Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Posts Tagged ‘spectrummy daddy

A Father’s Anger (guest post by Spectrummy Daddy)

with 16 comments

I haven’t written about this, because I’ve been too hurt, too indignant, but most of all just too weary.  Spectrummy Daddy, however, has settled on angry, and he’ll tell you why.  Please note that LLG (lovely little girl) is another pseudonym for Pudding….

Recently, we’ve tried to find a school that will take Lovely Little Girl.  It can be difficult, but there are numerous remedial schools that have fine reputations here in Johannesburg who aim to mainstream their students.  That’s what we’re looking for, a place that will take her, and help move her to a normal school.  It’s one of the problems we have: Schools won’t take her because she’s only been involved in Autism centered programs, but she can’t get in to a school to give her the chance.  It’s a vicious cycle.

So when we got an appointment with one of these remedial schools and they said they’d take her on a trial for 3 days, I was excited but also a little scared.  3 days isn’t long for someone who isn’t on the spectrum to get acquainted with new surroundings.  Heck, I take at least a week, and I’m purportedly neurotypical.  Still, it was a chance to get going and maybe have her ready for a new school next year.  We didn’t prepare her as well as we should have, but sometimes it is better to have her at her worst to make sure the school knows what they’re getting.  Usually, though, in a new environment LLG is a bit timid at the beginning.  I was hoping she would steal the hearts of the teachers and they would say how excited they were to have her coming the next year.

It wasn’t to be.  They had her for 3 days (actually 2 1/2) and called afterwards to tell us that they couldn’t provide for her, and we should try an autism only school.  Never mind that everyone that has ever had my lovely daughter in a class or therapy tells us that she is a prime example of a child that would blossom with mainstream schooling.  Never mind that you really can’t tell anything from 2 1/2 days of school observation.  Never mind that they used words that showed they were fixated on her being on the autism spectrum.  No, they couldn’t help her.

You know what?  If they truly didn’t have the ability to help my daughter, then I would be ok with that.  I’m not going to force them to take her when it wouldn’t be beneficial to do so.  I have her needs to look out for as well.  What really steams me is that it appears that they didn’t even try.  2 1/2 days doesn’t tell you anything about my lovely daughter.  They said she went on “elopement” during her first day to go and jump on the trampoline.  That’s a particularly “autistic” phrase.  My question is: Did you tell her it wasn’t time to jump on the trampoline, or did you leave her out there to continue jumping?  Did you lay out the rules for jumping on the trampoline?  How many kindergarten children, seeing a trampoline at school, would not go and try to jump on it?  But, because my daughter has autism you assume that she just does her own thing and can’t be told to come join the circle?  REALLY?!?!?

Also, the fact that it was only 2 1/2 days.  That’s all they gave her.  She doesn’t come out of her shell until at least day 3, and even then it’s only a little bit.  New school environment, new teachers, what little kid wouldn’t be a little off.  Heck, I remember crying for my mother when I went to Kindergarten, and she worked in the same school!  (I was a bit of a wuss.)

The worst part is, my daughter loved it there.  She talked about her new school, and cried when we took her back to the school we have her in.  That’s what upsets me the most.  That my wife and I had to tell her that she couldn’t go back to the new school, because it wasn’t to be.  I’ve promised myself that no one will ever tell Lovely Little Girl that she can’t do something because of her autism.  If she wants to be a writer, painter, philosopher, activist or even a mother, no one can tell her no.  She will do what she wants to do, all they need to do is give her a chance.  This school effectively said she couldn’t handle the work they do there, and that we need to lower our expectations.

My response is that my daughter probably would have gotten bored at their school because she is probably smarter than the teachers, and we need to find a place to help stimulate her mind to reach its full potential.  While she needs work on some things (like not poking someone in the chest who wears a Hello Kitty shirt as a way of greeting) in others she’s fine.  Heck, I can’t do lenticular puzzles, but she does them in less than 10 minutes.  She’s already figured out how to use skeleton keys and how to get things from locked rooms without getting caught.  My trouble is making sure she uses her powers for good and not evil.

We’ll find a school to take care of her.  I know we will.  But this lack of trying by a school whose job it is to help those who need help the most still bothers me.  Hopefully I’ll get over it, and one day maybe LLG will use this as the starting point from her speech she gives when she graduates from University at the top of her class.  Even if she never reaches that point, I’ll still always believe she can.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

March 22, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Conversation, not Incrimination

with 5 comments

I was sitting in Cubby’s room about an hour ago while he went to sleep. With Pudding home at the same time, this is always a challenge. He fights a nap, and the slightest sound will have him up and out of bed. Pudding…well, let’s just say that the noise she makes isn’t slight at all.

She was downstairs for now, and I wasn’t quite sure what she was up to, but the lesser of two evils would be having one of them asleep so I could focus on the other one (and perhaps clean up any mess).

She came to the door, and I made the non-verbal sign for “shh” by placing my finger over my lips. Pudding knows what this means, and imitates the gesture. She doesn’t always comply, but on this occasion she did, walking a few steps away before making noise.

