Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Happiness is.....

The lovely Jen from The King & I has tagged me on her blog for a Happiness Award which I get if I tell you all ten things that make me happy everyday. Before you laugh, its harder than you think! I seem to have spent so much time moaning lately its great to have the chance to reflect on the things that make me happy...

1. The Elder Lemon... My firstborn and only son. He gets up every morning without me having to call him and gets ready for school. When I appear in the kitchen, he always greets me with a smile and a hug.

2. Yani... My middle child and eldest daughter. She has a smile that can light up a room and everyday I look at her and am astonished how I managed to end up with such a stunning daughter. Not only is she gorgeous, but she is also smart (even if she doesn't believe that, I know she can do anything if she applies herself).

3. Munchkin... the baby in the family but the one who we all revolve around. She has the most amazing smile and eyes you can drown in!

4. Knowing I'm doing everything possible for my kids to reach their full potential and seeing them strive to get where they want to be. Imagining The Elder Lemon walking through the arch at Trinity in September with his future lying ahead of him. There was a time I thought I'd have failed him and he might not get there so imagining this scene makes me smile.

5. Listening to Munchkins little voice, regardless of the time of day or night. I don't think I could ever tire of hearing her talk. Her laugh is infectious and sense of humour developing daily and this is one of the things that makes me happiest.

6. My Facebook family. Without whom I'd no doubt be in a padded cell by now! You all make me laugh every day and keep me sane :) You "get" me!

7. My home. Well it is my castle...

8. The smell of freshly cut grass (especially when its mine and I know it doesn't need doing again for another week lol).

9. Tea! I could give Jeanie from Planet Outreach-ASD a run for her crown with the amount of cups I drink every day :) It has to be sipped (well guzzled!) from my favourite mug which is a hideous floral pattern but it just tastes nicer from a bone china mug!

10. Last but not least, hugs and kisses I don't have to ask for. There was a time where Munchkin had to be bribed and coerced to give a non committal hug and kisses were out of the question as she was unable to purse her lips and has oral sensory problems. I get an unsolicited kiss every morning from her and then she'll rest her hand on my face for a while. I love that moment and it makes my heart swell and almost burst every time she does it!

There, I did it! I now have to tag some others to follow suit and even though I'd like to tag everyone, will keep it to a few.

Hammie @ Hammiesblog
Jazzy @ Jazzygal
Claire @ AJ - My Superhero
Andra @ The Perfect Storm
Patsyperdu @ The Odd Adventures of Dr. Destructo
Mandie @ The Fabulous Mr Luca
Lisa @ Autimom & The Butterfly

Friday, March 19, 2010

If you're happy and you know it flap your hands :)

We are finally on the mend in the house after a few weeks of coughs and colds which turned into bronchiolitis which meant antibiotics and the new challenge of Munchkin accepting a Ventolin paediatric mask. We got through it and this week, once she wasn't at risk of coughing up a lung she went back to school.

She was so delighted to be back at her school that the only words that could describe her was she was "happy flappy" as she was like a little bird waiting to take off with excitement. She's always flapped but not so much when she's concentrating on a task. I've noticed her doing it a lot more lately, usually the left hand flapping from the wrist when she's happy or excited about something, and both if she's REALLY happy. Its a little like the movie Happy Feet but with Munchkin its happy hands!

We had plenty of the double handed flapping at a recent visit to the cinema. I had prepared well and purchased the tickets a day in advance to reduce queueing but decided on the day to see how obliging our local Cineplex would be on producing the IAA card. There wasn't very many people there so I approached a manager behind the counter and politely asked would it be possible for Munchkin and I to sit at the back in the posh seats so that Munchkin wouldn't annoy the people sitting around us during the movie by kicking the seats, jumping up and down etc... I was told I could sit there but would have to pay the €20 per seat charge. It was at this point I flashed her IAA card FBI style at her and said that's a shame, the cinemas in DUBLIN acknowledge this card... I don't think she'd ever seen one before but before we knew it, we had been escorted to the VIP area personally by an usher! I have to say it was such a wonderful experience because of this. Munchkin was able to jump up and down, stretch, lie down and even watched part of the movie upside down as decided to lie on the seat with her legs on the back and her head hanging off the edge. But we made it through the entire movie and she ate her body weight in popcorn! She hasn't talked about going to the cinema but I know it must have been eventful for her as over two weeks later in the back of the car she starts singing "Let's all go to the lobby.. let's all go to the lobby" (funny how the advertising spiel before the movie can make such a lasting impression!)

Friday, March 5, 2010

What happened my Picket Fence??

