Welcome Back to School!
From the http://www.4ziggy.blogspot.com/ Family
We certainly hope that all the families are enjoying their first day of school.
-FreeShayla, Love Jones, and Ziggy
Love Jones and Ziggy off to their first day of school. This will be Love's first year. Kindergarten here we come! Ziggy is off to the Fourth Grade and he is really excited. He is wearing his brand new "silly bands" from Mommy's trip to Chicago- his are Dinosours. He loved them, (they aren't that big in the Bay Area- so he had never seen the colorful bands). Ms. Love Jones sports the Princess silly bands and one heck of a smile. Bringing him the most joy is the fact that his sister (more like his very own teddy bear) will be at his school and he will see her everyday at lunch time.)
Ziggy chose his own seat in class today, right up front by the teachers desk.
I stayed in the class all of four minutes he looked like he was ready to work! No tears this year. Hooray!
My day began running... running up the stairs and down the stairs. Running to the kitchen preparing 2 minute oatmeal... running around the kitchen like a nut when I couldn't find the sugar. Wherever the sugar monster is I am going to kick his butt. Okay, found that... ran back upstairs. Insisted on my son brushing his hair... and then running around, now like a chicken with my head cut off because I can't find any type of jacket or sweater for Ziggy and "Does Angelina have her lunch?" I stopped running as soon as I was rounding the corner to the children's school. Ziggy knowing me better than all the children say's, "Mommy is going to cry today Angelina..." it’s this look I get when I just can’t believe something as sweet as my youngest going to kindergarten is truly happening. RIGHT NOW!!!! Snap out of sappy mom mode and…. Run…this is time out of the car parked in the red zone, we are joining the rest of the parents and students moving on their way to class and meeting teachers for the first time. What Zig doesn't know is there is a rule I have sat for myself this year. No matter what emotion he shows this year. I must stay strong and firm. He hates new experiences; this includes food, places, and people. Our first day of school has usually been filled with tears, and too many hugs, and teachers who look like "What's wrong with him?" First day brings some mothers relief, especially stay at home mommy's like me. It's a collective sense of peace as they drop their children off. Yet, for me it has been usually the worst day of my year.
Kindergarten was followed by the principal having to grab him mid air before he ran into the street. He had decided to run after my car. First grade was awful because I had an opportunity to work just outside of my city, and the new city didn't take children that lived outside of their school district. He ended up having to wait it out in a very expensive day care, where he cried just about every day and tried his best to stay away from teachers and children alike. By second grade, the principal came to me and wanted to know why this child plays by himself. He was quite concerned; yet, this is all I had ever known of him. When someone else engaged him in play (usually an adult) then he would try. But, children just seemed, well, uninteresting. Third grade that's where the blog came in, let's just say a collective "Woo Saaaah" and know without a doubt that even when I try not to worry about the kid, I just do. Yet, some very new things happened this summer and my faith was at least the size of the notorious mustard seed. Therefore, I had a little more hope than I did in the previous years. Why? This summer was just a little different than the one's in the past.
Ziggy's eventful summer came complete with a family member on his father’s side approaching him, wanting to know how he felt about autism as it pertained to him. So, I pick him up from the visit and while I am crossing my kitchen floor trying to make it to the stairs he addresses me with "Mom what is au-t-i-sm" and requested for me to explain it in more detail. As of yet, all he thought was that some children are disabled in different ways. What he did understand was having different abilities... some call disabilities. He understood this more than most being wheelchair bound last school year. The other thing he asked was..." and what is selective hearing?" Another adult from "that side" of his tree said this. So, he just had question upon question about subjects I had no idea I would have to answer. Yet, He thought he had some problems when he got home, and I was wondering what kind of visit was that?
