A family's story

Posts tagged ‘SPD’

Try Something New


With kids, trying something new can be a little scary. With special needs kids, trying something new can be downright horrifying. Will they tolerate noise? Will they be okay out of routine? Will they enjoy themselves? Will they use their manners? Will they use expected social behavior? Will they communicate their needs to us? The list goes on and on and on…However, we only truly grow when we have these new experiences and determine whether or not we like them, and whether or not we want to incorporate them into our lives.

Last Saturday Hubz had a suggestion to beat the winter doldrums. He suggested roller skating–again. Now, we had toyed around with the idea of going roller skating since last summer when Tate would try to wear our neighbor’s roller skates around the block. I had always put it off–finding something else for us to do instead. The thought of wrangling our three boys onto a rink, while all of us were wearing wheels was a bit daunting. On Saturday, though, I had run out of alternate plans and excuses. We had ZERO going on that day. We had a lot of boredom and ennui with the TV programming and being in the house together–since winter just doesn’t want to loosen its grip on our area! I hesitantly agreed to go roller skating with all three boys.

Hubz’s suggestion was met with mixed emotion. Tate and Cole were willing to try it out. Jake wasn’t too sure. We sold it to the kids as a fun-filled activity, where there were some arcade games and fun with their cousins. (Hubz asked his sister’s family to join us there..and luckily they were free!)

I started to feel overwhelmed as we waited to get into the rink. It was crowded. I think everyone in our area had a similar idea–let’s go do something active INSIDE while it was frigid OUTSIDE. And it was dark, with strobe-lights and flashing lights. And, of course, it was LOUD. Music blared from the speakers. Kids shrieked with glee–and fear. Everyone was talking over each other to try to be heard…I felt my heart rate increase, but tried to play it cool for the kids. We found Hubz’s sister and the kids. They were already in their skates.

I made my way to the counter to obtain skates for our ragtag bunch. The staff member who waited on me called me “ma’am”. Ugh. Gut punch. I felt really, really old, anyway, and then he “ma’am-ed” me. I asked for the five various sizes of skates, and he eagerly brought them to me. I noticed that they had these walker-like contraptions for beginner skaters–or skaters who might not be super coordinated once they had wheels on their feet. I asked for two.

Getting skates on three children, none of whom had ever really been skating before, was a sight. There was sighing. There was whining. There was scripting. There was reassurance being handed out like candy. “You will be fine.” was my script of choice. By the time all five of us had skates laced up and ready to go, Hubz and I had droplets of sweat on our brow. Hubz shot me a look and asked what he had been thinking. I just wryly smiled back at him.

We entered the rink with trepidation. BAM! Jake was down. BAM! Tate was down. Cole was a speed-demon with that walker- thing. Of course he fell a few times, but he got right back up and skated around the rink again. His issue was that he got bored with skating around in circles and wanted to sit down right-in-the-middle-of-the-rink….which is highly frowned upon by the teeny-bopper “refs” who rule the roost there. Oy!! (Also, did you know that you cannot wear your hipster-Vera-Bradley-mom-bag while roller skating? Yeah, me either. I spent about $1.50 putting things into that darned locker that day…)

For a little while, things seemed ok. All three boys were trying…and that gave me and Hubz a little relief. But, just as soon as we were like, “Ok, this is cool”, things started to unravel. Jake did not like it. He cried in frustration. It was too loud.  Too demanding. He struggled to stay up, and he was slightly too tall for the “walker”, so his back was starting to hurt. He was done about 30 minutes into our “fun” day.  To his credit, Jake did keep trying, and he listened to suggestions to try to make the experience a bit easier. However, skating was just not his thing that day.

Tate, however, loved it. He loves  movement. He loves repetition. He loved going around in circles over and over and over again. He loved the breeze on his face when he went faster with Hubz. He loved the bumps of the floor beneath his feet. The constant rhythm of the wheels going round and round and round. I think he also really enjoyed the pattern of the lights that were flashing about us. He lasted the longest of our 3, going around a few times with just Hubz, as I sat with our two other boys who were even over the arcade portion of the visit.

Cole was just lazy. He did his laps around the rink. When nothing super exciting like ninja-skaters or Jedi-knights came out of the woodwork, I think he was bored. “This is it?!” He wanted to play chase games with his cousin…and he knew that he would be much faster on foot than on those stinkin’ skates.

We wrapped it up after about an hour. The kids were done, and Hubz, his sister, brother-in-law, and I were suffering from throbbing ears and headaches. (Seriously, what the heck was with the strobe lights and fog machines and concert-noise-level music?! Ohhh…that’s why that kid “ma’am”-ed me….)

