Saturday, September 4, 2010

Seeing IS believing and therein lies the problem...sometimes.

Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing.”~William James~

  I think that I have sat down to write at least fifteen times in the past two weeks.  I turn on my lap-top..log in to my site..and just sit there staring at the screen.  I have plenty of things I could write about-so many ideas. I just seem to be having a problem getting them out of my head. I think that a lot of it has to do with school starting this week. There have just been so many meetings and phone calls, doctor appointments and shopping trips. There have been freak outs and crying fits, arguments and tantrums. And my kids-they have been stressed out as well.

  Getting four kids ready for school takes monumental effort, nerves of steel and gallons of coffee. There are I.E.P.'s that need to be gone over, school supplies to be bought and the most dreaded thing of all-clothes shopping.  I HATE clothes shopping..dread it..loathe it..I would rather chew on tin foil than do it.  Everyone else with the exception of Oscar, loves it.  And therein lies the problem.  When Oscar finds himself in a situation that is stressful or boring, he finds interesting ways to entertain himself.  Sometimes it's stimming..and other times..well, he likes to yell things out..usually inappropriate things..because deep down, he KNOWS he's funny.  We do try to work with him on this stuff-we do. And my boy he really really works hard on this.  I know that I spoke a few weeks ago about this and at the time, I had thought we had  made some progress.  You know, I can't say that we didn't-because Oscar has been trying.  He waits now until we are in the car before yelling things out.  It has made our car rides quite interesting to say the least. 

Sammy"-Mama?  Are we almost home?"
Me-"We should be there in about twenty minutes.."
Lily-"Can we swim when we get home?"
Zoe-"I want to swim"
Me-Oscar do you want to go swimming?"
Oscar-"Yeah...can I have a snack first?"

  It's almost as if he has to get it all out of his system before he can concentrate on doing anything else. And that is absolutely fine. I can't have him yelling these things out in school or stores if he can help it. So if doing it in the car or at home helps him-so be it. People judge him enough as it is without adding anything else to the mix.  I think that is what bothers me the most. Oscar really struggles with pragmatic language..conversations ideas..thoughts, are hard for him to express. This in no way means he is incapable of them. Unfortunately, people see his stimming or grimacing and dismiss him. Or even worse, say things like "I'm afraid of him."  Yup, someone said that to me recently after Oscar loudly proclaimed he was frustrated and slammed his hands down on a table. He had been asked to do something that involved fine motor skills and he was having a problem with it.  I'm thrilled that he expressed is frustration..but not so thrilled with the "afraid" comment. That a knife through my heart.  I wanted to say "What the hell do you think he was going to do? He expressed himself! Do you not see what an achievement that is? He was upset and let you know it! "  Instead, I let it go and spoke about how amazing a kid he is-about how the world is so very hard for him..and yet he doesn't give up..and that I wished people saw THAT instead of judging him on his behavior. 

  I think that this is my biggest worry with Oscar. He is so very bright-but his stimming and struggle with expressive language sometimes cause people  not to expect too much from him. That is a big mistake and it does my boy a great disservice. He is quite capable-he just shows it differently. All anyone really has to do is look.

 I had all four of them with me as we went shopping for clothes at "Old Navy" last week. They all know that when we are out,  I expect the BEST behavior. I keep them on a tight rein in order to get what we need done in the fastest possible way. We get in, we get out and we go home.  That way, no one is too overwhelmed(especially me). So there I am at the register checking out when I hear Sammy saying (in a very loud whisper) "Oscar! Stop doing isn't polite!" I didn't  even turn around. I thought..I can't hear Oscar saying anything and Sammy..well, he's at that age where EVERYTHING embarrasses him. I chose to ignore it. Sammy wouldn't let me though. "mama?...MAMA!" I said "Sammy leave him alone..he isn't doing anything.."But...MAMA!"  SIGH! " Sammy..." I happened to glance at the cashier ..she had a very odd expression on her face..Crap.. I turned around and there is Oscar...his arms wrapped around one of the mannequins...rubbing his face  between her pointy plastic breasts.. all the while laughing and saying "She's my giiiiiirlfriend Sammy!  Her name is Suzy!" while patting her bottom with his hands. Unfortunately... sigh... I burst out did the cashier...the floor manager..and anyone else in the vicinity.(absolutely mortifying Sammy)  I said "Oscar, could you please STOP doing that?" He looked at me laughing and said "But she's my girlfriend! Her name is Suzy!"  "OSCAR! Please put Suzy down...she is too old for you.." "Ohhh...alright..." He gently put her down saying "Goodbye Suzy."   I grabbed our bags and out we went  .. In the car, after consoling my horrified Sammy...I told Oscar that he really couldn't do that in stores, that mannequins were for looking not touching.. Oscar said "I was just  making everyone happy..I'm funny."  "It wasn't funny to me" cried Sammy "He was saying she was his girlfriend!  Oscar! Mannequins can not be girlfriends!"  "Sammy...bud...Oscar knows one in the store thought he really believed that..he was just making a joke.." "Well I didn't think it was funny!" "Well it isn't always about what you think Sammy!"  sigh...I really don't like shopping...

