Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Doctor's appointments ... HERE WE COME!

Well, the insurance situation is fixed (after MANY MANY phone calls ... just to change our address) and the boys will be going for their "well child" check ups on Monday. Why is this worthy of a post, you may ask. Well, it's all I've been able to hear about since I told them of the appointment. They have been doctors and checked each other and ALL of their stuffed animals. Now they are planning what kind of presents they want to take to Dr. Ervin. I'm not quite sure why we are bringing him presents, but I'll do it if it means they will continue being excited about going to the dr! Oh and now we can start the process of scheduling appointments for Jason to have his tonsils taken out -- at least that's what Dr. Ervin said last time we brought Jason in. We'll see on Monday. All I know is ... those tonsils are definitely not any smaller than they were a few months ago! Yuck! Poor guy! Well, I hope everyone has a GREAT day! We love you all!!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

New Attitude Update

So, here are my thoughts after reviewing my thoughts on medicating myself:

1) Try taking yourself OFF of the meds you thought you needed. (Just eliminating my allergy med has calmed me significantly.)
2) Just try to accept yourself as you are ... after all, no one is perfect.
3) Accept that, when you are with some people you more stressed. With others you are more relaxed.
4) Let go of any ideas that you might have on what people expect of you. You're never gonna be able to be perfect for everyone! What matters is that you are the best YOU you can be.


Wow! It is working. I may not be calm 100% of the time, but who is?! I love my life, my kids, my hubby, and all of my family and friends! Thank you everyone for your love and support.

Oh, and I will not be getting meds. I WILL be changing my diet and trying natural methods before I think any further on the subject.

Friday, August 7, 2009

School has started!

Well, school has started here and, once again, Jason is concerned that he is missing out on all of the learning (in his own words). Here is our conversation from last year:

Jason: "Mom, I don't want to go to school."
Me: "You don't have to. Remember, we decided to do homeschool." (Just FYI - We don't homeschool, we unschool, but this is just too much for a kid to explain to an adult when the adult asks him why he isn't at school.)
Jason: "But how will I learn anything?"
Me: "You learn lots of things when you are at home. What did you learn in school last year?"
Jason: (after LOTS of thinking) "I dunno. I learned ... umm... to wait in line." (Once again, this is so true! As an kindergartener, Jason was far advanced in all areas of academics, but his teachers and the school district insisted that he needed to do the same work as his typical classmates. As you can probably imagine, this left him with LOTS of down-time.)
Me: "So do you want to keep learning how to wait in line or is there something else you want to learn?"
Jason: "HA! Mom, I already knew how to wait in line before kindergarten. I just didn't like it, so I didn't do it!"
Me: "I don't like waiting either. Do you think we need to practice waiting in line more?"
Jason: "We already practice waiting in line at the grocery store and stuff. I don't need to go to school for that!"

Boy, I love my son! (Well, both of them!) Jason is the only one who seems to feel like all learning must be done in a classroom. It makes me so sad that he had successfully been brainwashed by the school system in such a short amount of time, but I do think it's interesting that he will quickly admit that he didn't learn anything in kindergarten (his last year in school). He laughs quickly when I ask him about what he learned, because he already knew how to read at a second grade level, do addition and subtraction, some fractions, and some multiplication before he went to kindergarten. He also knew all of his directions (N,S,E,W), how to read a map, all of the continents and most of the oceans. So son ... learning only happens in a classroom, huh?!

I challenge anyone who doesn't know about unschooling and/or anyone who thinks that school is great to really, honestly think about what you actually LEARNED in school. Really think about it! And teachers, don't be offended ... remember, I used to be one of you too!

Ok, so this year's conversation:

Jason: "Mom, can we go play with Chase today."
Mom: "Not today. Chase went back to school today."
Jason: "Oh. Um... what are we gonna learn today?" (By the way, this question only occurs when Jason is suddenly made aware of the fact that others are in school and he's not. It's not a regular occurance.)
Mom: "Well, what do you want to do today?"
Jason: "I want to write a story."
Mom: "Ok! That sounds cool. Let me get the pen and paper."

Here is the story that Jason dictated to me:

Jason's plan for destroying ***** School.

First, I will get my friends out of school. They will come with me and my brother. Then you will drive us to the Nashville Zoo. We will liberate ("um, that means set free, right?") the animals. I will create a diversion, and the animals will be set free. The zookeepers will never send the animals back to the zoo forever. The animals will run to Hendersonville and stomp on the school. Then there will be nothing but a big pile of dust.

So, there you have it. What Jason wanted to do on the "first day of school" this year. He is so happy that he says his head will explode!

