Olive Background

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Ups and Downs of Running

We are still running. Jared and I have managed to get the first month out of the way. Two more months to go before his little marathon and if we do all the running required through his club, we will have run almost a whole marathon.

Mentally, I hate it. Physically, I am liking it. I won't use the term love, because that feels a little sadistic. I do find that my body gets the urge to go for a run and then the inner conflict begins. Most of the time I find I am getting my running shoes on so we know who's winning. This weekend I was down with a cold that consumed my entire being. I stayed in. I was a tad disappointed.

Running with Jared has taught me how important it is to be consistent in my parenting of him. One of the things we have found effective is "pre-teaching" or prepping Jared for his activities. What this entails is talking about the upcoming activity and discussing the ways he is going to get through the activity to make it as successful as possible. A challenge that comes with Autism is the struggle to know how to interpret situations and how to respond to them.

When it comes to running, Jared MUST be out front. He pushes himself to exhaustion, collapses, then continues to collapse in a gesture of total frustration. When I coach him that it doesn't matter who is first and it doesn't matter who is last and the only person he needs to worry about is himself so he should just run at a pace that will allow him to finish, he does very well. I run with him and keep reminding him of the rules. When those rules are not forefront in his mind and he gets away from me, we have a disaster in the making.

Even if we have a successful run one day, if I don't prep him for the next run we will have less success if any at all. It has become apparent to me that it takes many pre-teaching sessions on the same issues before he can go out on his own and complete a task independently.

It's exhausting at times. It feels redundant at times. It's a challenge much of the time. We have the ADHD to contend with too.

My hope is that during our last two months of running club, Jared will learn to pace himself and complete these runs with less prepping from me. I am hoping that he will learn to focus on his performance only and not worry about who is in front. These are issues we all struggle with, but for those who struggle with Autism the challenge is often their own personal Mt. Everest.

I do see this as a challenge Jared can overcome in time, and then we add it to the success arsenal to help him move ahead with the challenges ahead.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Odds and Ends and Jordan's Basketball Career

Most of the pictures of Jordan playing basketball were butt shots, but I did find this profile shot and one action shot that I thought would suffice for today's blog. Jordan is really enjoying his basketball experience and improving with each game. We'll need to look into a basketball camp for him.

This past weekend was so spring-like. We spent Saturday finishing off some things around the outside of the house. We did some painting and cleaning.

In the late afternoon we took the boys down to the ball fields to hit some softballs and play catch. It was a fun thing to do since we are not a "sporty" family. It showed, too, but we still enjoyed ourselves. We finished off our activity with some good ol' 7eleven and went home to await the rain. I swore I saw lightening out in the distance.

Eventually it did rain. Then it froze. Then it snowed. We woke up Sunday morning to winter once again. We went from shorts and sandals one day to sweaters and boots the next. Ahh, the life of Southern Alberta.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Run for Fun??

The last couple of weeks has brought the flu into our home. Sean was "down" for about 5 or 6 days though he worked on the bathrooms the whole time. James missed school for a day or two for two consecutive weeks and still has a lovely cough. Jordan came down with the flu and has been on his back for two days. The rest of us are still waiting to be slammed.

Jared decided a few weeks ago that he wanted to play on a soccer or baseball team. This has brought some uneasy moments for me as I was left to decide what I should do about it. Team sports has not always been the venue for success for Jared. With his challenges in the emotional and motor skills departments, you need a great coach to get anywhere close to a good experience.

Sean and I discussed the matter. I consulted Jared's teacher at school. I really wanted to get Jared involved in something. Emotionally unstable and frustrated kid with a baseball bat was not my idea of fun.

Along comes the running club at school. Better yet, along comes a kid's marathon at the end of May. Jared loves to run. In this program, by the time the marathon date comes Jared would have run almost the equivalent to a regular marathon. So we signed up for running club and the marathon. For $25 he gets to run and will get a t-shirt and medal at the end. Three mornings a week the running club trains and by the marathon date Jared should be ready to run. I think it's a couple of miles and he would have run about 24 by the end of May.

