Tag Archives: Pervasive Develomental Disorders

Sleeping Single?

No way out!

No way out!

Not only the last day of the year, but the LAST Monday of the month, as well.  Not only does this mean New Year’s Resolutions to make to be broken no later than January 2,  but it is also time to reflect on what has been a slice of perfection, for even a split second, in the last month for Perfect Moment Monday with Lori at Write Mind, Open Heart.

Not always easy, especially this month, which has held many challenges.  As I have said before, I believe I have done worn out my boot straps from pulling myself up.  Soooooooo, guess I’ll just have to buy some new ones,  as my Father’s voice continues to echo in my head, “I didn’t raise a whiner, quitter, or complainer.”  Thus my Boot Straps are on over night delivery and expect to be back on my feet……….or boots in the next 24 hours.

But while I’ve been “off of my feet” I got to thinking about what could be considered “my perfect moment” this month.  This brought me to thinking about Brotherly Love.  It seems to be an elusive, intangible bond…………..largely based on the fact that if you have Brotherly Love, you have all rights to trade their toys, eat their favorite cereal, steal their favorite book, blame them for anything missing or broken and  beat the crap out of them and you are still assured you have someone to play video games with the rest of the day.  I guess that’s what makes Brothers “lucky.”  

However, this is not something  I think that Johnny, The Big and The Little Brother are giving much thought.  I do think they enjoy having a “punching bag” though.  It is why I enjoy having a basement door.

Anywhoooooo, as I was saying……………..Brotherly Love, Perfect Moments……………not easy to combine.  But alas, I have………

Our home provides enough space that each Brother could have his own room.  However, it does not work that way.  Birth order having its privileges, The Big Brother does have his own room.  Johnny and The Little Brother, they share.  Why? Weellll, it must be character building, right?

Truth of the matter is, The Brothers are about the only friends Johnny really has.  A nasty side effect of Autism.  It makes me really sad at times but does not seem to rattle Johnny too much.  He is a solo operator.  Another reason it has always been so important for us that The Brothers learn to stick it out and stick together.

Mostly Johnny and The Little Brother get along just fine in their room together.  A little bit like the odd couple but mostly okay.  Except lately.  Lately, there has been some grumbling.  Johnny is a very early riser and not always quiet about it.  Causing The Little Brother to be up as well.  Causing a lot of “arguing” early in the morning.  On the other hand when Johnny is ready to go to sleep, do NOT get in his way.

Soooo, I started to think, maybe it’s time.  Maybe they need their “own space”.  I started to devise a plan for the “break-up” to happen over Christmas break.  Shared my plan with The Captain.  He was not “on board.”  His reasoning, “Johnny spends enough time alone, The Little Brother is his best buddy, I know he’s  9, but Little Brother is going to take one for the team.”

Hmmmm………….guess The Captain needs more convincing.  I was mulling all this over until one night……………………

Bedtime………………….and NOT a peaceful one.  Johnny and The Little Brother are at it.  Pointing fingers and I quote, “You’re annoying, NO YOU’RE annoying…….(get the picture)

Enter Mommy……………KNOCK IT OFF!!!  Johnny, “Mom, he’s annoying make him stop doing those noises.”  Now……..let me just say this never fails to crack me up when Johnny points the finger because he has just a few quirky ways.  Mommy had had it, NOT listening to anymore so I throw up my hands and BELLOW, “That’s it!!!  Johnny, get your things, you can sleep in your own room.  This news stops him in his tracks.  “WHAT?”

Johnny gathers up all things Batman and prepares to move.  “Where to?”  I tell him to Cousin Amber’s Old room.  So, he peaks out the door at the quiet, still room across the hall.  Then he turns and looks at his room.  All is quiet as he contemplates life on “his own.”  Next he looks at me, I continue to stare.  Finally, he speaks…………..”Mom, Can’t you just tell LITTLE BROTHER to stop being ANNOYING.”

Up pipes Little Brother……….”OH YEAH!, YOU’RE ANNOYING!”  In I chime………………Do YOU want to move to your own room?  A look of panic comes across his little face……………………No.

