Monday, April 26, 2010

Visiting the vet

Bitty loves animals in general and our cat in particular, so when he saw me getting Orion ready to take to the vet, he started putting his shoes on. I can take a hint, lol. So along he came.

Orion hates riding in the car. I tried to reassure him, and thought it was cute the way Bitty imitated me, trying to comfort the cat with "iss ok, kitty, you be ok!" and "We going to da animoo dot-ter!" (ok, that part was probably less than comforting if Orion remembered the 'animal doctor,' lol).

Bitty did a great job staying in the little exam room while we waited for the vet. He enjoyed petting Orion with me, and checking out the "books" (little pamphlets about various pet medications and such).

The vet was really nice, she let him listen to Orion's heart :).

The vet kept talking with Bitty while she was doing Orion's exam, and I love that she wasn't dissuaded when he didn't always respond. I thought about telling her he had autism to help explain, but then decided not to and instead just gently prompted him when needed... I guess part of me was worried she might stop trying to engage him if I said something. Probably an unfounded worry, but there wasn't a lot of time to ponder about it.

When we finished up, her assistant brought Bitty a little feather as a gift to take home, which was sweet. Bitty wasn't too sure about the feather though, so he shook his head and said, "you don' wan' da fedder?"

I softly reminded him to say "No, thank you" so he did. I felt bad that he had turned down the gift, but the man was very gracious about it.

I'm glad he came with me, it was fun for both of us and I think actually helpful for Orion to have him there :).

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

SOOC Saturday: Nature walk


This is one of those photos where Bitty was moving too fast for me to get the right focus and the composition I was going for, but I LOVE it anyway :).

We took a walk with my parents while we were visiting, and it wasn't long before Bitty was picking dandelions. He was so fascinated with them and ended up with a handful by the time we got home.

For more SOOC Saturday, visit Slurping Life.

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Childhood Expressions Blog Carnival

Barbara at TherExtras is hosting a blog carnival today, with the theme "Childhood Expressions." There are lots of great posts included, go check it out!

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

"My Brother Charlie"


When we returned home from spring break, I had an email inviting me to read a complimentary copy of Holly Robinson Peete's new book "My Brother Charlie", co-written with her daughter Ryan Peete. I am excited for the opportunity to review it here!

The books tells about Charlie, a boy with autism, from the perspective of his twin sister, Callie.

Before I even had a chance to read it, Little Bitty was drawn to the cute illustration on the cover and started flipping through it himself.

We sat down and read it together. I'm not sure if he totally understood it all, but he read some of the words with me. His favorite part is the heart puzzle :). The puzzle is featured twice in the story, but Bitty especially likes the last page, where Callie is helping Charlie finish it.

As for me, I found the book very uplifting. The love that went into writing it shines through. It explains autism in simple, easy-to-understand terms:
"...Mommy discovered that Charlie's brain works in a special way, because Charlie has autism. It's harder for Charlie to make friends. Or show his feelings. Or stay safe."

It's a sweet story that is honest about the challenges, while highlighting the blessings and focusing on Charlie as an individual. Most of all, it is a story about love, acceptance, and appreciating the unique gifts that all of us have. I had to smile at the part about Charlie knowing all the U.S. presidents. Remember this? :)

This book is a great way to introduce children (and adults!) to autism and help foster understanding and acceptance.

"If you ever get to meet my brother, you'll feel lucky to be his friend. He won't care if you have the coolest sneakers, or if you are the best at sports. He'll just like you for who you really are. That's Charlie."

More information / resources:

Click here for an interview with Holly Robinson Peete
where she shares her family's story, perspective on autism, and what inspired them to write "My Brother Charlie."

Visit HollyRod4Kids, a not-for-profit that the Peetes started to help children with autism and their families.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

SEW & WW: First bike ride


Last month we put some training wheels on Bearhug's old bike so that Little Bitty could start learning to ride. He is, after all, about the same age that his brothers were when we got their first bikes.

He was sooo excited!

Dh started off walking with him (even though he had the training wheels on).

Once it seemed that Bitty was getting the hang of it, dh let go.

Of course, after pedaling just a few feet, Bitty decided to try making a turn...

...which would've been no big deal, except that he turned at the high point of the hill in the yard.

Dh and I both went running to catch him before he crash-landed at the bottom... dh made it there first so I snapped a picture (hehe).

