This blog was initially set up as a means of communicating with my son's team. Since then, I've heard from other parents with similar stories. If you are living with challenges or journeying alongside someone who is, you are not alone. There are many of us. I'm a single adoptive Mom ( of a young man who lives with many abilities and many diagnoses. We have journeyed together through many challenges and a few adventures over the years as my son has tried to find space in this world that makes him feel more comfortable, an attempt made especially difficult when living with Attachment Disorder, PDD-NOS (Autism), Developmental Coordination Disorder, ADHD, prenatal substance exposure, etc. Some of the strongest elements used in this journey have been music, visual arts, therapeutic parenting, team-connection, boundary-setting, boundary-setting, boundary-setting, communication skills, community-building, continual lifeskills training, and elements of Theraplay. (Click here for some written resources.) On this journey, there is laughter and tears and growth and hope. The greatest of these is hope.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Little Lunches

Chef has returned to taking small lunches to school.

We've discussed this every morning this week. He tells me he doesn't need more than the one container he's made because he's put all his vegetables and protein, etc., into what he has in the container. And he's right, he did put in noodles and tofu and carrots, etc.

However, when he has taken small lunches to school in past years, he has usually taken someone else's food at school then stated that it was because he was still hungry.

Interestingly, though, he hasn't used any similar excuses regarding anything he's taken at school thus far this year. Hmmmm. Growth is good.


I've often said, if it weren't for times of issue around school (sensory stressors around bright lights and hallways and crowds and noise, etc., having to get ready in the morning, etc) and chores and lying and stealing and hygiene and responsibility, everything would be fine.

I'm sure many of us have seen someone walk in the door at the end of the day and dump their backpack on the floor or toss their briefcase onto a chair, then flop down on the couch with an exaggerated exhale and a non-relaxed look on their face. They've held it together all day through thick and thin, then they come home and need a place to just relax.

For Chef, frustrations and anxieties are almost always reserved just for home. This is where he can dump everything and know that he will be supported in continuing to learn to dump appropriately. Chef also knows that there is an expectation here for him to continue to learn to use the tools he's been given and trained to use when it comes to anger/stress management. And he also knows that he will be continue to be supported in continued learning and growing to become a contributing member of his family and community.

And unlike the person who can walk in their door and flop then exhale and vent a bit then move on with their evening, Chef's anxieties and frustrations are sometimes delayed or skewed and are communicated through other "behaviours" either in response to something or as a prelude to something he's anticipating.

Aside from all those times (which can sometimes take up the bulk of an entire day or evening or even weekend if there have been issues), Chef and I have a lot of nice moments (good talks while walking, "Mom, would you like some tea?", good talks when driving somewhere, enjoying nature walks, "Mom, there's something over here you could take a picture of", watching videos together, "Yes, Mom", etc., etc., etc.) When Chef is in good space and not in the midst of dealing with issues/behaviours/ consquences, etc., it really is very pleasant being Chef's Mom.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ways to Get Out of Doing a Chore

This is in no particular order. Mix and match as you see fit!


-Make a foghorn sound. Loudly. And repeatedly.

-Make comments such as, "Other kids don't have to do chores!" and "I hate you!" and "If I don't get this done you're going to make me not have time to get my stuff ready for school and then I won't be able to go to school because of you"

-If you have a mom like mine and she tells you that whining is not acceptable in her home and you can either stop whining or take the whining outside, then take it outside. Whine louder. If there are other people nearby, they might hear you and rescue you from having to do chores or deal with your whining.

-If you're not up to whining or verbal barrage for whatever reason, do whatever might get you sent to your room, no holds barred, so you can just relax in your room instead of doing your chore. If this creates other problems for you, blame others, particularly your mom. And when the chore is still there the next day plus you have another chore for that day, just work on getting sent to your room again.

-If all of the above do not work at getting you out of a chore, then appear to go along with doing the chore. Don't actually do the chore, just go through the motions/sounds or just do bits of the chore but not the entire chore. And always take your time; the more you practice, the sooner you'll be able to drag out one chore for the bulk of an evening. See the above note on getting sent to your room.

-Get rid of rags and cleaning supplies that are necessary in order to do said chore

-For those of you with particularly good skills in certain areas, hiding food in the cupboards and drawers within reaching distance from the sink while you are taking your time "doing dishes" provides a nice diversion


Chef's regular chore requirement is one chore a day plus a weekend chore. If Chef does not complete a chore, the chore will still need to be done even if that means he does it the next day in addition to his chore for the next day.

If Chef needs to provide restitution for an item stolen or damaged, he has the opportunity to earn money through extra chores. If he chooses not to do so, the wording shifts to him being grounded for a set amount of time until he has done chores for that set amount of time. This is always a tricky area because Chef detests doing chores. He detests them even more if they are for restitution, and will often add to his misery by making more bad choices.

Regular Chores
-Kitchen (dishes, clean counters, stove, wipe fridge handle, sweep floor)
-Upstairs bathroom (sink area, counter, bath area, toilet, floor)
-Downstairs washroom (sink area, mirror, toilet, floor)
-Hallway/Front entrance (sweep floor)
-Clean Upstairs Hallway and Stairs

Weekend Chores
-Clean downstairs floors (kitchen, washroom, hallway, entrance - we live in a small house)
-Vacuum living room

Chef's Regular Weekend Responsibilities
-His own laundry (right now, he is also in charge of doing the teatowels since he started going through all the teatowels for a few dishes and would then say he couldn't finish the dishes because he ran out of teatowels)
-Preparing his school lunches for the week
-Cleaning his room (this one rarely happens, and has never ever happened without issue)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Stolen Money at School

I woke Chef early this morning, at 7:15am instead of 7:35. He independently started his morning with 10 minutes of exercising (woohoo!!) then put his clothes into the dryer when I reminded him then went back to exercising for another 10 minutes. He had quite a bit of difficulty focussing this morning; I suspect as a result of the laundry addition to his morning routine. He rushed around but even with verbal prompts he wasn't really doing anything (and still wouldn't use his morning routine lists), didn't have breakfast and when I questioned him about why he was just taking one container of food for lunch, he opened the container and said, "but I put lots in there!" I reminded him that he needed to take other items so he wouldn't feel like saying that he took someone else's food because he didn't have enough in his lunch (many, many times!). He showed me the contents of the container again and said that was a lot of food and that he had mixed everything into the lunch; he then started reciting the items he had put into the container but was cut short when I reminded him that he needed to be out for the bus. At two minutes before he needed to be out for the bus, he still wasn't dressed (not naked though, was wearing his bathrobe!) and grabbed his clothes and ran out the door. I waited, then opened the door and asked him what he was planning on doing with his bathrobe. "I'm taking it to school again and then I'll put it away when I come home." "Is that a good plan?" "No."

I've discovered that the upstairs medicine cabinet is now being used as a food-stash, evidenced by the empty containers, empty jars, empty bags, etc. One of the jars had contained either rice flour or potato flour, unless Chef had just dumped that out and used the jar to hold something else. I suppose that stash was part of his early-Monday-morning food adventures, since Chef always needs to do a check before he goes upstairs. Stashing in the medicine cabinet is new. And since school started, urinating in his bedroom has returned.

Chef's school called at lunchtime. When his EA had momentarily turned to help another student, Chef had slipped away and had purchased 3 cinnamon buns and a hamburger from the cafeteria with money that wasn't his. This (purchasing food with money that isn't his) has already happened at least one other time at school this year; this is Chef's 12th day at school. I decided to have him brought home, and sent a taxi to pick him up.

Chef quietly spent the afternoon in his room without any form of entertainment.

Later on, Chef played all sorts of games around not doing chores - again. Eventually I told him he could have a cold supper and go to his room (Chef has actually always seemed to love being in his room even though he has no entertainment there. I once had him sit on his bed at the advice of a teacher when he was younger to see if that would deter him from refusing to go to school but he happily sat there and said that was better than being at school. That said, sometimes I just need some Chef-free space). I put out one of his lunches and a salad mixture he'd chosen from the grocery store. A few minutes later, Chef announced that he couldn't finish his supper because he was too full - I can count on one hand the number of times I've heard Chef say he was full. He and I chatted later in the evening about choices and responsibilities and how much more enjoyable life is when one has free time to watch videos or read or paint, etc. We also chatted about the importance of being a contributing member of one's family and community. I also reminded Chef that if he doesn't want to be GFCF, then he needs to discuss that with me rather than trying to sneak as much gluten as he can into his belly (though Chef has had food issues all his life, not just since he became GFCF). He told me again that he knows the GFCF diet helps him. I tabled the topic for another time and he went off to bed.