In my eagerness to get him started, I committed to running with him. I have not run in about three hundred years. Indeed I hate running. It hurts. My airways hate it. And through all the pain and breathing discomfort, I tell him to keep going because it's a piece of cake and he can do it. I lie through my teeth.

The worst part was that on Saturday morning as I was lying in bed with sore muscles, my body wanted to go running. Are you kidding me? Stranger still, I listened and obeyed and Jared and I went for a run together. I must be crazy.

I am happy that Jared is excited about his "sport". This is what we are calling it. He is a runner. Once we get back into swim lessons he will also be a swimmer. He gets to play soccer at school. That's for fun and he is okay with that.

My job is to keep him focused and get a little fitter along the way. Win. Win.

Later this week....Jordan and basketball.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Information and the Digestion of It

I was in pretty deep thought for most of last week.

At Jared's appointment with the mental health clinic, I learned a couple of things. Number 1, I learned that Jared is classified as disabled. The name that has been given to classify his level of Autism is PDD-NOS. In long form that means Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified. In more simple terms it means he's got more going on than just some trouble with social situations but he's not Rainman. Number 2, because of his disability I have acquired a new way to claim an extra tax credit and qualify for community support for our family. I have access to workers who can take Jared out and teach him social skills and I have access to respite care for him so that our "family can have a break" once in a while.

This is quite a brick of information to be dropped on someone's head during a one hour appointment. It threw me to say the least.

It was difficult to hear someone tell me that my son was disabled. In my reading on Autism sites and comments from parents of such children, many argue that this is not a disability; that their children actually have abilities us regular folk don't. They say that their children are amazing and they wouldn't change them for the world.

I struggle with that idea of Jared being "disabled". He can walk. He can hear. He can see. He doesn't require machines to assist him with life. I see him as a boy with life long challenges, but not really disabled.

I also struggle with the idea of respite care. When I told Sean about it his first comment was, "Can they take the 13 year old too?" I think that sums up how I feel. Life with Jared is not always easy, but we don't long for a break from him any more than we do the other boys. I told the therapist that I didn't know if my guilt would allow me to send him away so that the rest of family could have some normal time. Our normal is with Jared and all that comes with it. I would also worry about how Jared would feel about getting shipped off for a few hours or over night while the rest of his family continued to hang out together.

We also saw Jared's psychiatrist last week and talked to him about it. I think he understood my concerns and assured me that while this was a service accessible to me, it was still my choice to use it or not. He also told me that while there was funding available to me, I also had the choice of where Jared could go. So if Sean and I needed to take time together for a few hours, Jared could go stay with a friend or with family and we could compensate them for that. I didn't need to put him in a home full of strangers. It made me feel better about the whole thing, though I don't know if and how we will take advantage of that support yet.

I am absolutely on board with the community worker taking Jared out to teach him social skills and functioning outside the walls of his home or school. While Sean and I can teach him many things, I have also found that a third party can be more effective at times.

I am still digesting and reflecting and wondering about this road we are on. I hope at some point I can reconcile the word disability. I realize it is a label that can help us get more of what we need for him and there is power in that. I am fully aware of the "business" of funding and the "politics" of medical and educational intervention.

I also realize that he needs constant supervision to complete the tasks of daily life. I wish I could say he can do it on his own, but I can't. I love him the way he is and would never want to lose the charm and character he possesses. But if I was guaranteed that those qualities would remain, I think I would want the Autistic stuff to go away. I wish he could have less struggle and less frustration. I wish his brain worked the way it should.

I hope that would not offend. I know there are some out there who would disagree with me. I am new to all of this although this has been my life for 9 years.

