Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Mr. Asperger

I said to my kids after we read Mr.Men's book..

Me: Ah.. I have a Mr.Naughty and Mr. Crazy!

Jayden: Who is naughty and who is crazy?

Me: Justin is Mr.Naughty and you are Mr.Crazy. Cos you like to spin :)

Jayden: Nolah. I am Mr.Asperger! *proud*

You see, he used to have low self esteem after knowing that he is an Aspie and his behaviour changed from bad to worst. So I smsed the therapist and told her about the issue. So for the next class, the therapist drew some stickman on wheelchair, with one leg, with sunglasses, fat. skinny and there was one perfect stickman right in the middle. My son asked her "what's wrong with him?" And she said "he? he looks perfect right? But he has Asperger. Just like you. You cannot see it because you look like anyone else but just that you behave and think differently from other people. He then asked her what are the characteristics of an Aspie and she listed them out.

And she wrote there are 3 types of Aspies
1. Don't know that they are Aspie
2. Know but don't care that they are Aspie
3. Know and want to change

Without a doubt he chose no.3 and he asked the teacher to tell him how to change. From then, he changed. And he is very proud to be an Aspie. Cos to him, Aspie makes him more clever than other people and best is, he has a licence to spin and ask questions many many times and you cannot blame him. :P

I used to be sad about my son being an Aspie. One day I am okay, one day I am stressed. It makes me wanna go mental. But after that day, I thought to myself if my son can accept that he is an Aspie, why can't I? If He wanna change, I'll help him as long as he wants me to.

Note to new parents dealing with the same issue:
Recognising is important.
Accepting is also important.
Because as long as you do not accept, you will be lost and will eventually be depressed. Sad is an inevitable thing once you know, and self pity is next. The most important thing is , Accept and move on. Find solution or seek help to help them so that they can have a brighter future. With patience and love, nothing is impossible. :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Asperger: Why Can't I Look You In The Eyes

"Jayden! Look at the camera!"

That's the usual sentence that I will say when I'm taking his picture. Everyone would be already looking at the camera and there he is, facing the camera but his eyeballs are looking away.

Back in 2011: And sometimes he gets upset and just totally wont cooperate at all

I use to wonder why is  he doing it, is he doing it to piss me off or what!?

Then when I read John Elder Robisons "look me in the eyes" then it all make sense. Like many moms of aspie that I spoke to, all said the same thing. We noticed something is different with our kids since young, and we began to look for answers. He fit into some traits of autism, but not all. We ask paed, and their  usual reply  "no problem lah. Every kid is different." And we end up having so many question marks in our head "why? Why? Why!!".

When I read the book and learnt more about Asperger then only my question marks got the answers and finally I'm free from "life with question marks in my head".The reason for them not looking into yr eyes is simply because not that they don't know that you are there (for some serious autism, yes they don't know u're there) but for most aspies, it's just simply because they felt very uneasy looking into your eyes and they feel intimidated. Because they cannot read facial expression, as in they can't tell if you are angry or happy or simply being sarcastic, they dont know what to say, what is right reaction to give you and most of the time, they end up pissing ppl off. Most aspie appear to be "living in own world" because either they are too into what they are doing, or they just felt more comfy not looking into your eyes.

And if you don't know about that, you might think that he is can't listen or just being plain rude. So the parents usually get angry and started to shout. Like Dr. Subash of UMMC said "you think they can hear better when you shout? Try and whisper "wanna eat ice cream?" and see if they can hear you from far. It doesn't mean that if you shout, the words will go into the brain faster or deeper you know? It's how you say it, not what you say". I guess this is for everyone to ponder and not only for aspie moms.

Since everyone is different (yes, even aspies are different among themselves) you need to try different method of approach, learn how to read their body language and slowly teach them, how to read other ppl's mind and body language. For me, I uses Microsoft words to "talk" to him when I am at home or my iphone's notepad when we're out. I'd type and he would answer me. Since JD knows how to read even before he can string words, I know he is stronger in visual learning. When he reads, he understand more than when he listen. So I need to write and add in expressions like *sob* or *laugh* or even smiley faces :D :) :( and then reinforce again by reading it out and showing him the expression so that he will learn from there.

Tiring eh? Just to communicate one thing and need to do so much? Not all the time though, only first time for something new or when he is having a badmeltdown. When an aspie kid is having a bad meltdown, everything shuts down. Unlike other kids where you can scold or coax, aspie need to let it out cos other than cry/angry they don't know how else to express themselves.