So in true Mommy style I state, with authority, “BOTH OF YOU, STOP BEING ANNOYING AND GO TO SLEEP.”

I turn and exit the room.   As I leave I feel a ping of joy and warm fuzzies………………………..Brotherly Love, True Brotherly Love……………maybe for more than a “moment.”

5 Comments

Filed under Johnny P

A Matter of Taste

Johnny sensed that possibly I was getting a little too comfortable being his Mom.  He must miss those early days of meeting all those nice security guards and other complete, random strangers.  Those were the days when autism kicked me in the pants on a daily basis.

Back in the day after meeting all these nice security type people and other helpful citizens, I would feel the need to explain to my new acquatinces how it is that my child escaped from the secure children’s play area in the mall,  rode the escalator to target, and was now sitting contently playing in the toy aisle.  Better yet, why it was that he was licking the swingset on the playground and drinking water out of the bathroom sink (yes, disgusting, I know) at the ballfield.

Not wanting to give the wrong impression, I would stare into their horror-sticken faces and go into great detail how my little boy had autism, that is why……………that is why,  it brought me to tears……… the comments……………the looks.  Because when your child is the one taste-testing the playground equipment and facilities, it is always helpful to have a well-meaning citizen inform me that I “really shouldn’t let him do that.”  REALLY??  Thanks for the tip!  I felt the need to let them know because I couldn’t, after all,  have these complete strangers thinking I was a bad parent.

After several years of that routine, I was plum wore out.  One from chasing Johnny all over these parks and ballfields (cause that boy is quick) and two, weellll…………….all that explaining to strangers was flat out EXHAUSTING.  I was never going to see those people again……………….I’m smarter than that………………..I would just switch parks.  That………..and I developed a new motto.  Upon releasing Johnny from his snack bar, aka, the swingset, I would gather The Brothers, announce our work here was done and simply………leave.  Head held high, dignity……………weelllll, as intact as possible.  He was licking the swingset afterall.

My point……….I thought those days were behind us, but apparently NOT!  Alas, just last week, at The Brother’s School, Johnny must have thought that the wooden block, used as a doorstop, looked pretty tasty, because there he was…………yes…………………licking it.

And this time no tears, (I have much more to cry about)…………….I looked at my friend, who clearly saw him snacking, smiled, shrugged my shoulders and said, “Wow, what progress, I don’t even feel like crying.”

So, thank you, Johnny, for being you.  For not letting me get too comfortable, for your daily insights, and for keeping me open to the many possibilities of life………………..like maybe if you do stand in front of two fans with your Batman Cape, you can fly………….and maybe, just maybe…………a doorstop does taste pretty good after a long, hard dayno explanation required………………

Leave a comment

Filed under Johnny P, NaBloPoMo

That’s the Facts

“There’s a time you got to go and show 
You’re growin’ now you know about 
The Facts of Life, the Facts of Life. 

When the world never seems 
to be livin up to your dreams 
And suddenly you’re finding out 
the Facts of Life are all about you, you. “

source: http://www.lyricsondemand.com/

I feel the need to follow-up on what I will now refer to as “The pants incident.”  Dear reader,  if you are lost please refer to my previous post, entitled, most appropriately, “Keep your pants on……literally.”

So………………this morning I send Johnny off to school feeling pretty confident that all pants will remain in their proper position.  One, because The Captain and I gave extensive speeches last night on keeping your privates, well, private.  I thought we did some pretty darn good parenting.  However, I have to humbly admit that what Johnny probably heard was much like Charlie Brown  when he was lectured.  So……let’s just say what his primary motivation for proper pants placement…………..you guessed it……………the stop in your tracks fear of spending the rest of the school year sentenced to the daily wearing of church pants.  Yep, I believe that little behavior modification was the supreme motivator.  Mom and Dad can go away for the school day………church pants………not so much.

Johnny kept this information fresh in his mind.  Yeeeeaaaaah, Mom…………………only one glitch……………I seem to have missed a very important notice that came home from school.  The one informing me that beginning TODAY, Johnny’s class would begin discussing………….say it isn’t so……………….. THE FACTS OF LIFE!!! (que music).

