Sunday, April 3, 2011

A "Mummy Mental" decision?

Get it? "Mummy Mental".. "Monumental"?? Okay, my play on words didn't quite work out. I promise not to give up my day job. I'll rephrase that; when I get a day job (that doesn't involve keeping tabs to a over-smart 6 year old) I won't give it up..:)

Today, in the UK is Mothers' Day. Don't ask me why it's different in North America, it just is. So it seems apt, as I am British, that I have been reminded of my priorities as a Mum. We aren't talking about the wiping poopie bums and snotty noses here - although there are days I feel that's all I do. These are the hard, but soul-rewarding decisions, that prove you are a Mum after all.

As I have mentioned a million times on my blog, I have a son who has PDD-NOS - a mild form of Autism. As with all children with Autism, how their life is affected is very individual. How my son is affected is different to another child who has Autism. With D, he has sensory issues, fine motor issues, anxiety, behavioural issues and a fantastic interest in science. Each issue has it's own types of treatment and equipment to enable him to cope.

One of the issues that was becoming concerning over the last couple of months was his fine motor skills and how this was affecting his written output. As he is heading into Grade 1 next year, this issue is becoming a little more urgent. If there is no way to enable him to confidently write the stories/reports he needs to, then his enthusiasm to write will be severely impacted. We all know what it's like. If we constantly feel we are unable to do something, then we avoid it. That's the excuse I use when it comes to housework and I am sticking to it! (Actually you can add hill-workouts into that category too).

So I was talking to D's resource room teacher about how we could get a head start on this issue and we were discussing about getting D a basic laptop computer so he could type his work out instead of having to handwrite it. It's not to say that he won't study handwriting, but when it comes to the situation where he has to write more than a few words, typing will be a lot less frustrating. We were investigating ways of getting D this equipment. This teacher thought about asking the school board/provincial education board, but the earliest she could get away with this would be January next year. Schools aren't meant to request these resources till grade 2 really, so we would be jumping the gun about 6 months early. The resource room teacher would also have loads of documentation and testing to do for D before he would even get his hands on anything vaguely electrical.

The second option was to look to see if his Autism funding would pay for it. I have heard mixed reports whether this was possible, so I called the funding unit. Answer? Nope; this is something they aren't doing at the moment. Although probably in the future.

We looked at the options and then saw $700 chilling out in our bank account. Seven hundred dollars that were ear-marked for my trip to New York. I have been planning to run the 12 hour race "Mind the Ducks" in May. This money was meant to be used for the flight. The new iPad2 was out in Canada and I had to make a decision. Go to NY on a trip that was essentially pleasure, or equipment for D that would help him function in school.

This is where the Mummy decision comes in. No brainer really, (although that didn't make the handing over of $619+tax at the computer store any less gut-wrenching). D is now a proud owner of an iPad and keyboard.

So really, how did this make me feel? Finally making the switch from being selfish to self-less. I am disappointed that I am not going to be meeting my friends in NY. I have been looking forward to this trip for 6 months. I have been planning stupid stunts we would do and wondering what antics we would get up to. I feel I am letting my friends down, because this may mean it will be another year before we can meet-up. It's also means I fail in another running goal I had set myself for this year. However, after seeing the confidence D has in writing now, I can't help but be glad that I made the right decision.

After only a week, D has overcome his fear of writing words. He now writes words everywhere - even in places you rather he didn't. He was writing messages to the Beluga whales on the Aquariums comment wall. He is now trying to write cards for his play-mates. He stalks my friends on Facebook, because he wants to send them messages over chat. (Thanks Jesse and Angie for being a good sport about this). Okay, so his writing usually involves potty talk and farm yard animals - he's six, what else is there in life?; but to see him concentrate and sound out the letters of the word is for me amazing. This was something he wouldn't do. He wouldn't even try. He's a perfectionist. Without the ease of a delete key, the pressure to write was too much.

The iPad has lots of other applications that would help him in school. Tools, games and programs designed to help with social play, eye contact, fine motor skills and scheduling. They are cheaper than I thought and he is using them all. Until I really looked into it, I didn't realise how much many apps had been written for the iPad, with Autistic kids in mind.

I know as parent's we sometimes have to make decisions that go against our selfish human nature, but it is so rewarding when results of those decisions are so overwhelmingly positive and almost instantaneous.

The decision not to go to NY also means I have time to go and take an ABA course, so I will be able to implement ABA behaviour courses for D at home. (As I mentioned in my previous blog, D's ABA funding has gone now, so we have to pay for ABA intensive courses out of our pocket, or do it ourselves). Both the trip and the course are in the second week of May. My husband couldn't get the time off work for me to do BOTH this course AND the trip to NY: Now this isn't an issue.

So to my friends who I won't be seeing in NY; I am sorry not to be able to meet up with you, but I know as most of you are parent's you will understand my decision. However, here is a little something for you, just so you know my decision was worth it.

"The Most Sublime act is to set another before you"

William Blake - Proverbs of Hell



  1. You are a rock star! A rock star. D is so very fortunate to have such an incredible mom! I think about this all the time, as my older son (neuro-typical) has dysgrafia. He hates writing. He despises it because he can't output so much, but he has plenty to say. He's incredibly intelligent and an amazing story-teller, but frustration doesn't output anything...believe me. You are inspiring me to look into this for my little guy. Thank you!

  2. As a fellow mom, I totally understand how difficult it is to balance our children's needs and our own needs to have fun and recharge our batteries.

    I'm sorry that you won't get to go to Mind The Ducks this year, but now I have one less person ot be jealous of. ;)

  3. You are an AMAZING mother. Wow! So many moms of neurotpyical kids aren't half of what you are. It's hard to make responsible decisions, but true friends understand, right?
    I'm a new follower =) My son also has Autism. It's hard but I love that I can relate to you. Come say hi @
    <3 Kelsi

    btw, where are you finding the ABA home info? I would love to do that for my son...