xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' Yeah. Good Times.: October 2013

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Autism and Aggression: A Dive Bar post

First, a reminder that I don't write Dive Bar posts. For more information, see the tab up top. I do, however, write introductions, and all words above the horizontal line are belong to me.

My anonymous friend sent me this post today, with the disclaimer "I know we're not supposed to talk about autism and aggression," and I was like "we're not? Says who? Fuck THAT!" but she's right, really. Parents of kids with autism are only supposed to write about how awesome autism is, and how much it has changed our perspectives on life for the better. We're not supposed to talk about the hard stuff, because that would paint autism in a harsh light and that's not the message we're supposed to be sending, and as such we'll be accused of hating autistic people. We're supposed to shut our mouths and let the "experts" do the talking, even if said experts are (incorrectly) talking about our lives when they've never met us before. Well, I say fuck that. Get everything out on the table, good and bad, and then let's tackle it all at once. Don't hold back on your words because some people might (read: definitely will) be offended by it. These are our stories, and just because they're not pretty doesn't mean they're not true. The truth needs to be told, no matter what it says and who is saying it, and if you're one of those people who is advocating censorship in the name of "autism acceptance," then I say you're doing it wrong.

And now, please welcome my anonymous friend.....

Five Minute Squall

My son is genuinely a sweet boy. That's what I hear 99.9% of the time from friends, teachers, paras, and therapists. "He's just the sweetest boy!" I'm always happy to hear this. But somewhere in the recesses of my brain is a whisper, "You don't know him like I know him. You don't know how I sometimes walk on eggshells and how I fear my own child... and I thank God for that."

I want anyone reading this to know that this is a representation of maybe less than 1% of his actions. He's never been violent at school. His meltdowns there, if they happen, are only crying jags. When I say that I am his trigger, I mean that. I don't know why I am his trigger and soother.

My son is, currently, a very big boy; he's always been big for his age. He stands eight inches shorter than me and will soon outweigh me.

When he explodes, it's fast, it's hard, and it's like being body slammed by a raging bull. It's soul crushing and hurts in every aspect of the concept. Please note, I rarely, if ever, write about my son's aggression- because it's not something I'm comfortable writing about and it doesn't happen very often.

The reason for me writing this is that aggression and autism in children is something we're not supposed to talk about. Please understand, I am not trying to demean my son.

My son's aggression, for it being rare, is still frightening for both him and me. I'm sure that there are other parents who feel the same and yet don't want their child's aggression to be the only thing people think of when autism is mentioned.

My son is still a kid. I know that a good portion of these aggressive episodes are born out of frustration and fear of the unknown.

Yesterday, he came home from my friend’s house (she was watching the kids so that I could nap), crying that his face was burning. His face licking stim is back with a vengeance. His face is raw and chapped. He saw me, his identified trigger, and, after I closed the front door all hell broke loose. The squall was sweeping over us.

Minute one. I usher him, calmly, to the bathroom, where I can clean his face. He slaps me on my arms. I try to ignore it. His face needs to be cleaned. There is lint from his shirt embedded in his skin. It needs to come out. He is clearly in pain and is becoming more agitated. He's vocally stimming. He's howling. He shoves me hard into the wall. I calmly approach him, warm washcloth in hand, and say, "It's going to be okay, honey. Listen to Mommy. You're okay."

Minute two. My son is, clearly, not okay. It's as if he's stepped outside of his body and someone else has replaced my sweet son. He's screaming obscenities. I try to hold him, to calm him. He head butts me in the chest, it sends me to the floor. I get up, apply the "magic cream" which will help to heal his face.

Minute three. He doesn't want me anywhere near his face. Anywhere near his face. At this point, he's so far gone, I am speaking in low tones to him and hoping that this squall of an instance will pass soon. He shoves me again, this time I tumble back into the corner of the bathroom counter. I try to keep from yelping out in pain; if I make a sound, it will scare him and possibly prolong the squall. I go to him, hug him, and get him to sit down on the floor in my lap.

Minute four. I keep telling myself it was all a dream, a figment of my imagination as I rock my oversize kid in my lap. "Breath in...1....2....3....Breath out...1....2....3." This can't be real. I tell myself this every time. It just can't be real that my son, my sweet son, lashes out like this at me. So I keep rocking him, calming him down. His breathing regulates in jagged breaths. The squall is passing, leaving him and me in shambles. I try to keep my tears at bay. I can’t crack.

