Dyer Family Happenings

A.K.A. Mommy needs a place to write!

Peace, love and being a momma — September 22, 2016

Peace, love and being a momma

Today is International Peace Day. A day to spread peace and love speak and actions with everyone you meet. To show this world that we can and will not only conquer the rough stuff of life with love and smiles but that TOGETHER as a people we are better. Think about it, all of the beautifully amazing different things we all bring to the table. Thoughts, ways to worship, food, clothing, music, it’s amazing and beautiful.

And I don’t know why people are so scared of the things they don’t understand.

Embracing the things I don’t understand is just part of our world. Or rather has been for the past 5.5 years. There were things I didn’t understand before but I’d either learn about them or scootch around them, I was in control  of what I slammed face first into. And then Joel came into my world. He was new and I didn’t totally understand him and then we got married and I still didn’t have him totally figured out but I was much more comfortable with him. And then came Leo and the same, and then Max and holy Lord.

And just when I thought I was starting to understand Leo, bam- he regressed and was diagnosed with Autism. Same thing with Max. God has not let me live in comfort with these kids yet, and guess what…

I AM OKAY.

woah, wait a minute what. Yeah. Even in the moments, days, weeks, of uncertainty and confusion I am okay. Go figure that one. Even when I am not sure how to handle a behavior, how to make words come, how to keep health insurance, how to make a living, how to get from one place to the next in the correct time, I am okay. Why? Because I have faith. (Yes I have faith in God but He’s not who I am specifically talking about right now)

I have faith in the people around me. Family, friends, teachers, strangers. I have faith that there will be listening and love and understanding. That there will be hugs and tears and smiles and celebrations. Because that faith is what keeps the love moving from one person to the next. It’s what keeps me waking up every morning and wanting to push forward and through to that next hurdle. Because I know that there will always be someone with a kind or helpful word that will help get us over it. Because loving is learning.

So lets keep moving the love forward, even in the simplest of ways to one another. Have faith in your fellow man even when you might not understand his or her lifestyle choice, religion, choice of shoes. Because those things aren’t as important as being better together, and being together as people trying to live and love.

Wishing you all a peace filled evening and life

 

 

 

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I’m not a fighter — February 23, 2016

I’m not a fighter

I’m not. I absolutely despise it. I will if I’m pushed to, but I try like hell to avoid it. I’m too emotional, I get mad, I cry then I’m pissed that I’m crying and I get mad at myself. It’s just ugly. It takes me an exceptional amount of time to be able to separate my emotional self from my “business mind” self. And unfortunately I have to talk or write out my emotions. I apologize if you end up one of the people I ramble to.

I’m trying to navigate a world I’m still very new to. Special Education. With Leo things were pretty clear, our path to where we are now was up hills, down valleys, around corners and through some pretty big traffic jams, but we are right where we need to be, entering mainstream school in the fall. Max is a big ball of I don’t even know.

Socially he’s reserved at first but when he warms up its on. Outside of that he has so many things that put him on the autism spectrum. Sensory issues, lack of speech, major out busts, spins himself in circles, doesn’t sleep, balance and spatial awareness issues. But he was not diagnosed as on spectrum. I don’t understand. Are social quirks and lack of eye contact that heavily weighed in an evaluation? Are all of the other issues, including slow processing and the inability to form a sentence of even 2 intelligible words not factors? I am so lost.

Do I want to have another child with a diagnosis? If it will help both he and myself then yes. If it will help explain why he screams and won’t wear clothes, why he shakes and looks like hes being stabbed with needles when you put a tshirt- with no tag on it on his body. Why he is having night terrors that last 20-60 minutes and there is nothing to be done. Why he walks around with his hands in fists and asking him to open them throws off all of his balance. Why he can dribble a soccer ball across my back yard but can’t get into the car without running face first into the door every day.

Why even with once a week speech therapy, practicing at home and at Leos school he still can’t say “Mickey”. How I am one of the few people that understands 99% of what he says, but most people need me to translate.  I’m lost. So I am asking for reports and for different evaluations. I’m asking for help because I am terrified that on March 17th, his 3rd birthday and our official first day with no services, that I am not equipped to help him grow.

I’m not borrowing worry or making things bigger than they are. He’s not just a brat, hes frustrated and I am too. But I can tell people that I am. Max can’t. So I’m having to prepare to fight, to fight and ask for full evaluations that we did not receive. To fight to ask for what I know in my heart is right for Max. And my anxiety is off the charts high and I can’t bring it down.

