"Autism & Memoirs of an Old Maid"…C'hele's Story

May 30, 2007

Crazy Love Poetry

Filed under: Poetry — C'hele @ 14:36
A well loved woman

Is like a rose in bloom,

Both feel heavy and full

With its scent.

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Love is the antidote-

The only cure

That is yet untouched

By those who would pay millions to bottle it.

In its purest form,

It is the most fiercest weapon known to mankind.

When untainted by the philosophy of others,

Love can move mountains with a single thought.

C’hele

 

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May 18, 2007

The Tempests: Another Short Story

Filed under: short stories — C'hele @ 10:59

She stood on the waters edge looking at the point where the sea meets the horizon. Digging her toes into the oyster coloured sand, she was soothed by the gritty, yet silky feeling it provided her. Smiling softly, she raised her right foot and boldly stepped out onto the water. The fluid was incredibly firm and warm, like stepping into a shallow puddle on a hot summers day. Gracefully, she slowly sauntered out onto the water and then her pace soon quickened. Her grey-blue eyes widened wildly and her heart began to race. She felt her excitement intensify the closer she approached the glistening horizon. Suddenly, mysterious heavy clouds of grey, white, and black, slowly circled and entwined themselves together until it had filled the whole sky. The clouds were now spiralling furiously by the time she reached it. The undercurrent beneath her feet suddenly became unstable and she feared that if she were not more careful, she could loose her balance. Long tresses like the colour of smoke, flew about her furiously as she extended her arm out and positioned her hand within the base of the twister. Determined, her long, warm fingers promptly connected with cool ones and the hands firmly clasped themselves tightly together. Unsteady on the water, she pulled with all her might until she finally met, face to face, with herself. Still holding hands, they greeted each other with a mischievous grin and turned around simultaneously to face the land. Glancing at each other excitedly, they suddenly ran back across the water until their feet were upon the shore. Running to a bungalow situated a few meters away from the waters edge, they ran inside, bolted the door, and embraced each other while laughing.

C’hele

May 17, 2007

200 Word Fiction, A Short Story

Filed under: short stories — C'hele @ 04:14
The overcast sky was mottled with dark, sunset-red hues and swarming with flying, spectral-like dragons. I stare at this intimidating spectacle with awe, but I am not afraid. After all, its just a dream. I can see the outlines of their legs as they drift effortlessly through the air and I ponder on how much they resemble a Tyrannosaurus Rex, only with wings. Attempting to make sense of my surroundings I look over to my right, then over my shoulder. My eyes softly fall upon a most beautiful meadow filled with assorted variegated green and yellow flora. Amongst this serene landscape I am beset by the sight and stillness of two tall and magnificent horses who are looking intently back at me. A mare and her stallion are all alone amongst this setting and I cannot help but become mesmerized by their beauty as I gaze upon them. The mare shining like silver as if it were the very reflection of the moon itself, stood elegantly beside her mate whose own body was iridescent and swirling with amethyst and sea-green hues. My heart suddenly leaps with fear at the realization, that I really am in another world. Where am I?

C’hele

 

May 14, 2007

They Say the Eyes are the Windows to the Soul

Filed under: Poetry — C'hele @ 17:34

 (Originally posted on: Sunday, May 06, 2007 at 10:44 AM PDT)

my-baby-picture.jpg

Ebony eyes intense and filled with resentment-

Is imprinted in the face of an infant.

She had been ‘shushed’ of the memories

Of looking down upon earth in frustration,

Whilst standing amongst splendour.

She had fought and lost a battle with the Eternal One

Who whispered in her ear of her destiny.

Bitter and resentful, she left-

Towards the beginning of a long and arduous journey.

She couldn’t help but think as the camera flashed,

If it was so damned important that she come back-

Why couldn’t the Friend at least given her a warning first?

C’hele

Divine Reminders

Filed under: Poetry — C'hele @ 17:32

The essence of presence

Fills my senses

With the musky scent of earth.

