Sunday, August 9, 2009

Full House of Alphabet Kids...

Alphabet 05Image by Leo Reynolds via Flickr

Following a lot of discussions with fellow mothers of children with various disabilities, I noted that a lot of parents who already have one child with a diagnosis are often accused of "looking for problems" in their siblings... It is astonishing how many are told that they "want" something to be wrong, or that they are "disappointed" if everything turns out to be alright after worrying about their development. With autism, what most people don't realise is that after one of your kiddies has been diagnosed, your Autie-radar is switched on permanently. We read up on everything we can find to equip ourselves to deal with the diagnosis, and keep informed of current therapies. The life of an autie or aspie mom is a busy one of constant appointments, research and reading in order to help our child as much as possible. If your child had broken its leg, you would do exercises and physical therapy to help heal once the cast is off so that the muscle doesn't waste and your child can be up and running around again. Is what we do any different? No, only we are exercising our childs brain and training ourselves to be the most important therapist your child will ever have. With all this information going in, it's natural we will start to look at any behaviours in another sibling differently... What we may have written off as the terrible twos/tumultuous threes/fearsome fours etc. in our first baby, when we see behaviours in another child, we look at them in more detail to see if there is anything underlying there so we can intervene and help that child too. Does this mean we "want" something wrong with our child?? Hell no!

I had the opposite happen after Munchkin got diagnosed. As I said in a previous post here when my son got diagnosed with ADD it was a bolt out of the blue and something I could never have imagined. Had I been more aware of disability when he was younger, I would have noticed the signs as they were there but I just didn't see them! The tapping, the wandering off, his constant loss of attention, getting distracted in shopping centres by something that has caught his attention and just going to have a look without informing anyone... these are just a few of the things I never noticed at the time. It never occurred to me that there could be a reason for it.

When my teenage daughter came to me and asked to see the doctor, I put it off as long as I could as didn't want people thinking I was "looking" for problems... As her mood swings got worse and her intolerance for certain sounds drove her to eat in different rooms as she couldn't bear the sound of people chewing (even with mouth firmly closed) I knew the time was coming that I'd have to deal with her problems too. She was making lists of characters in TV reality shows she was watching, and HAD to control the television. No one was allowed to use the remote but her and if anyone tried to.... well the outburst was not pleasant. More than one remote got shattered against the sitting room walls... I started to wonder if this was more than attention seeking (my original denial to myself as didn't want to believe that all three of my beautiful children had problems) and looked in more detail. She was depressed beyond belief and when she came to me and said she'd thought of ways to kill herself that sprang me out of my denial and I made the appointment to see the GP the next day. Once again, it was another €55 to be made felt that I was looking for problems (see original post here) My poor Yani walked out of the surgery after being told to "snap out of it" and to "look for something positive when someone annoys you"... BUT, I did get my letter for the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Services to have her assessed which is what I went there for. I hadn't expected anything remotely like empathy or understanding from the doctor so wasn't disappointed when it wasn't forthcoming (she did up my dosage of antidepressants though as obviously thought I needed that!)

I organised counselling for my little girl and rang the CAPS myself. Once again, they were wonderful and we weren't waiting too long to be seen. Yani was subsequently diagnosed with ADD, clinical depression and traits of OCD and she was put on Prozac... I now had a full house of Alphabet Kids...

People often when they find out about all three having a diagnosis will tell me they're sorry.... I don't feel sorry for myself or my kids, we are who we are and are working towards making life a little less stressful for ourselves through intervention, communication and understanding. Our house is never dull, and we certainly could never be compared to the Brady Bunch. We are close and even though there may be a lot of fighting at times, the teenagers are good kids. A day doesn't pass without hugs and kisses from them :) I love you kids xx
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7 comments:

Hammie said...

I was delighted to see Yani helping out with the Harley badges last week. Not many teenagers would do that full stop, let alone to help their mum so you must be doing very well mammy!

To tell my own "double" story, I had no inkling! actually telling people that it was lucky that we had had Bratty so soon after Boo, and that she was a girl because girls don't get AUTISM! (the idea being if we'd waited until Boo was diagnosed I would have stopped there and then.

