30 April 2010

Friday showers

We have had building humidity all day. I could feel the building -- not of pain or even discomfort - the change, until it burst out in rain storms. Sometimes Julia is more effected by dramatic weather changes than most kids, and I've read that this is not unusual for kids with autism. For her, who has also spent time not understanding the changes around her, I would also think that she still has the ability to smell the changes in the air -- literally and figuratively.

She smells.

The storms have blown in with thunder and lightening -- loud noises that Julia hates. So, so, so many times, Julia had been so scared that she could not move and was able only to scream and hang on to one of us. Today, she whined some but agreed to put on earplugs and her hat to keep the noise out. She is able to function with her therapists and only needs to ask about how scared we are. So, taking one extreme to the other, we have seen great change, but like so much that has changed and is changing, it is at a snails pace. Long, hard work, with incremental changes that are almost impossible to appreciate from day to day. We do appreciate, and I am learning to appreciate.

Healing and transformation take the time it needs to take.

During the past week, some her Julia's therapist and I can talk to her when her "engine" begins to get too fast, when her mood begins to escalate, when she gets angry and she has the possibility of tantruming or melting down. We are talking to her about what she can do to calm herself down. She doesn't necessarily want to get calm when she escalates, but she is listening. I have gotten her to jump on her trampoline and hit her punching dummy when she is angry. The physical action brings her down and once or twice she has even appreciated that she could do this. We have a long, long way to go before she can control her anger but we are creeping along the road.

At Marilyn's yesterday, Julia was talking about loud noises, and Marilyn took the opportunity to ask Julia if we had loud noises at home, and then if Julia had ever lived somewhere with loud noises. Julia answered that it was quiet at home, but that she had lived somewhere that was noisy. Marilyn asked if it was in China, and Julia, very clearly, told her that she did not want to talk about China with Marilyn. Marilyn replied that she would stop today but that she would be talking about it again.

I don't necessarily think Julia will be willing to talk soon, but I do believe that she is starting to take in that she is going to have to talk about her early life. I hope that we can move to an understanding that even though the talking and experiencing will be painful, the pain will not last forever and life will be better with my girl's heavy baggage unpacked.

Weather is a bit severe -- we are under a tornado watch for a number of hours.

28 April 2010

Julia is with Morgan, one of her therapist. I've heard some rude and impatient words and when Julia comes up to go to the bathroom, I call her on it. She sighs and tells me she will talk gently. Then she practices, "Morgan, may you put that book down now," in the sappiest, sweetest voice I've ever heard. She sways a little bit and cocks her head to one side.

Pretty cool for her to understand how to do that, and for a moment it did not seem hard at all.

Julia is quiet today -- after school. She is hiding her nose in her shirt and speaking pretty quietly when she does speak. Her report from school was good today, no reason for this behavior. Maybe she is tired.

We have new next door neighbors -- a rental of the first floor. They are a young couple planning to get married in two months and looking to put down some roots. They love Madison. I have spoken with the guy and this afternoon after school, the woman came over to introduce herself. They are very sweet and earnest, quite what I imagine that Cheshire will be like in a few years. I do like neighborhoods that allow for a wide array of people to live in. Single homes and two families are very nice together.

27 April 2010

Finally, getting to organize life again. Cleaning the desk, writing email, calling for estate work, and seeing what bills need to be paid. I have to scour the estate files tomorrow for information the attorney asked for but I am pretty close to under control.

Julia is outside doing what she loves -- catching and watching bugs. She is with Stephanie, a therapist, and they are on the ground together. Julia looks incredibly calm and focused.

I feel ashamed for writing what I did yesterday. Still, I will leave it up. It was a me who was whining for an easy life. As if, Julia and everyone and everything around me should accommodate my desire for an easy social life. I don't really want easy; I want exciting and wonderful. And of course, I can't fail to note that if Julia was anything other than she is, I might not have wanted to give my time to her school and might not have gotten as involved as I have with PTO and the food group. And if all of that, then I might not have even met these women whose society I enjoy.

Julia girl is my great teacher.

Last night, when I was rather short with Julia, I told her to come to the couch and watch TV with us or I would turn off TV and let her play with her toys. She shot right back that she wanted to BOTH play with her toys and watch TV. Words that could have come right out of my mouth through out my childhood and adult life. I don't think I taught her that.

26 April 2010

mother moment

Oh my, oh my. I have been feeling terribly sorry for myself for a good part of the day today. Incredibly foolish but it was what was running through me.

I picked Julia up for speech therapy. She was absent, unavailable during part of speech. I asked Kara to describe what she saw. What she came up with was not all that different than what I had said. Julia just leaves, checks out, goes away. She is unavailable to conversation, directions. When she comes back, she is silly, sometimes affectionate. Sometimes it does seem that she knows what she is doing. Maybe triggering it. Could she do that? Where is she going?

She got nothing done in speech therapy. Damn.

We had an extra hour before therapists were to come to the house, so we headed for the park next to the zoo. She chose the park and headed for swings. She had fun -- swinging and climbing and running a bit. I saw a few women that I know from school. They have kids close enough to Julia's age for her to play with. And I like them. We have some committees that we all belong to, etc., etc. And I felt so different because of Julia's behavior. I was different because of Julia's behavior -- Julia not engaging the little girls playing with purses and talking about makeup. Julia hardly answering when the grownups ask her questions, and insisting on trying to get into the little kids' swings when she can't possibly fit.

And I felt sorry for myself because of Julia's differences. For those moments, for that time, I wanted her to be the normal child I had envisioned. I wanted normal very badly.

I carried this around for a few hours, and then I had the a-ha moment of just loving Julia. No matter what she is like and how she behaves. No matter that she is so very different from everyone else in the world. I am connected to her. I have wanted normal for her and wanted it for myself too, but not really. Actually, not really at all. Not ever.

25 April 2010

The why of pictures

The pictures in the last four posts were drawn by Julia since the beginning of the year. Most of them within the last two months. This is just a sample of what I have and I do not save everything. I am not quite sure what to do with what I have.

I was more concerned with recording the work when I started taking pictures but as I started really looking at the pictures, I realized how much time and energy I spend describing Julia in words, and how little of her art that I let speak for itself.

Julia has been drawing since October of Kindergarten -- about 2 and a half years. Before that, she used a pencil to make big arches across the page -- a scrawl. She hadn't used pencils or crayons in China. Julia took to play dough and clay before she started drawing, but these days, drawing has taken over.

Maybe I will try to post a few pictures and write what I know about them. Maybe I will post pictures every few months.

And a whole bunch of other animals . . . .

Mice and foxes. I don't know they just go together.

Rabbits, or what I think are rabbits

Cats, cats, cats