I Must Have Jinxed It

Everyone knows that when things are going well, you jinx it by actually stating how well things are going, right? Remember when I posted about how hopeful I was for 8th grade?

Now I’m nervous.

Went to back to school night last week and found out the teacher I left work to meet with the previous week, who would kind of replace his ASD teacher who was leaving the school would in fact NOT be teaching him anything.  He also didn’t have art on his schedule, and no one knew who his homeroom teacher would be.

You think kids with autism have a hard time with change, we autism moms have a hard time, too.

Yuck.

Monday, The Boy started the school year, and for the first time since he started school in kindergarten, I felt like I didn’t have a teacher to contact who would know what was going on with him.  No one who really had a good idea of the whole package – his IEP requirements, what classes he should have, triggers, calming techniques, how his overall day went… everything.  He seems to have a couple of teachers who have a partial picture, and that doesn’t sit well with me.

When he came home, I asked him if he had art, which was supposed to have been added back to his schedule.  He said no. And now I’m asking myself, “Is the second day of school too soon to go into That Mom mode?”

There’s so much going on right now, I’ll probably just wait and see before I panic. I sure hope I’m wrong.

He’s Like a Hemorrhoid that Just Won’t Go Away

The nightmare continues.

The mobile home park owner has retained an attorney to write me a nasty letter saying the ADA didn’t apply to him or his road (which it does), and that I probably lied about contacting an attorney (and tried to catch me in the “lie” by cc’ing her on the letter), and that my son’s use of the park is a nuisance, which will be remedied by legal action if it doesn’t stop.  Of course, they still insist he is running in front of cars and lying down in the road.  Funny thing is the Chief Deputy Sheriff observed him walking in the park last week, observed him getting off the road when a truck passed by, and went and told the owner face to face that The Boy has every right to walk in that park…

Law enforcement didn’t bow down to him and do what he wanted (in fact, did quite the opposite), so he figures he can buy the last word by retaining an attorney.

But the law isn’t on his side. Now we just have to figure out how far we want to take this…

I have a headache.

Oh, and Happy First Day of School!

Hope for Eighth Grade

Last week, after my visit to the Sheriff’s Department, I had a meeting with The Boy’s former ASD teacher and the Special Ed teacher he will have this year in 8th grade.

Yes, they have virtually dismantled the high functioning autism pilot program in The Boy’s school, the main reason we have him up at 6am, taking an hour and a half bus ride to the school across the county.  As of his IEP this spring, we were having to make some adjustments, as his ASD teacher would not be there full time, but we found out a couple of weeks ago that she has now been transferred to another school entirely.

So much change for this kiddo…

We agreed, his former ASD teacher and I, that having a meeting with the Special Ed teacher for 8th grade who will sort of serve as his “home base” like she had for the past two years would be a good idea.  The 8th grade Special Ed teacher has actually had The Boy briefly, covering for another Special Ed teacher who was out on maternity leave, and we had a nice, long chat about The Boy, his obsessions, routines, what works, what doesn’t work, etc.  I found out who he would have for his two general ed core classes, and both of those teachers will be better to work with than last years’ teachers, so that is a welcome change.  We also discussed the new principal and assistant principal, and how both would be easier to work with than their predecessors, as well.

Afterwards, I spoke with The Boy about 8th Grade and what he could expect, who would be familiar faces, and who would be new, but nice people.  Even though so much has changed for him, he is looking forward to 8th Grade. I think he’s been looking forward to it for so long, it would take something earth-shattering to make him any less excited.

It seems the district is making some wise choices in terms of placement and hiring, so that even though the pilot program will no longer exist, the competence and kindness of the teachers and administrators in place should help The Boy progress towards his goals as if nothing has changed.  Time will tell, but as of right now, I am extremely hopeful.

The Bigot Just Doesn’t Know When to Quit

If you have followed this saga, you can probably gather from the title of this post that the poor excuse for a human being has upped the ante.

Last week, he called the sheriff’s department with a complaint, purportedly out of concern for The Boy’s safety.

