Friday, June 6, 2014

To Medicate or Not?

First let me say this picture has nothing to do with my post, but hey we finally had warm enough weather to pull the pool out, not only that but our neighbor had her siblings here yesterday, all homeschooled too. Selena was beyond excited to have a yard full of children, a warm sunny day, and an afternoon of pure joy.

When we began this journey working through the diagnosis of Autism, medication of course came up as an open discussion. We had been directed to different resources, and detailed diets designed to treat or help with the affects of Autism. I think our psychiatrist summed it up best for us though, when he asked what her meltdowns look like. It became pretty obvious as we worked through that to realize we needed to do more then the diet and therapies.

For those who are not familiar with an Autism meltdown, let me give you a quick description of what one can look like. They tend to come on when the child is facing a bump in their normal routine, something changes, they have to face something new, or they don't get things their way or within their timing. Their world turns upside down, now keep in mind one of the most common trait of Autism is the need for a very strict routine, very rigid about everything. Suddenly things become overwhelming for the child, they just can't communicate how they feel. At this point they will do one of two things, go into flight mode, (an attempt to run from the situation that is bothering them) or total collapse on the ground kicking, screaming, hitting, biting, throwing objects, with no regard for their own safety nor the safety of anyone near by. These meltdowns do not always happen at home, they can happen anywhere, a parking lot, in the middle of a store, church, school, just about anyplace the child might be. If you can imagine trying to stop your screaming child in a busy parking lot who for one reason or another didn't want to be touched, and you accidentally brushed her shoulder. It is no fun, and you as a parent are at your wits end, on how to prevent them from running out in front of cars, or tripping another customer up when she is laying on the ground thrashing every part of her body, screaming the entire time.

I think as you can imagine it didn't take us long before we had to take the mindset, that we were not medicating her for our sanity, but for her own safety. I know I hear many comments from those unfamiliar with these special kids that parents only medicate their children to be able to control them, all they need is better parenting skills. Boy what a sweeter world we would live in if that truly was the case. What they miss is what is the child going through, how are the affects of Autism affecting them, the one who lives with it? We watched Selena go without sleep, worrying about the unknown, her obsessive thoughts running her day, and preventing her from having any fun or enjoying the simple things because she couldn't calm down enough. Yes, we got tired of being on edge ourselves, wondering when she would flee or fight. We were becoming prisoners of Autism itself, worried about taking her to a store knowing all it would take to set her off was for something to be out of place on the shelf.

We tried a few medications before finding one that worked for her. It does come with side affects, but none that we can't live with at this point. She does have an increased appetite and since this medication is known for putting weight on we do watch her diet more. It does make her a little tired, and it isn't uncommon for her to take a 15 to 30 minute nap in the afternoon. At first we had to watch her closely for temperature changes, such as playing in the sun, or the temperature of her bath water, but this last one has seemed to resolve itself. Of course we had to find the right dose, this is where we appreciate our psychiatrist, instead of starting her on an amount that the books say is normal, he started her on such a small dose, then allowed us to add more as we felt needed. I believe we have finally found the dose, that is right for now, she seems to be able to hit a bump in her day, have a slight reaction, but be able to pull herself back on track for the rest of the day.

Other comments we have heard, is that now she should be able to do the things she couldn't do before the medications. This is a huge myth and so not true, she might be able to handle the situations a little bit better, but this medication and no medication is a cure all. If it upset them before starting medication, it will still upset them on the medication, but they should be able to meet these situations in a calmer state and not end up in total meltdown mode.

We know that Selena is happier being on the medication, she comments all the time how calm she now feels, and how much easier it is to do the things she couldn't do before. She still has her quirks, and list of things she doesn't like, but she at least tries. She still will do therapy with a psychologist to learn things that she lacks, such as boundaries, coping skills, and communication skills just to list a few.

