Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Where to begin.

I have typed and deleted three posts since Friday, trying to sum up my feelings about the numbers released by the Oklahoma State Department of Education about the staggering number of 3rd grade students that did not pass the reading portion of the OCCT state testing last month. Almost 8,000 3rd Graders did not pass this test, 33 in our district alone, and it's a small district. Approximately 400 3rd graders in our district. I am proud to report that Bryce did pass, and passed proficiently, which is a huge relief for him and us. However, those families out there, the 7,917 families that have a child that failed this one test, I can imagine the pain and anger they are feeling right now. Anger because I guarantee at least half of these students are good students, probably A or B students, that just freaked out and had severe test anxiety because failing THIS ONE TEST could change their lives for ever. It's not right. Absolutely not right. And I'm not even talking about the kids, like Bryce, who have enough anxiety over school as it is, the sheer panic those kids went through before this test is not only wrong, but borders on emotional abuse. I am still very angry about the torture they put my kid through, and he passed, so I can imagine the rage these parents must feel right now. I've said it once, I will say it again... Shame on you Oklahoma. These children are our future. And you threw them to the wolves, all in the name of "excellence".

Now that I am off my state testing soap box, let me tell you some good news. Last week, we went to anger management therapy for the first session. Our therapist is a genius y'all. She came up with the best freakin' system ever. It's so easy, and so simple, I'm angry at myself for not thinking of this A LONG TIME AGO!!!!!  Here's how it works. 1st, go get poker chips. Yes, you read that right, poker chips. They are colored (so you know whose is whose) and not easily duplicated (as in, most of us don't just have poker chips laying around the house). Next step, decide the reward. Make it something they can cash in on every day. In my house, it's X-Box or Kindle time. We give them 1 hour a day (during the school week, 2 hours on weekends and holidays) to play X-Box, and Kindles are only for bedtime in our house. Yes, I know that "experts" say that kids shouldn't be using electronics before bedtime, but those "experts" have never been in my house at bedtime. We would try to put Bryce to bed at 7 pm, and he'd still be up at midnight. Now, we put him to bed at 8, with his Kindle for one hour, and 9 times out of 10, when we go in at 9, he's out cold. So, the "experts" can stuff it... anyway, that's we have wanted things to work anyway, but a lot of times, we were giving in to them and letting them play longer (too cold or wet outside was one popular reason). No more!  They get their allotted time, then, if they want to play longer, they have to "cash in" a token. One poker chip (or token) is worth 15 minutes of either X-Box or Kindle time. They can cash in as many or as little as they want at a time, but when they run out of tokens, that's it. The only way to get tokens is to earn them. If the boys gets dressed in the morning with little to no drama, and does as they are suppose to do, then they get 2 tokens. If they pick up when we ask them to, they get 2 tokens.  If they get in the shower and wash, dry, and dress themselves with little or no drama, they get 2 tokens. I know a lot of you are probably thinking, that's stuff they should be doing anyway, and you are right. And, Dylan does for the most part all of this anyway, but Bryce has been a struggle. And that's where this comes in, this is not really for Dylan, it is for Bryce. However, It's important that Dylan earn the same as Bryce for one main reason. It shows Bryce that neither of them are treated any differently then the other (meaning Dylan has to earn time for the electronics just like him). Now tokens earned for school will be different. For one, Dylan isn't graded yet, he get's +, -, and check marks. For another, Dylan doesn't have a behavior sheet like Bryce does. So, we haven't quite worked out how this is going to work for Dylan yet. For Bryce, he gets a daily behavior sheet. 0-10 marks. We told him that we expect him to get an 8, at least. So if he gets a 9, he gets 1 token, if he gets a 10, he gets 2.  Each subject will be determined by his ability. Like Math and Science, we expect him make at least a B. If he gets an A, he will get a token. Reading, English, and Spelling are his worse subjects so we expect him to get a C, if he gets a B that's 1 and an A gets 2. We started this on Saturday, and so far, it's going so great. They are really taking to it. They have kept the playroom clean, they are doing the things with out fighting us on it. It's going really well. I'm loving it. We have the whole summer to work with his therapist to perfect this system, especially as it applies to school, but so far, this has been the best thing we have done. It just so simple and easy, I can't believe we hadn't come up with this! We tried allowance, and jars of coins and marbles, but, it never stuck like this is. This is tangible to Bryce. He understands what each token means. Plus, we did tell them, they can save their tokens and once a month, turn them in for 25 cents each, to help show how to save money and the like, but for the most part, all they want to do is turn it in for time on the electronics. And, they've come to realize, 2 hours on the weekends is not a lot of time, so they save their tokens during the week for weekends, and are playing outside or with lego's and other imaginative things more and more. It's been great. Okay, so we are only on day 4, but still, it's working awesome. I highly recommend this system for anyone with kids with behavioral issues.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

So, maybe I lied... or I'm just lazy... or both. And a dead cat.