How do you solve this "not looking into the eyes" problem? Get him to look at the forehead or train him by looking straight to his face and ask him to follow yr eyeball and make it into a Game "follow my eyeballs game". And for the camera issue , I realize he has a tough time cos he is confused where to look. "Look at the camera? Then you are talking behind the camera. Look at you? Look at the people behind you? Who? Why?" so we solved the problem by using the Auto Timer. There is no one to confuse him, there is only one and only thing to focus at and that's the camera. And after a long time, he began to understand that he need to look at the camera itself and finally now we can have perfect family pictures :)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Harvesting Japanese cucumber

Remember my update on my japanese cucumber plant back on 29th December 2012?

My japanese cucumber back then in 29 December 2012.

Suddenly it started to grow and flower so much. When the flowers appear, especially when the female flowers appear, its time to get busy.

Usually helpful insects will help to pollinate the male and female flowers. But in my case, my garden is pretty new so there is not much flower to attract the right helpful insects to help pollinate the cucumber. So what you need to do is, hand pollinate them. There are 2 ways to do it. As soon as you see a female flower ( a flower with tiny cucumber at the back), you need to watch out for the flower to bloom so you can hand pollinate them.

Find a male flower. Male flowers only have flower and no baby cucumbers at the back.

Remove the petal and leave only the middle part of the flower.

And you just flick the middle part of the flower into the female flower. Make sure that the middle part of the flower touches each other.

Or you may use a brush to brush the middle part of the male flower.
This is a female flower. And after you brushed the male, you need to quickly brush the female flower to  pollinate them. And you need to do this a few times (few days) as long as the flower blooms. So how do you know if its successful or not?

See that the cucumber is dying? It's a sign of failed hand pollinated jap cucumber. 

And this is how a successful hand pollinated jap cucumber looks like.

this was in 3 days time (left : 12/1/2012, and right 15/1/2013) I covered the jap cucumber with netting that I got from my grocery shopping cos I don't wanna let the cucumber beetle to destroy my precious cucumber. How do they look like?

Like this. And one of them, can cause ALOT of harm. No joke.
There is no pesticide to kill them except your hands. Squash them as you see otherwise you can kiss your cucumber and squash goodbye.

And this was today, 4 days after the pic (15/1/2012)
Check it out!

And this is me with my first ever Japanese cucumber grown in my house.

I showed the above pic to my JD who was upstairs at that time and he said "WOW!!!" and quickly ran down to see it with his own eyes. I said "do you wanna help me harvest it?  let me get a scissors" And he ran back into the house and came back with his own scissors (with his name on it). It's a joy seeing him getting so excited to help me harvest this jap cucumber. Gardening is not only my source of therapy, but its also a teaching ground for me, where I share with my kids on how to grow things, what to do and what not to do. Not sure if any of my teaching goes into their system but at least they know that we can grow food although we stay in a city with limited space and I'm no expert in gardening.
Nothing is impossible :)

So here's my 2nd harvesting video. Don't curse me cos I accidentally took it sideways and distorted the whole video. *lol* I'll learn from my mistake!  Well at least the first 2 pics and last 3 pics are fine :P

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Asperger: Scared of changes

Today, instead of me sending him to sch, hub came along cos he wanted to go see dr after sending JD to school. And because the traffic was bad, I decided to send him in via another gate. He became very unhappy and asked me to follow him into school. The guard and teacher on duty said "no more parents allowed from today onwards". Although I have a special pass to go in with him, I want him to go in himself and get used to the changes. He ran out and requested for me to go back to the usual gate and send him off there. So we walked to the usual gate and sent him off. I also explained that dadi was around not because he is not working but it's because he was sick and needed to go see dr. He began to settle down and slowly walked in. (although he did try and peek a few times :) )

Anyway, One thing that Aspies fear the most is change. Aspie are usually confortable with routine and same things. For example they are the happiest when things stay the same for the longest time. Some ppl call it loyal, and some ppl call it over compulsive disorder. For aspie, he (i use the term he because out of 10 aspies, 9 are usually guys) he just like it that way. Take for example my son. He used to order "Ice Cream Soda, with blue cup and blue straw". And when ppl do not have blue straw, oh no. Meltdown and refused to drink it. Some ppl who doesnt know about his problem will say that he is just a spoilt brat. Some wear the same pattern of shirt, some wear the same colour of shirt, some likes to eat certain food and they can eat it everyday and not feel bored with the food. As long as there is no changes, it is good.The true challenge comes when they are older. For example Aspies are very good with repetitive task. You can ask them to sit in front of the computer and do the same thing for hours and hours. Because of their social impairment, they usually do not go around and gossip or spend alot of time in the pantry. They, just sit at thier desk and work. That is why big corporations love them. Cos they are paid the same but work more than any other people and not forgetting the fact that they are usually very clever (most of them). But what happens when they are transferred to another department or they get fired for some reasons. They usually will be lost, and depressed. Because they cannot do what they do everyday anymore.Going for interviews might be a challenge. I know many ppl said that"Don't worry! Aspies are geniuses! Look at Albert Einstein! Look At who who and who!" yes, I agree. Those were the "told" stories. But I have read also real life Aspies telling us the experience of getting a job. How they get too nervous during interview and they screw the interview up. Some work in McD altho they have papers in thier hands. Why? Because they are too nervous to look at people in the eyes and answer correctly to the question ( aspie usually tell only the things they are interested with and not what you ask). And usually when they faced with changes, they break down and shuts down and cant function at all. 

