Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Posts Tagged ‘adhd

Letting Kids Be Kids

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You’ll have to forgive my mood in this post.  I have a particularly nasty chest infection.  It hurts when I move, laugh, talk, or- you know- breathe.  Pudding is also home ill with tonsillitis.  She complained about her head hurting at the weekend, and took an extraordinary (for her) five hour nap on Sunday, but since we visited the doctors and got her medicine, she seems back to herself.

With one exception.

Because she had a fever, we didn’t give her her usual medication for ADHD.  Sometimes Pudding is doing so well, I forget what a vital component medication has been for her.  Then we take a break, and I remember.

I remember Pudding before she was five, with a body and brain that seemed to be in overdrive.  And now, even though she is ill, it is just the same.  Her body can’t get the rest she needs to recover.  Her brain is seeking stimulation that she just can’t handle at the moment.  She needs to rest, and that is the one thing she can’t do.

I never wanted to put Pudding on medication.  I looked in vain for another way.  We tried a few ADHD treatments where we felt the side effects were worse than the results, and then made a last-ditch attempt before giving up.  Her particular chemistry found the right match, and the hyperactivity reduced considerably.  It isn’t perfect, she still struggles greatly with attention, but her engine isn’t in overdrive any more, and slowing down just a little has helped her in every possible way.

Honestly, I don’t know if the child who couldn’t sit for even 20 seconds would have been welcomed into a mainstream class.  I’m not sure if the child who skipped through books so quickly that every single one we owned was torn from its bindings would have ever slowed down enough to learn to read, or write.  I know that she finds it easier to get through her various therapies now.  I know that she is able to learn now.  And play.  And swim.  And do all the other things that kids can do.

She may have made this progress anyway, but seeing her these last couple of days makes me think it would have been slower, and harder.  The faster her wheels spin, the deeper she sinks into a rut.

I’m not saying that medication is for every child- far from it.  Stimulants were terrible for Pudding, and a spectrum child seems far more likely to have atypical side effects.  I still want to be the idealist mother who could find another way.  But I know we made the right choice for our kid.  I know that she is happier, feels better, when she can calm herself.

So what really ticks me off, is when I read yet another unscientific article about how ADHD (and sometimes ASD) is a construct of our times.  Sometimes people actually send me these articles, wanting to help, I suppose, but doing quite the opposite.  I can think of a dozen other ways to help other than telling me I’m doing it wrong.  Sometimes I read, sometimes I just delete.  They always read the same.  Parents and doctors don’t let kids be kids, and if we just let our children play outside, or kept them off candy/ computers/ TV, or gave them the right diet/ vitamin/ parental attention they would be fine.  Let kids be kids, and don’t turn them into zombies!

When the truth is- I just want to let my kid to be a kid, that is all I’ve ever wanted.  This is one of many ways I help her to do just that.  I wouldn’t even care about how exhausting her condition is for me, if it wasn’t even worse for her.  There is no magic pill, but if there is something that helps her, perhaps even reduces the risk of harm coming to her, I’m going to keep on doing it.

And if there is anyone who thinks Pudding’s ADHD or her autism aren’t for real….well, they’re more than welcome to come here and get a dose of reality.  Because much as it hurts at the moment to chase around a child who can’t keep herself out of harm, it hurts a whole lot more to be judged for doing it as well as I can.

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Written by Spectrummy Mummy

May 21, 2013 at 12:39 pm

Dancing Teapots

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I decided to take the kids out for an early dinner.  Today is one of those perfect Jozi spring days.  The Jacarandas are blossoming, but they’re not quite at their vibrant peak yet.  On a Friday afternoon sitting outdoors at a cafe in Sandton, you could be in Europe, only with better weather.  This is an unexpected treat for us all.  I was supposed to be having dental treatment, but the water was out- sometimes water and power outages are the only sign that this is still a developing country.  Developing being the right word, for all its economic slump, there is a lot of construction going on here, and sometimes the wrong pipe gets hit.

I sipped at my capuccino with cream, and enjoyed the moment of perfection, knowing it couldn’t last for long.

Pudding was content.  She’d had the Halloween Parade at school, which she’d loved.  She ordered herself a bacon and avocado sandwich and apple juice by herself.  Yes, it is the same thing she always ordered, but I’m pretty sure it is exactly what she feels like eating.  She isn’t just doing okay, she is doing really, really well lately.  She seems more comfortable in her own skin than I’ve ever seen.  The wind picked up and she turned her face to it, enjoying the caress to her skin.