The Evening After Tantrumming and Missing the Bus

Chef had finished the dishes but I discovered that plates/bowls he'd put away Sunday evening were still dirty, and Chef still had other chores to do (regular chores he hadn't done in weeks because he'd spent most evenings puttering on not doing dishes, plus cleaning up messes he'd made and not cleaned up). Chef was in very good space, was being very respectful in language and actions, and had reviewed what had worked and hadn't worked for him the past 24 hours. I, however, was just too tired from being up with Chef in the night and getting up early with him and the tantrumming, etc., etc., so we had an early supper and Chef spent a quiet evening in his room.

Missing the School Bus on Monday

Chef's morning tantrum had used up all of his "extra laundry time" as well as the bulk of his "getting ready for school" time, plus it was only about 15 minutes before bus arrival when Chef put in his load of laundry (the one he was supposed to put in on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, etc!) While Chef was outside tantrumming, I'd already phoned the school and bus driver to let them know how the morning was going. (Chef knows that if he misses the bus due to inappropriate choices, he has a day of chores at home. If he does a good job of doing chores first thing in the morning, he can have R&R time in the form of being in his room but without entertainment. Those of you raising children who are living with RAD know full well how that will have gone over the first few times!)
When Chef came back up from the laundry room, he glanced at the clock and said, "I'm not going to make the bus" then he went to the sink and started dishes. I tried not to show my complete and utter shock; needless to say, I was very relieved. A few minutes later, Chef glanced at the clock again and said, "I missed the bus. Did I miss breakfast time too?" I asked him if he usually eats before or after the bus comes. "Before," he said, then returned to washing dishes. A few minutes later he asked if he could go down to put his clothes into the dryer. I reminded Chef that laundry is one of his weekend responsibilities that he chose not to do, and that he had the opportunity to do so before leaving for school. Since he didn't go to school, he was now on a chore day at home and would have another opportunity to finish his laundry the next morning again before leaving for school. Chef's reply? "Yes, Mom." This made me happy.

Chef puttered off and on with dishes throughout the morning and made his school lunches for the week (green rice noodles with tofu, vegetables, and hot sauce - sure did NOT look appetizing to me!). At 11:30, Chef's support worker (spends 3 hrs with Chef on Mondays) came over and stayed with Chef through lunch and getting the dishes done. Have I mentioned how thankful I am for him??

Night Adventures and Tantrumming

It was around 4am on Monday morning when I heard enough noises to wake me completely. I remember hearing other sounds through the night but must have drifted in and out of sleep until 4'ish. I got up and went first to Chef's room with two thoughts in mind - if someone's broken into our place, Chef will be absolutely terrified since that has always been one of his fears for as long as I've known him; or maybe it was Chef returning to food-sneaking-house-wanderings. Glancing into his room to see Chef's empty bed confirmed the latter.

As I walked down the stairs to the main floor, I called Chef's name but to no avail. I kept calling his name as I looked for him. I opened the basement door and noted that it was dark. Chef is not fond of the dark, so I didn't think he'd be down there. I turned on the light and called him as I walked down the stairs. Nothing. As I walked into the laundry room and turned on the light, I opened my cell phone and was just about to call the police, then stopped - there he was, hiding behind the door. (My daughter sometimes has cookies and whatnot in the basement) I closed my cell phone. "Upstairs. Now." He did, without a word. "Room Check. Now." He did, without a word. An empty chip bag, an empty cereal bag, an empty pickle jar, an empty jelly jar. "Go to bed. Do not get up anymore." "Yes, Mom."

On Sunday night at bedtime, I'd decided I'd wake Chef up early enough Monday morning to give him enough time to do his load of laundry. He still needed clothes for school and I figured waking earlier in the morning might be enough of a deterrent to keep him from being drawn to the idea of still not doing his laundry on the weekends. After his early-morning food adventure, however, I debated whether or not to wake him early - but he had left himself without clothes by not doing his laundry and he had made the choice to do the food wanderings and he needed clothes to wear to school. I woke him at 7am, half an hour earlier than his usual wake-up time.

And there was attitude. Much attitude. I wouldn't want to lose half an hour of sleep if I'd been up til past 4am either! But he was nonetheless reminded that the attitude was not welcome in my home and he could either turn it around immediately and communicate appropriately or take it outside. Out he went. Thankfully he was wearing his bathrobe! To make a loooooooong story short, he tantrummed outside for an hour. Much loud whining and complaining that I wasn't letting him inside and wasn't letting him go to school. When people walked by, he pumped up the volume. (My neighbour later told me that she'd heard him say, "I fucking hate you" when I was inside.) I got out my camera and started recording. This, of course, provided the audience he was seeking but I wasn't about to leave my camera outside to record then go back inside. He kept repeating that he wanted to go to school but I wouldn't let him. "What are you doing to get ready for school?" "Nothing! Because you won't let me come inside!" "What do you need to do in order to come back inside and get ready for school?" "Nothing! Or maybe a bunch of exercises or something! But you won't let me come in!" "What are you doing to help yourself become calm and appropriate so you can come back inside?" "NOTHING!!!"I taped for awhile then realized my camera was no longer recording and I went back inside. He continued to rant and rave and storm outside for awhile longer, glancing at the window every once in awhile and yelling. About 10 minutes after I'd gone inside, he quietly walked in the door, made a very angry face at me and told me he was ready to be quiet now. I told him that was great and reminded him that I hadn't invited him back inside yet because I haven't seen enough evidence that he was ready to be appropriate in our home. He flared his nostrils, and stormed back outside but less than a minute later he was using some exercising to calm himself. I watched him as he jogged back and forth a few times in the yard then did 10 sit-ups, 10 push-ups, and 10 jumping jacks. I then opened the door and asked if he was ready to be appropriate. He looked at me very pleasantly and said yes. He then came inside, and when I told him to put in his laundry, he did.

I wanted to transfer the video onto a disc so my son could watch it sometime together with me and see himself and talk about how that went. Unfortunately, when the camera had stopped recording it was because the batteries had died and the video hadn't saved.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Food and Laundry, Laundry and Food

On Sunday morning, Chef came downstairs around 11’ish. Naked. My response? “No. No no no. No.” Chef made a face and went back upstairs.

A few minutes later, Chef came down the stairs and started saying something. I interrupted. “I do not want to see your penis.” Chef made a face and stomped upstairs.

A few minutes later, Chef came to the top of the stairs and said, “I need to eat and get my chores done so I can have free time.”
“Yes you do,” I responded.
Chef ran down the stairs, put on his jacket, and came into the kitchen, tugging the front of his jacket down as far as he could.

“No. No no no. No.”

Chef grumped, stomped through the living room, threw his jacket in the hallway, and stomped upstairs.

Awhile later, Chef came to the top of the stairs.

“Excuse me please, Mom?”
“I made a problem for myself and I don’t have any clothes because they’re all in the laundry room but I didn’t do my laundry so now I need help.”
“What sort of help do you need?”
“I need you to bring me some clean clothes.”
“Sorry sweetie, as you know, that wouldn’t be helping you. That would be fixing a problem you made and a problem that you’ve had many opportunities to fix and still chose not to.”
“Can you please bring me my clothes from the hamper then?”
“Well I need clothes!”
“Where is your bathrobe?”
“Out on the front step.”
“Is that where it belongs?”
“Where are your pyjamas?”
“Out on the front step.”
“Is that where they belong?”
“How long have your pyjamas been there without you bringing them in?”
“I don’t know. A long time.”
"Lunch will be ready in a few minutes. What is your plan?"
"Umm. To get my laundry done so I can come and eat."
"Is your laundry going to be finished in a few minutes when lunch is ready?"

Laundry and Dishes, Dishes and Laundry

On Saturday, Chef came downstairs around 11’ish and made himself a bowl of hot cereal. I decided that we would be going out before chores. Last weekend I had been in the house from Thursday evening til Monday with Chef because he wasn’t doing anything and I sure didn’t want to have another similar weekend.

Chef was in great space while we were out. We spent time at the thrift shop, then came home and Chef cleaned a pile of pruned branches off the deck while I took some nice Fall snapshots in our yard. I reminded Chef that he’d earned extra chores that needed to be done due to his stealing during school, and choices at home. He nodded. He needed to pull out a few things we hadn’t used over the summer and put into a pile on the driveway, then sweep one side of the deck; about a 5.5’ x 8.5’ area. He immediately went into extremely slow mode. I reminded him that we were thinking of going out for lunch but he needed to get this done in a reasonable time. Slow remained. Sloooooow. Sloooooooooooow.

Around 3:30, I brought out a a large salad with scrambled eggs and an apple for Chef. He ate the salad and scrambled eggs right away, and ate the apple around 4. I’d had to wash a pan to cook the scrambled eggs because Chef still hasn’t been doing the dishes. I told Chef that was the last item that would be cooked in the kitchen until the kitchen was clean. We took a long walk around town, took some pictures, looked at wild mushrooms, then came back to the house. While we were walking outside, Chef had agreed that he needed to actually finish his kitchen chore and get his laundry in.