Although I just found out about JD's case about 9 months ago, I have always known that he is scared of changes. I didn't know there was a term for it. So I have been trying to break the routine :
  1. Asking for certain colour (eg blue cup, blue straw). Now he is okay with any colour of cups and plates.
  2. Asking for certain flavour (eg ONLY strawberry and nothing else although he is alright with other flavours) and he is okay with any flavour now but still prefer strawberry but I tell him "i know you like strawberry. So you can have ONE scoop of strawberry and then choose other flavours okay? Other people might wanna try strawberry too )
  3. wearing only Blue shirt (last time) and red shirt now. I introduced other colours and he is okay with it now.
  4. break his obsession with thomas, Finn mcmissle, Mario and now lego. Let him know that he have so many other to choose from
  5. flexible with class changes ( he is very particular about his tuition time and days and even therapies. So what I can do is, when the teachers sms me about the changes, i let him read and answer them in my iphone. let him decide what time is suitable)
  6. Eating lunch and dinner- rice with soup. Must have soup otherwise cannot eat rice. So now he can have rice meal without soup.7. Cannot eat fried rice, because he will choke. So I did the nasi pattaya and drew a smiley face on it. and he can accept fried rice now.
7. being in new places. we travel alot, so that he accept new places. But we have a problem leaving the place each time cos he will say " But I LOVE KRABI! I want to stay in KRABI forever!" And he will nag and nag till we reach home and will continue to nag for few days. So before we take off, we must first tell him that we will only go for a number of days and we must come home so that we can earn more money and go to another nicer place next time. Still some issues with this, but he is getting better.

8. not giving him the same food everyday so that he is flexible with any food, anytime. I rotate his food daily so that he knows food can change and its good to try new food everyday instead of hotdog bread with soya bean everyday.Like today I gave him a simple bento with sausages, cherry tomatoes (his fav) and also a persimmon.

All these took me a long, long time. And its not easy. Always never been easy especially when there are other people around who doesnt understand why I am doing certain things. Well, what I can is, FOCUS and IGNORE. As for now, what I am hoping is for him to accept is the new schooling culture, his teachers and also the time of school. *fingers crossed*

Is she your step mother?

while on our way back from sch on friday...

Me: nah... tomorrow you're going to robotic class you know. You must listen to your teacher okay? Let her finish talking, then only you ask question. okay?
JD: mami, did you go to robotic class last time?
Me: nope.
JD: why?
Me: Cos pohpoh won't let me join anything. She said its expensive. Any classes also cannot join. Like i like to dance, she don't allow me to go ballet, I like art she don't allow me to go art class..what also cannot join..
JD: is......she.. your step mother?
Me: ah???? Nolah. She is my real mother.
JD: Then....why she don't let you do anything at all?
Me: hehe cos.. last time poh poh is busy working and she think there is no need to join any classes lor. But now, I have you and titi, I will see what class you all like to attend, then if its not too expensive, then I let you go lor. But then you cannot say go one day and then tomorrow don't wanna go cos then you will waste my money, you understand?
JD: yes.

And he happily went for his first robotic class last sat. I just hope that he will excel in this :)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Of fingernails and housework

While cutting Justin's toenails..

JD: mami.. *looking at my fingernails* why is teacher lee's fingernail so long?
Me: oh.. cos she wanna look pretty. And of course no need to do housework lor.
JT: hey.. that's no good you know?
Me: what is no good?
JT: long fingernails la.
Me: why?
JT: cos cannot do housework. You know mami. You are pretty....when you mop the floor.
JT: yeah, very pretty when you are mopping house.
Me: hahahhaha thank you ah.......(thinking wah pandai ah this fler angkat my feet so I need to do more housework)
JD: mami, I will help you to do housework wan.
JT: me too! Me too! but..................only when I'm NOT tired.
JT: yeah :P

What's in my head today.