Cubby was out of sorts.  I knew he hadn’t napped, and was too hungry and too tired to know what was wrong.  Normally very expressive, he was down to grunts and shouts.  He couldn’t decide what to eat, even if he wanted to eat.  A siren in the distance hurt his ears.  He was in and out of his chair.  Putting his hands in his drink and smearing it over the table.  Then he began playing with his spit when the drink was confiscated.  Finally he turned to tormenting his sister for entertainment.  The wind picked up, and he shrieked in pain as it whipped at his skin.

Watching the two of them was a study in contrasts.  Pudding, at peace; Cubby intent on disturbing it.  This was her two or three years ago.  This disorder and chaos.  Feeling something was wrong, and not knowing how to put it right.  How far she has come.

Then I let my mind wander further back.  I remember holding infant Pudding.  Apart from when she was nursing, (which I naturally did a LOT) she was screaming.  Arching her back, red-faced, furious at me for not fixing what was wrong.  And I’d go through everything I thought I knew about babies, wondering what I must have missed to make her thrash around like this.  She pulled at my hair in her rage.  The screaming made my head throb, and I wanted to run away from this tiny creature who put all her trust in me.  And though I wanted to shout and scream, I pulled her in closer, and kissed her downy head, and held her until we breathed together, just rocking and kissing, until the screaming was done.

I picked up Cubby and cradled him.  He resisted at first- pushed away, then caved in.  His floppy body curled into mine and I kissed his face.  “I’m a baby.”  He said, like he does so often.  I didn’t correct him this time.  I kissed his fingers and his arms.  He twirled his hands through my hair, just like his sister always had.  I kiss the soft nape, and when I close my eyes, I forget where I am, or when I am.  It doesn’t matter- I am mothering instinctively.

Three year-olds can only be held for so long, so I release him, and he dances for a while- trying to catch the eye of the waiting staff.  I turn back to Pudding, with her wry, contented smile.  I see what’s catching her eye: some paper teapots attached to the ceiling are fluttering in the breeze.  “Dancing teapots”, I say out loud.  “Dancing teapots”, she echoes.  We watch them together, and her hand creeps up into my hair, but in comfort, not in rage.

In that moment of calm, I feel all the many joys she has brought me.  All the dancing tea cups that I would otherwise have missed.  I know, if I have to, I can do it all over again.  Even if I still feel more rookie than veteran.  We’ll grow, and develop, and get there together.

Googling

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Hello Kitty

Hello Kitty (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Given that we’re a blogging family, (yes, Spectrummy Daddy blogs too, and you can read his side of the story >here<) and I’ve written not one, but two posts about Google, it is only natural that sooner or later our kids would get in on the act.  Pudding has learned to google.

We’re in the throes of some pretty cool development here in Spectrummy house.  Our girl is doing very well at the moment, in lots of different ways.  I’ll get around to telling you about it.

First things first: googling.  I have to say, by the way, I kind of love how I get autocorrected all the time for my British spellings, but the dictionary has no qualms with “googling.”  Not bad, Google.  I mean, you don’t go around altavistaing, do you?

You know what is hard to google?  Google.  It just brings you back around in circles.  Kind of reminds me of conversations with Pudding.  Or my own thought processes.  Where was I?

Oh yes, google.

I was trying to type a post for you the other day, when Pudding came up to the computer and told me, “You want Hello Kitty.”  Sometimes it is hard to know if she is inverting her pronouns, or trying some kind of hypnotism on me.  I believe either to be equally possible.

So I told her that if she wanted Hello Kitty, she’d have to do it herself.  She knows how to write the words, but writing is a struggle with her fine motor delays.  I thought I’d introduce her to typing as an alternative way of writing words.

So she typed “hello” and I showed her that she must press the space bar between words, and then she typed “kitty” and I showed her the return key.  And as soon as I let her hit that key, I realized my mistake.  Because now she can do it without help.  Which means that we’ll have to password protect the computer or reinvent the internet without stuff unsuitable for five year-olds.  Yep.

Now, because Pudding was already handy with a mouse, she figured out google images, and her newest favourite thing to do is to click through these images describing them as, “Pudding’s Hello Kitty T-Shirt”, or “Pudding’s Hello Kitty toaster.”  It would be nice if there wasn’t also Hello Kitty tattoos, cars, and houses.  Yes, houses.  I guess Pudding’s decided on our next move, and I’m going to assume it is on a whole new continent.  I shouldn’t even worry about her struggling with chopsticks, because there are Hello Kitty training ones.