As you can see by the big grin, Bitty wasn't scared at all. He thought it was great fun and wanted to ride down the hill again! Uh... no, Bitty. Stick to the sidewalks, little dude!

For more Special Exposure Wednesday, visit 5 Minutes for Special Needs. Click here or here for more Wordless Wednesday.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

"Piggybank" ride

Bitty pronounces it "piggy-beenk" :).

He's almost getting too big for this, but Cuddlebug didn't seem to mind.

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Learning to play Wii

Bearhug helped Little Bitty get set up with the Wii remote.

Bitty was sooo excited to actually get to hold the remotes and play instead of watch :).

He's still learning how to play, but he had a great time!

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Magic Marker Monday: Bitty's kitty

Bitty has started to draw pictures! He mostly likes to draw cats. Just like his Mama at that age, hehe :). He's drawn a few trains too (of course), I'll post some of those later too.

He started out just drawing a face with whiskers, so we've been working on adding the ears and the body, which you can see in this one. I love it!

For more Magic Marker Monday, visit 5 Minutes for Special Needs.

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

"The world needs all kinds of minds"

This is a little long but it's a great video - speech given by Temple Grandin.
H/T Queen Bee of 3

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SOOC: The great escape!


We finally had a chance to get away from everything, at least for a little while, over spring break. I admit I was a little nervous about taking a trip after everything that's been going on, but we really felt that getting away would be good for all of us. I'm so glad we did!

We took a road trip to visit both sets of grandparents. The boys all did extremely well on the trip, especially considering the amount of time we had to spend in the car.

Lots more pics to come, of course :).

For more SOOC Saturday, visit Slurping Life.

p.s. also wanted to say thank you for all the kind comments and words of encouragement with regard to Bearhug's recent challenges. It's nice to know we are not alone... thank you.

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Update part 3: new insights, maybe

After all the trauma of the blood test, the EEG went surprisingly well. Of course, it helped that there were no needles involved, and Bearhug was actually kind of intrigued at the idea of taking a "recording" of his brain.

He was supposed to be sleep-deprived for the test so he'd sleep for part of it. I stayed up with him to keep him company and make sure he didn't fall asleep early. We made the most of it - he couldn't have any sugar so we had pretzels and played the wii (well, mostly he played and I watched, lol) :).

Dh went in with him for the test. He did reasonably well, although he resisted going to sleep even after being so tired. Figures.

And then we waited.

About a week or so later, the results were in. Blood test - normal. EEG - normal. Nice to know, but we were pretty much back to square one.

In the meantime, I had scheduled our initial appointment with a psychologist. He wanted to meet with us first before meeting with Bearhug, so I went (dh had a conflict). I described what's been going on, and gave him a copy of reports from the school psychologist (they do a full evaluation every three years which just happened to be this year) and his resource teacher. Upon reading their reports and listening to mine, he asked a few more questions and then told me it sounded very much like Bearhug has bipolar disorder.

I wasn't expecting that, but as he explained the signs it did seem to fit. He said it also sounds like Bearhug has ADHD and that it can be difficult to distinguish between ADHD and bipolar in children, but that the rages we see with Bearhug are common to bipolar but typically are not seen in children with ADHD.

It's not an official diagnosis as he hasn't actually met Bearhug yet, but it does give us something to explore through further evaluations as a possible explanation for what Bearhug is going through. If that is the case, he will likely need medication.

As you can imagine, I have tried to find as much information as I can since then about bipolar disorder in children, particular in children who also have autism and sensory integration disorder. I haven't really gone into all the detail yet of some of the other "episodes" Bearhug has had, but some of the descriptions I'm reading from parents of bipolar children sound familiar.

I guess we'll know more when we meet with the psychiatrist again, and when the psychologist actually meets with Bearhug in person.

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Update part 2: the no-good, rotten, awful day

Here's the Cliff's Notes version:

Bearhug's blood test did. NOT. go. well. It took four of us to hold him down and they had to stick him three times as his veins were not cooperating. If we ever have to do another blood test we'll skip the lab and take him to the hospital to be sedated.