Reminding me,

Of who I am.

C’hele

Stop Means Red and Go Is Green. Do I get It?

Filed under: Poetry — C'hele @ 17:31

 

This is a sign.

It is red, and it say’s

“STOP.”

Stop means

“DON’T GO.”

How come,

Like the kids I teach,

That I recognize this very simple fact but still

DON’T comprehend it yet????

by C’hele

Of Misplaced Travellers ~

Filed under: Poetry — C'hele @ 17:30

Reading the signs can never guarantee

That the traveller will not become lost-

After all,

The directions are there all around us

Standing unassumingly to the side

Its detached presence always reminds me

That after the fact, you discover that you’re lost

There’s always another sign

Telling you its ok to make that “U-Turn!”

C’hele

Autism: I’m Not A Bad Parent! I’m A Parent Of A Child With Asperger’s Syndrome ~ “The Beginning, Part III”

Filed under: Aspberger Syndrome, Autism, Special Needs — C'hele @ 17:28

Two days before Michaela was to turn five (in July, 00) she was referred by her paediatrician (and autism specialist) to attend Sunny Hill Heath Centre for Children for a formal assessment with another paediatrician, psychologist, and a social worker. It was an incredibly busy month as we had finally moved on the first of that month into our new home. Michaela was originally referred for a behavioural and language assessment and possible developmental delays. Because she was a late talker she was able to say single words, phrases, and sentences but was unable to carry a conversation, she would become extremely frustrated finding the right words to express herself and often would smack her head with her hand if the word she sought did not come readily to her.

She was able to play solitarily and if she did play with other children they were almost always younger than herself. She was still having difficulty sharing with her peers and was still often aggressive towards them and to animals. At home I once found Caela with a telephone cord wrapped around the neck of our new kitten. She could be vindictive if things did not go her way (very non-compliant), and was having difficulties controlling anger and would often hit and throw things. Her anger problems would further extend to hitting me, when she had a complete melt-down. The only good thing about this was that she was able to feel remorse for what she had done. In the previous fall, Michaela was now attending the special education preschool five days a week. There, they worked very hard observing her in preparation for her Sunny Hill appointment. The special education preschool was very proactive with regards to routines and consistency within its programs.

Before Michaela was enrolled, I was invited to the school to observe the program and speak with the program’s director. I was incredibly pleased with the pleasant surroundings and the wonderful child-centred staff. The school literally radiated warmth, fun and a loving atmosphere. The programs director, Norma, was originally an elementary school teacher for years. She once told me that she went back to school to take the Early Childhood Education Program and the additional ECE Special Need’s training even though she didn’t have to. Norma wanted the children parents of the school to take her seriously. She certainly loved these children and I was very impressed with everything she told me. The children seemed to really enjoy everything that was going on around them, something I later came to better appreciate since autistic children do not like too much stimulation. It was here that Michaela first began speech and occupational therapy and had regular assistance from supported child care consultant. The occupational therapy was incredibly helpful as it was not uncommon for children with autism to be very clumsy, knock things over (she almost always spilled her juice “by accident” each morning), and trip over her own feet. Michaela was officially now a regular member of this school as a child with special needs for behavioural difficulties. Up to this point she had been making progress and was able to follow through with routines within a very structured program (the special ed. preschool).

Sunny Hill after their assessment came to the following diagnosis:

1. Michaela had uneven development with strength in non-verbal skills functioning within the average range.

2. Michaela had a language delay and disorder, functioning around the three year, three month level (she was almost five at the time of this test).

3. She was found to have a very strong willed and controlling personality.

4. Behavioural problems were secondary to difficult temperament, frustration, and emerging ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder).

5. Michaela’s verbal reasoning skills and adaptive behaviours are in the mildly mentally handicapped range.

6. Michaela is a child who is at severe risk of language based learning disabilities.

7. Confirmation of an approximate one to one and a half year delay overall in her understanding and use of some specific language skills.