Over the weekend, a mum from Justin's new kindy thanked me because I spoke to her on the first day of school and enlightened her about Asperger. Her son had been to many specialist and hospitals for diagnosis and no one gave a clear answer. I told her the symptoms of an aspie and also asked about her family background and so on (just like what my dr asked us) and I was pretty sure that her son is an Aspie. Because each and every aspie has very different characters and behaviours, I have recommended her to see the child psychologist. Which she did over the weekend and confirmed her son is one. The condition of her son has caused her marriage to fail, alot of arguments and stress in the house. I told her things happen for a reason, you just need to understand that you can't rewind and go back in time. You gotto look at the future and stay focus. Now, you have to get it confirm. Stop living in a "Yes? No? Sure or not? Nolah!" life. Once you know, find a solution, stay focus and help him. That's all we can do. It's not an easy journey, but what you do today will affect your son's future. Early intervention is the most important thing now.

p/s: Actually it was Justin's teacher, who is also the boy's ex teacher that told the mom about me (because I shared with all the teachers about JD condition). The teacher has been telling the mum for a very long time about this and asked her to check it out. She was pissed and was in denial and even asked the teacher to adopt her son. Really need to thank the teacher for noticing it and introducing us both. Therefore I said, teachers knowledge towards all these are very important, because they are the first educators and since they have seen many kids, they will know the difference when they see a special child. Otherwise they will just label the kids "Rude, Naughty and stupid".

Thursday, January 10, 2013

My First Garden Video

One way I manage to release my stress is via gardening. When its night time, i just go to my garden and just water my plants and sit in the my garden and do absolutely nothing. My day start at 7am and it goes on and on until it's 11pm. Sometimes I am at my garden at 11pm till past midnight.

My radish looks abit different to me so I wonder is it time to harvest? It started to turn abit brownish and greenish. So I asked around and yeah, my radish is too old and my friends in Green Nook advised me to harvest it ASAP.
So here was my first ever video harvesting something from my garden.
WARNING: DO NOT LAUGH SO LOUD. You will know what I mean later.

Then JD woke up and I thought what better way for him to learn than to let him harvest something from my garden.

 And these are my radishes.
Both have knots on their body. I think I injured my radishes cos it was raining quite badly and i was transferring the radish from the ground to the pot then to the ground again. And the middle of the radish  has black dots in it. So both the radishes was no good. But nevermind, I can always plant again :)

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Asperger And Us

Backdated post from my FB. ( I malas wanna create another version for my blog)

Year 2012 was a dark year for us, because that's when we got to know that JD has Asperger. We're lost, sad, angry and depressed when we found out. JD had low self esteem, sad and confused when he found out, and I was very emotionally and physically drained from all the crying, reading and chauffeuring him to classes and therapies. 2013 marked our most saddening incident where JD was discriminated in sch by his teacher and friends. And this year would also be the year that I stand out and share and educate people who have no idea what disorder is about.

From my observation, many people (be it teacher, parents or non parents) also likes to judge ppl esp kids by saying that they are hyper and naughty. Many people including my own friends think that this disorder is just like flu, leave it or eat medicine-it will heal kind. My friend told me "its not their fault, they are not aware of this problem. No one to educate them". True and Fair enough. No one educate me about Autism even before my son was diagnosed, but I took time to read and learn. I can only say it depends on the person itself, whether they wanna learn more things or just simply know nothing and judge ppl as if they themselves are so damn perfect. I have seen how ppl like to judge and pass remarks about me and my son, but I don't blame them. Instead I pity them for their lack of knowledge and wish that Karma doesn't get them, THAT bad if you know what i mean.

Sadly but true, I know many people do not wanna know more because to them, they have "normal" kids, why bother about the things that WON'T HAPPEN to them? I can tell you, Asperger is the last and hardest disorder to be diagnosed and it CAN happen to any kids, because they have normal development and growth just like any other kids out there. Even if you have a perfect kid, someone else around you might have it and it will help you to understand them more. And if you deny or do not know it, it will only cause harm to them. Because if you do not help them when they are young, it will cause a lot of harm to them and to other people around them when they are older. That time, even if you have loads of money and time to spare, it is too late.

I didn't share this earlier NOT because I am afraid that people would look down on me or my son. It's because I was shunned by some friends when I told them and the remarks I received made me even more hurt. Also, I don't think its my duty to educate ppl and also I don't want ppl to misunderstand that I am using my son's problem to get "PITY LIKES" or "GET ATTENTION". But after some thoughts, I think things happen for a reason. Perhaps god wants me to use my network (be it in FB or blogging) to share this and educate ppl.

So I am warning you in advance that from today onwards, I will be flooding your wall with loads of information and happening. Please hide me from your wall if you do not want to know more, cos the last thing I wanna do is to offend anyone here.