Yes, he is at that age……..much to my chagrin,  and as much as I prefer to……………I know I must keep my head out of the sand and Mom up.  Oh……….and pay better attention to the papers coming home.

I got to school to pick him up…………….he was standing at the door with his teacher…………not a good sign……ever!  Guess the “Facts of Life” was about as big a hit as algebra.  My Johnny is a literal man.  You do not tell him one day to keep it all private and then the next expect him to remain calm when what he is to keep covered is now PLASTERED ALL OVER A POWER POINT.  From all reports not a pretty scene.  Can you blame him?  Guess it’s hard for all to focus when Johnny is bellowing what all the other boys are  thinking, “GET ME OUT OF HERE, I DON’T LIKE THIS, I’M UNCOMFORTABLE.”  

Teacher’s suggestion……………..modified Facts of Life………….wonder what that leaves out.

Walking to the car…………..Johnny trailing behind pleading, “I can’t take that class, I can’t talk about puberty, I’M NOT EVEN A TEENAGER!!!  Good point, Johnny, Good point…………………now, let’s go find some sand………….. I feel the need to bury my head.

Leave a comment

Filed under Johnny P, NaBloPoMo

Keep your pants on…LITERALLY

Mommy’s Brave Face

Today I will be writing under the heading, “Never a dull moment” or better………… perhaps…………….., “The Once Again Futile Attempt to fly under the proverbial radar.”  Yeeeepppp……………………..I think that sums it up.  But Blessed are the Brief, so I will sum it up like this………………DRINK PLEASE!!

I get it, I know…………..Life is not easy and No One ever said it was, Life is not fair either and yeah, yeah………..I know…………..Sweet Darlin, no one ever promised you a rose garden.  I think roses aren’t actually necessary,  and at this point I would settle for some garden variety marigolds or even some of those pretty little white “flowers” we used to make “necklaces” out of when we were little.  But I digress…………………..

Anywhooo………………… with all of this knowledge of  ease and fairness, I ask you Dear Reader…………………can’t some things be easy, even a given……….like getting your kids to do the basics…………………you know, homework, brush their teeth, KEEP THEIR PANTS ON AT SCHOOL!!!!!!!

As I have said before, Johnny has been in school for a LOOOONNNNG time.  About 8 years now.  I like to think we got this down.  We know the ropes, when I tell him, “have a good day”, I suppose I should not have neglected to mention……………….AND KEEP YOUR PANTS PROPERLY FASTENED AROUND YOUR WAIST!!!!!!!!!!!  If you have a child that instinctively does this……………..GOD BLESS YOU, cause if you, like me, can’t always take the basics for granted, you are either laughing at me or crying with me, cause you know of the fun I speak.  I have said it before, I say it again………….Autism is the gift that keeps giving………one surprise after another.  It is not for the faint of heart, that is for sure, no matter your place on the spectrum.

What behavior modification technique did I utilize to reinforce the desired behavior.  Weeellllll, I dug deep into my vast wealth of behavior modification and came up with the following pearls of behavior wisdom……………………”JOHNNY! if you do that again in school you will have to wear church clothes with buttons, hooks and belts EVERY DAY!!!”

Yep, I did it, I went with scare tactics.  Sometimes operating on fear gets sold short.

Johnny’s response – Got it.

Me – Good.  And like I never met Johnny before……………… I just had to do it, ask that one question that I know better than asking………………..why Johnny?

Johnny – Cause my brain sometimes tells me to do dumb things……….(he looks at my glaring face, recalls the closet full of khaki pants and belts and re-considers)………….but I think now my mind just told my brain that we have learned our lesson.  Good Team Work, Johnny, Good Team Work.

Now Johnny, do Mommy a favor………………have your mind tell your brain to give your Mommy a break…………. or a drink…………all under the radar, of course.

3 Comments

Filed under Johnny P, NaBloPoMo

Things that make you go……………..

Master of the Mind

You know the saying……………..Things that make you go, HMMMMM.  So do I…………..in a real up close and personal way.  