What does Jeffrey think of the school year starting? He couldn't care less. He happily built with Legos for the longest time today and made up a balloon game in which you had to count by twos (we made it to 326), then we had to count by threes from the first score of 326. Jeffrey did a better job at figuring it out and correctly adding than I did. Oh, and don't forget badminton tournament, basketball shoot-out, making many imaginary meals for mommy, and lots of other stuff. Right now, he and Jason have set up an animal hospital in the living room for all of their stuffed animals. They are the vets and are practicing giving shots, wrapping bandages, singing lullabyes, and generally discussing what needs to be done for each. (Isn't this amazing! Autistic kids aren't supposed to be able to play interactively with anyone ... let alone each other! I am so blessed!)

I absolutely LOVE being able to watch my children learn. I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to be their helper in learning!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I got a new attitude!

Well, here goes nothing ... I am, as of this very moment, throwing away my old negative attitude and grabbing hold of a new, wonderful attitude. I am posting this on my blog so that those of you who know and love me will help to hold me accountable. Please do! I know that my old self will sometimes try to sneak back into my life, but I am making the first steps to ridding myself of it. Oh ... and I believe medication will soon follow! Yippee! (I am not one for taking something just because, but I KNOW that I need medication-al help for this now and have for a LONG time.) Love to all and sorry that I haven't posted in months!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Long time ... No post

It has been a long time since I have posted. I'm sorry for that, but we have been quite busy with birthday parties every weekend for a month, playing outside ALL day (when it's been warm), and generally living. I am trying to get a new company off the ground while remaining a dedicated unschooling mom. This is more challenging than you may think, but I am determined! I want to stay at home with the boys and Terry needs to have a way to make money without ruining his body any more -- so that means we need a way for him to stop having to install windows. So, working-from-home-mommy and two-job-daddy it is! At least there is a light at the end of this tunnel! And it's an exciting light! Both Terry & I are excited about the prospect of working together. It's great that I married my best friend! We are hoping that this company will meet each person's needs (boys included). We know it will be through hard work and some stressful times, but we believe it CAN be done! And, for those of you who remember my crazy decision to finally finish college, you know that if I set my mind to it ... it WILL be done! Exciting!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Who's to say HOW you're supposed to play the guitar? Jeffrey played the guitar this way for almost an hour! He was amazed by all of the different sounds he could make! Gosh I wish I could remember how to really play! He would love that!

School Is Hell Blog

I really encourage everyone reading this blog to check out! I would cut and paste the interesting and poignant parts, but when I tried, I found that it would be really long and overwhelming. Hey! I write blogs that are too long myself. So, believe it or not, I actually will simply encourage you to read it and think -- rather than copying his thoughts on my blog and "forcing" you to read it (or skip over the post, whatever). Well, good night!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. " - Ralph Waldo Emerson

This quote was shared on Peaceful Partnerships yahoo group today and I was struck by how true this is for me and my perceptions of my life and the world! I wanted to share this for anyone else who may benefit from this wisdom!

Thanks for the Pixos, grandpa & grandma! They are still so much fun! The boys have made such wonderful creations with them! The like to follow the patterns AND make their own 3-D creations!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Our Journey to this Point

Do you ever stop and think back on your life and wonder ... "How did I get to this point?" What you are really asking yourself is "What events, people, actions led me to this place in my life journey?"

I have been reflecting on just this recently and found that before I reached any conclusions, I was more amazed that I finally have the time and energy to reflect on anything at all. It wasn't that long ago that I couldn't even manage to reflect on how I survived a single day, let alone how I could improve on my parenting, marriage, or even self. Wow! How life has changed - for the better!

About four years ago, we had just moved from NC to TN. We were living with my mother-in-law and struggling to get settled. We hadn't found a pediatrician for our boys yet, so they had gotten behind on their immunizations. My innate mother-guilt kicked in and I took the boys to the local health department for their shots. The health care professional (I don't know if it was a doctor or nurse) came in, gave them their shots and left. I was so preoccupied with keeping the boys as comfortable as possible that I barely registered what was going on. When we went to check out, the employee looked at their forms and said, "I didn't know they could give them that many shots in one day." Once in the car, I looked at the forms and realized that Jason (our oldest) had been given 5 shots and Jeffrey had been given 7 shots IN ONE DAY! Life changed from that moment on.

By the next day, our once happy-go-lucky youngest (1 1/2 years old at the time), Jeffrey, began to wander aimlessly around the house. He no longer looked at anyone when they spoke to him and had no more interest in any of his toys. He would simply pick up a toy, walk around in circles for awhile, and then randomly drop it and continue the wandering. Before the doctors visit, he had a vocabulary of between 18 and 20 words. After the visit, he had NO words. (It would actually be almost a year before we would hear his voice at all - well, other than for screaming.)

Jason was slower to transform. He simply became withdrawn and much more easily frustrated. I am sad to say it, but Jason's self-induced solitude was a blessing at that time. Terry and I were so overwhelmed by Jeffrey's regression and new habit of biting his hand whenever he felt a new emotion (sad, happy, excited, worried, you name it) that Jason got kind of lost in the survival shuffle.

