I’m back!

It’s been a little while since I last posted, not because there haven’t been any issues, but because the WordPress app decided to stop working when I updated to iOS 7 – it still isn’t functioning as it should but for now, at least, I can actually open the app and add this new post!

I collected JC from school Friday (over a week ago now!) and before we left the playground I realised that he hadn’t got his PE kit with him so I could wash it over the weekend. He was refusing to go back and get it (and I couldn’t get to his classroom with a pushchair and JC wouldn’t stay with his brother in the playground without me). He had no choice but to get it. I hadn’t seen it for the previous two weekends due to his forgetting so it was long overdue a clean!

PE kit in hand we started the walk home. As we were walking down the street (not far from the school) I realised that JC also hadn’t remembered his homework book. Again, we had to go back for it and again JC refused. It was due back on Tuesday and I knew the chances of us getting it done if we didn’t collect it until Monday were slim, at best. As I looked at JC I could see the tears being fought away. He was trying so hard to hold it in.

When we got to the playground JC’s teacher was still there awaiting one parent who hadn’t arrived to collect their daughter. JC didn’t want to get his homework but his teacher went with him.

When it was time to head home JC was not happy at all. He could no longer hold back the tears and he was angry. He stomped away. “Leave me alone”. He repeated this several times, getting further and further away from me and C who was, by now, crying in his pushchair.

I told JC to wait and eventually he got the message. As we walked together I asked him if his teacher had said anything to him. He told me just to leave him alone. He obviously wasn’t going to talk. Awkward silence remained until we got home.

C had fallen asleep in his pushchair by the time we got inside. JC decided that now was a good time to let some of his feelings out.

He can’t help the way he is. It’s all my fault he thinks negatively about himself and it’s my fault I make him do all this stuff. That’s it. That’s all I got. I felt awful. What if he’s right. What if he doesn’t have Asperger’s and the truth is that I’m a terrible mum who has emotionally destroyed her oldest son?

I don’t have a clue what I am doing and admit I made many mistakes and I wasn’t particularly maternal. I didn’t discipline as heavily as others thought I should but I always thought that I was doing OK considering.

We didn’t socialise with other kids and I was secretly happy that he still needed me to feed and dress him before school at the age of 5. We’d had no intention of having any more children and so JC relying on me so much was welcomed by me. Maybe I should have pushed his independence much harder. Perhaps I should have been strict with him.

I didn’t because, all through JC’s short life, I have been trying to ensure that he likes me – so as to not feel about me the way I feel about my own parents. I wanted to teach him that I would never judge him and that I only want him to be happy. I wanted him to be able to come to me with problems – something I could never do with my parents. I was hoping to guarantee that the dysfunctional family element stopped with me. I wanted, unlike me, for him to be comfortable with himself, be popular, to be mentally and emotionally free. It looks like I could have severely screwed up on all counts.

EDIT – it has since been revealed by JC that his teacher on Friday when collecting his homework had insinuated that JC had purposely left his homework behind so that he wouldn’t have to do it! It would appear that my insistence on JC collecting his PE kit and homework, followed by his teachers accusation was too much.

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An issue with video games

We had our weekly meeting with the Community Health Worker today. She was here primarily to work with JC (today was a brief lesson in controlled breathing for when he feels anxious). She first spoke to me and my husband.

It would appear that both she and the School Nurse have an issue with the games that we allow JC to play on his Xbox.

From what I have seen on the news etc. over the years there has been much discussion and deliberation about the impact of video games on the mind of a child.

There have been numerous cases of people acting violently having played video games meant for an adult audience.

I, myself, tend to agree (in the most part) that a child should only play what their given age says that they are legally allowed to. However, our ever so real society is consumed by the contents of these video games so how can you possibily shield them from it all? Daily reports in the news (including news broadcast specifically targeted at children) highlight the overwhelming issues of the world – war, theft, gun crime, drugs etc.

JC has always appeared to have an old head on his young shoulders. I sometimes find myself saying to him “stop being so childish” and then immediately remember that he is only 9! He has always, as far as I can tell, been able to distinguish fact and fiction, real life and video game.

