My turn! Dzintars Cers turned the tables and interviewed me about our journey with the Autism Spectrum Disorder. Enjoy!
On Tuesday, my daughter had dental surgery to pull four baby teeth that were in the way of her adult teeth coming in. We went to the pre-op the week before and she had been voicing a lot of nerves and anxiety around the whole procedure. After the pre-op appointment, those fears were gone…her biggest concern was that she wasn’t going to be able to eat breakfast the morning of her surgery. She even “warned” me that she would be eating more for the few days before her surgery to “make up” for not having breakfast that morning. 😉
The morning of her surgery, she was in great spirits. We had to check in an hour and a half before her surgery time so we read a book, she played with the other kids in the waitroom, and she was really proud when she built a “person” (the red at the bottom are the high heels – lol!) and a tree:
She was even in great spirits when she wrestled with her housecoat that was “attacking” her:
We even got to have some cuddles and kisses time:
I got to take her into the operating room, and be there with her, holding her hand while they put her to sleep. So hard to see her go to sleep but I just kept telling her how much I love her and that I’ll see her soon. When she was in the operating room, my man and I went across the street to grab me a Starbucks chai to try to help me calm a bit. She had chosen two stuffed animals to take into surgery with her, and of course I became “custodian” of them during the actual surgery so they came with us. Spike the dinosaur tried stealing my chai!
I was fine just reading my book while we were waiting (even remember what I was reading on each page!), but when that hour and a half mark came and went, and I hadn’t heard from hospital staff to go in to be there when she woke up, I started getting nervous. Shortly thereafter, her dentist came out and told me everything was fine and gave me her four cute little teeth…in a little treasure chest. Glamour, my daughter’s other stuffed animal of choice, decided to guard her teeth until she came out of surgery:
About 20mins later, while my man was trying to help me remain calm, they came out and told me it was time to go in. She looked so little in the recovery bed, but I could see her beautiful red hair from across the room…and her face was a bit swollen. Poor thing! They offered her a popsicle, and she discovered how yummy lime popsicles are.
After she woke up completely, they gave her some pain medicine, they wheeled her into the recovery room, where she got more popsicles…and my man got her some balloons for being such a trooper!
She fell asleep in the car on the way home, and again on the couch before bedtime, but not before more popsicles, Jello, chatting with neighbourhood kids, and even eating some solid foods. Yesterday, she even went to school because she missed her friends after the long weekend, and then being away for her surgery. She was an absolute superstar! I’m sssoooo proud of her!
Every year for the last 5 years, I fill out a “stress test” so “they” can get quantitative data about how stressed parents of kids with Autism are. This type of quantitative data is how “they” know that we apparently have the same stress level as soldiers coming back from war.
Every year, I get the results and I’ve gone from being in the 82nd percentile the first year to this year being in the 97th percentile of stress…go me! Every year, the assessor presenting me with the results promises to refer me to “additional resources” and every year, very little happens. Two years ago, they connected me with the staff counsellor and she was helpful in letting me know of the Disability Tax Credit which should have been dealt with every year by the accountant doing my taxes (needless to say, I had that fixed!).
Last week, I had an appt today which pleasantly shocked me. The Social Worker I was referred to based on last year’s stress test (late in the year) actually listened to my current and future concerns, my thrills (yes, I told her of cutting my son’s hair!), the roadblocks I experience, and my reservations, she actually took actionable notes AND booked an appt with me to give me all the outcomes she’ll be working on.
She even listened to my To Do lists, for both my son’s Autism diagnosis, and also my daughter’s new Anxiety Disorder diagnosis, which I’ll admit is overwhelming me. I “get” my son’s Autism (as much as I can, not being on the Spectrum myself) because it’s logical. Anxiety Disorder on the other hand, is a whole other kettle of fish. It’s emotionally-based, and I’m not good with my own emotions let alone be able to figure out someone else’s. I don’t “see” triggers yet that bring her anxiety to the surface. I hope I will one day, but until I do, I just keep learning, and accessing local resources the Social Worker will be putting me in touch with, as well as the ones I’m just waiting for the intake meetings to occur.
I went home and freaked out my man after meeting with the Social Worker because I walked in the door and cried because I was so happy. I actually felt like someone in the system is finally LISTENING and even more important is HELPING me, instead of just saying “well, you should do…” without giving out organization names or contact information. It also felt good to know that the “system” sometimes confuses her too, so she can only imagine what it’s like for parents of kids with Autism as we’re tired, burnt out and just trying to get through the day. So thank you Social Worker! I am truly looking forward to working with you!
In the past, school projects for my daughter have caused huge anxiety (perhaps because of her Anxiety Disorder…hmmm?). She gets scared of “doing it wrong” and makes herself sick anticipating she won’t finish it on time, when we had weeks to work on it, which would then result in her missing school a couple of days (she gets so sick, she gets a fever!) and handing it in late. Catch-22 situation.
Switching her from French Immersion to English earlier this year has helped a bit with the anxiety. Homework used to be HOURS each evening, and was like pulling teeth. I had to “tag team” with my man when frustrations for both my daughter and I ran really high. Poor guy doesn’t understand much French so he couldn’t help for long, but it gave me some time to calm down. Being in English programming at school now, I’ve been able to discover that she learns and retains information differently than I do. She’s very visual and audible when learning; I’ve visual and hands-on when learning.
We just finished a project that frankly, I was dreading…expecting the same battles between us. We started working on it on the weekend (was due yesterday). We had to research crocodiles so I pulled up the internet (remember in the good old days when we had to use the library?) and had her type in “crocodiles”, and she started panicking, crying and panicking. I couldn’t understand it. I asked her how we were going to research crocodiles if we didn’t start here…the library didn’t open for another 2 hours. She said she had already done the research. Pardon??! I asked her when? How? As it turns out, she had watched a couple programs about crocodiles on Youtube the week before. (Insert bad parenting moment here…I pay attention to what she watches but I don’t sit right beside her because usually she watches it while I’m making dinner so I casually glance over. Usually she watches videos about Barbies or dinosaurs. She must have been watching crocodiles when I glanced over and thought she was watching dinosaurs).
She had to include information in four categories: Characteristics, Food, Habitat, and Interesting Facts. So, I “tested” her by asking for information for each of these categories, and I was pleasantly surprised that she knew them…from the Youtube shows she had watched! I asked her how we were going to write it out. She suggested I write down the information in point form so she can copy onto the bristle board that had been provided by her teacher. Brilliant! So we did that. She even suggested that she fill out one category per night because there were four categories and four evenings before it was due. Smart girl! We missed one night so she doubled up on the next night. She filled everything in, she drew pictures, and she was proud of herself.
We seem to have figured out a way to help her feel less anxious to get her school work done. Yay! I’m really proud of her…and us.