I feel to medicate or to not medicate is something that any parent has to work through themselves, with the help of Doctors, and psychologists. They have to find the fit for their child and family. Most families dealing with Autism has no problem answering questions, and helping you understand what it is like, but they truly do not need to feel like everyone is criticizing them for a decision they have made for the safety of their child.

On a side note, I have not been a great blogger this past year. I am trying to get myself back online, back on the computer, and back around to all my favorite blogs. I have been very busy this past year, between appointments 2 to 3 times a week, and keeping up with everything here at home that something had to give. I look forward to moving forward with my blog and getting back with my bloggy friends, who believe me I have truly missed. 
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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Autism and Perspective

I sometimes pinch myself thinking why is this diagnosis of PDD Autism making me feel relieved? Why is it that I am not upset, angry, or in denial? I know many parents who hear these words, break down with sadness, denial and complete anger but for me it has brought the full picture into view as to what makes Selena tick. We can now settle down, not worry over what or why things are affecting her so bad, and get on to learning and discovering the things that will help her.

Instead of trying to prevent her from picking up every single piece of grass that got left in the driveway from the lawn mower, the whole time hearing her state, "Grass is suppose to be in the grass!" I find myself walking along allowing her to finish the task at hand. I know if I don't it will just eat her up inside, and every time she looks out the window, or goes outside, she will feel such disapproval, her stomach will feel ill, which will soon turn into an uncontrollable anger. For as much grass as she picks up, the less she wants to hold it in her hand, and begs me to hold it for her, now excuse me, if she is going to pick up the grass then she can hold it or go dump it back in the yard, I do have my limits.

I now understand why she suddenly jumps to the other side of the sidewalk when we are out for an evening walk, it could be anything from a small limb from a tree, or a rock that just seems out of place to her. I get it now when she stops dead in her tracks with a look on her face of what now, over the little things we miss, such as a change in the texture of the sidewalk under her feet, or the fact it just doesn't look the same as the rest of the sidewalk to her.

It hasn't all been easy to put into perspective, especially when faced with do we medicate or not. None of us want to medicate our children, and I say don't judge when a parent chooses to do so. While I agree some may choose to medicate so they don't have to deal with the outbursts, or it gives them a sense of relief, but I know there are many who are in our shoes who do so for the child. You see without the medication, Selena would put herself in grave danger with her meltdowns. Her anxieties had her so tied up in knots all the times that one has to ask how could she be enjoying life, well to be honest we watched her zest for the fun things slipping away. Yes, we did choose to medicate her, and feel very lucky we have a good psychiatrist, who helped us find a medication that doesn't rob Selena from us, doesn't make her a zombie, though she is a little tired at times, she still feels everything, still expresses her anxieties, but remains calm in the storm, or I should say calmer.

We are off on a new chapter in our journey.


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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Enjoying the Outdoors When We Can

Our weather has not been real cooperative for being outdoors a lot this Spring. We try to take advantage when we can. Today was very pleasant, the sun was shining, with some clouds, but the temperature was not extremely hot and humid, nor too cold to consider taking a walk. I really had no idea how far we would walk when we began, but was surprised when we got a full 2 miles in. I will say as we neared the one mile mark, Selena was feeling a bit more anxious and unsure as to why we had come so far.


First things first we just had to stop along this row of rhododendrons and pick out our favorite color, and get our pictures taken in front of them.

 Selena was not sure about this ivy, she was fearful it was poison ivy. Even after I assured her that it wasn't she still refused to touch it. I told her that was a good fear, as we would not want her touching the wrong type ivy. I guess we will have to do a little research.


We drive through this area all the time, it is beautiful, and the High School is just through all the trees. Selena was so amazed over it's beauty, I guess walking near it really made her appreciate it more, not only that she could hear the hidden creek running through, one that she didn't even know existed.

Being very textile, Selena stopped in her tracks here as our sidewalk texture changed. She announced it felt rough under her feet. We had to take a little bit to discuss and ponder why it felt different.