Neither happened.

I told Chef he had one hour to get the dishes done. Chef puttered in the kitchen for over 3 hours. I’d been telling my neighbour about the "no-dishes-marathon” that had been going on at our house and the “no cooking in the kitchen til it’s clean” plan. She brought over a plate of cooked corn on the cob and a video. Chef and I each had 3 cobs. Sometime between 6:30pm and 7pm (approx 2 hours or so into the daily kitchen marathon), I told Chef that I wasn’t going to be cooking supper any later than 8pm and I’d only be cooking that late because it was still the first month of school. At 8:01, Chef came out and asked if he could cook supper. I asked if the kitchen was finished. It wasn’t. I told him he could get himself some leftovers for supper. He chose lettuce and carrots, tofu chicken breast strips, and a bunch of rice crackers and went to bed.

Laundry and Lunches

Chef is 15 years old. He is very capable in many areas.

On the weekends, Chef’s responsibilities are to do his laundry (one load of clothes, bedding in a separate load), and make his lunches. I will help him with his lunches at his request, but I no longer make his school lunches since he started he started saying that one of the reasons he was taking food items from others at school was because he didn’t like what I’d packed in his lunch, even though we had shopped together for the lunch items and he’d chosen the lunch items and was expected to participate in packing the lunch items; sometimes he did, sometimes he didn’t.

Chef’s laundry days are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

The past two weekends, Chef has chosen not to take care of his weekend school prep responsibilities.

This past Thursday, he was reminded to put in his laundry. He went down to the laundry room and said he’d put his clothes into the washer. I didn’t question that or check; I should have.

Later Thursday evening, Chef brought up his laundry to fold. The original plan is that he take his hangers downstairs, put the clothing on the hangers once they are finished in the dryer, and bring them upstairs; Chef has, however, wrecked all his hangers between camping and school-start. When he brought his laundry up from the laundry room, there were two pairs of pants and two shirts. When I asked where the rest of his clothes were, Chef said that’s all he’d put in because that’s all he needed for the weekend. He was reminded that he needed to put in the rest of his laundry. He was reminded numerous times through Friday and Saturday, but still didn’t put it in. On Saturday, he was reminded that if he didn’t put in his laundry he wouldn’t have clean clothes for the week.


Chores and Dishes, Dishes and Chores

Chef is still working very hard at not doing dishes.

Chef is very capable of doing dishes. He has often done dishes and has often done a very good job at doing dishes in a reasonable amount of time. He’s even finished supper dishes in as little as 15-20 minutes on some occasions and done a good job of it!

As some of you know, he has struggled against chores his whole life. When he was younger, he was great at "helping" but if he "had to" do a "chore" then he wouldn't do it. If he decided to help with something, he did so happily and did a good job of it. If he decided he was going to be a "helper" and set the table, he did a great job at setting the table. If he was asked to set the table, that was a whole other story. When he had to clean up after himself (whether it was something akin to putting away his toothpaste/toothbrush, putting his shoes into the closet, or cleaning up inappropriately-placed feces), his verbal response was, "I can't believe you are making your baby boy do this!" I think it was grade four when Chef started telling me that he shouldn't have to do any chores because he has disabilities.

In our home, we embrace natural consequences. Chef has great difficulty learning from natural consequences; however, Chef has great difficulty learning overall when it comes to making good choices, and what has benefited him most is letting him live with his choices and supporting him while he deals with the consequences. This means that I stand by the consequence, and stand by the fact that appropriate behaviour is still expected when Chef realizes that his choice(s) don’t work for him. If you don't do your laundry, you eventually run out of clean clothes and have a problem. For Chef, this doesn’t seem to faze him until he runs up against the fact that he is not welcome to come for meals without clothes on.

As most of us have learned in our lifetime, if you don’t do dishes they don’t go anywhere. "Free time" does not happen until chores are done, and I’m not a mom who will go and clean up the kitchen after my child has gone to bed if it was his job to do dishes and he didn't do them. He will miss out on his free time and dishes will still be sitting there waiting for them the next day.

Sometimes it takes a few “next days” before the dishes get done.

Chef has spent many evenings working hard at not doing dishes. By that, I mean he sort of goes through the motions of doing dishes but is actually doing some major puttering and/or putting away dirty dishes. He will literally do this for hours when he doesn’t want to do dishes. When we were camping, he thought it was unfair that he had to do dishes and took an entire afternoon to wash two plates, two forks, and a pot; maybe there were two knives as well or maybe two spoons. Yesterday I realized that I can no longer be in another room while Chef is doing dishes. I discovered this when I found empty “hot pepper jelly” jars in the drawer and cupboard next to the sink. I’d forgotten about those. I thought I had taken care of “food-sneaking-from-the-cupboards-while-doing-dishes” possibilities when I removed the can opener from the kitchen when I found it under the sink with a can of peas (we almost never buy canned peas but had a tin left over from camping and Chef loves them) after finding a can of baked beans in a drawer on another occasion.

Today is Day #10 of our latest “dishes aren’t done” marathon. I am thankful to have friends who understand that the beginning of the school year, season changes, special occasions, etc., etc., etc., are usually fairly evident in our home.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


While we were at the grocery store the other day, Chef pointed out that when he had gone to another grocery store with his respite provider, there had been corn for only 10 cents an ear. When I asked if it had still been good, the response was, "Yeah! It looked really good. I don't know how it tasted but I was surprised at how good it looked."

Last night, his respite provider and I were on the phone and she asked how Chef usually has his corn on the cob. I said we toss them into the oven, husks and all, then just eat them. "No margarine or salt and pepper or anything?" she asked. I told her that we used to eat them like that, but have just been eating them plain since we started cooking them in their husks this summer. "So (Chef) doesn't like margarine or anything on his?" she asked. "Well, he used to," I responded, "and we have margarine but he hasn't gotten it out for anything in a long time. Why?" She went on to tell me that Chef had used a lot of margarine and salt and pepper on corn on the cob they'd had last time he was there, and said that's the way he eats corn all the time at home. I asked if that was the corn they'd found for 10 cents apiece, and I asked if it had been good. Chef's respite provider said it hadn't tasted very good and that Chef had said he didn't like it very much. I suggested that maybe that's why he'd slathered it in margarine; she said he'd done that before biting into any of it.

It's corn. Corn isn't a big deal. The questions that started surfacing, though, were along the lines of "why did he tell me he didn't know how it tasted, why did he tell me it had looked good though he'd told his respite provider he didn't like it, why did he lie about how he usually eats his corn" but the questions were quickly nudged aside by the comfort of knowing we've experienced this before on many, many occasions in varying degrees; not that non-truths about corn is an issue - it's the saying of so many non-truths about almost anything that is concerning.

Non-truths flow from Chef's mouth so smoothly and seemingly without a twinge of concern over whether or not he'll be believed. He will become very very angry if he thinks his words aren't believed about something he's done, but in the midst of speaking the non-truth(s), his facial expression is a picture of smooth-sailing and peaceful, childlike innocence. One teacher once told me, "I always believed he was honest right down to his little toes until he..."

There have been multitudes of flowing non-truths over the years about a myriad of topics; a teacher had given him six cookies so I should too, his respite provider had spanked him (I knew this hadn't happened; he had only been there a few minutes and had been on the deck with the respite provider's extended family the entire time, but he had been angry because she hadn't given him something he'd wanted), other kids had taken his lunch and eaten it (he had eaten it on the way to school and wanted me to bring him another one), his EA had taken him for a large slushie and then he got to finish the EA's slushie as well, he didn't know where the missing item was but would sure help look for it only to have the item to later show up in Chef's room (this scenario has played out many, many, many, many, many, many times), and the list goes on and on. And on. And - well, you get the picture.

Sometimes Chef is just outright lying. Like many children, there are times when he thinks he can adjust a situation to better suit himself if he lies about it - whether it be an attempt to get him out of doing something he doesn't want to do, or an attempt to shift the situation so he can do something he wants to do or get something he wants to get, or to get out of taking responsibility for something he's done that he shouldn't have. Sometimes it's just about whatever will make him look the best in a situation. When he was younger, there were many many occasions when it seemed as though Chef was specifically trying to cause dissention between adults. Sometimes he becomes fiercely angry if his lies are not believed.

Sometimes Chef is telling his version of what he believes to be true. Like any other person, Chef's truth is filtered through his experience and his memory and his understanding and his processing. Sometimes, Chef's understanding and processing and memory distortion fragment accuracy, not unlike a broken mirror that can't be repaired back to its useable state.

I believe that some of Chef's non-truths are just his way of trying to make conversation or participate in something and words come out of his mouth without a truth-checker.

