Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Careless? (Journal #33)

I am curious that if I wonder less, that means I care less?

What I really mean is this...I am learning to not "wonder or worry about" what others think.

I used to wonder...

...what the neighbors thought, when they can hear screaming from our house and yard a lot. Sam screams a lot still, even though he is more verbal. His tantrums are getting more frequent and louder the older he is getting it seems. Although really, we have decided it is just that he can do more with his body because he is bigger. When he is mad, he is so quick to slam doors, throw whatever is in sight and scream. We don't leave windows open a lot.

I used to wonder...

...what people thought when they see us chasing this little boy (who now looks like he should know better). He runs away like a 2 year old constantly. The other night, we were outside working in the yard until well after dark and Sam escaped us. It was scary to chase him in the dark and the thought of going through neighbors yards, not knowing what you may encounter. I felt like doing one of his dinosaur screams myself.

I used to wonder...

...if people thought I was a bad parent for having this "out of control" child in public (as it appears to others). Monday was the mother of all mother days. We had so many back to school errands to do. Unfortuntately the last event was to have brother try on 5 pairs of pants at the alterations store. Patience was not on Sam's agenda (nor should have been for anyone who encountered our long day, bad planning on Mom's part). I was trying to help Zach try on pants, then have him stand on the podium for the lady to mark, while chasing Sam who was cowering under every chair he could find, or running into the dressing rooms and slamming the doors. The nice lady just smiled and kept saying, "very busy boy, wow...very busy boy, wow." I tried to explain to her he had Autism, but she just smiled and said "that's nice". She speaks minimal English, but has been a great seamstress for us this past year. At least she was still smiling when we left. I hope that means we can still come back to pick up Zach's pants next week. I don't think she kicked us out.

I used to "wonder and worry" a lot about what others thought. I grew up in a family that expected us to be perfect little puppets in public. We were always cautioned to worry about what others thought of us. It was my parents best way of teaching us to be respectful. It can also cause severe paranoia! I have realized that I have expected way too much from Sam's older brother Zach for way too long. He is just going to be 9, but we have been making him be accountable for his behavior and interactions with his brother in ways most children wouldn't understand for the last 4 years almost.

I don't wonder anymore. We will continue to hold our son's hand in almost every place we go for his safety and our peace of mind, we will continue to just hold him and love him and not discipline him while he is having a melt down, we will continue to allow Zach to just be a kid and not expect so much, we will continue to ignore behavior from Sam that could escalate if we didn't and not worry about what others think. We will continue to shop for our needs and do errands, regardless of what people think about Sam's constant jabbering, loud voice or tantrums.

It has been hard learning to care less about what others think. But I have to for my sanity and the sake of my boys who just want to be my beautiful children. I just pray that by my caring less about what others think, doesn't ever allow me to be careless.

Friday, August 25, 2006

A new planet- Buzz Lightyear (Journal#32)

Just as I start to brag about Sam sleeping so much better to family and friends, it is then that my blessing is toppled. Last night was a night! Perhaps Sam was star gazing and already preparing for the International Astonomical Union's morning announcement denouncing Pluto. He does sense things before they happen I believe!! :) So, last night I decide to do a Walmart run since Brent was leaving the next day for a business trip to Kansas City (and I am not up to taking Sam shopping, considering the past week). I got home around 1:30am, and Brent and I talk to the wee hours.

Just as our eyes grow heavy, we hear a cry from Sam's room. He wet the bed. We hurry down, comfort him, clean him up. At that point, we decided to part the waters to get to bed sooner. Brent would snuggle in with Zach in his bed and I would take Sam to ours. It was another one of those nights. Sam did not go back to sleep until around 5:30, of which the time we needed to get Brent out of bed (who really hadn't slept). So both of us got no sleep. Unfortunately for Brent, he had to beat rush hour downtown to an 8am meeting, then fly off to Kansas City for the next couple days. I hope he gets zzzzzzz on the plane.

So the morning was sluggish. The boys and I were snuggling in Zach's bed. I was half conscious, but enjoying them looking at a toy catalogue together. It was a peaceful calm time for them and Zach was being such a good big brother. Sam would say to Zach, "what dat?" and Zach would gently explain to Sam what the toy was and what it did. In the middle of the boys sharing together, the phone rang.

Brent had called and demanded to speak to Zach right away. I could hear the conversation, and Brent was excited and telling Zach about the morning news and the reduction of supposed 10 planets now down to 8. Zach hung up the phone super excited, retelling me and Sam at 100 miles per hour.

Sam kept saying back to Zach, "what Zat?, what Zat?".

Zach would explain again in his scientific voice.

Sam replied, "no Zat, oanee Buzz Yightyear panet!"

Zach, "Sam, Buzz Lightyear is not a planet, he is a Disney Character."

Sam, "no Zat, Buzz Yightyear panet! Zat, Buzz Panet!"

Zach, "Sam, Buzz Lightyear is NOT a planet, he goes to planets"

Sam "no Zat, Buzz Panet!"

Zach, "Sam, Buzz Lightyear is that character all over your bedroom, he is NOT a planet!"

Sam "Zat, Buzz Panet!" "Ahhhhhhh" "Ahhhhhhh" "Ahhhhhhhh"

So much for the peaceful morning watching the two share in conversation about toys. The teridactle scream began and lasted a half hour. Sam used few words the rest of the morning. Actually the rest of the day. I do think some of it may have had to do with the barometric pressure and the severe storms and tornados that ripped through our portion of the state. Who knows?