One thing that made me go, HMMMMM.  The above photo.  Just look at him, cool as a cucumber, chillin like a villain, hangin like a tie………well…………..you get the idea.  Just moments ago, I caught Johnny in the act of doing virtually nothing.  It is like he has a switch and he just turned it off.  Because believe me, this is not a accurate  depiction of the Johnny we all know and love.  Weeellll, maybe it is, because I should have learned by now, the only laws of nature that Johnny follows are……………..Johnny’s.

Johnny starts his routine at the crack of dawn.  This routine generally involves starting the day with a heaping bowl of cereal and a random string of consciousness that defies all laws of caffeine consumption.  That is, good luck on keeping up.

For example, this morning………………..I was trying to get (with all boys in tow) to my glamorous substitute teaching job.  Johnny was not quite on board with all things real this morning.  Finally, frustrated I plead………….Johnny, reality please, reality.  To which he replies…………”Sooo, Mom, do you think all that exposure to Toxic Waste has finally made me crazy.  My response…………(nothing).  To which he replies…………”seriously, it could happen.”

Enough of that…………..I move past the Toxic Waste argument and focus on the ensemble he has selected for school.  Now, THAT was an eye opener……….Black shorts, white fruit of the loom t-shirt and white socks pulled up to his calves.  When I strongly recommended (okay, insisted he change) I learned something new about his school.  Apparently, (according to Johnny) there do not happen to be any “fashion critics” at his school.”

Because I had to get to school, I resisted the urge to repeatedly bang my head on my kitchen counter.

Fast forward to our evening…………………..Family night at the Book Fair.  I’m a sucker for books and The Brothers know it.  But I do have my limits.  For instance, I have to consider how many times in a 5 minute period I want to hear Johnny repeat the book word for word.  Imagine my hesitancy when he picked up Mysteries of the Strange and Unexplained.  Upon looking at one page he proudly proclaimed, “See, I knew aliens were real.”  Ooops, Big Mistake, book is going back, thought I.”  Always fast on his feet, he back peddles.  “No, No, I mean everyone knows Aliens are just real people born with a defect,  who like to go around playing practical jokes on people.  Guess all those UFO chasers……….the jokes on you.

Johnny peruses the book further.  OOoohhhh, the luck, A YETTI!!!  “Just wait till I scare Little Brother with this.  THAT’S IT, NO WAY, GIVE ME THE BOOK!!

No, Mommy, no.  I will just tell Little Brother that it isn’t a YETTI.  I will tell him that it is a Big White Gorilla, that got stuck in THE ARTIC!!

Soooo………….I’d like to confess to you, Dear Reader, I have officially, unofficially, officially lost my mind and I purchased this literary gem.  

I sat in my room listening to the read aloud of this literary masterpiece and considered my buyers remorse.  Taking the high road I decided to go with out of earshot, off my nerves.  In comes Johnny’s requested presence.  With all the Mommy niceness I can muster I kindly ask him to close my door.  His reply………………………………YETTI!

Things that make you go…………………………….DRINK PLEASE.

Leave a comment

Filed under Johnny P, NaBloPoMo

In Rear View – All Secure??!!

As I sat down to write my “Rear View” and I am drawing a blank.  If I was saavvy enough, (or not so lazy), I would wire The Brothers up with microphones and call it, “Life with Johnny – Live.”  That way you wouldn’t have to miss a moment.  Also, you might start to feel my fatigue and start bringing me meals.  Now that’s what I’m talkin about.   Or you would figure out I am a card short of a full house and someone might bring me a comfy special jacket to wear.  Naaahhhh, and miss all my life has to offer, NEVER,  okay…………….wellll, maybe.

The highlight of the week was Daddy’s (The Captain) promotion.  After 20 plus years of service in the Navy, he pinned on Captain.  It was a proud and touching moment for all of us.  Weellll, except Johnny……………. who was disappointed when he learned Daddy was “only a Captain” and “NOT an Admiral.”  We will tell Daddy to work harder, Johnny.  Here is Johnny after learning “the news.”

What??  He's not an Admiral!

