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The Bully & The Brat… And One Mama That Is Fighting Back.

As some know, my son has a lot of problems mentally and behaviorally (which stem from the mentally disabling aspects). And for YEARS he has been bullied. But only primarily by one particular boy.

Now another boy is in the mix. As is a girl as of late, and where this morning’s call to come down and intercede is rooted. Because my son completely shut down on his teacher and the student teacher (or whatever his area is).

So we got myself, the teacher, my son and the other person who was TRYING to handle things together and got the complete story. We (as in my son and I) talked about what he should have done (again), versus what he didn’t do. And what he wouldn’t let the adults do to rectify the situation.

Yes, my boy will be punished (at home) for how he mishandled all this and not cooperating with his authority figures, and for not coming to the phone to talk to me as requested, resulting in my having to go down there.

But the girl is also in trouble for starting crap and calling my kid names and making fun of him.

Hell, I’m so classy and I’m so awesome, I have the balls to not be ashamed of leaving the room and crying in front of the teacher. Again. I’m just sick of this BS. Add in embarrassment and the fact that once more, I felt like I failed him, and it’s a mess of reasons behind why I broke down.

And people are wondering WHY our youth are offing themselves?

Gee! Let’s take a look at how them bully kids are being raised in a home of intolerance and no teaching of respecting those that are different from themselves in terms of disability (of ANY nature). It’s not just the teen and pre-teen GLBT group.

Then, opportunity knocked on my imaginary door… Have (one of the few of them) bullys in room, take a chance. That’s how good I am. I don’t have to talk TO you, for you to know I am referring to you.

Let’s hope my conversation with the brat being present sinks in. It was dealing with the one boy that has picked on my son for YEARS in this school. And now, they are BOTH going to the same Middle School next year.

I even made certain the little demon heard about MY OWN problems with being made fun of as a kid.

I KNOW he listened because if I turned to glance at him, he turned his eyes from me like he wasn’t paying attention. And he now knows I will NOT tolerate it, am utterly sick of it, and this is DAMAGING my child.

Believe me, bullying today is on an entirely different level than it was in my days as a kid with physical differences. I would NOT want to be a kid in today’s society.

Lessons From A Grocery Checkout Line

I have a friend, if not more-so an acquaintance. We both belong to and participate actively in a group on FaceBook that caters to parents of Special Needs children from around our general area of living. Some things, our kids share, but mostly don’t, in the terms of having diagnoses. In the end though, we love our kids with a passion, and are more widely accepting of children that “act out” and of their parents than most people in the general consensus of society.

Yesterday, this dear lady, who’s a mother of three, with two of them being Special Needs, told the group of a great story. Of courage. Of self-preservation. And of compassion.

My husband works for the Kroger Food & Drug grocery store. I had also been employed with them for a few years, up until my youngest, who is now seven years old was born. And his (now transferred) Grocery Manager, and he have a common bond.

They both have Special Needs kids. We only have our son, really. But the Grocery Manager has twin boys. And they are BOTH (severely) Autistic, and one is non-verbal. Both, like my son, have behavior issues, as well. ADHD, too. Both of our families have come under scrutiny out in the community. Mainly because of the aforementioned behavior issues. We have dealt with the stares, the head shakes, the whispers. And yes, even with the unwanted “advice”.

But what this one mother and her children went through, really speaks of all of us in one way or another. And of our children. When I grow up, I want to be JUST like her, I think.

Here, in HER own words (with names left out to protect her privacy, and that of her family), is a recount of what had transpired at her local Kroger store.

“We were in Krogers this evening checking out on a unplanned but unfortunately necessary grocery run, a disturbing event for all of my boys because of their sensory issues. My oldest son was turning over each of the boxes of chewing gum one by one so that the labels were all facing the same way. My 8 year old was clicking and rocking, and my 5 year old was pushing meltdown because of his discomfort being around so many people. My 17 month old daughter was beginning to overheat in the store, because the heater was turned up so high to overcome the cold outside. As I went to try to cool her off a bit by unzipping her jacket she began to fuss because she was becoming uncomfortable.