We put all her behaviours down to "copy cat" and not having a typical sibling to interact with. When in reality from the day she was born, (well before she was born because she was breech and refused all hippie homeopathy attempts to turn her) she was uncomfortable in her own skin and desperately clingy. All the signs were there, need for deep pressure, inability to settle for more than a few hours, refusal to wean, refusal to eat properly...
But it took my awful mother to sit in front of me in the middle of a crisis and tell me "she's cock-eyed and she wont look at any of us and she won't give up the booz"
Which in english means "she has a slight turney eye, she only looks at her mother, and she won't wean"

Shocking way to hear it but I just had to get on with it.

As we all do. xx

Anonymous said...

Having never met your Yani, I can only go upon photos (she's stunning) and mentionings from you, she seems like a spectacular young woman, who is so damn lucky to have a spectacular in tune mum like you.
On a personal level, having been steam rollered by Munchie's diagnosis (aspergers syndrome - eh whats that? we said at the time) I too, like you, overdosed on all possible information. Having already had Boo (who was 6 months when Munchie was diagnosed) and was an unbelievably placid baby in comparison to Munchie the "ants in the pants".. we took comfort in the fact that they were NOTHING like each other.
When the time came that we realised... I was already pg on Snooky, and we thought "Ah crap".
We now have a spectacular family of Aspergers, ADHD, Autism and PDD-NOS, with a wide range of different sensory issues and social problems. Ive often been asked "why did you keep having babies when there was SOMETHING WRONG". The simple truth is, that, quite selfishly we wanted a big family and as we are already on the autism wagon... My boys are quite mild and so far all attend mainstream school - not without its difficulties but reasonably successful.
Ive been told numerous times that Im looking for signs.. to which I correct them and explain that every day I look for signs to be proven wrong. I havent been wrong yet - unfortunately.
Great blog again chicken - well done xx
Hennie

Joeys mum said...

Great blog as always xxxxxxxxxxxxx

paula said...

I too have a house of alphabet kids and even the G.p says "things are better than you think" i'm not going to argue with her after all she is the doc, but i live with the difficulties. I can totally identify with your denial, I spent years trying to find out what it was with my middle boy but it was really only after the visit to the prof with the youngest and his diagnosis of autism that I accepted that my bright middle childs seemingly educational difficulties were more than that, and he got his diagnosis of aspergers. You are so right the radar is up now and i am looking for problems, but with a view to improving things for my kids not so that they can be pitied. its us misunderstood autie/aspie mums who need the pity!we have a lot to do in raising awareness and understanding xx

Jean said...

great post petunia! I often feel like the sherlock holmes of autism...i seek it here, i seek it there, i seek it everywhere!
of course, it IS everywhere. Now that i know what it is, i can see traits in my older two kids and a fair few in myself.
it's still shocking that other people sometimes accuse us of wanting something to be wrong...maybe they hope if they ignore the problem long enough it'll go away.
you're a feckin' great mammy Petunia!! your kids are clearly as gorgeous on the inside as they are on the outside...thanks to you
XXX

jazzygal said...

Oh yes Petunia. All you say is so so true. Your Munchkin is very lucky you were so alert. In fact ALL our kids are so lucky that we're on the alert!

All our alertness means we are indeed on the lookout with regards to our other children...if we have any more. I'd also stretch that further though. I only have one child but my "autie-radar" is also on constantly and I see it in other children. In Snuggles' classmates... in the panto kids I work with...on "the road" etc. In fact, I think it's interesting that when others point out how there can't be much wrong with my guy when their little " Johnny" behaves similarly in the yard...or when the psychologist says "lots of kids" behave like that... and I do indeed see what they mean. I've been watching it for 5 years. And the interesting thing is that I've finally come to the conclusion that that my child is NOT more like them.... THEY are more like my child.
One by one flags are being raised about these other children and they are being assessed!

So, not only should the Professionals listen to us mammys ....we should listen more to ourselves! Follow our instincts.

You are a wonderful mum...to your wonderful kids! xx Jazzy

Petunia said...

Once again thanks for the comments girls! Glad to hear I'm not the only one with the radar not only pointed at my own children... Since Munchkin got diagnosed even Yanis radar is switched on! While we were selling the pins at Hamleys recently, she was telling me she could see what kids she thought may be on the spectrum from watching them.

Hennie, I have met your gorgeous boys and don't ever let anyone ask why you kept having kids... You are a great mum and an inspiration to me. Munchie is the smiliest kid I have ever met and I love talking to him! xxx

Onward and upwards as the saying goes hey Hammie? :D xx

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