Thursday, July 7, 2016
Today I am pretty much just going to give you a few pictures to give you a glimpse into what makes Atticus special. :) Atticus did not do pretend play hardly at all until his sister taught him when he was around 5. He then discovered at around 6 blocks/connects/shapes that he could use to build things, and started do more independent play which was awesome. In fact, it would be hard to stop him when he was in the middle of it. I also have a picture of him with pants half up for school and trying to finish a creation. :) His map is hung by his bed, with a world map also on his wall. He loves to be quizzed about them, and yes he has mastered the stack the states app. :) He also has checked out books from the library about space, the human body, animals and different elements. He knows more random facts then most adults I think! The pictures with the kids eating at subway represents our biggest struggle. Atticus can not stand chewing. (Or coughing) especially from Ariel, but also in general. If he is tired and hungry, and can cause intense burst of anger. Most kids like him need to eat protein every two hours to avoid these kinds of meltdowns. This has been key for us, and call it "magic" how much he can change after eating. Thanks everyone for reading these! I hope they can bring awareness, there are many different children out there who seem like they are just like everyone else but have hidden struggles that can make things much more stressful for them and their parents. You know, the whole "don't judge a book by its cover." :)
This post is about Atticus’s school years (so far!) Like most moms, the idea of finding the right school for my son was very stressful. My child has almost no fine motor skills and can not sit, things that don’t work well in a traditional classroom especially if the teacher is over stressed or not flexible. But God is always working! We attend a public charter school here in Dallas that is amazing. Each of Atticus’s 3 teachers have loved him and accepted him as who he is. And he really loves them! They have challenged him, but not pushed him to frustration (which is a skill!) They are more patient then I am most of the time! In kinder his teacher had a special seat for him to sit on in carpet time to help him focus. She would have her aid next to him if she knew a fire drill was going to go off to help him with the loud noise. All this and more with NO IEP (individual education plan, a document that gives children rights and things that the teachers have to do for that child to help them learn the best they can). In first grade when I met with his teacher I brought up getting an iep for his handwriting, which I knew was still almost impossible to read. She agreed and quickly mentioned she had been documenting his work. That got the ball started. A few months later at the end of 1st grade he was officially diagnosed as ADHD by his pediatrician. By the next fall he was officially diagnosed as ASD level 2. Now I should mentioned… I did not want him labeled hyperactive at first. I knew it was true, and anyone around him did, but I didn’t want that to be all they saw when they looked at him. But at a good school, a label is NOT a restriction but freedom! Now my child had it written down on paper that he would get extra time to finish stuff, a schedule on his desk to organize him, and eye contact to ensure that he understood what was being said. They also take him out most days for a 10 minute activity break! He also has speech for communication skills, OT for building up muscles for fine motor skills, and he can take brain breaks in the classroom. And his chair is a bean bag chair, which helps him build core and avoid the wiggles. We did try ADHD meds for a few months, but as with many Autistic children they caused more mental stress then help at the end of the day. And his school was completely supportive of us not doing meds. A wonderful supportive school has been one of the biggest blessings God has given us on this journey!
First off, I was blown away by the love and support show to my first post! These are thoughts that have be bouncing around in my head for a while and I do hope they can help someone going through this or just help others understand what it is like to be autistic or have an autistic child! :) Atticus was born in May 2008. He was a big healthy boy! With the blue eyes and blond curls mom always dreamed about. And right from the start, he needed help processing sensory information. He needed to be swaddled and rocked and in movement all the time. Many children need this, and not all of those are on the autism spectrum, but for us we know that he has always needed help dealing with sensory overload. He was a hard but sweet baby, and a crazy toddler. He could run until his legs gave out on him and then get up and do it again! We now know that verbal instructions are hard for him, and in those early years it was very hard to get him to follow all the verbal instructions you give a small child. If I had only know then what I know now! But God gave us a wonderful family and good friends to encourage and love on Atticus. Atticus has always been loved! We didn’t know he was autistic, but we did know he could not do what a lot of kids could do. Going anywhere new, especially if it was loud would only end up in meltdowns. He could not stay still. But he was bright, he loved being with people. He has been able to simple math in his head since he was three. But he could have meltdowns that could be heard far away, and it was extremely hard to calm him down. And hard for us to understand why he would not obey no matter what technique we tried. But most of those techniques apply to kids who do not think like autistic children, and therefor are ineffective. We didn’t know this but struggled with feeling like we were not good parents, or being judge by other parents. He looked big as a toddler, but acted much younger then he really was. Here are some photos of those crazy years. :) (And gosh were those curls cute!! :D )
I am going to put some posts from facebook on here, so they can be shared and hopefully encourage others. It is also a way for me to find them easily. :) April is autism awareness month. And since it is the last week in April I thought I would post some about what Autism means to our family. Atticus was diagnosed with High Function Autism, or ASD Autism Spectrum Disorder last fall. They no longer call it Asperger’s, but that would be another name too. This was an emotional time for our family, but a good time. It was not like he had just come down with a scary disease that we were finding out about. No, this diagnoses was all about getting answers. Now we knew why Atticus did some of the things he did. Why he felt like such a hard child. His brain was programmed different then the average person. We could now read books about what other people have gone through. We could learn about him! We could help him! BUT we could never really change who he is. It was hard for me when it sunk it that this would be something he would struggle through all his life, not a phase he would grow out of some day. But It was the best thing to happen for our family, although I would not have thought that even a year before. I will post more about our journey in the following days. But for now, here is a picture of our sweet, wonderful and never boring Atticus. :D