Trying to contain his excitement!

The ceremony was in a really, really cool building that required “special” permission to enter.  Memo to Johnny…………… security is not amused when you play tug of war with your I.D. card.  MOST people just hand it over.  Johnny is NOT most people.  He, is, AFTER ALL, Johnny for a reason.

Another distraction, the building had a bowling alley.  Before I knew what was happening (a familiar theme) Johnny and The Little Brother were in search of an 8 pound ball and bumper guards.  No fun to be at a Daddy’s ceremony (in a really cool place)  if there is bowling just an elevator ride away.  Thank goodness there were cookies or they might have grabbed a cab…………..or a limo.

Since being trapped at a ceremony wasn’t enough fun for him, we followed up with a full day at Big Brother’s baseball game.  Big Brother playing baseball is the gift that just keeps giving…………..Johnny a fit.  And since last weeks game involved 2 extra hours in the parking lot after the game due to a flat tire, he was not full of warm fuzzies to return to the scene of the crime.  Insult to injury…………………..NO snack bar.  NACHOS are generally the only reason he makes it through.  Now Mommy had to pack a cooler AND a big brown grocery sack like we couldn’t be away from our pantry for more than an hour.  Good thing I got numb to being stared at a LONG TIME AGO!!

Here is Johnny enjoying yet another one of his Brother’s baseball games……………………GO TEAM!.  Weeelllllll, that is what he is thinking……………….I’m positive………………….you be the Judge……..

Go Team!!!

Johnny does like to use his time at these events to ponder lifes questions.  And they are better answered bellowed at your brother in the dug out like this………………………….

“HEY, BIG BROTHER, DOES YOUR SCOUT TROOP TAKE A TRANQUILIZER GUN CAMPING FOR WHEN YOU ARE ATTACKED BY BEARS???”

Don’t think he did the batter any favors.

Along for all the fun this weekend was The Grandma and Grandpa.  Johnny was excited to have them and didn’t want them to leave.  Or as he said, “Grandma, why don’t you stick around till Halloween so Grandpa can dress up like Jabba the Hut?”  Touching………………….huh?

Johnny and I drove Grandma and Grandpa to the airport today.  Johnny asked, “HEY! why don’t we go on a plane anymore?!”

Me – Weeeelllll, because it costs A LOT of money!

Grandma – Johnny, you just tell me when you want to come and we will put you on a plane.

Johnny – Said nothing, but EYES got really, really big.

I don’t know if those eyes were in disbelief that he might have scored an airplane trip……………………… OR he was already thinking all the fun he was going to have with securityIf this happens……………..stay tuned to your National News.

Cause that’s how Johnny “rolls”. ……………..regardless of the view point.………..or security.

Leave a comment

Filed under Johnny P

I’m Fine…….and you?

Fifth Grade

Ready to Rule the School.

Autism.  I have not written much about this side of Johnny.   Although not readily apparent to those who meet him, it is there.  I do not like to think of Autism as who he is but it is part of him, it is one thing that makes him so unique and not merely a statistic.  A friend once said his diagnosis should be quirky.  Johnny is his OWN man.  He has his own drummer, for sure.  If you have had the pleasure of meeting him, you know what I mean.

Due in large part to early intervention and absolutely wonderful, compassionate, caring teachers, WITH an incredible sense of humor, Johnny  is very high functioning.  People that just meet us have stated, “he seems fine to me, how Autistic is he?”  To which I like to answer, “Just enough.”  Just enough to keep life interesting and everyone on their toes.  But I also want to add…………… if you only knew.  If you only knew how far he has come.  You are able to ask that question because of the long path we have walked.

Johnny started school this week.  A new year in a new school.  He is in Fifth grade now and I have to take a moment to count how many schools he has attended.  Johnny started school (pretty much full time) when he was three.  His first school bus ride was in diapers.  He was fine but I think I cried like a baby in diapers.  It just did not seem right to put this Little Guy, in diapers, on a bus.  He  rode the “special” bus.  Anyone who has put their child on this bus knows the fear and heartache.  It was not an easy decision.  But as decisions go, it has ultimately been one of the best decisions we ever made.