A woman in line in front of us who was already checking out said to the cashier “I hate it when mothers don’t take the initiative to discipline their children… Its so sad to see someone have so many kids.” The cashier knows our family, and looked at her in a bit of shock.

She said “The boys are autistic, and they’re pretty amazing kids.” The woman shook her head and started to say something under her breath about what a waste, and my 9 year old Aspie son turned sharply and snapped,….

“**I am not a disorder, I am a person.** Just because I appear not to be listening to you does not mean that I cannot hear what you say and do not understand it.”

She looked at me and said “Well, aren’t you going to say something to him?!” I looked at my son, I looked at the woman, and then I looked back to him. I was so proud, it was the first time that I’ve ever heard him speak up for himself, and he certainly doesn’t speak his mind or feelings often.

I paused and looked at him and said “You’re absolutely right bug… you’re an amazing kid.” And then I looked at her and shook my head, smiling. I said to her “Yes, its such a waste when people don’t try to understand what someone else might be going through.” She huffed, paid her bill, and then left the store.

The cashier smiled at me and said “He’s having a good day today, huh?” For everything these kids have been through this week, it wasn’t just a good day… it was freaking amazing.”

WOW! What an amazing testimony. And to me, not only did the mother and the son stand up for themselves, but they also stood up for ALL of us. Parents and afflicted kids alike! They said outright what so many of us want to say, but can’t. Maybe out of fear of retaliation. Maybe out of utter embarrassment of the situation (though not due to OUR actions/reactions). But they had the courage to do it. And I HIGHLY commend them for it.

So, for those of you reading this, and don’t really understand “our world”, please take note. Do not EVER judge a person or a situation solely by what you are seeing, or even hearing. If a child is doing something quirky (like moving/situating a space bar at the grocery checkout counter) but is in NO way harming you, then leave the person alone. If they are mumbling to themselves, don’t stand there and stare. When you think that someone cannot hear you, that’s when they can hear you the most. When our children are acting out, don’t just auto-assume that it’s a “bad seed” with parents that are just not willing to “parent” our child.

It’s people like you, that when you are THAT mean spirited to be as the lady in the checkout, that we hope, wish and pray that you too will end up having a child or a grandchild JUST like ours, to show you the ways of OUR life. Sometimes, lessons are learned the hard way.

Our children never asked to be the way that they are. For some, their minds are their own personal prisons or hells. They can be locked up inside. With barely being able to speak, think straight or communicate their needs and desires.

We as their parents and caregivers, struggle EVERY single day to make life as “normal” as we can for our children. Sure, we have to do SOME things differently with interaction and behavior management. But we take it on as a labor of love. Unconditional love. We see what you REFUSE to see.

So, the next time you see a child in the grocery store being “strange”, know that they CAN hear you. They DO see you. And they indeed HAVE feelings that can and DO get hurt because of oggling eyes and opened mouths, that seem to go right along with CLOSED minds. And us as parents WILL find you to be the DISABLED one.

Special Needs Parent Monthly (#1)

Welcome to the kick off of a NEW blog series, where MONTHLY, I will feature a Special Needs Parent. If you are interested in being considered as a featured SN parent in a future posting, please email me at melmom2angels@yahoo.com.

First up is Robin. In her own words, she will tell of herself, her family, and her life with having a disabled child.

basic info….stay at home mom, married 16 years in Feb., I enjoy reading, photograghy and word games.

have 2 sons Derek 11 and Jacob 13..

life as a special needs parent well, I don’t sleep much lol. it’s a struggle to balance my time between my sons since Jacob needs so much of my time. Jacob was dxed at 2 years, he was a good baby, well a great baby…only cried when he was hungry. Everyone was jealous but in the back of my mind I was worried. He was To good! He didn’t regress, he just reached milestones late. He didn’t babble, point, or “play” like other kids his age. He started PT at 8 months, Ot and speech at 18 months and early intervention at 2.

He is in the 8th grade and I’m going to start home schooling next because he will be going into high school and I feel like he will benefit more from one on one and I can pay more attention to the areas that of important to Jacob. He LOVES music, football, water, and food. lol which is a challenge because he is on the gf/cf diet.