Sometimes, I think Chef really doesn't know/remember and so is making it up as he goes along and giving responses that he believes the listening individual wants to hear.

And sometimes, I think Chef is just tired and wants to make a statement that allows him to leave a situation as quickly as possible.

There have been some "funny" stories in this area over the years. For those of you who do not understand how non-truths themselves could ever be considered funny or think that finding humour in a child's non-truths is disrespectful if that child has disabilities, please do not read further. Those of you who have lived with or worked with children living with non-truth challenges will know that sometimes you just have to chuckle.

When Chef was younger, food was a much greater area of challenge than it is today. One day, a loaf of bread was missing from the kitchen counter. Chef was in his room at the time and when I asked him about the bread, he said he didn't know where it had gone. We had a small dog at that point and during this brief conversation between Chef and myself, the dog jumped up onto Chef's bed, walked to the other side of the bed, pulled a loaf of bread from between the bed and the wall, dragged it across the bed, then jumped down onto the floor, dragging the loaf behind him. I turned and looked back at Chef, probably with raised eyebrows. His response? "I do not know what happened to the bread."

One day I was late picking up Chef from his elementary school. I usually parked right in the front on the street where he could see me as soon as he came out of the school door, but that entire area had been full when I arrived and I ended up parking in a side parking lot. I could still see the area of the sidewalk where Chef would end up once he walked out of the school When he came out, he paused, looked left to right, then went over towards the building next to his school. I tooted the horn but he didn't hear. He leaned back against the building and I noticed something odd. The top area of his pants was bulging. Greatly. I then saw him put his hand down into his pants, pull it back out, and put his fisted hand to his mouth. When he came over to the van shortly afterwards, I told him there seemed to be something happening *there* in *that* general area. He just kept looking at me and flatly replied, "No." I said that a boy his age would never have such a bulge like that and maybe we should go get it checked out. Long story short, throughout my brief conversation with him he continued to deny that there was anything going on with his pants - even though he had an entire cereal bag down there!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

T is for Tuesday Evening

It's another beautiful Autumn day. As soon as Chef came home from school, we went for a short walk to pick up some eggs. We chatted on the way there and back. Chef said he's going to look at hair samples through a microscope in science, and that he's very glad the school has Microsoft 2010. He likes his art teacher. We continued a previous conversation about plans for Friday; I have an afternoon and an evening performance, both out of town. Chef always comes to the place where we're performing in the evening, so we've been chatting about what might and might not work as far as transportation. If he doesn't come with me during the day, he won't be able to be there for the evening and I don't have a care provider for him who can keep him as late as needed. He doesn't want to miss anything fun that might be happening at school (Excellent!! A far far cry from just a few years back when he did anything and everything possible not to go to school!) but it looks like that's what's going to have to happen. I told him we could look at it as a volunteer event for him; if he returns to playing his pennywhistle or decides to participate in performing at some point (he says he wants to sing and has been working on a specific song), then he will earn some of the money I receive for the overall performance. "Volunteering" at performances once in awhile beforehand gives him the opportunity to see what it's like to perform in different environments and he's great with seniors and seniors love him, so Friday should be a positive life experience for him, aside from missing school. We also made our supper plans. Chef has decided that gravy is awesome, so asked about gravy and potatoes with supper. We decided he'd get the potatoes going on the stove and I'll do up homemade chicken patties with gravy and apples. Once he had the potatoes going, Chef and a young neighbourhood friend picked dandelion leaves and roots for us to freeze for using in winter ( I had to chuckle because I told Chef that it was really important to get roots but we needed lots of leaves as well. When I checked a few minutes later, the report was that they'd given up on roots because they were too difficult. "No problem," I said. "If you manage to get any roots I'll pay you for them but just focus on the leaves otherwise." A few minutes later, Chef came inside and said they had a bunch of roots ;-)

We had supper, watched a bit of a video that Chef had put in then Chef started dishes. A few minutes later, I remembered he hadn't had a rest after school so he had a rest then came down to finish dishes. He was almost finished almost an hour later, but when I checked the dishes I discovered that only two had actually been cleaned. The rest had received the ol' "wet 'n wipe" treatment. I wasn't about to have Chef continue on into the evening doing dishes (for both our sakes!) but he knows that he doesn't have free time til dishes are done so it was off for a quiet early evening in his room at 8pm. Around 8:10 I heard snoring.

Back to School

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Chef is in a much more relaxed frame of mind than he had been, and the school is operating as though they are receiving the additional funding from the division. I'm pretty tuckered out and very thankful to be part of such a wonderful team.

Chef was dressed before the bus arrived this morning! He had some focus blips, needed many many verbal prompts, was still dressing as he ran to the door, and he put his pyjamas on the front step instead of in the hamper - but he dressed inside today! Always a good thing.

(Chef has had visual aids over the years but has always rejected them. He recently did up a notebook of checklists for himself but doesn't use it. I'm going to see if it works to put a visual up on the fridge again for mornings).

I discovered this morning, however, that he'd indeed washed his load of laundry on the weekend, but had only dried half of it. I discovered this when I realized that he has enough shirts for the week (now very wrinkly because he'd folded them rather than hanging them because he's broken all his hangers between camping week and school-start) but only one pair of pants (the ones with tons and tons of pockets!) and a pair of shorts. I always check his laundry to make sure he hasn't stashed something from downstairs, but Chef has otherwise been doing his laundry (well, bedding aside, but that's a whole other story!) independently for quite some time. Another Mom-Dilemma: Break the laundry rule and let him have an extra day for laundry? No, we've done that in the past and it always snowballs. Let him wear the multi-pocketed pants that he wore yesterday and got dirty? Hmmm, well, that's not supporting the "we wear clean clothes" plan and also has the potential to increase the likelihood that he will do whatever he can in upcoming weeks to ensure that he only has his multi-pocketed pants to wear. The shorts? Well, that's not a comfortable idea for me as his Mom. It's starting to get chilly out. But he's not outside for any length of time during the day and that's what he has available to wear based on the choices he made regarding getting his laundry done. Shorts it is then. And back to wearing my "Laundry-Checker" hat!

Homeschool Day

This morning, Chef got up, exercised, had breakfast, washed and dressed and was ready to go in short order. We walked downtown and our first stop was watching one of the parking lots being repaved. Chef seemed very taken by it all. We talked about what steps were involved in the paving. Chef had just told me that he wondered how the new asphalt felt when one of the workers walked over with a pail and spewed water across the new surface. Chef seemed pretty impressed with the steam that rose up. We walked for awhile and chatted, took some photos, went to the bank, went to the post office to pick up some 3D glasses to watch a tv documentary Chef wanted to see about Queen Elizabeth, stopped for a tea/coffee break where Chef immediately immersed himself in reading the papers, then went over to the library. Chef researched the nutritional value and uses of dandelions, recipes, and had just started looking at WWII sites when his computer time was up. He then read for a bit before we headed back outside. We walked and took more photos and talked. Chef shared anxieties he'd been experiencing throughout the first week at school; hazing ("They talk about it every day over the intercom, so I can tell they're expecting it to happen, and I'm just a small guy so I can't protect myself if someone gets me"), crowds/noise in the hallways ("I try to walk way over to the side and try to get into a room as fast as I can"), getting lost ("I get confused and there are lots of stairs and hallways"), feeling alone and scared ("It's a really big place and I don't know what to do if I don't have an adult with me"). The school and I had been communicating through the day and Chef's resource teacher told me that Chef had also been frustrated when he couldn't independently go online in one of his classes on Thursday (being independently online is an earned privilege/responsibility in our family) and that there had been an unexpected change in EA's Thursday morning.

Chef also told me that when he goes into his room and refuses to come out, it's because he doesn't want to hurt anyone or damage anything. Wow!! Huge huge kudos went to him for his insight and self-discipline in keeping himself and his family and his environment safe all those times, and for sharing that with me!

We talked about how I had misinterpreted him being in his room as being "on strike" and trying to get "his own way" by refusing to do anything, then talked about the great self-control he's been showing and how great it was that he had communicated that to me. We also talked a bit about recognizing balance between taking time for what he needs to do for self-control and the time he needs for other things (eating, preparing for the next day, enjoying time with family and friends, hobbies, etc) and how sometimes it takes time to find that balance while still living with the natural consequences of time not waiting for what needs to be done otherwise.

Chef's support worker who usually picks him up after school now on Mondays picked him up around 1:00 and they spent the afternoon together. Chef had told me at one point that he wants to sweep the parking lot on Mondays at one of the local shops from where he's stolen. He and his support worker set that up then hung out at the library.

Chef was in great space throughout the evening. He did a couple chores (not dishes, I'm too tuckered for that today!) and completed them quickly, then watched the documentary and part of the movie (The Queen) that followed. At 9:30 he said he was too tired to stay awake anymore and went up to bed.

