Monday, December 24, 2012

I want to write a happy post ...

... full of cheerful holiday snark and recounting the Great Flying Menorah Incident of 2012, as well as the Quest for the Purple Bunny, but first I want to say this.

If you haven't yet read this blog post, that is one sturdy rock you've been hiding under. Read it now.

Because I agree with the writer (and my heart goes out to her). I think this country needs to have a serious discussion about mental illness. And about learning disabilities and mental disorders and how to handle kids who have clear issues without A. pretending there is no issue or B. writing the kid off as a loner/geek/nutbar and doing absolutely nothing about it.

Look, my kid is not on the level of the writer's son, or Adam Lanza or Jared Loughner or etc. He is the exact opposite of antisocial -- he loves people and thinks they should all be his friends. Kiddo has trouble with impulsivity and hyperactivity. He can't sit still. He misses social cues. He needs constant reminders about personal space. He's gotten better about not running in parking lots (thankfully). My point is this: He's not a "maybe" case of ADHD. He's a "totally." Every medical or educational professional who evaluates him says the same thing. The school OT, examining him last month, saw all the exact same sensory and impulsivity issues that the private OT saw during their examination in April. He was initially diagnosed in February. And where are we at, 10 months later? He's got a 504 plan that may or may not be enough for him. He's got a behavioral therapist who's dropping our insurance. He's disrupting class activities. He's still under observation by the school social worker, who will present her report to us when next we all meet, whenever that is, though not this calendar year, obviously.

He's got an acknowledged problem, and 10 months later I would not consider that problem even close to solved, or properly dealt with. Now imagine kiddo was more like Adam Lanza. Imagine waiting to deal with the problem when the problem could be fatal.

Learning disabilities, mental disorders, mental illness, do not just go away or get better on their own. Early intervention is crucial. And that intervention needs to be across the board -- school, home, wherever. Everywhere. Parents can't deal with this stuff on their own. They need help. 

There has to be a way to speed up the bureaucracy. There has to be a way to increase federal funding. There has to be something more we can do.

Not just because I want kiddo to be able to reach his full potential. Because I think he should be able to sit in class without fearing for his life.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


I don't really know what to say about the Connecticut shootings, other than it's horrible and I don't know why this keeps happening. I can't even imagine being those parents right now. I feel profoundly lucky that our biggest concern today is buying a new tree stand, not planning a funeral.

I don't know why the shooters are always boys. What possesses them? What are they thinking? Are they so unable to process their pain or their anger or their trauma or whatever it is that they need to spread that pain around before ending everything?

How do we stop it from happening?

I will say it concerns me that the suspect was (allegedly) autistic, or had some other sort of disorder (no one seems clear on that yet). Because I would hate to have people leap to conclusions about autistic kids.

Clearly I'm not the only one concerned about that. From

"Autism is not a mental health disorder - it is a neurodevelopmental disorder," said the Autism Research Institute's Autistic Global Initiative Project. "The eyes of the world are on this wrenching tragedy -- with 1 in 88 now diagnosed, misinformation could easily trigger increased prejudice and misunderstanding."

There are a few similarities between autistic (at least Asperger's) kids and ADHD kids -- increased smarts coupled with an inability to read social cues. So I have an interest in these matters.

I spent most of yesterday checking in on the story on my phone, even while DH and I were doing gift shopping, even while we were out at a rare kid-free dinner (thanks to MIL). At one point we were in the car and a rock station played "Jeremy," and while I'm normally happy to hear Pearl Jam this struck me as unbelievably inappropriate and we switched stations. Hey, why not play Boomtown Rats while you're at it? Throw in Foster the People's "Pumped Up Kicks" and you can have a whole school shooting playlist. How totally ironic and postmodern. Jerks.


Anyway. Kiddo is doing okay-ish. Still acting up in class, with a little less hitting and pushing. He's already started OT, which is wonderful, and the school agreed to some other accommodations, including a behavior chart with specific rewards he can earn (the school social worker who set it up for him reported he seemed pretty excited about it) and a squishy fidget toy for him to hold during class. I think compression shirts seem to help him, so I'm going to buy a few more. The school is still balking at an IEP but they did say it's the next step if these modifications don't work. So we'll see. Being patient is annoying but no bureaucracy in the history of ever has moved quickly on anything.

I think we could all use the holiday break, frankly. I'm wiped. Kiddo whines every morning, "I don't want to go to school!" Some time away would do us all good.

And again, so grateful that we get to have a normal Christmas vacation.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The up-and-down day

Yesterday morning, we were heading out to buy a dryer. Yes, we are exciting folk. Our current dryer needs a new motor, and a few other things, and since the dryer is probably original to the house (we're the second owners), along with all the other appliances, it just made more sense to replace it. And soon, because hauling wet clothes to the Laundromat is nowhere near as much fun as it sounds.

So we were driving out to the main road and we saw a dog running loose, and a woman and several kids running after him. We watched worriedly as the dog kept dodging them, thisway thatway thisway, and then he ran across the road, with a boy chasing him, and we both gasped a little. The dog came back across and we pulled over. DH called out to the woman, asking if she needed help. Then the dog dodged them again and I hopped out of the car and started running after him myself.

The dog, whose name was Patches and appeared to be some sort of tall pitbull mix, if that's even possible, was fast, and clearly having the time of his life. This was the best game of Keep-Away ever! I got really close a couple of times and reached out to grab his collar, and at the last second he dodged me and ran off again. The woman, flustered, kept explaining that this was the first time he had ever gotten out. Random other people kept pulling over to help too, including a big burly guy in a delivery truck, but he was uncatchable. Finally I just crouched down nearby and started calling him, hand out. "Patches, c'mere! You know you don't belong out here!" Curiously, he came over and sniffed my hand.

"I'll grab his collar!" the owner said behind me, as one of the kids handed me a dog treat to give him.

"I've got it," I said calmly, and once he realized he was about to be leashed, he started trying to jerk away, but I gave him the treat and he calmed down some.

The owner and I introduced ourselves to each other, and she thanked me profusely, saying her biggest worry was all the kids running around after the dog. She couldn't understand why Patches would come to a stranger but not her. "Strangers have more interesting smells," I pointed out.

So that happened. And then this happened.

We went to two stores -- one to order the dryer (yay), one to buy a Hanukkah present for my sister and her husband. It was not kiddo's most shining hour. He kept wandering off, not listening, yanking back on my hand and collapsing on the floor when I tried to make him walk with us. As he does. The second store was the worst, because it was crowded with holiday shoppers and full of pretty lights and sparkly things. He's lousy in crowds and easily overstimulated by bright lights and toys to buy and such. So we were basically just dragging him around, and periodically this sort of thing gets in my head and I think the other shoppers must think he's such a brat and then I start snapping at him, because I get tired of looking like That Mom. So we made it to the register and paid with a minimum of whining and tantruming and then he tried to wander off the other direction afterward, and I yanked on his hand and he stumbled into the counter with a clunk. And then he lost it entirely, and I had to hustle him out of there before he broke the other customers' eardrums. I let him have it outside the store, and DH calmed him down, and the good cop/bad cop routine more or less worked.

Why is it I have more patience for a strange dog than I do for my own son?

Because the dog doesn't know any better? But neither does my son. And even though intellectually I know he can't help himself, that a crowded store is probably the last place on Earth we should be bringing him, it's sometimes impossible to remember in the moment. And I can't help wishing that one time we could bring him somewhere without worrying that he's going to bolt in the opposite direction, just because he feels like it.

On the plus side, we're halfway done with the shopping.