He’s a good dancer. He has severe IBS and when he is in pain he becomes very aggressive. He doesn’t know his own strength. He gives the best hugs in the world! He has a lot of sensory issues and likes deep pressure and massage.

He likes to be petted on his arms some times which gets us strange looks in public. lol Doesn’t bother me, I’m outspoken if people are rude I let them know about it.

Autism is just part of our family….you learn to adjust your life accordingly. Jacob is non verbal so I am his voice….and I have a big mouth (hehe)!

Spanking a Disabled Child vs Not Spanking & Punishment In General; SN vs NT Kids

I’m a spanking parent. I have spanked my son as needed through the years. Of course, he is of an age and height that I have been able to find other means of punishment (like taking toys/games/computer time away). But the youngest who is 7 years old, though a rare thing, still gets spanked IF the “punishment fits the crime”.

I have a friend on FaceBook who had been faced with a dilemma. Her child is three years old, disabled, and has yet to be diagnosed with Autism or any other mental delays. The other day at a family function, her husband had spanked their daughter for BITING, as well as hitting. And not a child, but another adult.

Her husband works a lot at his second shift job and only really sees the child on the weekends.

Mom isn’t much on spanking, but Dad is. And when the little girl bit and hit the adult, the Dad got a hold of his daughter and spanked her for her actions. Needless to say, Mom wasn’t pleased with how he handled the situation. She said it was more about the embarrassment of it happening in front of the family than anything else.

After hearing (or shall I say, reading) everything, I stated that the Mom can’t really be mad at him. If he isn’t able to be there due to working a lot, then he hasn’t had the time (or maybe even the energy) to be TAUGHT (by her) of what works best with their daughter. You cannot just “assume” he SHOULD know how to help handle her, when he isn’t there a lot of the time to learn by watching, listening or hands-on.

She needs to (calmly) approach him when they are BOTH free to get together, and talk with him and teach him what works best with your child. If she doesn’t take the time to voice to him what works/doesn’t work, then he won’t know the BEST options of how to punish/redirect/handle his child.

In time, she will learn the differences of when it’s her daughter just being a typical kid getting in to trouble, and between it REALLY being the disability showing through.

But even for as long as I have known the lowdown on my kid, I STILL have moments of wondering which way it is really swinging. In the end though, I try really, REALLY hard to NOT use the “he is disabled and has a lot of problems” excuse with him.

He is treated, talked to, and (most of the time) interacted with on the same level as his sisters. As in, he gets in to trouble just as much as they do.

I don’t let my kid use his disabilities as an excuse 100% of the time. If I do/did, then HE would think that he can get out of trouble ALL of the time.

To me, he is just as “normal” as his nutty sisters are. He is just more matter-of-fact and sensitive emotionally than the girls.

I sometimes get HIGHLY embarrassed due to my son’s actions, reactions and behaviors. No doubt. But even then, you cannot always “excuse” their behavior on their disabilities.

You have to learn and KEEP a balance between typical kid and disabled kid. Or else, they WILL grow up to think that they can (some literally) get away with murder.

And don’t EVER be embarrassed to defuse a situation (such as biting and hitting someone) in front of others. I have done it on many occasions and WON’T be afraid to do so in the future, if need be.

You just need to find that balance, and the key to successful behavior management where child’s concerned. Because they are unique individuals, and what works for me or any of the other parents, may not necessarily work for YOUR child, and you BOTH as their parents. There MUST be a middle ground that is firmly established.

Believe me when I say that I have had to (literally) peel my son off of one of his sisters as he bit them and used them for a punching bag. Seriously injuring the baby when she WAS a baby (bruises and a bonked head from being shoved off a toddler bed). Over NOTHING at all. Just got it in himself to start beating the holy hell out of her.

I don’t care if a person spanks or not. When it comes to hitting and biting, you MUST take care of the problem RIGHT THEN. Not later in the day. Be it if the child is one year old or 15 years old. Biting and hitting, especially an adult, or a child YOUNGER than the one doing the hitting/biting, is a huge “no-no” that has NO excuses.

In that instance, wrong is wrong. No matter the reason. No matter the mental capacity. No matter if the child is “normal” or “disabled”.