  School started Thursday for my three oldest.  Zoe starts her program on Tuesday. For the first time in twelve years, I will actually have a few hours every day to call my own.  I don't think that I need to mention how very exciting this is for me. I worry though...this is a hard year for some of them.  Sammy has started middle school (so far so good) and Oscar fourth grade.  There is a lot expected of both of them-especially Oscar. My worry is that he will be dismissed..that his outward behavior, the way he communicates..the way he moves..his sense of humor...sigh...I worry that this is all that people will see. That they won't challenge him..that when he becomes frustrated..they won't try to work around it..opting instead to lower their expectations. He is a great kid-and much smarter than people think. All anyone has to do is take the time and look. And if you won't take my word for it.. Just ask "Suzy"... 







Kim Wombles said...

Hee, I wish I'd been there with you. Oscar's going to be giving Sammy fits for years to come, isn't he? :-)

I'm still laughing as I visual that scene at Old Navy.

Big Daddy Autism said...

Oscar is a riot. If he were about thirty years older, we would be great friends.

Jen said...

Oh I would have LOVED to have been in Old Navy with you just to see that (shopping is not my thing either!). You have had a busy few weeks by the looks of it, hope the children get settled into school and you can start enjoying that time to yourself:) Jen

Looking for Blue Sky said...

You are so right: you're family really are very funny :)

Clay said...

Yeah, that's funny - and embarrassing. Sounds like a real handful I hope you can enjoy your moments of peace and quiet.

kathleen said...

Hi Kim-yup..poor Sammy..Oscar really does know how to push his buttons..and Sammy is just so "proper"..there was a time when he wanted to be a butler..and you know? I can picture that perfectly..:)
Hi Big daddy-I know what you mean-it is so hard sometimes being the responsible parent. Out of all my kids-Oscar's sense of humor is closest to my own.
Hi Jen-it was riotously funny..and he knew it. The picture at the bottom of the post is the actual mannequin...I showed it to him earlier and he called Sammy over and said "Look! Theres Suzy!!" ;0
Hi looking for blue sky-They are! I really am blessed that I have kids that can laugh-and just be silly with me. I couldn't imagine if they were all stoic and rigid..I'd feel so lonely!
Hi Clay-thanks..I plan on it..and yeah...poor Sammy swears he won't ever go into that store again...Oscar on the otherhand....:)

Anonymous said...

Thank you Oscar. That is the best laugh I have had in quite a while!
Boy, Sammy is in for some rough times. I love Oscar's resilience.

Kath, I am so glad you write this blog. I just love reading about you, Omar and the kids. I'm still laughing. Reminds me of mom playing mannequin. I think she actually would have cracked up.

Love, Ei

kathleen said...

Hi dear..yeah, Mom would have laughed..and then felt terrible about it..Doesn't Oscar remind you in ways of Ned? He is so funny...:)

Lynn said...

Everybody knows that poop and nipples are two of the funniest words in the English language. And those Old Navy mannequins are creepy life-like. I heart Oscar! My ASD daughter also has no edit button, but she also doesn't have any siblings to I feel for Sammy!

Thanks for stopping by my blog! Following you now!

jazzygal said...

Oh Kathleen...I get your concern for Oscar. And for Sammy. But..that was sooo funny!!

I think Oscar is hilarious. your car rides are very similar to ours!

Whilst I like shopping I don't like huge stores with loits of choices...too overwhelming.

Thanks for the laugh!!

xx Jazzy

kathleen said...

Hi Lynn-yup I think that "nipples" is number one here...Oscar is great fun-as well as being hysterically funny..:)

Hi Jazzy-thanks..I think that for the next few years Oscar is going to unintentionally torment Sammy..well unintentional most of the time..:)

Stephanie said...

