Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Could It Be the Drugs?

I had a good moment today but first I need to share something shameful.

Many months ago, before I received training at NYU, I was having many many problems with Logan's behavior. He especially had trouble traveling with me on the buggyboard. His brother would ride in the stroller and he'd ride on the buggy board attached to the back but often he'd leap off, lean, or sit..... basically be really annoying. After several warnings, I lost my temper and practically slammed him against the wall of a building while we were on our way home. I yelled at him so hard. A woman passed by and yelled, "They could call social services on you. You're hurting him!" She walked away as she was saying this and in my rage, I yelled back at her and defended myself.

The truth was, she was right. I had lost control. At that moment, I told myself that I had to do it to get his attention but really, I'm sure all I did was scare Logan and not teach him anything.

That was many months ago. Now I have Klonopin, my anti-depressants, more special needs parent-friends, acupuncture, and this blog. Things are different now and I wonder how much the drugs are playing into my parenting skills. At a diner today with Logan, I received two compliments from strangers on how I was handling Logan's behavior. I was so surprised. I actually got a similar comment yesterday too from another stranger. Even though Logan frustrates me on a daily basis, I guess he's getting better at listening. Sometimes, I need outsiders to tell me that.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Did I Slow Down His Progress?

Spencer, my 23-month old, who has a feeding disorder, used a fork today for the first time. He stabbed his GFCF Koreanish-style zucchini pancake piece and put it in his mouth. I had been doing it for him but got distracted and walked away and he did it himself because he couldn't wait for me. I was so proud of him. I clapped and danced to show him how happy I was. I think he got the message. He ate a lot at that meal.

I still have trauma from Spencer's food strike days (only 6 months ago) when all he would drink was pediasure and eat baby cheese doodles. Things got better after his allergies were diagnosed (gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, etc.) and he started with his new feeding therapist, Anastasia Pieri with Theracare. She's consistent and caring and has always tried to make her strategy work for my entire family since Logan always presented his own challenges into the mix.

Anyway, as proud as I was about the fork incident, in my heart I feel like I could have pushed him to do this earlier. Sometimes, I get so bogged down in routines. I forget the big picture. I have to try to remember that learning how to feed oneself is more important than finishing a meal. I think I'm hung up on food issues. Maybe that is why I've had a weight problem all of my life but that is another post.

Can an ADHD Kid Wait on Long Lines?

I'm sure you can guess by now. My Logan is not so great with waiting. Lines are really hard for him too. So my husband thought I was crazy when I took him to Old Navy on Black Friday but there was a giant sale and he really needed a winter coat. I had waited too long to buy him one.

The line looked liked a maze around the store but we stood on it and during that whole time, I kept saying things like:

"Logan, get back here. I can't see where you are."
"Logan, get off the floor."
"Logan, stop touching that."

I don't know how this came to my head but I said, "Logan, you are the Family Line Waiter now. It's your job to wait for us. If you get off the line, you will lose our spot."

So then he stays on the line! He is quiet and paying attention and very concerned about not losing his place! Who was this child?

Well, I tried this method at Sports Authority today and it worked again! Maybe it worked because we were buying things for him. I don't know. All I know is that I found a trick and I wanted to share it with you all.

Monday, December 29, 2008

My Poor Downstairs Neighbors

When I was single, I used to live in a two-family house on the first floor and the kids that lived upstairs ran wild every day and night. I complained but met with blank responses from an exhausted babysitter or an annoyed mother who said, "they are children, this is what they do."

All I could think was, "What a terrible mother. Those kids are so spoiled."

Now here I am living in an apartment building above two single women and I have two kids with very heavy feet who run everywhere even if they are not in a hurry. They jump and drop things and they wake up so early. My neighbors also work at night and sleep in the morning. It's a bad mix.

Over the course of a few months, I figured out how to best handle this. It's not perfect but it's the best I can do. If you have any other tips, please let me know:

1. Tell your neighbors the truth. Tell them your child has a disability. It might help them be less annoyed. It also helps if they meet your child so your child puts a face to the person you say he's bothering.

2. Buy extra padding. It really is fair that you do that even though it's not your fault he has sensory issues and needs to stomp and run.

3. Ask them to bang up on the ceiling or come upstairs to complain. This can send a message to your child that he is bothering someone. Logan's face always freezes up when he hears banging on the ceiling and gets a little scared.

4. Make your child write a "sorry" card. Anything you can do to help him remember that it is wrong to be inconsiderate to neighbors.

5. If you like your neighbors and you think their complaints are reasonable, give them your phone number so it makes it easier to complain. I think banging on the ceiling and having to come upstairs causes a person stress. My neighbors are really nice. They know that Logan has issues and always apologize for complaining.

The most important thing to me is that they know that I'm doing something about it. What I hated about that previous upstairs neighbor is that I thought she was a terrible mother and that always made me angrier whenever the noise became really unbearable.

