Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

WTF Is Going On With Tizzy?

Hi everyone! I suppose you were wondering what is going on with me these days? You are probably just sitting around thinking, "What is Angel up to lately?" The answer is, a whole lot, yet somehow not much.

Things on the Tizzy front are going, well, not so good. I've been having a really hard time keeping him safe at school lately. He has started running out of the school. Actually he started running out of the building a while ago. I would just try to walk behind him and act nonchalant, and usually if I did that then he'd also walk, and I could keep him in my sight until somehow he got tired of walking and went in. The other thing is, I would take him on walks around the school grounds with me there with him, thinking that if he could actually get permission when he wanted to go outside, he wouldn't have the need to dart out the door so much. I even tried to bring some of our learning outside, writing alphabet letters with chalk on the side of the building for him to squirt with water, or writing sight words on paper plates for him to use as Frisbees. And it worked for a while.

But lately he's been running out just because he knows it is unsafe and will get a reaction from me and other staff. The big conundrum is that, if you chase after him and try to physically catch him, it becomes a power struggle, and he is actually fast enough to win it. But if he starts running, and I keep walking, then he easily gets out of my sight and I have no idea where he is. He runs in and out of the building like a little mouse scurrying around a maze looking for cheese! On the other hand, if I do run after him, he just runs faster, and I cannot physically run for that long. I have never been a runner. And Tizzy has a lot more energy than I do!

Twice today he actually got out beyond the gate that surrounds our school, and was on the sidewalk. Both times when that happened, I did run and physically catch him, because I couldn't let him get further than that. There was nobody around to help me. I don't have a radio, and if I did I would probably drop it and break it fifty times a day because it is hard to run with a radio in your pocket! So all I could do was outrun him, snatch the sleeve of his jacket, and then just scoop him up and carry him in... with him punching me in the face the whole way. He hits hard, for a little kid. Obviously it doesn't hurt as much as if a grown adult hits you, but still.

He has a lot of rage, and aims it at me specifically. It is sometimes emotionally hard for me. I really don't mind him hitting me. But he also gets angry and shouts at me to go away, to stop "following" him, When he tells me to go away, the social worker and principal tell me to go take a break, which is supposed to help him deescalate, but often makes me feel a little like I've been sent to time out by a six-year-old!

The school district sent a behavior specialist to come spend time with him, and she helped make a behavior plan for him, but it seems to have gotten worse instead of better. The new plan lets him earn rewards for being safe, but not for doing work (because they try to pick the one most severe behavior to try to work with first) so now he will not do work. I try to make his work into games... for instance I spent a lot of time making paper "footballs" with his sight words written on them, and I found a little mini finger football game at Dollar Tree, so he could read the words and then flick them through the little goal post.... but he will play the game and still refuse to do the work part. He would flick the paper footballs but he wouldn't read the words, and when I kept asking him to read them, he threw them at me instead.

 Up until recently, I was really excited to see that I was no longer experiencing anxiety about going to work, because I actually looked forward to seeing my co-workers and even to the challenge of finding ways to teach Tizzy. But now it is more like a feeling of dread. I feel like I'm failing at my job, and failing Tizzy,

Its almost the end of the school year, though, so I just have to get through it. It will still break my heart to say goodbye to him when school ends though.

On a happier note... this past weekend I got to go to the sanctuary farm that is near where I live, and spend some time with the animals. I brushed the goats, raked out the barn, fed snacks to everyone, rubbed a pig's belly, and spent a lot of time with a goose. The goose is the sweetest goose you will ever meet. He mostly just followed me around everywhere I went, honking loudly until I would stop and pet him or hold him. He does try to scare away the other animals because he wants all the attention... when the dog would try to come near me to ask me to throw his ball, the goose would chase him away, and then come strutting back to me, honking and flapping his wings around, amused with himself. He really is a silly goose.

Here is a picture of me hanging out with one of the pigs, and with my goose buddy. Whenever I go to the farm, I am so happy, and when I come back I can't stop talking about it. I love the animals. And it is nice to spend time taking care of people who don't turn around and punch you in the stomach! (The goose does nibble my clothes sometimes if he thinks I'm not paying enough attention to him, but they are mostly a very gentle and loving crowd.)

