This blog was initially set up as a means of communicating with my son's team. Since then, I've heard from other parents with similar stories. If you are living with challenges or journeying alongside someone who is, you are not alone. There are many of us. I'm a single adoptive Mom ( of a young man who lives with many abilities and many diagnoses. We have journeyed together through many challenges and a few adventures over the years as my son has tried to find space in this world that makes him feel more comfortable, an attempt made especially difficult when living with Attachment Disorder, PDD-NOS (Autism), Developmental Coordination Disorder, ADHD, prenatal substance exposure, etc. Some of the strongest elements used in this journey have been music, visual arts, therapeutic parenting, team-connection, boundary-setting, boundary-setting, boundary-setting, communication skills, community-building, continual lifeskills training, and elements of Theraplay. (Click here for some written resources.) On this journey, there is laughter and tears and growth and hope. The greatest of these is hope.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Weekend Balance

Chef spent Friday evening with his sister and niece. I was pleasantly surprised to find that he'd worked on weekend chores. Saturday morning and early afternoon were great; Chef ate, washed up and dressed (still sandals though; he continues to say he can't find his socks because his sister put them somewhere, which she did - on top of the dryer after helping Chef with his laundry. This is the second weekend that Chef has again said that he doesn't have his socks anymore, even with reminders of exactly where they are), and seemed quite relaxed and happy as we ran errands together. We got home just before supper and I reminded Chef that his mattress was still in the front yard and needed to be cleaned up. Chef said ok, then went outside. Glancing outside a few minutes later, I noticed a seemingly angry Chef tearing apart the mattress even more; foam and other mattress bits were strewn across the yard. I opened the door and asked what was happening. Chef looked at me angrily and said that he knew I still didn't believe that he hadn't hidden anything in his mattress. "Well, that's right, but the issue right now is that you need to get your mattress cleaned up so it's not in the yard anymore." Chef started escalating. I reminded him that all he needed to do right now was clean up the mattress and that we weren't discussing anything else about his mattress today. Chef escalated. I reminded him of his anger management tools. Chef continued his yelling and whining and angry facial expressions; I shut the door. Two hours later, the mattress was cleaned up and Chef was calm and inside. He had a quick bite to eat, then we walked down to a small local cafe for an evening of music/jamming. It was interesting to note that when we were listening to the performing group for the first half-hour, Chef expressed some difficulty with the noise-level yet when I went up and started playing with the band, Chef independently and seemingly enthusiastically moved so he was sitting right up front by the band.

On Sunday, Chef attended an AGM with me as well as an afternoon performance, then we spent the evening having a leisurely, story-filled supper with a friend. On the way home, we talked about how Chef had used two hours to tantrum when that time would have been much better spent working together on his lunches for the week then having free time. Chef agreed.

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Gold-Star Week at Home, Silver for School Marks, Coal for Dishonesty at School

Today is Friday.

What a nice week we've had. Chef has continued his mornings of independent exercise, eating his breakfast without prompts, and getting his lunch items out and packed into his lunchbox without prompts. Hygiene and making it out to the bus on time are not happening. Today Chef went out to the bus barefoot and carrying his sandals again, but today he was running rather than walking.

Yesterday after school, Chef and I walked downtown to meet up with a few of my friends. Chef sat at his own table and read newspapers/magazines. When we got home, Chef independently started his chores and put in his laundry! After supper, Chef cleaned up the kitchen, cleaned up the upstairs bathroom, then spent his "free time" in his room because he'd lost his choice of activities due to choices he's been making at school.

Chef's resource teacher had received an email from Chef's art teacher. Chef has been telling his art teacher that he needs to leave class to go have meds. He hasn't been having meds at school and hasn't been going to the resource room after being excused from his class. We don't know where he's been going after leaving the classroom.

Chef brought home papers yesterday stating that there are a lot of assignments Chef hasn't submitted but he is getting excellent marks.

A lot of positives this week, combined with a pretty big concern.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

That Good Ol' Swinging Pendulum

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

This morning, Chef independently got up when the alarm went off the first time, independently did 25(!) minutes of exercise, came downstairs and independently got out his breakfast(!) AND ate it(!), independently got his lunch items together and packed them into his lunchbox AND said he was going to make popcorn to bring along then made the popcorn(!), and only needed prompting during the last few minutes before it was time to leave because he wasn't yet washed or dressed for school.

Wow! This has been a rare and very appreciated morning.

As an aside, Chef asked the other day if people are reading my blogs and I told him that there are readers from a lot of different places. I told him someone from a place called Oman had read the blog, and that I had never heard of Oman and wasn't sure if I was remembering the name of the place correctly. "Oh yeah," Chef replied. "There's a place called Oman. It's on my map."

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

And Then What Happened?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

We have had two fairly blissful evenings in our home.

Chef has been respectful, pleasant, and enjoyable. He's been smiling and independently interacting with me, his sister, and his niece. He's been independently and sporadically talking about his day. He's been doing his chores quickly and with positive attitude, and has left himself free time in the evenings! He also made supper last night, and prepared potatoes for tonight's supper.

Tonight we watched "The Soloist." I didn't realize there would be such a strong focus on mental illness. Chef and I had quite a few brief conversations during the movie, and will need to revisit some of them.

Mornings remain about the same when it comes to the actual "getting ready to leave" parts, but I have to say that I remain completely amazed that Chef starts his mornings by independently doing exercises. He also ate part of his breakfast again this morning (two mornings in a row!), and again took a better-sized lunch than he had been taking last week (again, two mornings in a row!), including food that I've prepared for him (which has frequently been a pretty big issue!)

For this I am truly thankful.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Candy Bars, Books, and Tantrums

Monday, November 1, 2010

Yesterday was not fun at our house. It started out ok'ish though. Given the overload of sugar in his system, I gave Chef extra time to sleep in in the morning. When he got up he wanted to make brunch (one of my favourite parts of a weekend!) and did up fried eggs and fried potatoes. We watched part of a video while we ate brunch, then Chef independently started doing chores. About five minutes later, Chef announced that he couldn't clean the bathroom because he only had one rag and that was in the laundry. "Where are the other rags?" "I don't know. I got rid of them" "How do you plan on cleaning the bathroom then?" "I guess I'll have to wait til the laundry's done" "That's not going to work." "(angry whining and escalating body language) Well, what am I supposed to do if I don't have rags??" "First, you can take the whining outside and deal with it there and not bring it back inside." Chef stormed out, stood outside for a few minutes, did some jumping jacks, came back inside when I motioned him in, and did the lunch dishes. While he had been outside, I'd noticed that more of my books were missing from my bookcase. After finishing up the lunch dishes, Chef came into the living room and said he didn't know what to do because he had to wait for the rag that was in the washer. I said that we also needed to discuss the matter of other books missing from the bookcase. Chef immediately stormed, angrily stating that he hadn't taken any books. I told him he could take himself back outside until he was ready to communicate appropriately. Chef tantrummed outside for an hour and a half. When he appeared appropriate and calm for awhile, I invited him back inside. I asked him if he was ready to communicate appropriately. "Yes." "Good, because at some point we'll need to talk about the books." "I TOLD YOU I DIDN'T TAKE ANY BOOKS!!" "Back outside til you're ready to communicate appropriately." Chef stormed outside and started throwing pine cones at the house, repeatedly repeatedly repeatedly ringing the doorbell, repeatedly kicking the door, banging his head against the living room window and making faces at me then screaming when I would leave the living room, yelling that he was cold, etc., etc. Chef tantrummed for at least an hour and a half that time. Once he was able to be back inside, Chef stated that he'd been taking books on his way out the door to school in the morning and hiding them in his lunchbag. Most mornings, Chef runs out the door at the last minute, and I am at the door with him then watching him from the front window til the bus arrives. Lately, however, I have not been right at the door when he comes in after school. The bookcase is right by the door and Chef wouldn't be hard-pressed to be able to slip out a book and stash it in the closet to take somewhere later on. If I am downstairs when Chef comes home, he does a personal check before going upstairs (he usually goes upstairs for a rest after school); if I am upstairs when Chef comes home, he does a personal check when he gets upstairs. We've stopped doing checks for each time Chef goes upstairs otherwise, but it seems to be time to start doing that again. Chef says sometimes he'll say he's going to clean the front entrance (about 5'x5') then hide something in the closet or in his niece's stroller then take it upstairs or stash it outside later.

Chef didn't bring up his laundry from the dryer yesterday. This morning he said he doesn't know where any of his socks are that were just purchased last weekend; I know they were in the hamper, but Chef said they weren't in the laundry room when he took the hamper downstairs. His runners had needed washing on the weekend and he was reminded three times in less than half an hour to put his runners into the washer. That didn't happen; he washed them outside instead. I asked him if he'd forgotten that he's tried that before and it doesn't work. He did work on his lunches last night without issue and actually agreed to take more in his lunches, including a dessert I made for him! This is highly unusual. I'm very thankful he was at that point yesterday. This morning, I packed his lunch into a large, clear tupperware container so it's easy for his school support staff to see what's inside with hopes that it will minimize some of Chef's stealing/stashing attempts. When the bus pulled up, Chef had only been starting to get ready the last few minutes beforehand and was not at all ready to go - though he had actually eaten part of a breakfast! He walked out to the bus barefoot, wearing pyjamas, carrying sandals, his lunch, his jacket (the one that he's kept in the storage room since I bought it for him in summer; it finally got promoted to being brought upstairs and being used!) and a wrinkled outfit he'd pulled out of the dryer. He didn't give his lunch to the driver, and often hasn't been, which usually translates into him eating it on the bus.

I'm a little tuckered out today; actually, a little more than a little.