Finding Ourselves on the Autism Spectrum

Archive for the ‘Asking for help’ Category

Eye exam anxiety

A typical Snellen chart. Originally developed ...

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Hi, Blog Friends.
 
Simon is going to his first eye appointment today to see about a problem he’s having in one of his eyes.  He’s having blurry vision in one eye, which may relate to an injury last year that we thought was no big deal, because he said he was fine. He’s nervous about the exam, and he’s worried about the possibility of having to get some type of corrective lenses.   He got upset enough about failing a routine school vision screening that he needed to come home.  Going to drag my 6-foot-tall autistic/ anxiety-disordered son there anyway, so any prayers or positive thoughts you’d like to send our way for a peaceful experience and a positive outcome would be appreciated. 
 
Thank you.

Try, try again

Busy weekend. Alvin went to a movie and sleepover birthday party at one friend’s house and now has another friend over to play video games after seeing a different movie with him. Theodore went to a friend’s laser tag birthday party. He was supposed to have a second party to attend after that, but the second friend isn’t feeling well today, so they had to reschedule.

Simon is off without us at an all-day robotics event. He left the house at 6:15AM and won’t be back until after 6:00 this evening. He went on his own with his robotics team, a cell phone, and some cash for lunch. For most kids, it’s pretty carefree day of fun. We’re just happy Simon sounded OK when we last spoke to him on the phone. This is actually the second day of a two-day event, and the first day wasn’t exactly smooth sailing.

Our boy has come such a long way. The idea of him being able to attend any function at all on his own is a relatively recent development. He has a parapro with him all day at school, and my husband and I have generally been with him everywhere else. Occasionally he can be at a friend’s house when the parents know him pretty well, but we still make sure to be on standby and listening for the phone. His dad still takes off work every year to attend various scouting functions and goes with the boys to summer camp for a whole week.

In seventh grade Simon finally found a club where he was comfortable. It was a strategy game club, and that year it was being run by a friend of ours who knows him very well. Simon loves strategy games and is annoyingly good at them, so he really enjoyed the activity. Plus they had snacks. Come to think of it, pretty much every activity I’ve been able to get him to attend without having to twist his arm has provided him with food on a regular basis. Whatever works. 🙂

This year Simon started high school, and he’s tried quite a few different activities on his own. He’s had issues with at least half of them, but he’s also found a few keepers. One is the game club, which not only offers strategy games, but now Simon finally has people with whom he can play Yugioh without having to enter an official tournament. And he loves GO club. GO is an ancient game involving little black and white stones placed on a board to try to gain and take over territory, and Simon is developing a reputation for his playing ability. Hubby is annoyingly good at most games, too, but he can’t beat Simon at GO, and it pisses him off.

Simon also joined the school robotics team. This is much more of a time commitment, plus it involved some financial investment. Simon has had some problems with frustration over tasks in which he is less interested (he mostly likes programming), dealing with people who don’t seem to know what they are doing some of the time, and – since the build season started – sensory overload from all of the noise. Though he’s been attending fewer of the meetings, he’s hung with it, and he decided to go to two of the team’s regional competitions, the first of which started yesterday. He got to take the day off of school, which was a plus. He still has to do all the homework. And he still had to get up at 5:00am yesterday and today to ride the bus an hour away.

We weren’t sure Simon would be allowed on the bus yesterday, because he hadn’t attended the last meeting, which we found out later was supposed to be mandatory, and because he hadn’t been there to receive his team shirt. But they gave him his shirt and let him on, and we let him go. There aren’t any parapros for optional team trips, BTW. Hubby said he’d be available to go retrieve the boy if needed, and I made sure Simon had a cell phone to call me. We knew the noise level would probably be a sensory nightmare, but Simon’s tolerance has increased over the years, and we hoped the promise of food and hours of mechanical competition would be enough to compensate. It wasn’t. At least it wasn’t yesterday.

The teams took a break for lunch around 1:00pm, and I got a call from Simon saying he was feeling like he’d had enough. The place was an hour away, so I needed for him to hang on for a bit. I did my best to try to find out what was happening and how I might be able to help while I also contacted his dad, who had really been hoping to not get this call. It was hard to hear while trying to have a phone conversation with Simon through all the background noise, so we started texting. Over the course of the next hour I got messages from him saying he was exhausted, he couldn’t concentrate, he couldn’t find the food, and he couldn’t think clearly. At least he could still text. In between bouts of kicking myself for letting him go in the first place, I sent back messages suggesting he find some water, asking if he could see anyone he knew, and finally just asking where he was so his dad would be able to find him.

Turns out Simon didn’t do badly at all. Besides having the sense to call and ask for help, he stayed with his group and did his best to remain calm until help arrived. He also lost the money we sent with him and his new team T-shirt, but at least he kept the cell phone. 🙂 His dad and I decided the best plan would be to try to help Simon find food there and experience some recovery before talking about leaving. Hubby helped Simon to get food (which was on very large tables right out in the open that Simon was just too stressed to be able to see) and taking him out to the car for a quiet place to eat and regroup. Hubby did such a good job being flexible and supportive in the face of his own frustration. They discussed options, and a now fed and calmer Simon decided on his own to go home and try again in the morning. By this time, it was about 3:00 in the afternoon.