On the bright side, I haven’t yet encountered anything too inappropriate attached to the Sanrio brand.  In fact, I even saw Pudding googling other things today, like her school.  This is a whole new world that is opening up to her.  I just wish we were ready for the one that we’re already living in.  Still, if it all gets too much, and I don’t know what to do…I can always google for help.  It has worked out for us so far!

 

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

August 18, 2012 at 8:28 pm

Wrong Number

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I keep getting calls on my work cell (mobile) phone for my predecessor, but the person calling doesn’t understand English, or the version of it that I speak.  During last week’s hectic preparations, I kept getting call after call disturbing me.  The person on the other end didn’t respond, and I became more and more exasperated.  In the end I took to saying “wrong number” and hanging up.

At breakfast on Saturday morning, those calls started again.  Eventually I gave the phone to Spectrummy Daddy who told them they had the wrong number and they listened and stopped calling.  Just like that.  Obviously they understand American, not English.

The kids are very interested in phone calls.  We usually use skype to talk to our families, and the kids can see who they are talking to, which makes them happy.  With phone calls, they have to know who is on the other end of the line.  Sometimes it is impossible to actually have a conversation because of the incessant questions from both Pudding and Cubby about who I am talking to and what they are saying.

Saturday morning was no different.

Cubby:Mummy, who was talking on the phone?

Me: Wrong number.

Cubby: Was it number six or seven?

Me: (laughing) No, it was just that somebody called the wrong number.

Cubby: Who is called the wrong number?  Is it number eight?

No longer at sixes and sevens, we know it is number 8, with her curves in all the right places!  We’re on to you and how wrong you are.  You’d think after a few years at this that I’d have learned to speak more literally, but I’m still learning.

Yep, our lines are definitely crossed!

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

August 13, 2012 at 6:05 am

Juggling

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…I’m humbled by your ability to juggle…

…you’re obviously skilled at finding balance in your life…

…am in awe of your ability to handle so much at once…

These were comments on a recent post.  You know- the one with Hillary Clinton.  Yes, I’ll keep name-dropping, because it is now years since Hugh Grant smiled at me, and I need to bump up the star quality of this blog.

The last couple of weeks have indeed been just like a circus.  But I can’t juggle.  When I try to walk the tightrope, it becomes clear there is no balance.  You might think otherwise, because you don’t know what happened last week.  So I’ll tell you…

Last Saturday, there were two very important meetings that both Spectrummy Daddy and I had to attend.  There was nobody to take care of the kids, so I took them into work with me.  I’ve done this before, and the kds are usually happy there.  I have a TV and DVD player in my office for some reason, so that and playing with office supplies is generally enough to keep them occupied.

We bought some ready meals from the supermarket that we could heat at work for lunch.  The kids food was allergy-safe. but mine contained cashew nuts.  And because I had so many balls in the air, and my eyes were on those, I didn’t see until too late that Pudding had reached across to my food, scooped a tiny bit of sauce and stuck the finger in her mouth.

It was the first time she’d ever actually consumed cashew nuts.  Her allergy readings are from RAST tests.  Her face started to go red, and Spectrummy Daddy ran to get the epi-pen.  By the time he got back her eyes were swelling closed, and she’d got hives all over her face.

Her breathing was still normal though, and her lips and tongue didn’t seem swollen.  I held off on using the epi-pen, but her reaction was fast and serious, so I grabbed her and drove straight to the hospital.

It would be an entirely different post to write about how awful the hospital experience was for an already overloaded child who hadn’t been prepared to go there.  I was terrified, and I lost my mind.  When asked who her doctor was, I gave them the name of the pediatrician she had in Luxembourg when she was first born.  The one who told me that she “loves herself like a kitten” when I tried to question some of Pudding’s puzzling behavior.

The nurse asked if she had any other conditions.  I knew they were unlikely to have heard of Asperger’s, so I went straight to Autism.  And no, she hadn’t heard of that either.  Or ADHD.  At this point the doctor from the Consulate called and asked if I needed him to come.  Yes, I did.

They quickly administered an anti-histamine injection and oral steroids.  Her vitals were all normal, she never developed anaphylaxis…this time.  She responded immediately to the medication, and I took a photo to reassure Spectrummy Daddy, only I was shaking so hard I couldn’t manage to actually send it to him.