An all-around very nice day!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Turn-Around Day!!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Today has been a turn-around day. I love turn-around days.

Chores were extremely dragged out (literally all afternoon puttering with dishwashing that was started yesterday and is still not complete; we truly do not have THAT many dishes!) BUT the stairs and the front entrance floor are clean and the "on strike" phase is over. Hooray!!

Chef planned and made his lunches for the week (homemade potato patties with onions,tofu,hot chillis; sliced cucumbers; rice crackers; apple), ate two snacks, and ate two meals! There were no inappropriate verbal expressions, no inappropriate physical communications, and no disrespecting of boundaries. There were a lot of "yes, Mom" responses to reminders of what was needed to be done, and there were independently-initiated, appropriate strategies used as well.

We also spent some time talking about tomorrow. Given the weekend we've had following the first week of school and the reports of Chef's choices while not being presently able to have the supports that work best for him, I believe it is in everyone's best interest that we take a one-day-at-a-time approach to Chef being at home for the time being until the school hears back from the division regarding the requested emergency funding for full support for Chef. I talked with Chef about it this evening and we've made some plans for tomorrow. (I also called his bus driver who told me that Chef had told him he only got up a couple minutes before the bus on Thursday which was why he was getting dressed on the front step when the bus arrived. I let the bus driver know that Chef has 50 minutes to get ready every morning (including last Thursday) and has the opportunity to earn extra time by using the 50 minutes appropriately. While on the phone with the driver, I informed Chef that the driver was telling me what Chef had told him. After the call, I talked with Chef again about the importance of honesty and about his goal of what type of person he wanted to be and how he wants people to think well of him. We then talked about tomorrow's plan.) He'd like to do some WWI research online, and I'll also direct him towards some food-related research along with a related activity. We'll take the camera along and do a fall nature walk. Chef also said he wants to get back into learning how to draw and paint. Very cool. I hope he isn't just saying that because he thinks I'd like to hear that - though that wouldn't be the worst thing in the world either.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pause for Station Identification

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Chef's day-to-day challenges, some of the diagnoses he carries are PDD-NOS(Autism), ADHD, Attachment Disorder, Developmental Coordination Disorder, and brain damage from birthmom's drug use. One doctor had also put Hypotonia on his chart; my son has problems digesting some foods. He is also extremely drawn to almost any food and is capable of ingesting huge amounts of food very quickly - he's been both hospitalized and had his stomach pumped due to food choices. He often makes choices that cause problems for him and then becomes frustrated when those choices don't work or cause other problems for him, then misdirects that frustration. Without constant and consistent support, he will usually make many bad choices and his resulting frustration escalates. He has difficulty with controlling impulses, consistently remembering and/or putting into action what he needs to do each day, learning from consquences, learning new routines, coping with crowds/noise, controlling anger/managing stress, etc., etc. For more information, please see

Chef presents very well.  He's a handsome young man with gorgeous eyes. He has a very sweet, gentle, pleasant nature about him when he isn't living in the storm of his challenges. He now knows enough kids at school well enough to feel comfortable enough to participate well in class and joke around with other students and teachers. He also has started to greet people independently without verbal prompts, and knows that it doesn't work to wear pyjamas to school or to be naked outside. He has learned that it doesn't work to try to make friends by jumping onto older students' backs or latching himself onto their leg and refusing to let go. He still seems to believe that giving stuff to people is the best (read "quickest") road to friendship, and that no one should ever talk with him about anything that he might have taken or suspect him of lying. He often displays creativity in doing whatever he thinks might work to get out of doing any, but my son is capable of doing quite a few household chores. Yes, it took (and still takes) a LOT of brain-training! And he does a great job of doing his laundry independently when he is in good space. He is great with computers, and he's a fantastic cook! (More to follow...)

Saturday, Not in the Park

This morning I found my office door not quite shut all the way. Other than my bedroom door, I haven't had to keep doors locked for months now. And we'd needed an extra locking doorknob for another door at one point and then someone lost the key for that knob. At any rate, the office has just a regular doorknob.

I opened the office door to find desk drawers open and things not quite right. The lock on my filing cabinet was broken and the key (which I obviously had not hidden well enough!) dangled from the lock. I could tell immediately that I was missing a book and a gift card and some change. Without taking further inventory, I knocked on Chef's door. When he answered, I opened his door and told him he had ten seconds to put the items from my office into the hallway to show he was turning the day around so he could have a good start to his day. Chef immediately became angry and denied he had taken anything. I knew that he would deny/become angry regardless of the way I delivered my discovery (I've utilized many different approaches over the years), and the longer he held onto the items the angrier he would become about having to return them (the only times he has shown a little less fury over the discovery of items he's taken have been when he's taken edible items and already eaten them; he will still initially deny but will not become quite as angry nor take quite as long to saying that he took an edible item and will usually then either hold up the empty wrapper/box/etc., or will throw it at you or elsewhere in his room). I reminded Chef that I was not asking if he had taken anything, I was giving him the opportunity to return them and start his day over on a positive note. He continued denying. I repeated, "I didn't ask if you took them. Get the items." This played out a few times until eventually Chef started pushing his dresser and computer desk around under the guise of "proving" to me that nothing was hidden in his room. That's when I saw it. The corner of the book was peeking out from inside the ripped mattress cover. I told him to take the mattress out of his room. He did. He was wearing his very-angry-face, but he took the mattress out into the hallway. I pointed out that the book was very obviously inside the ripped part of the mattress. I don't remember whether or not he denied it first, but he did take it out, still maintaining a very angry expression on his face. I told him to go back to his room and do a thorough room check. Chef continued to angrily tell me he hadn't taken anything and hadn't been in my office. The gift card was under his large laminated map on the floor. Chef continued to angrily tell me he hadn't taken anything and hadn't been in my office. My oldest daughter had come upstairs at one point and said that she and her baby needed to have a bit more time to sleep, so I told Chef he was going to need to be quiet in his room for awhile so his sister and niece could sleep. I walked away and went into my room. Chef began to grunt and loudly humph and belch and stomp in his room and I heard unfamiliar sounds, almost like muffled flicking. I went back to check and found that he'd ripped apart his foam puzzles; there were pieces all over the floor. He also had strange marks on his face. When I asked what he had done to his face and if he'd done that with the foam pieces, he VERY angrily said, "That's where you got my face!" "Got your face? What does that mean, 'got' your face?" "When you talked in my ear before, you got my face with your nail!!" I told him it didn't seem possible but I'd have a look. He calmly let me tilt his chin so I could have a look at his cheek. He had one mark longer than the others with two or three other marks beside that one. I pointed out the flaws in his theory and asked what really happened. He then said he had scratched himself. I asked him to show me how and he quickly pretended to grab his cheek and pull down. I asked if he felt he could now be quiet in his room and he said he could.

When my daughter and granddaughter were awake, I told Chef that he could come out of his room whenever he was ready to talk about what he'd done in my office. He very grumpily (not as loudly nor glaringly as "angrily") said he didn't take anything and hadn't been in my office. I reminded him that the shops were closing soon, that there was a Fall Festival happening, and that we needed to pick up groceries for his school lunches. None of that mattered. He stayed in his room and stuck to his story. I've seen it before. He hates chores and he often hates when anyone discovers that he's done something he shouldn't have done. Sometimes the two seem to work well together in theory, since being in his room gives him that feel-good of being by himself in his room with the added benefit of getting him out of chores. He stuck to his anger for 4 hours - and then, as pleasantly as you please, he came to the top of the stairs and said that he had indeed been in my office and he knew he shouldn't have taken stuff. This, however, was after the lunchtime scene.

When I'd told him about an hour earlier that I was going to pick up lunch from a place across the way and asked if he wanted anything, he'd said no. (My daughter had eaten earlier then had stayed at the house with him so I could go out for a few minutes). After I had eaten, there was foghorn-whining from upstairs. I reminded him that that was not appropriate. He yelled back that he was hungry. I reminded him that whining was not going to get him what he wanted. He continued whining for around 20-30 minutes. I read, played some music, watched some tv, visited with my daughter, played with my granddaughter. When he stopped the whining, he very appropriately talked about what he'd done regarding my office. I asked him how he planned to repay his family for the time he'd spent whining. He said that he would do dishes after supper and then spend the rest of the evening in his room. I reminded him that dishes are his regular job right now anyway, and spending an evening in his room not doing anything is what started his problems the other day in the first place. I gave him paper and a pencil and told him he could go upstairs and do some appropriate writing for the same amount of time that he had spent whining. He went upstairs without issue. He tried to challenge the exercise once by coming out after about two minutes and saying he was done but immediately returned to his room when I reminded him that he'd whined much longer than that. I called him down a few times to check what he was writing. There it was - all that he'd been doing the last few days; leaving school to steal candy, bragging to kids at school about stealing, telling me the school staff were liars, refusing to do much of anything since Thursday, ripping his mattress,etc., etc., etc.