Postscript: Click here to read what happened with my downstairs neighbors in September '09. You won't believe it!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

3 Reasons to Keep Seeing Your Non-Special Needs Friends

These days, I feel like all my friends are parents with special needs. For me, it's critical to have the support but these are all new friendships and close friendships take time to grow. What I'm trying to say is that I'm still very lonely.

Yesterday, my old friends decided last-minute to have a playdate and invited us. All of their children are typical. Playdates with them used to be very stressful. I loved seeing my friends but my conversations were always interrupted with giving time-outs or trying to prevent Spencer from climbing everything. My friends were always understanding but still I was embarrassed and exhausted by the kids.

I hesitated going because I wasn't sure if Logan would behave. Kai didn't even think twice. He wanted to go so I decided to be my new anxiety-free self and just go. That night I baked some GFCF cookies and some CF frosting so that Logan would have a treat to eat.

I'm so glad I went. We stayed for hours. We all had the best time. If you ever hesitate on seeing your non-special needs friends, here are three reasons to brave it out:

1. Since I don't see my non-special needs friends that often, I was able to compare his behavior from the last time we met. All of my friends commented how much calmer Logan had gotten. I noticed too. Logan played with the other boys well (not perfect but SO MUCH better than the last time) and Spencer didn't climb everything in sight as usuAdd Imageal. My friends gave me hope that the DAN! treatments were working because they really thought Logan had made huge improvements.

Logan's best moment: Drawing with the girls. He drew the best pictures I had ever seen: butterflies with rainbow wings. (Lots of details!) He even gave the picture to my friend's daughter Julia and not me. Great social skills, Logan!!!! It was such a great picture, I was even a little jealous.

2. Seeing your old friends when you are feeling down is like putting on your favorite sweater to get warm. I had so much fun talking to them. I felt like the kind of person I was before I learned acronyms like OT, SPD, and IEP. It felt good. I was relaxed.

3. Even though it's hard, it was good to expose Logan and Spencer to typical kids. They are good models and there is less structure and so Logan and Spencer are forced to self-regulate more. Logan also had a chance to do a craft project (decorating GFCF cookies) with typical kids without much support. I was really proud of him.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

What Vacation? There's No Vacation

I have to be honest. I really dread when there is a school vacation. This vacation just started and already I'm exhausted.

They say that routine is important to children with ADHD. Well, it's important to me too. Spencer's ABA therapists are on vacation and Logan is home all day. The only person who comes is the speech therapist and what a relief that is. I actually don't know what to do with both of them when they are home on the weekdays and my husband is at work. It's hard to do activities with them when they need so much one-on-one attention.

When they play together, they make a huge mess, break things, and Spencer usually ends up getting hurt. I can't turn my back on them for a second but of course I do. I have to go to the kitchen and get their food or my food or something.

Yesterday morning started fine. I went to Trader Joe's, put a lot of GFCF foods in the cart, spent a fortune, and got back in the car. It was a little challenging because I couldn't put two children in the cart and had to make sure Logan wouldn't wander but we managed. I tied a scarf to his arm and tied the other end to the cart. Some people saw me and laughed. I laughed too.

However, when we got home, Spencer wouldn't take his nap. That nap is my one break in the day to do things like eat lunch, wash dishes, cook dinner, and make phone calls for the kids. Some break but still, it's a break to me. Since Logan was home, I was also going to play with him and then encourage him to play by himself for a while while I read a book. But after almost an hour of trying, Spencer wouldn't sleep can I fell into depression.

The boys became out of control or at least it felt like it. My medication was making me drowsy too so I had no energy to deal with them. I tried to sit with Logan as he was drawing and I was falling asleep. I completely ignored that Spencer was playing with our phone and somehow recorded twenty minutes of me talking to Logan in my half-sleep. I was really spiraling downward fast.

After I got my second wind, I started to think about the opportunities I had for this vacation and to try to not to be so depressed about it. Here they are:

1. Get to go to a lot of appointments like dental, doctor, evaluations, etc... without missing school.
2. Get to see how my boys are changing in terms of how they can play together. I do see some improvement.
3. Get to see how much Logan has improved or not improved in areas of behavior now that he's home for a longer period of time.
4. Food is less of an issue. If he doesn't eat, he has to wait until the next meal and then he learns that he has to eat when he's supposed to. I'm currently working on this lesson.
5. I don't have to rush to get him changed, fed, and on the bus in the morning so less stress there.

I think what I need to do is find more organized activities for them but at the same time find a little break time for myself. Next week will be easier as we have a lot of appointments and won't have too much time to be bored in the house.

