit cross with that because he was in a hurry to get home and pack!!

Phew!

By the time we pulled into the driveway at home he was happy again and very excited to be going again. I had sent a message to the man earlier making sure that he wasn’t going to be home until after I had left to go back to school. Didn’t need to set the boy off again…

We went through a few strategies together that he could do if he got a bit homesick. Things like take a deep breath and thoughts like how proud he will be of himself when he has done it. And of course how proud we would be of him. When we were ready to leave he said, ‘If I get worried I just know to just get through it!’. Wow I thought!

I dropped him off at school and helped set up his bed, and didn’t see the boy again. He had taken off with his group of friends the minute we had finished in the room. I hardly got a ‘good-bye’. I wasn’t complaining!

It was very strange without him at home that night. I haven’t had a night without him for a long time, and if I am away somewhere then he is with the man at home. We went to bed with both mobile phones next to the bed in case we received a phone call in the night. But all was silent!

I asked him the next day how he managed to get to sleep, and he said that he just shut his eyes tightly and put his head under the blankets. Whatever works!!

We are so very proud of him, and how he has started to help himself though problems. We have noticed that he needs time to adjust to new situations and does a lot of internal talking and working out of problems.

Again, whatever works for him!

 

The homework dilemma

After another night of tantrums about homework I am about to throw in the towel. I have had enough and so has the girl.

She is tired. They are currently doing their two week swimming program at school and it is taking its toll on her.

Apparently they are meant to be doing about 25 mins of homework a night. I put an end to the girl doing hers after 3 hours tonight. And it still wasn’t finished…. Granted she was illustrating a story she has written but it was getting beyond a joke. And all the obstacles she puts in her way are unbelievable.

They have four activities they have to finish each week, as well as spelling words which sometimes are so hard that I would be hard pressed to spell them, and the usual reading plus learning their times tables for the weekly test…. and on it goes. Also, on a Thursday, the girl’s teacher is different and invariably will bring home another piece of work that has to be finished by the next day.

I know that there are children without Aspergers who struggle to do all their homework – or resist doing it for hours on end. I know we aren’t out of the ordinary, but how stupid it is to put the family under so much stress that we dread the arrival of each week and what work it will bring?

As the girl cried herself to sleep over all the work she hasn’t done I said that I would have a word to the teacher about it. I am not sure what I will accomplish but it is better to have it out in the open. The psychologist recommended that she don’t do any, but how does that help her when she starts High School? What do they do then?

Something else for us to worry about.

Friends and what is normal anyway?

The girl is having a possessive friend problem at the moment. She has worked so hard to expand her friendship group over the last year or so, and has a nice group now. Unfortunately one of her friends has had a falling out with the others and is now saying that the girl can’t play with the others.

This is upsetting to the girl, but she is going along with it because this girl is still her friend. The girl has no idea what is upsetting her friend and if I ask her what is happening she gets all upset and starts shrieking at me, which means she is confused. She is oblivious to it all. Must be nice in her head sometimes…

She has done a couple of years of social skills courses and occupational therapy and I don’t want all her hard work thrown out the window. She has done courses in conversation skills and how to treat people. She still needs help but doesn’t need to have to start all over again. All these girls have known each other for five years, so they know each other well. They know the girl and her quirks, and if they have stuck with her this long then they must be keepers.

So far this  other girl has made the girl play ‘spies’ on the other girls in the playground (there are too many girls involved – I am confused).  The girl doesn’t understand that that could get her into trouble or why. She still doesn’t ‘get’ a lot of the social rules. We are slowly getting there with her but it won’t ever truly set in.

If she does play with these other girls then the friend cries and says that she is abandoning her as well. She is torn and doesn’t know what to do. I don’t mind her having this friend, I have nothing against the girl per se, in fact I quite like the girl,  just don’t want her to have just ONE friend after everything she has been through. Trying to explain to the girl how friendship groups work is hard, and I am not sure what is normal for 9 year old girls , not having a normal 9 yo girl. Maybe all 9 yo girls act the same?

She gets so tied up in knots by all this happening that by the time she comes home she is in meltdown mode in the car. This then sets the boy off who yells at the girl who cries more – but I have been through all this before in another post.

We spend the evening talking it through and working out how she can help herself. She wants to play with all these girls but doesn’t want to hurt her other friend as well. I say to her that she can play with who she likes, and she needs to stand up for herself.

Easier said that done, I think we are all still learning that!

The boy and the run

This last week has been crazy.

The boy has been having complete meltdowns at the drop of a hat. To be honest I was expecting the police to show up at our door they were so bad. I would have quite happily let them in to babysit whilst I ran way if they did turn up.

We don’t know what has brought them on. It could be a number of reasons really. That he is back at school, or that he has a different teacher for a couple of weeks even though he knows the replacement, or it is that his daddy is not working from home at the moment so he isn’t here straight after school? Who would know….

Luckily for us he has stopped the hitting and kicking that he used to do. As he is so much stronger than he used to be (thanks steriods for kidney problems) he would really hurt us or himself now. Now he yells at us and calls us terrible terrible things like ‘you turkey breast tender!!!!’

You get yelled that and see how hard it is to keep a straight face whilst trying to remain calm and in control!! Hehe…. Many a time we have had to race into another room to keep from laughing in his face.

What else has he called up from the depths of his despair… There was ‘fat panda’ and ‘bunny rabbit’, ‘donkey kong’ and the list goes on. He has a problem with words and this is how it comes out.

Anyway, back to this week. The poor thing has been tied up in knots about a few things. On Tuesday his year level had the cross-country race. He decided on Monday afternoon that he wasn’t going to do it. All evening we had tears about it, saying how it was too long and his legs would hurt. And everyone would be looking at him. This I guess what the real crux of the problem. He really hates attention as you would have read about in previous posts.

I tried to explain that any parent who did turn up to watch would be looking at their child and not at all interested in watching him run. He didn’t get it.

On the battle continued the next morning.

We had tears from me him.  He wouldn’t get out of bed. Then he wouldn’t get dressed without threatening to take all of his toys away. And if he didn’t get dressed then he would be going to school in his pyjamas and then everyone would be looking at him!

I dragged him to the car. He cried all the way to school. Once in the car park at school he locked the car once I had got out. Luckily I still had a key! Wrestled him out of the car and walked a sobbing child into school.

There was no way I was turning up to watch the race a few hours later – it would start all over again if he saw me.

Maybe you are thinking that I shouldn’t have made him race. If I didn’t do it this year, then we would have the same thing next year. And then the year later. We decide which battles are important and which are not. We are trying to teach him that sometimes we have to do things that we don’t want to. Tough luck!

And the outcome of all this?

He came home as proud as punch because he finished 21st!  And it was fun apparently!

I needed wine that night!!!