First, I must admit, Star Wars day did not go off like planned... It didn't go at all. I will spare you the details and just admit, I was too damn lazy to go to the store for the stuff to go all "pintrest" on it. It just wasn't that important. Maybe, next year, I will actually plan ahead and get stuff when I go to the grocery store rather then do the "Oh, hey, it's Star Wars Day tomorrow. Let's go to the store and go ape shit over a movie". Cause, let's face it y'all, it never happens.

Now, I'm sure you are wondering about the dead cat. Prepare yourselves, cause this is not a metaphor for how my week is going (although, it could be. Keep reading, this was just MONDAY). It really was a dead cat. So, we have this cute little puppy, Maggie. Maggie is about 4 1/2 months old. She is a mutt. Mix of Bichon and who the hell knows what.  We rescued her in February from a rescue at exactly 2 months old. When we got her, she was only 5 pounds. Little Bit was actually her name at the rescue, as she was the runt of her litter. She's now 12 pounds, and yeah, Little Bit does not fit her any more. More like Porky. But, I digress from the story. Maggie is not very bright. Don't get me wrong, she's as cute as a button, I love her to death, but she's as dumb as a rock. We can let her outside for hours at a time, and she will wait till she comes inside to do her business. Seriously. She also chews on EVERYTHING. I tried blocking doors, but she's a little escape artist. She can get out of her cage, and get into our room. She can get out of a harness too, when on her leash. So, I started to put her in the backyard when we are not home. It's got lots of shade and I leave plenty of food and water for her. It's only about 6 hours. Well, I came home Friday, and man, she stunk. I figured she had rolled around in poop. So, gave her a spit bath of sorts, I have these "puppy wipes" I use. She smelled much better. Well, I got home Monday and dear lord, she stunk to high heaven. I ended up leaving her outside till Jeff got home so we could shower her. Yes, I said shower. Don't ask. Well, he had just got home, and I looked outside and she was dragging something along the yard. At first, I though it was a tree stump...  Then, I realized, she was gnawing at it. And, the part I thought was a limb, was in fact a limb.. of a cat. Insert moment of gagging here. OMG, no wonder she stunk so freakin' bad!!!!  So, we got rid of the animal (dumped over the fence into the woods), got her cleaned up, and took her to the vet the next day. I think I'm still having nightmares about this. Excuse me while I go puke again........ The joys of living in the country folks.

Friday, May 2, 2014

"May the 4th be with you".

So, Sunday is Star Wars day, and in my house, there is nothing, that can hold Bryce's attention for more then 10 minutes better the Star Wars. I will be honest, I had no idea such a day existed, but now that I do know, I have decided to go all out and celebrate with my three favorite boys, who are all Star Wars geeks at heart. Sunday morning, I am hoping to wake the boys with Vadercakes and Jar-Jarsausages, with Leahaide to drink. Then, the boys and I will be spending the afternoon making lightsabers and, possibly, Star Wars shaped cookies. I will also be making either a C-3PO or an R2D2 cupcake cake. For dinner, we will feast on HanBurgers, Chewbacators, and Han Solo in a Cryojello sleep. Oh, and how could I forget, the Yoda Soda!!  We will watch a couple of the movies, and we will just have a day of fun. I love my boys, and I love that something as simple as celebrating one of their favorite movies, can be turned into an entire day of memories. Cause let's face it y'all.  That is what it's all about. Making memories with our babies. So, I say unto you, "May the fourth be with you".

Thursday, May 1, 2014


A lot of times, when out in public with my son, we get stares and comments.  Most of them are things like "I would have never gotten away with that when I was a kid" or "My parents would have beat me if I talked like that to them". The last comment is the one that bugs me the most, mainly because I'm sure their parent's never would have actually "beat" them, more like they would've gotten a spanking or two, but not truly "beat". However, the thing that I think irritates me the most is the fact that it's true. When I was a teenager even, and had the "I hate everyone and everything" attitude, I would have never, ever, ever told my mom out loud "I hate you". Never. I may have thought it, but never would have said it. Unfortunately, that is something I hear frequently in this house. No surprise really. He's been yelling it at me since he was 5. And, it's not just the "I hate you"'s that drive me banana's, it the out right disrespect that he shows to me and his father. He has a teenager's attitude in a 9 year old body. He talks back, will (it looks like anyway) deliberately disobey us, and worse of all, when he gets in trouble, he will yell, scream, and slam doors. For those without children on the Spectrum or with ODD, this may appall you, but I guarantee, many out there with Spectrum kids or ODD kids will tell you, this is normal place. And, for an outsider, it may look like we have an out of control child, but here's the thing, it's not him. It's not something he can control. And, honestly, he's not deliberately disobeying, it's probably more of the fact that what we said can not be processed correctly in order for him to receive the message and stop the behavior or attitude or do the things we have asked him to do.  Think of it like this, consider our brains to be computers. Now, most computers process information quickly and efficiently. You give the computer a command and it does it instantly.  An Autistic child or person, their brains are also computers, but when their modems were "hooked" up, the wires were crossed. So, they process information slowly, and not all commands reach the hard drive. You have to actually learn to parent a child on the Spectrum, especially if that child has ODD. Yes, your read that right, you have to learn to parent. And it can't be taught out of a book, trust me, I've tried. A few years back we started a therapy called PCIT or Parent-Child Interactive Therapy. PCIT taught us how to talk to him in order to build up his self esteem instead of tearing it down. I will tell you, this therapy helped us tremendously. However, at it's core, PCIT is for younger children (2-6 yrs old), and therefore, it's not translating very well into pre-teen adolescences.