As much as I didn’t want to go, I’m glad that I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and tried something new. We never know what an experience will hold unless we try….and we learned that skating does not hold much allure for at least one of our children. The other two may happily go again in the future…and we know that Tate will filter out the unfavorable parts because he loves the motion and repetition.

**On a side note, if you’ve been to a roller rink on a Saturday afternoon in February, have you ever noticed that some of the adults there are stuck in a time warp? I was all, wow, the 80’s never left…the big hair, the moves, some of the music, the outfits. It was like I was 12 again…..


Squeaking, Like a Mouse

This past Saturday, Hubz and I were watching football playoff games with my sister and her husband. None of us had a vested interest in the teams playing, so it was fun to watch. We had some sandwiches and snacks and chatted as we watched the two games. When the game between the Seahawks and New Orleans was looking to be a foregone conclusion, we switched to watching Iron Man 3 for a bit.

While we were watching the game, the boys were playing in the basement. They also watched way too much TV, but they were content and relatively quiet and getting along, so who was I to put a stop to that?! Right after we got the boys some dinner and set them up with a movie in the basement, Tate came charging up the stairs. “Daddy!!” Hubz was busy, so asked if I could help. Tate was adamant that “Daddy” had to come downstairs. In his exact words, “Daddy, help. There is squeaking, like a mouse.” Hubz was a bit annoyed, but if Tate says he hears something, you do NOT question it. Hubz went downstairs, listened a bit, and looked around. He concluded that it was just the furnace.

About 5 minutes later, Tate scrambled up the stairs again. “DADDY!! DA-DEE!! COME HERE! THERE IS SQUEAKING!” Hubz rolled his eyes. I asked if I could come check it out instead. Nope. Tate has declared that Hubz deals with these issues. So down he went, again, to appease Tate. I heard Jake telling Hubz and Tate that it couldn’t be a mouse because mice are hibernating from the cold right now…they wouldn’t be in our house. Ha ha ha! (I’ll let him believe that…in fact, I think I want to believe that.) Hubz came back up saying that it was nothing, and that he wished Tate would let it go.

Hubz was no sooner on the couch when Tate was at the door to the basement. He was practically in tears. “DAD-EEEEE!! HELP! The squeaking!!!!!!” If it wasn’t dealt with soon, it could have brought on a meltdown. Hubz went down. He was down there for a few minutes, there was a flurry of activity, and I heard him telling the kids that they needed to come sit upstairs for a few minutes while he dealt with the sump pump. Uhhh…that didn’t sound good.

As he walked into the family room, Hubz whispered in my ear, “Ummmm….there’s an opossum in the window well. I need to get it out. Keep them up here.” EWWWWWWW! Thank goodness he went down there, because if I had seen an opossum in our window well, it would not have been handled in such a calm, cool manner. My screams would have likely caused a huge meltdown and scene. I kept the boys in the family room, while my sister and brother-in-law helped keep them believing that it was just something with the sump pump.

Hubz went outside to deal with our visitor. He said it was decent sized, and kept hissing at him. He couldn’t get a good grip on it with one set of tongs, so he asked for the fireplace tool to flip logs. Using that, he was able to get it up and out of the window well. He flung it, hissing, into the yard. If you look in our yard, you can see the spot where the thing landed. Ew, ew, ew! It stood up, hissed at Hubz again, and then waddled off. Mission accomplished.

Any of the other boys would have listened and dismissed the squeaking as just a by-product of the sump pump or furnace, but not Tate. He KNEW it was a critter. Even as Hubz said he was going outside to deal with the sump pump, Tate said, “You’re going to get the bunny out of the window.” Yes, Tate…”the bunny”. I think seeing a hissing, mangy, ticked off opossum would have scarred him for life. Or well, at least until his teens.

Yesterday, I admittedly was a bit afraid to go outside….I kept thinking that maybe it decided to take shelter in the area where we keep our garbage cans…and what if it attacked me in revenge?! Ugh. Never, ever a dull moment at our house….


Summer, for our boys, is winding down. We have three weeks left of our “carefree” days and relaxed schedule. Well, considering our family, we have about week left of that. It takes about two weeks to re-establish school year routines and such.

I have noticed that as our summer has gone on, and as ESY has ended and therapists are off for their vacations, Tate has become more and more stimerific. He’s flapping a lot more. He’s doing his little dance more. He’s pacing in front of the TV as old favorites like Max and Ruby or Octonauts play. He’s squeaking and watching fan videos, and has even returned to watching his beloved Wow!Wow!Wubbzy videos on Youtube. I am not complaining, because, well, as he stims, he is keeping himself calm. He is not melting down. He is not regressing (too much) in terms of other areas like speech or motor skills. He’s trying to find his happy place.

