Posts Tagged ‘parenthood’

Last Friday we got our Autism diagnosis for Harvie.  Now, we have full plan in place with a team of amazing people to help Harvie become her best self, whatever that may be.  The initial IEP meeting very long, but very productive.  There were thirteen people in the meeting, in person and virtually.  We discussed Harvie’s many strengths, her areas of recent growth (credit to Soda City Peace of Mind, Team Therapy, Keekie, Mommy and Daddy), and areas of concern that will be our focus.  Currently, speech is a major concern because although she has a vast vocabulary for a child her age, she doesn’t use it pragmatically to communicate.  She also has some challenges with fine motor skills and some executive functioning. 

Beginning Monday, she will receive thirty minutes of resource with a special ed teacher at Brennan.  That will be in addition to the hour Monday through Thursday that she works with Mrs. Mary at Peace of Mind.  She will have Speech therapy twice on Tuesdays, once at 8:00 with Ms. Kathleen at Team Therapy and then again for 30 thirty minutes with Mrs. Ross at Brennan.  On Wednesdays, she has occupational therapy with Ms. Tonya at Team Therapy.  She will also receive thirty minutes with Mrs. Penland at Brennan, but we’re still working the time and day for that one.  On Thursdays she has PT with Ms. Sophie at Team Therapy to focus on her in-toeing (pigeon toes) and “W” sitting. She doesn’t not warrant services in PT from Richland One because she can ambulate safely on school property.  Friday, she just gets to chill with Keekie, my sister, Kelli, all day!

Her goals are attainable, and as her OT evaluator said, Harvie is so smart that we will probably have to revisit more than once a year to set new ones.  Since she started her sessions at Team Therapy and her work with Peace of Mind, she has made huge improvements. Her outbursts fewer and shorter. She’s using multi-word sentences sometimes.   She is sitting for lessons more readily.  She is greeting people she knows without prompts, “Hi, Mommy!”  “Hi, Kristie!”  Our current “wants” for her as parents are to be able to clothe herself (she can disrobe in under 3 seconds, so I think this is more of a compliance than ability issue), color/write more frequently, sit for lessons without argument or interruptions, try new foods more regularly, communicate verbally more effectively, and comply without tantruming.  She is working hard at each of her current sessions, so after some transition adjustments, we are looking forward to more growth with these additional caregivers in her life. 

Because Harvie began reading at the age of two, she is technically considered a savant, which is kinda cool.  This ability is a great tool for her caregivers because she can read and comprehend what they are asking or telling.  We employ a notecard strategy in all areas.  It is especially helpful to capture her attention.  I just say, “I have a note!” and she comes over to read it.  It really is pretty amazing every time you see this tiny girl reading cursive or upside down, reading multisyllabic words.  It is a hindrance at the grocery stores and Target as she can read where the candy and toys are. I have to be pretty circuitous in my trek through the stores!

I am sharing as much as I can with everyone so people who have kids they aren’t sure about or might feel some sort of shame or guilt over won’t feel so discouraged.  I told someone the other day that my daughter had just been diagnoses as autistic, and she said, “Oh, I’m sorry.”  I said, “Why? There’s nothing to be sorry about.” It’s just a fact and now we do all the things we can to make her journey in life as uncomplicated as we can.  She is very high-functioning and with all of the early interventions everyone is confident that she’ll make gains to surpass her peers.  Personally, I feel like the language issues are the biggest hindrances.  Also, getting through the threes!  She has a lot of personality; she is silly and funny.  She loves a good snuggle.  Her favorite “show” to watch is me playing Trivia Quest or Triviaverse on Netflix.  Little weirdo.  She loves music, so we’d really like to get her behavior and compliance to a point where she’ll follow instructions and listen so that she can take piano lessons in a few years, and maybe play soccer. She LOVES being outside and anything to do with the water. She seems to have gotten over the waterboarding after the laundry pod incident, so we’d really love to get her more into swimming again. 