Thanks for the Internet, I found that Jeffrey had all of the classic symptoms of autism. So, it was no surprise when he was diagnosed a few months later. It wasn't until about a year later that Jason received his diagnosis.

To anyone who has read up on autism, this story is all too common. I hope that anyone reading this who has doubted that vaccines have an impact on the development (or trigger) of autism will rethink their position.

Jeffrey began an intensive schedule of therapy. He attended Occupation Therapy two times a week (to work on sensory processing and feeding issues), Speech Therapy two times a week, Play Therapy three times a week (to work on actually learning to play, speak, everything), Special Needs Preschool two times a week, and group Occupational Therapy once a week (to work on social skills). Most of these were out of the home, so we averaged one hour of driving time each way for each therapy. Our lives were consumed by therapy!

On top of that, we immediately put Jeffrey on a Gluten-Free/Casein-Free (GF-CF)/Yeast-Free diet. This means not eating any foods that contained gluten (wheat, bran, oats, and some more), casein (the milk protein), or yeast. This diet has been found to make dramatic improvements in most autistic children due to the inability of their bodies to process these things. Jeffrey made great improvements while on this diet.

After almost a year on this diet, I learned of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and soon both boys were on this strict regimine. The boys were to have no grain (wheat, rice, potato, bran, corn, etc.), no sugar (or artificial sweeteners), and very limited dairy products (no milk and only specific cheeses due to the diminished lactose and casein remaining in them after processing). The changes that occured while following this diet were extraordinary; however, it was very expensive to adhere to. So, after over year on the SCD, we put the boys back on a "regular diet."

Because Jason was 3 at the time, he no longer qualified for the Early Intervention therapies that Jeffrey was receiving and instead attended a blended (special needs and typical students) preschool at one of our local public schools. We thought that this would be great for Jason and were really excited when he started school there. This experiene did not prove to be beneficial for Jason. In fact, it was quite damaging to him. I will only say that his teacher was very verbally abusive to the students (as I witnessed myself) and Jason came home with adult hand-sized bruises on various parts of his body more than twice. When I confronted the teacher about this, she said that I must've done it myself. (Which of course it didn't.) When it happened again, I told the principal and was simply told that his teacher would never do that to a child. I know - I should have taken this further, but in the hell that was our life at this time, I didn't have the energy or where-with-all to continue this fight.

Well, that is enough reflection for today. Sorry about the long posts ... apparently I have a lot in my mind that I want to share.

Respecting & Working with Challenging Behaviors vs. Caused by Food Allergies?

I have been working on living respectfully with my children. For me that means accepting them just as they are - the "good" and the "bad" (who decides what falls under those labels anyway?) - and finding win/win situations in everything we do. Things are going GREAT, but I am struggling to understand which parts of my previous "knowledge" about autism and the possible causes of autistic behaviors are still useful and ring true in my new life.

I KNOW that all behavior is a form of communication, but what are they trying to communicate?

When Jason spends all day yelling at me, insulting his brother and even hitting anyone in his path is he simply frustrated by something going on or did he eat something that is making him feel bad inside? I know that if I don't feel healthy, I don't always act my best. So ... in true unschooling style ... should I work with Jason to develop communication strategies, empathize with what I think are his frustrations, try to redirect him, etc ... or should I go ahead and get him tested for food allergies or food sensitivities? I know that it is always helpful to learn new strategies for living cooperatively and peacefully, but I wonder if I am simply putting a bandaid on a gaping wound. I worry that I may be overlooking the root cause of the behavior (food allergies?) by completely focusing on the behavior itself.

Let me include some info on the correlation between behavior and food allergies/intolerances.

The IgG antibody mediated response, also known as sensitivities, delayed or hidden allergies can cause many things. I have bolded and underlined the “autistic symptoms”. These allergies produce symptoms such as red burning ears, low grade fevers, itching, runny or stuffy nose, joint or muscle aches and pains, headaches, diarrhea, constipation, excessive gas, irritability, mood swings, confusion, mental fog, aggression, faintness, dizziness, bags or dark circles under the eyes, ringing in ears, insomnia, heart palpitations, chest pains, coughing, hoarseness, acne, hair loss, hot flashes, heartburn, craving certain foods, water retention, weight gain, weight loss, hyperactivity, poor memory, poor comprehension, lack of concentration, fatigue, stuttering, slurred speech, anxiety, depression, itching, frequent urination and many others.

( from

So, at this point, I have decided that I have to get both boys tested for Celiac Disease (problems digesting gluten). Depending on what I find out from that test, I will either go further in their medical testing, adapt their diet myself, or ... I don't know. I just know that I have to take that first step for their health and my own knowledge. While waiting for the tests and their results to come, I will continue working on being VERY present with my kiddos and working on those wonderful communication strategies.