For me, the worst time of day with Bryce is mornings. It's bad mainly because he does not want to go to school and his meds have not kicked in.  Yes, I medicate him. No, I do not suggest that all parents do, but it is a decision every parent has to make for their own child. I admit, I fought medication hard at the beginning of our journey.   In fact, the first therapist we went to made my worse fear come true... Which, at the time, was that she would spend 5 minutes with him then immediately jump to "you have to medicate". While it wasn't 5 minutes, it pretty much worked out just like that. She took my 5 year old child, sat him in a room for 2 1/2 hours, asking really stupid questions (like, what's another name for "Mom") and then counting him off for answering a really reasonable, and literal way (he told her another name for "mom" is "Regan". That's right, that's my name, it's another name for me. She was looking for "mommy" or "mother") then had the audacity to tell us that he was not Autistic and all that was wrong with him was ADHD because he wouldn't sit still for TWO AND A HALF HOURS while she "tested him" for ASD, and that we just needed to "medicate" him into submission. First, I don't know any 5 year old child that will sit still for 2 1/2 hours, let alone a kid with ADHD. I never argued the fact that he didn't have ADHD, just that, how can you tell when you try to make a 5 year old sit still for TWO AND A HALF HOURS. Second, one of the telling signs of an Autistic is that they answer and take things very literal. And, that's exactly what he did. He took her questions literally, and answered them. Third, she never did any tests that are considered, in the world of psychology, "Autism" tests. She just did the IQ test, and that was it. While there's no real definitive test for Autism, there are some tests that can judge if it may be a possibility, and she never did a single one of those. She billed our insurance for them, but never performed them. I know this because, when we took him for a second opinion, the new therapist tried to get approval for them, but couldn't because it showed they had already been administered, yet the records we got from her showed she never did (and we promptly turned her in for fraud). In the end, his school administered the tests, and it did show he was on the spectrum, and every single therapist we have taken him to since this particular doctor has also said he is on the spectrum. Moral of that story, always check out who the doctor is and their reputation before you actually go. But, anyway, I got off topic. Yes, Bryce is medicated. We realized fairly early on that we would have to. I liken him to one of those bouncy balls. You know, the ones that if you bounce them in a place that has no walls or grass, but has a way for them to bounce constantly forever.... That is Bryce before his medication takes effect. He literally bounces from room to room and sometimes, even off of the walls. Poor child was also blessed with his mother's coordination, as in we have zero. So, yeah, mornings are rough around here. Add to the bouncing ball, a smart mouth, and an attitude that could make even Ghandi nuts, and you have what it's like in my house in the mornings. This morning was particularly rough. One thing I have not mentioned here yet is that I also have some medical issues. I have gout, which is basically where my body does not filter out uric acid in my blood stream, therefore causes inflammation in my joints. I also have Fibromyalgia, which is basically like someone ran over me with a Mack Truck. AND, I also have a bad back. Spinal Stenosis (narrowing of the spinal cord), bulging disks (4 of them, yay...), and Degenerative Disk Disease. So, yeah, it's kind of like I'm a 38 year old stuck in a 90 year old's body. So, some mornings are harder then others. We just had a massive temperature shift. It was 90 degrees Sunday, and yesterday was 58. Back to 90's this weekend. So, I'm in a Fibro and Gout flare.  So, I'm not sleeping and in tons of pain, in other words. So, I'm kind of miserable, and Bryce starts to tease his brother, which of course then makes Dylan whine and cry, which is kind of like nails on a chalkboard. Bryce thinks everything is a race. He wants to be the first one dressed, the first one done with breakfast, the first one to brush his teeth, and so on. He does this at school as well. He wants to be the first one done with tests and papers, which is one reason his grades have plummeted this year (for the other reason, see A Public Letter to Oklahoma Department of Education). So, he's running around (literally) singing "I beat the slow eater!", while trying to brush his teeth, and I'm saying over and over and over "Get at the sink!" because he can't stand still for the 2 minutes it takes for his toothbrush to play Party In The USA and brush his teeth, therefore getting toothpaste EVERYWHERE, not to mention, how well are those teeth being brushed if he's in the middle of singing while brushing? I'm trying hard not to loose it, cause trust me, in the mornings, that is extremely hard. Meanwhile, I can hear Dylan crying, because that's Dylan's thing... to cry and whine, and all I can think is... I NEED a vacation.