Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Tale of The Purple Witch and Count Johnny

"I want purple eyes, too, Mama!!"
"And pink cheeks?"
"Yes, Mama. I want purple eyes and pink cheeks!"

This was our conversation as I put my make up on before the kids' portrait session two weeks ago. Jordan was super excited because she was getting her picture taken and she got to see Gammie and Great Grandma. She saw my purple eyeshadow and my blush, and decided that she must have it too. I didn't see the harm, so I told her to sit on the toilet seat and close her eyes. She followed directions beautifully, and sat very still with a big grin on her face as I applied minimal purple eyeshadow and pink blush. When finished, she flew into the the living and flung herself into John's arms, shouting "Daddy I have purple eyes and pink cheeks!" She was so proud of herself for being a big girl and wearing make up, and I was proud of her for listening and following directions.

When we arrived at Sears, she paraded in ahead of Johnny and I and ran to my mother, who I had brought in for extra support to avoid a repeat of last year's meltdown. We quickly dressed both kids in their costumes and led them into the studio. She immediately tensed up, and I felt my stomach clench, sure that we were on the verge of another meltdown. I chanted over and over in my head as we tried to calm her:  Not again. Please, not again. I really want this to be a positive  experience. Please, not again!

That's when she threw us a curve ball and relaxed. The photographers were very patient and attentive to her, which helped her realize that this wasn't so bad, and she was going to be okay. They played games with her and earned her trust, easing her qualms, as well as mine,  even further. Between them and my mother, this session suddenly became a breeze.  Every time they snapped a picture, she ran to see how it came out and high fived every one, congratulating not only them but herself for a job well done. She even tried to soothe poor Johnny, who, in sharp contrast to last year, wailed and sobbed through the whole sitting. (In his defense, he was recovering from a double ear infection and was rather grumpy to begin with!)

What a difference a year makes! I was so proud of Jordan for being able to calm herself down long enough to listen, and for her ability to understand that she was okay and this was safe. She has changed so much since last October, and gained a wealth of new skills from being in school and interacting with typical peers. She has made leaps and bounds, and continues to grow stronger and smarter each and every day!

Trick or treating was a hoot. My brother Patrick and I herded Jordan and PJ, along with Malik, Nathaniel and Rosa around his neighborhood gathering treats. Jordan walked up to each and every house, proclaiming 'trick or treat' and holding out her pumpkin for candy. She always remembered to say thank you, and held my hand for the entire walk without protest. She even played Safety Patrol and told the boys to "Slow down!" and  "Use walking feet!" when they would run ahead up the yards and driveways.  Count Johnny and Pirate Princess Genevieve only made it to two houses, as it was quite cold when we went out. With her expanded comprehension and listening skills, Jordan continues to progress, and each year is better than the last!

That's our tale for today! As we jump into November and the unofficial start of the Christmas season, we begin the wait for Santa in our next episode!

Here's the results of our photo session and a few snapshots from trick or treating!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Getting Them Help is Keeping Them Safe

The 9 year old boy who disappeared in New Hampshire last week, initiating a massive search effort on the part of police only to be found under a neighbor's bed, has gone missing. This is the third occurrence this year.  Judging from photographs and video from the last time this happened, it appears that he thrives on attention. He was elated when he was found and appeared to enjoy riding in the police car. One could assume that he is doing this for attention.

Everyone is quick to blame the parents. Why aren't they watching him? Why do they let this happen? They need to watch him better. The worst I've heard is that the parents are neglectful, irresponsible, and that DCF should step in. Statements like these are easy to make when you're outside of the situation. I don't believe that this is a case of neglect, nor are the parents irresponsible. I think there's more involved than the media is letting on.  I think there may be something awry with this little boy.

That is what is not being addressed:  his mental well being. Has he been evaluated by a neurologist or pyschologist? Is there a developmental disorder? If that is the case, he may not fully comprehend the consequences of his actions. It could all be a game to him. He could be playing hide and seek, and searching out the best spot so that no one will know where to find him and he wins. One can see the excitement on his face if you were to look at footage from last week. He was thrilled when he was found, as most children are when they are sought out in this game. Children on the spectrum often  have no sense of self preservation, and cannot discern the difference between what is safe and what is dangerous.  This could also be the case. To him, he could just be taking a walk. He doesn't understand that going out on his own is not safe and that he could get hurt.

Jordan exhibited similar behavior when she was first diagnosed with ASD. She did not fully grasp the concept that inappropriate behaviors, like screaming for what she wants or throwing things when she's upset, were not acceptable. She also didn't understand that she could get hurt if she went running down the stairs or jumped on her bed.  She laughed like it was a big joke, and would continue to push the limits. It took months of  extensive therapy and now almost two full years of school to open up her comprehension skills to get her to understand what is right and what is wrong, and what is safe and what is dangerous.  Even now, she's still learning and it is often difficult to communicate the difference to her.

If there hasn't been one already, there needs to be an evaluation completed on this child to see if he is on the spectrum. If he is, then the parents need to take steps to keep him safe. The first thing they need to do get educated. They need to get in touch with mental health professionals and Autism experts and learn ways in which they can really help their son. GPS bracelets, home alarms, and constant supervision will not be enough if the parents can't help the child to understand that what he's doing is wrong.