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Face Plant

Tizzy sometimes likes to point out to me that I have what he calls a "terrible life." He points this out whenever I come into some sort of mishap. He likes to list the things that have happened to me, such as the time when I was running across the playground to help a substitute bring in two AWOL kids (one of whom was Sandy) and I slipped in mud and was covered from head to toe. Or the time that Tizzy's best friend Bizzy threw a gym ball and hit me in the back of the head. Or the other time that Bizzy threw a basketball and hit me square in the face. (Neither time was on purpose... Bizzy just doesn't pay much attention to what he's doing. I've learned to stay away from him when he's playing with balls.)

I wonder what Tizzy will say when he finds out what happened to me this weekend?

It all started when I went to let the three dogs out into the back yard... my Lily, plus Roo, plus my little fuzzy buddy Roka whom I'm babysitting. I let them all out into the yard and I went with them, because I'm always paranoid about a coyote suddenly materializing in the yard to capture Lily or Roka. (Roo, who is a dingo, would probably be safe.) We went out the garage door, but the dogs collectively decided they wanted to go back in through the back porch door. Unfortunately, it was locked. So I started to run around the side of the house, so either some or all of the dogs would follow me back to the garage door, or I could go through the house and let them in through the back porch door.

But I am sort of like Bizzy, because I don't always pay much attention to what I am doing. So I didn't see the tomato hoop that was lying on the ground. I also didn't see the two concrete rectangle slabs that were inexplicably on the ground in front of me. So can you imagine what happened?

If you guessed, "Angel tripped on the tomato hoop, went flying into the air, skidded across the gravel and bashed her chin on the edge of the concrete slab," then you are correct!

It hurt, man. If you want to imagine how bad it hurt, go outside and bang your face against some concrete as hard as you can. Go ahead. I'll wait.

Back already? You chickened out! Don't lie to me!

For a minute I just lay there going, "Thhhhh.... aaaaaah! Thhhhhhhh... aaaaaaaah!" *

Then I realized my chin was bleeding. I tried opening and closing my mouth a few times and was glad to see that my skull seemed to still be in order, so I got up and hobbled the rest of the way to the garage door.

My aunt was busy opening the back porch door because she'd come along and noticed that all of the dogs were still standing there peering in through the window. I was like, "I fell down," and then they looked over and saw that I was bleeding, and then I just wanted to lie down on the couch and take a nap. I actually started crying, not sure why... I just suddenly felt really sad about having fallen on my face. Maybe my brain really did get knocked loose or something.

For the next several hours I felt really out of it... I just kept feeling like crying, and when I recovered from feeling so sad, I mostly just felt all fuzzy-headed and pukey, like I just wanted to lie down and take a nap. Which I eventually did, after I got back from where I was supposed to be going right after letting the dogs out, which was to Starbucks to meet my new potential roommates. But more about that later.

Anyways, to make a long story somewhat shorter, I've been left with a huge, pussy scab (now that I look at that phrase it doesn't look quite like how it sounds in my head. Pusy? Pussey?  Having pus? Either way, it is gross) a sore jaw, an earache (even though my ear didn't hit the ground at all), road burn on my palms, knees and chest, and an uncle who keeps trying to peer into my eyes to see if my pupils are dilated. I am going to miss work tomorrow and probably go to the doctor. I feel nervous about missing work but probably am in no shape to go. Judge for yourself... this is what I look like right now. This picture is so flattering. But at least I am smiling through it!

* Family Guy reference! 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

It's My Birthday And I'm Happy... But SOOOOOOO Tired

I've barely got the energy to write this, but I feel bad for not having written in this blog for a while! I've been even tireder than usual lately. I always wonder why I am so tired all the time, to the point of being exhausted by normal activities and completely wiped out by bigger-than-normal activities. I have thought of multiple theories why, including...