We are very open to discussing Harvie with other parents who might have questions, and we are open to hearing others’ stories. If you see an interesting article about autism, forward it or tag us!  What we aren’t open to is someone with no experience, expertise, education, or position telling us what we “should do”.  Harvie’s various sessions aren’t cheap, but she is priceless to us, and we’ll do whatever it takes at whatever cost.  She is our whole world. I think about how her life could be so different in the wrong people had been her parents.  I am so humbled and overjoyed that God or fate or the Universe saw fit to bless us with this great gift who is hard-headed, hilarious, kind, willful, and brilliant because we were the only parents for her.  Tabby, our birth mom, after we met used to always say, “Kim, this is y’all’s baby. I really think now that I found you, God (and I am not a big religious person mind you) sent this baby for me to carry for you because you can’t.  I know you’re her mom”. Now, I am sure part of thinking that was making her already unimaginably hard decision a bit easier for her, but I do think she believed it, and I do, too. 

In addition to these amazing people, the rest of Harvie’s village always steps up. Her Aunt Keekie is her number 1 supporter after her mom and dad. My sister is always there for Harvie, and Harvie ADORES her. Keekie’s daughter, Claire, is also a babysitter if Keekie is unavailable or we want someone to watch Harvie at our house. There are only a handful of people we feel comfortable leaving Harvie with because we trust that they know her well enough to understand her needs. My friends, Amy Jo and Jill are both moms, both patient, and both loving. I would trust Harvie in their care completely. Her godmother, Annie, is another. Unfortunately, she lives out of town, and we don’t see her as often as we’d like. It’s a small circle, but it’s 100% reliable. With her care professionals and her “framily”, we have no doubts that Harvie will excel.

If you want to know how you can help us or others, do this:

When you see a mom in the grocery store and her child is throwing a fit, offer her some grace.  Don’t judge her. Don’t judge that child.  Sometimes, there are underlying reasons.

Don’t make assumptions about children’s abilities.

Learn about autism, especially if someone you spend a lot of time with is autistic. Literally every autistic person is different from the next. They are so unique and specific!

When you see child in his or her pajamas, or superman costume or princess dress, just know that might be the only way the parents were able to leave the house that day.

If your friends’ daughter only wants to eat waffles for every meal, don’t judge.  So did Eleven in Stranger Things, and look what she can do.

If you see an older toddler with a pacifier, keep your opinions to yourself.  Be glad they have it otherwise you’d be witnessing a meltdown in Aisle 4.

Understand that how we make decisions now is completely impacted by what is best for her – can’t make brunch, can’t take her to a movie, gotta change jobs, gotta work extra jobs. ALL decisions are about her.

Read Full Post »

Most girls are told that when they begin their periods, they are becoming a woman.  After school specials and Kotex ads depict this as an amazing time in a girl’s life.  As girls, some of us are super excited to start and are jealous of our friends who “get” theirs before we do.  Some girls are scared.  I was apathetic.  It just seemed like another inconvenience to suffer through along with the damnable bras. My gramma always like to be prepared, and as a child of the Depression, she tended to prepare for the worst.

When I turned 11 or 12, Gramma sat me down and said, “Kim, you’ll be starting your period soon, so we should probably buy a few things to be ready”.  So, we did.  She bought a pack of GIANT Kotex and showed me how to peel the paper off, put them in my undies, and how to dispose of them properly.  We discussed other aspects of feminine hygiene, what to do if I spotted my underwear or pants.  All the stuff you love discussing with your parents.

