Saturday, December 11, 2010

Caring About Others

     I wanted to take a moment and write about a wonderful experience that brought tears to my eyes.  One that I will remember forever. 
     In order to understand how amazing this particular moment was to me, you would need to realize the history and rarity of this event.  Before Kyle received the diagnosis of Asperger's, I never really thought much to the fact that he was oblivious to other people's emotions.  I never expected Kyle to be there for me emotionally, that is not something a child should be responsible for.  The child shouldn't feel responsible for making you feel happy when you are sad, et cetera.  Just like you wouldn't place your marital or financial burdens on your child, you wouldn't place your emotional burdens on them as well. 
     I assumed that the reason why Kyle didn't care about other people's emotions was because he never was expected to respond to our emotions.  Apparently, this isn't the case.  Neurotypical children are aware of other people's emotions and will offer a hug or some gesture to help someone that is crying or upset.  It really became apparent to me the severity of Kyle's lack of empathy when the two younger ones showed empathy at a very early age without any coaching.  The little ones would even get upset when characters on TV would be upset.  This was a wake up call to me.  So we set out to work with Kyle on this.
     Sometimes it can be so frustrating when you work to the point of exhaustion and feel as if you are getting nowhere.  You see the end in sight, but you aren't getting any closer and you aren't seeing any progress.  This was exactly how I was feeling.  One day I saw a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel.  I will never forget that moment.
     My husband usually takes Kyle to school in the morning on his way to work, but I had an appointment first thing so I dropped him off on the way.  The appointment was regarding Kyle.  My husband stayed home with the little ones.  The night before, we explained to Kyle that in the morning things would be a little different.  Kyle, being one that dislikes change and is very rigid, we knew that we would have to explain why and how, et cetera.  It didn't go over too bad.  I explained to him that I had an appointment in the morning and that I would drop him off on the way.  After he tried to come up with many different ways that he could still go about his morning the same way, he finally accepted it.
     The next morning came and things went very smoothly.  I dropped him off at school.  When he got out, he turned around and looked at me and said, "Good luck with your appointment, Mom."  He said it with such compassion that reliving it now is still bringing tears to my eyes.  Other parents may take this quality in their children for granted, and I probably do with the little ones.  But for Kyle and I, this was better than winning a gold medal in the Olympics.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


     So, Kyle who is almost nine, has started something new.  He has started biting, his younger siblings being the targets.  I am hoping that this is a phase, one that will be short lived, but it still needs to be dealt with and understood.
     Kyle has always had issues with transitions and over stimulation.  So the last time he bit his younger brother (younger brother is four years old) it was partly my fault for not creating the right environment.  He was gone for the weekend and when he was brought home we were next door at my parents' house.  Kyle is usually off the wall when he comes home after being away and he is usually off the wall with excitement when he visits my parents.  Combining the two proved to be just too much.  We were also making decorations and decorating the tree at my parents house.
     Kyle loves to play with his siblings, but most of the time it isn't a pleasurable experience for any of them.  The little ones don't play 'right' and as much as they try to play by Kyle's rules, they just don't get it.  Most of the time what happens is that when they are playing together I need to get involved to help the situation out, but I don't always have the time to devote 100% of my attention to them at the time they need me.  So, they get separated.  Not because anyone is in trouble, but just so that the situation doesn't escalate into something like biting.
     We are still not sure exactly what led up to this particular biting incident, other than the over stimulation.  We know that he didn't bite because his brother bit him first.  It happened so fast.
     So, how does one deal with this scenario?  I am not sure, but I will tell you what I did.
     I placed Kyle in a time out first.  Mainly this was for my benefit so I could process what had happened and derive a plan to deal with this.  After a few minutes I brought him out of time out.
     First we talked about what had happened.  We went through and relived the story, without actually biting anyone.  Then we discussed feelings.  We discussed that all feelings are okay, including anger, but that it is not acceptable to bite other people or ourselves.  We discussed what he should have done before he bit his brother.  We discussed biting and how it affects people and that it is not acceptable in anyway.  I asked Kyle what he needed to do now, and he said to apologize, which he did.
     As mentioned before, the fact that he was over stimulated was what the main cause of this incident was.  So, in the future, it is my duty as the parent to try to make sure that he is not overstimulated.  We may have to be at home and have a required 30 minute 'space' between him and his siblings when he comes home from being away.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


     This is probably the hardest post I have had to write about so far.  Emotionally I would just like to skip this post and pretend that this is something that we are not dealing with.  I choose to write on for a couple different reasons.  One reason being that things don't go away if you ignore them and another being that I am sure that I am not the only one struggling with these emotions.  There are more reasons but I am not going to take up your time by writing them all down.  So here it goes...
     The school where Kyle goes to recently did a couple screenings on him.  One was sensory issues.  I always knew that Kyle was sensitive to sound, smells, tastes, touch, bright lights etcetera, but aren't we all??  After the evaluation it was discovered that these issues were impacting him more than what I had assumed.  Their suggestions were great.  Ear plugs for places that were too loud for him...a weighted vest for when he was seeking deep pressure...something to chew on to help with his need for mouthing things (currently he chews his clothes, sucks on his upper arm to the point of leaving marks)...something nice smelling to carry around with him in case he smells something that he can't tolerate...sunglasses to deal with the sun (we had already been doing this at home).
     Great!  We had a way to help him with these issues.  A way to make his world a bit more tolerable.  I couldn't be happier.  I went out and got all of the things he needed, except for the weighted vest.  Until I can travel two hours away to get one, I came up with a temporary solution of a small weighted blanket that I made.  I do not wish to order a weighted vest off the internet as I want to make sure that it is the correct size or else it would be useless.  The weighted blanket really worked at home.  I had a meeting with the school yesterday and brought it with me to give to the teacher.  I am going to make another one for home.  Everyone at the meeting loved it.
     I saw Kyle as I was leaving the meeting.  It was lunch time and he was in the cafeteria.  This is one of the harder parts of his day.  He has a harder time socially with lunch and recess.  It is because there is less structure.  As I was walking towards him I watched how happy he was.  He was sitting with three other kids.  They all were getting along and everyone seemed very happy.  Kyle was smiling and have a great time!  My heart sank though because he was sitting there wearing the ear plugs.  It was totally noticeable to me.  This was the first time I had seen him in school with the ear plugs.  He seemed oblivious, it didn't bother him at all that he was wearing them.  When I talked to him later about it he was totally fine with it.  His peers didn't seem to mind either.  My fear is that he would be picked on because of this.  Thinking and weighing all of the options, if he wasn't using this 'tool' he wouldn't be functioning as successfully as he was and the main thing was that he wasn't bothered by it.
     When Kyle was leaving school he came walking down the hill with everyone at dismissal time carrying his weighted blanket.  He wasn't trying to hide it, putting it in his bag would have been the best option.  He was twirling it around.  As his mom, I am glad that he has it to use at school but I don't want it to be something that the whole world is aware that he uses.  If the teacher kept it in the closet and only took it out when it was needed that would be great.  It would be even better if he didn't need it. 
     When I met up with Kyle as he was walking down the hill I explained to him that the blanket was to stay at school.  I promised him that I would make another one for him to use at home.  He was okay with that.
     On one hand it is a blessing that he is oblivious to the fact others may view his 'tools' as odd, but I think that he would grow better socially if he was a little more aware of social standards.  I have mixed emotions on this and it is a very hard topic to write all comes down to what is best for the child.