Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Anxiety, Autism, Asperger's What?

As a parent, you think your child is perfect.  I love every thing about each of my children. They both have their quirks, own personalities, and looks that separate them from each other, but there are plenty of things that show me they are related.  Matthew and Natalie love music!  We have dance parties daily and our house is rarely quiet (their favorites are Bruno Mars, Katy Perry, and Kids Bop 23 right now).  They also both love their beds (they get that from Mama :)  Getting them to go to bed is fairly easy.  They love their sleep and will lay in bed and talk about their days each night as they fall asleep.

From about a year old we noticed that Mathew was very particular about certain things.  When it came to his food, the way his bed was, his socks, his diaper, etc. they all had to be the "right way."  Granted, the right way took some time for us to figure out, but we eventually figured him out.  He rarely eats things with strong smells, has a chunky consistency, or  is not cut perfectly.  His pants can never touch the floor and his sleeves cannot go past his wrists. Loud sounds can spiral him into fits and he cannot stand the wind in his face. This is also the child who was not potty trained until 3 1/2, because he held his poop for days and refused to go.

Matthew also has an extremely sensitive side that sometimes makes dealing with him difficult.  He is always worried about me leaving him, missing something important, or not being able to complete a task. If something doesn't go his way, then it is almost like his world falls apart and he loses control.  His tantrums usually entail him throwing himself on the floor, hitting himself (or hitting himself with something else), screaming, then rocking back and forth while hyperventilating.  Now, I know all children have tantrums, but the fact that his can go on for more than minutes (the longest one was an hour and 45 minutes) is stressful and hard to watch.   

Over the past year we noticed that Matthew's particular tendencies were interfering with daily functions.  Going to the bathroom, going to bed, or just getting ready in the morning for preschool could take forever, because of his anxiety and the way he likes things done. Traveling to Indiana for a wedding this month was a wake up call that told us we needed to get a grasp on what was going on.  We had to stay in a hotel for one of the nights, which hasn't happened since Matthew was 9 months old.  The wedding was fabulous and the kids had a great time, but the night was interrupted when Matthew woke up.

Mr. Shark Tank and Matthew shared a bed that night.  Going to bed was easy, of course, but when he woke up in the middle of the night upset because his Dream Lite was not working things became intense.  Not only was he crying, but he was hyperventilating and throwing himself around.  Because we all were sharing a room, the entire family woke up.  We tried everything to get him to calm down, but nothing was working.  He was upset at first because his light wasn't working, but then that led to him getting upset because he couldn't control his breathing or tears.  This led us all to tears.  Seeing your child suffer and so emotional and not being able to do anything about it is extremely heartbreaking.

I made an appointment with his pediatrician the next week.  The meeting with her was great and she spent a ton of time talking with me.  She was aware of his anxiety, but she started asking questions and I knew where she was going with them.  Working with children for all the years that I have, I know the signs of Autism and Asperger's Syndrome.  So, when she asked if I had ever thought of maybe Matthew being Autistic or having Asperger's  I was not surprised (it had crossed my mind several times).  Matthew is a very sympathetic child when it comes to others and their feelings, so I made sure to mention that to his doctor, since I know that some children with Autism have a hard time with that.

We decided to start by dealing with Matthew's anxiety and his "sensory awareness" (as I like to call it) and go from there if necessary.  I made an appointment with our school district to have an assessment done to see if they can pinpoint any issues.  We also found a place that does sensory therapy and decided on a plan to get his anxiety in control.  So far, what we are doing seems to be a step in the right direction, for Matthew has not had a tantrum or fit in days.  I cannot remember the last time this has happened and we are so happy that things seem to be improving.   He is such a loving child that we hope when he goes to school his teachers will be able to see his caring and smart side and not see his anxiety and fear that we see so often.  We as parents want to make sure that our child is happy, content, and will be able to succeed in school.  So, for now we just pray that we are doing what is best and our son will continue to be able be strong and enjoy his carefree days.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Favorite things and germs go away!