Applies to AllThe Lieutenant knocked on my parent’s door, asking them about The Boy and his activities while he stays with them.  Grammy gave him the whole background. She said he was polite enough, and after he left, she called me to let me know he may call me.  He never called. Not knowing if this visit was legit or not, The Man and I decided to head to the sheriff’s department the next day to request a report from the previous night.  If no report existed, it was not a legit visit, and we were up against a good ol’ boy network.  If it did, we could see who made the complaint, and go from there.

Sure enough, there was a report. And sure enough, the poor excuse for a human being was the one who complained, stating that The Boy “runs around the park constantly” and “refuses to get out of the way of cars,” both utter lies. After reading the report, we requested an appointment with the Sheriff himself, and acquaintance of The Man. He was unavailable, but we were able to see the Chief Deputy, second in command, right away.

I had come prepared (what special needs mom wouldn’t), and had copies of both the letter he had given my mom, and the one I had sent in response (“Well-written letter!” the Chief Deputy commented). I gave him the whole story, he jotted notes as we went along, but I didn’t have to get very far to notice I had won him over.  Just about to the point when the pathetic excuse for a human being told The Man to that we needed to keep our retarded kid inside… yeah, that was about the point he chose sides, and got a steely look in his eyes. He reiterated several times that The Boy has a right to walk wherever he wants. And even if he was constantly running around the park, he has a right to do that, too. He said the next step would be to get a restraining order against the pathetic excuse for a human being, and that sometimes that ended things, but other times that just escalated the situation. He recommended speaking to our lawyer to see what she recommended. We discussed setting up a chance for The Boy to meet a deputy in uniform o that he would feel comfortable, to which he was extremely accommodating (“Anytime you want to set something up like that, just give me ac all and we will make it happen,”), and we inquired about the training his deputies have in autism, to which he said they were all trained in CIT (Critical Intervention Training) which encompassed dealing with those on the autism spectrum, as well as other disorders that might prevent someone from responding to them in an expected fashion.

We walked away heartened and relieved. We are moving forward with a plan for The Boy to meet with a deputy at the mobile home park. I also plan to get in touch with an attorney, even if it sets us back a little.

 

Apparently, this guy doesn’t often have people stand up to him and his bigotry. Unfortunately for him, he has chosen my boy to bully. We’re going to drag this pathetic excuse for a human being into the 21st century, kicking and screaming if we have to.

An Open Letter to Kids’ Cable Channels (I’m Looking at You, Nick)

Recently, you changed the schedule. Spongebob had been coming on all summer at 7am.  And then all of a sudden, it wasn’t.

Can I just ask one thing?

Why is it that you give adults all kinds of warnings when you are going to move an adult show to a new night or time, but you give absolutely no warning to the kids?

TVMaybe your test-markets are saying to try something new.  Maybe you think kids actually want to watch some cheesy disney-esque sitcom at seven in the morning.

All I ask is that you give us a heads up.

When you don’t, we spend a week dreading mornings.  The Boy refuses to go to camp or school, or quickly packs up his stuff and takes it out to the truck, insisting that he and The Man leave an hour early because Nick changed the schedule, and Spongebob isn’t even on anymore.  Ever.

(And could I even hope to try to find it on On Demand? Nope.  Then after a week, it suddenly appeared on On Demand, but 2 of the 5 episodes were in Spanish… So helpful, Time Warner Cable.)

Miraculously, Spongebob came on again at 7am after about two weeks. And then… just as fast, it wasn’t anymore.

All I know is that if NBC did this with Grimm on Fridays in season, or if AMC had done this with Mad Men, they would have a riot at their doorsteps.  Why is it fair to do it to kids?  Especially kiddos on the spectrum who depend on their schedules to help them make sense of this world.  When you change things on them, when they can’t count on Spongebob to be on at 7am like always, this world can be a scary place.

All those child psychologists on your payroll, and not a single one of them could figure this out? You’ll have a much more lasting impact on your audience if you actually treat them like real people.

