Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Makes me sick to my stomach and Lex's conference

This makes me absolutely ill! How could a person who is entrusted to educate and care for a child with any type of special needs do this? I've had run in's with Lex's former daycare teachers that weren't capable to handle his special needs but a teacher who's sole job is to educate children that require extra time, love and effort treating a child like this makes me want to raise hell. Kids are mean enough to each other, especially at 14 that a teacher is supposed to help protect and foster growth and kindness not act like the school yard jerk.

We have been so blessed since getting Lex out of the daycare that couldn't handle him. Pam, his daycare provider, is a saint. She has 3 boys on the spectrum in her care and I've seen her patience both in person and by the way Lex has grown since starting there. We also have his teachers at school, Miss Carol and Miss Annie, and their aides to thank because I know he can be very trying to deal with but it shows me he's loved when a teacher calls me on the weekend after he injures himself at daycare to make sure he's doing alright and she comes up with special sensory activities to help keep him engaged. Heck his teacher used her private funds to order special "chewies" for him to use because she noticed he's very orally fixated. It meant the world to me when I went to his conference this week and she couldn't help but gush over how great he's doing and how excited she is to try new things with him.

Speaking of his conference she gave me a long list of his successes since starting the school year and here they are:
  • Identifies letters in his name. He is also starting to identify other letters in his classmate's names.
  • Counts 1 to 12.
  • Follows picture schedule book. He is also repeating directions like "circle" and "eat".
  • Able to attend circle time for up to 20 minutes. He usually sits with assistance, holds onto a fidget item (chewies, picture) and is trying to sing and/or do the actions.
  • He focuses on things he likes. Tracing letters, building trains, copying patterns, computer play (matching colors and letters) and cutting and gluing.
  • Willing to try new things. (He doesn't like gooey sensations) Shaving cream, Finger painting and touched pumpkin "guts".
  • Manners. At breakfast he says please, thank you and all done. Apologizes: sorry, its ok, nice. Covers his own cough and says hi and bye every day.
  • Appropriate protesting. At the beginning of the year he always just screamed now he says "no" and "stop it".
  • Identifies and chooses feelings like happy, sad, mad and tired.
  • Toileting. They have a routine of "ready, set, go" to get him to sit for a 10 count since he doesn't like to sit on the toilet.
  • More willing to help during undesirable times; cleaning up toys, etc (with assistance).
  • Beginning to make a choice between 2 objects using pictures versus just wanting to take both objects or pictures.

His occupational therapist was impressed with his improving fine motor skills. One of the goals that was set for this year was to have him string beads onto a shoe lace 3 of 5 attempts. He has mastered it for almost every attempt. Usually she has him sitting in the swing or on a cushion that makes him stabilize himself while he does it but she's so impressed.

His speech therapist plans on sending home a list of words for me to fill out so we can accurately see what he's saying there and here to figure out how many spoken words he's using regularly (which is always changing because now he asks for "Mater" when he wants to watch Mater's Tall Tales and last night he asked for "chock-it nilk").

I'm impressed with my son everyday, it amazes me to think that in two and a half years we went from "mama" to nearing 100 spoken words.

Monday, October 24, 2011

My education

I've had a lot of time to think lately and I've determined that as hard as Lex's diagnoses of autism and sensory processing disorder were for me to handle initially now they are a blessing.

Where else can you get an education that takes you so far outside yourself for free?

I had to learn that typical doesn't mean better it just means similar to others. I love that Lex isn't typical. It means I get to enjoy every word, every new skill and every sign of affection because they were fought for. This isn't to say if he were like his neurotypical peers I wouldn't enjoy him but it gives me a chance to enjoy him more.

I'm not the only one that gets the advantage of a Lex based education. The kids in his daycare get a special treat when Lex wants to play and be part of their games. These kids are truly wonderful people. More often than not the twins (E and O) ask me if Lex has school each day and when they find out he does and won't be staying to play they let me know how bummed they are that Lex won't be there with them. One little girl (C) is so his daycare mommy. She wakes him gently after nap and frequently sits with him and rubs his back when he's upset. She is also patient when it comes to him interfering with what she's doing or when he's more rough with her. She almost never tattles on him but instead uses her gentle nature to coax him into doing what she wants. Her sister (H) is absolutely in love with Lex. When we come in she always yells out for Lex by name and wants to be near him. She is a little less than 2 years younger than him so he feels most comfortable with her because her speech and skills are closer to his own than the other kids (who are all right around his age but are on track for speech and other developmental milestones). Lex loves to play with H's curly hair and she loves to let him because it's obvious that they care for each other. When I go to pick up Lex H always brings his toys and shoes to him and walks with him to the door. When her and C's dad gets to daycare before we leave Lex even shows him love (frequent hugs and Lex has given him a couple of kisses).

What Lex has taught me is that it's okay not to fit into the box that other people expect you to be in. That being yourself is far more fun. He has showed me that even hard times can be worth it for the smiles and kisses that come later. I can ignore rude people in the store so much easier now than before because I'm proud that Lex wants to be heard when we're at Walmart even if it causes the old people to scowl. He's letting me see that a simple trip to get milk is an adventure and should be enjoyed as such. He also has taught me that I don't need to care what people think because he doesn't. I'm sure as time goes on he'll start to realize he is different from his friends but if the kids at daycare are any indication of the kids that want to be around him I'm sure he'll do just fine. We can always continue to educate others on what it is to be autistic.

Autistic in our world means being: mysterious, talented, silly, caring, exceptional, funny, brilliant, smart, unique, gifted, curious, brave, zany, keen, fun, interesting, happy, clever, intriguing, sensitive, goofy, aware, blessed, musical, human, lively, capable, sharp, energetic, extraordinary, intelligent, expressive, artistic, comedic, charismatic, active, witty, able, bright, quick, wise, kind, productive, humorous, original, remarkable, inventive, loving, strong, amusing, imaginative, cool, creative, special, soulful, amazing, joyful, spirited, inspirational and surprising. In our house it means being anything and everything Lex wants to be including the best teacher a mom could ask for.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Why single parenting works... for me

I feel like I need to put a disclaimer here. Nate and I have separated again but this isn't meant to be a slam against him. He is a wonderful father to Lex but he and I couldn't find common ground to continue being partners in life.

But back to my original point single parenting works for me. The good and the bad, the easy and difficult, it all falls in my lap and while sometimes I wish there was a second adult around to handle things or to free me up to handle them I am making it work. I tend to have a very take charge attitude to get things done from cleaning to getting Lex out the door on time. Without another adult here it can be difficult but at the same time it seems easier. I don't have high expectations that won't be met, I know what my capabilities are and what will be done when.There is no hoping that dishes will have been washed while I was at work, unless my cats suddenly learn how to do the dishes, because they are my responsibility and I know that they'll get done when I have time.
I get to enjoy all the positives that come with single parenting, snuggles on the couch, kisses for getting a sippy cup of milk and endless laughs. Tonight was a great example of that. It was raining when I picked up Lex from daycare so we scurried to the car. Upon returning home Lex climbed out of the car and raced to the nearest puddle giggling the whole time. I coaxed him into the house long enough to get the dog on the leash and out the door again where Lex and I got to stomp in puddles while the dog whimpered because he doesn't like being outside when it's sunny and really doesn't like the rain. It was a battle to get Lex to come back in so I could make dinner and clean but I did it and he didn't stay mad at me for long. We ate and played and eventually he came into the kitchen and grabbed my hand to pull me away from the cleaning so we could snuggle before he fell asleep. I treasure these moments.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Long time no post

There have been so many changes in my life since the last time I was able to post (no internet at home the last few months).

Nate is living with us again and our divorce has been cancelled. Things are still tough frequently but we are working on it.He is employed and helping around the house with less reminders so I'm more confident that with time and effort we can make things work.

Lex is growing and blossoming everyday just like the sunflowers we planted for Mother's day. He started speech therapy at Scottish Rite and with the help and patience of Miss Tamara he is saying more words and using more signs with regularity. If I had to guess I would say he has no less than 50-75 words now, a massive increase from just a year ago. He is also showing growth in places he has been delayed, he is attending to tasks, using his utensils and even helping me clean up when we take out toys. He finished his first year of school last week and we did the IEP for next year. His teacher, speech therapist and occupational therapist were all very impressed with his gains and absolutely enjoy having him in class. His teacher sent home a toy microphone on the last day with a note on it telling him he has a beautiful voice, I love his school. One of my favorite things Lex learned was the letters in his name and how to spell it. Admittedly it isn't his birth name (Alexander is a few too many letters and difficult to navigate not to mention we almost never call him Alexander) but hearing him say "L-E-X" and showing me the letters is adorable. We are working on writing the letters but he recognizes them. Our big goal before next school year is potty training, he shows little interest except when I attempt to put him in a diaper (long trips out of the house or at bedtime) so I'm hoping with the assistance of daycare he'll get there sooner than later.