To his credit, Jared has been working very hard. He is having success in school again. We are so very fortunate to have such great support around us. His teacher has advocated and fought for him from the very beginning. At home he is also trying so hard. His tantrums are down. He is trying to settle himself more effectively. He really is the strongest kid I know. How lucky I am to get to be his mom.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Bathroom Number 2, Part 2

Work continues on the upstairs bathroom. I will be happy when it's done so we get the shower closest to my bedroom back. I also find it interesting that when we have 3 toilets in the house there are not 4 people desperately needing to go to the bathroom, but with only 2 toilets functioning there are always 3 desperate folks hopping around.

Sean is working on the cabinet today. We realized earlier in the week that if we bought a base cabinet for the sink we would only get to use about three pieces of it.
It may be difficult to tell in this photo, but the back wall is slanted. On the other side is the stairwell going down to the first lower level of the house. We realized that we can't fit drawers in there and really there's no decent storage space period. So we (meaning Sean) are building our own cabinet that will end up holding cleaning supplies and extra toilet paper. We are purchasing premade doors from Home Depot for the front and crossing our fingers that it looks good enough.

The paint job on the tile was more challenging this time around, but it turned out well enough. I haven't taken a picture of the tub yet but it looks much better than before. I am SO looking forward to using the new shower.
We are grouting the tile this afternoon. I am so happy to see the old linoleum go. Next time we do a bathroom reno, I may opt for lino that has that ceramic tile look. When Sean went away to work with a friend building houses, he learned it was pretty easy to lay down lino. It's more cost effective and I won't stress as much when the boys splash water all over the floor.

Hopefully by Monday or Tuesday we will have our bathroom back and it's on to bathroom number 3 off the master bedroom.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


I made it to Jordan's game. I missed his last shift, but I made it nonetheless.

I want to know why something goes wrong at work every time he has a game.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Motherly Blunders

There are times when I really feel my children have a legitimate case for thinking of me as a "bad" mom. Most of the time I think I am rather awesome, but there are times when I think a rewind and redo are in order.

Take Jordan for example. Jordan is playing on his school basketball team. I am really excited about it because he has not been the most athletic kid in the past and is now trying something, enjoying it, and improving his abilities. I am not a huge sport mom....mostly because I am a bad sport mom.....and I decided a long time ago that I would not push the boys into any kind of organized sport. I ruined the whole idea for James when he was younger. I will not do that again to the rest of my boys.

Jordan's games are after school. I had a work meeting after hours on his first game day so I meant to arrange with Sean to pick him up after the game. I didn't communicate my idea very well so Sean thought I was picking Jordan up and I thought Sean was. With me so far???? So I get home at 5:20pm and Sean wonders where Jordan is. Off I go racing to the school and Jordan calls wondering where I am. Blunder #1.

On Sunday mornings I go to choir practice before services begin, so we end up taking two cars to church each Sunday. After church was done Sean and I split up the kids and each took two home. I arrived home first with Jared and Jackson. Sean arrived shortly after with James. No Jordan. I checked my cell phone and sure enough Jordan left a message that said something like, "Umm, you kind of left me behind. I'll be waiting by the front door." Seems Jordan thought he would take a shortcut to meet his dad and missed them and Sean thought Jordan followed me out to my car. Blunder #2.

Today I was determined to see Jordan's game. I was so prepared. It was at another school named after a senator, but in my head it was a general. So I got the address and directions I would need. It was a horribly busy today at work and I left very late. Late enough that I thought I would probably get there in time to pick him up and I felt awful about that. I got to the school and there was no one there....not a soul. So I called Sean and sure enough I was at the wrong school. Jordan called to see where I was. I called Sean back for directions to the right school - on the other side of town. So again I left him waiting and I missed his game. Blunder #3.

Jordan is awfully forgiving. He's joking about his next game. I would even call it teasing, but I am going to get this right. Really.

I really feel for working parents - moms and dads alike. Most jobs don't allow for flexibility to leave whenever they want. Mine doesn't have much, though after they hear about today I think I may get out earlier next time. They are still laughing about blunders #1 and #2. Wait till they hear the latest.