We finally made it one mile, to discover the first home Selena remembers, well the first home she ever lived in. She got weepy, as truly for as much as she loves our home, she does miss this little house. We always remind her, that her memories of this house will always be there, since it was her very first home.

We had to stop many times for her to remove rocks or anything that seemed to be in her sandals.


We found this tree to be very interesting!


Selena loved how these trees hung over the sidewalk like a canopy over our heads. She also had to go feel the moss on growing on the tree. It was quite funny, just as she was feeling the tree, and I was taking the picture, a detective drove up, he slowed way down with a very concerned look on his face. I believe he finally figured out that we truly were not trespassing, as a big smile appeared on his face, and with a little wave he drove on. I couldn't help but think, now what?


 Of course we had to take some time for some selfies!

Then we had to victory dance at the end of the walk! YAY! We made it, now to tackle the hill up to our house!

I know this was a picture overload, but come on how better to show our neighborhood, our little town, and just how much fun we had on this walk! Looking forward to more walks weather permitting.
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Saturday, May 3, 2014

Catching Up

I didn't even do my normal Easter post, there wasn't much to write about. Selena enjoyed her Easter basket, and not long after we got ready to head off to church, Selena got sick, really sick. The rest of the day was spent with her feeling pretty poorly. She continued to feel poorly through the week, and we finally took her in to get something for the nausea. Even after we got that under control, Selena still complained of flu like symptoms. We finally decided it had to be the new medication she was on. We quit that and the very next day she was bouncing around feeling herself again.

I haven't blogged about much that has been going on with her of late, I really just couldn't or anyway not until we got all the loose ends pulled together and truly knew what we were dealing with. As time went on everything began to point more and more towards the Autism Spectrum. After being so sick, we dealt with a Selena that we had never seen before, one who couldn't even enjoy being outside without being afraid of every bug, fly, or bee. Now if you have been following my blog for long you know this is just so not Selena.

Anyone who has ever been around an Autistic child knows or has seen the melt downs they can have, well, yes, Selena was having melt downs that would go to the extreme. These were usually brought on by a change in her schedule, or a day of just way too much OCD or Sensory overload.

Her psychiatrist tried that one last medication in hopes it would calm her down, which it did but her reaction on it also brought him to the firm conclusion that she has PDD-NOS Autism. Now this is a diagnosis we can agree with and except. We have started a new medication, not that we really want to medicate Selena, but we felt it was necessary for her own safety from the melt downs she has.

Here are just a few of the things that has brought us to this conclusion. If an item has a * by it you will know it is something we have seen from a very young age.


  • Rigid in her routines, schedules, diet, life in general. *
  • Hard time making friends, she wants friends but just doesn't know how to make friends or what to say to show them she wants to be their friend. *
  • Doesn't understand many verbal or nonverbal cues. *
  • Sensory issues with foods. *
  • Sensory issues with textures.
  • Anxieties.
  • Separation Anxiety. *
  • OCD tendencies *
  • Melt downs
  • Not willing to eat anyplace but home or food prepared at home and served on our own dishes and will only use our utensils *
There truly is so many other things we see, but this gives you a good taste of what we see, and why we have come to this diagnosis. The picture above was taken on a day trip to visit some friends. Selena did great, but did get a headache from worrying as we drove there. She didn't want to go out to eat, but come home and eat, we insisted that was not going to happen. She is sitting happily at Skippers, where yes the only thing she would eat was french fries, so long as they were not on a plate. Being a finger food that took the worry out of using utensils. She had a great day though and enjoyed every minute of it. She did however, sleep almost the entire trip home. 
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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Thinking like a Paleontologist

I found this cool Fossil Find'R at Walmart a while back. Since we are beginning a study on Dinosaurs I picked up one just to see what Selena would think. The kit came with this plaster egg shaped ball, and a small plastic chisel/brush tool. Inside is hidden a Dinosaur Fossil. They have it marked for ages 4+ I think I would offer this to an older child though, it is a lot of work, slow, and tedious. We are having fun with it though. I did appreciate the fact that the first bone siting was very close to the surface, so the child knows there is definitely something inside.