Chef hasn't been doing dishes since Thursday, so he had a bit of a pile to work at today - and he got a good start on them, but I sure wasn't up to having him in the kitchen til late into the evening so the rest will wait til tomorrow. And though he missed breakfast and lunch, he did eat an afternoon snack, and his supper, and an evening snack.

Before he went up to bed, I talked with Chef. We talked about what hadn't worked for him and Chef knew all the right answers. I talked with him about the good inside of him and the importance of spreading that good. We talked about the importance of training the brain to make good choices, and the steps he needs to follow when he feels like taking something he knows he shouldn't. He appeared very receptive and relaxed.

And then, on the way up the stairs a few seconds later, I saw him pick up a container of potatoes he'd tucked onto the stairwell while he'd been doing dishes.

Missed the Bus

This morning, Chef got up independently and did some exercises to start his day!

Everything else was very slow going and there was no urgency to get out for the bus on time whatsoever.

And the bus came. And the bus went. And Chef was still nowhere near being close to being ready for school.

When Chef discovered that the bus had left, he stormed up to his room, attempted to slam his door (which didn't work because the doorknob area is broken), and started his "foghorn" sound and whining/crying peppered with the occasional yelling/stomping. I went upstairs and reminded him that his baby niece was downstairs and still sleeping, as was his sister. Chef humphed, crossed his arms across his chest, and turned his back. I went back downstairs, only to hear a drawer slam. Then another slam. Then another and another. I went up and told him to remove the drawers from his dresser and take them out, knowing full well from past experience that he'd continue the slamming and eventually destroy the drawers or use them to destroy something else in his room. He quietly removed them without issue other than making faces and attempting to be "mouthy" with me. He then went back into his room and I told him that if he wanted to talk and do so appropriately, he could tell me appropriately from the top of the stairs and I'd come talk with him. He again hmphed and turned his back. A few minutes later, there were more storming sounds in his room. I went up to find his computer desk on its side and his mattress torn open (I presently don't remember how many mattresses and beds he's had; I've given up on buying full beds for him for the time being). I told him to remove the mattress for now until I decided what to do. He again did so without issue but then grumped outside. At this point he was just "wearing" his blanket wrapped around himself. I reminded him that he needed to come in and get dressed. He VERY angrily reminded me that he didn't have any clean clothes. "Well, put on your bathrobe then and turn your day around." "I can't. It's at school."

Friday was not a fun day.

More September 16

Chef was immediately angry when I said that the school had talked about the situation regarding lunches on the bus and were doing some planning around that. He immediately (and VERY angrily) stated he hadn't taken lunches. I reminded him that I hadn't asked if he had, and that if he needed time to cool down, he knows to do that in his room til he's ready to talk appropriately.

Chef informed me that he isn't going to do anything this evening; that he isn't coming out of his room because the school lied about him, and that he isn't going to do his chores. I reminded him that he was out of clean clothes and that he needed to get his lunch ready for tomorrow.

At suppertime, I called him. No response. I tried a different approach.

"Earlier you told me your plan was to just stay in your room and do nothing tonight."


"Are you changing that?"


He's made similar decisions in the past. Attempting to support him by reminding what he'd be missing, and other "typical parenting strategies" have historically been met with escalation, often intense.

Leaving him to his "on strike" choice generally results in two situations; either he quietly remains "on strike" as he's announced, or he becomes agitated/frustrated over what he knows he is missing/has missed and tantrums while blaming me for him missing out.

This evening, he chose to quietly remain on strike.

I emailed the school to let them know Chef wouldn't be there tomorrow and that he'd have a day at home. I knew he wasn't going to be ready in time for the bus in the morning since he hadn't done anything he needed to do to prepare this evening (lunch ready, etc), and he'd already spent the week waiting til the last minute before going out to meet the bus then hurriedly getting dressed on the front step.

Ah yes, was that me who said at one point how relieved I was at Chef's apparently easy transition back into school this year?

Ah yes, let the school year begin

September 16, 2010

Chef's mental health worker, resource teacher, and myself had a meeting at the school.

Chef's teachers really like him. They are enjoying having him in their classes. I love hearing reports like that.

The resource teacher also informed me that Chef is eating lunches belonging to other students on the bus, not showing up where he needs to be, spending money that isn't his, going places he knows he shouldn't be going, etc., etc., so we brainstormed and talked about some planning/support strategies.

Chef informs me that "the school is lying" and that he "is tired of schools always lying about him"

Schools have always struggled with being able to implement the constant support my son requires. He receives Level 2 funding, which equals 3 hours a day. The next level of funding is for children with physical needs. My son needs someone with him throughout the entire school day in order to have a healthy and appropriate day. With support, he is more cheerful, more relaxed, able to focus more easily on the good things in his day, is able to make good choices, etc., etc. With support, my son presents pretty much like any other student in most areas. Without support, my son makes many bad choices and the fallout usually lands at home. My son is at a new school this year and they are working hard at trying to figure out how to provide what my son needs with the limited funding available. In younger years, schools were able to combine supports for students (ie: an educational assistant would work with two specific students throughout the day) but that doesn't work at the high school level because no two students have the same class schedules. The high school has applied for emergency funding through the division. We also talked about the possibility of a buddy-system when my son is between classes. I have a gut-level sense that, even though it holds terrific potential for positives in all sorts of areas, something like that probably won't work well. In the meantime, we'll all keep working together as a team to support my son in working with his anxieties and other challenges and keeping his choices appropriate and his focus on crafting all his positives.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Money-Free Shopping

Chef's school sent an email on Friday. I was away for the weekend, so I read the email this morning.

There are rumours at the school that Chef has already made one of his infamous trips to a store near his school, stocked up without paying, and distributed some of the goods among his fellow students.

Please see:

Gluten-Free, Casein-Free (aka GFCF)

I supported Chef in removing gluten and casein from his eating habits after reading reports on how folks living with autism benefitted from diets that were free of gluten and casein. A few months down the road, the school and I were noticing "behavioural" improvements as well as an improvement in focus. My son moved from taking three meds to taking one. Of course, we can never be sure whether or not those improvements could be strictly attributed to the diet.

What we also noticed, however, was that my son was no longer experiencing the degrees of digestive problems he'd been having throughout his life. He used to have fairly severe bouts of ongoing gas, constipation, abdominal swelling, and pain to the point of loud moaning/groaning/crying. He has been in our local hospital's emergency dept twice, has had a tube inserted once to empty the contents of his stomach (his stomach swelled to a very painful degree after eating a McD's meal, a sleeve of crackers, and an orange; the dr thought perhaps he'd ingested hair as well because at that time he was occasionally pulling out hair, but tests were inconclusive regarding hair digestion), and has been hospitalized once for a few days.

My son definitely recognizes the benefits of being gluten-free and casein-free. That, however, does not override his complaints to other people about his "dietary restrictions" and the complaints then come back to me, often (though not always) in the form of feeling sorry for Chef or in the form of judgment towards me. When Chef is with me, however, Chef talks very positively about being gfcf. He talks about how fun it is to experiment with food and come up with healthy foods that work for him; he talks about how glad he is that he doesn't have to deal with the digestion issues; he talks about how glad he is that he doesn't put all the garbage into his body that other kids at school have in their lunches (though we all KNOW he is feeling different about that when he is seeing the garbage in the other kids' lunches!)

Now that Chef is 15, however, and is still complaining to other folks about his "dietary restrictions" I am thinking it is time to have yet another conversation with him about his eating; either remain gfcf and stop complaining about it to other people, or let it go and see how the body responds. Telling me he wants to have a gfcf diet so he doesn't have the digestive problems, then telling other people he doesn't want to have a gfcf diet - that just doesn't work.

Bedtime and Age Quandry

I was away for the weekend; a lovely weekend of music and storytelling and friends and walks and camping.

As often happens, I wasn't even inside my house when my neighbour (she provides respite) came out. She informed me that Chef was still up, and that he'd been up til after 10 each night and the first up each morning.

Once home, Chef complained to me that he had to stay up late because he couldn't go to bed at his regular time because my neighbour doesn't want him upstairs on his own in case he goes through their stuff/steals.

Ten o'clock is definitely not an unusual bedtime for a 15-year old.

On average, Chef usually starts asking to go to bed around 9pm, sometimes 8pm. There are times when he stays up later, but he usually seems to find it even more difficult to focus in the mornings if he's stayed up later.

This morning was no exception.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

September 9, 2010

I was wrong.

