Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Could it be Autism?

One of my friends was surprised to discover that HB has only be diagnosed for a little over a year.  Her daughter is autistic and high functioning but she knew that her daughter was autistic from birth.  She said her daughter didn't look at her which is one of the typical autistic indicators.  But people still didn't take her seriously when she told them that her daughter was autistic because of the high functioning thing.

It's very common for girls to get diagnosed later and boys spotted earlier because girls as a whole (non-autistic and autistic alike) tend to be more social than boys.

One of the parents dropping her son off at the bus stop indicated that her son is also autistic.  He also has cerebral palsy and some anxiety issues which I think he takes medication for.  She also knew early on that he had problems (18 months for his diagnosis).  He's in the 4th grade but he's going 1st grade level work.  It's frustrating for her because technically he's integrated into a classroom but she'd rather him be placed in a special class.  He spends most of his time away from the class as it is.  Unfortunately the school district won't do that.  Not unless he lags further behind.  Thus his social skills aren't being worked on either because cognitively he interacts better with younger children.  She's already switched schools once.

As she was explaining her frustrations, my son's best friend (SL) her grandmother perked up.  She says she suspects that SL is also autistic and wants her evaluated.  So the other parent told her to contact the pediatrician to voice her concerns. 

I've interacted briefly with SL.  She doesn't give me the autistic vibe that I get from other students.  She seems to hold her conversations well and interacts with children and adults.  It's possible there's some other things I've missed.  And it's possible that she has ADD which share similar symptoms.

So how do you spot the difference?

1) Autistics don't have a wide range of emotions- They are either very happy, very sad, or very angry and violent.  You don't get much in between.  It's almost like a knee jerk reaction. 

2) Autistic children don't feel comfortable playing with peers- They tend to gravitate to adults or babies.  They also prefer to parallel play, which is to play next to a peer but no interact directly.

3) They may play with toys differently-And by this I mean taking them apart instead of building buildings, lining them up, or fiddling with them.  There's a lack of imaginative play or a delay in it.  Handing them a random toy like a cup with saucer might give them a puzzled look rather than instantly piping up and asking if you want to play tea.

4) To some extent there's an issue with sensory stuff- Of course there are non-autistic children who hate getting dirty or being wet or do better with visual cues.  This is one piece you look at along with others.  Do they refuse to eat certain textures or flavors?  Do they refuse to touch certain things like finger paints?  Do they hate loud noises?  Do they respond better when you show them something as opposed to simply telling them?  Do they like being wrapped up in heavy blankets?

5) Don't seem to be paying attention?  They interrupt when you are talking.  They talk about their own interests rather than interacting with you (obsessions).  They don't look at you when speaking.  They have stilted or robotic speech.  HB doesn't have stilted speech.  Occasionally he stutters.  Mostly he interrupts and doesn't stick to the subject.

People with ADD may be confused about what you are talking about or look away because they can't focus for very long.  They can follow a conversation in short intervals a lot better and can pick up on non-verbal cues like knowing when you are angry or upset.  They don't have an issue with pretend or how to play with toys. They have a variety of emotions and don't explode.  I think that's the biggest thing between HB and Knee.  Knee gets angry and it's slower and he'll go off into his room when he's mad at me.  HB acts like a bomb suddenly went off.  He screams and throws stuff and pushes you or punches you.  There's hardly any fair warning.

And at the age of 5/6 it's real common for the cues of ADD and ADHD to show up, which can look like autism but aren't.  It's also true of the opposite.  You may suspect ADD or ADHD and hold off on talking to a doctor (like happened when HB was two) only to discover it's more than that.  It's not cut and dry which is why it's important for you to seek out a specialist sooner rather than later.

Monday, May 23, 2016

In Which I Start a Diet

Let me say for the record that I do not like fad diets.  They tend to cause you to be strict with yourself and then people tend to binge adding back on the pounds after the diet is over.  Or worse it causes the person on the diet to develop an eating disorder.  Think Karen Carpenter

Diets come and go.  There's been Adkins, Paleo, South Beach, Mediterranean, Whole 30, and so forth.  I'm not looking for a diet so much as a life style change to the way I eat.  You see my problem is that I have an underactive thyroid which 1)makes it easy to gain weight and 2)slows your metabolism thus causing you trouble loosing weight.