A. A medical reason. For instance I used to be anemic, but I take iron pills, and even when I wasn't taking them my most recent blood tests came back normal. The last time I had a physical exam I mentioned to the doctor that I was so tired all the time, but that I had felt like that for many years now. She just said, "Then maybe that is just normal for you."

B. Poor nutrition. Because I like sugar. I do try to eat vegetables and fruits and stuff, plus I take vitamins. Maybe I should be drinking more water or something.

C. The Spoon Theory.  I've mentioned this before. Basically it means people with things like autism, ADHD, and other conditions that are either mental, physical, etc, have an inconsistent level of energy each day... many days you can wake up with even less energy than you had before you fell asleep! It also is worth mentioning that people with various disorders use up more energy than other people, just doing ordinary every day activities. I want to live life to the fullest and so I am always trying to do BIG things, even though the little things alone are enough to leave me exhausted!

At any rate, depending on many things, work can either energize me or run me down. And for many months now, since I started, working with Tizzy has energized me. Trying to think of ways to teach him and help him has given me a reason for going to work each day, a reason to get up in the morning... whereas, when I was substituting, it was "just a job." I was seeing different kids and staff members every day, so it was just a day to day thing. Tizzy gave me more of a purpose. And I really like the people I work with. It's one of those classrooms where all the staff members are calm and have senses of humor and get along with each other and really care about the kids. So for months now I haven't even minded going to work.

But maybe I've been pushing myself too hard or something. I spend a lot of  "after work" time trying to think of things that will engage Tizzy, like kinesthetic learning activities (Blogger's spell check swears that "kinesthetic" isn't a word, for some reason) and games and what-have-you. I love figuring out things like that, and when I spend time planning things it is usually some sort of fun for me, but still, it takes a lot of time. And at work I spend a lot of time being physically active with Tizzy, whether it means chasing him through the parking lot to bring him back to the safety of school, peeling him down from the tables and walls, or trying to escort him down the hall to the social worker's office while he kicks and punches me. And the other part is that he is so angry a lot of the time, and he's always yelling at me to shut up or saying he hates me or screaming that some random thing (like him spilling his milk) is all my fault. I know it is not really me that he is angry at. The anger is inside him, and it is bigger than him, and he is a little boy and doesn't know how to deal with all that pain. But still, you absorb it, don't you. I love him and care about him, and I know what a sweet little boy he can be when he is happy. He is awesome when he is happy. There are days that I wish wouldn't end, because he is happy and we're having fun and things are good.

At any rate... I had an amazing weekend. Despite the fact that I was feeling sick on Thursday and Friday, on Saturday I went to a Meetup event at this place where there is random arts and craft supplies everywhere you look and for $11 you can use it all to make as many crafts as you want. I meant to go for an hour, but I ended up spending 3 hours working on a tactile board that I am going to bring to the special needs day camp I'll be working at over the summer. Then I got to go to PJ's house, where she gave me a haircut (I was getting kinda shaggy) and where I got to spend some time playing with one of my very favorite Border Collie friends. Then I went home and, I dunno, did random stuff like change the water in my fish tank and play with my dog. Today, when I woke up, I had a great blueberry pancake breakfast with my aunt and uncle, and then got to open my birthday presents... a Kindle Fire and a goat T-shirt from my aunt, a new backpack and some glitter pens from my mom... and went to my NAMI Walk-a-thon and then went out for pizza with my aunt and uncle. And now I am back at the house where I am dogsitting, and I am so tired that I wanted to go to bed when I first got home, even though it was only a little past five.

What was the point of this blog entry? I am so tired, I'm not even sure what I started out wanting to say here. Basically this... I love my job, but right now when I think of going there tomorrow, I want to hide under the bed and cry!  There's only four weeks left of school though... and then when it ends, I will really want to cry, because I will miss it so much.

I'm not very good at ending these blog entries neatly. So now, for your viewing pleasure, here is a picture of Lily with her birthday presents (her birthday was the 11th but we celebrated both of our birthdays together today,) She was stressed out because she couldn't decide which bone to chew on first!