Here's the story:

Remember, there's always help. Here are some websites with more information:

Autism Speaks:

The Autism Society of America:

The Doug Flutie Jr Foundation for Autism:

Children Making Strides:

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Year in a Day

I am such a bad blogger. I should have been updating regularly,  but as I was just discussing with both my husband and my best friend, I started this blog going in to the worst time of year for me: the Holiday Season. Which, in retail, reigns from the end of September until the first week of January. It's just one busy week after another, and then your shift changes and you're working all sorts of crazy hours. But time wasted on excuses is time taken away from what's important, and that's the subject of this blog: Miss Jordan Elizabeth!

Christmas day with Grammie

Christmas was a joy in our house! The kids and I left "reindeer food" on the porch and cookies and milk for Santa. They were pleasantly surprised when they woke up Christmas day to find the reindeer food gone and that half the milk and cookies had disappeared! Santa had come!! Jordan had fun opening her presents and helping Johnny open his. We enjoyed a quiet day at Grammie and Gimpie's where the kids were showered with gifts and had an overall pleasant day!

Johnny's Christening

The future Joan Jett!

January brought transistion into a new classroom for Jordan. We really thought she was going to have a tough time and the previous sleep interruptions would creep up as they had with prior changes (Johnny coming home from the hospital, and subsequently sharing her room). But she did surprisingly well. She was nervous the first few days, but by the end of her first week there she loved her new teacher (Miss Melanie)  and new friends.  Her speech began to blossom even further as she picked up new skills from her typical peers. She conquered the potty beast and we finally got her out of pull ups! She had a few accidents as she learned how to both pee and poo on the potty, but she eventually got the hang of both and has been doing great since!!



Sitting pretty!

A cold, snowy, uneventful winter led to quite an exciting spring for us, both good and bad. Jordan's newest cousin, Ashleigh Noelle, was born on May 4th. She was very excited to learn of her arrival and loved showing people pictures of 'Baby Ashleigh.' She can't wait for her Aunt and Uncle to invite her and Johnny up to meet and play with Ashleigh. Unfortunately, her Gumpy also suffered a minor stroke. It was a scary time for us, as he had to undergo surgery to remove a clot in a major artery. In that time, we taught Jordan to pray for Gumpy and how to play gentle while he was recovering. Jordan adjusted well to this change in her play routine with him, but they still enjoyed their walks, which were instrumental in helping him recouperate. She loves walking with Gumpy!!

Super short and sassy!

In the pool with Gammie
July brought Jordan's first haircut! We went to Auntie Pam's house and she did phenomenal. We gave her a drink and put on her favorite movie and she sat perfectly still while Auntie Pam cut off over 3 inches of hair! She didn't complain or twitch once, and didn't even acknowledge the scissors.  We also took a vacation to the family beach house, where Jordan was also on her best behavior. She slept like an angel and really enjoyed splashing in the ocean and playing in the sand! And of course, what's a summer without a trip to Gammie's pool? :)

Beaching it with Johnny!

Jordan and Miss Melanie

Back tracking a little, Johnny turned one at the end of May, and in June, Jordan completed her first year of preschool and celebrated her fourth birthday! She picked up a plethora of new skills in her time in Miss Melanie's class, including learning to write her name! She made significant progess on her IEP, and this year we are working on kindergarten preparedness and honing her focus, while keeping much of the same goals as the last one.  There was a bump in the road with the transition between the end of the school year and the beginning of summer school, as well as the transition from summer school into the beginning of the school year in September. The latter was worse than the former, and both involved her sleep patterns. She began kicking the door and screaming at night. We tried putting up an expansion gate, and she snapped in half by kicking it. She did the same to a wooden tension gate, until we finally had to buy a heavy duty metal walk-through gate that has seemed to do the trick. She no longer gets up at night, and when she does, ignoring the behavior shortens the length of the fit and discourages further episodes. **Knock on wood,** we haven't had a major occurrence since the beginning of September!

Smiley girl on a sunny fall day
The first month of school has been productive. Jordan is making strides on her IEP: She can answer many "wh" questions (who, what, when, where, why) appropriately, excels at writing her name, and enjoys matching and math games. We took a field trip to the fire station a few weeks ago, and she chatted the whole walk down from the school She was initially afraid, but after talking to a firefighter, she calmed down and even climbed on the engine. She has formed a bond with a little boy named Kevin. Kevin is very nervous and tends to get a little anxious, but as soon as he sits down with or starts to play with Jordan he relaxes. Miss Melanie reports that she tells Kevin that "It's okay" and "Don't cry, it will be alright," and that she has really helped with his transistion into the classroom.  Everyone at school knows and loves Jordan, even the school receptionists! She has really become a social butterfly!

And here we are at the end of October. We are approaching Halloween, which Jordan is very excited about. She's going to be a witch this year and even picked out a trick or treat pumpkin! We have scheduled another portrait session for this weekend, which I am hoping will go better than last year. Jordan has a better understanding of what is going on and is much easier to communicate with, not to mention we are bringing Gammie and Great Grandma along for extra support. Let's keep our fingers crossed!  Happy Halloween, everyone! Halloween portraits and trick or treat fun in the next post!

 Here's a few of Jordan's new favorite movies, just for fun!:

A must watch, almost every day!

She loves Minion

She calls this one the 'Punzel' movie


She likes them all, but LOVES Toy Story 2!