Friday, December 26, 2008

If You're In NY and have an ADHD preschooler

The NYU Child Study Center is recruiting for a research study on parenting programs for overactive, impulsive, and inattentive 3-4 year olds. Our family participated a few months ago and it was very very helpful. Both Kai and I went to the sessions so that we could be on the same page about what we learned. It's one-on-one training and I think if you were to pay for it, it would be really expensive but the best part is: IT'S FREE!!!!! They will even pay you! In one of the programs, the trainer goes to your house!

When Do You Tell Your Child He's Different?

Is there ever a right time? Today was a fairly good day. The boys got a few presents that they liked and Logan was looking forward to playing with one right before bedtime. Unfortunately, just minutes before bedtime, Logan and Spencer were playing near the trampoline and then Logan locked his brother in a sliding door closet and I couldn't get it open. Spencer was crying and I was worried he would get hurt. My husband helped me get him out. After seeing that Spencer was okay, I sent Logan straight to bed and told him that there will be no playing with his new toy, no pre-bedtime playtime with dad or mom and no stories. (Once again, thanks to Klonopin, I did this without yelling) He was devastated and he kept saying how he had a bad day and he begged for another chance and also said ...... and this broke my heart, "I can't control my body."

I guess sooner or later, I'll have to tell Logan why he sometimes can't control his body. He's such a good kid and I know he really loves and cares for his brother but he really just can't help himself at times. I hated having to "punish" him but I'm not sure if there is a better way to let him know that this was unacceptable and dangerous behavior. However, I did tell him a million times that I wasn't mad anymore and that I loved him and that I know he'll try better tomorrow. I hope that was the right thing to do.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wine, Food, and Special Needs Friends

The holidays don't mean that much to me anymore. My family and extended family are sadly estranged. However, this year, my friend who also has a child with special needs invited me to her house for dinner. I usually decline the few social invitations I get because of my children's behavior and diet but my friend's child is on the same restrictive diet so it would be an easy night as far as food was concerned.

Kai and I decided to go and I was determined to have fun so I promised myself:

1. If they don't eat, I won't care
2. I will pick my battles and only give Logan time-out for major poor choices
3. I will not be embarrassed for being too strict

At dinner, we all sat together at the same time with real plates, wine glasses, and cloth napkins, and just then I realized that my husband I had not been in such a scene in years. Our hyperactive kids always prevented us from meeting people in restaurants and even taking them to friend's homes as they would become overstimulated and eventually break something or hurt themselves.

Today was obviously different since our hosts were very understanding. I actually felt like a normal person going to a normal dinner party with a few exceptions. There was a typical child at the party who was only two weeks older than Spencer. My husband and I watched in amazement as he quietly sat down and fed himself pieces of lamb and squash with utensils! This is something Spencer is nowhere near able to do. Also, while Spencer's limited vocabulary includes words like "boo" for "blue." This boy says things like, "Those are yummy." I was grateful that my husband got to see this so that he understands the depth of Spencer's developmental delays and why I always need to fight to get him more therapy.

While our family is active and goes on outings every weekend, tonight was a great lesson that we as a family need to be more social. It's not just because we get to see how other children are doing. I like to watch my husband enjoy himself with other people, especially parents of special needs children. I had lots of fun and felt a lot less anxious but of course the glass or two of red wine also helped. I'm going to promise myself that I'll host my own dinner party soon.

Releasing My Chi

If you are Korean, you may have had this experience. You feel awful, you are burping or yawning and have a fogginess in your head or a migraine. You may even be nauseous. When I was little, I had this a lot and my mother always said I was "Che Haeso" which I think means my energy is blocked. I always thought it was indigestion.

Anyway, she'd massage me in a way to "push blood down to my fingers." Then she'd take a sterilized sewing needle and prick my thumb to get the "bad blood" out. You might think this is some form of child abuse but it always worked!

Unfortunately I still feel like this but the migraines can be unbearable. None of my Western medicine doctors could help me with it so after my panic episode, I decided that I needed to treat this and that acupuncture was the right way to go. I don't want my energy blocked anymore. With these kids, I need all my energy.

Luckily, I found a GREAT acupuncturist in my neighborhood who was actually affordable! She spends a lot of time trying to figure out how to best help me. She's Korean American but uses Japanese techniques. I have no idea what she is doing to me but I have not had a migraine or vomiting incident since I met her. Most importantly, when I lie on her table, I can actually relax. I still feel weird that I am just lying there and someone is taking care of me but I think can get used to it. It works better than Klonopin, that's for sure. If you want to find out more about her check out:

(pictured above: My acupuncturist, Hyun Lee)

The Wii, The Great Disappointment

Another special needs parent with a similar aged son as Logan suggested that I get Logan the Wii for Christmas. Since Logan is hyperactive and inattentive, it would help get out the excess energy and help him also with focusing. He said that his son loved the game and it was a great motivator for him to finish dinner and complete his homework. I was so thrilled. I wanted to go buy it immediately.

