August 30, 2008

In Dog We Trust...

When I was a little girl we had a dog named, Ginger. She was the best dog... She looked like Lassie over there but a little smaller.

She would stand at the edge of the yard if someone was approaching and bark her head off, sounding the alarm. Ginger's bark was imposing and, coupled with some very sharp rows of teeth, she was not a dog a stranger would want to mess with. When I was about 6 or so, Ginger was diagnosed with arthritis in her hips. Movement was extremely painful for her. We had no choice but to put her to sleep. It is the only time I remember my father crying. A couple of other dogs came through the house but none were as impressive (for me) as Ginger.

As I became a teen, I turned more towards cats. Punkin was my favorite cat; she wandered into a friend's backyard and stayed. After looking for the owners for a month or so, realized they counldn't keep her. Mom adopted her for my 18th birthday present. She was this big fluffball of orange, black, tan & white who loved sleeping under warm clothes freshly removed from the dryer and thought the water coming from the faucet was a toy for her to bat around. We never had to buy her toys. She preferred the ring from the milk jug or cork from the wine bottle, bouncing and throwing them around for the longest time. She wandered out of our lives the same way she came into them. One day, when she was about 18 years old, she just wandered off. I picture her curling up somewhere & just not waking up again.

Now, once again, I have a dog, Olivia. She wandered into my life also. Heading over to my sister's one day, my mother and I found her in the middle of the road. Her ribs were sticking out of this itty bitty puppy body, she peed and scrunched up from excitement/fear as I called to her. She did this funny left to right, backward/forward walk as she came towards me. Like she was happy & scared at the same time. We named her Olivia because we found her in the middle of Olive Avenue; Bubba came up with her name. That the name is the same as our daughter's favorite tv character {Olivia Benson of Law & Order: SVU} is simply a bonus!

She is part rat terrier, part chihuahua, a little mountain goat, attack/guard dog, clown, acrobat, comedian, part scrounge, doorbell...

August 2, 2008

Being trans-parent...

I am afraid to be transparent. You don't wanna hear about my problems. But I need to talk about my problems so that I can process them and move past them. You, however, do not have to be here if you don't want to; so, read on if you want to but don't bitch at me if you don't like what you read.

I am so angry, disappointed, hurt, bewildered by my son's behavior. But before I go through that; I want to put down the back story.


As sands through the hour glass.... are the days of our lives. That would make a good opening to a soap opera. Oh, that's right it is... sigh. I have often said that I don't need to watch soap operas because my life is already too much of one. As is evidenced by recent events.

Back Story: My husband and I have a 18 year old son, Bubba.... Long story...J and I met in 1988at the Blue Moon Tavern in Seattle. It was definitely attraction, fascination, both physical and mental, at first site. We were pretty much inseparable after that point. I got pregnant (w/B) and neither of us was at a point where we could really commit to a relationship, so I moved to California to be with my Mom. I married someone and tried to make him J; J married someone and tried to make her me, obviously THAT didn't work. So, 15 years later, I finally got smart and kicked my husband out, began divorce proceedings and called J to see if he wanted a relationship with his son. Unbeknownst to me, he was also in divorce proceedings and when we finally talked we realized that we still loved each other, that attraction/fascination had never gone away. So, I moved to Washington to be with J and moved B up a few months later (he stayed with his grandma while I found a job) so we could start a whole new life as a family. This post is going to be a lot longer than I thought it would be but hang in there 'cause there is a point. :o) If you wanna keep reading go for it; if I've lost you, well...not much I can do about that...cause, well, this is my life. So, Andrew was diagnosed when he was about 5 with ADHD. He has been on a couple different meds which seemed to help with some of the behaviors but not all of his behaviors fit with the ADHD diagnosis. As he grew up I called him my 'absentminded professor', he was obviously smart, good sense of humor, seemed to do ok with change, but would over focus on things he was really interested in and could talk your ear off about certain things he would learn about. His language developed fine but not so his math abilities. So, when we moved him up here we knew we would have some transistion problems but nothing like what we encountered. We had a group of professionals telling us yes, he's depressed, and obviously has ADHD but your not doing enough at home, he's not doing enough at school....basically, he's lazy and unmotivated, your a horrible parent - get your act together. We requested more testing, an appt with the school psychologist and were told (by the school psych) that B did not merit any further testing, no special education services because his literacy scores were to high. Whatever! Things did not go well at all. B was disrespectful, rude, stole things, hugely disobedient, and lied about multiple things. Remember, at this time we only had an ADHD diagnosis, nothing else. None of us had heard of Asperger's yet...

B ended up moving back down to Fresno to live with Grandma. Mom got him into school down here and they settled in for the long haul. It wasn't long before more behaviors started showing up. Wild storytelling, writing his stories in class instead of paying attention, yada and yada. So, he ended up getting a first class ticket to see the school psychologist. Finally! Someone was paying attention.

If you have hung in so far, good for you - cause the payoff is coming soon! :o) Mrs. M, the school psychologist, was wonderful. She spent time with B, took him through different tests, had meetings with my mother and B and his teachers, she will forever be on the top of my "I love you so much - Thank you for paying attention" list. Score! At the last Parent-Teacher meeting, she had an new area for us to explore - big drum roll here- ASPERGER'S SYNDROME..... Now, while I know that as a parent you never want there to be something wrong with your baby, when there is something that makes your baby so obviously different than other kids (to you anyway), you get rather excited when there is something that actually explains all the differences and the odd reactions, and the funny way he has of looking of at and thinking about things, and so much more. If you have never read about Aperger's I recommend you do. It is quite fascinating - and as my mother and I and B and J read all about AS and the behaviors associated with AS - we were all quite blown away.

J and I made the difficult decision to move to California so we could help my Mom and B. I was under no illusions (or so I thought) that things were going to be easy; I never knew they were going to be as difficult as they have been.

AS will never go away - you learn to live with it. And there are a lot of people with AS that are living quite successfully. Our household is NOT a shining picture of domestic bliss at this time. B has to be dragged, kicking and screaming, to get him to do anything. Apparently, we don't have enough authority to change the rules in his head.


So, that is the short version *snort* of the back story. B has been seing a counselor regularly since the beginning of the year. B's official state diagnosis is severe depression (the state won't cover treatment for AS because it is not a mental illness). His counselor is going to refer him to a program that will teach life skills and social skills; help him re-wire his thinking and adjust the rules in his head so they are more socially acceptable.

Time for bed; more later