It's sad that that has to be the worry. He tries so hard, but so many people are too ready to say "it's not enough" that they cannot see how much it really is.

As much as it's extra work, it might me be time to take Sammy shopping alone. A few years ago, Brandon (my step-son) got to the point where shopping for school clothes suddenly seemed important. It was important to get just the right things and have the right atmosphere over the whole thing--it wasn't just the clothes, but the experience. I picked up clothes for the other boys, too, but they're less concerned about style and more concerned about comfort (needs I can satisfy without them being present).

For Brandon, it wasn't so much time away from his brothers, but time the one-on-one attention.

It might be that Sammy needs to have this (the shopping for his clothes) be about him. I understand about disliking shopping--if it didn't need to be done, I wouldn't do it at all. But Sammy might need that experience to help with the transition to middle school, a feeling of control in the midst of upheaval.

kathleen said...

Stephanie-It was Oscar that I was writing hard he people see the stimming and eeeing and automatically judge him.Out of all of my kids-Oscar is noticeably "different" because of his behaviors. That people see those things and disregard him.
Oscar molesting the mannequin :) was my way of showing just how wonderful his sense of humor is-that he wants to make people laugh. Also that he know exactly how to push Sammy's buttons..which shows an understanding of his brother. Sammy is (as is age appropriate) embarrassed by EVERYTHING..including his parents..:) That is his age..
I was just trying to make the point that Oscar is so much more than people think he is-thus the title of the post. :)

Stephanie said...

I got that, and I'm sorry for getting off that track.

But my heart goes out to Sammy with this particular story. Middle school is a very awkward time and embarrassment is especially excruciating during those uncertain years, even when it's an overreaction.

Maybe it's projecting, but with four kids of my own I know my boys don't always get as much individual attention as I would like to give them. For Brandon, having those times when it really was just about him made those times when it was about one of his brothers or about the family much better.

Being underestimated is hard on Oscar. I have no doubt about that. And I have no doubt he has much to offer.

But it's hard on Sammy, too, to live in a world where the family he loves (however embarrassing families might be) isn't accepted. He's going to have to come to terms with that or he's going to have a big burden to carry around.

kathleen said...

Hi Stephanie-sorry, haven't been on for a day or so. Thanks for the comment and concern over Sammy. Middle school, growing up, the world, puberty-yes all those things are hard on Sammy..I'm very aware of that. There will be a post talking about just those things and how we have been looking at them coming up in a week or so. I actually started one today-but blogger somehow deleted it before it was finished...arrrgghhhh...To me..well I just look at as a sign that I needed to get my dental frustration out first..:)

Stephanie said...

I look forward to your next post. And I hope your dental frustration is resolved sooner rather than later!

Autism Mom Rising said...

There is so much we, but especially others, can miss if everything is seen as a deficit. Last week I was outside for five minutes and my Autistic son ate automatic (non-toxic variety) dish soap and vomited within minutes. Of course I panicked. Of course I knew a typical nine year old probably wouldn't do this. But on further inspection I saw that there was also some of the powder in a water glass in a straw. He watches me put powder in a glass with a straw, baking soda, every day for him to help with his tummy. He was trying to take care of his tummy troubles independently, and why wouldn't he want to do that....he is, after all, nine?

I hear your concerns with lowered expectations at school. Very frustrating. Since this is an older post that I come by via Blog Gems I'll say that I hope things worked out better than you thought they might in terms of others expectations.

Yuji said...

Thanks for this very funny, and thoughtful post. Oscar sounds like quite a kid!

Patty O. said...

I'm over from blog gems! And this is definitely a gem! So, so funny!

But I understand what you mean about people dismissing your son. I feel the same way so often and it frustrates me more than anything!

Lizbeth said...

Ok, that is funny. I'm shocked he didn't go for the nipples though, those things are like headlights. Just sayin.

Looking for Blue Sky said...

I know you were raising lots of serious issues in this post too, but I LOVE OSCAR :))) Commenting again from Blog Gems

Sasha said...

: ) I love the poooooop story lol sounds like car rides at my house.

My J-Bird starts school next year I am soooo worried. Thank you for sharing.

Over from blog gems.

MommyToTwoBoys said...

Perfect! I asked for funny and you delivered!

Oscar is hysterical!

I can't believe you shop with 4! I can barely shop with my 2.

And I am still cringing about the line about chewing on tinfoil. Ahh! Good to know I am not the only one with that issue. Tinfoil and cotton!