My husband, like with all my big ideas, disagreed right away. Only until I found that I could buy and return (for a full refund) a used Wii from Game Stop, did he agree to try it out.

We brought it home and Logan had such a hard time handling the joystick. He couldn't follow the directions and gave up several times. The funny thing is that he still wants to play it, which I don't understand. I still think the Wii is good for him but I guess he's just not ready for it yet. The only way he could play is if I was coaching him every step of the way. This reminds me of our disappointments with soccer class and martial arts class. He loved the classes but he was unable to control himself. Those classes broke my heart and the Wii kind of broke it again. It's crazy. Most days, I really do accept my son's disability but sometimes......

I got him an easier game for Christmas, the Leapster 2. I hope he enjoys it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Bra and Panty Therapy

It's so shameful how I have not purchased a bra in years except for nursing bras. However, I stopped nursing months ago. The old bras I had were just that: old, discolored, and stretched out. Just looking at them depressed me.

I needed to go out and get a real fitting but childcare was once again an issue. Luckily today, my lovely brother's fiance and brother offered to babysit since I had an appointment for Logan. I finished early, dropped Logan off and zoomed over to Victoria's Secret because it was nearby. I went to a fitting and was SHOCKED to find out my bra size. It's really true how they say most women are wearing the wrong bra size.

I won't tell you what my size is but let's just say I was disappointed and happy at the same time. All I know is that buying some matching panties and new bras that will actually FIT should provide me some happy points. I need more happy points in my life.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Morning Chart

Why does the written word have so much power? This morning, Logan woke up late but thanks to our chart, we got ready for school on time. I did have to help him with his clothes, but that was because he was still soooo sleepy. Otherwise, he looked at the chart for his next steps and went on to do them as if it was the law. The chart helps me too because I always forget to give him his nose spray in the morning. I wonder why exactly are charts so helpful. Does it help with his anxiety? Does it help him organize? Will it help him learn to organize or will I just have to make charts for him until he's 21?

Color By Numbers

This week I realized something about Logan's ability to organize. I'll give him a picture of bunny to color, he'll take a crayon and run all over it with just one or two colors. It won't look so great, but then I'll give him a chart where I write 1= red, 2=green, etc. He will then do a terrific job coloring. He'll even try to stay inside the lines. It also helps if I sit next to him but after a few sheets, I had to take a phone call and he went on to color a few more sheets by himself. This is unusual for him. He always needs me to say, "Great Job." every 60-90 seconds. Now we have charts for everything in this house. I have his morning routine written in pictures in a chart. Mornings are kind of hard for us. Sometimes, I think I may end up sending him to school in his pajamas. I'll let you know how the chart works out.

Confronted My Husband

Seeing as how our marriage completely revolves around our boys, I knew that our marriage and my husband himself was in need of soul repair. I let my husband take one of my Klonopin and an hour later he went out and bought me flowers! Eureka!

Klonopin for everyone!

Then, I "made" him go to his doctor and get some for himself but he came home empty-handed. "Work out," said the doctor. I was so mad. So I had it out with Kai because I was hoping the Klonopin would make him more interesting and more interested in me. I told him how I wanted our marriage to be better and pointed out what I needed and that he wasn't providing it. I even asked him if he was seeing another woman. That's how concerned I was.

His side: He's tired and there is no other woman. He's stressed at work and the GFCF + a whole lot of other restrictions diet really prevents a lot of spontaneity and convenience. This is true. It's really depressing. The diet gives me a lot of stress too.

He told me he'd join a gym. I was skeptical that would help but today, he joined and came back in a great mood and even talked to me and Kai is a man of few words. More importantly, he came up with the idea of taking Logan to the pool. The last time we took Logan to a 3-foot deep pool he cried and wanted out immediately so I knew that Kai volunteering to do this alone was a big step for him. I was really happy that he was willing to deal with the possible tantrum but they went and came back hours later with huge smiles on their faces. Logan swam in the pool with a donut! They even "raced" together. This is a boy who has sensory issues with water! I was so proud of Logan but I was really so happy with my husband for going the extra mile. Today was a great day.


I hate to say this but it makes me a better parent. Through a research study at the NYU Child Study Center, my husband and I received great training to deal with Logan's issues. Even though we know what we are supposed to do, it's still so hard. It gets personal. We get tired. I get emotional. Klonopin relaxes me.

First of all, I can breath better which was my biggest problem. However, I had no idea that I would be so relaxed that I could give that straight face when I give him a time out. With Klonopin, I have no urge to yell and Logan used to call me a "monster" on those days when I just completely lost my temper. One thing I did notice is that I still have trouble doling out the praises. Maybe that is an anti-depressant thing? All these drugs are new to me. I had never taken anything before. Looking back, I really wish I had. It took a trip to the emergency room to wake me up.