Thursday, June 21, 2012

Life with an Aspergers Child

When Brandon was in the 3rd grade, we were given the news that Brandon had Aspergers.  That sounds like he has a disease, and although that is how I felt for quite some time, I am now learning the blessings of having a child with Aspergers!  Yes, I said blessings!  That comment is in no way to demean the trials and tribulations parents and children go through when Aspergers or any Autism Spectrum Disorder (I hate that word!) is present.  It has been about 5 years since we got our diagnosis.  At first, I just wanted to fix my baby!  I wanted to help him get better, I wanted the magic therapy, I wanted him to be just like everyone else!  It wasn't until I read a booked by Jon Elder Robison called Look Me in the Eyes, that I truly began to see the wonders and amazing things about being an aspergian, as Mr, Robison calls himself.  I highly recommend that book!
I cannot begin to tell you how it feels to have aspergers, but I can tell you how it feels to have a child that is struggling and have absolutely no idea how to help them!    It is the worst feeling in the world!  I started out feeling guilty.  What had I done to cause this??  Why can't he be cured??  Is it because we don't have enough money or intelligence to get the cure???    I am sure (now) that I am not the only parent to ever have those thoughts!
After LOTS of reading and research on Autism Spectrum Disorders, I still felt lost.  But the more I read and the more I researched and the more I talked with other Mom's, I slowly began to forgive myself for whatever it was I did to cause this.   Now we all know that I did not "cause" Brandon to have aspergers, but I think that is just how we mom's are wired!  
When I first read Disconnect Kids by Dr. Melillo, that was when I started to have hope that there was actually an explanation for ASD and ways to help!  We took Brandon to the Brain Balance clinic in Overland Park KS.  Brandon went through two half days of testing.  The clinic director was wonderful!  She confirmed things that I already suspected and brought to light a lot more I did not understand!  After trying to help him on my own at home,  one of my friends told me about a clinic in Fayetteville that incorporates the brain balance program into the Therapies they offer.  Now this is not the first clinic Brandon had taken Occupational Therapy, but it has by far shown the most results!  I love his therapist, Debbie!  I believe that she is so good with him because she has a son with similar issues, so it is person with her.  She has told me things that have been a great help to her son, and understands the issues that we face daily.
It seems that most kids on the spectrum aren't lucky enough to have their issues stop there.  Its pretty common from what I have been told to have food allergies, asthma, and a slue of other medical issues!  My son has lots of food allergies, wheat, barley, rye, oats, gluten, milk and yeast are not his friends!  He has lots of textural/tactile problems as well.  He has asthma, that by the grace of God is controlled by meds.  We recently discovered that he does not produce adequate growth hormones. Therefore we have started growth hormone shots.  B actually gives them to himself a lot of the time!  Sometimes I think he just doesn't want to do it, so he comes in before he goes to bed with his med pen, needle tip and alcohol swab and just looks at me and grins.  Love that boy!
Well, so far, I haven't really revealed the blessings....  believe me there are a lot of them!
Although you can not generalize with ASD, because every child has different symptoms, there are a lot of traits that prove to be true.  Here are a few wonderful things that I contribute to ASD.
Brandon is probably to most honest child I have ever met.  Its like he doesn't know how to lie.  Sometimes being painfully honest, but I can always count on Brandon to tell the truth.
His mind is amazing!  When B describes things or begins to tell you about his current infatuation, you will see things in a way that you would have never thought to look!  I believe that is a wonderful gift.
When he is interested in something, it is just about impossible to distract or take him away from that.  He will eat, sleep and breathe it.  Just think of all the aspergians in the past that if they didn't look at something differently or just gave up because it was too hard, we would not have a lot of the inventions, technology, music, art that we have today!  They say Genius is just on the line of Insanity, well, I believe that all those genius' out there are really Aspergians!  Albert Einstein for instance.  He was so smart and creative, but he couldn't tie his shoes.  (Or comb his hair HA!)
I know that God has given this gift to Brandon, and although I don't understand it now, He has great plans for my baby!
I love to see Brandon's smile, hear his laugh, listen to him play the piano, see his love for reading and thirst for knowledge that seems unquenchable!  Everyday I see a new blessing that has come from ASD.  I hope that never changes.

Now, I am just trying to help B to learn how to communicate with his peers, to feel as confident as he can and learn to control and alleviate the stress and anxiety he feels on a daily basis, just so he can have the best life he can!  I don't want him to be 'fixed' or 'cured', actually that would be a tragedy.

We have good days and bad days, but I truly hope and pray that Brandon will never loose sight of his wonderful gift that God has given him. No matter how hard it is to see sometimes.


My how time flies!!!

So, I have decided to start actually using my blog.  I just looked at the last entry and it was over a year ago!!  Joshua is now 14, and he will be getting his drivers permit soon.  I cannot wait until he can drive!!  I know that is a little different than most mom's with their first born.  But let me tell you, I HATE to drive, and I would love it if I could just sit back and relax drinking a cup of coffee on our morning route!  Plus I need help driving everyone around!  Brandon is 12 now. He is my Aspergers child.  I tell you that has been a crazy ride so far, but I think that deserves its own entry!   Nathan is 10, full of energy and probably the most loving and caring of my children!  Katie is just a couple months away from turning 9.  She is a beautiful ballerina!  Courtney will be 7 yrs old in about 3 weeks.  She is a beauty, with her blonde hair and sweet smile!  Courtney and I are a lot alike, so we tend to butt heads a lot.  I have to remind myself of that daily so as not to loose my temper! haa haa
Tim and I have been married for 15 yrs, and I love him more today than the day I married him!  He is so good to me!  Don't get me wrong, we have our ups and downs just like everyone else, but these last few years have taught me a lot about how to look at the wonderful things in my life and not dwell on the negative!  Tim is definitely one of the more wonderful gifts that God has brought me, next are my 5 children!  I don't know what I would do without them!!! 

Brandon and Nathan are at Camp Subiaco right now.  That was a wonderful gift from God!  We could have never afforded to send the boys there, but God provides when it is in His plans!  I have been picture stalking them on the website, they look to be having a great time!  I am sure that will be an entry by itself as well!  We are going to pick them up on Saturday.  I can't wait to see my boys!!!

Katie just finished with A Cinderella Story with Adonai Ballet Academy.  She was a princess.  She wore the most beautiful green gown!  She danced with Peyton Morris, they did such a great job!  The DVD's will be here next week, so as I am sure you are all dying to watch it again, just come on over and we will watch it together!!  

Joshua went to the JBU Basketball camp again this year.  I think he really learns a lot there! Plus I think he enjoys getting away from the chaos that is our life!  He will be playing on the Haas Hall Mastiffs basketball team this year.  I can't wait to watch him on the court!  We are loving Haas Hall and Joshua is excelling at every turn!  I know that this was a great decision to send him to Haas!  Like I said before, God provides when it is in His plan!!  

Courtney attended 3 weeks of day camp at school this summer.  She had a great time!  Thanks to Mrs. Cronin for doing the camp!  Courtney is already showing improvement in her reading!  She wants to read like her siblings so badly!  She will get there!  It will just take a bit more practice!  

I think that sort of catches us up!  Thanks for reading!!