She then decides to go back downstairs, and Cubby’s eyes close as he continues to stroke his hair. He is close to sleep now.

The phone rings, and his eyes flicker open. Damn. I stay where I am, choosing to ignore him. He is so close to sleep. It stops ringing. Then starts again. I hear Pudding come up the stairs, and I know she has answered it, though I can’t hear the conversation.

Remarkably, there is a conversation.

A few moments later she goes back downstairs and I steal out of the room as soon as I think Cubby has fallen asleep. I find a missed call from Spectrummy Daddy and he tells me he was calling to let me know he was on his way back from a meeting in Soweto. Then he details the conversation.

Pudding (picking up the phone): Hello?

Daddy: Hello Pudding!

Pudding: I’m talking to Daddy!

Daddy: Yes…where is Mummy?

Pudding: She’s putting Cubby to sleep.

Daddy: Oh, okay.

Pudding: Cubby went on the potty for a skittle.*

Daddy: Good for him! Now, Pudding, hang up the phone…bye bye.

Pudding: Bye-bye Daddy (hangs up the phone).

*This part didn’t happen exactly as she tells it.

We are working on a system where Cubby gets a reward (skittle) for using the potty, but he is only interested intermittently. When he feels like a skittle, he uses the potty, but let’s just say he isn’t exactly responding as well as his sister did to this method, where “potty for skittle” was the bargaining tool she used whenever she wanted to go to the bathroom.

Eventually we faded out the treats as she became fully potty-trained. But Pudding does not appreciate her brother being rewarded for something that she isn’t (and vice versa, I might add). So now when she goes to the bathroom, we’re back to the demands for treats, and no amount of explaining convinces her that she doesn’t need one.

Now what did happen….

Pudding was downstairs and went to the bathroom. I wasn’t around, so she went upstairs to request her skittle. As mentioned, I motioned for her to be quiet, and she returned downstairs, to go to the kitchen, move a chair to get into the treat cupboard, help herself to (one? several?) the skittles, and was probably disturbed by the phone ringing before she ate the entire packet. Telling Daddy that was only going to get her into trouble, and she knew it.

But, hey, check out my girl’s telephone manner!

Smart kid that one: conversation is an essential skill, but not incriminating oneself is even more useful.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

December 30, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Pressure (by Spectrummy Daddy)

with 3 comments

Pudding, Spectrummy Daddy & Cubby

Spectrummy Mummy thought I did a decent job with my last post, and didn’t scare off too many of her readers, so she said I could do it again.  I thought I’d do one on something we can all understand: Pressure.

You see, all parents have pressure that they deal with in bringing up their kids.  Are they eating enough?  Are they sleeping enough?  Are they wearing warm enough clothing?  Why are they sniffling so much?  And should that be that color green?  These are things all parents think about, and worry about, constantly.  The pressure of knowing you have the life of a helpless child in your hands.  Honestly, we threw a birthday party for Pudding when she turned one not only to celebrate her birth, but to celebrate that she was healthy and we hadn’t done anything too stupid yet.  Then, the pressure gets greater.  Are they walking on time?  Have they started speaking on time?  Is it appropriate language?  Should they be playing properly with other kids by now?  How soon should they know their numbers, letters, shapes and colors?  It’s all so terribly hard.  And it just keeps getting harder when they start school.

Now Spectrummy Daddy, I know there is a point somewhere in this diatribe.  Can you skip to the end? Sure thing.  If you’re reading this, you’re probably feeling this pressure, and much more.  Being the parent of a special needs child (whether on the autism spectrum or other special needs) is always going to be filled with more pressure.  You see, we have so much more we have to deal with, and naturally that pressure is going to build up inside.  What if we can’t afford all of the proper treatments that my child needs?  What if money starts to be a problem?  Am I doing enough for my child and my family?  And then if you go out to dinner with the family, what happens if there is a melt-down?  What do we need to do to keep the kids occupied?  That’s something that Spectrummy Mummy and I deal with when we go out with Pudding and Cubby all the time.  We also realize how easy we have it.  Pressure of this kind can break you, and it can wear you down.  I’ve seen it with the best of them, and I know it’s happened to me.

Remember, kind reader, that you need some time for you.  Don’t feel guilty about leaving the kids with the sitter so that you can get out.  If you’re married, go on a date with your spouse.  See a movie, and get out of the house once in a while.  Everyone needs to re-charge their batteries, and you’re no exception.  Hopefully you’ll be a bit happier, and a little more healthy as well.

One last thing on pressure. It’s not always a bad thing.  Pressure changes coal to diamonds.  Pressure cookers allow food to be prepared faster.  “Pressure Drop” by The Specials and “Under Pressure” by Queen are great songs.  Pressure from a hug helps to calm my little Pudding sometimes, and pressure is what helps us make advances in understanding autism, how it works, and how we can better prepare our children for the world outside without losing what makes them unique.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

September 30, 2010 at 6:35 am