So ready or not here I come. After I get this emotional garbage out of my mind.

Dear Leo, — November 13, 2015

Dear Leo,

This week was a rough one. I totally understand. You weren’t feeling great, it’s cold, there was a holiday right smack in the middle of the week, one of your teachers was out sick most of the week. I get it buddy. But here’s the thing. Changes are going to happen. I know you have a hard time with them. I know that sometimes you get all scrambled up and can’t tell me that you’re not okay, but in those moments I need you to take a deep breath and try to find your words. Your nice words.

Walking you out of class today broke my heart. I know you wanted treasure box, but you know how important it is to earn it. And we earn it by having nice words and hands, by making good choices and by listening to all of the wonderful teachers we are so blessed to have guiding us at school. Mommy doesn’t like to have to worry about your actions. I know you know how to be a superawesomefantastic dude, because you are so much of the time. And I know that you know how to ask for a break if you’re feeling overwhelmed. So lets slow down for a minute and listen to our body.

Promise me you’ll try to choose nice words and hands next week. That if someone puts their hands on you on the playground that you’ll say “No I don’t like that” and tell a teacher instead of pushing back. That you’ll try your food and not put garbage in a friends food when they aren’t looking. That you’ll be kind. And that you know that no matter what your actions I love you so very much.

I’m proud of all of the progress you’re making, and the things you’re learning. And know that we all have bad days and rough days and days that we just don’t want to do what we need to do, but we still do them. Know that on those hard days I’ll be waiting to pick you up with a giant hug and some snuggle time when we get home. Talk to me. Talk to your teachers, we all want to see how wonderful you are.

I know you’re really upset about not getting treasure box this week but we will try again next week. Max and I will be there as much as we can to help you when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Take a big deep breath my love. We all get through the rough days.

Love,

Mom

Lets talk regression — September 14, 2015

Lets talk regression

Hindsight is 20/20 right. Totally is when you’re oldest child is diagnosed ASD and when you are asked if you saw a regression, you rack your brain and yup- at 2 1/2 years old there it was. Sensory overload constantly, not gaining words and phrases, saying the same phrases over and over and over and over, only knowing how to communicate via labeling.(dog, cat, momma, milk)
I keep being given weird looks and told basically that I’m off my rocker that it is again happening, at the exact same age, with Max. But today it all became very very clear at an in home ABA session. He became totally overloaded, he shut down, he started screaming and crying and shaking. If you touch him he says ouch over and over and over. This just started. He is 3 days away from being 2 1/2. He is very very slowly gaining words but it’s a fight.
And I get it. I’d be super pissed off too if I couldn’t tell you what my brain is saying. He’s smart, we are so very fortunate that both of our boys are, but he can’t get what is in his head to come out. He can’t tell me what he needs. He can’t say that he’s tired, or that his teeth hurt, or that his tummy hurts. That he can’t focus, or that he just needs a break. And at this exact age, neither could Leo.
Leo would yell. He would cry, he would ball up and rock, he would cover his ears, he would run to a safe place.
Max screams and cries, he throws things and shakes. He answers no to every question and then he burritos himself in a blanket and depending on the amount of time this has all taken he passes out.
His tutor gave me some things to try to calm him down, but we both agree that the “ouch” screaming comes because he flies into sensory overload, so even the lightest touch hurts. I can’t even begin to imagine what that must be like. To not be able to appropriately vocalize what you need, then to get so frustrated all you can do is scream, then not be able to be consoled because it physically hurts. I can’t imagine. And this is happening multiple times a day just about every day.
So I have to check myself. Remind myself that he can’t help it. That he can’t regulate, that I’m going to have to sit and rock him and sing to him and tell him it’s all okay just like I did with his brother. That we are going to have to push everyone to be more patient and take his therapy that much more seriously because I am terrified that he’s not just the super cute kid with a major speech delay. Because I don’t want this to be his normal or forever or even right now.
So here I am again praying for the strength to push through this, for the patience to open my mind and my heart to whatever God has in store for Max and our family. That Max knows that I love him and it doesn’t matter what he needs I’m going to try my hardest to give it to him.
But I’m not crazy. For better or for worse I am so very in tune to my children.