Today Tate spent about a half an hour outside playing with the hose. Watching him with water is mesmerizing. He has a definite pattern of how he plays. He starts in the corner by our chimnea. He flushes it out and watches as water streams through the grates. Then he sprays down my plants. (Sadly, my jalepeno plant was a casualty, but we’ll live.) After those are sufficiently moistened, he walks over to the edge of the patio by the family room sliding doors. He has a piece of firewood that he pulled out of our pile. It has a hole. He has eroded a bigger hole as he forces water into it at full blast. Once that is accomplished, he waltzes over to the center of the patio, and acts like a sprinkler. He twists and turns and sprays down almost everything in his path. Today he was whipping the hose like he was Indiana Jones. I was amused. He was incredibly happy. Squealing and scripting to his heart’s content.

As I type, he and Cole have pulled the cushions off of the couch in the tv room. Cole is trying to play hot lava with him. Tate would rather jump on my poor cushions and flap as he does so. The movement is soothing. It keeps him grounded. Cole is a bit frustrated…but he’s handling it quite well.

My stimerific kiddo is finding his way right now. He’s really trying to hang in there until our schedule gets back to a more predictable pace. I hope that we can keep the stims going until then. Only 25 more days. (Now I must go make sure no one breaks his neck while avoiding the hot lava…or doing a jumpy stim….)

Summer Time Blues…

Hi out there!!

I got off the blogging track, so to speak, when we took our vacation, and it’s been difficult to find time or my groove, since. I’m trying to cope with my own high anxiety, while managing that of my kids, as we enter the dog days of summer. It isn’t going so well…and I find myself struggling a bit.

Writing my blog is cathartic for me, so hopefully I’ll be able to get here more. I need to make time! We’ll see, though…starting August 5th through the 25th, I’ll have all 3 kids home with me. Tate should have ABA, which should give me some time (Cole and Jake play very well together), but who knows…

I am steeling myself for the next couple of weeks. That anxiety beast will be lurking in every corner of our house. We have a load of back-to-school activities to get through. AND we’ll be trying to squeeze in all of the fun summery stuff that we haven’t managed to fit into our schedules yet. Routines will be shot..and well, none of us really do well with that. Especially my two oldest children.

Oh, and the ABA saga…I gave notice to our ABA provider today. I put it off as long as I could. I really dislike conflict/terminating relationships. Even bad ones. But, I did it. Tate’s last day with that company will be August 23rd…unless there is some policy they have somewhere that says otherwise. (I couldn’t find anything, though, so I think 4 weeks notice is sufficient.)

Now I am all nervous about meeting our new provider. We’ll meet on August 15th. But we have already talked on the phone, as well as emailed back and forth. I have a good feeling about this one. I really do.

I am still waiting to hear if there is a snowball’s chance in Arizona of Cole getting into a morning preschool class in our district. I am currently worked up over how I’m going to manage to get my children from 2 different schools at the same time. It will work itself out, but I am perseverating. Oh, and I fluctuate from feeling good about putting Cole in a 5-day-a-week program to feeling like a bad mom. That mom guilt. It’s awful!

Oh, and like so many other kiddos on the spectrum who are not used to so much free time, Tate is more stimmy. He’s more scripty. He is sensory seeking all.the.time. I am running interference between him and his brothers…who try to be understanding, but who also need their own stims and quirks to play out to keep their shtuff together in this “free” time of summer. 

On the upside, the weather has been relatively pleasant. Fall-like, but pleasant. I like lower humidity and cooler temps. I feel much more human (and my hair doesn’t look nearly as homeless). I would be fine with our temps hovering in high 70’s-low 80’s for the rest of the summer season. Really, I would.

So, the short of it is that I’m going to try to blog more…and we have a lot going on, just like everyone else….c’mon school!!!


10 Reasons Why Summer Can Suck It

I’m not the biggest fan of summer. In fact, I can think of several reasons why I am not cheering the glories of summer. Here are 10…I’ll hold onto the others for another time when I’m as grumpy as I am today with our heat index.

10. My children don’t sleep in. Doesn’t happen. I remember that I never was one to really sleep in at my house when I was growing up, however, I gave my mom the courtesy of at least sleeping until at least 8. She woke up at 5 most days, so that was 3 hours of alone time. I get zilch. They come wake ME up each morning.

9. My hair is a permanent frizz-ball. I blame my Eastern European roots. I have a lot of wavy hair that gets bigger and bigger as the dew point goes higher and higher. Remember the show FRIENDS? Remember the episode where they are in the Bahamas and Monica’s hair grows to epic proportions? Yeah. That. I have tried every anti-frizz product on the market. Baloney, I say. I get these obnoxious little curly cues up on my forehead, too. They were cute when I was 7. At 37, not so much.