I've been doing alright, logging lots of time at work, not as much time or effort with exercise but all in all still good. We've entered the busy time at work with lots of school physicals coming in and lots of kids needing shots but I love it. Giving shots is one of the things I do best (not just my opinion I've been told that many times) so I really look forward to this time of year not to mention who could pass up seeing lots of cute almost kindergarten age kids?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Even with all the difficulties I've been having lately one thing I haven't had a hard time finding is angels in the flesh, I work with them on a daily basis.

When I'm having a particularly hard time being a single mom I have a clinic full of people who are at my side giving me ideas and volunteering to help where they can. As stubborn as I am I usually turn down the help and tell them that just getting everything off my chest is the best gift they can give me. But these men and women are smarter than that. They know that a lot of my stress comes from finances and that I am dead set against asking for help unless I absolutely need it. While I hadn't said I needed it these angels took a gathering in the office and presented me with an envelope of money to help make things easier. I was totally shocked and immediately grateful. That envelope meant diapers, a new backpack for Lex since his broke earlier this week and then gas for my car so I can make it to work next week. It meant the world to me that they would do this for us. Every time I think about it I start crying because I don't know how I got to be so blessed with such wonderful coworkers/friends/family. I wish I could do something just as touching in each and every one of their lives because this made a huge impact on ours

Sunday, January 9, 2011


I have a lot of problems with my anger. I can usually control it, especially when I'm around Lex (who incidentally has my hot temper) but I find that once I'm angry I tend to stay that way for hours to days. I'm harboring a lot of anger lately when it comes to things with Nate, especially bills or expenses and feeling like he gets to live relatively stress free in that aspect. Now don't get me wrong I don't blame him for all of the money problems I'm dealing with, I caused some of it too but I feel like I have to handle all the mistakes myself. I have a hard time talking to him because I'm in a constant state of stress, work causes stress, being home causes stress and my child that doesn't communicate like other kids his age causes stress and all this stress causes me to get angry. I feel like he's gloating when we talk because he gets to go out with his friends, he gets to do fun things that I can't afford to do or can't do because Lex is with me more often than not. I get angry when I hear about all the fun things he has planned for Lex's visits because he never wanted to do anything like that when he lived with us because he was always too tired or he just didn't want to.

I know I shouldn't get angry about these things because it just draws energy out of me and I should be happy that Nate wants to take Lex out to do fun things when they are together but sometimes I just can't help it. I had put everything I had into trying to make sure we could live comfortably, that Nate could attend school and do well,that Lex was getting all the therapy and one on one play time he needs and trying to make my marriage work. Once the work on the marriage fell through I was left wondering what went wrong. Yes, I'm the one that asked Nate to move out but I still blame myself for not being patient enough, for not giving him a stern enough warning to want to make the changes necessary for things to get better. I'm angry at myself for what I view as failing, I'm angry at Nate for not taking the necessary steps to help me on a daily basis and to help with Lex and the housework, for not attending classes and keeping down a job until we had managed to catch up on bills. But all this anger doesn't do me any good, it just makes me feel drained.


This last few days have been very frustrating for me. My favorite coworker (and very good friend) was off due to a medical procedure she had to have and while we joke that she and I run the clinic I realized this week that it is sort of true. I had so many questions directed to me that I honestly contemplated hiding out in an empty exam room just to avoid the extra questions. In addition to having to do my regular vaccine and medication ordering I had to order supplies since that is normally her responsibility. I just hope I didn't screw that up at all.