“doesn’t function well in her current life” — July 30, 2015

“doesn’t function well in her current life”

Physically, yes. Physical strength is what I’ve been relying on to get me from day to day. If I can just focus on that the rest will go away. My sadness, my jealousy, my emotional exhaustion, my endless want for “normal” things. It’ll all just go away if I make myself physically strong.

And I’ve been trying, and successfully have made myself physically stronger, all while exhausting myself to keep from dealing with my emotions. And it doesn’t work. The stronger I get physically, the weaker I become emotionally. I feel so broken, so fragile. I’m sensitive to the stupidest of things, eye rolls, deep breaths, comments. My patience is so small and I cry often. Sunglasses are my savior for that.

I see pictures of friends vacations with their kids and it kills me. (I’m excited for them and love seeing their pictures) but a vacation isn’t in the cards for us for so many reasons. Therapy schedules, money, time away, house sitters- that cost money, my husbands work, totally uprooting the kids schedule. And it sucks. And I am jealous, and it hurts so bad, because I’d love to just get away from all of the normal shit and see something different. A new perspective, see the boys in a new place, leave my house for more than a few hours. I just want to leave.

Instead I get up every morning and prepare for a full day. Therapy for the boys- both in the morning and afternoon, grocery shopping, laundry, cooking, and then on certain days my paying gigs that start after I’ve put in close to a 12 hour day of being a mom and wife. And I just don’t want to do any of it.

A month ago the kids were making awesome progress. New words for Max, new sight words for Leo. Behaviors were simmering down. I somehow convinced myself that we’d grow out of needing help. That all of this autism stuff is just a right now thing, but in a year or so it’ll be good. They will have earned how to cope through things and we could be a normal family. And then they both had huge jumps back with behaviors. It hit me like a Mac truck- THIS IS FOREVER.

What the hell is wrong with me.

I know this is forever. I know that my kids are smart, but there are things that are going to be forever against them. Leo can’t handle transitions, changes, loud noises, a hairbrush brushing his head, smells. You can’t understand him when he gets excited or upset. To get him ready for a major change- like changing schools- which is happening in 19 days- a month before we have to start talking about it. And even at that, I’m trying to gear myself up mentally for the meltdowns that we are going to have with a change that big.

Max is learning words but it’s slow. I’m still convinced he can’t hear, and his repeat hearing evaluation is NOVEBER 23. The Children’s hospital in our town is a joke to get into. So until then it’s trying to find patience with his lack of words, not being able to understand what he wants and trying to get through the meltdowns from lack of communication.

So for the time being, I’ll be physically strong, emotionally broken, jealous of families that get time together, hating the fact that my kids have to struggle. I’ll smile because I have to, pack my days with tons of routine to ward off melt downs, and physically exhaust myself in the hopes of being too tired to deal with my emotions.

Maybe tomorrow, or in a week, or in a year I’ll feel different.

Faith, love and lowering expectations — July 11, 2015

Faith, love and lowering expectations

Every morning the boys and I say a prayer out loud together:

“Heavenly Father thank you for this beautiful day for learning and for love. In Jesus’ name, Amen”

That’s it. My hope is that the boys will realize that the world doesn’t revolve around them. That there are other hands that make things happen and that we need to not just BE thankful for those hands but we need to TELL those hands we are thankful for them. In toddler world I have no clue if it resonates but we are gonna keep saying it every day.

There have been giant leaps in our household- Leo swimming without a vest or floaties, Max using 2 word sentences more and more, Leo can (in his own almost legible way) write his name without hand over hand help or a drawn guide, Max is growing (I’m pretty sure his feet grew two sizes over night), Leo is mastering sight words (reading here we come!!!!) and Max is conquering his fear of swimming pools.

At the same time we have had some ugly stuff- Leo overhead throwing a chair at school, Max having a full blown screaming/ stiff body meltdown because he needed to finish a task before he got his blanket back, not eating, throwing, hitting, screaming, pinching, ugly words.

My guess is that all parents have these issues with their toddlers. Always pushing boundaries, my hope is that they don’t have them to the extreme we have them here, I don’t wish that on anyone.

I joke(but I’m really serious) that I could do physical labor all day everyday and I’d be tired but Id pull through it, but the emotional drain of dealing with behaviors from my kids wipes me out. It drains every bit of strength, every bit of positivity, every bit of patience I have. And I really need to work on that.