Chef hadn't done his chores yesterday. Normally, he'd have a free pass on chores the first day of school in exchange for other enjoyable/relaxing activities. However, because he has gone back to only occasionally doing his chores lately, he still needed to clean up the kitchen after supper last night and clean up the bathroom.

Chef sounded like he was doing his chores and on initial glance, the kitchen looked cleaned up. I discovered this morning, however, that bits that should have been swept up from the kitchen floor had just been swept into less conspicuous places; under the cupboards, under the table, into the bathroom, down the hall, etc. There were dirty dishes in the cupboards. And though the bathroom smelled very "clean" it actually wasn't at all, meaning Chef probably did what he's done many times in the past - just dumped cleaner (vinegar) in the bathtub.

He'd also said he'd packed his lunch and even listed off what he'd put in his lunchbag - and I mistakenly believed him without checking. This morning his lunchbag only contained empty containers from yesterday's lunch. Chef grumped about having to still pack his lunch, grumped about me having to check his lunch, grumped about having to clean up a mess he'd left on the floor the night before, and when it was time to go out for the bus he kept moving slowly til he was almost late, then got dressed outside.

He did, however, have clothes on when the bus arrived, was wearing his glasses, and got on the bus with his (now packed!) lunchbag and his school supplies. So - was on his way to school and leaving a bit of a wake behind at home.

When he got home from school, there was no time for his after-school rest because we have additional plans for this evening so he needed to finish his chores from yesterday so we can enjoy the evening and start preparing for the weekend. He accepted the news, with the understanding that he would have had time for a rest if he had done his chores yesterday (still learning that it doesn't work to stockpile chores or pretend to do them or lie about having done them). Chef arrived home at 3:30pm and is almost finished cleaning up what he left in the kitchen from yesterday. It is 5:30pm....

After supper, I told my son he had 10 minutes to get the supper dishes done. They were done in 10 minutes.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

First Day of Grade 10

Day 1. Success.

What a beautiful day!

My son came off the bus and slowly walked to the door with his arms hanging down in front of him and his hands locked together with his lunchbag handle in-between. There was little, if any, expression on his face.

When he came inside, he said his now-usual, "hulLO?" It took years of teaching/prompting before my son started saying "hi" or "hello" (when he came in the door, when he saw people, when he opened the door to let someone in, anytime that would be appropriate to say hello) without being prompted so the fact that he now says it on his own is very cool.

We chatted for just a few minutes before my son had his afterschool rest. (We learned during Gr. 8 that my son still does much better in the evening if he has a rest time when he gets home from school.) He was snoring within minutes of going into his room around 3:30 and didn't wake up til almost 5:30. During supper, he talked about his day: it was nice that not all the students were there yet, he ate lunch outside on the hill with a friend who used to play Starcraft with him last year and an EA who didn't introduce himself, then had 20 minutes in each class just to get used to the schedule. "It was really neat that not everyone was there today"...."I really liked that not everyone was there today because then it wasn't so full and we got to have a different kind of day"...."Tomorrow everyone will be there so I'm glad we had today the way it was."

After supper, my son did the dishes AND his chores AND relaxed outside while he did up his "lists" to put into a small album to carry with him. (For years, I've been doing up different aids for my son to use independently so he doesn't always need so many prompts from me for everyday things - but he would always destroy them and then show anxiety/anger when he couldn't remember things but didn't want me reminding him, or would turn to me for all the many many "helps" he needed throughout the day.) One list, for example, is of the steps that are necessary in order to clean up the kitchen. Another is a list of how to get ready for school in the morning. When I went outside to see how he was doing with it, he showed me that he'd even written up a list of items he needs to replace. I'd started creating aids for my son when he was 5 and stopped when he was in Gr. 6 or 7 because he was still continuing to destroy them. It's taken many many months of discussion and natural consequences of my son having difficulties from living with his choices to get to the point where he's realizing that sometimes life is just a little bit easier/smoother with some aids. Needless to say, I was thrilled to see his decision this evening!

By 8:15, he was asking about bedtime. By 8:30 he was snoring.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Some Easy Little Memory-Makers

As the weather begins to cool, my thoughts are turning to cozying and nesting. I love Autumn and, as long as I'm warmly tucked inside, I also love Winter. This little train of thought reminded me of the ongoing Monopoly game our family had a few winters ago, and that led me to thinking about family rituals.

Last Winter, during the very very cold weeks, we sometimes rented 7 movies (7 movies for 7 days for $7!) and would watch as many as we could over one weekend. We played a lot of Bananagrams games, or at least our version of it. Last winter was also the beginning of our "chicken dinner" ritual. The local grocery store offers a "meal deal" that includes a roasted chicken along with two salads. We eat mostly homemade meals ( but once in awhile we've bought "the dinner." Last year, we started buying it about once a month on the same evening as the beginning of our movie marathon weekend. My son seems to view it as a treat. It's sort of our "relaxing and doing nothing" meal.

This year, we're having a "no buy" Christmas. Any gifts exchanged have to be homemade or repurposed. I'm hoping that we'll all agree to continue this as a tradition. My son and I are having a great time coming up with ideas and figuring out what will work.

We like to take nature walks. My son will often scout out good photography shots for me but spends most of his time looking at spiderwebs, holes in the ground, evidence of fires, anthills, etc. We have a "nature tray" in our kitchen that houses a few of the treasures we've brought home. This year my son has started collecting the pine cones in our front yard. He receives payment for collecting them if his usual responsibilities have already been taken care of. It's only a miniscule payment per cone, but my son is drawn to the idea for its ease. It's an easy money-maker for him, they smell nice sitting in a basket on our table, and hopefully it will be a nice memory for him.

First Day Eve

Well, we did it.

Tomorrow is the first day of school, my son's first day of high school, and he is in bed. He made his lunch for tomorrow, did his load of laundry, and actually cleaned up the kitchen in less than an hour after supper!

He again waited to get up til I said we were walking out the door, even though the alarm clock had gone off over an hour earlier, so he missed breakfast but he actually ate lunch AND supper today! AND drank 4 glasses of water! AND did some exercising! AND breezed through a vaccination at the public health office!

Of course, this was not without much work on the part of both of us, and we were pretty much velcroed together all day long as I gave him verbal prompts for pretty much everything he needed to do - but it's done!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Oh, the Comforts of Food

It's past midnight.

My son has made numerous trips to the washroom, accompanied by comments of "I'm sorry about taking all the sugar before" and "I'm just wondering what time it is" and "Mom, are you still awake?" (I'd like to think that he was just innocently making these comments, but he has never done that before after he has gone to bed and I now have a sense that he was actually checking to see if I was actually still awake so he could gauge what he was going to do.)

I figured the numerous bathroom trips were a result of his "Mmmm, sugar!!" choices earlier today.

I was wrong.

When I knocked on his door to say goodnight and see how he was doing, I heard some rustling but no answer. When I opened the door, my son's eyes were closed but his eyelids were sort of squinting - I suspected he wasn't at all asleep.
And then I saw it.

On his floor was a full picnic, blanket included. Apparently he'd been closing the bathroom door then sneaking food into a blanket and into his room under the guise of being in the bathroom. This isn't something new (the "pretend to be in the bathroom but actually be doing something else" plan) but he hasn't done this in years. Part of me was actually relieved to see that he had finally taken in a good amount of nutrition, given his poor eating habits as of late. I also wondered if he'd purposely targeted the food that we'd planned for his school lunches this week. His body may have been craving "good stuff" to balance out the sugar he'd earlier ingested or the sugar was effecting him to the point of "needing" more to eat and/or the "school is starting this week" is coming to light in the area of food. And though food-sneaking/gobbling is definitely a less-than-ideal coping mechanism, I'd rather that than the "behavioural meltdowns" of yore.

So there it was, a blanket with some of the food that was going to be used in his lunches we'd planned together for his first few days at his new school: a half-eaten basket of pears, a basket of peaches, empty bones from leftover chicken, and a package of rice crackers with only a couple missing. There was also a bottle of mustard (half-empty) and a bottle of salad dressing (empty). Oh, and a box of animal cookies from my daughter's room; empty.

I hope he sleeps through the night.

When Will I Learn

Well, today had quite a turn-around.

I found a sugar carton, a marshmellow bag, and a bread bag in my son's room. They were all empty.

I'd heard a "wrapper-ish" sound when my son walked past his bedroom and opened his door, and he hadn't had time to hide the bread bag before I did a room-check. A boot belonging to my oldest daughter was tucked between the dresser and the wall - an odd place for a boot. Inside the boot was the empty sugar carton which was on top of the empty marshmellow bag.

As usual, I haven't done room-checks the past few days because there hadn't been anything in my son's room during room-checks for quite a few days prior. And as usual, once I slacked off on the room checks, my son was lacking those external boundaries that were helping him make good, safe choices for himself.

So my son has ingested all that sugar, yet I'm the one with the headache. Funny how that works.

