Overcoming Obstacles with Kind Words, Gentle Hands and Listening Ears

Life with Norton has, in some ways, gotten harder.  He’s more defiant than ever.  He still uses “I peed in my room!” as an excuse not to go to bed or wherever else.  But things were out of control.  There was a lot of yelling, temper tantrums, throwing things, tears, and hitting.  Counting to three had ceased to help.  Threats of spankings were the only thing that made any impact… and even that was beginning to fade.  I knew I needed to figure out overcoming obstacles like these in a really big way.  Our little family was in trouble. [Read more…]

Sometimes There’s Some Good (An Update)

I’ve been amazed at the amount of support that I’ve gotten (and helpful suggestions!) after writing about how there are times that I just feel so very defeated when dealing with my son.  Thank you.  I appreciate it.  A lot.

The last couple of days have had some improvements.  Yes, there are still a lot of times that he is completely, utterly exhausting and infuriating… but there are times that I think I’m making some progress. [Read more…]

Early Reading Progresses!

From the time I was pregnant with Norton, I was hoping to instill a love of books and learning. I just knew that we had to promote early reading as best as possible.

But there was a bit of a stumbling block with that. Sure, I went to school to teach… but I wanted to teach high school, not elementary school. And I definitely did not want to teach early childhood education. After chatting with Heather of The Parenting Patch, I went with learning sight words as the first step of early reading. [Read more…]

Train Track Tuesday

Train Track Tuesday (Cloth Diaper Addicts)

After some of the insanely huge builds I’ve made for my kids, I’m starting to favor smaller layouts.  At least that will mean that there’s room to walk in the room.

Elements used (Amazon affiliate links):
1.) Chuggington Wooden Railway Double-Decker Roundhouse
2.) Thomas And Friends Wooden Railway – Early Engineers Busy Day on Sodor Set
3.) Thomas Wooden Railway – Cranky The Crane
4.) Orbrium Toys Large Wooden Train Tunnel for Wooden Railway Fits Thomas Brio Chuggington Melissa Doug Imaginarium
5.) Chuggington Wooden Railway Rocky Ridge Mine Tunnel
6.) Melissa & Doug Skyline Suspension Bridge
7.) Chuggington Wooden Railway Koko & Hodge’s Clock Tower Set

Please Don’t Let Our Son Be Broken

I can’t stop sobbing as I write this.  I’m beyond terrified.  I don’t understand how this thing could be possible in our family.  Autism or Autistic Spectrum Disorder are things that happen to other families.  Not mine.  Not to two parents who are both tested as geniuses.  This isn’t supposed to happen to us.

Things have been getting worse and worse with Norton since Christmas.  His behavior has been getting increasingly difficult.  It’s been agonizing to watch his behavior be like it is.  And I see my friends who post about their normal children and I’m just so… crushed.  I’m angry because our son doesn’t do those things.  I’m terrified because I don’t know what to expect.  I don’t know what any of this means.  I’m jealous because I want those touching sibling moments for my children.  And I hate myself for being so envious of my friends.

I try researching and I read about children exhibiting some of the same behaviors as Norton, like the echolalia and lack of interest in his peers.  We don’t have a diagnosis… just lots and lots of suggestions from child development professionals that indicate that we need to have Norton assessed.

I don’t want the assessment.  I try to say that there’s nothing wrong with my son.  He’s perfectly perfect.  But with the constipation issues and the potty training issues…  The temper tantrums that can last for hours over the slightest thing…  That two months ago he was completely dressing himself, right down to his socks and shoes, only to now need to be forced into wearing anything.

I can’t deny that something is wrong.  The entire family is feeling the strain.  My daughter, my sweet little girl, is trying so hard to cheer me up or distract me by closing my laptop whenever I start to cry.  Or she hands me a book.  Norton comes in and gives me a hug while saying, “It’s okay, Mommy.”  He looks at me and asks “Are you hurt?”

I’d love to think that he’s showing compassion.  But I can’t help but wonder how much of this is just the echolalia because those are the kinds of things that I say to him when he cries.

My husband is feeling the stress of the volatile household.  I’m stressed out and depressed.  I end each day feeling like I’ve been in some kind of POW camp, suffering from the psychological and physical abuse from my child while trying to keep my cool.  Even the dogs are acting out.  T’akaya the wonderful, brilliant border collie has taken to spite peeing in our bedroom whenever we confine her downstairs.  And we were doing so for her own protection.

I don’t want our son to have autism.  I don’t want to have to lower my expectations.  I thought he was going to have a wonderful, bright future in a professional field.  I thought he would be able to care for us when we’re old.   Now I find myself wondering what’s going to happen to him after we’re gone.  What next?

Then I read things that suggest that autism often shows up with lower than average IQs… and my son is smart.  That can’t be my son.  Not when he figures out mechanics so smoothly, so easily.  The worst part of my son being anything other than “neurotypical” is the possibility that he might not be the smart kid.

I read things about how children on the spectrum have muscle tone or coordination issues.  Norton does not.  He is actually extremely coordinated.  He doesn’t fall over.  He doesn’t have muscle tone issues or move differently.  With the cognitive issues, he doesn’t display pronoun reversal.  He understands that “I” and “me” refer to oneself (although he does frequently refer to himself in third person as “the Norton”) and that “you” is someone else.  I think about all of those things that are typical of autism that he doesn’t do and feel marginally better.  Not superior, but less panicky about there being something wrong.

Please, please don’t let our son be broken.  I can fix hurt feelings and skinned knees.  But autism?  This is something so far beyond what I know that I’m just lost.