8. That it was possible that Michaela was on the PDD/Autism Spectrum line.

The team at Sunny Hill then recommended that Michaela:

1. Be placed in a Kindergarten resource room that follows an I.E.P (Individual Education Plan), and offered additional support. (this means that Carla would be in a special education class full-time with some mainstreaming into a regular class).

2. Michaela would have continued language therapy.

3. Michaela was a visual learner and the usage of visual cues, symbols, and schedules would be helpful.

4. Encourage the parents to join the local Difficult Temperament Project for support (I did this but found it not very helpful. It did not address many of the concerns that I observed and have experienced. In my opinion, Caela did not display the normal characteristics of Oppositional Defiance Disorder. I soon was found to be right).

5. Michaela’s professional team encouraged me to continue counselling. I then joined a parent support group (for three years, once a week) at Michaela’s special education preschool with other parents who had children of various ages and disabilities. I also completed my ECE Education at the time and was soon to continue my education in the special needs realm.

6. That Michaela regularly visit a child psychologist (We have been doing this for 6 years now – and the visits have now decreased to once a year now).

7. That Michaela be reassessed by Grade four.

Continued on the previous blog entries on Autism.

C’hele

Autism: I’m Not A Bad Parent! I’m A Parent Of A Child With Asperger’s Syndrome ~ “The Beginning, Part II”

Filed under: Autism, Special Needs — C'hele @ 17:27

Michaela was an irritable baby. Early in her infancy she had to have minor surgery to pop a membrane that permanently covered one eye and was given oral antibiotics. She had been checked for possible sleep apnea and heart difficulties as at night she would suddenly wake up for a gasp of air. Toilet training was completed at three and half years of age and Michaela had recurrent ear infections between two and a half to four and a half years of age. Michaela had an audiology assessment (when she was four years old), with results of normal hearing. She sat unassisted at 12 months of age and walked at approximately 15-16 months of age. She said her first word at around 2 years of age, (“hum-brd, “as she was entranced by the hummingbirds that visited the feeder in the front of living room window). She started combining words at around three years old or so and she grew up to be an incredibly overactive child from the time she learned how to crawl. At the time, we had lived in an older double-wide mobile home on three acres and some areas in the home were quite unsafe and had yet to be repaired. I had already caught Michaela in some potentially dangerous predicaments and had to literally barricade areas off for her safety, as she would constantly disappear and get into mischief. I was becoming a wreck. She was so impulsive and fast, that she would constantly escape and many times I could not find her (and she was only crawling!). The only way for me to get anything done around the house was to have her with me via a kangaroo pouch, later in the highchair, then in a battery operated swing and an exersaucer. When people would come over unannounced, they would be horrified to see how I had barricaded Michaela in the living room. It was then I was first pegged as a “horrible, over-controlling mother“, not willing to let a child to explore her surroundings, etc, etc, etc. I was in tears – they didn’t understand what was going on. Hell, I didn’t even understand!

Like I already mentioned, Michaela was an irritable child and was not happy just sitting around quietly playing with her toys. I observed that Michaela did not play with any toys that were at her own age-level but she would gravitate towards toys six months her junior. She always had to have some form of “movement” whether it was it crawling around in circles, racing around the house, sitting in her swing (outside or inside swing), or sitting in her exersaucer. I observed that whenever I gave her the “motion” she needed she was the happiest and should I take her out, she was immediately miserable. Whenever we visited friends or family the battery-operated swing would always accompany us as she would become miserable, tear the place apart and none of us would enjoy the outing. My grandfather was so concerned with Michaela being in the swing so much he felt that it would cause brain damage! So? To prove my point, I took her out of the swing. Needless to say, he never questioned me again about Michaela’s high energy level and why I kept her in the swing while visiting others. By the way, I need to state that Michaela was never left in her swing or exersaucer for extended periods of time but only when she needed it the most. I remember watching Michaela when she was old enough to stand and move about in her exersaucer. For those who do not know what this contraption is, it is a modern version of the walker but stationary. A child is able to bounce and spin around to view his or hers environment and Michaela literally wore hers out. I would watch her spin around until she vomited. Later when she became accustomed to it, she would spin around and around then suddenly stop. Her eyes were almost rolling in the back of her head; she was enjoying the dizzying sensation so much. The strong need for sensory stimulation was incredibly obvious.