My philosophy is, if my “normal brained” girls are NOT allowed to behave in a certain manner (hitting, biting, stealing, cursing), then neither is my “mentally challenged” son.

How is honestly fair for me to excuse the actions of the one, and not of the two? That can and will build up resentment in his sisters against their brother, and against me if I was to excuse everything on the basis of his diagnoses.

Every single day it is indeed a struggle to find THAT balance between “normal childhood” behavior, and “disability-driven” behaviors. Some things though, should be no-brainer behaviors that no matter the mental capacity, should NEVER be tolerated or excused due to said disability.

And like a fellow group member had stated, not everything will work with everyone, nor will everyone believe that corporal punishment should be utilized. I say if used CORRECTLY and in the right situations, it CAN be an effective tool.

But not every offense deserves having a spanking. Just like not every offense deserves a month-long grounding.

I think a lot of my views stem from my own childhood. I WAS a disabled child. And my dad treated me as a normal kid. My mom on the other hand “babied” me. And she did it so much, to such an extent, that it really did tarnish my childhood, and made me resent her later on in life, for YEARS. Even after she died.

There is a time to use the “disability card” (my name for it), and when NOT to. Most times, it was just me being a kid. But to her, I did NO wrong, even when it was clear that I WAS in the wrong. So, I never got in trouble (if I did by her, it was VERY rare) unless my dad was there. And then, I got what he felt I deserved. Yes, that did include a spanking here and there.

The more I recall it all, and the more I think on it, I truly believe I got myself in to trouble, especially around my dad as much as I did, was because I THRIVED on it. I felt like a “normal” little kid.

NT Parents vs. SN Parents

I am a mother.

I am a mother to three children.

I am a mother to three kids, where one of them has “problems”.

I am a mother to three kids, where one of them has “problems”, but that I love all equally.

You say that there is NO way you could do what I do, put up with what I put up with, and defend what I have to defend.

You say we are a strong, but rare breed. But there are more parents like me than you most likely even know. Because we don’t look to be recognized or placed on a pedestal.

We do what we have to do, when we have to do it, as to ensure that our “special” kids are getting everything in life that they deserve.

That includes being as close to “normal” as we can get them. And to obtain the specialized services, that though are supposed to be rendered by Federally mandated Laws, are not always put in to place.

We rejoice at what most people take for granted. Especially when they are “late bloomers”. We cry from the frustration. Not just our own, but the frustrations that our children display.

We want what ALL (okay, MOST) parents want for their kids. A better and fulfilling life.

You and I aren’t THAT different in the world of Parenting. We, like our children, just do things a little bit different from the rest of you. And we see things (like first words, first steps and the other norms of growing up) a tad bit differently as well.

Other than that, I’m not much different from you. And yes, you CAN do what I do on a daily basis. Because when push comes to shove, when it comes to your child, you would do most ANYTHING and move every mountain and boulder to help your child achieve their very best potential.

Do I want to just throw my hands up and quit? YES! Sometimes, the fight to help your child achieve can really tire you emotionally and mentally. As can their daily struggles and fights of will. But in the end, no matter how much you want to just turn around and walk away, you CAN’T. You know for a fact that you have invested WAY too much time, energy, and most important, love in to helping your children succeed to the best of their ability.

So, the next time you think to yourself that you could “never do my job as a parent”, or think I must be a lot stronger than you, take a step back and think, and know that when it all comes down to that fine line in the sand, there is really no line at all.

If You Are A Parent Who is Being *Abused* By Your Kids…

First of all, know you aren’t alone with being physically ABUSED… yes, abused, by your child. I have been verbally, emotionally abused, assaulted and my life threatened. All by my child.

It had taken me a long time to accept the fact that I was being abused by my own child. When you are left with marks or scars because of your children’s actions, or you have things pulled out on you (like knives, hammers and scissors), and have your very LIFE IT’S SELF *threatened* and/or in jeopardy, that is constituted by law as ABUSE. Even if it’s by a minor child.

As for medications (no matter the reason for taking them), if you have stopped them, YES, you have to let the doctor know. Tell them exactly why you did it. They have to know for various reasons. That goes for ANY doctors that have taken charge of taking care of your child medically! They base what is being taken as to if they can use other meds for other reasons as to ensure that there isn’t any deadly mixings/cross medicatings.