I've been working out diligently three days a week for an hour each since January.  No weight has fallen off.  No change in dress size.  All this has managed to do is halt the easy weight gain.  It hasn't reversed anything.

But never fear I read a lot and I've looked into what things I've been eating that could cause issues for my thyroid.  People don't agree, but there's some consensus.

1) You should avoid soy full stop.  A lot of these protein bars and protein shakes use soy.  Asian cooking involves soy.  And even more insidious there's a number of food items that contain soy like margarine and salad dressing.  You really have to read the labels.  There's been numerous studies linking children who were fed soy formula (as opposed to dairy) developing hypothyroidism.  It's really terrible to have too much soy.

2) You should watch your iodine intake.  Iodine is a necessary component in producing the hormones that your thyroid makes.  Too much and you can develop hypothyroidism.  Too little and again you can develop hypothyroidism.  Confusing yes?  Usually in the west we get too much iodine in our diet and in less developed countries it's too little.  So watch how much salt you consume and avoid seaweed.  Yes, I basically said to avoid Chinese and Japanese cooking.  Sorry.  I'm sure that you can find something like a soup that you can eat, but no sushi.

3) You need selenium.  In addition to iodine, your thyroid needs selenium.  You can find it in eggs and Brazil nuts.  My suggestion?  Start liking eggs.   

4) Your diet should have a lot of protein and roughly only 20 percent of carbohydrates- Your body won't burn fat stores unless it has burned carbohydrates first.  So you want a heavy protein diet if your metabolism is sluggish like when you have hypothyroidism.  The diet I'm on says for the 6 weeks the only carbs I can eat are from fruit.  No grains and no potatoes.  Then after that you eat a limited amount of grains (like two slices of whole grain bread a day) and only complex grains to make your body work harder at processing them.  To compensate, it also adds healthy fats like olive oil and avocados and fiber comes from vegetables.  My protein diet is made up of lean meats, legumes, and dairy.  And yes, I'm going through the "low carb flu" and no it's not fun. 

5) Drink lots of water- This is something we should all be doing but don't. 

6) Watch the sugar content- Sugar is added to everything.  I checked my bacon labels (which is controversial as some say it's fine to eat fattier proteins and others say it's not) and it has sugar in it (or high in salt or added nitrates).  It's the same for lunch meat.  There's sugar in salad dressings which is why I make my own.  I even had to buy an expensive natural peanut butter to avoid the sugar in peanut butter.  There's sugar in milk so you want to watch how much your intake is.  Not to say that you should avoid sugar.  There's natural sugars in fruit.  But you should avoid added sugars.  The diet suggests that you can use stevia in small amounts as a sweetner so I guess that's what I'll start using when I make my birthday cake (and any other treats).

7) Avoid the over processed- In 6 weeks I'll be allowed oatmeal.  But I can't eat those with added fruit in it.  Basically it's the bulk bin for me. 

And this is how it will be for the rest of my life.  Exercise and carb restrictions.  Sucks, but this is par for the course.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Open Letter to the Angry Church Types

So after Mass, I received a note from some single young woman which read:

This is the most disruptive Mass I have ever been to because of your kids.  There is a cry room for a reason if you can't control your kids.  It's disrespectful to others around you trying to spiritually enjoy Mass.  The couple behind me left because of the disrespect they felt.  Please be courteous to others around you.  And respect god's House of worship.

Talk about a massive case of rash judgement here.  I initially tore up the note because it was so out of touch that I didn't feel the need to address.  But after mulling it over, I felt something needed to be said on behalf of all parents with children- young and/or disabled.  And clearly there are some misunderstanding about the purpose of Mass and how children are to be a part of it.  So let's dig in.

Dear Disgruntled Parishioner,

1) This is the family Mass.  There is one Mass on Saturday and Four English speaking Masses on Sunday with one additional Spanish speaking Sunday Mass.

2) When religious ed ended this year, the religious education director specifically said they were moving religious education in order to encourage more families to come to this particular Mass.  Currently it's the Summer, and many parents don't bring their children to Mass.  During the Fall it will be filled with families and small children.  There are going to be disruptions.

3)  Our Parish cry room says that it is specifically for children to calm down and only for children ages 4 and under.  It also says that they encourage parents to take their children into the main sanctuary in order that they may learn about the Mass, which is what I was doing.  They were completely under my control.  But I'm realistic, they will ask questions, talk loudly, and be wiggly.  This is why we sit at the corner of the sanctuary towards the back.