8. The boys bicker. A lot. More than during the school year. I know it’s the whole being together more thing. But holy moly. I am over it. Wayyyy over it. I kind of want to put them in a room, lock the door and tell them to hug it out. That might not end well, though.

7. I get all hot and sweaty. I don’t glisten. I sweat. There’s no euphemism for it. I dislike never feeling fully dry and sticking to everything. This would be where my sensory avoidance is evident. Very evident. Yuck.

6. My asthma bothers me more. The heavy air, thick with mold spores, attacks my lungs and makes me feel like a 300 pound person is sitting on my chest. I have to slow down. Way down. Exercising outdoors is almost non-existant. Thank goodness for air conditioning and exercise videos. And treadmills. And air conditioning. Did I mention the air conditioning???

5. Everything stinks more. Hubz has said that I have a sense of smell like a bloodhound. That’s great and all, except when the heat and humidity cause garbage and yard waste to decay at an exponentially faster rate. Just taking our garbage out makes me gag. Also? I am at armpit level of most people. Yeah. Double gag.

4. My children don’t respond very well to the phrase, “we’re just hanging out”. Part of it is our always-scheduled lifestyles. Part of it is that they crave structure. My childhood summers of improvisation and creative pretend play where we left at 9:00 in the morning and didn’t really come home until it was dinnertime at 6:00 are long gone. Even if we don’t have plans, I have to come up with something (admittedly, that is usually watching TV) as our “plan” for the next hour or two or five.

3. It’s hot and humid. Did I mention this already? I really don’t like the heat and humidity. The Midwest is great and all because we get the seasons..but really, I could do without the extremes. 96 and a heat index of 104 is not exactly fabulous. Especially when one opens the door and the air hits like a ton of bricks (on the chest…remember the asthma). It’s so not cool feeling like the oven is blasting when I step outside to get the morning paper at 7:00 in the morning.

2. The way my children react to heat and humidity. Mostly I’m talking about Tate. It causes his system to go haywire. He is constantly sensory-seeking. He’s upside down, sideways, and backwards. He becomes very oral and ornery. Like the rest of us, he slows down, including his processing speed, which is already somewhat slower than the average bear’s. I try to respect that and wait for him, but oh my…it is hard…especially when I’m hot and tired and pushed to my limits because of the heat, humidity, my aching lungs, my sticky arms and legs, and general frustration with the kids’ bickering. Jake and Cole have shorter tempers and less tolerance for each other and Tate, as well. It’s awesome. And when I say awesome, I mean not.

1. The mosquitoes! Oh dear God in heaven above, the mosquitoes. Right now they are the size of hummingbirds, and they are relentless. I stepped out on the front porch, and one dive-bombed my head. I smashed it and ended up with blood all over my hands. Gross. And they attacked Tate last week. He is allergic, so he swelled. Poor kid got a bite on his eyelid. He couldn’t open his eye on Friday. It was that bad. And we’re all itchy on top of being sweaty and hot and short-tempered and bored and sleep-deprived and asthmatic. Darn mosquitoes.

I get it

This past Saturday our family ventured out to a local AMC theater for the sensory-friendly showing of Despicable Me 2. We even brought Hubz’s parents along for the ride. Originally, Hubz’s parents had offered to take the boys by themselves, but Tate can be a wildcard, so we decided that we should all go. It was a very enjoyable morning.

Tate has done the movie thing enough now to know the routine. We go through the big doors, buy our tickets by the glass, get popcorn and find a good seat. Tate was beyond thrilled that the movie was being shown in one of the big theaters. He chose seats front and center, right off of an aisle. 

He played with my phone and munched on his popcorn as we waited for the show to start. As we sat and waiting for those 5 minutes, we noticed a boy walking around the theater. He would go down a few steps, or walk across the walk way and rhythmically pat his tummy. Step step step….pat pat pat. Step step step….pat pat pat. There was a very definite pattern to it. He wasn’t bothering anyone, aside from the few times he got a *little* too close to Tate’s popcorn, and Tate shooed him away. His mom apologized as she chased after him the one time. I shook my head as if to say, “no worries”. I smiled. I get it.

After the movie, which got double thumbs up from our boys, we all went to Red Robin. We were seated in a corner booth, and Tate arranged himself so he could have a view of every ceiling fan in the joint. He also had to have the end seat. It’s his thing. 