I feel for both sides. I know how frustrating it is explaining things to Sam, and I can imagine how frustrating it is for Sam to not get us to understand. But, I also am learning to not always mediate. Zach has to learn patience and learn to try to understand what Sam is saying without me interpreting, and Sam has to learn to communicate without my translations as well. While it can be frustrating, I am just fine learning about a new planet named Buzz Lightyear!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Home, Safe and Sound...(Journal #31)

After a month of travels and adventure, we are finally home. I had prolonged posting since we have been adjusting to being home and trying to get a schedule back in place. Last week was our first full week home in awhile, and it was an extremely difficult week for Sam transitioning. I had also postponed writing, as I was going to put some pics of our vacation up, but I don't have my camera. I left it at a friends of ours on accident on our way home. So as soon as I get it there will be some cute pics of the boys and Yellowstone.

Brent and I have seen some of the most challenging behaviors from Sam in a long time last week. Lots of running away and escaping, lots of self injury when mad, and lots of aggressive behavior towards our whole family and objects. Brother has seen lots of kicking, dad head butting and hair pulling and mom lots of biting. We know that he has been on sensory overload adjusting to home and coming off of travels, we know he hasn't had a "real" schedule in over a month. We are not surprised and we understand where it all has been coming from.

We were worried about how traveling on vacation would go for Sam. We had several long driving days planned. Our agenda included:
~Traveling from Minneapolis (home) to Wall, SD the first day (over 8 hour car day)
~We camped in the Black Hills for 2 nights/3 days then drove to Cody, WY (over 10 hour car day)
~Spent 3 full days driving (and hiking) in Yellowstone (but again, a lot of car time)
~Drove to Jackson Hole, WY (half day in car)
~Drove to Denver to visit friends (9 hour car day)
~Drove to Iowa to pick up grandma (over 10 hour car day)
~Drove to Kansas City to visit family and friends (3 hour car day)
~Drove back to Minneapolis (0ver 8 hour car day)

Sooooooo......the point being, Sam (and his brother) spent a lot of time in a car. Thank God for DVD players. But the real point is that he did so awesome, we have already planned our road trip destination for next summer. Brent and I were so excited and feel that if we can conquer the car, that we can now plan trips like this.

The easiest part of the trip was driving. We were so shocked for many reasons. When just driving locally in the Twin Cities, we have lots of screaming rides. Sam is all about sameness (nothing new for kids with autsim). Who drives what car and who sits where is often times crucial. It has gotten better this past year though. The other thing that is hard for us sometimes is the routes we take to places. His memory is incredible. Many times he can relay to me where we are going before we get there because of the route. So, the problem being, we can't take different routes to places if I tell him where we are going ahead of time. I usually tell him we are just driving for fun and might go to a store to eliminate battle as to which street we turn on.

The great thing about being on vacation, is that every day is new and never the same. Sam didn't know what to expect, which we feared would make things worse or okay. Fortunately that latter was the result. He couldn't dictate which way to drive because it was always new to him with a different routine never to be followed again.

Our only challenge on the whole trip was safety. We thought it would be safe and didn't bother to bring his cute monkey harness. We figured we would be in nature and not in crowds. We kind of forgot that there are cliffs and things in nature that most of us understand the danger of, oops. Sam had no fear at all on our adventures in nature. He could care less if there was a 300 foot drop from us. Our first stop at the Badlands found Sam running straight to a cliff, and left him kicking and screaming mad as Brent pulled him away. I can't count how many times big brother Zach said, "Mom, doesn't he know he could die!!!!" He even had brother worried at times. Let's just say that our stops in mountain areas and canyon areas were a little nerve racking and found us carrying him (Sam reluctant about).

But the beautiful things about Sam on the trip were the things that are autism related. Sam has always had keen attention to detail. One psychologist had told us that this could lead to learning problems down the road because of the distraction it causes him. And yes, it is an incredible pain in the butt when we are trying to walk some place in a timely matter, and he is distracted by even the littlest pine needle on our path. But, on vacation he drew our attention to some of the most beautiful things we could have missed. He would notice some little beautiful bird in the distance, or an awesome rock along the way. He was in awe of the Badlands, because of the color and shape of the rocks. I am not sure how many 4 1/2 year olds would find such amazement at places appreciated more by adults. The Badlands could lose its awe after the first 1/2 hour for some people, but Sam kept it alive for us. With every turn in the road came "totowee toowa" (totally cool) or "toey tow" (Holy cow-mom and dad are Cubs and Harry Carey fans). He could spot the tinyest bug or creature wherever we went, whereas the rest of the family would have missed it.

As we drove upon the Grand Teton Mountains at Jackson Lake, we got out. The first thing Sam said to Brent was, "is dat a pitter or real?" (Is that a picture or real). He was totally serious. It was cute.

I can't wait to post some pics. As the trip continued we saw lots of detail and had amazing fun. It was a dream vacation.

As the trip concluded, we were in Kansas City. We stayed downtown at the Marriot. Our first night there we could not fit the minivan in the hotel underground ramp because of our topper, so we had to park across the street at a different underground ramp. We came up from the parking garage to see that there was a park on top of it. As we headed to the hotel, Sam took off. Brent and I could not catch him. Brent finally got him as he ran inches to the edge of a 3 story cement drop off to the exit side of the parking garage. Sam was not scared. It did not phase him that he would be hurt. Zach was never more scared for Sam. It seems like when we just start to trust him and feel like he "gets it" (about safety, cars, danger, etc...) we always let our guard down. Three months ago, Sam wondered out of the house to the garage in the middle of the night and was locked out until I heard him at 4am. This incident led to us installing a security system. We know that safety will always be an issue, which makes us mad when we ease off and know better. The trip was awesome, but it was great to be "home, safe and sound" for now.