So, I began with "Some children are different..." For the record it didn't come out right and I liked his response better than my starting point. Ziggy responds, "but, aren't we all mom?" I answered a simple, “yes” with a smile. Trying to explain something like autism spectrum disorders without warning to the child you suspect as being under the umbrella is difficult to say the least. It is way harsher on the mother's mind then trying to explain where babies come from. As a matter of fact explaining where babies come from to an Aspie is not so bad. They lean toward being fairly matter of fact, and I used Google to break down a pictorial of the sperm and the egg. All was going well, until it all hit him and he yelled, "You had sex with my Daddy!" HAHAHAHAHAA! By George I think he's got it! Why? You may ask didn't I explain any of it to a child who is now nine years old. I had no reason to, he was undiagnosed for one. And, I wasn’t sure that I was going to use the word autism per se or focus on Aspergers itself. I had not explained how the assessment really goes down, or even that he would be assessed. I was in hopes that he just thought he was being asked some questions and being observed, but, maybe it just didn't stand out to a degree that the assessment would worry him. Actually when he came home I was full of worry that he would feel like I had known something was very wrong with him and just didn't share it with him. And, the face he made when he mentioned that the other adult said, "…Your mother is going to sign you up for autism..." I just knew somewhere inside he thought he was off to some class that just didn't sound right. I did explain that you can't sign anyone up for autism. I lightly touched on how one is born this way or possibly is injured (vaccines specifically). He seemed relieved. There was no way that I could back out now... so I just reminded him of how he told me that he wanted to help kids like Holly and Rodney Peete... his eyes lit up and the end. LOL! So, that's how it works. No explanation needed- all he knew was the kids they were around were no different than he was, so if they had aa-u-tism then he would be fine. And, The Peete's "are doing nice stuff for kids that need it" so if they are helping with autism, it just couldn't be a horrible. Truthfully, I had purchased a book for this day, and I thought it would be of assistance if he ran into any trouble at school. I wasn’t sure when I would have to share it. But, the author writes directly for children ages 7 to 12 years old about Aspergers. The book is named Can I tell you about Asperger Syndrome? A guide for friends and family written by Jude Welton. When the book was described by Elizabeth Newson, from Early Years Diagnostic Centre she wrote, ‘Jude Welton gives the young child with Apserger’s the power of his own voice in explaining himself to his friends. Her calm and deceptively simple approach is complemented by Jane Telford’s reassuringly everyday pictures. Parents have needed this book for a very long time… It will also be especially helpful to primary schools.’ To the parents that assume their children have aspergers and just don’t know how to approach the subject… the picture are simple and fantastic. This takes allot of talking out of “the talk”. The book is short enough to be a comic book. Because of Ziggy’s age I left out certain things and just showed him sections that way heavily on him year after year. He loved the page where they addressed: playing with others, loud noises, unexpected change, tones of voice… in the end of the book the author even gives the child a moment to ask the question about Aspergers and “is it an illness…” which basically helped me get to the bottom of what Ziggy was worried about when he came home. The explanations are simply perfect. I was able to insert that I am still unsure if aspergers is what he has. I have never spoken of his diagnoses of anxiety disorder, I just make sure to do the very best to listen to him and watch out for the places and things that make the anxiety rise. I just saw the book and thought he may like it. He really did. He had never seen a boy act like him on the playground, or have the same reactions to loud noise, or change. He had believed that he was “weird” like the other children had said. And, I will tell you what even though the family member that mentioned autism opened a can of worms I wasn’t quite sure what to do with. It ended up being something very positive and adding so much more self-esteem to Zig. I suppose we all want to know there is someone else like us on earth. (I have always found it interesting that he is diagnoses with an anxiety disorder and most children with Aspergers are diagnosed with Aspergers and then anxiety disorder is a secondary of having Aspergers. We will see how it all turns out.)