We asked for some fries to tide us over as we waited for our meal. The waitress brought them out with our drinks. We have found that if we get Tate a little sample of what’s to come, he’s content and much less likely to get overwhelmed by anxiety about when food will arrive. 

As Tate, Jake & Cole inhaled the fries, a mom and her two children were seated at the booth next to ours (behind Tate). They had been there for possibly 5 minutes when Cole announced that he had to use the facilities. As my four guys headed out of the booth, the little boy in the booth next to ours was flipping his knife. Just.like.Tate.

My mother-in-law leaned over with a smile. That looks familiar, doesn’t it? Yes, yes it does. 

I applaud the mother in that booth. She ventured out to a restaurant by herself with her two kids. It was clear that she was overwhelmed. I know that look. It is a big deal to do that by one’s self. I get it

The little boy was fidgeting and moving all over his seat. He was annoying his older sister. She started to whine. Knowing that her son needed a movement break, and knowing that she needed a few moments collect herself, she asked her daughter to walk the little boy over to the arcade games and entrance, where there was a tv in the floor. As her kids were preoccupied, she pulled out her phone and was clearly trying to catch up on email or Facebook or the Interwebz. She caught me looking at her. She got no judgement. She got no stink eyes. She got a smile and a nod. I get it.

My boys came back and we got our food. It was a blur of action for the next 10 minutes. And then…we were done. Cole was sitting under the table. Jake was playing with his french fries and asking if he could get new Beyblades (his go-to conversation when he’s bored and unsure of what to say). Tate was playing with Hubz’s phone and was starting to stim vocally. 

We got the waitress’s attention and started to clear out. As we were finishing up, I was able to sneak a peak at our booth neighbors. Their food had arrived. The little girl was using her mom’s pen and was trying to do some of the puzzles on the kids’ menu as she ate her hamburger. The mom was pouring the lemonade from the Red Robin cup into his sippy cup. As she tightened the lid, her son flipped his corn dog the same way as he had been flipping the knife. He was playing a game on his mom’s phone. As she got a moment of peace as she nibbled a fry. She looked relieved to have that one moment. That split second of quiet in an otherwise chaotic day. I smiled in her direction because, well, I get it.

The PLAY Date

Yesterday we had another play date. This play date was with Tate’s friend Geo. I’ve written about Geo before. Here, here and here. They love each other’s company. When they get together they can get squirrely, and they truly enjoy each other’s company. And isn’t that the point of being a kid? Being squirrely and goofy with your friends?? I had much less anxiety about this pairing than I have had with others. Selfishly, I know that for me it’s due to the fact that Geo’s mom gets the whole autism thing. The whole SPD thing. The whole ADHD thing. She lives this every day, as well. I don’t have to explain anything..and it saves so much energy! For Tate, he knows Geo is one of his peeps..and he loves Geo.

Tate’s therapist said that yesterday was the most engaged she’s ever seen Tate with another child. They played, reciprocated, and conversed. They each chose activities, and the other would join in the fun. She was able to get Tate to explain directions to a game to Geo, too. He rarely does that with his own brothers!! Even though I spent most of the play date out of the way, from the tone of their voices, I could tell that they were happy. Happy. And my heart sang. (Take THAT, ABA director who said that she’d prefer play dates with only typical peers.)

Tate knows that when he’s with Geo that he can be himself. He doesn’t feel the same pressure or anxiety that he tends to feel when he’s with typically developing peers. He knows that Geo “gets” him..and he gets Geo. They know what can set the other off, and they have a respectful way of interacting. Silly, yes, but ever so respectful. I feel privileged when I get to listen in on their fun.

It is said that when we find “our” people, we just know. We can let our guard down. We can laugh fully, smile brightly. We can relax and enjoy the moment. For Tate, yesterday’s play date was just that. Geo is one of Tate’s people. Tate knows it. Watching Tate with Geo is exciting. He smiles a lot. He giggles. He rarely needs to stim. He asks Geo questions and answers Geo’s, too. He may not use full sentences, but Geo and Tate have a connection…and sometimes only words or phrases need to be used.

What makes this even more amazing is that Geo and Tate haven’t been in class together (aside from the past couple of weeks of ESY) since early 2012. And yet, they fell into the same wonderful rhythm and routine together. I can’t stress enough how wonderful that was for both boys.

The best part of yesterday?? Once Geo had gone home, and after the therapist had left for the day, I asked Tate what his favorite part of the day was. And you know what he said?? “When I got to play with my friend, Geo.”

My friend Geo. Cue the happy tears. My son has a friend. He is experiencing true friendship. And I couldn’t be happier for him. That one statement created hope anew. He is experiencing a friendship. It’s organic and beautiful…and true.

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