Moving, Removing, and Limbo

We put our house on the market in June.  Two days later we had an offer.  We negotiated and agreed upon a price.

Since that time, we have been going through the process – appraisals, inspections, etc.  All of the details that have to happen, be approved, and then to the next step.  This past week, we were supposed to close on Friday.

Monday we got a call that there was an issue with the paperwork, which could nullify the deal. Tuesday, we got another call that the issue had been cleared up, and we were all set to go with the closing on Friday.  Wednesday afternoon, we got another call with another issue, which could delay the closing, but were told to plan as if the closing was still going to happen.

I don’t know about where you live, but apparently here, the buyers take possession of the house immediately after closing.  This means if there is a closing, your house better be packed up and empty.

As a result, we packed up our entire house Wednesday evening so that The Man could move it all to the place we were supposedly renting on Thursday to be ready for the closing Friday.

Thursday, we were in limbo, but emptied the house.

Friday, we were notified that the closing would be postponed 2-4 weeks.

How do people do this? All of the professionals kept saying, “This happens all the time,” and the response in my head was, “Why? How?” I think my stomach was in perpetual knots the entire week.  I couldn’t concentrate at work.  The Boy was completely confused, staying at Grammy’s several days and nights so that he at least had some consistency in his life.  As it is, he is still confused, as am I.

limbo roomWe decided to move everything back to our house, and forgo any rental until the papers are signed, and the money has cleared.  It’s just too much to bear.  In my opinion, attorneys handling the closing should get their paperwork in order way before the week of the closing, so that if there are any issues, people are not having to rent another moving truck to re-move back into their own homes, hopefully they haven’t yet signed a lease on a rental, and they are able to cancel cable installations after they’ve already happened.  It’s insanity.

Apparently, everything is still going to happen, but we have some steps to follow to clear up an issue.  So keep us in your thoughts. The real estate rollercoaster is always aggravating, but this has been beyond the pale, especially with a young man with autism in the house struggling to understand what’s going on.

My Aunt

About a week ago, my aunt was killed in a car accident on her way to our family reunion.

She was my dad’s only sister, and my only aunt not by marriage.  She was my godmother, and mother to 10 children, including three sets of twins, and a son with Down’s Syndrome.  She was a teacher, and when she retired, she continued to teach GED classes at the local prison.  She came from a long line of strong, active, intelligent, family-oriented women.  I’ve written before about her and these strong women here and here.

We were so looking forward to seeing her, and listening to her and my great-aunt share memories.  It was a hard weekend, but it was amazing to be able to share our grief with extended family members.  We won’t be able to make it to her memorial service, but she has been on our minds and in our hearts all week.

Even though she was 87, she was taken from us too soon.  She was an inspiration, even though she’d probably roll her eyes at that.  She was another one who, when asked, “How do you do it?” would have simply replied, “I just do.”

I love you, and I’ll miss you, my dear Aunt Mickey.

It Could Have Been Really Bad

This morning, the cat escaped as The Man and The Boy left to go to Grammy’s.

He’s escaped before, but usually sticks close to the back deck, or just circles the house, allowing us to follow him.  Today, however, there was a rabbit involved, and the hunter in Raffi burst loose.  When the man went to retrieve him from the back ditch (between our lot and an overgrown field behind our house), Raffi actually hissed at him and bared his teeth.

Rather than risking a hand to the monster, The Man decided to drop The Boy off, and return to see if he could get him back inside.  But when he returned, Raffi was nowhere in sight.

He called me at work, and all the possible outcomes ran through my head, and remained in the back of my mind all day.  When I ran home after work to change, I looked all over the property, making smoochy noises, purring, and chirping as I went.  Nothing.

I started to think he was gone for good.

And I started to wonder what I was going to say to The Boy when he asked if Raffi had come back.

I prepared him as best I could, explaining that he may come back tonight, or sometime in the next few days, but that if he didn’t come back in about a week, he may be gone for good.  He processed this, and seemed ok, but when we got home and Raffi was still not around, he began a negative cycle, which was not going to end well.  How do you tell a kid to be patient when he is worried he’ll never see his cat again?