At the same time, I somehow came into possession of a wooden trunk.  I think her brother got it at an auction or something and let me know have it.  I spent HOURS getting this trunk to look the way I wanted it to.  Painted it a minty green.  Bought contact paper with little flowers on it to put on the raised wooden edges.  Ok, this next part is weird, and I don’t know why I did it or thought it would look good, but I got a BUNCH of Food Town bumper stickers (this was before it became Food Lion) that were blue and yellow, like BRIGHT ASS blue and yellow. There was some slogan that was put into an anagram, so it was just a string of letters.  I completely covered the inside lid of the chest with those.  I thought it was so fucking cool.  Only the good Lord knows where I got that idea from.  So, I called this my Hope Chest.  I had read some book about a girl with a hope chest full of all of these things she’d need to carry her forward into adulthood.  VERY EXCITED about my Hope Chest.  I put a couple of things in it that I would obviously need as an adult one day: a rainbow candle – half melted, a couple of plates Gramma was getting rid of, and a like a can of soup or something –obvious necessities. This was not the first time I had done this – prepared for the future. I used to lug around and old suitcase full of my important treasures of the times: Tiger Beat mags, a Shaun Cassidy 45 of Da Doo Run Run, a lot of paper and pens, some Judy Blume books, a can of soup and a can opener, as well as other items of obvious import.

OK, you needed that back story to get to this part of the story.  We didn’t have a car growing up; I might have mentioned that in other blogs, so we walked or took public transportation everywhere.  We did most of our grocery shopping at Winn Dixie and Food Town (duh). I mentioned how my grandmother liked to be prepared and was a bit of a stockpiler/prepper before it was the Republican Rage.  After we had THE TALK, each and every time we went to the grocery store for our weekly shopping, Gramma would buy some sort of feminine product.  I mean I had them all: light, heavy, super, liners, with things, every brand – “So you can decide which you like best”.

 Me: “I’m pretty sure I’m not gonna like any of this”. 

“Watch the smart mouth”

One day she came in my room and there was just a pile of seven or eight packs on the floor by my closet. “Put those away.  They shouldn’t just be all over the place.”

“There’s no room in the bathroom,” I informed her.

“Well stick them in that hope chest of yours,” she ordered.

I sucked in my breath a little louder than I thought.  That was my treasure, my vessel for all my grown up treasures!  I didn’t want to put stupid PADS in there!   My gramma didn’t suggest. This was a directive as expected to be followed as if she were the commander in a field of battle.   So I mutter a yes ma’am and she left the room.  Well I didn’t do it. I decided I was going to pretend to forget.  That didn’t work.  Gramma just went in my room when she bought the next batch and put them all in there.  I would not have DREAMED of taking them out.  So, as the weeks went by the chest got full.  To this day, I am 100% certain that the cashiers of the Winn Dixie thought I had some life threatening uterine condition that required me to wear 50 pads a week.  Finally, one day she decided our pad levels were acceptable and slowed down buying them.  How many did we have you may be asking yourself.  Enough.  Just enough.

Lo and Behold, I’m in 7th grade, and one night I go to bed with a “stomach ache”.  I mean, I had no idea what menstrual cramps felt like, so I had no idea this was the start of “being a woman” ( cute butterflies and summer meadows with some flute music).  That morning when I woke up and saw a red spot, I put on clean undies, stuck one of those pads in, rinsed out the undies and tossed them in the dryer.  I continued this process as you do. I didn’t tell anyone.  Why did I need to?  Gramma had explained everything. I had 7,239,672 packs of pads, and I did my own laundry. 

Finally, one day I ran out of pads.  I went to Gramma and told her that she needed to add pads to the grocery list. “Why?” she asked.

“Because I am out”

“WHAT?!  How the hell are you out?  What did you do with all of those pads?” She yelled.  I can see she was getting mad at me.  I couldn’t figure it out.

“I used them?” I asked more than answered.

“On what?”

“For my period!”

“Jesus Christ, you had enough to last forever!” 

Well, it turns out I only had enough to last about 8 months, because that’s about how long I had been on period and never told her.  She was stunned that I never said anything.  “Aw, Kimmy, why didn’t you tell me? I ‘m so sorry.  I would have helped you!”

“Help me with what?  You told me what it was. I had all those pads.  I was fine. I might need some new underwear, though.” 

Today, I too am a preparer and a planner, a stockpiler of all sorts.  THE HOBB (my gramma) trained me to be prepared and self-sufficient.  Sometimes I am little too independent, a little too unlikely to ask for help or appear needy, but I can take care of myself and others thanks to those skills.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: