Saturday, May 31, 2014


It's been awhile, hasn't it? Ham is still hamming it up, and we are still trying our very best to understand him. We spent some time trying to find a "better" diagnosis that fit him "better," but we were searching for something that didn't exist. He's been diagnosed with Autism twice now as well as ADHD twice. It is what it is; I wish I had something more profound to say about it. Life is a struggle everyday, and Ham will never be a "normal" kid. Yet I am becoming okay with that. He is my son, and I love my more everyday even when I have no idea what is going through his mind.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Diagnosis

What we learned on Tuesday was not at all surprising yet it still jarred me. That last little hope I had that Ham was just going through a rough time and not in fact Autistic is now gone. I am officially the mother of an Autistic child who also has ADHD and a mood disorder.  

In a way it feels freeing to know that there is a reason for Ham's behaviors, that it is not my fault. My child has a disability, he is not "normal" and never will be. All of my expectations will have to be put aside until we can get a handle on how this diagnosis will affect our lives. 

There are so many options available to us now yet I feel that so much of it is out of our reach. The cost of therapy is just outrageous. It's sickening how much they charge for something that is so necessary. We are dealing with upwards of eighty dollars an hour until our insurance deductible is met. I have no idea how we are going to fit this into our budget. 

I want to do everything we can to help Ham get to where he needs to be. I have no idea how we are going to manage this. Apparently we make too much for assistance but not enough to afford much of anything without it. It really just sucks. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Birth of a Special Needs Parent

I tend to romanticize things especially when they're far off in the distance. I think we all do. When you're pregnant you fantasize about your baby and the Johnson and Johnson commercial moments you are going to share with them. I spent a large portion of my pregnancy stuck in the sheer fantasy of it all. There was so much to plan for, so much to buy. But slowly the magnitude of what was about to occur took hold and I found myself sinking into a depression. All that I had ever known was about to end. Gone were the blissful mornings of waking up to a silent house full of serenity. Shit was about to get real. 

I find myself in much the same place tonight as I await the news that will undoubtedly change my life and the vision I had for Ham's future. It's like we hit the forty-second week and there is no more holding it in. We will know the secret, the bliss of not knowing will be over. It will be painful and scary and new. I know that a recovery period will be in order for our family, but I have no idea what that will entail. Though Ham is the topic of conversation, the Hubs and I will need just as much help and guidance as he does. We will have to learn to parent him all over again. 

Part of me wishes I could linger in this day for awhile, let the calm sink in before it dissipates. I want to bask in my own ignorance and still allow myself to think that nothing is wrong. I want to look at Ham as a "normal" kid with "normal" problems. I'm not ready for reality.

This painful part is my transition from being a regular parent to a special needs parent. I can no longer ignore the voice in my head that says something is wrong. I must let it out. I have no choice. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

That feeling

Have you ever been told to go to the principal's office? Just knowing that a man (or woman) in a suit was sitting behind some ginormous wooden desk waiting to pounce was enough to make even the strongest child recoil in fear.

Have you ever sat in an exam room waiting for test results and the doctor comes in the room with that look on their face. They sit down feigning a smile and then proceed to seal your fate.

Have you ever seen those red and blue lights in your rear view mirror followed by the unmistakable police siren? You pull over with your sweaty hands at ten and two and your heart beating a mile a minute while you mentally replay the last six turns you made in your head.

That is the feeling that is beginning to blossom in the pit of my stomach. It started with a little bit of anxiousness and has spread to outright fear. I am afraid to know, but I am also afraid to remain in the darkness. Tuesday is our appointment with Ham's evaluating psychologist to get the results of his evaluation. It is at promptly 8am, which is the earliest appointment they had. I enlisted the Hubs to come with as I need support and want him to hear what she has to say. In two days we will know. 

Tonight we had to use the holds that Hubs learned in his brief stint working with the intellectually delayed in order to get Ham into his pajamas. We had to use a psych on our own child, our three year old child. Ham has the strength of a twelve year old most days and it scares the hell out of me. I have so many emotions welling up inside me. I just don't know what to do with them. I love him so much.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Logistically Challenged

We are well on our way to a diagnosis yet I don't feel any better than I did before this whole thing started. It's less new, more complicated. We are getting Ham's test results from the psychologist on Tuesday (2/4). I can't say that I am worried or nervous as I feel like I already know the results because I am with Ham every day. I see him struggle with the things I take for granted. I see him failing to connect with the world around him. In a way I am at peace with this.

What I a currently a hot mess over is transportation and logistics. You see, I work five to six days a week from 8am to at least 5pm. The Hubs works five days a week from 7:30am to 4:30pm. It seems that the school system, therapists, ABA clinics, and pretty much everyone does not think that parents work. Our local school system offers preschool for kids with autism and developmental disabilities as well as speech delays starting at age three. This school starts at 8:30am and ends at 11:30am. If you notice, our schedules already conflict. Then there is therapy, we are looking into applied behavioral analysis (ABA) therapy as well as occupational therapy (OT) and possibly speech therapy (ST). These seem to be offered randomly throughout the week with little regard to working parents. We are now left with the burden of transporting our child from point A to point B while we are also supposed to be at our respective places of employment.