Sometimes his ability to do this has caused me to worry about him missing out on the joys of being a care-free child. I remember when JC was about 3 1/2 he asked if Father Christmas was real. He had realised that Father Christmas can’t possibly be in several places at one! I think I managed to swerve his constant questions enough to keep that piece of child magic alive. JC hasn’t ever been filled with excitement at holidays, birthdays, Christmas etc. so it was all the more important to keep that little snippet of mystery going and will continue to try (probably long after he has stopped believing).

Back to gaming – JC knows the ins and outs of all kinds of weaponry (this has been an obsessive interest since he was about 4). He played with toy soldiers, had battles, dressed up as a soldier, happily went to Museums, read books etc. and now his obsession has matured to a more adult level and he plays army games on his Xbox. Toy soldiers just aren’t exciting enough.

Personally, I don’t like that he plays these types of games but I am not concerned that he will grow in to be an angry young man who strives to seek revenge behind a gun. I’m confident that he won’t join the Army – he admits himself that he would be too scared and I am thankful for this.

I do, however, worry what the consequences would be for JC -emotionally and socially – if I were to take away his 16+ games for his Xbox (and let’s face it what 9 year old wants to always play games suited to their age). The few friends he has in school all play these games. If he were not allowed to play them too he would be left with nothing. The games they play is their only common interest. He has 4 online friends (3 of which are in his class and 1 has now left the school to start Secondary School – and of those 4 he only communicates with 2 of the boys in school and occasionally spends time with the same 2 boys outside of school).

Restricting access to his Xbox is difficult (at best). Removing or restricting access to games deemed unsuitable would be a total nightmare and something I am not equipped to deal with.

I do regret allowing him to play these games (and JC is fully aware of this) but I can’t see how I can regain control now he has already been given a green light. It would be too little, too late would it not?

I may not be getting everything right when it comes to parenting but I feel the pressure to help him fit in and find him common ground with other boys. For this reason, I will continue to allow access to these games – until such time as his obsession has moved on (hopefully sometime soon).

The battles continue….daily

Last night JC had forgotten that it was Sunday (he’s supposed to go to bed earlier when he has school the following day) and didn’t want to go upstairs to bed at 9:30. I usually stay with him for about 30 minutes every night but last night he got aggressive, posturing with clenched fists, says how all we try and do is upset him. He went stomping off for his last wee after my husband tried to reason with him. I have got a rotten head cold with a bit of body aching for good measure so I sat there and let it happen around me. Normally, I would give a punishment warning (that he’d not be able to play Xbox before school) but I knew that by doing this he would have drawn himself deeper in to despair. What I did do, rightly or wrongly, was give him an extra 5 minutes on the floor under a blanket (that’s where he’d put himself) to calm down. I told him that he was to leave his anger downstairs and I wasn’t going to get in to an argument with him. He had his 5 minutes and when I said he had to go up he replied “fine”. He still wasn’t best pleased but it was preferable to the whining and anger. As it was so late I only stayed for a short time – plus I didn’t really want to be sharing my germs with JC.

JC, this morning, woke up in a mood. He had woken up later than he would have liked (he didn’t have enough time to play on his Xbox before having to come down to get ready for school).

He didn’t want breakfast, he didn’t want to get dressed and he most definitely did not want to go to school. It didn’t help that C is still unwell and wasn’t attending nursery. JC has no sympathy for C at all – he only ever thinks about how unfair it is for him. He realises that there is a legal requirement for him to attend school and, so, reluctantly he agreed to go.

After school he went straight up to his Xbox. Only saw him again when I called him for his dinner (which he didn’t finish) and he returned back to his Xbox as soon as he could get away.

At 7:30 I went up to JC’s bedroom whilst my husband got C to sleep. While I was in his room I managed to stop him playing Minecraft long enough to do his homework. I did say that if there was time he could go back on. Unfortunately, there wasn’t. JC was not happy but I managed to pacify him by letting him play a game on my laptop (which he’d been using to do his homework).