After I gave my instructions to Selena on how careful she would have to be to find the fossil, and to not just try to smash it open, she went right to work on trying to find her fossil hidden inside. We started this process on Saturday afternoon. Selena carefully worked, taking many breaks from the tedious task, only to return and work some more. Yes, Papa and I did get involved and helped a bit, but Selena has done most of the work on her own. We have resisted digging in and speeding up the process.

So far this is the point we are at. Selena has made a few observations and hypothesis as to what type of Dinosaur this might be. From the shape of the head she thinks it is a meat eater, and the shape of the bones she feels it is a Tyrannosaurus (T-Rex). I love how this simple kit is making her think like a Paleontologist, as well as showing her how tedious they have to work in order to discover all they do about the animals from years ago that use to walk on our earth. Stay tuned we will reveal what we find, and conclude on Selena's hypothesis when we get this little critter out.


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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Busy Busy Busy

Where to really begin with this post, the past few weeks seem like a blur, a frenzy of so much going on. Softball got started with a lot of excitement from Selena. The weather was not as cooperative, any many practices were cancelled. Here is a picture though of Selena playing 3rd base in one of our practice games against one of the other teams.

Unfortunately coach pitch ended up being harder then Selena imagined. Normally we would have asked her to stick it out and do her best, but the frustration was compounding on itself over her inability to hit the ball. It became such an obsession for her that she was loosing sleep, so the decision was made to stop playing. She was involved in the decision and really feels pretty good about it. Sure we know she is sad, but we reminded her that she is not a loser, nobody loses so long as they try, and give it their all, which believe me she did that!

The day after this decision Selena finally spoke up and started talking about how mean the girls were being towards her. We had been watching this from the first practice and we were fully aware what some of the girls were doing. Selena wasn't the only one being picked on. At the above game the girls even went as far as to tell Selena it was her turn to get up and strike out again. Selena seemed like she ignored the girls, and proudly held her head high as she went up to try to hit that ball.

By batting practice following this game, the bullying was escalating to more physical assaults. Teasing and tormenting the girls with the bats, until Selena got hit over the head with a bat, and the coaches daughter got hit in the face. Hearing as Selena put all this stuff in words made me realize I could no longer sit back and wait. I contacted both the coach and the President of the softball organization.

Selena and I had a very long discussion about this matter, and what a good day for that discussion but on April 1st. We used this day to show what is fun normal joking, and what is not. We then talked about standing up against bullying.

I hear many parents complain about bullying in the schools, how mean other kids are, but I feel there is one way to stop this is to Speak Up, We Did!





We joined our homeschool group for a field trip at the local radio station. The kids all had so much fun and learned a lot. They were aired live on radio which was heard by some of our neighbors, as they represented the homeschoolers of our County. They even recorded them and played that the following morning, which Selena was so excited to hear. Below are just a few random shots from the field trip, enjoy!





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Monday, March 24, 2014

Butterflies Part One

With Spring here Selena decided she wanted to study Butterflies. We made some Butterflies last week using coffee filters and pipe cleaners. This morning we read a few books, then started discussing the life cycle of the butterfly.

Selena read Butterflies by Karen Shapiro which does a very nice job of explaining the life cycle of a butterfly. I read a book titled Life Cycles The Butterfly by Diana Noonan to Selena. This book broke the life cycle down into very specific steps which were short enough for any level and great illustrations.

Selena described the life cycle of the butterfly to me, as I drew it on the white board, then we used one of our butterflies from last week, and construction paper to make the above photo of the life cycle of a butterfly. This was not new information for Selena but she did learn that the Caterpillar sheds it skin up to 4 times before it is ready to form it's chrysalis.

Stay tuned as we learn more about butterflies throughout the week.



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