Truth is: I had mentioned just before he returned home that I was beginning to be worried about having him assessed. What if some of the naysayers were right and I was going to label him. What if it just changes our life for the worse? How will he be treated? Will this affect him adversely at all? I tried to remind myself that I want to know so that I could go on raising him the best that I could. And, that if there was something about his mind and body that I needed to know to keep him healthy, what is the difference between this and his asthma? Would I ignore his breathing? Why would I ignore the fact that he lacks the skills to do well in social environments? And, isn't that what school is? Why would I want him to chronically feel like he is going to burst when he tries to read all of the other children’s body languages? And, is Aspergers the worst thing a parent can be told? By far the answer is NO. Right when I was wavering three things happened, he was addressed about autism and I had to explain it. Next, I took Ziggy to play basketball soon after our conversation about autism. Let me preface this one by stating his father put him in basketball camp for a week during his visit. He calls me at one point ecstatic that he could do a lay up. I am thrilled thinking he is having the time of his life. Later to find out there was a bully at basketball camp and it just made the whole thing suck to him. Bullies do seem to prey on the kid (actually most aspies are bullied due to their social anxieties and need to withdraw). So that was not the surprise. Regards, I just kept telling him how proud I was of him, because, I had never experienced anything like a sports camp with him. And, even if he didn't give the experience a 10, I gave his effort a 10. There I was walking my newly nine year old son to the neighborhood park, while he bounced the basketball all the way. Mistake #1 I told him I would play with him. But, I am forgetting all of who he is. I am thinking "he just played with kids at a camp, he can play with other kids on the court now..." I didn't ask him, but, when I got to the court I noticed other kids he could play with. Okay, all aspie parents are already shaking their heads. I did it, I forgot that his mind was set on one thing, my mom is going to play b-ball with me and I turned the tables. I really wasn't trying to set the kid up; I just thought that we were at that stage in the game. So, we get over there and I realize a few boys are eyeing him like they really wanted to play with him, so there I go inviting them over. Zig makes a face but, is still engaged at this time. A nice older kid comes over and a few other boys Ziggy's age look interested in joining them. So, I tell him that I forgot something and step out of the scene for the moment it would take you to flip the channel. This is the park he goes to all the time. This is not a foreign place, and he asks to go here without me constantly. So, in the blink of an eye I have my sewing goodies and a blanket ready to sit in the grass and watch my Shaq play b-ball for the first time. Unfortunately, what I find is my son facing away from the court sitting on his skate board with his head down crying his eyes out. What the heck is happening? I ask him something close to that... "Did someone hurt you?" He said, "No." Well, what in the world? At this point I have forgotten about my hunch that he has aspergers at all. I just don't understand. By now the kids on court are evacuating the premises and he doesn't care. He explains that it just “feels funny” when he has to play with new kids-any kids. He just feels "funny inside"... his words for AWFUL! So, now I am inquiring about how did he do this while out of town. His answer, a very loud: "I HELD IT IN!” “You held it in for that many days?, I asked completely exasperated.” Ziggy's reply, "YES!" (In my defense I had only received emails saying he was having a positive experience until he blew up at the park I had not heard about the negative from that side of the family.) Of course, I go into an onslaught of 'what in the worlds'. I found later that he was being bullied, and now he really felt just like he does all the time but was too nervous to let it out while with his other family members. I feel frustrated as soon as he says that he forces himself to hold in all of his fears and worries while with other family members that he is getting to know on his father’s side. Out of fear that they may think he is weird. And, he was able to sit and have a 101 about not crying, and how it wouldn’t help. And, how he attempted to keep hold the tears in. Oh, you are thinking I was tempered at his father correct? No, I was upset that I don't ever get to see this power of holding it all in. I don’t fuss… I was just perplexed. (It doesn’t dawn on me until way later that sometimes anyone can hold in emotion if they don’t feel like the environment they are in will accept them for who they really are. As I say I only realize this later.) I take a moment and walk away by myself not far from him and call my brother. I am speaking at the speed of light. I thought he