I just took my moment and calculated………. EIGHT………… he has now attend EIGHT schools.   A funny thing with Autism and other Spectrum Disorders is that routine and schedules are generally a “really big deal” for these kiddos.  Knowing what to expect can keep his anxiety at a low ceiling instead of a through the roof  level, which can be heart breaking to watch.  However, not all schools are equipped with Autism programs, which has made it necessary for Johnny to attend a new school each year for a few years.  This was mostly the case when he was of the pre-school age.  Add to that we are a Military Family and the numbers go up.

Sending him off this year to Fifth Grade in a new school was nerve-wracking………… for Mommy…………. he seemed fine.  His biggest concern………………when was lunch?………….and did I remember his lunch money?  Why was I nervous?  Weeellllll, let me count the ways.  Like I said, this is school Number Eight.  

Fifth grade triggered something in me.   As I was walking him to school it struck me, WOW!!! FIFTH GRADE, IN THE “REGULAR” CLASSROOM!  I remember when I didn’t think this would ever be his reality.  I couldn’t imagine him functioning in the “regular” classroom.

We have come a LONG, LONG WAY  from the pre-school days of pacing and running circles around while constantly humming to soothe himself.   Lunch time used to mean sitting in a semi-circle with a teacher at a table to eat and learn to tolerate new foods.  Going to any assembly required headphones to block out all of the noise and extra stimulation, if we could get him there at all.  On good days he would go into the “regular” classroom with an aide.  The preferred activity at recess was sitting alone in the sandbox.  Notes home read like this……….”Johnny is wearing a pair of “borrowed” socks.  His got wet because we found him standing in the toilet.  Please talk to him about this.”  NOT even making that up.  There are many similar notes.  I kept the “communication” notebooks from every class.  Actually, they are somewhat amusing.  I remember then we had to laugh or we definitely would have cried.  Proud to announce, that is the LAST time he stood in the toilet at school.  He’s moved on to other behaviors, like making sure the teacher sticks to her schedule, literally.

As the parent of a child with Autism (no matter where on the spectrum) you constantly worry about their future and ability to be independent.  I spent A LOT of time on this worry.  One of his first Pre-school teachers said it best, “Johnny is going to be fine.  He might not be a salesman, he might be the guy content to work quietly by himself but HE is going to be JUST FINE.”  It was Mommy that needed the work………..I think.

In those pre-school and early elementary years so much seemed so overwhelming.  And I’m not talking about for Johnny!  Learning to manage all these behaviors, emotions and needs was all-encompassing.  Like for all children.  We had several years where it seemed that we would have a perpetual toddler.   Part of me wanted to think, who cares, let him wear headphones and sit alone in the sandbox, he’s content.  Who cares if he plays with Thomas the Train in high school.  He’s happy.   But……………..we knew for his success and independence in life he (and we) were going to have to experience a lot of uncomfortable moments (again, like everyone).  AND we most certainly have.  There were a lot of tears of frustration in those days (Johnny and Mommy).  It was not if Mama ain’t happy, it was if Johnny ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.  Actually, it is still a little like that.

Fast forward to Fifth Grade…………….No bus………..we walked to school, WITH no complaining, thank you very much.   Johnny  isn’t big on physical exertion.  He took notebooks in his backpack, NOT diapers.  No lectures were given on playing in the toilet, just reminders about turning in our lunch money and medical forms.  He was walking into the “regular” classroom with some assistance from an aid.  His back pack was plain black, NOT Thomas the Train (which I kind of miss).  HE was telling ME his plan for doing his homework right after school.  I wasn’t having to show him a picture schedule of what he was going to do.  Instead of a bus aide walking him to the school door or Mommy holding his hand, he walked solo on the path………. turned around, “Bye Mom, see ya.”  And I heard that Pre-School teacher’s voice in my head, he’s fine, he is going to be JUST Fine.

As for me…………… weeellll, Mommy is getting better EVERY YEAR!

I’m OK, Mommy, and You?

3 Comments

Filed under Johnny P