My marriage was over when Michaela was a year and a half old and Michaela and I ended up moving into my parents home until my divorce was finalized – and my poor mother who looked after Michaela whilst I was away at work, I found, was also barricading things off! She was constantly amazed at Michaela’s impulsivity and high energy level. At the age of two, Michaela spontaneously ran into the living room, tripped on her own feet, fell, and hit her chin on my mother’s glass coffee table. The result was a trip to the hospital and four stitches to her chin. By this time, I was really concerned about Michaela as she seemed to be so scattered at times. I remember when she was around three and a half, taking her to Costco one day. Within half an hour, she was miserable, whining, then crying, trying to get out of the buggy. I could not for the life of me, appease her. She literally leaped out of the cart and headed over to an area where large jars of pickles sat with the intentions of smashing one. I was beside myself, one minute she was ok, the next I had a tyrant on my hands! Whilst attempting to wrestle the jar of pickles out of her hands a couple stood nearby, observing the situation. After safely putting the jar back where it belonged, I tried to calm Michaela down, who was by now having a full-blown melt-down. The couple just shook their heads and I’ll never forget what that woman told me: “You are a very bad mother; you should take that child out right now and spank the hell out of her.” Horrified, embarrassed, and at a loss as to what to door say, my weeping is what shook Michaela out of her melt-down out of concern for mommy. I ignored the couple, picked up Caela, left the full buggy where it was and left the store. It was later I discovered, that the lights and the overly stimulating environment is what caused Michaela’s behaviour and for her to “shut-down.” I was relieved to know that it wasn’t due to me.

She wasn’t the typical child and the more I expressed this concern, the more I was shot-down by others. The best advice I could ever tell other parents who suspect “anything” of their children is to always go by your gut-feeling, it will always be right. Despite the heart-ache I had to endure from being attacked by family and friends I have absolutely no regrets. I remain true to the old adage that “a mother always knows best.” Later I will explain why it was so hard for other’s to see what I observed and why it was so important to stick to my gut feeling at this time.

Michaela started Preschool at three years of age and the Early Childhood Educators were having difficulties communicating with her. Michaela was non-compliant, highly energetic, unable to sit for circle time, and aggressive towards other children. I observed at my mother’s home that Michaela would attack the pets in the house out of frustration and anger. It was extremely difficult for the teachers to deal with her high energy level and her inability to follow direction. Both at home and at school, she seemed to be sad, aggressive and angry all the time. At home at night, Michaela was constantly waking me up in the middle of the night for her need for security (to be with me), or she would wake up because she couldn’t sleep. The preschool was concerned about possible special needs issues that needed immediate early intervention, so they invited a social worker from a special needs preschool to come and observe Michaela.

I was so impressed with care and attention to Michaela’s needs and the respect and sensitivity shown to myself and her father regarding these issues. I was stressed having to deal with an unnecessary four year divorce, Michaela’s special needs issues, my attorney from hell, having to live with my parents for four years (until my divorce finalized), standing by my beliefs that Michaela indeed did have special needs (when Caela’s father, family and friends blamed me for creating an unnecessary label and that she was just a late bloomer), loosing everything I owned due to my divorce, and more. I couldn’t think straight anymore and was close to a nervous breakdown. The Early Childhood Educators were aware of all of this and were always there to lend an ear. Later found I found (to my extreme guilt in my need to talk often), I caused the preschool teachers many times, to be late for their next class. I am extremely grateful for the compassion, care, and concern they displayed towards Michaela and I. After the necessary reports were filed, Michaela was unable to stay and needed to be transferred to a special education preschool. Impressed with the assistance we received from the Early Childhood Educators, I decided to enrol myself into an Early Childhood Education Program. This, in my opinion, was the beginning of my understanding early childhood development and understanding my daughter better.