We are fortunate to have a supportive extended family who live very close. My mom helps out a lot, she takes Ham one day a week, and has agreed to help. The MIL is also very helpful but less available. She can take one day a week as she works. My mom does not work but has medical issues and also cares for her disabled mother. The Hubs and I have to be at work to pay the bills. So, we're left to wonder how on earth this is going to work out.

To make matters worse, or at least more complicated, Ham's current (very tolerant) daycare will not take him less than 21 hours per week and does not do half days. The preschool as well as various therapies will prevent us from meeting those requirements (we're barely meeting them now) and we will be without a daycare. Ham is not potty trained (not even close) and over the magical age of three when all children are apparently potty trained (according to daycare centers), so we are left with little to no options. I am beyond stressed about this. I wish I knew where to start. I could use some prayers, even a miracle if anyone has one to spare. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Beast

Ham had his first meeting with the evaluating psychologist. It went okay. It wasn't particularly informational or extraordinary. The doctor echoed most of the things I already thought/knew. She wasn't the nicest lady I've ever met or very good with difficult children but she was thorough. Ham has to return next week for a lengthy evaluation and several tests. I am not looking forward to a string of hours in a very quiet waiting room without wi-fi.

I've been working like a tornado trying to determine what we will be capable of providing for Ham when this whole evaluation period is over and we get a diagnosis. I've sat on hold with extremely unsympathetic insurance agents in a crowded restaurant, I've called every in network therapist, I've contacted the local school system, and I've reached out to as many spectrum moms as I can find. All this time and effort and I've got little to show for it. Everything seems just out of reach for me.

In a perfect world there would be one magic place where Autistic kids could go and get the things they need. It would be filled with gentle and patient therapists, caseworkers, and helpers. There would be OT, ST, PT, ABA, and every other acronym useful to Autistic kids. Parents would be involved and welcome to observe while children would be encouraged to grow in a safe environment. Sadly this magical place exists only in my dreams, perhaps they have one somewhere else in the world but sadly not here.

I am forced to attempt to piece together a program for my son with little knowledge of what he actually needs with little real guidance. I feel lost and overwhelmed. My husband doesn't want to talk about Autism anymore. I am alone against the beast that is Autism and the American healthcare system. God help me.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A is for Autism

With a heavy heart  I took Ham to a developmental pediatrician to get some answers. It is something that I have put off for exactly a year. I prayed that he would grow out of it and just be "normal," but in reality that is not possible. Ham's behavior has become a roadblock to his own growth and development.

I went armed with three years of medical records, a typed description of Ham's behavioral issues, and Ham's Nintendo 2DS (for distraction). Ham was on his worst behavior which was both a blessing and a curse. It was good for his doctor to be able to observe some of his behaviors and bad because of the looks he gets from other patients and the nurses. My heart breaks a little with each disapproving glance.

After much discussion and observation, Ham's doctor believes that he is on the spectrum and may have ADHD. For some time now I have suspected Autism or specifically Aspergers, but it does hurt to hear a professional say that about my son. Now Ham must be evaluated by a child psychologist that specializes in evaluating young children.

It may sound simple enough but there are long waiting lists for evaluations and therapy in my area. We are looking about two to four months at all of our options. I know that three months is nothing in the grand scheme of things, but it feels like an eternity when I see the way people treat Ham.

Today I became more than a mother. Today I became an advocate for my special needs son. I know it will be an uphill battle but I am ready.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Cabin Fever

If you're not lucky enough to live in Indiana, you probably won't have any idea what is going on here. It is snowy, like really really really snowy! Where I am we have a couple of feet on the ground with some scary tall drifts. As a result Ham, Hubs, and I are stuck at home. School and work was called off today as we are experiencing a "state of emergency" and temperatures in the range of -20. It's not pretty.

Ham is having issues with the schedule changes. Today was supposed to be his first day back from winter break after having two weeks off, but that was not the case. He is confused and antsy, we all are. The Hubs and I are trying our very best to maintain calm in the face of cabin fever. 

Poor Hubs and Ham have been stuck at home since Friday while I was lucky enough to work on Saturday before the storm hit. Now, we are all trying to stay occupied and not drive each other nuts. Ham is into everything and there have been many tantrums. I am doing my best to find things to quiet his fits and give me some peace. 

I had the great idea of going out for a pizza, because what did I have to lose? The only place within miles that was open today was our local pizza joint. It is literally less than a block away from our house, so I decided to make the short trek over to pick up a large cheese pizza. I made it there just fine and got my pizza, but that is where my luck ended. I soon found myself thoroughly stuck in a barely plowed corner. Eight different snow plows drove by before one good Samaritan stopped to plow me out. If he hadn't stopped I may still be there spinning my tires in the snow. 

Now I am definitely stuck inside, so I am trying to make the best of it and stay sane. 