Summer, 2010

The air is crisp with the promise of Autumn. Did someone famous already write that? I have no idea; I just know that the sky is clear, I've heard both ravens and crows today, and there is a crisp breeze nudging the branches of the evergreen tree outside my window.

School starts in two days. I'm still amazed that my son isn't damaging objects or himself in an attempt to make it all go away. At this very moment, he is doing one of his favourite activities in the world; cooking. He is singing and boiling eggs and looking forward to spending the rest of the afternoon learning how to do up different mayos/sauces. We might still go hiking later.

My mind has been reviewing the summer and comparing it to some of the "let's do" ideas we'd come up with before the summer holidays started. Camping? Check. Go-Karting? Was planned for the week we were in the city but was missed out on in exchange for sleeping by my teenaged son. Spending time by the river? See above. Picnics? We had two, and are planning to squeeze in more before the cold weather sets in. Birthday? Yes! My son helped prepare for and attended an at-home birthday party this year!

Summer, 2010
-Camping for a week with extended family
-Spent a week house-sitting and performing/volunteering at large cultural event in the city
-Some geocaching
-Attended our local Fringe festival's outdoor performances, an indoor venue, and a couple galleries
-Attended a local outdoor concert
-Time with new nieces/grandbabies
-Started collecting supplies for homemade Christmas gifts for our "no-buy Christmas"
-Cooking. Lots of cooking. See below.

One of our plans for the summer was to increase my son's food-prep repertoire. We succeeded.

Cooking/food-prep is an area we both enjoy. I love coming up with new ideas in the kitchen, and my son loves the hands-on experience of the actual creations.

This summer, we've - well, you can see for yourself! My food blog is at

Today we're aiming to work on homemade, flavoured mayos and exploring what else we can do with rice paper....

Planning for the Future

My son and I have had many conversations about his goals and dreams for his future. Up til he was about 6 years old, he wanted to be a firetruck. From about 5 to 9 years of age, he wanted to be a speed bump. He explained to his mental health worker and I that being a speed bump would be great because he'd get to feel heavy tires run over him. We explored this further with him and decided to view it as sensory-based.

For many years, my son talked about being a spy. It's unclear as to whether or not he actually believed himself to be one or hoped to someday be one, but he prided himself on his ability to "watch people when they don't know I'm watching" and to "do things when people don't know I'm doing them."

About two years ago, I started initiating discussions with my son regarding his future. He very much resisted such discussions at first, but as I continued to explore and discuss his interests with him he began to hesitantly participate. (When he was younger, my son refused/argued/ tantrummed over positive comments about him and directed towards him. I continued anyway, as did his some of the folks on his support team. Today, he seems to be unable to keep himself from responding with a shy smile or goofy grin when someone says something good about him.) As the process continued, my son arrived to where he is today; coming up with ideas that interest him and figuring out how they could realistically work for his future.

Following are some of his ideas, and the challenges he is trying to figure out in order to implement the idea:

-University: too many crowds and loud noises in classrooms/dorm
-Chef: crowds/noise, often forgets to turn off stove/oven at home, hygiene
-Computer: "Mom, did you know people get paid to test out computer games?" Is great on computers at school; working towards how that might fit into his future
-Homebased Business: wants to sell items he has made, but realistically doesn't want to put time/energy into making items
-Marine: challenges with decision-making, relating to people, focus, etc.
-Performer: is connected to many folks in the arts community and talks about maybe wanting to perform someday and has had many opportunities but often doesn't want to; doesn't want to put in time/energy into preparation; and "What if I'm too tired that day?"
-Entrepeneur: would like to someday have his own restaurant or cafe but crowds/noise level/training, etc. are again all challenges in this area
-Weeder/Grass-cutter: noise if yardowner wants power-mower used instead of rotary mower; dealing with public/ communicating clearly with yardowners

The journey continues!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Finding Balance

Well, things are almost back to "normal" after our August holidays, which is especially interesting since school starts in a few days and my son is usually in complete meltdown mode by now! And though he is still struggling with having to wear clothes and having to do chores, he's back to his "normal" level of struggling with those ideas. He has returned to consistently eating meals again, with only very occasional blips of "I won't get ready for the day until we're walking out the door" moments. If only I could get myself to walk out the door every morning at 6am! Of course, that would only "work" until my son would realize that there really isn't someplace we "need" to be at that hour. After that I'm pretty sure he'd go back to staying in bed til afternoon then complaining that he'd missed breakfast and lunch.

During the most difficult times in the past, one of my ways to get through was to remind myself of how far my son had come; how very much progress he'd made over the years. I haven't reviewed that a lot lately. I think it's because he is in the process of reaching another new plateau and I'm enjoying seeing him working on that, and just enjoying my time with him when he's in good space.

I decided it would be good to revisit "that list" and document it here, so here goes!

-smears/plays with feces
-hides feces in his room
-urinates in his bedroom (though I suspect he's still occasionally urinating out his window when he doesn't feel like walking to the bathroom, but I'd still rather that than in his closet, in dresser drawers, in the window ledge, on the walls/ceiling, in the light fixture, etc) ***This has resurfaced since the beginning of the school year in the form of taking empty vinegar bottles into his room and using them to urinate in, with occasional urination on the floor
-tries to pick his skin off (different than picking scabs or picking "at" his skin)
-picks his nose or skin "to get blood to come out"
-attempts to hurt animals

-pinches himself or pulls his hair
-hides in his room when friends/family are coming over/visiting
-destroys footwear (ok, this probably technically shouldn't be on the list yet, but HE KEPT A PAIR OF FLIPFLOPS ALL SUMMER! He wore them everyday and didn't wreck them! They actually started WEARING OUT!! He has NEVER kept a pair of shoes/boots long enough to outgrow them or for them to wear out. I'm very curious to see how fall/winter footwear goes!) ***Chef did great with his summer footwear, but had difficulty switching over to appropriate footwear when the weather changed, and has been damaging his winter boots since he started wearing them 2-3 weeks ago
-exhibits panic when I am not outside with him (though he still
exhibits anxiety, often looking towards the house/windows)
-runs towards me screaming/crying when there are loud noises outside
-removes his clothing once he's outside - YAY!!

-urinates across clothing then states he has nothing to wear
-refuses to wear boots in the snow

-fills his boots with stones
-tries to wear turtlenecks and parkas in the summer
-has all-out, destructive tantrums/rages ***Tantrumming has returned the past few months and takes place outside
-bangs his head against walls/floors/doors
-headbutts me (ok, so I eventually stopped bending down to talk with him after the first few!)

-sneaks through the house at night to stock things in his room ***Has been found "sneaking around" twice in the past two weeks
-makes holes in his mattress for stashing food, bits of string, broken q-tips, etc. ***This completely resurfaced once school started. Chef has now completely destroyed his most recent mattress.
-keeps piles of broken q-tips, spitballs, bits of string/paper/etc., along his bedroom baseboards/windows/under mattress, etc. (though we still don't keep toilet paper in the upstairs bathroom or he will use most or all of it to make/hide spitballs in his room) ***This also resurfaced once school started; little piles of mattress foam, string, fluff, paper, etc. are regularly on Chef's bedroom floor
-makes holes in his walls to hide hoards or to try to get at things he wants in the room next to his
-sneaks through my stuff in my bedroom while I'm sleeping at night
-makes numerous trips to the bathroom every night
-taps on the wall to wake me whenever he wakes up
-has to have all the food he sees in the kitchen: as of the past few months, I've been able to leave fruit out on the table. In fact, I've been able to leave all sorts of food out in the kitchen as long as it's on the table. And we can now keep cereal in the kitchen as long as it is in the fridge rather than a cupboard for some reason. There was a time when very few food items could be kept in the kitchen without my son sneaking them off somewhere or quickly inhaling them in the kitchen or in the washroom. ***See December, 2010 posts regarding food

***December, 2010
-(more to follow)


-Cooking/food prep(gfcf): eggs, brownies, cookies, almond milk, hummus, salads, potatoes (fried,baked,mashed), salmon, basa, fresh/frozen vegetables, fried onions, sandwiches, rice, cornmeal, pasta, etc., etc. My son would cook every night if he could. Somedays I feel like giving up on chores and just letting him cook!
-Visiting with his nieces: he is very good at smiling/cooing with them

-Visiting with seniors: he loves playing cards/board games with seniors

-is very gentle with animals
pping for Groceries: My son LOVES this activity, and often checks/compares the nutritional values of various items
-Reading: My son is a VORACIOUS reader

-Putting up and taking down tents
-learning to skateboard
-weeding; in fact, he wants to ask the landlord if he can be paid to weed the yards next summer because the yard crew did such a poor job this year

-(more to follow)

For now, I'm off to bed. Tomorrow is our hiking day!