Minute five. "Mommy, why are we in the bathroom?" "Huh?" I'm dazed from being tossed around. My kidney hurts from where I hit the counter. My whole damned body hurts. I can see how unaware he is. He's blacked out again. He has no idea what has just happened, does he? I get him to stand up, I take his hand, we go into the living room where I turn on the television and put on a cartoon. That weird giggle is back, the one that makes me cringe and wonder if someone is possessing my son because it’s only in the aftermath of the squalls that I ever hear it. I hate that giggle.

In five minutes, my world was upended. Five minutes. It's just like a squall. He and I are the flotsam and jetsam left in the wake.

Those are the minutes that I wonder where my son goes. Who takes over his brain and body. Why I am his trigger and his soother. And when it will happen again.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

They say online friends aren't real friends

In December of 2002 I saw an episode of the Daily Show where Jon Stewart talked about the latest new craze in Christmas toys: Likes It Rough Elmo. At the time Child 1 was less than a year old and Elmo was a big part of our lives, so naturally I thought it was one of the funniest things I'd ever seen. Because, of course.

I went online to the Comedy Central website looking for a place where I could proclaim my undying appreciation for my latest discovery and there I found that they had message boards that were devoted to each of the shows that Comedy Central had on at the time (Beat the Geeks 4tw). I created an account using the only screen name I'd ever used before and made my peace. But then I came back to see what other people had to say..... and I started meeting people.

The CC message boards were a free for all text only cesspool of complete shit, with no rules, no moderators, and trolls running rampant. We yelled at each other about politics and the stories of the day, but first and foremost our purpose was to be funny. Our (my) greatest achievement was figuring out how to trick the code into letting curse words get posted. Conversations were had, friendships were formed, and ultimately the boards all went down in a giant blaze of ugliness. But we had made connections that we didn't want to lose, so we searched for a new place to call ours. After several iterations of message boards we ultimately settled down in our own, brand new message board home. That board was created on March 26, 2004.

This is what I look like over there

The years have gone by, people have come and gone, and the board still remains. We've been together through birth and death, through marriage and divorce, through trauma, through joy, through heartbreak, through wondrous excitement, through banality, through depression: through all the shit that people experience in a decade. We've argued politics, we've fought hard over the news of the day, it's been all about the funny, but in the end it's been about a community of very different people who have formed a bond. We've been close, we've been far, we've moved away, we've come back, we've gone in and out of contact, and we've all come back together.

Recently we learned that one of our own, jonfan2, doesn't have long to live. He was born with a congenital heart defect and wasn't expected to live past his 20s, but being the stubborn asshole that he is, now at 42 he's finally been given his last timeline. He posted about it on the board with the intent just to keep us posted on his status, but what he wasn't expecting was that we would all jump into action, pack up our shit and travel to where he was. I came from California but I didn't travel the farthest, Prolapse came from Canada; Juleska came from Afghanistan. We rented a house on a lake in Michigan, dressed up like characters from Alice in Wonderland and we roasted him. It was hilarious and awesome and sad and depressing and wonderful and terrible and absolutely perfect. Because.... of course.

It's been 11 years since I created that account on the Comedy Central board, and right now I'm sitting in a chair in a house in some city I don't even know the name of, in a state I've never been before, surrounded by people I've seen in person only once before or never before. And we all did this, we packed up our stuff and we came out here to celebrate the life of a man we'd all only met in person once or had never met before. Because that's what friends do; that's what real friends do for each other. And it doesn't matter that we'd *only* been words on a screen and screen names to each other for 11 years, because words on a screen and screen names makes you friends just as much as speaking on the phone or having lunch once a month.

A tweet I saw a while back that made me want to write this post

So, to anybody that would say that an online friend isn't a real friend, I present you with us. Our group of friends. Online friends. Is knowing someone online the same as really knowing them?  I say yes. Yes it is. It is the same, or maybe even more. And if that hasn't been your experience, I'm sorry for you. I'm sad that you don't know what I know, because you have missed out. Not just because your experience has been different, but because you haven't opened your heart enough to let the words on the screen in. Words on a screen are people just as much as a face you can see in front of you or a voice you hear over the phone. Just because we *only* type to each other doesn't mean that we don't know each other. It doesn't mean that we don't care, or worry, or wonder.... or love.

Currently, though, I'm just pissed that jonfan2 won't give me his chili recipe. He says I have to wait until he dies before he'll let me have it. Whatever. Dick.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

How you can tell it's hot here right now

Y'know..... other than the ... fact....  that.....  it's really hot here right now...