Posted in autism spectrum disorder, Day in the life of a mom, Kids Activity Ideas, Mental Health, Uncategorized

Since Pursuing a Spectrum Diagnosis

Back In April, I posted about trying to get help for my young son whose spectrum-type behaviors, as well as SPD, some OCD, and anxiety issues were really making daily life exhausting not only for him but for our family. I was quite discouraged after hearing that the wait list for a leading autism resource center was almost a year out, and I knew we needed help before then.  Let down but not about to give up, I finally got ahold of a mental healthcare professional who could diagnose him.

We’ve had 5 months with Dr. B, whom we call our son’s “thought doctor” (and I have told him I have one who helps me, too.  Counseling is good for everybody!).  I knew it was a good fit when my son did not “stink face” him and warmed up immediately…not his usual reaction to new people.  He does connect with safe-feeling adults when he feels comfortable since he finds they listen better than kids to his topics of interest.  To him, “safe” people are generally the quiet ones that don’t approach him too quickly or demand a hug or response, etc. (Or ones with “cool hair” like our pastor, who got invited by my son to his 7th birthday party.)

Later on, the compatibility with the psychologist was confirmed when my son didn’t feel like talking and made his usual chicken “buckaw” sound or other nonsense (it’s called echolalia, basically a stimming behavior) and Dr. B was unfazed and even responded to my son’s question or two the same way in a friendly, bonding manner.  My son really feels accepted by him and is open to what he has to say.

Dr. B wrote up a paper for his school this year and it has been helpful for his teacher to understand him.  It explains why he reacts the way he does, making mention of his generalized anxiety disorder as well as a provisional spectrum diagnosis.  My son is really intelligent and for the most part blends in well, but he is quite inflexible. When he hits an emotional road bump, his strong, usually negative emotional responses would not go over well in a strict private school.

So I am thankful for the diagnosis; I don’t have to worry he’ll be misunderstood and labeled a bad kid, and he has the option to go to an area with a trampoline to self-regulate again.  (So far our only struggles have been getting him to school due to anxiety, clothing issues, etc., but not at school.)

What Counseling Appointments are Like
My son usually goes to appointments wearing some costume or other; He’s worn his police uniform and hat, army helmet and camo, and batman costume among others.  I figure while he’s young enough, why not if it makes him more open to learning new coping skills.

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Since he was little, hats of some sort have made him feel more comfortable. (I wonder if it’s because it provides the feeling of an extra barrier between him and the world that barrages his senses).  Once when he was two or three my husband and I were sitting in church as the little ones were invited to the front for a kids’ time, and we noticed the bright red fire helmet he had on and looked at each other like, “You didn’t have him leave it at home?”  (Survival mode makes life a blur like that, and only when you can sit for a breather do things come into focus.  Then, I thought hats were more of a phase.)

In their time together (and usually I’m there with them, and my daughter as well) they goof off with toys Dr. B has in the office and chit chat about whatever my son wants.  Then, Dr. B discusses struggles of the week that I wrote on a note, so my son doesn’t shut down if he hears me talking about it.  (He struggles in particular with “big emotions”, knowing how to process them without wanting to run away to hide).  It’s usually broached like, “Hey, so was anything hard for you this week?”  And they go from there.  Lots of talk about flexibility, which has been helpful.

Since meeting often, I can tell a big cloud has lifted from over my son.  I think it’s because it’s not just me telling my son he’s alright and that mistakes are ok.  (He has felt his “brain doesn’t work right” because of different struggles, and has really low self esteem, with has perfectionism tendencies).  Dr. B tells us he sees lots of kids who worry a lot or struggle with behavior, etc., and little by little I can see my son relaxing and feeling more confident.

While we have lots more issues to work on, for me as his mom, having weekly or biweekly appointments also helps me to relax when I feel like things are so dysfunctional in our home.  It’s hard to watch a movie as a family without him getting upset (angry, disruptive behavior and running away) when he doesn’t know what to expect, or anticipates something bad happening, or can’t deal with the emotion he sees the characters displaying.