When it was time to get him to bed another battle was started. When conversing with JC he views some of my comments as a character assassination, if I say anything positive about him then he tells me to stop as “you’re making me sad”. Other times I just make him angry. I am at a loss as to what I should say. If I say nothing he says I don’t care about him. Whatever I do I can’t win. I don’t like to leave him to go to sleep knowing he’s upset or angry but I have no idea what to say that will make him feel any better. If I repeat any of the negatives he has said about himself in an attempt to explain how they are untrue he tells me to stop because it re-affirms how he feels about himself. I wish I knew what to do. I hate to see him suffering like this.

I am finding that he is getting upset and subsequently angry more often. I can’t decide whether it is because he appreciates that we will try and help where we can and is being more outwardly open about his feelings (albeit in a way that I would consider to be unhelpful). Or, is he using my new found sympathetic ear to his advantage? Or, is he genuinely more frequently upset? Or, am I more tuned in to his behaviour now that Asperger’s is a possibility. Or, could there be a hormonal reason? In truth I do believe that JC isn’t reacting the way he does intentionally but he does manage to extend his bedtime – which was one of the reasons he got upset in the first place! I only managed to leave his bedroom at 10:20 on the promise that I would wake him up at a time that would give him 35 minutes of playing time on his Xbox before school. I have always made a point of not breaking a promise given, especially to JC, but it is getting increasingly more difficult to achieve. At the time, the promise is only made if I truly believe it can be kept but at 11pm JC was calling me back to his bedroom – he can’t sleep! I gave him a back rub and settled him down again but I am now faced with the prospect of waking him up tomorrow morning knowing that he won’t have had enough sleep. Not enough sleep = grumpy JC. No morning wake up call/Xbox time = grumpy JC. Yet another no win situation to add to the many others already in existence.

Another one bites the dust…

Wonderful! If one poorly 2 year old wasn’t enough, I now have JC feeling unwell.

It seems that his early morning need for the toilet was just the start. JC has, I assume, felt OK at school but I can’t be sure as JC won’t do a “number 2” while he is there as I’m not there to wipe for him.

Could be issues with holding off when he should be relieving himself or it could be a tummy bug. Could be something like IBS (which I suffer from).

He has had bowel problems quite frequently throughout his life. He was given a blood test last time (that was a really anxious time for JC and something JC has insisted he will NEVER repeat) to check for infection but was given the all clear.

JC, naturally, is blaming his abdominal discomfort and increased need for a poo on yesterday’s swimming lesson. It’s still only Friday and he’s already suggesting that he won’t be able to go to school on Monday if he is still having problems. He’s concerted about messing himself and not being able to clean himself up. Of course I wouldn’t send him to school but I wasn’t going to tell him that just yet!

With JC’s reliance on me and C unwell (who also prefers my soothing touch) it could be a night of sleep disturbance.

Better get some sleep while I can.

SENCO, swimming and sleep

JC, as expected, was hoping he would get to stay off school yesterday. We had the usual – tears, aggression, refusals but I got him to school and we even just about made it on time. He’d been crying for some time and you could tell just by looking at him but as he stood at the rear of his class line I went and spoke briefly to his teacher. If she felt he would be happier not going then she wouldn’t make him and, so, would monitor him throughout the day. I watched nervously as JC disappeared to his class. As I was leaving the playground I was approached by the school’s SENCO. She could see me that afternoon at 3:15. I agreed and headed home.

I was thinking about JC all day. Wondering how he was feeling. I knew he would be concentrating his efforts in not showing his anxiety to the rest of his class or teacher.

I went up to the school to see the SENCO. I asked her what she knew of the situation and she said that his teacher had told her on the previous day (Wednesday) that JC was self harming but nothing else! I explained what was happening regarding CAMHS, the Community Health Worker and the possibility of an Aspergers diagnosis (eventually). She had taught JC for a year and said she felt that JC was quirky. I thought to myself that maybe she should have known something wasn’t right, after all, she is the SENCO. I immediately corrected myself – if I hadn’t figured it out (and I’m his mum) then why should she!

After about 10 minutes , I could see out of the window that JC’s class were walking across that playground having returned from their swimming lesson. I kept looking out and caught a glimpse of JC – with wet hair!