4) Mass is not for "spiritual enjoyment" it's to worship Christ.  Children should be a part of that as much as possible.  This is why the note on the cry room and the letter from the religious education director.

5) I'm not sure if they left specifically because they personally felt affronted, but they are welcome to move a quieter section if they so choose.

6) I am courteous to those around me.  Again this is why I sit in the back and side and also attend the Family Mass.

7) We do in fact respect God's house.  This is why I don't allow my children to run around and to dress nicely.  I also teach them to focus on the consecration and to bow their heads.  It may be annoying to hear me answer their questions about Jesus, but this is part of teaching children about the faith.  They are young.  They don't always remember later what questions they have.

8) While I've removed my children many times, I actually get into a lot of trouble with priests for doing that.  I've had one specifically call me back into sanctuary during a homily.  I've had one said to stop worrying about what others think that I, like all parents, are simply doing the best that I can.  I'm going to take their advice. 

9) You may not realize this but most parents are trying to balance respecting others with bringing children up in the faith.  It is sad that many people do not take their children to Mass because of fear of what others will say over normal child behaviors (or in the case of disabled children assumptions).  Jesus wants all the little children to come to him.  He didn't say they had to be perfect in order to do that or banished to the cry room (which cry rooms often encourage worse Mass behaviors/habits).

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.  May God Bless you!

Mom in the Pews

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Gender Dysphoria and Bathrooms

On Saturdays I take my 6 year old to the local Y for swim lessons.  Afterwards, we go inside to the Family Locker Rooms to change.  Essentially there are 6 single bathrooms that include a toilet, sink, a shower, and sitting area to change.  My son is autistic.  He's perfectly fine to go to the bathroom on his own, but he lacks modesty.  I've seen him come out the restroom with his shorts and underwear around his knees as he wiggles them back on.  My husband and I constantly work with him about not pulling down his pants before he goes into the bathroom too.  He's getting better.

Needless to say, when it comes to changing himself out of a wet swim suit, drying himself off, and getting himself dressed, he needs help.  He's too old to go into the ladies locker room and the gym requests that children use the Family Locker Room anyway.

That's why I don't understand why some transgendered persons or those suffering from gender dysphoria or the government is insisting that they use the bathroom of their choice.  My son and I don't get to use the bathroom of our choice.  He's disabled and we still don't get to use the bathroom of our choice.

And you know what? That's fine with me.  It's understandable that a 6 year old can't go into the ladies locker room.  I respect those women's privacy.  I'm not going to force them to use the Family Locker Room with it's single sex bathrooms or change uncomfortably in front of a 6 year old male just to accommodate me and my son.  It's stupid.  It's like a wheel chair bound person insisting on squeezing themselves into a narrow bathroom stall when there's a larger wheel chair accessible stall two doors down.  There's a place where my son and I can go that accommodates us.  We're good.

It's the same for those with gender dysphoria.  I don't really care what bathroom you use.  But there are other people who are going to feel uncomfortable and would prefer you use the bathroom where you are accommodated.

I also don't think it's good that school districts are being pigeon holed into accommodations either.  On the one hand there are teenagers who are painfully shy about changing in front of anyone as it is.  I as an adult still change inside the shower, dry off, and put on at least my undergarments inside the shower.  I feel weirdly uncomfortable seeing half dressed women in the locker room even though we are biologically all female.  I was that way as a teen.  Many of my friends were.  In college, we'd change in the bathroom or politely face the wall.

Then on the other side is the gender dysphoria suffering teen.  While I understand they may not want to use the bathroom of their biological sex, they can easily use a single sex bathroom.  It's not good to indulge the mental disorder that they are a different sex.  This is akin to allowing an anorexic person to go on a diet.  You want to encourage good eating habits but you don't want them to count calories.  Accommodations but not indulgences.  A one-size-fits all doesn't work in special cases such as these.  Schools should make accommodations like they do with people who have other mental or physical disabilities.  