Oh dear God... the grass is growing... Why does this not make me happy? Spring is finally here and the days are getting longer, the weather is improving and the daffodils in the garden are starting to bud. But the grass.... why does it have to grow?? I love the smell of freshly cut grass but I'm just so tired already, and now I know that soon enough I'm going to have to add it to my list of "things that need doing"

You see, I'm a single mum with a couple of ex husbands behind me, so I have to do everything. I can deal with all the autism related stuff, I can run a home program, organise tutors, work, pay the bills, make the appointments and cope with all of that without cracking up. Its just how it is now. All decisions are down to me and in some ways that's actually better, as I don't have to run everything by another person and butt heads on whats best for the kids. My exes know that I only have the kids best interests at heart and will always put their needs before my own.

Lately though, I'm finding myself resentful that my life didn't turn out quite as I expected it. I think we all have this image in our heads when we were younger of what our "grown up" lives would be like. I rushed headlong into marriage to get started on this portrait but it wasn't to be. OK, put yourself back together, you have two kids now that need you so just pull it together and provide for them. We muddled along quite nicely and became the Three Musketeers. I was hesitant to change the dynamics of our family unit but then found myself in another relationship and we plodded along nicely for the best part of 5 years, but that wasn't to be either and we amicably went our separate ways, but not until I had uprooted my family and moved us to the countryside (and the half acre of grass that just keeps growing!!).

Loneliness set in and there is nothing worse than being lonely while surrounded by people.It was then I met my second husband. It was a whirlwind romance and I got caught up in the momentum and we quickly married despite there being indications that all was not quite right. The person I thought I married didn't turn out to be the person I ended up with. But I was pregnant on Munchkin at this time so we tried to make things work. Despite 5 months of counselling, our communication difficulties were too difficult to overcome and we separated.

So that was it... back to the Three Musketeers but now we were Four. I can't regret any of my life as it gave me three wonderful (even if they are challenging!) kids. I can't help feel that someone snuck in and stole my picket fence though. I really wish that I didn't have to make all the decisions, that it would have been nice to have someone to talk things through with, to make plans with and share the worries with. Someone who would have been my partner and companion as we got old together and laughed at how the grand kids were karma for the way our kids were as teenagers. But that's not possible now. I chose my path in life and I just have to accept it which I do for the most part. Its just when the grass starts growing it reminds me that its just another thing to do... I'll put it on the list after I put the bins out...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

It's all starting to make sense now...

February was a tough month for our house. I received the new OT report for Munchkin which showed up areas that she had problems in that I hadn't realised. There were deficits in her gross motor functions that I as her mother, should have noticed already, but hadn't. Then we had the assessments in Solas...

Almost a year ago, Yani was diagnosed with ADD and Clinical Depression and the HSE put her on Prozac. Nothing improved over time and her symptoms of the "traits" of OCD and ODD were getting worse. Every visit with the clinical psychologist there were queries over Aspergers. I didn't buy it but decided that it needed to be ruled out or it would keep popping up like an unwanted guest, demanding that some attention be paid as it wasn't going away. So I took her to Solas to get answers once and for all.

There we met the lovely Marissa who did a full OT assessment on Yani. I must say, it didn't come as a huge surprise to me to find that she actually had very similar results to Munchkin. Gross motor skills were poor, balance and coordination, pen skills and attention. She had problems with auditory and visual processing. I was told that she met the criteria for SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder). After Marissa explained how this effected Yani, it all made sense. The crying, tantrums, temper, and emotional outbursts over simple things that others don't notice suddenly became clear.

What did surprise me was that they didn't believe that she was depressed, rather that her body energy levels were very low and that her "motor" ran on a very sedentary level. Its not that she's lazy, or tired or not bothered, rather that her body works on a different level to others. It really did make a lot of sense and we were relieved to find there were answers at least to some of our questions.

In the psychology assessment, at first I felt once again that I was "looking" for problems until I spelled out that we were there to rule aspergers out, not in. During the assessment process, as Yani answered the psychologists questions, I realised why the HSE psychs kept mentioning aspergers. Certainly there are things that could raise a flag or two, but on the whole I seriously and honestly didn't think we would get a diagnosis. They ran a cognitive test and did the Vineland Assessment. Unfortunately, her school had not returned their assessment forms in time for our appointment, so we couldn't get feedback at the end, however the psychologist did say that she couldn't rule it out at this time. I was told though, that regardless of the outcome of the assessment, my eldest daughter required a host of therapies including emotional regulation therapy, anger management, mind reading skills etc. I guess I'd better start looking for a second job to pay for those as know that the HSE won't be providing them to her! I'm very angry with myself that I let them just stick my little girl on meds and I as her mother didn't persue her problems sooner.

So we wait as the school was closed for half term and when I chased them up when the school opened afterwards, they hadn't done them, despite having had the paperwork for a week before the break. So we sit in a kind of Limbo til we put the pieces into the final jigsaw to get the full picture...

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