We agreed to meet up again a couple of weeks after we have met with CAMHS so that anything the school arranged to help JC would not conflict with the recommendations of CAMHS.

At this point I was itching to leave. JC wouldn’t know where I was and would be getting upset if I didn’t go outside soon.

I collected JC and asked him about the swimming. He shrugged his shoulders (this usually means I don’t want to talk). His teacher said he’d been OK and at one point may have managed a smile. It transpired that JC wasn’t alone at the shallow end – there were 2 others (one of which he talks to on his Xbox but doesn’t usually interact with at school).

We had to walk home from school as C had a cough and cold so my husband stayed home with C. JC moaned the whole way home. I offered him a reward for going swimming but he opted for a Monster drink (caffeine filled energy drink) which I wouldn’t allow. For JC it was that or nothing so he got nothing.

On arriving home he went straight upstairs to play his Xbox. He came down when it was time for dinner and disappeared again. He may as well have eaten it upstairs as when we do see JC his Xbox games are the only thing he talks about. When I say talk it is more like incessant rambling, pretty much non-stop. Drives me to distraction but it’s one of the only things that makes him happy – playing his Xbox, talking about his Xbox games or looking up Xbox games on YouTube.

C was getting more and more snotty as the evening wore on and by the time I went to bed (at midnight) he was a member of the wide awake club. He was so bunged up (but runny) he couldn’t sleep. I managed to settle him down (must have been about 1 a.m.) and went to sleep.

“Muuuummmmmyyyyy!” I had only been asleep for a few hours so sent my husband in to check on JC. He came back shortly after proclaiming that JC needs a poo! Oh the joys, having to help my 9 year old wipe his backside at 4:30 in the morning in the dark and half asleep! I got it done, settled JC back in to bed and crawled back to my own pit (shared with my husband and C). Next thing I know today has dawned and I’m being woken up to begin the school morning preparations.

I am feeling like a zombie from one of JC’s games today. I’ve got the beginnings of a cold myself now and C is at the point where he is getting worse before he starts to get better (so no nursery for him today). Although JC is at school I am expecting trouble as he is likely to be given homework to do. Think I may just hide under the duvet – wake me up when it’s all over!

What people know about autism..

I have never associated health conditions, be it mental or physical, with people or characters (I know a lot do though). I am definitely guilty of having preconceived misconceptions of Autism – just because I had never needed to concern myself with the details. I am thankful that my quirky boy is giving me the opportunity to challenge them every day. You can’t help but love him and all that he is and isn’t.

(autism) comics by suburp

rainmanfull3

People are generally AWARE about autism, don’t you think?
They still have a lot to learn. Let’s do this.

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JC – I mean business!

More progress made today.

Spoke to JC’s teacher who appeared to understand JC’s needs. She is going to keep a discreet eye on him in class and at break times (where possible).

JC had been “raging” at his game. I could tell he wasn’t himself but he can’t see what’s going on – he thinks he is just getting annoyed at the game. It wasn’t and as soon as he was lying in bed an hour later, out it came. “I don’t want to go to school tomorrow”. It was about the swimming. I knew it was coming and had mentally prepared myself. I calmly told him that his teacher and I were going to try and work together to make his time at school a little less worrying, It was left that he would see how he feels in the morning. I had to do this or he’d have problems sleeping or would wet the bed during the night.

In the morning, if he feels that it would be too much then I just won’t take his swimming kit in to school and would explain to his teacher. I have basically told him that I will do everything I can to help and will fight (although I had to make it clear not physically!) for his happiness. I would do whatever it took and would argue with whomever stood in my way. Initially, he didn’t believe me. I assured him I meant every word and he seems happier knowing this. The school may have a problem but if they do they will have to come to me not JC. I will stand up for my boy however it makes me look. Yes, I have my own anxiety issues but when my maternal instincts kick in there is no stopping them!

I am hopeful that this could be a small turning point in helping JC. He can finally see that we are not trying to highlight his flaws, just embrace them and help reduce his emotional pain.

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