To be continued…

C’hele

Autism: I’m Not A Bad Parent! I’m A Parent Of A Child With Asperger’s Syndrome ~ “The Beginning”

Filed under: Aspberger Syndrome, Autism, Special Needs — C'hele @ 17:23

A long while ago, I attempted to create a blog solely about my personal experiences as a single parent raising a child with autism and the nature of autism itself.  I had great difficulties keeping the blog alive as I still felt too much pain and frustration to even “want to go there.” The re-posted entry is about my pregnancy with Michaela.  It is my hope that other parents of children with autism will find the enclosed information informative as they compare it to thier own experiences during pregnancy.  Here it is:

——————————————

Like so many other parents I will divulge the experiences of heart-break, the frustrations and challenges, and learning experiences involved in raising and caring for a child with Autism. I will both rant, despair, and share with all of you. I will also share the blessing along the journey.

Michaela has been instrumental in moulding me into the person I am today. I often tell her that when she was in heaven standing alone with God, before she was in my tummy, she looked down, pointed, and picked me. I may not of fully understood the profound meaning to this in the past, but I understand now, the “Gifts” bestowed upon me by both her and the Great Mystery. Life may be difficult and not fair, but it has taught me lessons about unconditional love, compassion, how to breathe, how to be strong and to learn how to take one day at a time. I continue to endeavour to remain focused and positive whilst on this journey for both Michaela and I.

C’hele

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“No river can return to its source, yet all rivers must have a beginning.”

~ A Native American Proverb

And so I begin. At the very beginning, when my daughter was developing in a cozy, snug world that was warm, fluid, and shadowy. When sounds consisted of the steady intermingling of heart-beats and music, lot’s of classical music. My pregnancy went smoothly and pretty normal, well at least I thought so. This was my first and only pregnancy, so I have nothing to compare it to except from stories from other mothers. Michaela did not move around much throughout the pregnancy, and many times I often had to visit the doctor just to check and see if she was alive. Now and again, I was relieved to at least receive some indication that she was, by her hiccupping. She hiccupped a lot actually. I never experienced the feeling of a baby stretching, rolling, and moving about in my belly. Michaela was quiet, too ominously quiet for my liking. The only issue I had during my pregnancy was when I contracted a flu virus and a high temperature at six months, and I had to go on antibiotics for a week. I never smoked, took any drugs of any kind, ate extremely well and walked regularly every day.

The imminent day that Michaela was to arrive, did not go without its difficulties or its major stresses for that matter. In fact, I would not wish the experience on my worst enemy really. I had difficulties convincing the nurses that I suspected that the mucus plug had fallen out and that I needed to be checked by my physician. Instead, I was sent home as my description of the incident was not the “norm“. For the whole day and night I started experiencing light cramping or were they contractions? It was hard to tell and upon comparing to other women, mine were not the same, nor were they consistent. I went back to the hospital to explain to the nurses that I suspected that something wasn’t right and if I could be checked by a doctor. I had to fight like hell until finally they called him in. Upon checking me, the doctor confirmed that the mucus plug had indeed fallen out and he was furious that I was sent home for fear of infection (thank goodness I didn’t have one). An hour later, they induced me.