Instead of calming down once it was over, Bearhug went into one of the worst rages I have ever seen (at least there was no question this time about what triggered it). One of the nurses ended up calling the police. I think the hope was that seeing the police officer would be enough to startle him into settling down (didn't work out that way, unfortunately). He was that out of control and trying to attack everyone he could reach. Thankfully, by the time the officer arrived, he had calmed down enough to sit in a chair by himself (without me having to hold him back from attacking the nurses), but he was not calm enough yet to actually leave (kept screaming intermittently and wouldn't get up). Eventually he did calm down enough to get in the car and go, but all in all we were there for about 2 hrs for a 15 minute test.

That evening, Bearhug was fine. You'd never know anything had happened.

What a day :(. It was scary to feel so out of control of the situation and not be able to help him calm down. We were in a catch-22 situation where I knew he needed some space and time to get himself back under control but there really was nowhere to safely do that at the lab :(. I know it was traumatic for him. I certainly hope we don't have any more incidents involving the police. It gave me a new appreciation for the work of Dennis Debbaudt in training law enforcement to respond appropriately when dealing with individuals on the spectrum, because I can see how a situation like that could have quickly gotten out of hand (what if he was a teenager or adult by himself, in an out-of-control rage without mom, dad, or nurses around to explain the circumstances?).

More to come, including some possible answers, in the next post.

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Update on Bearhug (part 1)

So, last month we had Bearhug's appointment with a psychiatrist. We drove almost an hour away to see one who specializes in seeing children on the spectrum. I've kind of debated with myself how much to share here, but how many hours have I spent scouring the internet hoping to find a similar story to ours, in search of some answers? I don't have any answers to offer yet, but here goes...

We felt a little awkward going to the appointment, since we scheduled it back in November in the midst of some very difficult times for Bearhug. Since then, he'd been doing better, minus one big blowout in mid-January. But since it took so long to get in, we wanted to keep the appointment, figuring that if he started to have a rough time again it would hopefully be easier to get in for a follow-up without having to wait another three months.

I'm soo glad that we did.

The appointment went well. She talked to Bearhug for a while before inviting him to play with the toys in her office while she spoke with us. She started out with basic questions, and I had to laugh when he answered a question about his siblings with this:

"'Cuddlebug' says he was born ten minutes earlier, but I'm stronger!" lol (Cuddlebug was actually born two minutes earlier, not ten, but who's counting?).

After a few minutes of chit-chat, he asked her, "are we going to talk about why I'm here?" We had talked to him beforehand about what kind of doctor she is and why we were taking him to see her. I think he is as much hoping for some answers and help with these problems as we are.

I was really impressed with his ability to articulate the experiences from his perspective. He described how he feels so angry that he just "goes nuts" and "runs to get away" or "attacks people."

At one point she asked him if he's ever thought about killing himself. He said yes, and my heart broke for him. He is only 8 years old. She asked if he's ever tried to do anything about those thoughts, and he said yes again. I admit I was stunned to hear that, I wanted to cry but I needed to stay calm so that he would continue to answer her questions honestly and not feel that he'd said anything wrong. She asked what he had done, and he told her he hit himself in the head and banged his head against the wall. I've seen him do that, but had no idea that he had that intent behind it (at least some of the time apparently).

She recommended scheduling to meet with a psychologist closer to home on a more regular basis for talking / play therapy.

She ordered some blood work to see if there are any biological issues (blood sugar, vitamin deficiencies, whatever) that might need to be addressed (and I think also to get a baseline of his blood levels in the event that we may need to look at trying medication). She also suggested taking him to a neurologist to rule out seizures or other neurological issues.

We saw the neurologist about a week later. He suggested that these are "rage attacks" but ordered an EEG in case there is also some seizure activity. Bearhug has mentioned that he can feel these "episodes" coming on just before they happen, so they asked what that feels like. He said he feels a pain in his arm, that moves to his shoulder, and then it starts. We are trying to work with him on letting someone (us or a teacher if he's at school) know if he feels like that so we can try to help him calm down or at least get somewhere where it's safe to blow off steam if needed before things get out of control. Not that we've been particularly successful with that yet, but we ARE working on it...

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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter egg hunt



Happy Easter!


Hope all of you have a blessed Easter day!

I miss everyone and have been reading here and there but haven't had much opportunity to leave comments.

As for us, I have much catching up to do.  Spring break has arrived and I'm blogging from my phone so updates will have to wait but I may try to post some pics from my phone if I can figure it out.


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I'm a mom of three boys on the autism spectrum, 11-yr-old identical twins and a 7-yr-old. My husband is a SAHD.


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