Just a little nuts

Just a little nuts
A blog about single parenting & autism

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Little glimpses into her mind


Little glimpses into Little Squirrel's mind: earlier this week she revealed that she can't stop picking at her shoe while everyone else is listening to the teacher; then Friday she said she's glad she's not picking her shoe anymore but now she sings the "let the flowers grow" song instead, while everyone else is listening to the teacher. She exclaimed how annoying it is that she sings that song and it's not even her favorite part of the song that she sings. I asked how she knows the song--if she heard it somewhere or made it up--and she says she made it up. Very interesting information. I'll be bringing it up next week at our Special Services review with the school psychologist & Little Squirrel's teacher & staff. Also, I read Little Squirrel a paragraph from the Autism Survival Guide book that talks about repeating words/phrases and how it's like a brain hiccup. She seemed to understand, but hard to tell.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day reflection: my tiny dictator

My parents couldn't handle me. No teacher could handle me. No boss and no man either. So God had to send in this tiny dictator. He really knows what He's doing! I've never been more exhausted or more content.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Notes for the speech evaluation

Speech evaluation next week with the goal of getting into a social speech group therapy.

Speech concerns--

Questions: There are millions of What and Why questions yet Little Squirrel can only phrase requests as demands/statements/announcements, like, "I want--" or "More--" or "I need--" or "I'm--" or worse... "Gimme--"! No matter how many times I rephrase what she said as a question and have her repeat it back, she can't seem to formulate requests on her own--only demands that sound incredibly rude and make me feel angry and abused by end of day.

Word order: "What your name is?" How old you are?"

Pragmatic conversation: needs work! a lot of work...

Friday, April 19, 2013

Oppositional behavior and defiance

It's exhausting and I am worn out. Since day one there have been meltdowns. But now we have meltdowns and tantrums and defiance and targeted anger. This is just in the past 12 hours:

Yesterday evening Little Squirrel's bff was over for our weekly dinner together. As her bff was leaving she stopped to check out a toy we have in our entry way because we are giving it away to a friend since Little Squirrel doesn't play with it anymore. Little Squirrel was anxious that her bff was touching it and was telling her to leave it alone, but her bff (who is also defiant and oppositional) refused and said something that Little Squirrel took to mean as, "it's mine now." Little Squirrel became very upset and hit (lightly) her bff on the back trying to get her to back off from the toy. I saw it and told Little Squirrel to apologize. That just escalated her into a full stomping rage which she targeted at me, so then I was left with a disaster mess from the playdate to clean up, as well as a hell child to deal with. The problem: Little Squirrel desperately wants to have playdates, but she doesn't have the emotional regulation to handle being around other kids and reprimand/correction only escalates the problems.

Then this morning I woke with tentative hopes to have a fresh start and things were fine until the final minutes before leaving for school, in the bathroom. I wasn't rushing Little Squirrel but told her it was time to brush teeth. She has a very annoying habit of throwing everything aside when she is done, usually towels and caps to bathroom products. She actually located the toothpaste quickly which is rare since even though it's always in the same place she can't EVER seem to find the brush and paste. She took the cap off the toothpaste and tossed it. It flew behind some items on the bathroom counter. I told her a few times to pick it up. She ignored me and instead began brushing her teeth (I use the word "brushing" loosely, since 10 seconds then SPIT doesn't really count). I repeated the command to pick up the cap. She gave me the angry eyebrows, and the usual angry "don't watch me!" and stomping feet. She didn't want me to watch while she picked up the toothpaste cap. Instead of further engaging with her I just left the room and went to wait by the door, which means that she went to school today without washing her face, brushing her hair, etc. The problem: she doesn't have the skills to do the morning hygiene on her own but my presence during the hygiene just leads to trouble.