Today is Saturday and swim lessons.  You might see my son and I entering the Family Locker Room.  We won't be whining about it or making demands for more accommodations.  We're fine.  We understand.  I just don't understand why it isn't that way for others.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Car Seats and Autism

Knee a few hours after birth in his first car seat.
 When we went to HB's pediatric behavioral exam, they took his measurements.  He's 46" (3'10") and 40 lbs.  Basically he's on the maximum limit of his Britax Roundabout...in terms of height.  I knew last year that he was getting close so I went ahead and bought him an Evenflo Maestro.  I bought it because while the Roundabout 55 allows you to go up to 55 lbs (while in harness mode it's 50 lbs in the Maestro), the Maestro gives you the height.  And weight wasn't the issue.  I liked that I could harness it now and later use it as a booster.  While he was 5 (now 6), I still didn't trust him not to unbuckle himself.  I also was concerned about his weight being a factor.  How was a booster seat going to protect this tiny slip of a boy?

He still could use the Roundabout in his dad's car for occasional use so we installed it there.  Except now he can't and only Knee can use it.  This means for quick trips, we'd have to use the gas guzzler.  I don't mind the gaz guzzler if everyone is going or if it's a long way or we need the space, but for a quick pop in and out that HB wants to tag along....yeah.

HB in his second car seat. Does this look like the face of an autistic child?  Yeah, I wouldn't think so either.

My concern about him unbuckling himself is the biggest problem.  Autistic people move around a lot.  And add to that ADHD, and you understand why I wanted the harness.  When we went to my in-laws over Christmas, we used their booster seat in booster mode and he seemed fine.  It was a high back.

Hubby however doesn't see the need to shell out a lot of money for a car seat that HB would only use on occasion.  I don't blame him but I still didn't want to drag out the gas guzzler.  So a compromise was struck.  If I could find a booster seat that didn't cost a fortune, we could buy it for occasional use in dad's car.  We could also work with HB about behaving himself in a booster seat or a seat belt because he can't stay harnessed forever.  HB turns 7 in January.  In AZ the law is that you have to be in a safety restraint system until the age of 8 and 4'9".  He still has a long way to go until then, but it's better to start now then expecting his behavior to improve overnight.  We can now tell him that you can't use a booster seat for a while if he misbehaves, but that won't be the case as he gets older.

I found a seat and went ahead and ordered it.

Both kids in their car seats, rear facing, in what is now dad's car.

Meanwhile Knee's a little offended by not getting his own new seat.  So far he's only had 1 and HB is getting his 3rd.  I told him that HB's old seat is about to expire anyway (Britax says it's 7 years but it's usually recommended to replace any car seat after 6 years) so for his birthday/Christmas I'll probably get him a Maestro too.  He wants it in blue.  So just like his brother upgraded around the age of 5 so will Knee.  I'll probably take his current seat (which still has a couple of years and he hasn't outgrown) and move it into dad's car and put the new seat in the gas guzzler.  Don't worry.  I have no plans to put him in booster mode.  Most car seat experts suggest not moving into booster mode until at least age 5.5 or 6 for maturity reasons.  And the seat I'm purchasing for HB doesn't allow you to use it until the child has reached at least 4. 

So tell me, what are the car seat laws like in your state?  Have you run into problems with booster seat usage? 

Knee's 2nd and current car seat.  He is forward facing now.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Subsidarity, The Poor, and the Pro-Life Movement

I've been reading a number of blog posts on patheos basically of people separating themselves from the Pro-life movement even though they are pro-life themselves.  The basic reading of it is thus: The Pro-life movement supports Republicans. The pro-life movement doesn't support women and their babies. The pro-life movement isn't encompassing.

Well...frankly they are wrong.  I've actually written a blog post (although I can't seem to find it) pointing out that pro-lifers do not agree about everything politically wise but since we're talking about a single issue, being pro-life, then in that single issue we agree.  If you are looking for someone who shares all of your issues, then you need to join a political party not a single-issue movement.

But okay, you (addressing those who share this opinion) don't agree with what some pro-lifers, particularly the very vocal ones, believe about other issues.  Maybe that makes you uncomfortable about joining pro-life groups.  I get it.  I find some of the strangest people who I think are going off the deep-end in conspiracies even in my own Bible group.  This is life.  I don't always have to agree with my friends and people in organizations in order to participate.  If it bothered me that much, then I'd join another group.  I wouldn't leave the Pro-life movement altogether. 

Let's get down to the nitty gritty though.