was just going to hear my cries and frustration and he pauses only to say. "Shay, you know Bubba!" (his nickname for the fat Ziggy he met in the birthing room) "You write about how much you know that he has this issue. The whole family knows he has issues with social situations, why are you forcing him..." I only got one "But, I..." he continued..."you need to stop forcing him to be like all the other boys... nothing is wrong with him being different. You can't force him to be anything but who he is... this is who he is..." Now, I am crying... "But, he went to basketball camp he even did a lay-up and I thought...." "Eh, man... you are gauging one week against his nine years?" Then he read off all the asd issues that have been present all Ziggy's life... reminded me of what a good job I have done. And, put a little hope on top letting me know even with asd like responses there is still moments of age progression, a maturation that will biologically help Zig move past this. But, the key is no force. Then he request to speak to him. I leave the grassy area I am standing in to go back to him, making sure that I feel and look regrouped. Uncle C. has the most understanding voice on God's green earth when Ziggy is going through something. As a matter of fact, he is our go to guy for reasonable man to man talks that don't make him feel bad. Ziggy just unloads all the tears and all of the fears. He felt like he had to just hold it in... On his trip and just what he feels like overall. Here I am oblivious and thinking I am doing something good taking him to the b-ball court. I can't speak for his father, but, he is doing what father's do. Especially if the father doesn't feel like there is any diagnoses that their son should be waiting for. They take them around other boys, and try to “learn them” a bit. That is no different than any other father on earth. Thank the good Lord for having an uncle, overall it helped having a voice of reason to hear both of us crying on the phone and make us feel so much better. I immediately apologized to Ziggy letting him know that I only had emails to go by and had no idea how he was feeling inside. I never saw the layup that day. But, I did open my eyes to what others would call normal and abnormal and any nine year old with a ball not far from their house crying their eyes out due to the nerves of trying to do something as simple as play. Abnormal. One other thing that stayed with me that uncle said, "This is play...that's it. What are ya'll gonna keep doing force the boy to have fun?" Then he laughed at his own joke. But, to tell you the truth he makes a great point. And, it made me reflect on myself as a child. I loved being alone as a child. I hated having to go through the formalities of trying to get to know all those personalities when I could be playing with my dolls or writing for hours happily without anyone pulling my pigtails. Maybe this is his normal.
The third sign that I had that told me to still pursue a diagnosis or at least keep studying about asd's came exactly a week and a half before school started. The conversation went a little like this: I say something to the affect: "Hey Zig are you excited about being a fourth grader this year?" He say's, "What, I am going to fourth grade?" I pause, because I need to see his face for this one. I turn and say, "Yes, baby what did you think?" He said, "That I was going back to third grade." Now his eyebrows are in their worried stance. I say, "Why did you think that?" "Because I thought this was just break and that you go back after break to your grade." This is not a joke. He is dead serious. "What did you think your teacher meant when she said, you’re going to fourth grade last year?" I inquired. His answer, "Everybody at my dad's house kept saying that too. Are you excited to be going to the fourth grade? And, I would say yeah! But, I thought that they meant that next year... they kept saying you’re going to fourth grade next year..." Now, I am giving the face my friends puppy gives him. I feel like a bad parent for not explaining this to my son. But, at the same time I am wondering why he didn't question what the teacher and maybe even his peers were saying the last few days of school. It bothered me deeply. But, was really eye-opening. And, I started to think like a parent that has read a few books: If he comprehends speech in literal terms. Then to ask him, "Are you going to fourth grade next year? Or to proclaim:"Good job dude! You’re going to fourth grade next year." He dissected and processed those words as this is 2010 next year is 2011. Therefore, I am not going to fourth grade next year. His next year meaning 2011. It actually made sense when I looked at it like that. I had to be the one to break it to the little guy, and he was filled with fear. He felt like the big kids were in fourth grade. LOL! Knowing he towers over most. The anxiety was written all over his face, starting a new year, new teacher, and possibly new students. New+Aspie+Anxiety. Regards, could you imagine if I had just dropped him off for school and the panic that would have inevitably ensued.