The good days make me excited for the possibility of new growth and learning and the horrific moments knock me down. I feel like I start to expect too much from my kids and then I am let down when they aren’t up to my expectations and that is so wrong on my part. Yes, I need to have expectations of them, and yes they should be just outside of their reach and comfort zone, but I should not be placing 7 year old expectations on my 4 year old and I feel like that’s what I do when he fails. And when he fails he is crushed and his world ends. You can see it across his face. He is just like his mommy with wearing his emotions out in the open so everyone knows.

In these moments I am learning to back off, to lower my expectations to attainable things and to love my children. More importantly to make sure I TELL them I love them. They need to hear those words out of my mouth more. They need to know that I love them, even after awful behavior, they need to hear that I love them even when they act out in ways that embarrass me and break me down, and hurt my heart. They need to know that I will love them as I teach them these things are not okay, that they will happen but that we can find a better way to tackle the situation. That it doesn’t matter what happens my love for them is for always.

And I don’t TELL them this enough. Because I’m embarrassed. Because my heart hurts. Because I am emotionally drained. Because …. because nothing.

1Peter 4:8 “Above all, love each other deeply,1 because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

“Heavenly Father thank you for this beautiful day for learning and for love. In Jesus’ name, Amen”

My world of A.B.A. — April 3, 2015

My world of A.B.A.

I want to start this post off with a disclaimer- I am not a professional, I have not been involved with ABA for years and years. I am just a Momma that has seen so many benefits of ABA in my child and would like to share my experiences and strategies for success with ABA with everyone (or rather anyone that wants to read this 🙂 )

The site I’m referencing: http://www.appliedbehavioralstrategies.com/what-is-aba.html

What is ABA?
“Applied Behavior Analysis is the process of systematically applying interventions based upon the principles of learning theory to improve socially significant behaviors to a meaningful degree, and to demonstrate that the interventions employed are responsible for the improvement in behavior”

In Momma terms- It’s a group of people that help teach your kiddo how to work through behaviors. How to redirect behaviors that are potentially harmful both physically and socially. For us this was using a method of ignoring and being a body block to Leo when he was frustrated or on sensory overload. If the behavior wasn’t physically harming himself or another (screaming, using ugly words, general protesting) the behavior was ignored, and positive praise was given to another person for being quiet and participating in whatever the task is. If he was trying to hit, or kick or throw or pinch or punch then either myself or the tutor would place their body in between Leo and his target. No words would be said, you are literally just using your body as a shield. (This one was SOOOOOO HARD FOR ME. If he hauled off and smacked someone, my first instinct was to smack his hand or his butt. But that method didn’t work. Ignoring totally did)

On top of that was teaching him some key phrases that helped with his transitions- “first/ then” is a HUGE one. (First circle time then milk) Always short and to the point, and he adjusted to this quickly and pretty well.

Leo understands full sentences, he understands when I explain things in detail, but when we are either on the edge of a melt down or in one- the shorter the phrase the better off we are. It’s direct, it’s to the point, it addresses his wants and what is expected of him. It’s crazy effective.

The Tutors.
So we have 4 tutors currently, each one has a different approach and brings out different things in Leo. One has helped his imagination take shape, they go on adventures, they make up stories, the are high energy all of the time. Another has gotten him to focus (a bit) on art and not protest like crazy when making projects. She also helped get him to try new foods and to let her know that squeezes and “Leo burrito” help him feel better. Another has helped with his social at school, and the last shares a love of reptiles, and play, talking and asking and dancing.

They are gold. Trust them. Ask questions. Listen to them. Learn everything you can from them. But most of all- continue what they do in the few hours they are with your kiddo when they aren’t around. Consistency is KEY to growth through ABA.

As parents I think sometimes we think we know whats best for our kids. And I’ll agree with that 80% of the time. But I think we also become to encapsulated in our world, making them feel better after a tantrum or melt down, being the only ones that can understand their words at times, being complacent with the 3 brown foods they will eat, that we can be our kids biggest “holder backers” (yeah I have awesome language skills).

It becomes easy and comfortable for us to continue with what is “working”. But really it isn’t working. ABA is intense. It is emotionally demanding. It is frustrating. It is a team effort. It takes stepping outside of comfort zones. It takes wanting to learn with your kiddo. It takes strength. It is amazing.

If anyone has questions about ABA or my thoughts in more detail about specifics I’d love to answer them.

🙂