With his misophonia and a sister who is VERY loud and sensory seeking, there is lots of fighting and it can drive me nuts.  However, Dr. B has reassured me that he thinks I’m way ahead of some because I’ve done some much reading up and implementing of strategies to help him, and my son is still very young.

So right now, the plan of action is stress reduction and management for everybody (which will reduce the anxiety and intensity of reactionary responses).  And also I need to talk with insurance about OT for his sensory issues.  So yeah, if your child is a “spirited” child who has anxiety, SPD/OCD or is possibly on the spectrum, please do not despair and find someone who can help you both on your journey so you do not feel overwhelmed and alone. Your child is worth whatever the cost to be in a confident mental space, and as a parent and you need that, too! It is increasing the peace in our home, and I pray the same for you.

 

 

Posted in Day in the life of a mom, DIY, Featured Inspiration, Kids Activity Ideas, minimalism, painting, Ponderings about life, Quick Project, sensory processing disorder

Is Boredom why Your Kids are Squabbling this Summer?

How’s your summer going, parents?  Staying sane and happy? It’s been a bit over a week since we got back from vacation, and I am still trying to get the laundry under control…But at least it’s off the couch today! When a mom’s got work to do, there’s nothing so irksome as squabbling kiddos, eh?!

As I try to be productive and get the house back in order, I’ve noticed that to minimize interruptions due to my kids’ arguments, I’ve got to nip their boredom in the bud! I’ll clarify that I believe there is a positive state similar to boredom, which is space for the mind to wander, get lost in imagination, and enjoy not having to do anything at all.  Having opportunity for that can be a very good thing because it leaves space for contentment without busyness.

The problem comes when you get restless and brooding boredom, that tension between pent-up energy and no appealing outlet for it, that often leads to inappropriate expressions.  So, your kids are home from school with you and you want to harness that energy constructively, without resorting to mesmerizing them with screens all day, right? What can you do to banish boredom?

My best boredom-busting tip and survival secret as a mom has been planning OUTSIDE TIME! Maybe it’s that the sensory diet is so rich–ambient noises of birds, the feel of the breeze, the colors and smells of flowers, etc., that seems to soothe tempestuous little people.  In fact, when my kids are in an emotional storm, I often give them an option to head out back to calm down…and it has yet to stop working.

Here’s a list of 4 easy ways you can beat boredom and add some outdoor magic to your summer days:

1.  Paint outside like a master (this is especially ideal for mommas who cringe at the idea of the mess that craft/paint projects can bring with them).  Have the kiddos wear old clothes and head outside with some finger paints and put up some big blank art pages (or recycle by using some newspaper or cardboard) on your fence or shed. (Make sure it’s washable of course.) 

 

 
2.  Picnic on your porch or in your backyard. Simple smoothies, watermelon or popsicle/ other snacks count, too. We do this frequently and my kids suggest it themselves often.  I love my covered patio swing because even when I’m worn out, my kids and I can go enjoy some shade and sit together as I rest with a cup of tea in my hands! They usually finish their snack up and scamper off to play nearby while I recharge.

3.  Schedule some Park time We keep revisiting a peaceful sandy spot near a river. It has a swing which appeals to my daughter, and my son loves digging in the sand or catching minnows with his über fun telescopic net!  You could combine #1 and park time for even more cool-mom points! It’s pretty easy to throw together sandwiches and carrot sticks plus yogurt tubes for al fresco fare. 

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4.  People, learn about your local historic landmarks! It’s fun!! My family loves history and actually going to historic spots really makes the books about long-past time periods come alive.  (BTW, no need for a gym membership in 1735.  Those buckets are HEAVY!)

 

Yesterday we found a free event called the Lavender Festival at Hancock’s Resolution, a farm established in 1733 that even included beekeeping education with a working apiary.  (Did you know a queen bee can lay up to 1,000 eggs if needed, and that the workers determine the sex of new bees by what they feed the queen?!)

 


But, if it’s a rainy day, remember you have indoor options too!  You got this! Go forth and carpe diem!

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