So, how did he do this morning? First day of school and I have shown my old track skills getting him there in one piece? Wonderful. He had a bit of panic last night, and I could hear him telling his father on the phone, that he had no idea that he was to go to fourth grade. His father’s pause was evident. LOL! It still surprises me sometimes and dad is just now getting into the loop of what makes Ziggy tick. Last night I sent him to bed with a movie... he kept asking his sister "Will you wear the same color shoes as me so we can match?" Ms. Independent said, "No, then we'd be twins". He was crushed but, I thought it was good to have one independent one. Maybe she can show him how cool that can be. Right before he went to sleep he was hanging his head near the ladder of his bunk bed and he looks very reflective. He quietly states: "I think I am going to leave Bubba home this year..." I make no facial expression as a matter of fact I turn my back to him and pretend to be picking something up and thank the LAWD ALMIGHTY. Your child may have given up their security blanket when they were five. But, Bubba the doll has been with us since six months old. He states, "I think kids look in your back pack and take stuff in fourth grade..." Regardless, of what reason Bubba is going to be babysat by me while Ziggy is in school, I am happy for any progress. He then whispered, "Well at least I'm going to try to leave him home..." I give him a kiss and say, Okay. Reverse psychology, that never works on him, but, I am hoping the lack of showing any response to this evolution will make him feel like it's a good idea- no input. I fell asleep waiting for them to stop giggling- (I'm 4 months pregnant and sleeping comes easy now...) to be awaken at around 10:30 with "Momma... Mom... Mom... I had a bad dream about going to school..." So, I wake and right when I was thinking "Oh no, please don't start the year like this..." I tell him, "Dad always say's that I should pray when I have bad dreams..." He says, "Does it work?" I answer, "Every time." He gives me a quiet "okay." And, I hear his sleeping breath come soon.
We awake as I said, "running" with Erykah Badu singing Window Seat at the top of her lungs and mommy saying, "Whew Hew Leeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeets Goooooooooooooooooo!" Ziggy was up first, his nerves were under control and he wants to take on the day. He says, "This year I think I want you to drop me off." I told him that that was my intention to drop him off at the class. I almost stopped sipping my morning coffee when he says matter of factly..."No, mom at school..." This is fierce independence compared to the past few years of school. I don't try to reflect on past, I am simply moving forward. No Bubba, and drop him off at school... well okay. So, I get there, I take too many pictures, enough to appear like I just met these children and haven’t been raising them for the last five years. So, what happened when I got to school Love's first day of kindergarten and his first day in fourth? Ziggy went to class as he said, making sure to let me know, "I don't think I am going to cry this year... this is a new year..." And, even cuter in the car he says: "I am going to fourth grade... this is an accomplishment." Yes, it is. We did have the one moment where he took a run for us... but, after seeing me he was assured and really all is well that ends well. Or in this case all is well that begins well. Wish us luck.
@FreeShayla on Twitter
p.s. This is the 2nd morning. Ziggy’s little sister Love decided to wear her blue shoes and they matched. Wow. You should have seen his face. LOL! Happy Camper. Love flips out of bed like Tigger because she had no idea that this kindergarten circus was everyday. Smiles all around anyone? Bounced all the way there and sang us a little ditty when we left her at the class. No jacket because she liked her new polo dress with knee socks. Ziggy on the other hand showed some of his fears… asking if I would stand in line with him. Asking if he could talk to me “over there”… anything to get away from all the clamoring children. I told him no, it’s always best to leave him in the social situation and teach him to adapt. But, he could tell me whatever he wanted quietly, he whispers, “mommy all the bad kids are in my class.” Duly noted dear sir… mommy knows. I had eyed that the day before. And, all the children know me from last year- and I know them. Let’s see how this turns out. (By the way his definition of bad, means you do not follow the rules. Something foreign to him. This includes talking when the teacher is talking, chewing gum, hassling other students, etc. And, sometimes it just means being a kid.)