If your child is getting so out of hand, no matter if just at home, both there and at school, or both of them AND within community settings (restaurants, the store, etc.), that behavior modifications (like a reward system and punishment system) are not working, then it MAY BE time to start thinking about ADD/ADHD (if they have it, too) medications and even Mood Stabilizers (like the Seroquel that B is on).

As for DENIAL that something is truly wrong with our kids, and the fact that they need more help than we can give on our own, we ALL go through it. Especially us moms of children such as ours. But also, you have to look at it from THEIR perspective, too.

Our kids do NOT want to be “bad” kids who are different in that view of them. All in all, they ARE *good* kids, but have brains that are hardwired completely different from their peers and from most other people in general.

Medications for the mentally unstable, for KIDS, has gotten SO many bad “reports”. Mainly from those that have NEVER even tried them, and are unwilling to try them for their children as a part of their overall therapy.

True, not every child NEEDS to be medicated. But, most of the time, the ones that NEED it, don’t get it, and the ones that DON’T need it, are the ones being “doped up”.

In the end, the ONLY ones that can determine for certain that your child needs medications that will help with their mental issues is you, the doctor in charge of your child’s care (Psychiatrist) and the child (more so their overall mental state).

Yes, I know that dealing with the agencies and doctors, and therapists CAN be a pain in the butt, in the end, it makes life SO much easier, when what SHOULD HAVE ALREADY been done IS being done.

Easier for them and their day-to-day life, and for US as their parents as well.

Schoolward Bound. Fifth Grade, Here He Comes!!

This past week we are about to leave, and the one that is coming upon us has been and will be fairly busy. It’s back to school time. And I think that ALL of us are ready. For the most part, anyways.

This week was filled with filling out paperwork, taking in paperwork to be filled out by Medical Professionals, a doctor appointment and school supply shopping.

Geez! Just thinking of what I just listed, I’m tired all over again! *hehe* (=

This coming week, it’s REGISTRATION time! And this means now, TWO different schools for three different kids. My oldest is moving on to Middle School.

B is in fifth grade this year. And thankfully, I was able to place him in with my oldest’s former homeroom teacher, who is the ONLY one of the three in their grade to be Special Education certified.

It also helps that she taught my HUSBAND when he was a kid at another school, for the third grade. And she started LAST school year to acclimate him by saying good morning to him, giving him his “morning hug” (their classrooms were next to one another at the time between the two grades). And she already has gotten an idea of what his needs will be with classroom placement and what will possibly work best to get the best ability out of his potential.

She runs a pretty tight ship. You do as expected, she is your BFF. You decide to make her life hell and not do as instructed, then your ass is grass. And he needs that kind of firm structure. And she is already on to his manipulations. BONUS!

Do I worry? Yep! But not as much as I have with the teachers of the past in regards to B. This lady is one of the best in her field. And one of the most patient and kind. But also one of the most strict and not able to be bamboozled, too.

I’ll more so worry NEXT year, then I will THIS year. Because there is a VERY good chance that B and his older sister will NOT be in the same Middle School, being she was accepted in to a school across town that takes those that are highly advanced/gifted. If she is able to remain there next school year (2012-2013), then he will be in our Zone School for Middle School all on his own.

Yes, he too is advanced in most areas of study. But he doesn’t have the work ethic and focus for a Gifted Program. Thanks to his emotional instability, lack of maturity, and his severe ADHD it takes him out of the running for advancement such as what his sister is in. And it hurts me. But at the same time, I can safely say that a setting such as that is clearly not for him.

Should I compare? No. But it is extremely hard to NOT see the difference versus the similarities.

You sometimes, I feel, HAVE TO compare the “odd one out” to the others because it forces you to see just how different the one with the problems truly is from most of society. It makes you step back and think a little more and be more compassionate, understanding and willing to have more patience. Not just with YOUR child with Silent Disabilities, but other children (and adults) with the same afflictions as well.

So, here is to (hopefully) smooth sailing for this school year. In just over a week, and then all three are off on another school-year adventure of learning and fun. But this year, it will be minus their big sister. And I think they will do just fine.