After about an hour of the pacing, the self-talk that started to get louder, including phrases like, “He’s NOT coming back,” I heard The Man’s truck pull in.

And then I heard a small kerfuffle, and The Man saying, “Open the door!” to The Boy, who was outside pacing the deck.

And Raffi was back.

Tired Boy

Raffi was visibly tired after carousing the neighborhood, or ditches, or the neighboring golf course… who knows where he went (we are contemplating a go pro for his head in case he pulls this stunt again, because we are that curious).  The rest of us were incredibly relieved, and impressed he could find his way home. And The Boy was happy not to have been abandoned after all.

Take the Time

numbers-time-watch-whiteThe other day, I answered a phone line that I don’t typically answer because my co-worker got called away from her desk a few moments before.

The woman on the other end began to ask about the size of the boats we use and ended by explaining, “My son loves the water, you see, but he’s terrified of boats.  He’s on the autism spectrum.”

For a split second, I had a choice.  I could identify myself as someone who could sympathize on a very real level, or I could answer her question simply, and get off the phone quickly to answer another call.

“I totally understand,” I said.  “My son is on the spectrum, too.”

Come to find out, she had recently moved to the area with her family, and was looking to connect with other families, specifically with the aim of working to expand services for our kiddos in our area, because they really are dismal.  We chatted for a good ten or twelve minutes, and exchanged phone numbers.

Since then, we’ve friended each other on Facebook and connected again via text. I hope to meet her and her family soon, and introduce them to some of my friends and their families so she can start making some connections in the area.

I know that sometimes we get tired of carrying this mantel of “autism mom,” and sometimes we just don’t want to see another news article about a possible cause.  But I’m glad I made the choice to identify my true self.  Two years ago, I was where she is now, freshly moved to a new state and trying to find a new community of support and advocacy.  If we don’t take the time for each other, who else will?

The Ex and Summer Plans

The ex has never abided by our agreement which states that he is supposed to give me his intended plans for summer visitation by May 1.  It has never happened in the seven years we have been divorced. This has never surprised me because he has always been a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants guy, but it is problematic.

This year, we hadn’t heard much from him since April. A week or so ago, he texted me to inform me that his dad had been diagnosed with stage 5 Alzheimer’s, and as a result, he wanted The Boy for the last week in July so that he might be able to see him before it’s too late.

While I feel absolutely awful for my ex-father-in-law, as he is and was rather a sweet guy, our plans for the summer have already been made, and a huge part of that summer includes camp for The Boy.  He has always looked forward to summer camp and ESY as a highlight of his year, and when I asked him if he would prefer to go to Dad’s and miss camp, he said he thought his dad needed to make some other arrangements.  Out of the mouths of babes.

I informed the ex that the last week in July was out, but we would be happy to discuss times when The Boy was not in camp or in school, which left a few weeks in July and exactly one week in August.

He obviously couldn’t get his act together in time to make anything happen in July, but expressed interest in the one week in August, the last week before school.  If you know any child on the spectrum, you know that transitions like going back to school are a huge, huge deal, and just contemplating The Boy making a long trip in that week was making my head hurt.  But I knew in my heart of hearts that probably nothing would come if it anyway – sad, I know.

Sure enough, the ex wanted to bring him back on the first day of school, and I explained that that would not work at all.  He responded by suggesting The Boy fly by himself within an airline assistance program…

Uh… yeah, right.

How friendly are these skies, anyway?

How friendly are these skies, anyway?

In the past when he has suggested this, I have flat out said no.

This time, I didn’t.  I called his bluff.  He wants to pay for a plane ticket, pay extra for special assistance that in all probabliity isn’t even available, all when he is many hundreds of dollars behind on child support? I told him our limitations in terms of airlines that fly into this general area, and suggested he do some research to see if they were even available.  He said he would, and he was excited to have The Boy that week and be able to go camping with him.

Sigh.