This was a road, notice the lack of visible pavement 

And, I'm stuck...

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Excuses for Not Blogging in 2013 and Hopes for the New Year

I pretty much gave up blogging in 2013. It has been a chaotic year filled with changes for our family and a slew of health problems. We moved not once but twice (because we're nomadic like that) with the latest move being to the home we bought November 1st. Marmalade (our kitten) joined the family in May ending our two year pet-free streak.

Ham had bronchitis a handful of times, several unexplained rashes, norovirus, a half dozen sinus infections, a particularly bad ear infection, his first trip to the ER (stitches in the chin), a few puncture wounds, and a whole lot of snotty noses. I enjoyed one broken bone in my hand (because I am the biggest klutz ever), an ear infection, several bouts of bronchitis, one round of steroids for an mysterious inflamed rash, a month long stomach virus culminating in a trip to the off hours clinic, the flu, and reconstructive surgery on my nose and sinuses. The hubs got off lucky with just a few bouts of a cold. Overall, 2013 was an unhealthy year for us.

The hubs and I both managed to keep our jobs despite all the changes in healthcare laws and the like. We are working hard on our debts and trying to consume less. The new home is everything we dreamed it would be, and we are slowly getting it decorated and making it feel like our home. Ham finally considers it his home too.

Ham has had a difficult year with all of the changes and transitions. At just about three and a half he is far from potty trained and has been resisting toileting pretty consistently since we introduced the concept at two and a half. His lack of potty skills got him kicked out of one preschool already which was a difficult transition in itself. For now, Ham is in daycare because we cannot find a school that will take him un-potty trained. The moves were a tumultuous time for him, and tantrums were at an all time high. Marmalade has become an unexpected friend for him. Watching him lovingly pet her and talk about her as his sister is just the sweetest thing ever.

We are going to get Ham formally evaluated by a developmental pediatrician as well as behavioral specialist in January. One of the main reasons that the blog, as well as many other things, has been pushed to the back burner is Ham. His behavior is becoming more difficult to manage with his increasing size. We had hoped that the ability to talk would greatly reduce tantrums and other behavioral issues, but it hasn't. The Hubs and I suspect Aspergers Syndrome.

The journey to get a diagnosis for Ham is what I will be focusing my writing on in 2014. I don't believe in resolutions, however I do believe in hopes. For 2014, I hope to be able to soothe my child and communicate with him on his level. I hope for a more harmonious relationship with my son resulting in a calmer home life. This is what I want out of the next year. The journey starts today.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Where is Mary Poppins When You Need Her?

If you've ever had to find full-time childcare for you child(ren) then you understand the insanity that accompanies this seemingly routine task. You see, searching for a full-time caregiver is not merely looking for a place or person who will teach your child the alphabet and send home cute art projects.They have to be safe, kind, loving, respectful, fun, intelligent, gentle, active, sensitive, and well perfect. These are the people/person that your child will spend more waking time with than they do with you. This is essentially their surrogate mommy, their you when you're gone. It's a monumental decision that has thrown me into a full blown panic.

I have toured and interviewed every state licensed facility (home and center) in my town. My favorite ones were full with substantial waiting lists, and the others were not places I would feel comfortable sending my Ham. Some were smelly. Some were unorganized. Some were overcrowded. And some I just plain didn't like. How can you not be picky with something as serious as this?

I had to scrap the whole daycare center idea altogether and being the long process of finding and interviewing nannies. Where's Mary Poppins when you need her? I went through as well as through word of mouth recommendations. I ended up eliminating some via e-mail or phone because they were very obviously not what I was looking for. The rest I had to interview. With a background in HR, one would think that this would be a simple task but you'd be wrong. It was HELL. Seriously, Hell.

I decided to invite the ladies into my home to meet Ham and get a feel for who we are as a family (this was post background check). So, I lined up several interviews each an hour apart. The first nanny was crazy strict. She was into constant correction, lots of rules, and an avid spank-er. The next one was the complete opposite, a lassiz faire parent who pretty much let kids do whatever they wanted and watch tv all day. I had a few less remarkable duds and then I met my own personal Mary Poppins.

It was love at first sight. This woman came right in and sat down in front of Ham and introduced herself. No one else really even paid attention to him. They all came to talk to me about him even though he was in the room the whole time. She brought her daughter along, who I must say is a good match for Ham's bossiness, and they all played together while we chatted. I marveled at how she comforted both of our children seamlessly during arguments over toys. She seemed in her element redirecting conflicts, giving kisses, and playing pretend. Watching her just put me at ease.

Aside from my warm fuzzies, she has a great big house on several fenced acres for Ham to fun free. She is going to take him to swimming lessons (at no extra charge to me), toddler play groups, parks, area activities, and even teach him a preschool curriculum! Did I mention she is a teacher? I couldn't find anything about her that I didn't like. We have the same discipline philosophy, parenting style, personal style, types of toys, and so many other things. I really think that she is the next best thing to me for Ham. I am beyond excited to see her house tomorrow and meet her other children. Wish me luck!