From that moment on, and all night, I experienced severe back pain and labour (and again I state), that I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. The muscles in my whole body tensed up so bad that that I actually strained some. I had to have two people constantly massage both my upper and lower body for hours. They eventually hooked me up to a monitor to keep an eye on the baby‘s vitals. A long time had passed, and I still wouldn’t dilate and the baby was going in distress. The doctor and nurses became worried and gave me a shot of Demerol in the hopes of relaxing the muscles to increase the dilation. It didn’t work. After having to endure a dozen humiliating positions in order to simulate and increase dilation, nothing worked. They had requested a specialist from Vancouver Island and had flown him in to give me an epidural. FIVE TIMES he stuck that HUGE needle in my lower back to no avail. All the muscles in my body were still too tense and he couldn’t get the needle properly inserted. I could feel the needle sliding into my back with a slight shot of pain followed by a moment of paralysis in my lower extremities. But something felt wrong…It started to really hurt. After five holes in my back and attempting a sixth, my mother feared that some damage could occur and told the specialist to stop. I could feel the blood run down my lower back and buttocks. Exhausted and leaning on my mother, ready to give up, mom whispered the word “Sisu” to me (my other blog offers the definition of Sisu) and this helped to revive me a bit.

Frustrated, the specialist literally threw down the needle on the bed and walked out of the room. One nurse suddenly jumped in and took my hands and said to me: “we have one more position to try, lets go.” Walking in an intoxicated-like manner, they lead me straight to the bathroom. Thank god I am flexible from years of Yoga, because she sat me down on the toilet and with the help of another nurse, they spread my legs wide open like I was some wish bone and told me to lean forward. I did, and after waiting a few moments, they finally saw the crowning of silky hair. Rushing me over to the bed they put me to work. Ready to die from exhaustion (figure of speech), the doctor tells me to only push when he says its ok and to follow the “urge” as I do so. Frightened, because I have no urge to push, I looked straight at my mother with a “what now?“ look. She knew the situation and returned my look with an “it’s ok look“ so, I waited until the doctor gave me the go-ahead. The baby appeared to not want to leave my belly…I felt no help or movement from her whatsoever and told the doctor so. I could hear nurses scurrying about beyond a curtain to my right preparing instruments for a caesarean section. The doctor informed me that they would have to put me under to perform the operation if we were unsuccessful having the baby naturally.

Now I’m angry since I had planned this to be a natural birth and it was my biggest desire to observe my child being born in the world. I was not going to be put under and miss the whole wondrous experience (even if wasn’t so far!). Between feeling anger over this whole ordeal and listening to my mother almost chanting “Sisu,” I grit my teeth and literally pushed that baby out on my own. When she came out, she was incredibly lethargic looking and blue-grey in colour. The doctor was shocked with the realization that I had not one contraction (or the urge to push), and forcibly pushed her out. They put my daughter on my stomach and despite the lethargy and slight bluish colour, she looked healthy. I had two names picked out should the baby be a girl, and decided that I would make my choice as soon as I saw her little face.

Which one it would be, Madeleine or Michaela? I remember looking down and touching her head softly and saying “Hello Michaela.“ She did something I’ll never forget: she looked right at me and kept looking at me for the longest time. We were all amazed with the experience. The doctor then whisked her away to an incubator to the left side of the room and laid her in it to clean her up. Two more doctors entered the room and all three huddled together whispering amongst themselves. Knowing I was worried, the doctor came over to assure me that Michaela was healthy and the lethargy and bluish skin tone was due to the effects of the Demerol. He then proceeded to remove the placenta and put it on a silver tray. Flopping it over, and over again, I looked at him strangely and asked him what the matter was. He told me that a normal umbilical cord has two smaller cords (I believe they are called umbilical arteries) that intertwine around each other to make one cord. Apparently I had three umbilical arteries wrapped together to make the one cord…something the doctor had never seen before. This discovery slightly unnerved me and a thought crossed my mind, if my daughter might have been some extraterrestrial implant! (I‘m joking of course). Later on when I held my daughter in my arms, I knew as I looked down at her that she physically appeared normal, but my intuition was telling me that she was different. Cute as a button, but different.

(To be continued)

C’hele

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