Because kids grow and change so fast, I want to keep track of Matthew and Natalie's favorite things every now and then.  I cannot believe our first born will soon be four and that our second surprise, Natalie, is over a year and a half old.  Parents always say that time flies when you have kids, but I did not believe it until I had children of my own.  I love how they grow and develop new skills, but I will miss these days when they are older.

Matthew's favorite things these days include Batman (we had to special order his Halloween costume this year, because he had to have the original Batman costume and not the Dark Knight one), dancing his "booty dance,"  puzzles (he can put together one faster than I can), and trains of any kind.  He has been a picky eater since about one, but he will always eat yogurt, applesauce, cereal, and granola bars,  Thank goodness for yogurt and the ability to hide small amounts of pureed vegetables in it, or else he would never eat them.

Here are pics of Matthew in his special order costume and doing his "booty dance."

Natalie's favorite things are changing a lot, but she consistently has to have her "entourage", as we call it, of her pink blanket with her name on it, a ribbon tagged lovey, her sock monkey, a stuffed cat, and a giraffe she got as a Christmas gift.  How we let her start taking all these items with her to bed and around the house I have no idea, but she sleeps great with them and they always calm her down, so we will take it.  Natalie also just discovered her love for baby dolls and plays "mommy" all day.  Her appetite is great when she is healthy, so I cannot complain, except for when she climbs on the table to go steal someone else's food if she runs out.  The only thing we are trying to stop her from eating is dog food... yes dog food.  She loves it.  She is not picky with the brand and will shovel it in as fast as she can before I can catch her.  Gross I know, but this is the child who kills flies with her bare hands and eats them (barf).
Caught eating Payton's dog food
Sneaking over to get Matthew's dinner

 Now, I consider myself a bit of a clean freak when it comes to germs and keeping the house sanitized. So, I don't know what is going on, but it seems as if everyone is sick!  Natalie is getting over RSV, I have had a cold off and on for over 3 months, Matthew has a constant stuffy nose and one of our little friends is stuck in the hospital trying to hurdle over a bad case of RSV and pneumonia.  We are praying this cold air that came into STL can freeze and kill all these nasty germs, so we can all stay healthy for more than a few days.  Spring is just around the corner and I am ready :)

Friday, January 11, 2013

So, here we go... this is my attempt at starting a blog.  After trying to keep up with the scrapbooks I used to be so diligent about updating, I realized that I would never be able to finish what I wanted to do with them.  I wanted my kids to have a place to look at photos and memories from when they were little, so here I am... blogging (or trying to).

Today, Matthew is 3 1/2 and coming up on his fourth birthday, He is an extremely loving, caring, and sensitive child, which can lead to some vicious tantrums and meltdowns, but the hugs and "I love you's" from him are the best.  Natalie is 20 months and is our adorable, bossy, wild child.  She is still a momma's girl and constantly wants attention.

We live the typical crazy normal life that a lot of our friends, who are parents, live as well.  Mr. Shark Tank works full time outside of the house doing what he does best (finance, business valuation, huh?  After all these years I still have a hard time explaining what he does).  All I know is that he works really hard for us and I am able to stay at home with the kids.  I don't just care for my kids, but I care for a few of my friends and family's kids during the day too.  My days can be stressful and lead to many nights that I indulge in a a glass of wine, but I love every minute.  Watching my kids and their little friends grow up right before my eyes is amazing and I would not trade it for anything.

This past weekend the kids attended their first wedding together.  Natalie is not the best road trip companion, which led to HOURS of screaming in the car on the way to Indianapolis and on the way home from Northwest Indiana.  While riding in the car was not so much fun, the wedding itself was fabulous and seeing our kids have so much fun with the family was priceless.  They danced the night away and loved the attention. Natalie thought it was necessary to dance by the DJ booth most of the night, but I just think she knew who was playing the music and wanted to show them she needed a good beat to dance to.

Here are a few pics:

Here is to hoping I can keep up with this and record the great memories our little family creates every day.