Image

In fact, 30 minutes later, we were free to go.  I was still shaking, but relieved.  As we drove back I remembered that I’d missed the meeting, and I’d left Cubby with Spectrummy Daddy.

It wasn’t so much that I felt the balls dropping, as I looked down and realized they were already on the floor.

I’ve had a whole week now, before writing this.  Time for things to return to our version of normal.  Time to let the guilt ease away, and learn the lessons I need to instead.  Like always keeping her environment allergy-free.  Like if the circus comes to town again, I’d better fly in some carnies to help out.  And by carnies, I mean grandparents (in the nicest possible way)!

Perhaps some mothers can manage this juggling thing better than I can.  But in that hospital last week, I knew I was holding on to the most important thing, and I wasn’t going to let her go.  Let the other balls fall as they will.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

August 11, 2012 at 6:16 pm

Olympic Spirit

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“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”  The Olympic Creed.

So, have you been watching The Olympics?  I’m very glad not to be in London at the moment, but I have been watching my fair share of TV.  Unusual for me, because I’m so very not sporty that I can’t normally stand to watch any of The Olympics.

This year though, I’ve been paying much more attention.  I loved the esoteric opening ceremony.  We are proud of ourselves, and we don’t care what anyone else thinks…yes, my children are definitely part British.

Of course we support teams GB and USA, but we also have a soft spot for the other places we’ve lived.  When I watched all the athletes from all over the world, I thought of all the friends we have in far-flung places, and which of these bizarrely dressed nations I would one day call home.

In our house we are particularly rooting for Oscar Pistorius- a local South African athlete who challenges conceptions about disability.  He has a courage, strength and determination that I can already see germinating in my little ones.  Different challenges, same spirit.

We’ve been taking part in our own version of the Olympic Games.  Pudding is setting a world record in the naked trampolining event.  Then we invented a game with pool noodles, a rug, and two bean bags.  Essentially we just bash each other.  The adults can’t leave the rug, but the kids score by getting on there.  They can also sit in safety on the bean bag chair, but getting hit is too much fun to do that for long.  Cubby is a natural.

Sometimes we win just by taking part, our struggles are our triumphs, and we fight well even when we don’t conquer.  And sometimes it is just about hitting and being hit with a pool noodle until you all dissolve into giggles.  That is the kind of spirit that deserves some kind of medal, and I for one am going for gold.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

July 30, 2012 at 5:18 pm

I’m NOT Batman

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Far removed from the terrible tragedy in Colorado, and insensitive media speculation that managed to both diagnose an individual without having met him, and demonize those on the autism spectrum, Batman means something else in our home.

Cubby, like his daddy, has taken a shine to Batman.  He likes other superheroes too, and knows all the real names and those of the villains.  Spectrummy Daddy even made up a superhero story for Cubby, and his alter-ego, The Neme-Sis (get it?).

A few weeks ago Grandma sent him some Batman nightwear (complete with cape) and a Batman action figure.  Spectrummy Daddy couldn’t fit in the pajamas, so Cubby was allowed to keep those.  I’m perhaps married to the only diplomat with a Batman toy on his desk.  Then again, Spectrummy Daddy showed up to the consulate yesterday in his Batman shoes, so I shouldn’t be surprised.  Don’t worry, he doesn’t wear them to his meetings- he has his Batman cufflinks for those.

Because I’m nothing if not an enabler, I taught Cubby to say, “I’m Batman” in the trademark growl.  It is obscenely cute.  It doesn’t matter if he is decked up like the caped crusader- my blond-haired, blue-eyed little bundle of mischief doesn’t make for the most convincing Batman.

Yesterday morning was a hard one for Cubby.  He opened up his bottle of whine before 5am.  Finally Spectrummy Daddy had had enough, and deemed Cubby not fit to wear the pajamas he so covets.

“Batman doesn’t whine,” he told Cubby.

So our very own Bruce Wayne lifted off his pajama top, and patting his belly growled at his Daddy:

I’m NOT Batman.”

That was the first time I actually believed he could be The Dark Knight.

Today he told Daddy that he could his Robin.  I’m not sure where Pudding and I fit into his scenario, but at least I know that when life in our own version of Gotham City gets a bit too much for us, we can always escape to Wayne Manor with a certain billionaire philanthropist.  Hey, my boys aren’t the only ones who can fantasize!

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

July 28, 2012 at 1:01 pm