Normally I work with one doc 3 days a week and then another on Thursdays. This Thursday he started later than normal but I still got to the clinic early figuring I would use that time to catch up on messages and prescriptions but instead I spent the extra 45 minutes before his first patient stocking his rooms. His other assistant obviously hadn't put any new supplies in there in a while since there were a lot of expired items that I threw out and he had to covers for the otoscope in one room. Now I normally just mutter under my breath and maybe complain to another assistant or two because it's not really my responsibility to keep these rooms stocked but I never say anything to our manager. (I'm responsible for the 2 rooms that my regular doc uses and she never runs out of supplies because I get in early on Tuesdays to make sure we have plenty of supplies for the next week.) This time I had enough, I went to the manager and explained I understand that this nurse has a harder time keeping up with patient flow, messages and prescriptions because of the way she works but I had enough of having to stock these rooms when I know she has the time to do it because she is frequently off chatting instead of in her office. I told him that if he and the doctor wanted me to stock those rooms I would do it but otherwise I want the normal nurse to do it. I came up with a form last year to make sure we check all the items in our rooms for expiration dates and the nurse I was having problems with hadn't used hers at all as far as I could tell. My manager said he would discuss it with her when she returns to work and thanked me profusely for taking the initiative to make sure the doc had the supplies he would need and checking expiration dates.

The next day the nurse I was having problems with called in sick as she does pretty frequently (or she shows up late without any warning for the rest of us). My manager called me around 7am to see if I could work the rest of the day since I was only scheduled to work the morning with my regular doc. I told him I had several things I had to do but I would stay if they needed me. Luckily he found a float to come in so I didn't have to stay the whole day but instead I had to help the floats that were covering 2 of the 5 docs in office. Covering that many messages and prescriptions isn't usually a problem but we had really over booked my doc. So instead of doing just her messages and prescriptions I had hers and 3 other docs' stuff open. At work I'm pretty easily flustered if I don't feel like I'm making good progress and it didn't feel like I was on Friday. I still managed to get it all done but an hour and a half after I was supposed to leave.

Friday after leaving work my plan was to run home and grab some stuff to bring back to my cable company, pick up Lex from daycare and get a steroid injection in my sore shoulder. That plan fell through completely. I was driving a little faster than I should have because I was trying to remain ahead of a car that was coming up on my bumper when I saw a police officer driving in the other direction. I had already started to push my brakes when I saw him turn his car around and come back my direction. I knew who he was pulling over... me. By time he got to my window I had my license ready and I did my best to be polite. Then came the bad part, he asked for my insurance, something I didn't have (I had let it lapse in order to pay other bills that I felt were more necessary, something I now realize was a bad idea). He went back to his car and I knew I was getting a ticket. Okay so I didn't really want the ticket but I figured paying a fine was no big deal and would help me learn my lesson to slow down. He came back to my car and said he had to tow it for the lack of insurance and asked if there was anyone I could call to come get me. I was just about in tears before he finished that statement but I managed to hold it together to tell him that I would try to find someone but if I couldn't would it be possible for him to give me a ride to the downtown bus stop so I could at least get back to Superior to get Lex from daycare on time. He said he would drive me all the way to Superior if I needed him to. Luckily my dad came to my rescue. While I was waiting for Dad to get there I called and got a quote for car insurance so that as soon as I could get a prepay debit/credit card I could order the insurance. Tomorrow I will hopefully get my car back since I have my insurance cards. This one mistake is costing me big bucks though.

Last night and today I don't know what bug crawled up Lex's butt but this kid is testing my patience. He has just been screaming or crying for nothing and then he has been hitting and scratching way more than normal. I'm surprised I don't have a black eye for the number of times he has punched me in the face this weekend. Last night I felt bad for him. He absolutely hates having his nails cut and he doesn't like having lotion put on his skin, not sure if it's SPD (sensory processing disorder) related or just a quirk that he has but doing both of these things cause a battle (as does cutting his hair but that seems to be improving since I got a new set of clippers that are much quieter). I started trying to cut his toe nails since he had a couple of long ones and a couple that were broken and I'm sure snag on his socks, that was almost impossible so I just cut the long ones and stopped. He screamed the whole time I was doing that so I held him for a while and he kept trying to hand me his pajamas to put on him but since I hadn't done the lotion yet I wouldn't put them on him. Next up was his finger nails. I have a lot more practice doing his fingers so I swaddled him, pulled one arm out and pinned him under my legs, cue the major screaming and the baby Hulk. I managed to get them all cut but he lost his voice from screaming (he's like me his voice is the first thing to go when he gets a cold). He cried while I put the lotion on him and started to calm down once I had his pajamas on. When I went to put the nail clippers and lotion away he fell asleep on the couch. I always feel bad when I have to do this but an upset child is better than my arms looking like I got into a fight with the cats.