Train Track Tuesday

Train Track Tuesday (Cloth Diaper Addicts)

Forgive the image quality.  This week’s train track was so large that I couldn’t actually fit it in one frame, even with my wide angle lens on my camera.  So I had the husband use the panorama option on his phone.

I’m pretty proud of this creation.  It took a few days… and Eudora didn’t destroy it beyond knocking over the occasional piece.  In the interest of making it more interesting and giving trains more places to go (since it doesn’t seem like a “Very Useful Engine” would just go gallivanting for no reason), some Fisher Price Little People was incorporated.  If you like what you see and want to add to your own collection, please order using my affiliate links below!

Chuggington Elements:
*Chuggington Wooden Railway Double-Decker Roundhouse
*Chuggington Wooden Railway Koko & Hodge’s Clock Tower Set
*Chuggington Wooden Railway Koko’s New Look
*Chuggington Wooden Railway Old Puffer Pete
*Chuggington Wooden Railway Safari Cars
*Chuggington Wooden Railway – Green Wilson Engine

Thomas the Train Elements:
*Thomas Wooden Railway Flynn & Water Tower Figure 8 Railroad Track Set 21 Piece
*Thomas And Friends Wooden Railway – Figure 8 Set Expansion Pack
*Thomas And Friends Wooden Railway – Early Engineers Busy Day on Sodor Set
*Thomas And Friends Wooden Railway – Early Engineers Round About Station
*Thomas And Friends Wooden Railway – Deluxe Over – The – Track Signal
*Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway – Echo Tunnel
*Thomas And Friends Wooden Railway – Harold The Helicopter
*Thomas Wooden Railway – Toby The Tram Engine
*Thomas Wooden Railway – Skarloey
*Thomas And Friends Wooden Railway – Wacky Track (2 pieces)

Fisher Price Little People Elements:
*Fisher-Price Little People Noah’s Ark
*Fisher-Price Little People Animal Sounds Farm
*Fisher-Price Little People Barnyard
*Fisher Price Little People Zoo

Other Elements:
*Melissa & Doug Zoo Animal Train Set
*Bigjigs Rail BJT135 Red Brick Tunnel
*New Wooden Train Cross X Track fits Thomas Wooden Railway and Brio Sets and Tracks
*Train Track Piece – CrossRoad Track – 100% Compatible with All Major Brands including Thomas Wooden Railway System – By Right Track Toys

When a Helpful Preschooler Isn’t

Sometimes, Norton can annoy me.  Sometimes when he annoys me, it’s because he’s trying so hard to be a helpful preschooler… and it just doesn’t work.  That realization is crucial to my ongoing attempts at being a better mom.  Like the most recent “helpful preschooler” incident…

This morning I posted my first Train Track Tuesday post in a while.  I just hadn’t been able to sit down and really build a nice layout that we can have fun with.  Usually, it’s either because Norton’s room isn’t clean enough for me to want to be in there and build or because Eudora is “helping” by being The Destroyer of Worlds.  (Read: Eudora is knocking things over and making it impossible to build.) [Read more…]

Sometimes Everything Isn’t Okay

I don’t have a keyword or an image for this post.  It might be a little bit of whining.  Feel free to skip it.  Or don’t.

I’m beyond frustrated.  I hurt.  I wonder how much of it’s my fault. [Read more…]

Early Reading – Teaching Sight Words

I absolutely do not specialize in early childhood education.  When I wanted to teach, I wanted them in high school.  You know, at the age where they are fully housebroken, able to communicate, and have some reasoning skills.  Since having Norton, though, I’ve found myself with an interest in some aspects of early childhood education.  When dealing with his language delay, I had to learn things in order to help him and advocate effectively.  But now?  We’re starting to work on early reading.

Early Reading - Teaching Sight Words (Cloth Diaper Addicts)I don’t read to Norton as often as Heather over at The Parenting Patch reads to Poppy.  Some days I don’t read to him at all.  Other days, we’ll read five or six stories.  It’s whenever he comes to me with a book and says, “Read the story, Mommy?”  Like most things we do, Norton has to set the tone and pace.  If I try to set it, he rebels.

Most of our early reading activities surround Spot the Puppy books.  They’re simple, fun books that appeal to Norton because he loves puppies in general.  The language is simple; the illustrations are cute.  In fact, Where’s Spot? was the first book recommended to us by the speech pathologists of Norton’s language delay playgroup that we added to our library.  We started out using the book to get him to point to things.  It started out with just getting him to point to the puppy, as Norton was never a child who would point to communicate what he wants.  Then we started getting him to point to other things on the pages, like the boat, the bear, etc.  Eventually, it progressed to him pointing to things and naming them, or counting the number of flowers on a page.

It only makes sense that we’d continue to progress with the same books that have been meeting his needs with every other aspect of his language development for early reading skills.  One day, I decided to do an experiment.  Norton knows his letters.  He knows his phonics.  A friend in another city has a son that’s a few months younger than Norton who is learning early reading skills at their preschool.  So why not?  I showed Norton the word Spot when we were reading Spot Loves His Mommy.

Then it clicked.  He went through the book as we read the story and showed me “Spot” every single time.  To check and make sure that it wasn’t just a fluke, we put the book down for a while.  He ran off and played.  We ate Rice Krispy Bats and did cool stuff.  The next time we read Spot Loves Sports, he was still able to show me Spot on the page.  We later progressed to his recognizing the word “Mommy” and will probably progress to “Daddy” later.  It’s a start.  Even better, it’s an early reading start that Norton is enjoying.

Did you teach sight words as part of early reading?  How did you do it?

Wordless Wednesday – Explorers

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