Possible solutions: remove triggers--which means reduce social interactions, especially late day or evening when she is getting tired; frame the corrections as questions instead of commands (can you please pick that up now?); stop reacting to her defiant raging tantrums (even though it's so hard because it makes me so upset inside that I have heart palpitations!)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

3/20/13: The Day I learned she can lie

and not just lie. We're taking stone cold scheming. At age 5. Up until now no history of lying, only proud confessions, such as:

Did you hit her?
YES! (proudly beaming)

But now it's a whole new day. I'm not sure when the deception and scheming skills kicked in but they are revealed (which is odd because of the whole "Theory of Mind" and autistic people. They usually have a hard time understanding that everyone has their own mind and aren't able to think from the perspective of another person, which is necessary in order to lie and sneak.).

Last month Little Squirrel brought home a "plan paper" which is a large piece of school lined writing paper that details an incident that happened at school. One side is the No side, where the child draws and/or writes what they did wrong. Then on the Yes side, the child writes and/or draws the plan for how that behavior won't happen again. The last one that came home was about growling at the librarian at school, and the plan was to sit criss cross quietly and listen to the librarian from now on and "use Yes words, not growling." I had to sign it and send it back to school. That day I told Little Squirrel that if another plan paper comes home she won't play computer games for a week.

So....

This morning as I was putting her lunch in her backpack I noticed a large sheet of paper crumpled up at the bottom. I had emptied all the papers out of the backpack after school yesterday so I figured I just had missed one somehow. But when I pulled it out I recognized it as a plan paper! I was reeling from the realization that at some point between after school and this morning she had hid it and sneaked it back into her bag. But I didn't tell her I found it right then because I didn't want to be late for school. Then while we were waiting for the elevator in our building and I unzipped her backpack to check that we brought her library book to return, she looked at me and the backpack very nervous. Then she asked me to close the backpack. I asked,  "Why? Is there something in there you don't want me to see?" And she answered me, smiling, "It's a surprise." (!)

Then I told her the jig was up, that I saw the plan paper already.

She briefly whined about losing the games for a week, but didn't really get upset until we were in the car on the way to school and she asked me if I brought the plan paper. I told her no, that it is at home and we will be talking about it after school.

"OOOohhhhh no! Now I won't get my hornet picked!!!" She wailed.

Just further proof her teacher is a genius.

The school mascot is a hornet, and the kids get hornet tickets for "getting caught being good," and then there is a daily drawing of tickets. The idea is, the more you get caught being good, the more tickets you have in the bucket and the greater your chances of getting a prize (like a sucker or pencil, nothing big at all for most kids--but it's life or death for Little Squirrel).

So when the kids get a plan paper, Little Squirrel's teacher makes the kids take the paper home to get it signed, and in the meantime their name is on the board, on the naughty list, and their hornet tickets are not eligible for a prize until their name is off the board, which Little Squirrel also wailed about in the car, about her name being on the board. It's hard to tell what bothers her more: losing the games for a week, not getting a hornet prize, or just having her name on the board. I'm not really sure which of that trifecta was the more likely motive.

After I dropped her at school and came back home to finish getting ready for work, I examined the plan paper closer. On the part of the paper where there was a line for me to sign my name, there was already a scrawl in pen!!! It took a minute for the reality to sink in and my blood ran cold. She had tried to sign my name! Even the most sneaky kids this age would likely only try to pass off "MOM" as a signature. A forgery for a 5 year old is very advanced!

I emailed the school psychologist about it and asked him to talk to her. Since I am a single parent I need all the back up from authority figures that I can get. Then when she got home I told her that not only was she losing the games for a week but that her weekly pizza night with her best friend was canceled because we were going to be too busy learning some new words and writing definitions. What we ended up writing was TRUTH, EARN, TRUST, PRIVILEGES--and writing easy definitions, then using the words to make this sentence: When I tell the Truth, I Earn mommy's Trust, and get Privileges.

Also chilling was her confession that to do the forgery she had waited until I was getting her bath ready and then used her homework folder that I sign all the time to copy my signature. Then she asked why I write my name like that! So she didn't even know what a signature was yet understood that she couldn't just print my name or write mommy. She knew that it had to look like how I write it on things like that homework folder.

Her ability to think and plot this way came on overnight and is shocking to me. It's like I'm living with a stranger!



Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A social butterfly with anti-social behavior

I often say it would be easier if Little Squirrel was like other autistic people who prefer their own world and don't want to socialize. Little Squirrel desperately wants to socialize, problem is, the desperate part. She becomes frantic about it and scares other kids away. She comes on very strong and her enthusiasm can turn to rage in a split second as soon as the other child does not perform as she commands. She seems to believe everyone else exists  just waiting for her choreography cues. Her Gramma and Grampa will play along to her liking, but even if Gramma doesn't copy the exact tone of voice Little Squirrel demonstrates for eenie-meanie-minie-moe, she will lash out at them.

The children she can play with best are toddlers or children up to age 3 or 4 who will look up to her in amazement and not challenge her. Or older children who will humor her. Or children of any age who are very passive or easy going. Or the rare chivalrous young boy, like one of our playdate friends who is a 6 year old "ladies man" who tolerates the abuse without protest.



Saturday, February 23, 2013

More tough questions

"How did you buy these vitamins for?"

This is an example of why Little Squirrel has speech therapy. Turns out she was asking WHY I buy vitamins for her.

~~~

"What does learning means?" "What does forever means?" Still driving me nuts with requests for random definitions.

~~~

"What does leasing means?" Now that she can read all the signs wherever we go, the definitions are getting harder.

~~~

"Is the  moon nocturnal?"

Ah, philosophy. Now we're talking.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Math gaps

Some math logic problems here: Little Squirrel can solve 9+1=? but she can't solve 9+?=10 (and I almost pulled ALL my hair out trying to get her to say 1--seriously!). Then she told me just now that "2 and 2 and 2 and 2 is 8." So, WTH! We have a meeting with her teacher today to work on some math concepts.

update:
Math meeting went well. I've always prayed for God to lead me to what Little Squirrel needs, and she really does have the best kindergarten teacher around. The woman is like a seasoned war horse, and though she's probably not more than 10 years older than me, I still call her Mrs., not by her first name. She's like a drill sergeant but for kindergarteners, yet they LIKE her and respect her. I believe this even more now because of Little Squirrel's exceptionally good behavior today while in the hall waiting for the meeting and also during the meeting. She was perfectly calm, docile, hands folded. I kept looking at Little Squirrel wondering "whose kid is this???" During the math tutorial Little Squirrel impressed her teacher with some advanced skills, so for a moment I was thinking she was just trying to drive me crazy at home with this 9+?=10 nonsense, but when faced with the same equation that makes me pull my hair out at home, Little Squirrel was again baffled. But, being a professional, her teacher did not pull her hair out over it, of course. She showed us some good math exercise games to do at home and hopefully one day, maybe in the middle of an advanced trigonometry problem, Little Squirrel will have a light bulb moment and exclaim, "ONE! The answer is ONE!"

Friday, January 18, 2013

Visual schedule


Now that Little Squirrel can read the whole visual schedule thing is so much easier! It's working well so far. I just carry around a tablet and before I pick her up from school I quickly write out the day of the week, then everything that's happening (that I know of) the rest of the day. And since today was Friday I included the rest of today AND the itinerary for tomorrow also, which I think has helped simmer down the weekend anxiety, at least as far as I can tell. To do this requires actually having a plan for each day, which I have learned to do, since I have learned Little Squirrel can tolerate about 2 hours max at home before going nuts and behaving like bugs are crawling under her skin due to the uncertainty of "what's next???"

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Back to School Tomorrow! Yay!


Now that Little Squirrel can read the whole visual schedule thing is so much easier! It's working well so far. I just carry around a tablet and before I pick her up from school I quickly write out the day of the week, then everything that's happening (that I know of) the rest of the day. And since today was Friday I included the rest of today AND the itinerary for tomorrow also, which I think has helped simmer down the weekend anxiety, at least as far as I can tell. To do this requires actually having a plan for each day, which I have learned to do, since I have learned Little Squirrel can tolerate about 2 hours max at home before going nuts and behaving like bugs are crawling under her skin due to the uncertainty of "what's next???"