This time we sent Simon off with a backpack containing a water bottle, plus some extra cash in case he lost track of what we’d given him in his wallet (the loose cash from the day before never was recovered).  We also sent along two sets of earplugs to help him manage the noise level.  I couldn’t reach Simon during the morning today, which wasn’t making me happy in light of yesterday’s difficulties, but I also knew he might not be able to hear his phone, and he doesn’t always notice it on the vibrate setting.  He called at lunch to say he was doing fine , and he seemed in good spirits. No mention of wanting to leave early. He found out where his missing T-shirt ended up, and he knew where to find the food. I’m having trouble reaching him again, but by now the event should almost be over. So now I’m just waiting to hear.

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It’s after 8pm, and my boy is finally back home.  Simon said he had a great time even though his team got eliminated in the quarter finals  and that the medal he is now sporting around his neck is a special engineering award given to his team.   He was talking on the short drive from the school back to our house about underdog victories and mascots and other things he found very entertaining.   Now he gets to relax and stuff himself full of ravioli and garlic bread here at home.  He’s a pretty happy guy and very glad he decided to give this another try. 🙂

 

 

 

Homework on and off the spectrum,and Asking for help

Hi, Everyone.

I don’t know if this is considered bad form, but I just wrote such a long response to a question I came across on a Facebook posting for Hartley’s Life with 3 Boys that I want to turn it into a blog post.  I put more time and thought into it than I had initially intended, and I’m adding a few things here.  I mostly feel the need to write things after a comment or question made by someone else starts me thinking.  I really want to post something today, and I  have so much other stuff to get done, too – including reading through all the comments that have showed up since I checked last evening (I promised myself to get the laundry and cleaning out of the way first, and that can be my reward:).  Plus, this is a less angsty, slice of life sort of thing that I want to be able to write about sometimes.  If I get more time later I may move on to something deeper.  Then again, who knows?

On asking for help:

I feel like mentioning first that reason I got on Facebook this morning before venturing here or even to my email is that I decided to ask  for something I want.  Specifically, I was asking friends nearby for help with transporting my youngest home from school certain days so that I can have time to spend on my Aspie son and his homework right when he gets home and can still focus.  That’s a pretty big thing for me – the asking and the sharing of a little Aspie part of our lives .  But since I’ve been asking people here for help with questions and for doing me the great favor of reading my initial posts,  I’m very pleased with how that’s working out, so I’m trying to build on that momentum.  While I was writing this I just got interrupted by a friend letting me know she can help with my request, so that’s worked out, too.   I also asked/informed hubby this morning that he ought to tell me I look skinny today, which I do, because I haven’t yet found a way to eat while doing all this typing.  Since he’s an intelligent man, he responded with appropriate enthusiasm 🙂

And now on to what was supposed to be my post before I digressed.  On the subject of how we approach homework for my three boys:

I don’t know what would work for anyone else, but this year my ASD guy started high school, and we’ve mostly gotten into a groove with the homework after a pretty bumpy start.  Mostly it’s been a matter of insisting that he and I both go through each subject for the day and see what needs done and if he has the needed papers, books, etc., BEFORE we can talk about going off to do anything else. I still have to insist on this every day.  Then I ask him to give me an estimate of how long each item will probably take, and we figure out a total (adding a bit more time in case he’s figured low), and we look at what else is happening that evening and how much time he has to work with.  He has a parapro, and she provides her own list of the homework assignments, in case he missed anything.  I had to ask pretty insistently for that, as a matter of fact, but it’s been a huge help.

At this stage, it’s working much better to then ask my ASD guy to generate a plan himself for how he’s going to get things done and in what order, but I used to do that for him.  He’s finally become invested in doing well after so many years of me thinking he maybe never would, and being a teenager, he feels a great need to be in control of as much of his day as possible.  If time permits, he really seems to need a half an hour of downtime before beginning his homework, so I go along with that, but I keep tabs on the time to make sure that after that he’s at work.  If I don’t, it’s a crapshoot as to whether he’ll get moving on his own when the timer goes off or not.  If there’s a ton of homework, he can alternate his work with timed breaks. Again, I need to help keep track.

For ASD boy, habit is everything, and if we let things slide or I don’t keep track of his time with him, he gets overwhelmed and starts becoming very resistant to working on much of anything.  He has a nice big desk in his room now (mostly he stores stuff there, but it leaves his bed free as a workspace :), so I often have him work there and check on him if his brothers are too much of a distraction.  I do have to keep checking, though, because he’ll lose track of what he’s supposed to be doing.

My middle son is NT, but he’s a procrastinator and very absent-minded, and he has pretty intense anxiety and anger issues.  What’s finally ended up working for him is that we go through much of what I do with my older son, but more quickly and usually just verbally.  If he doesn’t make a plan right when he gets home, it won’t occur to him again that anything needs to be done until late enough in the evening that he ends up having a meltdown.  With him, too, a timed period of free time, then back to work until it’s done.

My youngest is only 7 and ahead of grade level in reading and math, so even if we forget his homework until morning, right now it’s no biggie.  I do try to get him working on the same plan as the others when I can, mainly because I finally have a system worked out, and habit is such a big deal around here, but he has so little homework, and sometimes there’s just not enough of me to go around and keep track of everybody 🙂  Sometimes something’s just gotta give.

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