Why does the pro-life movement support Republicans?  Because the Democratic platform specifies that they support abortion.  I'm sure at some point Democrats didn't have that as part of their parties platform.  I know that there were pro-life Democrats.  But when it's part of your party now, it makes sense that pro-life groups do not support Democrats and instead support the only other major party in the United States.  It makes sense they would support the other party that hasn't made abortion-support a part of its platform.  For the record, I'm not a Republican either, but I understand why some pro-life organizations endorse Republican candidates. 

As I've said repeatedly, the pro-life movement DOES support women and babies.  We just don't agree about what the government's role in that should be.  Many pro-lifers believe that the government is over-reaching in it's welfare programs.  Maybe not to the point of being like the Amish, but somewhere in there.  Rather they prefer to encourage subsidiarity.  This is why I like the St. Vincent de Paul society.  It's international, but the idea is that you work on your local level to help the poor and vulnerable families.  You don't slough it off on large organizations like the government.  To say that because you disagree about government intervention makes you less pro-life is ridiculous.  I take it as a slap in the face.  And yes, I frequently donate to SVdP society.  And yes, I support crisis pregnancies centers and health care centers. 

As for the pro-life movement not encompassing a complete pro-life ethic (against euthanasia, war, etc) sure that happens.  Again you're trying to take a single-issue focus and blow it up.  If you want that, I encourage you to seek it out.  As stands, the Church covers all those issues with a vast number of different organizations.  You can be a part of all of them or none of them.  But please check your pride.  You are seriously projecting if not teetering on the sin of rash judgement to assume that members of the pro-life movement don't share your views.  You are also wrong in thinking that they aren't pro-life enough.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A Birthday, An Appointment, and Later a Music Lesson

So today was the day of HB's behavioral appointment.  The big one that we had been waiting nearly a year for and thought would have to wait a year and a half for.  That one.

Good news!  She's on our side and thinks he needs an IEP despite the school district hemming and hawing about it.  She also thinks he needs an Occupational Therapy assessment because his hand writing well it's terrible.  In my former days I used to assist in the kinder classroom.  And his is the worst handwriting I've seen for someone who is going into 1st grade.  He can do passable work if he puts his mind to it, but usually it's barely legible.

She also is hoping that he will be accepted into a program where a therapist will come to our house and help with the boys interaction.  This is because their interactions are this way: 1)parallel play 2)Knee initiating any interactive play which often times results in either parallel play after a bit or 3) lots of physical fitting.  I hate trying to get them to interact because of number 3.

She also says he needs speech therapy not because he doesn't talk and can't be understood, but because his conversational speech is terrible.  It goes something along these lines usually:Me- How was your day?  HB: Mario is so awesome mom.  He can grab the mushroom and change colors.  Me- That's great, sweety, but how was your day at school?  Did you have a great time?  HB: Yes. And I love when Mario shoots fire balls.  And guess what?  *Classmate's name redacted* has fairy dust and he sprinkles it on his house and his house moves.  It really does.  Me- That's good what did you learn today? HB: *Cuts me off* and he can make his house invisible and move it and it was under the school playground earlier today.

At that point I give up because clearly he's not able to have a conversation so I just listen in until he's done and ready to actually answer a couple of questions.  I'm also having a hard time figuring out if he knows the difference between fantasy and reality.

The frustrating thing is that because he's high functioning as she put it means that getting him services is difficult.  His problems aren't bad enough for them to do anything about it unless I basically pitch a fit.  What they basically are operating under is they won't do anything until it is a major problem.  He needs help with conversation flow now and not waiting until he's 10 years old and basically can't pay attention in school anymore.  And this is my frustration.

She's also concerned that he may have ADHD.  At this point she is just going to wait and see because as she said he can sit and down and do work.  It's only slight and not significant at this point.  But if it starts to affect him academically he may need some sort of treatment for that too.

Now I just have to wait for them to figure out what my insurance will cover for care and hopefully have a meeting with the district.

And today is Hubby's birthday.

So I'm also going to have to bake a cake and make a fancy-ish dinner for Hubby.  Then I have to run off to a music lesson (I'm teaching in case you are wondering).  The bathrooms need to be cleaned and the kitchen floor swept and mopped, but I haven't a clue when that's going to happen.  I could do it now but then I won't be able to function later today because of exhaustion.  In my old age, I have to pace myself.

How's your "Hump" Day going?